Papyrology Bingo

When some new papyrus or manuscript comes to light, play bingo with it!  Via Jona Lendering.

John Macarthur

He’s the ignorant man’s idea of a theologian, and the historically uninformed man’s idea of what it means to be Reformed.

The Deplorables Out Deplorable Themselves

Republican Christians Credit God for Killing Elijah Cummings.

Jesses Lee Peterson, the right-wing commentator and pastor, used his radio program to declare, “that’s what happens when you mess with The Great White Hope”. (Peterson is black, and that is his nickname for Trump).  Peterson was so impressed by God’s homicidal abilities he added to the list

“If you notice, John McCain, he dead. Charles Krauthammer, he dead. And Elijah Cumming, now he dead. They all didn’t like The Great White Hope, they went against him, they talked about him, now they all dead. That’s amazin’.”

His is a very unChristian Christianity.  There were others. Dave Daubenmire declared that Cummings was an “enemy of the cross” — whatever that means.

Chris McDonald, vocal right-winger and conspiracy theorist, streamed a special edition of his “The MC Files” devoted to abusing the recently deceased. He and his guest, Pastor Stacey Shiflett, spent the entire program attacking Cummings as corrupt, unbiblical, and ungodly – and asserting that God had taken his life because of his opposition to Donald Trump.

Here’s a sample:

“You’ve got a leader that has been in office for over 30 years, that opened the door on unfettered abortion in this country. His civil rights icon status was a joke because he did nothing to bring rights to his people; all he did was divide, all he did was play the race card.”

He added that Cummings was a corrupt and lawless leader who waged “a cooked, deceptive, demonic attempt” to take down Trump.  Finishing with: “Everything that he’s done has been nothing but trying to take this president out. I believe that God had had enough, and God moved.”

These people aren’t Christians.  But they are deplorable.  If you agree with them, you’re deplorable too.  And not a Christian.

Fake Archaeology News, Again…

Ha’aretz has a story whose headline is A Chance Discovery Changes Everything We Know About Biblical Israel.

Fake news. Read the essay and you’ll know why the headline is misleading. And fake news.

Today in Luther’s Life

1520lutherOur Saxon friends write

Am 19. Oktober 1512 werden Martin Luther als Zeichen seiner neu erworbenen Doktorwürde Doktorhut und Ring überreicht. Er ist nun Doktor der Theologie.

And then

Nur Tage später (on the 20th of October, 1512) tritt er an der Wittenberger Universität eine Professur für Bibelauslegung an, die er sein Leben lang behält.

A more significant Professor of Biblical Studies there has never been.

Quote of the Century

When at academic conferences…

I wish chairs would hold presenters to time. Allowing one speaker to hold a session hostage with an egregiously long paper robs all of us of the opportunity for scholarly exchange. – Susan Cogan

OH how TRUE!  Do it!

How A Saturday Can Go Awry

So, here’s the thing, I went over to my daughter’s house today to get her mail and check the house (because she’s out of town for the weekend).  And lo and behold, when I opened the garage door water was gushing out of the hot water heater….

Blerg.

I cut off the water and called a friend who is skilled at such things and while awaiting his arrival I swept out all the standing water and after he arrived and assessed the situation and we picked up the necessary supplies and a new hot water heater, we set to work installing it.

Or, more precisely, he set to work installing it and I handed him stuff.

It took most of the day.  Because we ran into several soldering issues.

But it’s fixed and working well and heating water and now of course I’m paranoid about it so I turned one of her house cameras towards the water heater and I’m checking the live feed maniacally every 39 seconds to see if there’s any puddling.

It’s good to have friends.  He saved us a ton of money on installation and the water heater was fairly priced at Lowes.  So, after all the trouble and anxiety, everything is set to order.

How was your day?

Quote of the Day

The differences among Christians are nothing in comparison of the differences among heathens. The truth is, religion is such an illustrious, noble thing, that dissensions about it, like spots in the moon, are much more noted by the world, than about any lower, common matters. Men may raise controversies in philosophy, physic, astronomy, chronology, and yet it makes no such noise, nor causes much offense or hatred in the world: but the devil and corrupted nature have such an enmity against religion that they are glad to pick any quarrel against it, and blame it for the imperfections of all that learn it and should practice it.  — RICHARD BAXTER

In Which Zwingli Is Asked About Rumors of Promiscuity

On 19 October, 1522 the Cantonal Clerk of Schwyz wrote Zwingli the following letter in which he relates to Zwingli various charges of promiscuity which are swirling around concerning him (along with other matters).  The letter is quite respectful and it is very clear that the Clerk doesn’t believe the charges, but wishes to have Zwingli’s response in order to silence his enemies.

Min früntlichen gruoß, heyll unnd alles guot wünsch ich üch in Cristo Jhesu, unnßerm herren.

Nachdem unnd ich ein besundern gunst zuo mier tragende von üch gespürt hab alls “Ein getrüwe warnung, unßer vatterlandt z ͦbeschirmen” von üch insunders enpfieng, darab ich nit wenig erfröwt, üch des billich hochen danck sag; dann es, ob gott will, so vyll unnd mier müglich, sin krafft unnd die meinig, dorum es erdicht, in mier würcklich handlen soll. Unnd so dann ich yetzo kurtz vergangner zytt durch ettliche priester, min Der Schreiber gibt u (im Anlaut v) und seinen Umlaut, ebenso uo und seinen Umlaut durch dasselbe Zeichen wieder, gewöhnlich durch ü resp. ü. In unserm Abdruck  sind beide auf Grund der Etymologie auseinander gehalten.

Zweifelhafte Fälle: dürch, brüder, hinderrücks, pfründen, anthwürt.  guot günner, gereitzt, minem allten fürnemen abzuostan, unnd mich ettlicher maß uff die evangelische ler unnd meining alls den rechten weg der selikeytt gebogen, deßhalb mir ettliche kleine büchly unnd ermanungen, mich darin zuo erlernen unnd erlustigen, in min huß getragen, unnd namlich eins durch üch gebredigott unnd den erwirdigen geistlichen frowen zuo Zürich  in Ödembach zuogeschribenn, vom großen münster am vj. tag Septembris in dißem jar, wysende “Don der klarheit unnd krafft deß wortz gottes” etc.; unnd so me ich mich darin ersuoch unnd befindt der frucht, ye me min sell enzünt wirt nach denen geistlichen lustbarkeitten hungerig zuo sin unnd durst zuo haben nach den himelschen ergetzlikeyttenn: vermag ich durch mich selbs nitt, sunder bin in hoffnung, der allmechtig habmich darzuo gezogen; dann ich dißn dingen hievor unverstanden widerfacht gentzlich davon nüt hörren wollt.

Harum, lieber bruoder in Cristo, lassendt üch min frävelheit, an üch zuo schriben, nit wunder nemen; dwyl unns doch angeborn, zuoflucht zuo haben an die end, dahar er sich allermerst trostz versicht. Ist kein wunder, das ich harinn zuo üch besunder zuokerren; dann alls ich üch vor ettwas jaren necher dann yetz gesessen, schampt ich mich nit, üch anzuorüffen um hillff, mier unnd minen kinden zitlichen hunger abzuowenden, darin ich von üch gantz unverlaßen, sunder millte hanntreichung täglich enpfieng, um weliches guot üch gott widergellt thüy etc. So das um den zyttlichen hunger beschechen, den mier gott durch sin gnad abgestellt – dem lob sy in ewikeyt – wie vyl mer soll ich mich trostz zuo üch versechen um den hunger miner seel, dwyll unnd ich weißt [!] üwer gröste neigung unnd begirlich fröid sin, die Cristen zuo furen uff den weg warer cristenlicher liebe.

Dwyll unnd wier dann alle glider sind in Cristo Jesu, unnßerm houpt, verhoff ich, min hunger sölle üch wie mier angelegen sin; deßhalb ich üch vermanen unnd bitten in Cristo Jhesu, unnßerm lieben herren, dwyll unnd mich gott durch sin sunder gnad mit kranckheit angeregt, ouch ich mins amptz halber so vyll beladen, das ich an die ortt und end, da man semlich ding veyll hatt, nitt kommen kan, das yer mier semliche liebliche bücher, die yer erkennennt mier aller bequemost sin zuo der liebe gotz unnd cristenlichen leben; dann ich darzuo ein semliche neigung gewunnen, das mier nüt me angenemers ist, dann in sölichen cristenlichen dingen mich zuo erlernen unnd leßen, zuo frucht mier unnd minem hußfölckly unnd allen denen, so darzuo neigung haben.

Hierin wellindt mich in brüderlicher trüw bevolhen haben, mier semliche bücher ußzuozüchen unnd mier zuo schicken mit schrifftlichem bericht, was sy kosten; will ich dorum by cristenlicher trüw früntlich bezalung thuon etc. Dwyll unnd ich dann ein besundere früntliche neigung zuo üch hab, deßhalb ich ungern hör ützit ungerattes von üch sagen, mag ich nit verhallten die schmach, so üch hinderrucks um der warheit willen zuogelegt: zum ersten, so fließen üwer bredigen nit uß guotem grundt, sunder uß nid unnd haß, syendt leckersbuoben; zum andern so schelltendt unnd schmützent yer nun die geistlichen oberkeytt, worum nit ouch den keyßer unnd die welltlichen fürsten? dorum daß sy üch beschirment; zum dritten, dwyll unnd yer das evangelium so lutter wellint machen, gepürte es, das yer im ouch nachleptindt (möcht davon ein yeder bewegt werden, üch nachzuovollgen!); so aber yer überflüssiger in buobery dann ander lebendt, sy ein zeichen üwer unwarheit.

Das regt nun üwer person allein nit an, aber dis: ier habendt zwo oder dry pfruonden erbredigot, das yer deßter mer huoren gehaben mögent unnd deßter baß üwer pracht mit tantzen, pfiffen, singen, seittenspil gehaben mügt, etc. Unnd so man semlich reden zuo vyll malen brucht unnd durch vyll personen gesagt, so der warheit widerfechten, um daß sis nit mögen erliden, begerte ich, yer welltendt mich zimlicher anthwurt hieruff zuo geben berichten, wo ich semlichs oder derglichen mer hörren wurde, semlichs von mier in keiner andern meinig dann in cristenlicher  trüw zuo vermercken, damit yer unnd ich die warheit deßter baß beschirmen  mögen.

Hiemit bevilch ich mich üch in cristenlicher brüderlicher trüw nach minem vertruwen. Hiemit wellindt mier ouch sagen min dienst unnd gruotz  bruoder Cuonratten zuo Küßnacht. Beger hierin früntlich anthwurt, so  erst das sin mag.

Datum Schwytz am 19. Octobris a 15xxij. üwer underteniger Balltassar Stapfer,  lanndtschriber zuo Schwytz.

Dem erwürdigen wollgelerten geistlichen herren Huldrichen Zwingly,  lüpriester zuo Zürch bim grossen münster,  minem gnädigen lieben herren unnd cristenlichen bruoder.

Zwingli’s full response is lost.  What a tragedy.

Today In Brunnerian History

October 19, 1946 was a momentous day in the life of Emil Brunner, for it was on that day that Dogmatics Volume 1 was published, and it was also the day upon which he received an Honorary Doctorate from Princeton University.  Congratulations are in order (or at least would be if he were still alive).

Fun Bultmannian Facts

The Conditions Under Which Imprecations May Be Uttered

We are not to pronounce an imprecation on our enemies, except, first, they are God’s enemies; and, secondly, except we disregard ourselves, and plead not our own cause, but, on the contrary, undertake the cause of public safety, having laid aside all turbulent feelings; and especially, except our fervour arises from a desire to glorify God. With these qualifications, then, we may adopt the form of prayer [of imprecation] given us here [in Lamentations]. — John Calvin

Good news indeed!  Let the imprecatory prayers commence.

The Utter Immorality Of a Political Party in America

This is what the GOP has become.  This is the level to which they have descended in their fawning trumpism.  And it’s disgusting.

Sen. Ken Cramer (R-ND) on Trump’s decision to award G7 summit to his own Miami property: “It may seem careless politically, but on the other hand there’s tremendous integrity in his boldness and his transparency”

The Senator doesn’t know what the word integrity means.  And neither does the GOP.

People Are OK With David Being a Murderer, But They Can’t Stand the Thought of Him Being a Rapist

Isn’t that crazy?

The essay linked is pretty good, by and large.  And not altogether poor in its understanding of the Bible.  But this part is excellent:

When the issue is whether David murdered Uriah, readers generally feel free to expand how the Old Testament murder law should be read. But when we ask whether David raped Bathsheba, then some readers push back demanding precision around what the law says explicitly about rape.

Both Jesus and Nathan’s focus on the intent and motives of the heart give us good reason to look beyond the letter of the law. The story of David and Bathsheba is not a story of adultery or an affair, but one where a powerful man is sexually exploiting a vulnerable woman and is willing to use coercive power to call her to his chamber and cover up his actions.

Perhaps more intriguing than determining David’s motives is our own determination to spare him from disrepute. We don’t want David to be a rapist. We actually find it easier to stomach him being a murderer of a man than an abuser of a woman.

And, if the preponderance of sermons is any indication, Christians have historically been willing to slut-shame Bathsheba to keep any stink (beyond adultery) off of David. It’s nonsensical, particularly because in Scripture, Bathsheba is never accused, indicted, or even maligned in any way for what happened.

Read the whole.  David the murdering rapist may not really deserve to be adored as he is.

If You’re Attending AAR/SBL 2019 in San Diego- The Meeting App is Now Available

And you can acquire it here.

Yahoo is Closing Down ‘Groups’

Consequently, the ‘Biblical Studies Discussion group’, which has been operating for several decades, without any say in the matter, will end when Yahoo shuts it off. I suggest those interested in discussions on matters biblical studies join the facebook group for our list-

https://www.facebook.com/groups/950335828332216/

Yahoo hasn’t explained why they are taking this action- here’s the report-

https://news.yahoo.com/2019-10-16-yahoo-groups-to-shut-down.html

I hope to see you over on the facebook. And I’ve enjoyed the several decades we had together on the email list. I genuinely hope we can continue on the other platform.

A Delightful Little Phrase of Luther

Whilst discussing the glories of heaven, Luther compares them to

the latrine* of this life.

Isn’t that brilliant!

___________
*Luther’s German is a bit too crass for most public consumption, since he literally says ‘shit-house’. But that’s Luther for you. Simultaneously crude and brilliant.

Quote of the Day

Proponents of American political Evangeliculture believe they are soldiers in a spiritual warfare against satanic secularism. Instead, they are tools in a worldly warfare against flesh and blood.  — Michael Svigel

It’s Maurice Casey’s Birth-iversary

casey_fsToday is the anniversary of Maurice Casey’s birth.

Maurice Casey was one of the best known scholars of the New Testament presently (or more properly, recently) working in the United Kingdom. He was a tireless researcher who devoted his life to a serious and, insofar as this is possible, an independent investigation of the New Testament freed from dogmatic constraints. Or more particularly, to the life of the Historical Jesus.

In the last years of his life Maurice suffered a series of ailments which left him weakened and stymied and yet he persevered manfully through his “valley of the shadow”. As he worked on his final publication (and certainly not knowing that it would be his final publication) he grew progressively weaker, progressively worse. And yet he was so troubled by the rise of the ‘mythicist’ movement that he was determined to see the project through to the end. I’m grateful that he was able to.

He’s worth remembering, on his birthday especially.  I said so last year and I’ll say so next.

Zondervan Essential Companion to Christian History

The Zondervan Essential Companion to Christian History gives you what it promises: the essentials. This highly informative, broad-ranging book provides vital facts on the growth and impact of Christianity from the apostles to the present day not only in the Western world but also globally, including the development of Eastern Orthodox and Armenian Christianity, as well as considering Christianity in Latin America, Southeast Asia, the Baltic and Slavic states, and India. The companion is organized by century, going through the major events, ideas, and personalities that have shaped Christian history around the world.

Following a brief introduction that outlines the key events of the New Testament era, there is a chapter devoted to each century of Christian history beginning with the year 100 and ending roughly at the year 2000. Each chapter flows chronologically featuring:

  • A brief overview, highlighting the main threads and issues running through the relevant century
  • Key historical developments explained
  • Thematic connections between centuries
  • Color-coded sidebars on Persons, Ideas, or Events
  • Persons: key figures either within or without the Church who have impacted Christian history significantly or who otherwise deserve special mention
  • Ideas: important Christian books, as well as heresies, doctrines, or political movements
  • Events: world-historical occurrences such as battles, natural disasters, inventions, or elections that have affected the development of Christianity in the world

The final chapter, devoted to the present century concludes the companion identifying key themes that the Christian Church is presently dealing with and suggesting future issues. A select Glossary of terms is provided at the end of the book, as well as a bibliographic list of suggested reading.

My review of this useful, if imperfect volume follows.

Backhouse traces the history of Christianity from the first days of the Christian movement to the early 21st century and he does it in less than 225 pages.  That in itself is a fantastic accomplishment.  What’s more, each page is lavishly illustrated with charts, maps, photographs, artwork, and all manner of illustrative materials.  There are also ‘sidebars’ with information essential to readers and to students.  And finally, at the conclusion of the volume, there is a glossary of terms.

This work is written for the student and as such, is self-limiting.  Backhouse cannot cover everything and he doesn’t.  Nor should he have.  But what he does cover is by and large exceedingly accurate.    His short bits on topics like Justin Martyr, the Decian persecution, the conversion of the Slavs, the Crusades, Jan Hus, the anti-papacy sentiments leading up to the Reformation, Indulgences, and many, many, many other aspects of the history of the Church in East and West are treated accurately and insightfully.

There are, however, important imperfections in the volume as well.  My purpose in pointing out one in particular is not to be pedantic, it’s in hopes that in future editions the error will be corrected.

In his treatment of The Swiss Reformation (pp. 145f) Backhouse asserts that

In 1536 the leadership of the Swiss Reformation passed to John Calvin (1509-1564), a former priest fleeing persecution in his native France.

This is incorrect.  Indeed, it is well known among specialists of the Swiss Reformation that it was in fact Heinrich Bullinger who was the de facto and de jure leader of the Swiss reformed movement.  And it was not until well into the 1560’s that as Bullinger’s health began to fail that Reformed Christians began to turn towards Calvin’s works for guidance.  Nonetheless, during his lifetime, Bullinger was the undisputed Reformed theologian who had to be taken account of.

For instance, Bullinger was consulted by Reformed communities all around Europe and as far north as Britain.  His correspondence extends beyond 10,000 letters and his network of interconnections with Reformed theologians was unsurpassed.  Indeed, during the Servetus episode Calvin sought Bullinger’s guidance and when it came to debates about the meaning of the Lord’s Supper, it was Bullinger’s view that Calvin adopted (along with everyone else) rather than vice versa.

Of course Backhouse shouldn’t be expected to go into all of that.  But he should, I think, at least have mentioned Bullinger who, all should know, was far more influential among the Swiss Reformed and in Europe at large than Calvin was during his lifetime.  Calvin came into his greatness after he died.  Bullinger was great while he was still alive.

And Backhouse certainly shouldn’t have said that Calvin achieved leadership of the Swiss Reformed movement in 1536!  In 1536 no one knew who Calvin was except a few French refugees.

That said, I still love this book.  I think it should be read by everyone interested in Church history.  Not just students, but experts.  Why?  Because it is the single best overview of the history of Christianity I’ve yet seen.

It may have its imperfections, but it is still beautiful.