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The Ds Commentary on Books Fall 2016

  • Semitica Language Academy


This edition extensively reviews several biblical and classical texts. The New Cambridge Paragraph Bible and The Study Quran: a New Translation and Commentary also are reviewed. Volumes with ancient Near Eastern content are discussed: e.g., the collected writings of Raymond Westbrook and Peter Derow receive comments.
Fall 2016
In This Issue
1. G.B. Conte, Ope Ingenii:
Experiences of Textual Criticism
(2013) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 2
2. G. B. Cobbold, Lucretius: The Nature
of the Universe (2016) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 3
3. Wilfried Härle, Outline of Christian
Doctrine: An Evangelical
Dogmatics (2015) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 5
4. Walter Blanco & Jennifer T. Roberts,
Herodotus: The Histories.
(2nd. ed. 2013) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 10
5. Bill T. Arnold & Richard S. Hess,
Ancient Israel's History: An Introduction
to Issues and Sources (2014) . . . . . . . . . . . .p. 12
6. Seyyed Hossein Nasr,
The Study Quran: A New Translation and
Commentary (2015) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .p. 17
7. Give Due Regards to: Ernst Würthwein
(1909-1996), The Text of the
Old Testament: An Introduction to the
Biblia Hebraica; revised and expanded
by Alexander Achilles Fischer,
(3rd ed., 2014) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .p. 21
8. De Re Libraria: Deborah Lyons
& Kurt Raaflaub, edd., Ex Oriente Lex:
Near Eastern Influences on Ancient Greek
& Roman Law by Raymond Westbrook
(2015); Andrew Erskine & Josephine
Crawley Quinn, edd., Rome, Polybius
& The East by Peter Derow (2015);
David Norton, ed., The New Cambridge
Paragraph Bible: King James Version
(2011); F. Montanari, GE: The Brill
Dictionary of Ancient Greek (2015); Craig
R. Koester, Revelation: A New Translation
with Introduction and Commentary (2014);
C.R. Seitz, Joel: The International
Theological Commentary (2016); J.J.M.
Roberts, First Isaiah: A Commentary.
Fortress Press (2015) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .p. 22
Published reviews are in abundance today. Some of them are online and others are on library book-shelves, and
there are a few privately circulated pamphlets whose essays enjoy the merit of a large circulation; even if not an interdis-
ciplinary readership whose concerns regard the ancient civilizations of Greece, Rome and of the region of the Fertile
Generally, specialized investigations of ancient texts taken up by Biblicists, Classicists, Orientalists and
Theologians, forego academic interaction with textual transcriptions which fall outside their own fields of study. The
enormous amount of research conducted along precise lines of work, and later issued for public consumption, means
that the price of attainment in these spheres of genius is prohibitive.
The following review-essays are distributed for professional Divines, issued in order to exhibit decisive ideas to
human reason, and to fill up an obvious gap in studies involving the control of two or more disciplines. As an assem-
blage of occasional papers, at times various critical texts, and volumes and/or extended articles will be discussed. It is
my hope that some measurable contribution to critical scholarship may be had from these appraisals.
Editor: D. Antoine Sutton. Contact info: PO
Box 362, Red Cloud, NE 68970 or
Details Debate
Dissent Discussion
Discovery Delight
A Forum for Passionate
Polemic, which is Academically Described
ISSN: 2376-4627
Details Debate
Dissent Discussion
Discovery Delight
In Memoriam: Helmut Koester (1926-2016)
Fred C. Robinson (1930-2016)
Walter Burkert (1931-2015)
1 The value of these discussions of Mark 16 diminishes apart from an engagement with J.W. Burgon’s (1813-1888) critical study ‘The Last Twelve
Verses of The Gospel of Mark’ Vindicated Against Recent Critical Objectors and Established (1871).
2 It is said that Erasmus of Rotterdam could not find the Johannine verse in any Greek manuscript. So he deleted it from his earliest editions, rein-
serting it later in a 1522 edition; again removing it from later editions. The explanatory note in the 1522 edition under the rubric ‘Annotationes:
Ex Capite Quinto’ for I John 5 provides his extensive remarks against it. His arguments are not compelling in every case. However, Richard
Porson (1759-1808) put up thebestopposition tothe JohannineComma, (I Jn. 5:7 of the Textus Receptus includes the disputed text:
, when he issued in 1790 his 400 page Letters
to Archdeacon Travis, in Answer to His Defence of The Three Heavenly Witnesses, I John 5:7.
Gian B. Conte,
Ope Ingenii:
Experiences of Textual Criticism.
De Gruyter (2013).
Pp. 110. ISBN 978 3 11 031272 0. $61.00 (hb).
Professor Gian Bagio Conte is an eminent critic of clas-
sical texts. His Teubner edition, P. Vergilius Maro,
Aeneis (2009), is well-known and recognized as a
learned work of scholarship. It presents the best of his
editorial acumen, and it is the best edition of Virgil
published in the last 150 years. Ope Ingenii puts on dis-
play his exceptional insight in the unraveling of textu-
al problems. Each example given by him comes from
his private stock of textual problems that have fasci-
nated him through decades of inspection. The book
consists of a Preamble, followed by three chapters: (I)
Punctuation; (II) Interpolation and Athetesis; (III)
Corruption and Conjecture; and Epilogue. Two indices
end the volume. His confession is plain and simple: “I
have collected certain experiences of textual criticism
In the opening pages (p.4), professor Conte [hereafter
C.] divulges what he believes was a fundamental ingre-
dient of A.E. Housman’s success: viz., paleography. He
argues that since some errors in medieval MSS stem
from archetypes, it stands to reason that if miniscule
letters are converted back into capital letters, then the
recovery of what might have occurred in misreading
select letter-forms becomes apparent. True. Habitually
medieval MSS were handled by several hands over a
period of centuries. Letter-forms mutated in numer-
ous ways; some blunders are accounted for by the fact
that later scribes could not read the handwriting or
notations of earlier copyists.
Learning from one’s predecessors is vital to critical
inquiry. There is much one can gain in the study of the
history of scholarship. C. acknowledges the contribu-
tions of Gottfried Hermann (1772-1848) as the 'restorer
of the text of Aeschylus’ (p.23). He interacts with
notable critics, e.g., Angelo Poliziano (1454-1494), J.J.
Scaliger (1540-1609), J. F. Gronovius (1611-1671), Richard
Bentley (1662-1742), Friedrich H. Bothe (1771-1855), U.
Wilamowitz-Moelloendorff (1848-1931) and with
Eduard Fraenkel (1888-1970). Various Greek and Latin
authors are discussed: e.g., Petronius, Ovid, Aris-
tophanes, and Euripides.
The chapter on ‘Punctuation’ is convincing. However,
the punctuation of his English renderings does not
conform always to the punctuation of the text he cites:
e.g., p.41. Of great importance is his statement that the
linguistic signs, i.e., punctuation, provide the signals
needed to read a passage correctly (p.16). In the editing
of a text, indeed it is the punctuation that indicates
how an editor or translator comprehends the flow of
thought in each sentence. This partly explains why
scholars nowadays seldom cite foreign language texts
without translating them: the punctuated gloss always
is evidence of comprehension or the lack thereof.
Chapter two makes a significant contribution.
Although C. eshews consensus opinions in his work on
profane texts, he initiatesthe discussion in chaptertwo
by citing standard views of select New Testament pas-
sages (Mk. 161, Jn. 82etc.). His understanding of New
Testament textual criticism does not show innovation
or genius; nor does he discuss the subject with the
evenhandedness he extends to “Homer’s” texts (pp.35-
41), and this, despite the fact there are more New
Testament MSS extant than there are texts of the Iliad
or of the Odyssey. Conversely, C. knows Ovid’s
Metamorphoses was an extremely popular poem in
their day; but he believes Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura
‘was very rarely read’ (p.54). Several scholars will take
issue with that assertion, since so much inter-textual
study has been devoted to demonstrating the debtvar-
ious authors owed to their reading of Lucretius.
One interpretative matter (p.41): at Virgil’s Aen. 1.378-
380 we read
Sum pius Aeneas, raptos qui ex hoste penates
Classe ueho mecum, fama super aethera notus;
Italiam quaero patriam, et genus ab Iove summo
380 summo (A. vi 123)] magno R
I am the loyal Aeneas, who carry with me in my fleet
my household gods, snatched from the foe; my fame is
known above the heavens.
It is Italy I seek, my father’s land, and my stock is from
Jupiter most high.
C. believes thelast five wordsof line 380 are interpolat-
ed, being “totally inappropriate.” He says its “sounds
rather silly… almost a note of foolish boasting.” There is
hardly a problem here. The Aeneid is an historical epic.
The context everywhere is strictly mythical. Pius in line
380 need mean nothing less than ‘reverent’ or ‘devot-
ed’; certainly it carries much more meaning than ‘loyal’
denotes. As adevotee, the reference to Jupiter is appro-
priate to the context of Aeneas addressing his mother
Venus in disguise. Iove oversees Aeneas journey: his
confession to the Tyrian huntress (Venus) is not an
assertion of pride but a humble testimonial. Also, Italy
is not the land of the father of Aeneas. Should not the
English gloss in line three read “… Italy to be my father-
Chapter three helps the reader identify corrupt read-
ings. His first example is DRN 1.122:
Quo neque permaneant animae neque corpora
Where neither our souls nor our bodies remain,…
C. writes “All manuscripts agree in attesting the read-
ing of permaneant… this verb… is not to be found any-
where else in all the work of Lucretius.” He argues
against the reading not because it is absent from
Lucretius’ vocabulary but on account of how he con-
strues quo, ‘an adverb of motion to a place.’ So C. pro-
poses to read permanare. That word is frequently
attested in the poem. The line of reasoning here is
erroneous, I believe. In fact no change is needed given
that (1) permaneant is attested by ALL [C.’s word] the
MSS, and (2) that there is no metrical problem, and (3)
that no difficult adjustment is required. C.’s argument
allows for no literary incongruities, which may have
been in Lucretius’s mind as he composed, and it may
be that he deliberately stretched the meaning of per-
manare. Some would designate this procedure ‘radical
criticism’ – correcting the paradosis in the face of over-
whelming evidence. I regard it as an exaggerated kind
of enthusiasm, one that should be treated with caution
when it manifests because it does not necessarily
restore an ancient writer’s wording. A poem may be
recast, by conjecture, in a form that pleases a modern
editor, in spite of substantial amounts of MS evidence
to the contrary.
There is a personal element. C.’s writing acknowledges
the debts heowes to Bentley (pp.76-79) in his Virgilian
research. On pages 92-94 he also reveals what he owed
to Emil Baehrens (1848-1888) when he edited the
Aeneid. The final section treats of metrical corrup-
tions. Readers are informed that “the most common
risk is that metrical anomalies, which are indicators of
corruption, are not even noticed, but are pacifically
accepted” (p.105). That is an inescapable reality. But it
is a realism to which C. does well to alert the reader.
Here is another first-rate volume which may be placed
on the shelf alongside other useful volumes such as P.
Maas’ Textual Criticism (1963), R. Renehan’s Greek
Textual Criticism (1970), J. Willis’ Latin Textual
Criticism (1972), M.L. West’s Textual Criticism and
Editorial Technique (1973) and R. Tarrant’s Texts,
Editors, and Readers: Methods and Problems in Latin
Textual Criticism (2016). C. ranges far and wide
through ancient epic, lyric, tragedy and satire. His
book, though brief, should be read by critics who are
interested in intricaciesof prime importance. Its short-
comings are few: viz., of passages utilized in biblical
studies, can C. really believe that I Jn. 5:7-8 was “the
only one in the Bible which speaks of the Trinity”?
–p.31; the Latin text on page 42 lacks an English trans-
lation. The Index Nominum et Rerum is not compre-
hensive. Many scholars are cited in volume’s text and
footnotes and receive no mention in the index: e.g.,
M.D. Reeve, pp.32,69,89.
Readers should be grateful to De Gruyter for publish-
ing this private notebook of reflections on texts.
G. B. Cobbold,
Lucretius: The Nature of the Universe
Bolchazy-Carducci (2016). Pp. xxxii, 289.
ISBN 978 0 86516 838 1. $24.00 (pb).
Considerations of a textual nature are fundamental to
studies on the text of Lucretius’ (99BC-55BC) poem.
His poetry does not suffer from neglect in contempo-
rary studies. Detailed research is conducted routinely
on various passages. Critical editions of individual
books or segments of his poetry can be found in many
academic catalogs. Absent from most publishers
inventories are new listings of English translations of
the entire Latin text. It is not easy to find suitable per-
sons to apply the time to do the work or to take upon
themselves so muchdiscomfort. Since the 17th century,
the whole of De Rerum Natura has been translated into
English less than 50 times.
The popularization of classical Latin texts in English
language requires accomplished men and women of
letters with superb literary skills. Specialized themes
debated in antiquity still deserve a fair hearing today.
The distance between ancient and modern persons is
relative to the intellectual dexterity of a translator.
Converting older ideasand insights into useful data for
the present generation is not as easy as it appears.
The DRN was known to a few writers in antiquity and
to a few Latin-writing Patristic authors. 9th century
Carolingian copies of it could be had at various loca-
tions during the Early Medieval Period; but it was lost
from public notice, until its rediscovery by Gian
Francesco Poggio Bracciolini (1380-1459). That finding
was a fortuitousevent: unbelievers in any god now had
ammunition for challenging Christian thought.
Didactic poetry was a common instructional form of
composition employed in antiquity to educate readers.
A large range of poetic texts of that type found their
way into verse-forms (cf. Vergil’s Aeneid, Lucan’s
Pharsalia, Hesiod’s Works and Days). Lucretius chose
an Epicurean-philosophical subject. His was some-
thing approximating to a dogmatic textbook arranged
with care and written in a style that is characteristic of
the poetry of his age.
Cobbold’s translation meets the needs of lay readers
who are helpless without a guide who proceeds compe-
tently with checks and controls.3The ‘Introduction’ is
sufficient to acquaint readers with the poet and the
poem’s history. Translated into prose, each book is pre-
ceded by an italicized synopsis; the poem is divided
into shortsections, headed byappropriate captions. An
‘Annotated Index of Topics and a Glossary of Proper
Names’ (pp.271-289) concludes the book. Cobbold has
tilled De Rerum Natura’s soil well, and up from it has
sprung a harvest of veritable truths powerfully re-pre-
sented in the English language. Subtle nuances do not
usually escape his notice. Through misunderstanding,
a translator may mislead readers: overlooked truths
can go undetected by those who are unable to consult
the original Latin text. If the gloss, however, captures
the meaning of the author, then the original text
remains safeguarded, even if it is not accessible to the
Of the limitations of language at I:27-45 Lucretius said
… I am well aware how hard it will be to cast light
on the shadowy arguments of the Greeks in Latin
verse, particularly since I shall have to invent words
to deal with many of these topics: the vocabulary of
Latin is deficient, and the subject matter is entirely
new” (Cobbold, p.8).
Cobbold confesses that this translation is not meant
“to serve as an aid for those reading it in the original
Latin; but rather to be read easily and comfortably by
anyone interested in Roman history and literature, or
in ancient science and philosophy” (p.xxxiv). Scholars
will take issue with some of the interpretative liberties
that Cobbold hasallowed himself. Criticism will belev-
eled at some of his renderings. Despite this note of
caution, scholars in private academies of learning, stu-
dents in Junior Colleges, and non-specialists will not
be disappointed. The translation itself is fluid and cap-
tivating. Even if there is an occasional infelicitous
depiction of Latin sense, like ‘big talkers’ (p.88), the
modern reader still will find comfort in the DRN’s
The theological tenets to which Lucretius held were
not mainstream opinions. Nor were all his readers,
whoever they might have been, subscribers to his dog-
matic views. It is doubtful that he did not blush when
he wrote V.146-80:
“The important point about the gods is this: you
should not believe that they live anywhere in our
Granted all this, my dear Memmius, it is quite un-
realistic to pretend that the gods assembled the
world, in all its magnificent complexity, by their
own free will, or that it is consequently our duty to
praise their work as a great and wonderful achieve-
ment. It is absurd to believe that the world is ever-
lasting and indestructible; and even more absurd to
suggest that long ago the gods drew up plans, and
established a system that could never be over-
thrown, or subverted by argument, or abandoned,
or questioned in any way—all for the benefit of the
human race” (p.178).
As is obvious, Lucretius was not impressed by Roman
gods; nonetheless he seems deferential to them when
he pens verses to them, as a literary device, at the out-
set of certain books of the poem (e.g., I.1-49; IV.1-25);
but this was a common phenomenon in ancient Greek
and Latin poetry. Rapidly the poetshifts gears, discard-
ing deity as a source of invention and substituting
purely natural causes of creation. Lucretius weaves a
web of Latin verse that avoids generalities. Cobbold
captures the essence and tones of the Latin. The book’s
language is well-managed, yet vivid: e.g., I.265-328:
“Consider first the power of the wind: when it is
once stirred up, it beats upon the sea and capsizes
ships and rips away clouds. Or, it may rush across a
plain in savage gusts, uprooting trees everywhere
and battering the mountaintops with whirlwinds
that wipe out whole forests. It rages, it roars, it
screams. Gales slice apart the sea, the land, and the
3 I shall apply the numeration that Cobbold uses for subdivisions in DRN. Because of how he divides his translation into sections, one must com-
pare his translation with the Latin text to discern the exact verses quoted.
clouds, and whisk them up in sudden dangerous
tornadoes. You cannot see the wind but it is obvi-
ously real.
Consider the destructive force of water: after a rain-
storm a river, which you might once have thought
was harmless, bursts its banks and barrels down
from the mountains in a flash flood, bringing with
it splintered branches and tree trunks. The best
built bridges are no match for its strength; their
trusses are pounded to bits by the foaming storm
water. It howls and destroys as it goes. It uproots
huge rocks. It washes away whatever stands in its
way.” (pp.13-14).
Notwithstanding the freedom the translator allows
himself in rendering the Latin, the book itself is a valu-
able contribution to interpretations of classical texts. It
enters the marketplacewhen there is a swell of special-
ized articles on DRN. Most of them address presumed
textual errors. Few of them focus on literary-textual
description. By dedicated study of complex materials,
Cobbold now has supplied readers with constructive
results. In order to comprehend the intrinsic worth of
Lucretius: The Nature of the Universe one must come to
know the meaning of Lucretius’ Latin text. In this way,
the translation will come close to being as precious a
resource as the original Latin. Pearls of great price are
not often discovered, but when those are found, their
value is to be calculated by the appreciation they incur
while in the possession of caring owners.
Not since I read Rolf Humphries’ (1896-1969) verse
translation Lucretius: The Way Things Are (1969) was I
able to say that it has been a pleasure to spend pro-
longed periods of time perusing anotherpopular trans-
lation of DRN.
The book is not without defects. Cobbold believes De Rerum
Natura literally means “On the Nature of the Universe”
(p.xxviii). The general idea of a cosmos is not present in the
Latin. In its literal sense, it refers to aspects ‘Of the Coming
into Being of Things’: Rerum, being a noun denoting real but
vague entities. Cobbold assumes that the early Christians
misunderstood the Epicureans ‘definition of pleasure’
(p.xxxiii) and so attacked Epicurus (341BC-270BC). Is it not
likely, rather, that the Christian writers opposed
Epicureanism not on account of a misunderstanding, but
because of the lifestyles practiced by its adherents, which
were all too familiar to early followers of Jesus’ teachings?
Wilfried Härle,
Outline of Christian Doctrine: An
Evangelical Dogmatics.
Eerdmans (2015). Pp. 643.
ISBN 978 0 8028 4842 0. $50.00 (hb).
Foundations of any study of theology consist of various
strata of biblical texts. Dogmatic formulations usually
arise as a consequence of an overprovision of inter-
pretations. Creeds and confessions appear early in the
history of the Christian church. The explicationof spe-
cific doctrinal points was conducted with a view to
refuting heresy and to standardizing the theological
views of various sects. John of Damascus’ (675-749)
Exposition of the Orthodox Faith was an example of
such an expositor. His was a systematization of accept-
ed ideas and opinions current among ancient writers.
Systems of divinity, however, as understood by mod-
ern, Christian academics, were not inaugurated until
the so-called Middle Ages. Thomas Aquinas’ (1225-
1274) ground-breaking work, Summa Theologica,
established once and for all theology’s reign over the
sciences of that day. The scholastic study of Scripture
in European universities became a burgeoning disci-
pline. The latter Renaissance era saw a few Protestant
Reformers reconstruct apologetic techniques that were
maintained until skeptic scholars of the
Enlightenment called into question the most basic
premises of belief in God or “inspired” scripture. The
rationalism of the day affected biblical studies in the
West for the next two centuries.
Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) made an earnest
attempt to merge aspects of skepticism with basic
Christian dogma. The result was a modern liberal the-
ology. Little of the scholastic forms of theology contin-
ued. The critical reasoning employed by German the-
ologians in the twentieth century became self-reflec-
tive. The insights gained produced newer hypotheses,
diverse theologies. Mostly theoretical, holders of these
new views deemed absolute-truth to be non-existent.
Since the mainstream foundational beliefs of theology
were dismantled, all that remained to be done was to
erect new “pillars of belief” upon a base of critical
inquiry. This newest archetype did not win the
approval of all persons. Wilfried Härle is another one
of those people who is displeased.
Härle (hereafter H.) is an author, whose Outlines, even
if designed to be introductory, reflect a continuance of
the German school of meticulous study. He has an
acute mind. His book is scholastic, Aristotelian in the
setting forth of arguments: meeting one objectionafter
another with rhetorical force. The tenor of H.’s writing
is irenic, even when expressing disagreement. The field
in which he has sown his seeds of theology is fertilized
with verystrong Lutheran convictions. It is a laborious
work; it will rival many standard introductory volumes
in the marketplace at present. I cannot think of a the-
ologian in the West who could have or would have
composed a digest like this one.
The Table of Contents is comprehensive. There are fif-
teen chapters each consisting of various sub-sections:
INTRODUCTION: (1) Dogmatics in the Whole
Context of Theology as Science; I THE ESSENCE OF
THE CHRISTIAN FAITH: (2) The Question of the
Essence of the Christian Faith, (3) God’s Revelation of
Jesus Christ as the Basis of the Christian Faith, (4) The
Bible as Source and Norm of the Christian Faith, (5)
The Church’s Confession as the Decisive Interpretation
of the Christian Faith, (6) The Present Lifeworld as the
Context of the Christian Faith; II EXPLICATION OF
(7) Knowledge of God and of the World; Part A: The
Christian Understanding of God: (8) The Being of God
(Theo-logy), (9) God’s Self-Disclosure in Jesus Christ
(Christology), (10) The Presence of God as Holy Spirit
(Pneumatology), (11) The Triune Essence of God
(Doctrine of the Trinity); Part B: The Christian Faith’s
Understanding of the World: (12) The Created World
(Doctrine of Creation), (13) The Fallen World (Hamar-
tiology), (14) The Reconciled World (Soteriology), (15)
The Completed World (Eschatology), Select Bibli-
ography and indices.
In the Editor’s Introduction, Nicholas Sogovsky
reports that for the last twenty years H.’s Dogmatik
“has been the most widely used German text to intro-
duce students to Christian doctrine.” The claim is not
hard to believe. A survey of the book’s content follows.
P. 14: H. follows Wolfhart Pannenberg’s (1928-2014)
belief that theology “must take its general bearings
from the general concept of science”. In the past that
belief would have worried me. Anytime someone tries
to harmonize the core tenets of Christianity with the
results of critical, scientific research the outcome tends
to be bad for both departments. The results of “scien-
tific research” always originate from the moods of the
critics doing the research; and the critics’ frame of
mind completely controls how classical terms will be
interpreted, and how ancient contexts will be re-
imagined. Therefore the positive influence is limited.
In the early part of the book, this view leads H. into
many convoluted discussions. Instead of being mes-
merized by scientific terminology – in an introductory
volume – the study of theology is improved when it is
engaged in arguments which are scriptural, reflective
and systematic. There is an abundance of theory of
ideas, but little in the first sixty pages which advances
the reader in the knowledge of historical dogmatics. In
fact this is the least satisfactory portion of the book. It
is too theoretical, often governed by contradictions,
but one should be cautious in criticizing H. exclusively
on these grounds.
P.40: after a long discourse trying to explain “essence”
he concludes, “This is why the attempt to define
“essence” as the “distinctive and unmistakable” is
unclear and misleading.” Again, P.44: speaking of the
meaning of faith/belief he writes, ““trust” means:
allowing yourself, in your deeds and in your expecta-
tions and plans for action, to be drawn by another per-
son or being towards devotion to this other person or
being. But this definition is still too imprecise, as it is
too informal.” P.61: wanting toexplain the basic core or
‘essence of The Christian Faith’ he states: “Determining
its essencerepresents for theology a hermeneutic, ana-
lytic and reconstructive task that is both diff icult to
understand and impossible to complete” [italics mine].
Yet later on page 70 he can say of Jesus Christ:
…because it is with him that the identity, that is, the
essence, of the Christian faith stands or falls.
Although rudimentary, that was not a disingenuous
summary of his views.
Not a few German divines publish scholarship that is
equally hard going. They tend to distrust their own
theologies, and have a harder time reconstructing
them. The motive behind trying to explicate a [dog-
matic] theology that is impossible to grasp may be
questioned by readers. Words are literary signs, and
when used by a skillful word-smith they are capable of
much. This notion is not new. It is fairly old. Plato
(c.429-347BC) believed language was instrumental. H.
would agree I’m sure, even if he succumbs to a philos-
ophy of language so tedious that it encumbers his
detailed lines of reasoning. When meanings of words
are elusive to an author, so are the right ways to use
them. He often takes two full pages to state what could
be said in one elongated paragraph.
H. erects his Dogmatics on his explanation of system-
atic theology: H. will be “giving an accountof the truth-
content of the Christian faith in the face of internal
and external challenges” (p.27). The terms ‘systematic
theology’ entail a classification of relations, a study of
God’s interaction with mankind in his world, both of
which he is said to havecreated. Following H.’s scheme
of systematics I supply extracts and some further
remarks on his opinions.
Presenting plainly some texts of scripture which claim
the exceptionality of Christ (p.76), he cites: e.g., Jn. 1:14,
Mt. 11:27, Jn. 14:6 and Ac. 4:12 as he builds a case for
Jesus’ uniqueness:
“It is not so much the positive statements, but
rather the negations associated with them (“no
one”, “no”) that give the impression of exclusivity.
However, if we look at these statements closely, it
can be seen that exclusivity applies only in one par-
ticular - though crucial – respect: with regard to
revelation as the way to salvation. Here there is no
possibility at all of any alternative, division, or
The real challenge, particularly for our pluralistic
time and age, lies in the proposition that there are
not several, or any number of, routes to salvation,
but only one route, and that this route is revealed by
God in Jesus Christ.
The above citation is clear. From Jesus’ incarnation,
throughout his sinless mediation, and unto his exalta-
tion to God’s throne H. assumes the character of Christ
to be unique. Some positions are difficult to reconcile
with scripture, as when he proposes (p.84) that
“Christians really do have the missionary task of
bearing witness to the revelation of Godthis testi-
mony has the character of a proclamation through
which God can reveal himself to aperson, in that he
creates certainty of truth in him or her and awakens
faith. This indispensable testimony to the truth of
the revelation of Christ must however be radically
distinguished from the claim towards other people,
that they acknowledge the truth of the Christ rev-
elation without its having been disclosed to them as
such. Such a claim of absoluteness would be a
demand for subjugation that violated the con-
science of the people at whom it was directed,
something that could never be countenanced with-
in the mission of the Christian faith.”
The second sentence contains the crux of predestinar-
ian salvation. The hopelessly depraved (or, dead-in-
her-sins) person is graciously regenerated, or adminis-
tered ‘faith’, by God, in order to be awakened to the
great eternal truth of Jesus’ person and works. This
thought is amplified on pages 254-300. The human
capacity to apply reason to these truths is not a fore-
gone event in thatscheme. The last two sentences seem
to echo a sentiment of universal salvation: namely, if a
group of people have not heard of Jesus’ redemptive
vocation they are not held responsible as guilty per-
sons. The other side of the coin is that God would not
hold these persons responsible for what they did not
know. But the latter half of Romans 1 says otherwise. It
is a chapter, in which, it is declared that mankind is
judged not merely on the basis of his or her knowledge
of Jesus, but according to their disavowal of explicit
knowledge which is manifest to all persons through
H. believes himself to be a confessional theologian (cf.
his statement on the Formula of Concord, 1577; p.123),
holding to the traditional Protestant canon. He writes
(p.90) “Since the biblical canon is understood as the
consequenceof the revelation of God, the biblical writ-
ings are therefore, according to the teaching of the
reformers, ‘the only rule and guiding principle accord-
ing to which all teachings and teachers are to be evalu-
ated and judged.’” He avers the construction of the
canon preserves the true faith from distortion.
Arguing for the significance of the normative canon,
and against a statement formulated in the Council of
Trent, he contends “For that reason it is impossible to
adopt the Roman Catholic teaching according to which
the church accepts and venerates written and un-
written tradition ‘with the same sense of loyalty and
reverence with which it accepts and reveres all the
books both of the Old and New Testament’” (p.91).
Apocryphal texts are infrequently mentioned by H.,
mainly in footnotes.
He treads with caution on the topic of inspiration
(pp.96-99). A common error is repeated. He denies the
plausibility of any doctrine which upholds the inerran-
cy of scripture, saying, “any such attempt arises from
the desire – a desire that contradicts the certainty of
faith – to render witness to the revelation unassailable.
In view of the fact that the Bible is manifestly rooted in
history and capable of error, such an attempt cannot
succeed” (p.96). All will not give their assent to that
view of inerrancy. Except for instances within Catholic
and Orthodox churches, that specific doctrine lost its
footing among Protestants on the European continent
more than two centuries ago. Still “inerrancy” is an idea
maintained by evangelical Christians in North
America and in the districts east of the Mediterranean
Sea and south of it. On this point H. may be wrong, he
does not put forward even the ideaof a hypothetical set
of original documents inerrantly composed. The dis-
cussion is original, insightful, but definitely in need of
the moorings of more scripture.
H. respects the Roman Catholic position; and believes
‘the doctrine of Papal infallibility’ to be an obstacle in
the way of any reunion of churches of the Reformation
and of churches of Roman Catholic communions
(p.117), especially since the papal stricture was reaf-
firmed at Vatican II (Lumen Gentium 25). What was
reaffirmed? The Council of Trent (1545-1563) made no
reference of papal infallibility. An incapability of erring
was relegated to the church, of which it is stated
(Catechismus Romanus, I, p. 10, ch. 16) “This one
[Roman] Catholic Church cannot err in handing down
the doctrine of faith and morals.” However, three cen-
turies later on July 18 1870 papal infallibility was prom-
ulgated emphatically in Rome where it was insisted:
… we teach and define that it is a dogma divinely
revealed: that theRoman pontiff, when he speaks ex
cathedra, that is, when in discharge of the office of
pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his
supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine
regarding faith and morals to be held by the
Universal Church, by the divine assistance prom-
ised to him in blessed Peter, is possessed of that
infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed
that his Church should be endowed for defining
doctrine regarding faith or morals: and that,
therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff
are irreformable of themselves, and not from the
consent of the Church”. See H.E. Manning, The
True Story of the Vatican Council (London, 1877),
Chapter 8 focuses entirely on the idea that the essence
of God is love, that it is the main constituent of God’s
nature. So he writes:
“I would like to point out here that talk of God’s
mysteriousness and strangeness actually presup-
poses that God’s essence is decisively determined by
grace, goodness or love. It is only because of this
precondition that God appears puzzling and
strange to us” (p.197). He also says “in thestatement
‘God is love’ is concentrated, as we said, a wealth of
biblical, ecclesial and theological statements about
God” (loc. cit.).
Not so. It would not be possible to presuppose much
about a God who is altogether mysterious. The fact
that anything can be presumed implies degrees of rev-
elation were provided, not just through the revelation
of Jesus. Indeed why exalt one attribute, love, above
all the other perfections of God? This love-view is
restated again (p.203) where he says “love alone can be
equated with the essence of God.” As noted above,
H.’s idea of God’s essence is indefinite. The biblical
texts which reveal God’s love, do not display in any
lesser glory God’s qualities of holiness, righteousness,
jealousy or his modes of wrath.4The language
describing each of them is equally vigorous and
attractive. H.’s view is a powerful thesis, and he uses it
to substantiate his claim that “our reflections on the
Christian understanding of God have rested on the
insight that God’s essence is love” (p.215). The
promotion of this truth hardly paves the way toward
the extirpation of errors which may soon appear as a
result of his opinions.
Excursus: the use of ‘love’ as the definitive trait of
God’s being is more than an understated trend. It has swept
its way over the shores of the field of systematics. The per-
spective it has left is tooone-sided, and at points misleading.
Liberal clergy and a few evangelical scholars are distressed
over Old Testament passages which claim thatsome miseries
and anguish borne by men originated with God, e.g., the
flood waters that saved Noah and his family are supposed to
have wiped out the remaining populace. All these things,
according to scripture emanate from a just God. So to
post-modern critics, even notions of wrath or hell are topics
seemingly inconsistent with the nature of a benevolent
being. Hypotheses of these kinds are influential in
societies today.
In a fine systematic theology recently published by Gerald
Bray entitled ‘God is Love’ (Crossway, 2012), therein love
again swallows up all God’s other qualities: e.g., p. 11:
“It explains how God loves what he has made…”; p.17:
“God’s love for us is deep and all embracing”; p.81:
“The love of God reaches out to each of us individually”;
p.118: speaking of the Son’s love for the Holy Spirit and
of the Holy Spirit’s love for the Father he writes, “the two
things go together… making it possible for us not only to
experience the love of God…”; p.176: “…the second and
third persons of the Trinity love the first and have given
him the honor of precedence within their relationship”;
p.235: “In the wisdom of his all-embracing love…”; p.309:
“Rebellion against God is the rejection of God’s love.”;
p.437: “…in his love, God left his rebellious creatures
enough light…”; p.510: “However we conceive God’s plan… it
is designed and executed in love.”; p.608: “God’s grace is
the fruit of his love.”; p.670: “The church is primarily the
community of those who have come to know the love of
God…” and p.740: “Love is our eternal destiny.”
So much of what H. says is true. No one familiar with
scripture can doubt the solemnity of those claims;
4 H. is aware of the issue of God’s wrath. The best he can do on page 226 is quote Otto Weber (1902-1966): “The wrath of God can only be under-
stood as God’s real and effective ‘No’ to sin. Since sin, for its part, is the rejection of the love of God … the wrath of God is nothing other than his
love turning against its own rejection.” Therefore at footnote 55, on page 227, he labels wrath “an aspectof the love of God.” Thediscussion is a mere
three paragraphslong; ‘wrath’ is absent from the index of subjects. He does notgo as far as Schleiermacher in avoidanceof teaching on God’sanger,
but H.’s teaching on theodicy (an argument in defense of God’s goodness despite the existence of evil) is a replacement for a genuine examination
of Ponerology, (the study of evil). God’s judgement is much more than a repudiation of transgression, a ‘No’ to sin; it is punitive. It is God sternly
disciplining ancient Israelites and others for disobeying his statutes: e.g., Numbers 21:6 the Lord sentfiery serpents among the people who bit them
and some of them died; II Chronicles 36 God simultaneously sent Jeremiah to Israel to prophesy to them (v.15) as an act of God’s compassion on
them, while alsoraising up the Babylonians, because of Israel’s obstinacy, to carry awaymost of them to aforeign land (vv.20-21); Acts 12:23 theangel
of the Lord smote Herod and he died; Acts 13:11 God blinded Elymas the sorcerer and the plagues poured forth upon the earth in John’s Revelation.
All of them are as consequential to comprehending the disposition of God’s character as is the account of the multiplication of the loaves of bread
by Jesus in John 6:1-13. Since justice is the cornerstoneof the biblical God’s government, despite the hundreds of reports of God’s works in the Bible,
no injustice or unrighteousness may be ascribed to his actions however curious or indecorous they may seem to readers.
nevertheless a few of them are oddly worded. And the
adduction of everything towards love may be favorable
to the conscience of secular and/or carnal readers, but
some misrepresentation of God, although unintended,
is inevitable. To reiterate, the positive prominence
given to only one divine attribute, love, is incomplete-
ly supported by the biblical depiction of God; and the
theory does not approach to the nature of cogent evi-
A critical, short piece on Mariology is inserted on pages
297-299. It is marked by characteristic German thor-
oughness. His account of the Triune essence of God
(pp.323-340) is influenced by remarks set forth in Karl
Barth’s arguments, bearing strong resemblance to the
modalism taught in patristic times. This was the belief
that God is one person who did reveal himself in three
forms. He is unwilling to found his Trinitarian belief
firmly on scripture, taking a purely historical
approach. He asserts that the Nicene Creed and the
Nicene-Constantinopolitan creed “were less obviously
successful” in maintaining “oneness in the face of
tritheistic tendencies” (p.327). He prefers the term
‘mode of being’ (see also p.334) to the word person
because the latter is too “tied to the idea of individual
instance” (p.328).
Believing that dogmatics should treat more than
anthropology in its section on ‘doctrine about crea-
tures’, he seems to be of the opinion that it is an
indefensible theological position which argues to save
human life but also permits plants and animals to be
destroyed (p.360). H. oddlydefines sin in this way: it is
“primarily lostness, collapse, failure, and not primarily
rebellion, disobedience, rejection of God.” A few lines
later he says that “in the biblical and reformation
sense, sin is most appropriately spoken of when it is
seen as a missing of the destiny to live, as a breakdown
or failure of Life” (italics mine, p.397). The claims are
not convincing. On page 400 he writes “Human beings
are capable of sin, that is, they can fail to realize their
destiny”. This re-imagined sense disfigures the mean-
ing of sin.
He affirms the doctrine of original sin (p.407).
Following Martin Luther, H. supports the Reformation
teaching of the enslaved will (pp.409-10); however he
denies the notion that this is a thesis in favor of deter-
minism: “each human being… has freedom of action….
There are of course limits to their ability, but within
those limits, they can choose and act on their own ini-
tiative” (p.409). However, the limits of theirchoices are
not delineated. In truth, according to H., the convic-
tion of the enslaved will, servum arbitrium, descends in
Christian tradition, not from scripture but from a peri-
od of time, the starting point being “at least the time of
Augustine” (p.409).
In regard to election or double predestination at
Romans 9:22-23 he follows the 1577 Lutheran state-
ment of faith, writing: “The Formula of Concord inter-
prets this biblical text as follows: For the Apostle clear-
ly says there thatGod ‘endured with much patience the
vessels of wrath,’ and he does not say that God made
them vessels of wrath. For if that had been his will, he
would not have needed to have ‘much patience.’ That
they were prepared for condemnation is to be blamed
on the devil and the human beings themselves, not on
God” (p.431). He does not believe that scripture teach-
es that baptism is dependent on a person’s faith. Thus
the baptism of infants is founded on the idea that it
“gives expression to the unconditionality of the
divine promise of salvation. In a situation in life
where it is not yet possible to speak of the infant’s
own achievement, or of a condition he or she must
fulfill, a newborn human being is granted salvation
as the destiny of his or her life in a clearly palpable
fashion” (p.451).
Readers may find the argument somewhat farfetched.
He means that the electing power of God may be dis-
pensed arbitrarily by ordained clergy to all children.
Moreover, since the relation between baptism and
faith is not close, it leads to the notion that children of
people of other faiths who are baptized (secretly or
openly) become unconditionally elected through the
dispersion of water upon them. The final section on
Eschatology (pp.486-526) need not have been includ-
ed. It is not an examination of what scripture says of
the end of the age or of the consummationof all things,
but of extracts of his beliefs on heaven and hell, and of
a disconcerting concept of Christ the judge of all
mankind (p.522).
Details: p.255 the Roman emperor was not always
“understood as being of a divine nature”; H. believes
the Jewish faith existed for a long period of time with-
out a “creation credo”: that is to say that the Genesis 1
and 2 accounts “arose out of the encounter between
the faith of Yahweh and other religions that laid claim
to the natureor the coming into existence of the world
as the sphere or work of other gods” (p.345-6). If there
are manuscripts of ancient torah documents which did
not contain the ‘creation narrative’, the Psalmists were
unaware of it, just as they were unaware that their
belief in Jehovah’s creation, and their description of it,
was an adaptation of a pagan concept. And H. denies
the concept of creation ex nihilo, stating: “In the bibli-
cal creation narratives, there is no presupposition
about creation from nothing” (p.356). His descriptions
of all these things is based upon the Graf-Wellhausen
documentary hypothesis theory, which states that the
first five books of the bible comprise five different
sources: a Jahwist source, written c. 950 BC, an Elohist
source written c. 850 BC, a Deuteronomist source writ-
ten c. 600 BC, and a Priestly source written c. 500 BC.5
It is much easier to review a dogmatic theological text-
book than it is to write one. As noted above, this one
has its own complexities. H.’s volume provides a
glimpse into how God is understood by one German
scholar and possibly by the many readers of his dog-
matics. Theology, generally, denotes the study of God.
The writing of it usually is selective, and based on cur-
rent academic trends. I believe it would be more
appropriate for students of theology to reorient their
perspective, returning toearlier sources, i.e., toeastern
and western Church Fathers whose writingsare extant.
Christian theology should present from holy writings
what may be known of God, emphasizing the
Godhead’s trinality of distinction.
Overstressing Christ inorder to produce aChristo-cen-
tric system of divinity at this point is commonplace.
For H. Christology is Theology Proper. This notion is
not true to scripture. Absent from these discussions is
a worthwhile treatment of ‘Paterology’, the study of
God’s status as Father or as one who begets;
Pneumatology, too, is connected, but only insofar
as it too exists within the trinality of distinction fea-
tured in the term ‘Theology.’ Academic writing on
biblical revelation cannot advance very far if the
proper sequence of the disclosure of God’s characteris-
tics is avoided.
H.’s book is rather more than introductory; whether or
not it is “Evangelical” will be determined by how read-
ers define the term. The above citations from the text
present a large amount of the arguments he submits.
To be credible, single-volume systematic theologies
must present an adequate conception of how God was
comprehended in the Bible and explained in early rab-
binic texts and by the earliest adherents to the
Christian faith. This book purports to reflect Lutheran
views or the views of the Lutheran churches of the
Reformation. It does not interact with the rabbinical
corpus or with the writings of Apostolic Fathers or of
later Patristic Fathers. Although H. is Protestant, suit-
able help could have been given to him by drawing on
the annotations of The Haydock Bible (1811).
Editing: p. 117: read “…of the gospel will in the future be
revealed…; instead of “…gospel will in future be
Walter Blanco & Jennifer T. Roberts,
Herodotus: The Histories.
Norton (2nd. ed. 2013). Pp. xxi, 647.
ISBN 978 0 393 93397 0. $23.00 (pb).
Norton publishers should be commended. One of the
chief architects of the classical foundations of western
civilization has reappeared again in his entirety
through this revised edition. W. Blanco - the translator,
and J. Roberts (hereafter B&R) provide a lucid and
effective introduction (pp.ix-xiii) to these internation-
al chronicles. Herodotus (c.484BC-c.420BC), the teller
of tales and of truth, originated the genre of historical
documentary in Greek language. Although his narra-
tive is replete with reports of mythic and fictional
accounts, his version of precedents and proceedings of
armed confrontations between Greeks and Persians is
superb. Herodotus was a reverent soul; impiety was
obnoxious to him; his texts are deeply religious.
B&R are keen to expose a truth: “Herodotus’ history
embodies a moral: those who overreach or ignore nat-
ural limits are doomed” (p.xi). Ethical points are less
important to some readers today than they were long
ago. Greek tragedians and writers of Old and New
comedy positively and negatively influenced many cit-
izens and foreigners by their stage inventions.
Herodotus, though, wanted readers of his prose to
learn of some causes of war, and of the consequences
resulting from going too far. Moreover he wanted to
inform readers of the customs of surrounding cultures,
and of the disruptions that war brings to their societal
In ancient times a text was a literary classroom through
which an author’s characters provided private and
public tuition to readers and listeners. B&R are cog-
nizant of this fact. Their book aids the reader in his or
her instruction. One advantage is that, with onlya brief
‘Introduction’, readers may go directly to the text; sup-
plementary material is placed at the end of the book
(pp.421-623: i.e., various essays, glossary, selected bibli-
ography, indices.). Footnotes are infrequent, concise
and not distracting. Each of the nine books is preced-
ed by succinct summary; although the one before book
one could have been attached to the introductionsince
the significance of the outline to book one is negligible.
Herodotus’ use of material is distinct. By means of
first-hand reporting, the peoples’ perspectives are
given a priority not given in any other comparable
5 Karl H. Graf (1815-1869) and Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918) were esteemed Orientalists in their day. Their hypotheses regarding the origin of
Hebrew scripture long ago was resisted but not yet abandoned by most Old Testamentscholars.
ancient near eastern text (cf. 2.123;7.152). It would be
1900 years later before serious, but similar notice would
be taken of varied classes of people, when ancient
Romans become the focal pointof research being done
by American and British classicists.
It is often assumed that Herodotus was deceptive. It is
doubtful that he was a determined liar. Scholars who
impugn his motives do no more or less damage to
Herodotus’ name than they do to their own names,
since their displays of prejudice mirror the activity they
seek to undermine. Some critical scholars, too, misin-
form readers. Indeed the falsifications fall under the
rubrics “reconstruction” or “re-imagining”. Sometimes
a more scientific word is used, e.g., “conjecture.”
Summary. Herodotus has much to say and many ways
to say it. His interests are broad and diverse. Note some
of the contents of each book: (1) introductory; but
biographical material on Croesus the Lydian is set
forth; (2) details of Herodotus’ Egyptianresearches; (3)
Egypt’s conquest by Cyrus son of Cambyses; (4)
Herodotus’ examination of Scythia, and his remarks on
the Amazons, the fierce warrior women; (5) comments
on Athenian history and events leading to Greek and
Persian conf lict; (6) Battle in the plain of Marathon;
(7) Battle at Thermopylae; (8) Battle of Salamis; (9)
Battles at Plataea and Mycale.
The Translation. ‘Theories’ of translation abound. It is
to the readers’ benefit B&R did not provide one. Not
since medieval times have translators strictly applied
methods of word-conversionwith valid consistency. So
it is better todiscover modes of translation through the
study of individual passages.
In comparison to The Landmark Herodotus (2007),
Norton’s Herodotus: The Histories is the more appeal-
ing edition in my opinion. The former gives me all that
I want to know and much more that I do not desire to
know. At nearly 1000 pages it is bulky, useful specifical-
ly for its geographical features and for reference pur-
poses, but who wants to read the histories while grap-
pling with a 3 ½ lb. book? The Landmark edition puts
on displayvarious textual issues. The Norton text pass-
es over them without notice. Neither of the volumes in
either series is noted for their criticism of texts anyhow
so the disadvantages are minimal.
However, differences do manifest when comparing the
two translations while reading C. Hude’s Oxford
Classical Text of the histories. As for MS readings, e.g.,
at 1.58 Landmark inserts “manypeoples”/Norton
retains “Pelasgians”; at 1.64.3 Landmark inserts “tyrant
of the Athenians”/Norton retains “ruler of Athens”; at
2.116.2 Landmark inserts “it is clear that heaccordingly
composed (and nowherecontradicted) a version of the
wanderings of Alexandros”/Norton has “It is clear that
in the Iliad he let slip his knowledge of the wanderings
of Alexander (which he nowhere retracts)”; at 7.36.2
Landmark departs from MSS, inserting “They lefta gap
between the penteconters and triremes large enough
to sail through...”/Norton: “Narrow openings or pas-
sages were left between the penteconters in three
places so that people could sail in and out...; at 8.77
Landmark has “when I consider words like these”/
Norton prints “when I look at something like this”
[underlining mine].
The Landmark translator sacrifices, by degrees, elo-
quence for stricter adherence to the Greek text. In con-
trast, theexpressiveness of the Norton versiondoes not
denote inexactness, but the grammar and sentence
structure of the English do not always reflect the
movements of the Greek tenses. Subtexts from G.C.
Macaulay’s 1890 translation never are far from transla-
tors, and B&R renew old acquaintances with his ren-
derings in numerous places. See for yourself at 1.17:
The passage outlines some of the exploits of Alyattes
(d. 560BC) son of Sadyattes, one who reigned for 12
years. Hewas the so-called founding king of the Lydian
empire and was a fierce warrior who sired Croesus.
B&R render the first sentence rather freely, “These are
the other great and noteworthy deeds Alyattes per-
formed during his reign…. Readers are afforded some
help here. Even though the king is the subject, who
may be deduced from preceding passages, the name
Alyattes is absent from that specific Greek sentence. In
its entirety 1.17 is quite lively, even emotive, containing
several striking phrases. The timing of the invasion was
strategic, replete with musical accompaniment. Lydian
soldiers refrained from wrecking the dwelling places of
the Milesians; but agriculture was a target of the king’s
malevolent plan. B&R capture the fluidity of
Herodotus’ text, writing:
“This is how he invaded Miletus: he brought his army as
soon as the crop was ripe in the fields. They marched to
shepherd’s pipes and lutes, fifes and f lutes. When he
came to Miletus, he did not demolish or burn even or
even tear out the doors of any of the houses in the f ields,
but let them stand throughout the countryside. When
he had completely destroyed the trees and crops in the
f ields, though, he would go back home. The Milesians
controlled the sea, so there was no point in having an
army set up a regular siege. The reason why the Lydian
did not destroy the houses was so that the Milesians
would be able to live in them while they went out to sow
and work the fields, and so that he, after all their labor,
would have something to destroy during his invasions.
The English text reflects the Greek insofar as it mirrors
Herodotus’ record. At 1.17.2 the adverbial useof “when
in B&R’s English also could be given a conjunctive gist,
‘[once] he reached Miletus…’, hinting, in a subtle way,
at the exertive force necessary for overland movements
during harvest. The mental picture is of the extension
of one’s self into another sphere, with reference to a
goal or objective, namely Miletus. Admittedly this
assertion of mine issomewhat otiose, butit is nonethe-
less revealing. Whether good or bad, all translation is a
form of interpretation. And the craft itself is demand-
ing. Those specialists who do it well possess expansive
philological skill and verve. B&R offers an attractive
Considering all the riches between its covers the pur-
chased of it would be a worthwhile investment. The
advertisementset forth on the back of the book is true:
“Each Norton Critical Edition includes anauthoritative
text, contextual and source materials, and awide range
of interpretations -- from contemporary perspectives
to the most current critical theory – as well as a bibli-
ography and, in many cases, a chronology of the
author’s life and work.
It is hard to conceive a better assemblage of excerpts
and essays. They comprise sections on ‘Backgrounds’
(pp.423-465) and ‘Commentaries’ (pp.469-609); James
Romm’s brief treatise, ‘The Shape of Herodotus’
World’ was specially commissioned for this edition. If
ever a third edition is issued, may I suggest to the edi-
tors that they include G.E.M. De Ste Croix’s paper
‘Herodotus’ in Greece and Rome, Vol. 24, No. 2, Oct.
1977, pp.130-148.
Bill T. Arnold & Richard S. Hess,
Ancient Israel’s History:
An Introduction to Issues and Sources.
Baker Academic (2014). Pp. xv, 544.
ISBN 978 0 8010 3930 0. $44.99 (hb).
On the Baker Academic blog, the editors answer the
question ‘Why We Wrote Ancient Israel’s History:
[it] “grows out of a need we noticed many years ago
when we were students together at Hebrew Union
College….” and “little has been produced that
attempts to dig more deeply into the historical
questions relevant to specific areas of Israel’s his-
tory, to make full use and evaluation of the relevant
evidence, and to do so within a handbook that sur-
veys thatentire history.... First, the aim is thatit will
provide a comprehensive survey of the field for the
advanced undergraduate student and for the grad-
uate student…. Secondly, Ancient Israel’s History
attempts to provide a useful resource for the schol-
ar who wishes to understand the diverse perspec-
tives in historical questions of this period and
related issues of culture…” Thirdly, “our book
attempts to provide prolegomena, or preliminary
steps, to the study of Israel’s history.
Hebrew-Bible studies are flourishing. One welcome
trend in recent decades has been the issuance of those
findings. The Status Quaestionis is apparent in this
book. Most readers will delight in the book’s diagnos-
tic value, longstanding difficulties are identified can-
didly. Several authors even invite readers to modify
some established views. Students of the history of
ancient Israel are awarded problems and prizes in
abundance whenever they seek to acquaint themselves
with certain procedures that fostered the destabiliza-
tion of conventional views. As much occurred all the
way through Church history each time readers of the
Bible commenced their quest fortruth. The searchgave
way to profusions of opinions. One book, Biblia Sacra
Polyglotta (1653-1657) edited by Brian Walton (1600-
1661), bested all its forerunners in its published judg-
ments. It remained a model of biblical criticism for 200
years. The scholarly apparatus equipped readers with
new materials for exegesis. Another, Richard Simon
(1638-1712), too contributed to Old and New Testament
criticism. His Histoire Critique du V ieux Testament
(1678) set new standards, treating of Higher and Lower
The influence that each of these men, as well as their
books enjoyed was great. They held powerful swayover
their fellow countrymen and over others in distant
lands. The trail leading to and from select Old
Testament (OT) scholars of repute is long. Owing to
the characterof Simon’s criticism there is astraight line
to Abraham Kuenen (1828-1891) and his noble work
Historisch-Kritisch Onderzoek naar het onstaan en de
verzameling van de Boeken des Ouden Verbonds (1st ed.
1861-65; 2nd ed. 1885-93). Massive credence was given
to Julius Wellhausen’s (1844-1918) Prolegomena zur
Geschichte Israels 1878. 1883. Students of the history of
Israel yet have not escaped its clutches, despite the
valiant efforts of W.F. Albright (1891-1971).
Late Renaissance, Enlightenment, and 19th century
scholars of Hebrew-biblical texts struggled with the
same questions posed in Early and Late Antiquity: i.e.,
dates for the creation of the world; genuine and false
ascriptions of authorship of the Pentateuch; the nature
of Israelite exodus; unexplainable supernatural occur-
rences; chronologies; dispositions of prophets and
early and late material in their writings; unraveling
numerous knots that are tied into the background of
the OT and thederivation of Jewish Wisdom literature.
Questions have changed; solutions have not varied
much. Now two editors want to provide further help.
14 essays are assembled here, initiated by the Institute
for Biblical Research. Contributors were chosen on the
basis of his or her “demonstrated expertise on the sub-
ject matter of that chapter.
Contents: ‘Preface,’ Bill T. Arnold and Richard S. Hess;
‘Introduction: Foundations for a History of Israel,
Richard S. Hess; (1) ‘The Genesis Narratives,’ Bill T.
Arnold; (2) ‘The Exodus and Wilderness Narratives,
James K. Hoffmeier; (3) ‘Covenant and Treaty in the
Hebrew Bible and in the Ancient Near East,’ Samuel
Greengus; (4) ‘Early Israel and Its Appearance in
Canaan,’ Lawson G. Stone; (5) ‘The Judges and the
Early Iron Age,’ Robert D. Miller II (6) ‘The Story of
Samuel, Saul, and David,’ Daniel Bodi; (7) ‘United
Monarchy: Archaeology and Literary Sources,’ Steven
M. Ortiz; (8) ‘The Biblical Prophets in Historiography,
James K. Mead; (9) ‘Late Tenth- and Ninth-Century
Issues: Ahab Underplayed? Jehoshaphat Overplayed?’
Kyle Greenwood; (10) ‘Eighth-Century Issues: The
World of Jeroboam II, the Fall of Samaria, and the
Reign of Hezekiah,’ Sandra Richter; (11) ‘Judah in the
Seventh Century: From theAftermath of Sennacherib's
Invasion to the Beginning of Jehoiakim's Rebellion,
Brad E. Kelle; (12) ‘Sixth-Century Issues,’ Peter van der
Veen; (13) ‘Fifth- and Fourth-Century Issues:
Governorship and Priesthood in Jerusalem,’ André
Lemaire; (14) ‘The Hellenistic Period,’ David A.
DeSilva; Indexes.
The historical ‘Introduction’ is a learned conspectus;
but the role of archaeologists’ contribution to correct
interpretations of ancient Israel in the mid-20th
century may be an exaggeration. For a thoroughgoing
investigation of how critical studies of Old
Testament texts developed, readers are encouraged to
acquire John Rogerson’s Old Testament Criticism in
the 19th Century: England and Germany, (Fortress,
Of chapter (1): The first 8 pages do not make the best
use of the readers’ time, stressing the historian’s inabil-
ity to elucidate a “history” of Genesis in the absence of
corroborating evidence. There is no exegesis of any
pericopae; the Genesis events are generalized and not
explained (e.g., ‘Ancestral Narratives,’ p.35f.) Arnold
seems fearful of resisting 200 years of scholarly
skepticism as he treats the accounts as ‘mythopoeic’
The Graf-Wellhausen Document Hypothesis Theory
controls his descriptions altogether. The Jahwist,
Elohist Deuteronomist and Priestly formulation was
on the cutting edge when formulated. It is antiquated
now and in need of re-evaluation. An original thesis on
that point could have been supplied. Varied topics are
untouched in this critical piece. Gerhard Von Rad
(1901-1971) incorrectly thought the history of Israel was
built on creedal statements. It was onceargued that the
J source had literary merit, and that much of Israel’s
traditions were adaptations of Canaanitic sources. R.H.
Pfeiffer (1892-1958) ploughed new ground while con-
ceiving a Seirite source that demarcated disparaging
remarks against Israelite tribes. Possible similarities
between Genesis 1 and Phoenician cosmogony are
(2) Hoffmeier provides a synopsis of what Israelites
believed of their own origins. His footnotes engage
some minimalist attitudes; their mind-sets, however,
have antecedents. P. Haupt (1858-1926) did not believe
the Israelites ever were in Egypt (JBL 36, 1917, pp.93-
99); Eduard Meyer (1855-1930) thought Judaism was
created during the Persian Empire (cf. Der
Papyrusfund von Elephantine, 1912). Aspects of these
positions persist to this day.
Hoffmeier reviews objections, using scripture as a reli-
able witness, he writes: “In fact these data (some of
which will be reviewed below), in my judgement,
beyond merely providing local Egyptiancolor and gen-
eral contextual material for the biblical narratives, goa
long way toward demonstrating the authenticity of the
biblical tradition” (p.49). His arguments on Israel’s
exodus, tabernacle, and their wilderness journeys are
(3) Greengus errs with his initial description of
covenant (p.91), saying it “is also used in secular con-
texts to describe relationships between human parties.
In addition, “In secular contexts it is therefore often
customary to translate the term as contract,
pact, treaty” (p.91). Philologically the word should be
defined by its usage among Jews, not its use among
Akkadians, where rulers often were representatives of
the gods or in some cases in the greater near east
deemed to be gods themselves. Greengus’ proof-texts
refute his main thesis. was not a secular word
within the Jewish community, but suggests the idea
known throughout the ancient Near East – that pacts
and treaties between individuals, also, were to be hon-
ored by eachperson as acovenant made before theface
of God(s).
(4) Israel’s appearance in Canaan is the topic of
remarks by Stone. He does believe their appearance is
materially confirmable. Of I Kg. 6:1 he says, “the fig-
ure 480 years, however, seems suspiciously round and
typologically pregnant” (p.136). The connotation of the
last two words is fuzzy. Still, Stone believes the
Merneptah Stele remains “the principal documentary
evidence outside the bible bearing on Israel’s appear-
ance in Canaan (p.142). Akin to Arnold he is diffident
on the issue of Israel’s “conquest” of Canaan. Although
Miller in the following chapter believes it to be a histor-
ical fact (p.167), Stone is unsure if the Joshua narratives
“intend to constitute a conquest” at all (p.162).
(5) Miller’s writing is thought-provoking; but if one is
constrained to point out one hermeneutical weakness,
it is this: of the historicity of events during Judges,
Miller inserts a non-sense statement. Citing Michael
Polanyi (1891-1976), he asserts “even if the narrative is
implausible, it is still possible for our imagination to
integrate the story’s incompatible elements into a
meaning—a meaning that is born and remains more
intuitive than literal but nonetheless is not merely a
subjectively personal meaning” (p.168).
The paper proceeds from the point of view that inci-
dents in Judges are not chronological but are arranged
thematically in order to answer two questions (p.166):
“How will reconstituted Israel conduct its affairs as a
people of the covenant at home in Canaan? How will
Israel be governed without a Moses or a Joshua to
exercise leadership?” Retributive theology is a defining
motif. He doubts the existence of Jewish religious
orthodoxy at that time. He is a well-informed
scholar. Essays of erudition sounding a similar
note may be had in R.D. Miller, Between Israelite
Religion and Old Testament Theology: Essays on
Archaeology, History and Hermeneutics (Peeters,
(6) Bodi takes stock of East Semitic tablets to revise
accounts of Samuel, Saul and David. He argues that
Saul and David were not really ancient kings, but trib-
al chieftains. Seemingly there is something unique
about David and Saul (p.202) “in the literature of the
ancient Near East.” He embraces the newer view
(pp.203-204) that the Throne Succession Narrative
(II Sam. 9-20; I Kg. 1-2) is not “a piece of historiog-
raphy” but was created for “serious entertainment”
(loc. cit.).
He believes “the narrative deals with rivalry between
two houses fighting for tribal supremacy” (p.204). He
follows Israel Finkelstein in his belief that the term
‘monarchy’ (in its designation of Kingship) should not
be used to describe Saul, David or Solomon (p.211),
because it sounds too European. Why not also dis-
pense with the word ‘tribe’? It may sound too African
or too Native American Indian to readers. Anyone who
is willing to examine the contexts of ‘king’ in its appli-
cation in I Samuel & II Samuel may be able to deduce if
it maintains the special denotation for which
Finkelstein argues. The use of Mari texts is ubiquitous
in this essay.
(7) Ortiz upholds the recognized kingships of Saul,
David and Solomon. He attempts to clarify two histor-
ical conclusions which he believes are incorrect: (a)
p.227, “Many students come to this period [United
Monarchy] with contemporary reconstructions that
are erroneous” [brackets mine]. (b) p.233, “biblical
scholars also erroneously assume that the temple
played a larger role in the daily life of the common
Israelite.” Scholars of later periods believed it was the
core of Jewish life. For positiveaffirmation of a temple-
centered Judaism before AD 70 see Lester Grabbe,
Judaism from Cyrus to Hadrian: Sources, History,
Synthesis, 2 vols. (Fortress, 1991), 538,585. Such a
stance is not obnoxious, and it is no different than say-
ing ‘ancient and modern Islam is a Kaaba-centered
faith.’ One must understand ritual, Quranic texts and
Meccan traditions to endorse that view, regardless of
how intense or less fervent is the faith of certain adher-
ents of particular Islamic sects.
Ortiz’s negative view may stem from recent dis-
coveries of various temple ruins just outside of
Jerusalem {see Beth A. Nakhai, paper presented in
Warsaw in 2012 at the 8th International Congress of
the Archaeology of the ancient Near East: ‘Where to
Worship? Religion in Iron II Israel and Judah,’ lately
published in N. Laneri, ed., Defining the Sacred:
Approaches to the Archaeology of Religion in the
Near East (2015)]. The daily life of an ancient
Judean/Israelite during the united monarchy turned
on the king’s role as God’s appointee. The priesthood,
and liturgy, were of obvious importance. The prophets
usually rebuked them for apathy and for the mixture of
true and false religion. At the center of either of those
spiritual conditions were a people who found the
temple imposing, and who sometimes followed divine
ordinances with a lack of interest.
(8) Mead’s article is a cogent piece, and is helpful
throughout. He is familiar enough with prophetic
material in the wider sphere of the ancient Near East.
He concludes that “Israelite prophecy shared the same
kinds of phenomena found in other ancient Near
Eastern cultures, from the titles used bysome prophets
and the types of phenomena that they experienced to
their shared speech forms and similar subject matter.
But Mead also believed “Israelite prophecy was clearly
distinctive…” (p.285).
(9) Greenwood endeavors to rehabilitate the image of
Ahab. He implies that scripture is incomplete or that it
may mislead. However, no similar accusation ever is
attributed to the Mesha Stele, to which he gives so
much uncritical attention. The discussion takes the
reader along routes which require more explanation
than he was willing to give. His article concludes by
stating “The authors of Kings and Chronicles had a
theological agenda that superseded the historical
record.” In other words, literary documents having to
do with anauthor’s God, tend tobe biased and untrust-
Question: do not ALL ancient religious inscriptions
from Mesopotamia or the north-west regions of the
Euphrates reproduce more or less the religious ideals
and excitements of their day, whether written in times
of war or peace? Can it not be said that Mesopotamian
literary expressions are foremost religious in their
character? According to Greenwood’s stance, the cor-
rect answer will render obsolete all those documents.
(10) Richter believes that theeighth century is on surer
footing. She cites Baruch Halpern who says “there is
not much doubt that the archaeological record of the
8th-6th centuries comports in almost every particular
with the general political picture that we derive from
epigraphs and the biblical record, critically regarded”
(p.320). On account of the external evidences in
reserve, Richterbelieves that “wecan approach the task
of reconstructing the eighth century with great histori-
graphic confidence” (loc. cit). But should it be said
optimistically that her essay provided that reconstruc-
tion? I believe so.
The write-up on the section ‘Samaria: Its Ostraca and
Ivories’ is informative. In a fine discussion in both text
and footnote #24 (p. 327) proposals that Jeroboam I’s
bull-calves actually were older symbols of
Jehovah/Yahweh, and not wholly idolatrous, are con-
trasted with reasonable opinions. If so much of the
biblical text is to be regarded in any way, then the edi-
tor of I Kg. 12:28 surely isof the opinion that Jeroboam’s
syncretistic form of worship was a newer form of an
older idolization seen in Aaron’s Day. Jeroboam epito-
mized the new Aaron, absent of a new Moses to deliv-
er the people.
(11) Kelle proffers an objective overview, which is no
easy and agreeable task. He is hesitant to call the bibli-
cal sources of the 7th century trustworthy. He proceeds
on the assumption that “these considerations suggest
that while historians need not assume an essentially
skeptical stance relative to the Old Testament’s presen-
tations, they must also avoid overinterpreting the bib-
lical text as though it were a historical account whose
primary purpose was to transmit historical detail”
(p.352). Apparently there are some chronological
incongruities in the regnal years of II Kings and II
And so, in the first part of his essay he deliberates on
the alleged co-regency of Manasseh, striving to settle
the issue by utilizing Assyrian royal inscriptions
(p.358). Manasseh is reported in two inscriptions
(p.360); but according to Kelle, the negative depiction
in II Kg. 21:1-9 may be inaccurate. His adoption and
implementation of paganism “may represent the cos-
mopolitan religion of a culturally integrated setting,
with the voluntary incorporation of religious elements
from various cultures and the revival of older, nonex-
clusivistic, Yahwistic practices from the time before
Hezekiah’s reforms” (p.361). Bearing in mind Deut.
17:14-20, how Manasseh’s actions can be reconciled
with the Mosaic code - i.e., ‘thou shall not have other
gods, … neither bow down to them’ - is not made clear.
(12) Van der Veen argues in favor of some sort of a con-
tinued Jewish settlement in the aftermath of the
Babylonian exile. He believes the archaeology proves it
to be so. At one time it was believed, I guess, that
people thought Jerusalem had become wholly desolat-
ed and uninhabited. He is less agitated than Hans
Barstad who claims that thealleged “Empty-Land posi-
tion” was a myth foisted on later generations by “a
small community of zealous Zion-oriented Jews who
later returned from Babylon” (p.387). The insertion of
the juglet (figure 12.3 on p.392) is hardly a clarification.
Neither the photo, nor the telling of its discovery
should be used to insinuate that there was any contin-
ued civilian occupation of the land, although the
Hebrew text Nehemiah 1:1-4 maintains this position;
quite the reverse, the dating of the juglet is an approx-
imate, and may be an artifact discarded by pilgrims
passing through the territory.
(13) Lemaire is a first-rate epigrapher, and has attained
to a position of eminence in his field. He believes that
Ezra and Nehemiah – as one book –likely were written
at the initial stage of the Hellenistic period “when the
High priests were the main Jewish authorities” (p.407).
He accepts a substantial part of the historical account
in Nehemiah, except where it is plainly stated that cer-
tain reforms are attributable to him. Lemaire claims:
“This may suggest that the chapter[13] was reworked in
a final redaction” [brackets mine], p.410. Or, it may not
suggest that at all and actually may be a historical
report of the restructuring which occurred under his
leadership. That is one good reason to assign the
improvements to Nehemiah. Lemaire’s position is not
original, recurring to C.C. Torrey’s (1863-1956) views
of a century ago. Torrey mistrusted large parts of the
transmitted texts, and through his ingenuity found
Ezra 1-2 had lost material, which he ultimately could
not reconstruct, further he found that Ezra 7 and
Nehemiah 8-10 were indefensible.
Lemaire’s disputation of the present state of (or bibli-
cal presentation of) Ezra/Nehemiah as contemporaries
(pp.416-417) is mystifying; and there is no evidence for
his supposition that Alexander the Great (356BC-
323BC) perhaps promoted priests to prominence and
dispensed with the role of local governors in the lands
he conquered (p.425). As a matter of historical fact,
occasional rule or empowerment of priests in Ancient
Israel has no connection to the movements of
Alexander the Great. Alexander was a deeply religious
man. He was ambivalent toward foreign, religious
priests. However, he appointed satraps to rule in his
absence: cf. pp.213-214 of Peter Brunt (1917-2005), ‘The
Aims of Alexander’ in Greece and Rome, 2nd Series,
Vol. 12., No. 2 (Oct., 1965), pp.205-215.
(14) DeSilva’s masterly paper I deem the best historical
survey piece in the whole book, although it is mis-
named: it treatsof mainlyHellenistic Palestine and not
of the wider realms of cultures in the Hellenic world
that the title implies. There is very little critical discus-
Some details: on p.30 Arnold says “history begins with the
invention of writing.” Untrue. History begins with the
recording and transmission of information. This testimony
and its transfer may be oral and/or written. He is following in
the footsteps of Robert Miller’s 2011 book Oral Tradition in
Ancient Israel (cf. fn. 25). In relation to Noah’s account of the
flood, Arnold claims “we have remarkably close parallels in
the famous Gilgamesh epic” (p.33). He fails to notify the
reader that the dissimilarities far outnumber the similarities.
The dissonance between the two accounts rankle any sem-
blance of concord. Also the text of Gilgamesh (Tablet XI)
contains numerous expansions of detail in its flood account.
Generally, in textual criticism or in the reconstruction of
ancient readings, the usual manner of a scribe, when there
was an appeal to augmentation, was to inflate the original
text, not to contract it. Gilgamesh’s literary inscription sig-
nals the existence of a more remote, ancient source. There is
no evidence to prove or to refute the possibility that its
account derives from an orally composed narrative, now
recorded in Genesis, the Jewish book of origins. On page 134:
there are many academic articles on the Greek text of
Homeric epic and its uses that are of authoritative quality
rather than E. Yamauchi, ‘Historic Homer’ from the Biblical
Archaeology Review. [E.g., see the publications of Hellenic
scholars M.L. West (1937-2015), G. Nagy or R. Janko].
P.257, Ortiz says “We have no archaeological evidence of
Herod’s temple, but no scholar seriously doubts its exis-
tence.” Serious scholars also would know that the archaeolog-
ical evidence for Herod’s Temple is not too hard to find: e.g.,
a temple warning inscription was found in 1871. See H.M.
Cotton, et al., Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae Part
1, (2010), p.42f; but see alsothe work of HerodianTemple spe-
cialist and archaeological architect Leen Ritmeierat www.rit- He has also found archaeological support for
Solomon’sTemple, a verification that Ortiz, too, denies exists
for Solomon’s Temple (loc. cit).
P.313, Greenwood writes: “Using both radiocarbon and iso-
tope dating methods, Thomas Levy and Mohammad Najjar
have confirmed ‘that during the mid-ninth century BCE, the
gatehouse and probably the fortress ceased to have a military
function, but they were part of large-scale metal production
activities at thesite.’” The confirmation regarding the fortress
is contested by their use of the word “probably.” P.317,
Greenwood rejects the scriptural data on the Omride
dynasty, saying: “The extrabiblical evidence, however, paints
a different picture.” This idea does not hold true. Scripture
concerns itself principally with their bad deeds (or moral fail-
ures), not their building accomplishments and repairs; the
Tel Dan and Mesha inscriptions render conclusions which
predominantly treat of the latter and of their conquests.
P.448, DeSilva referred to “Pompey, the triumvir charged
with eastern affairs…. This is an incorrect ascription. It iswell
known that Pompey (106BC-48BC) was never a triumvir.
Pompey was part of a conspiratio, a combination of three
strong men who sought to control the Roman state, albeit it
lacked formal recognition. The real triumvirate of 43BC (sev-
eral years after Pompey’sdeath) consisted of Octavian (63BC-
AD14), Mark Antony (83BC-30BC) and Marcus A. Lepidus (c.
88BC-12BC?). See E. Badian (1925-2011), ‘M. Lepidus and the
Second Triumvirate’ in Arctos, Vol. XXV, (1991), pp.5-16.
There is further work to do. Could not specialists be found to
integrate critical discussions of Esther, Job, Proverbs, Song of
Solomon, Ecclesiastes and Joel and Zephaniah? Facets of each
book’s context and content illuminate aspects of several of
the periods addressed. For this volume to be of value to grad-
uate students, it must speak to issues of the most technical
nature. Hebrew prosody and metric in the Psalms also is
overlooked; one needs to know in a book on ‘Issues and
Sources’ whether or not the superscriptions to individual
psalms are authentic; even if some English translations omit
them, all extant Hebrew MSS containing Psalms retain spe-
cific, descriptive captions (cf. B. Waltke, ‘Superscripts,
Postscripts or Both’ JBL, Vol. 110, No. 4 (Winter, 1991), pp.
583-596. Moreover can it be demonstrated that there is any
correspondence between Hebrew poetic meter and the
Sanskrit arya meter? Samuel Terrien’s (1911-2002) critical
edition of Psalms for Eerdmans is helpful; Michael V. Fox
tw0-volume Proverbs for the Anchor/Yale series warrants
attention. Comparativistsare obliged topursue these matters
even further, e.g. with Bendt Alster, Sumerian Proverbs in the
Schoyen Collection (Cornell, 2007) nearby.
After so many years, and despite substantive literature in
abundance, M.H. Pope’s contribution (1916-1997) to the texts
of Job and Song of Solomon retains its value as a standard-
bearer. So much in this volume is missing. All the research in
Ancient Israel’s History: An Introduction to Issues and
Sources can be found in standard one-volume Bible com-
mentaries. Far more comprehensive discussions are available
in critical, single-volumes of each period (e.g., Cambridge
Ancient History series) or in special editions of biblical
In Ancient Israel’s History there is blatant mistrust of
biblical records: several writers assume that the
ancient Jewish writers were biased, unable to be freed
from subtle prejudices which evidently pose no threat
to modern interpreters; Ugaritic, which once was a
mainstay in Old Testament comparative studies, in
this book has been replaced with the Mari. This partly
explains why the former is absent from the subject
index and the latter is present. This is not new. Mitchell
Dahood (1922-1982) mischaracterized the Psalms in
numerous places through three volumes (1966-1970)
using Ugaritic without adequate controls. So did
Alfred Haldar (1907-1986) in his Studies in the Book of
Nahum (1949), whose genius was not often misplaced,
yet he misconstrued Nahum’s text by way of Sumerian,
Akkadian and Ugaritic. It is not often that one encoun-
ters so many images of questionable provenience in a
biblical resourcevolume for laymen: the figures appear
regularly in Peter Van Der Veen’s article. What of the
possibility of including fraudulent relics? This isa text-
book of Higher Criticism; but the inclusion of a
lengthy article on Lower Criticism is what is necessary
to found all the claims made above in a book entitled
Ancient Israel’s History.
There is the assumption that archaeology must con-
firm biblical narratives in order for those narratives to
be true. That assumption bears the weight of the
majority of propositions set forth in this volume. This
deduction is not without its problems, and this situa-
tion clearly is acknowledged by Hoffmeier (specifically
in regard to Exodus) on page 48. Maybe the night is too
far spent to sound an alarm about these matters. But
one hope is that other experts, e.g., cuneiformists, with
better lamps at the readers’ feet will help guide them
along these pathways. All told, these impressions call
to my mind I.M. Diakonoff’s (1915-1999) observation:
“One might notice that in the field of history many an
Assyriologist is ready to accept theories and hypothe-
ses based on such slenderfoundations of facts – and, at
that, of facts so feebly interconnected – that they
would certainly be rejected by their authors them-
selves, had these theories been referred to the field of
philology”, cf. his paper ‘On the Structure of Old
Babylonian Society’ in H. Klengel (ed.) Beiträge zur
sozialen struktur der alten Vorderasien, (Berlin, 1971),
p.25 n.3. His remark applies to Professors in conserva-
tive and liberal seminaries, and in departments of
divinity and religion.
Doubtless the archaeologist of Syro-Palestine lands
will not need this volume; what will be made of it by
trainees for divinevocations I do not know, but there is
critical matter and much more besides that they may
take on trust with them into their respective fields of
service. Historians of other disciplines may find the
discordances all very interesting. The book commands
respect. The quibbles above, such as they are, do not
diminish its introductory value. For many people, tra-
ditional interpretations of the Hebrew Bible remain
unshaken. Unlike traditional reflections, critical
thought, when it is applied to the Old Testament, con-
cerns itself with perennial problems, to which no
definitive solution ever can be given.
Seyyed Hossein Nasr, editor-in-chief, et al.,
The Study Quran:
A New Translation and Commentary.
HarperCollins (2015). Pp. lix, 1988.
ISBN 978 0 06 112586 7. $59.99 (hb).
It is believed within the Islamic Ummah that the
Quran was written over a period of 23 years. Followers
of Muhammad (c. AD570-632) memorized large pro-
portions of his revelations. Some of these supporters
died during the Battle of Yamama (AD632). To pre-
serve the recitations, Abu Bakr (c.AD573-634) directed
those who had committed the readings to memory to
write them down. Later they were collated: one stan-
dard text, the Uthman Codex, emerged from this
process, and was disseminated. In a simplified way,
that essentially is the accepted story of the Quran’s
transmission. Both Theodor Noldeke (1836-1930) and
Albrecht Noth (1937-1999) proved that other theses of
transmission, too, were plausible. Their contributions
were seminal - Geschichte des Qorâns (1860) and The
Early Arabic Historical Tradition: A Source Critical
Study (1994)6respectively – even pivotal to historical
and textual studies. None of the gains made over the
last century are visible in these pages. Customary
Islamic narratives go unchallenged; the divine author-
ity of scripture is respected.
6 This volume is a translation and expansion of Noth’s 1973 volume Quellenkritische Studien zu Themen, Formen und Tendenzen Frühislamischer
The Quran made its appearance in Latin in the year
1143. With that event inToledo, the gates of interpreta-
tion were thrown open. And ever since then persons of
exceptional and unexceptional abilities have delved
into its Arabic text. The attacks have been relentless.
Multitudes of westerners wrestled with idioms of east-
ern origin, only to be bested by them. Aside from the
publications of M. M. Pickthall (1875-1936) and A.J.
Arberry (1905-1969) inter alia, translations of the
Quran have not been remarkable. Every decade or so a
new translation is published, which then is hailed as
the solution to common non-Muslim misinterpreta-
tions. Clarifications certainly are needed. The Study
Quran: A New Translation and Commentary (hereafter
TSQ) is the latest literary invention.
It is likely that the value of TSQ will be long-lasting.
The translation will attract the learned world. Rightly
used it is a unique tool. Edited by western-directed
Muslim scholars it proposes to apprise readers of the
beauty of the language of Islam’s most holy text, and to
provide a truer rendition of Quranic surahs (p.xlii),
and ‘to take a step toward transforming English into
“an Islamic language”’ (p.xlvii). Those propositions are
not unreasonable. The labor was divided equally
between the editors. Dr. Nasr, as chief editor, assumes
the responsibility for TSQ’s arrangement and final
wording. There are several historical essays (pp.1587-
1855) which have practical importance, and are written
mainly by persons thoroughly familiar with their topic.
Every one of them is splendid in his or her pursuit of
meaning. Two papers stand out: a paper by J-L Michon
(1924-2013) on Islamic art (p.1751f.) is of majestic qual-
ity, and a superb one by H. Yusuf (p.1819f.), a survey of
how death is understood in Islam. Each surah is pre-
ceded by detailed introductory matter culled from
early oral testimonies. TSQ lacks the Arabic text; and
for that reason will not be deemed by those who are
familiar with Islamic traditions in the Middle East to
be a proper “Quran” / “Recitation” in that word’s
descriptive sense.
Through the years study-Qurans in English have been
issued by a variety of Islamic sects.7TSQ seemingly is
impartial in its composition and scope. However, sev-
eral essay writers largely direct their attention toward
the hermeneutical interests of Sufi mysticism or more
particularly to Irfan, ‘Gnosis’ (e.g., xxxix). Even though
the Quran is the basis of all Islamic science, this is not
a critical edition; neither the notes nor the essays con-
tribute original insights to textual specimens or to his-
torical incongruities. Deference to traditional opin-
ions, but in one specific case post-modern considera-
tions (see Questions and Concerns below), isprevalent.
Since readers of TSQ are unable to benefit from the use
of critical editions of commentaries in its pages, an edi-
tion with some critical evaluations even now is prefer-
able. When compared to the scientific research made
public for the community of Christians in The
HarperCollins Study Bible (2006), the dissimilarity is
Nine years in the making, TSQ falls within the same
category of other ‘popular’ English editions of the
Quran known to scholars and students of Islam. One
contested opinion is maintained here: the conviction
of generations of believers who believe that the Arabic
of the Quran cannot be rendered accurately ever in any
language (cf.;1606). The notes are encyclopedic,
containing a compendium of citations from more than
40 Islamic commentaries: biographies of the commen-
tators are provided (pp.1919-1930).
Brilliant notes often exceed ½ or 2/3 thirds of the page.
With so many of them, attention to academicdecorum
might have fostered a desire for exact paginal citations
of statements, rather than the mere insertion of an
abbreviation to signify the commentary from which
the quotation is drawn; ahadiths (collections of oral
reports) are placed in an appendix (pp.1862-1906). This
is unusual. Typically they are kept separate from the
text in order to prevent students from attributing to
them a similar inspiration that is entrusted to the text
of the Quran.
Sometimes the translation employs archaisms, e.g., the
use of ‘wert’, ‘callest’ or ‘thee’ and ‘haply’ et. al. At other
times there was a necessity for a good English stylist
because the language is rather unnatural: e.g., Sur.
“God has sent down the most beautiful discourse, a
Book consimilar, paired, whereat quivers the skin of
those who fear the Lord.
Taking Surah 112 as another example, the capitalization
and punctuation of verse 1 is overdone: TSQ text has,
‘Say, “He, God, is One,..”’. Would it not be no less exact
– and better in English – to render the Arabic “say God,
he is one,…”? Moreover the prominent CAPS of
pronominal and adjectival descriptions of Muhammad
and Allah are rather off-putting (see p.xlviii, Various
Stylistic and Technical Points), and they are inconsis-
tently used: e.g., Sur. 32:23-24, “.. a guide for the
7 E.g., see ed., Maulana M. Ali, The Holy Quran: With English Translation and Commentary (1917, rev. 1951); ed., Abdullah A. Ali, The Quran: Text,
Translation and Commentary (1934); edd., H.M.M. Pooya Yazdi and S.V. Mir Ahmed Ali, The Holy Quran: Text, Translation and Commentary (20044);
and ed., M. Asad, The Message of the Qur’an (rep. 2003).
Children of Israel. And We appointed leaders… who
guided by Our Command…. Again at 48:15-16, “Those
who stayed behind will say when you set out to capture
spoils, “Let us follow you.” They desire to change the
Word of God. Say, “You will not follow us; thus has God
said before.” Then they will say, Nay, but you are jeal-
ous of us.” Nay, but they….. Say to the Bedouin…. Or
Sur. 63:11b, “And God is Aware of whatsoever you do.
Surah 96:1-5 is the fruit of an earnest desire on
Muhammad’s part to draw nigh to deity, and it is the
earliest Muhammadan revelation. Mankind’s creation
from blood was not original to Islam, but is likely to
have been borrowed from Babylonian myth: see
Enuma Elish Tablet VI.33, ‘with his blood they created
mankind.’ The Arabic vulgate is not immune from the
need for emendation. Afew analytical remarks are pro-
vided for future editors of a critical text and/or English
translation. The Arabic text has
TSQ translates:
(1) Recite in the Name of thy Lord Who created,
(2) created man from a blood clot.
(3) Recite! Thy Lord is most noble,
(4) Who taught by the Pen,
(5) Taught man that which he knew not.
Reiteration is not uncommon in ancient Semitic lan-
guages or in this Arabic text; verse one terminates with
and verse two commences with the same word. It
looks as if it is an issue of scribal reduplication.
Something similar is apparent in verse four and five
with the use of the word The text is not beyond
repair. The vowels assigned to each are replicated
exactly in both. Delete the second and omit the
first and a smoother rendition presents itself.
Translate as:
(1) Read aloud in the name of the Lord who
(2) made man from an embryo of blood.
(3) Read aloud, for your Lord is the noblest one
(4) Who by the pen
(5) Taught man what he did not know.
As well, in a transliterated form, its poetic features are
patent. By placing the verse in two strophes a rhythmic
system becomes manifest. [underlining below is mine]
(1) iqra’ bismi rabbak
(2) lladhii khalaq
(3) l-insaan min ‘alaq
(4) iqra warabbuka l-akram
(5) lladhii bil-qalam
(6) ‘allama l-insaana maa lam ya’lam
In this English edition of TSQ, the poetic beauty of the
Arabic text often is displaced, and the displacement
incites surprise and dismay. At 2:255 - a very popular
verse - one wonders, why is rendered in-
correctly as ‘Pedestal’ and not correctly as ‘throne’? The
use of pedestal misinforms, and readers well may think
of a plinth or podium. Atsurah 100: 1 TSQ reads “By the
panting chargers”. Although “chargers” is fashionable
in several English translations, “warhorses” would be
more precise for the context of men-at-arms. In the
notes for 9:5, the so-called sword verse receives fair
treatment. And excellent statements regarding how
Islamic authorities interpreted and applied this verse
may be found. On the other hand, in the article,
‘Conquest and Conversion, War and Peace in the
Quran’ (pp. 1805-1817), the author is at odds with his
own evidences, and struggles to explain whether or not
early Muslims indiscriminately assaulted innocent
people during the dispersion of the religion of Islam
across Arabia. His assertion that the attacks were pri-
marily defensive and his explanations of ‘Jihad’ and
‘Coercion’ will not persuade all readers.
Questions and Concerns: (p.xl) the TSQ was supposed to
complement The HarperCollins Study Bible. When
approached, Seyyed H. Nasr accepted the chief editor’s role
on the condition that “this would be a Muslim effort… it
would not be determined or guided by assertions presented
by non-Muslim Western scholars and Orientalists who have
studied the Quran profusely as a historical, linguistic, or
sociological document, or even a text of religious signifi-
cance, but do not accept it as the Word of God and an
authentic revelation”(italics his). That mind-set is open to
reproach: people might view his attitude as one of prejudice
and emotion. The invitees should not have accepted hiscon-
ditions. The meaning is this: the very bestof current Quranic
criticism (eg., ‘Post-Enlightenment Academic Study of the
Qur'an’, IV, pp. 187–208, byMarco Schöller involume 4 of J.D.
McAuliffe, The Encyclopedia of the Quran (2009) was set
aside in order toensure homogeneity. Should not this proce-
dure be allowed to “Christians” also in the revision of the
next critical edition of the HarperCollins Study Bible? I doubt
that it should be.
(p.xlii): was the Quran first issued in Latin in the eleventh
century? – I believe Peter the Venerable’s translation was
published in the twelfth century. (p.1588): is it really true
when Ingrid Mattson claims that it is only “the minority of
Muslims who apply a narrow ‘fundamentalist’ hermeneutic
to the Quran”? Is notthe real minority those personswho do
not apply that hermeneutic and who live in the west or are
western-oriented in their interpretation of Islamic texts?
(p.1614): is M.M. Al-Azami correct in assuming that Abu Bakr
“was chosen by the majority of Companions as the Leader of
the burgeoning Muslim community”? Shiites will disagree
with him. (pp.1696-7): Ahmed M. Al Tayyib (the former
Grand Mufti of Egypt, and now the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar)
wrote on the ‘The Quran as Source of Islamic Law’. In his dis-
cussion he cites 42:13, 45:18 and 2:229-30, and in the midst of
elucidating the all-encompassing nature of Islamic Law, he
“The Quran thus contains explicitstatements that it is the
sacred source and primary authority for Muslim legisla-
tion in personal, social, economic, and political matters
– and no change of time or place can affect this primacy.
Nowhere does the Quran indicate—whether directly or
indirectly—that its lawsare of limited duration, that they
belong to a particular period, age, or society, that Muslims
may thereafter deem themselves no longer bound by its
precepts, or that they may choose to organize their lives
or societies by resorting to other than the revealed Book
of the Prophetic authority in founding their common
laws and establishing their familial, social, economic and
constitutional orders.
The above paragraph should be read slowly because it has
implications, if ever implemented, for citizens in nations not
currently governed by Islamic precept (for a critical view of
Sharia law and of the inherent contradiction in the terms
‘modern Islamic state’ see, Wael B. Hallaq, The Impossible
State: Islam, Politics, and Modernity’s Moral Predicament
(Cambridge, 2013). And although it may be a mischaracteri-
zation, it would be understandable, given certain statements
printed in TSQ, if a few readers suppose some statements in
this edition of the Quran to be stringent or immoderate. In
Joseph Lumbard’s paper The Quranic View of Sacred History
and Other Religions’ offers a scholar’s version of Islamic
teaching. The essay contains inaccuracies of great import:
e.g., (p.1769) Muhammad is known to be the final revelation
of God, the seal of the prophets. The term ‘Islam,’ denotes
‘submission’ and refers to one’s complete compliance to
Islamic ideals. But Lumbard would have readers believe the
Quran teaches that Jews, Christians and Sabeans will be rec-
ompensed in positiveways on the Day of Judgment. Are such
rewards plausible for either of them after having denied and
disclaimed the prophet-hood of Muhammad during their
earthly existence?
(p.1779): alluding to Jesus’ divine power, Lumbard cited sur.
5:110 which is derived from the apocryphal text, The Gospel of
Thomas. After which he expresses his doubts regarding
whether the Quran actually condemns Christian Trinitarian
doctrine (he seems unawareof the opposing voice in the first
sentence of TSQ’s notes to 4:157 or to 5:73 where the latter has
…this verse criticizes the Christian doctrine of the Trinity”).
Lumbard does not follow the plain grammatical sense: he
reinterprets said verse, stating plainly “Viewed in this light
5:73 does not oppose the various forms of orthodox
Trinitarian doctrines that have prevailed for most of
Christian history.” Incredible! Islam deplores any form of
shirk, ‘the worship of others along with Allah.’ Surah 4:48
reports that shirk is an unforgivable sin (cf. Sur. 9:31; 29:65).
[In one hadith of Sahih Al-Bukari (4/3334) on this verse the
inference to be drawn is that those who do so will be sen-
tenced to hellfire.] However, the heart of Trinitarian theolo-
gy is the doctrine of Jesus’ Sonship – that he is co-equal to
God the Fatherand God the Holy Spirit, which is emphatical-
ly repudiated by orthodox Islamic belief.
Further, Lumbard writes (p.1780) that “The fundamental dif-
ference between the Islamic and Christian understandings of
Jesus is that Islam follows the Quran in always seeking to
reaffirm the transcendence of the Divine by focusing upon
Jesus’ humanity, whereas traditional Christian theology pre-
supposes his divinity, while confirming his humanity.” That is
an understatement. The ‘fundamental difference’ is that in
Islam Jesus is highly regarded purely as a prophet and messi-
ah, but in Christianity Jesuswas believed to bethe pre-incar-
nate God-made-flesh, one who died ona cross vicariously for
man’ssin, and was resurrected from the dead to justify those
who believe on him. Muslims believe he was raised unto God
(Sur. 4:158 as cited by the author), but the previous verse in
Arabic clearly denies Christ’s crucifixion and death, and
when upraised to heaven he could not conceivably have been
divine. Christians affirm that Jesus was exalted to the right
hand of his heavenly father, from which place he came to
earth. Lumbard’s views are speculative; and they do not con-
vey authentic Islamic teaching. (p.1794): would not devout
Muslims whowere reared in non-western nations, (i.e., Saudi
Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Morocco, etc.), and whose lives are regu-
lated by ShariaLaw, disagree with Maria M. Dakake’s qualify-
ing statement that “men certainly do not enjoy absolute,
complete or unconditional rights in relation to their wives
and children?” – seeing that Al Nisa 34 is cited.
The reviewer has fond memories of reading Islamic
jurisprudential texts at theuniversity library in Jeddah,
Saudi Arabia, and of poring over the Arabic text of the
Quran as a young man in classrooms of Amman,
Jordan. Comparing its verses to the Holy Bible in
Arabic, and giving particular attention to Syriac
Church fathers, was one of the ways by which he occu-
pied his time. Philological rigor, combined with liter-
ary insight, yields fresh interpretations: so wide an
experience of Arabic literature is necessary to cri-
tiquing this book. The editors of TSQ have made a vig-
orous and indefatigable effortevaluating Islamic mate-
rials. It is filled with new and creative ways to read old
texts (p.1659f.). Fair-minded academics may lament
the uncritical tenor of a comprehensive study-volume,
in which writers fail to challenge or even to treat with
caution anyof Islam’s fondest preconceptions, but they
will be grateful for the recording and transmission of
so many historical details.
This beautiful book is bound between black hard-cov-
ers, wrapped in a dark blue dust jacket. The Islamic
cover-art embossed on the front is attractive; a few of
the comments on the back-cover offer unstinted
approbation. The pages are thin and crease easily.
There is a fine index (pp.1931-1988). Eight very helpful
maps conclude thevolume. The publication of TSQ is a
notable achievement. Its purchase should bedesirable,
if not for the translation, just for the extensive notes.
Give Due Regard to
Ernst Würthwein (1909-1996),
The Text of the Old Testament:
An Introduction to the Biblia Hebraica;
revised and expanded by Alexander Achilles Fischer,
(3rd ed., Eerdmans, 2014). Pp. xix, 343.
ISBN 978 0 8028 6680 6. $30.00. (pb).
It is no longer the fashion in academia to refer to
Assyriologists, Egyptologists and Semitists as
Orientalists. Despite the augmentation of specialism
in thesesubjects in recent times, inan earlier phasethe
foundations of their training had one similarity: one
century and a half ago the Higher Critical studies of so-
called oriental texts also encompassed the study of the
Hebrew Old Testament. Few scholars, at that time,
advanced critical scholarship of Biblia Hebraica with
the vigor employed by Paul E. Kahle (1875-1965). His
forceful researches prompted the replacement of Jacob
ben Chayyim’s (1470-c.1538) Rabbinic Bible text (1524-
25) with the Leningrad codex (c.1008 AD), the oldest
dated MS, allegedlycopied from MSS written by Moses
Ben Asher (died c.960 AD).8Later, the rediscovery of
the Aleppo MS, and the fortuitous detection of the
Qumran MSS, would lead to modifications in scholar-
ly description of the diffusion of biblical Hebrew texts.
Differences in the Babylonian (pp.240-2) and Tiberian
systems (pp.26-30) of pointing, along with Palestinian
systems (p.244) were obvious when the Cairo Geniza
fragments became available.
Ernst Würthwein’s introduction receives an overdue
makeover in this new edition. The supersession of the
old version now is complete. First appearing in 1952 as
Der Text des Alten Testaments, it went through five edi-
tions up to 1988. Würthwein’s genius was visible, and it
was much exalted above the common rank and file of
editors. Times have changed; new, but splendid mate-
rial has come to light. On account of this, A.A. Fischer
(hereafter: AAF.) says “the text has been completely
rewritten, with a new chapter added on the texts from
Qumran” (p.xi). Textual criticism is foundational to
translation work. AAF.’s expert acquaintance with writ-
ings of commentators on Old Testament readings is
estimable; his execution of the procedures of textual
criticism raises questions.
The book’s subtitle is ambiguous. It is unclear at the
outset whether the reader will be initiated into wide-
ranging investigations of the Old Testament or if one
will gain exact knowledge of how to interpret the
apparatus of Biblia Hebraica [i.e., Kittel’s (BHK) Stutt-
gartensia (BHS) or Quinta (BHQ)], with all its abbrevi-
ations, symbols and Masoretic variants. As is the case,
all the above is included, especially the promotion of
the scholarship presently carried out by editors of
In the opening pages, the crux on Isa. 21:8 (p.xvii) is
taken into account. AAF. alters the paradosis because
he is displeased with the Hebrew subtext, rendered in
English: “he cries out, a lion”. The dislike of a reading is
not the only sufficient grounds for suspecting scribal
alteration. I share his feeling that there may be an
interpretative problem. He seems to misread the tense
of the Hebrew, preferring the Greek version [act. ind.]
heading the page. Since he believed the editors of the
Septuagint were unsure of how to treat the ‘lion’ issue,
he appeals to an interesting comparandum, to the
Isaiah scroll of Qumran to substantiate an alteration.
This revision is done devoid of critical discussion on
why the Isaiah scroll reads “seer” or why it is a better
text than the Septuagint or Masoretic variant. So
explained, it is doubtful to me that a scribal error
exists; the ‘alterego’ theory of his is incapable of proof.
Moreover AAF. bolsters the impression that the condi-
tions for performing criticism on Old Testament and
New Testament ancient texts differ (p.xix) the one
from the other. However, neither of them is atvariance
with the type of demanding criticism that also is nec-
essary for establishing the textsof classical documents.
It is distressing to withdraw from the confines of clas-
sical studies of Greek and Roman documents to text-
critical forays (pp.189-203) where biblical editors
remain straight-jacketed by critical principles crafted
two centuries ago. The genius of the critic should be
unrestricted. It need not be hampered for all time by
the brilliance of those persons who were asking differ-
ent questions at a different time. And considering his
instigation of objections he tendered at Isa. 21:8 why
should he write in footnote 14 page 194, “…Text critical
decisions should not becorrected in retrospect if liter-
ary criticism or the history of redaction finds them
awkward or inconvenient.”?
Millions of people believe the traditional Hebrew text
to be unfailing; millions of others rely first and fore-
most on critical editions of Hebrew Scriptures. The use
of all of them may seem extraordinary. AAF. burdens
himself with the notion that “it is impossible simply to
rely on the Masoretic text from a sense of (false)
respect for the Bible.” That is an oddly worded propos-
al when he holds unconcealed respect for the Qumran
scrolls, and it is to devotees of the Holy Bible that
Eerdmans is marketing this textbook. In truth all MSS
must be adjudged, respected somewhat, and diligently
8 Cf. Bleddyn J. Roberts, The Hebrew Bible since 1937, JOTS, Vol. 15, No. 2, (1964), 253-262.
compared. If a MS is of no value, and must be scorned
or snubbed, then there is little need to cite it.
On pages 195-198, hissuggestions on II Sam 6:3-4 seem
to me obtrusive. Of he writes:
“to begin with, theadjective “new” in the second
instance at theend of v.3b should have the definite arti-
cle, because it qualifies a noun with a definite article.”
He believes that the clause in v. 4 “by the ark of God…
does not connect smoothly with the preceding phrase…
because the ark of God has already been identified as
the object of the verb by the 3rd person masculine suf-
fix.” However, in the clause - “they brought it out”-
(v.4), ‘it’ also may be taken torefer to the cart itself, and
not specifically to the ark. Moreover ç ãù need not be
admitted as a type of dittography, and it need not take
a definite article if here we have a literary device, one of
elision: i.e., if it wasthe intention of the authorthat the
final sound of the vowel-syllable of ÂâÈìÈä elide and
pose as the homonymic but definite article äÈ which
was omitted in the following word. Anomalies aside,
the reading reflects a stageof medieval transmission in
which exemption was given to this usage; the Masorah
is silent. A worst case scenario is to place the word
between obeli.
There is much to acclaim in this revision. The histori-
cal work to a great extent is better than the criticism of
texts. Chapter 1, ‘Language, Script, and Writing
Materials’ is exceptional and well written, offering a
bird’s-eye view of the history of Hebrew language and
the writing of it; chapter 2, on ‘The Masoretic Text’ is
encyclopedic and critical in its approach to the alleged
authority of “the Council of Jamnia”, but the possible
idea of Islamic inf luence on Jewish writers of the
Babylonian Talmud proves false whenone realizes that
the enlargement of Quranic readings occurred at a
stage when the Talmud already was completed.
Chapter 3, ‘The Qumran Scrolls’, affirms the demoli-
tion of the consensus of the Qumran hypothesis. The
unfinished collapse of the theory during the final years
of Frank Moore Cross (1921-2012) did not diminish his
reputation. Norman Golb, one of several vocal oppo-
nents of the theory, goes unmentioned. Who wrote the
scrolls, and to whom they belonged remains unknown.
They were not passed down thruantiquity by any iden-
tifiable Jewish sect; neither Palestinian rabbis nor do
the texts of Pseudepigrapha or early Church Fathers
cite comparable readings. There is a fine list of MSS
from the Qumran caves (table 5) on page 63; but so-
called Dead Sea Scrolls’ readings are accepted uncriti-
cally throughout the volume.
Chapter 4, ‘The Samaritan Text’, he disapproves of the
use of the term “schism” to describe the
Jewish/Samaritan separation, assuming the term to be
derogatory in the sense that inchurch history it is used
to denoteone group’s orthodoxyand the others’ hereti-
cal beliefs (p.81). But is not that the idea that was
assumed and is yetcurrent among the orthodox believ-
ers of each of these sects? Chapter 5, ‘The Septuagint’
gives dependable coverage; chapter 6, ‘Other
Translations’, admits the oral and literary use of
Aramaic and Greek in Jesus day, but assumes that
Hebrew was only a written language (p.130): “the
population at large no longer understood it.” This
opinion persists in 21st century critical circles, and it
will continue to be accepted if users of this ‘Intro’ find
that statement credible.
There was more to say about Coptic, Ethiopic,
Armenian and Arabic texts. Extended quotations of
competent scholars whose mastery of each recension
was/is deep would have sheltered students from some
misleading historical assertions. Of the final sections
on ‘Textual Criticism’ the remarks above give my gen-
eral impression. Pages 208-303 set forth numerous
plates, which may be used for profit, and are accompa-
nied by a compendium of remarks. This volume is a
treasure trove of data. Differences of opinion listed
above should not be permitted to eclipse my admira-
tion for this work of scholarship. It represents some of
the best of the Teutonic biblical tradition. The German
Bible Society is doing pioneer work. It is innovative,
but built, I believe, on an insecure theoretical basis.
Although it is not my belief that it is possible to recov-
er the earliest form of the ancient Jews’ Hebrew Bible
from a critical edition, readers will find delight in the
various ways certain verses were construed through
millennia, and they will possess fully the distinct out-
lines of modern, German biblical criticism.
Errata: on page 80, read “Assyrian province of
Samaria…” as opposed to “… of Samarina....
De Re Libraria
Deborah Lyons & Kurt Raaflaub, edd.,
Ex Oriente Lex: Near Eastern Influences on
Ancient Greek & Roman Law
by Raymond Westbrook. Johns Hopkins (2015). Pp.
xx, 264. ISBN 978 1 4214 1467 6. $59.95 (hb).
In the last half-century ancient historians have shown
convincingly that the cultural tapestry of ancient
Hellenic peoples was interlaced with Anatolian,
Egyptian, and Mesopotamian materials. Such connec-
tions must remain hidden to researchers who lack a
comprehensive knowledge of classical Greek literature,
north-east African sacred writing, south-west Asian
languages, and Sumerian idiom and north-west
Semitic dialects.9Few persons can control all these
Raymond Westbrook (1940-2009) stood in the first
rank of American Assyriologists whose expertise even-
ly encompassed ancient Greek and Roman legal texts,
and juridical rules extant in cuneiform tablets.
Through his researches of the latter he developed a
thesis, unacceptable to most classicists, but for the
most part favorably reviewed by scholars of post-mod-
ern, literary disciplines: “that ancient Near Eastern law
was relevant, even essential, for the understanding of
Greek and Roman law” (p.x). So goes the Westbrook
hypothesis. The book consists of twelve papers: all but
one, chapter 4: ‘Barbarians at the Gates: Near Eastern
Law in Ancient Greece’, werepreviously published: sev-
eral of them appeared in volume one of the two-vol-
ume publication Law from Tigris to the Tiber: The
Writings of Raymond Westbrook, edd., Bruce Wells and
F. Rachel Magdalene, (Eisenbrauns, 2009).
Two papers deserve notice. Chapter 3: ‘Drakon’s
Homicide Law’ takes up a transcription of a Greek text,
composed on a stele authorized by Athenian officials
(c. 409/408 BC). The authoradopts a problem: why the
wording of the law-code begins with a copula, kai.
Westbrook takes the conjunction “to be a simple con-
nective, which means that there was a provision that
preceded the law on unintentional homicide in the
original document and that provision was omitted in
the extant copy, for good reason” (p.47).
Chapter 11, ‘Reflections on the Law of Homicide in the
Ancient World’ provides a resourceful analysis (pp.196-
200) of the Akkadian term mar awilim, son of a man.
He gives five reasons why it ‘has to be translated consis-
tently as “son of a man” throughout.’ The range and
profundity of the two aforementioned essays is impres-
sive. He frequently employs Hebrew Bible law-code
texts, without bringing into disrepute theScriptures or
his scholarship. Chapter 12: ‘The Early History of Law:
A Theoretical Essay’, establishes principally the
Westbrook hypothesis. In reality, each of the other
papers is an extended footnote to historical claims dis-
cussed in it.
Westbrook argues that longstanding beliefs regarding
the emergence of ancient law in lands around the
Mediterranean basin followed Darwin’s 19th century
evolutionary theory of the ascent of man. This he
ascribes to Sir Henry Maine’s 1861 volume, Ancient Law
(p.222). The argument is coherent; but, in my opinion
his view in its present form does not entirely displace
G.R. Driver’s (1892-1975) and Sir J. C. Miles’ (1870-1963)
progressive views pertaining to the code of
On page 226 Westbrook states “the earliest law that we
can recover comes from the Near East. The sources
from that region predate by far sources from other
early civilizations such as India and China. Westbrook
fails to mention that this is so because Assyriologists
have assigned older dates to these sources, although
the dates assigned may not be mistaken. Although
elsewhere well-treated, e.g., A History of Ancient Near
Eastern Law I-II, ed. R. Westbrook (Brill, 2003), his
contentions here do not seriously impair the worth of
ancient Egyptian legal texts. Again, he asserts “The ear-
liest decipherable legal documents (from Sumer in
southern Mesopotamia) reveal a legal system that is
already mature.” Question: “mature” in relation to
what, or in what sense? The statement is vague. It
would be bold to believe that territorial judiciaries in
any advanced sense were spread widely in the ancient
Near East. Some cuneiform legal texts in-fact might
contain adaptations of material from non-literary soci-
eties (i.e., south Arabian or sub-Saharan African), later
noted down by cultures where reading and writing
already was in existence.
Westbrook’s claim that ancient Near Eastern law was
“essentially static over the course of several millennia”
(p.228) is untrueto what is known of all societies of the
past. Legal discourse is dynamic, and it develops with-
in the diversities of human contact and relations. In
9 This brief review is not burdened with the many references to critical editions and to literature which could be appended to support the claims
and arguments contained within it.
10 “The family is the primitive unit of which the paterfamilias is the chief, but it does not long live in isolation; groups are formed for security, and
matters affecting the group are decided by the king or chief… If one member of the family injures another, the matter is settled by the head of the
family who does what he thinks right to requite the wrong… If, however, one memberof a family injures a member of another… a feud arises between
the two families… Here the group itself is concerned… for the blood-feud is civil war. The community must then lay down rules and the first is that,
when the blood of the murderer has been shed, the murder has been requited and the peace between the two families shall be restored. Here the
germ of one of the principle limitations on the indiscriminate vengeance of the blood-feud appears, the principle of the “tit for tat” or talion. This
principle is applied not only to slaying but to all corporeal injuries, and thedoctrine that the punishment must fit the crime begins its history. The
limitation on the blood-feud is the recognition of the “composition,” whereby the offending party buys off the consequences of his act. In the first
instance composition is purelyvoluntary, a private agreement between the two families, which is perhaps the earliest type of contract. Subsequently,
composition for certain offences became compulsory…”, cf. p.224, quoted from The Babylonian Laws, Vol. 1 (1952).
addition he says, “a core legal tradition common to all
that did not develop significantly over this period”
(loc. cit). And he wrongly assumes that “jurists do not
appear until the third century in Rome” (p.230). This
cannot be correct. What of the 5th-4th century BC
Greek, Attic orators, and of the arenas in which they
operated? Mesopotamian sciencewas influential in the
past, but not to the degree Westbrook presumes. The
light that he insists derives from ‘The Land Between
Two Rivers’ casts an inescapable shadow over all his
classical discussions; none of the papers provide solid
evidences to buttress most of his claims. There are rea-
sons why this is so.
Roman Republican law arose out of senate consulta-
tions, popular discourse, and from the need to apply
them to their peoples and/or to political clients. Greek
law, although it was polis oriented, could not overlook
the estatesof its rural precincts, but “law” as well devel-
oped by means of pragmatic but reasoned discussions.
The forceof Westbrook’s thesis is weakened by the fact
it is inaptly deduced. ANE statutes do not suggest
much less than that a sovereign’s power to impose dic-
tates was recorded. Using modern legal terms to
describe what ancient societies in Mesopotamia
achieved may mislead; Egyptian law and its influences
on Greek law are not unknown any longer.
There wasa shared legal ontology. It wasunlike the one
assumed by Westbrook. Basic human values were
innate to persons of all cultures, and various customs
surfaced accordingly. Resemblances in laws, e.g., homi-
cide, marriage and purchase of property, do not imply
‘borrowing’ each time a comparison is made between
them. Laws unite and bind individuals into corporate
social orders. If Graeco-Roman law is derivative of
Near Eastern law, then why did the polis and the civitas
develop in ways in no way similar to ANE community
Roman jurists, poets and other writers of ancient texts
seem wholly unaware of all these supposed ostensible
links. The compilation of correspondences is notewor-
thy. Comparisons do not, however, always express
modification, but they do signify the existence of sim-
ilarities whose origins may be hypothesized wrongly.
For some, the craft of reconstruction, or of conjecture-
beyond-evidence, becomes a hallucinogenic in itself.
The effects are devastating, akin to the old idea that
once upon a time there were Greeks in possession of
the knowledge of reading and writing, then they expe-
rienced the lossof thatability, but soonafter, therewas
an eventual rediscovery. Likewise, the Westbrook
hypothesis posits that ancient Greeks and Romans
learned law from easterners, then purposely failed to
disclose or forgot that they once learned so. And their
adoption of all this material, unknown to any succeed-
ing generation of writers, was not formally under-
stood until Post-Enlightenment scholars of the west
recreated its origins for modern readers. Westbrook
denigrated the notion that Greek genius miraculously
arose from Zeus’ head. Still, through succeeding
decades he exchanged a Hellenic myth for a Meso-
potamian one.
This collection of papers leads the way in minute inves-
tigations of ancient legal theory, and it is a useful vol-
ume if controlled by the recent opinions of other
Classical and Near Eastern scholars. It also improves
the state of resources available to students whose own
critical genius displays less instinct for theoretical
work. My cavils relate to his versions of the origin of
Greek and Roman law alone. It is the singular admira-
tion for his diagnostic skill which attracts readers of
ancient Near Eastern law to his scholarship, and as a
result he will not be forgotten.
Andrew Erskine & Josephine Crawley Quinn, edd.,
Rome, Polybius & The East
by Peter Derow.
Oxford (2015). Pp. xiii, 311.
ISBN 978 0 19 964090 4. $59.95 (hb).
As a historian of [Hellenistic] Greek History and of
[Republican] Roman history, Peter Sidney Derow
(1944-2006; hereafter P.S.D.) radiated a brilliance of
intellect which illuminated ancient texts. With this
book in-hand the reader is introduced to 14 of his
essays. Half of them appeared in classical journals; the
others were issued in various monographs; one was
unpublished: chapter 8, ‘Polybius III, Rome and
Carthage.’ The essays fall under several categories. I:
Narratives, II: Polybius and Roman Power, III: The
Roman Calendar, IV: Epigraphy.
The writing is meticulous, requiring for a few papers
patience and an extremely disciplined mind to pene-
trate its subject matter. The details of Polybian minuti-
ae that one encounters are impressive, if not over-
whelming. Understandably his work has been
acclaimed. Polybius (c.200-c.118BC) was a Greek histo-
rian who wrote of Rome’s ascent to its position of
power, cf. 1.1,5. He believed the study of history to be
foundational to civility and to the correct establish-
ment of political activities. Readers of his Histories
recognize their didactic emphases. Specialists have
found him to be a spirited proponent of making right
uses of sourcedocuments. They have not all found that
he attained to his goal. In certain places Polybius is
inexact; P.S.D. believes Polybius was a professional his-
torian (p.118). I believe he wrote for a larger audience
than the Latin speakers of Italy who knew Greek or to
citizens of Greek states. He composed his material for
all readers of Greek in the far flung corners of the
world who were in need of expert instruction in the
origins of Roman dominance.
It is true that these papers turnover the soil of Polybian
research and plant new seeds of thought, but many
avenues were explored by P.S.D. The editors (p.3) pro-
mote the thought that the paper, ‘Polybius, Rome and
the East’ “is perhaps the most influential article on
Polybius toappear in the last fifty years.” Fortunately it
reappears in this volume; Polybius was clear at 1.63.9
about Roman policy in the east: it was anything but
fortuitous. Overcoming strong foes, e.g., victories in
the First and Second Punic Wars, usually induces in
victors the desire to further their influence. So why dis-
allow the inference one may derive from the Greek text
regarding the shared, longed-for ‘universal rule’
(p.129),11 which Polybius believed was the aim of Rome
and Carthage (1.3.7)? The war was fought over who
would attain to ‘first-place’ in their common struggle,
as are all battles when one country attacks another. On
page 131 he specifies his own understanding of Rome’s
quest for ‘universal rule’ as “that situation in which
everybody was subject to the Romans”.
P.S.D.’s translations of Greek texts are products of care-
ful thought, prudently transforming some of W.R.
Paton’s (1857-1921) Loeb12 renderings (1922-1927) into
better models of translation. In his overview of
Polybius biographyand of his books P.S.D. writes: “It is
not a history of Rome that he was writing, but an
account, first, of the process whereby the
Mediterranean world came to be conquered by Rome
and, then, how its several peoples (including the
Romans) fared during the time of Roman rule” (p.90).
The article from which the citation is taken is,
‘Polybius (205?-125? B.C.)’ and is a very effective intro-
duction to Polybius.13
For those who become lost in the maze of the Roman
calendar, I see no way out of it. P.S.D. thought it was
necessary to do chronographic work on the period
218BC-168BC. He believed that “something approach-
ing precision is attainable in dealing with the latter
part of the period, namely 190-168” (p.209). The faith
he places in the words of Polybius is quite remarkable;
but he does not justify with solid arguments the astro-
nomical synchronisms that he uses. Therefore they are
not definitive. Consensus opinions on the distillation
of these matters are elusive. Even with Livy’s (59 BC-
AD17) help, the designation of ‘even’ years only for
intercalary years seems remote; and I agree with him
that “Proof is not possible” (p.212). The Roman calen-
dar-charts in table 10.1 and 11.1 ease the pain of the dis-
cussion as he compares accounts in the histories of
Polybius and of Livy.
The manuscript tradition was not his principal con-
cern; not all historians of ancient Greece engage in the
study of epigraphy over extended lengths of time. The
small number of people who do so, affect it with a flair
for reconstructing contexts. Greek epigraphists will
crave this book for the final three papers, ‘An
Inscription from Chios’ - co-authored by W.G. Forrest
(1925-1997), whom P.S.D. succeeded in Ancient History
at Wadham College, Oxford - and ‘Pharos and Rome’
and ‘RC 38 (Amyzon) Reconsidered’ – co-authored
with J.T. Ma and A.R. Meadows. These papers serve to
remind readers of what could have been had P.S.D.
lived a bit longer. Sadly, he did not; but the republica-
tion of a selection of his papers is a happy event.
David Norton, ed.,
The New Cambridge Paragraph Bible:
King James Version.
Cambridge (2011). Pp. xxxvi, 1566. ISBN 978 0 521
19501 0. $45.00 (hb).
About five years ago there were celebrations in several
parts of the world to commemorate the 400th anniver-
sary of the so-called Authorized Version of 1611. Its
merits notwithstanding, in our time few historians or
scholars of medieval Bible texts expect to see new edi-
tions of the King James Bible. The importance of the
Greek and Hebrew texts upon which the English trans-
lation is based was downgraded by progressive 19th
century editors. The King James Bible’s influence in
the English speaking world is unparalleled; if this
renown existsonly among Protestants it is because cer-
tain Roman Catholics who are of one mind continue to
11 P.S.D. claimed, “Taken by itself thiscould mean that both sidesentered and fought the war with universal rule astheir aim. That itdoes not carry
this implication is clear in general from Polybius’ discussion of the outbreak of that war (where desire for universal rule is never mentioned)….
12 In recent times a six-volume Loeb edition (Harvard, 2010) of Polybius’ Histories was published, newly edited by F.W. Walbank (1909-2008) and
Christian Habicht.
13 See also B. McGing, Polybius’ Histories (Oxford: 2010).
uplift the notable virtues of the Douay-Rheims transla-
The literature on the history and backgrounds of this
bible is immense and still growing. Readers familiar
enough with the history of the Bible in English will be
acquainted with the name David Norton. He is prolific
and has published, among other things, A History of
the Bible as Literature: from Antiquity … to the Present
Day (Cambridge, 1993) in 2 volumes; A Textual History
of the King James Bible (Cambridge, 2005) and The
King James Bible: a Short History from Tyndale to
Today (Cambridge, 2011).
The volume before us is a companion volume to the
Textual History’ he wrote. The task involved is a diffi-
cult one. Some translators kept scrupulous notesof the
committee proceedings; much else disappeared long
ago. This Bible must be had by thoseenthusiasts whose
delight in Jacobean literature abides. Far more people
still memorize or read scripture privately in the
authorized edition than likely would publically
acknowledge. David Norton has given to posterity a
thoroughly re-edited text, and Cambridge press again
has given to readers a beautiful edition, whose physical
presentation rivals the magnificence of any other bible.
The editor’s introduction is brief (pp.vii-xi). His
method is simple. As far as is possible, first-edition
readings will be reintroduced; subsequent editorial
revisions – post-1611 - are subject to critical reexamina-
tion. The result is an “authorized” text which approxi-
mates as closely as possible to the translators’ text.
Available to them was a vast corpus of resources. Their
dependency on previous editions in English is com-
mon knowledge. Reliance on the Geneva Bible of the
reformers is illustrated in the discussion of the modifi-
cation of “hewed” to “shewed” at Hosea 6:5 (p.viii).
Norton’s intention is clear. He wants older and varied
forms of spelling to be preserved for a modern genera-
tion: “The New Cambridge Paragraph Bible keeps the
modernisation within strict limits: spellings may be
modernised, but words and grammatical forms cannot
change” (p.ix). Nicelogic: for his line of reasoning safe-
guards some forms of the syntax of the Masoretic text,
of the so-called Textus Receptus and of the Latin
Vulgate, thereby placing grammatical constructions in
their most literal senses before astute readers of
English who areable to compare them to original read-
ings in the source texts. These resemblances are less
noticeable in modern English versions whose transla-
tions, despite their greater margins for error, were
founded on cutting-edge modern theories of word-
In accordance with its title, “What The New Cambridge
Paragraph Bible does is to present the entire text in
paragraphs that conform as far as possible to present-
day ideas of paragraphing. This contributes to the aim
of making the King James Bible as readable and com-
prehensible as possible without falsifying the essen-
tials of the translators’ work” (p.x). It follows a single
column format. The original ‘Dedication’ (pp.15-16)
and ‘The Translators to the Readers’ (pp.xvii-xxxv) is
retained. Full notes have been affixed to the latter. The
conventional style, which at one time placed notes in
the center column was discarded, now alternative ren-
derings and other notes are in the innermargin of each
page. Italics, used in other editions, to supply the per-
ceived intended sense, are abandoned.
In the Pentateuch the editorial principles are coherent-
ly displayed. Exodus 15: ‘The Song of the Sea’ and
Deuteronomy 32: ‘The Song of Moses’ appear in poetic
dress. The reviewer wassurprised to see Jacob’sprophe-
cies to his sons set off in verse in Genesis 49, thinking
it was a precursor of things to come in sections dealing
with divinatory expressions. The presentation of Job
should be emulated. Each speech-narrative is given a
lyrical form in verse lines, although Norton admits “it
is not alwaysclear what parts of the original were poet-
ry, nor how that poetry should be lineated; moreover
the King James Biblewas made a prose translation, and
its words only sometimes work as verse” (p.x). In theo-
ry, the lineation would prove difficult at times. It
should not have been so with Proverbs. Yet I cannot
understand why certain parts of the verses are ren-
dered in double-spaced couplets: e.g., chapter 10:1-
22:16; 25:11-27:14. It is quite erratic. As for the Psalms,
where titular ascriptions apply to select sacred songs
they are italicized and standout. The letters seem to
have an enlarged, still felicitous appearance.
Popular passages which have passed into English idiom
receive indentation and become conspicuous in
Ecclesiastes: e.g., 1:1-11, ‘Vanity of vanities, saith the
preacher...’; 3:1-8 ‘To everything there is a season…’; 11:1-
4 ‘Cast thy bread upon the waters. The whole of
Lamentations is in poetic verse, as it should be. It is a
mournful song. The same cannot be said for Isaiah,
Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Much of the layout of Isaiah and
Jeremiah is in verse; the first half of Ezekiel for the
most part is in block narrative. Prophetic utterances
you would expect to read in rhythmical form – e.g.,
Ezek. 36-39 – are not given such treatment. Those
graceful predictions of restoration and wrath may go
unnoticed in their current arrangement.
Seeing that Mary’s and Zacharias’ hortatory speeches
of Luke 1 are in verse form, one would have thought the
Sermon on the Mount (Mat. 5-7) would be set up like
some wisdom-verses in Proverbs; apparently there was
not a single verse in John that possessed recognizable
lyrical qualities. There are irregular displays: e.g., “ye”
and “you”. Norton’s critical text (CT) differs from the
standard text (ST) of the King James Bible. It is not
always understood why the changes are made, whether
because of MS readings or because of some form of
update. Galatians is an example. At 1:1 verse parenthe-
ses are removed; but for 2:6 and 2:8 they are retained.
In Jn. 2:7 he preserves the “ye” form of “ye must be born
again;” but in Gal . 1:6 “ye” is converted to “you.” At Gal .
1:14 “mine” in the ST becomes “my” in the CT. At 3:1,
and 4:17 “ye” in the ST becomes “you” in the CT.
However, at 4:21 and 5:18 the “ye” style remains.
Editorial procedures are inconsistent. Everywhere the
word “spake” is amended to “spoke” (Lev. 10:3); but the
usage of the old fashioned word “nigh” is retained (loc.
cit) even when “near” follows (op. cit. 10:4). The ‘thou
shalt not’ forms of the Ten Commandments of Exodus
20 remain. The verse numbers of this edition are tiny.
Embedded in each paragraph as they are, it sometimes
is a chore to locate them. If another edition ever is
issued, why notappend a list of all the places where the
critically edited text diverges from the received text
(e.g., II Tim. 2:22, CT: “Fly”; ST: “Flee”). Or, in the inner
margin the variant MS readings should be inserted,
that is if this is to be a truly critical edition erected
upon a critical system.
These minor cavils intend less than they may seem to
convey. Readers who will purchase this volume want
only what is promised: the original readings of the
translators. Norton’smodifications are helpful, butcan
we call this the 1611 bible issued in its most original
sense? As it stands, what is given is merely another edi-
tor’s diplomatic text. Originally published in 2005, an
eight page ‘Table of Corrections and Amendments’ for
this edition is provided online on The New Cambridge
Paragraph Bible page.
The New Cambridge Paragraph Bible should not litter a
shelf. It should be used diligently by any who desire to
understand subtle classical points of reference and the
interpretative genius of persons of the Late
Renaissance era.
F. Montanari,
GE: The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek.
Brill (2015). Pp. lx, 2431.
ISBN 978 90 04 19318 5. $125.00 (hb).
The writing and editing of dictionaries is an aspect of
lexicography in which few people will engage in their
lifetime. It is rare to find persons whose private or
scholarly pursuits entail studies of vocabulary expres-
sions in ways that are so stringent. Those pupils who
learned to memorize word-lists and glossaries at the
elementary level, if the process was accomplished at
all, they will have gone far in understanding the rudi-
ments of lexical work. Mastery of context is an essen-
tial tool in establishing the definition of a word; since
that kind of expertise is not the norm in everyday
affairs, lexemes thatare unfamiliar usually guideone to
a dictionary. The scientific pursuit of comprehending a
word’s meaning with precision has had a long history.
Ever since antiquity when individuals read ancient
hieroglyphs or cuneiform, and much later the archaic
Greek of “Homer”, students have sought to properly
define obsolete words, or words whose meanings
changed through time.
GE: The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek (hereafter
GE) is the latest addition to Greek lexical studies. It
stands on its own merits. It is innovative in the best
way, employing very broad conceptions of the lan-
guage and the highest standards. As stated by Dr.
Montanari in his Preface (, GE
“is not restricted to language material dating from
the archaic, Classical and Hellenistic eras.
Significant consideration is also given to later forms
of Greek, in particularGreek of the imperial age and
of the first centuries of Greek Judaic-Christian liter-
ature (Old and New Testament, Patristics, etc.), up
to the VIth century and with sporadic later exam-
ples (this is the period for which the great LSJ is
notoriously weak, especially after the IInd century
AD). Furthermore, GI / GE makes substantial use of
papyri and inscriptions, and includes a wealth of
proper names….
Dr. Montanari brings exceptionally rich equipment to
his studies of the varying linguistic vistas of lexicogra-
phy. The editors of this English edition were Madeleine
Goh and Chad Schroeder. It was made under the aus-
pices of the Center for Hellenic Studies. Gregory Nagy
and Leonard Mueller were the advisory editors. The
basis of the English volume was the 3rd Italian edition
of F. Montanari, D. Manetti, I. Garofalo, Vocabolario
della Lingua Greca (2013), although it is not a slavish
translation of its precursor. Nagy and Goh spell out
their aims in their Preface (p.vii),
“Our objective was an accurate elucidation of each
Greek lemma in English, and, accordingly, it is to be
emphasized that the lexicon is not a translation of
the Italian definitions in and of themselves… Still,
we have tried our best to render 132,884 lemmata
into as clear and idiomatic modern English as pos-
sible in the span of four years. In addition to the
updated language of our definitions, the strengths
of this volume include the incorporation of new evi-
dence, especially from epigraphical sources and
papyri. Our methodology relies on the application
of historical linguistics to the study of the new lem-
mata, and this reliance takes us even beyond the
third edition of the Italian version.
Of other preliminary matter there are pages at the
front-end illustrating ‘How-to-Use’ the book. There
are also sections on Abbreviations, appearing twice:
(viii-ix) and the same ones at the book’s end,
Glottonyms (ix), Collections (x-xi), Authors and Works
(xii-lvi) Papyrus (lvii-liviii), and Inscriptions (lix-lx).
Each Greek entry is in an attractive and readable font.
Entries are given in variant forms. Glosses or defini-
tions appear in darkened letters; and Bold-faced
numbers, indicating verbal-forms, also introduce dis-
tinctive uses. In places whereancient authors are cited,
UPPERCASE letters are used. See below
The above is in the Brill-Roman font, and is extracted
from the online sample pages; but in the hardbound
volume ancient authors are not cited in lowercase let-
ters, as given above. There is an online edition and a
deluxe edition ($450.00) too is available bound in two
volumes with encasement. The three-column format
of GE is attractive. Greek lexemes have their appro-
priate accents. On account of the citations of classical
texts, theologians whose endeavors involve Greek
studies will find that it is a sound supplement to F. W.
Danker, A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament
and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. (Chicago:
2001). Indo-Europeanists will cavil at some of the
grammatical attributions; but those who are depend-
ent on the reading of ancient Greek texts for intellec-
tual sustenance, for researches of a disinterested kind
and for their livelihood, should acquire GE.
Craig R. Koester,
Revelation: A New Translation with
Introduction and Commentary.
Yale University Press (2014). Pp. xlii, 881.
ISBN 978 0 300 14448 8. $65.00 (pb).
The literary history of Revelation is worth studying. Its
acceptance into the canon of scripture was not imme-
diate, nor was it without obstacles. It was excluded
from the Syriac canon for several centuries. Authorship
in ancient times was important. If a document had
been penned byan apostle of Christ, knowledge of this
source during various stages of transmission would
advance its standing. Thus many ancient texts were
attributed to members of Jesus’ circle of twelve apos-
tles. If one prefersexplanatory volumeswhose theolog-
ical material does not overwhelm, the Anchor Yale
Bible Commentary Series havefew rivals. Far moreuse-
ful to competent divines and scholars than to layper-
sons, critical tools of the finest kind are needed to
make the best use of each volume. Inscriptions, other
textual artifacts of archaeology, Classical and Near
Eastern texts supplement the readers’ resources in
greater measure than is found normally in a biblical
commentary. The advantages are many; but there are
Apocalyptic literature is a topic of interest for many
researchers. The discoveries of the “Dead Sea Scrolls”
and “Nag Hammadi Texts” in the 1940s continue to
intrigue. Much has been learned through decades of
minute studies on those texts. Koester’s (Hereafter K.)
work is not the effort of a novice. Incorporating the
results of the most recent research, K.’s contribution to
studies of Revelation is encyclopedic and comprehen-
sive. The date of its origin remains disputed; K.
believes that it is stylistically different from the Gospel
of John. He is fair in his depiction of how various
Christian sects understood Revelation. Moreover, cur-
rent descriptive interpretations – “futuristic, timeless,
church historical and preterist” - are discarded by him
He operates in no novel sphere; but this book may be
viewed by competent authorities to be strides ahead of
most recent publications on John’s Apocalypse. Of
course K. presumes there is a literal God, and that he
has a throne and his judgments will be initiated from
that seat of authority. Heaven is real to K., as is a virtu-
al return of the Lord from heaven. He used theold par-
adigm of “Western” and Eastern” (Latin/Greek) writers
to describe the sixth cycle (pp.742-743), it is a model of
little value today. The authors cited in connection with
Patristic Fathers are Eurasian or of west-Asia; but truly
eastern writings, i.e., Syriac or Armenian interpretative
texts go unmentioned. What of ancient Ethiopian
apocalyptic literature?
A superb translation of the Greek text is provided
(pp.3-25). An introductory section (pp.29-150) follows,
along with bibliography (pp.153-206). Exegetical mat-
ters are not always exact. They are of a comparative
sort, citing numerous authors’ opinions. The historical
value of this commentary is incomparable however.
Section Ion ‘History of Interpretation and Influence’
(pp.29-65) is not bettered by anything now available.
In section II ‘Historical Issues’ (pp.65-85), all his
remarks are conventional. Section III ‘Social Setting of
Revelation’ (pp.85-103) and section IV ‘Literary
Aspects’ (pp.103-132) and section V‘Rhetorical Aspects’
(pp.132-144) are definitive. The discussion in section VI
‘The Text of Revelation’ (pp.144-150) is proletarian.
K. manages all the segments by dividing them into a
scheme of 6 cycles of visions: First Cycle: Christ and
the Seven Assemblies (1:9-3:22); Second Cycle: The
Seven Seals (4:1-8:5); Third Cycle: TheSeven Trumpets
(8:6-11:18); Fourth Cycle: The Dragon, the Beasts and
the Faithful (11:19-15:4); Fifth Cycle: The Seven Bowls
and the Fall of Babylon (15:5-19:10); Sixth Cycle: From
the Beast’s Demise to New Jerusalem (19:11-22:5).
Revelation contains introductory (1:1-8) and conclud-
ing material (22:6-21). I suggest future editors split
John’s text into 4 visions, each of which is annunciated
with a distinct command, sometimes with the phrase
‘come up here’, [excluding the one at Rev. 11:12]: First
Vision (1:10-3:22); Second Vision (4:1-16-21); Third
Vision (17:1-21:8) and Fourth Vision (21:9-22:5).
Respect for his scholarship must be conveyed in this
review. K. is at his best when synthesizing data. His use
of Old Testament scriptures is helpful throughout,
providing indispensable details for conceiving the
broader contexts which must be assumed for the text.
Comments and noteson the 7 churchesare impressive,
as are the well-structured ones on New Jerusalem. K.
believes “The Creatorand the Lamb are the theological
center of the Apocalypse” (p.367). That belief is the
nucleus of his expansive remarks.
On page 368 K. cites Ovid Met. 1.175-76 following the
sentence “In the imperial world Jupiterwas said to have
a heavenly council”. In fact it would be more appropri-
ate if it appeared after the subsequent clause (loc. cit.)
where it reads “at the political level the emperor dis-
pensed justice while seated on this throne”, for the
Palatia was Augustus’ abode on the Palatine hill.
Occasional vague statements appear: e.g. (p.375) K.
writes “Lions were regal (Pliny the Elder, Nat. 8.19.48)”.
It reads like an observation on feline temperament.
Definitely what he intended to convey is the idea that
for some persons ‘the image of lions was of imperial
significance as symbols for royal figures.’ K.s reference
to Pliny’s section on ‘the peculiar character of a lion’
has no bearing at all on his discussionon Israelite king-
Hardly any exegesis in the English text is based on the
grammar or syntaxof the Greek wording; ideasderived
from secondary literature obtrude in all directions. In
most places óôÝöáíïò is translated ‘laurel wreath’
instead of ‘crown. Even though the Graeco-Roman gar-
land or headdress was popular at the time of the writ-
ing of Revelation, forvarious contexts e.g., Rev. 4:4, 12:1,
13:1, 19:12 etc., a diadem-version of ornate headdress
signifying royalty, rather than a victorious athlete,
seems appropriate when describing the covenantal
God or demonic beasts or divine beings who are asso-
ciated with redemption. The Graeco-Roman portrayals
are excessive at times; Near Eastern materials are not
used to their best effect. Those readers who are adept
at reading the source-text will be grateful for the com-
pendiums of data placed before them. They will be less
excited, however, about the uncontrolled use of classi-
cal literature. For example,
On page 502, K. treats of the death of the 2 witness of
Revelation 11:10b. His translation reads:
‘and celebrate and give gifts to each other, because these
two prophets brought such pain to those who live on
His note has: ‘This gift exchange is reminiscent of the
Roman Saturnalia festival, which wascelebrated for seven
days beginning on December 17. Both slaves and f reepeo-
ple joined in drinking wine, feasting, and playing games.
Wealthier people gave gifts of furniture, clothing, money
boxes of wood orivory, dice combs, writing tablets, books,
baskets, jugs and cups. Poorer people made presents of
wax candles and clay figurines (Martial, Epigrams 14;
Lucian, Sat. 14; Suetonius, Aug. 75; Macrobius Saturnalia
1.11.49). During Domitian’s reign, one writer referred to
“the glad festival of our merry Caesar and the banquet’s
drunken revel” and hoped that as long as Rome stood, the
festival would continue (Statius, Silv. 1.6.7-8,101-2). In
Revelation, however, the celebration is interrupted at its
midpoint, after three and a half days, when the witnesses
are raised and an earthquake shakes the city where the
festival is taking place (Rev 11:11-13 sic).
Paragraphs like the one above could be multiplied (cf.
p.608, noteson “harps”). He makesa broad assumption
that the peoples’ reaction in the city to the deaths of
the 2 antagonists was less spontaneous, but was some
kind of organized gala. No attempt is made to explain
why Jewish citizens, who are residing in a place
metaphorically called Sodom and Egypt, would sud-
denly appeal to the activities of the Romans’
Saturnalia: no sacrifice was offered at a pagan temple,
a civic banquet was not observed. The only similarity is
the distributing of gifts; the pitiless rejoicing of
Jerusalem’s citizens was only a microcosm of a soon-to-
be transnational event on account of the death of, and
unburied bodies of, two god-fearing humans. John’s
description is wholly unlike the raucous atmosphere of
the Saturnalia festival.
Somehow the Millennium (p.773) is given an allegori-
cal meaning of “completeness”, which illustrates K.’s
peculiar views on how to construe large numerical dig-
its. Smaller units usuallypose no problem, except in his
remarks on the ‘two witness’ (p.497) who somehow are
“representatives of the whole church”. He does not
doubt or dispute that there were 7 churches in Asia or
4 beasts around the throne; but of the 144,000 persons
of Revelation 7 (pp.417,607) he is content to interpret
the figure too as a symbol of “completeness”; Query:
must the Anchor/Yale editions persist in the use of
transliterations in the place of original language
scripts? Individual New Testament documents are not
very long, so the optimal plan for each commentary
should be to provide a unique set of photo-graphic
plates of source-texts.
K.s book is a “landmark commentary”, as noted on the
back cover the volume. He is a man of unlimited
patience. His commentary astounds. It is a vigorous
conspectus of Christian eschatology. It represents the
best of modern biblical scholarship on the most
important text of ancient, Christian, apocalyptic liter-
ature. He is untiring in his effort to extract meanings
from each context. The depth of his study is fath-
omable only by those who have conducted comparable
researches. The book stands as a monument in the
field New Testament studies.
Christopher R. Seitz,
The International Theological Commentary.
Bloomsbury T&T Clark (2016). Pp. xii, 239.
ISBN 978 0 56757 073 4. $94.00 (hb).
An admirable attempt is made here to provide com-
panion volumes to The International Critical
Commentary (ICC) series. With the creation of The
International Theological Commentary (ITC), an
observable gap in knowledge now is in the process of
being filled. For Seitz, theology should be the focus;
Joel is the subjectmatter. He is anauthority on this bib-
lical text. His contributions to historical studies of the
Minor Prophets have not been insignificant. This latest
submission of his solidifies Seitz’s place as a first-class
researcher. His control of secondary literature is
marked, and there is something to learn from each
page. His analyses on pages 111-119, on ‘The Solemn
Opening’ 1.1-4, give a glimpse of much that will follow.
There are notices of literary structures, superscrip-
tions, historical questions illustrated by Patristic solu-
tions, certain modern writers are copiously cited,
and grammatical matters are easily depicted. But the
depths of Joel’s theology are not explored.
There are more than 90 pages of preliminary remarks
(pp.1-93). Joel’s relationship to other books in the
Minor Prophets is examined comprehensively; he
argues that the Day of the Lord (DOL) “is in fact an
encounter with God himself” (p.79). The commentary
extends from pages 111-226. At no time is Joel wrongly
caricatured. All the material is not properly balanced.
The didactic and moral outlook of Joel is adequately
traced. The work is pioneering, and it is not a product
of modern theoretical views. Advancing a type of
hermeneutics once employed by Brevard S. Childs
(1923-2007), Seitz applies the ‘Canonical Approach,
which follows biblical interpretations of an earlier time
and opposes assertions that “the manuscript tradi-
tion… lacks any interpretative significance” (p.20). The
NRSV is the focal translation of the Hebrew texts
(pp.100-109). The NIV is utilized frequently. Literary-
critical elements preponderate. The paragraph on page
131 is typical.
“The portion of text (1.5-7) is but the first section of a longer
rhetorical unit, composed of three parts (1.5-7; 1.8-10; 1.11-12)
culminating in 1.13-14 and the cry of 1.15. Each of the units is
introduced with imperatives. The final unit (vv.13-14) itself
contains nine imperatives in two brief verses. The effect of
this is to underscore an atmosphere of great urgency, in the
light of 1.4 and the ensuing descriptions of a natural assault.
Seitz’s theological input is not considerable. On page
137 one finds a common form of exegesis: appears that the locust plague is a more generalized
example of God’s judgement presently engulfing a genera-
tion. Absent are indictments for sinful conduct deserving
punishment, such as we find elsewhere (especially
Zephaniah). Joel sees in the terrible locust plague a general-
ized divine judgment, like gravity or what Christian theology
might register as theeffects of ‘original sin’. The ‘people’s joy’
is erased as the locust plague renders its own stalking judge-
A review requires a display of faults or weaknesses.
These are nothard to find. There is inattention to Joel’s
conception of God’s person and attributes. Indeed in
Joel readers will turn up theology in abundance: chap-
ter 1 outlines the significanceof God’s sanctuary (1:9,15-
16); chapter 2 summarizes God’s retributive acts (e.g.,
2:11) and his jealous but merciful nature (2:18); chapter
3 gives a rough idea of God’s restorative process
(3:1,7,18). Other items may be noted; several topics
needed expanded scrutiny: the mediatory vocation of
God represented by his ministers (1:9,2:17), the import
of the presence of the Spirit in the last days (the two
paragraphs on page 199 are insufficient), and warfare
used as an instrument of God in his humbling of Israel
(2:11;3:9-13). The author might have depicted the theol-
ogy of Joel in the same way that academics often por-
tray theprincipal loci of Jewish theology orthe concep-
tual assumptions of history-of-religion figures. Then
“theology” could have formed the coreof the commen-
If the aspiration is to complement the notable ICC
series, a higher academic standard must be attained.
Transliteration should be abandoned. The inclusion of
original-language texts (of the same kind found in
appendix II), along with an English translation com-
posed by the author, is desirable.
Minor details: Seitz wrote in fn.1,p.111, “The name
Pethuel is unknown apart from the reference here.” It is
not clear if he means unknown in the remainder of the
Hebrew text or that the name is not extant in anti-
quity. Yet, a similar form, byd’l or b.yadf.l [in the pro-
tection of EL] was not infrequently known in ancient
Ammonite inscriptions: see F.M. Cross, ‘Personal
Names in the Samaria Papyri,’ BASOR, 344 (Nov.,
2006), 77. The letters ‘b’ and ‘p’ are often interchange-
able in Semitic speech. The solution may be only to
attribute the shorter form of the name to processes of
elision: In several places Seitz’s writing is unclear, e.g.,
p.xi: “This dialectic also opens the text onto the long
and rich history of interpretation …. Onto is obscure in
that sentence. In an academic textbook, why the use of
colloquialisms like “low-flying assumption” (p.18), “the
issue is close-run” (p.38) or the use of terms like
“knock-on effect: (p.119); the use of “prise” for “pry”,
(pp.19,150) although not incorrect still is odd in his
expressions. Far too many editorial matters go unno-
ticed: footnote 8, page 8 should read ‘Theodoret of
Cyrus,’ rather than “Theodoret of Cyr” and should fol-
low the forms of note 5 on page 15. Jerome’s long cita-
tion (pp.15-17) would be easier todiscern if the whole of
it wasplaced between quotation marks [‘’], as was done
for Calvin’s (1509-1564) lengthy excerpt in note 9 on
page 114; but from which of Jerome’s books is the
extract taken? Readers unacquainted with Jerome can-
not know. Appendix 1 should have been omitted.
This edition has its uses. As a tool of form-criticism the
ITC can be highly recommended. Nonetheless, how
can it be that a 21st century ‘critical’ commentary
issued to supplement the ICC contains theological
researches that are not quite equal to rhetorical and
theological discussions published over 100 years ago in
J.M.P. Smith, W.H. Ward, J.A. Bewert, Micah,
Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Obadiah, and Joel
(1911)? Hopefully in future volumes the theological
aims will be achieved.
J.J.M. Roberts,
First Isaiah: A Commentary.
Fortress Press (2015). Pp. xxix, 524.
ISBN 978 0 8006 6080 2. $69.00 (hb).
Hermeneia commentaries provide detailed and learned
investigations of ancient texts: the historical-critical
method predominates. Of prime importance is the
translation and textual notes (e.g.,cf.38:9-20). These
two arereinforced by a mass of scholarship that is rem-
iniscent of the annotations of medieval commentators.
Consequently Hermeneia volumes do not suffer from
compression. It isthe custom that thethoughts of each
expert should be fully expressed. In this volume J.J.M.
Roberts (JR) continues that tradition.
First Isaiah is the title of JR’s new edition. Itsignals his
consent to the prevailing scholarly view, initiallydevel-
oped in the Middle Ages by the biblical criticism of
Abraham Ibn Ezra (c.1093-1167), a view which was
reformulated by Bernhard Duhm (1847-1928) at the
end of the 19th century through his 1892 publication,
Das Buch Jesaia übersetzt und erklärt/The Book of
Isaiah Translated and Explained. Conceived along their
lines of reasoning Isaiah consists of texts written by
three different hands: supposedly chapters 1-39 are the
primary section, written by one who was a resident of
Jerusalem; but Deutero-Isaiah 40-66 purportedly was
composed later during the era of Babylonian and
Persian empires. Trito-Isaiah 56-66, it is said, is a com-
position of derivative texts made to resemble its pred-
ecessor, the second series of prophecies. So goes the
modern, critical view of this text.
There is along history here. Isaiah was a scroll thatwas
well represented among the documents discovered at
Qumran. Extant variant readings gave witness to its
diverse textual tradition. Textual criticism of it has
been an absorbing task: cf., E. Ulrich and P. Flint, edd.,
Qumran Cave 1. II, The Isaiah Scrolls (Oxford, 2010).
Little can be said of who placed them in the districts
where they were found or of how those scrolls were
used, but scholars continue to hold forthon these mat-
ters in seminars and symposiums: see S.W. Crawford,
C. Wassen, edd., The Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran and
the Concept of a Library (Brill, 2015). Isaiah was a text
of profound importance during the Herodian temple
period. Apparently Jesus saw a few of Isaiah’s passages
as the basis of his mission (cf.Lk.4:17f.) As a result of its
citation in the New Testament, it soon came to be des-
ignated The Fifth Gospel’ by more than one ancient
Christian reader. Its estimation in rabbinic literature
was great, and it remains a celebrated text within that
corpus of prophetic treatises.
As for the book itself, JR’s ‘General Introduction’ is
modest in scope and in its language. Avoiding hubris
he approaches the prophecies of Isaiah critically. He is
acquainted with the intelligent views of his scholarly
forebearers. His praise of them is not excessive and
appraisals of their views are fair. There is real scholar-
ship here, the kind of which is impatient of imprecise
His translation is elegant, even idiomatic, much unlike
J. Blenkinsopp’s14 formal paraphrases in Isaiah 1-39
(Anchor Bible). E.g., see Isa. 21:1-2,
The oracle “the wasteland by the sea.
As whirlwinds in the Negev advance,
coming from the wilderness, from a land of terror,
a grim vision is announced to me:
“The treacherous one is betrayed,
The despoiler is despoiled.
Attack, then, Elam!
Lay siege, Media!
I have brought all sighing to an end.
And J.J.M. Roberts
Oracle concerning the wilderness of the sea,
Like storms passing through the Negeb
It comes from the wilderness
from a fearsome land.
A harsh vision was reported to me:
“The treacherous one deals treacherously;
The plunderer plunders.
Go up, O Elam! Besiege, O Medes!
Put an end to all his groaning!
The difference is startling. JR has a feel for Hebrew
idiom. This facility for language extends to his com-
mentary and, by extension, to his textual notes. He
writes “unapologetically as a Christian interpreter of
the text” (p.8). And he offers theological insights that
are applicable for Christians today. Critical scholars
seldom are called upon to offer appropriate analyses
for the modern world. Regularly they provide scrutiny
which raises questions about a text’s meaning without
supplying answers. E.g., in Isaiah 2 Judah is cautioned
about following Israel’s example of trusting in other
14 J. Blenkinsopp’s credentials are beyond question. His three-volume commentary Isaiah 1-39; Isaiah 40-55 and Isaiah 56-66 (2000-2003), is infi-
nitely superiorto all North-AmericanEnglish editions that had come before itspublication. It has few rivalsafter these manyyears, evenso the trans-
lation in many places desperately needs revision.
gods for their wellbeing. So JR comments “This warn-
ing against displacing God in the search for human
security is arecurring theme in Isaiah, and it is a theme
that remains relevant for the contemporary world”
(p.48). As it is in so many other places, that statement
is rather vague and is too ineffectual for human
Isaiah is a perfect book for typological use and allusive
studies of specific New Testament passages. JR is eager
to show the support this book of the Old Testament
gives to Gospel readings. His commentary on 6:1-13 are
illustrative. His powers of recall are prodigious. He
accounts for numerous texts’ theological content by
reorganizing them in “Zion Tradition categories”
(p.113): this interpretative style was outlined on page 4
where he wrote:
“This was a political and a theological construct, orig-
inally created in the days of the Davidic imperial
expansion to legitimate that expansion theological-
ly, then maintained and refined under Solomon,
and preserved by Solomon’s Judean successors as
the ideal despite the breakup of the empire and the
collapse of the political reality that had initially
given credence to the construct. There were three
main points to this construct: (1) Yahweh was the
imperial God, king of all the gods and ruler over all
the nations; (2) Yahweh had chosen David as his
earthly vice-regent and had made an eternal
covenant with him that one of his descendants
would alwayssit on David’s throneas Yahweh’s ruler
on earth; and (3) Yahweh had chosen Jerusalem as
his imperial capital and earthly dwelling place.
Those facts are prominent in Israelite history; but I
doubt that it was assumed throughout Israel that God
was deemed the ‘king of all gods’: in many passages
biblical writers deny the real existence of other deities,
except inpeople’s minds. His isa well-thought out plan
of approach. The method is clearer to me in JR’s writ-
ing than it is in the text of the Bible, and it is a reveal-
ing map of his thinking processes. The matching tech-
nical equipment serves him well.
Other notes. Superscriptions: the arguments in the two para-
graphs on page 11 regarding the order of Jerusalem and Judah
are weak. JR writes “By analogy to the superscriptions at the
beginning of a number of other prophetic books… the super-
scription in Isa. 1.1 is probably intended as a heading for the
whole book, or at least as much of the book as existed at the
time the superscription was added”. He continues by stating
“In fact, one may argue that the superscription in 2:1 provid-
ed the model for the creation of 1:1”. Those claims are doubt-
ful. The placement of either of them in primary orsecondary
positions means little to the criticism of Isaiah’s texts. It is
improbable that 1:1 ever was meant to be a heading for the
entire book, it signified only the geographical locations
which would be the target of specific prophetic utterances.
2:1 is less a compositional model than it isanother heading of
a predictivemessage, and it need not betaken to be an edito-
rial addition.
This is a full and careful examination of Isaiah 1-39. JR’s
researches add substantially to our knowledge of the
Corrections: on page xv, “Hermanthena”, amend to
“Hermathena”. Page 205: the textual note at 14:5 (‘e’)
should read šheve.rather than šhebe..
Rev. D. Antoine Sutton completed his doctoral
studies at Knox Theological Seminary and is
Senior Minister of the Tabernacle in the Great
Plains, Red Cloud, Nebraska (USA). He is a
biblicist whose specialisms and reading/research
interests include: Semitic pursuits and Arabic
grammar; the poetry and textual criticism of A.
E. Housman; the text and transmission of
Manilius’ Astronomica; the origin and forma-
tion of the earliest historical traditions of Islam;
theology during the Enlightenment period;
and the use of typology as a literary and/or
theological device in the exegesis of ancient
Greek and Roman poetry and in expository
studies of Old and New Testament texts.
I am grateful to several readers
who applied their genius to specific sections in this bulletin.
These individuals, however, will remain nameless.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Introduction: Foundations for a History of Israel
  • Richard S Arnold
  • Hess
Contents: 'Preface,' Bill T. Arnold and Richard S. Hess; 'Introduction: Foundations for a History of Israel,'