Category Archives: Scholars You Should Know

Sigmund Mowinckel

Sigmund Mowinckel, Scandinavian Old Testament scholar extraordinaire, was born on the 4th of August in 1884.  Most famous for his work on the Psalms, he authored many very useful volumes my favorite of which is The Old Testament as Word of God.  It’s what we call down here a ‘page-turner’.  Brittanica writes

Educated at the University of Oslo (then Kristiania), Mowinckel spent his life from 1917 teaching there. His greatest contribution was in cultic-religious history. He conducted substantial research into the motivation for the psalms and in the practice of worship in ancient Israel. He wrote Psalmenstudien, 6 vol. (1921–24; “Studies in the Psalms,” later popularized as The Psalms in Israel’s Worship, 1962), one of the major works of biblical commentary of the 20th century. Depicting the psalms in their concrete cultural milieu, he emphasized the cultic nature of their origin and development.

My first encounter with Mowinckel was in a grad school, in OT Introduction.  His ‘Psalms in Israel’s Worship’ amazed me.  It still does.  And so do his other works.

He also astonished D.R. Ap-Thomas who, in 1966, wrote an appreciation of him-


You can read the whole essay in Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 85, No. 3 (Sep., 1966), pp. 315-325.  Also, the Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament had an entire issue devoted to Mowinckel and his work back in 1988.

Happy Birthday Martin Noth

Martin Noth, famed (and rightly so) Old Testament scholar was born on the 3rd of August, 1902.  Probably best known for his work on the history of Israel, Noth also wrote widely and extensively on nearly every aspect of OT studies.  His commentaries are very good and his study of Israelite names has never, ever been surpassed or supplanted.

As Brittanica notes

In his book Das System der zwölf Stämme Israels (1930; “The Scheme of the Twelve Tribes of Israel”), written when he was just 28, Noth proposed the theory that the unity called Israel did not exist prior to the covenant assembly at Shechem in Canaan (Joshua 24), where, in his view, the tribes, theretofore loosely related through customs and traditions, accepted the worship and the covenant of Yahweh imposed by Joshua. Oral traditions from the various tribes were combined in the Pentateuch after the covenant union, and it was only at the time of Ezra that the traditions were finally written down, often combining different narrative elements into a single tale. Thus, the story of the Passover and that of the Exodus, once separate traditions, were linked in the written books of Moses. The two major narrative traditions, the Jehovistic and Elohistic (so called from the name used for God in each), formed a framework around the other traditional elements. Noth served as professor of theology at the University of Bonn from 1945 to 1965, continuing his studies after his retirement.

Lest we forget…

The Anniversary of Peter Opitz’s Birth

It’s May 25th so it’s Peter Opitz’s birthday. Happy birthday to him.  He’s a scholar you should know- as just a few of his books will show:

Celebrating the Birth-iversary of Peter Martyr Vermigli

Today marks the anniversary of Vermigli’s birth, on 8 September 1499 (or 1500- there is some debate about the year).  His numerous writings are still very much worth reading.  Encyclopedia Brittanica describes him thusly:

The son of a prosperous shoemaker, Vermigli had by 1518 entered the Lateran Congregation of the Augustinian Canons Regular at Fiesole. After eight years of study at Padova he served variously as preacher, vicar, and abbot, finally becoming abbot at St. Peter ad Aram, a city monastery in Naples, in 1537. There he joined the select group around Juan de Valdés and read the pseudonymous works of the Reformers. Vermigli became suspect, and the Theatines procured his suspension from preaching, but sympathetic cardinals at Rome had the ban lifted. In 1541 he became prior of San Frediano at Lucca, where he gathered a teaching staff and introduced both monastery and congregation to Reformed doctrine and worship. Summoned to appear before his order at Genoa, he fled in August 1542 to Zürich. Martin Bucer then called him to Strasbourg (now in France), where he was professor of theology (1542–47, 1553–56). Vermigli in 1547 accepted Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s invitation to England and became regius professor of divinity at the University of Oxford. The major event of his stay was a disputation (1549) on the Eucharist, at which three matters of belief were debated: (1) transubstantiation, (2) carnal or corporeal presence, and (3) whether “the body and blood of Christ is sacramentally joined to the bread and the wine.” His influence on the 1552 prayer book and the Forty-two Articles (1553) is problematic. His eucharistic doctrine, in the Oxford Disputation and Treatise and in Defensio adversum Gardinerum (published in 1559), was close to that of John Calvin, Bucer, and Philipp Melanchthon. After Queen Mary’s accession, Cranmer named him the archbishop’s assistant, but Vermigli went into exile, followed by disciples such as John Jewel, during later persecutions by the crown. He returned to Strasbourg in 1553 but in 1556, after the Lutheran–Reformed dispute over the ubiquity of Christ’s body intensified, went to Zürich as professor of Hebrew.

There’s a bit more on Vermigli here.  And here’s a vermigli gallery for your enjoyment.  Get to know this man.  He’s important.

Peter Niklaus Profiled

I had the honor of meeting Peter years ago when he was the chief at TVZ.  It was he who gave me a tour of the publisher’s facilities and who gifted me with a volume on the Barmen Declaration.

He’s a wonderful person and you should get to know him.

Peter tanzt auf vielen Bühnen, aber immer mit klarem Fokus: Der Pfarrer und Kolumnist versteht sich als Übersetzer. Damit die Leute merken: Diese geistige Welt, die der Bibel, die der Literatur, das ist auch unsere Welt, unsere Wirklichkeit. Das ist nicht irgendein altes Schriftstück, das niemanden mehr interessiert. Das ist Kultur. Das hat Wert. Für uns alle. Es sei die Aufgabe der Theologen, eine warme und lebendige Sprache zu sprechen, sagt er,  «auch wenn man über Religion spricht». Gute Journalisten haben eine gute Sprache. Und gute Theologen eben auch.


Scholars You Should Know

Raz Kletter.  I’ve him in mind because I’ve just read through an essay to be published by SJOT by him and it’s fantastic and a fine reminder of why he’s a scholar you should know.  He never disappoints.

Memorial Service for William Hallo


Thursday, October 29, 2015
Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale
80 Wall Street, New Haven, Connecticut
4:00 pm

Please join the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale as we honor the memory of Professor William H. Hallo and recognize his scholarship and contribution to the life of the university.

The February Carnival: The ‘Love is in the Air’ Edition

5February is the month of love.  Valentine’s Day don’t ya know…  Anyway, I thought this month I would show some link love to a number of blogs you’ve never (or probably never) heard of, written by people (or probably people) you’ve never heard mentioned.

Check it out:

Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament

Mine.  I mean, in answer to the question posed by young Mr (well darn, I’ve forgotten) (no there it is)- Jason.   There was a right sharp interview with Karen Jobes on International Septuagint Day that you should read – because you haven’t already.  It’s by someone.

Richard has posted a series of videos of lectures in Thomas Römer’s series on the Bible and its contexts.  Well worth a look and videos by some of the leaders in the field.

David Clines lectures on the varieties of creation in this video.  Clines is really a scream of a lecturer/ presenter.  He’s sort of the male version of Amy-Jill Levine (which is to say, whenever you have a chance to hear him, do it).

Bob Cargill posted his radio appearance in January but nothing in February so here it is.  I reckon February is too cold in Iowa for blogging.

The wise and goodly folk in Central Europe have constructed a brilliant little game to teach kids (and journalists) the Old Testament.

Tim B. is doing a video series on the geography of the Bible and he’s also got one in the series on ‘routes’.  It’s right smart and it deserves your attention.

3Since Jack Sasson’s list is now being hosted on the SBL site you’ll be able to read it even if you aren’t worthy of being on Jack’s list.  That’s good news for you, the little people.

Deane Galbraith is back with ‘Remnants of Giants‘.  Good to see him doing what he does again.  Here’s a fine example on the David and Goliath tale.

New Testament

Someone named Anthony wrote a piece about some angry atheist and some skinny not so funny comedian debating the topic of Theodicy (because who on earth doesn’t want to know what an angry atheist and an actor person think about one of the most complex issues in theology.  Maybe next time throw in a journalist and you’ll have the trifecta of dileattantism).

Have you ever wondered about responses to Mark 7:32-37 in Victorian London and in biblical scholarship? Well, over at the most narrowly focused blog in all existence you can find out.  Who knew…

Campbell is not right.  Moo is.  Bauckam is right too but he’s talking about fishing.  I like fish.  I don’t like catching and murdering them or cleaning them or cooking them or smelling them.  But I like the way their completely deboned descaled decapitated bodies taste.

John Martens has a really fine commentary on Acts he’s blogging.  And by that, I mean he’s writing a commentary on Acts on his blog that certainly is a worthwhile read.  And Phil Long is also thinking about Acts and almsgiving.

From Durham- this.  On rock/ sand.

3Richard Goode posted an entry on the ‘Gospel of the Lots of Mary’…  Lots of Mary… Lotsa Mary.  (I’m sorry, sometimes the mockery just comes naturally and if I try to hold it in I die).  Richard also shared a lecture by Steve Moyise on Jesus and his birth (part two).  Richard’s doing great things with the Newman blog.  You should watch it.

Nijay Gupta did a good job destroying the ridiculous and absurd comments about NT Wright.


Larry Hurtado shares Richard Bauckham’s appreciation for Larry Hurtado.  It’s a nice tribute nicely appreciated by the recipient of the tribute.  I.e., the tributee.

George Athas directs our attention to yet another (albeit good) contribution to the discussion of Jesus’ existence.  It’s still a stupid question.  It has been asked by skeptics since ages ago and no one with any sense or sensibility doubts it.  Maurice Casey said everything about the topic that needed to be said.  And still… the daft continue to ask it.  Its become a cottage industry promoted by the self promoting.

Ancillary Stuff (Archaeology, Text Criticism, DSS, etc.)

There’s a very interesting post on the Tel Aviv archaeology blog  by Joshua Errington about a field excursion that you’ll most definitely want to read (and you’ll want to follow the blog too).

Roberta Mazza body slams the practice of buying and selling antiquities to ‘protect them’.  #Boom.  She does the same when it comes to ‘marketing’ the ‘Word of God’.

Danny G. posted video about Sebastian Moll’s discussion of Marcion.  Fun times for all.

Hershel Shanks reflects on the birth of BAR.  It’s a good read.

Vaticanus is now fully digitized and available online.  Nifty.  Not so nifty is Brice’s citation of Wikipedia for the description of the manuscript.  He notes, wryly (I hope) that the description is accurate.  It may have been accurate the moment Brice read it but 10 seconds later it may have been distorted.  Wikipedia.  It’s bad.  It’s always bad.  It’s never good because- at the end of the day- it’s never really trustworthy.

Steve Moyise has a good bit to say about Wright’s (mis)understanding of Paul’s use of Scripture.  You won’t want to miss it if you’ve already missed it.

It has already occurred but you may want to ask Larry if he has plans to publish his lecture at the Pontifical Institute.  It sounds really great.  “The Dead Sea Scrolls: Judaism on the Eve of Christianity”.

2There’s a very intriguing post here on textual studies and diagnostics that you’ll want to take a look at.

It’s very exciting to pass along word that a new blog by a female person commenced in February titled ‘The Female Bible Scholar‘ by the learned and delightful Tiffany Webster.  I’m grateful to tiny Mike Kok for telling me about it.  Mike used to blog but now that he’s running his own corporation he doesn’t anymore.  Perhaps at long last women bloggers in biblical studies will break forth in a mighty surge.  Please, Lord, let it happen.  Tiffany also herself passed along word of a SIIBS gathering that will interest the Yorkshire folk.

Brice Jones described a newly discovered ‘saying of Jesus’ (one of those agraphon things).  But if it’s ‘unwritten’ how is it that it has been discovered written down?  [Sorry, it’s a pet peeve of mine that the term agraphon is used of clearly written down texts.  It’s as if textual scholars aren’t inventive enough to come up with a term that actually makes sense… you know, like ‘graphon’…] [And though you may have the feeling that I don’t like Brice nothing could be further from the truth.  The fact that he cites wikipedia…]

The folk at the PEQ blog have a really good post on an aspect of their work.  Give it a read if you haven’t already.

It being February, and February being both the month in which Melanchthon was born and Luther died, it’s appropriate to mention the commencement of a new edition of Melancthon’s Opera Omnia.

And finally, if you aren’t a part of the best online discussion of the bible group, join up.

1Next month’s blog will come in like a lion and go out like a lamb.  In the meantime, go read Jennifer’s ‘official’ Carnival.  She’s a delight.  A beginning theology student, she has a fine sense of wit and – importantly – understands that Joel Watts is the antichrist.

Biblioblogdom explained

Biblioblogdom explained

Christophe Chalamet is on the Twitter

You’ll surely recall that Christophe is one of the brightest Church historians working today- since I’ve stated as much on a variety of occasions and pointed out his brilliant books on Barth et al and the Trinity.

Thrillingly, he’s now also on the twitter.  This is excellent because now you can keep up with his doings and thinkings and be relieved from time to time of having to endure mine.

Follow him.  And maybe he’ll even get on Facebook too!  (He’s a spectacular scholar you should know).


Scholars You Should Know: Luke Murray

I’m just becoming acquainted with the work of a young man who is a tremendous writer and a very, very good Catholic scholar of Historical Theology (because I’m editing an essay he’s written for the forthcoming issue of the Journal of Early Modern Christianity).  He’s one of those youngsters that you’ll hear more about in the future- as he is the sort who will make an impact on the discipline.

He’s also the sort who is a delight to read because he’s the sort who can teach an old dog new tricks.  So, take note.  Luke Murray is a rising up and coming scholar you should know.

Micah Kiel- A Scholar You Should Know

If only because he’s awfully tall.  And a good scholar.  Even if…


Eric Vanden Eykel: A Scholar You Should Know


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Nonetheless… he’s worth knowing.


Translating Resurrection: The Debate between William Tyndale and George Joye in Its Historical and Theological Context

44426The one and only Gergely M. Juhász has just had published a volume that combines debate about translating Greek into English, Tyndale, and Joye.  What could be more fun?  I’m super keen to read this one.

Maegan Gilliland Goes to Wal-Mart to Christmas Shop

Maegan is an academic and an artist and consequently, she’s a weirdo (but we all love her).  She’s been spotted in Wal Mart over the past few days, always in a different, stunning outfit.  Sure, she looks quite different in each but I assure you, they are all her.

Helmer Ringgren’s Birth-iversary

Helmer Ringgren was born on the 29th of November, 1917.    As was noted when he died just a few months ago…

“He died on Monday, 26th March, at 94 years of age. The chief mourners are his three daughters and their families.  His last years were made difficult by serious eye trouble, which prevented him from reading, and he also suffered from leg problems, making him fairly immobile; he was not often seen outside his home.  He got his doctorate at Uppsala in 1947 and was a pupil of Geo Widengren, professor of Comparative Religion, and of the famous semitist H. S. Nyberg. He had held chairs both in Comparative Religion (Åbo, Finland, 1962-64), and in Old Testament Exegetics (Evanston, 1960-62; Uppsala 1964-83).

He was a brilliant scholar and really made important contributions to the study of the Old Testament and to our understanding of the religion of ancient Israel.  He is fondly remembered by a colleague here.

So, happy birthday to him- in abstentia.

“No Stone Unturned”: James Aitken’s Newest Work

Jim is a scholar of the LXX without peer. He is this generation’s Alfred Rahlf’s. If he writes something, you should read it.

No Stone Unturned

No Stone Unturned
Greek Inscriptions and Septuagint Vocabulary
Critical Studies in the Hebrew Bible – CSHB 5
by James K. Aitken
Eisenbrauns, 2014
xiv + 140 pp., English
ISBN: 9781575063249
List Price: $28.95
Your Price: $26.06

Reviewing The Major Bible Software Programs- And, A Scholar You should Know

Timothée Minard, doctorant à la Faculté Protestante de Strasbourg, vient de réaliser un comparatif des quatre meilleurs logiciels bibliques : Accordance 10, BibleWorks 9, Logos 5 et Bible Parser 2013.

Via– who is a scholar you should know.

Antony Perrot et je suis étudiant en Master II en Antiquité Méditerranéenne et Proche-Orientale à l’École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE-Sorbonne).  Par ailleurs, j’étudie les langues anciennes au sein de l’École des Langues et des Civilisations de l’Orient-Ancien (ELCOA), à l’Institut Catholique de Paris. Vous trouverez plus d’infos me concernant sur Academia.  Par ailleurs, si vous le souhaitez, n’hésitez-pas à me contacter en cliquant ici.

He’s a bright guy and very personable.  Blogroll worthy even.  Regardless, he’s one of those younger scholars you need to keep your eye on.  He’ll accomplish much.  I call him the next Thomas Römer.

Worth Knowing: Fritz Schmidt-Clausing

Fritz Schmidt-Clausing (courtesy Peter Opitz)

I need today to mention a scholar who though virtually unknown today outside of very specialized circles, made tremendous contributions to the study of the 16th century, the Reformation, and in particular, to Zwingli studies. Fritz Schmidt-Clausing.

S-C was born on the 25th of October in 1902…

… in Berlin, wurde römisch-katholischer Priester, studierte nach seiner Konversion evangelische Theologie und Philologie. 1932 wurde ihm ein Pfarramt in Potsdam übertragen, 1947 bis 1960 (Rücktritt) versah Schmidt die Stelle des Seelsorgers im Berliner Tiergartenquartier; der Wiederaufbau der Kaiser-Friedrich-Gedächtniskirche war besonders seiner Initiative zu verdanken. Neben der praktischen Tätigkeit als Pfarrer fanden die liturgiegeschichtlichen Fragen der Reformation Schmidts besonderes Interesse.

He wrote voluminously and contributed both to the critical edition of Zwingli’s works and to Zwingli studies with, primarily, his works on Zwingli’s humor (which I translated a few years back) and Zwingli’s theology of liturgy.

Years back a very fine essay was written in commemoration of S-C and published in the Zeitschrift Zwingliana:

In der Gratulationsadresse des Zwinglivereins zum siebzigsten Geburtstag (Zwingliana XIII,7; 1972, S. 433) liest man: «Der Zwingliverein dankt dem Jubilar vor allem für seine liturgischen Forschungen und für das Bestreben, Zwinglis Gedankengut auch im Ausland einem weiteren Leserkreis vertraut zu machen.»

Lest we forget…

Remembering, Again, Gerhard von Rad on the Anniversary of his Birth

Those who are wise learn from their forebears- even if what they learn is to leave them to the side.  Von Rad, however, can never be left aside.  He stands – even now – as the greatest Everest to grace the theological landscape.  And today is the anniversary of his birth.

Gerhard von Rad was a prominent German Old Testament scholar whose work brought back focus to the Old Testament. He was educated at the University of Erlangen and at the University of Tübingen and later received honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Lund, Wales, Leipzig and Glasgow. He also taught at the University of Jena, University of Gottingen, Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg. The Encyclopedia of World Biography notes him as having “developed the ‘tradition history’ approach to the Old Testament that has dominated the study of the Bible for the last 40 years.” His dissertation was on “Das Gottesvolk im Deuteronomium” (The People of God in Deuteronomy).

“The historical events of his lifetime, including the two World Wars, left their mark on him, and it was not least his detestation for the nazis’s treatment of the Jews, which called his interest for OT forth, and he became a member of the academic world in stead of the clergy. Two fields of research are in a special way connected to his name. He was one of the founders of the traditio-historical method. Being one of A. Alt’s doctoral students, history and the development of traditions always played an important part in his research. The historical credo (Deut 26) and its importance for the making of the Hexateuch has made a great impact on the scholarly world. The other field is OT theology, in which he stressed the theology in the transmission of the biblical traditions, in Vol. I the historical tradition and in Vol II the prophetic tradition. His way of doing Theologie was quite different from the traditional German Old Testament Theology.”

“Von Rad’s views were highly controversial, evoking considerable heat. Many of his theories have not stood the test of time, but it would be difficult to find another person who has contributed so much to the understanding of the Old Testament. It may be that in truth he wrote a history of Israelite religion rather than an Old Testament theology, but he insisted that the Hebrew Bible be understood in the context of the religious life of ancient Israel. That is surely a correct insight.”

Lest we forget…

On the Anniversary of Philip Schaff’s Death

Schaff_PSchaff was born in Chur, Switzerland [on 1 January, 1819] and was educated at the gymnasium of Stuttgartt, and at the universities of Tubingen, Halle and Berlin, where he was successively influenced by Baur and Schmid, by Tholiuck and Julius Muller and, above all, Neander. In 1842 he was Privatdozent in the University of Berlin, and in 1843 he was called to become professor of church history and Biblical literature in the German Reformed Theological Seminary of Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, then the only seminary of that church in America.

On his journey he stayed in England and met Edward Pusey and other Tractarians. His inaugural address on The Principle of Protestantism, delivered in German at Reading Pennsylvania, in 1844, and published in German with an English version was a pioneer work in English in the field of symbolics (that is, the authoritative ecclesiastical formulations of religious doctrines in creeds or confessions). This address and the “Mercersburg Theology” which he taught seemed too pro-Catholic to some, and he was charged with heresy. But, at the synod at York, in 1845, he was unanimously acquitted.

In consequence of the ravages of the American Civil War the theological seminary at Mercersburg was closed for a while and so in 1863 Dr. Schaff became secretary of the Sabbath Committee in New York City, and held the position till 1870. He became a professor at Union Theological Seminary, New York City in 1870 holding first the chair of theological encyclopedia and Christian symbolism till 1873, of Hebrew and the cognate languages till 1874, of sacred literature till 1887, and finally of church history, till his death.

His History of the Christian Church resembled Neander’s work, though less biographical, and was pictorial rather than philosophical. He also wrote biographies, catechisms and hymnals for children, manuals of religious verse, lectures and essays on Dante, etc.

He died on 20 October, 1893.  His output was massive.  He’s worth remembering, even if you’ve never heard of him.