From the renowned Understanding the Bible and Its World series come four introductory volumes that open the doors to the setting and artifacts of the Scriptures. The titles in this collection reveal the importance and place of the Septuagint, religious diversity in the Graeco-Roman world, ethics’ relation to the New Testament, and narrative art in the Bible. Written with the neophyte in mind, these titles nonetheless feature a level of astute scholarship that will interest even the most knowledgeable student of the Bible.
This series is designed with the needs of introductory-level students in mind. It will also appeal to general readers who want to be better informed about the latest advances in our understanding of the Bible and of the intellectual, political and religious world in which is was formed. The authors in this series bring to light the methods and insights of a whole range of disciplines – including archaeology, history, literary criticism and the social sciences – while also introducing fresh insights and approaches arising from their own research.
Jennifer Dines provides a survey of current scholarship on the Greek Bible - the Septuagint. She outlines its origins in the third to first centuries BCE , going on to trace its subsequent history to the fifth century CE. The Septuagint's relationship with the standard Hebrew text and its translational characteristics are examined, as is its value as a collection with its own literary and exegetical character. The Septuagint is shown to be an important source for biblical studies (both Old and New Testament), to make a distinctive contribution to the history of biblical interpretation, and to be of considerable interest for understanding the early development of both Judaism and Christianity.
The Septuagint or early Greek translation of the Old Testament has lacked a good, current introduction until recently. The strength of Dr. Dines’ introduction is its thoroughness, compactness, and readability… It has one of the most comprehensive discussions on Septuagint origins that I have seen. The treatment of topics, even the controversial ones, is balanced and judicious. I do not believe the student can do better for a guide to the Septuagint, and working biblical scholars and even Septuagint specialists will also want it on their bookshelf.
—Lester L. Grabbe, Professor of Hebrew Bible and Early Judaism, University of Hull
Jennifer Dines is Research Associate in the AHRB Parkes Centre Project, "The Greek Bible in the Graeco-Roman World." She is also a member of the Strasburg-based team preparing the Amos volume of the “Bible d'Alexandrie.”
For centuries Christians have referred to the New Testament for guidance on moral conduct. But did the writers of the New Testament themselves agree on such questions as divorce, political obedience, wealth and the toleration of other religions? And have their often inconsistent views any relevance today?
In Ethics and the New Testament, the author applies strict critical standards to the Gospels, epistles and other writings, which he examines in historical perspective. His explanation of contemporary attitudes—including Gnosticism—helps to clarify the striking moral differences between Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, James and Paul. He attempts to discern the ethical standards and teachings of Jesus which are sometimes hidden in the present Biblical texts. And finally, he relates the moral injunctions of Christianity’s central text to the modern age.
This book is a little gem. It is lucid and scholarly, ethically and theologically sensitive. It sets the New Testament writings in their cultural context and emphasizes and displays the diversity of outlook and judgment of the different writings.
—Peter Baelz, Journal of Theological Studies
The Rev. J. L. Houlden is Emeritus Professor of Theology at King's College, University of London.
Over the last hundred years there has been a great deal of interest in the nature of religious diversity in the Graeco-Roman World and a variety of scholars have attempted to untangle the complexities of religious interaction and conflict. For students of this period there is a need for an introduction to this vast field of scholarship.
This book makes a comprehensive survey of this field of enquiry. The first three chapters deal with Judaism: Palestinian Judaism, Diaspora Judaism and Essenes. Philip Esler's account of Palestinian Judaism draws particular attention to the introduction of the analytic methods of social-scientific research to religious research. The next three chapters form a triptych of studies on Christianity, examining in turn the Jesus of history, the apostle Paul, and the early church The final group of three contributors are concerned with religious diversity within the pagan and syncretistic phenomena of the Roman world, treating political, philosophical and practical aspects in the legacy of Greek religion, in Gnosticism, and in Mithraism as an example of the Mystery Religions.
Rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok has a Ph.D. in philosophy from Cambridge University (UK) and an honorary doctorate in divinity from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. He has written numerous books, including The Blackwell Dictionary of Judaica and Fifty Key Jewish Thinkers. He is currently Professor of Judaism at the University of Wales, Lampeter, Wales. Previous books include The Crucified Jew. His book The Paradox of Anti-Semitism will be published by Continuum in March 2006.
John M. Court is Honourary Senior Research Fellow, University of Kent, Canterbury, England.
This illuminating study provides a comprehensive examination of the literary aspects of biblical narrative, which comprises over a third of the Hebrew Bible. The attitudes and interjections of the narrator, the shaping of characters, time and space, the structure of the plot and the style are discussed and illustrated, clarifying the issues raised as well as shedding fresh light on the narratives. Dr. Bar-Efrat concludes with a detailed literary analysis on the story of Ammon Tamar.
The arguments in these chapters are well-balanced and lucid; a good rhythm of theory and practice ensures a constant stream of to-the-point observation on style, material, and disposition.
—Jan P. Fkkelman
Dr. Bar-Efrat is Head of Biblical Studies at the Hebrew University Secondary School, Jerusalem.
Title: Understanding the Bible and Its World Collection
Authors: Jennifer Dines, J. L. Houlden, Dan Dan Cohn-Sherbok, John Court, and Shimon Bar-Efrat