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Archive for November, 2006

Writing “On the Side”

10th November 2006

Scott McKnight over at Jesus Creed has a thought-provoking post on “Writing — On the Side.” His comments resonate with my own thoughts, though I don’t find writing comes easy. Just this morning I was staring at my computer screen for far too long!

Posted in Faith & Scholarship | Comments Off

CSBS Ancient Historiography Seminar: Call for Papers

10th November 2006

CSBSLogo.gif The Ancient Historiography Seminar / Groupe de Travail sur l’Historiographie Ancienne of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies invites papers on self-identification, community identity, and ethnicity in Judahite/Yehudite historiography for the 2007 Annual Meeting at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon (May 27-29).

Papers are invited to address a range of related questions, such as the understanding, presentation, and delimitation of “Israel” in various biblical texts, the relationship of Israelites to Judahites in Judean historical writings, the definition of Israel over against other peoples, the possible reasons why the ethno-religious community (“Israel”) was the focus of Judahite/Yehudite historiography, and the potential relationship of these issues to the Jewish-Samaritan controversy (at its earliest stages through the early part of the common era). Papers may approach the question from a variety of theoretical and disciplinary vantage points. For example, some may wish to pursue an inner-biblical perspective (Pentateuchal sources/writings, Former Prophets, Latter Prophets, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah), while others may wish to pursue a cross-cultural comparative perspective (e.g., Ancient Near Eastern, Greek, Hellenistic and early Roman historiographies: Herodotus, Berossus, Manetho, Josephus; or be informed by non-Western historiographic traditions). Yet others may want to relate (or unrelate) the material remains to the question of community identity in northern Israel, monarchic Judah, and/or postmonarchic Yehud.

To be considered for our program, please submit a 250 word abstract to Ken Ristau (kar340 [at] psu [dot] edu) by December 1, 2006.

The Ancient Historiography Seminar / Groupe de Travail sur l’Historiographie Ancienne is a professional, academic working group of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies / Société canadienne des Études bibliques (CSBS/SCÉB). For more information, please see our website.

Posted in Academic Associations, Ancient Historiography Seminar, Announcements, CSBS | Comments Off

Friedman on Humour in the Hebrew Bible

9th November 2006

The Owings Mills Times has a small news report on a lecture Richard Friedman gave at a local synagogue. Here are some excerpts:

Friedman said it is difficult to get away from humor in the Jewish culture because it is part of the religion.

“It’s an integral part of our lives,” he said.


Jokes abound in the Torah, the five books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, Friedman said. The humor is especially obvious if the books are read in Hebrew. The Hebrew language lends itself to puns, he said.

The three pages of the Bible that are devoted to Jonah strike Friedman as the funniest. He said in Hebrew there are 35 puns in the story of Jonah.

The cast is composed of Jonah, who doesn’t want to do God’s bidding; a whale, who has to tote a poetry-writing prophet in his gut for three days and three nights, and a town full of repentants, people and cows who go around in sack cloth and ashes.

Jonah feels betrayed because he told the people they had 40 days to repent. God forgave them after only three days. After all, he did have his reputation as a prophet to consider, Friedman said.

Jonah leaves in a tiff, and goes to sit on a hill to sulk. In the end, Jonah learns a lesson about taking himself so seriously. The repentant people, not to mention the cows covered in ashes, are just as important as he is.

Friedman said jokes help people stay involved, whether they are attending a lecture or reading the Bible.

“Jokes are fun, they are a part of life, and they serve a purpose,” Friedman said. “They give comic relief when the lecture or book gets boring.”

I think that the humour in the Hebrew Bible is one of its most neglected features (see my previous post on this topic here).

Richard E. Friedman is the Davis Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Georgia, and Katzen Professor of Jewish Civilization, Emeritus, at the University of California, San Diego. He has written a number of books, including Who Wrote the Bible? (HarperSanFrancisco, 1997; Buy from | Buy from, The Hidden Face of God (HarperSanFrancisco, 1996; Buy from | Buy from, and most recently The Bible with Sources Revealed (HarperSanFrancisco, 2005; Buy from | Buy from The latter is a translation of the first five books of the Bible — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy into English, differentiating textual sources by type styles and colors.

Posted in Bible, Hebrew, Humour, Old Testament | Comments Off

Research in Religious Studies Conference Call for Papers

9th November 2006

This announcement will be of interest to all Albertan students studying religious studies, biblical studies, and theology. This is an annual student conference put on by the Religious Studies department at the University of Lethbridge. Note that this year the regional AAR/SBL meetings are being held at immediately following the student conference at the University of Lethbridge. I am hoping to bring a number of students with me to the conference this year and perhaps stay for the regional SBL meeting — I encourage you to do as well!

Call For Papers

5th Annual

Thursday, May 3 – Friday, May 4, 2007
University of Lethbridge
Lethbridge, Alberta

The conference is an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate level students to present papers on the history, belief, practices, cultural contexts, and artistic or literary expressions of any religious tradition. Papers from every discipline within the academic fields of the humanities and social sciences are welcome.

It is open to students from any educational institute at any point in their educational career. Although we encourage PhD students to attend, we are particularly seeking papers by undergraduate and masters level students.

Paper Sessions: Papers will typically be given a maximum of 30 mins (20 mins for the presentation and 10 mins for questions). Papers will be organized according to basic topic areas (e.g. Hinduism, Biblical Studies, Mythology, etc.). Diverse topic areas will be scheduled into an open paper session.

Panels include a series of related papers and a single question period at the end, or responses by other contributors. You may propose a panel discussion, especially if you know other interested folk with a paper on a relevant topic (great for final year seminar courses). Contact Dr. J. R. Linville at the address below if you would like to help organize a special panel.

Poster Session: Whether you are presenting a paper or not, bring a poster highlighting your BA Honors paper, MA research (completed or planned), or other research project, and see if you can get some feedback. Posters will be prominently displayed and time will be scheduled to discuss the advertised projects with the folks who are willing to share ideas with those who are interested, curious, or just plain mystified.

Click here to propose a paper (deadline: March 23, 2007)

We will do our best to accept all deserving papers, but there is a limit to the number of papers we can accept. All proposals will be adjudicated by March 31, 2007. Late submissions will only be considered if schedule allows.

Presenters must pay the required registration fee to attend the conference.

Dr. James R. Linville

Also, the Religious Studies Department at the University of Lethbridge also has a blog where you can get updates and more information.

Posted in Academic Associations, Announcements, Conferences | 1 Comment »

2007 Rugby World Cup Tickets On Sale

9th November 2006

RugbyCanada.jpgSo, if you are thinking of buying me a Christmas present, you can always buy me some tickets to the 2007 Rugby World Cup since tickets go on sale today. Of course, you would have to buy me airplane tickets to France as well, since that is where the World Cup is being held next year.

Team Canada will have an uphill battle since we will playing in Pool B along with Australia, Wales, Fiji and the winner of the top team from Asia. Australia will be the toughest challenge. I also like Wales, but that is more because I have Welsh heritage. Canada’s first game is against Wales in Nantes on 9 September 2007 and will then we play Fiji in Cardiff on 16 September, Asia 1 in Bordeaux on 25 September and Australia in Bordeaux on 25 September.

I can’t wait. Rugby is the best game in the world!

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Posted in News, Personal, Rugby | 3 Comments »

Canaanite Burial Ground Found in Jerusalem

8th November 2006

Israel’s Antiquities Authority announced yesterday the discovery in Jerusalem of an ancient Canaanite burial ground dating back more than 4000 years.

Here is the report from Arutz Sheva:

Archaeologists working at the site of the Holyland Park building project in Jerusalem have discovered a graveyard that is over 4,000 years old.

The graveyard formerly had a model of the Second Holy Temple on top of it. The model was recently relocated to the Israel Museum.

The graveyard, the archaeologists estimate, was used during the Bronze Age, from 2200 BCE until 1600 BCE. It is filled with amulets, weapons and work tools from that period, as well as complete pottery vessels of a high quality.

The AFP story had a bit more information in their article:

The site, uncovered at a construction site, covers more than 20 hectares (49 acres) and contains human and animal remains, as well as metal and ceramic artifacts and weapons, dating back to between 2,200 and 1,600 BC.

The dig’s director, Yanir Milevsky, said that this was not the first such site found in the Jerusalem area but that “the quantity of items and their particularly good state of conservation will allow us to enlarge our knowledge of farming villages … during the Canaanite era.”

The ancient land of Canaan covered present-day Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip, as well as adjoining coastal lands and parts of Lebanon and Syria. The Hebrew people, following their liberation from exile in Egypt recounted in the Bible, moved into the area around 1,200 BC and began to conquer it.

This looks like a pretty significant archaeological find.

UPDATE: Todd Bolen over at the Bible Places Blog posted on this discovery back in September. He has some great pictures as well: click here.

Posted in Archaeology, Discoveries, News | Comments Off

A Patristic Carnival Anyone?

8th November 2006

Phil over at hyperekperisou is proposing to start a regular Patristic Carnival. The Carnival will be patterned after the Biblical Studies Carnival but will focus on Patristics, including textual studies of a patristic writer, translations of the patristic writer, historical research on the patristic period, reflections on the connections of the Church Fathers to today, influence of patristic authors in theological writing, among other things.

Phil is proposing to host the first Patristic Carnival in December, so if you blog on Patristics and are interested in such a Carnival, I encourage you to check out his proposal here.

Posted in Carnivals, News | Comments Off

Bible Stops Bullet

8th November 2006

The Bible can save your life — literally! Associated Press reports about a man in Florida “credits two small Bibles in his shirt pocket for saving his life when they stopped a bullet.”

Wow… just think what they could have stopped if he actually had the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible as well!

UPDATE: This is a bit from Woody Allen that Michael noted in the comments that I felt should be included in the actual post.

Woody Allen: “Years ago, my mother gave me a bullet…a bullet, and I put it in my breast pocket. Two years after that, I was walking down the street, when a berserk evangelist heaved a Gideon bible out a hotel room window, hitting me in the chest. Bible would have gone through my heart if it wasn’t for the bullet” (source).

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Posted in Bible, News | 1 Comment »

God’s Coming Kingdom…

7th November 2006

As someone who has a couple pet rabbits, I couldn’t help but want to post this picture (and, no, they are not food, but companions to the lion cubs!).


6 The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf bunny and the tiger lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
9 They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:6).

(HT Reuters)

Posted in Personal | 2 Comments »

Is the SBL in Need of Medicine?

7th November 2006

The most recent Chronicler of Higher Education has an article entitled, “What’s Wrong With the Society of Biblical Literature?” by Jacques Berlinerblau.

While I don’t have time to fully engage the article, I think it raises a number of good points, but misses the mark on just as many. I agree that it would be good to have a “census” of members (“census” sounds so biblical; I just hope our census fares better than King David’s!) to see where people are at on a whole variety of issues. I agree that the society should make a concerted effort to popularize good biblical scholarship (I think that the “SBL Forum” is a step in the right direction). Perhaps a glossy magazine is in order?

In regards to the academic freedom issue, I don’t see how an academic society (which is what SBL is and will always be; sorry Jacques) can really have much input except by encouraging standards to which institutions can strive. The SBL is not an accrediting agency. Finally, in regards to his recommendation to create “a form of biblical scholarship that goes beyond theology and ecumenical dialogue” I am not quite sure I agree with this proposal or even his perception that is is already not happening.

Perhaps the biggest problem I have with Berlinerblau’s article is that it seems just too American. Perhaps it is just my sensitive Canadian ears, but many of the examples seem to be too nationalistic (e.g., “America is in the midst of a religious revival,” suggesting that the SBL should aspire to the likes of the Brookings Institution [PEN isn't quite as bad a comparison since one of its goals is to foster international literary fellowship], or that it should address “the rising use of Scripture in American public life,” etc.). The SBL is an international organization with members from every continent in the world; it needs to focus on promoting and fostering excellent biblical scholarship on an international level.

I also think that many of Berlinerblau’s criticisms are unfair. For instance, in regards to the great divorce between AAR and SBL, the reason why AAR tries to explain their position on their website is because they are the ones who went forward with divorce proceedings, not SBL. I guess the SBL could have a little note on their site saying, “We don’t want to separate, we love you, please come back,” but I don’t think it would work!

Anyhow, its an interesting article and I imagine it will generate much discussion in the weeks ahead.

(HT Blue Cord)

Posted in Academic Associations, Bible, SBL | Comments Off