More discussion on the blogs
|During October a couple of postings have been made on the subject of Monotheism, to which I have since referred. Now, Chris Tilling of Chrisendom, a graduate student at Tubingen, has also written on this subject and posted some references (about which I have also posted a comment). Of even greater interest is another response to Chris in which Nick Norelli points us to his blog where he has listed a number of articles on the subject. Well done Nick! His is good research, that may even cause some to view monotheism differently. The great difficulty for Christianity is to read Scripture in context and not through a metaphysic of ontology!|
San Diego exhibition draws more comment
Norman Golb of the
However, Golb’s thesis that all the Scrolls were removed from
In my view, Golb’s latest paper highlights how difficult it is to take a complex issue such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and produce something that will be of genuine interest to the public. Despite the shortcomings that Professor Golb sees in the catalogue, the San Diego Natural History Museum bookstore, conveniently located at the end of the display, is replete with books on the subject. These include Golb’s own book, Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls? The Search for the Secret of
Useful introductions to the study of Paul and his writings
Two additional books that I omitted from my posting about reading material on Paul are:
Bassler, Jouette, Navigating Paul: An Introduction to Key Theological Concepts, Louisville: Westminister Johhn Knox Press, 2007
Horrell, David G. An Introduction to the Study of Paul, New York; T&T Clark, 2006
I've added these to the list published last week.
On a personal note, Jouette Bassler was one of my first instructors in graduate school at SMU's Perkins School of Theology.
Inscribed rock back in news
The discovery of an inscribed rock located in a wall at an archaeological site in Israel continues to make the news. TodaysPittsburg Post has an interview with the person in charge of the dig, Professor Ron Tappy. It appears that Ron Tappy is postulating that the inscription was done for magical reasons rather than scribal practice. We discussed the inscription here in Vision.
The rock with its alphabetical inscription is also on the program for discussion at the forthcoming ASOR conference in San Diego.
Thanks to Jim Davila of PaleoJudica for the tip.
A friend asked for some recommended titles to read on Paul. That's a challenge as the number of books written about Paul and his Epistles are the largest collection of books on the Bible in any library. In an attempt to provide some titles, I’ve divided the books into sections ranging from very introductory material to more specific works.
The following give a good introduction for a lay person, and introduce a reader to the issues that are to be considered. Although largely written in the 90’s, these are still available on line at Amazon as one potential source. Sometimes they have a later imprint date than the version listed.
Gager, John G. Reinventing Paul.
Horrell, David G. An Introduction to the Study of
Sanders, E. P. Paul.
Wenham, David. Paul and Jesus; The True Story.
Wright, N. Tom. What
Young, Brad H. Paul the Jewish Theologian: A Pharisee Among Christians, Jews and Gentiles.
To address some of the more specific areas of Paul’s writings, my suggestions include the following. Although one commentary is listed here, it is more for what is contained in the Appendix to the book, rather than the commentary itself.
Bassler, Jouette, Navigating Paul: An Introduction to Key Theological Concepts,
Esler, Philip F. Conflict and Identity in Romans: The Social Setting of Paul's Letter.
Hengel, Martin. The Pre-Christian Paul.
Sanders,E. P. Paul, the Law and the Jewish People.
Wenham, David. Paul, Founder of Christianity or Follower of Christ.
Ziesler, J. A. Pauline Christianity.
For more advanced study purposes, then I would recommend the following:
Bird, Michael. The Saving Righteousness of God: Studies on Paul, Justification and the New Perspective. Edited by Howard I Marshall, Richard J. Bauckham, Craig Blomberg, Robert P Gordon and Temper Longman III. Paternoster Biblical Monographs.
Hafemann, Scott J. Paul, Moses and the History of
Tomson, Peter J. Paul and the Jewish Law: Halakha in the Letters of the Apostle to the Gentiles. Van Gorcum,
Wright, N. T. The Climax of the Covenant.
Ziesler, John. Righteousness in the Writings of Paul.
The Tomson and Ziesler books would probably only be found in an academic library, but if accessible, are well worth referencing.
Lastly the following individuals writing on Paul has only been in journals. However Pamela Eisenbaum, as a Jewess, brings a very interesting and useful perspective to Pauline studies.
Eisenbaum, Pamela. "A Remedy for Having Been Born of Woman: Jesus, Gentiles, and Genealogy in Romans." Journal of Biblical Literature 123, no. 4 (2004): 671-702.
And finally, anything by Martin Hengel, or E P Sanders, is worth a read. They, perhaps more than others have done much of the foundational work in this area.
James Crossley examines the subject
James Crossley, University of Sheffield, examines the definition of monotheism in his blog today as part of his promotion of his contribution to a new book. Published in Paris, this title does not presently appear on Amazon's listings in the US.
Claim of greed made again
April DeConick writes in her blog about the motivation and approach of the National Geographic in undertaking the translation of the Gospel of Judas. DeConick basically agrees with our article that money appears to be the prime motivation rather than the understanding of the document.
An interesting read from someone who is very involved in the subject.
April continues to outline her concerns here.
Norman Golb speculates on the use of the recently discovered tunnel
Writing in The Daily Jewish Forward, Norman Golb opines about the use of the recently discovered tunnel that led to the pool of Siloam as one of the escape routes from
Leen Ritmeyer to lecture in Southern California
Leen Ritmeyer who was the architect for the late Professor Binyamin Mazar on the Temple Mount excavations conducted in the late 1960's and 70's is to visit California as part of the ASOR meeting in San Diego, November 14-16. He will speak on the following occassions.
Leen notes: "About 10 years ago, I gave a lecture at the same venue, which was well attended by an enthusiastic audience. I look forward to being there again."
Panel to discuss two new books on subject at SBL in San Diego
Todays mail brought with it an invitation from Hendrickson's, publishers, to attend a panel discussion of two new books that have recently been published -- Jewish Believers in Jesus, by Oskar Skarsaune and Reidar Hvalvik of Norway, and Jewish Christianty Reconsiderededited by Matt Jackson-McCabe. (Amazon link has at least two misspellings that I noticed). The discussion will be held Monday, November 19, in San Diego during the AAR/SBL conferences. Looking at the list of those taking part in the review, this will be one session I will definitely be attending.
Oskar Skarsaune and Reidar Hvalvik were at the Patristics Conference in Oxford that I notedhere. I had the chance to speak with Reidar and hear his paper, but was unable to catch up with Oskar on that occassion. Perhaps this time.
To question the unquestionable.
Mark Goodacre raises this question over at New Testament Gateway. Mark has been reading Paula Fredriksen’s articles that are now posted on line and has noted her handling of the subject. One article of Paula’s that I can’t find listed on line is one from the 1992 Bible Review in which she first posed the question. The articles to which Mark refers address this same question.
“… something of a puzzle to explain how a group of Jews, known best of all in antiquity for their absolute insistence on the oneness of God and their refusal to grant worship to any other, should come in the middle of the first century to worship the man Jesus of Nazareth, whom they call the Messiah. The question becomes even more puzzling when you consider that those Jews who believed in Jesus gave him titles apparently ascribing to him qualities and actions previously reserved for God alone” (Paula Fredriksen, Bible Review, December 1992, 14-15).
On a similar note, I’m presently going through Alan Segal’s book entitled “Two Powers In Heaven: Early Rabbinic Reports about Christianity and Gnosticism”. This was a redo of his doctoral dissertation at Yale, first published in 1977, but recently republished by Brill in 2002.
See Vision article: Monotheism
Latest atlas of archaeology looks at earth from space
The internet continues to revolutionize the world of study especially in providing visual imagery. The latest addition is an atlas of archaeology based on images taken from space by satellite and other ventures. The ArchAtlas is the brain child of the late Professor Andrew Sherratt who spent 30 years involved in archaeology. The atlas had its first airing with a trial project in 2000, but now makes its full debut on the web at http://www.archatlas.org/Home.php
Well done Professor and those at
'The Thirteenth Apostle: What the Gospel of Judas Really Says' is published
The Gospel of Judas has been previously discussed on this blog and in Vision. Now, Professor April DeConick of Rice University has expressed why she has undertaken to write on the subject and provide a different perspective of Judas, one which harmonises more with the traditional Gospel accounts. Writing on her blog today, April notes:
In reaching these conclusions, April places this Gospel squarely in the Sethian tradition.
Researchers from three Canadian Universities gather for Conference in British Columbia
Researchers from Canadian Universities meet together for a symposium with counterparts from Israel and the US to mark the 60th anniversary of the Scrolls discovery. The symposium was held at Trinity Western University in Langley, BC., and co-sponsored by the Canadian Bible Society and the Canadian Research Chair in Dead Sea Scrolls Study.
Heads up to Jim Davila and his PaleoJudaica for the references.
Exhibition changes in San Diego
The exhibition currently being held in San Diego has undergone a major change with new documents being made available for public viewing. Even if you have been already, this is worth a revisit.
According to comments by by Peter Flint recorded in The Canadian News, more people have viewed the exhibitions of the Dead Sea Scrolls that those of either the Titanic or King Tut.
The exhibition at the Natural History Museum in San Diego lasts until the end of December, 2007.
Compliments to Jim Davila of PaleoJudaica for the link.
“You get what you pay for!”
That sounds a strange maxim to consider with translations of the Bible. Don’t most Bibles in any translation cost about the same today?
The statement was made by an Emeritus Professor of Classics, Carl Conrad, who moderates the online B-Greek list. Conrad used the expression in relation to the approach used in translating Biblical texts.
Today two common approaches exist, literal, which has been the norm since the Bible was first translated into the vernaculars as a result of the Reformation. Since the 1940’s a new approach has been used which is called dynamic equivalence translation. This differs from the literal in that rather than translating word for word as the literal does and leaving the reader with a sense of “how do these words relate” or “how do I relate this to myself today”, a dynamic equivalence translation seeks to translate the intent and meaning rather than just the words themselves. Hence what is required of the reader is less with a dynamic equivalence translation than a literal.
The New English Bible (NEB) was the first translation to employ dynamic equivalence. The English Standard Version (ESV), which is a modernization of the Revised Standard Version (RSV), holds to a more literal approach.
In addressing this issue Conrad drew attention to a comment by fellow blogger, John Hobbins "ancient hebrew poetry" whom we have previously referenced. Speaking of John’s comment, Conrad stated:
It seems to me that what Hobbins has to say in this blog has a bearing on lots of the short-cuts adopted by those who are endeavoring to develop some level of competence in Greek, including interlinears, parsing guides, quick-fix glossaries, quickie reference grammars, all designed to pave the way to a grasp of Greek, to which, as Euclid reputedly told the first Ptolemy about geometry, "there is no royal road." The nicely-turned formulation at the end of this blog says, "A literary [literal] translation, in order to be understood, will push the reader beyond the limits of his or her already acquired knowledge. It may have to be read and reread, perhaps with the aid of explanatory notes. A dynamic translation aims to be instantly comprehensible. Fine. But make no mistake: with fast food, you get what you pay for."
How do you bridge the gap between these two approaches to translation? A maxim given frequently in graduate school went as follows: “If you aren’t going to learn and use the original languages, then you must use a variety of translations rather than relying on one alone.”
Researcher confirms linkage of signet ring to ancient Israelite Queen
A seal purchased in 1964 by a prominent archaeologist, Nahman Avigad has become the center of discussion again. Clearly dating from the 9th century BCE. Avigad postulated that it belonged to Jezebel, wife of King Ahab of
Now a researcher from the
A useful evaluation with photos and a reconstruction of the lettering is provided by Chris Heard, Associate Professor of Religion at
Additonal epigraphic considerations on the lettering on the seal which leads to the connection with Jezebel is given by Chris Rollston on the American Schools of Oriental Researchwebsite. Rollston disagrees with Marjo Korpel's reading.
Sermons by John Chrysostom queried
Thoughts on Antiquity raises the issue of John Chrysostom and his series of eight sermons against the christians of Antioch who fellowshipped in the Synagogues with the Jewish Community. The writer addresses the issue from the aspect of anti-semitism. In my mind, this issue needs more careful attention than it is ever given.
These sermons, given at the end of the 4th Century, almost 75 years after christianity was declared a religio licita by
Chrysostom’s diatribes—the Orthodox would consider them sermons--were delivered over a two year period against members of his congregation who went to the Synagogue to worship on Jewish Festivals. It would be easy to see people doing so on Passover and Pentecost as these Festivals were the precursors of the now accepted christian events of Easter and Pentecost itself. However, these weren’t the festivals in question. The festivals were those at the end of the cycle, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkoth.
And this wasn’t an isolated event. Chrysostom’s sermons were given over a two year period, indicative of the fact that the first dosage didn’t convince the congregants who celebrated the festivals the following year to earn an even greater diatribe from their bishop.
These festivals are not given the same attention in the New Testament as Passover, Unleavened Bread and Pentecost. However, they exist within the text. Jesus and his family as observant Jews kept Sukkoth (
The reason that “christianity” doesn’t keep these festivals differs from faith to faith, some seeing them as part of a ceremonial law and hence redundant, while others find no command in the New Testament to observe them and hence disregard them. Other evangelical groups find them an interesting way of trying to reach out to Jews and gather in
The question that really needs consideration is why people in 4th century
A careful unpacking of Chrysostom’s arguments would be useful to understand the reasoning that existed. Our thanks to Thoughts on Antiquity for raising the matter.
International involvement in the Supervision of the Temple Mount reported
Today’s online Jerusalem Post reports an interesting development relating to the supervision and oversight of the
While custody is reported to be given to Jordan, supervision of the temple mount will be given to an international body including the United Nations, Egypt, Jordan Israel and the Palestinian Authority according the to JPost report.
The report has been denied by the Prime Minister’s Office. Understandably, it has drawn fierce criticism from the religious parties in
Jordanian involvement with the
Did the writers of the New Testament quote from a Greek translation of Scripture?
A commonly held view of previous centuries is that the writers of the New Testament quoted from the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament Scriptures. This translation was purportedly undertaken in
This concept has been contested by many protestant writers who reject the idea of the LXX with its inclusion of the Apocryphal books, a canon accepted by the Catholic and Orthodox churches. Protestant traditions have almost universally followed the Jewish canon of Scripture and reject the Apocryphal books as opposed to the canon presented by the LXX.
Despite the differences in canons accepted by the church groups, a frequently held view is that the writers did use the Greek translations in their writings. However, current research calls into question the dogmatic “black and white” views of the past.
Prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, people accepted that there was simply one Greek translation of the Scriptures prior to the writing of the New Testament. Subsequent translations into Greek were made by
Such was not the case in the discoveries of
If alternative Greek texts existed in the first century, we could then raise the question of which Greek texts were used by the writers of the New Testament. Personally, I see that as the wrong question. In reality, the times of the writing of the New Testament were times of a largely oral society. People quoted source material from memory as they didn’t have personal copies to carry with them on their travels. The closest the writers would have been to any texts would have been the nearest synagogue to them.
Add to this, another factor that influenced the idea of the writers quoting a Greek translation of Scripture which is also now redundant. It was held that Hebrew was not spoken in the time of Christ and the early church hence everyone spoke Aramaic or Greek. Once again the Dead Sea Scrolls have dismissed that argument. Hebrew was at least spoken in the synagogue and it is possible to create a scenario where people were able to converse in several languages. So writers of the New Testament who had lived in Judaea and
What then of the quotations of Scripture. In reality, rather than sending a messenger to the local synagogue to copy out a section of Scripture so that it could be quoted verbatim, a person such as Paul would have quoted from memory and possibly even translated from Hebrew to Greek themselves as part of the writing project. Hence the idea of locating an exact form of Scriptures which the writers used requires that we consider in what language the writers learned of the Scriptures to commit them to memory.
The idea of committing Scripture to memory may be unbelievable to we who live in the 21st Century, inundated with a deluge of information and knowledge. Yet in the first century, the simple cost of writing and of the materials for writing meant that little was written. No daily newspapers, magazines, libraries or radio, television, videos or the internet existed to occupy people’s time, hence what was read or heard was committed to memory.
So the simplistic model of previous centuries needs to be reconsidered. In fact considering the use of memory, and the possibility of writers translating from Hebrew to Greek for their own purposes, raises a question about Origen’s editing of the LXX that we have today. Did he amend various Old Testament Scriptures to read exactly as they appeared in the New Testament quotations? This charge has been leveled against Origen in the past. It may bear further study.
The Need for 'Caveat Emptor'
The well used maxim, caveat emptor -- let the buyer beware, highlights the need for careful consideration in all areas of life in a world increasingly given to sensational claims. Its application to Archaeology is well set out in an article by Eric Cline, published in the Boston Globe.
The desire of individuals and groups to establish every word of the Bible by historical or archaeological remains, while fascinating is not the basis of a true relationship with our Creator. The Bible itself constantly affirms that such a relationship has to be established on faith.
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