I was asked by a student if the early Jews (of the second Temple period) held to a canon of the likes of the later Church.
Here is my brief response:
No. There was considerable debate. For instance, the Sadducees of Jesus’ day only held to the Torah/Pentateuch. They rejected everything else. Same with the Samaritans. The Pharisees seem to represent a group that held to what we know as the OT (which was a collection of 22/24 scrolls equivalent to our 39). While the community (?) at Qumran seems to have held to a wider idea of sacred Scripture that included other texts. And still others, Greek speaking Jews, made use of what we have come to call the Apocrypha or Deuterocanon later received in the Roman Catholic tradition.
This causes me pause with regard to the certitude we can occasionally speak with regarding our ideas of canonicity. These are questions complicated by the communities we find ourselves a part of and the traditions we have received.
HERE is a webinar I was invited to speak for at “Co-Laborate: Men & Women Together: Pentecostal Theology & Praxis” with host Dr. Debbie Fulthorp on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. I spoke on the topic “Challenging Gendered Leadership in the Old Testament”.
The three primary ideas/images regarding the role and function of women in leadership in the OT that I selected to share about are:
I present a few texts from the OT in reference to each idea/image and offer these as related to my own hermeneutic of discerning the trajectory of Scripture rather than simply extracting principles. I regard such images in the OT as indicative of what the Spirit has always been at work doing to empower for life and redemption.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the webinar and any of the texts and subjects discussed (provided it is done with civility and love).
I was a little surprised to find that the TNIV and NIV 2011 have reverted to the Masoretic text (partially) of Proverbs 26:23 against the 1984 NIV which followed the critical rephrasing of this verse in light of Ugaritic and Hittite evidence (though it includes “silver dross” in the footnote). The updated NIV texts created a mixed text that attempts to blend the emended text of the Hebrew as well as maintaining the traditional (misunderstanding) of the Masoretes (adding “like” and maintaining “silver dross”).
“Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart.” (NIV2011 – emphasis added)
“Like a coating of glaze over earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart.” (NET – emphasis added)
The issue pertains to the Hebrew כֶּ֣סֶף סִ֭יגִים which is properly translated “silver dross”. Based upon the cognate Ugaritic word spsg “glaze” (and another cognate in Hittite zapzaga[y]a) a significant and clarifying emendation was made by numerous translations. The emendation involves several elements: the admission that vowel pointing and spaces between words were lacking in the original text of the Old Testament. Removing the vowel-pointing (as well as the matres lectionisyods) and spacing of the Masoretes was inaccurate and should be altered to read כסףסגם “like glaze”. The kaph has then been understood to be the comparative preposition “like”, the yods have been dropped as matres lectionis along with the vowel pointing and the mem regarded as an enclitic (ESV, NAB, NIV1984, NRSV, NLT and, of course, the NET have followed this emended reading).
While the LXX retains the Masoretic reading of “silver”, but it offers an expansion (apparently because the translator was equally confused by the sense of the Hebrew): ἀργύριον διδόμενον μετὰ δόλου ὥσπερ ὄστρακον ἡγητέον χείλη λεῖα καρδίαν καλύπτει λυπηράν, “Silver given deceitfully is considered as earthenware, a smooth tongue hides a troubled heart” (my translation).
Part of the reason for opting to prefer the emended text in light of the cognate terms of Ugaritic and Hittite is based upon the notion that “silver dross” would simply not be used for such a thing. Glaze would be applied to vessels (though obviously it should not be applied to earthenware unless it is being used to conceal). In both cases the point is simply that one is covering over something that will not endure (earthenware) with something that makes it look better than it truly is. The reality is concealed. It is a ridiculous covering of earthenware. It is, in fact, a waste and deceitful. Its apparent value is only that…appearance. It is a cheap object made to look like it is worth something far more.
K. L. Barker, “The Value of Ugaritic for Old Testament Studies,” BSac 133 (1976): 128-29.
I failed to post the update last week, but I read two books for weeks 4-5 of the Bookshelf Challenge. One is on the shelf, the other is only a digital copy so it could not be added to the shelf for the picture. 🙂
Sam Storms, Convergence: Spiritual Journeys of a Charismatic Calvinist (Kansas City, MO: Enjoying God Ministries, 2005). paperback (see my post about receiving it HERE)
Tremper Longman, III, Old Testament Commentary Survey (5th Ed.; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013). Logos digital edition. (see my review of this volume HERE)
Storms offers a fine testimony of his journey as a Calvinist theologian to understanding, appreciating and participating the continuation of the charismata of the Spirit. In the second half (after his story is told), he offers a number of theological issues worth consideration by both those self-describing as Calvinists and those self-describing as Charismatics (with the understanding that most often each group may in fact look with disdain upon the other). Overall this is a decent volume worth reading to begin the conversation toward a greater appreciation of the catholicity of the Church. Thanks again to my sister, Holly, for sending this volume to me for my birthday last year. I have been slowly reading it in a somewhat devotional manner (as opposed to many of the books I read).
Longman’s latest update to his review of Old Testament commentaries is always welcome. He offers his own rankings of various commentary series, specific volumes and authors. It is an incredibly helpful tool for pastors, Bible college, and seminary students as they work to build up a reference library of commentaries on various books of the OT. It was with great appreciation that Logos sent me a complimentary copy to review.
In teaching the book of Lamentations, I was (once again) struck by the structure of this little book in its Hebrew form. It seems by its very structure to shape the Hebrew reader/hearer. Of course, any reading of the text that simply notes structural issues and not the text proper would fall short, but I’m offering here only a brief look at these structural elements as one more move toward the theology of Lamentations which seems stated by the text proper (which I bring up to clarify the theological trajectory which cannot properly be stated apart from the text).
The first two chapters have triple bicolon strophes per verse (22 verses each) with each strophe beginning with the next letter of the acrostic acrostic. Chapter 3 (66 verses) has triple bicolons where each bicolon of that strophe begins with that letter of the acrostic and is signified by a new verse number. Chapter four (22 verses) is doubled bicolons per strophe each strophe beginning with the acrostic. And chapter five (22 verses) is a dissolution of any of these patterns: no acrostic, no continuity of bicolons, irregular strophes. It makes the crescendo of the lament at chapter three begin its decline into full breaking of any sense of control by chapter five. This is signified by the heightened use of the acrostic even though the count of bicolons is identical to the first two chapters. It is a move toward greater disorder of a judged people (a sort of return to Genesis 1.2’s tohu-wabohu or being “unfilled and unfruitful”). It functions as the pottery of Jeremiah 18 that is not to the intention of the potter and must be undone from its form.
The soul of the LORD’s people are laid bare. They are undone. Can anything be made of this or is this the end of all?
Taking up the text itself, this places them right where the LORD wanted them in order to bring life from death, hope from despair, and salvation from judgment. The earth might fall into disarray, all order into disorder, but the LORD’s kingdom is established, his reign is life, his rule: restoration. 19 You, Lord, reign forever;
your throne endures from generation to generation. 20 Why do you always forget us?
Why do you forsake us so long? 21 Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old 22 unless you have utterly rejected us
and are angry with us beyond measure. (Lam.5.19-22 NIV 2011; bold for emphasis) TERMS USED Acrostic in the Scriptures refers to the successive 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet beginning the first word and following in succession to the end of the alphabet. Bicolon is a two line poetic unit. Strophe refers to the larger thought unit of any number of smaller units (perhaps also called a “stanza”). Tricolon is a three line poetic unit.
The Resurgence has posted The Beginner’s Guide to Interpreting Old Testament Law and offered the commonly received Reformed categorization of the Torah as ceremonial, civil and moral. The problem is that this is an external distinction not found in the text of Scripture itself. And while it may be helpful as a basic categorization to separate what is still “in force” for the Church, it offers a system that creates its own problems which are foreign to the Torah itself.
On the other side, J. Daniel Hays (“Applying the Old Testament Law Today” Bibliotheca Sacra 158 [Jan-Mar 2001]: 21-35) wrote a terrific treatment on the topic where he discusses why such categories are not as helpful as many have been led to believe. Here are his concluding remarks:
The traditional approach of dividing the Mosaic Law into civil, ceremonial, and moral laws violates proper hermeneutical method, for it is inconsistent and arbitrary, and the Old Testament gives no hint of such distinctions. This approach errs in two ways. On the one hand it dismisses the civil and ceremonial laws as inapplicable. On the other hand it applies the so-called moral laws as direct law. In addition the traditional approach tends to ignore the narrative context and the covenant context of the Old Testament legal material.
Principlism, an alternative approach, seeks to find universal principles in the Old Testament legal material and to apply these principles to believers today. This approach is more consistent than the traditional one, and it is more reflective of sound hermeneutical method. It also allows believers to see that all Scripture is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).
Joseph Kelly blogged about this last year in relation to Rachel Held Evans “A Year of Biblical Womanhood” (and Tim Keller’s review of it) wherein he argues she likewise subscribes to the “naïvete” of such distinctions in the Law. He notes that mainstream Biblical scholarship has largely moved from such distinctions (even though I note it has had little effect on the wider churches’ understanding and application of the Torah).
I offer the following several paragraphs from my M.Div.Honours thesis concerning an essential aspect of the nature of theological interpretation:
The primary intent of Scripture (i.e., the theological intent) is normative for a proper interpretation that regards authorial intent with due respect. If the theological meaning and significance were excluded from one’s interpretation this would suggest that the reading of Scripture is not to be read as Scripture, but simply as objectified artifact.Certainly the Scriptures can be read in this manner with some benefit, but it fails to grapple with original intent. This “original intent” does not pertain to any fabricated attempt to get behind the text to an undocumented “original” of the text, but understands the text to offer its own implied author and audience. The implied author and audience are suggestive for how one should read the text. Any other manner of reading the text may be helpful in other studies, but is not ultimately helpful for reading the text as Scripture and therefore theologically. 
The failure to read Scripture theologically may in fact explain much of the maelstrom of debate surrounding Gen 1, specifically concerning the use of yôm. A theological reading understands there is more to be interpreted than simply one term in relation to other terms or in relation to genre, but also recognizes the grounding of any reading within the overall cultural, sociological and conceptual worldview as the text has been preserved. The context and genre provide the means by which one should arrive at any proper theological interpretation. It would seem that many fail to understand the importance of the theological intent of a given passage. This, more often than not, leads one to inadequately interpret the theological meaning of the passage and thus the intended theological significance of the passage. “When it comes to the Bible, the energy necessary to ‘hear clearly’ may be considerable, especially given the Bible’s ‘remove’ from the listener’s own language, literary traditions, and culture.”  In fact, the “ability to ask the proper questions presupposes that we come to the text with the proper expectations, and this in turn presupposes that we make an effort to bridge the spatio-temporal gap by developing, as best we can, an ancient linguistic-literary-cultural competence.” 
 Brevard S. Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress,1979), 72-76, 132-135; C. John Collins, Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, and Theological Commentary (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2006), 36, 37.
 V. Phillips Long, “History and Hermeneutics: How Then Should We Read the Bible‘Historically’?,” inFoundations of Contemporary Interpretation: Six Volumes in One (ed., Moisés Silva;Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 394.
 Long, “History and Hermeneutics,” in Foundations of Contemporary Interpretation, 394.