Biblical Exegesis in Second Temple Literature (Bar Ilan)

Below are videos of the papers from the “Biblical Exegesis in Second Temple Literature” section of the conference “Biblical Exegesis through the Ages” at Bar-Ilan University on May 9, 2018.

דבורה דימנט (אוניברסיטת חיפה) ‘כתוב בספר’: ספרים ולוחות בספרות ארמית יהודית מימי הבית השני

Moshe J. Bernstein (Yeshiva University), “Reading the Genesis Apocryphon as Biblical Commentary”

 

Michael Segal (Hebrew University), “Early Biblical Exegesis in the Septuagint”

 

אסתי אשל (אוניברסיטת בר-אילן), “ושאלו להון ספרא וחכמתא וקושטא” :לימוד והעברת ידע במגילה החיצונית ובספרות קרובה

Lawrence H. Schiffman (New York University), “Biblical Exegesis in the Temple Scroll”

James Kugel (Bar-Ilan University), “The Legendization of Midrash in Second Temple Time”

 

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Sidnie White Crawford, “The History of Qumran and its Library: A New Synthesis”

Professor Sidnie White Crawford (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) summarises the latest scholarship on the Qumran library of 800-900 fragmentary manuscripts from the mid-third century BCE to the late first century CE, and the history of the sect responsible for the collection and its scribal/learned characteristics. Her public lecture was delivered on January 25, 2018, on the occasion of receiving a D.Theol honoris causa from the University of Uppsala.

James Crossley on Cults, Martyrs and Good Samaritans

Professor James Crossley (St Mary’s University) presents a paper drawn from his book, Cults, Martyrs and Good SamaritansReligion in Contemporary English Political Discourse (Pluto Press, July 2018). The paper was presented at the CSSSB conference, Christian Origins and Social-Scientific Criticism, on May 25, 2018 (Crossley appears at 2:50)  There were two responses to his paper, from Dr Hannah M. Strømmen (University of Chichester) and Professor Yvonne Sherwood (University of Kent), not included in the video. 

Philip Davies on Dead Sea Scrolls and Historicity of Hebrew Bible

The Bible Odyssey website provides four videos in which the late Professor Emeritus Philip Davies (1945-2018) discussed the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls for Judaism and biblical scholarship, and the non-historicity of Kings David and Solomon.

1. Philip R. Davies on the Dead Sea Scrolls and the plurality within early Judaism.

2. Philip R. Davies on how the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has affected biblical scholarship

3. Philip R. Davies on whether Solomon and David existed.

4. Philip R. Davies on what the Tel Dan inscription may or may not say.

John Barclay, Firth Lectures: Gift-Reciprocity and Community Construction in the New Testament

On 17 and 18 April, Professor John Barclay (University of Durham) delivered the two 2018 Firth lectures at the University of Nottingham, entitled “Beyond Charity: Gift-Reciprocity and Community Construction in the New Testament”.

John Barclay also led a postgraduate seminar on 18 April, “Reciprocity and Risk at the Economic Margin: Some Early Christian Examples”.

His most recent major book is a study of Pauline theology from the perspective of his theology of grace, called Paul and the Gift (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015). If we read Paul’s theology of grace in the light of ancient notions of gift, Barclay argues we can understand in a new way his relationship to Judaism, his theology of the Christ-event and his ethic of reciprocal generosity. Paul and the Gift explores the theological and social significance of the incongruity of grace in the formation of innovative communities, going beyond Sanders and the current antithesis between old and new perspectives on Paul. This book, focusing on divine gift/grace, is the first of a two-part series.

Simon Gathercole on Crucifixion and Resurrection in the Gospel of Peter

Dr Simon Gathercole (Cambridge University) delivered the third Lagrange Lecture at the École biblique et archéologique française de Jérusalem, on May 2, 2018, entitled “The Death and Resurrection of Jesus in the Gospel of Peter”.

Gathercole examines how the Gospel of Peter takes the traditions in the canonical gospels, and rearranges them, in part in order to blame “the Jews”.

 

The Phoenicians never existed: Josephine Quinn

Associate Professor Josephine Quinn (University of Oxford) discusses her book, In Search of the Phoenicians (Princeton University Press, 2017), with responses by Hindy Najman (University of Oxford) and Stephanie Dalley (Oriental Studies, University of Oxford). The panel is chaired by John Watts (University of Oxford). The panel took place on April 25, 2018, as is part of the University of Oxford’s Book at Lunchtime series.

The Phoenicians traveled the Mediterranean long before the Greeks and Romans, trading, establishing settlements, and refining the art of navigation. But who these legendary sailors really were has long remained a mystery. In Search of the Phoenicians makes the startling claim that the “Phoenicians” never actually existed. Taking readers from the ancient world to today, this monumental book argues that the notion of these sailors as a coherent people with a shared identity, history, and culture is a product of modern nationalist ideologies—and a notion very much at odds with the ancient sources.

  • Torch: The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities

Yair Zakovitch on the Song of Songs versus Biblical Narrative

On February 21, 2018, Professor emeritus Yair Zakovitch (Hebrew University) delivered the first 2018 Lagrange lecture at the École biblique et archéologique française de Jérusalem, entitled “On Love and Beauty: The Complex Relations between the Song of Songs and Biblical Narrative.”

For decades it has been customary—indeed nearly academic dogma—to isolate the literary traditions of the Song from wider biblical traditions, especially prophetic literature and the scriptural narratives recounting Israel’s story. Recently, however, some scholars have begun to press arguments for recognizing inter-biblical allusions in the Song, working to re-integrate this unique specimen of biblical love-poetry within a broader biblical thought-world. The presentation of Prof. Zakovitch belongs within this budding debate and provided a sneak preview of material that will soon appear in his forthcoming study: The Song of Songs: Riddle of Riddles (T&T Clark, September 2018).

Thomas Römer on the Ark of the Covenant

Romer - Ark of the CovenantProfessor Thomas Römer (Collège de France) delivered the second Lagrange Lecture on April 25, 2018, at the École biblique et archéologique française in Jerusalem, entitled “Biblical Traditions about the Ark of the Covenant”.

The lecture begins at 3:15.

With careful attention to various diachronic puzzles posed by the often-confusing and incomplete biblical reports, Römer proposed the tentative outlines of a revisionist history of this fascinating cult object. From its mysterious origins in Shiloh to its temporary sojourn at Kiriath Yearim—for a much longer period than the biblical account would admit—the Ark belongs within a decentralized picture of Israelite worship in Römer’s view. Along these lines, Römer raised the possibility that the chest may have originally contained twinned cult stones, perhaps of YHWH and Asherah. The Ark’s ultimate, ceremonial transfer into Jerusalem should perhaps be dated to the time of Josiah and the politics of centralization, he suggests, while the account of its migrations through the Philistine cities may reflect earlier political tensions from the time of Hezekiah.

The Database of Military Inscriptions and Papyri of Early Roman Palestine

Dr Christopher Zeichmann (University of Toronto) has made available a very useful database for the study of early Christianity:  The Database of Military Inscriptions and Papyri of Early Roman Palestine (DMIPERP).

This site is designed to aid the study of the military in the early Roman period for those interested in Judaism and Christianity of the first few centuries CE….

DMIPERP entries are divided roughly as follows: entries 1-132 were all found in Palestine and listed in roughly chronological order; entries 133-201 were texts not found in Palestine but discuss either the military in Palestine or those of a Palestinian background (esp. Jews and Gentiles born in Palestine); entries 202-224 are all surviving military diplomas for Judaea and Syria Palaestina; entries 225-296 are military diplomas of units or people originating in Palestine; entries 297-340 are Palestinian milestones erected by the military; entries 341-362 are all known pre-Constantinian military inscriptions involving Christians. There are 372 entries in total, with new entries being added following that number.

Taylor Weaver on Paul, Gifting, and Class Struggle

Taylor Weaver (University of Kent) presents his talk on Class Struggle and Early Christianity, delivered to the Religious Studies department at the University of Kent, February 2018. The talk is available on YouTube, in two parts:

Introduction to the Quran: The Scripture of Islam

A Notre Dame edX course begins today (February 20, 2018) with the foremost scholar on the sources of the Qur’an, Gabriel Reynolds: “Introduction to the Quran: The Scripture of Islam”.

Enrol here for free.

About this course

According to Islamic tradition, the Quran is not simply an inspired scripture. It is a divine book brought down from heaven by the angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad, and its message is the key to heaven. Join us for an exploration of the scripture that is the word of God to over a billion people.

This course will introduce you to various aspects of the Quran, including its basic message, the historical context in which it originated, the diverse ways in which Muslims have interpreted it, and its surprisingly intimate relationship with the Bible. By the end of the course, you will gain an appreciation for the perspectives of Muslim believers and academic scholars alike on the origins and the meaning of the Islamic scripture. No background in Islam or Arabic is necessary for this course.

What you’ll learn

  • Basic organization, structure, and literary style of the Quran

  • The Quran’s role within Islam and its meaning to Muslims

  • Traditional Islamic and critical academic perspectives on the origin of the Quran

  • Strategies utilized within the Quran to construct persuasive arguments

  • Place of Biblical characters and traditions within the Quran

  • Analysis of the Quran from an academic perspective

#MeToo Jesus: Jesus as Victim of Sexual Abuse

On 16 January 2018, Dr Jayme Reaves (Public theologian, Dorset) and Professor David Tombs (University of Otago) delivered the joint paper “#MeToo Jesus: Why Naming Jesus as a Victim of Sexual Abuse Matters”, a Shiloh Project lecture at the University of Sheffield.

 

The #MeToo hashtag and campaign created by Tarana Burke in 2007 and popularized by Alyssa Milano in October 2017 has confirmed what feminists have long argued on the prevalence of sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexually abusive behaviour. It has also prompted a more public debate on dynamics of victim blaming and victim shaming which contribute to the silences which typically benefit perpetrators and add a further burden to survivors. As such, the #MeToo movement raises important questions for Christian faith and theology. A church in New York offered a creative response in a sign which adapted Jesus’ words ‘You did this to me’ in Mt 25:40 to read ‘You did this to #MeToo’. This presentation will explore the biblical and theological reasons for naming Jesus as a victim of sexual abuse drawing on earlier work presenting crucifixion as a form of state terror and sexual abuse (Tombs 1999). It will then discuss some of the obstacles to this recognition and suggest why the acknowledgement nonetheless matters. It will argue that recognition of Jesus as victim of sexual abuse can help strengthen church responses to sexual abuses and challenge tendencies within the churches, as well as in wider society, to collude with victim blaming or shaming.

For further reading, see David Tombs, ‘Crucifixion, State Terror, and Sexual Abuse’ in Union Seminary Quarterly Review (1999).