A Word in Edgewise

Chaim Cohen

One of the recent collections added to the Lanier Theological Library came from Chaim Cohen.  It is an amazing collection of books, thousands, mostly in Hebrew. 61O4RLcWiTL._AC_US218_.

Chaim Cohen (1947-2017) was a world-renowned biblical linguist.  Through his career the American-born scholar showed the benefits of reading biblical Hebrew in the light of texts written in Akkadian and Ugaritic, two ancient Semitic languages that have not been spoken in 3000 years.  Instead of being written on parchment (animal skin), Akkadian and Ugaritic were inscribed upon clay tablets and predate written Hebrew.  Cohen’s comparative work helped to clarify the meanings and usages of many obscure Hebrew words and phrases. He taught in the departments of Hebrew Language and Bible at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. This gentle, humble man believed his research could help situate religious faith in a “respectable academic framework,” for both secular and religious Israelis.

Friends who knew him said he delighted in the study of the Bible more than anyone they had ever met.  He was a living, walking Book of the Torah.  Cohen loved being a cohen, that is, a priest, and would regularly recite the priestly prayer (Num 6:24-26) with passion and grace.  Cohen also loved music, and he trained generations of readers in how best to read and recite Scripture publicly for worship.

Returning the jewels

I was thumbing through a book that belonged to my late friend, Larry Hurtado.  It is a Daily Prayer book, revised with Hebrew text and interpretation.  He had placed a bit of paper on one page as a bookmark and underlined much of one of the paragraphs.  It is a well known story from the Talmud and, according to the author, supplies the key to understanding the Kaddish.

Rabbi Meir lost both of his sons in one day.  It was a Sabbath afternoon when he was at the House of Learning.  His wife Beruria did not tell him about it on his return home because she did not want to sadden his Sabbath-joy. So she waited until evening and then approached her husband with a question: “I have a question to ask of you.  Some time ago a friend gave me some jewels to keep for him.  Today he demands them back.  What should I do?”  Rabbi Meir responded, “I cannot understand why you are asking me such a question.  Of course, return the jewels.”  It was at this moment that she took his hand and led him to the room where their children lay dead.  “These are the jewels,” she said, “that I must return.” Rabbi Meir wept out the words of Job: “The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken; blessed be the Name of the Lord.”

It has been almost a year since our son, Daniel, died of an aggressive and rare form of cancer, August 2, 2019. Less than four months later, my friend and mentor, Larry Hurtado died of leukemia. November 25, 2019. Less than three weeks later, my wife’s mother died. December 13, 2019.  In 2019 we had to return the jewels loaned to us.  I wonder how long it took for Rabbi Meir to bless the God who gives and who takes.  He was a better man than me.  I’m having a hard time with it.

Theology on the Web

Rob Bradshaw’s full time job is librarian at Spurgeon’s College in London. But he also has a passion for making theology available on the Internet.

Here is the website you need to know:

https://theologyontheweb.org.uk

Rob has digitized 40,000 articles from dozens and dozens of journals.  Some you have heard of.  Some you have not.  But he has done his due diligence to contact the authors and/or their heirs to make sure he has permission to put their work on the web so that people across the world can see it.

In this time of Covid-19 when libraries are closed and resources are scarce, it is great to have access to these articles.  They are cross-referenced by author, publication, topic, etc.

Rob has articles on a variety of disciplines: theology, church history, Old Testament, New Testament, and archaeology.  The website above mentioned above curates and organizes the entire collection of digitized articles.

Now, Rob does this on the side, as a gift to scholars, pastors, and students.  Access to the articles are free, but if you’d like to help him with some of the expenses, leave some money in the tip jar before you go.

 

The Word Biblical Commentary

During this Corona pandemic a lot of important work is being doing.  I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Katya Covrett as the New Testament editor for the Word Biblical Commentary (WBC).  It has been one of my go-to commentaries for years.  In fact, at where I work, the Lanier Theological Library, the WBC is one of the most sought after commentary series.  The project has been led over the years by some great scholars whom I know and some I do not.  My predecessors in this project are Ralph Martin and Peter Davids.  It is a joy to add now my efforts to what has been done to make this and keep this a great commentary on the Scripture.  Here is a brief announcement from Zondervan Academic.  I hope you will take a moment and read it.

Professor Seyoon Kim is well on his way to completing the new commentary on 1 & Thessalonians.  I should receive that this summer and will be working on it soon after.

 

More to come.

https://zondervanacademic.com/blog/introducing-new-editor-of-wbc-new-testament

 

Jesus in the Talmud

Joseph Shulam, Christian minister and Hebrew scholar who leads a messianic congregation in Jerusalem, shares how Jesus figures in the Talmud, a collection of rabbinic discussions from the 1st to the 5th centuries AD.  He argues the negative reports among the rabbis actually corroborate aspects of the biblical accounts in the Gospels.

This will be the first podcast in a new series I am hosting called THE STONE CHAPEL.  If you want information about that, let me know.  It will appear soon on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and other platforms.

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