When we think of Israel’s prophets we often envision the great men of old who spoke on behalf of Yahweh. Yet often overlooked are the women in the Hebrew Bible designated prophetesses. Dr. Claude Mariottini has begun a series looking at the prophetess Huldah (2 Kings 22), first surveying female prophets as a whole in the Hebrew Bible (See here). Overall, Dr. Mariottini provides a good introduction, though I have reservations about various conclusions (eg. Isaiah’s wife as one of disciples). Though the Hebrew Bible largely presents the prophets as male, students would do well to remember the brave and faithful women that served served Israel as agents of Yahweh.
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As any student can attest, research can be a difficult but rewarding venture. My research generally follows a common pattern: after my own exegetical work, I begin the task of gathering “conversation partners” (ie. sources). This step can often be daunting for those new to a particular field or even new to the research process itself. Questions like “what if I leave out some authoritative source?” or “has my topic been exhaustively covered in some old monograph somewhere?” can often plague the minds of a careful researcher. For this reason it is good to have some “go-to” resources handy.
One such resource for me is the IBR (Institute of Biblical Research) bibliography series. The purpose of these works is to compile and evaluate works in a particular field of biblical studies (Pentateuch, Jesus, Old Testament Introduction, New Testament Theology, ect.) in an easily accessible format for the student or researcher.
I have greatly benefitted particularly from the volume on Prophecy and Apocalyptic, compiled by D. Brent Sandy and Daniel M. O’Hare. This book is a wealth of information on the background, literary features, and interpretive issues in prophetic/apocalyptic literature.
The bibliography is divided into two sections (Prophecy and Apocalyptic), with each section further arranged by resources on: 1) Information and Orientation; 2) Definition and Identification; 3) Conception and Communication; 4) Composition and Compilation (Prophetic section only); and 5) Transmission and Interpretation. Each segment contains lists of important works, summarized by the authors with the major contribution of the work identified.
One additional benefit for most students will be the emphasis on literature in English. While many significant works on prophecy have originated in German and French, the authors focus on books published , or at least translated, into English. For those who have not brushed on their research languages, this feature can save time while simultaneously sparing you the guilt of omitting works that appear important but are not accessible. We all know that Google Translate can only take you so far.
Of course, as with any work of this nature, the book can be outdated before it was even released. Since its publication in 2007, more research has been done in each area addressed by the volume. Regardless, the resources included in this bibliography provide a good starting point for a researcher. Gaining a handle of the standard works on a particular topic is always a good starting place. There is no doubt that, in some cases, this work can save students and researchers alike a significant amount of time performing complex database searches and shelf browsing. As I once read in a review of another monograph, “if this resource is not on your shelf, it is in the wrong place.”
If you missed it, a preliminary SBL program book is now available on their website (see here). Though I have only taken a glance at the units, two sessions look particularly interesting: 1) A Book of the Twelve session looking at “The historical context of the writings of the Twelve Prophets.” And 2) A session on the theology of the Hebrew Scriptures asking, “what is biblical theology?” I’ll be sure to post more updates as they become available.
(HT: Daniel McClellan)
Back in March, I mentioned Duane Garrett’s volume in the Baylor Handbook on the Hebrew Bible series on the text of Amos (see here). The current edition of the Review of Biblical Literature has a review on another monograph in the same series on the text of Malachi (see here). The review is generally positive, noting some of the negative aspects that I alluded to in my post. This looks like it will be another good resource, particularly for beginning Hebrew students.
Timothy Michael Law’s When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible is scheduled to be released by Oxford University Press on July 19th and this blog will be the coordinating hub for a book blog tour. I am excited about this book. Law has described it as a “…narrative history of the Septuagint’s origins and influence in early Jewish but especially Christian history,” which means it “does not attempt to be another introductory textbook…but narrates the story in an original way.” Since the Greek Bible proved to be very influential for incipit Christianity this study should be attractive to readers of this blog.
Tentatively, this is the schedule for the tour, i.e., what chapters will be reviewed, by whom, and when:
BRIAN LePORT (Friday, July 19th)
Introducing the blog tour
JOEL WATTS (Sunday, July 21st, http://unsettledchristianity.com/)
1 Why this Book?
2 When the…
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To what degree the Book of the Twelve should be read as a unity is a question I have wrestled with for some time. On the one hand, I hear compelling arguments made by Paul House, James Nogalski, and Barry Jones, while on the hand, lingering questions disallow my full reception of this view. While re-reading a chapter in Forming Prophetic Literature: Essays on Isaiah and the Twelve in Honor of John D.W. Watts by Ehud ben Zvi, I found myself in the struggle for understanding once again.
One strand of evidence that is usual championed for the supposed unity of the Twelve is Sirach 49:10 which reads, “And may he cause the bones of the twelve prophets to flourish from their place, for they comforted Jacob and rescued them by assured hope” (translation mine). As I have thought about this text, the weight that has been hoisted upon as evidence for unity has diminished in my own mind in recent months. For, the mention of the twelve prophets together hardly necessitates a unified reading of their books as is so often intimated. Equally valid could be the understanding of the prophet’s ministries during a critical point in Israel’s history. Furthermore, the task that the prophets are commended for is that of comforting Israel. This effort need not demand their unity.
This, among other sources, that are typically used as evidence for unity have recently fallen somewhat on rocky soil in my own research. Though I remain open to compositional and canonical considerations, I can now see the danger of assuming the unity of the Twelve at the outset of one’s reading. I think ben Zvi says it well:
If a researcher adopts a strategy of interpretation based on a reading of the ‘Book of the Twelve’ as a coherent, unified, literary text, then it is likely that she or he will find or emphasize meanings and properties in the text that are different from those brought to the forefront by those who study each book as a separate unit.
Certainly this is a discussion that will continue for some time, and I hope to hear both side of the conversation. While writing this post I discovered another monograph that seeks to foster such a conversation (see here).
 Ehud ben Zvi, “Twelve Prophetic Books or ‘The Twelve’: A Few Preliminary Consideration” in Forming Prophetic Literature: Essays on Isaiah and the Twelve in Honor of John D.W. Watts (ed. James W. Watts and Paul R. House; JSOTSup 235; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1996), 127-8.