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Welcome to the June 2022 Biblical Studies Carnival at The Secular Frontier, the official blog of The Secular Web. The Secular Web is owned and operated by Internet Infidels, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization dedicated to defending and promoting a naturalistic worldview on the Internet. Naturalism is the “hypothesis that the natural world is a closed system” in the sense that “nothing that is not a part of the natural world affects it.” As such, “naturalism implies that there are no supernatural entities,” such as gods, angels, demons, ghosts, or other spirits, “or at least none that actually exercises its power to affect the natural world.” And without miraculous interventions into nature from a spiritual realm, neither prayer nor magick are more effective than a placebo.
So what is a Biblical Studies Carnival? Prof. Phil Long explains:
- In the early days of blogging, people would collect blog posts on a particular topic and call it a carnival. I have no idea why a carnival (as opposed to a yard sale, a circus, or a monthly index… it’s an internet thing). There were psychology carnivals, sociology carnivals, etc. In March 2005, Joel Ng posted the first Biblical Studies Carnival at his now defunct blog, Ebla Logs. But nothing is really dead on the internet. You can still read that first carnival on The Wayback Machine. The first link is to Jim Davila, at PaleoJudaica.com, a remarkable blog still going strong after all these years. I notice the one-time keeper of the Biblioblog Top Fifty list, Peter Kirby (although his blog Christian Origins is now gone). Jim West hosted in November 2006, although that version of his blog no longer exist (as far as I know). Some of the older blogs have (sadly) been taken over by spammers.
- Prior to 2012, Jim Linville kept the list of Biblical Studies Carnivals. When Jim retired from this role in August 2012, I volunteered to be the “keeper of the carnival list.” This means I try to draft (harass) people into volunteering to host the Biblical Studies Carnival. I keep a master list of Carnivals with links here on Readng Acts (in the banner, or click here).
- Blogging has come and gone, and maybe come back again. Some bloggers moved into podcasting or producing YouTube videos. Others remembered they had a real life beyond blogging. Sometimes students blogged for a few years then graduated and got jobs that took them away from regular posts. Nevertheless, some have persisted. Even though I would love to see the return of N. T. Wrong, there is a new generation of biblical studies bloggers.
Our Sections This Month are
(A) Hebrew Bible
(B) New Testament
(D) The Bible And Current Affairs: Dueling Reactions To SCOTUS Overturning Roe v Wade
(A) Hebrew Bible
James Davilla: Did Syriac reveal the origin of the Black Death?
Clint Archer: The Creator’s Concern for Creatures
Peter Goeman: When did Israel Stop Being God’s People?
Krista Dalton et al (Judith Newman) Jonah and Prayer
Prof. Rabbi David Frankel The Story of the Anonymous Scouts, Modified by the Book of Numbers
Dr. Sarah Schwartz The Scouts’ Report: From Rhetoric to Demagoguery
James Tabor Reading Genesis–Are You Lost in Translation?
(B) New Testament
Gary Greenberg shares about his new book: Update: The Case for a Proto-Gospel
David T. Koyzis: Healing Comes with the Sabbath
Claude Mariottini The Death of Death
Bob MacDonald: Brokenness
David Turner: Preaching Hebrews means preaching like Hebrews preaches.
Margaret Mowczko: Is the Beloved Disciple in John’s Gospel a Woman?
Jacob Prahlow: How Can We Respond?
Peter Gurry: Recent Writings on Textual Criticism
James McGrath: John the Baptist and the Mandaeans
Andrew Perriman: When prophecy mostly didn’t fail
Brian McLaren: In the Kentucky Derby of Religions: Do we have a winner?
In this section, we have provided a selection of readings of bible-related material from a secular point of view.
(b) [For the Philosophy and Theology paper]
The Bible makes the grand claim that the creator of our planet is perfect in all its aspects including morality, and loves the innocent preborn and children, a view believed by billions. But the testaments make no mention of the fate of the souls of humans who die before they have matured enough to decide whether or not to worship God in its flawless heaven. That’s because some 50 billion children have died, and a few hundred billion preborn, due to natural causes no creator has put a stop too. My ground breaking 2009 Philosophy and Theology study was the first to calculate the shocking death toll of the young, and show how it wrecks classic Free Will Theodicy, and the possibility that a prolife God exists.
(c) [For the Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism paper Pt 1]
The Philosophy and Theologystudy disproving the existence of a moral creator was ignored by the theologians who continue to push the false concept, while paying no attention to the mass death of kids and the preborn, as well as the news media that failed to cover it. And even atheists have not caught on to the implications of the Children’s Holocaust. So I did a follow up study in Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism, updating some of the analysis, and adding a section on the Brutalization of the Animals that a creator if it exists has been callously fine with.
(d) [For the Essays in the Philosophy and of Humanism paper Pt 2]
Part 2 of my Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism studies starts by continuing to discuss how it is not possible for the good God of the Bible to exist because it set up a planet so toxic to children that it has killed tens of billions of them, while imposing immense suffering on the other innocents, the animals. It goes on the describe how worship of such a cruel creator in search of boons is deeply immoral, and poses the Moral Challenge to theists to either at long last confront the Megadisaster of the Innocents, or admit they are wrong. It concludes by describing what atheists need to do to get the word out about the premature death of most humans and the vast suffering of animals, and how that doing so has the potential to accelerate the decline of theism here and abroad.
Keith Augustine selected articles from the Secular Web Kiosk and Library
(1) Christian Salvation? (B. Steven Matthies)
Ever wonder how you can be saved? Christians can’t agree, and the confusion is embarrassing. A survey of sixteen major denominations proves the point.
It should be noted that my reasons for writing this article were as follows: (1) A response to well-meaning Christians who try to reconvert me; (2) a way to deal with my own church-indoctrinated fear of hell (and possibly help others deal with their own fear); and (3) to get both Christians and non-Christians to examine Christianity. The article also has the ancillary intent of casting doubt on the truth of Christianity as revealed by the Bible, but this was not my main intent. Nor should this article be seen as a formal proof or technical essay for the nonexistence of God.
(2) Introduction to the Bible and Biblical Problems (Donald Morgan)
Is the Bible the work of God? Is it a valid guidebook? How can we know? This introduction serves as a very basic preface to the makeup of the Bible and to how the Bible came about, as well as to some basic kinds of possible biblical problems–especially the kinds of problems inherent in a fundamentalist/literalist approach to the Bible that views the Bible as the inerrant, infallible, inspired, and plenary “Word” of a perfect, omnipotent, and loving God.
(3) The Euthyphro Dilemma as it Applies to the Doctrine of Atonement (Brian Vroman)
Is something good because it is pleasing to God, or is something pleasing to God because it is good? Is something good because God commands it, or is what is good inherently good regardless of what God or anyone else happens to think about it? If “the wages of sin is death,” how does the death of an innocent satisfy such an obligation? How one answers these questions has profound implications.
(4) The Lowdown on God’s Showdown (Edward Babinski)
For two millennia in Christendom every generation has been the last generation. Just in time, Edward Babinski is here to explain the delay.
(5) The Argument from the Bible (Theodore M. Drange)
Almost all evangelical Christians believe that the writing of the Bible was divinely inspired and represents God’s main revelation to humanity. They also believe that the Bible contains special features which constitute evidence of its divine inspiration. This would be a use of the Bible to prove God’s existence within natural theology rather than within revealed theology, since the book’s features are supposed to be evident even to (open-minded) skeptics. Furthermore, since a divinely inspired work must be true, those features are thereby also evidence of the Bible’s truth, and thus can be used in support of Christianity as the one true religion. When expressed that way, the reasoning can be construed as an argument both for God’s existence and for the truth of the gospel message from the alleged special features of the Bible.
(6) To Galilee or Jerusalem? A Response to Apologetics Press (J. C. Jackson)
There’s a discrepancy between the Gospel of Luke on the one hand, and the Gospels of Mark and Matthew on the other, as to where Jesus’ disciples were instructed to stay after Jesus’ resurrection. Luke has the post-Resurrection Jesus instructing them to stay in Jerusalem, whereas Mark and Matthew have him telling them to stay in Galilee. In an article for Apologetics Press, Eric Lyons attempts to explain away this discrepancy by positing that Jesus’ post-Resurrection instructions to his disciples in Luke didn’t necessarily happen on Easter Sunday, but could have happened on a subsequent day. In this response to Apologetics Press, however, J. C. Jackson points out that this interpretation is flatly inconsistent with the conclusions of innumerable Christian scholars and theologians. Worse still, it’s inconsistent with the understanding of early Christians themselves, who were willing to simply remove references to an event in Luke’s Gospel altogether in order to smooth over the timeline problems that keeping them would lay bare. But most damning of all, Jackson’s direct analysis of the context clearly demonstrates that Apologetics Press’ rationalization of the discrepancy immediately falls apart.
(7) The Rivalry Between Religions (Raymond D. Bradley)
In this highly original and challenging essay, Raymond Bradley develops an argument that all religions are probably false inspired by David Hume’s famous discussion of the ‘contrary miracles’ of rival religions. According to Bradley’s argument from contrariety, any one of the vast numbers of religions ever conceived (or to be conceived) makes factual claims contradicted by the claims of all of the other religions. Moreover, the claims of any particular religion are generally as well-attested as the claims of all of the others. Consequently, given the “weight” of the “evidence” of all of the other religions, the probability that the claims of any one religion are true is exceedingly low. From this it follows that all religions are probably false.
Bruce Ledewitz: The Future of Secularism
John W. Loftus: I’ll be debating WLCraig in absentia!
ERIN LOUIS: How humanism helped me let go of God
Randal Rauser: Does Progressive Christianity Lead to Atheism?
Via George Hahn on Twitter, short video
(D) The Bible And Current Events: The Dueling Reactions To SCOTUS Overturning Roe vs Wade
NOTE: THE ~ MARK INDICATES A NEW AUTHOR/SPEAKER/THINKER
(D1) PRO SCOTUS Striking Down Roe
~ Brownsville Diocese
“I want to give thanks to the Virgin Mary because today the unborn in our country are little more protected; this is the work of God,” @bpdflores at Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle.
~ William Lane Craig short video Twitter response
~ Gregg Jarrett: Supreme Court decision restores constitutional principles
~ Frank Turek
·The SC decision today vindicates every Christian who voted for Trump despite their understandable concerns about some of his personal behavior. Life and death policy always trumps personality. Millions of babies will now live because enough people voted policy over personality.
·Twice yesterday, I heard @CNN hosts ask “but what about all the unwanted children that will be born?” Can we please retire that talking point? 1. There are long adoption waiting lists; 2. Even if a child will be unwanted that isn’t a morally sufficient reason to kill it in utero.
~ Sean McDowell
ROE is overturned. Amazing. I honestly never thought I would live to see the day.
~ Trump: When asked whether he feels he played a role in the reversal of Roe v. Wade, after having appointed three conservative justices to the high court, former president Trump told Fox News: “God made the decision.” see: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump-praises-supreme-court-decision-overturning-roe-v-wade?intcmp=tw_fnc
~ Darrell B. Harrison
Pray for those, many, in fact, who undoubtedly are angered over the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade. A heart that is convinced it is justifiable to murder an unborn child is a heart that is in desperate need of transformation, which only God can accomplish.
~ Lee Strobel
·On all levels, Roe v Wade was an abomination. Thank God it was overturned today by a courageous court. Pray for safety of pro-life centers that are already being attacked by domestic terrorists. Now this becomes a state-by-state struggle for the lives of the unborn.
~ Edward Graham
·Thank you @FoxNews for having me on @foxandfriends this morning to speak on the historic Supreme Court ruling resulting in the overturning of Roe v. Wade. God said in Jeremiah 1:5, “before I formed you in the womb, I knew you…”
~ Trent Horn
·Big thanks to @JohnBlakeCNN for including me in this article that is currently on the @CNN homepage. I hope many people will read it and see why, not just Christians, but any reasonable person should support legal protection for the unborn:
‘A LIFE IS A LIFE’: @kayleighmcenany blasts the Left for framing abortion rights around bodily autonomy only.
·Praise God and thank you President Trump!
~ Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene🇺🇸
~ United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
“Now is the time to begin the work of building a post-Roe America. It is a time for healing wounds and repairing social divisions; it is a time for reasoned reflection and civil dialogue, and for coming together to build a society and economy that supports marriages and families, and where every woman has the support and resources she needs to bring her child into this world in love.”
~ And, Judge Thomas is suggesting going after gay marriage and contraception next: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/24/clarence-thomas-roe-gay-marriage-contraception-lgbtq
(D2) AGAINST SCOTUS Striking Down Roe:
~ Ana Kasparian
~ Amanda Tyler
·As a woman, as an American, and as a Christian, I am mourning today’s devastating SCOTUS decision in the Dobbs case. I look with dread at what the future might hold for the health and welfare of women, for our individual rights and liberties and for equality under the law.
~ Michael Moore
·Make no mistake: The Supreme Court — 2/3 men & 2/3 Catholic — today forced its religious zealotry and bigotry upon an entire nation. We are now all told we must adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church and Jerry Falwell. A fertilized egg is a full blown human being! SHAME!
~ Andrew Copson
An excellent point by the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief. In addition to all its other horrendous aspects, the end of a right to abortion is a massive violation of women’s freedom of conscience.
~ Ahmed Shaheed
·A huge setback for freedom of religion or belief of women and girls. There should be a renewed effort to reclaim equal rights for women & girls!
~ Barack Obama
·Today, the Supreme Court not only reversed nearly 50 years of precedent, it relegated the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues—attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans.
~ John Gehring
Catholics on the right spent decades reducing church teaching to a single issue and linked arms with a conservative movement that is hostile to the church’s teachings about a consistent ethic of life and the common good. This ruling is the culmination of that misguided campaign.
~ Andrew L. Seidel
·Please listen to the brilliant @LeahLitman @kateashaw1 and @ProfMMurray break down this absolute trash opinion. No law, no rule of law, just vibes. Stay until the end, especially to hear Prof. Murray’s last lines.: see Episode 56: Roe is Dead. Now What? https://crooked.com/podcast-series/strict-scrutiny/
~ Michael Shermer
·I’m disinclined to catastrophize but I know religious conservatives well so believe me when I say that overturning Roe is just the beginning. They absolutely want it banned in every state. Some (a minority) would also like to ban contraception & same-sex/interracial marriage.
~ Kamala Harris
The Supreme Court decision calls into question other rights that we thought were settled.
~ Eric Vanden Eykel
·For those senators who feel hoodwinked by the justices who lied to you in order to get your vote, please remember that YOU ARE THE BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT THAT LITERALLY MAKES THE LAWS. You CAN do something beyond just clutching your pearls for the cameras.
~by Bob Smietana
~ The Editorial Board in The New York Times: The Ruling Overturning Roe Is An Insult To Women And The Judicial System
~ “But these historical facts don’t matter to Alito and the antiabortion movement because they undermine the version of American history they subscribe to what sociologist @GorskiPhilip calls ‘white Christian nationalism.'” (via Nick Fish)
~ Perspective by Samira K. Mehta and Lauren MacIvor Thompson
The Supreme Court’s abortion decision is based on a myth. Here’s why:
~ David Plouffe
-The messaging needs to be clear, consistent and true. “Congress can override what the Supreme Court did and pass a law to legalize abortion. To do that, we need to elect 2 more Democratic Senators and to hold the House. Pres Biden will sign a law codifying Roe if that happens.”
~ Pastor Zach W. Lambert
I really wish the Christians who are celebrating the overturning of Roe could see the anxious and fearful messages I’ve been getting from women in our congregation all day. Maybe take a break from your online victory laps and listen to people who are really hurting right now.
~ Rev. Dr. Charles Allen on why the Supreme Court decision effectively establishes religion:
“To speak from my own religious tradition, the biblical writers themselves seem to imply vastly different viewpoints on the status of the unborn (Jeremiah 1:4-5, Psalm 139:13-16, Exodus 21:22-25, Numbers 5:27, Ecclesiastes 11:5), so it’s really dishonest to say that the Bible clearly says anything in particular about it.”
~ Robert Reich
Forced birth in a country with:
—No universal healthcare
—No universal childcare
—No paid family & medical leave
—One of the highest rates of maternal mortality among rich nations
This isn’t about “life.” It’s about control
~ Ana Navarro-Cárdenas
If you’re against abortion, don’t get one.
If you’re against contraception, don’t take any.
If you’re against same-sex relationships, don’t have one.
If you’re against same-sex marriage, don’t marry someone of same gender.
Do not impose your beliefs & religion on all Americans.
~ RUTH SMITH: The death of Roe, and the three prongs that killed her
~ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
·Overturning Roe and outlawing abortions will never make them go away.
It only makes them more dangerous, especially for the poor + marginalized.
People will die because of this decision. And we will never stop until abortion rights are restored in the United States of America.
~ Right Wing Watch
·Emboldened by Roe’s reversal, far-right activists are eager to enact the rest of their agenda. The common theme? Christian nationalism.
~by Mike Bendzela
~ Center for Inquiry
·”Today’s ruling was not the act of a secular court but of a religious tribunal.”
~ The Daily Show short video:
~ Prof Francesca Stavrakopoulou
On #abortion and the Bible, see Numbers 5:11-31, which presents an ancient abortion ritual. It is commanded by God. Performed by a priest.
~ Daniel K. Williams: Who Will Bear the Cost of America’s Crisis Pregnancies?
~ Mariana Lenharo: After Roe v. Wade: US researchers warn of what’s to come:
Years of studies point to the negative economic and health effects of restricting access to abortions.
~ Ahmed Shaheed
And while the Justices are at it, may be they can relocate the Supreme Court to Kabul, Tehran, Riyadh, Moscow or the Vatican. As a father of three girls, I take any assault on women’s rights & gender equality both a personal & professional challenge.
~ United Nations
“Access to safe, legal and effective abortion is firmly rooted in international human rights law” @mbachelet says Friday’s US Supreme Court ruling is “a huge blow to women’s rights and gender equality.”
~ Kyle Griffin
Clarence Thomas writes, in a concurring opinion, that the Supreme Court should reconsider Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell — the rulings that now protect contraception, same-sex relationships, and same-sex marriage.
~ –JL Martyn “History and Theology in the fourth gospel.
One thing, at least, is shared by all New Testament authors…none of them merely repeats the tradition. …everyone shapes it, bends it, makes selections among its riches, and even adds to it.
&, if personhood starts at conception, then what about identical twins? Do they split one & the same “personhood”? If not (as seems obvious), what do we call that thing that existed prior to it splitting? Terminating it cannot be terminating a human *person.*
~ Charlie Savage (New York Times): Decades Ago, Alito Laid Out Methodical Strategy to Eventually Overrule Roe
~ NIKKI MCCANN RAMIREZ
~ James F. McGrath
“In the 18th century, abortion was completely legal before what was called the ‘quickening’ of a fetus – when a woman could first feel fetal movement, or roughly four and a half months through a pregnancy.”
– Law Prof. Geoffrey R. Stone
There was a push in the last century by postmodern philosophers such as Jacques Derrida and Emmanuel Levinas that Ethics, not Metaphysics, needed to be first philosophy. Some have extended this to the idea that Ethics needs to be first religion as well. Clearly, it is possible to come up examples, analogies, etc to illustrate contradictory positions like pro-life vs pro-choice, so obviously we need to do better in our ethical reasoning than just endlessly throwing examples at one another. In many ways, the debate seems odd. Being alive doesn’t carry with it a right to stay alive, and so we kill carrots, mushrooms, insects, chickens, etc. If the debate is to be framed in terms of the right to life of the human baby trumping a woman’s autonomy over her own body, I suppose a beginning point would be for conservatives to show, say, at 6 weeks that an unborn is not merely alive, but a person, however you’d like to define person. Conservatives are the ones making the positive claim, so the responsibility is on them to clarify in what sense the unborn is a person.
It would seem that at some stage the embyo isn’t a person, such as with identical twins before the single organism separates into 2. Similarly, conservatives appealing to the bible is no real help here, since the Hebrew scriptures permit abortion (though, as RHIANNON GRAYBILL AND JILL HICKS-KEETON point out, for instance, while abortion is prescribed in Numbers 5 it isn’t related to females having autonomy over their bodies). It doesn’t help to say God forms the unborn at conception with a plan for his/her life, since this is an evidence-based conversation and there certainly isn’t evidence for that miracle, since for instance cats conceive all the time without anyone thinking God is involved. In and of itself abortion seems fine, and is routinely done to dogs and cats, for instance, even though, like with humans, it is a crime to harm or kill grown cats and dogs. Moreover, on meeting the criteria for personhood as an elephant, see https://www.science20.com/the_conversation/ai_to_elephants_the_legal_question_of_who_is_a_person-256124
Why would someone equate being an embryo with being a person? …
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
Certainly, a human embryo becomes a lot more sacred if it is viewed as endowed with a life plan by God, rather than a human just being a evolutionary member of a DNA group that includes rodents (rats and mice) and rabbits. Still, it’s hard for me to watch 2 year old children dying of starvation and cancer, and still entertaining the possibility that despite this there is nonetheless a benevolent creator with a divine plan hidden in such horror. Human life seems to be so obviously not lived according to a plan of a loving creator, that claims we can’t terminate pregnancies because God intended the embryo to be the next Einstein seems absurd. So, let’s talk …
Thanks For Stopping By THE JUNE 2022 BIBLICAL STUDIES CARNIVAL!
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