Getting Samuel Sober: The 'plus' of LXX 1 Samuel 1:11 and its religious afterlife in Philo and the Gospel of Luke

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Abstract

The Old Greek of 1 Sam. 1:11 includes a component of Hannah's vow lacking in the MT: 'wine and strong drink [Samuel] shall not drink'. The status of this phrase in the translator's Vorlage is ultimately inconclusive: on the one hand, it is plausible that the translator inserted it under the influence of Hannah's later assertion of her own sobriety (1:15) or in conformity to the Nazirite vow (e.g. Num. 6:2-5); on the other, its probable attestation in 4QSam provides an early Hebrew witness. This essay explores the implications of this 'plus' as it relates to the moral and religious entailments of alcohol in ancient Judaism and Christianity, with particular attention to Philo of Alexandria and the Gospel of Luke. The former takes this text as a test case in treating the ethical question of whether the sage will get drunk. In the latter, it provides a model for the asceticism of John the Baptist. In both, however, abstinence from alcohol is subordinated to a higher spiritual ideal: 'sober inebriation' for Philo and the messianic banquet in Luke.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)453-478
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Theological Studies
Volume67
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies

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