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Old Testament Essays

On-line version ISSN 2312-3621
Print version ISSN 1010-9919

Old testam. essays vol.27 n.3 Pretoria  2014

 

Book reviews / Boek resensies

 

 

David W. Baker, Isaiah: Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2013. Softcover edition. xiii + 227 pages. US$19.99. ISBN 978-0-310-49209-2. (Previously published in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel).

David W. Baker's commentary on Isaiah features extensive background material on the period in which the book of the prophet Isaiah was written and on neighbouring religions, cultures, writings, and artifacts. His work could well serve as a valued companion to a world religions class. It is not an exegetical commentary.

For instance, regarding scholarly theological debates surrounding Isaiah, Baker acknowledges "numerous competing views as to the number of authors and the times of composition"; he then firmly states that "this discussion is beyond the scope of the present study" but adds that "the historical scope of the prophecy covers a period of over two centuries" (p. 4). His commentary summarises "the sweep of history between the eighth and fifth centuries B.C.E." (p. 4). These statements set the tone for the volume. Those looking for an exegetical commentary complete with word studies, theological insights, themes, and textual issues need go elsewhere.

The volume, part of the Zonderdavan Illustrated Bible Grounds Commentary series, is edited by John H. Walton. Walton, in his Acknowledgments, gives credit to those providing photographs and especially to the work of his wife Kim for "tracking down pictures with her consummate research skills" (p. iii-iv).

In my opinion, the book needs a more comprehensive introduction by Walton as general editor. The thrust of the series, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Grounds Commentary, was explained only on the back cover of Isaiah. The series, which engages the OT's historical and cultural contexts, seeks to bring "readers back to the ancient world in a way unlike other commentaries," the back cover states. The back cover warns that "without knowledge of the ancient context," it is possible to "easily impose our own culture on the text," thereby "potentially distorting it."

The book's illustrations give the dominant impression on the volume. The colourful art work and its variety certainly distinguish the book from other Isaiah commentaries. The page weight is of excellent quality, and the print is readable and clear. Zondervan has spent much time on layout and choice of pictures. Each double page includes green borders of over an inch wide on the far left and far right margins. These borders serve for providing space for captions and bleeding space for artwork like pictures, manuscripts, and maps, and reliefs. Only pp. 7, 22, 24, 56, 81,117, 121, 133, 162, 184 lack a coloured picture, chart, map, or box as an illustration.

While the commentary's visual impact is quite striking, at times I found its "busyness" quite distracting and had to remind myself to read the text. Typically a page set contains at least two pictures and often a map or coloured box as well. The heavy use of illustrations shows Zondervan's desire to acquaint a reader with the culture of the ancient world of Isaiah. I would say that on the whole, Zondervan and Baker succeed in this.

After studying and reading the book, I've decided that the preponderance of visual materials helps me to take off my Western dark glasses and see life in the ane more realistically. I read the Bible with a visual image running through my mind; I do the same with novels. Consequently, Zondervan's visual approach guides my imagination.

I also found that Zondervan's illustrations back up my lectures. For instance, I have told my students that prisoners, and perhaps the Israelite exiles trudging to Babylon, were stripped and walked without sandals on the hot sand. This practice probably served a couple of purposes: humiliation, an inability to hide a weapon, and easy identification if they escaped. An illustration on p. 90 records a hostage situation. An ivory from Megiddo depicts two bound male prisoners, barefoot and naked except for headgear, being taken with great pomp to a dignitary (p. 90).

The Isaiah commentary has no chapters or sections, but readers who know Isaiah easily can look up information they seek by going to Isaiah's chapters. The book has no index, something that would have been helpful because of the wealth of historical and cultural information given.

Baker lists only 16 books in the Bibliography, five of them by Othmar Keel. However, Chapter Notes number 1466; the Sidebar and Chart Notes number an additional 305.

Baker frequently gives only a sentence or two about a biblical topic or selected verse and then several paragraphs about how that material related to it comes up in the literature, artifacts, or history of the ancient Near East. The box on p. 76 about Mourning Rites is typical. Baker writes that "weeping is a common response to loss, not only in the Bible but elsewhere as well" (p. 76). The box mentions other practices in the region like putting dirt on the head and mutilation of the body with a stone or razor; Gilgamesh, on the death of his friend Enkidu, vowed to neglect his appearance for a year (p. 76). Baker ends the box with this insight regarding Egypt: "Laments were less common, since a thriving life, and a good transition to an even better afterlife" were more significant to the Egyptians (p. 76).

The boxes also drew my attention because they concentrate on specific topics. Throughout the Bible, the Lord is associated with heights including Zion and Sinai, according to a box entitled The Lord Dwells on High (p. 114). Baker records that the Canaanite god Baal lived on Mount Zaphon (p. 114). Mountains, in addition, were associated with the "home of unsavory demons and wild beasts" and considered places of banishment (p. 114). A Mesopotamian ziggurat was "built either to symbolize mountains in an otherwise flat terrain, or more likely to provide a closer approach to heaven," Baker observes (p. 114).

Isaiah 12 is a marvelous poetic hymn and typical of much of Hebrew poetry. It's a favourite passage of mine, and I looked immediately for Baker's interpretation. I was disappointed, because he merely comments that when God's anger ends, praise is given to God, as in Ps 40; similarly, praise is given after punishment (Ps 51) (p. 65). He spends much more copy space on parallels in Mesopotamian history and culture about punishment, war, and singing. For instance, Mesha says that Chemosh, the Moabite god, was angry with the land of Moab during the time that Omri was king of Israel; Tiglath-pileser I and Shalmaneser III both acknowledge the various kinds of help given by the god Ashur; and Sumerian proverbs are known to show the value of singing well (p. 65). This section on Isa 12 is a bit disjointed because of what seems to be an attempt to find Mesopotamian parallels with some of the themes in Isa 12.

Baker's commentary can supply facts for journal articles and background for academic lectures. For instance, in a two-page box, Baker discusses in detail the creator gods of the ancient world (p. 140-141). Baker points out that "Isaiah highlights the person of the Creator and the purpose of the creation of his people rather than the means by which creation comes about or any stuff from which it is made" (p. 141).

Baker also contrasts the God of the Bible who creates from without rather than from within creation with other gods in the region. The cultic center for Khnum was at Elephantine. A hymn to Khnum from the Roman period proclaims that the "God of the potter's wheel" has fashioned gods and men from clay (p. 140). Concerning Memphite Theology, Baker writes that Ptah "gave life to all the (gods) . . . through this heart and this tongue" (p. 140). The sexual aspect of creation is apparent in literature about the sun god Ra. Ra proclaims this: "I copulated with my own fist, I masturbated with my own hand, I ejaculated into my own mouth. I exhaled Shu the wind, I spat Tefnut the rain" (p. 140).

The God of Israel is not understood as a sexual being and does not have a consort, Baker writes (p. 188). Yet the God of Israel, while most often described as Father, is at times described using feminine metaphors like mother (Isa 66:13) (p. 188).

Isaiah 58 speaks of the Israelite practice of fasting from food and God's enlargement of the practice to cover social concerns. True fasting includes losing the chains of injustice and untying the cords of the yoke to let the oppressed go free and sharing your food with the hungry (vv. 6-7). Baker says that fasting from food was much rarer in texts in the Near East than it was in the OT (p. 178). The Old Kingdom prophecies of Nefertiti link fasting with death (pp. 178-179). Fasting, because it weakens the body is sinful, according to Zoroastrianism (p. 179). One of the major differences between Israel and her neighbours regarding their religious views was idols. In the Mesopotamian world, idols required food; in contrast, the God of Israel, Yahweh, provides for Israel and will satisfy the needs of his covenant people (Isa 58:11) (p. 179). Insights like these on fasting - and they prevail throughout the book - can certainly aid in sermon preparation and give a listening congregation needed insights for understanding.

Baker is a fine writer and noted scholar. Yet I, as a traditional scholar, missed in this commentary some strong personal opinions and observations. These permit reader/author engagement. I think it would have been helpful for Baker to conclude in his own words some overall observations about his study. Perhaps his concluding essay could have been a comparison/contrast on something broad like the worldview portrayed in Isaiah and the worldview portrayed in the literature and other materials he so well accumulated from the ancient world. It would have been a nice touch at the end of the commentary and saved the commentary from leaving a final impression of being a list of cultural and historical facts illustrated by ancient art. His commentary, although a most useful addition to scholarship, lacks a detailed analysis of his findings and his own analysis of their significance. Although a summary and analysis is partially fulfilled in the commentary's boxes, a more detailed conclusion focusing on Isaiah's specific contributions would have guided the reader's thinking in a way to help assimilate the wealth of material so skillfully provided.

Robin Gallaher Branch
Extraordinary Associate Professor
Faculty of Theology
North-West University
Potchefstroom
South Africa E-mail branchrb@gmail.com

 

 

Hanan Eshel. The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Hasmonean State. Grand Rapids, Mich., Cambridge: Eerdmans / Jerusalem: Yad Ben-Zvi, 2008. Paperback. xii + 208 pages. US$28.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-6285-3.

The author, Hanan Eshel, who died on 8 April 2010, was professor in the Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology at the Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel. Eshel was a world-renowned expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls, the settlement at Qumran, the Bar Kokhba Revolt, numismatics and historical geography. He excavated the refuge caves on Ketef Jericho with Boaz Zissu and the refuge caves in the Ein Gedi area with Roi Porat. He oversaw a survey of the caves along the fault cliff between Ein Gedi and Qumran with Amos Frumkin and headed research expeditions to Qumran with Magen Broshi. As an archaeologist, Eshel combined archaeology and text, and in turn conducted textual research on various kinds of texts: the Bible, Dead Sea Scrolls and the texts of the Judean Desert, Second Temple literature, the Mishnah and the Talmud. The present book, which is an update of an earlier work written in Hebrew (2004), is an effort to integrate the disciplines of archaeology, history, and Qumran studies, demonstrating how the Dead Sea Scrolls can contribute to our understanding of the Hasmonean period (p. viii).

Josephus's writings remain the only source of the history of the Hasmonean state, but lacks consistency. Historians of the Second Temple period relied mainly on Greek texts as sources. When the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered, Aramaic and Hebrew sources were added to these. These historians were however not trained to work with Semitic sources. The present study does not pretend to portray a new historical picture of the Hasmonean period, but only to highlight certain details brought forth in the writings of Josephus that may be verified by the Dead Sea scrolls (p. 11) by showing that the Dead Sea scrolls do not provide only a religious setting for the Second Temple period, but that a political setting can also be deducted.

In ch. 1 (The Roots of the Hasmonean Revolt: The reign of Antiochus IV) Eshel presents three texts from Qumran that sheds light on the roots of the Hasmonean revolt, as well as the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Before the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered the only texts referring to these events were the following: 1 Macc 1; 2 Macc 3-7; Dan 7-12; Josephus, J.W. 1.31-35; Josephus, Ant. 12.237-64. Accordingly, any new historical source that might enhance our understanding of these events is of particular significance (p. 13). The first of these texts is a fragment of a scroll, labelled 4Q248, which was discovered in Cave 4. This fragment was apparently a remnant of an apocalyptic work which offers a precise description of the historical events in the early sixties of the second century B.C.E. (170-168 B.C.E.) (p. 14). This fragment is believed, by Broshi and Esther Eshel, to be "a remnant of a composition similar to ch. 11 in the biblical Book of Daniel" (p. 15). This fragment indicates that Antiochus IV came to Jerusalem in the period between his two Egyptian campaigns. Moreover, the sale of land in Egypt is a new detail, which helps to understand an obscure verse in the Book of Daniel and indicates that Antiochus sold land in Judea as well (p. 18). Eshel further notes that it is possible to date the composition of the fragment shortly before the Book of Daniel was completed in its final form. The second text presented is the first lines of the War Scroll which is interpreted as a Midrash on the unfulfilled prophecy found in Dan 11:41-45. Dimant, citing Flusser, suggests that these lines refer to the two military campaigns of Antiochus IV to Egypt. Dimant, however, questions Flusser's disregard of the similarity between the account at the beginning of the War Scroll and the historical events, that is, the failure to identify the king of the Kittim with Antiochus IV (p. 21). Therefore, despite the War Scroll's similarity to the events of 170-168 B.C.E. in Dan 11, the sectarian author seems not to have described Antiochus IV, but rather another evil king who would attack Israel in the future. None of the Qumran scrolls has produced a description of the Hasmonean Revolt, whether of Mattathias' exploits or of Judah Maccabee's battles. The Qumranites had no sympathy for the Hasmonean rulers, who had usurped the high priesthood as early as in the days of Mattathias' son Jonathan. Perhaps this is why they ignored Mattathias and Judah Maccabee. The third text was that of 4Q390, which reflected the disapproval of the priest's function throughout the Second Temple period. This text states that on the eve of the Hasmonean revolt the priests forgot the law, the festivals, the Sabbath, and the covenant, and violated everything. This text was not sectarian in nature and was apparently attributed to Jeremiah. Daniel 9:24-27, in turn, thus functions as an interpretation of Jeremiah's prophecy that the exile would last seventy years (Jer 25:8-14; 29:4-14).

Chapter 2 concerns the identities of the Teacher of Righteousness, the Man of Lies, and Jonathan the Hasmonean. The Damascus Document as well as some other pesharim refer to a figure known as the Teacher of Righteousness. If it was possible to determine during which period the political leader, known as the Wicked Priest, was active it would be possible to determine when the Teacher of Righteousness and the Man of Lies lived. In this chapter Eshel argues that the Wicked Priest was none other than Jonathan the Hasmonean, son of Mattathias; hence all three figures - the Teacher of Righteousness, the Wicked Priest, and the Man of Lies - were active in the middle of the second century B.C.E. (p. 29-31). The designation mwrh hzdk (Teacher of Righteousness) may imply that the "teacher" was a descendant of the "House of Zadok," Zadok being the priest who served in the First Temple during the reign of King Solomon. The Zadokite dynasty lasted until the crisis that led to the Hasmonean revolt. A central event in the life of the Teacher of Righteousness was his confrontation with the religious leader referred to as the Man of Lies, or sometimes as the Preacher of Mockery (p. 34). The Man of Lies headed a group that refused to obey the Teacher of Righteousness. Most scholars agree with Flusser' s suggestion that the Man of Lies was the leader of the Seekers of Smooth Things, namely, the Pharisees (p. 35). The Teacher of Righteousness's life was however not endangered by the Man of Lies, who was a religious leader, but rather by the Wicked Priest, who was a political leader. Moreover the Teacher of Righteousness was also persecuted by two other groups, referred to as Ephraim (Pharisees) and Manasseh (Sadducees). According to the Damascus Document the clash in Judea between the Pharisees, Sadducees and the sectarians (Essenes) erupted all at once. Some scholars identify the Wicked Priest with Jonathan the Hasmonean, while others prefer the figure of Alexander Jannaeus. The Pesher on Habakkuk (column 8-9) as well as 4QpPsa (column 4) indicates that the Wicked Priest did not die a natural death, but was handed over to his enemies, who tortured him and put him to death. These descriptions are consistent with the execution of Jonathan by Tryphon in 143 B.C.E. (1 Macc 12:39-13:25), but not with the death of Alexander Jannaeus, who died a natural death during his campaign against the city of Ragaba in Transjordan (J.W. 1.106; Ant. 13.398-404) (p. 46). Further arguments are also made by Eshel that support the view that the Wicked Priest was indeed Jonathan the Hasmonean. Eshel then shifts his attention to the identity of the Teacher of Righteousness. In the middle of the second century B.C.E., three High Priests from Hellenising circles officiated. The first was Jason, whose term lasted from 175 to 172 B.C.E.. He was followed by Menelaus (172-163 B.C.E.), and then Alcimus, who served in the temple from 163 to 159 B.C.E.. Josephus, Ant. 20.237, relates that after the death of Alcimus, there was no High Priest for seven years. However, since the Day of Atonement could not be celebrated in the temple without a High Priest, someone must have officiated during the years 159-152 B.C.E. (p. 54). After the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered it was, however, suggested that the Teacher of Righteousness may have been the anonymous High Priest who officiated from 159 to 152 B.C.E.. It cannot be definitively stated whether he was the Teacher of Righteousness, another conservative priest, or a fourth High Priest from the Hellenising circles (p. 57).

Chapter 3 concerns a text which was found in Qumran Cave 4, known as 4QTestimonia (4QTest) or 4Q175 and which was published in 1956 by John Allegro. The text, written on a single sheet by the same scribe who copied the Rule of the Community from Cave 1, quotes three passages from the Torah and ends with an interpretation of Josh 6:26 (p. 63). The proposed interpretations of the historical background of the last passage of 4QTest may be classified according to whether they identified the "city" in question as Jerusalem or Jericho. Some believed that the author of the pesher interpreted Joshua's curse as aimed at the ruler who had built Jerusalem because the version of Josh 6:26 in the Septuagint is shorter than in the Masoretic version, and does not mention Jericho (p. 69). However, Cross understands the passage as describing the rebuilding of Jericho under Simeon and the murder of his two sons, Mattathias and Judah, in the fortress of Doq, above Jericho, in 134 B.C.E." (p. 70). In this regard Yadin also associated the pesher to Josh 6:26 to the city of Jericho. Eshel is inclined to agree with Yadin and Cross that the pesher is alluding to events that took place in Jericho. The events, however, were not the assassination of Simeon in 134 B.C.E. but the construction of the Hasmonean estate and winter palace at Jericho during the reign of John Hyrcanus, Simeon's son. In the years 1973-87, archaeological excavations directed by Ehud Netzer near Jericho uncovered this estate with several Hasmonean and Herodian palaces. The finds at the site of the early Hasmonean palace indicate that it was built by John Hyrcanus I and his successors further fortified it, adding a defensive moat" (p. 75). The archaeological findings at Jericho also point to the identification of the man of Belial in the pesher to Josh 6:26 with John Hyrcanus, who ruled Judea from 134 to 104 B.C.E. (p. 87).

Chapter 4 concerns Alexander Jannaeus and his war against Ptolemy Lathyrus. Josephus, Ant. XIII provides an explanation to the reasons that led Ptolemy to fight Jannaeus. This description is based on Hellenistic sources. While we only have Josephus' account for events that occurred in Syria between 103-101 B.C.E., there are several inscriptions and papyri discovered in Egypt relating to various details of Cleopatra III's campaign against her son Ptolemy Lathyrus during those years" (p. 96). In the Pesher on Isaiah A, (4Q161 = 4QpIsaa), a paragraph commentating on Isa 10:24-24 is preserved. The remnants of this pesher are rather fragmentary, though it seems that this pesher should be associated with the events of 103-102 B.C.E.. If we accept the connection of the Pesher on Isaiah to Ptolemy Lathyrus' campaign, it seems that the mention of Philistia refers to the first stage of Ptolemy Lathyrus' campaign, when Zoilus, the Ruler of Dor, and the people of Gaza approached him to request his help to fight Alexander Jannaeus' army and end its corrupt influence on the country (p. 98).

In ch. 5 Eshel discusses the Prayer for the Welfare of King Jonathan (4Q448) which is not sectarian in nature. He suggests that it should be assumed that the scroll was brought to Qumran by one of the people who joined the sect. This scroll documents a composition by a Hasmonean supporter, which stands in contrast to the pesharim which reflect opposition to the Hasmoneans (p. 101). The author of the Prayer for the Welfare of King Jonathan was apparently thanking the Lord for being on Alexander Jannaeus' side on the Day of War when Ptolemy Lathyrus failed to conquer Jerusalem. In other words, the author of the prayer was aware that prophecies related to Sannacherib's campaign were being interpreted as relating to the campaign of Ptolemy Lathyrus (p. 115). The reference to King Jonathan by name is additional evidence for a non-sectarian origin of the scroll, since Qumran authors do not normally mention the Hasmonean rulers by name (p. 114). It therefore follows that the Prayer for the Welfare of King Jonathan was composed in Sadducean circles that supported Alexander Jannaeus (p. 113).

Chapter 6 treats the Pharisees' Conflict with Alexander Jannaeus and Demetrius' invasion of Judaea. The pivotal battle between Alexander Jannaeus and Obodas 1, as well as Alexander's escape to Jerusalem after being beaten by a camel-mounted Nabatean army, are described by Josephus. There is no doubt that these accounts are written from a point of view hostile towards Alexander Jannaeus. For example, Jewish Antiquities emphasises the loyalty of the Hellenic mercenaries, but does not mention the performance of the Jewish soldiers who made up most of Alexander's army. Since this account is based on a Hellenistic source, there are scholars who have doubted that a Hasmonean king could have actually executed his Jewish opponents as described by Josephus (p. 120). In 1956, however, a fragment of a scroll from Cave 4, containing a commentary (a pesher) to Nahum was published, substantiating the historicity of these accounts (p. 121). The Pesher on Nahum is the only pesher among the 18 Continuous Pesharim found at Qumran that mentions personal names of historical figures." The Pesher on Hosea B (QpHosb = 4Q167) also describes how the "Lion of Wrath," which is identified with Alexander Jannaeus, punished the Pharisees. Eshel concludes that "the Pesher on Hosea was composed before the Pesher on Nahum, and that by the time the latter was composed, it had become well known that the epithet "the Lion of Wrath" referred to Alexander Jannaeus. The authors of both the Pesher on Nahum and the Pesher on Hosea criticised the actions of Alexander Jannaeus in 88 B.C.E. for the manner in which he punished his enemies, that is, an agonisingly slow death in public (p. 131). Since there is no doubt that the Pesher on Nahum was composed after the conquest of Pompey in 63 B.C.E., it seems that the events of 88 B.C.E. were so dramatic, that their impact was remembered and discussed 25 years after Alexander Jannaeus had executed the people who had invited Demetrius to Judaea.

In ch. 7 the successors of Alexander Jannaeus and the conquest of Judaea by Pompey are discussed. Some of the scrolls found at Qumran shed light on this period. The Pesher on Nahum (4QpNah) reflects the period of Alexandra's reign, during which the Pharisees returned to a position of power in Judaea (p. 133). A reference to the fall of the Sadducees, the supporters of Aristobulus, at the time of the Roman conquest of Judaea by Pompey, is further documented in a polemic composition (4Q471a) (p. 135). References to the rule of Alexandra and her sons are also found in three scrolls (4Q331-4Q333) which mention the priestly sources and some historical events. These scrolls are extremely fragmentary and it is impossible to ascertain their precise intent or purpose (p. 136). These scrolls are known as an Annalistic Calendar. The first fragment, namely 4Q331, mentions Yohanan, probably John Hyrcanus I. The second fragment, namely 4Q332, mentions Hyrcanus. The third fragment, namely 4Q333, refers to the period following the death of Alexandra. In this fragment Aemilius should be identified with the Roman general Aemilius Scaurus. Josephus also mentions the actions of Aemilius Scaurus in Judaea, in The Jewish War as well as the Jewish Antiquities. Subsequently Josephus describes how Hyrcanus and Aristobulus sent delegations to Pompey who was in Damascus (p. 140). Josephus summarises the events of 63 B.C.E. in which Pompey conquered Jerusalem. We have only few details concerning the actions of Aemilius Scaurus as the governor of Syria, primarily from a single account which Josephus repeats in both of his works. Josephus reports that Aemilius Scaurus waged war against the Nabateans in 62 B.C.E. and in 61 B.C.E. Aemilius Scaurus was replaced as governor of Syria by Marcus Philipus (pp. 140-141). Eshel believes that 4Q468e is related to the Annalistic Texts discusses above (4Q331-4Q333) in its content, referring mainly to executions, as well as by the period it describes, both of which can be linked to the turbulent years following the death of Alexander Jannaeus (p. 143). Eshel concludes that several scrolls found at Qumran include allusions to historical events which occurred during the reign of Salamzion Alexandra (76-67 B.C.E.), the civil war between Hyrcanus and Aristobulus (67-63 B.C.E.) and the first ten years of the Roman rule in Judaea (63-54 B.C.E.). It is truly unfortunate that the scrolls which include the Annalistic Text are so fragmentary that it is very difficult to draw any historical details from them, but it seems that the pesharim still preserve allusions to the famine that struck Judaea in 65 B.C.E. (pp. 149-150).

The assassination of Pompey is discussed in ch. 8. Eshel has presented a contextual view of 4Q386 as an allusion to the assassination of Pompey in 48 B.C.E. with a contemporised interpretation of Ezek 30:13, which also reflects a reading of verses in Jer 46:15-16 and Hos 9:6. Eshel interprets the verses in Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Hosea as a reference to the death of a man who conquered Judaea and desecrated the temple in Jerusalem. Eshel suggests that the interpretation of this passage should be related to the assassination of Pompey rather than to the two separate events which took place in Egypt during the second century B.C.E., primarily because these events had no effect on what transpired in Judaea during the same period. If this text refers to the assassination of Pompey, it can be concluded that the author of 4Q386 shared similar views on historical events with the psalmist who composed the Psalms of Solomon (p. 161).

The changing notion of the enemy and its impact on the Pesharim is treated in ch. 9. One consistent but ambiguous element of the biblical texts and the fragmentary scrolls is the allusion to the Kittim both as an agent and a victim of destruction. The word is always referred to in the plural as a people rather than a place, either generalised as the outsider-enemy or contextualised as a contemporary enemy (p. 163). Based on Num 24:24, Jews of the Second Temple period seem to have applied the name Kittim to every nation that came to the Land of Israel by ship. Balaam's prophecy in Num 24:14-24 was understood as eschatological - that the Kittim would rule over Asshur and Israel as well, but would eventually perish. Since this was understood as a description of the End of Days, the identification of the Kittim was of great significance to those who were waiting for the End of Days in the Second Temple period (pp. 163-164). During the second century B.C.E. there was a dispute over the identification of the Kittim in Judaea. In 1 Maccabees the Kittim is identified as the Macedonians, while they were identified as the Romans in the end of the Book of Daniel. In the Book of Jubilees the Kittim are identified as the people who lived in the area of Greece. The Kittim are mentioned in seven different Qumran compositions, six of which are sectarian and express the world views of scribes who were part of the Qumran sect. The seventh occurrence of the Kittim is found in 4Q247, which does not seem to be of sectarian origin (p. 165). In the remainder of this chapter Eshel tries to identify the identity of the Kittim by referring to references of the Kittim in the Qumran texts.

The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Hasmonean State is the first book dedicated solely to the question of how political history can be deducted from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Eschel did it by pulling together in a comprehensive way all the historical references and allusions in highly fragmented texts on events involving the Hasmonean rulers. This book demonstrates in a groundbreaking way the interrelationship of history and literature concerning the Dead Sea Scrolls and will dominate scholarship inter alia on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Qumran Studies and Second Temple history.

Jacobus A. Naudé
Department of Hebrew
University of the Free State
P.O. Box 339
Bloemfontein 9300
E-Mail: naudej@ufs.ac.za

 

 

Joseph A. Fitzmyer, A Guide to the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature. Revised and expanded edition. Grand Rapids, Mich., Cambridge, U.K.: Eerdmans, 2008. Paperback. xvii + 302. US$ 18.00 / £9.99. ISBN 978-0-80286241-9.

Joseph A Fitzmyer, professor emeritus at The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., is involved in Dead Sea Scroll scholarship since the first discoveries. He started to compile a card concordance of the Hebrew and Aramaic fragments from the Qumran caves including especially the material from Cave IV during 1957-1958. It was continued subsequently by Raymond E. Brown (1958-1959), W. G. Oxtoby (1959-1960) and later by J. Teixidor. The cards were photographed in the 1980s, and the printed photographs were bound in five volumes, which were published privately in Gottingen in 1988 by H. P. Richter as A Preliminary Concordance to the Hebrew and Aramaic Fragments from Qumran Caves II-X including especially the Unpublished Material from Cave IV. This is the concordance on which B. Z. Wacholder and M. G. Abegg based their computerised reconstructed text editions of the unpublished texts (1991, 1992, 1995, 1996).

Anyone who undertakes the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls soon realises the vastness of this modern area of studies related to the Bible. After 1991 over thirty volumes of the Discoveries in the Judean desert series have been published. The biggest difficulty that one has in using the volumes of this series is to find out in which volume a certain text is to be found. Hence, the need of a listing such as is being attempted by Fitzmyer. The bearing of these texts on the technical study of the Bible concerning the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts of the Bible, Palestinian Jewish history, archaeology of the Roman period, and the interpretation of both the OT and the NT is far from having been exploited.

Fitzmyer's book, encyclopaedic in scope and detail, provides data for access to the published Scrolls (for example, an indication where each text can be found in its editio princeps), various bibliographies of the Scrolls, early survey reports of the discoveries and of the archaeology involved, concordances, dictionaries and grammars that have been compiled, listings of secondary collections of Qumran texts, listings of translations available, Fitzmyer's own outlines of some of the major ancient documents, a bibliography covering topics of interest concerning the Scrolls, a section on the copper plaque mentioning buried treasure (3Q15), an exhaustive list of sigla and numbers used to designate the individual manuscripts, and finally a list of the electronic resources available for accessing the texts themselves. It is the successor to The Dead Sea Scrolls: Major Publications and Tools for Study (Sources for Biblical Study 8; Missoula, MT: Society of Biblical Literature and Scholars Press), which first was published in 1975, reissued in 1977 with an Addendum, and later expanded in a revised edition of 1990 (Resources for Biblical Study 20; Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press).

Since the vast majority of the fragmentary texts finally have been published in the decade since 1990, especially in the Clarendon Press series, Discoveries in the Judaean Desert (DJD), it was impossible to revise the book in the same format. Consequently, Fitzmyer decided to retain the purpose and general outline of the earlier publications, but to present the texts from the Qumran caves and other sites in a more orderly mode, using mainly the numbers that have been assigned to most of them as the principal guide. The texts from the 11 Qumran caves are listed now not only by caves in their proper order, but primarily by the numbers used in the DJD series for the texts of a given cave, and no longer by the sigla in more or less alphabetical order, as was done in the earlier editions of this book. An effort was also been made to list also those conventional sigla along with the numbers, when they exist (for example, 4Q3 as 4QGenc), and also to use numbers that have been assigned sometimes to texts that had been published outside of that series or before the DJD numbering system was devised (for example, 1QapGen is now 1Q20). If a text at one time bore a siglum different from that now in current usage, the short Latin word "olim" (formerly) recalls the earlier abbreviation.

The major contribution of the book is the complete listing of texts from Qumran, Nahal Hever, Nahal Se'elim, Wadi Murabba'at, Ketef Jericho, Wadi sdeir, Nahal Mishmar, Masada, Cairo Genizah, Wadi en-Nar, Wadi Ghweir, Wadi ed-Daliyeh, Kirbet Mird, Nahal 'Arugot and those of unknown provenience. It forms the first and major part of this book. An effort has been made to supply not only the volume number and plates for a given text, but also the page numbers and often a brief mention of the contents of the text.

Outlines of the following Qumran texts with selected bibliography are provided: the Rule of the Community (1QS), Damascus Document (CD and 4QD), Genesis Apocryphon (1QapGen [1Q20]), War Scroll (1QM), Temple Scroll (11QTemple [11Q19]), Thanksgiving Psalms (1QH, 4QH), Halakhic Letter (4QMMT). The information in the outline section (IX) needs to be read together with the information on that particular text in Section II, for example the Thanksgiving Psalms (pp. 16-18 and pp. 213-216) concerning the order of columns which is corrected by Stegemann and Schuller.

The section on important bibliography covers twelve selected topics of Dead Sea scrolls study namely archaeology, palaeography, the OT at Qumran and Murabba'at, OT interpretation in Qumran literature, Qumran theology, Qumran messianism, the Qumran calendar, Qumran wisdom literature, Qumran halakhah or legal issues, history of the Qumran community, the NT in Qumran Cave 7, the Qumran scrolls and the NT. It is a pity that the literature on the linguistic contribution of Qumran Hebrew and Aramaic is not covered.

This reference work, which contains information on the best modern scholarship about the Dead Sea Scrolls, gives access to these documents for scholars and students and is an ideal starting point for doing serious research on these documents and their significance for early Judaism and early Christianity.

Jacobus A. Naudé
Senior professor
Department of Hebrew
University of the Free State
P.O. Box 339
Bloemfontein 9300
E-mail: naudej@ufs.ac.za

 

 

Christian Gudehus, Michaela Christ, eds. Gewalt: Ein interdisziplinares Handbuch. Stuttgart, Weimar: J. B. Metzler, 2013. Cloth. viii + 420 pages. 70 . ISBN 978-3-476-02411-4.

Sowohl biblische Texte, die von Gewalt berichten bzw. diese theologisch begründen als auch die Lektüre und wissenschaftliche Beschäftigung mit der Bibel und ihrer vielfältigen Wirkungsgeschichte in Kontexten von Gewaltbereitschaft und Gewaltanwendung haben im vergangenen Jahrzehnt zurecht viel Aufmerksamkeit erhalten. Bei vielen guten Einsichten fehlt jedoch oft die interdisziplinäre Verortung und Diskussion mit anderen Disziplinen, die sich mit ihrem unterschiedlichen Frageinteresse und ihrem methodischen Instrumentarium dem komplexen Phänomen widmen. Der vorliegende Sammelband in der Serie der Metzler Handbücher bietet einen hervorragenden sowie anspruchsvollen Überblick über die divergierende gegenwärtige Gewalt-Forschung, über wichtige neue Einsichten, aber auch über die Grenzen der bisherigen Forschung und die Grenzen ihrer Anwendbarkeit für die Bibel- und Religionswissenschaft.

In ihrer Einführung Gewalt - Begriffe und Forschungsprogramme" (1-15) beschreiben die Herausgeber verschiedene Definitionen und Forschungskonzepte, die Erklärungsmomente für gewalttätiges Handeln (vornehmlich Macht und Ressourcen), die Veränderung der sozialen Position durch Ausübung bzw. Erleiden von Gewalt, die Gewalt regulierenden Faktoren, die Bedeutung von Praxen, Performanz und Prozess (verfestigte Tätigkeitsmuster . . . Herstellung und Aneignung der Welt über Handlung . . . sich in ständiger Bewegung befindliche soziale Relationen," 9) als bestimmende Konzepte der sozialwissenschaftlichen Gewaltforschung, die Intentionalitat von Gewalthandlungen, gesellschaftliche Dynamiken und abschließend Grenzbereiche der Gewaltforschung (Suizid, gewaltfreier Widerstand, Naturgewalten, Notwehr/Selbstverteidigung).

Der erste Teil beschreibt die Rahmungen von Gewalt." Dazu gehören Erziehung" (Rainer Dollase, 17-24), Klimawandel" (Maike Böcker, 25-32), Krieg" (Harald Welzer, 32-40), Nationalismus" (Ute Planert, 41-49), Polizei" (Carsten Dams, 50-57) und Rassismus/Antisemitismus" (Werner Bergmann, 58-66).

Zu den von Hans G. Kippenberg (Religion," 66-75) behandelten Themen gehören gemeinschaftliche religiöse Gewalt in gesellschaftlichen Konflikten, die Drehbücher heilsgeschichtlichen Handelns - u.a. In den normativen Texten von Judentum, Christentum und Islam befinden sich heilsgeschichtliche Deutungsmuster, die mit Gewalt rechnen: als erlittene ebenso wie als ausgeübte Gewalt," 68, die schiitische Rahmung der sozialen Revolution in Iran 1978/79, Antifundamentalismus, von der rechtlichen zur heilsgeschichtlichen Definition des Nahostkonflikts sowie Strukturen zeitgenössischer religiöser Gewalt. Die nun schon seit Jahren geführte Debatte uber einen möglichen Zusammenhang zwischen Monotheismus und Gewalt wird nicht angemessen dargestellt (vgl. R. Schieder, ed., Die Gewalt des einen Gottes: Die Monotheismus-Debatte zwischen Jan Assmann, Micha Brumlik, Rolf Schieder, Peter Sloterdijk und anderen; Berlin: Berlin University Press, 2014). Auch kommt die gegen Angehörige anderer Religionen verübte Gewalt - Verfolgung aus religiösen Gründen - entschieden zu kurz, was angesichts der Entwicklungen etwa in Syrien aber auch Nigeria kaum verständlich ist. Diese Thematik hätte einen eigenen Beitrag verdient (vgl. S. 152-157).

Weitere Themen sind Gewalt an Tieren" (Julia Gutjahr, Marcel Sebastian, 75-83), Sexualitat" (Gaby Zipfel, 83-90) und Sozialer Nahraum" (Manuela Brandstetter, 91-98).

Zu den im zweiten Teil beschriebenen Praktiken der Gewalt" gehören: Amok" (Britta Bannenberg, 99-104), Attentat" (Sven Felix Kellerhoff, 105110), Beleidigung" (Steffen K. Herrmann, 110-115), Bombardierung" (Dietmar Süß , 116-121); Folter" (Reinhold Gerling, 122-128), Hinrichtung" (Jürgen Martschukat, 128-133), Mobbing" (Mechthild Schäfer, 134-140), Mord" (Sebastian Scheerer, 141-146), Ohrfeige" (Winfried Speitkamp, 147-152), Pogrom" (Stefan Wiese, 152-157), Schlägerei" (Michael Sturm, 158-163), Vergewaltigung" (Regina Mühlhäuser, 164-170) und Verschwindenlassen" (Estela Schindel, Rosario Figari Layiis, 170-175).

Unter Merkmale, Prävention und Folgen" von Gewalt geht es um Akteure: Täter, Opfer, Zuschauer" (Alf Lüdtke, 177-183), Gewaltgemeinschaften" (Winfried Speitkamp, 184-190), Codierung" (Michaela Christ, 190-196), Emotionen" (Christian von Scheve, Sonja Fiicker, 197-202), Körper" (Katharina Inhetveen, 203-208), Geschlecht" (Michael Meuser, 209-214), Raum" (Marc Büggeln, 215-220), Grausamkeit" (Trutz von Trotha, 221-226), Schmerz" (Silvan Niedermeier, 227-231), Gewaltprävention - individuell" (Rebecca Bondii, 232-237), Gewaltprävention - kollektiv" (Witold Mucha, 238-243), Gewaltfolgen -individuell" (Günter H. Seidler, 243-250), Gewaltfolgen - kollektiv" (Anika Oettler, 250-256) und Helfen" (Christian Gudehus, 256-261).

Ein weiterer Teil analysiert unterschiedliche Repräsentationen der Gewalt: Literatur" (Andrea Geier, 263-268; Gewalt in der Literatur -literarische Gewalt, Gewalt als Handlung und Strukturphänomen in literarischen Texten, Gewalt als Ereignis: Erzählmodelle und Deutungsmuster im historischen Wandel, Erfahrungsdimension von Gewalt und deren Darstellbarkeit), Comic" (Janis Nalbadidacis, 269-276), Massenmedien" (Hannah Früh, 276-281), Film" (Lothar Mikos, 282-288), Digitale Spiele" (Andre Melzer, 289-294), Internet" (Petra Grimm, 294-300) und Repräsentationsformeln kollektiver Gewalt" (Jose Emilio Burucúa, Nicolás Kwiatkowski, 301-306). Zu den in Teil fünf vorgestellten disziplinären Zugängen gehören: Anthropologie/Ethnologie" (Erwin Orywal, 307-314), Erziehungswissenschaft" (Mirja Silkenbeumer, 315-323), Geschichtswissenschaft" (Elissa Mailänder, 323-331), Hirnforschung" (Daniel Strüber, 332-339), Literaturwissenschaft" (Hania Siebenpfeiffer, 340347; Gewalt (in) der Literatur - ein Thema der Literaturwissenschaft, Konzepte von Gewalt in der Literaturwissenschaft, Anfänge literarischer Gewalt, literaturhistorische Dimensionen literarischer Gewalt, literaturtheoretische Konzepte literarischer Gewalt, Ethik versus Ästhetik literarischer Gewalt), Philosophie" (Alfred Hirsch, 347-354), Psychologie" (Christian Gudehus, Roland Weierstall, 354-362), Kriminologie" (Johannes Stehr, 363-371), Soziologie" (Michaela Christ, 371-378), Soziobiologie" (Eckart Voland, 379-386) und Sportwissenschaften" (Silvester Stahl, 386-394).

Der Anhang bietet, Auswahlbibliographie (S. 395), ein Verzeichnis der Institutionen, Zeitschriften und Ressourcen zum Thema Gewalt (S. 396-402) sowie verschiedene Register.

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

 

 

Eva Jain. Psalmen oder Psalter?Materielle Rekonstruktion und inhaltliche Untersuchung der Psalmenhandschriften aus der Wüste Juda. Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 109. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2014. 351 Seiten + CD. Leinen. 114 / US $ 148. ISBN 978-90-04-25415-1 (hardback) / 978-9004-26817-3 (e-book).

Die vorzustellenden Göttinger Dissertation widmet sich (aufs Neue) den Handschriften aus den Höhlen am Toten Meer, die biblische Psalmen enthalten. Nach einer Beschreibung des Forschungsgegenstands wird die bisherige Forschung mit den einschlägigen Studien u.a. von Wilson, Flint, Kleer, Dahmen und Leuenberger rekapituliert (die Beiträge von Gasser und Brütsch werden als nicht gleichwertig beurteilt und nur knapp diskutiert).

Der Hauptteil besteht aus der minutiösen Beschreibung und Rekonstruktion (nach H. Stegemann) sämtlicher Pss-Fragmente (Qumran [Höhlen 1-6.8.11], Nahal Hever, Massada). Dazu wurden, wo möglich, die Originale eingesehen (mehrfach waren diese leider nicht auffindbar). Die Beschreibung umfasst die materiale (Grösse, Zustand, Schrifttypus, Datierung, Klassifizierungen) wie die inhaltliche Seite (Textangaben und Vergleich mit MT). Die Rekonstruktion beinhaltet Überlegungen zum Textumfang anhand diverser Parameter (Rolle, Kolumen, Zeilen, Abwicklung, Erhaltungszustand, Platzierung der Fragmente etc.). Dies geschieht zurückhaltend hinsichtlich An-nahmen, die durch den Befund nicht hinreichend gedeckt sind. Als Zwischen-ergebnis" halt Vfn. fest, dass ausser 4Q89 (Ps 119) sich keines (!) der Pss-Mss umfassend rekonstruieren lässt - auch nicht den Rollenbeginn von 11Q5 (11QPsa). Dieser ernüchternde Befund widerläuft allen bisherigen (zu) optimis-tischen Rekonstruktionen. Eine Mehrzahl der Mss lässt zumindest partielle Rekonstruktionen zu, manchen dagegen ist aufgrund ihres fragmentarischen Zustands kaum etwas zu entnehmen. Ein Vergleich mit dem MT ist entsprechend nicht möglich, obwohl einige Mss grosse Teile desselben bzw. ihn ganz umfasst haben könnten. Auch Qualifizierungen der Mss als biblisch" oder nicht-biblisch" erweisen sich als problematisch. Kurzum: Eine Gesamt-hypothese . . . zu den Psalterhandschriften aus der Wüste Juda wird dem erhal-tenen Material nicht gerecht, da sie über dessen fragmentarischen und in jeder Hinsicht disparaten Charakter hinweggeht" (S. 219).

Dieser Sachverhalt verlangt eine Neubeurteilung im Blick auf das Verhältnis zwischen den Pss-Mss und dem MT. Die Diskussion eröffnet die Vfn. mit inhaltlichen Analysen und redaktionsgeschichtlichen Überlegungen zu 11Q5, 4Q83 und 4Q88. Zunächst werden Grundzüge der Redaktionsgeschichte des MT in Referierung der Modelle von Wilson, Levin, Koch, Millard, Kratz, Dahmen, Rösel, Hossfeld/Zenger und Leuenberger skizziert. Die Schlussredaktion wird unter Verweis auf die bekannten Eckdaten (u.a. LXX, Sir, Zitate in Makk, 4QMMT) auf Mitte des 2. Jh.s v. Chr. angesetzt, ergo dürfte der (Proto-) MT während der Qumranperiode bekannt und autoritativ gewesen sein. Die inhaltliche Analyse von 11Q5 setzt mit einem Forschungs-überblick ein, der als Konsens eine gegenüber MTverstärkte Davidisierung der Komposition ergibt. Angesichts des nicht rekonstruierbaren Rollenanfangs (Fragmente A-E) sind die bisherigen Studien, die unisono einen erkennbaren Anfang voraussetzen, freilich nicht mehr tragfähig. Vfn. erkennt im erhaltenen Bestand von 11Q5 folgende Abschnitte (inhaltliche Ausrichtungen in Klammern): 1. Ps X => 118 . . . 146 => 148 (Aufruf zum Lobpreis aufgrund von Gottes Heilshandeln in Schöpfung und Geschichte) / 2. (120 rekonstruiert) => 121 ... 118* (Catena) => 145 + 5-6 Zeilen unbekannter Text (Verschiebung der Kultpraxis: Wallfahrt zielt nicht auf den Zion, sondern auf ein toragerechtes Leben) / 3. Ps 154 => Plea for Deliverance . . . Apostrophe to Zion => 93 (Lobpreis und Torafrömmigkeit als Funktion der Weisheit und als adäquater Opferersatz) / 4. 141 => 133 . . . 149 => 150 (Lobpreis JHWHS des gerechten Beters) als Weg aus der Feindbedrängnis zum Sieg über die Feinde) / 5. Hymn to the Creator 1-9 => David's last Words (2. Sam 23,1-7) . . . 151A => 151B. Die ersten vier Abschnitte schliessen je mit einem Psalm, der das Königtum JHWHS herausstellt. Der fünfte, in dem David eine herausragende Rolle einnimmt, unterscheidet sich von den vorangegangenen und fügt sich zum Gedankengut des qumranischen Jachad. Mit diesem (über MT/LXX hinausgehenden) Schlussabschnitt liegt ein hermeneutischer Schlüssel zu 11Q5 vor. Diese Schrift konfigurierte sich vermutlich aus dem (Proto-) MT, verstärkt das Davidbild und verschiebt es gegenüber MT zugleich in Richtung des Weisen, Propheten und Schriftgelehrten. Zurückhaltung erfährt dabei das Königtum Davids. Dies wiederum korrespondiert mit der Verstärkung von JHWHS Königtum in den vorangegangenen Abschnitten. Die Kultpraxis wird auf eine spiritualisierte Form hin verschoben mit den zentralen Punkten Toraobservanz und Lobpreis JHWHS. 11Q5 setzt die autoritative Anerkennung des (Proto-) MT voraus und rückt als Produkt des Jachad zeitlich und inhaltlich in die Nähe Ben Siras. 11Q5 hat aller Wahrscheinlichkeit nach nicht mit Ps 101 begonnen" und könnte von der materiellen Basis her sogar alle Psalmen des masoretischen Psalters beinhaltet haben" (S. 282). Darauf deutet nach der Vfn. die inhaltliche Analyse freilich nicht hin. Sie rechnet, analog zur David-Betonung im Schlussabschnitt, mit einem Anfangsteil, der sich ebenfalls mit David auseinandersetzt. Dieser hat die bisher nicht integrierten Pss 101; 103; 109, allenfalls Ps 108-110 insgesamt sowie möglicherweise weitere David-Pss (aus den Teilbüchern I-III) beinhaltet. Der Abschluss wird (wie bei den nach-folgenden Abschnitten) durch einen JHWH-Königs-Psalm markiert worden sein (Kandidaten werden vorgeschlagen). Vorangestellt könnte eine Einleitung gewesen sein (mit u.a. Ps 77-78, gemäss Frg. 1 von 11Q6). Analog zum Fünf-buch des MT hatte 11Q5 funf Abschnitte: Gegebenenfalls eine Einleitung (u.a. mit Ps 77-78 und allenfalls wie MT einer Gegenüberstellung von Gerechtem und Frevler), 1. ein davidisch geprägter Abschnitt (mit u.a. Ps 101; 103; 109); 2. Ps (X-)118-148; 3. Ps 120-145; 4. Ps 154-93; 5. Ps 141-150, endend mit einer Zusammenfassung" (Hymn to the Creator-Ps 151B).- Die Rollen aus Höhle 4 werden knapper behandelt: 4Q83 (Mitte 2. Jh. v. Chr. und damit ältestes Pss-Ms) mit Texten aus den Psalterbüchern I-III (Umstellungen und Varianten gegenüber MT) wird als ein vom (Proto-) MT abhängiges Werk (und nicht als Vorform desselben) eingestuft. 4Q88 kann (wie 4Q83) nicht den ge-samten Psalter enthalten haben. Die Rolle ist qumranischen Ursprungs und umfasst über Ps 22 hinaus Pss aus dem Anfangsbereich von Buch IV und apo-kryphe Stücke (Manifest der Hoffnung in Zeiten der Bedrängnis"?). Keine der drei Mss lässt sich als Vorform des (Proto-) MT bzw. als Konkurrenzfassung desselben bestimmen.

Vfn. bilanziert: Eine Gesamthypothese zu den Psalmenhandschriften aus der Wüste Juda ist angesichts der vorliegenden Ergebnisse nicht mehr angebracht." (S. 300) Die Pss gehören zu dem am meisten rezipierten Schriften, allerdings kann nicht mehr von rund vierzig Psalterhandschriften ausgegangen werden. Angesichts vieler Kleinfragmente bleibt ungewiss, ob Rollenreste vorliegen oder lediglich ein Psalm(vers) zitiert wird. 11Q5 ist weder eine Psalterhandschrift noch ein liturgisches Exemplar, sondern ein durch den Kontext des Jachad bedingtes Komplement zum protomasoreti-schen Psalter." Im Anhang sind die Pss-Mss in diversen Aufbereitungen gelistet, dazu kommt eine Übersicht über verschiedene Strukturvorschläge zu 11Q5 (Skehan, Wilson, Wacholder, Flint, Dahmen, Leuenberger, Jain, Kratz) sowie eine Liste bisher unpublizierter, kleiner und kleinster Fragmente aus 4Q. Der Monographie beigegeben ist eine CD mit Fotos (pdfs) denjenigen Orginal-handschriften bzw. Teilen davon, die fur den Nachvollzug der Rekonstruktionen der Vfn. wesentlich sind. Aus rechtlichen Gründen sind nicht Abbildungen sämtlicher Mss enthalten (11Q5 nur Anfangsbereich, 11Q6 fehlt).

Die Monographie gefällt durch klare, unprätentiöse Sprache und gute Argumentation. Sichtung und Rekonstruktion des Materials geschehen sorgfältig und begründet - soweit der Rezensent dies einzuschätzen vermag (die materialen Aspekte zu beurteilen, bleibt Spezialisten vorbehalten). Ihr Befund ist ein Dämpfer und ein notwendiger (Zwischen-)Schritt nach den (zu) optimistischen Einschätzungen. Sie haben sich wohl zu stark auf Argumentationen e silentio gestützt. Selbst 11Q5 ist unberechenbarer" als an-genommen. Anfang (Ps 101, Beginn Teilbuch IV oder noch wo anders) und Gestalten werden weiter zu diskutieren sein. Ich meine bei Jain ein gewisses Zögern bei der Einschätzung wahrnehmen zu können: Ihre Wortwahl reicht von der Möglichkeit der bisherigen Annahme des Beginns mit Ps 101 bis dahin, dass ein solcher Rollenanfang explizit ausgeschlossen wird (vgl. die Ausführungen auf den Seiten 176.185f.216.300). Ihr inhaltlicher Entwurf zu 11Q5 ist zu begrüssen. Freilich wird dabei - fast unumgänglich - die zuvor geübte Zurückhaltung durch Rekonstruktionen," die e silentio-Argumente ein-schliessen, aufgegeben. Jain ist sich dessen bewusst, äussert sich entsprechend vorsichtig und sieht ihren Beitrag als Anstoss zur Diskussion. Während die Jachad-Verankerung im Schlussteil und die Nähe zu Ben Sira (sie gilt freilich auch für die Schlussredaktion[en] des MT-Psalters, vgl. Reitemeyer) überzeugt, habe ich Skepsis hinsichtlich des vorgeschlagenen Beginns und der Doppelheit von JHWH-König-Betonung in den Innenteilen und David-Akzenten im Rahmen. Sind die Pss 148 und 150, die Abschnitte beschliessen, hinreichend mit. JHWHS Königtum in Verbindung zu bringen? Warum fehlen mit Ausnahme von Ps 93 ausgerechnet die JHWH-Königs-Psalmen aus Buch IV? (auch Argu-mentationsabwägungen aufgrund von Nicht-Vorhandenem!). Welche Rolle spielt neben David Mose, der die Struktur von Teilbuch IV im MT mitprägt und mit dem JHWH-Königs-Lob verbunden ist (vgl. Ex 15,18) Nicht adäquat erscheint die Qualifizierung des besonders akzentuierten Schlussteils als Zusammenfassung." Die Vermutung, dass (aufgrund von 11Q6) die Pss 77-78 aus Teilbuch III als Einleitung dienen, hat m.E. wenig für sich. Der David-Schluss in Ps 78 mag sich dazu fügen, aber insgesamt passen" die beiden Asaph-Psalmen (Ps 77 ist nicht als individueller Klagepsalm einzustufen) kaum (vgl. auch 1. Chr 16, wo keine expliziten Asaph-Psalmen rezipiert werden). Verbleibt 11Q5 in den Konturen der späteren/hinteren Teilbücher IV-V oder greift Ms (partiell) auf die vorderen Teilbücher zurück?- Wie auch immer: Der Vfn. ist fur die gründliche Studie zu danken. Meine Fragen deuten an, dass eine anregende Diskussion zu erwarten ist. Sie wird auch vor der Redak-tionsgeschichte des Psalters nicht halt machen (mit ihr hat sich Vfn. ebenfalls auseinandergesetzt, wenngleich - verständlicherweise - sie sich nicht im selben Mass wie zu den Qumran-Mss einarbeiten konnte). Setzt 4Q83 den Proto-MT voraus, wird man für Teilbuch I-III, wenn nicht für die Endredaktion des Psalters eine frühere Datierung in Erwägung ziehen müssen (3. Jh. v. Chr.?). Auch Aufteilung und Abfolge von messianischem" (I-III) theokratischem Psalter" (IV-V) erfordern neue Überlegungen und Justierungen (darauf hat Barbiero jüngst in mehreren Beiträgen hingewiesen). Der Studie verdient gute Aufnahme und profunde Diskussion.

Fehler (soweit wahrgenommen): S. 107 (Mask. Pl.), 123 (136 gehen Ps 120-132 und Ps 119 voran.), 171 (Ps 93 und = streichen?), 181 (Kompositionen des dritten Psalmenbuches [?]), 257 (Konsens bezüglich ), 271 (Titel: Ps 154-93), 276 (3. Ps 154-93), 277 (Ps 154-93), 280 (masoretischen Psalter), 283 (sich jedoch), 284 (4. Ps 164-93), 293 (sic!), 297 (definitive Ausssagen), 321 (Flint 1997a: Seitenzahlen fehlen), 333 (Autor: Ruppert L., . . . Zur Literar-, Form-, und Traditionskritik von Psalm 148 . . . SBAB 18), 334 (Kratz 2004c: . . . nach Psalm 145), 339 (Rooy 1993/94: . . . RdQ 16).

Beat Weber
Lecturer in Old Testament at Theologisches Seminar Bienenberg (Liestal), Switzerland
Research Associate of the Department of Ancient Languages, University of Pretoria, South Africa
E-mail: weber-lehnherr@sunrise.ch

 

 

Jack R. Lundbom. Deuteronomy: A Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich., Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2013. 1064 pages. Paperback. US$ 80.00. ISBN 978-08028-2614-5.

After his three-volume commentary (1999-2004) on Jeremiah in the Anchor Yale Bible Commentary Series, Jack R. Lundbom presents us now a commentary on Deuteronomy. In the preface of the commentary he claims that his commentary is especially indebted to the earlier studies of S. R. Driver, Moshe Weinfeld and Jeffrey Tigay.

At least since de Wette, the exegesis of Deuteronomy is closely linked with the Josianic reform (2 Kgs 22-23 and 2 Chr 34-35, whereby the Chronicler's account is given the precedence by Lundbom). According to Lundbom, the "book of the law" mentioned in 2 Kgs 22:8.11 is not the Deuteronomic law (or a pre-stage of it) but rather the song of Moses (Deut 32). Lundbom advocates a not too complicated composition of Deuteronomy. In his proposal the first edition of Deuteronomy, delimited by the inclusio of 1:1-5 and 28:69, comprises chs. 1-28. This first edition corresponds to the "book of the covenant" mentioned in 2 Kgs 23:2.21. It was extended by a first supplement (chs. 29-30) and by a second supplement (chs. 31-34). After the song of Moses was found in 622 B.C.E. in the temple by Hilkiah, this second supplement was added to Deuteronomy (with Deut 32 as core of the second supplement): "This final expansion in our present book of Deuteronomy could have been completed in the latter years of Josiah, at the same time the First Edition of the Deuteronomistic History was written" (p. 16). Thus, the first edition of Deuteronomy is older than the Josianic reform and was written "perhaps in Hezekiah's reign" (p. 25). Compared to the trend in recent scholarship to date the final redaction of Deuteronomy in exilic or postexilic time, Lundbom obviously advocates quite an early dating.

Another aspect of the introduction worth mentioning is that Lundbom discusses the relationship between Deuteronomy and the (Latter) Prophets (pp. 28-43), between Deuteronomy and Wisdom (pp. 44-58) and between Deuteronomy and the NT (pp. 93-97). Especially on the relationship between Deuteronomy and the Prophets he has much to say and this section clearly benefits from his expertise in the field of the Prophets. Even though he states that "in each case influence one way or another is unclear" (p. 29), his formulations often show that he thinks Deuteronomy to be influenced by Amos ("there is reason enough to support the view that Deuteronomy was written in response to the preaching of this prophet," p. 30) and Hosea ("Hosea preaches that there is no God but Yahweh, which becomes defining theology in Deuteronomy," p. 34) while Jeremiah seems to be influenced by Deuteronomy ("Jeremiah's earliest preaching betrays indebtedness to the Song of Moses," p. 38).

While the discussion of the relationship between Deuteronomy and different parts of the canon is clearly a strong point in this introduction, what is missing is the relationship between Deuteronomy and the other books of the Pentateuch. Deuteronomy is not at all integrated in the narrative context neither of the Pentateuch nor of the Former Prophets.

The commentary itself is segmented into small text units, starting with a fresh translation of the text, followed by observations on the rhetoric and composition of the text, presenting many rhetorical structures and observations on delimitation. Then, the text is commented verse by verse and finally, Lundbom concludes each text unit with a paragraph on the message and audience, mostly with special focus on what the message of this text could have been for a 8th/7th century audience.

In this excellent commentary, Lundbom draws broadly on the tradition of both Jewish and Christian interpreters through the ages and shows that respectable biblical exegesis doesn't begin only with the enlightenment. Furthermore, he uses a lot of ancient Near Eastern, Greek and Roman comparative material. Thus, the reader of this commentary finds a great richness of philological, geographical, historical and theological material that contributes much to the understanding of the text. Moreover, Lundbom gives always helpful information and considerations on text criticism. This is already present in the introduction where Text and Versions, Qumran Scrolls and Deuteronomy Papyri are discussed. This commentary indeed is a continuation of Driver, Weinfeld and Tigay in the best sense.

On the other hand, what I am missing is the broader picture and the synchronic reading of the text. What exactly is the meaning of Deuteronomy in the context of the Pentateuch? What is the function of Deuteronomy as a kind of exposition of the Torah? What is Moses doing in preaching/teaching the law to the second generation of the Exodus? Why does Deuteronomy end with the death of Moses? The paragraphs on the "message and audience" where I would expect these considerations are often rather superficial, not much more than paraphrasing summaries of the biblical text itself. This lack is reflected in the otherwise impressive bibliography (pp. 98-154). Several leading scholars with important contributions to the synchronic reading and theology of Deuteronomy are omitted. For example, E. Otto and J.-P. Sonnet are not mentioned at all, G. Braulik, D. Markl, and J. G. McConville receive little attention and although many articles of Levinson are considered, his important monograph on the hermeneutics of legal innovation in Deuteronomy in not indicated.

Notwithstanding these critical remarks, the commentary of Lundbom is a great tool for working with Deuteronomy not only for scholars and students but for pastors as well. It is completed with an Appendix that lists the citations of Deuteronomy in the NT, followed by an Author and a Scripture Index.

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

 

 

Reinhard Muller, Juha Pakkala and Bas ter Haar Romeny. Evidence of Editing: Growth and Change of Texts in the Hebrew Bible. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2014. Paperback. 255 pages. US$30.00 (Amazon). ISBN: 978158983-747-8.1

Reinhard Müller is Lecturer in OT Exegesis at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich; Juha Pakkala is University Lecturer in Biblical Exegesis and Classical Hebrew at the University of Helsinki; Bas ter Haar Romeny is Professor of Old Testament and Eastern Christianity at Leiden University and Director of the Peshitta Institute. All three authors have had several books published in their various areas of expertise in relation to the Hebrew Bible.

This collection of "literary" (i.e. redaction-critical) studies dealing with the subject of editing in the HB consists of a listing of standard Abbreviations, an Introduction to the book's topic and a summary of its main arguments, fifteen chapters that constitute case studies in support of the authors' claims, a final presentation of the book's Conclusions regarding "Empirical Evidence of Editorial Processes," a Bibliography of all works cited, an Index of Sources, and an Index of Authors. The central purpose of this volume is to "demonstrate that substantial editing took place in the history of the Hebrew Bible" and that such "editorial modification was the rule rather than the exception" (p. 1, all page references are to the volume under review).

The relatively lengthy titles of each of the chapters (below) summarise the principal issue considered as evidence for extensive editing within the HB. Every chapter helpfully ends with a concluding section giving "Results and Methodological Consequences." I have included with each title an important (but admittedly, selective) exemplifying instance from among the authors' critical observations concerning the different set of texts being compared in that chapter:

(i) Added Detail in the Samaritan Version of Lev 17:4 concerning the Sacrifices. In the authors' opinion, the primary clue that indicates editorial activity in this passage is "awkward" and "disturbing" repetition (p. 25).

(ii) An Expansion to the Passover Law: Lev 23:5-8 and Num 28:16-25 Compared. The text of Num 28 is viewed as developing the "sacrificial aspect" of the legal stipulations found in Lev 23 (p. 33), which is of course not a surprising occurrence in a progressively developed corpus of closely related texts (Torah).

(iii) From Glosses to Larger Expansions: The MT of Num 13-14 Compared with the Septuagint and the Samaritan Pentateuch. A comparison of these diverse texts would indicate that slight editing occurred "mainly in textual traditions other than the (proto-)MT)," suggesting that "there was less freedom to alter the proto-MT during the time in which these three textual traditions developed independently" (p. 44).

(iv) Late Additions or Editorial Shortening? Joshua 20 in the MT and the Septuagint. There are apparent "inner-textual tensions" in vv. 3-6 of this chapter that would "indicate a complex process of literary growth," but except for v. 6b this development is "not documented in differing textual witnesses," thus leading to the assumption "that in many cases different versions that once existed are lost" (p. 58).

(v) A Qumran Manuscript as Evidence of an Addition in the MT: Judg 6:710. A Qumran fragment appears to corroborate redaction-critical reasoning that perceived textual "incoherence" is very likely due to a "secondary expansion"-in this case, the later addition of Judg 6:7-10 in the MT tradition (p. 68).

(vi) A Secondary Omission in the MT of 1 Sam 10:1. In contrast to the preceding example, here broad external manuscript evidence seems to support the hypothesis of deliberate editorial "omission" in the MT due to ideological "content-related considerations," thus further suggesting that "a mechanical use of the text-critical rule lectio brevior is problematic" (p. 76).

(vii) An Addition in a Qumran Manuscript as Evidence for the Continuous Growth of the Text: 1 Sam 10:27-11:1. This is perhaps the most important of the book's case studies, for it includes as part of the discussion a critique of the criteria used, and conclusions drawn by the United Bible Societies' influential "Hebrew Old Testament Text Project" (HOTTP) Committee, on the one hand (pp. 94-95), and the important textual work done by Emanuel Tov, on the other (e.g. Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, now in its 3rd edition) (pp. 96-98).

The authors' crucial methodological conclusions are these: (a) the MT must not be privileged during any textual assessment procedure; rather, "it is best to consider all available data"; (b) seeking to determine the "earliest attainable stage" of the text is both viable and the most desirable goal when investigating the possibility of "earlier literary development"; (c) therefore, it is not feasible to separate "textual criticism" and "literary criticism" when evaluating the current state and pre-history of any BH text (p. 99).

(viii) The Septuagint Provides Evidence of a Late Addition in the MT: 1 Kgs 6:11-14. The authors conclude that the addition of the divine oracle to Solomon in this passage seems to "have been inserted only after the pre- MT diverged from the shared textual tradition with the Vorlage of the LXX" (p. 105). But since w. 9 and 14 begin the same in the MT: , one could speculate that the LXX scribe's eye might have jumped from the former to the latter when copying his text, thus leaving out the intervening material. Improbable perhaps due to the textual distance involved, but certainly not impossible as a "technical reason" (loc. cit.) for the omission (i.e. homoiarchon, cf. p. 23).

(ix) From Small Additions to Rewriting the Story about the Burning of Jerusalem. Several passages (2 Kgs 25:8-12; Jer 52:12, 39:8-9; 2 Chr 36:18-20) are compared to illustrate "how the [Hebrew] text gradually grew" (p. 123), and that "the oft-taken assumption that the later scribes or authors were increasingly reluctant to make changes to the source text cannot be taken for granted" (p. 125). But one wonders how sustainable this conclusion is, being based on the relatively late text of Chronicles, which clearly included the Kings scroll among the many sources used for its contemporary rewriting of the history of Israel (cf. 1 Chr 9:1).

(x) Evidence for the Literary Growth of Gedaliah's Murder in 2 Kgs 25:25, Jer 41:1-3 MT, and Jer 48:1-3 LXX. Based on the "documented evidence" provided and their argumentation, the authors conclude that "the text now preserved in Jer 41:1-3 MT is the result of at least five to seven different editors" and "three literary stages" (p. 141). However, it is doubtful that any conjectured BH text, no matter how derived, could support such precise editorial determinations.

(xi) Techniques of Rewriting Prophecy: Jer 48 Compared with Isa 15-16. Different "scribal techniques" appear to indicate that "three different editors" adapted various segments of the Hebrew text of Isa 15-16 in order to "rewrite" Jer 48 (p. 157). On the other hand, when dealing with such poetic texts the authors warn against "trusting too much in the potential for reconstructing the textual sources of a given text" (loc. cit.).

(xii) Evidence of Psalm Composition : Ps 108 as a Secondary Compilation of Other Psalm Texts. The comparative study of this chapter would suggest that "the entire Ps 108 is composed by using parts of other psalms," and that the "textual incoherence" of vv. 8-10 is a good indication of this (p. 176). However, it would seem that only two (not any "other") psalms have been refashioned to form the text of Ps 108. Thus, 57:7-11 > vv. 1-5, and 60:5-12 > vv. 6-13. Furthermore, there are a number of intertextual clues suggesting that Ps 108 must be interpreted canonically in conjunction with Ps 107.2

(xiii) Revision of Ezra-Nehemiah in 1 Esdras: Expansions, Omissions, and Rewritings. 1 Esdras exemplifies the core redaction-critical principle that later texts are "developed through expansions. . . that remove inconsistencies in the older text," thus making it "very difficult to know that the text had been edited" (p. 191).3

(xiv) Evidence for Large Additions in the Book of Esther. Six major additions to the LXX that provide a perceptible religious dimension, including the mention of "God," are found in each of two different Greek renditions. The varied literary style of these additions indicates that "they were not written by the same author" (p. 203). It is not evident, however, that these examples provide "the best empirical evidence for large additions in the Hebrew Bible" (loc. cit.) since the expansions actually occur in the Greek LXX.

(xv) Evidence for Expansions, Relocations, Omissions, and Rewriting: Joash the King and Jehoiada the Priest in 2 Kgs 11-12 and 2 Chr 22-24. On the one hand, the authors propose that the Chronicler "built his own story" on the basis of his source in 2 Kings (p. 216); on the other, it is suggested that the composer-editor(s) may have made use of "different literary works as sources, 1-2 Kings being one of them" (p. 217).

At the conclusion of their comparative study of texts, the three authors reiterate their contention that "substantial editing took place in the literary history of the Hebrew Bible" (p. 219; cf. p. 1). Unfortunately, in the end the present reviewer was not completely convinced about the credibility of this claim-made on the basis of the varied empirical evidence that was provided in the different chapter analyses. To further exemplify what prompted some of these doubts, we return to the Book's Introduction where the authors expand upon their basic assumption of "substantial editing" with these assertions:

"For centuries before the texts gradually became unchangeable," scribal editors allegedly did not hesitate to change "the form, meaning, and content of the texts" (p. 1).

"Editorial modification was the rule rather than the exception" (p. 1).

"The MT cannot be the single starting point when investigating the Hebrew Bible"; indeed, "the MT contains substantial editorial additions of a very late origin" (p. 3).

"In many cases a more original of a passage is documented in witnesses other than the MT, while the MT is substantially edited and contains secondary readings" (p. 4).

"Structural analyses might be able to highlight certain structures in the latest version of the texts, but these versions are often merely random stages of the textual development" (p. 11).

However, one must balance such bold affirmations with these telling admissions (italics added):

"It can be assumed that similar additions were made in many texts of the Hebrew Bible, although in most cases no empirical evidence has been preserved" (p. 5).

"In contrast to these examples [cited in the book], we do not possess empirical evidence for most of the texts of the Hebrew Bible . . . but we can assume that these documented cases attest to merely a fraction of the actual changes that have taken place in the transmission of the Hebrew Bible" (p. 9).

"Although most literary- and redaction-critical reconstructions can never be fully proven but remain hypotheses, it is difficult to see how the texts of the Hebrew Bible would bear witness to only the latest periods" (p. 14).

". . . Literary and redaction criticisms should not be used as infallible methods. Their results are often hypotheses or abstractions of a development, and they should also be understood as such" (p. 15).

"In some [EW: I would say rather 'many'] cases, one has to acknowledge that the prehistory of a text cannot be recovered. . . [and] when reconstructions become hypothetical, this should be admitted more frankly than has been done in the past" (p. 17).

In conclusion, the redaction-critical reconstructions presented in this book-though interesting and informative-are at times very hypothetical and hence debatable. In other words, credible counter-arguments can be raised in response to most if not all of the authors' findings. And given the fact that the "empirical evidence" provided is admittedly quite restricted, it seems too speculative to extrapolate far beyond the limited concrete data and assert sweeping claims about the textual history and development of the Hebrew Bible. Therefore, I must include myself among the cited scholars who are chided for their "methodological skepticism" (p. 13), for example:

"Scholarly reconstructed texts cannot but be hypothetical and unverifiable, and rarely command any consensus" (Ehud Ben Zvi, p. 12).

"More complicated reconstructions of textual prehistory have not stood and will not stand the test of time" (David M. Carr, p. 13).

To be sure, it may be unwarranted or even misleading to utilise "edited or 'final' texts. . . uncritically as historical sources" (p. 14, emphasis added). But it is expedient to begin an exegesis or text analysis somewhere, and the widely recognised, authoritative MT is as good a base as any for this purpose, including a prior, careful and comprehensive text-critical study of all available variants and readings. Since time is limited and hence choices about the direction of one's research and writing efforts must be made, I much prefer a canon-critical, "end text" approach, which though strongly criticised by the authors (e.g. p. 10), has proven to be much more productive in terms of pertinent insights and useful information concerning the form and meaning of the Hebrew Bible.4

This is not to say, however, that I cannot recommend this book to all OT scholars and students. On the contrary, it offers a selection of specialised, but very accessible studies that give excellent examples of "literary-" (despite the misnomer), or "redaction-critical" analyses of a variety of HB texts and associated witnesses. The book is well organised and the writing style is generally clear and to the point, with more technical or peripheral issues being relegated to footnotes. Therefore, this would be a very suitable resource text for any advanced Hebrew studies course. It provides one side of the story, as it were, that certainly contributes "to a better understanding of how texts of the Hebrew Bible developed" (p. 227). However, in my opinion, it would require another text-lode discovery comparable to that at Qumran to validate the authors' confident hypotheses about the alleged multifarious, composite character of the Hebrew text (the proto-MT), which not a few scholars still use as the basis for contemporary "rhetorical and structural analyses" (cf. p. 10).5

Ernst Wendland
Centre for Bible Interpretation and Translation in Africa
and Department of Ancient Studies
Stellenbosch University
Email: erwendland@gmail.com

 

 

Timothy J. Stone. The Compilational History of the Megilloth: Canon, Contoured Intertextuality and Meaning in the Writings. Forschungen zum Alten Testament II/59. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013. 258 Pages. Paperback. 64.00. ISBN 978-3-16-152375-5.

Canonical processes in and behind the Scriptures of the OT (and NT) have gained increasing interest in the last decades of Biblical scholarship. The author of this monograph venture onto new paths insofar as he evaluates the tricky questions whether there is a canonical order in the Writings, the last (constituted) part of the Hebrew Bible, and what are the reasons and implications of this arrangement. With this study, guided by Nathan MacDonald, Timothy Stone (= TS) gained his PhD from the University of St. Andrews (UK), and is now lecturing Old Testament and Hebrew at Zomba Theological College (Malawi).

TS begins with an introduction about the shape of the Writings. He questions several assumptions, mainly that the Writings are a miscellaneous collection with no purposeful design or shape. He reduces the historical attested multiplicity of orders to two, namely the arrangement of the manuscripts (A and L) of the Masoretes (MT) and of the Baba Batra 14b (BB 14b), a baraita in the Talmud (a third one is the Greek tradition[s] [G]). The reason is that these two orders are the only ones, which are attested earlier than the twelfth century. In his investigation into the "poetics of canon shaping" he mainly concentrates on the five scrolls (Megilloth = M): Ruth - Song of Songs -Ecclesiastes - Lamentations - Esther. He then declares his three theses: 1. The tripartite Hebrew canon was closed before the end of the first century C.E.; 2. MT and BB 14b are the primary arrangements of the Writings; 3. The five scrolls (M) are purposefully arranged even if in various (but limited) orders.

In ch. 1, the author coins the phrase "compilation consciousness," referring to the ways books are framed alongside of or structurally associated with other books within the canonical process (the authorisation of the books is thus regarded as a presupposition). He considers then the research on the compilation of the Twelve Prophets (MT sequence older than G) and the Psalter and establishes his methodology with four compilational criteria (from strongest to weakest): 1. catchword or catchphrases at the seams of contiguous books; 2. framing devices (like inclusio); 3. superscriptions, like those in the Twelve (Prophets) or the Davidic titles in the Psalter; 4. specific themes that are either continued in a similar manner or reversed to create a sharp contrast across contiguous books.

In ch. 2 TS presents an overview of the collection of Writings in antiquity in discussion with other scholars (Childs, Barton, Beckwith, Chapman, McDonald and others). He looks then to the relevant passages in Ben Sira, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the NT, Josephus (Against Apion) and 4 Ezra and concludes that Ben Sira and especially Josephus (22 books) and 4 Ezra (24 books) strongly testify about a fixed canon before the end of the first century C.E..

In ch. 3 the author evaluates the arrangement of the Writings in Hebrew and Greek traditions. He recognises in the OT itself hints for ordering and considers the Jerusalem temple as the (first) place for collecting and ordering of the authorised books. In comparing the Hebrew arrangement in MT and the list in BB 14b, TS argues (against Steinberg), that MT preserves the older one (the Megilloth arranged together after Proverbs and before Daniel and Ezra-Nehemiah at the end) and probably BB 14b developed from MT (the ordering of G is separate [and later?]).

The second part of his dissertation shifts from external historical questions about the formation of the Writings to three different exegetical probes investigating the arrangement of the Megilloth (M). In ch. 4, described as "Ruth's Migration," he shows the different places of the book of Ruth in the traditions and evaluates the reasons for it. TS explains the "migration" of Ruth stepwise from the Former Prophets (between Judges and Samuel as in G, possibly because of the role of the kingship of David) into the Writings after Proverbs (MT, connecting Prov 31:10-31 and Ruth) and finally directly before the Psalter, opening the Writings (BB 14b, mainly because of chronological reasons).

Chapter 5 treats Esther, for many an outcast in the canonical family, but there are others who view this book in a positive light. TS discusses the different compilational contexts of Esther, its links with Lamentations, Dan 1-6 and Ezra-Nehemiah. He ends with a theology of Esther, focusing on the characters of Mordecai, Esther, Haman, and, finally, God.

The discussion of the remaining books of M (Song, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations) in ch. 6 is kept briefer. He discusses for each of these books the placement in the three main traditions (MT, BB, G). Thereby Song and Ecclesiastes BB 14b and G share the arrangement Proverbs => Ecclesiastes => Song (=> Lamentations), while MT has Proverbs => Ruth => Song => Ecclesiastes => Lamentations. In all traditions Ecclesiastes and Song follow Proverbs, so Proverbs is the prime one in the "Solomonic books." In view of the macro-structure of the five M for TS forces outside of the Megilloth play the dominant role in the compilation, although there are also signs of internal connections. The MT seems to have a chiastic arrangement (ABCB'A') with Ruth and Esther in the framing positions, Song and Lamentations mirroring one another and Ecclesiastes staying in the centre.

In the "concluding summation" of ch. 7, TS summarises the main results of his investigation. The Megilloth in the MT, which is the oldest surviving order in the Hebrew tradition, does not reflect a liturgical usage, but has to be explained by their canonical associations in the Writings. He maintains that a single order does not appear to be requisite for investigation. At the end he mentions four primary areas for further research regarding the arrangement of the Writings.

This is a helpful and stimulating monograph, trying to lead us through a thorny terrain. If the theme of canon is complex and hotly debated, that of the third part, the Writings, is far more so. Amidst the many questions the reduction to three main traditions (MT, BB 14b and - not treated with the same thoroughness - G) is helpful, as well as his listing of four compilational criteria. The material is well organised, very readable and the argumentation careful and cautious. The main results (canon-closing at least in the first century C.E., priority of the MT, the arrangement of M) seem sound, but nevertheless open for discussion. At the end a few questions and considerations of my own must suffice. TS explains the order of Ruth in the three main traditions in terms of a "migration" (also) as a historical development. Thereby Ruth crossed the "borders" from the Nebi'im (G) to the Ketubim (MT, BB). What does that mean (see also Daniel, Lamentations) for the canon(s)? If the canon ordering of G seems to be later than that of MT, how is it to be explained that it preserves an older arrangement? Or is it maybe not older, but the taking of some books and placing them in the Nebi'im has to be explained as later reordering? More fundamental is the relation between history ("Genese") and theology or meaning ("Geltung"): To explain historical processes is one (necessary) thing, but canon involves also matters of authorisation and theology. Every placement of books carries with it (new) meaning. Is there an authorised reading of one order of the Writings, more than one or none? Frankly speaking: which canon sequence of the OT should the church use? TS reduced the multiplicity of arrangement in the Ketubim by disregarding later manuscripts of the Middle Ages. This seems acceptable, but does it not show that the Jewish and Christian communities did not authorise a certain order in the Writings, the last of the three parts of the Hebrew canon with - as I think -the weakest stabilisation with respect to the arrangement of the incorporated books? There are many other questions, but it is just these, which make this dissertation very valuable and stimulating. The book is recommended to all who are interested in the Bible as authorised collections and its arrangement.

Beat Weber
Lecturer in Old Testament at Theologisches Seminar Bienenberg (Liestal), Switzerland
Research Associate of the Department of Ancient Languages, University of Pretoria, South Africa
E-mail: weber-lehnherr@sunrise.ch

 

 

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

Joseph Blenkinsopp. David Remembered: Kingship and National Identity in Ancient Israel. Grand Rapids, Mich., Cambridge, UK.: Eerdmans, 2013. Price US$26.00. £17.99. ISBN 978-0-8028-6958-6.

Thomas Hieke. Levitikus 1-15. Herders Theologischer Kommentar zum Alten Testament. Freiburg, Basel, Wien: Herder, 2014. Price not mentioned. ISBN 978-3-451-26806-9.

Thomas Hieke. Levitikus 16-27. Herders Theologischer Kommentar zum Alten Testament. Freiburg, Basel, Wien: Herder, 2014. Price not mentioned. ISBN 978-3-451-26807-6.

Gregory Mobley. The Return of the Chaos Monsters - And Other Backstories of the Bible. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2012. Price US$16.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-3746-2.

 

 

1 I must acknowledge the helpful editorial critique of Dr. Lynell Zogbo in preparing this review; however, she is not responsible for its essential content or the conclusions drawn.
2 For example, the "steadfast love" () vocalisation - usually seghol of YHWH in 108:4, which is the focus of the psalmisfs praise in vv. 1-5, forms an inclusio that circumscribes Ps 107 (vv. 1, 43; cf. also vv. 8, 15, 21, 31, and Ps 106:1). In addition, the "rejoicing" referred to in the penultimate verse of Ps 107 (v. 42) appears to be reflected in the first section of Ps 108, i.e. vv. 1-5, while the appeal of the penultimate verse of Ps 108 (v. 12) echoes the opening call of Ps 107, i.e. v. 2. Furthermore, Ps 57:1-6 (esp. v. 3) expresses an individual appeal that would be appropriate as a response to Ps 107:39-43, and Ps 60:1-4 summarises the entire lament of Ps 107.
3 The authors' argument that the MT at times "contains a secondary reading" (p. 191) based on a conjectured "later addition" in Ezra 10:3 is confusing because the key term involved, Law (), is found in both versions being compared; it is not "missing in 1 Esdras" (i.e. 8:90; cf. 2 Esd 10:3) as stated (p. 190, cf. p. 189).
4 See for instance the many informative Psalms studies of Prof. Phil J. Botha, e.g. "Psalm 53 in Canonical Perspective," OTE 26/3 (2013): 583-606.
5 For example, Orality and Scripture: Composition, Translation, and Transmission (Dallas: SIL International, 2013). I would regard such "rhetorical and structural analyses" as being "literary" studies in the primary sense of the term.

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