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Biblical Studies Blog Carnival — July 2014 Edition!!

Greetings!

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.

Old Testament

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.

Abram K-J expounds on An Interculturally Aware Read of Psalm 46.  (He also has a post on Psalm 23.)

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.

Bob McDonald reflects on 1 Samuel 21 and its setting in music.  (He also has a reflection on Isaiah 44:6-8 as music.)

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.

New Testament

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.” [1]

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.

Miscellany

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.

Brian Renshaw shares his Vocabulary Flashcards for Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.

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.

Mike Skinner shares his reflections on earning his M.A. in Theological Studies:

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.

And to end on a high note of humor, I’ll share Jeff Carter’s biblical limericks: “Quid Pro Quo,” “Won’t That be Neat!,” and “God Doesn’t Like Vegetarians:”

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!

Patristics Carnival XXXV: Pentecost Edition!

Patristics Carnival XXXII

Blessed Pentecost!  Welcome to Patristics Carnival XXXV!

Since the Easter edition, a plethora of patristics posts have popped up.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

A quote to set the tone, courtesy of Weedon:

And we know that the eunuch who was reading Isaiah the prophet, and did not understand what he read, was not sent by the apostle to an angel, nor was it an angel who explained to him what he did not understand, nor was he inwardly illuminated by the grace of God without the interposition of man; on the contrary, at the suggestion of God, Philip, who did understand the prophet, came to him, and sat with him, and in human words, and with a human tongue, opened to him the Scriptures. Acts 8:26 —St. Augustine, Preface to On Christian Doctrine, Par. 7

Now, let the fun begin.

Miscellany

An Open Orthodoxy writes about Athanasius on the Incarnation.

German for Neutestamentler dialogues with T. Michael Law on Origen.

Roger Pearse has a series of posts on Severian of Gabala, a theological adversary of John Chrysostom, including motives for studying him, a list of works, and some translations.

And last, Will McDavid shares a beautiful reflection on the Resurrection.

Gnostics and other Heretics

Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio has an interview with a contemporary Christian Gnostic.  Larry Hurtado weighs in on the fragment of Jesus’ wife.  Jeff Marx muses on the errors of Gnosticism.

Seumas MacDonald challenges us to reconsider how we label heresies.

Theological Graffiti writes on Justo Gonzalez and Christological heresies.  He continues with a two-part series on an “Open, Unitive, and Liberative Christology”: one and two.

From Our Patron Saint

Rod, who has rekindled this carnival and recruited me onto it, has some work of his own.  Check out his thoughts on grace in Clement in Wesley, on divine apatheia in Moltmann and in the Stoics via Richard Beck.

If you Want More…

Roger Pearse’s commissioned translation of Origen on Ezekiel has just come out.  And if you can get there, check out the Summer Patristic Studies Program at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology this summer.

I hope you have enjoyed this latest installment.  Look forward to September for the next carnival.  I hope you are having a Spirit-filled Pentecost!

Ancient Languages Carnival #1!

Greetings, and welcome to the first ever Ancient Languages Blog Carnival!

Runes, anyone?

Runes, anyone?

Although it’s not recent, I wanted to set the tone for this collection by linking to BuzzFeed’s list of The Ten Coolest Dead Languages.  In the future I hope to have more languages represented.  In the meantime, thank you to all who submitted posts present and past!

Greek

Charles Sullivan details how to translate Greek fathers and how to read miniscule Greek:

The translator cannot assume Church writers follow the same literary style and argumentation represented in the Holy Books. Rather one will discover the majority were influenced by classical Greek writers and thought — some even quoting Aristotle, Plato, and more by name. Many Christian leaders from the second through fifth centuries emerged from Greek rhetorical arts before they became Christians. Their literature reflects either a reaction or assertion to this influence.

Mike Skinner argues that we should re-examine the hina particle in John 9:3:

Consider the implications of John 9:1-3 (NIV):

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

For many, this passage implies that God gives people sicknesses (like blindness or cancer) in order to work towards a greater good.

My friend Brian, at Winds and Waves, breaks down the sound repetitions in the first ten lines of the Odyssey and how they emphasize Odysseus’ character as a wanderer:

Consider: why do we have variations of the word polla at the very beginning of the next two lines? What is Homer trying to emphasize in regard to the follies of Odysseus’ comrades? Why is eipe, from the same root as ennepe, used towards the end of these lines? What is the effect of all those dentals (T, D, and Th) in the final line?

Allison at Polyglossic writes about the Greek roots of linguistic terms:

When the thinkers of continental Europe were developing theories and models that we have come to recognize as modern linguistic science, they drew upon their classical education for their initial ideas of how languages worked.  They also drew upon their knowledge of Greek and Latin words to coin new terms for the new concepts they were developing

Arabic and Hebrew

These posts by the Rabbi Rachel Barenblat (the Velveteen Rabbi) are a few years old, but I really enjoyed reading them for their comparisons of theologically potent cognates in Qur’anic Arabic and Biblical Hebrew.  I enjoyed her translation of one surah into Hebrew:

When I was a student at Bennington, several of my teachers encouraged us to make the translation of poetry a regular part of our writing lives. It enriches one’s attentiveness to linguistic detail, they said, and it gives one a deeper appreciation both of the original poem in the foreign tongue, and of translations into one’s own language. … This process makes me feel differently about these opening verses of the Qur’an. I know them in a new way now.

In another post, she writes about the Arabic ruh and the Hebrew ruah:

In sûrat As-Sajdah (The Prostration), we read that God “originated the creation of man from clay” (32:7) and “shaped him well and breathed into him of His spirit” (23:9.) The sense that ruh is breathed into humanity by God seems to link ruh with rih, wind: God breathes something into man, a kind of divine wind, which transforms the clay into a living being.

The resonance between this Qur’anic usage of ruh and parallel Biblical usage of the Hebrew term ruach is dazzling.

That’s all for now, folks – the first will be the quietest!

If you’d like to submit for next month, do email me at jdhomrighausen@gmail.com.  In the meantime, I hope we can get this off the ground!

Ancient Languages Blog Carnival: Call for Contributers!

In a reply to Brian LePort’s question about biblioblogs, I offered up an idea:

Personally, I would like to see a site like Patheos focusing on learning ancient languages. It could bring together classics, biblical studies, linguists, Sanskritists studying Hinduism or Buddhism, medievalists, etc.

I don’t think this is likely to happen any time soon.  But in the meantime, I am going to see if I can get a blog carnival together on learning and using ancient languages.

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The rules are simple:

  1. The topic can be about any ancient language, from cuneiform to Classical Chinese.  It can be about anything related to the language.  But I’d especially like posts that engage with ancient texts (manuscripts, epigraphy, etc.) and use ancient languages rather than writing about them.  
  2. Of course, I’m hoping all posts can be written in a way that is accessible to those who haven’t studied any ancient languages.
  3. I fully intend this to be cross-disciplinary.  So whether you are a classicist working with Sophocles, a biblical scholar examining Samuel, or a scholar of Hinduism reading Sanskrit, I’m interested in what you have to say.
  4. Feel free to send me stuff that you are submitting to other great blog carnivals, such as the Biblical Studies Carnival or the upcoming Patristics Carnival.  I don’t mind overlap!
  5. Please send your submissions in by Wednesday, April 30, at midnight.  You can comment here or email me at jdhomrighausen@gmail.com.

I look forward to reading your ideas!

The February 2014 Biblical Studies Carnival is here!

I would set aside a few hours to look at these fascinating blog posts.  Being still a neophyte in the world of scripture, I am interesting in keeping my finger on the pulse of what tech-savvy biblical scholars are talking about.

I didn’t make it in (due to my own cluelessness) but Zwinglius Redivivus linked to me anyway.  Also check out Mosissmus Mose’s rogue biblio-blog carnival, which I DID make it into.

Enjoy!