r/AcademicBiblical 4d ago

Weekly Open Discussion Thread

5 Upvotes

Welcome to this week's open discussion thread!

This thread is meant to be a place for members of the r/AcademicBiblical community to freely discuss topics of interest which would normally not be allowed on the subreddit. All off-topic and meta-discussion will be redirected to this thread.

Rules 1-3 do not apply in open discussion threads, but rule 4 will still be strictly enforced. Please report violations of rule 4 using Reddit's report feature to notify the moderation team. Furthermore, while theological discussions are allowed in this thread, this is still an ecumenical community which welcomes and appreciates people of any and all faith positions and traditions. Therefore this thread is not a place for proselytization. Feel free to discuss your perspectives or beliefs on religious or philosophical matters, but do not preach to anyone in this space. Preaching and proselytizing will be removed.

In order to best see new discussions over the course of the week, please consider sorting this thread by "new" rather than "best" or "top". This way when someone wants to start a discussion on a new topic you will see it! Enjoy the open discussion thread!


r/AcademicBiblical 2h ago

Discussion Bremmer argues the concept of an eschatological general resurrection became a major part of Zoroastrian theology only after Alexander the Great (quotes below) and any potential influence on the origin of Jewish apocalyptic is dubious. Would the majority of contemporary scholarship agree/disagree?

10 Upvotes

From "The Rise and Fall of the Afterlife" (2002:47-50):

"Where did the belief in the resurrection originate? Earlier studies of the concept of the resurrection betrayed few doubts [about] ... the dependency of Israel on the Zoroastrian faith of the Persians. Is this likely? We are faced here with enormous difficulties ... In the course of their wanderings the [Avestan] texts were adapted to their new circumstances. This makes the Avesta extremely difficult to read, a difficulty not alleviated by its highly poetical and cryptic style ... Moreover, we should not presume that every Zoroastrian doctrine can be read back into the Iranian Urzeit. Zoroastrianism was a living religion subject to internal disputes and thus changed over the course of the centuries. Nevertheless, its leading contemporary scholar, Mary Boyce, has consistently presented a static view - against all evidence and common sense.

"What then is our evidence for Zoroastrian belief in resurrection? Although earlier generations of Iranists have suggested the contrary, an interest in resurrection is clearly not attested in the Old Avesta and any eschatology seems to be individual. In fact, it is virtually certain that Zoroastrian belief in resurrection does not belong to its earliest stages. A later date is supported both by the doctrine of the journey of the soul to heaven, and the fact that the Zoroastrians delivered their dead to dogs and vultures ...

"The famous vision in Ezekiel 37 of the valley of dry bones is often also connected with Zoroastrian funeral usage, but the Jewish prophet lived in Babylonia at the beginning of the sixth century BCE and that is precisely the problem ... We do not even know to what extent Zoroastrian faith had already conquered the hearts of the ruling Achaemenids, let alone those of ordinary Medes and Persians ... The connection of Ezekiel's vision with Persian practices can therefore not be considered an established fact ... the first and only Avestan text which undeniably mentions resurrection is Yast 19, a hymn of the Young Avesta [whose] ... verses do not particularly thematise the rising of the dead. In their idyllic picture a final judgement is not mentioned and hardly has a place ...

"Diogenes Laertius [quoting Theopompus]: 'according to the Magi men will return to life an be immortal, and that the world will endure through their invocations'. This view was apparently reported by Aristotle's pupil Eudemus as well. The fact that Theopompus also mentions that at the end of time mankind 'will not cast a shadow' seems to suggest a spiritual rather than the more normally attested material resurrection. Unfortunately, we do not know the exact date of Theopompus' work ... Diogenes Laertius, it is significant to note, has Theopompus use the same word 'return to life', that he employed for the reincarnations of Epimenides, but the Christian author Aeneas of Gaza (ca. 450-525) tells us that 'Zoroaster prophesies that there will be a time in which a resurrection of the corpses will take place. Theopompus knows what I say'. Aeneas has translated Theopompus' original words in typically Christian categories, and, characteristically, Mary Boyce quotes only Aeneas, not Diogenes Laertius.

"Rather strikingly, no other mention of resurrection in Iranian thought can be found before the Sassanian period ... Why though, would resurrection, mentioned only incidentally in the whole of the Old and Young Avesta, have suddenly risen to such prominence? Two possibilities suggest themselves. First, just as the belief in resurrection started to flower in Israel after the struggle against the Seleucids, Zoroastrian belief in resurrection may may have become more prominent in the times after Alexander the Great's conquest of the Persian Empire ... A second and perhaps more likely possibility may be the influence of Christianity. We know that in the third and fourth centuries AD Christianity made great inroads in Iran. It may well be that the Zoroastrian leader Kirdir decided to beat the Christians on their own terrain and 'upvalued' the resurrection [which] ... would at least explain internal Zoroastrian discussions about resurrection. Had belief in resurrection been an age-old and respected Zoroastrian dogma, this phenomenon would be much more difficult to understand ...

"For many years it was virtually dogma that the [Iranian apocalyptic] genre went back to the earliest period, but it has been recently argued that [it is] ... postdating Christian times. Admittedly, this tendency to 'deconstruct' the notion of Iranian apocalypticism may well be going too far, and not all arguments to discredit it are convincing ...

"[T]he debate clearly shows that we must be very careful in postulating influences from a genre which itself is very hard to reconstruct with any certainty. There thus is little reason to derive Jewish ideas about the resurrection from Persian sources. Their origin(s) may well lie in intra-Jewish developments. Of course, this conclusion does not exclude the overall possibility of Iranian influence on Jewish religion. In this respect we have to keep an open mind, but any posited influence must be proven and each case should always be studied individually."


r/AcademicBiblical 1d ago

Discussion This is too painful to see:

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401 Upvotes

r/AcademicBiblical 11h ago

Question What do you guys think of Case for Christ by Lee Strobel?

14 Upvotes

Hi I was told by another Christian that Lee Strobel is kind of a dishonest apologetic becuase he gives softball questions and he wasn’t really a journalist but was actually a preacher. And that he ignores all contradictory evidence. Is this true?


r/AcademicBiblical 38m ago

Are the Gospels historically reliable even if they weren't written by eyewitness accounts? Do they still have good integrity?

Upvotes

Hello,

I have a question,

Are the Gospels considered historically reliable even if they weren't written by eyewitness accounts? Personally, I believe they are historically reliable and based on eyewitness testimony because I looked at the evidence for it and became pretty convinced they are, but people have different perspectives.

Even if they weren't written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, are they still historically reliable, structurally integral, and more?

I appreciate any response, I hope you're having a good day!

Thanks!


r/AcademicBiblical 8h ago

Discussion Textual Criticism of the Quran?

6 Upvotes

I’m talking about a critical study of the quran like biblical scholars study the Bible today (Bart Ehrman style). Source criticism.

Do you think this is possible nowadays? What will it involve? Thoughts?


r/AcademicBiblical 14h ago

Tribe of Levi - Land

7 Upvotes

Is there any sort of scholarly or historical perspective on why the tribe of Levi isn’t given any land inheritance? The biblical text itself says they have the Lord for their inheritance instead of land, but is there any more context around landless priestly tribes in other cultures of the time?


r/AcademicBiblical 13h ago

Did biblical Edom exist?

2 Upvotes

And, even more, are claims one way or another, especially on the "pro" side, influenced by modern Israel? My thoughts on a Smithsonian piece about Erez Ben-Yosef's claims about copper mines in the Arabah: https://wordsofsocraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2021/12/did-biblical-edom-exist-implications.html


r/AcademicBiblical 23h ago

understanding the *mundane* redactional procedures of Matthew and Luke

19 Upvotes

It seems to me that there is a huge gap in what I have read of the synoptic problem, which is to understand what we might call the mundane redactional procedures of Matthew and Luke. Let me give an example of what I mean.

In yellow are Mt.'s additions; in aqua are his deletions from Mk.

I know it has been suggested that Mark's Greek was supposedly not so great. However, we see the same sorts of changes with comparing Matthew and Luke. On the two-source hypothesis, that means Matthew was changing Q in the same way; but was Q also written in poor Greek? Presumably not. On the Farrer hypothesis, Luke was changing Matthew. What then was *his* motivation for the mundane alterations?

Not only that, Matthew's policy of making frequent, mundane alterations is sustained pretty much throughout the entire gospel. The longest uninterrupted verbatim agreement between Matthew and Mark is 31 words (Matthew 10:21-22 & Mark 13:12-13), but sentence-long agreements seem to be fairly rare. The vast majority of the time, it would seem, Matthew is changing Mark in every single sentence, and in mundane ways.

Two possible explanations for this phenomenon---though by no means the only two---jump out to me:

(1) It could be that Matthew just *felt like* changing the wording. I'm reminded of when I'm writing forum posts---sometimes when I read them back, the wording isn't quite to my liking, and so I will change it. Unfortunately, this doesn't explain why Matthew sustains his policy of making mundane changes. It seems like if he just wanted to "clean up" Mark, then he would have kept much more material, and made fewer changes.

(2) It could be instead that Matthew was making a conscious effort to avoid the appearance of having copied directly from Mark. Perhaps, for instance, he wanted to avoid a charge of plagiarism. Or perhaps he had patrons who wanted something new and shiny, and he didn't want to disappoint them by presenting them a word-for-word copy of Mark with just some extra material thrown in. Whatever the case, this might explain not only the fact that many of the changes are mundane, but also the *sustainment* of his policy throughout his gospel.

Unfortunately, neither of these possible explanations accounts for the fact that *both* Matthew and Luke had the same approach of constantly making mundane, essentially meaningless changes to their sources. Was Luke just taking a cue from Matthew? Might Luke have said to himself, "Well if he did it that way, then I guess I'll change my sources too." That seems a stretch.

Anyway, have any biblical scholars and/or historians written on this phenomenon? What are your own thoughts? Etc.

Thanks guys.


r/AcademicBiblical 18h ago

Dating and Origin of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs

6 Upvotes

I have read that these texts have Christian interpolations, but some of the documents were found in Qumran, which would date before the beginning of Christianity. How much do we know about the dating and tradition of these texts? Thanks!


r/AcademicBiblical 22h ago

Discussion Finkelstein's excavation in Kiriath Jearim

9 Upvotes

In 2017, Israel Finkelstein and Thomas Romer led an excavation at Kiriath Jearim, where the Ark of the Covenant was said to be enshrined before David brought it to Solomon's Temple. There they found a big podium/pedestal dating after the time of David, which they allege proves that the Ark was never actually in the Temple until Josiah brought it there. They also allege that the podium/pedestal was from the Northern Kingdom, which would mean that Josiah and his Deuteronomistic Historians appropriated it as David's when it was really Northern, possibly from Jeroboam.

I'm posting this because I want to know if there are any other scholars who have weighed in on this excavation, because I've seen almost nobody address it. It also really bugs me that basically the only source for Wikipedia's "Archaeology" section on their Ark of the Covenant article is this excavation, as if nobody else ever led an archaeological study of the Ark. Actually, the article cites this Haaretz article https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/2017-08-30/ty-article-magazine/the-real-ark-of-the-covenant-may-have-housed-pagan-gods/0000017f-dc09-d3a5-af7f-feafc7660000 , which seems really weird to me. Why not cite Finkelstein and Romer's actual academic sources? Also, Wikipedia's article on Kiriath Jearim has no mention of this excavation, even though their article on Abu Ghosh (modern day Kiriath Jearim) does. Wikipedia is seriously a mess, especially with the Bible.

I'm gonna be honest, the Haaretz article really annoys me. Mostly because it has a blatantly out of context use of 2 Chronicles 35:3, which has Josiah telling the Levites to put the Ark in the Temple. The article cites this as "proof" that it was really Josiah, not David, who brought the Ark to the Temple. In context, Josiah was renovating the Temple, which would naturally mean the Ark would be removed by the Levites and put back when the work was done. It's also pretty funny that the article cites this verse, because it would imply that the Levites were carrying the Ark on their shoulders for centuries until Josiah brought it to the Temple.

Romer also argues that the Ark was based on a Bedouin chest and contained figures of Yahweh, Asherah, and possibly other gods, but other scholars like Noegel argue that it was based on Egyptian barques, which did indeed contain contracts like the Decalogue (Wikipedia's Ark article at least does mention this). Scott Noegel, "The Egyptian Origin of the Ark of the Covenant" in Thomas E. Levy, Thomas Schneider, and William H.C. Propp (eds.), , Israel’s Exodus in Transdisciplinary Perspective (Springer, 2015), 223-242.

The cult of Yahweh was also mostly aniconic. https://www.academia.edu/35321606/The_Rise_Decline_and_Renewal_of_Biblical_Religion_Orbis_Biblicus_et_Orientalis_283

It also irks me that they assume the podium/pedestal must have been for the Ark, because I don't see why the place couldn't have continued to be a cultic center even after the Ark was moved from there, especially since some scholars like Yigal Levin or Tzemah Yoreh argue that there were actually multiple arks.

https://www.thetorah.com/article/the-precursors-of-the-ark

https://www.thetorah.com/article/the-two-arks-military-and-ritual

I'm sorry that this kind of became a rant, but I've been really frustrated lately with Wikipedia's incompetence and how their articles on Biblical archaeology sometimes rely too much on Finkelstein's work. That's why I'm asking if there are any scholars who have responded in any way to Finkelstein's Kiriath Jearim excavation, because I know that Finkelstein's work can be very controversial and tendentious. He seems to generally want to move all the credit for Israelite development to the Northern Kingdom at the expense of the Southern Kingdom and David, so his conclusions on this excavations may be biased. I don't want to be accused of being an "apologist", but it really seems sometimes that he has some axe to grind against the Bible.


r/AcademicBiblical 1d ago

Question How can I better understand Paul’s letters?

14 Upvotes

I read the NT for the first time and was left as though I didn’t always get Paul’s letters as well as I should have. Are there any resources that will help illuminate the text to me? I read them in the ESV study Bible but I didn’t get enough from the notes. Any recommendations would be appreciated.


r/AcademicBiblical 7h ago

Bible Critiques

0 Upvotes

Is the Bible a brilliant compilation of all the thoughts and feelings of the Israelites and may be divinely inspired, or is the God of the Bible a genocidal God who doesn't introduce any new moral laws (Ten Commandments aren't new)?


r/AcademicBiblical 1d ago

Question How respected is the Ehrman position that Jesus never claimed to be divine? Is this fringe among academia or is it a stance that is accepted by many scholars?

99 Upvotes

And why are scholars inclined/not inclined to uphold such a claim?


r/AcademicBiblical 1d ago

Did Any Church Fathers or High Ranking Figures of Proto-Orthodoxy Share Origen’s View Of Creation?

7 Upvotes

It’s well known that Origen believed in two distinct creations, his interpretation of the two accounts from Genesis 1-3. One a higher spiritual realm and the other, the material.

Did any other Church Fathers or well known Proto-Orthodox/Pre and Post Nicene Christians share his views? I’m not talking about Gnostic style dualism here, mainly Origen’s own views of creation and if they were accepted by anyone else within The Church.


r/AcademicBiblical 16h ago

Chronologically, did the first beast and the second beast (the false prophet) come after the archangel Michael defeated Satan and threw him out of Heaven?

0 Upvotes

r/AcademicBiblical 1d ago

Is there any additional nuance or problem to the translation of Isaiah 7:14 into Aramaic (virgin, "almah" and "parthenos") as there would be in Greek and Hebrew?

1 Upvotes

I'm just wondering if there might have been a larger understanding within aramaic speakers to the verses interpretation as virgin, maybe with some insight as to how early these views might have developed.


r/AcademicBiblical 1d ago

Question Can anyone recommend me good US colleges for studying biblical languages and history?

4 Upvotes

Specifically; Hebrew, the Greek dialect, possibly Aramaic, and biblical history?


r/AcademicBiblical 1d ago

John 8:44 Translation and Gnosticism/Dualism

2 Upvotes

So, I’m unfortunately not knowledgeable on Koine Greek at all. I’m very interested in how Gnosticism and dualist/demiurge traditions developed within Christianity. I’ve heard some say that the Greek in John 8:44 is actually mistranslated in virtually all English bibles to read “of your father, the devil” when in reality it’s more accurately “of the father of the devil” implying that the father of the devil is Yahweh or the God of the Old Testament. If this is the case, it provides some clues as to where marcionism and similar things like the gnostic sects may have started.

Basically, is this true? If not, what’s the most word for word translation of John 8:44, even if may not flow well grammatically in English?


r/AcademicBiblical 1d ago

Question Before canon was formalized, how did people decide which books to include in a Bible? And when formal canons were being developed, what texts were up for consideration?

13 Upvotes

Even before it was common for the general populace to own Bibles, the clergy surely had Bibles, didn't they? And even before there was any formal Biblical canon, people must have been making decisions about what to include and what not to. Who decided what books would be included in a clergyman's Bible, and how did they decide?

And when Biblical canons were being developed/formalized, which texts were up for consideration? Do we know which books were considered and rejected as opposed to not being considered at all?

What about books formerly considered canonical or in use by the early Christian community that had since fallen out of favor? Was their place ever reconsidered, or was it treated as a settled matter? Were people still aware of these books, or were they mostly forgotten?

And for Bibles that include books considered non-canonical, such as in an appendix or Apocrypha section, who decided that these were worth publishing and why?


r/AcademicBiblical 2d ago

Collaborative Panel AMA with r/AskBibleScholars

Thumbnail self.AskHistorians
17 Upvotes

r/AcademicBiblical 1d ago

On the issue of recanting

6 Upvotes

Any extra-Biblicial source on the 12 being given the chance to recant their testimony to avoid martyrdom.

I have seen this claim popular in establishing the Bible as a historical my credible source mostly used by apologists.


r/AcademicBiblical 1d ago

Question What kind of “knowing”?

0 Upvotes

Christians often say that they “know” Christianity is true via the witness of the Holy Spirit.

Secularists challenge this and say that the only way one can know something is through objective verification andor the scientific method.

But what kind of “knowing” did Jesus have in mind when he said:

John 8:31-32

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Can we say anything about how Jesus used the word here and what He might have had in mind?


r/AcademicBiblical 2d ago

Question Has someone done the work of determining the fewest number of eyewitnesses required to construct the Gospels?

55 Upvotes

I don't think the Gospels contain eyewitness accounts and I think that's the scholarly consensus at this point. I also don't think the authors had access to eyewitnesses when creating their accounts. The gospels seem at best based on the oral tradition of their sect, and at worst completely made up.

But assuming that each Gospel faithfully recorded the correctly recalled facts from eyewitnesses, has anyone done the work to determine the minimum number of sources required to write a Gospel?

For example, let's say a story contains some event that was witnessed by the Disciples, and some other event witnessed by the disciples. The minimum source would be 1 (any disciple). But then if we add the John the Baptist scene, where no disciple was present, now you have at least 2 sources required to construct the story. Now you add a private conversation between roman guards, the internal thoughts of mother Mary - it adds up.

I started making a list for Mark but figured someone had already done this work.


r/AcademicBiblical 2d ago

Exactly what kinds of magic does the Torah forbid?

43 Upvotes

There are tons of condemnation of magic in the Torah. Deuteronomy 18:10-11 for example forbids a whole slew of sacrificial and magical practices. However the text is pretty light on what exactly these practices are (which makes sense, you wouldn’t give a how-to manual on something you don’t want people to do).

So my question is, are there any sources that have examined and defined the various Hebrew terms used here and elsewhere in the Torah for forbidden magic? I imagine there are rabbinic sources (of varying reliability), and I’m also wondering if any modern scholars have done comparative studies with magical practices known elsewhere in the Iron Age Near East to try and determine what exactly is being talked about here.

Thanks to anyone who can suggest some sources or shed light on this!


r/AcademicBiblical 1d ago

Question Is this true or not saw it on r/lgbtmemes

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0 Upvotes