Category Archives: Books

Melchizedek, King of ‘Sodom’

Sodom and its king, Melchezidek.  That’s the topic of Cargill’s third book.

Robert Cargill commences his study with an historical overview of the interpretation of Melchizedek.  Here he invites readers to an alternative theory concerning the city over which this character served as King.  A theory which appears to have arrived on the scene only in the early 20th century (1903 to be exact) as explicated by one Charles Edo Anderson.  Anderson believed (without any manuscript support) that Salem was actually Sodom in the story of Melchizedek in Genesis 14.

To carry on the Andersonian tradition, Cargill does a bit of exegesis in his second chapter, describing the structure of the narrative and the meaning of the King’s name and other such exegetical things and, frankly, he does a very good job of it.

Chapter three turns to the real heart of the matter: how did Sodom become Shalem in the Andersonian reading of Genesis 14?  To attempt to answer this question, Cargill looks at the text of the Hebrew Bible. He also takes a side glance at the propriety of adopting the more difficult reading.  Which is a bit odd here given the fact that the principle applies to text critical matters and there isn’t any ancient text which has Sodom in the place of Shalem.  Indeed, Cargill confesses

… I propose that in verse 18 the name is to be misunderstood as a gloss.  Specifically, I propose that in verse 18 the name Sodom was altered to Shalem for the theological purpose of distancing Abram from exchanging goods and oaths with the king of Sodom . … Melchizedek was originally the king of Sodom, not Shalem.  (p. 20)

I appreciate the proposal, but there, again, isn’t a shred of textual evidence for this supposition.  It is a hypothesis without a foundation.  It is speculation lacking evidence.

Mind you, Cargill will spend the remainder of the book building a very carefully constructed edifice in support of his hypothesis.  And readers may find themselves persuaded by his argument.  It is, after all, very good.  It is very Cargill-ian.  It is very bright and creative and almost persuasive save for the one troublesome fact that there is no support for it that isn’t imaginary.

At the end of chapter three, after arguing with all the acuity he possesses (and that is considerable), Cargill again opines

I propose that the change from Sodom to Shalem occurred in the post-exilic period, after the initial redaction of the Pentatuchal texts yet prior to the separation of the SP and MT traditions, and prior to any translations of the HB, including the LXX and the Targums (p. 35).

That’s convenient timing.  It allows the proposition to evade the unpleasant textual reality of the written text that we actually have.

Chapter four turns to the subject of how El Elyon became Yahweh.  This interesting chapter could stand on its own as an encyclopedia article on the subject.  It’s quite informative and ‘I find no fault in it’.

Chapter five is Cargill’s mighty attempt to demonstrate that there were sectarian redactions made to the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Masoretic text.  And of course he’s right.  There were sectarian redactions made and that fact is in and of itself well established.  Cargill’s abiding problem, however, is that there is no textual evidence that Sodom transformed into Shalem because of sectarian emphases.  Indeed, even if we posit the possibility of such changes, what could their motivation be?

But Cargill actually undermines his argument at this point, for he gives textual examples of sectarian changes!  A thing which he cannot do with Genesis 14.  So he provides readers with detailed, wise, and cogent illustrations from texts such as Ex 20 and Deut 5 and the SP’s 10th commandment; Dt 27:4 and its Mt Gerizim love.  And he’s right to insist that the Pentateuch was adjusted for sectarian reasons.  His problem is that Genesis 14 has no textual evidence of such a sectarian adjustment.   That sectarian changes happened does not prove that Genesis 14 is an example of them.

Chapter 6 is an examination of the transformation of Shalem to Jerusalem.  He begins

The evidence I have presented so far demonstrates clearly that there was an ideological competition, from the fifth through second centuries BCE and beyond between the Samaritan cult centered on Mt Gerizim and the Jerusalem cult centered on Mt Zion. (p. 55).

The word ‘clearly’ is always something of a red flag, isn’t it.  It may be clear to Cargill that his case has been made but others may not be equally convinced.  After all, we still have no textual evidence for the central claim.  And we don’t even have, yet, any corroboration.  We have instances and examples of various sectarian dabblings in the text; but we do not yet have any clear demonstration that sectarian interests affected Genesis 14’s choice of ‘Shalem’ and altered it to ‘Sodom’ or vice versa.

But Cargill continues quite manfully to muster evidence, even including a bit of Ugaritic (in Ugaritic font!!!).  When he arrives (after discussing Shalem  : Jerusalem) he brings readers to another aspect of his evidence: Tithes.  This too is an exceptionally written chapter which could also stand on its one in an extensive encyclopedia entry.  Cargill really is a very bright exegete and his work really is superb (even if his thesis in this volume lacks evidential support).  Chapter 8 examines Psalm 110.  And here, it has to be said, Cargill is at his very best as exegete.  He understands the text and its issues and he brilliantly describes the texts meaning.

His abiding problem, however, is that no matter what evidence he musters and what texts he assembles which happen to name Melchizedek, he has no reason besides supposition to assert that Sodom should replace Shalem as Melchizedek’s city.  In short he doesn’t make his case, in spite of his excellent exegesis, because the case cannot be made without textual support.  His is an impossible task because whatever case he makes, it stands on air.

Cargill, after his conclusion, provides readers with the Masoretic Hebrew text of Genesis 14.  This is followed by a second appendix with Cargill’s own translation of that passage.  A translation which – at verse 18 – describes Melchizedek as ‘King of Shalem’.  It’s hard to argue with what’s written when there isn’t any variant reading offering support for our speculative theories.

Finally there are a slew of other appendices (all the way to Appendix J) which offer the Hebrew language folk plenty of charts and tables to add to their other charts and tables (which things Hebrew language people dearly love).

There are endnotes instead of footnotes (why, Oxford?  Why?), a VERY thorough bibliography, an index of verses, and an index of subjects.

All in all this is a very interesting book. You should read it.  You should encourage your library to buy a copy.  Its central thesis is unproven but the material is well presented.

Perhaps at some point in the future there will be a discovery in the Judean desert and that discovery will be of a jar and in that jar there will be a scroll and on that scroll there will be a copy of Genesis 14 and in that copy of Genesis 14 there will be a variant reading and in that variant reading we will discover that Melchizedek was described as the King of Sodom.  And Cargill’s argument will be vindicated (if not entirely proven).


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Posted by on 23 Aug 2019 in Book Review, Book Review Pending, Books


Edmond Richer and the Renewal of Conciliarism in the 17th century

Originally published in French, this volume is now available in English.

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Posted by on 23 Aug 2019 in Books, Church History


Knowledge and Profanation: Transgressing the Boundaries of Religion in Premodern Scholarship

Brill has published this intriguing looking book:

Knowledge and Profanation offers numerous instances of profoundly religious polemicists profanizing other religions ad majorem gloriam Dei, as well as sincere adherents of their own religion, whose reflective scholarly undertakings were perceived as profanizing transgressions – occasionally with good reason. In the history of knowledge of religion and profanation unintended consequences often play a decisive role. Can too much knowledge of religion be harmful? Could the profanation of a foreign religion turn out to be a double-edged sword? How much profanating knowledge of other religions could be tolerated in a premodern world? 

In eleven contributions, internationally renowned scholars analyze cases of learned profanation, committed by scholars ranging from the Italian Renaissance to the early nineteenth century, as well as several antique predecessors. 

Contributors are: Asaph Ben-Tov, Ulrich Groetsch, Andreas Mahler, Karl Morrison, Martin Mulsow, Anthony Ossa-Richardson, Wolfgang Spickermann, Riccarda Suitner, John Woodbridge, Azzan Yadin, and Holger Zellentin.

Very interesting indeed.

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Posted by on 23 Aug 2019 in Books


The Impact of Jesus in First-Century Palestine: Textual and Archaeological Evidence for Long-standing Discontent

Although the archaeological evidence indicates a prosperous and thriving Galilee in the early first century CE, the Gospel texts suggest a society under stress, where the rich were flourishing at the expense of the poor. In this multi-disciplinary study, Rosemary Margaret Luff contributes to current debates concerning the pressures on early first-century Palestinian Jews, particularly with reference to socio-economic and religious issues. She examines Jesus within his Jewish environment in order to understand why he rose to prominence when he did, and what motivated him to persevere with his mission. Luff’s study includes six carefully-constructed essays that examine Early Christian texts against the wider background of late Second Temple Judaic literature, together with the material evidence of Galilee and Judea (Jerusalem). Synthesizing a wide range of archaeological and textual data for the first time, she offers new insights into the depth of social discontent and its role in the rise of Christianity.

More, including the TOC, here.

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Posted by on 22 Aug 2019 in Biblical Studies Resources, Books


Le livre d’Esther: Une exégèse en images

Via the author, who graciously provided a review copy of his new book-

Ouvrage d’histoire de la Perse achéménide, d’exégèse biblique et d’histoire de l’art religieux permettant de mieux comprendre les sens profane, politique et religieux du Livre d’Esther.

Reception history is the cutting edge of biblical scholarship.  And this volume sits on the very edge of that cutting edge.

English readers shouldn’t be fearful of the French title of the volume.  There is a helpful English summary for such persons.  And since the bulk of the book’s 700 pages is images depicting scenes from the book of Esther, any absence of skill in reading French is negligible.

In other words, English readers can benefit from the book almost as much as readers of French.  The author writes

This book is a journey in Jewish, Christian and Islamic works of art illustrating the Bible story. The two versions, the Masoretic, the Hebrew version retained by the Judaic and Reformed canon, as well as the Greek one admitted by the Catholic, Orthodox and Eastern Christian churches are quoted . Christian exegesis and the flourishing two millenia old rabbinic comments and Jewish legends illuminate the meanings of so many representations of the Book of Esther.

The author’s English is a bit shaky in places (but it’s better than any sentence I might hazard writing in French, so I am not criticizing his efforts in any respect).  For instance

Exegesis chapter discuss the origins of the text, its various versions, its reception by the monotheist religions. Old Mesopotamia and Persia history research demonstrate that, if the biblical scripture is a fiction by a Jew of the diaspora living in Persia some time later after the Hebrew people were liberated by Cyrus. The story is not the history but is full of historic references to historic events and persons. In this book we reveal who was the historic personage who inspired Haman. We explain why Mordekaï is named from Mardouk and Esther from Ishtar.

Etc.  It becomes immediately apparent that the author could have benefited from having a native English speaker go through the English summary.  Indeed

More than 700 art works are eBook hypertext (url) linkedto let reader wathch them full page as well as all consult references.

has much in it that needs to be cleaned up.  Nevertheless, English readers will get the gist.  And the purpose of the volume is illustration rather than discourse though, naturally, an ability to read French will make the work more useful than simply following the links to the images.

What follows is a description of the methodology utilized in the work and this is followed by a discussion of the book of Esther by means of exegetical snippets and hyperlinks to works of art illustrating the passage under consideration.

Perhaps the best way to describe this book is as an art exhibition catalog.  As readers ‘walk through’ the book of Esther a guide explains to them the artistic representations of Esther’s various scenes.

As such, it really is quite an interesting work.  It has weaknesses; i.e., the exposition isn’t always ‘critical’ (in the historical-critical sense) but the fact that the author has gone through the laborious process of assembling art connected to text is praiseworthy.

This is a volume worth using.



Social Memory among the Literati of Yehud

Ehud Ben Zvi has been at the forefront of exploring how the study of social memory contributes to our understanding of the intellectual worldof the literati of the early Second Temple period and their textual repertoire. Many of his studies on the matter and several new relevant works are here collected together providing a very useful resource for furthering research and teaching in this area.The essays included here address, inter alia, prophets as sites of memory, kings as sites memory, Jerusalem as a site of memory, a mnemonic system shaped by two interacting ‘national’ histories, matters of identity and othering as framed and explored via memories, mnemonic metanarratives making sense of the past and serving various didactic purposes and their problems, memories of past and futures events shared by the literati, issues of gender constructions and memory, memories understood by the group as ‘counterfactual’ and their importance, and, in multiple ways, how and why shared memories served as a (safe) playground for exploring multiple, central ideological issues within the group and of generative grammars governing systemic preferences and dis-preferences for particular memories.


Bullinger’s “Kommentare zu den neutestamentlichen Briefen: Hebräerbrief – Katholische Briefe”

Available here. Click the link and then the ‘downloads’ tab.

Im Geist der Reformation verstand Heinrich Bullinger Theologie in erster Linie als Auslegung der Heiligen Schrift. Mit diesem Band – dem neunten in der Reihe seiner Theologischen Schriften – wird die Edition seiner Kommentare zu den neutestamentlichen Briefen abgeschlossen. Darin enthalten sind die Auslegungen des Briefs an die Hebräer sowie der Katholischen Briefe.

Die Texte sind anhand der Erstauflage sowie der ersten Gesamtausgabe der Kommentare Bullingers zu den neutestamentlichen Briefen (1537) historisch-kritisch ediert worden. Erschlossen wird die Edition durch eine Einleitung und insgesamt vier Register (Bibelstellen, Quellen, Personen und Orte).

Bullinger’s commentaries on the Catholic Epistles and the Book of Hebrews are to this day helpful guides to understanding the biblical text.

The introductory chapter is an indispensable aid for seeing the commentaries in their proper historical light.  Following that, the volume offers modern scholars a critical edition of Bullinger’s work on Hebrews, First Peter, Second Peter, First John, James, and Second and Third John.  And Jude.

After the presentation of the critically achieved text of these commentaries, the editor of the volume, the amazingly careful and academically gifted Luca Baschera provides readers with a thorough bibliography, a Scripture index, a listing of sources, an index of persons, and an index of places.

Those indices are wonderful tools for the reader of the printed edition of the volume and readers and users of the electronic edition can, naturally, search for terms or places or Scripture passages quite easily by using the search feature of the PDF.

If, for instance, one wishes to know where Zwingli is mentioned, one need simply ‘search’ Zwingli.

Another important feature of this important work is the marginal notes which, as is the case of the other volumes in the series, allows readers to scan the pages quite quickly and follow the main points of the presentation, stopping along the way at those places of personal interest.

The biblical text upon which Bullinger comments is the Latin.  This because these works were intended for the intelligentsia and not the average pew occupying Zuricher.  They were intended to be read by the learned clergy and those clergy were intended to take what they learned in the pages of Bullinger’s works to their own congregants.

Bullinger’s handling of the biblical text is, as hinted at above, remarkably timeless.  Take, for instance, his treatment of the crucially important James 2:14-17-

14 Qua utilitas, fratres mei, si fidem dicat aliquis habere se, facta vero non habeat? Num potest fides salvum facere illum? 15 Quod si frater aut soror nudi fuerint et egentes quotidiano victu, 16 dicat autem aliquis vestrum illis: abite cum pace, calescite et saturamini, non tamen dederitis illis, quae sunt necessaria corpori, quae erit utilitas? 17 Sic et fides, si 10 facta non habuerit, mortua est per se.

Bullinger observes

Refutat nunc validius hypocritas et titulotenus christianos vividis argumentis docens, non satis esse verbis profiteri fidem, nisi et operibus misericordiae et charitatis praestemus eandem. Isti, quod et paulo ante monui, iactabant solam fidem iustificare, se autem credere, ergo et iustos esse, et recte quidem si per fidem intellexissent coelestem, vivam et efficacem per charitatem vim, nunc autem iactabant vanam quandam de deo et religione opinionem, quam nulla sequebatur vitae morumque mutatio. Ea vero non est fides illa, cui scripturae tribuunt iustificationem. Appellatur tamen a Iacobo »fides« idque per mimesim; hypocritae enim de opinione sua ceu fide gloriabantur. Contra hos autem:  »Quae«, inquit, »utilitas, fratres mei, si dicat aliquis se habere fidem, facta vero non habeat?« Hoc est: »Nihil prodest homini, si tantum dicat: ›Credo in Christum‹, interim vero effectis caret fidei.« Efficit autem fides in pectoribus fidelium serenam conscientiam, tranquillum animum, securum minimeque de bonitate dei atque promissis, maxime de remissione peccatorum nihil ambigentem, sed in concussa spe aeternam vitam expectantem. Efficit praeterea, ut rebus studeamus sanctis piisque, abnegemus indies mundanas concupiscentias et desyderia carnalia. Praestat item, ut deum diligamus atque proximos, iis inserviamus officiis pietatis, misericordia ac charitate.

Haec, inquam, sunt facta sive fructus fidei. Iam ergo, qui his destituitur, nullum certe fructum ex eo sentit, quod dicit se  credere. Atque hoc est, quod dicit Iacobus: »Num potest fides salvum facere illum?«, iterum nominans fidem non vividam fidem, sed inanem de religione conceptam opinionem. Iactitat aliquis se habere vel herbam vel radicem, quae ex lacte hausta medeatur febribus. Haec quid, obsecro, prodest febricitanti, si hausta eam vim non habet, quam iste iactabat habere? Ad eundem modum quid proderit homini fidem iactasse et effectibus fidei caruisse? Iactitat aliquis fidem, sed fides iustificat et ad opera charitatis impellit; hic vero iniustus et immisericors est; quid ex his aliud colligas, quam istum fide carere? D[ivus] Iacobus huius rei evidentem producit parabolam: »Si quis«, inquit, »sorori aut fratri, cui vestis desit ac victus quotidianus, dicat blandis verbis: ›Abite cum pace‹ (Got t b e r adt üc h)  ›dominus provideat vobis victum et amictum‹, atque haec loquutus nihil interim eorum dederit, quae vitae necessaria sunt sustentandae, verba quidem bona loquutus est, sed illa nihil prosunt egentibus, qui nihilominus algent et esuriunt.«

Ioannes potius non sermone et lingua, sed in veritate et opere docet christianos diligere. Ad hunc autem modum habet et negotium praesens. Si quis dicat:  »Credo in Christum et habeo fidem evangelicam«, egregiam quidem professionem facit, at si nihilominus impurus est, avarus et immisericors, inutilis est illa professio. Id vero Iacobus sic enunciat: »Sic et fides, si facta non habuerit, mortua est per se«, hoc est sola; id est: inane fidei vocabulum inefficax est. Et mortuus homo speciem habet hominis, vim et opera hominis non habet. Inde autem tracta est metaphora ad fidem vocabulo tantum, non etiam re fidem.  ….

Etc.  For 8 more pages on these 4 verses.  Bullinger wasn’t averse to using a lot of ink and paper.

Stunningly, Bullinger still speaks today.  I think the reason for that is because his interpretation of Scripture is theologically oriented and the truth of Scripture is mirrored in the truths of Bullinger’s exegesis.

This is a remarkable volume.  Do obtain a copy (it’s free) and add it to your personal collection.  And then read it.  And what you read, share.  The publisher is to be thanked for making it available.  The editor is to be thanked for a stupendous job.


Reminder: You Need a Commentary That Helps Make Sense of the Bible

the-person-the-pew-commentary-seriesThe ‘Person in the Pew’ commentary series is the only series of Commentaries in modern history written by a single person on the entire Bible and aimed at layfolk .  Everyone needs a commentary on the Bible that they can understand and that answers their questions about the meaning of the text.  So I wrote one.

If you or someone you know wants to get a copy of the entire 42 volume collection in PDF format, you can do so from yours truly for the exceptionally reasonable price of  $75 by clicking my PayPal Link.  Leave your email in your paypal payment note so I can send it to you right away.

Should you only wish one volume, email me and we can arrange it.


I got the commentaries Memorial Day weekend and started with Genesis 1:1. This week I started the Book of Joshua. Never have I ever read the books of the Bible with such understanding. It has opened the scriptures in a way I’ve never before experienced. Lois told me about the commentaries ages ago. I wish I had gotten them sooner. Thank you Dr. Jim West for making them available.  – Judy Byrge

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Posted by on 20 Aug 2019 in Bible, Biblical Studies Resources, Books, Commentary



Um das 6. Jahrhundert v.Chr. traten in verschiedenen Kulturräumen der Welt unabhängig voneinander Philosophen und Propheten auf, die das bisherige mythische Denken überwanden: Konfuzius und Laotse in China, Buddha in Indien, Zarathustra in Persien, die Propheten des Alten Israel und die vorsokratischen Philosophen in Griechenland. Diese Zeit wurde von Karl Jaspers «Achsenzeit» genannt. Jan Assmann beschreibt, wie Historiker und Philosophen seit der Aufklärung die erstaunliche Gleichzeitigkeit der Achsenzeit-Kulturen erklärt und in der Achsenzeit die geistigen Grundlagen der Moderne gesucht haben. Die Annahme einer Achsenzeit der Weltgeschichte wurde so zu einem Gründungsmythos der Moderne. Sie hält einer historischen Überprüfung zwar nicht stand, wie das Buch anschaulich zeigt, aber an das damit verbundene Bestreben, eine eurozentrische Sicht auf die Geschichte zu überwinden, können wir bis heute anknüpfen.

A review copy has arrived.  More on this prize winning volume in due course.

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Posted by on 20 Aug 2019 in Biblical Studies Resources, Book Review, Book Review Pending, Books


How Old is the Hebrew Bible?

The age of the Hebrew Bible is a topic that has sparked controversy and debate in recent years. The scarcity of clear evidence allows for the possibility of many views, though these are often clouded by theological and political biases. This impressive, broad-ranging book synthesizes recent linguistic, textual, and historical research to clarify the history of biblical literature, from its oldest texts and literary layers to its youngest. In clear, concise language, the authors provide a comprehensive overview that cuts across scholarly specialties to create a new standard for the historical study of the Bible. This much-needed work paves the path forward to dating the Hebrew Bible and understanding crucial aspects of its historical and contemporary significance.

Ronald Hendel is the Norma and Sam Dabby Professor of Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and general editor of The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Edition.Jan Joosten is Regius Professor of Hebrew at the University of Oxford and editor-in-chief of Vetus Testamentum.

My review will appear in SJOT in a future issue.  For now I will simply summarize my findings.

First, this volume is both interesting and provocative.  Second, the examples offered which the authors opine support their thesis that the Hebrew language’s development can be traced within the Hebrew Bible are intriguing even if relatively sparse (given the data set (the entire HB)) that they have to work with.  More evidence will need to be found.  If their examples are the full extent of their evidence, then their thesis is very tenuous.  And third, their aim to

… reinscribe historical research on the Hebrew language where it belongs: at the heart of biblical studies…

is both noble and necessary.  Research on the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages do indeed belong at the heart of biblical studies.  Woe betide poor students in theology and biblical studies institutions where that is not the case.

If this little book (it’s just 125 pages plus a couple of appendices and indices) can persuade people to study Hebrew, then it is a glorious achievement, even if it proves unable to demonstrate that the development of Hebrew can be traced in the pages of the Hebrew Bible.

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Posted by on 20 Aug 2019 in Biblical Studies Resources, Book Review, Books


Today With Bullinger

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.


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Posted by on 18 Aug 2019 in Bible, Books


The English Bible in the Early Modern World

The English Bible in the Early Modern World addresses the most significant book available in the English language in the centuries after the Reformation, and investigates its impact on popular religion and reading practices, and on theology, religious controversy and intellectual history between 1530 and 1700. Individual chapters discuss the responses of both clergy and laity to the sacred text, with particular emphasis on the range of settings in which the Bible was encountered and the variety of responses prompted by engagement with the Scriptures. Particular attention is given to debates around the text and interpretation of the Bible, to an emerging Protestant understanding of Scripture and to challenges it faced over the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.


  • Many of the essays herein are exceptional but some stand out for their intriguing content and wonderful writing styles.  These are
  • Nuts, Kernels, Wading Lambs and Swimming Elephants: Preachers and Their Handling of Biblical Texts, by Mary Morrissey
  • The Catholic Contribution to the King James Bible, by Gordon Campbell
  • ‘Not the Word of God’: Varieties of Antiscripturism during the English Revolution, by Ariel Hessayon

The volume is, as are so many these days, the outcome of a conference:

This volume is the third to emerge from the ‘Insular Christianity’ Project, based in Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin, and more especially from the symposium held in Trinity in 2011.

Clearly the production of the volume took a number of years, given that this collection was not published until 2018.  But, as the old saw goes, it was worth waiting for.

Morrissey’s wonderful essay includes this important observation, which is worth repeating at length:

I would argue that biblical commonplaces facilitated, rather than constrained, a preacher’s engagement with topical subjects. Preachers did not create new political meaning for passages from the Bible; such meanings were often already there, in the interpretations that had accrued around the text in previous ages. The preacher often needed only to give a renewed valence to those particular readings, and he could do this by demonstrating that current events were best understood in the light of already-instituted interpretations of his chosen passage from Scripture. Commonplacing provides us with a vital interpretative tool when approaching early modern sermons. A great many of the printed sermons are conventional: they say very much the same sorts of things based on the same biblical text.

Naturally there is little to argue with here, as she has put her finger on the pulse of early modern Christianity.  In much the same way, it has to be said, that Campbell has tapped into an important aspect of the history of the KJV and its dependence on the New Testament translation of the version of Douey-Rheims in his distinguished contribution.  For instance, he remarks

There are many different sorts of debts of the kjv to Reims, and many examples of each kind, but the scale of the debt is clearly very considerable. It is clear that on occasion Gregory Martin’s excellent ear for demotic English caught the eye of the kjv translators. The best known example occurs at Mark 1.45, when the leper whom Jesus has healed, in the words of the Bishops’ Bible, ‘began to tell many thynges, and to publishe the saying’. This is a perfectly adequate translation, as διεφημίσθην means ‘to spread a report’. Reims, however, has ‘began to publish and to blaze abroad the matter’.

He amply illustrates this dependence.  Brilliantly.

This is a wonderfully informative volume and I heartily recommend it to all who have interest in the history of the Bible in England.

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Posted by on 17 Aug 2019 in Book Review, Books, Church History


The Presentation of the Thomas L. Thompson Festschrift in Warsaw

From the editors of the Festschrift, this news:

Dear Colleagues,

As You know we wanted to present the pre-print version of the TLT Volume to Tom during current EABS meeting in Warsaw. We have managed to include all recently made corrections on the proofs file into the manuscript. The pre-print was printed and bounded into the book-like form.

After one of the sessions at the EABS meeting today, we presented the volume in public, read the names of the contributors, and afterwards read the title only at the end. Tom was shocked! So, we managed not only to have the volume done, but also to keep secret for two years. Still the indexes are missing. The publisher scheduled (real) book for November. In the attachment you will find the photo taken few hours ago at the meeting.

In the name of our editorial team (Emanuel and myself) I would like to thank you very much for your contribution. We have – all together – done something good, and Tom deserves it.

Best regards


Order a copy for yourself here.

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Posted by on 12 Aug 2019 in Biblical Studies Resources, Book of the Week, Books


The Trial and Crucifixion of Jesus: Texts and Commentary

This may be of interest to folk:

The significance of Jesus’ death is apparent from the space that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John devote to the Passion narrative, from the emphasis of many speeches in the book of Acts, and from the missionary preaching and the theology of the apostle Paul. Exegetical discussions of Jesus’ trial and death have employed biblical (Old Testament) and extrabiblical texts in order to understand the events during the Passover of AD 30 that led to Jesus’ execution by crucifixion. The purpose of this book is to publish the primary texts that have been cited in the scholarly literature as relevant for understanding Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. The texts in the first part deal with Jesus’ trial and interrogation before the Sanhedrin, and the texts in the second part concern Jesus’ trial before Pilate. The texts in part three represent crucifixion as a method of execution in antiquity. For each document, the authors provide the original text (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, or Latin), a translation, and commentary. The commentary describes the literary context and the purpose of each document in context before details are clarified, along with observations on the contribution of these texts to understanding Jesus’ trial and crucifixion.

Hendrickson has sent along a review copy.  More later.

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Posted by on 12 Aug 2019 in Biblical Studies Resources, Book Review, Book Review Pending, Books, Hendrickson


Biblical Narratives, Archaeology and Historicity: Essays In Honour of Thomas L. Thompson

A Festschrift for a more than deserving friend:

This volume collects essays from an international body of leading scholars in Old Testament studies, focused upon the key concepts of the question of historicity of biblical stories, the archaeology of Israel/Palestine during the Bronze and Iron Ages, and the nature of biblical narratives and related literature.

As a celebration of the extensive body of Thomas L. Thompson’s work, these essays enable a threefold perspective on biblical narratives. Beginning with ‘method’, the contributors discuss archaeology, cultural memory, epistemology, and sociology of knowledge, before moving to ‘history, historiography and archaeology’ and close analysis of the Qumran Writings, Josephus and biblical rewritings. Finally the argument turn to the narratives themselves, exploring topics including the possibility of invented myth, the genre of Judges and the depiction of Moses in the Qu’ran. Presenting an interdisciplinary analysis of the historical issues concerning ancient Israel/Palestine, this volume creates an updated body of reference to fifty years’ worth of scholarship.

And the contents are fantastic:


1. The City of David as a Palimpsest, Margreet Steiner
2. Living in the Past? Keeping Up-To-Date in Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Raz Kletter
3. What People Want to Believe: Or Fighting Against Cultural Memory, Niels Peter Lemche
4. The Need for a Comprehensive Sociology of Knowledge of Biblical and Archaeological Studies of the Southern Levant, Emanuel Pfoh


5. The Abraham and Esau-Jacob Stories in the Context of the Maccabean Period, Lukasz Niesiolowski-Spanò
6. Tell Balata (Shechem): An Archaeological and Historical Reassessment, Hamdan Taha and Gerrit van der Kooij
7. ‘Solomon’ (Shalmaneser III) and the Emergence of Judah as an Independent Kingdom, Russell Gmirkin
8. On the Pre-Exilic Gap between Israel and Judah, Étienne Nodet
9. Perceptions of Israel’s Past in Qumran Writings: Between Myth and Historiography, Jesper Høgenhaven
10. Is Josephus’s John the Baptist Passage a Chronologically Dislocated Story of the Death of Hyrcanus II?, Greg Doudna
11. Thompson’s Jesus: Staring Down the Wishing Well, Jim West
12. The Qur’an as Biblical Rewriting, Mogens Müller


13. The Food of Life and the Food of Death in Texts from the Old Testament and the Ancient Near East, Ingrid Hjelm
14. A Gate in Gaza: An Essay on the Reception of Tall Tales, Jack M. Sasson
15. Deborah’s Topical Song: Remarks on the Gattung of Judges 5, Bob Becking
16. How Jerusalem’s Temple Was Aligned to Moses’ Tabernacle: About the Historical Power of an Invented Myth, Rainer Albertz
17. Can the Book of Nehemiah Be Used as an Historical Source, and If So, of What? Lisbeth S. Fried
18. Chronicles’ Reshaping of Memories of Ancestors Populating Genesis, Ehud Ben Zvi
19. The Book of Proverbs and Hesiod’s Works and Days, Philippe Wajdenbaum
20. The Villain ‘Samaritan’: The Samiri as the Other Moses in Qur’anic Exegesis, Joshua Sabih

That list of contributors is a veritable who’s who of scholars of exceptional reputation and it’s wonderful to see all those who are closest to Thomas taking part.


Big News: Volumes in the ‘Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis’ Series Are Now Available Online, Free


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Posted by on 9 Aug 2019 in Books


August 9- #BookLoversDay

Me too, Desiderius, me too-  even if the meme maker doesn’t know how to spell your name…

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Posted by on 9 Aug 2019 in Books


Luther und die Reformation in internationalen Geschichtskulturen: Perspektiven für den Geschichtsunterricht

Available in Open Access.

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Posted by on 8 Aug 2019 in Books, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht


V&R Have a Whole Raft Coming Soon Of Exegetical Works

You can check out forthcoming volumes and those newly appearing here.

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Posted by on 8 Aug 2019 in Books, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht


Oxford Commentary on the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Oxford Commentary on the Dead Sea Scrolls is a series intended for the scholarly study of the most important non-biblical Dead Sea Scrolls. It aims to provide scholarship of the highest level that is accessible to non-specialists, based on the best digitized images and readings. Each volume will include a synthetic and substantial introduction, followed by a line-by-line commentary on the scrolls. The commentary will provide an English translation, textual notes and thematic discussions of the original Hebrew text of the scrolls.


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Posted by on 7 Aug 2019 in Books, Dead Sea Scrolls