“Mark, wanting to make a theological point, locates the event in a place whose name is associated with casting out demons – the language, as Marcus points out, does kinda support this. This strengthens the exorcism theme of the pericope– seems legit. A few years later, Matthew, using Mark as a source for his own gospel, either misses Mark’s theological point or wants to achieve something else with his text and attempts to “correct” the event’s location. He deals with a remaining issue by locating the herd “some distance away” rather than on the hillside next to the lake. Around 150 years later Origen comes along, and, knowing that Matthew’s attempted fix isn’t watertight, relocates the event to Gergasa based on what is probably an ancient tradition.” – @bibhistctxt
- Last month @MiraScriptura interviewed biblical scholar Tzemah Yoreh on topics including the Supplementary Hypothesis, his academic work (the guy is working on a second PhD), New Testament source criticism (i.e. the Synoptic Problem), and more. @MiraScriptura utilizes Yoreh’s website when working on his mirror reading material and so I know that he was excited to get to interview him!
- @Bibhistctxt wrote a piece covering the geographic issues inherent to both the Markan and Matthean versions of the exorcism of Legion (Mark 5:1-20; Matthew 8:28-34). The central issue is over the location of Gerasa (Mark) and Gadara (Matthew) and their relationship to the Sea of Galilee. The portrait painted in Mark is that the exorcism happens on the shores of the Sea such that when the demon-possessed pigs rush off the cliff they don’t have to run very far. Matthew apparently recognized this problem in Mark and changed the town to Gadara but even this doesn’t help as much as you’d think. And then there are textual variants and interpretations of early Christian writers! It’s a freakin’ mess!
- I got behind in @StudyofChrist’s ongoing series covering the book of Isaiah but I’m nearly caught up! Here is what I’ve watched recently.
- His video on Maher-shalal-hash-baz (Isaiah 8:1) covers the attack of Assyria on Israel in the eighth century BCE. Maher-shalal-hash-baz means something like “rush to the spoils” and is intended to be a preview of how the Assyrians will carry off the spoils of Israel in war (8:4).
- The next video begins to cover the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem during the reign of Hezekiah. One prominent figure that plays a central role in all of this is Merodach-baladan who, as @StudyofChrist points out, foments rebellion against Assyria which leads ultimately to the siege on Jerusalem.
- The siege itself, described in both the book of Isaiah and in Assyrian records, is the topic of the next video. My favorite part is all the trash-talk between the Assyrian king’s representative and the king of Judah which amounts to, “Hey, your army sucks and your god will be of no help to you.” He also teases that we have three sources for the siege: the Hebrew Bible, Assyrian records, and Herodotus (with Egyptian records).
- Back in November Candida Moss wrote a piece on the Pericope Adulterae (i.e. John 7:53 – 8:11). In it she discusses a new book that has come out on the text entitled To Cast the First Stone: The Transmission of a Gospel Story. As Moss discusses, the book shows that the pericope has long been noted as missing from manuscripts of John’s Gospel. This was first observed in the fourth century but it apparently was a significant issue. The pericope’s varying interpretation has made it a classic and Moss’ piece discussing it and To Cast the First Stone is a great introduction to it.
- Does morality depend on God’s existence? This is the question Jason Thibodeau answers in a post from November of last year. The argument he puts forward is based on the suffering of children caused by torture. Step-by-step he shows that torturing a child is morally wrong for reasons that are valid whether or not God exists.
Featured image: Wikimedia Commons.
“Slavery is part of the cultural fabric of the world that produced the Scriptures. Though some debate whether servitude or even debt-slavery should be used to describe the institution instead, the presumption of right to sexual access marks Hagar’s status as enslaved.” – Wil Gafney
- Chris Hansen has another post in his series covering J. Warner Wallace’s Cold-Case Christianity. In this post, Hansen addresses the common pop-apologetic non sequitur that because the New Testament authors got some details correct (i.e. place names, historical figures) that therefore they are correct on the details of Jesus’ life and ministry and therefore Jesus was really raised from the dead. The sarcasm and snark in Hansen’s review had me chuckling a number of times. It is well worth your time for that alone!
- Mark Goodacre, an accomplished New Testament scholar, has written a couple of posts over Bart Ehrman’s blog on the subject of “editorial fatigue.” Well, it is really from Goodacre’s book The Synoptic Problem: A Way Through the Maze which Goodacre allowed Ehrman to post on his blog. The first post describes what it is and offers an example from the Gospel of Matthew that shows that he was no doubt working from the Gospel of Mark. The second post offers examples from the Gospel of Luke which also shows the Lukan author was working from the Gospel of Mark.
- Biblical scholar Wil Gafney wrote an entry on Hagar over at bibleodyssey.org. In it she discusses the meaning of Hagar’s name (i.e. “the alien”) and how Hagar’s story relates to the main focus of those texts wherein she appears. Hagar, as Gafney points out, is a sex slave who is used by Abraham to produce an heir and then despised by Sarah for it. She’s a means to an end and nothing more. But Gafney calls on us to think about Hagar more just as she did in her book Womanist Midrash (WJK, 2017).
- Back in August an interview with Elaine Pagels – an amazing scholar whose expertise on Gnosticism is world renown – appeared on the Religion News Service website. In it she discusses the loss of her husband and son, her experience of sexual assault while a graduate student, and her most recent book Why Religion? A Personal Story (HarperCollins, 2018).
- Last week I highlighted some of the recent episodes of the Mira Scriptura podcast. I was finally able to get through the rest of those episodes this week.
Featured image: Wikimedia Commons.
“The assertion by the opposing narrative that Elijah’s wife was a prostitute and later, that Elijah ate her son, does seem a little over the top and may indicate that the opposing narrative itself was propaganda and was responding to an even earlier narrative. But that is a mirror-reading of a mirror-reading, and it’s difficult to say with any certainty.” – @MiraScriptura
- @StudyofChrist has begun a series covering the book of Isaiah and offers an overview, a look at the Syro-Ephramite War, and the prophecy of Isaiah 7:1-9 as it relates to the identity of Shear-jashub. What I know about the book of Isaiah could maybe fill half of a 3×5 card and so I’ve found his work personally beneficial. And all this steps from answering the question of whether Isaiah predicted a virgin birth.
- Scholar of the Hebrew Bible Francesca Stavrakopoulou’s 2011 series The Bible’s Buried Secrets is available to watch on Netflix in the US. The first episode on King David explores the historicity of the character and looks at the archaeological evidence for both David and the notion of a united monarchy in the tenth century BCE. The second considers the relationship of Yahweh to the Canaanite pantheon and whether Asherah represents Yahweh’s consort. The final episode looks at the Garden of Eden and the story of Genesis 2-3.
- The January 2019 Biblical Studies Carnival came out on February 1 and was put together by Jim West. (I will be doing the Carnival for August of 2019 so look for that on September 1. You know, right around the corner.)
- @MiraScriptura has come out with his series covering the Northern Elijah and Elisha narratives that appears in the Deuteronomistic History.
- The first episode (#21) introduces the subject emphasizing that this is political propaganda. In that episode he brings up “M,” shorthand for “Miracle Men,” which some have taken to be an independent source that covered the lives of Elisha and Elijah.
- The second episode (#22) covers the narrative concerning Elijah’s escape to the Brook Cherith (1 Kings 17). In the accompanying blog post, @MiraScriptura notes that the narrative “primarily concerned with Elijah’s reputation, his place of residence, what happened at the Brook Cherith, which Elohim he served, and if Yahweh was the Elohim of Israel.”
- The third episode (#23) covers the narrative of the widow at Zarephath (1 Kings 17) and the opposing narrative suggests that not only is the “widow” actually Elijah’s wife but also that he ate the widow’s son because it wasn’t his child since she had apparently cheated on Elijah. In the accompanying blog post he suggests that the Hebrew verb in 17:21 translated as “he stretched himself” would imply that the opposing narrative intended to convey the idea that Elijah was measuring the boy in preparation to eat him. It is true that mādad is used to refer to measuring out distances, etc., but here in 17:21 the verb is ytmdd, a Hithpael imperfect form of mādad and is therefore reflexive action. Perhaps the opposing narrative had employed some other verbal form.
- I will be listening to the rest of the episodes in the coming week and will include them in the next Roundup so stay tuned!
- @Paulogia0 recently posted a video offering a non-supernatural explanation for the origin of Christianity. Of note is his claim that the early disciples, especially Peter, had a vision of Jesus born from the grief (and perhaps guilt) that he experienced in the wake of Jesus’ unexpected death. I’m not sure if Paul has read Gerd Luedemann’s The Resurrection of Jesus: History, Experience, Theology (Fortress Press, 1994) but this is a view that Luedemann himself endorses and one I find plausible or at least more likely than resurrection. One correction to offer: Saul the persecutor did not change his name to Paul. Saul was his Hebrew/Aramaic name and Paul his Greek.
Featured image: Wikimedia Commons.
Today over on the Mira Scriptura podcast is a conversation I had with @MiraScriptura covering a wide range of topics including my journey from Christianity to atheism, views on the Documentary and Supplementary Hypotheses, love for the Gospel of Mark, thoughts on Bernard Lamborelle’s The Covenant, and much more. I also got the chance to play inquisitor to @MiraScriptura’s work with mirror reading. If you don’t follow @MiraScriptura on Twitter or have not subscribed to his podcast, I recommend you do so. His series on the Northern book of Judges was my favorite, particularly the episode on Samson.