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Bible, Philosophy, and the Art of Translation
Jews from all ages have translated the Bible for their particular times and needs, but what does the act of translation mean? Aaron W. Hughes believes translation has profound implications for Jewish identity. The Invention of Jewish Identity presents the first sustained analysis of Bible translation and its impact on Jewish philosophy from the medieval period to the 20th century. Hughes examines some of the most important Jewish thinkers -- Saadya Gaon, Moses ibn Ezra, Maimonides, Judah Messer Leon, Moses Mendelssohn, Martin Buber, and Franz Rosenzweig -- and their work on biblical narrative, to understand how linguistic and conceptual idioms change and develop into ideas about the self. The philosophical issues behind Bible translation, according to Hughes, are inseparable from more universal sets of questions that affect Jewish life and learning.
Was God being ironic in commanding Eve not to eat fruit from the tree of wisdom? Carolyn J. Sharp suggests that many stories in the Hebrew Scriptures may be ironically intended. Deftly interweaving literary theory and exegesis, Sharp illumines the power of the unspoken in a wide variety of texts from the Pentateuch, the Prophets, and the Writings. She argues that reading with irony in mind creates a charged and open rhetorical space in the texts that allows character, narration, and authorial voice to develop in unexpected ways. Main themes explored here include the ironizing of foreign rulers, the prostitute as icon of the ironic gaze, indeterminacy and dramatic irony in prophetic performance, and irony in ancient Israel's wisdom traditions. Sharp devotes special attention to how irony destabilizes dominant ways in which the Bible is read today, especially when it touches on questions of conflict, gender, and the Other.
Polemic and Exegesis in Rashi and the Glossa Ordinaria
Devorah Schoenfeld's new work offers an in-depth examination of two of the most influential Christian and Jewish Bible commentaries of the High Middle Ages. The Glossa Ordinaria and Rashi's commentary were standard texts for Bible study in the High Middle Ages, and Rashi's influence continues to the present day. Although Rashi's commentary and the Glossa developed at the same time with no known contact between them, they shared a way of reading text that shaped their interpretations of the central religious narrative of the Binding of Isaac. Schoenfeld's text examines each commentary unto itself and offers a detailed comparison, one that illustrates the similarities between Rashi and the Gloss that derive not merely from their shared late antique heritage but also from their common twelfth-century context, and the Jewish-Christian polemic in which they both, implicitly or explicitly, take part.
In Jeremiah and God's Plans of Well-being, Barbara Green explores the prophet Jeremiah as a literary persona of the biblical book through seven periods of his prophetic ministry, focusing on the concerns and circumstances that shaped his struggles. Having confronted the vast complexity of scholarly issues found in the Book of Jeremiah, Green has chosen to examine the literary presentation of the prophet rather than focus on the precise historical details or the speculative processes of composition. What Green exposes is a prophet affected by the dire circumstances of his life, struggling consistently, but ultimately failing at his most urgent task of persuasion. In the first chapter Green examines Jeremiah’s predicament as he is called to minister and faces royal opposition to his message. She then isolates the central crisis of mission, the choice facing Judah, and the sin repeatedly chosen. Delving into the tropes of Jeremiah’s preaching and prophecy, she also analyses the struggle and lament that express Jeremiah’s inability to succeed as an intermediary between God and his people. Next Green explores the characterizations of the kings with whom Jeremiah struggled and his persistence in his ministry despite repeated imprisonment, and, finally, Green focuses on Jeremiah’s thwarted choice to remain in Judah at the end of the first temple period and his descent into Egypt after the assassination of Gedaliah. In Jeremiah and God's Plans of Well-being, Green shows the prophet as vulnerable, even failing at times, while suggesting the significance of his assignment and unlikelihood of success. She explores the complexities of the phenomenon of prophecy and the challenges of preaching unwelcome news during times of uncertainty and crisis. Ultimately Green provides a fresh treatment of a complex biblical text and prophet. In presenting Jeremiah as a literary figure, Green considers how his character continues to live on in the traditions of Judaism and Christianity today.
Historiography, the Historical Jesus, and Atonement Theory
Recent scholarship on the historical Jesus has rightly focused upon how Jesus understood his own mission. But no scholarly effort to understand the mission of Jesus can rest content without exploring the historical possibility that Jesus envisioned his own death. In this careful and far-reaching study, Scot McKnight contends that Jesus did in fact anticipate his own death, that Jesus understood his death as an atoning sacrifice, and that his death as an atoning sacrifice stood at the heart of Jesus' own mission to protect his own followers from the judgment of God.
Traditions in Oral and Scribal Perspectives
Few scholars have influenced New Testament scholarship in the areas of orality, memory, and tradition more profoundly than Birger Gerhardsson. Today, as these topics have again become important in biblical scholarship, his pioneering work takes on a new light. Though the esteemed contributors may differ on issues in the burgeoning study, they have all enthusiastically taken on the dual task of evaluating Gerhardsson’s contribution anew and bringing his insights up to date within the current debate.
Additional contributors are Loveday Alexander (University of Sheffield), David E. Aune (University of Notre Dame), Martin S. Jaffee (University of Washington), Alan Kirk (James Madison University), Terence Mournet (North American Baptist Seminary), and Christopher Tuckett (University of Oxford/Pembroke College).
Beyond The Oral and the Written Gospels
Werner Kelber's The Oral and the Written Gospel (1983) introduced biblical scholars to interdisciplinary trends in the study of ancient media culture. The book is now widely recognized as a milestone and it has spurred wide-ranging scholarship. On the twenty-fifth anniversary of its publication, new developments in orality theory, literacy theory, and social approaches to memory call for a programmatic reappraisal of past research and future directions. This volume address these concerns. Kelber himself is interviewed at the beginning of the book and, in a closing essay, he reflects on the significance of the project and charts a course for the future.
A JPS Guide
This new volume in the acclaimed JPS Guides series is an invaluable companion to the Jewish Bible, providing readers with ready access to important facts and Bible basics: # how the Bible became the "Bible"; its origins, content, and organization # distinctions between the Jewish Bible (the Tanakh) and Christian Bibles # a short history of Bible translations, and how they differ # Bible commentaries # storytelling, poetry, law, prophecy, and Wisdom literature # popular methods of Bible study # finding meaning through midrash In addition, there are summaries of all the biblical books; dozens of text boxes; an extensive glossary of Bible terms, places, and people; maps, charts, and tables; and large foldout timelines and family trees--all in color. Contributions are by leading Bible scholars and educators: Marc Zvi Brettler, Joyce Eisenberg, Michael Fishbane, Michael V. Fox, Leonard Greenspoon, Jill Hammer, Stuart Kelman, Adriane Leveen, David Mandel, Lionel Moses, Shalom Paul, Benjamin Edidin Scolnic, Ellen Scolnic, David E. S. Stein, Barry Dov Walfish, and Andrea Weiss.
The Gospel in Literary Imagination
Thomas Gardner artistically describes Jesus—"the Word made flesh"—as a poem penned by God for the world, and John—author of the Fourth Gospel—as the poem's interpreter. John's structural patterns, repetitions, and narrative interventions invite readers to experience for themselves the beauty of the divine poem. John in the Company of Poets deepens this invitation by re-imagining the biblical text through the eyes of such artists as Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Wendell Berry, and T. S. Eliot, offering a literary reading of the Gospel based upon their powerful poetic replies. Poets are our best readers, contends Gardner, and his deft analysis forges a fresh path into the issues and tensions of John's Gospel.
Like other volumes in the Texts @ Contexts series, these essays de-center the often homogeneous first-world orientation of much biblical scholarship and open up new possibilities for discovery.