In Memoriam: James A. Sanders

Earlier this month we learned of the passing of James A. Sanders, a giant in biblical studies with a giant-sized influence in the scholarly world of biblical (and extrabiblical) manuscripts. His legacy will long survive him: just the other day I was consulting one of my volumes of Critique Textuelle de l’Ancien Testament over a textual matter. He was one of the editors of that goodly set and a part of the committee devoted to analyzing textual variants in the Hebrew Bible whose report constituted that set. One of my colleagues here at Houston Baptist University, Craig Evans, notified the HBU faculty of Sanders’ passing, and with his permission I am posting that note here, as it forms a fitting eulogy to the man and his influence on Craig and others.

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3 October 2020

Dear SCT Colleagues:

I pass on to you sad news. As some of you may have already heard, James A. Sanders, born 28 November 1927, passed away Thursday morning, 1 October 2020. Jim was nearing his 93rd birthday. I met Jim in Claremont, California, at the beginning of the fall semester in 1977. It was the beginning of my doctoral studies. Jim was 49 and I was 25. Jim was always a handsome, youthful fellow. In fact, he could have passed for Dick Clark’s brother! Jim had just moved from Union Seminary in New York to the Claremont School of Theology, to launch the newly built Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center (ABMC), which housed in its climate-controlled vault thousands of images of biblical manuscripts, including microfilm and microfiche images of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Jim served as ABMC President until 2004. While at Union Jim’s colleagues included the likes of J. Louis Martyn and Raymond E. Brown.

Although Jim was not my doctoral supervisor (Bill Brownlee was), he played an important mentoring role while I was at Claremont and throughout my career. He and I founded in 1989 and then co-chaired the SBL program unit Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity. This in turned led to the founding of the Studies in Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity (SSEJC) series published by Sheffield Academic Press, then later Continuum, and now Bloomsbury T&T Clark. To date, we have published 21 volumes in the SSEJC series and two more volumes are in the works. As you may know, Jim served as the President of the Society of Biblical Literature in 1979. Jim’s best known work is Torah and Canon (1972). Jim was also well known for his The Psalms Scroll of Qumrân Cave 11 (DJD 4; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965), whose conclusions were confirmed many years later by Peter Flint’s work on all of Qumran’s Psalms scrolls.

Jim and I co-authored Luke and Scripture (Fortress Press, 1993) and co-edited several books, mostly in the SSEJC series. We presented together at several conferences, at SBL and elsewhere. I had the opportunity to edit, along with Shemaryahu Talmon (1920-2010), a Festschrift in honor of Jim, on the occasion of his 70th birthday. The 700-page book is called The Quest for Context and Meaning (BIS 28; Leiden: Brill, 1997). Contributors included Reginald Fuller and W. D. Davies. In recent years I helped Jim assemble his studies in two volumes: Scripture in Its Historical Contexts. Volume I: Text, Canon, and Qumran(FAT 118; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2018), and Scripture in Its Historical Contexts. Volume II: Exegesis, Hermeneutics, and Theology (FAT 126; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2019). Jim was awarded an honorary doctorate at Acadia University, where coincidentally I found myself on the faculty many years later. In fact, while at Acadia Divinity College I became friends with Jim Perkin, former President of Acadia University and himself a New Testament scholar, who had nominated Jim for the award.

Jim Sanders was a prince of a fellow. His wife Dora, whom Jim loved very much, died in June of 2016, at the age of 88. Dora danced, played the piano, the violin, and the organ. Dora participated in the American Dance Festival every summer from 1949 to 2004. She and Jim were quite the pair: Jim from Memphis, Tennessee, and Dora from New Jersey (and, spiritually, from New York). Jim and Dora had one child, a son, Robin David Sanders Sr., and two grandsons Robin David Sanders Jr, and Alexander Jonathan Sanders. It was Alex who in 2017 invited me and Ginny to fly out to California to attend Jim’s 90th birthday party. Although that visit was not possible, we did have opportunities to see Jim on other occasions in California and lunch with him. (Often when I flew to California in summers to teach at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, I had the chance to visit Jim.)

Jim was one of the best biblical scholars of our era. Of all my professors at Claremont (and they were all good), it was Jim Sanders who could bring together the exegetical and textual minutiae and the big picture. It was he who taught me what textual criticism really was and what biblical criticism was and wasn’t and how it could edify the Church. For Jim faith and scholarship were never at odds but were always complementary. Some of my former and current grad students have complimented me by making that observation. Well, now you know where I got it. Jim will be sorely missed but his legacy will be a lasting one.

Best,

CAE

Craig A. Evans, Ph.D., D.Habil.

John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins

Houston Theological Seminary

Houston Baptist University

7502 Fondren Road

Houston, TX 77074

281-649-3210 (office)

281-649-3451 (fax)

cevans@hbu.edu

http://www.craigaevans.com 

http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Craig-A-Evans/170270436355829

In Memoriam: Steve Hays (1959-2020)

Today an old friend of mine passed away. We knew each other from seminary days at Westminster Theological Seminary-CA where Greg Welty introduced us some time around 1995 or 1996. All three of us at one time or another served as teaching assistants to Prof. John Frame. Steve was incredibly well-read, trenchant in his critiques, and creative in his musings. Not by any means perfect, he did love his perfect savior, Jesus Christ, and attempted at every opportunity to work out the lordship of Christ in every area of life. Scripture and its authority always had the last word with Steve. That was refreshing.

The announcement of Steve’s passing was made this morning on the theology/philosophy/apologetics website that Steve started a few decades ago, Triablogue:

Steve Hays (1959-2020)

We just learned that Steve Hays has passed away in a hospice. He had cancer and heart disease. Both conditions were initially treatable, but he declined treatment. He was content to let go and die a natural death. What he lived by, he died by. He was preceded in death by both his parents.

Click here to read the rest of the announcement and the comments by those who benefited from Steve’s writing ministry. Rest in peace, Steve Hays.

It’s NEVER too late to learn Hebrew….

One of the blessings of working in a university setting is getting to meet fascinating people and learning about the interesting things they know. Today, I was sent a little treasure by Diana Severance, the director of HBU’s Dunham Bible Museum. Below is a screenshot of some Hebrew-related material from William Bradford. According to Diana,

Pilgrim William Bradford, governor and historian of Plymouth plantation, began learning Hebrew in his old age, and some of his practice sessions of Hebrew are in the front pages of a copy of his History of Plimoth Plantation. The English writing at the top says:

Though I am  growne  aged, yet I have had a long-
ing desire, to see with  my own eyes, something of
that  most ancient language,  and  holy  tongue,
in which  the Law, and  oracles  of  God  were
write; and in which God, and angels, spake to
the holy patriarks, of old time; and what
names were  given  to things,  from the
creation. And though I cañot attaine
to much herein, yet I am refreshed,
to have seen some glimpse  here-
of; (as  Moses  saw  the Land
of canan afarr of)  my aime
and desire is, to see how
the words, and  phrases
lye in  the holy  texte;
and to dicerne some-
what of the  same
for  my  owne
contente.

 Whether you’re young or old, we’d love to have you come and learn Hebrew at HBU with us! Enjoy the picture below!

William Bradford on Hebrew

ATTN: Free Luncheon Invite for Graduates of HBU’s School of Christian Thought on Wed, Aug 29

holcombe mall at hbu

Back to School Luncheon
Wednesday, August 29, 2018
12:00pm – 1:30pm | Luncheon in Dillon II

The Office of Alumni Relations invites all graduates from the School of Christian Thought to join us for a luncheon on campus welcoming Dr. Todd Bates, who serves as the new dean of the HBU School of Christian Thought.

Lunch will include a brief program with remarks by Dr. Todd Bates and a campus update by Dr. Robert B. Sloan, President. See campus map for details.

PLEASE RSVP:
https://www.hbu.edu/…/alumni-event/school-of-christian-tho…/

For more information, contact the Office of Alumni Relations at 281.649.3413 or alumniassociation@hbu.edu.

11:00 | Opening Convocation in Dunham Theater
Immediately Following | Tug-Of-War in Holcombe Mall
12:00pm – 1:30pm | Luncheon in Dillon II

Should your schedule permit, join us at 11am for Opening Convocation in Dunham Theater with the annual Tug-of-War between freshmen and upperclassmen immediately following in Holcombe Mall.

Scribal Errors and Decorative Cakes

I recently came across a few photos of signs and instructions that were spelled incorrectly or had suffered from inappropriate chopping by the word-processor. That reminded me of some cakes I’ve seen where the text of the customer’s Vorlage (the text in front of them, or in their head) did not make it onto the baker’s Big Tip With ballons and crap Blue Flowers ConformationEnjoy your VD Just a flower Just Happy Bday LowerCase Musical Notes No Periods Nothing Nuts Allergy Super Bowel Under Neat That usb-cake-mistakeWith Sprinkles Your Weedingcake unscatCongratshed. Some of these sorts of scribal errors would be classified under errors of hearing, although in many instances it’s simply a matter of faulty comprehension: they heard the word correctly, but failed to understand the intention.  Enjoy.

 

Why Study Language? For Poetry.

This was an interesting post about why studying the original languages is important. My Hebrew students who are reading some Psalms with me this semester know this to be true! There is so much playing with language in poetry; no English translation can possibly deliver to its readers what the Hebrew readers devour with delight! [By the way, the site from which this comes is interesting, but they also post on things from the classical world that are bawdy. So reader beware, if you decide to poke around some more.]

SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE

From Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson:

We talked of translation. I said, I could not define it, nor could I think of a similitude to illustrate it; but that it appeared to me the translation of poetry could be only imitation. JOHNSON. ‘You may translate books of science exactly. You may also translate history, in so far as it is not embellished with oratory, which is poetical. Poetry, indeed, cannot be translated; and, therefore, it is the poets that preserve languages; for we would not be at the trouble to learn a language, if we could have all that is written in it just as well in a translation. But as the beauties of poetry cannot be preserved in any language except that in which it was originally written, we learn the language.’

This is best in the original!

View original post

Summer Bible Study: Change and Your Relationships

Relationships

This summer at Founders Baptist Church, where I serve as part-time Pastor of Adult Education & Discipleship, we are working through a study guide called Change and Your Relationships: A Mess Worth Making(by Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp). We kick off the study on June 12 and then work through the 12 chapters until Sept 11 (one Sunday is a catch-up day). Most of our Adult Bible Fellowships (AFBs) are going through this study on Sundays at 9am (until 10:30), and I invite you to join us.

From the publisher’s website: “Timothy Lane and Paul Tripp skillfully help individuals and small groups identify the deeper issues that keep relationships less than they are designed to be. They give practical direction on how to resolve conflicts, have difficult conversations, grant forgiveness, overlook weaknesses, celebrate strengths, and grow casual relationships into deep friendships.”

From the front-matter of the Study Guide: “As you work through Change and Your Relationships, it is our hope that you will learn to think more clearly about the primary purpose of relationships and how important they are in conforming us to the likeness of Christ. This key idea of being conformed to Christ can and should radically reorient the way we think about friendships, marriages, relationships with our children and parents, our neighbors, coworkers, and everyone in between.”

Paul Tripp made an excerpt available online, which includes some of the introductory material and the first chapter. You can find it by clicking here.

HBU Theology Conference This Week: FREE SESSIONS

erasmus

In case you’re interested, there is a conference going on at Houston Baptist University at the end of this week commemorating the 500-year anniversary of the *first* published Greek New Testament, an event that helped fuel the Protestant Reformation. There are FOUR FREE plenary sessions, open to the public. I list them below, followed by more info on the conference. Please feel free to come, as well as to distribute this to anyone you think would be interested in attending any of the sessions. Some fine scholars will be speaking in the plenary sessions (Timothy George and Daniel Wallace, for example, as well as HBU’s own Craig Evans, and Reformation scholar Herman Selderhuis!).

Thursday, 7:30pm: Plenary Lecture 1 (Belin Chapel): Timothy George “Erasmus and the Search for the Christian Life”

Friday, 9:00-10:15am: Plenary Lecture 2 (Belin Chapel): Craig A. Evans “Erasmus and the Beginnings of Textual Fundamentalism”

Friday, 7:30pm: Plenary Lecture 3 (Belin Chapel): Daniel B. Wallace “Erasmus and the Publication of the First Greek New Testament”

Saturday, 9:00-10:15am: Plenary Lecture 4 (Belin Chapel): Herman Selderhuis “The Impact of Erasmus´ Biblical Work on the Reformation”

For more info on the conference, the schedule, and the speakers, click here.

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HBU Theology Conference

Ad Fontes, Ad Futura:
Erasmus’ Bible and the Impact of Scripture

February 25-27, 2016
Houston Baptist University

In celebration of upcoming 500th anniversary of Erasmus’ Greek text and the Reformation, the Department of Theology at HBU, in conjunction with the Dunham Bible Museum, is pleased to host the conference Ad Fontes, Ad Futura: Erasmus’ Bible and the Impact of Scripture. The conference will consider the textual and historical issues surrounding the development of the Bible, the Bible’s impact on human society across the centuries, and the future of Biblical translation and interpretation in the future. Our keynote speakers include Craig Evans (Houston Baptist University), Timothy George (Beeson Divinity School, Samford University), Herman Selderhuis (Theological University Apeldoorn) and Daniel B. Wallace (Dallas Theological Seminary). The plenary talks are free and open to the public.

Registration
The conference will be held at Houston Baptist University, Houston, TX. The conference fee is $40, which includes refreshments and coffee. Accommodations and meals are not included in the conference fee.

If you are affiliated with HBU (faculty, staff, or student), admission to the conference is free. To register please send an email from your HBU account to theology@hbu.edu, giving your name as you want it on your nametag.

Register and pay online now.

You’re Invited to Hear Dr. Danny Akin in Houston, Fri-Sun, March 27-29 for FREE Conference

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13TH ANNUAL SPURGEON CONFERENCE

Friday, March 27th – 7:00pm
Saturday, March 28th – 7:00pm
Sunday, March 29th – 9:00am & 10:30am

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There is NO CHARGE to attend. Click here to see full announcement at the Founders Baptist Church website. Location of Founders Baptist: 24724 ALDINE WESTFIELD RD. SPRING, TX 77373

Promoting the study of Biblical Hebrew, Biblical Aramaic, and Hellenistic Greek