Book Announcement: James Barr Assessed


We are announcing a new book that is scheduled to be published this summer (18 Aug 2021), James Barr Assessed: Evaluating His Legacy over the Last Sixty Years (ed. Stanley E. Porter; BINS 192; Leiden, Brill). The blurb states:

James Barr is a widely recognized name in biblical studies, even if he is still best known for his The Semantics of Biblical Language. Barr’s Semantics, although first published in 1961, still generates animated discussion of its claims. However, over his lengthy career Barr published significant scholarship on a wide variety of topics within Old Testament studies and beyond. This volume provides an assessment of Barr’s contribution to biblical studies sixty years after the publication of his first and still memorable volume on biblical semantics. As a result, this volume includes essays on major topics such as the Hebrew language, lexical semantics, lexicography, the Septuagint, and biblical theology.

The book consists of 14 chapters in five parts: (1) Hebrew Language and Old Testament, (2) Lexical Semantics and Biblical Philology, (3) Lexicography, (4) Septuagint, and (5) Biblical Theology. The fifth part of the book consists of two chapters, each written by D33 bloggers: “Was James Barr Wrong? Assessing His Critics on Biblical Theology” by Stan, and “James Barr and Erroneous Method in Biblical Theology: Paul and the Gift as a Test Case” by Dave. The full table of contents is below:

James Barr’s Life and Legacy: An Introduction
  Stanley E. Porter

part 1: Hebrew Language and Old Testament

Linguistics, Philology, and the Text of the Old Testament
  Robert D. Holmstedt

Comparative Philology and the Hebrew Language: Aspects of James Barr’s Critique
  John F. A. Sawyer

part 2: Lexical Semantics and Biblical Philology

James Barr’s Biblical Words for Time Revisited
  John Barton

James Barr on the ‘Illegitimate Totality Transfer’ Word-Concept Fallacy
  Alan E. Kurschner

James Barr and the State of the Biblical Lexicon
  David Arthur Lambert

Post-Semantics Commentary Writing: Romans 3:21–26 as an Example Text
  Benjamin J. Baxter

The Semantics of Biblical Language: Reflections from Relevance Theory and Lexical Pragmatics
  Gene L. Green

part 3: Lexicography

James Barr, Semantic Domains, and the Mental Lexicon
  Sean A. Adams

Building on the Shoulders of Giants: A Data-Driven Approach to Word Sense Differentiation
  Randall K. J. Tan and Andi Wu

part 4: Septuagint

The Semantics of Septuagint Language: Greek Comprehensibility and Its Hebrew Referent
  Ryder Wishart

The Septuagint as Translation: The Intersection of Barr’s Semantics and Septuagint Studies
  Darlene M. Seal

part 5: Biblical Theology

Was James Barr Wrong? Assessing His Critics on Biblical Theology
  Stanley E. Porter

James Barr and Erroneous Method in Biblical Theology: Paul and the Gift as a Test Case
  David I. Yoon

With the annual SBL meeting coming up in several months, you may want to take advantage of the conference discount, as anyone interested in James Barr or biblical linguistics will not want to miss all of the informative and insightful essays in this book.

— David I. Yoon

2 thoughts on “Book Announcement: James Barr Assessed

  1. Davd, I read your essay in this volume on Barr and Paul and the Gift. You conclude ‘every biblical scholar who aims to interpret Scripture should have a working knowledge of linguistic theory, how language works … .[and] we must be readily eager to understand how language in general works…’
    I agree 100% but doesn’t this ‘working knowledge’ and ‘understanding’ need to extend to cognitive linguistics (and pragmatics and even Relevance Theory)? Paul Grice was active in the same era as Barr and there have been developments in pragmatics since then.
    I ask, because ISTM that a number of your criticisms of Paul and the Gift are handled in cognitive linguistics.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bruce,

      Thanks for your comment. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that biblical scholars need to have a working knowledge of cognitive linguistics, although I think getting into theory helps–but just having a general idea of linguistics and how languages work. Barr predates cognitive linguistics, or at least his Semantics was around when CL began to take shape. You’re probably right that CL can also address issues in Paul and the Gift, but I think even a basic understanding of how languages work is helpful.

      — Dave

      Liked by 1 person

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