Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament III/2 – From Modernism to Post-Modernism (The Twentieth Century)

The final volume in this extensive series is as impressive as its predecessors.  A visit to the publisher’s page will allow potential readers of this volume to see its contents by means of a flip book.  Noteworthy among them are these:

  • The Legacy of the Literary-critical School and the Growing Opposition to Historico-critical Bible Studies. The Concept of ‘History’ Revisited –Wirkungsgeschichte and Reception History, By John Barton.
  • Contemporary Methods in Hebrew Bible Criticism, By David J. A. Clines.
  • The Significance of the Old Testament in Twentieth Century Systematic Theology, By Manfred Oeming.
  • Studies in the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament in the Americas of the Twentieth Century, By Douglas A. Knight.

But the core of the volume, the apex of its achievement, is the chapter titled Questions of the ‘History of Israel’ in Recent Research, By Jean Louis Ska, which includes these subsections:

The Debate around the so-called “Copenhagen and Sheffield School”, and Histories of Ancient Israel from 1970 up till 2013.  We shall return shortly to a more in depth examination of these sections because they are – for the present reviewer – exceedingly important.

Also worth noting are The Phenomenon and Literature of Wisdom in Its Near Eastern Context and in the Biblical Wisdom Books, By Knut M. Heim; and the very, very imaginative and useful Modern Theories of Translation with Special Regard to Recent Bible Translations, By Jan de Waard.

As promised mere moments ago it’s at this juncture that a further look at The Debate around the so-called “Copenhagen and Sheffield School”, and Histories of Ancient Israel from 1970 up till 2013 are in order.

After offering an extensive bibliography of the major players in the ‘mini-maxi’ controversy and briefly rehearsing the beginning of the conflict, Ska remarks

The positions of the so-called Copenhagen School are shared by scholars teaching in Sheffield. There are sometimes called “minimalists” by their adversaries. This derogatory term was coined for the first time by W. W. Hallo, it seems. In reaction, the Copenhagen School dubbed their critics “maximalists” (p. 423).

He continues

The main theses of the Copenhagen School are two. First, the Bible does not contain reliable documents that can enable a historian to reconstruct Israel’s past. Second, the term “Israel” itself is problematic since it does not correspond to any historical reality. It represents rather the projection of a religious ideal born in the Hellenistic period when the books of the Bible were composed (p. 424).

Ska is not wrong on any of those points. Nor is he incorrect when he observes on the same page as the last citation:

They reject theses based on analogies and correspondences as the disciples of W.F. Albright used to do, as they reject the reconstructions dear to the historical-critical method. They find a firm ground for historical research on Israel’s history only in the Hellenistic period, close to the time of the first Qumran documents. Moreover, the purpose of biblical texts is not to inform about the past, but to create a common consciousness and a sense of belonging to a religious community called “Israel”. The biblical writers are similar to antiquarians who collect memories about the past, but without much critical sense.

Indeed- but why would they not reject theses based on speculation which is itself based on speculation? Nonetheless their foes, the maxis, tried to ground their speculation on even more speculation. As Ska notices-

The adversaries retort to these affirmations that biblical texts are reliable testimonies to the past unless they can be falsified. Or, to put it with K.A. Kitchen, who repeats a well-known axiom of logic, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” (p. 425).

As I noted some time back (in numerous places), the real quip with which to respond to the maximalists is “absence of evidence is evidence of absolutely nothing”. It is the argument from silence, which the maximalists in general and Kitchen in particular love so well.

Ska concludes his cogent and even-handed observations thusly:

Two remarks only to conclude this short review. First, the two points of view are incompatible because of fundamental divergences about what historical evidence is and how to write “history”. Second, there are still some problems which remain unsolved. For instance, given that the Bible uses the past to create an ideal future, what kind of “past” did biblical writers use? Given that the biblical writers were guided by antiquarian motivations, why did they start working only in the Hellenistic period? On the other hand, if we can paraphrase the Bible, should we also paraphrase its tensions and contradictions? And what shall we do when there are clear tensions between the biblical and archaeological data, or between biblical and extra-biblical texts? (p.425).

And so Ska throughout: an even-handed, fair, concise, precise setting forth of the evidence as drawn from the primary sources composed by interpreters, historians, and exegetes, and, more broadly, so too the method of all the contributors not only to this particular volume but to the entire series.

The cast of characters who make up the contributors to this volume is an impressive ‘who’s who’ of first tier highly respected world renowned biblical scholars. These are not outsiders looking in on the discipline but insiders looking around. Their sharp eyes and their familiarity with the sources and the fields which they examine make this an absolutely brilliant, brilliant accomplishment.

Your library, at least, must obtain the series. You should as well, for your personal library. Even if doing so consumes your book budget for the year. Readers will find themselves not only lost in it, but returning to it with the regularity with which one returns to a lexicon or a grammar.

Remembering, By Name, The Victims of the Charleston Church Shooting

Charleston County Coroner Rae H. Wooten identified the victims by name and age Thursday afternoon, though she did not immediately provide spellings or other personal information.

  1. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41, was the church’s pastor and a South Carolina state senator.
  2. Depayne Middleton Doctor, 49, sang in the church choir, the Charleston newspaper reported.
  3. Ethel Lance, 70, worked for 30 years at the church, a relative told the Post and Courier.
  4. Susie Jackson, 87, a longtime church member, was Lance’s cousin, the newspaper reported.
  5. Cynthia Hurd, 54, was branch manager of the St. Andrews Regional Library, just a few miles from the church where she was killed.
  6. Tywanza Sanders, 26, was a 2014 graduate of Charleston’s Allen University.
  7. Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, was a church pastor and high school track and field coach, according to the Post and Courier.
  8. Myra Thompson, 59, was an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority,according to the Greenville News.
  9. Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74, who died at the hospital, was a retired pastor from another Charleston church, ABC News reported.

Requescat in pace.

Fathers…

edwardsGod is the highest good of the reasonable creature; and the enjoyment of him is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams, but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.–  Jonathan Edwards

Archaeology as an Instrument of Politics and Policy in Israel

There’s a very finely written essay here which focuses on the misuse to which archaeology is put in Israel in the service of ideology and politics.

Comme le rappelait le Professeur Thomas Römer dans un récent article consacré à la reconnaissance de son travail biblique par l’Université de Tel-Aviv, «l’archéologie nécessite un travail d’interprétation». Or cette interprétation, dans le contexte extrêmement complexe du conflit israélo-palestinien, court le risque de dépendre des objectifs politiques du gouvernement qui la finance.

Depuis la création de l’Etat d’Israël en 1948, le discours historique et identitaire d’Israël met en avant la présence du peuple israélite en Judée et Samarie bien avant celle d’autres peuples, qui seraient, eux, arrivés ultérieurement. Certaines écoles d’archéologie se sont ainsi attelées à fouiller la terre afin de redécouvrir ces vestiges de l’époque biblique, une tâche somme toute légitime du travail archéologique. Dans le contexte d’occupation actuel, l’archéologie se voit parfois cependant instrumentalisée par le politique afin de justifier non seulement la présence historique du peuple juif en terre sainte, mais bien davantage l’occupation de la Cisjordanie, considérée par une partie des Israéliens comme appartenant au Grand Israël, Eretz Israel. Au-delà des vestiges bibliques, les fouilles archéologiques sont alors menées dans l’intention d’acquérir des terres convoitées.

Etc.  Enjoy.

It Seems Right to Turn to the Heidelberg Catechism Today

Which begins this way:

Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, (a) am not my own, (b) but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; (c) who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, (d) and delivered me from all the power of the devil; (e) and so preserves me (f) that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; (g) yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, (h) and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, (i) and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him. (j)

______________

(a) Rom.14:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. Rom.14:8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. (b) 1 Cor.6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (c) 1 Cor.3:23 And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s. Tit.2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (d) 1 Pet.1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 1 Pet.1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 1 John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:12 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. (e) Heb.2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 1 John 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. John 8:34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. John 8:35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (f) John 6:39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 2 Thess.3:3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. 1 Pet.1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (g) Matt.10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. Matt.10:30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Matt.10:31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 21:18 But there shall not an hair of your head perish. (h) Rom.8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (i) 2 Cor.1:20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. 2 Cor.1:21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; 2 Cor.1:22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. 2 Cor.5:5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Eph.1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Eph.1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. Rom.8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (j) Rom.8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 1 John 3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

John Calvin on Murder and Intent

All violence, injury, and any harmful thing at all that may injure our neighbor’s body are forbidden to us. We are accordingly commanded, if we find anything of use to us in saving our neighbors’ lives, faithfully to employee it; if there is anything that makes for their peace, to see to it; if anything harmful, to ward it off; if they are in danger, to lend a helping hand.

He who has merely refrained from shedding blood has not therefore avoided the crime of murder. If you perpetrate anything by deed, if you plot anything by attempt, if you wish or plan anything contrary to the safety of the neighbor, you are considered guilty of murder. Again, unless you endeavor to look out for his safety according to your ability and opportunity, you are violating the law with a like heinousness. –– Institutes II.viii.39

[With thanks to Bryan Bibb for the timely reminder]

I Have A second Monitor Hooked Up…

But I have no idea at all how to open stuff on it.  And why isn’t there a taskbar?  My goal, you see, is to have material on the monitor on the left which I am translating so I don’t have to shrink the doc window or have half windows open.  So, how do I open something on mr. monitor on the left?

IMG_6066UPDATE:  It’s all set up and working now.  Glory!

IMG_6067I’ve decided I like side by side better than slightly left elevated:

IMG_6068

Quote of the Day: Pope Francis on Abortion

“Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? “If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away”. – Francis

Amen.

Zwingli On Murder and Like Matters

zwingli_ducatIn one of his very earliest writings, The Laybyrinth, Zwingli astutely observes

In us there is no love of God, which would turn aside from as much evil, and would lead us to despise all earthly treasures, in order to gain God more easily. The world is so full of deceit that we have no more the image of Christ than the heathen.

Yea we are worse; for the heathen do all deliberately, so that repentance and misery does not come over them. We, on the other hand, in our conceit hurry all matters along thoughtlessly. Therefore we are all in trouble. Whoever commits crime and murder is considered a bold man. Did Christ teach us that? “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” [John 15:13.]

The sickness of our society is demonstrated every time someone grabs a gun and takes a life.  Every time.

Reformation Celebrations are Kicking off in Zurich

They had 57 delegates from mission 21 there last Saturday, from their partner mission (mission 21, formerly Basel Mission). They were from a variety of different countries of the Americas, Asia and Africa.  More such activities will take place in the future and should you have an opportunity to attend any of them, do!  [The following photos are courtesy of Martin Breitenfeldt and there are many more here]

Hey Left-Leaners Lauding ‘Laudato Si’, Why Aren’t You Talking About Francis’ Condemnation of Abortion?

Is it an inconvenient truth you wish to ignore whilst only embracing those bits of the Encyclical which align with your pro nature anti-human agenda?  That’s rather the same method of picking, choosing, and disregarding of a text which you condemn in Christian reading of Scripture.  What’s wrong, can’t recognize your own hypocrisy?

In his new encyclical on the environment, Pope Francis slams attacks against human life such as abortion, embryonic experimentation and population control – saying that respect for creation and human dignity go hand in hand. The Pope explained that “a sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings.” “At times we see an obsession with denying any pre-eminence to the human person; more zeal is shown in protecting other species than in defending the dignity which all human beings share in equal measure,” he said.

BAM!

While the 184-page encyclical wades into controversial topics such as climate change, it also aggressively argues that it is not possible to effectively care for the environment without first working to defend human life. It is “clearly inconsistent” to combat the trafficking of endangered species while remaining indifferent toward the trafficking of persons, to the poor and to the decision of many “to destroy another human being deemed unwanted,” the Pope stated. To have this attitude, he said, “compromises the very meaning of our struggle for the sake of the environment.”

BAM!  Read the whole, lefties, for a fuller portrait of what the Enyclical is about.

Radical Israeli Settlers have Burned the Church of the Loaves and Fishes in Tiberias

tiberiasExtremist Israeli settlers on Thursday burned part of the church at the site where Christians believe Jesus performed a miracle by feeding 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, the Israeli fire brigade said. A verse from a Hebrew prayer denouncing the worship of “false gods” was spray painted in red on a church wall, suggesting Jewish zealots were responsible.

“Firefighters arrived at the scene … and (the fire) was put out, but extensive damage was caused to the church both inside and out,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. According to Reuters, a spokesman for the fire brigade said a preliminary investigation showed the blaze broke out in several places inside the church, evidence that it was started deliberately.

Barbarians.  It’s a beautiful church and such vandalism is absolutely unforgivable.  And if it were a Synagogue the media would be all over the story.  Let him who has ears, hear.