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Reviews for Vetus Testamentum

[Reproduced from Vetus Testamentum 1997–2004 by the kind permission of Brill Academic Publishers. Some special fonts or characters may not be properly represented. Some unwanted spaces have also been introduced during copying. For a correct text see the Flashpaper version.]


47, 2 (1997), pp. 266–67


John Pairman Brown, Israel and Hellas. BZAW 231. xxii + 407 pp. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin and New York, 1995. This book claims to be “the very first book to compare at length classical Hebrew and Greek texts” (p. vii). The nine chapters and five excursuses, most of which have been previously published in some form, may be read individually or together, but their effect is cumulative. The breadth of the study, with references to over thirty languages and literary allusions ranging from the Rig Veda to Bob Dylan, will mean that the book has something of interest to most. Brown sees a plethora of parallels between Greek and Hebrew literature. These are discovered by comparing the phrases or words from a variety of classical texts with phrases and words from the Old Testament. Brown argues that Israel and Hellas must have had much contact in the period before Alexander the Great and that this gave rise to many words being loaned both ways, common phraseology and even parallel preservation of phraseology which survives from a common past in the Neolithic. Ch. 1 sets the scene for such textual parallels in the similarity of social situation and method of writing in the two cultures. Ch. 2 gives what Brown believes to be the strongest argument for contact between the cultures: “items of vocabulary common to Greek and Hebrew” (p. 63). Common phraseology is also traced in cosmology (ch. 3), the vine (ch. 4), war and peace (ch. 5), sacrifice and the cult (ch. 6), and women's roles (ch. 7). Ch. 8 deals with common phraseology in treaties, but compares classical formulae with those of the whole ancient Near East and not Israel alone. Ch. 9 compares common proverbs (particularly in connection with gold) including five proverbs which are he claims are shared between the book of Proverbs and Theognis of Megara. “Sometimes themes come so close in the two collections as to suggest or demand literary connection” (p. 293). However, his examples, such as the proverb that the rich have more friends than the poor, could easily have arisen independently in the two societies, and they do not demand a literary connection.

It is not possible here to evaluate each example of shared vocabulary dealt with in this book. Some are certainly correct, while others are not suggested with any degree of certainty. His method is to search for parallel contexts for words and phrases and he hopes (p. 64) that if “the examples of undisputed etymology are thought to validate the method, perhaps in turn the method will buttress the speculative etymologies”. Some of his connections fail semantically, for instance, few will be convinced that Hebrew brkh “pool” “has a deep relation to” Greek âñï÷Þ “rain” (p. 24). While it is difficult to disprove many of Brown's etymological connections, we may say that he needs to adduce much more evidence than he has done for some of his examples. If one searches the lexica of a few ancient languages a parallel for almost any phonetic change can be found. It may well be therefore that Brown overstates his case in connecting Hebrew rmh? “lance” with Greek ëüã÷ç “spear-head” (pp. 170-7), zbh? “sacrifice” with óöÜæù “slaughter” (p. 187), zwnh “harlot” with ãõíÞ “woman” and thus with English “queen” (pp. 226-7) and mt?r “rain” with œäùñ “water” (p. 330). Regardless of whether we accept these suggestions or not, Brown's book is all the more useful as a reference work because it has tended to include rather than exclude possible connections, especially since it is well supplied with 64 pages of indexes. If only half of Brown's etymologies, loans or common phrases are correct then there is already evidence for more contact between Israel and Hellas in ancient times than we tend to recognize—cultures which, as we are reminded on p. 1, were only “a week's voyage apart with favorable winds”.

[P.J. Williams]



47, 3 (1997), pp. 416–17


Herbert Donner, Aufsätze zum Alten Testament. BZAW 224. viii + 311 pp. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin and New York, 1994. This is a collection of 15 essays with no overarching theme, all previously published elsewhere between 1959 and 1992. Two appear in German for the first time. The opening three essays concern social structures. The first, on the position of queen mother in the O.T., briefly discusses biblical material and at greater length extra-biblical material, especially material from Ugarit , showing the political and economic influence of the queen mother, and the reverence with which she was addressed. The O.T. function is indirectly derived from the Hittites. The second essay is concerning the “king's friend” and argues that this was an advisor's title, taken from Egyptian administration. It is connected with a title ascribed to Abdi h epa in the El-Amarna letters, and a title in Gen. xxvi 26. Any connection between the friend of the king and the šalîš is rejected. The third essay, which concerns adoption, surveys ancient Near Eastern laws and texts before arguing that the practices in Ex. ii 10; Esth. ii 7; Gen. xvi, xxx, xlviii l; and Ruth iv 16 are not forms of adoption. The system of levirate marriage and fixed property eliminated the need for adoption in Israel . Since adoption was not part of the O.T. system Donner questions whether 1 Sam. vii 14; Ps. ii 7; Is. ix 5 can be understood to refer to the action of adoption (pp. 60-1). There is an appendix containing primary extra-biblical references to adoption.

  The fourth essay argues that 1 Kgs. xii 28 should be translated “Hier sind deine Götter , Israel !” with 'lhym being a plural. The plural does not represent a plurality of gods, but rather a “Polyjahwismus” in which different locations had their own Yahweh. Donner tentatively finds traces of this in 2 Sam. xv 7 where he believes that Absalom asked David's permission to pay his vow before Yahweh of Hebron .

  The fifth and longest essay considers how the Joseph story arrived in its present form and position within Genesis. Donner's thesis is clear. “Man kann nicht beides haben: die Josephsgeschichte als Novelle und als Bestandteil der Pentateuchquellen J und E” (p. 84). Various reasons given for source division, such as doublets and language analyses by H. Gunkel and O. Procksch are examined before it is concluded that, “Die Kriterien der Pentateuchquellenscheidung versagen an Gen. 37-50” (p. 94). J and E did have their own account of the descent into Egypt and this was preserved by the Jehovistic Redactor's use Gen. xli 50-52, xlvi 1aß-5a, xlviii and 123-5, [1] which are not integral with the rest of the Joseph account. Donner then considers how the Joseph story has a striking penchant for the number two as part of its literary art. Despite this, “Midianites” in xxxvii, “an Egyptian” in xxxix 1, and saq in xlii are secondary. A brief bibliography of post-biblical use of the Joseph story is appended.

  The next essay considers the two characterizations of Balaam as good and bad. Negative characterizations of Balaam in brief O.T. notices outside Num. xxii-xxiv have been variously considered as remnants of a Balaam tradition independent from Num. xxii-xxiv or as literary and exegetical developments from those chapters. Donner argues for the latter, considering how negative elements could easily be found in Num. xxii-xxiv.

  The following essay compares four accounts related to Yahweh's rejection of Saul as king. The narrative of Saul's visit to a medium in 1 Sam. xxviii is considered early and pre-Deuteronomic. On the other hand, Donner argues that the account of Saul's war with Amalek in 1 Sam. xv is post-exilic, dependent on passages inside and outside 1 Samuel, and without historical basis. The episode of Saul's sacrifice at Gilgal in 1 Sam. xiii 7b-15a stems from an early priestly circle around David, while the earliest account is that of Saul and Jonathan in 1 Sam. xiv 23b-46, which has an ambivalent attitude towards Saul.

  The eighth essay argues that Isa. lvi 1-7 abrogates Dt. xxiii 2-9, which was both near to its present form and regarded as canonical at the time when Isa. lvi 1-7 was composed. The way that Isa. lvi does not quote the exact wording of Deuteronomy is analogous to cases of abrogation in the Koran.

  A brief article on Jacob's pronouncement in Gen. xlix 14-15 argues that it portrays Issachar as a non-sedentary tribe which is criticized for too readily continuing as mas for the Canaanites. Hebrew mas is primarily a collective-singular personal term, which should be understood to mean “Fronarbeiter” (p. 185). The saying gives a reliable insight into Israel 's early history.

  The next essay seeks to resolve difficulties in the translation of three verses from Ps. cxxii. Verse 2 should be understood as “our feet were standing” with past tense, on the analogy of other examples of the verb hyh with the participle. In v. 3 the verb h?br refers notionally to the unity of the people, not the architecture of Jerusalem . In v. 5 yšb should be translated by a past tense.

  The eleventh essay argues that Isa. xxxiv is of a different origin from Isa. xxxv. Isa. xxxiv 16-17 is a later addition to ch. xxxiv which sanctions the authority of xxxiv 1-15. Next is an essay that suggests reasons for a Maccabean dating of Ps. cx by comparing it with 1 Macc. xiv 41-9 where the most analogous combination of regal and priestly offices is found.

  The last three essays consider the nature of Holy Scripture. The first discusses the origin of the phrases for “as it is written” used by Jews and Christians to refer to Holy Scripture. Donner rightly rejects any view which maintains that the formula is built on Greek models, and examines the roots of the formula in nineteen Old Testament occurrences. He maintains that in the majority of O.T. occurrences the written thing referred to is Deuteronomy, which was the first book of the Old Testament to reach the status of “Holy Scripture”. The next essay examines Spinoza's views on prophecy and prophets in his Tractatus theologico-politicus . Spinoza, using a broad definition of “prophets” including figures not specifically denoted as nby' in the O.T., held that the insights of prophets were only quantitatively, not qualitatively distinct from natural insights. The final essay considers the role of the redactor by drawing parallels between the Pentateuch and three harmonies of the four Gospels. In particular, harmonies of the resurrection accounts are compared with the flood account in Genesis. Just as harmonists of the Gospels believed in the real historical agreement of the accounts they combined, even so “R p meinte tatsächlich, J und P berichteten dasselbe mit verschiedenen Worten, und zwar nicht nur generell, sondern auch im Detail” (p. 284). Perhaps it is surprising that what R p ex hypothesi was unable to distinguish can now be identified with such ease.

  All the essays are of a high quality, and the volume, though disparate, is made more usable by the presence of indexes of texts cited, proper names and subjects.

[P.J. Williams]



47, 4 (1997), pp. 566–67


B.H. Stricker, Het Beloofde Land: De Scheuring van het Rijk Israël. vi + 180 pp. Van Gorcum, Assen, 1993. NLG 39.50. This book is about Jewish and Samaritan historiography and history. It is divided into two sections examining first Jewish accounts of their own origin and the origin of the Samaritans, and then, more briefly, the Samaritan accounts of the same subjects. The former section relates Jewish history based mainly on the accounts of the Old Testament and Josephus. It contains numerous lengthy quotations from these, and highlights material which is of interest for an analysis of Jewish-Samaritan relations. The latter section is based mainly on the Samaritan Pentateuch and Samaritan Chronicles. Stricker maintains that both Jewish and Samaritan sources are highly polemical. He believes that the Samaritans are descended from the northern tribes of Israel (p. 4) which split from the southern ones in 933 B.C., that Shechem was rightfully the ancient centre of Mosaic cult (p. 73), and that the earliest form of Israelite religion was Sun-worship (p. 59), which may even have survived in some quarters into this era (p. 162). The Samaritan Chronicles are later than and dependent on the historical books of the O.T. but contain insertions original to the Samaritans, some of which include memories of genuine events (p. 154). Although no date can be given for the time when pre-exilic Samaritan literature was lost to posterity, thirteen events which would impair preservation of literature took place before the rise of Islam (pp. 170-1). Although the Book of Abishua as currently extant is a later creation, a former book of that same name may possibly be identified with one of the supposed sources of the Pentateuch, E or J (p. 158). This book is entirely based on discussion of primary sources and hence has virtually no discussion of the views of other scholars, no bibliography and no indexes.

[Peter J. Williams]



48, 1 (1998), pp. 122–23


P.B. Dirksen and A. van der Kooij (ed.), The Peshit?ta as a Translation: Papers Read at the II Peshit?ta Symposium Held at Leiden , 19-21 August. 1993 . Monographs of the Peshit?ta Institute Leiden 8. viii + 240 pp. E.J. Brill, Leiden, New York, Köln, 1995. After the first Peshit?ta Symposium considered the textual history of the Peshit?ta (P), it was appropriate for this second Symposium to consider P as a translation. All items are in English, except for the first, which is in French. This essay by P.G. Borbone presents some preliminary results from the concordance to P which is being co-ordinated by Borbone and K.D. Jenner. It discusses the layout in the concordance of Syriac words and their corresponding Hebrew words and observes (from Numbers and Deuteronomy) P's contrary tendencies both to represent two Hebrew roots by a single Syriac root, thus levelling semantic distinctions, and to use Syriac roots with a more precise meaning than the Hebrew original. Next, P.B. Dirksen discusses the theological profile of the translator of P-Chronicles: his “strong sense of community” (p. 19), “emphasis on the law of God as the path to life” (p. 20), rendition of Hebrew bryt “covenant” (pp. 21-2), and portrayal of David “more or less as a religious example” (pp. 22-3). In the following essay G. Goldenberg treats five diverse issues of idiom in P and briefly the issue of Syriac pronunciation and transliteration. T. Muraoka's reply to Goldenberg's paper seeks to refine or even correct some of his points. K.D. Jenner then analyses (with particular focus on Gen. iv 9) the method that Jacob of Edessa used to render nominal clauses as compared with the methods of P and the Syrohexapla (Syh). He thereby attempts to establish criteria for the reconstruction of non-extant portions of Syh from P and from Jacob of Edessa's revision. J. Joosten considers doublet translations in P-Proverbs and how they “do not indicate conflation of two originally distinct translations, nor extensive editing of an ‘Old Syriac' version of Proverbs; rather, they are typical of the working method of the author—possibly of the group of authors . . .” (p. 63). The translation may have been produced as late as the third century A.D. (p. 66). D.J. Lane then positively evaluates the style of P-Song of Solomon, and argues that variant readings within its manuscript tradition show “a concern for acceptability in both meaning and literary style” (p. 80). J. Lund argues, by considering the divergences between LXX and P-Psalms in the very contexts where four striking agreements occur between the two versions, that P did not use the LXX and that “in the past, the direct influence of the LXX on the P has been grossly exaggerated” (p. 102). Y. Maori discusses the methodology for deciding whether a divergence from a literal rendering of MT in P-Pentateuch attests a non-masoretic Vorlage or is an example of exegesis. Though theoretically one could explain nearly every divergence either way, the method that assumes the least should be adopted, and it is the exegetical approach that is more often to be preferred, with the methodological limitation that “a non-literal translation of P should be ascribed to rabbinic influence only if a similar exegesis can be traced in rabbinic literature to the text in question” (p. 113). R.P. Gordon in his response to Maori argues that the issue whether rabbinic influence can be attested for a translation is not as clear-cut as Maori has supposed. Maori remarks on Gordon's response that his delimitation of rabbinic influence in particular terms was merely “to maintain methodological discipline” (p. 127). The lengthiest contribution (pp. 129-76) is by J.C. de Moor and F. Sepmeijer considering the relationship between P-Joshua and Tg-Joshua by both statistical and individual evaluation of similarities and differences between the two translations. The statistical evaluation (over half the essay consists of lists of renderings by P and Tg side-by-side) indicates relatively consistent divergence between Tg and P, and thus might lead one to suppose that they were not directly connected. However, the individual consideration of some passages leads the authors to suppose that the translator deliberately attempted to conceal his use of Tg, a fact which can be most easily explained if he was a Christian convert. This hypothesis, it is asserted, may also explain the statistical divergence between the two translations. Thereafter, R.B. ter Haar Romeny considers evidence that 5b1 was not a textually unusual manuscript at the time that it was made. D.M. Walter then argues that P-Kings (represented by all the mss), and also its revision (represented by all the mss except for 9a1), used P-Isaiah as a source in a number of texts where Kings and Isaiah are parallel. P-Kings possibly, and its revision definitely, have likewise used P-Jeremiah. Next, J. Cook outlines the method of the Stellenbosch Peshit?ta data-base, and considers the relationship between the LXX and P in Prov. ii and ix. “From the discussion it would seem appropriate to conclude that the Peshit?ta was not dependent on the Septuagint to a large extent” (p. 218). There follows a two-page report by A. van der Kooij on the progress of projects related to the Peshit?ta Institute. A very important feature of this volume is the Appendix by P.B. Dirksen which contains a valuable supplement to his work An Annotated Bibliography of the Peshit?ta of the Old Testament ( Leiden , 1989). This volume may serve as a useful tool to both specialists and beginners in P-studies.

[P.J. Williams]



48, 1 (1998), pp. 124–25


Friedrich Fechter, Bewältigung der Katastrophe: Untersuchungen zu ausgewählten Fremdvölkersprüchen im Ezechielbuch. BZAW 208. x + 350 pp. Walter de Gruyter , Berlin and New York , 1992. DM 144. This is an investigation of the authorship, original function and composition of the oracles against the nations (FVS) in Ezekiel, principally focusing on selections from chs xxv to xxix. Fechter begins his study of each text with a detailed text-critical analysis, usually followed by a literary-critical analysis. In ch. 1 (pp. 26-103) he argues that Ezek. xxv 1-17 is not a unity, but is composed of several units added to the oldest core ( vv. 1-5). This leads to an investigation of the oracle against Ammon in xxv 1-5, which, though it does imitate Ezekiel's style, was not composed by the prophet himself. This text makes the first move towards questioning Yahweh's exclusive relationship with Israel , and thus attempts to explain how Judah could have been visibly allowed by Yahweh to be humiliated. There follows an investigation of ch. xxvi, in particular of xxvi 1-5, which is supposed to be the oldest text concerned with Tyre in the book, and to have served as the basis for the composition of further parts of ch. xxvi. The style of xxvi 1-5 shows the author of that section to have had some close connection with Ezekiel. Ch. 2 (pp. 104-24) is a briefer investigation of the lament for the ship in Ezekiel xxvii. This contains a translation of the original lament as reconstructed by Fechter. The chapter is supposed to have arisen in at least three stages. Ch. 3 (pp. 125-207) investigates xxviii 1-19, which is regarded as composed of two essential units ( vv. 1-10 and 11-19). Vv. 1-10 contain the expansions of vv. 3-5 and 6. Vv. 11-19 tell of a beautiful seal given to a cherub. xxviii 13 has been expanded by a glossator from his memory of the list of precious stones in Exod. xxviii, and the original lament is reconstructed without glosses. It was, perhaps, originally directed towards Zedekiah. Ch. 4 (pp. 208-59) analyses Ezek. xxix: vv. 1-16 contain three levels of expansion of the original text, which was directed only to Pharaoh, not to the inhabitants of Egypt generally, and spoke of a dragon, not a crocodile. Vv. 17-20 and 21 are of separate origin from the rest. Ch. 5 (pp. 260-81) examines xxviii 20-26, of which v. 24 is the oldest part. Ch. 6 (pp. 282-303) brings together the issues of composition and authorial intention from the previous chapters, and surveys separately the redaction of material connected with Tyre and Egypt . Generally, Fechter sees the growth of texts as a complex process. None of the texts investigated are attributed to Ezekiel himself as author: “Ezechiel ist nicht Verfasser der Fremdvölkersprüche . . .” (p. 286). Decisions as to authorship, or the disunity of a text are often made confidently on the basis of small phraseological variations, or a previous critical decision that is itself uncertain. As a standard by which to judge what comes from Ezekiel himself the conclusions of W. Zimmerli and G. Fohrer are provisionally accepted (p. 23). Using this fixed point Fechter applied his axiom “Sollten sich unter den FVS genuine Worte des Propheten finden lassen, so dürfen sich diese sprachlich , vorstellungsmäßig und strukturell nicht signifikant von den ‘echten' Worten des übrigen Buches unterscheiden” (p. 283). The key point of disagreement one may have concerns the precise definition of “signifikant” when one is investigating issues of authorship. A consequence of Fechter's investigation is his conclusion that there is no “ Gattung Fremdvölkerspruch ” (p. 303). The book is full of helpful discussion of details of textual criticism and literary criticism, but shows some weakness in its overall argument. At relevant points in the discussion there are excursuses on subjects, such as the designations of God in Ezekiel (pp. 29-34), quotations of direct speech in the FVS (pp. 41-8), and seven regular formulae in the FVS (pp. 57-73).

[P.J. Williams]



48, 1 (1998), pp. 129–30


R . E. LONGACRE, Joseph: A Story of Divine Providence: A Text Theoretical and Textlinguistic Analysis of Genesis 37 and 39-48. xiv + 322 pp. Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake , 1989 $27.50. This book is written for both O.T. scholars and contemporary text-linguists. “Perhaps the deepest and most pervasive assumption of this volume is the assumption that variation in a text is not random but motivated ” (p. xiii). Longacre, after describing his reasons for “complete skepticism toward the classical sources (JEPD) and their contemporary derivatives” (p. 11), describes in broad outline in chs 1 and 2 the literary structures and setting of the Joseph story. In chs 3 and 4 he expounds his theory of “verb rank” with regard to Hebrew verbs. According to this theory to discover a verb's function we must first discover the type of discourse (narrative, predictive, hortatory, etc.) of a given passage. “Within each of these types [of discourse] the verb forms/clauses used in that type can be arranged on a scale from the most relevant (mainline) in that discourse type, down to the type of verb/clause that is least relevant” (p. 60). Thus although the waw -consecutive (prefix conjugation) holds the highest rank in narrative discourse it does not in other kinds of discourse. Ch. 5 considers the rank of command-type forms, e.g. imperative, jussive, second person waw -consecutive (suffix conjugation) etc., and the ways in which commands may or may not be mitigated. Ch. 6 discusses how participants are referred to, whether nominally or pronominally. Longacre believes pronominal object suffixes on verbs to be distinct in function from the independent object pronoun. The pronominal object suffix is used “to express a dominance pattern in which the participant(s) referred to by the object suffix is under the dominance of someone else”. “Indication of the object participant via 'et + pronoun is the more neutral or unmarked form . . .” (p. 155). Ch. 7 examines the use of nouns and pronouns for speaker and addressees in formulae introducing direct speech, and explains the patterns in terms of the dynamics of the individual dialogues of which they form a part. Ch. 8 discusses the function of dialogue more generally within the Joseph story. Pp. 209-310 contain a display of the “constituent structure” of the Joseph story (at least till Genesis xlv), using indentation to show the hierarchy of various levels of analysis. There is a brief appendix on tagmemics (pp. 311-13). The proposals of the book are generally original, and are also sufficiently distinct from each other that overstatements in some areas do not undermine the value of other parts.




48, 1 (1998), p. 134


R.A. Taylor, The Peshit?ta of Daniel. Monographs of the Peshit?ta Institute Leiden 7. xiv + 344 pp. E. J. Brill, Leiden , New York , Köln, 1994. NLG 189, $122. This study, which developed from a Ph.D. dissertation, is the most thorough and balanced analysis of the Peshit?ta of Daniel to date, and addresses in detail the relationship between the Peshit?ta, MT and the Greek texts of that book (including the deuterocanonical additions with the exception of Susanna). Its methodology has been to list and categorize every “potentially meaningful deviation” from the MT. The MT has been taken, for methodological reasons, as the point of reference, and therefore deviations between the MT and the LXX (Old Greek) and “Theodotion” have also been listed, though they have not been categorized. The combination of these lists takes up over a third of the book. The text is dealt with chapter by chapter. After the list of variations between the texts there is a commentary which brings together variations from the MT of the same type and assesses whether these variations were caused by a non-masoretic Vorlage , translation technique, influence from the Greek versions, or some other cause. Taylor concludes that the Vorlage of the Peshit?ta of Daniel was “very close to the consonantal text of MT”, and that for the deuterocanonical texts examined the “translator seems to have made use of a Greek text similar to, but not identical with, Theodotion-Daniel” (p. 309). In iii 7, v 11, x 9, and xi 10 the Peshit?ta has a reading that “is probably to be preferred over that of MT” (p. 310). Taylor has found “only minimal influence of LXX upon the Peshit?ta of the Book of Daniel”, while “affinities between the Peshit?ta and Theodotion-Daniel are much more pronounced than possible affinities between the Peshit?ta and LXX” (pp. 311-12). Therefore, as a text-critical witness the Peshit?ta is to be valued most “when it differs from Theodotion-Daniel against MT” (p. 313).

  The translation is tentatively dated to the 3rd [2] century A.D., and there is no evidence suggesting more than one translator. The author expresses his disappointment at his conclusion that “there is nothing in either the text or the translation technique of the Syriac version of the Book of Daniel that enables us to identify the religious background of the translator or his community” (p. 323). At appropriate points throughout the work Taylor interacts with a wide range of literature on the text of Daniel, and as a result this volume will be useful to those outside Peshit?ta studies, particularly those studying the Greek texts of Daniel.

[P.J. Williams]



48, 2 (1998), p. 274


M. Baldacci, La Scoperta di Ugarit: La città-stato ai primordi della Bibbia. 414 pp + 32 plates. Piemme, Casale Monferrato, 1996. L. It. 48,000. This is both a comprehensive and a vivid account of the discovery of Ugarit , of its literature, and of the way Ugarit has affected our understanding of the O.T. This book is divided into four sections, the first recounting many of the parallels between Ugaritic texts and the Bible, with a critique of those who seek to minimize the value of such parallels. The second records the archaeological setting of Ugarit, giving a detailed account of the successive stages of construction of the palaces, and describing each part of the city with particular reference to the locations where texts have been discovered. The third section records the historical position of Ugarit from the Early Bronze Period to the abandonment of the city and reconstructs the succession of kings in Ugarit . The final section, after briefly describing how Ugaritic was deciphered, introduces the literature of Ugarit with a particular focus on its mythology. The section also contains translations of the Baal Cycle and the Story of Aqhat, each work having its own introduction. Both translations have been copiously supplied with footnotes, and will no doubt be welcomed by Italian readers since, as the author notes (p. 14), for the most part these texts have not previously been translated into Italian.

  Baldacci could in no way be described as understating the connections between Ugarit and the Bible. He sees the area of Syria and Palestine during the Late Bronze Period as generally uniform culturally, and he is therefore prepared to describe the culture of the Ugarit as ancestral rather than avuncular in its relationship to the culture of the Bible (though, for instance, he is more nuanced in his description on p. 227). Thus, numerous parallels between biblical and Ugaritic phraseology are found and throughout the book many retranslations of biblical passages are given on the basis of Ugaritic. Baldacci's translation method is often as radical in its extent as that of Mitchell Dahood with whom he studied. The parallels between Ugaritic literature and the Bible are used to argue for an early dating of some documents. Thus, for instance, it is claimed that Ps. lxviii may contain elements from as early as the 13th century B.C. (p. 21), and the book of Job elements from at least the 11th century B.C. (pp. 39 and 90). In one case of early dating Baldacci goes so far as to call his case “inconfutabile” (p. 41). One of the errors of fact in this book is that several times (pp. 40 twice, 56, 196, 197, 277) Pharaohs from the nineteenth dynasty are said to be from the seventeenth (although this mistake is not made consistently; see pp. 106 and 197). The book is superbly illustrated with tables, drawings and colour photographs, and certainly provides an account of Ugarit that will be of help to those of all levels of interest in things Ugaritic.

[P.J. Williams]



48, 2 (1998), pp. 286-87


Jan A. Wagenaar, Oordeel en heil: een onderzoek naar samenhang tussen de heils- en onheilsprofetieën in Micha 2-5 . x + 310 pp. Author's edition of a doctoral dissertation at the University of Utrecht , 1995. A copy may be obtained by transferring NLG 45 to the Giro account 4400195 of J.A. Wagenaar in Utrecht , the Netherlands , mentioning “dissertation”. This dissertation poses the familiar question why in the book of Micah we find the juxtaposition of oracles of judgement and salvation. Before considering this question in detail the author makes a thorough analysis from a textual and philological angle of the section of the book in question (Micah ii-v). The analysis on the whole supports the validity of the MT, and argues that the LXX was translated from a text that was, at least consonantally, close to the MT, even if the LXX translators interpreted the consonants differently from the Masoretes. Wagenaar also offers his own translation of these chapters. After this first section he expounds three models for explaining the alternation between oracles of judgement and salvation. In each case he describes individually the views of proponents of the particular model in question, before considering the validity of the model.

  The first model is the composition model, according to which the alternation between oracles of judgement and salvation is due to deliberate arrangement and shows signs of internal cohesion. A coherent message is conveyed in the book by this alternation. As proponents of this model Wagenaar considers in turn J.T. Willis, W. Rudolph, L.C. Allen, D.G. Hagstrom and K.H. Cuffey. On the whole, Wagenaar is unimpressed by these authors' claims of the use of chiasmus, inclusio, catchwords or ideas, and other such literary devices within the seven chapters of the book of Micah. After all, he notes, prophecies with similarities in vocabulary can be placed next to each other precisely because of the similarities they have (p. 114), but this does not prove that an overall structure is marked when a scholar finds such patterns. Some patterns arise from chance and some are found only when the scholar is artificially selective in dealing with the evidence. For instance, the calls to hear in i 2, iii 1 and vi 1 cannot be regarded as catch-phrases marking the three sections of the book, since such a tripartite division ignores similar calls in iii 9 and vi 9 (pp. 117-8). Wagenaar concludes that the composition model does not provide an adequate explanation for the alternation of oracles evident in the book.

  The second model is what Wagenaar calls the “discussion model”. This model, proposed by A.S. van der Woude and J. de Waard, holds that Micah ii-v is a discussion between Micah and his opponents. The oracles of judgement are attributed to Micah, and the oracles of salvation to his opponents. Wagenaar agrees with Van der Woude's proposal that chs vi and vii are of a different origin from the rest of the book. However, he believes that there is insufficient evidence in the text to suppose the regular changes in speaker supposed by the discussion model. Other texts which have been held to show similar unmarked changes in speaker are shown not to provide true parallels. Wagenaar also finds it difficult to believe that in a discussion Micah's opponents would be given the final word as in v 9-14 (p. 155). The discussion model, like the composition model is thus weighed and found wanting.

  The third model for explaining the book's origin is the redaction-historical model, which regards the book of Micah as the result of a long process of growth, rather than as a literary unity. The representatives of this position whose work is analysed are Th. Lescow, I. Willi-Plein, J. Jeremias, J.L. Mays, H.W. Wolff and E. Otto. According to most of these the oracles of doom can mainly be ascribed to the prophet Micah himself. The salvation oracles have been added at later stages in the history of the book. Different types of oracle correspond to the different phases of history during which the book has been redacted. Wagenaar finds the redaction-historical approach the most plausible, but is not convinced that merely the fact that an oracle is one of doom can be used as a criterion for its authenticity.

  Having thus favoured the third model Wagenaar finally turns to his own explanation of the oracles from the redaction-historical angle. He considers the background of each oracle individually and concludes that ii 1-5 is the work of “disciples” of Micah in the 7th century. ii 6-11 is the product of a similar group at the end of the 7th century, or during the 6th century. ii 12-13, which is very much connected to iv 6-7, dates from the post-exilic, or late exilic period. iii 1-12 is the work of people who may have had some connection with the prophet Jeremiah (p. 239). Although Micah iv 1-5 contains wording and ideas almost identical with those found in Isa. ii 2-5, the small variations in wording are such as fit the oracle in both books to its own context within each book. The passage is probably from the post-exilic period inserted into Isaiah and Micah either by a single redactor, or by two different redactors. iv 8, v 1-4a and v 9-13 are late or post-exilic, and iv 9-10 and 14 early exilic, while iv 11-13 and v 6-8 are certainly post-exilic. v 14 and i 2 provide a redactional framework from the post-exilic period. Wagenaar concludes that, even though certain are of similar date, this does not necessarily point to only a single level of redaction in that period. New oracles are called for by new situations, and these are laid in the mouth of the “legendary” prophet Micah (pp. 288-90). There is a five-page English summary at the end of the book. One possibility that Wagenaar has not considered sufficiently is the possibility of adjacent oracles being compositional units and yet displaying no literary structures indicating unity. Just as the presence of literary structures need not indicate compositional unity, the absence of such structures need not indicate disunity. Wagenaar, however, does provide a searching critique of prevalent methodologies for finding literary structures, a critique that should not be ignored.

[P.J. Williams]



48, 4 (1998), pp. 565–66


E. Bons, Psalm 31—Rettung als Paradigma: Eine synchron-leserorientierte Analyse. Frankfurter theologische Studien 48. xii + 307 pp. Joseph Knecht, Frankfurt am Main, 1994. According to the author Ps. xxxi has suffered neglect from scholars, and, when it has received attention, has generally also received negative evaluation. Thus J. Olshausen is quoted as saying, “Das Ganze ist ein Gedicht ohne Originalität” (p. 2). After the introduction Bons undertakes a re-evaluation of the psalm in two stages. The first is a detailed analysis of words and phrases of the text under consideration (pp. 33-138). This provides the foundation for the second stage, namely the analysis of the psalm as a whole (pp. 139-274). The author suggests (p. xii) that readers who do not have the time or inclination to wade through the first part of the work may proceed directly from the introduction to the second part. So that the distinctives of the MT and LXX are not mixed, the text analysed by Bons is that of BHS (i.e. Codex Firkowitsch) and not an eclectic text. However, this does not mean that other witnesses such as the LXX are ignored. In Bons's words (p. 27), “Bleibt aber somit die LXX als ‘eigenständiger' Text erhalten, so entsteht auch nicht der Nachteil, daß sie nach ihrer textkritischen Nutzung beiseite gelegt und aus der weiteren Untersuchung ausgeschlossen wird.” Before the detailed analysis of Part 1, Bons produces an “Arbeitsübersetzung” printed alongside the MT (with 15 accidental changes from the text of BHS ). Part 1 then discusses in detail the meaning of the words and phrases, with particular concentration on difficulties. This focus on difficulties means that, whereas v. 14 receives lengthy attention (pp. 92-114), vv. 15-17 are passed over in silence.

  Part 2 then considers issues throughout the psalm under various headings: “Das Verhältnis des Sprechers zu Jahwe”, “Die Situation des Sprechers”, “Jahwes Verhalten gegenüber den Menschen” and “Die Rettung des Sprechers”. Rather than seeing the psalm as containing a rather incongruous juxtaposition of expressions of thanksgiving for deliverance already received, and of pleas for future deliverance (compare for instance vv. 9 and 10) Bons perceives a development through the psalm. Thus while vv. 16b and 17b ask for deliverance in words based on vv. 2-5, the formulation of the plea is less urgent in the later passage, because of the fact that meanwhile (e.g. v. 15) the speaker has found himself able to express trust in God (pp. 170-1). The speaker is sufficiently encouraged by the end to exhort others to take heart in their wait for deliverance ( v. 25). Bons divides the psalm into five strophes ( vv. 2-5, 6-9, 10-14, 15-21 and 22-5) marked as units at the levels of both form and content. The psalm does not spring from a specific situation of need and deliverance, but is rather paradigmatic. Its lack of concrete detail about the situation of the speaker, rather than being a weakness of an artificial composition, is a strength that allows readers to apply the psalm to their own situation. Moreover, the author of the psalm should not uncritically be identified with the speaker in the psalm, since there is no way of knowing the extent to which the author based the speaker's expressions upon his own experiences (p. 257).

  A final section called “Wirkungsgeschichtliche Beobachtungen” (pp. 259-74) examines four levels of reception of the psalm. First, it considers the way Ps. xxxi was placed within the first book of Psalms, and especially its relationship to Ps. xxx, xxxii and xxxiii. Secondly and briefly, it considers the use of Ps. xxxi in the Qumran Hodayoth. Thirdly, the LXX of Ps. xxxi is examined, and finally the use of Ps. xxxi 6 in the mouth of Jesus on the cross in Lk. xxiii 46.

  Though Bons deals with only one psalm, some of the detailed arguments in this book should make a significant contribution to questions about the Sitz im Leben of psalms generally.

[P.J. Williams]



48, 4 (1998), pp. 566–67


Kristin De Troyer, Het einde van de Alpha-tekst van Ester: Vertaal- en verhaaltechniek van MT 8,1-17, LXX 8,1-17 en AT 7,14-41. 361 pp. Peeters, Leuven, 1997. BEF 1600. This monograph is more than an examination of a brief section of the second Greek text of Esther sometimes known as the Alpha Text (AT). A thorough introduction discusses the various editions of the Greek texts and the varying systems of versification used for Esther and its appendices. The history of research on the relationship between the MT and LXX with its appendices is surveyed from the 18th century to the present. From this survey it emerges that the unity of the MT is contested, that LXX it generally viewed as a translation of the MT, and that AT could be (1) a recension of the LXX, (2) a translation following the LXX, or (3) translated from a Hebrew Vorlage differing from the MT (p. 25). The views of R. Hanhart, H.J. Cook, E. Tov, D.J.A. Clines and M.V. Fox are then further examined before De Troyer outlines her own methodology. Her examination concentrates on ch. viii in the MT and LXX and the AT parallel since the three texts show greater differences here than in previous chapters. Moreover, according to some this chapter contains the ending of an older form of the book of Esther (p. 50). What follows in the next three chapters is a “close reading” of the chosen section in the MT, LXX and AT.

  An examination of the MT ch. viii reveals that it is a careful composition using much material from previous chapters of the book (listed on p. 129). De Troyer concludes that the author of the chapter was the same as the author of the rest of the book, and that the MT is a coherent whole. The LXX is then examined with particular reference to its relationship with the MT. It uses good Greek, makes syntactic and semantic changes, and introduces simplifications, but was certainly made from a Hebrew Vorlage like the MT. The LXX changes the story at points: Haman is called a “Macedonian”, and Mordecai is a priestly figure. AT vii 14-41 (investigated without appendix E = AT vii 22-32) is found to be a complete retelling and restructuring of the story found in LXX—a sort of “rewritten Bible” (p. 261). Mordecai rather than Esther is the main character. Some parts of the story of the LXX are entirely dropped in AT, while AT contains additional parts composed on the basis of material it has already used. Hebrew colouring in AT is to be explained as from the LXX's influence and does not testify to a non-Masoretic Hebrew Vorlage . From its use of Macedonian month names AT is to be dated after A.D. 15.

  Having examined the three main texts in chs 2-4, in ch. 5 De Troyer examines appendix E in the LXX and AT. A consequence of her view that AT is a retelling of the LXX should be that the LXX appendix E has also been retold by AT. From an examination of the two texts De Troyer concludes that AT has deliberately integrated appendix E with its surrounding context, and that therefore contra K.H. Jobes it is the LXX not AT that preserves the older form of the appendix. Moreover, De Troyer argues that the LXX has never existed without appendix E, and that appendices B and E (unlike the other appendices) were originally composed in Greek.

  Ch. 6 brings together the conclusions of previous chapters and adds some additional hypotheses. AT is a rewriting of the LXX with a specific person and historical context in mind. Mordecai is Agrippa, Haman is Flaccus and King Ahasuerus is Claudius Caesar. No guess is made as to the identity of Esther. AT is about Agrippa who persuaded Claudius to allow the Jews to live according to their own laws. It was written by a Jew in Rome around A.D. 40-41. AT should now be taken to stand for “Agrippa Text”. This book will interest historian, textual critic and literary critic alike.

  A brief English summary follows. Greek accentuation is frequently wrong.

[P.J. Williams]



49, 2 (1999), pp. 268–70


Jan J. Boersema, Thora en Stoa: over mens en natuur: een bijdrage aan het milieudebat over duurzaamheid en kwaliteit. iv + 319 pp. G.F. Callenbach, Baarn, 1997. NLG 39.90. In this book Boersema, a scientist, seeks to investigate the relevance of the O.T. and of Greek philosophy (especially that of the Stoics) to modern environmental debates. The first of five chapters considers the problem of the environment in western culture, particularly focusing on environmental debates in the Netherlands. For a lasting solution to these problems we are directed to consider the cosmologies that have most influenced our modern culture, namely those found in the O.T. and in Greek philosophy. Lynn White has blamed the modern ecological crisis on “Judeo-Christian teleology” that has no regard for long-term sustainability. Boersema therefore investigates in particular the relationship between humans and nature presented in the cosmologies that have moulded our cultures. The chapter ends with a brief introduction to the Bible, for those who need it. Ch. 2 is devoted to the study of Gen. i-iii. Gen. i 1-ii 4a is analysed with particular attention paid to the “image of God”, and the verbs rdh and kbš . These verbs do have a harsh overtone in other occurrences, but given the original vegetarian diet of human beings, and the absence of animal death which this implies, the verbs rdh and kbš cannot be understood to condone exploitation of nature by humans. Since in Gen. i 1-ii 4a humans are not in any way mediators between the Creator and the rest of nature, nature does not derive its value from its usefulness to them (p. 74). Gen. ii presents a harmonious relationship between the man and nature, but the changes introduced by the curses in Gen. iii affect the very order of creation. For ch. 3 Boersema examines the lists of clean and unclean animals in Lev. xi and Deut. xiv. Following Mary Douglas, these laws are understood to be connected to fundamental social values. As in Gen. i, the method of locomotion used by each animal is an important feature for their classification. Rumination is seen as a guarantee that an animal is vegetarian (p. 131), and therefore reflects the ideal of the absence of death seen in Gen. i. Carnivores cause death and therefore are unclean. Animals that traverse fundamental boundaries by lacking the usual characteristics of their environment are considered unclean because they violate the principle of separation found in Gen. i. Thus water creatures without fins and scales and birds that do not generally fly are considered unclean. No single principle underlying the whole of the food laws can be found (p. 159). However, the Israelites needed to keep the laws in order to be a holy people in the midst of peoples who were not holy. By the food laws they demonstrated that death and bloodshed, mixing of order, and blemishes of any kind were not consistent with the ideal of the creation and the Creator (p. 178).

  Ch. 4 is a brief consideration of Greek attitudes to nature. Plato, Aristotle, Theophrastus and the Stoics held nature to be an ordered whole. They also believed in a scale of nature in which human beings were at the top. Everything below on that scale (and thus the rest of nature) derived its value from what was above it. Nature was there to serve human beings and had no intrinsic value. Pythagoras, Plutarch and Porphyry constitute rare dissenters from this view. Ch. 5 introduces a comparison between the attitude towards nature in the O.T. and in the Greek philosophers already considered. While in the Greek philosophies nature is there for human beings (i.e. it is subordinate in a linear hierarchy), in the O.T. Boersema sees a triangular hierarchy with God at the highest corner, and non-human creation as the lowest. Human beings stand in-between, but not directly (p. 209). Nature's value is derived from God, not from them. From the 2nd century A.D. onwards the author sees a clear Hellenization among the Church Fathers in their explanations of the O.T.'s attitude to nature. There arose a linear hierarchy so that nature was seen as entirely created for humans. A second stage of Hellenization took place during the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance as conceptions of the world became more mechanized. These Hellenized views and the anthropocentric environmental policies based on them can now be re-evaluated without severing the links that modern societies have with their heritage if re-evaluation is carried out on the basis of the texts that have deeply influenced our cultures. A summary of the book is contained on pp. 238-45, and an English version of this summary on pp. 246-53. Boersema writes with considerable competence as far as O.T. criticism is concerned, and therefore, regardless of one's view of his general argument, his treatment of biblical passages will be of benefit to biblical scholars, as well as to wider audiences.

[P.J. Williams]



49, 4 (1999), pp. 568–70


J.A. Emerton (ed.), Congress Volume: Cambridge 1995. SVT 66. viii + 420 pp. E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1997. The volume opens with J.A. Emerton's presidential address on the use of comparative Semitic philology in Hebrew lexicography. Against recent negative evaluations of the comparative method by J.F. Elwolde and D.J.A. Clines, Emerton argues for a “sober, careful and disciplined application” of cognate languages to shed light on the meaning of some Hebrew words. The following twenty essays present versions of the invited papers for the congress. Adele Berlin argues that while biblical narrative has recently enjoyed the attention of literary critics, biblical poetry has not enjoyed any comparable research into how it achieves its meaning. In poetry, in addition to parallelism, metaphor plays a leading role. “Parallelism juxtaposes verbal similarities and differences while metaphor juxtaposes non-verbal similarities and differences” (p. 28). Phyllis A. Bird (pp. 37-80) argues at length on both sociological and literary grounds that the male cult prostitute did not exist in ancient Israel , and that the term qdš(h) should not be translated “sacred prostitute”. In sum, “The ‘male cult prostitute' is a literary creation of a later age, beginning with the shadowy complement of the qdšh in Deut. xxiii 18 and culminating in the collective representation of male hierodules by a late Deuteronomistic editor” (p. 63). K.J. Cathcart surveys the relationship between O. T. studies and the emerging disciplines of Egyptology and Assyriology in the nineteenth century. Particular attention is paid to the role of Edward Hincks (1792-1866) and to his decipherment of Akkadian. J.-L. Cunchillos introduces “La banque de données philologiques sémitiques nord-occidentales”, or BDFSN, a data-base initially for Ugaritic, but which ultimately may contain data from all north-west Semitic languages. The aim is that BDFSN may be used for “l'herméneumatique”, a term coined by Cunchillos meaning “interprétation automatique”, which fortunately does not make the humans entirely redundant. John Day considers resurrection imagery from the Ugaritic Baal myth to the book of Daniel. In brief, the Canaanite imagery is demythologized in Hos. v-vi and xiii-xiv; Hos. xiii-xiv influences Isa. xxvi-xxvii (the two passages show a series of eight parallels) and Hos. xiii 14 is reinterpreted in Isa. xxvi 19; finally, Isa. xxvi 19 is reinterpreted and remythologized in Dan. xii 2, which Day believes is the earliest indisputable reference to a literal resurrection of the dead in the O.T. K.J. Dell argues that wisdom literature still holds too marginal a place in O.T. studies, and that it has been thus marginalized due to scholarly preoccupation, following Wellhausen, with plotting linear development in the religion of Israel. M.V. Fox answers the question “What is the book of Proverbs about?” by plotting five themes that distinguish it both from antecedent Israelite literature, and from wisdom literature of other A.N.E. cultures. Judith Hadley takes up the theme of Lady Wisdom and argues that she is a compensation for an eradication of the goddesses Asherah and Astarte from Israel . Thus she maintains that the meaning of asherah developed from denoting a goddess during the monarchic period to referring to a mere object during the exile (p. 169). To this development the appearance of Lady Wisdom is a “counter reaction (perhaps even subconsciously) where the feminine needs to be expressed” (p. 181). A. van der Kooij considers the relationship between literary criticism and textual criticism with particular focus on Josh. xx, 1 Sam. xvii and Jer. xxxiii where LXX and MT notoriously differ. He maintains that a seemingly literal translation technique in LXX does not preclude the possibility that the translator also carried out major editorial changes. He finds the second century B.C. an important time for such editorial activity and it is to this period, for instance, that he attributes the omission of Jer. xxxiii 14-26 in the LXX tradition. Alfred Marx stresses the central role of sacrifice in ancient Israel , and to demonstrate this examines a wide range of O.T. texts, and in particular Exod. xx 23-26, which he regards as a carefully structured and crucial pericope. Tryggve Mettinger searches for the roots of Israelite aniconism. By looking for de facto aniconism rather than specifically “programmatic repudiation of images” he finds signs of “material aniconism” among the Phoenicians, Nabateans, pre-Islamic Arabs and in Bronze Age Syria . This, he believes, is the West Semitic background from which Israelite iconoclasm developed after the fall of the Northern Kingdom . Alexander Rofé seeks to identify aggadic interpolations and elaborations within MT, LXX and DSS. Techniques of elaboration discussed include indentification of originally distinct characters, the attribution of actions to additional characters, and the diversification of roles played originally by a single group of characters. Hedwige Rouillard-Bonraisin considers the history of botany in the A.N.E. during the last one hundred years, and surveys the contribution to the discipline made directly and indirectly by scholars such as I. Löw and G. Dalman. H.-C. Schmitt argues on the grounds of overarching themes that the narrative from Gen. i to 2 Kgs xxv is bound together by a late deuteronomistic redaction—a redaction “die die Priesterschrift samt spätpriesterlicher Erweiterungen bereits voraussetzt” (p. 278). H. Spieckermann analyses the O.T. concept of Stellvertretung , and finds five features central to this concept in the unique passage of Isa. liii. He sees the roots of the concept in the tension between the intercessory and the suffering roles of the prophet, particularly in the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. C. Uehlinger discusses at length, and with copious illustrations, the issues of figurative policy and visual propaganda of the Assyrians and Achaemenids, especially in Palestine . The visions in the book of Zechariah display a knowledge of the propaganda of Darius I. D. Ussishkin compares Jezreel, Samaria and Megiddo as cities of the Northern Kingdom . He argues from the latest archaeological evidence that Jezreel was not a royal capital but rather a military base, Samaria was the royal capital, and Megiddo was an important administrative centre. M. Vervenne considers how to identify deuteronomic elements in the Tetrateuch, deliberately leaving aside the traditional allocation of texts to particular sources. He uses criteria of both form and style, and concludes that Exod. xiii 17-xiv 31 contains “éléments de type deutéronomique” (p. 379). The late Michael Weitzman examines “serious discrepancies” between the Hebrew and Syriac texts of Job. These may be due to a non-Masoretic Vorlage of the Peshitta, to change within the Peshitta's own transmission history, or to the process of translation itself. All other things being equal the explanation of translation technique is to be preferred because both Hebrew and Syriac transmission was in principal faithful. Weitzman argues that there are cases where the Hebrew consonantal text has been manipulated by the translator, or where the translator has followed tenuous word associations within the Syriac to produce a meaning. I. Willi-Plein shows from scrutiny of a range of texts that Michal plays a key role within the texts describing the beginnings of the Davidic monarchy.

[P.J. Williams]



49, 4 (1999), p. 576


Harry A. Hoffner, Hittite Myths (2nd edn). xii + 121 pp. SBL Writings from the Ancient World 2. Scholars Press, Atlanta, Georgia, 1998. This English translation of Hittite myths flows about as smoothly as one could expect, given the fragmentary state of some of the texts. While its initial survey of matters Hittite and the introductions to each of the twenty-four myths make the volume accessible to the novice, the careful translation contains many details that will also enlighten the specialist. Of particular interest to O.T. scholars is the inclusion in this edition of the “Song of Release”, which provides parallels to the d e rôr of Lev. xxv. The volume concludes inter alia with a bibliography, a much needed glossary and an index. On p. 72 “Parables Two and Six” should read “Parables Three and Six”.

[P.J. Williams]



50, 1 (2000), p. 135


M.J. Selman, 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles (2 vols). Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. 551 pp. Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, 1994. This careful and original commentary sees Chronicles as a work separate from Ezra and Nehemiah (p. 69), composed around 400 B.C., or slightly later (p. 71), the real interest of which “lies outside the purely historical sphere” (p. 21). Chronicles is held to be arranged carefully, ordering history into patterns (p. 29), including several examples of chiasmus (pp. 93, 285, 297, 385), with its main thrust in the combined narrative of David and Solomon (p. 27). Contrary to prevailing opinion, Selman maintains that in Chronicles “David's sins have been highlighted rather than suppressed” (p. 36; see also a similar statement concerning Solomon, p. 344). At various points the relevance of passages for Christians is explained (e.g. pp. 88, 322-23).

[P.J. Williams]



50, 2 (2000), p. 265


P. Buis, Le Livre des Rois. Sources Bibliques. 312 pp. J. Gabalda, Paris, 1997. A literal translation is placed alongside an insightful and original commentary. Though the theological nature of Kings is recognized it remains “une source incontournable pour écrire l'histoire d'Israël et du Moyen-Orient du x e au vi e siècle avant J.-C.” (p. 9). Its sources may be as early as Abiathar the priest (p. 43). The author's broad hypothesis for the formation of much of Kings (excluding inter alia the history of Solomon, the Elijah cycle, and the Assyrian invasion) is that a first edition during Hezekiah's reign narrated events until Ahaz and Hoshea, a Deuteronomistic redaction at the end of the seventh century narrated events until Josiah, and an exilic redaction included the history of the last four kings of Judah (p. 19). The history of Solomon developed in at least five stages over four hundred years (p. 103). Buis does not comment on every verse. For instance, the verses in 1 Kgs i 42-49 receive no individual comment. This leaves space for discussion of the more substantial issues raised by each passage. The Septuagint's account of Jeroboam's rise to power is printed in full on pp. 124-6. There are some signs of carelessness: multiple typos appear on some pages (53, 83, 144, 152), Cyrus Gordon's Ugaritic Textbook is ascribed to R.P. Gordon (pp. 8, 36), and it is said that a fast commemorated the death of Jehoiachin through the tenth century (for “dixième” read “sixième”, p. 301). The index also contains a number of errors.

[P.J. Williams]



50, 2 (2000), pp. 278–79


Ulrike Schorn, Ruben und das System der zwölf Stämme Israels: Redaktionsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen zur Bedeutung des Erstgeborenen Jakobs . BZAW 248. xiv, + 302 pp. Walter de Gruyter , Berlin , 1997. This is an abbreviated revision of a doctoral dissertation at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. It is a detailed investigation of all the O.T. texts that in any way list the tribes of Israel, or the sons of Jacob From an analysis of all these texts it considers the role of Reuben. Whereas Noth has maintained that both the tribal eponym (i.e. sons of Jacob) system and the tribe system are pre-monarchic, Schorn maintains that neither of these systems dates from before 722 B.C. (p. 104). The relevant O.T. texts are usually divided by Schorn into redactional layers, e.g. Gen. xxix 31-xxx 24 with a Grundschicht and two further layers (p. 72). Texts are generally dated late, e.g. Gen. xxxxix, not before the fifth century (p. 263), Deut. xxxiii, post-exilic (p. 109). While Jdg. v contains an older core the mention of Reuben in that chapter is considered a later addition (p. 121). The silence of the Mesha Inscription about Reuben is interpreted to indicate that Reuben could never have possessed the territories assigned to it in Num. xxxii (p. 95).

[P.J. Williams]



50, 2 (2000), p. 279


Horacio Simian-Yofre, La “Chiesa” dell'Antico Testamento: Costituzione, crisi e speranza della comunit à credente dell'Antico Testamento. 176 pp. Edizioni Dehoniane, Bologna, 1996. The result of lectures given in 1991 at the Pontifical theological faculty of San Giovanni Evangelista in Sicily, this book divides into three sections considering respectively the constitution, the crises and the hope of the believing community in the O.T. The section on constitution considers the roles of Abraham (ch. 1) and Jacob (ch. 2), the significance of the Exodus (ch. 3), and the function of covenants (ch. 4). Each teaches something to the believing community today. Abraham illustrates leaving a familiar culture in a move of faith, Jacob demonstrates inter alia the need for reconciliation with brothers, the Exodus shows the connection between faith and political liberation, and covenants reflect the duty of humans to follow God. The section on crisis in the believing community considers conflict between civil and religious authorities (ch. 5), prophetic confrontation of priests (ch. 6), and the tensions between rich and poor (ch. 7). The final chapters of the book are concerned with hope. Ch. 8 considers the family as a sign from God among the believing group (Isaiah vii-viii, Hosea i-iii). Ch. 9 shows the importance of a balanced evaluation of human history, as illustrated in Hosea's reflection on events of the conflict recorded in Judges xix-xxi. Ch. 10 considers peace as an expression of universal salvation, dealing with Isaiah ii 2-5, which is viewed not as an absolute promise by God, but as a prediction conditional upon the behaviour of God's people (p. 151). The final chapter considers the significance of time, past, present and future on the basis of Qohelet. Hope broadens our view of the present, but without the control of memory it will be unrealistic. Throughout the book the author seeks to apply biblical principles to contemporary society.

[P.J. Williams]



50, 2 (2000), p. 283


Eibert J.C. Tigchelaar, Prophets of Old and The Day of the End: Zechariah, the Book of Watchers and Apocalyptic. OTS 35. x + 278 pp. E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1996. A slightly revised version of a doctoral dissertation at the University of Groningen, this book is a consideration of apocalyptic from studies in Zech. i-vi; ix-xiv and 1 Enoch i-xxxvi. These particular texts have been selected by the author on the grounds of their datability (p. 13). After a chapter introducing apocalyptic and the difficulty of defining it, Tigchelaar proceeds to examine sections of each text in turn, discussing inter alia issues of composition, literary structure and theme. In his investigation of passages he suggests a number of original emendations or rereadings of texts, such as “… (the olive trees) whose leaves are shining like gold” (Zech. iv 12; p. 41); “Where then are your fathers? Or did the prophets talk idly to them?” (Zech. i 5; p. 84); the rod usually known as “Favour” is understood as “Community” or “Unity” (Zech. xi 7; p. 113); “and Yahweh will come to his holy temple … his standing place” (Zech. xiv 5; p. 227). He argues for the following positions on the composition of texts: Zech. xii 1-xiii 6 was originally separate from Zech. ix-xi (p. 116); Zech. xiv is a “deliberate fusion of traditions which were originally distinct”, though with some secondary material (p. 218); 1 Enoch vi-xi is “the product of an author who joined several traditions into a literary text” (p. 176), though it is separate from chs xii-xvi (p. 166), which display less compositional unity (p. 183); chs i-v and xxxiii-xxxvi are the work of the final editor of the Book of Watchers (p. 163). Tigchelaar's concluding chapter seeks to bring a number of themes from the previous pages together. One of these is that in all the texts examined “revelation stems from the interpretation of tradition” (p. 260). This fact seems to be the inspiration for the main title of the monograph. As he puts it for Zech. i 2-6, “it is hardly possible to distinguish between revelation and interpretation. The words of Yahweh which were proclaimed by the prophets of old remain valid. Hence revelation coincides with or arises from interpretation” (p. 244). The book ends with a challenge to clearer thinking about the view that apocalyptic writing arises from situations of crisis.

[P.J. Williams]



50, 3 (2000), p. 415


Cyrus H. Gordon and Gary A. Rendsburg, The Bible and the Ancient Near East. 345 pp. W.W. Norton, New York, 1997. With Rendsburg's collaboration this is a thoroughly revised version of Gordon's previous three editions, Introduction to Old Testament Times (1953), The World of the Old Testament (1958) and The Ancient Near East (1965), now updated to include discussions on such topics as Ebla and the “House of David” inscription from Tel Dan. It is a panoramic survey of the literature and history of the ancient Near East, finding extensive parallels to the Bible in sources ranging from Homer to the Nuzi texts. The book is aimed at a popular audience, retelling well-known biblical and extrabiblical narratives with copious explanatory asides. Since the territory is so familiar the book may prove less attractive to scholars, but because of its range it throws up possible parallels and causal connections that should be of great interest even to specialists. Among the many unusual suggestions made is that Elisha asked not for a double portion of Elijah's spirit, but for two-thirds of it (p. 228). At the level of framework the authors argue for a twelfth-century exodus, a Pentateuch basically from the time of David and Solomon and pure monotheism developing in the sixth century B.C. The authors state their views unguardedly at times: “It cannot be overemphasized that the discoveries of archeology tend to justify the literal meaning of the text as against scholarly and traditional interpretation. This holds not only for the Bible but for ancient texts in general” (p. 117, n. 17). The authors' desire to read the text literally and yet rationalistically produces the following analysis of Joshua's activities at Jericho: “When the Israelites finally attacked, they shouted and blasted their horns, and it is quite possible that the sound waves created by these actions would have weakened the walls to force them to collapse” (p. 170). If it were as simple as that it is surprising that the Big Bad Wolf approach to house demolition was not adopted in subsequent military history. A couple of dittographies of about a line each occur on pp. 230 and 233, but in general the book is well produced and is one that should be read widely.

[P.J. Williams]



50, 3 (2000), p. 416


Michael D. Goulder, The Psalms of the Return (Book V, Psalms 107-150). JSOT Supplement Series 258. 352 pp. Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield, 1998. This is the fourth of Goulder's innovative studies of the Psalter in which he argues that the collection to which psalms belong (often reflected in the superscriptions) is the key to understanding them correctly. In elegant prose, indulging in much tangential to his main theses, he maintains that there are three collections of psalms in the fifth book of the Psalter: cvii-cxix, cxx-cxxxiv, and cxxxv-cl. The Songs of Ascent show parallels to the Nehemiah “Memoir”, which Goulder divides into consecutive sections, each printed alongside its matching psalm. With only minor tinkering with the order of the material in Nehemiah he is able to find some rather striking parallels. He also finds alternation between morning and evening songs in all three collections of psalms. Pss. cv-cvi from book four of the Psalter were formerly more closely connected to Pss. cvii-cxviii. Each collection thus has about the right number of psalms for two to be sung per day during a festival. Pss. cv-cxviii were sung at the Passover in 516 B.C. when the Temple was rebuilt (p. 236, or was it 517 [p. 36]?). [3] Goulder finds that Ps. cxiv appropriately was set at the time when the crossing of the Red Sea was remembered, and that Ps. cviii, which mentions Succoth (v. 8), was sung on 16 Nisan, the time he claims Israel encamped in Succoth according to the book of Exodus. Pss. cv-cxviii were created for Passover after the first Ascent of exiles (under Sheshbazzar, Joshua and Zerubbabel), Pss. cxx-cxxxiv were compiled for the feast of Tabernacles in 445 B.C. after the second Ascent (under Nehemiah), and Pss. cxxxv-cl, were modelled on Pss. cv-cxviii and were created after the third Ascent (under Ezra), also for the feast of Tabernacles (p. 316). “By 400 BCE, we must think, the Jerusalem Temple had all our 150 psalms …” (p. 304). An appendix deals with the relevant history as related in the book of Ezra, which in large part is considered “valueless” (p. 322).

[P.J. Williams]



50, 3 (2000), pp. 423–24


New Light Bible: New International Reader's Version. vi + 2105 pp. Hodder & Stoughton, London , 1998. For those who find the New International Version too hard to read because “the older a translation gets, the harder it becomes to understand” (Introduction, p. v), its offshoot the NIrV is offered as the ideal Bible translation. The NIrV attempts to be readable by using single clause sentences. Sometimes the short sentences are the result of the use of full-stops where others would use commas. By the proliferation of full-stops a relative clause is separated from its main clause (Hag. ii 9), and an apodosis is separated from its protasis (Mal. iv 6). Lk xiv 26 seems to contain an example of a full-stop that replaced a comma in the editing process without capitalisation being introduced. There are typos in Hos. i 1 and Joel i 12, while “You sacrifice disabled or animals that are ill” (Mal. i 8) can hardly boast the readability the translation is seeking to achieve. If potential users of this translation really are as simple as the level of the translation indicates, they will certainly be perplexed by the significance of the line before Mk xvi 9-20, and the lines before and after Jn vii 53-viii 11, since the absence of footnotes leaves the textual situation unexplained. Jonah's Nineveh is shrunk to Theodoret's scale: “In fact, it took about three days to see all of it” (Jon. 3:3). We are told in the introduction to the book of Nehemiah that Nehemiah was appointed governor by Cyrus.

[P.J. Williams]



51, 3 (2001), p. 427


José Vílchez, Rut y Ester. Nueva Biblia Española: Narraciones II. 418 pp. Verbo Divino, Estella (Navarra), 1998. Introduction, extensive bibliography, translation, textual notes and discursive comment are masterfully provided for these two megillot. The commentary is especially strong in its appreciation of the nuances of the dramas affecting the protagonists. Vílchez maintains that the book of Ruth is from the last third of the fourth century and that prior to its composition its stories had a long period of oral transmission (p. 37). Replete with literary structures, nearly every section is covered by a chiasm or at least an inclusio: in fact the whole book is structured, with chapters i and iv corresponding (p. 63). Somehow Vílchez accidentally supposes that Naomi mentions Boaz to Ruth in ii 1 (p. 91). At the crux in iv 5 the kethib qanîtî is adopted (p. 126). The treatment ends with excursuses on the significance of the go'el and of levirate marriage. Esther, being longer than Ruth, has more commentary devoted to it, with the deuterocanonical additions dealt with in their Greek positions. The book is dated to around 160 B.C., since it looks back on vanquished persecution (p. 181), while the additions, all originally composed in Greek (p. 174), are said to have been most probably added in 114 B.C. (p. 182). The Greek A-text is not Lucianic (p. 172). Not all readers with agree that Mordecai is presented as particularly proud (p. 264) or that the ethical problem of the mass slaughter of enemies of the Jews can be disposed of simply by stating that the book of Esther is fiction (pp. 359, 362), but, such cavils aside, the commentary generally shows sound judgement. Transliterations are at times peculiar, with silent shewas as vocal (pp. 65, 127), and qames? h?at?uph as a (p. 120 n. 39).

[P.J. Williams]



52, 1 (2002), p. 137


Frederick E. Greenspahn, An Introduction to Aramaic. SBL Resources for Biblical Study 38. xii + 232 pp. Scholars Press, Atlanta, 1999. This is one of the best introductions to Aramaic to appear in recent years. It is appropriate for both class teaching and for self-tuition, though it is not adapted for reference. From p. 8 onwards copious authentic Aramaic texts introduce a sensible progression of grammatical topics. The bulk of the book (chs. 3-27) deals with Biblical Aramaic. With the help of vocabularies and notes the reader works first through Ezra, then Daniel. Grammatical points illustrated by each reading are recapped by exercises, including translations into Aramaic. By the time Daniel vii is reached, all basic grammar has been covered. Thereafter the final chapters (28-32) broaden to consider inscriptions (Bar Rakib, Uzziah, Ein Gedi Synagogue), letters ( Elephantine and Bar Kochba), the Genesis Apocryphon, Genesis Rabbah and Targum Pseudo-Jonathan. The book ends with two pages of (incomplete) errata, mainly relating to pointing. Careless pointing of Aramaic is a significant drawback of this book. May a subsequent edition give students a better example of precision!

[P.J. Williams]



52, 4 (2002), p. 573


W. Lee Humphreys, The Character of God in the Book of Genesis: A Narrative Appraisal. x + 284 pp. Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2001. £20. Like other recent studies, this suggestive and original rereading of Genesis is prepared to tackle the Bible's primary character. After a discussion of method, Genesis is analysed in seven sections, each concluding with a table of characterizations of God. Humphreys carefully distinguishes primary characterization by the narrator from secondary characterization by other figures within the narrative, and plots a development through Genesis from primary characterization of God to secondary characterization, going alongside a gradual withdrawal of God from direct involvement in human affairs. The author, “at best, an approximation of any ‘ideal' or ‘implied' reader of Genesis” (p. 19), seems to give audience a significant role in assigning meaning, yet on p. 78 also adopts the language of authorial intent, saying that a passage is “designed”. Certainly, if authorial intent were the standard, this study would leave a gap between the conclusions drawn and the evidence given. The author introduces a reading as possible , thereafter to assume it, and takes formal grammatical indeterminacy to give interpretative freedom: the 't of Gen. iv 1 means that Eve claims to have created Cain in the manner in which God created man (p. 54), and in Gen. xv 6 Abram may accredit righteousness to Yahweh (pp. 95-6). For Humphreys primary images of God include a “struggling parent” (Gen. ii-iii), and a “patron” (chapters throughout Genesis). However, other readers may fail to see God's “struggle” or parental role in Genesis ii-iii, or may find the title “patron”, Humphreys' biggest category, which he nowhere defines, unenlightening. Frequently Humphreys is sure of God's personal uncertainty: “we cannot escape a sense of Yahweh's shock and struggle here” (p. 59), or “God is on a learning curve” (p. 252). Section numbers on pp. 47-52 are wrong.

[P.J. Williams]



53, 2 (2003), pp. 281–82


Michael James Williams, Deception in Genesis: An Investigation into the Morality of a Unique Biblical Phenomenon. Studies in Biblical Literature 32. xviii + 252 pp. Peter Lang: New York, 2001. Against the backdrop that many simply presume deception is always morally negative, this revised University of Pennsylvania doctoral dissertation examines afresh deception in Genesis. Deception is defined broadly so as to include both distortion and withholding of information in order to stimulate wrong belief. Williams argues, rather briefly in fact, that of the fifteen deception events in Genesis, three are evaluated positively: Tamar deceiving Judah and Joseph twice deceiving his brothers. He concludes that “deception is evaluated positively when the perpetrator deceives one who has previously wronged him in order to restore his own condition to what it would have been had it not been disrupted, while, at the same time, not harming the victim. This license to act deceptively in order to restore the previous status quo appears to intersect the biblical concept of shalom ” (p. 54). [4] Similarly, when biblical deception events outside Genesis are examined it is found that positively evaluated deception is particularly associated with safeguarding the wellbeing of Israelites. However, examination of the LXX, Josephus, Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, three Targums, and Midrash with respect to the fifteen events in Genesis leads Williams to detect “a growing negative regard for deception in post-biblical Jewish tradition” (p. 103), the last possible positive evaluation of deception being a.d. 150. A brief survey of Sumerian, Akkadian, Egyptian, Ugaritic, and Hittite literature shows that in ANE literature, although some deception by gods and humans is regarded positively, there is no parallel to Genesis' positive evaluation of intra-societal deceptions. Consideration of folklore parallels from Stith Thompson's index leads to the conclusion that their contribution to the understanding of the biblical material is minimal. The biblical material, then, is unique and according to Williams it is linked to the concept of shalom. Deception is acceptable in order to restore shalom, and unacceptable when it disrupts it. Yet, although this probably represents the central conclusion of the book, there is no attempt either to show how the Bible connects shalom with its evaluation of deception, or even to demonstrate that shalom may legitimately be called a “concept”.

[P.J. Williams]



54, 1 (2004), p. 141


G. Greenberg , Translation Technique in the Peshitta to Jeremiah, Monographs of the Peshitta Institute Leiden 13. xiv + 242 pp. Brill, Leiden , 2002. This is the published version of the author's doctoral thesis, supervised initially by Michael Weitzman, and latterly by Robert Murray. Although the definitive Leiden edition of the Peshitta of Jeremiah has not yet been published, the author has been able to use the collations for that edition, and her analysis is thus set on a firm textual basis. She sees the Peshitta of Jeremiah as produced “in the middle or later part of the first century ce ” (pp. 4-5), made from a text close to the Proto-Masoretic, and with occasional reference to the Septuagint. The translation is basically homogeneous, and its profile is sufficiently close to that of other books of the Peshitta to allow them to have come from a single hand. The various chapter headings under which the translation is considered give some idea of the approach: “changes in the sense of the Hebrew”, “additions”, “the selection of lexical equivalents”, “harmonization”, “figurative language and anthropomorphism”, “grammatical inconsistency and logical precision”, “duplicate passages” (either when two versions of a passage occur within Jeremiah, or when one of two versions occurs in Isaiah, Kings or Obadiah), “the causes of minuses”, “the work of the scribes”, “difficult Hebrew: influence from the LXX”, “difficult Hebrew: the use of guesswork”, “difficult Hebrew: influence from elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible”, “difficult Hebrew: other strategies”. The book ends with three appendices: citations in Aphrahat, the rendering of Kethiv and Qere, and the translation throughout the whole Peshitta of Hebrew ??? , “field”. The monograph considerably furthers our knowledge of the Peshitta of Jeremiah, though there is plenty of room for disagreement with the author's analysis of individual texts.

[P.J. Williams]

[1] Sic VT. My manuscript read ‘l 23-5', where l is the Roman numeral 50 , not the Arabic numeral 1.

[2] Sic VT, but my manuscript read ‘second', which actually represents Taylor 's position (p. 322). It seems that the erroneous number was entered during copyediting when the written ordinal was changed to an Arabic one.

[3] VT reads ‘p. 36'. My manuscript correctly reads ‘p. 316'.

[4] Here the quotation has the wording of Williams' original and my manuscript rather than the form printed in VT.

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