Monday, December 22, 2014

Goldingay on the Imprecatory Psalms

John Goldingay with his wife Kathleen Scott Goldingay have published a two-part article called "The Sting in the Psalms" (Theology 117.6 [2014]: 403–10; 118.1 [2015]: 3–9). A pre-publication version of the two-part article is available at Kathleen Scott's page. I just read the published version of the second part, which is attributed mostly to John Goldingay (while Kathleen Scott Goldingay receives primary credit for part 1).

Part two is a good, brief theological reflection on the value of the imprecatory psalms. Goldingay asserts that our discomfort--and the discomfort of many biblical scholars--with the imprecatory psalms arises primarily from the fact that we feel ourselves to be the oppressors and not the oppressed, and so we don't want God to take vengeance on the oppressors. He cautions (with tongue in cheek):
Scholars in countries such as Britain and the United States are therefore wise to support the view of ordinary Christians that nobody should use such psalms. It would be dangerous if people prayed them. God might listen and respond. (p. 6)
I also appreciated Goldingay's concerns with the allegorical interpretation of these psalms, and the two examples he takes of this interpretive strategy, C. S. Lewis and David Steinmetz. Goldingay says about C. S. Lewis' chapter on the imprecatory psalms in Reflections on the Psalms
Lewis here illustrates several of the dangers in allegorical interpretation. Its problem is usually not that it leads us to make declarations that are out of keeping with the direct teaching of Scripture. It is that it enables us to avoid seeing what the Holy Spirit was inspiring in particular texts. It enables us to focus instead on things that we are more interested in or that we are more comfortable with, which will often be matters of individual spirituality rather than our outward lives. It enables us to avoid seeing what God wants us to see. (p. 7)
This is a good criticism of some examples of allegorical interpretation, and I'll need to think more about it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Article on Chronicles within the Canon

I've just received from Tyndale Bulletin the pdf offprint of my article on the position of Chronicles within the canon. They have very helpfully made the article available here.  This is the published form of a paper I read at SECSOR a couple years ago (noted here), and the theme of the article connects with one I published at the beginning of this year in NTS (noted here).

If you get a chance to read it, let me know what you think.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Bokedal on the Nomina Sacra

I've enjoyed reading Tomas Bokedal's The Formation and Significance of the Christian Biblical Canon (Bloomsbury 2013), a 'second edition' of the author's dissertation, the first edition of which was reviewed by John Barton in JTS (remarkably so, for an unpublished dissertation). I'm not quite half-way through.

He summarizes his basic argument in this way:
In the following I shall seek to demonstrate that, as part of its canon formation, early Christianity forms a closed literary fellowship in the period AD 70–120, with an in-principle closed two-testament canon at hand circa AD 200. This is the outcome of an extended process, marked by continuity and a strong ecclesial consensus as to the scriptural core, structure and approximate literary scope. (p. 20) 
I find it interesting that for Bokedal, the formation of the canon as he is describing it does not necessarily need to establish rock-solid borders for the canon, one hundred percent certainty on which books are in and which are out.

The emergence of the Christian Bible, as described here, could not have exerted a greater impact had the scope, essence or meaning of the canon been finally and once and for all defined; for instance, by way of a carefully  prescribed canonical model for scriptural interpretation, or a definite number of writings to be included. Quite to the contrary, the ongoing canon debate provides the possibility of reaching at even a better understanding of the canonical shape and function. (p. 17) 
Bokedal's third chapter is on the nomina sacra, those special contractions of theologically significant words found especially in Christian sources.
[...] the introduction of the system of nomina sacra into the biblical texts – immediately indicating a Christian context for these writings – was a decisive step in the early stages of the canonical process. (p. 83)
In this regard, he argues that the nomina sacra are a scribal system aimed at connecting the God of Israel with Jesus; that this system transforms Jewish scripture into Christian scripture; brings unity to the whole of scripture; engrafts the early Church's creedal confession (Jesus as Lord) in the manuscripts; and relates (or 'juxtaposes') the new Christian writings to the Jewish scriptures (pp. 92–93). Bokedal helpfully classifies the 15 nomina sacra according to the frequency of abbreviation, with theos, christos, Iēsous, and kurios in the top category, almost always abbreviated in NT manuscripts of the second and third centuries (surveying 74 such mss). Stauros (95%) and pneuma (89%) fall to the second category. The third category (23%–62%) includes stauroō, patēr, anthrōpos, Ierousalēm, huios, Israēl, pneumatikos, and the fourth category--hardly ever contracted in these 74 mss--includes ouranos, mētēr, Dauid, and sōtēr. As for pneuma, Vaticanus turns out to be unusual, hardly ever abbreviating the word (3%) in its NT portion (Bokedal doesn't mention what happens int the OT), though pneuma usually was contracted at that time, as seen above, and Sinaiticus has it 99% of the time (pp. 90–91, w/ n. 28).

The words are contracted in biblical manuscripts, but also in other Christian writings (p. 89; and maybe Jewish writings?--Bokedal does not address the issue, but see Hurtado ch. 3, and on non-biblical writings that include nomina sacra, see ibid. p. 98; Tuckett 442–3; on inscriptions with nomina sacra, see Bokedal 116–17; and Wicker, on whom see Hurtado; and Edwards for a Jewish example). This seems to distinguish the nomina sacra from the other peculiar feature of early Christian books, the preference for the codex. This latter phenomenon does seem to be particularly, though by no means exclusively, associated with scripture (Bokedal 125–7; Hurtado).

"The abbreviated forms occur typically only when used in a sacral sense. Although not always consistently carried out, this is especially the case for the word Θεος. A clear distinction is made by scribes between God or Lord as sacred names (written as nomina sacra) and these words as profane words in the plural (gods and lords, written in full). Almost all 50 or so Greek manuscripts containing 1 Cor. 8:4-6 included by Reuben Swanson in his New Testament Greek Manuscripts make this distinction." (pp. 99–100) 
The nomina sacra appear also in Latin, Coptic, Slavonic, and Armenian mss (Bokedal 85 n. 6; cf. p. 122) and seem to have been used in all Christian biblical manuscripts until the rise of printing (see pp. 86–87 n. 11). The universality of this practice leads Bokedal to suggest a reintroduction into modern Bible editions (apparently he means both original language editions and translations), and he proposes using all caps for each of the nomina sacra, or at least the main ones (pp. 86, 122–23).

But I wonder about this statement:
For early Christianity as for early Judaism, it seems to have been the case that a writing without a strong emphasis on the sacred name(s) could not make any strong claim towards scripturality. (p. 93; cf. p. 122)
This makes sense for the NT--it is hard to imagine a writing that doesn't mention Jesus or the Lord being generally recognized as Christian scripture. But I'm curious how such a view would play out with certain texts of the OT, Song of Songs and Esther, for instance, both famously containing no references to God (though cf. Song 8:6). Well, in the Greek Esther, there are all kinds of references to God, so for Christians (and some Jews) that problem would be solved, I suppose. Codex Sinaiticus does contain instances of nomina sacra in Esther. But I don't think there are any instances of nomina sacra in the Song. Codex Sinaiticus does contain explicit references to the dramatis personae (Bride, Groom), and maybe these could be considered sacred names. But they weren't contracted.

Bokedal follows the explanation for the nomina sacra associated with Hurtado and, earlier, Roberts, that these scribal markers have a Christian origin, and they likely started with a suspended form of Iēsous (pp. 93–97).

The payoff for canon formation comes in the conclusion to the chapter:
As nomina sacra are present in basically all Christian Greek biblical manuscripts, their seemingly universal reception by the early faith communities strongly suggests a doctrine of the unity of the Christian Scriptures, placing the emergent NT writings side by side with the Scriptures of Judaism (the OT). The Christian Scriptures contain the nomina sacra, which are being introduced also into the Jewish Scriptures, and both OT and NT writings are used together for the divine lection as part of the worship service. In this way – and of further signifance for the canon formation – the Christian identity of the Scriptures as Scriptures vis-à-vis the synagogue is emphasized. Now, if the above analysis is correct, and if we make use of an essential component from von Harnack's canon defnintion, we need to date a central aspect of the NT canon formation to around AD 100 (rather than ca. AD 200, as suggested by von Harnack), when the Christians' own writings in this way are put on a par with the Jewish Scriptures (cf. section 7.3). Justin Martyr in Rome testifies to an already established tradition in this regard, with the Gospel being read publicly alongside the Prophets (see section 7.7.4). (pp. 121–22)
A couple further thoughts that popped into my mind as I read this chapter:

--The transmission of the nomina sacra--in the actual copying of the texts--presumably would have need to be visual. That is, if we are imagining something like a scriptorium, with scribes listening to the text being read and then writing down what they hear, it seems to me that the nomina sacra would not be so standardized. This observation concurs with Gamble's statement that there is “no direct evidence that texts were replicated by dictation in the ancient world" (Books and Readers, 88; but Gamble later discusses the existence of some scriptoria in the ancient world, such as at Caesarea; see pp. 120–23, 158–9).

--It seems probable that the nomina sacra contributed to Christological interpretation of the OT. (see Bokedal pp. 101–2, 113).

One last observation: I enjoyed this footnote (p. 16 n. 55): "Cf. Zahn's remark somewhere, that it is because of the uncertainty regarding the shape of the canon that there is a history of the canon in the first place." I love the honesty of this note: I know I read it somewhere in Zahn, but I can't find it right now. It also reminds me of Hebrews 4:4.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Origen and the Bridegroom

Another excerpt from Origen and Scripture by Peter Martens (earlier noted here). Chapter 8 is on the moral life of the scriptural exegete, as Origen saw it, and Martens discusses Origen's views on the need for moral excellence of the biblical interpreter, especially in regard to certain exegetical virtues (inquisitiveness, open-mindedness, watchfulness, and exertion), faith, and prayer. Origen believed that one should seek divine aid in understanding the scriptures, but this divine aid was sometimes elusive. Martens (p. 184) quotes a beautiful passage from Origen's first Homily on the Song of Songs in illustration of this point.
The Bride then beholds the Bridegroom; and He as soon as she has seen Him, goes away. He does this frequently throughout the Song; and that is something nobody can understand who has not suffered it himself. God is my witness that I have often perceived the Bridegroom drawing near me and being most intensely present with me; then suddenly He has withdrawn and I could not find Him, though I sought to do so. I long therefore for Him to come again, and sometimes He does so. Then, when He has appeared and I lay hold of Him, He slips away once more; and when He has so slipped away, my search for Him begins anew. So does He act with me repeatedly.

The "Old Testament" According to Origen

I've been reading Peter Martens 2012 monograph Origen and Scripture, an excellent account of Origen's encounter with scripture. The following passage comes from ch. 9, on the single message of the scriptures. Origen insisted--against some groups, such as gnostics--that both biblical testaments transmitted the same saving message.
Indeed, so concerned was Origen with the unity of this scriptural message that he could, on occasion, even balk at the twofold designation "Old" and "New" Testaments. In his ninth Homily on Numbers he remarks that the power of the gospel is also found in the law, its foundation, so that he does not give the name "Old Testament" to the law provided he understands it spiritually. "The law," Origen continues, "becomes an 'Old Testament' only for those who want to understand it in a fleshly way; and for them it has necessarily become old and aged, because it cannot maintain its strength. But," he strikingly concludes, "for us, who understand and explain it spiritually and in an evangelical sense, it is always new. Indeed, both are a 'New Testament' for us, not because of the age of time but because of the newness of understanding." (p. 203)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Aquila's Translation in the Cairo Genizah

Almost exactly a year ago my article on the Aquila manuscripts from the Cairo Genizah (noted here) appeared in the Journal of Jewish Studies. The main point of the article is to argue that we actually don't know whether these manuscripts originated among Christians or Jews, despite the common assumption among scholars that they are Jewish manuscripts. A few months after its publication, the article received this ringing endorsement from Peter Head: "I would say that this article is more interesting than it sounds." That's about the best you can hope for in scholarship--not as boring as expected!

In the article I interact a little bit with Larry Hurtado in regard to the issue of the nomina sacra, since one of the Aquila manuscripts features some of these forms and Hurtado has cited this usage in his own work (esp. ch. 3 here). Hurtado has now read my article and largely endorses its conclusions--which, again, are fairly cautious: we should not presume that the manuscripts are Jewish, but neither will the evidence allow us to affirm a Christian origin. But, given the current state of our knowledge, the latter is at least as strong of a possibility as the former. Hurtado explains well and briefly in this post the evidence on either side of the issue, and points out a few things of which I was unaware (the article by Niessen) or failed to mention (the codex bookform as a possible indication of Christian origin).

Hurtado's post is part of a series he's doing on materials from the Cairo Genizah (prior posts here and here).

Monday, October 6, 2014

Article on Deuteronomy

Got the news last week that my Vetus Testamentum article "Cult Centralization in the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Origins of Deuteronomy" is now available. Brill wont allow posting the article on my page, so you wont find it there, but I think VT is a pretty easy journal to access. I'd be happy to send a PDF to anyone who requests it.

You'll find an abstract of my article at the link above. I've discussed the subject on this blog before, a few years ago (here, here, and here). These posts became the basis for the published article. I'll have another article on the Samaritan Pentateuch coming out in January. I'll note it when it appears.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Shakespeare and Psalm 46

Do you already know about this? I heard about it last night, as I started a series at a church on the formation of the Bible. Afterward someone asked me whether Shakespeare was involved in translating the KJV, since in Psalm 46 the word 'shake' is the 46th word and the word 'spear' is the 46th word from the end, and Shakespeare would have been 46 around the time of the publication of the translation. Well, I had never heard this before, so I said I'd check into it.

Didn't take a lot of searching to discover all of the following.

There are some people who are not completely nuts who think this Shakespeare bit is possible. For example, William Harmon (English prof., UNC) wrote an article a couple decades ago in which he considered it possible. Also, an English prof. at Taylor University, Dennis Hensley, considers it likely.

On the other hand, Hannibal Hamlin, English prof. at Ohio State and expert on things relevant to this subject, thinks it absurd. Personally, I'm going with this opinion, but not for all the reasons Hamlin gives. He criticizes the idea partly because Shakespeare was no Greek and Hebrew scholar. But the idea, as promoted by someone like Harmon, is not that Shakespeare actually translated the psalm, but that he took a translation produced by linguists and polished up the poetry. I think the idea is farfetched just because there's absolutely no evidence for it (Shakespeare's name doesn't appear anywhere in connection with the translation, for instance), only this neat little number game in one psalm.

I'm not sure where the idea came from. Hamlin says it goes back to the 1890s, but he doesn't cite anything (at least not in that online article). Something similar to this idea can be found in one of Rudyard Kipling's stories, Proofs of Holy Writ, published in Strand magazine in 1934. In that story, Shakespeare and Ben Johnson work on enhancing the literary quality of Isaiah 60.

Our exact idea appears in two published works by Anthony Burgess (author of A Clockwork Orange): his biography of Shakespeare published by Knopf in 1970 (pp. 233–34) and his Enderby's Dark Lady (1984), pp. 24–34. In both places, Burgess just suggests the idea as possible. This response to Harmon's article (linked above) by Paul J. C. M. Franssen is very helpful for unraveling some of these details. (BTW, Harmon says he did not get the idea from Burgess, but neither did he think it up himself.)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Augustine and the Hebrew Bible: The Evidence of His Quaestiones in Heptateuchum

This post concludes a series. For earlier posts, see here, here, here, and here.

Augustine is well-known as someone who advocated continued use of the LXX as the Church's Bible in the face of those--like Jerome--who would replace it with a text closer to the Hebrew Bible, or at least downgrade its status significantly. He echoed a prominent Christian (and Jewish) tradition ascribing inspiration to the Seventy translators. But whereas earlier Christians (and Philo) had seen the Seventy to be inspired specifically for the purpose of producing a faithful translation--a miraculously accurate translation (see more here)--Augustine's innovation was in proposing that the Seventy were inspired to produce changes in the biblical texts, not really substantial changes, but small changes that ultimately pointed toward spiritual realities.

I believe that Augustine developed this position in response to Jerome's textual scholarship; Augustine did not feel competent to challenge Jerome's assertions that the LXX diverges often from the Hebrew text available in his day, and admitting this point seems to have made it untenable to continue to insist that the LXX was a more accurate translation than Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion. Jerome took this to mean that a new translation was needed. Augustine held on to the idea that the Seventy were inspired, but since they also changed the biblical text, that must have been what God inspired them to do. Augustine tries to diminish the strangeness of such an opinion by comparing the Seventy translators to the ancient Hebrew prophets--God inspired Isaiah and Jeremiah to say different things, and so it should not seem strange if he later inspired the Seventy prophetic translators to say things different from (but not, mind you, contradictory to) either Isaiah or Jeremiah (City of God 18.42-43). Elsewhere Augustine compares the relationship of the translators to their Hebrew Vorlage to the relationship among the four Evangelists, who were all inspired to produce different accounts of the life of Christ (Harmony of the Gospels 2.66.128).

In 1986, Anne-Marie la Bonnardière asked the question, "Did Augustine Use the Vulgate of Jerome?" (pp. 303–12 of this collection). To answer this question, she looked especially at the Quaestiones in Heptateuchum and the City of God. In regard to the Quaestiones, she counted 18x that Augustine compared the Hebrew translation to the LXX. I also count 18x (see below), but the passages that we include are a little different.

She omits Quaest. Gen. 2 and 169, and she includes Quaest. Gen. 97. She counts Quaest. Ios. 19 twice because in that passage Augustine discusses both Josh 16:10 and 6:26. And she references Quaest. Gen. 192, which she says is a discussion of Gen 41:50 (p. 305 n. 12). This is obviously a typo: there are not 192 questions for Genesis. I think she probably means Quaest. Gen. 152 on Gen 46:26–27, which is otherwise not in her list and obviously should be. Also, she later cites this question as an example of where Augustine speaks of the prophetic inspiration of the Seventy translators (p. 306 n. 16). 

As a general statement, she says: "En effet ces essais de confrontations n'aboutissent pas à ébranler l'estime d'Augustin pour la Septante" (p. 306). This is of course true, but I think somewhat unremarkable. In the context of early Christianity, this is the normal position. What I find more remarkable about Augustine--especially given his strong defense of the LXX as inspired and authoritative for the Church--is his willingness to engage occasionally with (a Latin translation of) the Hebrew text and use it for exegesis or even for textual criticism.

See here for the full post on Genesis. I discussed five questions, but quest. 97 does not discuss variants between the LXX and Hebrew (it only says that Hebrew is useful for exegesis), so I leave it out below.

  • Quest 2: the correct reading of Gen 5:25 is the one found in the Hebrew text and the more accurate Greek codices. 
  • Quest 152: the question of how many descendants went down with Jacob to Egypt (Gen 46:26–27) becomes so confusing that Augustine gives up trying to figure it out. He recognizes that the LXX and the Hebrew text say different things, but he insists that neither one of them make any sense. He concludes that scriptural numbers are often mysterious, meaning, I guess, that the presence of these problems must mean that we need to be thinking spiritually. 
  • Quest 162: he says that the Hebrew text makes good sense, and he seems to think that the Seventy translators have changed the text and also produced a good meaning. 
  • Quest 169: the Hebrew Bible and the LXX diverge on the number of days granted for Nineveh's repentance (40 vs. 3), but both texts have spiritual meanings. 
See here for the full post on Deuteronomy. I discussed three questions, but quest. 3 does not discuss variants between the LXX and Hebrew, so I leave it out below.
  • Quest 20: Augustine finds the Hebrew text (or Jerome's translation of it) to be clearer in reference to the tithing law. The feature that Augustine finds so helpful about Jerome's translation is actually not a precise reflection of the Hebrew text but an interpretive addition made by Jerome. 
  • Quest 54: the Seventy translators have added a phrase for a spiritual purpose. 
See here for the full post on Joshua. I discussed five passages. 
  • Quest 7: Augustine finds the Hebrew text to agree with his own interpretation of a potentially confusing passage. The feature of the Vulgate that Augustine finds so helpful is an interpretive addition by Jerome. 
  • Quest 15: Augustine generally seems to prefer the Hebrew text here, though he does not completely rule out the reading preserved in his traditional Latin translation. 
  • Quest 19: the Seventy translators made additions to fill out the consequences of the narrative, consequences about which they were aware because they were later chronologically than the prophets. 
  • Quest 24: this discussion is difficult for me to interpret, but it looks to me like early on Augustine thinks the Seventy have opted for an odd but spiritually significant translation, and later he thinks that maybe his Latin version just contains a mistranslation. 
  • Quest 25: Augustine thinks the Seventy have slightly altered the text in order to point toward spiritual realities. 
See here for the full post on Judges. I discussed seven passages. 
  • Quest 16: the Hebrew text confirms Augustine's interpretation. 
  • Quest 21: the Hebrew text confirms Augustine's interpretation. 
  • Quest 25: Augustine simply notes a divergence between the Hebrew text and LXX without explaining it. 
  • Quest 37: Augustine cites the variant in the Hebrew text and says that it is planius (more clear). Augustine is not clear on whether he thinks the Hebrew reading to be original. 
  • Quest 41: the Hebrew text confirms Augustine's interpretation. 
  • Quest 47: the Hebrew text confirms Augustine's interpretation. The element of Jerome's translation that Augustine finds helpful is an interpretive element added by Jerome. 
  • Quest 55: the Hebrew text confirms Augustine's interpretation. 

Final results (18 questions): 
  • First of all, la Bonnardière is absolutely right to stress that Augustine engages the Hebrew text only 18x out of the hundreds of questions that he pursues in this work. It would be nice to know why he didn't do this more. He found consultation of the Hebrew text to be valuable for his exegesis sometimes, but he the vast majority of the time he did not do it. 
  • 10x the Hebrew text stands as correct, either as preserving the better wording, or as more clearly stating what is less clear but implied in the LXX: Quaest Gen. 2; Quaest. Deut. 20; Quaest. Ios. 7; 15; 24 (?); Quaest. Iudic.  16; 21; 41; 47; 55. 
  • 4x the Seventy translators altered the biblical text for spiritual purposes: Quaest. Gen. 169; Quaest Deut 54; Quaest Ios. 19 (not really so much for spiritual purposes as historical ones); 25. 
  • 4x Augustine is not sure of the right answer or he does not reveal his own thoughts: Quaest Gen 152; 162; Quaest Iudic. 25; 37. 
This is very similar to the conclusions reached by la Bonnardière, who judges (p. 306 n. 16) that Augustine regards the LXX as prophetic at Quaest Gen 152; Quaest Deut 54; Quaest Ios. 19; 25, and she says (p. 306 n. 17) that Augustine regards the Hebrew as valuable or clearer at Quaest Gen 97; 162; Quaest Deut 20; Quaest Ios 7; 15; Quaest Iudic. 37; 47. (She also acknowledges that sometimes Augustine does not express an opinion.)

As for her first category, I would only switch out Quaest Gen 152 for Quaest Gen 169. For the second category, la Bonnardière has a total of 7 references, while in my similar category I have a total of 10. But not only would I add a few references, I would also switch out a few. At any rate, my study in some ways confirms, but also moves beyond, the study of la Bonnardière.

I also find it interesting (funny) that Augustine sometimes finds helpful (and regards as original Hebrew) the interpretive additions made by Jerome (Quaest. Deut. 20; Quaest. Ios. 7; Quaest. Iudic. 47).

If you just can't get enough of Augustine on the Hebrew Bible, be at the San Diego Convention Center (Room 30 D, upper level) at 1pm on Saturday, November 22, and you'll hear me give a paper on the subject. It wont be all dedicated to the Quaestiones in Heptateuchum, so don't be concerned that you've already been over this ground. And if you're that interest in the topic, let's meet and discuss it!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Augustine's _Questions on Judges_ and the Hebrew Bible

Earlier posts in this series are here (Genesis), here (Deuteronomy), and here (Joshua). As Judges is the last book of the Heptateuch, this is the last book covered by Augustine in his Quaestiones in Heptateuchum.

NB: Rahlfs printed two separate translations of Judges, an A text (Codex Alexandrinus plus Origenic and Lucianic mss) and a B text (Codex Vaticanus).

Question 16 on Judges 2:13 (p. 458)
And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. (Judg 2:13 KJV)
Both Greek versions of Judges say much the same thing as the MT. Augustine wants to explain to his readers who these foreign gods are, so he says that people in that part of the world call Jupiter "Baal" and Juno "Astarte". Scripture refers to Juno in the plural (Junos = Ashtaroth) because there are many idols of Juno, and each idol can itself be called Juno. Jupiter is in the singular simply for the sake of variety.
hoc autem, id est nomine plurali Iunones in graecis secundum Septuaginta reperimus, in latinis autem singulariter erat. quorum in illo, qui non habebat Septuaginta interpretationem, sed ex hebraeo erat, Astaroth legimus nec Baal, sed Baalim. quodsi forte aliud in hebraea uel syra lingua nomina ista significant. deos tamen alios fuisse constat et falsos, quibus Israhel seruire non debuit.
But this--Juno in the plural--we found in Greek codices according the LXX, but in Latin codices it was singular. Of which, in that one that was not containing the LXX translation but was from the Hebrew, we read Astaroth and not Baal but Baalim. But if perhaps those names signify anything different in the Hebrew or Syriac language, yet it is agreed that they are different and false gods, which Israel shouldn't have served.
Here it seems to me that Augustine is citing the translation from the Hebrew in order to confirm his conjecture that the text could just as easily have put Baal (or Jupiter) in the plural as in the singular. But what Augustine says is in the Vulgate (Baalim) does not appear in the extant manuscript evidence, according to the Roman edition.

Question 21 on Judges 3:17 (p. 463)
And he went and presented the gifts to King Eglom of Moab. Now Eglom was a very handsome man. (Judges-B 3:17 NETS).
The A-text says basically the same thing. You may recall that the MT does not describe Eglon as handsome, as do the Greek texts (ἀστεῖος), but rather as fat (בריא), reflected in the Vulgate (crassus). [But fat can mean healthy, thus good-looking; cf. Gen 41:2.] Now Eglom is also fat in the LXX; when Ehud (or, rather, Aod in Greek) thrusts his dagger into the king's belly, "the fat closed over the flame" (3:22, both texts: ἀπέκλεισεν τὸ στέαρ κατὰ τῆς φλογός).

[The Hebrew להב can mean "flame" or "blade"; the Greek φλόξ usually just means "flame," but Muraoka (p. 717; also LSJ) suggests the meaning "blade" in this single passage. I assume that's what a Greek reader would have understood in this passage, even if he would have thought it an odd way of phrasing it.]

Augustine finds in his Latin text at v. 17 that Eglom was exilis valde, very thin; but he later (v. 22) finds that the fat closed over the wound. He decides that v. 17 must be intended contrary to fact. He compares lucus (forest), which does not give light (minime luceat), despite what its name might imply. Or in scripture the word "bless" often actually means "curse," for which Augustine cites the story of Naboth's vineyard (cf. 3Reigns 20(21): 10, 13 = 1Kings 21:10, 13).

At the end of the comment, we find:
nam in ea interpretatione, quae non secundum Septuaginta, sed ex hebraeo est, ita inuenimus: erat autem Eglom crassus nimis.
For in that translation which is not according to the LXX but from the Hebrew, we find thus: "now Elgom was very fat."
Augustine cites the translation from the Hebrew to confirm his own exegesis. It is not clear whether he thinks the Seventy translators themselves are responsible for speaking contrarily to fact in v. 17, or whether he thinks they have precisely represented the Hebrew and it is Jerome who has offered a more straightforward statement. Based on other passages in Augustine, I would guess that he would attribute precision to Jerome and the difficult or odd phrasing to the Seventy (though he would of course not view that as a negative).

Question 25 on Judges 3:31 (pp. 464–65)

The MT of Judg 3:31 has Shamgar strike down 600 Philistines with an oxgoad, or a cattle-goad (במלמד הבקר). The LXX seems instead to have him killing a bunch of calves: "fully six hundred men, as well as calves of cattle" (NETS; ἐκτὸς μόσχων τῶν βοῶν).

Augustine remarks:
sed quid sibi uelit quod addidit: praeter uitulos boum, obscurum est. 
But what it means that it adds beyond the calves of the cattle is obscure. 
Augustine suggests that maybe killing the cows was just a side effect of the battle against the Philistines. But then why does it specify calves? "Maybe the custom of the Greek language is to use the term calves even for those that are big?" Augustine finds Egyptian and Latin parallels for such a suggestion. And then:
non autem habet interpretatio ex hebraeo "praeter uitulos boum," sicut ista quae secundum Septuaginta est; sicut habet illa ex hebraeo: uomere occisos sexcentos uiros, quod ista non habet. 
But the interpretation from the Hebrew does not have "beyond calves of cattle," like the translation according to the LXX; just like the one from Hebrew has "600 men killed with an ploughshare," which the other does not have.
End of the discussion. Augustine does not explore why the Hebrew and LXX have different wording. He simply notes it and moves on.

Question 37 on Judges 7:6 (pp. 470–72)

This is the story of Gideon weeding down his army from 32,000, to 10,000, to 300, the last of which resulted from the particular way that his men drank from a stream. But the Latin codices reflect the multiple Greek forms of the book: Augustine finds in some Latin codices that the 300 men drank "with their hand" (= B text) and other codices that say they drank "with their tongue" (= A text). Augustine says that the Greek text has both: manu sua, lingua sua, and he explains what this would mean. I don't find any evidence for this double rendering in extant Greek mss (according to the Larger Cambridge edition), though Origen does preach both readings: it signifies that a Christian must work with both his hand and his tongue, that is in deed and word (Homilies on Judges 9.2, pp. 116–17).

Then Augustine says:
nam et interpretatio ex hebraeo planius id habet his uerbis: fuit itaque numerus eorum qui manu in os proiciente aquam lambuerant trecenti uiri. 
For also the translation from the Hebrew has it more clear in these words: so the number of those who had licked the water with the hand going up to the mouth was 300 men. 
That's really all for Augustine's comparison of texts. He moves on to explaining how men and dogs are accustomed to drink, and then explores the spiritual significance of the number 300 (= Greek tau, and so signifying the cross) and why God would choose those who drink like dogs (he likes to choose the base and despised things of the world).

Augustine doesn't really comment on which text is correct, or why there is diverse wording. He is content here simply to note the diversity and explain what each reading would mean in a way that harmonizes them all.

Question 41 on Judges 8:26–27 (pp. 473–75)

After Gideon's victory, made took some gold from the Israelites and constructed an ephod in Ephratha for Israel to worship. Augustine has a lot to say about this ephod, but the comment that concerns us has to do with the composition of the ephod. Augustine's Latin text seems to say that Gideon took all the gold and used it to make an ephod, but Augustine knows well that ephods are made of more than just gold (cf. Exod 39:2 MT; 36:9 LXX), and Gideon wouldn't have used all of the gold to make this ephod. So he explains that when his Latin text says fecit illud in ephud (he made it [= the gold] into an ephod), what it really means is fecit ex eo ephud (he made from it an ephod). He then quotes the interpretatio ex hebraeo, which has this exact rendering. The Hebrew translation confirms Augustine's exegesis.

Question 47 on Judges 10:1 (pp. 479–80)
And after Abimelech, Thola son of Phoua, son of his father's brother, a man of Issachar, rose to deliver Israel, and he himself lived at Samaria in the hill country of Ephraim. (Judg 10:1 NETS A text). 
The A and B texts say basically the same thing. The expression "son of his father's brother" is a little odd, and most English translations take the Hebrew a little differently: "son of Dodo." If dodo is actually a proper name rather than a common noun meaning "his uncle," then the entire explanation given by Augustine is irrelevant, but this option isn't open to Augustine because of the texts he's working with. Even Jerome translates it with patruus, "uncle."

Augustine finds in his Latin translation the confusing and potentially misleading expression filius patris fratris eius. Augustine wants to clarify for his readers that this does not mean "son of the father of his brother" but rather "son of the brother of his father," that is, "son of his uncle." Augustine says that Gideon and Puah were brothers, so Abimelech (Gideon's son) and Tola (Puah's son) were cousins, which means that Tola was the son of Abimelech's uncle, and therefore Abimelech must be the antecedent of eius. Augustine says this is found more clearly (euidentius) in the translation from the Hebrew. He doesn't quote the translation, but he's right that Jerome certainly presents the text so that this interpretation is a little more straightforward: filius Phoa patrui Abimelech ("son of Puah, uncle of Abimelech"). The rest of Augustine's comment is concerned with explaining how Gideon and Puah could be brothers, even though Puah is said here to be a man of Issachar while Gideon is from the tribe of Manasseh (6:15).

Augustine cites Jerome's translation as confirmation for his own interpretation.

Question 55 on Judges 15:8 (pp. 505–6)
And he struck them on the thigh [ἐπὶ μηρόν; B: shank upon thigh, κνήμην ἐπὶ μηρόν], a great blow, and he went down and was staying by the wadi in the cave of Etam [B: sat in a hole in the rock of Etam]. (Judg 15:8 NETS A text)
Augustine, reading a Latin translation of the B text, asks, "Why does it say that Samson struck the foreigners tibiam super femur?" The tibia is below the femur, not above it. And if it's talking about where on their bodies Samson struck them, are we supposed to believe that he struck everyone on the same body part? Can it mean that Samson used the tibia of an animal to strike the Philistines on their femurs? No, because it doesn't say tiba super femur but tibiam super femur, and, in any case, we've already said that it's absurd to think that Samson would have paid such attention to where on their bodies he was going to strike them. "Certainly this unusual locution creates an obscurity." Augustine says that it must mean that the Philistines reacted to the great slaughter wrought by Samson by putting their tibias on their femurs, which he interprets as a posture of amazement, as if they put their hands to their faces.

Then he cites the Vulgate:
hunc sensum ita se habere etiam interpretatio, quae est ex hebraeo, satis edocet; nam ita legitur: percussitque eos ingenti plaga, ita ut stupentes suram femori inponerent. 
This matches exactly the Weber-Gryson edition of the Vulgate. Augustine cites Jerome's translation to confirm his own interpretation.

Conclusion for Judges 

Out of the 7 passages in the Questiones de Iudicibus in which Augustine cites Jerome's Hebrew translation for comparison, 5 times the purpose of the citation is to confirm the interpretation that Augustine has already proposed for the passage (questions 16, 21, 41, 47, 55). The other two times he cites the Vulgate (questions 25, 37), he simply notes the reading as distinct from the LXX and explains it on its own terms without trying to determine how the two different readings arose or which is correct.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Augustine's _Questions on Joshua_ and the Hebrew Bible

Continuing in the same series; earlier posts here and here.

Question 7 on Joshua 5:13–15 (pp. 423–24)

At the end of this comment, Augustine points out that despite what his Latin text seems to say (in Iericho), Joshua was not actually in Jericho at the time of encountering the "commander-in-chief of the force of the Lord" (5:14 NETS) because the walls had not yet come tumblin' down. He must have been outside the walls, in the field. nam interpretatio, quae est ex hebraeo, sic habet. Sure enough, the Vulgate does explicitly say that Joshua was in the field of the city of Jericho (in agro urbis Hiericho, 5:13). The MT has ביריחו. BHS lists no variants, and this passage is not extant among the DSS. It looks like Jerome has added some clarifying words (in agro urbis) to his translation, and Augustine has accepted this translation as a precise reflection of the Hebrew text and so confirmation of his view that Joshua was not actually in Jericho but outside it. This is similar to what we saw in the previous post in Question 20 on Deut 14:28-29.

Question 15 on Joshua 10:5–6 (p. 432)

After the Israelites make a covenant with the Gibeonites (Josh 9), some Canaanite kings attack Gibeon and Gibeon asks the Israelites for help (Josh 10:1-6). In the LXX, the five kings that attack Gibeon are called kings of the Jebusites (10:5), but later when the Gibeonites ask for help, they describe their attackers as kings of the Amorites (10:6). In the MT, the term Amorite appears both places. Augustine notes this fact and says that the Hebrew makes sense because really the term Jebusite refers to an inhabitant of Jerusalem, not to a Canaanite more generally. Or maybe it can, Augustine suggests, like Libya can mean a part of Africa or Africa as a whole, and Asia can mean part or whole.

Augustine doesn't offer any more explanation. He does not say whether the Hebrew text or the LXX is correct, or whether one of them has suffered scribal corruption, and he does not discuss what spiritual realities might lie behind either rendering. He does seek to explain how his traditional Latin text (based on the LXX) might make sense after all, though it seems to me that he prefers the easier explanation that the Hebrew text preserves the correct reading here.

Question 19 on Joshua 16:10 (pp. 434–35)

At Josh 16:10, after saying that the Ephraimites did not drive out the Canaanites from Gezer, the MT simply says that the Canaanites in Gezer have been subjected to forced labor. In the LXX, instead of this conclusion, we find a much longer statement:
until Pharao, king of Egypt, went up and took it, and he burned it with fire, and they massacred the Chananites and the Pherezites and those living in Gazer, and Pharao gave it as a dowry to his daughter. (NETS)
This supplement is taken mostly from 1Kings 9:16–17.

The problem for Augustine - before even mentioning the textual variant - is that the Book of Joshua was written near in time to the events it describes, so how could the author know what Pharaoh would later do? He would have to have included this detail through prophecy, but why would this particular detail - which seems a rather insignificant matter - be chosen for prophetic inclusion? Augustine gives up on this route and attributes the addition instead to the Seventy translators.
proinde potius existimandum est septuaginta interpretes, qui auctoritate prophetica ex ipsa mirabili consensione interpretati esse perhibentur, haec addidisse, non tamquam futura praenuntiantes, sed quia illo tempore ipsi erant, quo facta esse meminerant et in libris Regnorum legerant; etenim regum temporibus factum est. quod ideo credibilius nobis uisum est, quoniam inspeximus interpretationem quae est ex hebraeo et hoc ibi non inuenimus. 
So one should rather conclude that the Seventy translators, who, because of the miraculous consensus, are regarded as having translated with prophetic authority, added these things, not as if predicting the future, but because they lived in that time in which they mentioned that these things were already done and they are read in the books of Kings. It was accomplished in the times of the Kings. This seems all the more credible to me because I have inspected the interpretation which is from the Hebrew and I did not find this. 
Augustine compares this passage to another one, when Joshua pronounces a curse on anyone who would rebuild Jericho (6:26). The MT shows the fulfillment of this curse in 1 Kings 16:34, but the LXX has that fulfillment already mentioned in the original verse (Josh 6:26). Here again, Augustine has checked the interpretatio ex hebraeo and found that the fulfillment is not contained in Josh 6:26.
unde adparet a Septuaginta interpositum, qui factum esse nouerant
so it is apparent that it was inserted by the Seventy, who knew what had happened.
Augustine does not think that these insertions are a product of any special knowledge on the part of the Seventy. They were just expanding the narrative with further information available to them and not available to the original authors. But he is careful to say that they do have prophetic authority, thereby justifying their editing of scripture.

Question 24 on Joshua 23:14 (p. 443)

Joshua says that he is about to "go the way of all the earth." Augustine finds the term recurro in his text, whereas the interpretatio quae est ex hebraeo has the verb ingredior. So, the Hebrew text just has "go," but the LXX has "return." The Seventy translators must have been thinking of something like the passage at Gen 3:19, where God says to that man that he will return to the earth, in reference to his body. Augustine realizes that the word "return" could be used in reference to the spirit, like in Eccl 12:7 where the spirit returns to God, but he thinks this makes sense only for the righteous. Joshua is certainly righteous, but since he says "return like all who are on the earth," he seems to be including the wicked and so he must not be talking about the spirit returning to God but the body returning to the earth. At the end of this discussion, Augustine turns to a critique of the Latin translator of the LXX, who found in his Greek text the word ἀποτρέχω and rendered it recurro instead of percurro or excurro. He thinks that the rendering of ἀποτρέχω at Gen 24:51 with recurro has influenced the translator of Josh 23:14.

So I'm not sure what to make of this discussion. At the end of it he seems unsure whether the LXX has the verb ἀποτρέχω: si hoc potest dici quod graecus habet ἀποτρέχω. He seems to think that recurro is not the best translation of this Greek word, both because of the meaning of the Greek word and because of the context of the passage. But at the beginning of the discussion Augustine seemed to want to find the appropriate interpretation for recurro, and attributed the use of that word to the Seventy translators. Maybe as he is writing his answer he continues to do more research, looks at the Greek text (instead of just his Latin translation of it) and finds ἀποτρέχω, and then becomes doubtful that recurro is even the right word to use.

Question 25 on Joshua 24:3 (pp. 443–44)

The LXX of Josh 24:3 has God say that he took Abraham and led him "in all the land," whereas the MT has "in all the land of Canaan" (בכל ארץ כנען). Jerome's Vulgate has "in the land of Canaan" (in terram Chanaan), which Augustine takes to be a precise representation of the Hebrew text.
mirum est ergo, si Septuaginta pro terra Chanaan omnem terram ponere uoluerunt nisi intuentes prophetiam, ut magis ex promissione dei tamquam factum accipiatur, quod certissime futurum in Christo et in ecclesia praenuntiabatur, quod est uerum semen Abrahae non in filiis carnis, sed in filiis promissionis. 
It is remarkable, then, if the Seventy wanted to put "all the land" instead of "land of Canaan," unless considering prophecy, so that it should be accepted as done more from the promise of God, because the future in Christ and in the Church was certainly being pre-announced, because the true seed of Abraham is not in sons of the flesh but in sons of promise (Rom 9:8).
Augustine seems to be interpreting the LXX's "all the land" as meaning "the entire earth" so that it has reference to the spiritual inheritance of the spiritual descendants of Abraham in Christ (cf. Rom. 4:13). Whereas Jerome's Vulgate reflects the original text accurately, the Seventy wanted to point toward spiritual realities.

Augustine's _Questions on Deuteronomy_ and the Hebrew Bible

This continues my thoughts from last time. Go there for an introduction to this series.

Augustine does not have any comments on the Hebrew text for Exodus, Leviticus, or Numbers, so we turn to Deuteronomy.

Question 3 on Deuteronomy 3:11 (p. 371)

At Deut 3:11, the Hebrew word rephaim appears, which the Seventy transliterate. Augustine says that those who know Hebrew say that the word means 'giants'. Here Hebrew is a help for exegesis.

Question 20 on Deuteronomy 14:28-29; 15:1 (pp. 386-88)

The passage concerns the poor tithe: every three years, instead of going to Jerusalem and eating your tithe (Deut 14:22-27), you're supposed to dump your whole tithe into the middle of town for poor people (Levite, alien, orphan, widow) to eat. Or, at least, that's what the MT seems to me to indicate (the poor tithe replaces the regular tithe every third year). For several reasons Augustine finds his Latin translation of the LXX to be unclear about the distinction between this tithe and the other one that you're supposed to offer every year. So, Augustine quotes Jerome's translation for this passage; he doesn't name the translator, he just says in ea interpretatione quae est ex hebraeo apertius hoc distinctum reperimus. This translation from the Hebrew is clearer because it clarifies that the poor tithe should happen "in the third year" not "after three years," and it is clearly labeled "another" tithe, in addition to the one already consumed by the worshipper in Jerusalem. This is an interesting decision by Jerome, to insert the word aliam before decimam (not exactly reflected in the Hebrew text) with the effect that Deut 14 commands two tithes to be given every third year. This is not the way the Rabbis reconciled Deuteornomy's tithing laws, but Augustine seems convinced by Jerome's translation; he clearly thinks this is a more precise translation from the Hebrew. Augustine does not comment on why the LXX is unclear in the tithing law.

Question 54 on Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (pp. 413-14)

This Deuteronomic passage is the one about the Law being near you, in your heart, not in heaven or across the sea. At the end of the passage, the LXX says:
The word is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart and in your hands, to do it. (30:14 NETS)
 Augustine recognizes that the Hebrew text does not have the phrase "in your hands."
nec frustra tamen hoc a septuaginta interpretibus additum existimo: nisi quia intellegi uoluerunt etiam ipsas manus, quibus significantur opera, in corde accipi debere, ubi est fides quae per dilectionem operatur. nam si forinsecus ea quae deus iubet manibus fiant et in corde non fiant, nemo est tam insulsus, qui praecepta arbitretur inpleri. porro si caritas, quae plenitudo legis est, habitet in corde, etiamsi manibus corporis quisquam non possit operari, pax illi est utique cum hominibus bonae uoluntatis. 
But I do not think this was added by the Seventy translators to no purpose: unless because they wanted it to be understood that even the hands themselves, which signify actions, ought to be received in the heart, where faith is, which operates through love (Gal 5:6). For if those things which God commands are done externally and are not done in the heart, no one is so stupid that he will judge the precepts to be fulfilled. If love, which is the fulfillment of the law (Rom 13:10), lives in the heart, even if someone cannot work with bodily hands, there is still peace to him with men of good will (cf. Luke 2:14). 
That's the end of the discussion. Augustine appreciates the addition of "hands" even though he obviously considers the heart - already there in the Hebrew text and retained in the LXX - to be the more important element.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Augustine's _Questions on Genesis_ and the Hebrew Bible

A number of times in Augustine's writings he interacts with variants between the LXX (a Latin translation of which served as his primary scriptural text) and the Hebrew text, which he accessed mostly through Jerome's more recent Latin translations. One of his later works, the Quaestiones in Heptateuchum (419 CE), deals with a number of such variants. This post will present Augustine's statements on these variants for the first book of this work, which deals with questions on Genesis.

You can find the CSEL edition here. The page numbers below refer to this edition. (But see also this nice online version that uses Migne's text.)

I have searched the Library of Latin Texts (Brepols) database to find all the places in this first book where Augustine talks about "Hebrew", and I isolated the following five instances in which he has something to say about the Hebrew text. I try to provide enough context to make clear what Augustine is talking about, but I'm not concerned at this point in evaluating everything Augustine says. Right now I'm just wanting to present his comments.

Question 2 on Genesis 5:25 (p. 4)

The question concerns Methuselah's age at death, a problem for many Church Fathers because in their Greek text it appeared that Methuselah lived beyond the time of the flood, but since he didn't join Noah in the ark, he should have died before the flood or in it. (The MT and SP have Methuselah die during the year of the flood, though they have several divergences among them. See Hendel's article here.) Augustine deals with this question more extensively in City of God 15.11-15, where he argues that the Hebrew text more accurately gives the numbers of the Patriarchs' ages than do the Greek manuscripts at his disposal, which he thinks have become corrupt in the course of their transmission. That is, he does not attribute the error to the original Seventy translators.

At Quaest. in Gen. 2, he says:
sed hanc quaestionem plurium codicum mendositas peperit. non solum quippe in hebraeis aliter inuenitur uerum etiam in Septuaginta interpretatione Mathusalam in codicibus paucioribus sed ueracioribus sex annos ante diluuium reperitur fuisse defunctus. 
But the error of many codices has caused this question. For not only in the Hebrew codices is it found differently but also in the LXX translation in fewer but more accurate codices Methuselah is discovered to have died six years before the flood. 
I'm using M. Harl's translation and annotation of Greek Genesis as a guide on how all this works out. She says that when you add up all the numbers in the genealogies, the LXX locates the flood in year 2242 from creation and Methuselah dies in year 2256. There were three ways for ancients dealing with the Greek text to solve this problem: (a) keep Methuselah's lifespan the same (969 years), but add twenty years to the time when he became the father of Lamech (aged 187 rather than 167), so that the flood comes twenty years later, now in year 2262. For this solution, see Josephus (A.J. 1.86), Julius Africanus (PG 10.68a), and a corrector of Codex Alexandrinus, and several other Greek mss (cited in Wevers' apparatus). This is also the solution that Augustine has seen in some Greek manuscripts, as he says above. (b) Augustine knows some exegetes who think that Methuselah was translated to heaven along with his father Enoch (Gen 5:24) until after the flood, when he apparently came back to earth, lived 14 more years, and then died (City of God 15.11). (c) Jerome adopted the Hebrew reading.

Question 97 on Genesis 31:47 (p. 50)

The question concerns the verse reporting a covenant made between Jacob and Laban, for which they set up a stone as a witness.
Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha: but Jacob called it Galeed.
Laban gives the stone an Aramaic name, consistent with his Aramaean heritage as presented in Genesis. Jacob gives the stone a Hebrew name. This comes across in Augustine's Latin translation as aceruum testimonii (Laban's name for the stone) and aceruum testem (Jacob's name for it). So the question: why two different names?
traditur ab eis qui et syram et hebraeam linguam nouerunt propter proprietates suae cuiusque linguae factum. fieri enim solet, ut alia lingua non dicatur uno uerbo, quod alia dicitur, et uicinitate significationis quidque appelletur.  
It is reported by those who know the Syriac [= Aramaic] and Hebrew language that it was done on account of the properties of each one's own language. For it is customary that what is said in one language is not said in another language with the same word, and things are designated by a word close to the same meaning. 
Augustine uses the information provided by Semitic linguists (surely Jerome) to undergird his own assertion that word-for-word translation is impossible. This doesn't exalt or disparage the Hebrew text, but it does assume that knowledge of Hebrew (and Aramaic) is useful for exegesis, just as Augustine had asserted in De Doctrina Christiana 2.11.16.

Question 152 on Genesis 46:26-27 (pp. 78-79)

According to Gen 46:26 (LXX and MT), a total of 66 people entered Egypt with Jacob. In the next verse, the MT says that Joseph had two sons in Egypt, bringing the total to 70 persons (apparently including Joseph, Ephraim, Manasseh, and Jacob; here I follow Jerome, QHG 46:26), and the LXX says that Joseph had nine descendants in Egypt, bringing the total to 75. The problem Augustine poses is why the LXX would count even the grandsons of Joseph in the reckoning of 75 persons "with whom Jacob entered Egypt" (cum quibus Iacob intrauit in Aegyptum), since Joseph and his children were in Egypt, they did not enter with Jacob. Augustine answers that we should imagine the "with whom" as equivalent to "from the house of Jacob when he entered Egypt."

But there's a further difficulty: when Jacob entered Egypt, Joseph surely only had 2 descendants, not 9, because Ephraim and Manasseh would have been too young (about 9 years old) to have any children yet. Augustine recognizes that the Hebrew text does count only Ephraim and Manasseh among Joseph's descendants at this point in the story: hoc loco hebraei codices habere dicuntur, that is, it is said that the Hebrew codices count only Ephraim and Manasseh here. Augustine goes on to say that the LXX itself does the same thing in a passage in Exodus, but I haven't been able to figure out what passage he's talking about. The CSEL editor references Exod 1:5, but I fail to see why Augustine would think LXX Exod 1:5 counts only Ephraim and Manasseh among Joseph's descendants, since it again gives the number 75 (though MT again has 70). [Is it possible that Augustine read 70 in his text of Exod 1:5? I doubt it: the first apparatus of the Göttingen LXX lists only the Syrohexapla and the Ethiopic version as attesting such a reading. Now, the LXX of Deut 10:22 has the number 70, so maybe Augustine has just misremembered which book has this alternative reckoning. Philo (Migr. 199-200) makes both numbers (70 and 75) meaningful. Origen has the number 70 at De Princ. 4.23.]

Augustine does not think the Seventy are in error at Gen 46:26-27, though. Rather, "they wanted to fill up this number on account of some mystical significance as if by some prophetic liberty." Maybe the Seventy translators are trying to take account of all the children born to Joseph while Jacob was still alive? No, that wont work, because Jacob only lived in Egypt for 17 years (Gen 47:28), and he entered Egypt in the second year of the famine (Gen 45:6), and Joseph didn't get married until the years of plenty had already started (Gen 41:46, 50), so at most Ephraim and Manasseh were only 26 years old when Jacob died, and they could not have been grandfathers yet (cf. Gen 46:20 LXX).

Does the Hebrew text help us here?
sed neque ulla hebraeica ueritate ista soluitur quaestio.
I love that line. I imagine Augustine being fed up with hearing people acclaim the "Hebrew truth," and he contemptuously says, "no amount of Hebrew truth helps to solve this question!" (Take that, Jerome!) Why? Because even if you don't count Joseph's great grandchildren, you've still got to count Benjamin's grandchildren. Augustine says that even the Hebrew text says that the number 66 (Gen 46:26) includes all of Benjamin's descendants up to that point, which would have included his grandchildren and a great grandson (cf. LXX Gen 46:21). [Is Augustine unaware that the MT counts all of the descendants of Benjamin listed in Gen 46:21 as his own children, not any being his grandchildren, as in the LXX? But see Num 26:38-41.]

There are further problems: all of Joseph's descendants add up to 8 (Gen 46:20), Benjamin's 11 (46:21), but the total number of descendants attributed to Rachel--the mother of Joseph and Benjamin--is 18 (46:22). And later Joseph is credited with 9 descendants (46:27), though only 8 were listed earlier.

Augustine despairs and offers hope at the same time:
haec omnia, quae indissolubilia uidentur, magnam continent sine dubitatione rationem; sed nescio utrum possint cuncta ad litteram conuenire praecipue in numeris, quos in scripturis esse sacratissimos et mysteriorum plenissimos, ex quibusdam, quos inde nosse potuimus, dignissime credimus.
All these things, which seem unsolvable, no doubt contain great reasoning; but I don't know whether they can all literally fit together especially in the numbers, which in the scriptures we most worthily believe to be most sacred and most full of mysteries, from some which we have been able to know.  
End of the discussion.

[I'm not sure that I've got that last bit right: ex quibusdam, quos inde nosse potuimus.]

Question 162 on Genesis 47:31 (pp. 84-85)

The verse says: "Then Isreal [= Jacob] bowed his head on the head of his staff/bed." The difference between 'staff' and 'bed' for this Hebrew word is merely vocalic; the same consonants are used. The LXX translated with 'staff'; most modern translations (and Jerome) choose 'bed'. Augustine finds a number of variants in the Latin codices available to him, mostly concerned with how "on the head" is phrased, and the antecedent of "his" (Jacob's or Joseph's): super caput virgae eius, super caput virgae suae, in capite virgae suae, in cacumen, super cacumen. He first discusses the antecedent of 'his', explaining that Latin suae or eius reflect different interpretations of a single Greek word that does distinguish meanings with an accent and can distinguish meanings with an extra letter, but doesn't always. After discussing this a bit more, he notes:
quamuis in hebraeo facillima huius queastionis absolutio esse dicatur, ubi scriptum perhibent: et adorauit Israhel ad caput lecti, in quo utique senex iacebat et sic positum habebat, ut in eo sine labore, quando uellet, oraret. nec ideo tamen quod Septuaginta interpretati sunt nullum uel leuem sensum habere putandum est. 
Although in Hebrew the solution to the question is said to be easy, where they have written: and Israel bowed on the head of the bed, in which certainly the old man was reclining and having himself positioned so that on it without work he could speak when he wanted. But neither should it be thought that what the Seventy have translated has no meaning or an inferior meaning.
End of the discussion.

Question 169 on Genesis 50:3

The verse says that it took 40 days for the embalming/burial of Joseph, and Augustine explores what figurative significance such a time period might have. It might be related to a set period for penitence and fasting, just as Moses (Exod 34:28), Elijah (1Kings 19:8), and Jesus (Matt 4:2) all fasted for 40 days, and 40 days is the length of time granted to Nineveh in the Hebrew text of Jonah 3:4 to repent of their sins and fast. Augustine recognizes that 40 days is not always a period of mourning or repentance: Jesus spent 40 days with his disciples post-resurrection and that was a period of joy (Acts 1:3). Another problem with this view is that the LXX does not have the number 40 at Jonah 3:4 but rather 3 days.
nec septuaginta interpretes, quos legere consueuit ecclesia, errasse credendi sunt, ut non dicerent; quadraginta dies, sed: triduum et Nineue euertetur. maiore quippe auctoritate praediti quam interpretum officium est prophetico spiritu, quo etiam ore uno in suis interpretationibus, quod magnum miraculum fuit, consonuisse firmantur, triduum posuerunt, quamuis non ignorarent quod dies quadraginta in hebraeis codicibus legerentur, ut in domini Iesu Christi clarificatione intellegerentur dissolui obolerique peccata, de quo dictum est: qui traditus est propter delicta nostra et resurrexit propter iustificationem nostram [Rom. 4:25]. clarificatio autem domini in resurrectione et in caelum ascensione cognoscitur. unde et bis numero quamuis unum et eundem spiritum sanctum dedit: primo, posteaquam resurrexit, iterum, posteaquam ascendit in caelum. et quoniam post triduum resurrexit, post quadraginta autem dies ascendit, unum horum, quod posterius factum est, numero dierum codices hebraei significant; alterum autem de triduo, quod ad eandem etiam rem pertinent, Septuaginta commemorare non interpretationis seruitute sed prophetiae auctoritate uoluerunt. non ergo dicamus unum horum falsum esse et pro aliis interpretibus aduersus alios litigemus, cum et illi, qui ex hebraeo interpretantur, probent nobis hoc scriptum esse quod interpretantur, et septuaginta interpretum auctoritas, quae tanto etiam diuinitus facto miraculo commendatur, tanta in ecclesiis uetustate firmetur.
But we should not believe that the Seventy translators, whom the church is used to reading, have made a mistake when they have not said "40 days" but "3 days and Nineveh will be destroyed." Since the office of one endowed with the prophetic spirit has more authority than the office of translators, and by that prophetic spirit they are confirmed to have agreed in their individual translations even as with one mouth--which was a great miracle--they put 3 days, although they were not ignorant that 40 days were read in the Hebrew codices, so that sins would be understood to be destroyed and abolished at the glorification of our Lord Jesus Christ, concerning whom it is written: "Who was handed over for our offenses and he rose for our justification" (Rom 4:25). Now the glorification of the Lord is known in his resurrection and ascension into heaven. Hence also twice in number he gave the Holy Spirit although it was one and the same spirit: first, after he rose (cf. John 20:22), again, after he ascended into heaven (cf. Acts 2:2-4). And because he rose after 3 days, and he ascended after 40 days, the one of these that happened later the Hebrew codices signify by the number of days (Jonah 3:4); the other concerning three days, which pertains to the very same thing, the Seventy wished to commemorate not by the servility of a translation but by the authority of prophecy. Therefore let us not say one of these is false and so argue on behalf of some translators against others, since even those who translate from Hebrew prove to us that what they translate is written, and the authority of the Seventy translators, which is commended by so great a divinely accomplished miracle, is established by such long use in the churches. 
Augustine has a similar discussion of Jonah 3:4 at City of God 18.44.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Basil the Great, Proverbs 8:22, and the Hebrew Bible

I've been reading Kevin Giles' book on the Eternal Generation of the Son, not a topic of my expertise but also not outside my interests. At Kindle location 1351 (ch. 5, on the Cappadocians), he comments on Basil of Caesarea's interpretation of Proverbs 8:22, and this does interact with a topic to which I have devoted some study, the patristic reception of Hebrew scripture.

Proverbs 8:22 was a favorite verse of opponents of the Nicene definition of the Trinity, because it could be interpreted as affirming that the Son of God was created and not eternal. In the LXX, it reads:
κύριος ἔκτισέν με ἀρχὴν ὁδῶν αὐτοῦ εἰς ἔργα αὐτοῦ
The Lord created me as the beginning of his ways, for the sake of his works. (NETS
The speaker of this line in the text of Proverbs is "Wisdom," and every fourth-century Christian knew that Christ himself was the wisdom of God (1Cor 1:24, 30). They regularly assumed that Christ was the speaker of this passage. But if so, does this verse not affirm that Christ is himself a created thing, a creature, and not eternal God? So Arius seems to have interpreted, and, more to the point, so Eunomius interpreted it.

The pro-Nicene Church Fathers had different ways of handling this passage without accepting the idea that the verse affirms the creation of the Son. Athanasius interpreted it in terms of the incarnation (Or. 2.44-56). Basil says (Adv. Eun. 2.20) that this single verse should not override other scriptures that affirm the divinity of the Son, and he cautions that the Book of Proverbs is enigmatic. But his third argument against the interpretation of Eunomius is what I want to highlight:
But in the meantime let us be sure not to let the following point go unnoticed: that other translators, who have hit upon the meaning of the Hebrew words in a more appropriate way [οἱ καιοιώτερον τῆς σημασίας τῶν Ἑβραϊκῶν καθικόμενοι], render it as "he acquired me" instead of he created me. This is going to be a great obstacle for them against their blasphemous term 'creature.' For the one who said: I have acquired a man through God [Gn 4.1] clearly used this term, not because he had created Cain, but rather because he had begotten him. (trans. DelCogliano and Radde-Gallwitz, 160-61; the Greek can be found at PG 29.616-17. I don't have access to the SC edition; TLG uses Migne for this text.)
[Basil messes up that last bit, where he seems to think that Adam is the speaker in Gen 4:1 (note the masculine pronouns), whereas it is actually Eve. The translators point out in a note that Basil follows Eusebius of Caesarea in this error.]

Basil is referencing here the alternative Greek translations of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, traditionally understood as second-century CE Jewish translators. He makes the argument that these later translators provide insight into the meaning of the passage by offering the term "acquire" as a substitute for "create."

My interest in this has to do with the implications of this argument for Basil's view of the authoritative text of the Bible. His argument seems to rely on the notion that the Hebrew text of scripture is authoritative for the Church. I haven't studied Basil's views on this topic in detail, and I'm not sure that there is much in his works that would provide material for such a study. I have studied the views of other Fathers (in ch. 5 here, and also here), and if I am correctly interpreting Basil's thought in this passage, I can say that he does not stand alone in affirming the theoretical importance (and at least occasional practical importance, as we see here) of the Hebrew text of scripture.

Of course, Basil doesn't discuss here how he can reconcile these statements with what I presume to be his view that the Greek text of the LXX is inspired and also authoritative for the Church. He probably would have said that the Seventy translators rendered the text ambiguously, perhaps even with edifying intent--to push readers toward higher spiritual realities. But the more recent translators offer a clearer, more straightforward rendering, which helps us to figure out what the LXX means. This is the way some other Church Fathers thought of the matter, and so it is reasonable to attribute the view to Basil. The LXX retains its authoritative position, but it should be interpreted in accordance with the true meaning of the Hebrew text as revealed by the more recent translators.

One of Basil's modern translators--Mark DelCogliano--has written an article on Basil's interpretation of Proverbs 8:22 where he points out that Basil largely depends on Eusebius of Caesarea for most of his thoughts on the passage, including his citation of other translations as offering superior interpretations of the Hebrew text. Eusebius offers this interpretation at Ecclesiastica Theologia 3.2.15 (Eusebius Werke IV, p. 142). DelCogliano (188 n. 26) also cites Epiphanius (Panarion 69.25.1-9) as following the same line.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Another Review of My Book

I was glad to see in the latest issue of Biblische Zeitschrift (vol. 58/1, 2014, pp. 115-19) that Heinz-Josef Fabry reviewed my Hebrew Scripture in Patristic Biblical Theory. If you want to practice your German, give it a read. It's a pretty positive review, mostly summary of my argument. His first paragraph describes the book as "dieses für die Bibelwissenschaft ungemein instruktive Buch." The main weakness he identifies is redundancy, which I suppose I cannot deny. But, he concludes: "Die Fülle an Informationen macht diesen negativen Eindruck jedoch mehr als wett. So bildet das Buch mitsamt seiner mächtigen Bibliographie ein unverzichtbares Hilfsmittel für jeden, der die Rezeption der Bibel in der frühchristlichen Zeit erforschen will."

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

SBL Meeting in November

I'm back from a trip to Haiti. While I was gone, the SBL released the online program for its Fall meeting. I'll be participating in back-to-back sessions on Saturday.

Greek Bible
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: Room 30 D (Upper level) - San Diego Convention Center (CC)Theme: Open Session
Ed Gallagher, Heritage Christian University
Augustine on the Greek and Hebrew Bible (30 min)
Francesca Schironi , University of Michigan
Origen and P.Grenf. 1.5 (30 min)
Courtney Friesen, University of Oxford
Getting Samuel Sober: A Plus in LXX 1 Sam 1:11 and Its Ethical Afterlife (30 min)
Dirk Büchner, Trinity Western University
Thoughts on the Influence of the Pentateuch on later Translational Praxis. (30 min)

Function of Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphal Writings in Early Judaism and Early Christianity
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: 400 A (Level 4 (Sapphire)) - Hilton Bayfront (HB)Theme: Function of Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphal Writings in Africa
Ed Gallagher, Heritage Christian University
The Antilegomena in Rufinus of Aquileia (30 min)
Hany N. Takla, St. Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society
The Change in the reception of the Old Testament Apocrypha (Deutrocanonical) in the Coptic Church (30 min)
Jack Collins, University of Virginia
"Degraded from Their Heavenly Vigour": Fallen Angels, the Testament of Solomon, and the Demonology of the Early African Church (30 min)
Pierre Johan Jordaan, North-West University (South Africa)
The Reception of The Martyr texts in 2 Maccabees 6 and 7 in a Multicultural South African Environ ment (30 min)
Business Meeting (30 min)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Jewish Revolts and the Beginnings of the Rabbinic Movement

I've read another couple chapters (specifically, chs. 4-5) in Seth Schwartz new book on ancient Jews. (Previous posts are here and here.) I'm reading the Kindle version, so I'm citing the Kindle location numbers rather than page numbers.

Chapter 4 covers the period of the Jewish revolts in the first and second centuries, and ch. 5 discusses the Rabbis. Here are some notes:

On the significance of 70 CE:
The destruction of Jerusalem in the summer of 70 constituted as sharp a turning-point as any in Jewish history. This bears emphasis, because a revisionist trend in Judaic scholarship argues otherwise (D. Schwartz 2012; Klawans 2012). (loc. 2138). 
The year 70 CE marked transformations in demography, politics, Jewish civic status, Palestinian and more general Jewish economic and social structures, Jewish religious life beyond the sacrificial cult, and even Roman politics and the topography of the city of Rome itself. In the pages that follow I will briefly address each of these issues. (loc. 2160)
You'll have to read the section to see if you think Schwartz makes his case. On the whole I think so, though I'm not sure that he really nails it on the transformation of Jewish religion. He says that it was transformed "even beyond the very significant fact that at least for the time being cult and pilgrimage--the central features of pre-70 Judaism--were impossible" (loc. 2201). But then he goes on to talk about how the loss of the cult must have been traumatic. Indeed. But it reads a bit like a guess. In the next chapter Schwartz mentions a story in the Palestinian Talmud [without citing the passage, as far as I can tell] about a Jew in Rome "who observed Passover not with a seder but with the sacrificial slaughter of a lamb, something the rabbis strongly opposed," and just below this Schwartz mentions the account of Philo, when the temple still stood, about some Jews who observed Yom Kippur by fasting and praying; "evidently some Jews had figured out ways to observe the essentially cultic Jewish festivals outside Jerusalem" (loc. 2637). The only religious element "beyond" the cult that he mentions as having been transformed is that Jews might have thought that their God had been defeated by the Romans. It's hard to argue with that guess. Anyway, it does make sense to me that Jewish religious life, at least in Palestine, was significantly altered by this event, and the other areas Schwartz mentions--especially demography, economy, social structures--were certainly affected.

Why do we have to take guesses about this post-destruction period?
Aside from some bits of information about his own later life at Rome, Josephus' account comes to an end with the reduction of the last rebel stronghold, Masada, near the shore of the Dead Sea, in 73 or 74 CE. His works are the last extant general Jewish narrative history for many, many centuries to come, arguably until late in the Italian Renaissance. This means that even the most basic facts about how the Jews organized themselves and conducted their lives in the wake of the destruction have to be laboriously reconstructed from poor and scattered sources, often from material whose very relevance to the questions it is called on to answer is uncertain. (loc. 2241)
Despite this lack of narrative history,
there seem excellent grounds for supposing that these events [the Diaspora Revolt of 116-117 and the Bar Kokhba Revolt of 132-135] were catastrophic; all evidence for Jewish presence in Egypt fails for almost two centuries after 117, and archaeological surveys and excavations appear to confirm the claim of Cassius Dio [Historia Romana 68.32.1-3] that the district of Judaea was largely depopulated by 135; it recovered only in the fourth century, and then as a Christian district. (loc. 2249)
In the note (n. 12): "Barring new discoveries, there will be little to add to Pucci Ben Zeev 2005 on the subject of the Diaspora Revolt."

Further on our lack of knowledge:
[On the Diaspora Revolt:] we do not even know whether the disturbances in Cyrene, Egypt, Cyprus, Mesopotamia and elsewhere were connected and, if so, how. (loc. 2297)
[On Bar Kokhba:] Who exactly Shim'on ben Kosibah was, where he came from, what sort of military experience he had and where he got it (there is a single possible answer to this, in effect: the Roman army), why he would have thought that anyone would regard him as the messianic saviour predicted--according to the type of reading common in the first and second centuries--in the Hebrew Bible, indeed, whether he did so (see Schäfer 1981; 2003), we will probably never know. (loc. 2375) 
In ch. 5, on the Rabbis, Schwartz argues against the "maximalists" (his term) that take the rabbinic accounts about their own history, or, let's say, who take a traditional reading of rabbinic accounts about their own history at face value. Schwartz is an admitted minimalist, who thinks that rabbinic sources don't tell us a whole lot about what Judaism was like right after 70. In one passage where Schwartz cites the opinion of "the distinguished Jewish historian Salo Baron (1985-1989)," a maximalist, Schwartz says that it is "revealingly unclear" what evidence Baron can cite for his own position. I like that phrase: revealingly unclear. That says a lot.

Schwartz starts at the point when we actually know something. He says by the time the Jews emerged out of the Dark Ages and into the Medieval Islamic and Christian worlds:

  1. Greek was lost
  2. Hebrew was revived, though the linguistic situation was varied
  3. Jews were organized in local communities with limited autonomy. "The Torah was back in business as the constitution of the Jews, but in most places it was refracted through the interpretation of the rabbis--experts who drew their authority from their mastery not only of the Bible but, much more importantly, of the Talmud." (loc. 2556)
How far back can we date this type of organization. Should we think it was already in place before 70 with the Pharisees serving as the proto-Rabbis?
The view that local Jewish religious life was controlled by the Pharisees is not supported by any evidence beyond a single dubious and hard-to-parse statement by Josephus (Ant. 18.15). (loc. 2589)

On the origins of the Rabbis:

  • "It bears repeating that there were no rabbis before 70. Rabbinic literature itself never applies the title 'rabbi' even to pre-70 figures who clearly played an important role in rabbinic prehistory, such as Hillel (often erroneously called Rabbi Hillel by modern writers), a contemporary of Herod. It has often been supposed that the rabbis were simply the post-70 version of the Pharisees--a supposition fundamental to the maximalist view: if the rabbis were Pharisees, and the Pharisees actually did control Jewish life outside the temple before 70, then they could simply continue after 70 to exercise the authority they had achieved earlier. If by contrast they were a new group, they had to struggle for legitimacy and for a role in Jewish life. But were they in fact Pharisees?" (loc. 2665). 
  • Schwartz' answer is no, because the Pharisees and Rabbis (Schwartz does not capitalize "Rabbis," but I learned to do so, so I'm going with what my teachers said) had different organizations; the former were a religious sect, the latter a professional class. 
  • The first post-destruction generation has some figures famous from rabbinic literature (e.g., Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, Rabbi Tarfon) that are unknown outside of that literature (except in some late patristic works). In other words, Josephus doesn't mention them. So who are they? Since Josephus does mention political leaders and rebel leaders: "We can infer that the earliest rabbis, with one or two exceptions, were neither. It stands to reason that they were the remnant of the Judaean clerisy; about half of the first generation of rabbis were identifiably priests, but with one exception not members of the high priestly families (the one exception is someone called Hanina, Captain of the Priests, apparently formerly a high-ranking temple administrator, but peripheral in rabbinic tradition). [Schwartz cites m. Pesahim 1.6 and several other mishnayot.] Presumably the future rabbis had been mostly the sort of people Josephus did not mention: not political leaders, great landowners or leading high priests, but administrators, judges, scribes. The lower priesthood, the main sectarian groups, and the religious and civil administration of pre-66 Jewish Palestine probably heavily overlapped, and the rabbis were their remnant. That so few names of the first generation were remembered reminds of of how thoroughly the Jews' institutional centre had been crushed in 70" (loc. 2688). 
  • Schwartz then goes on to talk about the family of Gamaliel, Simon, and Rabban Gamaliel II. The first Gamaliel is mentioned in the NT (Acts 5:34-40; 22:3), his son Simon is mentioned by Josephus (B.J. 4.159). Both Gamaliels are mentioned in rabbinic literature. 
  • "There is thus no prosopographical justification for positing a special relationship between Pharisees and rabbis, but the idea may have some basis nonetheless. Some of the views Josephus and the New Testament attribute to the Pharisees strongly resonate with views expressed in rabbinic texts. These range from lofty theological notions to odd details of religious law. Pharisees and rabbis (but also Christians!) believed in bodily resurrection of the dead at some future point (M. Sanhedrin 10.1); both believed that the law of the written Torah was supplemented by a body of legal traditions transmitted orally, though the Pharisees called this 'the tradition of the fathers', and the rabbis, 'the oral Torah', or simply, 'the Torah' (M. Avot 1.1); both required Jews to tithe even herbs--the most negligible agricultural product--and offer them as gifts to priests and Levites (Matt. 23:23; Luke 11:42; M. Demai 2.1; M. Ma'aserot 4.5)." (loc. 2706-12). 
  • "Nevertheless, there is no justification for supposing that even the earliest rabbinic text, the Mishnah (c. 200 CE), can be used to reconstruct Pharisaic law. It certainly contains a few such laws, and may even contain many, but our ignorance of Pharisaic law is nearly complete, so we simply have no way of knowing" (loc. 2717). 
  • "The Mishnah's single report of Pharisaic law (Yadayim 4.6-7), which the text seems to identify as 'ours', is vestigial, and the much more common rabbinic self-identification with the Pharisees found in the Talmuds, and a similar identification scattered about in patristic literature, are due in one case to rabbinic antiquarianism, and in the other, to Christian anti-Jewish polemic" (loc. 2734). 
The conclusion to a section titled "New Values" (beginning loc. 2745) starts in this way: 
Given what we know from archaeology, epigraphy and papyrology, we can say with certainty that Judaism ceased to function not only as an authorized set of religious and legal norms, but also as an informal component of public life even in the most heavily Jewish areas of High Imperial Palestine. Without any known shift in demography, the formerly Jewish cities of Palestine were now standard Greco-Roman cities in every way, including in their religious life, and larger villages in their territories emulated them. (loc. 2883)
This is after discussing the Babatha archive and the archaeology of some Palestinian cities, especially Sepphoris and Tiberias, chosen because they had the highest Jewish population in the second century CE.

On Schwartz' reckoning, the Rabbis started to take off near the turn of the third century, and the Patriarchate around the same time, though the latter institution had already lost its authority near the beginning of the fifth century.