Revered more for the profound questions it raises than for the answers it provides, the Book of Job can be intellectual quicksand for many Bible readers, trapping the unwary in the bog of seemingly endless and often obscure debates that form the bulk of the book. In “Is It Possible To Understand the Book of Job?,” David Noel Freedman smoothes the way through what he calls the “rough passages and even rougher transitions” of this parable of undeserved suffering. Freedman clearly summarizes the dramatic structure of the Book of Job—the “who says what” in the book’s complex dialogues—before taking on the thorny task of explaining God’s apparently unreasonable behavior.
As general editor of the Anchor Bible Series, Freedman has supervised the publication of texts of over a dozen books of the Bible. He is currently Arthur F. Thurnow Professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Michigan. A member of BR’s editorial board, Freedman contributed several articles in 1985, our first year, including “Who Asks (or Tells) God to Repent?” BR 01:04 and “But Did King David Invent Musical Instruments?” BR 01:03.
The Gospel writer did not quite finish his job when he wrote, “Hosanna to the Son of David” (Matthew 21:9), for he merely transliterated the Hebrew word “hosanna,” rather than translating it. Apparently he was uncertain about its meaning, and his uncertainty has misled millions of Bible readers ever since, suggests Marvin H. Pope in “Hosanna—What It Really Means.” Pope traces the meaning and history of the word and in the process reveals the significance of the greeting made to Jesus on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
Author of the Anchor Bible’s Job and the award-winning Song of Songs, Pope is Louis M. Rabinowitz Emeritus Professor of Semitic Languages and Literature at Yale University. He has served on the Old Testament Committee of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible since 1960, preparing the new edition scheduled to be published by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in 1990.
The documentary hypothesis is in trouble, say scholars Isaac M. Kikawada and Arthur Quinn in their book, Before Abraham Was. The hypothesis, popular since the 18th century, states that the Pentateuch was not written solely by Moses, but in fact is a compilation of several different documents written independently at different times. P. Kyle McCarter, Jr. answers “A New Challenge to the Documentary Hypothesis” as posed by Kikawada and Quinn. McCarter cites biblical and contemporaneous Near Eastern literature to demonstrate that all these ancient documents underwent an extended process of editing and revision.
At Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, McCarter serves as William Foxwell Albright Professor of Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies and was recently appointed Associate Dean of the university’s School of Arts and Sciences. The father of three children and a youth soccer coach, McCarter will take time this summer to teach a BAS Vacation Seminar in Oxford, England—his seventh BAS seminar.
In “Bible Lands,” Oded Borowski takes us on a historical-geographic tour of the Sharon plain. From Bible times, when sheep grazed on lush plains, we travel all the way to the 20th century, when the Sharon’s malaria-infested marshes were drained and transformed into rich, cultivated fields. Born in Israel, Borowski was formerly a member of Kibbutz Lahav, at the northern edge of the Negev; he returns frequently as a senior staff member of the dig at nearby Tel Halif, probably biblical Rimmon. Associate professor of Modern Languages and Classics at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, Borowski is currently on sabbatical at the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem.
This issue’s expanded book review section (see Bible Books) features a classic work on Biblical historigraphy by John Van Seters, a colorful calligraphic feast of biblical texts by Timothy Botts and three important books on the apostle Paul.
The Fellner Award for the best article published in BR in 1987 goes to Brown University’s Jacob Neusner for “Parallel Histories of Early Christianity and Judaism,” BR 03:01. Read in Readers Reply about Neusner’s article, described by the judges, Frank Cross and Phil King, as “a provocative and sweeping synthesis”.
Revered more for the profound questions it raises than for the answers it provides, the Book of Job can be intellectual quicksand for many Bible readers, trapping the unwary in the bog of seemingly endless and often obscure debates that form the bulk of the book. In “Is It Possible To Understand the Book of Job?,” David Noel Freedman smoothes the way through what he calls the “rough passages and even rougher transitions” of this parable of undeserved suffering. Freedman clearly summarizes the dramatic structure of the Book of Job—the “who says what” in the book’s complex dialogues—before taking […]