Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Matthew and the Virgin Birth

Merry Christmas!

This is a brief but timely post on Matthew's use of Isaiah 7:14 in the first chapter of his Gospel (1:23). I have posted on this topic before (here, here, and here).

It is often the case that Matthew's use of Isaiah in this passage is interpreted as Matthew's attempt to prove that the Virgin Birth had been predicted in the Old Testament. A very helpful recent post (see also the helpful comments) by T.M. Law takes this line. Also, on the OUP blog Daniel Harrington has a post on the infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke. He also seems to assume that Matthew's point in quoting Isa. was to establish that Jesus fulfills the prediction of a virgin birth. At one point, he says:
Next, he explains how the virginal conception of Jesus through the Holy Spirit fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy (7:14) [...]. 
I wanted to reiterate here--as I have done in this post-that I'm not convinced that this is the correct interpretation of Matthew's intentions. Rather than using Isaiah's prophecy as a prediction of the Virgin Birth, I think it probably makes better sense to interpret Matthew as using Isaiah's prophecy as a prediction of the advent of the Immanuel child, "which translated means God With Us" (1:23).

I wouldn't deny that Matthew also sees in Isaiah a prediction of a Virgin Birth--and John Meade's comments, at T.M. Law's post linked above, regarding the different translations between the LXX and the three later Jewish translators need to be factored into the discussion. But I take it as obvious that the part of the prophecy highlighted by Matthew himself is the name of the child--he is truly God With Us. The fact that the child was conceived by the Holy Spirit (1:20) also shows the Immanuel has finally arrived!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The 'Declartaion' and Theology

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Now, Jefferson goes on to list other 'self-evident truths,' but we'll stop here because these are the ones endowed by our Creator, according to Jefferson.

I'm sure there has been quite a number of theological analyses of the American Declaration of Independence, but I haven't read any of them. (I don't mean political analyses, I mean theological analyses.) I spoke recently with my friend, whose a graduate student focusing on American religious history, and he hadn't heard of such studies either, so maybe it's not so common.

My main question here is: Would Jesus or Paul have agreed with Jefferson that the unalienable rights that Jefferson enumerates here are indeed granted every person by their Creator?

It seems like a question well worth asking, and too little asked by conservative Christians in America, who typically hold the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution, as almost inspired documents granted to the Founding Fathers. This is true even for those Christians who understand that Jefferson was not particularly fond of traditional Christianity (though I know some people who would deny even this point, despite this, inter alia. It seems sort of funny to get our political theology from Jefferson, from whom we would not want to get much other theology.)

I'm sure I should read John Locke to see in what context he put the phrasing that Jefferson drew on for these thoughts. I haven't done that yet.

So, again, would Jesus or Paul have said that God has endowed all of humanity with the unalienable right of pursuing happiness? Or of Liberty, in the sense intended by Jefferson? Or even of Life? By asking the question I don't mean to imply a negative answer, but I do mean that the thoughts of the Founders of Christianity on the unalienable rights are not so clear as are those of the Founding Fathers.

And, as for theology, I think our views on these things have some implications for the role that we see the church playing in modern society. If the church in America is supposed to lead our society back to the vision of the Founding Fathers (I often encounter this sort of rhetoric), how far does this vision cohere with the vision of Jesus and the Apostles?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

On the Origins of the Word "Helpmeet"

Not much time, so this will be brief.

The word "helpmeet" goes back, of course, to the KJV rendering of Gen. 2:18, where it was intended to be a noun "help" and an adjective "meet" (= suitable). On the history of misunderstanding produced by this rendering, this is helpful (pp. 216-17).

But actually the same rendering is found before the KJV (1611), in the Geneva Bible (1587): "an helpe meete for him." This is apparently the first English translation with this rendering. The Bishops Bible (1568) has "an helpe lyke vnto hym," and its predecessors (Wycliffe, Coverdale) rendered generally similarly. 

The first recorded use of the two words as a compound noun is in Dryden's play Marriage a la Mode (1673), Act 4, Scene 2. However, the online text of Dryden's play doesn't contain the word, but gives instead "help-mate," as mentioned in the article linked above. Here's the paragraph as contained in this text.

_Rho._ [_Aside._] She's sick as aptly for my purpose, as if she had contrived it so. Well, if ever woman was a help-mate for man, my spouse is so; for within this hour I received a note from Melantha, that she would meet me this evening in masquerade, in boys' habit, to rejoice with me before she entered into fetters; for I find she loves me better than Palamede, only because he's to be her husband. There's something of antipathy in the word _marriage_ to the nature of love: marriage is the mere ladle of affection, that cools it when 'tis never so fiercely boiling over.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Jerome and His Vulgate

A new article by Görge K. Hasselhoff examines Jerome's relationship with Jews, especially in his creation of the Vulgate. It appears in the journal Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte, which is not one that I regularly peruse, but this one came to my attention because it was noted by Jim Davila.

The article is odd in a number of ways. First, there are sentences such as this:
The Christian Bible falls into two parts, namely the Old and the New Testament. (p. 211)
Ah, yes, I think I've heard of something like that. Or, Hasselhoff tells us that "already in the first century" something called the "New" Testament being created, which "combined the exegesis of the Bible (the 'Old' Testament) and the Jesus narrative" (p. 212). He says that this "New" Testament was "a kind of Midrash."

Second, there are some minor erroneous claims. The author says that Jerome settled in Bethlehem in 388. Actually, it was 386 (according to Fürst, 146; Rebenich, 41; and many others). Maybe that's simply a slip of the pen, though it's hard to tell from his narrative of Jerome's life. A couple of times Hasselhoff says that "Damasus asked Jerome to revise the Latin Bible" (210; cf. p. 215). But the only evidence for a papal commission is in Jerome's Preface to the Gospels, and it refers only to that particular translation. There is no evidence that Damasus asked Jerome to revise anything more than the Gospels. Hasselhoff seems to know about this lack of evidence, since the second time he makes the claim he cites the Preface to the Gospels and nothing further (p. 215 n. 29).

According to Hasselhoff, during Jerome's time as secretary to Damasus in Rome (382-385), he "revised the translations of the New Testament as well as the translations of several Old Testament books, including the Psalms" (215). Actually, only the Psalms. Scholars no longer accept the view--and haven't for many decades--that Jerome revised the New Testament beyond the Gospels; the Vulgate versions for these other books are strictly anonymous, though some scholars have made the case that they are to be attributed to Rufinus the Syrian. As for the Old Testament, the only book he revised during his Roman period was the Psalter.

Hasselhoff continues:
The translation of the Old Testament material, which is part of the Vulgate, is called "iuxta septuagintam" ("according to the Septuagint"). The revision of the rest of the Old Latin Translation was done in Bethlehem, and then not always according to the Greek tradition but sometimes according to the Hebrew tradition, because Jerome expected the Hebrew to be superior to the Greek since it was the first language of the Bible. He call it "Hebraica veritas". (215)
There are several problems with this passage. The only translation from the LXX that is part of the Vulgate is the Psalter. Jerome did translate some of books from the LXX, namely Job, Chronicles, and the Books of Solomon. But these translations are not extant (except for Job), much less are they a part of the Vulgate.  Moreover, he worked on all of these in Bethlehem, none at Rome. As I said earlier, of the Old Testament he did only the Psalter at Rome. Jerome may have revised more of the OT based on the LXX beyond the Psalter, Job, Chronicles, and Books of Solomon, as he himself claims, but we have neither the translation nor the prefaces to the translation to substantiate that claim. The Latin revision of the LXX that Jerome did work on is called the iuxta LXX, but it's not in the Vulgate (except for the Psalter). All of this is now common knowledge to Jerome scholars; a survey book like the one by Rebenich covers the ground well.

The last bit of the second sentence above is simply baffling. Does Hasselhoff not know that Jerome translated (or, at least, claimed to have translated) the entire Hebrew Bible from the hebraica veritas? How could he not know that? Maybe he's advocating a revisionist view such that Jerome translated only a portion from the Hebrew and worked mostly from the Greek, but that is not obvious, and he cites no one for these statements. Anyway, it is certainly misleading to say that he translated "sometimes according to the Hebrew tradition." In fact, he took 15 years (391-406) doing precisely that. That's what the Vulgate OT is--a translation from the Hebrew (except, again, for the Psalter). That's why it was revolutionary; that's why Jerome's contemporaries were so bothered by it.

I said Hasselhoff does not cite anything here. Actually, he gives a note to the term hebraica veritas, in which he claims that Christoph Markschies (175-76) "has shown that Jerome after his quarrels with Augustine and Rufinus more or less seems to have abandoned that particular term" (215 n. 30). No, Markschies did not claim that. And the evidence cannot support the contention. Jerome uses the term plenty in his latest biblical commentaries, for instance.

Later, Hasselhoff discusses Jerome's translations of Tobit and Judith (216-18). This is actually an area to which I have given quite a bit of thought, recently (see, e.g., here). I'll just point out a few bits where Hasselhoff disagrees with standard scholarship but does not seem to realize it (at least he cites nothing that suggests he does). He dates the translation of Judith to some years after the translation of Tobit, though the scholarly trend definitely favors dating them contemporaneously. Also, he dates the translation of Tobit (but not Judith) to very early in his career, before the translation of Daniel. Scholars typically date the Vulgate Tobit (and Judith) to around the turn of the fifth century (between 395-405).

Finally, and most surprisingly, Hasselhoff does not seem to have any familiarity with Jerome's position on the Old Testament canon (another issue to which I have devoted some attention; see here). The very last paragraph of the article is this:
A second meaning related to Hebraica veritas was the questioning of the canon of the Septuagint because it differed from the Hebrew versions. Jerome's response to that challenge was bipartite. On the one hand, he searched for Semitic versions of only Greek-transmitted writings, as I demonstrated with the translation of the Book of Tobit. But, on the other hand, we must make note of Jerome's cowardice in not following through on the consequences of his insight, for example, by not excluding the so-called apocrypha, i.e., the additions to the Septuagint. They remained a part of Jerome's Bible translation. (221)
In what way did they remain a part of Jerome's Bible translation? Well, certainly, the deuterocanonical books are in the Vulgate now, but we surely cannot attribute this to Jerome. Later editors of the Vulgate included these books, and often not Jerome's versions of them, because Jerome did not translate any of them except for Tobit and Judith (even these are often found in Vulgate manuscripts in their VL form). How this can go back to some decision by Jerome, or how we can ascribe it to Jerome's "cowardice," is beyond me. Jerome made quite clear in his Prologus Galeatus that he did not include the deuterocanonical books in the canon, and I think he makes it fairly clear in his Preface to Tobit and Preface to Judith that he did not consider these two books canonical (see, e.g., here). 

I hate that this post has been mostly negative, but I wanted to respond to some aspects of this article that made it odd, in my opinion. I will use some aspects of the article, especially his speculations about Jerome's Tobit on p. 217, which I found somewhat helpful and parallel to some of my own thoughts on the matter.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Pronunciation of Greek

Here is a report of a paper delivered in Cambridge by Michael P. Theophilos. The paper argues in favor of using Modern Greek pronunciation in teaching New Testament Greek.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Athanasius and the Term "Apocrypha"

Just a quick note of an interesting tidbit. There seems to be no instance in which Athanasius uses the term 'apocrypha' to mean what we think that term should mean (= non-canonical literature) outside of his famous 39th Festal Letter.

I ran a TLG search for forms of the word "apocrypha" in Athanasius, which returned 19 hits. But more than half of these were related to spurious works of Athanasius. Of the eight hits from legitimate works from Athanasius, 3 were from his Festal Letter, one was from another letter called Epistula ad episcopos Aegypti et Libyae, and four were from his Expositions of the Psalms (PG 27).

The one from the Epistula ad episcopos Aegyti et Libyae is just a quotation of Colossians 2:3, "in whom are hidden (ἀπόκρυφοι) all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."

The four from the Expositions of the Psalms all carry the meaning "hidden" (not about a book) and two are just quoting the psalm under discussion (LXX Psa. 30:21; 80:8; the others are in discussions of LXX Psa. 16:14; 32:11)

The 39th Festal Letter actually uses the word "apocrypha" ten times, but only three of these are preserved in Greek. Most of the letter is preserved in Coptic. For a full translation of the letter, see the recent article by David Brakke in HTR 2010. The appearances of the word apocrypha in this letter, accordinng to the paragraph divisions employed by Brakke, are in paragraphs 15, 16, 21 (3x), 22, 26, 27, 28, 32. The first three of these are the ones preserved in Greek.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Rufinus on Wisdom

In an earlier post, I drew attention to Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 4.22.9, in which Eusebius informs his readers that some ancient Christian writers gave to the canonical Book of Proverbs the alternative title "All-virtuous Wisdom." Here's the Greek and the LCL translation by K. Lake:
οὐ μόνος δὲ οὗτος, καὶ Εἰρηναῖος δὲ καὶ ὁ πᾶς τῶν ἀρχαίων χορὸς πανάρετον Σοφίαν τὰς Σολομῶνος Παροιμίας ἐκάλουν.
And not only he [= Hegesippus] but also Irenaeus and the whole company of the ancients called the Proverbs the All-virtuous Wisdom.
I don't know why Lake doesn't translate Σολομῶνος. It should be "called the Proverbs of Solomon the All-virtuous Wisdom."

I have just had occasion to notice Rufinus' translation of this statement, it is diverges quite significantly from the Greek. My English translation will mimic the LCL translation above except where the Latin will not permit it. The major divergence is underlined.
verum et hic ipse et Irenaeus et omnis antiquorum chorus librum, qui adtitulatur Sapientia, Salomonis dixerunt, sicut et Proverbia et cetera.
And not only  he but also Irenaeus and the whole company of the ancients said that the book titled 'Wisdom' is Solomon's, just like Proverbs and the others.
I'm not sure what to make of this. Rufinus himself did not regard the Book of Wisdom to be by Solomon and he considered it extra-canonical ("ecclesiastical"). So, I don't think his views on Wisdom would have motivated him to alter the text in this way. I can only imagine that either he had a different Greek text in front of him, his own Latin text has suffered in transmission--but neither of these possibilities receives any support from the apparatus to the major critical edition (pp. 372-73)--or he has misunderstood the Greek. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Cult Centralization in Deuteronomy

This post is the third in a series considering the law of centralization in Deuteronomy. The first post gave attention to a new argument by Adrian Schenker that the wording of the law was past tense (the place which the Lord has chosen), as reflected now in the Samaritan Pentateuch and some versional manuscripts, rather than future (the place which the Lord will choose), as reflected in the Masoretic Text and the vast majority of Greek manuscripts. The second post examined Stefan Schorch's argument in which he attempted to draw out the implications of this for the origins of Deuteronomy. I have found Schenker's textual argument to be quite compelling, but I have not found Schorch's ideas about the origins of Deuteronomy to be quite as well formulated. This post is my attempt to draw together some indications for the nature of the centralization law in Deuteronomy and its implications for the book's origins.

[For bibliography related to this post, go to the bottom of the first post in the series.]

Both Schorch and Schenker think that Deuteronomy originally was written in the North as part of a program to centralize worship around Gerizim. This is because the law of centralization, first articulated at Deut. 12:5, points within the Book of Deuteronomy to the specification of a place of worship found in 27:4, where the place is named as Gerizim (in the original text, preserved now in the Samaritan Pentateuch). Schorch then argues that an Israelite carried Deuteronomy with him to the South when the Assyrians destroyed Israel in the eighth century BCE, and that it achieved an authoritative position there rather early. Both Schenker and Schorch argue that the proto-MT version of Deuteronomy was not formed until the word Gerizim was replaced with Ebal in 27:4 and the centralization formula was transferred from past tense to future tense as part of Hasmonean-era dating. So, we are to imagine Deuteronomy holding an authoritative place among Jews for perhaps 500 years with the original wording intact (past tense in centralization formula, Gerizim rather than Ebal in 27:4).

This all sounds fine to me, as long as we do not force Deuteronomy's centralization formula to mean that only one sanctuary would be (or, rather, had been) chosen by God for all of time. As Schorch realizes, that cannot be how it was received in Judah. Rather, Judeans apparently understood Deuteronomy to be indicating that God would choose a series of sites for cult centralization, beginning perhaps at Gerizim, culminating in Jerusalem.

In this post I wont present my full argument for this reading. But let me just point to a few pieces of data which Schorch himself acknowledges. (1) Nehemiah 1:9 understands the past tense choice of God to focus, at least at this later time, on Jerusalem, even though Gerizim was apparently still in the text at 27:4 (see Schenker's German article, p. 115; Schorch, p. 32). (2) Josiah's effort to centralize cultic activity at Jerusalem (2Kings 23) was related in some ways to the similar requirement in Deuteronomy, so it could not have been understood as limiting worship to Gerizim. (3) Jeremiah 7:12 uses the same Deuteronomic formula of God's causing his name to dwell somewhere, but uses it in reference to Shiloh, as one in a series of cultic places chosen by God. (4) Other passages, such as Psa 78:60-68 and 2Kings 23:27 also seem to have in mind a series of chosen places (see Schorch, p. 33; cf. also von Rad, p. 94).

If Deuteronomy was received in this way in Judah, it seems curious to me that we would insist that it originally referred not to a series but to just one specific location which would function as God's chosen place for all time, that being Gerizim. As I say, maybe I'll have an opportunity at a later date to present a full argument against this view.

Schenker and Shorch both think the text was edited by Hasmonean-era scribes in an effort to minimize any perceived legitimacy toward the Samaritan cult on Gerizim, and thus we have the proto-MT form of Deuteronomy. Sounds right to me.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gerizim and the Origins of Deuteronomy

This post takes up the issues raised in a previous post from a few days ago. You should probably read that one before continuing here.

After some reflection, I am prepared to accept Schenker's argument that the original LXX and the original Hebrew text of Deuteronomy featured past tense verbs for God's choice of a place for his name, and that Deut. 27:4 had the name Gerizim rather than Ebal, both now reflected in the Samaritan Pentateuch and some versional manuscripts but not in the Masoretic Text or the main Greek tradition (as in Wevers' edition of LXX Deuteronomy). To be sure, this latter point--Gerizim in place of Ebal--is more widely accepted by scholars, as I pointed out in the previous post. Schenker himself argues in favor of it more extensively in his second article (the German one) listed last time in the bibliography (pp. 105-8). By the way, in this same article, Schenker argues persuasively (and against Tov and others) that Pap. Giessen 19, a Greek manuscript of Deuteronomy from the fifth or sixth century CE, reflects a Samaritan provenance and is probably related to the Samareitikon, and thus is not a witness of the LXX (pp. 108-13).

As for the first point--past tense of "choose" rather than future--here is how Stefan Schorch summarizes Schenker's argument: 
However Adrian Schenker has pointed out in two recent articles that the reading בחר is not only found in the Samaritan Pentateuch, but is attested by some Greek Septuagint manuscripts, too, as well as by the Coptic and the Latin secondary translations of the Old Greek text of the Pentateuch. This indicates that the Hebrew Vorlage of the Old Greek translation of Deuteronomy read בחר, and in terms of textual criticism בחר is therefore certainly the original reading, while the Masoretic reading יבחר is secondary, being an ideological and maybe even an anti-Samaritan correction. (p. 32)
[For the reference to Schorch's article, see the bibliography from the previous post. The article is available here.]

But what does this mean about the origins of Deuteronomy?  Schenker himself does not deal extensively with the question, but at the end of his second article he indicates his thoughts on the matter. He says that the originality of the past tense for "choose" and the reading Gerizim in Deut. 27:4
point to a discrete but unmistakable mention of the Gerizim sanctuary in the earliest recoverable text of Deuteronomy. This strengthens the view that Deuteronomy was located originally in Ephraim-Israel. (p. 118)
This is because Schenker seems to interpret the "law of centralization" in Deuteronomy as pointing toward a solitary sanctuary which would for all time serve as the focus of Israel's worship (see his first article, p. 349). 

Schorch develops these implications further in his article referenced above. He imagines that Deuteronomy originated in the North and traveled South in the late eighth century BCE.
The only context within which the literary ambitions of Deut 27:4-8 are entirely understandable seems to be the cult on Mount Gerizim, with the author of the text being a follower of the Gerizim cult, and one may even be inclined to say: a proto-Samaritan. Thus, if we come back to our initial question regarding the origin of Deuteronomy, the altar law of Deut 27 becomes a new point of departure for approaching this problem and solving it. Against Albrecht Alt, who spoke only of Deut 12-26 when he suggested a Northern origin of Deuteronomy, chapter 27 is obviously of Northern origin, too. And most obviously, the inclusion of this chapter must have occurred before Deuteronomy became accepted in Judah. This occurred most probably during the 7th century BCE, since at least some of the core ideas of Deuteronomy seem to have been known in Judah in the late 7th century. Given this observation, the most probable explanation for Deuteronomy's southward journey seems to be the Assyrian conquest in the late 8th century BCE, when large parts of the Northern elite flew to the South. (pp. 29-30)
That all makes some sense, but then how in the world did Deuteronomy come to be accepted as scripture in late seventh-century Judah--not to mention a precipitating factor in a religious reform that had one of its goals the centralization of the cult in Jerusalem--when this very document explicitly calls for cult centralization at the Northern shrine of Gerizim? Certainly Schorch recognizes the problem:
We may imagine that the strong Deuteronomic references to the Gerizim cult must have posed a serious challenge to Judeans. Therefore, we will have to answer the question why and how Deuteronomy was adopted in the South. (p. 30)
Schorch proposes two answers (pp. 30-31). The first is that book itself had an inherent authority that demanded acceptance. The second is that the reception of Deuteronomy in the South involved a "re-contextualization" of the book. Schorch's first answer is completley unsatisfying, but the second one demands a little more attention, and Schorch develops it in more detail.

Schorch says that the re-contextualization involved connecting Deuteronomy to the Deuteronomistic History with its emphasis on Jerusalem, e.g., in 1Kings 8:16 (p. 31). Deuteronomy itself, though, still had the past tense of the word "choose" in the centralization formula (pp. 31-32) and still had the word Gerizim in Deut. 27:4. With these two aspects of Deuteronomy still in place, Nehemiah 1:8-9 quoted the centralization formula, complete with past tense of "choose," and applied it to Jerusalem, even though Gerizim was in the text of Deuteronomy. Schorch actually says that this implies that Nehemiah attests the idea of the predestination of Jerusalem even at the time of Moses (p. 32).

Schorch also argues that some sources attest "the concept of the succession of several chosen places," culminating in Jeruslaem (p. 33). Examples are found in Psalm 78:60-68; 2Kings 23:27; Jeremiah 7:14-16.
Following this succession theory, Judeans could accept that Mount Gerizim was one of the chosen places of the past, while Jerusalem was the chosen place of the present and the future. (p. 33)
According to Schorch, no one thought this was a problem until the late Second Temple period, when the editors of the Masoretic Text altered these textual elements (past tense of "choose" and Gerizim) out of anti-Samaritan ideology. 
Thus, the textual changes from בחר to יבחר in the centralization formula and from "Gerizim" to "Ebla" in Deut 27:4 seem to have taken place within the contexts of an intensified exegetical interest in the centralization formula and the total delegitimation of Mount Gerizim and the proto-Samaritan claims to its sanctity. (p. 35)
All of this makes a great deal of sense. But why, then, does Schorch insist Deuteronomy originally could not have meant what Nehemiah 1:9; Psalm 78:60-68; 2Kings 23:27; and Jeremiah 7:14-16 think Deuteronomy meant? That is, Schorch asserts that the centralization formula in Deuteronomy originally pointed toward the exclusive and permanent sanctuary at Gerizim. Whereas Gerhard von Rad had suggested that the centralization formula actually envisages a series of cultic places, according to Schorch, this cannot be the original meaning of Deuteronomy "due to the Deuteronomic concept that Israel's entry into the chosen land is the end of wandering and the beginning of a period of general rest" (p. 25).


I think a lot of this work by Schenker and Schorch is very helpful, and certainly changes the way we look at some aspects of Deuteronomy, including its call for centralization of cultic activity. But it doesn't seem to me that Schorch, especially, has quite hit upon the implications of the textual work for the origins of Deuteronomy. In a later post I'll offer some reflections on the direction I think these data point. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Allan McNicol Has Been Here

It's already been a couple of weeks since we had this year's JPL lectures with Allan McNicol, and I have failed to reflect on them. We enjoyed the day a great deal, but unfortunately Dr. McNicol's duties in Austin prevented his staying with us any longer than about 24 hours.

You can see his two main academic lectures at the following links. They were very well received. He also did a lunch-time chat about his own academic and spiritual life and took questions from the assembled students, faculty, and guests during that time. I was glad to get to know Dr. McNicol and I look forward to seeing him again in Chicago at the SBL meeting.

Jack P. Lewis Lectures 2012 at Heritage Christian University

Allan McNicol, "The Master Story of Scripture"

Lecture 1: The Preservation of God's Endangered Promises

Lecture 2: The Renewal of Hope in the Fulfillment of God's Endangered Promises

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Place Where God's Name Dwells

In his recent book on The Formation of the Hebrew Bible, David Carr makes use of recent work by Adrian Schenker in arguing that the Masoretic Text (MT) of Deuteronomy exhibits Hasmonean-era editing in two main ways: (1) the frequently-occurring formula, "the place where God will choose for his name to dwell" originally had the past tense "has chosen"; and (2) the reference to Mount Ebal in Deut. 27:4 originally read Mount Gerizim. Thus, in the original text of Deuteronomy, the place that the Lord "has chosen" is Gerizim, and it was only in the late editing of the book that the formula became future and looked forward to the selection of Jerusalem as the sacred site, as the MT has it. The original text is now preserved in the Samaritan Pentateuch and in some Greek, Latin, and Coptic witnesses (see below). According to Carr:
The original referents to Gerizim in Deuteronomy make sense as relatively early portions of the text, centering the inscription of the Torah in the heartland of the Israelite tribes and ultimately leading to a covenant ceremony at Gerizim and Ebal (Deut 27:12-13). The apparent alterations in the proto-MT of Deuteronomy, in turn, are best set in the context of the destruction of the sanctuary at Mount Gerizim by the Hasmonean John Hyrcanus in 128 BCE. (p. 168)
Now, this idea is fairly new. The standard view is that the Samaritan Pentateuch changed the tense of the verb "choose" to past tense, whereas the original reading in the future was preserved in the MT. The Samaritans did this to turn the focus of Deuteronomy away from Jerusalem and toward their sacred site of Shechem, near Gerizim. This latter idea is the one endorsed, for instance, by Emanuel Tov in the latest edition of his Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible: the Samaritans made this change because, "from the Samaritan perspective, Schechem had already been chosen at the time of the patriarchs (Gen 12:6; Gen 33:18-20), and therefore they felt a need to change the tense" away from the future of the Masoretic Text, which alludes to Jerusalem. (See p. 88 of Tov's 3rd ed.; the wording is only slightly changed from the 2nd ed. [2001], p. 94.) Note that Tov does accept the reading "Gerizim" in Deut. 27:4, or, at least, he says "it should probably be considered non-sectarian and possibly original" (3rd ed., p. 88 n. 140). On this point, see also Carmel McCarthy's BHQ edition of Deuteronomy (pp. 122*-123*) and this monograph by Magnar Kartveit, pp. 300-5.

What is the evidence adduced by Schenker as he seeks to overturn scholarly orthodoxy about the original tense of the verb in the deuteronomic formula? In this post I will summarize Schenker's argument found in his first essay on the topic cited at the bottom of this post. There I also cite a few other works where the idea is discussed and accepted. All page references in this post refer to Schenker's first essay.

Summary of Schenker's Argument

According to Schenker, there are 21 total occurrences in the Book of Deuteornomy of the formula about God's choosing a place to cause his name to dwell. This is how Schenker breaks down the various ways the formula is worded:
  1. the place which the Lord will choose [or: has chosen] to cause his name to dwell (12:11; 14:23; 16:2, 6, 11; 26:2)
  2. the place which the Lord will choose [or: has chosen] to place his name (12:21; 14:24; cf. 12:5, combining both of these formulations)
  3. the place which the Lord will choose [or: has chosen] (12:14, 18, 26; 14:25; 15:20; 16:7, 15, 16; 17:8, 10; 18:6; 31:11). 
As I mentioned earlier, scholars have long known that the Samaritan Pentateuch exhibits the past tense "has chosen" in every occurrence of this formula, but scholars have typically seen that as a characteristic "Samaritan" feature of their text reflecting their peculiar ideology. It is this idea that Schenker wants to challenge. He does this by looking at some important versional evidence and finding it rather more complicated than previous analysis would allow. Unfortunately, examination of the Dead Sea Scrolls does not help since not a single one of these 21 passages is extant among the 30 or so Deuteronomy scrolls from Qumran. (The only one that's close is 14:25, but the beginning of the word for "choose" is missing so it is unclear if it's perfect or imperfect.)

The Gottingen edition of Greek Deuteronomy, edited by John William Wevers, always gives the future of "choose" in the text, but it occasionally cites variant readings attesting the aorist or similar.

The following evidence is assembled by Schenker in support of the originality of the past tense reading reflected now in the Samaritan Pentateuch.
  • Nehemiah 1:9, which combines a citation of Deut. 30:4 with the formula under examination, and attests that formula in the past tense (has chosen).
  • Deut 12:5--LXX ms 72 and Bohairic version of LXX
  • 12:11, 26--Bohairic editions
  • 12:14--one Bohairic ms
  • 12:21--two Sahidic witnesses. Schenker stresses that of the five occurrences of our formula in Deut. 12, these same mss attest the future for the other four, but for this one occurrence, the formula is not assimilated to the future but is left in the past. 
  • 14:23(22)--LXX ms 72, four Bohairic mss.
  • 14:24(23) and 14:25(24)--LXX ms 72 and all Bohairic mss. 
  • 16:2--LXX ms 16, one ms of the Vetus Latina (VL)
  • 16:7--two Bohairic mss and a ms of the VL
  • 17:8--all but one Bohairic ms
  • 17:10--VL, according to Lucifer of Calgari, and a Sahidic ms.
Schenker summarizes this evidence with the following points (pp. 345-7):
  1. Of the 21 appearances of the formula in Deuteronomy, 11 are attested in the past tense by one or two witnesses. [Actually, I count 12 such cases. For some reason Schenker omits from the reckoning here 12:14, which he had earlier discussed on pp. 342-3. It seems to be the only case in which only a single manuscript attests the reading, but Schenker says in his summary that he is talking about situations in which "un ou deux témoins offrent le verbe au passé" (p. 345). UPDATE: I notice that this is corrected in Schenker's second article listed below, where he does talk about 12 passages (p. 114).]
  2. In five of these cases there is the support of 2 witnesses (12:5; 14:24(23), 25(24); 16:2; 17:10). Schenker would also add 14:23(22) and 16:7. 
  3. In each witness, "the passages offering the verb conjugated in the preterite are the minority in the face of others with the future" (p. 345). For instance, for LXX ms 72, the formula has the future in all but four occurrences, where it has the past. Similarly, LXX ms 16 attests the preterite only once. The VL gives the perfect elegit three times (16:2, 7; 17:10). Schenker also gives statistics for the Bohairic and Sahidic. He concludes this point: "Thus this reading has a good chance of being original in each of the cases where it is encountered" (p. 346). 
  4. The relevant textual witnesses (i.e., the Bohairic, Sahadic, and VL) often exhibit an early, pre-Origenian text. LXX ms 72 gives a mixed text, and LXX ms 16 gives a text characteristic of the catenae
  5. These five witnesses (LXX mss 72 and 16, VL, Bohairic, Sahadic) are not dependent on the Samaritan Pentateuch but reflect the LXX. 
This leads to five further points about the tense of the verb in our deuteronomic formula in the LXX(pp. 347-8).
  1. The 11 readings of the verb in the past tense are attested by five independent witnesses. 
  2. Because the reading is always the minority among its 21 appearances in whatever textual witness, it has a good chance of being more original than the majority reading. "In fact, because of the formulaic character of the context, pressure is exerted on the copyists in the direction of identical formulation each time and not toward diversification, for which the context offers no motive whatsoever" (p. 347). 
  3. The minority reading diverges from the Masoretic Text, whereas the tendency in the transmission of the LXX was to assimilate its readings to the MT. 
  4. The Samaritan Pentateuch exerted no influence on the LXX or on the five witnesses attesting the past tense, so that these witnesses and the Samaritan Pentateuch confirm one another. 
  5. The semi-quotation of the formula in Nehemiah 1:9 supports seeing the past tense as original. 
En résumé, la  lxx originale a probablement lu au 3e s. av. J.-Chr. le verbe à l’accompli : « le lieu que le Seigneur a choisi », puisqu’elle a trouvé cette forme du verbe dans son modèle hébreu. Elle atteste ainsi la leçon du Sam comme présamaritaine. L’accompli du verbe dans cette formule deutéronomique n’est pas une leçon secondaire créée par les Samaritains. (p. 348)
Since Schenker thus concludes that the original LXX and its Vorlage contained the past tense form, he now investigates whether this was the original form of the Hebrew text. Connecting the "law of centralization" in Deuteronomy (i.e., the law of which our formula is an intimate part; cf. Deut. 12:5) to the command to build an altar on a mountain within the Promise Land in Deut. 27:4-7 (whether that mountain is Ebal or, as Schenker thinks, Gerizim; see beginning of this post), he concludes that the past tense makes most sense because within the context of Deuteronomy, the place that the Lord puts his name is not Jerusalem (which will become the sacred city only in 2Sam 24) but this particular mountain mentioned in the book itself.

Thus, the MT's future tense in our formula is the ideological correction (and not the Samaritan Pentateuch's past tense) to allow for the reference to now be to Jerusalem, chosen by God in the future from the perspective of Deuteronomy. This change in the MT would have taken place, according to Schenker, after the translation of the LXX in the early third century, since this Alexandrian translation probably used Hebrew Vorlagen from Jerusalem and approved by the Jewish leadership there (p. 350). Very early the LXX was revised toward the revised Hebrew text, so that the non-revised Greek wording survived in only a few marginal witnesses.

For the idea discussed above, see especially the first essay by Schenker. He and Stefan Schorch have developed the idea in further essays, and it has been accepted by David Carr, as noted above.

Adrian Schenker, "Le Seigneur choisira-t-il le lieu de son nom ou l’a-t-il choisi? l’apport de la Bible grecque ancienne à l’histoire du texte samaritain et massorétique.” Pages 339–51 in Scripture in Transition: Essays on Septuagint, Hebrew Bible, and Dead Sea Scrolls in Honour of Raija Sollamo. Edited by Anssi Voitila and Jutta Jokiranta. Leiden: Brill, 2008. (full text available here)

---. “Textgeschichtliches zum Samaritanischen Pentateuch und Samareitikon: Zur Textgeschichte des Pentateuchs im 2. Jh. v.Chr.” Pages 105–21 in Samaritans: Past and Present. Current Studies. Edited by Menahem Mor and Friederich V. Reiterer. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2010. (book preview here)

Stefan Schorch. “The Samaritan Version of Deuteronomy and the Origin of Deuteronomy.” Pages 23–37 in Samaria, Samarians, Samaritans: Studies on Bible, History and Linguistics. Edited by József Zsengellér. Berling: de Gruyter, 2011. (full text available here)

David Carr, The Formation of the Hebrew Bible: A New Reconstruction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.(book preview here)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The OT Food Laws and Gen. 1

I have recently been reading some commentaries on Deuteronomy 14, one of the two OT chapters (the other being Leviticus 11) detailing the laws of kashrut regarding the foods that the Israelites were permitted to eat. Several of the commentators have noted that the division of animals into (1) land animals, (2) water animals, and (3) air animals has a connection with the similar division articulated in Gen. 1. In the minds of these commentators, this is apparently supposed to be significant, and perhaps demonstrate a shared ideology or some such.

But that seems rather silly. Classifying animals by their habitation seems a rather obvious way to go about classifying animals, and then land, sea, and sky are the obvious distinctions among animal habitations. Where else do animals live but on land, in the sea, and in the sky? Drawing a connection between Deut. 14 (or Lev. 11) and Gen. 1 based on this would be like connecting two different chapters that both attest that grass is green.

Am I overlooking something? Is this more significant than I think?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lewis Lectures 2012 Almost Here

I'm excited about the upcoming Jack P. Lewis Lectures for 2012 that will be hosted by Heritage Christian University, where I work, next Thursday, Nov. 4, at 10am and at 1pm, with lunch between.

This year we're having Allan McNicol come from Austin Graduate School of Theology. Dr. McNicol is well-known for his work on the Gospels and the Book of Revelation, on which he recently published a monograph. He has taught at Austin Grad. for most of his career after getting his PhD from Vanderbilt. He has produced many writings aimed at the church, and for that I am especially appreciative of him. He has important things to say about ecclesiology that Christians in our shared fellowship--the Churches of Christ--need to hear. A sampling of these writings is available on his website.

Dr. McNicol's topic for the JPL Lectures will involve his interest in Revelation and his work on ecclesiology. It should be a great deal of fun. If you're in the Florence, Alabama area next Thursday, please drop by. I'm sure it will be a blessing to you.

UPDATE (27 Sept. 2012): Here's a link with more information. 

A Literal Reading of Genesis 1

I am not going to offer what the title of this post seems to promise. Instead, I'm just going to point to another couple of posts on the topic by some other authors. They reflect on what it means to read texts "literally," and Genesis 1 just happens to be the example they use. First, Mike Heiser asks, "Who's the Literalist Now?" His post prompted further reflections by Chris Heard, who has been reading a lot of Augustine on Genesis lately, which, of course, is always a good idea. So, how did Augustine interpret Genesis 1 "literally" (which he claims to be doing)? Chris Heard has the scoop.

This illustrates once again that it pays to read ancient authors, because what some of us might take for granted as the obvious meaning of the text might not be so obvious to Christians throughout the centuries. Even if we don't adopt pre-critical interpretations, familiarity with these interpretations enables us to ask questions we might not have thought of asking, or might not have felt comfortable asking.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


This past Thursday, I delivered a chapel speech at our school on the Chalcedonian Creed. I am far from an expert in this area, and I am not a part of a church that ascribes much value to the ancient creeds. So this was a bit of a crash course for me in what the creed was and how it came about. To that end, I used with much profit the first volume of Everett Ferguson's Church History. I prepared a handout for the occasion, and as I am unlikely to use it much in the future, I thought I'd post it here in case it might be of use to someone, and so I might find it again if I happen to need it. Here it is.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Wife of Jesus

Somehow I managed not to hear anything about this yesterday, but this morning my Google Reader was brimming with posts about the recent discovery by Karen King (prof. at Harvard Divinity School) of a (possibly) 4th-century Coptic fragment wherein Jesus mentions "my wife".

On the fragment itself, Mark Goodacre has a typically excellent post, with links to pictures of the fragment and much more information. One of the links he includes is to the Harvard Divinity press release, which includes an advance copy of the scholarly paper by Prof. King to be published in Harvard Theological Review. The site also has a transcription and translation of the fragment.

You can get a lot of the story from Jim Davila's post, where he excerpts the Boston Globe's coverage and provides comments. Prov. Davila is "skeptical" of the authenticity of the fragment, though he does not rule out its authenticity and hopes that it is genuine. Of course, he and others know that this fragment can provide no reliable information on the actual marital status of the historical Jesus, it can only tell us how this was viewed by some Christians in later (2nd century? 4th century?) tradition.

As for the question of whether Jesus was married or not, Jim Davila again provides some helpful comments in a post from a few years ago responding to this theme in The DaVinci Code. Here's an excerpt from that older post.
So Jesus' marital status is a mystery. We would expect, a priori, that he would have been married, but the tradition tells us nothing about his wife, if he had one, and I can think of no good reason the Gospel writers would have wanted to hide the fact if he was married. But it would have been unusual, although not unprecedented for a Jewish man of that period to be celibate. Like the Essenes, he may have renounced marriage for the sake of his ministry. Most people assume that this is the case.
UPDATE (20 Sept. 2012): Jim Davila expresses more reservations about the authenticity of the fragment here.  Also, Christian Askeland reports the general impression at the International Association of Coptic Studies conference, now on-going, and outlines several peculiarities about the fragment that may indicate that it is a fake.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Simon Cephas Peter

This post takes up the discussion from yesterday. You'll probably want to look over that post before reading this one.

There are several interesting features about the NT data regarding Peter's names.

Matthew does not have a story about Jesus giving Peter his nickname, unless Matt. 16:18 serves that function (cf. 4:18; 10:2). But other than that single verse, Jesus in Matthew never calls him Peter, but only Simon, though he only calls him Simon a couple times (16:17; 17:25). Peter does not reappear in Matthew's Gospel after his denials in ch. 26. In other words, he does not feature in chs. 27-28 at all, except by implication as part of the Eleven disciples mentioned in 28:7, 8, 10 ("brethren"; or is this literally Jesus' brothers?), 16.

Mark never calls him Simon after he receives the name "Peter" (3:16) until Jesus finds him asleep in Gethsemane (14:37). The verse is very striking because the narrator uses the name Peter, and Jesus uses the name Simon, and these two words appear back-to-back in the Greek (and English).
He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour?
On the other hand, this is apparently related to the entire phenomenon of the name for Peter typically used by Jesus, which is actually (and counter-intuitively) Simon. In Mark, Jesus directly addresses Peter by name only once, here in Gethsemane, calling him Simon (14:37). Mark does report that it was Jesus who gave Peter his nickname (3:16). Also, in contrast to Matthew, Peter does make a brief appearance by name (in the mouths of the angels) following the resurrection (16:7).

Luke reports that Jesus gave Peter his nickname (6:14). After that, he is not called "Simon" again until Jesus says:
"Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat" (22:31)
But, after the resurrection, the disciples are still calling him Simon, when they say:
They were saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!" (24:34)

Like Mark and unlike Matthew, Luke has Peter put in a brief named appearance following the resurrection (24:12, 34). Jesus addresses Peter by name as Simon (22:31) and as Peter (22:34). These are the only times in Luke that Jesus calls Peter by name, and they are both within three verses of each other, and they're two different names. And, as I said, the "Eleven" mention him as Simon in 24:34.

John is interesting, too. The references to Peter by his birth-name are most numerous in the Fourth Gospel, though almost always with the double name Simon Peter (see below). This is also the only Gospel that identifies the father of Judas Iscariot as Simon (6:71; 13:2, 26). I don't know if there is anything to that.

John alone among the Gospels actually preserves a story of Jesus giving Peter a nickname, and John uses the Aramaic form of the name, Cephas (1:42). Nevertheless, the rest of the Gospel uses the name Peter or Simon Peter. Jesus never again in John addresses Peter by his nickname. He addresses him as Simon a few times (1:42; 21:15, 16, 17). John uses the form Simon Peter much more than the other Gospels. This double name appears in John 17x, whereas he uses the single name Simon only 5x, four of which are in the mouth of Jesus (1:42; 21:15, 16, 17; the fifth occurrence is 1:41, before the receipt of the nickname), and the single name Peter 15x (1:44; 13:8, 37; 18:11, 16, 17, 18, 26, 27; 20:3, 4; 21:7, 17, 20, 21).

All four Gospels display in their narrative the effect of Jesus' nickname. Matthew twice mentions that Simon is also called Peter (4:18; 10:2), but he otherwise always calls him Peter, except in 16:16 when the narrator calls him Simon Peter, and twice Jesus calls him Simon (16:17; 17:25). Marks introduces Peter under the name Simon (1:16, 29, 30, 36; 3:16), but when he receives the nickname in 3:16, he is thereafter only Peter, until Jesus calls him Simon in Gethsemane (14:37). Luke calls him Simon several times when he first appears in the Gospel (4:38, 5:3, 4, 5, 8 ["Simon Peter"], 10; 6:14), but after he is named Peter in 6:14, he retains that name until Jesus refers to him as Simon in 22:31, just as the "Eleven" also do in 24:34. When Peter is introduced in John, it is as Simon Peter (1:40) or Simon (1:41), but Simon never appears again after Jesus gives him the name Peter in 1:42, except in the double name Simon Peter (17x, by the narrator) and in the mouth of Jesus (21:15, 16, 17). In none of the Gospels is he simply Peter until after the name change is reported.

Peter is the preferred way for the narrators to refer to him in each of the Gospels and in Acts. This seems to apply even to the Fourth Gospel, though the double name Simon Peter actually appears more often. This seems to be editorial, for whatever reason, but the narrator does also slip into calling him simply Peter quite a bit. The narrator never slips into calling him simply Simon after the name change. Simon Peter is also used in Matt. 16:16, where it seems to prepare the way for the two different uses of Peter's name by Jesus (Simon, 16:17; Peter, 16:18). When Luke uses the double name Simon Peter in 5:8, before his report of the name change in 6:14 and in the midst of an account in which he constantly uses the name Simon (4:38, 5:3, 4, 5, 10), it may have been a device to signal to the reader who Luke is talking about, assuming that Luke's readers may have been more familiar with the name Peter.

Thus, with this strong emphasis on the name Peter, it is striking when characters refer to Peter not by his nickname given by Jesus but by his birth name. Indeed, after giving Peter the nickname, Jesus more often refers to him as Simon (Mark 14:37; Matt. 16:17; 17:25; Luke 22:31; John 21:15, 16, 17) than as Peter (Matt. 16:18; Luke 21:34). Also, the "Eleven" refer to him as Simon rather than Peter in Luke 22:34. Even in Acts it seems that he is known as Simon, judging by the Cornelius story in which the phrase "Simon who is called Peter" is used multiple times (10:5, 18, 32; 11:13). And yet, in the same story, the voice in the dream tells "Peter"--calling him by that name--to kill and eat (10:13; cf. 11:7). If the narrator presents Peter as dreaming that God is calling him Peter, does that mean he thinks of himself as a person named Peter?

But then we have Paul, who almost always calls him Cephas. Presumably this means that the Christians in Corinth and Galatia knew Peter by the Aramaic form of his name. After all, Paul represents some Corinthians as declaring "I am of Cephas!" (1Cor. 1:12).

Paul's evidence suggests that Peter was known early--at least, outside of Palestine--by the Aramaic form of his nickname, and the Gospels suggest that by the time they were written, this was being replaced in the tradition with the Greek form. Does this mean that when Paul twice refers to him with the Greek form "Peter" in Gal. 2:7, 8, that this is somewhat innovative and unusual? If so, it would probably have been more rhetorically effective, if indeed Paul is contrasting Peter's nickname with his role in the Antioch affair (Gal. 2:11).

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Peter's Names

You know how I like statistics of word usage in the Bible. This falls into that category.

I was reading Galatians 2 today and was struck by Paul's varying names for Peter. He calls Peter by that name twice in this chapter (Gal. 2:7, 8) and nowhere else in his letters. He elsewhere uses the name Cephas, including three times in this very chapter (Gal. 2:9, 11, 14; cf. Gal. 1:18; 1Cor. 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:5). Otherwise, the name Cephas occurs in the NT only in John 1:42. Paul never calls him Simon.

I was discussing this with my colleague Jeremy Barrier, who suggested that Paul did have a rhetorical point in using the Greek form Peter in Gal. 2:7, 8. That is, this is a context in which Paul is discussing the so-called "pillars" of the church (cf. Gal. 2:9), and he is about to relate a story in which Peter did not live up to his nickname, "rock". So, Paul uses the Greek form a couple of times because the irony would thus resonate with his Galatian readers better than by use of the Aramaic form Cephas.

Here's the data on Peter's names. The parentheses can indicate two things. If there are quotation marks, it gives a more exact account of which name is used in the cited verse. If there are no quotation marks, it means that the name appears in the mouth of that character.

Matthew 4:18; 10:2; 16:16 ("Simon Peter"), 17 (Jesus); 17:25 (Jesus).

Mark 1:16, 29, 30, 36; 3:16; 14:37.

Luke 4:38, 5:3, 4, 5, 8 ("Simon Peter"), 10; 6:14; 22:31 (Jesus); 24:34 (the Eleven).

John 1:40 ("Simon Peter"), 41, 42 (Jesus); 6:8 ("Simon Peter"), 68 ("Simon Peter"); 13:6 ("Simon Peter"), 9 ("Simon Peter"), 24 ("Simon Peter"), 36 ("Simon Peter"); 18:10 ("Simon Peter"), 15 ("Simon Peter"), 25 ("Simon Peter"); 20:2 ("Simon Peter"), 6 ("Simon Peter"); 21:2 ("Simon Peter"), 3 ("Simon Peter"), 7 ("Simon Peter"), 11 ("Simon Peter"), 15 ("Simon Peter"; "Peter", Jesus), 16 (Jesus), 17 (Jesus).

Acts 10:5 (angel), 18 (reported speech by messengers), 32 (Cornelius' report of the angel); 11:13 (Peter reporting Cornelius report of the angel)

2Peter 1:1

John 1:42 (Jesus)
1Corinthians 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:5
Galatians 1:18; 2:9, 11, 14

Matthew 4:18; 8:14; 10:2; 14:28, 29; 15:15; 16:16 ("Simon Peter"), 18 (Jesus), 22, 23; 17:1, 4, 24, 26; 18:21; 19:27; 26:33, 35, 37, 40, 58, 69, 73, 75.

Mark 3:16; 5:37; 8:29, 32, 33; 9:2, 5; 10:28; 11:21; 13:3; 14:29, 31, 33, 37, 54, 66, 67, 70, 72; 16:7.

Luke 5:8 ("Simon Peter"); 6:14; 8:45, 51; 9:20, 28, 32, 33; 12:41; 18:28; 22:8, 34 (Jesus), 54, 55, 58, 60, 61; 24:12.

John 1:40 ("Simon Peter"), 1:42, 44; 6:68 ("Simon Peter"); 13:6 ("Simon Peter"), 8, 9 ("Simon Peter"), 24 ("Simon Peter"), 36 ("Simon Peter"), 37; 18:10 ("Simon Peter"), 11, 15 ("Simon Peter"), 16, 17, 18, 25 ("Simon Peter"), 26, 27; 20:2 ("Simon Peter"), 3, 4, 6 ("Simon Peter"); 21:2 ("Simon Peter"), 3 ("Simon Peter"), 7 ("Simon Peter"), 11 ("Simon Peter"), 15 ("Simon Peter"), 17, 20, 21.

Acts 1:13, 15; 2:14, 37, 38; 3:1, 3, 4, 6, 11, 12; 4:8, 13, 19; 5:3, 8, 9, 15, 29; 8: 14, 20; 9:32, 34, 38, 39, 40, 43; 10:5 (angel), 9, 13 (voice in dream), 14, 17, 18 (reported speech by messengers), 19, 21, 25, 26, 32 (Cornelius reporting of angel), 34, 44, 45, 46; 11:2, 4, 7 (Peter reporting voice in dream), 13 (Peter reporting Cornelius' report of angel); 12:3, 5, 6, 7, 11, 14 (reported speech by Rhoda?), 16, 18; 15:7.

Galatians 2:7, 8.

1Peter 1:1

2Peter 1:1

Simon Peter
(This will include some references above.)

Matthew 16:16
Luke 5:8
John 1:40; 6:8, 68; 13:6, 9, 24, 36; 18:10, 15, 25; 20:2, 6; 21:2, 3, 7, 11, 15.
2Peter 1:1.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Reading Scripture for the Church

That title describes this stimulating post by Derek Olsen, who tells us why Christians should read scripture with the Church Fathers, and, more importantly, how we can imitate their reading habits. There are several good passages in the post. Here is one of them, to whet your appetite:
We do need to be reading more of the fathers. But we also need to be reading them in the right way. I put Paul and the fathers in the same category in terms of how they need to be read. Sometimes they teach us by what they say in the decisions they come to. But other times they teach us because of the ways that they show us to think. Paul has given us a treasure in First Corinthians; while it may not wrestle with justification like Romans or present a grand vision of the church like Ephesians, First Corinthians shows us a master edifier working through the practical problems of the local church in light of the resurrection and the Scriptures. We need to learn from his example, not just his conclusions. The same is true of the fathers – we need to learn from their examples, not just their conclusions.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Greek Canon Lists: Melito of Sardis, part 4

This post will wrap up my series on the list of OT books given by Melito, bishop of Sardis, and preserved by Eusebius. Here are the previous posts in this series:

Part 1 (introduction, text of the canon list, the order of the Pentateuch)
Part 2 (did Melito include the Wisdom of Solomon?)
Part 3 (the absence of Lamentations, Nehemiah, and Esther)

The Number of Books
Melito does not name a number of books constituting the OT, as do some later Greek authors. The most commonly-cited number in Greek sources for the OT books is 22, which several Greek writers explicitly connect to the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet (more here). If you simply count the names of the books as listed by Melito (see the first post on Melito for a simple list of the names), you'll find 21 titles. This is so close to 22 that you might be tempted to look for a missing book. Esther is an obvious candidate, but I haven't found any scholar who wants to include Esther in Melito's list for the sake of counting 22 books. That's good, since last time we found good reasons for thinking that Esther was omitted intentionally and so would not have been counted among the 22 books. (One might also think that Wisdom of Solomon is a good candidate for the missing book, but see here.)

However, some scholars do want to count Melito's books as 22. Sundberg (pp. 133-34) thinks that Lamentations was not counted as part of Jeremiah (as I argued in the previous post), but rather was accidentally left off, and so adding it back in with its own number results in a total of 22 books. Difficulties attend this interpretation. Aside from the very great probability that Lamentations should actually be seen as a part of Jeremiah here, this way of counting the books would require putting all 4 books of 'Kingdoms' (= 1-2 Samuel and 1-2 Kings) together as one book, and I know of no other ancient writer who did this. It seems doubtful that this is what Melito intended. In fact, Melito simply says of Kingdoms and Chronicles: "Of Kingdoms, four; of Paralipomena, two."

So, Katz (p. 196) has a bit better way of arriving at  22 books in that he separates Melito's one title "Kingdoms" into two: Samuel and Kings. This finds agreement with many other lists that count Kingdoms as 2 books and Chronicles as 1, so that's a possible way of getting to 22 for Melito. But if so Melito is far from explicit on the point. He does not say that Kingdoms counts as one (Sundberg) or two (Katz), he says it is four. He does not say that Paralipomena counts as one (Sundberg and Katz), he says two.

Counting all the 'books' that Melito mentions (4 for Kingdoms, 2 for Chronicles, 1 for the Twelve, etc.), you get 25 books (see Beckwith, pp. 184-85). That is not a number otherwise attested for the HB/OT, as far as I know. In fact, it does not seem that Melito is really all that concerned with the number of books, despite his mentioning the 'number' (ἀριθμός) as one aspect of his researches (Hist. eccl. 4.26.13). The only time he might be concerned about the way books are counted is for the Twelve, which he reports are in one book. Katz (p. 196) regarded that as "an unmistakable hint at the sum total." But why then does he say four of Kingdoms and two of Chronicles, parallel to his mentioning five of Moses, which certainly count as five? If he wants to hint at the number 22, it seems to me he has done a poor job.

And why would he want to 'hint' anyway? Why not just tell us, if he cared? I think the mention of "Twelve in One" for the Minor Prophets is simply a reference to the number of scrolls required to contain these 'twelve,' namely, one. At the end of the day, it seems to me that Melito is not concerned with a 'magical' number--as many of the later Fathers are aiming specifically at 22--but simply with relating to Onesimus how many scrolls it would take to have the entire library of the OT = 25.

The Identity of Melito's Source
Melito does not tell us whom he asked for this information. He says he went to Palestine (or, to the 'east'), but it would be nice to know if he saw fit to seek out a Jew or was content to ask a Christian.Some scholars have argued that Melito would not have needed to go to the east to ask Jews because there was a large Jewish population in Sardis that he could have asked had he wanted their opinion. One may respond that there was also a Christian population in Sardis, but of course he didn't ask the Christians in Sardis because he did not think he could trust them on this matter. He did regard someone in the 'east'--whether Jew or Christian--to be more trustworthy on this score, apparently because this was the homeland of the Bible. (Note that Melito says [apud Eus., Hist. eccl. 4.26.14] that he went "to the place where these things were preached and done.")

I suggested in my book (p. 24) that Melito, being a Christian, probably would have asked Christians rather than Jews. If the argument presented last time regarding the rationale behind Esther's absence from Melito's list holds water, then this suggestion is strengthened. I have gone back and forth on this issue in the past couple of years, and for now I'm leaning toward Christians (and thus against Zahn, p. 196 n. 11, and other sources; cf. my book, p. 23 n. 34).

Why Did Melito Have to Ask?
It seems odd that a bishop (!) would have to go to Palestine to ask which books should be in the OT. What does this mean about the state of the OT in the early church? Scholars have correctly noted that at least it demonstrates that some confusion surrounded this issue in Asia Minor during the second century (McDonald, p. 201).  

But I think we can say a little more than that based even on the little snippet preserved by Eusebius. I suggested in my book (p. 23) that the circulation of pseudepigrapha in the early church led to confusion about the proper contents of the OT. When the question comes up, I think it important that we note that Melito thinks he knows how to find the answer, even if the answer itself is not on the tip of his tongue. In other words, even though Melito does not know the list of books before traveling to Palestine, he knows that someone should know the list of books, because he is convinced that there is a list of books. Melito's confusion over the canon issue, and the confusion of Onesimus, does not demonstrate an open canon or no canon. Melito investigates the matter under the assumption that there is a proper list of OT books and that someone in the 'east' will be able to tell him what is on the list.

This is, in fact, not all that different from situations today. I don't know about the people you go to church with, but many of the people I go to church with would not be able to rattle off a full list of OT books. That does not mean that they doubt there is such a list; they just don't have all the titles committed to memory. They would know where to look if pressed, though (i.e., their Bible's table of contents). If you asked them whether the Book of Hezekiah is in the OT, some might have to give it some thought, and some just might not know. I suggest that that is the situation Melito and Onesimus were in. Is Enoch in the OT? Are these genuine OT writings? What about Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, or even Tobit, Judith, and the others? Melito might not know the answer to these questions before his trip to Palestine, but he thinks that there is an answer and he knows how to find it. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Greek Canon Lists: Melito of Sardis, part 3

The first post on Melito introduced his canon list, provided the text in Greek, and discussed his strange order for the Pentateuch (Numbers-Leviticus). The second post considered whether Melito included the Wisdom of Solomon in his list. 

This post considers the rationale behind Melito's failure to mention certain books included now in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. After brief discussions of the cases of Lamentations and Nehemiah, we will spend more time investigating Melito's omission of Esther.

Lamentations was commonly included as a part of Jeremiah in Christian lists. Melito's list is the first Christian list, so we can't be sure that the same was true for him, but the practice is so common later on that it would be foolish to say Melito must have omitted the book. 

The absence of any mention of Nehemiah by Melito can probably be explained similarly. In Jewish and Christian tradition, Nehemiah was commonly counted as one book with Ezra, which is included in Melito's list under the title 'Esdras'. That title probably refers to 1Esdras, which includes only a bit of Neh. 8. [On the other hand, Sundberg (p. 133) suggests that "[i]n Melito's list Esdras probably designates Ezra-Nehemiah," but it seems more probable that the bare title 'Esdras' in Greek would refer to 1Esdras.] It is probable that when the Fathers thought of 'Esdras' (whether 1Esdras or 2Esdras or both [see here to sort out the names of these books]), they assumed they were getting a version of the Ezra-Nehemiah story equivalent to those books in circulation among the Jews. After all, the title of the Ezra-Nehemiah book in the famous baraita in b. B. Bathra 14b is "Ezra." The upshot of all this is that when Melito listed "Esdras" as one of the biblical books, he probably assumed this title was comprehensive of whatever material the Jews included under the title "Ezra" (= Ezra-Nehemiah). 

Melito's list does not include the Book of Esther, which was never included with any other book, as we have seen was the case for Lamentations and Nehemiah. Some scholars (e.g., Ellis, p. 11) suggest that Melito or his source accidentally left Esther out, and that it should really be in the list. I incline to the view that this omission was intentional. The book is omitted also in the lists of Gregory of Nazianzus (Carmen 1.12) and Amphilochius of Iconium (Iambi ad Seleucum 261-89); this latter writer mentions that some include the book of Esther in the canon. Athanasius puts Esther among the outside useful books (Ep. fest. 39). Also, of course, it has not been found at Qumran (see here and here), and some Rabbis had some difficulties with the book (cf. Meg. 7a; on all this see Beckwith, pp. 291-97, 314-15; Leiman, pp. 200-1 n. 634). In view of the questions regarding the book entertained by some ancient Jews and Christians, it seems likely that Melito's source harbored similar doubts and did not include Esther in the list he transmitted to the bishop.

But why was Esther omitted by Melito or his source? Hennings thinks that the Jewish doubts about the book influenced Christians, or, alternatively, that the Christians regarded the book as too 'pro-Jewish' (p. 151 n. 85). On the other hand, Leiman thinks that omission of Esther was due to Christian ambivalence toward books not translated by the Seventy. This is an interesting idea that I'd like to discuss a little further. Leiman's suggestion has a certain plausibility to it, since Christians did commonly regard every OT book in Greek as part of the inspired LXX translation; books that could not claim the authority of the LXX were held in suspicion (this is, in fact, the argument in my book, pp. 92-98). After establishing that the Church Fathers were often more concerned with the number 22 than with the actual books of the canon (for more on this, see my book, pp. 85-92), Leiman writes:
Esther, rather than another biblical book, was excluded from some lists because it was the last title on most of the lists which included it [cf. Origen, Bryennios List, Epiphanius 3x, Jerome, Hilary], and because Melito had established a precedent for omitting Esther. It was last on the lists, and omitted by Melito, not because of Jewish doubts about its canonicity, but because the colophon to the Greek Esther indicated that it was the only Greek translation of a biblical book, included in LXX [sic], and yet not part of the original LXX translation. (p. 160 n. 239)
The colophon in question reads thus (trans. Karen Jobes, NETS):
In the fourth year of the reign of Ptolemy and Kleopatra, Dositheos, who said he was a priest and a Leuite, and Ptolemy his son brought the above letter about Phrourai, which they said existed, and Lysimachus son of Ptolemy, one of those in Ierousalem, translated it.
Lysimachus of Jerusalem is credited with translating "the above letter about Phrourai," where Phrourai is a Greek transliteration of the Aramaic form of the word Purim, and so the whole phrase--the letter about Phrourai--is equivalent to our "the Book of Esther" (see Bickerman, pp. 349-51).

Leiman's argument makes some sense. Presumably, in ca. 180 CE, if Melito had asked a Palestinian Jew for a list of canonical books, Esther would have been included. Possibly not, but probably. [Note Talmon, p. 266: "in the third century CE, the Book of Esther had definitely been accepted as part of the Hebrew Bible."] Leiman does point out (earlier in the same note) that the Church Fathers who stress that their list of OT books derives from Jews (e.g., Origen, Epiphanius, Jerome) do include Esther. Earlier, Josephus seems to have included Esther among his 22 books (cf. Beckwith, p. 322). Apparently 4Ezra 14:45 also regarded the inclusion of Esther in the canon a foregone conclusion (assuming Esther was among the 24 books). If it was doubted earlier by some Jewish groups (e.g., Qumran) and would continue to be questioned by certain Rabbis, that apparently had little effect on its position within the scriptural canon of the post-70 Palestinian Jews.

Christians were another matter. If they did pay much attention to the colophon, that would show that the Greek Esther had not originated with the original LXX and would raise some doubts. But, there are still some questions I have about this: (1) I'd like a Church Father explicitly to attribute his doubts about Esther to the colophon; (2) a doubtful Greek translation does not necessarily lead to doubts about the book itself.

In other words, I argue in my book (pp. 92-98) that the desire to include certain 'extra' books ('extra' in the sense of 'beyond the Jewish canon,' e.g. Wisdom of Solomon, Tobit, etc.) led to the placement of these books in the 'LXX' (both physically--in a codex--and conceptually, thinking that these books were translated also by the Seventy). This was true even for some books (e.g. Wisdom of Solomon) that were originally written in Greek.The point is, the Fathers (I argue) worked with a theory such that OT books should have been originally delivered to the ancient Hebrews, and thus should have originally been written in Hebrew. If a book was originally written in Greek, this criterion would tell against its canonicity. And so if a Father wanted to include in his canon a work originally written in Greek (like 2 Maccabees or Wisdom of Solomon), he might include it in the 'LXX' translation, and this would imply that it had a Hebrew original, whether it really did or not. (For more on this, see here.)

But this is not what's going on with the Esther colophon. The colophon makes clear that the Book of Esther did have a Hebrew original and that it was not translated by the Seventy. Of course, just because it had a Hebrew original did not necessarily make it canonical. That was a necessary criterion but not a sufficient criterion. If Leiman is correct, and it was the colophon that caused doubts among Christians, perhaps it worked this way. Maybe the very early Fathers assumed that if Esther was not translated by the Seventy, that means that it did not form a part of the scriptures at the time of the translation, and thus should be rejected by the Church. If it was added subsequently to the canon by the Jews, Christians also knew the Jews to have altered other features of the received biblical canon (cf. Origen's Epistle to Africanus).

If this reasoning lies behind the omission of Esther in Melito's list, we can draw two further implications. (1) Apparently Melito consulted Christians in Palestine rather than Jews. This issue will be discussed further in a subsequent post, but for now, see my book, pp. 22-24, for an overview. (2) The Esther colophon does not seem to have caused such concerns for many Christians, because many OT canon lists do include the book.