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Archive for May, 2005

CSBS Monday Report

30th May 2005

There was another excellent Hebrew Bible session Monday morning. I had the honor of hearing papers from two former students (Ken Ristau and Tim Goltz) who are both in doctoral programs (Ken at Penn State and Tim at McGill). Here are some highlights:

Tim Goltz (a doctoral student at McGill University) presented a paper entitled “Two Rhetorical Methods for Two Historical Audiences: Reading and Hearing Texts in Ancient Israel” in which he provided an excellent survey of rhetorical approaches to the Hebrew Bible. He organized them in two general approaches: rhetoric as the art of composition (aka the “Muilenberg” school with Lundbom, Trible, and Sternberg) and rhetoric as the art of persuasion (Patrick, Scult, and Duke).

Ken Ristau (a doctoral student at Pennsylvania State University) presented a compelling paper on the Chronicler’s Josiah called “Of Prophets and Monarchs: The Death of Josiah in Chronicles.” Ken argued that the presentation of Josiah in Chronicles lacks the typical joy and blessing that one would expect in Chronicles and that his death is presented ironically. Furthermore, while Josiah’s reforms are presented as the consummation of the Davidic promise, his death marks its end. (Perhaps Ken will provide a more detailed summary on his blog?)

There were a couple of rather entertaining papers in the morning that shared a similar intertextual method. Christine Mitchell (St. Andrew’s College, Sask) linked Haggai and Saskatoon in her paper “Temperance, Temples and Colonies: Reading the Book of Haggai in Saskatoon” while James Linville (University of Lethbridge) went down the rabbit hole and explored “Bugs Through the Looking Glass: The Infestation of Meaning in Joel.” Christine’s paper drew some interesting parallels between the founding of Saskatoon as a temperance colony and Persian period Yehud — particularly how they both were “charter groups” supported by outsiders (in Toronto and Persia, respectively).

Rounding out the morning were papers by Robert Culley (McGill University) and R. Glenn Wooden (Acadia Divinity College). Culley’s presentation on the individual laments (“Reading the Complaints of the Individual”) drew from his lifetime of studying the psalms. After discussing his take on genre (which focuses more on Gunkel’s form rather than Sitz im Leben) and traditional language in the psalms, he worked through a number of laments (Psalms 3, 7, 88, and 22). He summed up his paper emphasizing the importance of considering both the generic elements of the psalms (the group) as well as the unique features of any given psalm (the individual). Glen’s paper, “Daniel against the wise-men: the nuanced use of wisdom terms in Daniel 1-2,” argued, among other things, that the term ‏משׂכלים (mskylym) as used in Daniel separates Daniel and his friends from the other wise men.

All in all there were some interesting sessions on Monday.

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CSBS Sunday Report

29th May 2005

The first day of meetings of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies were held on Sunday. Here are some highlights.

Hebrew Bible Session Highlights
The papers in this first session were excellent, IMHO. Here are my thoughts on select papers:

Keith Bodner (who is leaving Tyndale University College and heading out east this summer to join the faculty of Atlantic Baptist University) presented a witty and engaging paper entitled, “The Fellowship of the King: Some Remarks on a Formative Interaction.” I couldn’t think of a better way to start the day! Keith always gives entertaining and informative papers. Based on a close rereading of 1 Samuel 9, Keith highlighted the narrative conflict between Prophet and King (Samuel and Saul) in this early passage — a conflict that would characterize Saul’s turbulent reign. One of the points that I appreciated was his characterization of the girls’ speech in 1 Sam 9:11-13 as confused language (following Rendsburg’s article, “Confused Language as a Deliberate Literary Device in Biblical Hebrew Narrative,” JHS 2:6 [1999]). In addition, Keith argued that Saul’s inability to follow the girls’ instructions (in that he didn’t just go up and find the seer, but he asked where the seer’s house was even though the girls told him he was visiting) foreshadows his inability to follow directions. Marie-France Dion from Concordia University read a paper on the same passage entitled “Who was Samuel to Saul.” In contrast to Keith’s literary approach, Dion presented a source-critical analysis of the passage, arguing that 9:1-2a, 13a, 15-16, 17b, 20-21, 27b; 10:5b-6, 8-9, 10b-13 are secondary additions to the ur-text.

Gary N. Knoppers , from Pennsylvania State University, read a paper entitled, “‘Give Me that Old-time Religion’: The Revival of Israelite Religion in Postexilic Samaria.” While Gary didn’t break out into song, he did highlight the multi-vocal nature of the passage describing the end of the northern kingdom of Israel in 2 Kings 17. On the one hand, this passage presents the cultis of the remaining and imported inhabitants of the northern kingdom positively, when after being punished by Yahweh with the lion attacks (v. 25), they are instructed in “old-time (northern) religion” by a repatriated priest so that the lion attacks stop (vv. 26-28). Thus, the very sins that condemn the original northerners, saves the new settlers! On the other hand, the passage goes on in the rest of the chapter to criticize the same people for their abandonment of Yahweh as if they were the original covenant people (but they — or at least the majority of them — are not). Gary takes these differing perspectives to suggest that the DtrH is not the product of a monolithic school, but preserves diverse perspectives on the northern kingdom. Thus this passage is not quite the anti-Samaritan polemic that many scholars think it is.

The last paper in the morning session was from my good friend (hmm… I also consider Gary to be a good friend) Mark Boda of McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton. He presented on “Freeing the Burden of Prophecy:‏מַשָּׂא(massa’) and the Legitimacy of Prophecy in Zechariah 9-14.” In this paper Mark debunked the notion that the Hebrew term ‏מַשָּׂא (massa’) is best understood as “burden” since it doesn’t only introduce negative prophecies. The term is also not a genre tag that introduces an exposition of a previously communicated expression of the divine will as Richard Weis suggests in his 1986 Claremont dissertation. In contrast, Mark demonstrated that the term can introduce and type of prophetic oracle and its use in Zechariah 9:1, 12:1 and Malachi 1:1 represents a renewal of prophecy in response to Jeremiah’s earlier prohibition in Jer 23:33-40.

Knoppers’ 1 Chronicles Commentary Honoured
At the annual banquet Sunday night Dr. Gary Knoppers won the R.B.Y. Scott Book Award for his Anchor Bible Commentary on 1 Chronicles. This award is for an outstanding book in the area of Hebrew Bible or Ancient Near Eastern studies by a member of the CSBS. I couldn’t think of a better book or person to receive this prestigious award. Well done, Gary!

I highly recommend Gary’s commentary on 1 Chronicles:

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Canadian Society of Biblical Studies Annual Meeting

28th May 2005

The Canadian Society of Biblical Studies begins its 2005 annual meetings later this morning in London, Ontario. I am set up in my dorm room with hi-speed internet, so I figured I would highlight some of the upcoming sessions relating to Hebrew Bible/Old Testament:

Sunday Morning Sessions

  • Keith Bodner (Tyndale University College) “The Fellowship of the King: Some Remarks on a Formative Interaction”
  • Marie-France Dion (Concordia University) “Who was Samuel to Saul? A Critical Analysis of I Sam 9:1-10:16; 10:17-27: 11:1-15″
  • Gord Oeste (Wycliffe College) “Legitimation and Delegitimation in Judges 9: Abimelech’s Rise and Demise”
  • Gary N. Knoppers (Pennsylvania State University) “‘Give Me that Old-time Religion’: The Revival of Israelite Religion in Postexilic Samaria”
  • Mark Boda (McMaster Divinity College) “Freeing the Burden of Prophecy: maśśa and the Legitimacy of Prophecy in Zechariah 9-14″

Monday Morning Sessions

  • Tim Goltz (McGill University) “Two Rhetorical Methods for Two Historical Audiences: Reading and Hearing Texts in Ancient Israel”
  • Ken Ristau (Pennsylvania State University) “Of Prophets and Monarchs: The Death of Josiah in Chronicles”
  • Christine Mitchell (St. Andrew’s College) “Temperance, Temples and Colonies: Reading the Book of Haggai in Saskatoon”
  • Robert Culley (McGill University) “Reading the Complaints of the Individual”
  • James Linville (University of Lethbridge) “Bugs Through the Looking Glass: The Infestation of Meaning in Joel”
  • R. Glenn Wooden (Acadia Divinity College) “Daniel against the wise-men: the nuanced use of wisdom terms in Daniel 1-2″

Tuesday Morning Sessions

  • Arthur Walker-Jones (University of Winnipeg) “Myth Criticism of the Psalms”
  • Tyler F. Williams (Taylor University College) “The Psalm Superscriptions and the Composition of the Book of Psalms”
  • Ehud Ben Zvi (University of Alberta) “The Account of Amaziah in 2 Chronicles 25″
  • David Shepherd (Briercrest College) “‘Strike his bone and his flesh’: Reading Job 2 from the Beginning”
  • Derek Suderman (Emmanuel College) “Towards an Improved Description of Biblical Prayer: Form-Critical Approaches to Direct Address in Psalm 55″
  • John Van Seters (Waterloo, ON) “The Myth of the ‘Final Form’ of the Biblical Text”

It looks like a good slate of papers (I hear the one by Tyler Williams is awesome!). I may blog a few reports for papers which I find particularly interesting.

A full programme with abstracts is available from the CSBS website here.

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Minor Update to my "Old Testament on Film" pages

19th May 2005

I have made some relatively minor updates and additions to my Old Testament on Film pages based on Herbert Verreth’s manuscript De Oudheid in Film, Fimografie (2003). The changes primarily consist of including some missing directors for silent films as well as adding a few movies.

Posted in Bible & Film, Codex Updates, Film, OT Film Epics | Comments Off

Resisting the Dark Side of the Force (or, Yipee! I have a "new" Macintosh!)

17th May 2005

In my heart of hearts I am a Macintosh user and I always will be. My first computer (bought in 1987) was a Macintosh SE with two double-sided 800K floppies — and I paid more for it than I have for any computer since! I eventually put a hard drive into the SE — I think it was a whopping 20 MB! Next came a Macintosh LE 425 that I eventually clock-chipped and did other modifications. Then came the attack of the clones: almost eight years ago I purchased a Power Computing PowerCenter Pro 180 with a 604e processor. It was a workhorse computer that is still running (with a nice G3 upgrade card), though I have not been able to install MacOS X on it for a variety of reasons.

Then I went over to the dark side. I didn’t want to. I resisted for many years. But my workplace signed a deal with Darth Gates and went all Windows. At first I was able to co-exist with my Mac being the shining beacon of hope on the network, but then a new printer/photocopier was bought that didn’t support Macs. At that point I bought myself a Dell Inspiron 8500 laptop — but I still used my Mac, admittedly less and less as I migrated more software over to Windows. The one primary reason that I kept my Mac running was to use Accordance Bible Software. While I also ran Accordance on my Dell laptop with Basilisk’s emulator, I preferred my Mac. But my old PowerCentre was beginning to show its age.

If money wasn’t an issue, I would buy a brand-spanking new Power Macintosh G5 Dual Processor supercomputer like my friend did. But my wife insists that money is an issue, so I did the next best thing: I bought my friend’s used Power Macintosh G4 Dual Processor computer. Considering that this Mac is really only around so I can use Accordance, it will be more than enough computer. Now I can finally run MacOS X! I can finally use Accordance with MacOS X! And I can finally integrate my Mac with my Windows network seamlessly. So, while I haven’t totally come back from the dark side, I am the proud owner of a “new” G4 PowerMac and am in my own way continuing the resistance!

(I should say that while I do prefer the Macintosh, Windows — especially XP — is a pretty decent operating system. I actually pride myself in being a cross-platform “power” user. I know Macintosh, Windows, and even Unix.)

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Queen Esther on the Big Screen Yet Again!

12th May 2005

Peter Chattaway has a note on his blog about an upcoming film based on the biblical book of Esther: One Night With the King, starring Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif (due out later this year). Chattaway further notes a few other movies made about the story of Esther.

According to my count there have been a total of nine films based on the book of Esther. Besides the 1916 silent film directed by Maurice Elvey, the French produced three silent films inspired by the biblical character: Gaumont studios produced two films in 1910: Esther and Mordecai directed by Louis Feuillade and The Marriage of Esther, while C.G.P.C. made another movie called Esther directed by Henri Andréani. In addition, the Dutch director-actor Theo Frankel directed Esther: A Biblical Episode in 1911.

Once we are out of the silent era, there are three other films inspired by Esther (all of which Chattaway mentioned): Mario Bava and Raoul Walsh’s Esther and the King (1960); Amos Gitai’s Esther (1986); and Raffaele Mertes’ Esther (1999).

As a biblical scholar I found Esther and the King quite interesting — especially how they modified the king’s reason for getting rid of Queen Vashti. In the film they have Vashti cheating on the king and actually showing up at the banquet and performing a striptease (see picture of Daniela Rocca as Vashti above right), while in the biblical account she is dumped because she refused to come at the king’s command (Esther 1:10-12). What is perhaps ironic, is that some scholars (such as Michael Fox in his excellent book, Character and Ideology in the Book of Esther (Eerdmans, 2001; Buy from | Buy from suggest that when the king asks her to come before the crowd “wearing the royal crown”, it is implied that she was to come wearing only the crown, i.e., naked. So the striptease in the movie may not be too far off the mark, after all! At any rate, the movie itself isn’t that bad — and it stars Joan Collins as Esther (see picture, above left).

Last and not least, a recent “film” on Esther that I should mention is the VeggieTales production, Esther, The Girl Who Became Queen, that came out in 2000 (and I have watched many times since with my kids!)

For a fairly complete listing of films based on the Hebrew Bible, see my The Old Testament on Film page.

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New Section on the Old Testament on Film Uploaded

10th May 2005

I have uploaded a new section on The Old Testament on Film to my site (This is the first installment of pages for my Religion & Popular Culture section).

In these pages I have listed over 110 films based on the Hebrew Bible in three separate categories according to their production eras, and within each era films are listed by their release date and director. While I do not think that I have been exhaustive, I am pretty confident that I have been fairly comprehensive. I have also provided a bit of an introduction to each era, as well as links to VHS and DVD editions available on and

In creating this list I have been impressed by the sheer number of movies inspired by the Old Testament. While I knew of and have seen most of the “biblical epics” from the 1950s and 60s, I never realized how many silent films were based on the Old Testament — and I certainly didn’t realize how risque many of them were!

As a biblical scholar I have always been fascinated how the screenwriters and directors adapted the biblical narratives and solved some of the critical problems in the biblical text. Many of these films make fascinating hermeneutical studies in and of themselves. It has been a real treat watching some of them for the first time.

Happy viewing!

Posted in Bible & Film, Blog News, Film, Old Testament, OT Film Epics | Comments Off

Good First Impressions: Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible

2nd May 2005

SESBI just received my copy of the Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible (SESB), and let’s just say that so far I am very impressed.

The SESB is a must-have addition to Logos Bible Software for students and scholars of the Bible. A co-production of the German Bible Society and the Bible Society of the Netherlands, this add-in contains a robust set of texts and advanced tools for working with the Greek, Hebrew, and Latin biblical texts, including the WIVU database for BHS, as well as the critical apparatuses for both BHS and Nestle-Aland 27.

Old Testament scholars should especially take note of this package because of the inclusion of the WIVU database for the Hebrew Bible, developed by the Werkgroep Informatica at the Free University of Amsterdam. This database allows complex searches not only of the morphology of the Hebrew text, but also various syntactical features at the phrase and clause level. Very impressive!

As of the date of this post, Logos Bible Software is currently the exclusive distributor for SESB in North America; readers elsewhere should contact the German Bible Society).

Stay tuned for an in-depth review in my Software for Biblical Studies pages.

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Tutoring Services Available!

2nd May 2005

I don’t think I’ve seen anyone blog on this little bit of “news” yet, but it appears that Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman has been studying the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible.

According to various news reports, the 37-year-old has hired Dr. Robert Cargill of Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, to teach her theology and Old Testament.

Just in case any big-name Hollywood stars read this blog, I want to go on record saying that I am available as a tutor! ;-)

Posted in News, Popular Culture | 3 Comments »