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Barber on Sirach’s status within Judaism

Michael Barber has an interesting post up, which also links to another interesting post on the status of the Book of Sirach within Ancient Judaism.  Possibly this is inspired by the fact that the first readings in our lectionary are currently being taken from the Book of Sirach.

The post that Michael links to is written by Dr. Jeff Morrow of Seton Hall University.  It’s not really an apologetic post for the inclusion of deuterocanonicals as a part of the canon.  It simply serves to muddy the waters a bit.  Here’s a snippet:

What complicates matters further is that different groups within Second Temple Judaism apparently considered different books canonical. Although the biblical books used by the Pharisees is likely identical to Josephus’, which looks like the Old Testament of most Protestants, and, it should be noted, the Hebrew Bible (Tanak) of the majority of contemporary Judaism, this is not for certain. Sadducees, on the other hand, had a much smaller list of biblical books (only including the Penateuch, according to New Testament evidence). It is difficult to determine what canon was in  use among the Jews at Qumran—where Esther has not been discovered but Tobit and Sirach from the deuterocanon have been found (in Aramaic and Hebrew no less)—but it appears they likely considered some of their own community’s texts as canonical. The question of canon at such an early stage, however, is complicated by the fact that we are not even sure what a canon would mean at that point within Judaism. Would they have understood those texts as divinely revealed, as inspired? And what would inspiration mean for them? Would there have been a canon-within-a-canon? These questions remain unresolved.

Anyway, I’d recommend you check it out.

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Commercial for God – Doctrine of Retribution Abused (VFTTB)

I just finished teaching through the Book of Proverbs in my Wisdom Literature class and thought I’d share this video.  It is exactly what the title of the post says a “commercial for God.”  Basically, these two girls read Proverbs 3:9-10 verbatim.  Just be careful because it might give you a sickening feel in your stomach when you see that God has an 800 number.

I used this video as entry way into discussing the doctrine of retribution and how it is part of Old Testament theology, but was not intended to be taken as a complete picture of how the world works.  So, it can, therefore, be abused.  For instance, I brought texts like Proverbs 30:7-10 into the picture to show that the doctrine of retribution wasn’t even meant to be taken as a complete picture of how the world works within the Book of Proverbs itself.

At any rate, you might find a better video for entering into the doctrine of retribution.  But, this is the one I used:

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John Hobbins just threw out an interesting set of posts

I mean he was throwing them out one after another, and I’m not sure if he’s stopped yet.  They are posts that he’s giving the heading:

An outline of a 90 minute module in a course entitled “The Bible and Current Events.” Follow the links and you pretty much have it.

I’m not sure of the background of the posts, whether they are for something that he is teaching in his church or in a university setting.  But, some of the topics look incredibly interesting and seem like they could work in different contexts.  There is no particular tag or category that it looks like he is putting the posts in.  So, the only way to keep up might be to subscribe to his feed, which wouldn’t be a bad idea anyway.  Or, you might go to his blog and search the phrase “The Bible and Current Events.”

For an example, check out this called An Introduction to the Primary History, replete with video clips (which I like).

If you like some of what he’s done there, you might also want to check out some of my posts on videos for teaching the Bible.

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Pope Pius XII on the Importance of Textual Criticism

I’ve posted on textual criticism for the past two days.  This will probably be the last post on the topic for a while.  Yesterday, I posted on video I used in attempting to show my students the importance of textual criticism.  I also used this quote from Pope Pius XII in Divino Afflante Spiritu to try to communicate this:

17. The great importance which should be attached to this kind of criticism was aptly pointed out- by Augustine, when, among the precepts to be recommended to the student of the Sacred Books, he put in the first place the care to possess a corrected text. “The correction of the codices” — so says this most distinguished Doctor of the Church — “should first of all engage the attention of those who wish to know the Divine Scripture so that the uncollected may give place to the corrected.”[23] In the present day indeed this art, which is called textual criticism and which is used with great and praiseworthy results in the editions of profane writings, is also quite rightly employed in the case of the Sacred Books, because of that very reverence which is due to the Divine Oracles. For its very purpose is to insure that the sacred text be restored, as perfectly as possible, be purified from the corruptions due to the carelessness of the copyists and be freed, as far as may be done, from glosses and omissions, from the interchange and repetition of words and from all other kinds of mistakes, which are wont to make their way gradually into writings handed down through many centuries.

18. It is scarcely necessary to observe that this criticism, which some fifty years ago not a few made use of quite arbitrarily and often in such wise that one would say they did so to introduce into the sacred text their own preconceived ideas, today has rules so firmly established and secure, that it has become a most valuable aid to the purer and more accurate editing of the sacred text and that any abuse can easily be discovered. Nor is it necessary here to call to mind — since it is doubtless familiar and evident to all students of Sacred Scripture — to what extent namely the Church has held in honor these studies in textual criticism from the earliest centuries down even to the present day.

19. Today therefore, since this branch of science has attained to such high perfection, it is the honorable, though not always easy, task of students of the Bible to procure by every means that as soon as possible may be duly published by Catholics editions of the Sacred Books and of ancient versions, brought out in accordance with these standards, which, that is to say, unite the greatest reverence for the sacred text with an exact observance of all the rules of criticism. And let all know that this prolonged labor is not only necessary for the right understanding of the divinely-given writings, but also is urgently demanded by that piety by which it behooves us to be grateful to the God of all providence, Who from the throne of His majesty has sent these books as so many paternal letters to His own children.

This is kind of picks up in the middle of the document, but you can read the rest HERE.  Of course, a quote from a pope may not work quite so well in other institutions ;-).  But, I imagine it worked okay in mine.

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Interesting text criticial issues in Wisdom Literature

A while back I posted asking if anyone knew of interesting text critical issues in the Wisdom Literature that I could use in my class.  I got no response other than Tim being surprised at how text critically inept we must be.

At any rate, here are some of the texts that I ended up using:

  1. Proverbs 11:30 “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, but [violence] (Greek, Syriac)/ [a wise man] (Hebrew) takes lives away.
  2. Proverbs 13:11 “Wealth [hastily gotten] (Greek Latin)/ [from vanity] (Hebrew) will dwindle, but those who gather little by little will increase it.”
  3. Proverbs 13:15 “Good sense wins favor, but the way of the faithless is [their ruin] (Greek, Syriac, Latin, Aramaic)/ [is enduring] (Hebrew).”
  4. Proverbs 14:24 “The crown of the wise is their [wisdom] (Greek)/ [riches] (Hebrew), but folly is the garland of fools.”

I identified these text critical notes by looking at the notes in the NRSV.  Text critical notes are one of the reasons I really like the NRSV.  This was super easy using the Kindle edition.  Then, I showed the class translations in parallel to see how different translations handled the issues.

Then, as an exercise, I had the students try to think through what might be the better reading based on the principle that the more difficult reading is to be preferred.  Obviously, this wasn’t meant for coming to hard and fast conclusions about which text was to be preferred since most of the students wouldn’t have the requisite language tools to make that kind of determination.  For that, I told them that they would need to look at a good commentary.  But, it was mainly to gain an appreciation of some of the principles that text critics use and to teach them where to look to read about text critical issues.  I also wanted to help them understand as well that when reading a translation a lot of decisions are being made for them.

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A great new book on Inspiration

Yesterday I went to the library at Notre Dame Seminary after class and saw Denis Farkasfalvy’s book Inspiration and Interpretation: A Theological Introduction on Sacred Scripture on the cart of new arrivals.  I checked it out and pretty well couldn’t put it down.

Farkasfalvy covers some of the same ground that Peter Enns does in his book Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament (which I also like a great deal).  However, he comes at it, at least in my estimation, from a very different direction.  This likely has a lot to do with the aims of the different books, yet I can’t help but wonder if it might not also have a lot to do with their audiences.

Farkasfalvy begins with the Biblical material on inspiration and moves through successive stages: patristic exegesis, the middle ages, modernity, Vatican II and following.  In the final chapter, he provides a synthesis, which consists of an incarnational model for understanding inspiration and interpretation.

I haven’t had to time really fully reflect on the book just yet, but I must say that I think his synthesis provides a very helpful framework for thinking about scripture.  Perhaps I’ll write a more extensive review a bit later on.  But, for now, I’d highly recommend the text to anyone here interested in the topic of inspiration.

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It really takes Isaac a long time to die …

In Genesis 27.31, Esau seems to think his father will die soon so he can kill Jacob.  Then, Jacob is gone for a long time (20 years – Genesis 31.38) before Isaac dies (35.28-29).  I’ve never really noticed that before.  Has anyone seen any explanations for this (of course, I’m sure some of you may say sources … but anything else)?  I’m interested, but I thought it might be quicker and easier to ask you all than to reads books ;-).

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Great things will be happening among the biblioblogs in coming months. Hate that I had to leave the biblioblogging session early and arrived late at that. But, fantastic presentations by Barber and McGrath. Reenergized me for blogging quite a bit now that I’m trying to wrap up the dissertation. What a great atmosphere among the people in the room!

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Tv interview

So I went in this morning for a television interview for Catholic Life Television in Baton Rouge. It was my first time to be filmed for a tv segment and was a really fun experience. It was a pleasure to meet Dina Martinez who did the interviewing and Chad Babin (I think I remember that correctly though I’m not certain about the spelling) who did the filming. I was a bit nervous going in, but getting to chat with them for a few minutes ahead of time in front of the camera before the taping started really helped.
The interview was for a series on Catholic identity and the topic was how to study scripture. I’ll let you know when the segment runs in case any readers are in a location where you can watch … that is if you want to.

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Looks like I’ll be teaching in the fall…

On the eve of my vacation I got some great news.

Looks I will be teaching two courses related to the Old Testament come this fall. Still have to get some transcripts in and forms filled out, but I would be teaching a course through Loyola University in New Orleans and one through the Diocese of Baton Rouge in conjunction with St Joseph’s Abbey and Seminary college. The one through St Joseph’s spans the whole year so it will be like teaching one and a half classes in the fall.

In addition I will be able to start offering some certification courses through my diocese starting this summer. And that may be an ongoing opportunity.

Super excited to be back in the classroom while still being able to serve in my church parish. The best of both worlds.

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