The Politics of Pessimism in Ecclesiastes: A Social-Science Perspective

I’ve read this for review in the Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament (so no review will appear here, sorry) and wish simply to say – well done Mark Sneed!

Scholars attempt to resolve the problem of the book of Ecclesiastes’ heterodox character in one of two ways, either explaining away the book’s disturbing qualities or radicalizing and championing it as a precursor of modern existentialism. This volume offers an interpretation of Ecclesiastes that both acknowledges the unorthodox nature of Qoheleth’s words and accounts for its acceptance among the canonical books of the Hebrew Bible. It argues that, instead of being the most secular and modern of biblical books, Ecclesiastes is perhaps one of the most religious and primitive. Bringing a Weberian approach to Ecclesiastes, it represents a paradigm of the application of a social-science methodology.

Sneed’s approach is novel and constructive and really quite eye-opening; shedding light on Ecclesiastes from a new angle and so a productive one.   You can see the TOC and read the Introduction here.

Anthony LeDonne: Why I’m Glad He’s Joined Our Blogging Family and Why Blogging Really, Actually Matters

In spite of the hold-out poo-poo-ers who think blogging is something pointless, Anthony’s case in point is an excellent illustration as to why it does, in fact, matter rather a lot.  His case could be multiplied a number of times.  For, the truth is, without the proactive work of our bibliobloggers, scam artists and film makers and deceivers would still be foisting off fraudulent antiquities, forged artifacts, false and unsupported claims, and other generally wicked nonsense onto the gullible public unchallenged and unhindered.

Bloggers are the ‘first line of defense’ against misinformation and misprision concerning biblical studies and ‘biblical’ archaeology.  And I, for one, among many, am glad that Anthony has joined in.  I think, and am fairly sure, that others will too.

Porn Destroys Lives, and Marriages, Because it Destroys Intimacy

A fine albeit brief essay at Keine Tricks-Nur Jesus titled Pornosucht: “Ich habe durch Pornos alles kaputt gemacht” is so very much worth reading because the subject is so very, very important.

Here’s the first paragraph-

“Ich habe durch Pornos alles kaputt gemacht”, seufzt mancher. Das mag natürlich gerne sein. Aber vergessen wir niemals — ganz gleich, was in unserem Leben geschehen ist, oder was wir selber angestellt haben —, daß es nichts gibt, was Gott nicht jederzeit wieder richten kann. Und auch zum Guten hin verändern wird, wenn wir mit aufrichtigem Herzen bereuen und im Gebet und in der Bibel ihn und seinen Willen für unser Leben zu erkennen versuchen.

And here’s the last-

Der Teufel will immer alles kaputt machen und versucht, uns unsere Kraft zu rauben, indem er uns an jeden Mist erinnert, den wir begangen haben oder begehen. Aber Jesus ist ganz anders als der Teufel. Jesus ist da, um uns zu retten. Völlig egal, wie tief wir auch im sündhaften Sumpf versunken sind. Vergessen wir auch nicht: Jesus kam ja nicht auf die Welt, um mit den Guten Tee zu trinken und lecker Kuchen zu essen; Jesus kam, um die Kaputte, die Fertigen, die Hoffnungslosen an die Hand zu nehmen und zu retten. Jesus kam wegen den Kaputten; nicht wegen denen, die ihn ohnehin nicht brauchen.

Read everything in between.

I’ve Met Con Campbell… He’s Tall for an Australian

Isn’t it funny how we determine the norm for a people according to the first person of that place or group we meet?  The first Aussie I met was Mike Bird.  So, I naturally assumed that all Aussies were petite red heads.  And then the giant Con Campbell and I chatted for a minute at SBL one year and it occurred to me that he must have been adopted.

I mention all that for no reason other than to point out that Con has a book coming out quite soon with Zondervan which I imagine will be of substantial interest to those in the field:

Colloquia Reminder

For new readers, and forgetful old ones-

I’m happy to announce that Jodi Magness has agreed to join us on the Biblical Studies List for a colloquium (discussion) on her just published volume, The Archaeology of the Holy Land: From the Destruction of Solomon’s Temple to the Muslim Conquest. It’s available in paperback from Amazon for $28. A bargain.  Our discussion will take place November 1-10 and if you would like to take part, – Get the book, and read it. Then, when the time comes, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with Prof. Magness and other leading scholars on the contents.

I’m also pleased to announce that Avraham Faust has also agreed to join us on the List for a colloquium scheduled for December 2-10. His book, also just published, Judah in the Neo-Babylonian Period, is available from SBL.

And Eric Meyers of Duke University will join us January 13-20, 2013 to discuss his new volume, Alexander to Constantine.

We are thrilled to have them all as our guests.

  • Colloquia (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)

Is The U.K. Really the Home of Scholarly Discontent?

British academics are by a large margin the least satisfied in Europe – and the most likely to wish they had pursued other careers – according to a survey of more than 13,000 respondents from 12 countries.  This is the notable finding of a paper by Ester Ava Höhle and Ulrich Teichler, junior researcher and professor, respectively, at the University of Kassel’s International Centre for Higher Education Research.

On a scale ranging from 1 (very high satisfaction) to 5 (very low satisfaction), senior academics from the UK averaged 2.61, well behind top-scoring Switzerland (1.92) and Croatia (2.0), and even nearest rivals Portugal (2.33) and the Republic of Ireland (2.47).  Although junior academics express less satisfaction across the Continent, the results again show those in the UK to be least happy (2.77), with their peers in Croatia most satisfied (2.13).

That doesn’t really jive with the academics I know from the U.K.  They seem pretty content and pretty happy to me.  Sure, they grouse, but for heaven’s sake they’re British – grousing is in their nature (my ancestors are British… and Swiss… so I’m naturally inclined towards cold-blooded calculating grousing).

No, I’m not buying it.  Either the study is just wrong or the folk surveyed weren’t biblical scholars.

Congratulations Europe, You Won!

But as Steve Inskeep points out on the twitter, you Europeans won’t be getting much…

Steve Inskeep ‏@NPRinskeep  — Do all 500 million residents of the EU get to split the Nobel Peace Prize money? That would be $.0024 each.

Honestly I’m not sure how you’ve deserved it. The North Korean regime has been less involved in war.