New Books in Biblical Studies

screen-shot-2016-09-17-at-3-02-10-pmSince April 2015, I’ve been the host of New Books in Biblical Studies on the New Books Network, a consortium of volunteer podcasters who are “dedicated to raising the level of public discourse by introducing serious authors to serious audiences.”

On my channel, I interview authors of new books about the Bible—from modern-day commentaries and art books to scholarly monographs and reference works. Each interview is about an hour long, which allows for a more wide-ranging conversation than most interview programs.

There are many other podcasts on the NBN about religion and faith. You can browse a complete listing here.

This page serves as an index of my interviews to date. I will update it periodically as I add new programs. You can also follow the channel on Twitter @newbooksbible. Please let me know if you have a suggestion for an upcoming program.

As always, thank you for listening!

New Books in Biblical Studies

Interview #10:
Scot McKendrick and Kathleen Doyle
The Art of the Bible Illuminated Manuscripts from the Medieval World
Thames and Hudson, 2016
recorded November 18, 2016
On today’s program, I talk with Scot McKendrick and Kathleen Doyle about their new book, The Art of the Bible, which looks at 45 featured manuscripts from across the globe and through 1,000 years of history, including the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Queen Mary Psalter, the Canterbury Royal Bible, the Old English Hextateuch, the Welles Apocalypse, and the Paduan Bible Picture Book, among others. With more than 300 illustrations, which have been meticulously color corrected for this new book, the authors shed light on some of the finest but least-known paintings from the Middle Ages and on the development of art, literature, and civilization as we know it.
To view some of the illuminated manuscripts discussed on this program, visit the British Library’s Digitised Manuscripts at https://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/. You can also follow @blmedieval on Twitter, which is linked to the authors’ Medieval Manuscripts blog.

Interview #9:
Fleming Rutledge
The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ
Eerdmans, 2015
recorded September 10, 2016
If you think you understand the meaning of the crucifixion, think again. We take it for granted as a religious symbol, but in reality it is as far from a true religious symbol as one can think of. In this new book, Fleming Rutledge emphasizes not just the horror of it but also the alienation, the shame, and the scandal of the cross: “The Christian faith glorifies as the Son of God a man who was degraded and dehumanized by his fellow human being as much as it is possible to be, by decree of both church and state, and that he died in a way designed to subject him to utmost contempt and finally to erase him from human memory.” In the second half of her book, she extends the significance and implications of the cross further than I knew it could go. In some circles, you’d think it’s all—or only—about atonement and justification before God, but Fleming points out that there are many other motifs or themes of the crucifixion that are equally deserving of our understanding and appreciation. In this wide ranging conversation, we talk about her book, her ordination in the Episcopal Church in 1977, the civil rights movement, the nature of evil, the victory of Christ, and more.

Interview #8:
Joseph Lam
Patterns of Sin in the Hebrew Bible: Metaphor, Culture, and the Making of a Religious Concept
Oxford University Press, 2016
recorded June 25, 2016
From the jacket: “Sin, often defined as a violation of divine will, remains a crucial idea in contemporary moral and religious discourse. However, the apparent familiarity of the concept obscures its origins within the history of Western religious thought. Joseph Lam examines a watershed moment in the development of sin as an idea-namely, within the language and culture of ancient Israel-by examining the primary metaphors used for sin in the Hebrew Bible. Drawing from contemporary theoretical insights coming out of linguistics and philosophy of language, this book identifies four patterns of metaphor that pervade the biblical texts: sin as burden, sin as an account, sin as path or direction, and sin as stain or impurity. In exploring the permutations of these metaphors and their development within the biblical corpus, Patterns of Sin in the Hebrew Bible offers a compelling account of how a religious and theological concept emerges out of the everyday thought-world of ancient Israel, while breaking new ground in its approach to metaphor in ancient texts. Far from being a timeless, stable concept, sin becomes intelligible only when situated in the matrix of ancient Israelite culture. In other words, sin is not as simple as it might seem.”

Interview #7:
Richard B. Hays
Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels and Reading Backward: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness
Baylor University Press, 2014 and 2016 (respectively)
recorded June 4, 2016
The central question of these two books is: How do the gospel writers use the OT? Personally, I’ve been discouraged and dismayed by my own efforts to piece together meaningful insights from an encyclopedic reference. I was daunted not only by the sheer number of passages but also by a fundamental lack of coherence. This reaction is the complete opposite from my experience of reading these two new books. Applying the figure as a tool for interpretation, Hays examines individual strands of citation and allusion in each gospel and effortlessly weaves them together in a rich tapestry, which on my own I would never seen below the surface of the text. So how do we learn to hear the echoes of Scripture if we don’t know the sources? Is there an art to reading Scripture? Tune in and find out. In these books Hays shows how scholarship can also be an act of worship.

Interview #6:
Aviya Kushner
The Grammar of God: A Journey into the Words and Worlds of the Bible
Spiegel and Grau (Random House), 2015
recorded February 16, 2016
Part memoir and part literary essay, this book examines the nature and limits of the Bible in translation. What do we miss in translation? How can we engage in a richer appreciation of the underlying text, in all its power and ambiguity? How does our active close reading of the text work its way into our understanding of history, the lives of others, and our own experience?

Interview #5:
Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, editors
The Jewish Study Bible, 2nd edition
Oxford University Press, 2014
recorded September 2, 2015
An edition of the Bible—what task could be more monumental and more daunting? Find out from a noted Jewish scholar what he and his co-editor did to produce the second edition of their Jewish Study Bible for Oxford. Plus, there are many foundational questions raised by the enterprise. Which bits warrant comment? Which bits should pass without? How does one know when to stop? Does an edition have to find a solid middle ground in the scholarly debates?
Note: An edited transcript of this interview can be found here.

Interview #4:
John H. Walton
The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate
IVP Academic, 2015
recorded July 24, 2015
Few parts of the Hebrew Bible have attracted more comment than the primeval chapters of Genesis. In a follow-up to his book The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, John Walton tackles many of the questions prompted by chapters 2 and 3 that seemingly run counter to an evolutionary explanation for humankind’s descent. Does Walton’s understanding of “functions” of the created order in Genesis help to sort out the impasse between the scientific and religious accounts of our common origin? Does this approach allow more slack and greater understanding than a more literal reading?

Interview #3:
Iain W. Provan
Seriously Dangerous Religion: What the Old Testament Really Says and Why It Matters
Baylor University Press, 2014
recorded July 6, 2015
What was the Axial Age? In a follow-up to his 2013 book, Convenient Myths: The Axial Age, Dark Green Religion, and the World that Never Was, Provan presses deeper into recent ways of contextualizing the arc of the Hebrew Bible and finds it wanting. In its place, he identifies the threads of narrative that are infinitely more profound in truth but perhaps dangerous to our complacency.

Interview #2:
Tom McLeish
Faith and Wisdom in Science
Oxford University Press, 2014
recorded May 22, 2015
This book achieves the improbable in forging new ground in the debate between science and religion. Written by a scientist, it reexamines some misunderstandings in the history of science and navigates new terrain about the way science is conducted today. McLeish borrows heavily from his own discipline (chemistry), but also has fascinating things to say about philosophy, theology, and the Bible. To boot, he offers a highly original and deeply compelling interpretation of the Book of Job. McLeish suggests that our natural impulses toward observation and measurement—as well as the wonder and awe that arise in us from those discoveries—are not an end in themselves but rather a start for something much more transformative: the world’s restoration and healing. This book made me rethink my own position, which had settled down into something resembling Gould’s “nonoverlapping magisteria.”
Note: Listen to McLeish read a passage from his remarkable book here.

Interview #1:
Tremper Longman III
Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale Old Testament Commentary [TOTC] series)
IVP Academic, 2014
recorded April 6, 2015
The Psalms have given voice to the prayers and petitions of generations of Jews and Christians alike. They represent the deepest longings of kings and desperate men, the righteous and the penitent, all “seeking the face of God” (27:8 and 105:4). But they often seem formidable poetically, as finely wrought articulations expressions of both grief and piety, but also ethically, where lamentation turns into imprecation. What’s the best way to access the meaning and significance of the Psalms? How does a commentary function alongside our reading of the text itself? And how did the early Christian witnesses summon or evoke their images and motifs in their writings? Why did they insist on reading their Christology back into the Psalms?

Other Recommended NBN Podcasts

I recommend the following podcasts about the Bible, Judaism, or Christianity by other channel hosts on the NBN:

Jon D. Levenson
The Love of God: Divine Gift, Human Gratitude, and Mutual Faithfulness in Judaism
Princeton University Press, 2016
June 9, 2016
interviewed by Jason Schulman

Gary A. Anderson
Charity: The Place of the Poor in the Biblical Tradition
Yale University Press 2013
May 2, 2016
interviewed by Jason Schulman

Mark A. Noll
In the Beginning Was the Word: The Bible in American Public Life, 1492–1783
Oxford University Press, 2015
December 9, 2015
interviewed by Lillian Calles Barger

Timothy Michael Law
When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible
Oxford University Press, 2013
December 10, 2014
interviewed by Kristian Petersen

. . . others to be added soon!

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