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On Not Screwing Up the Noah Story

Pete Enns’s musings about the ark museum in Kentucky have led him to propose three important road signs for navigating the story successfully. Since my REL 130 students will be grappling with this story next week, I thought I’d link to what Dr. Enns has to say. The all-too-insufficient summary goes like this:

  1. The flood story seems to be rooted in history.
  2. The story of Noah and the flood, though rooted in history, is also rooted in the stories told among other ancient people living in or near Mesopotamia.
  3. The story does not depict an “accurate” account of history, but the ancient Israelites’ understanding of that long-past event that survived in cultural memory.

And here’s a brief snippet to encourage you to hop on over and see what Dr. Enns is getting at:

The reason given in Genesis for this need to start over is human wickedness. Now, this raises (and has raised for a long time) all sorts of problems, namely why God goes so over-the-top. We’re only in the 6th chapter of the Bible. Couldn’t God think of another solution or was drowning the only option?

But this may be asking the wrong question. Rather than trying to explain why God would do such and such, it is more fruitful to ponder what this story tells us about Israel’s understanding of God.

The reason the gods flood the earth in the Atrahasis epic is because humans, who were created for slave labor, were making too much noise. The Israelites, on the other hand, had something else to say about the character of their God and the obligation of humanity to God as creatures created in God’s image.

They had a different theology.

July 2016 Biblical Studies Carnival

This month’s Carnival is now posted at Philip Long’s Reading Acts blog. Enjoy!

June 2016 Biblical Studies Carnival

Kris Lyle of Old School Script hosts this month’s Carnival. He has opted to go with a TV theme for all us biblical couch potatoes. Well done!

Sound Exegesis: It Does The Body Good

No purportedly biblical position on any issue is served by sloppy exegesis. Especially when the exegete implies, or downright states, that the possible interpretation he or she proposes is, in fact, the only possible interpretation.

Thus, I commend to you Ian Paul’s “Did Jesus Heal the Centurion’s Gay Lover?” (Spoiler: Maybe, but even if he did, it doesn’t mean what some people want it to mean.)

Twelve Affirmations about the Bible

John Pavlovitz, “5 Things I Wish Christians Would Admit about the Bible

Michael Byrd, “7 Things I Wish Christians Knew about the Bible

May 2016 Biblical Studies Carnival

The next Biblical Studies Carnival is now posted at Brian Renshaw’s eponymous blog. If you are interested in top-notch biblical scholarship and/or are an Alice Cooper fan, you owe it to yourself to go see.

Biblical Tribalism

Good words from Scot McKnight:

The Bible you carry is a political act. By “Bible” I mean the Translation of the Bible you carry is a political act. Because the Bible you carry is a political act the rhetoric about other translations is more politics than it is reality. The reality is that the major Bible translations in use today are all good, and beyond good, translations. There is no longer a “best” translation but instead a basket full of exceptional translations.

I wish I could claim credit for this aphorism, or that I could even remember where I first heard it, but I’ve long said the best Bible translation is the one you’ll actually read.

Knight continues,

Each of these Bibles is a good translation. We need to teach our church people that and knock off the politics of translation. Maybe you should vary from week to week which translation you use, announce your translation, and then affirm the value of that translation.

A year of confusing the politics out Bible translations might bring the most clarity!

Food for thought.