Category Archives: ANE

Review: A Manual of Ugaritic (Bordreuil and Pardee)

A Manual of Ugaritic

Many thanks to Jim Eisenbraun (and Gina Hannah) for sending me a copy of EisenbruansA Manual of Ugaritic (by Pierre Bordreuil and Dennis Pardee) to review.

Anyone who teaches or studies Ugaritic will want to take a serious look at adding this book to his or her collection of resources. I had high hopes for this book and I was not disappointed.

The manual was first published as Manuel d’Ougaritique in 2004 (by Librairie Orientaliste Paul Geuthner S. A.). This 2009 edition not only provides an English translation, but also incorporates corrections, modifications (of some grammatical presentations and also some text interpretations), and updates to the bibliography. The authors note in the preface that the “most important of the modifications is in the presentation of the verbal system particular to poetry.”
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New book to add to my list

Reframing Biblical StudiesJust received the weekly BookNews email from Eisenbrauns (the last one for 2009). I’ve got quite a reading list going right now, but this new release has really caught my eye and will be something I will want to read in the not-too-distant future: Reframing Biblical Studies: When Language and Text Meet Culture, Cognition, and Context by Ellen J. Van Wolde.

This is the publisher blurb:

Until recently, biblical studies and studies of the written and material culture of the ancient Near East have been fragmented, governed by experts who are confined within their individual disciplines’ methodological frameworks and patterns of thinking. The consequence has been that, at present, concepts and the terminology for examining the interaction of textual and historical complexes are lacking.

However, we can learn from the cognitives sciences. Until the end of the 1980s, neurophysiologists, psychologists, pediatricians, and linguists worked in complete isolation from one another on various aspects of the human brain. Then, beginning in the 1990s, one group began to focus on processes in the brain, thereby requiring that cell biologists, neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, linguists, and other relevant scientists collaborate with each other. Their investigation revealed that the brain integrates all kinds of information; if this were not the case, we would not be able to catch even a glimpse of the brain’s processing activity.

By analogy, van Wolde’s proposal for biblical scholarship is to extend its examination of single elements by studying the integrative structures that emerge out of the interconnectivity of the parts. This analysis is based on detailed studies of specific relationships among data of diverse origins, using language as the essential device that links and permits expression. This method can be called a cognitive relational approach.

Van Wolde bases her work on cognitive concepts developed by Ronald Langacker. With these concepts, biblical scholars will be able to study emergent cognitive structures that issue from biblical words and texts in interaction with historical complexes. Van Wolde presents a method of analysis that biblical scholars can follow to investigate interactions among words and texts in the Hebrew Bible, material and nonmaterial culture, and comparative textual and historical contexts. In a significant portion of the book, she then exemplifies this method of analysis by applying it to controversial concepts and passages in the Hebrew Bible (the crescent moon; the in-law family; the city gate; differentiation and separation; Genesis 1, 34; Leviticus 18, 20; Numbers 5, 35; Deuteronomy 21; and Ezekiel 18, 22, 33).

Cultural relevance

I’m wondering about blindspots when it comes to “seeing” our own culture.

First, I wonder about how much Western/Anglo culture affects international translation efforts when the tools for translation are in English and generated (for the most part) by the Western Church. Is a layer of interpretation inserted between the Ancient Hebrew text and the target/receptor language and text? I think that sometimes (not always) we tend to miss just how “foreign” our own English translations are from the original text. I think most people would agree that the best situation is generating a translation from the Hebrew directly into the target language, but this is rarely the case (for lots of different reasons). What best practices will help to appropriately use the current tools, and what is the way forward?

Second, I am surprised by the ability (of some) to accept the need for accommodation to communicate the ancient text (i.e. the Hebrew Bible) into a tribal or remote language so that it is contextually appropriate and understandable, and yet have resistance to allowing modern English translations to likewise reflect their current culture in a meaningful way. Is there a blindspot to our own situated-ness?

Michael Fox discusses his commentary on Proverbs

Michael Fox discussed the second volume of his commentary on Proverbs with a group of bibliobloggers gathered at a dinner hosted by John Hobbins at the Deutsches Haus in New Orleans. Great food, fellowship, fun and discussion. The evening benefited Jericho Road, a charity rebuilding community after Katrina. I’ll post more about this fine evening later.


James McGrath just posted his thoughts on the difference between “Deuteronomistic” and “Deuteronomic” history (and explains why he prefers Deuteronomic History) at Exploring Our Matrix.

Well, when we were in seminary, my husband* and I (and a few of our friends, whose names I have kept anonymous for their own protection…unless they want to claim their brilliance in the comments below) had some late nights studying such material which yielded the following list. We hope you won’t find them too Deuteronomiculous.

Deuteronomania: an obsession with finding deuteronomical historical references.
Deuteronomonopoeia: all the references to “Babel” in the Old Testament
Deuteronomaly: a deuteronomomic reference that just shouldn’t be there
Deuteronomalicious: the attitude of opponents of the theory of deuteronomical history
Deuteronomono! What Saul yelled as he lept onto his own sword.
Deuterognome: little idol statues found on Israelite front lawns.
Deuterognostic: a pre-pre-pre-Christian cult; responsible for every lie in The Da Vinci Code.
Deuteronomocalifragilisticexpialidocious: If you say it loud enough, you might seem precocious!
Deuteronomalignant: that sick feeling you have the day after your OT exam when you realize you left the most obvious points about DH off your exam essay.
Deuteronomaniac: a DH geek.
Deuteronomesticated: the condition of a former Deuteronomaniac who has just lost interest, to the extent that he no longer sends daily emails to his friends with the subject line: “Those Crazy Redactors, Look What They’re Up to Now!”
Deuteronomolicious! That tasty sensation of being done forever with Old Testament History and theology!
Deuteronomasia: making up plays on words based on the word Deuteronomy
DeuteronoMiss: the female redactor of the DH, who is responsible for the intriguing stories, in Judges, of women who put men to shame (Jael/Sisera; Deborah/Barak; Abimelech/that lady with the millstone; Delilah/Samson, etc).
Deuteronomystical: the ecstatic, trancelike state that a person reaches after reading 2,000 pages of OT scholarship in two weeks as preparation for the final.
Deuteronomastication: what the neighbor’s dog did with my OT notes the day after the final.
Deuteronomerchant: someone who makes their living writing and selling books about the DtH.
Deuteronomercenary: the soldier who takes holy war just a little too far.
Deuteronomishizzolist:South side. Holla.
I always try to do unto others as I would have them Deuternomy
Deuteronymy (1) when both authors of a work assume fictitious names (e.g., the secret Gospel of Jannes and Jambres that David Brown has yet to get his hands on) (2) The figure of speech only found in semitic languages where the dual form of one noun stands for another noun associated with it (go figure).
Deuteroewy: accidently stepping in someone else’s business.
Deuteronomiserable: Trying to remember the difference between Deuteronomic and Deuteronomistic.
Deuteronomystery: Why couldn’t they have come up with a really different word for one or the other?
Deuteronautic: the lost laws of ship-building believed to be original to the book of Deutoronomy.
Deuteronauticalist: 2 Kings laws of ship-building which forbade off-shore sacrifices, laying the basis for the later theonomic application to sanctioning riverboat gamblers by execution.
Deuteronaughty: adjective describing one who has broken Deuteronomic law. e.g., “Israel was sent into exile because they had been very Deuteronaughty.”
DeuteronoMac: A brand of theology that used to be available in small, medium and large sizes; now you can only get it in large, Supersize, and Megasupersize (cf. OT reading list)
DeuteronoMac (alternate version): A version of the Deuteronomic Law not as widespread as DeuteronoWindows. It did seem to function better, however, across a wide variety of contextualizations. It was even able to sychronize with the IotaPod during the hellenized 2nd Temple period.
Deuteronomasochist – one who subjects himself to reading hundreds of pages of painful OT theology
Deuteronosadist – one who requires said theology for reading
Deuteronomonastic -someone who spends so much time studying DH that he might as well live in a cave somewhere
Deuteronomnemonic: a cognitive tool for memorizing obscure deutoronomic facts based on catchy word play

*Many thanks to my husband, Mark Traphagen, who blogs at The League of Inveterate Poets for letting me post this silliness here.

The Building of the first of our Gardens

I’ve taken a break from writing this week to begin the task of putting in gardens in our yard. In a sense, we not only began to build utilitarian vegetable gardens but also the beginning of  my very own  kirimahu (ok, so I’m not an ANE King, and I haven’t conquered any foreign realms recently, but I have begun to set some things in order, so I think it is okay for me to begin to plan and plant my own “pleasure garden”). If this last sentence confused you (and you’ll also have to ignore the fact that apparently WordPress is removing the diacritics), then ignore it. If you are vaguely interested, then Doug Green’s forthcoming book “I Undertook Great Works”: The Ideology of Domestic Achievements in West Semitic Royal Inscriptions should be added to your reading list (and it has ALL the diacritics).

Now, on to an annotated photojournal of how we built several garden beds this week.

garden 2009

We started off with a semi-level area of the yard that gets good sunlight. I dug in a frame of cinder blocks that would be 3 ft by 10 ft. We chose cinder blocks so that we could reposition or enlarge the garden bed in the future with less difficulty.
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