Welcome to the 37th Biblical Studies Carnival (December 2008), or ‘the Spectre of a Carnival that never was’.
A) General Matters in Biblioblogging and Biblical Studies
The featured biblioblogger for the month of December 2008 was Mark V. Hoffman, who blogs at Biblical Studies and Technological Tools, while the Number One biblioblogger on the Biblioblog Top 50 was Ben Witherington III. There is a further interview – well worth a squiz – provided by Daniel and Tonya (Hebrew and Greek Reader), who fired 20 questions at Michael Heiser, editor at Logos Bible Software and part-time UFO-expert.
December was the official month of publication of the first academic book about bibliobloggers: James Crossley’s Jesus in an Age of Terror: Scholarly Projects for a New American Century ( Equinox, 2008 ). Crossley’s book provides a review of posts from a number of bibliobloggers past and present, including Loren Rossen (The Busybody), Jim Davila (Paleojudaica), and Michael Bird (Evangelion).
B) Linguistics, Text, and Translation
Danny Zacharias shared some great Greek-learning tools which he has developed: songs for learning Greek, with videos. Now, learning the Greek alphabet, the first declension, and the present active indicative has become more fun than Playstation karaoke.
A debate erupted, yet again, concerning bible translation, and the relative merits of dynamic and formal equivalency. It all stemmed from a Better Bibles Blog post in late November on Matt 9.30a, the comments section for which continued to expand dynamically, well into December. There were a number of responses from the formal-equivalent-favouring John Hobbins (of Ancient Hebrew Poetry). Mark Strauss (Koinonia) criticised the ESV. David Ker (Lingamish) opined that the REB sounds like Hyacinth Bucket to him. Jim Getz provided comments on translating The Iliad. ElShaddai Edwards (He Is Sufficient) defended the REB, and Rich Rhodes (Better Bibles Blog) just wanted to avoid Biblish.
Mike Aubrey (ἐν ἐφέσῳ) considered the Use of Linguistics In New Testament Studies, and warned us not to forget the old dead grammarians. And Rod Decker (N.T. Resources) reassured us that the Greek absolute genitive need not be all that frightening.
After posting on loanwords from Akkadian to Biblical Hebrew every Friday for months, Duane Smith (Abnormal Interests) decided to provide a definition and discussion of the term ‘loanword’.
C) Theory and Reception
Roland Boer (Stalin’s Moustache) provided us with intriguing overviews to three of his forthcoming books. Political Grace: The Revolutionary Theology of John Calvin “examines a tension between the radical possibilities of [Calvin’s] theological system and the effort to restrain those possibilities in light of his innate conservatism.” Political Myth: On the Use and Abuse of a Biblical Theme employs Alain Badiou, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, and psychoanalysts, amongst others, to develop a political myth for the political left. Criticism of Earth: On Marx, Engels and Theology explores Marx and Engels’ engagements with theology and the Bible.
D) Early Judaism
John Hobbins examined the uses and limitations of online Hebrew resources.
Duane Smith showed an abnormal interest in the literacy of biblical kings and queens, and indeed in royalty throughout the ancient world.
Charles Halton kindly provided us with a copy of his article about figurative language concerning Ninevah in Jonah. And Michael Heiser provided a copy of his EABS paper, ‘The Concept of a Godhead in Israelite Religion’.
E) Early Christianity
Mark Goodacre’s November 2008 posting of his SBL paper, ‘Dating the Crucial Sources in Early Christianity’ received a response from April DeConick (The Forbidden Gospels), entitled ‘SBL Memories 2: Dating our sources’, to which Mark Goodacre responded in turn, and later followed up with a further post on dating Mark after AD 70, to which James Crossley (of Earliest Christian History) then responded.
Tony Burke (Apocryphicity) provided a detailed summary of the controversial SBL session on Secret Mark (cf. Stephen C. Carlson’s summary on Hypotyposeis), which provoked a response from chairperson Mark Goodacre (who had earlier commented on the session here), and elicited further responses from Evangelical Textual Criticism, Josh McManaway, and Michael Barber.
April DeConick (The Forbidden Gospels) made a passionate case for becoming more scientific in biblical studies, advocating that scholars carry out social scientific experimentation, in particular in relation to human memory – which prompted a cautionary reply from Mark Goodacre, to which April replied in turn in two further posts. Mark then provided reasons for his scepticism, in a review of April DeConick’s, “Human Memory and the Sayings of Jesus” in Tom Thatcher (ed.), Jesus, the Voice and the Text (2008). N. T. Wrong offered a suggestion as to how scientific method could be utilised.
Ekaterini G. Tsalampouni (Ιστολόγιο βιβλικών σπουδών / Biblical Studies Blog) blogged chapter summaries of H.-J. Klauck’s new book, Die apokryphe Bibel (2008): Introduction, Chapter 1 (Gospel of Judas), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13.
N. T. Wrong provided excerpts from his allegedly forthcoming book, 100 Reasons πίστις Χριστοῦ is an Objective Genitive, including reasons no. 1, 2, 14, 15, 19, 16, 22, 47, 63, 94, 64, 76, 81, and 33 (in that order). A blog storm ensued, with responses by Loren Rossen (The Busybody), Doug Chaplin (Metacatholic, here, here, and here), Mike Aubrey (ἐν ἐφέσῳ), James McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix), John Hobbins (Ancient Hebrew Poetry), Daniel and Tonya (Hebrew and Greek Reader, here, here, here, here, here, and here), Rick Brannan (Rico Blog), James Gregory, David Ker (Lingamish), Peter Kirk (Gentle Wisdom), and Ken Schenck (Quadrilateral Thoughts).
April DeConick discussed the ‘Judas Gem’, which she had previously discussed in relation to the SBL session on Judas. Her full exposition of these issues will appear in her forthcoming revised and expanded edition of The Thirteenth Apostle: What the Gospel of Judas Really Says.
James McGrath reflected on the foibles of biblical literalism and inerrancy, here, here, and here. Martin Shields (Shields Up) problematized “the plain meaning of scripture”. Art Boulet (Finitum Non Capax Infiniti) questioned whether G.K. Beale completely missed the point in his recent book, The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism: Responding to New Challenges to Biblical Authority. Although Beale attempts to discredit Peter Enns and his views, Art suspected that the book might win the “The-Book-So-Plagued-By-Misrepresenting-Its-Opponent-That-It-Renders-It-Completely-Worthless Award”.
Phil Harland (Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean) provided a podcast examining diversity amongst the various strands of Christianity in Asia Minor.
April DeConick summarised her newly released article on Valentinian sex. James McGrath reviewed Andreas J. Kostenberger and Scott R. Swain’s 2008 book on the trinity in John’s Gospel, Father, Son and Spirit, and questioned their claim to avoid anachronism. Jim West drew attention to an interview with Gerd Lüdemann. Phil Harland provided a copy of an article he assisted David Instone-Brewer with writing, published in the Journal of Greco-Roman Judaism and Christianity (2008): “Jewish Associations in Roman Palestine: Evidence from the Mishnah”. Michael Bird (Evangelion) revealed he had his hands all over N.T. Wright’s goodies before anybody else, and reviewed his advance copy of the soon-to-be-published Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision (2009), a response to critics such as John Piper. Ken Schenck began a review of John P. Meier’s epic novel, The Marginal Jesus: Rethinking the Historical Jesus (1991), which reached six parts in December: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.
And given it was the Christmas season, Ben Witherington felt the need to defend the ‘historicity’ of the Virgin Birth against all odds to the contrary, as did Joel L. Watts, while Michael W. Halcomb asked if Mary was raped by God, and James McGrath found little of historical value in the Gospel accounts. Doug Mangum (Biblia Hebraica) discussed ‘amah and betulah, while Airton José da Silva (Observatório Bíblico) questioned the political bias of the stories, Harrie A. van Duijvenbode (Aldus sprak Harrie) questioned the historicity of the stories, while Doug Chaplin noted that the Infancy Gospel of James provides the most comprehensive test of Mary’s virginity. Matt Page reviewed the BBC’s documentary, Star of Bethlehem.
The pick of the crop in this month’s spurious archaeological claims, aside from BAR that is, was the news report that a perfume bottle found at Magdala could be linked to Mary Magdalene. The claims were pooh-poohed by Mark Goodacre, Jim Davila, and Todd Bolen.
Chris Heard (Higgaion) noted that Yosef Garfinkel and Saar Ganor had posted the slideshow from their 2008 ASOR presentation on Khirbet Qeiyafa, and rightly cautioned that the ostracon is hardly proof “that David killed Goliath or anything of that sort.” Also note Duane Smith’s caution concerning the high-low chronology debate.
G) Moral Outrage and Righteous Indignation
A Newsweek article on gay relationships and the Bible provoked replies from bibliobloggers who believed that this outburst of being fair to gay people by “liberals” represented persecution of Christians: e.g. Darrell Bock, Robert A. J. Gagnon. However, some Presbyterians quite liked the popularist article: e.g. Fred Anderson, John Shuck.
Biblical Studies Carnival XXXVIII (January 2009) is the next carnival in the sequence, but due to a strange anachronicity, it has already been published by Judy Redman.