Le-ma'an Ziony

Essays in Honor of Ziony Zevit

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Frederick E. Greenspahn, Gary Rendsburg
  • Eugene, OR: 
    Cascade Books
    , March
     476 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


This festschrift, Le-ma’an Ziony, presented to Ziony Zevit by friends and colleagues, includes twenty-one essays written in his honor. As the editors repeatedly emphasize, the wide assortment of subjects these studies address appropriately reflects Zevit’s breadth and depth of biblically related interests and expertise. Zevit’s list of publications, included in the book, cover topics ranging from Semitic philology to archaeology and well reflects his broad range of knowledge, a rather uncommon trait among scholars and one that admirably follows in the footsteps of Zevit’s late and esteemed teacher, Jonas Greenfield.

The papers are divided into three categories. Part 1 contains seven papers covering history and archaeology. In the inaugural essay, William Dever delivers a classic “sermon on the mound,” discussing various aspects of his forthcoming book, an archaeologically-based history of Israel. Dever also summarizes this much anticipated and undoubtedly provocative work elsewhere for a popular audience (Whom Do You Believe—The Bible or Archaeology? Biblical Archaeology Review, 2017: 43-47, 58). Continuing his long and often vitriolic debate with the Sheffield and Copenhagen—and increasingly Tel Aviv—“minimalist” schools, Dever exposes their ongoing attempts to erase all historical credibility from the Hebrew Bible and argues that ideology, not objective scientific inquiry, drives their efforts. Avraham Faust summarizes his excavations at Tel ‘Eton—probably biblical Eglon—in the Shephelah of Judah, and draws conclusions for the status of the site during the Iron Age. During Iron Age I, Faust asserts that Canaanites occupied Tel ‘Eton, only to be assimilated or otherwise integrated into Judah during the tenth-century BCE, when the city expanded and raised fortifications. Substantial growth occurred during the eighth-century BCE, and Tel ‘Eton became an administrative center until its destruction by Assyrians in 701 BC. Steven Fine recounts the rise of Jewish interest in the Arch of Titus, specifically the images of articles plundered from the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE. Seymour Gitin responds to chronological issues raised regarding his excavations at Ekron, a major Philistine city and olive oil producer during the seventh-century BCE. Making extensive use of Israeli archival documents, Raz Kletter chronicles the establishment of municipal, local, and private museums in the nascent Jewish state. Carol Meyers writes on a specific aspect of the popular topic of Iron Age Israelite folk religion—focusing attention on disc-holding plaque figurines and their interpretation. Yet her descriptive essay suffers from the absence of any illustrations that showcase these artifacts. One of the best contributions to the volume, a reassessment of Kuntillet ‘Ajrud, comes from William Schniedewind. Eschewing the long-winded arguments equating the site with a religious shrine or pilgrimage destination, Schniedewind argues that Kuntillet ‘Ajrud existed for several generations as a way station along the Darb el-Ghazza trade route that traversed the Negeb Highlands linking the Red Sea with the Mediterranean, based upon pottery, epigraphy and 14C samples. The vexing question regarding hegemony and links with biblical history are compounded by the paucity of biblical data. However, 2 Chr 26:8 may hint at Judahite control over the site during the mid-eighth-century BCE, especially after the decline of the Jehu dynasty after Jeroboam II’s death.

Part 2 consists of seven essays concerning general topics relating to the Hebrew Bible. Adele Berlin discusses the idealized Jerusalem in Psalm 122. Michael Fox writes on the Qeré in the Masorah Parva. Zev Garber and Bruce Zuckerman contribute “The Odd Prophet Out and In,” followed by Frederick Greenspahn’s “Canon, Codex, and the Printing Press.” Theodore Lewis reflects upon a mythological subtext of Deicide underlying blasphemy in Leviticus 24. Shalom Paul shares his notes on crowns and diadems from both the Bible and Mesopotamian sources, and Karel van der Toorn writes on Psalm 20 and Amherst Papyrus 63, XII, 11-19.

The seven essays in Part 3 cover Hebrew and Aramaic language topics. Steven Fassberg writes on the difference between the causative Pi’el and Hiph‘il, and Richard Friedman translates the emphatic form. Gary Rendsburg and Ian Young illuminates Song of Songs 1:3, while Jeffrey Tigay explains the tolerative/permissive Hiph‘il. Frank Polak presents the syntactic-stylistic aspects of the Priestly Work in the Torah, and several scholars discuss the cognitive complexity in Biblical Hebrew pronunciation. The sole Aramaic paper, written by Lester Grabbe, comments on H. H. Rowley’s 1929 study of Aramaic of the Old Testament.

Unlike many festschriften, which are often sprinkled with not-quite-ready for prime-time essays, editors Greenspahn and Rendsburg have assembled an excellent array of scholars, edited a volume well befitting the honoree, and presented a superb collection of studies that biblical scholarship should not overlook.

About the Reviewer(s): 

Jeffrey P. Hudon is adjunct professor in the department of religion at Bethel College.

Date of Review: 
August 9, 2017
About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Frederick E. Greenspahn is Gimelstob Eminent Scholar of Judaic Studies at Florida Atlantic University. His publications include An Introduction to Aramaic (2nd ed., 2007) and When Brothers Dwell Together: The Preeminence of Younger Siblings in the Hebrew Bible (1994). He has also edited several books on interfaith relations as well as the NYU Press series Jewish Studies in the Twenty-First Century.

Gary A. Rendsburg serves as the Blanche and Irving Laurie Professor of Jewish History at Rutgers University. He is the author of five books, including How the Bible Is Written (2016), the coauthor of two others, and the coeditor of several additional volumes.



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