Welcome to the XXXIXth Biblical Studies Carnival. I’m pleased to be your humble host for this month’s collection of Biblical studies on the Web. There were an abundance of worthies this month. In compiling this Carnival, I have endeavored to follow the advice of Elmore Leonard, who said, “My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: when you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip.”
If your submission didn’t make the cut — and you aren’t a spambot — then I encourage you to try harder next time.
And now, let the festivities begin!
LANGUAGES AND TRANSLATION
There were several good posts about biblical languages, language learning, and translation this month. To start things off, take a look at Daniel’s (or is it Tanya’s?) post at Hebrew and Greek Reader on “The Bruce Lee of Biblical Hebrew” on cognitive linguistics and an eclectic approach to language learning. Now that is a mental picture I’ll remember for a good long time!
Mike Aubrey noted some “Challenges for Literal Translation: Lessons from 4 Maccabees” at his blog, ἐν Ἐφέσῳ. Meanwhile, Bill Mounce asked “What to Do with Metaphors in Bible Translation?” at Zondervan’s Koinonia blog. Where do we draw the line between “translating” them and letting them stand?
And finally, David Ker pondered how publishers and translators sometimes muck up our Bibles through “Dissection Headings” and “Versification Complications.” You can find the details at the always-worth-a-look Better Bibles Blog.
As usual, Jim Davila went above and beyond the call of duty at PaleoJudaica in keeping the biblioblogosphere informed of the latest news pertaining to archeological discoveries with relevance to Biblical study. For example, he pointed to a cuneiform tablet at the Bible Lands Museum” that may (or more likely may not) shed light on the origins of Tu B’Shvat, but which is an interesting find nonetheless. Jim also brought attention to some controversies that—directly or indirectly—involve archeology and ancient Judaism.
Bloggers were discussing two noteworthy archeological finds this month. A nearly intact Greek inscription from the second century BC, believed to be part of the Heliodoros Stele, received attention from (among others) Todd Bolen of Bible Places Blog and Dorothy King, everyone’s favorite PhDiva.
Also, several bloggers weighed in on the ancient Hebrew inscriptions from Umm Tuba. Jim Davila (of course!) announced the discovery of these royal seals from the time of King Hezekiah. John Hobbins of Ancient Hebrew Poetry provided text and translation of one of these seal impressions in order to illustrate “how much we do not know with certainty about Ancient Hebrew names.” Claude Mariottini indulged his inner geographer in order to put Umm Tuba on the (biblical) map.
February came to a close with announcement of new fragments of the Turin King List, one of the earliest documents pertaining to the history of ancient Egypt. The Discovery Channel had the scoop, and Antonio Lombatti announced the news to the blogosphere in “Trovati frammenti di papiro del temp di Ramesse II.”
Turning to the Bible itself, there were several notable posts of a more or less general nature. Some of these dealt with critical methodologies or thematic issues that straddle the two Testaments; others were just interesting.
Peter Head of Evangelical Textual Criticism, posted a comment from Andrew Wilson raising questions about the validity of lectio difficilior (and inviting a defense of same). Check out “The More Difficult Reading?” Also on the text-critical front, Rick Brannan compared various textual commentaries in “Comfort, Metzger, Omanson, NET, and Westcott & Hort” at ricoblog.
If canonical criticism is more your cup of tea, you may appreciate Bryan Bibb’s brief note about that method’s strengths and weaknesses, “On Broad Vistas and Close-Ups: Canonical Criticism” at Hevel.org. And for a little levity, also check out “How to Please ‘Theological Interpretation’ Scholars” by Nijay K. Gupta. You may also want to follow John Hobbins’s lead and put a particular commentary on your Amazon.com wish list.
Or perhaps you’re more interested in hermeneutical questions raised by anthropological and/or cross-cultural issues. If so, I invite your comments on my post, “How to Read the Bible like a Pagan,” which was provoked by David Ker’s post at Lingamish on “Christian animism.”
What Biblical Studies Carnival would be complete without someone pondering the nature of biblical inspiration? This month, we have Michael Heiser of The Naked Bible, whose discussion of inerrancy/inspiration straddled the end of January and the beginning of February. John Hobbins interacted with Michael in “A definition of Scripture that conforms to the realia of the text.”
Ken Schenck of Quadrilateral Thoughts posted an Interview with Peter Enns, author of Inspiration and Incarnation (Baker, 2005), in four (and counting?) installments (here, here, here, and here). At Jesus Creed, Scot McKnight interacted with several evangelical scholars and their views of Scripture in “Enns, Sparks, Arnold, and Chapman on the OT.”
From an entirely different point of view, James McGrath of Exploring Our Matrix asked whether being “made up” should be considered something negative when referring to biblical narratives. For my money, however, James’s most interesting post this month was “Big Yellow Taxi, Bruckner’s Symphonies and Scholarly Confusion Between Orality and Quantum Mechanics.” In this post, which is at least as intriguing as its title, James uses recent musical works to reflect on orality and the search for the “original form” of sayings and traditions.
We’ll round out the “general Bible” section with a couple of book reviews. Jim West reviewed “King and Messiah as Son of God” by John and Adela Collins. Will Willamon, A Peculiar Prophet indeed, reviewed Cokesbury’s new Wesley Study Bible in “Reading the Bible Like Wesleyans.”
TANAKH/OLD TESTAMENT/HEBREW BIBLE
Feb 8 was International Septuagint Day, but apparently the only biblioblogger to remember was Tyler Williams of Codex. At least, everybody else I found who made mention of the day also linked to Tyler’s post, “Reasons to Study the Septuagint.” Way to go, Tyler, and let’s hope you’re equally astute at remembering your anniversary!
Tyler also compiled an excellent annotated list of “New and Forthcoming Commentaries on Genesis.” James McGrath wrote several posts related to topics in Genesis, including notes from a Sunday school class he taught on the Priestly creation account and a post in which James wonders whether Genesis 1:24 teaches that the ancient Hebrews believed in spontaneous generation.
Before we leave Genesis, I would also point you to Sophie Clucker’s post “Mandrakes” at Bible Study Connection, in which she explained everything you need to know about mandrakes and the fertility they were believed to provide, in particular in relation to Genesis 30.
And on the Pseudepigrapha front, Andrei Orlov made available his paper on the angelic-like transformation of Enoch in 2 Enoch and the role of oil in anointing Enoch with God’s glory. Check out “Воскресение тела Адама: искупительная роль Еноха-Метатрона во 2-ой (Славянской) книге Еноха.” What? You don’t read Russian? Actually, neither do I, but this dodgy machine translation will give you the gist of it.
I greatly appreciate it when bibliobloggers take the time to provide concise factual information about portions of Scripture that are not at the center of my field of vision. Claude Mariottini has done this with his recent series on King Hezekiah (part one, two, three, four). Similarly, Wan Wei Hsien of Torn Notebook supplied some early rabbinical comments on the story of Jonah in a three-part series (part one, two, three)
On the Exilic Judaism front, Charles Halton shared his published reviews of “Mixing Metaphors: God as Mother and Father in Deutero-Isaiah” by Sarah Dille and “The Templeless Age: An Introduction to the History, Literature, and Theology of the ‘Exile’” by Jill Middlemas at his blog, Awilum.
Finally, Jim West interviewed Thomas Thompson on the occasion of his retirement.
A number of February posts dealt with the quest(s) of the Historical Jesus. At her Forbidden Gospels Blog, April De Conick announced that “The Jesus Seminar Jesus is Bankrupt” in a four-part critique of both the Jesus Seminar and the Jesus Project (part one, two, three, four). See also her postcript, “My Decision about the Jesus Project.”
Rick Brannan was once again (still?) blogging on the Pastoral Epistles and in particular linguistic arguments about their authorship. He noted an interesting bit of trivia in “A. Q. Morton on Authorship Attribution (and Stylometry)” and explored Pauline usage of various Greek expressions of gratitude in “‘I have thanks’ in First and Second Timothy.”
Another major theme this month was N. T. Wright’s new book, Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision (SPCK, 2009). Douglas Wilson has been reviewing the book in meticulous detail at Blog and Mablog (part one, two, three, —oh heck, here’s the whole thing!). Trevin Wax of Kingdom People also posted an “Interview with N. T. Wright” in which he discussed the book. Also, Michael Bird of Euangelion reported on Guy Prentiss Waters’ recent interview discussing Wright and Justification.
The biblioblogosphere was reeling in February from the abrupt disappearance of N. T. Wrong.
The anti-bishop came out of seclusion long enough to be interviewed as Biblioblogs‘ Blogger of the Month. His remarks provoked a heated response from David Ker (and a subsequent attempt to explain himself) and a thoughtful article by Stephen C. Carlson on “Ethical Considerations Relating to Pseudonymous Biblioblogging” at Hypotyposeis. Love him or hate him, you’ve got to admit Wrong makes the blogosphere an interesting place.
While Mark Goodacre was “On the Trail of N T Wrong,” Jim West was providing a new home for Biblical Studies Carnival XXXVII, which he hosted. There is also now a new home for the Biblioblog Top 50. I’d tell you the name of the group responsible, but I’m afraid it would overload my spell-checker.
Speaking of Jim West, the good doctor took the initiative in creating an SBL Facebook group. And speaking of Biblical Studies Carnivals, BSC XXXVIII made a belated appearance at Judy Redman’s research blog. It was well worth the wait, Judy!
Thanks to everyone who contributed to this month’s Carnival, and to all who stopped by to read it. BSC XL, featuring blog posts from the month of March, will appear on or around April 1 at James Gregory’s Blog.