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Archive for July, 2009

Septuagint Psalm 151

30th July 2009

This post is my first in a series on Psalm 151 in the Biblical Tradition.  Now,  some of my readers may be wondering what is this Psalm 151 that I am talking about? The biblical book of Psalms only contains 150 psalms! To you I reply, you are absolutely correct (but also a little incorrect!).  The book of Psalms in the Hebrew Masoretic tradition — the tradition on which Protestants and Jews base their modern English translations — contains 150 psalms (actually this isn’t quite correct; there are Masoretic manuscripts that divide the psalms differently resulting in more or less than 150 psalms. For example, there are manuscripts that divide individual psalms differently and end up with 147, 148, 149 and even 170 psalms!  Nonetheless, the Masoretic tradition is consistent in its content with modern Protestant and Jewish translations). If we turn to the  Greek Septuagint (and the Syriac) tradition, however, we find an extra psalm right after Psalm 150, which has become known as “Psalm 151.” It appears that this psalm was not held with quite the same authority as the other 150 psalms,  since an editorial note in the psalm title marks it as ἔξωθεν τοῦ ἀριθμοῦ (“outside the number”).

While this psalm was known for a long time from the Greek and Syriac traditions, the discovery of two Hebrew psalms clearly related to the Septuagint Psalm 151 among the Dead Sea Scrolls (dubbed “Psalm 151A and 151B” by the editor of  11Q5), has challenged our understanding of this psalm in a number of ways. It has raised significant questions surrounding the relationship between the Greek and Hebrew versions of this psalms, as well as the precise nature of the Hebrew original from which the Greek was translated.  In much of this debate, the interest in the Qumran psalms has overshadowed interest in the LXX version of Psalm 151. In this series of posts I will explore these questions and any implications they may have to our understanding of the development of the book of Psalms. More specifically, I want to look at the relationship between LXX Ps 151 and 11Q5 Ps 151A and 151B and then provide an analysis of  Psalm 151 as a psalm in its own right.

But first, let me provide the actual psalm itself as well as an English translation:

 

LXX Psalm 151
1a Οὗτος ὁ ψαλμὸς ἰδιόγραφος εἰς Δαυιδ καὶ ἔξωθεν τοῦ ἀριθμοῦ, ὅτε ἐμονομάχησεν τῷ Γολιαδ. This Psalm is autobiographical. Regarding David and outside the number. [When he fought Goliath in single combat.]
1b Μικρὸς ἤμην ἐν τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς μου I was small among my brothers,
1c καὶ νεώτερος ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ τοῦ πατρός μου, and the youngest in my father’s house;
1d ἐποίμαινον τὰ πρόβατα τοῦ πατρός μου. I would shepherd my father’s sheep.
2a αἱ χεῖρές μου ἐποίησαν ὄργανον, My hands made an instrument;
2b οἱ δάκτυλοί μου ἥρμοσαν ψαλτήριον. my fingers tuned a harp.
3a καὶ τίς ἀναγγελεῖ τῷ κυρίῳ μου; But who will report to my lord?
3b αὐτὸς κύριος, αὐτὸς εἰσακούει. The Lord himself, he listens.
4a αὐτὸς ἐξαπέστειλεν τὸν ἄγγελον αὐτοῦ It was he who sent his messenger
4b καὶ ἦρέν με ἐκ τῶν προβάτων τοῦ πατρός μου and took me from my father’s sheep
4c καὶ ἔχρισέν με ἐν τῷ ἐλαίῳ τῆς χρίσεως αὐτοῦ. and anointed me with his anointing oil.
5a οἱ ἀδελφοί μου καλοὶ καὶ μεγάλοι, My brothers were handsome and tall,
5b καὶ οὐκ εὐδόκησεν ἐν αὐτοῖς κύριος. but the Lord took no delight in them.
6a ἐξῆλθον εἰς συνάντησιν τῷ ἀλλοφύλῳ, I went out to meet the foreigner,
6b καὶ ἐπικατηράσατό με ἐν τοῖς εἰδώλοις αὐτοῦ, and he cursed me by his idols.
7a ἐγὼ δὲ σπασάμενος τὴν παῤ αὐτοῦ μάχαιραν But I, having drawn the sword from him,
7b ἀπεκεφάλισα αὐτὸν I beheaded him,
7c καὶ ἦρα ὄνειδος ἐξ υἱῶν Ισραηλ. and removed reproach from Israel’s sons.

 

This psalm has been aptly described as  an autobiographical midrash on the early life of David as recorded in 1 Samuel 16–17. It weaves together incidents from David’s adolescence recorded in 1 Samuel 16-17: his anointing (16:1-13), his entry into Saul’s service as a musician (16:14-23), and his victory over Goliath (chap. 17).  Significantly, these three episodes hang together uneasily in their context in Samuel, but are brought together in this poetic midrash connecting David’s anointing by Samuel with his victory over Goliath as an example of the Lord’s presence with David.

I will offer some more analysis of this psalm in a later post.


Posted in Bible, LXX Psalms, Psalm 151 in the Biblical Tradition, Psalms, Septuagint, Series | 2 Comments »

Five Books/Scholars that Shaped My Reading of the Bible

28th July 2009

I have been tagged in the popular  “Five Books” meme and since I want to return to blogging more regularly, I figured I would add my five to the growing list of biblical studies blogs that have responded to the meme. The original question posed over at the C. Orthodoxy blog was, “Name the five books (or scholars) that had the most immediate and lasting influence on how you read the Bible.”

1. Since the focus of the meme is on “how you read the Bible”, i.e., hermeneutics, my first book is Hans-Georg Gadamer’s Truth and Method (Continuum, 2005;  buy from Amazon.ca | Amazon.com).  More than any other scholar, Gadamer’s hermeneutical model has shaped the way I read the Bible (and everything else for that matter).  Another scholar who has been influential in this regard is Anthony Thiselton.

2. Learning to read the Bible in its original languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) has naturally had a lasting influence on how I read it. Thus, the second scholar I list is Bruce Waltke. As his student and teaching assistant, my understanding of Biblical Hebrew benefited immensely, if I didn’t always share some of his theological perspectives. His (and M. O’Connor’s) An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Eisenbrauns, 1990; Amazon.ca | Amazon.com), remains within arm’s reach whenever I am trying to understand a matter of Hebrew syntax.

3. Reading the Bible for me entails dealing with ancient texts and translations. For that reason Emanuel Tov is my third choice.  Whether its in the area of textual criticism (see his Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible [Fortress, 2001; buy from Amazon.ca | Amazon.com]), Septuagint studies (see my LXX pages), or (of course!) Dead Sea Scrolls (where can I start? see my Dead Sea Scrolls section of Codex), Tov has influenced my understanding of the history and development of the biblical text like few others (one other I should mention is naturally my dissertation supervisor Al Pietersma!).

4. Why do I read the Bible? I do not read it only because of its considerable influence on Western civilization, nor only because I have to prepare lecture notes or sermons ostensibly based on it! Nor do I only read it because I find it fascinating and compelling. The reason I first started reading the Bible when I was 18 was because I believed the God spoke in and through it and at that time in my life I desperately needed a word from God! That conviction remains perhaps the primary reason why I read the Bible.  A biblical scholar whose ideas  helped me in and through graduate studies is Brevard S. Childs. Whether his Introduction to Old Testament as Scripture (Fortress, 1997; buy from Amazon.ca | Amazon.com) or his Biblical Theology of Old and New Testaments (Fortress, 1992; buy from Amazon.ca | Amazon.com), his “canonical approach” helped me appreciate the value (and the limitations) of the various higher and lower criticisms and provided me with a way to read the Christian Bible (both Old and New Testaments)  faithfully as a biblical scholar.

5. Finally, since, as I mentioned above,  I am not just interested in reading the Bible for academic or antiquarian reasons, but because I believe it is God’s word to the church, my last scholar is Karl Barth. While I do not claim to have digested all of Barth’s works (perhaps just a few crumbs from his table), I don’t think there are (m)any theologians who interact with the biblical texts to the extent he does. From his ground-breaking Commentary on Romans (Oxford, 1968; buy from Amazon.ca | Amazon.com) to his voluminous Church Dogmatics (Continuum, 2009; buy from Amazon.ca | Amazon.com), Barth modeled a way of reading Scripture that remained focused on the Triune God.

There are many others I could list, scholars like Herman Gunkel, Robert Lowth, Gerhard von Rad, Phyllis Trible, Walter Brueggemann, Sara Japhet, John Goldingay, George Eldon Ladd, Raymond Brown, N.T. Wright, Kenton Sparks, but I won’t.

So that is my list! I won’t bother tagging anyone since I don’t want to spend the time to figure out who hasn’t been tagged yet!

I am curious what books or scholars have been influential in shaping the way you, my readers, read the Bible.


Posted in Bible, Biblioblogs, Scholars, Teaching & Learning | 4 Comments »

New Codex Site Live

27th July 2009

CodexI have made my new and improved Codex: Resources for Biblical, Theological, and Religious Studies site live. This is a total rewrite of the site using a content management program (Joomla! 1.5).

I will be changing the theme of this blog shortly to match the theme of my new site.

Please feel free to peruse my site since I have updated most of the pages on the site in the transfer process. Thus, I have noted new DJD volumes in my Dead Sea Scrolls section, entirely updated my sections on Biblical Hebrew, Septuagint, Bible Software, and pretty much everything else!

I am still working on a database-driven version of the Old Testament Commentary Survey, though that will go online a bit later in the summer I hope.

I encourage you to take a gander and please let me know of any bugs or glitches!

Shalom,

-Tyler Williams

Posted in Codex Updates | 4 Comments »

Nominate Some Posts for Biblical Studies Carnival XLIV

20th July 2009

This is just a friendly reminder to submit some of your favourite posts of the month of July to the next Biblical Studies Carnival that will be hosted by blogger extrordanaire Jim West over at his blog, Dr. Jim West (if that is its name for this month!).

In order to save the host considerable work, please nominate some posts today (and tomorrow, the next day, and the day after that…) It’s really easy. You have two options:

  1. Send the following information to the following email address: biblical_studies_carnival AT hotmail.com. If you’re not sure whether a post qualifies, send it anyway and the I will decide whether to include it.
    • The title and permalink URL of the blog post you wish to nominate and the author’s name or pseudonym.
    • A short (two or three sentence) summary of the blog post.
    • The title and URL of the blog on which it appears (please note if it is a group blog).
    • Include “Biblical Studies Carnival [number]” in the subject line of your email
    • Your own name and email address.
  2. Use the submission form provided by Blog Carnival. (This is probably the easier option if you only have one nomination.) Just select “biblical studies carnival” and fill in the rest of the information noted above.

For more information, please see the Biblical Studies Carnival Homepage.


Posted in Biblical Studies Carnival | Comments Off

A Brief Note on Fonts for Biblical Studies

14th July 2009

I just wrote a page for my new website on Hebrew and Greek fonts for students and scholars.  Until my new website goes live, the link to the article is http://biblical-studies.ca/codex/biblical-fonts.html; once my new site is live (which I hope is soon), then the link should be http://biblical-studies.ca/biblical-fonts.html.

Let me know what you think.


Posted in Fonts, Greek, Hebrew, Hebrew Resources, Software | 2 Comments »

Williamson on the Oxford Hebrew Bible

13th July 2009

The latest volume of Biblica has an excellent article by H.G.M. Williamson evaluating the proposed Oxford Hebrew Bible project. In the article, “Do We Need A New Bible? Reflections on the Proposed Oxford Hebrew Bible” (Biblica 90/2 [2009] 153-175), Williamson begins by noting his general methodological agreement with the project, but then continues to raise some very serious problems with the project as a whole.  Some of his objections relate to the nature of the textual evidence for the Hebrew Bible, while others are connected with the proposed format of the OHB.

Here is his concluding paragraph:

It shows a sorry lack of understanding about the fact that our text is a linguistic hybrid which makes this enterprise flawed from the start. Its form of presentation only aggravates that problem, since against its stated objectives it will not present anything remotely resembling an eclectic edition of a supposed archetype. And finally it fails to take into account the ways in which the textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible inevitably differs from that of most other texts, leading, I fear, to further confusion on the part of those who are not already well versed in the subject. In the present state of knowledge, as well as in the light of the extraordinary range of diversity of opinion in this field, what is required is full and sober textual commentary. I have no doubt that that aspect of the project will be welcomed and widely used; but it is not a Bible, new or old.

I too have had a number of methodological questions about the project, so it is nice to see Williamson raising some of the same concerns I have had.

I encourage you to read the article carefully!


Posted in Hebrew, Old Testament, Text Criticism | Comments Off