Readers sometimes ask us how we find our stories. One of the ways is by listening to scholars present their ideas at scholarly colloquia around the world. George Howard’s article, “Was the Gospel of Matthew Originally Written in Hebrew?” was born at such a meeting in 1985 in Trondheim, Norway, where we heard Howard’s paper delivered to scholarly acclaim. It has yet to appear in the scholarly literature, but BR is proud to present this first publication to our subscribers.
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—the four canonical Gospels—as we know them today in English translations are based on Greek manuscripts assumed to be copies of original Greek autographs. But at least one of the Gospels, and perhaps more, may originally have been written in Hebrew! Howard presents formidable evidence that he has found an original Hebrew copy of Matthew buried in a little-known 14th-century Hebrew manuscript.
Chairman of the University of Georgia’s department of religion, George Howard is a former president of the Society for Biblical Literature, Southeastern Region, and author of Paul: Crisis in Galatia—A Study in Early Christian Theology. He is also the author of “The Name of God in the New Testament,” BAR 04:01.
Hidden within the text of the Hebrew Bible are signs of changes that took place over time. Careful readings elicit clues as to how and why those changes occurred. Two articles in this issue are textual detective stories that explain some of the changes.
In “The David and Goliath Saga,” Emanuel Tov points out that this familiar story as we know it in the standard Masoretic text (MT) of the Hebrew Bible is 80% longer than that found in the oldest manuscripts of the Septuagint (LXX), a third-century B.C. Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. Tov suggests how we can account for this dramatic difference by analyzing the language, the omissions and contradictions between the MT and LXX. He suggests that at one time there were two independent versions of the David and Goliath story: one still exists independently in the LXX and the two became combined in the MT.
Tov teaches in the Bible department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and serves as a director of the Computer Assisted Tools for Septuagint Studies (CATSS) project.
Michael Fishbane’s exploration of the Hebrew Bible leads him to conclude that “The Earliest Biblical Exegesis Is in the Bible Itself.” He observes that until the Biblical text was fixed and the canon closed, trained scribes reacted to ambiguities in the text by creative explanatory additions and revisions. Fishbane provides us with several fascinating examples.
Fishbane, Samuel Lane Professor of Jewish Religious History and Social Ethics at Brandeis University, is the author of Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel which received a
In a beautifully illustrated article, art historian Zefira Gitay takes a close look at the details artists depict when they paint “Hagar’s Expulsion—A Tale Twice Told in Genesis.”. Not only a journey into art, this article penetrates to the fine details of two episodes in Genesis in which Hagar, who bears Abraham’s son, Ishmael, encounters the anger and jealousy of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.
Born in Israel and a resident of Beer-Sheva, Gitay studied archaeology and Jewish history at Hebrew University. Her doctoral studies at Emory University focused on Renaissance art history.
The continuing power of religion in contemporary life is the theme of Jacob Neusner’s “My View: Why Study Religion?” Calling religion a “phenomenon of society and culture, of imagination and heart,” Neusner argues that without knowledge of religion one cannot understand the world we live in. Its power, he notes, surfaces again and again—sometimes for good and sometimes for ill.
Neusner currently serves as director of Brown University’s Center for the Study of Judaism. His writings on rabbinic Judaism and the period of the Talmud are vast; he has published nearly 200 books and monographs.
Don’t miss “Illuminations,” a new BR department with little-known facts, interesting speculations and unnoticed paradoxes related to the Bible. Also, in this issue, find out who’s received the 1986 BAS Publication Awards.
Readers sometimes ask us how we find our stories. One of the ways is by listening to scholars present their ideas at scholarly colloquia around the world. George Howard’s article, “Was the Gospel of Matthew Originally Written in Hebrew?” was born at such a meeting in 1985 in Trondheim, Norway, where we heard Howard’s paper delivered to scholarly acclaim. It has yet to appear in the scholarly literature, but BR is proud to present this first publication to our subscribers. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—the four canonical Gospels—as we know them today in English translations are based on Greek […]