Quote of the Year

I am under no obligation to conform to a brand of Republicanism whose central tenet appears to be blind obedience to a charismatic leader. I will side with the constitution. Let all reasonable Republicans unite. Let’s take our party back from these charlatans. – Senator McCollister

The Theological University of Apeldoorn is Offering a New Degree Program in Theology

You can read all the details here.

De Theologische Universiteit Apeldoorn heeft een nieuwe stap gezet in de ontwikkeling van een nieuwe masteropleiding theologie. De Minister van Onderwijs heeft een positief besluit genomen op de aanvraag daartoe. De tweejarige deeltijdmaster wordt nu verder ontwikkeld en voorgelegd aan de Nederlands-Vlaamse Accreditatie Organisatie. Het is de bedoeling dat de nieuwe masteropleiding in september 2020 van start gaat.

De nieuwe master is opgezet met het oog op herbronning van de gereformeerde theologie voor hedendaagse vraagstukken. Tekst, traditie en toepassing zijn de sleutelwoorden. De Bijbelse teksten worden met het oog op de 21e eeuwse context gelezen. De theologische traditie wordt belicht met het oog op de relevantie vandaag. In pedagogische en theologische praktijken wordt naar christelijke wijsheid gezocht.

Etc.

A New Essay in ‘ANE Today’

A Great King and a Wanax? The Politics of Mycenaean Greece, By Jorrit Kelder

ANE Today is the only ‘Biblical Archaeology’ magazine you will EVER need to ‘Review’.  The rest are colorless and paltry by comparison, as well as lacking the intellectual vigor ANE Today embodies.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The World’s Worst Priest

Right here.

When loved ones gathered for the funeral of Maison Hullibarger, they were supposed to hear uplifting messages and fond memories of the teen.

Instead, a priest told hundreds of mourners that suicide is wrong and repeatedly referenced the 18-year-old taking his own life.

Now, Maison’s mother is suing Father Don LaCuesta, the Archdiocese of Detroit, and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Michigan.

Awful and incompetent.

The Purity-Industrial Complex

As pornography has exploded beyond just websites to apps and social media platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr and others, tech companies closely affiliated with church groups are capitalising on the fears of devout Christians that “porn is the greatest threat to Christian purity and even the moral standard of the nation,” said Samuel Perry, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Oklahoma and author of Addicted to Lust.

A recent report by the Washington-based National Centre on Sexual Exploitation cited a study of university students that found that 93 per cent of boys and 62 per cent of girls were exposed to online pornography during their adolescence.

Read the rest. It’s quite interesting.

The Best Advice for Pastors

“One who trusts others too quickly* is lightminded, and one who sins does wrong to himself. One who rejoices in wickedness will be condemned, and for one who hates gossip evil is lessened.

Never repeat a conversation, and you will lose nothing at all. With friend or foe do not report it, and unless it would be a sin for you, do not disclose it; for some one has heard you and watched you, and when the time comes he will hate you.

Have you heard a word? Let it die with you. Be brave! It will not make you burst!”  (Sir. 19:4-10)

________________
*At all, really

Essays on the Book of Isaiah

Essays on the Book of Isaiah, by Joseph Blenkinsopp

This volume of essays by Joseph Blenkinsopp on different aspects of the book of Isaiah is the product of three decades of close study of the most seminal and challenging texts of the Hebrew Bible. Some of the essays deal with major themes in Isaiah, for example, universalism, theology and politics, and the Suffering Servant of the Lord God. Five of them are published here for the first time.

I can’t think of a single living person who knows more about Isaiah than Joe Blenkinsopp.  And no one has done more to further our understanding of that book.  Here collected, then, are 20 essays by an excellent scholar, 15 of which have appeared over a number of years across a variety of platforms.  5 additional essays that have never appeared before are also included.

The table of contents is available here, along with the first essay (which has never been published before), and the biblical index.

The essays appearing here for the first time are as follows:

  • The Formation of the Hebrew Bible Canon: Isaiah as a Test Case
  • Isaiah and the Neo-Babylonian Background
  • The Sectarian Element in Early Judaism: The Isaian Contribution
  • Zion as Reality and Symbol in Psalms and Isaiah
  • The Suffering Servant, the book of Daniel, and Martyrdom

The remainder, as listed in the table of contents have, as suggested above, all appeared above in a variety of sources including journals and collections of essays.

Everyone who works in Isaiah studies knows the name of Joe Blenkinsopp and everyone who attends CBA or SOTS or SBL has seen him at one or more of those meetings.  Sleight of stature but powerful of intellect, hat wearing and mustachioed, he is a grave presence; an icon; a fixture.  His unflagging energy is inspiring and his intellectual vigor astonishing.

For those new on the scene of biblical studies, Joe was

Born in Durham, England. Taught at International Theological College, Romsey, U.K., Chicago Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt University and University of Notre Dame from 1970; Guest-Professor at Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome, 1998.  Member of several learned societies including Society of Biblical Literature, Society for the Study of the Old Testament (U.K., President 1999-2000), Catholic Biblical Association (President 1988-1989), European Association of Biblical Studies.  ATS Research grant 1978, Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford 1982-1983 with NEH grant, Mellon Retiree Research Grant 2005-2006.  Excavated at Tel Dan, Israel 1977 and at Capernaum, Israel  with Notre Dame University support 1980-1987. Rector of Ecumenical Institute, Tantur, Israel, 1978.  

And more, frankly.  Were all his publications, lectures, conference papers, and assorted other academic achievements listed the ‘world could not contain all the books’ that it would take.

I mention all that not merely to appear fawning (though Joe has long been a hero of mine); but to place him on the stage where he belongs:  dead center.  And so does his little book of essays just published by Mohr.

When he writes, for example, in his explanation of the identity of the tsaddiq of Isaiah 57:2, that

… not everything in these chapters can be derived from one source or only reduced to one formula only, but this prophetic legacy, announced at the end of Deutero-Isaiah (54:17), is clearly a prominent theme and provides an important element of continuity in the post-disaster Isaian corpus…

we are brought to the cusp of Blenkinsopp’s genius:  a careful, measured, thoughtful, and provocative eye for the details and ability to express his insights with clarity and brevity.  That ability is on display throughout these essays.  Students of Isaiah will be greatly assisted in their own studies if they will take the time and make the effort to read through what Professor Blenkinsopp has written.

You Need a Commentary That Helps Make Sense of the Bible

the-person-the-pew-commentary-seriesThe ‘Person in the Pew’ commentary series is the only series of Commentaries in modern history written by a single person on the entire Bible and aimed at layfolk .  Everyone needs a commentary on the Bible that they can understand and that answers their questions about the meaning of the text.  So I wrote one.

If you or someone you know wants to get a copy of the entire 42 volume collection in PDF format, you can do so from yours truly for the exceptionally reasonable price of  $75 by clicking my PayPal Link.  Leave your email in your paypal payment note so I can send it to you right away.

Should you only wish one volume, email me and we can arrange it.

***

[I] wanted to thank you for your commentary set I recently acquired. My daughter Chloe (age 11) and I are using the one on Mark as we read through and discuss the gospel every second evening. It helps shed light on the text without being academically burdensome for us to work through. .. [Y]our comments are pitched wonderfully for anyone wanting to begin serious engagement with the text. It also complements the more ‘scholarly’ works. – Blessings, David Booth

America’s Congress Explained

Because of the transgression of a land, many are its princes (Prov. 28:2)

The Gist of Sondland’s Opening Statement

The gist of @USAmbEU testimony is that EVERYONE KNEW that @realDonaldTrump was extorting Ukraine. Pompeo, @AmbJohnBolton , @VP, all of them! The entire administration is corrupt and deceptive.

Were We Ever Protestants? Essays in Honour of Tarald Rasmussen

This anthology discusses different aspects of Protestantism, past and present.

Professor Tarald Rasmussen has written both on medieval and modern theologians, but his primary interest has remained the reformation and 16th century church history. In stead of a traditional «Festschrift» honouring the different fields of research he has contributed to, this will be a focused anthology treating a specific theme related to Rasmussen’s research profile.

One of Professor Rasmussen’s most recent publications, a little popularized book in Norwegian titled «What is Protestantism?», reveals a central aspect research interest, namely the Weberian interest for Protestantism’s cultural significance. Despite difficulties, he finds the concept useful as a Weberian «Idealtypus» enabling research on a phenomenon combining theological, historical and sociological dimensions. Thus he employs the Protestantism as an integrative concept to trace the makeup of today’s secular societies.

This profiled approach is a point of departure for this anthology discussing important aspects of historiography in reformation history: Continuity and breaks surrounding the reformation, contemporary significance of reformation history research, traces of the reformation in today’s society.

The book relates to current discussions on Protestantism and is relevant to everyone who want to keep up to date with the latest research in the field.

Visitors to this link will find access to the table of contents and other front matter which will help them in deciding whether or not this is a volume they wish to read.  I think those interested in the Reformation will be drawn to the work.

As the table of contents is available above I won’t be repeating it here.  Instead, I will make a few observations about the book, which I found very interesting and informative, and I will point out a few problems with the book.

First, the observations:  the essays in this collection are a fitting celebration of the scholar herein honored.  Rasmussen is certainly the most accomplished of Reformation scholars from Scandinavia, and the work at hand centers its attention primarily on the outworking of the Reformation in those lands.  Particularly engaging, for me, were the essays by Leppin (who is a wonderful scholar), Jürgensen, and Kaufmann.

Jürgensen’s intriguing contribution featured a number of excellent photographs which properly illustrated his chief thesis, which is that art is the one place Protestants felt comfortable in retaining their Roman Catholic affinity for images and idols.  The cult of the Saints is alive and well in Protestantism, in other words, in artistic depictions – even if the cult was denounced in sermons and tractates.

And Kaufmann’s essay is simply superb.  His assertion that

The German ‘Protestant community’ itself has a chequered history of division and hatred.  The Lutheran and Reformed (Calvinist) parties required considerable time and effort to overcome doctrinal differences and reach a frosty unity based on perception of the common Catholic enemy.

is right on the mark.  And his demonstration of that truth in his contribution is thorough and intelligent.  He is, accordingly, also right to point out that

The Peace of Augsburg may therefore have established political and legal peace, but it did nothing to prevent – indeed promoted – the establishment of a bitter confessional split in the German nation which provided the framework for the development of an unparalleled level of inter-confessional rancor and uninhibited polemic.

And now, second, a few problems with the book.  The primary issue readers will have with the book is that there are a number of places where it is obvious that it has not been carefully examined by a native English speaker.   For instance,

on page 1 – ‘bin’ stands where the word should be ‘been’.

on page 4 – ‘Luther’s Catholic Intention and the Raise of Protest’ should be ‘Luther’s Catholic Intention and the Rise of Protest’.

on page 7 – ‘Making Luther Protesting’ should be ‘Making Luther Protestant’.

on page 11 – “Wider Hans Worst” should be ‘Wieder Hans Wurst’.

And finally (because I don’t want to list every grammatical error but simply illustrate their fairly common appearance), on page 11 the closing paragraph as a whole is oddly constructed (from an English point of view):

Was Luther ever a Prostestant?  Again: No, never.  How could he?  Luther wanted to be a Catholic, and he felt being a Catholic.  Sure, not a Roman Catholic, but he was neither a Lutheran nor a Protestant.  He was just: a Christian.

The wonderfully informative and engaging essays of this collection deserved a second go through linguistically.  The reading experience of this book is less pleasurable than it could be, and should be, simply because the various grammatical errors are jarring.   Reading the work is like driving down a lovely highway where the scenery out the windows of the car is simply enthralling and being jarred from the experience by a giant pothole that nearly shakes one from one’s seat.

I sincerely hope that should a second edition appear, it will be combed through by an English editor before it is printed.

Take Your Children to Dillards for a Visit With Satan

Danger all Around- But Providence Intervenes

NB- If Calvin were alive today he would add ‘being shot by random strangers at hospitals, schools, synagogues, clubs, and out on the street’ to his list of perils…

For what else can you say of it, when neither cold nor heat in any considerable degree can be endured without danger? Now whithersoever you turn, all the objects around you are not only unworthy of your confidence, but almost openly menace you, and seem to threaten immediate death. Embark in a ship; there is but a single step between you and death. Mount a horse; the slipping of one foot endangers your life. Walk through the streets of a city; you are liable to as many dangers as there are tiles on the roofs. If there be a sharp weapon in your hand, or that of your friend, the mischief is manifest. All the ferocious animals you see are armed for your destruction. If you endeavour to shut yourself in a garden surrounded with a good fence, and exhibiting nothing but what is delightful, even there sometimes lurks a serpent.

Your house perpetually liable to fire, menaces you by day with poverty, and by night with falling on your head. Your land, exposed to hail, frost, drought, and various tempests, threatens you with sterility, and with its attendant, famine. I omit poison, treachery, robbery, and open violence, which partly beset us at home, and partly pursue us abroad.

Amidst these difficulties, must not man be most miserable, who is half dead while he lives, and is dispirited and alarmed as though he had a sword perpetually applied to his neck? You will say that these things happen seldom, or certainly not always, nor to every man, but never all at once. I grant it: but as we are admonished by the examples of others, that it is possible for them to happen also to us, and that we have no more claim to exemption from them than others, we must unavoidably dread them as events that we may expect.

What can you imagine more calamitous than such a dread? Besides it is an insult to God to say that he hath exposed man, the noblest of his creatures, to the blindness and temerity of fortune. But here I intend to speak only of the misery which man must feel, if he be subject to the dominion of fortune. —  John Calvin

Remember…

In these troubled times, when lying abounds (along with being sexually immoral), just remember-

“The cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Rev. 21:8)

That’s Not Evangelism

It has never been, is not now, and will never be evangelism.  It is a cheap escape from authentic evangelism which, according to Jesus, is going into the world and making DISCIPLES.  Not audiences, not the entertained, not the amused, and not lovers of money.

This is, though, how low theology among ‘evangelicals’ has gone.  The ‘Queen of the Sciences’ has become the court jester for today’s ‘Christians’.

No one has ever become a disciple because of cheap gimmicks wrongly called ‘evangelism’.  And if your evangelism is ‘easy’, it’s fake.

So, as Peter said to Simon Magus- ‘to hell with you and your money’.  Or as Luther translated it in 1545,  “Das du verdampt werdest mit deinem gelde!” (Acts 8:20)

As It Should!

😉

Lexham Geographic Commentary on Acts through Revelation

I was unaware of the existence of this book (and of the series of 4 other volumes with which it serves as part) until it arrived today for review.  So I thank Lexham for sending it along, doubtless knowing of my great interest in such things.

I will review it in due course.  Stay tuned.

The Lexham Geographic Commentary on Acts through Revelation delivers fresh insight by drawing attention to the geographical setting for the spread of Christianity in the first century AD. Geography is a central concern in Acts, but the full significance of its geographical context is easily overlooked without a familiarity with the places, the types of transportation, the relative distances, and the travel conditions around the Mediterranean in the first century AD. Luke’s account mentions places from all over the known world, and Paul’s missionary travels covered an estimated 15,000 miles by land and sea.

Jesus’ words in Acts 1:8 literally map the future travels of the Apostles and provide the structure for the rest of the book: The Apostles will take the gospel from Jerusalem (1:1–8:3) to Samaria and Judea (8:4–40, 9:32–11:18), and finally throughout the Roman world and beyond (13:21–28:31). Geography also provides a new depth of insight into John’s letters to the seven churches in Rev 1–3. Their locations along key Roman mail routes suggest the letters may make up a single composite message to be received in stages as the letters are passed along from one church to the other. The references in Acts and Rev 1–3 cover the full geographical context for the first century Church since some of the cities Paul visits in Acts are later the locations of churches that receive his letters such as Ephesus (Acts 19; Eph 1:11 Tim 1:3). The Lexham Geographic Commentary gives you insight into the importance of all of these locations—both culturally and spatially—and provides a deeper understanding of the spread of early Christianity.

 

That’s the Most Grape Juice I’ve Ever Seen in Communion!

Truth

A Theological Takeaway From the #ImpeachmentHearings

Trump’s supporters are more faithful and loyal to him than most of Jesus’s disciples are to God.

Let that sink in.