Elephantine in Context: Studies on the History, Religion and Literature of the Judeans in Persian Period Egypt

The Persian period has long been considered a »dark era« in Israel’s history. For this reason, research has mainly focused on how it is depicted in the Hebrew Bible. A spectacular discovery of archaeological relics and epigraphic sources was hence hardly noticed: the military colony located on the island of Elephantine in the Nile, on the border between Egypt and present-day Sudan. The basic approach of this volume, which documents a three-year Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft project, is to break with a research tradition focusing on the Judeans (Jews) mentioned in the Aramaic papyri from Elephantine and instead investigate the military colony in a broader historical context also documented by Demotic and Egyptian-hieratic evidence found at Elephantine. The studies presented focus on three main subject areas: society and administration, religion, and literature. They show that historically the island of Elephantine hosted a multicultural society with several interactions between the Egyptians and the other inhabitants, and that it was also an important administrative centre for the Persian authorities.

A New Series of Potential Interest

History of Biblical Exegesis

Edited by Mark Elliott, Jennie Grillo, David Lincicum and Benjamin Schließer

History of Biblical Exegesis (HBE) is an international series dealing with the entire scope of the history of biblical exegesis, from antiquity to the present. It resumes the Beiträge zur Geschichte der biblischen Exegese, founded by Gerhard Ebeling and published by Mohr Siebeck from the 1950s to the 1990s. The series includes in its purview works of enduring scholarly value and excellence, ranging from excellent dissertations or first monographs to important conference volumes and collections of essays, to specialist monographs by established experts. History of Biblical Exegesis is understood capaciously to include a broad variety of forms of sustained attention to the biblical text. An international team of editors oversees the series to ensure its academic quality.

#ICYMI- Studien zur Septuaginta und zum hellenistischen Judentum

This volume presents selected studies by Robert Hanhart, Professor Emeritus and former director of the Septuaginta-Unternehmen der Göttinger Akademie der Wissenschaft. These studies deal with the origin, history and the translation technique of the Septuagint in the context of Hellenistic Judaism. Robert Hanhart finds in the Greek translation of the Hebrew text an interpretation and updating of the Scriptures, which is at the same time an act of Jewish self-definition in the Hellenistic Age. Other essays focus on the history of research, especially on the Göttinger Septuaginta-Unternehmen and P. de Lagarde.

It was published in 1999, but I’m drawing your attention to it now because it’s the anniversary of Robert Hanhart’s birth (born 6 July, 1925) and sometimes the stuff that’s older is the stuff that’s better.

The volume, in fact, appeared about the same time that a conference of Septuagint and Dead Sea Scrolls scholars was taking place at the University of Pennsylvania:

[back row] 1=Bruce Metzger 2=Neville Birdsall 3=David Talshir 4=Robert Hanhart 5=Emanuel Tov
[middle row] 1=David Stec 2=?m 3=Eugene Ulrich 4=Nina Collins
[front row] 1=Bilhah Nitzan 2=Richard Doidge 3=Anthony Hanson 4=Barnabas Lindars

Robert Kraft took that photo.  You can see Robert Hanhart on the back row, second from our right, next to Tov.  That was some incredible assemblage, you will doubtless agree.  Top notch scholars produce top notch studies- and that’s what this volume contains: the product of a life of over 40 years of intensive scholarship by one of the best Septuagintalists to ever inhabit the planet.

The volume is divided into major segments each of which deals with a subtopic of that segment.

  • The Origin and History of the Septuagint
  • The Essence of the Septuagint
  • The ‘Reception History’ of the Septuagint (as we would now call it) In Two Parts
  • Bibliography of Robert Hanhart

The essays appeared previously in various publications, and the editor made only minor corrections and adjustments to them.  The work is Hanhart’s.  The complete table of contents is this:

If you have not had a chance to make use of this still important volume, do so.  It is incredible.  And what better day to do it than the author’s birthday?

The Joseph Story Between Egypt and Israel

This new work is free via open access.  With thanks to Konrad for mentioning it.

Within the context of the Torah, the Joseph story can be read as a transition that explains why Jacob and his family came to Egypt. However, if one looks at other texts of the Hebrew Bible, there is no mention of the Joseph story; instead, the arrival of the Israelites is said to be the result of the decision of a »father« or of »fathers« to go down do Egypt. Indeed, there are very few references to Joseph at all in the whole Hebrew Bible. Apparently, the Joseph story is not necessary for explaining why the Israelites found themselves in Egypt. The question therefore arises: Why was this story written, when, and for what audience?

This volume offers an overview of the current discussion on the origins, composition, and historical contexts behind the Joseph narrative. There is a tendency to date the story (or its original version) to the Persian period, but this volume includes divergent voices about this issue. The volume also shows that scholarly discussion about the historical location of the Joseph story requires to bring together Egyptologists and biblical scholars.

The Community Rules from Qumran: A Commentary

Veröffentlicht auf Englisch. In diesem Band bietet Charlotte Hempel den ersten englischsprachigen Kommentar zu allen antiken Handschriften der Gemeinderegel. Diese Werke skizzieren die Organisation und die Werte, die der mit den Schriftrollen vom Toten Meer verbundenen Bewegung zugeschrieben werden.

Mohr have kindly provided a review copy.

Readers are provided the front matter and the opening pages along with a sample of the volume, in pdf, here.  Accordingly, those details won’t be repeated here.

Hempel provides readers with an extremely full description of the Community Rules, their textual content, their textual variations, and their meaning.  Each section follows the same methodological outworking.

First, the texts are introduced; this is followed by a sort of textual makeup.  What I mean by that is that Hempel looks quite carefully at matters like the materials of the text, their blank spots, their marginal signs, their superscriptions, and the like (where relevant).  These will be of special interest to textual critics.

Hempel also leads readers to a deeper appreciation for the scrolls contents and relationships with other scrolls by succinctly describing them.  The core of each section is the translation which Hempel offers of the texts.  These translations usually consist of two or three columns of text, arranged by textual similarity.  So, for instance, in her translation of 1QS 5:1a and parallels, she arranges 1 QS5 in its own column and the parallels 4Q256 9:1a, and 4Q258 1:1a in the second column.  Differences from 1 Q 5 are underlined for ease of viewing.

Textual notes follow the translations.  Finally, a commentary on the text is provided.  This layout will be familiar to all students of the Bible as it is the format followed by most critical commentaries of the biblical text.

Hempel’s commentaries on the various segments of the Scrolls are not thin or insubstantial.  Indeed, the commentary comprises the bulk of each chapter.  So, for instance, her treatment of the Rules Concerning Meetings (chapter 6), the introduction occupies 2 pages, the translations, 4 pages.  The textual notes fill 3 pages, but the commentary takes up 7 pages.

This is a carefully, meticulously, ingeniously presented volume.  It allows readers to gain a knowledge of the materials called the Community Rules in a thorough way previously only possible for those fortunate enough to have access to libraries holding both the ancient scrolls and their various copies and all of the relevant secondary literature connected to those texts and their study.  The only thing it lacks is the Hebrew text which underlies the English translation.  But it cannot be faulted for that, as commentaries on the Bible seldom provide the underlying texts for their English readers either.

As a volume, this is a true commentary.  That is, it is of the genre ‘commentary on ancient texts’.  In terms of its actual, particular contents, it is learned and erudite.  Hempel has done a massive amount of work and that fact is on full display on every page.  But unlike some commentators, she does not simply restate the already stated.  She thinks for herself, and her readers must find themselves grateful for her insights.

This book ought to find itself on the shelves of those who are interested in Second Temple Judaism, textual criticism, and the Qumran community.  But it should also be welcomed into the libraries and homes of all who have an interest in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Professor Hempel is to be congratulated for her fine work and her publisher for bringing it to the public.  But she should also be urged to do more of these kinds of volumes.  I, for one, would dearly love to read her commentary on 2Q26.

 

Rudolf Bultmann / Hans Jonas Briefwechsel 1928–1976

Hans Jonas’ thinking cannot be understood without regard to the special intellectual and biographical formation he underwent in Marburg during the 1920s. Besides Martin Heidegger, the Protestant theologian Rudolf Bultmann is particularly worthy of mention in this context. The correspondence between Jonas and Bultmann is the principal source of insight into their personal and intellectual relationship. Apart from a few intervals, their communication spanned almost half a century, from 1928 until 1976. It is an exceptionally impressive record of a scholarly friendship and at the same time testimony to a momentous philosophical-theological dialogue: about questions of gnosis, about myth and »demythologizing«, and – last but not least – about Heidegger and his relation to theology.

Hans Jonas’ work on gnosticism, though now of course quite dated, was remarkably influential in his day and he was no mean scholar and no man of small importance.  And of course Bultmann’s significance needn’t be discussed since all who know anything about New Testament and Early Christianity know of him.

This book offers readers a window on their interactions.  The volume is comprised firstly of a foreword, where the editors speak directly to readers about the work.  This is followed by a more in depth introduction to the work by those same editors.

The body of the volume is comprised of the correspondence between Hans Jonas and Rudolf Bultmann.  The first letter dates to 21.4.1928 and was sent by Jonas to Bultmann.  In it he briefly describes his present situation and his upcoming travel plans and scholarly activities.  It’s a paragraph in length.

The second letter, dated 13.7.1929 from Jonas to Bultmann, is extraordinarily long and is far more an essay than a piece of correspondence.

I mention these first two letters to give readers a sense of the comprehensive nature of the correspondence between these two scholars and do so in order to stress the importance of this correspondence.  These letters invite us into the world shared by two very important thinkers.  They lay bare the inner workings of their minds and the outer circumstances of their lives.  They allow us in, in a way that academic works, essays, lectures, and monographs never can.  They make these scholars ‘real’ friends and companions on the journey of life.

The first letter in the collection from Bultmann to Jonas is dated 15 January, 1953.  Either materials have been lost (which seems likely, since Bultmann was very keen to respond to letters when he received them) of for some reason never sent (which, again, seems very unlikely given Bultmann’s very German personality).

The last two letters date from late 1975 to early 1976.  The last from Jonas included the funeral oration delivered at Hannah Arendt’s funeral in New York on December 8, 1975 which Jonas delivered, in English.  The last from Bultmann, dated 12 February, 1976, and Bultmann laments that he has not heard from Jonas since he sent the funeral oration.  He also mentions his advanced age and the death of his beloved wife and the joy that has been his with the company of his daughter.  5 Months later, on July 30, 1976, Bultmann would himself die.

There are really lovely photographs interspersed between these letters and there are also 9 appendices featuring materials like Bultmann’s foreword to Jonas’ Studies in Gnosticism and Jonas’ memorial lecture at Marburg after Bultmann had died among other things.

Finally, the work concludes with a bibliography, a list of image sources, and indices of places, persons, and subjects.

I cannot stress, again, how incredibly important this volume, and volumes like it, where correspondence between important scholars is made available, are.  We are allowed and indeed invited to sit down and read over the shoulders of the giants upon whose shoulders we stand.  Seeing their private (oftentimes) thoughts and watching at first hand the development of ideas we will find later more fully developed in their books and lectures.

This book is more than commendable.  In a very serious way, it is indispensable if we wish to comprehend the work of Jonas and the work of Bultmann.

Tolle, lege!

The Origins of New Testament Theology

A Dialogue with Hans Dieter Betz
Edited by Rainer Hirsch-Luipold and Robert Matthew Calhoun

In contrast to studies of New Testament theology that ask or assume what it is, this volume investigates where it comes from. In a dialogue with Hans Dieter Betz, the contributors ask about the origins and preconditions of New Testament theology. How did it begin, both in terms of its historical stimuli and in terms of its earliest literary expressions? To what extent, if at all, did early Christians think of themselves as »doing theology«? How did early Christians come to understand their faith as an object of knowledge, and thus as theology? And, how did early Christians participate in and contribute to wider philosophical conversations about religion and what can be known about the divine in Roman antiquity?

  • Rainer Hirsch-Luipold/Robert Matthew Calhoun: Introduction
  • Hans Dieter Betz: New Testament Theology: The Origins of a Concept
  • Gerd Van Riel: Theology and Religiosity in the Greek Pagan Tradition
  • Johan C. Thom: Theology and Popular Philosophy
  • Rainer Hirsch-Luipold: Theo-logy in John and in Early Imperial Platonism
  • Ulrich Luz † Die biblische Tradition als Wurzelgrund neutestamentlicher Theologie: Eine Skizze
  • Harold W. Attridge: The Beginnings of Christian Theology
  • Samuel Vollenweider: Paläste und ihre Baupläne: Auf der Suche nach der Theologie des Neuen Testaments
  • Hans Dieter Betz: The Reasons for Romans: Why Did Paul Write His Letter to the Romans?

The opening essay by Betz, which follows a brief introduction outlining the origins of the collection of essays and describing the conference at which the bulk of the papers were originally delivered, is the longest essay in the volume.  In it, Betz discusses the origins of the term ‘theology’, the origins of Paul’s concept of faith, the manifestations of Pauline theology in hymns and early confessions, and then he turns to the origins of John’s theology.  The essay ends with examinations of Paul’s Christology, John’s Christology, and New Testament theology as a whole.

Scholars familiar with New Testament theology will know right off that Betz is arguing with Bultmann over the issues at hand, and he makes a very good case for his side of it.

The essays which remain examine particular aspects of that argument, and the closing essay, again, by Betz, returns to a question raised in the first essay but dealt with in far more detail:  why Paul wrote Romans.

All of the essays are in English save two in German.  The two German essays have, at their conclusions, an English abstract, so non-readers of German still get the gist of the two German works.

There’s also a very extensive general bibliography, a list of contributors and their present affiliations, and an index of references and one of subjects.

Though not a large book, it’s just 220 pages of text plus the end matter, it’s a weighty and substantial work.  Persons interested in sitting in on what turns out to be a ‘faculty lounge’ discussion by some of the most informed and learned New Testament scholars will benefit from it.  Immensely.

It carries the discussion forward.  And nothing more can be asked of any scholarly production.

Luther once remarked

It is presumptuous for people who are as ignorant as you are not to take up the work of a herdsman.

He would never have reason to say that to the contributors to this volume.  Thankfully.

Historical and Theological Lexicon of the Septuagint

The Hebrew Bible has played an important part in the development of Western culture. However, its central ideas – such as monotheism, the demythologization of nature or the linearity of time – had to be taken out of the national and linguistic milieu in which they had developed if they were to to become fertile on a wider scale. They also needed to be rendered palatable to a mentality that had experienced the scientific, rationalist revolution prepared by the Greeks. The Septuagint – the oldest Greek translation of the Jewish Bible, produced over the third and second centuries BC – is the first important step in this process of acculturation.

Over the last twenty years the Septuagint has come out of the shadow of its Hebrew source. Historians of Judaism, linguists, and biblical scholars have come to view the Septuagint as a significant document in its own right. As the discoveries in Qumran have shown, the Hebrew source text of the Septuagint was not identical to the traditional text received by the synagogue (the Masoretic Text). Also, the translators appear to have taken a degree of liberty in interpreting the text. Dominique Barthélemy used the term ‘aggiornamento’: the Septuagint is a kind of update of the Jewish scriptures.

This large-scale collective and interdisciplinary project aims to produce a new research tool: a multi-volume dictionary providing a comprehensive article (around 500 articles in all) for each important word or word group of the Septuagint. Filling an important gap in the fields of ancient philology and religious studies, the dictionary is based on original research of the highest scientific level.

The dictionary will be published in English. The first volume contains over 160 articles on words with the letters Alpha to Gamma.

Septuagintalists everywhere will be panting.  If you see your favorite Greek Professor with a glazed look in his eyes and flecks of drool in the corner of his mouth (or hers- women Profs drool too), it’s probably because they’ve seen this series announced.

Conference Volume: Die Septuaginta – Themen, Manuskripte, Wirkungen

Die Septuaginta – Themen, Manuskripte, Wirkungen

7. Internationale Fachtagung veranstaltet von Septuaginta Deutsch (LXX.D), Wuppertal 19.-22. Juli 2018, Herausgegeben von Eberhard Bons, Michaela Geiger, Frank Ueberschaer, Marcus Sigismund und Martin Meiser

This collection offers a wide-ranging overview of current research on the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. Its contributions address numerous hitherto little explored questions about the relationship of the biblical texts to their Jewish and Hellenistic environment and their influence on early Christianity.

New From Mohr

The Medieval Luther
Ed. by Christine Helmer

This revisionist study demonstrates Luther’s deep familiarity with medieval philosophy and theology. It connects his doctrines of Christ, salvation, and the priesthood to broader late medieval historical, religious, and political concerns, and shows how indispensable the study of the Middle Ages is for understanding Luther’s theology.

Der erste Brief des Petrus
Gerald Wagner / François Vouga

Gerald Wagner and François Vouga portray the strategy of non-violence and the revelation theology of history of 1 Peter, which lay the foundation for the Christian commitment to have a transforming influence on neighbours and society in everyday life.

Food Taboos and Biblical Prohibitions: Reassessing Archaeological and Literary Perspectives

It’s open access.  With thanks to Konrad Schmid for the heads up.

This volume presents contributions from »The Larger Context of the Biblical Food Prohibitions: Comparative and Interdisciplinary Approaches« conference held in Lausanne in June, 2017. The biblical food prohibitions constitute an excellent object for comparative and interdisciplinary approaches given their materiality, their nature as comparative objects between cultures, and their nature as an anthropological object. This volume articulates these three aspects within an integrated and dynamic perspective, bringing together contributions from Levantine archaeology, ancient Near Eastern studies, and anthropological and textual perspectives to form a new, multi-disciplinary foundation for interpretation.

Petrusliteratur und Petrusarchäologie: Römische Begegnungen

Peter was a central figure of emerging Christianity that has shaped an important branch of early Christian literature and has been linked to an early and equally important local tradition in Rome. However, both lines of the reception of Peter have only been linked occasionally, and at a relatively late point in time. In this volume, the authors deal with this from the perspective of New Testament texts and early church history. The articles discuss early Petrine literature within and outside of the New Testament and the Roman ecclesial and archaeological Petrine tradition since the second century.

Via.  A review copy arrived last month and I’ve enjoyed working with it.

Interested potential readers should view the table of contents and the introductory essay as well as a few pages of Christoph Heilig’s essay along with the end matter here.  Those materials give a very good overview of both what the volume is attempting and how its editors conceive it.

Die Gestalt des Petrus steht als Schlüsselgestalt unübersehbar an den Ursprüngen des Christentums, wenngleich oft unterschätzt – zumal von Protestanten.  Die fundamentale und universal-ökumenische Relevanz des Petrus ist nirgendwo deutlicher als in Rom, im monumentalen Memorialbau des Petersdoms mit seiner überdimensionalen Kuppelinschrift TV ES PETRVS … (Mt 16,18) und dem historischen Anspruch der Grabtradition unter dem Petersdom. Dass diese Grabtradition und darüber hinaus eine römische Wirksamkeit des Petrus überhaupt von kritischen Forschern – von Karl Heussi bis Otto Zwierlein– immer wieder bestritten wurde und wird und dass sie von anderen vor allem wegen ihrer Bedeutung für die römisch-katholische Ekklesiologie historisch und archäologisch nach Kräften verteidigt wird, ist die eine Ebene, nämlich die der historisch fassbaren Lokaltradition. Sie geht in jedem Fall bis tief in die Kaiserzeit zurück und hat in Rom eine bis heute greifbare petrinische »Erinnerungslandschaft« hervorgebracht; sie hat über die topographische Wirklichkeit christliche Frömmigkeitsgeschichte über Jahrhunderte geprägt.

Turning to the essays themselves, they provide a very good overview of the ‘reception’ of Peter in early Christianity (and later).  More specifically, how Peter was portrayed in art,  literature, and tradition, is the core of the volume’s intention.  Consequently, essayists strive to describe as clearly as possible aspects of that portrayal:

Chrsitoph Heilig does so by assessing the ‘New Pauline Perspective’ and what it may contribute to a new Petrine perspective.  Frey returns to his well traveled investigation of Second Peter to describe vestiges of a petrine-school.  And Kraus examines the Acts of Peter for clues it may contain regarding Peter in Rome.

In fact, several of the essayists look at Peter’s connection to Rome, including his potential burial place (Gemeinhardt).

The long and short of it is that this volume furthers our understanding of Peter’s reception in early Christianity.  It isn’t a study or collection of studies about Peter himself, but rather about those who wrote of him and who erected remembrances (and interpretations) of him.  Those interested, then, in the ‘historical Peter’ will need to turn elsewhere.

Those, however, who are intrigued by the figure of Peter in early Christianity will very much benefit by reading the herein collected essays.

Buy One Get One For Your Library: An Amazing Offer from Mohr Siebeck

— Mohr Siebeck “Buy for your library” initiative —

If you are thinking about buying an e-book as a private user, we would like to make you the following offer:

For every Mohr Siebeck e-book purchased privately via mohrsiebeck.com or other platforms, you can have it activated at no additional cost and for permanent use at an institutional library of your choice.

All you need to do is send your invoice number (if you did not buy on mohrsiebeck.com please send me a copy of the invoice) to simon-nanko@mohrsiebeck.com with a reference to which library you would like us to give the e-book to. The e-book will be made available to the library campus-wide and (currently most important) in remote access for permanent use.

Please check beforehand whether the respective institution has already purchased the e-book. Particularly in the case of activations on third-party platforms, we often have no insight into exactly who the end customer is and which e-book was purchased by which institution. The institution receiving the gift does not have to be your home institution.

The offer is valid until 30.6.

Johann Jakob Griesbach (1745–1812): Protestantische Dogmatik im populartheologischen Diskurs des 18. Jahrhunderts

Marco Stallmann, Johann Jakob Griesbach (1745–1812): Protestantische Dogmatik im populartheologischen Diskurs des 18. Jahrhunderts

Marco Stallmann offers the first monographic analysis of the general scholarly life of the Jena theologian Johann Jakob Griesbach, and of his »popular dogmatics« in particular, which represent a central yet till now little researched text category in the post-Enlightenment differentiation between theology and religion.

The interested reader can see the table of contents and the opening matter as well as a sample of the book here.  This will give the potential consumer of this book plenty of first hand information about what it contains and what its purpose and method are.  My remarks in what follows will be confined to my personal observations about the book and how it engaged me.

Every reader is different.  Each brings their whole intellectual history into the reading of any book, and this book is no differently read.  Those who enjoy biography, as I do, will find it extremely interesting.  Those who are prone to enjoying fiction or science fiction or that sort of rubbish will find it less than enthralling only because they are used to flying dragons and preteen witches and star battles and imaginary space ships and alien beings.  This work has none of those.  Nor does it have drawings and maps or charts or other visual aids.  It is an intellectual volume, for intellectuals.

After introducing the purpose and aim of the work, which is a revised doctoral dissertation, Stallmann first investigates Griesbach’s life in quite detailed pages which cover his childhood and youth, his advancement in studies in Halle and his eventual professorship in Jena.

The second major section of the book addresses the wider topic of the popular understanding of dogma and dogmatics in the lifetime of Griesbach.  The world of the Enlightenment and its worldview predominate.  And how religion and rationality fit into that intellectual environment also figure prominently.

The final major division helps readers to see quite well what it is that Griesbach attempted to accomplish in and through his work as a scholar in the world of the Enlightenment.  What is to be done with supernaturalism and rationalism?  Where does the individual Christian fit in this world?  How does Christianity function in such an environment?

In short, the questions which Griesbach faced, and addressed, are still the very questions which are being asked today.  Griesbach’s answers, given that they belong to a different world, cannot be adopted without adjustment, but he can serve as a very helpful guide for intellectual Christians as they strive to honestly answer critical questions from the perspective of thoughtful, reasonable belief.

Mind you, this is not an ‘apologetic’.  Nor is Griesbach and apologist.  Far from it!  Instead, he is a thoughtful investigator of intellectually driven issues Christians still face.

The volume includes a very thorough bibliography, along with primary and secondary sources.  It also provides an index of persons, places, and subjects.  What it lacks, and what I wish it had, is a portrait of Griesbach himself.  So here’s one:

This book is a treat.  Intellectually and as a biography.  Enjoy it.

Essays on the Book of Isaiah

Essays on the Book of Isaiah, by Joseph Blenkinsopp

This volume of essays by Joseph Blenkinsopp on different aspects of the book of Isaiah is the product of three decades of close study of the most seminal and challenging texts of the Hebrew Bible. Some of the essays deal with major themes in Isaiah, for example, universalism, theology and politics, and the Suffering Servant of the Lord God. Five of them are published here for the first time.

I can’t think of a single living person who knows more about Isaiah than Joe Blenkinsopp.  And no one has done more to further our understanding of that book.  Here collected, then, are 20 essays by an excellent scholar, 15 of which have appeared over a number of years across a variety of platforms.  5 additional essays that have never appeared before are also included.

The table of contents is available here, along with the first essay (which has never been published before), and the biblical index.

The essays appearing here for the first time are as follows:

  • The Formation of the Hebrew Bible Canon: Isaiah as a Test Case
  • Isaiah and the Neo-Babylonian Background
  • The Sectarian Element in Early Judaism: The Isaian Contribution
  • Zion as Reality and Symbol in Psalms and Isaiah
  • The Suffering Servant, the book of Daniel, and Martyrdom

The remainder, as listed in the table of contents have, as suggested above, all appeared above in a variety of sources including journals and collections of essays.

Everyone who works in Isaiah studies knows the name of Joe Blenkinsopp and everyone who attends CBA or SOTS or SBL has seen him at one or more of those meetings.  Sleight of stature but powerful of intellect, hat wearing and mustachioed, he is a grave presence; an icon; a fixture.  His unflagging energy is inspiring and his intellectual vigor astonishing.

For those new on the scene of biblical studies, Joe was

Born in Durham, England. Taught at International Theological College, Romsey, U.K., Chicago Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt University and University of Notre Dame from 1970; Guest-Professor at Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome, 1998.  Member of several learned societies including Society of Biblical Literature, Society for the Study of the Old Testament (U.K., President 1999-2000), Catholic Biblical Association (President 1988-1989), European Association of Biblical Studies.  ATS Research grant 1978, Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford 1982-1983 with NEH grant, Mellon Retiree Research Grant 2005-2006.  Excavated at Tel Dan, Israel 1977 and at Capernaum, Israel  with Notre Dame University support 1980-1987. Rector of Ecumenical Institute, Tantur, Israel, 1978.  

And more, frankly.  Were all his publications, lectures, conference papers, and assorted other academic achievements listed the ‘world could not contain all the books’ that it would take.

I mention all that not merely to appear fawning (though Joe has long been a hero of mine); but to place him on the stage where he belongs:  dead center.  And so does his little book of essays just published by Mohr.

When he writes, for example, in his explanation of the identity of the tsaddiq of Isaiah 57:2, that

… not everything in these chapters can be derived from one source or only reduced to one formula only, but this prophetic legacy, announced at the end of Deutero-Isaiah (54:17), is clearly a prominent theme and provides an important element of continuity in the post-disaster Isaian corpus…

we are brought to the cusp of Blenkinsopp’s genius:  a careful, measured, thoughtful, and provocative eye for the details and ability to express his insights with clarity and brevity.  That ability is on display throughout these essays.  Students of Isaiah will be greatly assisted in their own studies if they will take the time and make the effort to read through what Professor Blenkinsopp has written.