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Meeting Abstracts

2009 International Meeting
Celebrating the Centenary of the PBI

Rome, Italy

Meeting Begins: 6/30/2009
Meeting Ends: 7/4/2009

Call For Papers Opens: 9/15/2008
Call For Papers Closes: 2/1/2009
Requirements for Participation

  Meeting Abstracts


Early Christian Sarcophagi: Lecture Tour in the Museo Pio Cristiano
Program Unit: Bible and Visual Culture
Elizabeth Struthers Malbon, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The world’s finest collection of early Christian sarcophagi is in the Museo Pio Cristiano, inside the Vatican Museums complex. This guided tour will introduce participants to this collection first hand, focusing on the development of the vocabulary (symbolic and biblical scenes) and syntax (design and iconography) of these manifestations of third- and fourth-century art and faith. For a preview of some of the sarcophagi, go to this site. (For the best virtual tour: Click on the numeral 1 [page 1, at the bottom left] first, then on first photo [the "Via Saleria"] to initiate the identification of individual scenes in automatically translated English, then click on next to continue.)


Translation Studies and Rabbinic Studies: Where and How Can They Meet?
Program Unit: Ideology, Culture, and Translation
Elisabetta Abate, Ca' Foscari University of Venice

For decades, the scholarly study of Classical Rabbinic literature has been including interdisciplinary approaches and asking new questions to the traditional texts of Rabbinic Judaism, especially in terms of linguistic, historical, archaeological, sociological and anthropological research. Still little attention, nonetheless, is paid to the methodological aspects of the process of translating such corpora. No systematic theory of translation and no well-established practical guideline, therefore, are available to the contemporary translators of Rabbinic writings.In this paper I aim at suggesting that Rabbinic Studies could profitably take the achievements of Translation Studies into consideration. My argumentation unfolds as follows: 1. given the specific nature of Rabbinic texts and with special regard to their genres, I attempt at defining to what extent they can be analyzed and treated, by means of modern translation theories, as literary sources; 2. drawing on my own experience as translator of the Mishnah treatises Yevamot and Sotah, (in the context of a Doctoral Dissertation that I have recently submitted to the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice), I offer the most meaningful examples of the problems I met in transposing an ancient rabbinic text into a modern language (Italian), spoken in a different cultural and historical setting. I resort to the notions of referential equivalence, source- vs target-oriented translation, foreignizing vs domesticating translation and modernising vs making archaic a text, as discussed by U. Eco (e.g., Eco Umberto, Mouse or Rat? Translation as Negotiation, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London 2003). I also compare and contrast some of the modern translations of the same passages with mine, in order to reflect on the possible translation strategies used in the field of Rabbinics.


The Dark Ages Revisited: The Earliest Kassite Royal Inscription
Program Unit: Epigraphical and Paleological Studies Pertaining to the Biblical World
Kathleen Abraham, Bar Ilan University

Early Kassite history, that of the sixteenth and fifteenth centuries BCE is still shrouded in obscurity, due to the lack of clear and trustworthy contemporary sources. The reconstruction of its chronology and political history heavily relies on later evidence from kinglists and chronicles. This dearth of material for the early Kassite period has rightfully led to labelling it the "Dark Ages" of Babylonian history. A tablet in the private collection of Shlomo Moussaieff contains an inscription by Kaštiliaš, son of Burnaburiaš, descendant/grandson (dumu dumu) of Agum. It recounts the king's digging of the Sumundar Canal in order to bring water to Nippur. Although hard to establish beyond doubt, the inscription does not appear to be a late copy. The present paper aims to identify the Kaštiliaš mentioned in the new inscription, and to evaluate the implications of this identification for early Kassite history.


gêr - nåkhrî - zâr: Legal and Sacral Distinctions in the Pentateuch in Diachronic Perspective
Program Unit: Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Law
Reinhard Achenbach, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster (Germany)

The paper will present a diachronic view about the development of legal and sacral distinctions concerning the gerîm from preexilic times until the time when the priestly schools of the second temple period gave the Pentateuch its final shape. This includes the question of the treatment of ethnic groups who were considered to be relatives of the Israelites and those who were not. The focus will be on the development as it can be traced from the different literary layers in the Book of Deuteronomy.


Atticism, Classicism and Luke-Acts: Discussions with Albert Wifstrand and Loveday Alexander
Program Unit: Hellenistic Greek Language and Linguistics
Sean A. Adams, University of Edinburgh

There have been number of scholars who have attempted to determine the type of language used by Luke in the writing of his Gospel and Acts, with a number suggesting that there might be parallels with the Atticism movement. This article begins with an in-depth analysis of the nature of Atticism and its affect on the literary world particularly in the second century AD. Following this, the perspectives of Albert Wifstrand and Loveday Alexander will be evaluated which confirm that the label of “Atticism” and attempting to find its literary features within Luke-Acts is anachronistic and should be discussed in terms of “classicisms”. In light of this, Alexander has attempted to view Luke-Acts through the concepts of dialect and register, which is a positive step for understanding the motivations for language choice. This article pushes Alexander’s linguistic understanding and attempts to refine it by further developing the linguistic idea of register and including the concept of genre as a cultural construct that influences the choice of register, which in turn dictates the selection of dialect within a piece of writing.


Understanding 2 Cor. 7.1 Against the Backdrop of Purification Rites in African Traditional Belief
Program Unit: Paul and Pauline Literature
J. Ayodeji Adewuya, Church of God Theological Seminary

In 2 Cor. 7.1 Paul exhorts the Corinthians to cleanse themselves from all the filthiness of the flesh and spirit, an injunction that is predicated on holiness of God, and the nature of people of God. Although this exhortation has personal ethical dimensions, this paper suggests that it is primarily communal. As such, it goes further by suggesting that the exhortation could be better understood both in the communal contexts of African culture and the initiation and cleansing rites, either preparatory or concomitant to worship, that were prevalent among various traditional Africans.


Script, Language and Religion in the Kuntillet Ajrud Inscriptions
Program Unit: Archaeology
Shmuel Ahituv, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

The Kuntillet Ajrud Hebrew inscriptions of ca. 800 BCE, has much to contribute to many aspects of ancient Israel. Now that our study of the Kuntillet Ajrud inscriptions is completed, and will be soon published, it is a proper time to bring to the public the results of our study. It became quite clear that all the inscriptions were written in Hebrew, although in two different scripts: Hebrew and Phoenician. The inscriptions in Hebrew script were written in the northern dialect, as spoken and written by the people inhabiting the kingdom of Israel, but those in Phoenician script represent the Judean dialect. The fluency of the writing, the style and fixed epistolary formulas and blessings, and the high quality of the poetic texts, in such a small peripheral site like Kuntillet Ajrud, testify to the level of literacy in Israel and Judah in ca. 800 BCE. As to religion, it seems that the people who composed the texts, whether from Israel or from Judah, shared a common religion, and adhered to the worship of YHWH. Onomastics, as well as the blessing formulas and the poetic texts allude to the monotheistic tendency of the composers of the texts. As expected, special treatment is dedicated to the place of the asherah in the Kuntillet Ajrud inscriptions, as well as in the inscriptions from Makkedah (Khirbet el Qom), in the light of biblical texts.


Integrity of the Book of Job: A Theological Perspective
Program Unit: Wisdom Literature
Keun-Jo Ahn, Hoseo University

This paper seeks for a integral theme that pervades in the Book of Job. The book is a literary corpus in which various resources and traditions are mingled together. Yet, the narrator of the book calls our attention to a specific thematic issue: edification of Job, the Innocent. I will read each section of the Book through the code of Job's enlightenment. In spite of literary gaps and anomalies, a theological synthesis of the Book emerges. The educational function of Job's story is particularly emphasized in the whirlwind speeches (Job 38-41).


Kuriakon Deipnon: When Utopia Becomes Real
Program Unit: Paul and Pauline Literature
Soham Al-Suadi, University of Basel

kuriakon deipnon is a Hapaxlegomena of extraordinary significance for New Testament studies. Scholars usually affrim the kuriakon deipnon as the Eucharist in 1Corinthians 11. This paper will show that kuriakon deipnon is not to be understood as a terminus technicus for the Eucharist but rather for a ritual – the Hellenistic meal. The paper looks at the structure of Hellenistic meals to show that the ritual, described by Paul matches the overall social practice. M.Klinghardt, D.Smith and H.Taussig understand the ritual as a semi-private social act which allowed the participants to experiment with social variables so that they could put new social alternatives into practice. In 1Corinthians 11 Paul names this experimentation idion deipnon and criticizes their emphasis for it. Instead he is expecting the practice of the kuriakon deipnon. Knowing that the ritual expresses problematic social realities makes us understand that by giving the ritual another name Paul deals as much with the audience as he does with the given social reality of the audience. Paul expresses an individual and a social critique. The connection between utopian and experienced social realities is best described by discussing the role of the symposiarch, the leader of the meal, who had a limited role within the meal practice, because the course of the meal was defined by the common culture and was not directed through individual leadership. 1Corinthinas 11 is the only text which describes Jesus as the symposiarch. Paul is making his social critique: Jesus, not the Roman Emperor, is the leader of the ritual and his individual critique: it is the responsibility to the community to make the ritual work. The paper puts exegetical work into socio-historical practice and shows that the kuriakon deipnon became a Pauline topoi for the utopian Hellenistic meal.


From Aliens to Proselytes: Non-Priestly and Priestly Legislation Concerning Strangers
Program Unit: Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Law
Rainer Albertz, Universität Münster

While aliens in the legislation of the Book of Covenant and Deuteronomy are an object of social protection, the priestly legislation, astonishing enough, includes them more and more in the religious and ritual observance valid for all Israelites. The Septuagint mirrors this process from its end by taking the aliens for proselytes. The paper tries to point out the social,religious, and ritual developments behind process.


The Graeco-Roman Symposium and the Early Christian Gathering: Reading, Preaching and Singing
Program Unit: Greco-Roman World
Valeriy Alikin, Leiden University

During the past ten years a shift has occurred in the study of the weekly gatherings of the early Christians. The essence of this new approach can be formulated as follows: the local early Christian community, looked at sociologically, functioned as a voluntary religious association. In the Greco-Roman world of the first century CE, such associations were numerous. The main expression of all religious voluntary associations was a periodical gathering, which had a bipartite structure: a supper and a contiguous drinking party. This applies also to the early Christian congregations. Although the early Christian gathering had the same twofold structure, the emphasis in current scholarship has been predominantly on the study of the first part, that is, on the supper, also called the Eucharist. Less attention has been given to the study of the second part, which corresponds to the symposium of the Greco-Roman banquet. Before the paradigm shift in the nineties of the last century, much work was done on what was called “the service of the Word,” that is, the Christian gathering consisting of prayer, reading and preaching but without the Eucharist. Scholars, who studied the origins of the different components of the Christian gatherings (reading, preaching and singing), traced them back to Jewish gatherings in the synagogue. However, as appears from the descriptions of communal gatherings of early Christians, reading, preaching and singing were parts of the whole “package” that consisted of a supper plus a symposium. Consequently, the elements of the non-eucharistic part of the Christian gathering, such as reading, preaching and singing, have to be studied anew, and against the background of the Graeco-Roman banquet. This paper seeks to argue that the reading of Scripture, preaching and singing in the early Christian gatherings have their historical background in the reading of texts, preaching and singing during the Graeco-Roman symposium.


The Cross-cultural Translation of the Metaphor Light: From an Ancient Text (Hebrew and Greek) to Lugbarati (a Nilo-Saharan Language)
Program Unit: Relevance Theory and Biblical Interpretation
Andrew Alo, Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology

This paper discusses a metarepresentation and translation issue involving the metaphor of ‘light’ taken from the Hebrew text of Isaiah (8:23-9:6), its quote in the Greek text of Matthew (4:12-17), with reference to its translation into Lugbarati (a Nilo-Saharan language, D.R.Congo). The biblical mention of ‘light’ is investigated within the context of the original languages and respective cultures, and then translation into Lugbarati. Relevance Theory, dealing with ad hoc concepts as proposed by Carston (2002) and Wilson and Carston (2007), may best deal with the conceptual difference of ‘light’ to be found in the different languages and cultures, since it can provide a fine tuned metaphorical analysis via broadening that reflects the different logical and encyclopaedic memories of the people of the Ancient Hebrew, Greek and the modern Lugbarati community. Relevance Theory also makes use of the notion of interpretive resemblance. A quote, as a translation, resembles the original in logical and contextual implications, it therefore provides a means of faithfulness and the basis for second communication as is typical for translation.


A Different Approach to the Story of Judah and Tamar (Genesis 38)
Program Unit: Pentateuch (Torah)
Yairah Amit, Tel Aviv University

In this paper I'll try to show a different approach to the story of Judah and Tamar. According to my reading this story presents a pro-Judahite position, favoring an open attitude toward the integration of the local populace as a way of strengthening and consolidating the people, while depicting the superiority of Judah as a source of future political hope (Perez-David). The depiction of positive relationship between Judah and the Canaanite teaches me that the story was composed by a member of the universalist movement, which sought to bring in the strangers and opposed the isolationism that characterized the Deuteronomistic movement, whose position would later be favored by Ezra and Nehemiah. This story became an integral part of was inserted in the story of Joseph, because it harmonized with the aim of promoting the figure of Judah vis-a-vis the northerners, the people of Samaria, who regarded themselves as the descendants of the House of Joseph, and vis-à-vis the Benjamites, depicted in the Joseph story as the youngest and best-loved brother, as well as with the desire for demographic expansion involving the full integration of all interested elements. These aims correspond with the early years of the Second Temple and also express the world-view of the school of Holiness, which was established as a reaction to the Deuteronomistic and Priestly schools, i.e., in the Babylonian exile, and was effective in the beginning of the Second Temple period.


Magic and Divination in the Ancient Israel: Between Permission and Prohibition
Program Unit: Prophets
Anna Angelini, Università di Siena

The Israelite legal corpora contain prohibitions of many forms of divination. These interdictions are corroborated from the warnings of the major biblical prophets; however, the Bible told us many episodes where some specific way for knowing the future is permitted and sometimes encouraged. Thus we have a sort of contradiction that concerns the distinction between prophecy and divination and the definition of the true prophet. My paper will focus on the analysis of a specific kind of divination, i.e. the rhabdomancy. The explicit prohibition at this regard is formulated by prophet Osea (Hos 4, 12), but we come across elsewhere many rods having magic function or performing some divinatory act (e. g. Ex 4,17; Nu 17, 16-28; Jer 1, 11-12). The study of the sources reveals a double attitude in the Bible: it forbids in a manifest way divinatory practices as a form of idolatry, by attributing them to the foreign people. But the Bible itself can accept some form of magic and divination by making them approved, if they are traceable to the supreme and unquestionable authority of God. I will argue that we are not in front of a conflict between a “holy” Israel and its Heathen neighbours; rather it concerns a complex strata of religious believes inside the Israelite society, where the monotheism were interrelated with the substrate of previous form of cult. The problem of divination also displays the tension between the necessity to conform to the official rules of cult and the persistence of popular religious practices. This research throws light on the definition of the officers of the cult, that distinguish themselves from the chaotic background of magicians, wizards, prophets by a progressive differentiation of functions, that culminates in their ability to speak directly to God, without intermediaries.


Are Women the Aition for Evil in the World?: The Greek Versions of 1 Enoch 8:1 ff. in Light of Hesiod's Theogonia
Program Unit: Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha
Luca Arcari, Federico II University, Naples

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“We must not appeal to the prophets”: Jonah Among the Resurrection Polemics in 3 Corinthians
Program Unit: Biblical Characters in the Three Traditions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam)
Hans Arneson, Duke University

American literary theorist Stanley Fish famously argued that in the reading process no independent textual entity exists prior to interpretation, such that one could, as we might think, simply appeal to a neutral body of data to settle interpretive disputes. “The question of what is in the text,” Fish wrote, “cannot be settled by appealing to the evidence since the evidence will have become available only because some determination of what is in the text has already been made.” We might quibble with the rigid hermeneutical limits Fish thus fixes, but we might at least agree that he has observed something basic that occurs commonly in practice: the interpretive paradigms actualized by the reader often create the facts that are found. Rejection of a text or its authority, then, might be well understood as a related phenomenon: the rejected text is actually a rejected reading. These complex hermeneutical dynamics might not always be grasped by the reader who accepts the “facts” of a text or the reader who rejects them. This essay argues that this is precisely the case with the appeal to Jonah in 3 Corinthians. Couched as a prison epistle of the apostle Paul, 3 Corinthians represents a fascinating, late second-century example of the pseudonymous appropriation of the apostle’s legacy in order to combat the theological positions embodied by the apostle’s fictive opponents, Simon and Cleobius, which include aversion both to appropriation of the prophets and resurrection theology. Hounded by “aberrant” teachings, the Corinthians seek an apostolic rebuttal of their central claims: that the Corinthians must not appeal to the prophets, that God is not almighty, that there will be no resurrection of the flesh, that humankind was not the work of God, that Christ was neither born of Mary nor existed in the flesh, and that the world was the work of angels, not God. For the author of 3 Corinthians, the rejection of an appeal to the prophets, the first item on the list, has clear import for other points that follow, notably, discussion of theologies of creation by intermediaries and the omnipotence of God. The importance of the “traditional” biblical narrative for the articulation of a proto-orthodox stance vis-à-vis these issues may be intuitively grasped; for the second-century author and his audience, the opponents offered not only theological polemic but by rejecting the prophets called into question the textual bases for the exegetical counterclaims of proto-orthodox Christians. Less intuitive, by contrast, is the central place of the prophetic corpus for proto-orthodox statements on resurrection. This essay argues that, for the author and his audience, the doctrine of the resurrection of the flesh was no less touched by the rejection of the prophets than were claims regarding the creative action or omnipotence of God, a fact critical for understanding the precise nature of the author’s explicit appeals to the Jonah and Elisha narratives. In 3 Corinthians we observe not a polemical interpretation of a corpus based on a debated hermeneutical strategy but the mobilization of an otherwise undisputed reading strategy in which the textual potential of the Jonah narrative has fully crystallized into a set of textual “facts”. The “rule received by the prophets and the holy Gospel” is thus singular and hermeneutically fixed: fleshly resurrection is prophetic doctrine.


Le Professeur Henri Cazelles : un itinéraire intellectuel
Program Unit:
Olivier Artus, Institut Catholique, Paris,

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