The month of July was rich in intriguing and engaging posts, even though around much of the U.S. it was hot as all blazes. I suppose this forced people inside but it also forced them to produce some really excellent stuff so that what follows is the very best of the best postings.
Before we get started, be sure to see where your favorite blog ranked in the monthly stats at the end of June (and so posted on 1 July). If you’re unhappy, with that ranking, then, as we say, you have to vote with your virtual feet and visit your beloved more. That’s all. Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty.
This month’s Carnival is divided into the tried and true categories we all learned to love in Grad school:
Old Testament/Hebrew Bible
Have you ever wondered what Jeremiah was doing in the ‘Confessions’? Well Tim Bulkeley tackles the question afresh in response to an essay which appeared in Bible and Interpretation. Michael Heiser has a right interesting piece on King Tut that, if you missed, you should go visit. Don’t miss either Christian Brady’s glowing look at a book on the Song of Solomon.
Naturally not a month goes by that the Ark of Noah isn’t found- and July is no different. But this time the nutbag who found it is in Australia! Similarly, not a month goes by these days when someone doesn’t connect the Old Testament to environmental causes. But this month Joseph actually manages to do it with a good bit of intelligence and thought.
John Ahn is to be the guest for an online colloquium on the Exilic period over on the Biblical Studies List, we’re informed here. The colloquium will run August 15-21, so there’s still plenty of time to sign up. It’s sure to be engaging.
Brian LePort has a very brief thought on Genesis 1. Did I say it was brief? My announcement of it is almost as long as it is. Still, a good post for students to consider. Adam Bean (a new person running, to me anyway, a new blog) has written a bit of analysis on Mark Smith’s book The Early History of God. Jona Lendering has a go at Ba’al. I didn’t even know Jona blogged. I guess you really do learn something new every day.
Seth Sanders posts Hebrew’s Early Ancestors and the Beginnings of International Relations: A Context for the Jerusalem Fragment. It’s nicely done (though I don’t think citing Freud really helps his case- since Freud knew as much about ancient Egypt as Akhenaten knew about psychoanalysis).
Suzanne McCarthy has an interesting question on the Hebrew word ‘ish’ and its ‘meaning’ (though I suspect it would be better to say ‘usage’, since words don’t have ‘meaning’, they have ‘usage’). And Scott Bailey has been continuing his important (and yes, it is important) series on the question as to whether or not higher criticism (in this context, of the Old Testament) attempts to destroy faith.
Doug ‘Magnum PI’ Mangum posts on the scapegoat ritual in Leviticus. That ritual makes me long for the good old days. And for more posts on Leviticus, which is just too ignored by Christian exegetes. It’s in the Bible, people, pay it some attention.
Finally, let me introduce to you Ancient Hebrew Grammar by John Cook and Robert Holmstedt (in case you haven’t heard of it). It is a quite technical and quite explicitly grammatical blog but it will certainly be of use to students of the language of heaven.
Gavin Rumney has some intriguing things to say about the Apostle Paul, whom he gives an ‘F’ for communication. I’ve always preferred John and James myself…
Jon Robinson reminds us why the shadow of Bultmann can still be seen and his voice still worth hearing.
Michael Barber announced the taping of a TV show on the Apocalypse and invited folk in Southern California to take part in the studio audience. It’s too late now of course but should such opportunities arise in the future, it might be something readers would find fun. In the middle of the New Testament Paul’s letters to the Corinthians camp. Matthew’s doing his dissertation on them. And he tells us what said dissertation is about. It sounds pretty interesting actually (in contrast to so many which sound more like sleeping pills on a page).
And speaking of matters apocalyptic- Steve Wiggins gets Friended by Jesus! Steve’s not exactly the first person that comes to mind when one thinks of Jesus friending people… but there it is. Estee Vazquez, returning from the dark halls of hinterland-ed-ness, posts a genuinely interesting bit on tendentious authorial remarks. What he forgets is that 90% of what passes for scholarship on the Bible is tendentious authorial comment. He also describes something called the Eastern Orthodox Bible. What? The Orthodox read the Bible? Who knew… especially since they worship idols…
James McGrath discusses a bit a new essay by Paul Anderson which appeared in Bible and Interpretation on the Gospel of John. James disagrees with Paul. You’ll have to read his post to know why. James also does a bangup job reviewing ‘The Historical Jesus: Five Views’ as well as taking to task the silly ‘Jesus mythicists’ (though frankly I think he, and anyone for that matter, who engages that lot is spitting into the wind) in a delightfully witty post titled Mythicism: Where’s the Birth Certificate? thereby wonderfully comparing the loons to the nutters who keep whining for Obama’s birth certificate.
Mike Kok has a fun post on gospel communities.
Wayne Leman dives into the deep waters with a tiny post on the ‘son of man’. Wayne, and really anyone truly interested in the issue, owe it to themselves to read
Some of the best news of the month came from Todd Bolen, who posted a link to 10 very cool, very free ancient Greek fonts. I’m fairly sure I’m not the only font-ophiliac among us. And pretty good news too came from Tommy Wasserman who tells us of a new web presence launched by Gunnar Samuelsson, who is interested in the subject of crucifixion. So too is Larry Hurtado, who entered the kingdom of biblioblogdom in July and who mentions the review of a book on crucifixion towards the end of July (and to be fair, I mention the post because it gives me a chance to mention Hurtado’s new blog and direct your attention to it).
William Black mentions the very interesting discovery of the oldest yet discovered piece of Christian art. Erich Kofmel mentions an upcoming conference on the Impact and Future of Black Theology. The voices of African-American and African theologians have largely been, in the Western Church, ignored. Perhaps it’s time for that to end.
Steve has some interesting thoughts about the Vatican’s decision to class the ordination of women along with sex abuse in its list of no-nos. Very much worth looking at.
Kim reviews a book which attempts to show how the Bible has been seen by various dilettantes through the ages. The review is better than the book and if you missed the review it’s time to give it a read.
Michael has a very fine and lucid post (in a series) on the rather odd interest in eschatology (calling such interest a waste of time). It’s loads of fun.
And Stuart James has been giving an overview of Diarmaid MacCulloch’s absolutely fantastic Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years. It’s a series not to be missed about a book that will certainly become nothing less than a classic in the field and the most important and comprehensive on the subject published since Kurt Aland’s two volume church history.
One of the highlights of the month was Ben Myers‘ fascinating piece on the subject of prayer. Not to be overlooked either is R. Scott Clark‘s gazing into the face of death. Michael Jensen has some interesting thoughts on the 10 things which Evangelical theology needs to address. Why 10? Why not 7? 7 is a better number. Rob Kubsch wonders what’s next in theology. Theologians seem to be doing a lot of crystal ball-ing these days.
TC Robinson offers some intriguing thoughts on the always important subject of prayer. And Ardel tells us of an opportunity to preorder a book on how to pursue perfection without becoming perfectionistic. But I say, what’s the point of being perfect if you can’t lord it over people? One of the great things about being perfect is the fact that it makes you better than everyone else. A failure to point that out at every opportunity is itself falsehood and false modesty. Ergo, when one fails to announce one’s perfection, one is no longer perfect…
I very much enjoyed James Spinti’s post on life in the Spirit and I’m happy to direct you to it. Mark Stevens has an interesting post on how one’s theology often interferes with one’s skill as translator and Sue, who makes a number of comments, contributes nicely to the discussion. Of course what the whole discussion shows is that those dependent on an English translation are also dependent on the theology of the translator. Doing biblical studies and theology means most of all thinking for oneself once one is adequately equipped to do so. That can’t be done when one is completely dependent on what others think.
The very best essay, though, on the theme of systematic theology is this one– Ist das wirklich Gerechtigkeit, wenn Reiche Armen etwas abgeben? It’s seldom a question asked, isn’t it. But one so central. It’s long, but you’ll learn a great deal and you’ll be provoked to much thought.
If you’ve ever found yourself irritated by those stupid atheist signs cropping up titled ‘there probably is no god’, then do be sure to read Matt Flannagan’s post. It’s excellent. That should put an end to the nonsense.
JD Kirk posted a theologically themed piece on the question of homosexuality and its comparison in some quarters to slavery. It’s brief, but worthy of attention.
Archaeology / The Dead Sea Scrolls
Aren Maeir was active in Gath in July, posting loads of informative things and allowing us to follow along, virtually, with the doings at the dig and the potential discovery of a temple as well as the happy fact that his dig has received an Israel Science Foundation grant! Too, Eric Cline and his students were at Megiddo. On Eric’s blog lots of contributions by the kids are worth noting, but I especially liked this one. Eric did a fine job of loading photos so browse the blog and enjoy. Stephen Smuts tells us that Todd Bolen is providing links to all the active sites being excavated this year that are blogging their adventures. Christopher Rollston examines what was probably the most widely discussed and important archaeological discovery of the month, the Cuneiform tablet found in Jerusalem. Widely discussed too was the Hazor fragment which was claimed by some to show a connection with the Code of Hammurabi. Chris addresses that exaggerated claim as well. Don’t bypass his critique. But by far the most exciting discovery in July was of the gold coin discovered in Galilee which Antonio alerted us all to.
Robert Cargill tells us why he blogs and others should too. And speaking of Cargill, he appeared on the 27th of the month as the talking head in chief in a NatGeo special on the Dead Sea Scrolls that if you missed, you really missed something good. Along the same line with Cargill’s explanation for blogging comes a report by Matthew Kalman on the problem of ideologically driven archaeology, first pointed to here. Meanwhile Ari broke the news that the International Q Project has turned its attention to an examination of the Dead Sea Scrolls (and he’s mocking, of course- but it’s right amusing), and Chris told us of the Second Qumran Symposium.
Very happily our friend Israel Finkelstein has taken the plunge and set up a very, very nice website loaded with his essays and projects and other very useful things. It was announced amongst the blogging kingdom here. Yuval Goren published in July a very intriguing essay in the Journal of Archaeological Science relating to marine archaeology. Don’t miss it.
Only a few things fall into this subheading but I really think them important enough to pass on in hopes that they will get the kind of attention they deserve- and they are two posts by Nijay Gupta on the topic of blogging. Read them both. In my opinion biblioblogging isn’t slowing down nor is it danger of collapsing. Indeed, the upcoming SBL session in Atlanta on it will be loaded with informative and provocative papers. The problem of late simply seems to be that the one time ‘big name’ bloggers are occupied with other things for the time being. Chris Tilling is teaching a full load and trying to get his dissertation published; Chris Heard is working on his multi-volume Genesis commentary; Mark Goodacre had been traversing the globe; and others are simply not posting as much. It’s all part of the cyclical nature of writing itself. As everyone who has ever written anything knows, writing can come in fits and starts but once the muse moves, you must obey. I don’t think Nijay or others need to be concerned.
In addition, new bloggers are being added to the scene every month, so that despair or hand-wringing are just out of place.
On the other hand, hand wringing concerning the fraud called higher education is in order. The essay to which that link eventually leads is to a description of a new book which calls into question the industry of higher education and the fraud it is perpetrating on the public. It’s must reading.
The news wasn’t all good though. Lawrence Boadt died on the 24th after a long bout with cancer. May he rest in peace.
Thanks for visiting. And thanks as well to those who made suggestions. No Carnival can succeed without your watchful eyes. The next Carnival will be posted on 1 September, D.V. (Which is, by the way, just a few days after my 50th birthday….)
And – so for now – it is finished…
[NB- As this posts, please be aware that I am in California at the CBA Annual Meeting so if I don’t approve pending comments soon I will when I can].