Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
October 22nd, 2014

Review, @degruyter_TRS “The Rewritten Scrolls from Qumran: Texts, Translation, and Commentary”

 The Dead Sea Scrolls, as a mystical object the majority of Jewish and Christian believers still ignore, is relatively new. As an object of study, newer still. Yet, in recent years scholars have paid more attention to the content of the scrolls more than the scrolls themselves. We have come to understand a lot about these lost desert communities, isolationists who had retreated to wait for the end of their world. While many scholars focus on the more well-known works, there is still room yet to explore the richness of works largely ignored. Such is case with Ariel Feldman (Ph.D, University of Haifa) who has turned his attention the rewritten Joshua Scrolls (4Q378, 4Q379, 4Q522, 4Q123, 5Q9, Mas 1039-211).

There is not merely a propositional monograph supported with eruditic footnotes. Rather, Feldman presents us a unique type of scholarship, so that while he examines the scrolls for their connectivity, he likewise gives us a solid commentary on the fragments therein. This book of 9 chapters is divided into several parts. First, Feldman gives us an introduction to the history of these particular scrolls. In the first chapter, Feldman makes the argument (as he reminds us in the final chapter) that Joshua is the most rewritten book among the Minor Prophets. He then gives details about the scrolls themselves. Following this are several chapters dedicated to succinct literary and contextual commentary on the various scrolls and fragments. Following this are two concluding chapters arguing for various positions on composition and vorlage. His conclusions, because he has invested such a great amount of work in the preceding chapters, are almost unquestionable at this stage of scholarship.

I will briefly focus on the commentary section. For this, I will use his chapter on 4Q378 (the second chapter of the book), for no other reason than the material provides for an allusion in my New Testament studies. We are introduced to the manuscript itself, giving us the sequence of fragments. Following this is the author’s summary of the contents. For this scroll, we are introduced to one relatively free of narrative but filled with discourses. The author gives us an approximate span of the canon where the fragment would appear. The central portion of each chapter is the text and commentary. The text, of course, is given in the original language. The commentary covers the text, different readings, and includes the author’s comments. I am reminded most of the Hermeneia series. After this, there is a detailed discussion of the contents of the fragment, calling attention to (in this case) Joshua and Moses and Joshua’s succession. Finally, Feldman gives us a list of biblical allusions and discusses provenance.

In total, this is a highly detailed and much needed contribution to these scrolls. If all such Dead Sea Scroll fragments were treated in such a manner, scholarship in this area would find itself near completion. I am most impressed with the attention to detail of the text and the sharp focus of the commentary. Feldman does not get bogged down into outlying issues but remains focused on the fragments and their suspected place as rewritten Scripture. Anyone studying this area, as well as the New Testament or Second Temple Judaism must find this book a necessity.

April 7th, 2014

In the Mail: @DeGruyter_TRS “The Rewritten Scrolls from Qumran: Texts, Translation, and Commentary (Beihefte Zur Zeitschrift Fur Die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft) “

Among the unknown Jewish writings that emerged from the caves of Qumran are five scrolls rewriting the Book of Joshua. The present volume offers a detailed analysis of these texts and explores their relationship with each other and other Second Temple Jewish writings concerned with the figure of Joshua. The first full-blown study of this group of scrolls, this book is of interest to students and scholars working in the fields of the Dead Sea scrolls and ancient Jewish biblical interpretation.

Part of my dissertation is looking at rewriting… so this will come in handy, I believe.

April 7th, 2014

In the Mail: @DeGruyter_TRS “A Textual Study of Family 1 in the Gospel of John (Arbeiten Zur Neutestamentlichen)”

This textual study of the Gospel of John in seventeen Greek manuscripts offers a fresh investigation into the important textual group known as Family 1. The study, based on a full collation of the seventeen manuscripts, has re-defined the textual contours of Family 1, by establishing the existence of new core family manuscripts and subgroups. The study includes a reconstructed Family 1 text with critical apparatus for the Gospel of John.

And from here:

This is a textual study of seventeen Family 1 manuscripts in the Gospel of John: Gregory-Aland 1, 22, 118, 131, 205abs, 205, 209, 565, 872, 884, 1192, 1210, 1278, 1582, 2193, 2372, and 2713. Part 1 contains an analysis of a full collation of these manuscripts in John and concludes with a family stemma that expresses the relationships between the manuscripts and how they connect to the non-extant Family 1 archetype. Part 2 contains a reconstructed Family 1 text with critical apparatus for John. The results of this thesis confirm that 1 and 1582 are leading Family 1 manuscripts in John, but demonstrate that a new subgroup exists, represented by 565, 884 and 2193, that rivals the textual witness of 1 and 1582. This subgroup descends from the Family 1 archetype through a different intermediate ancestor to that shared by 1 and 1582. The discovery of this subgroup has broadened the textual contours of Family 1, leading to many new readings, both text and marginal, that should be considered Family 1 readings. The reconstructed text is based on the witness of this wider textual group and is offered as a replacement to Kirsopp Lake’s 1902 text of John.

Can’t wait to dig into this one.

September 16th, 2013

in the (e-)mail: @degruyter_TRS’s Miracles Revisited New Testament Miracle Stories and their Concepts of Reality

So I won it via their twitter giveaways, but nevertheless, I wanted to give it a shout out

Since David Hume, the interpretation of miracle stories has been dominated in the West by the binary distinction of fact vs. fiction. The form-critical method added another restriction to the interpretation of miracles by neglecting the context of its macrotexts. Last but not least the hermeneutics of demythologizing was interested in the self-understanding of individuals and not in political perspectives. The book revisits miracle stories with regard to these dimensions: 1. It demands to connect the interpretation of Miracle Stories to concepts of reality. 2. It criticizes the restrictions of the form critical method. 3. It emphasizes the political implications of Miracle Stories and their interpretations.

Even the latest research accepts this modern opposition of fact and fiction  as self-evident. This book will examine critically these concepts of reality with interpretations of miracles. The book will address how concepts of reality, always complex, came to expression in stories of miraculous healings and their reception in medicine, art, literature, theology and philosophy, from classic antiquity to the Middle Ages. Only through such bygone concepts, contemporary interpretations of ancient healings can gain plausibility.

Check out their website for some other info.

May 14th, 2013

Review of @degruyter_TRS Lucan’s “Bellum Civile” – Between Epic Tradition and Aesthetic Innovation

The current trend in Lucanian scholarship began with Frederick Ahl’s aptly named Lucan: An Introduction. Other names are now added to the list of Lucanian scholars — and now, Nicola Hömke and Christiane Reitz, the editors of this volume are included, along with those in the volume, as a must read for any Lucanian student. Hömke and Reitz have assembled a collection of essays based on papers given at a 2007 conference. Each author presents a specific topic, without rejoinder, nor a central point of the volume. Simply, the essays are all regarding Lucan, but without a focus unifying the whole. And this is acceptable, as there are other books focused on one aspect of Lucan. Here, we are invited to attend the conference even today, where we may hear different angles on our favorite Latin epicist.

The first essay, by Frederick Ahl, examines Lucan’s reception by the first imperial chair of rhetoric in Rome, Quintilian. Lucan is mentioned by name once in the educator’s handbook, but given a prominent place — a rather puzzling incident given Quintilian’s purposed style. Ahl attempts dig deep into Quintilian’s reasoning, suggesting a rather unique goal, although some may see this as more Ahl than Lucan. I would agree with Ahl, myself, but given the length of the essay, it is not difficult to see why Ahl might face criticism for his suggestion. As always, having Ahl in the book raises the merit of such volumes. Ahl’s essay alone examines Lucan’s reception.

I have feebly attempted to divide the rest of the essays into three rough categories, with such division accompanied by a recognizable violence. Ambühl, Fantham, De Moura and Hömke respectively examine Lucan’s rhetorical aesthetics. While Ambühl explores the use of Greek tragedy (via Iliupersis) in Lucan, a form of imtatio, Fantham explores the rhetoric of Caesar’s engagement via speeches throughout the poem. Hömke focuses on Scaeva’s aristeia. Death, speech, and preserved texts figure heavily in Lucan, as exemplified by scholars and scholarship not mentioned in these articles (such as Shadi Bartsch who is mentioned once — p122). This is not to say the essays are too lacking in engagement to find worth, indeed, the opposite, but an engagement with other scholars would have helped, especially in Hömke’s case.

Lowe and Wiener fit forcefully into a category of outside impulses. Lowe has Lucan replace Caesar with Libya via personification of the Caesarian attributes. The role Africa plays in Lucan is a wonderful discussion taking place among Lucanian scholars, but Lowe condenses it rather succinctly to suggest various different Libyas and what they might mean for the Poet. Here, we see the separation between the poem and history and given the essayists hypothesis of the “why.” Wiener, instead of Africa or other geographical oddities, examines Stoicism in Bellum Civili. She sees more stoicism in Lucan than most — than I — and attempts to defend her position. Here again, engagement with other viewpoints may have helped the essay along. Wiener does not engage with Behr who I feel offers more of a realistic viewpoint on Lucan’s Stoicism. This is not to say Wiener is amiss, but I feel her emphasis is misplaced and thus does not allow the full rhetorical flair Lucan flexes to shine forth.

Finally, Sannicandro, Bexley and Dinter leave us with the essays under the nearly impossible category of image. Sannicandro explores the role Caesar’s daughter plays in the poem. Like Ambühl, Sannicandro utilizes Euripides’ tragedy as a comparison, focusing on Jocasta. After Ahl, this essay is perhaps the most rewarding of the volume. Bexley compares Medusa and Cato, following Narducci. The final essay recounts in graphic detail the role the unlimbered body parts play in the poem and the powerful image these represent.

This volume represents a well-done collection of scholars and their work on the present study of Lucan, the classicist’s most underrated epicist. Each essay contains valuable insight and research into the reception of the poem that is not be missed.


For a review by Paul Roche, see here.

%d bloggers like this: