Among the first signs of spring we expect the first of the season’s crop of new blogs, as the northern hemisphere returns to work after their long lazy summer. Among the first to appear this spring The Jesus Blog, features Anthony Le Donne and Chris Keith. The handsome design includes an array of portraits of the great man (Jesus, I assume, not Ant hony or even Keith). Another from Francesca Stavrakopoulou of the University of Exeter first appeared late in the month, it began with a sort of brief manifesto for the innovative Liberal Arts program Francesca directs. Margaret Mowczko’s New Life (though it is not new) was new to me, she focuses on reading the Bible as a woman and has interesting thoughts on The Portrayal of Women in the Bible and Biblical Inspiration.
Spring is a time of new things, and surely one of the most exciting archaeological discoveries of this year was announced and discussed this month, a huge cistern from Iron Age Jerusalem Israel Hayom has an informative (and pretty restrained) report: An accidental aquatic discovery helps uncover ancient Jerusalem. If like me you don’t read the Israeli press regularly Todd Bolen offers regular reports of breaking news and a weekly roundup at the BiblePlaces Blog.
This finding seemed from the first likely to be controversial, with accusations of more political archaeology and poor methods leveled very quickly. Academic bloggers were much slower to notice the announcement.
Another announcement (of a Coptic fragment that may have the words “Jesus said, my wife“, was made with far more fanfare, but from the start seems much less significant (despite coming with the imprimatur of Harvard). The professor announcing the “discovery” concluded after as many as a few hours thought that the fragment is genuine, with no evidence claims it comes from an unknown gospel, and presumes that despite the lacking context that the fragment suggests the writer thought Jesus was married. (I assume normal service, findings of Noah’s Ark and St. Peter’s Sword and the like, will be resumed asap. On a more serious note, someone should ensure that University YouTube channels are not misused in this way!)1
For a truly academic put down see Dr. Paul Dilley on the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” Announcement and for sensible posts covering the announcement willing to take it more seriously The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife or one of the fuller considerations like Did Jesus have a wife? Though note Tom Verenna’s sensible cautions Two Days Later: Another Evaluation of the ‘Jesus Wife’ Papyrus. One of the more amusing responses came from Auckland Theology, not to the fragment itself, but to a comment attributed by the NZ Herald to BWIII in Jesus’ wife just a “spiritual” wife BWIII apparently said of Gnostics: “they carried around a female believer with them who cooks for them and cleans for them and does the usual domestic chores, but they have no sexual relationship whatsoever.” Robert Myles ripostes: “Aside from spiritualizing (undesirable) women out of the text, the choice of words here do seem a bit odd. At first, I mistakenly thought he was talking prescriptively about contemporary Evangelical Christianity!” Meanwhile still on the subject of larger than life attractions, Goliath is always a draw even when not performed by Swanky Israeli Pop Outfit, Kaveret. On a more serious note, Coptic scholars will be glad of Alin Suciu’s link to a 2008-2012 Bibliography on Coptic Literature. And, hopefully the last post needed on what should henceforth be known as “The Dodgy Papyrus“.2
April’s series on Jesus and sex may outlive the Dodgy Papyrus and will surely offer more light Who’s afraid of the married Jesus? and then Is Jesus is “too holy” for sex? And3 Higgaion interacts (in Interpreting Genesis 1 “literally”) with an earlier post on Naked Bible Interpreting Genesis 1: Who’s the Literalist Now? which itself responded to an even earlier one from James McGrath, “whose short essay was stimulated by Robin Parry’s [positively ancient] post.” Which between them should elevate the discussion on the literal meaning of Genesis a notch or three, if only “some people” read such informative and thoughtful posts ;)
JP van de Giessen began posting in September about a project to use virtual world technologies to allow people to explore biblical objects and places. They are beginning by building a virtual tabernacle which (when finished in Summer 2013) will allow visitors to explore the tent sanctuary described in the Torah, via a billboard visitors will get information from leading Dutch commentaries, and in a second phase also in other languages. The posts to date give an idea of the project’s scope.
Jim West announced not one but two email colloquia both featuring authors of interesting archaeological works.
Historical Jesus scholarship can be so arcane and convoluted that beginners in this area may need some simple orientation before attempting to scale the speculative heights, Reading Acts has a nice simple introduction to some of the issues in Are the Biblical Sources About Jesus Accurate? it also has a cool graphic which I am unashamedly stealing here. (NB this is not plagiarism as I am crediting my source.)
Another (new to me) is the eponymous Alan Hooker he posts seldom, but well, in Non-Existent Temple Prostitutes in 2 Kings 23:7 he takes on the Bible translators whose fertile imaginations turn the qĕdēšīm into “male prostitutes”. And incidentally demonstrates (by offering a full and complete smackdown of a comment he says Jim West made on Twitter) that thinking before you speak is not a bad motto even in the electronic world.
Ardel Caneday’s long-running saga on the use of the OT in the NT reaches Mark’s sandwich strategy a post that is of either more or less passionate interest depending on your interests ;)
The title, Atheist Bible Studies, of a post at The Evangelical Outpost caught my eye. It conjured up such engaging images. It turned out to be a nice post on the importance of reading in context. Somehow that led me to a post by Rebecca at the also delightfully titled Lateral Truth. In this post Light Relief Department: Four Rather Nice Things about Growing Up in Church as well as sadly NOT revealing the secret of the Great Fundamentalist Roast, does nicely illustrate the uselessness of those Bible trivia quizzes that were once so popular in churches. (Despite not being either a mother, daughter or fundamentalist I would love to discover that secret, there is indeed a quest worth more than either the Holy Grail or the Da Vinci Code! And perhaps more intellectually rewarding than any [of the many, what number are we up to now?] Quest for the Historical Jesus).
JP vd Giessen at Aantekeningen bij de Bijbel is offering a weekly (with a week to look up the answers) Bible Quiz the first question looks much more useful and interesting than the usual trivial trivia Bijbelquiz (135) this is a quiz that even we introverts could enter (if, in my case, I could read Dutch better ;) [UPDATE: the quizzes are now also available in English Bijbelquiz (139)]
The brilliantly named Sects and Violence in the Ancient World offered an equally brilliant title: Magic Bibles.
The blogfather (Mark Goodacre in “real” life) has been blogging for nine years and not quite on his anniversary was able to note a major success in his campaign against plagiarism in public places: Private Eye on the Telegraph’s plagiarized obituary of Marvin Meyer. As Mark himself says, source critical skills are relevant here. Perhaps an even more momentous anniversary for biblical scholarship (if I may risk sailing that close to heresy in a blog carnival) is the half century since Vatican II and its aggiornamento opened a window of fresh air to Catholic biblical scholarship. Ayrton pointed to a significant celebration O Vaticano II 50 anos depois, tema da IHU On-Line.
For more ancient (modern) history Matt Page at the Bible Films blog went all risque with the classic The Sign of the Cross (1932). Despite its now rather tame poster this was apparently the film that prompted censorship in the USA. Meanwhile, on a more serious note Jim Davila went all Gnostic. While Jason Hood looked back on F F Bruce on the Gospel.
And concerning sectarian differences early in the month, in foreign lands (where despite the distance from Godzone many biblically minded bloggers live move and have their being) it was Labo(u)r Day a deeply religious festival judging by the number of blog posts I saw, but since I operate on the one true calendar (which celebrates this festival at another time) I’ll only note that one compendium post from the kind people at BLT and mention the one commentary that I could understand on politics and religion in the US of A (by none other than Mitt Romany himself). I hope, probably unreasonably, thus to avoid the taint of American partisan politics.
One of the few non-political posts by Rod the Rogue Demon Hunter, at Political Jesus, concerned the phrase Ezekiel’s Use Of Numbers (not numerology, fear not, for numerology is worse than American politics) but rather how the phrase A Covenant of Peace might connect the prophet to the Torah.
The rioting in many Muslim-majority countries about an anti-Muslim film received many comments from biblical bloggers, but for my money none so deeply thought through as this on Freedom or Fanaticism? from the always stimulating and often provoking Vinoth Ramachandra.
Marcus Borg’s article at the Huffington Post (at the end of August) on reading the New Testament chronologically provoked a number of responses including Gaudete Theology, Bill Heroman, Philip J. Long and Henry Neufeld (if your response is missing please tell me and I’ll add it).
Having taught through the period when students seemed to relate everything to the Qumran texts to one when most think the Dead Sea Scrolls is a platform game the posts from the ASOR month on Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrollsmay well be informative and useful. Bob continues his investigations into the Masoretic accentuation and singing the psalms in Music and Theology beginning to ask really interesting questions about how consideration of the cantillation marks might impact our understanding of the psalms. Giving a summary his progress in this (using Suzanne Haik-Vantoura’s ideas).
Bibliablog marked the passing of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini by republishing an interesting interview and this dramatic image.
BibleX has continued to provide the service of noting free and useful resources including the invaluable Anything You Wanted to Know About Tefillin Straps and Were Afraid to Ask, Roger Pearse offered an English translation of the apocryphal Acts of Ps-Linus. On a lighter note James McGrath proposed some Literalism Humor, while Chuck explained his humour policy.
Among the resources made available by BiblicalStudies.org.uk is Caribbean Journal of Evangelical Theology the journal ceased trading in 2006 (a reminder of the difficulties of producing academic journals outside the Eur-American hub). Charles Halton drew attention to a New Demotic Dictionary.
Phil Harland (who like me began podcasting in 2007) continues to cover the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean with Cultural Minority Associations and Ethnic Stereotypes; while Mike Heiser at The Naked Bible (a relative newcomer to the biblical studies podcast community yet already at #25) gave us part of a series on genre questions, The Bible’s Literary Context: Greco-Roman Ghost Stories and the Gospels. [ad hoc] Christianity interviewed Joel Watts in Chat with an unsettled Christian. Meanwhile Michael Halcomb continues offering regular podcasts in this area and from his ongoing series of reviews Bibleworks 9 for Teachers: Series Review, Pt. 5; Bibleworks 9 for Scholars: Series Review, Pt. 6 are perhaps of particular interest to readers of this carnival. Mark Hoffman offered more general reflections on Bible Software Decisions: Accordance, BibleWorks, Logos, et al for teachers and institutions wanting to recommend or require Bible software for their students. While the nicely named Quadrilateral Theology posted a review of a chapter on Scripture Grudem: The Inerrancy of Scripture.
As a reward for reading this far (if you did ;) here’s a fine cartoon shared by Wipf & Stock’s newish blog Running Heads.
I wonder how many fundamentalists would be so keen on “Big Oil” if they thought they might accidentally drill down into Hades!
Perhaps God was not interested in correcting the ancient science of ancient Israel — he had bigger fish to fry.
His conclusion is interesting too…
Still thinking of writing, in Teach them to write Scot McKnight quotes good advice from Peg Tyre, but for those interested in how blogging used to be, and a return to the days of blogging’s spring when commenters were frequent and engaged with the ideas at some depth (c. early 21st century) try two posts stimulated by Carr’s The Formation of the Hebrew Bible: A New Reconstruction the first On Overinterpreting the Biblesuggests the variation in wording in Amos’ OaN may be due to memory loss, and the second dares to engage with Authorial Intention. Still on a medical theme (see the untidy clumsy segue?) David Lamb has been on a medical spree with posts like: Fear, Hope and a Colonoscopy (Psalm 119:43) and The Silence of the Lamb (Part 1) and (Part 2).
And one for the if you need to know this it could be very useful category The 500 Most Common Nouns in Galilean Aramaic, and for those in need of a battle to fight, here’s a suggestion of a war you might join ;) My [or rather his] Continuing War on Study Bibles.
- I wrote the above paragraph as the information arrived, and have not tried to update it much. For a more recent summary post see: The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife: Latest News. [↩]
- Which apparently fell off the back of a lorry and is being sold to an gullible Harvard Professor in a pub. [↩]
- Making a “neat” segue from sex to nakedness of a different sort. [↩]
- Or whatever the opposite of “light relief” is… [↩]
- I wanted to link to Mark Goodacre’s fine NT Pod here, but he has been too busy to record since March, so I’ll have to make do with a footnote :( [↩]
- …at least of the first half of the month when I wrote this. [↩]