Resource: Two Great Books on the Textual History of the Hebrew Bible

For those interested in the textual history of the Hebrew Bible, I would recommend these two great books, from which I learn a great deal:

1. Ernst Würthwein and Alexander Achilles Fischer, The Text of the Old Testament: An Introduction to the Biblia Hebraica (3rd ed.; trans. Erroll F. Rhodes; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans: 2014). 20959398

This is an awesome introduction to the extant textual witnesses of the Hebrew Bible, including the Masoretic Text, the Septuagint, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Samaritan Pentateuch, etc.). The book, which is a revised expansion on Würthwein’s fifth edition published in 1988, gives a clear and systematic explanation of the differences among these textual witnesses, and thus stresses the importance of textual criticism to reconstruct the historical development of the Hebrew Bible. As the author(s) write: “Textual criticism is the doorway to exegesis, and there is no back door. It is all too rarely observed that neither the church nor scholarship possesses a single biblical text, but only a copy that has been transmitted through a particular historical tradition. As a consequence the text not only provides the basis for interpretation, but the text itself is subject to historical study” (p.157).

 

2. Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (2nd rev. ed.; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001).

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The framework and a lot of ideas in the foregoing book are also reflected in this monograph, which was first published in Hebrew in 1989 and has become like the “Bible” in the field of textual criticism. Currently, I only have the second revised edition. This monograph contains much more concrete and detailed background information about various manuscripts and translations of the Hebrew Bible. Particularly useful is chapter 3, which features different scholarly approaches to grapple with the textual variants. In the rest of the book, the author then makes use of concrete biblical examples to surmise and explain how different types of textual variants came about. Throughout the book, the author has demonstrated his encyclopaedic knowledge of biblical texts. The content of the book is dense and requires careful reading, but the outcome of learning this book would be rewarding.

Presentation: “The Dynamic Textual History of the Hebrew Bible” at Fudan University, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China

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Photo Credit: history.fudan.edu.cn/7816/list.htm

I was overjoyed to receive an invitation to give a small presentation at the Department of History at Fudan University in Shanghai! I spoke on the “Dynamic Textual History of the Hebrew Bible” (《希伯来圣经》的文本流传与历史变迁) on 08.05.2018.

The first part of the presentation was an introduction to the medieval manuscripts of the Masoretic Text (group) and some late antique manuscripts of the Septuagint. The second part of the presentation traced back to the even earlier biblical manuscripts uncovered around the Dead Sea. I used some examples to illustrate how the Proto-Masoretic Text from the Dead Sea can contain features that differ and predate the medieval Masoretic manuscripts, and how some Hebrew manuscripts from the Dead Sea can reflect the Hebrew Vorlage of the Septuagint. The third and last part of the presentation explored the impact of the concept of Urtext on the scholarly analyses of the relationship among different text groups.

With the kind assistance of a friend, I managed to sharpen my arguments and deliver the whole presentation in Chinese Mandarin. This is my second visit to China and I do cherish the new-found friendship during this brief visit 🙂

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My abstract in Chinese Mandarin!

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One of my favourite parts in Shanghai: Yuyuan Garden. This is where you can find beautiful folk artworks and delicious food 😉

 

Book Reviews: Thankful for the Comments on My First Book

Prof. Johan Lust has kindly reviewed my first book Mapping Judah’s Fate in Ezekiel’s Oracles against the Nations. The review is published at Ephemerides theologicae Lovanienses 93 (2017): 152-153. For your reading convenience, here are the photographed pages:

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Prof. Karin Schöpflin has also kindly written a review of my book, which is published at Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 129 (2017): 465-466. Here is the photographed review:

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My sincere thanks for their kind attention and helpful comments 🙂

Article: The Enemies Within: Gog of Magog in Ezekiel 38-39

My article entitled “The Enemies Within: Gog of Magog in Ezekiel 38-39” is now published in the open-access journal HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies (South Africa-based)! Please feel free to check it out on their website: http://www.hts.org.za/index.php/HTS/article/view/4541

This article summarizes and builds on a section of my 2016 monograph entitled Mapping Judah’s Fate in Ezekiel’s Oracles the against Nations. Since not all of you may have the time to read through the entire book, this article can help you quickly grasp some of the most interesting arguments about the Gog oracles in Ezekiel 38-39. Moreover, this article will lead you through further samples of the reception of Gog of Magog that are not found in the monograph.

Here is the abstract of the article:

The most extensive descriptions of Gog and Magog in the Hebrew Bible appear in Ezekiel 38–39. At various stages of their political career, both Reagan and Bush have linked Gog and Magog to the bêtes noires of the USA, identifying them either as the ‘communistic and atheistic’ Russia or the ‘evil’ Iraq. Biblical scholars, however, seek to contextualise Gog of Magog in the historical literary setting of the ancient Israelites. Galambush identifies Gog in Ezekiel as a cipher for Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king, who acted as Judah’s oppressor in the 6th century BCE. More recently, Klein concludes that Gog, along with his companions, is ‘eine Personifikation aller Feinde, die Israel im Buch Ezechiel gegenüberstehen’. Despite their differences in detail, these scholars, such as Reagan and Bush, work with a dualism that considers only the features of Judah’s enemies incorporated into Gog’s characteristics. Via an analysis of the semantic allusions, literary position and early receptions of Ezekiel 38–39, this article argues that Gog and his entourage primarily display literary attributes previously assigned to Judah’s political allies.

Enjoy your reading! 🙂

P/S: FREE download of Mapping Judah’s Fate in Ezekiel’s Oracles against the Nations is available here: https://www.sbl-site.org/publications/books_ANEmonographs.aspx. Further publications by me can be viewed and downloaded here: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lydia_Lee22; https://nwu.academia.edu/LydiaLee.

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Lecture: How Many Books of Esther Do We Have?

My friend Szi-chieh Yu helpfully introduced me to this wonderful website called the Bible Project. It contains many beautiful animated videos that render biblical stories accessible to everyone, everywhere. The animations are simply lovely! I notice that it defines and explains the Bible from a Protestant Christian perspective. It stresses a unifying principle underlying the Protestant Bible. As one of the videos points out, it is helpful to bear in mind that today the Bible the Protestants are using is not exactly the same as the Eastern Orthodox Christians and the Catholic Christians. The Protestants are using the Jewish Tanakh as their Old Testament (with a different structural arrangement). The Jews and the Protestants, however, can interpret the scriptural texts rather differently.

The Project’s video entitled “What Is the Bible?” also highlights that the Protestant Bible has undergone a long process of compilation. Biblical scholars have continued encountering historical artefacts (e.g., Dead Sea Scrolls, Cairo Genizah, Nag Hammadi Library, etc.) and internal literary evidence (e.g., stylistic breaks, doublets, thematic tensions, etc.) that point to the fluidity and diversity of the early scriptural traditions.

If you wish to know how diverse the early literary traditions surrounding the story of Esther (one of the stories found in the Protestant Bible today) were, why don’t you pop by for the Ancient History Public Lecture tomorrow evening (19:00-20:00)? In the lecture, we will also explore how the early Jewish and Christian writers grappled with the textual fluidity and diversity. See you there! 🙂

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Presentation: Unravel “Gog of Magog” in Seoul, South Korea

The Society of Biblical Literature International Meeting will take place in Seoul, South Korea during July 3-7, 2016. I am so excited that I will deliver a paper entitled “Gog of Magog within and beyond Ezekiel 38-39” in this conference on July 4, 2016!

 

 Photos taken from Allez Savoir! 39 (2007): 34-41, here 37, the website of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, and Joseph Moo’s  “Gog & Magog War Coincide With the Coming 4 Blood Moon”

According to the French report “George W.Bush et le Code Ezéchiel” by Jocelyn Rochat in Allez Savoir! 39 (2007): 34-41, the former US president George W. Bush justified the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by saying that “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East.”

A Palestinian cartoonist Baha Boukhari painted a cartoon depicting the USA and UK as Yajuj and Majuj (Gog and Magog). According to the website of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, the cartoon appeared in the Arab newspaper Al-Ayyam on April 4, 2003.

One Singaporean Joseph Moo, following the footstep of Ronald Reagan and many others, published a series of slides entitled “Gog and Magog War Coincide With the Coming 4 Blood Moon” in May 2014 and claimed that Gog is Russia.

Who then is Gog? Come and discuss with me on July 4, 2016! 😉

Here is the abstract of my paper, which is also available on the SBL website:

The most extensive descriptions of Gog and Magog in the Hebrew Bible appear in Ezek 38-39. At various stages of their political career, both Reagan and Bush have linked Gog and Magog to the diplomatic and military enemies of the USA, identifying them either as the “communistic and atheistic” Russia or the “evil” Iraq (Halsell 1986, 45; Eichenwald 2012, 459). Biblical scholars, however, seek to contextualize Gog of Magog in the historical literary setting of the ancient Israelites. Galambush identifies Gog in Ezekiel as a cipher for Nebuchadnezzar the Babylonian king, who acted as Judah’s oppressor in the sixth century BCE (Galambush 2006, 259-260). More generally, Klein concludes that Gog, along with its companions, is “eine Personifikation aller Feinde, die Israel im Buch Ezechiel gegenüberstehen” (Klein 2008, 131). Despite their differences in detail, these scholars, like Reagan and Bush, still work under a mindset of animosity, considering only the features of Judah’s enemies incorporated into the characteristics of Gog. This paper argues that Gog and his entourage display literary attributes previously assigned to not only Judah’s enemies, but also Judah’s political allies, especially Egypt. Internal evidence suggests that the Gog oracles are a much later insertion into the book of Ezekiel (Tooman 2011, 72-83). Therefore, Ezek 38-39 apparently draws from omnifarious biblical elements and themes, so that all foreign historical nations, whether friends or foes, are all combined and transformed into a metahistorical symbol of chaos or evil, standing in opposition to YHWH and the restored Israel in the eschatological era. Brief remarks will also be made as to how the literary process within Ezek 38-39 that relegates all foreign elements to one eschatological symbol of evil is mirrored in the Septuagint (Num 24:7; Deut 3:1, 13; 4:47; Esth 3:1; 9:24) and continues to evolve in early Jewish and Christian traditions.

The paper will be presented in the Prophets Section. Here are the details:

Prophets
7/04/2016
2:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: B104 – Theology Hall (Yonsei)Chwi-Woon Kim, Baylor University
The Negative Attitude toward Abraham and Israel (Isa 63:16) in light of the Literary Development of the Prayer in 63:7–64:11 (20 min)
Discussion (3 min)
Sehee Kim, Boston University
Parallels in Concept and Plot between Ezekiel 16 and Unfaithfulness (Sumerian Myth) (20 min)
Discussion (3 min)
Lydia Lee, North-West University (South Africa)
Gog of Magog within and beyond Ezekiel 38–39 (20 min)
Discussion (3 min)
Kristin Weingart, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
My Father, My Father! Chariot of Israel and Its Horsemen!? (2 Kgs 2:12; 13:14): Elisha’s or Elijah’s Title? (20 min)
I look foward to meeting you all there! 😀

 

Resource: Living Biblical Hebrew in South Africa!

The faculty of theology at the North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus) has many nice and creative teachers. Liza Lemmer is one of them! I bumped into her at the beginning of the semester and she has kindly let me audit her class. It is a lot of fun to observe how she uses the “Living Biblical Languages” method to teach first-year students Hebrew! For an overview of the “Living Biblical Languages” method, you can look at this video produced by the Biblical Language Center here:

 

I first came into the class on the third day of Week 1, and the students could already follow basic commands of the teacher:

 

We also learned the Hebrew words for different body parts through a song 🙂

 

Once we even had our class outdoors! Guess what! The teacher told me that I already know a lot of Hebrew, so I got to be the camerawoman of the following outdoor recording 😉

 

Today, the teacher and her assistants acted out the funny story of two men – יואב ואדו – which gave us a real belly laugh 😀

 

As seen from above, the teaching techniques used by Liza are really diverse and there are a lot of interactions between teachers and students. I really enjoy going to the class. For the other videos of this Beginner’s Hebrew course, feel free to click on the SEMT112 playlist.

Sincerely hope that one day I can teach Hebrew creatively like her 😉