August 2011 Biblical Studies Carnival

This month’s theme is carnie-mentalism, which is the emphasis on a return to the carnie-mentals. Carnie-mentalism dates to the early twentieth century with the publication of The Carnie-mentals, which decisively and irrefutably demolished all contemporary and any possible future Carnival scholarship that challenged or may ever challenge then-recent interpretations of the Carnie Code. To this day, one need only cite The Carnie-mentals to flatly undermine attempts by all those who hate and wish to destroy the Code through ignorant and biased Carnival scholarship. For this reason, real Carnies need not familiarize themselves with contemporary Carnival scholarship. It has not changed appreciably since the publication of The Carnie-mentals, after all. It still relies on the same anti-Carnival presuppositions.  



Only real Carnies are capable of true carnie-ism and effective carnie-ship. Everyone else can be easily categorized as a-carnie-istic, and that categorization alone proves their total depravity and undermines any attempt on their part to spread their hatred of the truth. Carnie-mentalism helps to make everything reductive and black and white. John Loftus explains why answered prayers are a problematic evidence for one’s faith, and offers some words of criticism for prominent a-carnie-ist, P. Z. Myers. Matt Flanagan also reviews Loftus’ The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails. Jim West offers an ostensibly tongue-in-cheek proposal for dealing with heretics, but John Loftus calls it hate speech. James McGrath hosts a portion of the debate on his blog.



Carnie-volution is a theory that is full of holes and is precluded by a carnie-mentalist reading of the Carnie Code. It will be proven false one day. James McGrath asks if an Evangelical Christians can accept carnie-volution. See also here, here, and here. David Withun and John Sanidopolous point to research that suggests carnie-volution has hardwired humans to believe in the divine and an afterlife. Brian LePort offers thoughts on the discussion of carnie-volution among Christians. Dr. Jim announces a lecture in September at the University of Lethbridge by Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education. John Loftus argues that God and evolution don’t mix. Peter Kirk also argues that Scott Bailey is in bed with creationists!



The question of what constitutes a carnie-blog was raised again in light of the work of Steve Caruso with the Biblioblog Reference Library’s inclusion criteria and my own inclusion of some possibly peripheral blogs in the Biblioblogger’s Top 10. Steve asks for some feedback; Rod of Alexandria thinks he’s on the right track; Joel Watts does too; Scott Bailey shares his opinion; Jim West, roughly 7% of who’s posts are tagged as Bible related, is characteristically sarcastic; James Bradford Pate chimes in; John Hobbins offers several good thoughts; as does James McGrath; and John Loftus explains why he feels he stands in the gap. In reality, the definition of a carnie-blog depends upon which group we feel we need to exclude from Carnie-dom. Usually, it is any blog that accepts the fundamental tenets of Carnie-mentalism, which were developed over several centuries by majority vote well after the first carnies lived and died. Many contemporary groups that do accept those tenets, however, can be excluded from Carnie-dom if I disagree with their actions or interpretations of the Carnie Code.


Carnival Archaeology

There were multiple exciting developments in the world of carnival archaeology. Several bloggers commented on the discovery of a 2,000 year-old gold ornamental bell that may have fallen from a carnival barker’s jacket (or a priest’s robe). As several people have reported, the BBC has also finally partially caught up with bloggers regarding the Jordan Lead Codices (it only took a couple months). The discovery of an ossuary bearing the inscription, “Miriam, Daughter of Yeshua, Son of Caiaphas” was also mentioned by multiple bloggers. Jim West also has news on Zahi Hawass and Tel es-Safi.



Carn-ythicism is the stupid notion that the foundational events of Carnie-dom are mythical just because there’s no actual evidence for them. As usual, James McGrath had several posts on carn-ythicism (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8). Contributions were also made by John Loftus, Neil Godfrey, Landon Hedrick, Joel Watts, Tom Verenna, and John Loftus.


Carnival Criticism

Carnival Criticism is the practice of hating the Carnie Code so much that one feels the need to treat it as if it were in any way of human origin. John Anderson’s dissertation is set to be published. Nick Norelli wants pastors to stay current on their scholarship. Rod of Alexandria provides the third post in a series entitled How Can You Tell If You’re Doing Critical Scholarship (part 1, 2). Deane Galbraith has two interesting posts up about Philistines. In the first, he responds to Claude Mariottini’s recent series, Who Killed Goliath? (his series here: 1, 2, 3), and in the second he points out that Goliath and the average Philistine woman would have been about the same height as Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries. No real Carnie-mentalist can ignore this research. Scott Bailey asks, Who wrote the book of Hebrews? Marc Cortez wonders if pastors need to know the “background” of the Bible. Christopher Heard announces a future review of The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism is not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture. Scott McKnight has three reviews of the same book up. Mark Goodacre offers some thoughts on historical Jesus research and “multiple attestation” and “embarrassment” as criteria. David Lamb thinks Baal didn’t show up to Elijah’s challenge because he was dropping the kids off at the pool, so to speak. Lastly, Thom Stark raises some issues with Michael Heiser’s notion of Yahweh, El, and “species uniqueness.”


Carnie-mentalism (of all kinds!)

Scott Bailey starts a series on the silly notion that higher criticism attempts to Destroy the Bible? (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) Randal Rauser can’t reason with Fundamentalists when it comes to Harry Potter. Gavin at Otagosh and Scott Bailey shake their heads at Alvin Plantinga’s position on hermeneutics, but John Hobbins comes to Plantinga’s defense (but see also Scott’s rejoinder and the ensuing discussion). Joel Watts criticizes a similar view. Mark Driscoll brings his unfortunately not-unique-enough brand of Carnie-mentalism to the show and gets pummeled by bloggers from Rachel Held Evans to Bob Cargill (twice) to Scott Bailey to Christian Salafia. Xanthe Wyse also gives us the Top Ten Signs You’re a Fundamentalist Christian. John Loftus takes aim at Paul Copan’s attempts to whitewash objectionable parts of the Bible, and Thom Stark updates his short note on the same.



Whether or not this topic belongs to Carnie-mentalism or not is not a question I’m going to settle here, but in the interest of avoiding controversy, I’m going to put it in the often-overlapping category of extremism. A Norwegian named Anders Breivik killed more than 90 people in dual terrorist attacks on July 22. News of his conservative political and socio-religious views spawned an enormous discussion among pundits of all kinds. Bloggers weighed in in droves:

Larry Tanner

Fr. Stephen Smuts, 2, 3, 4

Rod of Alexandria

Tom Verenna

John Loftus

Joel Watts, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

James McGrath

Roland Boer, 2, 3, 4, 5

Jim West, 2, 3, 4

Scot McKnight

Michael on a Nadder



Rebecca over at Mystical Politics has posted a friend’s open letter about the Israel/Palestine conflict. Rachel at Revising Reform (who has a helpful list of female theology bloggers) has a post up that ponders Pilate’s question, “What is truth?” On Hebrew and Greek Reader Tonya has posts up discussing the participation of females in the academy (here, here, and here). Two blogs by women to be aware of are SpoudazO Logos and the Happy Surprise. Michael Hanel has a series of posts up on The BibleWorks Blog about BibleWorks’ Manuscript Project and other features of the new release. Numerous other bloggers also posted comments and links related to the new release at the end of June. Judith Weingarten has a three-part series on Zenobia and the Manichean convert (Part 1, 2, 3). James Spinti reviews Zondervan’s new Aramaic grammar. Duane Smith highlights Martin West’s Homeric scholarship


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