Zwinglius Redivivus

Die Septuaginta- Geschichte, Wirkung, Relevanz

Posted in Book Review, Books, LXX by Jim on 21 Aug 2018

Newly published by sent Mohr Siebeck and sent for review.

As the central biblical reference text for ancient Greek-speaking Judaism and Christianity alike, the Septuagint both aids and challenges expressions of Jewish and Christian identity. The diversity of its current debates are reflected in this volume, which brings aspects of textual criticism, textual history, philology, theology, reception history, and Jewish identity in the Second Temple period together to provide an up-to-date overview of the latest in international research.

A New Volume for Students of Ancient Israel

Posted in Biblical Studies Resources, Books by Jim on 21 Aug 2018

This volume is part of the Changing Perspectives sub-series, which is constituted by anthologies of articles by world-renowned biblical scholars and historians that have made an impact on the field and changed its course during the last decades. This volume offers a collection of seminal essays by Keith Whitelam on the early history of ancient Palestine and the origins and emergence of Israel. Collected together in one volume for the first time, and featuring one unpublished article, this volume will be of interest to biblical and ancient Near Eastern scholars interested in the politics of historical representation but also on critical ways of constructing the history of ancient Palestine.

More here. Congratulations to Keith and Emanuel for this super volume (full disclosure, I serve on the editorial board of the series).

Commentary of the Day

Posted in Bible, Biblical Studies Resources, Books, Commentary by Jim on 20 Aug 2018

Available today for $5 in PDF.  Just paypal me.

The First Testament

Posted in Bible, Book Review, Books by Jim on 20 Aug 2018

IVP Academic have published this new translation of the Old Testament by John Goldingay.  A review copy arrived in the mail (or, in the post for the Brits) today.  I’ve been looking forward to this day since the volume was first announced – having used Goldingay’s earlier volumes to great profit.  More anon.

Most translations bend the text toward us. They make the rough places smooth, the odd bits more palatable to our modern sensibilities. In every translation something is gained and something lost.

In The First Testament: A New Translation, John Goldingay interrupts our sleepy familiarity with the Old Testament. He sets our expectations off balance by inviting us to hear the strange accent of the Hebrew text. We encounter the sinewed cadences of the Hebrew Bible, its tics and its textures. Translating words consistently, word by word, allows us to hear resonances and see the subtle figures stitched into the textual carpet. In a day of white-bread renderings of the Bible, here is a nine-grain translation with no sugar or additives.

Today With Bullinger

Posted in Bible, Books, Bullinger by Jim on 18 Aug 2018

In Sacrosanctum Jesu Christi Domini nostri Evangelium secundum Matthæum Commentariorum libri XII. fol. Tig. 1542, was translated by Frisius into German, with the title, “The Hope of the Faithful,” and published August 18, 1544.

The preface to the volume is lovely. Really lovely.


In the Footsteps of King David

Posted in Archaeology, Book Review, Books by Jim on 17 Aug 2018

My review for Reading Religion is online.  Enjoy, fellow pilgrims.

From Wittenberg to the World

Posted in Book Review, Books, Refo500, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht by Jim on 17 Aug 2018

Details here.

978-3-525-53126-6_600x600New publication at Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht in the R5AS Series: From Wittenberg to the World. Essays on the Reformation and its Legacy in Honor of Robert Kolb, Charles Arand/Erik H. Herrmann/Daniel L. Mattson (eds.).

The book honours the Rev. Dr. Robert A Kolb, retired Director of the Institute for Mission Studies and Missions Professor in systematic theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and perhaps the leading authority on the development of “Wittenberg Theology” in the English-speaking world. At the same time, his teaching and writing, which continues without flagging, has emphasized the importance of translating and retranslating the historic Lutheran faith in terms that address contemporary issues and contemporary people. In this volume, colleagues and co-workers address and push forward Kolb insights into the history of the Reformation era and on the impact of those Reformation issues (and quarrels) on the life of the church in the world today.

With contributions by Charles Arand, L’ubomir Batka, Amy Nelson Burnett, Irene Dingel, Mary Jane Haemig, Scott Hendrix, Erik Herrmann, Werner Klän, David Lumpp, Mark Mattes, Daniel Mattson, Richard Muller, Paul Robinson, Robert Rosin, and Timothy Wengert.

See the contents here.

Readers are urged to consult the link immediately above where the table of contents and front matter are available.  Doing so permits you to see at a glance the great span of interesting essays which make up this very fine celebration of a very fine scholar’s work.

Robert Kolb began his scholarly career in 1968 and the vast array of publications he authored attest to his influence.  The bibliography the editors of the present work provide begins on page 327 and it is so extensive that it continues through page 355.  That’s twenty-eight pages!  That’s hundreds and hundreds of published works!  Kolb’s output is simply astonishing.  By contrast, my own bibliography is eight pages.  So Kolb has made me feel quite lazy and inadequate.

By the time he is finally done publishing on the subject of the Reformation his bibliography may well be in the 50 page range.

The contributors to this useful volume are also quite an impressive group.  Superstars in the field of Reformation research such as Amy Nelson Burnett, Scott Hendrix, Erik Herrmann, Richard Muller, Timothy Wengert and Irene Dingel all combine to make this gathering of essays very informative and educational.  This volume is indeed a very worthy addition to the prestigious Refo500 Academic Studies series published by Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht.

The essays which the present reviewer found to be the most engaging were those of Wengert and Dingel, along with Burnett’s.  These three are superb while the remaining essays are all very good.  Special mention should also be made of Mattson’s enjoyable ‘What Did Luther Know about Islam and Why Did He Want to Know It?’  It is both informative and timely.

I recommend this volume.  Readers will enjoy it.  I promise.  And furthermore, I offer the following assurance:  you will enjoy this volume as much as fans of the Harry Potter books enjoy them and even more than that, you will learn about actual things instead of about make believe pretendings.  If not, I will happily allow you a rebuttal here.

Das erste Buch Mose: Genesis

Posted in Biblical Studies Resources, Books, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht by Jim on 14 Aug 2018

This is definitely worth checking out.

Die biblische Urgeschichte bedenkt die Entstehung der Welt und ihrer Ordnung, das Woher des Menschen und die Ursprünge der Kultur. Sie ist Ausdruck für die in antiken Kulturen weitverbreitete und nach dem damaligen naturkundlichen Kenntnisstand durchdeklinierte Grundüberzeugung, dass alles Gegenwärtige und alles Zukünftige sein Wesen im Anfang erhalten hat. In diesem Sinne bietet die biblische Urgeschichte weniger eine Erklärung der Entstehung der Welt, sondern ist in erster Linie ein Versuch, die Erfahrung des Menschen mit sich und seiner Umwelt deutend zu verstehen. Im Zentrum dieses Nachdenkens in beispielhaften Erzählungen, zu denen sich naturkundliche, genealogische und geographische Ausführungen gesellen, steht der Mensch in seinen vielfältigen Beziehungen zum Mitmenschen, zur nichtmenschlichen Schöpfung und zu Gott.

Jan Christian Gertz legt mit seinem Werk eine neue Kommentierung der Urgeschichte vor, deren Erzählungen von Adam und Eva, Kain und Abel, der Arche Noach und dem Turmbau zu Babel wie wenige andere Literaturwerke unser Selbst- und Weltbild geprägt haben. Der Kommentar bietet Lesern und Leserinnen innerhalb wie außerhalb des Faches eine klar verständliche Synthese der bisherigen Forschung und stellt die Urgeschichte in den Kontext der Literaturen des alten Vorderen Orients. Die Neubearbeitung der Kommentierung der biblischen Urgeschichte für das Alte Testament Deutsch folgt derjenigen durch Gerhard von Rad aus dem Jahre 1949, deren letzte Überarbeitung 1972 erschienen ist.

With the writing of commentaries there is no end. And there is no end to the various interpretative moves commentators make in order to help their work stand out from the crowd.

The present commentary is no exception. Naturally, then, potential readers, the intended audience of this review, will want to know if this work is yet another in a long line of commentaries that repeat in a different way the same information. The answer is no. It is more than that.

To begin with, the introductory sections provide up to date information concerning sources and text editions, grammars and lexica, commentaries, and monographs and collections of essays; all related to Genesis 1-11.

The introductory chapter focuses on the contents of Genesis 1-11 and the importance of the ‘Urgeschichte’ in the context of the entirety of Genesis. Also of concern to the author of the commentary are the priestly and non priestly materials found in Gen 1-11.

Following these introductory matters, the commentary proper begins. Each pericope is treated individually and in canonical order. Each is also examined within its larger context, ‘Aufbau’, and ‘Enstehung’. These sections are noted in the margins of the page, so finding one’s place or interest is quite simple to achieve. Then follows the exegesis, by sense unit (i.e., sometimes a verse, sometimes several verses) proper.

Each user of every commentary has a section of a biblical text of particular interest and when examining new commentaries invariably turn to that passage to measure the new work against others. For the present reviewer, Genesis 9:18ff. Ever since encountering Gerhard von Rad’s treatment of the passage it has been a source of enduring fascination. What happened? Why the curse? It’s all so, on the surface, quite strange (like Exodus 4 and Yahweh’s attempted murder of Moses).

So how does Gertz ‘handle’ the problem text? Examining that question allows me to offer examples both of Gertz’s exegesis and his style of presentation. Accordingly, G. opines

Der Höhepunkt der Handlung ist vom unterschiedlichen Verhalten der 9, 22-24
Söhne gegenüber ihrem betrunkenen Vater und dessen harscher Reaktion geprägt. Ham sieht die Scham seines Vaters und lässt sich darüber vor seinen Brüdern aus, diese reagieren jedoch mit Respekt und bedecken den Vater, ohne ihn anzusehen. Dieser wiederum verflucht Hams Sohn Kanaan und segnet Sem und Jafet. Fluch und Segen zeigen deutlich, dass die Söhne Noachs und sein Enkel Kanaan weniger als Familienmitglieder denn als Repräsentanten von Volksgruppen zu verstehen sind. Ham, der Vater Kanaans, steht Sem, dem Vorfahren Israels (vgl. Gen 11,10-26), und Jafet gegenüber. Auch zwischen den beiden gesegneten Brüdern wird ein feiner Unterschied aufgemacht, insofern der singularische Auftakt von V. 23 „da nahm Sem und Jafet“ vor der pluralischen Fortsetzung „und sie legten“ andeutet, dass die Initiative bei dem an erster Stelle genannten Sem gelegen hat.

And then a bit further down:

Besonders prominent ist in diesem Zusammenhang die Erzählung von Lots Töchtern, die ihren Vater betrunken machen, um von ihm schwanger zu werden (Gen 19, 30-38). So hat man in dem Vergehen einen Inzest mit der (nicht erwähnten!) Frau des Vaters vermutet, was in Lev 20,11 als „Aufdecken der Scham des Vaters“ bezeichnet wird. Andere denken an einen inzestuös-homosexuellen Missbrauch des Vaters durch Ham. Schon die Rabbinen haben diskutiert, ob Ham seinen Vater kastriert oder vergewaltigt hat.

With incredible skill, Gertz connects the dots between various passages and shows how the earlier lay the foundation for the understanding and intention of the later. And he also shows how the text has been received and interpreted. Exegesis and Reception History are intertwined in this present work, and that brilliantly.

Gertz furthermore observes

Ham ließe sich nicht einmal der Vorwurf machen, er habe den Vater betrunken gemacht, um „seine Scham zu sehen“ (vgl. Hab 2, 15). Gleichwohl führt der Hinweis auf die Inzestverbote und die sexuelle Konnotation des verwendeten Vokabulars in die richtige Richtung.

And drawing it all together,

Damit wird wie mit den folgenden Fluch- und Segenssprüchen ein neuer Ton in der biblischen Urgeschichte angeschlagen: Die Episode mag auf den ersten Blick wie eine narrative Umsetzung der im Epilog der Sintflut formulierten Einsicht in den bleibenden Hang des Menschen zum Bösen wirken. Bei genauerer Betrachtung hebt sie sich aber recht deutlich von ihrem Vorkontext ab, indem sie die anthropologischen Aussagen der Sintfluterzählung in Urteile über abgrenzbare soziale Größen überführt und auf eine nach Fluch und Segen differenzierte Menschheit aufteilt. Die Konsequenz daraus ist, dass aus dem Hang des Menschen zum Bösen diejenige Einzeltat wird, deren Folge die Fluchexistenz Kanaans ist, womit die stereotype Beschreibung der Kanaanäer in der Mehrzahl alttestamentlicher Texte ihre urgeschichtliche Begründung erhält.

Gertz works in this manner throughout. He draws together materials from numerous sources and uses those materials to shed light on the pericopae of Gen 1-11. Though technical, this commentary is exceedingly clear and precise. Students of Genesis will find in it a veritable goldmine of exegetical insight. It doesn’t merely repeat what’s been said before elsewhere, it says something wise.

Tolle, lege.

I Agree- Don’t Link Reviews to Amazon, Link to the Publisher

Posted in Books by Jim on 10 Aug 2018

Here’s why.  And I would ask that others seriously consider following the same procedure.

Martin Bucer (1491–1551): Collected studies on his life, work, doctrine, and influence

Posted in Book Review, Books, Church History, Reformation by Jim on 9 Aug 2018

This volume is of interest to all who care about important things.

This present volume aims to stimulate Bucer-research as it brings together a selection of the best of De Kroon’s and Van ’t Spijker’s articles some of which appear for the first time in English translation. In the first section Bucer is described as taking his independent stand in the patristic and scholastic tradition. The next five articles go into the close personal and theological relation between Bucer and John Calvin and make clear how much of Bucer works through in Calvin and Calvinism. Bucer’s efforts to bridge theological and ecclesiastical gaps brought him often in discussion with catholic as well as protestant theologians. How he dealt with this is the topic of the third section in this volume. The two following articles deal with his view on discipline and on the right of resistance. The next articles deal with Bucer’s doctrinal legacy and the last section focuses on sanctification as one of the most important characteristics of his theology.The most important issues of contemporary Bucer-research and the outlines of his theology are convincingly presented in this volume by known experts for this topic.

V&R have sent along a review copy.  More later.

Invention of the First-Century Synagogue

Posted in Biblical Studies Resources, Books, SBL by Jim on 9 Aug 2018

Invention of the First-Century Synagogue by Lidia D. Matassa is now available for download. ANEM is an open-access series offered by SBL Press and the Centro de Estudios de Historia del Antiguo Oriente.

H/T Richard *I Won’t Ever Do That Again* Goode.

Der »Kritisch-exegetische Kommentar« in seiner Geschichte

Posted in Book Review, Books, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht by Jim on 8 Aug 2018

Der Kritisch-exegetische Kommentar zum Neuen Testament (KEK) wurde von Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer im Jahr 1829 begründet. Bis heute wird dieser Kommentar noch unter dessen Namen als »Meyers Kommentar« geführt. Das Kommentarwerk bietet zunächst ausschließlich von Meyer, später dann von seinen Mitarbeitern, bald dann von Mitgliedern der Religionsgeschichtlichen Schule und der Dialektischen Theologie bis heute in 16 Abteilungen grundlegende Kommentare zur Auslegung der neutestamentlichen Schriften. Theologisch bewegt sich das Kommentarwerk in Korrespondenz zur jeweiligen Theologiegeschichte (Rationalismus, Philologie, Religionsgeschichte, Kerygmatheologie). Kennzeichen des Kommentarwerks ist jedoch eine sich durchhaltende philologische und religionsgeschichtliche Akzentuierung. Unter den Kommentaren, die stets nur auf einen einzigen Band zu einer Schrift festgelegt waren, befinden sich theologische Meisterwerke wie Rudolf Bultmanns Kommentar zum Johannesevangelium oder wie Wilhelm Boussets Kommentar zur Johannesoffenbarung. Das vorliegende Werk zeichnet die Geschichte des KEK, seiner Autoren und seiner Beziehung zum Verlagshaus Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht von seinen Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart nach und bespricht die wechselvolle Auslegung der neutestamentlichen Schriften.

This volume is available in North America from ISD.  The publisher has sent along a review copy, so look for it soon.

Middle Knowledge: Human Freedom in Divine Sovereignty

Posted in Books by Jim on 8 Aug 2018

Most Christians believe God is in control, but they are unsure of how to reconcile that control with their struggles with sin, the command to evangelize, and the immense suffering in the world and their own lives.

Laing offers an introduction to the doctrine of providence based on the theory of middle knowledge, first articulated in the sixteenth century. This view describes how creatures have true free will and God has perfect knowledge of what each creature could and would do in any circumstance. Middle knowledge helps answer the most perplexing theological questions: predestination and salvation, the existence of evil, divine and human authorship of Scripture, and science and the Christian faith. Laing provides extensive biblical support as well as practical applications for this theology.

This looks interesting.  Kregel have sent a review copy, so my reading to and from and during the Calvin Congress a couple of weeks from now is all sorted.  So, more anon.

Approaching the Study of Theology: An Introduction to Key Thinkers, Concepts, Methods & Debates

Posted in Book Review, Books, Theology by Jim on 7 Aug 2018

Back in April I received a prepublication edition of this book. I’m reposting the review now after having received the published version which has just arrived. Sections marked UPDATE are new material for the present posting:

From the opening pages of the Bible, we learn of God as one who communicates with humankind—offering us first steps toward knowledge of the divine, the very foothold of theology. On this basis, Approaching the Study of Theology presents an engaging introduction to the breadth and depth of the study of theology, mapping the significant landmarks as well as the main areas of debate.

The book is divded into three parts:

Part I (Approaches) describes the major approaches to theology that have emerged and developed over time.

Part II (Concepts and Issues) explains the major concepts and issues, identifying theologians associated with each.

Part III (Key Terms) provides a helpful glossary of all the key terms that readers need to understand in order to better understand theology.

IVP have sent along a prepublication draft of this new work by Professor Thiselton.  In my review please note that no page numbers will be included because the draft manuscript includes none.

The work consists of an overview of theological trends in the introduction.  This overview discusses the biblical roots of theology and a description of  the major periods of theological development. Part One is very much akin to a ‘bible dictionary’ which lists, in alphabetical sequence, methodological approaches to theology including biblical theology, hermeneutical theology, political theology, and systematic theology among others.  Part Two adopts the same alphabetical sequencing but it’s concern is ‘Concepts and Issues’ like Atonement, Authority of the Bible, Justification, Resurrection of the Dead, etc.  These discussions, like those of part one, tend to be full and ‘encyclopedic’.  Indeed, part two is the bulk of the volume.  The third part of the volume, Key Terms, is simply a glossary.

The presentation is, necessarily, very general.  That is, each concept, term, method, etc. is described in quite sweeping terms.  The work aims to introduce, and merely introduce, the basics of theological enquiry.  The details are relatively accurate overall but sometimes they are incredibly inaccurate.

One glaring problem is what Thiselton writes about the Marburg conference:

In 1529 it became clear that there were disagreements among the Reformers on the nature of the Lord’s Supper.  Deeply concerned for Reformation unity, Luther sought a friendly conference with Zwingli, Melanchthon, and Bullinger (sic !)at Marburg. He did his best to achieve a united witness but Zwingli and others held firm in their beliefs…

The problems here are multiple: Luther didn’t seek any conference, friendly or otherwise, with Zwingli.  He was essentially forced into meeting with Zwingli and the others by Prince Philip.  He never wanted to participate and told friends on numerous occasions that the whole thing would be a waste of time.  He even wrote the Margrave thusly

I am indeed absolutely convinced that Your Sovereign Grace is completely sincere and has the best of intentions. For this reason I, too, am ready and willing to render my services in this, Your Sovereign Grace’s Christian undertaking, though I fear [my services] may be futile and perhaps dangerous for us. (Luther’s Works, Vol. 49: 230.)

Luther wasn’t interested in the meeting and thought it was a bad idea.

Further, Bullinger wasn’t there (see below).  And it wasn’t Luther who wanted to achieve a united witness but, again, the Prince and neither was it the others who were most intransigent- it was Luther.  In sum, then, the portrait of Luther here is totally wrong.  Thiselton simply misstates nearly every fact.

UPDATE:  the published version corrects the Bullinger error and replaces it with Bucer, rightly.  But the rest of the paragraph remains problematic.

As mentioned just above, the draft contains one particular error that I have reported to the publisher in hopes that there is still time before printing to correct it: Thiselton remarks, wrongly, that the conference in Marburg included Zwingli, Luther, and Bullinger (!).   Bullinger will be quite surprised to learn that.  Having offered a correction I’m happy to say that, thankfully, the editor has indeed agreed that this is an error (in consultation with the author) and have asserted that it will be corrected before the printing is completed.

The rest of the volume is not free of such egregious mistakes either, though.  For instance, in his treatment in part 3 of terms, Thiselton writes

The Greek words daimon and daimonion occur over 1200 times each and the verb daimonizomai over 1200 times in the Synoptic Gospels.

This is simply untrue.  ‘daimon’ doesn’t occur at all.  δαιμόνιον occurs only 15 times. δαιμονίου occurs 4 times.  And the verbal form δαιμονίζεται occurs but once.  In fact, δαιμον* in all its various forms only occurs 78 times in the entire New Testament.

UPDATE: The published edition retains these errors.  Regrettably.  Consequently, what I wrote concerning the pre-publication draft is still true of the published version:

Thiselton has written a volume that contains much that is useful.  But readers should fact-check his assertions via other resources.  He isn’t always accurate.

The Dead Sea Scrolls and German Scholarship: Thoughts of an Englishman Abroad

Posted in Books, Dead Sea Scrolls by Jim on 7 Aug 2018

By George Brooke

This booklet is a fresh consideration of German-speaking scholarship on the Dead Sea Scrolls; it divides the scholarship into two phases corresponding with pre- and post 1989 Germany.

In the first phase the dominant place given to how the scrolls inform the context of Jesus is analyzed as one of several means through which the study of Judaism was revitalized in post-war Germany. Overall it is argued that the study of the Scrolls has been part of the broader German tradition of the study of antiquity, rather than simply a matter of Biblical Studies.

In addition the booklet stresses the many very fine German contributions to the provision of study resources, to the masterly techniques of manuscript reconstruction, to the analysis of the scrolls in relation to the New Testament and Early Judaism, and to the popularization of scholarship for a thirsty public. It concludes that German scholarship has had much that is distinctive in its study of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Book Tips

Posted in Books by Jim on 6 Aug 2018

Right here.

A Series of Old Testament Study Guides You May Not Have Heard Of, But Should

Posted in Biblical Studies Resources, Books, SOTS by Jim on 4 Aug 2018

Bloomsbury is publishing a series of what they describe as ‘study guides’ for the Old Testament, but don’t make the mistake of thinking these are mere ‘Cliff Notes’.  Quite the contrary.  I reviewed a couple of these volumes in the most recent number of the Book List and they are exceptionally helpful.

Bloomsbury-T&T Clark’s Study Guides to the Old Testament present the latest in biblical scholarship in an engaging format for students and those approaching biblical texts for the first time. Each book covers the historical issues surrounding the text before moving on to consider interpretative issues and the range of approaches available to readers of the text. The books include further reading lists and pointers for students looking to further their knowledge. Each book is written by a member of the Society for Old Testament Study (SOTS), a prestigious academic society which celebrates its centenary in 2017.

The link above is to the list by date of publication.  Take a look.

Martin Noth Wrote a Lot

Posted in Biblical Studies Resources, Books by Jim on 3 Aug 2018

Here’s a listing of just some of the things in his bibliography.  Remember, just because something wasn’t published last week doesn’t mean it isn’t worth your time.  In fact in 99% of cases, the best stuff was written before you were born (unless you’re over 50).

Volumes of Interest

Posted in Biblical Studies Resources, Books by Jim on 2 Aug 2018
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Schnabel, Eckhard J. Jesus, Paul, and the Early ChurchMissionary Realities in Historical Contexts. Collected Essays

This volume contains seventeen essays written by Eckhard J. Schnabel over the past 25 years. They focus on the realities of the work of Jesus, Paul, John, and the early church, exploring aspects of the history, missionary expansion, and theology of the early church including lexical, ethical, and ecclesiological questions.

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Gerstenberger, Erhard S. Theologie des Lobens in sumerischen HymnenZur Ideengeschichte der Eulogie

[The Theology of Praise in Sumerian Hymns. Eulogy’s History of Ideas. Published in German.]

Erhard S. Gerstenberger analyzes various laudatory expressions containing the keyword zà-mí and shows that Sumerian praise is not simply a dutiful expression of awe in the face of supreme authorities but rather signifies an effective transfer of power towards the recipients of eulogy.

The German ‘Library of Alexandria’

Posted in Books by Jim on 2 Aug 2018

Remains of grand building that may have housed up to 20,000 scrolls uncovered in central Cologne, dating back to second century AD.

The remains of the oldest public library in Germany, a building erected almost two millennia ago that may have housed up to 20,000 scrolls, have been discovered in the middle of Cologne.

The walls were first uncovered in 2017, during an excavation on the grounds of a Protestant church in the centre of the city. Archaeologists knew they were of Roman origins, with Cologne being one of Germany’s oldest cities, founded by the Romans in 50 AD under the name Colonia. But the discovery of niches in the walls, measuring approximately 80cm by 50cm, was, initially, mystifying.

“It took us some time to match up the parallels – we could see the niches were too small to bear statues inside. But what they are are kind of cupboards for the scrolls,” said Dr Dirk Schmitz from the Roman-Germanic Museum of Cologne. “They are very particular to libraries – you can see the same ones in the library at Ephesus.”

It is not clear how many scrolls the library would have held, but it would have been “quite huge – maybe 20,000”, said Schmitz. The building would have been slightly smaller than the famed library at Ephesus, which was built in 117 AD. He described the discovery as “really incredible – a spectacular find”.

Read the rest and visit the link for photos.