American Biblical Dilettantism

Most Americans will tell you what they think the Bible means, but only 11% have read the entire thing (and that’s probably an overly optimistic percentage) and only 9% say they’ve read it more than once. And more than half of Americans have either read none of it, a few sentences, or a few stories.  Biblical illiteracy is rampant in America.  Christians, of all people, should be students of Scripture.

Breaking News: You don’t know anything about the Bible if you’ve only read it once.  Anything.

 

A Bacchanalia at Sheffield

Via Paul Middleton, this fun announcement:

Have you ever wanted to go back in time and get a taste of what the past was like? This 18th May at the University of Sheffield, you will have the chance to savour ancient Roman recipes, cooked by INOX Dine Chef Joe Berry, at a Roman banquet hosted by Dr Meredith Warren (Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies) and the University of Sheffield’s Festival of the Arts and Humanities.

The set menu features authentic meals reconstructed from ancient sources, made from local produce, and also includes vegetarian options and wine:

* Patina of Plaice with Olive Relish and Soft Boiled Eggs
* Vitellian Peas with Olive Relish and Soft Boiled Eggs (V)
* Roast Quail with Celery Puree with Toasted Pistachio and Pomegranate
* Ricotta and Oregano baked Parcels with Celery Puree with Toasted Pistachio and Pomegranate (V)
* Shoulder of Pork with Sweet Wine Cakes, lentils, Athenian Cabbage and barley rolls
* Roast Butternut Squash Stuffed with Millet and Lovage with Sweet Wine cakes, Athenian Cabbage and barley rolls (V)
* Honey and Walnut cake with Ricotta sweet meats (V)
For more information and to book tickets, visit https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/353589

The Latest Issue of The Sixteenth Century Journal

This one looks fun-

Republicans Want to Keep Their Health Care Untouched By Any Legislative Change to the ACA

And that’s why I find Congress so utterly contemptible.

A new amendment to the Republican ObamaCare replacement bill exempts members of Congress and their staff from its effects.

The new changes to the bill would allow states to apply for waivers to repeal key ObamaCare provisions, such as the protection against people with pre-existing conditions being charged more and the requirement that insurers cover a range of health services, like prescription drugs and mental health.

The GOP amendment exempts members of Congress and their staffs to ensure that they will still be protected by those ObamaCare provisions.

Sickening.  Just sickening.  I will not be voting for any incumbent.  Use this tool to find your Senators and Representative and let them know how you feel about their schemes.

“Was Balaam also among the Prophets? How Balaam Sheds Light on the Latter Prophets”

I mention this essay by K.L. Noll not because it’s been published and not because you can get hold of the forthcoming edition of SJOT which contains it quite yet: but I mention it to encourage you to keep your eyes peeled for it and to urge you to read it when it comes out.  It’s fantastic.  Really fantastic.

‘The origin, function and disappearance of the Ark of the Covenant according to the Hebrew Bible’

That’s the lecture to be delivered in May in London by Thomas Römer.

Professor Thomas Römer will be giving the 2017 Ethel M. Wood Lecture on ‘The origin, function and disappearance of the Ark of the Covenant according to the Hebrew Bible’. The lecture will take place in the Anatomy Lecture Theatre at King’s College London in the Strand, at 5.30 pm on Wednesday 17th May, followed by a reception in the Anatomy.

Etc.  I hope they record it.

Sometimes It’s Too Late

Yahweh said to me, ‘Even if Moses and Samuel pleaded before me, I could not sympathise with this people! Drive them out of my sight; away with them!

And if they ask you, “Where shall we go?” tell them this, “Yahweh says this: Those for the plague, to the plague; those for the sword, to the sword; those for famine, to famine; those for captivity, to captivity!  “I shall consign them to four kinds of thing, Yahweh declares: the sword to kill, the dogs to drag away, the birds of heaven and wild animals of earth to devour and to destroy.   I shall make them an object of horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, and what he did in Jerusalem.” ‘  Who is there to pity you, Jerusalem, who to grieve for you, who to go out of his way and ask how you are?

‘You yourself have rejected me, Yahweh declares, you have turned your back on me; so I have stretched my hand over you and destroyed you. Tired of relenting,  I have winnowed them with a winnow at the country’s gates. They have been bereft, I have destroyed my people, but they refuse to leave their ways.  I have made their widows outnumber the sand of the sea. On the mother of young warriors I bring the destroyer in broad daylight. Suddenly I bring anguish and terror down on her.  The mother of seven sons grows faint and gasps for breath. It is still day, but already her sun has set, she is dismayed and distracted; and the rest of them I shall consign to the sword, to their enemies, Yahweh declares.’ (Jer. 15:1-9)

The 499th Anniversary of the Heidelberg Disputation

Am 26. April 1518 war Martin Luther zu Gast in Heidelberg. In der dortigen Universität leitete der Reformator eine wissenschaftliche Disputation. Anlass war das Generalkapitel – die höchste beschlussfassende Instanz – der deutschen Augustiner-Eremiten strenger Observanz, das 1518 in Heidelberg stattfand. Zunächst waren also die Ordensangelegenheiten geklärt worden, bevor es zur Disputation kam.

Die Disputation selbst kann schon als Teil des Vorgehens der römischen Kirche gegen Luther im Streit um den Ablasshandel verstanden werden. Der Augustinerorden war von Rom beauftragt worden, eine Disputation durchzuführen, in der Luther seine Thesen zum Ablass erläutern sollte. Dies geschah jedoch nicht, denn Luther ging schlicht nicht auf die Problematik ein. Stattdessen befasste er sich – im Hörsaal der Artistenfakultät – mit den Themen der Werkgerechtigkeit und der theologia crucis.

Etc.

The Real Reason Most Nerds Enter Academia

via Mike Bird on FB

via Mike Bird on FB

Radicalism and Dissent in the World of Protestant Reform

From V&R.

The 500th anniversary of the onset of the Protestant Reformation is receiving global attention, both from the public and from academic researchers. However, the significance of the year 1517 has been an issue of scholarly debate for quite some time, and its importance as a caesura in European history has been questioned. The popular picture, in particular, of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the Wittenberg church doors on 31 October 1517 and thereby unleashing both the Reformation movement and the modern era has been successfully challenged by research.

Our understanding of the Reformation has become more differentiated and complex, and this has been and will be documented in the context of the quincentenary in many events, publications and exhibitions around the world. The acknowledgement of plurality and dissent within early modern Protestantism is one key aspect of this differentiated picture of the Reformation. The symposium “The Protestant Reformation and its Radical Critique”, which was held at the German Historical Institute in London from September 15–17, 2016, concentrated on radical currents within the Reformation movement, most of which were inspired by a critical engagement with Luther and the other magisterial reformers. These radical groups and theologies are of particular interest because they link British, German, Dutch, French and North American experiences and historiographies.

The period on which the essays in this volume focus extends from the early Reformation of the 1520s to the Pietist movement of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. This broad chronological perspective will help to shift the anniversary discussions from their predominant focus on the sixteenth century. A public lecture given at the British Museum within the framework of this symposium positioned the various strands of early-modern religious radicalism within an even wider temporal framework and linked them to those of the 20th century. The symposium itself was structured thematically around issues such as group formation, religious radicalism in politics, gender and family relations, missionary activity, radicalism across borders, and radical history writing.

Radicalism is one of the unintended consequences of Luther’s reformatory efforts. Once the floodgates were opened, thanks to Luther’s own doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, all bets were off concerning what people would do with that freedom. Unsurprisingly, many misused it and others abused it.

In the present volume the contributors show the variety of ways in which the chief Reformers (Luther and Zwingli) had their work distorted and mistreated by various radical groups. As such, it is a wonderful historical examination and a delightful look at the nature of history as it sometimes surprises its inhabitants.

Who were these Radicals?

The radical reformers, as classified by George Williams in his encyclopaedic The Radical Reformation, were the Anabaptists, the Spiritualists and the Anti-Trinitarians (p. 8).

Or are they?

As John Coffey points out in his essay for this volume, producing taxonomies of radicalism, as Williams did, is analogous to ‘fixing butterflies on a wall rather than tracking their unpredictable movements through the air’ (p. 9).

The volume presently under review, then, strives to move us forward from the common understanding of the Radical Reformation by shedding new light on a number of particular historical events. We have, in short, at hand here a series of historical case studies.

Of particular significance, in this reviewer’s estimate, is the essay by Lehmann. He writes

No wall that Luther erected was high enough, however, to prevent some of the ideas that he had formulated and propagated from spreading. The centrality of the Scriptures for all Christians, for example, captured many people’s minds, in towns and in the countryside. For Luther, this notion was closely tied to his most effective form of defense against papal arguments. As a professor of biblical studies he was convinced that he knew, and understood, God’s words at least as well, and in fact much better than anyone else. Early on, in 1518 or 1519, when being attacked, he asked his opponents to base their arguments on scriptural evidence. No doubt this method worked very well to his advantage, for example at the hearings in Worms. In keeping with this, Luther demanded that future pastors should receive a solid university education in biblical studies. As a result, what he created, together with Melanchthon, was nothing less than a new clerical elite, a professional corps of theological experts trained to explain the true meaning of God’s word to the uneducated, thus eroding the foundation of his very own slogan of the priesthood of all believers. Within just a few years he dropped the idea that anyone could simply go ahead and read and understand the message of the Bible (p. 17).

I offer that extensive quote because it shows both the quality of Lehmann’s writing and the cogency of his argument. This is a stupendous collection and I confess to having learned much from each of the essays included herein.

Those interested in the contents and the front matter of the present work are encouraged to visit the PDF of those materials kindly provided by the publisher.  I genuinely enjoy historical studies of the Radical Reformation (perhaps because at heart I’m a bit of a Radical myself), and I enjoyed this volume more than I’ve enjoyed any movie or TV show I’ve seen this year.  This book is worth turning the TV off for (and I love TV) and setting Facebook aside for a few hours for and even ignoring Twitter for a time, and times, and half a time.

CHRISTIANITY IN EURAFRICA: A History of the Church in Europe and Africa

Nothing has bound Africa and Europe more together than the history of Christianity. From Paradise onwards, the Church has been the communion of believers. As the Body of Jesus Christ she started in Jerusalem. Through the proclamation of the Gospel the Church soon reached parts of Africa and the Atlantic Coast, from where – after the Middle Ages and particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries – she took deep root in Sub-Saharan Africa. Today, in post-modern times, African Christianity is being challenged to re-plant the Church in secularized Europe.  

This textbook for learners and teachers of the History of the Church focuses on the West and the South, on Europe and Africa, the continents whose histories have been increasingly intertwined since Antiquity. Since the 1960s, the classical dependence of the South on the North has changed dramatically. There is a clear shift in the centre of gravity of Christianity from the north to the south Atlantic, making African Christianity increasingly important. The future of European Christianity largely depends on a much-needed shift to mission-mindedness in the African churches.

I genuinely enjoyed Stephen’s earlier book on Christian Zionism so I was keen to read this, which he’s sent along for review.

In the volume at hand Paas traces the history of the Christian movement from its inception to the recent past.  In the introductory chapter he discusses the chief characteristics of Church history and its sources and rationale as well as its various branches.  The first major segment, ‘From Galilee to the Atlantic’ is a sweeping description of the historical setting of the early Church through the work of Augustine and the collapse of the Roman Empire and on to the rise of the Church in the West, the rise of Islam in the East, and the intersection of Church and State.

Then Paas turns his attention to the 16th century ‘Reformation Era’ and in the pages which follow the life and work of Luther, Zwingli, Bucer, Calvin, the Radical Reformers, and the Reformation in France, the Netherlands, England, and Scotland before he turns to the Counter Reformation.

Paas next describes the spread of Protestantism in Europe and North America and how Christianity proclaimed its variety of theologies through the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Second Part turns away from Europe and North America and instead focuses on the expansion of Christianity in Africa and the variety of missionary activities and theological expressions carried out and manifested on that continent from the beginning to the present.

This work truly is a sprawling and all encompassing survey of history and theological variety.  It is an impressive volume achieving in its pages what many longer and, frankly, more tedious works do not: the bestowal on the reader of a very thorough grasp of the history of the Church.

Paas’s expertise is on full display and his knowledge of the grand sweep of the history of the Church is astonishing.  There are, however, parts where he is dependent on the general consensus even when that consensus is incorrect.  So, for example, in his discussion of Zwingli, he writes

Zwingli officially turned to the Reformation after he had become priest in the cathedral of Zurich (p. 176).

This is, to be sure, the Lutheran perspective: the portrayal of Zwingli dependent on Luther in order to arrive at a proper Reformation viewpoint.  However Zwingli’s own testimony, and there’s no reason to doubt it, is that his own turn came as early as 1515 after the horrors of the Battle of Marignano.  By the time he reached Zurich in 1519 he had already become well acquainted with Paul’s theology and was slowly but surely, as was his custom, changing things where he was.

This caveat aside, the volume is a genuinely extraordinarily useful and informative work.  It is thoroughly illustrated with over 170 graphics and it is laced with useful bibliographies.  An index is also provided but in all frankness it is not necessary: the table of contents is one of the most thorough I’ve seen in any history of the Church.

I recommend this work for, especially, students of Church History who are early in their work; interested lay people; College and University Professors looking for a comprehensive textbook; and theologians concerned with the history of Dogma.

Tolle, Lege!  This is the most affordable, most comprehensive volume on the topic you’re likely to find anywhere.  And it is a pleasure to read.

 

99% of the People on Facebook and Twitter Who Talk About the Bible

The Bee Stings the Silly Bill Nye, The Dr Phil of ‘Science’

In a rare display of surrender, scientists across the nation have given up their extensive search to prove that Bill Nye “The Science Guy” is a reliable spokesperson for the principles of scientific inquiry.

According to sources, researchers threw in the towel after viewing a recent episode of Nye’s new variety show, Bill Nye Saves The World.

“We’ve wasted years of effort trying to prove he’s a credible, non-biased source of information,” one scientist told reporters. “We’ve tried and tried, utilizing the very best technology known to man, and now it’s time to move on to more promising fields of research.”

“It’s a lost cause,” he added grimly.

According to reports, Nye responded by pointing to his wardrobe of lab coats as evidence of his “sciency-ness,” and called all people who disagree with him “closed-minded Science Guy deniers.”

He’s absurd.  Science folk should be as embarrassed of him as psychiatrists are of Dr Phil.

Luther And Wittenberg, Part One

The Christian History Institute is posting, in three parts, an essay I’ve written on Luther and Wittenberg.  Part One is posted here.  Part Two will post next week and Part Three the week after.  I hope you enjoy all three.

Why Does Jeremiah’s Message Sound So Contemporary?

Who will find me a wayfarer’s shelter in the desert, for me to quit my people, and leave them far behind? For all of them are adulterers, a conspiracy of traitors. They bend their tongues like a bow; not truth but falsehood holds sway in the land; yes, they go from crime to crime, but me they do not know, Yahweh declares.

Let each be on his guard against his friend; do not trust a brother, for every brother aims but to supplant, and every friend is a peddler of slander. Each one cheats his friend, never telling the truth; they have trained their tongues to lie and devote all their energies to doing wrong. You live in a world of bad faith! Out of bad faith, they refuse to know me, Yahweh declares.

And, so, Yahweh Sabaoth declares, now I shall purge them and test them, no other way to treat the daughter of my people! Their tongue is a deadly arrow, their words are in bad faith; with his mouth each wishes his neighbour peace, while in his heart plotting a trap for him. Shall I fail to punish them for this, Yahweh demands, or on such a nation fail to exact vengeance? I raise the wail and lament for the mountains, the dirge for the desert pastures, for they have been burnt: no one passes there, the sound of flocks is heard no more. Birds of the sky and animals, all have fled, all are gone. I shall make Jerusalem a heap of ruins, a lair for jackals, and the towns of Judah an uninhabited wasteland.

Who is wise enough to understand this? To whom has Yahweh’s mouth spoken to explain it? Why is the country annihilated, burnt like the desert where no one passes? Yahweh says, ‘This is because they have forsaken my Law which I gave them and have not listened to my voice or followed it, but have followed their own stubborn hearts, have followed the Baals as their ancestors taught them.’ So Yahweh Sabaoth, the God of Israel, says this, ‘Now I shall give this people wormwood to eat and poisoned water to drink. I shall scatter them among nations unknown to their ancestors or to them; and I shall pursue them with the sword until I have annihilated them.‘ (Jer. 9:1-15)

A Very Useful Post From Logos: Comparing Hebrew and Greek Texts

This week’s post is centered on the following question I received from a Logos user:

I’m hoping you can help me with a frequent task: finding which Greek words (LXX) are used to translate a particular word in the Hebrew text. I’d like to know, for example, what Greek words the scholars chose to use in the LXX for “hesed,” which is so rich in meaning.

Even though not every Logos user will need this tip, the feature in the answer is a good trick to know if you venture into the original languages.

Users of Logos will find this quite helpful.  Read the rest.

Asparagus Festival? Seriously??? Seriously????????

via- 

I’m so glad I’m Baptist.

ALERT: Hawarden Old Testament in the New Conference 2018 IMPORTANT NEWS

Susan Docherty writes, in part

Dear all,

I’m afraid there has been a mix up at the Hawarden end about our booking for the 2018 Seminar – they CANNOT after all accommodate us on the dates I recently circulated, i.e. March 21st to 23rd. However, they could offer us Thursday 22nd to Saturday 24th March, if we are willing to return to a previous pattern of meeting from Thursday evening to Saturday lunchtime. Alternatively, if we do want to go for a Wednesday to Friday meeting, we would have to meet earlier than usual, and in term time – 7th to 9th March. Could I ask those of you who are likely to be able to come next year to let me know within the next few days which of these two options would work best for you so that I can make a booking as soon as possible.

Please let Susan know ASAP.

Zwingli and Bullinger and their Influence: A Conference Announcement

Via Emidio Campi

When Texts are Canonized

How did canonization take place, and what difference does it make?

Essays in this collection probe the canonical process: Why were certain books, but not others, included in the canon? What criteria were used to select the books of the canon? Was canonization a divine fiat or human act? What was the nature of the authority of the laws and narratives of the Torah? How did prophecy come to be included in the canon? Others reflect on the consequences of canonization: What are the effects in elevating certain writings to the status of ‘Holy Scriptures’? What happens when a text is included in an official list? What theological and hermeneutical questions are at stake in the fact of the canon? Should the canon be unsealed or reopened to include other writings?

Edited by Timothy Lim.