Friday, 1 March 2019

Biblical Studies Carnival 156 February 2019

Welcome to the 156th Biblical Studies Carnival
February 2019 - The Lego Edition


Posts this month heralded a new English translation of the Old Testament announced by the Jewish Telegraphic Society some months ago and in Carnival 153.
when the authorities became aware of the error, most copies of the Wicked Bible were destroyed. Only a few copies survived, and these have become valuable collectors’ items.
Alter’s Hebrew Bible is the only single-author translation by someone who has spent a lifetime studying literary artistry in both Hebrew and English. This is not to say that it is, or could be, beyond criticism.
The first might be described as strictly literary, which is to say, an attempt to find workable English equivalents for the cadences, the expressive syntax, the sound play, the thematic shaping of narrative through strategic word choice, and much else in the Hebrew. The other impetus is an effort to render faithfully the semantic force of the Hebrew words.
The apogee of classical form,
all of them with shield and helmet (Ezekiel 38:5)
Discussion of Alter's translations are not new in the blogosphere. Here is an early mention in the archives of the NY Times from 1996.
Goldingay reports that translating the First Testament consumed an hour of his time daily for five years. (7 days a week?) That would be 7*50*5 = 1750 hours. ... My estimate of what pace I could keep by the end of the project was 10 verses per hour. That would be 2,320 hours. From June 2015, I scheduled 4 hours a day 5 days a week 45 weeks of the year = 900 hours a year or about 3150 hours to November 2018.
  • James Davila posts about an article and responses on Alter's Bible.
To call it the best solo English Bible is, given the competition, not saying much. But one is also tempted to call it the best modern English Bible, period—a judgment with which Alter appears to agree.
Goldingay's First Testament is reviewed here.
The section titles in the FT are fantastic and funny, creative and clever. For example, “How David acquired his grandfather” for Ruth 4:11-22; “How to be the bad guy” for 2 Kings 21:1-12; “Let me tell you a story” for Proverbs 7:1-20. ...the FT forces me to think creatively about how to communicate biblical terms in ways people can more easily comprehend.
Sarah O'Connor via Marg Mowczko on Numbers 5:11ff.
In a world dominated by men, where a man’s honor was often valued above a woman’s life, the Bible stands out in its protection of women. Remember that the next time you read Numbers. If you ever do, I mean.
Marg Mowczko on the household codes.
The so-called household codes in Ephesians chapters 5-6 and Colossians chapters 3-4 are often used to support the idea of “gender roles.” These gender roles usually boil down to “the submission of all women to male-only authority.” But these codes were not primarily about gender roles or even gender. They were about power.
Rachel Barenblatt ponders the light of the world on parashah tetzaveh.
אמּת suitable for ages 4+
includes tool set and box
The Hasidic master known as the Sfat Emet reads this verse in a beautiful way. First he notes the verse from Proverbs, "The candle of God is the soul of a human being." When we are in dark places, we light a candle to help us see.
James McGrath ponders what is in the Bible (or not) considering translation or paraphrase.
“If you oppress poor people, you insult the God who made them; but kindness shown to the poor is an act of worship.”
Via James Davila, a usage history of Goy.
... a careful tracing of “the genealogy of the goy, from the Hebrew Bible [where “Israel is one goy among many”] to the rabbis and church fathers of the second and third centuries” of the Common Era ...
And again on Ethnic and Cultural Identities in the Rabbinic Goy Discourse.
...the authors offer a most insightful analysis of Paul’s motivations, arguing that the creation of a new model of equal membership of Jews and others within the ekklesia required a new binary language, which would obliterate any particular ethnic identities, and at the same time maintain the separate identity of the gentile qua gentile in the messianic age.
And moving on to Ki Tissa, a question raised about the legitimacy of sacrifice on Mt Carmel.
Clearly, in Elijah’s perception, Yahwistic altars such as the one that he repaired on Mount Carmel were not only legitimate, but their destruction represented an affront to YHWH, indeed a tangible expression of the people’s abandonment of their covenant with YHWH. The contrast between such a perception and the Deuteronomic law reflected in the Book of Kings itself that proscribes sacrificial worship outside of the Jerusalem temple could hardly be greater!
Rachel Adelman writes on atoning for the golden calf with the Kapporet.
Atop the kappōret, the ark’s cover, sat the golden cherubim, which framed the empty space (tokh) where God would speak with Moses. Drawing on the connection between the word kappōret and the root כ.פ.ר (“atone”), and noting how the golden calf episode interrupts the Tabernacle account, the rabbis suggest that the ark cover served as a means of atoning for the Israelites’ collective sin.
Henry Neufeld considers Hezekiah's horrible prayer.
... in 2 Kings 21 we see Manasseh, generally considered the worst king of Judah, took the throne at 12 years of age on the death of his father. His birth would have occurred in those 15 years added to Hezekiah’s life.
and follows up with a counter interpretation from Brevard Childs.
Ackroyd (“An Interpretation of the Babylonian Exile,” Studies, 157ff.) has mounted a persuasive case against interpreting it as a smug response that the judgment will not personally affect him. Rather, it is an acceptance of the divine will in which Isaiah’s form of the response (39:8) emphasizes the certainty of divine blessing at least in his lifetime.
Andrew Perriman rethinks the identity of the servant.
Philip proclaims the crucified and resurrected Jesus as Israel’s Lord and Christ, no doubt drawing out the theological significance of the extraordinary turn of events through the analogy with—but not identification with—Isaiah’s portrayal of Israel as a suffering servant.
And he has a follow-up here.
as things stand, we have to reckon, both historically and canonically, with its current location. It’s an integral part of the story of the exile and the return from exile.
Deane Galbraith argues against the class prejudice of scholars about Tobit.
The class characteristics of the Tobit family are frequently missed by commentators, despite many indications of their wealth and status.
New and Old together


Julia Blum relates issues about Sabbath observance in Matthew.
The gospels are the only first century source that we have, where healing is permitted and performed on Shabbat. Jesus advocates – perhaps even establishes – the same approach that later, slightly modified, will become normative in Rabbinic Judaism.
Also on the parables.
For instance, we find a parable similar to Jesus’ Parable of the Lost Coin in a Jewish commentary on the Song of Songs—Song of Songs Rabbah. Remarkably, here the parable itself is likened to the Lost Coin. “The matter is like a king who lost a coin or a precious pearl in his house. He will find it by the light of a penny-worth wick. Likewise, do not let the parable appear of little worth to you: through the parable, a man can stand on the words of Torah.
Via Brian Small on FB, Report of a symposium on Hays Echos. Response by Rafael Rodriquez, and reply from Richard Hays (more to come in March).
[T]his is a book that offers an account of the narrative representation of Israel, Jesus, and the church in the canonical Gospels, with particular attention to the ways in which the four Evangelists reread Israel’s Scripture—as well as the ways in which Israel’s Scripture prefigures and illuminates the central character in the Gospel stories.
Second response by Eric Barreto and reply from Hays.
...the significance of the New Testament is not to be found on a single literary or historical layer; instead, the Gospels and Paul alike are palimpsests of interpretive activity.
Who will go up for us?
... the chief point of coherence that lies at the center of my [Hays] argument: namely, the christological coherence of the Gospel narratives, all four of which in their distinctive ways proclaim the identity of Jesus as the definitive embodiment of Israel’s God. This was a deeply scandalous claim within the world of ancient Judaism, and it is a point on which the four Gospels converge and agree.
The third tangential response is also available, the fourth still to come in April.

A technical note on pre-existence from Larry Hurtado.
final things are first things ... it was a short (but remarkable) step from belief in Jesus’ eschatological significance to belief in his pre-existence, and likely required very little time to make that step.
He also examines the Christological idea that Jesus was considered angelic noting much detail on the last 120 years of thinking on this subject.
The simple fact is that earliest Jesus-followers had a rich body of angel-speculations available to them and were convinced of the reality of angels, but they never referred to Jesus as an angel (to judge from the NT texts).
Ian Paul asks about sexual boundaries and gospel freedom.
Instead of questioning the meaning of scriptural passages, the bishop appeals to ‘other sources of authority such as reason, scientific evidence and in serious dialogue with other disciplines’. This is not crude rationalistic liberalism, however, as an important step in his argument is that he sets out a biblical justification as to why scripture itself mandates us to go beyond it.
Ian also writes on the miraculous catch of fish (lectionary for February 5th).
We will see the metaphorical boat of the early church filled almost to sinking throughout Acts, as on several occasions thousands come to faith in Jesus at a time, and the structural nets of leadership need expanding and reconsidering, not least when the ‘gentile mission’ takes off under Paul’s ministry.
Bosco Peters has an opinion on these fishy tales too.
In last Sunday’s Gospel reading (Luke 5:1-11), fish were perfectly happy, swimming their happy fishy life, and then they are caught in half-cleaned nets, dragged to the shore and left, dead and dying, on abandoned boats in the late afternoon heat. And Jesus seems to say: “follow me – what we did to those fish, that’s what we are going to do to people”!
Airtonyo points to a chapter of Class Struggle in the New Testament available online.
It is not uncommon to find unchecked entrepreneurial assumptions influencing the interpretation of the New Testament world, not only in the popular press but even within the discourse of biblical studies. ... the retrojection of entrepreneurialism demonstrates just how totalizing neoliberal capitalism has become as an implicit hermeneutical frame—a way of seeing and structuring the entire world—in every field and period of human knowledge.
Phillip Long continues his posts on the New Testament, with daily sequential posts on The Acts of the Apostles, e.g. Gamaliel:
Gamaliel urges careful deliberation before acting. ... Why does Gamaliel give this advice to the Council? Is this, as Dunn says, simply “shrewd politics”? Or is there more to this story?
What were they praying for when Peter appeared?
... if they were praying for his release, then their response to Peter’s escape from prison is unusual.
and Herod Agrippa (I)
Agrippa is therefore demonstrating his piousness by pursuing the leaders of the Christian community.
Via FB, James McGrath points out a Zondervan online course with an introduction to Who wrote the Book of Acts.
Together with the Gospel of Luke and the Letter to the Hebrews, the book of Acts contains some of the most cultured Greek writing in the New Testament. On the other hand, roughness of Greek style turns up where Luke appears to be following Semitic sources or imitating the Septuagint.
Wayne Coppins ponders Angelika Reichert pondering the I in Romans 7.
Consequently, it appears sensible to modify how the question is posed, i.e. instead of the question of the meaning of the positive statements about the “I”, to place the question of their function in the flow of vv. 14-23 in the foreground.
James Tabor has a two part post on the 6 greatest ideas in the writings of Paul.
Helmet, repaired in the very place of its failure
in its classical form
/from part 1/... putting “justification by faith” at the center of Paul’s thought throws everything off balance. ... the New Testament gospels are essentially Pauline documents, with underlying elements of the earlier Jesus tradition. .../from part 2/  he, as a Suffering Servant, along with Christ, would also pour out his blood as an offering, and thus “fill up what is lacking in Christ’s suffering”
Ken Schenck has posted a 10 part series on Leadership beginning with Corinth.
At some point around AD49, a Christian couple arrived at the city of Corinth named Priscilla and Aquila. I put the wife's name first because the New Testament typically puts her name first when it is referring to their ministry together. This fact suggests that she generally took the lead in ministry between the two.
Christopher Scott explores soteriology.
For an entire semester we talked about elements of salvation, biblical views on what it means to be saved, historical interpretations of salvation, as well as people that have tried to make salvation something other than what the Bible describes it as.
Airtonyo quotes Moltmann on fundamentalism
O documento divino da revelação não pode estar sujeito à interpretação humana mas, ao contrário, a interpretação humana deve estar sujeita ao documento divino da revelação.
Claude Mariottini posts his fifth study on the explore God Chicago 2019 series. "Is Jesus really God?"
... the writers of the New Testament, as they tried to identify the one who died on the cross and the one who overcame the grave, concluded that the one whom they called “the Christ,” was fully human and fully God.
Larry Hurtado notes the usage of the phrase son of God in early Christian writings.
So, it’s clear that the NT authors vary in their use of the expression “son of God”, with no clear pattern readily apparent to me. The authors of GJohn and 1 John easily out-distance other NT texts in usage of the phrase, and in the confessional significance attached to it.
James McGrath posts on the doctrine of personal infallibility citing Lars Cade.
Many Christians think something like this: “The Bible is True. I believe the Bible. Therefore, everything I believe is true.” This also applies to the morality of actions they may take or motives they may have (see: defending the separation of families by quoting Romans 13). With such a mentality, it simply does not occur to people that they may be wrong.
Peter Gurry examines the textual problems with Hebrews 11:11.
Thus, in one single verse, we must judge between ‘longer’ and ‘shorter’ texts, and not make a fetish of either. There is no royal road or short cut in these matters.
Other notes

Via ETC via Paleojudaica among a clutch of debunkings, Is codex sinaiticus a fake? Short answer, No.
Obviously, the two sets of images were not taken to the level of precision that Daniels’ theory needs. If they were, we would see no difference in colour at all, because those two versions of yellow that you see in this image are the exact same colour in real life.
Also via James Davila, Dating Biblical Texts to the Persian Period.
By grappling with these questions, the essays in this volume evince a greater degree of precision vis-a-vis dating and historical context.
James McGrath interviews Pete Enns about his book How the Bible actually works.

Larry Hurtado points out two new books from Jörg Frey,
One of the most productive NT scholars today is Professor Jörg Frey (University of Zurich), and so it is very good news to have a couple of his major works now available in English.
and on the marginalia review of books, has a review of Paula Fredriksen’s When Christians were Jews.
I have attempted to reimagine the stages by which the earliest Jesus-community would have first come together again, after the crucifixion. To understand how and why, despite the difficulties, these first followers of Jesus would have resettled in Jerusalem. To reconstruct the steps by which they became in some sense the center of a movement that was already fracturing bitterly within two decades of its founder’s death. To see how the seriatim waves of expectation, disappointment, and fresh interpretation would have sustained this astonishing assembly in the long decades framed by Pilate’s troops in 30 and Titus’s in 70.
Phillip Long reviews Douglas Mangum and Josh Westbury, eds. Linguistics & Biblical Exegesis
The second volume of the Lexham Methods series surveys the often difficult field of linguistics. Since the essays in this volume are all aimed at students who are doing exegesis of the whole Bible, examples are given for both the Old and New Testaments.
Amy Erikson reviews the five scrolls. Table of Contents and list of authors is here.
... there are contributions from six scholars working in South Africa, several from the United States, two from scholars based in China, and two based in Australia. ... The volume also contains essays by scholars from Israel, Argentina, and the Netherlands. The result is an eclectic collection of fresh readings that explores not only how a reader’s context might influence one’s reading of the text but also how the Bible might enrich a reader’s understanding of his or her context.
James Pate reviews George MacDonald in the Age of Miracles.
"Imagine Sheldon Cooper in the pulpit, only with the desire to be a poet."
James Davila points to a review by Yitz Landes of The Origins of Midrash.
for much of antiquity, including during the early rabbinic period, the Semitic root referred to teaching—textual or otherwise. Mandel thus overturns the consensus understanding that early uses of the root refer to textual interpretation, and that only later was the root expanded to encompass teaching more generally.
James Hanson reviews According to the Scriptures.
If all you know is the New Testament, you do not know the New Testament” - so the late New Testament scholar Martin Hengel is reputed to have said... Allen has done a great service by compiling a truly comprehensive bibliography on the question of the Jewish Scriptures in the New Testament, both in general and specifically in relation to Jesus’s death.
April DeConick speaks about silenced voices in religion.

Kings of Israel - Todd Bolen links to a board game.
If the players are able to build enough altars before the game ends, they win. If the game ends by either the team running out of sin cubes or idols, or by Assyria destroying Israel, the prophets lose.
A conversation from Michael Langlois: Campus Protestant m’a demandé comment l’archéologie éclaire la Bible.

A note on the Hebrew language from Autumn Light.
So next time you hear Murphy’s Law— If anything can go wrong—it will. remember Goldberg’s Corollary: If anything can go wrong—God forbid—it won’t.
Also from Jonathan Orr-Stav, an answer to a question about ס and פ as parashot markers.
The division into parashot is usually to indicate a contextual change, so there isn’t a consistency in the size or number of verses involved. In the case of the Ten Commandments, for example, each commandment is a parashah in its own right—presumably to underline its importance.
Jim Davila and Drew Longacre both note a new book: The Masora on Scripture and its Methods.
The ancient manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible contain thousands of Masora comments of two types: Masora Magna and Masora Prava. How does this complex defense mechanism, which contains counting of words and combinations from the Bible, work?
Again via Jim Davila, a new trilingual inscription found near the tomb of Darius the Great.
the most famous trilingual inscription from Iran is the Behistun inscription, which (rather like the Rosetta Stone for Egyptian) was key to the decipherment of Akkadian.
Via Ekaterini G. Tsalampouni an article on the pomegranate from ASOR.
The pomegranate is attested in ancient Elam during the 4th millennium BCE, and then spread to the rest of the Near East, with the original shrub (Punica protopunica L.) reaching Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Syria, and Palestine by the end of the 3rd millennium. Sumerians appear to have been involved in domestication of the pomegranate (Punica granatum L.), and the fruit quickly became an important symbol.
Call for papers for Medicine in the Bible, Warsaw 2019.
Contributors should aim at offering a comparative perspective by keeping an eye on the embeddedness of medical discourses in their surrounding cultures( ancient Babylonian, Near Eastern, Graeco-Roman, Persian, Byzantine/Syriac or early Islamicate traditions). Such a perspective will allow for assessing Jewish and Talmudic medical knowledge within a broader history of ancient knowledge cultures and helps to determine their distinct epistemologies or particular Jewishness.
Conference announcement on the New Song
the meaning of the Bible's poetry as Jewish and Christian scripture in the 21st century - the difficulties (ambiguity, genre blending/bending, figurative language), the dynamics (poetry as experience relayed and as experience relived, theological explorations of form and content, prosody and parallelism), and the effects and demands on hearers and reading communities.
Liturgy redefines liturgy. Take your pick of three definitions,
[Liturgy] was in ancient Greece a public service established by the city-state whereby its richest members (whether citizens or resident aliens), more or less voluntarily, financed the State with their personal wealth.
Kurk Gayle announces a posthumous book by Suzanne McCarthy Valiant or Virtuous? Gender Bias in Bible Translation.

Ian Paul remembers Michael Green.
Vimoth Ramachandra reflects on grief.
Jim Gordon speaks of loss.

Future carnivals

Please contact Phillip Long @plong42 to volunteer for a carnival. Note that June is currently open.
The dreaded bin of everlasting stor-age.

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