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Old Testament Essays

versão On-line ISSN 2312-3621
versão impressa ISSN 1010-9919

Old testam. essays vol.27 no.1 Pretoria Jan. 2014

 

Book Reviews / Boek Resensies

 

 

Alexandra Grund, Annette Krüger, Florian Lippke, Hg. Ich will dir danken unter den Völkern. Studien zur israelitischen und altorientalischen Gebetsliteratur. Festschrift für Bernd Janowski zum 70. Geburtstag. Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 2013. 770 Seiten. Paperback. ISBN 978-3-57908152-6.

Nachdem für den inzwischen emeritierten Tübinger Alttestamentler Bernd Janowski bereits zu seinem 65. Geburtstag zu Aspekten einer theologischen Anthropologie eine knapp 600-seitige Festschrift erschienen ist (vgl. dazu die Rezension in OTE 21/1, 2008, 219-221), wird zu dessen 70. Geburtstag mit dem vorliegenden Band von über 750 Seiten diese an Umfang noch übertroffen. Die beiden Bände und die Vielzahl an Beiträgen aus unterschiedlichen Fachgebieten zeigen nicht nur Respekt und Verbundenheit, die dem Jubilar entgegengebracht werden, sondern dokumentieren auch seine Mitwirkung in unterschiedlichen Diskursen und Themenbereichen.

Im hier anzuzeigenden Band geht es um das Gebet (vornehmlich) im Alten Israels und im Alten Orient. Dabei bilden die Psalmen einen besonderen Schwerpunkt. Der voluminöse Band enthält nach dem Vorwort der Herausgeberschaft 36 deutsch- und 2 englisch-sprachige Essays (teils mit Abbildungen), die unter vier Hauptrubriken eingestellt sind.

I. Psalmenstudien. 1. Anthropologie der Psalmen: Ute Neumann-Gorsolke, »Aus dem Mund von Kindern und Säuglingen ...« Ps 8,3 im Spiegel der Teilkomposition Ps 3-14, 15-35; Miguel Gutierrez, Some Reflections about the Literary Structure and about the Anthropology of Psalm 8, 36-48; Michael Lichtenstein, Das »innere Chaos.« Beobachtungen zu Ps 36 und der Möglichkeit zur Sünde im eigenen Herzen, 49-67; Peter Riede, »Deine Tröstungen erfreuen meine Lebenskraft« (Psalm 94,19). Überlegungen zur Bedeutung der Trostaussagen in den Individualpsalmen des Alten Testaments, 68-79; Jan Dietrich, Schadenfreude und Rachegedanken in den Sprüchen und Psalmen, 8092; Florian Lippke, Gottebenbildlichkeit in anthropomorpher Dimension. Belege aus dem Psalmenbuch, 93-120. 2. Kosmologie und Jerusalemer Kulttradition: Beate Ego, Vom Völkerchaos zum Völkerkosmos. Zu einem Aspekt der Jerusalemer Kultkonzeption, 123-141; Martin Leuenberger, Großkönig und Völkerkampf in Ps 48. Zur historischen, religions- und theologiegeschichtlichen Verortung zweier zionstheologischer Motive, 142-156; Michaela Bauks, Der göttliche Gärtner. Baum- und Gartenmotivik im Psalter, 157-179; Nikita Artemov, Unterweltsflüsse, Chaoswasser oder gefährliche Wadis? Notizen zu den »Strömen Belials« in Ps 18,5 = 2 Sam 22,5, 180-193; Friedhelm Hartenstein, Exklusiver und inklusiver Monotheismus. Zum »Wesen« der Götter in Deuterojesaja und in den späten Psalmen, 194-219. 3. Exegesen ausgewählter Psalmen: Kathrin Liess, Von Gottes Gerechtigkeit erzählen. Zum Lob Gottes in Psalm 71, 223-237; Tomohisa Yamayoshi, »Kostbar sei ihr Blut in seinen Augen« (Ps 72,14). Erlösung der persoynae [sic!] miserae als Gerechtigkeitserweis eines Königs, 238-252; Tina Arnold, »Und ich will meine Hände erheben zu deinen Geboten« (Ps 119,48). Ungewöhnliche Aspekte eines Gebetsgestus, 253-264; Angelika Berlejung, Wider die Freuden und Vergeßlichkeiten des Exils. Überlegungen zu Ps 137, 265-287; Walter Groß, Wie Ps 139 zum Osterpsalm wurde, 288-298; Yair Zakovitch, The Bible's Hidden Dictionary. The Example of Psalms, 299-305.

II. Alttestamentliche Gebete außerhalb des Psalters: Arndt Meinhold, Gebetsintentionen in Genesis 37-50, 309-323; Raik Heckl, Die Entstehung von Intertextualitäten in Hannas Gelübde (1 Sam 1,11.21-24), 324-339; HeinzDieter Neef, Hannas Lobgesang (1 Sam 2,1-10). Beobachtungen zu Text, Sprache und Komposition, 340-355; Karin Finsterbusch, Gegen die Furcht vor den Göttern der Welt: Eine Art »Psalm« Jeremias für Israel in MT-Jer 10,116, 356-372; Christian Frevel, Von fremden Händen und bloßgestellten Frauen. Ein Zwischenruf zur Inflation sexueller Gewalt in der Deutung von Klagelieder 1, 373-393; Hoby Randriambola-Ratsimihah, Das Doppelbekenntnis von Klgl 5 in biblisch-theologischer Hinsicht, 394-409; Alexandra Grund, »Dankt JWHH - singt ihm, spielt ihm!« (1 Chr 16,28f.). Zum Zusammenhang von Dank und Kultmusik in den Chronikbüchern, 410-431.

III. Gebete aus dem Umfeld des Alten Testaments. 1. Übergreifende Studien: Helga und Manfred Weippert, Der betende Mensch. Eine Außenansicht, 435-490; Hermann Michael Niemann, Stufen und Treppen in der Levante, in der Bibel - und in den Wallfahrtspsalmen?, 491-518; Jan Assmann, Tora und Totenbuch als Codices der Rechtfertigung. Kodifizierung und Kanonisierung von Recht in der Alten Welt, 519-538. 2. Ägypten und Alter Orient: Hartwig Altenmüller, Die Blindheit des Beters. Bemerkungen zu einem Gebetsostrakon der 18. Dynastie, 541-556; Joachim Friedrich Quack, Lobpreis der Gottheit und Hoffnung auf Beistand im spätramessidischen Ägypten. Eine Neubearbeitung der sogenannten »Gebete eines ungerecht Verfolgten«, 557-593; Hans Neumann, Zum Problem von Schuld und Sühne in den sumerischen Gottesbriefen, 594-602; Herbert Niehr, Königtum und Gebet in Ugarit. Der König als Beter, das Gebet für den König und das Gebet zum König, 603-622. 3. Antikes Judentum und Islam: Otto Kaiser, Das Gebet bei Philon von Alexandria, 625-644; Hermann Lichtenberger, Die Jerusalemorientierung von 11QPsa, 645-657; Annette Krüger, »Der vom Himmel Wasser herabkommen ließ und dadurch Früchte als Lebensunterhalt für euch hervorbrachte«. Zur Rezeption von Psalm 104 im Koran, 658-667.

IV. Systematisch- und praktisch-theologische Beiträge: J. Christine Janowski, Beten ohne zu bitten? Zum Problem der Aufzehrung des Gebets und des Betens in I. Kants Religionsphilosophie, 671-708; Günter Thomas, Die Affizierbarkeit Gottes im Gebet. Eine Problemskizze, 709-731; Michael Welker, »Wo der Geist Gottes ist, da ist Freiheit!,« 732-749; Andreas Reinert, Der ganze Mensch. Eine Anthropologie der Psalmen mit Schülerinnen und Schülern entwickeln, 750-765.

Diese (zitierfähige) Auflistung vermittelt einen Überblick über die Spannbreite der angeschnittenen Texte und Themen. Auf eine Vorstellung der nahezu 40 Aufsätze im Detail ist hier zu verzichten. Es seien exemplarisch ein paar Beiträge herausgegriffen. Sie waren für den Rezensenten besonders anregend (womit kein allgemeines Werturteil ausgesprochen werden soll): Finsterbusch erarbeitet in ihrer Kommunikationsanalyse von Jer 10,1-16 einen mehrfachen Wechsel heraus zwischen einer (prophetischen) Stimme Gottes und einer (psalmischen) Stimme zu JHWH, die als Kontrast wirkt. Ein Zusammenzug der eingestellten Worte, die an Gott adressiert sind, ergibt eine Art »Jeremia-Psalm.« Eine Abgleichung mit Gebeten aus dem Psalter wird nicht vorgenommen, wäre aber interessant. Frevel bietet eine mutige und nötige hermeneutische wie methodenexegetische Anfrage zur gängig gewordenen Deutung von Klgl 1 (v.a. V. 10) im Sinne von sexueller Gewalt (an Frauen): »Hat es nicht auch etwas Vergewaltigendes, wenn die Texte dort, wo sie mehrdeutig bleiben und vielleicht bewußt Leerstellen und eine verschleiernde Vagheit der Eindeutigkeit entgegensetzen, zur sexuellen Gewalt hin gezwungen werden?« (S. 391). Randriambola-Ratsimihah diskutiert anhand von Klgl 5 die Verhältnisbestimmung von Väterschuld und Eigenschuld. »Das persönliche Sündenbekenntnis widerspricht nicht dem Bekenntnis der Sünden der Väter, sondern ist in ethischer Hinsicht dessen logische Folge.« (S. 405). Weipperts bieten eine ausführlich Tour d'Horizon (mit hilfreichen Abbildungen) zu Gestik, Körperhaltungen und sprachlichem Ausdruck des Betens (Hände, Prostration), angefangen von den Muslimen in der Gegenwart bis ins alte Ägypten, nach Mesopotamien und ins Alte Testament. Assmann erörtert die unterschiedlichen Arten schriftlicher Festlegung von Recht in der alten Welt (Codex, Rechtsbuch, Erlass etc.) und den damit jeweils verbundenen Umfang an Verbindlichkeit (Sammlung, Kanon). In Ägypten und im Alten Orient galt der König als Garant der Rechtssphäre. Anders die Tora: Sie ist zwar Codex, kennt die königliche Rechtssouveränität aber nicht: »Die Tora ersetzt das Königtum, das allenfalls noch als ein Zugeständnis an die Unmündigkeit des Volkes geduldet wird.« (S. 524). Mit dieser Theologisierung des Rechts tritt Israel aus den Rechtstraditionen seiner Umwelt heraus. Der Befreier schliesst einen Vertrag mit den Befreiten. Die Bedrohung der Bündnistreue geht von zwei Gefahren aus: Verführung und Vergessen. Thomas skizziert die Problematik einer neuzeitlichen Gebetslehre, die unter die Dominanz der Gotteslehre geraten ist. Die Personalität bzw. Affizierbarkeit Gottes und damit die »Beweglichkeit« seines Handelns auf Gebet hin wird zum Problem. Calvin sowie Schleiermacher und die von ihm geprägte Moderne dienen als Beispiele. Ein Weg öffnet sich, wenn christologisch und pneumatologisch auf der Basis einer dynamisch-responsorischen Beziehung gedacht wird: »In der >Schule des Betens< wächst das Vertrauen in den affizierbaren Adressaten des Gebets - denn der Beter drückt sich nicht nur coram deo aus, sondern spricht ad deum.« (S. 728).

Wer sich mit den biblischen Psalmen oder Gebeten generell beschäftigt, wird mit Gewinn diesen Sammelband zur Hand nehmen.

Beat Weber
Theologisches Seminar Bienenberg, Liestal (Switzerland) and Department of Ancient Languages
University of Pretoria, Pretoria (South Africa)
Birrmoosstrasse 5, CH - 3673 Linden (Switzerland)
Email: weberlehnherr@sunrise.ch.

 

 

Daniel C. Harlow, Karina Martin Hogan, Matthew Goff, Joel Kaminsky, eds. The "Other" in Second Temple Judaism: Essays in Honor of John J. Collins. Grand Rapids, Mich. / Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2011. xxxix + 502 pages. Hardcover with dustjacket. Price US$65.00 ISBN 978-0-8028-6625-7.

The "Other" in Second Temple Judaism is a collection of twenty-seven essays written by colleagues and former students of John J. Collins as a tribute to him on occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday. As the title of the volume indicates, the "Other" forms the unifying theme of all the essays. This is a felicitous choice, because the issues of Jewish identity in the Second Temple period and how Jewish groups in the land of Israel and the Diaspora defined themselves in relation to (who they considered to be) "Others" have recently become hot topics in scholarship. The essays engage with this theme by addressing a variety of topics pertaining to five broad areas of study to which Collins has devoted much of his scholarly career: (1) The HB and its reception, (2) Wisdom, (3) Apocalypticism, (4) the Dead Sea scrolls, and (5) Jews among Greeks and Romans.

The essays are introduced by Daniel C. Harlow's brief account of Collins' contributions to each of these five areas of study. The first part of the volume comprises of eight essays and deals with the HB and its reception. Joel S. Kaminsky notes how the HB portrays Israel as God's elect over against two categories of the Other: the non-elect and the anti-elect. He goes on to look at the representations of the Other in late biblical, Second Temple and rabbinic literature. Carol Newsom makes use of insights from Emmanuel Levinas and Miroslav Volf to discuss the strategies of exclusion by which biblical texts dismiss foreign kings' claims to sovereignty which, ideologically speaking, is reserved for YHWH alone. Katell Bertholet examines a number of ancient Jewish interpretations of the account of the curse of Canaan in Gen 9 (4Q252, Philo, Wisdom of Solomon, Josephus, Jubilees and Genesis Rabbah) in order to discover how the writings deal with the problem of a son being cursed for the sins of his father. In an analysis of the Nazarite vow described in Num 6, Susan Niditch draws on insights from different models on how the body is used to distinguish the Self from the Other. Susan Ackerman highlights the prominent role in ritual music-making that pre-exilic texts attribute to women. Her discussion demon-strates, however, how biblical texts from the exilic and early post-exilic times progressively marginalise women from their roles as ritual musicians. Timothy H. Lim investigates how the author of Ruth used the title character's spoken Hebrew and the epithet המואביה as ploys to underscore her foreignness. Antonios Finitsis analyses the different strategies of the post-exilic prophets Haggai and (Proto-)Zechariah in fostering the "in-group" identity of the fractured and struggling community of Yehud. The Middle-Irish composition Buile Shuibhne is the subject of Naomi Jacob's essay. She shows that this text is an interesting part of the reception history of Dan 4's story of Nebuchadnezzar's madness.

Part Two of the volume contains five essays on Wisdom and sapiential literature. Karina Martin Hogan looks at the wisdom poem in Bar 3:9-4:4 and notes that the rest of the writing has a more nuanced view of other nations and election than this poem. Shannon Burkes Pinette traces the changes in the perception of Wisdom during the Second Temple period. By comparing the portrayais of Wisdom in Ben Sira and Daniel, Burkes Pinette argues that, in a short span of time, Wisdom became perceived as a distant and mysterious "Other" Matthew Goff argues in favour of the view that Sir 50:25-26 was part of the original composition. These verses are in keeping with Ben Sira's negative attitude towards the non-Judean peoples of Palestine and reflect an anti-Samaritan sentiment. Samuel L. Adams considers the perspectives on wealth and poverty in wisdom texts from the Second Temple period and shows that 4QInstruction affirms wealth as a sign of God's good graces, whereas the Epistle of Enoch does not. In the final essay of Part Two, Daniel J. Harrington examines how Wis 1-6 express hope for transcending death by combining Greek notions of immortality with Jewish apocalyptic eschatology. He also notes that although the NT's views on life after death are thoroughly Christological, some texts nevertheless sound very similar to Wis 1-6.

Part Three on Apocalypticism opens with an essay by Lorenzo DiTommaso in which he explores the epistemology of apocalyptic Otherness, describes its expression and reflects on its contemporary relevance. He dismisses the worldview of apocalypticism as dehumanising and harmful. Sean Freyne examines the interrelatedness of sapiential and apocalyptic motifs and themes in 1 Corinthians, Mark's Gospel and 4QInstruction. Although many people adopt a negative attitude towards apocalypticism, Freyne argues that it is so intricately related to wisdom in these Jewish and Christian writings that it would be historically distorting and hermeneutically short-sighted to attempt to remove the apocalyptic elements in them for the sake of modern sensibilities. George W. E. Nickelsburg surveys passages from 1 Enoch, the Dead Sea scrolls and the Psalms of Solomon and indicates how these texts construe reality in terms of the contrast between the "We" and the "Other." Using contemporary disabilities studies and monster theory, Rebecca Raphael analyses the body imagery in 4 Ezra as an example of how this writing constructs the Other. Part Three of the volume concludes with Daniel C. Harlow's, close reading of the Apocalypse of Abraham, which shows how this writing deals with the prominence of evil in the world, especially in the shape of idolatry.

The Dead Sea scrolls are the theme of Part Four of the Festschrift. Shane Berg builds on Collins's views regarding the history of the Qumran community and the role of the Teacher of Righteousness therein by focusing on religious epistemology. Berg claims that the Teacher was responsible for a shift in the community's religious epistemology from wisdom to a prophetic type of thinking. As a result, inspired exegesis of biblical texts gained in importance as a vehicle for knowledge about and from God. This shift was accompanied by a separatist self-consciousness and communal organisation. James VanderKam revisits the question of who the Wicked Priest (הכוהן הרשע) mentioned in the Habakkuk pesher and Psalms pesher might be. VanderKam argues that the Hasmonean high priest Jonathan qualifies as the most likely candidate. Angelic praise in the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice forms the topic of Eric D. Raymond's contribution. He analyses the blessing that comes at the end of the sixth Sabbath song (4Q403 1 i 28) and concludes that the paradoxical nature of the phrase might have been intended to reflect the strangeness and otherness of words spoken by angels. The essay of Esther Chazon (with Yonatan Miller) demonstrates how an allusion to the unique phrase אם הדרך in Ezekiel 21:26 serves to bolster anti-Samaritan polemic in 4QNarrative and Poetic Compositiona-c(4Q371-373).

In the first essay of the fifth and final section of the volume, Martin Goodman examines the shifting connotations of the (variety of) names used in Roman, Jewish and Christian sources to refer to the Jews during the first two centuries C.E.. The topic of Erich S. Gruen's contribution to the Festschrift is the reciprocal ways in which Greeks understood Jews as philosophers and Jews saw Greek philosophers as dependent on Jewish lore. According to Gruen, this reflects the complex and ambivalent relationship between Jews and (especially, Greek) Gentiles during the Hellenistic period. At the same time, this situation casts a shadow on the idea that Jews regarded Greeks as the "Other." Robert Doran focuses on the account in 2 Maccabees of Antiochus IV Epiphanus' unusual religious persecution of Jews in Jerusalem during the second century B.C.E.. Doran argues that Antiochus did not want to abolish the Jewish religion, but followed in his father's footsteps by not allowing a rebellious city to maintain its own ancestral laws and by imposing new, Greek laws on the city. What Antiochus did not know was that the ancestral laws of Jerusalem which he abolished (circumcision, Sabbath observance and kosher dietary regulations) were considered to be the laws of the one God. Antiochus could therefore not foresee the dire consequences of his actions. The final two essays deal with Jewish writings from Ptolemaic Egypt. Taking issues concerning the identifi-cation of a text as "Jewish" as point of departure, Patricia Ahearne-Kroll looks at Artapanus' claim that Moses was responsible for certain Egyptian cultic practices. Ahearne-Kroll proposes that Artapanus' work must be read in light of the influential polytheistic traditions that Jews encountered in Egypt and, on this basis, argues in favour of the position that Artapanus was Jewish. Robert A. Kugler analyses the legal reasoning in two Heracleopolis politeuma papyri. According to Kugler, the Judeans of Heracleopolis utilised the hybrid Greco-Egyptian law of the Ptolemaic kingdom, but also drew on legal traditions from the Judean ancestry in order to achieve their litigation goals. Kugler's discussion of the papyri points out that these Judeans in Hellenistic Egypt might very well have been conscious of their "otherness" in relation to their non-Jewish neighbours.

On the whole, this is an impressive volume that covers a wide-ranging spectrum of issues relevant to Jewish identity and the construal of the "Other" in the Second Temple period. The contributions will no doubt be of interest to scholars and students working on the history of this period, the multitude of sources pertaining to Second Temple Judaism, identity formation in antiquity and the great variety of views on and of Jews in both Palestine and the Diaspora.

One small point of criticism might, however, be mentioned. Mindful of the fact that this volume is a Festschrift that honours John J. Collins, one would, nevertheless, have expected that at least some of the contributors would engage critically with Collins's publications and perspectives on a given matter. A few of the essays refer to or acknowledge the author's indebtedness to Collins's work, but the honouree's views are nowhere subjected to genuine critical assessment. This is, in my opinion, a drawback of a volume that brings tribute to an esteemed scholar, since, in scholarship, candid criticism can be a more sincere form of flattery than imitation.

Dr. Gideon R. Kotzé
Department of Ancient Studies, University of Stellenbosch
Private Bag X1, Matieland, 7602
Email: grk@sun.ac.za.

 

 

Thomas Harrison, ed. Imperien der Antike. Mainz: Philipp von Zabern, 2010. 288 pages. Cloth. Price 40 ISBN 978-3-8053-4089-2.

Dieser großformatige (21 x 27 cm) Bildband bietet einen hervorragenden Überblick über antike Imperien, die teilweise auch im Alten Testament erwähnt werden und massiv die Geschichte Israels mitbestimmt haben. In der knappen Einführung (,,Ein neuer Blick auf Alte Reiche," 6-17, mit mehreren Zeittafeln) beobachtet Harrison zurecht: ,,Diese Reiche eint nicht nur die geschichtliche Epoche, während derer sie (in etwa) entstanden und wieder untergingen. Die Beziehungen zwischen ihnen, so geografisch und chronologisch verstreut sie auch waren, sind ein äußerst komplexes Geflecht aus Konkurrenz, Nachfolge und Assimilation" (6). Ferner beschreibt er die Aktualität der Geschichte der alten Reiche und ihre vielfältige heutige Rezeption u.a. in mehr oder weniger erfolgreichen Filmen der vergangenen Jahre. Dabei warnt er zurecht: Wenn wir aber nach den Gründen suchen wollen, warum die alten Reiche im öffentlichen Bewusstsein eine so große Rolle spielen, sollten wir nicht auf Hollywood oder die Museen schauen (beide hängen sich eher an einen Trend an, als dass sie einen erschaffen), sondern stattdessen auf die Machtkämpfe zwischen modernen Staaten" (6f). Dieses Interesse schildert er wie folgt:

Einerseits mussten die ehemaligen Großmächte der Neuzeit - das Vereinigte Königreich, Frankreich, Deutschland, Russland und andere - ganz unterschiedliche Wege finden, sich mit ihrer imperialen Vergangenheit auseinanderzusetzen, und sich bemühen (und das auf ganz unterschiedliche Art und Weise), ihre früheren Vorstellungen vom Schicksal der eigenen Nation an die sich verändernde Umwelt anzupassen. Gleichzeitig hat die Forschung hier Fortschritte erzielt: Insbesondere die postkoloniale" Tendenz der Moderne hat zu der Einsicht geführt, dass imperiale Strukturen ebenso sehr in den Köpfen der Menschen bestehen wie in äußeren Kontrollmechanismen. Das Ende eines Reiches wird nicht mehr einfach am Abzug aus einer entfernten Kolonie festgemacht; eher sieht man es heute so, dass Reiche den Blick der Menschen auf ihre Position in der Welt prägen, und zwar auch dann noch, wenn die Fahne des Kolonisten schon lange nicht mehr weht. Die Aufmerksamkeit der Forschung richtet sich heute mehr darauf, wie imperiale Strukturen vom Einzelnen wahrgenommen werden und wie sie sich auf das Alltagsleben auswirken - sowohl auf das der einfachen Leute als auch auf das der Imperialisten" (13).

Einzelne Kapitel behandeln Ägypten - das Neue Reich 1539-1069 v. Chr." (B. Manley, 18-43); Das hethitische Reich 1650-1200 v. Chr." (T. Bryce, 44-69); Die Reiche von Assyrien und Babylonien 900-539 v. Chr." (M. van de Mieroop, 70-97; im Rahmen der Diskussion der die moderne Wahrnehmung antiker Reiche bestimmenden Faktoren schreibt Harrison: Unser Bild des babylonischen Königs Nebukadnezar geht auf die Darstellungen des babylonischen Exils der Juden im AT zurück," 14) und Das erste persische Reich 550-330 v. Chr." (L. Lloyd-Jones, 98-121). Neben Entstehung, Entwicklung und Bedeutung der einzelnen Reiche geht es jeweils auch um deren Nachgeschichte und Vermächtnis.

Weitere Kapitel behandeln den attischen Seebund, die Reiche Alexanders des Großen und seiner Nachfolger, die Reiche der Parther und Sassaniden (zu den Parthern vgl. auch U. Ellerbrock, S, Winkelmann, Die Parther: Die vergessene Großmacht; Mainz: Philipp von Zabern, 2012), das römische Kaiserreich, die frühen Reiche in Südasien und die frühen Qin und Han Reiche in China. Der Band endet mit Angaben zu weiterführender Literatur.

Dieser großzügig illustrierte Bildband beinhaltet neben Darstellung von internationalen Spezialisten und Illustrationen auch teils längere Zitate aus antiken Quellen und Features zu herausragenden Einzelgestalten oder Einzelaspekten. Der Band zeigt eindrücklich die engen Verbindungen zwischen Antike und Gegenwart und wie die Geschichte zum Verstehen der Gegenwart anleiten kann, aber auch, warum immer wieder neue Perspektiven auf die Vergangenheit nötig sind, damit sie in die Gegenwart sprechen kann. Der Band ist eine gute verständliche, solide Einführung in antike Imperien im Umfeld des Alten Testaments. Die englische Originalausgabe (Great Empires of the Ancient World) war 2009 bei Thames & Hudson in London erschienen.

Christoph Stenschke
Biblisch-Theologische Akademie Wiedenest and Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies
University of South Africa
P O Box 392, Pretoria, 0003. Republic of South Africa
E-mail: stenschke@wiedenest.de.

 

 

Kenneth A. Kitchen and Paul J. N. Lawrence. Treaty, Law and Covenant in the Ancient Near East. 3 Volumes. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2012. lxxiv + 1641 pages. Hardcover. Price: Euro 298.00 ISBN 978-3-447-06726-3.

This 5,6 kg "baby" was carried by Egyptologist Prof. em. Dr. Kenneth A. Kitchen since the 1950s. He was inspired by the work of G. E. Mendenhall who suggested that 14th/13th century Hittite treaties showed affinities with biblical texts in structure and other features. This led Kitchen to the idea to investigate "the entire field of Near Eastern documentation as known (including the limited Hebrew material)" to find out whether this might "prove a more fruitful area of productive research, yielding useful results" (vol. 1, XX). Thanks to a two-years grant in 2003-2005, Kitchen could recruit Near-Eastern linguist Dr. Paul J. N. Lawrence for this project.

Volume I is the main body of this publication. It contains the whole relevant material of treaties, laws and covenants of the Ancient Near East as far as available (106 items through c. 2500 years). The texts are arranged by their suggested dating, starting in the 3rd millennium B.C.E. down to the mid-late 1st millennium. Each text is introduced by a bibliography wherein the sources, the editions and translations and some secondary literature are documented. The transliteration of the texts is on the left side, the English translation on the right. Lawrence edited the entire Akkadian corpus, Kitchen all the non-Semitic texts plus also Eblaite and Ugaritic. Both of them edited parts of the rest of the West-Semitic material. Two excursuses contain additional material. The most important feature of this edition is that the texts are tagged by Roman numerals which identify 15 structural components like "Title/Preamble," "Prologue," "Stipulations," "Witnesses," "Blessings," "Curses" and so on.

Volume II with the subtitle "Text, Notes and Chromograms" is tripartite. Part 1 contains notes to the individual texts regarding transliteration and translation. Part 2 contains an index of topics appearing in the texts, and several other indexes and lists, for example a statistical list with the prices, fines and tributes to be paid, an index of deities as witnesses and in blessings and curses, and more. Part 3 contains the so called "chromograms," that is colour-diagrams which draw on the Roman numerals in volume 1 and thus illustrate the structures of the texts.

Volume III offers an "overall historical survey," following the chronological arrangement of volume 1 with regard to the different regions in each epoch. Kitchen describes it as "a metahistory through both time and space, in its broader context, as a basic contribution to the long, richly varied story of Near Eastern and East Mediterranean civilizations" (vol. 1, XX). Of course, this metahistory is focused on the relevant background of treaties, laws and covenants.

Biblical scholars, who certainly are the main audience of OTE, will find that within the chronological arrangement of volume 1 the biblical texts are not placed where the majority of scholars date them, but in the time when the story takes place. Thus, Gen 21:22-24; 21:25-33; 26:26-31; 31:44-54 are placed in the early 2nd millennium B.C.E.. Texts of Exodus-Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Josh 24, 1 Sam 18:3-4 and 2 Sam 7:1-17 are placed in the late 2nd millennium. Yet, it is striking that the chromograms of this biblical texts correspond much closer to the chromograms of the other texts of these epochs than to those which date in the time suggested by the majority of biblical scholars. Since the publication of an article by R. Frankena (The Vasall-Treaties of Esarhaddon and the Dating of Deuteronomy," OTS 14 [1965], 122-154), for example, Deuteronomy is held by most scholars as depending on Esarhaddon's Succession Treaty (7th century B.C.E.). However, as can be seen in the chromograms, the structure and the elements of Deuteronomy are similar to the Treaties and Laws from the late 2nd millennium (cf. vol. II, 262-63) but barely similar to the treaties and laws in the first half of the 1st millennium (vol. II, 265). This corresponds to recent suggestions, as, for example, Ch. Koch concludes, "dass die ältere vergleichende Forschung mit ihrer These einer hethitischen Ableitung der Bundestheologie wenigstens partiell im Recht war, insofern die aramäischen Vertragstexte ganz augenscheinlich in einer traditionsgeschichtlichen Verbindungslinie zu den Vasallenverträgen der hethitischen Grossreichszeit stehen" (Vertrag, Treueid und Bund, BZAW 383, Berlin 2008, 316-17). The edition of Kitchen and Lawrence brings back the question of structure and form into the comparative studies of biblical and non-biblical legal material.

Yet, for biblical scholars this edition is not only an invaluable treasure for the structural and form-critical work with biblical and non-biblical material but also for comparative studies of legislation. The index of topics in Volume II helps the exegete to search for certain topics in the whole corpus of legal and treaty literature of the Ancient Near East. Nevertheless, even though this work is very helpful for the work of the biblical scholar, it is not designed for biblical studies especially, as Kitchen writes: "The emphasis was shifted away from centering on simply the biblical documents, and instead onto the entire Ancient Near Eastern corpus as a variegated whole in its own right" (vol. I, XX-XXI). Thus, these three volumes are welcome to everyone who is interested in the Ancient Near Eastern Treaty, Law and Covenant literature.

Due to the high price one will barely acquire this monumental work for the home library, but no institutional library for Ancient Near Eastern or biblical studies should lack it. Its editors deserve high respect and many thanks for giving this useful instrument in our hands.

Benjamin Kilchör
Evangelische Theologische Faculteit Leuven (Belgium)
Staatsunabhängige Theologische Hochschule Basel (Switzerland) and Department of Ancient Languages at the University of Pretoria (South Africa)
Strandbadstrasse 1, CH-8620 Wetzikon (Switzerland)
Email: benjamin.kilchoer@sthbasel.ch.

 

 

Jack R. Lundbom. Jeremiah Among the Prophets. Cambridge: James Clarke, 2013. Paperback. xi + 153 pages. Price £17.50 US$ 35.00 ISBN 978-0-22717407-4.

The book has as its nucleus a series of lectures which the author gave at seminaries and theological schools in Myanmar. Ten essays were also given as lectures at the Adult Sunday School Class of the First Presbyterian Church, Evanston, Ill. The preface clearly spells out the aim with this book. It is written for those who may never look into a Jeremiah commentary. As a result it contains no footnotes, no technical discussions, and few citations of the Hebrew.

The contents of the book consist of a preface, a list of abbreviations, twenty chapters dealing with the book of Jeremiah, a bibliography and a Scripture index. A look at the Scripture index reveals that the author was not able to deal with every chapter in the book of Jeremiah in the same detail. For instance, no reference is made to Jeremiah's visit to the potter's house (Jer 18:1-17). In an endeavour in which an attempt is made to present the contents of the fifty-two chapters of the book of Jeremiah in 140 pages one should however expect that a selection of the material was necessary. That does, nonetheless, not imply that a reader of "Jeremiah among the Prophets" would not get a representative discussion of the material contained in the book of Jeremiah.

The first chapter deals with the prophet's call and commission. Although the author concentrates on Jer 1:4-12, 13-19, he also reflects on Jer 15:16-17, a passage in which one seemingly learns about the prophet's acceptance of his call. Where necessary, the author follows the same modus operandi. For example, in the chapter on Jer 7:1-15, 26:1-24 is also discussed. This modus operandi will definitely help the reader to gain a better understanding of the book of Jeremiah which is well-known for its doublets.

The citation of relevant texts in English ensures that the focus remains on the text. Additional information is, nonetheless, lavishly given. Even though "Jeremiah among the prophets" is not meant to be a commentary, but an "introduction," it provides more information than some commentaries on the book of Jeremiah.

In the final chapter the author gives a brief discussion of the composition of the book of Jeremiah. The colophons in Jer 36:1-8; 45 and 51:59-64 prompts him to propose three editions of the book of Jeremiah. Chapter 52 concludes a fourth and final edition.

"Jeremiah among the prophets" is a welcome addition to the literature on the book of Jeremiah. The author's hope that it will generate further interest in Jeremiah, the Hebrew prophets and the OT as a whole, will in all likelihood be achieved.

Marius D. Terblanche
Department of Old Testament, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein.
Email: mdterblanche@absamail.co.za.

 

 

John J. Pilch, Flights of the Soul - Visions, Heavenly Journeys, and Peak Experiences in the Biblical World. Grand Rapids, Mich. / Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2011. Paperback. Xii + 238 pages. Price US$24.00 ISBN 978-0-8028-6540-3.

John J. Pilch is well-known in the circles of social-scientific NT studies. As visiting professor of biblical literature at Georgetown University, at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum in Hong Kong and director of research for Cuyamungue: The Felicitas D. Goodman Anthropological Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico, he currently also lectures in the Odyssey Program at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md. He has a host of publications (often with Bruce Malina) on the Middle Eastern cultural world of the Bible (especially NT). This book is more of the same and represents a collection of 15 previously published essays of his, some of which have appeared in journals such as BTB.

The point of departure for Pilch is the fact that the Bible is filled with reports of people having dreams (e.g. Joseph), visions (e.g. Isaiah and other prophets), or taking trips to the sky (John in Rev 4:1-2). According to the texts these were religious experiences in which the agents either encountered God, a divine message or embarked on a celestial journey (Paul in 2 Cor 12:1-2). Pilch sets out to make a plea to the modern scientifically minded believer to consider the possibility that all such experiences involve what he calls ASC's or "Alternate States of Conciousness."

Reading the Bible in a quasi-fundamentalist manner, Pilch offers a perspective on religious experiences in the Bible that, instead of domesticating the text to the modern world, intend to place the text in an alien cultural context where it cannot be touched by modern secularism. Pilch has a problem with biblical scholars who reduce textual reports of revelation to "literary forms" and who are doubtful that an event had occurred in the way the texts describe. In fact, it is personal, and so, as is typical of this genre in conservative social-scientific biblical criticism, the book's argument begins with a moving testimony in which Pilch offers an autobiographical account of what he takes to be an ASC - after his wife died Pilch's mother in law appeared to him in a dream saying she had to go to New York for surgery and asking him for prayers, comfort, and consolation.

Pilch insists that research on over 400 representative cultures in the world reveals that more than ninety percent of these cultures have reported such experiences routinely. Drawing on insights from anthropology, cognitive neuroscience, psychology (the non psycho-analytic version), and the social sciences, Pilch then investigates and interprets a selection of OT and NT accounts of dreams, visions, journeys into the heavens, etcetera, within what he believes to be their cultural contexts.

Following an introduction, Part 1 is concerned with "ASC's in the Old Testament." First up is a closer look at "the Nose and Altered States of Consciousness: Tascodrugites and Ezekiel." There is also a discussion of "the Call of Ezekiel (Ezek. 1-3) as an Altered State of Consciousness (ASC) Experience" and of "Holy Men and Their Sky Journeys" in the context of a "Cross-Cultural Model." Moving on we find an excursion to the Apocrypha where Pilch focuses on "The Holy Man, Enoch, and His Sky Journeys" and on "Music in Second (Slavonic) Enoch." Part 1 ends with "Flute Players, Death, and Music in the Afterlife (Matt. 9:18-19, 23-26)."

In Part 2 the concern lies with ASCs in the NT. Here the stories of Jesus and Paul are central. Commencing with "Altered States of Consciousness Events in the Synoptics," the arguments roll over to "The Transfiguration of Jesus," as "An Experience of Alternate Reality," "Appearances of the Risen Jesus in Cultural Context" as "Experiences of Alternate Reality," and "The Ascension of Jesus: A Social-Scientific Perspective." Then there is "Paul's Ecstatic Trance Experience near Damascus in Acts of the Apostles," "Paul's Call to Be a Holy Man (Apostle): In His Own Words and in Other Words," and "Paul's Call to Be an Apostle." This section concludes with "Visions in Revelation and Alternate Consciousness: A Perspective from Cultural Anthropology," followed by an Index of Authors and an Index of Scripture and Other Ancient Literature.

I am sorry to say that Pilch's treatment of these topics is logically and ideologically suspect from the start.

Pilch's autobiographical analogy is rather weak since the Bible does not really think of ASC's as involving human family members appearing to each other. Yet Pilch's would like to think that it was the biblical God he happens to believe in (of which most cultures in the world never heard of in the biblical period) who also created us and made us capable of such experiences. Pilch's god has therefore arranged for his very weakened mother-in-law to tell him it was time for us to resume contact. If this god talks to us through dreams and visions, then perhaps our deceased relatives and ancestors can communicate with us this way, too. Whatever one makes of the theistic beliefs, the reasoning here is clearly flawed. As are the appeals to the dreams of composers and musicians to prove modern ASC's in the religious sense - the Bible does not see revelation in dreams as precursor to and catalyst for creative artistic activity.

In order to put forward his case, Pilch's interpretations of biblical passages are creative rather than literary-historically sound. Astonishingly, he simply assumes that the data he is working were meant to be live historical reports. But there is an obvious reason why literary critics deny this. The biblical reports of dreams and visions follow stereotypical genre patterns which form and rhetorical critical analysis can show to be literary constructs as they have to conform to certain structures of composition. If the textual accounts of so-called ASC's were meant to be a copy of actual empirical scenarios they seem quite theatrical and contrived.

Not deterred by the findings of critical biblical scholarship, Pilch latches on to the alterity of biblical religious experiences to claim that text-immanent ontologies do not do justice to it. For Pilch we must, however, be open to the experiences. "If we deny this possibility, we may[sic] be limiting what God can do for us" Yet Pilch never explains why a god should be limited thusly. There is only a constant and fallacious appeal to the majority: "Factual or not," he says, "biblical accounts of alternate consciousness are both plausible and significant because they constitute a very common, real, human experience in their respective cultures."

What Pilch does not realise is that drawing on parallels does nothing to help the apologetic agenda of the book. Data from comparative religion do not warrant a general conclusion. Though people from other cultures may have had similar experiences, the intentional content of those experiences varied greatly in terms of the details across time and space so that there arises what philosophers of religion would call the problem associated with religious pluralism or religious diversity. After all, Pilch's argument can be used to claim that in an ASC an actual god called Zeus did reveal himself to Agamemnon within a dream and Shamash did appear to Gilgamesh, and that none of all these are just literary constructs as modern sceptical scholars seem to suggest.

Not that Pilch himself takes the text seriously in a naive realist fashion. In philosophical terms one can say that for Pilch divine revelation as reported in the biblical texts is not an ontic event but a noetic one, every time linked to some altered state of consciousness and not actually happening outside the mind in front of the person. However, reducing theology to psychology does not exactly inspire confidence in the hermeneutic of the kind of reader Pilch and his social-scientific critics happen to be. Rather than explaining religious experiences in the Bible, by reducing them to alternate states of consciousness Pilch is actually explaining them away.

In the end the book will leave many unanswered questions for all sorts of readers. As for the research itself and all the anthropological data notwithstanding, it is psychologically, philosophically and biblical-exegetically highly suspect. The academic rhetoric hides a conservative agenda behind scientific claims with no direct bearing on the biblical texts they are supposedly linked to. Hence I cannot recommend this book with a good conscience to anyone except as an example of how social-scientific criticism has turned into a platform for protecting the cognitive biases of conservative Christian readers. As the identity of the publishing company (Eerdmans) implies, this book is written for and will appeal to more fringe type evangelical audience. Psycho-analysts can have a field day.

Jaco Gericke
North-West University (Vaal Campus)
Faculty of Humanities, P.O. Box 1174, Vanderbijlpark, 1900
Email: 21609268@nwu.ac.za

 

 

NUWE BOEKE VIR RESENSIE IN OLD TESTAMENT ESSAYS / NEW BOOKS FOR REVIEW IN OLD TESTAMENT ESSAYS

Daniel I. Block. Obadiah: The Kingship belongs to YHWH. Hearing the Message of Scripture: A Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2013. Hardcover. 128 pages. Price US$19.99 ISBN 978-0-310-94240-5.

Walter Brueggemann. Reality, Grief, Hope: Three Urgent Prophetic Tasks. Grand Rapids, Mich. / Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2014. Paperback. xiv +165 pages. Price US$15.00 / £10.99 ISBN978-0-8028-7072-8.

Craig E. Morrison. 2 Samuel. Berit Olam Studies in Hebrew Narrative and Poetry. Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2013. Hardcover with dust jacket. xii + 331 pages. Price US$ 39.95. ISBN 978-0-8146-5043-1. eBook: Price US$34.99. ISBN 978-0-8146-8291-3.

Kevin J. Youngblood. Jonah: God's Scandalous Mercy. Hearing the Message of Scripture: A Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2013. Hardcover. 186 pages. Price US$29.99 ISBN 978-0-310-28299-0.

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