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.

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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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 😉

Announcement: A Job Seeker

After the defense, I will also be officially unemployed (graduation = unemployment?)

Therefore, if you are a potential employer or you know of any temporary research or teaching opportunities, please don’t hesitate to contact me at qtcoconut@hotmail.com (I know this email address sounds a bit funny, but this is the mailbox I check most often ;p)

For your deliberation, I will tell you a bit about myself. And you can also ask me for my CV and other relevant documents. My bachelor, honours and PhD are all related to the Bible (Old Testament/Hebrew Bible) and its related languages (mainly Semitic languages – e.g. Hebrew, Aramaic, Akkadian). I am interested in any jobs related to the Bible.

Goal/Dream:

Of course, my dream or goal is to go back to Asia with my fiance, to teach and live there. But, right now, I think I still need to accumulate some work experience for another four or five years in other parts of the world.

Requirements:

For a teaching position, I am willing to teach anywhere for a limited time span. So you can count me in if you know of any job from the North Pole to Antarctica.

For a research position, I hope to gain access to great library facility.

And the good news is that I don’t have any salary requirements. But I do at least expect my travel  expenses and accommodation to be covered if there is no salary. If I get a salary, then I can take care of the travelling and the accommodation by myself.

Personal Information:

I am engaged to a boy. But I also love what I have been studying. And I want to have my own career in the future. My fiance is sweet enough to be totally supportive of it. So I will be a reliable employee for you.

That’s all from me for now. Again, if you are a potential employer, please feel free to email me (qtcoconut@hotmail.com). I can provide you with other relevant information about my qualifications. You can also check out my other blog articles to get to know me a bit more. Thank you very much for your kind attention.

A photo from last world cup? Taken from http://centralpasoccer.com/files/2010/10/mueller-goal-wc.jpg

A photo from the previous world cup? Taken from http://centralpasoccer.com/files/2010/10/mueller-goal-wc.jpg

Right now, it is the World Cup fever. May we all acheive our goals and dreams in life 😉

Presentation: Fiery “Sheol” in the Dead Sea Scrolls

When I throw this question at my boyfriend, who is a law student and thus a “non-specilaist” of the Bible: “How does the underworld look?” The first word comes out of his mouth is “fire”! When I am in the Vatican, looking at the fresco of the Last Judgment by Michelangelo, at the right hand corner, at the bottom, I see that the boatman Charon shove the damned souls into the fiery hole. When I read John Milton’s Paradise Lost, I imagine Satan falling into the “bottomless perdition” filled with “penal fire”. When I go to church on Sunday, I listen to the Lukan story of the rich man and Lazarus, where the former thirsts for water in the eternal flame.  Here comes one interesting fact: If we try to find a reference to fire in the “Sheol” (a uniquely Hebraic term to designate the abode of the dead) of the Hebrew Bible, we would be disappointed. Instead of with fire, the Hebrew Bible often associates “Sheol” with water (e.g. Job 26:5-6; Ezekiel 31:15; Psalm 69:2, 14). Where are all these images of fiery underworld coming from? I do not know the answer.

But tomorrow in one of the sessions of the SBL international meeting at St. Andrews, I would like to share with you how several Qumran texts (e.g. 1QM XIV, 16-18; 4Q 491 8-10i 13b-15; 1QHa IV 25-26a; 4Q184 1 6-10) attest to a fiery underworld, expressed through the term “Sheol”! First, I would like to draw your attention to how this fiery “Sheol” stands in contrast to the more watery “Sheol” in the Hebrew Bible. Second, I relate this fiery “Sheol” in the Qumran texts with the other fiery underworld in the Second Temple literature, esp. that of 1 Enoch. Rather than probing the origin of this fiery imagery, the focus will be on the literary function of this fiery imagery within the Qumran texts. At the end, I conclude that this fiery aspect of “Sheol” within the Qumran texts contributes to an annihilating concept of punishment after death in the Second Temple period. (Note: In case you are wondering how I get into this “deadly” business, it is because we also get the prevalent motif of death and Sheol in Ezekiel’s oracles against Egypt, which form the focus of chapter 3 of my dissertation)

So I send you my greetings from St. Andrews and look forward to seeing you and discussing with you here! 🙂

Here are the details of the session:


Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls
7/08/2013
9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Room: Meeting Room 301 – Physics (15)Sidnie Crawford, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, Presiding
Helen R. Jacobus, University College London
Calendars from Jewish Documents in the Cave of Letters and Elsewhere in the Judean Desert (25 min)
Discussion (10 min)
David Willgren, Lund University
Psalm Use in the Dead Sea Scrolls (25 min)
Discussion (10 min)

Break (35 min)
Lydia Lee, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
“Sheol” in the Dead Sea Scrolls (25 min)
Discussion (10 min)

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Scottish pipe music in the university of St. Andrews to mark the end of the conference 🙂