Gary Greenberg's blog on biblical studies and related matters

Biblical Studies Carnival # 165. October 2019

Welcome to my Biblical Studies Carnival. It’s my first stroll down the midway and there sure has been a lot to see. Couldn’t catch everything, so I might have to come back another time. I’m assuming you have lots of handy candy from last night’s trick-or-treating. Hope you enjoy the show.

Commentary

Bruce Chilton has some questions about early Christian developments regarding the “empty tomb” teachings. Based on his recent book, Resurrection Logic.

The conventional presentation [empty tomb] has become so prevalent that it needs to be mentioned in order to be set aside because it flies in the face of the fact that “the empty tomb” is a latecomer to the traditions regarding how God raised Jesus from the dead. The resurrection was conceived of as bodily by Jesus’ disciples, but they did not all assert a single origin story, nor did they always conceive of his body in a physical way.

Alex asks: Did the disciples see the son of man coming in his kingdom in AD 70?

From Nijay Gupta. An Interview with Joseph R. Dodson, Co-Editor of Paul and the Giants of Philosophy.

Religion Prof, otherwise known as James McGrath, has some observations on how modern perspectives from literature and other sources can mislead us as to how we interpret the bible in the context of its own time.

Bill Heroman has some book notes on the Gospels as Biography.

An interview with Michael Bird on his collaboration with N. T. Wright for The New Testament in Its World, and the keys to fruitful New Testament study.

Scriptures

Joy? No joy? Dr. Claud Mariottini discusses translation conflicts with respect to Isaiah 9:3

Another translation question. Bill Mounce asks, “Was Moses Exposed, Abandoned, or Thrown Out? (Acts 7:19)

Lynne Moss Bahr explores time concepts in the Jesus stories in light of continental philosophy. She has a book on the subject.

Over at Zondervan Academic. Who wrote 1, 2, & 3 John?

Paul’s Opposition in Corinth in 2 Corinthians from Reading Acts by Phil Long, who has heroically kept the monthly carnivals going for these many years.

Robert Cargill argues that Melchizedek of Salem was actually King of Sodom and that Salem was not a toponym for Jerusalem. Controversial, yes. He also has a book length study of this and related issues.

Is there a connection between Jesus and Elisha and leprosy? Brant Pitre at The Sacred Page thinks so. He might want to consider Luke 4:24-27 in future discussions of the issues he raises here.

How is disagreement resolved in the Council of Acts 15? Ian Paul at Psephizo,

Revelation Roundup, from Religion Professor.

On my blog, I ask, Did God rest on the Seventh Day or the Eighth?

Text Criticism

Larry Hurtado discusses 1 Enoch: An Update on Manuscripts and Cautionary Notes on Usage. Also, an exploration of the differences in how Muslims and Christians do text analysis on the New Testament and the Qur’an.

Arthur Hunt, Harold Idris Bell, and Edward Maunde Thompson on the Date of Codex Sinaiticus From Brent Nongbri at Variant Readings.

Bart Ehrman tells us about “Crazy Things Textual Scholars Say.” I’m old enough to remember the TV prequel, Kids Say the Darnedest Things.

At Aeon: An early influential bible critic you probably never have heard of.

History

God in Conflict: Images of the Divine Warrior in Ancient Jewish and Early Christian Texts, by Scott C. Ryan. From Bible and Interpretation.

Evie Gassner asks: How Jewish was Herod?

Historian Linda Zollschan Challenges World Opinion about the Roman Coin inscription “Judaea Recepta.”

Solving the Mystery of the City in Isa 24-27: The Fall of the Assyrian Palace at Ramat Raḥel:

 “Who built these impressive structures in the seventh century and used them as a base to oversee Judah and its economy? It was a period of major historical and political changes in Judah.”

Mythism debate. Back in 2016, Craig Evans and Richard Carrier debated whether or not Jesus existed. Evans Yea and Carrier Nay. No surprise there. Shortly thereafter, Evans published an assessment of the arguments, which was reprinted in March of 2018. Carrier recently learned of the publication and responded.

Book Reviews

To Cast the First Stone by Jennifer Knust and Tommy Wasserman. It is widely accepted among biblical scholars that John’s account of Jesus and the Adulterous Woman (John 7:53-8:11) was not original to the Fourth Gospel, although a number of Evangelical text critics disagree. (I don’t say that as a put down.) At the 2018 SBL annual conference, in a panel discussion of this work, Bart Ehrman declared that he was sad to report that he had nothing critical to say about this book and considered it the definitive work on the story of Jesus and the Adulteress. Many scholars agree, but not James Snapp, Jr, who provides a lengthy critique.

The Apostolic Fathers: A New Translation. H. H. Drake Williams review’s Rick Brannan’s book. The text focuses on a translation that adheres more closely to the underlying Greek.

The Emperors and the Jews, by Ari Lieberman. Favorably reviewed by Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein.

That All shall be Saved by David Bentley Hart.  Reviewed by Andrew Perriman. (O.K. I admit. I had to look up “magniloquent.” Thought it was a Disney Princess. Guessed again. Still wrong.)

“I’ve done a couple of posts so far critically reviewing aspects of David Bentley Hart’s magniloquent anti-infernalist treatise That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, & Universal Salvation. My interest has been mainly in his use of the biblical material; I am not convinced that the theological arguments against hell and for universal salvation need to be made.”

Essential Companion to Christian History from Zondervan. Reviewed by Jim West.

The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Full History by Weston W. Fields. Reviewed by Anthony Ferguson at Evangelical Textual Criticism.

Miscellaneous

Bart Ehrman is leading a tour to Rome and other sites April 14–24, 2020, featuring lectures on pagan-Christian relationships in the early centuries. Interested?

The Evangelical Textual Criticism blog-folk are organizing their annual dinner gathering at SBL 2019 in San Diego. Details here.

This is troubling. More here. And here. And here.

A is for Apple, Alef Beth is for Learn Wisdom. A chart based on Talmudic teaching for learning the Hebrew Alphabet.

Some video lectures on Christian History by Diarmid MacCollough. These were recommended to me for inclusion in the roundup but due to time constraints I haven’t viewed them yet.

And lastly,I shamelessly plug my forthcoming book, The Case for a Proto-Gospel: Recovering the Common Written Source Behind Mark and John. From Peter Lang, tentative release in November or December.

So. That’s it. Gonna stroll down the midway, catch some of the verse jugglers, hop on the camel ride through the eye of the needle, and check out that leopard-bear-lion thingie with the ten horns and seven heads.

Upcoming Carnivals

#166 November 2019 (Due December 1) – Derek DeMars, Theology Pathfinder 

#167 December 2019 (Due January 1) –  Alex Finkelson,  Scribes of the Kingdom

#168 January 2020 (Due February 1) –  Jim West  on Twitter as @drjewest,  Zwinglu Redivivus

And: If you’d like to host a future carnival, contact Phil Long at this email plong42@gmail.com or @plong42 on Twitter.

Did God rest on the seventh day or the eighth?

This is a follow up to my earlier post, A Genesis editing error? Separating the second and third days of Creation. The earlier post argued that with the exception of the second day, God declares at the end of each day’s work that “it was good.” On the second day, the expression is missing but on the third day it is used twice, in the middle and at the end. I suggested that thematically, the activities occurring in the first part of the third day fit better with the second day’s activities than the third’s, and suggested that there was an editing error in which the second day’s activity should have included that part of the third day’s activities that occur prior to the first of the two notices that “it was good,”, and that notice originally signaled the end of the second day.

If correct, that would leave us with six days each including the phrase “it was good.” But the sixth day also includes two separate claims that the day’s activities were good. The first part of the day brings forth the animals “And God saw that it was good.” Then God created “man.” Several translations substitute “humankind” for “man” but the underlying Hebrew uses Adam, meaning “man.”

The problem here is that if the phrase “it was good” is used to mark off a day’s activities, as it does for five of the six days (and all six days per my analysis of the second day), then we should consider that the double use of “it was good” should indicate that there were two separate days of activities combined into one day. The creation of the animals happened on the sixth day, as the text indicates, but the creation of Adam, after the first statement that “it was good” should have occurred on the seventh day. If this is the case, then God rested on the eighth day, and we have the Sabbath traditions all wrong.

I’m doing the October Biblical Studies Carnival round-up

I’ve been tasked with doing the October Biblical Studies Carnival round-up, due to be published here on or about November 1st. If you have any recommended posts you think I should know about or biblioblog sites I should check in on, perhaps you can mention them in the comments section or use my site link to send me an email.

Theological Studies reviews my book “Proving Jesus’ Authority in Mark and John.”

Theological Studies 80(3) recently published a nice review of my book, “Proving Jesus’ Authority in Mark and John.” A couple of briefexcerpts:

” The result is a fine inquiry which. . . represents a positive contribution to Johannine and Synoptic scholarship. “

“Some of G.’s keen observations are well taken and should generate further discussion. In fact, their presence makes the book recommended reading for serious students of John’s Gospel.”

“As for his readers, both the general audience and specialists will be treated to a well-written, provocative, and informative inquiry into a lingering mystery in New Testament studies.”

A Genesis editing error? Separating the second and third days of Creation

As the story of creation unfolds day by day in Genesis 1, you can see something of a formulaic structure in the wording. On Days 1,3, 4, 5, and 6, the text has God declare that each days creation was “good.” On each of those days, the text ends with “there was evening and there was morning, the [N] day”, where N represents the particular day’s number. But there is a slight flaw in that structure on the second day and third days.

While the second day ends with the formulaic “there was evening and there was morning, the second day,” there is no reference to the events of the second day being “good.” On the third day, however, there are two separate references to the day’s events being “good.” Let’s take a closer look at these two days.

On the second day, God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” The waters above were separated from the waters below, and the dome was called “sky” (in the NRVS version.) This is followed with the formulaic note about evening and morning.

On Day 3, God is still fooling around with the waters. “’Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so.” God called the land “earth” and the waters under the sky “Seas.” As an aside, this sees to be something of a contradiction. Seas implies multiple waters separated from each other, but we were just told all the waters were gathered in one place.

At the conclusion of this task and naming exercise, we are told, “And God saw that it was good.” On all the other days, this phrase comes at the end of the day’s activity. Here it comes in the middle of the day’s activity. God next plants fruit and vegetation and the trees and seed. And, again, “God saw that it was good.” This is followed by the formulaic description of evening and morning.

The question I have is why the second day’s activities are not declared “good”, but the third day’s activities are declared “good” on two separate occasions for two different projects, one of which continues the second day’s activities.

The second day was concerned with creating a dome to separate the waters above from the waters below. The first part of the third day is devoted to gathering together the waters below and causing dry land to appear. It seems to me that that activity should have been part and parcel of the second day’s activities. In fact, the act of separating the waters above from the waters below actually left the waters below in one place. We know that because dry land had not yet appeared on the second day.

Furthermore, the end result of the third day was not the gathering of the waters in one place, the declared purpose, but separating the waters so that land can appear. We know some waters were separated from other waters because they were turned into separate Seas. Now, I am sure I am not the first person to notice this problem, and I am sure there is no end of creative theological solutions to paste over what appears to be an obvious error, but something is clearly wrong here.

It is my suggestion that in the original version of Genesis, the second day ended after the separation of the waters above from the waters below, leaving the waters gathered together in one place. Somehow, in the course of textual transmission, this got screwed up, with the gathering of the waters in one place being confused with the separation of the waters into Seas.

To be more specific: On the second day, God separated the waters above from the waters below, causing the waters to be gathered in one place, with no land divisions. This act was called “good” and there was evening and there was morning. The third day was not concerned with “gathering” the waters in one place but with separating the waters into Seas and bringing out the dry land, upon which God seeded and planted the vegetation and fruits and trees. That was also called “good” and there was evening and there was morning.

My next book. The Case for a Proto-gospel

If you look at the right-hand sidebar, you should find a notice about my next book, “The Case for a Proto-gospel: Recovering the common written source behind Mark and John.” (Mobile browsers might find it further down on the blog.) It’s being published by Peter Lang in their “Studies in Biblical Literature” series. It’s a peer-reviewed and lengthy academic study arguing for the existence of a now-lost written biography of Jesus that preceded the gospels and contained almost all of the major incidents in Jesus’ adult life. I argue that Mark, John, and Luke all knew this text and made use of it. Matthew had it second-hand through Mark. More significantly, I argue that John hated this earlier biography and composed his gospel as a rewritten correction, and, as a result, John’s gospel functions as a major crtique of Mark’s gospel.

It’s not due out until later this year and, unfortunately, as with most lengthy academic studies, it won’t be cheap. You might try to get your library to order a copy or get it through an inter-library loan. While still a few months away from release, it has a pre-order presence on Amazon. Clicking the link in the side bar should take you to the Amazon page, which provides a slightly more detailed description of the contents and features a blurb from Barrie Wilson, Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar of Religious Studies, York University.

KMT reviews Gensis Chronology and Egyptian King-lists

KMT magazine, a popular scholarly journal that covers ancient Egypt, published a review of my Genesis Chronology and Egyptian King-lists. In the most positive portion, the reviewer wrote, “The numerous tables, where they deal with Egyptian king-lists . . . are excellent, highly informative, as also is his discussion of the same. These alone are worth the price of the book (emphasis added).” I take this as a tacit acknowledgment that the book deals well with the basics of mainstream Egyptian chronological studies.

Where we part company is over whether I have made the case that the numerous precise year-to-year alignments (none of which are cited in the review) between Genesis birth and death dates and the Egyptian High Chronology starting dates of every Egyptian dynasty down to the Eighteenth, as well as the starting dates for several major Egyptian kings and the beginning date of the Egyptian Sothic cycle constitute sufficient reason to believe that there is a relationship between the Genesis birth-death chronology and the Egyptian king-lists. Given the precise chronological alignments between the Genesis birth and death dates and the Egyptian dynastic dates, I am not sure what sort of additional evidence would be needed to make the case.

I have some other criticisms of the review, but I’ll let those pass for now.

Some light posting over the summer

I did some traveling in July and have more travel scheduled for August and early September, so posting has been and will remain light for the balance of the summer. I’ve also been busy with my writing. I have a book coming out from Peter Lang publishers on the Gospels (details soon) due out around November, and I have been working on Volume II of Genesis Chronology and Egyptian King-lists, which deals with the parallels between Egypt’s predynastic mythical chronology and the earliest portions of the Genesis chronology. If Genesis chronology intrigues you, make sure you pick up Volume I, dealing with Egypt’s dynastic era.