The Oxford Hebrew Bible is Now The Scholars Hebrew Bible

The URL still has OHB, but the Oxford Hebrew Bible Project is now the Scholars Hebrew Bible Project. I recall hearing many professors at Oxford express concerns with the name, given the fact that not a single professor from Oxford was involved and they broadly disapproved of an eclectic edition. It seems something has now been done about it. For some examples of how it looks, check out the samples of Gen 1:1–13Deut 32:1–9, and 1 Kgs 11:1–8.

SBL Proposal #1

I’m preparing the following proposal to submit to the SBL annual meeting’s Israelite Religion in Its West Asian Environment program unit:

“My Name is In Him”: The Messenger of YHWH and Distributed Agency in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East

This paper examines the nature and function of the Hebrew Bible’s “messenger of YHWH,” focusing particularly on the blending of the messenger’s identity with that of YHWH. It will argue that the earliest appearances of the messenger in the biblical narratives arise from the textual interpolation of the word malak in the interest of obscuring YHWH’s physical presence and activity among the Israelites. These interpolations will be shown to have predated other narrative traditions within the Hebrew Bible, but as a result of cognitive mechanisms related to the conceptualization of divine agency and its communicability that had long been in place within Israelite and Assyro-Babylonian cult practices, later authors were equipped to seamlessly adopt the notion of the mediation of a semi-autonomous divine agent who could speak and act in the very name of the God of Israel. This distributable divine agency would become conceptualized in one influential iteration as YHWH’s “name,” which could indwell architecture as well as anthropomorphic agents,  extending the deity’s presence well beyond the conceptual confines of earlier tradition and cult. The implications of this understanding of the Israelite conceptualization of divine agency are far reaching.

Finkelstein’s 2013 The Forgotten Kingdom Available Online

Israel Finkelstein’s 2013 contribution to the SBL series Ancient Near East Monographs, The Forgotten Kingdom: The Archaeology and History of Northern Israel, is available in PDF format on SBL’s website. It’s definitely worth a close reading.

The Self as Narrative/Social Construct

From Robert Bellah’s fascinating Religion in Human Evolution:

Families, nations, religions (but also corporations, universities, departments of sociology) know who they are by the stories they tell.

YHWH is King: The Development of Divine Kingship in Ancient Israel

On the first day of the book exhibit at SBL I swung by the Brill booth quite early to gather up the complimentary journals and to look at new releases. I was exited to see Shawn Flynn’s new book, YHWH is King: The Development of Divine Kingship in Ancient Israel, was available a few months early, and then was annoyed to see someone had already reserved the one copy. The book is an edition of Flynn’s 2012 University of Toronto doctoral dissertation, When on High Yahweh Reigned: Translating Yahweh’s Kingship in Ancient Israel (PDF available at the link; the dissertation abstract is below). The book approaches the development of divine kingship in part through the lens of cultural translation (cf. Smith and Assmann), which sounds promising to me. Check it out, and if you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

This dissertation identifies two distinct stages of YHWH’s kingship in ancient Israel: an earlier warrior king with a limited sphere of geographic influence, and a later, Judahite creator king with universal power and absolute rule. After identifying these stages, this dissertation proposes the historical context in which the change to YHWH’s kingship occurred. Articulating this change is informed by the anthropological method of cultural translation and studied via a suitable historical analogue: the change in Marduk’s kingship and the external pressures that lead to the expression of his universal kingship in the Enuma Elish. The Babylonian changes to Marduk’s kingship form a suitable analogy to articulate the changes to YHWH’s kingship in the Levant. Therefore Judahite scribes suppressed the early warrior vision of YHWH’s kingship and promoted a more sustainable vision of a creator and universal king in order to combat the increasing threat of Neo-Assyrian imperialism begun under the reign of Tiglath-pileser III.

Evangelizing Atheists

A couple friends on Facebook today mentioned an article on wikiHow entitled “How To Persuade a Christian To Become Atheist.” It’s a step by step guide to getting friends to question their theism without frightening them away. Apart from some errors in grammar and syntax, the article is pretty basic and logical, and emphasizes the importance of deepening one’s understanding of both sides of the issue. I’m familiar with some Christian patterns of evangelizing that utilize some of the same broad principles. Any thoughts on evangelizing atheists? Surprising? Unsurprising? and the Blogger Grid

In light of recent discussions about Bible software and electronic Bibles, as well as the rolling out of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid, I thought it would be nice to share a short video blogger Jason Neil Soto posted about how he uses to study the Bible. Perhaps you’ll find it helpful (I regularly use the website when looking at different translations).

Also, check out the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid, of which I’m now a new member. The grid looks like an interesting way to access a great deal of material on the Bible from bloggers of all stripes.



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