Uma brilhante defesa de Finkelstein

“Finkelstein está usando a arqueologia para interpretar os textos bíblicos e não os textos bíblicos para interpretar a arqueologia. Eu penso que este é o modo correto para se fazer pesquisa arqueológica em regiões e épocas onde há documentação histórica disponível…”

Quem está dizendo isto não sou eu, mas o arqueólogo Christopher O’Brien em seu blog Northstate Science, no post Apologetics Archaeology? onde ele aborda, entre outras coisas, a discutida questão da baixa cronologia proposta por Israel Finkelstein.

 

Quem é Christopher O’Brien ?
Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at California State University, Chico and Adjunct Faculty at Lassen Community College, Susanville. His day job is as the Forest Archaeologist for Lassen National Forest in northern California. He received his BS in Anthropology from the University of California-Davis and a MA and PhD in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is currently working on the zooarchaeology of several cave and rockshelter sites in northern California, and the historical ecology of several species. He has also been directing archaeological excavations in western Tanzania since 2002.

Consciente de minha incompetência no assunto – quando obtenho uma resposta, ela só me serve para fazer outras maiores perguntas! – limito-me a transcrever alguns trechos do post de Christopher O’Brien. Claro que recomento a leitura de todo o texto. E do livro de Finkelstein & Silberman, The Bible Unearthed, ou, pelo menos, de sua resenha.

 

O que é a Baixa Cronologia?

Briefly, for readers unfamiliar with the “Low Chronology” debate, archaeologist Israel Finkelstein has suggested, among other things, that strata at many archaeological sites in the Middle East originally dated to the 10th century BCE should be “lowered” to the 9th century BCE. This may seem an innocuous adjustment in dates, but in fact it wreaks absolute havoc with the idea that the bible has any but the most minimal historical validity. It pretty much removes the epoch of David and Solomon from historical consideration, at least as it is represented in the biblical texts. As such it is one of the issues at the heart of the minimalist/maximalist debate in bibical…ah, excuse me, Syro-Palestinian archaeology.

O que faz Finkelstein?

I was struck more with Finkelstein’s focus on explaining the archaeology of the region in the context of issues more familiar to me as a research archaeologist: population increase, adaptation, migration and population displacement, environmental context, etc. Finkelstein is an archaeologist whom I expect would feel comfortable in the realm of hunter-gatherer archaeology. I think he ultimately gets what archaeology is all about: understanding past human behavior. More to the point, I think he does what a good archaeologist should: he puts the archaeology ahead of the history as the primary source of explanatory power. And I get the feeling that his critics are ultimately more concerned with the methodological and theoretical approach he uses, than with the archaeological validation of the Low Chronology, per se.

O que Finkelstein faz que é diferente de seus críticos no debate minimalista/maximalista?

What Finkelstein does differently from his critics, is to approach archaeological interpretation of the region on basis of, well…the archaeology. His hypothesis testing is based upon questions of understanding past human behavior in the context of the material culture left behind by extinct human populations, without the theoretical crutch of assuming historic texts have already captured those behaviors and events. Textual evidence is at best a secondary source of information, another interpretive tool in the archaeologist’s box, if you will. It may come in handy some time down the road…after the chronology has been worked out…after the subsistence and settlement patterns have been worked out…after some questions of culture change have been addressed. Now in actual practice we archaeologists tend to run all those together…no one is going to wait for the perfect chronology before developing explanations of culture change; what I am referring to is how you approach the archaeological record from the very beginning.

Mas e o uso seletivo que Finkelstein faz de textos bíblicos para sustentar suas hipóteses e que é visto como um problema por seus críticos?

I have always been curious about the criticism leveled at Finkelstein that he “selectively” uses biblical text to support his contentions. But this is exactly the level of interpretive power expected by historical texts – the written record of the human past is plagued with error, perspective, limited vantage, experience (or lack thereof), political and economic motivation, and outright deception. The range of interpretive “help” provided by historical texts will range from absolutely zero to some textual fragments that may be very useful; with a whole lot of text of dubious quality either way. I would expect only “selected” text to be of any value in interpreting the archaeological record. In fact, I would argue that the archaeological record provides greater benefit at the interpretation of historical text than the other way around. This is ultimately the crux of biblical minimalism: Finkelstein is using the archaeology to interpret biblical texts; not the biblical texts to interpret the archaeology. I think this is the appropriate way to approach archaeological research in regions and time periods where historical documentation is also available. If my understanding of the minimalist/maximalist debate is even remotely correct in this regard, I must obviously count myself among the minimalists.

Por que os críticos de Finkelstein devem ser olhados com desconfiança?

I am nonetheless suspicious of Finkelstein’s critics, largely because most of them seem to give biblical texts far greater interpretive weight than is justified, at least relative to the actual archaeology. This is not to say that I think all of them are raving biblical literalists, chomping at the bit to use archaeology to “prove the bible”. Some simply see greater interpretive value in historical texts (be they biblical or any other) and reflect this perspective in their archaeological work. I’ve got no issue with this (other than it is not a methodological approach I would favor – I think it puts the “interpretive” cart before the “data” horse) – for those conducting responsible archaeology, it is simply another approach that ultimately can be tested with additional archaeological data. However, I have a growing concern with the ethical framework in which some Syro-Palestinian archaeological projects are being conducted, and this has to do with many of Finkelstein’s critics for whom biblical texts are not simply invoked as a valid interpretive tool, but are viewed a priori as historically accurate. I think this is a serious integrity issue for the future of archaeological research in the region.

Além disso, ele faz duras críticas ao Dr. Joseph Cathey – chega a duvidar de sua qualificação como arqueólogo – e a Steve Ortiz que está escavando Gezer e que chegou, segundo ele, a escrever: “God has called me to do archaeology”, e “the solution to doubts about the bible’s authenticity is to do your own archaeological work”. Diz, de modo direto, Christopher O’Brien:

The Gezer excavations are being led by someone whose sole purpose at doing archaeological work is to “affirm bible history”, leading me to have serious reservations about the integrity of the archaeological work being conducted there. I am particularly distressed in hearing discussions of Ortiz’s work under the title of “Archaeology As Apologetics”. This is a completely asinine description of the real goals of archaeological research – and it completely devastates any authority archaeology may have to tell us about the past. How much evidence at Gezer that doesn’t confirm Ortiz’s preconceived notions of biblical history will see the light of day?

Entretanto, seria bom lembrar aqui que a classificação de minimalista, atribuída a Finkelstein, não é de todo correta. Ele mesmo já recusou, mais de uma vez, esta classificação. Assim como alguns dos chamados “minimalistas”, como Philip Davies e Thomas Thompson, se me recordo bem, não concordam – pelo menos parcialmente – com Israel Finkelstein. As questões relativas à baixa cronologia também não estavam na agenda dos minimalistas. O que ocorre é que algumas conclusões coincidem, mas os estudiosos de Sheffield e Copenhague chegaram a elas por caminhos diferentes e independentes daqueles de Finkelstein. A confusão nasce da classificação de Finkelstein como minimalista por seus críticos. O que eles, os críticos, odeiam mesmo é que os resultados conseguidos pela arqueologia de Finkelstein fortaleceram algumas das posturas dos minimalistas!


Leia o post de Christopher O’Brien na íntegra.

Apologetics Archaeology?

Posted by Christopher O’Brien – Saturday, January 27, 2007

I have been reading with intense interest the discussions on Finkelstein’s Low Chronology taking place at Jim West’s blog, Stephen Cook’s blog, and at Abnormal Interests. Jim West has also reviewed the Bible Unearthed DVD, based on Finkelstein and Silberman’s book of the same name. Briefly, for readers unfamiliar with the “Low Chronology” debate, archaeologist Israel Finkelstein has suggested, among other things, that strata at many archaeological sites in the Middle East originally dated to the 10th century BCE should be “lowered” to the 9th century BCE. This may seem an innocuous adjustment in dates, but in fact it wreaks absolute havoc with the idea that the bible has any but the most minimal historical validity. It pretty much removes the epoch of David and Solomon from historical consideration, at least as it is represented in the biblical texts. As such it is one of the issues at the heart of the minimalist/maximalist debate in bibical…ah, excuse me, Syro-Palestinian archaeology.

I have read Finkelstein’s book and found his reconstruction of the traditional biblical chronology rather interesting. There is clear disagreement on the archaeological validity of the “Low Chronology” and I don’t claim to have sufficient knowledge to comment, although I find myself reading more on the subject. However, I was struck more with Finkelstein’s focus on explaining the archaeology of the region in the context of issues more familiar to me as a research archaeologist: population increase, adaptation, migration and population displacement, environmental context, etc. Finkelstein is an archaeologist whom I expect would feel comfortable in the realm of hunter-gatherer archaeology. I think he ultimately gets what archaeology is all about: understanding past human behavior. More to the point, I think he does what a good archaeologist should: he puts the archaeology ahead of the history as the primary source of explanatory power. And I get the feeling that his critics are ultimately more concerned with the methodological and theoretical approach he uses, than with the archaeological validation of the Low Chronology, per se.

In this respect, I believe I am coming to a different appreciation of the “maximalist/minimalist” debate in Syro-Palestinian archaeology. Probably naively, I had considered this issue solely within the context of interpreting the archaeology in terms of the bible. If you interpret the archaeology in parsimony with the bible, you’re a maximalist; if you interpret the archaeology at variance with the bible, you’re a minimalist. But in either case, my assumption had been that the archaeology was the same and it is only the differential interpretive weight placed upon one or more archaeological components that leads to the split between minimalist and maximalist. Now I’m not so sure. What Finkelstein does differently from his critics, is to approach archaeological interpretation of the region on basis of, well…the archaeology. His hypothesis testing is based upon questions of understanding past human behavior in the context of the material culture left behind by extinct human populations, without the theoretical crutch of assuming historic texts have already captured those behaviors and events. Textual evidence is at best a secondary source of information, another interpretive tool in the archaeologist’s box, if you will. It may come in handy some time down the road…after the chronology has been worked out…after the subsistence and settlement patterns have been worked out…after some questions of culture change have been addressed. Now in actual practice we archaeologists tend to run all those together…no one is going to wait for the perfect chronology before developing explanations of culture change; what I am referring to is how you approach the archaeological record from the very beginning.

I have always been curious about the criticism leveled at Finkelstein that he “selectively” uses biblical text to support his contentions. But this is exactly the level of interpretive power expected by historical texts – the written record of the human past is plagued with error, perspective, limited vantage, experience (or lack thereof), political and economic motivation, and outright deception. The range of interpretive “help” provided by historical texts will range from absolutely zero to some textual fragments that may be very useful; with a whole lot of text of dubious quality either way. I would expect only “selected” text to be of any value in interpreting the archaeological record. In fact, I would argue that the archaeological record provides greater benefit at the interpretation of historical text than the other way around. This is ultimately the crux of biblical minimalism: Finkelstein is using the archaeology to interpret biblical texts; not the biblical texts to interpret the archaeology.

I think this is the appropriate way to approach archaeological research in regions and time periods where historical documentation is also available. If my understanding of the minimalist/maximalist debate is even remotely correct in this regard, I must obviously count myself among the minimalists. And this is not a perspective I would consider limited to the archaeology in the Land of the Bible. Interestingly, we have a similar issue here in California with the use of ethnographies. Ethnographic sources (historical accounts of Native American lifeways) are considered by some archaeologists in the region to be the focal context for interpreting the archaeological record. I have even heard the Smithsonian’s Volume 8 (California) of the North American Indian series referred to as the “Bible” of archaeological interpretation (with a devotion among some archaeologists approaching that of Middle Eastern biblical texts!). I would argue that these “historical” ethnographic texts suffer from the same problems I listed above, are of limited value in archaeological interpretation, and that much of northern Californian archaeology remains provincial because of an uncritical allegiance to this “tyranny of the ethnographic record”. But that’s a post for another time.

While I certainly do not claim a sufficient knowledge of the archaeological material in question (and in reading additional material, I have my own doubts regarding the validity of the Low Chronology), I am nonetheless suspicious of Finkelstein’s critics, largely because most of them seem to give biblical texts far greater interpretive weight than is justified, at least relative to the actual archaeology. This is not to say that I think all of them are raving biblical literalists, chomping at the bit to use archaeology to “prove the bible”. Some simply see greater interpretive value in historical texts (be they biblical or any other) and reflect this perspective in their archaeological work. I’ve got no issue with this (other than it is not a methodological approach I would favor – I think it puts the “interpretive” cart before the “data” horse) – for those conducting responsible archaeology, it is simply another approach that ultimately can be tested with additional archaeological data.

However, I have a growing concern with the ethical framework in which some Syro-Palestinian archaeological projects are being conducted, and this has to do with many of Finkelstein’s critics for whom biblical texts are not simply invoked as a valid interpretive tool, but are viewed a priori as historically accurate. I think this is a serious integrity issue for the future of archaeological research in the region. In a series of replies to Jim West’s discussion of Finkelstein’s positions, “working archaeologist” Dr. Joseph Cathey (who further describes himself as an archivist and professor of Hebrew, but with no location specified – a bit suspicious)absolutely rails against West and Finkelstein, suggesting they are compromised by bias, and in doing so, belies a serious bias on his own part. Cathey claims that he doesn’t do archaeology with “a bible in one hand” but I quite frankly see nothing to suggest that criticism is invalid. He then levels this against Jim West:

Lastly, I am happily ready to go where the evidence takes me. It seems that it is just the opposite with you – you are the one who has invested whole heartily in a bankrupt 19th century liberal belief which has long ago been cast aside by the advances made in archaeology.

“…bankrupt 19th century liberal belief” seems to be more a political accusation than an archaeological argument – the kind I hear from fundamentalists lacking any sort of reasoned position on an issue (they always trot out the “liberal” label when they’ve run out of ideas). His last sentence is also a red-herring – my suspicion is that Cathey actually knows very little about archaeology, or what anything but a selective reading of it has suggested. He seems to be one of a growing number of people who begin to call themselves archaeologists after they’ve schlepped buckets of pottery from Point A to Point B for a while, or spent a couple of weeks clearing debris. If he has professional credentials in archaeology I’d sure like to see them. So I doubt Cathey would go “wherever the evidence leads” unless the evidence substantiates a literal interpretation of the bible. Cathey’s blog on the excavations at Gezer leads me to further think he is a biblical literalist disguising himself as an archaeologist in order to attain an air of professional respectability:

If you read the book of Revelation you will notice the Last Battle – the Battle of Armageddon. In this photograph you will see the valley of which the biblical text speaks. If you were standing in the place of the photographer – me – and looked to your right you would see Megeddio. In John’s apocalypse he notes that the battle will take place at har-megeddio a phrase which we have brought into English as Armageddon.

If that is not enough, Cathey’s involvement with the excavations at Gezer reminded me of a major concern I have with the integrity of the Gezer excavations as they are currently being conducted. The current excavations are being directed by Steve Ortiz of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and “…will continue in 2007 with consortium members that include Southwestern, Midwestern Seminary, Lancaster Bible College, the Marian Eakins Archaeological Museum, Lycoming College and Grace Seminary”. Read articles on Ortiz and you see things like “committed evangelical”, “God has called me to do archaeology”, and “the solution to doubts about the bible’s authenticity is to do your own archaeological work”. The Gezer excavations are being led by someone whose sole purpose at doing archaeological work is to “affirm bible history”, leading me to have serious reservations about the integrity of the archaeological work being conducted there. I am particularly distressed in hearing discussions of Ortiz’s work under the title of “Archaeology As Apologetics”. This is a completely asinine description of the real goals of archaeological research – and it completely devastates any authority archaeology may have to tell us about the past. How much evidence at Gezer that doesn’t confirm Ortiz’s preconceived notions of biblical history will see the light of day?

Everyone has their biases in approaching archaeological research. But some threaten the integrity of archaeology much more than others. Jim West got to the heart of the problem in responding Joe Cathey:

Joe is doing his Joe best to suggest that the “high chronology” upon which he depends for his exegetical presuppositions must be the one and only right chronology. Should that chronology fall, Joe knows that the basis for his understanding of the Old Testament as “historical” text will crumble like the walls of Jericho under the trumpet blast of Joshua’s circling army of musical priests. Joe, in other words, has too much invested in his presuppositions to be objective. And he wants everyone else to be as “un-objective” as he is, and if they are not, then they are “bowing” to the views of someone Joe disagrees with.

Regardless of biases, those of us in the field need to at least be comfortable that the likelihood of contradictory archaeological evidence will not be destroyed in the fervor to demonstrate one’s position. I don’t think we can be claim that level of comfort for the excavations at Gezer.

A descoberta do Livro da Lei na época de Josias

David Henige, da Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA, escreve no Journal of Hebrew Scriptures – Volume 7, de 2007, o artigo Found But Not Lost: A Skeptical Note on the Document Discovered in the Temple Under Josiah, ou seja, Encontrado mas não perdido: uma nota cética sobre o documento descoberto no Templo sob Josias. O texto está disponível online e pode ser lido em formato html ou pdf.

Às vésperas de mais uma reunião dos Biblistas Mineiros e do lançamento de nosso livro sobre a Obra Histórica Deuteronomista, as considerações deste artigo me pareceram úteis.

No abstract ele diz: In this paper I look at the famous story of the finding of the “book of the law” in the temple during the reign of Josiah. Adopting a pragmatic/plausible approach and keeping in mind the biblical testimony about earlier circumstances in Judah, I argue that the story as we have it lacks inherent plausibility and should be rejected as an etiological invention, whether or not of the time. None of the various scenarios that could explain its disappearance can also serve to explain why it remained hidden for so long, only to be discovered at just the right moment to provide a willing Josiah with the justification to begin a cultic reform program. 

Henige vai discutir a notícia de 2Rs 22,3-23,3 que narra a descoberta de um “livro da Lei” durante a reforma do Templo ordenada pelo rei Josias (640-609 a.C.), em seu décimo oitavo ano de governo (622 a.C.). Diz o texto, que transcrevo parcialmente na tradução da Bíblia de Jerusalém, publicada pela Paulus em 2002: 

O sumo sacerdote Helcias disse ao secretário Safã: “Achei o livro da Lei no Templo de Iahweh”. Helcias deu o livro a Safã, que o leu. O secretário Safã veio ter com o rei e informou-lhe: (…) “O sacerdote Helcias deu-me um livro”, e Safã leu-o diante do rei. Ao ouvir as palavras contidas no livro da Lei, o rei rasgou as vestes. Ordenou ao (…): Ide consultar Iahweh por mim, pelo povo e por todo Judá a respeito das palavras deste livro que acaba de ser encontrado (…) Foram ter com a profetisa Hulda (…) O rei mandou reunir junto de si todos (…) Leu diante deles todo o conteúdo do livro da Aliança encontrado no Templo de Iahweh. O rei estava de pé sobre o estrado e concluiu diante de Iahweh a Aliança que o obrigava a seguir Iahweh e a guardar seus mandamentos, seus testemunhos e seus estatutos de todo o seu coração e de toda a sua alma, para pôr em prática as cláusulas da Aliança escrita neste livro. Todo o povo aderiu à Aliança. 

David Henige cita, no começo do artigo, a posição de alguns autores sobre o assunto, como:
. “O relato de 2Rs 22-23 foi escrito no tempo de Josias e deve ser verdadeiro”, diz Nadav Na’aman, em “Reflections on the Discussion”, em Lester L. Grabbe (ed.), Good Kings and Bad Kings, London, 2005, p. 348.

. “…Mas nós não sabemos se a estória desta ‘descoberta’ (ou alguma racionalização, como uma inserção deliberada do rolo logo após a composição) é verdadeira, diz Philip R. Davies, em “Josiah and the Law Book”, em Good Kings and Bad Kings, p. 70.

. “Há realmente um livro por trás desta estória…?”, pergunta W. Boyd Barrick, The King and the Cemeteries: Toward a New Understanding of Josiah’s Reform, Leiden, 2002, p. 131.

. “Durante muito tempo os críticos defenderam a idéia de que esta ‘descoberta’ era uma fraude piedosa…; hoje esta opinião foi abandonada. Quase com certeza o trabalho pertence a uma época antiga”, reflete Roland de Vaux, Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions, New York, 1961, p. 338.

. “A descoberta de um livro da lei no Templo não é implausível…”, diz Mordechai Cogan, “Into Exile: from the Assyrian Conquest of Israel to the Fall of Babylon”, em Michael D. Coogan (ed.) The Oxford History of the Biblical World, New York, 1998, p. 346.

 Após algumas considerações metodológicas, o autor vai nos dizer que, sobre a veracidade desta ‘descoberta’, há, grosso modo, cinco posições dos especialistas:

. aceitação/paráfrase: porque é o que a Bíblia diz – como T.C. Mitchell, “Judah until the Fall of Jerusalem (c. 700-586 B.C.)” em CAH2 III/2, Cambridge, 1991, p. 388.
. aceitação com argumentação – como Iain Provan, 1 and 2 Kings, Peabody MA, 1995, p. 271.
. descarte: pode ser, pode não ser, mas isto não importa – como Mark A. O’Brien, The Deuteronomistic History Hypothesis: a Reassessment, Freiburg, 1989, p. 239-40 n. 41.
. dúvida: poderia ser, mas provavelmente não – como Giovanni Garbini, Myth and History in the Bible, Sheffield, 2003, p. 64 ou Thomas Römer, The So-Called Deuteronomistic History: a Sociological, Historical, and Literary Introduction, London, 2005, p. 50-55.
. rejeição com argumentação: de modo algum é verdadeira – como… (o articulista não cita ninguém, só explica a postura!)

O autor descarta a primeira e a última posição como dependentes de crenças, e se situa em algum lugar entre a penúltima e a última. E explica que os pesquisadores estão preocupados, em geral, com o aspecto literário da questão quando perguntam o que foi encontrado no Templo, mas aqui, neste artigo, ele está preocupado com a questão histórica, ou seja, sua pergunta é se foi encontrado algum escrito no Templo. Ele diz que partilha da posição de K. L. Noll de que este é um “um conto muito estranho” (K.L. Noll, Canaan and Israel in Antiquity: an Introduction, Sheffield, 2001, p. 230). E ilustra esta esquisitice com uma leitura atenta do relato, cheio de incongruências.

David Henige levanta, em seguida, várias hipóteses sobre a época e o motivo porque tal livro teria sido “perdido” ou “escondido” no Templo. E rejeita todas as possibilidades já aventadas para explicar este fato, concluindo que “nenhuma teoria do desaparecimento do texto explica adequadamente a ocasião de sua (re)descoberta e nem a reação que ela provocou” (p. 12).

O autor acaba concluindo que temos apenas três possibilidades: um antigo manuscrito foi realmente descoberto; um novo manuscrito foi criado e “encontrado”; nada foi encontrado, mas o episódio tornou-se parte de uma elaboração etiológica. 

A primeira é a hipótese mais implausível e a mais difícil de ser aceita, a não ser que o relato bíblico sobre o anti-javista rei Manassés, avó de Josias, deva ser reavaliado, como muitos hoje estão fazendo (por exemplo: Francesca Stavrakopoulou, King Manasseh and Child Sacrifice: Biblical Distortions of Historical Realities, Berlin, 2004). 

A segunda hipótese é a mais difundida, não existindo argumento que possa rejeitá-la ou confirmá-la de modo inquestionável. 

A terceira hipótese é a mais econômica e a mais plausível, pois uma tal elaboração posterior serviria aos interesses de quem precisava confirmar o Deuteronômio como mosaico e canônico.

O autor, embora não esteja aqui buscando confirmar ou negar qualquer hipótese, mas apenas tentando entender os argumentos em jogo, acaba ficando com esta última quando diz: Even so, looking at the pragmatics of the case, rather than its linguistics or its theological agenda, leads inexorably to a single conclusion. The story of the finding of the “book of the law” in the Temple during the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah of Judah was a post-facto fabrication designed to lend legitimacy to the reforms being carried out at the time or to justify them retrospectively. To put it another way, it is more likely that the content of the text—whenever there actually came to be a text—conformed to the tenor of any reforms than the contrary (p. 16).

A conclusão do autor merece atenção. Ele diz que a descoberta de um “livro da lei” é um argumento e tanto para aqueles que defendem de unhas e dentes a historicidade das narrativas bíblicas, que poderiam argumentar: se um manuscrito pôde ser descoberto intacto depois de um longo período de dormência, não teriam outros manuscritos muito antigos sido preservados do mesmo modo e não teriam servido de fonte para os textos bíblicos?

Pois é. O autor não chegou, como já avisara, a nenhuma conclusão espantosa. Que, talvez, nem exista neste caso. Apenas lembro ao leitor que David Henige termina o seu artigo dizendo que o objetivo de uma historiografia crítica é estabelecer, a partir dos melhores critérios disponíveis, uma estrutura interpretativa sólida.

Finalizo, com uma lição que se tira desta leitura: historiadores devem trabalhar a partir de indícios que possam conduzir a evidências e não à simples reafirmação de assentadas crenças.

As principais dificuldades no estudo do Jesus Histórico

Se você se interessa pela questão do Jesus Histórico, vale a pena ler, de Mark Goodacre, o post Why is the Historical Jesus Quest so difficult?


Escrevendo em seu NT Gateway Weblog, este especialista em Novo Testamento da Universidade Duke, USA, diz que, na sua opinião, o estudo do Jesus Histórico é bastante difícil por 7 razões:

  • Faltam dados, ou seja, existe pouca coisa sobre Jesus antes do ano 30
  • Os dados existentes são prejudicados pelo viés cristão
  • As fontes são controvertidas, com diferentes avaliações dos especialistas
  • As fontes são, às vezes, contraditórias, dificultando a sua interpretação
  • Nossa distância dos dados é tão grande que projetamos nos textos nossos preconceitos
  • Há uma enorme literatura moderna sobre o assunto, dificultando ainda mais o estudo
  • Jesus é um personagem fundamental para muita gente e tudo o que se fala dele tende a se tornar objeto de controvérsia.

Algo realmente extravagante

Leia e avalie.

Using the ESV

Posted by Kevin A. Wilson – Blue Cord: January 20, 2007

A few weeks ago, I was trying to practice my PHP skills, so I decided to write a plugin for WordPress. The plugin was supposed to allow me to type something like [ESV=Leviticus 3:16] and have the plugin automatically replace the reference with the actual verse. The only feed I found was the English Standard Version, so I decided to use their service.

I got the plugin to work perfectly. After finishing it, however, I was at the ESV website and I noticed their terms of service. Most of it was pretty standard, but I did find one problematic section:

This service is available for use only by individuals and non-commercial organizations that use the service in ways consistent with the historic Christian understanding of doctrine and the Bible, as summarized in the following foundational doctrines. (See our statement of faith.)

. The Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God.
. There is one God, the Creator of all things, who exists eternally in three persons–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
. Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man; he died on the cross, rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, and will come again.
. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Most of this I can affirm with no problem. The inerrancy clause, however, means that I cannot use the service. I contacted them directly and asked for clarification, and they responded by saying that I do have to accept inerrancy in order to use the feed service.

I have no problem with the ESV people setting up guidelines for who may use their service. After all, I can imagine they wouldn’t want to provide the feed for people who are mocking the Bible or using it for other non-Christian activities. And, since it is their service, they of course have the right to set up any guidelines they want.

It seems to me, however, that limiting it to people who subscribe to inerrancy is limiting its use unnecessarily. For one thing, inerrancy is not a part of “the historic Christian understanding of doctrine and the Bible,” even though they claim this is the case. Do they really want to draw the circle so tightly? The Bible is a big boy; it can take care of itself. I don’t think it needs them to protect it from people who accept the inspiration and authority of the Bible but don’t hold inerrancy.

They have other guidelines that would allow me to cut and paste the ESV into my site, and those guidelines are not as restrictive. And I do have the ESV for Logos, so I could cut and paste with no problem. But if I am going to go to the trouble to open up Logos, I am going to cut and paste from the NRSV, which is a better translation anyway.

The long and short of this is that you will not be seeing the ESV automatically quoted on my website. However, if you are interested in the plugin and can abide by their guidelines, I would be happy to share it with you.

No site do PIB encontra-se boa bibliografia bíblica

Um bom endereço para bibliografia bíblica é a página de subsídios do Pontifício Instituto Bíblico (PIB), Roma. Ali podem ser encontradas, atualmente:

Jean Louis Ska (ed.) Bibliografia Basilare dell’AT/Old Testament Basic Bibliography

Jean Louis Ska (ed.) «Kit di sopravvivenza». Libri essenziali per studenti smarriti nella «selva oscura» dell’Antico Testamento

Stanislaw Bazylinski (ed.) Bibliografia Basilare del NT/New Testament Basic Bibliography

Há também as indicações de Joseph Sievers para o estudo de Qumran e de Flávio Josefo… estas, possivelmente, precisando de atualização!

Na bibliografia indicada pelo Ska está o livro do Cássio Murilo, Metodologia de Exegese Bíblica

Para quem tem interesse no estudo do Gênesis

Para quem tem vontade de conhecer melhor o livro do Gênesis e lê inglês, uma boa lista de comentários pode ser encontrada no Codex, de Tyler Williams. Perto de 40 comentários… publicados em inglês ou traduzidos para o inglês. De 1964 (Speiser) a 2005 (Mathews).

E, infelizmente, não há nenhum deles traduzido para o português, tanto quanto eu saiba. Mas posso estar enganado. Espero estar enganado. Pois é constrangedor ver como é limitada a nossa bibliografia! Ou será que todo estudante lê inglês, alemão e francês por aqui? Alguns comentários podem até ser encontrados em italiano e espanhol, línguas mais acessíveis para estudantes brasileiros, mas desde quando nossos estudantes costumam (ou podem!) comprar livros em italiano e espanhol? E nem ouso perguntar como estão nossas bibliotecas…

 

Commentaries on Genesis

Posted on Sunday 21 January 2007 by Tyler F. Williams

I am teaching an undergraduate course on the book of Genesis this semester, so I thought I would put together a post on what I consider some of the better commentaries on this foundational book of the Bible. I have focused on commentaries in English and have made recommendations for scholars, teachers and preachers, as well as students and lay people.

There are many good commentaries on the book of Genesis, though with Genesis — perhaps more so than other books — the critical commentaries can focus extensively on matters of historical-criticism. While this may be valuable for questions of authorship and the development of a book like Genesis, it doesn’t help with the interpretation of the final canonical form of the text. That being said, Claus Westermann‘s three-volume commentary is excellent, both for its engagement with the critical questions and matters of interpretation (and Speiser to a lesser degree). I also find Nahum Sarna‘s commentary to not only be beautifully typeset, but also rich in its dealing with the Hebrew text and Jewish interpretation. wenham_genesis.jpgFrom a more evangelical perspective, Gordon Wenham‘s masterful volumes are second to none. While Wenham is more concerned with literary and theological issues, he also engages most critical issues with scholarly responsibility. As such, Wenham is my choice for best overall commentary on Genesis.

Other good critical commentaries include Coats (somewhat limited by the nature of the FOTL series) and von Rad (a classic tradition-history commentary albeit somewhat sparse), while Brodie‘s literary analysis is interesting to say the least. For a conservative Jewish perspective on the opening chapters of Genesis check out Cassuto. In addition, for those interested in the history of the interpretation of this book, the volumes in the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture by Louth and Sheridan are worthy of careful perusal. Finally, Hermann Gunkel‘s ground breaking commentary on Genesis has been recently translated into English by Mark Biddle and is full of many insights for the assiduous reader.

For pastors and teachers, there are ample commentaries to choose from. Brueggemann, Cotter, Fretheim, Gangel, Hamilton, Mahthews, Ross, and Waltke are all good, though I would probably go with Hamilton if you are looking for one solid commentary written from an evangelical perspective. If you want a broader perspective, then both Brueggemann and Fretheim are excellent. While not a full commentary, Alter‘s translation is refreshing and his comments are also quite insightful.

More popular-level commentaries include Gowan, Hartley, Janzen, Kidner, Roop and Walton. I have used Roop as a textbook in the past and have quite liked its style and theological substance. I also find the ITCs by Gowan and Janzen quite insightful. And Kidner, of course, always provides solid exposition from an evangelical point of view. I have to say, however, that I have been nothing but impressed with John Walton‘s commentary in the NIV Application Commentary Series. While he may be a bit more on the conservative side of the spectrum, his knowledge and engagement of the ancient Near Eastern literary, cultural, and historical background to the book are evident on every page. I highly recommend his commentary for pastors, students, and laypeople alike.

Here is an (almost) exhaustive listing of commentaries on the book of Genesis in English:

Alter, Robert. Genesis: Translation and Commentary. W.W. Norton, 1996.
Brodie, Thomas L. Genesis as Dialogue: A Literary, Historical, & Theological Commentary. Oxford University Press, 2001.
Brueggemann, Walter. Genesis. Interpretation. John Knox, 1982.
Cassuto, U. From Adam to Noah: A Commentary on the Book of Genesis I-VI. Magnes Press, 1984.
Cassuto, U. From Adam to Noah: A Commentary on the Book of Genesis VII-XI. Magnes Press, 1984.
Coats, George W. Genesis, with an Introduction to Narrative Literature. Forms of the Old Testament Literature. Eerdmans, 1983.
Cotter, David W. Genesis. Berit Olam. Liturgical Press, 2003.
Davidson, Robert. Genesis 1-11. Cambridge Bible Commentary. Cambridge University Press, 1973.
Davidson, Robert. Genesis 12-50. Cambridge Bible Commentary. Cambridge University Press, 1973.
Fretheim, Terence. Genesis. New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. 1: Genesis to Leviticus. Abingdon, 1994. |
Gangel, Kenneth and Stephen Bramer. Genesis. Holman Old Testament Commentary. Broadman Holman, 2003.
Gibson, John. Genesis, vol. 1. Daily Study Bible. Westminster John Knox, 1981.
Gibson, John. Genesis, vol. 2. Daily Study Bible. Westminster John Knox, 1982.
Gowan, Donald E. From Eden to Babel: A Commentary on the Book of Genesis 1-11. International Theological Commentary. Eerdmans, 1988.
Gunkel, Hermann. Genesis. Mercer Library of Biblical Studies. Mercer University Press, 1997.
Hamilton, Victor P. The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17. New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Eerdmans, 1990.
Hamilton, Victor P. The Book of Genesis: Chapters 18-50. New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Eerdmans, 1994.
Hartley, John E. Genesis. New International Biblical Commentary: Old Testament. Hendrickson, 2000.
Janzen, J. Gerald. Abraham and All the Families of the Earth: A Commentary on the Book of Genesis 12-50. International Theological Commentary. Eerdmans, 1993.
Kessler, Martin, and Karel Adriaan Deurloo. A Commentary on Genesis: The Book of Beginnings. Paulist Press, 2004.
Kidner, Derek. Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. InterVarsity, 1967.
Louth, Andrew, and Marco Conti. Genesis 1-11. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament. InterVarsity, 2001.
Mathews, K. A. Genesis 1-11:26. New American Commentary. Broadman & Holman, 1996.
Mathews, Kenneth A. Genesis 11:27-50:26. New American Commentary. Broadman & Holman, 2005. |
Rad, Gerhard von. Genesis: A Commentary. Old Testament Library. Westminster Press, 1972.
Roop, Eugene F. Genesis. Believers Church Bible Commentary. Herald Press, 1987.
Ross, Allen P. Creation and Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition of the Book of Genesis. Baker, 1988.
Sailhammer, John H. Genesis. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 1: Genesis-Numbers. Zondervan, 1990.
Sarna, Nahum M. Genesis: The Traditional Hebrew Text with the New JPS Translation. JPS Torah Commentary. Jewish Publication Society, 1989.
Scullion SJ, John. Genesis: A Commentary for Students, Teachers and Preachers. Liturgical Press, 1992.
Sheridan, Mark. Genesis 12-50. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament. InterVarsity, 2002.
Speiser, E. A. Genesis: A New Translation with Commentary and Notes. Anchor Bible. Doubleday, 1964.
Towner, Wayne Sibley. Genesis. Westminster Bible Companion. Westminster John Knox, 2001.
Turner, Laurence A. Genesis. Sheffield Academic Press, 2000.
Waltke, Bruce K., and Cathi J. Fredricks. Genesis: A Commentary. Zondervan, 2001.
Walton, John H. Genesis. The NIV Application Commentary. Zondervan, 2001.
Wenham, Gordon J. Genesis 1-15. Word Biblical Commentary. Word, 1991.
Wenham, Gordon J. Genesis 16-50. Word Biblical Commentary. Word, 1994.
Westermann, Claus. Genesis 1-11: A Commentary. Continental Commentaries. Augsburg, 1984.
Westermann, Claus. Genesis 12-36: A Commentary. Continental Commentaries. Augsburg, 1985.
Westermann, Claus. Genesis 37-50: A Commentary. Continental Commentaries. Augsburg, 1986.
Westermann, Claus. Genesis: A Practical Commentary. Text and Interpretation. Eerdmans, 1987.

 

Tyler Williams está indicando também os comentários ao Gênesis que serão publicados brevemente.

Confira

Forthcoming Commentaries on Genesis

Posted on Sunday 28 January 2007 by Tyler F. Williams

In a comment on my previous post on commentaries on the book of Genesis, John Hobbins of Ancient Hebrew Poetry fame noted the value of Skinner’s ICC volume on Genesis (and he’s right, I should have at least listed it!). He also mentioned Ronald Hendel’s forthcoming commentary on Genesis for the Anchor Bible series (replacing Speiser). If Hendel’s work The Text of Genesis 1-11 (Oxford University Press, 1998; ) is any indication, his Anchor Bible commentary will be the top critical commentary available on Genesis for years to come (or at least until Clifford’s Hermeneia volume is published!).

Here is a listing of other forthcoming commentaries on the book of Genesis:

Bill Arnold. New Cambridge Bible Commentary (Cambridge University Press). A popular series based on the NRSV aimed at Pastors and laypeople. This volume is still in progress and won’t be published for a few years.
David Baker. Apollos Old Testament Commentary (Apollos/InterVarsity Press). A semi-popular series based on the author’s own translation of the Hebrew text. This volume is several years down the road.
Erhard Blum. Historical Commentary on the Old Testament (Peeters). The title of this series is a bit misleading if you are expecting a history of interpretation. The series is more of a historical-critical commentary aimed at scholars and ministers.
Richard Clifford. Hermeneia (Fortress). This is one of the premier critical commentaries available in English (and it’s beautifully typeset). If Clifford’s volume on The Creation Accounts in the Ancient Near East and in the Bible (Catholic Biblical Association, 1994; ) is any indication, this should be a very good critical commentary. It is at least three years from publication.
Blackwell Bible Commentaries (Blackwell). This series looks more at the reception history of the book under study. As such it is of primary interest to scholars and teachers. This one was assigned to Danna Fewell and Gary Phillips, but they have since dropped out and I don’t think the commentary has been reassigned yet (at least there is no indication on the Blackwell site)
Duane Garrett. Kregel Expository Commentary on the Old Testament (Kregel; note the title of the series is still tentative). This is a conservative evangelical series geared for pastors and laypeople. Garrett is author of Rethinking Genesis, The Sources and Authorship of the First Book of the Pentateuch (Baker Book, 1991), which I reviewed a number of years back. The commentary is at least two years from completion.
Ronald S. Hendel. Anchor Bible (2 volumes, Doubleday). The new volumes in this series are excellent critical commentaries. The first volume on Genesis 1-11 should be available in 2008 if everything goes according to schedule.
Theodore Hiebert. Abingdon Old Testament Commentary (Abingdon). A popular series aimed at pastors and laypeople.
Kathleen M. O’Connor. Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary (Smyth & Helwys). This is a unique series aimed at pastors and laypeople that includes insightful sidebars, fine art visuals, and a CD-Rom containing all the text and images of the volume in a searchable format. This volume will be a while since she is just getting underway with it.
Russell R. Reno. Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible (Brazos/Baker). A series designed to serve the church; appropriate for pastors, teachers, and laypeople. This volume may be available in late 2008.
John H. Sailhamer. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Rev. (Zondervan). This volume is scheduled to be released in June 2008.

Most of these commentaries are a number of years off. The only ones which I am not sure of any potential publication date are the Hiebert and Blum volumes. So it looks like we’ll have to make due with what we already have!

The Bible Unearthed: ultima parte

Leia, no biblioblog do Jim West, a última parte da resenha do documentário.

The Bible Unearthed: The DVD- A 4 Part Review– Part 4 [Obs.: blog apagado – 22.03.2008]
Jim, em sua avaliação final, diz: These 4 episodes are excellent. Indeed, I commend the DVD to you most heartily. It is the best done of all its genre that I have yet seen (…) This presentation will teach your students and interested layfolk more about the Bible and more about archaeology than most will learn in a lifetime. Its beauty and its strength is that it yokes text and artifact together correctly, and not in the ill mannered fashion of the “biblical archaeology” movement.