The “Exodus” in Jerusalem (Luke 9:31)

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

A Companion to the Waldenses in the Middle Ages

The medieval dissenters known as ‘Waldenses’, named after their first founder, Valdes of Lyons, have long attracted careful scholarly study, especially from specialists writing in Italian, French and German. Waldenses were found across continental Europe, from Aragon to the Baltic and East-Central Europe. They were long-lived, resilient, and diverse. They lived in a special relationship with the prevailing Catholic culture, making use of the Church’s services but challenging its claims.

Many Waldenses are known mostly, or only, because of the punitive measures taken by inquisitors and the Church hierarchy against them. This volume brings for the first time a wide-ranging, multi-authored interpretation of the medieval Waldenses to an English-language readership, across Europe and over the four centuries until the Reformation.

Contributors: Marina Benedetti, Peter Biller, Luciana Borghi Cedrini, Euan Cameron, Jacques Chiffoleau, Albert de Lange, Andrea Giraudo, Franck Mercier, Grado Giovanni Merlo, Georg Modestin, Martine Ostorero, Damian J. Smith, Claire Taylor, and Kathrin Utz Tremp.

Demons in Early Judaism and Christianity: Characters and Characteristics

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

Introduction
Hector M. Patmore and Josef Lössl

Demonic Exegesis
Hector M. Patmore

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

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

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

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

Demons and Vices in Early Christianity
Tom de Bruin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aramaic Daniel

Coming soon- September 22.

A Textual Reconstruction of Chapters 1–7

Benjamin D. Suchard

Studia Semitica Neerlandica, 73
Open Access

The first half of the book of Daniel contains world-famous stories like the Writing on the Wall. These stories have mostly been transmitted in Aramaic, not Hebrew, as has the influential apocalypse of Daniel 7. This Aramaic corpus shows clear signs of multiple authorship. Which different textual layers can we tease apart, and what do they tell us about the changing function of the Danielic material during the Second Temple Period? This monograph compares the Masoretic Text of Daniel to ancient manuscripts and translations preserving textual variants. By highlighting tensions in the reconstructed archetype underlying all these texts, it then probes the tales’ prehistory even further, showing how Daniel underwent many transformations to yield the book we know today.

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

Conference volumes are all the rage in academic theology and biblical studies.  With good reason.  Conferences are expensive to attend (what with all the travel, the hotel costs, the food, and most importantly, the invariable book hall).  And while conference volumes too can be pricey, they are never as expensive as the actual conference itself so they are, to be fair, a bargain even if they are a couple of hundred dollars.

The further benefit of conference volumes is that you get a refined version of the paper and you spare yourself the annoying ‘question and answer’ portion of the presentation wherein pretended questions which are really just Dr Who’s chance to pontificate his or her latest self-aggrandizing theory are proffered.  You get the meat, in other words, without all the grotesque gristle.

The work presently under consideration is mostly meat, with some gristle.  Allow me to categorize the essays listed above according to their substance:

Meat-

  • 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
  • 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

Gristle-

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

The meat of the volume is the great bulk.  The gristle, but one contribution.  The meat provides substance and proper insight.  The gristle provides just a chewy mass of things that, like octopus arms, can never really be chewed to completion but must at some point simply be swallowed or expelled.

Lest you, dear reader, imagine that I’m being too hard on Doug’s contribution, please allow me to describe why I found it unchewable.

First. the conference and its volume center on Barth’s eschatology.  In one way or the other every meaty essay discusses, at some level, the question of eschatology and Barth’s understanding of that joyful notion.  Not so Campbell’s.  In the words of the volume’s editors

Campbell probes Paul’s soteriology to assess its eschatological scope. After consideration of Paul’s Jewish influences, Campbell argues that Paul’s Christology conditions and determines his universal understanding of the resurrection of the dead for all of humanity. A close consideration of objections to universalism coupled with a careful reading of God’s future judgment leads Campbell to conclude that God’s purpose is for all humanity to live in eternal communion with God; on this Barth tracks closely with the apostle Paul himself, he contends.

Aside from the fact that this is just a reworked version of a section of his book on Pauline Dogmatics (reworked, regurgitated, same thing really), Barth is only dragged in to the discussion (kicking and screaming) halfway through it and then as a bolster to Campbell’s universalism.  Indeed, Barth is cited from but three of his works whilst Campbell cites himself from four of his books.

But, lest readers think Barth is mere window dressing on Campbell’s house of universalist in Paul cards, he at least offers Barth the last word.  Or as he puts it

But the final words in this entire discussion surely belong to Barth, specifically, to his comments written in 1956, reflecting his deepening realization that all sound church reflection should proceed out of “the humanity of God”, effected through Jesus Christ.

This volume is mostly meat.  Mostly Barthian.  Mostly edifying.  But as is the case with nearly every volume which is an assemblage not all are as good as they should have been.  Campbell’s essay reminded me of Barth’s Romans.  I.e., I hear a lot of Campbell and very little of Barth just as in his Romans, we hear a lot of Barth and precious little of Paul.

I suppose, when all is said and done, it’s perfectly fair of Campbell to largely ignore Barth and go off on his own tangent, since that’s what Barth himself does whenever he talks about the biblical text.  So fair play to Doug.  Perhaps he is the most Barthian of the lot.

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 Exegetical and the Ethical

Subtitled

The Bible and the Academy in the Public Square. Essays for the Occasion of Professor John Barton’s 70th Birthday

Exegesis has ethical dimensions. This is the case for the Bible, which has a foundational status in traditional perspectives that is simultaneously contested in the modern world. This innovative essay collection, largely about Hebrew Bible/Old Testament texts, is written by an international team – all Doktorkinder of a pioneer in this area, Professor John Barton, whose 70th birthday this volume celebrates. With interdisciplinary angles, the essays highlight the roles and responsibilities of the biblical scholar, often located professionally between religious and secular domains. This reflects a broader reality: all readers of texts are engaged ethically in the public square of ideas.

This book is a collection of essays covering topics of interest to their honoree, the inestimably important John Barton of Oxford.  They also happen to be topics concerning which he has published.

Beginning this review at the end, with John’s own contribution to the volume, seems fitting.  John’s long shadow can be sensed in every essay and he himself makes mention of the ideas which each contributor has stimulated.  He also sagely observes

It feels strange to be contributing to my own Festschrift, but I am glad of the opportunity it gives me to express my gratitude to all the contributors, and especially to Megan Daffern and Hywel Clifford – both for editing this book, and also for organising the celebration of my seventieth birthday that was the occasion on which most of the papers were presented and discussed.

Turning back, now, to the essays in their turn, I’ll list those which were the most engaging to me (with the full awareness that others will have their own lists).

  • How to Do Things with Scrolls: Writing and Ritual in Jeremiah 36 – Laura Quick
  • Scepticism within the Academy: Questioning the History of Israel – Katherine Dell
  • The Typological Interpretation of Scriptural Quotations in the New Testament: A Test Case for the Bible in the Academy – Benjamin Sargent
  • Is There an Ethical Way to Read Genocidal Commands in “Holy Writ”? – Christian Hofreiter

My own proclivities incline me to these because they address issues with which I have long been interested.  Jeremiah; the History of Israel; the Old Testament in the New; and theodicy.  I’ve read reams on each and still enjoy discovering new angles and vistas and these four essays deliver precisely that.  New angles and new vistas.  New perspectives that are not helpful merely because they are new, but because they are genuinely insightful.

The volume is divided into three main parts:

  1. Establishing the Exegetical and the Ethical
  2. Enabling the Exegetical and the Ethical
  3. Enacting the Exegetical and the Ethical

The first has 4 essays, the second 5, and the third 4.  Barton’s conclusion brings the grand total of pieces to 14 and the introduction to 15.  There is also an index of biblical sources.

All of the essays are exceptionally well written, and not just the four I found most exciting.  Ethics in Song of Songs by Anselm C. Hagedorn was particularly fascinating and I would have included it in the list of the most enthralling, but I just don’t care for Song of Songs that much.  Similarly, Prophecy and the United Monarchy: The Origins of Exegesis in Prophetic Imitation, by James E. Patrick was extraordinary.  But with all the ‘predictions’ being made these days by all manner of loons I am just in a sour mood on the subject of prophecy.  A few years ago, I would have been very excited by the topic.  Not so much now.  Interests, I suppose it’s fair to say, wax and wane.

More narrowly, then, regarding the purpose and aim of the collection, its gifted editors write

This volume is largely the output of an academic symposium of former doctoral students who gladly gathered to honour their Doktorvater, the Reverend Professor John Barton, Oxford’s Oriel and Laing Chair of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture Emeritus (1991–2014) on the eve of his 70th birthday in June 2018.

A few illustrative excerpts seem in order.  So, Laura Quick concludes her genius contribution by opining

By reading Jeremiah 36 in the light of other biblical texts, we can bring its various implications into greater relief. Connecting Jehoiakim’s act of textual destruction to other biblical texts in which religious or cultic objects are destroyed, we can see that he meant to destroy the scroll utterly and completely – with the implication that he was trying to avoid the fate described in its contents. By reading the prophetic pronouncement of Jehoiakim’s fate against other texts in which scrolls are used in the ritual context, it becomes apparent that scrolls can serve as bodily proxies. By tearing the scroll and casting it into the fire, Jehoiakim ensured that his body would suffer the same fate. The scroll was an efficacious, powerful object.

And Sargent remarks at the end of his work

The danger here is of putting ideas into the mind of an author who most probably never thought them, ideas which reflect the historical and theological interests of modern interpreters. This is an area of ethical concern, both as typological interpretation enables one to ignore the historical contingency of authors and their intended meanings (and so is a failure in the search for exegetical truth) and as one ignores the interpretation of others for whom one’s chosen typological lens is not acceptable. This is a failure of scholarship which John Barton’s work repeatedly cautions us against.

Hopefully these couple of quotes will convince you, the potential reader, to take this book in hand.

I also hope that John Barton continues to thrive and that when his 100th birthday arrives we are all there to celebrate it with him, and offer him yet another collection of essays which illustrate our esteem and unwavering respect.

New Aramaic Papyri from Elephantine in Berlin

It’s Open Access so if you want a pdf copy you can get one free.

The famous German excavations between 1906 and 1908 of Elephantine Island in Egypt produced some of the most important Aramaic sources for understanding the history of Judeans and Arameans living in 5th century BCE Egypt under Persian occupation. Unknown to the world, many papyri fragments from those excavations remained uncatalogued in the Berlin Museum. In New Aramaic Papyri from Elephantine in Berlin James D. Moore edits the remaining legible Aramaic fragments, which belong to letters, contracts, and administrative texts.

Protestant Bible Scholarship: Antisemitism, Philosemitism and Anti-Judaism

Historical criticism of the Bible emerged in the context of protestant theology and is confronted in every aspect of its study with otherness: the Jewish people and their writings. However, despite some important exceptions, there has been little sustained reflection on the ways in which scholarship has engaged, and continues to engage, its most significant Other. This volume offers reflections on anti-Semitism, philo-Semitism and anti-Judaism in biblical scholarship from the 19th century to the present. The essays in this volume reflect on the past and prepare a pathway for future scholarship that is mindful of its susceptibility to violence and hatred.

The table of Contents is this:

Karl Georg Kuhn (1906–1976) – Two Academic Careers in Germany- Hermann Lichtenberger

Judaism as Religious Cosmopolitanism: Apologetics and Appropriation in the Jüdisches Lexikon (1927–1930)- Irene Zwiep

Anti-Semitism and Early Scholarship on Ancient Anti-Semitism- René Bloch

The Rise and Fall of the Notion of “Spätjudentum” in Christian Biblical Scholarship- Konrad Schmid

“Circumcision is Nothing”: A Non-Reformation Reading of the Letters of Paul- Paula Fredriksen

Anti-Judaism and Philo-Judaism in Pauline Studies, Then and Now- Matthew V. Novenson

The Sibylline Oracles: A Case Study in Ancient and Modern Anti-Judaism- Olivia Stewart Lester

Anti-Judaism, Philo-Semitism, and Protestant New Testament Studies: Perspectives and Questions- Jörg Frey

American Biblical Scholarship and the Post-War Battle against Anti-Semitism- Steven Weitzman

10 Jewish and Christian Approaches to Biblical Theology- John Barton

Index

The volume is the product of a conference whose organizers are to be thanked for arranging it and whos participants are to be thanked for writing their presentations out more fully for publication.  And the editors of the work are to be thanked for their hard work in putting the volume together.  Works like this are never easy to pull off given the always dicey proposition of getting people to ‘turn in their work’ in a timely manner.

Professors may often be good at giving assignments to their students and requiring their being turned in at a particular time, but many of them are quite bad at meeting deadlines; and this puts lots of pressure on editors and publishers.

The work at hand

… is the product of a two-day conference held in Oriel College, Oxford at the Centre for the Study of the Bible. Faculty, invited scholars, students and community members came together to think about the interaction between scholarship and society, about the redemptive and destructive impact that scholarship can have, and about our responsibilities as citizens, scholars, students and teachers. None of us has invented or created the scholarly heritage to which we contribute and which we pass on. Rather, through many years of painstaking study and various forms of renunciation, we have become initiated into a community of learning, which we love and with which we identify in the deepest possible sense.

Indeed, our teachers have had a deep influence upon our lives and their teachings have shaped our thinking and perception of the world, and of each other. But our discipline is not innocent. This volume asks of each of us to reflect on our past as scholars, to acknowledge our responsibility to our students, and to prepare the pathway for scholarship that is mindful of its own power and susceptibility to violence and racism. We mark the past in order to help shape a future which is full of hope and generosity, and a future that does not recycle or repeat the hatred of the past.

Essays in the collection are both engaging and saddening.  They are engaging because they are written by a bevy of scholars who are incapable of being boring.  And they are saddening because they tell us how Jews have been so horribly treated by people named Christians.  But it also tells us how scholars have sought to set the situation right.  For instance, Steven Weitzman observes

Despite signs of a recent resurgence in anti-Jewish prejudice, America’s efforts to overcome antisemitism still counts as a success story. In the 1920s and 1930s, antisemitic attitudes were widespread in many sectors of American society, including within prominent universities like Harvard and Princeton. While some degree of antisemitism has persisted in American culture, polling confirms it as far less common. According to the Roper poll from 1938, the first poll to gauge antisemitic attitudes in the United States, the percentage of Americans who believed Jews had too much power was 41%. When American attitudes toward the Jews were surveyed in 2016 by the Anti-Defamation League, the number of Americans harbouring antisemitic attitudes was around 14%, half of what it was when the ADL began to poll for antisemitic attitudes in 1964. Dramatically diminishing antisemitism – not eliminating it, but significantly lowering it and discrediting it – was a major and enduring achievement of post-war America.

John Barton’s essay is, however, the high water mark of the collection.  He begins it by writing

In this paper I want to examine some recent Jewish ventures into biblical theology, which until a few years ago had been largely a Christian interest, and suggest ways they could be fruitful for Christian biblical theology too. These thoughts are prompted by Jon Levenson’s well-known article ‘Why Jews are not interested in Biblical Theology’, published in his collection The Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, and Historical Criticism in 1993, though the underlying original piece, ‘Why Jews are not interested in the Bible’ goes back to 1987.

After examining the situation as it presently exists, Barton offers suggestions for moving forward.   He begins that segment by saying

How would a Theology of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament look if one started from a Torah-centred perspective, seeing it as primarily about how life should be lived? As well as (obviously) the legal sections of the Pentateuch, the wisdom literature would then move into central focus, along with, importantly, Psalm 119, the great Torah-Psalm, whose theme is the sanctification of life by observance of God’s statutes (from a historical point of view we do not know what exactly constituted Torah for this psalmist, though in a canonical perspective it has to be taken as referring to the Torah in more or less its current sense). Much less emphasis will fall on the story, or history, of Israel and of the world than has been usual in Old Testament Theologies.

In all, one finds here genius.  It is an Open Access volume and thus anyone who wishes to have a copy in PDF format is able to, freely.  So my suggestion is that people download a copy at the link above and read it for themselves.  You certainly will not wish you had watched TV instead.

The Samaritans: A Biblical People

The Samaritans: A Biblical People celebrates the culture of the Israelite Samaritans, from biblical times to our own day. An international team of historians, folklorists, a documentary filmmaker and contemporary artists have come together to explore ways that Samaritans, Jews, Christians, and Muslims have interacted, often shunned and always interpreted one another across the expanse of western civilization.

Written for both the general reader and the scholar, The Samaritans: A Biblical People is a centerpiece of the Israelite Samaritans Project of the Yeshiva University Center for Israel Studies. This exquisitely illustrated volume celebrates a traveling exhibition produced jointly with the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C.

Medieval Writings on Sex between Men: Peter Damian’s ‘The Book of Gomorrah’ and Alain de Lille’s ‘The Plaint of Nature’

What happens if a cleric breaks his vows of sexual abstinence? What happens if the cleric in question does so repeatedly with other men of his vocation? Eleventh-century theologian Peter Damian provides a response.

What happens if an author uses metaphor as a metaphor signifying and excoriating male same-sex relations, yet does so in a text showing an exuberant and unabashed orientation towards metaphorical language? Is the author in question rhetorically perpetrating precisely the so-called affront to nature he grammatically denounces? Twelfth-century poet Alain de Lille enacts an ambiguously enigmatic response.

Setting in their historical context two works from the Medieval era which have as their subject same sex male sexual practice, the current work then provides a detailed, articulate, and masterful commentary on those Medieval works.

More particularly, Peter Damian, The Book of Gomorrah (Liber Gomorrhianus); and Alain de Lille, The Plaint of Nature (De planctu Naturae) are here rendered.  The authors writings are introduced and so are the purposes for which they were composed.  Of Damian’s efforts we read

The eleventh-century theologian Peter Damian composed the text today known as The Book of Gomorrah with a twofold intent: to warn the pope of the time, Leo IX, that members of the clergy were having sex, largely with one another, and to suggest the pontiff introduce measures of reform that would return to Church to its former state of worldly prestige and spiritual power. Faced by what he considered the unfettered tyranny of the flesh, Peter inveighs against all sexual activity pursued for pleasure, arguing that, unless cleansed by confession and penance, even a single act of autoeroticism will occasion an eternity of infernal damnation. He holds, nonetheless, sexual relations between men to be a particular anathema: like all carnal sin, it is an affront to clerical chastity; yet, Peter contends, it also runs counter to the laws of nature. In an attempt to extirpate such purported depravities, Peter first documents each of the “unnatural” acts he censures and attributes them to devilish machination. He then directly addresses the fallen cleric and enjoins him once again to aspire to chastity and the union with the blood and body of Christ it will entail.

Their works are analyzed and an English edition of each is provided.

The translations themselves are, in a word, extraordinary.  Take, for instance, this snippet from de Lille’s book:

This plague is enemy not only to men of the plebeian masses. It also makes the haughty necks of prelates bow before it. For them, the graces that the benevolence of Nature has showered upon Bacchus are insufficient. Taking on the sucking power of a reed straw, and with the voracious throat of Charybdis, they swallow down a Bacchus who now rejoices in marriage to the rose, now breathes the fragrance of another flower, now arrogates for himself certain privileges from consorting with the hyssop, now enjoys the wealth conferred by the extrinsic riches of still other sources. They take this so far that they experience a shipwreck without a sea, tears without sadness, lethargy without illness, drunken dreams without sleep. When, struck by the intoxicating effects of inebriation, they apply themselves to the psalms, they insert the unwelcome wind of crapulous excess, punctuating their verses with inordinate interruptions.

Peter Damian’s work sounds like this:

Sodomites, therefore, endeavor violently to burst in upon angels when unclean men attempt to approach God through the offices of the holy order. Yet they are without doubt struck by blindness since, by the just judgment of God, they fall into internal darkness and cannot therefore find the door. Because divided from God in sin, they do not know the way to return to Him.

It’s fair to say that these Medieval authors make use of extremely colorful language in order to paint a portrait for their contemporaries regarding male with male sexual practices.

The service the present volume provides for historians of the Medieval period in general and historians focused on gender studies is immense.  Few have a copy of the two books at ready hand and fewer still have the linguistic capacity to do what David Rollo has so magnificently achieved.  It is, further, culturally relevant here and now.  This is no dusty tome which will be of interest only to a tiny group of elite academics.  It is a book widely interesting.

Amid the myriads of things scholars have to make time to read, this is the sort of volume that they will actually want to read.  It is a grand experience and one which rewards richly those who make the journey into what is authentically a fascinating segment of history.

Tolle, lege!

Available in Open Access from Brill: “Broadsheets: Single-sheet Publishing in the First Age of Print”

This volume offers an expansive survey of the role of single-sheet publishing in the European print industry during the first two centuries after the invention of printing. Drawing on new materials made available during the compilation of the Universal Short Title Catalogue, the twenty contributors explore the extraordinary range of broadsheet publishing and its contribution to government, pedagogy, religious devotion and entertainment culture.

Long disregarded as ephemera or cheap print, broadsheets emerge both as a crucial communication medium and an essential underpinning of the economics of the publishing industry.

Download it here.  I reviewed this gem back in 2017 when it was published here.

The Industry of Evangelism: Printing for the Reformation in Martin Luther’s Wittenberg

Of the leading print centres in early modern Europe, Wittenberg was the only one that was not a major centre of trade, politics, or culture. This monograph examines the rise of the Wittenberg printing industry and analyses how it overtook the Empire’s leading print centres. It investigates the workshops of the four leading printers in Wittenberg during Luther’s lifetime: Nickel Schirlentz, Josef Klug, Hans Lufft, and Georg Rhau. Together, these printers conquered the German print world.

Without the printing press, the Reformation would not have been possible.  I feel confident in that assertion and I don’t think I’m alone in holding that sentiment.  And indeed, I know I am not, because

In 1979 the German historian Bernd Moeller famously declared that without the printing press there would have been no Reformation.

This book shows why it’s true. But from a unique perspective.  I.e.

This book looks not at the role that the printing industry played in Luther’s evangelical movement, but rather the role Luther’s movement played in developing the Wittenberg print industry.

But it also shows much more.

Potential readers are invited to download the front matter here.  The full table of contents is available there or at the link above.  Our author remarks in his introduction

As much as the Reformation benefited from the printing press, the Reformation was also the coming of age of the print industry. The movement generated substantial quantities of literature and attracted many new printers to the trade. Surprisingly, Wittenberg had only a single press when Luther supposedly posted his Ninety-Five Theses Against the Sale of Indulgences on 31 October 1517. By the time of his death nearly thirty years later Wittenberg was the largest print centre in the Empire.

The volume at hand tells us the story of that expansion and its significance.

The amount of research that lies within and behind this book is absolutely mind boggling.  There are plenty of images, charts, and graphs to illustrate the material including this one, which I found to be tremendously interesting:

In 1519 Rhau-Grunenberg published forty-five editions, nearly matching Johann Froben in Basel, who printed forty-six. In 1521, Rhau-Grunenberg published fifty-five editions, more than any printer in the Holy Roman Empire.

Amazing!  The fact that Froben in Basel published relatively little in the critical year of 1521 is absolutely fascinating.  The footnote explains

Froben was actively seeking to get Luther’s publications from Wittenberg as fast as he could for reprinting. See Thomas Kaufmann, Die Mitte der Reformation: Eine Studie zu Buchdruck und Publizistik im deutschen Sprachgebiet, zu ihren Akteuren und deren Strategien, Inszenierungs- und Ausdrucksformen (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2019), pp. 44–45.

The volume is stuffed to the brim with fascinating facts.  It is most definitely one of the best historical works I’ve read in the last 12 months and may be one of the most important books on the Reformation in the last 25 years.

There are, as hinted at above, absolutely loads of amazing images included in the work.  Really amazingly lovely art, like this gem:

And this, for the fans of the dragons:

And many, many more.

This book… there is absolutely nothing to dislike about it.  The entire project was a genius enterprise, the textual material is gripping.  Yes, gripping.  And the illustrations are crisp and clear and abundant.

You must read this book if the Reformation is your field.  You must.

Frauen ergreifen das Wort: Flugschriften von Autorinnen der Reformation in heutigem Deutsch

An der Reformation waren auch Frauen beteiligt! Mit engagierten und provozierenden Publikationen traten sie an die Seite Luthers und Melanchthons.

Die Frauen der Reformation erfreuen sich seit vielen Jahren großen Interesses, allen voran die Autorinnen reformatorischer Flugschriften wie Argula von Grumbach und Katharina Zell, um nur die beiden bekanntesten zu nennen. Ihre Publikationen stehen gleichwohl bislang nur in den sehr schwer zugänglichen Originaltexten zur Verfügung, die nur für Spezialisten geeignet sind. Erstmals bietet dieses Buch eine Auswahl der wichtigsten und interessantesten Texte ungekürzt in heutigem Deutsch.

Was es von Luther und Melanchthon, von Zwingli und Calvin schon lange gibt, gibt es nun also auch für die Reformationsfrauen: ihre religiösen, theologischen, gesellschaftlichen und politischen Gedanken und Ideen in einer für jede:n lesbaren und für jede:n verständlichen sprachlichen Form.

How cool!

Call for Manuscripts

Call for Manuscripts – Jewish and Christian Perspectives Series
http://ow.ly/eB5T50HJaF1

Jewish and Christian Perspectives publishes studies that are relevant to both Christianity and Judaism. The series includes works relating to the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, the Second Temple period, the Judaeo-Christian polemic (from ancient to modern times), Rabbinical literature relevant to Christianity, Patristics, Medieval Studies and the modern period. Special interest is paid to the interaction between the religions throughout the ages. Historical, exegetical, philosophical and theological studies are also welcomed, as well as studies focusing on sociological and anthropological issues, including archaeology, common to both religions.

Jewish and Christian Perspectives Series is a peer-reviewed book series that accommodates English language monographs, edited volumes and other book forms, published both in print and as an e-book.

We invite scholars to submit their manuscript proposal to Marjolein van Zuylen, Associate Editor Biblical Studies at Brill

Family and Identity in the Book of Judges

Bruno J. Clifton examines Israel’s family dynamics and identity politics in the dramatic narratives of Judges in an interdisciplinary study that brings socio-anthropological research into dialogue with the history and culture of ancient Israel. This monograph discusses the social experiences and interactions through which people in Israel might have viewed their place in the world. Institutions such as hospitality, marriage and community leadership are examined and the ethnicity, culture, social landscape, family life, and literature of ancient Israel are explored with a view to determining what impact the understanding of identity has on the interpretation of the stories in the Book of Judges.

Why is Jael nailing the head of Sisera to the ground on the cover of a book dealing with families in the Book of Judges?  That was the first question I had when I saw this volume.  A hint of an answer is provided early on in the book, and suddenly the choice of cover art makes much more sense than it does at first blush:

In the telling of Judg 4, its hearers hope that Jael conquers Sisera, not to save Israel but rather in protection of her household (p.2).

The book before us is a book about families.

Simply stated, this volume’s purpose is to think about the meaning of some of the stories related in the book of Judges. It is an approach that considers these tales as culturally significant literature and as such, assumes that they address its society’s issues and reflect its hopes and desires, fears and dreams. This requires understanding the context and probable socio-cultural milieux from which the stories arose and in which they circulated. It also demands a method or point of departure to navigate the values and social expectations that the stories express and to discern the likely issues that they address. Cultural artefacts such as the Bible belong to and are expressive of particular groups who, by means of their cultural heritage, wish to distinguish and celebrate themselves in contrast to other groups with different cultures (cf. Assmann 1995). Hence, literature that contributes to and is regarded as indicative of a culture speaks of how a community sees itself and wishes to present itself to the world (Cornell 2000, 44). In other words, such literature speaks of identity and, in order to achieve its canonical place among a community’s cultural classics, the figures depicted within the literature should reflect this identity. In this way, to investigate identity is to open a window onto the literature’s meaning and better appreciate its influence in the societies that claim it as their own.

To be sure, that’s a rather extensive quote, but I think it’s necessary.  Potential readers should be fully informed concerning what they are thinking about reading.  And read it they should.  This is one of the most engaging of monograph’s I’ve read in a long time.  The way in which the author explains and clarifies is a display of learning that’s a delight to encounter.

The front matter of the volume is available at the link above, as are the table of contents and other constituent parts.  The whole volume is incredible, but the exposition of the story of Gibeah and the Levite in chapter 7 is the best exegesis I’ve read since Jack Sasson’s commentary on Judges.  He not only steers readers to a deeper understanding of the text, he takes to task current scholarship on the text.  Concluding his exposition of Judges 19, C. writes

While the Levite benefits from his ḥōtēn’s recognition of their intimacy (vv3-8), he does not show the same familial devotion to his pîlegeš, ending up pushing her across the house’s threshold and into the hands of abusive strangers (v25). Weighing this contrast between ḥōtēn and ḥātān, it is not the “motif of the one helpful man” (Niditch 2008, 192) that provides the contrasting foil for the horror of Gibeah, but the respect for family shown by the father of a questionably wedded woman (p. 183).

It is a curiosity that the Hebrew text is transliterated rather than simply presented in Hebrew font.  It always seems odd to me when that happens.  There really is no reason for it, since the transliteration really does non Hebrew readers any good, and Hebrew readers don’t need it.  In olden days transliteration was done to save printing costs.  But with today’s computer driven printing it just seems to be something that should go the way of the car without seatbelts.

The value of the volume is not lessened because the Hebrew font is missing.  This is one of the best books you’ll pick up in 2022.  Students of the Hebrew Bible should each and every one read it.

A Companion to the Reformation in Scotland

This handbook presents almost thirty expert written chapters on the Scottish Reformation from the late 1520s to 1638. The book is organized in ten major themes: external and internal pressures for change; breakthrough and revolution; theological and philosophical formulations; varieties of dissemination; humanism and higher education; legal systems and moral order; appropriations in literary and popular cultures; outsiders; evolution of new national identity; and historiographical traditions and prospective developments. While there are introductory elements, the chapters both recall previous studies and offer new research. Concerns of the book are to recall Reformation core religious dimensions and to highlight the Scottish contribution to the rich tapestry of the Reformation in Europe.

Contributors: Alexander Broadie, Flynn Cratty, Jane E.A. Dawson, Timothy Duguid, Elizabeth Ewan, Paul R. Goatman, Michael F. Graham, Thomas Green, Crawford Gribben, W. Ian P. Hazlett, Ernest R. Holloway III, John McCallum, Alan R. MacDonald, Alasdair A. MacDonald, Jamie McDougall, David Manning, David G. Mullan, Gordon D. Raeburn, Andrew Spicer, Bryan D. Spinks, Scott R. Spurlock, Laura A.M. Stewart, Mark S. Sweetnam, Kristen Post Walton, David G. Whitla, Jack C. Whytock, Arthur H. Williamson.

Theological Anthropology, 500 Years after Martin Luther

Now out, from the inestimable Christophe Chalamet et al,

Theological Anthropology, 500 years after Martin Luther gathers contributions on the theme of the human being and human existence from the perspectives of Orthodox and Protestant theology. These two traditions still have much to learn from each another, five hundred years after Martin Luther’s Reformation. Taking Martin Luther’s thought as a point of reference and presenting Orthodox perspectives in connection with and in contradistinction to it, this volume seeks to foster a dialogue on some of the key issues of theological anthropology, such as human freedom, sin, faith, the human as created in God’s image and likeness, and the ultimate horizon of human existence. The present volume is one of the first attempts of this kind in contemporary ecumenical dialogue.

Readers of this volume are ‘sitting in on’ the conference which birthed it.  They are privileged to ‘hear’ (by reading) the opening remarks by representatives of various faith traditions and the publisher has also made available all of the front matter and the essays which comprise part 1 and part 2.  Persons who purchase the volume or who read a copy obtained from a library are able to ‘take part’ in the other lectures delivered during the conference (although chapters 7 and 14 and the back matter are also available for free download to anyone interested).

Concerning the conference itself,

The present volume owes its existence to His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who wished to see the Centre Orthodoxe du Patriarcat Œcuménique in Chambésy, near Geneva, plan an event commemorating the 500th anniversary of Luther’s reformation. On December 7th and 8th, 2017, sixteen scholars met in Chambésy’s Orthodox Center and at the University of Geneva in order to discuss the topic of Luther’s theological anthropology. This book gathers the texts which were presented during the conference.

Please take a look at the link above for all of the material the book offers.  Read the Preface (the Editors introduction).  Doing so will prepare you to engage a series of essays that take seriously the legacy of Luther and his reception in not only the West, but the East of Europe.  And that is important.  Indeed, it may be the most important aspect of the volume.  I.e., that it is not merely or simply a theological discussion among persons from Germany and America and England (which, frankly, so many things in Theology are); it is a discussion which brings to bear the voices of scholars from Switzerland, Germany, Greece, Lebanon, America, France, and England.  Protestants and Reformed and Orthodox all gather at the table for conversation.

Notice the editorial explanation of the gathering:

The relation between Luther and Orthodoxy is not a frequent topic of inquiry.  Few Protestants have studied it – and even fewer Orthodox. In our ecumenical age, however, such inquiry and dialogue are not optional: the best way to move forward in our quest for unity of all Christians is to learn to know one another better, more accurately and deeply, not just by reading, but also by meeting one another. The present introduction is divided into two sections: first, we provide a brief survey of the history of Lutheran-Orthodox dialogue. Second, we turn to certain key issues which continue to emerge in the course of this dialogue when we address the topic of theological anthropology.

Indeed!

And what a conversation it turns out to be.  The topics range, within the broad framework of Luther’s theological anthropology, from Sola Fide, to the Imago Dei, to the freedom of the will and others.  Each topic in seven of the eight sections is treated by an Orthodox theologian and a Protestant or Reformed theologian.  Only section 8 has a singular voice.  And by carefully reading each part (or section as I’ve called them) those who do so are given a very full picture of some of the chief anthropological ideas treated by Martin Luther.  This work, in short, is an introduction to Luther’s anthropology from the perspective of Orthodox and Protestant/Reformed scholars.

Take, for example Part Three, where Christophe Chalamet brilliantly fleshes out Luther’s notion of the bondage of the will, primarily by examining Luther’s lectures on Psalm 50/51.  This treatment is followed by Stavros Yangazoglou’s ‘Sin, Freedom and Free Will: Hermeneutical Conditions of Anthropology in the Orthodox Tradition and Luther’.  Both scholars use clear and helpful language to make their respective points.  Taken together, a very useful, very succinct, and yet very fulsome picture of Luther’s theology is set forth.

There are very few books like this.  I recommend it.  Especially to scholars in the West who have (like myself) very little first hand familiarity with Eastern theology.  It is an immensely instructive work.  And one of the most interesting that I read in Coronatide 2021.  If you haven’t read it yet, add it to your list for 2022.