Sunday, May 27, 2012

Back from NAPS

I am recovering from the 2012 NAPS conference in Chicago. I should clarify: that's the North American Patristics Society conference. On Thursday evening, Nathan Howard and I went to a very good Thai restaurant a few blocks from our hotel, and we told a lady sitting at a nearby table that we were attending a NAPS conference, and she gave us a funny look and asked "What's that?" I suppose she imagined sessions devoted to the pros and cons of spending a few minutes sleeping every afternoon, and theorizing on where the best place is to get catch a snooze.

This year I roomed with the aforementioned Nathan Howard, and also Everett Ferguson. I enjoyed getting to know both of these men, and it was an honor especially to share a room with Prof. Ferguson, internationally acclaimed patristics scholar and past president of NAPS itself.

Of course, I attended some sessions, learned some about areas of patristics I don't research as well as about areas directly relevant to my own scholarship. The banquet on Friday evening was fund, though expensive. And, I saw my book on display for the first time at a conference--Brill did come to this one. 

I did present a paper. It was titled, "Why Did Jerome Translate Tobit and Judith?" It was generally well-received; nobody threw anything, and several people afterwards mentioned that it was helpful. I plan to work it up into an article for submission to a journal, so I'll probably post some more about this later. For now, I'll just copy below the conclusion as I presented it at the conference. 
Why did Jerome translate Tobit and Judith? Our study has isolated several possible factors. First, he seems to have viewed these two books as authentic ancient Israelite literature, albeit written in Chaldean rather than Hebrew. He did not view the books of Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, or Sirach as ancient Israelite literature. Second, his classification of these books as Agiografa increases their prestige, even though he uses the term to mean something different from his earlier use of it in the Preface to Daniel  and the Prologus Galeatus. Third, the peculiar translation process he describes in the Preface to Tobit allows these Chaldean books to share—however tenuously—in the hebraica veritas, so that his translation will be truer and more correct than the Vetus Latina. Though a first or second reading of these prefaces, especially the Tobit preface, may leave the impression that Jerome would rather not have translated these books at all—an impression created, I think, by Jerome’s desire to stress the noncanonicity of these books—nevertheless, the translations themselves and certain elements of the prefaces reveal that Jerome does want these translations to find an audience that will profit from reading Tobit and Judith.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Are Tobit and Judith among the Apocrypha or Hagiographa?

The only two deuterocanonical books translated by Jerome were Tobit and Judith, though he did also include the deuterocanonical additions to Esther and Daniel in his translation of those books. As he did for his other biblical translations, Jerome provided a distinct preface for both Tobit and Judith.

One of the curious features of his prefaces to these books is that he says that they are included by the Jews in a collection of books which they call the Hagiographa. Furthermore--and this is combining information gleaned from both prefaces separately--this collection called the Hagiographa is not a part of the biblical canon and it is held to be of less authority in doctrinal matters.

This is so curious because elsewhere Jerome tells us (accurately) that Hagiographa is the Jewish name for the third section of the biblical canon, following the Law and the Prophets. He says this both in the Prologus Galeatus (i.e., the Preface to Samuel and Kings) and in his Preface to Daniel. On the other hand, in the Prologus Galeatus he classifies Tobit and Judith among the apocrypha.

There is some confusion here about terms. Just what is the Hagiographa? Does Jerome use that term in two different ways? Why would he do that? Does Jerome think that Jews classify Tobit and Judith as Hagiographa or as apocrypha?

To ease these tensions (so it seems to me), an alternative reading was introduced into the text of Jerome's prologue to Tobit and Judith, so that instead of locating them among the Hagiographa, he instead locates them among the apocrypha. This alternative reading actually makes quite a bit more sense when compared with Jerome's other statements on these books. Not only that, but it has also become quite popular in the reception of Jerome's prefaces, because it was the reading printed in the Migne text.

It will not work, however, as there is simply too little manuscript support. The standard critical edition of the Vulgate--the Roman edition produced by the Benedictines (Tobit and Judith published 1950)--lists only a few manuscripts giving this reading for Judith, and none for Tobit. The handy Stuttgart edition does not include the reading apocrypha in the apparatus for either prologue. Thus, it would seem that Hagiographa is the correct reading, and this is amply confirmed by modern editions. (This has not prevented some scholars from continuing to cite apocrypha as the true reading; see here on pp. 28, 43-44.)

As I mentioned, the popularity of the reading apocrypha in these prologues really took hold with its inclusion in the text printed by Migne. At PL 29.23-26, Migne offered a long note--partly taken from Jean Martianay, whose edition of the Vulgate was the first to print apocrypha in these passages--justifying his inclusion of this reading over the reading Hagiographa, which is more widely-attested in the manuscripts. Here I translate this note from the Latin. I have attempted to provide links where I could where more information can be found about the various people or subjects mentioned by Migne. I have not always been able to do this, however; especially if I could not figure out who Migne was talking about (e.g., Driedon, Simonius).

The following note is linked to the word apocrypha in the Preface to Tobit
So reads the great manuscript codex of the Bible of Cartusian Villanova near Avignon, and so learned men agree that it should be read, such as Leander of St. Martin [a.k.a. John Jones, 1575-1636, Welsh Benedictine monk, from 1599 a member of the monastery San Martín Pinario at Santiago de Compostela, Spain] and many others, by whom it was investigated that the Jews acknowledge no other books as Hagiographa beyond those which constitute the third section of the Hebrew canon. Corrupt editions read with the vast majority of manuscripts Hagiographa, for the Book of Tobit cannot be cut off from the canon or catalog of the divine Scriptures, to use the words of the holy doctor [i.e., Jerome], without at the same time it being cut off from the order of the Hagiographa and put into the apocrypha among the Hebrews. But lest any hateful spite, or contrary man, should resound against us here, let it be remembered that each and every book of the Hagiographa of the Hebrews was mentioned and enumerated by Jerome in his Preface to the Books of Kings, among which in no way he wished to count either Tobit or Judith. He said:
The third order possesses the ἀγιόγραφα, and the first book begins from Job, the second from David...third is Solomon, having three books: Proverbs...Ecclesiastes...Song of Songs. Sixth is Daniel. Seventh Dabreajamin...which book among us is inscribed 1&2 Παραλειπομένων [i.e., Chronicles]. Eighth is Ezra, which also itself both among Greeks and Latins is divided into two books [= Ezra & Nehemiah]. Ninth is Esther. And so altogether the books of the Old Law are twenty-two, i.e., five of Moses, eight of the Prophets, nine of the Hagiographa. But some put Ruth and Cinoth [= Lamentations] among the ἀγιόγραφα, and reckon these books in the calculation of its number, and thus there would be twenty-four books of the ancient Law. ... This prologue of the Scriptures can serve as a helmeted beginning for all the books which we are converted from Hebrew into Latin, so that we may know that whatever is outside these, should be put among the άπόκρυφα. Therefore Wisdom [of Solomon]...and the book of Jesus son of Sirach [= Ecclesiasticus], and Judith, and Tobit, and the Shepherd [of Hermas] are not in the canon.
Thus, Jerome would not at all agree with himself if the Book of Tobit, which in this place he declared should be put among the apocrypha, later in the preface to the same book of Tobit he said that among the Hebrews it was transferred to the Hagiographa. Therefore, lest the holy doctor be believed to have thought things contrary and repugnant to hismelf, the error of the ancient scribes should be corrected toward the fidelity of the manuscript copy praised earlier; for, written down at the first with the greatest diligence, it was also emended with fortunate care, and of better character. But concerning these things again in the Preface to Judith, where for the confirmation of our reading, apocrypha, there is additionally another manuscript codex of the Bible of the Avignon library, collated by the Society of Jesus. [Jean Martianay]
--Many other books both old and more recent read Hagiographa, and there are critics, having learned other things, who prefer this reading especially for this reason: that the book, even if it is not received into the Hebrew canon, being prior, which encompasses books written only in Hebrew, nevertheless it continuously obtains divine authority both among them and among the Fathers of the Church, as is learned from the testimonies of both parts, and from the arguments of Grotius and Sixtus of Siena. Nevertheless, the printed reading, apocrypha, which previously Martianay restored from the manuscripts and defended with good arguments, is especially true, and also is confirmed by both the thing itself and by the context in Jerome both of this passage [i.e., the Preface to Tobit] but also much more clearly in the Prologus Galeatus [= Preface to the Books of Kings], and finally in the Prologue to the Books of Solomon, and in another to Jonah. Also a greater number of manuscript codices stands apart from it, as well as the authority of those who have formerly found written thus in their copies, such as the author of the Glossa Ordinaria, Comestor,Cardinal Hugo, the Marmotrectus, Abulensis, the author of the Preface to the Bible edited together with the Glossa Ordinaria and the work of Lyranus, while the following authorities also support this reading: Driedon, Ambrosius Catharinus, Petrus Garzia Galarza, and recenty Simonius and others. But even from these manuscripts which prefer Hagiographa, either here or below in the prologue of Judith, which passage is the twin to this one, some record at the margin of the book, apocrypha. Thus the interlinear gloss has at this passage, and thus Humphrey Hody attests is contained in a certain Lambeth manuscript at the prologue of Judith, where is noted in the margin in an ancient hand more than 200 years old: "apocrypha is the better reading." The same person says: In another manuscript in the Bodleian (NE. A. 2 1) it is recorded at the prologue of Tobit in an ancient hand, "rather, better--inter apocrypha." Thus apocrypha is read in the prologue of Judith in another Lambeth book of highest quality in two large volumes and in a Bodleian book (NE. F. 3 25) apocrypha is read in both prologues. Among the older writers, whoever believed the reading Hagiographa to be correct established that it was to be taken in a broader sense. So Dionysius the Carthusian and in a third book (Bodleian manuscript F. 107) at the word Hagiographa in the prologue of Tobit it is noted: "that is, apocrypha: certainly Hagiographa is said broadly." And in the prologue of Judith at the same word is placed an interlinear note, "broadly."

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Jesus Eats with Pharisees

On Sunday mornings I've been teaching a church class about the way the Gospels present the life of Jesus. Over the past couple weeks, we've been exploring his conflicts with the Jewish religious leadership during his ministry. I've made a couple of discoveries that I thought worthy of sharing--though, as I've said many times, I'm not an NT scholar and so these points are probably well-known among those who research such things.

As far as I can tell, the conflicts between Jesus and the Pharisees et al. began, at least according to the Synoptics, with the healing of the paralytic carried by his four friends (Mark 2 / Matt. 9 / Luke 5). Actually, it wasn't the healing that caused problems so much as the offer of forgiveness of sins, which was the first thing Jesus said to this paralytic--"Son, your sins are forgiven" (Mark 2:5). As soon as they heard that, the scribes (Mark 2:6 / Matt. 9:3) and the Pharisees and teachers of the law (Luke 5:17) began to question how this man could claim to do something only God could do (Mark 2:7).

In all three Synoptics (I leave John aside for now) this story is presented as the initial point of conflict between Jesus and the Jewish religious leadership. Certainly in Mark, nothing happens before this that could remotely be classified as a controversy with religious leaders. But that's not too surprising since only one chapter of Mark comes before this episode. Matthew relates the story at the beginning of ch. 9, so there is much more potential that I'm overlooking something in the first eight chapters, but again I find no controversy. Luke puts the story half-way through ch. 5. Before this point, Luke does relate some trouble that Jesus experienced in a synagogue in Nazareth, and this very possibly involved some 'religious leaders', but in fact none are referenced, and Luke speaks only of 'all in the synagogue' as being filled with rage and wanting to kill Jesus (4:28-29). So, it seems that in all three Synoptics Jesus' offer of forgiveness to the paralytic is to be seen as the instigation of conflict between Jesus and the religious leadership.

[The episode of this paralytic is located at the home of Jesus in Capernaum, where a crowd of people--Pharisees and scribes among them--gathered to hear Jesus teach. One wonders what the Evangelists intend for us to think about why the scribes and Pharisees joined the others in Jesus' home. Were they at this time excited by the prospect of the kingdom of God coming through this one about whom such great things had already been reported as we read about in Mark 1?]

Now, I've been using this class at church as an excuse finally to read N. T. Wright's Jesus and the Victory of God (Fortress, 1996). In the ninth chapter of this book, Wright identifies four major symbols of Judaism--sabbath, food/purity, circumcision, and Temple--and he points out that three of these (not circumcision) featured prominently in controversies between Jesus and the Pharisees (p. 393). The first dispute--about the forgiveness extended to the paralytic--could be interpreted as a response to the symbol of the Temple, where forgiveness of sin was supposed to be offered by God (cf. Mark 2:7--where does God forgive sins?). The Sabbath controversy in Mark is especially prominent in two stories (2:23-28; 3:1-6), and the food/purity laws become the focal point in Mark 7:1-23.

Now, my second discovery. Luke alone among the Synoptics--as far as I can tell--relates three episodes in which Jesus has a meal with Pharisees. Luke 7:37-50 finds Jesus instructing Simon the Pharisee on the relationship between love and forgiveness after a 'sinful' woman wet Jesus' feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. At that time Jesus offered forgiveness to this woman, prompting those with him to ask, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" Thus, this particular meal parallels the controversy surrounding Jesus' offer of forgiveness to the paralytic, which could be interpreted in relation to the symbol of the Temple.

The second meal Jesus takes with a Pharisee in Luke is in 11:37-54. Jesus did not ceremonially wash before the meal, leading to a controversy over the relevance of these purity customs. Thus, this meal corresponds to the episode in Mark 7 (which finds no parallel in Luke).

The third meal is in Luke 14 on the Sabbath. Jesus heals a fellow and thus stirs trouble, corresponding to the other Sabbath controversies related in Mark 2-3.

So, the three meals that Jesus has with Pharisees in Luke each highlights a particular controversy Jesus had with the Pharisees in relation to three symbols of Judaism: Sabbath, Temple, and Purity. These controversies are related in Mark, Matthew, and sometimes Luke in other stories, but they are also concentrated in these meal accounts in Luke.