Saturday, July 28, 2007

BAR Highlights: 7/28/07

More recent archaeological news from Biblical Archaeology Review:

Coins from Cyprus Barred
The U.S. government, hoping to stem the trade in illicit antiquities, has imposed restrictions that will keep coins from Cyprus out of this country unless the Cypriot government gives its authorization for their importation.

New Temple Mount Bridge Approved

Authorities in Jerusalem have given the go-ahead for a rebuilt bridge to the Temple Mount, one that is smaller than a previously proposed bridge, which was criticized by archaeologists and also sparked violent protests by Muslims.

Genesis Text Unveiled

Professor James Charlesworth has acquired an ancient manuscript with verses from the Book of Genesis and has also bought 30 new Dead Sea Scrolls. Charlesworth will be a lecturer at the BAS seminar in Atlanta; for details, click here.

Rome in 3-D

Tour ancient Rome circa 320 A.D. through a full-size, three-dimensional model created by Bernard Frischer, head of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia.

Bathing Never Goes Out of Style

Archaeologists have discovered a well-preserved, two-story bath complex in Rome. The complex, which extends over five acres, is thought to have belonged to the wealthy Roman Quintus Servilius Pudens, one of the Emperor Hadrian’s friends.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Translation Issues and the UBS Rating System

In her recent discussion of the translation issues surrounding 1 Cor. 14:30-40, Suzanne McCarthy briefly refers to the rating system employed by the editors of the United Bible Societies (UBS) Greek New Testament to indicate the probability of various readings. According to Bruce Metzger's A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (p. 14*), the general outline of the system is as follows:

A: the reading chosen by the editors is "certain"
B: the reading chosen by the editors is "almost certain"
C: the editors "had difficulty in deciding which variant to place in the text"
D: the editors "had great difficulty in arriving at a decision" (relatively rare; e.g., Matt. 23:26, John 10:29)

In the case of 1 Cor. 14:30, the placement of vv. 34-35 was assigned a "B" rating; a few uncial codices (D, F, and G) and a handful of Latin witnesses place them after v. 40. McCarthy notes that while this rating leaves some room for doubt, the transposition of vv. 34-35 is rarely footnoted in English Bibles. While I haven't done any substantial research on this particular point, it served to remind me of a larger problem: the seeming arbitrariness of the rating system. Rom. 5:1 is an even more glaring example. Here is the complete verse, as found in the UBS/Nestle-Aland text:

Δικαιωθέντες οὖν ἐκ πίστεως εἰρήνην ἔχομεν πρὸς τὸν θεὸν διὰ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

In the NRSV, the verse is rendered, "Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ"; many other major English translations adopt similar formulations. However, the original hands of the earliest and best manuscript witnesses (א, A, B, C, D, etc.), along with some patristic witnesses (particularly the recorded teachings of the early heretic Marcion of Sinope, which date to the mid-second century), replace ἔχομεν ("we have") with εχωμεν ("let us have"). In summarizing the UBS editors' preference for the former, Metzger notes that in antiquity the two terms were phonetically identical, and suggests that the the early occurrences of εχωμεν may have been the result of a simple scribal misunderstanding. The decision was assigned an "A" rating.

Whether one concurs with the editors' conclusions or not, it seems misleading to state that a particular reading is "certain" if it is not found in the most important and most frequently cited manuscripts. Some Yale professors encourage their students to simply ignore the rating system, but such blissfully intentional ignorance isn't always an option. The revised edition of the Guidelines for Interconfessional Cooperation in Translating the Bible, a document produced by the Vatican in 1987, states that translators should follow the UBS text in the case of an "A" or "B" rating. If entire denominations are placing their trust in this system, then it seems reasonable to request that it be based upon consistent, clearly defined principles, and that it reflect the formidable difficulties which hinder the reconstruction of the "original" New Testament text.

Used NT Titles From Dove

A few of the most recent New Testament offerings from Dove Booksellers' Used Book Department:

Albright, William Foxwell
(Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1982)
Condition: VG Hardcover $16.00
Comments: DJ

Baltzer, Klaus
(Fortress, 1971)
Condition: VG Hardcover $40.00
Comments: DJ

Bilde, Per
(Sheffield Academic Press, 1988)
Condition: VG Hardcover $45.00

Chilton, Bruce
(JSOT Press, 1979)
Condition: VG Paperback $25.00

Johnson, Luke Timothy
(Scholars Press, 1977)
Condition: VG Paperback $30.00

Juel, Donald
(Scholars Press, 1977)
Condition: VG Paperback $20.00

Kummel, Werner Georg
(Abingdon Press, 1973)
Condition: VG Paperback $9.00
Comments: Spine creased

Marcus, Joel
(Scholars Press, 1986)
Condition: VG Paperback $38.00
Comments: Ink annotation on front cover

Stanton, Graham N
(Oxford University Press, 1989)
Condition: VG Paperback $19.00

Talbert, Charles H
(Scholars Press, 1974)
Condition: GC Paperback $20.00
Comments: Shelfwear, front cover stained

Some of these look pretty good... if you want them, you'd better act fast before I snatch them up. ;-)

Monday, July 23, 2007

July SBL Forum

Biblical Scholarship in Vienna
by Markus Tiwald, Markus Himmelbauer, Marianne Grohmann


Did Paul Get Whacked? The Endings of The Sopranos and the Acts of the Apostles
by Micah Kiel

BAS Announces Two $10,000 Awards for ASOR Papers
Nabu-sharrussu-ukin Sites


J.D. Walters's Reply to Avalos
A Reflection on Brevard Childs

Kiel's article seems particularly fun, although I've never actually seen an episode of "The Sopranos" (I couldn't justify spending extra money on HBO). I'm looking forward to reading it in full.

I was pleased to see a lengthy tribute to former Yale professor and biblical studies icon Brevard Childs; a number of bloggers noted the absence of any such tributes in the days immediately following his death. Prof. Childs had been retired for several years by the time I arrived at Yale, but he visited the bookstore pretty frequently. Not long ago, he stopped by to pick up a copy of one of his own books because he had given his own copies away, and someone else had asked him for one. He will be missed, both at Yale and throughout the larger academic community.

RBL Highlights: 7/23/07

A few of the most compelling entries in this week's Review of Biblical Literature:

Michelle Brown, ed.
In the Beginning: Bibles Before the Year 1000
Reviewed by Michael W. Holmes
This book was printed as a companion to the exhibit of the same name which appeared at the Smithsonian during the AAR/ABL Annual Meeting last fall (and which was one of my favorite moments from that trip). I haven't had a chance to examine the book in detail, but from what I've seen, it's every bit as fascinating as the exhibit itself.

William G. Dever
Did God Have a Wife?: Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel
Reviewed by Patrick D. Miller
One of my professors at Centre studied with Dever at Arizona State, and I've always been intrigued by his work. (Sometimes getting dirty in the field seems much more fun than sitting around in a library!) I'll get around to this book as soon as I have some free time... in other words, in about ten years or so. ;-)

Jennifer A. Glancy
Slavery in Early Christianity
Reviewed by Fabian E. Udoh

Stanley E. Porter, ed.
Paul and His Theology
Reviewed by M. Eugene Boring

Paul A Rainbow
The Way of Salvation: The Role of Christian Obedience in Justification
Reviewed by Timothy Gombis

BAR Highlights: 7/23/07

The most recent archaeological developments throughout the world, as collected by Biblical Archaeology Review:

New Mycenaean Grave
A rare Mycenaean grave dating to approximately 1,200 B.C.E. has been uncovered in southern Greece. In addition to one body curled in the fetal position, archaeologists found a knife, pottery and metal weapons.

Papal Dungeon Re-Opens

The dungeon below the papal fortress of Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome will be open through August 26 as part of the summer festival that takes place at the fortress. The dungeon, constructed in 1503 by Pope Alexander VI, was an addition to the castle, which originally functioned as a monumental tomb for the emperor Hadrian.

New Wonder Needs Help
Petra, one of the new seven wonders of the world, has scholars wondering if it will be able to keep up appearances in the future. The number of tourists to the site is expected to double due to the new honor, but experts question Petra’s facilities, visitor accommodations and fundamental infrastructure.

Mummy Testing

A CT scan has proven that an Egyptian mummy was not King Tuthmosis I, as had been previously thought, and now 40 royal mummies at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo will undergo CT scanning and DNA testing to confirm their identities.

"Israeli and Palestinian authorities are failing to protect the Temple Mount."

In The Wall Street Journal dated July 18, 2007, Hershel Shanks, editor of Biblical Archaeology Review, has written an editorial piece about the Waqf’s digging on the Temple Mount. The Waqf, the Muslim administrative body responsible for overseeing the site, is doing some of the digging with mechanical equipment in order to install electric and telephone lines. Although this excavation has been approved by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, it contradicts the excavation procedures required everywhere else in Israel.

Biblical Confirmation

The existence of a significant Biblical figure has been confirmed through the translation of a cuneiform inscription on a small tablet from 595 B.C.E. Assyriologist Michael Jursa came across a somewhat-familiar name, Nabusharrussu-ukin, during his translation of the tablet. He then checked Jeremiah 39, where he found mention of Nebo-Sarsekim, a different spelling of the same name. The tablet, from the tenth year of Nebuchadnezzar II’s reign, indicates that the person in question was the king’s “chief eunuch,” a detail that matches closely with the Biblical text. See also the article in the New York Sun.

Return to Writer

Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski is asking that Turkey return the 2,700-year-old Siloam inscription to Jerusalem. The inscription, uncovered in Hezekiah’s tunnel, was taken to Istanbul by Ottoman rulers in 1880.

Lascaux on the Nile

Drawings and etchings 15,000 years old have been discovered in the village of Qurta in southern Egypt, 400 miles south of Cairo. Expedition leader Dirk Huyge likens the illustrations to those found in the Lascaux caves in France.