This issue of Studies in the Bible and Antiquity marks five years of publication, which we at the Maxwell Institute are celebrating as a modest milepost of success. This success belongs foremost to our authors. It took us three years to assemble our first issue (2009), and we recognize the faith those first authors showed in entrusting a new publication with their research. But in committing thereafter to an annual publication, we wondered if we could maintain on a yearly basis the high standard set by that first issue. We believe that we have, for which we again thank our talented and willing contributors.
But many others have generously labored on behalf of Studies. We thank especially our advisory board members, who have contributed articles, advice, and peer review. Securing quality peer review is a major challenge for every academic journal, so we thank too the many additional peer reviewers who have assisted our authors and improved our journal. And giving due credit to our own, we thank all the editors, interns, and other academic and administrative staff at the Maxwell Institute who assist in producing and distributing Studies. Their collegiality has proven inexhaustible and their professionalism is exemplary.
This fifth issue of Studies is a milepost, but also a turning point, since it will be the last under the editorship of its founder, Professor Brian Hauglid. It exists because of his initiative and has flourished under his leadership. His service to the Maxwell Institute will continue in his new appointment as director of the Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies. With that Brian will also assume (in 2014) the editorship of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, which assignment will not permit his continued editorship of Studies. We invite you to check our website or follow us on Facebook and Twitter for further announcements on the editorships of both these publications.
Since this issue is both a milepost and a turning point, that may permit us a little retrospection. So this is how Studies started: On the initiative of Brian Hauglid, discussions began in May 2004 concerning the future of the FARMS Occasional Papers series. He regarded this series as very important among institute publications because of both its flexible topicality and uncompromising academic orientation. Admittedly, this orientation might mean that few but scholars read it. But this commitment to “scholars writing for scholars” permitted Occasional Papers to publish a wide-ranging selection of specialized work on religion in antiquity. Between 2000 and 2007 it published three monographs and two collections of studies on diverse subjects.
In October 2006, as the latest volume of Occasional Papers was readied for press, Brian Hauglid, Larry Morris, and Carl Griffin proposed that Studies in the Bible and Antiquity: A Maxwell Institute Occasional Publication should be its next iteration. As the title indicated, its focus was to become, first of all, the study of the Bible—the first institute series with such a focus—though without unduly restricting Occasional Papers‘ broader interest in religious antiquity. This proposal was accepted by the institute’s executive director, Professor Andrew Skinner. Brian Hauglid was appointed editor and Larry Morris associate editor (replaced by Carl Griffin in 2008). In the three years intervening between proposal and publication, the institute made one significant change to the original prospectus. Studies would become a third institute journal and be published to the same readership as its sibling periodicals—in other words, to both specialist and nonspecialist readers.
Publishing a journal that serves both of these readerships equally well is perhaps not possible, but we have more than 30 years of institutional experience in navigating the challenges that a diverse readership presents. And we would not have it any other way. The Maxwell Institute regards it as part of its mission, as a BYU research unit, to publish religious scholarship for the broader university community, both students and faculty. The core readership of Studies is therefore comprised of interested and motivated nonspecialists, or what Jane Heath has called “the scholarly public.” In our case, we would say particularly the scholarly Mormon public.
But while Studies is not strictly a disciplinary journal, its articles will continue to meet the high standards of the various academic disciplines they represent. Most will continue to be quite technical in character. It is inevitable, then, that not all articles will be equally suited to all readers.
Yet as we discuss how best to evolve, we are considering every possible way by which we can better reach and serve all readers, on BYU’s campus and beyond. As we look to the future, our foremost goal is to maintain the quality of our scholarship while increasing the journal’s accessibility, utility, and appeal to the scholarly public. Our efforts in these latter respects will be seen next year in both a print redesign and improved digital distribution. This issue is led by a report on the excavation of the village of Huqoq in eastern Lower Galilee. Author Matthew Grey (with project supervisor Jodi Magness) explains the significance of the Huqoq Excavation Project and discusses in particular the excavation of the synagogue and the discovery of its striking floor mosaics. One mosaic fragment depicts the Israelite hero Samson setting fire to Philistine fields by means of torches tied to the tails of panicked foxes (see Judges 15:1–5). Grey then explores the apparent role that Samson assumed in this region as a messianic figure.
Many readers will know that the titles Christ and Messiah are English forms of the Greek and Hebrew words meaning “anointed.” But as titles for Jesus these words point to worlds of meaning beyond the act of physical anointing. Author Julie Smith examines the symbolism of anointing in antiquity and both the immediate and broader contexts of Jesus’s anointing in the Gospels. Smith’s particular focus is the account given in Mark of his anointing at Bethany by a woman who is not named, but whose act Jesus declared would “be spoken of for a memorial of her” “wherever this gospel shall be preached” (Mark 14:9). As Smith suggests, “Her anonymity may be a necessary counterpart to her high praise,” allowing her to become “paradigmatic of a woman completely devoted to Christ and exercising the gift of understanding.” Deeper examination of this account and its context “will also permit us to see how this story explains what it means to be the Anointed One.”
The New Testament is suffused with citations and allusions drawn from the Hebrew Bible. This phenomenon of “scripture citing scripture” has been much studied, but author Kimberly Berkey contributes fresh insight into the Lucan use of Isaiah in her examination of a literary allusion to Isaiah 6:1–8 in Luke 1:5–25. By its nature, literary allusion can be difficult to establish. But Berkey makes a compelling case here through a careful examination and rhetorical analysis of correspondences between these two biblical texts, especially relating to “their temple setting, dynamic interaction with the altar, and theme of silence.”
We are pleased to see Matthew Bowen continue his important work on proskynesis (religious prostration or worship) in antiquity, which he began in a study on proskynesis in the Book of Mormon. Now he focuses his attention on its broader ancient Near Eastern and biblical contexts, which he then employs in a careful examination of rhetorical and literal proskynesis before Jesus in the New Testament. The extensive use, says Bowen, of both the language and imagery of proskynesis—particularly in Matthew, Luke, and John the Revelator—is a witness of how “a few special disciples, with great faith and insight, recognized divinity in the ‘man of sorrows’ (Isaiah 53:3) during his earthly ministry.”
Our issue concludes with a study by David Larsen of evidence found in the Dead Sea Scrolls for “a belief in liturgical communion with angelic beings and human access to the divine council in the celestial temple of God.” While these temple themes have been generally recognized by previous scholars, Larsen’s research explores the specific patterns of ascent, instruction, and commission of which these texts speak, their potential relationship to Qumran ritual, and the deeper roots of these themes in the Hebrew Bible.
We are as proud of this fifth issue as we were of the first. We encourage you to share it with other readers like yourself. All issues are available in digital format (free of charge) at http://mi.byu.edu. We also invite you to send reader comments and author submissions to email@example.com.
Carl Griffin, PhD