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Archive for August, 2006

Biblical Studies Carnival IX Call for Submissions

19th August 2006

Just a quick reminder that Biblical Studies Carnival IX will be hosted by Stephen Carlson over at Hypotyposeis during the first week of September 2006. His call for submissions may be found here.

As you are reading posts around the blogosphere, make sure to nominate at least one post for the next Carnival!

This month’s carnival is online over at biblicalia and you can view an entire list of all past carnivals at the Biblical Studies Carnival Homepage.

About the Biblical Studies Carnival

The goal of the Biblical Studies Carnival is to showcase the best of weblog posts in the area of academic biblical studies. By “academic biblical studies� we mean:

  • Academic: Posts must represent an academic approach to the discipline of biblical studies rather than, for instance, a devotional approach. This does not mean that posts have to be written by an academic, PhD, or professor — amateurs are more than welcome! Nor does it mean that posts must take a historical critical approach — methodological variety is also encouraged.
  • Biblical Studies: Broadly focused on discipline of biblical studies and cognate disciplines, including Ancient Near East, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Christian Origins/New Testament, Intertestamental/Second Temple literature (e.g., LXX, Dead Sea Scrolls, Philo, Josephus, etc.), Patristics, Biblical Criticisms and Hermeneutics, Biblical Studies and popular culture, among other things.

The Biblical Studies Carnival also serves to highlight a variety of blogs — from well known to lesser known. All blogs are welcome to submit relevant posts to the Carnival. In this way a Carnival is an excellent way to let others know about a blog you frequent or gain new readership to your own blog.

To submit a blog post for inclusion to the Biblical Studies Carnival you may do one of the following:

  1. Send the following information to the following email address: biblical_studies_carnival AT If you’re not sure whether a post qualifies, send it anyway and the host will decide whether to include it.
    • The title and permalink URL of the blog post you wish to nominate and the author’s name or pseudonym.
    • A short (two or three sentence) summary of the blog post.
    • The title and URL of the blog on which it appears (please note if it is a group blog).
    • Include “Biblical Studies Carnival [number]â€? in the subject line of your email
    • Your own name and email address.
  1. Use the submission form provided by Blog Carnival. (This is probably the easier option if you only have one nomination.) Just select “biblical studies carnival� and fill in the rest of the information noted above.

For more information, consult the Biblical Studies Carnival Homepage.

Posted in Biblical Studies Carnival | 1 Comment »

Acronyms and Spam Plugin Update

19th August 2006

Since Kevin Wilson showed his, I thought I would show mine — of course I’m talking about my list of acronyms for the Acronym Replacer plugin for WordPress. My list is also incomplete, but feel free to copy and paste whatever you want! (see list below)

In regards to another WordPress plugin, I noted a bit ago that I added a plugin for spam protection on comments. Since adding “Peter’s Custom Anti-Spam Image Plugin for WordPress� I have not had a single spam comment get through. So if you are looking for a basic spam protection program that catches what Akismet misses, I can recommend this one.

Here’s my acronym list:

“NT”=>”New Testament”,
“SP”=>”Samaritan Pentateuch”,
“DSS”=>”Dead Sea Scrolls”,
“OT” => “Old Testament”,
“HT” => “‘Hat tip’, i.e., original source”,
“LXX” => “Septuagint”,
“MT” => “Masoretic Text”,
“Syr.” => “Syriac Peshitta”,
“Tgs.” => “Aramaic Targums”,
“Vulg.” => “Vulgate”,
“BHK” => “Biblia Hebraica, ed. R. Kittel”,
“BHS” => “Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (1977)”,
“BHQ” => “Biblia Hebraica Quinta (2004-)”,
“NA27″ => “Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland, 27th ed.”,
“UBS4″ => “The Greek New Testament, United Bible Societies, 4th ed.”,
“ASV” => “American Standard Version”,
“CEV” => “Contemporary English Version”,
“GNB” => “Good News Bible”,
“JB” => “Jerusalem Bible”,
“KJV” => “King James Version”,
“LB” => “Living Bible”,
“NLT” => “New Living Translation”,
“MLB” => “Modern Language Bible”,
“NAB” => “New American Bible”,
“NASB” => “New American Standard Bible”,
“NAV” => “New American Version”,
“NEB” => “New English Bible”,
“NIV” => “New International Version”,
“NIVI” => “New International Version: Inclusive Language Edition”,
“NJB” => “New Jerusalem Bible”,
“NJPS” => “Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures: The New JPS Translation according to the Traditional Hebrew Text”,
“NKJV” => “New King James Version”,
“NRSV” => “New Revised Standard Version”,
“REB” => “Revised English Bible”,
“RSV” => “Revised Standard Version”,
“RV” => “Revised Version”,
“TEV” => “Today’s English Version (= Good News Bible)”,
“TNIV” => “Today?s New International Version”,
“Gen” => “Genesis”,
“Exod” => “Exodus”,
“Lev” => “Leviticus”,
“Num” => “Numbers”,
“Deut” => “Deuteronomy”,
“Josh” => “Joshua”,
“Judg” => “Judges”,
“1 Sam” => “1 Samuel”,
“1 Kgs” => “1 Kings”,
“1 Chr” => “1 Chronicles”,
“2 Sam” => “2 Samuel”,
“2 Kgs” => “2 Kings”,
“2 Chr” => “2 Chronicles”,
“Neh” => “Nehemiah”,
“Esth” => “Esther”,
“Ps” => “Psalm”,
“Pss” => “Psalms”,
“Prov” => “Proverbs”,
“Eccl” => “Ecclesiastes (or Qoheleth)”,
“Qoh” => “Ecclesiastes (or Qoheleth)”,
“Cant” => “Song of Songs (Song of Solomon, or Canticles)”,
“Isa” => “Isaiah”,
“Jer” => “Jeremiah”,
“Lam” => “Lamentations”,
“Ezek” => “Ezekiel”,
“Hos” => “Hosea”,
“Obad” => “Obadiah”,
“Mic” => “Micah”,
“Nah” => “Nahum”,
“Hab” => “Habakkuk”,
“Zeph” => “Zephaniah”,
“Hag” => “Haggai”,
“Zech” => “Zechariah”,
“Mal ” => “Malachi”,
“Matt” => “Matthew”,
“Rom” => “Romans”,
“1 Cor” => “1 Corinthians”,
“2 Cor” => “2 Corinthians”,
“Gal” => “Galatians”,
“Eph” => “Ephesians”,
“Phil” => “Philippians”,
“Col” => “Colossians”,
“1 Thess” => “1 Thessalonians”,
“1 Tim” => “1 Timothy”,
“2 Thess” => “2 Thessalonians”,
“2 Tim” => “2 Timothy”,
“Phlm” => “Philemon”,
“Heb” => “Hebrews”,
“Jas” => “James”,
“1 Pet” => “1 Peter”,
“2 Pet” => “2 Peter”,
“Rev” => “Revelation”,
“ABD ” => “Anchor Bible Dictionary”,
“ISBE ” => “International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia”,
“CE” => “Common Era (AD)”,
“BCE” => “Before Common Era (BC)”,
“SBL” => “Society of Biblical Literature”,
“RBL” => “Review of Biblical Literature”,
“MS” => “Manuscript”,
“MSS” => “Manuscripts ”

Posted in Blog Maintenance, Blog News | Comments Off

Need ONE Shirt?

18th August 2006

Bono is one of a number of celebrities who are getting behind a new “ONE” t-shirt. Proceeds from the sale of the shirts will benefit the battle against AIDS, extreme poverty, and bring fair trade to the country of Lesotho in Southern Africa (The shirts are made in Lesotho, one of the poorest developing countries in the world).

The EDUN designed shirts will be available at Nordstrom for $40 USD starting September 11th, 2006. For more information go to

Posted in News, Popular Culture, U2 | Comments Off

The Hebrew Bible and Humour

18th August 2006

If you are of the opinion that the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament is only a serious book about a serious God, then you need to read Simon Holloway‘s post, “The Hilarious Hebrew Bible” over at Divrei ben Abuya. The post looks at a collection of essays that came out quite a while ago: On Humour and the Comic in the Hebrew Bible, edited by Yehuda T. Radday and Athalya Brenner (Sheffield: Almond Press, 1990). Simon also adds an example of humour from the Bible of his own.

Posted in Bible, Humour, Old Testament | 1 Comment »

A Biography of Satan

17th August 2006

Cambridge University Press released today a new book about Satan by a UCLA medievalist:

satan_bio.jpgHenry Ansgar Kelly, Satan: A Biography (Cambridge University Press, 2006).

Buy from | Buy from

Here is the book description from the publisher:

Christians traditionally think of Satan as Lucifer, God’s enemy, who rebelled against Him out of pride and then caused Adam and Eve to sin. But, as Kelly shows, this portrayal is not biblical but a scenario invented by the early Fathers of the Church which became the ‘New Biography of Satan’. The ‘Original Biography’ must be reconstructed from the New Testament where Satan is the same sort of celestial functionary we see in the Book of Job – appointed to govern the world, specifically to monitor and test human beings. But he is brutal and deceitful in his methods, and Jesus predicts that his rule will soon come to an end. Kelly traces the further developments of the ‘New Biography’: humankind’s inherited guilt, captivity by Satan, and punishment in Hell at his hands. This profile of Satan remains dominant, but Kelly urges a return to the ‘Original Biography of Satan’.

There is an interview with the author here, as well as an article in The Australian: Satan a victim of bad PR, professor says.

Sounds interesting, though I wonder if Kelly is being a bit reductionistic?

(HT Boing Boing)

Posted in News, Theology | 3 Comments »

U2 by U2

17th August 2006

Since I am on this U2 kick, I figured I would highlight a forthcoming book release. It will be released on September 26, 2006.


U2 and Neil McCormick, U2 by U2 (HarperEntertainment, 2006).

Pre-order from |

Here is the product description from HarperEntertainment:

In 1975, four teenagers from Mount Temple School in Dublin gathered in a crowded kitchen to discuss forming a band. The drum kit just about fit into the room, the lead guitarist was playing a homemade guitar, the bassist could barely play at all and nobody wanted to sing. Over thirty years later, Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr are still together, bound by intense loyalty, passionate idealism and a relentless belief in the power of rock and roll to change the world.

In a epic journey that has taken them from the clubs of Dublin to the stadiums of the world, U2 have sold over 130 million albums, been number one all over the world, revolutionized live performance, spearheaded political campaigns and made music that defines the age we live in.

From the anarchic days of their Seventies punk origins through their Eighties ascent to superstardom with the epic rock of ‘The Joshua Tree’, the dark post-modern ironies of ‘Achtung Baby’ in the Nineties and their 21st-Century resurgence as rock’s biggest and boldest band, this is a tale of faith, love, drama, family, birth, death, survival, conflict, crises, creativity . . . and a lot of laughter.

Told with wit, insight and astonishing candour by the band themselves and manager Paul McGuinness, with pictures from their own archives, ‘U2 by U2′ allows unprecedented access into the inner life of the greatest rock band of our times.

I don’t know about you, but I have pre-ordered my copy!

Posted in Popular Culture, U2 | 1 Comment »

Irish Bog Psalter Follow-Up

16th August 2006

I can’t recall if anyone followed up on the medieval book of Psalms discovered in Ireland last month (Jim Davila surely did!), but the specific location of where it was found has been revealed (somewhat old news I realize). According to the Irish Examiner, it was was pulled out of a bog in the townland of Faddan More in north Tipperary. If you are wondering “where in the world is that?!” like I was, check out this google map (I assumed that it was somewhere near Tipperary!).

In addition, the Irish Times had another article with a bit more information about the Psalter. Here are some excerpts:

The discoveries also include a fine leather pouch in which the manuscript was originally kept.


“Part of a fine leather pouch in which the book was kept originally was recovered as well as other small fragments of the manuscript and its cover. The investigation results suggest the owner concealed the book deliberately, perhaps with a view to its later recovery,” the statement [issued by by the National Museum of Ireland] noted.

My previous posts on the Psalms manuscript may be found here and here.

Posted in Archaeology, Bible, Discoveries, Manuscript, Psalms | 1 Comment »

Jonah and the “Big Fish”

16th August 2006

I found this dialogue on Bits & Pieces:

A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales.
The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was very small.
The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible.
The little girl said, “When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah”.
The teacher asked, “What if Jonah went to hell?”
The little girl replied, “Then you ask him”.

Of course, we know that both teacher and student are wrong. Jonah was swallowed by a “big fish” (דג גדול), not a whale! While we are on the topic of whether a person can be swallowed by a fish/whale and live, I came across an article a number of years ago on the “urban legend” of a man being swallowed by a sperm whale. This story even made its way into a number of standard conservative biblical reference works. The article available online:

Edward B. Davis, “A Whale of a Tale: Fundamentalist Fish Stories” in Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 43 (1991) 224-237.

The article is definitely worth a read.

(While I am on the topic of Jonah, I thought I would note that I haven’t forgotten about my series on “Jonah’s ‘Big Fish’ Story.” I just ran out of time and energy before finishing the series. I will be returning to the series this upcoming year as I take my intro Hebrew class through the book of Jonah — so stay tuned!)

Posted in Bible, Hermeneutics, Humour, Jonah, Old Testament | 3 Comments »

Addendum to U2 Spiritually Significant Songs: The First Time

16th August 2006

I was chatting with a Ken Ristau today and he wondered why “The First Time” (Lyrics; from Zooropa 1993; Buy from | wasn’t on my list of spiritually significant U2 songs. I was dumbfounded since we were talking about it when I was compiling my list and I was going to include it, but somehow it fell through the cracks. I would like to add it now; if I have to take a song off my list to make room for it, then I would take “40″ (adding it to my list also inlcudes a song from Zooropa, which makes my list a bit more representative).

This mournful song is one of U2′s most theological. While on one level this song could be read as a love song or as a reflection on one’s family, on another perhaps more theologically profound level it is a reflection on the Trinity and our human tendency to squander God’s love and grace.

Here are the lyrics in full:

I have a lover, a lover like no other
She got soul soul soul, sweet soul
And she teach me how to sing
Shows me colours when there’s none to see
Gives me hope when I can’t believe
But for the first time I feel love

I have a brother when I’m a brother in need
I spend my whole time running
He spends his running after me
I feel myself goin’ down
I just call and he comes around
But for the first time I feel love

My father is a rich man, he wears a rich man’s cloak
Gave me the keys to his kingdom coming
Gave me a cup of gold
He said ‘I have many mansions
And there are many rooms to see’
But I left by the back door
And I threw away the key
And I threw away the key
Yeah, I threw away the key
Yeah, I threw away the key

For the first time
For the first time
For the first time I feel love

The first stanza is about the Holy Spirit (appropriately pictured as a female) who woos the implied author and gives him hope and love. The second is portrays the Son as the redeemer who searches out sinners and comes when called. The final stanza (which disambiguates the prior stanzas since the allusions to God the Father are unmistakable; see Matthew 16, Luke 15, John 14) portrays God the Father as showering his grace on the implied author, yet the singer rejects this love and throws it away; “But I left by the back door / And I threw away the key”!

Some Christian fans were scandalized this song, assuming that it was Bono or U2 “throwing away the key” (i.e., losing his/their faith). While many of U2′s songs appear to be autobiographical, they don’t have to be read that way. Whoever the implied “I” in the song is, it is precisely the part about throwing away the key that appeals to me. It is brutally honest — the Triune God showers his love on us and for the first time we experience what love is all about, but then we squander it. We leave through the back door and throw away the key.

During the Vertigo tour, Bono would at times change the ending of the song. Sometimes he would sing “Yeah, I threw away the key / God gave it back to me / and for the first time I felt love” (Milwaukee 2005) while other times he changed the ending to “But I left by the back door / But I didn’t throw away the key / For the first time / For the first time / I feel love / Shows me colours when there’s none to see / Gives me faith when I can’t believe / For the first time I feel love” (Chicago 2005). While I think I like the original version best (its a bit more edgy), the first alternative version highlights God’s unbelievable grace even more!

Posted in Popular Culture, U2 | 1 Comment »

Khirbet Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls

15th August 2006

The New York Times has an article (based on a BAR article) that challenges the connection between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Qumran settlement entitled, “Archaeologists Challenge Link Between Dead Sea Scrolls and Ancient Sect.” Chris Weimer has also posted on this news article over at Thoughts on Antiquity, as has Jim Davila at PaleoJudaica; I thought I’d throw in my two cents worth as well.
Here is an excerpt from the article:

But two Israeli archaeologists who have excavated the site on and off for more than 10 years now assert that Qumran had nothing to do with the Essenes or a monastery or the scrolls. It had been a pottery factory.

The archaeologists, Yizhak Magen and Yuval Peleg of the Israel Antiquities Authority, reported in a book and a related magazine article that their extensive excavations turned up pottery kilns, whole vessels, production rejects and thousands of clay fragments. Derelict water reservoirs held thick deposits of fine potters’ clay.

Dr. Magen and Dr. Peleg said that, indeed, the elaborate water system at Qumran appeared to be designed to bring the clay-laced water into the site for the purposes of the pottery industry. No other site in the region has been found to have such a water system.

By the time the Romans destroyed Qumran in A.D. 68 in the Jewish revolt, the archaeologists concluded, the settlement had been a center of the pottery industry for at least a century. Before that, the site apparently was an outpost in a chain of fortresses along the Israelites’ eastern frontier.

While it is difficult to assess the strengths of their arguments based on a newspaper article, I’m not quite sure how finding significant pottery fabricating remains leads to the conclusion that the scrolls are not related to the site as well — especially considering that Magen himself thinks that the pottery associated with the scrolls came from Qumran.

The article’s conclusion is also a bit overstated:

Despite the rising tide of revisionist thinking, other scholars of the Dead Sea scrolls continue to defend the Essene hypothesis, though with some modifications and diminishing conviction.

If you want to read further, you can check out the BAR article here (subscription required to read the full article) or read Magen and Peleg’s more detailed essay in The Site of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Archaeological Interpretations and Debates, edited by Katharina Galor, Jean-baptiste Humbert, and Jürgen Zangenberg (Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 57; Brill, 2006; Buy from | Buy from

For more reseources on the Dead Sea Scrolls, you may want to check out my resource pages.

Posted in Archaeology, Dead Sea Scrolls, News, Qumran | 2 Comments »