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We all love Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange, but there is a whole world of people out there who need answers to their questions and don't even know that this site exists. When they arrive from Google, what will their first impression be? Let's try to look at this site through the eyes of someone who's never seen it before, and see how we stack up against the rest of the 'Net.

The Site Self-Evaluation review queue is open and populated with 10 questions that were asked and answered in the last quarter. Run a few Google searches to see how easy they are to find and compare the answers we have with the information available on other sites.

Rating the questions is only a part of the puzzle, though. Do you see a pattern of questions that should have been closed but are not? Questions or answers that could use an edit? Anything that's going really well? Post an answer below to share your thoughts and discuss these questions and the site's health with your fellow users!

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As I did last time, I wanted to share my votes for all to see my thinking (and offer feedback if one strongly disagrees with my approach to the evaluation process.

Why are the words “darkness” and “light” in their feminine form in Psalm 139:12?

  • My vote: Satisfactory.
  • Question: The question is focused on a specific facet of the text and is answerable (although it shows the OP is highly ignorant of the Hebrew language). This is not the greatest question because we don't really want answers to have to explain the basics of the languages (such as natural grammatical gender) as this is somewhat off topic, but we also want to help folks who clearly are misinterpreting information to get on the right track.
  • Accepted/Top Answer: The accepted answer clearly answers the question, but relies on possibly outdated sources. In this instance, the sources used are sufficient to answer the question, but as they are both freely available on the Internet, the sources should be hyper-linked so that the information can be easily verified.
  • Other Answers: This is the only answer (the deleted one doesn't count).
  • Search Results: This question on BH.SE is the top hit on Google and I could not find any other answers to this precise question, however, there is plenty of information on natural grammatical gender and its use within Biblical Hebrew that can be found via alternate searches.
  • Reflection: I almost marked this question as 'Needs Improvement' since the OP had little training in the Hebrew language (initial research) and there is only one answer. However, the one answer is sufficient in that is answers the question and gives sources (shows its work), even if not ideal sources from a scholarly perspective (in this case the information in these sources is fine), and the OP accepted this answer.

Is it true that Luther intentionally mistranslated Romans 3:28?

  • My vote: Needs Improvement.
  • Question: The question is succinct, focused on a specific facet of the text, and answerable. This is a great question.
  • Accepted/Top Answer: There is only one answer it has not been accepted, which is not good since this is not a particularly difficult textual question. The current answer is OK, but it takes a decidedly Protestant doctrinal approach to a textual question (which is acknowledged at the end of the answer), but this fails to optimally answer the questions. The source cited (Hodge) begins with a doctrinal premise and sheds no additional light on the textual question. There is some attempt at addressing the textual question, but it fails to answer the two sub-questions posed at the end of the initial post.
  • Other Answers: There are no other answers.
  • Search Results: The top search result is the exact same question asked on C.SE, but the only answer there is abysmal. BH.SE was the second hit, and the third hit was a heavily biased and lengthy article that provides a lot more information, including direct quotes from Luther himself about his translation choice (which was requested by the OP). While this is also not a great answer since it was a heavily biased article, it still provides more support than the current answer on BH.SE.
  • Reflection: Although the current answer isn't bad, this definitely needs an improved answer which addresses all parts of the question asked by the OP.

How do the traditions of the LXX and MT versions of Jeremiah relate?

  • My vote: Satisfactory.
  • Question: The question is succinct, focused on a specific facet of the text, and answerable.
  • Accepted/Top Answer: The accepted answer clearly answers the question, is detailed, and shows its work. However, it has a couple unsupported assertions and it could benefit from some more reliable sources.
  • Other Answers: There is an OK answer but its central syllogism is a non sequitur.
  • Search Results: This question came up first in Google search results and is the easiest-to-find answer to the question. However, there were some Google Books results further down the first page of search results that did an excellent job answering this question (many containing entire articles or chapters on this topic).
  • Reflection: This was satisfactory because the top answer, while well-argued, lacked valid and reliable sources that could be easily found cited in articles that came up on the first page of search results.

Did Job Lack Insight?

  • My vote: Needs Improvement.
  • Question: The question is poorly written, speculative, primarily opinion-based, and possibly unanswerable. I'm not even sure this question would be a good fit for C.SE, although it would certainly fare better there than here.
  • Accepted/Top Answer: The accepted answer is a great example of what we don't want here - it reads more like a sermon than a reasoned response. Not to mention, it brings the New Testament into play on a Hebrew Bible question that does not require doing so.
  • Other Answers: The other answer is a theodicy sermon (also not what we want here) that lists Jewish patriarchs alongside Christian apostles.
  • Search Results: I found some commentary on the verses referenced, but nothing pertinent. However, this has more to do with the speculative, non sequitur nature of the question than it does with the absence of relevant material on the Internet.
  • Reflection: I think this question and its answers are beyond improvement - I voted to close the question.

What is the symbolism of the Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb?

  • My vote: Needs Improvement.
  • Question: The question is succinct, focused on a specific facet of the text, and answerable. However, a major assumption is made in the question that limits the scope of answers to be able to expound on the meaning of this passage. As written, the question will likely encourage primarily doctrinal explanations.
  • Accepted/Top Answer: The accepted answer makes a couple unsupported assertions, and it is unclear which sources cited correspond to which claims. However, two of the sources appear to be somewhat scholarly (albeit doctrinal) which is good. Several connections are made that don't show their work, although this is admittedly difficult to do when interpreting symbolism. Still, this answer could have been better reasoned/supported.
  • Other Answers: There are no other answers, which is surprising given the vast amount of theories on how this could be interpreted. This question needs more answers.
  • Search Results: There is a ton of doctrinal commentary on these passages, but very little easy-to-find scholarly literature (i.e. discussing relevant historical events contemporary to the writing of the text, the imperial cult, etc.).
  • Reflection: This question needs more answers, and ideally ones that don't veer entirely into doctrine.

Jesus and the cross

  • My vote: Satisfactory.
  • Question: The question is certainly of interest to students of New Testament Biblical Studies, but is primarily a philological and historical question rather than a textual one as written (there is no textual reference). It should probably be edited to reference a verse that uses the Greek word pertinent to the question.
  • Accepted/Top Answer: The accepted answer clearly answers the question, is detailed, and shows its work by logically exegeting the text. This is an excellent answer.
  • Other Answers: The other answers range from good to poor, but the presence of numerous answers is excellent.
  • Search Results: There are numerous sources that answer this question satisfactorily on the web, but the current accepted answer on BH.SE cites more and better sources and is better reasoned. I also became aware that the scholar cited in the question begins with doctrinal premises (but this was not brought into the question, which is good - even though the bias is notable).
  • Reflection: I was torn between voting excellent or satisfactory, eventually siding with satisfactory because the question does not have a specific textual reference (even though the meaning of the term is relevant to the audience of Christian/NT BH.SE folks, this is primarily a philological and historical question rather than a textual one as written).

Who is Iscah in Genesis?

  • My vote: Satisfactory.
  • Question: The question is focused on the text and is answerable, but is poorly formatted and thus hard to read and follow. It also references a commentary with no link or other proper citation for others to verify the source.
  • Accepted/Top Answer: The accepted answer clearly answers the question, is detailed, and shows its work by logically explaining the text. It avoids unnecessary speculation as well, which is a plus. However, it makes at least one unsupported assertion that would benefit from a source ("many Jewish commentaries affirm...", none are cited so this claim cannot be verified).
  • Other Answers: There are no other answers.
  • Search Results: There are a lot of search results that are far more detailed than the accepted answer at BH.SE, but few concise responses (most hits are articles or book chapters).
  • Reflection: The question needs to be formatted better and the answer should use more sources and then this would be excellent.

The Two witnesses and the Two Horns of The Beast

  • My vote: Needs Improvement.
  • Question: The question draws an unsupported connection between two passages in the text (without supporting the link in any way) but asks a specific question. However, as the text is allegorical/symbolic, it will only draw speculative answers.
  • Accepted/Top Answer: There is not an accepted answer.
  • Other Answers: Three out of the four answers are primarily doctrinal and bring numerous unsupported/unstated biases and assertions to the text. One answer is decent and identifies the speculative nature of the question and the unsupported connection of these passages.
  • Search Results: I found several commentaries on these texts (mostly doctrinal in nature), but nothing directly tying these two passages together.
  • Reflection: The question begins from an unstated/unclarified leap of logic and attracts speculative/opinion-based answers - it's not a great example of what we'd like to see here.

How does God speak to the whole community of Israel?

  • My vote: Needs Improvement.
  • Question: This is a 'truth question' as worded and is unanswerable in a definitive way (it is impossible to know the answer). However, it could be reworded to ask for possible explanations, but as worded it is seeking the true/correct answer.
  • Accepted/Top Answer: The accepted answer quotes a Jewish commentary which answers the question but makes only a basic attempt at justifying the position of the commentator. The answer shows only minimal work of why this interpretive position is optimal - especially for a question where the 'correct' answer is unknown. No alternative explanations are offered.
  • Other Answers: There is only one answer.
  • Search Results: I could not not find anything that directly answered this question.
  • Reflection: This question should be edited to ask for interpretive options / meaning rather than the 'correct' interpretation (or it should be closed).

The Testimony And The Spirit Of Prophecy

  • My vote: Needs Improvement.
  • Question: This question is short and answerable. It asks for meaning without restricting responses. This is a decent question, but it will be difficult to evaluate responses without knowing what perspective the OP is approaching the text from as this is a Christian doctrinal text.
  • Accepted/Top Answer: The accepted answer is primarily doctrinal in nature without stating nor supporting its numerous assumptions and biases. A question like this begs for doctrinal responses so this is expected (and OK), but without explicitly knowing what biases are being brought to the text the answer has far too many unsupported assertions and speculative interpretations to be useful to a wide audience. The answer is a valiant attempt at justifying a doctrinal interpretation (but again, the question begs this).
  • Other Answers: The other answer has even more unsupported doctrinal and speculative assertions.
  • Search Results: Numerous NT commentaries explain different interpretations of this passage. The commentaries offer far more options and explanations than any of the answers on BH.SE.
  • Reflection: Even though this question is specifically about the meaning of a text, it is still probably better suited for C.SE because of the speculative nature of the subject matter. The OP would likely be more satisfied receiving a response from a predetermined doctrinal perspective that could be stated at C.SE.

And those are my two cents ;)

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