9th January 2007
Welcome to the Biblical Studies Carnival Best of 2006 post. In what I hope will become an annual event, this special edition of the Biblical Studies Carnival will showcase some of the best posts in the area of academic biblical studies of the past year. For each month, one post will be highlighted as the best, though I will also note significant runners up.
The criteria for selection includes, but was not limited to, the following:
- To keep the review manageable, a post needed to have been noted in a previous Biblical Studies Carnival to be eligible.
- Posts must exemplify high academic standards and creativity.
- Posts that elicited significant discussion and among other bloggers were favoured.
- I have also tried to spread out the awards, both in terms of sub-disciplines, but also in terms of individuals.
- Also, while this is not ideal, only posts with working links were included (this eliminated some excellent posts that have went the way of the dodo bird. Note the bloggers: if you choose to discontinue blogging, why not keep your blog online for the sake of posterity?)
While I have chosen some posts as the best of a particular month, I should note that all of the posts mentioned are worthy of reading. In fact, I would encourage you to browse back into the Biblical Studies Carnival archives (see links below) since virtually all of the posts mentioned in any given Carnival are worthy of perusal.
Danger, Loren Rosson! In my mind, the best post for the first month of the year was Loren Rossonâ€™s â€œDangerous Ideaâ€? meme over at his blog, The Busybody. Inspired by a list of ideas contributed by leading scientists to The Edge magazine, Loren ushered a call to other bloggers to come up with their own Dangerous Ideas in Biblical Studies. Loren provided five â€œdangerous ideasâ€? in the field of biblical studies â€” ideas which may well be true (or have arguably valid reasons for being true) but many people would prefer they not be true â€” in his original post. He then brought together A Dozen Dangerous Ideas based on his own ranking of the â€œdangerous ideasâ€? submitted by other bloggers.
Phil Harlandâ€™s history of Satan series over at Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean is also worthy of mention. These devilishly delightful posts deal with the development of the character of Satan throughout literary history. Another post that generated a fair amount of discussion was Tyler Williams‘s Old Testament/First Testament/Hebrew Bible/Tanak: Whatâ€™s in a Name? at Codex.
While February is the month of love, one of the most popular (and discussed with some 77 comments) posts in this month didn’t concern cupid, but rather concerned contentious biblical passages. The best post for this month goes to Ben Witherington and his “Literal Renderings of Texts of Contention — 1Tim. 2:8-15.” Ben does an excellent job highlighting some of the issues surrounding the interpretation of 1 Tim 2:8-15 and concludes with this excellent advice which we would all do well to heed:
The only proper hedge against misuse of such controversial texts like this is careful detailed study of the text in its immediate context, in the context of the Pastorals (noting for example how elsewhere in these documents Paul talks about older women who are mature Christians doing some teaching), in the context of Paul’s letters in general, and in the context of Ephesus and the social world to which these words were written.
Other “lovely” posts from February include Brandon Wason‘s post on Love in the New Testament at Novum Testamentum, as well as Jim Davila‘s tribute to Professor Emeritus Robert Wilson (a.k.a. “R McL Wilson” a.k.a. “Robin”). Professor Wilson celebrated his 90th birthday in February 2006 and Jim covered the birthday celebrations over at PaleoJudaica. The party was a suave affair with such scholars as Professor Richard Bauckham, Professor Einar Thomassen, and Dr. Bill Telford speaking.
I found it difficult to pick a clear winner for the month of March, so I am declaring a tie between three posts on the complex relationship between early Christianity and the Torah: James Crossley‘s Christian Origins and the Law, Michael Bird‘s Jesus and Torah: 4 Theses, and Loren Rosson‘s Jesus and Torah.
A close second for the month is Alan Bandy‘s series of interviews over at CafÃ© Apocalypsis with scholars about faith-based and secular scholarship, including interviews with Michael Bird, Craig Blomberg, Darrell Bock, Peter Bolt, James Crossley, Philip Davies, Craig Evans, Mark Goodacre, Andreas Kostenberger, Scot McKnight, and Peter Williams. Also worthy of mention are the trio of posts on the canon of the Hebrew Bible entitled, Loose Canons: The Development of the Old Testament Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 by Michael Barber of Singing in the Reign (I really like the title of the series!)
For the month of April I am tempted to give the top honours to my April Fools Day‘s post on the imaginary King David Seal uncovered in the excavations of Jerusalem — especially since it was declared “the best entry of the month” by the Carnival host. That being said, I just can’t bring myself to declare it best post of the month (I still have occasional pangs of guilt for being so deceptive). The royal seal impression I used as the basis for the foolish post was an impression of an unprovenanced bulla belonging to Hezekiah king of Judah found in the Kaufman collection (see here for my post on the actual seal).
Since we’re on the topic of unprovenanced artifacts, in the month of April several different people blogged about Larry Stagerâ€™s “Statement on Unprovenanced Artifacts,” including PaleoJudaicaâ€™s Jim Davila, Duane Smith at Abnormal Interests, and Chris Weimer at Thoughts on Antiquity. The statement by the Harvard professor responds to the restrictions by the American Schools of Oriental Research and the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) on publishing and studying (in public presentations) unprovenanced artifacts. You can read the full statement here, as well as a small correction and AIA’s response.
Not to forget, the best post of the month is Phil Harland‘s post, “Judas Iscariot as the â€œgood guyâ€??: The Gospel of Judas.” This is a well-written and informative post about the Gospel of Judas (or should I say, the Al Minya Codex?).
One of the highlights of the month of May was Loren Rossenâ€™s unpapal conclave on the historical Jesus over at The Busybody. Loren takes up John Meierâ€™s suggestion in A Marginal Jew that an â€œunpapal conclaveâ€? should be locked away â€œuntil [it] had hammered out a consensus document on who Jesus was and what he intended in his own time and place.â€? The results may be found here, here, here and here. While I am reluctant to award a second “best of” to any one blogger, in the words of the Carnival host Ben Myers, this was “a brilliant example of the way contemporary scholarship can creatively utilise the possibilities of cyberspace.” It was clearly the best of May. Well done, Loren!
With summer approaching and many students looking forward to the end of the school year, Duane Smith took us all back to school with his posts on How to Recognize a Scribal School (see also Part 2, and in later months, Part 3 and Part 4). In these posts, which I declare the best for the month of June, Duane looks at the comparative evidence for scribal schools in the ancient Near East and then extrapolates how one would recognize a scribal school in Iron Age Jerusalem, if indeed there was one. There is nothing abnormal about these posts, except perhaps for their excellent depth and research.
Other noteworthy posts include James Snapp‘s post on large numbers in the Bible at Evangelical Textual Criticism (Responses by P.J. Williams then James Snapp followed by Williams and finally Kevin Edgecomb), and Jeremy Pierce‘s query, “What Happened to Eleazar’s Line?” Finally, prompted by a post by Mark Goodacre, Michael Bird‘s post on Christianities and Judaisms at Euangelion is also a must read about “complexity and accordance” in early Christianity.
Top honours for the month of July go to Kevin P. Edgecomb‘s translations of St. Jeromeâ€™s Prologues from the Latin Vulgate. In a series of posts at biblicalia, Kevin provided English translations of the Prologues to Genesis, Joshua, Kings, Paralipomenon/Chronicles, with others to follow in later months. Most of these, for one reason or another, have either never appeared in English before or havenâ€™t been translated recently or very well. The project is pretty much finished now and Kevin has helpfully posted a page including all his translations of the Vulgate Prologues, with notes giving biblical and other citations, alternate renderings, indications of difficult passages, and a few explanatory notes, along with a short introduction and bibliography. Thank you for your original translation work, Kevin.
Some runners up for the month of July include Tyler Williams‘s series on Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible at Codex, Rick Brannan‘s delightful Opposite Day post at ricoblog that engendered a number of responses, as well as Ben Myers‘s explosive One Book Meme that is probably still making its way around the blogosphere! (A Google search for the exact phrase “One Book Meme” produces thousands of results). Finally, Matthew Thomas Hopper at Historical Jesus and Paul has done us all a service with his series on ginomai in Paul: Parts One, Two, Three, and Four.
The dogs days of summer brought a number of interesting posts in biblical studies. These included Michael Pahl‘s initial post in a blog commentary on 1 Thessalonians, Stephen Carlson‘s conclusion to his nine-part evaluation of Scott Brown on Morton Smithâ€™s motives, ‘s posts on Canonical Lists at Chris Weimerâ€™s Thoughts on Antiquity, and Davide Salomani‘s note on Q and the Beelzebul Story
The mobâ€™s intention to inflict male-on-male rape on Lotâ€™s visitors has nothing to do with sexual desire or sexual gratification. There is no hint here of homosexuality in the modern sense of â€œsexual orientation.â€? The crime has nothing to do with preferring sex with males over sex with females…. They [the mob] chose sexual violence as the means of their cruelty, to be sure, but their motive was to assert social dominance over the newcomers.
Well done, Chris.
“In the beginning” of the month there were a number of interesting posts on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil by Stephen Cook at Biblische Ausbildung (see also his follow-up posts here and here) with a response by Chris Heard of Higgaion fame. Other great posts include Simon Holloway‘s post on the mysterious Writing on the Wall in the story of Daniel 5 over at ×“×‘×¨ ×?×—×¨ (dawar acher, literally â€œanother interpretationâ€?), Mark Goodacre‘s post Does Galatians post-date 1 Corinthians? which started a flurry of blogging activity on Pauline chronology, Kevin Wilson‘s post “A Farewell to the Yahwist?,” and even Troels Myrup Kristensen‘s fascinating post on the cult of the severed head.
While I found it difficult to pick a top post for this month, I’m giving top nods to Chris Heard‘s thorough sixteeen-part review of Simcha Jacobovici’s documentary The Exodus Decoded. The series started in Septermber and finally concluded in December. While not everyone will agree with all of Chris’s criticisms, on the whole he did an excellent job revealing the problems with Jacoboviciâ€™s theories. Jacobovici must have nightmares about such reviews! (If only future documentaries will be done any better!)
Stephen Cook over at Biblische Ausbildung produced a three-part series of posts the question of myth in the Hebrew Bible (see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) where he disagrees with recent proposals that the opening chapters of Genesis are indeed myth (make sure to note Robert Holmstedt’s comment to the third post). In addition, the post 10 Propositions on Violence in the Old Testament over at Mined Splatterings is worthy of a gander, as is Tyler Williams‘s post The Costly Loss of Lament for the Church.
Best in show for October, however, goes to Mark Goodacre for his posts arguing his view that the apostle Paul lost his battle for the churches in Galatia: see his Paul’s lack of travel plans, Paul’s loss of Galatia I, and the summary post Paul’s loss of Galatia II.
I should also mention James Crossley‘s interesting series at his blog Earliest Christian History on “Why Christianity Happened,” summarizing the chapters of his book by the same name (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4).
The best post for the month of November, in my estimation, is Stephen Cook‘s posts on the Imago Dei. His six-part series on the image of God at Biblische Ausbildung is well worth your time — you can view them all here.
Other posts worthy of mention include James Tabor‘s post on the discovery and examination of the latrines at Khirbet Qumran in his post Breaking News from Qumran (The Qumran latrines received quite a bit of attention among bloggers; see the posts by Claude Mariottini and Tyler Williams, to name a few), Chris Heard‘s post on When did Yahweh and El merge?, Simon Holloway on the linguistic dating of the Bible, Mark Goodacre on the question of whether or not the Galatians were already circumcised (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7), as well as Michael Pahl‘s continued work on 1 Thessalonians, including a useful bibliography.
In the field of biblical studies November is known for the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. Many bloggers posted on the conference — whether something about their approach to the meetings, their presentations, their reflections after the conference was over. See Jim West’s thorough coverage of posts in his Biblical Studies Carnival post. Worthy of mention, however, are Danny Zacharias‘s “Confessions of a SBL Virgin” (see also Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4) at Deinde and the “biblioblogger” podcast from SBL over at Targuman.
Finally we come to December. Since the most recent Biblical Studies Carnival covered this month, I will only highlight what I thought was the best post of the month: Kevin Wilson‘s â€œPriests and the Pentateuchâ€? over at Blue Cord. In this post, Kevin explores the question of the relationship between the pentateuchal sources and the history of the priesthood and suggests â€” rather provocatively â€” that the P source may in fact be one of the earliest sources to the Pentateuch, rather than the latest (Wellhausen says, Nein!).
Well, that about does it for this year in review. Feel free to leave a comment if you disagree with any of my selections or if you want to highlight another worthy post that I may have overlooked.
In addition, I encourage you to take a look back to previous Biblical Studies Carnivals:
- Biblical Studies Carnival XIII (Tyler F. Williams, Codex: Biblical Studies Blogspot - January 2007)
- Biblical Studies Carnival XII (Jim West, Dr Jim West – December 2006)
- Biblical Studies Carnival XI (Michael Pahl, The Stuff of Earth – November 2006)
- Biblical Studies Carnival X (Phil Harland, Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean – October 2006)
- Biblical Studies Carnival IX (Stephen Carlson, Hypotyposeis – September 2006)
- Biblical Studies Carnival VIII (Kevin Edgecomb, Biblicalia – August 2006)
- Biblical Studies Carnival VII (Chip Hardy, Daily Hebrew – July 2006)
- Biblical Studies Carnival VI (Benjamin Myers, Faith and Theology – June 2006)
- Biblical Studies Carnival V (Kevin Wilson, Blue Cord – May 2006)
- Biblical Studies Carnival IV (Loren Rosson III, The Busybody – April 2006)
- Biblical Studies Carnival III (Rick Brannan, Ricoblog – March 2006)
- Biblical Studies Carnival II (Tyler F. Williams, Codex Blogspot – February 2006)
- Biblical Studies Carnival I (Joel Ng, Ebla Logs – April 2005)
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.