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January 2012
Sunday, 08 January 2012 00:00


In our first article, continuing our ongoing series updating our readers on recent developments in biblical studies, Jennifer Dines considers the Book of the Twelve (often better-known by Augustine’s title of ‘the Minor Prophets’). She offers a fascinating and wide-ranging critical survey of different recent attempts to explain the existence of this collection and how it should be read, both diachronic (with their attempt to reconstruct the stages of its historical development) and synchronic (including canonical readings and reader-response approaches).

Sean Ryan’s article is an intriguing exploration of continuities between the angelic liturgy as described in the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice (found at both Qumran and Masada) and the scenes of heavenly worship found in the Apocalypse. For all their differences, Ryan has detected some striking similarities: not least, their shared visualisation of the heavenly realm as the interior of a celestial temple re-imagined as a living, animate structure of praise, and the prominence of the number seven as an organising principle. This suggestive article points the way to further research into the liturgical background and reception of the Book of Revelation.

In our final article, Matthew van Duyvenbode offers further reflections on Pope Benedict’s Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, produced following the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God. Building on his work with Bible Society and his extensive knowledge of projects aimed at bridging the gap between scriptural engagement and contemporary culture, his particular focus is on the final section of the document: ‘the Word for the World’ (Verbum Mundo). He sets out four qualities or ‘hallmarks’ which should characterise a faithful sharing of the word of scripture in a missional context.

Ian Boxall


Sunday, 08 January 2012 09:46

Jennifer Dines CSA taught Biblical Studies at Heythrop College, University of London, from 1979 to 2001. She now lives in Cambridge and does research mainly on the Septuagint. She is a Trustee of the Catholic Biblical Association. 

When Augustine coined the term ‘Minor Prophets’ for the twelve books from Hosea to Malachi,  it was not a slur on their status but a comment on their brevity by comparison with the ‘Major’ (i.e. longer) prophetic books. Many scholars now prefer what is in fact older terminology: ‘the Book of the Twelve’, often abbreviated to ‘the Twelve’ which is what, for convenience, I shall use here. Each of the Twelve has its own introduction (Hos. 1:1; Amos 1:1; Jon. 1:1; Hab. 1:1 and so on) and, until recently, has mostly been studied as a self-contained text. Yet these twelve books always form a distinct group in biblical manuscripts, whether Jewish or Christian.

Sunday, 08 January 2012 09:36

Sean Ryan is a Lecturer in Biblical Studies at Heythrop College, University of London, with a particular interest in apocalyptic/heavenly-ascent literature. A revised version of his PhD, focused on the cosmology of Rev. 9, will be published in Spring 2012.

Central to the Apocalypse’s visionary logic is its visualisation of the heavenly realm as a celestial temple.  Scenes of worship in the heavenly sanctuary can be traced, like a golden-thread, through this visionary narrative (Rev. 4–5, 8:1-6, 11:15-19, 14:2-5, 15:2–16:1, 16:17-21, 19:1-8), revealing the Deity's consummate control over the created cosmos, enthroned in the heavenly Holy of Holies, prior to the cessation of such cultic boundaries in the new Jerusalem (Rev. 21–22).

Sunday, 08 January 2012 09:31

Matthew van Duyvenbode works as part of the Bible and Culture team at Bible Society (www.biblesociety.org.uk/culture). He is a trustee of the Catholic Bible School, and is secretary to the Scripture working group under the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis at the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

As we approach the 50th anniversary of Dei Verbum in 2015, we are presented with a valuable opportunity to reflect on our response to the scriptural renewal it both noted and encouraged within the life and mission of the Church. The impact of increased scriptural engagement in the life of the faithful over the intervening years has widely been caricatured as a swing to liturgical liberality, followed by a traditionalist reaction. Whist the analysis is somewhat crude and misleading, it is interesting to note that popular comment has primarily concerned itself with assessing the use and interpretation of the Bible ad intra.

Reviews & Notices
Sunday, 08 January 2012 09:27

Books reviewed:

R.S. Surgirtharajah, Exploring Postcolonial Biblical Criticism (reviewed by Mary E. Mills)

Daniel Harrington SJ, The Synoptic Gospels Set Free (reviewed by Nicholas King SJ)

Richard L. Longenecker, Introducing Romans (reviewed by Patricia McDonald SHCJ)

Stratford Caldecott, All Things Made New (reviewed by Ian Boxall)