Zwinglius Redivivus

Sheila McGinn: She’s A Scholar You Should Know if you Don’t Already, And You Should

Posted in Bible, Biblical Studies Resources by Jim on August 18, 2014

9781451465501bShe’s brilliant.  And she has a new edited volume out that will surely be of interest to students of the New Testament.

Important ecclesiastical documents have stressed the urgency of addressing world hunger and put in the foreground its natural and historical causes, from famine to global austerity measures and welfare. Here biblical scholars examine passages from the Old and New Testaments, exploring the dynamics of hunger and its causation in ancient Israel and the Greco-Roman world and revealing the centrality of hunger concerns to the Bible.

Continuity and Discontinuity: Chronological and Thematic Development in Isaiah 40-66

Posted in Bible, Biblical Studies Resources, Book Review, Books, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht by Jim on August 18, 2014

978-3-525-53614-8This volume of collected essays focuses on the relationship between the different texts within Isaiah 40–66. It reinvestigates and challenges the traditional division between chapters 40–55 and 56–66 and explores new ways of reading the last 27 chapters of the book of Isaiah. Each article examines Isaiah 40–55 and/or Isaiah 56–66 and highlights continuity and discontinuity within this material.

Some contributions belong to the tradition of historical-critical research. They examine existing models of textual development of Isa 40–66 and offer new suggestions. They also explore the interplay between the historical development of the text and its thematic continuity and discontinuity. Is the consistent use of a theme a sign of single authorship? Alternatively, are changes in the way a given issue is treated a sign of multiple authorship? Other contributions explore the final form of Isa 40–66 and suggest reading strategies that do justice to the message of the extant text. Yet other articles make case studies of specific elements of Isa 40–66. What is the significance of these texts for the theological development of the ancient Israelite religion? Further, how do they interact with and transform other texts in the Hebrew Bible?

The volume is comprised of the following:




If the present work demonstrates anything, it is that we have come a very long way from the early days of the historical-critical method as practiced on the book of Isaiah.  Along with the introductory essay, that by Barstad is particularly insightful and full of helpful guidance on the subject.   He discusses the general view of scholars concerning the book, then discusses why a new reading is necessary which is followed and illustrated by a series of test cases including Isaiah 56:1-8, 59, and 56:3-12.   His conclusion is that we can no longer

… keep up artificial scholarly units (p. 61)

like Proto, Deutero, and Trito Isaiah.  He continues, suggesting that, as he sees it,

… the by far most important message in Isaiah 56-66 is promotion and upgrading of the Sabbath in the Jerusalem congregation (p. 61).

Each of the essays in the volume is like that.  That is, they address common presumptions concerning various aspects of Isaiah 40-66 and then either debunk them or turn the focus towards another aspect (or facet) of the 2nd and 3rd Isaiah.

While each contribution has merits of its own, the outstanding pieces, for this reviewer, were those of Barstad, Blenkinsopp, Schaper, Schmid, and Williamson.  Schmid’s is the most technically demanding and Blenkinsopp’s the most engaging in presentation.  The volume itself sprang from a conference of the same title held at the University of Aberdeen October 7-8 in 2011.  If interested persons are looking for further descriptions of the essays herein, they can simply go to the link above and there they will discover the Table of Contents along with the Foreword, where each essay is summarized by the volume’s editors and nearly half of the first essay on the History of Research.

This volume will be of interest to students of the Hebrew Bible and in particular those working specifically on the second and third segments of the Isaianic corpus.  I can recommend it without hesitation.  Readers will learn a good bit, and enjoy themselves while doing so.

[Those wanting to can get it from V&R or in North America from ISD].

Short Stories By Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi

Posted in Bible, Biblical Studies Resources, Book Review, Books by Jim on August 18, 2014

I appreciate Amy-Jill arranging for a copy from HarperCollins of her new book.

9780061561016The renowned biblical scholar, author of The Misunderstood Jew, and general editor for The Jewish Annotated New Testament interweaves history and spiritual analysis to explore Jesus’ most popular teaching parables, exposing their misinterpretations and making them lively and relevant for modern readers.

Jesus was a skilled storyteller and perceptive teacher who used parables from everyday life to effectively convey his message and meaning. Life in first-century Palestine was very different from our world today, and many traditional interpretations of Jesus’ stories ignore this disparity and have often allowed anti-Semitism and misogyny to color their perspectives.

In this wise, entertaining, and educational book, Amy-Jill Levine offers a fresh, timely reinterpretation of Jesus’ narratives. In Short Stories by Jesus, she analyzes these “problems with parables,” taking readers back in time to understand how their original Jewish audience understood them. Levine reveals the parables’ connections to first-century economic and agricultural life, social customs and morality, Jewish scriptures and Roman culture. With this revitalized understanding, she interprets these moving stories for the contemporary reader, showing how the parables are not just about Jesus, but are also about us—and when read rightly, still challenge and provoke us two thousand years later.

This is going to be a treat.  My review will follow in the not too distant future here.

What’s the Best Translation of the Bible?

Posted in Bible by Jim on August 17, 2014


When people ask me that question I answer ‘In English, it’s the Revised English Bible (second to none). But in German, hands down, it’s the Zurich Bible. It’s superb.

Im Übrigen, liebe Brüder und Schwestern, bitten und ermuntern wir euch im Herrn Jesus, dass ihr so, wie ihr von uns unterwiesen worden seid, euer Leben zu führen und Gott zu gefallen – das tut ihr ja auch -, dass ihr auf diesem Weg immer noch weiter geht. 2 Ihr wisst ja, welche Weisungen wir euch im Auftrag des Herrn Jesus gegeben haben. 3 Das nämlich ist der Wille Gottes, eure Heiligung: dass ihr euch fernhaltet von der Unzucht, 4 dass jeder von euch in Heiligung und Würde mit seinem Gefäss, dem Leib, umzugehen wisse 5 – nicht in begehrlicher Leidenschaft wie die Heiden, die Gott nicht kennen – 6 und dass keiner sich hinwegsetze über seinen Bruder und ihn bei Geschäften übervorteile; denn über dies alles hat der Herr seine Strafe verhängt, wie wir euch schon früher gesagt und bezeugt haben. 7 Denn Gott hat uns nicht zur Unlauterkeit berufen, sondern zu einem Leben in Heiligung. 8 Darum: Wer solches missachtet, der missachtet nicht einen Menschen, sondern Gott, der doch seinen heiligen Geist in euch hineinlegt. 9 Über die Liebe unter Brüdern und Schwestern aber brauche ich euch nicht zu schreiben, seid ihr doch selbst von Gott gelehrt, einander zu lieben. 10 Und ihr tut es ja auch allen gegenüber, die zur Gemeinde gehören, in ganz Makedonien. Wir reden euch aber zu, liebe Brüder und Schwestern, darin noch verschwenderischer zu werden 11 und euer ganzes Streben darauf auszurichten, in Ruhe und Frieden zu leben, das Eure zu tun und mit den eigenen Händen zu arbeiten, wie wir es euch geboten haben. 12 Ihr sollt euch vorbildlich verhalten gegenüber denen, die nicht zur Gemeinde gehören, und auf niemanden angewiesen sein. (1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 ZUR)

“See, I Will Bring a Scroll Recounting What Befell Me”

Posted in Archaeology, Bible, Biblical Studies Resources, Book Review, Books by Jim on August 16, 2014

New from V&R (and available in America from ISD) and sent for review-

978-3-525-55062-5In January 2011, the David and Jemima Jeselsohn Epigraphic Center for Jewish History held its second international conference at Bar-Ilan University, dedicated to the memory of Professor Hanan Eshel, the founding academic director of the center who passed away on April 8th, 2010. This collection of articles, traces, when taken together, daily life in the land of Israel from the First Temple Period through the time of the Talmud, as seen in the various types of inscriptions from those periods that have been discovered and published. 

Schiffman’s summary of Hanan’s work serves as an introduction to the book. Ahtuv discusses the language and religious outlook of the Kuntilet ‘Ajrud inscriptions. Mazar and Ahituv survey the quite large corpus of short inscriptions found in Mazar’s excavation of Tel Rehov, south of Beth-Shean. Maeir and Eshel deal with four very short more-or-less contemporary inscriptions found at Tell es-Safi, identified as the major Philistine city of Gath. Demsky deals with the theoretical aspects of literacy in ancient Israel. Grabbe discusses the functions of the scribe during the Second Temple Period. Zissu, Langford, Ecker and Eshel report on both an Aramaic-language graffito and a Latin one, inscribed on the wall of a first and 2nd century CE oil press from of Khirbet ‘Arâk Hâla in the Judean Shephelah. Rappaport’s survey of Jewish coins from the Persian Period through the Bar-Kokhba Revolt, focusing on the Hasmonean coins. Amit describes a group of bread stamps and oil seals, in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin, found in different parts of the country. Klein and Mamalya describe two Byzantine Period Nabatean Christian burial sites and their epitaphs.

Thoughts on the Fortress Commentary on the Bible

Posted in Bible, Books by Jim on August 15, 2014

From FP on the facebook thing

fortressSee what select contributors have to say about their work on the Fortress Commentary on the Bible!

Author of Proverbs, Carole Fontaine, Andover Newton Theological School:

Q: Please comment on what you think is the most distinctive aspect of the Fortress Commentary on the Bible.

A: The Fortress Commentary on the Bible is special because it aims to distill the insights of expert scholarship and commentary, new methods, and attention to context of texts, all while producing a volume accessible to believers, students, general audiences, or members of other global faiths. It does not shy away from tracing the reception and impact of the text through time and region, into the issues of the day. In this way, the remarkable fluidity of the biblical tradition is shown to be an enduring piece of its vitality and relevance.

Check out more comments here!

Bauckham and Marshall on Jesus

Posted in Bible, Biblical Studies Resources by Jim on August 14, 2014

Guest Post: Chris Tilling on the Commentary

Posted in Bible, Biblical Studies Resources by Jim on August 13, 2014

the-person-the-pew-commentary-seriesDr Jim West has undertaken the phenomenal task of writing a commentary on every book of the Bible! And what strikes this reader most forcefully is its faithfulness to what it says on the tin: West’s efforts have been expended “for the person in the pew”.

In other words, one should not expect the usual exhaustive analysis of syntax, interpretive options, history of scholarship and such like. These commentaries are written so that the reader needs no theological education, and West presupposes no ability to read Greek or Hebrew. Anyone can read and understand these.

The result is like going through the biblical texts, with a scholarly pastor, who pauses to make a number of bite-sized observations on the way. And whatever one thinks of those annotations, anyone can follow and digest them. West writes with a heart for the church, and his unique character and love for scripture are obvious in these pages.

Dr. Chris Tilling
New Testament Tutor,
St Mellitus College & St Paul’s Theological Centre
24 Collingham Road, London. SW5 0LX

Guest Post: Athalya Brenner on the Commentary

Posted in Bible, Biblical Studies Resources by Jim on August 13, 2014

the-person-the-pew-commentary-seriesAthalya has been nice enough to read one of the commentaries and sends along these remarks:

Jim West is a man of very decided opinions. However, and this is much to his credit, in the Commentary I’ve read he does not advocate his opinions about Scripture. What he does is explain and simplify, working from the original language, without being simplistic. And this is to be commended.

I think that summarizes things quite well.

Language Studies: An Observation

Posted in Bible, Biblical Studies Resources, Theology by Jim on August 11, 2014

Exegetes of the biblical text who do a minimum of linguistic studies are minimal expositors.


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