For me the best thing about Christmas has always been the little satsuma orange that is found at the bottom of the Christmas stocking (or, in the ostentatious days of my youth, the pillowcase). Even as a toddler, waddling around in nappied splendour (diapers for my US friends) with a copy of Plutarch tucked under my arm, I had realised that the lurid baubles and trinkets of Christmastide were but tawdry wreaths of misguided expectations that inevitably ended in overconsumption and gout.
Just three minutes after the manic frenzy of denuding the presents of their wrappings (the confetti of paper had still yet to reach the floor) and the downing of the last pickled onion, I would long for something fresh, something real, something that would cut through the jaded palette from which Christmas was painted. That was when I would reach into the bottom of my pillowcase and pluck from it the satsuma.
And so, as you blearily gaze at these words through the claustrophobic fug and lethargy of post-Christmas excess, I offer to you the revivifying qualities of the modern day satsuma of Christmas – the December Biblical Studies Carnivals…
Jennifer Guo is our suitably festive host for this month’s pickings of the “best and nerdiest” posts from the biblioblogosphere. We are offered an array of goodies collated into the following categories: ANE/Hebrew Bible, Archaeology, NT/Early Christianity, Languages, Miscellaneous, Bibliophilic Bibioblogging: Blurbs, Reviews, & Interviews, and Book lists.
There’s lots of stuff on Paul (for some reason), but then if I mention Paul much more I’ll probably get feathered and tarred by a certain section of the student population. There is also news of a lot of new videos that have been uploaded on the terrific Biblical Studies Online site – just the thing to watch over Christmas… if it hadn’t just gone.
The bulla bearing the name of Hezekiah received a lot of attention this month – apart from me, that is. When I first read about it, I thought it was old news, having convinced myself that I had read about it 20 years ago. Anyway, there’s a link to a nice post that will give you all the information about it. There’s also a thing about giants which, when I read it at the time, I made a mental note to mention it to a student who was talking about them to me the previous day. Needless to say, I subsequently forgot, so I am grateful for the reminder!
On a sadder note, Jennifer notes (as have many bibliobloggers) the deaths of Howard Marshall, Robert Mulholland and Heikki Räisänen (the latter being especially poignant for those who just completed the ECL module at Newman with me). I have just become aware of another (truly) great scholar who must sadly be included on this list: Helmut Koester.
Most traditions of Christmas have a dark and sinister figure prowling wolf-like in the background: The Krampus to St Nicholas; the Grinch to those strange creatures with the funny shaped heads. Which brings us neatly onto Jim West’s December Biblical Studies Carnival.
This month’s carnival is devoted to biblical studies and includes that fiery mix of erudition and humour. I write that through slightly gritted teeth (or perhaps knotted fingers?) as Jim doesn’t take much time before launching into a piece on this Hezekiah bulla that has just been found. He goes on to remark:
This is a big deal. Perhaps the biggest deal of the month.
Ok. So if, sometime in the past month, you just happen to have come across someone who dismissed the whole thing with a wave of the hand and assured you not to get too excited because he had read about it 20 years ago – HE IS WRONG (I’d advise you to take everything he says in the future with a pinch of salt… and check it on Google).
Giants also get a mention and so do cats. Nice to see Steph’s post here getting the thumbs up. We hope to have more from her soon.
Any way, this has gone on far too long, so I’ll let you go and enjoy these couple of satsumas that are the freshest and juiciest that you’ll find this post-Christmas…