Category Archives: Brill

Cultural Shifts and Ritual Transformations in Reformation Europe

This volume honors the work of a scholar who has been active in the field of early modern history for over four decades. In that time, Susan Karant-Nunn’s work challenged established orthodoxies, pushed the envelope of historical genres, and opened up new avenues of research and understanding, which came to define the contours of the field itself. Like this rich career, the chapters in this volume cover a broad range of historical genres from social, cultural and art history, to the history of gender, masculinity, and emotion, and range geographically from the Holy Roman Empire, France, and the Netherlands, to Geneva and Austria. Based on a vast array of archival and secondary sources, the contributions open up new horizons of research and commentary on all aspects of early modern life.

Contributors: James Blakeley, Robert J. Christman, Victoria Christman, Amy Nelson Burnett, Pia Cuneo, Ute Lotz-Heumann, Amy Newhouse, Marjorie Elizabeth Plummer, Helmut Puff, Lyndal Roper, Karen E. Spierling, James D. Tracy, Mara R. Wade, David Whitford, and Charles Zika.

Festschriften (I just can’t drag myself to say ‘Festschrifts’) tend to be quite technically oriented.  They are written by colleagues of the honoree and reflect, generally, the interests of said honoree.  Given that they are by scholars for scholars, it is utterly unsurprising that they are not ‘popular’ and are not intended for a general reading public.

This volume is no different in that respect.  It aims to please its recipient, and, given her glowing appreciation expressed at a recent conference I think that it well achieved it’s aim.

Naturally this suggests that while she may have found it extremely good, other readers may not have the same reaction, since the essays are not written in appreciation of them, but of her.  Yet that suggestion would be wrong, because this is a collection that will be of great interest to all scholars of the Reformation.  These essays are astonishingly engaging, even when their titles may hint at a bit of dust.

  • Luther and Gender
  • High Noon on the Road to Damascus: A Reformation Showdown and the Role of Horses in Lucas Cranach the Younger’s Conversion of Paul (1549)
  • How to Make a Holy Well: Local Practices and Official Responses in Early Modern Germany
  • Advice from a Lutheran Politique: Ambassador David Ungnad’s Circular Letter to the Austrian Estates, 1576
  • Above the Skin: Cloth and the Body’s Boundary in Early Modern Nuremberg
  • Masculinities in Sixteenth-Century Imagery: A Contribution to Early Modern Gender History

These and the other essays in this book may have somewhat unconventional sounding titles (for Reformation studies) and they may seem to be super-specific (and they are), but potential readers ought not let that ‘scare them off’.  These contributions are festooned with incredibly interesting historical facts.  And, as the foreword reminds us

Despite the fact that the editors of this volume have divided its articles neatly into sections that reflect the progression of Karant-Nunn’s intellectual journey, the perceptive reader will quickly recognize the influence and inspiration of the entire spectrum of her oeuvre across each of the sections. That that influence reflects many of the broader trends in the study of the Reformation should come as no surprise: to a significant degree, such developments have Karant-Nunn to thank.

A book organized according to the intellectual journey of its honoree is not only a very good way to do things, but a very good way to allow others to investigate topics of interest to themselves and interact with the views of the honoree.  But the volume also includes, aside from brilliant text, a fairly extensive number of color and black and white illustrations that are sharp, crisp, and detailed.  These add immensely to the usefulness of the volume.

A sample worth sharing is from, in my opinion, the best of the essays in the volume- that of Amy Nelson Burnett, who writes in her Streitkultur Meets the Culture of Persuasion: The Flensburg Disputation of 1529

In April 1529 a public disputation was held in Flensburg, located in the duchy of Schleswig near the Danish border, that pitted the furrier and lay preacher Melchior Hoffman against the Lutheran clergy of the region. Because of Hoffman’s later career as an Anabaptist leader, it might be thought that the disputation concerned the issue of infant baptism, but in fact the disputation centered on the substantial presence of Christ’s body and blood in the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper. Held six months before the more famous Marburg colloquy between Martin Luther and the Swiss reformers, the Flensburg disputation was the first public disputation devoted specifically to the Lord’s Supper. Susan Karant-Nunn was one of the first historians to consider the Protestant Lord’s Supper from the perspective of social and cultural history rather than theology.

Reformation scholars, persons interested in gender studies, and those inclined to the investigation of the minutest details of early modern European history will all enjoy making their way through this collection.  I think you will enjoy it.  And so I recommend it to you.

Four Kingdom Motifs before and beyond the Book of Daniel

Edited by : Andrew Perrin and Loren T. Stuckenbruck.

The four kingdoms motif enabled writers of various cultures, times, and places, to periodize history as the staged succession of empires barrelling towards an utopian age. The motif provided order to lived experiences under empire (the present), in view of ancestral traditions and cultural heritage (the past), and inspired outlooks assuring hope, deliverance, and restoration (the future).Four Kingdom Motifs before and beyond the Book of Daniel includes thirteen essays that explore the reach and redeployment of the motif in classical and ancient Near Eastern writings, Jewish and Christian scriptures, texts among the Dead Sea Scrolls, Apocrypha and pseudepigrapha, depictions in European architecture and cartography, as well as patristic, rabbinic, Islamic, and African writings from antiquity through the Mediaeval eras.

The book is open access and thus free to download in PDF.

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

This collection of essays has now been published-

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

Professor Knoppers died suddenly on December 22, 2018.  That afternoon Jack Sasson wrote

I am extremely saddened to write today with the awful news that Gary Knoppers, John A. O’Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, died suddenly this morning.

The essays here collected, the full list of which you can read at the link above under ‘table of contents’, are the gathered works of one of this generation’s most gifted minds.  Ranging from the topics of ancient history and historiography, to scribal practices and mimesis, to David, the Law, the Temple, to the exile and the exilic period, Knoppers knew it all.  He was, in terms of biblical scholarship, a man who knew all the ins and outs of the whens and hows and whys.

Aside from knowing all the major (and minor) issues related to the scholarship of the Hebrew Bible, Knoppers was an excellent communicator, a writer with the ability to describe clearly and purposefully the subject at hand.

For many years I’ve been of the opinion that only people who really understand something are able to explain it clearly enough for someone generally educated to comprehend it.  The more complex the issue, the more an expert must understand it in order to be able to explain it.  Gary was that sort of person.  He was able to take the most complex issues in biblical studies and explain them so that students, colleagues, and even opponents could understand them clearly.

Each of the essays in the present volume is a tribute to its author.  Eight of them are newly published here for the first time, with the remaining seven extensively revised and updated before inclusion.  To put it another way, none of the essays in their present form have ever appeared anywhere else.

Each essay is fully documented, and there are plenty of materials pointed to for those interested in further investigation of any of the subjects covered.

People familiar with Knoppers’ work will know him to be a trustworthy friend in scholarship.  Those unfamiliar with him will find here what I hope will be an introduction to his thoroughness, thought, and writing style.  So informed, I sincerely hope they move on to read his commentaries and other works.

A worthy scholar deserves readers.  Gary Knoppers was among the worthiest.

Cultural Shifts and Ritual Transformations in Reformation Europe: Essays in Honor of Susan C. Karant-Nunn

This volume honors the work of a scholar who has been active in the field of early modern history for over four decades. In that time, Susan Karant-Nunn’s work challenged established orthodoxies, pushed the envelope of historical genres, and opened up new avenues of research and understanding, which came to define the contours of the field itself. Like this rich career, the chapters in this volume cover a broad range of historical genres from social, cultural and art history, to the history of gender, masculinity, and emotion, and range geographically from the Holy Roman Empire, France, and the Netherlands, to Geneva and Austria. Based on a vast array of archival and secondary sources, the contributions open up new horizons of research and commentary on all aspects of early modern life.

Contributors: James Blakeley, Robert J. Christman, Victoria Christman, Amy Nelson Burnett, Pia Cuneo, Ute Lotz-Heumann, Amy Newhouse, Marjorie Elizabeth Plummer, Helmut Puff, Lyndal Roper, Karen E. Spierling, James D. Tracy, Mara R. Wade, David Whitford, and Charles Zika.

A Companion to the Reformation in Geneva

A Companion to the Reformation in Geneva describes the course of the Protestant Reformation in the city of Geneva from the 16th to the 18th centuries. It seeks to explore the beginnings of reform in the city, the struggles the reformers encountered when seeking to teach, minister to, educate, and discipline the inhabitants of Geneva, and the methods employed to overcome these obstacles. It examines Geneva’s relations with nearby cities and how Geneva handled the influx of immigrants from France. The volume focuses on the most significant aspects of life in the city, examines major theological and liturgical subjects associated with the Genevan Reformation, and describes the political, social, and cultural consequences of the Reformation for Geneva. 

Contributors include Jon Balserak, Sara Beam, Erik de Boer, Michael Bruening, Mathieu Caesar, Jill Fehlieson, Emanuele Fiume, Hervé Genton, Anja Silvia Goeing, Christian Grosse, Scott Manetsch, Elsie McKee, Graeme Murdock, William G. Naphy, Peter Opitz, Jennifer Powell McNutt, Jameson Tucker, Theodore G. Van Raalte, and Jeffrey R. Watt. 

Any volume edited by Jon Balsarek is a volume worth reading.

Readers will wish to consult the table of contents at the link above to see in brief what the volume at hand is about.  In his editorial introduction, Balsarek writes

One thing apparent from even a cursory examination of the Genevan Reformation is the amount of violence associated with it.  from Geneva’s use of torture to the riots that broke out in church during baptisms to the draconian measures for enforcing moral norms by the Consistory and Petit Conseil to the near- perpetual presence of conflicts within and around Geneva and her neighbors, not to mention the Escalade.

You had me at violence!  And though I write that semi-tongue in cheek I do think that the opening line nicely cues readers to what’s coming: an unconventional investigation of the city made famous by Calvin’s efforts.  What was it like to be a citizen or resident of that town?  Who were ones fellows?  How did people interact?  How much control did Calvin exert?  What were the outcomes?  The implications?  The blowback?  The essays here assembled allow us to wonder aloud about those and many other issues.

B. notes

Note well that this volume is devoted to the Reformation in Geneva, rather than the work and theology of John Calvin or one of the other stars that orbit within the Calvinian solar system.

Lest any have false expectations of the work’s purpose.  And then further

The volume enters and attempts to make sense (from Geneva’s perspective) of a world in which the relatively small city of Geneva had to grapple with relations with other cities and towns like Bern, Lausanne, Zurich, and Neuchâtel, exploring frequent tensions existing between them.

Contributors to the volume, listed above, do a remarkably fine job of exploring corners known and unknown; familiar and unfamiliar, of the city of Calvin.

B. notes, at the conclusion of his introductory essay in which he also summarizes the essays herein,

The aim of this volume is to make better known to readers of English the most recent research on the varied and complex developments that characterized the Genevan Reformation from its inception until the 19th century.

Naturally after looking through the introduction I was drawn to the index where I discovered to my excitement that the researchers here were faithful historians and rightly include, in appropriate places, the Father of the Swiss Reformation- Huldrych Zwingli.

Zwingli, Ulrich (including Zwinglian) 2– 4, 10– 11, 14– 15, 19
against the Roman Catholic Church 142– 143, 155– 157
church and state relations 127
on church reform 141– 142
on the sacrament 126– 127

Moving forward my next step was to read through the book, which exercise I found to be both enjoyable and informative.  Geneva was radically affected by Calvin’s presence and the fact that it remains a city intertwined with his name speaks volumes of his towering presence.

Essays that I found to be particularly enjoyable were written by Jon Balserak, Erik de Boer, Jill Fehlieson, Elsie McKee, Graeme Murdock, Peter Opitz, and Jennifer Powell McNutt.  Their contributions are simply brilliant.

I commend this exceptional tome to your attention.  If the Reformation is a field which interests you, then you will need to read it so as to be on the cutting edge of the discussions in the field.  If your interests lie in more uninteresting areas like math or science or the ever boring sports, then I urge you to ‘up your game’ and read something that will enlighten your mind and expand your understanding.

Wherever your interests lead you, let them lead you here, to this book.  Even if it’s a bit of a detour, it is a worthy use of your time.  Far more worthy, to be honest, than facebook or twitter or whatever it is that you’re doing right now that doesn’t include reading this book.

Unless you’re reading the Bible.  That’s ok.  But if you aren’t, then stop what you’re doing and read this work.

Seriously.  Read this book.

Books You May Be Interested In

In The “God of Israel” in History and Tradition, Michael Stahl provides a foundational study of the formulaic title “god of Israel” (’elohe yisra’el) in the Hebrew Bible. Employing critical theory on social power and identity, and through close literary and historical analysis, Dr. Stahl shows how the epithet “god of Israel” evolved to serve different social and political agendas throughout the course of ancient Israel and Judah’s histories. Reaching beyond the field of Biblical Studies, Dr. Stahl’s treatment of the historical and ideological significances of the title “god of Israel” in the Hebrew Bible offers a fruitful case study into the larger issue of the ways in which religion may shape—and be shaped by—social and political structures.

 

 

Mighty Baal: Essays in Honor of Mark S. Smith

And very much deserved indeed!

Mighty Baal: Essays in Honor of Mark S. Smith is the first edited collection devoted to the study of the ancient Near Eastern god Baal. Although the Bible depicts Baal as powerless, the combined archaeological, iconographic, and literary evidence makes it clear that Baal was worshipped throughout the Levant as a god whose powers rivalled any deity. Mighty Baal brings together eleven essays written by scholars working in North America, Europe, and Israel. Essays in part one focus on the main collection of Ugaritic tablets describing Baal’s exploits, the Baal Cycle. Essays in part two treat Baal’s relationships to other deities. Together, the essays offer a rich portrait of Baal and his cult from a variety of methodological perspectives.

Mark is the go to guy for all things Baal, and one of the nicest people you will ever meet at SBL or CBA.

Congratulations, Mark.  I can’t think of anyone more deserving.  It’s a wonderful volume and one I think that specialists will enjoy.

Another Portrait of Calvin I’ve Never Seen Before

From the newly published volume by Brill.  This is a very interesting portrait in that not many of Calvin as a very young man seem to exist.

Living under the Evil Pope

In Living under the Evil Pope, Martina Mampieri presents the Hebrew Chronicle of Pope Paul IV, written in the second half of the sixteenth century by the Italian Jewish moneylender Benjamin Neḥemiah ben Elnathan (alias Guglielmo di Diodato) from Civitanova Marche. The text remained in manuscript for about four centuries until the Galician scholar Isaiah Sonne (1887-1960) published a Hebrew annotated edition of the chronicle in the 1930s. This remarkable source offers an account of the events of the Papal States during Paul IV’s pontificate (1555-59). Making use of broad archival materials, Martina Mampieri reflects on the nature of this work, its historical background, and contents, providing a revised edition of the Hebrew text as well as the first unabridged English translation and commentary.

The present volume is a study of a document written during a period of the history of the Church when Jews were treated with disregard for their dignity and their humanity.  As such, it probes the darker corners of Christianity and exposes the lengths to which the Church has gone to suppress and oppress.

It is, in other words, an expose of one of the worst periods of human history.

Our author’s work is divided into three parts.  The first two set the historical stage for the third, which is a translation of the Hebrew text of Benjamin Nehemiah ben Elnathan’s  Chronicle of Pope Paul IV.  That translation appears on facing pages; i.e., with the Hebrew text on one side of the open volume and the English rendition on the facing page.  This facilitates in a fantastic way the ease with which interested students of the text can assess the translation from the original.

In what follows I want to excerpt rather a fair bit, more than usual in fact, from the book.  The reason for this will become clear in due course.

The Chronicle of Pope Paul IV, Known as the Theatine written by the Jewish moneylender Benjamin Ne.emiah ben Elnathan from Civitanova Marche is also a narrative of the conflictual coexistence of Jews and Christians.  …  The pontificate of Gian Pietro Carafa (1476–1559) – co-founder of the Theatine order, archbishop of Naples, grand-inquisitor of the Roman Inquisition, tireless supporter of the intransigent faction against the spread of Lutheran ideas and heretical movements in Italy, and finally pope of the Catholic Church with the name of Paul IV (1555–59) – was harsh for both Jews and Christians.

The historical narrative that follows is both enlightening and saddening.  Christian indecency vis-à-vis the Jews springs into full view and those familiar with such matters learn more about their horrifying effects for all involved.  And those unfamiliar with such things will hopefully learn the horrors held in the past so as never to allow them to be repeated again in the future.

The author spells out the process to be followed thusly:

Divided into eight chapters, the work presents the sequence of events that occurred during Paul IV’s pontificate (1555–59), from the issue of the bull Cum nimis absurdum – which marked a turning point into the history of Jewish – Christian relations – to the pope’s death, touching upon the first years of Pius IV’s pontificate. General history is combined with the more personal story of the author, who was arrested towards the end of Paul IV’s pontificate along with other five Jews from Civitanova and taken to Rome to be imprisoned at Ripetta and judged by the Roman Inquisition.

And

Beginning from the English translation and analysis of the Hebrew Chronicle of Pope Paul IV, Known as the Theatine, a closer investigation of selected archival sources has allowed us not only to shed some light on aspects which have been unclear up until now, but also to open up new unexpected scenarios. The portrait that emerges from the reconstruction of the Jewish experience in sixteenth-century Civitanova is that of a well-established group, playing an important role in the dense networks of social and economic relations, exchanges, and interactions within the broader framework of the majority Christian society.

And that is exactly what happens.  Windows are opened and light is let in.

At this juncture I want to offer a snippet of the text itself, to give a flavor of the 16th century author’s writing style and wit:

In that time in Civitanova, there was an evil man – a devil, a bastard, an oppressor and a persecutor – called Aharon ben Menahem: may his name be blotted out! He was a flattering man, but he committed evil deeds. When he saw Israel’s disaster, his heart could not handle the attempt, and to suffer the rod of discipline, he converted to Christianity, became apostate, and changed his name to Giovan Battista. He became a stumbling block and obstacle to the Jews of Civitanova, because in the first days of his conversion, he made himself seem like a man who loved the people of Israel, until some of the Gentiles believed him; but his heart was full of abominations, and then he became an enemy of the Jews, and day by day, his damnation became greater and greater: he injured them with his speech. He was an evil man and an enemy like Haman, who used his speech in a deceitful manner.

Readers of this work will not only enjoy the historical research which underpins it, they will enjoy the tremendous translation of the fascinating text at hand.  It is simultaneously amazing and depressing.  But it is thoroughly indispensible.

Johann Jakob Wettstein’s Principles for New Testament Textual Criticism

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

Brill have graciously provided a review copy.

This revised dissertation was originally submitted to the Free University of Amsterdam in 2019, so it was improved and corrected in good time in order to be published in 2020.  The table of contents is at the link above.  Readers of this review and potential readers of the book should be sure to look at it.  It is intricate and detailed.

The purpose and goal of the present work is to, in brief, analyze Wettstein’s methodology and reception.  Or, as the author puts it

Wettstein’s sound advice and thoughtful approach, although widely acknowledged both in New Testament and classical scholarship, have never been analyzed thoroughly and systematically.

This book does that.  And then it provides an edition and translation of Wettstein’s Animadversiones, in Latin and English, on facing pages.  This is, then, two volumes in one.  First, the author’s extremely detailed analysis and second the author’s translation of Wettstein’s extremely important and historically significant text critical work.

Castelli is of the opinion that this work matters because

During the time of this investigation, I repeatedly noticed that historical investigations into text-critical methodology have often been overlooked in New Testament textual criticism.

Anyone who has read the standard text critical introductions can attest to that fact.  So the investigation begins by offering the overarching goal of the program:

… the research question of the present investigation is the following: what was Wettstein’s contribution to the history of text critical methodology in the early eighteenth century, and what is the legacy of his principles?

Naturally the question potential readers will be asking is, did Castelli do what was intended?  And I have to answer in the affirmative.  The meticulous care with which Castelli proceeds, the detail, the patient explanation, all add up to a scholarly work suitable for the most detail oriented textual critic and historian of texts.

One of the things that stands out in the work is the description of the principles by which Wettstein operated.  Castelli opines, after listing the 19 principles enunciated by Wettstein:

Wettstein did not openly group his principles. However, the first six principles are essential guidelines for textual criticism; principles vii–xii encompass the internal criteria; xiii–xv the relevance of indirect tradition; xvii–xviii the external criteria; finally, the last criterion goes back to a basic principle: the fact that a reading which is different from the received one can be accepted also in a doubtful case.

Organizing Wettstein’s principles into useful categories is nothing short of a very generous act of assistance to other scholars.  And some of those principles are genuinely genius.  For instance

Printed Editions Are Not Authoritative

According to Wettstein’s third principle, printed editions are not authoritative. That was a bold statement in the first half of the eighteenth century. So much so that a century later, in his 1831 groundbreaking New Testament, Karl Lachmann would reiterate the same rule, phrasing it as: “no consideration should be given to the received reading.

After around 300 pages of careful argumentation, Castelli then, as described above, provides a bilingual copy of the Animadversiones.  But before doing so introduces the text and the methodology of its translation and notation.

This document, the Animadversiones, is worth reading simply for its engaging style and Wettstein’s very fine prose.

The book includes a color plate of a handwritten page of Wettstein’s and it concludes with a Bibliography, Index of Ancient Authors, Index of Modern Authors, Index of Manuscripts, Index of Sources, and finally, an Index of Subjects.

Below is, for the reader’s information, a paragraph from the Animadversiones, simply so the person considering reading the volume has some idea of its style:

xii. Between two variant readings the one that appears more orthodox is not automatically to be preferred to the other.

I call that reading the “more orthodox reading” through which a certain dogma—controversial among Christians and commonly received in those regions where the reader lives—is judged to be confirmed. I consider “less orthodox reading” to be certainly not that which is manifestly erroneous and heretic—who would recommend such a reading?—but the one that favours neither side, and confirms the meaning that both agrees with all the other passages of Scripture and is admitted by all Christians. I am of the opinion that in a dubious case the latter reading is to be preferred to the former one.

Do read this volume.  You will learn a great deal.  And you will enjoy the experience.

Cultural Shifts and Ritual Transformations in Reformation Europe

This volume honors the work of a scholar who has been active in the field of early modern history for over four decades. In that time, Susan Karant-Nunn’s work challenged established orthodoxies, pushed the envelope of historical genres, and opened up new avenues of research and understanding, which came to define the contours of the field itself. Like this rich career, the chapters in this volume cover a broad range of historical genres from social, cultural and art history, to the history of gender, masculinity, and emotion, and range geographically from the Holy Roman Empire, France, and the Netherlands, to Geneva and Austria. Based on a vast array of archival and secondary sources, the contributions open up new horizons of research and commentary on all aspects of early modern life.

Contributors: James Blakeley, Robert J. Christman, Victoria Christman, Amy Nelson Burnett, Pia Cuneo, Ute Lotz-Heumann, Amy Newhouse, Marjorie Elizabeth Plummer, Helmut Puff, Lyndal Roper, Karen E. Spierling, James D. Tracy, Mara R. Wade, David Whitford, and Charles Zika.

It sounds fantastic.  The link above has the TOC.

Violence in the Hebrew Bible

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

Johann Jakob Wettstein’s Principles for New Testament Textual Criticism: A Fight for Scholarly Freedom

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

Coming this Fall.

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

Coming early next year:

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

Jeremiah 52 in the Context of the Book of Jeremiah

In Jeremiah 52 in the Context of the Book of Jeremiah, Henk de Waard offers a thorough examination of the final chapter of the book of Jeremiah. Particular attention is paid to the chapter’s relationship with the parallel text in 2 Kings 24:18–25:30, to the differences between the Masoretic text and the Old Greek translation, to the literary function of Jeremiah 52 within the book of Jeremiah, and to the chapter’s historical context.
De Waard shows that, especially in the early text form represented by the Old Greek, Jeremiah 52 is not a mere appendix to the book, but a golah-oriented epilogue, indicating the contrasting destinies of pre-exilic Judah and the exilic community in Babylon.

Isaiah: Septuagint Commentary Series

This work consists of an introduction, transcription, translation, and commentary to the Greek translation of Isaiah in the Codex Sinaiticus. It comments on the Greek language in its context, especially on how the Greek language is stretched beyond its normal range of function. It addresses the peculiarities of Codex Sinaiticus, including its history, scribes, divisions, and orthography. In line with the aims of the Brill Septuagint Commentary Series, it mainly discusses not how the text was produced, but how it was read.

Congratulations to Ken Penner.

The Etymology Calendar

What does the word lord have to do with bread? How is smile related to mirror? Why is Donald such an appropriate name for an American president?

These and 363 other questions are answered in the Etymology Calendar of 2020. This popular scientific calendar provides an insight into the fascinating world of historical linguistics for anyone with an interest in languages. It treats the surprising histories behind words you use on a daily basis, but also contains interesting developments from tens of other languages. An essential collection of etymological trivia for every language enthusiast!

Brill have sent a review copy, which I appreciate.  And, I think, anyone who is interested in language will also appreciate this desk calendar.  It’s a page a day, tearaway which features a simple word of the day from its origins.  The best way to illustrate this, I think, is to simply show you a sample page.

So the calendar opens with this page

And as you leaf through to each successive day, you’re provided a word for that day.  You know how such things work, surely.

Today’s entry is this:

What’s not to love about such a calendar?  There’s plenty of space to make notes about events or appointments, if one were to wish to use it as an appointment calendar.  And if not, there’s a linguistic lesson for each day of the year.

Nerdy language folk will love it.  Get yourself one.  And then get yourself one next year too.  Or if words aren’t your thing (what kind of monster are you????), get one for your linguistics pals.  They’ll be grateful.

New From Brill, Free in Open Access

Vision, Narrative, and Wisdom in the Aramaic Texts from Qumran:

Essays from the Copenhagen Symposium, 14-15 August, 2017

The Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls from Qumran have attracted increasing interest in recent years. These texts predate the “sectarian” Dead Sea scrolls, and they are contemporary with the youngest parts of the Hebrew Bible. They offer a unique glimpse into the situation before the biblical canons were closed. Their highly creative Jewish authors reshaped and rewrote biblical traditions to cope with the concerns of their own time. The essays in this volume examine this fascinating ancient literature from a variety of different perspectives. The book grew out of an international symposium held at the University of Copenhagen in August 2017.

2 Peter and the Apocalypse of Peter: Towards a New Perspective

Published by Brill

In the 2016 Radboud Prestige Lectures, published in this volume, Jörg Frey develops a new perspective on 2 Peter by arguing that the letter is dependent on the Apocalypse of Peter. Frey argues that reading 2 Peter against the backdrop of the Apocalypse of Peter sheds new light on many longstanding interpretative questions and offers fresh insights into the history of second-century Christianity. Frey’s lectures are followed by responses from leading scholars in the field, who discuss Frey’s proposal in ways both critical and constructive. Contributors include: Richard Bauckham, Jan Bremmer, Terrance Callan, Paul Foster, Jeremy Hultin, Tobias Nicklas, David Nienhuis and Martin Ruf.

If ever there were a theory that hung by a strand of spider web, it is the one proffered by Frey in this volume and in his earlier Commentary on 2 Peter and Jude.  The notion that somehow or other, 2 Peter is reliant upon the Apocalypse of Peter beggers credulity.  That isn’t to suggest that Frey doesn’t try awfully mightily to make it so.  But he cannot.  It simply is not a sensible theory and that, I suspect, is why only a small handful of people hold to it.

The present volume is a wonderful resource for study into the entire question.  Frey sets the agenda with his defensive essay which opens the book and then his like-minded friends muster their arguments for agreeing with Frey.  Accordingly, the contributions of Bremmer, Nicklas, and Callan (who curiously also asserts that Josephus is also somehow a source of 2 Peter), Nienhuis, and Hultin are all in basic agreement with Frey with varying degrees of separation.  The deck, then, is stacked.

Ruf, then

… questions Frey’s (and Grünstäudl’s) account of the literary connection between 2 Peter and the Apocalypse. Ruf is skeptical about the possibility of determining any kind of direct literary connection. In Ruf’s estimation there is a relationship between the two documents, but it is difficult to be more specific than to say that they are engaging in, and contributing to, the same “discourse.”

Foster and Bauckham too are skeptical (to say the least) concerning Frey’s notion of dependence.

Frey gets the last word, of course, and asserts – in quite a friendly manner – the superiority of his point of view in spite of the doubts of three of his interlocutors.

The best argued essay, in my estimation, is that of Ruf.  Towards the end of his essay he observes, quite sagely

Wolfgang Grünstäudl and Jörg Frey highlight the ideas Second Peter shares with Eastern, and particularly Egyptian, literature, while they pay less attention to its western contacts than Bauckham did. Future research will have to ponder both ‘directions’ of literary contacts and find a balance. A thorough methodological, or, rather, criteriological reflection on the categories of literary contacts and their relevance for the determination of the place of origin would be highly desirable.

And that, I think, is the crux of the issue.  It is the old old wondering after which came first, the chicken or the egg.  Frey asserts that the chicken (Apocalypse of Peter) came first and the egg (2 Peter) only later.  But how can he prove this?  And the simplest answer is- he can’t.

He tries, as do his like-minded colleagues.  But he doesn’t succeed.  His web of assertions are attempting to bear too much weight.  They cannot.  And soon, when more weight (in terms of scholarly response to the theories presented here and in his Commentary) is applied to his idea, it will come crashing down.

The second half (leaving aside Frey’s rejoinder) is just the first salvo in the chicken and egg wars.  As such, it deserves your attention and your consideration.  And it also deserves a monograph in response.

Nicodemism and the English Calvin, 1544–1584

In Nicodemism and the English Calvin Kenneth J. Woo reassesses John Calvin’s decades-long attack against Nicodemism, which Calvin described as evangelicals playing Catholic to avoid hardship or persecution. Frequently portrayed as a static argument varying little over time, the reformer’s anti-Nicodemite polemic actually was adapted to shifting contexts and diverse audiences. Calvin’s strategic approach to Nicodemism was not lost on readers, influencing its reception in England.

I’ve enjoyed reading this rather a lot.  The volume, according to its author, wishes to correct a basic misunderstanding concerning Calvin’s sermons on those who attend the Mass so as to cover up the fact that they are actually Reformed in beliefs.

This book originated with the proverbial “deceptively simple” question: what is significant about John Calvin’s 1552 Quatre sermons?

And more fully

Conventional wisdom concerning Calvin’s anti-Nicodemite polemic has taken for granted the reformer’s rigid and consistent message, tending simply to assume that his approach to religious dissimulation remained static over time. The present work challenges this impression and contends that, just as with the Nicodemite he critiqued, Calvin’s anti-Nicodemism was more than it seemed. This book argues that the publication history of Quatre sermons reveals how Calvin’s anti-Nicodemite polemic could be adapted for completely different audiences. Calvin’s 1552 sermons against Nicodemism provide the ideal case study for such dynamism within his approach to this topic for two reasons: (1) the reformer’s decision to deploy his anti-Nicodemite argument over four interrelated sermons, a form unique in his published writings, which I argue was optimized to address Calvin’s situation in Geneva by silencing his detractors; and (2) the popularity of this publication in translation, particularly the five unique English editions appearing between 1553 and 1584, which spanned remarkably wide-ranging situations for English Protestantism, from persecution under Mary i to the consolidation of reform in the Elizabethan settlement. The present study demonstrates that Calvin’s strategic response to Nicodemism directly influenced his popularity with, and, consequently, his portrayal by, sixteenth-century English translators and publishers, who deployed Calvin’s arguments in new settings to support causes having little to do with Nicodemism.

I offer this rather long-ish quote because I want to be perfectly clear about the contents of this book.  And I wish to be specific about the contents of this book because potential readers need to ‘know what they are getting into’.  This is a tightly argued well crafted meticulously researched volume which is intended for a particular readership: specialists in English Calvinism.  A glance at the table of contents (here) will make that fact abundantly clear.

Specialists will discover that this work

… contends that Nicodemism functioned for Calvin and his admirers as a means for demarcating social boundaries and group identity, often as part of a larger attempt to curry favor in the eyes of others.

The correctness of this thesis is proven in the chapters following it.  Each page of text is supplemented by more footnotes than main text (by and large) which means that each idea or theory is fully documented with material from the primary and secondary literature.

The greatness of the work isn’t, though, in its history of current research or other foundational or methodological matters; its greatness lies in the crispness of the author’s deductions based on a very deep understanding of the sources and era in question.   So, for instance, Woo writes

In a Marian context, Nicodemites were complicit in the nation’s bondage to false gods and an obstacle to England’s return to the pure and free worship of God. They were portrayed negatively as those who embraced a quintessentially Roman strategy of deception, against which the faithful should assert their commitment to God by openly resisting the Mass.

And further on,

Set against the backdrop of Marian and Elizabethan Protestant anti-Nicodemism, the three translations of Quatre sermons examined in this chapter are striking for their variety as well as for an astonishing feature they held in common: none of them dealt with Nicodemism.

!  And as always when one reads a spectacular book about Calvin, there’s lots of Calvin to think about.  My particular favorite is this gem-

My doctrine is not hard, but it is the hardness of their heart that leads them to find it so.

I plan on using that.  Regularly.  Of anyone who disagrees with me about anything doctrinal.  Indeed, I plan on using this book again and again because it is a veritable trove of facts about Calvin and about his English interpreters and heirs.  It is my studied opinion that you too, dear reader, will be magnetically drawn back to this lodestone time and again to discover and re-discover Calvin’s reception and application in Britain.

The book ends with a helpful glossary of terms, a bibliography, and an index (which has no reference to Zwingli even though he is mentioned a number of times in the footnotes).

My recommendation: read this book.