Modern Hebrew Sketch Comedy

The post I had written for today has been relegated to the back burner to reduce for a while: the broth is still too thin.

So in it’s place, I invite you to see what you are able to make of some Modern Hebrew sketch comedy. You’ll probably get the gist of it without any Hebrew whatsoever. For my part, I was able to get the gist and most of the detail (thanks largely to the Hebrew subtitles: dude’s talking fast). A little work with a dictionary did the rest…you might also consider Google Translate if you are able to type Hebrew characters.

Have fun, it’s a nice bit.

[Modern Hebrew Sketch Comedy was written by G. Brooke Lester for Anumma.com and was originally posted on 2011/02/23. Except as noted, it is © 2011 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

Just Leave the Mandrakes on the Dresser

How is it that the explicitness of Leah’s language in Genesis 30:16 has not jumped out at me before? Speaking to Jacob:

‏ותאמר אלי תבוא כי שכר שכרתיך בדודאי בני
“And she said, ‘Come to me, for I have totally hired you out with my son’s mandrakes.’”

Jacob seems okay with being pimped out to Leah by Rachel. In the words of the immortal Twain, “Let us close the curtain of charity over the rest of the scene.” (Except to add, I wonder if “God remembering Rachel” a few verses later has to do with the mandrakes she cajjed off of Leah?)

[Just Leave the Mandrakes on the Dresser was written by G. Brooke Lester for Anumma.com and was originally posted on 2011/01/24. Except as noted, it is © 2011 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

Students, You’re on Notice!

Yesterday afternoon, my son had a play date with a Taekwon-Do classmate who also happens to be the child of one of our Masters students. The student, my wife, and I chatted aimlessly while the kids played on a water slide in the back yard. Among the topics that came and went were:

  • The first of the Amarna Letters (EA 1), with comments on the epistolary genre of the letters (specifically, how a flattering salutation and an exhaustive list of well wishes and assurances of well-being precede a body mostly involving bitter squabbling);
  • How 1000 words is really not that many to write, and how students with writing experience know that editing down to 1000 words is ‘way harder than getting up to 1000 words in the first place.

Not three hours later, I got an email from said student, in which she:

  • composed the email in a parody of the epistolary genre of EA 1; and
  • pointed me to where she had demonstrated our point about writing by banging out 1000 words on the first topic to come ready to hand, specifically Ecclesiastes 1–2.

Students who would complain that form criticism is intractable or that 1000 words is a lot to write: you’re on notice!

[Students, You’re on Notice! was written by G. Brooke Lester for Anumma.com and was originally posted on 2010/07/30. Except as noted, it is © 2010 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

“Genius!” “Dancing!”

P.Z. Myers has the opportunity to dance his Ph.D. thesis, in the third annual “Dance Your Ph.D.” interpretative dance video contest. Sadly, the contest is only open to the physical sciences and social sciences. But, that doesn’t have to stop me from choreographing in my head.

An interpretive dance for my dissertation would involve:

  • six dancers in muted blue, dancing in a Martha-Graham-inspired, low-to-the-ground style of resigned but heart-felt obedience. These represent the chapters Daniel 1–6.
  • four dancers in shades of concrete gray, who dance sweeping steps around the Dan 1–6 dancers, lording it over them, occasionally lifting them up to moderate heights, while a nameless crew of faceless figures in black threatens the whole but always bounce harmlessly back into the wings. The four dancers in gray represent the gentile nations.
  • six dancers in blazing orange, who represent Daniel 7–12. They take the stage, pick up the dancers in blue, and use them to bludgeon the four dancers in gray. They then incorporate the now-unconscious dancers in blue into their own active, aggressive display.
  • the stage becomes a giant cloud on which the 12 blue and orange dancers join, pyramid-like, into a single human figure.
  • the cloud bursts into a giant chrysanthemum.

How does your dissertation translate into modern dance?

[“Genius!” “Dancing!” was written by G. Brooke Lester for Anumma.com and was originally posted on 2010/07/01. Except as noted, it is © 2010 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

“Reunited, Hey, Hey”

Like many of you, I am informed by email that AAR will again in the future be holding its annual meetings in the same time and place that SBL holds its annual meetings.

Reached for comment, AAR would not say on the record that it has decided that SBL does not smell like cheese, eat paste, and sweat when it holds AAR’s hand crossing the street. (SBL, reached for comment, looked at its shoes and mumbled aggressively about “the kewl kids.”) Person-on-the-street interviews suggest that a reduced percentage of corduroy jackets with patched sleeves in SBL, and an increase in annual papers with “gender” in the title, may be among the relevant factors in this reunion.

In related news: AAR and SBL seen sitting at the same lunch table. Occasional brushing-together of feet probably not “footsie,” but promisingly, does not result in a masking tape dividing line on the floor.

[“Reunited, Hey, Hey” was written by G. Brooke Lester for Anumma.com and was originally posted on 2010/06/28. Except as noted, it is © 2010 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

Finally: Proof of God’s Existence

A student informs me on Facebook that National Geographic Channel is offering its annual Easter season woo-fest, as indicated in this almost unendurable article in the Telegraph (“New series…new explanation…Egypt…Exodus blah blah volcanic ash yada yada algae etc”).

No, I am not saying that proof of God’s existence is found in the tendentious quote-mining of scientists by entertainers to sell a reductionist, sensationalist narrative product to gullible yokels rendered nearly helpless by years of substandard science education and the polarizing media invention of false equivalencies.

I am saying that it is found in this: when I wrote the web URL of the Telegraph article into a Facebook comment addressed to a colleague, the “captcha”[footnote] presented to me was this:

by weasels

Top that, Anselm and Aquinas, if you can.

Notes:
BACK TO POST A “captcha” is when you have to read and copy some scribbly text in order to prove to a web site that you are not a spam robot. You sometimes have to do that when you write a comment on web sites, especially if your comment includes a web link.

[Finally: Proof of God’s Existence was written by G. Brooke Lester for Anumma.com and was originally posted on 2010/03/29. Except as noted, it is © 2010 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

Needles in Haystacks

A friend likes to joke about the beginnings of her research on the biblical Book of Job. She was delighted to find that her initial searches produced great big lists of results: phrases like “good Job”; “Job approval”; even, “How to be happy in your Job.”

My latest research project, on which some of you have already been wonderfully helpful, is bread production in ancient Israel and among its ancient Near Eastern neighbors. Right now, I have the ATLAS database open in front of me (the serials database of the American Theological Libraries Association).

Did you know that, in the Christian religious scholarly literature that dominates such a database, there’s this whole big interest in “bread” that has nothing to do with bread molds, clay ovens, fermentation, or varieties of grains?

[Needles in Haystacks was written by G. Brooke Lester for Anumma.com and was originally posted on 2010/03/17. Except as noted, it is © 2010 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

Biblical Studies Carnival LI

I dub this month’s Biblical Studies Carnival to be the “Blogroll Amnesty Edition,” because it embodies in part God’s preferential option (on February 3rd, anyway) for the smaller blogs. I had asked that contributors give special consideration to the smaller blogs in this carnival, and several did. So, to the small fry linked herein: happy hit counts to us!

In accordance with venerable tradition (i.e., Duane did it), I am offering this Carnival in two parts. The first part is “Your Carnival,” and includes posts nominated to the carnival. The second part is “My Carnival,” and includes posts that I rounded up on my own. Again, “My Carnival,” in the spirit of February’s “Blogroll Amnesty Day,” will comprise mostly (but not only) posts from blogs that are sub-Top 50.

Your Carnival:

Old Testament and Suchlike:

The bloggers (in the persons of Darrell Pursiful and Tsalampouni Ekaterini) called our attention to Richard Hess on personal names in Gen 1–11.

Suzanne at Suzanne’s Bookshelf looks at Gen 3:16 (“and thy desire shall be to thy husband,” KJV), specifically the meaning of the woman’s desire.

Busybody Loren Rosson looks at Israelite/Judaean land ethics in the context of Philip Esler’s review (PDF) of Ellen Davis’ Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009).

Claude Mariottini takes a closer look at the Song of Solomon, including Song 1:5 (“I am black and/but beautiful”).

David Stark at NTinterpretation is engaged with Martin Abegg on the meaning of “works of the Torah” for the Qumran community.

The New Testament and Suchlike:

Cynthia R. Nielsen at Per Caritatem has written a well thought piece on Eschatological Developments Within the Pauline Corpus.

Stephen Carlson at Hypotyposeis looks at the translation of σαρξ in Galatians 3:3.

On NT pod, Mark Goodacre lays out some of his case against the hypothetical Q source.

The Pistis Christou debate is alive and well at James Gregory’s All Things Ephesians, as he reviews a portion of Bird and Sprinkle’s The Faith of Jesus Christ: Exegetical, Biblical, and Theological Studies (Milton Keynes, U.K., and Peabody, Mass.: Paternoster and Hendrickson, 2009).

As a part of his series on Foucault at Political Jesus, Rod of Alexandria defends deconstruction and looks at the concept of Pauline “authorship.” See, too, the response by J.K. Gayle at Aristotle’s Feminist Subject.

(I have taken the “mythicism” conversation out of the NT section and given it its own area: see further below.)

Teaching and Writing:

Karyn at Boulders2Bits writes a thorough pre-publication review, with excerpts, of Jo Ann Hackett’s A Basic Introduction to Biblical Hebrew (with CD) (Hendrickson, 2010). How much would you pay for Karyn’s review? Don’t answer! There’s more! She has also reviewed Bordreuil and Pardee’s A Manual of Ugaritic (Eisenbrauns, 2009).

Alan Lenzi at Feeling Finite asks, “When Should Editors Step In and Say ‘Not on My Watch,’” concerning William Barrick’s review of Hill, Andrew E., and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament. What ideas about the history of ancient Israel or the composition history of biblical texts is an academic journal obliged to entertain? What ideas is it obliged to dismiss as unsupportable?

(Late breaker: the question is raised anew in Alan’s space in response to another RBL review, this time Bruce Waltke’s review of Michael Fox’s Proverbs 10–31: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary [Yale University Press, 2009]. What is the role of confessional assertions about the Bible in peer-reviewed review articles representing the Society of Biblical Literature?)

ZOMG! Mythicism! And Stuff!

The Big Conversation of the month, though, had to have been that started and maintained by James McGrath on the subject of “mythicism,” or the claim that the person Jesus Christ never existed in history. In a month-long dialogue spawning thousands of comments and dozens of responsive posts elsewhere, James found himself in a polygonal conversation with (caution: overlapping categories ahead) mythicists, creationists, atheists, and his fellow bibliobloggers.

I’ll offer links to James’ posts, then to some of the responses that I found. There is just no way for me to be comprehensive about this, but I figure that 1) if you were in the conversation, you will have caught what I’ve missed, and 2) if you are new to the conversation, this is more than enough to get you immersed.

Here is James, with the titles often paraphrased. If you would rather see all these on one page (albeit in reverse order), just search for “mythicism” on James’ blog. Here we go: mythicist misunderstanding (Feb 6), the discussion spreads (Feb 8), microexistence v. macroexistence (Feb 9), accusations and assumptions (Feb 9), more creationist parallels (Feb 10), creationism and ID (Feb 11), death of mythical messiah (Feb 11), Tacitus on mythicism (Feb 12), publishing on historical Jesus (Feb 14), YECs are like mythicists (Feb 14), yet more mythicist/creationist parallels (Feb 16), unreasonable faith and Jesus’s existence (Feb 17), not all atheists are mythicists (Feb 18), is there evidence for mythicism (Feb 19), mythicism and John the Baptist (Feb 20), mythunderstanding the criteria of authenticity (Feb 21), mythicism and historicism as theories (Feb 22), mythicism and paradigm shifts (Feb 23), at long last I understand mythicism (Feb 24), mything links (Feb 27).

Mid-month, Mike Koke at the Golden Rule took time to gather the links to date and offered a response with reference to 1 Thess 2:14-15, and also with reference to an earlier “historicity of Jesus” post of his own.

Neil Godfrey at Vridar was a steady interlocutor, arguing for the validity of questioning the historicity of Jesus (Feb 4), against misunderstandings on the part of historicists (Feb 9), and against circular arguments on Jesus’s historicity (Feb 11). (The dates should help you cross reference to James’ posts listed above.)

John Hobbins at Ancient Hebrew Poetry offered some considered judgments on the analogy from King Arthur (Feb 9) and on whether Albert Schweitzer can be called a mythicist (Feb 13).

Undoubtedly I have only scratched the surface on this topic. I assure you that I have left no-one out intentionally. I invite readers (and writers) to supplement my links to the “mythicism” conversation in the comments to this carnival.


My Carnival:

Technology:

Tim Bulkeley at SansBlogue wants to know what biblical scholars could do with an online information visualization tool.

Language, Linguistics, and Translation:

Peter Bekins of בלשנות literally had the audience drooling over linguistics at the Midwest SBL.

Crescat Graffiti blesses us with three great words that sound great together: Hieroglyphic…sex…graffiti.

In the “No, no, you can’t do that!” department, Doug “Clayboy” Chaplin alerts us to Preachers! Using! Greek! Claptrap detectors out, everyone.

(Oh, and speaking of claptrap, Jason at Εις Δοξαν reminds us that we can never, never get tired of the comedic preaching stylings of Steven Anderson.)

Tim at SansBlogue is reading Seth Sanders’ The Invention of Hebrew (University of Illinois Press, 2009). Join him for first impressions, the introduction, the first and last ’graphs, chapter one, and chapter two.

On the perennially favored topic of apologetic translation, David Ker at Better Bibles engages a post by Daniel Kirk at Storied Theology on theological manipulation in a translation of Gal 5:6.

Timothy at Catholic Bibles wants to hear you state your case for your favorite Bible translation (h/t to Qohelet at the Bible Critic).

Inscriptions and ancient texts:

Steve Wiggins of Sects and Violence in the Ancient World sees only “escapees from Flatland” (awesome literary ref there, Steve) in a bit of iconography claimed to represent Yahweh and his Asherah.

With a work in the hands of the printers, Alan Lenzi of Feeling Finite is now “off and running” on Reading Akkadian Prayers.

Speaking of reading Akkadian poetry: Beware of abnormal side effects! Duane is having Crazy Thoughts About Blindness and Reading Clay Tablets.

At כל־האדם, Joseph has continued to read The Context of Scripture. Here at Anumma, I have tried to do my part. We’re reading CoS in a year at the January 1st invitation of Charles Halton at Awilum.

Old Testament:

Paavo at מה יתרון has been working through Perdue on empire in Proverbs and in Job.

In response to Julia O’Brian’s piece in The Bible and Interpretation, “Biblical Scholarship and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” Phil Sumpter at Narrative and Ontology has been reflecting on Biblical Scholarship and the State of Israel, and on ethnic Israel and Esther.

Qohelet’s church accidentally made a comedic case against (or for?) lectio continua. Or, at least against randomized selections from Deuteronomy.

Genesis and Stuff:

Thomas Verenna is one of several who observed Darwin Day on their Bible-related blogs.

Steve Wiggins finds that the scientific fact of evolution is, in the United States at least, still Out of Reach.

At כל־האדם, Joseph Kelly reacts to Strimple’s Historical Adam essay, calling it on the fallacious “argument from abbhorent consequences.” (It is fortuitous, then, that a related lecture came to Joseph from Princeton Theological Seminary.)

At Biblia Hebraica, Doug Mangum follows up on Joseph’s post, with  a related word on the similarly fallacious “argument from the NT.”

Nijay Gupta offers recommendations for reading on Genesis and theology.

New Testament:

Wright on Paul, now made easy! See N.T. Wright for Everyone: The Apostle Paul, by Nijay Gupta.

Qohelet (The Bible Critic) endorsed the “analogy from Arthur” that was offered by Eric Reitan beginning with a comment to the historical Jesus discussion. (Above, as a respondent in the “mythicism” section, John Hobbins also weighs in on Arthur).

Also relating to the Historical Jesus, Phil Harland (Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean) continued his podcast series on Studying the Historical Jesus with parts two and three.

At NT/History Blog, Bill Heroman is thinking on “Synagogue” in James 2:3.

Little help now! Patrick McCullough at kata ta biblia is looking for assistance on NT manuscript preservation as reception history, and also needs a good title for an SBL session (not a paper, a session).

Conclusion:

Well, I’m about wiped out. Don’t delay to begin nominating posts to the next Biblical Studies Carnival (instructions for nominating at that link). I will edit this preliminary information upon confirmation, but unofficial rumor has it that the redoubtable Jim West will take next month’s Carnival into his own strong hand and outstretched arm. [That’s a ’firm.]

Thanks for the opportunity to steer the ship this month, and I hope that everyone who enjoyed the Carnival will consider hosting when they may.

[Biblical Studies Carnival LI was written by G. Brooke Lester for Anumma.com and was originally posted on 2010/03/01. Except as noted, it is © 2010 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

This Week in COS: It Wasn’t My Fault!

You’ll recall that Charles Halton has invited folks to read the Context of Scripture in a year. Joseph at כל־האדם is also reading along.

For pure joy of reading, I’ve got to go back to last Sunday’s text: “The Case Against Ura-Tarh̬unta and His Father Ukkura” (3.33). The context is the reign of the Hittite king H̬attušili III (mid-late 13th century BCE), and the text involves declarations of innocence, made under oath. The defendants are accused of embezzling items entrusted to them by the queen for distribution, gifting, or trade.

The two principal excuses seem to be, “But I only stole the old ones,” and “It died: not my fault!”

In the “But I only stole the old ones” department, the following is typical:

And whenever they bring here new bits and snaffles, I have been accepting the new ones for the service of the crown, but of the old ones I have been taking for myself as many as I liked. (§5).

Translation: Yes, I pilfered an Epson printer, but they had already been replaced by the new all-in-one scanning jobs! I’m not sure, but the oath the defendants are made to take in §25 seem to reflect a ruling on this saying, more or less, Don’t do it again.

My favorite excuse, though, is the “It died: not my fault” defense. Some examples:

I also took for myself two mules, which died while in my possession.…

I had hitched up three mules belonging to the palace, and they died.…

I took for myself three cows…and drove them to my house, where they died.…

Of the asses which I had charge of, I took for myself nothing. Five asses died, and I replaced them from my house. (Ensuing lines: well, I haven’t yet, but I will.)…

The mules that they mention died.

Anyone ever see Miller’s Crossing? Remember when Tom keeps betting on horses that lose or get injured?

Lazarre’s Man: Hey, horses got knees?
Tom: I don’t know… fetlocks
Lazarre’s Man: Well if I was a horse, I’d be down on my fetlocks praying you don’t bet on me.

If I was a Hittite mule, horse, or cow, I’d be down on my fetlocks praying that Ura-Tarh̬unta and his father Ukkura are not given charge of me.

[This Week in COS: It Wasn’t My Fault! was written by G. Brooke Lester for Anumma.com and was originally posted on 2010/02/12. Except as noted, it is © 2010 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

The Beatles: Solomon, Aaron, Pul, and Daniel

I’m sure our own reconstructions are more accurate than this. After all, we have, um…and then…dang.

Hat tip to the Little Professor.