those who have read about Hikmat Kachouh’s research, featured in
our Research Profile section, might be
interested in his article published in Novum
Testamentum 50 (1). 2008. 28-57., Hikmat argues that contrary to
the perception that Arabic New Testament manuscripts have little to offer
those interested in studying the early forms these texts took, they
have much to contribute to our understanding of “the history of the
transmission of the text, as well as to enhancing our knowledge of the
supports his argument with an examination of a fascinating, but little
known, eighth/ninth century manuscript Codex
Sinaiticus Arabicus (CSA) found at St Catherine’s Monastery. CSA is
one of the oldest surviving Arabic Gospel manuscripts and includes all
four Gospels, a sermon (In natalem
Christi diem) by St John Chrysostom, a canon of the Apostles and a
sermon for monks. The codex is a palimpsest document where the parchment
has already been used and its previous writing erased. In many places the
original writing in Greek, Latin and Arabic can still be read. What makes
the codex unique is that many of its folios are made up of small pieces of
parchment – sometimes as many as four or five pieces - painstakingly
sewn together which, at times, creates a patchwork effect. Hikmat notes
that this must have been an endeavour which required hard work and
codex presents a number of variant readings, some of which suggest an
agreement with very early versions. For example, the CSA at Luke 16:19
(the parable of the rich man and Lazarus) includes the name of the rich
man (Nineveh) which can also be found in the third century papyrus
manuscript P75. Following a textual analysis of two hundred and
thirty readings from the Gospel of Luke, Hikmat demonstrates how at many
places the text of CSA differs from the Majority Text and “agrees with
some of the earliest Greek traditions as well as ancient versions.”
archaeological finds in Philistia might help to answer a number of
(probably unspoken) questions raised in the listener’s mind when hearing
the account of
Taking the two central motifs in the ‘Ark Narrative’ - religion and sickness – Aren connects these with some intriguing archaeological finds. Aren observes that recent excavations have helped to bring to light hitherto unknown aspects to Philistine religious practice. Among the artefacts recovered are a number of bronze and ceramic phalli which, as Aren notes, although fairly common within Egyptian religious iconography, is relatively rare in ancient Semitic iconography. If Aren is correct in making this connection, one can begin to understand the different levels on which this account works. The affliction literally (as Aren suggests) ‘hit the Philistines below the belt.’ However it was not only humiliating and humorous (to the reader), it subverted elements within the Philistine cultic system of belief. Furthermore, the forced offering of these gold phalli (which are now unproblematic as representational items) also re-enforced the dominancy of YHWH over the Philistines’ gods; a cultic expression of Philistine culture would become a caricature of their humiliating defeat.
Almost anyone who has attended Sunday School or regularly listens to sermons will be aware of Paul's instruction to put on the armour of God (Eph 6:13-17). One of the items to which Paul refers is the 'breastplate of righteousness' (v.14). However, it is unclear if Paul means that it is God's righteousness or our own righteousness which will act as a breastplate.
Writing in the Tyndale Bulletin. 58 (2). 2007. 275-287., David Wenkel seeks to answer this question which has exercised theologians for centuries. David notes that as far back as 1643 Paul Bayne was discussing three possible interpretations of this phrase: (1) A righteousness imputed by faith, (2) A righteousness which was inherent in the believer and (3) A righteousness of "course, or conversation or worke").
However, David summarises the possible interpretations as:
David examines the use of the armour/weaponry metaphor in Paul's writing (Rom 6:13, 13:12; 2 Cor 6:4 and 7b, 10:4; 1 Thess 5:8). Here he notes that, although there is a certain flexibility in the use of specific armour, there is a general consistency in how it relates to the inherent (rather than imputed) virtues of the believer. David then explores the direct source of the 'breastplate metaphor'; Is 59:17. Here again, David suggests that the righteousness relates to the virtue of the wearer (YHWH).
David argues that in order to understand what Paul meant in this passage it is important to understand how the entire armour functions. The key to this, he claims, is found in Paul's exhortation to the believer to the "be strong in the Lord" (v.10). The Greek construction suggests that it can be read as a passive - in other words: "be strengthened in the power of the Lord." David concludes that, whilst the righteousness that acts as a protection is the internal virtue of the believer, Paul understands that such righteousness is made possible by the strength of the Lord.
It is very easy to let our own
presuppositions and expectations cloud our reading of a
text. Ellen White’s article in the Journal
for the Study of the Old Testament. 31 (4). 2007. 451-464.,
exposes this danger in our reading of the wife of King David, Michal.
Ellen observes that although Queen Michal is often seen critically and
negatively, the light in which she is actually presented is not wholly
hostile. In fact, she notes that, within the rabbinic tradition, Michal is
praised more than rebuked.
By examining key incidents which refer
to Michel alongside commentator’s analyses, Ellen demonstrates that,
often, the way Michal is depicted (which is generally negative) is not
substantiated in the actual text. She argues that much of our
interpretation of Michal stems from our unwillingness to attribute moral
failings to David; failings which are overt, as well as alluded to, within
the text itself (sexual impropriety). Instead, Ellen presents are far more
rounded picture of both Michal and David, suggesting that Michal is not
the “idol-worshipping shrew” that she is so often presented as, nor is
David the “ideal man;” both are human who exhibit “human failings
and inadequacies”. Consequently, this wholly negative reading of Michal
is ironic particularly, as Ellen concludes, as she is described as loving
David and as protecting him (his life and reputation) on at least two
Have you noticed a curious feature in the book of Revelation (5:5-6) where John is instructed by one of the elders to see a lion, but in fact sees a lamb?
it is the image of the lamb, rather than lion that is subsequently
retained in reference to the Messiah/Christ. Brent Strawn argues that this switch in imagery (from lion to lamb) is
well known but often “un(der)explained”. His article, in the Journal
for the Study of the
(1). 2007. 37-74., surveys
leonine imagery occurring in early Jewish and Christian literature outside
of, and following, the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and then sets out to
explain possible reasons for this shift in imagery.
notes that the lamb is a powerful and important image and plays a crucial
role in its message; however, it does not explain why the image of lion
(so quickly dropped in reference to the Christ figure) was introduced in
the first place. Brent’s survey presents bipolarity to the leonine
imagery being used to represent, righteous/evil, human/supernatural, the
divine/demonic. It also has been used to portray the Jewish nation as well
as individual tribes, but also Israel's enemies; demonic attacks as well as
divine judgements. The sheer range of associative meanings can create ambiguity
when attempting to convey precise meaning. Brent
concludes that, although there are many instances of the lion being
presented as a positive image (which is how it functions in Rev 5:5), its associated meanings were simply too ambivalent for it to be
able to be used it in a consistent manner without the fear of
misinterpretation. The author safeguards his message from this danger by
switching to the lamb motif and image which did not possess the range of
Over the years familiar images can sometimes lose their potency with the result that their meaning can be obscured. The depiction in Daniel 4:33 of king Nebuchadnezzar is a case in point, often being presented in terms of the comic figure of Bottom in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. However, Christopher Hays' article in the Journal of Biblical Literature 126 (2) 305-325., provides a healthy corrective to this type of reading.
Countering the idea that Nebuchadnezzar is depicted in tragi-comic terms or suffering from some kind of madness, his article places this account within the literary context of the Ancient Near East. Although, in the past various attempts have tried to explain Nebuchadnezzar's affliction (including Lycanthropy), Christopher notes that recently all, but the most technical, commentaries tend to skip over this feature. Nevertheless, this passage suggests parallels with those found in Akkadian literature. Christopher argues that the animal images in Daniel 4 (bull, eagle and song-bird) were closely linked to, and were often used to, portray figures (gods, demons, spirits of the dead) of the Mesopotamian Underworld. Here, like Nebuchadnezzar, the victims would begin to take on the (animal-like) characteristics of their afflicters. Christopher concludes that rather than referring to a kind of madness, this imagery presents Nebuchadnezzar suffering from demonic assault at the hand of God.
Christopher then asserts that the use of the first person indicates that the setting of Daniel reflects the genre of prayer, lament and thanksgiving - particularly as found in the Psalms. In this way, Daniel 'co-opts' this set of images and places them within a 'hymnic' genre. Christopher acknowledges that the portrait of Nebuchdnezzar may appear strange to the modern reader, however, the "movement from affliction to salvation to thanksgiving would have been familiar to a people shaped by praying the psalms."