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Friday, May 1, 2015

April 2015 Biblioblog Carnival

Welcome! Welcome to the traveling Biblioblog Carnival, the greatest collection of biblical studies related blog posts this side of Des Moines. We have scholars and musicians, freaks, and geeks galore We've got respected scholars, talented amateurs and men in tights.   We searched the internets all through the month of April to find interesting and compelling articles related to the field of biblical studies.  So come on in; see the sights. We've got angels. We've got demons. And we've got Joel Watts. (We don't know what to do with him, but we've got him.)  Come on in. Eat some food on a stick Play the games on the Midway and win an over-sized stuffed animal for your date. Everyone goes home a winner. There's something here for everyone -something to delight, mystify, tickle, horrify, and amuse you. If we fail to deliver all this and more, we'll gladly return your full ticket price.

Enjoy the show.

Hebrew Bible / Old Testament

The Serpent in the Garden of Eden and its Background  The serpent in the Garden of Eden is popularly equated with the Devil. However, modern scholars agree that this was a later identification and not the original meaning, but there is no consensus as to what the original background of the serpent was. This brief article critiques a number of the proposals that have been made and suggests a possible background for the serpent. More generally it also discusses other questions of interpretation that have arisen in connection with the serpent in Genesis 3, in particular the suggestion that the serpent should be viewed more positively than has been customary and questions associated with the so-called Protoevangelium in Genesis 3:15.

Did the Exodus Happen? Last week the Wall Street Journal published an article (by Joshua Berman) suggesting the biblical exodus might have its root in an historical event. This isn’t exactly new, but what interested me was the primary reason given— the biblical text seems to be appropriating some Ramesses II propaganda (discovered early in the 20th century) to make a theological point.

Holy Blessings and Cursings  Pardon my language, but some words make me see differently. Deuteronomy 28 is not about God cursing the people, it's about the people denying God as revealed to them in the words of Moses.

Illustrating The Benefits of Pentateuchal Literary Criticism: The David and Goliath Story   The two different versions of the David and Goliath story provide empirical evidence of what literary criticism has argued about the development of the Pentateuch. 1 Samuel 16-18 is, then, a good place to start in explaining what Pentateuchal literary criticism seeks to achieve.

Job the Nazi Warrior   In my article, “History of Consequences: The Case of Gregory’s Moralia in Iob” (Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel 1 [2012] 368-87), I traced a tradition of portraying Job as a warrior, indeed a soldier of Christ. To Gregory the Great, Job was insisting that “life on earth is a trial/temptation” (so the Old Latin of Job 7:1) and that “life on earth is warfare” (so Job 7:1 according to the Vulgate). For Gregory, it is precisely through a trial that is also warfare that one attains spiritual maturity—that is, suffering is salutary for it leads one to maturity. One of the unintended consequences of that interpretation is that this particular notion of the “soldier of Christ” served crusader propaganda.

Who Was the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 52:13-53:12?   But then I started wondering: Who is the suffering servant in Isaiah’s narrative? What is his function in the immediate context of the prophecy? This is some way outside my modest area of expertise, so you should follow me warily, but I want to put forward a line of interpretation that is new to me at least. No doubt it has been suggested before, but I haven’t found it in the limited resources available to me at the moment. I’m aware of some difficulties that would need addressing, but nothing that seems fatal. Take it or leave it.

Did God “Seduce” Jeremiah?  My earlier podcast: The last Confession of Jeremiah: Jeremiah 20: Yahweh seduces his prophet I simply assumed the translation seduce” for patah But “seduce” is not a translation favoured by English translations. I dealt with this issue briefly in a blog post: Did Yahweh seduce Jeremiah? 

Brian Bibb’s Lecture on Biblical Translation  No one knows what tomorrow holds. What if Bryan slips a cog and goes all Pat Robertson or Joel Osteen up in here? Come to think of it, maybe you better listen to him while you can, before he snaps.

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Christian Bible / New Testament 
Jezebel, A Great-Grandmother of Jesus  The family tree of Jesus contains many known and unknown people. All of them have something to contribute to the bloodline of the son of Mary. The women Matthew mentioned in his genealogies and the ones he failed to mention reveal the inclusive nature of God’s plan for humanity. The indirect inclusion of Athaliah, whom the Chronicler calls “that wicked woman” (2 Chronicles 24:7), and Jezebel, whom Jehu called a whore and a witch (2 Kings 9:22), also reveals that Jesus is the Messiah for all people.

Scratching the Plural Out of Matthew 6:5  This is a story about how difficult it can be to get the data right even before starting to ponder the original wording of a text.

A Parable in Hesiod, Plato, Jesus, and the Rabbis It makes one wonder whether Hesiod’s parable became (or already was) proverbial, being taken up and adapted in all sorts of contexts.

Did Luke Know and Use Matthew? The Parable of the Talents /Pounds as a Test Case  The Synoptic Problem is an endlessly fascinating puzzle. Scholars favoured the simplicity and explanatory power of Q for over a century, but a new paradigm might be around the corner.

Petra von Gemünden on Affekte in the Synoptic Gospels  Today’s post will look at a model sentence from Petra von Gemünden‘s essay “Affekte in den synoptischen Evangelien. Die Bedeutung der literarischen Gattung für die Darstellung von Zorn, Begierde, Furcht/Angst und Neid” [Affects in the Synoptic Gospels: The Significance of the Literary Genre for the Presentation of Anger, Lust, Fear/Angst and Envy]. Pages 255-284 in Jesus – Gestalt und Gestaltungen: Rezeptionen des Galiläers in Wissenschaft, Kirche und Gesellschaft. Festschrift für Gerd Theißen zum 70. Geburtstag. Edited by Petra von Gemünden, David Horrell and Max Küchler. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2013.

 Paul and the Women of Corinth In her new (and I predict significant) book (Women and Worship at Corinth), Lucy Peppiatt presents a reasonable case that women passages in 1 Corinthians, when read through the lens of performance and rhetoric and Pauline theology elsewhere, reveal quotations of opponents and diatribe against those lines. (The book is endorsed in a foreword by Douglas Campbell who has famously developed the case for “speech in character” as well as diatribe in Romans.) Today I want to post her conclusions, encourage you to purchase this book, and then we can dip into some specifics down the road.

Paul and Stoicism I submit that we have a good deal of the basic view of what a “spirit” is that Paul seems to draw upon and develop. You didn’t have to be (or be influenced by) a Stoic to imagine that a “spirit” was some kind of highly refined “material” or reality.

The Bible 
Product Placement Bible It is an attempt to show what the insertion of advertising looks like when taken too far, by doing so in the Bible.

Parts of the Bible Are Missing. What Does That Mean for Christians? All this textual uncertainty generates serious questions for the interpreter who reads the Bible as an infallible text.

Tennessee House Vote Bible as Official State Book  No. no. wait. Tennessee Senate Kills Bill To Make Bible Official State Book 

The Scandal of a Male Bible The Bible is a male book, written by men, to be read by men. That means that it is permeated by characteristically male values and ideals, some overt, others rarely noticed. Among these values are: the glorification of strength; the valorization of strength in action, which is violence; the approval of killing; the quest for honour; the tendency to misogyny. These embedded values continue to influence Bible readers, often subconsciously. They are most potent when they affect the language of religion, and shape the picture of the Bible’s deity, the God of Christian and Jewish believers. The scandal is twofold: it is that the Bible is deeply compromised by its ubiquitous adherence to specifically male values, and that its masculinity is hardly ever noticed or mentioned, even in our much more egalitarian world.

New Controversy Surrounds Alleged “Jesus Family Tomb”  "There's no evidence at all that Jesus had a son at all, let alone a son called Judah," Goodacre said.

Once More With Feeling – Did the James Ossuary Come out of the Talpiot Tomb? In any case, I am dubious about the whole notion of a ‘chemical fingerprint,' and even if there was a close match of chemical composition, surely the earthquake could have produced the same sort of conditions in a variety of places in and around Jerusalem.

A New Look at Where Jesus Grew Up  For the first time, a first-century home buried underneath a convent in Nazareth has been studied by professional archaeologists, and while they cannot affirm with 100% certainty that this was the home of the Holy Family, what they found sheds light on first-century Jewish life in Galilee.

Why Aegean Archaeology Matters I passionately believe that the Aegean matters because it culturally represents the western-most sphere of ancient Near Eastern influence, which in turn influenced developing European nations. Aegean  seafarers, traders and crafters were engaged in cultural exchange with the east, and ultimately the Aegeans were a major artistic and cultural influence on the Philistines, who were perhaps ethnically related to them. The Philistines, in turn, had a large impact on the Israelites, especially during the period of the Judges and the United Monarchy.

Researcher Casts Doubt on Sea Peoples Theory Until now, an inscription in the Mortuary Temple of Ramses III – Medinet Habu – has been said to be evidence of an invasion by the “sea peoples”. The engraving, dating back to 1180 BCE, became the basis for the much-discussed theory which blamed the invasion for the collapse of the neighboring Levantine kingdoms and the collapse of inter regional exchange. Mr. Millek’s recent findings, however, indicate that the causes for a sharp decline in trade are much more complex and likely to have been related to internal, revolutionary processes of social change and an altered approach to handling resources.

11 Photos from Nimrud Reports indicate that ISIS has destroyed portions of the Assyrian city of Nimrud. Photos from 2008-2010 document some of what may have been lost.

Historical / Unhistorical Jesus
Thomas Jefferson, The Underappreciated Jesus Ideologue  There are perhaps more brilliant polymaths, more complex characters, and weightier influencers in American history. But Jefferson is a near rival no matter the name. Because of his multifaceted legacy, it is often forgotten that Jefferson was keenly interested in reconstructing Jesus: the ethics of Jesus, to be precise.

Are We Ready for a LGBTQIA Jesus?   Now if you're into self-reflection, you might take some inventory by asking whether you were more offended by the phrase "Potentially Queer" or the phrase "White Supremacist." Feel free to process it with your therapist this week.

On the “Historical Jesus”  My suggestion is this: if you are not able to be conversant in all of the aforementioned disciplines then stay away from proffering conclusions that are only supported by one or two marginal authors.

Killing Jesus: A Movie for Progressive Christians …progressive Christians like a low Christology. Given its focus upon historical events, as mentioned above, Killing Jesus downplays the supernatural. There are a few miraculous moments in the movie, but there are also "miracles" of a more human sort. Specifically, the scene with Jesus and the lepers is one of the most beautiful scenes I've ever seen in a Jesus movie. Jesus's healing of the leper isn't supernatural but I think it's miraculous.

What Did Jesus Look Like? Everyone knows what Jesus looks like: he is the most painted figure in
all of western art, recognized everywhere as having long hair and a beard, a long robe with sleeves (often white) and a mantle (often blue).  But what did he really look like, as a man living in Judaea in the 1st century? This subject has long been of interest. I have already written on John the Baptist and his clothing, but not about Jesus. Nevertheless, over the years, numerous television documentaries have asked me for guidance on dramatizing aspects of ancient life. In order to give them clear directions, I gathered information about what Jesus looked like, or rather, what he is said to have worn.

Summation of the Torah – Hillel and Jesus  On another occasion it happened that a certain heathen came before Shammai and said to him, 'Make me a proselyte, on condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot.' Thereupon he [Shammai] repulsed him with the builder's cubit which was in his hand. When he went before Hillel, he said to him, 'What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah, while the rest is the commentary thereof; go and learn it.'

Will the American Jesus Please Listen Up? The grand irony here is, of course, that while America may represent power, Jesus stands for decidedly the opposite. Jesus is the very incarnation of a God who emptied himself of power. The revolution Jesus began centers on a cross, submitting to power instead of subsuming with power. The first followers of Jesus were mobilized from the margins of society, not the ones wielding control.

Jürgen Moltmann 1979 Warfield Lectures on the Trinity  Today I contacted Princeton Theological Seminary about purchasing digital copies of the lectures that Moltmann gave in October 1979 on the Trinity (these lectures form the basis for some of the chapters in The Trinity and the Kingdom), and was advised that these audio files are now offered FREE OF CHARGE.

Early Trinitarian Thought  Here's an audio snippet from this week's class on the Trinity. It's a 20-minute summary of the past few weeks of the course, which have focused on trinitarian theology in the second and third centuries.

The Holy Trilogy I’ll be giving a paper at SBL in November comparing sci-fi canons (with particular focus on Star Wars, given the new direction the franchise is taking) and Biblical canons. And so I was struck when a couple of items came to my attention today, all connected by the use of the phrase “The Holy Trilogy,” an obvious play on the “Holy Trinity.” For many fans, the original three films are sacrosanct. Others think the rejection of the prequels is a blasphemous rebellion against the authority of Emperor Lucas.

Good Friday
Audio Reconstruction of Jesus’ Aramaic Quotation of Psalm 22 “How the heck do you pronounce *that*?” I am asked often enough. “Eh-loy eh-loy llama sab-ach!-thane-y?” And my answer is: You don’t.

Thoughts on the Crucifixion of Jesus  Problematic as all such gender chaos may have been for the Jesus movement, it could not escape the ideologies associated with imperialism, whether they related to gender or class. The tradition in Jesus’ name may have presented him in terms of an alternative family but it could not escape the language of traditional family, with, if anything, the most domineering father figure imaginable.

Holy Saturday
Doubt (A Holy Saturday Reflection) We do a pretty good job remembering Good Friday and celebrating Easter Sunday.But at least in the Protestant Church, we don’t seem to really know what to do with the day in-between: Holy Saturday. Which kind of makes sense if you think about it. We don’t really know what to do with people in the Church who struggle with doubt. We tend to either shove answers down their throats, criticize them for their “weakness,” or ignore their doubt altogether.

Holy Saturday Meditation: The Cross Is the Devil’s Mousetrap St. Augustine once compared the cross of Jesus to a mousetrap--crux muscipula diaboli. "The cross is the devil's mousetrap." This idea strikes modern Christians as alien and strange. Largely because we have lost the Christus Victor frame of the early church. For those new to this blog or these ideas, Christus Victor was the dominant view of the atonement for the first thousand years of the church. It is the view that the Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus was involved in liberating us from our captivity to sin, death, and the Devil.

Resurrection Sunday
Ishtar Vs. Easter: Pick Your Story For argument’s sake, I’m willing to concede that while the meme’s comparison of Ishtar to Easter is problematic, there are some interesting similarities between the goddess Ishtar and the Easter story. But what I find really interesting are the differences.

Cases of Suicide in (Canonical) Scripture While I hate making definitive statements about “the bible,” there is no explicit condemnation of self-inflicted killing in Scripture. Rather, we have plenty of examples that seem to match instances found in other cultures. Honor. Remorse. Heroism.

Suicide in Jewish and Roman Thought  Suicide was such a commonplace sight in Rome it gave rise to a concept, Romana mors, complete with images of dramatic suicides serving as the evening’s entertainment. The act of taking one’s own life became almost a standard norm but it was not associated with depression. Rather that the stark contrast offered by depression or a joy to die, the reality was more often an overreaction to events. Romans took their own life due to certain “signs,” losses in war, even criminal charges. Added to this is the developed ritual and even stylistic etiquette Romans used. At one point, suicides become a public event, a transformation prompting parodies at Nero’s court.

Super Heroes
Confusing Jesus with Daredevil The huge problem with all this for Christians is that our compliance in such a model of justice is terribly removed from the teachings of Christ. It’s sinful. Jesus was certainly focused on living justly and righteously, both in terms of Jewish law and in ways deeper than the law, into what he called the fulfillment of the law. But we like to imagine Jesus as the masked crusader in the night, doling out eternal punishment that we cannot. Most of us have been comforted at one time or another by the thought, “Well, they’ll get theirs in the end.” Many Christians support this model in our civil judicial system. The death penalty is the clearest example. Our system executes, it crucifies, and there are Christians who justify this type of retributive justice. But to do so, you have to ignore some pretty key teachings of Christ. 

Raging Devil: Daredevil and the Failure of Imagination
They fail to remember the ways in which they have hurt (or been hurt by) others and how these experiences might shape them moving forward.

See, There Were these Two Guys in a Lunatic Asylum…  And that’s what got me thinking about The Killing Joke — one of my favorite Batman stories, by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland in 1988. The ending of that story is still hotly disputed. And, like all stories, its meaning depends on how it ends. The argument over how this story ends is, in other words, something like an eschatological debate.

Batman Vs Superman = Calvin Vs Wesley Why couldn’t Superman just end it all, take over the planet and restore order? If you have ever read Red Son, then you know why. Because, the human spirit is ended. Superman has become very much the answer, even via pop culture, to the question of why doesn’t God just end evil. Because, we couldn’t then be human. Our human experience would be meaningless. Salvation is meaningless if we aren’t human.

The Politics and Theology of Superman It seems as though Superman ought to be able to save anyone — perhaps even everyone. And yet he doesn’t. Why not? Is it simply that Superman doesn’t care about everyone (that he is not really good)? Or is it that he isn’t really all-powerful after all?

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Angels / Demons
Zodiac Calendars and Angelic Teaching in the Dead Sea Scrolls An understanding of astronomy and mathematics ensured that people prayed at the correct time with the angels, a theme in several of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The implication of this research is that the zodiac calendar was extremely important in Second Temple Judaism and probably in early Christianity. Had this continuous copying not taken place by Christians, we would not have had an ancient literary context in which to interpret these remarkable mathematical texts from Qumran.

The Origin of Evil Spirits in Early Jewish Literature The topic of evil spirits is one that is often approached with some skepticism by scholars and non-scholars alike. It is perhaps in part due to the bizarre and far fetched features that are granted the topic in the world of fiction novels and the “big screen”. Through the course of the history of biblical interpretation, it is clear that some, particularly in the modern era, have steered away from the topic due to the supernatural element involved with the alleged reality of these spiritual beings. As has been the case with other supernatural elements of the biblical text (e.g. the miracles of Jesus, the exorcisms performed by Jesus, or even the baptism of the Holy Spirit), many have refused to accept the historicity of the “demonic” events in the Jewish Scriptures and the New Testament. However, in the biblical and post-biblical periods of Israel and the later world of early Christianity, it appears the topic of the “demonic” was one of grave concern to a majority of those who held to certain aspects of a Jewish or Jewish-Christian worldview.

The Midway

Pederasty in Rome For a lot of very good reasons, we often talk about the “Greco-Roman” world, or “Greco-Roman” culture. The culture of Rome, which came after Greece, did in fact mimic much of its forebear, so the designation “Greco-Roman” is generally a good one. In this case, however, it gets us into trouble. According to Craig Williams’s seminal study, Roman Homosexuality (where most of the data from this post is coming from), the practice of pederasty was one which was celebrated by the Greeks but was stuprum (disgraceful, illicit) to the Romans.

Did Temple Prostitution Exist?   Where does all this leave us? 1) We need to be extremely careful about any arguments we build on the idea that the ancients practiced temple prostitution. 2) It is unlikely that temple prostitution was a known reality across the Mediterranean. 3) The evidence we do have for any such activity appears to point more in the direction of women providing such services, if ever they were provided, than men (although the latter is not impossible).

Mary in the Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah 
This is another post about the pseudepigraphical Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah, which is dated in the Charlesworth Pseudepigrapha to the second century B.C.E. to the fourth century C.E.  My focus today is on what the book says about Mary the mother of Jesus.  The relevant passage is 11:1-16.

Regarding Papias and the Oral Fixation  t is Papias that cuts the Gordian Knot by telling us that what we find in Mark’s Gospel is something that is close to the oral world of the church than is, for instance, Matthew’s Gospel; far from being opposed to the work of Kelber, Dunn, and others, Papias provides much-needed evidentiary confirmation of what otherwise would remain but an interesting proposal. It does so however by leading us to the conclusion that either the literary remains represent fairly well the form and content of the oral tradition or we can never know much about the oral tradition at all. Thus it is alas a Pyrrhic victory, and one that sends us back to the actual data in front of us, namely the gospel texts.

Riots and the Kingdom of God  “But not during the festival, or else there might be a riot.” Riot avoidance is the concern of power. Riot avoidance forms part of the strategy of how injustice is deployed. Riot avoidance is the way of freedom for the oppressor and the murderer.

Did Affluence Spur the Rise of Modern Religions?  The authors investigated variables relating to political complexity and living standards. Affluence emerged as a major force in the rise of moral religion, in particular, access to energy. Across cultures moral religions abruptly emerged when members of a population could reliably source 20,000 calories of energy a day, including food (for humans and livestock), fuel and raw materials.

A New Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L’Engle, the author of A Wrinkle in Time, resisted labels. Her books weren’t for children, she said. They were for people. Devoted to religious study, she bristled when called a Christian writer. And though some of her books had political themes, she wasn’t known to write overtly about politics. That is, until her granddaughter, Charlotte Jones Voiklis, came across an unknown three-page passage that was cut before publication.

The Freak Show

Kent Hovind: An Atheist’s Worst Nightmare This documentary is about Pastor Kent Hovind: An Atheist’s Worst Nightmare.

Blood Moon Abomination: Why Christians Shouldn’t Buy What Hagee isSelling / Benjamin Corey  So, here’s the reader’s digest of the Blood Moon nonsense: Hagee’s theory is based on absolutely bad theology, and the entire practice of trying to tell the future by looking to celestial  bodies is forbidden. That means the best case scenario for Hagee is that he’s a false prophet, and the worst is that he’s possessed by an evil spirit. The rest of us? My advice is to not pay it any attention, and certainly don’t spend any money on the book.

Church Signs with Movable Letters Should Be Outlawed (pt.25)  I've heard of some churches "eating pastors alive," but I'd rather not know how the sausage gets made.

CERN Large Hydron Collider: Science or Portal to Hell Allowing Access to Nephilim? YOU Be the Judge  In an interview with Paul Begley, Mike from around the world claims that CERN has opened up portals to Hell through which Nephilim are now manifesting.

Creationists Are Seriously Trying to Figure Out Adam and Eve’s Skin Color   The idea is that the Earth is only 6,000 years old and you have to find some way of explaining the diversity of skin color within that time… which to them means either Adam or Eve had to be super-duper-black.

Hate preacher Steven Anderson mock Buddhists, bursts into song like a lunatic.

Don't tell this pastor he can’t have a private jet “He has a dream” It’s just not MLK’s dream

Mega-Church Bus! Forget about the traditional church van or modified school bus!  Show your community how blessed your ministry has become with the new Mega-Church bus.

Calendar of Upcoming Biblioblog Carnivals:
May 2015 (June 1) - Dr. Claude Mariottini – Professor of Old Testament   
June 2015 (July 1) - William A. Ross -University of Cambridge - Doctoral Student
July 2015 (August 1) - Lindsay Kennedy, - My Digital Seminary 

And Philip Long, who coordinates these carnivals, is always looking for bloggers willing to host the carnival.  Contact him if you’re interested.


Jeff Carter's books on Goodreads
Muted Hosannas Muted Hosannas
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