Religious Studies 015 English Bible (Robert Kraft)
Class Notes, week #9, 18-20 March 2003
by James Hoyt & James Stith [edited by "K"]


-A godless book=doesn't mention God
-Origin story for Purim
-Set in time of Persian empire.
-Story of heroine who saves people from a genocidal plot
-Early Rabbis debated over whether or not it should become part of the bible
-No god, prayers, laws, or mention of Jerusalem in the book
-"Cum grano salis" = with a grain of salt, the account of great numbers being killed
-most scholars don't think its historical, but rather an elaboration of some event
-written post-200 by an anonymous author
-hermeneutics and the linkage with Purim assisted Esther to be included in the bible
, but it hasn't yet been found among the dead sea scrolls

-today is prof. Kraft's b'day, he looks 25 [blessings on you, brave young men!]

-Tobit: set in Persian period. Name of both father and son in book. The son is sent east to find a woman to marry, but she has already been married 7 times before. Groom is killed by demon on wedding night every time. Tobias has an anti-demon potion that he received from his guardian angel that he uses.
-Judith: seduces opposing general and cuts off his head. Book appears to be full of anachronisms.
-Esther additions: found in Catholic and Greek/Eastern Orthodox, but not Jewish or Protestant bibles.
-Daniel additions: (1) hymn of praise in the furnace. (2) Susannah is saved by her lawyer, Daniel, to prove her innocence in a rape case. (3)Daniel defeats Babylonian idols by sprinkling flour on a temple floor to show that they do not eat the sacrificial food, but rather that the priests do.
-1-2 Macabees: origins of Hannuka/Chanukah. Greek Seleucid ruler from Antioch (in Syria) who imposes laws on Jews that rebel. Antiochus (IV) Epiphanies tries to force the Jews to eat "impure" food, which leads to Jews gaining independence in Palestine for a century (165 BCE-63 BCE [Roman annexation]), after successful Jewish rebellion. These books of the Macabees are not in Jewish bible perhaps because they were preserved in Greek, not Hebrew.
- 3 Macabees is unrelated to the Maccabees, and involves Jewish deliverance from persecution in Alexandria, including a stampede of drunken elephants. It is not in the Eastern Orthodox (Greek) bible, but not in the Latin.
- 4 Macabees also is in Eastern Orthodox (Greek), but not Catholic (Latin) bible -- the "vulgate" version produced by Jerome around 400 CE. In 4 Macabees, a woman and her 7 sons -- "the Maccabean martyrs" -- are killed for refusing to eat impure foods, becomes essay on superiority of right reason (reports in very gruesome terms).
-Sirach: similar to Proverbs. Deals with ideals of society. Marginal book, survived in Hebrew and quoted by Rabbis in Talmud. Thus perhaps quasi-canonical in some Jewish circles. Grandson of author translated it from Hebrew to Greek, and adds his preface to book. Extensive Hebrew fragments found among dead sea scrolls, but not complete Hebrew text.
-Wisdom of Solomon: is attributed to Solomon, but clearly connected to Greek sources. Has passages similar to suffering servant of Isaiah and talks about justice in society and the just man (later viewed as a prediction of Jesus).
-Psalm 151: is only in Catholic and Eastern Orthodox bible, talks about David as a young man who kills Goliath. Now found in Hebrew in dead sea scrolls.
-Letter of Jeremiah: is a prayer to god, set in Chaldea/Babylon period.
-Baruch: ascribed to Jeremiah's scribe; first part parallels the story in Samuel/Kings; then poetic praise of Torah.
-Prayer of Manaseh: evil king of Judah, prayer of repentance (not preserved in Greek).
-4 Ezra: aka "2 Esdras", reference to idea of dying Messiah (ch 7). Preserved in Latin. Ezra and other scribes are commissioned by God to restore the holy books destroyed when the Temple was burned.


Apocrypha take us to about 165 BCE -- no biblical accounts then until New Testament times
Persian Period -- 538 BCE (Cyrus) to about 330 BCE (Alexander the Great)
Greek Period -- from about 330 BCE to Roman arrival in 63 BCE (for Palestine)
Seleucid Empire -- Greek Syria (Antioch as capital)
Ptolemaic Empire -- Greek Egypt (Alexandria as capital)
Roman general Pompey -- defeated Hasmonean/Maccabean rulers in 63 BCE, Judea as province of Rome
Christianity -- no evidence of use of Latin until around 150 CE; Greek spoken a lot in Rome, so the religion could still thrive in Greek forms.

Latin Vulgate translation -- about 400 CE, produced by Jerome (Hieronymus in Latin!)
-before this, there were many Latin translations of parts of scripture, which undermined unity of the recently legalized, legitimized Christian Church (under Constantine)
-these older Latin versions were based on Greek translations -- referred to collectively as the Septuagint or LXX (supposedly made by 70/72 translators of the Pentateuch!) or better, LXX/OG (Pentateuch plus other Old Greek versions)
-Jerome reverts to the (Aramaic and) Hebrew texts from which the Greek (and thence the old Latin) translations were made, thus producing a new standard version of TaNaKh (replacing the old Latin translations); but for the Apocrypha and New Testament, he basically revises the extant Greek since there is no Hebrew.
-not long before the Latin Vulgate appeared, the large sized codex was developed, thus "THE" Bible as a single book could be produced and imagined.
-325 CE Council of Nicea convened with approval of Emperor Constantine trying to pull Roman Empire together
-still, soon it became Eastern (Constantinople) and Western (Rome, etc.) Empires with different Emperors
-Christians use codex format to unite "Old Testament" with emerging "New Testament" in one "Bible"
-oldest list of exactly what works are included in the New Testament-comes from the Alexandrian bishop Athanasius in 367, in his writes a "pachal letter" (Pascha refers to Easter time in Christianity, Passover in Judaism)

Four Gospels

-term "gospel" originally meant message
-"evangel" is Greek word for Gospel (the good proclamation)
"Gospel According to:"-singular message attributed to one author/compiler
Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called "synoptic gospels"
-all 3 look at Jesus in the same light
-Mark itself is basically included in Matthew and Luke, was probably one of their sources
John is different, presents Jesus' ministry over at least 3 years (Passovers), but the Synoptics have no such schema
Other differences:
-John has Jesus hopping back and forth between Jerusalem and Galilee
-Synoptics have him going from Galilee to the north, then to Judea to die in Jerusalem
Within synoptics-Matthew and Luke have a lot in common concerning sayings of Jesus that are not in Mark (this is called the "Sayings Source," or "Q" from the German [Spruch]quelle)
Gospel of Thomas -- no significant narrative, only Jesus' sayings
-gigantic impetus to tell stories of Jesus or attribute sayings to Him
All extant gospels likely written down after 70 CE, probably much was oral prior to that
Eschatology -- Paul and many other early Christians thought world would end soon
Acts -- serves to hold letters of Paul and others and the Gospels together by talking about church's expansion after Jesus' death (part of a 2 volume/roll work, Luke-Acts), and Paul's part in it.
Revelations [NO!! Revelation (singular)] -- quite different material about the end times

//end of notes for week #9//