Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception Online
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Last updated in April 2023.
The online edition contains the entire contents of the printed edition (currently volumes 1–21), as well as many articles ahead of print.
Here is some of what biblioblogger Jim West recommends for you to read in the current volume of EBR:
Adam Łajtar (Warsaw, Poland) Nubia II. Łajtar’s discussion centers on the Christian Textual Traditions of Nubia. He observes "Christian Nubia had a rich literary culture, testament to which are 4,000 entries in the internet Database of Medieval Nubian Texts (DBMNT)." All manner of texts are included in these materials including, but not limited to liturgical texts, patristic texts, biblical texts, and many others. Adam’s contribution to the EBR makes it extremely clear that Christian traditions outside of Europe and North America have as much, if not more, to teach us than our own Eurocentric inclinations would have us believe.
Miryam Brand (Jerusalem, Israel), Nephilim III.A. Brand notes that in texts from the Second Temple period and the Hellenistic era "The Nephilim play a central role in a popular Second Temple era story regarding the origin of evil: the myth of the Watchers." To illustrate the point, she follows her opening declaration with evidence from 1 Enoch, Jubilees, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Philo. Very much appreciated is her succinct summary of the tales of the Nephilim: "In the fullest form of this story, angels mated with human women and produced giant children who caused destruction, while the angels themselves caused sin by teaching humans illicit knowledge. When the physical bodies of these giants were destroyed, they became evil spirits that plagued the earth."
Jörg Frey (Zurich, Switzerland), Nicodemus I. Nicodemus is only named in the Gospel of John. Who he was seems less important than the portrayals foisted on him by the readers of that Gospel. At least that’s what Frey seems to suggest when he concludes his entry on Nicodemus in the New Testament with the following lines: "For reading the gospel text, the question of the historical reference of the figure remains of secondary importance. Instead, it is the literary ambivalence of the figure that has stimulated readers up to the present to create their own image of Nicodemus." Nicodemus as Rorschach test. That’s the fate of all the characters of the Bible about whom we know so little. What we do know, however, is all described by Frey in his helpful entry.
Rebecca Kamholz (New Haven, CT, USA), Obscenity and Euphemism III.B. Rabbinic Judaism was no stranger to the use of obscenity, according to Kamholz. "Rabbinic treatment of biblical texts which use language or describe imagery that could be considered obscene falls into two broad categories. The first is euphemism, avoidance, or restatement; the second is emphasizing and even increasing the obscenity of the original text." She then provides very intriguing examples of these usages. Of the articles I read, I think I learned the most from this one. I certainly enjoyed it a great deal.
Matthew Page (Loughborough, United Kingdom), Nehemiah (Book and Person) VIII. Nehemiah receives scant treatment in film. Page remarks "Compared to most major biblical stories, filmmakers have largely overlooked the book of Nehemiah and its hero." Indeed, as he describes things, the only full-length treatment of Nehemiah is a film produced by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The film, titled Nehemiah: The Joy of Jehovah Is Your Stronghold (prod. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, was produced only as recently as 2020. These are the sorts of amazing details that come to light in the EBR. And these details are why EBR is such an incredible, and important resource.
Ada Taggar-Cohen (Kyoto, Japan), Neo-Hittites. "As successors to the Hittite Empire that stretched from central Anatolia into north Syria until 1180 BCE, the people who lived after its collapse in the regions of southeastern Anatolia and northern Syria are known as ‘Neo-Hittites.’" Taggar-Cohen then delves into the topics of the history, the cultural evidence, and, this being an Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception, the Neo-Hittites and the Bible. Also included is a very thorough bibliography. This entry is both interesting and well written. A real quality piece of scholarship.
Julia van Rosmalen (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), Oaths and Vows XI. What does art have to tell us about the reception and comprehension of oaths and vows? In particular, what do the visual arts have to teach us about the reception of these concepts? Rosmalen asserts "When considering oaths and vows in the visual arts within the context of Bible reception, images can be roughly divided in three categories. The first are depictions of oaths that occur within the biblical narrative; the second, of oaths sworn by Christians; and the third, of oaths from non-Christian narratives but depicted by Christian artists for a Christian audience." As one example Julia illustrates with a picture title "Mary nullifies the pact between the clergyman Theophilus and the Devil" (ca. 1120–35). The way art depicts the Bible is truly one of the more fascinating aspects of the reception of the Bible. And this essay is, accordingly, fascinating.
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