Sunday, January 22, 2012

More on the influence of E.P. Sanders

As a footnote to my earlier post on the influence of E.P. Sanders, I observe that Sanders and Jacob Neusner are the only living scholars of early Judaism to merit a biographical entry in the Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism. (If memory serves, it was disagreement between Sanders and Neusner that prompted Sanders' Jewish Law from the Jesus to the Mishnah.)

The full list of biographical entries in the Eerdmans Dictionary is as follows:

Bickerman, Elias
Bousset, Wilhelm
Charles, Robert Henry
Goodenough, Erwin Ramsdell
Hengel, Martin
Moore, George Foote
Neusner, Jacob
Sanders, Ed Parish
Schürer, Emil
Smith, Morton
Tcherikover, Victor (Avigdor)
Wolfson, Harry Austryn

Who else should have been included?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Middle Eastern Irony

It took me a little while to appreciate the irony of this letter that came in the mail from Bethlehem Bible College late last year:

The stamp looks innocuous enough, displaying a typical Israeli dish of St. Peter's Fish:

But I'm guessing that no one from the occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank would have selected this stamp if they read the Hebrew:

שנהיה לראש ולא לזנב
"...that we will be the head and not the tail"

. . .  and recognized the allusion to Deuteronomy 28:13:

 וּנְתָנְךָ יהוה לְרֹאשׁ וְלֹא לְזָנָב
"The LORD will make you the head and not the tail"

The emblem of Bethlehem Bible College in the middle of the envelope points to a double irony. (Was it intentional?):

 For Christians who affirm that the star which rose in the east pointed to the Star "that rises from Jacob" (Num 24:17), the "lion of the tribe of Judah," Deuteronomy 28:13 will find its ultimate fulfilment in Bethlehem Bible College's Messiah.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My youngest Hebrew student

I started teaching Shoshana the Hebrew alphabet to vary her bed-time routine. Then I gave her Hebrew alphabet magnets for Christmas to help her learn the shapes. The first time she recited them all on her own she announced,

"I'm learning! Pretty soon I'll be able to go to SBL!"

This evening I showed her the first few videos from the Biblical Language Center's excellent Living Biblical Hebrew MP4. As it turns out, she's been making pretty good progress on the numbers too:

Click here for a sample of the first Living Biblical Hebrew picture lesson. Simple enough "that even a child can follow," as they say.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The influence of E.P. Sanders

Mark Goodacre has described E. P. Sanders as "the greatest living New Testament Scholar" (here and here). Joshua Schwartz says something similar in his review of a festschrift in Sander's honour:
Most of us in academia hope to come up with a few new and original ideas that will impact upon scholars and scholarship. If we are lucky and this happens, we might remain in the eye of scholarship for a generation or two, but after that most of us and our work fade into various levels of academic oblivion. Only very few scholars produce work of such monumental importance that it becomes benchmarks not only for colleagues but for anyone wishing to study a particular field. Sanders has done this in not one or even two but in three centrally important areas of New Testament study: Judaism, Jesus, and Paul. Moreover, even if one does not study Christianity or Jesus, it is still impossible today to work on the Second Temple period without Sanders, and obviously this is the case regarding Jesus and Paul. This has been true for decades and will undoubtedly continue to be so for the coming ones. Few scholars have been able to bend, as it were, the not always pliant study of religious traditions and to form it into something new. Not all agree with him; his work has sometimes aroused opposition and criticism, but we cannot make do without it. The present volume is a fitting accolade for an outstanding scholar. - Joshua Schwartz, review of Fabian E. Udoh, Susannah Heschel, Mark A. Chancey, and Gregory Tatum, eds., Redefining First-Century Jewish and Christian Identities: Essays in Honor of Ed Parish Sanders (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2008) [].

I was about to announce that גֵּר־וְתוֹשָׁב is officially on ice until further notice, but then I came across a few unfinished posts in my draft folder that seemed worth saving. The above quote was one of them.