Currents in Biblical Research

Published by SAGE Publications
Print ISSN: 1476-993X
The parallel Sennacherib narratives in Isaiah 36–39 and 2 Kings 18–20 have long intrigued scholars. Although for the better part of the past two hundred years the diachronic methods of historical criticism have defined the exegetical landscape, the recent rise of narrative criticism and its emphasis on the synchronic reading of the text have called many of the previously held views into question. This article will provide a brief overview and critique of both the exegetical issues stemming from the traditional historical-critical methods and of the more recent proposals put forth by scholars like Smelik and Seitz, who argue for a more synchronic understanding of these two texts. This overview reveals a gradual evolution in biblical scholarship, in which the recent synchronic narrative methods are being recognized as aids and correctives to, and not opponents of, the traditional diachronic methods of historical criticism.
This article, the second of a two-part series, examines scholarly research on the Gospel of Thomas between 1989 and 2011. The previous article (CBR 5.2 [2007]: 183-206) reviewed research on Thomas’s place in discussions of the historical Jesus and the Synoptic Gospels between 1991 and 2006. The current study focuses on three concerns: (1) scholarly opinions of Thomas’s genre, (2) the notoriously difficult problem of identifying Thomas’s theological outlook, and (3) the relationship between the Gospel of Thomas and the Fourth Gospel.
In this article, a summary will be offered of tools published in the field of Septuagint studies, such as editions, concordances, lexica, bibliographies, and translations. Then we will cover the origins of the Old Greek translations, as well as the forms of Greek used in the Septuagint. This article will also treat the debate about whether variants go back to a different Hebrew Vorlage, or to the interpretation of a translator. Contributions to the field of the early Jewish Greek revisions will also be summarized. Finally, in this survey of Septuagint studies, special attention will be given to the contents of Introductions to the Septuagint, and scholarly Proceedings and Festschriften on the Septuagint.
This English translation of a lecture delivered in November 2011 on the occasion of the author’s installation as Professor of New Testament at Uppsala University (Kelhoffer 2012) addresses several conceptual and methodological questions about New Testament Exegesis, including: ‘What is New Testament Exegesis?’, ‘What does it mean to call New Testament Exegesis an academic discipline?’ and ‘How can this discipline be relevant for other disciplines?’ A central argument is that the current balkanization of biblical studies is undesirable and that scholars who use more traditional or newer methods should engage, rather than talk past, each other. It could help to foster that process if we attend to a misconception of the ‘historical-critical method’ as a single method. Additionally, ‘the linguistic turn’ holds promise for future discussions.
The study of Peter and Paul in the Acts of the Apostles has gone through primarily two methodological phases, a search for the historical Peter and Paul and a search for the literary Peter and Paul. In recent decades, the literary approaches to the Bible have begun to raise questions about the role of the reader in understanding texts and their characters, resulting in a few studies that raise the question of the interaction between the reader and the characters of Peter and Paul. This latter development constitutes an emerging third methodological phase, the search for the identity-forming Peter and Paul. At issue in this search is how those who interact with the Acts narrative, both ancient and modern readers, are affected by the presentation of characters of Peter and Paul.
Given the overwhelming scholarly attention directed towards the Old and New Perspectives within the Pauline Studies guild, much worthwhile Pauline scholarship continues to float beneath or beyond our interpretive radar. Recent post-colonial, ecotheological and philosophical reappraisals of Paul are changing the way we do business—with some interesting alternative conclusions. As a ‘state of play’ synopsis, this article seeks to summarize ways in which alternative discourses like (1) continental philosophy, (2) ecological hermeneutics, (3) post-colonial/gender reconstructions, and (4) social-scientific theory can shed a necessary, nuanced light on Paul and his continued relevance beyond the duelling perspectives. However, I conclude by suggesting that most alternative ‘reconstructions’ significantly rely on the notion of early Christian egalitarian purity, and thus only confirm a modern liberal inclination to establish original, untainted, pure, Christian origins.
Interpretive impasses are part and parcel of Pauline studies. This essay examines scholarly stalemates resulting from learned readings of Paul’s instructions to the Thessalonians regarding sexual purity, work and grief in 1 Thess. 4.4, 11 and 13 respectively. Furthermore, this article observes the exegetical moves that interpreters make in treating these texts. The fact that specialists of 1 Thessalonians draw decidedly different conclusions as to the meaning of Paul’s instructions to his converts regarding marrying, laboring and mourning highlights the importance of the following issues in Pauline interpretation: (1) authorial intent; (2) cultural and contextual influences upon both the author and the audience; and (3) textual parallels. I conclude this paper by playing my own interpretive hand on the verses under discussion.
This article presents a survey of recent research in pre-coinage currency of Judaea, coins of the Persian period (Philistia, Edom, Samaria, and Judaea), the Hasmonean dynasty, the Herodian dynasty, the Jewish War against Rome and the Bar Kokhba revolt. Books, articles, presentations and dissertations have added significantly to the literature; it is the author’s goal to assist the non-specialist in keeping up with the latest information and opinions.
This article is the third and final essay in a three-part series concerned with an analysis of current scholarship and anti-imperial rhetoric in the writings of the New Testament. The focus of this article is on the challenges and the inspiration of the book of Revelation. While Revelation may be considered to be the most unambiguous and blatant example of confrontation between the early Christians and the Roman Empire in the New Testament, a diversity of opinions survives as to how modern readers should understand and apply John’s apocalyptic literature. Does this book have something to say to readers today about the concepts of ‘empire’, colonialism and imperialism? We begin with a reflection on ancient interpretations of the text of Revelation, which are foundational to today’s interpretations, and lend support to the existence of anti-imperial rhetoric found in this cryptic document. Consideration is given to numerous current scholarly approaches, historical, theoretical and literary, with select examples from the book of Revelation for a greater understanding of the text.
This article focuses on the specific matter of the literary structure and outline of Hebrews and focuses on the advances of the past one hundred years, with special attention to the last few decades. Numerous proposals for its structure and various divisions of Hebrews have been suggested, and the present task is to survey and summarize those proposals that have had the most significant influence in this area of Hebrews study. Those discussed in these pages are Donald Guthrie, Leon Vaganay, Ceslas Spicq, Wolfgang Nauck, Albert Vanhoye, F.F. Bruce, Harold Attridge, and George Guthrie.
This article reviews recent literature in the field of Greek religion from approximately 800 to 150 bce. It notes the long-standing connections between the study of Greek religion and the religions of the Near East, sets forth several common features of these religions, and tells how the study of Greek religion came to embody the ideas of Robertson Smith, among others, and how three themes, the centrality of ritual, of animal sacrifice, and of the religion of the polis came to dominate the field in the last half-century. In the last twenty years, some scholars have questioned these dominant themes. This article concludes by describing the relation between Greek and Near Eastern religion today, and by offering two examples of unstudied parallels between the two fields.
Pauline scholars, especially in the last century, have been almost evenly divided on whether they consider Colossians to be genuinely written by Paul or by someone else in his name. Through an exploration of the commentaries of eight key scholars on Colossians, this study examines the hermeneutics of authorship analysis in order to determine the key factors involved and how they are weighed. For the study of the authorship of Colossians to move forward in a productive way, a number of yet-understudied issues must be addressed and closely researched. In the meantime, tentativeness in conclusions is the most reliable stance.
Reviewing the publications of the last three decades, this article demonstrates that the period in question has been predictably marked by sharply increased attention to the sexual aspects of the book of Judges, and especially by sustained attempts to discover sexuality in the texts that had been commonly read with little to no reference to it. Refreshing as it is in many respects, this trend suffers from multiple vulnerabilities, including the exegetes’ tendency to stretch semantics of the biblical lexemes, ignore the syntactic layout and context of the discussed fragments, rely on problematic sexual symbolism, and produce interpretations that are less than edifying for contemporary Western audiences. As a result, much, although by no means all, of the recent quest for sexuality in Judges is unsustainable, as far as both the text and the reader are concerned.
This article reviews and synthesizes the history of, and current research into, ‘summaries of Israel’s story’ (SIS). Particular attention is paid to work done by E. Stauffer, N.T. Wright, H.C. Kee, M.A. Elliot, and Joachim Jeska. This research, as well as investigations into rewritten Bible and other summaries, clarifies the nature of such summaries as a discrete compositional category. Following the review a synthesis of this scholarship will yield a compilation of canonical and extra-canonical SIS.
This article reviews the literature pertaining to the recent debate over the question of authenticity of Clement’s Letter to Theodore (including the so-called Secret Gospel of Mark) and argues that the academy has tied itself into a secure deadlock. The current ‘trench warfare’ situation is due to various scholarly malpractices, which include the practice of non-engagement with other scholars, abusive language towards them and mischaracterization of their position. In order to remedy the situation and move the discussion forwards a number of correcting acts are suggested.
Through the lens of the contributions to the first and second editions of Encyclopaedia Judaica, this article summarizes the major developments in the field of talmudic literature which took place between the two publications. As the encyclopedia entries in both editions deal almost exclusively with matters pertaining to text, source and redaction criticism, this article, too, primarily discusses developments in these areas.
Richard Hays’s 1989 work Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul defined the terms and established a method for the study of Pauline intertextuality. Neither the method (Hays’s well-known sevenfold criteria for identifying intertextual allusions) nor the terms (‘echo’ and ‘allusion’) have proved uncontroversial, however, and so this article surveys their reception, outlining and critiquing the major attempts to amend, replace or overthrow them. Concerns relating to the stability of the criteria themselves or to the theoretical framework in which they operate do not nullify their usefulness. Criticisms of Hays’s terms, and the inconsistency with which they are deployed, are, on the other hand, more easily sustained, and so rival taxonomies are reviewed and recommended.
The study of the military in the Roman provinces of Judaea is not the most accessible topic. Though the data upon which scholars rely is familiar (e.g., epigraphs, papyri, ancient historians), its study requires significant methodological deviations from biblical studies. This article summarizes key points relevant for scholars of both Jewish antiquity and early Christianity. First, it provides a summary of recent developments in the social history of the Roman army in the Near East, attending especially to the question of the role and function of soldiers in that region. Second, this article provides a brief social history for all military units in Judaea before it was renamed Syria Palaestina in 130 ce (four legions, 14 infantry cohortes, and five cavalry alae), based on the latest discoveries. Finally, the article concludes with a section discussing two issues specific to New Testament studies: the presence of an Italian cohort in Judaea (Acts 10) and the issue of the Augustan cohort in Judaea and Batanaea (Acts 27).
This article critically reviews the arguments for and against the view that 1 Thess. 2.13-16 is a post-Pauline interpolation. It starts with the four arguments that are forwarded to promote the view that it is an interpolation: form-critical/literary, grammatical/syntactical, historical, and theological. After this, a briefer second section outlines the four arguments defending the authenticity of the verses: textual, contextual, traditional, and rhetorical.
James 5.13-18 is a notoriously difficult passage, evidenced by the wide ranging viewpoints and interpretations related to the nature of the sickness and healing in the paragraph. In this article an attempt is made to summarize these various interpretations and to cite the major scholars who hold to these views. A clear, thorough overview of these positions will greatly facilitate discussions on this topic in future investigations.
Leviticus 18.22 and 20.13 continue to play a decisive role in the debate over sexuality and the Bible. A bit surprisingly, it was not until the mid-1990s that these texts began to be subjected to thorough historical-critical analyses. Since that time, interest has steadily increased along with the number of hypotheses. Many have assumed that these laws unambiguously condemn ‘homosexuality’. Among specialists, however, there continues to be much disagreement with at least twenty-one unique proposals. This article will survey the various historical-critical offerings, put them into conversation with one another, and describe current trends.
Because Eph. 4.8 has an altered citation of Ps. 68(67).19, interpreters have developed polarizing opinions about the author’s sources and his citation techniques, ranging from the claim that the citation is aberrant or that it summarizes the whole psalm. In this study, it is suggested that such diverse opinions do not take account of ancient citation practices or Jewish exegetical procedures. The survey examines key interpreters and treatments in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, focusing on the question of the author’s Vorlage and the interpretive use of the psalm in Eph. 4.8. The survey shows that the prevalent view that Ephesians appropriates a (pre-)targumic or early Christian tradition has led to an under-appreciation of the christological significance of Eph. 4.8.
This article traces the contours of the past century of discourse surrounding the underlying textual form of allusions embedded in the book of Revelation. Special attention is paid to the rapid developments on this issue in the past thirty years, a period in which New Testament scholarship has grappled with the textual complexity of the Hebrew Bible presented by the scrolls from the Judaean Desert. The question of textual form is of foundational importance for analysing the reuse or interpretation of Scripture in the book of Revelation. Despite this reality, it is common to find assumptions or misconceptions in recent studies that obfuscate the textual reality of the Hebrew Bible and its early Greek versions the first century ce. The appraisal of scholarship on this issue allows scholars to better contextualize their own approaches to the text of allusions in the light of previous research. This analysis also highlights the changing methods and approaches by which scholars analyse the text of allusions and suggests some avenues for future research on the allusions embedded in the Apocalypse.
This article surveys post-1945 scholarly attempts to interpret Jesus’ command to ‘render to Caesar the things of Caesar and to God the things of God’ (Mk 12.17; Mt. 22.21; Lk. 20.25). It suggests that part of the confusion surrounding the interpretation of this phrase lies not only in the disputed nature of the data, but also in the failure to clearly define the interpretive categories. This has resulted in contradictory interpretations being described with the same label, as well as scholars failing to notice similarities between the different readings. To this end, the following article attempts to more precisely outline the four major approaches to the command which have emerged since the Second World War (while also noting the various connections between some of these views): (1) exclusivist interpretations in which ‘the things of God’ nullify the ‘the things of Caesar’; (2) complementarian readings in which the two elements are held to be parallel; (3) ambivalent readings that stress the ambiguity and open-ended nature of the utterance; and (4) subordinationist readings that seek to uphold both elements of the command while prioritizing the second element (‘the things of God’) over the first (‘the things of Caesar’). The discussion then turns to considering four areas that might prove fruitful in future analysis of this command.
This article surveys and evaluates the most influential approaches to the Johannine community debate, beginning with Martyn?s 1968 study to the more recent work of Bauckham and Klink. The survey divides these approaches into three main categories: (1) studies in the historical-critical stream (mostly from the late 1960s?1970s), (2) sociological studies and (3) studies that have departed from the community hypothesis altogether. The observation is made that, to date, the majority of approaches have been more prescriptive and model-driven rather than descriptive and data-driven. In light of this overarching trend, this article suggests that a potential direction of exploration within the debate could be the development of methods that place primary emphasis on textual data and, at the same time, have a deep concern for a text?s social setting.
This article provides a summary of Didache scholarship over the past 35 years (1983–present). The review of literature focuses on the individual participants, including notable Didache scholars such as Jonathan Draper and Clayton Jefford, and the field’s respective contributions to Didache research. This article directly considers the vision of the Didache and its role in early Christianity via the literature of participants in Didache research. I consider the individual treatments of numerous Didache scholars and a list of their publications. In the conclusion, I highlight some points of agreement and disagreement to prompt further areas of specific research. I offer four suggestions to continue the work in Didache studies: (1) Wirkungsgeschichte and reception theory; (2) social-scientific methodologies (social identity theory; self-categorization theory); (3) exclusive attention given to H54; and (4) intertextual concerns beyond the Gospel of Matthew and Epistle of James.
This article provides a survey of the last 25 years of research on Joseph and Aseneth, a Jewish Greek novel probably written between the first century bce and the second century ce. This romance expands on Gen. 41.45 to narrate how Joseph and Aseneth met and later married under the auspices of Pharaoh, after Aseneth had turned away from her Egyptian gods to the God of Israel and was visited by an angel with whom she shares a honeycomb. Later in the story she is introduced to Jacob and Levi, repels the attack of a rival lover, the son of Pharaoh, who then dies, so that Joseph inherits his throne and rules in Egypt for 48 years. The principle topics covered in this review are recent textual editions of this writing preserved in 91 manuscripts in seven languages, the no-less disputed purpose and provenance of the romance, its date and place of origin, and its genre. Gender issues and other major themes of research and an extended pre-modern history of interpretation will also be discussed.
Arguably the most influential moments in the entire history of Tobit studies were the acquisition of the Qumran cave four Aramaic and Hebrew Tobit fragments in 1952 and their eventual publication in 1995. In light of these events, this article surveys the major advancements in resources and research on the book of Tobit since the turn of the millennium. The present survey establishes the status quaestionis on matters of Tobit’s compositional origins (i.e., language, date, and provenance) as it has emerged in several recent articles, monographs, and commentaries. Following the treatment of background issues, three thematic sections capture the major trends in recent Tobit studies. These include: (1) theories of Tobit’s scribal transmission and related text-critical issues, (2) questions of source material and intertextuality in Tobit’s composition and reception, and (3) a reappraisal of central narrative-theological features in Tobit (i.e., marriage and family, perspectives on burial, and the functions of food) and their potential insight into the book’s socio-historical contexts in ancient Judaism. The study concludes with some brief recommendations and open-ended questions for future research on the book of Tobit.
The biblical book of Lamentations has received extensive scholarly attention in the past decade, research that moves beyond traditional historical-critical approaches. Although these traditional approaches have by no means been abandoned, new trends are nevertheless emerging. This article will survey the diverse field of research on Lamentations with particular focus given to feminist, psychological, theological, ecological, post-colonial and reception-historical approaches to Lamentations. The essay will, however, begin by presenting the rich work done on historical treatments of the book, as well as discussing the text and versions of Lamentations.
This article overviews the very active past decade in the discipline of Septuagint scholarship, including publications dating from the beginning of 2012 through the end of 2021. It organizes and discusses this activity within numerous categories, beginning with a brief overview of previous disciplinary surveys before moving on to the many new publications that have appeared, including primary texts, commentaries, general introductions, handbooks and companions, and reference works. Further sections give attention to important trends and publications in the main disciplinary journal, as well as in the major conference volumes and series. The second half of the article gives attention to several important areas of development and debate in the discipline, with attention to how it has developed globally over the last ten years. In the course of this discussion, this article, while not exhaustive in scope or coverage, also contributes to the tradition within modern Septuagint scholarship of compiling a bibliography of scholarly publications in the discipline.
This article examines the history of interpretation of the pericope of the healing of the haemorrhaging woman and the raising of Jairus’ daughter (Mk 5.21-43; Mt. 9.18-26; Lk. 8.40-56). It starts with the earliest attempts to harmonize the synoptic accounts, and reviews medieval allegorical interpretations, historical-critical theories, including the apparent death (coma) theory, D.F. Strauss and mythical interpretation, form-criticism, the question of sources, literary and narrative approaches, socio-critical (feminist) interpretation, psychoanalytical criticism, and contextual (poststructural) readings.
A minority of witnesses to the text of Phil. 3.12 (e.g., P ⁴⁶ , GA 06, 010, 012, Irenaeus [Latin Translation], Ambrosiaster) attest to a reading in which Paul claims he has not yet been justified (or made/found righteous [δικαιόω]). Scholars have labeled the reading ‘intriguing’, ‘very interesting’, ‘striking’, and ‘astounding’. Yet, in spite of such lofty descriptors, little extensive attention has been devoted to this textual issue. All but a handful of scholars who have addressed the reading have denied it a place in the initial text. However, its attestation in P ⁴⁶ , the high potential for parablepsis, the difficulty of explaining the reading as a later insertion, and its coherence with Pauline references to final justification at the last judgment have resulted in reassessments of the issue in more recent scholarship. This article provides an overview of past and current scholarly appraisals of the reading and offers some suggestions for future research.
The article presents and discusses the main arguments that have been used to argue either that non-Jews are included or excluded from God’s Israel. The arguments in favour of the view that non-Jews are excluded focus on: (i) the syntax and translation; (ii) possible influence from a Jewish synagogue prayer; (iii) the combination of the terms ‘mercy’ and ‘Israel’; and (iv) Paul’s regular use of the term ‘Israel’. The arguments for the view that non-Jews are included in God’s Israel are: (i) that non-Jewish members of God’s Israel seem to be a possibility in Galatians; (ii) that an exclusively Jewish Israel is theologically impossible in Galatians; (iii) that an exclusively Jewish Israel in Galatians would have been confusing for the addressees; (iv) the fact that Galatians seems to provide insufficient material for deciding which Jews God’s Israel is supposed to denote.
This article attempts to trace the development of exegesis of Genesis 12–25 in scholarly works published since 2000. Five types of studies are introduced and briefly evaluated: (1) commentaries on the biblical pericopes in question; (2) works discussing the historical formation of the Abraham narratives; (3) synchronic and theological studies; (4) reception studies; and (5) other detailed studies of Genesis 12–25. The article presents a wide range of methodological approaches, and aims to delineate current trends in the study of Genesis 12–25.
This article examines the Merneptah Stele and its role in recent efforts to reconstruct Israelite history and identity. Though necessarily concerned with the issues of translation and location as they relate to the entity named in the stele, this review is dominated by an assessment of the various ways in which biblical scholarship has related to this singular reference. To that end, issues of theory and method, both archaeological and anthropological, are prioritized as the review appraises the various attempts to isolate this entity as the Archimedean point of Israelite historical and ethnic development. Though certainly critical of what it perceives as the sterile reproduction of long-held beliefs, it is a review that, in its appeal to the work of Pierre Bourdieu, looks to identify prospects for further study of the stele, rather than foreclose the very questions that it raises.
The study of dreams and their interpretation in the literary remains from antiquity have become increasingly popular access points to the phenomenological study of religious experience in the ancient world, as well as of the literary forms in which this experience was couched. This article considers the phenomenon of dreaming in the Hebrew Bible and ancient Jewish literature. I consider treatments of these dream accounts, noting the development in the methodological means by which this material has been approached, moving from source criticism, to tradition history, and finally to form-critical methods. Ultimately, I will argue that form criticism in particular enables scholars to discern shifts and developments across diachronic perspectives. Study of dream accounts is thus illuminating not only for the understanding of dream phenomena, but also for the development of apocalyptic and the method and means of early Jewish biblical interpretation.
This article examines recent and historic views relating to the interpretation of Acts 28.26-27 (=Isa. 6.9-10) and the response of the Jews at the end of Acts. Among the conflicting views, scholars (with some overlap) fall into one of three general categories that suggest some degree of Jewish condemnation, tragedy or hope. Recent trends demonstrate a more hopeful prognosis than prior assessments with regards to Luke’s attitude towards the Jews. This trend is supported by recent studies regarding the wisdom background for the text of Isa. 6.9-10 in light of the growing recognition of and appreciation for an increasingly Jewish portrait of Paul in Acts.
This article surveys and assesses recent developments in the study of the depiction of Jews and Judaism in Luke-Acts since 2010. Studies are grouped into three general, often overlapping approaches. First, identity construction proves to be a productive avenue of research for understanding Luke’s portrait of ‘the Jews’. Second, scholars have begun to investigate the place of Luke-Acts in the ‘parting(s) of the ways’. Third, others continue to evaluate the relationship between the Jewish people, the covenant, and Luke’s future hope for Israel. The final section outlines some common issues and potential areas for further study, highlighting how these studies have reinvigorated a stagnant debate.
African Biblical Studies (ABS) can be characterized both as innovative and reactionary: Innovative, because it refuses to be confined by the methodologies, ancient concerns, and principles that govern biblical studies in the ‘west’ (used throughout this article to refer to the majority Euro-American scholars while recognizing the presence of other groups), and instead charts a course that is more interested in making biblical interpretation relevant to present realities. Reactionary, because its driving force is partly a critique of the inadequacy of western biblical studies in providing meaningful responses to concerns that are pertinent to African communities. A genuine ABS is therefore an amalgamation of multiple interpretive methods, approaches and foci that reflect a creative engagement of the African cosmological reality and the Bible.
Evidence is marshalled for a recent ‘external-relational shift’ in scholarly understandings of pistis (traditionally translated ‘faith’) among New Testament scholars and historians of early Christianity and its social world. There is a movement away from predominantly personal existential accounts of pistis toward those that are relational and outwardly manifest. ‘Faith’ ( pistis) is predominantly a way of life characterized by fidelity or loyalty which is outwardly expressed in relationships. Beyond the New Perspective on Paul, which is an obvious factor, four streams are feeding this shift: (1) the pistis Christou debate, (2) increased appreciation of ancient social and cultural norms, (3) advances in linguistics, and (4) an emphasis on the gospel as a royal proclamation. To show why the external-relational shift matters theologically, Paul’s use of pistis in Romans 1 is explored along external-relational lines.
Compared to Eurocentric biblical interpretations, Asian and Asian American hermeneutics is a relatively late phenomenon. Yet in the past three decades it has gradually emerged as one of the critical interpretations in contemporary scholarship. The common themes shared among Asian and Asian American hermeneutics revolve around the issues and intersections of identity, race, gender, class, liberation, and how one’s social location shapes the ways in which one interprets scripture. As regards Asian and Asian American hermeneutics related to the Hebrew Bible, the book of Exodus has received particularly broad attention due to its migration and liberation motifs. In addition, border-crossing characters and characters with hybrid identities, such as Moses, Ruth, Hagar, Daniel, and Esther, become key subjects for theological reflection. Methodologies are centered on ethnographical, feminist, postcolonial, intercontextual, and culturally specific perspectives such as Dalit and Minjung theologies, as well as LGBTQ readings. As Asian and Asian American hermeneutics related to the Hebrew Bible continues to flourish, the future of this particular way of reading scripture will likely include intersectional and integrational approaches and reception history, and will contribute to the broad interpretive spectrums of the twenty-first century.
This article is a selective survey of the last twenty years of Amos research, which has witnessed robust discussion in multiple directions. It groups these trends into five very broad areas: (1) the possibility of positing an eighth-century setting for the prophet and the historical reliability of the book, (2) work on the redaction of the book and potential connections to the history of the composition of the Book of the Twelve, (3) theological themes of particular contemporary interest, (4) recent insights into the translation techniques of LXX Amos, and (5) the reception of Amos across the centuries, with a special focus on the views of women and minority and global communities. There is a range of scholarly positions in several of these areas and new questions being asked, all of which portends continued vitality in Amos research in the foreseeable future.
In this article, I survey recent trends in Samaritan studies, with a particular focus on biblical studies and the interactions of Samaritan Israelites with other religious traditions. While remaining entrenched in discussion of the origins of Samaritans, scholars have firmly embraced the idea of processual Samaritan identity, emerging over time and in a non-genealogical sense alongside and interwoven with Judean/Jewish self-definition. Extensive work clusters, in particular, at three nodes: the study of Hebrew-language scriptures, archaeological excavations, and the remodelling of identity-production in a constructivist form. I also sketch out the directions in which the field is moving, with growing and productive emphasis on Aramaic, Arabic, and late antiquity. Finally, I identify some of the quirks of Samaritan studies as it might be encountered, in particular a continued effort to salvage Samaritans for biblical studies, somewhat intermittent interdisciplinarity, and practices of engagement with Samaritan Israelites themselves.
Postmodern theory, with its concerns about textual meaning, identity formation, and dynamics of power, has had an impact on the study of ancient Judaism in a variety of ways over the last several decades. Theories of reader-response and intertextuality have particularly shaped recent work in biblical studies, while these and other philosophical concerns have contributed to postmodern understandings of midrash. The impact of postmodern theory on the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls is more subtle but nonetheless provides an interesting model for the use of theory in the study of ancient Judaism. Attention to the work of a particular scholar (D. Boyarin) or the possibilities for a particular theoretical approach (postcolonial theory) provides further evidence for postmodern treatments of ancient Jewish texts and history. Although the heyday of critical theory is now long past, the field of ancient Jewish studies has been shaped by theory-driven concerns about discourse, power, and the world.
This article presents a survey of the recent research which has been making significant progress in examining scribal schools and education in ancient Israel. It specifically treats scholarly recourse to the extra-biblical data provided by epigraphic remains, and discusses the comparative potentials of the wider ancient world itself. Several monograph-length treatments have added substantially to the literature. A brief critical examination of all these works is provided, in order to facilitate the reader’s keeping up with the latest views and opinions concerning such studies. The literature will be treated chronologically, and the most substantial recent contribution by Carr (2011) will be subject to an extensive review, testing Carr’s conclusions against the cumulative weight of earlier findings. Finally, ways of moving forward in treating this subject will be suggested.
Animal studies has its origins in philosophy but extends to all fields of the humanities, especially literature, history, and anthropology. The central concern of animal studies is how human beings perceive other species and themselves as one among them. Animal studies in ancient Judaism has generally not been undertaken in a critical mode, with notable and increasing exceptions. This article covers work from the past decade (2009–2019) that deals centrally with animals, from ancient Israel to late antiquity, spanning the Hebrew Bible, apocrypha and pseudepigrapha, library of Qumran, rabbinic literature, and material culture. Topics addressed are animal sacrifice and consumption; literary depictions of animals; studies of individual animal species; archaeology and art featuring animals; animal ethics, theology, and law; and critical theoretical approaches to species difference. The conclusion considers future directions for animal studies in ancient Judaism.
This essay provides a summary and critical assessment of scholarship on sacrifice in the ancient Mediterranean over the last two decades. It focuses on Greek, Roman, Judean and Christian evidence from approximately the eighth century bce to the fifth century ce. Significant attention is paid to theoretical models, which have deeply affected the study of sacrifice. Archeological evidence for sacrifice is considered. The following areas of current scholarly debate are addressed and assessed: (1) the reach and role of religious experts; (2) sacrifice as communication and failed sacrifice; (3) the notion of spiritualization; (4) metaphorical and symbolic uses of sacrifice; and (5) sacrifice and identity. Sacrifice is theorized not as a static category or ontological thing, but a nexus of competitive ritualizations and/or discursive claims, the boundaries of which were actively contested by ancient practitioners and cultural producers.
This article, the third in a three-part series, examines the use of the modern categories of ethnicity and religion in scholarship on the meaning of Ioudaios, and evaluates the debate about its translation into English as ‘Jew’ or ‘Judaean’. Recent contributions by S. Cohen, P. Esler, D. Buell, S. Mason and S. Schwartz are described in detail, with particular attention devoted to their definitions of ‘ethnicity’ and ‘religion’, their methodology and their use of primary evidence. The article defends a polythetic concept of ethnicity as the basic category within which Ioudaios should be understood, but argues that a religious meaning was emerging in ancient ‘Judaism’; it also contends that contemporary concerns favour the translation ‘Jew’ over ‘Judaean’. Parts one and two in the series, which appeared in CBR 9.1 and 10.2, examined the relationship between Ioudaios and related group labels, and explored changing terminology in twentieth-century scholarship on Ioudaios.
Despite the apparent finality of Heschel’s pronouncement, in 1951, that Judaism is a ‘religion of time’, the past two decades have seen renewed scholarly interest in the relationship between time, time-keeping, and forms of temporality in Jewish culture. This vibrant engagement with time and temporality in Jewish studies is not an isolated phenomenon. It participates in a broader interdisciplinary examination of time across the arts, humanities and sciences, both in the academy and beyond it. The current article outlines the innovative approaches of this ‘temporal turn’ within ancient Judaism and Jewish studies and reflects on why time has become such an important topic of research in recent years. We address a number of questions: What are the trends in recent work on time and temporality in the fields of ancient Judaism and Jewish studies? What new insights into the study of Judaism have emerged as a result of this focus on time? What reasons (academic, historiographical, technological and geopolitical) underpin this interest in time in such a wide variety of disciplines? And finally, what are some new avenues for exploration in this growing field at the intersection of time and Jewish studies? The article identifies trends and discusses key works in the broad field of Jewish studies, while providing more specific surveys of particular developments in the fields of Second Temple Judaism, Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, rabbinic literature, and some medieval Jewish sources.
This article surveys some key works that address in one way or another the linguistic situation of ancient Palestine. It also examines that linguistic situation by way of introducing several multilingualism theories from the field of sociolinguistics, specifically explaining and demonstrating how they are pertinent to the investigation of the available linguistic evidence. The objectives are to show that previous studies that have utilized multilingualism theories have not yet been able to apply them either adequately or appropriately to the linguistic evidence, that use of multilingualism theories is the way forward to assess the available linguistic evidence, and that the linguistic situation of ancient Palestine must have been ‘multilingual and diglossic’.
Top-cited authors
David M. Miller
  • Briercrest College and Seminary
Gideon Bohak
  • Tel Aviv University
Andrew Mbuvi
  • Borderless Press
George H. Guthrie
  • Regent College
Ingrid Hjelm
  • University of Copenhagen