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Vol. 130 (2011) though current issue
The flagship journal of the field, the Journal of Biblical Literature is published quarterly and includes scholarly articles and critical notes by members of the Society.
The Book of Ecclesiastes is part of the "wisdom literature" of the Bible. It concerns itself with universal philosophical questions, rather than events in the history of Israel and in the Hebrews' covenant with God. Koheleth, the speaker in this book, ruminates on what -- if anything -- has lasting value, and how -- if at all -- God interacts with humankind. Koheleth expresses bewilderment and frustration at life's absurdities and injustices. He grapples with the inequities that pervade the world and the frailty and limitations of human wisdom and righteousness. His awareness of these discomfiting facts coexists with a firm believe in God's rule and God's fundamental justice, and he looks for ways to define a meaningful life in a world where so much is senseless. Ecclesiastes is traditionally read on the Jewish holiday Sukkot, the harvest festival.
The haftarot are an ancient part of Hebrew liturgy. These supplemental readings are excerpted from the Prophets (Nevi'im) and accompany each weekly Sabbath reading from the Torah as well as readings for special Sabbaths and festivals. Noted Bible scholar Michael Fishbane introduces each haftarah with an outline and discussion of how that passage conveys its meaning, and he follows it with observations on how it relates to the Torah portion or special occasion. Individual comments, citing classical rabbinic as well as modern commentators, highlight ambiguities and difficulties in the Hebrew text, which appears in concert with the JPS translation. The haftarot are also put into biblical context by a separate overview of all prophetic books (except Jonah) that are excerpted in the haftarah cycle.
The Origins of the Jewish Nation
We all know about King David and King Solomon, but what about the kings Omri and Uzziah? Of the more than fifty monarchs who sat on the throne of the Jews for over 1000 years, most of us can recall only a few. What we do remember about them has been colored by legend and embellishment. In Kings of the Jews, Norman Gelb tells us the real stories of them all. And in doing so, he reveals how a remarkably resilient people survived divisions, discord, and conquest to forge a vibrant identity that has lasted to the present day. Kings of the Jews explores some of the most dramatic periods in Jewish history: those of the united Israelite kingdom under David and Solomon, the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, the Babylonian exile, and the destruction of the Second Temple and the Roman conquest of Jerusalem. With illustrations, maps, chronologies, and index.
How can humans ever attain the knowledge required to administer and implement divine law and render perfect justice in this world? Contrary to the belief that religious law is infallible, Chaya T. Halberstam shows that early rabbinic jurisprudence is characterized by fundamental uncertainty. She argues that while the Hebrew Bible created a sense of confidence and transparency before the law, the rabbis complicated the paths to knowledge and undermined the stability of personal status and ownership, and notions of guilt or innocence. Examining the facts of legal judgments through midrashic discussions of the law and evidence, Halberstam discovers that rabbinic understandings of the law were riddled with doubt and challenged the possibility of true justice. This book thoroughly engages law, narrative, and theology to explicate rabbinic legal authority and its limits.
Nineteenth-Century Women Writing on Women in Genesis
The women of Genesis - Eve, Sarah, Hagar, Rebekah, Leah, and Rachel - intrigued and informed the lives of nineteenth-century women. These women read the biblical stories for themselves and looked for ways to expand, reinforce, or challenge the traditional understanding of women's lives. They communicated their readings of Genesis using diverse genres ranging from poetry to commentary.
Green Exegesis and Theology
The Bible and Christian tradition have, at best, offered an ambiguous word in response to Earth's environmental difficulties. At worst, a complex, often one-sided history of interpretation has left the Bible's voice silent. Aiming to bridge these gaps, Richard Bauckham mines scripture and theology, discovering a firm command for Christians to care for all of God's creation and then discusses the generations of theologians who have sought to live out this biblical mandate. Going beyond Old Testament human dominion, Living with Other Creatures consults scripture in its entirety and includes Jesus' perspectives on creation, novel approaches to reading the gospels, and some of the most well known"ecologists"throughout Christian history. The result is an innovative and enriching treatise that reminds readers of God's whole creation—and humanity's place within it.
Characterization as Narrative Christology
Noted biblical scholar Elizabeth Struthers Malbon asks a literary question in this landmark volume: how does the Markan narrative characterise Jesus? Through a close narrative analysis, she carefully examines various ways the Gospel discloses its central character. The result is a multi-layered Markan narrative christology, focusing not only on what the narrator and other characters say about Jesus (pro-jected christology), but also on what Jesus says in response to what these others say to and about him (deflected christology), what Jesus says instead about himself and God (refracted christology), what Jesus does (enacted christology), and how what other characters do is related to what Jesus says and does (reflected christology). Holding significant implications for those who wish to use Mark's Gospel to make claims about the historical Jesus, as well as for those who wish to use Mark's Gospel to construct confessions about the church's belief, Malbon's research is a groundbreaking work of scholarship.
Rethinking Morton Smith’s Controversial Discovery
Did the evangelist Mark write two versions of his gospel? According to a letter ascribed to Clement of Alexandria, Mark created a second, more spiritual edition of his gospel for theologically advanced Christians in Alexandria. Clement’s letter contains two excerpts from this lost gospel, including a remarkably different account of the raising of Lazarus.
Forty-five years of cursory investigation have yielded five mutually exclusive paradigms, abundant confusion, and rumours of forgery. Strangely, one of the few things upon which most investigators agree is that the letter’s own explanation of the origin and purpose of this longer gospel need not be taken seriously.
Mark’s Other Gospel: Rethinking Morton Smith’s Controversial Discovery calls this pervasive bias into question. After thoroughly critiquing the five main paradigms, Scott G. Brown demonstrates that the gospel excerpts not only sound like Mark, but also employ Mark’s distinctive literary techniques, deepening this gospels theology and elucidating puzzling aspects of its narrative. This mystic gospel represents Mark’s own response to the Alexandrian predilection to discover the essential truths of a philosophy beneath the literal level of revered texts.
The Texts @ Contexts series gathers scholarly voices from diverse contexts and social locations to bring new or unfamiliar facets of biblical texts to light. Matthew sheds new light from new perspectives on themes in the Gospel including community; land, labor, and Empire; children, parents, and families; health and disabilities; and border-crossings. The authors challenge us to consider how we deal with cultural distances between ourselves and these ancient writings—and between one another in the contemporary world.
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.