Biblical Studies and Exegesis
Issue №36, pp. 230–248
Jesus’ high priesthood and its superiority over the Levite priesthood is a unique and important theme of Hebrews. The central argument in the discussion about the superiority of Jesus’ high priesthood is the Melchizedekian argument of chapter 7. In this chapter the author uses Gen 14:18–20, Ps 110, and some Jewish traditions about Melchizedek. Some of these texts portray him as a historical figure, while others depict him as an eschatological image. This article investigates the Jewish traditions about Melchizedek from the Second Temple period and explores how they are used in Hebrews. Then, the article shows how Melchizedek’s figure works in the author’s argument about the superiority of Jesus’ high priesthood. It demonstrates that the author of Hebrews is interested in Melchizedek’s figure not only as a real person of the past or the future, but rather more as the likeness of Christ and the unique biblical image of a person who is simultaneously both a king and a high priest. Such a typology plays an important role in the author’s theological chain, which also includes other Old Testament images and characters, working metaphorically and shaping a multifaceted image of Christ as both God and human, priest and sacrifice, messianic king and perfect high priest. Further study of these metaphors in the context of modern metaphor theories can be a productive continuation of this research and can help us better understand the interpretive method of the author of Hebrews.
Keywords: Bible, Hebrews, Melchizedek, Second Temple, Philo, Josephus, Enoch, Qumran typology.
“For a Human Being”, “for the Human Being” or “for Adam?” (Gen 2:20)
Issue №30, pp. 28–39
This article discusses the question of the interpretation and translation of the Hebrew ’adam in the Masoretic text of Genesis 2–3. Most often this word occurs with a definite article, but in Gen 2:20; 3:17, 21, where it is used with an inseparable preposition le, the article is absent. Does it indicate an inconsistency in the Masoretic vocalization system? Should we understand this word without the article as a “human being” or as the name “Adam”? Barthelemy compares it with similar cases that deal with terms ’élōhîm, tofet, ba’al and with the overall use of the article in Hebrew poetry. He comes to the conclusion that hâ’âdâm, which is a construction with the article, is the most ancient one. The article was used to emphasize the human being who was created by God. Le’âdâm, which is a construction without the article, was a kind of “innovation”, as it indicates that at a certain point before the LXX was created this word was already perceived as a proper name.
Barthelemy suggests that ’adam can be translated in several ways. If we want to preserve the most ancient understanding of the text, we need to translate it as “the human being” regardless of presence or absence of the article. However, if we want to point out the interpretation of this text, which had arisen probably since the time of the Exile, we have to translate it as “Adam” everywhere. Barthelemy stresses that, in any case, le’âdâm cannot be translated simply as “for a human being”.
Keywords: Masoretic text, Genesis, Jahwist, vocalization, article, inseparable preposition, God, Adam, human being, altar, Baal.
“Quest for the Historical Jesus”: Beyond the Impasse?
Issue №12, pp. 11–33
For the last few centuries, the Quest for the historical Jesus has attempted to go behind the Gospels and provide a historical reconstruction of a “real Jesus”. These attempts were not successful: Instead of a single reconstruction, scholars suggested dozens of mutually exclusive scenarios. One reason for the lack of consensus is the absence of clear methodological criteria. As a result, the contemporary Quest found itself in a deep crisis. Some scholars moved into total scepticism. At the same time, we witness a Renaissance of efforts in establishing the historical reliability of the Gospels: a number of exegetes managed to advance fresh arguments which bear enormous significance for mission and apologetics, as well as theology and biblical studies.
Keywords: Jesus, Quest for the historical Jesus, Gospels.
Generation of Jewish Apocalyptics: Problems of the Genre Definition and Origins
Issue №14, pp. 80–94
This article is devoted to the study of Jewish apocalyptics as a literary genre. The article provides an overview of scholars’ viewpoints on research questions associated with the definition of apocalypse genre, its origins and determining factors of development. The article considers theories of generating apocalyptics from the Old Testament prophecies, including those associating the apocalyptic tradition with visionary dreams of the prophets, where there are presented mythological motifs of universe creation and cosmic battles borrowed from other cultures of the Middle East.
Keywords: apocalyptics, eschatology, apocalyptic cosmology, genre, mythology, prophecy, symbolism.
Adoption (Υἱοθεσία) Metaphor of Apostle Paul: Context and Interaction with the Jewish Tradition of Israel Sonship
Issue №37, pp. 123–138
The article deals with the matters of origin of apostle Paul’s υἱοθεσία (adoption) metaphor, its theological content and interaction with the Jewish tradition of Israel sonship. In all the biblical literature, υἱοθεσία metaphor occurs only in Paul’s epistles and can be studied as one of the characteristics of his exegetics and theology. The problem of sources (traditions) of Paul’s metaphor (Jewish texts or Greek-Roman legal norms and practices) is associated with dichotomy of his personality and theology, since Paul was a man of two cultures – Jewish and Greek. The article analyzes the content of υἱοθεσία in Galatians and Romans in its interaction with metaphors of Israel sonship of the Jewish tradition with the purpose to determine how well-known ideas of υἱοθεσία relate to Old Testament revelation, and what are Paul’s own concepts he intends to convey to his audience. The article discloses how Paul represents his own interpretation of Israel sonship referring to υἱοθεσία and how Paul puts his ideas of fulfilling God’s promises into one eschatological scenario with the central “adoption” idea. Being placed in the center of the story about Jesus embedded in the general history of Israel, υἱοθεσία
metaphor serves as justification for Paul’s definition of the “seed of Abraham”, including gentiles along with Jews as heirs of the Divine promises to Abraham, and shows how that promises are fulfilled.
Keywords: “adoption” (υἱοθεσία), Greek-Roman adoption, Jewish tradition of sonship, Old Testament allusions, “formula of adoption”, historic-typological model, eschatological scenario, “seed of Abraham”.
The Archbishop of Astrakhan and Caucasus Sylvester (Lebedinsky) as Biblical Scholar and Interpreter of Christ’s Parables
Issue №25, pp. 158–167
Defining the genre of parable as a form of refined figurative language, Archimandrite Silvester (Lebedinsky) perfectly kept up with the times. His depiction of the mythological plot in the brightly recognizable images had an effect of allegory, actively used by the aesthetic systems of baroque and early classicism. The context proposed by Archimandrite Sylvester was not a situational one but only a conversational one. However, the author himself used actively the parable language, borrowing his allegorical forms from the Gospels. He noted that the Savior’s parables were both impermeable and open to common people. Archimandrite Sylvester’s work is focused on moral theology based on the evangelical context.
Keywords: the Parables, Gospel, Sylvester (Lebedinsky), biblical studies,literary genre
The First Chapter on the Book of Ezekiel as a Model of Communication between the Lord and the World He Created
Issue №4, pp. 115–136
The article is devoted to interpretation of an image of the Chariot in Chapter 1 of the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel. The author tries to get into a riddle of the first vision of Ezekiel and proposes the hypothesis of the Chariot as a model of mutual relations between God and the world created by Him. This model is presented as a certain dynamic image of the Chariot. The offered model is based on the results of analysis of four metaphors specific for the Book of Ezekiel. The research rests upon various ancient translations of Chapter 1 of the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, other Biblical and Non-Biblical texts, which help to clarify meanings of words in these metaphors, determine associative chains of these metaphors, and to reconstruct the worldview particular for the times of the Prophet.
Keywords: the first vision of the prophet Ezekiel, the fiery chariot, the vault of Heaven, wheels of the cherubs, feet of the cherubs, a figure of a person on the Throne.
Divisions within the Corinthian Community: Theological Parties
Issue №4, pp. 137–152
In ancient philosophy, the role of a teacher was traditionally emphasized. Under the influence of this tradition, Corinthian Christians thought it essential to follow the line of a particular authoritative apostle. This led to creation of divisions within the Community: “Paul’s party” insisted on the law-free gospel, “Cephas’ party” was more traditionally Jewish; “Apollos’ party” was fascinated by Hellenistic Jewish wisdom. Insisting on their adherence to the “proper” authority, the Corinthians also sought to elevate their own status. Paul suggests a value reorientation – God’s wisdom and glory instead of human wisdom and glory – and adherence to the “party of Christ”. This is a radical Christ-centeredness, which relativizes the importance of any human teacher.
Keywords: early Corinthians, rhetoric, theological parties, Christ-centeredness.
The Image of the Righteous Sufferer in the Hebrew Psalter, in the Greek Psalter, and its Influence on the Gospels
Issue №20, pp. 9–30
The paper is devoted to the influence of the image of the Righteous Sufferer on the Passion Narrative, especially on Mark 14 and 15. The special attention t the Gospel of Mark is due to the fact that it seems to be the oldest gospel and a prototype for other Gospels. The differences between the Hebrew and the Greek texts of the psalms in question are analyzed; the question is studied which of the two textual traditions has influenced the Gospel text, when and how.
Keywords: Psalter, Gospels, Gospel of Mark, Hebrew Bible, Septuagint.
From “The Man” of Myth towards “Adam” of Genealogical Lists
Issue №4, pp. 189–197
The paper deals with the meaning of the word ,da in Genesis: whether a common noun “human being” or a proper name “Adam” is meant. A short review of Bible translations, ancient and modern, follows.
Keywords: man, Adam, Genesis, exegesis, the Second Temple period, Bible translations.
Russian Bible: between the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint
Issue №4, pp. 36–54
The article lays down a short overview of history of the so-called Synodal translation of the Bible made in the XIX century and still being the main Russian version of the Bible. The principles of this translation are analyzed. The author also discusses the principles that served as guidelines for a group of Old Testament translators working in 1996–2010 under his leadership within the framework of the Bible Society in Russia (BSR). Their translation of the Old Testament became part of the new edition of the Russian Bible, published by the BSR in 2011.
Keywords: Russian Bible, biblical translation principles, Synodal translation, Septuagint.
Individual Resurrection of the Righteous in the New Testament: Matt 27:52–53
Issue №32, pp. 48–66
At least three types of resurrection are found in early Jewish literature. Two of them represent resurrection as an eschatological event: the resurrection of the righteous and the general resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked before the last judgment starts. The third type of resurrection does not emphasize the eschatological aspect. It can be called the individual resurrection of the righteous, because it deals with individual martyrs or a small group of those who were martyred for their faithfulness to the Lord. The most salient account of such a belief is found in 2 Maccabees 7, where this resurrection is described as a bodily one and is explicitly connected with resurrection.
Three examples of individual resurrection can be found in the New Testament: the resurrection of Jesus, the resurrection of certain saints in Matt 27:52–53, and that of the two witnesses of Christ in Rev 11:3–12. This article focuses on the analysis of Matt 27:52–53, which has so far not been discussed in the context of individual resurrection.
The article suggests that Matthew takes both the resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection of the saints as a case of individual resurrection. These two events are related to each other as a fulfillment of God’s promise about the resurrection of martyrs. Since it was important for Matthew to present the story of Jesus in the context of the fulfillment of messianic prophecies, he took the promise to martyrs that would be raised from the dead very seriously and believed that if Jesus was resurrected as a martyr, other martyrs would also be resurrected. The saints in Matt 27:52–53 can be identified with the martyrs from 2 Macc 7, according to the earliest traditions, who were buried near Jerusalem. However, Matthew might not have had any specific figures in mind but rather was concerned with the fact that this expectation of resurrection had been fulfilled.
Keywords: Judaism, New Testament, eschatology, resurrection, Jesus, Maccabees, righteous, martyr, saints.
Dove in the Story of Jesus’ Baptism
Issue №14, pp. 67–79
The expression “like a dove” in the story of Jesus’ baptism (Mark 1:10) can be understood in several ways. It can relate either to the noun “Spirit” or to the participle “descending”. The imagery of a dove as a symbol of the Spirit is not found in the Jewish sources of the period. However, the symbolism of dove taken in its connection with Gen 1:2 is used in b. Hag 15a and in 4Q521. In the latter it is written that God’s Spirit will hover (like a bird) over the righteous. This article deals with such an interpretation, which is connected with the description of the manner the Spirit is descending in the story of Jesus’ baptism: the Spirit is descending upon Jesus just as He hovered over the waters of the primeval world in the first day of creation. In Luke 3:22 the reality of such a descending of the Spirit is emphasized by the words “in a bodily form”.
Keywords: New Testament, Mark, Luke, the Holy Spirit, Jewish literature, Qumran, Judaism, Cognitive Metaphor.
The Old Testament Canon: History, Problems, and Prospects for Future Research
Issue №4, pp. 9–35
The article is dedicated to an overview of the history of the Old Testament canon origins and its formation in Judaism and Christianity in connection with the issue of the criteria of the Old Testament books canonicity. It also analyses the difficulties embracing the Church during the process of canonization of these writings. The research also focuses on a range of problems concerning the Old Testament canon the Church still faces today. In conclusion, the article touches upon prospects of future research of the Old Testament canon and proposes a thorough study of various texts remaining from several Jewish religious groups that influenced the early Christian tradition.
Keywords: Bible, Old Testament, divine inspiration, canon, Masoretic text, Septuagint.
“Or Physicians Will Raise Up…”(Ps 87:11; Isa 26:14): a Septuagint Polemic against the Hellenistic Cult of Asclepius?
Issue №25, pp. 138–157
In the LXX version of Ps 87:11 and Isa 26:14a, Hebrew rǝphāʾim (“the spirits of the dead”) is translated as iatroi (“healers”), while yāqûmû (“will rise up”) as anastēsousin/anastēsōsin (“will raise up”). It looks like for the translators of the LXX the direct connection of rǝphāʾim with the otherworld was lost, since they never translate it as such. It seems they understood it in the context of Ps 87:11 and Isa 26:14 as rōphǝʾim (healers), and rendered the verb qûm in a different way. This article demonstrates that the reason for this rendering is connected with the controversy between the Jewish community in Alexandria and the pagan cult of Asclepius and the Hellenistic medical practices related to Asclepius, which flourished in this city.
Keywords: Bible, Septuagint, Psalms, Isaiah, Rephaim, physicians, Asclepius.
Luke 9:7–9 in the Context of Jewish Views on the Afterlife
Issue №12, pp. 35–50
Three possible identifications of Jesus (9:7b–8) come up in the pericope discussed in this paper: he is supposed to be John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the ancient prophets. These identifications deal with the prophetic element as well as with the possibility of a prophet redivivus and an otherworldly appearance. This article will argue that all these public opinions about Jesus reflect specific Jewish views on the individual’s afterlife that were widespread in the time Luke wrote his texts. This article analyzes several Jewish traditions that may form the background of the identifications mentioned and discovers possible connections with other passages from Luke’s writings which reveal Lucan own views on the afterlife.
Keywords: New Testament, Luke, Jesus, John the Baptist, Elijah, afterlife, Judaism.
The Two Trends in the Sea of Bible Translation: Nowadays English Translations of the Bible
Issue №4, pp. 55–74
The article analyses the nowadays situation in the English Bible translation: the enormous number of translations and the two main trends – formal equivalence (literal translation) and functional equivalence (idiomatical translation). Idiomatical translations see their reader as a neo-pagan of the post-Christian time. The aim is to avoid making the text too complicated which might scare the reader off. The literal method seeks translating without any interpretations, distortions or “adjusting”. They mean that the reader doesn’t care about the literary quality or the Evangelic content of the Bible because of the “familiar abstraction” of its translation.
Keywords: formal equivalence, functional equivalence, literal translation, idiomatical translation, modern reader of the Bible.
John the Baptist and His Ministry
Issue №4, pp. 153–171
John the Baptist was the last Old Testament prophet. Presumably he lived among the Essenes for a long time and partly accepted their ideas, but separated from them later, following the “God’s call”. According to the Gospels, John the Baptist saw the purpose of his baptism in preparing people to meeting the Lord. Jesus Himself came to receive baptism from him to begin His ministry, and John witnessed that He was the Messiah. John’s sermon and activity were in order to preach the gospel that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Jesus Christ asserted that “from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence”.
Keywords: Messiah, John the Baptist, Essenes, baptism of repentance, service.
God’s Image – The Steward of the World
Issue №30, pp. 15–27
“God’s Image – The Steward of the World” is a chapter from the book by Hans Walter Wolff Anthropology of the Old Testament (1973). It opens the third section, entitled The World of Man. Social Anthropology, covering such topics as ‘man and woman’, ‘parents and children’, ‘brothers, friends, and enemies’, ‘lords and slaves’, ‘wise and foolish (teachers and disciples)’, ‘man and society’, ‘human vocation’. According to H. W. Wolff, the vocation of man to be the steward of the world implies his responsibility for the entrusted creation and eliminates the arbitrariness and the domination of man over man, which distorts the image of God. The conquest of the world should not lead to environmental pollution, human unfreedom, technical and economic subordination.
Keywords: image of God, likeness of God, creation, humankind, human vocation, environment.
Miracles in Gospels as the Sign of Kingdom
Issue №4, pp. 172–187
The author analyses peculiarities of miracles of Jesus recorded in Gospels by the example of cures. Their main feature is that they address not only a healed person but every witness. Healing leads not only to recovery, but to internal transformation (i. e. to salvation) of the healed person. Moreover, such transformations happen to numerous witnesses of the miracle. In that sense, cures are the signs of Kingdom the main feature of which is not outward changes but creation of new relations between people.
Keywords: Jesus, miracles, cures.
Jesus as an apocalyptic Prophet (The Weiss-Schweitzer Hypothesis): Critical Evaluation and Prospects
Issue №32, pp. 29–47
According to the Weiss-Schweitzer hypothesis, Jesus was an apocalyptic pro phet. The hypothesis remained relatively uncontested till the end of the XX century, when it met serious challenges (largely, in the Jesus Seminar). However, the attempt to create a new paradigm does not hold up to a close scrutiny. (1) The Gospel of Thomasis no be discounted as evidence for a non-apocalyptic Jesus, since its Jesus is far removed from any plausible Jewish context. (2) Kloppenborg’s attempts to stratify Q are not convincing. (3) Coexistence of apocalyptic and sapiential interests is natural for an apocalypticist. (4) Sayings about the future Son of Man can be partly authentic. Importantly, sayings about the precise time of the eschaton (Matt 10:23;
Mark 9:1; 13:30) reflect the ipsissima vox of Jesus, though hardly his ipsissima verba.
Keywords: Jesus, Quest for the Historical Jesus, New Testament, Gospels.
Messianism in the Septuagint: the State of the Discussion and Methodological Issues
Issue №20, pp. 31–47
According to most researchers Septuagint demonstrates development of messianism in comparison with the Masoretic text of the Old Testament. However some studies, primarily articles by Johan Lust, show that this view is supported by very weak evidence. This article analyzes the two key passages of the Septuagin Genesis 49:10 and Isaiah 9:5 (6), taken as an example of how much different can be approaches to the Greek text of the Old Testament and to how much different conclusions, researchers may come, applying different methods of text analysis. The final part makes a summary of basic methodological problems arising in the study of messianism in the Septuagint.
Keywords: Old Testament, Septuagint, Messiah, messianism, Biblical Exegesis.
Lexicographical Issues of the Book of Isaiah in the Septuagint
Issue №32, pp. 9–28
The article examines several groups of non-trivial vocabulary in the Book of Isaiah in the Septuagint: transliterations (Hebrew names written in Greek characters, religious terms and words obscure to the translator as well as Aramaic loanwords); neologisms (words appearing only in the Septuagint and related texts, primarily semantic calques based on morphemic translation from Hebrew) and semantic neologisms (words used with meanings different from their most frequent use in classical and Hellenistic texts and dependent on their Jewish equivalents); vocabulary typical of papyruses and inscriptions; literary vocabulary and rhetorical
techniques characteristic of “high” classical literature.
With reference to each group, the author summarises the issues most discussed in the academic literature on the book, namely basic approaches to describing the Greek language of the Septuagint; the issue of how the Greek Pentateuch’s influence on the lexical choice of the translator on the Book of Isaiah; the reflection of the colloquial norms of Alexandrian Jews and the proximity of the Septuagint language to the language of documentary sources of the same period; possible Aramaic influence; discussions about who the translator was.
Keywords: Bible, Old Testament, Septuagint, the Book of Isaiah, ancient Greek, Koine.
Problems of Interpretation of the Word ,dah (ha’adam) from the Biblical Passages on the Creation of Man (Gen 1:27, 2:7) in the Literature of the Second Temple Period
Issue №4, pp. 95–114
The research is concentrated on the problems of interpretation of the Hebrew word «ha’adam», found in the passages of Genesis 1:27, 2:7 dedicated to the Creation of Man, in the literature of the Second Temple period. The article analyses the texts where authors either keep the original vocabulary in their interpretations of the verses on the creation of man, use expressions close in meaning, or introduce the name of Adam. The article traces the influence of theological views of the authors of the texts and translations of the given period on formation of respective vocabulary and exegetical tendencies – from the first Adam to the Last Adam, Jesus Christ.
Keywords: man, Adam, Genesis, exegesis, the Second Temple period.
Issue №30, pp. 74–102
This article is dedicated to the problem of the relationship between the two halves of Genesis 1:27 (“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them”). The question of the relationship between the two halves of the verse is examined in light of various interpretations of the expressions “image of God” *1 and “male and female” *2 in texts from the Second Temple era, the New Testament and Rabbinic literature. Within this group of texts, a common line of usage for the two separate halves of the verses (Gen 1:27a, b (Gen 5:1b, 2а)) predominates, both in terms of quotation and in terms of interpretation. In the ancient texts listed, we can observe two basic trends vis-a-vis the expressions “image of God” and “male and female”. The first trend, dealing with the fulfillment of God’s words, “and let them have dominion <…> over all the earth” *3 and God’s command “be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it” *4, relates to man’s calling to be the ruler of the earth and to childbearing. The second trend is found in the context of striving for eternal life, appearing on the one hand in Philo’s understanding of the “heavenly man”, and on the other hand in Christian conceptions of Christ as the image of God *5 and of there being “neither male nor female” *6 in Christ and in the Church.
Keywords: Image of God, Bible, man and woman, male and female, androgynous.
Ψυχή as an Equivalent to ֶנ ֶפשׁ in the Septuagint: Problems of Translation and Interpretation
Issue №26, pp. 130–150
The article explores the correlation between the meanings of the Hebrew word Both . ֶנ ֶפשׁ and the Greek word ψυχή used to translate the Hebrew word ֶנ ֶפשׁ words are among the basic concepts of biblical anthropology. The word “dusha” (“soul”) in Church Slavonic and Russian (Synodal) translation of the Old Testamentwasgenerallyusedtorenderthewordsψυχήandֶנֶפשׁ, respectively. The paper defines the religious and cultural context within which the word ψυχή was used to translate the word ֶנ ֶפשׁ when the Septuagint was created. The issues of interpretation of the Greek Bible text containing the word ψυχή are also addressed. The author outlines the approaches to the interpretation of the Hebrew Bible text (containing the word ֶנ ֶפשׁ) used in the times of this translation. The approaches of how the translators of the Septuagint interpreted the target text containing the word ψυχή are reconstructed. The article also outlines the reconstruction of how the first readers and listeners to the Greek Bible text interpreted the Septuagint text containing the word ψυχή. In connection with the problem of “spiritualization” of the Bible, the article studies the examples of the interpretation of the word ψυχή indicating the significant changes in the Old Testament anthropology. The article summarises the results of research on this subject. Within the existent methodology for studying the Septuagint, the author considers the hypothesis that the Septuagint translators did not presume anysemantic shifts and changes intheinterpretation of the wordֶ נֶפשׁ, whereas the meaning of “immortal soul” was not supposed for the word ψυχή in the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible.
Keywords: soul, biblical anthropology, spiritualization, translation, interpretation, Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, Philo of Alexandria, ֶנ ֶפשׁ , ψυχή.