The English translation of David Flusser’s two volume collection of essays, entitled Judaism of the Second Temple Period, and jointly published by Magnes, Eerdmans, and Jerusalem Perspective, presents to the English-speaking world important essays that had formerly been accessible only to speakers of Modern Hebrew.
As with any major undertaking of this kind, a few errors were not detected by the editors and proof readers before the final publication. In this blog we have collected the mistakes we have noticed, and we welcome readers to add any further corrections they may have noticed by submitting a comment below.
- “Foreword” (1:vii). A typographical error should be corrected as follows (correction marked in bold):
Flusser’s contributions to Dead Sea Scrolls research, Apocalypticism, and Apocalyptic Literature is inestimable.
- “The Apocryphal Psalms of David” (1:258-282). It is unfortunate that the English title refers to “Psalms” of David, since the Hebrew title of the essay, שירי דוד החיצונים (“The Apocryphal Songs of David”), refers to a work designated as the “Songs of David” by G. W. Lorien and E. van Staalduine-Sulman, “A Song of David for Each Day: The Provenance of the Songs of David” Revue de Qumran 22 (2005): 33-59. Moreover, in this article Lorien and van Staalduine-Sulman refer to Flusser and Safrai’s article by the title “Songs of David.” Confusion could have been avoided had the title of the essay been translated as “The Apocryphal Songs of David.”
- “The Apocryphal Psalms of David” (1:280). Two mistaken omissions, one of a key word, the other of a few sentences, seriously affect the meaning of the paragraph which reads (omissions supplied in bold):
The early Christians opposed this view, arguing that Psalm 16 could not be referring to David since he had died and remained in his grave to this very day. David, moreover, was a prophet and thus it was the resurrection of Jesus that he foretold, as Jesus had not been given up to Sheol, nor his flesh allowed to decompose for he ascended to heaven. David could not have prophesied about himself, for of course David did not ascend to heaven, and yet David said, “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet,’” (Ps. 110:1). This verse is related to Ps. 16:8 which says, “from my right hand I will not be shaken.” The LXX translates this as, “because he is at my right hand,” but of course there is no difference for our interpretation whether the LORD is at his right hand or whether it says, “Sit at my right hand.” Clearly then the words of Psalm 16 were applied to both Jesus and David. We may suppose the same is true for Psalm 110. Similarly we find that Acts (13:33-35) applies Psalm 2:7—“You are my son; today I have begotten you”—to the risen Christ. These same words are used by the sages to refer to the Jewish messiah, and the psalm could quite naturally be interpreted as referring to David, since he was viewed as the author of Psalms and, at least in some circles, as the messiah himself.
- “The ‘Flesh-Spirit’ Dualism in the Qumran Scrolls and the New Testament” (1:285). A typographical error in the second line results in the phrase “relatively light.” The correct reading is “relatively late.”
- “The ‘Flesh-Spirit’ Dualism in the Qumran Scrolls and the New Testament” (1:292). A typographical error in the first line should be corrected to “Satan claims ownership on the grounds that he is the ruler of the material world….”
- “The Image of the Masada Martyrs in Their Own Eyes and in the Eyes of Their Contemporaries” (2:80). In the top paragraph just prior to footnote 17, the sentence ought to be emended as follows:
Hillel and Shammai convinced the people to accept Herod as
legitimateking, butsince on account of their sins they could not be saved from him.
This change is necessary because on the same page Flusser remarks:
It appears that the refusal of the Houses of Hillel and Shammai was rooted in the conviction that his [i.e., Herod’s] reign was illegitimate.
- “The Image of the Masada Martyrs” (2:82). The sentence after footnote 26 ought to read:
Second, it appears that both the sages and the zealots linked the concept of liberty with “the kingdom of heaven,” and this phrase likely played an important role in the zealot ideology.
- “The Image of the Masada Martyrs” (2:94). The sentence following footnote 72 should be corrected as follows:
Up to that point, the Jews both within Israel and without were subjugated by foreign nations, the land was oppressed by the
RomansGreeks, the priesthood was illegitimate, and the temple was desecrated.
The cause of this mistake is that in the Hebrew version of the essay Flusser wrote “the wicked kingdom,” which in Rabbinic literature usually refers to the Roman empire, but “the wicked kingdom” was also used to describe the Hellenistic kingdoms that ruled Israel after the conquest of Alexander the Great.
- “‘What Is Hanukkah?’: The Historical Setting of the Hasmonean Temple Dedication” (2:131). We find the same mistake caused by misunderstanding “the wicked kingdom,” in the sentence that should read:
Up to that time, the Jewish People in Israel and abroad were under foreign rule, and the land of Israel part of the wicked
- “‘But Who Can Detect Their Errors?’ (Ps 19:13): On Some Biblical Readings in the Second Temple Period” (2:167). A typographical error between footnotes 17 and 18 should be corrected as follows (correction marked in bold):
It is unlikely that the word was due to the influence of the Gospel version,17 since the rest of the verse shows no
- “‘Which is the Straight Way That a Man Should Choose for Himself?’ (m. Avot 2.1)” (2:232). A footnote ought to be added to the first sentence clarifying that the article by Shmuel Safrai that Flusser refers to was entitled מובנו של המונח דרך ארץ (“The Meaning of the Expression “Derech Eretz”), which appeared in the journal Tarbiz 60.2 (1991): 147-162. Flusser’s essay originally appeared in the same journal immediately following Safrai’s article.
- “‘Which is the Straight Way That a Man Should Choose?’” (2:245). Following footnote 48 there is a sentence that reads:
Reflect before the word issues from your mouth. Consider your actions in accordance with good manners (derekh ’eretz). Set a reward for every step you take. Submit to divine judgment and refrain from grumbling.
“Good manners” is problematic here because it is precisely this narrow definition of derekh eretz which Flusser claims does not fit in the passage. A better strategy would have been to have simply left derekh eretz untranslated.
- “Martyrology in the Second Temple Period and Early Christianity” (2:252). The omission of an entire sentence renders Flusser’s argument nonsensical. The translation should read (with omitted sentence in bold):
The idea of purification through suffering also appears in the New Testament, e.g., in 1 Peter: “In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold, that though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor” (1:6-7). The early Christians also believed, therefore, that the righteous are purified by means of trials and persecutions, similar to the purification of gold and silver. However the idea that the suffering of the righteous is like purification appears, of course, much earlier, for instance in the Jewish book The Wisdom of Solomon 3:5-6. There the suffering of the righteous is discussed: “Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself; like gold in the furnace he tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them,” (RSV). To be sure, this passage refers only to the suffering of the righteous, not their death, and the suffering in question is not even said to be the result of persecution. Nonetheless, the passage is important both for its reference to being tested by fire, like gold, and for the alluded-to idea that the righteous are accepted by God as a well-being offering (shalem). Here lies the nexus between the notions of sacrifice and the suffering and death of the righteous.
- “‘Have You Ever Seen a Lion Toiling as a Porter?’” (2:332). An accidental omission caused footnote 6 to read simply “Luke 12:32.” The footnote should be restored as:
In the place of this sentence (Mt. 6:34) a different saying is found in Luke 12:32.
- “‘Have You Ever Seen a Lion Toiling as a Porter?’” (2:333). In the middle of the second paragraph, Rabbi Eleazar’s saying should be corrected as follows:
whatsomething to eat today, but says ‘What will I eat tomorrow?’—he is without faith.