Category Archives: Bibliobloggers

Slippery Slope

Steve, the writer of the blog Undeception, recently wrote a post about inerrancy, entitled “The Place of Fear in our Bibliology.” The gem that stood out to me in this piece, though, could be applied to many issues. After lamenting how many times he has heard the “slippery slope” argument as an excuse to not explore a line of questioning, he says:

When one offers up the “slippery slope” argument, it is likely that they’ve failed to comprehend that it’s possible the truth lies at the bottom of the hill, not the top.

A Tale of Two Books

Is the measure of a good book in its story or its telling? Truly great books will have both, but sometimes one is enough.

I’m not sure if The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver, is truly well written (although, it is definitely clever). I’ve heard opinions (from people I respect) on both sides of the spectrum. But I do know that the words of the story relentlessly hit on my heart like the heavy, pounding raindrops of a summer storm on a tin roof.

This story of a missionary family’s tragic mis-adventure in the Belgian Congo of 1959 is told from the point of view of the five women in the family. I can relate to all of the roles: wife, mother, daughter, sister. Perhaps this made the book all the more bitter and sweet. But, even my husband (who is not a wife, mother, daughter or sister!), was affected by the story (see his review here).

I read TPB several months after reading Fieldwork (by Mischa Berlinski). Fieldwork unravels the story of an anthropologist, a multi-generation missionary family, a journalist, and a murder.

I read Fieldwork almost non-stop. I could not put it down. It tore through my soul. I read The Poisonwood Bible in daily fits and spurts. But its story haunted me through the hours in between turning the pages.
The Poisonwood Bible   Fieldwork

I think these two books should be required reading for people preparing to work overseas (particularly as missionaries or NGO workers). They are not instruction manuals or glowing tales of missionary faith. Neither are they outright condemnations. But both books reveal the heart of darkness that is sometimes carried into a place by the very people seeking to bring light. And that is what both of these books capture so well: the knife-edge between darkness and light, life and death, hate and love, understanding and ignorance, arrogance and humility.

The characters and situations–in both books–are vehicles for the larger issues the authors illuminate. Do not be distracted by the (sometimes) strong caricatures and miss the emotional workout that the authors ask the reader to commit to.

Reviews by friends of mine:
Fieldwork (Mindy Withrow)
The Poisonwood Bible (Mark Traphagen)

A New Month brings a new Carnival (XLVIII) and a New Top 50 List

Clayboy (Doug Chaplin) does a terrific job this month with the Biblical Studies Carnival XLVIII. I’m happy to see such a representation from the Hebrew Bible this month. He also successfully sifted out all of Jim West‘s photo journals of the SBL meeting and listed the best reports of sessions at that meeting in New Orleans.

And, the Top 50 Biblioblog list is out for the month of November. The monthly Top 50 Biblioblog list is now a six-month listing, the current list is here.

Typing Hebrew on a Mac

Chris Heard has put together two screencasts demonstrating how to setup and use your Mac to type in Hebrew. You might want to be sure you have the unicode SBL Hebrew font installed before you watch the videos. The font is available free for download here. Be sure to also download the keyboard driver and PDF manual. You don’t need to use the SBL Hebrew keyboard drivers, but Chris does demonstrate them in the screencast. Thanks, Chris, for a great resource!

Pete Enns on Mesopotamian Myths and “Genre Calibration”

Pete Enns is the Friday “guest voice” again at Science and the Sacred (the BioLogos blog).
Science and the Sacred blog

This week he is discussing the cognate literature (such as Enuma Elish, Atrahasis, and Gilgamesh) of the Hebrew Bible. Why is this helpful?

Placing Israel in its broader cultural and religious context has been referred to as the “comparative approach.” This is a sometimes-maligned term, as it is unfortunately understood by some to imply that Israel was simply copying or “borrowing” what was around them. This is not the case. Rather, the literature of Israel and that of her predecessors and neighbors reflect a common way of looking at the world. The value of these ancient texts is not in telling us from where Israel got her ideas. Instead, they help us understand what kind of a text Genesis is. I like to refer to this as “genre calibration.”

Read the entire post here.

Tim Bulkeley on “Degrees of Presence” in Distance Education

Tim Bulkeley, Tyndale Carey Graduate School, was one of the presenters in the SBL session on Distance Education. His comments about Degrees of Presence are applicable to anyone teaching a distance course. He’s placed on his blog his notes in a few posts, which I’ve linked to below. I’ve also placed the links on my SBL 2009 Pedagogy page for continued reference.