“There are three things that trouble me,
four that disturb:
the teacher, joyously inflicting harm,
the paper, unrelenting in difficulty,
the class hour, extending past its due,
and the student, refusing to learn.”
A proverb of wisdom indeed! And this is one of the fun things about opening up the ancient forms of our Scriptures for others to enjoy. He did ask me if this could be counted as a contemporary cognate proverb. No.
But here are a few parallel passages from Wisdom/Instruction of Amenemope (an ancient Egyptian wisdom text) and the book of Proverbs (just for fun):
Thanks for entering my recent book giveaway where I was offering Andreas J. Köstenberger and Richard D. Patterson’s, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation: Exploring the Hermeneutical Triad of History, Literature, and Theology (Kregel Academic, 2011).
My own preference for a genre over the last number of years has actually become poetry. The forms of Hebrew poetry have seemed to offer a new vista for Biblical studies in my own progression and development. The manner of learning to communicate in ways where the form matches the pathos of the writing has been key in this for me.
So the winner of this drawing is…Nathan. And thanks again for everyone who entered. I plan to have more book giveaways in the not-too-distant future.
I have managed to acquire an extra copy of Andreas J. Köstenberger and Richard D. Patterson’s, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation: Exploring the Hermeneutical Triad of History, Literature, and Theology (Kregel Academic, 2011). This volume approaches the text via the historical/literary/theological method where these three aspects must be considered carefully in order to move toward a proper interpretation of Scripture. The volume’s approach begins with discussion of the canonical elements (because of the place this text has within the community which affects all else), moving to genre discussions (with analysis of specific passages), and finally discussing issues like discourse, syntax, and word studies. This is the opposite direction that a number of other texts have taken and it is (in my opinion) a more welcome approach for teaching students how to properly interpret Scripture. (The wonderful folks of Kregel Academic also offer quizzes and power-point slides for professors adopting this text).
With that said, I am going to give away 1 copy of this book to a randomly selected commenter to this post (with a maximum of four entries per person and one entry per each of the following):
- Leave a comment answering the question: “What is your favorite genre of Scripture and why?”
- Link to this giveaway on Facebook and leave a comment with a link to your FB post.
- Link to this giveaway on Twitter and leave a comment with a link to your Twitter post.
- Re-blog this giveaway linking to this post.
The giveaway will end Wednesday, November 13th at 11:59PM. The winner will be announced Thursday morning. Happy commenting.
Due to shipping costs I am only offering this giveaway to those residing in the U.S. and Canada. I will contact the winner privately to obtain a shipping address.
Last week in class we discussed 1 Corinthians 14.33-35. Talk about a controversial text. How does one properly interpret such a passage? I was asked by a number of friends if I might post my notes on this. Instead of posting notes, here are “points to ponder” in working toward a proper interpretation of this passage. Perhaps I should mention at the beginning that I did not bring up the typical explanation of this being a house church wherein the women and men sat in different areas (a much later practice nowhere testified to in the NT) and thus the women would be somehow disruptive by asking their husbands something from across the room. Such a maneuver requires a historical reconstruction of which (at best) is shaky. So I offer the following after the verses in question:
For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.
34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. (NIV2011)
Points to ponder:
* The paragraph break for the end of verse 33 in various translations alters the reading with relation to the universal sense? Is God about peace and order “in all the churches of the saints” or are women to remain silent “as in all the churches of the saints”? (See my comments on the translations HERE). The former is followed in the such translations as the ESV and NIV84, the latter in the footnote of NIV84 and the NLT. The grammar is ambiguous. The theology, points to the latter as the more likely referent.
* “Woman” in verse 34 is clarified by speaking to ‘her husband’ in verse 35. How would this apply to single women? Does it only immediately then apply to married women?
* Women were already told they could “prophesy and pray” in 1 Cor.11.6 as long as they do so with propriety. How then should we understand not being allowed to “speak” in 1 Cor.14.34? It would not be a total speaking censure.
* this passage is framed before and after by discussions of prophesying and its proper regulation for orderliness. Has this passage shifted contexts or is it actually still regulating prophecy in the church to function in an orderly manner? How so?
* To “ask her husband” is grammatically suggestive (following the extensive lexical and semantic analysis of Waldemar Kowalski’s paper at SPS 2013 in Seattle, WA) of a critiquing and (likely) rejection. If this is actually about prophesying it would point to a husband prophesying and his wife questioning it (or him) in a negative way. While the others are already instructed to weigh what is said, if the wife of the one prophesying were to do so in the corporate worship setting it would lack propriety. She should therefore save such a questioning for the privacy of their home.
So where might this leave us for interpretation? How do you read this? Do these talking “points” help you to better understand some of the issues involved?
* It is also of note that Gordon Fee (in his NICNT commentary on 1 Corinthians) points out that some of the manuscript evidence places this text (vv.34-35) to after the chapter. His proposal (which I personally find weak, but mention because…well…its Fee) is that this text is not original to 1 Corinthians.
I thought in light of Reformation Day (Oct. 31) I am posting about a sermon I recently read in the newly published Volume 12-Berlin: 1932-1933 of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works - English. I was so thoroughly challenged by the words of his Reformation Sunday sermon (Nov. 6, 1932) that I couldn't help but share some of it. His text was Revelation 2:4-5, 7: …
You read that right. Yesterday I wrestled with unicorns…all afternoon. And not just your run of the mill mythic Greek unicorns. No. I wrestled with the Biblical variety. In case you have no clue what I’m talking about, you might be surprised to find that “unicorns” are mentioned in the Bible (or at least in the King James Version of the Bible). 
Here are the passages where “unicorn/s” are referred to: Numbers 23:22; 24:8; Deuteronomy 33:17; Job 39:9; Psalm 22:21; 29:6; 92:10; and Isaiah 34:7. This is quite a list. I know I was surprised by it.
Perhaps you are actually wondering why I would be concerned about “unicorns” (the Hebrew is רְאֵ֖ם or r’m) in the Bible and spend my afternoon studying them? Well, as it turns out, I have a friend who is a professor in Canada who emailed me an extended question on the topic, because someone had asked him about it. Here is part of his question (where he is citing the person who brought it to him):
“Psalm 92:10 is very clearly saying that this animal has one horn, while Deut. 33:17 is clearly saying that this animal has two horns. Therefore, whatever the r’em is, it must be an animal that could have either one or two horns.”
As such, this individual believes that the “wild ox” translation of most of our modern versions is actually misleading and inaccurate and we should be sticking with the LXX (KJV) rendering of rhinoceros/unicorn.
Technically Psalm 92.10 (or more specifically the MT 92.11) only refers to “the horn” of the r’m. This does not require it to have only one horn, but only notes “the horn” of this creature as if to specify a type rather than delineate the number of horns this creature has normally. For instance, I could refer to something being “like the tusk of the elephant” but this does not mean that elephants only normally have one tusk, but I would be referring to the general category, or exemplar of just one of the tusks of the elephant. I could be wrong and perhaps the plural form for “horns” in Deut.33.17 is intended to refer to multiple horns or to the significance of the horn of this creature, but it seems more likely in that case to actually be referring to multiple horns on the single r’m.
On the NIDOTTE , it doesn’t have ANY mention of this term as a synonym or anything. Too bad really. And the TWOT doesn’t have anything besides “wild ox”.
The Black Obelisk  also contains images of monkeys (?) and elephants (on another side of it). These are the only two of the four sides depicted in ANEP. However, on yet another side there are what appear to be some sort of an ox and a buffalo and in their middle is a one-horned ox-like creature also being brought as tribute to Shalmaneser (this is a photo from the British Museum: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fuzitalondon/320861479/). So PERHAPS it is a reference to a one-horned creature, but there does not appear to be anything requiring such. Not sure what to think about it. If only there were actually a depiction with a cognate term used so that potentially one might know what is being referred to precisely.
The cognate occurs in Ugaritic r’m : rum “buffalo” UT 49:VI:18, plural rumm (UT 51:I:44; 62:19; 2 Aqhat VI:21 [where his "sinews" are considered "splendid"). For more contemporary citation references: 4.i.44 (in the land of Ym'an there are 10 thousands of them); 5.i.17 (captivated by a pool of water much like the appetite of lions in the wasteland, or the desire of dolphins with the sea and hinds with springs of water), 6.vi.18 (the brutality of the battle between Mot and Baal is compared to the goring of this creature) in Gibson who provides the gloss "wild ox". 
Interestingly enough EVERY occurrence in the Hebrew Bible is in a poetic statement. Not sure what that might mean, but it is interesting nevertheless.
My likeliest explanation for “unicorn” is it derives from the Vulgate  which translated the LXX which started with “one-horned”. Not sure where the LXX derives this from, other than potentially their own understanding of the Psalm passage about the singular “horn” of this creature. Granted (as is witnessed on the Obelisk) there is some sort of creature known to the ANE which had a single horn (or so it appears as such), but this does not necessitate the same creature for the Hebrew r’m.
So that is the gist of my wrestling with unicorns in the Bible. However, the story isn’t quite complete, because when I arrived home my oldest daughter (Abbi, 11) showed be a video that her sixth grade class had made which was based on the topic they had been discussing yesterday…which just happened to have been “unicorns”. Coincidence…you be the judge.
 Wild ox or buffalo seems to be the preferred translation in many other versions.
 He had asked about the New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis (5 vols; Zondervan, 1997). I also looked at the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament ()2 vols.; Moody, 1980) which is why I mention it next.
 In one of the commentaries he had consulted there was mention made that the Black Obelisk had a picture of a one-horned creature along with other livestock, but sadly that particular side of the Obelisk is not pictured in James Pritchard’s The Ancient Near East: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures (2 vols.; Princeton, 1971). So I included a link to it as photographed in the British Museum.
 UT refers to Cyrus Gordon’s Ugaritic Textbook: Grammar, Texts in Transliteration, Cuneiform Selections, Glossary, Indices (Analecta Orientalia 38, Pontificium Institutum Biblicum, 1965). The Gibson text I refer to is Canaanite Myths and Legends (2nd Edition; New York: T&T Clark, 2004). While I did not mention it in my response, one also finds a cognate in the Aramaic and, yet earlier, Assyrian rimu.
 The Latin Vulgate translates with the English equivalents of “unicorn” and “rhinoceros”. This appears to be following the Greek Septuagintal translations (LXX).
In Sunday School this week we covered the account of Noah in Genesis 6-9. And I was struck once again by the contrast between the ancient Near Eastern (ANE) accounts that parallel the Biblical Deluge/Noah account.
In the ANE accounts the gods destroy mankind with a flood because of their “noise”* which the gods find bothersome, there is one who escapes the deluge and once they have committed this atrocity they are upset that there are no humans left to feed them. Alas, there is one who survives (Utnapishtim) by use of an ark and upon his exiting the ark he offers a sacrifice. The gods “gathered like flies” to the feast and consider themselves fortunate that a human survived to feed and serve them.
The Bible, on the other hand, declares that God, that is Yahweh, intentionally preserves humankind via righteous Noah. This God even provides specifically for the food for Noah on the ark. Once the ark is opened and Noah exits, he offers a sacrifice to the LORD who is pleased by this. Noah and his descendants are themselves given food to eat by the LORD.
“Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.” (Gen.9:3 NIV2011)
This is the God we serve…not a capricious god, but the LORD who preserves and provides for His creation.
* To be fair, it is possible the ‘noise’ of humans in these ANE accounts actually parallel the biblical account of the LORD noting the din of human violence and depravity.