Live Blogging From the DVR Tonight’s ‘Finding Jesus’ Tomorrow

This one’s on ‘the true cross’. CNN asks

The True Cross: Are pieces of the cross Jesus died on still in existence today?

Nope. Without qualification. Nope. CNN avers

The incredible legend of the True Cross is investigated. Premieres March 29 at 9pm ET/PT.

‘Incredible legend?’  Okie dokie.  ‘True Cross’?  Okie dokie.  ‘Investigated’?  Okie dokie.  I’ll watch it tomorrow sometime and pass along any observations (and batten down the hatches for the flood of hate mail to follow).  I wish Antonio Lombatti were here to hold my hand through it and keep me from hurting myself.

[Why am I so skeptical?  Because the claim that the bitlets of the cross still exist suggests that immediately after Jesus was crucified the Romans left the wood lying there and the disciples collected it.  Why would they do that?  They didn’t have the foresight to imagine Jesus would even be raised in three days.  They were surprised, remember?  So why would they nonetheless go get the wood?  Trinket collectors?  What evidence is there that in antiquity anyone anywhere in the Roman Empire ever retained execution materials?  So, even assuming that the disciples went after three days to get the cross bitlets because they realized that people would be venerating them one day…  You get the idea.  The sequence of events necessary to have preserved some wood (not to mention natural decay) are just insurmountable.  So any claims to the existence of the cross in pieces or in whole fall on the sword of a simple foray into reality.  But the program won’t be saying that.  Because it doesn’t take an hour to say ‘that’s absurd.  Next issue’.]

Call For Papers: Good and Evil

This looks fun-

‘Good and Evil in Biblical and Post-Biblical Traditions’

The 5th University of Birmingham Biblical Studies Postgraduate Conference will be hosted by the Department of Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham, on Thursday 25th June 2015. Paper proposals are invited from postgraduates on the conference theme, ‘Good and Evil in Biblical and Post-Biblical Traditions’. Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be e-mailed to Tupá Guerra ( by 27th April 2015; various perspectives (including text-critical, sociological, theological) on the theme are welcome.

Examples of possible topics include:

• Philosophical perspectives on good and evil in biblical and post-biblical traditions
• Sociological/Political perspectives on good and evil in biblical and post-biblical traditions
• Morality in biblical and post-biblical traditions
• Studies on particular words, such as tob, tahor, ra‘, rasha‘ (Hebrew); kalos, agathos, kakos, ponēros, (Greek); bonum, pius, probus, malus, perversus (Latin)
• Angels and demons
• Interpretations of the Adam and Eve story
• God and evil (Did God create evil?)
• Questions of purity
• Characterizations of evil woman in biblical and post-biblical traditions
• Biblical and/or post-biblical perspectives on sin
• Good and evil in the Dead Sea scrolls, pseudepigrapha, or rewritten Bible.

The keynote speakers will be Prof. George Brooke (University of Manchester) and Dr. Helen Bond (University of Edinburgh). The conference will conclude with a round-table discussion. Further enquiries: Tupá Guerra (

You want to go, don’t you? I do.

PSCO Podcasts

There are an array of podcasts on a lot of interesting topics at the PSCO page.  Here are some:

Thursday, 6 Nov. 2014
7:00–9:00 p.m.
Cohen Hall, Penn
“Reflections on James A. Montgomery (1866-1949)”

Stefan Schorch (Martin Luther University of Halle; Katz Center)

audio recording

Thursday, 11 Dec. 2014
7:00–9:00 p.m.
Cohen Hall, Penn
“William Wotton (1666–1727) and the Christian recovery of the Mishnah in early modern Europe”

David Ruderman (Penn)

audio recording

Thursday, 19 Feb. 2015
7:00–9:00 p.m.
Cohen Hall, Penn
“Reflections on Adolf von Harnack (1851–1930)”

Robert A. Kraft (Penn) and Christian Wiese (Frankfurt am Main, Goethe University; Katz Center)

audio recording

Thursday, 19 March 2015
7:00–9:00 p.m.
Cohen Hall, Penn
“New Testament Apocrypha and Christian Origins from John Toland (1670–1722) to William Hone (1780–1842)”

Annette Yoshiko Reed (Penn; Katz Center)

audio recording

Thursday, 26 March 2015
7:00–9:00 p.m.
Cohen Hall, Penn
“Jewish Communities in the Roman Diaspora:
Why Salo Baron Still Matters”

Seth Schwartz (Columbia University)

audio recording

Thursday, 16 April 2015
7:00–9:00 p.m.
Cohen Hall, Penn
“Hermann Cohen (1842-1918) and Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918) on Prophets and Sacrifice”

Alisha Pomazon (St. Thomas More)


Instead of watching the Dreck on Smithsonian tonight about Bill O’Reilly’s terribly inaccurate and ignorant tale of Jesus, spend your eve listening to actual scholarship.

An Open Letter To The Family of Patrick Sondenheimer

Dear Sondenheimer Family,

I have to ask your forgiveness.  I did not know until today the name of the heroic man who did everything he could to save the ill fated GermanWings flight.  I had heard on news reports the name of the co-pilot and details of his deed.  And I had heard of the heroic efforts of your loved one but I’m so very sorry that the media have never bothered to say his name.

Forgive me for not knowing it before now.  He is, in my mind, the greatest of all sorts of heroes because he simply wanted to set things right.

I won’t forget his name.  This I promise you.  And I will speak well of him as long as I have breath and life.  He is a wonder of humanity and he, and you, have my unwavering respect.  And you, his loved ones, have my unceasing prayers sent heavenward on your behalf.

Yours most sincerely,


Love of God: An Observation

Love for God and reverence (fear) of God are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are bound together essentially. People who talk about love and not reverence are gnostics and people who talk about reverence and not love are legalists.