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Eating in Isaiah

In Andrew T. Abernethy, Brill, Food, Hebrew Bible, Isaiah, Rebekah Devine on October 15, 2017 at 5:21 pm

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2017.10.20 | Andrew T. Abernethy, Eating in Isaiah: Approaching the Role of Food and Drink in Isaiah’s Structure and Message. Leiden: Brill, 2014. ISBN: 9789004270374

Review by Rebekah M. Devine

The past decade has yielded a small, yet robust crop of studies on food and drink in the Hebrew Bible. Andrew Abernethy’s contribution to this increasing yield looks at the role of food and drink in the literary structure of Isaiah, focusing on the sections that have been identified as major cruxes in the book and asking how food and drink contribute to Isaiah’s message.

Abernethy devotes the first chapter to surveying some of the recent scholarly approaches to the topic of food in biblical literature, and outlines his own method as a sequential-synchronic approach. The second chapter focuses on Isaiah 1 as an introduction to the whole book, looking at how food and drink function in its rhetoric. This study of Isaiah 1 sets the stage for later discussions on how these first food themes are fleshed out in Isaiah 2-35 (ch. 3) and 36-37 (ch. 4). After this survey of food and drink in Isaiah 1-39, Abernethy addresses 40-55 in association with 1-39 (ch. 5) and 65-66 as a conclusion to the entire Book of Isaiah (ch. 6), and then offers some concluding reflections on the study (ch. 7). Read the rest of this entry »

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Ancient Mesopotamian Religion and Mythology

In A. R. George, Ancient Israel, Ancient Near East, Kurtis Peters, Mohr Siebeck, Mythology, T. M. Oshima, W. G. Lambert on September 13, 2017 at 6:59 pm

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2017.09.20 | W. G. Lambert, Ancient Mesopotamian Religion and Mythology: Selected Essays, ed. A. R. George and T. M. Oshima, Orientalische Religionen in der Antike 15 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2016). ISBN: 9783161536748.

Review by Kurtis Peters

Many thanks to Mohr Siebeck for providing a review copy

W. G. Lambert’s contributions to Assyriology are unquestionably many. His work in Babylonian wisdom literature and the publishing of the Atra-Ḫasīs epic are alone testament to the enduring value of his work. In the present volume one finds a range of Lambert’s essays on the pantheon, myth, and religion found in ancient Mesopotamia. The editors, A. R. George and T. M. Oshima, divided the volume into five sections. First is “Introductory Considerations”, within which one finds two essays, “Morals in Mesopotamia” and “Ancient Mesopotamian Gods: Superstition, Philosophy, Theology”. Though the material here overlaps with much of what comes in later essays, these set some necessary groundwork and do so in a more generalist way. That the latter was published in Revue de l’histoire des religions confirms its broad scope. The second through the fourth sections are differentiable only in nuance: “The Gods of Ancient Mesopotamia”, “The Mythology of Ancient Mesopotamia”, and “The Religion of Ancient Mesopotamia”. The fifth and final section would be the most relevant to the readers of RBECS – “Ancient Mesopotamia and Israel”. Read the rest of this entry »

Hebrews in Contexts

In Brill, Bryan Dyer, Gabriella GELARDINI, Graeco-Roman Backgrounds, Harold W. ATTRIDGE, Hebrews, Jewish Backgrounds, New Testament, Spatial Theory on September 9, 2017 at 6:45 pm

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2017.09.19 | Gabriella Gelardini and Harold W. Attridge, eds. Hebrews in Contexts. Leiden: Brill, 2016. ISBN: 9789004311688.

Reviewed by Bryan Dyer, Baker Academic.

This collection of essays, edited by Gabriella Gelardini and Harold Attridge, brings together many of the fine papers that have been presented in the Hebrews section at the SBL annual meetings from 2005 to 2013. In their introduction, the editors place the volume within the increased attention that the epistle has received during those years. More specifically, this volume (and the Hebrews section over the years) attempts to place Hebrews within a variety of “contexts”—a term referring to historical context (Jewish, Greco-Roman) as well as hermeneutical approaches (spatial theory, canonical reading, history of interpretation). One key feature is that the editors (also the SBL co-chairs) sought out non-Hebrews scholars who are experts in fields with baring on Hebrews to bring their specialty to the text. As a result, the volume presents some fresh readings and approaches to the text that will be new to even seasoned Hebrews scholars. Read the rest of this entry »

The Text of Marcion’s Gospel

In Brill, Dieter T. ROTH, Early Christianity, Jordan Almanzar, Marcion, New Testament, Textual Criticism on September 3, 2017 at 10:40 am

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2017.09.18 | Dieter T. Roth. The Text of Marcion’s Gospel. New Testament Tools, Studies and Documents 49. Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2015. ISBN: 9789004245204.

Reviewed by Jordan Almanzar, Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen.

Dieter T. Roth has taken up the ambitious task of reconstructing the Gospel portion of Marcion’s “bible”. His objective is not a new one, as the first attempts to reassemble Marcion’s text are generally traced to the 18th century (Roth, 8). [Roth credits J.S. Semler as the first scholar to attempt a resemblance of Marcion’s text, however, he also mentions Richard Simon’s work from nearly a century earlier.] Even so, scholars have long awaited a book such as the one Dieter T. Roth has produced.Its value lies chiefly in the intentionally convenient layout, which is the result of Roth’s patient classification and arrangement of material. Therefore, the book can be immediately used and appreciated by anyone interested in Marcion’s Gospel. Most of the work is an explanation of the difficulties of the task along with details on the methods employed to do so; however, readers can begin using it as a reference tool at the outset.

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From Stoicism to Platonism

In Cambridge University Press, Early Christianity, Early Judaism, Eric Covington, Platonism, Troels ENGBERG-PEDERSEN on July 31, 2017 at 11:25 am

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2017.07.17 | Troels Engberg-Pedersen (ed.). From Stoicism to Platonism: The Development of Philosophy, 100BCE100 CE. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017. ISBN: 9781107166196.

Reviewed by Eric Covington, Howard Payne University. 

From Stoicism to Platonism: The Development of Philosophy, 100BCE100CE, edited by Troels Engberg-Pedersen, contains papers that emerged from a conference held in August 2014 at the Danish Royal Academy of Sciences in Copenhagen.  The tome brings together a veritable “Who’s Who” of researchers in the area of ancient philosophy in the first-century BCE and CE world in order to examine, as the title suggests, the interaction between Stoicism and Platonism during the period of 100BCE–100 CE.  The combined effect of the collected essays is to challenge the oft-repeated characterization of this philosophical period as a time of “eclecticism.”  This work nuances this designation and provides further clarity concerning the different types of philosophical interaction during the period and the broad philosophical development during the time that eventually led to the dominance of imperial Platonism by the second century (p. 10).  Read the rest of this entry »

Exegeting the Jews

In Brill, Gospel of John, Michael G. AZAR, Patristic exegesis, Simeon Burke on July 24, 2017 at 11:40 am

2017.07.16 | Michael G. Azar, Exegeting the Jews: The Early Reception of the Johannine “Jews”. The Bible in Ancient Christianity 10. Leiden: Brill, 2016. ISBN: 9789004308893

Reviewed by Simeon Burke, University of Edinburgh.

Following the Second World War, and particularly since the 1960s, scholars have simplistically described two millennia of Christian use of the “Johannine Jews” as “anti-Jewish”. This is the central claim of Michael Azar’s published Fordham doctoral thesis, Exegeting the Jews. Against this scholarly consensus, Azar enlists a trio of patristic authors – Origen, John Chrysostom and Cyril of Alexandria – each of whom applied John’s narrative of Jesus and the Johannine Jews in ways that do not easily conform to the categories and conclusions of the last fifty years of scholarship. The apparent hostility exhibited by the Fourth Gospel toward “the Jews” “did not function for Origen, Chrysostom and Cyril primarily as grounds for anti-Judaic sentiment, but rather as a scriptural resource for the spiritual formation and delineation of their Christian communities” (51). In other words, it was not “anti-Judaism” that fuelled their exegesis of the “Johannine Jews” but internal Christian concerns related to reading practices, ethics and orthodoxy.  Read the rest of this entry »

Letters from the Pillar Apostles

In 1 Peter, 2 Peter, Canon, Catholic Epistles, Darian LOCKETT, James, Johannine Epistles, Jude, Kelsie Rodenbiker, Pickwick on July 18, 2017 at 5:32 pm

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2017.07.15 | Darian R. Lockett. Letters from the Pillar Apostles: The Formation of the Catholic Epistles as a Canonical Collection. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2017. ISBN: 9781620327562.

Reviewed by Kelsie Rodenbiker, Durham University, UK.

In Letters from the Pillar Apostles, Lockett is concerned to establish the early legitimacy of the Catholic Epistles (CE) as a historically and hermeneutically plausible canonical collection and thus an equal New Testament (NT) sub-corpus alongside the fourfold Gospel and Pauline epistles (pp. xvii, xviii). Noting an oft-assumed discontinuity, Lockett states, “[r]ather than emphasizing composition (usually associated with the historical-critical approach) or canonization (associated with subsequent, ecclesial, and theological judgments) at the expense of the other, this project considers both in dialectical relationship” in order to demonstrate “that the process of editing, collecting, and arranging of these seven texts is neither anachronistic to their meaning nor antagonistic to their very composition” (p. xvi). Read the rest of this entry »

Clement’s Biblical Exegesis

In Brill, Clement of Alexandria, Jana PLATOVA, Judith L. KOVACS, Patristic exegesis, Robert G. T. Edwards, Veronika CERNUSKOVA on July 3, 2017 at 9:57 am

2017.07.14 | Veronika Černušková, Judith L. Kovacs, and Jana Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (Olomouc, May 29-31, 2014). Vigiliae Christianae Supplements 139. Leiden: Brill, 2017. ISBN: 9789004331235

Reviewed by Robert G. T. Edwards, University of Notre Dame.

Except for one essay, this book is based on papers presented three years ago at the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria in Olomouc, Czech Republic. Whereas the first Colloquium in 2010 focused on Book VII of the Stromateis, this one focused on Clement’s biblical exegesis. The collection of essays is introduced by Judith Kovacs’ comprehensive overview of scholarship and issues related to Clement’s exegesis (pp. 1-37); this essay combined with Jana Plátová’s exhaustive bibliography (pp. 38-52) ably represents the state of the field. After these introductory chapters, the book is divided into three major sections: Part 1, “Clement’s Exegetical Methods”; Part 2, “Clement between Philosophy and Biblical Theology”; and Part 3, “Clement’s Exegesis of Particular Biblical Texts.”

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The Formation of the Pentateuch

In Bernard M. Levinson, Dalit Rom-Shiloni, HB/OT, Jan C. Gertz, Konrad SCHMID, Mohr Siebeck, Pentateuch, Uncategorized, William L. Kelly on June 27, 2017 at 11:54 pm

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2017.06.13 | Gertz, Jan C., Bernard M. Levinson, Dalit Rom-Shiloni, and Konrad Schmid. The Formation of the Pentateuch: Bridging the Academic Cultures of Europe, Israel, and North America. Forschungen zum Alten Testament 111. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2016. pp. xi + 1204. ISBN: 978-3-16-153883-4.

Review by William L. Kelly, University of Edinburgh.

The Pentateuch, as the editors of this volume rightly point out, is one of the foundational texts in the humanities. For critical scholarship on the Hebrew Bible, few areas of research could claim to be as foundational, and equally few involve such a tremendous range of critical issues, methods, and approaches. Where did this literature come from? How was it written and from what sources did its writers draw? When did it become ‘scripture’ and what does that designation mean? And, considering the various paradigms and hypotheses to have emerged in the last century of scholarship, how can a diverse field build toward consensus? Addressing questions such as these with fifty-six peer-reviewed essays and more than twelve-hundred pages,The Formation of the Pentateuch is a substantial and valuable contribution to a vital area of study. Read the rest of this entry »

Matthew’s New David at the End of Exile

In Brill, David (king of Israel), Intertextuality, Matthew, Max Botner, Messianism, Nicholas PIOTROWSKI, Scripture on May 31, 2017 at 2:00 pm

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2017.05.12 | Nicholas G. Piotrowski, Matthew’s New David at the End of Exile: A Socio-Rhetorical Study of Scriptural Quotations. NovTSup 170. Leiden: Brill, 2016. ISBN: 9789004326781

Reviewed by Max Botner, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main.

Matthew’s use of the Jewish scriptures—particularly his fulfillment citations—has long perplexed modern readers. Has the evangelist ransacked his scriptures in a contorted effort to justify his Christology? Or is there another principle guiding his selection of scriptural source material? In this revised version of his 2013 Wheaton College dissertation “Scripture and Community: The Socio-Rhetorical Effect of Matthew’s Prologue Quotations,” Nicholas Piotrowski mounts a fresh and compelling argument for the latter. His thesis is that “the prologue-quotations, individually and collectively, select a frame that evokes one pervasive OT subplot: «David/end-of-exile»” (p. 4). Read the rest of this entry »