October 31, 2008

Biblical Studies Carnival XXXV

Carnival Ticket BoothCome one come all to Biblical Studies Carnival XXXV. The ticket booths are in storage on the back lot because this carnival is free for the reading.

As usual, there's something for everyone. This has been a particularly productive month in the academically oriented biblioblogosphere. There were so many abnormally interesting posts that I was forced to be more selective than I would have liked. Like last time I hosted this affair, I consistently relied on two well known and equally well developed decision making methods. I was capricious and I was arbitrary. I used the same high methodologies in assigning topic categories and in setting the order within them.


Extreme OrbiterLet's start in the dirt, dirt archaeology that is. Well, it's more like armchair archaeology so showers are not required after reading. October was a big month for all these dirty things.

Early in October, the discovery of a piece of a sarcophagus was a hot topic. Is it from the sarcophagus of the son of a high priest or of a high priest himself? Jim Davila, Antonio Lombatti, Todd Bolen, Barry Bandstra, Edward Cook, Leen Ritmeyer, Jim West, Claude Mariottini and many others all chimed in.

Charles Halton introduced us to the official website of the archeological dig at Ziyaret Tepe (ancient Tushan) where they recently discovered a Neo-Assyrian governor's palace.

And the month ended with a flurry of discussions of four recent discoveries. They came so fast that Douglas Mangum reported on two of the them in a single post. But let's start with the discovery of "King Solomon's mines." This sensationalized discovery of a copper smelting plant at Khirbat en-Nahas in Jordan drew a lot of attention. Not surprisingly, Jim West was skeptical of the attribution to Solomon. Claude Mariottini reported on the find and Jim Davila provided his usual full report with his own skeptical comment, "It sounds like an important and interesting discovery and it seems a pity that the tired issue of Bible verification is overshadowing it." Todd Bolen published a good summary of the find with links to background material and a few great pictures. Not showing much skepticism, Leen Ritmeyer said these ancient copper mines were "probably operated by King Solomon." Ferrell Jenkins would have us understand what light the discovery might shed on the Hebrew Bible. And there were even more who mined this discovery.

Then came the announcement of a water tunnel dating back to the First Temple period. Jim West was skeptical that it had anything to do with King David and the conquest of Jerusalem. Claude Mariottini was considerably less skeptical and Mark Twain tended to agree with Jim.

Third, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced the discovery of a beautiful seal of a warrior from the latter part of the First Temple period. And a bunch of bloggers including Jim West, Douglas Mangum, PhDiva, Leen Ritmeyer, and Ferrell Jenkins jumped on the story. But is the seal real? Once this question is raised, it takes the scholarly community a while to sort it out. Sometimes it never can.

Fourth, there was the teasing and anticipation prior to the formal presentation of the Khirbet Qeiyafa Ostracon. And who didn't have something to say? Peter Bekins, Todd Bolen, Calvin Park, Chris Heard, Jim West, Jim Davila, Steve Caruso, Claude Mariottini and John Hobbins impatiently awaited the formal presentation and scrutinized the teasers. I'm sure I missed many comments on what promises to be something of considerable importance. Importance to what? Well, until we see the whole ostracon it is hard to say. John Hobbins thought it might usher in "The End of Minimalism as We Know It." Jim West thought it wouldn't. This will no doubt be an even bigger item in next month's carnival.

In a different debate, archaeology and the divinity of Jesus(!) this time, Jim West takes up the negative side against a Virtueonline (!) article.

And then, someone even posted three abnormal posts on archaeology that had nothing to do with a high priest or King Solomon, tunnels, seals, any ostracon, or the divinity of Jesus or much else.

And finally (for this part of the carnival), you might enjoy vilawolf on Biblical Archeology as serial hoaxing.


TiltawhirlAnson Rainey's article in Biblical Archaeological Review stirred up lot of excitement but surpising little controversy. Rainey tells us "that the ancient Israelites migrated as pastoralists from east of the Jordan," just like the Bible says. Nearly everyone thought his conclusion came rather directly from his presuppositions without as much influence from the evidence as might be desirable. Bishop Wrong got it started with "Anson Rainey, ‘East of the Jordan’ is not ‘The Rest of the Ancient Near East’" And before it was over Jim West, Douglas Mangum and Jay Crisostomo had all gotten in their licks. There were even a couple of abnormal posts on the subject.

Jim Getz again took up the question of the kingship of Dani'il. This is an abnormally interesting problem. At least it is for someone with abnormal interests.

Calvin Park asked us how we would explain the Ugaritic yšlm lk ily ugr tǵrk in KTU-2.16:3-4. "May the gods of Ugarit guard you" or maybe not.

Alan Lenzi was playing with signs and so was a scribe of the Twelve Gates of Ludlul IV 79–90. I also enjoyed Alan's post on Thomas Römer and the idea of the figure of Moses as a means for the creation of Jewish identity.

J. P. van de Giessen reminded us that contrary to what we might infer from much of the Hebrew Bible, the Hittites were a powerful force in the Near East. But then there were Hittites and there were Hittites.

Neil Godfrey reviewed the "The Wisdom and Ethics of Israel’s Pagan Neighbours."

Scot McKnight and Charles Halton exchanged ideas on abortion in Biblical times with Charles putting the subject in its Near Eastern context. Charles also had a little fun with Sumerian in the New Testament too. I just couldn't resist the fun myself.


Bumper CarsKevin Edgecomb started the month with his first post in a long running series on Jacob Neusner's The Theology of the Oral Torah: Revealing the Justice of God and he's still going.

Claude Mariottini provided an interesting series on the Tenth Commandment and the status of women in Israelite society. But N. T. Wrong wouldn't let him get away with quite all of it.

Jim Getz wrote two interesting posts to Esther. One focused on the "The tale of Vashti" and the other looked at "winking texts." He also directed us to online material on the Persian background of Esther.

And then there's the case of John Hobbins. It's always hard to know what to highlight, but you're sure to learn something from his series on Bruce Waltke and Lady Wisdom.

Henry Neufeld complained about Bruce Waltke (with Charles Yu), An Old Testament Theology: an exegetical, canonical, and thematic approach. But he started with a few positives just to keep things in perspective.

Darrell Pursiful summarized his conclusions on armed conflict in the Bible. He wonders if such reports are a source for the discussion of revisionist theories about ancient chronology.

Airton Jose da Silva asked for our opinions on books on the History of Israel and laments how few are available in Portuguese. He is also running a poll on Paul but since two of his three questions are about books on the History of Israel, I put his post here.

Peter Bekins always provides stimulating discussions and reviews on things Hebrew and linguistic. October was no exception. But I think his first post in a series on the composition of the Pentateuch bodes well for the rest of the series.

David Miller continued his series on N.T. Wright and the "continuing exile."

Soren Holst reported on Ilan Green's imaginative reconstruction of temple music.

What do you get when you combine a software entrepreneur with someone who has an abnormal interest in the Psalms in their original language? Bob MacDonald. And if you don't believe me check out Bob's post "Root Algorithm," the Hebrew root that is. It just might work. See what you think.

Simon Holloway wrote, by way of example, about the state of Classical Hebrew education in Australian high schools. Who would have guessed that was a subject on which to write? But I do think the point he makes is an important one.


Ferris WheelJames McGrath and Tom Verenna continued their discussion on "Did Jesus exist?" I always like discussions that use words like "absurd."

Earlier in the month, Phil Harland was "Ballparking the historical Jesus." He even provided a satellite image of Galilee. The resolution wasn't quite high enough for me to see Jesus. But then, I think that was part of his point.

James really got October going for Christian New Testament studies with his summary post on oral tradition in the New Testament. It's an oral tradition carnival in its own right.

April DeConick took up N. T. Wrong's question of Early Jewish and Christian polytheism? And Wrong thanked her.

Richard Anderson posted a long essay on "Rewriting Sacred History," his second in a series. The first was three and a half years ago. Richard stretches these series out even more than I do.

Mark Goodacre spent most of October playing the dating game. He went from the foreplay Preliminaries to the Gospel of John stopping at Paul's letters and Synoptic Gospels along the way. He ended the month by asking, "Do the documents post-date the destruction of Jerusalem in 70CE?" More is sure to come.

Mike at εν εφέσω wrote thoughts and meditations about "The Function of δέ in Ephesians." I have an abnormal interest in the use of prepositions.

While we're on Ephesians, James Gregory posted an interesting study of Ephesians 4:26-27. It includes a nice little text critical discussion.

Matthew Malcolm shared his insights into 1 Corinthians 15 and the problem of those who denied the resurrection of the dead.

Doug Chaplin asked "Qute baby questions: the synoptic problem and the birth narratives." Are "the infancy narratives . . . more like a piece of evidence that needs interpreting in light of a theory already derived from other evidence" or "a piece of evidence that can falsify or substantiate the theory?" Doug thinks the former. I wonder about the distinction. Good abduction could have it both ways.

While we're on the subject of infancy narratives, Matthew D. Montonini provided a two part review of Matthew J Marohl's Joseph's Dilemma: "Honor Killing" in the Birth Narrative of Matthew.

Pat McCullough spent blog action day writing about ancient poverty. He shared Stegemann and Stegemann's view on poverty in the Greco-Roman world. Guess what. "The poor struggled to make ends meet and the rich took advantage of them." Actually, it's a lot more interesting than that but that is interesting in itself.

The versatile Neil Godfrey wrote on Mark’s depiction of the coming of the Son of Man and offered a storm of examples of God in the clouds.

And looking forward to Christmas, JP van de Giessen reminded us of his posts on the Star of Bethlehem.


Balloon and Dart GameBen Smith continued his long running if rather sporadic series of Canonical Lists with part Part 12, "The Claromontanus Catalogue." If you're not "versed" on this ancient list, you should check it out.

Only tangentially related to the topic of canon is Daniel Kirk's post on the order of Pauls letters.

Chris Tilling took a shot at "The authentic Pauline corpus."


Ohio State FairRick Brannan told us about "αλλα and Ignatius' use of the Bible." And if you like that post, you'll also enjoy his post on "Similarities Between the NT and Apostolic Fathers."


Weight Guessing BoothOctober saw much discussion of Christological interpretations of the Hebrew Bible. As near as I can tell, Josh McManaway brought focus to the issue in a response to a Jim Getz post on the issue of how theologians and New Testament scholars interpret the Hebrew Bible. And Jim's post was in response to posts by Phil Sumpter and Chris Tilling. And then Phil got back into the fray and as did Tod Twist and Douglas Mangum. As one of my old Japanese acquaintances would have said, "I am amazing." And just when the whole thing seemed to be winding down, Stephen Cook announced a lecture by Randall Heskett on "Can we still believe the OT Expected our Messiah?" Sorry, the lecture was on October 16th. Jay Crisostomo closed out the month on a related topic, proof-texting. And it didn't even phase me.

Ben Witherington provided an essay on hermeneutics starting with Hermes and ending with Revelation(s) with a stop at the moon. To understand the (s) and the moon you'll need to read Ben's post.

James Crossley reflected on an SBL forum discussion and took up "Hunting the Heresy hunters."

Mike Sangrey wondered about puns. He was reacting to a post by ElShaddai Edwards on "Cunning punning in Genesis 3" that I would have put in the Hebrew Bible category if Mike hadn't written a basically methodological post in response.

James F. McGrath reflected on The Problems with Antiantisupernaturalism. This post reacts to a comment left on Nelson Moore's review of James' new book, The Burial of Jesus: History and Faith, Booksurge Publishing, 2008.

And while we're talking about book reviews, carnival attendees might what to check our Loren Rosson's review of Bird and Crossley on How Did Christianity Begin?

Celucien Joseph asked where meaning is found and concludes, "meaning resides in the text itself." Some might wonder.

Esteban Vázquez pondered the question, "Does Archaeological Minimalism Apply Only to the Bible?" His example, a noted wedding ring, should be of abnormal interest to bibliobloggers.

Top 50 BiblioblogsFinally, well almost finally, the good and very liberal Bishop N. T. Wrong has put together a list of currently active bibliobloggers and did us the favor of giving us his or her judgment on their "[biblical studies-related not political] conservative or liberal bent." And if you go to his or her new "Biblioblog Top 50" page you'll see how they (and you) rank "based on publicly available rankings from alexa.com".


Kiddie TrainNext month, Jim West will do a minimalist job on Biblical Studies Carnival XXXVI. Please notice I said minimalist not minimum. I'm told there is a difference. Be sure to help Jim with your suggestions.

Special Thanks:
I want to thank Jim Getz, Rick Brannan, Bob MacDonald, James McGrath, Matthew D. Montonini, and James Gregory for their suggestions. They all helped make my job easier.

Using the time-honored criteria noted at the beginning, I did decide not to include a few suggestions from other bloggers that seemed to me apologetic beyond the normal canons of Biblical scholarship, purely devotional in nature or promotional of non-scholarly pursuits. Never-the-less, I want to thank those blogger for submitting suggestions. Some other Carnival roustabout may have other criteria.

I also want to give an extra special thanks to Jim West for helping identify several abnormally interesting posts from bloggers who post in languages other then English. These bloggers' abnormal work too often goes unmentioned in our community.

Copyright notice:
The pictures used in this carnival are from the Wikipedia article "Traveling carnival." While a few of them are in the public domain, most of these pictures are used and licensed under a GNU Free Documentation License or under a Creative Commons license. Please consult the Wikipedia article for specific terms of use in each case.

Update: November 2, 2008:
Corrected: George McCullough to read Pat McCullough. George is Pat's father's name! Sorry!

Posted by Duane Smith at October 31, 2008 11:33 PM | Read more on Hebrew Bible |

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Nice work, Duane - I always wonder how the next gatherer of monthly blogs will catch our attention and divide up the spoil.

Posted by: Bob MacDonald at October 31, 2008 11:15 PM

Great work. There more and more to cover every month. You did well.

Posted by: Mike at November 1, 2008 1:03 AM

Thank you, Duane.

In October I posted on the historical sense and a christological reading of Psalm 2 without being aware of the more general discussion going on at the same time that you draw attention to.

As usual, it is amazing how much vital conversation is taking place.

Posted by: John Hobbins at November 1, 2008 2:22 AM

fantastic job man.

Posted by: Jim at November 1, 2008 3:48 AM

Great job, I like the pics.

Posted by: Charles Halton at November 1, 2008 4:07 AM

Nice job! I wondered how you were going to fit all those last minute discoveries in : )

But, you missed our Gezer mug! Surely that is an archaeological discovery!


Posted by: James at November 1, 2008 5:02 AM

Great job!

Posted by: Matthew Montonini at November 1, 2008 5:43 AM

Thanks Duane! I'm always amazed at the volume of posts we have each month. This is a great way to keep up with things.

Posted by: Calvin at November 1, 2008 6:41 AM

Yee-Haw! Excellent job on the carnival. Thanks for your work!

Posted by: Rick Brannan at November 1, 2008 7:48 AM


Thank you for your great work in preparing the Carnival this month. I believe it is one of the most comprehensive Carnival in a long time.

Claude Mariottini

Posted by: Claude Mariottini at November 1, 2008 8:43 AM

Nicely done, Duane! Thanks for your link to my blog action day post on ancient poverty. Though, George McCullough is my dad's name :) -- and also my middle and last name. Seeing George McCullough, it felt like I was seeing my dad get on the list!

Posted by: Pat McCullough at November 1, 2008 11:57 AM

Very nice, Duane! Thanks for all the work you put into it.

Posted by: Kevin P. Edgecomb at November 1, 2008 1:39 PM

Well done!

Posted by: Celucien Joseph at November 1, 2008 2:09 PM

Thanks for such a thorough excavation of the month just gone

Posted by: Doug Chaplin at November 1, 2008 4:39 PM

Thanks for the correction, Duane. I'm sure my dad would be honored to know that he made the biblical studies carnival even as a mistake. I'll first have to tell him what it is.

Posted by: Pat McCullough at November 2, 2008 8:59 AM

Biblical Puns: 'Puns and Pundits: Puns and Word Play in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Literature' by Scott Noegel is terrific. He also has a bibliography of biblical word play on line. The New York Public Library nypl.org has his book on Janus Parallelism, which features biblical JPs. The library's near east and Jewish divisions are gold mines for this and such topics as Hebrew idioms (hebraisms) preserved in the King James Version and Shakespeare's use of the bible. I've gone through my Hebrew interlinear bible and put in puns, alliterations, bilingual puns, janus parallelisms, acrostics, and translations of proper names. It yields interesting information, esp. that the text is more intricate than I ever knew. Add in Robert Alter's 'Art of Biblical Narrative' on the value of repetition, etc. and it's a grand exploration.

Posted by: Kate Burford at November 29, 2008 11:36 AM

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