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Archive for February, 2006

Biblical Studies Carnival III – Call for Submissions

16th February 2006

The call for submissions to Biblical Studies Carnival III has been posted by Rick Brannan at ricoblog. You may email submissions to biblical_studies_carnival [AT] hotmail.com or enter it via the submission form provided by Blog Carnival here.

I would also like to thank all of those who have volunteered to host an upcoming Carnival. Special thanks to Kevin Wilson at Karamat, Stephen Carlson at Hypotyposeis, and Chip Hardy at Daily Hebrew for volunteering to host for October, November, and December 2006, respectively. We now have Carnival hosts for the entire year!

For more information about the Biblical Studies Carnival please consult the Biblical Studies Carnival Homepage.

Posted in Biblical Studies Carnival | Comments Off

Essential Films for Theologians: The “Director’s Cut”

15th February 2006

Ben Myers over at Faith and Theology had asked me to contribute an entry on film to his “Essential… for Theologians” series. I was honoured to be asked and have spent some time formulating my list. My original list may be viewed on Ben’s blog here.

In the grand film tradition of producing a “Director’s cut”, I decided to expand my original list by both adding four additional films and including a number of “runners up.” I also explained a bit of my rationale for selecting the films I did.

I published my list with some trepidation knowing that I omitted a number of significant religious films — particularly a number of older classics that many such top ten lists include (see, for instance, Ken Ristau’s recent list of “Essential Movies for Theologians.” For an extensive list, see the Arts & Faith Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films here.

In my list, I tried to be representative of different film genres and included some “art house” and foreign films, as well as more popular films. I wasn’t too concerned with a film’s box office success, though there are some successful films in my list. And, of course, I readily admit to including some of my personal favourites.

Update: You may also want to check out my “Essential Films of 2005 for Theologians – Extended Editionhere.

Top Ten Fourteen Essential Films for Theologians

(Listed in alphabetical order)

The Apostle (Robert Duvall, 1997; IMDb; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). Robert Duvall’s sympathetic portrayal of Euliss “Sonny” Dewey, a southern Pentecostal preacher, is masterful. While this movie may hit too close to home for some Christians, it reveals the conflict within the life of faith as Sonny, a deeply religious person, struggles with his rage and sensuality.

Balthazar (Au hasard Balthazar; Robert Bresson, 1966; IMDb; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). The film follows the life of a humble donkey named Balthazar through a series of masters, paralleled by the life of a young woman, Marie. The cinematography and score are both magnificent. The film has a sparse and evocative feel to it. It’s the type of film that you could view repeatedly and ponder endlessly (as the critics appear to do). I’m not sure if Bresson meant it to be understood typologically or allegorically, but such a reading would certainly fit with Balthazar portrayed as an unassuming Christ figure. At the very least it narrates the life of a simple beast of burden who humbly accepts the cruelty of his masters. The simple grace in this movie reminds me of another classic, Gabriel Axel’s Babette’s Feast (Babettes gæstebud; 1987).

The Big Kahuna (John Swanbeck, 1999; IMDb; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). This unassuming film about three lubricant salesmen, one of whom is an evangelical Christian, contains some of the most compelling dialogue around matters of faith, integrity, and manipulation I have seen.

Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982; IMDb; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). This classic science fiction film explores what it means to be human as Deckard, a “blade runner” played by Harrison Ford, has to track down and terminate four replicants that are virtually indistinguishable from humans. Based on the short book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip Dick, the dark look and feel of this film inspired innumerable science fiction films. While the DVD transfer of the Director’s cut is not that great (it was one of the first DVDs made), rumour has it that a multi-disc special edition is set to be released in time for its 25th anniversary in 2007. Other science fiction films that are worthy of mention include Stanley Kubrick’s masterful 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), The Matrix (1999) by the Wachowski brothers (the first is by far the best), and Dark City (Alex Proyas, 1998).

(Of course, I also have to give honourable mention to the original Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977) and the original trilogy (I have not been impressed with any of the prequels). I have to confess that I saw the original Star Wars around 17 times in the theatre when it first was released. I also had made myself a light sabre (a painted dowel; not like one of the fancy ones available now), dressed up as a Jedi knight, and had virtually every Star Wars model available. Truth be told, not much has changed. I have been able to watch Star Wars with my kids and my four-year-old son and I frequently have light sabre battles in the living room (a painted dowel no longer have I). In sum: I still like it after all of these years even if some parts are a bit cheesy (And I still think Princess Leah looks hot in her “Jabba the Hutt” golden bikini). I have included this film on my extended list not only because it has profoundly shaped popular culture, but because its a parable of the epic struggle between good and evil.)

The Decalogue (Dekalog; Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1989; IMDb; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). This ten-part series of films was originally aired on Polish TV in the 1980s. Each episode narrates a story, set in the same apartment block, that is loosely tied to one of the Ten Commandments (as enumerated in the Catholic tradition; see my blog entry here for other enumerations).

For 6,000 years, these rules have been unquestionably right. And yet we break them every day. People feel that something is wrong in life. There is some kind of atmosphere that makes people now turn to other values. They want to contemplate the basic questions of life, and that is probably the real reason for wanting to tell these stories. – Krzysztof Kieslowski on The Decalogue.

Each episode is well done and thought-provoking, though I found 2, 5, 6, and 7 particularly meaningful. Kieslowski’s more popular and widely distributed Three Colors Trilogy: Blue, White, and Red (Trois couleurs: Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge; 1993-4) are also worthy of mention.

Jesus of Montreal (Jésus De Montréal; Denys Arcand, 1989; IMDb; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). This Canadian production tells the story of a troupe of actors who stage a passion play in Montreal — so controversial that the Catholic Church wants to shut it down. As the pressure to stop production mounts, the personal lives of the individual cast members begin to take on the persona of the characters in the play — especially for Daniel (played wonderfully by Lothaire Bluteau) who plays the role of Jesus. Other Jesus films that deserve mention here are The Gospel According to St. Matthew (Il Vangelo secondo Matteo; Pier Pablo Passolini, 1964), The Last Temptation of Christ (Martin Scorsese, 1988), and The Passion of the Christ (Mel Gibson, 2004). I also am fascinated by Gareth Davies’s Son of Man (1969), though I have not been able to locate a full copy and consequently have not viewed the entire film.

Magnolia (P.T. Anderson, 1999; IMDb; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). This is perhaps my favourite film. It is a thought-provoking exploration of “the sins of the fathers,” forgiveness, and redemption as the lives of nine individuals interconnect one day in San Fernando Valley, California (its title is from one of the San Fernando Valley’s principal thoroughfares, Magnolia Boulevard). The ensemble cast is marvellous, the direction and cinematography superb, and the soundtrack by Aimee Mann moving. And what can I say about the frogs?! If I was going to number this list, I would have to put this as film number 8.2!

The Mission (Roland Joffé, 1986; IMDb; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). This film is an absolutely beautiful yet troubling exploration of the question of grace and redemption, love and hate, and what it means to lay down your life for your faith and friends. Its cinematography and musical score are moving and deservedly won awards. Set in 18th century South America, this film raises questions — and provides no easy answers — about the Christian mission, war, and slavery. Simply superb. Other films that have similar themes and garner special mention include Black Robe (Bruce Beresford, 1991), Romero (John Duigan, 1989), and At Play in the Fields of the Lord (Hector Babenco, 1991).

Monty Python’s Life of Brian (Terry Jones, 1979; IMDb; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). If we can’t laugh at ourselves, then something is wrong. Eric Idle himself is reported as saying, “If anything can survive the probe of humour it is clearly of value, and conversely all groups who claim immunity from laughter are claiming special privileges which should not be granted” (hmmm… do you think this quote is relevant to a current international news story?). But this film is not all laughs — it actually presents aspects of the time of Jesus somewhat accurately, such as the ubiquitous messiahs and prophets during that period as well as the sheer diversity with Judaism at that time. In the humour/satire category I would also include Dogma (Kevin Smith, 1999), Saved! (Brian Dannelly, 2004), and Keeping the Faith (Edward Norton, 2000).

Wings of Desire (Der Himmel über Berlin; Wim Wenders, 1987; IMDb; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). I was first introduced to the German director Wim Wenders through the music video for U2′s song “Stay (Far Away, So Close).” This films explores what it means to be human from the perspective of angels as it follows the lives of two angels as they comfort and help lost souls in Berlin, one of whom decides he wants to become human. While Hollywood has remade the story as City of Angels (Brad Silberling, 1998), the original is superior on all accounts. I should also mention Wim Wender’s collaboration with U2′s frontman Bono on The Million Dollar Hotel (Wim Wenders, 2000). While this film has its flaws, Jeremy Davies’s portrayal of Tom Tom is one of the best Christ figures in recent film.

Late Additions

I figured my original list was lacking in four genres: war films, westerns, gangster films, and fantasy. Most films in these genres explore the myth of redemptive violence, and as such are worthy of theological reflection. Other excellent films that explore this theme include Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan, 2005) and In the Bedroom (Todd Field, 2001).

The Godfather Saga (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972, 1974, and 1990; IMDb; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). Don Corleone made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, so I had to add this trilogy to my list. The first two in the series are superior, and I think the first is the best. One of my favourite scenes is at the end of the first film when you have the juxtaposition of Michael Corleone renouncing “Satan and all his works” at the baptism of his nephew and the executions of the heads of the other mob families. On the soundtrack, Bach’s organ music is punctuated by gunfire. Other mobster films that deserve mention include Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990) and The Untouchables (Brian De Palma, 1987).

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Peter Jackson, 2000, 2001, and 2002; IMDb; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). I am a huge Tolkien fan and I loved Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of the Lord of the Rings. That isn’t to say that I agreed with all of Jackson’s modifications; in fact, I think Jackson and the screenwriter Fran Walsh are both Hollywood sell outs! Since when do Ents make rash decisions?! If there were any more unnecessary dramatic turns added, I would have sued for whip-lash! At any rate, these are ground breaking films that are surely worthy of mention!

The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick, 1998; IMDb; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). I have watched this film about the conflict at Guadalcanal during World War II many times and find its juxtaposition of war and (seeming) paradise haunting. It is visually beautiful and the writing is superb. The ensemble cast is excellent — especially the roles played by James Caviezel, Nick Nolte, and most notably Elias Koteas. Other great war films include Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979), The Deerhunter (Michael Cimino, 1978), Platoon (Oliver Stone, 1986), as well as the less know, though theologically relevant, films A Midnight Clear (Keith Gordon, 1992) and To End All Wars (David L. Cunningham, 2001).

Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood, 1992; IMDb; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). What’s a list without a western? While there are many “shoot ‘em up” westerns that are perhaps entertaining, Unforgiven is unique in that it deconstructs the typical western. The (anti)hero is unlovable, the gun fights are devoid of romanticism, and nothing is really settled at the end when the cowboy rides off into the sunset. “It’s a hell of a thing, killin’ a man. You take away all he has, and all he’s ever gonna have,” says Will. The Kid stammers, “I guess he had it comin’.” Will almost whispers: “We’ve all got it comin’, Kid.”

Last Thoughts

OK, I need to wrap this up. There are many more films which are worthy to be mentioned, such as Breaking the Waves, Chinatown, Contact, Dead Man Walking, Lawrence of Arabia, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Pulp Fiction, Shadowlands, Slingblade, The Shawshank Redemption, etc., etc., ad nauseum, but this list has to end!

What films do you feel are essential for theologians?


Posted in Faith & Film, Film | 7 Comments »

Send A Scholar to Camp Israel

14th February 2006

OK, there must be some people who read my blog who have been blessed with some extra money. If you feel so led, I encourage you to head on over to Ken Ristau’s blog and read about his fund raising efforts so that he may participate in an archaeological dig at Tel Dor this summer.

You can participate in his silent auction for some movie posters here, or you may read about other ways to donate here.

Ken completed his undergraduate degree at Taylor University College where I teach and he was one of my best students I have taught at Taylor — and he is a good friend as well. So, if you have a bit of extra cash and you want to donate it to a good cause, I encourage you to do so.

Posted in News, Personal | Comments Off

Jesus is Way Cool! (Or, “The Green Day Ab Workout Jesus”)

9th February 2006

I recognize that each generation will conceive of God and Jesus in ways that reflect their culture. That being said, I can’t help but think that the following magazine cover is somehow just wrong.

This “Jesus” reminds me of Billie Joe Armstrong, the lead singer for Green Day with a “six pack” (of abs, not beer). (HT postmodernbible)

Posted in Popular Culture | Comments Off

Biblical Studies Carnival – Hosting Thank You

9th February 2006

I wanted to say a public “thank you” for all of the positive feedback I have received for hosting Biblical Studies Carnival II. I really enjoyed putting it together.

In turn, I would like to thank the following individuals who have volunteered to host a Carnival. As it turns out, we have hosts scheduled all the way to September 2006. Way to go!

Don’t forget you can nominate a post at anytime by emailing the required information to biblical_studies_carnival [AT] hotmail.com or enter it via the submission form provided by Blog Carnival here.

For more information about the Biblical Studies Carnival please consult the Biblical Studies Carnival Homepage.

Posted in Biblical Studies Carnival | Comments Off

U2 – The Clear Highlight of the Grammy Awards

8th February 2006

Despite the fact that tonight’s Grammy Awards were too long, too glitzy, too excessive, and too self-absorbed (come on — it’s only music!), I was pleased to see Irish rock band U2 clean up with a total of five awards.

Their latest album, How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com) won for Album of the Year and Best Rock Album; “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own” won Song of the Year and Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal; and “City of Blinding Lights” was named Best Rock Song. (Steve Lillywhite also picked up the Grammy for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical, in part for his work on How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb) U2 is Grammy’s most honored band.

In many ways U2 came full circle with How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. Like virtually all of U2′s albums, I love every song on this CD. I also think that it is among U2′s most explicitly spiritual albums. According to various interviews, the “bomb” in the name of the album refers to his father, Bob, and that the songs are mostly about Bono’s efforts to deal with his dad’s death to cancer in 2001. The award winning song “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own” is a moving tribute to Bono’s father. In his acceptance speech tonight, Bono remarked, “People say this is an odd title for an album… I was talking about my father Bob. He was the atomic bomb in question and set off a chain reaction in me. I want to thank my father for giving me the voice and a bit of attitude to use it.” My own father died from cancer almost five years ago and I have found the song (and other U2 songs, such as “Walk On”) quite meaningful as I have dealt with my dad’s death.

U2′s previous Grammy Awards are as follows:

  • 2002: Record of the Year (“Walk On”), Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal (“Stuck In a Moment”), Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal (“Elevation”), and Best Rock Album (All That You Can’t Leave Behind)
  • 2001: “Beautiful Day” wins Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal
  • 1995: Best Music Video, Long Form – “Zoo TV Live From Sydney”
  • 1994: Best Alternative Album – Zooropa
  • 1992: Best Rock Group Performance – Achtung Baby
  • 1989: Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group – “Desire”; Best Video Performance, Short Form – “Where the Streets Have No Name”
  • 1988: Album of the Year – The Joshua Tree; Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group – “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”

Posted in Emergent, Popular Culture, U2 | Comments Off

Love Poetry for Biblical Literalists

7th February 2006

Since Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, I figured I would provide some biblical love poetry for any young men who may be out there (I also figured since Jim West showed a picture of his ideal woman, I would too!). Whisper these words into the ears of your Valentine’s Day date and you will be guaranteed a second date! … Really!


(Image from an old Wittenburg Door)

How beautiful you are, my love,
how very beautiful!
Your eyes are doves
behind your veil.
Your hair is like a flock of goats,
moving down the slopes of Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes
that have come up from the washing,
all of which bear twins,
and not one among them is bereaved.
Your lips are like a crimson thread,
and your mouth is lovely.
Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate
behind your veil.
Your neck is like the tower of David,
built in courses;
on it hang a thousand bucklers,
all of them shields of warriors.
Your two breasts are like two fawns,
twins of a gazelle,
that feed among the lilies….
Your lips distill nectar, my bride;
honey and milk are under your tongue;
the scent of your garments is like the scent of Lebanon
Your belly is a heap of wheat…
Your nose is like a tower of Lebanon,
overlooking Damascus (Song 4:1-5, 11; 7:2, 4)

(OK, most of the metaphors are understandable, though it is interesting that more dynamic translations like the NLT unpack many of the metaphors in these verses, but they leave the breasts alone. Hmmm… so just how are breasts like fawns feeding among the lilies?)

Posted in Humour, Song of Songs, Translation Theory | 3 Comments »

Hebrew Bible Related Reviews from RBL (6 February 2006)

7th February 2006

This week’s Review of Biblical Literature is kind of sparse. Judging from the reviews I read, I’m not sure there will be much I will run out and buy! (How’s that for a ringing endorsement!). There are a couple more positive reviews of Brueggemann’s Theology of the Old Testament and Fretheim’s work looks like it is worth a gander. My interest was piqued in Min’s The Levitical Authorship of Ezra-Nehemiah due to my work in Chronicles, though from reading Grabbe’s review a inter-library loan will suffice. I should also note that philo-blogger Torrey Seland’s book is reviewed.

Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

  • Brueggemann, Walter. Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy. Reviewed by Thomas Kraus and Mark Mcentire
  • Fretheim, Terrence E. God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology of Creation. Reviewed by Robin Gallaher
  • Min, Kyung-jin. The Levitical Authorship of Ezra-Nehemiah. Reviewed by Lester Grabbe
  • Wright, Jacob L. Rebuilding Identity: The Nehemiah Memoir and Its Earliest Readers. Reviewed by Tamara Eskenazi

Other

  • Seland, Torrey. Strangers in the Light: Philonic Perspectives on Christian Identity in 1 Peter. Reviewed by Fika Van Rensburg
  • Court, John M., ed. Biblical Interpretation: The Meanings of Scripture — Past and Present. Reviewed by Stephen Moyise

Posted in RBL, Reviews & Notices | Comments Off

Biblical Studies Software News & Notes

7th February 2006

While I have been busy with the Biblical Studies Carnival and teaching various courses, there has been a number developments in the area of biblical studies software that are noteworthy:

  • BibleWorks 7.0. The long-awaited upgrade to BibleWorks was announced near the end of January and is now shipping. The new version sports an improved user-interface and Unicode support, among other things. Check out the list of features here and view a video introduction here. BibleWorks is a robust original-language Bible research program for Windows. Buy from Amazon.com
  • Accordance Blog. Accordance Bible Software — arguably the best biblical studies software on the face of the earth (at least for the Macintosh) — has been assimilated into the blogosphere. The blog — found here — will keep all of us up-to-date on the latest features and releases and will also profile different aspects of Accordance, such as the new Bible Atlas 2.0 release featured here.
  • SBL Hebrew Font upgrade to version 1.12. If you are running Windows XP (and MacOS X), then your best bet for right-to-left Hebrew is to use the new SBL Hebrew font with the SIL Hebrew Keyboard. While this release came out near the end of last year, I neglected to announce it. You can download it here. (In addition, FireFox users may want to download a patch to FireFox that corrects some fixes with right-to-left languages. It may be downloaded here).

Posted in Emergent | Comments Off

Biblical Studies Carnival II

4th February 2006

Welcome to the second Biblical Studies Carnival! Whether you want to call them biblioblogs or just blogs, what is certain is that Biblical Studies is alive and well in the blogosphere. From cuneiform to creation, the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Devil, forgeries to lost books, and rapture to resurrection, there is something to interest everyone in this month’s Carnival.

Since the last Biblical Studies carnival in April 2005 (hosted by Joel Ng at Ebla Logs), there have been numerous excellent posts covering a wide range of topics related to the discipline of biblical studies. These have included individual posts, series, memes, as well as multi-participant series. Please note that the posts highlighted in this Carnival only represents a small sampling of posts in biblical studies since the first Carnival. Feel free to explore some of the biblical studies related blogs noted in my navigation bar to the left or check out Biblioblogs.com for a comprehensive blogroll.


Biblical Studies Carnival II – Legacy Posts

There have been a number of great posts on various topics since the first Biblical Studies Carnival back in April 2005, including a number of noteworthy series. (Scroll down if you want to go to the January 2006 Biblical Studies Carnival entries).

Archaeology

A number of the more significant archaeological finds in 2005 received good coverage among biblical studies blogs.

In July 2005, Hanan Eshel of Bar Ilan University in Israel announced the discovery a fragmentary “Dead Sea Scroll” containing portions of the book of Leviticus. Tyler Williams at Codex provided “A Step-by-Step Reconstruction of the New Leviticus Fragments.” This post included enhancement of images of the fragments and a reconstruction of the original scroll; much of what you would find in a preliminary publication of such fragments (For an index of posts relating to the Leviticus Scroll, go here).

Another significant archaeological discovery in 2005 was Eilat Mazar’s uncovering of a large public structure — claimed to be King David’s palace — at her City of David dig. Paul Nikkel at Deinde just so happened to pop by Eilat Mazar’s City of David dig before heading back to the UK to start the academic year. His post, “Photos of Mazar’s City of David Excavation” brings together a series of excellent hi-resolution photographs of the structure. (The “Yehukal seal” also discovered at the site received some coverage among biblio bloggers; see here for a summary of posts).


Old Testament/Hebrew Bible

With the recent controversy over teaching intelligent design in public schools in the United States, interest in the interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis is perhaps at an all time high. Chris Heard, over at Higgaion, provides a number of biblical reasons that answer the question, “Why I Am Not a Creationist.”

If you have ever wondered about when David first met King Saul, you will want to read Jeremy Pierce‘s post on “Chronology in I Samuel 16:1-18:5.” While most understand these chapters to be either contradictory or not in chronological order, the Parableman considers another option to understanding this biblical crux interpretum.

Last fall there was a flurry of posts surrounding historiographic issues in biblical studies. The debate revolved around questions of method as well as particular artefacts like the Tel Dan Stele and the Merneptah Stele. While I will not attempt to detail all of the posts (this is especially difficult now that Jim West’s former blog, Biblical Theology, is sadly no longer extant), some representative posts are noted below.

One of the primary voices in the debate was Joe Cathey, the Texan behind Dr. Cathey’s Blog. His post “Tel Dan – A Response” is representative of a series of posts on the Tel Dan Stele specifically and historiographic issues generally.

Kevin Edgecomb also weighed in on the interpretation of the Tel Dan Stele, particularly looking at the phrase “House of…” in reference to territories and their associated rulers in inscriptions in his posts “‘House of David’ and BYTDWD” and “Further on ‘House of…’ Usage” and “Further on BÄ«t-PN usage.” These posts bring together a wealth of evidence on this construction.

Chris Heard of Higgaion entered the debate with an outstanding summary of the online discussion as well as his own comments with his post “Ah, Merneptah!.” This post is an excellent appraisal of the significance of the Merneptah stele for reconstructing the history of Israel.

(See here for an attempt to track the overall minimalism/maximalism debate)

Finally, if you ever stayed awake at night pondering the difference between “Deuteronomic,” “Deuteronomistic,” and “Urdeuteronomium” (as I have), then you will want to take special note of Joe Cathey‘s superb post, “Deuteronomy/Deuteronomistic History.” In this post, Joe provides some clarity to the discussion and clears some paths through the forest of confusing terminology and neologisms. My personal favourite is “deuteronom(ist)ic” since it covers all the bases!


Apocrypha/Pseudepigrapha

Philip Harland at the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean blog has produced a massive four-month 22-part series on the New Testament Apocrypha. In this series, Phil summarizes and provides some critical engagement with various texts within early Christian apocrypha — texts that include everything from a potty-mouthed Jesus who didn’t play well with others to Isaiah as a heavenly tour-guide.

The book of Tobit was the focus of a blog entry by Ed Cook over at Ralph the Sacred River. His post, “A Lost Scrap of Tobit from the Schoyen Collection,” provides an excellent transcription, translation, and some commentary on the hitherto unpublished scrap of 4Q196, a papyrus copy of the Aramaic version of the book of Tobit.

Starting October 2005, Stephen Carlson over at Hypotyposeis produced a three-part series seriously attempts to come to terms with what constituted forgery in the ancient world. The posts are as follows: The Seriousness of Forgery in Antiquity; Toward an Understanding of “Forgery�: Metzger; and Toward an Understanding of “Forgery�: Speyer.

Initially prompted by a post by Michael Pahl, Jim Davila of Paleojudaica fame asked, “out of all the lost documents related to early Christianity — those mentioned by early Christians but no longer extant, those for which we have fragments or quotations but not whole manuscripts — which would I most wish to be discovered?” Jim answered his own question with a post outlining his “Wish List of Lost Books.” He also write a follow-up post entitled ““More Lost Books.” Not only do Jim’s post bring together an impressive list of lost books, he also provides a wealth of links to similar lists by other bloggers. Now if only we could actually find some of these works!


New Testament/Early Christianity

Steven Harris at Theology and Biblical Studies deals ably with the contentious issue of the Apostle Paul’s attitude to women in the church in his post “Silent women in the church?.” Steven looks specifically at 1 Corinthians 14 and explores whether the text itself is corrupted, and if not, whether Paul’s directives in this passage are meant for all believers at all times, or whether they are specifically related to cultural issues being faced by the church at Corinth. He concludes that the directives are not absolute, but are meant to put a stop to disruptive behaviour in the service that may hinder the building up of the congregation in love.

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, what is more appropriate that to remind ourselves about the nature love? Rick Brannan at ricoblog guided us through 1 Corinthians 13 in a series of three posts: “Noisy Gongs And Clanging Cymbals,” “So Then What Is Love?” and “The Greatest Of These Is Love.”


Biblical Studies Carnival – January 2006

One of the more provocative posts of the new year was Loren Rosson’s “Dangerous Idea” meme. Inspired by a list of ideas contributed by leading scientists to The Edge magazine, Loren Rosson III over at The Busybody ushered a call to other bloggers to come up with their own “Dangerous Ideas in Biblical Studies.” Loren provided five “dangerous ideas” in the field of biblical studies — ideas which may well be true (or have arguably valid reasons for being true) but many people would prefer they not be true — in his original post. He then brought together “A Dozen Dangerous Ideas” based on his own ranking of the “dangerous ideas” submitted by other bloggers.

Another provocative, downright devilish series of posts that span the field of biblical studies as well as popular culture is Phil Harland‘s History of Satan series. These posts at Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean deal with the development of the character of Satan throughout literary history. While the series was introduced in late 2005 with his first post (Satan 1), subsequent posts were in January and may be accessed here.


Old Testament/Hebrew Bible/Cognate Literature

Appropriate biblical nomenclature was the topic of a post entitled “Old Testament/First Testament/Hebrew Bible/Tanak: What’s in a Name? Quite a Bit Actually!” by Tyler Williams at Codex.

Kevin Wilson of Karamat fame has produced a couple posts on a “biblical” worldview, the first of which was posted in December 2005 (“A Biblical Worldview (Part I)” while the follow-up post was uploaded in January 2006 suitably titled as “A Biblical Worldview (Part II).” These posts explore the worldviews found in the Hebrew Bible and the possibility of constructing a worldview shaped by an encounter with the biblical text and actualized within the community or individual reading the text.

Duane Smith, who has many Abnormal Interests (I love the name of his blog!), has an excellent series of posts on the short cuneiform alphabetic texts from Ugarit, the most recent posted in the middle of January, “The Cuneiform Short Alphabet: Part 7” where he works through KTU 6.1: A Inscription on a Knife from Tabor Valley, Wadi Bire. Each post provides an English translation as well as a summary interpretation of the text under investigation. In addition, a more detailed study of the texts is available in PDF format for free download. Now you have no excuse not to brush up on your Ugaritic!


New Testament/Early Christianity

In the discipline of New Testament studies Ben Myers at Faith and Theology provided readers with an insightful post on Rudolf Bultmann’s interpretation of Jesus’ resurrection in “Bultmann on the Resurrection.” Ben argues that while Bultmann’s interpretation of Jesus’ resurrection is often criticised, there is much to appreciate in his view, such as his correlations between Jesus’ death and resurrection and faith and resurrection, as well as his emphasis on the eschatological character of the resurrection.

Those worrying about being “Left Behind” may find some solace in Roderick Edwards‘s post entitled “Rapture? Resurrection? Rescue?” over at The Kingdom Come.

Michael Bird has posted an email interview with Dr. Stanley Porter over at Evangelical Textual Criticism blog. In the post, “Stanley Porter, the Book of Acts, and Textual Criticism,” Mike explores Porter’s views of textual criticism in relation to the commentary on the Acts of the Apostles he is working on for the NIGTC series. One line of thought that I found especially interesting is Porter’s criticism of the tendency among NT scholars towards eclectic textual reconstructions as exemplified in NA27 or UBS4 compared to the emphasis on diplomatic texts in the textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible.

Rick Brannan has been busy with work on 1Timothy. On his PastoralEpistles.com blog he offers us a detailed analysis of 1 Timothy 4:10 in his post “Especially the Believers: 1Ti 4.10.” Then over at ricoblog, Rick highlights the different nuances a simple conjunction like “and” or Greek καὶ can have in his post “Mmmmmmmm… Conjunctions…” (If you think the flexibility of English or Greek conjunctions are impressive, compare them with the amazing versatility of the Hebrew conjunction ו “vav“).

Inclusive translation theory is the focus of Stephen Carlson‘s post “On Translation of “Brothers and Sisters” over at hypotyposeis. In particular, Stephen discusses the TNIV translation of ἀδελφοί, “brothers,” as “brothers and sisters” and argues that a better translation would discard the familial metaphor altogether and use a more appropriate dynamic equivalent such as fellow member, member, associate, compatriot, or neighbour.


Upcoming Biblical Studies Carnivals

Biblical Studies Carnival III will be hosted by Rick Brannan at ricoblog in the first week of March, 2006. Look for a call for submissions and nominations on his blog soon.

Submissions (which should be blog entries posted in February 2006) for the next Biblical Studies Carnival may be emailed to biblical_studies_carnival [AT] hotmail.com or entered via the submission form provided by Blog Carnival here.

For information about the Biblical Studies Carnival please consult the Biblical Studies Carnival Homepage.

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