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A Basic Vocabulary of Biblical Studies For

Beginning Students: A Work in Progress


, and Mary F. Foskett

Fred L. Horton Kenneth G. Hoglund

Wake Forest University
2011 All rights reserved.



Definition of Terms
A. D. Latin: "the year of the Lord." A sectarian designation for dates which always goes before the numerical date.
Examples: A. D. 1987. A. D. 70. Dates A. D. are the same as those C. E. Used together with B. C. flh
Angel Greek: "messenger." The Hebrew term mal'ak can refer either to a human messenger such as a prophet or to a
heavenly messenger. In the NT the term refers exclusively to heavenly beings. See below: gods. flh
Apocalypse Greek: "revelation." A written account of a vision of the heavenly world and/or of the future. As a
genre the apocalypse is characterized by bizarre imagery which the prophet does not understand and which must be
explained to him by a heavenly guide. The difficult imagery reflects the understanding of a sectarian group about
the meaning of the present time in relation to the heavenly world and about the future. "The Apocalypse" refers to
the Book of Revelation. Other apocalypses may be found in Daniel 7-12. flh
Apocalytpic Short for "apocalyptic eschatology," the understanding of the future based upon a revelation (Greek:
apocalypsis) rather than upon speculation or calculation. flh
Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical Books Greek "hidden," a term employed by St. Jerome (died 420 C. E.). The
books in the Greek Septuagint but not in the Hebrew Bible. These books are accepted as canon among most
Christian churches, though rejected as canon by the Protestant churches in favor of the shorter list of books found in
the Hebrew Bible. Though the exact list differs from church to church, the main collection of "extra books" consists
of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Ben Sira (Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees, and additions to Esther
and Daniel. See also Septuagint Vulgate, and Jamnia. flh
Apophthegm A very thin story built up around a saying (of Jesus or of a prophet). The function of the story is to
explain or to exemplify the content of the saying, and the interest of the story remains with the saying even when the
narrative includes a wondrous act. flh
Aramaic A Semitic language which came to be the official language of the western Persian Empire and,
consequently, a language spoken by the Jews during the Persian Period (late sixth century B. C. E.) and continued in
use for many centuries thereafter. Portions of Ezra and Daniel are in Aramaic, and a few of Jesus' sayings in the NT
are given in Aramaic. flh
Aramaism A Semitism best explained on the basis of Aramaic grammar, syntax, or vocabulary. flh

B. C. English: "before Christ." A sectarian notation to designate dates before the birth of Christ. This notation is
placed after the numerical date. Used together with A. D. flh
B. C. E. English: "before the common era," a non-sectarian notation equivalent in meaning to the sectarian B. C.
The notation is placed after the numerical date. Used together with C. E. flh
Belief An intellectual conviction of some kind. In the study of religion it usually has reference to an intellectual
conviction about the world of the gods or the relationship of that world to the world of ordinary experience. Except
in the case of the Pastoral Epistles, the word "belief" is not equivalent to the word "faith." flh
Bible Greek biblos, "scroll," or "book." In modern English the term refers to the scriptures. This word has become
common because of the invention of printing that made it possible to generate exactly the same text in codex form
time after time. In this course "Bible" will be synonymous with "Christian scripture(s)." In reference to the
Masoretic Text, we shall refer either to the Hebrew scripture(s) or to the Hebrew Bible. flh
C. E. English: "common era." A non-sectarian notation for dates preferred in biblical studies. Although the dates are
exactly the same as dates introduced with A. D., it does not force non-Christians to express their dates as "in the year
of the Lord." Used together with B. C. E. flh
Canon Greek: "rule" or "measure." In Christian usage canon refers to rules adopted by a council. Protestants use the
word almost exclusively to refer to their canon of scripture, often specified in a confession of faith. This usage has
become common in English even among non-protestant writers as a way of referring to the scriptures, but this usage
obscures the differences between the texts each religious sect recognizes as canonical. Thus, Catholics, Orthodox,
and Anglicans recognize Ben Sirach as scripture, but Moravians, Presbyterians and Baptists do not. Especially
confusing is the expression "the canon" in reference to scripture in that it begs the question as to what works are
meant. Because the word "canon" derives from Christian practice, it is never appropriate to refer to Jewish scriptures
as "the Jewish canon." Recently, Catholic writers have used the term "deuterocanonical" in reference to the
Apocrypha to underscore their belief that these books cannot be used alone to determine matters of faith or morals.
Characterization The modes employed by an author in to describe to the reader the personality and mind of a
character in a narrative. flh
Christ Hymn Philippians 2:6-11, widely believed to be a pre-Pauline Christian hymn to Christ used by Paul and
amended by him only with the words "and death on a cross" in verse 8. See also kenosis. flh
Clean See unclean.
Codex What we in modern English would call a "book." The codex replaced the scroll as the preferred means of
reproducing long documents after its introduction in the second or third century C. E. by the Christians of Egypt.
See Bible. flh
Cult See cultus below. The term "cult" in religious studies does not automatically refer to a fanatical sect as it does
in contemporary English. flh
Cult Objects Implements used in the performance of cultic acts. These might include vessels for sacrifices, special
clothing for cultic officials, written texts. Architectural features such as altars and pillars might also be termed by
some authors cult objects. flh
Cultic A modern adjective that refers to those ritual activities that relate human beings to the world of the gods.
These include such activities as sacrifices, washings, dances, drama, and others. flh

Cultus A specific organized body of ritual activities that relate human beings to the world of the gods. See cultic
above. The term may also be used loosely to refer to the institution which supports the practice of those ritual
activities. Thus one may speak of the "Temple cultus," meaning both the ritual acts of the temple and to the temple
as the institution under whose auspices these activities occur. flh

Dead Sea Scrolls A collection of biblical and non-biblical scrolls found in caves ar
site of Qumran on the northeast corner of the Dead Sea. Although there is some de
these scrolls, most investigators believe that they represent the writings of a Jewish
the Essenes in the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus. The Qumran sect brok
cultus in Jerusalem under the leadership of a person known in the documents only a
Righteousness. Evidently, the sectarians opposed the takeover of the high-priestho
kings, and mention is made of the Wicked Priest who opposed the Teacher of Righ
believed that at the end of time the heavenly armies would join with the Qumran se
Maccabees from the temple and restore the rightful high-priesthood. Later, the sect
Romans represented the legions of Satan were to be dispossessed by the Spirit of T
that Spirit. The biblical scrolls at Qumran include some portion of all the books of t
in consonantal form without vowels or punctuation, except for the book of Esther.
biblical manuscripts found to date. flh

Wadi Qumran and Qumran Cave 4

Fred L. Horton

Demon Primarily a NT concept, the demon is a natural but incomplete being that seeks completion through
possession of a human body. Demons inhabit unclean places such as graveyards, deserts, and ruined buildings. In
the Synoptic Gospels the demons are earthly allies of Satan. flh
D Abbreviation for the source of the basic content of the Book of Deuteronomy (especially Deuteronomy 12-26), a
revision of the laws that appear to build upon and in some cases even change the laws of JE. The abbreviation is
used as part of the Documentary Hypothesis. flh
Deuteronomistic Historian (Dtr) The books Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, and 1-2 Kings are our primary source for
the history of Israel from the time of the tribes until the fall of the Kingdom of Judah. The collection shows a
consistent viewpoint about Israel's history: When Israel was faithful to its covenant with God, it prospered.
Otherwise, it failed. Since this is also the view of the Book of Deuteronomy and since the language and style of
these historical books is similar to those of Deuteronomy, scholars speak of the "Deuteronomistic History" or the
"Deuteronomistic Historian" and abbreviate this usage as "Dtr." Although there is a remarkable consistency in style
and language within Dtr, it is also clear that the author has depended upon other written sources. Nevertheless, the
general designation "Deuteronomistic Historian" has stood the test of time. In some respects Dtr develops the ideas

of Deuteronomy in important ways. In the first place, it is not unambiguously pro-monarchy, and David's rape of
Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11 shows the ultimate arrogance of power predicted time and again by the prophet Samuel.
The ultimate ruin of the monarchy ultimately derives from the flaw inherent in its structure from the beginning.
Secondly, the particular unfaithfulness of Israel in Dtr is that of Baalism. flh
diatribe Rudolf Bultmann in his dissertation of 1910 Der Stil der paulinischen Predigt und die kynisch-stoische
Diatribe described the diatribe in terms of an imaginary dialogue between teacher and student in which the student
brings forward (usually absurd or stupid) objections to the teacher's doctrine to be answered by a gruff "By no
means!" or some equivalent phrase. Bultmann believed the diatribe derived from moral-philosophical teaching to the
masses and finds its use in several of the authentically Pauline letters as well. flh.
Divine Council The assembly of the gods, especially as that assembly is depicted in the Hebrew Bible. This is the
biblical equivalent of the divine council in Canaan ite mythology and the stories of the gods on Mt. Olympus in
Greek mythology. In the Hebrew Bible, however, only Yahweh's will can be served, and the function of the council
seems to be for advice only. flh
Documentary Hypothesis This hypothesis, sometimes erronenously called the Wellhausen Hypothesis, holds that
the writings of the Pentateuch derive from four sources, the Yahwist (J), a southern source that provides the main
narrative outline of the Pentateuch, the Elohist (E), a northern source, later than J, that supplements J, D, the core
material in the Book of Deuteronomy, and the Priestly Writer, who composed a long legal commentary on JE in
Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers, as well as the whole of Leviticus. P dates to the time of the Exile (597/586-539
BCE). The contribution of Wellhausen was to order these sources chronologically as JEDP. flh
Elohist (E) According to the Documentary Hypothesis, this is a northern (Israelite) source that supplements J and
stems from as early as the end of the 8th century BCE..
Eschatology Literally, the "study/doctrine of last things." Any doctrine about the end, whether of a particular age or
of all time. For "apocalyptic eschatology," see apocalyptic. flh
Etymology The derivation of a word (often a proper name) from a root or earlier form of the word. A false
etymology is one that does not, in fact, correspond to the historical origin of the word. Example: "She shall be called
wo-man ('ishshah) because she came out of man ('ish)." (Genesis 2:23) This is an example of a false etymology
because Hebrew 'ishshah comes from a completely different root from that of '
Exegesis The exposition of a biblical passage that involves the application of specific critical methodologies. The
aim of this exercise is to produce a homiletical or theological piece based on the exegesis. Most exegeses are divided
unevenly into lower criticism (textual criticism) and higher criticism. Under "higher criticism" is included the
philological, historical, form-critical, redaction-critical, and literary-critical study of the text. Ordinarily exegesis
proper, as a literary undertaking in its own right, requires knowledge of the relevant biblical languages and is
normally an exercise assigned in divinity schools and seminaries. flh
Exposition The explanation of a biblical passage. Although virtually any explanation might be called an
"exposition" in ordinary parlance, the implication is that the explanation is made for a particular reason or with a
particular goal in mind. So "homilitical exposition" would be exposition for a sermon. "Critical exposition" would
be an attempt to explain a passage from a set of critical principles, usually those of historical criticism. One could, of
course, give a moral exposition or a mystical exposition or any of a number of different kinds of exposition. The
term has much broader meaning than the word exegesis.flh
Faith Usually synonymous with "trust." Only in the Pastoral Epistles does the term faith come to mean adherence to
a body of beliefs (see above). flh
Form In biblical studies form most often refers to oral forms for the transmission of tradition. Form Criticism
(Formgeschichte) attempts to trace the history of the transmission of a pericope (see below) from the stage of oral
tradition to its inclusion within the written biblical text. In biblical studies form and genre mean different things. flh

Form Criticism (Formgeschichte) The study of biblical texts in terms of the oral traditions that underlie them.
Pioneers of this kind of study included Hermann Gunkel for the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament scholars
Rudolf Bultmann, Martin Dibelius, and K. L. Schmidt. The method seeks to go beyond the insights of source
criticism to relate oral forms with their setting in the life (Sitz im Leben) of ancient Israel or of the early Christianity.
Form critics generally regard the final author of a biblical book as an editor who assemples the various pericopae
into connected literary products. The study of K L. Schmidt, Der Rahmen der Geschichte Jesu ("The Framework of
the Story of Jesus,"1917) showed the author of Mark as a collector and arranger of individual traditions about Jesus.
Rudolf Bultmann in his work entitled Die Geschichte der synoptischen Tradition ("History of the Synoptic
Tradition," 1921) applied the method in a thoroughgoing way to the three synoptic Gospels. Hermann Gunkel's
studies on Genesis and on the Psalms developed the methodology for use by scholars in the field of Hebrew Bible.
Genealogy A list of offspring, usually traced only through the male line, but not always. Often the reader can find a
numerical scheme such as decreasing years of life for successive generations. Narrative functions of genealogies
differ according to context, but a genealogy may do such things as link two stories that are widely separated in time
or provide a background for an important character. kh
Genre In literary theory genre means, roughly, a "kind" of literature. A biography is of a different genre from that of
a romance or of a history. The reader expects different things from two different genres of literature. flh
God In the English Bible the singular word "God" with an initial capital letter refers to Yahweh, the God of Israel.
The English word translates several different Hebrew words, but the most common is 'elohim, which is a plural noun
in formation. Whether 'elohim refers to the one God or to many gods depends upon whether a singular or a plural
verb is employed. The other Hebrew words translated "God" in the English Bible are 'el and 'eloha. In proper
Hebrew names one often finds the suffix -el. For instance, Nathaniel, "gift of God." The Greek word for "God" is
theos. (Note: It is never acceptable English to capitalize personal pronouns that refer to the noun "God" except when
they begin sentences.) flh
gods The Hebrew Bible refers to many heavenly beings under various names. The word 'elohim (see God) often
refers to these beings, as does the plural 'elim. Further, the terms bne 'elim and bne 'elohim ("sons of the gods")
likewise refer to these same beings. The LXX often translated "gods" as "angels" (see above), and in the NT these
heavenly beings are invariably called "angels." flh
Haustafel (plural: Haustafeln) . German meaning "household code" and referring to a list of responsibilities that
members of a household have toward one another. Two complete Haustafeln in the New Testament are Colossians
3:18-4:1, Ephesians 5:21-6:9. See also 1 Peter 2:13-3:12. flh
Heaven Properly, the air space between the earth and the dome of the sky (the firmament). Usually plural in
Hebrew, the heavens are the abode of all the gods and of Yahweh. The gods do not fly around this heaven, however.
The abode of the gods in heaven is normally represented as being upon a great mountain and, in that respect, is like
the Greek Mt. Olympus. See also underworld. flh
Hebraism In practice, this refers to a phrase in Greek that is cumbersome or even ungrammatical which, when
translated literally into Hebrew is neither cumbersome nor ungrammatical. An example would be the use of kai
egeneto in the Gospels followed by a an expression of time or another verb. This corresponds exactly to the classical
Hebrew narrative sequence. Whether the Hebraism is actually a translation of Hebrew or simply an attempt to make
the text read like scripture is a matter of argument. See Semitism. flh
Hebrew A Semitic language spoken by the Israelites from at least the Late Bronze Age on. Its "classical" form is the
Hebrew of the Book of Deuteronomy. The language continued in ordinary usage among Jews well into the Middle
Ages and was revived for modern use in the 19th century. flh
Hebrew Bible The Tanach, the books in Hebrew and Aramaic accepted by Jews as holy scripture. flh

Hebraism A Semitism best explained in terms of Hebrew grammar, syntax, or vocabulary. flh
Hermeneutics Greek: "interpretation." The study of how one interprets texts (for our purposes, the biblical text).
For instance, one may interpret the biblical text with a view to deriving its moral teaching. This would be a moral
hermeneutic. Another might interpret the text to discover its meaning for Christian dogma. This would be a
dogmatic hermeneutic. Another might be interested in its historical meaning, and this would be a historical
hermeneutic. flh
Herodotus of Halikarnassus (484 BCca.425 BC) The "Father of History," created his five-volume "investigations"
into the deep causes of the Greek-Persian conflict. He used this vehicle to give invaluable geographical,
anthropological, and political detail derived from his extensive travels around the Mediterranean. flh
Hexateuch Greek: "six scroll cases" Many Hebrew Bible scholars, including Julius Wellhausen, believed that the
three sources JE and P continued into the Book of Joshua and so wrote in terms of a Hexateuch instead of a
Pentateuch. Most researchers now would assign Joshua to the Deuteronomistic Historian (Dtr).
Historical Although this adjective should, properly speaking, could describe some element of any history (see
below), its ordinary meaning is in reference to a historical sequence determined by modern historians. flh
History Greek: "investigation." As a literary genre, a history is a written prose text that organizes the events of the
past in a causal sequence. When such written texts relate their causal sequences in story form, the designation is
narrative history. All of the Bible's histories are narrative histories. Herodotus (484 BCca.425 BC) was the first to
write in this mode. flh
History of Religion This is the study of the Bible in terms of the religious traditions that influenced it. The
practitioners of this methodology were less interested in comparing biblical religion to Babylonian, Persian, Jewish,
Hellenistic, and Early Christian religions than in showing how aspects of these religions influenced the shape of the
biblical witness. The movement, often called die religionsgeschichtliche Schule ("the History of Religion School")
began at the University of Gttingen toward the end of the 19th century and declined after the First World War
because of post-war protestant reaction against historicism in theological studies. Among some of the most famous
members of this movement were Wilhelm Bousett, Hermann Gunkel, Johannes Weiss, Rudolf Otto, Alfred Rahlfs,
and Hugo Gressmann. In addition to the many individual works of scholarship contributed by these scholars, the
encyclopedia Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart ("Religion in History and in the Present" abbreviated
RGG), is a lasting memorial to their insights. flh
Holy Synonym: "sacred." There is no precise definition for this term. It is used in binary opposition to terms like
"profane" or "common." To call something "holy" is to claim that it belongs to the world of the unclean. See below.
Introduction In biblical studies an "introduction" means a written orientation to a book or passage that introduces
the reader to the critical issues involved. These usually include questions of authorship, date of writing, place of
writing, literary type, historical setting, and principal themes. Full introductions will also discuss the history of the
written text and ancient versions. flh

Jamnia (Hebrew: Yavneh) Before the end of the Roman siege of Jerusalem in 70 C. E., Yohanan ben Zakkai petitioned
the Romans for permission to found an academy for scholars at Jamnia on the coast (near modern Tel Aviv). There the
tradition of the Pharisees was codified, including their tradition about which books were holy, i. e. which books should be
regarded as scripture. Because the Jamnia scholars became the legitimate Jewish authority after the fall of Jerusalem, their
list of Hebrew books, what we call the Hebrew Bible, came to be recognized by Jews everywhere as the scripture. From
that time on, the books of the LXX that were not also in the list from Jamnia, were not regarded by Jews as holy. These
excluded books are those St. Jerome referred to as the "hidden" books or Apocrypha. flh

Jerome (c. 342-420) was born in Strido near Aquileia on the north shore of the Adriatic. He studied in Rome,
Antioch, Constaniople and spent five years in a Syrian monastery and learned Hebrew there. After service to Pope
Damasus in Rome, he returned to Palestine where he founded a monastery in Bethlehem. He himself lived below the
Church of the Nativity in natural limestone caverns. It was at the suggestion of Pope Damasus that he began his
famous Vulgate translation in Rome in 382, and by 384 had finished his Gospels text. In 392 he finished a
translation of the Psalms based on Origen's Greek text, but by that time he was convinced that the only valid
translation of any Jewish scripture would have to come from Hebrew. See Oxford Dictionary of the Christian
Church 731b-732a, 1451b-1452ab. flh
kenosis Greek: "emptying" in NT studies a reference to Philippians 2:7 where the Christ Hymn says that Christ
"emptied himself" (heauton ekenosen) to take on the form of a slave. Modern theologians sometimes take this to
refer to an "emptying" of Christ's divinity, and so we have the term "Kenotic Christology" to refer to this
interpretation. flh.
Koine Greek: "common." Used mainly in reference to the common Greek that developed throughout the ancient
world following the conquests of Alexander the Great. The "common" Greek language, in contrast to "classical"
Greek, was rich in vocabulary but had lost some of the more difficult grammatical features of the ancient tongue.
Koine Greek, because it was the language of international trade and culture through out the Roman world, was also
the language of the LXX and of the NT as well as of the early Christian movement. The scholar responsible for the
definition of the Koine and for recognition of its importance for biblical studies is Adolf Deissmann. flh
Lectionary A collection of scriptural passages organized for recitation or other use in the liturgy. The term may
indicate an actual book in which the passages are copied out or may indicate the plan of readings. Modern western
Christians have in large measure adopted the Vatican II three-year lectionary which provides scriptural readings for
each Sunday and Holy Day in the Christian calendar. Other lectionaries exist for the recitation of the Daily Office
and for other liturgical acts. In the synagogue the pattern of Torah readings takes an entire year, and the return to the
beginning of the cycle is celebrated in the fall as Simxat Torah. The medieval Christian lectionary books provide
useful evidence for the text of the New Testament. flh
Legend A prose narrative about the actions of a figure or of figures from the past that is unrelated or only partially
related to a known historical sequence. flh
Liturgical adjective. Having to do with liturgy. flh

Liturgy Greek: "public work." In religious studies the word refers to the organization (and, by extension, the
principles of organization) of cultic actions. The usual word in the Bible for liturgy is service and sometimes
worship. flh
Masoretes Agroup of scholar-scribes who added punctuation marks and vowel marks to the text of the Hebrew
Bible. This activity took place from the 7th to the 9th centuries CE. See also Masoretic Text. flh
Masoretic Text (Abbreviation MT) The Hebrew text established in the 7th/9th centuries C. E. by Jewish scholars
(Masoretes) who fixed the exact pronunciation and intonation of the words of the Hebrew Bible through an
ingenious system of markings imposed upon the traditional, consonantal Hebrew text. The oldest complete
Masoretic text is in St. Petersburg, Russia and dates to 1008 CE. See also Masoretes. flh
Miracle Story A story that dwells upon a specific wondrous act performed by a character in the story. As a form the
miracle story is characterized by a history of oral transmission that heightened the difficulty of the wondrous act and
provided names and other minor details to enhance what Rudolf Bultmann calls the "novelistic" aspect of the tale.
Mishnah A collection of the Pharisaic/Rabbinic oral tradition first begun by R. Aqiva before 135 CE, continued by
his student R. Meir, the definitive compilation came by the hands of Rabbi or Rabbi Judah the Prince around the
year 200 CE. It consists of 63 tractates divided unevenly into six sederim ("orders"). The 5 generations of Rabbis
cited in the Mishnah are called the Tanaaim ("reciters"), and their work forms the basis of both the Jerusalem
Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud. flh.
Mysticism As used in biblical studies, however, the term means the representation of the relationship between the
practitioner of a religion and the deity or highest principle of that religion in terms of the practitioner being "in" or
"part of" the divinity and/or the divinity being "in" or "part of" the practitioner. flh
Myth The Greek term mythos refers to a long poetic saga that relates tales of the gods and, often, of the gods'
relationship to human beings. In this restricted sense there are no myths per se in the Christian scriptures. A
secondary meaning of myth is a story about the gods. In this course we shall distinguish between "higher myth,"
stories about the gods alone, and "lower myth," stories about the gods in their dealings with human beings. Virtually
all biblical myth is lower myth. flh
Mythological A composition that has characteristics of higher or lower myth without necessarily being a selfcontained story. flh
Narrative See story.
New Testament Latin: "covenant." Abbreviation: NT. Designation of Christian writings in Greek that Christians
regard as holy. Although the Christian sects vary in the Jewish writings they regard as scripture, there is almost no
variation in the New Testament books they accept. flh
Old Testament Latin: "covenant." Traditional Christian designation for the Jewish scriptures they regard as inspited
(as opposed to the New Testament). Christians who read the Apocrypha as scripture do not usually distinguish the
apocryphal books from those of the Hebrew Bible and refer to them all together as the Old Testament. flh
Palimpsest A parchment document written on reused parchment. The name derives from the two Greek words palin
("again") and psao ("scrape"), referring to the practice of scraping off the ink from a previous document written on a
parchment so as to provide the scribe with a clean page. Often the erased letters are visible to the modern researcher
by means of ultraviolet light. The practice of coating the document with a reagent to bring out the erased text has
been abandoned because of the damage the chemical caused to the parchment. The most famous palimpset text of
the NT is Codex Ephraemi (5th century / 6th century). See Bruce Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, 12. flh

Pentateuch Greek: "five scroll cases." The first five books of the Hebrew Bible. See also Hexateuch. flh
Pericope In Form Criticism, a unit of oral tradition such as a miracle story , an apophthegm or a saying. (In the
study of liturgy, however, "pericope" refers to the biblical text appointed for reading on a particular day. On
occasion this meaning will also appear in the writings of biblical scholars.) flh
pesher Hebrew: "interpretation" The Dead Sea Scrolls use the Hebrew word pesher to refer to an interpretation
of prophetic writings they believed pointed forward to the time of final judgment and redemption heralded in the
Scrolls. Modern scholars use the term broadly as referring to apocalyptic interpretations of ancient scriptures based
on the authority of an ancient teacher or in in the name of a of a sectarian group. flh
Peshitta Means "Vulgate" in Syriac. This is a collection of translations into Syriac of the Jewish Scriptures and a NT
of 22 books that omits 2 Peter, 2-3 John, Jude, and Revelation. Once ascribed to the early 5th century Bishop of
Edessa, Rabulla (411-431), it is now clear that like the LXX it is a collection of translations and paraphrases, some
of which certainly stem from the previous century. See Bruce Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, 69-70 and D.
R. Ap-Thomas, A Primer of Old Testament Text Criticism, 28-29. flh
Point-of-view In narrative the point-of-view is the viewpoint of the implied author, the one telling the tale. The
point-of view may correspond to that of a single character or of each of several characters. It may also be that of an
omniscient narrator, who sees all the action and knows the inner workings of the characters' minds. flh
Prayer Literally, "petition." A request addressed to God or to the gods. Prayer may be either cultic (liturgical) or
non-cultic (non-liturgical), depending upon its setting. In the Bible it is important to distinguish between prayer and
other addresses to the gods such as blessings, praises, and thanksgivings. flh
Priestly Author The latest source in the Pentateuch according to the Documentary Hypothesis, dating to a time
during and perhaps also after the Exile. flh
Q Likely derived from the German word Quelle, "source." A hypothetical collection of the sayings of Jesus and
John the Baptist that, according to the most generally accepted resolution to the Synoptic Problem, served as a
source for the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, but not for Mark. flh
Redaction Criticism Study of the way in which the editor (redactor) of a work has arranged the written and oral
materials at hand to achieve literary and rhetorical goals. mf
Religion A modern term that properly designates both a cultus (see above) and the beliefs about the gods and the
world that may be associated with the practice of that that cultus. No precise equivalent to our English word
"religion" occurs in the Christian scripture. flh
Sacrifice Synonymous with "offering." A sacrifice is something offered to God or to the gods within the course of
some cultic (liturgical) action. Most, but not all sacrifices involve the ritual slaughter of a living being. In the Bible,
worship or service always involves some kind of sacrifice. flh
Sacred Scripture The idea of a writing or piece of literature having come from a divine source. Many religious
systems have sacred scriptures, often mediated by semi-divine figures or particularly holy individuals. See also
Scripture. kh
Satan In Job, Satan is a member of the divine council who accuses Job before Yahweh. In later mythology Satan is
one designation for the angels or gods who undertake a revolt against God and are punished by being confined to the
underworld. In the NT, "Satan" is the ordinary term to designate the chief of the underworld deities. Most of the
Hebrew Bible has no notion of Satan or any other god who is powerful enough to oppose Yahweh even
unsuccessfully. flh

Saying In biblical studies this term normally refers to a short, pithy aphorism such as those found in Proverbs 10-31.
It is also used to refer to the typical discourse of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels as opposed to the long discourses of
the Fourth Gospel. flh
Scripture "Written" (Latin: scriptus) documents. In common usage, the word refers to written documents that play
an authoritative role in cultic practice. In Jewish and Christian practice the scriptures are distinguished from other
authoritative writings (such as the Prayer Book or the Talmud) on the basis of being Mark Without Q." mf
Syriac was the literary language from the region of Edessa in northern Syria that became the main means of written
expression for the Christians of northern Syria and Mesopotamia. Along with the Aramaic of the Babylonian
Talmud and Mandaic, it forms the eastern Aramaic branch of the Semitic languages. After the Council of Chalcedon
in 451, the Syrian churches broke into followers of Nestorius in the east and the monophysite Jacobites of the west.
This ecclesiastical division came to define two distinct dialects of Syriac. See Carl Brockelmann, Syrische
Grammatik, 3-4. flh
Tanach Acronym for the Hebrew Bible made from the Hebrew words Torah ("law"), Neviim ("prophets"), Ketuvim
("writings"). flh
Textual Criticism The study of differing readings of the biblical text in ancient manuscripts. Not only do text critics
study manuscripts of the texts in their original languages but study manuscripts of the ancient versions as well. The
goal of textual criticism is the establishment of the "best text" of a passage, not the "original text," which is likely
unattainable. flh
Unclean Opposite: clean. Something that is unclean belongs to a prohibited class of objects or people. This
prohibition may be absolute, as in the case of pork or relative as in the case of sexual relations. A relative
uncleanness involves ordinary activities that temporarily prohibit one from certain activities or places whereas an
absolute uncleanness is always prohibited. Note that the scriptures often put time limits on the uncleanness (always
relative in nature) that a person would likely contract in normal life. flh
Underworld The regions under the earth where, in most Near Eastern mythology, the gods of the dead reside. In the
Bible, as in other mythologies, human souls descend to the underworld upon death; but in the Bible there are no
gods there to give those souls conscious existence, so that in the Hebrew Bible there is no belief in a conscious life
after death. The usual term for the underworld is Sheol, and its lowest portion is called Abaddon or "the Pit." There
is no hell, in the usual Christian sense, in either of the testaments of the Christian Bible. flh
Version Translation of a text into another language. The Septuagint, for instance, is a version of the Hebrew Bible.
The Old Latin translation of John is a version of John. flh
Vulgate Latin: "common" St. Jerome's 4th-5th century C. E. translation of the Bible into Latin. Made by a monk of
Bethlehem named Jerome, the Vulgate's Old Testament was translated from both Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. In
the process of translating, Jerome recognized that the Greek Septuagint had extra books not contained in the
Hebrew Bible, and questioned their status as scripture and labeled them with the word "Apocrypha." It was, in part,
his recognition of the different canons of the Old Testament that led to the rejection during the Protestant
Reformation of the canonicity of these "extra" books of the LXX. flh
vaticinium ex eventu (prophecy out of the event) A prediction after the fact, i. e. a prediction seemingly made about
an event in the future that is, in fact, composed only after the event has happened.
World As a technical term in this course, "world" refers to an order of reality. The "world of the gods" refers to the
divine realm (often heaven) populated by the gods. The term never has the modern sense of "planet." In liturgical
language and in older English translations of the Bible "world" can mean "world age," in which case it refers to a
block of time. flh

Worship In a religious sense worship in the Bible is ordinarily the equivalent of service. In social settings the word
refers to an act of reverence from an inferior to a superior. On occasion, however, the social meaning slips over into
the cultic sphere. flh
Yahweh Hebrew proper name for the God of Israel. Alone, the English text translates it as LORD (all caps). The
dual expression Yahweh 'elohim is rendered "Lord GOD." The meaning of the name has been debated, but it seems
to be the causative form of the verb "to be" and appears to mean something like "he creates." The name can also be
seen in the -iah suffixes on Hebrew proper nouns like Jos-iah and Nehem-iah and as the yi-/yo- prefix as in Yonadab
or the yeh- prefix in names like Yeho-shua (Joshua, Greek: Jesus). flh
Yahwist (J) Accourding to the Documentary Hypothesis, this southern (Judean) source is the oldest in the
Pentateuch and provides the groundwork for the narrative of the Pentateuch. flh

Selected Biblical Scholars

Kmmel, Werner Georg. The New Testament: The History of the Investigation of its Problems. Translated out of the
original German by S. MacLean Gilmour and Howard Clark Kee. Nashville and New York: Abingdon Press, 1972.
Cited as TNT in this work.
McKim, Donald K., ed. Historical Handbook of Major Biblical Interpreters. Downers Grove, Illinois and Leicester,
England: InterVarsity Press, 1998). Cited as HH in this work.

Web Sites
Archiv "Religionsgeschichtliche Schule." Access: June 6,
2003. Prof. Dr. Gerd Ldemann, Archivleiter, has kindly granted us permission to reproduce the photographs on
the Religionsgeschichtliche Schule site in this vocabulary. In addition to other literature cited in the following
thumbnail sketches of scholars, the reader should refer to the Archiv for helpful additional information.

Ferdinand Christian Baur (1792-1860). The founder of the so-called

professor at that university from 1826 until his death and came to that
pastor, a teacher of classics and ancient history at various theological p
tutor in the Tbingen seminary. His paper on the "Christ party" in the
which he argued that the rift in the Corinthian church was between a p
Peter. Throughout his work, Bauer insisted that the opposition betwee
party (Peter) and the Gentile party (Paul) was the formative opposition
Under the influence of the philosopher Hegel, Baur came to regard thi
Hegel's idea of historical thesis and antithesis, claiming that Catholic C
century was the synthesis of the two under historical pressure from Gn
rationalist in many ways, Baur nevertheless posited his view of early C
Schleiermacher's idea that religion is the feeling of absolute dependen

Wilhelm Bousset (1865-1920). A principal advocate of the "history of

(religionsgeschichtlich) method, Bousset is perhaps most famous for h
Geschichte des Christusglaubens von den Anfngen des Christentums
21;1913), a study of belief in Christ from earliest Christianity until Ira
Roman-Hellenistic religion. His works Jesu Predigt in ihrem Gegensa
religionsgeschichtlicher Vergleich (1893); and Die Religion des Juden
neutestamentlichen Zeitalter (1903) created the idea of "late Judaism"
complex of religious traditions out of which Jesus and the Jesus move
253, 468) flh

Photo courtesy of Archiv "Religionsgeschichtliche Schule", Prof. Dr. Gerd

Ldemann, Archivleiter.

Charles Augustus Briggs (1841-1913). A vetran of the Civil War, C.

military service with studies at Union Theological Seminary in New Y
Robinson and in Germany under the famous Hebrew philologist Wilhe
notable German scholars. When he returned to the United States in 18
Presbyterian minister and then became professor of Hebrew and cogna
1880 Briggs and A. A. Hodge of Princeton found the Presbyterian Re
addressing issues dividing the Presbyterian church at the time. Ultima
views and the reaction of Presbyterian fundamentalists led to the demi
Seminary appointed Briggs to the Edward Robinson Chair of Biblical
Briggs' inaugural address was so controversial that it led, ultimately, to
Presbyterian ministry in 1892. This event led, in turn, to the withdraw
Presbyterian Church and Briggs' ordination into the priesthood of the E
two most famous works are the two-volume commentary he complete
Grayce Briggs, during the years 1906-1907. He also collaborated with
Driver in an English translation and thorough revision of Gesenius' lex
Briggs was a founder of the Society of Biblical Literature (1880) and w
(1890-1891). (HH 294-302) flh

Photo courtesy of Burke Library Archives at Union Theological Seminary

in New York City

Emilie Grace Briggs (1867-1944).In 1897 Emilie Grace Briggs becam

from Union Theological Seminary in New York City and the first pers
of Divinity degree from the seminary. Following her graduation she co
studies but did not receive the degree because she could not find a pub
(a special requirement laid upon her by the Union faculty). Briggs con
and was co-author with her father, Charles Augustus Briggs, of an imp
Psalm, published 1906-1907. Briggs continued her biblical scholarship
was the first woman to belong to the Society of Biblical Literature. Af
1913, Briggs took charge of his literary estate, editing and reissuing m
also devoted herself to the advocacy of women as deacons in the Episc

Union Theological Seminary's Archives of Women in Theological Studies

Flavius Josephus (c.37 - c.100 CE). Jewish historian from the Galilee
general in the First Jewish Rebellion (68-72 CE) wrote a seven-volum
prehistory. In his introduction to the War of the Jews (1.1.1), Josephus
his seven volumes into Greek from "the language of our own country"
falsehoods about the war designed to favor either the Romans or the Je
migrated to Rome where he completed his massive, 20-volume work A
brief account of his own biography (Life), and a short defense of the Je
slanders of the Hellenistic age (Against Apion). In his accounts of even
Hellenistic and early Roman times, he is often the only source of infor
reference to Jesus in Antiquities 18.3.3 is a Christian insertion is still u

Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976). Professor of New Testament at Marbu

retirement in 1951, Bultmann became a larger-than-life figure not only
Testament but also within the world of Protestant theology. An early p
(Formgeschichte), his masterful History of the Synoptic Tradition (Ge
provided a comprehensive study of the traditional oral forms of the Sy
argued for a Sitz im Leben (setting in life) of each form in the life and
Church. In 1926 he dealt with the problem of the life of Jesus in his Je
and the Word). Although Bultmann, rather unfairly, is remembered as
Jesus, this work made it clear that Bultmann believed that the tradition
picture of Jesus as an eschatological prophet. Bultmann's commentary
the Gospel as highly influenced by dualistic, gnostic concepts. Nevert
earliest of the Gospels. His Theology of the New Testament (German,
reconstruct the theology of the earlest Christian communities and then
of the New Testament authors to it. (HH 449-456) flh

Photo courtesy of Archiv "Religionsgeschichtliche Schule", Prof. Dr. Gerd

Ldemann, Archivleiter.

W. D. Davies (1911-2001) Student of C. H. Dodd at Cambridge Unive

minister. W. D. Davies distinguished himself in the area of the Jewish
Christianity. Within Judaism he was most concerned with the rabbinic
Duke University, Princeton University, Union Theological Seminary i
returned to complete his career at Duke. Among his many important w
Rabbinic Judaism (1948, rev. 1955), The Setting of the Sermon on the
and the Land (1982), and his monumental three-volume commentary T
Saint Matthew (1988, 1991, 1997). (HH 471-475) flh

Photo courtesy of Duke University Photography

Adolf Deissmann (1866-1937) Taught at Marburg, Heidelberg, and af

hisBibelstudien (1895, ET: Bible Studies, 1901) and Licht vom Osten (
East, 1910), Deissmann demonstrated the importance of a vast body o
scholars had previously almost completely ignored. These were the co
magical papyri, and legal documents of the Greco-Roman world. Deis
texts shared a common Greek dialect, a dialect, indeed, that was consi
speaking world, the "common" or Koine Greek. He was able to show
was much more robust in vocabulary and grammar than classical Gree
contended, were in this dialect. They were neither bad Greek for their
Greek nor holy Greek. Instead, the Greek Bible was composed in the G
(TNT 437n287, 471) flh

C. H. Dodd (1884-1973) Student of Alexander Souter at Oxford Univ

minister. C. H. Dodd made major contributions to our understanding o
within its historical context. Famous for his articulation of the eschato
as "realized eschatology," i. e. as a present reality in the person of Jesu
should be mentioned Historical Tradition in the Fourth Gospel (1963)
Fourth Gospel (1953), The Epistle to the Romans (1959), and The Par
(1935, rev.1961). His introduction t the New English Bible: New Test
important. (TNT 472-473; HH 476-481) flh

Courtesy of the A. N. Palmer Centre for Local Studies and Archives, Wrexham
County Borough Museum

Hermann Gunkel (1862-1932) A member of the "history of religion"

religionsgeschichtliche Schule), he is the founder of form criticism for
(among others) his Genesis (1901), Ausgewhlte Psalmen ("Selected P
Einleitung in die Psalmen ("Introduction to the Psalms," completed by
Gunkel was also a qualified New Testament scholar and his Schpfun
Endzeit ("Creation and Chaos in the Beginning and at the End of Time
mastery of both fields.(HH 487-491; TNT 476) flh

Photo courtesy of Archiv "Religionsgeschichtliche Schule", Prof. Dr. Gerd

Ldemann, Archivleiter.

Matthew Hampton Halley (1874-1965). Ordained to the ministry of th

1898, Matthew Halley authored Halley's Bible Handbook, a massive h
that grew out of a 16-page pamphlet. First published in 1924, the Hand
many editions and is still being published by Zondervan Press. Despite
biblical scholarship, Halley produced a book that many fundamentalis
found useful in their reading with the Bible. For additional information


Matthew Henry (1662 -1714) Non-conformist (Presbyterian) English

His massive treatise entitled The Exposition of the Old and New Testa
that still finds a wide readership, especially in Calvinist circles. For ad
Henry, see


Joseph Barber Lightfoot (1828-89) Born in Liverpool, Lightfoot and

Birmingham after his father's death in 1843. Lightfoot studied at Camb
fellow (1852). Hulsean Professor of Divinity (1861), and Lady Marga
1879 he accepted election as Bishop of Durham and remained in that p
a Bishop, he was supportive of lay ministry and, a century before its ti
women to the deaconate and priesthood. His texts of the Apostolic Fat
academic standard well into the 20th century and are still valuable tod
Galatians (1865), Philippians (1868), and Colossians (1875) are studie
study based on the emerging historical criticism of his time. Lightfoot
German scholarship led him to a productive debate with F. C. Baur on
Christianity with Lightfoot insisting on historical verification above th
of that evolution. (HH 336-340) flh

Robert Lowth (1710-1787). Bishop of London from 1777 until 1783,

of Canterbury but declined owing to poor health. In biblical scholarsh
contribution was through his studies of Hebrew poetry, both Praelecti
Poesi Hebraeorum (Lectures on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews, 17
Isaiah: A New Translation With a Preliminary Dissertation and Notes
gave the study of Hebrew poetry the basic terminology that is still in w
Although Lowth was an important cleric and biblical scholar, he was a
Oxford 1741-1752. In the realm of English grammar he is known for h
Short Introduction to English Grammar in which he insisted that the r
be "forced" into the rules of foreign languages. flh

George Mendenhall (1916- ). Student of W. F. Albright. Most famous

and Hittite covenants and on the political structures of tribal alliances.

Sigmund Mowinckel (1884-1965). Born in Kjerringy, Mowinckel st

ministry at the University of Kristiania (Oslo) but did not enter that pr
leaving Norway to study in Denmark and Germany. He returned to tea
elected professor at the university in 1922 where he continued to work
Mowinckel's studies with Hermann Gunkel were especially important
formulate his views on the Psalter. Following Gunkel, he took the Psa
enactment or drama of Israel's religious life. In particular, he expanded
enthronement psalm to argue for a yearly enthronement festival in wh
took upon himself the failures of the nation for the year in ritual humil
with Jensen on Assyriology gave him a unique insight into this fruitfu
practice. (HH 505-510) flh

Martin Noth (1902-1968) Student of Albrecht Alt, Noth continued Al

monarchial Israel by his important study Das System der zwlf Stmm
farr beyond his teacher into Pentateuchal theory Uberlieferungsgeschi
ed. 1966) and his groundbreaking Geschichte Israels (1950). Noth intr
corpus Deuteronomy-2 Kings was the work of a Deuteronomistic Scho
Deuteronomistic Historian (Dtr) wrote Joshua-2 Kings on the basis of
theory found in Deuteronomy.

Rudolf Otto (1869-1937) Otto was not a biblical scholar but a theolog
study Das Heilige (9th ed., 1922; ET: The Idea of the Holy, 1923) is h
influential work; but in New Testament studies his Reich Gottes und M
The kingdom of God and the Son of Man: A Study in the History of Re
Rudolf Bultmann's views about the historicity of the Jesus tradition. In
Jesus taught a temporal end to this world order and that he understood
Suffering Servant of Second Isaiah. Otto taught at Jena (1870), Gttin
and Marburg (1917) where he ended his career. (TNT 386-389, 486) f

Photo courtesy of Archiv "Religionsgeschichtliche Schule", Prof. Dr. Gerd

Ldemann, Archivleiter.

Cyrus Ingerson Scofield (1843-1921) Author of the dispensationalist

C. I. Scofield left a political career in Kansas to become a Congregatio
theology or biblical studies, his work is an attempt to reconcile the Bib
pre-millenialist dispensationalism. To this same end he also wrote Rig
Truth and New Life in Christ Jesus.


Phyllis Trible (1932-). A graduate of Meredith College and the Union

Columbia University joint PhD program, Phyllis Trible has applied th
dissertation supervisor, James Muilenburg, to the Hebrew Bible, often
an interest in the Bible's rhetoric about sexuality. She is best known fo
the Rhetoric of Sexuality (1978) and Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminis
Narratives (1984). She has taught at Wake Forest University (1963-19
Theological Seminary (1971-1978). She retired as Baldwin Professor
Seminary in New York City (1979-1999) in 1999 to accept a position
Wake Forest University Divinity School where she is still professor of
618) flh

Merrill F. Unger (died 1981) was professor of Old Testament Studies

Seminary from 1948-1967. Trained at Johns Hopkins University and D
Seminary, Dr. Unger was a copious author, most famous, perhaps, for
Dictionary and Unger's Commentary on the Old Testament (2 vols). M
considerable academic credentials to a fundamentalist interpretation o
modern linguistics and archaeology. flh

Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918) Studied at Gttingen and in 1870 bec

before moving to Greifswald. During his early years of scholarship, W
Israel's history appeared in articles that formed the basis of his 1878 p
des Hexateuchs und der historischen Bcher des Alten Testaments ("T
Hexateuch and the Historical Books of the Old Testament" ), and he c
full history of Israel, publishing Geschichte Israels I in 1878 with une
results. Indeed, his career at Greifswald (1872-1882) ended with his re
from those who disagreed with his critical views of Israel's origins and
Wellhausen reissued the volume as Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israe
Prolegomena to the History of Israel, 1885). In 1885 he became Profe
1892 moved to Gttingen where he remained until his death. Although
Bible had already identified four different sources for the Hexateuch,
the source that contained the great majority of laws and legal commen
(for Latin quattuor, now called P for "priestly code"), was the latest of
exilic. From Wellhausen on, the historical order of the sources was ac
researchers as JEDP. The surprising contention that the legal materials
materials reoriented the study of Israel's political and religious institut
develop towards a legal piety. Wellhausen was also the author of man
Testament and on Arabic history. (HH 380-385; TNT 495) flh

Photo courtesy of Archiv "Religionsgeschichtliche Schule", Prof. Dr. Gerd

Ldemann, Archivleiter.

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