Here it is – the March 1, 2012, Biblical Studies Carnival covering blogging activity during February. February was a very prolific month in our corner of the blogosphere. I thank all of you who nominated posts for inclusion in the Carnival. As you will see, I used most of your suggestions. I did exclude a few because I judged them to be somewhat more devotional or more sectarian than met my admittedly arbitrary criteria – if “arbitrary criteria” isn’t an oxymoron. I did include two very sectarian posts but only because they motivated far more interesting discussions. I also excluded a few suggestions because an author was already well represented in what I had collected on my own and, frankly, I liked my choices better. You will see that I tried to impose some structure on all this. But in many cases including a post in a category was even more arbitrary than was my criteria for selection. So look around. Don’t just scroll down to the section that appears to have links that match your abnormal interest. I scattered abnormally interesting stuff all over the place.
Some of you may recognize the clowns and balloons that I’ve also scattered around as section markers. They are from the first carnival I hosted.
Even with all the balloons and gayety of the carnival, I must start by taking a moment to celebrate the memory of three scholars who died last month.
Frederick William Danker:
Frederick William Danker died on February 2. Rod Decker, William Varner, Jim West, Michael Law, P.J. Williams, Ekaterini Tsalampouni and I’m sure others wrote posts in his memory.
Richard Thomas France died February 10 and Peter Head celebrated his teacher’s life and memory.
John Hick died on February 14. Yujin Nagasawa, Jim West, Mark Goodacre, and many others mourned his death.
I guess this should be under the heading Tanakh but I’m not sure. If you prefer that I’d taken it up elsewhere just pretend that I did. Kevin DeYoung suggested ten reasons, all theologically driven, that Christians should/must believe in a historical Adam. Not everyone agreed. James McGrath explains how all ten of DeYoung’s reasons were bad reasons. Michael Law wrote of “Kevin DeYoung’s Misunderstandings,” and followed that up with “Literal Genesis, Metaphorical Jesus,” Chris Tilling wondered how to “debate with ‘capital C’ Conservatives” and James Pate asked, “Did the Ancients Interpret Their Cosmologies Literally?”
And The Evolution of Adam:
RJS discussed the issue of Paul’s take on Adam as part of a review and critique of Peter Enns’ The Evolution of Adam. Gavin Rumney and Jonathan Robinson posted far more sympathetic comments on Enns. Tim Bulkeley took the opportunity to discuss original sin in a fairly original way. Darrell Pursiful liked the way RJS framed the question of the Paul’s Adam. Steve Wiggins took up a related issue by noting that before Paul “the words ‘fall’ and ‘sin’ occur nowhere in the account of Eve and Adam” and that some ancients “toyed with the idea that maybe the first human was actually intersexed (or hermaphroditic) and the word translated ‘rib’ meant ‘side.'” As Steve says, “Genesis 2, in this reading, understood women and men to be equal and of the same creative moment of God.”
For Evolution Weekend, James McGrath presented, Genesis 1-3 on How to Interpret Genesis 1-3.
International Septuagint Day:
Speaking of important holidays, Jim West reminded us that February 8 was International Septuagint Day. While the day may not be all that important, the Septuagint sure is. Claude Mariottini and Darrell Pursiful both mentioned and commented on a piece on the Septuagint written by Michael Heiser. J. K. Gayle wrote a very interesting post on the Septuagint. It is part of his ongoing series, “LXX Psalms.” Check it out.
The Beauty of Moses:
The LXX of Exodus 2:2 and the Christian New Testament in a couple of places mention the beauty of Moses. Jared Calaway and J. K. Gayle exchanged thoughts about this. Gayle also wrote an abnormally interesting post on “Aristotle’s rhetorical Urbanities and the Septuagint’s.”
Psalms 14 and 53 and the Documentary Hypothesis:
James McGrath notes that the major differences between Psalm 14 and Psalm 53 involve the use of divine appellatives.
Psalms 62, 63, 64:
James Pate ran a three part series on Psalms 62, 63 and 64. A lot of noise always seems to come from James’ quite times.
Šā̄paṭ in Psalm 82:
James Spinti came out against cheating in the marketplace. And it’s a good thing too. I occasionally buy books from Eisenbrauns.
The God That Loses (sometimes):
Continuing a series started last month, Claude Mariottini wrote on “Why God Allows Himself To Lose.”
Bob MacDonald shared his work on a semantic dictionary of the Psalter.
Walter Brueggemann discussed his recent book, The Practice of Prophetic Imagination (Fortress. 2011), at There is Power in the Blog. This work is a follow-on to his The Prophetic Imagination (Fortress, 1978).
Your Father and Your Mother:
I’m not sure that Bible and Interpretation counts as a blog, but giving it the benefit of the doubt, Thomas Thompson wrote an abnormally interesting article critiquing ideas of Jewish ethnogenesis: “Your Mother was a Hittite and Your Father an Amorite: Ethnicity, Judaism, and Palestine’s Cultural Heritage”, which was first presented at a seminar dedicated to the Palestinian Heritage of Jerusalem, sponsored by the Jordanian Ministry of Culture on January 28, 2012. (I quote most of this from Deane to whom I give thanks for sparing me the trouble of writing it up.)
Herodotus and Esther:
Looney and James Pate exchanged thoughts on various aspects Herodotus and Esther as historical sources. I do worry that all this is more complex than either Looney or James would lead us to believe. I also worry about referring to an otherwise unnamed scholar as an “atheist scholar” as Looney does. It’s not clear what he or she being or not being an atheist has to do with his or her scholarship.
Aristotle, Proverbs and the Bee:
Suzanne McCarthy studied the bee proverb that is in the Old Greek version of Proverbs 6 but missing from the MT. She called our attention to a parallel in Aristotle’s Historia Animalium. I find myself going to Aristotle’s Historia Animalium surprisingly often.
Qohelet – Fleeting:
Martin Shields posted a few fleeting comments on the use of הבל in Qohelet. He doesn’t much like “fleeting” as a translation. See what you think.
Justice, Ethics, and Theonomy in the Hebrew Bible:
Joseph Kelly discussed Ze’ev Falk’s work on justice and ethics in the Hebrew Bible. Joseph tells us, Falk’s writtings “are unique among works that explore Hebrew Bible ethics in that they explore and attempt to account for the human component of moral discourse that takes place within the text and when texts are read by contemporary readers.” Also, checkout Joseph’s post on “The Gap between Law and Ethics” and his post “Law and Imitation in Hebrew Bible Ethics.”
Deane Galbraith considered how macrophilia might inform biblical studies. In two posts, he considers Daivid, Goliath and Yahweh in 1 Samuel 17 and then Isaiah 40:22-23 as examples. If you don’t know what macrophilia means, check out Deane’s posts. Deane also suggested that Sirach 16:7 may provide the earliest non-angelic interpretation of Genesis 6:1-4 and Jim Davila responded.
Beer and Biblical Studies:
Defying my effort to fit it into any predetermined category, Jim Linville wrote “Tommy Gun Molly’s Swanky Jazz Bar and Seminary: First Semester of Hebrew Almost Over.” Jim also told of humanizing robots and his SBL paper abstract for this coming November’s annual meeting.
Tim Bulkeley asked, “Is there black humour among the Prophets?” He’s also doing a podcast series on the subject.
Christian New Testament
Misquoting Jesus department:
In his February 2 speak, President Obama quoted Luke 12:48. Over at Language Log, Mark Liberman noted that the President didn’t get it exactly right and that he is not the only one to garble it.
The Trouble with the Trouble with Q:
On NTBlog, Mark Goodacre commented on Dan Smith’s Bible and Interpretation piece, “The Trouble with Q.” Mark thinks there’s more trouble than Dan lets on. Ekaterini Tsalampouni also commented on the Dan Smith piece at ΣΕΛΙΔΕΣ. If I understand her correctly and I may not, she has her own issues with Dan.
On Greek Grammar:
Reflecting on D.A. Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies: Second Edition, James Pate took up the Aorist, the Middle, Granville Sharp, and Colwell’s Rule. I took some Greek from Colwell but I always thought he was saying “Colwell rules.” Also check out James’ post on “Mark and Peter (and Also Matthew, John, and Thomas).”
It seemed like the whole Biblical blogosphere took up Dan Wallace’s announcement of a forthcoming publication of an (very?) early fragment of the Gospel of Mark. He first mentioned this fragment during a debate with Bart Erhman. Wallace had more to say on the DTS website. Among the earliest comments were those of Brian LePort and Joel Watts. But it didn’t take long for James McGrath (twice), Jim Davila (twice), Sheffield Biblical Studies (I’m not sure who), Tom Verenna, Michael Law (twice), Jim West, Brian LePort, Mark Goodacre, Peter Head, Larry Hurtado, John Starke, Stephen Carlson, John Byron, Jeffrey García, and two or three thousand others (I don’t have my notes handy so I can’t be exactly sure) expressed varying degrees of skepticism. Most recommenced patience. Let’s wait for the publication. But by mid month something abnormally weird happened. A picture of a supposed fragment of Mark 5:5-18 started to be discussed. I’m not sure but I think Acharya S was the first to mention it. It didn’t take long for the skeptics to pounce. James McGrath, Michael Law, Tim Henderson, Tom Verenna, Mark Goodacre, Brian LePort, Jim Davila, Jim West expressed concerns ranging from “I’m not a Greek paleographer . . but,” to “fake” to “fraudulent.” Just for the record, I see no reason to believe that this supposed fragment has anything to do with the fragment Wallace is talking about. And while I’m exercising my editorial prerogative, should the Wallace fragment prove to be the oldest fragment of the Gospel of Mark it won’t mean all that much. That is unless it has an abnormally interesting variant. Even if it were to prove to be a fragment of the autograph of Mark (and I’m not sure how that could be shown) it won’t mean all that much. We have autographs of lots of things, including this post. Simply having an autograph tells us nothing about the reliability of its contents (including this post). Even the most interesting text critical questions will not go away with an autograph. We will still wonder why and how various variants entered the text.
Mark and Nag Hammadi:
Michael Kok was curious about the reception of Mark as reflected in Nag Hammadi Library and other similar writings. He asked for our help in finding additional resources. In the course of asking, Michael provides some interesting related material.
The Not So Old Syriac Apocryphal Gospel:
And then there was the report of an Old Syriac Apocryphal Gospel from Turkey. The codex appeared to be a copy of the Gospel of Barnaba and was said to be 1500 years old. Not surprisingly, the first I heard of the report was at Jim Davila’s place. But very justified skepticism set in fast. Michael Law found a possible date, 1500. This was later read by one of Michael’s colleagues as “1500 of ‘our Lord.’” Jim West, in his usual understated way, wrote, “this manuscript isn’t ancient, isn’t a gospel, and it’s just nonsense to pimp it off as if it were revolutionary or astonishing.” P.J. Williams said of the manuscript, “anyone who would pay $28,000,000 for this ought to consider doing the world a favour by buying up some toxic debt instead.” Oh yeah, he also provided a transliteration and translation of as much of it as he could read. Steve Caruso summed up both the Not So Old Syriac Apocryphal Gospel and the photo of the supposed Mark fragment in his “Pre-Easter Update – Forgeries & Follies.”
The Masculine Feel:
Suzanne McCarthy discussed ἀνδρεία as an inclusive term which might be best understood as “valiant.”
The Jesus Problem:
The historical Jesus wars continued unabated this month. I select but a few posts to bring you up to date. James McGrath, Cameron and Tom Verenna maintained their tactical positions while Neil Godfrey and Joel Watts attempted flanking operations. Mark Goodacre appears to be making a diplomatic effort with his first in a promised series of podcasts on the Historical Jesus. And Tom Proehl summarized the Einige nichtchristliche Quellen zur Rekonstruktion des Wirkens Jesu. It’s not clear to me that Tom Proehl’s material is all that relevant and I worry that Mark’s best efforts will fail to change minds. I think what we have here is a quest to solve a severely underdetermined problem with methodological certainty.
The Love Problem:
Martin Shields wondered about the meaning of ἀγάπη.
The End of Mark:
Ben Witherington asked us to look at two Greek manuscripts and consider their implications for the ending of the Gospel of Mark. The part he wants us to look at is the missing part. J. K. Gayle discussed Witherington’s post and Mark 16:9-20.
Mark 1:40 – 45:
While we’re on Mark, Jeff Carter posted his reflection on “The Introvert (that would be Jesus in Jeff’s view) and the Leper.”
The Obscure Theological Term Problem:
Ever wonder how to translate ἱλασμός or exactly what “expiation” and “propitiation” might mean? Well Jim West made it all as clear as it can be.
Father in Heaven:
Reflecting on Hans Dieter Betz’s The Sermon on the Mount, James Pate discussed the phrase “Father in Heaven.”
Rhetorical Arrangement and Ancient Letters:
Philip Tite argued for a reorientation in the nature of rhetorical analysis in respect of New Testament epistles, switching to an approach which avoids “forcing the content of a letter into alien compositional frameworks”.
The Christian Canon:
Gavin Rumney shared an update of his article on the Christian canon and Tim Bulkeley recommend it.
The Andemta Commentary:
Roger Pearse wrote a very nice post on the Amharic “Andemta commentary.” I know this doesn’t exactly go under “canon” but I didn’t want to make another short section and I did want to direct you to Roger’s post.
The Ancient Context
I think it was Claude Mariottini who first mentioned the story of Mesopotamian jokes and riddles about sex, beer and politics, but Charles Halton, Jim Linville, and I couldn’t keep from having fun with it.
Doctor Who and the Giants:
James McGrath compared an episode of Dr. Who with ancient tales of the offspring of angels and humans whose bodies were destroyed during the Flood. Jim Davila then directed us to specific texts like 1 Enoch, the Book of the Watchers the Book of Jubilees, and the Talmudic-era Sefer Ha-Razim. Jim notes “I would say this is an example of what we might call the convergence of independent nightmare traditions.” The unquestionable fact of the convergence of independent traditions is among various phenomena that keep me awake at night. Remember, I am interested cultural diffusion and worry that human psychology rather than historical process may sometimes be in play.
I wrote two posts on how the Mesopotamians understood the origin of divination. Some carnival goers may find them interesting.
Gnostics Who Knew Someone . . .:
James Pate provided interesting comments on Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony.
The Nag Hammadi Codices:
Past Horizons posted on a somewhat different approach to the interpretation of the Nag Hammadi Codices: “A new research project will now challenge” the early Gnosticism” approach by interpreting the Coptic texts of these codices within the context of their probable production and use in fourth- and fifth-century Egyptian monasticism.” James McGrath seconded this new approach
Erotica as Context:
Jeremiah Bailey discussed “Pagan Erotica and The Shepherd of Hermas.”
A Strange Trinity:
Jeff Carter told us of “Tupac Shakur, The Testament of Abraham, and the Logos of God.”
Reflecting on all the work that is going on in the Judean Shephelah, Aren Maeir called for a Forum for the Study of the Shephelah. Good idea!
The Hill of Jonah:
From differing perspectives Jim West and Claude Mariottini reported on the excavations at Giv’at Yonah.
The Queen of Sheba’s Mines:
Jim Davila called his post on the supposed discover of the The Queen of Sheba’s Mines, “The Queen of Sheba’s mines?.” Notice the subtle use of the ? in his title. Be sure to follow Jim’s links. Claude Mariottini was not quite so subtle, “I am very skeptical about this discovery.” And Todd Bolen has more than a few doubts.
The Gabriel Inscription:
The always indispensable, Jim Davila directed us to Torleif Elgvin’s website and his posting of his translation and notes on the Gabriel Inscription from Semitica 54 (2012).
Pollen Counts from Rahel’s Garden:
Jim West, Ekaterini Tsalampouni and I all remarked on a recent report of pollen recovery from Ramat Rahel.
Judith Weingarten shared a great post on “Hatshepsut in ‘The Terrace of the Great God’.” While not mentioning it, Judith’s post should still be of great interest to students of the Hebrew Bible.
Ethnic Cleansing of Khirbat Zakariyya:
Did anything happen at Khirbat Zakariyya after Byzantine times? Yes! Deane Galbraith wrote a rather disturbing post on the excavations at Khirbat Zakariyya. Deane tells us, “Although the Lautenschläger Azekah Expedition website provides a reasonably detailed discussion of the biblical David and Goliath story – which no doubt will stimulate the interest of volunteer diggers from North America and South Korea – oddly, there is no discussion of any history of the area since Roman or Byzantine times, nor any mention of the recent destruction layer in 1948.”
Tabor and Jacobovici and “The (so called) Jesus Discovery”
The ASOR featured a series of posts on the all too famous Talpiyot Tombs and Tabor and Jacobovici’s exploitation of them in a new book. Christopher Rollston outlined his epigraphical findings and then focused in on the claims of Tabor and Jacobovici. Rollston also republished a draft of his 2006 Near Eastern Archaeology paper “Inscribed Ossuaries: Personal Names, Statistics, and Laboratory Tests” on his own blog. Eric M.Meyers focused on an image which Tabor and Jacobovici make much of but which seems to Eric to be an image of a tomb monument. Jodi Magness takes up Tabor and Jacobovici’s claims from the perspective of an archaeologist. She’s not happy. Jim Davila, Joseph Lauer, Robert Cargill, Jim West (twice), Antonio Lombatti, Tom Verenna, and Michael Heiser all joined in the debunking. Stephen Smuts, Mark Goodacre and Tom Verenna provided excellent summaries of posts and reports. As the story developed yesterday, Todd Bolen posted a report by Gordon Franz who attended the news conference formally introducingTabor and Jacobovici’s book. James McGrath asked, “Is the New Testament Evidence Compatible with Jesus having been Buried in Talpiot?” Unlikely that it is. Jim Davila posted an update. He includes a lint to Robin Jensen’s ASOR post in which she says among otherthings, “I absolutely refute any claim that I concur with the interpretation of any first-century ossuary iconography as depicting Jonah. Nor do I believe that ‘first-century visual evidence of Christian belief in the resurrection’ has been discovered to date.” Jim West noted that all the scholarly effort has made an impact. He cited an MSNBC story that quotes from various authors who posted to the ASOR blog.
Claude Mariottini reported on a bronze helmet from the time of Neco.
Tools, Methodology and Other Stuff
The Brill Typeface:
I think Christian Brady made the first mention of the introduction of the general availability of the Brill typeface. I couldn’t help but make a few comments on it.
Launching his remarks from the previously mentioned remarks on the historical(!) Adam, Charles Halton provided two helpful suggestions on how we should calibrate our expectations of a biblical text. Charles suggestions work well for any ancient text and more than a few modern texts as well. Darrell Pursiful offered an interesting comment of Charles’ post.
Brenda wonders how software changes the way students do exegesis. But I think the question extends well beyond how students do exegesis.
Open Source Textbooks:
Tim Bulkeley and A K M Adam renewed the subject of developing open source textbooks for biblical studies. This is a worthy project indeed.
Does Boring Mean Historically-Accurate?
James Pate asked the question. And of course the answer is no. Actually James debunks an abnormally interesting and all too common mind set.
Holy non sequitur department:
Amazingly, over at KV8R, Robert Cargill claimed that the Dead Sea scrolls do not ‘confirm’ the discoveries of the Hubble telescope. Yes, amazing as it may seem, Robert was actually addressing someone who claimed otherwise. Tom Verenna provided a satirical compendium to Robert’s post, “Camera Technology in Ancient Rome: The Surprising Facts Revealed!” I sure hope this doesn’t catch on!
Ways of Reading the Bible:
While reminding us of a previous post, Darrell Pursiful suggested “Reading the Bible like an Anthropologist.”
The Typology of Scholars:
Roland Boer (Stalin’s Moustache) continues his typology of scholars with “The Name-Dropper,” “The One In The Position Of Superior Knowledge,” “The Chardonnay Socialist,” “Doceo, ergo pedicabo,” “The Petty-Bourgeois Life-Styler,” “The Businessman,” “The Onion-Grower,” “The Seducer,” and “The Grantsman“. In his email suggesting Roland’s series, Deane Galbraith notes, “Inadvertently, Roland revealed something about his own scholarly type when the former classical philologist couldn’t bear to employ the pig Latin phrase pedagogia ergo sodomoticum, and “corrected” it to doceo, ergo pedicabo.”
While I’ve already mentioned a couple of them, the very productive James Pate devoted four posts to a discussion of D.A. Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies: Second Edition and seven post to Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony. You can find the first one here and the last one here. For the other five, you’re on your own.
Sugarcoating the Bible:
Claude Mariottini doesn’t like it one bit. Neither does Steven James. And they are right. Check out what they said about it last month.
Free Book Department:
Well, almost a free book. Tim Bulkeley offered a review copy of his book Not Only a Father: Talk of God as Mother in the Bible & Christian Tradition (Signs) (Auckland: Archer Press, 2011). I bet if you want to write a review Tim will still let you have a “free” copy.
Upcoming Biblical Studies Carnivals
Next month’s Biblical Studies carnival will be hosted by Jim West at Zwinglius Redivivus. It’s not too soon to begin letting Jim know about your favorite Biblical studies posts. Jim Leville tells me that he is still looking for a host for the May 1 carnival. Contact Jim and give it a try.