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The Textual History of the Bible (THB) brings together for the first time all available information regarding the manuscripts, textual history and character of each book of the Hebrew Bible and its translations as well as the deuterocanonical scriptures. In addition, THB covers the history of research, the editorial history of the Hebrew Bible, as well as other aspects of text-critical research and its subsidiary fields, such as papyrology, codicology, and the related discipline of linguistics. The THB will consist of 4 volumes.

Volume 2: Deuterocanonical Scriptures. Editors Matthias Henze and Frank Feder
Vol. 2A: overview articles
Vol. 2B: to Ezra
Vol. 2C: Jubilees to 16 Appendix
In Violence in the Hebrew Bible scholars reflect on texts of violence in the Hebrew Bible, as well as their often problematic reception history. Authoritative texts and traditions can be rewritten and adapted to new circumstances and insights. Texts are subject to a process of change. The study of the ways in which these (authoritative) biblical texts are produced and/or received in various socio-historical circumstances discloses a range of theological and ideological perspectives. In reflecting on these issues, the central question is how to allow for a given text’s plurality of possible and realised meanings while also retaining the ability to form critical judgments regarding biblical exegesis. This volume highlight that violence in particular is a fruitful area to explore this tension.
Author: Klaas Spronk

Abstract

The story in Judges 21 about how the tribe of Benjamin was saved from extinction by providing the men with the women necessary for procreation evokes different reactions. Is it horror or humour? After a short survey of the history of the interpretation of this passage, the following study intends to show that within its present context, the horrific aspect takes precedence over the originally more humorous character of the second part of the story. This argument will be based on an analysis of the chapter’s place within the structure of the book of Judges and the way in which older traditions have been incorporated.

In: Violence in the Hebrew Bible

Abstract

Deuteronomy’s description of the use of violence in the extermination of the people of the land in relation to the election of Israel has had important influence on Jewish and Christian literature. This chapter particularly focuses on its impact on the book of Jubilees, but some later reflections will also be discussed. In the book of Jubilees, the impact of Deuteronomy 7 and related texts is especially visible in Abraham’s farewell speeches. Several stipulations are very similar – for example, the destruction of places with foreign cults, the danger of participating in foreign sacrificial meals, the prohibition against mixed marriages, and the prohibition against making treaties. In Jubilees, these aspects are strongly related to the issue of purity and Gentile impurities, aspects that are not elaborated upon in Deuteronomy 7. Some later reflections on the reading of Deuteronomy 7 within Judaism and Christianity are also included. These indicate various strategies for dealing with the problems concerning the command to annihilate the Canaanites. Violent texts in the Old Testament were ignored, rejected, or interpreted figuratively. Sometimes, however, they inspired and shaped wars and violent behaviour in the real world – or helped to justify such acts.

In: Violence in the Hebrew Bible

Abstract

Nahum is viewed by many as a violent text in a number of respects. The question is, what do we make of a god who meets violence with violence? This chapter analyses three of the so-called Yahweh speeches in an attempt to grapple with this question. These passages are: Nahum 1:12–14, 2:13 (MT 2:14), and 3:5–7. The author first analyses these passages in the contexts in which they appear in the book of Nahum. This entails a critical engagement with how these passages are received and reinterpreted in the light of the portrayal of Yahweh as a violent god. Three different readings are entertained: namely, a theological-, a contextual-, and a reader-response reading. First and foremost, the author acknowledges that Nahum is an ancient text displaying ancient traditions. Furthermore, he argues that the three different reading strategies offer interesting insights into how the issue of Yahweh as a violent god could be approached and received. He then suggests that the various readings should be submitted to ideological-critical scrutiny, since our social contexts and ideological preferences play a decisive role in our reception and appropriation of the biblical text.

In: Violence in the Hebrew Bible
Author: Eric Peels

Abstract

Among the “texts of terror,” the oracles against the nations stand out as documents which vehemently attest human and divine violence. In the collection of these oracles in the book of Jeremiah, the prophecy concerning Moab (Jeremiah 48), with its extraordinary length and its remarkable accumulation of reused prophetic material (from, i.a., Isaiah 15–16), proclaims a merciless divine judgment. No future is left for Moab; a total annihilation is envisaged (v. 42).

An intriguing feature in this chapter, however, is that this oracle, much more than the others in the section in Jeremiah 46–49, has a theological interest. The prophetic announcement of Moab’s destruction shows an idiosyncratic alternation of judgment and lament. Both fierce divine anger and divine regret, divine judgment and wailing over Moab are part of the oracle. A detailed analysis shows that in several texts in Jeremiah 48, Yhwh is most probably the subject of weeping. This chapter points out that this language of divine grief is not to be interpreted in a figurative sense, as an “ironic inversion of the lamentation” (Brian C. Jones), but as a sign of divine compassion (Terence E. Fretheim). The theological significance of this oracle in Jeremiah 48 is far-reaching.

In: Violence in the Hebrew Bible

Abstract

This chapter’s primary hypothesis is that an awareness of the diaspora provenance of Esther can aid in reading the violence in Esther 9, which is so different from the rest of the book, the narrative of which seems to have been adequately resolved by the end of Esther 8. It is perhaps not surprising that some scholars have suggested we should disregard Esther 9 as a late addition. Until recently, the fact that the story of Esther is set in the eastern diaspora has not featured significantly in the book’s interpretation, which has tended to focus very much on the link with Purim. Interest in the concept of diaspora in both popular and academic discourses has risen sharply in recent years, providing Esther studies with a valuable new interpretive lens. In this chapter, the author’s thesis is that, in the light of comparative modern studies, situations of diaspora are generally characterised by extreme forms of violence. By applying such a perspective, the author aims to investigate how the incidence of violence in diaspora situations (or its imagination, at the very least) can shed light on the extreme violence recounted in Esther 9.

In: Violence in the Hebrew Bible
Author: Paul Sanders

Abstract

Present-day readers, including Jews and Christians, tend to be shocked by the account of the purposeful execution of seven descendants of Saul in 2 Samuel 21:1–14. Traditionally, the narrative was presumed to justify David’s decision to have them killed. Nowadays, the story is often read with suspicion. Does the homicide really serve a purpose, and is the way in which it is justified convincing? The elimination of Saul’s relatives may have served David well. A new analysis of three non-biblical texts from the ancient Near East demonstrates that the plot of the biblical episode largely fits a known conceptual pattern. This pattern indicates what a responsible king must do in times of misery. The comparison shows that some critical readings of 2 Samuel 21:1–14 lack a solid basis, while others have a point. Despite the elements that do not make sense to twenty-first-century readers, both the biblical and the non-biblical texts appear to exhibit positive aspects of ancient religious thinking.

In: Violence in the Hebrew Bible
In: Violence in the Hebrew Bible
Author: June Dickie

Abstract

Jael (based on the account of her actions in Judges 4–5) has been viewed in many ways, including as a courageous hero and as a deceitful murderer. However, a literary-rhetorical study of the song indicates another purpose of the accounts, one that is not related to her character. Rather a more compelling interpretation is that the two texts, particularly the song, were composed to stir the tribes to participate in Yhwh’s cause, in battle against the enemy. The climax of the account (based on the literary rhetoric) is Jael’s actions. For Israel at that time, Jael was a hero. But how do women today view Jael’s “violent act”? Is violence ever seen as a necessary act for them?

This chapter is based on groups in South Africa studying and performing Judges 4–5, with particular focus on the texts relating to Jael. The first group is made up of “Coloured” women who grew up in the violence of Cape Flats, some of whom deal with “violent men” in their lives through manslaughter. The second group is made up of (educated) young African refugees from societies in which women traditionally submit to men. The study looks at their interpretations of Jael’s actions and evaluates them in the light of the Hebrew text.

In: Violence in the Hebrew Bible