A Hebrew Bible/Old Testament scholar looks at the Bible and culture…

Occasional Posts

Joshua in Ancient and Contemporary Perspectives

I’ve just encountered powerful curriculum on Joshua.  It’s entitled Joshua:  A Journey of Faith and is the 2009-2010 Horizons Bible Study for Presbyterian women.

The primary author is Mary Mikhael, President of Near East School of Theology in Beirut (NEST).  The editor is W. Eugene March, professor emeritus from Louisville Presbyterian Seminary.

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West Bank and Israel Travel Log #2: Walls

The first of many unsettling experiences during the LTS West Bank/Israel trip was my introduction to the Wall.  While I had read much about the “separation wall” between Israel and the Occupied Territories and even seen photos from friends, I wasn’t prepared for the reality.

On the bus ride from Ben Gurion airport to our hotel in Bethlehem, the wall seemed everywhere–zigzagging across the landscape, chopping up fields, and blocking roads.

We had to pass through the wall in order to enter Bethlehem, where we stayed for much of our trip.

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West Bank and Israel Travel Log: Purposes

From January 6 to January 25, I joined my colleague Anabel Proffitt in leading a group of 21 students from our institution through the West Bank and Israel.  I’ve recently returned, my camera full of pictures and my head full of realities to process and responses to formulate.  In the next few weeks, I’ll be reporting on my evolving experience of the trip.

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Returning from the West Bank and Israel

I’ve recently returned from co-leading a group of seminarians on a 17-day trip to the West Bank and Israel.  It was an intense experience, and I’ll soon start blogging and uploading photos.

For now, you might want to read my first written response,  published over at Bible and Interpretation:  “Biblical Scholarship and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.”

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Fighting over Manuscripts in the Digital Age: The Blockbuster

It’s a common plot of novels and movies:  while the superstitious public clings to outdated religious beliefs, people in power compete for access to ancient manuscripts which reveal the powerful, if shocking, truth about the past. Think The DaVinci CodeIndiana Jones movies. Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus. Irving Wallace’s The Word.

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2012 and the Noah Narrative

In a recent  New York Times review of the new movie 2012, Manohla Dargis twice links the destruction-of-the-world movie with the Bible.

She describes the unlikely pairing off of survivors  as the “Noah’s ark theory of onscreen hookups (two of every kind),” and her final tag claims that  the movie depicts “Old Testament style destruction served with a smile.”

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Ancient Literature for Modern Healing

A recent New York Times article reports that the U.S. military has turned to a new resource  to help soldiers name and heal from the trauma of war:  the very old literature of Sophocles.

The Pentagon has provided $3.7 million for an independent production company, Theater of War, to visit 50 military sites through at least next summer and stage readings from two plays by Sophocles, “Ajax” and “Philoctetes,” for service members.

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Psalms and Def Jam Poetry

It’s one thing to acknowledge that the book of Psalms is written as poetry.  It’s quite another to consider what difference the poetic style makes to interpretation of the Psalms. What if we encountered Psalm 139’s claim that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” not in private devotion or from the mouth of a lector in church but in a context more like that of def jam?  This great piece is Marty McConnell’s “Instructions for a Body.”

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