Biblical Studies Carnival XCIV: December 2013

‘Twas the night before the new year when all through the house,
not a creature was stirring… except me and my laptop’s mouse.
Smart phones and iPads were set by the nightstand with care,
with hopes that the Biblical Studies Carnival would soon be there.

The bibliobloggers were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of end-of-the-year top ten lists danced in their heads.
And professors, students, bloggers, and more,
had just settled their brains for a two-week to month-long snore…
except for grad students because everyone knows we never sleep.

Happy New Year!  Welcome to 2014, the year we all finally keep our new year’s resolutions… here’s hoping! Before we take a look back at December and all the bloggy goodness it contained, I wanted to remind you of the most exciting thing happening in 2014:

Houston Baptist University is hosting a conference on “Paul and Judaism” on March 19-20, 2014. Our keynote speakers include N.T. Wright (St Andrews University)Beverly Gaventa (Baylor University), and Ross Wagner (Duke Divinity School).

In addition to the keynote speakers, we are inviting papers in the area of Paul and Judaism, representing a variety of approaches from scholars and graduate students. Participants will have 30 minutes to present papers (inclusive of Q&A). Please submit a 200-300 word abstract to Dr. Ben C. Blackwell at bblackwell[at] by January 15, 2014, and you should receive notification regarding acceptance by January 31. Registration by February 15 is required for those who will present at the conference.

For more info:

This conference is going to be AWESOME so be sure to get your paper submissions in by January 15th and/or register for the conference!  Hope to see y’all there.

Now, on to the feast of December blog posts!

Advent, Christmas, and the Incarnation
Since this month’s carnival covers December it seems natural to start off with a sampling of Christmas-themed posts.

“One item of folk religion is the belief among Christians that the incarnation was temporary—a mere interim and perhaps even a charade in the life of the Son of God, God’s Word, the Logos. For many evangelicals (and others, I suspect), the incarnation was simply the Son of God ‘putting on human skin’ for thirty-some years in order to teach us how to please God and then to die for our sins. Either at the moment of his death or at his resurrection or at his ascension he shed that human skin and returned to his glorious pre-incarnation existence as God’s purely spiritual Son in heaven who also, somehow, dwells in every Christian’s heart.

This is, of course, an informal form of the ancient heresy of Gnosticism. It is a docetic Christology. Most of the time I find that people who believe the incarnation was temporary don’t really believe in the incarnation at all! That is, they tend to think of Jesus’ humanity as an act, an outward performance, not a real human nature and existence like ours. To many Christians ‘Jesus’ was Clark Kent to the Son of God’s super-human glory.”

ANE, Hebrew Bible, OT Theology, and More

LXX, DSS, Apocrypha and More

New Testament, NT Theology, and More

Early Christianity and Patristics


Language, Linguistics, Textual Criticism, and Translation

“I say to my students, ‘Check your sources.’ I tell them,
‘Look up the works in the footnotes and read them.’ I warn them to get beyond the slogans and labels of ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ or ‘evangelical’ or whatever and to discover the substance of the argument. In this day of uncounted online ‘“news’ sources (not to mention on air news sources), many of which are propaganda for various positions and/or sensationalism, some of which being not just junk but worse than junk, this admonition is even more important than it has been in the past.


The “I wasn’t sure where to put it but you should definitely read it” Category

“One of the differences between ‘theology’ and ‘religious studies’ is that theology is carried out from within the perspective of the believer, while religious studies takes a strictly historical/sociological perspective. I am enrolled in a theological program: perhaps this is why my immediate response to learning of this theologian’s persistent sinful patterns of behavior was to question whether and how it reflected on the value of his theology. It seems a screamingly obvious question to me.”

Book Reviews
Good heavens, December was the month of book reviews!

The Biblical Studies Carnivals of 2013
Since it is the end of another year, I thought I’d include a link to all of the previous Biblical Studies Carnivals of 2013 compiled by The Biblioblog Top 50.

Peter Kirby has the Top 50 Biblioblogs Winter Report at his blog and Abram K-J has the Septuagint Studies Soirée #5.

And of course, Jim West is hosting his ‘Wright Free Zone’ carnivalat his blog… but is a carnival without Wright really a carnival at all?  We here at Cataclysmic love us some N.T. Wright… well, most of us (wink, wink)… so to start off the new year with lots of joy, here’s Tom-foolery: 12 Epic Facts About N.T. Wright from Out of Ur.

The next Biblical Studies Carnival (Jan 14, Due Feb 1) will be hosted by Brian Renshaw at NT Exegesis.  See y’all ’round the blogosphere!

New Testament Theology at Trinity School of Theology

I am teaching the inaugural course at Trinity School of Theology in February. Joshua Farris, the founder of Trinity, has wonderful vision to provide theological education at an affordable rate. While the classes are open to everyone, one of the school’s primary aims is to help equip those serving churches bi-vocationally or as lay pastors.

This first course is New Testament Theology, and my main goal for the course is simple, that we all become better listeners. With that in mind, the course is split into two main sections: background and methods; and reading together.

In the first section, we will discuss questions, such as,

  • What is the Bible?
  • What is truth?
  • What is revelation?
  • What is the historical context (Jewish and Greco-Roman) of the Bible?
  • What is the theory of hermeneutics (philosophical views)?
  • What is the practice of hermeneutics (methodological views)?

The second half of the course will be reading together. My hope is we will take all that we have learned in the first section of the class and use it to become better listeners to the text and to each other. As Gadamer wrote, “In (hermeneutics) what one has to exercise above all is the ear.”

The passages will center around four common themes in the New Testament (this is not meant to be the end-all list of themes just four themes I consider relevant, representative, and engaging):

  • The Kingdom of God
  • The Cross and the Resurrection
  • Justification
  • The Church

While I have some ideas on which passages we will be reading, I would appreciate your input. When you think about these themes, what New Testament passages come to mind (perhaps which texts are the hardest for you to listen to)? Also, which secondary sources should the students read when thinking about these particular themes?

You Might Be a Prophet If…

[a case study from the book of Micah]

(1) You deeply desire to reform God’s people.
Prophets have a tendency of pointing out the sins of the church (Micah 1:1-7) and calling her to replace false & empty worship with just & faithful living (Micah 6:1-8).

[Perhaps you sometimes wonder out loud why and how Jesus’ message got kidnapped for other agendas – “How Did Jesus Come to Love Guns and Hate Sex?”]

(2) You are hyper-sensitive to economic injustice and the plight of the poor.
Prophets also often condemn the greed of the wealthy and powerful (Micah 2:1-5), criticize political leaders and ideologies that allow the poor to suffer (Micah 3:1-4), and remind the wealthy of their responsibility to the poor and powerless (Micah 6:9-16).

[Warning: Fox News might call you an anti-Christian marxist – “Pope Francis’ Stinging Critique of Capitalism”]

(3) You find anything short of radical peace and inclusion simply unacceptable.
Prophets are sometimes foolish & unrealistic enough to long for a day when: vastly different people get along, war tactics/strategies are forgotten and left behind, and weapons of violence are transformed into tools of life (Micah 4:1-5).

[In fact, you might even have the gall to start being obedient now – “Beating AK-47’s into Shovels”]

(4) You are mocked and ignored because of your pleas for counter-cultural obedience.
Prophets are frequently considered dramatic, negative, and pointlessly contrarian.  The truth is that they truly feel the weight of all that has gone wrong with the world (Micah 1:8-9; Micah 7:1-13) and they can’t help but speak and act.  Unfortunately, this is often ignored or misinterpreted by those who only want to be affirmed and hear good news (Micah 2:6-13; Micah 3:5-8).

[Pro-Tip: You might receive a lot of patronizing questions and rolling of the eyes  – “You’re Not a Pacifist, Are You?”]

Is there anything you might add to this profile of a prophet?
Who do you know you is currently acting in a prophetic way?

non-prophet comic jpg

Biblical Studies Carnival: September 2013

Welcome to the Biblical Studies Carnival for September 2013. I thought about the best way to catalog this month’s list:

  • Baseball – The postseason is here and what better way to celebrate…but then again I live in Houston so what do we know about baseball!
  • Football – The season is in full swing and what better way to rejoice…but then I remembered many of you would be thinking about a different sport and being American what do I know about soccer!
  • Breaking Bad – The series finale and what better way to remember…but then again I have never seen one minute of the show.

Therefore, in honor of the beginning of the fall television season (and following many of you on Twitter I know you watch a lot of TV) consider this your guide to September’s best shows in biblical studies. But you will have to click on the channel to get the scoop.


(Disclaimer: There are over 400 channels and I obviously did not get a chance to watch them all. Feel free to leave links in the comments section drawing attention to anything I missed.)

Hebrew Bible

Claude Mariottini – Monotheism and the Faith of Israel

Claude Mariottini – Noadiah The Prophetess

Christopher Rollston – By God I am King

Martin Shields – Finding too much sex in genesis 2

New Testament

Krista Dalton – Villains in the Bible (Why the Pharisees are not your bad guys)

Enoch Seminar – A Paradigm Shift in Pauline Studies? (various scholars answer the question)

Marc Goodacre – Simon Shama’s misreading of Paul

Craig Keener – Global Sharing, 2 Corinthians 8-9

Phil Long – Questioning Boundary Markers

Mike Skinner – A [Just] War for Romans 13

Christopher W. Skinner – Did Wrede’s Critique Also Anticipate Narratological Concerns?

Andrew Perriman – Justification by faith (in the story of Israel and the nations)

Chris Tilling – “Paradigm Shifts” in Pauline Studies

Ben Witherington III – Visualizing Paul’s Corinth – 1, 2, 3

LXX/Outside the Bible

Peter Kirby – Mara bar-Serapion: a product of the fourth century?

Peter Kirby – Upon Reading the Gospel of the Savior for the First Time

Timothy Michael Law – What is the center of gravity for LXX Studies?

Lawrence H. Schiffman – The Significance of Outside the Bible


Richard Beck – Not Getting How Horrible the Bible Is

Michael F. Bird – Speaking of Works of the Law

Matt Emerson – The Order of the Books of the New Testament 

Peter Enns – defending a literal reading of Genesis: an elderly pastor’s hill to die on

Matthew Ryan Hauge – Does the Bible Mean?

Larry Hurtado – “Performance” and Reading of Texts in Early Christianity

Peter J. Leithart – A Hermeneutics of the Open Ear

Jessica Parks – Knowing Who We Are & Why We Are Who We Are

Preston Sprinkle – Homosexuality in the Bible, Pt. 123456789

Seedbed (Ben Witherington III) – Why biblical backgrounds matter?

Textual Criticism/Linguistics/Translation

Bryan Bibb – Biblical Translation and Theological Bias

David Capes – What is the Difference between a Translation and a Paraphrase?

Joel M. Hoffman – More on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (good discussion in comments)

Brice C. Jones – Jesus’ Healing Words in Mark and the Manuscript Tradition

Kristen Rosser – “Farewell NIV”?

Krystopher Lyle –  ¿Are semantic boundaries good or no beuno?


John Byron – The Biblical World: Hoard of Gold Discovered at the Temple Mount base in Jerusalem

Mark Goodacre – A Tale of Two Replicas

Simcha Jacobovici – Jesus Tomb Finds Dramatic Support

Daniel O. McClellan – Jacobovici’s Rhetoric

Book Reviews

Ben Blackwell – Hermeneutics of Apostolic Proclamation by Matthew W. Bates Pt. 1, 2

Jason Brueckner – One Bible, Many Versions: Are All Translations Created Equal? by Dave Brunn

Nijay Gupta – Derek and Diane Tidball on The Message of Women in Scripture (Review)

Brian Leport – Book Review: Collins and Collins, King and Messiah as Son of God

Phil Long – Book Review: Joseph Blenkinsopp, David Remembered

Matthew Wilcoxen – Coakley’s “God, Sexuality, and the Self” Pt. 1, 2


Bryan Bibb – Getting Started in Online Communication

Michael F. Bird – The Necessity of Faith

Chad Chambers – The ‘Lacking’ Apocalyptic Imagination

Marc Cortez – A Theology of Sleep

Krista Dalton – When Sermons Oppress Pt. 1, 2

Brian Davidson – Great Series on Electronic Dead Sea Scrolls Pt. 1, 2, 3

Rod Decker – Feeling your way along in the first few weeks of Greek

April Deconick – The Humanities and Science

Tim Gombis – Study as Worship Pt. 12

Morgan Guyton – Evangelical Christianity and the millennial need to feel special and important

Larry Hurtado – Learning from Fallacies

J.R. Daniel Kirk – Open Letter to New Testament Students

Anthony Le Donne – The Darkside of Cruciformity

Brian LePort – Seminaries/Divinity Schools in San Antonio, Texas

Joshua L. Mann – ‘Press Publish’: Interview with Joel Watts (follow link for more interviews and articles on blogging)

Amanda MacInnis – Reading Barth, Not Reading Barth, and Reactions to the Barthian Industry

Ken Penner – Interview with Martin G. Abegg on Electronic Dead Sea Scrolls

Roger Olson – Must a Christian Believe in God?

As we conclude, there are a few noticeable absences from the list – James McGrath, Joel Watts, and Jim West. Just visit their blogs there is always something new.

Also, a few noteworthy achievements in the blogging world in September:
Mark Goodacre celebrated the NT Blog’s Ten Year Anniversary and Phil Long wrote his 1000th post!

Finally, a few plugs:

Peter Kirby lists the Top 50 Biblioblogs by Traffic (I will mention it even though I think he left out Cataclysmic!)

Abram K-J hosts the Septuagint Studies Soriee #2.

Jim West has his own “Unofficial” Carnival.

And Houston Baptist University will be hosting a conference with N.T. Wright in the spring of 2014 and Ben Blackwell has sent out a call for papers. Come one, come all!

Thanks to all who recommended links and to the other bloggers here at Cataclysmic who found many of these great posts.

Hope you enjoyed the Carnival, I know I missed more than I found but there is always next month when Brian Davidson is hosting the carnival at his blog LXXI.

The ‘Lacking’ Apocalyptic Imagination

Every time I encounter the word ‘apocalyptic’ in a text, I get scared. But maybe not for the reasons you would expect.

Apocalyptic produces fear because for some scenes from Apocalypse Now, or even worse scenes from one of those tribulation movies so popular at youth group lock-ins in the 80’s, flash before our eyes leaving us trembling at the thought of it all becoming reality. Others imagine scenes from Daniel and Revelation filled with goats and growing horns, stars being thrown down, flying horseman, dragons, seven headed beasts, and seals being broken. In the end, we are left much like Daniel, “And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days…I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it.” (Dan 8:27)

Yet, as scary as these images are what frightens me the most is that for many Christians apocalyptic means chaos, wars, judgment and nothing else. In other words, we lack an apocalyptic imagination.

Apocalyptic is a rich term drawing meaning from many different wells and therein lies one of the primary problems; most of the wells are left untapped. Many Christians, including many Christian scholars, have never read (much less studied) the various sources available that can inform our apocalyptic imagination. Multiple sources dating from late BC to early AD offer examples of the apocalyptic worldview prominent during these times. For example, 1 Enoch, Fourth Ezra, Second Baruch, the Apocalypse of Abraham, the book of Jubilees, the Sibylline Oracles, and even parts of The Dead Sea Scrolls.* Some of these books do contain scary scenes and other-wordly visions, much like those in Daniel and Revelation, but they also engage in what can be considered a history-making exercise, that is they examine how we got here (past), what is happening (present), and where it is all going (future).

Apocalyptic is not just about the future, apocalyptic is a re-imagining of the world we live in.

Once this is realized and the ideas are given room to blossom, we come to understand that Christianity is most assuredly an apocalyptic religion and not just because we believe Jesus will come again. Jesus announced the kingdom of God is a present reality. Paul declared the present evil age has been defeated. The writer of Hebrews described the good things that have already come. Peter proclaimed God has already acted to cause us to be born again. The past, present, as well as the future have been changed by God’s apocalyptic in-breaking through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ. The axis around which all history turns is the first coming of Jesus Christ not the second. It defeated the old. It inaugurated the new. It altered the present. The world has been changed and nothing can be the same again.

And while I hold out hope that this apocalyptic imagination will take hold, the reason I get scared when I read the word ‘apocalyptic’ is because if all we can imagine is a story ending in chaos, war and judgment then the available options for how we choose to live in the present are indeed something to be afraid of.

*For more information on apocalyptic literature:

  • John C. Collins – The Apocalyptic Imagination (from which title of post was stolen!)
  • Frederick J. Murphy – Apocalypticism in the Bible and Its World
  • Christopher Rowland – The Open Heaven: A Study of Apocalyptic in Judaism and Early Christianity