This article provides an outline of the Achaemenid empire’s political history followed by an overview of the diverse sources for understanding some of its institutions. Despite inherent difficulties, the sources allow scholars to reconstruct vital aspects, such as the provincial system, variations in the way different provinces were managed, the “king’s law,” Persian religion, and the strength of central control which held the imperial regions together. The chapter ends with a consideration of the king’s position and royal ceremony and ideology.
Jonathan D. Sarna
Since their emergence in the first half of the nineteenth century, Jewish newspapers have helped to shape religious community, tied far-flung American Jews together, and kept them informed. Indeed, the establishment of Jewish newspapers marked a critical turning point in the community's history. Subsequently, at key moments in the community's evolution, new “must read” periodicals regularly appeared. Yet, the history of Jewish journalism in the United States also represents, for long stretches of time, a sad saga of decline. As independent newspapers became dependent and critical voices were silenced, the Jewish press became harder to respect. This article focuses on the Jewish press in America. It first provides an overview of the beginnings of Jewish journalism and then looks at alternative models of Jewish journalism, the emergence of foreign-language Jewish newspapers, the American Hebrew, the deterioration of Jewish journalism particularly during the interwar years, and other sources of Jewish news. The article concludes by discussing American Jewish journalism's Golden Age and recent developments related to Jewish press.
Gerard J. Norton
This article first gives a schematic outline of the history of the Hebrew text in four stages. It then presents the elements that readers will meet in modern editions of that text. These modern editions find a common focus in the great Tiberian manuscripts of about 1000
What can animal studies contribute to feminist biblical interpretation? This essay explores this question by calling attention to the role of feminist and gender analysis in contemporary interdisciplinary animal studies. Such studies point out that animals are often associated with women and with racial and ethnic others. After summarizing key positions from animal studies, the essay turns to several texts from the Pentateuch and the Former Prophets to outline the association between animals and women and ethnic others (especially Philistines) in biblical literature. The association demonstrates that another layer of complexity to male domination—or carnophallogocentrism—structures biblical literature.
Ronald S. Hendel
The biblical texts from Qumran are the oldest manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible, dating from the mid-third century BCE through the first century CE. Prior to the discovery of the Qumran texts, evidence for the early history of the biblical text consisted of three major versions – the Masoretic text (MT), the Septuagint (LXX), and the Samaritan Pentateuch (SP) – each with an unbroken chain of transmission to the present day. This article assesses the major text-critical theories of the Hebrew Bible after Qumran. First, it surveys the textual situation at Qumran and the relationships among the Qumran texts and the major versions (MT, LXX, and SP), using, as a perspicuous example, the texts of Exodus. Then, the article addresses the adequacy of the text-critical theories, testing their strengths and weaknesses against this evidence. The major protagonists in the theoretical discussion are Frank M. Cross, Shemaryahu Talmon, Emanuel Tov, and Eugene Ulrich.
This article introduces the Assyrian and Babylonian sources relevant to the Old Testament historical books. The corpus of Assyrian sources consists mainly of royal inscriptions between the mid-ninth and mid-seventh centuries
Timothy H. Lim
The approach advocated in this article is the understanding of canon as authoritative literature that is binding for the Qumran community. The distinctive features of this approach are: authority is related to a community; the pesherite is central to the understanding of authoritative literature; there is a vaguely bipartite canon where the ‘Torah of Moses’ referred to the Pentateuch; authoritative literature included the biblical lemmata cited and the pesherite interpretation; Jubilees, Enoch, and the Temple Scroll were not considered part of the Torah of Moses; the rules of the community were considered canonical and authoritative; and other books, such as the Psalms of Joshua and ‘the book of meditation’, may also have been considered authoritative.
This article discusses authorship, books, and readers in Old Testament and New Testament times. In the Old Testament world, authorship is necessarily admitted in letters, and related to letters are prophetic communications. The usual physical form of the book in Babylonia was the clay tablet, normally of a size convenient to hold in the left hand while the right impressed the cuneiform signs with a reed stylus. The complexity of the cuneiform script meant that reading was a skill confined to those trained in scribal schools, some of whom may have progressed from the scribal profession to take other offices in temples and royal courts. The New Testament writings follow the traditional patterns. The letters declare their senders' identities, although not always by name, with the exception of Hebrews, and the single prophetic work makes its author clear. The roll of papyrus or leather remained the standard form of book throughout the Hellenistic period and well into Roman times. Jewish tradition required males to be able to read the Torah, and there were schools throughout Palestine from the first century
Sara M. Koenig
The biblical texts about Bathsheba have notorious gaps, even by the laconic standards of Hebrew narrative. Post-biblical receptions of the story flesh out the terse chapters of 2 Samuel 11–12 and 1 Kings 1–2, ascribing feelings and motives to Bathsheba and David that are not contained in the Hebrew text. This essay examines the intersection of reception history and feminist biblical scholarship by considering eleven novels about Bathsheba from the twentieth and twenty-first century. These novels expand Bathsheba’s character beyond the text, but in fairly gender stereotypical ways, such that feminist readers of the novels may be left wanting more.
This article examines the misuse of biblical texts in order to underpin the ideology of an ‘Aryan’ or ‘German Christendom’. Seen against the backdrop of anti-Semitic ideologies, it asks to what extent were biblical texts of the Old and New Testament misused in order to uphold anti-Semitic ideas or within the framework of anti-Semitic propaganda? The focus is on typical, regularly appearing motifs, which can be encountered in anti-Semitically motivated exegesis, especially in the National Socialist milieu. The same exegesis reappears — fatally enough — in the form of stereotypically reiterated statements among authors who can by no means be reproached with an anti-Jewish or anti-Semitic mindset. The case becomes even more precarious once said stereotypes catch on in wide circles of the church and society — to break through them after their acceptance involves an immense struggle and strain.
Carole R. Fontaine
This essay explores the socially restrictive traditions that cause scriptural groups to reject the idea of universal rights and equal access to economic, social and cultural rights. This hermeneutical situation is difficult to tolerate, as our multicultural planet is seeking survival. Ethical issues and the principles of a culture’s morality are often partly religious in nature. The UNDUHR recognizes the right to believe and to promote one’s own beliefs, and it considers these particular rights as being part of a cultural “right to affiliate.” Nevertheless, international human rights law has not successfully promoted full human rights in countries of “Religions of the Book.” The essay thus suggests that appeals to the Bible grounded in human rights must be woven into contextual exegetical work, human rights discourse, and feminist critique. Even so, for women, foreigners, and “Others,” the Bible will remain a serious obstacle for enjoying full economic, social, and cultural rights.
The nature of modern Bible study changed in or about September 1969 when the French Catholic Association for the Study of the Bible got the already renommé structuralist Roland Barthes to analyse Acts 10-11 (the conversion of Cornelius) for its Chantilly Congress. This introduction of those curious Catholic Biblicists to the new ways of handling texts that were burgeoning in the nouvelle vague of French (post)structuralism, or, as we would now say, of the Linguistic or Theoretical Turn in literary studies, was quickly followed by the two even more momentous evenings in February 1971 at the Faculté de Théologie of the University of Geneva when the nouveau critic Jean Starobinski offered ‘A Literary Analysis of Mark 5.1-20’ and Roland Barthes, now a neo-Biblicist mage, pulled out of his analytical hat his ‘Textual Analysis’ of Genesis 32:23–33, ‘The Struggle With the Angel’ — soon to be widely recognized as innovatively absorbing structuralist approaches into post-structuralist ones and highlighting a major way forward for biblical (and literary) studies. These tentative Biblicist dips into the Barthesian well of Theory dramatically opened the portal for the revolution in recent times in Biblicist hermeneutic practice, the great recent shaking of Biblicism to its established historicizing core, the door through which would rush the literary Theory and theories then muscling their way into the secular literary-critical world — the mixed postmodern bag, or coat of many postmodern colours, sheltering structuralists, Derridean deconstructionists, neo-Freudians, Konstanz School reader-responders, interpretive communitarians, and power-spotting Foucauldianized new-historicist/new-wave feminist/Queer-theorist/post-colonialist body-baggers.
Linda S. Schearing
In recent years much has been written about religion, gender, and video games. Indeed, video game worlds often give concrete expression to powerful mythic themes. The video game Bioshock is a good example. Using both feminist and reception criticism, this essay explores the role of Eve/woman in the video game series Bioshock. Bioshock is the story of Eden—a secular Eden gone terribly wrong. While the essay examines how the game uses the Genesis creation story, it focuses on the character of Eve. In the biblical text, Eve is named the “mother of all living” and in Bioshock, Eve is life in a literal sense. The game’s resulting objectification of Eve is extreme in its portrayal and interesting in its implications. It is a prime example of the intersection between virtual and actual reality, as it addresses issues of morality and gender.
Judith E. McKinlay
The essay takes as its cue the biblical figures of Eve and Wisdom, both of whom slip through the divine/human border. Eve brings knowledge of good and evil and Wisdom offers a concern for human ethical choices. For what characterizes feminist and postcolonial studies is the hope and ideal of a future of respect for all. A discussion of feminist postcolonial critical theory and current work in the field assesses that despite differing methodologies scholars share a concern for the ways in which women are represented and frequently “othered” in border-slipping texts. The study also considers a selection of biblical texts from a range of eras and political circumstances to illustrate these varying representations. The essay concludes with a reflection on the significance of the work and attempts to predict future directions.
Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza
Feminist biblical studieaas engage both wo/men and gender studies for their work, but the feminist analysis is not identical with and cannot be limited to gender studies. Rather, feminist biblical studies needs to focus on issues of power and structures of domination in light of wo/men’s struggles against kyriarchal relations. Accordingly, feminist biblical studies are social-cultural-political studies of domination, exploring how the Bible and biblical interpretation function and are shaped in the context of global kyriarchal neoliberalism. If the analytic object of feminist theory and biblical studies is not simply woman or gender in the Bible but the intersectionality of domination—of kyriarchy (from the Greek kyrios for “lord, master, legal guardian” and archein for “to rule, dominate”), the object needs to be understood in terms of the ontology of kyriarchal power. Kyriarchal relations of domination are characteristic of the ancient biblical worlds and are still at work today in the multiplicative intersectionalities of class, race, gender, ethnicity, empire, and other structures of exploitation. Hence, biblical interpretation must not only be practiced in terms of its content but also in terms of its function in global neo-liberalism, which is not only a theory of market relations but also a theory of human relations. We are encouraged to think not only of our work but also of our lives in economic terms in global neoliberal societies. These societies are characterized by xenophobic reactions against displaced populations and strangers, the threat of global warming, political polarization, unemployment, poverty, and centuries of exploitation, as well as by the devaluation of societal equality and democratic multiplicity.
Michael J. Gilmour
Few contemporary artists have endured so long, reinvented themselves so frequently and successfully (folk, rock, country, gospel music), and contributed in such diverse media (music, film, poetry, prose, sketches) as Bob Dylan. What is more, there may be no other artist of the 20th and 21st centuries with such an unusual list of significant honours: Grammy Awards; an Academy Award (2000); a Polar Music Prize (2000); a Kennedy Center Honour (1997); honorary doctorates (Princeton University; St Andrew's University); nominations for the Nobel Prize for Literature; and a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation (2008), among them. In addition to this impressive list, Bob Dylan's music and writing is often the subject of serious academic analysis from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including literary, cultural, religious, and music studies. This article argues that the use of the Bible in the songs and other art forms that comprise the Bob Dylan canon defies simplistic systematization and containment within categories. Dylan's art is idiosyncratic, involves constant blending and bending of his sources, and is often inconsistent; a biblical image or phrase used one way in one time and place may appear quite different in another.
James C. VanderKam
The work that is today called the Book of Enoch or 1 Enoch is actually a collection of ancient booklets written at different times by several authors, almost all of them composed in the Aramaic language. They all share the trait that Enoch is the speaker and/or protagonist. Though a book of Enoch was known and fairly widely used in antiquity, most of the text was lost to Western readers until copies of the Ethiopic translation of the book were brought from Abyssinia to Europe beginning in the late eighteenth century CE. This article describes the components, the textual evidence, and influential themes in 1 Enoch. It also considers the place of the book in Second Temple Judaism and evaluates the Enochic–Essene hypothesis.
This chapter discusses the complex literary growth (Redaktionsgeschichte) that lies behind Isa 1–66, with special focus on history of research. The most important contribution can be attributed to Bernhard Duhm, who proposed the three-part division of Isaiah into Proto-Isaiah, Deutero-Isaiah, and Trito-Isaiah. He had several forerunners in the eighteenth century. The great success of the idea of a tripartite authorship stems from Duhm’s conception of the prophet—the prophet was a rhetorical and religious genius. The second part of the chapter deals with the “Rediscovery of the Essential Unity of the Book.” One can speak of a paradigm shift, when the person of the prophet has been replaced by an interest in the book as a literary. There are two basic models for understanding the origin of the book. In the first model, Isa 1–39 and 40–55 are traced back to two, initially independently transmitted, literary works. According to the second model, Isa 40–55 is a literary continuation of Isa 1–39, making it necessary to dismiss the notion of an autonomous Deutero-Isaiah. Two conclusions can be drawn from the history of research: (a) the person of the prophet can no longer serve as an appropriate point of departure for analysis, and (b) redaction-critical analysis of Isa 1–39 must always proceed with attention to the whole book of Isaiah.
This chapter examines the structure of the book of Isaiah. It argues that the parts of the book have been organized into a meaningful whole for the ancient reader. In part, this has been accomplished by means of a narrative structure that runs through the first half of the book (Isa 1–39). This structure recounts the past days of the prophet and culminates with the account of Hezekiah. On the principle that the past portends the future, this account of the past has been made the key to understanding that future as foreseen in the second half of the book (Isa 40–66).
The chapter discusses topics that scholars have associated with the Persian context of the book of Isaiah, such as Cyrus, creation, monotheism, and universalism. Common to these topics is that they relate to Achaemenid imperial ideology in one way or another. Moreover, a Hellenistic context has been identified for texts that are thought to offer current historical allusions or that are related to literary features associated with what is labeled proto-apocalyptic. A fundamental challenge, which exists throughout the discussion of the historical background of prophetic discourse, is that scholars tend to historicize the poetry and metaphors—namely, to blend the world in the text with constructions of what is regarded as the historical and social background of the text.