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Coins or Scarabs?

25th September 2009

As noted in a comment in my last post, Daniel O. McClellan over at his his blog Maklelan, has some possible pictures of the so-called “coins” that were discovered. If he is correct in his opinion and if his pictures are accurate, then these are certainly not coins, but scarabs.

Perhaps if further pictures are produced, there might be something to this story. As it stands right now, it looks very unlikely, especially considering the tendentiousness of the source (illustrated by the apologetic aim to show that the Quran’s references to coins at the time of Joseph are historically accurate).


Posted in Ancient Egypt, Ancient Near East, Discoveries, Genesis | 2 Comments »

Coins from the Joseph Era found In Egypt!?

25th September 2009

News reports are buzing this morning about a cache of coins discovered among some unsorted artifacts in the recesses of the Museum of Egypt. Not only are coins not thought to have been used in ancient Egypt, more surprisingly, the report claims that coins with the  name and image of the biblical Joseph have been found among the coins. If this turns out to be a bona fide discovery, this will be the first extra-biblical evidence for any of the biblical patriarchs.

Here is an excerpt from the Jerusalem Post:

Archeologists have discovered ancient Egyptian coins bearing the name and image of the biblical Joseph, Cairo’s Al Ahram newspaper recently reported. Excerpts provided by MEMRI show that the coins were discovered among a multitude of unsorted artifacts stored at the Museum of Egypt.

According to the report, the significance of the find is that archeologists have found scientific evidence countering the claim held by some historians that coins were not used for trade in ancient Egypt, and that this was done through barter instead.

The period in which Joseph was regarded to have lived in Egypt matches the minting of the coins in the cache, researchers said.

“A thorough examination revealed that the coins bore the year in which they were minted and their value, or effigies of the pharaohs [who ruled] at the time of their minting. Some of the coins are from the time when Joseph lived in Egypt, and bear his name and portrait,” said the report.

The discovery of the cache prompted research team head Dr. Sa’id Muhammad Thabet to seek Koranic verses that speak of coins used in ancient Egypt.

“Studies by Dr. Thabet’s team have revealed that what most archeologists took for a kind of charm, and others took for an ornament or adornment, is actually a coin. Several [facts led them to this conclusion]: first, [the fact that] many such coins have been found at various [archeological sites], and also [the fact that] they are round or oval in shape, and have two faces: one with an inscription, called the inscribed face, and one with an image, called the engraved face – just like the coins we use today,” the report added.

Some more details from the original article that appeared in the September 22, 2009, edition of Al-Ahram (Egypt), are provided on the MEMRI website. Here is a translation of the section pertaining to the supposed Joseph coins:

“The researcher identified coins from many different periods, including coins that bore special markings identifying them as being from the era of Joseph. Among these, there was one coin that had an inscription on it, and an image of a cow symbolizing Pharaoh’s dream about the seven fat cows and seven lean cows, and the seven green stalks of grain and seven dry stalks of grain. It was found that the inscriptions of this early period were usually simple, since writing was still in its early stages, and consequently there was difficulty in deciphering the writing on these coins. But the research team [managed to] translate [the writing on the coin] by comparing it to the earliest known hieroglyphic texts…

“Joseph’s name appears twice on this coin, written in hieroglyphs: once the original name, Joseph, and once his Egyptian name, Saba Sabani, which was given to him by Pharaoh when he became treasurer. There is also an image of Joseph, who was part of the Egyptian administration at the time.

“Dr. Sa’id Thabet called on Egypt’s Antiquities Council and on the Minister of Culture to intensify efforts in the fields of Ancient Egyptian history and archeology, and to [promote] the research of these coins that bear the name of Egyptian pharaohs and gods. This, he said, would enable the correction of prevalent misconceptions regarding the history of Ancient Egypt.”

Here is an image from the MEMRI which I assume is of some of the coins:

Joseph_Coins

I would like to affirm the findings and announce that there is now iron clad evidence for the biblical Joseph, but alas, the skeptical side of me says wait and see what comes of this. Wait and see…


Posted in Ancient Egypt, Ancient Near East, Archaeology, Discoveries, Genesis, Joseph, News | 7 Comments »

Christian Carnival CCXCIV (#294 for those who don’t do Roman)

16th September 2009

CCWelcome to the 294th installment of the Christian Carnival, a weekly collection of some of the best posts of the Christian blogosphere.

Biblical Studies

First up are some posts relating to biblical studies. Jeremy over at Parableman has a post reconciling of two verses concerning those pesky Canaanites mentioned at the beginning of Judges 3.  While the verses at first blush appear to be contradictory, he resolves it in his post, “Apparent Contradiction in Judges 3.”

Over at ReturningKing.Com, Jeff posts the ninth installment of a series entitled, “A Pastoral Soteriology” with his post on “Atonement in the Old Testament Law” where he demonstrates how its view of penal substitution foreshadows Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

While not expressly on the Bible per se, William Green also reflects on the atonement in his post, “Why God can’t just forgive sin.” You can find this and more at his Weblog of a Christian Philosophy Student.

Now back to the Old Testament.  e-Mom presents a Christian viewpoint on one of annual feasts prescribed by Jewish law in her post, The Jewish Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), over at Chrysalis.

Moving into the New Testament, NCSue has written a reflection on Jesus bearing our burdens (Matthew 11:28-30) in her post, “Thoughts from the ‘in box’,” over at her blog, IN HIM WE LIVE AND MOVE AND HAVE OUR BEING.

Annette presents some reflections on Hebrews 11 in her post, “Faith is….” You can read this and more over at her blog, Fish and Cans.

Henry Neufeld takes on Paul Helm’s views on translation theory in his post, Dynamic and Cognitive Equivalence, over at Participatory Bible Study Blog (Methinks I agree with Neufeld on this one).

While not technically a post on a passage from the Bible, Ketan Rindani posts “10 Bible Facts You Must Know” over at JESUS IS LORD!. (Hmmm… I’m not sure that you “must” know that the Bible contains 31,071 verses — an interesting fact perhaps, but not essential)

Christian Life and Thought

Diane, over at Crossroads: Where Faith and Inquiry Meet, continues to report on articles and books that help us help the poor. Her latest installment is entitled, “More on How to REALLY Help the Poor,” which highlights a story about some women in the Philippines who meet for prayer and working out sound business plans. Her post made me think of the great website http://www.kiva.org, where you can make microloans to people in the two-thirds world.

Ridge Burns, over at at his Blog, asks readers how attached they are to God’s call on their lives in his post dealing with major life Transitions. As someone who just went through a major work transition, I appreciated his candor.

Over at Thoughts and Confessions of a Girl Who Loves Jesus…, michelle shares how God is restoring her life in an emotional post simply titled, “09.09.09.”

Shannon Christman, a.k.a. the Minority Thinker , reflects on the importance of intergenerational fellowship in the body of Christ in her brief post, “Generational Segregation.”

Barry Wallace challenges us to walk the fine line between sloth and proper rest and asks us if we know ourselves in this regard in his musing, “2 little sleep + 2 much caffeine = headed 4 disaster,” posted at his blog who am i?

Since we are on the topic of rest, it seems appropriate to mention Andrea‘s post, “Listening for the Voice of God” where she underscores the importance of quieting our hearts and attending to the voice of God. Her blog is Unfailingly Loved.

Rick Schiano has a reflection on how our lives can impact others based on his reading of 1 Thessalonians 1:2-9 in his post, “Our Lives Make a Difference,” over at Ricks Victory Blog.

Finally, Tom Gilson, the Thinking Christian, wants to get the word out about the National Conference on Christian Apologetics. So if you are going to be in Charlotte, NC, in mid-November you may want to check it out.

Next Up…

The 295th Christian Carnival will be going green as it will be hosted next Wednesday, September 23, 2009, over at The Evangelical Ecologist.  To submit a post for the next Christian Carnival, go to the Blog Carnival submission form, or send your submission to christiancarnivalsubmissions shift-2 gmail dotte com. For more instructions on submitting posts you can go here, and for  examples of past carnivals, see the Christian Carnival archive.



Posted in Bible, Biblical Teaching, Blogging, Christian Carnival, Theology | 6 Comments »

Gunkel’s Form Critical Classification of the Psalms in Portuguese

23rd August 2009

A couple years back I put together a summary of Hermann Gunkel‘s form critical classification of the Psalms for one of my classes. I posted the summary on my blog and made a handout available on my website.

Since then Bio Nascimento has translated the handout into Portuguese (with my permission). I don’t know how many readers I have that read Portuguese, but I figured I would make the translated handout available, so here it is:

Many thanks to Bio for his work on translating this.


Posted in Criticism, Form criticism, Hermann Gunkel, Psalms | Comments Off

Ecclesiastes Goes Golfing

10th August 2009

golffrustrationI just returned from a nice long weekend away with the family. This was one of our annual trips that with a couple other families. We took the kids tubing at the lake, went ATV-ing, sat around the campfire and played various games. All in all it was a great weekend. Another regular part of this weekend is that the guys head out early one morning for a round of golf.  I enjoy golf, although I am not very good at it and I only seem to get out half a dozen times a year.  I had one of the best games in years earlier this summer when I shot a 47 (on 9 holes) on a father’s day outing.

This last weekend we teed off Sunday morning for our annual game. It was an absolutely beautiful morning and the course was in superb condition. I was looking forward to this round since I have been playing pretty good this summer so far.  The one downer was that I didn’t bring my own clubs (which are nothing special, but I am used to them), due to a miscommunication about whether or not we were playing. So I had rentals, which I usually don’t mind since they give me a chance to try out a newer set of clubs.

Then it started. Third off the tee box. I lined up with my rented driver and swung and heard a nice smack and watched the ball sail at least 250 yards… right into the trees, never to return. The cause: a magnificent slice. Something I hadn’t done for most of the summer. I decide to take a mulligan since I have to get used to the rentals. A second swing. An impressive smack. And I again watched my ball turn a right angle into the forest. I decide to place a ball where it went out and started walking down the fairway enjoying the  beautiful weather with my mind still in the game. I drop a ball at the appropriate spot, take out my 4 iron, and duff it. By the time I get to the green I am already sitting six and then proceed to three putt it.

I won’t describe any more of my game, except to say that I had pretty much my worst game in a long time. I was slicing. I was topping balls. I was hitting the sand traps. I was not having a good game.

Around the 6th hole my mind turned to Scripture. More specifically my mind turned to the book of Ecclesiastes (Qohelet in the Hebrew Bible). “All is vanity/meaningless”; or as I prefer to translate hebel, “All is absurd.” I thought of the absurdity of ruining a perfectly good walk through God’s beautiful creation by trying to hit a stupid white ball into a hole hundreds of yards away with only a club.  Throughout the rest of the game I thought of other lines from Ecclesiastes:

What do people gain from all the toil at which they toil under the sun [chasing a stupid white ball]? (Eccl 1:3)

All is absurd and a chasing after [stupid white balls] (Eccl 1:14)

A time to [hit balls] away [into the rough], and a time to look for [stupid white balls] in the rough (Eccl 3:5)

Cast your [balls] upon the water [hazard], for after many days you will get it back [yeah, right!]  (Eccl 11:1)

I still like golf, although any delusions I had that my game was getting better were dashed this last Sunday. In this respect, golf is very much like the book of Ecclesiastes. A peruse through Ecclesiastes also dashes any illusions that we are in control of our lives; that what we do in this fallen hebel world will always go according to our best laid plans. I like the way Eugene Peterson described the book of Ecclesiastes:

[It is] a John the Baptist kind of book. It functions not as a meal but as a bath. It is not nourishment; it is cleansing. It is repentance. It is purging. [We] read Ecclesiastes to get scrubbed clean from illusion and sentiment, from ideas that are idolatrous and feelings that are cloy. It is an exposé and rejection of every pretentious and presumptuous expectation aimed at God (Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work, pp. 155-156).

That, my dear reader, is also the function of the game of golf.


Posted in Ecclesiastes, Humour, Personal | 2 Comments »

The Relationship between the Septuagint and Qumran Psalm 151

6th August 2009

As I mentioned in my previous posts on Psalm 151 in the Biblical Tradition, there is significant debate on the relationship between the Septuagint Psalm 151 and the version of the Psalm found in the Qumran Psalms scroll (11Q5 Psalm 151A and B).

The editor of 11Q5 Psalm 151A and B, James Sanders, argues that 11QPsa 151A and B, while related to, are not identical with the Vorlage of LXX Ps 151. He further argues that “there can be no hesitancy whatever in affirming that 11QPs 151 is the original psalm” (The Psalms Scroll of Qumrân Cave 11 (11QPsa); DJD 4 [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965; buy from Amazon.com], 60), and that the LXX Psalm is a later translation of an “amalgam” of the Qumran originals (63). Most (but not all) scholars have followed Sanders in his reconstruction of the relationship between the Greek and Hebrew versions of Psalm 151.  Peter Flint considers the Greek version a “transformation of two separate psalms into a single piece” (“Apocryphal Psalms,” Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls [2 volumes; Oxford University Press, 2000; buy from Amazon.ca | Amazon.com. ],  2:708), while his Dead Sea Scrolls Bible (HarperCollins, 1999; buy from Amazon.ca | Amazon.com) also popularizes Sanders’s view:

The text found in 11QPs-a represents the original Hebrew with two originally separate Psalms, which the Greek translator has reworked and synthesized into a single Psalm (p. 585).

Beyond the question of the relationship between these psalms, Sanders has little good to say about LXX Psalm 151.  He calls it “meaningless” (DJD, p. 60), and maintains that without the background provided in Psalm 151A, the LXX psalm “makes little or no sense at all” (p. 59). Furthermore, he argues that the individual who brought together the Vorlage of LXX Psalm 151 destroyed “the beauty and integrity of the original” and “sacrificed not only the artistry but also the sense of the one, and probably as well of the other” (p. 63). In his popular work, The Dead Sea Psalms Scroll (Cornell University Press, 1967; buy from Amazon.ca | Amazon.com), Sanders further refers to the Greek version of Psalm 151 as “nearly meaningless” (p. 94) and “comparatively ridiculous” (p. 95).  Sanders is not alone in his low opinion of the Septuagint Psalm 151. For instance, Strugnell echoes Sanders when he describes it as “largely meaningless” (“Notes on the Text,” 259), while Meyer considered it a “dogmatic correction” of a rustic psalm (“Die Septuaginta-Fassung von Psalm 151:1-5,” 172).

While I agree that the Qumran psalms are related to the Vorlage of LXX Psalm 151, there are significant differences between the texts that indicate that their relationship is not so simple, and that the texts are more dissimilar than even Sanders admits.  In fact, I think – in line with the works of Haran, Smith, Segal, and most recently Debel (in part) – that it is more plausible that the Qumran psalm(s) are a later reworking of the shorter Hebrew Vorlage of LXX Psalm 151. Furthermore, in contrast to Sanders, I will argue that LXX Psalm 151 is a coherent text in and of itself, and that it doesn’t need 151A/B to make sense of it. In this regard I argue that while LXX Psalm 151 is shorter, it is in fact a well-constructed midrash on 1 Samuel 16-17.

In fact, I would argue that reading LXX Psalm 151 in the light of the Qumran psalms actually hampers our understanding of it, since the later Qumran versions take the psalm in a slightly different direction. In a recent article, Segal (“Literary Development,” Textus 21[2002], 143), has made the bold claim that

the bias towards the Hebrew version of the psalm has resulted in a skewed view of the meaning of the Greek edition, as all scholars have assumed that this shorter poem [i.e., the LXX] necessarily addresses the same topics as the longer version.

While Segal overstates the case, I concur with his evaluation. In my next post I will explore in more detail the relationship between the Greek and Hebrew versions of this psalm.


Posted in Dead Sea Scrolls, LXX Psalms, Psalm 151 in the Biblical Tradition, Psalms, Psalms Scrolls, Septuagint | 1 Comment »

Psalm 151 at Qumran

4th August 2009

As mentioned in my previour post on Septuagint Psalm 151 (first installment in my series on Psalm 151 in the Biblical Tradition), the discovery of Hebrew psalms clearly related to the Septuagint Psalm 151 created quite a stir among biblical scholars.  Prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Psalm 151 was only know to us from its Greek and Syriac versions. At the beginning of the last century Septuagint scholar Henry B. Swete noted that “there is no evidence that it [Ps 151] ever existed in Hebrew” (Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek [Hendrickson, 1989], p. 253; buy from Amazon.ca | Amazon.com), and in the 1930s Martin Noth “expressed doubts” about a Hebrew original to LXX Psalm 151 in his study of the five Apocryphal psalms and did not bother to provide a Hebrew retroversion of Psalm 151 in that study.

It was not until the discovery among the Dead Sea Scrolls of the so-called “Qumran Psalms Scroll” (11QPs-a or 11Q5; see my Scroll Introduction) that contained two Psalms (Ps 151A and B) that were clearly parallel with the LXX 151, that scholars universally recognized that LXX Psalm 151 had a Hebrew Vorlage (i.e., a Hebrew original), though the precise relationship between LXX Psalm 151 and 11Q5 Psalm 151 remained under debate.

Before we discuss the nature of the relationship between the Greek LXX Psalm 151 and the Hebrew 11Q5 Psalms 151A and 151B, it would do us well to carefully examine the psalms in question. I have already provided a translation of LXX Psalm 151 in my previous post; here I provide a translation of Psalm 151A and B as found in column 28 of 11Q5:

11Q5 Ps 151A-B

11Q5 Ps 151A & B
3

הללויה לדויד בן ישי

A Hallelujah of David son of Jesse.

קטן הייתי מןאחי

Smaller was I than my brothers

וצעיר מבני אבי

And the youngest of the sons of my father
4

וישימני רועה לצונו

And he made me shepherd of his flock

ומושל בגדיותיו

And ruler over his kids

ידי עשו עוגב

My hands made a (musical) instrument

ואצבעותי כנור

And my fingers a lyre
5

ואשימה ליהוה כבוד

And I rendered glory to the Lord

אמרתי אני בנפשי

I said within myself

ההרים לוא יעדו לו

The mountains do not witness to him,
6

והגבעות לוא יגידו

Nor do the hills declare;

עלו֯ העצים את דברי֯

The trees have cherished my words

והצואן את מעשי֯

And the flock my works.
7

כי מי יגדי ומי ידבר

For who can declare and who can speak,

ומי יספר את מעשי֯ אדון

And who can recount the works of the Lord?

הכול ראה אלוה

Everything has God seen,
8

הכול הוא שמע

everything has he heard,

והוא האזין

and he has heeded.

שלח נביאו למושחני

He sent his prophet to annoint me,
9

את שמואל לגדלני

Samuel, to make me great

יצאו אחי לקראתו

My brothers went out to meet him,

יפי התור ויפי המראה

Handsome of figure and handsome of appearance

הגבהים בקומתם

They were tall of stature
10

היפים בשערם

Handsome by their hair,

לוא בחר יהוה אלוהים בם

The Lord God did not choose them.

וישלח ויקחני מאחר הצואן

But he sent and took me from behind the flock
11

וימשחני בשמן הקודש

And annointed me with holy oil,

וישימני נגיד לעמו

And made me leader to his people
12

ומושל בבני בריתו

And ruler over the sons of his covenant
13

תחלת גב[ו]רה ה[דו]יד

משמשחו נביא אלוהים

At the beginning of [Dav]id’s p[ow]er after the prophet of God had annointed him

אזי רא֯[י]תי פלשתי

Then I s[a]w a Philistine
14

מחרף ממ[ערכות האיוב]

Uttering defiances from the r[anks of the enemy].

אנוכי [     ]  את

I   […]  ’t […]

I should note that while the translation is my own, the above reconstruction follows that by the scroll’s editor, James Sanders (which I do not entirely agree with, but I’ll discuss that in another post).  The line numbers in the left-hand column are not precise; they reflect the line divisions of the editor.  According to Sanders’s reconstruction, Psalm 151B begins in line 13.

In the actual scroll, the column is laid out as follows:

11Q5 Column 28

יהוה העומדים בבית יהוה בלילות שאו ידיכם קודש וברכו

1

את שמ יהוה יברככה יהוה מציו[ן] עושה שמים וארץ

2

vacat

הללויה לדויד בן ישי קטן הייתי מןאחי וצעיר מבני אבי וישימני

3

רועה לצונו ומושל בגדיותיו ידי עשו עוגב ואצבעותי כנור

4

ואשימה ליהוה כבוד אמרתי אני בנפשי ההרים לוא יעדו

5

לו והגבעות לוא יגידו עלו֯ העצים את דברי֯ והצואן את מעשי֯

6

כי מי יגדי ומי ידבר ומי יספר את מעשי֯ אדון הכול ראה אלוה

7

הכול הוא שמע והוא האזין שלח נביאו למושחני את שמואל

8

לגדלני יצאו אחי לקראתו יפי התור ויפי המראה הגבהים בקומתם

9

היפים   בשערם לוא בחר יהוה אלוהים בם וישלח ויקחני

10

מאחר הצואן וימשחני בשמן הקודש וישימני נגיד לעמו ומושל בבני

11

vacat בריתו

12

תחלת גב[ו]רה ה[דו]יד משמשחו נביא אלוהים אזי רא֯[י]תי פלשתי

13

מחרף ממ[ערכות האיוב] אנוכי [     ]  את

14

Here is an English translation:

11Q5 Ps 151A & B
1 of the Lord, who stand in the house of the Lord by night. Lift your hands in the holy place and bless
2 the name of the Lord May the Lord, maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.
blank space
3 A Hallelujah of David son of Jesse. Smaller was I than my brothers And the youngest of the sons of my father
4 And he made me shepherd of his flock And ruler over his kids My hands made a (musical) instrument And my fingers a lyre
5 And I rendered glory to the Lord I said within myself The mountains do not witness
6 to him, Nor do the hills declare; The trees have cherished my words And the flock my works.
7 For who can declare and who can speak, And who can recount the works of the Lord? Everything has God seen,
8 Everything he has heard, and he has heeded. He sent his prophet to annoint me, Samuel,
9 to make me great My brothers went out to meet him, Handsome of figure and handsome of appearance They were tall of stature
10 Handsome by their hair, The Lord God did not choose them. And he sent and took me
11 from behind the flock And annointed me with holy oil, And made me leader to his people And ruler over the sons of
12 his covenant
13 At the beginning of [Dav]id’s p[ow]er after the prophet of God had annointed him Then I s[a]w a Philistine
14 Uttering defiances from the r[anks of the enemy]. I   […]  ’t […]

As you can see, the actual scroll does not divide the Hebrew psalm into poetic lines, but takes up the width of the column with as much text as possible. (By the way, the top of the column [lines 1 and 2] consists of all but the first part of Psalm 134 [LXX Ps 133]).

Comparing Sanders’s line divisions with that of the actual scroll raises an issue common with any analysis of the Dead Sea Scrolls; the issue of editorial reconstruction.  A number of aspects of Sanders’s reconstruction of Psalms 151A and B have been severely criticized by scholars — especially his reconstruction of lines 6-8. That being said, even a quick comparison of LXX Psalm 151 with this text from Qumran suggests some sort of literary relationship between the texts, though as I noted above, the precise nature of that relationship is debated.


Posted in Dead Sea Scrolls, LXX Psalms, Old Testament, Psalm 151 in the Biblical Tradition, Psalms, Psalms Scrolls, Septuagint | 1 Comment »

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 »

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