Category Archives: Biblical Studies Resources

The Anniversary of James Barr’s Birth

James Barr was born in 1924 in Glasgow, Scotland, and received his schooling in

Barr at SBL one year

Edinburgh. In 1941 he entered the University of Edinburgh as an undergraduate to study classics, but left after one year for wartime service. He resumed his studies in 1945, at which time he met a fellow student of classics, whom he later married. Barr went on to obtain a doctorate from the University of Oxford, and from 1955 to 1961 he served as a professor of Old Testament at Edinburgh. In the course of his career, he also held professorships at Princeton, Manchester, Oxford and Vanderbilt. He is widely acknowledged as one of the leading biblical scholars of the twentieth century.

Barr first made his name in the arena of biblical scholarship with the publication of The Semantics of Biblical Language (1961). This book was a devastating critique of certain linguistic theories associated with the ‘biblical theology’ movement, such as the then-popular notion that vocabulary and structure of the Hebrew language reflect an underlying theological mindset distinct from, and at odds with, that indicated by the Greek language.

In the years following, Barr further developed his critique of prominent themes in the biblical theology movement, before turning his critical eye in the 1970s and 1980s toward the scholarship of Christian ‘fundamentalism’ and its approach to biblical interpretation. In a series of hard-hitting publications, Barr sought to expose what he took to be naïve and irresponsible handling of the Bible within such circles; even so, his assault was raised from a standpoint sympathetic to traditional Christian convictions about the authority of the biblical canon.

In February 1982 Barr delivered the Sprunt Lectures at Union Theological Seminary under the title ‘Holy Scripture: Canon, Authority, Criticism’, in which he presented a critique of the notion of ‘canonical criticism’ in opposition to the view propounded in Brevard Childs’s Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (1979).

He subsequently turned his attention to the question of natural theology, a topic first addressed in his Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh in 1991. Striking a blow at the foundations of the view that Christian theology must have nothing to do with natural theology (a stance propounded most famously by Karl Barth), Barr sought to construct a case for natural theology on the basis of Scripture and biblical scholarship.

James Barr died 14 October, 2006.

His works include: The Semantics of Biblical Language (1961); Old and New in Interpretation: A Study of the Two Testaments (1966); Comparative Philology and the Text of the Old Testament (1968); Fundamentalism (1977); Escaping from Fundamentalism (1984); Biblical Faith and Natural Theology (1993); The Concept of Biblical Theology: An Old Testament Perspective (1999). See also Samuel E. Balentine and John Barton, eds., Language, Theology, and the Bible: Essays in Honour of James Barr (1994).

The Rephaim: Sons of the Gods

In The Rephaim: Sons of the Gods, Jonathan Yogev provides a new theory regarding the mysterious characters, known as “Rephaim,” in Biblical and ancient Near Eastern literature. The Rephaim are associated with concepts such as death and the afterlife, divinity, healing, giants and monarchy among others. They appear in Ugaritic, Phoenician and Biblical texts, yet it is difficult to pinpoint their exact function and meaning. This study offers a different perspective, along with full texts, detailed epigraphic analysis and commentary for all of the texts that mention the Rephaim, in order to determine their specific importance in societies of the ancient Levant.

It came out a couple of years ago but I don’t recall hearing about it until today.  The publisher has sent along a review copy.  More anon.

The Book of Ruth

“Do not urge me to abandon you, to turn back from following after you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you lodge, I will lodge. Your people are my people, and your God is my God.”

In this pivotal verse, Ruth’s self-sacrificial declaration of loyalty to her mother-in-law Naomi forms the relationship at the heart of the book of Ruth. Peter H. W. Lau’s new translation and commentary explores the human and divine love at the center of the narrative as well as the book’s relevance to Christian theology.

In the latest entry in the New International Commentary on the Old Testament, Lau upholds the series’ standard of quality. The Book of Ruth includes detailed notes on the translation and pays careful attention to the original Hebrew and the book’s historical context, all the while remaining focused on Ruth’s relevance to Christian readers today. An indispensable resource for pastors, scholars, students, and all readers of Scripture, Lau’s commentary is the perfect companion to one of the most beloved books of the Old Testament.

Table of Contents

Structure and Message
Authorship and Date
The Hebrew Text
Theological Messages
Ruth and the New Testament
Text and Commentary
Act 1: Death and Emptiness (1:1–22)
Act 2: Seeking Short-Term Security (2:1–23)
Act 3: Seeking Permanent Security (3:1–18)
Act 4: Redemption and Fullness (4:1–22)

A review copy has arrived today.  More anon.

Luke the Chronicler: The Narrative Arc of Samuel-Kings and Chronicles in Luke-Acts

Coming in May, a volume sure to be of interest to many New Testament scholars.

This book proposes a fresh understanding of the literary composition of Luke-Acts. Picking up on the ancient practice of literary mimesis, the author argues that Luke’s two-part narrative is subtly but significantly modeled on the two-part narrative found in the books of Samuel-Kings and Chronicles. Specifically, Luke’s gospel presents Jesus as the promised, ultimate Davidide, while the Book of Acts presents the disciples of Jesus as the heirs of the kingdom of David. In addition to the proposal concerning the composition of Luke-Acts, the book offers compelling insights on the genre of Luke-Acts and the purpose of Acts.

And Now For Something Completely Different: A Half of a Carnival

This month I thought for the fun of it I’d do a half carnival.  I.e.,  offers readers the more interesting posts from across the globe as posted in the biblioblog universe for just the first half of the month.  Enjoy!

Hebrew Bible

Claims concerning a little ‘artifact’ inscribed with the name of Darius burst on the scene at the beginning of March with even the IAA itself declaring the little snippet of text ‘authentic’.  Some were rightly sceptical, as the fun little trinket was found on the surface and not in a controlled dig.  Others wanted to see for themselves before accepting the IAA’s verdict.  But at the end, it turns out that the thing was a modern piece of classroom instructional material completely invented by a Prof who put it on the ground and forgot to pick it up again.  Boy does the IAA have egg on its face now.  Perhaps going forward they will be a little more careful about vaunting unprovenanced materials.  Though to be fair with all the fakes discovered in recent years you’d think they’d know better by now.  Alas…

Much more edifying and scholarly is Sidnie Crawford White’s brilliant essay titled ‘My Journey With the Dead Sea Scrolls’.  Give it a read.  Turns out the Scrolls are cheap when it comes to paying for travel and lodging and food.  Sidnie had to pay for everything!  If she were Gen-Z she would set up a go fund me but she’s not so she’s a decent human being.

Anthony Ferguson also shared some thoughts on the Scrolls: i.e., the evolution of Tov’s understanding of them.  It’s pretty interesting.

Mark Leuchter did a really interesting (34 part) twitter thread on the now constantly recurring debate about David’s rape of Bathsheba.  If you missed it, read it now.

Judges 19 is the focus for this post on ordination exams for Presbyterians by Jan Edmiston.  Honestly, any post that begins [This post will make some readers unhappy.] has to find a spot in any Carnival.

Who did Cain marry? Eva Mroczek offers some thoughts drawn from Jewish tradition. Enjoy!

Who are the Rephaim?  A riddle.  Jonathan Yogev gives solving said riddle a go.  He’s most likely correct.

Curious about Jonah?  Want to read Jim Gordon’s thoughts on the book?  Now’s your chance!  There’s nothing fishy.  (Thank you, thank you, I’m here all week.  Be sure to tip the wait staff).

Want to excavate in Israel at a very important archaeological site in the North?  Then Jezreel is the place to be.  All the details about volunteering are available here.  Or do you prefer to excavate where the Philistine’s roamed?  Well you’re in luck because you can do that too.  Find the info here.

New Testament

James Crossley talked about Jesus as product of class struggle in a piece about his new book on the subject (written with one Robert Myles.

If numismatics is your bag, you will be interested in this post regarding the portrayal of kneeling conquered folk depicted on Roman coins.  Really great info.  Eye opening, as it were.

A-J Levine discusses the story of the woman caught in adultery in John’s Gospel.  As she rightly notes, contra the usual reading of the text, In terms of the woman herself, what people fail to ask usually is what happens to her at the end?  Jesus never says, “I forgive you.”  It’s not about forgiveness, but she’s simply left saying you’re not condemned.

It’s nice to see a couple of publications by my old friend George Raymond Beasley-Murray pop up in March on Rob Bradshaw’s resources page.  Go download them now.  Everything George wrote was absolute gold.

Dan McClellan offers a tick tock mini lecture on the meaning of the word ‘Magdalene’.  My own forays into tick tocking focus more on my incredible dance moves and mashups of kids running over their dads on skateboards.  I guess Dan is putting the platform to better use.


March was Women’s History Month and DeGruyter celebrated by offering a raft of materials for free (till April 10)- so you still have time to get in on the free-ness-ness of it.

The ‘Gospel Coalition’ hawked a garbage book based on trash eisegesis by a chap named Josh Butler who, to be completely fair, knows less about biblical exposition than Joel Osteen.  The article in TGC and the book itself were obliterated by actual scholars.  One of the better obliterations appeared from the pen (keyboard I suppose is more accurate) of Amy Peeler.  Enjoy.  And always remember, TGC is theological garbage.

Scribes and Scripture by Peter Gurry and John Meade was reviewed by Peter Montoro.  Montoro remarks … a truly excellent book that will surely become a staple in churches and seminaries all over the English-speaking world.  High praise indeed for a book I haven’t read.  How important could it be, then, hmmm?

Lindsay Kennedy (an Aussie… so I apologize in advance for including his post) reviewed a book titled AN INTERTEXTUAL COMMENTARY TO THE PSALTER: JUXTAPOSITION AND ALLUSION IN BOOK I.  Intertexuality is something like reception history but it’s the reception of biblical texts within biblical texts.  Neat, huh.  It’s like Paul quoting Psalms or Psalms quoting Genesis, etc.  It’s all the rage among the Gen-Z kids.  (When they aren’t playing Fortnite that is).

Becoming Elijah‘ was nicely reviewed by Alan Brill (no relation to the German publishing consortium).  I think if I were to become any of the Prophets, it would be Elisha.  He’s the best.  Well, after Jeremiah.

Michael Bird talks about some books in his latest Books, Books, Books episode on the YouTube.  The only interesting one is the one by Nijay Gupta.  The rest look really uninspiring.  Church Fathers, toxic masculinity, universalism?  Ick.

Niels Peter Lemche’s excellent book ‘Back to Reason’ was nicely reviewed in RBL.  It genuinely is a super book and you ought to read it if you haven’t yet.

Nijay Gupta’s excellent little book was released on March 14. A few hours previously he tweeted

@NijayKGupta — Excited to see folks are ordering #TellHerStory @ivpacademic, official release is in about 8 hours (March 14, 2023). God blessed so many women to lead, teach, and do dangerous and difficult ministry, we need to listen to, learn from, and imitate them!

If you missed it I reviewed it here.

Miscellaneous Stuff

The SBL tweeted– Registration for the 2023 Global Virtual Meeting is open! The meeting will be online 27-31 March 2023.  Access the preliminary program book here.

The Catholic University of America is offering Summer courses in Arabic, Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopic, Georgian, or Syriac. And they are all online! All the details are available here.  This is an amazing opportunity!

Bible and Archaeology (an initiative of the University of Iowa) tweets

@biblearch- Sign up for free today at Bible & Archaeology: . We know it can be hard to stay up with the week’s news, so we’ve created a newsletter that recaps content from the Bible & Archaeology website and YouTube channel.

This will doubtless be of interest to many.

The most exciting bit of news to come out in March was the announcement that the famous and the infamous NT Wrong will come out of retirement to host a biblioblog Carnival on April 1, after seven years of silence!  It will appear here.

And finally, if you’d like to keep up with the tweetings of most of the biblical scholars who tweet, you can follow this list.  If you know of others please drop me a note and I will add them.  Email



I hope you’ve enjoyed this half carnival.  The official carnival will appear on April 1, again, hosted by NT Wrong!  I’m very excited.  Maybe he/she/they will finally unveil the mystery of their identity!

Irony in the Bible: Between Subversion and Innovation

It is generally agreed that there is significant irony in the Bible. However, to date no work has been published in biblical scholarship that on the one hand includes interpretations of both Hebrew Bible and New Testament writings under the perspective of irony, and on the other hand offers a panorama of the approaches to the different types and functions of irony in biblical texts.

The following volume: (1) reevaluates scholarly definitions of irony and the use of the term in biblical research; (2) builds on existing methods of interpretation of ironic texts; (3) offers judicious analyses of methodological approaches to irony in the Bible; and (4) develops fresh insights into biblical passages.

Women’s History Month Resources from DeGruyter

Women’s History Month celebrates women’s vital contributions to society, past and present. To mark the occasion, we’re making some of our latest cutting-edge scholarship around the topic freely available for the entire month of March.*

Ranging from the fields of architecture through literary and cultural studies to theology, this multilingual collection of publications explores a variety of issues from across the arts, humanities and social sciences. From medieval strategists to groundbreaking physicists and influential architects, there’s nothing women can’t do. Join us in celebrating their extraordinary contributions! In addition, we’ve included a range of fascinating blog posts and videos, several of which were produced especially for this occasion. Start reading and watching now!

Happy browsing and Happy Women’s History Month to all!


*Free access will be granted until April 10. Open Access titles will remain accessible thereafter.

Call For Contributions

The Carnival is coming to town on April 1.  If you see any great posts on the topics of Hebrew Bible, New Testament, books, miscellaneous stuff, or the like related to biblical studies, do let me know so I can include them.

Especially if they are from lesser known blogs.  So that they can be popular.  Like me.

Hebrew between Jews and Christians

Though typically associated more with Judaism than Christianity, the status and sacrality of Hebrew has nonetheless been engaged by both religious cultures in often strikingly similar ways. The language has furthermore played an important, if vexed, role in relations between the two. Hebrew between Jews and Christians closely examines this frequently overlooked aspect of Judaism and Christianity’s common heritage and mutual competition.

Visit this link for the contents.

A review copy arrived today.

The Dismembered Bible: Cutting and Pasting Scripture in Antiquity

It is often presumed that biblical redaction was invariably done using conventional scribal methods, meaning that when editors sought to modify or compile existing texts, they would do so in the process of rewriting them upon new scrolls. There is, however, substantial evidence pointing to an alternative scenario: Various sections of the Hebrew Bible appear to have been created through a process of material redaction. In some cases, ancient editors simply appended new sheets to existing scrolls. Other times, they literally cut and pasted their sources, carving out patches of text from multiple manuscripts and then gluing them together like a collage. Idan Dershowitz shows how this surprising technique left behind telltale traces in the biblical text – especially when the editors made mistakes – allowing us to reconstruct their modus operandi. Material evidence from the ancient Near East and elsewhere further supports his hypothesis.

Reviewed this one for the SOTS Book List.  It will suffice here, I think, to say that this book is imaginative and brilliant and if the Hebrew Bible is an interest of yours, you should read it.  It is finely written (to understate the facts) and lushly illustrated.

Go now and get a copy on interlibrary loan or from your University library.

What Are they Saying About The Commentary


Doug Iverson writes

I am compelled to say, there is some gold writing and explanation in the commentary.

So that you can have a copy of the series for yourself, we’re offering The Commentary from now through Monday midnight in PDF from yours truly for the low price of $60, and you can purchase the entire set for yourself or for a friend by clicking my PayPal Link.

The Commentary is comprised of 42 individual volumes.

As always, please do not distribute or share.  Tell your friends to buy a copy themselves!

The Best Commentary Yet


Dr Jim West has undertaken the phenomenal task of writing a commentary on every book of the Bible! And what strikes this reader most forcefully is its faithfulness to what it says on the tin: West’s efforts have been expended “for the person in the pew”.

In other words, one should not expect the usual exhaustive analysis of syntax, interpretive options, history of scholarship and such like. These commentaries are written so that the reader needs no theological education, and West presupposes no ability to read Greek or Hebrew. Anyone can read and understand these.

The result is like going through the biblical texts, with a scholarly pastor, who pauses to make a number of bite-sized observations on the way. And whatever one thinks of those annotations, anyone can follow and digest them. West writes with a heart for the church, and his unique character and love for scripture are obvious in these pages.

Dr. Chris Tilling
New Testament Tutor,
St Mellitus College & St Paul’s Theological Centre

The PDF’s of the entire series are available. You can acquire them from yours truly for a paltry $75 by clicking my PayPal Link.  And be sure to include your email address so they can be sent to you.

Steven Fine Talks About His Book on the Samaritans

The Samaritans have been around since biblical times. They share history with the Jews, Christians, and Muslims; yet their identity is at odds with the people who trace their roots to ancient Israel. Who actually are Samaritans? And why did these biblical people turn into a micronation in this age?

In this new episode, Steven Fine, Dean Pinkhos Churgin Professor of Jewish History at Yeshiva University, and Director of the YU Center for Israel Studies and of the Israelite Samaritans Project, traces the history of the Samaritans from the ancient times to the present, while discussing his work, The Samaritans: A Biblical People.

You can listen here.