Archive for the ‘Genesis’ Category

Review of the Logos edition of Douglas Mangum et al., Genesis 1–11 (Lexham Bible Guide, Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012).

LogosWarning

LexhamCoverThe series of which this “volume” is a part has an ambitious but mixed goal:

The series is designed to be a research tool. Each guide presents a wide range of interpretive issues raised by Bible scholars. These resources meet the needs of those studying the Bible in academic settings, but the broad scope of coverage also makes them useful for preaching preparation. 1

In fact, limitations of referencing (almost?) only works available in the Logos system limits it’s usefulness for scholarship, and so the work is in some ways better suited to the practical needs of a pastor or other seriously minded Bible reader.

Integration of the text with the Logos library system is of course a great strength of such this type of electronic publication, but there are times when the implementation of this integration serves Logos’ commercial ends better than it serves the user. For example when I read: “Mathews uses the analogy of a stained glass window to describe the literary complexity of Gen 1–11…” The name “Matthews” is, as one would expect in an electronic text, a hyperlink. If the user already owns the cited work by Mathews in Logos format, then I assume2 they are taken to the reference. If one does not own the work in Logos format one is offered the chance to buy it. However, if one does not already own the Logos edition, the link to the Logos sales site does inform the user what work is being referred to, enabling a search on a local library catalogue, Worldcat or Google Books.

There is however a welcome but odd inconsistency, when the references are to further reading suggestions offered as bullet points rather than inline citations, they do give at least the title of the work, without need to access the Logos.com website.3

Hypertext links also provide convenient popup explanations of technical terms, enhancing further the educative possibilities of the text, and making it accessible to a wider range of “lay” readers. They also enable jump navigation within the text, and this is enhanced by a preview popup showing the beginning of the text of the section to which the link leads.

The work offers a neat clear and concise overview of (almost always, but not exclusively, Evangelical) scholarship on the issues and passages treated. This is a superb resource to begin studying a passage or topic, Mangum et al. Offer clear concise summaries of important issues that will be really useful to any pastor or amateur biblical scholar. They are also potentially really useful to students and their teachers, though this usefulness would be enhanced by referencing that included some mention of work not published in Logos format..

Within the limits of works published in Logos format (I have yet to find any reference to other work) these summaries and the suggested readings are very useful. The restriction of the references to the Logosworld generates the restriction noted above to predominantly only Evangelical scholarship, and very predominantly American scholars4 This parochialism is sad!

A byproduct of this limitation is scholarship that is also very predominantly male and white. Since women and non-Caucasian scholars are more likely to have significant work in journals and less likely to have breached the portals of book length works with publishers who make their list available in Logos format.

On the other hand, the fact that such a useful compendium can be offered despite this restriction of horizon to Logosworld is a tribute to the extent (if not always variety) of that world today. Logos is not yet a universal biblical studies library, but it is far closer than one might have expected only a few years ago.

A student today will need to seriously consider whether to accept the limitations of horizon imposed by the choice of Logos as their exclusive supplier, wholeheartedly making Logos their library system, or on the other hand if financial constraints or a desire to be open to a wider world of scholarship will severely limit the usefulness of a work such as this. I wonder how long it is before Logos offers a subscription service modeled on Amazon’s “Prime”?5

Without such a service, or without the financial resources to pay to own an extensive private Logos library, users are given a glimpse of the world of American Evangelical scholarship, but taking a closer look is made difficult by the exclusively in house referencing.

In short this work highlights the huge usefulness and potential of the Logos system (for those rich enough, and selfish enough, to be willing to spend enough on a library devoted to their private use). It also highlights the exclusive nature of this system by making the use of external resources (in an institutional or public library, or on Google books, for example) more difficult even than it would be in an obsolescent print codex.

  1. Douglas Mangum et al., Genesis 1–11 (, Lexham Bible GuideBellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012). []
  2. I have yet to find a reference to a work that I spotted as being included in my Gold collection, or among the other works and texts I have bought. So I could not check this assumption. []
  3. A one step rather than a two step process. []
  4. The JPS series, and the out of copyright ICC commentaries, along with some classic works like Gunkel and Westermann provide welcome exceptions. []
  5. If such a service were cheap enough it could provide mean someone could use the Lexham guide to the full without being restricted to only purchasing biblical studies works in Logos format. []

Gay Christians and Scripture

In the circles I move in it often seems to be assumed that Gay Christians (at least the ones who do not agree to “settle” for celebacy, nor “recognise” that God “must” be calling them to celebacy – and who consequently support gay marriage) “must” be soft on Scripture.

I have recently been following Allan Hooker’s blog while I never agree with everything anyone says (not even myself) I find much that he writes makes sense, and he seems to care deeply about reading Scripture in faith and not merely “against the grain”. In this he reminds me of some of the Feminist biblical scholars who influenced my Bible reading most a few decades ago.

Whatever your attitude to the questions around Scripture and sexuality I recommend his blog. (His most recent post, as I write this, is on Genesis 11 )

  1. Public Health Warning: Those who prefer to let their knees jerk instead of their minds better avoid it, because it includes phrases like “Queerly Divine”… []

Aronofsky’s “Noah”

Later than most of the (vaguely) interested public1  I finally watched “Noah” on one of the flights the other day.

I won’t comment on the story, or its relationship with Scripture, other have done that well. Nor will I offer erudite comments on the legend of the watchers – I’m not competent. I want to focus on ideology. Again even within this category, I won’t comment on the radical “green” claim that humanity is a blight upon creation, others have. I’ll focus on the blatant misandry. Consistently in this film the men are against life, whether “goodies” or “baddies” those who kill or seek to kill are male. Indeed when humanity’s anti-file tendencies are in view we are named “Man”. By contrast the women consistently seek to preserve life.

I despise such blatant and crude stereotyping.

  1. Only vaguely because I have little interest in “biblical” films, which almost always spoil fine literature making it clumsy film, and on the whole I feel SciFi (the genre descriptor which seems best to fit this film) also works better as text than film. []

“Notes” quick thought starters from NZ Christian Network

NZ Christian Network have begun to produce a series of thought starters. Aimed to fit on one double-sided sheet of A4 (in PDF format for printing and folding). The goal is to be simple, clear, and to start people thinking. They call them “Notes“. So far they have:

S14-01     Secularism 101 – What it is, why does it matter and how to address it

M14-01     Marriage – Why it matters, where it’s heading and what we need to do

M14-02     Marriage – Towards a strategy for Building a Healthy Marriage Culture

S14-02     Secularism is religious – A gospel by any other name

M14-03     There’s more to marriage! – Is marriage for you?

The format is great for people who still live in the print age (like many church people, especially those too old to have grown up in the Internet and mobile ages). 

Since I wrote the last one, I am delighted that they are also making them available in a format that’s more user-friendly for the e-age. As blog posts (with a Feed if you want to subscribe, mine is here, I hope the others will be appearing soon :)

Looks good to me on laptop, tablet and phone, how about you?

Christian thinking on gay issues

The series is not finished yet, so I can recommend it without grinding any axes, but for any Christian wanting to work out more clearly where they stand on any or all of the moral and theological issues surrounding LGBT people and activities this series of posts1 by Preston Sprinkle offers an excellent resource. The writing is sympathetic, gentle and leavened with a touch of humour. His conclusions may not be mine2 but I am enjoying3 the journey and appreciate the tone of the series so far.

  1. Thinking towards a book :) []
  2. Who knows? Neither of us seem to have completely made up our minds yet! []
  3. If that, as they say, is the right word. []

Performing (texts from) Genesis: Massacre at Shechem

I have again been most impressed by many of the performances of texts from Genesis prepared by my students. I will post some here, they are selected mainly by who (among those I ask) gives permission.

Steve Allen, based over in Aussie, produced this video of Gen 34, which leaves this enigmatic and troubling story enigmatic and troubling while still (I think) helping viewers to really “get” the passage better.

 

Gen 1-11 and a new (to me) blog

Jim West mentioned a new (to me) Olt Testament blog Matthieu Richelle. Among Mattieu’s posts is an English abstract The Literary Structure of Genesis 1-11 of an interesting paper (in French) on the structure of Gen 1-11:

Mattieu Richelle, “La structure littéraire de l’Histoire Primitive (Gn 1.1-11.26) dans son état final”, BN 151 (2011) 3-22.

Since I am just reaching Gen 3 in the course I am teaching this is either brilliant of terrible timing. Brilliant since I can point my students to Richelle’s ideas, terrible because I will hardly have time to read the article before they have assimilated the abstract ;)

Bible Dictionary entry: Genesis

I am helping with the Tyndale House Scripture Tools for Every Person project. My particular interest is the Bible encyclopedia component. To produce it we are usually editing and updating old copyright free dictionary articles. But some words just need rewriting completely :(

“Genesis” is one such. Most of the old dictionaries seemed to spend almost all their words arguing about the documentary hypothesis, and hardly talk about the book at all. So I am having to try to write a brief article on the topic more or less from scratch.

  • Does the draft below contain the information you think it should?
  • Is it accurate?
  • What is missing?
  • Could it be organised or expressed better?

(The target audience is wide and largely uneducated in terms of biblical or theological studies, but likely to be Christians of one sort or another seeking information to help them understand the Bible better.)

Genesis

(jen’-e-sis) The first book of the Pentateuch (“Five Books”) ascribed to Moses. It contains the story of humanity from creation to the emergence of Israel as a people in Canaan and Egypt. The name “Genesis” is the Greek for “generations” in the phrase which divides the book into sections: “These are the generations of..” (Gen.2.4; 5.1; 6.9; 10.1; 11.27; 25.12, 19; 36.1; 37.2). Genealogy lists are found mainly in Gen.5, 10-11 & 36.

* Gen.1-5  Creation of the world and humans; the first sin.
* Gen.6-11 Noah and the Flood. The creation of nations and Babel.
* Gen.12-19  Abraham’s call and covenant. Melchizadek and Sodom.
* Gen.20-24  Sarah & Hagar; Isaac & Ishmael; Rebekah.
* Gen.25-36  Esau and Jacob; Rachel and Leah; Dinah; Edom
* Gen.37-50  Joseph sent to Egypt and all of Israel join him.

The story is presented in a framework of, and with a focus on, family lines. Family words (son, father, descendants…) are particularly frequent and the inheritance of God’s promise is a thread that ties sections and stories together. Another theme, human sinfulness redeemed by divine forbearance and providence, also serves to unite the book.

Genesis is closely linked into the story of Israel that begins in Ex.1 and continues to the end of Kings. The book also serves as background or foundation for much that follows in the whole of Scripture. The stories of the flood (Gen.6-9) and the patriarchs (Gen.12-50) are echoed in song (e.g. in Psalms) and the preaching of the prophets, The accounts of Adam, Eve, Cain, Noah, Abraham, Melkisedek, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekeh, Jacob, Rachel, & Joseph are all used by the authors of the New Testament. Creation and the human sinfulness that follows (Gen.1-2 and 3-4) provide a necessary foundation to understand much of the theology expressed in both Old and New Testaments.

There is some evidence that this is an edited work, for example Gen.1 & 5 share key words and phrases and an interest in orderliness and factual information while Gen.2-4 are more vivid and lively and impressionistic. Such impressions lead some scholars to distinguish at least two strands in the book. Other scholars emphasise the unity of purpose and teaching which implies a single author and fits with the traditional view.