Welcome to the thirteenth Biblical Studies Carnival! This edition marks one full year of Biblical Studies Carnivals (BSC) since they were resurrected in February 2006. (Now, I know I said I would also include a “Best of 2006” portion with this Carnival. As this Carnival edition grew, I decided that I would post the “Best Of” separately. Stay tuned for that post in the next few days.)
Biblical Studies blogging appears to be alive and well (I note over 70 posts in this edition). There were a lot of interesting articles posted in the month of December 2006, many of which are detailed below. In preparing this Carnival (which took much longer than anticipated!), I also noticed the large number of inactive “biblioblogs” in my rss reader. That being said, for every dormant blog, there appears to be two new ones starting up!
Well, enough with the opening pleasantries. Let’s see what December 2006 brought us in terms of academic Biblical Studies in the blogosphere.
‘Tis the Season
Since this BSC covers the month of December, I figured it would be appropriate to begin with some festive posts.
There were a number of posts dealing with elements of the biblical Christmas story. Darrell Pursiful presented a series of posts answering the question, “When Was Jesus Born?” over at Dr. Platypus. The first post, Herod’s Death, tried to ascertain the date of the death of King Herod. Other posts include “Why December 25th?,” “Zechariahâ€™s Priestly Service,” “The Date of Jesus’ Birth,” “The Star of Bethlehem,” and “The Census.”
Moving from when Jesus was born to where was he born, Todd Bolen has an interesting post discussing the mistranslation of Luke 2:7 as “No Room in the Inn.” According to Todd, it would be more appropriate to render this verses as “guest room” and highlight that it was not that Joseph and Mary were late getting to Bethlehem and there was no more room for them; it was that they were rejected by their extended family.
Steven Cook over at Biblische Ausbildung has an excellent series of posts on his SBL tour of biblical themes in the National Gallery of Art Collections. While his first post was in November, the rest have been in December and are fair game for this Carnival. His second post, “Isaiah 1:3 and the Creche Scene,” examines Fra Angelico and Fra Filippo Lippi’s Adoration of the Magi (ca. 1440/60 CE) where the focus is not the NT nativity scene of Mary and Jesus, but rather, an ox and an ass. According to Steven, this emphasis comes from Isaiah 1:3, in which God complains, “The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” His second post continues the nativity emphasis with his discussion of Petrus Christus’s Nativity (1450 CE). Again, Steven highlights a number of allusions to the OT in the painting. Quite fascinating.
On a related topic, Charles Halton has a post on Virginity in the Bible where he argues that both the Hebrew betulah and the Greek parthenos have similar semantic ranges (women who are of marriageable age who may or may not be virgins) and that reasons for one’s belief in the virgin birth must lie elsewhere.
There have also been some posts looking at the significance of Christmas from different perspectives. Leo over at Beyond the Wardrobe examines the significance of Philippians chapter 2 for Christmas in his post, “What if you had no reputation?” Meanwhile Tyler Williams of Codex fame, examined Christmas from the perspective of the Johannine literature in his two posts on “Christmas According to John, Part 1 and Part 2.
Finally, if you want the “The Gospel Truth About Christmas” then check out Michael Barber‘s post here.
The Nativity Story
This Christmas season saw the release of the major biblical epic, The Nativity Story. Naturally, this film received quite a bit of attention from bloggers. The best stop for all you could ever want in relation to this film is certainly Matt Page‘s super Bible Films Blog. Check out his Nativity Story Central Page for an index to his posts and external links. Also make sure to check out Matt’s own review.
In regards to reviews by actual New Testament scholars (!), there have been a number of reviews. Ben Witherington has a positive review, as does Scott McKnight, while Mark Goodacre’s is perhaps a bit more critical in his review (see also his more polished SBL Forum review).
REB Chaim HaQoton presented an interesting post on Hanukkah entitled, “Rock of Ages” over at REB HaQoton.
Let’s end the review of festive posts with one that is more tongue in cheek: Tyler Williams‘ “‘Tis the Season to be Tacky: Jesus Junk and Christian Kitsch 8 – Merry Kitschmas!”
Language and Translation
If you are in the process of choosing a Bible translation you may want to check out the post “On Bible Translation” at realmealministries.org. You may also want to look at Eddie Arthur‘s post “Which Bible Should I Use?” over at Kouya Chronicle.
Those interested in the development of the Hebrew language will want to check out the discussion between Duane Smith and Charles Halton. The discussion started in connection with Duane’s post over at Abnormal Interests on “Illiteracy in Antiquity,” which was then followed up by his post “Is the Canaanite of the Amarna Letters a Precursor of Biblical Hebrew?” This was responded to by Charles at Awilum.com in a post asking the question, “Did Hebrew Evolve from Late Bronze Age Canaanite?” For the record, neither think that Classical Hebrew simply developed out of Canaanite. Whew! I was worried!
For those interested in Hebrew, make sure to check out the regular posts by Dave on Balashon – Hebrew Language Detective. For instance, for the month of December he posted on a number of words related to Hanukkah, such as “Chanukah” (Hanukkah), “makabim” (Maccabees), “leviva” (latke), as well as the Yiddish word “dreidel.”
Finally, prompted by a post by Tyler Williams, Simon Holloway has an interesting post on the differences between Biblical, Rabbinic, and Modern Israeli Hebrew: “Israeli vs. Hebrew: a Contemporary Linguistic Debate.”
Archaeology and Geography
Ken Ristau of anduril.ca fam) wrote some reflections on his six-week participation in the Renewed Tel Dor Project this last summer. The Tel Dor excavations were renewed in 2003 and are directed by Ilan Sharon (Hebrew University) and Ayelet Gilboa (University of Haifa).
Kevin P. Edgecomb over at biblicalia takes on those who would deny legitimacy to the practice of “biblical archaeology.” He argues that “Biblical Archaeology” itself, properly defined, is a perfectly legitimate practice.
Moving on to archaeology (im)properly practiced, Chris Heard finished up his
thorough extensive comprehensive all-encompassing and somewhat scathing 15-part review of Simcha Jacoboviciâ€™s The Exodus Decoded (which is now available for purchase from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com).
Old Testament/Hebrew Bible
In the Old Testament category, Rey over at The Bible Archive surveys the different interpretations of The Sons of God in Genesis 6. While the different views all have some merit, Rey notes that no matter which one you lean towards the reason for the flood is the same: the wickedness of humanity.
Moving from the sons of God to the sons of Aaron, Kevin Wilson over at Blue Cord has a post musing about the history of the priesthood in ancient Israel. His post, “Priests and the Pentateuch” explores the question of the relationship between the pentateuchal sources and the history of the priesthood; Wilson suggests — rather provocatively — that the P source may in fact be one of the earliest sources to the Pentateuch, rather than the latest (Wellhausen says, Nein!). Also of note is Kevin’s in-depth multipart review of the latest SBL Symposium series volume, A Farewell to the Yahwist? The Composition of the Pentateuch in Recent European Interpretation, edited by Thomas B. Dozeman and Konrad Schmid (Society of Biblical Literature, 2006; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com).
Simon Holloway has a nice explanation of the ambiguities of interpreting Deuteronomy 21:22-23 in his post, “Insulted by God?: The Anatomy of a Genitive,” while Harvey Bluedorn presents The Sabbath Syllogism over at Trivium Pursuit.
Moving to the Psalms and poetic literature, Ancient Hebrew Poetry examines the poetry and form of Psalm 6, while those interested in ancient Near Eastern and biblical proverbs will want to check out a new blog entitled “Beginning of Wisdom.” This blog is a father-son effort by Eisenbrauns acquisitions editor, John Cook and his son Colin. Inspired by the Latin Proverb of the Day blog, they hope to post on the wealth of proverbs from the ancient Near East. It will mostly post proverbs from the Hebrew Bible, but will eventually include some Aramaic proverbs from Ahiqar, and aphorisms from the Babylonian and Egyptian wisdom writings.
The prophets received short shrift this month, though Dr. Claude Mariottini over at his eponymous blog posted on “Jonah and His God,” where he highlights Jonah’s rebellion, the brutality of the ancient Assyrians, and the compassion of Jonah’s God.
Jim Davila at PaleoJudaica responds in some length to an online essay by one Uri Cohen that seeks to rehabilitate Herod the Great and present him as a Palestinian Arab. Jim’s final assessment is worth citing in full:
Cohen appears to be inviting modern Palestinian Arabs to claim Herod as one of their own. I suppose they can have him if they want him. His Judaism credentials are debatable too and I don’t imagine many Jews would mind sharing him. But the historical links to modern Palestinians are tenuous and the historical analogy to the present strikes me as weak. Be that as it may, if Palestinians want to adopt Herod, they will need to accept the existence of the Second Jewish Temple, whose renovation and rebuilding was his greatest achievement.
Read the whole post here.
Over at Tony Chatrand-Burke‘s Apocryphicity, there is an interesting post on the Gospel of Judas: “Gospel of Judas Opens Old Wounds” by guest blogger Pierluigi Piovanelli from the University of Ottawa. The post explores some issues surrounding the publication of the Gospel of Judas and suggests, among other things, that it would be better to refer to this ancient manuscript as the Al Minya Codex.
The Dead Sea Scrolls have also received some attention this month. Peter Kirby posted an important notice about the Open Scrolls Project at his blog, Christian Origins. This project aims to bring the Dead Sea Scrolls online, available for free. This is an important project and if you want to find out more or be involved, check out this website: http://www.openscrolls.org.
Michael Barber over at Singing in the Reign has continued his series on “Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom” while Richard H. Anderson presented his first post in a new series on stewardship with “Why two different Greek words for steward?” over at dokeo kago grapho soi kratistos Theophilos.
Chris Tilling at Chrisendom has continued his extensive summary and review of Richard Bauckham’s latest book, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (Eerdmans, 2006; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). Richard Bauckham also responds to some of Chris’s reflections, so there is an interesting dialogue developing.
Moving to the Pauline letters, Michael Pahl continued his “blogentary” on 1 Thessalonians at The Stuff of Earth with his post “1 Thessalonians 1:1 – Text and Translation.” Over at PastoralEpistles.com Rick Brannan informed us of some major changes to his site, while at Ricoblog he posted a translation and some notes on Colossians 4:2-18.
Turning from the NT literature to the NT world, the discovery of the apostle Paul’s tomb hit the news in December. Jim Davila at PaleoJudaica covered the discovery, as did Todd Bolen here and here. Some others who noted it include Claude Mariottini, Mark Goodacre, who also posted on the original discovery way back in February 2005.
Jim West has a running commentary on Joseph A. Fitzmyer’s forthcoming book on the messiah, entitled The One Who Is To Come (Eerdmans, 2007; Preorder from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com), which will whet your appetite for the book. (You may also want to check out Jim’s interaction with Stephen Cook‘s The Social Roots of Biblical Yahwism (Brill, 2005; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com).
Patristics and More
Phillip Snider over at hyperekperissou hosted the first ever Patristics Carnival in December. The Carnival covers blog posts that 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.In addition, he has begun a “Patristic Roundup” which is a weekly update of blog posts that deal with patristics. Check out his roundups for the weeks of December 6-13 and 21-27.
On Our Discipline
In regard to the field of biblical studies, Philip Davies wrote a guest column over at Jim West’s blog reflecting on November’s Society of Biblical Literature meeting in Washington. His observations rang true to me; I especially liked his description of the SBL as “a discotheque without the music.”
January’s SBL Forum went online in December. It included an interesting review of the NIV True Images: The Bible for Teen Girls (Zondervan, 2003; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com) by James G. Crossley of Earliest Christian History blog fame (For an index of January’s SBL Forum posts, check out Tyler Williams’ post here).
Well, that wraps up this edition of the Biblical Studies Carnival. Stay tuned for the Best of 2006.
Upcoming Biblical Studies Carnivals
Biblical Studies Carnival XIV will be hosted by Chris Weimer over at Thoughts on Antiquity in the first week of February, 2007. Look for a call for submissions and nominations on his blog soon.
Submissions (which should be blog entries posted in January 2007) 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 a full listing of past and future Biblical Studies Carnivals, as well as other valuable information about the Carnival, please consult the Biblical Studies Carnival Homepage.