The Ideal Church for the ‘Rich Young Ruler’ – Joel Osteen’s…

A rich, young ruler looking for salvation was proud to announce Wednesday that he finally found a place to call home at Lakewood Church.

Calling the revelation “powerful” and “moving,” the wealthy, powerful lover of money said he knew Lakewood Church was the place for him after his lifestyle was affirmed and praised by lead pastor and famous author Joel Osteen.

“This place just makes me feel so comfortable,” the man told reporters. “I came in and told Pastor Joel I was a good person and had kept all the commandments from my youth, and asked him what I still lacked—and do you know what he said? He told me I didn’t lack anything, that I was great just the way I am.”

The young man further stated that other churches had tried to confront his love of money and challenged him to make Jesus his first priority, and that he had just gone away sad.

“That’s not what Jesus would have done,” he said confidently.

Yup.

News From Oxford

Via James Aitken-

A large gathering for the first of the Oxford seminars in the series: “Greek Expanded, Greek Transformed. The Vocabulary of the Septuagint and the Cultural World of the Translators”. Jan Joosten spoke on how the Septuagint came about, emphasizing we should not overstate its special beginnings but recognize how religious terms and ideas in Hebrew had already been rendered in Aramaic, paving the way for Greek renderings. He went on to describe features of LXX vocabulary, how the vocabulary was put to use to render religious terms, and how these terms then caught on in the history of the language among Jews and Christians.

Prof Teresa Morgan in a response raised a number of pertinent questions, including: how far are changes unintended accidents from the translation process? Given that in Hellenistic education, anyone who could read and write at all would have a grasp of classical Attic, why did the translators choose non-literary Koine? Can we see the impact of LXX anywhere else than in Christian texts? And does it matter for our interpretation of words that the text has been a subject of 2000 years of exegesis?

A lively discussion followed, revolving on how to really understand Septuagint vocabulary, on the relation to the Hebrew, and on the translation process.

[abstracts not written by the speakers]

Arguing with Radicals

Huldrich_zwingli 8In the middle of January, 1525, Zwingli and the other Pastors in Zurich were in a pitched battle against the radicals who were then urging their followers to abandon the Reformation and speed ahead with a total severance from society.  1525 would become the year during which Zwingli spent the majority of his time battling these ’causers of unrest’.

Indeed, things had already developed to such a threatening level to the well being of the city that in December the year before Zwingli had written  his scathing Wer Ursache gebe zu Aufruhr. In March of 1525 Zwingli published De vera et falsa religione commentarius, which took a swipe at both the old believers and the radicals.   In April the trial of some rebaptizers was observed by Zwingli; in May his Von der Taufe… appeared.   In June, Von den Predigtamt took to task those asserting pastoral and preaching privileges even though they lacked the appropriate tools.  And in November, the Antwort über Balthasar Hubmaiers Taufbüchlein saw the light of day.

All of these books were ‘conflict’ oriented and 1525 was perhaps the most conflict ridden of Zwingli’s life.   And that doesn’t take into account the opening of a front against an inaccurate understanding of the Lord’s Supper which was then developing and would come to a head at Marburg in 1529.

Notwithstanding all these disputations and difficulties, Zwingli maintained a cheerful disposition.  Depression and despair would stay away until 1531, when early in the summer, he would try to resign.

The historically ignorant to this day constantly insist that the Radicals were chiefly interested in infant baptism and its abolition.  This is not the case.  Nor is it the case that they insisted on baptism by immersion- since they were happy both to sprinkle and to pour.  No, their aim was far more inappropriate: they wanted a Church separated from society.

As Schaff puts it so pointedly:

The first and chief aim of the Radicals was not (as is usually stated) the opposition to infant baptism, still less to sprinkling or pouring, but the establishment of a pure church of converts in opposition to the mixed church of the world. The rejection of infant baptism followed as a necessary consequence. They were not satisfied with separation from popery; they wanted a separation from all the ungodly. They appealed to the example of the disciples in Jerusalem, who left the synagogue and the world, gathered in an upper room, sold their goods, and held all things in common. They hoped at first to carry Zwingli with them, but in vain; and then they charged him with treason to the truth, and hated him worse than the pope.

Zwingli could not follow the Anabaptists without bringing the Reformation into discredit with the lovers of order, and rousing the opposition of the government and the great mass of the people. He opposed them, as Augustin opposed the schismatical Donatists. He urged moderation and patience. The Apostles, he said, separated only from the open enemies of the gospel, and from the works of darkness, but bore with the weak brethren. Separation would not cure the evils of the Church. There are many honest people who, though weak and sick, belong to the sheepfold of Christ, and would be offended at a separation. He appealed to the word of Christ, “He that is not against me, is for me,” and to the parable of the tares and the wheat. If all the tares were to be rooted up now, there would be nothing left for the angels to do on the day of final separation.

The Radicals couldn’t and wouldn’t tolerate such sensibility.  So they stirred civil unrest.  That the authorities could not tolerate, and the Radicals reaped the whirlwind.

Palestine Exploration Fund 2018 Grant Applications

APPLICATIONS FOR 2018 GRANTS ARE NOW BEING ACCEPTED – DOWNLOAD THE POSTER HERE:

PEF Grants 2018.pdf

Application Form and Procedure — The following forms and notes are available to download here:  PEF grant form (PDF | DOC)  PEF reference request form.  Grant Notes 2018.pdf.  Follow our grants researchers in the field by visiting our blog at:  www.pef.org.uk/blog/

With thanks to Jonathan Stökl for the mention on the twitters.

Greek, and then City

The Greek session went very, very well, I think.  Such perceptive and quick students.  In two class sessions they have nearly mastered the Greek alphabet and are already easily reading the list of names in Matthew 1.  Plus, we had a great time discussing the not ever boring passage.

The Job session went well last night as well.  Or so it seems.  One participant writing:

I learned so much more about what’s going on in the book of Job in the two hours with Dr. Jim West than all the days that I had spent reading it by myself in the past!

That, as anyone who teaches knows, is about the most gratifying and uplifting sort of thing you can ever hear.

Anyway, all the sessions seem to be very well received.  And this city is just a joy.  The evenings are especially nice because it seems to come alive even more than during the day.  Here are some photos:

Oh the Irish…

An Irish woman fed up with searching for the perfect man has married the ghost of a 300-year-old pirate instead – and says he’s her “soulmate”.

Amanda Teague, from Drogheda in Co Louth, has married a Haitian pirate named Jack who died in the 1700s, and the fact he’s dead doesn’t bother her.

The 45-year-old’s friends and family attended the wedding on a boat off the Irish coast. The couple then went on honeymoon to the North.

Amanda, who now lives in Downpatrick, near Belfast, insists they are like any ordinary couple, they have arguments, go on dates – and even have sex.

Yeah, she’s as batty as the people who ‘marry’ cars or bridges or dogs.  Has she ever considered the notion that maybe she’s not a prize catch herself, which is why she can’t find a willing guy?

A Proposed Reading of a New Aramaic Fragment

Via Richard Steiner-

Here is a preliminary attempt to read two lines of the papyrus as Aramaic with Hebrew admixture:

[kz]hr h$[m]$ ywm ‘l ywm pqy hzhry — like the shining/brilliance of the sun every day come out (fem.) and shine (fem.)

The oldest parallel is וְהַמַּשְׂכִּלִים יַזְהִרוּ כְּזֹהַר הָרָקִיעַ (Dan 12:3). The closest Jewish parallel I found in a quick search is in a commentary on Pirqe Avot: זיו פניהם כזהר השמש מאירים ומזהירים.

He is responding to this news report-

A papyrus puzzle: an unidentified fragment from 4th century Oxyrhynchus

The Hebrew Manuscripts Digitisation Project team has just started working on five papyrus fragments, which are some of the earliest Hebrew texts we have at the British Library. The fragments are a fascinating mystery, one that we hope you can help us solve.

In 1922, the almost 70-year old Egyptologist Flinders Petrie discovered some papyrus fragments written in Hebrew script during an excavation in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt. These fragments were acquired by the British Museum that year, and are now held in the Oriental Collection of the British Library under the shelfmarks Or 9180A, B, C, D, and E.

As you can see here, the papyrus fragments are housed all together in one glass frame. Papyrus documents have been traditionally housed in glass since the late 19th century, when people first started to think about how to study them without handling them directly. It is still considered the most suitable storage method for papyri as glass is inert – papyrus requires a highly stable chemical environment due to its high salt content. Static is also problematic as papyrus is very fibrous, and the rigid nature of glass frames means that they can be handled without disrupting the material. The imaging team at the British Library were able to produce incredibly high quality images of the fragments through the glass, which has enabled us to research them fully without risking damaging them.

We are not able to precisely date these fragments, but the current consensus is that they are from the fourth century CE. Three of them (A, B and E) are poems, all written in Hebrew language and script. Fragment D is a Greek contract, with Hebrew text in the margins, which is probably also of a legal nature. Fragment C is written in Hebrew characters however the language – except the last three lines –is yet unidentified. This is where our mystery lies – and perhaps it is about to be uncovered by one of you.

As you can see here fragment C actually contains two pieces: a small piece on the left and a larger one on the right. Photographs of the Or 9180 fragments have been published in various articles over the years, in 1923, 1971 and 1985, and we have been able to use these to ascertain that the position of the two pieces of C have changed over time. In all of these publications, the smaller piece was attached to the lower left side of the larger piece. Today however, the smaller piece is situated at the upper left side of the larger one.

If you have a closer look at the arrangement above, you can see the matching strands of the fibres within the papyrus, and that the three lines of text on the smaller fragment are perfect continuation of the last three lines of text in the larger piece. This shows that the earlier arrangement of the fragment was correct, and that what might have happened is that the left part of the fragment had broken off from the larger piece when the fragment was rehoused at some point after 1985. Thanks to the digitisation project, we were able to prove this theory by virtually reconstructing fragment C without risking damaging the original fragment.

In its reconstructed form, the last three lines of the papyrus, first deciphered by Hartwig Hirschfeld in 1923, become once again legible: The so-called colophon – the last three lines of Or 9180C. These lines were written in Aramaic and have been identified as a colophon[1]:

אנה שא[ול] בי לעזר כת[ב]ת אלין כת[בי]ן שלום על ישראל אמן ואמן סלה

I, Saul son of [E]leazar have written these wri[tings]. Peace be upon Israel. Amen and amen, selah

The 14 lines above the colophon are a real mystery though, both in terms of language as well as content. It seems that this fragment was originally a list of words in two columns, but now only the right column has remained more or less intact, with just small traces of the left column visible. For us, the real challenge is to identify the content of this fragment. Over the years various suggestions have been made, such as: a kind of Latin and Greek vocabulary; a list of gnostic charms; magical incantations; an inventory of articles; and a list of Latin names.[2]

Although Fragment C contains Hebrew characters, unlike the other fragments in Or 9180, the language is not easily identifiable. It was not uncommon for Jews to use Hebrew script when writing in a language other than Hebrew. Among the most widely used are Judeo-languages are Judeo-Arabic, Yiddish and Ladino (Judeo-Spanish). Ancient Jewish Greek literature however was almost always written in Greek script.

Our initial approach to deciphering this fragment was by looking into what languages the Jews of Egypt spoke in the Late Antique period:

Four languages are of value: loaz (‘foreign language’, i.e. Greek) for song, romi (i.e. Latin) for war, sursi (Aramaic/Syriac) for dirges, and Hebrew for speaking (Palestinian Talmud, Sotah 7)

We can see here in this quote from the Palestinian Talmud, compiled in the 4th century CE, that the Jews of the period were multilingual. Evidence shows that the Jewish population would have been exposed to Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, although they may not have been equally fluent in all of them. Greek became one of the main languages if not the main language of Egyptian Jewish communities of the time. They used the Greek translation of the Pentateuch, the Septuagint, which was mostly compiled by Alexandrian Jewish scholars in the 3rd century BCE -2nd century CE.

The language of this fragment was discussed further at a workshop organized by Platinum(specialists researching Latin papyrus fragments) at the University of Naples Federico II in May 2017. The participants there concluded that the language could not be straightforwardly identified as Aramaic, Greek or Latin. There were some reservations though. Rabbinic literature of the Hellenistic period is rich in Latin and Greek loanwords, but they are often very different from their original forms. For example: a word may not have simply been transliterated, but would have gone through some phonetic and accentual changes. They can preserve lower register (colloquial or slang) words of spoken Greek or Latin that are unattested in literary sources, and were not recorded in dictionaries. Consequently, the fragment we are dealing with could contain such low register Greek or Latin words written in Hebrew script. On the same basis, it could also have been written, perhaps, in a local Aramaic dialect. A further possibility, which as far as we know has not yet been looked into is that the text of the fragment could be the local Egyptian language (Coptic) in Hebrew script.

As well as the mystery of the language, another question to consider is why this text would have a colophon with a blessing at the end? It would seem unnecessary at the end of a list of articles, or a list of names. This might be more plausible if the text was of a magical or mystical nature.

Such a small fragment and so many questions. Our aim with this blog post is to draw attention to this fascinating and mysterious text. Perhaps one of you can solve the puzzle? If you think you have a solution, or further questions, please get in touch with us on Twitter @BL_HebrewMSS. We look forward to hearing from you!

Zsofi Buda and Miriam Lewis, BL Hebrew Project

Today With Calvin

On this day in 1537 Calvin published his

Articles concerning the Organization of the Church and of Worship at Geneva proposed by the Ministers at the Council January 16, 1537

Which begins

Right Honourable Gentlemen: it is certain that a Church cannot be said to be well ordered and regulated unless in it the Holy Supper of our Lord is always being celebrated and frequented, and this under such good supervision that no one dare presume to present him self unless devoutly, and with genuine reverence for it. For this reason, in order to maintain the Church in its integrity, the discipline of excommunication is necessary, by which it is possible to correct those that do not wish to submit courteously and with all obedience to the Word of God. Further, it is a thing very expedient for the edification of the Church, to sing some psalms in the form of public devotions by which one may pray to God, or to sing his praise so that the hearts of all be roused and incited to make like prayers and render like praises and thanks to God with one accord. Third, it is strictly required and quite necessary for maintaining the people in purity of doctrine, that infants of tender age be so instructed that they are able to give reason for the faith, so that evangelical doctrine is not left to decay, and also that its substance be diligently maintained and transmitted from hand to hand and from father to son. Finally out of the tyranny which the! exercised in the matter of marriage and the iniquitous laws which he imposed, many controversies persist. To settle them, it would be advisable to make certain ordinances by which they may be controlled, and, if any difference of opinion arise, to take appropriate steps for composing them.

It’s a grand work, still worth reading.

Quote of the Day

Don’t try to get revenge for yourselves, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. It is written, Revenge belongs to me; I will pay it back, says the Lord.  Instead, If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. By doing this, you will pile burning coals of fire upon his head.  Don’t be defeated by evil, but defeat evil with good.  (Rom. 12:19-21)

You Probably Should Believe in Everlasting Torment…

Because some people really deserve it.

Two Southern California parents are being held on $9 million bail each after a horrific discovery over the weekend at a residence in Perris, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said Monday.

An investigation began after a 17-year-old girl “escaped” early Sunday morning from her home in the 100 block of Muir Woods Road and called 911 to report her 12 brothers and sisters were being held captive by their parents, according to a sheriff’s news release.

She alleged some of her siblings were bound in padlocked chains.

Responding officers initially believed the “slightly emaciated” girl was only 10 years old until she provided her age.

After interviewing the teen, investigators went to the residence and contacted her parents, identified as 56-year-old David Allen Turpin and 49-year-old Louise Anna Turpin, according to the release.

Investigators discovered “several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings,” the release said. The parents could not provide a “logical” explanation for why the kids were restrained, investigators said.

Authorities located what they thought were 12 children but were “shocked” to find out seven of them were adults. In all, the victims are between the ages of 2 and 29, the release stated.

They looked to be malnourished and filthy, authorities said.

Yes.  Some people definitely deserve it.