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SBL Course Packs

The Society of Biblical Literature is circulating an email announcing new “course packs” offered through University Readers. Basically, the packs collect a series of representative readings from publications within a specific field and allows the student to read them at a discounted rate (an article in an edited volume appears to average about $4). It appears to be aimed at instructors trying to put together curricula. Check it out.


Free Download: Lenzi & Stökl, Divination, Politics, & Ancient Near Eastern Empires

SBL has made the following volume available for free download here:

Here is the table of contents:

TOC

 


Housewarming Book Sale

I am in the latter stages of building a house for my family and me and am trying to scrape together funds to help furnish said house. As part of this housewarming campaign, I’m offering some books for sale. They’re pretty much all in great shape, although some have light to heavy highlighting or notes. If anyone is interested in anything below, let me know and we can negotiate something. My preferred method of payment is just an Amazon giftcard. (That’s where I’m getting a lot of the stuff for the house.)

ETA:


Jacob Wright’s Free Online Course on the Bible!

 

Jacob Wright

I am halfway through the first week’s set of lectures for Jacob Wright’s new free online course on the Bible entitled “The Bible’s Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future,” and I thought I would pause to share some thoughts. The course is hosted by Coursera and Jacob’s own institution, Emory University, and a certificate can be earned for completion of the course and the requisite quizzes (for those who wish; the quizzes are not mandatory). So far the lectures—which should take a couple hours a week to complete and can be viewed at the students leisure—have so far provided excellent historical and conceptual foundations for understanding the rise of Israel and the origins of the Bible. I would highly recommend the course to anyone interested in learning more about the history and future of the Bible. Check it out!


New SBL Texts and Resources Page

The Society of Biblical Literature has just launched a new Texts and Resources page for members that provides access to PDFs and online versions of the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS), the UBS Greek New Testament (UBS4), the Rahlf’s edition of the Septuagint, and the Biblia Sacra luxta Vulgatam. Here is the page’s description:

The decades-long commitment of the German Bible Society has produced the staples that have nourished generations of biblical scholars and translators. The booklet Textual Research on the Bible highlights this work. Through a partnership with the German Bible Society, the reading texts (upper texts, without critical apparatus) of four editions are available to SBL members in several formats for download and personal use.

The PDFs of the full documents are quite large, but you can download one book at a time, or use the online version to copy and paste text into other applications. Here’s a screenshot of the page for the BHS:

BHS


Part 1 of Review of How God Became Jesus is up at Near Emmaus

Part 1 of my now-two-part review of Bird, et al., How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus’ Divine Nature is now posted at Near Emmaus. In this segment I respond only to the contributions of Bird, of which I am quite critical. Please have a look and feel free to comment here, there, or anywhere.


Out of Town

The Acropolis from Filopappou Hill

I’ve been out of town for the last week and haven’t had much time for reading or writing. I have been having a good time, though. The above is a picture I took one morning while I was jogging.

I should have my review of the Bird response to Ehrman done this week and posted on Near Emmaus. I will probably have to split it into two reviews. The first will address all of Bird’s contributions, and the second will address the remaining. I appreciate your patience!


Review: Bart Ehrman, How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee

Brian LePort has kindly posted my review of Bart Ehrman’s new book How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee at Near Emmaus. Check it out and let me know what you think here or there.


Guest Blogging on Christology at Near Emmaus

I will be publishing my reviews of Bart Ehrman’s book, How Jesus Became God, and Michael Bird’s response volume, How God Became Jesus, in a four-part series at Near Emmaus (thank you, Brian LePort!). My first post is now up there, and it lays some preliminary groundwork by interacting critically with Richard Bauckham’s christology of divine identity model. Since most of the authors of the review volume appear to adopt it, I thought it would save some time to articulate some of my concerns ahead of time. Following the reviews, my final post in the series will discuss my own thoughts on the development of Christ’s identification with God.


Paula Fredriksen on Early Jewish Monotheism

I’m reading back through a number of sources that have been cited and have been conspicuously not cited by both sides of the current Ehrman/Bird-Evans-Gathercole-Hill-Tilling debate, and I’ve been impressed (again) by some comments made by Paula Fredriksen about the treatment of the notion of monotheism by the Early High Christology Club that bear sharing:

Big books and long articles have appeared analyzing the sudden and early development of high christological claims by imputing an austere and exclusive monotheism to late Second Temple Judaism.28 Jews are distinguished from pagan contemporaries on the basis of their cultic exclusivism, a consequence of this monotheism. The persecution of Gentile Christians, in turn, is explained as the result of their commitment, inherited from Judaism, to this sort of monotheism. Meanwhile, the higher the christological claims, the more ingenious the various and scholarly reassurances that these claims do not, in fact, compromise monotheism.

All this raises the question, What do we mean by “monotheism”? In the modern context of its origin, the word denotes belief in a single god who is the only god. When modern scholars transpose the term to antiquity, the definition remains constant. And that is a large part of the problem.

Ancient monotheism spoke to the imagined architecture of the cosmos, not to its absolute population. Ancient monotheism means “one god on top,” with other gods ranged beneath, lower than, and in some sense subordinate to the high god. People of sufficient education who thought philosophically about relations between levels of divinity might see these lower gods as ontologically contingent on the high god; less philosophical monotheists were content simply to assert that their own god was the biggest, the most powerful, or the best god.

Fredriksen, “Mandatory Retirement: Ideas in the Study of Christian Origins Whose Time Has Come to Go,” in Israel’s God and Rebecca’s Children (D. B. Capes, et al., eds.; Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2007), 35.

Y’see, in his discussion of early christology, Ehrman explicitly adopts the idea of the divine/human relationship as a continuum, or spectrum (helped along by Peppard, whom I address here), over and against the contemporary notion of a strict and clear divine/human dichotomy that is so often the conceptual linchpin that makes the detection of an early high christology possible (for Bauckham most critically). For proponents of the latter conceptualization, first century Judaism is staunchly and consciously monotheistic because of this dichotomous relationship of God to “all other reality,” but the philosophical lexicon and lenses that make such a view possible are generally just assumed, without argument, to have been issued to every Jewish person of the first century of the Common Era. The reality of the ancient world is much more complicated than that, as Fredriksen points out above (and more forcefully in her review of Hurtado’s Lord Jesus Christ). Building on the work of Gradel, Fredriksen, and others, Peppard and now Ehrman highlight this concern, but I have yet to see a single reference to those precedents in the essays on monotheism from Bird’s response, much less a cogent challenge to their arguments. There is still more left for me to read, though. Individual reviews and thoughts on the overall debate will be forthcoming.


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