History of the Exegesis and Reception of Genesis: Seminar

August 31, 2008 at 4:41 pm (Books, Education, The Floppy Hat™, Theology and the Bible) (, , , )

Well, I’m as registered as I can be for my HDS class this fall (it’s limited enrollment, and apparently I won’t know for sure if I got in until the week class starts, though the prof thought it was likely I’d get a place). I just ordered my text books off of Amazon. They basically consist of a bunch of commentaries, ancient to new, on Genesis. What could be better!? The Genesis section of my library just more than doubled with the addition of the following, and I’m thrilled about it:

  • Genesis: Interpretation by Walter Brueggemann
  • Homilies on Genesis and Exodus by Origen (Author), Ronald E. Heine (Translator)
  • Augustine: On Christian Doctrine by D. W. Robertson
  • Saint Augustine on Genesis: Two Books on Genesis Against the Manichees and on the Literal Interpretation of Genesis : An Unfinished Book by Saint, Bishop of Hippo Augustine (Author), Roland J. Teske (Translator)
  • On Genesis by Bede (Author), Calvin B. Kendall (Translator)
  • Calvin’s Bible Commentaries: Genesis, Parts I and II: by John Calvin
  • Ramban Commentary: Genesis by Charles B. Chavel (Author), Narhmanides (Author)

The only book I couldn’t find was the following:

  • St. Ephrem the Syrian: Selected Prose Works, translated by Joseph Amar and Edward Mathews.

It appears to be out of print, and I can’t even find used. If anyone knows where I might get my hands on a copy let me know! I’ve tried several of the major used book stores online, but I could be missing something!

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Thoughts on SBL Regional

April 26, 2008 at 6:15 pm (Books, Education, The Floppy Hat™)

This is a little delayed, but I’m finally motivating myself to post some random thoughts about the SBL Regional we attended recently.

First, my favorite paper by far was The Nature and Identity of ‘Satan’ in 1 Chronicles 21:1 by Ryan Stokes of Yale University. Calvin and I met Ryan at the Second Temple conference we attended a few weeks back, and I thought his paper was excellent. Of course, I’m partial to anything having to do with gods, mythology, or possible supernatural beings. But, his comparison of the 1 Chronicles passage with the Numbers passage that a “satan” appears in was very interesting to me. It’s not something I considered before, so I felt like I learned something. The other papers were generally decent, some more so than others.

Second, books!!! Of course, I found myself salivating over the (albeit small) supply of books on display at the conference. Several caught my eye, and we’ll be placing an order with the conference discount soon. I’ll mention one book in particular that stood out to me, because it caused somewhat of an epiphany for me by the very fact that when I saw it my reaction was interest. The Quest for the Historical Israel: Debating Archaeology and the History of Early Israel by Finkelstein, Mazar, and Schmidt: why on earth should I be drawn to this book? I am quite positive of the fact that I am not and do not desire to be an archaeologist. Nor does archaeology interest me over much. After some thought over why I wanted this book, I decided that it’s not as much the archaeology, as the “quest for the historical Israel” part that drew me. Ever since reading William Dever’s three-part series on this topic, I have become very interested in maintaining a sense of reality to the study of the Bible. I want to keep up on what archaeologists are saying about Israel, even if I don’t want to “study” archaeology. Dever had convinced me that biblical scholars need to be in dialog with archaeologists, and upon sighting this book, I realized that this idea has stayed with me.

Third, I feel relieved now that I’ve seen some papers given at an SBL meeting. I feel as though I have more of an idea of what to expect now should I want to submit a paper for next year’s regional. I also feel some pressure off, at least for a regional meeting, as there were many different types of presenters, some dry and deadpan, others who managed to make the fact that they were reading a paper to me interesting. I hope to be one of the more animated presenters when I get there one day…

So that’s not exactly a full-blown itinerary of the day, but there are the main thoughts I have coming away from the conference. All-in-all, it was a good day, and I am really looking forward to national this fall.

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Page 123

February 1, 2008 at 10:20 pm (Books, The Silly Zone)

Jim tagged me for an interesting little game…

* Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more (no cheating!)
* Find page 123
* Find the first five sentences
* Post the next three sentences
* Tag five people

The nearest book to me is my Oblivion Strategy Guide, if that counts. Okay, so page 123 is a map with descriptions of the various numbered points. The next three sentences after the first five are…

“(It has a Magicka fountain and a torture cage.) And the two northern ones have exits onto broken northbound bridges. 4. Daedric siege crawler: If it gets out the Great Gate before you can destroy the gate, kiss Bruma goodbye.”

Okay, so that was interesting. I’m tagging Florrie, Diana, Jess, none of whom will probably do this, and I don’t know who else to tag…

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My Reading Habits

October 16, 2007 at 8:26 pm (Books, Personal)

Why do these things never display properly on my blog??

What Kind of Reader Are You?

Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Literate Good Citizen
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Book Snob
Fad Reader
Non-Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Thanks to my hubby.

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The Hazards of Seminary Life

September 8, 2007 at 8:00 pm (Books, Education, Life Observations)

Yesterday night, while gathering up multiple Bibles off of a bookshelf to look up something in I Samuel to compare a textual issue in various English translations, the hard-cover TNIV decided to leap out of my hands and plunge corner downwards into the top of my sock-covered left foot, near my toes, on the left side of the big metatarsel leading to my big toe – yes, in the soft spot.

Talk about a double-edged sword! My foot hurt all evening afterwards, and while, unbelievably, as far as a visible injury goes there is just a small red dot, compared to my right foot there’s definitely a larger radius of a swollen lump under the skin than that small red dot would indicate.

It’s also painful to press on not only that spot, but all along the full length of the joints to my toes. How that happened I’m not sure, because the corner of the Bible hit a good inch from the joint of any toe. Fortunately, it doesn’t really hurt to move my toes normally, so I can walk fine, but forcing my toes to bend back further than walking would require hurts.

Whatever is going on underneath my skin obviously extends beyond a simple bruise. Two lessons to be learned from this:

1) A reminder of how even the foot is highly complex and works together in ways you don’t think about until you injure some small, behind the scenes part of it. Suddenly what seemed insignificant and ignored becomes very important when it is out of harmony with the rest of the foot.

2) Use Libronix when doing translation comparisons to avoid falling Bibles out to pierce your feet.

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The Books are Here!

August 27, 2007 at 2:54 pm (Books, Education)

Well, Calvin posted his book list yesterday, so I shall follow suit. I’m taking Exegesis in I & II Samuel and Intermediate Hebrew Grammar with him, so those are the same and you can take a look at his blog post for those books. My other three classes:

Akkadian (I got these on sale at Eisenbrauns – yipee!)
A Grammar of Akkadian by John Huehnergard
Key to A Grammar of Akkadian by the same

History and Archaeology of the Ancient Near East
The Ancient Near East c. 3000-330 BC (2 Volume Set) by Amelie Kuhrt
Archaeology of the Land of the Bible 10,000-586 B.C.E. by Amihai Mazar
Mesopotamia and the Bible edited by Mark W. Chavalas and K. Lawson Younger, Jr. (this was recommended but not required)

Historiography
The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship by George M. Marsden
Patterns in History: A Christian Perspective on Historical Thought by David Bebbington
The Modern Researcher by Jacques Barzun and Henry F. Graff

I’m terribly excited about Akkadian, even though it will be challenging (cuneiform anyone?). In all honestly, I’m pretty much looking forward to all my classes; of course that has the potential to change once I actually start. It’s hard to say what I’m looking forward to more – Akkadian by far the most, and then I’m not sure what. More to come soon!

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From Homer to Harry Potter

August 22, 2007 at 4:56 pm (Books)

Authors: Matthew Dickerson & David O’Hara

I initially picked this book up because it sounded like an interesting read about myth and fantasy literature, and for once, a book on how it is helpful, not a tool of Satan.

The book turned out to vacillate between 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 stars, depending on the section or paragraph I was reading. I probably would not recommend it for what the book claims on the back it is going to do: “explore the influence and importance of…work of “Faerie” on our literary culture.” While the authors do a decent job of overviewing some important works of myth and fantasy, as the title suggests, from “Homer to Harry Potter,” they could have done with a little less theologizing and a little more philosophizing.

Unfortunately, because the authors are Christian, they desperately wanted to, along with summarize, theologically analyze every fantastical work they mentioned and pick out how this or that lines up with some great truth from the Bible (or occasionally, doesn’t). While there is certainly value to recognizing the moral truth in story, at times it became tiring, especially later on in the book when we passed Tolkien’s era and every modern work was compared to his “Christian worldview” that apparently bubbles forth in his literature.

On the upside, wedged between the, at times, almost preaching, there are some good thoughts on myth, fairy tale, and fantasy as literature throughout time, and why it is valuable to humanity. The first two chapters, especially, are good, and there are other sections throughout that offered enough to keep me reading. Additionally, they supported why it is certainly not wrong for Christians to read the genre of “Faerie” (which is refreshing, after the frenzy of anti-Harry Potter mania on the part of Evangelicalism™).

If you can weed through the sermonizing, there are many pages of thoughtful material, but I am quite certain that there are other books out there that accomplish the same goal (perhaps even written by Christians) without the excess baggage.

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The Wounded Healer by Henri J. M. Nouwen

May 20, 2007 at 10:11 am (Books, Evangelicalism™, Ministry)

This little book is short, inexpensive, but worth the read. Originally published in 1972, Nouwen was obviously writing in a slightly removed culture and to a different generation, but there were plenty of what I would deem timeless truths to be gleaned from the 100 pages of my 1979 edition.

If I rewrote the book today, I would probably use some different terminology and catch-phrases, but his emphasis on true compassion, authentic community, and especially ministering to people from our own woundedness are just as applicable today as they were in the 70’s. Growing up I know my husband as a PK often heard repeated this idea that ministers somehow needed to hide their pain from their congregations to be able to minister to them. This theory is still perpetuated today in Evangelicalism™. Nouwen blows this idea out of the water, and in fact states just the opposite.

Though I think he was aiming his book toward the audience of “the minister,” the principles will resonate with anyone seeking to “minister” to people.

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Thoughts on Compassion

May 12, 2007 at 1:15 pm (Books, Church, Ministry)

A striking quote from The Wounded Healer by Henri J. M. Nouwen:

Through compassion it is possible to recognize that the craving for love that men feel resides also in our own hearts, that the cruelty that the world knows all too well is also rooted in our own impulses. Through compassion we also sense our hope for forgiveness in our friends’ eyes and our hatred in their bitter mouths. When they kill, we know that we could have done it; when they give life, we know that we can do the same. For a compassionate man nothing human is alien: no joy and no sorrow, no way of living and no way of dying.

What would happen if we had this mindset?

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Debating Calvinism (James White, Dave Hunt)

May 8, 2007 at 9:13 pm (Books, Theology and the Bible)

I don’t know why I read this book. I wanted to pluck my eyeballs out by the time I had finished. I only forced myself to complete it because I started it. I guess I thought it would be helpful in my understanding of Calvinism, but if anything, it only made me remember why I despise systematic theology so much.

I digress. As my title suggests, the book I refer to is Debating Calvinism: Five Points, Two Views, which was basically a written debate between James White and Dave Hunt.

I could have blogged as I read the book, but I probably would have been too overly harsh on the authors – both of them – had I done this, so I waited until I was done, gave myself a few weeks to digest, calm down, and hopefully give a calm general overview of the book rather than give a point by point scathing review (er, other than my introduction of course).

The Problems with the Book

Problem #1: James White is an eloquent (Baptist variety) reformed systematic theologian to the T (get it, to the T? anyways…) and Dave Hunt isn’t an Armenian. I was hoping for a debate between a Calvinist and an Armenian so I could understand both systems better. Instead, mostly it was James White espousing his views, Dave Hunt attacking Calvinism in return, and then James White telling Dave Hunt how ignorant he was for not understanding/believing the Truth.

Problem #2: James White is theologically educated, Dave Hunt is not. This should be self-explanatory. I think Dave Hunt just has it in for Calvinism, which is why he wanted this debate. I think it is a sincere effort based on serious concerns he has, and I don’t want to demean him in any way.

Problem #3: This was really the major killer. Both James White and Dave Hunt acted like children throughout the entire book. Seriously. “You’re wrong.” “No, you’re wrong.” No, you’re wrong!” “Your momma!” “Oh yeah, well your momma…and your Bible verse too!” Okay, so maybe not in so many words, but quite honestly they were barely civil to each other. I just didn’t feel the love.

Problem #4: They talked past each other, and did exactly the same thing that the other said the other did. I.e, “You take your pet verse(s) and interpret the verses that don’t agree with the verse(s) you like best in light of your pet verse(s).” “No I don’t, you do.” And then they both do.

My Problem

Which leads me to my problem. I hate systematic theology. Because they both did that very same last thing. And then (James White especially, since he actually had a systematic theology) fill in the holes with principles drawn from the favorite verses, etc. etc. Proof-texting abounded on both sides. I despise proof-texting. Not that Dave Hunt was any better. Granted, I knew I was picking up a book that would use systematic theology, and thus would make me want to pluck my eyeballs out, I just think I had forgotten how much ST rankles my nerves. This is not a slam against either author personally, just a comment on systematic theology. Systematic theology, well, systematizes the Bible and theology.

Side Rant Having Nothing to Do with the Book Review

YOU CAN’T DO IT. Theology is fluid. It’s complex. It’s contradictory. That’s because God is complex, and sometimes seems a little contradictory. You can’t cage him. You can’t put walls around him. The instant you do, you’re bound to discover something that doesn’t fit into your neat little package. And so you’ll be forced to bend it, twist it, shove it, until you fit that square into the circle puzzle hole. And in doing so do great injustice to those very things you just wanted so desperately to understand. It is a sincere effort, but in our human limitations it just falls short.

Back on Track

On the upside, I did gain one item of interest from reading this book. I have been bluntly informed by James White that if I am not a Calvinist, I could not possibly believe in Penal Substitutionary Atonement, because this is a view of the atonement that goes hand-in-hand with the system of reformed theology. I in fact did not realize this before, but after reading his rational argument, I do see how this makes sense. I think this was meant to convince me to be a Calvinist, because most Christians believe in penal substitutionary atonement without even knowing it, “Calvinist” or not.

I, of course, refuse to submit so easily. Since I’m not a Calvinist, I guess I can’t believe in the penal substitutionary view of the atonement anymore. I’m currently exploring other options. Any thoughts?

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