The Carnival Has Come to Town! (The Biblical Studies Carnival That Is)
This month’s Carnival covers materials discovered or divulged on the ‘biblioblogs’ during March, 2012. I want to thank Jim Linville for allowing me to host this month. I always enjoy it and though it’s a bit of work, I think it no mere ‘chasing after wind’. Instead, I view it as an important tool for the dissemination of interesting posts which may not have received quite the attention that they should have.
If, though, I offend either by sins of commission or omission, I can only refer you to Prof. Linville, who asked me to do it. Or as Adam said to God, ‘it’s her fault!’ Oh, and expect just a tiny bit of snark. If you aren’t a fan of the occasional off the cuff sarcastic remark, consider yourselves duly warned.
So, here we are: the preliminary notifications are out of the way and our Carnival of biblical joyfulness can begin- Our first stop- posts on the
Hebrew Bible / Old Testament
Tim Bulkeley kicks things off with a very fine new series of podcasts on the Bible. He’s doing important stuff and useful to boot, and given the profound ignorance out there about the Bible much needed as well. You should most certainly give it a listen.
Joseph Kelly kept himself busy with a series on Old Testament theology here, here, and here. Personally I’ve always preferred von Rad’s theological approach since he saw the ‘big picture’ so well. Eichrodt was ok too (and surely covenant is a central theme, but God is a central theme too… and so are a bunch of other things). Nonetheless, it’s really more proper to talk about Old Testament theologies (in the plural).
Do you think you’re a pessimist? Maybe it’s because you spend too much time reading Ancient Near Eastern literature, which Claude Marriottini describes as pessimistic! Or perhaps you’re one of those people who can’t help wondering how we got the Bible (or how the canon was put together). Michael Barber has the answer. And it’s a good answer, even if it is from a Roman Catholic (I guess even those people can have good thoughts from time to time when especially visited by the Holy Spirit who only resides full time in the lives of the Reformed).
Changing the subject, Michael Acidri has some advice when it comes to using commentaries. (I’m not sure why people need advice as to how to use commentaries, but they must). James Spinti excerpts snippets from a book written over a decade ago titled ‘Thus Saith the Lord‘- proving yet once again that newer isn’t always (or even usually) better. Meanwhile Brian Davidson helps us with those odd text critical fonts in Unicode. Take a look, you’ll see what I mean.
Speaking of text criticism (sort of), there’s a really fine volume coming out mid May by Matti Friedman titled The Aleppo Codex. It tells the story of the codex and its mysterious and intriguing wanderings. It’s amazingly readable and fantastically engaging.
Scott Bailey, ever the provocateur [Joel Watts, that means 'troublemaker' or 'rabble-rouser'], has a brief bit on the topic of theodicy (an Old Testament theme so that’s why I’m putting it in this category).
Michael Langlois (a very fine scholar whom you probably have never heard of though you need to know him) has a great interview which the Oxford-ian Timothy M. Law has drawn to our attention. James Spinti (mentioned previously, I know) shared the good news that the latest fascicle of BHQ (Judges) is out. Unfortunately no one else noted it so I’m forced, against my will, to point you to the announcement here.
Happily over on the Jesu screed Scot has a post worth reading on the ‘birth’ of purgatory (it’s really the invention of purgatory but what are ya gonna’ do?). Meanwhile, Ferrell Jenkins went to Istanbul and took a picture of someone’s head purported to be connected to the Book of Daniel.
Michael Heiser posts a genuinely nifty piece about the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. Phil Sumpter examines the interplay between Psalm 1 and 2 whilst Bob McDonald brings to a conclusion his long running series on the Psalms, finally answering that all consuming question, ‘How long, O Lord? How long??!?!?!’ (can one series drag on…).
A new (relatively anyway) blog came to my attention. It’s by Matthieu Richelle and its primary focus is Hebrew Bible and epigraphy. He’s got a brilliant piece on Genesis that you won’t want to miss. No one seems to be doing any innovative and instructive work on Genesis these days, making this contribution all the more meaningful. He’s also posted a fine essay on Elisha and the chariots of fire.
The New Testament saw its fair share of merry-go-round ‘riders’ in March including T. Wasserman, who explored the burning question- Was the scribe of P46 sexist? Here’s what he says. Willem J. de Wit has a nice piece on Codex Sinaiticus and Phil Long wrote a right fine review of a 2004 publication by Brevard Childs. It’s ok, Phil, being 7 years behind is perfect- since 7 is the number of perfection! ;-) [Ok it is a good review. Seriously]. Phil also identifies the Beloved Disciple! Sort of… Anyway we all know it’s Lazarus, right? Because that’s what BWIII says and he has to be right…
Jason reviewed a book about ‘Jesus Lens’ and reading the Bible through it. I’ve not read the book and after reading Jason’s review I’m even less inclined to do so. Reading the Bible through one particular ‘lens’ is, as he says, problematic. Brian LePort of ‘Almost to Emmaus but even after all this time we can’t seem to get there’ fame has a look at Craig Evans’ new volume on Matthew (who never even so much as mentions Emmaus). Joel Watts wrote a review as well, of a volume on Mark and the Elijah-Elisha narratives. No, it isn’t just your imagination- Joel is obsessed with Mark. I worry for his soul.
Speaking of reviews, some bloggers seem to think that reviewing books is beneath them and their dignity. I would side with the saintly Rudolf Bultmann though, who believed that book reviews were an excessively important tool in the toolbox of scholarly interaction. If one doesn’t wish to review, one doesn’t wish to interact. James Barr too loved to review books. And boy, when he reviewed your work you wish he hadn’t. He was merciless in his critiques but oh so instructive. Embrace the review, friends! Hug it!
Something I read with great benefit is a new blog appearing with, it seems, a primary interest in things New Testament-ish (and related) called Orthodox Wars. If you haven’t taken a look at it yet, you ought to. Who doesn’t love a good war?
Did the disciples of Jesus walk around with notebooks and take notes of what Jesus said and did? Michael Bird and Michael Barber think so. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. At any rate, it doesn’t matter because we don’t have anything they wrote down. We don’t have ‘eyewitness’ testimony. The Gospels, recall, are anonymous (in spite of Bauckham’s good work). So what the disciples wrote down, if they wrote down anything, is as lost as what Jesus wrote in the dirt when they brought the woman caught in adultery before him.
Michael Barber’s got a tiny fragment of a piece on Wirkungsgeschichte. Everyone should familiarize themselves with this latest fad of theological research. We old timers have been doing it for ages- it’s called reading commentaries. But you young whipper snappers (who always think you’ve been the ones to invent the wheel) might not know what a commentary is (unless you download it on your e-reader).
On another topic altogether, was the New Testament canon modeled on the LXX? Find out!
Stanley Porter has been ‘dragged kicking and screaming’ (his words) (and, really? Is there a YouTube of it because that would be awesome!) into the social media age and is blogging. If you aren’t familiar with his name it’s because you aren’t all that into Greek. If you’re a student of the New Testament, though, you doubtless know of him.
Larry Hurtado broke the news that Mark Goodacre has a volume on the Gospel of Thomas and the Synoptics coming out in 2012 and a formerly regular blogger followed up with a second notice. Evidently, according to Hurtado, Goodacre thinks Thomas knew, and interacted with, actual Gospels. I sure hope Mark points out that Thomas used Q!
Not to be missed is James McGrath’s posting concerning the futurist interpretation of Revelation. Personally I’m not persuaded that the dispensationalists are even remotely on target (in fact they’re bonkers). James and I seem to agree.
Have you been bothered by all that silly ‘Paul hates women and Christians must therefore all be misogynists’ talk which regularly spews from the gaping maws of the angry atheists? Fear not… there’s been a ‘breakthrough’ and now, after 2000 years, Paul has found an accurate interpreter called Grace Tracer. She (?) has concluded her (his?) piece with this fine, fine question- ‘So how is Paul doing now in your estimation?’. Please do let Paul know. He won’t be able to sleep without your approval.
If you really want to know what Paul thought and taught, you need to get a copy of my BFF Chris Tilling’s revised for publication dissertation titled Paul’s Divine Christology. I read an early draft of it, gosh a couple of years ago, and it’s just fantastic. If I may, I’ll say this mostly because it’s true and only partially because Chris is my friend: he is the finest young interpreter of Paul on the theological horizon. Truly.
Matthew Crowe directs our attention to a nice video on the Didache (and the mission of Jesus). Give it a look. The lecture took place at the University of Nottingham, so if you do watch it, be warned- the sheriff is probably hacking your bank login information… [NB- that was a joke... gosh, if they have to be explained...]
Other videos also appeared in March (leading up to Easter) from the friendly folk at Tyndale House titled ‘Evidence for Jesus’ Trial’, ‘Evidence for Jesus’ Crucifixion’ and ‘Evidence for Jesus’ Resurrection’. You can give them a look here.
In sad news (and I’m really and authentically heartbroken to report this), a new blog came to birth in March – in Dutch – devoted specifically and solely to the work of NT Wright. I know, I know. As if there weren’t already enough nonsense in the world. On the up side, however, the happy fact that no one reads Dutch so it’s sure not to be widely viewed. Whew.
Were you aware that Codex Bezae was available online? Well it is. Tommy Wasserman said so and even provided the link-proof. (I know, Simon Gathercole is the chap who actually posted the announcement but I don’t believe in group blogs, so I only always and ever list postings from ETC under the name of the awesome Tommy W.)
Another blog you may not be aware of is by a young Romanian scholar named Emanuel Contac. He’s got an exegetical note on Hebrews 8 that those of you who read Romanian will want to consider. If you don’t read Romanian it’s ok, he has other things too.
Aren – always on the forefront of using the web to keep folk up to date on the doings of the dig (at his dig at Gath in particular) posted a few very, very nice photos during March and he also announced the very good news that the Gath dig had been granted a substantial amount of money to continue its work. David Meadows has a great post on a new project which has as its aim the publication of all known inscriptions from Israel. It’s a huge project but one that’s been needed for ages.
The ‘trial of the century’ ended on March 14th with Oded Golan being declared ‘innocent’ (the Judge not once saying Golan wasn’t a forger or the articles forged- he only said the state failed to prove its case). It was a sad day for archaeology as now every find will be viewed with skepticism- the public wondering just exactly how reliable such things are and how many of them are forged (since it’s seemingly very easy to fool people, including courts). A sad day indeed.
Here’s the IAA’s reaction. Many others too shared sentiments of dismay (except Shanks and BAR- since for them it’s imagined vindication and the opportunity to continue to make a profit from their books on the ‘James Ossuary’). Matthew Kalman, the journalist who covered the marathon, um, I mean trial, from beginning to end, has a veritable historical archive on his blog.
But two of the best, the most astute, and the wisest assessments of the entire sorry episode are those of Paul Flesher and Nina Burleigh. They’re brilliant. Don’t miss them. Those maintaining the authenticity of the ossuary’s inscription didn’t, engaging in a campaign of attacks against Burleigh and Flesher (just read the comments to their pieces).
The discussion (in the press anyway) continued for weeks, as Antonio Lombatti noted. This simply demonstrates that those who have money to make from unprovenanced artifacts (whether dealer, or publisher of a for-still-as-yet-unexplained-as-to-why-its-popular ‘biblical archaeology’ magazine) will continue to peddle them as long as the silly and the gullible are willing to buy them.
On the other hand, we also learned in March that people could now donate to real archaeological excavations both at Azekah and Gath using secure online forms. Every dig ought to do the same. Even if it might mean a little work, it would be worth it. Then people authentically interested in archaeology could donate to digs whatever amount they’re spending on magazines in it for profit rather than the expansion of the discipline and the pursuit of knowledge. If you’re concerned about the continuance of real archaeology there are two ways to be involved- participate in a dig, or donate.
As if to prove that archaeologists/philologists and their sort can have a sense of humor, Josh posted (in February, but I’m mentioning it here anyway because Eric Cline told me about it and I like it) a terrific piece that you’ll love too.
The Southeastern Regional Meeting of the SBL met in Atlanta in March and yours truly was there. I posted brief snippets of the happenings in a few places, which you’re free to enjoy at your leisure (or free to ignore at the eternal peril of your soul- your choice)… Ayrton Jose da Silva announced an opportunity to exchange ideas with Neil Asher Silberman at a conference to be held in May, in Brazil. Silberman will lecture on ‘The Political Uses of Archaeology’. Now there’s a topic to sink your teeth into.
Jim Linville announces a new program unit for SBL that I think sounds very interesting. Doubtless many others will too.
Mark Goodacre attended the SBL Midwest regional meeting but – alas- he didn’t say anything about it. It must have been super secret, like an ancient gnostic text, available only to insiders…
Not much went on otherwise. Evidently most scholars take March off from conferencing (or conferences just aren’t that popular in March).
The Tabor/Jacobovici ‘Jesus Discovery’ thing (there’s no other word for it) which kicked off at the end of February continued to stir discussion in March, with our own Mark Goodacre making a short but important observation here and a bit of a longer one on the whole ‘Jonah’ issue here. Bob Cargill completely denuded Tabor’s claims of legitimacy for the ‘find’ here and delivered what can only be described as the coup de grace here, when he shows that the images used by Tabor et al have been manipulated (and amusingly, shortly after he posted his piece, the photos Cargill questioned were removed from Tabor’s page). He also offers a handy chart if you’re trying to keep up with the constant mutations of Tabor’s theory. Think of it as a program guide. And above all, don’t miss Bob’s post here, exposing the logical failings of the Tabor theory.
Joan Taylor too chimed in with some very wise comments and so did many others including James McGrath, Chris Rollston (as well as here and here), Jodi Magness, and Eric Meyers. You can find all of them right here on the ASOR Blog along with others.
This ‘discovery’ really does belong in the category of pseudo-archaeology because it certainly isn’t archaeology; as Joel is unafraid to say, it’s about the $. And Deane G. isn’t afraid to be himself in his scathing denunciation of the claim. Meanwhile Tom Verenna offers a roundup of the Talpiot joyfulness – including rejections of Simcha’s patently absurd claim that no one has proven he and Tabor wrong! (Talk about your basic disconnect from reality and head in the sand syndrome. One would expect better scholarship from Huntington U’s newest ‘Professor of Religious Studies’…). Why even the place where the ossuary found is steeped in farce. Only two people on the planet believe Tabor and Jacobovici. Tabor and Jacobovici (and perhaps people who wear aluminum foil hats).
It could even be classified under the term ‘hoax’, as Jona Lendering insists whilst questing for the annual ‘Easter hoax’ (and he lists a doosey- Jesus the hermaphrodite….).
Continuing along the same thematic line, Jason Staples exposes the absurdity and contradictory nature of Tabor’s claims. This is why I suggested above that only Tabor and Jacobovici believe what they’re selling. But enough of their nonsense. If the world were a scroll and the sea filled with ink, there wouldn’t be sufficient space or time to list every single well stated (and not so well stated) denunciation of this unfortunate example of pseudo-archaeology.
On the other hand, if you’d like to see how archaeology is supposed to be done- take a look at the volumes Eerdmans has (and their post in response to the Talpiot fish).
In tandem with this bizarre story is the even more bizarre fact that Simcha is now a Professor of Religious Studies at Huntington University (as Mark G. noted in the link above).
In other news… the ‘trial of the century’ (the ‘James Ossuary’ trial) finally ended with a verdict. Very much worth seeing is a short Channel 4 News report featuring Joe Zias and Yuval Goren. Strictly speaking, not a blog entry- but still worth including (even though it aired on the 12th, 2 days before the verdict was announced).
Oh antiquities fraud and pseudo-archaeology… how often you appear just around Easter. Thy name is clever marketing.
We all want to wish Michael and his wife a hearty congratulations on the birth of their daughter! God bless them all, everyone!
I would have posted contributions by my most favorite of all bloggers, Alan Bandy, this guy, this guy, this other guy, this very odd guy, this guy (who isn’t a guy at all), and Carl Sweatman as well as Danny Mc but they haven’t posted in ages, instead opting to let their blogs lie fallow and turn to tumbleweeds, robbing the world of their contributions to both the betterment of humanity and the improvement and dissemination of knowledge. But I guess they’re satisfied to let Wikipedia do their work for them…
I have to mention this post by Ron because he tells us about Martin Luther, composer of music and song. Sure, it’s not a biblical studies field topic but there it is anyway. Take complaints to Jim Linville- master of the Carnival.
Tommy Wasserman posted a neat little snippet called Medieval Musings in the Margins. Those crazy scribes… what a fun lot of hunched over monkish weirdos.
And finally- some folk have complained over the years that the ‘ranking’ system in Biblioblogdom is flawed. Well, the folk at the Remnant of Giants blog have taken care of that, in their own (per usual) unique way… The bottom line: no matter how you slice the pie, I get most of it. And that. as they say, is that… ;-)