Tag Archives: News

The Quest of the King in the Wisdom of Solomon

My new article, “The Quest of the King in the Wisdom of Solomon,” was just published in the Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha, Volume 31, issue 1. I presented an early version of this paper at the 2020 SBL Annual Meeting.

If you want to know what is all about, here is the abstract of the paper:

Historians largely agree that Hellenistic kingship was founded, not primarily on heredity, but on military achievement (MacDonald, 2015). The right to rule was thus militarily meritocratic, but philosophically unsteady, so kings felt the need to propagandize by commissioning writings peri basileias. Diogenes Laertius gives evidence that this type of kingship literature was widely produced in this era, though only fragments of these texts survive. The tracts attributed to Ecphantus, Diotogenes, and Sthenidas, along with the Letter of Aristeas, reveal that Hellenistic kingship was supported by a mythos that viewed obtaining kingship as a kind of moral achievement. The king’s virtues are emphasized as godlike and worthy of imitation by his subjects, as he embodies the law in his person. The Wisdom of Solomon reworks this kingship tradition by “democratizing” kingship (Newman, 2004) to all to call his readers to imitate Solomon’s choice of wisdom over folly. Solomon’s search for and embrace of wisdom (7:7; 8:2) takes the place of militaristic emphases and establishes a universalizable pattern for the moral quest of the individual. Wisdom domesticates a Hellenistic pattern of seeking wisdom and thus achieving kingly rule, which eventually allows one to be a benefactor of others. Wisdom is beneficent (7:23) and, rather than becoming a god, the wise Solomon benefits others with his wise and just rule (Wis 8:10–15; 9:12). Even the wise Israelites become benefactors to others (19:14). Thus, the quest of the king for wisdom follows a familiar outline of the journey of a king from obscurity, to conquest, to rule, to beneficence.

If you are interested in reading the whole thing, here is the permanent link to it: https://doi.org/10.1177/09518207211032890

 

My New Talk on Leviticus

The Book of Leviticus has always puzzled Bible readers. We come looking for inspiration, prayer and hope amid the challenges of life in the Valley of Tears, but instead we find rules about sacrifices, priestly garb, foods to avoid, skin diseases and other topics that seem like mere relics from the ancient past. Yet Leviticus is not just about rules and ritual purity. It is about the holiness of God. It shows us how holy He is and how he calls each one of us to be holy. In fact, to me, Leviticus is the Old Testament version of “the universal call to holiness” famously proclaimed by the Second Vatican Council. In fact, that’s exactly it: “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy” (Lev 19:2 ESV). God is holy, that is, “set apart” from us. He’s different, other, separate from our sinfulness and selfishness. He wants us to leave behind the petty desires of the world and become truly holy like Him.

If you want to learn more about Leviticus, check out my new Lighthouse Talk on mp3 and CD from the Augustine Institute: “Leviticus Explained”. I hope you enjoy it!

ESV Catholic Edition Bible Now Available on Verbum

I just bought it myself! While the Augustine Institute released the original American edition of the ESV Catholic Edition Bible back in December 2019 under the title, “The Augustine Bible,” no digital edition has been available until now. This week, with the launch of Logos/Verbum 9, the Faithlife company has put out the first digital edition of the ESV Catholic Edition Bible. It will now become my “top Bible” in my prioritization of resources in the Verbum platform.

What is Verbum?

While I love BibleWorks and have been using it for almost fifteen years, this small company shut down a couple summers ago. I hope that one day BibleWorks will return bigger and better! But until the theology of resurrection applies to software, there are two other options for Catholic Bible Students: Accordance and Verbum. Since these programs are big and expensive digital libraries, you have to make a choice early on. Accordance used to be only for Mac users, but now has a PC version, but I’ve never used it. Verbum is the Catholic version of the widely-used Logos Bible Software program. This program has been around for decades and has the biggest digital library of any Bible software. It includes everything from Bible commentaries, Church Fathers, dictionaries, encyclopedias, original language search, papal documents, theology books and on and on. I use it every day and believe that software of this caliber has become indispensable for biblical scholarship.

What to do with the ESV Catholic Edition in Verbum?

I’m so happy that they were able to put the ESV Catholic Edition into production so quickly. Now you can search the text, copy the text, look for details in the text and examine it statistically. I know I’ll be diving in to the deuterocanon, getting stats and publishing them here. But I’ll be so happy to finally use the ESV-CE text as my base text in the electronic format. I can’t quite believe this day has arrived!

Where to Get It

If you want to pick up a digital copy for yourself, it’s only $9.99 right now which is half of what a paperback print Bible costs. Here’s the link: https://verbum.com/product/192293/the-augustine-bible

If you aren’t ready to take the Verbum plunge yet, that’s not a problem, you can get a free basic version of the software to run the translation here: https://verbum.com/product/168882/verbum-8-basic

Interview on ESV Catholic Edition Bible

On Friday, I was interviewed by John Burger at Aleteia about the new ESV Catholic Edition Bible. (It’s one of those interviews where they transcribe what you say, so I apologize for any grammatical errors other weird inaccuracies). However, I think it gets the message across. Here’s an excerpt:

The English Standard Version-Catholic Edition pursues a word-for-word translation philosophy. It calls itself an essentially literal translation. The goal is to be as transparent as possible to the original text, while still producing good, solid elegant English in the translation. It’s not the same as reading an interlinear [which has the original language and English side by side], but it’s not pursuing a more loose translation style, often referred to as thought-for-thought style translation or dynamic equivalent. It’s really trying to stick to a word-for-word approach.

You can read the whole interview on their site here:
https://aleteia.org/2020/10/03/new-bible-translation-promises-greater-accuracy/

New CD/mp3 Talk on the Dark Passages of Scripture

I’m excited to announce that my talk on the Dark Passages of Scripture was just put out by the Augustine Institute as the CD-of-the-month. Of course, you can download it as an mp3 as well. Not the cheeriest picture, I realize–but I guess it gets the point across!

This talk is based on my book, Light on the Dark Passages of Scripture (OSV). I deal with some of the tough stuff in Sacred Scripture. Passages in the Old Testament can be frightening or strange, certainly difficult to read. I tried to shed some light in the dark corners of the Bible to reveal how to understand the balance of God’s justice and his mercy. I deal with questions about the Canaanite conquest, innocent suffering, hell, and ultimately the Cross. I hope you find it helpful and enjoyable. If you take a listen, I’d love to hear from you if you want to leave a comment on this post.

New ESV Catholic Edition Bibles: Leather, Hardback, Paperback

This new video about the ESV Catholic Edition was just released:

As you can see in the video, a bunch of new ESV Catholic Edition Bibles are available now:

  • Bonded Leather in Black, Mahogany, Navy and Burgundy with gold edges and ribbon bookmarks
  • Hardback in Gray and Navy with ribbon bookmarks
  • Paperback in several different covers

All of these ESV Catholic Edition Bibles are available at CatholicBible.org and at Catholic.Market

It is so encouraging to see this project come together and to see how nicely these volumes came out. I’m just happy to have been a part of it. I think Catholic Bible Students will be very pleased with these.

Here’s a photo of a bunch of the new Bibles piled up on my desk:

Summary of Pope Francis’ Letter on St. Jerome

Today, in a surprise move, Pope Francis issued a new Apostolic Letter about St. Jerome (c. 345-420), whose feast day is today, September 30th. Today marks the 1600th anniversary of his death. The letter is entitled Scripturae sacrae affectus, “Devotion to Sacred Scripture.” Here is a brief summary of the letter:

  • Jerome had a “living and tender love” for Scripture as a “scholar, translator and exegete.” He was committed to ardent, even impetuous, defense of Christian doctrine, but was also a great ascetic, hermit and “sensitive spiritual guide.”
  • While originally a great student and lover of classical Latin literature—“an insatiable reader of the Latin classics”—he thought of Scripture as “uncouth and ungrammatical.” However, he eventually experienced a profound conversion and devoted the rest of his life to the study of Scripture for “the greater service of God and the ecclesial community.”
  • His spiritual journey followed a winding course from rhetoric study in Rome to the life of a monk in Gaul, to the deserts of Syria as a hermit and then back to Rome as a priest, and finally to Bethlehem as a lifelong pilgrim.
  • In the desert, he encountered God and engaged in “contemplation, interior trials and spiritual combat.”
  • He was characterized by a “stubborn will to learn” and became an “exegete, teacher and spiritual guide,” motivated to defend the faith and Scripture.
  • Pope Francis puts it beautifully: “Jerome saw his studies not as a pleasant pastime and an end unto itself, but rather as a spiritual exercise and a means of drawing closer to God.”
  • He provides some wonderful quotes from Jerome:
    1. “I have the habit of asking questions.”
    2. “The Bible was written by the People of God for the People of God.”
    3. Jerome thinks of himself as “an ancient mariner, the survivor of several shipwrecks, attempting to teach a young sailor.”
    4. “Read the Scriptures constantly; never let the sacred volume fall from your hand.”
  • Jerome’s life was characterized by two major dimensions:
    1. “An absolute and austere consecration to God”
    2. “A commitment to diligent study”
  • He is a model for monks and for scholars, inspired by the prophets of old from whom he “drew the inner fire that became a vehement and explosive word, necessary for expressing the burning zeal of one who serve the cause of God.”
  • Jerome’s zeal for Scripture was matched by his obedience to the Church and his commitment to communion with Peter’s successor, the Pope.
  • He was renown for his competence in biblical languages, careful analysis of the manuscripts, and his knowledge of the history of interpretation.
  • Pope Francis insists that every theology faculty should teach the interpretation of Scripture and that every Catholic family should read Scripture prayerfully, inspired by the Pope’s new “Sunday of the Word of God.
  • He lauds Jerome’s Latin Vulgate translation of Sacred Scripture as a bridge-building gift to the Latin Church, which should encourage modern translators of Scripture.
  • The Pope says “For him, study was not limited to the years of his youthful training, but a continual commitment, a daily priority.”

The Letter is a beautiful summation of Jerome’s life and work, a call to love what he loved—namely Sacred Scripture. It is a clarion call to prayerful and diligent reading and study of the Bible for all Christians. What a great tribute to the great Doctor of the Church! Happy Feast Day, St. Jerome!

Sirach 44–50 and Hebrews 11: The Hall of Heroes and the Cloud of Witnesses (video lecture)

Thanks to the Institute for Pastoral Leadership at University of St. Mary of the Lake and to the Augustine Institute for co-sponsoring this lecture I delivered via video recording only in lieu of the canceled Summer Scripture 2020 event!

In this video lecture, I examine the similarity and connection between Sirach 44–50 and Hebrews 11. Both of these passages present the heroes of the Bible as examples for us to follow.  This lecture was recorded a few weeks ago in June 2020. I hope you enjoy it:

You can find out more about the Summer Scripture 2021 event here: https://usml.edu/ipl/summerscripture/

 

June 21-26, 2020 – Summer Scripture Conference (Cancelled)

[UPDATE: This event has been canceled due to the current pandemic. However, USML asked me to record video lectures instead and we will make them available to you here from my blog. Keep your eyes out for Summer Scripture 2021.]

I hope you can come!

I will be speaking at the long-standing annual Summer Scripture Conference, June 21-26, hosted by the Institute for Pastoral Leadership at University of St. Mary of the Lake and Mundelein Seminary in the Chicago area. This conference has been offering a slate of Scripture scholars speaking to a popular audience for decades and I’m delighted to be one of the speakers this year. Over the course of the five-day conference, I’ll be sharing the stage with scholars I admire and respect:

I’m looking forward to my talks on June 23-24 on these topics:

  • The Headwaters of Christian Prayer: Messianic Hope in the Shape of the Psalter
    • In this talk, we’ll review some of the recent research on the canonical shape of the Book of Psalms and show how over time, as pre-Christian Jewish tradition received, read, prayed and handed on these sacred songs, they began to see them messianically. That is, the songs themselves, as prayed in that era, anticipate the coming of the Messiah, the new David, who will reign on the throne of his fore-father and usher in a time of restoration. The Psalms, of course, are at the heart of Christian prayer and I’ll try to show how this is no accident, but builds on the messianic shape and use of the Psalms.
  • The Book of Wisdom as Model for Christian Reception of the Old Testament
    • Here, we will take a look at one of the most neglected books of the Old Testament. As I’ve noted here before, it has fewer commentaries written on it English than pretty much any other book of the Bible. Wisdom, though, as one of the very last books of the Old Testament penned, anticipates how the NT authors will read Scripture. It offers a unique combination of Jewish piety toward the Torah and Jewish appropriation of Greek philosophy that sets the stage for Christians reading the Old Testament in a Greco-Roman context.
  • Sirach 44–50 and Hebrews 11: The Hall of Heroes and the Cloud of Witnesses
    • Lastly, I will compare two hallowed texts that celebrate the heroes of the Old Testament. Hebrews 11 is well-known as the “Hall of Faith”, but it is anticipated by Sirach. Both texts retell the story of Israel through a list of characters, heroic figures. These celebrated persons exemplify the life of virtue, Torah-observance and faith, showing that a life of fidelity is possible even under difficult circumstances. Like the many lives of the saints volumes written later in Christian history, these texts hold up heroes for us to imitate.

These topics are close to my heart and I look forward to sharing with you about what I’ve found in these three rich Old Testament veins from the Psalms, Wisdom and Sirach.

This event is an awesome chance to dive deep into Scripture study with a wide range of teachers and topics. It is going to be an intense prayerful learning experience. Each day includes morning prayer, Mass and night prayer, along with meals together and an evening social. But the heart of the experience is the three to four daily lectures on biblical topics. You can read the whole event schedule here: https://usml.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020-Summer-Scripture-Event-Schedule.pdf

If you live in the Chicago area, this would be a great opportunity to take a few days off, grab your Bible and your notebook and join us for some great study. If you don’t live nearby, you can stay in the dormitories on the beautiful campus at a low cost. The full conference with all talks, all meals, and a private room for five nights is only $825. You can’t even get a hotel room, let alone all the meals(!) for that much in a lot of places. However, if that’s too much for you and you can’t take off a whole week, then you can drop in for a single speaker’s three talks for $200 or even just a single lecture for $60. If you want all the details, take a look at the registration form. And if you decide to come, you can register online.

All told, with fifteen talks by seven scholars, it stands to be a great experience and if you do come, I look forward to greeting you in person when you get there!

ESV Catholic Edition Lectionary Released in India

Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro (apostolic nuncio), Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrão

Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro (apostolic nuncio), Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrão (photo from daijiworld.com)

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India has just released a new Lectionary featuring the English Standard Version Catholic Editions (ESV-CE).

A few things to notice:

  • The new ESV Lectionary for India received Vatican confirmation on December 9, 2019 from the Congregation for Divine Worship.
  • It is mandated for India starting on Palm Sunday (April 5, 2020).
  • It uses the Grail Psalter for the psalms (not the ESV), presumably to match the usage of the Liturgy of the Hours.

The money quote comes from Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrão:

  • “The publication of the new lectionary by the CCBI is a landmark in the history of the Church in our country, it is a valuable contribution of the Church in India to the Universal Church testifying to our biblical scholarship and liturgical competence.”

The full story here: https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay.aspx?newsID=675520

It is also worth mentioning that the top sponsor of this big new lectionary project, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, was just re-elected today as the president of India’s bishop’s conference, largely so he can help with the implementation of the ESV Lectionary.