Friday, October 29, 2010

Review copies

Checked the mail today and got two books for review copy. Big thanks to Emily Kiefer and the generous folks at Westminster John Knox, I received these two books:

New Testament Apocrypha, Volume One: Gospels and Related Writings, Revised ed. Edited by Wilhelm Schneemelcher, trans. R. McL. Wilson

The New Testament World, Insights from Cultural Anthropology, Bruce J. Malina

It's been a while since I received books for review, so I'm excited to have received these two titles. Both of course are books in fields I am interested in (i.e., NT vs. the non-canonical Gospels and the sociological background of the NT), so these two books should be welcome additions to my library. Look for reviews in the upcoming weeks.

Friday, October 15, 2010

What's up, Michelangelo?

I always wondered why some sculptures of Moses, including this one from Michelangelo, looked like this (do you see what I see?):

Moses has horns!?! I learned today that it was due to a mistranslation of the Latin Vulgate of the theophany described in Exodus 34. Exodus 34:29 reads, "Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God." The word "shone" here is the verb קָרַן which is a very rare verb in the OT (which can cause translation problems as we can see here). In one sense, it can mean "to send out rays" but in another "to display horns." The Latin Vulgate translates this verse as: "cumque descenderet Moses de monte Sinai tenebat duas tabulas testimonii et ignorabat quod cornuta esset facies sua ex consortio sermonis Dei." The verb here is translated as cornuta which is a derivation of the word cornu for "horn." I guess it's too bad for Moses that one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance didn't read Hebrew...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Why not Cain's?

Have you ever wondered why Abel's sacrifice was acceptable to God but not that of Cain? You might have heard these answers that I've heard: (1) Cain's attitude was wrong, or (2) Cain did not offer his very best. As I see it, I don't think the text actually says any of that explicitly (though I guess you could argue that the explicit mention of Abel bringing the "fatty" portion or "firstlings" of his flock is an implicit criticism of Cain doing otherwise...) Anyway, I'm currently reading through this book on the Septuagint, and I must say, this is a very fascinating subject! I never knew that there were so many text-critical issues surrounding the LXX and with my interests in intertextuality, I think getting to know the LXX a bit better will do me some good. For instance, see how bringing the LXX into our discussion sheds (or darkens?) light on the issue:

Genesis 4:6-7
6The LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? 7If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it."

This is a pretty straightforward passage of the narrative, and I never thought much about it, but its meaning is actually much more difficult to figure out than evidenced in our translations. For example, here is verse 7:

הֲל֤וֹא אִם־תֵּיטִיב֙ שְׂאֵ֔ת וְאִם֙ לֹ֣א תֵיטִ֔יב לַפֶּ֖תַח חַטָּ֣את רֹבֵ֑ץ וְאֵלֶ֙יךָ֙ תְּשׁ֣וּקָת֔וֹ וְאַתָּ֖ה תִּמְשָׁל־בּֽוֹ׃

οὐκ ἐὰν ὀρθῶς προσενέγκῃς ὀρθῶς δὲ μὴ διέλῃς ἥμαρτες ἡσύχασον πρὸς σὲ ἡ ἀποστροφὴ αὐτοῦ καὶ σὺ ἄρξεις αὐτοῦ

The English translation above follows the MT, but the Hebrew in verse 7 is awkward and difficult, so they often rely on the Greek text, which also show evidence that the translator himself had a difficult time with his Hebrew text:

"If you offer correctly but do not divide correctly, have you not sinned? Be still, his recourse is to you, and you will rule over him."

Very different from our regular English translations, no? As Jobes states, "Part of the translator's motivation, undoubtedly, was a desire to understand why God should be upset with Cain for bringing an offering that is approved in the Mosaic legislation. His rendering may be evidence of an ancient interpretation to the effect that the reason Cain's offering was defective was that he failed to follow the proper cultic rituals." So why not Cain's? Maybe he did it wrong afterall.

Friday, October 1, 2010

What do you want to know?

In my Greek Exegesis of Galatians class, Dr. Eastman informed us early in the semester that the author of our main textbook, J. Louis Martyn, has agreed to come to our class the last week of class for an informal discussion/interview where we will get to dialogue with a premier NT scholar. She asked us this week to start thinking about some questions that we might want to bring up, and as our class is only about eight or nine people, I think there will be plenty of time for everyone to get their fair share of questions in. So I thought, I could elicit some questions from all you fellow bibliobloggers and blog about it afterwards as a small gift to you. Does anyone have anything they would like me to raise with Dr. Martyn? Of course there's no guarantee that I will ask everything, but still, I'm curious to know what you guys are thinking.

Ask away!