While the great Tübingen theologian, Ferdinand Christian Baur, has always featured in the distant background of Forschungsgeschichten and footnotes, there have been some periods in which he himself has become the object of more sustained study. In the mid-20th century there were a number of monographs on him, notably following the period of dialectical theology when questions about the relationship between theology and history were sharply posed. With all the questioning of historical criticism and its adequacy these days, we are again in a period when such questions are live, and it’s intriguing to note that we are again seeing an upsurge of interest in Baur. As I have noted elsewhere, Johannes Zachhuber’s recent Theology as Science in Nineteenth-Century Germany: From F. C. Baur to Ernst Troeltsch makes Baur one starting point for considering the debate about the Wissenschaft of theology. This month should see the appearance of two more important books on Baur: Peter Hodgson and Robert Brown’s translation of Baur’s History of Christian Dogma from OUP, and an important collection of essays in German and English on Ferdinand Christian Baur und die Geschichte des frühen Christentums / Ferdinand Christian Baur and the History of Early Christianity from Mohr Siebeck. Moreover, Hodgson and Brown are also at work on a translation of Baur’s Vorlesungen über die neutestamentliche Theologie, and there are plans for a translation of his essay on the Christ-party at Corinth. To speak of a minor Baurian renaissance might not be too strong!
David Runia writes to say that the Studia Philonica Annual‘s new website is up and running, now hosted (following Greg Sterling’s move there) by Yale Divinity School: http://divinity.yale.edu/philo-alexandria.
I was delighted to learn that Markus Bockmuehl, out of an extremely strong international field, has just been appointed as the Dean Ireland’s Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture. Hitherto Professor of Biblical and Early Christian Studies at Keble College, Oxford, he takes up the position after the long and distinguished tenure of Chris Rowland, whose retirement was marked by a special seminar in Oxford yesterday. Markus has an excellent reputation as a deeply learned scholar, widely read in ancient and modern literature in an embarrassing number of languages, a formidable critical intellect but also a constructive voice in current New Testament circles. Beyond all his impressive expertise, Markus is also well known for being an empowering and challenging supervisor, who draws from his graduate students the very best work of which they are capable. This is a wonderful appointment for us in Oxford, and augurs well for the future of New Testament and early Jewish and Christian studies here.
Speaking of that future, this means that we’ll be conducting an international search in the autumn to identify Markus’s replacement in his current position. We will be looking for an excellent scholar with an impressive publication record and good teaching experience to join us in our delivery of the NT syllabus here at all levels. And we’ll also hope to make some announcements about funding possibilities for New Testament graduate work in Oxford; watch this space…
The summer is nearly upon us, and that means conferences. I’m not the most avid conference-goer, though I generally enjoy them when I actually make it. We academics can be a difficult lot, with fragile egos and precious little affirmation to go around. For that reason, conferences can be brutal, disenchanting experiences, particularly for those in doctoral programs or early in their career. Having some familiarity with these negative exchanges, having both suffered and more often inflicted on others, I thought I’d draft a minor list of tips to help those entering the fray. Needless to say, this list is neither exhaustive nor authoritative, and others have offered more useful practical tips elsewhere, but these are things that came to mind.
- Praise others effusively and genuinely whenever possible. Academics are critical people, and rightly so, since we are invested in the careful weighing of claims and sober assessment of evidence. But that’s no reason why we have to be guarded in our encouragement when we see others doing well. I have sometimes feared that I will appear undiscerning or naïve if I am too ebullient in commending someone on a paper or a career success. But in this field in which rejection is plentiful, some warm-hearted adulation can go a long way.
- Network without instrumentalizing. The need to connect with other academics, to network, is crucial and one of the real benefits attending conferences in person supplies. But we’ve all been the victim, at one time or another, of the relentless badge-scanners who quickly size up whether you’re worth talking to by the name and institution on your name tag. It can be dehumanizing to find oneself so summarily disregarded, and it’s worth making a conscious effort not to do this to others. Rather, in this regard, be Kantian and treat others as an end in themselves, taking an interest in their work, their story, their paper, and so forth, rather than merely reducing them to what they can do for you. And don’t dismiss people simply on the basis of their school, since none of us like to be pigeon-holed merely according to institutional lines. And we become less interesting when only talking to people who think just what we do.
- Don’t be offended if someone hasn’t heard of you or your work. The amount of material published in our field is staggering, and it is simply impossible to keep abreast of all the new arrivals. Your new article or book may be the definitive word – erudite, exhaustive, unsurpassable! – but it may not be on the top of everyone’s reading list. I vividly remember the indignant look I got one SBL from a mid-career scholar when, after we were introduced, I asked him what his field was. How could I not know he worked in New Testament? Especially in our early years, we tend to know the major players in our thesis area but may not know those working in other parts of the discipline, and it’s only fair to extend grace toward others and to exercise humility about our own work.
- If someone has heard of you or your work, ascribe this to your interlocutor’s erudition, rather than to your own importance. These are very small circles and big egos crowd out more interesting encounters.
- Don’t scorn those earlier in their career than you. I have always had great admiration for people who went out of their way to listen to me and engage with my work while I was a lowly doctoral student, without any formal obligation on their part – wonderful scholars like Ross Wagner or Steve Moyise. Pragmatically, bear in mind that tables turn easily in the academy. You may find your book being reviewed by a junior scholar or doctoral student, or may find yourself in a few years applying for a job or a grant on which those scholars sit. Lording it over those in earlier stages of their career will only result in making needless enemies, a pyrrhic victory at best.
- Don’t recite your CV. Being at a large conference can cause all sorts of understandable anxieties: how can I possibly hold my own in these massive gatherings of established scholars, among the sprawling book halls and endless torrent of journal articles. But for some of us, those anxieties tempt us to overcompensation, seeking to prove to those we meet that we really ‘belong’ by referencing that forthcoming Novum Testamentum article, or dropping names (‘I was just chatting to Jimmy Dunn when all of sudden Ed Sanders came up to me and said to me, Tom Wright and I were just talking about you’).
- Do have fun. Enjoy making good friends with scholars around the world. Get drinks. Skip papers. Sightsee.
The doctoral and early career stage can be a lonely one, and the less we act like jerks, the better it will be for everyone.
In his history of the SBL, Ernest W. Saunders notes that its first Jewish members were Marcus Jastrow, Gustav Gottheil and the latter’s son, Richard J. H. Gottheil, who joined in 1886, a few years after the society was founded (Searching the Scriptures: A History of the Society of Biblical Literature, 1880-1980 [Society of Biblical Literature Centennial Publications 8; Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1982], 6-7). Apart from Jastrow’s great Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature, I realised that I knew very little about these scholars, so I decided to look into them a bit.
Penn has a great online exhibit on The Meaning of Words: Marcus Jastrow and the Making of Rabbinic Dictionaries. Jastrow was born in 1829 in eastern Prussia (formerly part of the Kingdom of Poland). After traditional rabbinic studies, he studied in Berlin and took a PhD from Halle in 1855, eventually coming, after some political difficulties, in 1866, to Philadelphia to become rabbi at the Congregation Rodeph Shalom. In addition to his painstaking work with the dictionary, he was also involved in important ways with the Jewish Encyclopedia (1906) and the English translation of the Bible under the Jewish Publication Society. Quoting from the Penn site:
Jastrow introduced a new type of religious leadership and learning to America, one heavily influenced by the academic model of the German university, the spirit and methods of historical-critical inquiry, and the religious reform of Jewish theology and ritual observance. As David Werner Amram, a scholar of early Hebrew printing and friend, put it in a memorial address “[Jastrow’s] thought was a blend of Talmudism, classicism, and modernism.” Jastrow’s arrival meant that familiarity with the best of European scholarship would now enter the mainstream of American Jewish cultural life. Indeed, Jastrow’s three major scholarly contributions – his English-Aramaic rabbinic dictionary, his role in the creation of the first English-language Jewish Encyclopedia, his contribution to the first Jewish critical translation into English of the Hebrew Bible – as well as the scholarship of his son Morris, all bear witness to this revolutionary cultural and intellectual transfer.
Gustav Gottheil was born in Prussia, but served the Manchester Congregation of British Jews in the UK for 13 years. He then went to the Temple Emanu-El in New York to succeed Samuel Adler. An active leader, he was also a founder and president of the Jewish Publication Society and involved in the American Zionist movement. The NY Times obituary for him (20 April 1903) prints one Dr. Silverman’s eulogy: “Dr. Gottheil believed in a progressive judaism. He believed and taught a Judaism that vibrated with the life of the present day,t hat was abreast of the modern science and philosophy. He loved the present with a ll its great problems; he kept his finger on the pulse beat of the world in order to know exactly the early symptoms of the religious and social life, that he might be ready to suit his word and work to the real and urgent needs of the time.”
Richard Gottheil was born in Manchester, England, in 1862, but moved to New York with his family as a child when Gustav Gottheil took up his position in New York City. After undergraduate work at Columbia, he studied in Berlin, Tübingen, and Leipzig, obtaining his PhD from the last of these in 1886. He worked especially in Semitics, focusing especially on Hebrew, Syriac and Arabic texts, including some from the Cairo Genizah. In 1903, he served as the president of SBL – as far as I can tell, from this list, its first Jewish president. He was, moreover, an ardent Zionist and was the first president of the Zionist Organization in America. Joshua Bloch memorialised the younger Gottheil in this way:
‘He was the first to organize a curriculum of Semitic courses at Columbia, and taught in almost all the branches falling within the scope of the department, including many courses in Old Testament studies. In those days a knowledge of Hebrew and Greek was an essential requirement in the preparation for the Christian ministry. But for an accurate knowledge of the Sacred Scriptures more than that was necessary. The fruits of archae- ology and criticism demanded their rightful place in circles where biblical studies were pursued. Few among the intelligent, church- going people of that day knew anything of the new and completely transvaluated estimate of the surviving literature of the ancient Hebrews which modern critical scholarship had arrived at. When Gottheil began his work at Columbia, it was his ambition that this altered appreciation of Hebrew literature should be widely understood and accepted by intelligent people without any disturbance of faith and without any of the painful and trying and destructive criticism which confronted the last decades of the nineteenth century. No easy task, indeed, and a rather delicate one at that; for, those were the days when Robertson Smith in Scotland, and Charles A. Briggs and Henry P. Smith in America were tried for “heretical” opinions on matters biblical’.
For further reading:
David Werner Amram, Memorial Address on the Tenth Anniversary of the Reverend Doctor Marcus Jastrow (Philadelphia, 1913); further here.
Richard Gottheil wrote a biography of his father, The Life of Gustav Gottheil: Memoir of a Priest in Israel (Bayard Press, 1936).
Joshua Bloch, “Richard James Horatio Gottheil, 1862-1936,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 56.4 (1936): 472-89, with extensive bibliography of his works.
In a short note published in 1983, N. Adkin called attention to a curious quotation in (esp.) Latin fathers: maledicta sterilis, quae non parit semen in Israel (with variations) (N. Adkin, ‘An Unidentified Latin Quotation of Scripture related to Isaiah 31,9’, Revue Bénédictine 93 : 123-125). He called attention to this citation in Jerome, Let. 22.21.1, Adv. Helv. 20; Adv. Iovin. 1.22 (cf. 1.37); in Isaiam 2.4.1, 15.56.4-5; in Zach. 3.14.18-19, but also in Origen, in the Latin translation by Rufinus of Hom. in Genesis 11.1 and in Jerome’s Latin translation of Origen’s Hom. in Ezech. 4.1; in the Ambrosiaster, Quaest. 1.17; Cassian, Conlat. 21.32.2; and Quodvultdeus, Liber promissionum 1.25.34. None of them offer a definitive identification for this citation (nor do their editors), though Jerome combines it several times with Isa 31:9 and Ps 127:3.
Writing before the advent of the fully searchable corpora we now have, Adkin erroneously suggested ‘Neither Augustine nor Ambrose nor any other Greek Father cites it’. In fact, it appears in Augustine on Faustus’s lips (attributed to Moses): ‘So we find him pronouncing a curse on all youths of both sexes, when he says: “Cursed is every one that raises not up a seed in Israel.” This is aimed directly at Jesus, who, according to you, was born among the Jews, and raised up no seed to continue his family. It points too at his disciples, some of whom he took from the wives they had married, and some who were unmarried he forbade to take wives. We have good reason, you see, for expressing our abhorrence of the daring style in which Moses hurls his maledictions against Christ, against light, against chastity, against everything divine’ (14.1; cf. 14.13). And we find the quotation in Greek (via the TLG) in a couple of places: a (7th century?) tractate of Adversus Judaeos literature (ἐπικατάρατος ὃς οὐκ ἔχει σπέρμα ἐν Ἰσραήλ), and in St. John of Damascus in the Expositio fidei, 97: ἐπικατάρατος πᾶς, ὃς οὐκ ἐγείρει σπέρμα ἐν τῷ Ἰσραήλ. It also occurs in some later medieval Latin authors like Aelred of Rievaulx and Bernard of Clairvaux, though probably derived from Jerome.
But where does this citation come from? None of the proposed explanations Adkin examines is convincing, and he rightly repudiates them all. And yet it seems to appear on the scene as something that has widespread currency as scripture. Any ideas?
Senior New Testament Seminar
Trinity Term 2014
Fridays 2.30-4.00 pm
(see below for locations)
09 May (2nd week)
The Pusey Room, Keble College
Dr. Courtney Friesen (Oxford)
‘Drinking Early? Dionysiac Intertexts and Acts 2’
23 May (4th week)
The Stafford Crane Room, Keble College
Dr. Matthew Novenson (Edinburgh)
‘Ancestry and Merit in Early Jewish and Christian Messiah Texts’
06 June (6th week)
The Stafford Crane Room, Keble College
Dr. Simon Gathercole (Cambridge)
‘Sins in Paul’
13 June (7th week, 2.30-6.00pm)
***N.B. NOT 20 June as Previously Advertised***
Marking the Retirement of Prof. Christopher Rowland
The Pusey Room, Keble College
Prof. Loren Stuckenbruck (Munich)
‘Jewish Apocalyptic and the Understanding of Time in the New Testament
in Recent Interpretation’
Dr. Christine Joynes (Oxford)
‘Seeing the Scriptures: Reviewing the Task of Biblical Exegesis’
*Queries to Dr. Ben Edsall