The six resources in the Studies in Old Testament Themes reflect a wide range of topics in theological and biblical studies. Michael Goulder demonstrates how David's penitential psalms have their historical root in 2 Samuel. Friedemann W. Golka confirms that Hebrew proverbs originate from within the tribal societies of Israel and not from foreign cultures. John Van Seters offers a social-science commentary on the Pentateuch, while Lester L. Grabbe presents the debate on the reliability of the Bible as a historical source of ancient Israel. Yvonne Sherwood discusses Hosea's relevance for today, and Athalya Brenner provides a fresh look at Esther from a woman’s perspective. Published by T and T Clark International, these resources offer new insights for scholars and students studying the Old Testament and the history of Israel.
Goulder attempts to honor the biblical traditions of interpretation toward the Psalms in regard to the way they were collected and the order in which they appear. He firmly believes that David’s priest and close attendant was instrumental in the writing of these Psalms, beginning with the death of Uriah to the succession of Solomon. Psalms 51 through 72 have their historical foundation in 2 Samuel and are, according to Goulder, a personal response to these recorded events. These are prayers in which David’s heart is “opened to God with all the devotion, hatred, loyalty, fear, desperation and triumph of which he is capable.” He concludes this text with a concisely argued and intriguing suggestion of how the present structure of the Psalms developed.
Michael Goulder is Emeritus Professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Birmingham and the former Rector of St. Christopher's in Withington.
Golka revisits three traditional ideas which have dominated current Old Testament scholarship: the claim that there were schools in ancient Israel; that in these schools a professional class of 'wise men' taught; and that their teaching consisted of the moral standards of the civil service. Professor Golka disputes the claim of Old Testament scholarship that biblical proverbs were literary works of art, much of it influenced by the civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia. By comparing biblical proverbs to those of foreign tribal societies, he concludes that the proverbs of the Hebrew Bible derive from a tribal society of the Israel existing within the period of the Judges. In this ground-breaking work, Golka reveals the extent to which the sources and results of social anthropology can be used in Old Testament scholarship to make significant new findings.
Friedemann Golka is Professor of Old Testament at the University of Oldenburg, Germany. He is the coauthor of Revelation of God : A Commentary on the Books of the Song of Songs and Jonah and What Does the Old Testament Say about God
This overview of the Pentateuch reviews the various historical-critical attempts to read it based on ideas about the social evolution of Israel's religion and culture. Among the questions it addresses are: Is the Pentateuch an accumulation of folk traditions?; Is it a work of ancient historiography?; And is it a document legitimizing religious reform? Van Seters, in dialogue with competing views, advocates a compositional model that recognizes the social and historical diversity of the literary strata. He argues that a proto-Pentateuchal author created a comprehensive history from Genesis to Numbers that was written as a prologue to the Deuteronomistic History (Deuteronomy to 2 Kings) in the exilic period and later expanded by a Priestly writer to make it the foundational document of the Jerusalem temple community.
John Van Seters is Distinguished University Professor emeritus, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina and currently lives in Canada. He is the author of The Life of Moses, Prologue to History and In Search of History.
This resource considers whether and how a history of Israel can be written and if the Hebrew Bible can be used as a source for such history. The question regarding the writing of the history of ancient Israel has become fiercely debated in recent years, due mostly to the different concepts of historical methodology. The European Seminar on Methodology in Israel's History was founded specifically to address this problem. Members of the Seminar hold a variety of views, all agreeing there is a problem to be addressed. The first meeting of the Seminar, held in Dublin in 1996, focused on the merit of the Hebrew Bible as a source in writing the history of Israel. Can a ‘History of Israel’ be Written? contains the main papers that were prepared to set the stage for this discussion, along with an introduction to the Seminar, its aims and its membership. The editor also provides a concluding chapter summarizing and reflecting on the debate.
Lester L. Grabbe (PhD, Claremont) is Professor of Hebrew Bible and Early Judaism at the University of Hull, UK. He is the author of Did Moses Speak Attic? and A History of the Jews and Judaism in the Second Temple Period.
Sherwood unravels the three chapters of Hosea by examining the particular complexities of the text and confronts the frictions that arise between the text and reader. She considers four problematic areas: the conflict between text and reader over the ‘improper’ relationship between Hosea and Gomer; the bizarre prophetic sign-language that conscripts people into a cosmic charade; the text's propensity to subvert its central theses; and the emergent tensions between the feminist reader and the text. Aiming to bring together literary criticism and biblical scholarship, Sherwood provides lucid introductions to ideological criticism, semiotics, deconstruction and feminist criticism, while also focusing on the implications of these approaches not only for the book of Hosea but for biblical studies in general.
Yvonne Sherwood is senior lecturer in Old Testament/Tanakh and Jewish Studies at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. She is the author of Sanctified Aggression and A Biblical Text and Its Afterlives: The Survival of Jonah in Western Culture.
Feminist biblical criticism—an interpretation of the Bible from a woman’s perspective—has been employed since the late 1800s, but it has been in the last several decades that feminist critique has begun to impact professional biblical scholarship. The current consensus recognizes that serious biblical study must raise questions about the role of women in biblical text and their place in the ancient societies that produced the Bible. Brenner has compiled a unique anthology of feminist writing, offering a rich resource for reclaiming the female heritage found in the classic stories of three women. The first is Esther, from the Hebrew Bible, who without forgetting her gender and cultural location, develops into a competent politician. This book devotes ten chapters to her. The second is Judith who, as an embodiment of the Jewish community, transforms both the community’s traditional power base and the social role of marginalized groups. Three chapters are devoted to this classic figure. The third is Susanna, a narrative figure who is gazed at as a mere object and then must defend her innocence after being accused of infidelity. Two chapters are devoted to her story.
Athalya Brenner is Professor of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Amsterdam, and Rosalyn and Manny Rosenthal Distinguished Professor-in-Residence of Hebrew Bible at Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, Texas.