Friday, October 5, 2007

BAR Highlights: 10/5/07

More recent archaeological news from Biblical Archaeology Review. This week's offering includes a link to Eric Cline's article on archaeology in the Boston Globe, which a number of bloggers have already mentioned.

Was Tut Black?
Zahi Hawass, head of Egypt’s antiquities department, has responded to critics who want to recognize King Tut as Black. "Egyptians are not Arabs and are not Africans despite the fact that Egypt is in Africa," he says.

Fighting the Nonsense

Archaeologist Eric Cline says it’s time he and his colleagues started challenging crackpot theories and amateur enthusiasts.

Tuty Fruity
When Howard Carter discovered King Tut’s tomb in 1922, he apparently missed some things: Investigators have recovered preserved baskets of fruit and intact pots from a treasure room next to the Boy King’s mummy.

A Guide to Apollonia
The Jerusalem Post profiles this scenic site, with a history ranging from the Phoenicians to the Crusaders.

Nighttime Fishing
Excavators off the coastal city of Dor have recovered a wire basket used for fishing at night. A fire in the basket attracted and illuminated fish.

Anchor Bible Hums New Tune: Boolah, Boolah
The distinguished Bible commentary and reference series has been acquired by Yale University Press.

Back to the Fortress
Iranian and French excavators are returning for a second season of digging at a fortress that served as the spring capital of Parthian kings.

OUP Fall Sale 2007

Tis the season for book sales... Oxford University Press' Fall Sale is now underway. The complete list of religion offerings may be viewed here. It looks like there are some pretty good bargains to be had, including...

*The Oxford Bible Commentary (regular price: $75.00 sale price: $40.00)

* The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought (regular price: $75.00 sale price: $33.00)

*The Encyclopedia of Christianity (regular price: $125.00 sale price: $65.00)

*The Jewish Study Bible (regular price: $45.00 sale price: $24.75)

... so many books, so little money!

"Essential Guides" Sale at Eisenbrauns

For the next ten days, Eisenbrauns is offering all of the titles in Abingdon's "Essential Guides" series at a 40% discount. This is an opportunity to snatch up some excellent introductory texts at low, low prices. The complete list of available titles may be viewed here, but highlights include...

"The Apostolic Fathers: An Essential Guide"
by Clayton N. Jefford
Abingdon, 2005. Paper. English.
ISBN: 068734204X
List Price: $15.00 Your Price: $9.00

"Christian Ethics: An Essential Guide"

by Robin W. Lovin
Abingdon, 2000. Paper. English.
ISBN: 9780687054626
List Price: $15.00 Your Price: $9.00

"Church History: An Essential Guide"
by Justo L. Gonzalez
Abingdon, 1996. Paper. English.
ISBN: 9780687016112
List Price: $15.00 Your Price: $9.00

"Feminism and Christianity: An Essential Guide"
by Lynn Japinga
Abingdon, 1999. Paper. English.
ISBN: 9780687077601
List Price: $15.00 Your Price: $9.00

"Rabbinic Literature: An Essential Guide"
by Jacob Neusner
Abingdon, 2005. Paper. English.
ISBN: 0687351936
List Price: $16.00 Your Price: $9.60

"The Roman Empire and the New Testament: An Essential Guide"
by Warren Carter
Abingdon, 2006. Paper. English.
ISBN: 0687343941
List Price: $16.00 Your Price: $9.60

"Worship in Ancient Israel: An Essential Guide"
by Walter Brueggemann
Abingdon, 2005. Paper. English.
ISBN: 0687343364
List Price: $14.00 Your Price: $8.40

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Is Your Relationship with God Monogamous?

Another insightful article from The Onion. ;-)

Im In An Open Relationship With The Lord

The Onion

I'm In An Open Relationship With The Lord

With Jesus as my personal Savior, I felt like I had it all. But then we hit a rough patch, and before long, I was beginning to question both my...

A Priest and a Rabbi...

Prof. Joel Kaminsky (currently a visiting profssor at YDS; normally seen gracing the halls of Smith College, Northampton, MA) has quickly established himself as one of the funniest scholars I've ever encountered. Now, I know that "funny" and "scholar" are not normally used in the same sentence (at least, not in a positive way), but check out this joke, which appeared during our most recent "Sibling Rivalries" class. Not only was it funny, but it also had something to do with what we were talking about at the time! (Now that Yale's reading week--and a brief vacation in Louisville--is nearly upon us, I should have time to report on the course's academic side, in addition to its humorous one.)

A Roman Catholic priest and a rabbi sit down together in a bar and begin discussing their respective vocations. The rabbi asks the priest about his opportunities for advancement within the church hierarchy. The priest replies that although he currently serves a single small parish, he could someday become the archbishop of a major metropolitan area. "Is that it?" asks the rabbi. The priest hesitates for a moment, and responds that while the chances are much more remote, he might one day be chosen to serve as a cardinal. Once again the rabbi asks, "Is that it?" The priest (who is probably becoming a little annoyed at this point) replies that he is at least eligible to be elected to the papacy, and thus become the head of the entire church and God's leading representative on earth. But much to his surprise, the rabbi asks yet again, "Is that it?" The priest sarcastically exclaims, "What? Do you think that I can actually become God?"

To which the rabbi responds, "Why not? One of our boys did it."

More Exciting Markdowns From Dove!

Dove Booksellers has compiled another fine list of monthly markdowns, including works published by Brill, T & T Clark, and Eerdmans. Although I normally select a few choice items for your viewing (and potentially buying) pleasure, I will refrain for the moment (because I've been folding laundry and I'm tired), and simply allow you to peruse the list for yourselves:

Dove Markdowns: October 2007

Happy Hunting!

New Edition: The Shadow of the Galilean

A recent announcement from Augsburg Fortress Publishers:

The Shadow of the Galilean:
The Quest of the Historical Jesus in Narrative Form

A contemporary classic, The Shadow of the Galilean is an acclaimed and popular work of historical fiction about Jesus. Written by one of this generation's great New Testament scholars, Gerd Theissen, the work vividly captures the tensions and turmoil of Jesus' time, as well as the enormous attraction and unpredictability of the figure of Jesus as he affects his Jewish environment under Roman sway.

First published in 1987 by Fortress Press, this 20th anniversary edition includes careful documentation in the footnotes showing that much of the narrative is based on ancient resources and also includes a new Afterword from the author.

"An achievement in 'narrative theology', illuminating the social world of Jesus from rich sources and imaginative reconstructions. Theissen's book combines scholarship and story. The author supplements his fictional creations with letters to a professional colleague, Dr. Kratzinger, illuminating methodology. The book should be a boon to preachers of the Gospels."
John Reumann, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia

Gerd Theissen is Professor of New Testament at the University of Heidelberg, Germany.

Order your copy today!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Luke the Historian? Or the Storyteller?

On The Forbidden Gospels Blog, April DeConick asks a very important question: Is Luke a trustworthy historian? Or, to put it differently, "Why is Acts written off today as a Lukan myth with little or no historical value? Why do scholars who wish to argue for the historicity of elements of Acts have to go through an inordinate amount of justification before doing so?" She presents a number of arguments for an increased appreciation of Luke as a historian, including the contention that Luke does not redact Mark (or Q, for that matter) as much as his Matthean counterpart, as well as Luke's own admission that he relied upon earlier sources as the basis for his own gospel (Luke 1:1-3). I'm not a Q scholar, and therefore am not qualified to evaluate his use of this source (although Mark Goodacre, who is an expert in this field, has raised a number of interesting points in his own response). Furthermore, I'm certainly willing to grant that Luke probably had access to written and/or oral sources during the composition of Acts. I find it likely that there are at least some vestiges of authentic first-century Christianity in this work.

But it seems to me that a number of pericopes in Luke-Acts show signs of subtle yet unmistakable redaction. First among these is the Lukan account of Jesus' return to Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30), which has been dramatically expanded (to include Jesus' participation in the local synagogue, his public self-identification as the fulfillment of prophecy, and the Nazarenes' unsuccessful attempt on his life) and placed at the inception of his ministry. It cannot be a coincidence that the basic narrative elements of this meticulously crafted episode--Jesus' status as an unabashed prophetic messiah, his initial confession of said status among his own countrymen, their ignorant and futile response, and his subsequent departure to carry his message elsewhere--represent a microcosm of Luke's vision of the rise and spread of the Christian movement which is revealed in the following chapters. There may well be a kernel of history here, but it is difficult to crack.

Luke's description of the "Jerusalem Conference" (Acts 15) is another provocative example, as most scholars assume that the events at the heart of this description are identical to those mentioned by Paul in Galatians (Gal. 2:1-10). If this is indeed the case, then the critically sensitive reader is faced with a number of perplexing problems. Paul declares that he attended the meeting only in response to a (presumably divine) revelation; Luke states that Paul and Barnabas were appointed to attend by the Antiochene church. Paul identifies himself as the one "entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised" (2:7); Luke includes a speech in which Peter identifies himself as "the one through whom the Gentiles would hear the good news and become believers" (Acts 15:7). Paul hints that the ultimate decision to allow Gentiles to "convert" to Christianity without adopting Jewish practices was a joint one; Luke grants the last word to James the brother of Jesus, who abruptly brings the debate to a close by intoning, "I have reached the decision that we should not trouble those Gentiles who are turning to God, but we should write to them to abstain only from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from whatever has been strangled and from blood" (15:19-20; italics added). One need not assume that one of these depictions is true and the other false; personally, I find it much more likely that both writers were adapting the historical framework to serve their larger apologetic needs. Given the fact that ancient historiography cannot and should not be measured according to the modern obsession with "objective history," no negative stigma should accompany the conjecture that Luke, or Paul, or any other early Christian writer did not faithfully represent the actual historical record. It simply serves as a reminder to the reader not to blithely accept the text at face value.

It must be noted that the above examples are only a minute sampling of the traditions found in Luke-Acts, and certainly do not invalidate DeConick's basic thesis that there is some authentic historical material to be had in these works. But even if she is correct and we are in danger of "throwing the baby out with the bath water," it's still time to take the baby out of the bath. We just have to be careful while doing it. ;-)

New From Sheffield Phoenix

Recent publication announcements from Sheffield Phoenix Press (via their North American distributor, the SBL):

Incarnate Word, Inscribed Flesh: John's Prologue and the Postmodern

Ela Nutu

In this ground-breaking study, Nutu offers an unremittingly postmodern scrutiny of the Logos as the incarnate word that becomes visible as it is inscribed in human flesh.
Bible in the Modern World, 6
ISBN: 978-1-905048-25-0 € Cloth $85.00 € August 2007
If you are within North America, click here. If you are outside of North America, click here.

In Other Words: Essays on Social Science Methods and the New Testament in Honor of Jerome H. Neyrey

Edited by Anselm C. Hagedorn, Zeba A. Crook, Eric Stewart

In this Festschrift to Jerome H. Neyrey, the contributors (David Aune, Zeba Crook, Craig deVos, John H. Elliott, Philip Esler, Bruce Malina and John Pilch, Halvor Moxnes, Douglas Oakman, Carolyn Osiek, Eric Stewart, Gerd Theissen) notably advance the cause of social-scientific New Testament study.
The Social World of Biblical Antiquity, Second Series, 1
ISBN: 978-1-905048-39-7 € Cloth $95.00 € August 2007
If you are within North America, click here. If you are outside of North America, click here.

The Birth of Moses and the Buddha: A Paradigm for the Comparative Study of Religions

Vanessa R. Sasson

Responding to a recent upsurge of Jewish interest in Buddhism, Sasson undertakes the first serious academic effort to uncover the common ground between the founders of the two religions, Moses and the Buddha.
Hebrew Bible Monographs, 9
ISBN: 1-905048-38-6 € Cloth $85.00 € September 2007
If you are within North America, click here. If you are outside of North America, click here.

Text and Community: Essays in Memory of Bruce M. Metzger (vol. 1)

Edited by J. Harold Ellens

The first of two wide-ranging and often innovative volumes created in Metzger's honor, subtitled Interpretation of the Text for the Community, falls into two parts: The Nature of the Bible: Manuscripts, Texts, and Translation (e.g. an ancient papyrus biblical fragment, biblical exegesis in the third world), and Understanding the Bible: Hermeneutics (e.g. biblical interpretation in Paul in its cultural context).
New Testament Monographs, 19
ISBN: 1-906055-15-7 € Cloth $85.00 € September 2007
If you are within North America, click here. If you are outside of North America, click here.

Text and Community: Essays in Memory of Bruce M. Metzger (vol. 2)

Edited by J. Harold Ellens

The second volume, on Implementation of the Text in the Community, has as its two parts, The Church and the Bible: Pulpit and Parish (e.g. pastoral care and the Bible) and The Academy, Science, Culture, Society, and the Bible (e.g. psychological method and the historical Jesus, Jungian and Freudian perspectives on gender in the Gospel of John).
New Testament Monographs, 20
ISBN: 978-1-906055-00-0 € Cloth $85.00 € September 2007
If you are within North America, click here. If you are outside of North America, click here.

New Seals and Inscriptions, Hebrew, Idumean, and Cuneiform

Edited by Meir Lubetski

This collection of fifteen papers is a significant addition to our textual evidence for the world of the Bible: it presents over fifty inscriptions, tablets and seals from the collections of Shlomo Moussaieff, in Hebrew, Idumean, and cuneiform. Most of these texts are being published here for the first time.
Hebrew Bible Monographs, 8
ISBN: 1-905048-35-1 € Cloth $95.00 € September 2007
If you are within North America, click here. If you are outside of North America, click here.