Monday, January 11, 2010
J.K. Gayle at Aristotle's Feminist Subject has a brilliant (shining, sparkling, sharply cut) post the Prostitute... or probably "the Prostitute, Post-Pentateuch Persuasion, and Play in Bible Translation". I won't spoil it by sumarising, or ruin it by excerpting (much ;) but I do want to encourage you to read it. I hope that people who read this blog will really enjoy the post in full, as I am.

To encourage you I will just offer this small gem: the post talks much of wordplay:
By "wordplay," I mean both playfulness with words and wiggleroom in their interpretation.
With that sentence in the opening of the first full section I am hooked.  But it is only a detail, so DO read the post in full, please :)

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, November 14, 2009
  Gerasene biblical interpretation
Photo by FilmNut
I have just been marking the final assignment for our introductory course on Understanding and Interpreting the Bible. We used Duvall and Hays book as the core and basis of the course (bibliographical details below). They picture the process of interpreting the Bible today in terms of four (or five for the Old Testament) simple steps:
  1. The text in their town - what the text meant and/or was intended to mean or do in its ancient context(s). The outcome of this phase should be a short summmary couched in the past tense e.g. Paul exhorted his hearers to..., Jesus challenged the Pharisees... or Luke encouraged Gentile believers...
  2. Measure the width of the river - encourages interpreters to notice and take account of the barriers time and space have erected which interfere with our capacity to read and understand the text. In the course we stressed this, and noticed time and again the tendency, deeply engrained in Evangelical Christians, to seek to apply the Bible without thinking.
  3. Uncover the principle - religious discourses usually are either based on or give expression to theological principles, unlike the message of a passage (which is time-bound and specific) these are timeless and general.
  4. For the OT: consider the passage through the lens of Jesus and the NT. If Christians believe that Jesus fulfills the OT then this step may well qualify their understanding of passages from the Hebrew Bible.
  5. Apply the passage. Unlike the principle, but mirroring the message these will be specific, and they should be multiple. Both the specificity and multiplicity together help people to then generalise the application to their own lives - generalised applications usually leave their consumers merely with vague good or bad feelings but called to no specific actions.
Photo by digitalART2
We had reminded the class of these steps each week, and practised them most weeks. As well as looking in more detail at how to study the expression of the text, its literary and historico-social contexts and how various Gattungen of biblical literature work.

Doing this marking I have been forced to notice that (at least among NZ Evangelicals) the default response to a first reading of a biblical text is to draw a pious vaguye general "application". This process is like applying a bandaid, quick and easy and painful to dislodge. It is also like a band aid, easier when it is thin - verses are easier to "apply" than narratives.

The result is that faced with the wide and deep "river" that separates us from the authors and hearers of the Bible, we instantly run full tilt down the hill and throw ourselves at the river.

Hence my title, because of this Gerasene tendency (Mark 5:13) many Bible interpreters end up face down in deep water!

Duvall, J. Scott, and J Daniel Hays. Grasping God's word : a hands-on approach to reading, interpreting, and applying the Bible. Grand Rapids Mich.: Zondervan, 2001.

Duvall, J. Scott, and J Daniel Hays. Journey into God's word : your guide to understanding and applying the Bible. Grand Rapids Mich.: Zondervan, 2008.

Labels: ,

Saturday, October 03, 2009
  New Multimedia Study Bible
Mark linked to the promo video (below) for Glo a new multimedia study Bible. If the video is an accurate representation, rather than just slick marketing, then the interface looks cool, and may even be easy to use, and with many maps, loads of "virtual tours" and hours of video as well as huge numbers of photos and dictionary articles this could be a brilliant tool. Priced at US$80 with a prepub price of US$60 it sounds also like exceptionally good value. iLumina an earlier product from the same company also had an excellent interface (for the period ;) however it suffered from poor and superficial information and resources - as I remember it, I only had a few hours to play with a friend's copy. It sounds as if this new product may have fixed that. I wonder who the first biblioblogger will be to get a review copy? I'd love to see some reviews before the cutoff date for the prepub price ;)

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, September 30, 2009
  Bootleg Bibles
In the Western world we have the spiritual equivalent of the obscene EU wine lakes and sugar beet mountains, a surplus of Bibles. Any flavour (gender neutral or gender differentiated, common language or literary, Madam?) any colour (Burgundy moroccan leather, or trendy teen picture edition, Sir?) you like. It really does not matter, for only one Christian in ten actually reads the damned [swear word reluctantly intended] things!

In the majority world to match their common difficulty in finding adequate and healthy food supplies, or paying for medical care, there are Bible shortages. In Mobuto's Zaïre in the 1980s a cluster of poverty, mis-management and greed ensured that where there were not enough Bibles, basically anywhere far from Kinshasa, though there were handy sellers of bootleg Bibles. If you could pay the markup, you could be the proud owner of a personal copy. It only cost a couple of week's salary...
You'd think that in this Century of the Fruitbat [editor's note: private joke shared only with the other reader of Terry Pratchett ;)] te Internetz would have cured at least this problem. Bible text can be transmitted to any computer screen at virtually no cost (where there is no Internet memory sticks and even old fashioned CDs can serve as vector for the viral Word). In fact with all those phones, soon the Word can reach even the barely literate as audio Bibles freely spread their divine contagion.

Apparently though if the Lusophone Bible Societies have their way instead of healthy "authorised" editions all these viral Bibles in Portuguese will be bootleg Bibles. Illegal copyright infringing pirate editions!

David has to behave himself ;) but you don't hear me laughing (see the comments here) that's tears you hear falling, for the sad, sad story of human sin and pride that holds "Bible Societies" back from actually setting the Word free :(

Labels: , ,

Friday, September 25, 2009
  God as Mother
A few people have begun to mention my experiment in "networked publishing" (a fancy name for using sophisticated blogging software to allow readers to discuss, and potentially impact the content of, a book) Not Only a Father: Motherly God-language in the Bible and Christian Tradition those I have noticed are:
But as yet no one has begun to comment or discuss the material on the site :( I hope this weekend to add chapter three which will mean that the following material is available:
  1. Talking Pictures the introductory material
  2. Biblical Talk of the Motherly God:
    1. A Personal God without Icons
    2. Imagery in the Old and New Testaments
    3. God’s Motherly Love
Chapter 3 "Early Theology of God as Mother" which looks at motherly God-talk in the early fathers and through to the middle-ages should be online fairly soon. Other chapters will follow. But for the project to work, I really need people to read and discuss (or argue with) the work... so please do visit, and comment, or ask your friends to do so :)

Labels: , , , ,

  Shame on Bible Societies
David Ker has posted an impassioned plea for the Bible Societies responsible for the commonly used Portuguese translations to be more open in their licencing of the translations they control. It seems to me he is right to call this "The sad story of downloadable Portuguese Bibles". Bible Societies ask for, and receive, donations from Christians so that they can make the Bible available. In the 21st century to refuse permission for other people (unless you are already doing it yourselves) to make digital text and audio Bibles available freely online is to turn Bible translation into a profit-making business.

David, start a petition begging these ostriches to set the word of God free, between blogs and Facebook etc. we should be able to swamp them with emails. But in case they are so steeped in tradition and fear that they still refuse, why not start an online translation project and produce an open source Portuguese Bible. Start from one of the poor quality e-texts of the old (so - I assume - out of copyright) version and adapt it keeping the text licenced under the appropriate Creative Commons licence...

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, September 02, 2009
  Nomination for Principal
Yesterday news was passed round Carey staff and students that Charles Hewlett is being nominated by the search committee to the Baptist Assembly as the new principal of Carey Baptist College. Today the news has been sent round the churches. I imagine that everyone who knows Charles is delighted by the choice :) If you do not know Charles you can watch this video of a sermon of his:

If you want to show it to a group, why not buy the DVD? It is from a series of homegroup resources on the sermon on the mount.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 01, 2009
  Hard Times for Bible Readers
Julia M. O'Brien has another thoughful and provoking post, on Reading Novels, Reading the Bible. In it she notices a phenomenon that has long interested me. Extremists about the Bible, both fundamentalists and minimalists (with apologies to Jim W who does not fit this label in this context), make the same mistake, both reduce the Bible to information.1 In doing so they are thoroughly modern.

Modernity worships factuality. It reduces life to facts. Mystery and wonder are relegated to "entertainment". Moderns know "the price of everything and the value of nothing" (as Oscar Wilde2 said).

No wonder, then if the Bible is important it must be full of facts, or if it must be dethroned then it must be full of errors! This is the student's approach to the Bible, examine, test and discuss it's facticity. How different the reader! Julia quotes James Joyce3:
[in reading novels,]  we walk through ourselves meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love.  But always meeting ourselves. 
Readers of the Bible "walk through themselves" and in doing so not only meet themselves, but also meet God. What we need is more readers and less students of the Bible. For all students meet is information. But there's the paradox, our profession produces Bible students smilies/sad.gif

Dare we, dare I, adapt the way we teach so that we may be less good at developing biblical scholars, but better at producing Bible readers?

This post is an expansion of a comment I left on Julia's blog.

1. In "Le texte biblique et le contexte africain" Revue Zaïroise Théologie Protestante II, 1988, 11-17, I argued that "conservative and "liberal" approaches to the Bible "la trahissent au nom de l'histoire" [betray the Bible in the name of history].
2. Wilde, Oscar, and Joseph Bristow. The picture of Dorian Gray. Oxford University Press, 2006, 42.  (Bristow notes that Wilde adapted this pithy saying in Lady Windemere's Fan two years later, so he was perhaps as fond of it as later generations have been ;)
3. James Joyce, Ulysses. The Modern Library Edition.  New York:  Random House, 1934, p. 210

Labels: , , ,

Monday, August 31, 2009
  Digital Faith @ The University of Auckland
On Saturday I'm sharing in a morning of talk and discussion titled Digital Faith, hosted by the University of Auckland's School of Theology, the other speakers will be interesting and challenging all have blogs worth subscribing to:
  • Mark Brown @ Brown Blog
    CEO Bible Society New Zealand & founder Anglican Cathedral in Second Life
  • Stephen Garner @ Greenflame
    Lecturer in Theology and Popular Culture, School of Theology, University of Auckland
  • Heidi Campbell @ When religion meets new media
    Assistant Professor, Dept. of Communication, Texas A&M University & author of Exploring Religious Community Online.
But as well as tuning in to their blogs, if you are near Auckland do come to the session:
OGGB4 Lecture Theatre, Level 0, Owen G Glenn Building, Grafton Road, The University of Auckland
Saturday 5th September 9am-12pm
$5.00 morning tea provided

Labels: , ,

Thursday, August 27, 2009
  Style sensitive translation
Nuyorcian Poets Cafe by Salim Virji
PoetJohn, the Hebrew Poet, has a really stimulating post (but then you'll say his posts usually are) A Style-Sensitive Translation of Luke 1:1-4. In it he agrues that: the style and register of the opening of Luke is "the high falutin’ prose in which the best history is traditionally written. In English, think Edward Gibbon or Thomas Macaulay."and offers a good first draft of what a rendering of these verses in such style would sound like.

This is a drum several of us have banged before, most Bible versions obscure the style and register differences among biblical authors and passages. So a passage from Mark and one from Luke will sound more alike than the same passage from REV and CEV or even REV and NRSV. Thus the style and register preferred by the translation team takes precedence over that of the composers! This is plain barmy, nuts, and a great shame as it hides the human fingerprints that readers of Greek and the Semitic languages find all over Scripture.

Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay from Wikipedia

J. K. Gayle and Doug Chaplin both post fine comments on John's post, suggesting how the following passages should sound. Is this a project that a team of bibliobloggers could collaborate on? Maybe, in view of the start already made Luke would be a good book to begin with? The contributors could all be authors on a site at is a successor to CommentPress, a WordPress derivative that allows commenting at "paragraph" level on posts. Thus if the text of the proposed translation were posted with each verse as a separate "paragraph" others could comment at that level, and the translators could easily then produced a revised version in the light of suggestions.

Declaration of interest: I am exploring with another project in view. I will describe that in another post soon.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, May 23, 2009
  Eternal life?
Ilkka Rauhala posted this video to his facebook status. It nicely states some of the communication issues in presenting "the gospel" to a Buddhist.

I can't help wondering if (even for Western cultures and languages) "eternal life" is the best translation of ζωή αἰώνιος? Might αἰώνιος not suggest more life of the age that's coming, so be suggesting something like the dreams of a new age in texts like Rev 21:1ff. or Is 11:1ff.; 61:1ff.? Can any of you Greek/NT scholars help clarify this for me?

I am an INFP so I work most easily with intuitions, and my intuition is that ζωή αἰώνιος sounds like "life of the age to come" especially if I back translate to something like עוֹלָם...

Labels: , , ,

Monday, May 18, 2009
  Monogamy, polygamy and the verbal inspiration of Scripture
John Hobbins nearly always provides a good read. I have lost count of the number of his posts I have pointed out to students. He is often at his most thought provoking when one diagrees with him, or when he is pushing a rhetorical point to its limits ;)

So, I found his post Theological vs. “Plain-Sense” Exegesis of Genesis 2 and Ephesians 5 with respect to the Marriage Covenant stimulating, especially since we only partly agree about some of the key issues. In the course of his argument John wrote:
This [monogamous] take on Genesis 2 is possible if and only if it is read against the grain of its proximate context - the book of Genesis, in which polygamy is taken for granted - and with the grain of its macro-context – inclusive of the New Testament, in which the ideal of monogamy is upheld by Jesus and Paul. This kind of exegesis is convincing if and only if one has a high view of scripture according to which, in classical terms, it is verbally inspired. On this view, each and every word of scripture is there for a reason that goes beyond what its human author could possibly have imagined.
A fun argument, with stirring rhetoric, but is John right? Must I swallow the camel of verbal inspiration, imagining e.g. God putting on funny voices to "do" Jeremiah and Isaiah differently, if I want to read Gen 2 in the light of the rest of, and the trajectory of, Scripture as a whole. I do hope not, because a God with "mouth" squinched to make Mark sound different from John, though possessing a fine sense of humour can hardly be taken more seriously than one who assiduously plants fossil animals in order to confuse 19-20th century natural philosophers!

Surely the simple fact that Genesis 2 is found, read and used as part of a canon - a collection of literature that I perceive as related and (at least somewhat) coherent is sufficient to enable me to read Gen 2 in a way that is like the way Jesus does in the Gospels?

Fun rhetoric, but I submit no score!

Labels: , ,

Thursday, April 02, 2009
  ראשׁ as headland?
Carmel ridge from south.
One of the delights of writing a commentary, at least one that is published publicly (here I intend to imply, rudely, that print publication seeks to privatise works, while electronic publication actually publishes them ;) though that is not the purpose of this post), is that readers write back. Today I had an email from such a reader.
...reading your commentary, I am not happy with the "dried crest of Carmel", for the crest of every mountain is dry, naturally, even without Adonai roaring, and the crest ist scarcely a pasture.

How about taking ro'sh not in the partitive sense (top of mountain), but in the metaphorical (huge rock rising from the plain), as in the european languages "Cape", from Latin caput head? Head of Carmel would then be a poetical version of the prosaic "Mount Carmel" and we can easily imagine meadows in the lower parts.

I want to propose this idea to you as an experienced scientist, while I am quite new in Hebrew.
from Carmel north-east
This is an interesting suggestion. Certainly in English not only "cape" but also "headland" and "head" itself (as in Bream Head) would seem to be direct uses of "head" metaphorically of just such a geographical feature. However, I can find (on a quick look - life is hectic at present, selling our home and B having medical tests etc.) no evidence for this usage in biblical Hebrew.

Does anybody know either of such Hebrew usage, or of such an expression in a related language? If so please let me know!

I am not as convinced by the argument that this makes better sense of the verse in Amos, because (at least in modern times) the Carmel Ridge is quite forested and green. But again does anyone know if this is from modern irrigation or whether it would likely have been green in the Iron Age?

The mention in the commentary is at Amos 1:2.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, March 30, 2009
  The story and the narratives
I'm teaching biblical narrative this semester, so I was interested in the post by Nick Montfort to narrations of "Little Red Riding Hood":
to which we can add Mary Hess' link to Little Red Riding Hood as infographic.

So, tell me please gentle reader, was/were the one(s) you consumed "same" story, or a new story? And why?

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, March 29, 2009
  Gentle (though firm) wisdom on Bible copyright issues
Peter Kirk has put up two fine well thought out and researched posts on the issue of copyrighting Scripture:
In the first he deals primarily with the issues around Zhubert's Re:Greek. In the process providing much (though speculative) light on the murky world of commercial Bible publication. The second homes in on copyright applied to the Bible and translations of the Bible.

These are both fine works. I suggest you all read them, and I suggest they both get listed in the next Biblical Studies Carnival.

After all the discussion of copyright and of the practicalities of funding Bible Sosiety work has settled there are practical issues left open.
  • What is the legal status of MorphGNT?
    • If it is street legal then other projects can use it.
    • If not, then "we" need an open source project to produce a good legal morph analysed Greet text
  • Can something be done to produce an equivalent for the Hebrew Bible? (Here as Peter points out there are no legal complications with eclectic texts MorphMT could be simply based on The Westminster Leningrad Codex (see its licence document).

Labels: , , ,

Friday, March 27, 2009
  Bible societies and dens of theives
I've been meaning to comment thoughtfully and at length on Zhubert and the MorphGNT issue, but selling a house while teaching (laughably but accurately called a "full time job" = it takes up all the time available) has stalled a longer post.

Then David wrote Closing open Bibles saying:
I’m all in favor of open source, but I tend to side with GBS on this. I wouldn’t be surprised if an agreement is worked out regarding the MorphGNT.
I suspect that all we need to do is wait. Bible Societies in general are slow moving beasts with good reason. Don’t mistake cumbersomeness with inefficiency. They are big and think very long term.
This gets my goat, I started writing a "comment" but it was getting long and heated ;)

I am usually very sympathetic to the right of people to be paid a reasonable wage for their work. I can understand that corporations need to "recover their costs".

But Bible Societies, at least the ones I know anything about, get given money by pew sitters like me "to make the Bible available". That money pays the wages of those who do the work (where they were not already paid by their academic institution and did the careful editing work as part of that job).

If GBS (or any other Bibe Society) restricts people making the text freely available, simply to protect the economic viability of their print editions - which are expensive to produce luxury items - then they are betraying the generations of Christians who have coughed up their hard earned cash "to make the Bible available"!

Now, this is an oversimplification, but it seems to me that to take money from someone under false pretences is (more or less) theft. To accept donations to make the Bible available and then restrict its availability to protect the market for an expensive luxury item is therefore theft.

I need some convincing that the German Bible Society is the useful, if somewhat slow elephant David describes, and not rather a den of thieves! For now, I am picturing Jesus, cords at the ready, bursting into their hallowed halls...

PS: I see the guy David referred to has a fine full post on the subject Copyrighting the Holy Spirit's words, then living off the profit... do read it! They also have a declaration of full disclosure, so I'll add one: As far as I know I have never received any payment or benefit from either a Bible Society or their commercial competitors, I did for some years get soft drinks at wholesale prices by sharing my buying with the General Secretary of the Bible Society in Zaire (now again Congo DR).

Labels: , , ,

Friday, February 27, 2009
  What should a Bible Translation look like?
Page from La Traduction Oecumenique de la Bible
First was David's mild-mannered complaint about the "Section Headings" that translators, or their publishers, add on to the Bible text, sometimes misinterpreting the meaning; then my response and Henry Neufeld's post basically agreed, but perhaps expressed more stronhgly revulsion for section headings as possibly misleading additions to the text of Scripture (some of the comments to David's post were in the same tone). For a more thorough and balanced account of this iniquitously arrogant practice see David's second post Dissection Headings and especially the comments there.

Then Wayne asked about translation gaps meaning places where a straightforward (rather than lengthily explanatory) translation leaves a naive reader lost to much of the meaning. He gives as example Romans 11:16:

Here is how the passage reads in the TEV (Good News Translation) which our children grew up on:

If the first piece of bread is given to God, then the whole loaf is his also; and if the roots of a tree are offered to God, the branches are his also.

The TEV is one of the most idiomatic translations ever produced in English. Its English is natural. Yet someone without background knowledge of Jewish religious customs would not understand Rom. 11:16 in the TEV or any other translation, for that matter. And we really can’t make an encyclopedia out of our translations, filling in all such large translation gaps.

In the comments there I suggested that this was where a good (simple) set of cross references that points to possible allusions to other passages of the canon, or references to practices etc. was an essential part of a good Bible translation.

So... all this got me wondering, what should be included in a good simple Bible translation for beginners, and what is unwarranted tinkering with the sacred words of Scripture?

Here is my first attempt to think through the question:

Organising the Text
Section headings were added so as to break up the text, make the Bible seem more like other books, and make it easier for users to find things - though as David points out headings in the header at the top of the page would achieve this.

Paragraphing (rather than the older practice of printing each verse as a separate paragraph) was also begun to make the Bible "look like" other books none of which (except poetry which is broken into lines) are printed as a series of consecutive "verses".

What makes paragraphs acceptable and headings anathema?

Firstly, almost all "normal" books in our culture have the prose printed in paragraphs, but section headings are optional. Second, although bad paragraphing misleads a reader, it misleads them much less than a badly placed or worded section heading. (That's why I am glad to see the layout of many modern Bibles indicate when the old [but not "biblical"] chapter breaks fall in the "wrong" place.) So, paragraphs do more good and less harm. Indeed they are part of the translation process for printed books in our culture are not merely worded in English, they have paragraphs for prose and lines for poetry. Thus in translating ancient Hebrew or Greek into modern English this adaptation of form is legitimate.

Chapters and verses are a similar case. They too are added to the Bible and NOT part of the text. Yet, they are very convenient, how else - if we wanted to check the cotext - would we know which precise part of Romans Wayne meant (above) unless we knew the whole book nearly by heart? But, since they are additions added to the text, make the indications small and as unobtrusive as is convenient.

Notes are potentially very useful and informative. Textual and translational issues can be signalled by the translators, so that a reader can understand that a choice has been made, and perhaps even the sorts of reasoning that prompted the choice.

Cross References can suggest passages with similar wording, or that treat a similar topic or theme, or which might serve as background to the passage to which they are appended. These are extremely useful, and even (see above) can be considered part of the translation process, if the readership is deemed to include users who are new to the biblical world. Such references can become dangerous, especially when they are combined with words that suggest their meaning (rather than simply the Bible references). So, that is a practice to be avoided ;)

Explanatory information is added by the publisher (since this sort of note is often not composed by the translation team - though perhaps they should be, see my comment on Wayne's post) may add notes explaining customs, historical details or other information that helps a reader understand the what text might have been intended to mean. This sort of note is potentially more "dangerous" as they might be used (and often are in "Study Bibles") to push a particular line of interpretation, but they are very useful especially for beginning readers.

What would you add? Where do you think I have gone wrong? The aim is a translation that:
  • is faithful to the biblical text
  • is useful to a contemporary English-speaking (or other modern language) reader
  • avoids unnecessary additions and interpretations of the text.
Note that you might like to consider (as I have done above) a beginner in reading the Bible as well as a biblically literate reader.

It is probably no accident that the Bible I describe above is very like the French La Traduction Oecumenique de la Bible except that my copy has the iniquitous headings added :( but its cross reference apparatus is brilliant, and every Bible publisher should try to licence it and copy it as soon as possible ;)

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, February 24, 2009
  Defending God
Humans have a strange need to defend God. Somehow deep-wired into us is a desire to protect God from God's own actions. (At least the central poetic section of) the book of Job argues forcefully that this desire is wrong, humans cannot make God just because we lack the necessary inforation to understand. Indeed the very desire is impious! (As the formulaton above "make God just" makes clear by its phrasing - this desire is blasphemy, setting self over God.)

Claude is running a series about one of the ways many Evangelicals are tempted to commit this impiety, saving the Bible from itself. The reasoning seems to go:
  • the Bible is God's word
  • therefore it can contain no error
  • my Bible seems to say that Joshua wrote the book that follows Deuteronomy or that Amos wrote the book that has his name on it
  • but scholarship shows that these people are very unlikely to have written these books
  • therefore scholars are wrong and not proper Bible-believing Evangelicals 
The result is a whole industry that seeks to protect the Bible (and the God to whom it belongs) from itself. Great Bible readers of the past were more careful in their reading of the Bible, and less inclined to believe that they knew better than God! On the date of Joshua (one regular candidate for such "defense") Calvin wrote:
As to the Author of this Book, it is better to suspend our judgment than to make random assertions.

Labels: , ,

Friday, February 20, 2009
  Adding to Scripture
David Kerr has a good post "Those nefarious section titles in your Bible" in which he discusses the section headings that one finds in most printed Bibles today.

Headings are added to the Bible by translators, they are then printed in such a way that they look and feel like part of the biblical text. They are not and never have been part of the Bible text. (Except the mysterious and often incomprehensible headings to Psalms, those these same Bible publishers often put in small print - they are merely part of the Bible text and not therefore as "important" as the clever ideas of the inspired translation team. Warning: the previous sentence may contain irony and sarcasm.)

Section headings are therefore systematic and institutionalised lies, that are presented as Scripture. (Chapter and verse divisions are too, but they are at least a convenient way of identifying the passage one is talking about.) This practice is a travesty and institutions like Bible Societies ought to have more respect for Scripture than to amend it in this way.

Please note as David's examples suggest these "titles" are not neutral, they often direct us as readers to understand the text in a particular way. While those directions may often be good, they are never scriptural.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 20, 2009
  Conversations with Scripture: 2 Isaiah: Introduction
Stephen begins his "Introduction" with human experiences that challenge comfortable easy images of God: "God exists and God cares, 2 Isaiah claims, but God's uncanny ways sometimes defy our human categories of rationality and morality" (xvi) is a good introduction to the claim that this work (Isaiah 40-55) focuses on reverence - see my post introducing the book.

To a reader whose faith was challenged in teenage years by a father's nervous breakdown, to centre the presentation on Is 45:15: "Truly you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior" draws me in. For this is not a book for pentecostals and charismatics, convinced weekly by signs and wonders of God's power and glory; it is for "Anglicans" (and others) to whom the "uncanny, fiery side of God" does not appear easily. (xv)

On the next page Stephen quotes twice from Aelred of Rievaulx, a Cistertian writer I have not come across since the days of research for my thesis! A clear indication that this book has an erudite writer who writes for intelligent, explorative and imformed readers. It is deeper than the average "popular" book on biblical studies, and so should fill a gaping hole in the market for such readers. If they find it, the main barrier to publishing such works is that in the 20th century book market few of them could discover such books, so few sold... perhaps in the 21st century we will see a rennaisance in such works, as digital communications puts readers and writers in contact - maybe through reviews on blogs like this, since I assume that my readers are "intelligent, explorative and imformed" ;)

Labels: , ,

Saturday, January 10, 2009
  Conversations with Scripture: 2 Isaiah - Introduction to the series
Yesterday I began posting thoughts on Stephen Cook's book Conversations with Scripture : 2 Isaiah today I'll look at the part Stephen did NOT write ;)

In the "Introduction to the series" Frederick W. Schmidt seeks to unpack what a "distinctively Anglican approach to Scripture looks like.

First he seeks to understand how Scripture is Authoritative. Claiming that for Anglicans it is more like a city we inhabit, and within whose bounds we enjoy our creative space. That image is exciting, but probably (Anglican friends may correct me) not distinctively Anglican, though it may find expression better in Episcopalian tradition than in other less "broad" communities. He also tells of his reply to an Evangelical Free Church friend who wondered "why someone with such obvious interest in the Bible would be Anglican". The reply is a fine and rousing slogan, that presents a sharp critique to many Baptist churches (a friend and I were bemoaning last night how little of the Bible is read in most NZ Baptist churches of a Sunday). But: "Because we read the whole of Scripture and not just the parts that suit us." cannot be left unchallenged by this Baptist. It is true that the Anglican (Catholic, Methodist... name any church that uses a lectionary including many Baptist churches) habit of reading all (or at least to be more honest, 'most of' since certain "difficult" texts are censored from all lectionaries I have seen!) of the Bible from time to time. It is also true that the (ana)Baptist habit of favouring certain parts of the Bible - like the gospel accounts of Jesus teaching - also has strengths, and it is essential to recognise that all of the canon is not at the same level of "authority".

Schmidt's second category of an "Anglican" approach to Scripture, that it is illuminative is simply something that most Christians would agree on, and indeed insofar as "illuminative" means that Scripture demands a change in the life of the reader is one that early Baptists fought with Anglicans over. In my post (Ana)Baptist Hermeneutics I even claimed as a distinctively (ana)Baptist form of hermeneutics - under the title "Hermeneutics of Obedience", that I borrowed from Stuart Murray (from Biblical Interpretation in the Anabaptist Tradition 206 or see the summary by Stuart Murray-Williams).

His third, critical engagement also begs several questions, British Baptists are not without their own roll call of distinguished 19th and 20th century biblical scholars...

So, this "Introduction to the Series" is something of a curate's egg, the discussion of authority is stimulating, but some of claims seem unnecessarily chauvinistic. Perhaps rather than the parts, it is the whole that matters, it may be that it is the selection of just these characteristics that distinguishes Anglican approaches to Scripture... certainly I did not find equivalents for all of Murray's list:
  • The Bible as Self-interpreting
  • Christocentrism
  • The Two Testaments
  • Spirit and Word
  • Congregational Hermeneutics
  • Hermeneutics of Obedience
And equally neither Murray, nor I, placed "critical engagement" in the list at all, though I think "diversity" does appear as an inference from our "Congregational Hermeneutics" - which implies that different locations produce different local readings.

[The next post, which won't appear on Sunday - since I am preaching, will begin at last to read Stephen's own work, after all this preparation!]

Labels: , ,

Friday, January 09, 2009
  Conversations with Scripture: 2 Isaiah
Stephen Cook sent me a copy of his new book:

Stephen L. Cook, Conversations with Scripture : 2 Isaiah (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Pub., 2008).

It arrived yesterday, all nicely wrapped in Christmas paper. Thank you!

The arrangement is that I'll review the book here, since this is a blog and not a journal, I'll not compose one terse magisterial review but will post from time to time as I examine and reflect on the book...

So, First Impressions:

The book is a manageable-sized paper back, 150 pages of largish print, so suggests an easy read rather than a tome to plough. It belongs to a series Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars Study Series, and the blurb claims it offers a "uniquely Anglican Bible Study". That already grabs my attention, because I have been increasingly, recently, asking myself what might be distinctive about "Baptist" biblical hermeneutics (by which I mean not what real particular Baptists actually do, which is often just like what similar real Lutherans or Presbyterians actually do) but as an "ideal", so it may be interesting if I can capture from Stephen's study of 2 Isaiah something that is distinctly "Anglican".

Opening the work, the first thing I notice is a number of small sidebar explanations. Sometimes two per page are needed, sometimes several pages pass with none. They are usually only one sentence in length. This is a useful way to explain terms, introduce people... that mimics one property of hypertext - I'm a great fan of sidebars!

The chapter titles too, on the contents page, have me hooked:
  • Second Isaiah and the Theology of Reverence
  • The Inscrutability of God in 2 Isaiah
  • Reverence and the Collapse of Pride and Ignorance
  • Servanthood and the Exuberance of the Holy
  • Atonement and Exuberance
  • The Majesty of Servanthood
Each of these draws me in, I'd happily begin with any of them. (Actually I'll probably be a "good boy" and start at the beginning - most untypically - but who could resist a theological work with "exuberance" in the title?)

There are endnotes (works aimed at a broader readership eschew footnotes) but only a dozen or so per chapter (so looking them up will not be a great hardship).

Stephen's writing is clear and uses mainly short sentences, and I quickly (while dipping here and there) found examples that provoke:
  • "The poem presents a scandalous God. This God is out to disorient people, defy their logic, and make their knees shake". (29) Don't you want to know which poem? Or do you, without looking at Stephen's book, know already?
  • "We simply cannot revere that which is enslaved to our interests, a puppet-god that we manipulate through our prayers and our behavior." (20, sidebar) Nice terse phrasing presents an old truth in a fresh way.
That's enough for today, now I must start writing that article... and tidying the study :(

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, December 10, 2008
  Christmas: In the deep mid-winter?
I've just received the latest mailing from Doug Greenwold of Preserving Bible Times (whose superb videos from a helicopter I enjoy using to show classes and church groups something of the layout of the land).
Photo by CharlesFred
Doug's "Contextual Reflections" emails often provide a neat reminder of the importance of geography or culture to reading between the lines of biblical texts. For this post I'll not focus on the main point of his Christmas message, they were largely not news to me, though could provide useful details for many a Christmas sermon. I'll mention a detail that's topical for us in the Southern Hemisphere, as we gear up for Christmas, singing carols about deep mid-winter and snow, while the weather, at last, starts to behave as if summer is on the way, and heaters get replaced by fans (or for the fortunate air conditioners ;)

The first Christmas was likely in summer!

Remember those shepherds "abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night"? Do you remember also Jesus' talk of sheepfolds (in John 10)? The habit, at least in areas near a village, was to pen sheep at night. So, why were the shepherds "keeping watch over their flock" "in the fields" at night? The peasant farmers round Bethlehem ("house of bread") would hardly want sheep trampling their fields of grain! (Few fields were fenced or walled in those parts.) However, after the harvest, things were different, sheep ate the stubble and, following digestion, their excretions fertilised the fields. At that season, sheep in the fields makes sense. Harvest would be in summertime. If there were sheep in the fields near Bethlehem at night then it seems likely that God ordained the first Christmas for summertime.
Christmas Eve by Frédérique in NZ
This is rather nice for complexed Southern Christians, who somehow feel that roaring fires, yule logs, snow and the rest of the traditional European festival are a necessary part of the season! (Barbara's choir just held their carol service, it is timed so that they can sing by candlelight at the close of the service ;)

[PS: Bite my Bible has a post claiming erroneous calculations by an Aussie astronomer are behind thoughts of a summer Christmas Jesus was a Gemini? they ask, while (by implication) answering "No!" - I think they are wrong Bite my Bible is too cautious by half ;) ]

Labels: , , ,

Monday, December 08, 2008
  East of West, and a Kitten not a Kerr
David's been taking lessons from Jim, his mega post The toppled ivory tower of Biblical studies and the rabble’s tower of babble that has risen in its place is full of Westian exaggeration and vituperation. "Rave on in the ruins of your ivory tower!" is about as gentle as it gets ;)
Dog and kitten by chadmiller
In the post he skewers the pretensions of the scholarly and calls for an engagement with the real world of Wikipedia and Study Bibles. The trouble is that the post nicely and neatly expands a false dichotomy. One must in Kerr's vision be either an ivory tower academic, or a Wikipedian Mega-pastor. West is little better, only the minimalist are blessed with all truth (however small that "all" may be) and anyone who lacks a fluent understanding of six ancient languages ought not dare discuss the Bible.

I am a kitten, not a Kerr. Without scholarship, where the careful and systematic study is lacking, all sorts of weird and wild ideas flourish (just look at the average American "Evangelical" website - or see the summaries offered by John Hobbins in The Poisoning of the Evangelical Mind: Antidotes or follow his links to the series of fundagelical posts by Michael Pahl). It may look as if we kittens are merely tangling balls of wool, but the tangling and untangling helps those who pay attention to avoid a worse tangling of the very ideas by which they live!
East - West by mollyali
I am east of West. For all his warmth, and erudition, Uncle Jim does exhibit a strangely un-Baptist elitism. If Zwingli stands with the proud, educated, rich and powerful, then I'll read my Bible in Babel with Thomas Muntzer and with that young cobbler the institution at which I teach is named after. As the Reformers pretty much all affirmed the Bible is "perspicuous" you do not need even a diploma, let alone a PhD toy understand what you need to know!

So - to David, I'll sound like Jim (scholarship is the governor which holds back our faith from the worst extremes of which it is capable) and to Jim, I'll sound like David (any biblical study which does not begin and end in the community of believers is vanity).

[Actually, I suspect that both my distant friends will agree with everything I've said above, except the bits that are rude about the other ;) But I do think it is really important, if dangerous and uncomfortable to stand firmly in the middle of this road!]
Photo by dlemieux

Labels: , ,

Saturday, November 01, 2008
  Vernacular resources for local churches
Here's a short Animoto video to explain the big idea...

Of course, if you want text... just read Watering the "Desert of Books" & Vernacular resources: watering the desert of books II.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, October 30, 2008
  New Testament help needed
For a paper I am writing I need some expert help from someone who has studied the NT more recently than I. Perhaps one of you can assist me. I need to do a lexeme search of the Greek NT text restricting my search to:
  • Material common to Matthew and Luke
  • Material special to Luke
  • Material special to Matthew
I have access to Bibleworks and Logos. Is there any way to do this, or does Z Hubert or someone else facilitate such a search online?

Labels: , ,

Monday, October 27, 2008
  Vernacular resources: watering the desert of books II
I'm just back from a long weekend away, and teaching tomorrow, so before I respond specifically to comments on the post below, I'll respond to some of the frequently asked questions in other conversations about the idea.

Won't the translations be inaccurate?

Oh yes! But this is part of the attraction of the project, as well as being rendered in the mother tongue the out of copyright texts are also adapted (a little more than is usual in a translation – for all translations are also to some extent cultural adaptations) this makes them more useful. But it may mean that some sort of peer review process should be built in, to ensure that undesirable errors do not creep in. I doubt this needs to be formalised. Since the new “text” is semi-oral and since semi-oral cultures have a flexibility to adapt their texts, the pastor would rework and improve any chapter that their colleagues question.

How will we ensure that busy senior pastors actually find time to do the translating?

First, not a lot of time is needed, just read a chapter, then reread it a paragraph at a time and speak it in their mother tongue. Say two hours for a chapter, once they have done a couple during a training day, and done the first few more slowly on their own. Second, the laptop itself is a carrot. It stays under their authority as long as they produce an agreed number of chapters – becoming their possession after an agreed period. Third, the fact that they are producing this resource is a source of honour (mana etc.) and the fact that it is in their voice will also add to their authority in other things.

Senior pastors won't be able to master the unfamiliar technology!

How many senior pastors do you know who do not have children (and/or grandchildren, nieces, nephews...) in their household. How much training do you think those guys will need? But it is true not all will be able or willing to support the project. Many useful medicines cannot be tolerated by some patients, Penicillin is a well-known example, this does not stop their use among the rest of the population!

Sometimes you have to really hunt for that mobile phone signal.
Photo by MikeBlyth

There will be a lot of new technology to break down and support!

Not a lot. Most of the distribution can be to existing mobile phones or MP3 players. So, for each district you are looking at one laptop (the OLPCs are designed to be rugged and if they are becoming the possession of the families there is an interest in protecting them) and perhaps several MP3 players (they are also very rugged and now quite cheap <$20 retail). You would naturally use the laptop model that is that is chosen for the national education system, or one for which support should be available. And anyway, how much does it cost under the old print system to get books to pastors? And they are culturally inappropriate books, in foreign languages!

This scheme gives the power to the local church!

Yes! Great isn't it :) Print allowed foreign missions, missionaries and ministries to produce “great” resources for the poor people people of the land. This way they get assisted to produce resources for themselves. If they start out doing Matthew Henry in Kisangali, how long do you think it will take before some pastors also produce their own “texts” dealing with locally raised issues? Where has print ever achieved that degree of localisation?

This scheme will reduce the motivation for literacy in places with low literacy rates :(

First, get your priorities right! What are you about? Helping people become clones of the West? Or deepening their understanding? Second, if you think this little project will have a bigger impact than radio, TV and mobile phones you have a higher view of its potential than I have ;) Literacy as we have known it for 500 years is under threat, but this project will not contribute much to the change, though it does work with it rather than resist... “Literacy” and “books” are not idols to be worshiped but a technology and skill that are no longer as dominant as they once were – do not make the dominant technology of the past a fetish object!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, October 24, 2008
  Watering the "Desert of Books"
Following on from my previous post The "book" of the future Theologians Without Borders has converted a comment to a stimulating post in Transferring Knowledge in a Desert of Books Jennifer Turner puts the experience of teaching in Africa where "libraries were very sparse, due both to shortage of funds and lack of materials in the local language" with the sight of an OLPC laptop, to generate the dream that we might "skip to the next generation of knowledge transfer" by putting a library on such a machine for village pastors.

How about we put these two posts together, and then tweak the results a bit?

At selected centres (like theological colleges) someone provides a laptop stacked with out of copyright or e-texts for which permission had been given. Senior pastors with a good command of the "imperial" language (English, French or whatever) then read selected works a paragraph at a time into the built-in microphone, translating into their mother tongue as they go. It would not be an accurate translation, and it might well include explanation, but that would just make it more useful!

It is in the senior pastors' interest to help, because they get to base a laptop at their home (their kids will nag them into it) and the churches they are responsible for will respect them even more.

These audio books get loaded onto mobile phones (or MP3 players) for village pastors and others. The result semi-literate (and lets face it in much of the world village pastors are often either semi-literate or less than fluently literate) pastors get real solid stimulus and information for a fraction of the cost of print.

It is in the village pastors' interest to listen because they will seem better educated, without all the hassle and risk to their status involved in moving from partial to full literacy.

Do the maths! For a district with say 20 local churches:
  • cost of one laptop, loaded with "books" $250
  • plus 20 MP3 players @ $30 = $600
Round it up to allow for labour $1,000. This provides all the pastoral workers and anyone else who is interested with all you can eat access to all the "books" on the laptop for (say, on average) five years. Compare this with printing "real" books, the same money probably buys 100 paper books!

All we need are:
  • enough people to catch the vision
  • publishers of texts like the Africa Bible Commentary to be willing to see their print editions reach extended twenty-fold
  • people to "sell" the idea to senior pastors
  • a bunch of Western agencies to give up their fetish for print!
Which of the above bottlenecks do you think will scupper this vision? Or can you see other problems with it?

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, October 20, 2008
  PodBible promo
Having seen David's promo video I've been playing with Animoto. Since in email conversation with David we determined that I have an unusually short attention span here first is the quiet slow version...

To put this video on your webpage or blog use this code:

<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>

The photos are all from Flickr with CC licenses, here are the credits:

Photos by freecultureNYU, biblicone, kretyen, Edward B.,, terren in Virginia, Alan Joyce, liewcf, GeoWombats, Wonderlane, knowhimonline, the bright and morning star, nexus6

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Photo from CNN
Have you seen this? Pope begins Bible-reading marathon

What a neat way to use the pope's star status!

I could not help wondering what would happen if BibleSoc and the Scripture Union's Christians in sport group (and a few others) got together and got NZ celebrities to read a gospel. It might not get on free to air TV here, but it could be cheap (by TV standards) to make, at least if the celebs volunteered their time. It could also go on DVD and YouTube so get wide distribution. Even with some imagination, become a serial story, stopping at exciting places and distributed by mobile phone as well as the other routes.

What a way to get Kiwis in touch with the Bible! And the cumulative impact of a whole bunch of celebs could really help make faith cool. Each of them would only have to give an hour or so of their time...

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, October 02, 2008
  The Bible as canonical meaning machine
Claude pointed to a small version of this superb visualisation by Chris Harrison, Carnegie Mellon University; Christoph Romhild, North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church/Science:

I wanted to see and know more, the report did not give enough details, and the image was too small to see the real beauty. So I chased down (hunting in the Boscogoogle) Chris Harrison's homepage. He gives more info, and much bigger images. There you can see the full beauty of this visualisation, and catch a glimpse of how the Bible functions as a canonical meaning machine. As I read the rather vague description the "cross references" are not diachronic allusions or quotations, but rather the sort of connection real readers synchronically make (see the discussions of "intertextuality" in the bibliablogsphere captured in the Carnival or start here Intertextuality: Part 3 and work back).


Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 16, 2008
  Bible "Style Guide"
Huge thanks to Stephen for the tip off (via email) to this brilliant resource:

The Bible Style Guide may be "a reference text designed specifically for those working within the media industry." But the "crash course in the Bible" it offers is good for far more than just "busy journalists, broadcasters and bloggers." It combines a very brief, down to earth, and wise glossary of key terms that people use when talking about the Bible. With a crash course in the nature of biblical literature, translation and the Bible in today's world. There is probably no one who can not learn something from this free 70+ page book!

Students, do you:
  • think Ebionite is a sort of ancient plastic?
  • a Codex is used to decode secret messages?
  • that a canon goes "bang"?
Just get The Bible Style Guide and look it up! The answers are neat, quick and sensible.

Kids, do you think the Bible is old fashioned but confused because you were brought up to think it a Holy Book?
Just get The Bible Style Guide and browse through it like a magazine.

Mature Christians (that's code for "not longer young" and somewhat stuck in a rut) just get the (totally free)
Bible Style Guide and discover something new and inspiring - before breakfast.

Teachers, fed up with people who do your Intro class yet still think the Catholic Epistles were written by Pope Benedict? Point all your classes to The Bible Style Guide and then warn them you'll get tough on people who have not at least mastered its under 80 pages!

Quite seriously this is the most compact, useful and easy to use Bible Handbook I have ever seen...

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, September 07, 2008
  Free audio books
Librivox is a great project, it uses volunteers to read, edit, prooflisten and make available copyright-free audio books.

I've done several chapters in collaborative projects, and also several "solo" readings. My most popular (so far) have been:
Compare that with just 750 downloads from of my recording of the much better-known Just So Stories and you get a picture of the benefits of collaboration on a project like this!

I am just finishing Three Men and a Maid by PG Wodehouse and was really encouraged by the feedback on these recordings from Gustav evacuees (see Gustav, Librivox and Life).

In its way PodBible is another collaborative (over 300 volunteer readers and dozens of ongoing volunteer workers) reading the Bible first live over a long weekend, now podcasting the Bible a chapter a day or the whole Bible in a year, and soon to make individual books available in one hour chunks as an audio Bible you could download and put on CD or cassette for those with poor eyesight. The translation we used the CEV is designed for easy listening and is suitable for ESL listeners.

There is also a PodBible Facebook page where a different group of listeners can get a daily "fix" of the Bible.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, August 23, 2008
  Comparing free video sharing services
Here is the same video uploaded to two different video sharing services:

I wonder if your impressions of the two services match mine?
BTW in both cases the default settings were used. Otherwise I'd have "shrunk" the Blip version ;)

Labels: , ,

Thursday, August 07, 2008
  Nice name
Deirdre, who is determined to be no sausage, posted about a product with a nice name Ear Bible I had not heard of this before, but it is also a nice idea, a whole audio Bible on a player.

However, like Deirdre I be pushing pause a lot, the translation they chose for Ear Bible (the NASB) is far from ideal for hearing. It is a deliberately "formal equivalence" translation, which means that it is only just English. For regular speakers of Biblish it is fine, but for our primary target group when we started PodBible, it is far from ideal. We imagined people who did not grow up with the KJV, don't speak Biblish, are not used to sitting down to "study a book" for such people (most of us today ;) the NASB is not the audio Bible of choice.

We chose the Contemporary English Version, a Bible intended and translated to be read aloud, an audio Bible translation. So compare a sample passage in each version and imagine which would be easier to hear:
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. [NASB]
God has also given each of us different gifts to use. If we can prophesy, we should do it according to the amount of faith we have. If we can serve others, we should serve. If we can teach, we should teach. If we can encourage others, we should encourage them. If we can give, we should be generous. If we are leaders, we should do our best. If we are good to others, we should do it cheerfully. [CEV]
Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the NASB, just suggesting it is not the best translation choice for an audio Bible. So if you want a Bible for your ears, an easy to listen to audio Bible give PodBible a try... and while you are at it how about becoming a fan of PodBible: every one's audio Bible on Facebook!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 06, 2008
  PodBible audio Bible on FaceBook
Wayne (really is an early adopter ;) I'd hardly started to promote the FaceBook page I'm making for PodBible, than he had a post "PodBible on Facebook".

Basically the idea is to enable/encourage people to:
  • listen to the Bible
  • share things that they have thought, prayed or done as a result of listening
  • encourage each other to respond to the biblical chapters they hear
To join in just go to the PodBible everyone's audio Bible page and click "become a fan".

If you are a FaceBook guru I'd be very glad of suggestions on how to make this "work" better. If you are a keen Bible listener, then do add some stories to the page!

Labels: , ,

Monday, July 28, 2008
  Genesis Wordles (part 1)
Belatedly, since the applet crashes my computer :( I have begun playing with the Wordle toy. Since I am teaching Genesis this semester I began by looking at the ones for the whole book, that others had posted.

I am getting some interesting comments from students, so tomorrow I plan to show the class these.

Genesis 1-11:

Genesis 12-50

What do you think? Do these begin to capture some of the distinctives of the two sections of the book? Or do they rather reinforce the common themes of the whole work?

It would also be interesting to look at the different strands (at least P and J) so does anyone know how I can get hold of electronic copies of P Genesis and J Genesis in English translation?

Labels: , ,

  Amos, Paul and PodBible
At the end of last week the PodBible chapter-a-day podcasts started reading Amos, the reader is Carey's principal, Paul Windsor. It must be Baptist week or something, because today's reading in the Bible in a year series is read by Bev Edmiston, who works in the Tranzsend office (she got the less enviable task of reading Ezra).

Labels: ,

Sunday, July 20, 2008
  Israel: a virtual study tour
I had an interesting email the other day, a parent wants to take their son on a virtual study tour to Israel. I was asked to suggest ten places to "visit", selected because of their "historical importance, but also of picturesque value". I had to admit that I am biased, I teach only Old Testament and so when in Israel I never visited the
places that mattered to Jesus!

A task for you

So, I thought I'd make a start and ask you all to join in. I'll post my fragmentary list, with some reasons, either in comments here or on your blog (in which case please place a comment with a link to the post here, so that I can gather the posts into a full listing in a future post. Nominate places giving a short description of your reasons.

First some ground rules:
  1. though we must end up with a list of ten we can discuss more places before we narrow the list
  2. the list is fosused on enriching understanding of the Bible
  3. places should be either of great historical or geographical significance
  4. we will need a balance of places of significance for the Jewish/ChristianHebrew Bible, and also the Christian New Testament, as well as those that illustrate the geography of the land
  5. the surrounding geography will form part of the virtual visit, so below I suggest Megiddo in part because of its location.
Notice that the list is intended to be of use for understanding of the Bible story - so e.g. Tel Azekah and the Elah Valley might get in, regardless of one's estimation of the historicity or otherwise of the characters David and Goliath, since a visit to a Shephellah valley would assist understanding the stories of Judges-Kings.
Photo from Wikipedia
My first suggestion
  • Megiddo: (a) geographically significant to explain the Plain of Jezreel (b) significance of trade routes (c) site of battles including (?) the one talked about in Revelation in the NT (d) Iron Age administrative centre (e) importance of water supply (f) gate complex and (g) Bronze Age cultic site.
Note that this makes it less likely that Hazor (trade routes, gates and Bronze Age cult) or Beersheba (gates, administrative centre, water supply) will make the final cut - places like this that serve multiple functions are especially useful!

Labels: , , , ,

SEARCH Tim's sites
Posts listed by topic
My academic CV

Write to Tim

January 2004 / February 2004 / March 2004 / May 2004 / June 2004 / July 2004 / August 2004 / September 2004 / October 2004 / November 2004 / December 2004 / January 2005 / February 2005 / March 2005 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / May 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 / November 2007 / December 2007 / January 2008 / February 2008 / March 2008 / April 2008 / May 2008 / June 2008 / July 2008 / August 2008 / September 2008 / October 2008 / November 2008 / December 2008 / January 2009 / February 2009 / March 2009 / April 2009 / May 2009 / June 2009 / July 2009 / August 2009 / September 2009 / October 2009 / November 2009 / December 2009 / January 2010 / February 2010 / March 2010 /

biblical studies blogs:

other theology/church blogs:


Powered by Blogger

Technorati Profile

Yellow Pages for Auckland, New Zealand