II: Original Biblical Text Reconstructed from Newly Found Fragments
Scrolls provide a fresh understanding of apocalyptic elements in late biblical religion By Frank Moore Cross

In the last issue of Bible Review, Professor Cross presented a description, based on his study of the Dead Sea Scrolls, of how the text of the Hebrew Bible developed (“The Text Behind the Text of the Hebrew Bible,” BR 01:02). In this issue, Cross concludes his account of the kinds of changes in […]

The Documentary Hypothesis in Trouble

The Pentateuch, or the five books of Moses—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy—how was it formed? What is the history of its composition? The traditional view of both Judaism and Christianity has been that it was written by Moses under divine inspiration. As early as the 12th century, however, the Jewish commentator Ibn Ezra […]

I: The Text Behind the Text of the Hebrew Bible

12 This is Part I of a two-part article; the second part will appear in the next issue of Bible Review. Part 2 will discuss the recovery of a missing passage in the Book of Samuel, as well as new developments in our understanding of late biblical religion.—Ed. Nearly 40 years have passed since […]

Unlocking the Poetry of Love in the Song of Songs

At barely eight chapters with a total of 117 verses, the Song of Songs is one of the shortest books of the Bible. In 1977, Marvin Pope of Yale University published his massive, 750-page commentary to the Song of Songs. That’s an average of nearly six and a half pages for each verse—and most […]

Images of God in Western Art

The Bible contains many references to God’s human attributes. Not only does he get angry and threaten, he also cajoles and forgives. We learn that he has nostrils that “blast” (Exodus 5:8), an arm that “stretches” (Deuteronomy 5:15), a finger that “writes” (Exodus 31:18), lips that “open” (Job 11:5) and hair “like pure wool” […]

The Baptism of Jesus
A story modeled on the binding of Isaac By William R. Stegner

John’s baptism of Jesus appears in all three synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke). Here is how Mark describes it in a mere 53 words in Greek: “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately […]

On the Road and on the Sea with St. Paul
Travelling conditions in the first century By Jerome Murphy-O’Connor

In the Acts of the Apostles, we are told that Paul made three missionary journeys. In almost every introduction to the New Testament I have seen, the author discusses St. Paul’s journeys in terms of places and dates; his concern is to establish the location of the cities Paul visited and to fix the […]

“As The Seal Upon Thy Heart”
Glyptic roles in the biblical world By William W. Hallo

Over 50 years ago, Robert Hatch Kennett described Ancient Hebrew Social Life and Custom as Indicated in Law, Narrative, and Metaphor1 in one of the celebrated Schweich Lectures, a series dedicated to illuminating biblical issues in concise but authoritative fonm. More recently, Roland de Vaux covered the same ground in much more massive fashion […]

“You Shall Not Boil a Kid in Its Mother’s Milk”
An archaeological myth destroyed By Jacob Milgrom

One of the oldest prohibitions in the entire Bible is the injunction against boiling a kid in the milk of its mother. It is repeated three times in identical words: “You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.”a From these words, the rabbis extrapolated a complex set of dietary laws, which to […]

Words That Occur in the Bible Only Once—How Hard Are They to Translate?

For over a thousand years, students of the Hebrew Bible have been intrigued by the fact that some words in the text occur only once. Medieval Jewish manuscripts mark these unique forms with the Hebrew letter lamed, an abbreviation for the Aramaic word layt, which means “there is no other.” The Masoretes, medieval scholars […]

Different Ways of Looking at the Birth of Jesus
Narrative strategies in New Testament infancy narratives By Kenneth R. R. Gros Louis

Biblical scholarship has long recognized the significant differences between the details of the birth of Jesus in the gospels of Matthew and Luke—the only two gospels to contain an account of his birth, Rarely, however, have biblical scholars gone beyond the basic observation that the accounts of the birth differ, as indeed do the […]

But Did King David Invent Musical Instruments?
He composed Psalms and played the lyre… By David Noel Freedman

While the dividing line between poetry and prose in the Hebrew Bible is imprecise, and the two types tend to blend into each other, especially in the prophetic writings, certain features that occur in both are more frequent and prominent in poetry than in prose. One of these is ellipsis, or the use of […]

On Rereading the “Kid in Milk” Inscription
Two “lowly” epigraphers speak out By Robert J. Ratner, Bruce E. Zuckerman

Jacob Milgrom has presented an excellent overall evaluation of the problems posed by the passage in the Ugaritic text (see “You Shall Not Boil a Kid in Its Mother’s Milk”), commonly called “The Birth of the Gracious and Beautiful Gods.” This text has so often been connected to the biblical prohibition against boiling a […]

Tracing the Spread of Early Christianity Through Coins

35Few events in human history have had the impact that the Christianization of the Roman Empire has had on Western civilization. The person chiefly responsible for bringing about this dramatic change was the Roman emperor Flavius Valerius Constantinus, Constantine the Great, who ruled from 307 to 337A.D. Our chief source for the facts of […]

What the Ass and the Ox Know—But the Scholars Don’t

The first chapter of Isaiah contains one of the most powerful prophetic passages in the entire Bible. The Lord, through the prophet, castigates his people Israel for rebelling. As a result, the country lies desolate, devoured by Israel’s enemies. The Lord rejects the sacrifice of his people. What is the sacrifice the Lord desires? […]

Continuity & Change in Israel’s Convenant with God

47Israel’s faith-history begins with the people’s response to their escape from Egypt under Moses’ leadership around 1275 B.C.1 What happened at the Exodus? A motley group of slaves, resident aliens in a hostile Egypt, escaped from oppression under the leadership of a certain Moses; then they saw in their successful escape a clear sign […]

Who Asks (or Tells) God to Repent?
Other than Moses… By David Noel Freedman

For several years now, I have been working jointly with Frank Andersen of the University of Queensland in Australia on a translation and commentary of Amos, the great eighth-century B.C. prophet. In the course of our detailed work, we have come to know the prophet quite well and indeed have become very attached to […]