Ein Gott, der straft und tötet? Zwölf Fragen zum Gottesbild des Alten Testaments

This looks fascinating.  The issue of Theodicy has been an interest of mine for a very long time.

Das Buch ist so angelegt, dass das Thema in fünf Themenkreisen – Gericht und Vergeltung, Willkür und Gewalt, Zorn und Rache, Leiden und Sünde, Opfer und Sühne – sowie einem Einleitungs- und einem Schlusskapitel entfaltet wird. Es plädiert für ein umfassendes Reden von Gott jenseits der falschen Alternative »Lieber Gott« – »Böser Gott«. Ein Gott, der straft und tötet – und in dessen Namen Menschen strafen und töten? Ist das Alte Testament, das von einem solchen Gott spricht, nicht überholt und deswegen auch verzichtbar?

Während sich die einen ein Christentum ohne Altes Testament nicht vorstellen können, möchten die anderen es am liebsten aus der christlichen Bibel verbannen – vielleicht bis auf den Psalter, der zusammen mit dem Neuen Testament in vielen Hotelzimmern als Nachttischlektüre bereitliegt, um seinen Lesern innere Einkehr zu ermöglichen. Gerade die Psalmen sind aber ein Sammelbecken für schwierige Gottesbilder. Dieses Buch versucht anhand von zwölf besonders brisanten Fragen Antworten darauf zu geben, ob das Alte Testament für die Artikulation des christlichen Glaubens unentbehrlich oder nicht eher verzichtbar ist.

Es ist so angelegt, dass das Thema in fünf Themenkreisen

– Gericht und Vergeltung, Willkür und Gewalt, Zorn und Rache, Leiden und Sünde, Opfer und Sühne – sowie einem Einleitungs- und Schlusskapitel entfaltet wird. Im Blick auf die Frage des Eingangskapitels

– Ein anderer, »böser« Gott? – geht der Autor von einem klaren Nein aus: Der Gott des Alten Testaments ist kein anderer als der des Neuen Testaments! Und schon gar nicht spricht das Neue Testament vom »lieben« und das Alte Testament vom »bösen Gott«. Deshalb plädiert das Schlusskapitel

– Ein Gott, der straft und tötet? – für ein umfassenderes Reden von Gott, das jenseits des schlichten Duals »Lieber Gott« versus »Böser Gott« liegt. Jedoch scheint solche Einsicht gerade auch unter TheologInnen nicht mehr selbstverständlich zu sein. Diese Unselbstverständlichkeit ist der Anlass für das vorliegende Buch.

Prophets, Priests, and Promises: Essays on the Deuteronomistic History, Chronicles, and Ezra-Nehemiah

This collection of essays is forthcoming-

Shortly before his untimely death Gary Knoppers prepared a number of articles on the historical books in the Hebrew Bible for this volume. Many had not previously been published and the others were heavily revised. They combine a fine attention to historical method with sensitivity for literary-critical analysis, constructive use of classical as well as other sources for comparative evidence, and wide-ranging attention to economic, social, religious, and political circumstances relating in particular to the Persian and early Hellenistic periods. Knoppers advances many new suggestions about significant themes in these texts, about how they relate one to another, and about the light they shed on the various communities’ self-consciousness at a time when new religious identities were being forged.

Johann Jakob Wettstein’s Principles for New Testament Textual Criticism

In Johann Jakob Wettstein’s Principles for New Testament Textual Criticism Silvia Castelli investigates the genesis, development, and legacy of Wettstein’s criteria for evaluating New Testament variant readings. Wettstein’s guidelines, the Animadversiones et cautiones, are the first well-organized essay on New Testament text-critical methodology, first published in the Prolegomena to his New Testament in 1730 and republished with some changes in 1752. In his essay, Wettstein presents a new text-critical method based on the manuscripts’ evidence and on the critic’s judgment. Moving away from the authority invested in established printed editions, Wettstein’s methodology thus effectively promotes and enhances intellectual freedom. The second part of this volume offers a critical text and an annotated English translation of Wettstein’s text-critical principles.

Brill have graciously provided a review copy.

Violence in the Hebrew Bible

In Violence in the Hebrew Bible scholars reflect on texts of violence in the Hebrew Bible, as well as their often problematic reception history. Authoritative texts and traditions can be rewritten and adapted to new circumstances and insights. Texts are subject to a process of change. The study of the ways in which these (authoritative) biblical texts are produced and/or received in various socio-historical circumstances discloses a range of theological and ideological perspectives. In reflecting on these issues, the central question is how to allow for a given text’s plurality of possible and realised meanings while also retaining the ability to form critical judgments regarding biblical exegesis. This volume highlight that violence in particular is a fruitful area to explore this tension.

A review copy has arrived.  More anon.

Get Yourself a Commentary on the Entire Bible

Which one?  Well I’m glad you asked.  You can get the PDF edition of the entire series for a shockingly low  $75.  The books are all available by clicking my PayPal Link.  When you send your payment include your email address please and the books will be sent along quite quickly.  It’s a very good series if I do say so.  Aimed at layfolk and general readers, it is the only modern commentary on the entire Bible by a single author.



These highly readable, but commendably erudite, commentaries are more than worth the full price.  — Heather Anne Thiessen, M.Div., Ph.D.

Book of Psalms Seminar: The Ancient Near Eastern Background to the Psalms

All the details here.

The book of Psalms is the longest and most complex book in the Bible. It is a varied collection of poetry and song masterfully woven together to explore aspects everything from the darkest fears of death and abandonment to the most exuberant worship of Yahweh. The power and profundity of the Psalter stems in large part from its deployment of literary imagery, much of which is lost on modern readers due to the chasm of time and culture between us and the ancients.

This practical and richly illustrated seminar will enable participants to explore and understand the imagery of the Psalms through the lens of Ancient Israel and the broader Ancient Near Eastern world (especially Mesopotamian, Caananite and Egyptian backgrounds). This will help us make better sense of both the book of Psalms as a whole, and key passages with the work which frame the larger poetic sequence.

A voluminous digital handout including high-resolution images, charts and notes will be made available to participants.

Here’s the link to the zoom info.  And FYI- 7 PM in Melbourne is 5 AM Eastern time in the US.

New News on Old Texts

Over on the CSNTM blog

Nearly nine decades ago, three of the earliest and most extensive New Testament papyri were made available to scholars through color photographs. These facsimiles, together with their authoritative transcriptions, have remained the primary access that biblical scholars and papyrologists have had to them. Until now. With the multi-volume publication of New Testament Papyri 𝔓45, 𝔓46, 𝔓47 coming out later this year, new, exquisite, exact-size images will become available in print. After digitizing these priceless manuscripts at the Chester Beatty in Dublin and the University of Michigan, CSNTM has collaborated with Hendrickson Academic in the endeavor to offer fresh, library-quality images of these third-century copies of large portions of the New Testament.


Wisdom in the Hebrew Bible

What is the source of wisdom? What is the biblical understanding of it, and how is it revealed? In this book, T. A. Perry brings his creative impulse and critical mind to some of the most enigmatic passages of the Hebrew Bible.

Perry provides serious students with an insightful and incisive lens through which to interpret, among other biblical passages, the story of Judah and Tamar, the riddle proposed by Samson, and the words of Qohelet (Ecclesiastes) reflecting on the advancing years of life.

A review copy arrived today.  More anon.

The Gospel of Mark, Scripture Journal

Available from Hendrickson and sent for review.  Here is a photo of it in my hand to give a sense of the size.  They are smallish volumes:

A Greek Scripture Journal for the Gospel of Mark is a unique book that offers students, scholars, and pastors a way to deepen their study of the New Testament.

The Nestle-Aland text of the Greek New Testament has long been the standard text-critical edition for serious students and scholars. Now, the German Bible Society has released a special journaling edition of one of the key books of the New Testament: the Gospel of Mark.

The 28th Edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece provides the trusted critical text of NA28 in a clean format, with no apparatus. Each page of Greek is paired with a blank lined page for recording notes and comments. This beautifully minimalist edition will be welcomed by scholars, students, and pastors alike as a valuable resource in their personal study of the Gospel of Mark.

Of course there’s no need to review the 28th edition of Nestle-Aland.  And the Gospel of Mark is well beyond being reviewed by any person.  What is worthy of review, and mention, regarding this present volume is its potential.

Is this a useful edition of the Gospel of Mark?  Indeed!  As a matter of fact, it is IDEAL for courses on Mark which examine the Greek text.  It seems to me that this edition would be the perfect course textbook.  Students, as they work through the Gospel, would easily be able to note particularities of interest to themselves and Professors lecturing on the Gospel could assign this edition as the course ‘notebook’.

Individuals working through the Greek text of Mark would also find it quite useful.  It’s better suited to note-taking than a ‘wide margin’ edition and it’s compact enough to be easily portable.

I hope that Hendrickson, and the German Bible Society, produce editions of each of the New Testament books (or small groups of texts like James, 1-2 Peter, and Jude).  Such a series of booklets would be a Professor’s dream and a Student’s joy.

Until that’s done, readers of the Greek New Testament should get hold of what is available and take full advantage of all the possibilities such an edition presents for both learners and teachers.

Historical and Theological Lexicon of the Septuagint

The Hebrew Bible has played an important part in the development of Western culture. However, its central ideas – such as monotheism, the demythologization of nature or the linearity of time – had to be taken out of the national and linguistic milieu in which they had developed if they were to to become fertile on a wider scale. They also needed to be rendered palatable to a mentality that had experienced the scientific, rationalist revolution prepared by the Greeks. The Septuagint – the oldest Greek translation of the Jewish Bible, produced over the third and second centuries BC – is the first important step in this process of acculturation.

Over the last twenty years the Septuagint has come out of the shadow of its Hebrew source. Historians of Judaism, linguists, and biblical scholars have come to view the Septuagint as a significant document in its own right. As the discoveries in Qumran have shown, the Hebrew source text of the Septuagint was not identical to the traditional text received by the synagogue (the Masoretic Text). Also, the translators appear to have taken a degree of liberty in interpreting the text. Dominique Barthélemy used the term ‘aggiornamento’: the Septuagint is a kind of update of the Jewish scriptures.

This large-scale collective and interdisciplinary project aims to produce a new research tool: a multi-volume dictionary providing a comprehensive article (around 500 articles in all) for each important word or word group of the Septuagint. Filling an important gap in the fields of ancient philology and religious studies, the dictionary is based on original research of the highest scientific level.

The dictionary will be published in English. The first volume contains over 160 articles on words with the letters Alpha to Gamma.

Septuagintalists everywhere will be panting.  If you see your favorite Greek Professor with a glazed look in his eyes and flecks of drool in the corner of his mouth (or hers- women Profs drool too), it’s probably because they’ve seen this series announced.

Conference Volume: Die Septuaginta – Themen, Manuskripte, Wirkungen

Die Septuaginta – Themen, Manuskripte, Wirkungen

7. Internationale Fachtagung veranstaltet von Septuaginta Deutsch (LXX.D), Wuppertal 19.-22. Juli 2018, Herausgegeben von Eberhard Bons, Michaela Geiger, Frank Ueberschaer, Marcus Sigismund und Martin Meiser

This collection offers a wide-ranging overview of current research on the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. Its contributions address numerous hitherto little explored questions about the relationship of the biblical texts to their Jewish and Hellenistic environment and their influence on early Christianity.


Die Sonderausstellung Babel in der Babel wird aufgrund der aktuellen Situation in digitaler Form eröffnet. In einer exklusiven Führung, die etwa eine Stunde dauern wird, werden Ihnen wichtige Exponate der Sonderausstellung schon vorab vorgestellt! Ab dem 25.8. hat das Bibelmuseum zu den gewohnten Zeiten wieder geöffnet.

Zoomlink: https://wwu.zoom.us/j/98330498323 (Passwort: 224176)

Mo 24.08.2020, 17 Uhr – 18 Uhr

Christoph Heilig’s Book is Available for Download


The question of whether “implicit” narratives are of importance for understanding the letters of Paul in the New Testament is fiercely debated among scholars working on that corpus. The claim is that there are stories behind the text (i.e. on the level of the world view, for example) – even in non-narrative parts, such as arguments – that we as exegetes must uncover in order to properly understand the apostle’s intentions.

Today, de Gruyter has released my new monograph (published in the BZNW series) that deals with this question at length – that is, in just over 1000 pages. The book has grown so big because in my attempt to evaluate the theses of Richard B. Hays, N.T. Wright, and others who have followed them I soon noticed that (a) the theoretical and methodological foundations themselves were in need of a critical re-examination and that (b) explicit narratives – ignored by both proponents and opponents of the approach – actually deserve to be analyzed for their own sake … and yield some quite significant insights for the larger question. The book presents the results of my research on this big nexus of questions from the last seven years at the University of Zurich.

Here’s a good part….

Amen.  It’s a super interesting, massive book.  Give it a look.

Rahab: Between Faith and Works

My friend Jacob Wright has a new essay on the Bible and Interpretation website; and it’s an extract from his new book.  You’ll want to give it a read.

Although widely viewed, especially by its Christian interpreters, as scripture for an emerging religious sect, the Hebrew Bible has, I maintain, a much more ambitious agenda, serving as the blueprint for a new kind of nationhood. The New Testament authors adopted and adapted this blueprint in keeping with their own interest in creating a spiritual community of faith. To state the difference simply: The Hebrew Bible is a project of creating one nation, while the New Testament is a project of creating a community whose members hail from all nations. Likewise, the Hebrew Bible is about creating an identity that is capable of withstanding national defeat, while the New Testament is about creating an identity capable of withstanding Jesus’s death and delayed return.

Go on.  Read it now.  It’s freely available in open access.

The Agrarian Priesthood of Second Temple Judaism

New in Bible and Interpretation

Most Judean priests of the Second Temple period lived dispersed throughout the region, coming to Jerusalem for weekly service periods throughout the year. The patterns of social and economic interaction that governed their relationships with villagers resulted from the failures of the temple to adequately provide for them, pushing them into land ownership. The biblical ideal of a priesthood free from the responsibilities of the farming life or working as if in quarantine within the confines of the sacred precinct in the city gives a false impression. These priests were fully entrenched in the Judean landscape.


An Interview with Amy Jill-Levine and Marc Z. Brettler About “The Bible With and Without Jesus”

JW – What is it that drew you to this project? What is its genesis? What provoked you to write such a book?

AJL, MZB – This project is in many ways a continuation of The Jewish Annotated New Testament (2011, 2017), which we edited together. We enjoyed working together – even our disagreements turned out to be enjoyable learning experiences – but the format of that volume, with short glosses, was very constraining, and we realized that we had a lot more to say. We both have had experience in the classroom and in synagogues and churches of finding that Jews and Christians had very different interpretations of the same texts, whether from Genesis or Isaiah, Jonah or the Psalms. In some cases, members of one group would tell us that the other group’s reading was wrong. Since the Bible has always been open to multiple interpretations, since ignorance helps no one and intolerance harms many, and since we want to show that, in biblical interpretation, there can be multiple and even mutually exclusive correct answers, we thought this book – showing respect for each tradition – would be both timely and helpful: timely because it rejects the cancel culture that is becoming so prominent, and helpful because we can only move forward if we listen respectfully to other positions.

JW – Do you think that inter-religious dialogue has ‘taken a hit’ in recent years?

AJL, MZB – Civility has taken a hit, and any sort of dialogue suffers because of it, especially in a political atmosphere that gives priority to one particular form of religious affiliation.

JW – After all this time, why do Christians and Jews still find themselves at odds concerning so many things?

AJL, MZB – Not only are we ignorant of each other’s history, we are not as familiar as we should be with our own, and that includes biblical interpretation. Sometimes we are afraid to ask questions for fear of sounding foolish or, worse, bigoted. Sometimes we rely on incorrect information, often conveyed to us as children by well-meaning but uninformed teachers or clergy. Sometimes we understand a tradition by the worst exemplars of its practitioners rather than by the best. And much too often we define ourselves through negative identity—we are what the other is not. This inevitably leads to misrepresenting the other, and often demonizing them.

JW – Your book is wonderfully organized. Did that happen ‘genetically’ or did you rearrange chapters until you hit upon the present arrangement?

AJL, MZB – Thank you; this was not easy, and we went back and forth several times on the order of the chapters. We tried to follow canonical order, more or less, but that was impossible, since the Jewish Tanakh and the Christian Old Testament are not in the same order. Beginning with creation made sense, and from the beginning we knew we wanted to end with Jeremiah 31, the promise of the New Covenant, a promise that, in our view, remains unfulfilled.

JW – How did you settle on the subtopics in each chapter? There are loads of texts you could have addressed. How did you ‘narrow it down’?

AJL, MZB – This happened pretty organically. The texts that we found the most fascinating turned out, for the most part, to be the texts we have been asked most about by Jews and Christians.

JW – The discussion of ‘prophecy’ is particularly interesting to me. Do you think that the Prophetic literature is the bit of the Hebrew Bible that Jews and Christians see most differently?

AJL, MZB – Yes—and this is a very important point. Even when Jews and Christians share the “same” texts, they often read them differently or evaluate them differently. Select prophetic texts, such as the Emanuel material in Isaiah 7-9 and the so-called “suffering servant” passages have substantially different reception histories—they are crucial to Christians from their earliest history, but of no particular significance within Judaism. The interpretation of Jonah is also quite different within the two traditions.

JW – The discussion of the sacrifice in chapter seven is one of the clearest and most profoundly important treatments of the topic I have seen in a good while. How did you balance the Christian and Jewish views so delicately? I guess what I’m wondering is, how were you able to examine the issues involved so judiciously and theologically? (Biblical scholars aren’t usually known for their theological sensitivity).

AJL, MZB – Ah, now, Jim, surely you are not indicting the entire field. Working on editing the Jewish Annotated New Testament, we had a number of occasions when we asked our contributors to rephrase, precisely because we are aware that words can take on different, sometimes offensive, connotations, depending on the ears that are listening. We insist in our writing and our teaching on being as gracious to others as possible, and therefore on being theologically sensitive. (Contrary to Marcion, being gracious is a good Jewish, and Hebrew Bible value!) One does not need, we think, to agree or to believe in a particular viewpoint to express it in a clear, sympathetic, and straightforward manner. We tried hard to do this throughout, and we appreciate that you recognized our ability to do so. In at least one case, we suspect we’ll get some pushback, and that is in our conclusion that the Epistle to the Hebrews is supersessionist. At the same time, however, we also note that the rabbinic reading of Melchizedek and Psalm 110 can be taken as arguing against Christian readings.

JW – I don’t want to appear to be one of those terrible people who tells authors what they should have written instead of discussing what they did write. But I was stricken by the fact that your treatment of ‘The Son of Man’ made no reference to Mogens Müller’s -“The Expression ‘son of Man’ and the Development of Christology: A History of Interpretation”. Did you simply find it irrelevant?

AJL, MZB – Not at all – it’s an extremely helpful volume and – in retrospect – you’re right; we should have included it. This is one of the many books that primarily traces Christian readings that did not find its way into the bibliography. Our focus for this chapter was primarily the use of this expression in the Tanakh and then in rabbinic literature—since that was less well known.

JW – In chapter 13, ‘In the Interim’, you write

“In the twenty-first century, we are finally at the point where Jews and Christians can read their shared texts differently, and learn from each other. We all can, and must, even read those texts unique to the other’s tradition. Jews do well to read the New Testament and then to share these readings with Christians, and Christians do well to look at nonbiblical Jewish sources and then share them with Jews. We are finally at the point where we can interpret the Bible, whatever its content, not as a zero-sum problem, but as an opportunity to correct certain older readings based in polemic, creating newer ones based on the possibility of mutual respect if not in complete agreement.”

JW – I hope that’s true. Of course, in many places it is. In some it is not. So my final question is, how hopeful are you that Jews and Christians all can do exactly what you describe in that paragraph?

AJL, MZB – We are not naïve enough to believe that “all” Jews and Christians will read this book, and that “all” will instantly adopt the tolerant attitude that we are suggesting. To use a Hebrew Bible phrase—mi yitten—if that were only so! But we have already seen progress made on both sides in this type of mutual understanding, and we have been invited by both Jewish and Christian groups to have conversations about the book (doing this on zoom rather than in person is not as much fun, but it is infinitely easier to schedule). If we can help just a few people be able to see that biblical studies is neither a blood sport nor a zero-sum game, that there is often beauty and inspiration in another’s tradition, and that the nastiness we have found in most of the reception history on both sides serves only to harm, then we will have succeeded.

JW – What’s next? What are you working on now that we can look forward to reading in the near future?

AJL, MZB – Have you any suggestions?

JW – Thank you for your time! And THANK YOU for this wonderfully crafted brilliantly executed book. Please do more of this. Perhaps a commentary on Hebrews from a Jewish and Christian perspective.

AJL, MZB – Given what we’ve said above, that would be a real challenge. It might however be fun to tackle more of the New Testament readings, perhaps of characters in the biblical tradition. We’ve looked at Adam and Eve in this book, but we can envision chapters about Cain and Abel, Noah, Abraham, Sarah and Hagar; the four women in Matthew’s genealogy (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba), Moses, David, Solomon, Elijah, Jezebel, and of course, the Hebrew Bible’s main character: God.

JW– Whatever you do, we know it will be worth reading.