THE WORLD OF THE ARAMAEANS: I BIBLICAL STUDIES IN HONOUR OF PAUL-EUGÈNE DION; II STUDIES IN HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY IN HONOUR OF PAUL-EUGÈNE DION; III STUDIES IN LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE IN HONOUR OF PAUL-EUGÈNE DIONWritten by P.M. Michèle Daviau, John W. Wevers, Michael Weigl (eds.) Reviewed By P. J. Williams
The advantage of a three-volume Festschrift is that the volumes can be purchased separately. The first volume, on biblical studies, is the most relevant to this journal, but essays from the other volumes are also pertinent. Of the total of 35 essays, 25 are in English, seven in French, two in German and one Italian. At least eight essays in each volume are in English, and all non-English essays have English abstracts. Quite apart from the content of the essays, the extensive bibliographies at the end of each essay are useful in their own right.
Volume I opens with a first-rate treatment of the OT Canon by Stephen Dempster, showing, among other things, that just because biblical books were written on separate scrolls does not mean that there was no fixed order between them. Dempster also discusses the significance of general terms for the OT such as ‘the Law and the Prophets’ or ‘the Law, the Prophets and the other books’. These do not necessarily show a bipartite and tripartite canon respectively, but bipartite designations may be used to denote a canon that could also be thought of as tripartite. E.J. Revell argues that many vocabulary variations in the Joseph narrative are deliberate. Such synonyms ‘are used to emphasise the gap between the world of the implied reader and that of the events recorded’ (86). Douglas Frayne undertakes an enlightening review of place names in the region of Harran, showing a number of links to the biblical names in Genesis 11. John Wevers considers the representation of Aram and the Aramaeans in the Septuagint (although Wevers is one of the editors and renowned as a careful Septuagint scholar, a surprising number of errors occur in the Greek of his essay). Albert Pietersma argues convincingly that the Septuagint of Psalms was produced in Egypt, not Palestine. A couple of more speculative essays are by Alexander Rofé, reconstructing the ‘original’ order of some passages in Deuteronomy, and by André Lemaire arguing that the list of Edomite kings in Genesis 36:31–39 actually gives the names of Aramaean kings.
Volume II, on history and archaeology, contains several essays with more or less relevance to biblical studies. There are two generally level-headed studies, by Carl Ehrlich and by Guy Couturier on the Tel Dan inscription (the latter essay in French). John Holladay presents evidence at length that throughout the ancient Near East prior to 1000 bc traders were resident in cultures outside their own, thereby creating a network across which commodities could travel huge distances. An important essay to come to grips with is that of Piotr Bienkowski on Iron Age settlement in Edom, particularly in the location of Wadi Hasa. Bienkowski argues, by an analysis of the pottery, that there is no evidence of settlement in much of Edom for the whole of the second millennium bc. ‘No evidence for’ is not quite conclusive ‘evidence against’, but his work may, nevertheless, have important consequences for how we understand the entity ‘Edom’ mentioned in Numbers 20 near the time of the conquest.
Volume III contains the fewest essays directly relevant to biblical studies. Yet the few are important: Michael Weigl argues that the Sayings of Ahiqar (columns 6–8), show careful compositional arrangement. As Ahiqar is the closest extra-biblical literature to Proverbs as a whole, Weigl’s argument adds weight to the view that there is conscious ordering of sayings in Proverbs. Pierre Bordreuil makes two philological notes on the Mesha Inscription (both in French). The second of these argues that at the end of the text, in line 34, the obscure word šdq refers to a heavy rainfall. This would provide a striking coincidence between Mesha’s narrative and 2 Kings 3:20.
P. J. Williams
University of Aberdeen