UCL Institute of Jewish Studies Lecture Series

They have a number of lectures forthcoming.  These are the ones related to Biblical Studies that may be of interest to you all:

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 22nd
6pm GMT
Nili Samet (Bar-Ilan University)
(Re)contextualizing Qohelet after Two Centuries of Modern Research
Chair: Lily Kahn (UCL)
Register (free or donation ticket): https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/424489017077

And

THURSDAY DECEMBER 1st
6pm GMT
Ra’anan Boustan (Princeton University)
Making Space: The Huqoq Synagogue Mosaics and the Viewing Experience
Chair: Sacha Stern (UCL)

Register (free or donation ticket): https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/424555736637

The Commentary

Stop watching the news and read something that will uplift your spirit.  The Commentary.

The ‘Person in the Pew’ commentary series is the only series of Commentaries written by a single person on the entire Bible and aimed at layfolk in modern history.

the-person-the-pew-commentary-series

The books are all available in PDF format from yours truly for a paltry $75 by clicking my PayPal Link.  It’s a good commentary.

[I] wanted to thank you for your commentary set I recently acquired. My daughter Chloe (age 11) and I are using the one on Mark as we read through and discuss the gospel every second evening. It helps shed light on the text without being academically burdensome for us to work through. .. [Y]our comments are pitched wonderfully for anyone wanting to begin serious engagement with the text. It also complements the more ‘scholarly’ works.

Blessings, David Booth

The “Exodus” in Jerusalem (Luke 9:31)

This book addresses the dearth of study in Lukan scholarship on the transfiguration account and provides a model of new exodus based on the Song of the Sea (Exod 15) beyond the two major—Deuteronomi(sti)c and Isaianic—models. The proposed Exodus 15 pattern explicates the enigmatic phrase “his ‘exodus’ in Jerusalem” in the transfiguration account. It also elucidates how the seemingly discordant motifs of Moses and David are conjoined within a larger drama of the (new) exodus and the subsequent establishment of Israel’s (eschatological) worship space. This shows how Luke deals with the issues of temple (Acts 7), circumcision (Acts 15), and the ambivalent nature of Jerusalem.

Demons in Early Judaism and Christianity: Characters and Characteristics

For Jews and Christians in Antiquity beliefs about demons were integral to their reflections on fundamental theological questions, but what kind of ‘being’ did they consider demons to be? To what extent were they thought to be embodied? Were demons thought of as physical entities or merely as metaphors for social and psychological realities? What is the relation between demons and the hypostatization of abstract concepts (fear, impurity, etc) and baleful phenomenon such as disease? These are some of the questions that this volume addresses by focussing on the nature and characteristics of demons — what one might call ‘demonic ontology’.

Introduction
Hector M. Patmore and Josef Lössl

Demonic Exegesis
Hector M. Patmore

Δαίμονες and Demons in Hellenistic Judaism: Continuities and Transformations
Anna Angelini

The Demon Asmodeus in the Tobit Tradition: His Nature and Character
Beate Ego

Paul’s Suprahumanizing Exegesis: Rewriting the Defeat of God’s Enemies in 1 Corinthians, Romans, and Ephesians
John K. Goodrich

Courting Daimons in Corinth: Daimonic Partnerships, Cosmic Hierarchies and Divine Jealousy in 1 Corinthians 8–10
Matthew Sharp

Demons and Vices in Early Christianity
Tom de Bruin

The ‘Demonogony’ of Tatian’s Oratio ad Graecos: Jewish and Greek Influences
Josef Lössl

St. Jerome, Demons, and Jewish Tradition
C. T. R. Hayward

Demonic “Tollhouses” and Visions of the Afterlife in Pseudo-Cyril of Alexandria’s Homily: De exitu animi
Emmanouela Grypeou

10 The Naked Demon: Alternative Interpretations of the Alexamenos Graffito
Hagit Amirav and Peter-Ben Smit

11 Negotiating Danger: Demonic Manipulations in Jewish Babylonia
Alexander W. Marcus

12 Demons and Scatology: Cursed Toilets and Haunted Baths in Late Antique Judaism
Ilaria Briata

13 The King of Demons in the Universe of the Rabbis
Reuven Kiperwasser

14 The Gender and Sexuality of Demons in the Art of the Aramaic Incantation Bowls
Naama Vilozny

Conference Announcement: Writing in Biblical Times

Fenster zur Vergangenheit der Bibel / Windows to the Past
Conference of Biblical Archaeology

To be held from October 7-9 (2022) at Chr. Gästezentrum Württemberg, Schwäbisch Gmünd (S. Germany) Live and digital participation (via Zoom) possible.  Registration: Pieter Gert van der Veen Email: van_der_Veen@gmx.de.

Hybrid (English/German) conference: Schreiben in biblischer Zeit / Writing in biblical times

Freitag den 7. Oktober / Friday October 7

  • 16:00–18:00h Anmeldung / registrations
  • 18:00h Abendessen / supper
  • Abendprogramm (chair Prof. Dr Th. Kinker)
  • 20:00h Begrüßung / Welcome (PD Dr. habil. P. van der Veen)
  • 20:15–21:45 h Prof. Dr. U. Zerbst (online lecture): Zur Entstehung biblischer Bücher: Quellen, Hypothesen, Datum (in German only)
  • 21:45–21:55 h Aussprache / Questions

Samstag den 8. Oktober / Saturday October 8

  • 9:30–10:35 h PD Dr. P. van der Veen: Die Entstehung der Schrift im Nahen Osten (in German only)
  • 10:50 h Prof. Dr. B. Noonan: The Textual History & Transmission of the Pentateuch (German translation by Prof. M. Heide / Dr. W. Ertl)
  • 13:30–14:00 h Ausstellung / exhibition (in Forum 5)
  • 14:00–15:30 h Gemeinsames Programm / joint programme (chair F. Biberger MA)  Prof. Dr. B. Noonan: Dating the Pentateuch’s Composition in Light of Linguistic Features (translation by Prof. Dr. M. Heide / J. Dams)
  • Programm A im Festsaal/Altbau – in German only (chair A. Späth, Zoom J. Schweinsberg)
  • 16:00–17:00 h A. Späth / Dr. U. Wendel: Funde aus der biblischen Archäologie
  • Programme B in Forum 2 (chair PD Dr. P. van der Veen, Zoom J. Dams)
  • 16:00–16:45 h Dr. R. Deutsch (online lecture): The New Bulla of “Shema, Servant of Jeroboam”: real or fake? (in English only)
  • 17:00–17:45 h J. Dams, Die Rolle der Alphabetschrift in Babylon (in German only)
  • 20:00h Informationen zur Arbeitsgruppe ABA (P. van der Veen)
  • 20:20h David Hendin (online lecture): Sepphoris During the First century AD: Coins and other Finds (in English, dt. Texte auf Folien)

Sonntag den 9. Oktober / Sunday October 9

  • 9:30h PD Dr. P. van der Veen: Die Entzifferung der Berg Ebal-Bleitafel: der früheste Hinweis auf Jahwe, der Gott Israels – in German only
  • 12:00h Mittagessen / lunch
  • Abreise / departure

Conversations on Canaanite and Biblical Themes

Arguments over the relationship between Canaanite and Israelite religion often derive from fundamental differences in presupposition, methodology and definition, yet debate typically focuses in on details and encourages polarization between opposing views, inhibiting progress. This volume seeks to initiate a cultural change in scholarly practice by setting up dialogues between pairs of experts in the field who hold contrasting views.

Each pair discusses a clearly defined issue through the lens of a particular biblical passage, responding to each other’s arguments and offering their reflections on the process. Topics range from the apparent application of ‘chaos’ and ‘divine warrior’ symbolism to Yahweh in Habakkuk 3, the evidence for ‘monotheism’ in pre-Exilic Judah in 2 Kings 22–23, and the possible presence of ‘chaos’ or creatio ex nihilo in Genesis 1 and Psalm 74. This approach encourages the recognition of points of agreement as well as differences and exposes some of the underlying issues that inhibit consensus. In doing so, it consolidates much that has been achieved in the past, offers fresh ideas and perspective and, through intense debate, subjects new ideas to thorough critique and suggests avenues for further research.

Weavers, Scribes, and Kings: A New History of the Ancient Near East

In this sweeping history of the ancient Near East, Amanda Podany takes readers on a gripping journey from the creation of the world’s first cities to the conquests of Alexander the Great. The book is built around the life stories of many ancient men and women, from kings, priestesses, and merchants to brickmakers, musicians, and weavers. Their habits of daily life, beliefs, triumphs, and crises, and the changes that people faced over time are explored through their own written words and the buildings, cities, and empires in which they lived.

Rather than chronicling three thousand years of rulers and states, Weavers, Scribes, and Kings instead creates a tapestry of life stories through which readers will come to know specific individuals from many walks of life, and to understand their places within the broad history of events and institutions in the ancient Near East. These life stories are preserved on ancient clay tablets, which allow us to trace, for example, the career of a weaver as she advanced to become a supervisor of a workshop, listen to a king trying to persuade his generals to prepare for a siege, and feel the pain of a starving young couple and their four young children as they suffered through a time of famine. What might seem at first glance to be a remote and inaccessible ancient culture proves to be a comprehensible world, one that bequeathed to the modern world many of our institutions and beliefs, a truly fascinating place to visit.

Sounds fantastic.

YHWH’s Divine Images

By Daniel McClellan.

Download the open access edition here.

My primary target audience with this book is scholars and students—formal and informal—of the Bible and of religion more broadly, as well as cognitive scientists of religion and cognitive linguists. As someone trained in biblical studies but adopting methodologies from the cognitive sciences, I don’t believe I’ll ever fully shake the sense of imposter syndrome from presuming to have something to say about fields in which I am not a specialist.

However, I have been reassured by many kind and generous scholars from across these fields that that’s just the nature of interdisciplinary research. I have tried to widen the scope of
accessibility of this book to include interested laypeople, whom I hope can also find some value in it.

I anticipate some readers will approach this book from a devotional perspective, while others will approach it from a perspective adjacent to a devotional one, and still others in the absence of any such perspective.

Though I write as a faithful Latter-day Saint, this book is strictly academic, and I have made a concerted effort to recognize and mitigate the potential influence of any devotional lenses that may color my methodologies and my readings. There is certainly no conscious attempt on my part to promote any particular theological perspective in this book, though I do offer some critiques of the influence on the scholarship of certain theological sensitivities (including from my own tradition). Having said that, I suspect there are ways the book will horrify my coreligionists as well as others who are suspicious that I’m just trying to import Mormonism wholesale into the Bible. If such criticisms come in from all sides, I’ll consider that a win.

The Book of Enoch for Beginners

Phil Long has a new book out:

The Book of Enoch is a fascinating yet often misunderstood apocalyptic text. It contains unique material on fallen angels, the great flood of Genesis, the final judgment, and the prophecy of a future messiah. This guide provides you with the necessary historical framework to examine and understand it, delving into the key events and figures of its stories, from The Book of Watchers to The Epistle of Enoch.

  • An engaging introduction—Dive right in with an overview that clarifies Enoch’s non-canonical status, explains how the work was rediscovered, and breaks down its place within Judaism and Christianity.
  • All five books—This guide explores all five books of 1 Enoch, providing valuable insight into the development of early religious beliefs.
  • Thoughtful examination—Divided into easily digestible sections, you’ll gain a thorough understanding of Enoch through a combination of smart summaries, key verses, and enlightening commentary.

Demystify the Book of Enoch with this comprehensive and compelling guide.

Phil has written a helpful, precise, and easy to read in a couple of hours volume that will, and should be of interest to every Christian and every New Testament scholar and Professor.  And though he dedicated it to his wife instead of to me (people, right????), it is a remarkably important little volume.  Remarkably important.

Why?  Because the Book of Enoch was a central piece of literature to the early Church and early Judaism.  It may not have been ‘scripture’ to most, it was still extraordinarily popular and as we all should know, sometimes popular trumps official when it comes to the common man’s perception of things.

Take, for instance, the painting by Da Vinci titled ‘The Last Supper’.  It is, historically speaking, utter and complete rubbish.  It gets every detail of the Supper wrong, from the seating arrangement to the type of table used to the presence of chairs (which wouldn’t have been anywhere near a triclinium).  And yet that portrayal of the Last Supper is the one people have in mind when they think of that critical event.

Likewise, the authors of the New Testament and their contemporaries were extraordinarily influenced by the Weltanschauung of Enoch, such that many of the notions that Christianity holds dear are Enochian.

I’m not sure who said it or wrote it or mentioned it in passing at a conference; but at one point someone said in my presence that

You cannot understand the New Testament if you don’t have a firm grasp of the Hebrew Bible and the Book of Enoch.

They were right.

And that’s why this little book by Phil Long is so incredibly relevant and significant.  He leads his readers to a clear understanding of this material so central to so much of Christian thinking.

In 10 pages he introduces Enoch.  And in around 115 (give or take a few) he describes the contents of its parts.  He summarizes what he is about to say, says it concisely and yet accurately, and moves on to say what needs to be said next.  Part by part, he opens up the book of Enoch for contemporary readers and thereby does a service to both the academy and the Church.

He includes ‘sidebars’ (though they aren’t on the side of the page; rather, they are blocks of material set off from the main text but totally intrinsic to the structure of the whole).  Here’s one on ‘demons’ (or as our friend Barth always called them, ‘Nothingness’, ‘chaos’).

He doesn’t reduplicate the whole of the text of Enoch, but he does excerpt ‘key’ bits of it concerning which he then offers his own commentary.

This may seem an excessive excerpt, but it’s necessary, in my view, to allow potential readers of this book an idea of what it is and how it works.

Do I think you should read it?  I do.  Should your students read it?  Yes.  Should your Church Bible Study group read it?  They certainly should.  Especially if the choices are between Oprah’s Book Club Choice and Phil’s book.  At least Phil’s book has the advantage of being related to the Church whereas Oprah’s book club books never do.  (By the way, stop using Oprah’s book recommendations- she gave us Dr Oz and Dr Phil and Joel Osteen.  She isn’t a very good judge of what’s good).

You, to be honest, need to read this work, even if you’re pretty familiar with the Enochic literature.

And that, as they say, is that.

Judas: Einer der nachösterlichen Zwölf

Judas wird in allen Evangelien als „einer der Zwölf“ – nicht wie die anderen als „einer seiner Jünger“ – charakterisiert. Die These Siegfried Berglers ist, dass „die Jünger“ und „die Zwölf“ zwei verschiedene Gruppen bezeichneten: Erstgenannte, in unterschiedlicher Zahl, waren Jesu Schüler; hingegen zeugen die festen Zwölf-Namen-Listen von einem nachösterlichen Gremium/Presbyterium der Jerusalemer Urgemeinde, das sich aufgrund einer Christophanie als Repräsentanz des endzeitlichen Israel verstand. Diesem Kollegium gehörten (auch) vormalige Jünger Jesu an – und Judas.

Daher der Titel Judas und die nachösterlichen Zwölf. Die Monographie umfasst neben der Exegese sämtlicher Judas-Auftritte eine Betrachtung aller Zwölfer-Stellen im NT – beginnend mit 1Kor 15,5 („erschienen den Zwölfen“) über den Befund der Logienquelle („…sitzen auf zwölf Thronen“, Mt 19,28 par Lk 22,30) bis zu Apk 21 („zwölf Grundsteine“). Auch erfolgt eine kritische Würdigung des ambivalenten Judas-Bildes im gnostischen Judas-Evangelium.

Judas, der in der Gemeinde eine prominente Funktion ausübte (vgl. Apg 1,20: „sein Aufsichtsamt“), dürfte den Glauben an Jesu göttliche Herkunft oder Messianität aufgekündigt, sich zum Judentum zurückgewandt (vgl. Joh 6,64.66.71) und dadurch zur Auflösung des Zwölferkreises beigetragen haben. Man hat ihn ver­teufelt, für tot erklärt (vgl. die drei verschiedenen „Tode“ des Gottlosen: Mt 27, Apg 1, Papias) und schließlich in die Vita Jesu als dessen „Verräter“, korrekt: „Auslieferer“, zurückprojiziert (re­trojiziert).

These two volumes are an exegetical masterwork.   Bergler has produced an exegetical study with forays into reception history that would make the master exegetes of the heyday of biblical studies (the 19th and 20th centuries in Germany) blush with envy.

Divided into 7 major sections, each divided and subdivided into digestible, sensibly organized, extremely well written pieces, this work looks hard and long at the biblical and reception-historical figure of Judas.

Beginning with the variety of images of Judas of Iscariot, and moving on to an amazing examination of the function and meaning of ‘The Twelve’, Bergler guides his fortunate readers into a meticulous, careful, astute, and well reasoned investigation of the betrayer of Jesus and even more broadly, the group of which he was a member.  And that’s just Part A.

In B, Bergler guides us through the material related to Judas and the Twelve in the Synoptics and in Paul.  The exegesis here too is amazingly erudite and wonderfully detailed.  And by detailed, I mean in depth to such an extent that no stone is left unturned.

In part C., the exegesis turns to the Gospel of John. This extends from page 391- 618 and at that juncture the first volume concludes and the second volume moves on to an absolutely stunning investigation of the death of Judas (Part D).

Part E is intriguing in that it looks at texts in the New Testament which connect the Twelve with other ‘groups’ or ‘bodies’.  For instance, what are the lines drawn from the Twelve to the Seven in Acts?  And what what is the significance and meaning of the Twelve and the various numbers of believers in the Apocalypse?

Part F brings us back the Judas himself and the Twelve, after Easter.  Here too, as you may by now expect, the exegesis is astonishing in its thoroughness.

The final section of the book is Part G.  Here conclusions are drawn.

The two volume work includes numerous indices, lists of texts, secondary literature, and all sorts of like things.

The work amazes on its every page and there is so very much to learn from it.  It begins with a note about a pizza restaurant in Germany called the “XII Apostel” where you can get a pizza named after any one of the twelve.  Including one named after Judas, with its sharp pepperoni and spicy salami.  There too you can pick up a ‘Judas Bier’ comprised of 8.5% alcohol.

From there it provides hearty readers (you have to be a hearty reader these days to take up a two volume work of over 1000 combined pages) with nothing but brilliance.  It examines every trope and every text and every historical notion of Judas, from his being a symbol of the Jews to his place on a menu at a pizza joint.  Martin Luther, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and countless others make an appearance and their ‘take’ on Judas evaluated.  Walter Jens witticism that ’11 disciples go to church and 1 goes to the synagogue’ is just one of many notions concerning Judas that are examined in these pages.

And there are things that you may not have heard about Judas before, but which are found in the various traditions which discussed him.  For instance- Judas was the son of Joseph of Arimathea.

You’ll also learn that in Rabbinic circles, 5 disciples were considered a sufficient number to manage at a time.  And that Jesus had 5 disciples; namely, Andrew, Simon Peter, Phillip, Nathaniel, and an unknown (the so called ‘beloved disciple, whoever that was).  You’ll then learn why the Gospels and the other NT authors talk about 12 disciples and how Judas fits in with this number although he never really fit in at all.

This work is an absolute gem.  Students of the New Testament should read it to see how exegesis can be done properly, expertly, and interestingly.

Folks interested in reception history should read it too.  As should all who aspire to write excellent scholarly books that are both interesting to read and informative (an art not common in our field, let’s be honest.  Too many academic books are so boring, readers have to consume a gallon of coffee and a 6 pack of red bull to stay awake while reading one chapter).

You won’t need any stimulation to keep you awake while you read this work.  It is stimulating enough on its own.  And that, when we speak of academic tomes, is the highest praise possible.

Tolle, lege!

News from CBA

The members of the Catholic Biblical Association of America are eager to present the results of their research to both academic and non-specialized readers. As you know, CBA has partnered with Paulist Press to produce a new book series titled: Biblical Studies from the Catholic Biblical Association of America. Currently, six titles are now available.

As a CBA member, we ask you to support this initiative by asking your libraries to order all current and future volumes in this series. Please provide your librarian with the list of titles currently available below. These titles are available now at a discount from Paulist Press or their wholesaler.

  • A Concise Theology of New Testament, Frank J. Matera (978080915433)
  • Letters to the Johannine Circle 1-3 John, Francis J. Moloney, SDB (9780809154524)
  • The Landscape of the Gospels, Donald Senior (9780809154357)
  • Scripture and Tradition in the Letters of Paul, Ronald D. Witherup (9780809154760)
  • Christ in the Book of Revelation, Ian Boxall (978080915455-5)
  • Come and See: Discipleship in the Gospel of John, Sherri Brown (9780809154814)

The series is advertised on the CBA web site  at the web site of Paulist Press.

News from ISD and Mohr

Dear Colleague,

I’m writing to you on behalf of ISD, the North American book distributor for a number of top scholarly publishers, including Mohr Siebeck. ISD and Mohr Siebeck have recently begun a collaboration to promote and sell eBooks from the Mohr Siebeck eLibrary platform.

Mohr Siebeck eBooks are now available to be purchased through ISD using a variety of purchase & models. For a complete introduction to the eBook program, click here:

https://www.mohrsiebeck.com/en/northamerica

This North American landing page will be regularly updated with the latest publications. In particular we’d like to draw your attention to the subject-based collections and Evidence-based Acquisition model. ISD and Mohr Siebeck have created English-language eBook collections for institutional customers in North America, which represent a 20% discount on the equivalent pick-and-choose price.

The Mohr Siebeck EBA is also available by individual subject area. Although pricing is generally based on the size of an institution, we would also take into account the amount of English-language content made available.

Please feel free to get in touch if you are interested in ordering any of Mohr Siebeck’s eBooks or eBook collections. Please also let me know if you have any questions or require any additional information. I’d also be happy to chat with you on Zoom or Teams.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,

Paul Osborn

osborn@isdistribution.com

Maarav 25 and Further News

Via Chris Rollston

Christopher Rollston

Volume 25 of Maarav has appeared and will soon be sent out to subscribers (and is also available via http://www.Maarav.com). In addition, Volume 26 (2022) is complete, has been typeset, and will soon be going to press as well. We are all so very pleased about this.

Moreover, we (Bruce Zuckerman, Chris Rollston, Marilyn Lundberg, and Jason Bemry) are also very pleased about some very auspicious, recent developments with regard to Maarav (which have been in discussion for some time now). Namely, although some of the final details are still in discussion, we are happy to state that ASOR is desirous for Maarav to be among its prestigious journals. We believe that this is a particularly auspicious move and we are fully supportive of it (and we were part of these discussions, from the beginning and through to the present, etc).

It is envisioned that Maarav will continue to publish the sorts of articles that it always has, but it will soon be done (starting in 2023, with the two issues of Volume 27) under the auspices of ASOR. There will be a new editor, a new editorial board, and there will be staggered terms (just as is the case, for example, with BASOR and NEA, etc). This, though, will be something that BASOR’s Committee on Publication and the University of Chicago Press (etc.) will navigate, and we would imagine that ASOR and Chicago will be making some formal announcements about such things in the coming weeks.

Again, we are very pleased about these moves, as it will put Maarav on secure footing for the future, and we believe that to have Maarav become part of a learned society’s publications will strengthen and expand Maarav’s impact on the field. In other words, for us, this is very much a dream come true. We wish to thank you profoundly for your support of Maarav through the years, and we look forward to the continuation of your support (by sending articles, subscribing, etc.) of Maarav. And we trust that you will join us in celebrating this auspicious transition of Maarav to its place within a sterling learned society’s esteemed journals.

Bruce Zuckerman (senior editor and publisher), Chris Rollston (editor), Marilyn Lundberg (associate editor), Jason Bembry (assistant editor)

1 & 2 Kings: A Commentary for Biblical Preaching and Teaching

This newly appearing volume is available here.

It is part of a series of commentaries whose chief aim is to aid preachers and teachers in the proper exposition and explanation of the text of the Bible.

Aesthetically, the volume is really pleasing.  The font is larger than average and the typeface is clear and crisp.  It is also wider than the usual book, making the pages fuller.  The edition I’m reviewing is the hardback version.

The content is well authored with separate writers for exegetical matters and preaching issues.  Each pericope is first of all divided into four topical treatments contained in what the authors call the Overview of All Preaching Passages:

  • Exegetical Idea
  • Theological Focus
  • Preaching Idea
  • Preaching Pointers

These divisions can, at times, tend to overly general remarks.  For example, in discussing 1 Kings 11:1-43 the ‘preaching idea’ is ‘Gods grace and God’s judgment are not mutually exclusive’.  And though that’s certainly true of this section, it could, in fairness, be repeatedly stated throughout any evaluation of Kings.

Otherwise, the overview provides fairly solid guidance to each of the sections of Kings.

An Introduction follows the ‘Overview’.   There, in a summary section, our authors describe Kings as ‘ancient historiography’.  This is, of course, highly doubtful.  Rather, Kings is, in the terminology of von Rad, ‘theological historiography’ or ‘sermonized history’.  Authorship of the book is attributed to either multiple writers or a single writer.  Fair enough, of course, since it really has to be one or the other.

There are charts and some images throughout, in black and white, which are excellent illustrations of the textual materials.

When readers arrive at the commentary proper they are treated to sensible, level headed, clear, and conservative mainline scholarship.  Hebrew appears in smatterings and when it does it is simply proffered and neither translated nor transliterated, which, frankly, I heartily approve of as it presumes the preachers and teachers using the commentary are capable of reading the biblical languages, which they should be.

Each pericope concludes with some discussion questions.  This commentary is designed for communal use.

The volume ends with a bibliography.  There are no indices.

Is this volume worth your time?  That, after all, is the chief question which readers of reviews want answered.  ‘If I read _____________, will I learn something, or will it be a waste of time?’.

The answer to that question regarding this volume is ‘yes and no’.  Yes, you will find it informative.  But, no, it will not reveal anything as yet undiscovered.  So yes, it’s worth your time, but no, you will not learn anything new from it.  Unless, that is, you are relatively unfamiliar with 1-2 Kings.

Busy preachers who have to spend more time meeting with angry unhappy members or sitting in hospital rooms with sick members than they do to study and who accordingly  will not have time to sit down with weighty tomes and critical editions of biblical texts; but they will have time to read a few pages hitting the highlights of the section of text they’ll preach from that Sunday.  And that is where this book is both most useful and most targeted.

This is, in sum, a book for preachers who want to do a good job of telling their congregations what the text says and means but who have neither the time nor the energy to do the research necessary for such exposition themselves.  To put it rather bluntly, it is a ‘Cliff’s Notes’ for 1-2 Kings with preachers in mind.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But it is a tragedy.  It is a crying shame that the Preaching of the Divine Word too often has to take a back seat to the mundane hand-holding and putting out of fires that most pastors spend too much of their time with.

Instead of focusing on ‘the ministry of the Word’ they are forced to wait tables and vacuum carpets and clean pews and console the indolent and indifferent and raise funds and all the rest of the administrative nonsense that the Apostles rejected when they required the early Church to appoint 7 people who were tasked with doing the ‘stuff’ that isn’t proclamation and all tasks associated with it so that they (the Apostles) could do what they had been appointed and called to do: the ministry of the Word.  Or as Acts has it more fully:

οὐκ ἀρεστόν ἐστιν ἡμᾶς καταλείψαντας τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ διακονεῖν τραπέζαις.  ἐπισκέψασθε δέ, ἀδελφοί, ἄνδρας ἐξ ὑμῶν μαρτυρουμένους ἑπτά, πλήρεις πνεύματος καὶ σοφίας, οὓς καταστήσομεν ἐπὶ τῆς χρείας ταύτης, ἡμεῖς δὲ τῇ προσευχῇ καὶ τῇ διακονίᾳ τοῦ λόγου προσκαρτερήσομεν. καὶ ἤρεσεν ὁ λόγος ἐνώπιον παντὸς τοῦ πλήθους καὶ ἐξελέξαντο Στέφανον, ἄνδρα πλήρης πίστεως καὶ πνεύματος ἁγίου, καὶ Φίλιππον καὶ Πρόχορον καὶ Νικάνορα καὶ Τίμωνα καὶ Παρμενᾶν καὶ Νικόλαον προσήλυτον Ἀντιοχέα, οὓς ἔστησαν ἐνώπιον τῶν ἀποστόλων, καὶ προσευξάμενοι ἐπέθηκαν αὐτοῖς τὰς χεῖρας.  (Acts 6:2-6)

There is, indeed, something of an abandonment of responsibility in much of modern Church ministry and Church life.  Pastors abandoning (neglecting) the chief task in order to attend to minor things. And others refusing to carry any portion of the load which life in community demands.  Tragic.

Perhaps one day Pastors will once again understand that their calling is exposition first and foremost.  Until then, volumes like the present one will not only be useful, they will be indispensable.