Saturday, May 15, 2004

Biblical Studies Bulletin 31

Grove Books' Biblical Studies Bulletin is a very useful occasional newsletter edited by Michael Thompson of Ridley Hall, Cambridge. The latest is now available on the web:

Biblical Studies Bulletin 31 (March 2004)

As usual, there is plenty of interest. It begins with the editor's review of The Passion of the Christ and I am happy to see that his viewpoint is quite similar to mine. The violence is graphic but not pornographic, the film is "not an attempt to portray 'what really happened,'" and the anti-Semitism charges are overstated:
For those who do not share Gibson's particular tradition, this well-acted film still has much to offer, and I am very glad that I saw it. The crucifixion did not move me as much as Peter's denial, the scourging, and a scene when Jesus stumbles and Mary in a flashback remembers running to rescue him when he was a child. Satan is present as tempter in Gethsemane at the start, and his repeated appearances effectively emphasize the constant temptation Christ endured of seeking a way of escape.

No one can see this film without being reminded that our redemption was costly and painful. If I were an incumbent, I'm not sure I would take my congregation to view The Passion, but it deserves to be seen. I would certainly plan an adult education programme to help people reflect on what it does and does not tell us about the death of Jesus. His crucifixion is a fact of history; rather than playing a game of distraction with side issues about the film, Christians have been given a brilliant opportunity to discuss the meaning of that fact.
The editor also has a software review of Accordance 6, which he obviously likes:
What makes it so good? Simplicity of use, intuitive controls and layout, powerful and sophisticated search criteria, speed, quality and range of available modules (far too many to begin to list here), easy import and export of data in a variety of formats, excellent online help, and a responsive development team immediately come to mind . . . .

. . . . . Full details can be found at the Accordance website ( The good news for PC owners is that a free Mac emulator is available to enable them to join the Accordance party ( But there's a better way: simply get a Mac and say goodbye to computer worms and viruses!
And say goodbye to a few other things too, like right-clicking your mouse! I am one of those who is always a little taken aback by the sheer passion some have for Accordance and the Mac. I can't say that I am convinced that Accordance is so obviously superior to the Gramcord PC alternative. When we bought Gramcord for Windows for use here in Birmingham, I wondered whether it would be preferable instead to purchase Accordance and get an emulator to run it, but it was not clear to me that this represented any substantial advantage over Gramcord for Windows. I feel a bit like an unbeliever looking in when I hear the Mac devotees celebrating the wonder of Accordance. It is probably something we PC users simply will never understand unless we convert. And let's face it, that's not going to happen.

BSB 31 also has a useful computer corner, in which Mike Thompson is kind enough to mention this blog. He also draws attention to Paleojudaica and Hypotyposeis. There are a couple of other links that look very useful but require some more exploration:

Dr Constable's Bible Study Notes and Commentary


Bible Research
By Michael Marlowe

I know that I have visited this latter site before, but I fear that I've never listed it or blogged about it and it clearly is a particularly useful site. Constable's site is essentially hundreds of pages of commentary on the Bible in PDF files from a conservative perspective.

Update (23.56): in Bible Software Review Weblog, Rubén Gómez makes some sensible and balanced remarks about Accordance and Macs. I bow to Rubén's superior knowledge here; I just get a bit taken aback by the passion that the Accordance supporters like the review references above exhibit, especially when the old chesnut of "Get a Mac and you can run Accordance and do without viruses" comes out.

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