Sunday, August 24, 2014

BMCR reviews

Johannes de Vries, Martin Karrer (ed.), Textual History and the Reception of Scripture in Early Christianity / Textgeschichte und Schriftrezeption im frühen Christentum. Society of Biblical Literature. Septuagint and cognate studies, 60​. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2013. Pp. xi, 434. ISBN 9781589839045. €54.95 (pb).

Reviewed by Geert Lernout, University of Antwerp (


This book represents the preliminary findings of an ambitious research project on the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Jewish Tanakh. As Johannes de Vries and Martin Karrer explain in their introduction, the Wuppertal Research Project (in cooperation with the universities of Koblenz and Saarbücken) began as the translation and annotation of the Septuagint, but soon textual, theological and historical issues came into focus as well. In the stage of the project which this book reports on, scholars look closely at the 449 relatively certain quotations of 357 different verses from the Septuagint (or LXX) in 389 verses of the New Testament.

Although the international project only began operation at the end of the previous century, 2006 it started to publish reports in the form of conference proceedings: the present bi-lingual volume is the fourth in that series. On the basis of the detailed study of the quotations from the Septuagint in early Christianity (New Testament writers and a selection of Christian authors from the second century), important conclusions emerge that will be of interest to everybody concerned with the textual history of a book that, in the case of the New Testament, has survived in almost ten times more manuscripts than any other classical text.

On the basis of the detailed work of the members of this research group, the editors are now able to claim (fully aware of the pitfalls), that “the New Testament turns out to be the best source for analyzing the text of Israel’s scriptures.” ...
That's quite a big claim.
Jason König, Katerina Oikonomopoulou, Greg Woolf (ed.), Ancient Libraries. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Pp. xx, 479. ISBN 9781107012561. $120.00.

Reviewed by David J. Wasserstein, Vanderbilt University (


It is easy to forget that the Library of Alexandria was not the only library in the ancient world. Its reputation, carefully cultivated by the ancients and burnished through generations of scholarship, has obscured the existence of other collections, some larger and more or less official, like that of Alexandria itself, some smaller and more personal, like that in the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. It is therefore good to have this new collection, the product of a conference held as long ago as 2008. Its 22 contributions cover a huge range. Although Rome with her empire takes the lion’s share of the attention, ancient Assyria and Egypt (and Alexandria), Athens and Pergamum and Herculaneum, are all represented too.

What were the role and function of libraries in the ancient world, both the classical world and its neighbors? How did they operate, arrange their holdings and know and make known to others what they held? Who enjoyed access to them, and for what purposes? Who funded them and why?

Nothing on the Dead Sea Scrolls? More on the Library of Alexandria is here and links. More on the Library of Herculaneum is here and links. Random other ancient libraries are mentioned here, here, here, here, here, and links. The conference that produced this book was held here at the University of St Andrews in 2008.