Here is this month’s1 Biblical Studies Carnival (the 120th of its ilk, two of the previous carnivals were hosted at Sansblogue: Carnival LXXIX September 2012; Carnival XXII September 2007)2 I am calling this special anniversary edition the Never Mind the Quality Look at All the Footnotes Edition.3
Nostalgia (prompted by the number 120) for the “good old days”, when Biblical Studies blogs were few in number, yet discussion was lively, usually prompts me to bemoan the death of discussion in blogging, and the rise of the blog as a self-promotional tool, yet this month there were some encouraging signs of life. For example James McGrath published a list of links to discussion of Mark’s Christology which included posts by Daniel Kirk, Michael Bird, a substantial response by Dustin Martyr,4 his own denial of Mike’s proposal, and what was not really a link to the Ehrman-Bird “event” (which I fondly imagine to be polite talk for a knock down academic cage fight).5
In response to my request for nominations of posts by non-White/Anglophone/American/Males the best I received was Bob MacD’s suggestion of a post on Die Evangelischen Theologen “Amos, Micah, and Isaiah – A word much needed again today“.6
Scott McKnight posted links to material from non-male and (mainly) non-American scholars in his The Biblical Scholar from the Throw-out Box.
The world the flesh and the devil
The issue of the month was (perhaps) that RBL is moving behind a paywall. Since RBL has been a striking (often wonderful, occasionally frustrating – especially when stronger editing was needed, perhaps refusing some reviews) pioneering example of open scholarship, this move causes some raised eyebrows (listed in the order they seem to have appeared, or at least that I noticed them):
- SETH – Review of Biblical Literature (RBL)
- Targuman – RBL being put behind paywall
- Jim West (you are not surprised, are you?) provided a running commentary with links to many contributors, I’ll mention this post Carrie Schroeder Speaks Sense Concerning RBL’s ‘Paywall’ Decision as Schroeder’s remarks were not on a blog (and I do not want to be excluded from the club by mentioning Twittering here)
- Early Monasticism in the Digital Age (what an exciting name!) Dear SBL: A Paywall Will Bring Neither Prestige nor Progress 7
- Steve Walton (Acts and More – though I am not sure what more than acts of biblical scholarly disobedience Steve is planning) Let’s not hide Review of Biblical Literature from the public!
- AWOL updated a post from Friday, September 18, 2015 to note that RBL was now awol from the list of OA Journals Open Access Journal: Review of Biblical Literature (RBL)
- Observatório Bíblico noted RBL bloqueia o acesso gratuito às suas resenhas
- Kar Yong Lim SBL Ends Free Access to Review of Biblical Literature with Immediate Effect
Two things seem worth noting here about this excitement, one is the presence of non-Western and non-Anglophone voices raised in protest (perhaps those with well-paying posts in Western academia do not feel the need of such open scholarship as sharply as the rest of the world), and the other is that as far as I can see the whole thing was over within a few days. We (the people of Biblical Blogaria)8 seem not to care too much when another example of the privatisation of scholarship is conducted, in our name, by a “scholarly society” many of us belong to, all for reasons of “business model”.
The issue had a particular poignancy for me as I heard the news within days of hearing that The Book of the Twelve and the New Form Criticism, had appeared in Ancient Near East Monographs as an open access publication by SBL with my chapter “The Book of Amos as ‘Prophetic Fiction’: Describing the Genre of a Written Work that Reinvigorates Older Oral Speech Forms” better grab your PDF copy now while it remains free and at large!9
Still the dream of a free open review site is not dead, Reviews of Biblical and Early Christian Studies is still free, still open, and still publishing.
Meanwhile the quiet overlooking of women in the biblical studies scholarly scene was the subject of Liv Lied (Religion – Mansucripts – Media Culture) post Who is reviewed at the SBL Annual Meeting?
Although the Biblical Studies Carnival is10 a global phenomenon we cannot let the politics of the Imperial power pass without comment but perhaps Sarah Rollens (Marginalia Review Blog) piece on Donald Trump’s “love” of the Bible and his popularity among US evangelicals Donald Trump’s Bible may be sufficient mention.
Questions around homosexuality and biblical attitudes have been important again especially as US Anglicans were given a rap over the knuckles by the global primates meeting. One of the more interesting “takes” on these events came in a new to me blog by Esau D. McCauley Blaming the Africans: Cultural Imperialism and the Meeting of the Primates (HT ξἐνος)
Drew Longacre warns us against getting sucked into the whirlpool of genealogies and chronologies in Genealogies, Chronologies, and Calendars… Oh, My!
Loren Rosson alias TheBusybody showed that series posting is not dead with a trilogy of posts on Holy War covering the concept in the three best known monotheistic religions:
- Holy War in Islam: Historical Origins
- Holy War in Judaism: The Fall and Rise of a Controversial Idea
- Holy War in Christianity: The Birth and Death of a Paradox
He also posted “John Meier is the George Martin of biblical studies” commenting on another long-running series: A Marginal Jew, Volume 5: Probing the Authenticity of the Parables.
While David Gowler offered a four-part series on Tolstoy’s 1885 short story, “Where Love Is, God Is”, and its use of the parable of the sheep and the goats:
- Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) and the Parables
- Leo Tolstoy and the Parables (part 2)
- Leo Tolstoy and the Parables (part 3)
- Leo Tolstoy and the Parables (part 4)
Ben Witherington Ill11 has a series on Childs’ attempts to understand Isaiah as Christian Scripture:
- The Struggle to Understand Isaiah as Christian Scripture– Part Three
- The Struggle to Understand Isaiah as Christian Scripture– Part Four
- The Struggle to Understand Isaiah as Christian Scripture– Part Five
- The Struggle to Understand Isaiah as Christian Scripture– Part Six
- The Struggle to Understand Isaiah as Christian Scripture– Part Seven
- The Struggle to Understand Isaiah as Christian Scripture– Part Eight
- The Struggle to Understand Isaiah as Christian Scripture– Part Nine
- The Struggle to Understand Isaiah as Christian Scripture– Part Ten
Why! I think BWIII is trying to beat my record of (so far) 30 posts in my Humour in the Bible series at 5 minute Bible (Book 30 was Amos ; )
Richard Beck has a series on Barclay’s book Paul & the Gift (which is clearly, see below twice, biblical studies book of the month for January):
- Paul and the Gift: Part 1, The Personality of Grace
- Paul and the Gift: Part 2, The Six Components and Perfections of Grace
- Paul and the Gift: Part 3, Liberality as the Seventh Perfection of Grace
- Paul and the Gift: Part 4, Paul’s Incongruous Grace
Phillip J. Long at Reading Acts has been writing a lengthy series on Jewish Christian Literature starting on 18th by Introducing Jewish Christian Literature and arriving after four other posts at Hebrews and the Shame of Suffering by 27th.
Though not at all itself a serial post Jonathan Robinson (gleefully?) points to as a Scholarly Bunfight Brewing Over Peter which has perhaps the makings of some serial posting?
Real (virtual) resources
It has also been a fine month for those digitisers who tirelessly work to make intellectual property more widely available with Rob Bradshaw announcing (on Facebook)12 that Theology on the Web now hosts over 32,000 theological books and articles – free for educational use! The equally completely industrious and totally not defatigable Jim West had earlier noted the announcement that the John Richard Allison Library has now made available their entire rare Puritan collection to be read online for free. Many of the works were digitized from J. I. Packer’s private library.
On the subject of intellectual heritage, the antiquities trade (insofar as it deals in objects that were not uncovered in a reputable dig or provenanced in some other reputable way) seems to encourage an increasing destruction of human intellectual heritage. However, if one journalist’s investigations are right the Islamic terrorists are not (as yet) profiting significantly from their destructive activities.
Steven Anderson has a post like a Bible Dictionary entry on The Urim and the Thummim which could be handy to point to when students want more…
Archaeology is not (perhaps) as daft as people think
Just when it seems there are only three sorts of Archaeology, the money-makers (who have the TV serial and the book contract in place even if they have nothing but puff and nonsense to sell), the summer holiday archaeologists13 ones who descend on the Near East14 with hordes of students and other hopefuls in toe to do the digging and hopefully discover a text that mentions one of David’s descendants, and the ones who write those fascinating studies of surveys of ancient rubbish tips which give us our most likely glimpse into real life in ancient times. When along comes someone who tells us that studying cosmic rays inside an Egyptian pyramid will reveal interesting truths long hidden, only (this time) they are apparently gen-u-ine scientists, with real cosmic ray guns/sensors…
Marginalia presented an interview by Joseph Ryan Kelly of Roland Boer about Boer’s book The Sacred Economy of Ancient Israel (Westminster John Knox, 2015). First Impressions #68: Roland Boer on the Sacred Economy of Ancient Israel.
The interview with John M. G. Barclay on Paul and the Gift in the Eerdmans Author Interview Series on YouTube. Jackson Wu (see below) offers a reflection on this book from an honour-shame perspective.
Nijay Gupta pointed to Matt Bates and Matt Lynch’s podcast OnScript with Josh Jipp interviewed about his book, Christ is King: Paul’s Royal Ideology.
If you have ever wondered “What have the Book of Genesis and the movie Fight Club got to do with GDP?” The BBC16 Analysis program presented Tomas Sedlacek: The Economics of Good and Evil providing an answer.
At 5 minute Bible I have been trespassing into the NT, with another in a series of brief17 introductions to Bible books, this time Mark’s Gospel. Perhaps the series could be useful to students you know/teach. Comments and critique by NT scholars would be especially welcomed.
I came across William Arnal’s talk “Just how ‘Christian’ were the first Christians?” with reference to the Gospels of Thomas and Mark through Deane’s mention of it at Biblical Studies Online (a useful compendium of such material). Others he has noted this month include: Helen Bond on Simon of Cyrene and a longer note on Joel Kaminsky on whether the Book of Job sweeps away a mechanistic concept of divine retribution and Adela Yarbro Collins on Scripture and Women in Revelation.
James McGrath posted about an interesting looking podcast interview he has done, sadly the ‘cast is only a freebie to suck you in to a never ending whirl of Gnostic wisdom, or a one off payment of the price of a paperback codex for just more of James’ own wisdom.18
Calls for Papers
Those who have read this far deserve a reward, and nothing19 rewards a scholar more than the opportunity to inspire/mildly interest/bore colleagues with a “publication”, and conference papers inevitably20 become publications. Here are the calls for papers I am aware of from January 2016 (if you know of more please tell me and I will add a mention):21
Going all apocalyptic on us
James Tabor finds interesting thoughts in Albert Schweitzer and a Thoroughly Apocalyptic Jesus (and Paul), while Jim West wanted us to take “a field trip to Megiddo, the site of the last battle between the forces of heaven and the forces of evil“, as well as taking a trip himself to Hong Kong and posting the usual 99,000 snippets grave and gay.22 Hector Avalos (Debunking Christianity) in Patterns of poor research – A Critique of Patterns of Evidence:Exodus takes the work of US Televangelists more seriously than most sensible people can stand.
Steve Wiggins has to get a mention so that I can say he blogs at Sects and Violence in the Ancient World, among several possible candidates my eye fell What you pay for, a post about Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, surely demonstrating that the said Jesus was the inspiration for America’s favourite president (before the present incumbent).
Yes, it seems an imaginary ancient text really has replaced imaginary giants in Deane’s affections, breaking news L/M with Q: A Post-Farrer and Post-Two Documents Approach to Synoptic Composition. The imaginary lost document is however so much fun see Luke knew Matthew, But still Q (L/MwQ): A Post-Farrer and Post-Two Documents Approach to Synoptic Composition and the attached photos, that we can confidently expect that Q has finally disposed of the giants!24
Also concerned with Angels and demons, watchers and giants Jim Davila wonders how Lesli White (a scholarly editor for Beliefnet.com)25 can miss considering the Enochic traditions in her treatment of angels and demons.26
Preaching the Bible
The carnival is not about Bible preaching, but since almost everyone comes to Biblical Studies27 because of their faith and the belief that the Bible (whether Jewish or Christian) is in some sense authoritative Scripture it seems fair and right to point to examples of blogs concerned with preaching from these texts.
Paul Windsor (Art of Unpacking) is more concerned with teaching the art of preaching in the Majority World. Jackson Wu offers more directly biblical reflection geared at helping us see the deep roots of the Bible in an honour-shame view of the world, quite different from contemporary Western views, his comments The Meaning of God’s Grace on Barclay’s book is an example this month. For a non-Westerner’s view of Western religion and Bible reading Vinoth Ramachandra’s blog is always worth reading, though often less than comforting as he efficiently but usually kindly exposes the hypocrisy Western Christians often fail to recognise.
Other posts that caught my fancy28
Ryan Thomas at Religion and Literature of Ancient Palestine has a Review of Thomas Römer, The Invention of God (2015) both Römer‘s theses and Thomas’ critiques are really interesting. For me Römer’s conclusions are a reminder of how much historical reconstruction in our discipline depends on our evaluation of particular (aspects of) biblical texts as historical sources, and therefore why I tend towards agnosticism29 about history in this sense. (Ryan posts rarely, and seems to be using his blog almost like Academia.edu, an earlier post had 80 footnotes.30
Manuel Rojas was all caught up in Fee’s approach to the translation of ἁρπάζω in his “Las agendas teológicas: viendo pajas en ojos ajenos”
Bob MacDonald has been puzzling about the use of ‘elohim sometimes with and sometimes without the sign of definiteness (ha’elohim). Sometimes the difference seems significant (e.g. where ha’elohim suggests the form is the singular ‘elohim whom Israel worships), but on other occasions choice of form seems less directed. Is anyone able to provide some input on this simple aspect of ‘elohim?
Larry Hurtado posted a reprise of his discussion of Christians and codexes in Christians and the Codex: Encore!31 he makes some really good sharp points, some of which cause me to reevaluate some things I have written in the past. However, I am unconvinced by his conclusion. What do you think? Did early Christians prefer the codex in order to mark themselves as different?
PS: This post is not early! It is set to go live at midnight in the early hours of 1st Feb 2016, to all you people in more backward parts of the planet, just catch up will you!
PPS: Bizarrely, I have been listed during most of January as among the “top 4%” of researchers on Academia.edu, I am not sure why this is, but am relying on you all clicking this link to check whether that is true and so, either boosting my bogus statistic further, or better still finding something I have written that interests you, after all, interesting people are why we do this job ;)
And finally, back to the future
The next few carnivals will be:
- February 2016 (Due March 1) – Jacob Prahlow @prahlowjacob http://pursuingveritas.com/
- March 2016 (Due April 1) – N. T. Wrong, https://ntwrong.wordpress.
- April 2016 (May 1) – Jeff Carter, thatjeffcarterwashere.
blogspot.com,That JeffCarter Was Here
- May 2016 (June 1) – Brian Renshaw, http://www.brianrenshaw.com/ firstname.lastname@example.org
But Phil Long is looking for volunteers for the rest of the year (after May) and would delight in YOU stepping up, it’s quite a bit of work, but a good excuse to investigate biblical blogging more widely than usual, and grauanteed to give your blog a boost of visitors, and greater Google mojo, what greater reward could you ask?
- I say this month’s carnival because I am publishing it at either 0:00 on the 1st of February (though I believe 0:01 is the traditional timing) so that it is also published at 12:00 on the 31st January, since this later date is the 12th blogiversary of Sansblogue, a nice way to celebrate an auspicious occasion! Anyone who is suspicious may consult the first post here, the last post has yet to sound ;) [↩]
- 120 seemed too high a number to me, so I looked back at the list of carnivals past, some are now mere ghosts, existing only in the Wayback Machine, others like my two previous efforts still exist at the same URL, some no doubt have moved… but since the first carnival was held in 2005 and 2006 (the idea was slow to get off the ground till Tyler Williams put his shoulder to the wheels) it seems correct, but then Sansblogue’s twelfth birthday occurred this month! [↩]
- In loving memory of all those American and Germanic monographs we have known and loved, except for the bit where we have to find endnotes at the back of each separate chapter. At least here there are convenient hyperlinks :) [↩]
- Great name! [↩]
- Taking place at somewhere called NOBTS. [↩]
- Whilst I tend to agree with the author’s assessment of the contemporary relevance of these prophets, W. Travis McMaken looks suspiciously like yet another White American Male Protestant, so the post is clearly disqualified! [↩]
- Footnote added post scriptum: I confess I had not noticed that this is Caroline T. Schroeder’s blog, until she pointed it out, my excuse is that early monasticism has never been a major theme of my work. [↩]
- Who are after all despite the “digital revolution” still predominantly White Western non-Woman – is that why they call it the WWW? [↩]
- Since Academia.edu informs me that this month I am among the top 5% globally clearly such open scholarship does have some benefits! [↩]
- In theory, if not in fact. See my moans about the lack of non-White-American-Male nominations as evidence. [↩]
- Is his surname really “Ill”, and if so what made his ancestor sick? [↩]
- Am I allowed to mention Facebook here in the BS Blog Carnival? [↩]
- Though usually not at this time of year, only coming out in the American summer, not the real one over and after New Year. [↩]
- Who is it near? And for whom is it east? [↩]
- Joel Hoffman also offers explanations in So What, Exactly, is Tu Bishvat? [↩]
- That embattled bastion of British Imperialism and the dream of honest fair reporting. [↩]
- About 300 seconds. Duh! The name says it all, pace Juliet. [↩]
- Seriously, the $1/podcast approach is an interestimng experiment in crowd funding the production of such resources! [↩]
- Well nothing much in the realm of professional activity anyway! [↩]
- After months of hard work on Facebook and other timewasters and a few tough days of actual research and writing. [↩]
- This promise is exclusive to this category, any normal (or abnormal) posts outside this category have already been cast into outer darkness. Sorry I missed you, but make sure to announce your genius to the organiser of future carnivals. [↩]
- Or to remove the allusion to Karl Barth, depravity and biblical studies. [↩]
- In the process linking all sorts of strange, if not wonderful, things. [↩]
- PS all the rude remarks about Q above are entirely my own fault, and none of the authors cited, nor even Mark Goodarce who is otherwise, sadly, absent from this carnival, should blamed for my scepticism or Philistine response to NT scholars imaginative creations. [↩]
- I say she is a “scholarly editor” because her article links to such scholarly material as “This Article Is About To Get Banned From The Internet!”, “‘Fat Hormone’ Stops Women From Losing Weight”, and “Weird Trick To Make Women Obsess Over You”. Links removed to protect the gullible. In view of the obviously high quality of Beliefnet I can quite understand Jim’s horror at their editor’s ignorance of basic biblical studies. [↩]
- Clearly a topic where fools rush in where Others fear to tread! [↩]
- Wherever their path has since led them. [↩]
- Well, what else could I call it? [↩]
- Note the VERY small “a”. [↩]
- This post only had 31. His are of the proper referencing sort, not whimsical ones like these. Still I have 32 [ed: insert pic of thumb to nose here please.] [↩]
- Based on his earlier: The Codex and Early Christians: Clarification & Corrections. [↩]
- People do that to me all the time, the worst was a letter to my father addressed to Mr Balcony, this was in the age before spell-checkers. [↩]
- If I did it intends no reflection on the quality or readability of your work, just the fact that you are not really into self promotion and did not send me a nomination. [↩]