The Origins of Judaism: An Archaeological-Historical Reappraisal

Throughout much of history, the Jewish way of life has been characterized by strict adherence to the practices and prohibitions legislated by the Torah: dietary laws, ritual purity, circumcision, Sabbath regulations, holidays, and more. But precisely when did this unique way of life first emerge, and why specifically at that time?

In this revolutionary new study, Yonatan Adler methodically engages ancient texts and archaeological discoveries to reveal the earliest evidence of Torah observance among ordinary Judeans. He examines the species of animal bones in ancient rubbish heaps, the prevalence of purification pools and chalk vessels in Judean settlements, the dating of figural representations in decorative and functional arts, evidence of such practices as tefillin and mezuzot, and much more to reconstruct when ancient Judean society first adopted the Torah as authoritative law.

Focusing on the lived experience of the earliest Torah observers, this investigative study transforms much of what we thought we knew about the genesis and early development of Judaism.

The Hunt for Ancient Israel: Essays in Honour of Diana V. Edelman

The Hunt for Ancient Israel celebrates the contribution of Diana V. Edelman to the field of biblical studies and celebrates her personally as researcher, teacher, mentor, colleague, and mastermind of new research paths and groups. It salutes her unconventional, constant thinking and rethinking outside the box, and her challenging of established consensuses.

This volume includes essays addressing biblical themes and texts, archaeological fieldwork, historical method, social memory and reception history. Contributors include Yairah Amit, James S. Anderson, Bob Becking, Ehud Ben Zvi, Kåre Berge, Anne Fitzpatrick-McKinley, Susanne Gillmayr-Bucher, Lester L. Grabbe, Philippe Guillaume, David Hamidović, Lowell K. Handy, Maria Häusl, Kristin Joachimsen, Christoph Levin, Aren M. Maeir, Reinhard Müller, Jorunn Økland, Daniel Pioske, Thomas Römer, Benedetta Rossi, Cynthia Shafer-Elliott, Jason Silverman, Steinar Aandahl Skarpnes, Pauline A. Viviano, and Anne-Mareike Schol-Wetter.

Back to Reason

 

Twenty years ago some biblical scholars at the University of Copenhagen were denounced as being nihilists and a threat to western civilization. What was their crime? They had exposed the fallacies of traditional historical-critical biblical scholarship, which was neither historical nor critical. Although the historical-critical interpretation of the Bible had developed over a period of more than a hundred years, it had ended up, with the help of a rationalistic paraphrase of the stories of the Old Testament, creating a society out of this world called biblical Israel. Israel was like no other society in the ancient world, and scarcely a real historic society at all. It was structured like a house of cards. Therefore, when some scholars began to question the historical content of the construction of ancient Israel, as it was usually called, the edifice broke down, first in bits and then totally. This study addresses the development of ‘Minimalism’ from its roots in the historical-critical paradigm and outlines an alternative theory which exposes and explains the intention behind the fallacy of using a story found in the Old Testament to simply invent the biblical concept of Israel.

Get 25% off using code BR at checkout.

Representations of Antiquity in Film: From Griffith to Grindhouse

Representations of Antiquity in Film offers an introduction to how the ancient world is represented in film and especially Hollywood cinema. McGeough considers the potential that movies have for helping us think about antiquity and their relationship to more traditional academic historical work. The book shows how contemporary issues are drawn out through the cinematic presentations of the past and how modern values are naturalized through their presentation in ancient settings. Through discussion of films from the silent film era to the present, McGeough traces the formative role that films of various genres have had in shaping our perceptions of Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Holy Land, Greece, Rome, barbarian Europe, and the Maya. Not ignoring the traditional historical epic film, the book also presents detailed analyses of comedies, action films, art house fare, exploitation flicks and any type of movie in which audiences experience depictions of the past. By considering cinematic narrative as well as various elements of film design, McGeough presents a comprehensive overview of the topic designed for students and scholars with varying backgrounds in media studies, archaeology, religious studies, and ancient history.

Get 25% off quoting code RA at checkout.  That makes the paperback edition mucho affordable-o.

In Pursuit of Visibility: Essays in Archaeology, Ethnography, and Text in Honor of Beth Alpert Nakhai

In Pursuit of Visibility: Essays in Archaeology, Ethnography, and Text in Honor of Beth Alpert Nakhai includes fifteen essays that honor Beth’s important contributions to the field of Near Eastern Archaeology and tireless efforts to acknowledge and support women in the profession. The volume was presented to Beth in Tucson this week and is available through Archaeopress for sale as a hard copy or open access as a PDF eBook.

Dogmatik

Dogmatics embodies the nature of Christian faith and reflects the truth content and meaning of the Christian understanding of God and world. Important issues in Christian dogmatics include: the clarity of the terminology used, links to biblical and church traditions, and connections to experience and thought in the contemporary life world. 6th, updated and corrected edition.

A lovely review copy arrived in the mail some time back.  Visit this link for the table of contents, and a good bit of the front matter which can be downloaded freely.

This is the 6th edition of this Dogmatic.  And the foreword to it begins delightfully-

Wenn ein Buch in der 6. Auflage erscheint und dabei in der Substanz gleich geblieben ist, sollte man erwarten dürfen, dass im Lauf der Zeit alle Druckfehler eliminiert wurden. Aber bei der erneuten gründlichen Durchsicht eines solchen Buches entdecken Leser und Autor doch fast immer neue, meist kleine Fehler und Verbesserungsmöglichkeiten, die bisher verborgen geblieben waren. So auch diesmal, wobei Frau S. Scherer, Herr K. Decker und Herr H. J. Schliep sich diesmal um die Aufspürung und Eliminierung von solchen Fehlern verdient gemacht haben. Dafür danke ich ihnen auch an dieser Stelle herzlich.

You would indeed imagine that after 6 editions, and all the reviews, proofings, etc., all infelicities would be removed.  Ah, perfection; such an elusive goal.  And never, it seems, to be achieved in this world.

The very fact that this book as been revised 6 times, though, speaks to its abiding relevance and importance.  And the span of time which this volume has occupied is also testament to its powerful and insightful construction.  First published in 1994 as that year ended and 1995 commenced, and being reissued here with minor adjustments from the 5th edition in 2022, means that it has been in use continuously for 28 years.  Few theological texts designed for classroom use can make that claim.

And this is the ideal textbook for a course in Dogmatics.  It’s more compact than Brunner’s 3 volumes and its more up to date too.  Not to mention, of course, the advantages it has over Barth’s monstrosity (which could never seriously be used as a text for a course in Dogmatics these days).

H. begins with Dogmatics as a Wissenschaft and then in the first major division looks at the part Dogmatics plays in reconstructing the essence of the Christian Faith.  The second part then gives itself to the description of Christianity’s understanding of its own essential truths.  These include its understanding of God and the world.  Here the doctrines explicated are Theology, Christology, Pneumatology, The Trinity, Creation, Sin, Salvation, and of course, finally, Eschatology.

I wasn’t able to find many reviews of this behemoth (sadly- I think it should have received much wider scholarly attention than it did in 1996, the year after its publication).  But ThLZ 1996, nr. 7. has a very enlightening look at the work by Dietz Lange.  His conclusion?

Alles in allem: H.s Dogmatik ist ein Buch, das man Studenten zum Einstieg ins Fach wie auch zur Examensvorbereitung ebenso empfehlen kann wie Pfarrern und Religionslehrern zur Vertiefung und Weiterbildung – also genau für die Zwecke, für die der Autor sie geschrieben hat (IX).

The quibbles of the review aside, this is both a fair and a judicious assessment.  This book, especially in its most recent incarnation, really is highly recommendable to students and Pastors and instructors of Religious Studies.  The very people for whom H. wrote it.  If you’re a student, a pastor, or a religious studies instructor, or you are just an interested someone who wishes to deepen your understanding of Christian theology, this is a tremendous place to start.

And then you can move on to Brunner and Pannenberg and Barth.

Covenant: A Vital Element of Reformed Theology

Covenant: A Vital Element of Reformed Theology provides a multi-disciplinary reflection on the theme of the covenant, from historical, biblical-theological and systematic-theological perspectives. The interaction between exegesis and dogmatics in the volume reveals the potential and relevance of this biblical motif. It proves to be vital in building bridges between God’s revelation in the past and the actual question of how to live with him today.

I had the privilege of reading the essays contained in this book at an earlier stage of their composition and so this will serve more as a note of appreciation for the authors of these works and the editors of this volume than as a review of it all.

It blends nicely the chief approaches used in academic theological circles to the question of the ‘covenant’.  The link above provides the table of contents and some of the book’s freely available materials.  I am particularly appreciative of the editor’s introduction, which states in clear terms exactly what the book is about and how it is set up.

This volume presents different perspectives on the covenant, which will be accounted for in this introduction. Still, there is a clear thread. The motif of the covenant highlights God’s faithfulness towards his people, which is actualized in each generation. The biblical theme of covenant is a dynamic concept, apt to be shaped in different ways in the times of the Old and New Testaments, renewing the fundamental relationship of God with his people in continually changing circumstances. The Reformed tradition has always sensed the importance and relevance of this theme, as it typically underlines God’s gracious allegiance towards people who do not merit being his partners. Nevertheless, this concept has not received equal attention in every phase of the Reformed tradition.

I suppose that it’s fair to insist that the least that can be said of the volume is that it achieves its purpose.  Much more, of course, can be said of it.  But at least it does what it tells readers it’s going to do.

After rehearsing the history of the question, the editors duly observe

To conclude, there are enough reasons today to reconsider the theme of the covenant, from the perspectives of linguistic studies, of Ancient Near East sources, of historical research of federal theology, and of recent biblical theological publications.

So it starts.  The theme of ‘covenant’ is reconsidered from a variety of perspectives.

There are a number of places where the volume soars.  Pierrick Hildebrand’s efforts to explicate the theology of Bullinger are super.  But they should be since Bullinger’s theology is well known to Hildebrand.  Similarly throughout, the contributors are very well acquainted with the subjects they explore.  And none of them are like American Politicians who were chosen to say something just because they have name recognition and not because they have expertise.  Experts are assembled here.

The volume also soars in Covenant Theology as Trinitarian Theology: A Discussion of the Contributions of Michael S. Horton, Scott W. Hahn, and N.T. Wright, by the bold and clear-eyed Arnold Huijgen.  In evaluating Wright’s work, Huijigen observes

Wright does not keep Israel and eschatology together: for the church of the present day, eschatology remains instead of Israel. Israel, the previous act of the play, plays a subordinate role, in memory.

And too politely

N.T. Wright provides a historical picture, although his five act hermeneutic leads to an underestimation of Israel, and possibly of the authoritative nature of the text.

And of all three of the authors he evaluates, he closes thusly:

All in all, earlier criticisms of Reformed covenant theology can be countered by biblical resourcing and thoroughly trinitarian theology. Thus, covenant theology need not be speculative, bourgeois or a replacement theology that eclipses Israel. Rather, covenant theology as trinitarian theology stays close to the authoritative biblical history, is eschatological in nature, in ongoing solidarity and unity with Israel.

Speculative, bourgeois, and supercessionist.  That sums it up pretty well.

This is a very enjoyable (in an academic sense, not in the sense of a Marvel film) book.  If they ever made it into a movie I can’t imagine very many people enjoying it.  But that’s because people generally go to movies to escape, not to think.  This book will make you think.  Read and enjoy.

The Finality of the Gospel: Karl Barth and the Tasks of Eschatology

In this volume, leading systematic theologians and New Testament scholars working today undertake a fresh and constructive interdisciplinary engagement with key eschatological themes in Christian theology in close conversation with the work of Karl Barth. Ranging from close exegetical studies of Barth’s treatment of eschatological themes in his commentary on Romans or lectures on 1 Corinthians, to examination of his mature dogmatic discussions of death and evil, this volume offers a fascinating variety of insights into both Barth’s theology and its legacy, as well as the eschatological dimensions of the biblical witness and its salience for both the academy and church.

Here’s the table of Contents:

Introduction– Kaitlyn Dugan and Philip G. Ziegler

1 The Beginning of the End or the End of the Beginning? Barth’s Eschatology as a Guide to the Perplexed- Christoph Schwöbel

2 Eschatology and Gospel in the Time of Expectation- Kenneth Oakes

3 The Custody of Hope—The Resurrection of the Dead and Christian Existence- Susan Eastman

4 “The Day Is at Hand”—Barth’s Interpretation of Pauline Eschatology in the Römerbrief- John M.G. Barclay

5 The Idolatrous Self and the Eikon—The Possibility of True Worship– Grant Macaskill

6 The Finality of the Gospel—Barth’s Römerbrief  on Romans 9–11– Beverly Roberts Gaventa

7 Paul’s Account of the Future: A Case Study in Pauline Dogmatics– Douglas A. Campbell

8 Redemption of This World—Reflections on Eschatology in Light of Barth’s Dogmatic Lectures in Münster (1925–1926)– Christophe Chalamet

9 “Standing on the Boundary, Where Now and Yet Then Touch Each Other”—Barth on Theodicy and Eschatology- Christiane Tietz

10 The Ethics of Resisting and Accepting Death in Karl Barth’s Theology- Nancy J. Duff

11 The First and Final “No”—The Finality of the Gospel and the Old Enemy– Philip G. Ziegler

Bibliography
Index

Save for one chapter, it looks absolutely amazing.  A review copy arrived today.  More anon.

Qumran

Die Schriftfragmente und Ruinen, die 1947 – 1956 am Toten Meer entdeckt wurden, geben bis heute Rätsel auf. War die Gemeinschaft, die hier lebte, eine Art Kloster, eine absonderliche Sekte oder eine Schreibwerkstatt? Kam Johannes der Täufer oder Jesus hierher? Der renommierte Bibelwissenschaftler  Reinhard Kratz verabschiedet in seinem bahnbrechenden Buch viele der gängigen Hypothesen und zeigt, dass wir in Qumran Zeugnisse des entstehenden «biblischen Judentums» vor uns haben, das sich von anderen Jahwe-Verehrern abgrenzte und bis heute in Judentum und Christentum lebendig ist.

Die Fragmente von rund tausend hebräischen, aramäischen und griechischen Handschriften, die in Höhlen nahe der Siedlung Hirbet Qumran zutage gefördert wurden, sind eine der spektakulärsten Entdeckungen des 20. Jahrhunderts. Die Texte geben Einblick in die Lebens- und Vorstellungswelt einer bis dahin völlig unbekannten Gruppe des Judentums der hellenistisch-römischen Zeit. Reinhard Kratz erklärt die Geschichte der Funde und ihrer Erforschung, rekonstruiert die Organisation der Gemeinschaft und erläutert, wie und warum hier so viele Texte entstanden. In einem souveränen Durchgang durch die wichtigsten Schriften macht er deutlich, dass die Gemeinschaft Teil einer Bewegung war, die sich auf die biblischen Schriften, besonders Tora und Propheten, berief und vom traditionellen jüdischen Opferkult distanzierte. Klar und anschaulich entsteht so ein neues, plastisches Bild von der Vielfalt des antiken Judentums und der frommen Bewegung, aus der auch das Christentum hervorging. 

One could be forgiven for thinking that surely by now everything that can be said about Qumran and its famous scrolls has been.  The subtitle of the book goes a bit of the way in justifying its existence: The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Origin of Biblical Judaism.  It’s 320 pages, 29 images, 16 table, and 2 maps take us a little further on the path to justifying its existence.  And its description (above) by its publisher takes up even further.

But the real justification for the existence of this volume is in the reading of it itself.  Nothing clarifies the reason a book exists better than a reading of it.  Reviews, descriptions, blurbs, advertisements, and everything else used these days to get people to open books and read them are merely the appetizer.  The real meal is in the reading.  And this meal is a feast.

The contents, as found at the link above, list the ‘menu’ for the feast:

Einführung

I . «Bücher in hebräischer Schrift»: Ein spektakulärer Fund
II . «Um in die Wüste zu gehen»: Kirbet Qumran und die Essener
III . «Abgewendet vom Weg dieses Volkes»: Die Textüberlieferung
IV . «Damit du Einsicht gewinnst»: Die Textentstehung
V . «Dies ist die Ordnung»: Die Statuten der Gemeinschaft
VI . «Wir aber sagen»: Die Auslegung der Tora
VII . «Wir und unsere Väter vor uns»: Die Aneignung der heiligen Geschichte
VIII . «Seine Deutung ist»: Die Kommentierung der Propheten
IX . «Gepriesen seist Du»: Die Anbetung Gottes
X . «Das Geheimnis des Gewordenen»: Die Erforschung von Himmel und Erde
XI . «Wir haben uns abgesondert»: Qumran im antiken Judentum

Anhang
Liste der behandelten Qumranschriften
Zeittafel
Glossar
Anmerkungen
Literatur
Bildnachweis
Stellenregister 

A reading sample is provided by the publisher here.  The complete table of contents is there available, and worthwhile reading it is indeed.  There are also at that link the Introduction and the first chapter.

Kratz describes the aim of the book wonderfully after discussing the importance of the Scrolls’ discovery:

Üblicherweise werden Qumran und die Texte vom Toten Meer als ein singuläres historisches Phänomen für sich betrachtet und allenfalls mit dem zeitgenössischen und späteren rabbinischen Judentum sowie dem frühen Christentum in Verbindung gebracht. Dieses Buch beschreitet einen anderen Weg, den der Untertitel «Die Schriftrollen vom Toten Meer und die Entstehung des biblischen Judentums» zum Ausdruck bringt. Da in Qumran Handschriften biblischer und außerbiblischer (parabiblischer und qumranischer) Werke gefunden wurden, setzt die vorliegende Darstellung beides miteinander in Beziehung und erklärt eines aus dem anderen. Die Gemeinschaft von Qumran erweist sich so als ein fortgeschrittenes Entwicklungsstadium des von mir so genannten «biblischen Judentums», dessen Anfänge sich in der Entstehung der Hebräischen Bibel widerspiegeln.

Accordingly, this isn’t a book about Qumran itself so much as its a book about how the Scrolls discovered there have a veritable boatload of information relevant to the development of Judaism itself.  And that is why this book is different from so many others, and so very much worth studying.

As usual, Kratz has provided a volume which while appearing on the surface might run the risk of rehashing old well known tropes in reality he brings readers cutting edge, helpful, informative, learned scholarship.  Read this book if you have any interest in the development of Judaism.

2 Corinthians: Reformation Commentary on Scripture

When the Reformers of the sixteenth century turned to this biblical text, originally written by Paul to the first-century church in Corinth, they found truths that apply to Christians regardless of their historical context. For example, Reformed theologian Wolfgang Musculus wrote, “To be a Christian is to be in Christ. If anyone is outside of Christ, he is not a Christian. It is easy to partake of the sacraments and to be of the name and profession of Christ, but that is not what it means to be in Christ… The largest part of Christians is still an old creature for they have not yet been regenerated and renewed by the spirit of Christ. To know a Christian, therefore, we should not so much examine his external profession, but his life.”

In this volume of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture, Reformation scholar Scott Manetsch guides readers through a wealth of early modern commentary on the book of 2 Corinthians. Readers will hear from familiar voices and discover lesser-known figures from a diversity of theological traditions, including Lutherans, Reformed, Radicals, Anglicans and Roman Catholics. Drawing upon a variety of resources—including commentaries, sermons, treatises, and confessions—much of which appears here for the first time in English, this volume provides resources for contemporary preachers, enables scholars to better understand the depth and breadth of Reformation commentary, and seeks to encourage all those who would be newly created in Christ.

A review copy arrived today.  More later.

Die Propheten der Bibel

Die Entstehung der jüdischen Religion ist eng mit den Propheten verbunden. Der renommierte Bibelwissenschaftler Reinhard G. Kratz rekonstruiert die Geschichte der biblischen Prophetie von ihren Ursprüngen in der altorientalischen Mantik über die Entstehung prophetischer und apokalyptischer Schriften bis hin zu ihrer Rezeption in Judentum, Christentum und Islam. Sein konziser Überblick auf dem neuesten Forschungsstand bietet einen einzigartigen Schlüssel zum Verständnis der abrahamitischen Religionen.

Not since Gerhard von Rad’s study on the Prophets has a volume been able to say so much in so little space.  This just south of 200 page book (plus appendices, etc.), easily read in a couple of days, is so amazingly engaging and so well conceived and executed that not only does it deserve to have a very wide readership in German, but it should most certainly be translated into English, French, Spanish, Chinese, and as many other languages as possible.

Visit this link for a sample of the volume including the front matter and Contents.  There you’ll notice that the volume is laid out in a marvelously sensible way.  Only someone who has taught Hebrew Bible for a good while will have the skills to organize material that makes as much sense as this volume’s arrangement.

Beginning with the most basic issues related to how the prophets have been read and moving to the wider vista of the phenomenon of prophecy in the ancient Near East, Kratz next focuses more narrowly on the prophets of Judah and Israel.  Having presented the historical basics, Kratz then takes readers on a tour of the particular prophets whose words and deeds we putatively have contained in the documents we call the Old Testament.  That is, he examines the how and why of the scripturalization of the prophetic oracles.

Following in the next three chapters Kratz examines the beginning, middle, and end of the phenomenon of prophecy in the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah.  Afterwards, Daniel and the Apocalyptic prophetic texts are center stage.

And then we come to what is surely the most important ‘reception historical’ aspect of the works of the Prophets: their use in and by the composers of the Qumran scrolls.  Here, in chapter nine, the subsections are worth repeating from the link above:

Die Propheten in den Texten vom Toten Meer

  1. Die Gemeinschaft von Qumran
  2. Prophetie und Schriftgelehrsamkeit
  3. Abschrift und Zitat
  4. Text und Kommentar
  5. Biblische Geschichte und Zeitgeschehen
  6. Prophetenbuch und Pescher

Von Rad, of course, could not have imagine such an investigation, but Kratz can, has, does, and carries it off superbly.  Here his familiarity with the Qumran scrolls is on full, stunning display.

The final chapter is a brief look at the function of Prophecy in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

This book, then, is not simply a history of the phenomenon of Prophecy in the ancient Near East.  It is a deeply intelligent study of prophecy in its several environments within and outside of the Hebrew Bible.  It is a reception-history masterfully presented.

And just in case its contents ring a bell with the older folk among us, there is good reason for it.  Kratz remarks

Das vorliegende Buch basiert auf dem Band Die Propheten Israels in der Reihe C.H.Beck Wissen (2003). Er wurde für die vorliegende Neuausgabe durchgesehen, aktualisiert und um die Kapitel zu Qumran (Kapitel IX) und zu den Propheten in Judentum, Christentum und Islam (Kapitel X) erweitert. Den allgemeinverständlichen Stil der Originalausgabe, in der keine Fußnoten vorgesehen waren, habe ich beibehalten. Weiterführende Hinweise zur Forschung und vertiefenden Lektüre finden sich im Anhang. Nachdem die Originalausgabe vergriffen war, erreichten mich vielfach Anfragen von Kollegen, die das Buch im akademischen Unterricht verwenden, Studierenden und interessierten Lesern nach einer Neuauflage. Ich danke dem Verlag C.H.Beck und insbesondere meinem Lektor Ulrich Nolte, dass sie diesem Wunsch nachgekommen sind und die erweiterte Ausgabe möglich gemacht haben.

Do yourself a favor and read the materials presented in the pdf at the link above.  You’ll want more.  Indeed, you’ll want to read the whole volume.  And that, dear reader, is exactly what you should do.

[Plus, it has a cool cover!]

Christliches Leben und die Verbesserung des Menschen: Enhancement und Heiligung bei Calvin

Be better, be more beautiful, perform better! Self-optimization is all the rage. What do theology and the church have to say about it? Should they issue a warning and strike up a cultural pessimistic tune? Maybe they could activate their own resources, which have the potential for discursive compatibility with phenomena of self-improvement. This study brings the discourse of enhancement into dialogue with the locus of healing in Calvin.

Freely available in Open Access or for a cost for a hard copy.

Understanding Texts in Early Judaism: Studies on Biblical, Qumranic, Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature in Memory of Géza Xeravits

This volume remembers Géza Xeravits, a well known scholar of deuterocanonical and Qumran literature. The volume is divided into four sections according to his scholarly work and interest.

Contributions in the first part deal with Old Testament and related issues (Thomas Hiecke, Stefan Beyerle, and Mattew Goff).

The second section is about the Dead Sea Scrolls (John J, Collins, John Kampen, Peter Porzig, Eibert Tigchelaar, Balázs Tamási and Réka Esztári).

The third section deals with some cognate literature (József Zsengellér and Karin Schöpflin). The last section about the Ancient Synagogue has the paper of Anders Kloostergaard Petersen.

The largest part is the forth on deuterocanonica (Beate Ego, Lucas Brum Teixteira, Fancis Macatangay, Tobias Nicklas, Maria Brutti, Nuria, Chalduch-Benages, Panc Beentjes, Ben Wright, Otto Mulder, Angelo Passaro, Friedrich Reiterer, Severino Bussino, Jeremy Corley and JiSeong Kwong).

Some hot topics are discussed, for example the Two spirits in Qumran, the cathegorization of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the authorship and antropology of Ben Sira, and the angelology of Vitae Prophetarum.

When a 48 year old scholar dies it sends shockwaves through the academic world.  48 is far too young to leave this life, especially when one leaves behind 4 minor children as the honoree of this Festschrift did.

At the link above, at the contents tab, interested persons can find freely available the front matter, table of contents, and memorialization of Prof. Xeravits, a Hungarian scholar of no mean skill.

The bibliography provided by the editors of Prof. Xeravits is massive.  He published books in English and German, and of course his native Hungarian in the dozens.  His edited volumes too number in the dozens.  Even more extensively did he publish articles, book chapters, and lexicon entries, in English, German and Hungarian.  His bibliography goes on for 8 finely printed pages.

The people who were so inclined as to devote their time and energy for the Festschrift out of respect for the honoree is a veritable who’s who of Hebrew Bible scholars.  Ben Wright, Anders Petersen, Otto Mulder, Jiseong James Kwon, Beate Ego, Jeremy Corley, John Collins, and Pancratius Beentjes are among them, with many others besides.  25 scholars in total contributed to the collection.

The volume extends to all of the areas which were of interest to Prof X.  These include Old Testament and Early Judaism, Qumran, the deuterocanonicals, cognate literature, and the ancient synagogue.  Two of the essays are in German and the rest are in English.  None are in Hungarian, for which I suppose most of us will be grateful.

The topics of the entries are themselves a tribute to the Professor, because they are expressive of many of the most interesting subjects in Hebrew Bible studies.  Or, perhaps, Old Testament studies (since many of the deuterocanonical texts have no as yet known Hebrew Vorlage).

Per my usual custom I’d like to list the entries that I found the most important (to my own interests).  These are

  • John J. Collins- The Two Spirits and the Origin of Evil  (No one knows more about the origin of evil than John Collins)
  • Réka Esztári – Children Confined in the House of Darkness: An Akkadian Incantation Ritual of the Stillborn  ( I was unfamiliar with this scholar but am extraordinarily glad this essay is included.  It is stunningly interesting)
  • Beate Ego and Lucas Brum Teixeira – “Narrate omnia mirabilia eius” (Tob 12:20 Vg): Jerome’s Vulgate Version of Tobit as a Wundergeschichte  (The only essay in the collection with a dual authorship.  25 scholars, but 24 essays in total make up the book)
  • Nuria Calduch-Benages – “Pillars of Gold on Plinths of Silver. . .” (Sir 26:18): Female Body Imagery in Ben Sira  (This is one of the most important essays in the collection because it opens up new ways of understanding a really intriguing line in Sirach)
  • JiSeong James Kwon – Is Wisdom in Baruch 3:9–4:4 Combined with Torah?  (An important entry not only because its scholarship is top notch, but because it comes from the pen of an Asian colleague and a voice we need to hear in academic studies much more than we do)

The volume ends not only with the aforementioned bibliography of Prof X, but with a List of Contributors, an Index of Modern Authors, an Index of Sources, and an Index of Subjects.

The importance of this work is twofold:  first, it offers readers first rate scholarship on a wide range of topics in our beloved field of study; and second, it allows us to hear a wide range of academic voices which, hopefully, will help all of us expand our own field of vision.  This is a wonderful Festschrift.  It’s a pleasure to read and an even greater pleasure to recommend.

Malum: A Theological Hermeneutics of Evil

This looks amazing.  And Dalferth is a first rate scholar, so it should be fantastic.

The incursion of evil has always caused people to turn to the divine, to gods or to a god, in order to reorientate their life. Ingolf U. Dalferth studies the complexity of this procedure in three thought processes that deal with the central concepts in the Christian understanding of malum as privation (a lack of good), as evil-doing, and as a lack of faith. In doing so, he provides a detailed discussion of theories of theodicy, the argument from freedom, and the religious turn to God, in which the author explores the traces of the discovery of God’s goodness, justness, and love in connection with the malum experiences in ancient mythology and biblical traditions.

Die Druckmacher

Der Buchdruck veränderte die Welt, doch es bedurfte einer zweiten Generation von «Printing Natives», die mit Ablassbriefen, Thesen, Diffamierungen und Sensationsmeldungen als Massenware einen tiefgreifenden Kulturwandel entfesselte. Der renommierte Kirchenhistoriker Thomas Kaufmann zeigt in seinem anschaulichen, Augen öffnen den Buch, warum wir die «Generation Luther» besser verstehen, wenn wir die heutigen «Digital Natives» betrachten – und umgekehrt.

Die ersten Autos waren motorisierte Kutschen, der Computer diente als Schreibmaschine, und gedruckte Bücher setzten die handgeschriebenen fort: Innovationen werden zunächst in den gewohnten Bahnen genutzt, bevor eine zweite Generation die neuen Möglichkeiten ausschöpft. Thomas Kaufmann beschreibt, wie um 1500 eine junge Generation die Drucktechnik nutzte, um gegen die «Türkengefahr» zu mobilisieren, Ablassbriefe zu vertreiben und für eine «Reformation» der Kirche zu kämpfen. Drucker wie Aldus Manutius, Graphiker wie Albrecht Dürer, Humanisten wie Erasmus von Rotterdam und Johannes Reuchlin oder Theologen wie Martin Luther und Ulrich Zwingli vermarkteten sich auf Flugschriften und in Traktaten selbst und machten Druck: Gegner wurden in wachsenden Echoräumen diffamiert, Ereignisse zu Sensationen gemacht, um eine sich zerstreuende Aufmerksamkeit zu fesseln. Die Reformation war, wie Thomas Kaufmann zeigt, nur ein Teil dieses viel breiteren kulturellen Umbruchs. Schließlich veränderte die neue Technik die Art des Forschens und mit Enzyklopädien oder druckgraphischen Werken die Weise, wie Menschen die Welt wahrnehmen. 

Thomas Kauffmann is probably Europe’s foremost expert on Luther and the Lutheran Reformation presently working. His work on Luther and the Jews is the most fair minded and judicious of the genre. His familiarity with the era extends well beyond Luther, though, covering such arcane topics as The Anabaptists, and the Reformation in general, along with the history and importance of printing for the spread and dissemination of the Reformation.  

The present volume, which has as its subject, the last named topic is a production of C.H. Beck and it offers potential readers of the work the opportunity to read 32 pages of the book.  Here.  The table of contents is one of the pieces available at the link, so I won’t trouble the reader with repeating it here.

Carefully, sagely, Kaufmann works through the topics which he has selected, showing readers in a meticulous fashion the absolute importance of the revolutionary tool called printing.  Describing it as Die erste Medienrevolution, Kaufmann delineates how and to what effect printing came to be such a dominant factor in the Protestant revolution.

In the second chapter, K. delves more deeply into the chief proponents and practitioners, including Johannes Reuchlins and his kostspieliges Projekt, and Erasmus von Rotterdam und sein Bestseller.  These representatives of the craft of publishing literally changed the world.

The third chapter focuses more narrowly on the effects to which Luther put printing.  Luther, the publisher.  Or rather, Luther, the published.  Luther simply would have never been Luther had there been no printing press willing to churn out his voluminous, never ending stream of output.  Oecolampadius and Zwingli also make an appearance in this chapter as do Hätzer und Müntzer and the always enthralling Flugschriften.

Finally, in the fourth chapter, the sorts of things produced come into finer focus.  These include bibles, hymnbooks, catechisms, and the like.

There are several indices (again, see the sample linked to above).  And as a whole, the volume delivers real appreciable scholarship.  There are also lots of illustrations, book plates, printers marks, that sort of thing, which bring the reader ever closer to the 16th century itself.  Indeed, by the time one is finished reading through this amazing volume, one can almost smell the ink and paper from a print shop in Wittenberg.

Perhaps a few excerpts will show in a clearer way exactly what it is Kaufmann has achieved here.  So, for instance, on p. 87-

And earlier

Thus, not only does Kaufmann demonstrate throughout a thorough grasp of the primary sources, he utilizes them to proper effect when they are needed to make his point.  He does this regularly, but not excessively.  It is, like the porridge that Goldilocks ate, not too hot or cold.  It’s just right.

He follows the same procedure with the materials he provides as photos and the like:

All of these aspects make this volume absolutely essential for anyone researching the 16th century in Europe; the history of Religion; the history of printing; the Reformation era; or cultural history.

I cannot recommend it too highly.  It is not to be missed.