Biblical Studies Carnival #193 (March 2022)
The month of March was a busy month in biblical studies and I’m keenly aware of the fact that I missed a ton of stuff. In fact, there’s some stuff I just didn’t include in this month’s carnival because I didn’t want to overwhelm readers! Below you’ll find links to articles, blog posts, podcasts, and YouTube episodes covering everything from gendered sexual violence in the Bible to the meaning of “baptism for the dead” in 1 Corinthians 15.
Before we get to the carnival itself, let me just say how much I enjoy doing it. My process is fairly simple: I set aside a few minutes every weekday to peruse social media, the various blogs I subscribe to, and YouTube to see who is posting what in the field of biblical studies. Once I find something, I immediately save it to my Safari “Reading List.” After I’ve read, listened to, or watched the piece, I write a brief entry in my working copy of the carnival. Slowly, over the course of the month, I build a tiny library of things that I believe readers will find thought-provoking. At the very least, I found them thought-provoking and interesting.
If you would like to host a carnival, please contact Phil Long either on Twitter (@Plong42) or via email (email@example.com). He’s in charge of keeping the carnival running and is always looking for bloggers who would like to host it. As I’ve said before, the carnival always results in extra traffic for my website, which means that readers may find some of the material I’ve produced and engage with it. So, it’s an excellent way to promote your own website!
Here are where you can find the next two carnivals:
As of right now, Dr. Long has no one lined up to do any future carnivals beyond the June 2022 edition. If you’re interested in doing it, please reach out to him and let him know.
Now, without further ado, here is Biblical Studies Carnival #193.
Hebrew Bible & LXX
- Andrew Tobolowsky offers readers of Ancient Jew Review a preview of his latest book The Myth of the Twelve Tribes of Israel: New Identities Across Time and Space (Cambridge University Press, 2022). Here is how he sums up his book: “In a nutshell, I argue that the various efforts to, as I put it, ‘become Israel’ throughout the world and throughout history are not so very different from the biblical effort to describe an Israelite past and identity as scholarship generally supposes.”
- Interested in the Greek Psalter? Drew Longacre noticed that the website for the Editio critica maior of the Psalter put up an online catalogue of manuscripts as well as images of some of those documents.
- Claude Mariottini started a series on King David earlier in the month. Using his pastor’s sermons as a springboard, Mariottini briefly outlines Paul’s early life up to the rejection of Saul as king over Israel and the anointing of David by Samuel. I think this sort of interplay with what is preached from the pulpit will be both helpful and enlightening. Mariottini is an Old Testament scholar and can bring much needed insight into the texts his pastor is going through in his sermon series.
- Does the Torah prohibit face masks? Marc Zvi Brettler takes up this question in a recent post over at thetorah.com. He writes, “As a biblical scholar who was in Israel for most of the pandemic, and is still here, every time I saw or heard a mask announcement, its vocabulary brought me back to the biblical text.”
- In a recent episode of the podcast Chapter, Verse, and Season, Joel Baden and Eric Reymond talk about Genesis 15 and the promise to Abraham that he would “possess” the land of Canaan. As they point out, possess could mean “inherit” but it could also have much darker connotations.
- Who killed Goliath? Was it David (1 Samuel 17)? Was it Elhanan (2 Samuel 21:19)? Or did Elhanan kill a brother of Goliath and not the giant himself (1 Chronicles 20:5)? Kaspar Ozolinš works through the relevant Hebrew texts and thinks that the passage in 2 Samuel 21 has been corrupted through scribal error, originally referring to the killing of Goliath’s brother.
- William Ross has announced at his blog the publication of a volume he co-edited entitled Postclassical Greek Prepositions and Conceptual Metaphor. Greek nerds should be excited about this one, especially as it pertains to Septuagint and NT studies.
- Over at The Shiloh Project, Karina Atudosie and Katherine Gwyther look at “gendered sexual violence” in the Bible, especially the Song of Solomon, on the one-year anniversary of the rape and murder of Sarah Everard in the United Kingdom. Regarding the biblical text they write, “The Song might lull us into thinking about all kinds of sensualities, but we should remain alert to its abusive elements, no matter how fleeting these are.” It is a powerful piece.
- Spencer McDaniel looks at the book of Proverbs and its promotion of corporal punishment for children (e.g., Proverbs 13:24). He responds to objections that the “rod” to which the author(s) of Proverbs refers is actually a shepherd’s staff and, thus, is something far more palatable to our modern senses than a rod that beats and strikes.
- Over at Slate, Abraham Riesman considers the book of Job, discussing (among other things) Edward Greenstein’s fantastic translation of the biblical text. Riesman reflects on Job and writes, “In the face of all that appears to be in front of the world today, amid all the calamities we are hurtling toward or already enduring, I’ve found no choice but to share Job’s outraged honesty. Job provides a framework for why it’s worth it to keep going.”
- Dan McClellan talks about the angel of Yahweh, Jesus, and the idea of “divine images” in a recent video on his YouTube channel. The 15-minute video is a partial summary of a piece he wrote for Biblical Interpretation back in 2017. (McClellan does a lot with Tik-Tok but alas I’m not cool enough for that.)
- Last year, Gilles Dorival published a book looking at the reception of the LXX in the city of Alexandria, Egypt and among early Christians. Over at his website, Ed Gallagher offers a brief overview of the book that piqued my interest in the volume. I’ve now added it to my Amazon wish list and will cross my fingers that the price drops.
- In addition to his series on King David (see above), Claude Mariottini posted a quasi-commentary on Isaiah 5:1-7 – “The Song of the Vineyard.” He writes that “the song of the vineyard was intended to force Israel to realize their failures before Yahweh.” This seems like a common theme in the Hebrew Bible, right?
- Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg examines the commandment to honor one’s parents. She looks at how the command was interpreted in later Jewish literature and concludes that it is not without “major limits.” For example, it doesn’t mean you don’t have rights or that you parents can lord over you. In other words, the commandment is not absolute.
- Do you want to see a 3-D printed version of an ancient horned altar? Aren Maeir has a picture of one that was printed using scans of the altar at the Ashdod Philistine Museum. It’s pretty cool.
- The New Revised Standard Version is getting an update! Mark Wingfield has the details, noting that many of the “most significant changes” are likely to appear in the Old Testament rather than the new.
- Who was Isaiah? What sense can we make of the biblical text that bears his name? Andrew Abernethy looks at those questions in a recent post for The Ancient Near East Today. Abernethy’s book Discovering Isaiah: Content, Interpretation, Reception was published by Eerdmans last year.
- Heather Thiessen began looking at the book of Ezra earlier in the month. (She does this as part of a Bible study class at her church.) The first post in this series looks at background and context before moving on to an examination of the passages themselves. Readers looking for a place to go that regularly offers excellent notes on biblical texts and topics should put Thiessen’s website at the top of their list.
- Joshua Bowen appeared on the UnHoly Trini-tea podcast to talk about “plagiarism” in the Hebrew Bible. Bowen does an excellent job of looking at historical context and the phenomenon of ancient intertextuality.
- A recent archaeological find has had social media in a frenzy: a curse inscription, tentatively dated to the Late Bronze Age, that appears to mention the name Yahweh. Christopher Rollston offers an overview of this find and cautions against making too much of this while there is still much to consider as all the evidence isn’t in.
- Carol Newsome appeared on the Two Testaments podcast to talk about Job 42, finishing up the Old Testament portion of the series. (See below for the final episode on Romans in the New Testament portion.) As always, Newsome is thought-provoking.
- Over at the YouTube channel The Study of Christianity you’ll find part 10 of a series that Twitter user @StudyofChrist began a while back covering the book of Daniel. He goes into a lot of historical background which is helpful for setting the stage of the book of Daniel itself.
and the Dead Sea Scrolls
- Seth Sanders discusses the age of 1 Enoch, particularly the section known as the “Book of the Watchers” (i.e., chs. 1-36), warning against overconfidence in particular datings (e.g., fifth century BCE over 3rd century BCE, etc.).
- Over at her blog Faces & Voices, Roberta Mazza points her audience to the continued interest of American evangelicals in unprovenanced antiquities, especially those related to the Dead Sea Scrolls. In particular, she links to two brochures by Brandon Witt wherein he offers for purchase various ancient documents. Mazza writes, “To me it is a mystery why American evangelicals seem entitled to sell their unprovenanced and forged Biblical trinkets without any consequences.” Indeed.
- Brent Nongbri talks about 7Q5, a Greek manuscript from Qumran that has a storied history, including the claim that it is a fragment from the Gospel of Mark.
- Elena Dugan rethinks Second Temple literature, outlining some of the ways scholars of times past have engaged with that literature, often in ways that denigrated their authors.
- Jason Staples was recently on the podcast Biblical World and discussed his recent book The Idea of Israel in Second Temple Judaism. He also mentioned that he is working on a book on the apostle Paul and his ideas surrounding Israel. Staples thinks (or so I understood him to think) that Paul believed that the prophets of old who predicted gentile inclusion in God’s people must have meant that the lost tribes of the northern kingdom intermingled with the nations and, thus, the phenomenon of gentile faith in Jesus was actually a sign that these intermingled tribes were returning and, therefore, prophecy was being fulfilled. That’s a simplistic version. Listen to the podcast to get the big picture.
New Testament and
Early Christian Literature
- Ekaterini Tsalampouni alerts readers to a number of recently published journal articles including a piece by Isaac Soon in Vigiliae Christianae that argues the ἄγγελος πονηρός (“evil angel”) in Barnabas 9:4 is none other than Satan! (Read that in the voice of Dana Carvey’s “Church Lady,” if you will.)
- Phil Long continues his examination of the Gospel of Matthew, beginning on March 2nd with Matthew 20:20-21. He notes that in her request to Jesus that her sons have seats of prominence in his kingdom, the mother of James and John (and, in fact, her sons) have missed something important. In the Matthean Gospel, the scene takes place as Jesus’s entourage nears Jerusalem. Did they expect the kingdom to come when they barged into the city? If this is the case, Long, writes, then “the two disciples have (once again) misunderstood the prediction of Jesus’s suffering, death and resurrection.”
- Over at Bart Ehrman’s blog, Evyatar Marienburg, a colleague of Ehrman’s at UNC, wrote a guest post early in the month on the former Police lead singer Sting and Pontius Pilate. Why this combination? You should read the post, as well as future contributions Marienburg makes to Ehrman’s website. Maybe drop a comment and let him know, “I’ll be watching you, er, this.”
- Nijay Gupta asks Scot McKnight some questions about his new commentary series “Everyday Bible Study.” This series focuses on the New Testament and looks to be geared for laypeople and/or busy church leaders like youth directors.
- Have you heard of the “Passion Translation”? Well, it was one of the many versions of the Bible available to search at biblegateway.com but no more! Peter Gurry discusses this in a brief post over at Evangelical Textual Criticism and includes some, well, terrible translation choices and justification that the Passion Translation employed. (And I picked “employed” for a reason that makes sense if you check out the link.)
- The final episode of the New Testament portion of the podcast The Two Testaments dropped on March 1st and features an interview of Dr. Rafael Rodriguez on Romans 15:14-16:27. Rodriguez is the author of If You Call Yourself a Jew: Reappraising Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Cascade Books, 2014), and his discussion of this final section of Paul’s letter to the Romans falls in line with the so-called “Radical New Perspective on Paul,” i.e., “Paul within Judaism.” This was a great way to capstone the podcast’s examination of Romans.
- Robin Gallagher Branch offers a pretty in-depth look at the person of Phoebe, mentioned by the apostle Paul in Romans 16, over at Biblical Archaeology Review. She takes each of the three “accolades” given to her by Paul in turn, writing that “[a]s a first-century woman, Phoebe breaks the mold.”
- In a recent episode of the podcast The Bible and Beyond, Deborah Niederer Saxon talks about the Acts of Paul and Thecla, centering on the character of Thecla in the narrative and how she, like Phoebe mentioned above, breaks the mold. (Of course, Phoebe was a real person.)
- Andrew Perriman considers the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22, querying the identity of the man without a wedding garment in v. 11. He brings in texts like those in the book of Revelation to bear on the issue.
- Shawn Wilhite puts people (i.e., me) to shame with a piece entitled “A Strategic Approach to Reading Background Texts of the New Testament.” I don’t know how he gets as much reading done as he does. Does he not have children underfoot?!? In any event, it has motivated me to rethink my scheduling of everything I like to get done in a day. Read his article at your own risk!
- Candida Moss wrote a piece for Daily Beast on the meaning of 1 Corinthians 15:29, a text that has plagued interpreters for a long time.
- James McGrath will be presenting a paper at SBL this year on John the Baptist in Q. McGrath is known for his work on the Mandaeans, a religious sect that reveres John the Baptist. Good luck, sir!
- Over at the YouTube channel Religion for Breakfast, Andrew Mark Henry offers an overview of the “Antichrist,” a figure made popular in dispensationalist writings. This particular episode really ramped up the nostalgia: images from Clarence Larkin’s Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, the Scofield Reference Bible, the Left Behind series, etc. Henry looks at how the term is used in the NT and its reception in later Christian imagination.
- YouTuber Ben W (@Hatsoff) takes on apologist Erik Manning and his claim that specific details in the Gospel of John demonstrate that it was written by an eyewitness. He examines a lot of secondary literature and shows that the eyewitness hypothesis is not the best explanation for these details.
- Bart Ehrman debated Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin on the unreliability of the Gospels. It was…something. The biggest takeaway was that to maintain the reliability of the Gospels you often must have an impressive imagination. Why does Matthew suggest Joseph’s home was in Bethlehem but Luke states it was in Nazareth? Easy! Joseph owned two homes. Contradiction reconciled.
- Blogger καταπέτασμα looks at episodes in the Acts of the Apostles and the implication that the god of Israel has extended his influence beyond Judea and into the Diaspora, thereby indicating he was no longer willing to turn a blind eye to idolatry. He writes that Jesus’s “substitutionary chthonic-celestial cycle…put a decidedly historical outcome into motion: the subjugation of ‘every ruler, authority, and power’ to God’s kingdom (1 Cor 15:20-28).”
- Matthew Sharp wrote a review of Brittany Wilson’s Embodied God: Seeing the Divine in Luke-Acts and the Early Church. I’ve not read Wilson’s work but after reading Sharp’s review that might have to change!
- Over the blog History for Atheists, Tim O’Neill continues his series rebutting Jesus Mythicism in a post entitled “Jesus, History and Miracles.” He is specifically dealing with the claims of philosopher Stephen Law in a paper that Law wrote in 2011 for the journal Faith and Philosophy.
- Is the translation “brothers and sisters” for the Greek plural adelphoi an illegitimate way of rendering the term? This is a question Marg Mowczko addressed in a recent post on the subject. It’s an excellent summary of why “brothers and sisters” works perfectly well in so many instances of adelphoi.
- Matthew Hartke takes a look at hell and the final judgment as it is variously depicted or understood in biblical and extra-biblical texts. He notes the ways in which the inerrancy crowd does its best to try to harmonize the biblical texts before examining the relevant textual data.
- Trip Fuller and Diana Butler Bass interviewed Erin Vearncombe, Hal Taussig, and Bernard Brandon Scott about their recently published After Jesus Before Christianity: A Historical Exploration of the First Two Centuries of Jesus Movements. Yet another book I need to put on the wishlist!
- The ending of Mark’s Gospel is an often debated subject. John MacDonald took up that subject in a series of three brief posts looking at the story of the empty tomb. Specifically, he queries why it would have been women at the tomb in the story rather than men.
This month we lost some heavyweights in the field. Here are three about which I was made aware during my readings, though there were undoubtedly more. (Please, feel free to add any that I’ve missed into the comments.)