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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Biblioblog Carnival - May 2017

Welcome, welcome welcome to the Biblioblog Carnival for May 2017, a round up of, if not the best of biblical studies on the world wide web of information, then at least the stuff I thought was interesting. Here at the carnival there are rides and games of chance, performers and daredevils (and regular devils, too). The bearded woman's here (she's Calvanist, obviously). There are thrills and spills and delights around every new corner. Take your time. Stroll down the midway and enjoy the sights.


Four Completely Different Versions of the Story of Moses – by Mark Oliver at Ancient Origins: 

The story of Moses doesn’t just show up in the Bible. In the ancient world, nearly every culture had their own version of what happened. The Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans all had their own way of explaining why thousands of people left Egypt to live in Jerusalem. The Moses you know, who performed miracles and freed the Jewish slaves from Egypt, is just one version of the story. There are others – and they paint a completely different picture from the one you’ve heard

Our discussion is all about the mystery of Israel’s origins. And it is a mystery. The exodus and conquest of Canaan (Exodus through Joshua) are central to Israel’s identity, and are certainly informed by old traditions and authentic historical memory—but they not historical accounts in the modern sense. How and when, historically speaking, Israel stepped out onto the world stage is a huge mystery, though we have some clues to piece together a compelling picture.

Why 1st and 2nd Kings? By Lester Grabbe:

…the first story in 1 Kings has many incredible elements. This did not incline me to reject the existence of Solomon as a historical person (as it did some), but it suggested that much of what we find in the Bible about Solomon is not history.

On the Characteristics of Hebrew Poetry -  by Bob MacDonald at Dust 

Saying this in non-musical language is nearly impossible. My overall thesis is that the use of the accents defines poetic structure (and prose also) beyond the scope of the line and beyond the scope of the verse. As I have noted elsewhere, this thesis contradicts claims made over the past 1000 years in the literature on the accents, notably from Wickes in his treatises from the 19th century. Two excellent examples are Psalm 96, where the accents define the scope of the stanzas so clearly, and from the prose books, the lament of David over the death of Saul and Jonathan. I can only illustrate these with the music, which to a musician is so much clearer than any list of accents would tell us.

Thus, Jewish priestly education inherited from the Babylonian lexical lists some numerical schemes based on the sexagesimal counting system (i.e., a numerical system with sixty as its base), and the Levitical author presented it as part of priestly knowledge. Once Levi learns how to prepare the holocaust offering and accompanying meal offering together with the fraction notations (14–61), then in his wisdom poem (82–98) he instructs his children/students not to neglect the study of scribal craft (88, 90, 98). The priestly education system is characterized as belonging to the scribal type of knowledge, which indicates a strong Babylonian background and a clear link with the pseudepigraphic book of 1 Enoch

The Scope and Shape of the Watchers Myth in Antiquity by Daniel Machiela at Ancient Jew Review

In this volume of collected articles—most of them published previously in a variety of scholarly venues, though updated here—Loren Stuckenbruck of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, takes the reader on a detailed exploration of the birth and early history of this legend as attested in ancient Judaism and earliest Christianity. There are few, if any, as capable of guiding this tour, and though these individual studies were not originally intended to be read as part of a comprehensive account, readers of this book will come away with a rich understanding of the myth of the fallen, rebellious angels and their offspring as understood in ancient Judaism and Christianity.

Jesus Never Said by Scott Fritzsche  at Unsettled Christianity:

An argument from silence is a rhetorical device designed to be a convincing argument in a simple and straight forward way. It often, on the surface, is. There are numerous inherent flaws in an argument form silence however. This becomes important in theology as arguments from silence are, and have been, used to try and form persuasive arguments as well as having become part of the basis for theological stances.

“E.P. Sanders on Paul’s Life, Letters, and Thought” by Michael F. Bird – at Euangelion:

I love this line on Galatians: “The best way to comprehend Galatians is to read it out aloud, shouting in an angry voice at the appropriate points” (475).

Review: Sacrificial Giving in Philippians – by Ken Schneck at Common Denominator:

The chapter begins with a very brief run through the rhetorical structure of Philippians with a view to possible sacrificial metaphors. Patterson's claim is that these sacrificial metaphors are more than "rhetorical flourishes" but are "a tool of active thought" (113). She wishes to show that "the shelamim sacrifices (sacrifices of thanksgiving) constitute a pattern of offering that Paul applies metaphorically and imaginatively as a guide for the actions of the Philippians" (86).

And the Sea Will Be No More – at Jesus Creed  

In some discussions of a Christian view of creation much has been made of the phrase “it was good” in Genesis 1 repeated in verses 3,9,12,18,21. In verse 31 we have the summary: God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. One can, of course, take the position that the image of the sea as chaos and the denizens of the deep as creatures of terror are a result of the fall. Prior to Genesis 3 they were “good” in an idyllic sense. If there had been no fall, they’d be good and tame yet. But we still have a problem in scripture – at least if we take a literal approach as preferred and assume a motif of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. Revelation does not really depict a restoration of an idyllic primeval garden or the reestablished perfect creation of Genesis 1.

Kevin McKissick, M.Div student at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, reviews The Apostle Paul and the Christian Life, edited by Scot McKnight and Joseph B. Modica.

Wait. What? … We don’t need to blacken Simon’s character, but it’s totally cool to call the woman a whore even if there’s no evidence of it in the text? We can construct an entire narrative around her life as a prostitute, and her expensive oil that could only have been purchased through her elicit [sic] activity, but let’s make sure we don’t disparage the man in the room — the one who is totally missing the message of Jesus, who is over there looking down on this woman in his heart, playing at the pretense of hospitality with no real love behind it, withholding the lavishness of his love and worship while this woman lets it all out?

How Did the Early Church Read the Bible? -  Scott McKnight at Jesus Creed:

Here’s the big picture: Those educated today in typical schools learn to think in what is called the historical-critical method. That is, students in theology and Bible are taught to think like a historian, to think critically over against the received traditions, and to base their theology on the evidence (the Bible). The goal, then, is to determine the intent of the author. They are taught not so much to say What does God say in Matthew 5:17-20 but instead, What does the author of Matthew intend to communicate with this text in his historical (Jewish) context?

That form of interpretation is not 1st Century and derives from developments following the Renaissance and the Enlightenment and, ironically enough, the interplay of tradition and history in the orthodox-fundamentalist vs. the who-cares-about-the-orthodox and modernist stream of thinking.
Jesus, the apostles and the early church did not read the Bible in the historical-critical method.

The Date of Thomas – by Jonathan Bernier at Critical Realism and the New Testament:

Now, let me be clear: I'm not arguing that Thomas' Gospel should be dated c. 60. The above is a hypothesis, one which at this point I neither affirm nor reject. I have not yet thought through the issue sufficiently to reach a final judgment. But one who would undertake to argue that many of the texts of the New Testament canon are notably earlier than typically supposed cannot in principle exclude the possibility that the same is the case for some of the New Testament apocrypha. It is thus incumbent upon me to explore such possibilities, considering and vetting hypotheses for such earlier dates. Any other procedure would run the risk of special pleading.

The Talmud’s Hot Tub Time Machine by Adam Kirsch at Tabletmag 

What the Gemara does not point out, but struck me as remarkable, is that the Torah portion that lays out the rule for levirate marriage comes in Deuteronomy, while the story of Zelophehad’s daughters is in Numbers, which of course precedes Deuteronomy in the Five Books of Moses. In other words, the rabbis envision Moses possessing a complete Torah while the events the Torah recounts are still taking place. While he is wandering the wilderness, in Numbers, he can consult the law code he will not actually deliver to the Israelites until years later, in Deuteronomy.

The Days of Tribulation in the Apocalypse of Elijah – by Phil Long at Reading Acts 

The Apocalypse of Elijah is not strictly speaking an apocalypse. It is strongly influenced by the book of Revelation, especially 11:1-12 (the appearance of two witnesses in Jerusalem). There are dozens of possible ways to interpret the two witnesses, from literal people (Elijah and Moses, Elijah and Enoch) to figurative (the Old and New Testament, two volcanoes, etc.) The book does not contain any of the sorts of things we expect in a true apocalypse: heavenly journeys, thinly veiled reviews of history, revelation of mysterious secret knowledge, or angelic guides. Coptic translations of a Greek original of the Apocalypse date to the fourth century. The book is clearly dependent on Revelation and appears to quote 1 John 2:18. A date of the mid-second century seems probable (OTP 1:730). If the book was a Christian re-working of a Jewish original, then some material may be still older (There is a Hebrew Apocalypse of Elijah which may stand in the background of the book, but no one has systematically studied the possibility of a Hebrew to Greek to Coptic translation). The book may reflect an Egyptian Christianity, but this is far from clear.


Reports came last week that President Donald Trump would avoid visiting the ancient site of Masada in the Judaean desert during his trip to the Middle East because his helicopter was not allowed to land on the sacred ground there. Here is why the site is important and why President Trump should have walked or taken the cable car to the top--just like everyone else.

Numismatic Report – by David Hendin – at The Ancient Near East Today:

Readers of Israeli newspapers and archaeology blogs for the last few years have seen a notable uptick in the number of coin finds reported by “good Samaritans” (both Israelis and tourists) and turned into the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), as well as some newsworthy numismatic finds at licensed excavations. This led The Ancient Near East Today to ask me to look into the finds and their importance, as well as other numismatic discoveries in or related to Israel. I recently returned from Israel, where I talked with numismatic scholars, officials of the Israel Antiquities Authority, licensed antiquity dealers, and collectors. Here is my report.

Two Recent Books on Coins – Larry Hurdato:

In light of the recent day-session on “Coins and the Bible” here, I want to note two recent books.  Coins were a regular medium for kings and administrators to promote themselves and their regimes.  Coins were also sometimes minted to celebrate military victories.  Coinage is one important part of the “material culture” of the ancient world.  The metals used, the use of images and writing, the places where coins were minted, all these things and more contribute to historical understanding of the period in which they were minted.

Thousands of artifacts are being stolen every year and making their way into Jewish hands, yet the Israeli division responsible for theft prevention has just one inspector to cover 2,600 sites

Behaviour is deeply embedded within individual cultural psyches, reinforced by the social groups. As children we are taught to say please and thank you, or to refer to our elders with special terminology to infer respect. In British society, certain behaviour is encouraged and considered polite - eating with a knife and fork, keeping your elbows off the table - standard parental ways to help children understand what is expected of them socially.

Farewelling Well  - Scott McKnight: 
We Evangelicals have a 500-year history of dividing over all sorts of issues ranging from modes of baptism to the color of the carpets in our sanctuary – even (maybe even especially!) with our fellow Protestants. While there is a pastoral responsibility to inquire with love about a leaver’s spiritual health, what happens if you discover that the one moving to another faith tradition is doing so because their faith is growing, and that growth has shifted their faith out of your particular stream?

Was George MacDonald an Open Theist? – Chuck McKnight at Hippie Heretic:

… his progressive views have garnered no shortage of controversy. Conservative pastor Tim Keller has gone so far as to say that he’s not sure whether George MacDonald was even a Christian. However, despite all the accusations brought against him, I’ve never heard anyone call George MacDonald an open theist. Of course that would technically be anachronistic, as the term open theism didn’t come into use until the late twentieth century, but my point is that I’ve not heard his beliefs compared to what open theists believe about God and the settledness of the future.

It is rare that archival research makes the national news.  Jeffrey Alan Miller’s identification of a draft of a portion of the King James Bible hit the headlines in October 2015: not only was it the earliest known draft, but was uniquely a draft written by the hand of one of the translators, who was known by name.  The notebook in which Miller found this work – Sidney Sussex College, MS Ward B – had belonged to Samuel Ward (1572-1643), Master of the College from 1610 until his death.  Eighteen months after the discovery, the notebook has been digitised in full and published on the Cambridge Digital Library, in the latest instance of an ongoing collaboration between the University Library and the Cambridge Colleges to make archival and manuscript material available online.

Augustine’s reading is what many Christians believe Paul actually said, and which is why Augustine’s notion of “original sin” is defended with such uncompromising vehemence as the “biblical” teaching. But neither Romans nor Genesis or the Old Testament supports the idea.

Matthew Bates’ book Salvation by Allegiance Alone: Rethinking Faith, Works, and the Gospel of Jesus the King is just one straw in a strong wind blowing out of biblical studies, driving us away from theological towards narrative constructions of Christian identity and purpose. In my view, this is an exhilarating and necessary development, but Matthew’s book, for all its merits, has highlighted a fundamental shortcoming. Because evangelicals naturally want to retain the direct practical application of the “gospel”, evangelical narrative theologies exhibit a consistent tendency to leapfrog history.

Why Wesley Removed the 26th Article – by Joel Watts at Unsettled Christianity: 

How odd then, that the man who believed in spiritual perfection of the saints as one full of grace would remove this article? Odd or completely in line with Wesley’s thinking? I think Wesley got tired of the elevation of bishops clearly undeserving of blessing the sacrament. It was a new world, with no episcopal jurisdictions, yet, Wesley was laying the ground for a kingdom of priests, without sin.

Karl Barth: Believing in Demons Makes Us Demonic – by Wyatt Houtz at Post Barthian: 

"It has never been good for anyone—including (and particularly) Martin Luther—to look too frequently or lengthily or seriously or systematically at demons (who for Luther were usually compressed into the single figure of the Devil.) It does not make the slightest impression on the demons if we do so, and there is the imminent danger that in so doing we ourselves might become just a little or more than a little demonic."

Inerrancy and Textual Criticism by P.J. Williams at Evangelical Textual Criticism  

My basic thesis is that inerrancy may only be used as a secondary criterion for the original reading. It cannot be used to overturn strong external support or to support conjecture.

15 Reasons Open Theism Is True by Dan Kent at ReKnew

Recently, Andrew Wilson shared an impressive critique of open theism called: “Responding To Open Theism In Fourteen Words.” Andrew’s article didn’t persuade me, but it did challenge me (seriously!). Below I will respond to each of the words Andrew presents. But first I will add one word of my own (if Andrew gets 14 words, I should get at least 1, right?). The word I want to add to the discussion is “Holy.” 

The Life of Francis at Existential Comics: Francis Bacon Meets Jesus by way of Brian.

Taking inspiration from grim Hollywood reboots like Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, B&H Kids announced Tuesday that it would be relaunching the Bibleman series of superhero stories in a dark and gritty resurrection of the purple-and-gold caped crusader.

Jim Bakker says Colbert Is Provoking Anti Trump Violence -


Dr. Demonology:

Trump in Bible Prophecy  by William Tapley, the Third Eagle of the Apocalypse and Co-Prophet of the End Times

Mormon Scholars Debate Joseph Smith’s Role in Translation – Jana Reiss at Religion News Service:

At the end of the day, no one had come up with a Grand Unified Theory about how Joseph Smith translated, but we had raised some important issues that show the inadequacies of the old model (Smith translating from one language to another without any of his own input, or what Skousen called the “tight control” model).

The Book of Mormon Gets the Literary Treatment By Grant Shreve at Religion and Politics

The Book of Mormon is a wholly American Scripture. It is the sacred text for the 15 million-strong Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s the calling card for thousands of missionaries, and part of the inspiration for a Tony award-winning Broadway musical. But rarely has the book, on its own merits, been considered a genuine work of art. That’s changing, as American literary scholars embrace it as worthy of attention. In 2012, during the waning days of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and the nation’s so-called “Mormon moment,” literature professors were on the cusp of their own “Book of Mormon moment.” For the first time, studies of the Book of Mormon’s literary qualities were appearing in major journals of American literary studies. Literature courses that prominently featured the Book of Mormon started to appear with more frequency in secular university course catalogues. Now the text, first published in 1830 and once derided as “a fiction of hob-goblins and bugbears,” is being parsed by non-Mormon students across the country, with literature scholars breaking more than a century of professional silence on the book.

St. Athanasius:

Stephan Huller spent hours compiling all the bad things that scholars have observed about Epiphanius's reliability as a historical witness.  

Oh, and by-the-by, Jim West is hosting his own so-called "Avignonian Carnival." You can visit there if you like, but don't feel like you have to, or anything. I mean, if you do you're likely to see him wearing plaids - two different plaids.  How uncouth.


If you would like to host the Biblioblog Carnival in the near future (and I recommend that you do) contact Phil Long:

June 2017 (Due July 1) -  VOLUNTEER NEEDED
July 2017 (Due August 1) - Reuben Rus, Ayuda Ministerial/Resourcesfor Ministry 
August 2017 (Due September 1) - Jason Gardner,  eis doxan, 
October 2017 (November 1) - VOLUNTEER NEEDED
November 2017 (December 1) - Jim West, Zwingli Redivivus
December 2017 (January 1) - Jennifer Guo,  jenniferguo

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