Thursday, April 20, 2006

Van Seters, The Edited Bible

John Van Seters, The Edited Bible: The Curious History of the 'Editor' in Biblical Criticism (Eisenbrauns, May 2006). $39.50 / 428 pp.

Eisenbrauns blurb:
"There is a generally accepted notion in biblical scholarship that the Bible as we know it today is the product of editing from its earliest stages of composition through to its final, definitive and 'canonical' textual form. So persistent has been this idea since the rise of critical study in the seventeenth century and so pervasive has it become in all aspects of biblical study that there is virtually no reflection on the validity of this idea" (from the Introduction). Van Seters proceeds to survey the history of the idea of editing, from its origins in the pre-Hellenistic Greek world, through Classical and Medieval times, into the modern era. He discusses and evaluates the implications of the common acceptance of "editing" and "editors/redactors", and concludes that this strand of scholarship has led to serious misdirection of research in modern times.

For further details check the Eisenbrauns website.


  1. So where does he want to go with it? (The link won't work. I'll have a look for the book at Tyndale next week.) Is this more of the 'it was all written in the Persian/Greek period' agenda?

  2. This is the second link I've made, but it seems that Eisenbrauns is not allowing permanent links. I've therefore replaced the link with a general one to Eisenbrauns.

    Not sure what the book will do, but I doubt that Van Seters will have had a change of heart to date everything early. However, textual arguments against the presence of editorial seams can sometimes function well independently of any dating schemes. I'm sure readers would be grateful for a summary when you clap eyes on the work!

  3. Yes, I was thinking the same thing and it might still be interesting even with the late date stuff. There are editors and editors after all; I think we need to insist on some form of 'editing' or rewriting of the OT text, but not in the way conceived by the secular framework.

    I'll see if I can have a look, but am about to start on a very busy 6 weeks of travelling so if it doesn't happen next week it won't be until mid June... LXX-Zech is also meant to be going to the editor next week.


  4. One of the topics that has a great deal of importance for recent questions on this blog regarding the definitions of "autograph" and "canonical form" is the matter of ancient book making and publishing. Any book that improves our knowledge of these aspects of the cultures in which our Bible was formed is welcome!