Biblioblog Carnival — November 2013

We’re in recovery mode, and we want links to read. What are we recovering from? Classes are speeding toward final exams, for many folks graduation draweth nigh, the smell of intellectual rigor still lingers in the air from the ETS-IBR-SBL blitzkrieg, and our bodies are still coping  from what we did to them on Thanksgiving. So what do you need? Links, of course, and a slew of them. That’s where I come in. Below you will find a litany of resources from people of various denominations, backgrounds, and theological positions. It’s a carnival–the biblical studies kind–so hold on tight and enjoy the brain-feast.

ETS / IBR / SBL

The annual meeting this year was in Baltimore, MD. Cliff Kvidahl posted audio of some sessions, and you can also order MP3s of what went down.

A highly-anticipated panel discussion centered on inerrancy, and Peter Enns reflected on how it went. Questions to and answers from the panelists can be read thanks to a live-blog of the discussion.

Denny Burk and Larry Hurtado each gave their take on the annual meeting as a whole.

Mike Bird wrote some funny stuff before the meetings began, and it’s still worth reading even though they’re over!

Helpful for future meetings are these thoughts from Fred Sanders on how to give a conference paper (just between you and me, pretend the 2011 date is really 2013).

ANE / OT / INTERTESTAMENTAL LIT

James M. Hamilton’s essay “The Seed of the Woman and the Blessing of Abraham” is now available for free in Spanish.

Genesis 3 always deserves stimulating engagement, and in this video, D. A. Carson teaches on the temptation of Adam and Eve.

Mike Heiser writes about Yahweh and Satan in Samuel and Chronicles.

Joel Watts uploaded his SBL paper for all to read: “Working on a Building: Mark’s Correspondence to Daniel’s Structure.” [This link could just as well go in the NT section below.]

Robert Holmstedt linked to his SBL paper on the linguistic profile of the book of Esther.

Since 2014 is only weeks away, you’re probably already planning books you’d like to read, so why not add the Pseudepigrapha to the list? The literature was important for the intertestamental period, and Joseph Kelly has organized a way to read the Pseudepigrapha in a year.

Danny Zacharias tells us about the articles and reviews in the latest Journal of Hebrew Scriptures.

Jim West raves about a collection of Jewish texts now available online.

Suzanne McCarthy writes about the end of time and space.

Rusty Osborne links to his Tyndale Bulletin article on the early messianic afterlife of Ezekiel 17:22-24.

Is Job 1:21 good theology? Some may say no, but Andy Naselli says yes and explains why.

Abram K-J asks, “Who is Isaiah’s shepherd of the sheep?”

Bob McDonald writes about violence and Psalms.

Daniel Motley provided his 60-page annotated bibliography of the personification of Wisdom (with a focus on Proverbs 1-9).

Interested in the book of Hosea? Claude Mariottini has put together some studies on it.

LANGUAGE / TEXTUAL CRITICISM

Are you aware of the international journal Biblical and Ancient Greek Linguistics, edited by Stanley Porter? Well now you are.

Scot McKnight interacts with N. T. Wright’s statements on translating christos.

John Dyer posted a free Bible Web App that engages the original languages.

NT / PATRISTICS

Phillip Long writes about Pauline authorship and Ephesians.

Ray Van Neste assesses Schleiermacher on the authorship of 1 Timothy.

The new website DeRouchie & Meyer is devoted to Old and New Testament scholarship that bridges the gap between the academy and church ministry.

Preston Sprinkle continues his blog series on homosexuality and the Bible with a post on Romans 1.

Nicholas Batzig discusses three views on Romans 2:13. From his concluding thoughts: “While it has lost traction in recent years, ‘the hypothetical view’ offers, in my opinion, the strongest defense of the overall context of Romans 1:18-3:20.”

Craig Evans engages the notion that Jesus never existed. 

David Capes gives reasons why we should marvel at the genealogy in Matthew 1.

Bosco Peters writes about N. T. Wright and Sola Scriptura. See especially the interesting comments after the article, such as those by Bob McDonald.

Margaret Mowczko writes about how the word “likewise” may affect certain NT passages about women. She also discusses Philip and his prophesying daughters in the book of Acts.

Daniel Wallace writes on a bibliology grounded in christology.

Scot McKnight says that the Sermon on the Mount is the gospel.

Andrew Perriman raises important questions about the “coming” of the Son of Man.

Jerome Murphy-O’Connor died November 11, 2013.

Peter Kirby wants you to know about chasing Hegesippus. Then move on from there to Peter’s article on leadership terms in early Christian writings. And when you’re finished with that, he also has a table of self-identifications in early Christian writings.

BOOK REVIEWS / INTERVIEWS 

In his new book The Historical David: The Real Life of an Invented Hero, author Joel Baden argues that David has been greatly misunderstood and caricatured, and he explains more about the book in this interview led by Jonathan Merritt.

Larry Hurtado engages Andrew Lincoln’s book Born of a Virgin? Reconceiving Jesus in the Bible, Tradition and Theology.

Andrew Wilson reviewed Book I of Paul and the Faithfulness of God by N. T. Wright, which is Wright’s newest volume in his series Christian Origins and the Question of God. And enjoy Wilson’s story about Sophie meeting PFG. Douglas Moo begins his review of Paul and the Faithfulness of God like this: “Reviewing N. T. Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God is like trying to get a handle on the U.S. tax code.”

Brian Renshaw reviewed Handbook of Women Biblical Interpreters.

Griffin Gulledge tackles Mike Bird’s latest, Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction. Brian Davidson enters the ring with Bird’s book as well.

David “Gunner” Gundersen reviews Gordon Wenham’s Psalms as Torah and N. T. Wright’s The Case for the Psalms.

Patrick Schreiner thinks you should get the 2nd edition of Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels.

Phillip Long reviewed Understanding Biblical Theology, What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About, and John, Jesus, & the Renewal of Israel.

Cody Kingham reviewed The Race Set Before Us by Thomas Schreiner and Ardel Caneday.

Craig Keener reviewed John MacArthur’s Strange Fire.

Brian LePort reviewed Memory, Tradition, and Text: Uses of the Past in Early Christianity, a book edited by Alan Kirk and Tom Thatcher.

Jason Kees reviewed Gene Green’s Jude & 2 Peter.

MISCELLANEOUS

Abigail Walthausen says “Don’t Give Up on the Lecture.”

If you’re writing your dissertation, I wrote about twelve practices that helped me.

Logos is having a wild Black Friday sale that ends December 2. So you’d better hurry.

In light of his impending death, Rod Decker talks about his presentation “When Your World Crashes Down.”

NEXT MONTH

Be on the lookout for next month’s Biblical Studies Carnival from Jessica Parks, who will host it either at Facing the Jabberwock or Cataclysmic.

C. S. Lewis Changed My Life

People come into your life at just the right time. Such is the good and wise providence of God, which brought a man across my path who left this world 50 years ago today on November 22, 1963.

I grew up in church and became a Christian at an early age. In junior high I began to question what I’d been taught, and various doubts plagued me intermittently for years. Was it reasonable to believe in God? How likely was it that Jesus really rose from the dead? What if what I believed was no more true than what someone else believed?

In high school my doubts had not abated–if anything they grew more intense as unbelieving friends asked me perplexing questions that left me thinking, “I’m not sure there’s a good answer to that. Could they be right?” I didn’t share my questions with anyone; I was actually embarrassed by them and felt it must be wrong for believers to ask such probing things.

I was given a copy of Mere Christianity, which was my introduction to this man named C. S. Lewis. It is no understatement to say that God used Mere Christianity to change my life. Here was an author, a former atheist no less, whose brain dispensed compelling reasons and arguments defending Christian teachings. As a teenager I was riveted. I consumed the book and wanted to read and understand more. I worked my way through The Problem of Pain, Miracles, The Screwtape Letters, A Grief Observed, and on and on. Lewis’ way with words was a feast for the eyes and fire for the mind.

Lewis wasn’t perfect, of course, and I don’t agree with every sentence he’s written, but I’m so grateful for him. He helped me understand that God expects us to use our minds to love Him and think about what we believe. Faith is not the enemy of the intellect, nor is thinking the death-knell for dogma. Christianity expects a rigorous use of our minds.

My favorite passage from any fiction I’ve ever read comes from the final lines of the last book in The Chronicles of Narnia. In book seven, entitled The Last Battle, Lewis ends his epic series like this:

And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

I thank God for giving us C. S. Lewis for 64 years. What a blessing his writings continue to be! If you have never read him, I hope you will, and I hope you will choose Mere Christianity first. But don’t stop there. Enter the world of Narnia and believe the truth that Aslan is on the move.

12 Practices For Writing My Dissertation

A few days ago I defended my dissertation and received the glorious green light for graduation. Here are 12 practices I employed while writing it. They may not work for everyone, but I benefited from them.

(1) Keep organized notes as you research. Have an ongoing set of Word documents, or have a file in Dropbox ready and waiting, or use some other method, but be as organized as possible from the get-go. Work within categories that make sense to you and that you can navigate when it’s time to relocate that important sentence or source. 

(2) Develop a thorough but flexible outline. Thorough, to me, means having not only the chapters in mind but also their divisions–at least with main headings. The rule of thumb is: know where you’re headed! If you have an outline, you can stay the course. For my prospectus, I only had the chapters named and listed. But when it came time to write each dissertation chapter, I developed as detailed an outline as I could. I put all the headings (main and sub and sub-sub) in the document and then filled them in as I wrote. Be flexible with your outline, though, and reorganize or purge as necessary.

(3) When possible, write chapter drafts (or at least chapter chunks) before incorporating secondary sources. Ability to do this may vary with topic and focus. Some parts of my dissertation (such as the survey of research) had to engage with other sources constantly, so citing while writing was required. But I really wanted to develop the arguments of my chapters as much as I could using my independent voice. Most sections of almost every chapter, therefore, came together before footnoting secondary sources. 

(4) Find a writing routine and strive to maintain it. At the beginning of the writing process I pulled out my calendar and determined how many pages/words I should pursue each week. This set my pace. I knew I wouldn’t be able to write every day, but most days I managed to get something done. I seemed to work best early in the morning and late at night. During the day proved a challenging time to write, for various reasons. So some days I was up early at 5 am, and other days I was writing late until 2 am. You have to do what works best for you, of course, but disciplining yourself for a routine is the way to keep your writing pace. 

(5) Seize unexpected opportunities for more writing or editing. Sometimes an afternoon, or even a whole day, may open up for you to write, so don’t squander unexpected opportunities. Press on and press through! Some paragraphs of my dissertation were written in a moving van (while I was in the passenger seat), and some were written out of state. When I knew I’d have opportunities to sit somewhere and read, I’d bring printed copies of sections to read, edit, and think more about. Make the most of your time! Don’t drive yourself crazy though. Sometimes when time opens up, you need to go with your spouse to the store, build a lego tower with your kid, watch a movie, or read a Harry Potter book. 

(6) Write down good thoughts instead of thinking you will remember them later. Sometimes you’ll think of just the way you want to say something, but you’re nowhere near your computer. Prepare for such moments by keeping a piece of paper and pen with you. “I’ll remember that idea later,” you may think, but you may not. Do you have a Smart Phone? Then use a voice recorder for impromptu thoughts, trails to pursue, or other details you won’t want to rack your brain for later. 

(7) Keep an up-to-date bibliography. If you use a program that automatically inserts your citations into a Bibliography, then great. Otherwise, you need to keep track somehow of your citations. They are a mountain that grows, and you need to climb it as it does, not wait until the end when you have to wade through your footnotes. I kept a separate document with my developing sources. When I cited something new, I updated the Bibliography. This may be an outdated way of updating a Bibliography, but I didn’t take the time to learn any new tricks (which I probably should have!).

(8) Format major style stuff along the way. I know people may disagree with this and encourage post-writing style adjustments. But notice I said “major style stuff.” What I hate is having to correct something that I did wrong on many pages or even throughout many chapters! So from the beginning I paid special attention to margins, footnotes, proper citation form, and the way headings were formatted. For those things I would rather get them right the first time and thus get them right every time. The more attention you give to style and formatting issues, the less time you will spend reformatting and correcting after the Defense is over. I consider this a good investment!

(9) Read books on writing while you’re writing. Does this seem like a strange suggestion? I benefited from thinking about the craft of writing during the dissertation process. I read Stephen King’s On Writing and Stanley Fish’s How to Write a Sentence. These writers primed the pump. Don’t think of a dissertation as a box you want to check at the end of a program. Give care to its design and flow. You want to be clear and compelling, and reading about writing can help along the way.

(10) Dialogue with others about your topic. We can have goofy thoughts and draw silly conclusions about things, and the sooner someone points that out to us, the better. If you imagine the dissertation process as a conversation, then include trusted dialogue partners. Send them an argument or an excerpt, and be open to feedback. Perhaps no one is better suited for this role than your doctoral supervisor! My supervisor provided timely and thorough feedback on each chapter. For the writing process, no man should be an island.

(11) Read your work aloud. What makes most sense in your head may make less sense in your document. When you’re writing, trust your ear. Don’t just be satisfied with how a chapter reads; be satisfied with how it sounds. Sometimes I’d type something and later ask my wife, “How does this sentence sound to you? What do you hear me saying?”

(12) Allow a time gap between edits of a draft. If you give yourself a time-gap between edits of a chapter, your editing will be more effective. When you finish a draft, let it sit a while (a few days? a week?) and then return to it. Between edits, occupy yourself with other work and writing. This is your brain’s best chance to process your previous writing with a “fresh” read. 

Any other writing practices you’d recommend for a dissertation?