Biblical Studies Carnival נז (November 2010)

late night at SBL, Nov 2010Each month, the Biblical Studies Carnival showcases the most thought-provoking biblioblogging (biblical studies blogging) from scholars, students and keen amateurs. This is Biblical Studies Carnival 57, that is, Carnival נז from NZ.

Academy, Biblioblogging and Handy Hints

  • Conference Time

November saw the annual meetings of the American Academy of Religion (Oct 30-Nov 1), The American Schools of Oriental Research (Nov 17-20), The Society of Biblical Literature (Nov 20-23), and the Evangelical Theological Society (Nov 17-19) – each held in Atlanta, Georgia. I have included blog posts on individual papers within the relevant sections below, but a few items are worth a mention from the get go. If the old adage that “ye shall know them by their conference stands” is indeed true, guess which conference boasted the “Old Earth Creation Society,” “The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” (with the promise that they “explain biblically God’s good design for manhood and womanhood”), “The Archaeology of Miracles,” the Answers in Genesis “Creation Museum,” the “Apologetics Study Bible“, and Matthew Flannagan? Jim West (Zwinglius Redivivus) has the photographic evidence from … ETS. Things at SBL weren’t quite in that league, but Roland Boer (Stalin’s Moustache) observes that book stalls which in earlier years had been hidden in the shadows were now occupying center-stage. With his tongue firmly in cheek (metaphorically speaking), Roland refers to the prominence of “those wonderfully broadminded presses such as Intervarsity Press (IVP), Baylor, Baker, Zondervan and Hendrickson … who make Attila the Hun seem like a Marxist.” Similarly, Rebecca Lesses (Mystical Politics) points to “the increased presence of explicitly confessional panel sessions at the SBL, usually organized by outside groups … sessions organized by the Society for Pentecostal Studies, the Society of Christian Ethics, the Institute for Biblical Research (six total sessions), the Adventist Society for Religious Studies, the GOCN Forum on Missional Hermeneutics, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, and the Academy of Homiletics.” Rebecca also notes that the IVP-sponsored Tom Wright lecture for the Institute for Biblical Research “was preceded by scripture reading and prayer.” As Rebecca concludes, “it is time for the SBL to dissociate itself from such groups and reaffirm its commitment to scriptural study beyond confessional boundaries.” John Hobbins (Ancient Hebrew Poetry) makes a playful response to Rebecca.

The inaugural session of the SBL Blogger and Online Publication Section was a great and geeky success. Each presenter provides an online copy of his paper on his blog, and the canny Chris Brady offers podcasts of each of the presentations – by Jim Davila, Chris Brady, Michael Barber, James McGrath, and Robert Cargill. Robert Cargill (Excavator) delivers the chair’s introduction to the session. Jim Davila (PaleoJudaica) provides a simply excellent overview of the emergence and benefits of biblioblogging: “What Just Happened?: The rise of ‘biblioblogging’ in the first decade of the Twenty-first Century,” including valuable hyperlinks. Chris Brady (Targuman) looks at blogs via the broader category of online biblical studies, and proposes a procedure for online publishing to be peer reviewed. The proposal sounds good to Chris Heard (Higgaion) and John Hobbins (Ancient Hebrew Poetry). Michael Barber (The Sacred Page) introduces me to the neologism “bloggership” – that is, scholarship published via blogs. James McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix) asks just what a blog is and how it may influence biblical scholarship. Robert Cargill’s own paper (Excavator) discusses the future of online educational technologies, in what was a very practical and very informed paper. One of Robert’s solutions is for a greater number of quality online academic journals. [Which brings me to mention an exciting new open-access journal on religious and biblical studies and reception history: Relegere: Studies in Religion and Reception. Relegere has issued a call for papers and welcomes book reviews from academics and PhD candidates. The first edition is due out 2011.] One of the many excited attendees at the Blogger Section, Jared Calaway (Antiquitopia) blogs his impressions of the whole blogger session, and J.R. Daniel Kirk (Storied Theology) also makes a few comments. In addition, Mark Hoffman (Biblical Studies and Technological Tools) provides a rundown of the E-Publish or Perish seminar.

The “most lively session” at SBL was the panel review of James Crossley’s Jesus in an Age of Terror (Equinox, 2008), critiqued by Mark Goodacre, Zeba Crook, Bill Arnal, and Roland Boer, and followed by a reply from Crossley himself. Loren Rosson (The Busybody) summarizes proceedings.

Ken Brown (C. Orthodoxy) comments on the first SBL Presidential Address by new president, Vincent Wimbush, and in particular on his blackness. Ken’s point of departure was an exceptional SBL paper by rising biblical studies star Kirsten Dawson, on systemic violence in the book of Job and the book’s ideological blindness to the problem of slavery.

Also well worth noting are general overviews and reminiscences by Michael Barber (The Sacred Page), Edward Cook (Ralph the Sacred River), Darrell Pursifel (Dr. Platypus), Mark Goodacre (NT Blog: here, here, here, and here), Michael Bird (Ευαγγελιον), Jim Linville (Dr Jim’s Thinking Shop and Tea Room), Scott Bailey (Scotteriology), Nijay Gupta, Jeremy Thompson (Free Old Testament Audio: here, here, here, and here), Chris Brady (Targuman: here and here), Charles Halton (Awilum), Jeremiah Bailey (Walking Towards Jerusalem), Joel Watts (Unsettled Christianity), Aren Maeir (The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog: here, here and here), Daniel Doleys (Text, Community & Mission), J.R. Daniel Kirk (Storied Theology: here and here), JPS (Idle Musings of a Bookseller: here, here and here) Steve Douglas (Undeception), Matthew Flannagan (MandM), Joseph Kelly (כל האדם: here and here), Gary Manning (Eutychus Nerd: here, here and here), Roland Boer (Stalin’s Moustache), JohnDave Medina (Near Emmaus), Claude Mariottini, Bill Heroman (NT/History Blog), John Byron (The Biblical World), Matthew Dowling (Desposyni), Erwin Ochsenmeier (FourSenses.net), Stephen Cook (Biblische Ausbildung), and Peter Head (Evangelical Textual Criticism). Complaints about lack of wi-fi are included in the commentaries offered by Peter Head (Evangelical Textual Criticism) and James McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix). Some of the more vulgar bibliobloggers compare the sizes of their book purchases, e.g. esp. Chris Tilling (Chrisendom).

The SBL annual meeting was preceded by a scandal that was larger than Roland Boer’s sausage: SBL decided to charge presenters a fee if they elected to use Powerpoint projectors with their presentations. The story was broken by an indignant Jim West (Zwinglius Redivivus), but the ripples of outrage spread outwards from the depravity-fighting epicenter of biblioblogging, with vituperative posts soon following from Robert Cargill (Excavator), Scott Bailey (Scotteriology), James McGrath (Exploring Out Matrix), Roland Boer (Stalin’s Moustache), and Jeremy Thompson (Free Old Testament Audio).

On its events page, the University of Bristol announces a interdisciplinary colloquium to be held on Friday 17 December with the intriguing title, Deception and the Bible. The colloquium will “consider the relationship between falsehood, Bible, scholarship, and culture.” Enquiries about attendance can be made via the site.

  • Academic Biblical Studies versus Faith

Roland Boer (in a Bible and Interpretation op-ed) issues a further offensive in the ongoing Two Hundred Years War between academic and theological biblical scholars, together with a couple of related posts on his blog, Stalin’s Moustachehere and here. [Just to recap a little: Roland's piece follows a long line of responses to Hector Avalos' initial provocation, The End of Biblical Studies (2007), which was first responded to by folk such as Philip Davies (here and here), Alan Lenzi, and James Crossley, was then followed by a rejoinder by Avalos, a further response by Jim West, before the whole debate was rekindled by a volume of essays from Equinox, Secularism and Biblical Studies (2010) edited by Roland himself (and including a contribution from Avalos), which provoked Niels Peter Lemche's reply, provoking responses to Lemche from Avalos, Deane Galbraith, and Tim Bulkeley - bearing in mind that all of these exchanges were preceded by Jacques Berlinerblau's 2005 book, The Secular Bible, and opinions on the SBL forum from Berlinerblau ("The Unspeakable in Biblical Scholarship") and Michael V. Fox ("Scholarship and Faith in Bible Study"), now included in Secularism and Biblical Studies, which also provoked an extensive and fiery discussion - and which all goes back, at least in this most recent incarnation of the debate, to Philip Davies' suggestion in his 1995 book, Whose Bible Is It Anyway? that academic biblical studies be firmly distinguished from theologically grounded scriptural studies.] But back to Roland Boer, who comes out shooting against both “sides” to the debate, but especially against Lemche’s latest contribution. Boer’s best point is that the old-fashioned historical critical approach which attempts to do purportedly objective analysis before considering so-called secondary matters – such as postcolonialism, gender, feminism, etc, not to mention the whole material circumstances of the production of historical criticism – is blind to the interests which it is nonetheless serving. And Roland suggests that, in Lemche’s own Denmark, the Church remains one of the largest of those interests.

On the same topic, Peter Enns (a time to tear down | A Time to Build Up) posts the audio recording of the 14th annual Silvers Visiting Scholar Program, University of Pennsylvania (Oct 25, 2010), entitled, “The Challenge of Reading the Bible Today: Can the Bible be read both Critically and Religiously? Jewish, Catholic and Protestant Perspectives.” The answer they came up with is fairly obvious from the last five words of that title. But if you want to have a listen to Marc Brettler (Jewish), Peter Enns (Protestant), Daniel J. Harrington (Catholic), and Rabbi Jeffrey Tigay (neutral moderator), here’s the iTunes link or the mp3s (Part 1, Part 2).

Michael Helfield (Josephan Studies) alerts us to a new article by William Arnal on how biblical studies can make a valuable contribution to the humanities and in particular to religious studies, and provides an upside-down copy of the abstract.

Hector Avalos describes six ways in which confessional scholars resort to empty rhetoric and vacuous bluster in order to dismiss academic approaches to biblical studies (on Bible and Interpretation). Duane Smith (Abnormal Interests) is essentially in agreement, but points out ways in which Avalos’ points could be made stronger, and also points out a blog response by Jim West (Zwinglius Redivivus) that inadvertently proves Avalos’ case.

  • Handy Hints and Resources

Mark Goodacre (NT Blog) offers valuable words of advice to young biblical scholars who are beginning to undertake doctoral research, from his SBL paper.

Tyndale Tech supplies a whole series of useful posts on the following topics: Writing a Book or Thesis, Research You Can Re-search, Surviving the Death of Your Hard Drive, Writing Greek and Hebrew on a Computer, Translating Online, Finding and Reading Online Books and Periodicals.

The near-omniscient Jim West (Zwinglius Redivivus) draws attention to a valuable wiki-format online encyclopedia of Second Temple Judaism and Christian Origins written by various luminaries associated with Gabriele Boccaccini’s ongoing Enoch Seminar. The online encyclopedia is called 4 Enoch, and so far includes articles from Gabriele Boccaccini, Loren T. Stuckenbruck, Kenneth Atkinson, Alexander Kulik, Gerbern S. Oegema, Andrei A. Orlov, Samuel Rocca, and Carlos A. Segovia. In addition, Tommy Wasserman (Evangelical Textual Criticism) makes note of another free online encyclopedia – also authored by established scholars – which includes a number of entries on biblical studies: Oxford Bibliographies Online. Both resources are well worth adding to your list and include entries on both Jewish and Christian origins. Mark Hoffman (Biblical Studies and Technological Tools) provides screen-shots of the SBL’s proposed website for educating the great unwashed masses about biblical studies. It’s called Bible Odyssey.

  • Biblioblogging Anomaly

Biblioblogging anomaly Jim West is interviewed by Robert Jimenez (Near Emmaus), who provides both audio and transcript versions.

Christian Origins

Susannah Heschel

  • The Gospels and Jesus

Rebecca Lesses (Mystical Politics) advertises the 2010 Annual Holocaust Lecture at Ithaca College (Nov 9) by Susannah Heschel, a lecture which examines the conception of the Aryan Jesus held by pro-Nazi biblical scholars. Heschel concludes that Nazi biblical scholarship is “not simply … a response to political developments, nor simply … an outgrowth of struggles within the field of Christian theology” but instead, that the work of Nazi biblical scholars indicates “underlying affinities between racism and Christian theology, affinities they recognized and promoted.” Rebecca promises a podcast of the talk is to come on her blog, once she masters the technology.

The practically all-knowing Jim West (Zwinglius Redivivus) alerts us to a forthcoming collection examining the evidence for the existence of the historical (or is that entirely mythic?) Jesus: Is this not the Carpenter?’ The Question of the Historicity of the Figure of Jesus (Equinox, December 2011), edited by recently retired Copenhagen biblical scholar Thomas L. Thompson and his biblioblogging acolyte, Thomas S. Verenna (The Musings of Thomas Verenna). It provokes intrigue from James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix) and an amusing description of each of the contributors from Gavin Rumney (Otagosh).

Antonio Lombatti (Pseudoscienze cristiane antiche e medievali) reports a new interview with Gerd Lüdeman in which Lüdeman estimates that some 95% of the words of Jesus are counterfeit. Lüdeman concludes that most of what makes up the image of Jesus in the church today is a fantasy. This manipulation of Jesus’ words to fit political goals (including polemic against Jews) is no late phenomenon, but goes back to the Gospels from the first century. The interview notes the publication of Lüdeman’s new book, Die gröbste Fälschung des Neuen Testaments: Der zweite Thessalonicherbrief (zuKlampen!, Sep 2010), which leads us to a short video by Eman Laerton on the 2 Thessalonians forgery, which was shared by James McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix).

Sheffield Biblical Studies commences a select chapter-by-chapter review of what is probably the major historical Jesus work of the decade, Maurice Casey’s magnum opus, Jesus of Nazareth (T&T Clark, Oct 2010 UK; Dec 2010 U.S.). Michael Kok reviews Chapter One, “The Quest for the Historical Jesus,” where Casey critiques the historical (or as is more typical, theological) contributions of earlier Jesus scholars. Christopher Markou reviews Chapter Two, “Historically reliable sources,” where Casey defends the key importance of Mark and the Q materials as historical materials for understanding Jesus, and the relative uselessness of John. But Neil Godfrey (who I have never met, and may not really exist) thinks Jesus is a myth, and so he adopts a level of skepticism towards the evidence that would make even Sextus Empiricus appear gullible (Vridar: here, here, here, here, here, and here). 

And just when we thought nobody in biblical scholarship cared about Jesus anymore, there is suddenly a glut of historical Jesuses. Loren Rosson (The Busybody) provides a detailed review of Dale Allison’s Constructing Jesus: Memory, History, and Imagination (Baker, Nov 2010 U.S.; Dec 2010 UK) and notes its defense of a charismatic, apocalyptic and not particularly rational historical Jesus. Jim Davila (PaleoJudaica) announces the publication of a new volume from Geza Vermes: Jesus in the Jewish World (SPCK and Baker, Oct 2010). Ludwik (Paulus 2.0) informs us that even Jesus’ ἀδελφοί get a book-length treatment. Roberto Reggi’s I «fratelli di Gesù»: Considerazioni filologiche, ermeneutiche, storiche, statistiche sulla verginità perpetua di Maria concludes that the ἀδελφοί were really Jesus’ paternal cousins, not his brothers. Reggi is an Italian Catholic high school teacher, and this book is based on a thesis written for La Pontificia Commissione Biblica, which is based at the Palace of the Inquisition, Rome – not a place, I guess, you want to be concluding that the historical Mary’s hymen wasn’t perpetually intact. The historical Jesus glut compels Loren Rosson to compile a revised top ten historical Jesus scholars or works.

Sonja (Women in Theology) reports another publication involving the current Roman Catholic Pope, Joseph Ratzinger, in which he tries his hand at historical Jesus scholarship. In the book-length interview in Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times (Ignatius, Nov 2010), interviewer Peter Seewald makes the following highly misleading description of the state of biblical scholarship: “To make things clear for the record: There is no longer any doubt, is there, that the historical Jesus and the so-called ‘Jesus of faith’ are absolutely identical personages?” (172-173). Sonja amusingly retorts, “Someone buy that man a subscription to Catholic Biblical Quarterly.”

SlavAdam Kotsko (An und für sich) provides a copy of his AAR paper, “Žižek and the Excremental Body of Christ,” which examines Žižek’s theology of the cross. Adam discusses Žižek’s understanding of the Christian God as a God who “freely identified himself with his own shit” (Parallax View, 187) and the ethical implications of such an understanding, which, as Adam wryly notes, “I am sure will not be included in any Christian ethics courses any time soon.”

Mark D. Roberts (Beliefnet) gives his interpretation of various Christological titles: the Wisdom titles (Parts 1, 2, and 3), “The Son of God,” “The Son of Man” (Parts 1 and 2), and “Son of God” (Parts 1 and 2). In response, Jim Davila (PaleoJudaica) points out some Wisdom material Mark might also have covered, and notes his agreements and disagreements concerning the two Christological titles.

Larry Hurtado provides an extended review of James McGrath’s book, The Only True God: Early Christian Monotheism in its Jewish Context (2009), which he makes available on his blog, here. Larry thinks that the devotion or worship of Jesus is quite an innovative historical development. In return, James responds to Larry’s review. James doesn’t think that the devotion or worship of Jesus is altogether different from contemporary Jewish religious practice. Then Larry responds to James’ response to Larry’s review. Then James responds to Larry’s response to James’ response to Larry’s review. Then Larry responds to James’ response to Larry’s response to James’ response to Larry’s review, claiming that none of the evidence James produced was anything like what was happening in early Christianity, which he describes as a “mutant” – or perhaps a “mutation.” Then James responds to Larry’s response to James response to Larry’s response to James’ response to Larry’s review, claiming that the only significant difference from other Judaisms was the worship of a crucified man, not the Christian messianic claims themselves. Then Larry … then James

Loren Rosson (The Busybody) discusses two SBL papers which utilize social-scientific and cognitive-scientific approaches to explain the idea of Jesus’ resurrection, by Pieter Craffert (neuro-anthropology) and Colleen Shantz (evolutionary psychology).

Phillip Long (Reading Acts) provides an overview of James Charlesworth’s Near Eastern Archaeological Society / ETS paper on the Pools of Bethseda and Siloam mentioned in the Gospel of John.

Timo S. Paananen (Salainen evankelista) argues that Craig S. Keener presents a one-sided and imbalanced presentation of the question of the authenticity of the Secret Gospel of Mark in Keener’s The Historical Jesus of the Gospels: Jesus in Historical Context (Eerdmans, 2009).

Phil Harland (Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean) provides two podcasts exploring the techniques Jesus employed as a teacher, and introduces the central concept of Jesus’ teaching: the “Kingdom of God” (mp3s here and here).

Mark Goodacre (NT Blog) provides online access to some of his recent articles, all on Mark (the evangelist, that is). A complete list of his articles, most of them online, is also available here.

Tony Burke (Apocryphicity) reviews Andreas J. Köstenberger’s and Michael J. Kruger’s The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture’s Fascination with Diversity has Reshaped our Understanding of Early Christianity (Crossway, 2010) in four parts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4). Tony rightly draws attention to the highly conservative and apologetic nature of this book, which adopts a sometimes conspiratorial “language of alarm” concerning scholarship into the non-canonical Christian literature. Although in one part of the book the authors claim to base their position on “logical” argument, this claim is undermined entirely in other parts of the book where the authors claim that their scholarly opponents are driven by demonic “forces”! Clearly Köstenberger and Kruger fail to meet some of the minimum standards of what constitutes academic scholarship.

However, as Loren Rosson (The Busybody) points out, two secular New Testament scholars, Donald Akenson and Maurice Casey, and one Catholic scholar-priest, John P. Meier agree that Jesus traditions outside the canon are for all practical purposes useless for reconstructing the historical Jesus.

Phillip Long (Reading Acts) provides brief summaries of papers on Luke-Acts at ETS on the topics of historiography, border studies, postcolonial and feminist approaches (well, dismissive of such approaches), and the prologue to Acts.

Tim Bulkeley (Sansblogue) warns us not to import modern prejudices about prostitutes or demons and healing when trying to interpret the Gospels.

  • Paul and Pseudo-Paul

The Paul and Scripture Seminar blog shares three papers from their session at the 2010 SBL Annual Meeting, all on what they call “intertextuality.” Ben Witherington discusses the early Christian belief that scripture was inspired, Matthew W. Bates stresses the need for synchronic context (“con-texts” and “post-texts”) in explaining how Paul interprets texts from Isaiah, and Leonard Greenspoon is leery of either-or approaches when it comes to Paul’s memorization and recalling of passages from the Hebrew Bible.

New Testament scholar and children’s book writer, Michael Bird (Ευαγγελιον) announces a new journal dedicated to Paul’s writings: Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters (Eisenbrauns, forthcoming 2011-) – of which the versatile Michael Bird himself is the editor. A sample issue includes an introduction by Michael and an article by Susan Grove Eastman on Philippians 2.6-11.

Mark Goodacre (NT Pod) asks, “What did Paul know about Jesus?” Did he know anything about the Jesus who lived in Nazareth? Or was Jesus just a heavenly figure for Paul? And, most importantly, in respect of “1 Corinthians,” should we say “One Corinthians” or “First Corinthians”? Mark answers all these questions and more in his examination of some of the earthly Jesus tradition which Paul includes in his letters, in this podcast (13:53).

Matthew D. Montonini (New Testament Perspectives) interviews James Ware, author of Synopsis of the Pauline Letters in Greek and English (Baker, 2010), a work Matthew believes “will revolutionize Pauline studies in future research.” The synopsis lays out parallel passages in the Pauline and Pseudo-Pauline corpus (13 letters plus Paul in Acts), as shown in this excerpt. (Note: oddly, the excerpt doesn’t have the Greek on the left and English on the right – but this appears to be a problem with the pdf layout not the book.) Synopses are certainly useful, but even more useful I’ve found is the knowledge gained by doing them yourself. All you need is a spreadsheet.

Ardel Caneday (ἐξήγησις) provides a copy of his ETS paper on the meaning of the much-disputed phrase, πίστις Χριστοῦ. Ardel thinks there are reasons to interpret the phrase as though it were a subjective genitive (ie. “faithfulness of Christ”) where it occurs in Galatians.

The main event at ETS was an exchange on Paul’s idea(s) of justification – and in particular Tom Wright’s idea(s) of Paul’s idea(s) of justification. It featured three plenary session papers, from Tom Schreiner, Frank Thielman and Tom Wright, together with their respective responses. Detailed overviews are provided by Andrew Cowan and Collin Hansen (The Gospel Coalition), with an audio summary by Al Mohler, and by Craig Blomberg (Koinonia). The papers and responses are to be published in the Journal for the Evangelical Theological Society, but Patrick Schreiner (Ad Fontes) has already made available his father Tom’s responses to Wright and Thielman. Tom Schreiner’s paper was blogged by Justin Taylor (The Gospel Coalition), Marc Cortez (Scientia et Sapientia), Stephen Nichols (Reformation21), and Phillip Long (Reading Acts). Frank Thielman’s paper, which concentrated on the interpretation of the “righteousness of God” in Romans 1.17, was blogged by Marc Cortez and Phillip Long. Tom Wright’s ETS paper on justification was blogged by Mike Wittmer (Don’t Stop Believing), Marc Cortez (Scientia et Sapientia: here, here and here), Michael Heiser (The Naked Bible), Michael Bird (Ευαγγελιον), Jason Stellman (Creed, Code, Cult), Dane Ortland (Strawberry-Rhubarb Theology), Daniel Doleys (Text Community & Mission), Philip Long (Reading Acts), A.G. Haykin (The Andrew Fuller Center), Gary Manning (Eutychus Nerd), Blake White (Barabbas), Mike Aleckson (MikeAleckson.com), and Ardel Caneday (Biblia Theologica). Denny Burk points out that Wright had previously described justification as “on the basis of” works, despite his denial at ETS that he had done so (see here and here). But Tom retorts in Denny’s comments section that in such cases he was merely summarizing Paul’s own occasional words, rather than providing a systematic theology on justification. In a post entitled “Meeting a Hero,” Tyler Stewart (A Humble Attempt at Being Human) blogs his encounter with Tom Wright:

“As I was standing in line for registration N.T. Wright himself walked up and stood right next to me…. Margaret [my wife] even touched the hem of his garment. It was awesome…. I walked over to him, he’s actually a rather big guy (easily 6 foot 3) and stuck out my hand. He kindly shook while I told him how wonderful he is, and that if he only asked I would be his personal slave until Jesus comes back. He humbly turned down my offer for voluntary slavery and simply said, ‘Thank you.’” 

J.R. Daniel Kirk (Storied Theology) provides a rundown of the annual lecture at the Institute for Biblical Literature by Tom Wright and the response provided by Michael Bird, and Daniel and Tonya (Hebrew and Greek Reader) offer some further comments. Michael Bird (Ευαγγελιον) provides a copy of his response to Wright on his blog. What’s more, the busy Bird delivered a paper at ETS which is also devoted to Tom Wright (available here). In it, Michael attempts to find a middle way between John Piper and Tom Wright – much like, I presume, Odysseus once attempted to find between Scylla and Charibdis.

In a couple of posts, Richard Fellows (Paul and Co-workers) argues that the sending of Timothy to the Corinthians (1 Cor 4:17-21) is connected to Paul’s subsequent discussion of licentiousness and that Titus’s mission to Corinth had the same purpose as Timothy’s: to oppose the licentiousness there. Richard further concludes that Timothy was none other than Titus renamed.

Loren Rosson (The Busybody) comments on two SBL papers which discuss Paul and Judaism, one by Mark Nanos and the second by Paula Fredricksen.

J. Brian Tucker (Identity Formation in the New Testament) posts his SBL paper, “The Continuation of Gentile Identity in Christ,” available here.

Ken Schenck (Quadrilateral Thoughts) alerts us to the fact that the SBL papers on Pseudo-Paul’s letter to the Hebrews are available on the Hebrew Group page at the University of Basel.

  • Apocalypse Now

Brian LePort (Near Emmaus) notifies us about a video of N.T. Wright’s lecture, “Revelation and Christian Hope: Political Implications of the Revelation of John” (Oct 8, Duke Divinity School). In his past writings, Wright conveniently reinterpreted the catastrophic apocalypticism in the Synoptic Gospels as though it merely involved some sort of this-worldly transformation (so as to avoid admitting that Jesus was simply mistaken in believing that the world was just about to end 2000 years ago). In a similar vein in this video, Wright follows the current trend of pretending the New Testament is a “subversive” collection of this-worldly political radicalism (despite the Revelation of John’s escape into other-worldly fantasy, in which it is pretended that a critical change has already occurred on earth as a result of believing in Jesus’ imaginary heavenly enthronement, and the concomitant introspection of the community and conservative call to effective political inaction on earth).

Students in James McGrath’s course on Revelation and its reception blog their thoughts at The Book of Revelation.

  • Other Christian Origins Blogging

Tim Henderson (Earliest Christianity) announces that Bart Ehrman’s new book, Forged: Writing in the Name of God – Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are is due out in March 2011 (HarperOne). Tim expects nothing new about the topic of pseudepigraphy in the Bible, but a popular, if not sensationalist, treatment. Well, maybe. But if you can turn the arcane world of textual criticism into accessible pop culture entertainment, without detriment to broad accuracy, then you certainly deserve some sort of credit.

Larry Hurtado provides an ad hoc list of what he views as the most significant developments in the study of the New Testament and Christian origins over the last century or so: the “de-throning” of the textus receptus, the discovery of various papyri, new methods in text-critical analysis, greater sophistication in handling Jesus tradition, recognition of the Jewishness of Paul, a greater sense of diversity in early Christianity, a better sense of Jewish context gained in particular from the DSS and criticism of the earlier Hellenistic-Palestinian division, greater understanding of church demographics, and (with confessed self-interest) recognition of the earliness of Christ devotion. Tsalampouni Ekaterini (Ιστολόγιο βιβλικών σπουδών / Biblical Studies Blog) adds a few more: social-science and literary critical methods, ideological criticisms (e.g. postcolonial studies), the use of non-canonical texts, the role of oral tradition, and reception history studies.

J. R. Daniel Kirk (Storied Theology) asks how ancient listeners or readers engaged with New Testament texts. The answer is, in short, actively.

Emerging Judaism

  • Tanach

Christopher Heard (Higgaion) concludes his series on whether Genesis 21.9 describes Ishmael sexually molesting Isaac, or just portrays a bit of playful jostling.

Marc Cortez (Scientia et Sapientia) summarizes Megan DeFranza’s ETS paper on “the recent trend toward understanding the human person and the imago Dei primarily through the lens of human sexuality.” The paper discusses the resulting sexualization of God. But the most important lesson I take from the summary of this paper is that biblical interpreters should be very wary of using overtly theological interpretations of the Bible by theologians, as these are usually more misleading than enlightening. In particular, the woeful interpretation of Genesis 1.27 by Karl Barth should be given a wide berth in academic biblical studies.

Aric Clark (Two Friars and a Fool) explores some widely cited biblical “proof-texts on homosexuality” that might not really prove what the religious right claim they do. He has a post on the biblical description of same-sex intercourse as an “abomination,” and another post on the identification of the sin of Sodom.

Philip Davies & Lester GrabbeLester Grabbe turned 65 on Nov 5 (which dates him, contrary to popular rumor, well after the Persian period). To celebrate the occasion, Philip Davies (pictured left) and Diana Edelman (not pictured) presented him with a Festschrift the following day, called The Historian and the Bible (T&T Clark, 2010). The collection has contributions from most of the big names in biblical fairytaleology (i.e. what used to be referred to as “biblical historiography”): Barstad, Lemche, Na’aman, Albertz, Thompson, Lemaire, Liverani, Ben Zvi, Edelman, Williamson, Lipschits, Becking, Blenkinsopp, Knoppers, Knauf, Davies, and Brooke. The ubiquitous Jim West (Zwinglius Redivivus) has the exclusive report, including photos on a couch which appears to be made from the hide of a red cow.

Jim Linville (Dr. Jim’s Thinking Shop & Tea Room) posts an extended version of his SBL paper on myth in the Old Testament, which surveys the ways in which Old Testament Introductions treat the issue. Reminiscent of Nic Wyatt’s various writings on the issue (whom he cites), Jim asks why the Old Testament is frequently seen as an exception amongst other ancient literature, as though it is somehow fundamentally different in nature. Jim argues that such an approach represents “an outdated, and rather outrageous western-centric evolutionary model of societal development.”

Thom Stark (Religion at the Margins) provides a very detailed review of one of many recent apologetic attempts to defend Joshua’s account of the Canaanite genocides: The Joshua Delusion (Cascade, 2010), by Douglas S. Earl. Stark exposes the fundamental weaknesses of Earl’s approach, including its unfeasible appeal to “hyperbole” and its complete failure to consider questions of historical composition which are detrimental to Earl’s interpretation. On such grounds, Stark deems Earl’s thesis to be a failure. Gavin Rumney (Otagosh) criticizes similar apologetic tendentiousness from Reformed apologist Alvin Plantinga.

Carisa (Queen of Heaven) discusses Asherah, the one-time wife of Yahweh in the ancient Levant, before Yahweh took over and cleared out the other elohim from the divine council (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).

Jim Linville (Dr Jim’s Thinking Room and Tea Shop) notes a new volume on various conceptions of exile found in the Hebrew Bible (Daniel Patte (ed.), The Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity, CUP, 2010). The volume happens to include Jim’s own essay on the myth of the exilic return. Jim’s blog post also features an Ehud Ben Zvi lolcat.

Scott Bailey (Scotteriology) explains why it’s important to consider the context of an ancient biblical passage before simply using it to justify a contemporary religious practice. Scott gives the example of King David’s dancing around the ark as a “rationale” sometimes offered for modern Pentecostal dancing.

Andrew Lee (SANACS | Society of Asian North American Christian Studies) reports on papers at the meeting of The Institute for the Study of Asian American Christianity, held in conjunction with SBL.

John Hobbins (Ancient Hebrew Poetry) puts Yahweh’s “credo” in Israel back into the little credo of Jeremiah 2.1-3, contrary to almost all English translations of the verses which he has found. He’s right. And I add that by “reading the seams,” to adopt Adriane Leveen’s phrase, we might be less inclined to interpret ancient Hebrew literature as though it were perfectly assimilated to the context of the whole, as in a New Critical sense (a theoretical approach based on the interpretation of modern works), but rather that it has been assimilated according to quite different sensibilities. Recognizing that principle might let us see that the appearance of a suddenly unqualifiedly positive credo (Jeremiah 2.1-3) between two quite negative passages is etically not emically jarring. And reading through John’s fine post, I also noticed a possible connotative play between לולתיך (“your bridal virgin”) and לא זרועה (“not seeded”) – uncovered by his structuring of the verses.

Roland Boer (Stalin’s Moustache) gives a report of his SBL Sausage Fest paper, including his innovative interpretation of Ezekiel 2-3 as auto-fellatio, and a subsequent oral exchange with Lester Grabbe.

Daniel McClellan discusses David Frankel’s argument that “El [is] the Speaking Voice in Psalm 82:6–8” (Journal of Hebrew Scriptures), ie., El as a distinct god from Yahweh. Michael Heiser (The Naked Bible) reports that he discusses the question of “the Elohim” in Psalm 82 at ETS, in two separate papers, and provides links to both papers. Discussion ensued in a detailed post by Daniel McClellan and a post by Nick Norelli (Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth).

Daniel McClellan also reviews a new volume edited by Francesca Stavrakopoulou and John Barton, Religious Diversity in Ancient Israel and Judah (T&T Clark, 2010).

  • Jewish Pseudepigrapha and Mysticism

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL – The Ancient World Online) discusses the Online Critical Pseudepigrapha project, which is in the process of publishing “on-line, free-access critical texts of the Pseudepigrapha which are up-to-date and academically rigorous.” Some 29 Pseudepigrapha are available on the site at present.

Rebecca Lesses (Mystical Politics) reviews some of the sessions she attended, providing comments on the Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism section and the presentation of a Festschrift to her Doktormutter, Rachel Elior. David Larsen (Heavenly Ascents) provides further comments on the same section. Jim Davila (PaleoJudaica) uploads his SBL review of Peter Schäfer’s The Origins of Jewish Mysticism (Mohr-Siebeck, 2009), which includes a critique of a view I have always found very odd (despite its prevalence): the view that there is no mystical experience behind these texts. Jim also provides relevant links to some of his own considerable works on Hekhalot literature and other Jewish mysticism. His paper is available as a pdf here.

  • Ancient Near Eastern and Hellenistic Background

Seth Sanders (Serving the Word) considers the material dimensions of inscriptions in the ancient Near East, and makes seven modest proposals.

Roland Boer (Stalin’s Moustache) comments on the new SBL section on the Bible and economics. He also provides an outline of one of his proposed books, to be called The Sacred Economy, which will provide a hypothetical model of the economy of ancient Judea, and which appears to involve economic analysis on a scale not seen since the composition of Das Kapital. The hypothetical economic base will in turn explain elements of the superstructure of biblical ideology – such as, for example, the Bible’s concern for fertility and its fetishistic obsession with the prostitute metaphor. If I understand his proposal, the fact that this single economic base is constituently in tension between its tributory and domestic aspects in turn furnishes homologies in biblical literature, for example in the hopelessly contradictory thought of Paul, and also in Paul’s attempts to mollify the less conservative teachings of Jesus, etc.

In a curious post, Duane Smith compiles a list of Akkadian omens from Shumma Alu in which a snake appears between a husband and a wife, refusing to draw any parallels to the story of Adam, Eve, and that serpentine agent of childbirth.

Jim Davila (PaleoJudaica) alerts readers to the fact that ATIQOT, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) archaeology journal, is now available free of charge online at Atiqot.

  • Septuaginta

John Meade (LXX Studies) makes witty one-liners about studying the Hexapla. Really.

Daniel McClellan posts his Masters thesis, “Anti-Anthropomorphism and the Vorlage of LXX Exodus” and asks for comments before he possibly revises and publishes it.

  • Talmud and Rabbinics

Yehuda Mirsky (Jewish Ideas Daily) notes a new volume titled The Talmud in its Iranian Context (Mohr, 2010), and discusses the changes that result in interpreting Bavli (the Babylonian Talmud) when we are aware of the Persian political-social context in which it was developed and composed – or, as Yehuda puts it, scholars need “to put the ‘Babylonia’ back into the Babylonian Talmud.” Closer Iranian-Jewish relations are required.

Meanwhile, Eli (The Yerushalmi Blog) provides a convenient table of contents to the high resolution images of Yerushalmi (the Palestinian Talmud) held at the University of Leiden Library. The Leiden manuscript (Leiden Or. 4720) was written in 1289 by Rabeinu Yechiel Ben Yekutiel HaRofeh from Rome, and is “the only extant complete manuscript of Talmud Yerushalmi.” It’s available here.

Menachem Mendel advises that the Jewish Theological Seminary Library has made available its entire manuscript collection online. The manuscript collection is available at HebrewManuscripts.org.

  • Other Emerging Judaism Blogging

Tommy Wasserman (Evangelical Textual Criticism) also notes that Emanuel Tov has made a large number of his publications freely available online. The Tov publications are found here.

Dorothy King (PhDiva) provides a review of Shlomo Sand’s The Invention of the Jewish People (Verso, 2010) and found it “thought-provoking” but “deeply flawed.”

Language, Text and Translation

  • The NIV

On Nov 1, the 2011 update to the New International Version (NIV) was (pre-)released online, together with translators’ notes written primarily by the biblioblogging Craig Blomberg of Denver Seminary. The publication of yet another evangelical English translation of the Protestant Bible generated extensive interest from bibliobloggers, which is worth examining in some detail. Robert Slowley (RobHu Studies the Bible) very conveniently provides a comprehensive comparison of the old NIV 1984, the TNIV and NIV 2011.

After the TNIV (and earlier the NIVi) had introduced a gender-neutral translation of the Bible, the reactionary outcry by conservative Christians provoked a rewrite of some of the TNIV’s inclusively rendered passages. Peter Kirk (Gentle Wisdom) reaches a similar conclusion analyzing some of the language changes from the chart provided by Peter Slowley, as do Jonathan D. Fitzgerald (Patrol) and Cathy Lynn Grossman (Faith & Reason), who note that a too-inclusive NIV is bad for sales. The resulting changes to the NIV 2011 typically involve being less inclusive whenever gender inclusivity would risk tainting Jesus with feminine bits. Suzanne McCarthy (Suzanne’s Bookshelf) notes that the TNIV’s rendering of Hebrews 2.17 (“[Jesus] had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every way”) has been changed to “[Jesus] had to be made like them, fully human.” The idea of Jesus being incarnated like a woman was, it seems, a bit too much for the significant contingent of conservative readers of the NIV. Craig Blomberg of Denver Seminary defends the changes as being based on actual everyday usage, a justification which invites the retort: yes, but should a translation which claims gender neutrality be merely reflective of actual usage, or should it be more… discriminating? Joel M. Hoffman (God Didn’t Say That) concludes that NIV 2011 has preserved much of TNIV’s gender-neutral language, but observes a few inconsistencies. Ben Witherington (On The Bible and Culture) provides a summary of many of the changes involving inclusive language. Martin Shields (Shields Up) responds to the fundamentalist backlash against inclusive language which is evident in The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womenhood’s criticism of the TNIV.

In a wide-ranging discussion, Rick Mansfield (This Lamp) relates that he has encountered many women who read the older translations of Genesis 1.27 (“God created man [האדם] in his own image”), and interpreted it as though it states that only males were created in the image of God. Rick was shocked that women might think this, and so supports the NIV 2011′s gender neutrality, as better communicating the so-called original meaning. However, it should be noted that all divine beings in the Tanach, including the male Yahweh and his male angels, were corporeal; so the “image of God” in Genesis 1.27 plausibly refers to a god with a male-shaped body, complete with, as Michael Coogan notes in his recent book (God and Sex), a God-sized penispace trendy yet speculative 1970s androgynous-body theories. This is also the interpretation of Paul in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 11.7), who interprets the reference to creation in the image of God in Genesis 1.27 as applicable only to males. Women, for Paul, were made in the image of men, so were only indirect reflections of God. Mind you, these conclusions are, for obvious interested reasons, hotly contested.

Robert Lyons (Stellar Cross) wishes that NIV 2011 Psalm 1.1 had translated האישׁ as “the man” rather than “the one”, on the grounds that such a translation would support the (much later) Christian/messianic interpretation of “the man” as Jesus. Robert’s wish interestingly reveals that Robert values the indirect facilitating of an ancient Christian reinterpretation over support of the reading practices of – especially – contemporary women. Robert also argues that the description of Phoebe as a “deacon” rather than “deaconess” in Romans 16.1 was wrong, claiming the English word should mirror the feminine gender of the Greek noun διάκονος. But his objection overlooks the fact that in this particular case the anarthrous διάκονος in Romans 16.1 looks exactly the same in feminine and masculine forms. (Note: Robert is a “complementarian,” a euphemistic term employed by those who uphold patriarchal distinction and hierarchy.) Ken Schenck (Quadrilateral Thoughts) also comments on the form of διάκονος in a post on Phoebe, Priscilla, and Junia.

But taking the discussion to a different level, isn’t there something deeply farcical in debating gender equality at the level of a Bible translator’s word choices, when the content of what is being translated – the Bible – overwhelmingly upholds patriarchal, hierarchical and androcentric attitudes? That is, while gender-inclusive language is – I consider – a good in itself, when used to “translate” the Bible it inevitably masks the substantive gender bias which the Bible maintains, and thereby cloaks and perpetuates the Bible’s sexism for its modern Protestant Christian users. Is gender-inclusive language primarily an improvement for women or a means to maintain patriarchy? To answer this question, we might consider David Ker’s post at Better Bibles Blog, which includes a comparison between the NIV 1984 and NIV 2011′s translations of the overtly sexist 1 Timothy 2. David mentions that 1 Timothy 2 provides “one of the most difficult passages for handling gender in the New Testament,” and provides examples of how NIV 2011 has rendered the Greek in order to attain a “successful” gender-neutral translation. The so-called “gender-neutral” translation on which he concentrates is the translation of ἄνθρωπος as “mankind” in 1 Timothy 2.5 – compared with the TNIV’s earlier “human beings” – representative of a change rightly described by Rodney A. Thomas (Political Jesus) as “the giant step backwards in gender language.” Moreover, in concentrating on this allegedly “gender-neutral” translation, David makes no comment on the fact that the NIV 2011 has “neutrally” translated a text containing a blatant androcentric ideology, oppression and curtailment of women’s roles in the early Christian community, confinement of women to domestic spaces, not to mention a justification of women’s submission to men and an essentialization of female inferiority (see 1 Timothy 2.9-15). A curious complaint was made by “complementarian” Denny Burk, who argued that the NIV 2011′s translation of 1 Timothy 2.12 just doesn’t make man’s authority over women clear enough. Denny worries that the translation might be taken to support equality between the sexes. TCR (New Leaven) reports a reply by NIV 2011 translator Douglas Moo, who claims that the NIV 2011 adopted neither an egalitarian nor complementarian position, a claim repeated by fellow translator Craig Blomberg. Denny reiterates his position in two further posts. Related comments are made by Suzanne McCarthy (Suzanne’s Bookshelf: in two posts) and Collin Hansen (The Gospel Coalition). Incidentally, here is the photograph of the translation committee from their website, The Committee on Bible Translation (CBT):

12:2

Also well worth reading on the NIV is a post by Joe Heschmeyer (Shameless Popery), where he identifies anti-Catholic, Protestant bias in the translation of παράδοσις as “tradition” whenever the term is used negatively, but as “teachings” whenever it is used positively. John Hobbins (Ancient Hebrew Poetry) examines the new NIV’s translation of Ecclesiastes 11.1-2, and finds that it is “not so much a translation as an interpretation,” because of its overwillingness to paraphrase the unclear or ambiguous Hebrew text. A bloggersation with Rick Mansfield (This Lamp) concerning translation technique ensued (here, here, here, and here). Likewise, Joel Hoffman (God Didn’t Say That) questions whether the translation of οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι (literally, “the Jews”) as “the Jewish leaders”, so translated to avoid anti-Semitic interpretations, is guilty of “improving” the text. Joel also asks whether the context of some passages made the specification unnecessary. Robert Jimenez (Near Emmaus) approves of the NIV 2011′s literal translation “a son of man” in Hebrews 2.6b (quoting Psalm 8.4[5]), in contrast to the TNIV’s “human beings.” The NIV 2011 also changed the definite article of NIV 1984 (“the son of man”), so as to allow either a Christological or anthropological reading of the term – although the effect for the vast majority of the targeted Christian readers will surely be to reinforce their existing Christological understanding of the term, irrespective of Pseudo-Paul‘s meaning in Hebrews 2.6b. Brent Kercheville (Christian Monthly Standard), John Byron (The Biblical World) and Robert Jimenez (Near Emmaus) largely approve of the NIV 2011′s more formally literal translation of σάρξ as “flesh” compared with the NIV’s “sinful/human nature” – despite the fact that the translation “flesh” is, as David Ker correctly puts it, a quaint piece of “Biblese.” John Byron (The Biblical World) notes that God no longer hates divorce in NIV 2011 Malachi 2.16. Nick Norelli (Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth) worries that the dropping of “O” will mean that readers won’t be able to recognize the vocative voice (O Nick of little faith!). Iver Larsen (Better Bibles Blog) examines the translation of Luke 7.28-31 and Matthew 11.12, 16 and 19. N.J. Mackison (Scum of the Earth), Jason A. Staples (Professor Obvious), and J.R. Daniel Kirk (Storied Theology) provide comments on a number of translation choices. Charles Halton (Awilum), Claude Mariottini and Daniel O. McClellan examine a number of examples where NIV 2011 makes forced and spurious translations which appear to be favored for no other good reason than the fact that these “translations” harmonize various errors and contradictions in the Bible.

Such features continue to ensure that the NIV remains a devotional translation for Christian users and seminaries, not a translation for use in academic biblical studies. As Douglas Mangum (Biblia Hebraica et Graeca) summarizes: “It is clear that the translators are less interested in revealing the linguistic and literary complexity of the biblical world than with maintaining an ignorant public’s faith in the accuracy of the putative original language and text.” So one of the most important points for biblical scholarship is correctly stated by John Hobbins (Ancient Hebrew Poetry): “we regard all serious study of the biblical text to depend on intimate familiarity with the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek originals.” Another important observation which this biblioblog discussion has clearly exposed is that philology is “always already” biased and political – even though textual criticism is still widely regarded as the so-called “objective” stage before potentially biased interpretations are seen as kicking in. Yet this conclusion does not entail that all textual criticism is simply equally biased. The NIV certainly has flaws, but the translation is far better in most ways than, for example, The New World Translation.

  • Critical Edition

In other news, Patrick George McCullough (kata ta biblia) describes his first-time textual experimentation with SBLGNT. As noted last month, the Logos Greek New Testament is now available for free download. The creator, Mike Holmes, answers questions on Facebook and on Evangelical Textual Criticism. Mark Hoffman (Biblical Studies and Technological Tools) summarizes an 8-page analysis of SBLGNT in respect of the Gospels by Wieland Willker (Bible Works forum). Joe Weaks (The Macintosh Biblioblog) doesn’t think much of it. Stephen Carlson (Hypotyposeis) is more positive. But scholar of diverse talents, Michael Bird (Ευαγγελιον) gets so excited with scanning his SBLGNT for textual variants, that he makes an SBLGNT Old Spice commercial about his experience.

  • Hebrew

Peter Bekins (בלשנות) discusses a few of the problems with the classification of biblical texts as either Early (Classical) Biblical Hebrew or Late Biblical Hebrew, with reference to a 2009 article by Ian Young.

Douglas Mangum (Biblia Hebraica et Graeca) posts a two-part question-and-answer session with Seth Sanders, on Sanders’ book, The Invention of Hebrew (University of Illinois, 2009). Part 1 and part 2.

Jan Pieter van de Giessen (Aantekeningen bij de Bijbel) makes a brief comment about the puncta extraordinaria.

Daniel and Tonya (Hebrew and Greek Reader) share their lexical entry for the preposition תחת, which often means “under,” but a few other things as well. Not only do they have a nice diagram of the semantic range made out of differently sized circles and connecting lines, but they also have some “frame semantic diagrams.”

  • Greek

Steve Runge (NT Discourse) shares his ETS paper, in which he claims that Stanley Porter’s prominence-based model of aspect is based on a “flawed theoretical framework.” The paper can be found here.

Randall Buth (Alef and Omega) advocates speaking in Greek if you read the Greek New Testament. He also provides the Greek section of his SBL paper, together with an English summary.

Stephen Carlson (Hypotyposeis) discusses a variant and a dubious conjectural emendation for τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ (“of the son of God”) in the received text of Galatians 2.20.

Jim Davila (PaleoJudaica) notes the modern Greek term for blog: ιστολόγιο. Darrell Pursifel (Dr. Platypus) speculates on the classical or Koine Greek term: “ὑφαιλόγιον/hyphailogion (from ὑφαί “web”) or perhaps ἀρκυλόγιον/arkylogion (from ἀρκύς “net”).”

Reception History

As an example of how fundamentalist Christian beliefs help shape the U.S. Government’s disastrous environmental policies, Lauri Lebo (Religion Dispatches) reports on the argument which U.S. Representative John Shimkus delivered in a congressional hearing on Energy and Environment in March 2009. On this YouTube video, Shimkus first reads part of the speech of Yahweh which appears in Genesis 8.21-22 in which Noah’s god promises not to destroy all living creatures, and follows it up with a quote from the words of Jesus in Matthew 24.31 who promises that the Son of Man will rescue Christians in the end times. Then the Illinois Representative delivers this conclusion about global warming: “The earth will end only when God declares its time to be over. Man will not destroy this earth.” James McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix) notes how selective Shimkus was in choosing biblical verses to fit his arguments against global warming, and cheekily suggests that literalists might equally interpret Revelation 16.8 as a prediction that global warming will occur. Not dissimilarly, Steve Wiggins (Sects and Violence in the Ancient World) points out that it is not the Bible’s content that provides any answers about global warming, but the long-held belief of its users that the Bible is some kind of magical answer book which may be cited against their enemies. Also, Joseph Kelly (כל האדם) shares his SBL paper, “What Would Moses Do? On Applying the Test of a False Prophet to the Current Climate Crisis,” which suggests that the test of a false prophet in Deuteronomy 18 may help in adjudicating between climate scientists and skeptics. But I’m still skeptical as to whether this quite unworkable, probably utopian, ancient test to distinguish a “true prophet” from a “false prophet” has any worthwhile contribution whatsoever to make towards understanding global warming deniers.

Søren Holst (Pergament) notes a new children’s picture book series which aims to put the blood, gore, violence, and filth back into Bible stories. “We’re probably the only publisher in the world which has published the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as a picture book for children,” says Jeanne Dalgaard of Alfa publishers.

Mark Goodacre (NT Blog) and Matt Page (here, here and here) provided details of a new four-part dramatization of the birth of Jesus, called The Nativity, which will screen on BBC1 this Christmas. It’s written by Tony Jordan of Life On Mars, Hustle, and EastEnders fame, and mixes a modern context with the nativity stories of Matthew and Luke. Michael Carden (Jottings) worries that this modernizing transformation of the story of Joseph and Mary, which turns it into a love story, makes “the Holy Family … model the ideal bourgeois Protestant family” while “Mary is reduced to a shadow of herself.”

ASOR media committee member, Jim West (Zwinglius Redivivus) reveals a new page on The Bible and Interpretation which announces reviews of TV programs and films featuring the Bible or ancient Near East. The page is available here, and already includes links to the NOVA special “Quest for King Solomon’s mines” (links which return you back to the uncanny Jim West, here and here).

S. Brent Plate (The Revealer) discovers a manga called Seinto oniisan – which is about the lives of Jesus and Buddha, “who take a vacation from otherworldly life to shack up together in the Tokyo suburb, Nachikawa.”

Frank Schaeffer discusses Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind series, Evangelicals, Republicans, the Tea Party, and Revelation, and the effects produced by their self-image as “righteous outsiders.”

Søren Holst (Pergament) observes biblical language in contemporary Danish pop music, including references to 1 Corinthians 15.

Horace Jeffery Hodges (Gypsy Scholar) traces the metaphor of all-devouring death from English 16th/17th-century poet John Donne back to the devouring of death itself in 1 Corinthians 15 and Isaiah 25, while making mention of the devouring Satan of 1 Peter 5.8. The metaphor of devouring Death also makes appearances at Ugarit (ca. 1200 BCE), where Mōtu’s (Death’s) hungry mouth is portrayed as the entrance to the netherworld (KTU 1.5 ii 2ff (“the Ba’al Cycle”, tablet 5, column 2, lines 2 and following)), and in Egyptian iconography, where the part-crocodile Ammut is portrayed as devouring the unworthy dead.

Mark Goodacre (NT Blog) notifies us that the latest Journal for the Study of the New Testament (Dec 2010) features a special issue on Wirkungsgeschichte / Reception History.

Humor and Gossip

Turn Off The Sun

The genuine Robert Cargill (Excavator) reports that Raphael Golb got 6 months jail and 5 years probation “after being found guilty on September 30, 2010 of 2 felony and 28 misdemeanor counts of identity theft, criminal impersonation, forgery, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer.” Jim West (Zwinglius Redivivus) notes a good summary of the whole Golbian debacle in The Jewish Journal.

There was panic on the streets of Birmingham when Turn Off The Sun announced that one-time biblioblogger Helen Ingram (The Omega Course, The Geek Muse) was joining this alternative rock band. You can download the songs from their EP, Montesa, on Facebook. BTW: that’s not her on the cover, but a random Spaniard.

Deane Galbraith (Religion Bulletin) announces that nominations are open for The Worst Book Cover in Religious Publishing Awards 2010, and reveals three nominations already received. The challenge is on!

Robert J. Myles (Jesus the Bum) notes that a new journal, The International Journal for Kimean Studies has issued a call for the submission of papers about the work of Heerak Christian Kim for the journal’s first edition in early 2011. H.C. Kim’s unique body of work on all aspects of biblical scholarship, as well as his poetry and other fiction, can be found on Amazon.

Roland Boer (Stalin’s Moustache) provides an English translation of the name of famed New Testament professor, “Ernst Knauf Käsemann.” It turns out his name roughly translates as ”the Grave Knobcheese Man.”

PraiseMoves zayenScott Bailey (Scotteriology) discovers a work-out book and DVD which are based on stretching your body into imitations of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. It’s called PraiseMoves Alphabetics. And you can even work out to the letters of the Lord’s Prayer in … no, not Aramaic … Hebrew! Intended for Christians who would like to do Yoga, but consider it may well be of the Devil. Ludicrous.

Jim West’s hand trembled as he snapped this photograph of William Dever at ASOR.

Roland Boer (Stalin’s Moustache) discovers, and provides photographic evidence for, the real target of recent student protests in London: John Milbank. On a more serious note, Remy Low (Artisans of a New Humanity) reports Slavoj Žižek’s reaction to the violence of the student protests: “People say you could have delivered the same message without violence. Fuck them! Of course you can deliver the message. But nobody would hear the message.” On a more ludicrous note, check out Milbank’s latest diatribe on sex, and then have a look at Sonja’s dissection of it (at Women in Theology): “I’m starting to feel like Milbank is almost a caricature of himself. If you asked all the post-colonial theorists to get together and design a character who embodied everything they were critiquing, would it not be Milbank?”

One of the editors of the Jewish Study Bible confesses on his home page that he enjoys a scandalous and outrageous hobby: “I have a variety of hobbies, including origami.”

Doug Chaplin (Clayboy) shares an Armstrong and Miller skit about vampires attending the Alpha Course.

Simon Holloway (Davar Akher) shares an animation feauring “two cartoon bears arguing about whether or not the biblical patriarchs observed all of the mitzvot of the Torah.”

Those hard-drinking folk at Eisenbrauns no sooner received their zany new beer mugs, imprinted with The Drinking Party of ‘Ilu (KTU 1.114; RS 24.258), than they were drinking themselves under the table with a very dangerous beverage they called a “root beer float.” JPS (Idle Musings of a Bookseller) has photos of the marzēaḥ mayhem which ensued at the Eisenbrauns premises.

Jim Getz (Ketuvim) shares a cartoon which explains the origins of the universe. He obviously didn’t find this at any of the ETS conference stands.

Biblioblog Top 30

Because quality not quantity is the only proper criterion of a good blog, here are the top 30 biblioblogs which I recommend are worth reading for November 2010:

  1. Jim Davila – PaleoJudaica
  2. Loren Rosson – The Busybody
  3. Mark Goodacre - NT Blog / NT Pod
  4. Robert Cargill – Excavator
  5. Roland Boer – Stalin’s Moustache
  6. Chris Brady – Targuman
  7. James McGrath – Exploring Our Matrix
  8. Andrew Cowan, Collin Hansen, Justin Taylor - The Gospel Coalition
  9. Peter Head, Tommy Wasserman, Mike Holmes - Evangelical Textual Criticism
  10. John Hobbins – Ancient Hebrew Poetry
  11. Tsalampouni Ekaterini – Ιστολόγιο βιβλικών σπουδών / Biblical Studies Blog
  12. J.R. Daniel Kirk – Storied Theology
  13. Jim West – Zwinglius Redivivus
  14. Antonio Lombatti – Pseudoscienze cristiane antiche e medievali
  15. Rebecca Lesses – Mystical Politics
  16. Duane Smith – Abnormal Interests
  17. Michael Bird – Ευαγγελιον
  18. Phillip Long – Reading Acts
  19. Brian LePort, Robert Jiminez, JohnDave Medina - Near Emmaus
  20. Marc Cortez – Scientia et Sapientia
  21. Daniel O. McClellan – Daniel O. McClellan
  22. Mark Hoffman – Biblical Studies and Technological Tools
  23. Larry Hurtado – Larry Hurtado’s Blog
  24. Tim Bulkeley – SansBlogue / 5-Minute Bible
  25. Douglas Mangum - Biblia Hebraica et Graeca
  26. Gavin Rumney – Otagosh
  27. Michael Barber – The Sacred Page
  28. Department of Biblical Studies, University of Sheffield - Sheffield Biblical Studies
  29. Sonja – Women in Theology
  30. Airton José da Silva – Observatório Bíblico

Next month’s Biblical Studies Carnival (Dec 2010) will be hosted by Joseph Kelly at כל האדם (Kol ha-’adam).

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59 Responses to Biblical Studies Carnival נז (November 2010)

  1. What a wonderful carnival! Thanks for doing this!

  2. Wow, great carnival. Surely one of the most comprehensive ever. Good job!

  3. Pingback: The Biblical Studies Carnival (November 2010) is impressive « scientia et sapientia

  4. I second that ‘wow’! Amazing stuff. Tino pai! Can’t wait till the paperback edition comes out…

    I can’t help but notice that your concluding list has to be the only one where Jim West scores as low as thirteen. (I think I’ll claim that my rating as 26 means I’m twice as good.)

  5. Joe Weaks says:

    Wow, I’m exhausted. That was superb. Thank you for such a wonderful contribution.

    (So good, that I didn’t even mind my name being spelled wrong.)

  6. Pingback: Digging Digitally » Blogger and Online Publication Session at the SBL Annual Meeting

  7. Pingback: Two misunderstandings in biblical studies: the nature of “scepticism” and “evidence” « Vridar

  8. Mark D. Letteney says:

    By far the most comprehensive Carnival in recent history, and possibly ever! Thanks for all the work you put into this – it is much appreciated!

  9. Mike K says:

    Wow, thanks for all the hard work gathering all these links and brilliant commentary, this is one of the best carnivals I have ever seen.

  10. Pingback: The Biblical Studies Carnival (November 2010) | eChurch Christian Blog

  11. Superb job, Deane. Easily the best carnival I’ve seen in a long time.

  12. Jim says:

    don’t take this the wrong way, but i really expected nothing less than the virtual perfection you’ve provided. you have to host again. pick a month – any month.

  13. This was impressive… I’m exhausted just thinking of the amount of work this represents!

  14. Pingback: The Upcoming Biblical Studies Carnival LVIII « כל־האדם

  15. Pingback: November 2010 Biblical Studies Carnival | Dr. Platypus

  16. John Byron says:

    Wow! You have set the bar high, but much appreciated!

  17. Sonja says:

    Hi Dean, thanks for the shout out about my post on the Pope’s new book over at Women In Theology. One correction, though: Those egregious comments about the evidence for the historical Jesus were made by the guy interviewing the Pope, Peter Seewald, and not by the Pope himself.

  18. This was the best carnival ever! Great job!

  19. Gosh – exhausting just to read this, and scary to think about the amount of work that went into it. Fantastic job – just catching up on your links will keep me busy till Christmas.

  20. Pingback: Biblical Studies Carnival 57 is up! « συνεσταύρωμαι: living the crucified life

  21. Pingback: Biblical Studies Carnival נז (November 2010) | Unsettled Christianity

  22. Thanks for an incredibly (almost literally) comprehensive carnival! I hope all that hard work really gets rewarded in quantity (as well as quality) of visitors :) Thanks too for mentioning my podcast, which often seems to be overlooked.

  23. Outstanding job! I hope you’re up to doing it again sometime.

  24. Just want to add my voice to the chorus: well done!

  25. Rod says:

    Best carnival to date. Couldn’t stop laughing at the first paragraph.

  26. Pingback: Best Biblical Studies Carnival So Far: #57 | Political Jesus

  27. Pingback: November Biblioblog Rankings and Biblical Studies Carnival « Near Emmaus

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  29. Pingback: Biblical Studies Carnival 11/2010 « Arne Berge

  30. Thanks for the nice job and for including my blog in the list of the Biblioblog Top 30

  31. that is just ridonkulous!
    we’re not worthy :-)

  32. Doesn’t this fall under Bibilio-encyclopedio-blogging category? :-)

  33. Thank you for the kind words and the notice of my various blog posts!

  34. Pingback: Biblical Studies Carnival and Biblioblogs Top 50 | Participatory Bible Study Blog

  35. Pingback: Awilum.com » One Heck of a Carnival

  36. Menachem Mendel says:

    Great job.

  37. Wow… Thanks for this most excellent carnival!

  38. Re: “isn’t there something deeply farcical in debating gender equality at the level of a Bible translator’s word choices, when the content of what is being translated – the Bible – overwhelmingly upholds patriarchal, hierarchical and androcentric attitudes?”

    As one who has thought a lot about the methodology of “gender-sensitive” translation, I will reply that the answer is no. That is, provided that a translation is supposed to reflect how a text expresses its points. An utterance’s wording and its message are two different (albeit overlapping) things. If a text uses gender-nonexclusive Hebrew wording to convey “patriarchal, hierarchical and androcentric attitudes” (as, arguably, the Hebrew Bible often does), then a rendering into another language are surely justified in reflecting that aspect of the Hebrew word choice.

    Indeed, I would say that translators have the responsibility to do so. Otherwise the translation misrepresents the source text as being more male-oriented in its wording than it actually is.

    P.S. Thanks for this post. I learned a lot from it — and bookmarked many of the linked sites.

    • Deane Galbraith says:

      A good point in itself, thanks David.

      However, for the receiver as not merely a reader but also as a user of a text, does the energy of the debate over biblical gender tend to mask these more substantive issues? That is, is there an effect of ‘something is being done about the problem’ which is in reality superficial? Is such a thing not ‘farce’?

      • Admittedly there is a lot of smoke, but truly there is also fire. The fire arises from the numerous biblical scholars who misconstrue Hebrew grammatical masculine inflections in general, and masculine human nouns in particular: they insist that it means that only men are in view, or that the biblical authors were employing a male model as a representative human being. In my view, a carefully prepared gender-sensitive translation helps to “smoke out” and counter such linguistic nonsense.

        In short, behind the translation controversies are some real issues not only over translation per se, but also over what the Hebrew actually means.

  39. Pingback: Reflections on SBL 2010: Planning and Strategy | kata ta biblia

  40. Tommy Wasserman says:

    Fantastic! Best carnival so far.

  41. I hope you don’t mind if I take a comment section on the carnival to let readers know my feed has changed.

    The deinde blog feed is now http://feeds.feedburner.com/DeindeBlog

  42. Brooke says:

    Move to vote for Carnival Most High!
    Seconded.
    Nominate this carnival.
    Seconded.
    Move to close nominations.
    Seconded.
    All who vote for this carnival as Carnival Most High say Aye.
    Aye.
    Opposed?
    *somewhere, a dog barks.*
    This carnival is elected Carnival Most High!
    Move to retire category “Carnival Most High.”
    Seconded.
    All in favor?
    Aye.
    Opposed?
    *somewhere, a beat cop coughs.*
    Category “Carnival Most High” retired. This carnival enjoys title in perpetuity.

    (It’ll be so great to follow the links after grading is complete. Say about January 2.)

  43. Pingback: Linguistics and Exegesis – a Link | Participatory Bible Study Blog | Christian Outreach

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