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Eerdman's Dictionary of Early Judaism

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#1 Gordon



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Posted 19 February 2014 - 09:29 AM

Do you find this a valuable resource and why?

‏ כִּ֤י לֶ֣קַח ט֭וֹב נָתַ֣תִּי לָכֶ֑ם תּֽ֝וֹרָתִ֗י אַֽל־תַּעֲזֹֽבוּ׃

#2 Daniel Francis

Daniel Francis


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Posted 21 February 2014 - 01:22 PM

I am ashamed to admit I have used this resource little, since purchasing it. That said when I have used it I have been very happy with the depth of the articles. The reason I like it is so often we get a very Christian coloured view point on the Bible (and there is nothing wrong with that). It is valuable to try to understand things as as the original audience would have (or even later ones i.e. How did NT Jews view a subject). We have many good sources like Philo and Josephus and the Talmud, not to mention the insight gained from the dead sea scrolls and archaeology. Trying to find a small article to share here was hard, no matter how insignificant a topic might have been in my mind the article seemed large. I found one  on psalm 151 (it is in greek orthodox bibles).




Psalm 151


Psalm 151 is preserved in two editions and four ancient languages. The most familiar edition is the Greek (Septuagint) version, on which the Latin and Syriac translations are based. The original Hebrew edition only became known with the publication of the large Psalms scroll from Cave 11 at Qumran (11QPsa) in 1961. Although Jews, Protestants, and Catholics do not regard Psalm 151 as part of the book of Psalms, it is viewed as Scripture by the Greek and other Eastern Orthodox churches. For these churches the canonical text that concludes the Psalter is the Septuagint version (or translations made from the Greek).

The Greek version consists of one Psalm of seven verses with a single superscription, which ends the Book of Psalms in the Septuagint. In 11QPsa, however, the “Qumran Psalter” ends with two separate Hebrew Psalms 151A and 151B, each with its own superscriptions. This shows that the Psalm 151 in the Greek Bible is an amalgamation of the two Hebrew Psalms. It appears that these Hebrew Psalms were composed well before the Christian era, most likely in the Hellenistic period, and that the translation into Greek was made at the beginning of the second century C.E.

Psalm 151 (or 151A and 151B) is the only Psalm where both superscription(s) and content are unambiguously autobiographical with respect to David. While the superscriptions of several other Biblical Psalms clearly refer to events in David’s life (e.g., Psalm 57, “a miktam of David, when he fled from Saul, in the cave”), in all such cases the body of the Psalm cannot specifically be linked to David but expresses heartfelt sentiments of the pious (cf. Ps. 57:1, “Be merciful to me, O God … ; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, until the destroying storms pass by”).

In contrast, events in David’s life are unambiguously evident in both the superscription(s) and contents of Psalm 151. In the Greek version, the superscription includes “truly ascribed to David” and “after he had fought in single combat with Goliath,” and the Psalm itself refers to David’s brothers (“I was small among my brothers”), David as shepherd (“I tended my father’s sheep”), his musical prowess (“my hands made a harp “), his being chosen (“and took me from my father’s sheep”), his anointing (“and anointed me with his anointing oil”), and his victory over Goliath (“I went out to meet the Philistine … but I drew his own sword; I beheaded him”).

The Hebrew original is even more Davidic, with Psalm 151A titled “a hallelujah of David the son of Jesse,” and the superscription to Psalm 151B denoting the Goliath incident: “At the beginning of God’s power after the prophet of God had anointed him. Then I [saw] a Philistine uttering defiances from the r[anks of the enemy]”). Unfortunately, the rest of 151B is not preserved in the Cave 11 Psalms scroll.

Psalm 151A is longer than the Greek version, with additional details about David (v. 1: LXX reads “I tended my father’s flock”; 11QPsa adds “So he made me shepherd of his flock and ruler over his kids”), or more information on certain themes (compare v. 2: LXX reads “My hands made a harp; my fingers fashioned a lyre “; 11QPsa adds “and I have rendered glory to the Lord, thought I, within my soul” plus another verse expressing David’s hymnody [v. 3, “The mountains do not witness to him … the trees have cherished my words and the flock my works”). Unlike the Greek edition, the Hebrew version makes specific reference to the covenant in a longer form of v. 7 that describes the purpose of David’s anointing by Samuel: “and he made me leader to his people, and ruler over the sons of his covenant.”




M. G. ABEGG, P. W. FLINT, AND E. ULRICH 1999, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 585–86. • W. BAARS 1972, “Psalmi Apocryphi,” in The Old Testament in Syriac according to the Peshitt√a Version, Part 4.6, Leiden: Brill, i-x + 1–12, esp. 2–4. • J. H. CHARLESWORTH WITH J. A. SANDERS 1985, “More Psalms of David,” in OTP, 2.609–24, esp. 612–15. • P. W. FLINT 1998, “The Book of Psalms in the Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” VT 48: 453–72, esp. 467–69. • F. GARCÍA MARTÍNEZ, E. J. C. TIGCHELAAR, AND A. S. VAN DER WOUDE 1998, “11QPs b,” in Qumran Cave 11.II, DJD 23, Oxford: Clarendon, 37–47 + plate iii. • A. PIETERSMA 2000, A New English Translation of the Septuagint, and the Other Greek Translations Traditionally Included Under That Title: The Psalms, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000) 147–48. • J. A. SANDERS 1965, The Psalms Scroll of Qumrân Cave 11 [11QPsa], DJD 4, Oxford: Clarendon, 49, 53–64 + plate xvii. • J. C. VANDERKAM AND P. W. FLINT 2002, The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls, San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 189–91, 447.



Collins, John J. and Daniel C. Harlow. The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism. Accordance electronic edition, version 2.2. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010.

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