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The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Edition – “Controversy Lurks as Scholars Try to Work Out Bible’s Original Text”

 

Illustration of Torah scroll text October 18, 2009.  (photo credit: Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

 

 

As some may or may not know, the biblical text (including the New Testament, although this article focuses on the Old Testament) has gone through multiple edits and revisions over the centuries; therefore it has been subject to errors not only in terms of grammar but also content as well.  The Bible that we read today is what it is in its “final form”.

 

For the past 14 years, a team of scholars have been trying to piece together what the very original Torah or Old Testament was like, but not without some controversy.

 

From the article:

 

The difficulties in the project stem from the Bible’s long history of transmission from scribe to scribe through the centuries. HBCE is trying to reverse engineer that process, to sift through the various extant texts of the Bible and — by analyzing grammatical glitches, stylistic hitches and contradictions of the texts — establish a reading closer to if not the original, then at least the archetype on which the subsequent copies were based.

The goal is to rewind the clock as far as possible toward the time when the various biblical texts attained their canonical form, around the start of the Common Era.

 


The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Edition will be published later this year.

 

To learn more, go to the project’s main website here.

 

 

 

 

40 Maps that Explain the Middle East – vox.com

 

How the Middle East gave Europe religion, three times

Map on how the Middle East gave Europe religion, three times

 

If you want a crash course on the history of the Middle East through maps from 9000 BC to the present day, then check out this site.

 

Highly informative in my opinion.

 

 

Views on Propitiation and Universal vs. Limited Atonement

 

sacrificial lamb propitiation

 

Some views on the Reformed theology of propitiation and questions about whether or not there are biblical justifications for universalism (i.e. that all will be saved).

 

Submitted by Michael.

 

 

Did Jesus Have a Wife? – The “Jesus’ Wife” Papyrus

 

King & Papyrus

Karen King of Harvard Divinity School holding up the “Jesus’ Wife” Papyrus

 

Be very cautious of sensationalist claims and findings on biblical archeology reported by the media firsthand.

 

 How the ‘Jesus’ Wife’ Hoax Fell Apart – Wall Street Journal online – May 1, 2014

 

 

Predestination/Election – A Biblical Perspective

 

predestination 266x300 Predestination and salvation

What does this mean? Is this interpretation even in the Bible?

 

Since the group will be encountering John Calvin very soon in MacCulloch’s book, I thought I’d get a head start and write about one of the most famous and also controversial doctrines of the Protestant/Reformed theology – predestination or election.

 

It’s definitely a hot potato topic and if you want to rile up a bunch of Christians and see some heated conversations, just introduce the topic of predestination, sit back, enjoy, and watch the sparks fly.

 

Well, here’s my entry into this eternal theological boxing ring for all its worth.

 

Also, as you’ll see, it’s listed on a new sub-menu called “Reformed Theology” under “Theology” at the top menu bar.

 

Though I know what I present won’t be a novel position by any means, it did give me pause to think when I first read it in Eugene Boring and Fred Cradock’s The People’s New Testament Commentary (Westminster John Knox Press, 2004).

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic as well, so please do share if you have any.

 

 

 

 

The Problem with Camels and the Old Testament

camels

Camels are mentioned as pack animals in the biblical stories of Abraham, Joseph, and Jacob. But archaeologists have shown that camels were not domesticated in the Land of Israel until centuries after the Age of the Patriarchs (2000-1500 BCE).

 

Whenever you read a Bible or a children’s Bible with illustrations, you’re bound to come across images of camels alongside Abraham, Issac, or Jacob.  We take this for granted most of the time.

The New Bible Dictionary: 3rd Edstates,

In Scripture, camels are first mentioned in the days of the Patriarchs (c. 1900 – 1700 BC) [a bit different from the caption above].  They formed part of the livestock wealth of Abraham and Jacob (Gen. 12:16; 24:35; 30:43; 32:7, 15) and also of Job (1:3, 17; 42:12).  On only two notable occasions are the Patriarchs actually shown using camels as transport: when Abraham’s servant went to Mesopotamia to obtain a wife for Isaac (Gen. 24:10), and when Jacob fled from Laban (Gen. 31:17,34)- neither an everyday event.  Otherwise, camels are attributed only to the Ishmaelites/Midianites, desert traders, at this time (Gen. 37:25).  This very modest utilization of camels in the patriarchal age corresponds well with the known rather limited use of camels in the early 2nd millenium BC. (p. 160)

 

However, recent archaeological and scientific studies provide new evidence that suggests that camels were domesticated in the regions associated with the biblical Patriarchs centuries later than is portrayed in the biblical accounts.

This research and issues with the domestication of camels is not new news and has been known for some time now.

This research is interesting when trying to place a time-frame on when and where the Pentateuch was written and compiled.

How science and biblical studies converge – read the article here.

 

 

 

Dr. Irving Finkel – CNN interview – 1/28/14 – “Blueprint for ‘Noah’s Ark’ Found”

Since the post about Dr. Finkel’s recent work on the “Ark Tablet” was rather popular, here he is discussing the translation of the “Ark Tablet”.

The clip’s title is a bit misleading, somewhat, but you get the idea.

“Noah’s Ark: The Facts Behind the Flood”

Was the Ark that survived the Flood really round?

Dr. Irving Finkel, assistant keeper at the department of the Middle East at the British Museum, recently deciphered the “Ark Tablet” – an ancient Babylonian tablet that describes a flood and a building of an ark by a single person; however this one is unique in that this tablet provides specific instructions on how the ark was to look like and be built.

Some interesting facts:

  1. In this account, the ark was round, called a coracle– a shape that is still used today in the Middle East, with a diameter of around 230 ft; very different from our traditional picture of what the ark looked like from our Sunday school pictures
  2. It’s one of the first known depictions of the Akkadian (Semitic Babylonian) word “sana” which translates to “two each, two by two” when the Ark Tablet describes how the animals were rounded into the coracle. (Sound familiar?)
  3. It’s worthy to bear in mind that, as Finkel states, the Babylonian flood story in cuneiform is 1,000 years older than the book of Genesis in Hebrew.

He’s come out with a new book on his discoveries called The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood.

I personally had a chance to attend a lecture of Dr. Finkel in the summer last year at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when they were exhibiting the Cyrus Cylinder; the Met used his English translation of the Cylinder. He’s quite an entertaining speaker, unlike most other academic lecturers in his field who tend to be quite dry and boring in my opinion.

It should be interesting to see how this may impact biblical and Old Testament studies in the future.

Click here for his complete article.

James D. G. Dunn Interview by Eerdmans Publishing on his new book “The Oral Gospel Tradition”

 

James D. G. Dunn is Lightfoot Professor Emeritus of Divinity at the University of Durham in England and a New Testament scholar. He is widely regarded as one of the foremost scholars in the world today on the thought and writings of St. Paul.

 

In this interview he talks about his latest book The Oral Gospel Tradition. When we read about the life of Jesus, we forget that the gospels were written down many decades after Jesus’ life and during that gap between his life and the written gospels there was a rich oral tradition about Jesus that the gospel writers were dependent upon.

 

(more…)

A New New Testament

The process of canonization of the biblical text or the Bible that we have now, is long and complex.

Most people think that the 66 books that comprise the Bible have been set in stone and that they are a settled (and eternal) issue, but it really depends in most part what Christian tradition or denomination you’re affiliated with.

I can only imagine how (radically) different Christianity would have been like if such books were included and other current ones, like the Book of Revelation, had been omitted.

Very interesting article about a new book coming out soon.

The Rev. Hal Taussig at Chestnut Hill United Church, where he is co-pastor. His book, due out this week, raises deep questions about the early years of Christianity.

http://articles.philly.com/2013-03-04/news/37412901_1_christianity-new-testament-bible-scholars