Let’s get right to it. Imagine yourself wandering around the lanes of a Zoo. I’ll be your guide, and we will together visit the cages, gazing in at the beasts.
Area One: The Birds
Birds are beautiful animals and there’s nothing like watching them take flight
Spreading their wings and showing their colors, they make quite the sight.
For me, personally, the birds are always a highlight of any visit to the Zoo. What beauty was to be found in March? Will we hear the caged bibliobloggers sing? Let’s look and listen.
The month kicked off with the timely posting of Carnival LI (that’s 51 for those of you whose Roman Numeraling is a little weak) over on a blog of which I had previously never heard authored by a guy with what has to be the strangest name in modern western history, Anummabrooke. Anum did a fine job with his carnival. But before you get all excited and run over to comment on Anum (or anyone’s) post, you need to take quite seriously the song that Brian sings about that.
I make mention of a really interesting piece in the Los Angeles Times which shows that artistic representations of the Last Supper show, over the course of the ages, an increase in the amount of food on the Apostle’s plates. If you missed it, you really should take a look. It’s quite a song!
Steve sings a song of praise to, of all things, Asherah! What next Steve, a song for Jezebel and then one for Judas and then one for NT Wright???? When will it end?
Mike Bird (why of course that’s why he’s in this part of the Zoo) has a brief but engaging interview with the author of a new book titled something like Christ the Creator. Nicely done.
Mark Goodacre mentioned the appearance of more very fine videos from the University of Nottingham’s continuing series. If you haven’t checked these out yet, you owe it to yourself, and your students, to do it.
Bob Cargill showed the beauty of blogging by debunking a bit of the media nonsense that, sadly, passes itself off as ‘archaeological’ fact. When the popular media misrepresents the facts- either in terms of the archaeology of the Levant or in terms of biblical related ‘news’, bloggers are morally obliged to spread their wings like hawks and swoop down on the media mice for the kill. Thankfully we have Hawk Bob to see to it that those mice are dispatched with all due haste before they can multiply like rabbits.
And as a counterpoint to the nonsense dropping from the internet sky from the wire ceiling of the birdcage, Bob’s got his course on Jerusalem essentially online. If you want, you can learn for free from one of our foremost young scholars. You ought to drop in and take advantage before the bird flies the coop.
Stephen Carlson stuck his head out of his Duke-ian nest (where he’s ensconced amongst the nettles and straw safe and warm- except when the Cameron Crazies get going) and had a line or two to write about the latest theological debate craze: the πίστις Χριστοῦ debate. What’s that you say? You’ve never heard of it? Well it’s basically one side saying ‘either’ and the other saying ‘or’ but the truth residing in ‘both/and’. And it’s just never ending…
Speaking of debates… Mike Koke draws our attention to one on the topic of ‘violence’ in scripture and what Christians are to make of it. Sadly such ‘debates’ have as much value as the medieval discussions of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Even poor Tim was dragged into it. Still, it’s a delight, isn’t it, to watch Ker and Chaplin and Hobbins floundering around attempting to solve problems that simply don’t exist. Only persons who think God must conform to their vision of him could raise such complaints. ‘God must act as I expect him to act or I must explain his action to my satisfaction…’ they say (though never out loud). Rubbish. God needn’t explain his actions to me or you or Ker or Hobbins or even Chaplin. Kok (or Koke… oh who knows) also has something to say about Abraham and about his own impending journey to Sheffield to begin a PhD. He’ll love Sheffield and I’m sure you all join me in congratulating him for his appointment as he leaves Ur of the Canadians for the REAL Promised Land, Yorkshire!
‘Not Sanjay’ Gupta interviews Goldingay here on Old Testament Theology. This is one of the best things about biblioblogging: the exchange of ideas and the discussions those ideas produce. It gives color to life.
Rob Kashow (Cashew?) is singing sweetly in a series of posts on the history of baptism and does his best work in that fine series here and here. And so is Bill Mounce (kinda sorta) who teaches us textual criticism in 5 minutes! That is sweet! And if you’re troubled by all those textual variants, don’t be. According to Bill, “God in his sovereign love made sure that the differences among the manuscripts would not hinder our faith. -About 5% of the Greek text is in question. -No major doctrine is brought into question by that 5%. You can trust your Bible!” If only he had said ‘you can trust God!’ the song would have been sweet indeed.
And finally, our last singer is Michael, who nearly twists his voice box out of his throat singing praise to, well, ok, himself . אַֽל־ תִּ֭תְהַלֵּל בְּיֹ֣ום מָחָ֑ר כִּ֤י לֹא־ תֵ֝דַ֗ע מַה־ יֵּ֥לֶד יֹֽום׃. … And again, Εἰ καυχᾶσθαι δεῖ τὰ τῆς ἀσθενείας μου καυχήσομαι.
Area Two: The Lions
The beasts in this area of the Zoo are kings of the blogging jungle. Powerful, intense, and fearsome.
Todd roars loudly in his very fine demonstration that Mazar’s work in Jerusalem at the ‘newly discovered’ wall from ‘Solomon’s time’ is just utterly rehashed unsubstantiated stuff. Todd’s not the only, or even the first, to notice that fact. But he’s the most organized.
Christian Brady is a Nitney lion whether or not he posts a lot very much relevant stuff at all. Besides, he has a huge office. They don’t give those to unimportant people.
Scott’s remarks about ‘higher criticism‘ and faith are right on target. It’s funny (not) how prevalent anti-intellectualism still is among some circles of believers.
Michael Pahl, one of the original bibliobloggers, came out of his den, if ever so briefly, to tell us what the Kingdom of God isn’t. It isn’t a lot of other things too!
Brant Pitre isn’t afraid to hunt down and devour silly falsehood and he proves it in a very fine demonstration of the fact that dogs do not, in fact, go to heaven. You can stop searching for an answer to that question. He’s provided it. Sparky won’t be there, so stop asking if he can go!
John Hobbins has a nice post on history and eschatology. Be sure to check it out. It certainly is a tremendously important issue- and he’s right to devote substantial space to explicating it (in a series). Of course I was instantly reminded of Bultmann’s Gifford Lectures: History and Eschatology. Hobbins is, of course, no Bultmann. But who is? Except Bultmann…
Mark Goodacre’s podcasts continue undeterred. This one on the so called ‘Messianic Secret’ in Mark is nicely done.
JD Medina points out online courses Harvard is offering this Summer covering various biblical languages (and Arabic, theological German, and Theological French). Online courses???? Heavens, don’t tell the ivory tower dwellers that education can take place via online methods. They’ll have a stroke (but of course they won’t criticize Harvard for it, they’ll vent their bile filled spleens on ‘lesser’ institutions).
Area Three: The Elephants
Big stuff will be found in this section of the Zoo. And one of the biggest announcements in March was the discovery of what can best be called ‘A Syrian Stonehenge’. Our own Antonio ‘The Relic Buster’ Lombatti described the find here.
PJ Williams breaks the news that the Vatican will digitize over 80K volumes! Now that’s elephant big.
What other big things took place in March? Well, first, the 15th marked the anniversary of the birth of Georg Strecker (in 1929). March 28th marked the birth of Kurt Aland (1915). And that delightfully engaging archaeologist Israel Finkelstein celebrated his birthday on the 29th of the month. And, while we’re mentioning big things, none of us should forget that Johann Philip Gabler gave his groundbreaking inaugural lecture on the 30th of the month in the of our Lord 1787 and Biblical Theology was born (though JD Kirk hates the whole Gabler-ian program). Oh Biblical Theology… we miss you (in spite of Kirk’s feelings). These days there’s no longer any unifying theory in biblical studies and one and all are shooting off on their own private, idiosyncratic, and ultimately pointless trajectories. Oh Biblical Theology- we miss your exegetical prowess…
Big too was the sad news of the death of E. Earle Ellis, a very fine and very gifted biblical exegete. PJ Williams passed along the news first and a few others followed with further details. Indeed, one blogger even ‘psychically sensed it’ when it happened! How’s that for super-duper awesome… Of course the popular media outlets never even noticed it. They need the psychic dude working for them.
On the very happy end of the big news spectrum, my friend and yours Robert Cargill married the delightful and beautiful Ros on the 20th of March. I hope the two of them live many joyful years together.
If the number of postings devoted to the news is any indication, then for loads of bibliobloggers the fact that Richard Bauckham has a new web page is humongous news indeed. It even bears his name as the domain name! That’s BIG!
A bit of the elephant’s trunk comes from those hearty souls who take time during conferences to keep those unable to attend abreast of the doings. SECSOR met in Atlanta the first weekend of March and Rafael remarks upon the New Testament sections (apparently the only ones he was interested in, sadly), and CB attends MAR and reports therefrom. Out West, Kevin Scull makes short shrift of WECSOR.
Danny Mc makes loads of noise with mention of the availability of Emanuel Tov’s various works online, free.
I would be derelict in my duty if I failed to mention the absolute biggest news of the month. No, the year. No, a lifetime! Zwingliana, the publication of the Zwingliverein, is now online- from the beginning to the present. Now all those troubled souls who have neglected the greatest of the Church’s theologians have no excuse.
Area Four: The Giraffes
Talk about sticking your neck out! Here we’ll find those bibliobloggers who took risks and thought outside the box. One such is our Aussie compatriot Roland Boer, who thinks it might be a good idea to replace the 10 Commandments with the more interesting 12 Commandments from Deuteronomy 27. Now that’s thinking outside the box.
Darrell wants to think outside the box too, because he’s perturbed. And what’s the source of his perturbation? Why the fact that no one ever asks where Seth got his wife, of course! (Sure, it’s a strange thing to be perturbed about).
Judy’s a tad perturbed too, but she has some excellent points concerning the proper, and improper, writing of article abstracts. Oh, that’s not important to you? Well that’s because you aren’t clever like Judy, who sticks her giraffe like neck out to make academic publications better.
Tim’s thinking outside the box, and above the crowd too, when he urges us all to think about the divide between those institutions wealthy enough to access important materials and those which can’t. And why it matters. When publishers like Brill charge thousands of dollars for books, they make it absolutely impossible for those in less advantaged countries to acquire them. Why are biblical scholars so quiet about all this inequity?
And then he goes and meddles in the whole ‘marriage should be a commitment that people take more seriously’ abyss. He’ll only earn himself a neck hacking for that one. Most people don’t want to be committed, they want to flounder on the rocks of immorality.
Tony sticks his neck out a bit here in a fine description of why Bible students in Asia need Greek. I agree 100%. Every student of the Bible needs to manage quite well the biblical languages. Just saying so makes Tony a hero in my book. Or, in our present catalog, a long necked giraffe.
An Islamic film about Jesus from the Coptic point of view… now that’s going to be interesting. Thanks to Matt for keeping up with this very long project, as well as for telling us about Joseph of Nazareth in film.
Craig Blomberg, with whom I have not always agreed (so go ahead, be shocked), has posted a very fine albeit brief treatment of the ever difficult task of interpreting present events in biblical/theological terms. He’s stuck his neck out. But I support his comments.
Long necked McGrath pushes the boundaries (as he always does) and this time he’s thinking about McKnight-izing his blog (i.e., festooning it with adverts as though it were hosted on Beliefnet in hopes of pulling money from the very top of the tree limbs). Don’t do it! If your blog is monetized, you’ve been completely sucked into culture’s primary mindset. Heck, you might even be infected with the disease of ’emerging’ thought! Go, quick, get immunized! Read the Sermon on the Mount!
Doug Mangum did the unthinkable and actually offered his own ‘top posts of 2009’, in the middle of March… That’s our Doug, right on top of things… and not afraid to tell us about what he’s done.
And though this really belongs in the monkey cage, I’m putting it here because I don’t want to hurt Joel’s tender feelings. For where else but at Joel’s place can we read sentences like this: Stay tuned for next week’s Break My Blog contest in which I am giving away a certain, shall we say, copernicum book…. I’m at a loss. ‘Copernicum’? Which leads nicely, doesn’t it, to
Area Five: The Monkeys
Ah, who doesn’t love the fun loving, poo flinging monkeys. Those bibliobloggers who fling the doo and jump and screech and prance about like Johnny Weir at the Winter Olympics will be found in this area of our Zoo. Put your poncho on. These monkeys may target you with their effulgence… (but to be fair to them, they can’t help it. After all, they are descended from just this sort of creature)!
First in our line of sight is one Ken Pulliam, starting the month off with a poo hurling extravaganza par excellance! Ken’s mad at Christianity (apparently he became disenchanted) and, as always happens when people abandon faith, he’s taken it as his life’s goal to screech at it. And he does some right fine and loud screeching for sure.
They’re mad at God over at the Dunedin School too. So there’s a bit of the hopping up and down and hanging on the bars of the cage there in a ‘discussion’ about metaphor and literal-ness. Once the screeching dies down the reader – if mentally keen – will notice that poor God comes off as quite stupid. But that’s to be expected really. When one doesn’t know God, one only knows a god of their own construct. A cheap imitation. A caricature. Sort of like a monkey in a cage is a caricature of a human being when you put a hat on it.
Doug let’s fly a gasping lot of flatulence in his denunciation of the ‘trope’ which suggests that the ‘crowd’ crying hosanna on Palm Sunday is the same as the ‘crowd’ which a few days after calls for Jesus’ death. Alas, Doug should have read Mt 21:9 and compared it to 27:20. Matthew’s use of the definite article before ‘crowd’ in each of those instances demonstrates that he has a ‘particular’ crowd in mind.
Another fling-capade (fling-stravaganza?) can be sniffed out here. What’s it about? Who but the Devil knows. That’s why it found its place in this category. And here’s some flinging that defies explanation. Seriously. Are we so bored that this actually entertains us? Alas. I think biblioblogdom has died- or is dying… (OK I don’t. And I had to include that from Jeremy because it’s just so utterly poo-ish!)
And of course no one does poo like David Ker. He’s the poo king indeed with this entry.
I was glad that James McGrath pointed out a few of the flingers who like to call themselves ‘Jesus mythers’. As he says, the posts he notes surely do demonstrate the problematic nature of the work the folk produce in that little cage of monkey-dom. Tom takes issue with the whole ‘Historical Jesus Scholars’ enterprise though.
Gavin flails mightily away at the notion of tithing, waving his arms, gesticulating wildly, and baring his teeth in an attempt to convince people that it’s unbiblical. If only he understood the theological intention of the Old and New Testament practice of tithes and offerings he might be less inclined to be chained monkey-like to the letter. ‘The spirit gives life, the letter kills’, Gav-meister. But I suppose that for some it’s easier to skim the surface than it is to try to understand the deeper reason.
Steve flings a good one when he claims, boldly, that no one who asserts the truth of the Bible is sincere. Wow. He’s been busy, interviewing each and every person who reads and believes the Bible and thus reaching his conclusion that ‘Bible believers do not believe the Bible’. And he even titles his post ‘Lying Literalists’! Talk about the pot calling the kettle…
Scott tells us of some really horrible flinging going on in some Sunday School classes (and I’m sure we all have a horror story or two from that arena). When I read Scott’s piece I wanted to die of utter despair. Some people really are just stupid.
But those folk pale in comparison to Godfrey (probably an ironic last name, don’t you think?) who is one genuine flinger and flicker. Only someone 1) utterly unacquainted with Crossley’s work could accuse him of playing favorites when it comes to historiographically centered methodological questions and 2) someone utterly bereft of insight could ramble on about absolutely nothing as he has done with such aplomb.
But the biggest monkey of the month has to have been that non theologian non biblical scholar Glenn Beck. He didn’t only just fling it, he filled his mouth with it when he suggested that Christians who went to churches concerned for society were associating with Nazis and Communists. He heard from a number of biblio– and theobloggers and a whole lot of other people too. Congrats, Glenn, you’re the Monkey of the Month (and probably of the decade). And you’re really creepy…
Thanks for joining us on our Zoo tour of biblioblogianty from the perspective of an outsider. Before we go, I want to point out some blogs that aren’t ‘biblioblogs’ per se but which still should be looked at. First, Ben Myers. Always worth a read. Second, the T&T Clark blog. Sure, it’s a business, and so rather egocentric (not really interacting with anyone else and only making mention of authors who publish with them), but still worth a look. And third James Crossley and Chris Tilling usually post something worth reading but for some reason they took the month off. Crazy Brits. R. Scott Clark’s blog is always quite informative (though not a bb). Christian Intel Daily is a recent ‘start up’ blog and news aggregator that I check out daily for stuff I missed.
That is, it has to be said, the best of the best to be found in biblioblogdom in March.
Finally, if you’d like to know how you can put together a Carnival, click the video below. It’s the secret to my popularity. Oh yes, my friends, you can be popular (but just not quite as popular as me).