This study brings together all ancient evidence to tell the story of the divine name, YHWH, as it travels in Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek through the Second Temple period, the most formative era of Judaism.
During the Second Temple period (516 BCE–70 CE), Jews became reticent to speak and write the divine name, YHWH, also known by its four letters in Greek as the tetragrammaton. Priestly, pious, and scribal circles limitted the use of God’s name, and then it disappeared. The variables are poorly understood and the evidence is scattered. This study brings together all ancient Jewish literary and epigraphic evidence in Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek to describe how, when, and in what sources Jews either used or avoided the divine name. Instead of a diachronic contrast from use to avoidance, as is often the scholarly assumption, the evidence suggests diverse and overlapping naming practices that draw specific meaning from linguistic, geographic, and social contexts.
Paul’s statement that seeds die after sowing in the soil before they germinate is often assessed as a commonly held view of antiquity. Some scholars even claim that it conforms to the scientific standards of ancient philosophy. This paper examines the sources cited as evidence for this claim and shows that it is untenable. Paul’s formulation is very unusual. His idea that seeds die does not make sense on the background of ancient botany. Similar, albeit not identical ideas can be found only in the context of some ancient mystery cults. It is difficult to assess how wide-spread they were.
This article argues that the notion of food plays an important role in the structural and thematic developments of the story of Jeroboam in 1 Kings 12–14. Food and the language related to it are not only mentioned throughout the vicissitudes of Jeroboam’s saga, but they also serve three literary functions. First, the motif reveals the attitudes of the tale’s characters and their responses towards Jeroboam’s reforms and God. Second, food also serves as a test of one’s faithfulness to God’s word. Third, for those who are disobedient to Yhwh’s word, food serves as judgement. In short, the narrative of Jeroboam is a reversal of the food chain. From being host of one of Israel’s greatest feasts, Jeroboam’s household will take a plunge to become dog and bird food.
The article examines the terms σωτήρ (Phil 3:20–21) and φιλία (Joh 15:12–17) which are characteristic of a special kind of early Christian speaking and communicating. Early Christianity learns within the linguistic guidelines of its environment to understand and express its own faith. The analysed ambiguous concepts (representative for many other terms) represent communicative contrasts: words which function as a communicative base and at the same time as a vehicle to modify and transform the perception of the addressed readers. As communicative contrasts, these terms promote the language skills of early Christianity and consolidate the identity of early Christian communities within Greek-Roman society.
Sexual violence against men is a neglected topic in the field of biblical studies. This article argues for a perspective informed by critical masculinity studies to understand sexual violence against men in an adequate way. It is used as a tool within masculine hierarchies to demean other men and their masculine performance. However, sexual violence against men is often hidden, in the texts as well as in their exegetical commentaries because sexual violence against men is almost unimaginable in common notions of successful masculinities. The article shows that sexual violence against men was used as a rhetorical tool in historical sources. Furthermore, it criticizes exegetical terminology about sexual violence against men (reversed rape, feminization) which conceal the impact of sexual violence on masculinities. The article closes with some considerations for further research.