Biblical Studies Carnival 178 (December 2020)

Happy New Year! There were many people who could not wait to put 2020 behind them, and with the turning of the calendar page, 2021 is officially here! Time will tell what 2021 will bring. But in the meantime, here is the first Biblical Studies Carnival of 2021—number 178!

For those of you who might not be familiar, a Biblical Studies Carnival is a showcase of blog posts from the previous month in the area of biblical studies. It is organized by Phil Long (from Reading Acts), and last month’s carnival (#177) was hosted by Bobby Howell. I hosted #170 for the month of April in 2020, and to start 2021 I have the privilege of hosting and highlighting posts from December.

2020 Lists

Of course lists are a popular item at the end of the year. Here are some that I ran across over December.

Collin Hansen wrote, “My Top 10 Theology Stories of 2020.” 2020 was such a strange year, and my list would be quite different than Hansen’s, but I’m sure almost everyone has unique lists for 2020.

Joe Carter posted, “15 Good News Trends from 2020.” #3 was one of the most interesting to me. “After 39 years of work, a translation of the Bible in American Sign Language has been completed.”

Christianity Today released “2020’s Most-Read Bible Verse: ‘Do Not Fear’.” According to the article, John 3:16 and Jeremiah 29:11 took the top two spots for searches on Bible Gateway, but 2 Chronicles 7:14 jumped up to #3 on the list.

Todd Pruitt released his list of Top Books of 2020. Challies also released his list of Top 10 Books of 2020. I especially agree with #2 on Challies list. That was a very impactful book for me.

Christianity Today also released their list of, “Christianity Today’s 2021 Book Awards,” and their list of, “Biblical Archaeology’s Top 10 Discoveries of 2020.

Similarly, Haaretz listed their, “Top Biblical Archaeological Stories of 2020.

Todd Bolen has his list of “Top 10 Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology” for 2020. As a bonus he includes notable events, resources, and stories from 2020.

Denny Burk released his annual Top 10 Youtubes, this edition for the year of 2020.

In a fun fashion, Brent Niedergall gave a list of his, “Bottom of the Barrel” posts which received the least amount of traffic throughout the year. I can appreciate this kind of list!

I also posted my blog’s Top 10 Blog Articles for 2020. It is interesting to see what ends up being the most read on the site.


Unsurprisingly, posts on Christmas abounded in the month of December. Although I couldn’t include them all, here are some of the interesting ones.

Jesse Johnson discussed the Christmas connection between Matthew 2:15 and Hosea 11:1 in the post, “Jesus is the Messiah because of… Egypt?.” He also wrote a Christmas post on, “How Rachel’s trail of tears leads to Jesus.”

Because we often get our Christmas story facts from Hollywood and not the Bible, Mike Kruger addresses five common misconceptions about the Christmas story.

Wayne Stiles posted, “Cairo – Jesus’ Flight to Egypt & God’s Unusual Leading” and he provides some excellent photographs along with his discussion.

Bob MacDonald posted a “Psalm for Christmas Day.” He discusses Psalm 96.

Fred Sanders posted a special “Christmas Trinity” article.

Kevin DeYoung posted a question, “Is Christmas a Pagan Rip-off?” DeYoung also posted, “Why Does it Matter that Jesus Was Born of a Virgin?

Although technically it was posted the day before December, the Biblical Arhaeology Society blog had an interesting discussion about the date of Herod’s death.

Old Testament

Claude Mariottini has produced a compilation post which lists all of his posts on Isaiah. He has done a lot of work on Isaiah, and there are many things to be gleaned from the articles. Because I’m such a big fan of studying Esther, I was also pleased to see that Claude posting a series on Esther, the most recent of which is entitled “Esther: For Such a Time as This – ‘God’s Justice’.

Anthony Ferguson posted “4QPsx: A Poorly Copied Manuscript.” Those who are interested in textual criticism, or the Dead Sea Scrolls will find this post interesting.

Kevin Burrell had an interesting article entitled, “The Cushites: Race and Representation in the Hebrew Bible.”

Peter Leithart had a very intriguing post entitled, “Why Kings Sing: A Biblical Theology of Monarchs and Music.”

Bob MacDonald has been posting a lot on the Psalms lately. Recently he posted on “The Today of Psalm 2.”

Charlie Trimm had an interesting discussion on the placement of Ruth in the Canon and whether or not it matters.

New Testament

Brandon Smith asked, “Who are the 7 Spirits of Revelation?”

Mike Kruger helpfully addressed the question, “Were Early Christian Scribes Untrained Amateurs?”

In the world of NT textual criticism, Tommy Wasserman posted about “The CBGM of Acts for Download.” There are links in the post for where to download it and how it works.

V. M. Traverso wrote an interesting article on the four oldest New Testament manuscripts.

Brent Nongbri posted an interesting article, “Back When Single-quire Codices were Strange.”

John Piper addressed the significant question, “Do We have the Exact Words of Christ, or a Paraphrase?


Leen Ritmeyer had some interesting archaeological posts this month. Here is the list:

Although not a blog per se, The Times of Israel reported this month that, “A Second Temple-era ritual bath that was recently uncovered on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives at the site believed to be the New Testament’s Gethsemane is being touted as the first evidence that links the pilgrimage site to the period in which Jesus lived.” The Times of Israel also reported on a clay seal which belonged to Jeroboam II.

The Gath archaeology blog posted a video lecture on Philistine Gath by Aren Maeir.

Biblical Archaeological Society posted an interesting article, “Pompeii Fast Food Restaurant Uncovered.” I guess they had some ancient comforts!

As always, I am indebted to Todd Bolen who posts archaeological Weekend Roundups on the BiblePlaces Blog. He regularly keeps me up to date on the archaeological happenings.


Jason Duesing traced the historical life connection between Oxford and Tolkein with the post, “In a Home in Oxford There Lived a Hobbit.”

Megan Taylor had an interesting post, “Jonathan Edwards & Smallpox: Lessons from Edwards’s Fatal Experiment.”

The month of December also saw the release of the newest edition of Themelios. You can download it for free as a PDF or add it to your Logos library.

With the turn of the calendar to 2021, there are many Bible reading programs. Here is the list of Bible reading plans from Ligonier.

In his preaching blog, Peter Mead posted “Asking Better Questions.” A short thought guide on questions while reading and teaching biblical texts.

Brad Klassen had an interesting post on the relationship of identity politics and hermeneutics.

Lisa LaGeorge wrote a timely reminder that 2020 has been planned by God.

Book Reviews

Although not exactly a book review per se, Jacob Prahlow gives a list of, “300 Books for the Educated Christian Mind.” These are not all Christian books, nor are they all academic works, but it is a helpful list for Christian readers.

Phil Long reviewed quite a few books in December. Here were some of the highlights:

Brent Niedergall wrote a review of the new Reformed Dogmatics: A Christian Theology (Single Volume Ed.) from Lexham Press.

Matthew Bennet reviews A Concise Guide to the Qur’an, by Ayman Ibrahim. It is a very thorough review, giving many of the highlights from the content of the book.

Denny Bruk reviewed Wayne Grudem’s 2nd edition of his Systematic Theology.

Peter LeDuc reviews Press On! by Dave Guiles, a new devotional guide for cross-cultural workers.

Closing Notes

I hope I have been able to collate some articles by bloggers who have not been featured before. Surprisingly, some of the regular blogs I read were quiet for most of December. I am sure some of the authors are taking some well deserved rest.

I am also sure I have missed interesting articles from the month of December. Please feel free to post them in the comments so others can benefit.

As a reminder, next month’s carnival will be hosted by Jim West. Be sure to look for that on the first day of February.

Peter serves at Shepherd's Theological Seminary in Cary, NC as the professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages. He loves studying the Bible and helping others understand it. He also runs The Bible Sojourner podcast and Youtube channel.


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