Archive for April, 2013

Desiderata II: Hellenistic Jewish Texts in Greek and English

While I’m thinking of desiderata, wouldn’t it be relatively painless to produce one or two LCL-style volumes of ‘Hellenistic Jewish Texts’ in Greek and English? Just thinking off the cuff, if we included books that are a) excluded from other major corpora (LXX, Philo, Josephus); b) are not fragmentary (like Eupolemus, Ezekiel the Tragedian, etc. – these are readily available in Holladay anyway); and c) are probably extant in their original language of composition, Greek, we could include (z.B.) the following (even if the first two or three and some of the others may be Christian in whole or in part):

Ascension of Isaiah


Joseph & Aseneth






There’s of course the SC volume for Aristeas in French/Greek, and various editions of the others as well, but can’t quite think of anything else that does facing pages of this stuff in English translation, and it would be useful, I think, to have this gathered as a corpus.

A more ambitious undertaking would be a sort of  Studienausgabe multi-lingual edition of the OT Pseudepigrapha. For students of the New Testament and Second Temple Judaism, we have facing-page bilingual editions for Philo and Josephus in the Loeb editions, for the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Martinez-Tigchelaar and Parry-Tov editions, for the deuterocanonical books in the traditional LXX editions, but access to the original languages of the pseudepigraphical literature often requires many different and expensive books, sometimes prohibitive even for smaller libraries. Nevertheless, the study of this pseudepigraphical and apocryphal literature has blossomed over the past thirty years or so, no doubt in part due to Charlesworth’s two volume OTP. Might it be time to give serious students of the period a handy edition with original languages and English translation on facing pages? This might especially be so as much of this literature is outside the range of other modern language editions like the Sources chretiennes.

Of course, one of the complications of this type of work is that the documents are extant in a variety of different texts and textual traditions, and some difficult decisions might have to be made as to whether, say, a text that is extant in both Latin and Ethiopic should be displayed in one or both languages, etc. But it does not seem that such difficulties need be insurmountable, and even a less-than-perfect-in-every-respect edition would be better than what we have now. And even if most NT scholars are not highly proficient in languages like Ethiopic, the ability to do a bit of checking with a lexicon and so to increase the certainty of one’s own research would be a welcome advance. If relevant copyrights could be secured, etc., maybe it would even be possible to use some of the same contributors from Charlesworth’s volumes who could supply both original text and translation. Or one could attempt to extract text and translation from the de Gruyter Commentaries on Early Jewish Literature project.

It would be a headache, no doubt, but it would also be very useful.

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Desiderata I: Handausgabe of the Targums in English Translation

We have compact editions and translations of the LXX, the OT Pseudepigrapha, the Mishnah, Josephus and Philo (though both of those could use a cheaper format than the Loeb, as useful as it is; hopefully someone can extract an English translation from the Josephus commentary series and the PACS and publish them as single volumes when they’re done), the Nag Hammadi library, the NT Apocrypha and other corpora. Why not a compact edition of the Targums in English translation?

Perhaps the easiest way to do this would be to take the full translation of the Targums from the Aramaic Bible series but delete almost all of the notes and the introductions, perhaps with a general introduction to the whole thing. There would be some books in which two or three targums of the same book exist (see below), and one would need to decide whether to print them in parallel or subsequent to one another. So the end result would be about as large as a full Bible, I think, and could even be presented the way OUP’s New English Translation of the Septuagint was (for example). But if it were comprehensive in this way, then I think you would get lots of interest from scholars in related fields – OT, NT, early Judaism, history of interpretation, late Antiquity, etc. – who would find it useful to have these translations as a reference on their shelves, but couldn’t possibly afford all the individual 22 or so volumes, which retail in the US for $65-100 each. It would be extremely useful to have the full, stripped-down translations as a reference set (2 vols?), for quick checking of references, comparison of interpretative renderings or sustained reading.

Here is what is in the Aramaic Bible series, with volume numbers in brackets (n.b., no targums on Daniel, Ezra or Nehemiah):

v. 1A.Targum Neofiti 1, Genesis /translated, with apparatus and notes by Martin McNamara –v. 1B.Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, Genesis /translated with introduction and notes by Michael Maher –v. 2.Targum Neofiti 1: Exodus /translated with introduction an apparatus by Martin McNamara.Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: Exodus /translated with notes by Michael Maher –v. 3.Targum Neofiti 1, Leviticus /translated, with apparatus, by Martin McNamara; introduction and notes by Robert Hayward.Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, Leviticus /translated, with notes by Michael Maher –v. 4.Targum Neofiti 1, Numbers /translated with apparatus and notes by Martin McNamara.Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, Numbers /translated, with notes by Ernest G. Clarke with assistance of Shirley Magder –v. 5A.Targum Neofiti 1, Deuteronomy /translated, with apparatus and notes by Martin McNamara –Prophets /by Daniel J. Harrington and Anthony Saldarini –v. 5B.Targum Pseudo-Jonathan /translated, with notes by Ernest G. Clarke –v. 11.The Isaiah Targum /introduction, translation, apparatus, and notes by Bruce D. Chilton –v. 12.The Targum of Jeremiah /by Robert Hayward –v. 13.The Targum of Ezekiel /translated, with a critical introduction, apparatus, and notes by Samson H. Levey –v. 14.The Targum of the Minor Prophets /by Kevin J. Cathcart and Robert P. Gordon –v. 17A.The Targum of Canticles /translated, with a critical introduction, apparatus, and notes by Philip S. Alexander –v. 17B.The Targum of Lamentations /translated, with a critical introduction, apparatus, and notes by Philip S. Alexander –v. 18.The two Targums of Esther /translated, with apparatus and notes by Bernard Grossfeld –v. 19.The Targum of Ruth/translated, with introduction, apparatus, and notes by D.R.G. Beattie.The Targum of Chronicles / translated, with introduction, apparatus, and notes by J. Stanley McIvor.

I’m sure the rights will be a question, but surely Liturgical Press has made most of the money it will make on the full editions by now anyway, and specialists will always need to consult the full notes in the Aramaic Bible volumes (and of course the original Aramaic in Sperber and other places). But it would be useful to have these and, in my opinion, they would sell well.


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Oxford New Testament Seminar, Trinity Term 2013

Here’s the programme for the NT Seminar this term (HT: Mary Marshall). Anyone in the area or passing through is more than welcome to attend by permission. All sessions take place 2.15-3.45 p.m. in the Gibbs Room, Keble College (unless otherwise stated). Refreshments are provided after the seminar.

2nd Week – 2nd May

James Carleton Paget (Cambridge)

The Second Century from a New Testament Perspective

4th Week – 16th May (2-5.30 p.m. The Pusey Room, Keble College)


Marking the retirement of Prof. Christopher Tuckett.

Tobias Nicklas (Regensburg)

What Christian Apocrypha tell us about the History of the Canon

Mary Marshall (Oxford)

“The leaven of the Pharisees”: A case study in recognising the Evangelists

6th Week – 30th May

Catrin Williams (Trinity Saint David)

Unveiling Revelation: The Spirit-Paraclete and Apocalyptic Disclosure in the Gospel of John

7th Week – 6th June

Jonathan Norton (Heythrop)

Paul: A zealot for the law

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The Consequential Jesus

In my lectures and tutorials on the ‘historical Jesus’, I have sought to find ways to introduce my students to shifts in the terrain of HJ scholarship in recent years. While there has, since at least Form Criticism in the early 20th century, been an awareness that any attempt to grasp the historical figure of Jesus must make some sense of the gospel tradition as a whole, in recent years – in line with historiographical shifts more broadly – we have all been more aware of the crucial importance of the earliest impact of Jesus in its manifold form for ascertaining something about the earthly Jesus (think Dunn, Allison, Watson, le Donne, Keith, et al.). Scholarship is divided as to whether one can ever leap the gap and cross from memory to event, and there are real questions about what it might even mean to reach an uninterpreted Jesus – as if one could, in some Emersonian dream, become a transparent eyeball, seeing all as a part or particle of God. I’ve tried to speak with my students of the shifts from criteria of authenticity to plausibility, to recurrence, to memory. I have sometimes borrowed the language of my supervisor, Markus Bockmuehl, to speak of the ‘footprint’ of Jesus in the memory of the early church, or to contend for an elision of the adjective historical to ‘historic’.

I’ve learned much from the recent emphasis on memory, but have sometimes wondered whether the connotations of the word could suggest to students something slightly too narrow, and need to be set in a slightly broader framework assessing the impact of Jesus. Memory need not be understood in purely cognitive terms, of course, and there is a capacious usage that would encompass what I have in mind. But as in reception history one can draw a meaningful distinction between Auslegungesgeschichte (history of interpretation) and Wirkungsgeschichte (effective history or history of effects), with the former bearing more of an emphasis on a self-conscious intellectual stance toward the subject in question, might it be possible to include memory as one key component in a broader assessment of the impact of Jesus – and so to speak not simply of the remembered Jesus but of the consequential Jesus?

I’m sure I’ve stolen the phrase ‘consequential Jesus’ from someone (if anyone knows its derivation do speak up), but think I’ll hang on to it as a way to help my students understand these important shifts.


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