Although functioning primarily as a priest and a prophet, Ezekiel frequently utilized literary devices drawn from the wisdom tradition. The end to which he applied the tools of the wise was, however, far from typical. Where the counsel of the sages generally emphasized prudence and conformity, Ezekiel deployed sapiential speech forms within a disruptive rhetorical strategy designed to subvert debased institutions, delusional cult ideology, and aggrandizing historical narrative. This essay examines two examples from the prophet’s extensive repertoire, highlighting his idiosyncratic but devastatingly effective use of satire.
In this article, a tribute to James Aitken by his students and postdoctoral collaborator, several case studies are presented that demonstrate how situating the Septuagint within its Post-classical Greek context can add significantly to our understanding of the textual-linguistic character of the Septuagint translations. They include a new approach to understanding parataxis with καί in the Greek Pentateuch, morphology and word formation in relation to presumed neologisms in Greek Jeremiah, lexical choice related to verbs of “pouring” in kaige, verbal periphrasis with ποιέω in Greek Genesis, the expression of motion in Greek Exodus, and the literary expression of “to die” in Greek Genesis. While we do not deny the existence of interference in the translations, we argue that its extent has been overstated. Through examples that showcase semantic and syntactic sensitivity on the part of the translators, we demonstrate various approaches to positioning the Septuagint within the history of Greek.
I argue that the Levitical Prayer offered in Neh 9:5–37 (LP) offers a version of Judean history that does not include the Babylonian exile. Instead, it narrates an unbroken chain of possession of Judean territory that spans from the conquest and settlement of Canaan to the post-monarchic context of the prayer’s composition. Drawing insights from the study of cultural trauma, I make the case that the interpretive importance of such a catastrophic event cannot be assumed for subsequent Judean communities who sought to form a sense of cultural identity through the retelling of a shared past. Potentially traumatic events like the Babylonian exile are not actualized naturally; communal trauma is instead the product of social processes in the present that serve the needs of present and future communities. An elision of the Babylonian exile from a piece of post-monarchic period literature like the LP does not, therefore, require the interpretative conclusion that the prayer was written by the descendants of Judeans who avoided exile and remained in Judea during the sixth century ʙᴄᴇ. Importantly, neither does it exclude the possibility that the LP was produced by a community whose ancestors were displaced and resettled in Babylonia during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II. Through this analysis I invite scholars to explore a broader range of interpretative possibilities in their study of Ezra-Nehemiah as a composition and the understanding of the defining elements of Judean identity in the post- monarchic period.
Septuagint Kingdoms, the Greek translation of Samuel-Kings, has an ambiguous linguistic reputation. While scholars sometimes note natural linguistic features, its isomorphic and literal translation style is typically emphasised. This ambiguity has apparently caused several scholars to misinterpret LXX 1 Kgdms 3:2, which uses the verb βαρύνω in reference to the failing eyesight of the priest Eli. When examined against other evidence, notably Euripides’ Alcestis, Kingdoms is shown to use a natural though poorly attested Greek expression meaning “go blind.” This paper demonstrates the natural idiomatic use of βαρύνω in 1 Kgdms 3:2 and shows its value in refining our understanding of “heavy eyes” in other non-translation Greek texts. More broadly, it promotes the reading of the LXX against the wider history of the Greek language.
The language of the Septuagint is not only a linguistic question: evaluations of the language have been intertwined with presuppositions on the social context of Jews in antiquity, in particular their linguistic competency, educational background, and position within the Graeco-Roman society. Recent work has rehabilitated the position of Jews in ancient society and with it came a renewed quest for understanding the social locus of the language of the Septuagint and related Jewish-Greek writings. In order to appreciate the language of the Septuagint, we need to contextualize it appropriately within the history of Greek, diachronically and synchronically. The dedication of a special issue to the present topic by Journal for the Study of Judaism signals the recognition of the importance of the Septuagint for the wider discipline. In this introduction, the editors lay out recent trends in the field and discuss its challenges.
Alphabetic acrostics (AA s) are a known phenomenon in the Hebrew Bible (HB). Recently, scholars have argued that other poems in the HB evidence “alphabetic thinking”, or some kind of consciousness of alphabet in their composition. Peter C. W. Ho has argued for what he calls alphabetic compositions (AC s), i.e., poems that are not proper acrostics but share common poetic devices with acrostics. In this article, I attempt to refine Ho’s list of common features of AA s and regroup them into macro-level and micro-level alphabet-imitating devices. With a clear understanding of these devices I test whether certain poems attempt to imitate the alphabet in their overall shape at macro-level as well as in their choice of words at micro-level. I argue that only when clear alphabet-imitating devices are present in both the form and the linguistic content of a poem can it be reliably identified as an AC. Finally, I problematize the use of AC s as a set of cross-referring poems designed to carry Psalter motifs by dealing with the possible presence of reworked and repurposed alphabetic poems in the Psalter.
The analysis of the uses of the passive participle כתוב in the halakhic section of MMT shows that the כתוב formula introduces keywords rather than summative quotations. By quoting keywords, the authors of MMT enable their addressee to easily identify a passage from Scripture. The way in which the scriptural passage is quoted suggests that the words introduced by the formula have been selected so that they are appropriate for only one passage, and that the addressee knows perfectly well to which passage the author refers. The selection of keywords does not allow us to note any exegetical act in it; it is only about quoting a text, which in itself is an argument in the polemic.
By discussing some text-critical findings, this article poses the question of how the concept of emotivity can inform our understanding of the transmission processes which shaped Lam 1. An introduction establishes the theoretical and methodological basis for a comparative analysis of the Masoretic text, the Qumran manuscript of 4QLam, and Targum Lamentations. In various ways, the textual witnesses intensify and emotionalize Lam 1. Moreover, they focus on specific emotion words and make their meaning explicit for readers and listeners. Finally, the textual witnesses use different means to allow recipients to identify with the emotional descriptions.
Scholars are often struck by the frequent use of pronouns in the Septuagint, particularly placed in postposition, linking both these aspects to the translation technique or the competency of the translators. In this article, I argue that pronominal usage in the Septuagint can be linked to developments in post-classical Greek more so than to interference from the source text. I focus particularly on pronominal usage in relation to syntax and word order to show that the traditional approach to translation technique has limited our understanding of linguistic features in the Septuagint, and deal with questions that arise from an approach to the Septuagint as reflective of post-classical Greek, namely, what can pronouns in the Septuagint tell us about the educational background of the translators and their translation methods?