Category Archives: Hendrickson

The Trial and Crucifixion of Jesus: Texts and Commentary

This may be of interest to folk:

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

The materials here assembled provide interested persons the opportunity to examine primary sources regarding the trial and execution of Jesus.  Though indirectly.

What I mean by that is that what we have here isn’t material about Jesus’s own trial or execution.  Instead we have material about trials and crucifixion in general written during and slightly later than the first century CE.

So, for instance, in part 1, J. Schnabel discusses Jewish trials before the Sanhedrin.  He offers extra-biblical texts relating to such things as Annas and Caiaphas, the jurisdiction of the Sanhedrin, capital cases in Jewish law, the interrogation of witnesses, charges of blasphemy, seduction, and sorcery, the abuse of prisoners, and transfer of court cases.

Part 2, again by Schnabel, turns to Roman trials before Pilate, and discusses, by means, again, of extra-biblical texts, Pilate himself, the jurisdiction of Roman prelates, and various Roman legal niceties.

Part 3 is written by D. Chapman and focuses on the act of Crucifixion (in all its gory details).  It also addresses what Chapman styles as ‘Bodily Suspension in the Ancient Near East’.  Greco-Roman sources on the topic are then laid out as are Hellenistic sources and Jewish sources.  Chapman then provides something of a who’s who of crucifixion victims in Roman literature.  This is followed by the various ways in which various societies reacted to the act of crucifixion and he closes out his very long third part with a listing of taunts and curses and jests which were hurled at the victims of crucifixion.  It’s worth reading.  Some of the taunts may be useful to readers of the volume at some point.  Especially if they are seeking a fresh rejoinder to hurl at some hapless ill prepared conference presenter.

There are, as one should expect, a fair number of illustrations and the work also includes a bibliography, an index of ancient sources, modern authors, and subjects.

The volume is a sourcebook of materials about trials and crucifixions in the ancient Mediterranean world.  It is not, strictly speaking, a volume about the trial and crucifixion of Jesus.  The title is, accordingly, a bit inaccurate.  It should have been titled ‘Trials and Crucifixions in the World of Jesus’, because that’s what it is about.

Inaccurate title notwithstanding, this is a fascinating sourcebook with mountains of important primary source materials.  In their original languages as well as in translation and with helpful commentary.  The authors have done a lifetime of work and they are to be congratulated for it.

This resource belongs on every New Testament scholar’s shelf.

A Proverb a Day in Biblical Hebrew

This book is a companion volume (of sorts) to the great series of books Hendrickson has published aimed at helping people keep up with their Greek and Hebrew and Aramaic.

Many of the sayings in the biblical book of Proverbs are difficult to read in Hebrew, even for those who know this language well. A Proverb a Day in Biblical Hebrew is designed to help readers of all levels of Hebrew competence meditate on and understand the concise and sometimes enigmatic sayings found in the book of Proverbs.

Each verse is presented on one page, which is marked with a day number (from 1 to 365) and a date (January 1 to December 31) so the book can be used as a daily reader or devotional. On each day’s page, the verse for the day is divided into two halves, based on the fact that each of the proverbs in the book constitutes a poetic couplet consisting of two parts. After each poetic line, all the words it contains are laid out and glosses are provided. All verbs (including participles) are fully parsed. Finally, at the bottom of the page, an English translation of the verse from two pages earlier is provided. This allows readers who are struggling with the meaning of a given day’s proverb, or those who wish to see one possible way it can be rendered, to flip the page and see a translation for it at the bottom of the next two-page spread. In this way, readers can choose to avail themselves of an “answer key” for any of the proverbs when they wish to, but they can also ignore this information (since it is located on the next two-page spread, there is no risk of accidentally seeing it while trying to puzzle through a proverb’s meaning).

A copy of the present book arrived on June 19th and I have made use of it each day since.  This wonderful volume presents readers with a simple two phrased Proverb each day along with glosses and Hebrew conjugations of various verbal forms.  It also includes an English translation of each Proverb, with a catch.  The translation can only be found on the bottom of the page two days later.  So, for instance, the translation of Proverbs 19:8 (Day 1) isn’t offered until Day 3, where it is found at the very bottom of the page.  And so on throughout the book.

The handy little volume also includes an alphabetical index of all the Hebrew words found in the book, along with the pages on which they are found.  Also found at the end of the book is an index of word frequency.  That is, words that occur on 52 days are listed.  Words that occur on 49 days, 48 days, 40 days, 38 days, etc. are all listed, all the way down to words found on just one day.  And finally, there is an index of passages from the Book of Proverbs.

The print on each individual day is large, and thus enjoyable.  And the opening pages of the volume are devoted to an explanation of the contents of the volume including a discussion of the selection of verses, the glosses, a brief overview of grammatical constructions, the parsings (or what we old timers call the conjugations), the Hebrew text used, text critical issues, and the English translations. Kline also spends a few pages explaining gendered and gender neutral language in the translations.

In a period of time when fewer and fewer Pastors and academics know Hebrew (or if they do know it they spend very little time retaining it or making use of it), this volume and the exceptionally well done volumes Hendrickson has published titled ‘The 2 Minutes a Day Biblical Language‘ series by the same author are a true boon.

The biblical languages are so utterly important that they genuinely need to be fully promoted and their learning fully supported.  This book helps do that.  If a person lacks the minute or so needed to read a proverb in Hebrew each day and to refresh their Hebrew thereby, they are far, far too occupied with trivialities and they need to examine their time management priorities.

All of us owe Hendrickson a great debt of gratitude for seemingly single handedly (in the biblical studies publishing field) striving to keep learning of the biblical languages alive.

To be sure, one can be familiar with the biblical text in many of the very fine translations available to English speaking people.  The REB for instance is superb.  But reading it is not the same as reading Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.  Reading the Bible in translation is like kissing your spouse through a sheet.  It may be somewhat satisfying, but it is clearly not everything that it could be.

Kiss your spouse on the skin of her (or his) lips.  Once you do that, you’ll scarcely have any interest in kissing them through a sheet ever again.

A Handbook on the Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith

Hendrickson sent a review copy of this new work some weeks back.  The publisher suggests that

This handbook serves as an introduction to the Jewish roots of the Christian Faith. It includes Old Testament background, Second Temple Judaism, the life of Jesus, the New Testament, the early Jewish followers of Jesus, the historical interaction between Judaism and Christianity, and the contemporary period.

It is no longer a novelty to say that Jesus was a Jew. In fact, the term “Jewish roots” has become something of a buzzword in books, articles, and especially on the internet. But what does the Jewishness of Jesus actually mean, and why is it important?

This collection of articles aims to address those questions and serve as a comprehensive yet concise primer on the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. A Handbook on the Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith consists of thirteen chapters, most of which are divided into four or five articles. It is in the “handbook” format, meaning that each article is brief but informative. The thirteen chapters are grouped into four major sections: (1) The Soil, (2) The Roots, (3) The Trunk, and (4) The Branches.

Unfortunately I am unable to be very enthusiastic about this work.  It is uneven in presentation and in places reeks of special pleading and eisegesis.  A variety of contributors at various levels of academic skill essentially guarantees such an outcome.  For example, seasoned scholars like Craig Evans and Scot McKnight intermingle with beginners like Eitan Bar and Andreas Stutz and the results are less than laudatory.  The intermingling of the divine beings and the daughters of men in Genesis 6, in fact, turned out better.

Allow me to illustrate: Craig Evans’ segment on the Old Testament in the New is brief yet well written and accurate.  It could have been a bit fuller, but given the aim of the volume and the purpose of the section, it does its job well and fairly.  Readers unfamiliar with the Use of the Old Testament in the New will be informed of the basics and will hopefully be spurred on to further research by the bibliography which concludes this (and every) section.

On the other end of the spectrum, Eitan Bar’s examination of the Sabbath is dry and uninspiring and for reasons not clear the me includes an equal amount of discussion of the sabbath in Israel today as it does for the sabbath in the Tanakh and Jesus and the Sabbath.  Why?  What possible relevance is the observance of the Sabbath in the modern secular state of Israel to the observance of the Sabbath as one of the ‘roots’ of the Christian faith?  Furthermore, whilst Evans’ bibliography is scholarly and appropriate, Eitan’s includes a work published by ‘Ariel Ministries’ in San Antonio, Texas.  If you aren’t familiar with this organization,

Ariel Ministries, created to evangelize and disciple our Jewish brethren, has been born from necessity to meet an urgent need. Ariel means “Lion of God,” representing the Messiah Yeshua as the Lion of Judah. It is also an alternate name for Jerusalem (Isaiah 29:1) — the city of peace now waiting for the Prince of Peace to return. It was in Jerusalem, in 1966, that a burning seed of desire was planted in the heart of Arnold Fruchtenbaum. On December 1, 1977, in San Antonio, Texas, Ariel Ministries was born and the seed began to bloom.  (https://www.ariel.org/about/ariel-ministries-history).

And that brings me to my chief complaint about the present work.  It is, in sum and substance, little more than a Messianic Christian primer.  It is not so much a handbook of the Jewish roots of the Christian faith as it is an apologia for Messianic Christians.

Mind you, I have no issues with that particular group or with their goals.  Those things are their business.  But a book purporting to be one thing which turns out to be another is something else.

If you are genuinely interested in the Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith, might I suggest that you pick up a copy of Strack-Billerbeck’s 6 volume Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch.  That has everything you need to know plus multiple addenda explaining everything you need to know that you didn’t know you needed to know.  Or, get a copy of Emil Schürer’s A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ (5 volumes).  Both are dated.  And even in that condition, miles better than the present work.

I wish I could offer a more positive assessment.  As I said, there are high points.  Alas, they are dragged down by the albatross of ideology hanging around their benighted necks.

This May Interest Some: The Hendrickson Review Program

hendrickson-review-program-4Do you like reading and reviewing new books hot off the press? Do you have an engaging blog with faithful followers? If so, we’d love to connect. The Hendrickson Review Program is a great way to receive advanced notice of new books and Bibles that are available for review. We publish books for pastors, students, and scholars in the fields of Biblical studies and Bible reference, as well as Bibles and thoughtful Christian trade.

Go here for all the info and to sign up.

You Reap What You Sow, Chris Tilling…

Many of you will know how Chris Tilling cruelly abandoned our lifelong friendship to hitch his wagon to Doug Campbell (roomie thief) for SBL 2016 in San Antonio.

Well, to prove the old adage ‘you reap what you sow’, it turns out that Tilling was massively dissed by Campbell (roomie thief) during a Wipf and Stock interview- saying, as you’ll see, that Tilling ‘is a joke’!

Cruel!  And Unusual!  PUNISHMENT!  #Glory. #TakeThatYouWretch.

Jesus and the Remains of His Day: Studies in Jesus and the Evidence of Material Culture

9781619707054oBobby K. of Hendrickson asked me to give this volume* the once over whilst we were in Atlanta for SBL (along with several other volumes I’ve already mentioned).  I’ve gotten around to this one and will first give some indication of what it contains followed by some general remarks concerning those I think could benefit from taking a look at it themselves.  So, the contents:

This book is a collection of thirteen articles on various aspects of how archaeological evidence enlightens our understanding of the life and death of Jesus and the culture in which he lived. Nine of the book’s thirteen essays were published previously, though several of these have been revised or augmented for inclusion in the present book; four of the book’s essays are new. Several of the essays deal with the death of Jesus and the burial practices of his day. Articles in the book include:

1. A Tale of Two Cities: What We Learned from Bethsaida and Magdala
2. A Boat, a House, and an Ossuary: What Can We Learn from the Artifacts?
3. Excavating Caiaphas, Pilate, and Simon of Cyrene: Assessing the Literary and Archaeological Evidence
4. “Have You Never Read?” Jesus and Literacy
5. Shout at the Devil: Jesus and Psalm 91 in the Light of Early Jewish Interpretation
6. “Hang Him on a Tree until Dead”: Hanging and Crucifixion in Second Temple Israel
7. The Family Buried Together Stays Together: On the Burial of the Executed in Family Tombs
8. Death Becomes Him: On the Execution and Burial of Jesus
9. Keeping Up with Appearances: The Talpiot Tomb Façade in Context
10. The Talking Dead: Post-Mortem Beliefs in Pagan, Jewish, and Christian Epitaphs

All of these are the sorts of topics covered in introduction to New Testament courses and/ or introductory courses on the archaeology of the Levant.  But there’s a bit more here than merely introductory materials.  There’s also a good bit of interaction (I am tempted to write ‘polemic’) with current academic trends and ideas.  Chapters 7 and 9 in particular take to task various notions currently floating around in the margins of academic discourse.

The book is excellently produced and features a quite sturdy binding (library quality really) and lovely illustrations (in color) along with a quite thorough bibliography (suitable for any persons interested in digging deeper into the topics covered in the book).

The audience in mind for this volume must surely have been students in graduate courses and that’s precisely the audience which will gain the most from its use.  It would function, ideally in my estimation, as a supplemental text.

Was Tischendorf a Thief or a Hero?

Constantine Tischendorf. Photo: Tischendorfarchive Alexander Schick © www.bibelausstellung.de / Courtesy of Helmut Constantin Behrend.

Constantine Tischendorf. Photo: Tischendorfarchive Alexander Schick © http://www.bibelausstellung.de / Courtesy of Helmut Constantin Behrend.

A new essay by Stan Porter will be worth your reading.

Legendary Leipzig scholar Constantine Tischendorf would be 200 this year, but he died surrounded by controversy at the relatively young age of 59. Known for his skills at discovering and deciphering rare ancient manuscripts, Tischendorf’s chance finding of Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest New Testament manuscript, at St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai—and his later removal of the manuscript—made him both famous and infamous. In “Hero or Thief? Constantine Tischendorf Turns Two Hundred” in the September/October 2015 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, eminent New Testament scholar Stanley Porter reexamines the allegations against Tischendorf in light of new evidence from the Russian archives.

Tischendorf, who spent his career at the University of Leipzig, travelled extensively in search of lost and forgotten manuscripts of the Bible. His deep religious commitments drove him to search for the oldest surviving manuscripts of the Bible. It was on such an expedition that Tischendorf succeeded in finding the oldest complete copy of the New Testament: Codex Sinaiticus, which dates to the mid-fourth century C.E.

Read the rest.  And check out the various new resources on both von T. and Sinaiticus that our friends at Hendrickson have published:

Codex Sinaiticus   Codex Sinaiticus
The Story of the World’s Oldest Bible
Author: D. C. Parker
Retail Price: $34.95
Publication Date: 2010
ISBN: 9781598565768     ISBN-13: 9781598565768     HP Item Number: 565768
Codex Sinaiticus   Codex Sinaiticus
Facsimile Edition
Retail Price: $799.00
Publication Date: 2011
ISBN: 9781598565775     ISBN-13: 9781598565775     HP Item Number: 565775
Codex Sinaiticus Art Prints   Codex Sinaiticus Art Prints
Facsimile Prints
Retail Price: $49.95
Publication Date: 2011
ISBN: 9781598566352     ISBN-13: 9781598566352     HP Item Number: 001269
Codex Sinaiticus: New Perspectives on the Ancient Biblical Manuscript   Codex Sinaiticus: New Perspectives on the Ancient Biblical Manuscript
New Perspectives on the Ancient Biblical Manuscript
Editor: Scot McKendrick
Retail Price: $84.95
Publication Date: September 2015
ISBN: 9781619706477     ISBN-13: 9781619706477     HP Item Number: 706477

tischDom Mattos was kind enough to remind me, in comments, about this book on v T.  He didn’t mention that he also interviewed Porter about this book.  Be sure to give it a listen. Great stuff.