First Day of School

Today was my first day of school, for the 2007-2008 school year, that is. I am only taking two classes, since I will be spending a lot of time preparing for my comprehensive exams. My classes look excellent. One is on intertextuality, and we will be reading Michael Fishbane’s Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel. The topic concerns how biblical authors interpreted and used earlier writings that made their way into the Hebrew Bible.

I am also taking a class on 4 Maccabees. That class was interesting because of two issues that were discussed today: hell and the different biblical canons. I have been thinking about hell for a while because I have interacted with a Christian universalist, who asserts that hell in the Bible is not eternal. She argues that the Greek word “aionios” does not mean forever, but my finding is that the words olam (in Hebrew), aion, and aionios can mean forever, but not in every case. Anyway, my class was discussing the immortality of the soul and the resurrection in Hellenistic Judaism. Hellenistic Judaism sometimes has the concept of eternal torment in hell, but there is also the idea that an unvirtuous soul will suffer for a while and then be extinguished. The implication of the latter view is that only the virtuous soul lives forever.

Regarding the different Christian canons, this issue interests me because of my discussions with Roman Catholics. When I listen to Catholics, I get the impression that they see the deuterocanonical books as equal in inspiration to the books that Jews and Protestants accept. The impression I got from class today, however (and my impression may be wrong), was that the term deuterocanonical means that the books under this category were deemed second in importance by the Catholic church. This means that they could be read in church, but they are not authoritative for doctrine. This is an important issue, since Protestants accuse Catholics of basing the doctrine of purgatory on a text in Maccabees (one of them).

Any thoughts? Insights? Info?

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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4 Responses to First Day of School

  1. J. B. Hood says:

    I would recommend deSilva’s book, Introducing the Apocrypha. Great read. He has good introductory discussion on canonicty, etc., as well.


  2. James Pate says:

    Thanks, J.B. DeSilva’s book on 4 Maccabees is on our list of recommended reading for the class. I’ll take a look at his book on the apocrypha.


  3. Ed Gallagher says:

    Sixtus Senensis is the guy, about 1556, who coined the term “deuterocanonical,” and what he meant by it was that these books were recognized as authoritative later chronologically, but not that they are of secondary authority. I’m sure that modern Catholic views on the subject differ, but I think the “official” position is still that of Sixtus.


  4. James Pate says:

    Thanks, Ed. 🙂


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