Unlike some of the worthier bibliobloggers, I quite like Biblical Archaeology Review. Dying disciplines need intelligent popularizers, for without them they would disappear in a puff of elitist self importance.
But the devil not only can quote scripture, as the old adage claims, he can also place ads in publications that will take cheques impregnated with brimstone. Hershel Shanks will take anybody's moolah it seems, and the latest issue proves it. Many of the ads are "Journal quality," and in fact two of them are COG-related (and both full page promotions).
The first is an updated ad for the Coulter Bible. We read now that Fred's version has been "heartily recommended" by something called the "International Society of Bible Collectors." From what I can tell this is a group of elderly enthusiasts with few academic pretensions, whose chief pleasure in life is collecting and displaying obscure translations. No wonder then that Fred's tome is recommended - it is certainly obscure! Fred is apparently desperate enough to take any endorsement he can get.
The second is for Century One Bookstore, based in Pasadena. There's an obvious if indirect COG connection here too (hey, you can pick up a copy of Restoring Abrahamic Faith there - knock yourself out!), but COB handles a wide variety of conservative fundagelical resources, including a few with scholarly "cred." These folk are in a different category to tithe-farming operations, so I don't think we need expect BAR to, um, bar them from their august pages. In fact, if you haven't cruised their website, you might enjoy checking it out.
Fred, though, is another matter. Why does BAR accept goofy ads for even goofier products? If the Reader's Digest could turn down booze ads, why can't Hershel Shanks demand that potential advertisers meet a few minimal criteria?
Of course, COG items are only part of the story. BAR is also promoting a musical rosary box (open it and it plays Ave Maria!), a two-foot tall stained glass cross bearing a picture of a bearded bloke in a sheet along with the words I am the Way the Truth and the Light, and "Believe" earrings.
Here's the weird thing. The actual magazine content - idiotic ads aside - is a cut above anything you'll find outside specialist publications and academic journals. At a time when serious publishers like Fortress Press are feeling the pinch, you'd think they'd be scrambling to buy space in BAR to grow their market. Instead we get shonky Bibles and crappy kitsch. Go figure.