Daily Archives: 1 Dec 2017

A Word of Advice to Ministerial Candidates

‪If you are a ministerial student and you aren’t outraged and annoyed when the poor are abused and the rich take advantage of them, get out of the ministry altogether. Jesus drove the moneychangers out of the Temple, he didn’t politely ask them to leave.‬

This Is Why I Literally Hate it When the Media Discusses Some New ‘Find’ Related to the Bible…

The utter ineptitude and bloated idiotic exaggerated claims… are infuriating.

First, the moronic misleading headline-

Ancient copy of Jesus’s secret papyrus teachings to his brother discovered

‘Jesus secret papyrus teachings’ – nope. ‘To his brother’ – nope. ‘Discovered’ – nope. The apocryphal text has been known for ages. It isn’t a secret papyrus teachings (whatever the Sheol that’s supposed to be) of Jesus.

And then it gets dumb-

Biblical scholars have discovered the first-known copy of a heretical text, which is thought to hold the secret teachings of Jesus to his brother James. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found the manuscript at Oxford University.

Who exactly thinks it actually contains anything Jesus actually taught? Anyone? Anyone reputable?

The writings are on a small piece of papyrus and are thought to be part of the Apocalypse of James, a book of the Bible that was banned by Emperor Constantine and was not part of the New Testament released in 367AD by Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.

We’ve known about the Apocalypse of James for a long time. But it was never a ‘book of the Bible’ (you idiots) and the New Testament wasn’t ‘released in 367 AD’ (you feckless imbeciles).

And then it just gets boring-

The text was part of the The Nag Hammadi Library —a collection of 13 Coptic Gnostic books that were first discovered in Egypt more than 70 years ago in 1945. The codices were reportedly hidden in a jar in the Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi around 1,400 years ago and can be traced back to a time between the 2nd and 6th century CE.

Old news.

Unlike the rest of the documents, the fragments recently discovered were not written in Coptic but in Greek.


“This new discovery is significant in part because it demonstrates that Christians were still reading and studying extra-canonical writings long after Christian leaders deemed them heretical,” Geoffrey Smith, an assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Texas at Austin and one of the two scholars who made the discovery, told Newsweek.

It demonstrates no such thing. What it shows is that someone had a copy of something that was so irrelevant that there aren’t any copies like it around. That shows that people were NOT reading it, not that they were. If it had been wildly popular there probably would have been numerous copies of it found through the centuries and not just one copy stuffed away in a library where it had long ago been discovered and deemed so meaningless that it was shoved away and forgotten. They didn’t find this in some desert. They found it at an impressive University library.  They didn’t ‘discover’ anything.  They rediscovered something that someone had seen long ago.

And then we’re back to stupid-

The ancient document reportedly describes secret teachings Jesus shared with his brother James, and includes information about the heavenly realm and future events, including James’ inevitable death. “The text supplements the biblical account of Jesus’ life and ministry by allowing us access to conversations that purportedly took place between Jesus and his brother, James — secret teachings that allowed James to be a good teacher after Jesus’ death,” Smith said.

No it doesn’t. It makes crap up and tells stories that would have been listened to by few and believed by even fewer. Making this sort of thing the cornerstone of some sort of reconstruction of the early Church is like archaeologists finding a scrap of a book by Paula White 500 years from now and reconstructing 21st century Christianity on the basis of it. It makes a suit out of a button.

And now we’re back to utter silliness-

For many, the suggestion that James was a blood relative of Jesus is a matter of debate. In 2002, archaeologists discovered a 2,000-year-old ossuary or “bone box” with Aramaic inscriptions that translated to: “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”.

Ugh. Not that garbage again.

If proved to be true, this would be the first-of-its-kind of evidence to indicate that Jesus has siblings. “The New Testament says nothing about Mary being a perpetual virgin, it says she virginally conceived Jesus, and it certainly implies that she went on to have more children after that, and his brothers and sisters are in fact his brothers and sisters,” Ben Witherington, a professor of New Testament Interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary, had earlier told CNN in 2015.

Ugh… make it stop, God. Make. It. Stop.

Rob Bell Has Written His Most Sensible Essay to Date

This is Rob Bell at his very best.  This is, literally, the best he can do.

Op-Ed: When We Learn To Zim To God’s Zum, Red Potato Pepper Cascading At The Burning Of Dawn.

Zim. It’s not just a nonsensical word I made up: it’s the key. The experience. The journey. The God-Fountain of humanity. And maybe God isn’t this angry God up in the sky somewhere. Maybe He’s not even real, who knows. Maybe He’s not who the Bible says He is. Maybe—just maybe—this great Unknown Light-God wants you to Zim, not to the zimless rhythms of the world, but to the love-infused grace of His or Xer Zum.

When we do this, when we find our Zimzum in the simmering stews of God’s love, we’ll find our peppered potatoes not shivering, but cascading. Cascading freely. Cascading beautifully. Cascading with the passion and freedom of a beautiful, broken mess that’s found who it’s supposed to be. It’s the great tragedy of modern evangelicalism that we’ve turned the beautiful spud-filled love story of the mystic divine into a way to get to heaven, rather than the unknowable fog of potato-laced mystery it was always supposed to be. Potatoes. Potatoes cascading in the center of who we are. Peppering the frothy fuzz of our core. Cascading at the burning. The burning of dawn. It’s the zim that God wants you to zum. Resonate with your Zimzum, and be freed from the shackles of religion.

Mike Pence Is Starting to Dream of Sitting in the Big Chair

Hopefully though he will be too busy in prison for conspiring against America.

The Wide-Ranging 2017 Biblical Studies Carnival and SBL Annual Meeting Edition

This month, besides blogposts and the like, I’m going for a true ‘Biblical Studies’ Carnival, which means that news stories, blog posts, and other sources of biblical joy are included in what follows, in a true Carnival of Things.  In other words, if it’s biblical studies related stuff, you’ll find it here in this joyful Carnival, which I’m calling ‘The Wide-Ranging 2017 Biblical Studies Carnival and SBL Annual Meeting Edition‘.  Enjoy!

Hebrew Bible Merry-Go-Round

Michael Langlois discussed the reception of the Torah in deuterocanonical literature in a lead up to the discussion of the same topic at SBL.  My chief regret in missing SBL this year was missing my annual lunch with Michael and hanging out even if ever so briefly with Thomas Römer and Ralph Keen.  *Next Year in Denver, DV*.

The Dead Sea Scrolls forgery scandal continued to make news in November and notice was given of a series of lecture videos from a conference on the topic.  And it even made Live Science. Speaking of the Scrolls, do give this podcast with John Collins a listen.  He discusses Scrolls and other interesting topics.

The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew is on the Twitter- so naturally you’ll want to follow them.  Because it’s a Hebrew Dictionary.  On Twitter.

James Spinti has a post on imprecatory prayers.  They’re my favorite.  Whenever anyone asks me to pray for them, I pray imprecations because 1) that’s what I assume they want unless told otherwise and 2) they’re my favorite prayer genre.  Would any of you like me to pray for you, or a ‘friend’?

Here’s a discussion of Hebrew poetry.  I think you might enjoy it.

Bible and Interpretation had a nifty book excerpt on a study of Ruth that is worth your time if you haven’t already seen it.  William Ross, meanwhile, had an interview with Ben Wright about the Septuagint.  It’s worth a read.

Meanwhile, OT folk didn’t have time to blog because they were in Boston for SBL.

New Testament Midway

Alin Suciu had an interesting little snippet about the appearance of Egyptian hieroglyphs in a Canon table.  You don’t see that every day, do ya?  In the ‘exciting news’ department, word of the impending publication in English of Peter Stuhlmacher’s absolutely brilliant New Testament Theology brought a pitter patter to this darkened heart.  That work in English has been long desired.  And it is, without question, the best NT theology since Bultmann’s.  In some respects it’s better.

Mark Goodacre is on the YouTube, denying Q.  Very dastardly.  Very.  I do like it that they filmed the clip at Mark’s house though, in the entry hallway.  Very cool.

Paul Long has some thoughts on dealing with people who disagree with you.  Personally I can’t use his advice because if anyone disagrees with me I know they’re mentally unstable.  But you folk might find it useful.

The STEP Bible now includes the Tyndale House (Cambridge) Greek New Testament.  Take a look.  And remember, you can download the software for your personal use.

Always on the cutting edge, the Jesus Blog gives notice of a book that was published back in 2014.  Stay tuned, as next month they tell us about a new book they’ve discovered by a little known chap named Schweitzer on the quest for the historical Jesus!

If you’re looking for a job teaching New Testament in Geneva, this post is for you.

Someone is said to have discovered a ‘lost text’ in Codex Bezae.  But if it’s been discovered it can’t be lost….  Re-discovered, sure.  Discovered?  Nah.

Peter Williams had an interesting discussion on the parable of the sower.  Take a look.  Phil Long does a nice job discussing faith and action in a post on Titus.  He may be from Texas, but he still makes sense from time to time.

Taylor’s talking about Whiteness and objectivity in NT studies and that sort of thing.  I’m not really into all that race talk because I don’t see color.  Or sex.  People are just people to me.  Evidently some of you are different though.  Anyway, Taylor wraps it up here.  I think he’s white.  I don’t know, like I said I don’t see color.

Larry posted some observations on the new edition of the Greek New Testament published by Crossway and produced by the wise folk at Tyndale House, Cambridge.  It’s a good overview of a good edition.

Not to be missed for any reason is the University of Nottingham playlist of videos on New Testament topics.

Larry *Chris Tilling is a Doofus* Hurtado had some kind words to say about a New Testament manuscript website.  You should read his post and check out the site.  It’s quite useful indeed.

Oh, and NT Wright is teaching a course on one of his books.  I’m sure some of you will want to spend your money on it so that your poor little children go unfed and your cat dies from neglect.

Tim Bulkeley wanted me to include this.  I’m not sure why.  He thought it was brilliant- and calls it in comments there the best post ever.  Not to me.  But perhaps Tim (and you) sees something that I’m missing.

Finally- Zurich hasn’t blogged all month.  Heartbreaking.  It’s normal for the slacker clans to ignore their blogging duties but when Zurich does it… the end is near.  Sell your stuff, move to a mountain top, and just wait.

Archaeology Arcade

A very fine resource for those interested in the Old Testament and Archaeology was published in November.  I highly recommend it.  So, what is it?  Go here to find out!  And be sure to catch up with what’s going on at Gath with Aren’s arcade-esque flurry post.

There’s a fun 3d tour of Qumran here that’s pretty engaging.  If you’ve been, it will bring back memories.  If you haven’t, it’s a great way to get a fresh look at a well known location.

Moss and Baden team up to talk about that supposed ‘fragment of Mark’ found in that Egyptian mummy.  Good stuff.

In Rome there was a meeting at which they discussed recent finds related to early Christianity in Jerusalem.  If you missed it, perhaps the organizers will provide you with the details.

Some guy (I couldn’t find his name on his blog- it must be very secret) shared some thoughts about the annual ASOR meeting.  Interesting take.  Be more interesting if it weren’t anonymous.

They found male skeletons at Qumran.  This is right interesting.  “33 skeletons recently unearthed at Qumran could offer clues to the origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered in 11 nearby caves between 1947 and 1956. Anthropologist Yossi Nagar of the Israel Antiquities Authority said the bones were radiocarbon dated to 2,200 years ago, or about the same time that the texts were written.”

Sarah Bond has a neat essay in Forbes Magazine about listening to ancient music in our time.  Great stuff.  Take a look and a listen.

The CSTT has a policy statement regarding its treatment of unprovenanced stuff.  Give it a read if you haven’t already.

Otherwise, the archaeologists were all off doing other things besides working in November.  It must be the month they take off or something.

SBL: The 2017 Side-Show (a.k.a. Freak Show)

I won’t be mentioning anything from AAR even though it meets at the same time and place as SBL – except this singular tweet- Great paper at #AAR17 by Meghan Johnston Aelabouni on ‘Playmobile Luther: Resisting anti-Judaism in the Iconization of Luther'”.  That’s something I would have attended.  In spite of it being an AAR session.

And like this kid, I’m kind of envious… until I hear about the weather in Boston, and then I’m cool with having skipped it this year.  Yikes.  “Trying hard not to be jealous of the folks getting their Hebrew-nerd on in Boston for #aarsbl17. Would love to hear some highlights.”

Amongst the bizarre-ities of this year’s SBL was a session on Greek Linguistics where they focused on those mysterious prepositions.  I wasn’t there, but I sure hope they finally got the meanings of those mysteries worked out.  Francesca Stravalo…. oh forget it read a paper which included the line ‘to a certain extent religion is just like porn’.  If you were at her session, you heard the context.  If you weren’t, maybe she’ll share her paper with you.

For those of you hesitant to attend SBL’s annual meeting, just know, there’s a session for every single conceivable sub-group-Attending Pregnant in the Field session in Sheraton Public Garden Room #sblaar17 #aarsbl17 #WomanistMomma.   But if giving birth isn’t your bag, maybe war is…  “Today @ 9AM: Joshua Canzona, John Chappo, John Laaman, Chip Kooi, and Joshua Jeffery discuss Religion and World War I during the Religion and War Exploratory Panel! Come see us! HCC-203

Doug Boin mentioned his forthcoming work- For my friends at #SBLAAR17: a new book, coming soon! (I’m pretty sure the content on this page is still being finessed, but here it is anyway).  http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1119077001.html

The University of Alabama Department of Religion tweeted- “Following and tweeting about #sblaar17? Our MA students are archiving #sblaar17 tweets to see what they can tell us about the academic study of religion”  That’s right, all your food and booze tweets are now part of a study…

Also for SBL attendees a resource for those who are subjected to mistreatment- SBAllies.  Several folk you know are involved.  Here’s their self-declared purpose:  “Our primary purpose is to give you a place to air your frustrations and talk through what you want to do next. It is a judgment-free zone.”  I have to say that I’m very surprised that I wasn’t invited to be a part.  Indeed, the more I think of it, the more I need a hug.

Chris Rollston was there.  Pity to miss this one- Now, Christopher Rollston on 20th/21st CE forged Hebrew inscriptions and the false presupposition that “hard scientific” facts and tests don’t need to be interpreted and contextualized. Rollston notes that it’s surprisingly easy to forge with ancient papyri and ink composed in ancient ways — thus, the “scientific facts” of a papyrus do not prove it is real or that it isn’t forged.”For too long, scholars have assumed a “stupid forger” that doesn’t know how to trick scholars — thus assuming that many forgers aren’t in fact TRAINED by scholars.

Fun news for those interested in studying the Qur’an- “Not long until qurangateway.org launches at #SBLAAR17 — come to our session and reception on Monday and find out more.”  Of course now it’s too late to go, but you can still check out the site.

The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew (yes, that’s a twitter account), tweets SBL 17 *The Vocabulary of Classical Hebrew: New Facts and Figures* Latest news from the Dictionary of Classical Hebrew Project— David J.A. Clines will be presenting, Monday 20th November, at the 4pm-6.30pm session in Boston (S20-311).  If you missed it.  The paper is here.

Even though women are involved in SBL,Wonderful session this afternoon on Warfare in Ancient Israel! 3/5 papers were female presenters & Q’s posed by women (inc.me!) #aarsbl17″  it’s pretty clear that more women need to get involved…   – The #nerdcation continues with a session on the linguistics of questions in Greek. Definitely at #SBLAAR17: I’m the only female in the room.”

It’s also pretty clear that this youngster is the winner of the #hashtag award for #sblaar17 – and maybe for all time-  Some facetime with the Dura Fragment. #DisserTatian

Our friends at Sheffield Phoenix Press tweeted “A #sblaar17 panel on ‘Feminist Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in Retrospect’ @_SusanneScholz (ed.), on Sunday 4pm–6.30pm. All 3 vols (info. here bit.ly/2zERReo) new in paperback. @SBLsite @ShefPhoenix /#aarsbl17”    That would have been a good session to hang out in.

One of the sessions that looked particularly interesting was this one:50s- Prof. Reynolds responds to Mustafa Akyol’s “The Islamic Jesus””

I think you’ll want to ponder this little factoid from the meeting-Amazing message by Dr. Sandra Richter, OT scholar. If revival breaks out in the Academy, she would be one of the sparks #SBLAAR17″ 

Oh and, hey, while you’re at those interesting sessions, when someone is presenting, stop talking.  Especially if you’re on the front row….

Todd Brewer wrote up a three part report on the meeting- so be sure to give it a look.  Part three is here.  Two is here.  One is here.

If you missed the fun this year, be sure to be in Denver next.  And yes, DV, you’ll get to see me there.  You’re welcome.  Or, as Eric van der Gerbil put it- “SBL always leaves me a combination of refreshed and exhausted. I’m supremely thankful for the opportunity to reconnect with old friends, to make new ones, and, of course, to learn from all of you. Safe travels for all who are heading out today. Next year in Denver!”

Book Review House of Mirrors

A review of the very recent book titled ‘The Dictionary of the Bible and Ancient Media’ was posted early in the month.  It’s a review you’ll just have to read.  James Spinti reviewed a volume for young readers on Irenaeus, which I am including here in spite of the fact that it isn’t exactly a biblical studies volume but which deserves wide attention precisely because it’s for young readers.  Kids need to learn stuff that matters.

A short review of a new commentary on James is posted at Exegetical Tools.  If you aren’t familiar with that site, you aren’t alone.  And its title refers not to doofus exegetes (as one might suspect) but about the tools one uses for exegesis.

In true mirror-esque fashion John Meade informs us that his book (which no one has reviewed) is on sale.  I guess if such matters are a concern of yours, you’ll want to read this volume.

There’s a new review out of ‘The Earliest Alphabet’ that you’ll want to take a look at.

Miscellaneous Cotton Candy and Other Junk Food

Roberta Mazza is always vigilant when it comes to drawing our attention to antiquities that come from shady sources.  She shared a news report of the widespread presence of such artifacts online.  It’s worth repeating: if an antiquity shows up for sale, without clear provenance and proper documentation for legitimate sale, it’s looted.  She also has some info about the so called ‘Gospel of Judas‘.  She also drew our attention to an essay on Hobby Lobby and their Bible Museum in, of all places, the Wall Street Journal.

The Call for Papers has been issued for the EuARe Conference coming up in March.  All the details are here.

Bible Gateway has added the NRSV to its collection of app bibles.  Download instructions here.

Christian Brady pointed out this really important essay about mental health and PhD students.  If you’re a grad student, or you work with grad students, do give it a look.

Sage is offering free access to its religion journals as long as you register by NOVEMBER 30.   Oops…. I guess the offer has past.  Darn Carnival scheduling.  Oh well.  Maybe you should read my blog, where mention was made of this in mid November, in plenty of time for you to sign up…

John Barclay tells us what makes a good biblical scholar.  In stunning brevity.  Meanwhile Taylor Weaver tells the story of a person who is decidedly NOT a biblical scholar, even though Taylor doesn’t use the right word- dilettante.

Speaking of dilettantes- plagiarism.  Again.  By a ‘senior scholar’ who thought it would be cool to cut giant chunks of material from someone else and all he got for it was the public recognition that he stole and was forced to re-do his work (whilst his institution, SEBTS, did and said nothing about it).  #SorryNotSorry but if you plagiarize you’re a thief, and a dilettante.  Elsewise, you would just do your own work.

There’s a new facebook group for nearly everything even remotely related to biblical studies and all adjacent disciplines and sub-disciplines: Academic Biblical, Archaeological, Jewish, Christian, and Related Studies.

The End of the Show

Well, that’s it.  Visit next month’s Carnival hosted by someone somewhere.  Joel Watts, sing us out…


Quote of the Day

When someone upright renounces uprightness to do evil and I set a trap for him, it is he who will die; since you failed to warn him, he will die for his guilt, and the uprightness he practised will no longer be remembered. (Ezek. 3:20)

We Finally Know What Paul’s ‘Thorn in the Flesh’ Was!

Researchers at a top Christian university Friday revealed a stunning find, as linguistic scholars have at long last pinpointed the ambiguous phrase “thorn in my flesh” used by Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians to be a reference to the seasonal pop ballad “Last Christmas” by English pop duo Wham!.

Biblical commentators have been divided on the phrase for years, with many surmising it was some kind of physical ailment, and others supposing that it was a personal struggle with sin.

But the new theory that it was in fact Wham!’s “Last Christmas” playing on repeat makes perfect sense, according to Bible scholars.

“Ridiculous lyrics, repetitive synth melody, George Michael’s voice, the fact that it’s played nonstop for a full month every year—it has all the required elements of a messenger of Satan sent to torment the Apostle. It’s definitely something that you’d beg the Lord to depart from you three times, anyway,” Dr. Robert Percival, head of the school’s New Testament program, said in a press conference Friday.

“Dang it, now it’s in my head again. Ugh,” he added.

Dr. Percival further stated that a newly unearthed letter fragment dated to the mid-first century assisted in cracking the code of the opaque phrase. “Everywhere I go, that blasted song is on—everywhere,” the author, assumed to be Paul, wrote in the scathing missive. “There’s never any good classic Christmas hymns playing. The song’s not even about Christmas, for crying out loud—it just mentions the holiday in passing!”

“Please, Lord, make it stop!” he added.

Yup.  Totally legit.

Franklin Graham Either Has A Mental Illness or He Is a Drug Addict

Because only someone mentally ill or on some kind of drugs could say what he just said.  And it’s a shame too because his charity used to do really fine work. We do need to pray for Trump- that he repent and come to Christ. And we need to pray for Graham too, that he be freed from the demons tormenting him.

The Catholic Biblical Association Emerging Scholars Program

Dear Members,

The deadline for the Emerging Scholars Program is January 15th. This is a great opportunity to help younger scholars to experience CBA and to help them build their CV. All necessary information is found on our website at https://catholicbiblical.org/grants/emerging-scholars-fellowship.

Blessed Advent to you all,
Joe Atkinson

You grad students should check it out.  CBA is brilliant.

This is Why I Simply Cannot Stand the GOP

The hypocrisy… unbelievable.

President of nation where toddlers kill more people than terrorists tells Britain how to act

And that’s how the Independent totally roasts the ridiculous ‘President’ of the United States.

The Logos Free Book of the Month


The Dumbest Thing I’ve Read in Ages

A C of E ‘minister’ says Christians should pray that Prince George be gay.

And all this time we’ve been told being gay isn’t a choice- you’re born that way….

Y’all are going to have to make up your minds.

Not to mention the dumbness of asking Christians to pray for such a thing in the first place…