Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Brooke on Book by Cook (et al.)

G. J. Brooke reviews The Dead Sea Scrolls Concordance, Vol. I, on which I was a collaborator, in the Society for Old Testament Study Book List 2004: "a magnificent achievement." Thank you, George! He also says, "I have not yet found any errors." Well, keep looking, you will. Not many, I hope.

We are currently working on Vol. 2, a concordance of the biblical texts.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Martin Abegg with James Bowley and Edward Cook, The Dead Sea Scrolls Concordance. I. The Non-Biblical Texts from Qumran. Leiden: Brill, 2003.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Bibliographical Note

For what it's worth, the newest issue of Near Eastern Archaeology has published my "Forgery Indictments and BAR: Learning from Hindsight," as well as other contributions to the SBL Forum that originally appeared on-line in March 2005. You can read it for free by finding the proper link on the right-hand side of this blog.

Fans of "Ralph" will recall that the article had its origin in a series of posts here in 2004-2005.

I'm a little ambivalent about the long Nachleben of this piece. It is not my career ambition to become known principally as an antagonist of Hershel Shanks, a man I like personally and respect professionally. Nevertheless, I think the points I made were important and I stand by them.

By the way, the magazine identifies me as "Research Consultant, West Semitic Research Project," which was true in March 2005, but now is not. (The grant under which I was working for WSRP has expired.) I should stress that the viewpoint of my article is not necessarily that of the WSRP.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Edward M. Cook, "The Forgery Indictments and BAR: Learning from Hindsight," Near Eastern Archaeology 68/1-2 March-June 2005 [appeared 2006], pp. 73-75.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Here and There on a Monday

Father's Day: This weekend my lovely children took me to see Nacho Libre, which we all enjoyed hugely, unlike most critics. Since my daughter is getting married in August (to an excellent young man) and moving to California (where she will begin doctoral studies at Stanford), this may be the last Father's Day for a while for us all to be together. *sniff*

ECUSA: Looks like dark days in the ECUSA for orthodoxy. The Episcopalian Church is well on its way to becoming Unitarianism, With Mass. Am I concerned about Katherine, our new presiding bishop? Yes. Not because she's a woman — that's no big deal — but because her respect for Scripture and tradition seems to be weak, as far as I can tell. The leftists in the denomination, as this example shows, are not even bothering to pretend to be nice anymore.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Facing the Caboose: Time-Orientation in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Aymara

An interesting story in Language Log about the Aymara language, which is reported to have a "reverse concept" of time, i.e. the past is considered "in front," while the future is considered "behind." Apparently other Asian and Pacific languages have the same feature.

It should be noted that Hebrew and Aramaic also have this perspective, to some extent. Observe, for instance, Biblical Hebrew yemei qedem, days of old/of long past; the word qedem incorporates the root q-d-m, meaning basically "to be in front of." And every beginning Hebrew student will know of the prepositions אחר and אחרי, which have a spatial meaning, "behind," and a temporal meaning, "after, afterwards, in the future."

In Aramaic, the situation is similar. Something that happened "previously" or "a long time ago" is said to have occurred (min) le-qadmin, using the cognate root q-d-m mentioned above; the preposition qodam "before, in front of" is well-known. In early Aramaic, the root אחר is also used to denote both "behind" and "futurity," but its use fades in later dialects in favor of the neologism bathar "after" (from b + athar, "in place of").

This is not a complete survey of all the time-related words and expressions in Aramaic and Hebrew, but it's enough to show that, cross-linguistically, Aymara is not alone. There is a certain psychological aptness to this system, in that what is in front of one can be seen, while that which is behind cannot be seen. In this respect, the past, which is known and visible, is like the front view, while the future — unseen and unknown — is like the unseen vista behind one's back. It's like sitting on a train facing the caboose.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

ECUSA fiddles while Bible burns

At the Episcopal Convention in Columbus, they've already had a U2-charist, a communion service featuring the music of (although not the actual voices of) U2. Apparently it triggered

a joyous celebration in response to the Episcopal Church embracing the goals set forth by the United Nations: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, ensure environmental sustainability and create a global partnership for development.

Well, whoop-de-do. Yep, those are all good things, I guess. But pardon me for questioning whether the Episcopalians (of which I am one, at least for now) ought to be joyously rubber-stamping vague UN "goals." Did Christ say, "Go ye into all the world and achieve universal primary education"? For all I know, some of the bishops may think exactly that. You never can tell with Episcopalian bishops.

Dear God, how the ECUSA could use a good swift kick in the pants right about now. I doubt whether anyone will give it to them.

Monday, June 05, 2006

June 6: A beastly day?

Lots of mindless tittle-tattle on the Internet concerning the date tomorrow — 6/6/06. Ooooh! Isn't that the Number of the Beast, according to Revelation 13:18? What if something happens?

Fear not. The number of the beast is not 666 ("six six six"), it's six hundred and sixty-six. There's nothing ominous about the number 6 three times in a row; that's just the way we write that particular number in Western arithmetic. Is there anything scary about DCLXVI (= six hundred sixty-six in Roman numerals)?

Plus, it's not completely clear that 666 is the original number of the beast (see here), although it probably is.