Category Archives: Biblical Studies Resources

The EBAF YouTube Channel

Is here.  Along with Tom’s lecture (posted previously) they have a couple of other lectures and soon, hopefully, Thomas Römer’s delivered yesterday.

Tom Thompson on Esau

News From Zurich

Saturday Book Notes: The Commentary

Everyone needs a commentary on the Bible that they can understand and that answers their questions about the meaning of the text.  So I wrote one for lay people on the whole Bible.

The set runs $75.  This very low cost has been decided upon because I’m very keen to make it accessible to a lay audience.  At $75 it’s less than any other commentary on the entire Bible, so a bargain indeed.   Listen to Prof Dr Ralph Keen- ‘$75 is a mere fraction of its true value!’

So if you or someone you know has wanted to get a copy of the collection in PDF format, you can do so from yours truly for $75 by clicking my PayPal Link.


[I] wanted to thank you for your commentary set I recently acquired. My daughter Chloe (age 11) and I are using the one on Mark as we read through and discuss the gospel every second evening. It helps shed light on the text without being academically burdensome for us to work through. .. [Y]our comments are pitched wonderfully for anyone wanting to begin serious engagement with the text. It also complements the more ‘scholarly’ works. – Blessings, David Booth


#ICYMI – Philip Davies is on

daviesAnd he’s uploaded several papers.  Most recently-  The History of Ancient Israel and Judah.  And previously ‘Ancient Israel’ and History:A Response to Norman Whybray and Dualism and Eschatology in 1Qm and first of all Reading and Teaching the Bible.


A Michael Langlois Public Lecture

A Classic From the Vault: Helmut Koester on Hector Avalos

This nifty piece ran a few years back and since it has been a slow news day I thought I would do what others have done and post a ‘classic’. And this one is.  That’s for sure.

BAR Most Loved and Most Reviled

koesterPerhaps I should not be surprised that a scholar who has advocated a Biblical nihilism and has recommended that Biblical studies should be “tasked with eliminating completely the influence of the Bible in the modern world” would launch an attack on the discipline of Biblical archaeology and on a magazine that is Biblical archaeology’s most important outlet.

In the May/June “First Person” column by Professor Hector Avalos, as well as his book from which this column is taken, Professor Avalos criticizes not only the policies of *BAR* and its editor, he also questions the legitimate existence of the entire complex of Jewish and Christian religion in the United States, its Biblical base and its relationship to the academic discipline of Biblical studies, to wit, the Society of Biblical Literature—a formidable task indeed! What would be required for such an endeavor, however, is knowledge of the realities of American religious life and Biblical scholarship in general, as well as of the details of controversial issues in present debates. Unfortunately, Professor Avalos reveals a deep ignorance in both respects.

The reality is that both Judaism and Christianity depend upon the Bible. The Bible is their book of law and morality, their source of inspiration and worship, of consolation in sorrow and of festive celebration. The suggestion that the modern world does not need this book at the same time recommends the complete elimination of these Bible-based religions. This is not only preposterous, but it reveals a complete lack of understanding of what Professor Avalos calls “the modern world.” His “modern world” is a fiction in his mind that has no relationship to reality.

As for *BAR *, Professor Avalos off-handedly characterizes it as a journal that “has served Biblical education well in some cases and badly in others” creates the impression that about half of its content belongs to the latter category. He then proceeds to draw a caricature of some of its articles as if this were the kind of thing to which *BAR* was mostly committed. This is far from the truth.

Most of its articles are well-reasoned and well-documented presentations of good scholarship. To be sure, some are controversial—scholars disagree on interpretations of archaeological as well as literary materials—but that is the normal business of scholarship. Does Professor Avalos, claiming to be a scholar, not know that?

In fact the more controversial articles and opinions have served a very important purpose. The albeit-illegal publication of unpublished material from the Dead Sea Scrolls broke a deadlock that many had unsuccessfully tried to do for many years.

It was during the year of my presidency of the Society of Biblical Literature that the society accepted a free-access policy, which had successfully been applied in the process of the publication of the Nag Hammadi Codices (first: publication of a facsimile; second: publication of a preliminary translation; third: critical editions of all documents). But we were never been able to convince scholars involved in the publication of the scrolls to follow the same procedure. Thanks to *BAR*’s bold move to publish some unpublished texts, the deadlock was finally broken. Professor Avalos recognizes this; but is this part of *BAR*’s scandalous behavior?

Then there is the accusation that *BAR* is biased because it calls Professor Frank Cross a friend of Israel and the late Professor John Strugnell an anti-Semite, both Harvard colleagues of mine. This is not bias; it is a statement of a fact. I have known for decades that John Strugnell believed in Christian supersessionism.

Moreover, *BAR *’s seemingly offensive comments about Elisha Qimron are justified in many ways.  That Hershel Shanks has been found guilty by an Israeli court of violating Qimron’s copyright in the translation does not make him a criminal but rather a saint—if there is something like that in Judaism! Qimron has never revealed that the translation of the controversial Dead Sea Scroll known as MMT  was primarily the work of John Strugnell, who never got due recognition for his work.

Professor Avalos also cites as  *BAR *’s “competitive nature” Hershel Shanks’s criticism of the National Geographic’s publication of the Gospel of Judas.  On the contrary, he should have congratulated *BAR* for this critique! The publication of this document by the National Geographic was a scandal. The scholar entrusted with the translation, Marvin Meyer, violated the free-access statement of the scholarly society [the Society of Biblical Literature], of which he is a member. To his detriment, numerous major mistakes in his translation have now been discovered.

This could have been avoided if Marvin Meyer or whoever would be entrusted with its publication had allowed fellow scholars in the field of Coptic studies to discuss this Coptic text before the appearance of the first English translation. What Hershel Shanks wrote, calling attention to the scandal of National Geographic’s publication of this text, was exactly right and has been confirmed by subsequent scholarly investigations.

I shall refrain from setting the record straight on other examples of Professor Avalos’s caricature of *BAR *. More important is a consideration of the fundamental and important role that *BAR * has been playing in the concert of Bible and archaeology. There was once another popular journal, /Biblical Archaeologist/, founded by my former Harvard colleague and prominent archaeologist G. Ernest Wright. In its first years, *BAR * competed with this journal. The American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), under whose auspices it was published, however, decided to change the name of this publication to /Near Eastern Archaeologist/, since it seemed to the leaders of this society that the name “Biblical” was odious (Professor Avalos evidently agrees with that judgment!). This was done by ASOR after the vast majority of the subscribers rejected such a change of the title. The result was that subscribers interested in the Bible (including me) discontinued their subscription. This makes *BAR * and Hershel Shanks’s Biblical Archaeology Society the only player in the field. Courageously this magazine alone holds up the torch of a scholarly outlet in this important area, although the very name “Biblical” combined with the world of a scholarly discipline—including archaeology—seems to be deplorable for Professor Avalos as well as the leaders of ASOR, who have largely abandoned their responsibility of a publication with an appeal to the general public in this field of study.

It is exactly here that Professor Avalos’s lack of understanding of the realities of Biblical scholarship is most evident. He apparently is unable to see this reality: The relationship of American religious life, Bible and scholarship is a vital and undeniable factor in our society—especially in the United States—however controversial.

Helmut Koester
Former SBL President
Professor Emeritus
Harvard Divinity School
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Perchance to Dream

Perchance to Dream: Dream Divination in the Bible and the Ancient Near East
Edited by Esther J. Hamori and Jonathan Stökl, ANEM 21, 2018
download paperback hardcover

You can download it for free.

Rewriting and Reception in and of the Bible

This new volume, in English and German, arrived today for review from Mohr.  I’m very excited about it because it is a Festschrift for my very dear friend Mogens Müller.  He’s a wonderful scholar and has long deserved the recognition brought via a Festschrift.  He deserves a celebration.

Look for my review in about a month.

Die Beiträge dieses Bandes setzen sich kritisch mit der Arbeit Mogen Müllers zu antikem Judentum, der Septuaginta, den Evangelien des Neuen Testaments und der Rezeptiongeschichte der Bibel auseinander und decken dabei ein breites Themenfeld innerhalb der biblischen Redaktion und Rezeption ab. Neuschreibung und Rezeption sind Teil eines fortlaufenden Prozesses, der innerhalb der biblischen Literatur begann, und der sich in der Geschichte der interpretierenden Gemeinden fortsetzt, die die Bibel bis heute auf zahlreiche Arten rezipieren und wertschätzen. Der vorliegende Band möchte die wissenschaftliche Debatte über solch wichtige Themen innerhalb der Bibelforschung voranbringen. Er zeigt, dass man sich mit dem Begriff der Rezeption aus sehr verschiedenen Blickwinkeln und unterschiedlichen hermeneutischen und methodologischen Perspektiven befassen kann, welche alle neue Einblicke in die antiken Texte und deren Nachleben bieten.


Jesper Høgenhaven/Jesper Tang Nielsen/Heike Omerzu: Introduction: Rewriting and Reception in and of the Bible

Part I: Rewriting and Reception in the Bible
Ancient Judaism
Jesper Høgenhaven: Fortschreibung und Kanonbildung in der Bibliothek von Qumran: Bemerkungen mit besonderem Hinblick auf Genesis-Kommentar A (4Q252) – Ingrid Hjelm: The Coming of a ‘Prophet like you’ in Ancient Literature – Thomas Thompson: ‘Rewritten Bible’ or Reiterative Rhetoric: Examples from Yahweh’s Garden – Siegfried Kreuzer: New Testament Quotations and the Textual History of the Septuagint

New Testament
Michael Labahn: Die Königin aus dem Süden und ihr Auftritt im Gericht: Q 11,31 oder zur (Wirkungs-)Geschichte einer Begegnungserzählung – Troels Engberg-Pedersen: The Messianic Secret in the Fourth Gospel: On the Fundamental Importance of Mark for John’s Rewriting of the Story of Jesus – Jesper Tang Nielsen: Lukas und Johannes: Szenen einer Beziehung – Frederik Poulsen: A Light to the Gentiles: The Reception of Isaiah in Luke-Acts – Martin Meiser: Torah in Galatians: The Significance of the Reception of the Septuagint

Part II: Rewriting and Reception of the Bible
Ancient Times
Martin Karrer: Reception and Rewriting: Beobachtungen zu Schriftreferenzen und Textgeschichte der Apokalypse – Heike Omerzu: Das Petrusevangelium als ‘rewritten Gospel’? Eine forschungsgeschichtliche Erörterung der Rezeption der Kategorie ,rewritten Bible’ in Bezug auf frühchristliche Texte – Tilde Bak Halvgaard: Reception of the Johannine Logos in the Trimorphic Protennoia: The Gnostics and the Bible – Part II – Francis Watson: Reception as Corruption: Tertullian and Marcion in Quest of the True Gospel – Thomas Hoffmann: Everywhere and Nowhere: On the rewritten Bible and Qur’ān – John Strange: Rewriting the Bible in Pictorial Arts: Some Examples and Observations

Modern Times
Christina Petterson: Zinzendorf’s New Testament and the Production of Gender – Halvor Moxnes:Desiring Christ: A Nordic Christology in the Time of Romantic Friendships – Gitte Buch-Hansen:Converting Refugees and the Gospel: Exegetical Reflections on Refugees’ Encounter with Denmark and with the Lutheran Church

Free Book


You’ll have to go find out what it is.

A Forthcoming Volume of Interest to Old Testament Scholars

Un maître de la critique textuelle: Dominique Barthélemy: L’édition de la ‘Critique textuelle de l’Ancien Testament’ (1982-2015).

Watch this space.

55% Off Volumes of Biblia Hebraica Quinta (BHQ)

This is great news for those who are looking to obtain the volumes already published in this incredibly important edition of the Hebrew Bible (and incredibly sad news for those of us who have been paying full price as the volumes come out…).  Take advantage of it while you can.

Enemies and Friends of the State: Ancient Prophecy in Context

Within the world of the Bible, prophets and prophetesses were sometimes ardent proponents of royal and priestly rhetoric and deeds, but they could also be vocal critics, speaking truth to power. Enemies and Friends of the State plumbs the depths of the prophetic voices of the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament Apocrypha, and the Greek New Testament, with more than twenty-five of the most distinguished scholars in the field of biblical studies contributing articles. The volume also includes articles on prophecy in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Syria, and Transjordan. In addition, articles at the beginning of the volume on the nature of the state and of prophecy provide a context for the discussion of prophecy both inside and outside ancient Israel, and a concluding essay discusses the views of Josephus and the Rabbis on prophecy. Because of the breadth and depth of this volume, Enemies and Friends of the State is certain to be the standard treatment of this subject for a generation.

It’s edited by Chris Rollston, so I’m sure it will be good.

Jesus’s Female Disciples

You can watch it if you missed it, here. But just for 29 days and just if you live in Britain. If you live elsewhere, like most of the world does, you can click play but the only thing that happens is nothing.

Winged Women

Female first: aerial women in mythology, pop culture, and beyond.  Check it out. Interesting, interesting stuff.

So… I’ve Updated My Bibliography…

Modern Editions of the Greek New Testament

CSTNM has an array of them here.  For the people who can actually read the Bible.

Revealing the History of Ancient Palestine – Changing Perspectives 8

This volume is part of the Changing Perspectives sub-series, which is constituted by anthologies of articles by world-renowned biblical scholars and historians that have made an impact on the field and changed its course during the last decades. This volume offers a collection of seminal essays by Keith Whitelam on the early history of ancient Palestine and the origins and emergence of Israel. Collected together in one volume for the first time, and featuring one unpublished article, this volume will be of interest to biblical and ancient Near Eastern scholars interested in the politics of historical representation but also on critical ways of constructing the history of ancient Palestine.

Looking forward to it very much.

Take This Greek Course At Newman

Details here.  The guy teaching the course is an absolute genius.  And no, I don’t mean me this time.

This fun and informal 5 day course aims to build confidence with the alphabet and language of the New Testament. Throughout the course we will be working closely with the Greek New Testament and by the end of the week you will gain the knowledge and skills to be able to read simple sentences and clauses from it. The course will be particularly useful for those wanting to read the primary sources (New Testament, Septuagint, Church Fathers) in their original language or scholarly works where Greek terms and passages are cited. Although the emphasis will be on the later form of Greek (koine) used by the New Testament authors, much of the course can be directly applied to other forms of Greek and would therefore be helpful for historians wanting an introduction into Classical Greek.

Luther Endorses the Commentary

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have these lines from Luther today regarding my humble efforts*-

Your [Commentary] no one will call [just] a commentary but … an index for reading the Scriptures and recognizing Christ, a thing that thus far none of the commentaries has provided, at least none extant. As to your plea that you are thoroughly dissatisfied with your [Commentary], it is difficult for me to believe you. And yet I do believe that you will not be satisfied with yourself. No one seeks or demands this from you. No, we wish for Paul, too, to keep his own reputation safe, lest anyone ever claim that [Jim] is superior or equal to Paul. It is enough for you to be close to Paul. We begrudge no one if [in another commentary] he is able to come closer still.

You’ll want to get it now, I know!

IMG_8299For many years I worked on the ‘Person in the Pew’ commentary series. It covers the entire Bible and some of the more important Apocryphal works.

Individual books can still be obtained by the usual route but the entire series in pdf can only be acquired directly from me. And the procedure is simple:

1- Drop me an email at telling me you’d like it.
2- Paypal the cost of the volumes (A paltry $75).
3- I will then send them to you without delay.

But do please note, the purchase entitles you to make use of the volumes for your personal use but they may not be shared or given or sold to second parties under any circumstances.  Of course there’s no way to monitor your honesty in this matter, but you’ll know.  And so will God.

Mind you, I’m not a marketer and I know nothing about business or the business of selling things. I’ve never been in biblical studies for the money and I’m not aiming to make a fortune with the complete series in pdf.

But, that said, all the hours put into these volumes are worth something, so I’m selling the lot for $75. That’s authentically inexpensive considering the thousands of pages written. And it’s a good commentary.

* Luther actually said that of Melanchthon’s work, but who am I to quibble with what he would clearly say of mine too? False modesty is, after all, sin.