Esther 1:10-22

The next instalment is below. It is slightly longer than the normal post will be (13 verses), but I hated to chop an episode into parts.

Again, feedback is most welcome.

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Esther 1:1-9

One of our doctoral candidates, John Screnock, and I are finishing our grammatical commentary on the book of Esther for the Baylor Handbook on the Hebrew Bible series. As we do final revisions before submitting, I thought it would be useful to post much of the commentary here, in sections of 5-10 verses, in order for potential readers to ask questions, seek clarification, or point out confusing comments or typos. We thus hope to make the product cleaner and more usable. (We posted a shortened version of a section of our introduction, dealing with the historical linguistic profile of Esther, here.)

So, without further ado, below is the commentary for Esther 1:1-9, with subsequent sections to be posted one per day for the next three weeks. Consider yourself solicited for feedback!

*Note that the cross-references to our Introduction are not filled in.

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A Linguistic Profile of the Book of Esther (SBL 2013)

A doctoral student in my department, John Screnock, and I are co-presenting a paper in the SBL Linguistics and Biblical Hebrew section in Baltimore on Sunday. The paper is a much shortened version of a large section of our introductory chapter in the Baylor Handbook on the Hebrew Bible volume on Esther that we are writing (the volume is now 99% drafted).

Since we have finished the paper much sooner than I typically do, I have posted the paper and handout below. (It’s a relief to anticipate a flight without finishing my paper—what an odd feeling.)

See you in Baltimore!

Paper

Handout

My Entries in the Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics

Brill sent out the offprints from the EHLL to authors last week. They expressly asked in the email that authors not post their offprints to Academia.edu. That’s too bad, since it is a very useful way to share articles. I will acquiesce, though, and refrain from posting my offprints there. Instead, I will post them here (which they fully allow).

Holmstedt, Robert D., and B. Elan Dresher.
2013. Clitics: Pre-Modern Hebrew. Pp. 458-63 in the Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, Volume 1: A‒F, ed. Geoffrey Khan. Boston/Leiden: Brill. (PDF)

Holmstedt, Robert D.
2013. Hypotaxis. Pp. 220-22 in the Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, Volume 2: G‒O, ed. Geoffrey Khan. Boston/Leiden: Brill. (PDF)

2013. Pro-drop. Pp. 265-67 in the Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, Volume 3: P‒Z, ed. Geoffrey Khan. Boston/Leiden: Brill. (PDF)

2013. Relative Clause: Biblical Hebrew. Pp. 350-57 in the Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, Volume 3: P‒Z, ed. Geoffrey Khan. Boston/Leiden: Brill. (PDF)

Genesis 1:1, again, and my “Un-Christian” analysis

I stumbled across an amazing blog post today. In it, I and my teachers and the institutions at which I studied are subjected to ad hominem attack. I’ve put the link at the bottom.

In all my posts here on Gen 1:1 (here, here, and here), I have never taken a stand on the evolution vs. creation-science debate, largely because I think the whole thing is a waste of time. If a person’s view of the authority [add: of the Bible, and so God] rests on reading Genesis scientifically and so his or her faith crashes against the wall of science, the teachers and preachers that taught that poor person in the first place will answer to God for misleading others. But that’s their problem and God’s concern; mine is Hebrew grammar and the ancient setting of biblical literature.

So far the readers that have come by this blog and read my posts have understood (I think) that my concern is to explain the legitimate and likely analyses of the various Hebrew grammatical issues that I discuss. This seminary student had the chutzpah (!) to accept the cogency of my arguments on Gen 1:1, and that’s what put me on the radar of the laughably titled group, Answers in Genesis (I don’t see many real answers on that site). I say, if my answers for Genesis get in the way of your theology, you have two choices for response: ignore my argument (and stick your head in the sand) or find a way to nuance your theology. Guess which option the Answers in Genesis folks take?

“How arrogant!”, you say? Oh, so be it. I’ve stared at a lot of Hebrew grammatical problems and my faith hasn’t been shaken. I figure if the text and ideas God’s people left us is shown to be better read as ancient myth than anachronistic science lessons (that fly in the face of modern science, which implies that God is now duping even many Christians who are scientists), then we owe it to them and God to face up to it. We have to remember that even theology (of every kind) is a human creation. In the end, when the curtain is pulled aside, I’m betting that even the best theology will be a bit off. I will say, though, that removing the absurd creation-science vs. evolution debate from my theological horizon was a relieving by-product of my family’s move into the Catholic Church last year. Wow — a context that treats science with the appropriate respect and yet maintains perspective (and the long view) on loci of authority.

In any case, I will proceed with my liberal (ha!) Christian (Wheaton) and secular (UW-Madison) educations (where this Mortenson fellow got “Jewish” in my educational background, I’m not sure — I guess it was the year I spent at Hebrew U in Jerusalem) and my secular job (Univ of Toronto) and risk being called “arrogant” and “un-orthodox” and not getting the Answers in Genesis types to “bow a knee” to me. I’m not losing sleep over any of that.

I note with some humor but no surprise that this Terry Mortenson from Answers in Genesis did not (and almost certainly can not!) engage my grammatical arguments. Instead, my arguments are just un-orthodox, un-historical, and probably un-Christian stuff to ignore. (And no, I have absolutely no interest in reading young-earth creationist literature-carefully or not!)

Go here to find the source of my day’s laugh, the Answers in Genesis blog post by Georgia Purdom.

Recycling . . . its not just about the environment!

Perhaps it is the combined effect of information explosion beginning the end of last century combined with the unending pressure to publish or perish, but too often scholars find themselves covering the same old ground that has already been well-covered by past scholars. It is not simply that we are engaged in the same sorts of debates (Indeed, my work on the verb admittedly focuses on one of the most longstanding debates in Hebrew grammar!), it is that we too quickly forget the ideas that earlier scholars have advanced—usually unsuccessfully, which explains their forgotten state. Unfortunately, the rapid digitization of these old resources makes such absent-minded recycling even more egregious.

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Genesis 1.1, again

Professor Kenneth Turner of Bryan College emailed me recently about another subtle feature in the grammar of Gen 1.1, given in (1).

(1) Gen 1:1

בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃

He and his students have been working through the various issues, and reading my VT article and some older posts I made here and here, and they came up with a fascinating question: does the disjunctive accent on ראשׁית (which is a טפחא) provide any support for taking the word as the free or bound form?

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