This book brings together fifteen articles representing the major thrusts of Prof. Wright's work over the last decade. They focus on three interrelated themes in the study of Early Judaism. (1) Translation. Several essays treat Jewish translation strategies as well as some of the social frameworks within which translation took place. (2) Social Location. The effort to locate texts in their social landscapes has helped to break down many traditional scholarly categories. Especially pertinent are the ways that wisdom and apocalyptic relate to each other, and he explores how specific wisdom and apocalyptic texts relate. (3) Transmission of Tradition. Several articles focus on how traditional material was shaped and framed in order to ensure its successful transmission to subsequent generations.
This article tries to apply some insights from the modern field of Translation Studies to the relationship between translation, source text and audience in Cicero, Sirach and the Septuagint. Cicero's very free translations are possible because his audience is able to read the Greek originals that he translates. Sirach's rather literal translation is the result of adopting an approach to the Hebrew text that the grandson found operative in the Septuagint, but he is not really trying to provide his audience access to the original Hebrew. The Septuagint translators were trying to give access to the Hebrew original by producing an "interlinear" translation, which could have originated in several social contexts.
The notion that wisdom and apocalypticism represent fundamentally different and mutually exclusive categories of genre and worldview in early Jewish and Christian literature persists in current scholarship. The essay in this volume, the work of the Wisdom and Apocalypticism Group of the Society of Biblical Literature, challenged that generally held view as they explore the social locations and scholarly constructions of these literatures and discover an ancient reality of more porous categories and complex interrelationships. The volume draws on a broad range of Jewish and Christian texts, including
1 Enoch, Sirach, 4Qinstruction,
Psalms of Solomon, James, Revelation, and
Barnabas. The contributors are Ellen Bradshaw Aitken, Patrick J. Hartin, Richard A. Horsley, Matthew J. Goff, George W.E. Nickelsburg, Barbara R. Rossing, Sarah J. Tanzer, Patrick A. Tiller, Rodney A. Werline, Lawrence M. Wills and Benjamin G. Wright III.
Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (www.sbl-site.org)
Biblical studies has traditionally worked with a classificatory or definitional approach to genre. Recent scholarship in genre studies, however, has pointed out the shortcomings of a classificatory system. Among the different theories about genre that are current in genre studies, prototype theory, derived from advances in cognitive science, offers the possibility for thinking differently about genre as a classificatory tool and about what questions we want considerations of genre to answer. Rather than listing necessary features, prototype theory focuses on the way that humans categorize through the use of prototypical exemplars that reflect an idealized cognitive model of a category. Within this approach, genres have indeterminate boundaries and can be extended to include marginal or atypical examples. This paper takes up the categories of apocalyptic and wisdom as examples of how prototype theory can be used to describe a genre, to provide a more effective way to accommodate what are usually thought of as problematic cases, and to think about the generic relations of texts to one another.