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Archive for June, 2007

Hosts Needed for Future Biblical Studies Carnivals

29th June 2007

If you are interested in hosting an upcoming Biblical Studies Carnival, let me know. I have hosts arranged through October 2007:

I wouldn’t mind setting the schedule through 2007 at least. If you’re an established blogger who knows your way around the biblical studies related blogs (dare I say, “biblioblogs”), please volunteer to host a future Biblical Studies Carnival.

Hosting requires a fair amount of work. While there are a number of nominations submitted, as host you have to make sure to keep track of worthy posts throughout the month you are responsible for. The benefits of hosting are many. Not only do you get to see for yourself what is being written in the blogosphere in the field of academic biblical studies, hosting also highlights your own blog.

The goal is to rotate the Carnivals among a variety of different people, so if you have already hosted a Carnival, I will prioritize new bloggers. That being said, if you are interested in a hosting a second time, please do let me know.

The only additional requirement is to ensure that full contact details for the next host are included in your Carnival and to send the coordinator an email immediately before or right after posting the Carnival so that the Biblical Studies Carnival Homepage can be updated.

So if you are interested in hosting, send me an email at codex [at] biblical-studies [dot] ca with your full name, the name and url of your blog, and your preferred month.

For more information, consult the Biblical Studies Carnival Homepage.

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Nominate a Post for the Biblical Studies Carnival Today!

27th June 2007

Stephen Cook will be hosting Biblical Studies Carnival XIX next week. He has posted a call for submissions over at Biblische Ausbildung.

I encourage you to submit a post today! This can be one of your own posts or you can nominate a post written by someone else — don’t forget that the post needs to fit into the general category of academic biblical studies and cognate areas and needs to have been written sometime in June 2007.

You can submit/nominate posts via the submission form at or you may email them to biblical_studies_carnival AT hotmail DOT com.

For more information, consult the Biblical Studies Carnival Homepage.

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June-July SBL Forum

26th June 2007

The summer edition of the Society of Biblical Literature Forum has been uploaded. It’s understandably a bit sparse, though there are some interesting articles nonetheless. I especially enjoyed Michael Homan’s piece humanizing archaeological destruction layers through his personal experience of hurricane Katrina. I’ve been a reader of Michael’s blog for a couple years and am familiar with all he experienced. He will be covering the dig at Tel Zeitah, so make sure to give his blog a look. I also found the article on Zimri interesting, though I’m not sure how it fits under “In the Profession.”

Here is the full table of contents of the June-July 2007 (vol. 5, no. 6) edition:

In the Public Sphere

In the Profession


Society News

Letters to the Editor



Posted in Academic Associations, SBL, SBL Forum | 1 Comment »

Essential Films of 2006 for Theologians

15th June 2007

Loren Rosson published his list of The Top 10 Films of 2006 a while ago over at the Busybody. I quite like his list. While I have noted some of my favourite movies of 2006 in my Third Annual Ralphies – Second Annual Codex Edition (Best of 2006) post, as well as in the commentary to Christianity Today‘s Top Ten Films of 2006, I haven’t published a full top ten list — let alone a detailed post like last year’s Essential Films of 2005 for Theologians. This negligence on my part is for a variety of reasons, including needing to catch up with a few films on DVD — like Pan’s Labyrinth — before settling on my list. Either way, seeing Loren’s list spurred me on to finally create this year’s instalment of “Essential Films for Theologians.”

I should confess a couple limitations with this list. First, and quite naturally, it only contains films that I have personally viewed. My list of “Films I should have viewed before making my list” include, critically acclaimed films like The Queen (Stephen Frears, 2006; Buy from |, L’enfant (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2006; Buy from |, among others. Second, before anyone comments that I clearly have no sense of what makes a good film, note that these are top films “for theologians,â€? i.e., they are films that raise theological questions or issues. They are not necessarily great films or the best films of the year; they have weaknesses and shortcomings. That being said, I do think that most if not all of them are among the best of the year and are certainly worthy of thoughtful viewing.

So, drum-roll please, here is my list of “Essential Films of 2006 for Theologians” in all its glory:

  • 10. Jesus Camp (Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, 2006; IMDB; Buy from or A disturbing and somewhat biased documentary about fundamentalist Christianity in the United States (my Canadian sensibilities cringe when the documentary describes the Christianity in the film as “evangelical”). Not necessarily the best documentary, it raises a whole host of questions about how Christians are perceived by others as well as how to (and how not to) pass on your faith to your children. Another documentary that deserves some sort of notice is Blood of My Brother: A Story of Death in Iraq (Andrew Berends, 2005 [I watched it in 2006]; IMDB; Buy from or This is a low-budget film about an Iraqi family dealing with the accidental death of a son and brother by the hands of American troops. It provides a captivating glimpse into everyday life in war torn Iraq and folk Islam.
  • 9. Casino Royale (Martin Campbell, 2006; IMDB; Buy from | There is not much theology in this film, although it does raise some interesting ethical questions (!). Nonetheless, as a long time Bond fan, I thought it was superb and had to include it on my list. (Following the lead of an article by Umberto Eco, I do use the Bond series as an example of structural analysis of artifacts from popular culture in my religion and popular culture course)
  • an_inconvenient_truth.jpg8. An Inconvenient Truth (Davis Guggenheim, 2006; IMDB; Buy from or Science aside, I thought this was a well done and provocative documentary. It is too bad the issue of global warming has become so politicized — is it really such a bad thing to reduce the amount we pollute and consume non-renewable resources? I really don’t understand Christians who object to the basic message of the film, especially since we are called to tend the earth. In the end, this film generates a lot of theological discussion surrounding our stewardship of God’s creation.
  • 7. Babel (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2006; IMDB; Buy from | While the concept behind this film is brilliant, the Japan story-line is weak. In the same way that last year’s Crash explored racism, this film explores the question of language, culture, and diversity in a way that will provoke meaningful discussion. Is it possible for humanity to reverse the consequences of Babel? Or is it only as part of God’s redemptive plan that the consequences of Babel will ultimately be reversed?
  • 6. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Larry Charles, 2006; IMDB; Buy from | While all parts of this movie is offensive, what is most offensive are the attitudes and behaviours of the non-actors in the film. Racism, sexism, and bigotry is alive and well on planet earth. (I also haven’t laughed so hard in the theatre in a long time, at times uncomfortably, mind you).
  • 5. The Last King of Scotland (Kevin MacDonald, 2006; IMDB; Buy from | Forest Whitaker deserved all of the awards he won for his brilliant and disturbing portrayal of the brutal Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin. While Amin’s character raises a number of questions, the struggles of Dr. Nicholas Garrigan (a fictional character played by James McAvoy) will likely raise more questions for thoughtful viewers. Another film based on more recent events closer to home is United 93 (Paul Greengrass, 2006; IMDB; Buy from | Considering viewers know the outcome of the flight, the director deserves credit for making a suspenseful and very well done film. Good discussion points about self-sacrifice and courage.
  • pans_labyrinth.jpg4. The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006; IMDB; Buy from or This is a great gangster film and all of the actors had great performances, especially Jack Nicholson. The movie raises issues of moral compromise and integrity — but in the end it raises the question of who really are the “faithfully departed.” (I had previously listed this as my number one movie of 2006)
  • 3. Pan’s Labyrinth [El Laberinto del fauno] (Guillermo Del Toro, 2006; IMDB; Buy from | This dark adult fairy tale is amazing in many ways. It interweaves story-lines about a girl growing up amid personal tragedies, including the horrors of the Spanish civil war, and the fantasy world which she created to cope with her life. Visually stunning and skillfully put together — especially how the line between reality and fantasy are blurred. How much is the alternate fantasy world just a creation of the girl’s imagination?

  • 2. Little Children (Todd Field, 2006; IMDB; Buy from | This is an amazing film; I was so moved by it that I almost think it should be number one. The questions it raises about maturity, sexuality, fidelity, and brokenness are meaningful to contemporary society. This film is an “Eyes Wide Shut” for middle class suburbanites. Another film which I feel compelled to mention, but am not quite sure where to place it is Little Miss Sunshine (Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris; IMDB; Buy from | This quirky film is about acceptance and family — no matter how much you may act like “little children” (in some ways sends the opposite message as Little Children).
  • children_of_men.jpg1. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006; IMDB; Buy from | A miraculous birth with all worldly powers pursuing the woman and her child — sound familiar? Beyond the clear allusions to Jesus’ birth, the film also raises questions surrounding God’s work in the world. The film is also visually appealing and contains some amazing camera work.

Some other films I think are worth watching include Hard Candy (David Slade, 2005; IMDB; Buy from |, The Black Dahlia (Brian De Palma, 2006; IMDB; Buy from |, Flags of our Fathers (Clint Eastwood, 2006; IMDB; Buy from |, A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater, 2006; IMDB; Buy from |, Jason Reitman’s Thank You for Smoking (2005; IMDB; Buy from | Those favoring a western twang will enjoy The Proposition (John Hillcoat, 2005; IMDB; Buy from | and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Tommy Lee Jones, 2005; IMDB; Buy from | While I didn’t think the visually appealing 300 (Zack Snyder, 2006; IMDB; Buy from | was top-ten material, it is also worth seeing as long as you don’t expect a historical epic faithful to Herodotus!

I wish I could have included one of the few Bible films released last year on my list, whether The Nativity Story (Catherine Hardwicke, 2006; IMDB; Buy from or, The Color of the Cross (Jean-Claude La Marre, 2006; IMDB; Buy from or, or One Night with the King (Michael O. Sajbel, 2006; IMDB; Buy from or Unfortunately, all of these films were a disappointment. The Nativity Story was too sentimental (and as a biblical scholar I still can’t believe that in a film trying to present a certain historical verisimilitude, they had the wise men appear at the birth instead of at the house a few years later), The Color of the Cross had great potential but failed to explore racial issues in any meaningful way, and One Night With the King failed to generate any meaningful sympathy for the main characters.

All in all, I am not sure that 2006 was as good as last year for movies.

Posted in Faith & Film, Film, Popular Culture | 6 Comments »

Back to Mac

11th June 2007

Readers will know that at heart I am a Macintosh enthusiast, but I had been drawn over to the dark side because of work compatibility issues, among other things. As it turns out, my Dell Inspiron 8500 has died (and it has been a slow painful death) and consequently I just placed an order for a brand-spanking new 15″ 2.2 GHz MacBook Pro. I am coming home, Steve!


Technically, I never left Apple since my home office sports both a Windows tower as well as a dual G4 tower. But the computer that I worked on day in and day out has been my Inspiron. What precipitated my return to my Mac roots? Three things: Intel chips, Boot Camp, and Parallels. The world in which I live requires that I have the ability to run some Windows programs. Now I can have the best of both worlds – the class of a MacBook plus the added windows functionality. Sweet.

I can’t wait until it arrives!

Posted in Macintosh | 3 Comments »

The Gospel According to the Sopranos

10th June 2007


Tonight the series finale of the award-winning HBO series, The Sopranos, is airing. I have been a fan of the series from the very beginning and am looking forward to watching episode 86, “Made in America.” I can’t help but think that the finale will be somewhat of a letdown, but that is perhaps to be expected for a long-running successful television series. I don’t think Tony will get whacked and I can’t see him cooperating with the FBI, so I’m not sure what will happen. (If you haven’t been following the series, check out the amusing video “7 Seven Minute Sopranos – A ‘Whacked Out’ Refresher” on YouTube).

gospel_soprano.jpgAs with many artifacts from popular culture, there has been some interesting philosophical and theological reflection on the series. One of my favourite series of “light” philosophy books has a volume entitled The Sopranos and Philosophy: I Kill Therefore I Am, edited by Richard Greene and Peter Vernezze (Popular Culture and Philosophy; Open Court, 2004; Buy from | I also liked the book on The Sopranos by Chris Seay, The Gospel According to Tony Soprano: An Unauthorized Look Into the Soul of TV’s Top Mob Boss and His Family (Relevant Books, 2002; Buy from | While I don’t think this volume is as strong as other “The Gospel According to…” books (not that all of the others are that strong either), it is an engaging examination of the first three seasons of The Sopranos from a Christian perspective. Seay treats the mob show as a modern parable that “provokes us, excites us, and pries back the exterior to peek into the darkest parts of our souls.” While Seay’s analyses of the show and popular culture are at times superficial, the book is fun and informative.

Will Tony Soprano be sleeping with the fishes after tonight’s episode? We’ll all have to wait and see.

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Biblical Studies Carnival XVIII is online at Deinde

2nd June 2007

Danny Zacharias has uploaded Biblical Studies Carnival XVIII over at Deinde. Danny has done a great job highlighting the best of biblical studies in the blogosphere for the month of May 2007. There is something for everyone, from academic writing to organizing your library, Septuagint to a structural outline of Ephesians, as well as figuring out the best name for the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible/Tanak/Jewish Scriptures/Mostly Hebrew Writings about Jewish Religious Things/Bible.

I would like to make a special thanks for everyone who nominated posts this month. As coordinator I also check the email account throughout the month and this month I noticed that quite a few more bloggers were making a point to submit posts. Keep up the good work! And please make sure to take the time and nominate relevent posts for the next carnival. You can submit/nominate posts via the submission form at or you may email them to biblical_studies_carnival AT hotmail DOT com.

Biblical Studies Carnival IXX will be hosted by Stephen L. Cook over at Biblische Ausbildung in the first week of July 2007. Look for a call for submissions on his blog mid-month.

For more information, consult the Biblical Studies Carnival Homepage.

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