Biblical Studies Blog Carnival | September 2014

Welcome to the September 2014 Biblical Studies Blog Carnival!

September means one thing in Texas: football season is back! And of course, I’m speaking of American football – both college and NFL teams are now on the field once again. I know that many of our biblical studies bloggers are more inclined towards the internationally recognized form of “football” (what we down here in Texas call “soccer”), so please accept my apologies for picking such a culturally-biased theme. You might enjoy the video below of a confused “football” coach attempting to coach a “soccer” team.

College football divides each team into certain conferences – the SEC (Gig ‘Em Aggies!), Big 12, ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12, etc. Thus, I’ve divided this month’s excellent blogging into four conferences:

- The OTC (Old Testament Conference)
- The NTC (New Testament Conference)
- The CHTC (Church History, Theology, and Hermeneutics Conference)
- The BRC (Book Review Conference)

However, just because a post might not be in one of the above conferences it still might have merited a place in the Wild Card Race (Miscellaneous Posts).

There were a ton of great blog posts this month.
Thanks to all who contributed –  happy reading!

The OTC (Old Testament Conference)

The NTC (New Testament Conference)

The CHTHC (Church History, Theology, and Hermeneutics Conference)

BRC (Book Review Conference)

The Wild Card Race (Miscellaneous Posts)

* * *  New Blog Alert  * * *
Michael Forth, a doctoral student at Aberdeen, has started a new blog: PonderForth. Check out his first blog post, “Is Christian Fundamentalism a Manifestation of Liberal Theology?”

[1] Did I miss a great post from the month of September? Post a comment with the link so that we can all enjoy it!

[2] Next month’s Biblical Studies Blog Carnival (October 2014) will be hosted by Brian Renshaw on November 1. Be sure to stay tuned for another month of blogging greatness.

[3] Phil Long at Reading Acts is still looking for volunteers to host future Carnivals. This is my “emotional plea” for a few decent folks to step up and help continue this biblioblog tradition! If you’re interested and/or willing to be coerced, please contact Phil through his blog.

Book Review: The Bible Tells Me So… by Peter Enns

ForTheBibleTellsMeSoLooking for a book that is educated, controversial, and disarmingly funny? Your search is over.

Peter Enns‘ latest work “The Bible Tells Me So… Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It” reads like a mash-up of N.T. Wright’s biblical scholarship, Anne Lamott’s refreshingly honest humor, and Rob Bell’s penchant for stirring up dissension.

Enns takes aim at the modern attempt to defend the Bible that has been so characteristic of many Evangelical communities in the recent past:

“I want pious people to see that judging by how the Bible actually behaves – God did not design scripture to be a hushed afternoon in an oak-paneled library. Instead, God has invited us to participate in a wrestling match, a forum for us to be stretched and to grow. Those are the kinds of disciples God desires. This book, in other words, is a giant permission slip to let the wrestling begin…
This kind of Bible – the Bible we have – just doesn’t work well as a point-by-point exhaustive and timelessly binding list of instructions about God and the life of faith.
But it does work as a model for our own spiritual journey. An inspired model, in fact.” (page 22 and 24)

The result is a book that is sure to offend the “gatekeepers” of Christian orthodoxy yet likely to be a breath of fresh air for Christians who struggle with tensions between their Bible and their faith. To be clear – by no means do I agree with everything Enns argues for in his book. But I have grown increasingly tired of the conservative tendency to label divergent viewpoints as “heretical” or “liberal” simply so they can be dismissed without thought. Enns’ argument deserves a seat at the table, and even if some of his conclusions might cause a conservative Evangelical to cringe in the core of their soul, there is still much to be learned from his book.

Three things stand out as obvious about Peter Enns from his latest work:
1) He knows the Bible very well. This book seems to be aimed at a popular audience, but is still chock-full of rich biblical insight.
2) He values and seeks to follow Jesus. This can’t be denied just because one disagrees with some of his thoughts.
3) This has led him to struggle with some aspects of the Bible: like why God does a lot of killing and plaguing, why archeology often contradicts biblical accounts, and why the biblical writers often disagree. The Bible Tells Me So… is an account of these struggles and Enns’ conclusions.

If you want a book that won’t challenge the naive assumption that the Bible fell down from heaven typed directly from the inerrant fingers of the baby Jesus, don’t read this book.

Enns contends that we should take seriously the ancient Isrealites’ tribal culture when we read their literature. He argues that the Bible’s version of “history” doesn’t meet modern standards of objective-story telling, but that maybe God is okay with giving us “ancient accounts of history.” He claims that Jesus didn’t use a “historical-grammatical” method of interpretation when handling the Old Testament and that neither did any of the other New Testament authors – “watching the New Testament writers at work yields a valuable lesson for Christian readers today: explaining Jesus drove the early Christian writers to read their Bible in new, sometimes radically different, ways. The Bible was nonnegotiable as God’s word, but it wasn’t God’s final word. Jesus was.” (195)

Overall, Enns has produced a challenging and engaging book that attempts to take seriously the Bible just as God gave it to us. It’s an interesting thesis: God could have given us a clearly-outlined systematic theology textbook as our Bible, but he didn’t. My humble opinion is that even though many won’t agree with his conclusions, perhaps there is still something for almost everyone to learn from this enjoyable read.


(Enns references this comic on page 89)

Note: I received this book from HarperOne at HarperCollins in exchange for an unbiased review.

Why the Left Behind Series Should be Left Behind

Michelle Mikeska:

With the upcoming Left Behind movie, I thought I’d resurrect one of my old posts on the topic. Happy watching!

Originally posted on Cataclysmic:

As promised, here is my follow up post on the apocalyptic imagination of second temple Judaism. 

A common assumption found in Tim Lahaye’s Left Behind series is that the ultimate aim of apocalyptic texts like Revelation and Daniel is to provide a detailed, if coded, blueprint of future events.  Prophecy has no other purpose than this.  This becomes problematic when we start reading both prophetic and apocalyptic texts.  The major and minor prophets in the Hebrew scriptures seem to have a different goal.  The aim of these texts is not primarily in providing a detailed forecast of events, but to present a possible future based on Israel’s repentance or lack thereof.  The goal of Biblical prophecy is to encourage the faithful and challenge the wicked to repentance. 

If you are fans of the Left Behind series, you may interject here that this is indeed what Tim Lahaye is trying to…

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Best of the Best: Carnival Submissions

What are the best biblical studies blog posts that you’ve read/written this month?


Don’t forget to turn in submissions for this month’s Biblical Studies Blog Carnival!

You can email me:, leave a comment, or use the form below:

Gerhard Lohfink on God’s Omnipotence

“God is thus revealed as omnipotent precisely in the fact that God stakes everything on the intelligence, free will, and trust of human beings . . . God attains the goal desired because in this world joy in God’s story is stronger than all inertia and greed, so that this joy continually seizes people and gathers them into the people of God.”
– Gerhard Lohfink