Brian W. Davidson

teacher @highlandslatin,

PhD candidate @sbts,

research expert @sbtslibrary

Fall 2011 in Review


Thursday morning I handed in my last assignment of the semester.

This was my first semester in the Old Testament PhD program at SBTS.  This program requires a couple years of class work before one starts writing. Halfway through the semester, I thought I might never write this post. Thank the Lord for helping me to persevere. A much needed "break" is now underway.

I participated in 4 seminars:

Graduate Research Seminar

Instructors: David Puckett, Marsha Omanson, Daniel Patterson, Paul Roberts

This was a three-day seminar at the very beginning of the semester in which we discussed research methods and the basic elements of communicating clearly in print. I posted about this earlier.


Instructor: Peter Gentry

This semester long seminar was a doozy--much work but extremely rewarding. Before the seminar began, we were to read and write reviews of three introductions to to the Septuagint. I chose the following:

  • Karen H. Jobes and Moisés Silva, Invitation to the Septuagint (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2000).
  • Natalio Fernández Marcos, The Septuagint in Context: Introduction to the Greek Version of the Bible (Society of Biblical Literature, 2009).
  • Jennifer Mary Dines, The Septuagint (T&T Clark, 2004).

As a class, we read Ecclesiastes 1-7 and Proverbs 1-5, comparing the MT and LXX line for line. It was very interesting to see the radically different translation techniques between the translator of Ecclesiastes and the translator of Proverbs.

As an introduction to papyrology, we worked through a couple Greek papyrus manuscripts of Psalms 36-37. It certainly took some getting used to, but within a week of working with the script, it wasn't too difficult to make out.

Next, we spent some time learning to read the Göttingen apparatus, which initially seemed as enigmatic than the lacunae filled byzantine papyri. I used Logos's Göttingen editions. I'm very happy to have the Logos electronic editions, but I did find several typos compared to the print editions. Also, I discovered that the Logos editions do not include the Kopfleiste. That's a bummer, but I let Logos know that it's missing, and they are suppose to be checking into this.

Finally, we got to spend some time in the collation books of Ecclesiastes, constructing an apparatus ourselves. Of all the cryptic documents we read this semester, none was more difficult to interpret than the collation books. Difficult, but not impossible. The class worked together well. To the people we sat beside in local coffee shops, as we worked together to get ready for class each day, I'm sure we sounded like we were speaking a foreign language (which we were part of the time!). It was such a blessing to walk through this material with Dr. Gentry. I'm so thankful for all the hard work he does for his students.

For the final project of this seminar, we were to turn in a paper elucidating some aspect of the translation technique in either LXX Ecclesiastes or Proverbs. In my paper, I tried to collect and discuss all the places in Ecclesiastes where the LXX translator clarified the Hebrew syntax. This meant reading the Hebrew and Greek of Ecclesiastes multiple times and taking copious notes. We'll see how the paper turned out when I get it back from Dr. Gentry in the coming weeks.

UPDATE 7/19/12: I posted my paper here.


Instructor: Russell Fuller

This "seminar" was actually three classes packed into one. We went through all of Dr. Fuller's notes on Aramaic grammar and read all the Aramaic in the Bible. Dr. Fuller's approach to teaching semitic languages stresses morphology and the ability to create, not just parse, the forms. For me, this class was much more difficult than I expected. I'm thankful for it, but I've still got a lot of work to do if I'm going to be able to sight read biblical Aramaic. Most of my December and January will be spent working on this.  Next semester I look forward to taking targumic Aramaic with Dr. Fuller.

Here are the places in the Old Testament that are written in Aramaic: Genesis 31:47 (two words); Jeremiah 10:11; Daniel 2:4b-7:28; and Ezra 4:8-6:18; 7:12-26.

Old Testament Colloquium

Instructor: T.J. Betts

We met for a one full day, 9am-4pm, to discuss the Messiah in the Old Testament. Each of the Old Testament students took turns presenting one scholar's view on the topic. I presented Michael Bird's take on messianisms in the Old Testament, based on his fantastic little bookAre You the One Who Is to Come?: The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question.

One of the best memories of the whole semester was getting to listen to Jim Hamilton (For His Renown) and Peter Gentry "duke it out" over lunch. They had a lively debate over one particular aspect of Old Testament messianisms. I suspect the whole thing was staged for the benefit of the students sitting around them. I won't soon forget that lunch.

Until Next Semester

The break has officially begun. Between now and the middle of January,  I will be reading as much Hebrew and Aramaic as I can and reading Miles Van Pelt's grammars (Hebrew and Aramaic). A wise man once said, "the better one internalizes the fundamentals, the less stress one encounters in reading the text."

I thoroughly enjoyed the Fall semester and look forward to several more.


The Neglected Biblical Language

Literary Ties Between Genesis 3 and 4