genre variation between gen 1–11 and 12–50

It is reasonably clear that the story of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob found in Genesis 12–50 is presented as a historical narrative (regardless of what one thinks about the actual historicity of the story). But what are we to make of Genesis 1–11? Would the original audience have understood these chapters in the same manner as the later chapters, or would they have differentiated them?

The question is relevant because if it is read as the same type of literature, then the events of the creation, fall, flood, and tower of Babel would have been understood as historical narrative in the same way as the remainder of the book of Genesis. However, if the original audience recognised that Genesis 1–11 represented a different literary genre from the following chapters, then there are grounds for reading these earlier chapters in another way. They may, for example, function as some sort of pre-history which should not be treated as precisely historical as the latter accounts.
Continue reading

Was Elihu Right?

JESOT 3.2 is now live and includes my article entitled “Was Elihu Right?” In it I discuss the contribution of Elihu in the Book of Job, so check it out:

http://jesot.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/M.-Shields-JESOT-3.2.pdf

The “prequel” to this article (entitled “Malevolent of Mysterious”) is also available for download from Tyndale Bulletin:

http://www.tyndalehouse.com/Bulletin/61=2010/5%20Shields.pdf

genesis 1 is not poetry

What can I say? Genesis 1 is not poetry, nor is it some weird hybrid of poetry and prose. Genesis 1:27 alone is poetry, but the rest of the chapter is pretty much stock-standard biblical Hebrew narrative in regards to its syntax. It is not poetry!

Why is this an issue? It’s an issue because debates about Genesis 1 seem to align figurative reading (of some sort) with poetry and literal reading with prose. This is a manifestly false disjunction. It is perfectly possible to have “literal” poetry, and it is quite common to have figurative prose. In other words, the whole argument is daft!
Continue reading

apple pages 5.0 finally supports hebrew

In the last week, Apple has released a flurry of software updates, including updates to its iWork productivity software. While there are some who are unhappy with the changes, the good news is that Pages — Apple’s versatile word-processing application — now supports right-to-left and mixed direction text entry.

Previous versions of Pages would allow entry of Hebrew, but the cursor would remain at either end of the Hebrew text. Attempting to click into the middle of a Hebrew word would leave the cursor at the end of the word giving the user no idea that they were able to edit the word or what would happen when the next key was pressed. Now this has been fixed, and Pages (and presumable Numbers and Keynote) correctly inserts and edits Hebrew text.

The difference/improvement is easily illustrated in the following screenshots. First, Pages 4.3 (the previous version):

Pages43_hebrew

Here you can see the cursor to the left of the Hebrew text even though I had clicked into the middle of the Hebrew. Furthermore, Pages was clearly incapable of coping with the niqqud (the vowel points) which are pretty messed up.

Compare this with Pages 5.0:

Pages5_hebrew

The cursor is now correctly positioned in the middle of the Hebrew text, the niqqud are well placed.

For any existing Pages users, or for people purchasing a new Mac, the update is free.

In short, Pages has gone from useless for Hebrew to entirely usable. At last.

finding too much sex in genesis 2

I was simply going to title this “Common Misunderstandings of Genesis 2,” but then I thought the title could be spiced up a little bit, particularly because there’s a tendency to see sexual activity lying behind so much of what happens, particularly in the latter part of the chapter. Anyway, here are some of the common misunderstandings of Genesis 2:
Continue reading

running shoe review

I’ve been through a number of different brands of running shoe over the years, so I thought I’d share my experience and assess their worth.

Guy Leech Running Shoes: ★☆☆☆☆
I ran in these shoes for a couple of years. They’re cheap (around $30.00 at the time I got them). They did cause me some problems and eventually I decided to spend a little more money on shoes and have never looked back. They get one star for value.
Brooks Glycerin 8: ★★★★☆
Coming from the previous shoes, these were absolutely fantastic. No more sore legs, my average speed increased by around 1km/h, I felt as though I was running on springs! Two pairs of these probably covered about 2,000km (which, I admit, was probably a little too long to keep them going). The main problems were (1) the local Australian price was about twice the price when purchased from overseas even after including shipping, and (2) they became increasingly difficult to obtain from overseas retailers who would no longer ship Brooks shoes to Aus, thus forcing me to move on to other shoes.
Saucony Triumph 9: ★★☆☆☆
From Brooks I moved to Saucony. Initially they were great—bouncy, light, comfortable. However, it didn’t take too long to uncover the shoe’s fatal flaw: they had insufficient padding around the top-rear end meaning they scraped the skin off the back side of my ankles above the heel. For a while I worked around this by putting pieces of sponge inside my socks to protect me, but this problem really made the shoes quite useless to me.
Adidas Adistar Boost: ★★★☆☆
These looked promising and were certainly more comfortable than the Saucony. They were, however, insufficiently cushioned for me and left me with sore leg muscles after every run, and rather more tired than I ought to have been. They’ve now entered retirement as a nice pair of walking shoes. One thing to note, Adidas seem to use a different sizing scale to everyone else, so if you’re ordering without trying them on, choose a slightly larger size than you normally would.
Mizuno Wave Rider 15: ★★★★☆
After the disappointing Saucony and Adidas shoes, I was relieved to find the Mizunos to be well cushioned, comfortable, and easy to run in at a very reasonable price. If you run on gravel, be aware that there’s a hollow in the sole under the heel which has, for me, occasionally trapped a stone which consequently interrupts my run!
Adidas Energy Boost: ★★★★★
There’s been lots of hype about these shoes and, so far (I’ve run just over 100km in them thus far), I think it’s largely borne out by my experience with them. They’re light, very bouncy, and fit well (subject to the following observation). As with the Adistar above, they’re sizes seem slightly off compared to other brands, so I’d advise going for a slightly larger size in Adidas than I would in another brand. The other thing to watch is that these look quite similar to the Adistar Boost shoes, but they run very differently, so make sure you get the right one. The Adistar has solid rubber from the inside of the heel down to the ground which accounts (in part) for the comparatively low level of cushioning. The sole is flat so there’s no space for stones or other items to get jammed while you’re running.
Hoka One One Clifton 2: ★★★★★
Yes, a strange name and a bit of a mouthful. These are pretty new to the market and their distinctive feature seems to be that they have exceptionally high levels of cushioning. They’re also considerably lighter than the Adidas Energy Boost. I’ve found them to be very comfortable. You ride high in these due to the comparatively thick sole, but they are quite stable. I’ve been alternating between these and the Adidas Energy Boost. I prefer the Cliftons on short runs or long walks because of the comfort, but I think they dissipate more energy than the Adidas Energy Boost, so I prefer the Adidas for longer distance runs.

windows type: the failure of cleartype

I’ve been playing around with the Windows beta release of Accordance recently. The one thing that struck me almost instantly was just how poor the Hebrew looked in Windows compared to the Mac. I tried reconfiguring ClearType to improve the appearance, but to no avail. Displaying Hebrew at anything smaller than 27 point looked a mess.

Fortunately, I discovered a solution: MacType. This replaces ClearType with font rendering similar to that found on the Mac and a number of Linux distros. Here is the result:

MacType vs. ClearType

MacType vs. ClearType

(Click the image to see the full size version.) The left half is ClearType, the right half is MacType, both are 24 point. Judge for yourself the results. The results are even more dramatic at 18 point.

There are a few typefaces which seem to work well with ClearType, but in my opinion most look better with MacType.

the origins of the use of κυριος for יהוה

All extant manuscripts of the NT consistently use the Greek word κυριος (kyrios, ‘lord’) when translating the name of God in the OT, יהוה (Yhwh). The background to this is not entirely clear nor uncontested, but it is worth noting a few points about what is and isn’t known, and what is and isn’t likely.
Continue reading

should ‘christ’ be removed from english bibles?

Yes, in the tradition of tabloid journalism my heading for this post sounds controversial, but hear me out. We’re all used to seeing the word ‘Christ’ in English Bible translations. The only exceptions are the few which use the term ‘Messiah’ in its place (such as the HCSB).

‘Christ’ is, of course, a transliteration of the Greek work Χριστός while ‘Messiah’ transliterates the Hebrew משיח (māšîaḥ). The question is, however, why are these transliterated and not translated in English versions of the Bible?

The failure to translate these terms is odd for a number of reasons:

  1. The NT translates the Hebrew with the Greek term and doesn’t attempt to transliterate it (e.g. Acts 4:26 quoting Ps 2:1–2).
  2. The LXX also translates the Hebrew with the Greek equivalent.
  3. English translations do translate these terms when they’re not used of Jesus (e.g. Ps 2:2).

The practice appears to begin in the Vulgate which uses Christus to transliterate Χριστός. Nonetheless, the term is not a name and it is used in the NT because of the word’s meaning. The way in which modern translations choose to transliterate this gives readers the impression the ‘Christ’ is Jesus’ last name. Even aside from this, there’s a lot of baggage associated with readers’ understanding of the terms ‘Christ’ and ‘Messiah’ that could do with revision (to be sure, there was a lot of baggage associated with these terms in the first century as well, but the baggage probably differs and could do with some revision).

Translating these terms rather than transliterating them means readers would be forced to come to grips with the actual significance of the title, and that could well be a good thing!

Thus we would translate Mark 1:1:

Ἀρχὴ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ υἱοῦ θεοῦ

as something like:

The beginning of the good news of Anointed Jesus, son of God…

Of course this would raise the question of precisely how to best translate the term Χριστός. Yet it would provide a refreshing translation that makes the reader think again about the words they’re reading, and that can only be a good thing!