I have a link to a new site under the Egyptology section–Bad Bird: Egyptology for the Little Guy.Â So far it has a good set of Egyptology links and a guide to some books that are important for Egyptological studies.
I stumbled upon a book that seems really interesting to me: Lâ€™aventure de lâ€™alphabet, les Ã©critures cursives et linÃ©aires du Proche-Orient et dâ€™Europe du sud-est Ã lâ€™Ã¢ge de bronze, XI by Hubert La-Marle.
Before I purchase it I would like to see how deeply this volume treats this subject and the quality of the images (if any) of the alphabets. So, I checked the catalog of Hebrew Union College’s library and they didn’t have it. Then, I searched WorldCat to see how many libraries in North America have this volume–only ONE showed up in the search: Universite Laval Bibliotheque in Quebec. I’d say that I have some niche interests.
I’ve added a new section to the list of links on the right side of the page.Â I have provided a list of publishers that are particularly helpful for Bible and ancient Near East studies.Â Enjoy.
I am reading James Kugel’s new book, How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture Then and Now, and overall it is a very good book and I have enjoyed it quite a bit. I haven’t yet reached his conclusions–I am trying to read through the material in the way in which he intended to present it, that is, I’m not skipping to the end. At the beginning of the book he surveys the assumptions with which the ancient and modern interpreters approach the Bible. Then, he works methodically through the Hebrew Bible showing how the ancient and modern interpretations are often at odds.
Most of the time his treatments are good and fairly well supported, however, it is not infrequent that I find him presenting what I believe is a less than fully accurate picture. For instance, in his discussion of the Psalms he stresses the fact that ancient interpreters believed that David wrote the Psalter while modern scholars do not believe this. He points out that about half of the Psalms include the superscription ledawid “to/of David” but he does not mention other superscriptions that mention people such as Asaph (459-60) and he doesn’t discuss the implications of psalms without headings.
Furthermore, right after this section he presents Psalm 137 as evidence that David did not write the Psalter (460). Psalm 137 refers to the “rivers of Babylon” and mentions Israel’s captors and says, “How could we sing a song of the LORD’s in a foreign land?” This makes modern scholars think that Psalm 137 probably had an exilic or post-exilic origin. However, no where does Kugel mention that Psalm 137 does not have a superscription, much less that it never attributes its origin to David. It does not seem to me that the Psalter presents itself as an exclusively davidic product and when modern scholars affirm this fact it should not be “upsetting” as Kugel asserts (467).
I think that Kugel sometimes presents a less than complete discussion in his desire to show a sharp contrast between ancient and modern interpretations. It is true that there are in many cases radical differences between ancient and modern views upon a biblical text, however, there are also many occasions in which these views are much closer than modern scholars might think–in many instances the Rabbis saw the same phenomena that modern scholars gleefully point out. Kugel is right to illustrate some of the genuine divergences in interpretations, however, there is no need to create a sharper contrast than the data suggest.
Brill had a sale on some books a few weeks ago and my order just arrived. Here’s what I got:
Family Religion in Babylonia, Syria, and Israel: Continuity and Change in the Forms of Religious Life, Brill, 1996.
I think Karel van der Toorn is one of the best scholars around that uses data from the ancient Near East to illuminate and broaden our understanding of the Bible. I read everything from him that I can get my hands on.
The Amarna Scholarly Tablets
Cuneiform Monographs – CM 9
by Shlomo Izre’el
Styx Publications, 1997
172 pages, English
List Price: $75.00
Your Price: $71.25
The Amarna tablets are among the most fascinating material that relates to the culture of the Levant.
Birth in Babylonia and in the Bible
Its Mediterranean Setting
Cuneiform Monographs – CM 14
by Marten Stol
Styx Publications, 2000
x + 276 pages, English
List Price: $77.00
Your Price: $73.15
This book looks really interesting. I haven’t looked through it thoroughly, but by a look at the table of contents it doesn’t appear that this book spends many pages explicitly talking about birth in the Bible. It is, however, a gold mine of information concerning birth in Mesopotamia–including the superstitions and texts surrounding birth.
In March I wrote a post in which I questioned the efficacy of a congressional plan to help ease the financial burden of rising tuition prices for higher education.Â In January I questioned the Democratic plan to half the interest rate on government subsidized loans.Â In this post I stated that I did not think this would lower tuition rates since students likely spend much of their borrowed money on a cushy lifestyle.Â Some called me pessimistic, but now I have proof (well, maybe I had better say correlation–its possible that this observed correlation does not really imply causality).
According to a NYT piece: “Last year, tuition and fees at public institutions rose 5.7 percent; at private ones, 6.3 percent and at public two-year institutions, 3.8 percent.”
Even though tuition prices rose almost twice as fast as inflation, student borrowing rose almost three times as fast–8% according to the Project on Student Debt.
Why this discrepancy?Â Well, Apple posted a huge surge in earnings fueled in large part by students borrowing money to purchase iPods and Macs.
Lowering interest rates on student debt will only enable students to purchase more iPods, 7 jeans, and posh dorms and apartments.Â In other words, lowering interest rates on student loans is a subsidy for Apple and the like.Â We need other ideas that will actually work to contain tuition costs than make money even more available to college students.Â But at the end of the day there is not much that regulators can do when money is cheap and there is a lack of fear in the marketplace.Â Students must first realize the risk of carrying high debt levels before tuition prices will stabilize.Â Until then, watch them keep rising.
Two new books came in the mail last week. While I have not had a chance to thoroughly go through them, I have quickly read certain sections and both of these books appear to be very valuable contributions to the field.
The first book that I received was Rick Hess’ Israelite Religion. Hess consistently produces quality writings and this is no exception. In this volume he discusses Israelite religion as represented in the Bible and also in relation to the religions of the surrounding cultures. One thing that I particularly value in Hess’ work is his tendency to introduce his readers to all the relevant primary sources related to the topic at hand.
An Archaeological and Biblical Survey
by Richard S. Hess
Baker Academic, 2007
432 pages, English
Cloth, 6 x 9
List Price: $34.99
Your Price: $26.24
The second book that came in was Florilegium marianum IX: Les Musiciens et la musique d’apres le archives de Mari by Nele Ziegler. This volume presents introductions and texts related to music at Mari. The focus of the treatment are the various officials and titles related to music. As is usual for this series, texts appear in the forms of photographs, transcription, and French translation. In addition to texts, pictures and discussions of material culture, such as figurines of musicians, are also included.
I’m looking forward to looking at both of these volumes more closely.
I was looking through some auctions at Christie’s and I did a double-take.Â I saw that they were auctioning off a collection that belonged to W.A. Criswell.Â (Here is a wikipedia entry on Criswell if you are not familiar with him).Â Here is Christie’s description the collection:
19th Century Meissen
The Collection of Dr. W.A. Criswell
Sold to Benefit Criswell College
Sold tax exempt and with no reserve
25 October 2007, 10:00 am
20 Rockefeller Plaza, New York
This collection of 19th Century porcelain features over 300 intricately detailed Meissen figures and flower-encrusted wares, including models rarely seen at auction.
Dr. W.A. Criswell was the renowned pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas for over fifty years and the founder of Criswell College. In keeping with Dr. Criswell’s wishes, the entire collection will be sold with no reserve and all proceeds will endow the W.A. Criswell Foundation which funds Criswell College, an institution founded by Dr. Criswell to educate pastors, missionaries and Christian workers.
I never expected that parts of Criswell’s estate would be auctioned by Christie’s at their Rockefeller Plaza location!Â I won’t be one of the bidders; this stuff really isn’t my style by a long shot.
Jewish Theological Seminary has provided free electronic versions of articles appearing in the Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society.