August Online Paper from Melbourne
July Zoom Meeting for Sydney Members
June Melbourne Talk
March Meeting for Sydney Members
March Melbourne Symposium
Australian Postage Rate Increase for ABR
FBS Member Achievements in 2019
2019 Annual General Meeting
Australian Biblical Review now in the ATLA database
Book Launch by Gili Kugler
2019 Australian Biblical Review Mailed Out
International Postage Rate Increase for ABR
Report on the November Meeting for Sydney Members
Report on the August Meeting for Sydney Members
Current issue of
Australian Biblical Review
News and Coming Events

August Online Paper from Melbourne

The August Melbourne symposium has been cancelled. Instead, as in June, the talk will be delivered online via Zoom on Thursday, 27 August from 7.30–8.45pm. Angela Sawyer will present a paper titled, “Deutero-Isaiah’s Daughter Zion as Survival Literature: Terror Management or Postcolonial Trauma?” There will be time for questions and discussions, but overall the session will be slightly shorter than usual due to Zoom fatigue.

Please RSVP to Megan Turton (FBS Secretary) if you would like to ‘attend.’ Those who have registered their attendance will receive a Zoom link and further information a few days prior to the seminar.

If you are not already a Zoom user, you can download the free software here. You do not need to sign in or have an account in order to attend the seminar, but you will need to have downloaded it.

Future dinner dates and speakers are:

5 November Robyn Whitaker (including AGM)

July Zoom Meeting for Sydney Members

The third Sydney meeting of 2020 will be held on Friday, July 31, at 2.00pm (the paper will last 30 minutes and discussion will follow until 3.00pm). The speaker will be Prof. Dalit Rom-Shiloni from Tel Aviv University. Members who respond to the invitation they have received from Dr Gili Kugler by 27 July will receive an invitation to join a Zoom meeting.
Bio: Dalit Rom-Shiloni is an Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible at the Department of Biblical Studies of Tel Aviv University, Israel. Born and raised in Haifa, she earned her academic degrees in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Rom-Shiloni writes extensively on the formation of sixth century BCE literature, mostly prophecy and poetry; descriptive Hebrew Bible theology(/theologies); group-identity conflicts; inner-biblical allusions and interpretation in the prophetic literature; and nature and landscape imagery. Rom-Shiloni serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Hebrew Journal Beit Mikra: Journal for the Study of the Bible and Its World; and is the initiator and Editor-in-Chief of the DNI Bible project (The Dictionary of Nature Imagery of the Bible, Rom-Shiloni is the author of God in Times of Destruction and Exiles: Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) Theology (Jerusalem: The Hebrew University Magnes Press, 2009, in Hebrew); Exclusive Inclusivity: Identity Conflicts between the Exiles and the People Who Remained (6th–5th Centuries BCE) (LHB/OTS 543; T&T Clark, 2013); a short commentary on Jeremiah, in Jewish Study Bible, second edition (OUP, 2014). In addition to about 30 articles, she has co-edited five books (and three more are in preparation). Forthcoming is her book Voices from the Ruins: Theodicy and the Fall of Jerusalem in the Hebrew Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, Spring 2021).

On a personal note, Rom-Shiloni lives in the Old City of Jerusalem, married to Amnon Shiloni, a former journalist in the Voice of Israel, radio station; a mother of three, and a grandmother of five.
Abstract: “Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Their Books: Why Are They Treated So Differently in Hebrew Bible Scholarship? - Thoughts and Suggestions.” By the late 7th / early 6th centuries BCE, Jeremiah in Jerusalem and Ezekiel in Babylonia were two prophets of many others within their assumed era of activity. The two figures, priests by kinship, were accepted as prophets of God by their contemporaries and by generations to come. This presentation traces major points in a long history of scholarship concerning the distinct evaluations each of the prophets and respectively their books have gained. I will call attention to the long-standing scholarly pre-suppositions that are still governing (or, at times, are only at the back of) our “scholarly minds.” What are they based on? And more importantly, should we carry those distinctions on? Could there be alternative perspectives to explain transformations in prophetic activity and writing by the early 6th century BCE, such that both Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and their books, share?
The presentation will be based on three recent papers:

Dalit Rom-Shiloni, “The Forest and the Trees: The Place of Pentateuchal Materials in Prophecy as of the Late Seventh / Early Sixth Centuries BCE,” in Congress Volume Stellenbosch 2016 (Ed. L.C. Jonker, G. R. Kotze and C. M. Maier; Vetus Testamentum Supplement 177; Leiden: Brill, 2017), 56–92.
_____., “Prophets in Jeremiah in Struggle over Leadership, Or Rather over Prophetic Authority?” Biblica 99,3 (2018) 351–72.
_____., “From Prophetic Words to Prophetic Literature: Challenging Paradigms that Control Our Academic Thought,” JBL 138,3 (2019) 565–86.

June Melbourne Paper Delivered Online

The June Melbourne dinner was cancelled. Instead, the talk was delivered online via Zoom on Thursday, 11 June, Dr Fergus King presented a paper titled, “Hit or Myth?: Methodological Considerations in Comparing Dionysus with the Johannine Jesus.”

Future dinner dates and speakers are:
27 AugustAngela Sawyer
5 NovemberRobyn Whitaker (including AGM)

March Meeting for Sydney Members

The first Sydney branch meeting of 2020 was to have been held on Friday, 27 March at Moore Theological College, but became an online Zoom presentation of a talk given by Steve Cook (bio below), speaking on “Jonah, parody and satire: the Bible in conversation with itself ” (abstract below). The talk is now on YouTube and can be found here.
Bio: Dr Stephen Cook was recently awarded his PhD by the University of Sydney for a thesis entitled “Who knows?” Reading the Book of Jonah as a Satirical Challenge to Theodicy of the Exile. He is currently a sessional academic at the University of Sydney in the Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies. His research interests include the uses of irony, parody and satire in the Hebrew Bible.
Abstract: Several scholars have noted the presence of ironic, parodic and satiric features in the book of Jonah together with hints of comedy and humour. In fact, the trend in scholarship is increasingly towards reading the book as being entirely satirical or parodic in nature. One of the distinguishing features of satire and parody is the existence of a target to whom it is directed. While scholars have identified some possible targets in Jonah (e.g., the prophet himself, the guild of prophets, the notion of exclusivism of Ezra-Nehemiah), there is a lack of consensus in determining the primary target of the book. Stephen Cook’s recent PhD thesis has suggested a methodology for identifying the purpose and target of the satire in Jonah, with reference to other biblical texts with similar characteristics. One of the conclusions of the thesis is that recognising these literary devices within texts enables the reader to identify opposing voices and to locate the text within a dialogue. By applying this methodology to other biblical texts, we may gain fresh insights into the conversations which lay behind them, locate the texts within their rhetorical and historical contexts, and recognise their contribution to the development of ideas. This presentation will look at how to recognise satire and identify its target with examples from Jonah and other texts of the Hebrew Bible.
The dates for the next three symposiums are:

Friday, 22 May, 1.00 to 3.00pm: Dr Lionel Windsor (Moore College)
Friday, 31 July, 1.00 to 3.00pm: Prof. Dalit Rom-Shiloni (Tel Aviv University)
Friday, 30 October, 1.00 to 3.00pm: TBC.

Note that the hosting of the events will be shared between Moore College and Sydney University (Fisher Library). You will be informed in advance where each meeting is being held.

March Melbourne Symposium

The first Melbourne gathering of the Fellowship for Biblical Studies for this year was held on Thursday, 12 March, at the Centre for Theology and Ministry (CTM), Parkville. The guest speaker was Dr Gili Kugler, who presented a paper entitled “Portraying the Ultimate—Amalek.”
Abstract: Amalek is traditionally perceived as Israel’s archrival enemy. Divine law in the Pentateuch commands to annihilate the Amalekites forever, and war narratives in biblical historiography recount the attempts to realise it. To this day, the name Amalek is often heard in religious discourse, used as a code name for entities of ultimate evil that should be wiped from the face of the earth. What is the basis for this uncompromising idea about Amalek? What does the pursuit of it reveal about the national ethos as well as realpolitik of the ancient peoples, the Israelites and Amalekites? With no evidence for the existence of Amalek in the antiquity period outside the Hebrew Bible, we are left with the biblical references to track the background, circumstances and drives that formed the merciless tradition about Amalek.

Bio: Dr Gili Kugler is a Biblical Studies lecturer at Sydney University. Her research traces the development of traditions and beliefs in the Hebrew Bible. Her first book, When God Wanted to Destroy the Chosen People: Biblical Traditions and Theology on the Move, was published in 2019. She is the Sydney Coordinator for the Fellowship.
Future dinner dates and speakers are:
11 JuneFergus King
27 AugustAngela Sawyer
5 NovemberRobyn Whitaker (including AGM)

Australian Postage Rate Increase for Australian Biblical Review

Australia Post has announced that, from 2 January 2020, postage rates for delivery within Australia will increase. The rates for Australian Biblical Review will now be $3.30 (previously $3.00). All international rates are unchanged. Rates can always be found on the ABR Page.

FBS Member Achievements in 2019

The list of achievements by FBS members during 2019 is now online at the Achievements Page.

2019 Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of the Fellowship for Biblical Studies was held on Thursday, 7 November, at the Centre for Theology and Ministry, Parkville. The Presidential Address was given by Assoc. Prof. Keith Dyer, titled: “Paul, Matthew, Israel and the Nations.”
Abstract: There are severe tensions between Paul's letters and Matthew’s Gospel regarding the Jewish Law in particular, as our colleague David Sim has argued forcefully in many publications. I will continue this discussion about the evidence and reasons for the differences between these early Jewish followers of Jesus, and explore the political factors that may have shaped these differences.

Bio: Keith is an Associate Professor with the University of Divinity and has been teaching New Testament at Whitley College for over 25 years. His particular interests have been the Gospel of Mark and the Book of Revelation, but he has more recently been involved in the “Ecological Aspects of War” research group with Anne Elvey and Deborah Guess, the “Perspectives on Linguistics and Ancient Languages” series with Terry Falla and Beryl Turner, and the Colloquium on Material Culture and Religion with Christine Thomas, Dan Schowalter, and Steven Friesen.
The following officers and members of the Executive were elected to hold these positions for the next year:
President:Robyn Whitaker
Vice-President:Dorothy Lee
Secretary:Megan Turton
Treasurer:Brian Incigneri
ABR Editor (Old Testament):Anne Gardner
ABR Editor (New Testament):Alan Cadwallader
ABR Book Review Editor:Gareth Wearne
Committee Member:Chris Monaghan
Committeee Member:Gili Kugler

Dinners during 2020 will be held on 12 March (speaker: Gili Kugler), 11 June (speaker: Fergus King), 27 August (Angela Sawyer) and 5 November (AGM with speaker Robyn Whitaker).

A list of member’s achievements in 2019 was presented to the meeting. See the Achievements Page.

Australian Biblical Review now in the ATLA database

All of the articles and book reviews of Australian Biblical Review since its first issue in 1951 are now available online in the ATLA (American Theological Library Association) database. Access can be obtained through libraries.

Book Launch by Gili Kugler

Dr Gili Kugler launched her book, When God Wanted to Destroy the Chosen People: Biblical Traditions and Theology on the Move, at the University of Sydney on Tuesday, 5 November.
Abstract: When God Wanted to Destroy the Chosen People examines the image of God as a source of threat to the existence of his people, Israel. It focuses on the evolution of the biblical narratives and ideas about Israel’s non-negotiable status as a “chosen people,” in contrast to God’s revocable commitment to them. The narratives of God’s threats to annihilate Israel enable a striking exposure of the complexity of biblical theology and the intricacy of the text’s methods and techniques, revealing the variety of voices that shaped the ancient texts.
Bio: Dr Gili Kugler is a lecturer of Biblical Studies at the Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies at the University of Sydney. Her research area lies within the framework of literary-historical analysis, a method examining the evolution of narratives and ideas inserted into the text throughout time. Her research explores and exposes the layers beneath the final form of the biblical narratives, and behind the meanings and ideas loaded into the text throughout years of interpretation.
2019 Australian Biblical Review Mailed Out

The 2019 issue of Australian Biblical Review was mailed out on Monday, 23 September. The Index of Articles, the Index of Authors and the full text of all the book reviews are now available online.

International Postage Rate Increase for Australian Biblical Review

Australia Post has announced that, from 30 September, international postage rates will increase. The rates for Australian Biblical Review will be:

New Zealand$8.10 (previously $7.50)
Asia/Pacific$8.80 (previously $8.00)
Rest of World$13.50 (previously $12.00)

November Meeting for Sydney Members

The final Sydney branch meeting of 2019 was held on Friday, 1 November in the Fisher library, Sydney University. The presentation was given by Dr John Davies (bio below), who talked on “What Did Luke Think He Was Writing?” (abstract below).
Bio: John Davies is Principal emeritus of Christ College (the Presbyterian Theological Centre) in Sydney where he taught Greek, Hebrew and Hebrew Bible. He is currently an honorary research associate of the Sydney College of Divinity. John studied Classics and Hebrew (BA Hons., MA Hons.) at the University of Sydney, followed by theological study (MDiv.) at Westminster Seminary (Philadelphia), then PhD in Semitic Studies at the University of Sydney. He is the author of a number of books and articles on biblical studies and language including Lift up Your Heads: Nonverbal Communication and Related Body Imagery in the Bible; Unless Someone Shows Me: English Grammar for Students of Biblical Languages.
Abstract: What Did Luke Think He Was Writing? Luke’s designation of his project as a λόγος (Acts 1:1) has not been fully explored as to its implications for how we read the Gospel of Luke and Acts. Luke’s use of λόγος throughout his two-volume work to denote the divine proclamation should inform our reading of Acts 1:1. Luke writes in the tradition of biblical prophetic literature with a proclamation about the culmination of God’s purposes in the Jesus story. The parable of the soils (Luke 8) is played out in the narrative of Luke–Acts and the prophetic message, the λόγος, calls on its hearers to repent and live in accordance with God’s purposes.

Report on August Meeting for Sydney Members

Tour of the University Library by FBS membersThe August meeting for Sydney members was held on Friday, 16 August at the University of Sydney. The presentation was preceded by a short tour provided by the library staff at the library’s rare books collection.

The presentation was given by Dr David Frankel (see bio below) from the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, talking on “The Binding of Isaac and Child Sacrifice in Ancient Israel” (abstract below). A video of the talk can be found on YouTube. Members can also see info about the event and photos on the Facebook page of the Department of Hebrew Biblical and Jewish Studies at Sydney University
Bio: Dr. David Frankel is Senior Lecturer of Bible at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. He wrote his doctorate at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem under the guidance of Prof Moshe Weinfeld. His publications include The Murmuring Stories of the Priestly School (Brill), The Land of Canaan and the Destiny of Israel (Eisenbrauns) and many scholarly articles.
Abstract: It is commonly assumed that child sacrifice was universally condemned as an “abomination” in ancient Israel. Following this assumption, the story of the near sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22 is often interpreted as a polemic against this “pagan” practice. The presentation will challenge these assumptions by restoring earlier versions of the story of the binding of Isaac and examining other biblical and external evidence related to the story.
Thirty people attended the talk and 14 went on the tour.

August Melbourne symposium

The August Melbourne symposium was held on Thursday, 29 August, at the Old Warden’s Lodge, Trinity College, Parkville. The guest speaker was Dr Rachelle Gilmour, who presented a paper titled: “‘I will raise up evil against you’: Retribution, forgiveness, and collective punishment in 2 Samuel 12.”
Abstract: In 2 Samuel 12, David is condemned by the prophet Nathan for despising God. There have been various attempts to explain why David is forgiven and yet his son dies, including the influential proposal by Gerlemann that David’s son dies as atonement for David’s sin. Through identifying a pattern of forgiveness followed by punishment throughout the book of Samuel, and examining the nature of collective punishment in the Hebrew Bible, I will investigate the unexpected nature of forgiveness in 2 Samuel 12.

Bio: Dr Rachelle Gilmour is Bromby Senior Lecturer in Old Testament at Trinity College Theological School, University of Divinity. Previously, she was the driving force behind the Sydney chapter of FBS.

June Melbourne Symposium

The second Melbourne gathering of the Fellowship for Biblical Studies for this year was held on Thursday, 13 June, at the Centre for Theology and Ministry (CTM), Parkville. The guest speaker was Associate Professor Robert Derrenbacker, who presented a paper titled: “Ancient Literary Culture and Dating the Synoptics and their Sources: What’s at Stake When We Date.”
It was followed by keen questioning from the those attending. Attendance was notably higher for this dinner and included quite a few guests.
Abstract: Most would agree that assigning dates to the production of the Synoptic Gospels (and their sources) is highly speculative and tentative; coming to some informed conclusions about the literary relationships between the Synoptics (the so-called ‘Synoptic Problem’) is (perhaps) less so. This paper will explore the often unforeseen and unexplored implications of assigning dates to the Gospels (and their sources) on they Synoptic Problem, with particular attention paid to ancient compositional conventions, literary production and literature circulation.

Bio: Bob Derrenbacker is Dean of Trinity College Theological School, and Frank Woods Associate Professor in New Testament.
Future dinner dates and speakers are:

29 August: Rachelle Gilmour (NOTE: at Trinity College)
7 November: Presidential Address by Keith Dyer (including AGM)

June Meeting for Sydney Members

The next Sydney meeting was held on Friday, June 14, at Moore Theological College. The speaker was Dr Louise Pryke. Her talk was entitled “Not the Biblical Noah: Communication and Character in Flood Narratives” (see abstract below).
Bio: Dr Louise Pryke is a lecturer in Macquarie University’s Ancient History Department. She is an Honorary Associate of the Department of Hebrew Biblical and Jewish Studies and the Classics and Ancient History Department at the University of Sydney. In 2016, Louise was a recipient of the International Association for Assyriology (IAA) Fund—an international award for early career scholars in Assyriology. Dr Pryke’s research interests include myths and narrative literature in the Ancient Near East. Louise is the author of Scorpion (2016) and Ishtar (2017). Her most recent book, Gilgamesh, was published in April 2019. Gilgamesh explores the world’s first hero of epic literature. She is currently writing a volume on the cultural symbolism of turtles.
Abstract: This paper explores the significance of communication within the biblical and ANE accounts of the Flood. In popular culture, Utanapishtim is often described as the equivalent of biblical Noah. Yet, the two characters, and their relationships with the divine, are distinctive. The uniqueness of the two Flood survivors is perhaps most easily recognised through the differences in their communications in the texts. This paper considers the literary characterisation of the two Flood survivors, with an exploration of the role of speech and communication in the narratives.
Gili Kugler reports that her presentation was excellent and engaging, and that it has been filmed and will appear later in the year on the HBJS Facebook page and on YouTube.

Sydney Coordinator

The Sydney/NSW Branch of FBS has a new Coordinator—Dr Gili Kugler. The previous Coordinator, Rachelle Gilmour, has done a fine job as Coordinator since the branch was created and her many efforts have been well appreciated by members, especially her organisation of the 2018 FBS Conference in Sydney. Gili is a Lecturer in Classical Hebrew and Biblical Studies at the University of Sydney. She can be contacted at

FBS News

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