Friday, December 21, 2007

BAR Highlights: 12/21/07

More recent archaeological news from Biblical Archaeology Review:

Herod in Jordan
German excavators have uncovered a monumental building that indicates that King Herod’s control extended further into ancient Jordan than previously known.

A Pea in Tut’s Pod
A pea from the Carnarvon estate in England thought to have come from King Tut’s tomb has been saved from extinction. The fifth Earl of Carnarvon sponsored the expedition that discovered the tomb.

Grappling over Judas

Scholars at a recent meeting argued over the portrayal of the disciple in the Gospel of Judas.

Temple Mount Project to Resume
Israel’s cabinet has instructed the Israel Antiquities Authority to restart work on a new walkway to the Temple Mount. The project had been halted in the wake of violent protests by Muslims who claimed the walkway would damage the Mount.

Spartan Myth
A study of a large pit with human remains suggests that the ancient Spartans did not throw deformed babies away.

A Peek Inside
At the behest of the British Museum, a London hospital has performed a CT scan of a mummy inside a linen and plaster coffin.

Vani, Vidi, Vici
“Wine, Worship & Sacrifice: The Golden Graves of Ancient Vani,” a just-opened exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery in Washington, DC, focuses on the civilization that once flourished in what is now the Republic of Georgia.

A Glimpse Inside the Museum
Officials led a small group of visitors through the Iraq National Museum to highlight restoration efforts and the recovery of looted artifacts.

Sale of Prehistoric Sculpture Smashes Record
The Guennol Lioness, a 5,000-year-old carving barely 3 inches tall and considered by many as one the world’s great works of art, sold for more than $57 million—by far the most ever for a sculpture.

Response on Judas
One of the translators of the Gospel of Judas and an official of the National Geographic Society respond to Prof. April DeConick’s recent criticism of their work.

Ancient Weapons of Mass Destruction

A molecular biologist suggests that rams and donkeys infected with rabbit fever (tularemia) were used as bioweapons in the Anatolian wars 3,300 years ago.

Retrieving a Treasure

Scholars in Israel have called for the return of all fragments of the Aleppo Codex, considered the finest example of the traditional Hebrew text of the Bible. One such fragment, saved from a synagogue in Aleppo, Syria, that had been set on fire by rioters, was recently returned to Israel and scholars think there are more pieces in private hands.

Infant Burial

Archaeologists in Syria have recovered an ancient glass jar containing the ashes of a child. The find was made at Palmyra, home of spectacular Roman-era remains.

The Ark—In Ethiopia?
Smithsonian magazine investigates the claim, popular in some circles, that the Ark of the Covenant is secreted in Africa.

Facts and Anti-Facts

An Israeli scholar writes that the recent granting of tenure to Nadia Abu El-Haj by Barnard College has ramifications well beyond the archaeology of Israel.

Queen’s Palace Found

Archaeologists working just outside Jerusalem’s Old City Walls have uncovered a major structure that they believe was the palace of Queen Helena, who converted to Judaism in the first century.

Several photos of the site and the artifacts found there can be viewed at

A short video report appears at the Jerusalem Post.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Yay for Carolyn Sharp!

And congratulations to Prof. Sharp (who, I'm sure, honed her skills while teaching me last fall):

Carolyn Sharp honored with 2007 Fortress Press Teaching Award

In awarding its 2007 Teaching Award to Carolyn Sharp, associate professor of Hebrew Scriptures at Yale Divinity School, the Fortress Press publishing house called Sharp a “faculty leader” and a “superb teacher of teachers” who has “formed the basis of what many of her colleagues now do to inaugurate new teaching assistants into their own work.”

Formal presentation of the award was made during the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, held Nov. 17-20 in San Diego.

The Fortress Press citation says, “Carolyn Sharp has been recognized as a faculty leader in guiding reflection about the teaching process; in shaping the classroom experience, through the judicious use of written, visual, and audio materials, as a lively involvement in the ongoing history of scripture interpretation; and in developing course materials that are sensitive to the variety of learning styles among her students.”

Sharp credits initiatives with the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, and from the Episcopal Church's Conant Fund, as being instrumental in shaping her pedagogical approach.

From the Wabash Center she cites three initiatives:

1) The 2002-03 Pre-Tenure Workshop for Theological Faculty
2) A collaborative group grant on multiculturalism and interdisciplinarity in theological education, involving eight schools
3) The 2006-07 "Teaching Biblical Exegesis in Theological Schools" consultation, which involves 12 schools

The Conant Fund supported her development of several pedagogical tools for teaching YDS's big introductory course Old Testament Interpretation.

Fortress Press said, “She has developed study guides that introduce her students in a systematic way to an array of interpretive strategies and techniques. She encourages peer learning by expecting students to engage the class as a whole with their own questions and explorations...

“A superb teacher of teachers, she prepares her teaching assistants, mostly doctoral students in religious studies, for the joys and challenges of seminary teaching. She has prepared for them guides to teaching and to resources available to help them develop their teaching skills. Her work with these teaching assistants has formed the basis of what many of her colleagues now do to inaugurate new teaching assistants into their own work.

“Because she is a passionate teacher, dedicated to innovation in service of her students and of her craft, we are pleased to present this award to Carolyn Sharp.”

Sharp's research explores aspects of the composition, redaction, and rhetoric of Hebrew Scripture texts. In recent articles, she has examined the representation of Hebrew Bible traditions in the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls, urged the creation of a multivocal Old Testament theology shaped by the notion of diaspora identity, and explored the potential of Old Testament hermeneutics to address contemporary ecclesial debates.

Her books include Prophecy and Ideology in Jeremiah (T&T Clark, 2003) and Irony and Meaning in the Hebrew Bible (in press with Indiana University Press).

An Episcopal Church Foundation Fellow, Sharp is active in the Episcopal Church, preaching and leading parish study groups on biblical theology and hermeneutics.

Sharp earned a B.A. in religious studies from Wesleyan University, an M.A.R. from YDS, and a Ph.D. (2000) in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament from Yale.

Fortress Holiday Sale

Some nice titles (e.g., Stegemann and Stegemann's The Jesus Movement) at some nice prices... take a look!

Visit to start saving today!

Yay for Margaret Farley!

Congratulations to Prof. Farley. The Grawenmeyer Award is particularly close to my heart, as it's granted by two of my hometown institutions:

Margaret A. Farley, the Gilbert L. Stark Professor Emerita of Christian Ethics at Yale Divinity School, is the recipient of the 2008 Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion for her book Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics (Continuum, 2006). The Grawemeyer Award is among the nation's most prestigious prizes in the field of religion and is awarded jointly by the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and the University of Louisville. Read a full press release here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

BAR Highlights: 12/5/07

More recent archaeological news from Biblical Archaeology Review:

Getting Judas Wrong
April DeConick, a specialist in Gnostic Christianity, writes that the National Geographic Society made important errors in its publication ofThe Gospel of Judas.

Hanukkah Revealed

The story behind the Festival of Lights is much more complex than is usually thought.

Center of Controversy

A Newsweek article profiles the archaeological digs being conducted in Jerusalem—and the debates they spark.

Number Theory
A specialist explains ancient Egyptian methods of counting.

Tourist Damage
The increasing number of visitors to previously secluded areas of Egypt have begun to threaten ancient rock art in the Sahara.

Not So Fast...

An Italian archaeologist has questioned the recent identification of a grotto in Rome as the famed cave where Romulus and Remus were suckled.

Monday, December 3, 2007

RBL Highlights: 12/3/07

A few highlights from this week's Review of Biblical Literature:

Werner H. Kelber
- William A. Graham, Beyond the Written Word: Oral Aspects of Scripture in the History of Religion
- David M. Carr, Writing on the Tablet of the Heart: Origins of Scripture and Literature
- Susan Niditch, Oral World and Written Word: Ancient Israelite Literature
- Martin S. Jaffee, Torah in the Mouth: Writing and Oral Tradition in Palestinian Judaism, 200 BCE-400 CE
- Erhardt Güttgemanns, Offene Fragen zur Formgeschichte des Evangeliums: Eine methodologische Skizze der Grundlagenproblematik der Form- und Redaktionsgeschichte, translated by William G. Doty as Candid Questions Concerning Gospel Form Criticism: A Methodological Sketch of the Fundamental Problematics of Form and Redaction Criticism
- Richard A. Horsley, with Jonathan A. Draper, Whoever Hears You Hears Me: Prophets, Performance, and Tradition in Q
- D. C. Parker, The Living Text of the Gospels

Andrew D. Clarke
Secular and Christian Leadership in Corinth: A Socio-Historical and Exegetical Study of 1 Corinthians 1-6
Reviewed by Barbette Stanley Spaeth

Miriam Pucci Ben Zeev
Diaspora Judaism in Turmoil, 116/117 CE: Ancient Sources and Modern Insights
Reviewed by Joshua Schwartz

Shmuel Safrai, Zeev Safrai, Joshua Schwartz, and Peter J. Tomson, eds.
The Literature of the Sages: Second Part: Midrash and Targum, Liturgy, Poetry, Mysticism, Contracts, Inscriptions, Ancient Science and the Languages of Rabbinic Literature
Reviewed by Jan-Wim Wesselius

Robert C. Tannehill
The Shape of the Gospel: New Testament Essays
Reviewed by Derek S. Dodson

Laurence M. Vance
Greek Verbs in the New Testament and Their Principal Parts
Reviewed by Jutta Henner

Chris VanLandingham
Judgment and Justification in Early Judaism and the Apostle Paul
Reviewed by D. A. Carson

Friday, November 30, 2007

New: From Jesus to the Gospels

A recent announcement from Fortress:

Helmut Koester Reveals Traditions Behind the Gospels

In From Jesus to the Gospels: Interpreting the New Testament in Its Context Helmut Koester, one of today's foremost New Testament scholars, offers a lifetime's insights into the message of the historical Jesus and the practices and trajectories that shaped the Jesus tradition.

Koester's vast knowledge of the ancient world and the literature of the early Christian movements informs these historically and theologically astute essays.

Topics include the early "Q" community, extracanonical sayings of Jesus, early liturgical practices, the theologies of the canonical Gospels, and impulses toward Gnosticism and beyond.

Helmut Koester is John H. Morison Research Professor of Divinity and Winn Research Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Chair of the New Testament Board of the Hermeneia commentary series.

Order your copy today!

BAR Highlights: 11/30/07

More recent archaeological news from Biblical Archaeology Review:

Nehemiah’s Wall Found?

Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar has announced that she has identified parts of the wall said to have been built by Nehemiah and the returnees from the Babylonian Exile.

Cause of the Flood?
An environmental archaeologist suggests that a comet striking the earth caused the great flood preserved in the tales of many cultures.

Inscribed Sarcophagus

German excavators in Egypt have uncovered a Pharaoh’s sarcophagus covered with hieroglyphic writing.

Digging Armageddon

A profile of the dig, and the diggers, at Megiddo. The dig’s Web site now features streaming video; visit

Lupercal Found?
Excavators in Rome have discovered a cave decorated with well-preserved colored mosaics and seashells that may be the cave revered as the place where Romulus and Remus, the mythical founders of Rome, were suckled by a she-wolf.

Synagogue Mosaic Floor Found in Galilee

The synagogue dates to the Roman and Byzantine periods and the mosaic includes a depiction of a workman with a woodworking tool.

Totally Tut
The Times of London, to mark the opening of the Tut exhibit in England, has published a special section all about the Boy King.

Island Inscription
An inscribed piece of coral reef, discovered on an island in the Persian Gulf, has added five new words to the Old Persian lexicon.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Eisenbrauns Commentary Sale

The title says it all. Check these out:

"Exodus 19-40: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary"

by William H. Propp
Anchor Bible - AB
Random House, 2006. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0385246935
List Price: $49.95 Your Price: $29.97

"1 Chronicles 1-9: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary"

by Gary N. Knoppers
Anchor Bible - AB
Doubleday, 2004. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0385469284
List Price: $49.95 Your Price: $29.97

"An Introduction to the Gospel of John"

by Raymond E. Brown
Edited by Francis J. Maloney
Anchor Bible Reference Library - ABRL
Doubleday, 2003. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0385507224
List Price: $30.00 Your Price: $18.00

"Philippians and Philemon"
by Bonnie B. Thurston and Ryan Judith
Sacra Pagina - SP
Liturgical Press, 2004. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0814658202
List Price: $39.95 Your Price: $26.61

"Pastoral Epistles: First Timothy, Second Timothy, and Titus"
by Benjamin Fiore
Sacra Pagina - SP
Liturgical Press, 2007. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9780814658147
List Price: $39.95 Your Price: $26.61


by Alan C. Mitchell
Sacra Pagina - SP
Liturgical Press, 2007. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9780814658154
List Price: $39.95 Your Price: $26.61

"The New Interpreter's Bible Index"

New Interpreter's Bible - NIB
Abingdon, 2004. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0687039169
List Price: $40.00 Your Price: $24.00

"1 and 2 Kings"

by Peter J. Leithart
Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible - BTCB
Brazos Press, 2006. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 1587431254
List Price: $29.99 Your Price: $15.00


by Stanley Hauerwas
Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible - BTCB
Brazos Press, 2006. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 1587430959
List Price: $29.99 Your Price: $15.00

"Psalms: Volume 2: Psalms 42-89"

by John Goldingay
Edited by Tremper Longman III
Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms
Baker Academic, 2007. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9780801027048
List Price: $44.99 Your Price: $26.99

To go directly to the weekly sale, click on this link:

Monday, November 26, 2007

New: Titles from Wipf & Stock/Cascade

A recent announcement from Wipf & Stock/Cascade:

New Releases from Cascade Books

Receive a limited-time 40% discount on or request review or exam copies of these new releases, which made their debut at the recent AAR/SBL conference in San Diego.

Jesus and the Miracle Tradition
Paul J. Achtemeier
ISBN 13: 978-1-59752-364-6 / 274 pp. / $30.00 / paper

Exodus: Let My People Go
Daniel Berrigan
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-105-1 / 182 pp. / $20.00 / paper

Risking Proclamation, Respecting Difference: Christian Faith, Imperialistic Discourse, and Abraham

Chris Boesel
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-523-3 / 306 pp. / $33.00 / paper

Divine Revelation and Human Practice: Responsive and Imaginative Participation
Tony Clark
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-516-5 / 244 pp. / $27.00 / paper

The Life of a Galilean Shaman: Jesus of Nazareth in Anthropological-Historical Perspective
MATRIX: The Bible in Mediterranean Context
Pieter F. Craffert
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-085-6 / 470 pp. / $52.00 / paper

Barrenness and Blessing: Abraham, Sarah, and the Journey of Faith
Hemchand Gossai
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-292-8 / 136 pp. / $17.00 / paper

Wisdom and Spiritual Transcendence at Corinth: Studies in First Corinthians
Richard Horsley
ISBN 13: 978-1-59752-844-3 / 182 pp. / $21.00 / paper

Theology and Culture: A Guide to the Discussion
Cascade Companions
D. Stephen Long
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-052-8 / 124 pp. / $17.00/ paper

Awakening Youth Discipleship: Christian Resistance in a Consumer Culture
Brian J. Mahan, Michael Warren, and David F. White
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-136-5 / 138 pp. / $17.00 / paper

Jesus and the Peasants
MATRIX: The Bible in Mediterranean Context
Douglas E. Oakman
ISBN 13: 978-1-59752-275-5 / 348 pp. / $38.00 / paper

Language, Hermeneutic, and History: Theology after Barth and Bultmann
James M. Robinson
ISBN 13: 978-1-59752-881-8 / 260 pp. / $29.00 / paper

God Gardened East: A Gardener’s Meditation on the Dynamics of Genesis
Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr.
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-434-2 / 184 pp. / $21.00 / paper

Green Witness: Ecology, Ethics, and the Kingdom of God
Laura Ruth Yordy
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-335-2 / 190 pp. / $22.00 / paper

Request review or exam copies here

BAR Highlights: 11/26/07

More recent archaeological news from Biblical Archaeology Review:

Hold Everything!
Construction of a high-rise apartment building in north Tel Aviv was halted after Byzantine remains were uncovered. The site may contain even earlier remains, possibly dating back to the Philistine era.

Tut Opens with Controversy
The King Tut exhibit has moved to London amid tensions over Egypt’s request to get the Rosetta Stone on loan.

“Noah’s Flood” a Boon to Farmers?
An ancient flood that may have inspired the Noah story sparked a major spread of farming in Europe.

Palmyra Finds
Archaeologists in Syria have uncovered a second century cemetery and statues, including a lovely relief showing two traders and camels led by a child.

Museum Facelift
The Israel Museum, a great repository of archaeology and art and an important architectural complex, is undergoing a major renovation.

Siloam Inscription on Loan?

Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, has requested that Turkey lend his country the inscription to mark Israel’s upcoming 60th anniversary.

Ever in Dispute
A San Francisco Chronicle article summarizes how recent archaeological finds in Jerusalem have an impact on the political disputes in the region.

Road and Bath Found in Jerusalem

The second-century alley is believed to have linked the city’s Cardo, the main street, with the bath house and a bridge to the Temple Mount.

Tut’s Curse

The eighth Earl of Carnarvon, the great-grandson of the man who sponsored the discovery of King Tut’s tomb, talks about his ancestor and debunks the supposed Curse of Tut.

RBL Highlights: 11/26/07

A few highlights from this week's Review of Biblical Literature:

Gary M. Beckman and Theodore J. Lewis, eds.
Text, Artifact, and Image: Revealing Ancient Israelite Religion
Reviewed by Diana Edelman

Barry Beitzel, ed.
Biblica The Bible Atlas: A Social and Historical Journey through the Lands of the Bible
Reviewed by Ralph K. Hawkins

Silvia Cappelletti
The Jewish Community of Rome: From the Second Century B.C. to the Third Century C.E.
Reviewed by Judith Lieu
Reviewed by Allen Kerkeslager

Bruce J. Malina and John J. Pilch
Social-Science Commentary on the Letters of Paul
Reviewed by Eduard Verhoef

Jerome Neyrey
The Gospel of John
Reviewed by Dirk van der Merwe

Sunday, November 25, 2007

SBL Panels III: The Books

As many of you already know, I'm hopelessly addicted to religion books. So don't let my previous posts fool you... I was really in San Diego to pick up some books at deep discounts. (I'm pretty proud of myself, actually... I stayed pretty close to my self-imposed limit of $200.) Here's what I brought home:

Rudolf Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament (Baylor University Press)
Although Bultmann is certainly not as fashionable as he once was, and his views on the historical Jesus and first-century Judaism are particularly problematic, I'm still a fan. This is a lovely new edition of a classic work; I was particularly glad that it retained the pagination of the original two-volume edition, as so many older New Testament studies cite it.

Elizabeth Castelli, Martyrdom and Memory (Columbia University Press)
I used this book last semester while taking Martyrs and Martyrdom with Adela Collins, and I'm sure that I'll continue to use it as I explore the subject further. Her conclusion "that martyrdom is not simply an action but rather the product of interpretation and retelling" (p. 173) is, in my mind, quite convincing.

Bruce Chilton et al, The Cambridge Companion to the Bible (Cambridge University Press)

Alright, I'll admit it... one of the reasons I bought this one was that it was cheap (only $10!). Nevertheless, I've since come to recognize it for what it is: one of the best one-volume introductions to the Bible that I've seen in quite some time. The contributors are all top-notch scholars, and the book is filled with photos and dozens of detailed, helpful excurses.

Bruce Chilton and Jacob Neusner, The Brother of Jesus (Westminster John Knox)
Not a new title... but Westminster John Knox offered some nice discounts on their backlist collection, and this one provides some nice background for anyone seeking to understand a critically important yet critically underrepresented leader in early Christianity.

Hubertus Drobner, The Fathers of the Church (Hendrickson)
Thanks to Rick Brannan for pointing me in the direction of this fine volume. I don't know of a better English-language introduction to patristic studies; even the bibliographies are excellent. I'm sure it will provide some excellent additions to my current research project on Arian exegesis of Hebrews.

James D. G. Dunn and Scot McKnight, The Historical Jesus in Recent Research (Eisenbrauns)
I bought this one based upon Chris Stroup's recommendation... so if I eventually decide it's no good, I'm blaming him. ;-) Not that there's much chance of that... Eisenbrauns is to be commended for collecting so many valuable excerpts in a single, accessible volume.

J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Creeds (Continuum)

Another new edition of a classic, essential study. Kelly's Early Christian Doctrines is required reading in Yale's introductory-level patristics courses, and this is the perfect companion volume.

Amy-Jill Levine et al, The Historical Jesus in Context (Princeton University Press)

Another fine one-volume introduction to historical Jesus studies, this time with a nod to the primary sources. The list of contributors is certainly impressive--Dale Allison, Bruce Chilton, John Dominic Crossan, Mary Rose D'Angelo, Amy-Jill Levine, etc. Also included is a concise essay summarizing the various "quests" for the historical Jesus.

Christopher Rowland, Christian Origins (SPCK)

Another title that was particularly attractive because of its low price... but its insistence on the placement of Christianity within the larger Jewish matrix is welcome.

SBL Panels II: Myers, Kaminsky, and Meeks

One of the nice things about the Annual Meeting (its “softer side,” if you will) is that venerable professors, particularly those on the verge of retirement, often receive well-deserved panels of tribute. This was the case with Eric Myers, Duke University’s Bernice and Morton Lerner Professor of Judaic Studies, who is retiring at the end of the academic year. There’s not too much to say about this one… everyone had nice things to say. ;-) It was nice to see one of my favorite undergraduate professors in action; Tom McCullough, one of Myers’ archaeological brethren in the Galilee, chaired the panel. And Sean Freyne gave a paper highlighting the ways in which Myers’ work has influenced historical Jesus studies, which was particularly interesting to me, as I used some of his research on Galilean synagogues while writing a paper on Luke 4:16-30 last year.

I also attended a panel review of Prof. Joel Kaminsky’s new book (which we are using in his Sibling Rivalries course) Yet I Loved Jacob: Reclaiming the Biblical Concept of Election. A number of excellent scholars--including Ellen Davis, Jacqueline Lapsley, and Patrick Miller--took part, and their reviews were all very positive. Ben Sommer was more critical, arguing that the book’s relative avoidance of rabbinic texts and later Jewish literature on election make it more suitable for Christians than Jews. As he understood it, the book was more about Paul, and his particular understanding of election, than about the concept as a whole. Having recently read the book, I would disagree with this assessment. Christian understandings of election are not addressed in any detailed way until the eleventh chapter, where they appear alongside some rabbinic views. Nevertheless, I find myself in agreement with my classmate Christy Groves, who suggested (somewhat cheekily) to Prof. Kaminsky that he should have omitted this chapter from his final work. In my view, the role of election in early Christianity—and early Judaism, for that matter, is much too complicated to be summarized in a handful of pages. It may be fairly accurate to say that early Christianity encouraged conversion as a means of obtaining chosenness while early Judaism did not, but these deceptively clear waters can get pretty muddy pretty fast. A number of Christian communities (some of the Gnostic groups, for example) apparently eschewed the larger world and did not seek converts, while the well-documented activities of the “God-fearers” suggests that Judaism’s barriers of entry and exit were fairly fluid in the Greco-Roman period. It might have been more fruitful to conclude with a more developed set of “concluding reflections” (to use Prof. Kaminsky’s own term). The book brilliantly demonstrates the centrality of election in the Hebrew Bible, and also offers some reassessments of how this critical concept should be understood. As a result, it seems impossible to simply discard election in the name of universalism, as some theologians have done. So… where do we go from here? This is a big question, and I think that it deserves some kind of answer.

The final major panel on my calendar was convened in honor of the release of the second edition of Wayne Meeks’ The Writings of St. Paul. Initially, I expected a mood similar to that of Prof. Myers’ panel; a lot of congratulatory remarks, but not much else. I could not have been more wrong. John Fitzgerald, the co-editor of the new edition, provided some details of its creation, including the difficulties surrounding the decisions to retain, omit, and add texts. Dale Martin (Prof. Meeks’ successor at Yale) drew upon these difficulties to comment upon the myth of the omniscient scholar; despite what some of us might think, it’s simply not possible to read everything! Margaret Mitchell also provided some welcome words, including the ever-appropriate reminder that there is still much to be learned from Paul. The session was ably--and occasionally hilariously--directed by Troels Engberg-Pedersen, whose one-man act included disappearing beneath the podium to reemerge as a “disguised” Alan Segal (who had already left San Diego and thus was unable to deliver his remarks in person).

SBL Panels I: Parker and Bauckham

Note: This post was written last week, but due to the Thanksgiving revelries it languished, unposted, until today. Enjoy!

Thanks to the miracles of modern technology, I am composing this post at an altitude of 30,000 feet as I return home from the AAR/SBL Annual Meeting in San Diego. (Of course, I won’t be able to actually post it until later today; cyberspace yet doesn’t extend this far above ground!) The past few days have been busy, but productive. I attended a number of insightful and stimulating panels and although I don’t have the time nor the dedication to produce detailed reviews of them all, I wanted to list a few personal highlights.

Julie Faith Parker, one of the PhD students in the Hebrew Bible division (as well as an ordained Methodist minister and an all-around wonderful person), led an interactive presentation entitled “You Are a Bible Child,” which invited listeners to experience the lives of some of the marginalized children who appear in the Elisha cycle. To set the mood, Julie passed around coarse cloth, thin bread, dates, and figs and displayed slides while reading a fictional account of a young girl living in pre-exilic Israel, before turning to the biblical texts themselves. It was a masterful presentation. I’m not really a Hebrew Bible guy, but I know good, instructive work when I see it, and this was it.

Adela Collins, one of my favorite professors at Yale, joined with John Kloppenborg and James Crossley in a panel review of Richard Bauckham’s latest provocative offering, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. I was unable to finish the entire book before the review session, but I believe that I read enough to capture its spirit: the canonical gospels were largely based upon eyewitnesses testimony (and the Gospel of John was itself written by an eyewitness). Both ancient historiographical practices and modern memory theory are cited in support of this argument, which stands contrary to the dominant view that the gospels’ authors utilized anonymously transmitted oral tradition in their work. Bauckham places the gospels within an innovative literary category—that of (eyewitness, or reliable) testimony—which presumably provides sufficient justification for readers’ acceptance of their claims.

Of the reviewers, Prof. Collins provided the most direct critiques of the book’s methods. (What would you expect me to say… I’m her student!) She spoke of the “elephant in the room,” which indeed remains very much in the room: the miracle stories, long a plague upon historical Jesus scholars. What are we to make of these stories? Are we to blithely accept them, simply because the supporting witnesses have been deemed “reliable”? Prof. Crossley delivered a number of interesting comments entitled “What if Richard Bauckham Is Right?”, but my personal pressing question in this category remained essentially unasked. Even if the gospels were based upon eyewitness testimony--that is, people who were active disciples of Jesus of Nazareth during his lifetime--how do we address the blatant discrepancies and obvious redactional material? Bauckham himself is forced to admit that several traditions were altered to various degrees by their final authors/editors; how does this admission affect the gospels’ reliability? Aren’t we right back where we started? But all in all, this is a book which will have the biblical studies world in a tither for quite some time.

Friday, November 16, 2007

BAR Highlights: 11/16/07

More recent archaeological news from Biblical Archaeology Review:

The Shadow of Your Smile
New York Times science writer John Noble Wilford, prompted by the first public viewing of King Tut’s face, reflects on our need to see the faces of the ancients.

Gender Issues
A conference in memory of scholar Tikva Frymer-Kensky focused on women in the Bible.

Spot the Pot
Researchers at Idaho State University are developing ways of utilizing artificial intelligence techniques to help identify artifacts.

Another Endangered Site in Iraq
Archaeologists warn that a proposed police barracks in the ancient city of Samarra will endanger antiquities in the area.

Cargo DNA
Researchers have been able to analyze bits of DNA scraped off containers salvaged from a 2,400-year-old shipwreck to reveal the cargo’s contents.

Stone Age Artifacts Returned
About 100 Neolithic items, stolen from a private collection in Greece in 1985, have been returned to their owner, who has donated them to the state.

RBL Highlights: 11/16/07

A few highlights from this week's Review of Biblical Literature:

Hermann Gunkel; trans. by K. William Whitney Jr.
Creation and Chaos in the Primeval Era and the Eschaton: A Religio-Historical Study of Genesis 1 and Revelation 12
Reviewed by Pieter G. R. de Villiers

Stanley Hauerwas
Reviewed by John Nolland

Josep Rius-Camps and Jenny Read-Heimerdinger
The Message of Acts in Codex Bezae: A Comparison with the Alexandrian Tradition; Volume 2: Acts 6:1-12:25: From Judea and Samaria to the Church in Antioch
Reviewed by Jacob M. Caldwell

D. H. Williams, ed.
Tradition, Scripture, and Interpretation: A Sourcebook of the Ancient Church
Reviewed by H. H. Drake Williams III

Baruch Schwartz Lectures on Ezekiel 17

Yet another august visitor is coming to campus... at this rate, I'm going to spend so much time attending these lectures that I'll never get all my work done. I wonder if Dean Attridge would accept that as an excuse. ;-)

Baruch Schwartz, Hebrew University
"The Riddle of the Ungrateful Vine (Ezekiel 17): A New Solution"
Nov. 27, 4:30 pm
RSV Room

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New: SBL Releases and Reprints

A recent announcement from the SBL:


Most new, recent, and backlist titles are available to SBL members at a 40 percent discount during the Annual Meeting Sale. This discount applies to SBL and Brown Judaic Studies titles. It does not apply to titles from Sheffield Phoenix Press. Click here to download an order form. Mail or fax your order by December 15. You can also place your order at the SBL Store, making sure to use the promo code FL2007 at checkout to receive your discount.

Six New Titles from the Society of Biblical Literature

Teaching the Bible through Popular Culture and the Arts
Mark Roncace and Patrick Gray, editors
This resource enables biblical studies instructors to facilitate engaging classroom experiences by drawing on the arts and popular culture. It offers brief overviews of hundreds of easily accessible examples of art, film, literature, music, and other media and outlines strategies for incorporating them effectively and concisely in the classroom.

Paper $37.95 — ISBN 9781589832442— 402 pages — Resources for Biblical Study 53 — Hardback edition

The Hittites and Their World
Billie Jean Collins
Lost to history for millennia, the Hittites have regained their position among the great civilizations of the Late Bronze Age Near East, thanks to a century of archaeological discovery and philological investigation. The Hittites and Their World provides a concise, current, and engaging introduction to the history, society, and religion of this Anatolian empire, taking the reader from its beginnings in the period of the Assyrian Colonies in the nineteenth century B.C.E. to the eclipse of the Neo-Hittite cities at the end of the eighth century B.C.E. The numerous analogues with the biblical world featured throughout the volume together represent a comprehensive and up-to-date survey of the varied and significant contributions of Hittite studies to biblical interpretation.

Paper $29.95 — ISBN 9781589832961— 272 pages — Archaeology and Biblical Studies 7 — Hardback edition

Bakhtin and Genre Theory in Biblical Studies
Roland Boer, editor
This volume offers a meeting between genre theory in biblical studies and the work of Mikhail Bakhtin, who continues to be immensely influential in literary criticism. Here Bakhtin comes face to face with a central area of biblical studies: the question of genre. The essays range from general discussions of genre through the reading of specific biblical texts to an engagement with Toni Morrison and the Bible.

Paper $25.95 — ISBN 9781589832763 — 248 pages — Semeia Studies 63 — Hardback edition

Approaching Yehud: New Approaches to the Study of the Persian Period
Jon L. Berquist, editor
The long-held view that the Persian period in Israel (known as Yehud) was a historically derivative era that engendered little theological or literary innovation has been replaced in recent decades by an appreciation for the importance of the Persian period for understanding Israel’s literature, religion, and sense of identity. A new image of Yehud is emerging that has shifted the focus from viewing the postexilic period as a staging ground for early Judaism or Christianity to dealing with Yehud on its own terms, as a Persian colony with a diverse population. Taken together, the thirteen chapters in this volume represent a range of studies that touch on a variety of textual and historical problems to advance the conversation about the significance of the Persian period and especially its formative influence on biblical literature.

Paper $29.95 — ISBN 9781589831452— 260 pages — Semeia Studies 50 — Hardback edition

This Abled Body: Rethinking Disabilities in Biblical Studies
Hector Avalos, Sarah J. Melcher, and Jeremy Schipper, editors
The burgeoning field of disability studies has recently emerged within the humanities and social sciences and, as a result, disability is no longer seen as the biological condition of an individual body but as a complex product of social, political, environmental, and biological discourses. The groundbreaking essays of This Abled Body engage biblical studies in conversation with the wider field of disability studies. They explore the use of the conceptual category “disability” in biblical and Near Eastern texts and examine how conceptions of disability become a means of narrating, interpreting, and organizing human life. Employing diverse approaches to biblical criticism, scholars explore methodological issues and specific texts related to physical and cognitive disabilities. Responses to the essays by established disability activists and academics working in the social sciences and humanities conclude the volume.

Paper $29.95 — ISBN 9781589831865— 256 pages — Semeia Studies 55 — Hardback edition

The Halakhah of Jesus of Nazareth according to the Gospel of Matthew
Phillip Sigal
This is a republished edition of Sigal’s pioneering work with a new preface by Eugene Fisher of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and an updating epilogue by Thomas Kazen of the Stockholm School of Theology. Sigal argues that, from a halakhic perspective, Jesus’ teachings on Sabbath and divorce in the Gospel of Matthew use the same methods of interpretation as those of his proto-rabbinic contemporaries. The Jesus of the Gospel of Matthew should thus be seen as a charismatic prophetic first-century proto-rabbi— independent in his halakhah and frequently anticipating later rabbinic positions—rather than as transcending proto-rabbinic halakhah or as an adherent of a particular school. Sigal concludes that, had it not been for the expulsion of Christian Jews from the synagogues after 90 C.E., Jesus could have been remembered as one of the rabbis of the Mishnah and that neither Christology nor halakhah were decisive for the break.

Paper $29.95 — ISBN 9781589832824 — 292 pages — Studies in Biblical Literature 18 — Hardback edition

Brown Judaic Studies

On the Scales of Righteousness: Neo-Babylonian Trial Law and the Book of Job

F. Rachel Magdalene

Many commentators have argued that the book of Job contains a trial between God and Job, the nature of which is the subject of lively scholarly debate. In On the Scales of Righteousness, the author brings together her training in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, biblical interpretation, and law to examine the book’s legal language. She maintains that comparative study of the biblical text and the Neo-Babylonian trial system that was in existence at the time the text was most likely written reveals a wealth of information about the trial, and allows the reader to solve several of the literary and theological puzzles in Job. Approximately 340 Neo-Babylonian litigation records were used in this research.

Cloth $59.95 — ISBN 9781930675445 — 384 pages — Brown Judaic Studies 48

The Commentary of Rabbi David Kimhi to Chronicles: A Translation with Introduction and Supercommentary
Ytzhak Berger

Rabbi David Kimhi is among the most important medieval Jewish exegetes on the Prophets and Writings, and this volume provides a translation of his commentary to the biblical book of Chronicles, widely considered to be among his earliest works. In his introduction, the author traces the development of Kimhi’s exegetical methods, and discusses his contribution to the interpretation of Chronicles as well as his attitude toward text-critical methods that had already begun to develop in response to this problematic biblical book. Extensive notes provide elucidation of Kimhi’s comments, comparison to those of his predecessors, and references.

Cloth $44.95 — ISBN 9781930675476 — 300 pages — Brown Judaic Studies 45

Brill Reprints

The Book of Haggai: Prophecy and Society in Early Persian Yehud
John Kessler

This monograph is a study of the perceptions reflected in the book of Haggai regarding the primary social, political, and religious institutions in early Persian Yehud. Special attention is given to the form and function of prophecy, and to the role of the prophet in society. The study includes a history of the criticism of Haggai, a study of the book’s redactional history and socio-political context, and an exegesis and literary analysis of the text. It concludes with an examination of the distinctive perspectives found in the book and the sociological and religious milieu that produced them. The work is particularly useful for its detailed analysis of the biblical text, its attention to recent literature on the early Persian period, and its multidisciplinary and integrative approach.

To learn more about this book or to purchase it at the SBL online store, click here.

The Concept of the Covenant in the Second Temple Period
Edited by Stanley E. Porter and Jacqueline C. R. de Roo

During the reign of Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid Empire, the Jews returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. This Second Temple period is characterized by a changing mode of thinking. This volume traces the development of the concept of the covenant during this important era, by discussing relevant texts among the Apocrypha, such as Wisdom of Solomon; the Pseudepigrapha, especially the Dead Sea Scrolls and Jubilees; and the New Testament, such as the Pauline Letters. The authors deal with interesting concepts related to the idea of the covenant, such as law, wisdom, election, grace, the kingdom of God, and even the role of food. This is an important piece of work for understanding the notion of the covenant in Judaism and Christianity, useful for theologians and historians, as well as students of the respective disciplines.

To learn more about this book or to purchase it at the SBL online store, click here.

Genesis 49 in Its Literary and Historical Context
Raymond de Hoop

This book deals with the so-called "Blessing of Jacob" (Genesis 49) in all its aspects, discussing philological, literary, and historical problems. After an introductory chapter a thoroughly discussed translation of Genesis 49 and an analysis of its poetical structure are presented, followed by the discussion of the genre-definition "tribal saying" (Stammesspruch), and a synchronic and diachronic analysis of Genesis 49 in its literary context (Gen. 47:29-49:33). The remarkable results of this analysis are finally discussed in relation to Israel's history. It is suggested that only part of the "Blessing" functioned within the (originally much shorter) deathbed account (Gen. 47:29-49:33), reflecting the historical situation of the time of origin. Afterwards it was thoroughly worked up into its present shape to meet the conditions of later political development.

To learn more about this book or to purchase it at the SBL online store, click here.

Social Scientific Models for Interpreting the Bible: Essays by the Context Group in Honor of Bruce J. Malina
John J. Pilch

Fourteen members of The Context Group honor Bruce J. Malina and his scholarship in this volume by following his consistent example of developing or using explicit social scientific models to interpret documents from the ancient Mediterranean world. Ordinary features of that cultural world such as gossip, reciprocity, a pervasive military presence, the power of women, and becoming a follower of Jesus stand out with greater clarity in the Bible when a reader understands the cultural matrix in which such social dynamics function. These essays reflect The Context Group’s more than twenty years of collaborative experience in researching the cultural context of the Bible.

New insights are built on the solidly established foundations of their earlier cross-cultural studies. Readers will find the individual essays enlightening and challenging. Taken as a whole they form a valuable resource and a stimulating and helpful aid to further study.

To learn more about this book or to purchase it at the SBL online store, click here.

The Fate of the Dead: Studies on the Jewish and Christian Apocalypses
Richard Bauckham

These studies focus on personal eschatology in the Jewish and early Christian apocalypses. The apocalyptic tradition from its Jewish origins until the early middle ages is studied as a continuous literary tradition, in which both continuity of motifs and important changes in understanding of life after death can be charted. As well as better known apocalypses, major and often pioneering attention is given to those neglected apocalypses that portray human destiny after death in detail, such as the Apocalypse of Peter, the Apocalypse of the Seven Heavens, the later apocalypses of Ezra, and the four apocalypses of the Virgin Mary. Relationships with Greco-Roman eschatology are explored. Several chapters show how specific New Testament texts are illuminated by close knowledge of this tradition of ideas and images of the hereafter.

To learn more about this book or to purchase it at the SBL online store, click here.

The Self as Symbolic Space: Constructing Identity and Community at Qumran
Carol A. Newsom

This volume investigates critical practices by which the Qumran community constituted itself as a sectarian society. Key to the formation of the community was the reconstruction of the identity of individual members. In this way the “self” became an important symbolic space for the development of the ideology of the sect. Persons who came to experience themselves in light of the narratives and symbolic structures embedded in the community practices would have developed the dispositions of affinity and estrangement necessary for the constitution of a sectarian society. Drawing on various theories of discourse and practice in rhetoric, philosophy, and anthropology, the book examines the construction of the self in two central documents: the Serek ha-Yahad and the Hodayot.

To learn more about this book or to purchase it at the SBL online store, click here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Yet Another Fabulous Visitor: Christopher Tyerman

I'm sorry to miss this one... I'll already be winging my way towards San Diego. In my (practically nonexistent) free time, I've been working through Prof. Tyerman's recent magisterial book on the Crusades... thus far it's been nothing but excellent!

Professor Christopher Tyerman (University of Oxford)
"The Medieval Crusades and the Modern World: A Case of Mistaken Identity?
Thursday, November 15th 12:00 PM
ISPS 77 Prospect, Room A001
Professor Tyerman's paper is attached

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Give Yourselves a Pat on the Back, Readers...

Perhaps I should note this on my PhD applications...

cash advance

New: The Power of the Word

A recent announcement from Augsburg Fortress (I don't know how Mark Goodacre gets these before I do... I just got this today!):

Reading Scripture Responsibly in an Imperial Age

What kind of power does the scripture exercise? In The Power of the Word: Scripture and the Rhetoric of Empire Elisabeth Sch|ssler Fiorenza, the premier scholar of feminist biblical interpretation and early Christian history, explores the difficult hermeneutical question.

Because Christian scriptures were formulated in the context of Roman imperial power, they have functioned—and still do so—in the service of empire, legitimating colonialist expansion, racist exploitation, and heterosexist discrimination.

Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza
, Kirsten Stendahl Professor at Harvard University Divinity School, calls for a critical feminist decolonizing reading, capable of identifying both the destructive powers of empire and the radical democratic visions of justice and well-being that are inscribed in the scriptural text.

The author tackles the tough questions of the Bible's role in the world today and how its vision can further a more just world. She shows particularly the radical power of the Word to challenge imperial ways, the humiliation of persons, and the use of religion itself to keep people down, today as then. Finally she offers an understanding of the implications of such a program for the field and practice of biblical studies, as indispensable partner in challenging the status quo.

Order your copy today!

Students of the World, Unite!

For all you students headed to San Diego for the AAR/SBL Annual Meeting:

S17-137 Student Members' Reception
Saturday November 17, 9:30 PM – 11:30 PM
MM Salon 5

The excitement is less than 10 days away!

RBL Highlights: 11/7/07

A few highlights from this week's Review of Biblical Literature:

David E. Aune
Apocalypticism, Prophecy and Magic in Early Christianity: Collected Essays
Reviewed by Lorenzo DiTommaso

James D. G. Dunn
The Partings of the Ways: Between Christianity and Judaism and Their Significance for the Character of Christianity
Reviewed by Peter Carrell

Hans-Josef Klauck
Ancient Letters and the New Testament: A Guide to Context and Exegesis
Reviewed by Pieter J. J. Botha

Derek Krueger, ed.
Byzantine Christianity
Reviewed by Peter-Ben Smit

Hershel Shanks, ed.
Where Christianity Was Born: A Collection from the Biblical Archaeology Society
Reviewed by Jonathan Reed

Cynthia Long Westfall
A Discourse Analysis of the Letter to the Hebrews: The Relationship between Form and Meaning
Reviewed by Gabriella Gelardini

BAR Highlights: 11/7/07

More recent archaeological news from Biblical Archaeology Review:

Fragment of Key Bible Manuscript Returned
A small section of the Book of Exodus from the Aleppo Codex, until 1947 the oldest complete manuscript of the Hebrew Bible, has been given to the State of Israel by the family of a man who saved it during riots in Syria in 1947.

Tut Meets the Public
Egyptian authorities have moved King Tut’s mummy into a special case to protect it from moisture, allowing the public to see the Boy King’s face for the first time.

“The House of Millions of Years”
Archaeologists are uncovering the temple of Amenhotep III, the most impressive temple building of its time.

It’s in the Cards
Remember the deck of cards that featured the 52 Most Wanted officials of Saddam Hussein’s regime? Now American soldiers in Iraq are being given decks to help them recognize and protect ancient artifacts.

Synagogue to Be Linked to Western Wall
Underground passageways will connect a rebuilt synagogue inside the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City to the tunnels alongside the Western Wall.

Muslim Temple Mount Officials Sued
A group of Israeli citizens is taking the Waqf, the Muslim religious trust in charge of the Temple Mount, to court, accusing it of deliberate destruction of Jewish antiquities.

Iraq Dam Danger
Engineers fear that an earthen dam north of Mosul, the site of ancient Nineveh, could collapse any day and cause catastrophic loss of life.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Blogger of the Month: Robert Cargill

Cargill is a doctoral candidate at UCLA specializing in the archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, and he has some insightful comments on these (and other) subjects. Check out his interview with Jim West here.

Gustavo Gutierrez Visits This Week

Gustavo Gutierrez will be lecturing in lovely New Haven this Thursday and Friday:

Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez, a priest of the Dominican order, is widely acknowledged as the "Father of Liberation Theology." As a pastor, teacher and theologian, Fr. Gutierrez has worked to establish the "preferential option for the poor" as an essential dimension of Christian life. He is currently the Cardinal O'Hara Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, and concurrently maintains his decades-long ministry in Lima, Peru, as a priest of Cristo Redentor parish, in the poor urban district of Rimac, and as a teacher and mentor through the Bartolome de las Casas Center, a theological institute he founded for students, ministers and researchers in Peru.

Thursday, November 8, 2007
Lecture: "Archbishop Romero: A Witness of Faith"
4:30 pm
Henry R. Luce Hall (34 Hillhouse Avenue, New Haven)
Reception to Follow, Luce Hall Common Room

Friday, November 9, 2007
Annual More House Lecture: "Option for the Poor and Aparecida"
4:30 pm
The Thomas E. Golden, Jr. Center at Saint Thomas More
(268 Park Street, New Haven)
Reception to Follow

Friday, November 2, 2007

Where in the World...

A number of other bloggers have mentioned John Hobbins' recent map of the biblioblogging world... John was kind of enough to include yours truly under the "Students" category (although I think "Brilliant Students Destined To Change Biblical Studies Forever" would have been a little more fitting).

New: If Richard Hays Loves It, Then I Guess I Do Too!

A recent announcement from Wipf and Stock Publishers:

New from Cascade Books
An Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers

Reading Paul
by Michael J. Gorman

“This splendid introduction to the Apostle Paul is the best book of its kind. . . . [It is] thoroughly clear and readable. . . . I will assign this as required reading for students in my introductory New Testament course and put it in the hands of as many pastors and laypeople as possible.”
Richard B. Hays, The Divinity School, Duke University

“As someone who has gotten to know Paul by deeply immersing himself in Paul’s writings for many years, Michael can be the mutual friend who orients you and helps you relax in the presence of a truly awe-inspiring person.”
Brian McLaren, author of A Generous Orthodoxy

ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-195-2 / 206 pp / $22 retail / paper

Read Complete Description and Endorsements

Read Excerpts (includes Table of Contents)

Request Review or Exam Copy

New: Empire and the Christian Tradition

A recent announcement from Augsburg Fortress:

Reading the Christian Theological Legacy for a New Day

The radically altered situation today in religion, politics, and global communication—what can broadly be characterized as postmodern and post-colonial—necessitates close rereading of Christianity's classical sources, especially its theologians.

In a groundbreaking textbook anthology from Fortress Press, Empire and The Christian Tradition: New Readings of Classical Theologians, twenty-nine distinguished scholars scrutinize the relationship between empire and Christianity from Paul to the liberation theologians of our time.

The contributors discuss how the classical theologians in different historical periods dealt with their own contexts of empire and issues such as center and margin, divine power and social domination, war and violence, gender hierarchy, and displacement and diaspora. Each chapter provides insights and resources drawn from the classical theological tradition to address the current political situation.


Kwok Pui-Lan
is William F. Cole Professor of Christian Theology and Spirituality at Episcopal Divinity School.
Don H. Compier is founding Dean and Professor of Theology at Community of Christ Seminary, Graceland University, Independence, Missouri.
Joerg Rieger is Professor of Systematic Theology at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas.

Order your copy today!

John Ashton Lectures on John

Another exciting lecture slated for next week:

John Ashton
Former University Lecturer in New Testament Studies & Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford

"The Composition of the Fourth Gospel"

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Yale Divinity School
Niebuhr Hall

Reception to follow in the Sarah Smith Gallery

All are welcome and encouraged to attend

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

RBL Highlights: 10/31/07

A few highlights from this week's Review of Biblical Literature:

Karl Donfried
Who Owns the Bible?: Toward the Recovery of a Christian Hermeneutic
Reviewed by J. R. Daniel Kirk

Johanna Dorman
The Blemished Body: Deformity and Disability in the Qumran Scrolls
Reviewed by Jeremy Schipper

Richard Horsley, editor
Oral Performance, Popular Tradition, and Hidden Transcript in Q
Reviewed by Joseph Verheyden

Scott Noegel
Nocturnal Ciphers: The Allusive Language of Dreams in the Ancient Near East
Reviewed by Robert Gnuse

Daniel N. Schowalter and Steven J. Friesen, editors
Urban Religion in Roman Corinth: Interdisciplinary Approaches
Reviewed by Jonathan Reed

Anna Silvas
Gregory of Nyssa: The Letters: Introduction, Translation and Commentary
Reviewed by Ilaria Ramelli

Giuseppe Veltri
Libraries, Translations, and 'Canonic' Texts: The Septuagint, Aquilla and Ben Sira in the Jewish and Christian Traditions
Reviewed by Pancratius Beentjes

Martin Luther Doing What He Was Born to Do

Courtesy of some of my esteemed YDS colleagues:

Martin Luther Does the Chicken Dance

I'm pretty sure this is exactly what happened in 1517. ;-)

BAR Highlights: 10/31/07

More recent archaeological news from Biblical Archaeology Review:

The Rise of the Synagogue
Scholar Lee Levine, of The Hebrew University, is interviewed about the role of the synagogue after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 A.D.

Princeton Punts
The university’s art museum has agreed to return eight ancient artifacts to Italy that are suspected of having been looted from that country, but it is keeping seven others.

Learning Your ABCs
A newspaper profile features archaeologist Ron Tappy, who discusses the abecedary discovered at Tel Zayit and its implications.

Tut Luck
Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s antiquities director, says the boy king died after falling off a chariot while hunting.

Scroll Tunnel?
University of Chicago professor Norman Golb suggests that a recently discovered tunnel in Jerusalem may have been used to move the Temple treasures and the Dead Sea Scrolls away from ancient Judea’s besieged capital.

Canal to Nile Found
The ancient canal, now filled in, linked a quarry to the Nile and allowed builders to transport huge building stones to some of Egypt’s greatest sites.

Scrolls Exhibit, Part II
The San Diego Museum of Natural History exhibit on the scrolls continues with a dozen new fragments on display (Israel only allows 12 scrolls out of the country at a time), including one that contains a longer version of the Ten Commandments.

New: More Titles from SBL Publications

More new releases from the SBL:

The Early Monarchy in Israel: The Tenth Century B.C.E.

Walter Dietrich and Joachim Vette

The Hebrew narrative art achieves its highest level in the stories of Saul, David, and Solomon. But beyond that, the description of these all-too-human characters and the dramatic events of the birth of the Israelite state depicts a change of eras that became determinative for half a millennium of Israelite history. In this volume Dietrich introduces readers to the stories of the early Israelite state from a variety of perspectives: literary-critical, historical, and theological. After tracing how biblical and extrabiblical texts describe the period, Dietrich skillfully untangles the knotty questions related to the history of the period and perceptively examines the development of this literary corpus as well as the other biblical material that came to be associated with it. In a concluding chapter Dietrich revisits the stories of Saul, David, and Solomon to explore what they teach about theological issues of enduring significance, what they teach about God, humanity, the state, the use of force, and the relationship between women and men.

Paper $47.95 — ISBN 9781589832633— 380 pages, 2007 — Biblical Encyclopedia — Hardback edition

Philostorgius: Church History

Philip R. Amidon, translator

Philostorgius (born 368 B.C.E.) was a member of the Eunomian sect of Christianity, a nonconformist faction deeply opposed to the form of Christianity adopted by the Roman government as the official religion of its empire. He wrote his twelve-book Church History, the critical edition of the surviving remnants of which is presented here in English translation, at the beginning of the fifth century as a revisionist history of the church and the empire in the fourth and early-fifth centuries. Sometimes contradicting and often supplementing what is found in other histories of the period, Christian or otherwise, it offers a rare dissenting picture of the Christian world of the time.

Paper $34.95 — ISBN 9781589832152 — 312 pages — Writings from the Greco-Roman World 23 — Hardback edition

John, Jesus, and History, Volume 1: Critical Appraisals of Critical Views

Paul N. Anderson, Felix Just, and Tom Thatcher, editors

Over the last two centuries, many scholars have considered the Gospel of John off-limits for all quests for the historical Jesus. That stance, however, creates a new set of problems that need to be addressed thoughtfully. The essays in this book, reflecting the ongoing deliberations of an international group of Johannine and Jesus scholars, critically assess two primary assumptions of the prevalent view: the dehistoricization of John and the de-Johannification of Jesus. The approaches taken here are diverse, including cognitive-critical developments of Johannine memory, distinctive characteristics of the Johannine witness, new historicism, Johannine-Synoptic relations, and fresh analyses of Johannine traditional development. In addition to offering state-of-the-art reviews of Johannine studies and Jesus studies, this volume draws together an emerging consensus that sees the Gospel of John as an autonomous tradition with its own perspective, in dialogue with other traditions. Through this challenging of critical and traditional assumptions alike, new approaches to John’s age-old riddles emerge, and the ground is cleared for new and creative ways forward.

Paper $37.95 — ISBN 9781589832930— 356 pages — Symposium Series 44 — Hardback edition

The Lord's Supper in the New Testament

Albert Eichhorn with an introductory essay by Hugo Gressmann
Translated by Jeffrey F. Cayzer

This work, the inaugural volume in a new SBL series devoted to preserving and promoting seminal biblical scholarship from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, offers the first English translation of Albert Eichhorn’s influential Das Abendmahl im Neuen Testament. Eichhorn’s penetrating analysis of the Lord’s Supper traditions in this work exemplifies the qualities for which he was so highly esteemed: the sure ability to distinguish layers of tradition within the text, the full appreciation of the role of early Christian worship in shaping the reports about Jesus’ life, the forthright acknowledgement of the difficulty of ascertaining the original historical events, and the unflinching recognition of the influence of Near Eastern and Hellenistic religions upon Christian tradition, even in its earliest stages. To set Eichhorn himself in his historical and intellectual context, this volume also offers the first English translation of Hugo Gressmann’s biographical essay: “Albert Eichhorn and the History of Religion School.”

Paper $14.95 — ISBN 9781589832749 — 112 pages — History of Biblical Studies 1 — Hardback edition

Daughter Zion Talks Back to the Prophets: A Dialogic Theology of the Book of Lamentations

Carleen R. Mandolfo

Daughter Zion Talks Back to the Prophets offers a new theological reading of the book of Lamentations by putting the female voice of chapters 1–2 into dialogue with the divine voice of prophetic texts in which God represents the people Israel as his wife and indicts them/her for being unfaithful to him. In Lam 1–2 we hear the “wife” talk back, and from her words we get an entirely different picture of the conflict showcased through this marriage metaphor. Mandolfo thus presents a feminist challenge to biblical hegemony and patriarchy and reconstrues biblical authority to contribute to the theological concerns of a postcolonial world.

Paper $24.95 — ISBN 9781589832473 — 160 pages — Semeia Studies — Hardback edition

The Bible and Critical Theory

The latest edition of The Bible and Critical Theory (Vol.3, No. 3) has been released. Non-subscribers who wish to gain access to these and other articles (and reviews) may subscribe here.

What is The Bible and Critical Theory?
Roland Boer, Julie Kelso

The transgression of Maacah in 2 Chronicles 15:16: A simple case of
idolatry or the threatening poesis of maternal ‘speech’?

Julie Kelso

Textually violating Dinah: Literary readings, colonizing
interpretations, and the pleasure of the text

Todd Penner, Lilian Cates

The poet is always in exile: Poetry and mourning in Psalm 137
Rose Lucas

One in Christ who lives within: Dispersive universality and the
pneuma-somatics of identity

Derek Woodard-Lehman

The actuality of Karl Kautsky: On materialist reconstructions of ancient
Israel and early Christianity

Roland Boer

Che Vuoi? : Politico-philosophical remarks on Leo Strauss’ Spinoza
Matthew Sharpe

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Accordance 7.4

Accordance Bible Software (my bible software of choice) has released another update to their excellent product. Version 7.4 may be downloaded here. There aren't a lot of exciting new features, but the development team is promising to add some in the near future... maybe before SBL next month? Maybe?

Sean Freyne: Still Circling the Northeast

Thanks to Deidre Good for this announcement:

Thursday, November 8
The Center for the Study of James the Brother at Bard College presents a lecture by renowned biblical scholar Sean Freyne entitled “Retrieving James/Yakov, the Brother of the Lord: From Legend to History” Free and open to the public.
4:00 p.m.
Weis Cinema, Bertelsmann Campus Center

For those unable to attend the lecture at the College, it is available via a live webcast, followed by a question-and-answer session with Freyne at

Although Annandale-on-Hudson is more than two hours from New Haven, I'm thinking about making the trip, as James the brother of Jesus is one of my principle areas of interest. Plus, when Prof. Freyne was here last week he was kind enough to ask for a copy of my own paper on James, which I presented at last year's SBL Annual Meeting. I'm sure he was so moved by my breathtaking scholarship that he'll cite me at length. ;-)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New: Titles from SBL Publications

New releases from the SBL:

The Quest for the Historical Israel: Debating Archaeology and the History of Early Israel

Israel Finkelstein and Amihai Mazar
Edited by Brian B. Schmidt

Three decades of dialogue, discussion, and debate within the interrelated disciplines of Syro-Palestinian archaeology, ancient Israelite history, and Hebrew Bible over the question of the relevance of the biblical account for reconstructing early Israel’s history have created the need for a balanced articulation of the issues and their prospective resolutions. This book brings together for the first time and under one cover, a currently emerging “centrist” paradigm as articulated by two leading figures in the fields of early Israelite archaeology and history. Although Finkelstein and Mazar advocate distinct views of early Israel’s history, they nevertheless share the position that the material cultural data, the biblical traditions, and the ancient Near Eastern written sources are all significantly relevant to the historical quest for Iron Age Israel. The results of their research are featured in accessible, parallel syntheses of the historical reconstruction of early Israel that facilitate comparison and contrast of their respective interpretations. The historical essays presented here are based on invited lectures delivered in October of 2005 at the Sixth Biennial Colloquium of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism in Detroit, Michigan.

Paper $24.95 — ISBN 9781589832770 — 232 pages — Archaeology and Biblical Studies 17 — Hardback edition

Seeking the Favor of God, Volume 2: The Development of Penitential Prayer in Second Temple Judaism

Mark J. Boda, Daniel K. Falk, and Rodney A. Werline, editors

The essays collected in this volume investigate the development of prayers of penitence within Jewish literature of the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The book provides a critical overview of the present state of research on these prayers, and leading experts in the field use a variety of methodologies to investigate afresh various texts from the Hebrew Bible, apocryphal (deuterocanonical) and pseudepigraphical works, and the Qumran corpus in order to provide new insights into this prayer tradition. Contributors include Russell C. D. Arnold, Esther G. Chazon, Daniel K. Falk, LeAnn Snow Flesher, Michael H. Floyd, Judith H. Newman, Bilhah Nitzan, Eileen Schuller, Pieter M. Venter, and Rodney A. Werline.

Paper $39.95 — ISBN 9781589832787 — 300 pages — Early Judaism and Its Literature 22 — Hardback edition

The "We" Passages in the Acts of the Apostles: The Narrator as Narrative Character

William Sanger Campbell

This book explores the narrative significance of the “we” passages in Acts within the boundaries of acceptable ancient grammatical practice. It contends that the occasional first-person plural narrator represents a character whose entrance at crucial moments in Paul’s career parallels the role of Barnabas, the apostle’s earlier companion. Although consistent with the grammatical practice of ancient writers, the use of the “we” style in Acts nonetheless represents a variation of those conventions because the author of Acts wrote anonymously and never claimed personal participation in the events narrated. In analyzing the function of the narrator as narrative character, the book presents narrative literary strategy as a fruitful approach to these enigmatic texts whose narrative possibilities have in the past been subordinated to their historical potential.

Paper $19.95 — ISBN 9781589832053— 164 pages — Studies in Biblical Literature 14 — Hardback edition

Studia Philonica Annual XIX, 2007

David T. Runia and Gregory E. Sterling, editors

The Studia Philonica Annual is a scholarly journal devoted to furthering the study of Hellenistic Judaism, and in particular the writings and thought of the Hellenistic-Jewish writer Philo of Alexandria (circa 15 B.C.E. to circa 50 C.E.).

Cloth $39.95 — ISBN: 9781589832954 — 260 pages

Peter in the Gospel of John: The Making of an Authentic Disciple

Bradford B. Blaine Jr.

In this narrative-critical study Bradford B. Blaine Jr. argues, against conventional scholarship, that John’s Gospel presents Peter and the Beloved Disciple not as competitors but as colleagues who together serve as composite halves of the ideal Johannine Christian, with Peter representing praxis and John representing faith. Not only does Peter carry out activities fundamental to Johannine discipleship during Jesus’ earthly ministry, which include believing in Jesus, following him, and publicly confessing him, but he also demonstrates post-Easter missionary skills and is invested by the risen Jesus with pastoral responsibilities. Finally, in dying a martyr’s death, Peter glorifies God. Peter, in fact, is depicted in this Gospel as an inspirational founding member of the Johannine community.

Paper $29.95 — ISBN 9781589832725— 240 pages — Academia Biblica 27 — Hardback edition