23 Biblical Studies Twitter Accounts NOT To Follow

grumpy-cat-meme-twitterI got this idea from John Scalzi, a SF writer who has been writing a blog since before there was such a thing. I read his collection of essays/blogs on a plane this summer (The Mallet of Loving Correction) in which he had a list of “25 Geeks NOT to Follow on Twitter” (@BathingInMayo, for example).

Scalzi’s idea was really a modern version “The Mad Library of Extremely Thin Books” from Mad Magazine. These were books which would be more or less blank inside, something like “Defusing Racial Tension by Donald Trump” or “Essentials of Calvinism by Joel Osteen.”

These are all fake twitter accounts (I hope) in the same tradition as Mad or Scalzi. I worked on this list over the last few months, but finished most of it up at AAR/SBL and thought it would make a reasonable “end of the year” list for Jim West to mock.

First, a comment on who you should follow on twitter. I would start with @BibleStudentSays, a few dead theologians, your favorite publishers and bloggers, especially @plong42. I am also a big fan of @ChrchCurmudgeon, and @BitterBlueBetty. If you mix your feed just right, twitter can be a useful tool for staying aware of new publications, great deals, or other issues getting their 15 minutes of fame. I recommend using TweetDeck in your browser of choice, or FlipBoard on a mobile device.

Here is the list of (fake) twitter accounts you should not follow:

@Rubio’sApocalypse. Seven signs of the end times from your favorite candidate.

@JenniferGuoFreeBookOfTheDay. Somehow she narrows down to only one…

@PostModernCalvin. Quotes from John Calvin re-mixed and mashed up with Brian McClaren and Rob Bell. They all end with, “well…um…yeah.”

@SarahPalin’sBible. All the verses that prove Jesus carried a Luger.

@JimWest’sEncourgingWords. Jim tweets highlights from his devotional reading in Joel Osteen.

@BestTVReligiousMovies. Mostly inactive.

@BadBibleTatoos. Pictures of people who copied Hebrew from a webpage for the “Jesus tattoo.”

@HamOnNye. The very best of Ken Ham’s extensive cooking library.

@BultmannInKlingon. Translations of Bultmann quotes translated to Klingon for the existential trekkie.

@BonoKnows. Either then theological musings of U2 frontman Bono, or Sonny Bono’s wit and wisdom. Either way, steer clear.

@DTSSays. Stuff written on the bathroom walls at Dallas Theological Seminary.

@JamesAndLily. James McGrath’s Harry Potter fanfic, with occasional Doctor Who crossovers.

@BaptistsForSanders. Also inactive.

@MartinLutherTrek. Theology from the great reformer as if it was spoken by James Kirk. “Here. I. Stand.”

@WWJE. What Jesus would eat, for the serious biblical dieter.

@Craig’sCommentaryList. Status updates for Craig Keener’s commentary projects. “Finished page 4539 today…”

@StuffJoelFound. Pictures of things Joel Watts found in his couch or under his car seats.

@BuddhistJohnPiper. The sayings of from John Piper that sound vaguely Buddhist to people who know very little about Buddhism.

@TebowFett. Tim Tebow tweets inspiring thoughts while watching Star Wars.

@BethMooreBibleStudiesForMen. Seriously frightening.

@SBLCreepShots. Hidden camera pics from AAR/SBL of biblical scholars in compromising situations, like browsing a book in the Answers in Genesis booth.

@DispensationalistNicholasCage. Updates on Nicholas Cage as he rightly divides the next Left Behind movie.

@ManbunsForJesus. Seminary students sporting Man Buns and tweedy sweaters.

What other biblical or theological twitter accounts should we avoid in the coming year? Add your suggestions in the comments…






More Ways to Fail a Bible Paper

Two years ago I thought it would be funny to write a few tweets with common student mistakes. This turned into a “top ten list” of things I have consistently read while grading Bible papers. I just did these as tweets over a couple of days (and yes, you should follow me on twitter, @Plong42).  Several people encouraged me to collect the tweets as a blog post, which I did. To my surprise, the “Top 10 Ways to Fail a Bible Paper” had the highest single day traffic on Reading Acts ever.

It has been two years so I thought I would create a second list of common mistakes when writing a Bible paper. First, I need to make a few clarifications. First, there is no one student in mind for any of the Top Ten. These are the types of things that regularly turn up in undergraduate Bible papers, from freshmen to seniors. Most of my students are very bright and write excellent papers. Occasionally even the best students backslide and make me question my ability to teach.

Second, I do want this list to have some positive influence on people writing papers for a Bible class. Too many students think a collect Bible class is just like Sunday School. All they need to do is say Jesus and the Bible a few times, share some feelings (maybe cry a little) and they deserve an A. But that is not at all what I am looking for and a paper for a Bible class ought to have the same academic quality as any other class. My guess is people who make these kids of mistakes are not passing an English or History either.

Here is my 2015 version of “The Top Ten Ways to Fail a Bible Paper.”

10. Using Jeremiah 29:11, unless you know what Jeremiah 29:11 is talking about. In fact, if you are writing a Gospels paper or a paper on Galatians, there is probably no reason for Jeremiah 29:11 to come up.

Jeremiah 29_11 Context9. Refer to every character in the Bible as holy and righteous. Other than Jesus, most are not even close. I seriously get papers referring to Abraham or David as a “good Christian.”

8. Cite a Mormon Theology website (unless you are at a Mormon School). This has happened more than once, and occasionally I get a reference to the Christadelphian commentary. First, do not do biblical research by googling your topic. Second, if you break that rule, at least think critically about the content. Who wrote the website? What is their theological emphasis?

7. A related topic is using extremely older and dated material. If you use an online Matthew Henry commentary as if it was an example of contemporary scholarship, you are not doing “research.” Matthew Henry was a great scholar, but he died in 1714. Not really cutting edge. By citing Matthew Henry (or John Gill, Darby’s Notes, Clarke’s Commentary, etc.) you are only telling your professor you used biblehub.com as your main resource and probably do not know how to find the library on campus. The reason these books are available online for free is that they are out of copyright, which means they are at least 75 years old.

Verse Wow6. Quote a verse, follow it with “Wow, that is a pretty crazy concept.” I get papers with this breathy moment of worship and nothing else. No substance, no connection to the topic. If you quote a passage of Scripture (and you really should in a Bible Paper), please keep it brief and use the text to support some point you are trying to make. I sometimes get papers which have pasted text from web-based Bibles, without any format changes. I get footnotes, changes in color, etc. If you are going to be lazy enough to paste in a chunk of the Bible and only say “wow, Jesus is really cool” at least change the font to match the rest of your paper!

5. “Many scholars say…” Name one, for example. Just one would make me happy. Usually students who say this mean “I think this is what people would say if I did a little research…”

4. “I have the kindle edition of textbook and I couldn’t figure out how to get accurate page numbers from the app.”  That is the problem trying to save money with a kindle. It is not a book so you cannot cite it properly. Usually a used textbook is cheaper than the kindle book, so unless you have an allergy to paper, man-up and buy the book. If the paper is a formal research paper, use the library copy of the book to cite it correctly.

3. Using a sermon you heard two weeks ago as the main source for your paper. I do think some pastors have good idea and I applaud a student to not only pays attention to a good teaching pastor but is moved to interact with that sermon in a paper, but a sermon cannot be the main source for your paper. When this is done right, the reference to the sermon appears in an introduction in order to raise the question or in a conclusion, making a final pastoral insight into the text.
Apostrophe 22. Stringing together a page full of quotes with no interaction with the material.
On the one hand, I am happy the student is using good resources and is citing them, but 750 words directly cited in a 1000 word paper is not good research. Students need to learn how to summarize and cite, but also how to interact with the material quoted. A paper ought to comment on the citation, disagree with the material, use the material to illustrate something in the text. Nothing makes me more angry that a 100 word block quote concluded with “and I agree.”

1. Learn to use an apostrophe. There is a huge difference between “God’s love” and “Gods love.” Unless you are writing a paper on the Canaanite pantheon, you are going to want to use a comma.

So there is my Top Ten, or Twenty if you combine both lists. What have I missed? Any other glaring mistakes other professors notice as they finish up their grading this semester?