Biblical studies: March 2006 Archives

Andreas Koestenberger is now blogging. I've been wondering when the more conservative biblical scholars would begin to have a presence in the blogosphere. We've got some top-notch moderate conservatives in Ben Witherington and Scot McKnight, but both have views that I have serious reservations about, despite their stalwart defense of conservative positions on other matters. I consider Koestenberger a solid conservative on most issues I care about being conservative about, and I welcome him to the blogosphere. Now if only he could figure out how to have permalinks for his individual posts...

Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus : The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why has become quite a publishing success since it came out in November. Those who know biblical studies will recognize it as mostly a good popularization of standard textual criticism (comparing the various manuscripts of biblical books to try to reconstruct with the text originally said). Those who don't know the subject will take it as a strong argument against the integrity of the Bible, but any familiarity with text criticism will demolish that impression rather quickly. Ehrman's conclusions on such matter simply don't follow from his arguments. I've not looked too much at the book itself, but I've read several reviews over the last few weeks:

Craig Blomberg in Denver Journal
Daniel Wallace at bible.org
Ben Witherington at his blog (which includes Wallace's comments with his own thoughts surrounding it)

All three scholars conclude that Ehrman's presentation of the actual data is excellent as an introduction at the popular level to a difficult field but that he paints his conclusions to suggest something way beyond what the data show. For instance, he handpicks the very worst cases of textual corruption and then acts as if those are fairly representative, when in reality hardly anything is on that level. I could go on, but I'd rather you just read what the biblical scholars say.

Anchor Bible

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This is a list of the current and forthcoming commentaries in the Anchor Bible commentary series. For more series, see my post on commentary series.

The Anchor Bible (AB) commentaries are among the most academically respectable scholarly commentaries, though the quality and level of detail can vary from volume to volume. They transliterate the Greek and Hebrew, which helps for someone who doesn't know the original languages, but sometimes the level of detail isn't all that helpful for someone who just wants a little background and doesn't want to wade through pages of scholarship to find that the kind of theological question they're worrying about is hardly treated by a scholar who cares more about the linguistic, historical, and text-critical issues. Not all volumes are like this, but many are. The level of detail will also vary greatly from volume to volume, with later publication dates often signaling much more depth, and some (though certainly not all) older ones are all but useless given what else is out there. Textual criticism, exegetical notes and expositional commentary are separated into separate sections. This makes it difficult to find anything, but it also keeps separate kinds of work separate. I'd rather not have these separated, but some people prefer it.

As with most critical series, evangelicals will be troubled by some of the conclusions of most of the scholars writing in this series (except for the few evangelical contributors). Though evangelicals can supplement the kind of information in these commentaries with what I consider to be much better theological sense and a much higher appreciation of scripture, many evangelical commentaries simply can't compete with the best volumes in this series, at least with respect to historical and sociological background information, lexical study, text criticism, archaeology. etc. Theology is often given short shrift. The series is mostly done, with only Nahum and Philippians not covered and only Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Ezekiel still only partially covered, though some volumes are being replaced (I know of Genesis, II Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah, Psalms, Proverbs 10-31, Matthew, the second half of Mark, and Revelation).

Volumes released so far:

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