I am told July is usually a slow month for biblical blogging. I have high hopes that this month’s quality will more than make up for quantity. Thanks to all their bloggers who send me links from their own and others’ blogs.
EerdWord previews one of their newest publications, The Psalms as Christian Lament:
Being “poor” and being in “lament” are linked in the Psalter: in seeking righteousness in the law court as a plaintiff; in crying out for help in danger, oppression, and the threat of death; in need of health and cure in the presence of sickness and disease; and, in the truly penitential psalms, in seeking forgiveness, redemption, and restoration of communion with God. Lament is then both individual and national; and this is especially true in the psalms, for they are often the lament of Israel’s king, who is in corporate solidarity with his people.
Understanding the value of land to the people singing Psalm 46–it was an essential component of their identity and experience of God’s love for them!–makes the affirmation of trust in this Psalm even more remarkable.
The story is unexpectedly full of deceit, fear, weakness, and subtlety on the part of David, running for his life into the arms of his enemies, completely alone – in the solitude of solitude, without his lads, his army, his infrastructure (the city), even if it was limited to playing the harp for a mentally disturbed king, and so he too feigns madness and escapes.
Paul Davidson introduces the Twelve (Or So) Tribes of Israel:
The myth of the twelve tribes of Israel is another example of how the Bible in its present form presents an idealized vision of the past based on religious and nationalistic concerns, developed through numeric symbolism, fictional genealogies, and etiological tales.
James Pate reflects on Jeremiah 48:
Is Jeremiah (or whoever wrote Jeremiah 48) a voice for universalism, one who believes that all nations should worship the LORD alone? Or is Moab expected to worship the God of Israel because Moab was descended from Lot, the nephew of Abraham, and thus Moab is close to the Israelite family?
Diana Stein at ASOR satisfies a curiosity we were too embarrassed to ask: what kind of crazy drug trips did people in the Ancient Near East have?
The theatrical dimension of hallucinogenic rituals also ensured that the experience, which could be fatal or cause great anxiety, was carefully supervised. Whether in the context of the hunt, a social event, a burial rite or a religious ceremony, a guide was present “to bridge the two worlds of consciousness as a means of controlling and neutralizing perceived evil spirits that appear to the drug user during a session, as well as to evoke culturally expected visions”.[ii]
These traditional constraints are lacking in Western society today, which insists on a division between medicine and ritual and is deeply suspicious of the latter. Here, perhaps, is something we could learn from our past.
Phil Long has been blogging about Philippians thoroughly throughout July. Check out his latest, on Philippians 2:19-24:
But this section of the letter is not unrelated to the great theological content of chapter 2:1-11; Paul is offering two additional examples of people who are serving humbly like Jesus (2:5-11) and Paul (2:17). Timothy and Epaphroditus are examples of “having the same mind” as Christ Jesus (2:1).
Brian W. Davidson explains that Disciples are Fit for Feet:
In the post titled “Disciples: Salt for Trampling,” I proposed that “salt of the earth” signifies the way outsiders treat the disciples. Those who follow Jesus have broken ties with the kingdom of earth, they’ve lost their saltiness. They are good for nothing but trampling (καταπατέω) under foot.
James McGrath responds to a question, “Is the Gospel of John a Jewish Mystical Work?”
The prologue (1:1-18) presents the lens through which the Gospel author wishes Jesus to be viewed, and it shares key concepts with the Jewish mystical philosopher Philo of Alexandria. The Gospel speaks of visions (1:51), which were an important part of mysticism, and emphasizes union with Jesus and ultimately with God through the Spirit. It is possible that Jesus himself is viewed as a mystic, one who speaks with the divine voice because the divine Word/Spirit dwells in him.
Paul Davidson gives an overview of Matthew’s genealogy, stressing its symbolic nature:
That this should be understood symbolically is quite clear. It is not historically plausible for a time span of almost two millennia to consist of only 42 generations — actually 41, since Matthew’s third set of 14 only has 13 names. Theologians who, over the centuries, have treated this genealogy as a factual historical report and striven to account for the discrepancies with Luke’s genealogy have simply missed the forest for the trees.
Bible, Literature, Translation gives us a riff on the Lord’s Prayer, inspired by economic and mimetic theory:
Forgive us our trespasses
So we can let go of that bristling defensive posture,
that tendency towards escalation, that mirror-imaging of sin.
Forgive us our trespasses
To remind us how it feels to be welcomed,
To remind us that we are no better no purer no holier
Than those who trespass against us.
Wayne Coppins shares a bit of his ongoing translation of Jens Schröter’s book on Luke:
“If we evaluate these findings, then it can be said that the presentation of Luke moves within the framework of what was expected from an ancient historian. He possesses knowledge about the areas concerning which he reports; sometimes chronological inaccuracies slip in; and entirely in the sense of Lucian he has shaped his presentation and in this way drawn a picture of the development of Christianity in the first decades.”
Mike Skinner has three reflections on the Sermon on the Plain, Romans 13 and violence, and on Jesus’ parable of a camel going through the eye of a needle:
Jesus’ reply challenges not only our wealth, but our very conception of salvation. To be saved, to be made a member of the church through baptism, means that our lives are no longer our own. We are made vulnerable to one another in a manner such that what is ours can no longer be free of the claims of others. As hard as it may be to believe, Jesus makes clear that salvation entails our being made vulnerable through the loss of our possessions.” 
Larry Hurtado examines Paul’s messianic beliefs:
My own contribution was to propose that, instead of thinking of Paul as departing from some notion of a monolithic Jewish messianism, we should regard Paul as espousing a particular variant-form of Jewish messianism. Jewish messianism of Paul’s time was pluriform, and the Christological faith that Paul adopted and promoted represents one of the several variant-forms.
Apostolic and Patristic Fathers
Jacob Cerone shares a discovery he made in Ignatius’ letter to the Smyraeans:
This poignant little play on words illustrates what Ignatius claims throughout the letter: Jesus’ possession of a physical body and his real sufferings are both the source of our salvation and the hope of our resurrection. Thus, the one who denies that he lived in the flesh has no hope of life but bears about himself his own corpse.
Lee Fields wants to know: would you name your son Lucifer?
The word heōsphoros does not appear in Kittel, because it does not appear in the NT. This word is the Septuagint (LXX) translation of the Hebrew הֵילֵל בֶּן־שָׁחַר (hêlēl ben šaḥar) in Isa 14:12. […] To understand how the KJV reads “Lucifer,” we need to look at the Hebrew, the language in which most of the OT was composed, then the LXX, the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT, and the Vulgate, Jerome’s Latin translation of the Hebrew OT.
Ben Myers explains the joy of teaching primary sources:
For me, the most rewarding part of teaching is introducing my students to primary sources. Each of my classes involves a lecture period plus an hour of small-group tutorials in which the class works its way through a book that I have chosen. In the books that have come down to us from the past, we have access to Christian minds far more energetic and more accommodating than our own. It is a joy to find yourself in the presence of a mind that you cannot fully comprehend. This has always been one of the chief reasons for studying the humanities at all: to learn that the human spirit is larger and more interesting than one’s own poor spirit, or (this is the political benefit of studying the humanities) than the spirit of the age.
Jeremy Bouma reflects on how to read the Bible:
As a teenager I memorized John 1, 3, 5 and 8; 2 Corinthians 1-10; and all of Ephesians and 1-3 John. Then I memorized the questions that accompanied those verses so I could buzz in early, leaving my competitors in the dust. That’s what true Bible quizzing professionals did, after all.
Before my graduate studies, I hoped to work in the academic world far away from the messiness of the church. Now, I’m enslaved to the conviction that Christian academics must be immersed in and useful to the local church. I entered my graduate studies knowing little about church history and caring even less. Who cared about how Origen translated a certain passage when I’ve got the best Hebrew & Greek tools in history available to me and am free of his cultural limitations? However, I now know how important church history is and indeed have found myself with a deep love for the study of patristics.
I’ve really been enjoying Koinonia’s interviews on advice to students. Each interview has a few pithy points.
- James Merrick: “Read outside your comfort zone.”
- Scott Rae: “Your Academic Work is Discipleship.”
- Michael Bird: “Take measures to keep your work spiritually fresh.”
- Stephen Garrett: “Connect with a Local Church.”
Cain brought an off’ring agrarian
while Abel came with fresh carrion.
God chose Abe’s, of the two,
so I think that it’s true:
God’s biased ‘gainst vegetarians.
That’s all for now, folks!