Sunday, August 16, 2009

My Blog is Moving

My blog is moving to I like the layout and the features more at wordpress, and it's time to class things up a bit. I hope you don't mind the inconvenience.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Composition of the Pentateuch

I just ran across a very interesting post by John Anderson at Hesed we'emet on the composition of the Pentateuch. In preparing for comps, John put together a lengthy outline for an essay on the driving theories of the development of the Pentateuch. This is a very helpful outline of the scholarship, and it evidently helped him pass. Thanks John.

Cook and Holmstedt's Hebrew Grammar

The University of Toronto's R.D. Holmstedt teamed up with Asbury Theological Seminary's John Cook a while ago to produce an introduction to Biblical Hebrew that would be freely available online. They've had a draft edition up for some time, but they've just completed an update. Check it out here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Exams for MSt Students at Oxford

I received an email this morning from the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies letting me know they would really appreciate it if I remained at Yarnton Manor an extra week (until 2 July, 2010) as they will now be giving oral exams to some of the Oriental Institute's MSt students. They want me around in case I'm chosen. Sounds like fun.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Don't Make Fun of Grad Students!

I had to throw in this little extra, from Dave Beldman. Only one of the countless brilliant moments from the Simpsons.

Death will come out of it! No one will escape!

Via Alan Lenzi at Bible and Ancient Near East. A tablet was recently unearthed in Turkey (dating to around 630 BCE) in which an Assyrian official named Mannu-ki-Libbali begs for reinforcements against approaching Babylonian troops. The requested troops arrived too late, and the town, Tushan, was ultimately destroyed.

Lenzi points to the tablet as evidence of literacy in the seventh century even among low-level bureaucrats, which is a conclusion with which I am in agreement. It's an exciting find, and a dramatic glimpse into the life of a first millennium BCE individual. This is one of the reasons I enjoy studying the ancient world.

Duane Smith also comments here and points to the original article here.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Psalm 29:1 and the Sons of the Gods

The construct בְּנֵ֣י אֵלִ֑ים in Ps 29:1 is generally translated "Sons of the Gods," or simply, "The Gods." I tend to view אֵלִ֑ים, rather, as a singular with an enclitic mem, just as bn 'ilm is generally interpreted in the Ugaritic literature. Since Psalm 29 is an almost direct borrowing from Syro-Palestinian storm god imagery (and may allude to Baal's seven thunders and lightnings), it seems likely to me this very rare form (cf. Ps 89:7; Dan 11:36) is simply a borrowing of the form as it appears in other Northwest Semitic literature. Thoughts?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Jim Davila's More Pseudepigrapha Project

I recently came across a fascinating project undertaken by the University of St. Andrews. They hope to provide a follow-up volume to Charlesworth's Old Testament Pseudepigrapha that will include the lesser known and more fragmentary pseudepigraphic and apocryphal texts from early Judaism and Christianity. The cutoff will be 600 CE, or the rise of Islam, which extends well beyond the scope Charlesworth's volumes. The project is called More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha.

One of the more interesting aspects of the project will be the inclusion of quotations of lost books of the Bible, such the Books of the Acts of Solomon, and the book of the Chronicles of King David. Jim discusses his "wish list" of lost books here. From the above University of St. Andrews link, following is a list of the complete or substantially complete books to be included in the volume:

Adam, Creation of (Slavonic)
Adam, Horarium of
Adam, Octipartite (Slavonic, etc.)
Balaam Text from Deir Alla
Cave of Treasures
Daniel, Armenian Seventh Vision of
Daniel, Syriac Apocalypse of
Daniel, Two Byzantine Greek Apocalypses of
Danielis, Somniale
Danielis, Lunationes
David and Goliath (Aramaic 'Song of the Lamb')
David and Solomon, Selendromion of
Elijah, Hebrew Apocalypse of
Sheva Eliyyahu (Sheva Zutarti) (The Adjuration of Elijah)
Enoch, Ethiopic Vision of
Ezekiel, Visions of
4 Ezra, Armenian version of
5 Ezra
6 Ezra
Ezra, Vision of (longer version)
Gad the Seer, Words of
Geniza Wisdom text
Jeremiah, Coptic Apocryphon of (History of the Captivity in Babylon)
Jeremiah's Prophecy to Passhur
Joseph, History of (Syriac)
Joseph, Narrative of (Coptic)
Levi, Aramaic
6-7 Maccabees
Massekhet Kelim (Treatise of the Holy Vessels)
Melchizedek legend in Chronicon Paschale
Melchizedek, Story of (Greek)
Midrash Vayissa'u (Book of the Wars of the Sons of Jacob)
Moses, Eighth Book of
Moses, Sword of (Harba di-Moshe)
Naphtali, Hebrew
Palaea Historica
Pseudo-Philo, Sermons on Jonah, Sermons on Samson
Satanael Text (Slavonic)
Sefer ha-Razim (Book of the Mysteries)
Seven Heavens, Apocalypse of the
Shem, Treatise of (Aramaic and Judeo-Arabic versions)
Signs of the Judgment
Sibyl, Latin Prophecy of the
Sibyl, Tiburtine
Solomon, Hygromanteia of (Epistle of Rehoboam)
Solomon, Testament of (Vienna manuscript)
Ten Tribes, Apocryphon of the
Visions of Heaven and Hell
Sefer Zerubbabel (Book of Zerubbabel)

This looks to be a very exciting publication. Any thoughts?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Metheg Use in Aleppo and Leningrad

I've been working for almost a year now on the critical apparatus for BHQ Isaiah, and I've noticed an interesting phenomenon. We're using Goshen-Gottstein's HUB version of Isaiah, which is based on Aleppo, as a sort of jumping off point for the critical apparatus. As part of my work I'm in charge of cataloging errors and harmonizing the text with Leningrad, which is the base text for BHQ. The differences (at least in Isaiah) between Aleppo and Leningrad are relatively insignificant, but the vast, vast majority of the variants arise with the use of the metheg. Leningrad seems to use it far more often than Aleppo, although there are also a number of places where Aleppo includes it against Leningrad. Could there be anything significant at the root of this, or is it just the preference of the scribe?