Biblical Studies Carnival #204 (February 2023)

Can you believe it’s already March?!? (Some of you can’t believe it’s 2023. The way you date your checks proves this.) It doesn’t help that February only has 28 days. Despite that, the world of online biblical studies for the month was very full. Below you’ll find just a fraction of what various professional scholars and amateurs put out into the Interwebs in the field of biblical studies. As it tends to be the case when I do the Carnival, it’s heavy in New Testament related stuff. I make no apologies for this.

Before you dive in, let me give a plug for hosting the Carnival. It’s a great way to promote your own work (The clicks! THE CLICKS!!!) and it also forces you to search around the web and interact with material that you might not otherwise. One of my favorite ways to use the Carnival is to promote bloggers/YouTubers who you might not otherwise know about. There are a lot of great content producers who don’t get any attention because they’re just not well-known. That’s a shame, and I try to do my part to correct this.

If you’re interested in hosting the Carnival, you’re in luck: there is no one scheduled to host it for the rest of this year! You get your choice of month to do it! So, reach out to Phil Long (the Carnival’s ringmaster) on Twitter (@Plong42) or email him ( and let him know. He’s always looking for hosts and you – yes, you – are an ideal candidate.

In Memoriam

Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near East

  • You’ve probably seen memes making the rounds about “biblically accurate angels” that feature some weird looking creatures covered in eyes. In a recent video for his YouTube channel Religion for Breakfast, Andrew Mark Henry looks at angels and other heavenly creatures found in the Hebrew Bible, the Apocrypha, and the New Testament, including those eye-covered weirdos known as ophanim. Henry offers great analysis and much needed context, historical and otherwise. 
  • Want to learn more about the Philistines? Aren Maeir has the hookup over at his website. He has videos covering the identity of the Philistines, their fate, excavations of Gath, and more. It’s a one-stop shop for all things Philistines. So don’t be a Philistine – click on the link and expand your knowledge! 
  • Over at, Robin Derricourt talks about what the absence of archaeological findings can tell researchers. He offers three examples related to Islamic, Christian, and Jewish understandings of history. These lines from the end stand out: “Archaeology can confirm the traditional views of a religious, national or ethnic group; it can refine them; or it can provide a different story. Where archaeology is absent, traditions remain neither proven nor eroded. Where archaeology is present and an expected result is absent, we need to change our assumptions and interpretation.”
  • Where did the Decalogue come from? This is the subject of Cynthia Edenburg’s piece “The Origins of the Decalogue” published at She contends that “the Decalogue appears to be a later addition into both the Exodus and Deuteronomy narratives.” How, you ask, does she get there? To find that out, you need to read Edenburg’s interesting argument.
  • Famously, the Exodus as described by biblical authors leaves much to be desired in the way of historicity. While many, especially skeptics, disregard the story as worthless because of this, there is still much to be gleaned from it. Seth Sanders does just this in a post entitled “The Exodus Inside Out.” For example, he notes that there is power in the story of a journey, and in the case of the Israelites it functioned as a way to set themselves apart from their Canaanite cousins. 
  • Over at the YouTube channel Reconstructed Bible you’ll find a video that questions the idea that Solomon built the temple to Yahweh. In fact, Michael questions not only that but whether Solomon was even David’s son or that the temple to Yahweh was a temple to Yahweh! The ideas are controversial, and I agree with virtually nothing in the video, but every time I watch something from @ReconBible (formerly @MiraScriptura) I walk away with some new ideas and ways of looking at biblical texts and their authors’ claims. 
  • Of all the stories in the Hebrew Bible, the tale of Joshua’s long day is one of the weirdest. It’s obviously an impossible tale, but from the vantage point of the author of the book of Joshua, what was its import? Ray Inkster answers that question in a recent post. He notes that since many ancient cultures viewed the sun as a deity worthy of worship, the idea that Yahweh could suspend its motion in the sky was a “way of making the claim that Yahweh was superior to all such so-called ‘gods’, and that these were, in reality, no gods at all. Literalism misses the essential crucial point, and turns eye-and-ear-catching story telling into something entirely incredible, if not deservedly risible.”
  • What is it with certain conservative apologists and slavery in the Bible? Keith Giles talks about the way in which apologist James White turns slavery into a moral good due to his a priori commitment to biblicism. Frankly, this sort of language is at once disturbing and unsurprising.
  • As a kid, I remember uttering the statement, “Finders keepers, losers weepers.” (This didn’t happen often. My conscience wouldn’t let me keep stuff like that for long.) This sort of selfishness is commonplace in modern society and even some ancient ones. But not so the Torah. Yael Landman (PhD, Yeshiva University) asks why there are so many laws about returning lost property to its owner. She concludes, “It is easy to ignore lost property; after all, no one would ever know. But the Torah and Jewish law require a finder to go out of their way, even if it is difficult or inconvenient, and even if no one would ever know the difference.”
  • Volume 17 of the Cambridge Semitic Languages and Cultures series, The Historical Depth of the Tiberian Reading Tradition of Biblical Hebrew is free to download and read! What are you waiting for, Hebrew language nerds?
  • Bob MacDonald has been working on setting the book of Amos to music. You can look at his sheet music for the first two chapters at his website. MacDonald’s love for Hebrew and love for music results in really interesting results. And setting things to music is often a good way to memorize things. 
  • Brain surgeons in the Bronze Age? Kinda sorta. Recent excavations at Megiddo point to the practice of cranial surgery in a skull of a man found there. The man had several issues, including fused bones and perhaps tuberculosis or leprosy. There’s also evidence that this man was a person of means based upon artifacts buried with him. An interesting piece!
  • In a video entitled “The Bible’s Dark Side, @AlchemistNon briefly examines the sacrifice of Isaac story found in Genesis 22. Among other things, he considers whether God’s command to sacrifice Isaac, in light of his own omniscience, is an act of deception on God’s part. It’s brief video but gives a lot to think about. 
  • Who killed Goliath? Most of us take for granted what we learned in Sunday School: David did it! But over at the YouTube channel Bible Unboxed you’ll find an interview of Paul Davidson from the Is That in the Bible? blog that looks at the development of the killing of Goliath tale and why it might not have been about David at all. Interesting stuff! 

LXX & Second Temple

Dead Sea Scrolls (CONTROVERSY!)

  • Earlier in February, Craig Evans appeared on apologist Sean McDowell’s channel and made the startling claim that some of the recent Dead Sea Scroll forgeries found in collections at places like the Museum of the Bible were, in fact, not forgeries at all! This was breaking news, a McDowell exclusive courtesy of Evans.
  • While Evans’s claims may have been welcomed news to many in the apologetics community, there were some scholars who found it all dubious. For example, Kipp Davis, an expert in the DSS, has offered a response to Evans that goes into the nitty-gritty, looking at the timeline of the relevant pieces, the painstaking examination that went into confirming that they are forgeries, and noting the consensus views among scholars with relevant credentials. It’s a long video but well worth the time.
  • Another dissenting voice came from Drew Longacre, a specialist in ancient Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, over at his website. He had responded to a question on Facebook about Evans’s assertions and wrote a response that he shared in a post. Responding to some of the issues Evans raised, Longacre writes, “I think you will have a very hard time convincing many specialists of the authenticity of most of the contested fragments today.” 
  • On a related note, Morag Kersel’s paper that was presented at the Bryn Mawr Classical Review’s 30thanniversary celebration on whether to publish unprovenanced materials anonymously owned is available to read. As she describes, there are ethical considerations that are sometimes swept under the rug when discussing certain artifacts. In short, provenance matters, and scholars should strive to make sure that the materials they work with have been handled with the utmost moral concern. 

New Testament and Early Christian Texts

4 thoughts on “Biblical Studies Carnival #204 (February 2023)

  1. Interesting and informative, as always! Also, thanks for mentioning that review.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for linking to my post and zoom interview. Best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My pleasure! I’m a big fan of your work!


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