02 September 2009

'To Those Who Love the Holy Scriptures'—New Biblical Studies Acquisitions


It’s been a while since I reported on book acquisitions, so I thought a partial update might be in order. As I have mentioned before, my reading of the excellent blogs of Kevin Edgecomb and Esteban Vázquez has impressed upon me the terrible inadequacy of my biblical studies library. For this reason, I have tried to acquire a few things in this area whenever the right book comes along at the right price. Since the last book post, I’ve found four.

1) Alexander Cruden, Cruden’s Useful Concordance of the Holy Scriptures, Comprising Most of the References Which Are Really Needed (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1975). This is an abridgement of Cruden’s Concordance, about which, if the reader is not familiar, please see this excellent post at biblicalia. My copy is not nearly so exquisite as that which Kevin describes, being merely an old mass-market paperback, but hey, it was $.75! Unfortunately, it does not contain the entry for ‘Aaron’ (according to Kevin, the definition he gives, ‘charming’ in its ‘oddity’, is ‘signifies lofty or mountain of strength or a teacher’), nor indeed for any proper names. It does, on the other hand, contain a little appendix of various handy factoids. One chart, called ‘Curious Calculation’, lists the numbers of books, chapters, verses, words, letters, with middles, shortests, etc., and concludes, ‘This calculation occupied three years. It is more curious than useful’ (p. 344). Finally, here is Cruden’s brief introduction to his own work:

The Compiler of this Concordance indulges the hope that it will be found very useful to those who love the Holy Scriptures. It comprehends many more References than there are in several cheap Concordances now extant. Some of them are very deficient in references to evangelical passages, and to those bearing on faith and practice. To these the Compiler has paid particular attention, and he has included nearly the whole of such references. (p. 5)

2) Adele Berlin, The Dynamics of Biblical Parallelism (Bloomington, IN: Indiana U, 1992). I have wanted some sort of study on parallelism for a while now, having been forced in this post, for instance, to rely upon the meagre notes in my HarperCollins Study Bible to comment on this feature of biblical literature. Thus, I was rather thrilled to find this at Half Price Books. I started reading a bit of it in the bathroom tonight (I suppose no one will want to borrow my copy now!), and already discovered a fascinating discussion of prose vs. poetry beginning on p. 3. On p. 4, Berlin makes the following statement, which I will very much enjoy seeing her demonstrate: ‘The truth is, as linguists have shown (cf. Hiatt and Werth), that parallelism is not in and of itself a mark of poetry as opposed to prose, or even of elevated style as opposed to ordinary discourse; it is a common feature of all language. And yet, as we will soon see, in a certain sense parallelism is the essence of poetry.’

3) Alan J. Hauser and Duane F. Watson, eds., A History of Biblical Interpretation, Vol. 1: The Ancient Period (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003). This was a wonderfully serendipitous find! At one point, I had stopped paying attention to the religion section at Half Price Books, since I had fairly well memorised its contents. But just on the off-chance, I took a look. Having glanced a bit, I was just about to leave when I turned and looked behind me at biblical studies, and there it was! This volume covers exegesis from that within the Tanak, to the Septuagint, Philo, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Rabbinic literature, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, the New Testament, the Fathers, and the Gnostics. My one complaint is that there is nothing on the Cappadocians, aside from the most incidental passing reference to St Gregory of Nyssa.

4) Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan, eds., The Oxford Guide to the Bible (Oxford: Oxford U, 1993). I found this one in the bargain section at Borders for $9.98. I was sorely lacking a comprehensive biblical reference, and was quite pleased at this. In addition to articles on particular features of the biblical text itself, there are also such articles as ‘Ethics’, ‘Freud and the Bible’, and ‘Letter-writing in Antiquity’. I must admit that it was a bit jarring to me, who am not used to biblical scholarship, to read the article on ‘Aaron’ (by a Benedictine—Aelred Cody, OSB) and see the extent to which the historical-critical approach predominates here, so that Aaron is a literary figure portrayed differently in various strata of the biblical text rather than an historical prophet who simply was this or that or did this or that (p. 3). Also, while I find nothing particularly wrong with his article, I would have liked to see someone more respectable write the article, ‘Eastern Orthodoxy and the Bible’ (pp. 174-76), than the author of the lamentable, Marriage, Sexuality, Celibacy: A Greek Orthodox View—Demetrios J. Constantelos. I am sure I will find this book more useful than that, but next time, wouldn’t it be neat to have an article on this topic by Fr John Behr, for instance?

P.S. I dedicate this post to my new biblical studies friend, this one made in person rather than online (he does have a defunct blog here, however). Ivan, I hope to see much more of you in the near future!

4 comments:

Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

Lucky finds, all!

It sounds like a very early edition of Cruden's Concordance that you have there. That section on "curious" facts sounds delightful!

That reminds me to finish transcribing the "Life of Cruden" and post that puppy.

Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

Oh, and you wrote: I must admit that it was a bit jarring to me, who am not used to biblical scholarship, to read the article on ‘Aaron’ (by a Benedictine—Aelred Cody, OSB) and see the extent to which the historical-critical approach predominates here, so that Aaron is a literary figure portrayed differently in various strata of the biblical text rather than an historical prophet who simply was this or that or did this or that (p. 3).

It's a pity, isn't it? There should not be any jarring involved for a reader unfamiliar with this stuff looking to this book (or any other) as a resource. If anything, a proper presentation would follow the narrative-historical development through the books of the Bible, in the way that any normal person would read it. All that "historical critical" (sneer quotes, for it is neither) stuff should be given separately, so that it's easily skipped.

But it is as insistent an doctrine to enforce the conversion of the masses to the "historical critical" program as it is to avoid the supernatural origins of the events and the text! Foolish, soul-killing, ugly dreck.

So, let that be a lesson to you to keep up your guard at all times, particularly when beginning to read anything coming from the generally approved set of academically unquestionable sources. That invariably means that they're going to be less than helpful spiritually, and generally behind the times in terms of literary approach. They've got their own academic cul de sac, and are doing wheelies in it 'til the lights go out.

Justin said...

Excellent finds! I'm happy you were able to find these. Good graphic too!

aaronandbrighid said...

Justin> As I recall, you had a pretty good find at Half Price Books recently too. What was that again?