For Greek reading I’ve been so knee-deep in Ephesians that I haven’t been much in the Septuagint of late. That will change with the release of Karen Jobes’s Discovering the Septuagint: A Guided Reader, just published by Kregel Academic. I have known about this for a long time, so am happy to see it released into the wild! I think a lot of folks will benefit from it, especially those ready to freshen things up or go a step deeper in Greek learning.
One of the best biblical commentaries is the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) Bible Commentary. Previously at Words on the Word I’ve reviewed JPS Jonah, Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus.
Now Accordance Bible Software has announced the release of every JPS Bible Commentary volume that currently exists in print, including Michael Fishbane’s Song of Songs and Michael V. Fox’s Ecclesiastes.
(Fun aside: I was leading an Accordance Webinar on building Workspaces when I realized the “Michael Fox” in attendance was THAT Michael V. Fox.)
Accordance has a number of purchase and even upgrade options available, all of which are explained in detail here.
Now there are two more volumes: Genesis, by Tremper Longman III, and Romans, by Michael F. Bird.
As Tremper Longman III describes in the video below, The Story of God Bible Commentary has three primary focuses:
Listening to the Story
Interpreting the Story
Living the Story
You can read my review of McKnight’s Sermon on the Mount volume here. Also published so far have been Lynn H. Cohick’s Philippians and John Byron’s 1 and 2 Thessalonians. You can find the series landing page here.
Just a short post today to alert you to a new commentary on the book of Ruth: Daniel I. Block’s volume in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament. Ruth is just the third published volume in the series, formerly called Hearing the Message of Scripture. Block is the General Editor of the series.
Some Sundays (though not nearly 70 or 72) have gone by without a Septuagint Sunday post, an erstwhile major focus of this blog. Today rectifies the paucity, at least for this week.
William Ross, a doctoral student at the University of Cambridge, interviewed James K. Aitken just after Christmas. Aitken is the editor of the exciting T & T Clark Companion to the Septuagint. The companion, to my knowledge, marks a first in Septuagint studies, as it presents a “handy summary of features for each of the Septuagint books.”
The interview is fascinating and enjoyable, and you get a sense of a scholar who is both rigorous in his study and writing, yet also approachable.
Aitken offers encouragement to those interested in Septuagint studies by suggesting the field still has much ground (bad pun, all mine) to till:
I do not think there is any area that is overworked in LXX studies, so that any aspect of the field is possible. Currently for most books of the LXX, there has been only one or two monographs in the past century – an enviable position in biblical studies! Some books have now received more attention (Isaiah, Psalms, Minor Prophets) but there is still plenty to do even for them. So, a student may pick any book and still have plenty to say.
This month’s free book of the month from Logos Bible Software is the brilliant Nahum Sarna’s JPS Torah Commentary. It’s worth much more than $0.00, but you can get it for that price here. I reviewed the commentary here.
Logos is also offering the JPS Jonah Commentary (I covered it here) for $1.99–an excellent deal.
Carta–one of my favorite publishers–has just announced the release of some new titles. As with anything I’ve seen from Carta, they each look fascinating and thorough, even if the books themselves are brief.
Thanks to Carta, readers of Words on the Word (and anyone, really) can get 25% off a Web order at Carta’s online store. Simply click on any cover image below to go to that title, and enter the code 25-off to receive the discount. The offer is good through December 15 (UPDATE: December 31) or so.
This volume, the second of four in The Carta New Testament Atlas series, presents the latest advances in the history and archaeology of Jerusalem. The last fifty years in particular have seen significantly increased efforts to discover the city’s past. New finds every year render what is previously written almost out of date before the ink is dry. With an acknowledgement of this reality, together with a recognition that much of the Old City of Jerusalem remains inaccessible to archaeological investigation, the present work lays its shoulder to the challenge.
Yes, an entire book (even if only 40 pages) devoted to understanding the state of the boat in Jesus’ time. When I flipped it open yesterday, I found myself drawn to and reading the two-page glossary of terms first! It’s a good sign that even the glossary is interesting. I’m excited to dig in to this one. Here’s the publisher’s description:
The ancient boat from the Sea of Galilee exhibited at the Yigal Allon Museum at Kibbutz Ginosar speaks of pivotal times on the lake two millennia ago, when an itinerant rabbi walked its shores and sailed its waters with his followers, and changed the world forever.
This volume aims to give the non-expert reader an in-depth understanding of the boat, the story of her discovery and excavation and, most importantly, her significance for illuminating Jesus’ ministry by helping us better understand its contemporaneous milieu of seafaring and fishing on the Sea of Galilee.
Understanding the land of Jesus is a necessary component to comprehending the message he proclaimed. From the beginning of the four Gospels until their end, the Evangelists assume that we possess an intimate knowledge of the historical and geographical stage onto which Jesus stepped.
For most Christian readers this is unfortunately not true. Many have not had the opportunity to visit the Holy Land. Even for those who have, it can prove to be a confusing experience. Much about life in this land has changed over the course of two millennia.…
It is hoped that the maps [in this book] and the brief texts that accompany them can serve as a guide for the Christian reader to navigate the geographical stages in the Gospel accounts. …May the reader be aided in their pursuit to follow the steps of the Master and to grasp more clearly the message he preached.
As I have a chance to explore these titles more, I’ll report back. Again, the code is 25-off at Carta’s online store. (UPDATE 2: This code is good for the titles above and anything else in the store, not the least of which is this beauty of a book.) Also, if you have 13 seconds, are on Twitter, and like to share your opinions about printed maps, check out this poll, which particularly has the last title above in mind.
View my reviews of Carta works here. Check out their site here, and go here to see their works via Hendrickson, their U.S. distributor. For the next few weeks, however, the titles above are only available through Carta’s site.
Though it’s been long in coming, the Biblia Hebraica Quinta (BHQ) is meant to supercede the current scholarly edition of the Hebrew Bible, the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS).
What is the BHQ? Start here and you’ll get a good grasp of it. I updated my readers in 2014 with what was then some new information. To my great surprise, in a .pdf from Hendrickson Publishers today, I saw a cover image for the Genesis volume!
Look on the far right:
So new is it that Amazon and Hendrickson both don’t have it listed by ISBN or any other means. Hopefully it really will show up soon!
UPDATE: I have received word that the expected release date is Spring 2016.
There is another big sale on Zondervan’s NIV Application Commentary series, with each of the ebooks selling at $4.99–on, among other places, Amazon. For the first time Zondervan is offering various discounted bundles, too. Check them out here.
As I’ve said before, I really liked Psalms vol. 1 in this series. There are a lot of really good volumes in NIVAC, like Genesis, Peter Enns’s Exodus, and the sleeper hit of the series: James (David P. Nystrom). (Seriously–I think it might be the best of the bunch.)
All the Table of Contents now are hyperlinked, so navigating via Kindle or iBooks should be relatively manageable. You won’t get the same sort of search power you’d get in Accordance or Logos, but the price is tough to beat.
Conybeare and Stock’s Selections from the Septuagint According to the Text of Swete is a classic–if somewhat dated–work in Septuagint studies. You may also know it as Grammar of Septuagint Greek.
The grammar section is short, and leaves one desiring a properly full grammar of Septuagint Greek. But it’s the best starting point there is, so the Septuagint student will still want to read it. It is chock-full of Scripture references (and quotations), which in the print edition will require a fair amount of looking things up. (The need for this is obviated if you buy the Accordance or Logos edition.)
The grammar section is dense–if selective in its treatment–but not overly obtuse. There is a 20+-page introduction on the Septuagint, its origin, the Letter of Aristeas, transmission, and so on. It offers succinct coverage of the “long process” of the “making of the Septuagint.”
After the introduction there are “Accidence” and “Syntax” sections, the former covering morphology and the latter addressing sentence structure. To get a feel for how much coverage a section has, here is part of a page on “number” in Septuagint Greek:
One oddity that appears to be a printing error is that the Table of Contents for the Grammar appears after the Grammar, on about page 100 or so.
The grammar, then, is a good enough starting point, but won’t really take one deeply into study of a particular grammatical or syntactical feature of the text. Would that T. Muraoka might give us a full Septuagint grammar! (Wait–the day after I drafted that sentence, I saw this. Awesome.)
However, Conybeare and Stock more than make up for any lack in the comprehensiveness of the grammar proper with their guided reading section. It is still the most thorough resource of its kind available for the Septuagint. (Though that looks set to change this fall.)
With the Septuagint texts there are reading helps at the bottom of each page. Especially for those who have only read New Testament Greek, this is a great next step. Here is what “The Story of Joseph” looks like (click to enlarge):
You’ll note the attention to grammatical detail, especially, in the notes. And the introductory mini-essays before each reading were a pleasant surprise. These selected readings have definitely helped me keep my Greek going, or ramp it back up after some delays in using it.
You can find Conybeare and Stock’s little gem at Amazon here, or at Wipf and Stock’s product page here.
Another LXX print resource from Wipf and Stock is A Handy Concordance of the Septuagint: Giving Various Readings from Codices Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, Sinaiticus, and Ephraemi.
It’s what you’d expect: a compact, easy-to-carry-around concordance to words found in the Greek Old Testament. To boot: there is an appendix featuring words from Origen’s Hexapla that are “not found in the above manuscripts.”
Of course, a “handy” concordance cannot include every LXX word. Pronouns and prepositions and the like do not occur here. Those engaged in academic study of the Septuagint will probably cringe at this line:
All reference to the Apocrypha has been omitted; principally because it was judged that the Apocryphal books should never have a place with the Holy Scriptures.
There is the offer that if “the apocryphal parts are thought to be needed, any one so disposed can carry out that work.” (Bible software to the rescue!) But Codex Vaticanus, on which the concordance is primarily based, includes what Protestants consider “Apocrypha.” That those books should be omitted on theological grounds seems an unfortunate decision.
Otherwise the book is easy to carry and doesn’t require electricity or software updates, so Apocryphal omission aside, it could have its place in the LXX student’s library. Here’s what part of a page looks like:
You can find the LXX concordance at Amazon here, or at Wipf and Stock’s product page here.
Thanks to Wipf and Stock for the review copies of both books, given to me for the purposes of reviewing them, but with no expectation as to the content of this post.