According to a widespread opinion the purpose of the Second Book of Maccabees is to emphasize the great importance of the temple. This is plausible to a certain extent if the summary of history is read togther with the two introductory letters. But those authors are right who consider the letters to be originally independent of each other and also of the abrigded version. The construction of the summary taken in itself reveals a soteriology which attributes an important part to the witness of faith for the history of salvation, especially when bloodshed is involved. With regard to this point the abrigded version and the first introductory letter harmonize. Both the summary and the work as a whole have therefore a soteriological orientation and stress the witness of faith as relevant for salvation.
It is argued in this article that the imagery of Israel’s divine begetting from the Song of Moses (Deut 32,18) is in view in the account of Jesus’ divine begetting in Matt 1,20. To establish the plausibility of this claim, the characteristics and widespread knowledge of the Song of Moses are surveyed first, followed by the rationale for positing its presence in Matthew. The allusion to Deut 32,18 in Matt 1,20 is one component of a larger Matthean pattern by which the Evangelist portrays Jesus as the obedient Son of God in contrast to Israel as God’s disobedient son. This reference also highlights the imagery of new creation that Matthew associates with the birth of Jesus.
Psalm 132, a text from the later pre-exilic time, is about the well-being of Zion and its faithful. This well-being, essentially David’s, is grounded on the presence of YHWH in Zion. It is realized when YHWH looks friendly upon the Davidic king. The first part of the psalm (vv. 1-10) asks for this favour on the strength of David’s hardships to find for his God a place to dwell. The second part (vv. 11- 18) is an answer to the first. The psalm is an introit-song, composed for the festival of Sukkoth. Expressing notions that remained important to the religious community, it was reintroduced after the exile to be used at the same festival.
The words tw~n lalhqhsome/nwn in Heb 3,5 allude to the words of Christ at the institution of the Eucharist. This is argued from 1) the contrast between Christ and Moses in Heb 3,1-6 as understood against the background of Num 12,7[LXX]; 2) the thematic use of lale/w in Hebrews; 3) the relevance of Heb 9,20; 4) the place of Heb 3,5 in the structure of Heb 1,1–3,6. All to be understood against a Eucharistic interpretation of Heb 2,12 and Heb 13.
The launch of the Oxford Hebrew Bible has recently been formally announced and examples of its work published. Unlike nearly all current scholarly editions of the Hebrew Bible, it aims to provide an eclectic rather than a diplomatic text. There are many aspects of the underlying reasons for this which should be approved. Nevertheless, as a project it has certain inherent weaknesses. It completely overlooks the different linguistic levels which are amalgamated in the Masoretic Text, so that its policy of maintaining the current spelling and vocalization are misguided. It also fails in its stated objective of providing a textual archetype in those cases where different editions of the text may be thought to have circulated in antiquity. And many of the most crucial decisions at the text-critical level are not included in the apparatus at all but in the commentary; indeed, in view of the unique textual nature of the MT as well as the variety of scholarly opinion about its textual history it is commentary rather than a new edition which would best serve the needs of the prospective readership.
The narrative in Isa 7 unfolds a particular scenario in which only the initial verse 7,1 refers to the historical situation of the so-called Syriac-Ephraimitic war. What follows exhibits a completely different situation involving a threat and very
similar to Isa 36-37. Several elements in the narrative in Isa 7 (the way of the fuller’s field, Shear-Yashub, the almah, Immanuel) only make sense within the context of Isa 36-37 and other parts of the book of Isaiah. Isa 7 is a highly intertextual entity that uses older texts to advocate its message of trustfulness in the God of Israel.
The word a)po/stoloj in Heb 3,1 is seen as a reference to the risen Jesus in Heb 2,12 who has been “sent” by God to reveal God’s name as Moses was “sent” to
reveal God’s name. Since Heb 2,12 is an allusion to the Christian tôdâ known as the Eucharist, the parallel with the word a)rxiereu/j is appropriate. The risen Christ is the son who reveals his father to those who have faith-trust as Jesus had faithtrust in the face of death. This revelation of a piece with a central theological theme of the New Testament, and is an invitation to enter liturgically into the death of Jesus so as to enter into his relation of son with his father.
This note argues that the phrase “and Moses raised his hand” in Num 20,11 should be interpreted figuratively and it refers to Moses’ inner attitude and his will to demonstrate his power over God whom he is at enmity with.
With regard to the prophecy of the death, desecration, resurrection, and ascension of the two witnesses (Rev 11,7-13) most exegetes reckon with a Jewish background. However, the Jewish parallels they refer to stem from different works, contexts, and epochs. Some exegetes also consider the passion,
resurrection, and ascension of Jesus the background of Rev 11,7-13. However, the itinerary of Jesus (as presented in the New Testament) significantly differs from the events described in Rev 11,7-13. The present article suggests the Roman damnatio and consecratio as an alternative (or at least complementary) historical background for Rev 11,7-13. In contrast to both the Jewish and Christian traditions/sources, this background is both encompassing and
coherent. Thus, the Roman damnatio and consecratio should be taken into account as an exegetical framework for Rev 11,7-13.
The 'center' of the Psalter has not been given much attention up to now. This essay first examines the literary concept of 'center'. On the basis of thematic-theological considerations the focus then falls on Ps 78, the second longest Psalm.
Key considerations are: the move from (individual) hlpt to (collective) hlht; Torah-wisdom; didactic history reflection climaxing with David; interface of mosaic and davidic figures and topics; double connection back to Torah and Nebiim, cf. programmatically Psalm 1. This evidence suggest that Ps 78 has been envisaged by the final redactors as the 'center' of the book (intention) and can be recognized as such as the Psalter is read repeatedly or even memorised (reception).
The military background of Mk 5,1-20 points to the Legio X Fretensis, which has been active in the Jewish War and whose ensign, a boar, matches the swines mentioned in Mk 5,1-20. However, the figure 2000, which is mentioned to give the size of the herd, does not correspond to this context. Roman legions consisted of about 5000-6000 soldiers. This contradiction can only be resolved, when the history of the Legio X is taken into consideration. In 66 AD a vexiliation of this Legio X, consisting of 2000 soldiers, was involved in fights with Jewish insurgents (Jos., Bell. 2,499-506). These details go well with the allusions in Mk 5,1-20 to the Legio X and can explain the figure 2000. From this perspective, Mark’s Jesus is portrayed as a powerful warlord and liberator rather than an occupator.
This article argues for the diversity of early Christianity in terms of religiocultural communities. Each early Christian group, based on a personal revelation of leadership and the group’s socio-political milieu, maintained its own tradition (oral, written, or both) of Jesus for the continuity and prosperity of the movement. The leaders of early Christianity allowed outsiders to become insiders in the condition where the new comers committed to give up their previous religious attitude and custom and then follow the new community rules. The membership of the Thomasine group is not exceptional in this case. The Logia tradition of P. Oxy. 1, 654.655, and NHC II, 2. 32: 10-51: 28 in the context of community policy will prove the pre-gnostic peculiarity of the creative and independent movement within the Graeco-Roman world.
Read against the background of ancient literary practice (in Near Eastern and Greco-Roman historiography), the 'we' passages in the Acts of the Apostles (in Acts 13–28) and the statements about the beloved disciple in the Fourth Gospel (Joh 13,23; 19,26; 20,2; 21,7.20) should probably be interpreted as autobiographical remarks. Yet, unlike Greek and Roman historians the New Testament narrators wrote their books, including these autobiographical passages, anonymously. They appear to have done so because they wanted to claim personal presence at a few crucial points in the narrated history while at the same time intending to remain as invisible as possible. For the author of Acts the use of the first Person Plural provided the best opportunity to conceal his name without disappearing completely from his narrative. The fourth Evangelist decided to hide behind the anonymous figure of the beloved disciple whom he introduced in the third person; had he used the first person he would have been much more visible throughout his whole book.
The phrase )ec e(no/j in Heb 2,11 is a standard crux. The article attempts to come to grips with it through a close reading of the text of Heb 2,8bc-18. This close reading leads to the conclusion that the 'one' mentioned in is the spiritual seed of Abraham composed of all those who, like Abraham exercise faith-trust in God in the face of death. But this spiritual seed of Abraham is modified by the faith-trust of Jesus brought to the perfection of his heavenly priesthood.
The final oracle of Haggai is often viewed as royalist in orientation, with the prophet promoting Zerubbabel as a royal (or even messianic) figure. This study seeks to dispute the majority view. Neither the election terms used nor the metaphor of the “seal” assign a royal identity to him. The focus is on the dual leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua. Nowhere in the prophecy is Zerubbabel identified unequivocally as a Davidide. The temple orientation and the highlighting of divine action show that the establishment of God’s kingdom is in view, not the promotion of Zerubbabel as God’s vice-regent.
The note suggests that Heb 2,9 means that Jesus died physically so that he could die in the gaze of those who believe in him and thus be freed from the fear of death (2,15). It also suggests that Heb 2,8b-9 is a subsection about Jesus as the heavenly sacrificial victim and corresponds to Heb 2,14-16 which is about Jesus the earthly sacrificial victim. Heb 2,10-12 in turn is a subsection about Jesus as heavenly high priest and corresponds to Heb 2,17-18 which is about Jesus as earthly high priest.
Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died and was buried under an oak tree and it was named twkb Nwl). Two major questions should be raised here. One, why was the place named twkb Nwl)? Second, why was she buried under a tree? This short paper will posit that the place was called twkb Nwl) as a reference to Deborah being a bakki¯tu a professional crier. Burial under a tree was for common people, and because of her lower class status, she was buried under the tree like the common people who were buried in common grave yard.
Assuming the Christian group of Thessalonica to be a professional voluntary association of hand-workers (probably leatherworkers), this paper argues that 1 Thessalonians in general, and especially the injunction to «keep quiet» (4,11), indicates Paul’s apprehension regarding how Roman rulers, city dwellers, and Greek oligarchies would perceive an association converted to an exclusive cult and eager to actively participate in the redistribution of the city resources. Paul, concerned about a definite practical situation rather than a philosophically or even theologically determined attitude, delivered precise counsel to the Thessalonians to take a stance of political quietism as a survival strategy.
The term, hmx, is a frequent descriptor of anger in the Bible. Notably, its syntactic context depends on whether hmx describes human anger or the anger of God. The syntax of human hmx highlights the experience of being aggrieved whereas the syntax of divine hmx emphasizes the consequence of provocation. As such, human hmx tends to be the subject of intransitive verbs and the object of passive verbs that describe the experience of being provoked. By contrast, divine hmx tends to be the object of transitive verbs and the subject of passive verbs that describe God’s reprisal. Additionally, divine hmx occurs as part of the curious construct &alquo;cup of hmx&rlquo;. We believe that these observations reflect an underlying struggle to reconcile the anthropomorphic idea of an emotional God with an omnipotent and invulnerable deity.
This is not a story of failed or deceptive prophecy, but rather an account of Israel’s failure in the face of opposition. YAHWEH’s promise was inherently contingent upon Israel’s willingness to bring it to completion. Their failure to do so is not surprising. Jehoram’s partial success in battle ironically mirrors his partial commitment to YAHWEH (vv. 1-3). As such, the concluding report of Israel’s retreat combines with the introductory report to form a thematic inclusio for the chapter: Those whose commitment to YAHWEH is half-hearted invariably forfeit his blessing.
Five conclusions allow us to explain Jesus last days and to assess the significance of the actual Gospel narratives. Firstly, his last Passover meal (Synoptics, solar calendar) took place on one Tuesday evening; secondly, the origin of the Eucharistic rite on the Lord’s day has nothing to do with Passover; thirdly, a feast of Passover-Easter (Pa/sxa) on a specific Sunday emerged somewhat late in the IInd century; fourthly, before this date, the Synoptics did not have their final shape; fifthly Josephus provides us with a clue to understand Jesus’ double trial before Pilate in the Passion narrative of John.
Due to the chosen vocabulary and to intertextual connections, Isa 40,9-11 hint covertly at the Persian king who is responsible for the political turmoil that also affected the Babylonian Gola. The Persian king is characterized as a triumphant warrior (V. 10) and a caring shepherd (V. 11). Since Cyros administers the duties of a shepherd in Isa 44:28, he might be the one who acts on behalf of Yahweh here.
The Baal Peor episode (Num 25,1-18), followed by the second census (Num 26), marks the break between the first compromised wilderness generation and the second. This episode is a «covenant of kinship» between Israelites and Midianites resident in Moab, sealed by marriage between high-status individuals from each of these lineages. The violent repudiation of this transaction by the Aaronid Phineas is in marked contrast to the Midianite marriage of Moses, for which an explanation is offered, and is paradigmatic of the attitude to intermarriage of the Aaronid priesthood during the mid-to-late-Achaemenid period.
The thesis developed in the article is that Mark 7,24-8,10 cannot be interpreted without the previous dispute about clean and unclean in 7,1- 23 that gives meaning to it and prepares Jesus’ journey to the nearby pagan land. For the same reason, it seemed impossible to interpret Mark 7,24-30 as a radical change in Jesus’ missionary project. In this episode, the Syrophoenician does not extort a miracle from Jesus. It is rather he who puts her to the test, expecting from her a response that may give him the opportunity to manifest God’s power in favor of the Gentiles and be proclaimed as the one through whom God’s salvation comes.
The words toi/j a)kou/sasin in Heb 4,2 are frequently taken as referring either to the Israelites of the desert generation who, in contrast to the majority, did believe in God’s care, or to the Christians who, in contrast to the desert generation, do believe. After indicating why each interpretation is unsatisfactory, the note argues from the wording of the entire verse in the context of the epistle as a whole that the words refer to the Christians who heard the words of the Lord as he instituted the Eucharist. He is the one who, through the linkage of faith, makes entrance into God’s rest possible.
The current understanding of the Book of Job, put forth by M. Tsevat in 1966 and widely accepted, is that YHWH implicitly denies the existence of divine justice. Retribution is not part of reality, but only a delusion. The present article argues that the book teaches the need for fidelity in the face of divine injustice. The Theophany shows a God whose care for the world of nature hints at his care for humans. The reader, unlike Job, knows that Job's suffering is important to God, as establishing the possibility of true human loyalty.
The article analyzes several passages in Jeremiah in which God weeps in order to understand the function of divine weeping in the book. Attention to the distribution of weeping in the book finds that God’s weeping (8,23; 9,9.17; 13,17; 14,17) gives way to divine anger and refusal to hear the petitions of the people (15,1; 16,5-7). LXX and many modern commentators have attempted to deny that God weeps in these passages. However, several texts clearly depict God weeping, and weeping deities are common in ancient Near Eastern literature.
In Psalm 99,4 the first stich is a circumstantial clause expressing causality relative to the clause following it. Verse 4 means to say that YHWH's royal power is exercised in establishing justice, as is shown by his acts in Israel. A syntax identical with that of the first line in Ps 99,4 can be found in Gen 50,20; Ezek 2,4a; Hab 1,10; Ps 40,18a.
Among the questions raised by Gen 22,1-19, this short study grapples with those concerning the figure of God, the peculiarities of the plot, and the date of the text. God puts Abraham to the test 'to know' how the latter will pass this test. The plot is therefore a plot of discovery that ends with an anagnorisis, a passage from ignorance to knowledge in 22,12. There is no explicit peripeteia in the narrative, however, and this means that the reader must imagine the change of situation. All these features point towards a later date.
Acts 14:1-27 continues the story of the mission of Paul and Barnabas among the Gentiles, illustrating what happened when they had decided to turn from the Jews (cf. 13.46-47) to devote their attention to the Gentiles. Following an account of Paul's initial struggle with this decision, brought out more clearly in Codex Bezae, Luke describes the mitigated success of his first deliberate attempts to talk with the Gentiles about the gospel. The establishment of the first churches as a result of the missionary work of Paul and Barnabas is described as the passage concludes by bringing the missionaries back to Antioch of Syria, where Luke is careful to maintain the focus on the Gentiles.
This article examines the reception-history of Mark 15,39 to shed new light on this pivotal and disputed verse. Mark's earliest known readers emended the text to clarify the centurion's feelings about Jesus and to explain how the centurion came to faith. Copyists inserted references to Jesus' final yell around the same time that patristic commentators were claiming that this yell was a miracle that proved Jesus' divinity, an interpretation which was enshrined in the Byzantine text and the Vulgate. The article concludes that a 'sarcastic' reading is a more adequate description of 15,39 as found in B, NA28 etc.
Mk 3,27 offers various functions within the context of the Second Gospel narrative. First, pertaining to the successful exorcisms of Jesus, it refuses allegations of Jesus being an ally of Satan (Mk 3,22). Mk 3,27 depicts Satan as the incapacitated strong man, no one Jesus might be in league with. Second, by assigning the role of the nameless criminal to Jesus the verse ridicules perceptions which portray him as a religious and social misfit (Mk 3,21-22.30). By acting «feloniously» against Satan and later dying as a convicted felon in Jerusalem Jesus solely executes God’s final soteriological will.
Jeremiah 28* and 36* bear signs of having been composed during the prophet's lifetime. These stories depict incidents that had the potential to severely damage the prophet's reputation among the Judean public: clashes with powerful opponents from which Jeremiah seemed to have emerged as the losing party. These early narratives served apologetic ends, providing Jeremiah's followers with an account of the incidents that stressed YHWH's support for his true prophet. The investigation confirms the theory that conflict on a broad variety of topics played a significant role in stimulating the growth of prophetic literature.
In Hosea 3 we find a reflection on the situation of the Northern-Israelites after the destruction of Samaria. The text, except for some slight additions, was originally composed shortly after 720 BCE by Northern Israelites and is part of an early composition of Hosea-materials. The fall of the Northern Kingdom is caused by the crimes denounced by Hosea and brought about by the divine judgment he had announced. The events therefore confirm Hosea’s prediction. Israel’s punishment is interpreted as an educational trial meant to make Israel return to YHWH. Hence, there is hope for restoration and a better future after the judgment.
The Lukan Sondergut develops its soteriology by narrating encounters inside a triangular spatial structure. Several important pericopae make use of a recurring scheme: salvation takes place in the encounter between the sinner and Jesus/God. The Pharisees who distance themselves therefrom are called upon to learn a lesson from the sinners and to share in the joy that results from the return of the lost one.
In Chapter 15 of Acts, a point of critical importance for the growth of the Church and its relationship with Judaism is reached. Luke narrates the difficulty posed for Jewish Jesus-believers by the increasing number of Gentiles believers and the decision taken by the Church leaders in Jerusalem not to subject them to the usual conditions for proselytes. In the Bezan text, some conflict of opinion between Peter, Paul and Barnabas on the one hand, and James on the other is apparent, a tension that is attenuated in the Alexandrian text. Further conflict is also highlighted in Codex Bezae between Paul and Barnabas who separate following the meeting in Jerusalem.
In Acts 16, Paul sets out again on his missionary journey but without Barnabas, Instead he is accompanied by Silas and Timothy, and in part by a group of companions referred to by Luke in the 1st person. His itinerary follows the leading given by successive divine interventions designed to move him westwards, towards Rome. Most of the action takes place in Philippi, his first stopping place after leaving Asia where he had worked previously. On his arrival there, Paul first seeks out the Jewish community. However, a conflictual encounter with local people leads to his imprisonment, when the jailor provides him with the opportunity to speak about the gospel to Gentiles. Paul’s failure to make the most of this opportunity occasions implicit ciriticism from the narrator of Codex Bezae.
B. Witherington III et al. propose that gameo and gamizo in Matt 22,30 (par. Mark 12,25; Luke 20,34-36) describe entrance into marriage rather than the state of marriage. Consequently, these passages indicate no more than the impossibility of new marriages in the resurrection; they do not, by themselves, insists Witherington, teach the termination of existing marriages, as has been ordinarily assumed. In contrast, this article argues for the traditional interpretation of these texts by demonstrating that when combined gameo and gamizo posses an idiomatic value and refer to the institution of marriage and the family, which, according to Jesus, will end with this age.
In the text of Acts according to Codex Bezae, a fourth and final part of the book begins at 18.24. It is Paul’s ultimate goal of Rome that separates it from the earlier missionary phases and confers unity on the remainder of the book. In this opening section (Section I), his activity will be centred for three years in Ephesus, the main city of Asia, where he will meet with some success despite hostility from some of the Jews. In his dealings with the Gentiles, opposition will also be encountered because of the threat posed by his teachings to the trade of the city. The Bezan narrator indicates plainly that Paul’s travel to Ephesus should have been the initial stage of his journey to the imperial capital. Additional references in Codex Bezae to the directions given to Paul by the Holy Spirit make clear that his visit had been prepared for by the work of Apollos; however, it was contrary to his own intentions, which were rather to go back to Jerusalem. The struggle against the divine leading is seen as Paul terminates his stay in Asia once he has carefully prepared for his return to Jerusalem.