Friday, January 24, 2014

How the Bible Became Holy

Well this looks interesting. Michael Satlow (at Brown; here's his blog) is about to release a new book on the formation of the Bible with Yale University Press. The blurb sounds provocative.
Drawing on cutting-edge historical and archeological research, he traces the story of how, when, and why Jews and Christians gradually granted authority to texts that had long lay dormant in a dusty temple archive.
I am interested in every aspect of that sentence.
Then, in the first century B.C.E. in Israel, political machinations resulted in the Sadducees assigning legal power to the writings.
And that one.
We see how the world Jesus was born into was largely biblically illiterate and how he knew very little about the texts upon which his apostles would base his spiritual leadership.
And that one.

At the moment I'm reading ch. 2 of N.T. Wright's Paul and the Faithfulness of God, in which Wright is arguing extensively that there was a pretty common 'story' in which Second Temple Jews understood themselves to be living, and that this story was based on the 'story' of scripture as summarized in places like Deuteronomy 27-30, Nehemiah 9, Psalms 105 and 106, etc. I realize Wright (and others) make this same argument in numerous publications, but I believe this is Wright's most extensive presentation of the case. He's got a long section on Second Temple literature (pp. 121-35), and then another long section on the idea of a continuing exile even after Zerubbabel (pp. 139-63; as he notes at 142 n. 273, this is the most extensively he has argued this case). So, anyway, given this as a prominent theme in the literature, I'm intrigued by how Satlow will argue that the first century Jewish world "was largely biblically illiterate." I'm sure he'll have a sophisticated argument, so I look forward to reading it.

[I was alerted to this book by Jim Davila at PaleoJudaica. At least, his post on this book showed up in my reader. But I can't find it on the blog itself. If I could find the post, I would link directly to it.]

UPDATE (27 Jan. 2014): Here's the link to PaleoJudaica.

No comments: