Welcome, sports fans, to the March 2011 edition of the Biblical Studies Carnival. I’m afraid those of you reading from outside the USA are going to have to put up with the fact that where I’m from March means college basketball, and that is the theme for this month’s roundup of the best posts from around the biblioblogosphere.
Let’s get ready with a few warm-up drills in the “general Bible” category. First up, James McGrath suggested some Online Resources for Biblical Studies, while Joel Hoffman alerted us to his latest project, a series of Exploring the Bible Videos. Meanwhile, Tom Verenna asked, “Can the Bible Be Trusted?”
Finally, Steven E. Runge stretched our genre-recognizing muscles with Rethinking Genre: Participant-focused narrative.
The First Half
Jim Linville won the tip-off by posting the first post of the month (canonically speaking, of course), “Science, Genesis, and the Fabrication of Scriptural Meaning.” John Hobbins then drove the ball down the court with his discussion of Adam and Eve and Original Sin. You wouldn’t think a big man like Hobbins could be so graceful on the court, but that’s what makes him such a threat. Bacho Bordjadze (whose blog was new to me) supported his teammates by passing on a bibliography of twenty-five key resources for studying the book of Genesis. Also, a Nadder suggested a humanist (or transhumanist) reading of the Tower of Babel story.
Moving on to Exodus, Joel Hoffman scored an easy layup with The Ten Commandments Don’t Forbid Coveting.
Two West Coast powerhouses took on the book of Job. Tyler Williams wrote about Yahweh’s (Inexplicable?) Response to Job. Duane Smith raised an abnormally interesting question about Job 12:7-9: Just How Figuratively Should We Take This? Speaking of suffering and the problem of evil, Jeff Carter re-wrote the book of Lamentations in a modern key. Check out Lamentations: An Incomplete Theodicy.
John Hobbins took it to the paint with his claim that PETA is Right about the Bible. (That reminds me: Is there going to be barbecue at the post-game party?)
Doug Chaplin called for his teammates to set a pick and help him get past his puzzlement with the names of angels in the later Hebrew Bible and Apocrypha/Deuterocanon.
Battle for the Boards
You can’t deny there were some impressive rebounding performances this month as bloggers battled it out under the rim. One highlight had to do with to the dating of Old Testament texts. John Cook looked at Biblical Hebrew Diachrony (Continued), a continuation of a blog conversation that began in a previous post. Can linguistic change help date the biblical texts?
Duane Smith elbowed in with On Dating Mesopotamian Influence in Greek Epic and, obliquely, the Hebrew Bible. I’m waiting for the follow-up post, Duane!
If all of this is getting too confusing, don’t worry. DanielandTanya have provided a helpful summary: LDBT Episode II: The Empire Strikes Back.
By far, however, the most exciting battle in the paint came in that perennial league rivalry between Athens and Jerusalem or, for purposes of this blog, between secular and confessional approaches to biblical studies. Jim Linville wrote When an Academic Society Does the Church’s Work. Can Elephants in the University be Academic? James McGrath countered with The SBL, the Academy, and the Church. Jim followed up with a swipe at a comment from John Hobbins in Just How Badly Can Someone Miss the Point? This was followed by rejoinders by Scott Bailey, John Hobbins, and another by Jim.
The Athens-Jerusalem match-up also produced thought-provoking posts by R. Joseph Hoffman, who discussed The Historian and the Believer, by Van Harvey, and John A. Beck, who asked how the academy can best serve the local church at Zondervan’s Koinonia blog.
The first half also saw some great hustle under the basket related to Francesca Stavrakopoulou’s
new and exciting discovery of restatement of long-acknowledged evidence for devotion to Asherah in ancient Israel. See Jim Davila, Joel Watts, Matt Page, and especially Doug Chaplin. This discussion grew out of a new BBC program ably reviewed by Matt Page (episode one, two, three). Ultimately, Tim Bulkeley snagged the rebound and led an offensive drive with a stimulating series of podcasts exploring the deeper issues of why one reads the Bible in the first place (part one, part two, part three, part four).
In basketball, the transition game is all about switching quickly between defense and offense. In biblioblogging, it’s all about transitioning between Old and New Testaments. This month several top seeds showed us how it’s done. Joel discussed a rather infamous translation issue involving both the Old and New Testaments in “Who Are You Calling a Virgin?”
Bacho Bordjadze is starting a series of posts on Richard Hays’ The Conversion of the Imagination. Check out the first installment of this attempt to figure out Paul as an interpreter of the Old Testament.
Bob McDonald also bridged the testaments with his exploration of the structure of Psalm 22 with an eye toward the Lord’s Prayer.
The halftime show is usually given over to so-called experts either telling people what they already knew if they had been watching or demonstrating how little they actually know about the game. Well, biblioblogging is different, so I thought I’d use the halftime show to highlight some recent developments in archeology. We’ll start off with Duane Smith’s recommendation of the Ebla Digital Archives. Jim Davila also pointed us to a new collection of inscriptions from Jerusalem.
Of course, many of us were concerned about items lost or destroyed from the Cairo Museum in the wake of the political turmoil in Egypt. Dorothy King provided A Leaked Inventory of Missing Items from the Cairo Museum?
The big archeological news at the end of the month had to do with a number of miniature lead codices that might possibly be very early Christian artefacts. Jim West provided the press release. Jim Davila, John Byron, and Doug Chaplin weighed in. Larry Hurtado (speaking, I think, for most if not all of us) told Ziad al-Saad, director of Jordan’s Department of Antiquities and author of the press release, to “Chill, dude.” Larry doesn’t like to be played when it comes to scholarly issues. James McGrath and Tom Verenna provided roundups of responses. The rogueclassicist thinks the whole thing is silly. April DeConick says, “Come on.”
The second half is about to begin, but before we return courtside it’s time to honor several bibliobloggers for their recent accomplishments. Evangelical Textual Criticism signed a new first-round draft pick, John Meade, a PhD candidate at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. (He has my sympathy).
Bob Cargill announced, “It’s a Boy.” Congratulations to the Cargill family!
The PaleoJudaica blog turned eight this month. Congratulations to Jim Davila!
The Second Half
The second-half starting lineup has been busy writing—and during the month of March they used their blogs to tell us about it! Joel Willitts is the co-editor of Jesus, Matthew’s Gospel and Early Christianity: Studies in Memory of Graham N. Stanton. Peter M. Head wrote a chapter, “Textual Criticism and the Synoptic Problem,” for the book New Studies in the Synoptic Problem—“Textual Criticism and the Synoptic Problem.” Rafael Rodriguez shared his SECSOR paper, “Speaking of Jesus: ‘Oral Tradition’ beyond the Form Critics.”
Speaking of Jesus, Tom Verenna attempted to formulate an argument for Jesus’ existence in the form of a syllogism. See James McGrath, Syllogisms, and Logical Analysis. Credit Larry Hurtado for a key assist in offering a guest-post by Paul Owen on The Son of Man, followed by a response from Larry himself. Scott McKnight said that Jesus is “Deliciously Odd.” Also in the Gospels, Gary Manning Jr. provided a survey of Soldiers in the Gospels.
Joel Watts has been working on an exegesis paper on Mark 5:1-20 and has shared the fruits of his labor (part one, part two, part three). He also threaded through the defense with a provocative post on the faith of the Centurion.
Mark Goodacre, one of the best point guards in the league, chalked up an impressive number of assists, posting several video clips of interviews with NT scholars from The Christ Files website. Mark helped these other scholars shine: Geza Vermes giving a Jewish view of Jesus, Christopher Tuckett on Q, Richard Bauckham on the Gospels as biography and history, and Martin Hengel talking about the New Testament and history, and, well, just being Martin Hengel.
Matthew Crowe tipped in an alternate reading of John 2:11.
Turning to Paul, Michael F. Bird discussed the meaning of “glorified” in Romans 8:30 and Craig Bennett argued that Paul used the same argument in Romans 9:4-5 and Ephesians 1:3-5.
Tim Henderson summarized Michael Holmes’ essay, “Text and Transmission in the Second Century” in his post, How Well Does the Late-Second Century NT Text Represent the First-Century Text?
Doug Chaplin pondered unity and diversity in early Christianity.
The new online version of the Liddell-Scott-Jones Greek lexicon hailed by many last month has been scuttled because of piracy concerns. Mark Goodacre and A. D. Riddle were first (to my knowledge) with the particulars.
And, of course, you’ll want to read Chris Zeichmann’s slam-dunk Interview with James Crossley.
Like many basketball fans, I love to see a team playing tenacious defense. And like many biblioblog fans, I love to see a blogger stepping up to deny his or her opponents an easy shot. In that vein, Rod of Alexandria explained The Non-Bible & Why Evangelicals Should Love the Gospel of Mary. (Hint: It isn’t for very flattering reasons.)
Bill Heroman pushed back against the common assumption that Salome’s dance before her uncle/stepfather Herod Antipas was salacious in nature.
Charles Halton challenged Bart Ehrman’s use of the F-word.
Nothing gets the crowd on its feet like a three-pointer, and there were some amazing performances in three-point territory this month. Ronald Helfrich hit nothing but net with Pop Matters “Note to Self, Religion Freaky”: When Buffy Met Biblical Studies.
James McGrath showed his usual finesse in nailing Two Unconvincing Mythicist “Criteria of Inauthenticity.” He quickly followed up with Mythicism and the Blood of Heavenly Beings.
Finally, in what can only be compared to a last-second stunner from mid-court, Tim Ricchuiti aggregated all the RSS feeds from biblioblogs listed at the Biblioblog Top 50 site and made them available in one place. And the crowd went wild!
Bracket-busters are those unexpected victories no one would have predicted, yet everyone loves to watch. This month’s biblioblogging produced its fair share of unpredictable, whimsical moments that made a lot of fans throw up their hands in amazement. For instance, can anyone forget the time Jim West favorably quoted N. T. Wright?
Curtis “Voice” Allen made a rap about the Westminster Catechism and somehow convinced D. A. Carson to
sing along rap along randomly shout “Westside.”
Though not published this month, the December 2010 issue of Biblical Studies Bulletin became available online in March, with a couple of exegetical pieces well suited for a Carnival posted on April 1. Thanks to Mark Goodacre for bringing these studies to light.
Bacho Bordjadze offered Dating Tips for Single PhDs in Biblical Studies.
Nor should we forget Jim Linville’s Lolcat Jim West competition (although some of us have tried).
Most Valuable Player
My vote for this month’s MVP is James McGrath of Exploring our Matrix. He has played a fantastic game in the paint, scored consistently, and continues to be a distinguished leader both on and off the court. Plus, he’s the only blogger I know of whose institution made it to the Final Four!
In addition to his admirable work linked elsewhere in this carnival, let me point you to his thorough review of Bart Ehrman’s Forged. He also shared a chapter of a book he has edited, Religion and Science Fiction. Check out “Robots, Rights and Religion.”
I’ve already highlighted James’ work under the boards. He also earned a fair number of assists, passing off to Tom Verenna, who responded to two McGrath posts with substantive discussions of Narrative Function in Luke-Acts and Intertextuality.
If biblical studies is the game, then obviously the post-game commentary consists of theology, ethics, and other modes of reflection on what the game tells us. The most contentious topic in this category was no doubt Rob Bell’s book Love Wins, which has ignited a good bit of controversy over charges of universalism, primarily among people who’ve never read it. Scot McKnight provided a roundup of reviews from folks who actually did. He also noted Jeff Cook’s comment that all of Bell’s supposedly “universalist” assertions were prefigured decades ago by C. S. Lewis. Bob McDonald and Suzanne McCarthy have also been thinking about heaven and hell this month.
Two bloggers engaged in a bit of pastoral theology from beyond the perimeter in answering the question, Could Esau repent? (Heb 12:17). Michael Patton and Iver Larsen both said, “Yes”—but for different grammatical reasons.
Jared Calaway posted a memoir of Alan Segal titled “Remembrance and Resting.”
Bloggers this month announced numerous upcoming conferences. Madeleine Flanagan announced On the God Topic: Responding with Reason and Precision (Houston TX, April 1-2). Jim Davila shared about Ancient Jewish Science and the History of Knowledge (New York University, April 4). Claude Mariottini invited us to consider Iconoclasm and Text Destruction in the Ancient Near East and Beyond (University of Chicago, April 8-9). Tyler Williams and Tony Chartrand-Burke both announced “Ancient Gospel or Modern Forgery? The Secret Gospel of Mark in Debate” (York University, April 29). The rogueclassist pointed us to New Discoveries in Greek Epigraphy (British Epigraphy Society, May 7)
Also, beginning in June Bob Cargill is offering a summer course at UCLA on the Dead Sea Scrolls and Early Judaism.
Be sure to tune in for next month’s Carnival, when Jim Linville will take on the hosting duties at Dr. Jim’s Thinking Shop & Tea Room. I hope to see you there, sports fans!