Saturday, January 31, 2009

Best of Biblia Hebraica 2008, Part 2

To celebrate my upcoming one-year blogging anniversary, I've been listing some of my favorite posts from 2008.  The first part is here and covers the first half of the year through July. 

These are posts that I think represent some of my best work and clearest thinking on a variety of subjects.  I've divided this part by subject. It's kind of like a Biblical Studies Carnival for just this blog. (Which reminds me...whatever happened to Biblical Studies Carnival XXXVII?)

Biblical Archaelogy

2008 was a big year for biblical archaeology.  Some of the notable finds for the last half of the year included the Gedalyahu seal and the Kuttamuwa stele from Zincirli, a copper mine connected by some to Solomon, and an inscription from Khirbet Qeiyafa.

Archaeology Proves the Bible Again (Aug 4)

A discussion of the significance of the seal of Gedalyahu ben Pashur.

What If Israel Knohl is Right? (Aug 27)

The regular posting on Gabriel's Vision continued with several posts in August. The sensational headlines were coming steadily on the topic and most implied that the find somehow diminished the claims of Christianity. Here I pointed out that they actually did quite the opposite.

Chrestou the Magician or Jesus Christ, Magic Man? (Oct 2)

Another example of a sensational interpretation (and wrong) interpretation of an artifact getting press time because of a suggested biblical connection.

Rainey's Selective Use of Evidence for Israelite Origins (Oct 25)

A well-received review of Rainey's BAR article.  It earned me a place in the Guild of Biblical Minimalists.  Rainey continued on the topic during his SBL presentation which I also reported on here.

SBL: Kuttamuwa Stele from Zincirli (Nov 24)

A report on Dennis Pardee's presentation on the inscription at SBL in Boston.

Bible Translations

Comments on the TNIV and Gender Language (Aug 10)

A discussion of the TNIV's approach to gendered language in translation.

A Few More Thoughts on the TNIV (Aug 11)

A Three Part Review of the NLT & ESV Study Bibles (Sept 1-3)

I compared my new NLT Study Bible on the Book of Jonah with the preview of the ESV Study Bible on Jonah.  I also made general comments on the NLT Study Bible since I had the whole book.

My Ranking of English Bible Translations (Sept 3)

Some were upset that the TNIV didn't make my top ten list.

Translation Insights from the Nida School 2008 (Sept 29)

I was privileged to spend 2 weeks in September in Italy learning about bible translation at the Nida School.

Old in the New: NLT Romans 1:17 (Nov 12)

Biblical Interpretation

Isaiah 50 and the Messiah (Aug 20)

This post deals with the issue of a suffering messiah in the Hebrew Bible.

Christological Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible (Oct 6)

Christological interpretation was a popular topic in October. This was our first post on the subject.  Others are here and here.

Commensality as Idolatry in Tannaitic Literature (Nov 27)

A report on Jordan Rosenblum's presentation from SBL.

Behold, A Virgin Shall Be With Child... (Dec 22)

A discussion of the translation and interpretation the word for "virgin" or "young woman" in Isa 7:14.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Biblia Hebraica now with RefTagger

Tonight I added RefTagger to the blog, so you can now see a pop-up of the verse for virtually all of the Bible references on the site.

And if you don't like the ESV, switch it on the control panel at the top right of the page and all the references will change to your preferred version except for ones where I've specifically marked the version.

It was quick and easy to install and seems to be working great.

If you have a blog or Bible-related website, I recommend adding it.

I only wish they had it set up to pull the Hebrew or Greek, too.

Here's a sample: Gen. 1:1-3

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Minor Milestone

Sometime during the day today Biblia Hebraica passed the 15,000 mark for page loads from when I started keeping track last August 1. 

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Best of Biblia Hebraica 2008 - Part 1

The first anniversary of this blog is coming up in about two weeks, so I thought I would post here a list of my best posts from 2008. The posts are in chronological order. This part has the list through July. The next part will cover the rest of the year.

Lost in Translation: the Benefits of Reading the "Original" (Feb 11)

This post tries to encourage people that they're not missing much if they can't read Hebrew or Greek, but I end up concluding they should probably learn them anyway.

Bible Translation Philosophy (Feb 15)

This is a basic introduction to the difference between word-for-word and thought-for-thought translation approaches.

Where is the God of Justice? (Feb 25)

This post is about the interpretation of Malachi 3.

Use of the OT in the NT -- Mark 1:2-3 (Mar 7)

As It is Written ... Mark 1:2 (Mar 18)

These two posts are about Mark's use of Malachi and Isaiah.

The Holman Christian Standard Bible (Mar 19)

This is my review of the HCSB translation.

Using the NT to Validate OT Historicity (May 12)

Here I deal with the tricky question of whether the NT writers are "proving" the historicity of OT characters by mentioning Adam or Abraham or Jonah by name.

Studying Hebrew Bible at Wisconsin (July 10)

This is my answer to several students seeking a grad program in Hebrew Bible who inquired about the program here at UW-Madison.

Gabriel's Vision - 10 posts (started in July)

Israel Knohl's interpretation of this inscription hit the news media in July and inspired many posts.

Musings on Messianic Motifs (July 23)

The interpretation of Gabriel's Vision led me to more and more about the issue of messianic expectation in the Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Period.

A Modern Messiah (July 29)

This posts links to a brilliant satire highlighting the messianic-like expectations that help fuel the popularity of President Obama (which reminds me of this comic that came out just before the inauguration).

Tune in next time for . . . the Best of Biblia Hebraica 2008, Part 2.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Presenting on Creation in Second Isaiah

I learned this afternoon that my paper on "Creation Traditions in Isaiah 40-66" was accepted for presentation at the Upper Midwest SBL regional meeting in March in St. Paul. It will be my first time presenting a paper since I've been in grad school. I'm looking forward to it.

Now if I could only come up with a dissertation topic . . .

Blogging will probably be light in the coming months as I'll be consumed with working, teaching, preparing for preliminary exams, and writing a dissertation proposal . . . among other things.

Update (1/22/09): Thanks, James, for pointing out that I meant the Upper Midwest region, not the Midwest region. Jordan and James, I'm not sure how but your comments ended up in moderation limbo without an email coming to me to come approve them. That's why they've sat unpublished for a week. Sorry about that.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The More Things Change . . .

You know the cliche - the more things change, the more they stay the same. I started re-reading Wellhausen's Prolegomena to the History of Ancient Israel just now. He tells about his epiphany when he learned that Graf dated the Prophets before the Law, and later on, he describes the controversy engendered by the idea that P (the Priestly Source - Leviticus, etc.) was later than D (Deuteronomy).  I found his description of the apologetic attempted rebuttals strangely familiar.
To say all in a word, the arguments which were brought into play as a rule derived all their force from a moral conviction that the ritual legislation must be old, and could not possibly have been committed to writing for the first time within the period of Judaism; that it was not operative before then, that it did not even admit of being carried into effect in the conditions that prevailed previous to the exile, could not shake the conviction--all the firmer because it did not rest on argument--that at least it existed previously (pp. 11-12; emphasis original).
Julius Wellhausen, Prolegomena to the History of Ancient Israel, Meridian, 1957 [originally published 1878, German]. E-book version available here.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Wise Well-Written Words

Why can't scholars be better writers? Writing well is hard work, but it is well worth the effort if one wants to be read.

Benjamin Schwarz's article "Geography Is Destiny" (a review of Europe Between the Oceans) in the December 2008 issue of The Atlantic has an artful lead-in that reminded me both of how dull academic writing often is and of how good popular writing can be. It was merely a bonus that Schwarz's insightful comments about archaeology cut to the heart of the pop biblical archaeology explosion of 2008. Enjoy. Take notes. Learn.
Great archaeologists are often at war with themselves. They aim to explain seismic transformations—social and cultural, economic, demographic, even genetic. But they do so by sifting (literally and figuratively) physical evidence that's scant and (literally and figuratively) fragmentary. These methods mean that nearly all their publications are narrow and exceedingly dry, even by academic standards. And even on those rare occasions when they venture beyond the journal article or monograph, their writing seldom tempts even the most archaeologically besotted general reader. For instance, although the great archaeologist of Mesopotamia Robert McCormick Adams has revolutionized scholars' understanding of the origins of urban civilization, his oversize tomes, with their detailed maps of watercourses and settlement patterns and meticulous charts of pottery types, resemble field reports, not works of history. But because archaeology addresses the most basic questions and explores the most profound changes in human history by means of a grossly incomplete record—and perhaps because it was long the province of aristocrats and buccaneers—it has invited the sort of bold interpretations in which speculation can too easily become untethered from evidence. When archaeology is done right, it's frequently dull; when it's fascinating, it's frequently wrong.

So Europe Between the Oceans, at once compelling and judicious, is an extraordinary book. . . .