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Archive for November, 2009

Nominate Today for the Next Biblical Studies Carnival

25th November 2009

The month is almost over, so make sure to nominate some posts for Biblical Studies Carnival XLVIII, which will be hosted by Doug Chaplin over at his blog, clayboy. The Carnival will highlight posts relating to academic biblical studies for the month of November and should be posted in the first week of December 2009.

As I said last month, it’s a huge job to host the monthly Carnival (just ask any mortal who has hosted it before), and it makes it a lot easier if you nominate posts. Part of me wants to do what many carnivals do (e.g., the Christian Carnival) and only note posts that were actually nominated. Then the job of hosting would actually be reasonable and no one could complain about the host not mentioning their post, since you would be responsible to self-nominate. Enough of my rant…

Help Doug out and nominate some posts today! To nominate posts you have two options:

  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 I 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]” in the subject line of your email
    • Your own name and email address.
  2. 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, please see the spiffy new  Biblical Studies Carnival Homepage.

(I was remiss and failed to note the posting of Kevin Scull’s superb Biblical Studies Carnival XLVII at his  Paul of Tarsus blog. If you haven’t already, make sure to check it out!)

Posted in Biblical Studies Carnival | 2 Comments »

SBL New Orleans 2009

24th November 2009

Well, the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, as well as the International Organization of Septuagint and Cognate Studies, is over. New Orleans was great. The French Quarter has a lot of character; Bourbon Street was a bit more seedy than I remembered. I had a chance to see some of the rest of New Orleans as well. It seems that it either hasn’t quite recovered from Katrina or (more likely) it has been hit hard by the economic downturn — or a combination of both (at least the Saints are doing well!).

The conference was good. It seems a bit more manageable without AAR (first time I can recall having enough space in the conference rooms), though there are some sessions which I miss not having the opportunity to attend. I heard some good papers in the Chronicles/Ezra-Nehemiah, Septuagint, and Psalms sections, among others. I also had a nice time at a dinner organized by fellow blogger John Hobbins. The dinner featured a local chef who was superb (I now can say I like collard greens; I had them before in Arizona and thought they were awful, but now I know it was just the way they were prepared).   Michael Fox was the special guest at the dinner; after a great introduction by Ray Van Leeuwen, he chatted about the second volume of his AB commentary on Proverbs (which will be the leading commentary on Proverbs for quite a while). I also met up with other bloggers at the function organized by Jim West. It was great to put some faces to the names.

The book displays were also in fine form. I spent far too much money on too few books (the prices were right, but the fact is books are just getting more and more expensive). I’ll have to post about some of my purchases at a later date.

Now to get back into lecture prep and grading mode… bah!

Posted in Academic Associations, IOSCS, SBL | Comments Off

Disturbing Divine Behaviour

6th November 2009

As a follow up to my last post, I wanted to put a plug in for a recently published book that also explores the difficult issue of the violent portrayal of God in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament — a book which I am using as one of the texts for one of the courses I am teaching next semester:

Disturbing_Divine_BehaviorDisturbing Divine Behavior:
Troubling Old Testament Images of God

by Eric A. Seibert
Fortress Press, 2009
Buy from |

In this work Seibert examines the disturbing narrative portrayals of God in the Hebrew Bible and explores some ways in which we may (as Christians) read these narratives in a responsible and faithful manner today. I am not necessarily convinced by Seibert’s solution to the problem, but he does a great job focusing the issue and helping us understand the function of biblical narrative and its relation to history. I only wish that he would have expanded his coverage to at least include the negative images of God found in the prophetic literature. Moreover, I really wish he expanded his work to cover the entire Christian Bible (Old and New Testaments), so the issue isn’t even framed as an “Angry God of the Old Testament versus the Loving God of the New Testament” debate.

Another book that deals with the same problem by focusing on the book of Joshua and the conquest/Canaanite genocide is Walter Brueggemann‘s recently published, Divine Presence Amid Violence: Contextualizing the Book of Joshua (Cascade, 2009; Buy from |

Posted in Biblical Teaching, Joshua, Old Testament, Theodicy | 7 Comments »

My Ways Are Not Your Ways: The Violent Portrayal of God in the Hebrew Bible

6th November 2009

There was a fascinating conference sponsored by the University of Notre Dame Center for Philosophy of Religion at the beginning of September. The title of the conference was, “My Ways Are Not Your Ways: The Character of the God of the Hebrew Bible.”

The conference examined the troubling portrayals of God in the Hebrew Bible — something which I am very interested in since that will be the focus of one of my courses I am teaching next semester. Here is the write up for the conference:

Adherents of the Abrahamic religious traditions contend that human beings are made in the image of God and that modeling the character of God in one’s life represents the pinnacle of human flourishing and moral perfection. Defenders of this tradition commonly point to passages in the canonical texts of the Jewish and Christian faiths that portray God as loving, merciful, patient, etc. in support of such a position. Since the seventeenth century, however, numerous critics of these Abrahamic traditions have argued that God, especially in the Hebrew Bible, is often portrayed as anything but a moral role model. On the one hand, historical narratives in these texts describe God apparently committing, ordering, or commending genocide, slavery, and rape among other moral atrocities. On the other hand, a number of commands purportedly issued by God seem to commend bigotry, misogyny, and homophobia. In recent days, similar criticisms of the Abrahamic traditions have been raised by philosophers (Daniel Dennett), scientists (Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris), social commentators (Christopher Hitchens), and others.

Are these apparent commendations and commands of the Hebrew Bible consistent with the claim that the Abrahamic God is perfectly good and loving? Those defending this tradition have two avenues of response open to them. The first response would be to argue that the aforementioned troubling narratives or commands should simply be rejected. Those taking this approach would have to explain how they think such passages could be rejected without placing in peril the Abrahamic religions, which have traditionally claimed that the Hebrew Bible is, represents, or contains the inspired word of God. The second response would offer explanations aiming to show that the apparently untoward consequences can be avoided without rejecting the narratives or commands. Those taking this approach must explain either why the untoward consequences do not follow, or why they are not, in the end untoward.

However, while defenders of this tradition have both routes available to them, few of these defenders seem to have taken the challenge to heart. Despite these recent, forthright criticisms, only a handful of theologians or philosophers in these traditions have sought to respond to the criticisms.

The present conference aims to remedy this deficiency, taking as its focus the charge that the Abrahamic tradition should be rejected because of its foundation in the Hebrew Bible, which portrays God as immoral and vicious. The presenters and commentators include philosophers—both theistic and nontheistic—as well as Biblical scholars.

The conference had an impressive list of speakers, including Christopher Seitz, Nicholas Wolterstorff, James L. Crenshaw, among others. And if you were not able to attend the conference (as I), we can still enjoy the papers and interaction via the web!

Here is the program with links to the videos:

Thursday, September 10, 2009:

Friday, September 11, 2009:

Saturday, September 12, 2009:

I encourage you to check out the papers!

Posted in Biblical Teaching, Conferences, Old Testament, Theodicy, Theology | 3 Comments »