Corrections and Suggestions for Ken Davis textbook

[contact made in late October, initial list sent (see below)]

0. Probable typos

98 (consistent lang) not Koran but Quran (466)
115top -- non sentence
164 (typo) "may have been written"
175 split infinitive
210 (typo) Lamentationes Jeremiae (not Jeromiae)
216 (typo) Jehoiachin (not -chan)
256 split infinitive
307 Honan or Hunan China?
320 (typo) "These differences"
320 (lang) "Judea" not "Judah"
351 typo "set of gods" (not god)
374 (typo) omit one opens
421 (typo?) Lets put ON a show?

1. Errors of fact and inconsistencies

5 "woven" -- no, "pressed"
5 "4000 years old" books -- no, possibly 3000 or so for some sections
30a Greek not a dying language in 313 (EDICT OF TOLERATION in 311?)
31 codex not an innovation of Christians
42 (and 43b) "Adam" not mentioned in Gen 1? (misleading)
45 Adam is derived" from Heb for man -- misleading
47 4000 year figure for creation account impossible
48 Pope John Paul II never recognized Darwin's theory as valid
99 Moses is placed and found "in the reeds," not floating down the river
103 only lamb's blood (not goat's) was specified at passover
125 not 4000 years ago; more than 3,000 ?
194 inconsistant on death date for Solomon (925? 922?)
215 (see 195) inconsistent on date of Solomon's death (928 twice !)
233 death of Jeremiah probably after 580 (OAB), not in 587
244 clarify Aramaic as a dialect, nuance its rel to Hebrew, correct
info on what bibl materials are in Aramaic
253 no "Syrian" empire defeated
277 Ps 13 is NIV not KJV
279 Ps 27 is unidentified transl, between ESV and NASB
279f Ps 42 is NIV not KJV ("hart" not "deer" in KJV Ps 42)
287 "rabbi" anachronism, occasion to mention Sirach
307 "Marduk" is not found in bible, Evil-Merodach is (2 K 25.27, Jer 50.2)
309 at 167 -- (nuance) Syria(n) but Greek; and did Antiochus "outlaw"
Judaism? (see also 314 "eradicate" terminology)
320b not "heal" Sarah, but free her from demonic power
323 correct claims about 1-4 Macc! and say something about 3 Macc!
324 correct info on "2 Esdras" (4 Ezra)
329 correct ref to "Turkish Jew" (Paul!)
330 correct "200 centuries" (read 20)
330 correct Aramaic as Syriac (lang of Jesus)
333 on "conversion" of Constantine in 313 (why not 311 ?)
333 correct chronolog. rel. of NT epistles to gospels
335 TaNaKh not written over a period of 1000 years
335 date for NT writings (not 60-110)
336 Josephus dates (to after 100)
337 on number of NT MSS "thousands ... of fairly early NT docs"
337 correct statement about extra-canonicals and Q
338 confusion of Marcion and Montanus on women leaders
346 at 4 bce -- Herod's kingdom more than Judea
351 magi were astrologers, not magicians
351 check: was Saturnalia orgiastic?
351 "paganism" is not a term for the Roman empire's state religion!
352 calendar based on founding of Rome in 753 bc ??
357 (error) should read Hosea, not Numbers
366 Luke's youthful Jesus meets with sages in the Temple (not outside)
367 same repeated
370 (error) John, not Mark, has Nathaniel story (as on next page)
383 (error) not Greek, but Aramaic or semitic
384 (error) the Lazarus story is in John, not Luke (see 385 top)
409 (error) crucifixion not exclusive to Romans
416 at 41 CE (error) Caligula reigns only 4-5 years (not 11)
416 at 54 Claudius was allegedly murdered by Agrippina (not clear)
417 at 68 when did Caesar's dynasty start? 48 bce? (not 60 bce)
425 Matthias in Acts 1 is not described as "young"
426 who stones Stephen? the council that tries him? (not "a mob")
427b why did Paul persecute Christians? (is "blasphemy" mentioned?)
429 (error) Acts does not describe Paul as writing letters!
442 (error) it is not generally thought that Paul wrote 2 Thess
452b James: meaning of ref to authorized NT in 2nd c
453 James: (check) Luther's attitude to book, ripped it out?!
455 1-2 Peter: treat separately (errors)
461 clarify/correct reason for author's exile, 2nd coming language
461 (error) Nero to Domition is 30 years, not 20
461 check details about Nero's extravagences?
462 dates of Tacitus usually c 55 - c 117/120 (wrote ca 115)
465 at 177 (error) too late for start of persecution
465 at 303-311 (error) years for Diocletian, ref to old religion (singular)
465 at 312 (error?) when does Constantine hear the voice
492 bible: (error) biblia is not Latin but Greek
492 bible: traditional Hebrew numbers 22 (not 24)

1a Queries (possible errors)

71 check -- did Cyrus Gordon really put Abram around 1385?
85 was Dinah the only dau of Jacob (traditionally)?
105 check dates of Ramses II and Mereneptah
118 NYC as "sin city"? also Las Vegas! ok -- not misleading
141 check -- occurrence of "golden rule" in Lev (add Tobit?)
161 (& 173) what tradition has Samuel as author of Judges?
178 check -- what is evidence for Libyan penis counting?
183 check (s) -- did David see Bathsheba on rooftop?
187 check on ascription of Kings to Jeremiah
192 check on Temple in "Phoenician or Canaanite" style?
216 check on events of 538 (actual return?)
271 check when Satan and serpent come to be linked
303 check -- when was Tammuz worshipped in Jerus Temple?
308 check on details of Peloponnesian Wars (Athens vs Sparta?)
324 check details regarding Rome, Pompey and Jerusalsm "capture"
325 check Herod the Great as tetrarch?
335 check detail on demise of Alex libr
381 check -- did Carter say "many times"?
388 check -- about 30 parables of Jesus?
403 check ref to no women at passover meals
493 easter: problematic derivation

2. Clarifications needed/recommended


3. Suggestions and sophistications

- use of "faith" language to mean "religion"
- treatment of YHWH/LORD throughout

4. Neglected important subjects

- Eschatology


> Dear Mr. Kraft: A friend sent me a copy of your very kind words about my
> book, Don't Know Much About the Bible. FYI. It is available in paperback from
> Harper Perennial and is sold on Amazon as well as most local bookstores. I
> wish you well. Warm regards, Ken Davis

Date: Thu, 24 Oct 2002 10:28:50 -0400 (EDT)
Cc: (Robert Kraft)

How very nice to hear from you! Are you interested in any corrections, oversights, etc., that we might offer on working through the book, or is it pretty much an archived item from your past? I'm pretty much a pedant, which is sometimes good -- e.g. Aramaic is not "a Syrian language" (p.12 of my edition), indeed "Syriac" is a form of Aramaic, and both Hebrew and Aramaic-Syriac are classed as "Semitic" languages, so you could say "a Semitic language." "Syrian" is usually a geographical or ethnic designation, while "Syriac" would be linguistic.

Told you I was a pedant!


Subject: Re: Dont know much about the bible
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2002 01:34:17 -0400 (EDT)
Cc: (Robert Kraft)

> Please fire away. I am foremost interested in accuracy as well as
> accessibility. We can always correct for future paperback editions as the
> book has become what publishers like to call "backlist." And I am a complete
> (closet) pedant myself. Thanks again, Ken Davis

OK. Here are my marginal notes on the first 30 pages or so. I haven't yet read the rest as closely, but will do so as we move towards the next term, when I'll use the book again in class.

p.[xi] it would be useful to inform students that the lyrics from "It Ain't Necessarily So" are part of Porgy & Bess -- that might make a better connection, or maybe not!

p.5 top paragraph: papyri strips are not actually "woven together," although it might look that way, but pressed together, one layer going horizontal and a vertical layer on top of it.

p.5 middle paragraph: none of the "books" of the Bible are "four thousand years old." Some of the traditions might be that old, but that's quite another matter.

p.10 bottom: the paragraph on Jesus and the "Bible" is quite simplistic and misleading. We have no idea, historically speaking, what sort of a "Jewish boy" Joshua/Jesus might have been, or what sort of scriptures would have been available to him. It is not helpful to say, without some explanation about scrolls and codices (see p.31 top), that "books didn't exist." Of course they did, as individual scrolls. Since I'm picking both big and little nits, the reference to "rabbis" in the last line is probably borderline anachronistic. The rise of "rabbis" as a category of religious leaders is normally dated after the fall of the Temple in 70 ce, although the term "rabbi" could, of course, be used more loosely before that.

p.12 new paragraph: I've already commented on the use of "Syrian" here -- best to substitute "Semitic."

p.15 bottom: I don't understand what you mean by the OT/HB "exists in a variety of forms, all reflecting different translations over the past few centuries." I suspect that you wanted to address textcritical problems (variations between different copies, etc.), but this is not a matter of "translations" (except to the extent that textual variants are sometimes conjectured on the basis of Greek and other ancient translations).

p.28 bottom: reference to "a complete translation of Hebrew scripture" (better, "scriptures" in the plural) is misleading, since the Greek version to which you refer covered only the Pentateuch. Other translations of other scriptural books/scrolls followed in the next couple of centuries, at various times and places. As you correctly said earlier, there was no "Bible" in our sense of an exclusive collection in this period.

p.30 new paragraph: where in the world did you get the impression that at the time of Constantine, "Greek was a dying language"? This was the start of an extensive period of Greek Christian literature flowing over into the "Byzantine" (=Rome, East) period and beyond. Latin was also flourishing in the western Roman empire, but hardly replaced Greek.

p.31 end of top section: codices were known and used in the Greco-Roman world prior to their growth of popularity among Christians, so it would be less misleading to say something to the effect that "the use of codex-books was popularized by the early Christians." (Some of my most recent research attempts to argue that early Christians probably learned the use of the codex-book from their Jewish heritage, which gave them copies of Greek Jewish scriptures as well.)

That's all for now. I hope this is useful.

Complete list as of 21 January 2003:

3 clarify ref to YHWH!
10 Jesus could cite scriptures by heart? -- we cannot know
12 "Syrian" language -- misleading, better "Semitic"
15 "variety of forms" -- clarify! versions?
26 is "habiru" an Egyptian word?
28b LXX = Pentateuch only
33 at 250-100 -- nuance? mainly Pentateuch, then others
33 at 100 -- nuance; earliest surviving biblical MSS?
33 at 90 CE -- "canonization"?
40 and passim -- use of "faith" for any religion, esp Judaism
40 on folklore tales (nuance)
41 and passim (nuance) use of "God" and "Lord" (why not "deity")
41 "nothingness" (nuance) nowhere?
41 "the office" (s) the foundry?
43 (see above 41) use exact divine names, esp LORD not Lord
add discussion of tetragrammaton somewhere
45 Baal -- add means Lord?
47 "science and faith" (religion)
47 ref to Julian calendar year of 710 is cryptic
48 (nuance) -- age of biblical criticism rel to Darwin
49 (s) include creation story in comp lit.
50 (s) science and the soul
51 (s) "starting again from scratch"?
52 (s) why "everlasting" for tree of life?
56 (s) Betty Crocker analogy is weak
57 (s) refer to Oklahoma on shepherds and farmers?
62 (s) why use "myth" here
63 (s) refer to History channel for current stories?
68 (s) add ref to 360 degrees?
69 (s) what is point of ref to descent from Adam? it's obvious
69 (s) comment on "name LORD"?
70 (s) add comment on meaning of Hebrew = Abraham
72 (s) add ref to other copies of code of Hammurabi?
73 (s) comment on Heb word for "angel"?
75 (clarify/nuance) is sex really "sin" for ancient Israel
76 (clarify) rel of Ab's agreement with Lot and "promised land" ideas
76 (add) tarring boats as well?
78 (s) ref to historicization?
78 (s) "offered" to God
79b clarify "also" for Ishmael's 12 sons
80 (lang) Philistines not usually called a "tribe" (group?)
81 (s) refer to "romance" tradition
82b (s) add ref to Ishmael
84 (lang) Jacob's "ruse" (better "tactic")
85 (accuracy) Noth is normally noted for this theory
85 and passim (style) parens before period
86 (clarify) "lay in pain"? -- recuperating
87 (s) "long robe with sleeves" is also an interpretation
88 (lang) Tamar's "lovers" were more accurately "partners" or "mates"
89 (lang) Hebrew storytellers didn't strictly "compose" bible
90 (lang) Joseph's "ability" actually "reputation" recognized
91 clarify compositional claims
91 clarify status of "slaves" language
91 add specific dates (1660-1550)
92 (lang) forgiveness as "the" great theme?
92 (lang) not "man," but "people"?
92 at 150,000 -- location?
94 end (again) -- explain YHWH!
97 (s) fate of ark is "never discussed" -- not mentioned!
97 (nuance) "migrations and settlements"
98 (lang) "Jewish" babies (Hebrew!)
98 (s) coverups in Egypt hist -- Hyksos, Amenotep
98 (clarify) naming of Heb books by opening words
99 (s) survival of other Heb youth?
100 (word order) move "in the Sinai" earlier
100 (lang accuracy) "God of your fathers"?
101 (clarify) statement on circumcision
102 (update) anthrax note
104 (lang) story tellers not writers?
104 (s) give Herodotus date (see 174 below)
105 (s) add ref to Hyksos as probably from Turkey, too
107 mention Copenhagen school position?
107 (lang) use of "spiritually"?!
107 (clarify) date of Mereneptah's stele
112 numbering of commandments in Xn circles?
114 (clarify) "Authorized Version" not explained (see p. 4), and how does
it "change the order" of the Hebrew commandments?
115 monotheism (s) why nothing on Amenhotep?
117 top seems out of place
117 "G-- ---- -t" is more understandable
117 (clarify) why not say "name of God"?!
118 (clarify) needs transition re sabbath
119 and passim -- refer to Seleucids as Greek, not "Syrian"
121 (update) refer to 9/11 also?
126 (lang) woman the same as slave? too dramatic
126 clarify lex talionis rel to 10 commands (note survival in Islam?)
133 (nuance) add "or editor"
133b (lang) add "probably"
134 (lang) why call kosher a Yiddish word
135 (lang) clarify kosher foods
136 (s) include "mixed" in discussion
139 (lang) why call Balaam a "magician" oe "wizard"?
140 (s) add Phineas story
143 and passim -- note what translation is being used
149b identify dates of "late bronze"
151 (s) comment on "walls of Jerico" arch discussion
152 (s) elaborate on herem rules?
152 (lang) add "recent" re Nazis
153 (lang) add "inferior" to "immoral"
153b (lang) ref to "Israel" should be "Canaan"
154 (location) why here? might be more effective earlier
163 (s) add ref to Judith as a Jewish Joan of Arc
163 (lang) details differ, not change.
164 (s) read whatever for whoever?
167 clarify who is Samson's wife
168 (s) add "stranger and gorier"
168b (s) better, it is discussed here (not placed)
169b (s) refer to Tamar story?
170 (lang) Israelite, not Israeli
170b (clarify) foreign wives who join Israel!
173 (nuance) better "scripture collection" than "canon"
175 (s) "wrote and edited"
178 (s) refer to scalping by American Indians
183 (s) again, mention herem restrictions
184 (s) add detail of death of Absalom
184b (s) add "of later Roman infamy" (Nero)
188 (s) add mention of Abraham & Keturah
202 inadequately nuanced
203 add ref to Nazi "cleansing" (as above)
207 (nuance) change ref to the "original order" of Heb scriptures
207 last line, add almost
211 passim (poetic format)
212 (nuance) ref to "messiah" anachronistic
215 no disclaimer
216 on 621 mention "draconian"
220 (s) perhaps the 12 briefer prophets?
220 disclaimer needed -- also discussion of parallelism?
221 (s) add "more optimistic"
223/227 (s) clarity on Isaiah sections, dates
226 (nuance) is Greek "virgin" actually "errant"
231 (nuance) modern meaning of "gentile"?
233 (lang) why "Israel and Judah" by now?
241 anachronistic ref to "scriptural canon" and to "rabbis"
242 clarify ref to "Jewish Law" (not biblical)
247 nuance Jewish variety on eschatology etc.
247f disclaimer needed, addition of Deutero-Isaiah
249 (lang) why ref to "Israel" (twice)
253 (lang) anachronistic re messianic
255 why "appendixes"?
257 why "theologians"?
258 add ref to Acts?
267 (lang) "righteous must suffer"?
267b clarify Satan Hebrew meaning
271 and passim (lang) use of "Israel" terminology
271f quote assumes order of biblical books (anachronistic)
275 on Psalter, rel to Davidic authorship, systems of numbering?
276 occasion to mention DSS hymns, psalms
278 (s) could mention gender awareness in translation
287 again, DSS relationship deserves mention
298 (nuance) read "Palestine and Persia" conquered in 332? (so also 308)
300b specifics on editing?
303 (lang) could be clearer on "nard"
306 (nuance) add "special" to translational difficulties
306f on identification of black and evil
307 clarify issue of skin color!
307 disclaimer
308 to 399 add "poison" before "hemlock"?
308 at 344 (detail) -- Aristotle a student of Philo
308 mention Alex in Palestine, death of Aristotle?
309 at 255 translation of Pent (see also earlier)
313 (lang) transpose "both these stories are"
313 (again) clarify rel of Seleucids to Gk, and to Mesopotamia
314 (nuance) either/or approach to names, culture, etc.
314 (s) perhaps include ref to 1-2 Macc here
316 (nuance) clarify Gk basis of both Seleucids and Ptolemies
316 (s) say more about lit features of Daniel (Aramaic, mixtures)
319 (nuance) apocryphal books, LXX
320 (nuance) ref to canonical books
320 (precision) Hebrew and Aramaic Tobit
321 add "or" to Judith date
321 (nuance) why Judith is not in canon
321 under Esther, not LXX proper
322 consistency on location in RC bibles for Sirach, etc.
322 Baruch (nuance) relation of Baruch to Jeremiah
322 (nuance) rel of Baruch to Ep Jer, etc.
322f (nuance) adds to Daniel
324 nuance treatment of Ps 151, now in DSS, etc.
325 nuance info on Rome
331 (lang) not "crucifix" but "cross"
331 on meaning of Christos (nuance)
331 rel of Jesus teachings to Jewish trads
332 etymol of gospel (spiel?)
332 nuance rel of Mt and Lk on birth
332 nuance position of G.Jn on birth (does not mention)
334 clarify idea of millennium(s) in Apocalypse
335 clarify lang and lit situation in Roman empire
336 nuance -- by non-Xn authors (refs to Jesus)
336 "second coming" lang
338 (precision) Athanasius was bishop (not just leader)
339 (nuance) add Jewish before authorities
340 name of author of G.Mark?
340 add Galilee focus in Matt's birth stories
341 add Jerus focus in Lk's special material
341 scholars and eyewittness feeling of G.Jn?
343b nuance Nag Hammadi refs
344 (lang) use of "sect" language
346 add Pilate to list
351 questionable that Dec 25 is to win sun worshippers
352 and passim, Jesus, not Christ
354 (s) drop final sentence of last full paragraph
358 (s) add "according to Matthew"
358b (error?) read conception not birth
359 (s) include ref to Philo, who sees Sarah as virgin?
359 (anachron) don't use "Mother of God" here (see below p. 361)
361 (confusion) not a mistranslation, only ambiguous
363 (bad translation in NJB?) "as it rose" for "in the east"!
365 (s) add word on problematic historicity
367 (nuance) Essenes lived at Qumran, etc.
367 (s) add ref to eschatological outlook
368 (nuance) descent of dove at baptism
368 (s) clarify the teaching of John baptist
368 (s) clarify Josephus ref to Salome?
369 (s) clarify Josephus on death of John baptist and Jesus
371 (s) add (Peter) after Simon?
371 (s) add that Acts also lists the 12
371 (s) clarify name James
372 (s) give Thomas' name as Judas
372 (s) clarify Thaddeus // Judas
374 (s) add "total"
375 why here? better as an appendix
382 (s) perhaps better "this turned out to be a metaphorical sword"
385 clarify espousal?
385b clarify women's rights
386 clarify the textual situation for John 8.1-10
387 (nuance) when did Samaritanism begin?
387 (nuance) too strong an analogy to terrorism
389 fig tree -- is this a parable?
393t clarify "rabbinic" and tradition
393 (s) mention also Jesus on kingdom
394 clarify Essenes, and diaspora Judaism
395 (s) add section on Jesus' message!
395 nuance the 3 year ministry claim
396 add "below"
402 (nuance) add time ref
403 (s) add cross reference
404 (add) Eucharist + liturgy
409b (clarify) nail through feet or ankle
410 (precision) add ref to John's account
411 (add) ref to GPeter account
411 (nuance) ref to one angel at the tomb
412 (add) make explicit the location problem
412 (clarify) long ending of Mark as evidence
413 (nuance) ref to early Xns as "thinkers"!
413 (nuance) words attributed to Jesus (not of Jesus)
413b (nuance) said in the NT by and about Jesus
415 (query) who is Bailey Smith?
416 (s) expand on Jesus K of G message!
417 at 54/58 (add) when were Gal/Rom written?
417 (add) deaths of Paul and Peter?
417 at 79 (clarify) location of Vesuvius, destruction of Pompeii, Hercul.
417 at 79 add Titus as emperor
421 (add) ref to 40 days
422 (nuance) Paul's rel to Judaism, etc.
422 (nuance) "council" in 49
422 (clarify) date of Paul's death?
424 (clarify) born again through HS (not "in")
427 clarify description and significance of Paul
428 (nuance) use of designation "Christian" as Paul's target
429 (clarify) Paul's message
429 (soften?) description of Nero
430 (s) mention the quo vadis story
430 (s) mention eastern orthodoxy?
435 (s) add "that have survived" (in add to LXX/OG)
435 (clarify) Paul frequently cited Gk Jewish scrs, occasionally Jesus
435 last line, clarify
436 Romans: when written? when did Nero's persecutions begin?
436 Romans: eschatological dimension of Paul's message
437 1-2 Cor: mention seaport?
437 clarify how many writings to Cor
438 (add) new creation type passage!
439 Galatians: clarify circumcision language
439 (s) add crucified with Jesus passage?
440 (s) mention possibility of Eph imprisonment
441 clarify gnosticism
442 (nuance) ref to 2nd coming?
442 Philemon: again, note eschatol views
447 (nuance) "bishops" not used in Paul's time?
447 (clarify) when were pastorals written
447 (clarify) add "Pauline"
447 (s) add criterion of "the faith"
451 (nuance) language about recips of Hebs
451 (clarify) Paul mentioned in title of Hebs
453 James: nuances on works language
454 ref to 2nd coming
455 on Babylon = Rome (nuance)
456 3 John: add ref to church leadership
457 Jude: clarify treatment of name
461 nuance of "sins of the world"
461 (s) add ref to Blake
461 clarify chronology
461 (nuances) worship of emperor?
464 (add) revolt in 115-117
465 mention Bar Kochba and Aelia Capitolina
465 at 200 clarify west/east on pope
465 at 250 (add) schism caused
465 at 325 (nuance) use of "substance"
465 (add) Julian
465 at 395 clarify language uses, etc.
466 at 431 clarify language re cult of virgin
466 at 610 clarify Muhammad and Quran
466 at 632 clarify details of Muslim history
469 (s) introduce term aetiology
472 (s) nuance "faith" discussion
472 (clarify) claim that we know what Jesus said!
477 (clarify) numbering of 10 commandments
481 KJV LORD...LORD (also JPS?)
491 apocrypha: clarify and nuance (esp in view of 494 OT)
491 apostle: confusing on rel to disciples
492 bible: add ref to "apocrypha" specifically
493 evangelist: add ref to Gk word
493 add eschatology
493 exile: give dates
493 gospel: gud spiel?
494 mishnah: add nuances, oral law
494 post-exilic: give date
494 rabbi: clarify
495 LXX: clarify
495 talmud: clarify and supplement
495 testament: clarify
495 YHWH: clarify and expand
499 add Ginzberg Legends
501 add Kramer, History Begins at Sumer
Index: add glossary terms!