Quote of the Day – Justin Martyr

“For these words have not been fashionably arranged by me, nor embellished by human technique, but rather David sang them, Isaiah preached them, Zechariah heralded them, Moses recorded them. Do you recognize them Trypho? They are stored up in your Scriptures, or rather not in yours but in ours, for we are obedient to them, but when you read them, you do not understand the “mind” in them [ὑμεῖς δὲ ἀναγινώσκοντες οὐ νοεῖτε τὸν ἐν αὐτοῖς νοῦν].”

(Justin Martyr, Dial. 29.2; trans. Matthew W. Bates, ‘Close-Minded Hermeneutics? A Proposed Alternative Translation for Luke 24:45’, JBL 129, no. 3 (2010): 537–557)

The Exodus as Portrayed in the Hebrew Bible is True!

Not really, but that sure got your attention didn’t it?  Well, anyway, according to the journalists over at MSNBC, it was a storm which parted the Red Sea which is portrayed in the Book of Exodus.

Mother Earth could have parted the Red Sea, hatching the great escape described in the biblical book of Exodus, a new study finds.

A strong east wind, blowing overnight, could have swept water off a bend where an ancient river is believed to have merged with a coastal lagoon along the Mediterranean Sea, said study team member Carl Drews of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. While archaeologists and Egyptologists have found little evidence that any events described in Exodus actually happened, the study outlines a perfect storm that could have led to the 3,000-year-old escape.

Oh, dilettantes,…when will you learn?   So typical of these news stories, they receive a study like this and immediately attach it to a Biblical account.  Also, it is incorrect that archaeologists and Egyptologists have found “little evidence”…in point of fact, they have found none.  So much for accurate journalism.

Read on, that is, if you’re a masochist or a religious ascetic: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39287373/ns/technology_and_science-science/

Update: Jim West offers his valuable insights!  Read his response here.

Anthropology and the Bible: Critical Perspectives (via Zwinglius Redivivus)

Being that this is edited by a friend of mine, I will of course support it and you should too! If you have the chance and the means, pick up a copy.

Anthropology and the Bible: Critical Perspectives Edited by my friend and yours, Emanuel Pfoh, and published by Gorgias Press. The papers in this anthology represent the proceedings of the Anthropology and the Bible session from the European Association of Biblical Studies Annual Meeting held in Lincoln, UK (July 2009). The main aim of the session is to foster critical uses of social anthropology for reading biblical scholarship and ancient Near Eastern studies related to the Bible as well. The … Read More

via Zwinglius Redivivus

Quote of the Day: Bill Maher

Found here.

‎”As long as you write something on the internet and do not add ‘lol’, it is true” – Bill Maher

Is the ‘Quest for the Historical Jesus’ Over? (via Zwinglius Redivivus)

Jim on the Quests.

Is the 'Quest for the Historical Jesus' Over? The Sheffield blog posts an interesting observation concerning the potential reasons why interest in the HJ seems to be waning. I have a simple answer (which i also shared there) – there’s scant interest in the question because it’s by now just boring.  It isn’t interesting at all to read the same arguments over and over again.  Rehashed and rewarmed HJ studies are just about as appealing as old leftover spaghetti. To say it another way- scholars … Read More

via Zwinglius Redivivus

More Discussion over Accreditation

Jim West has been making some interesting points on his blog about Accreditation and the ‘scheme’ that drives it. However, I must again stress that it is important to have a means in place to judge proficiency in the Humanities, particularly in the field of history.Richard Carrier explains why having the most qualified people keep track of the most probabilistic data and interpretations on the past is important:

By contrast, true historians will identity every primary source, every shred of relevant evidence, so the reader will be able to check their claims. Where the evidence is incomplete and they have to speculate, they will admit it, keeping facts and judgment distinct. They seek to understand why things happened the way they did, and will openly use evidence to support their accounts, and by concealing nothing, and by not pretending their assumptions are facts, they permit the reader to reach his or her own judgment about the truth. Above all, they open themselves to the examination of their peers, and facilitate future scholarship by checking and correcting the claims of other historians. That is why their results are far more trustworthy, far more useful, than the products of dogmatists and demagogues.
We obviously do not want history in the hands of ideologues or mythmakers who don’t care about facts, but who will simply make up whatever suits their particular agenda. We want history in the hands of skilled researchers held to high standards of evidence and argument within a widespread framework of expert peer review, criticism, debate, and openness to progress and admission of error. As in science, a willingness to accept and live with uncertainty and doubt is essential to progress toward truth in history: for you cannot approach the truth without being willing to abandon the false. Truth in history, no less than in science, is conditional on future discoveries, and is built on probability, not any sort of unachievable certainty. The dogmatists, demagogues, and mythmakers will mislead and manipulate us and try to confuse our memory, but the historians will try their best to keep our collective memory deep and accurate, and above all brutally honest. In other words, to have a sharp and reliable memory, and to enjoy its benefits, we need the scientific historian. It is essential. But not just anyone can do the job. To have such experts requires years of highly specialized training.

In truth, we rely on qualified people, certified–at least in some manner–as experts so we can at least have a better idea as to who is more reliable towards interpreting the data available.  Most people are not proficient in Latin, Greek, German, Hebrew, Cuneiform, Oscan, Arabic, or Italian.  Most individuals could not tell you the difference between a piece of a stele from  the New Kingdom of Eygpt or an inscription from an ancient school in Mesopotamia.  Perhaps they could make some good guesses and perhaps they might get it correct.  But when it comes to preserving the past of civilization, of what might have come before, we should not be asking people with no background in the field of study to make a guess.  If we’re going to get a guess (which, admittedly, is a good portion of historical inquiry), we should want someone who has at least proven themselves reliably proficient in the languages, in the cultural milieux, in exegesis.

I concur with Jim that it doesn’t always mean the person has to have an advanced degree (or any degree); there are plenty of bright, sophisticated amateur researchers who are honest, diligent, and deliberate in their studies on historical subjects.   That said, I do however feel that those individuals should be judged according to similar practices as those who hold degrees in order to show they are reliable.  Whether that be through Peer Review, or through publication of their theories, or through a period of observation from those who are credible, or some other form of verification whereby it can be shown that such individuals are not mere ideologues or dogmatists or whatever you want to call them, a system should exist (perhaps it already does?  Biblioblogging–does that count?) to weigh the veracity of what a person says to the majority of those who hold credible degrees.  The irony, though, is that many who hold these degrees are less credible at times than those who do not.  If there is one strength to Jim’s argument (I believe there are, actually, many strengths to it), it is this.  But just the same, I think I’ll stay in school and work towards those accredited degrees, nonetheless.  Check out Jim’s blog post below:

Fortune Tellers are Being Accredited... Starting this week, fortune tellers in Warren, Mich., must be fingerprinted and pay an annual fee of $150 – plus $10 for a police background check – to practice their craft. The new rules are among America’s strictest on palmists, fortune readers and other psychics, part of a growing push to regulate a business that has never been taken, or overseen, very seriously. But officials in Warren, a town of 138,000 near Detroit, say it’s time to weed ou … Read More

via Zwinglius Redivivus

The Debate: The Value of Peer Review, Accreditation, and the Battle for Academia

The title is a bit long-winded for this post.  As with all my posts recently, this will have to be kept short. I have been tied up with editing work for book projects, school work, and attempting to maintain some semblance of a life through it all.  As a result, my blogging has suffered.

However, the title does illuminate the issues currently under (heated) debate, in academia, relating to Biblical and Theological studies.  On the one hand, there are those who foresee (or hope to see) the fall of the “Industry of Accreditation” and a change in the process of Peer Review.  Jim West recent wrote an article for Bible and Interpretation about the problems associated with Accreditation and Robert Cargill wrote on the change he sees coming regarding the process of Peer Review.

Hector Avalos came to the rescue of accreditation and, in response to Cargill, J. Edward Wright sought to defend the process of Peer Review.  As someone who has undergone a shift in perspective on these subjects over the past few years, I would have to side with Avalos and Wright who, I believe, make a compelling and reasoned argument for their positions.  However, Cargill and West both open up the debate at the right time.  The internet has made it incredibly easy for individuals to pass along false or inaccurate information about a variety of subjects which are concerned with the field of Biblical Studies.  As someone who has risen above that horizon myself (before I finally recognized the folly of my actions), I can attest to the challenges posed to academia today; challenges which are represented by both the media and the convergence culture in which we live.   While I believe in the value of accreditation and Peer Review, I also accept that convergence will ultimately change the way the current process is undertaken from within the academe.

This debate is the starting point, I believe, for a discussion that needed to happen.  I can only hope some good comes from it.  After all, biblioblogging has, itself, become a part of modern academia; whose to say that at some point, in the future, one won’t see biblioblogs appearing in said Peer Reviewed journals?  As much as that thought troubles me, it may be an imminent part of our future.

Whose Bones are they Anyway?

A colleague of mine, James Tabor, recently came under some polemic attacks concerning some of his interpretations.  While James and I come from different backgrounds, hold different epistemological beliefs, and have different interpretations of this so-called “Biblical history” in which many still cling (in regards to this, I must say I tend to find Joe Zias’ analysis of the evidence compelling and generally accurate), we nevertheless respect each other and I have always appreciated his sincerity and his caring personality.  I find James to be a very competent scholar who deserves to be treated with respect and, it is here especially, this trait of his really shows in his response to Joe Zias:

Joe Zias just posted an article at the Web site Bible and Interpretation in which he puts for his revised interpretation of the human skeletal remains found in the southern caves at the desert fortress of Masada in October, 1963, during the opening season of the archaeological expedition led by Yigal Yadin. Zias has written on this subject before but here offers his latest interpretation, set in the wider context of the ways in which anthropology, and archeology more generally, contribute to controversies over Jewish identity. Along the way, about half the article is devoted a sarcastic and slanderous critique of me and my work, my colleague Kathy Reichs and her novel Cross Bones, and even my department of Religious Studies, of which I am chair–and by extension UNC Charlotte and our former Chancellor.

The Bible says two wise but purposely contradictory things: “Do not answer a fool, according to his folly, lest you be like him”; and “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes” (Proverbs 26:4-5). In the case of Joe Zias I have tried my best to live by the former and have declined to respond to, or in any way mention, here in this blog or elsewhere, the many slanderous things he has said and written about me over the past four years.

Read on here: http://jamestabor.com/2010/09/03/whose-bones-getting-the-facts-straight-at-masada/

Joe Zias’ article is here: http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/masada357902.shtml

James’ response can be found here: http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/resp357902.shtml

I want to thank the editors of Bible and Interpretation for the opportunity to offer a response to Joe Zias’s rather fascinating contribution on Masada. This response does not imply that I find no merit in what Zias presents, in fact I find myself agreeing with several of his more substantive points on Jewish identity and related issues. However, his piece does contain some serious errors, as well as some rather negative comments about me personally. I will divide my comments into two parts, first the substantive and then, very briefly, the personal.

Read on, if you so choose.

Ancient Nubians Drank Beer Laced with Antibiotics

Interesting article on MSNBC today:

People have been using antibiotics for nearly 2,000 years, suggests a new study, which found large doses of tetracycline embedded in the bones of ancient African mummies.

What’s more, they probably got it through beer, and just about everyone appears to have drank it consistently throughout their lifetimes, beginning early in childhood.

While the modern age of antibiotics began in 1928 with the discovery of penicillin, the new findings suggest that people knew how to fight infections much earlier than that — even if they didn’t actually know what bacteria were.

Some of the first people to use antibiotics, according to the research, may have lived along the shores of the Nile in Sudanese Nubia, which spans the border of modern Egypt and Sudan.

Read on: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38990966/ns/technology_and_science-science/

‘Secularism and Biblical Studies’ due out in September

I’ve known about this book edited by a colleague of mine, Roland Boer, for the better part of three years (publishing a collection of essays can take a long time) and have been anticipating it with unrelenting eagerness since my friend Thomas Thompson informed me of its status as ‘In Preparation’ some time ago. Boer’s recent collection joins the ranks, along with Hector Avalos and Robert M. Price, of an ongoing and pertinent debate in Biblical Studies over its usefulness, over the (in some cases) encroaching Evangelism that become widespread in the field in recent years, and whether secularizing the field has been helpful or a hindrance to the discussion (or for that matter, exegesis).   Consider picking up the volume; it is a must-read for anyone interesting in Biblical Studies and the modern academic environment.

Secularism and Biblical Studies due out September Yes, at long last the logjam at Equinox is beginning to shift, the constipation caused by too many books trying to get out the same hole is passing, and Secularism and Biblical Studies is about to hit the bookstands – in a couple of weeks. Contents Roland Boer: Introduction: Secularism and the Bible PART A: INITIAL ENGAGEMENT AT THE FORUM 1. Michael V. Fox: Scholarship and Faith in Bible Study 2. Jacques Berlinerblau: The Unspeakable in Biblical … Read More

via Stalin’s Moustache

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