“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.
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“The dude really needs to sit down and read something beyond McDowell, because at the moment his knowledge of scholarly consensus and methodology (and the evidence at hand) is enormously dime store apologist level.”
– Chris Hansen on J Warner Wallace
- Over at his website Biblical Historical Context, blogger and Twitter user @bibhistctxt has a post up on whether the author the epistle of Jude used the apocryphal 1 Enoch in places like Jude 1:14-15. Virtually every biblical scholar except the ultra-conservatives (i.e. John MacArthur) agree that in the background of the text of Jude is 1 Enoch and @bibhistctxt shows why.
- Last week I tweeted out my appreciation for a video from @StudyofChrist that appeared on his YouTube channel on whether the Lukan genealogy of Jesus is about Mary’s line, a claim made frequently by pop-apologists to reconcile the Matthean and Lukan genealogies. But I wanted to include it in a Weekly Roundup also so here it is! It was great and as I related in a comment on the video, this is one I plan on keeping in my back pocket for any future discussions with pop-apologists using the argument.
- Chris Hansen () has begun a series briefly taking pop-apologist J Warner Wallace to task for his shoddy work in Cold-Case Christianity. In his first post, Hansen goes over some of Wallace’s outlandish material, including his suggestion that unbelieving scholars place the writing of the canonical Gospels in the second century. In the second post, Hansen deals with Wallace’s intrusion of his experience as a cold-case detective into investigating the nature of the Gospel accounts. These posts are relatively short and do a good job of nailing Wallace to the wall for his “terrabad” work.
- Bill Mounce asks the question everyone is asking – Why do translators use the singular “net” in Mark 1:16 when the word is plural in 1:17? I must confess, that is puzzling. My translation of 1:16 reads, “And walking along the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting nets in the Sea, for they were fishers.” As Mounce explains, there is no direct object that follows “casting” and so it is implied by the context. But considering the context includes 1:17 where the word for “net” is plural, it is strange that translations don’t insert a plural “net” in 1:16.
- In a paper that appeared two weeks ago in the Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Hans Moscicke discusses the exorcism of the demoniac of Gerasa from Mark 5:1-20 and its relationship to the scapegoat traditions of the Second Temple period. Interestingly, and somewhat related to @bibhisttcxt’s post on the relationship of Jude and 1 Enoch, the pericope in Mark seems to have borrowed imagery from the book of 1 Enoch as well, specifically the so-called Book of the Watchers (1 Enoch 1-36) and Moscicke discusses this and the relevant scholarship on the subject.
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“I think we have to allow that John’s Gospel differs from the Synoptic Gospels in this fundamental respect: it is not an attempt to remember the historical Jesus; it is an attempt to restate the significance of the historical Jesus from a later theological vantage point, shaped in particular by a bitter controversy with the Jews.”
– Andrew Perriman.
- While cooking dinner the other night I was able to get caught up on @StudyofChrist’s series on the Lukan genealogy. In three videos he covered the issue of Arni and Admin (Luke 3:33), the problem of patriarchal names (i.e. Simeon, Judah, Joseph; 3:29-30), and the identification of Neri and Rhesa (3:27). I love the fact that @StudyofChrist is more than willing to buck the scholarly trend if he finds their arguments lacking. This tells me he is thinking through what he’s talking about rather than just parroting what he’s read. Follow him on Twitter and subscribe to his channel!
- Over at The Daily Beast, biblical scholar Candida Moss has written a short piece asking the question, “Did Christian Historians Exaggerate Persecution by the Romans?” In it she examines the claim by Eusebius that Christians were sent to mine in Phaeno, a city in the southern Levant, and that while there many were killed for their faith. Recent archaeological evidence done by anthropologist Megan Perry suggests that this probably wasn’t the case. In all likelihood, this is yet another example of Christians exaggerating the ways in which Rome persecuted the faithful.
- I don’t post to it at all and I really should because the Biblical Studies Carnival is a fantastic monthly resource that offers links to a variety of material from many different biblical scholars covering topics related to the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and more. The November 2018 Carnival was put together by Bob MacDonald, a software engineer with a passion for biblical studies, particularly the Hebrew scriptures. There are some really great links in MacDonald’s Carnival but two stood out to me: Andrew Perriman’s “Why did the Jews accuse Jesus of making himself equal to God?” and a new translation of the books of 1-2 Samuel by William Whitt (which you can download as a PDF).
- In searching for free resources related to biblical studies for my iPad I came across some that are pretty darn useful. One of them is an app called “Greek Kit” that can create a list of all the Greek words – nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, etc. – that appear in a section of the Greek New Testament and give you a complete run down of each with their meaning. And if you’d rather not have all the words, you can select by type (i.e. 1st declension nouns or contract verbs or particles) and by frequency (ranging from all words to those that appear only two times). Some features of the app are locked and are only available by purchase but this basic feature is helpful because you can take the list of words and then select “Review” and it will go through each word in a slideshow. Beginning students of New Testament Greek can benefit from this tool as would seasoned veterans.
- (Print-Only): The December 2018 issue of American History featured a fantastic article on George Washington entitled “Don’t Print the Legend” by Peter Henriques of George Mason University. We are all familiar with the myths that have developed around Washington: the chopping down of the cherry tree, the prayer at Valley Forge, and so on. But these are myths about Washington that have no basis in solid evidence.For example, the story of a young Washington chopping down the cherry tree and fessing up to his inquiring father was first told by Parson Mason Locke Weems in his sixth edition of The Life of Washington. Evangelical historian Peter Lillback, in a bid to rescue the story from the claims of skeptical historians, wrote in his biography of Washington entitled Sacred Fire that a German-made vase which appeared at some point during the American Revolution showed Washington as a young boy holding a hatchet next to a tree with the initials “GW” nearby. However, Henriques followed up and found the vase and it doesn’t say “GW” but “CW.” And the individual painted on the vase is a man, not a boy, and the tree isn’t even a cherry tree! Henriques writes, “In short, this container has absolutely nothing to do with George Washington.”As a side note, I met Lillback in 2010 or 2011 when he was at a Presbytery meeting in Mississippi for the Presbyterian domination wherein I served as a youth pastor. His book on Washington was on sale at the meeting but I never had any desire to pick it up. By that time I had long been disabused of my David Barton informed beliefs about the Founding Fathers. If memory serves, he gave a brief talk at the meeting but I wasn’t all that impressed.
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“The death of the messiah [in Mark’s Gospel], at the hour of the cross, is the advent of the υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, who has come with great power and glory (13:26).”
– Danny Yencich
- On 11.25.18 Twitter users @Shann_Q0 and @paulogia0 had a discussion with pop-apologist SJ Thomason covering a wide-range of topics including Gospel authorship, the historicity of the Resurrection, the growth of Christianity, and more. I think both Shannon and Paul did a pretty good job of sticking to the facts and resting their laurels on a lot of New Testament scholarship. Thomason, on the other hand, offers the same pat answers that the pop-apologists she reads give. Also, Thomason seems to be easily distracted and I’ve noticed this in other YouTube conversations, her Twitter posts, and even in her blog posts. In any event, I really appreciate the work that Shannon and Paul put into the conversation with Thomason. They both come across as very genuine, humble, and knowledgeable people. Not bad for a couple of heathens!
- Twitter user and blogger @apetivist wrote a blog post entitled “The Problem of Evil or Suffering by Apetivist.” It isn’t intended to be a thorough discussion of the problem of evil but it does raise some interesting points. For example, often Christians employ a free will defense in a bid to rescue God’s omnibenevolence. But as Apetevist points out, many of those same Christians believe that in the future eschaton all sin and evil will be purged from the world. If that’s the case, why couldn’t God keep and maintain such a world now? Therefore, God’s omnibenevolence is questionable.
- Over on his YouTube channel @StudyofChrist is working through the genealogy of Luke’s Gospel, addressing specific errors within the text. I was able to work through three: “All the alleged Errors in Luke’s Genealogy,” “Why is there an extra Cainan in Luke’s Genealogy? part 1,” and “Why is there an extra Cainan in Luke’s Genealogy? part 2.“ As he is wont to do, @StudyofChrist goes deep into both biblical texts, ancient manuscripts, and extrabiblical sources. His is fascinating work. Like and subscribe to his work if you haven’t already!
- Self-professed Bible “nerd” Daniel Kirk did an interview with Pete Enns and Jared Byas on their The Bible For Normal People podcast discussing my favorite book of the Bible: the Gospel of Mark. There’s plenty of neat tidbits about the social circumstances in which the Gospel was written and how the narrative structure works within it.
- Danny Yencich, a PhD student in New Testament and Christian Origins at the University of Denver, wrote a piece last year in the Stone-Cambell Journal entitled “Sowing the Passion at Olivet: Mark 13-15 in a Narrative Frame.” The gist of the piece is that Mark 13, traditionally seen as an entirely apocalyptic passage, may in fact be foreshadowing the events that take place in the Passion narrative. This view isn’t unique to Yencich but he does succinctly put together the evidence for such a view and it is one that I find intriguing. While undoubtedly the Olive Discourse is apocalyptic in nature, a fact that Yencich essentially concedes, there are particular words and phrases that evoke the Passion narrative that follows. These include the use of the verb paradidōmi (13:9), the idea of “eschatological darkness” (13:24), and more.
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“Jesus’ followers are to abandon any and all means of procuring a socio-economic livelihood, or more accurately conceiving of a livelihood in socio-economic terms.”
– Steven DiMattei
- Over at his blog contradictionsinthebible.com, biblical scholar Steven DiMattei has begun a series exploring what he believes Jesus meant when he told his followers to follow him. It is entitled “In Defense of Jesus: A Challenge to Those Claiming to ‘Follow Jesus.‘” He examines some of the more difficult sayings of Jesus found throughout the Gospels and notes that these are indicative of Jesus’ call to abandon everything to pursue him in his role as the messianic king.
- The Atlantic featured a piece by Andrew Henry on the recently discovered Dead Sea Scroll forgeries at the evangelical Museum of the Bible. As you may know, the Museum of the Bible has had its fair share of problems with illegally acquired artifacts, forgeries, and more. Henry’s piece is an excellent overview.
- Ben Watkins of Real Atheology wrote a guest post back in October for the website capturingchristianity.com on why he is an atheist. He covers a wide range of subjects including ethics, the problem of evil, and divine hiddenness. For Christians who want to see how an atheist of Watkins caliber thinks about theism and atheism, this is a great example.
- Hans Moscicke, a PhD candidate at Marquette University, recently wrote an article for Currents in Biblical Research entitled “Jesus as Goat of the Day of Atonement in Synoptic Gospels Research.” Moscicke surveys the various proposals of how Jesus is portrayed in the Passion narrative and how that portrayal relates to other religious literature that may have influenced it. The best part is that his bibliography is about five pages long! I love big bibliographies and I cannot lie!
- Not too long ago Twitter user @AuthorConfusion wrote a blog post entitled “The Gospel of Atheism: The Moment You Realize You Won the Cosmic Lottery.” It is an ode to our insignificance in the cosmic scheme of things as well as a celebration of the great gift existence is for those of us who have “won the cosmic lottery” as it were. @AuthorConfusion is a superb writer (no doubt due to her skills as a literary editor) and this post is one of my favorites.
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Here’s the Weekly Roundup!
- I’ve really enjoyed @StudyofChrist‘s series on the Matthean genealogy. I’m slowly getting caught up on his videos and recently watched “More Complicated Issues“ which covers issues surrounding the father of Zerubbabel (Matthew 1:12) as well as where in the world Abiud (Matthew 1:13) came from. Many of the names in the genealogy are unattested which leaves you scratching your head wondering where Matthew got the names. A great video!
- Biblical scholar Steven Dimattei wrote a post over at his website Contradictions in the Bible on theTension Between Genesis 10 and Genesis 11. The former is a Priestly document showing how the various nations originated following the Flood. The latter is a Yahwist version of the same origin story but told in a narrative form and differs with the Priestly genealogy.
- I have also enjoyed @theclosetatheist and her blog The Closet Atheist. Not too long ago she wrote a piece entitled “An Atheist’s Evolution” where she talks about how she now feels free to move on from the fundamental issues related to atheism to other topics she’d like to explore. I think this is an important stage in the deconversion process but it seems that it is not one everyone goes through. Reading her journey has been very satisfying and I find myself rooting for her and her fiance!
- New Testament scholar Michael Kok wrote an article in 2015 entitled “Critical Questions for the Early High Christology Club” which seeks to “resist the tendency to treat the textual representations of Christian beliefs and praxis in the New Testament and other Christian literature as univocal.” This is something that is often resisted among apologists who like to paint early Christianity as essentially monolithic, but a cursory reading of the New Testament reveals that this cannot possibly be true. The Markan Jesus, for example, doesn’t seem to become the Son of God until his baptism. In fact, he was baptized by John whose baptism was for repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Was Jesus a sinner? In any event, the Markan Christology is not nearly as high as the Johannine Christology or even the Pauline.
- On biblical scholar Pete Enn’s The Bible For Normal People podcast is an interview with Mark Smith, an expert in the Hebrew Bible. In this recent episode Smith discusses the history and origin of Yahweh, bringing out the parallels between Yahweh and El as well as Yahweh and Baal. It is an absolutely fascinating interview!
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Here are a few things I’ve enjoyed this week.
- Twitter user @Elishabenabuya has a really good blog post on “Henotheism and the OT“ over at his website. As he points out, multiple gods are mentioned in the Old Testament, many of which were acknowledged to be real in some form or fashion, a sign of henotheism and not strict monotheism.
- Not too long ago I was sent a link to a post rebutting presuppositionalism entitled “The Executioner’s Argument“ by Twitter user @hackenslash1. It isn’t an exhaustive takedown but does highlight some of the problems inherent to the presuppositional approach to apologetics.
- Atheists love to point to the absurdity of the talking serpent in Genesis 3 but few consider the import of the serpent in the Ancient Near East. In an older article, biblical scholar John Day discusses the reason that it is a serpent in the garden and not some other animal. Check out “The Serpent in the Garden of Eden and Its Background.”
- Over at his website, Bernard Lamborelle wrote a short post on “Dissociative Exegesis for Abrahammies.” Lamborelle is the author of The Covenant: On the Origin of the Abrahamic Faith By Means of Deification (CreateSpace, 2017), a book I am currently about a quarter of the way through. In this post on “dissociative exegesis” Lamborelle shows that in the texts of Genesis 12-25 Yahweh virtually always appears anthropomorphized, a sign to him that perhaps Yahweh was originally an actual human king who only later turned into an immaterial deity.
- In response to the work of Lamborelle, Twitter user @mirascriptura has a blog post on his website which compares Lamborelle’s reading of Genesis 12-25, particularly chapters 13, 14, 18-19, and 20-22. The post entitled “Bernard Lamborelle vs. Mirror Reading” does raise some interesting points, though @mirascriptura and Lamborelle have common ground on some of the textual and historical issues. For those of you who are not familiar with “mirror reading,” check out this summary from @mirascriptura. What I like most about both Lamborelle’s take and @mirascriptura’s take is not that I find myself agreeing with all they say but that they force me to dig into the texts and take them seriously. And frankly, that is worth its weight in gold to me.
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