The Roundup – 9.4.21
I’ve decided to resurrect the “roundup” posts that I used to put out a long time ago. This time, however, rather than being weekly, it’ll be whenever I feel like putting one out. (Cut me some slack. I ain’t getting paid for this!) “The Roundup” will just be a short list of interesting posts, books, videos, podcasts, and whatnot that I have recently enjoyed and think that maybe either one of my readers will as well.
- Which is the more coherent and consistent reading of the Pentateuch? The “divine savior myth” hermeneutic popular among many Christians or the “great nation myth” that treats it as a kind of “imperial constitution”? In a recent piece on his website, blogger Katapetasma juxtaposes these two readings to address this issue.
- Was Adolf Hitler a Christian? An atheist? A pagan? Tim O’Neill ponders these questions in a recent article on his History for Atheists website. His answer – “none of the above.” As he demonstrates, Hitler’s religious commitments are somewhat mysterious, shrouded in contradiction and vagueness. O’Neill also does a good job of wrestling with the motivated reasoning of certain atheists (e.g., Richard Dawkins and Richard Carrier) who want (need?) Hitler to be a Christian in order to score some kind of moral points.
- Over at Bible Odyssey, David Eastman addresses the subject of Christian martyr texts, specifically why they were written. Among the various motivations for writing such stories, Eastman contends, are 1) a desire to prop up the church’s authority, 2) an aim to vanquish heretics, and 3) a need to encourage faithfulness in the face of persecution by presenting examples. Eastman is careful to note that having such motivations doesn’t mean that what we find in these texts is wholly fictional. Rather, it means we should treat them as we do other historical sources, namely with an eye for their historical and literary contexts.
- There is a new open access journal called Advances in Ancient Biblical and Near Eastern Research (AABNER). By the looks of the inaugural volume, AABNER should prove to be a useful resource for those interested in biblical studies and the ancient Near East. Did I mention that it’s open access?!?! One of the pieces I particularly enjoyed is Sebastian Fink’s and Mark Smith’s “The Day Storm in Mesopotamian Literature: A Background to the Biblical Day of Yahweh?” (pp. 29-63). Fink and Smith trace the import of stormy-day language across different genres and cultures, noting that if often functions as a divine judgment of some kind. They then connect this to the imagery of “the day of Yahweh” found in various biblical texts.
- Just as no one wants to claim Hitler for their own camp (see above), so also everyone wants to claim Jesus for their own: he’s pro-life, he’s a socialist, he’s an egalitarian, he’s a biscuit. (If you don’t get that reference, you obviously aren’t a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and we can’t be friends). In a recent post at his website Tales of Times Forgotten, Spencer McDaniel attacks head on the claim that Jesus was something of a communist. McDaniel shows that Jesus is better understood as a millennial…er, I mean a millenarian. That is, he expected that social upheaval would take place when God intervened in the world and that this intervention would happen very soon.
- As a teenager, one of the first book on apologetics I purchased was Josh McDowell’s New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. The volume was a veritable encyclopedia with which I could respond to the few skeptics I came across at my school. (More often than not my peers were some form of Christian but since they didn’t use the King James Bible or think the universe was six-thousand years old, I was concerned.) But McDowell’s story, as it turns out, is problematic. Kipp Davis, an expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls, recently produced a documentary entitled Josh McDowell: Manuscript Hunting and Mythmaking for Jesus that talks about some of the holes in McDowell’s story, not to mention his involvement in the First Century Mark affair. This was an eye opening presentation.
- Did the author of the Gospel of John know of the Gospel of Mark? That is the subject of a recently published book entitled John’s Transformation of Mark (T&T Clark, 2001). Edited by Eve-Marie Becker, Helen K. Bond, and Catrin H. Williams, this volume features articles by a number of accomplished scholars including Harrold Attridge, Mark Goodacre, Chris Keith, and more. Though I’m only on ch. 5 of this work, I’ve already learned so much. My hope is to write a review of it sometime in 2022 when I’ve read it through at least twice.
- Way back in January I began working through the Apocrypha using both The HarperCollins Study Bible and 2020’s The Jewish Annotated Apocrypha. Like The Jewish Annotated New Testament and The Jewish Study Bible, this edition of the Apocrypha contains explanatory notes as well as a host of articles. Unlike most other editions of the Apocrypha or what you might find in volumes like The HarperCollins Study Bible or The New Oxford Annotated Bible, The Jewish Annotated Apocrypha begins with the book of Jubilees.
- Michael Kok has begun a new series on Papias analyzing the recent work done on him by Stephen Carlson. Papias is probably best known for his comments on the origins of the Gospels of Matthew and Mark or for his view on the death of Judas Iscariot. But he had a lot more to say, though the authenticity of many things attributed to him is debated.
- Claude Mariottini addresses a claim made by Rabbi Chananya Weissman that the mask mandates that many places have adopted on acount of COVID were prophesied by Isaiah. Long story short: they weren’t.
- Why don’t Christian apologists talk more about Jesus’s ascension? This is the question Matthew Hartke tackles in a recent video. As he observes, the ascension is a part of the gospel story itself: Jesus died, he arose, he ascended, and he will return. And yet it is a subject glossed over by many apologists. Hartke thinks he knows why this is the case and I’m inclined to agree. (As a side note, I hope he produces more content like this.)
- The most recent episode of New Testament Review features Ian Mills and Brandon Massey covering Der Rahmen der Geschichte Jesu by KL Schmidt. Schmidt was a German-born scholar who worked for the most part in the first half of the twentieth century. This particular work was one with which I was not familiar and I appreicate Mills and Massey giving an overview. If only I knew some German!
- On his YouTube channel, @MiraScriptura has started doing short, two-minute videos analyzing a text using his techniques of mirror reading. He’s done Psalm 59 and Psalm 69.
- Last (but not least), the latest Biblical Studies Carnival was put out by Brent Niedergall on the 1st. Lots of good stuff!
That’s it for now. The next Roundup will be in the form of the Biblical Studies Carnival which I will be posting to my blog on October 1st. In the meantime, enjoy!