The last few months have been pretty busy. As such, I haven’t had much opportunity to write for The Biblical Review. One of the unforeseen consequences is that I haven’t been tracking forthcoming and recently released books. In this post, then, I offer a list of various volumes. For each volume, I include the subject matter along with why I am interested in the book. (Please forgive any typographical errors.)
Authoritative Writings in Early Judaism and Early Christianity: Their Origin, Collection, and Meaning, edited by Tobias Nicklas and Jens Schröter. (Link)
“The articles in this collection start with the assumption that the authorization of writings had already begun in Israel and Judaism before the emergence of Christianity and was continued in the first centuries CE by Judaism and Christianity in their respective ways. They deal with a broad range of sources, such as writings which came to be part of the Hebrew Bible, literature from Qumran, the Septuagint, or early Jewish apocalypses. At the same time they deal, for example, with structures of authorization related to New Testament writings, examine the role of authoritative texts in so-called Gnostic schools, and discuss the authority of late antique apocryphal literature.”
Although I am not particularly interested in the New Testament, I am always interested in the notion of authoritative writings and how texts became authoritative.
Un YHWH venant du Sud? by Fabian Pfitzmann. (Link)
Though I have not dealt with much scholar about Yahweh from the south, I interested in perusing this book, as it may contain some helpful summaries about the current state of scholarship on this subject.
Sovereign Authority and the Elaboration of Law in the Bible and the Ancient Near East, by Dylan Johnson. (Link)
“Five Pentateuchal texts (Lev 24:10–23; Num 9:6–14; Num 15:32–36; Num 27:1–11; Num 36:1–12) offer unique visions of the elaboration of law in Israel’s formative past. In response to individual legal cases, Yahweh enacts impersonal and general statutes reminiscent of biblical and ancient Near Eastern law collections. From the perspective of comparative law, Dylan R. Johnson proposes a new understanding of these texts as biblical rescripts: a legislative technique that enabled sovereigns to enact general laws on the basis of particular legal cases. Typological parallels drawn from cuneiform and Roman law illustrate the complex ideology informing the content and the form of these five cases. The author explores how latent conceptions of law, justice, and legislative sovereignty shaped these texts, and how the Priestly vision of law interacted with and transformed earlier legal traditions.”
Like some of the other books, I’m not interested in reading this; however, I am interested in reading some thorough book reviews and getting a sense of Johnson’s contributions and arguments.
The Pillars of the First Temple (1 Kgs 7,15–22): A Study from Ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, Archaeological, and Iconographic Perspectives, by Daniel Prokop. (Link)
“The columns referred to as Jachin and Boaz are certainly one of the most controversial features of the First Temple of Jerusalem. In this volume, Daniel Prokop examines the appearance and the meaning of the twin pillars by approaching them from different perspectives. He investigates the epigraphic evidence from Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Syria-Palestine, defines the relationship between the six different descriptions in the Hebrew Bible, and compares the most important textual witnesses of 1 Kgs 7,15–22, which will provide insight into the narrative development and transmission history of the texts. Studying iconographic data, the author explores a unique way to achieve a better understanding of the material, dimensions, names, location, and decoration of the pillars.”
Dealing with epigraphic and iconographic data in any study can be fruitful, illuminating ambiguous passages in the Hebrew Bible. As such, I am interested not just in how Prokop uses such data but also how he analyzes each data point independent of 1 Kings 7:5–22.
Researching Metaphor in the Ancient Near East, edited by Marta Pallavidini and Ludovico Portuese. (Link)
“This volume edited by Marta Pallavidini and Ludovico Portuese aims to research metaphor from different perspectives by considering its presence in ancient Near Eastern written documents. The contributions focus on several ancient Near Eastern cultures and encompass more than two millennia as well as examine various topics, from Sumerian literature, to Hittite written sources, to Neo-Assyrian art to the Biblical world.”
Simply put, metaphors are important to understand and analyze, as most language is metaphor. As such, the chronological and geographical span of this volume may be extraordinarily helpful for thinking about metaphor.
Writing World History in Late Ming China and the Perception of Maritime Asia, by Elke Papelitzky. (Link)
“This book by Elke Papelitzky studies each of the seven author’s knowledge and perception of the world and focuses especially on the countries connected with China at the maritime border: Siam, Malacca, and Portugal, combining a close textual and paratextual analysis with a biographical study to understand why the authors wrote the texts the way they did. This is the first comprehensive introduction to these texts contributing to an understanding of late Ming historiography as well as the perception of foreign countries by late Ming scholars.”
Although I am not particularly interested int he details of late Ming scholars, I am interested in some of the broader historiographical patterns that Papelitzky identifies, as they may prove to be interesting comparisons to Near Eastern and biblical texts.
The Crimean Karaim Bible, edited by Henryk Jankowski et al. (Link)
“The Bible was the most important canonical book of the Karaites, but only short fragments or individual books have been published. The present two-volume publication is a critical edition of approximately a half of Crimean Karaim Bible. Volume I contains the transcription of sixteen biblical books, the Pentateuch, i.e., Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; the Five Scrolls, i.e., the Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, and Ecclesiastes; as well as six books of the Writings, i.e., the Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. Volume II contains the English translation of all biblical books provided in volume I. The transcription is based on the most complete manuscript from Cambridge and a few other manuscripts, including the earliest ones. Therefore, this is the first publication that makes large portions of the Bible accessible to the reader. Although the oldest known datable manuscripts go back to the seventeenth century, the language of Karaim translation is more archaic. This edition is an important source for the study of Middle Karaim and Middle Turkic languages. The edited text is provided with numerous comments and the introduction traces the history of research. All this is important for the study on the Crimean Karaim Bible since Ebenezer Henderson’s seminal study of 1828.”
These volume consists of what is seemingly an understudied portion of Jewish history as well as biblical manuscripts. As a whole, using this volume as a reference may yield some important divergences between it and other manuscripts.
Writing and Rewriting History in Ancient Israel and Near Eastern Cultures, edited by Isaac Kalimi. (Link)
“Most of the papers collected in this volume were delivered at the conference held in June 2018, Mainz. They discuss recent developments in the analysis of history and historiography in ancient Israel and its surrounding cultures. The scholars compare the compositional and editorial approaches evident in biblical and post-biblical writings with those shown in other ancient literature, while concentrating on a specific theme.”
On issues of historiography, especially when it is related to religious studies issues, I suspect this volume may offer a helpful over of a multitude of debates and discourse about the Hebrew Bible, such as the relationship between Ezekiel 16 and Gilgamesh, the Queen of Heaven, and broader methodological discussion about historiography and the bible.
Building in Assyria: A Philological Perspective, by Johanna Tudea. (Link)
“Johanna Tudeau offers with this book a sketch of the practice and ideology of building in Assyria based on textual evidence. The study focuses on the Assyrian royal inscriptions and state archives, two of the most comprehensive textual corpora available on the topic. The temporal and spatial framework is necessarily broad, from the rise to the fall of Assyria, from one end of the empire to the other. This stands in contrast with a targeted terminological approach: architectural keywords structure the chapters and these follow the stages of the building process. The findings come together in a chapter devoted to the modern significance of ancient realities, where grounds for the investigation and interpretation of space are proposed to serve philologists and archaeologists alike, hopefully facilitating the exchange between disciplines.”
This volume looks interesting for two reasons. First, considering the intensity of debates about the Hebrew Bible, history, material culture, and archaeology, the book may serve as a guide book for folks engaged in biblical studies. Second, with portions Ezekiel, Numbers, and Leviticus spend so much time describing physical structures, in will be interesting to Tudea’s conclusions about building in Assyria based on textual evidence.
Between Temple and TombThe Demotic Ritual Texts of Bodl. MS. Egypt. a. 3(P), by Mark Smith. (Link)
“The ritual texts edited in this volume offer an excellent opportunity to explore these and related issues. Most of them are known to have been employed both for the benefit of the god Osiris and for ordinary deceased people, in certain cases, during one and the same period of Egypt’s history. This is one of their most interesting and striking features. They stand at the interface between temple cult and cult of the dead and allow us to trace the transmission of beliefs and practices from one sphere to the other.”
From my experience, folks frequently ignore Demotic texts. That said, ritual text about death rituals, the Osirian temple cult, private funerary cults, and their fluidity sounds interesting and fun. Plus, there is quite a bit of work in biblical studies on material culture, death, and the Hebrew Bible. As such, this volume may have some interesting nuggets of information.
Legal Documents in Ancient Societies: Accounts and Bookkeeping in the Ancient World, by Andrea Jördens and Uri Yiftach. (Link)
“The volume is dedicated to an early and seemingly ubiquitous type of text, which often followed certain classification criteria and which, for the sake of easier clarity, was gladly subjected to a specially developed layout. In addition to the discussions of individual artefacts or artefact groups as well as literary texts, there are considerations of ancient and modern terminology, the choice of writing media used for this purpose, the bodies entrusted with data collection, the purposes pursued with it, the further processing and archiving of the collected data as well as their organisation at the various levels of administration.”
This volume contains a wide range of content. With so little evidence for Israelite/Judean scribal and bookkeeping practices, it could serve as an interesting point of comparison with biblical texts. Likewise, it just looks interesting.
Yahweh before IsraelGlimpses of History in a Divine Name, by Daniel Fleming. (Link)
While the book has no description yet, the content sounds intriguing, at least based on the title.
Divine Aggression in Psalms and Inscriptions: Vengeful Gods and Loyal Kings, by Collin Cornell. (Link)
“The aggression of the biblical God named Yhwh is notorious. Students of theology, the Bible, and the Ancient Near East know that the Hebrew Bible describes Yhwh acting destructively against his client country, Israel, and against its kings. But is Yhwh uniquely vengeful, or was he just one among other, similarly ferocious patron gods? To answer this question, Collin Cornell compares royal biblical psalms with memorial inscriptions. He finds that the Bible shares deep theological and literary commonalities with comparable texts from Israel’s ancient neighbours. The centrepiece of both traditions is the intense mutual loyalty of gods and kings. In the event that the king’s monument and legacy comes to harm, gods avenge their individual royal protégé. In the face of political inexpedience, kings honour their individual divine benefactor.”
I am particularly interested in seeing how Cornell draws together memorial inscriptions and biblical psalms, especially in light of recent research on funerary inscriptions.
The Fundamentals of Hebrew Accents: Divisions and Exegetical Roles beyond Syntax, by Sung Jin Park. (Link)
“This book is designed to serve as a textbook for intermediate Hebrew students and above. Sung Jin Park presents the fundamental features of the Tiberian Hebrew accents, focusing on their divisions and exegetical roles. Providing innovative methods for diagramming biblical texts, the volume explores the two major rules (hierarchy and dichotomy) of disjunctive accents. Students will also attain biblical insights from the exegetical application of the biblical texts that Hebrew syntax alone does not provide. Park’s volume shows how the new perspectives on Hebrew accents enhance our understanding of biblical texts.”
As Tiberian Hebrew accents weren’t discussed extensively in my training, I am interested, generally, in what Sung Jin Park will bring to the table.
Genres of Rewriting in Second Temple Judaism: Scribal Composition and Transmission, by Molly M. Zahn. (Link)
d“In this book, Molly Zahn investigates how early Jewish scribes rewrote their authoritative traditions in the course of transmitting them, from minor edits in the course of copying to whole new compositions based on prior works. Scholars have detected evidence for rewriting in a wide variety of textual contexts, but Zahn’s is the first book to map manuscripts and translations of biblical books, so-called ‘parabiblical’ compositions, and the sectarian literature from Qumran in relation to one another. She introduces a new, adaptable set of terms for talking about rewriting, using the idea of genre as a tool to compare and contrast different cases. Although rewriting has generally been understood as a vehicle for biblical interpretation, Zahn moves beyond that framework to demonstrate that rewriting was a pervasive textual strategy in the Second Temple period. Her book contributes to a powerful new model of early Jewish textuality, illuminating the rich and diverse culture out of which both rabbinic Judaism and early Christianity eventually emerged.”
Simply put, I am interested in seeing what Zahn offers, especially in light books like Eva Mroczek’s The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiqutiy, which, while I haven’t had the opportunity, I look forward to reading.
The Egyptian Priests of the Graeco-Roman Period: An Analysis of the Basis of the Egyptian and Graeco-Roman Literary and Paraliterary Sources, by Marina Escolano-Poveda. (Link)
“Marina Escolano-Poveda offers for the first time a detailed analysis of the most relevant Egyptian priestly characters from Egyptian and Graeco-Roman literary and paraliterary sources. The examination of these sources contrasts the self-presentation of Egyptian priests in texts created and circulated within the temple environment with images presented by outside sources, providing a solid base to analyze how these figures were seen in their historical milieu. In the second part of the book, the results of the previous analysis are contrasted with a series of widely-used models employed to understand the historical and intellectual context of Egyptian religion and the Egyptian priesthood in the Graeco-Roman period, questioning the usefulness and applicability of such models.”
I am interested in this book for two reasons. First, I would like to understand better Egyptian religion of the 1st millennium. Second, I am generally interested in priestly construction during this period on account of Judeans, or whatever we want to call them, living in Egypt.
Judging Faith, Punish Sin: Inquisitions and Consistories in the Early Modern World, edited by Charles H. Parker and Gretchen Starr-LeBeau. (Link)
“Rooted in local archives and addressing specific themes, the essays survey the state of scholarship and chart directions for future inquiry and, taken as a whole, demonstrate the unique convergence of penitential practice, legal innovation, church authority, and state power, and how these forces transformed Christianity.”
While outside the boundaries of Judaism and Hebrew Bible proper, I have been interested in the notion of so-called sin as of late. So, I am interested in see what this volume contributes in terms of construction of sin/social transgression in the early modern world.
Demons, Angels, and Writing in Ancient Judaism, by Annette Yoshiko Reed. (Link)
I wont’ even include the description here because I have heard nothing but good things about Reed’s work. I look forward to reading it!
God’s Law and Order: The Politics of Punishment in Evangelical America, by Aaron Griffith. (Link)
“America incarcerates on a massive scale. Despite recent reforms, the United States locks up large numbers of people—disproportionately poor and nonwhite—for long periods and offers little opportunity for restoration. Aaron Griffith reveals a key component in the origins of American mass incarceration: evangelical Christianity.”
To criticize and reflect on our interpretations of sin in the Hebrew Bible, it is necessary to recognize the history of how the US Christianity, namely, evangelical Christianity, constructed, fought for, and established norms for social transgressions.
The Origins of the Bible in Early Modern Political Thought: Revelation and the Boundaries of Scripture, by Travis DeCook. (Link)
“Travis DeCook explores the theological and political innovations found in early modern accounts of the Bible’s origins. In the charged climate produced by the Reformation and humanist historicism, writers grappled with the tension between the Bible’s divine and human aspects, and they produced innovative narratives regarding the agencies and processes through which the Bible came into existence and was transmitted. DeCook investigates how these accounts of Scripture’s production were taken up beyond the expected boundaries of biblical study, and were redeployed as the theological basis for wide-reaching arguments about the proper ordering of human life.”
The Reformation, the Bible’s divine origins, and humanity? This sounds great to me. It also contributes (likely) to understand early discourse about biblical authority that shaped the field of biblical studies. Perhaps. We’ll have to see.
Reconstructing the Temple: The Royal Rhetoric of Temple Renovation in the Ancient Near East and Israel, by Andrew R. Davis. (Link)
Though this book has been out for a while, I remain interested in reading it.
A History of Death in the Hebrew Bible, by Matthew Suriano. (Link)
Like the previous book, this has been out for a while. Perhaps I will finally be able to read it in the next few months!
The Emergence of Sin: Cosmic Tyrant in Romans, by Matthew Croasmun. (Link)
With my current interest in sin, this volume looks particularly interesting, especially as the description says that sin is “an emergent feature of a vast human network of transgression.” I have no idea what to expect. Also, it is a few years old. Even so, I am interested.
Philo of Alexandria: On the Contemplative Life; Introduction, Translation and Commentary, by Joan E. Taylor and David M. Hay. (Link)
It’s always good to familiarize myself with classics, especially when they include new commentary and an updated bibliography.
Isaiah, Septuagint Commentary Series, by Ken Penner. (Link)
This commentary, introduction, and translation may be helpful for me when I write my review of Roberts’s commentary on First Isaiah.
Three Hundred Years of Death: The Egyptian Funerary Industry in the Ptolematic Empire, by Maria Cannata. (Link)
“Maria Cannata provides a detailed survey of the organisation of the necropolises and the funerary workers, as well as their role in the practical aspects of the mummification, funeral, burial, and mortuary cult of the deceased, in Ptolemaic Egypt (332-30 BC). The author gathers together and synthesises hundreds of the original textual sources, as well as the relevant archaeological sources, on the organisation of the funerary industry and its practitioners, revealing important regional and chronological variations overlooked in studies focusing on a limited geographical area, a shorter timeframe, or a smaller group of documents.”
As I already noted, death and funerals is a hot topic these days. This may yield some interesting nuggets of information.
The Meaning of Color in Ancient Mesopotamia, by Shiyanthi Thavapalan. (Link)
“Shiyanthi Thavapalan offers the first in-depth study of the words and expressions for colors in the Akkadian language (c. 2500-500 BCE). By combining philological analysis with the technical investigation of materials, she debunks the misconception that people in Mesopotamia had a limited sense of color and positions the development of Akkadian color language as a corollary of the history of materials and techniques in the ancient Near East.”
Colors are important in biblical texts, such as Leviticus, Exodus, and Isaiah 1. So, some insight on color would be nice.
The Expression of Emotions in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, edited by Shih-Wei Hsu and Jaume Llop Raduà. (Link)
The content in this book could be useful for comparison with biblical and Jewish texts.