Sansblogue

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For a course on the Pentateuch that I am preparing I am stuck in two places for good readings to suggest. If you can help me I’d be delighted. I need a chapter-length readings, and ideally at a bit above basic beginner level, yet not too technical.

  1. Biblical narrative technique. Ideally a brief practically focused outline of things like plot, characterisation etc. Yairah Amit’s New Interpreter’s Bible Dictionary entry is too short and so does not quite hit the spot
  2. Purpose of the Pentateuch: was it revolution and/or (re)construction of a community. The idea of this section was to look at how reading the Pentateuch (or one of its possible precursors) might look at various periods. A bit like the last very short chapter in Wenham’s Exploring the Old Testament: A Guide to the Pentateuch. 

A few years back I posted a video showing how to get to the relevant pages of a Bible commentary using Google Books. Since then the video hosting service I used has removed the video, and Google has changed their interface. So, here is a renewed one.

What this means is that any serious Bible student can get at the latest and best biblical studies without a library and from wherever they happen to be.

Commentaries are the lifeblood of serious everyday Bible Study, as they present the results of extensive reading packaged and simplified.

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?

Annibale Carracci “The Stoning of St Stephen” from Wikimedia

Peter Kirby has posted an audacious prophesy of the top biblioblogs by traffic in six month’s time (Top 50 Biblioblogs: Spring 2014 Report). I have two reasons for hoping that this is accurate, first both Sansblogue and 5 minute Bible made the top 20 (just) but even more because if it proves false I am sure some “take the Bible literally” types will be organising a stoning. I would hate for the gentle Peter to become the first martyr of Biblioblogaria!

New Criticism

3 comments

Jonathan Robinson has some as yet unbaked1 thoughts on the hidden presence of children in gospel narratives.

As someone who still remembers being a child (it always surprises me how many people seem to turn off those memories, or at least fail to use them to generate empathy) I like the way he’s thinking. It seems to me he opens up a whole new discipline of biblical criticism. We’ve had Feminist, Womanist, Black, African, Asian… Criticism, how about some serious Child Criticism?

Now, it may be that someone has already published on this, if they have please give me details!

  1. He calls them half-baked, but I think that’s unduly rude []

At URLoved Will posted Why The Church is Loosing Social Capital you should read it, but here’s the Reader’s Digest version, with some comments (I could not find a way to comment onsite).

He begins by explaining:

Social Capital is the ways in which we are able to form connections with each other. For the last two decades this capital has been moving away from traditional institutions and onto the internet.

The second paragraph reads:

Churches, bowling leagues, work; these were the places where social capital was found in the past. Now, many people work remotely, yet still have great social capital because they are constantly connected to the internet for their work. Churches should take note of this paradigm shift.

He concludes:

Next week I’ll talk about ways that churches can regain social capital.

If I have discerned and summarised the argument rightly, it seems to me to be based on an understanding of “church” that is unduly restricted to a physical location. We commonly talk of the building where we meet as “church”, but it’s not. Church is people not buildings.

If I connect with others (even others who do not attend my church) using e-media, what “social capital” has my church lost? If in addition to serving as a member of my church’s leadership team (elders?) and preaching from time to time, I offer teaching accessed by people across the globe, what “social capital has my church lost?

By my reckoning my (local) church has lost nothing. But wait, as the infomercials say, there’s more… the church has gained. Instead of my preaching reaching 80-100 people it reaches many more. My church has lost no social capital, the church has gained.

After thirty years as an onsite teacher, though for the last several years teaching many distance classes, I am now a distance teacher. I used to work from an office at the institution I was teaching in, with the luxury of research and writing days/time at home. This was true whether I was teaching distance classes or onsite ones. Now, however, I am teaching for the Australian College of Ministries (with possible PhD work for Asia Pacific Theological Seminary) but I live and work in the hills between Tauranga and Rotorua, up here there are very few other people around and no other biblical scholars.

When I was an onsite teacher one of the benefits I loved was the help colleagues offered. That wisdom and knowledge is a priceless resource. It is not available face to face over coffee for a distance teacher.

When I ran into a problem in the early stages of planning a course on the Pentateuch I turned to Facebook. I wrote:

I am preparing a course on the Pentateuch/Torah which could be some students first encounter with source criticism. Can anyone suggest good (fairly simple) chapters that introduce this approach in a way accessible to conservative beginning students?

The helpful comments included a wealth of suggestions of possible readings, most of which I had not seen. (Who can keep up with all the textbooks as well as trying to keep some sort of “tabs” on the latest research?)

Reading them suggested a reorientation of the course. The first outline of teaching blocks had looked like this:

 

Sessions

Topic

1

Torah and Covenant: Looks back at what was learned about the Pentateuch in “Introduction to the Old Testament” and also explores the genre covenant.

2

Narrative: looks closer at how Bible stories are told and how narratives work in the Pentateuch.

3

Law: considers genres of law and how they work, also looks at different law collections in the Pentateuch.

4

Genesis: What the first book contains and how it was meant to work.

5

Exodus: Two parts, the narrative of liberation and laws for the freed.

6

Leviticus: Holy living laid out.

7

Numbers:: Laws introduction and hermeneutics

8

Deuteronomy: (re)viewing the law.

9

Theology in the Torah

`10

The Theme of the Pentateuch

 The revised draft looks like this:

 

Sessions

Topic

1

The Pentateuch: revision from “Introduction to the Old Testament” and asking how many books make a Torah.

2

The Books: examines the contents and shapes of the five books.

3

Narrative: looks closer at how Bible stories are told and how narratives work in the Pentateuch, recognising that the whole Pentateuch is a narrative.

4

Israel’s Primary Narrative: The Torah serves as an introduction to the Bible, but especially to a narrative that runs from Genesis to 2 Kings.

5

Covenant: examines the content and shapes of the covenants in the Pentateuch and compares them with ANE treaties.

6

Law: considers genres of law and how they work, also looks at different law collections in the Pentateuch.

7

Origins: asks questions about how the Pentateuch came to be as we have it.

8

The purpose of the Torah: was it revolution and/or (re)construction of a community.

9

Theology of the Torah and the Theme of the Pentateuch: explores answers to the question what is the Torah/Pentateuch “about”.

10

Preaching the Pentateuch: invites consideration of what these ancient texts say to us today.

Which I think is more interesting and an improvement. What I’ll be really interested to see is if the blog post generates even a fraction of the helpful comments and ideas Facebook did.

Brian and Claude asked:: “Are Biblioblogs Dying?” and Are Biblioblogs Dying? Here is a test case. I have linked to both or them, thus attempting to put right one of the things they identify as a problem. Based on my recent experience, and in the light of my Tenth Blogiversary post, you may consider this a challenge :)

My thesis which was accepted by the University of Glasgow in 1981 has been, I just discovered, digitised and is available here: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/2080/

“Presence and Pixels: Some impacts of electronically mediated communication on Christian living,” Review and Expositor, 111,1, 2014, 56-63.

I’d be particularly keen to get feedback from readers here who may see this. Your ideas would be welcome grist to the mill of my thinking :)

I’m not sure I listed these here, and I do want to brag about the quantity, I’ll leave you to judge the quality ;)

2013

“The Troubling Theology of Jeremiah” In Global Perspectives on the Old Testament, edited by Mark Roncace and Joseph Weaver. . Pearson Education, 2013.

“A Masculine Reading of the Book of Esther” In Global Perspectives on the Old Testament, edited by Mark Roncace and Joseph Weaver. . Pearson Education, 2013.

“The Book of Amos and the Day of Yhwh.” Colloquium 45, no. 2 (2013): 154–169

Andrew T. Abernethy, Mark G. Brett, Tim Bulkeley, Tim Meadowcroft, ed. Isaiah and Imperial Context: The Book of Isaiah in the Times of Empire. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2013.

“Living in the Empire: What Purposes Do Assertions of Divine Sovereignty Serve in Isaiah?” In Isaiah and Imperial Context: The Book of Isaiah in the Times of Empire, edited by Andrew T. Abernethy, Mark G. Brett, Tim Bulkeley, Tim Meadowcroft. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2013.

Bier, Miriam J., and Tim Bulkeley, eds. Spiritual Complaint: Theology and Practice of Lament. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2013.

“Does Jeremiah Confess, Lament, or Complain? Three Attitudes Towards Wrong.” In Spiritual Complaint: Theology and Practice of Lament, edited by Miriam J. Bier and Tim Bulkeley. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2013.