Keep ’em coming back with the December Biblical Studies Carnival

We're here; we blog about the bible; get used to us.
We’re here; we blog about the Bible; get used to it.

Charles Spurgeon is reported to have said, “If you have to give a carnival to get people to come to church, then you will have to keep giving carnivals to keep them coming back.”

And so we who blog in the fields of academic biblical studies and theology keep giving carnivals.

So let Words on the Word be among the first to wish you and yours a Happy New Year! Let’s welcome the year ahead with a recap of what went on in the so-called biblioblogosphere in December 2012.

Newtown, Connecticut, December 14

On December 14 there was the horrible news of a shooter who killed 26 other people at an elementary school in Newtown, CT, 20 of them young children. Peter Enns shared some thoughts from an unsettled state. Jim West wrote about it quite a bit and excoriated the NRA.

Shannon Hicks/Newtown Bee, via Associated Press

Nick Norelli rightly called the tragedy senseless. Robert Cargill weighed in on “The guns Adam Lanza used….” James Pate wondered whether the shooter had been loved in his life. Julie Clawson of onehandclapping mourns in the darkness on Advent 3. And Brian LePort–after posting his own reflections–provided a roundup of posts on the shooting. Lord, have mercy.

Year-End Lists, Learnings and New Year’s Resolutions

2012 to 2013Scot McKnight lists the “Jesus Creed Books of the Year” here. Near Emmaus has the “Top Ten Books I Read This Year (2012).” Joel “1.21 JiggaWatts of Mark but not Q” Watts offered his books of the year. Nathan Smoyer shared 24 lessons learned in 2012. And here is Phil Long of Reading Acts with the 10 books in biblical studies he found most useful this past year. T.M. Law gives us “Tops for Twelve in Jewish and Christian History,” after “tops” lists on Bible and the HB/OT/LXX. Here is Robert Cornwall’s book list for 2012. Here is Nick Norelli’s book review list spanning this last year. Mark Roberts offers a Psalm and a prayer for the new year. Cliff at Theological Musings posts about books to read in 2013.

Joel lists the top five events in biblioblogging in 2012, while Rod at Political Jesus adds to the list.

While these next two weren’t year-end lists, per se, The Jesus Blog offers recommendations for five books to read on the historical Jesus, while Nijay Gupta suggests “five new interesting books on Jesus and the Gospels.”

NA28 Reviews

na28

The reviews of the new Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament started rolling in. First note: it’s online for free. No apparatus, but the text is all here.

Reviewers in December included: Dan Wallace, Jim West (some nice pictures here, review here), Rick Brannan (here and here). Here is Chris Keith on Jude 5. And BLT (Bible * Literature * Translation) analyzes The Rhetoric of NA28©. Consider BLT’s post a meta-review of sorts.

Hebrew Bible/OT and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Brian Davidson at LXXI uses BibleWorks 9 to do a complex morphological search on a word in Genesis 10:19. A new blog, This Does What Now?, started in December, with a first entry on information structure in Jonah 1. John Cook discusses valency and verb theory in Biblical Hebrew.

The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library puts the DSS “finally at your fingertips.” As here:

8Hev DSS

A note in the about section of the site reads:

With the generous lead support of the Leon Levy Foundation and additional generous support of the Arcadia Fund, the Israel Antiquities Authority and Google joined forces to develop the most advanced imaging and web technologies to bring to the web hundreds of Dead Sea Scrolls images as well as specially developed supporting resources in a user-friendly platform intended for the public, students and scholars alike.

A number of bloggers wrote about this, not a few of whom Jim McGrath links to.

That wasn’t all that went online in December. Evangelical Textual Criticism notes quite a few other manuscripts that are now online. (As proven by the fact that every word of that last phrase is its own hyperlink.) Charles Halton of awilum.com highlights the availability of A. Leo Oppenheim’s Ancient Mesopotamia as a free pdf. Readers of this carnival may also like to take some time with ASOR’s weekly archaeology roundups in December, here, here, and here.

Septuagint

December saw a plethora of posts about παρθένος/עלמה in Isaiah 7:14, and Matthew’s use of that verse. Here is T.M. Law, saying that Greek Isaiah’s use of παρθένος for עלמה is not without precedent in the LXX (“The Greek translator of Isaiah used a perfectly acceptable rendering for עלמה.”). Here’s the Jesus Creed on the virgin birth. Krista Dalton notes, “[T]he author of Matthew is not saying that Isaiah was envisioning the birth of Jesus.” Kevin Brown of Diglotting posts here about it. And, looking at hermeneutics more generally, Brian LePort suggested three paradigms to use in studying the virgin birth.

IsaiahSpeaking of Greek Isaiah… more than 150 of us are reading through Greek Isaiah in a Year. And writing about it, too. Suzanne at BLT covered appetite and desire, synonymous phrases (particularly at issue when comparing Isaiah 2 and Micah 4), and μητροπολις πιστη σιων as “the mother city of Zion.” Bob MacDonald posted on Isaiah 3 and 6. Brian LePort posted notes from Isaiah 1:1-25, 1:26-2:21, 2:22-3:21, and 3:22-5:16.

J.K. Gayle at The WOMBman’s Bible (“An Outsider’s Perspective on the Hebrew Males’ Hellene Book”) posted reflections from Greek Isaiah not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6, but 7 times in December. Set aside some time and read them all.

Codex Sinaiticus dropped in price to just under $200 at CBD this month–a facsimile edition, that is. Theophrastus of BLT notes it here. He will later lament (which I, too, lament) that Oxford University Press no longer prints their wonderful Comparative Psalter. And while we’re on those Ψαλμοὶ, did their Greek translator(s) have Aristotle and Greek rhetoric in mind?

Read the Fathers posted a nice introduction to the Septuagint. (Go here for more info about taking part in that reading group.)

New Testament and Greek

Greek spelling: YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG
Greek spelling: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG

Rod Decker wrote about understanding Greek and how to teach it. (Hint, via Decker: you can’t skip first year Greek.) Daniel Street suggested a Greek Students’ Liberation Movement when it comes to pedagogy.

Anthony Le Donne is taking on the Wikipedia entry on “Historical Jesus” (best biblioblog comment of the month: here). James Tabor asked how December 25 got to be the day we observe Jesus’ birthday (with more thoughts here). Mark Goodacre produced a Christmas NT Pod in which he “explores the differences between the Birth Narratives in Matt. 1-2 and Luke 1-2 and asks how this can be the case if Luke is familiar with Matthew.” The Sacred Page produced a podcast on “the first Christmas.” For a fresh translation of Luke 1:34-38 (with the Greek reproduced beneath the English), see “She spoke yet-Miriam did.” Daniel Street even gave us some Christmas songs in Greek!

Brian Davidson connects the salt verse of Matthew 5:13 to the rest of the beatitudes.

Theological Musings reviewed Charts on the Book of Hebrews, as well as Donald Hagner’s New Testament introduction.

James Tabor points out a common question readers of Paul come to: “Who is a Jew?” (However one answers the question, “Who Said Jews Aren’t Interested in Biblical Theology?” asks Joseph Kelly. And James G. Crossley notes some cautions here.) Readers of Paul also ask (and argue) about the “faith of Christ.” Kait Dugan relates pistis Christou to discipleship. Steven E. Runge’s NT Discourse blog featured an extended note on “exceptional exceptive clauses,” with Galatians 2:16 in view.

Theology

rublev icon

Anglican minister Rach Marszalek calls for nuance in discussions on the Trinity, as well as an appreciation of “the perichoretic beauty” of the Same. Read her “Eternal functional subordination and ontological equality?” here. While we’re on Anglicans, Brian LePort asks whether he needs a Bishop?

Gaudete Theology offers a feminist reading of “the bride of Christ” language. (“The image of the Bride of Christ needn’t be viewed only through the patriarchal perception of woman’s nature as inherently passive, docile, compliant, and receptive.”) Alice C. Linsley at Just Genesis would, I think, agree that the image and office of priest should also not be viewed through a patriarchal lens. She says, “Luther Was Wrong About the Priesthood.”

Rod at Political Jesus reviewed The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America. Larry Hurtado looks at Andrew Chester’s assessment of high Christology scholarship of late.

James Pate encourages inter-religious dialogue even for conservative Christians. He also writes about what Jonathan Edwards has to do with the historical-critical method (engaging this method may have felt inter-religious to Edwards). Jim McGrath engages the question (regarding a book with this title): Do Jews, Christians, and Muslims Worship the Same God?

Remnant of Giants suggests that it’s “time to put away the decaffeinated biblical criticism.”

December brought news of the Queen James Bible. Jim McGrath looks to get beyond it. BLT invites dialogue as to whether or not that Bible’s editors have achieved their aims.

And, finally, may I offer thanks to Amanda at Cheesewearing Theology for this excellent December 2012 theology roundup? She covers yet more territory in theology than I have already covered here. If you’re disappointed that this carnival is about over, spend time reading the posts she collects.

Ευχαριστω/תודה/Thank you

carnival 2

Thanks for coming, and keep coming back! I blog regularly, so feel free to follow/subscribe by going back up to the right sidebar of the blog.

Phil Long at Reading Acts is looking for volunteers for future carnivals. Let’s “keep giving carnivals”! Please check out his post and see what you think.

I don’t necessarily agree with the content of all these posts I’ve linked to, but I do find them worth a click and read. Enjoy, and Happy New Year!

2012 in review

The WordPress.com “stats helper monkeys” prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 32,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 7 Film Festivals.

Click here to see the complete report.

I enjoyed seeing what posts generated the most traffic, from what countries folks visited Words on the Word, and who the top five commenters were.

Amazon “cracking down” on reviewers… but not really

five stars

From the Sunday New York Times:

After several well-publicized cases involving writers buying or manipulating their reviews, Amazon is cracking down. Writers say thousands of reviews have been deleted from the shopping site in recent months.

Amazon has not said how many reviews it has killed, nor has it offered any public explanation. So its sweeping but hazy purge has generated an uproar about what it means to review in an era when everyone is an author and everyone is a reviewer.

The world of reviewing is certainly open to abuse and violations of ethics. (Not long ago I read a story about a British mystery writer who, under a fake name, wrote torching reviews of his competitor’s works, praising instead his own.)

So I understand the desire to regulate here. But what’s odd to me is this quote from an Amazon spokesman:

We do not require people to have experienced the product in order to review.

It would be difficult to prove “experience” of the product one way or the other, but I certainly don’t put any stock in reviews that say, “I haven’t read this yet, but….”

As one commenter on this article noted, what I often find most helpful in shopping on Amazon–whether for books or other products–is the negative reviews.

That doesn’t mean that 5-star reviews, however, are not all to be trusted. There’s a bit of self-selection that goes on here. To wit, I tend to only request review copies of books that I think will be worth my time, so my ratings are most often four and five stars. But honesty comes first, so three stars and lower is not out of the question, and has happened before. And I am not always right that I book I want to review ends up being as good as I might have thought.

It’s a no-brainer to me that someone ought “to have experienced the product” before reviewing it. But what are some other principles of reviewing that should constitute a good ethic for product reviews?

Biblical Studies Carnival: please send me links

carnival

I am hosting the next Biblical Studies Carnival. (See here for the last one, by Bob MacDonald.)

The carnival is basically a long list of links, and anthology of analyses, a précis of posts, etc., etc., on all things biblical and theological in the blogosphere.

If you know of good links I should include (anything that has been or will be posted in December), please let me know.

And, since I have you here, don’t forget about the book giveaway going on now of Devotions on the Greek New Testament.

State of the Blog Address: Why I (continue to) blog

blogging wordle

Sure, I picked a strange time to start this blog: just weeks before the birth of our third daughter. But I had good reason(s) to, as I enumerated here. Looking back on that blogging minifesto (you heard that word here first), not much of my reasoning for blogging has changed:

  • It’s a creative outlet for me, a chance to turn all the input I receive in life into output that hopefully helps others
  • I am able to receive gratis review copies of books from various publishers
  • I use it as a way of rehearsing and reaffirming important interests and aspects of my identity
  • Blogging has allowed me to try my hand at writing

Two other benefits have come my way since starting Words on the Word.

First, when I began in June, I really had no intention of reviewing Bible software, and had only ever used BibleWorks 7 and 8. But since beginning the blog, I’ve been able to write in-depth reviews of BibleWorks 9, Accordance 10, and Logos 4 and 5. I’ve also compared the three (with more comparison in the offing).

Second, I’ve just completed my first week through Greek Isaiah in a Year. What began as a quick post to tell my readers I wanted to read Isaiah in Greek in a year quickly turned into a reading group on Facebook with 160 (!) members and active discussion. It’s been a lot of fun. The democratizing effect of social media has grouped together professors, students, long-time Septuagintalists, pastors, and others who just want to read Greek together.

I blog for the love of the game. This blog is not monetized at all, as the business gurus say, save for my participation in the Amazon affiliates program, described here. (Side note: a link for aiding the work of WotW via contribution of books and Bible software resources is here.)

wotw logoThe blog has very much been its own reward. I’ve interacted with lots of folks I never would have otherwise, disciplined myself to start (and finish!) books I might not have otherwise, practiced my writing, and generally had fun.

But perhaps the greatest contribution this blog has made–or so some people tell me–is in its introduction to the world of my 5-year-old son’s writing. I never intended to co-blog, but my son has proved more than adequate to the task.

I’ve had to slow the pace of my blogging a bit in recent weeks as schedule demands have increased. But the state of the blog is strong, and so may it remain.