Daily Archives: 3 Feb 2011

Fun Facts From the History of the Church

Emperor Charles V declared that in his realm (basically all of western Europe) all who denied the Trinity were to be executed.

In Spain, the anti-trinitarian Michael Servetus was burned in effigy for his ghastly remarks including but not limited to ‘god is a three headed monster’.

So escaping to Geneva, he hoped he would be left alone and free to spread his filthy pagan nonsense.

He was wrong.  What happened to him in Geneva would have happened to him somewhere eventually.  He was a dead man walking and it was just a matter of time.

Thus, it’s a tad unfair to be angry at the Council of Geneva for doing what Strassbourg or Paris or Madrid or Bern or Cologne would have happily done.

The BBC Apologizes to Mexico…

For, in my opinion, nothing. People are sometimes completely bereft of the ability to contextualize and interpret. Sadly it seems that the masses in Mexico suffer that inability. But the BBC has apologized anyway.

Top Gear presenters characterised Mexicans as lazy and feckless. In a letter to Mexico’s ambassador in London, the BBC said it was sorry if it had offended some people, but said jokes based on national stereotyping were part of British national humour.

If I might offer some advice to the Top Gear presenters- be sure not to visit Mexico. It’s a killing field as it is and given their attitude towards you I’m fairly confident things would turn out badly.

If You Thought Fountain Woman the Texter Was Inattentive…

Wait till you watch the 10 year old boy who was so busy playing his silly game he didn’t know he was about to fall onto the tracks… I just hope the kid never gets a driver’s license.

Did They Find the Tomb of Zechariah?

Archaeologists in Israel believe they may have stumbled upon the tomb of the biblical Prophet Zechariah in a newly discovered church.  The church, which is more than 1,300 years old, contains massive marble columns as well as exquisite mosaics, the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement.  Archaeologists believe that the church, uncovered in Hirbet Madras in central Israel, is the location marked on the Madaba Map as the tomb of Zechariah, according to Ha’aretz.


The Madaba map is an ancient mosaic map of the region that includes modern Israel. It was found in a sixth-century church in Jordan.  “The researchers believe that in light of an analysis of the Christian sources, including the Madaba Map, the church at Hirbet Madras is a memorial church designed to mark the tomb of the prophet Zechariah,” the IAA said.

And most sensibly of all-

The agency stressed that this is just a theory and requires more research for confirmation.

Naturally as soon as mention is made of finding anything even remotely related to the Bible, there are nearly instantaneous bold and unsubstantiated claims of it proving this or that.  Have they found the tomb?  It’s too early to say.  How such a claim could be proven, who knows.  Unless there’s a grave marker or ossuary bearing the name discovered in situ and undisturbed and examined by real archaeologists and not Hershel Shanks.  Then we might have something.

The NRA: Corruption Reigns There

There’s a fascinating ‘must read’ essay exposing the last several years of the NRA’s history, their goals, their methods, and their reasons.

There was a time, back before the late 1970s, when the National Rifle Association (NRA) represented their members. But not anymore.  Once they fully re-entered the world of politics on the heels of the Cincinnati Revolt, they became corrupted by the very special interest politics from which they claim to protect their members.  With their decision to reject the calculated negotiation of their previous “old guard” board members, who for example, came out publicly in support of a proposed ban on .38 Specials by then-senator Birch Bayh of Indiana, they embarked upon a “no compromise” plan of action for the future.    This, of course, made them natural allies of the gun manufacturers, who like arms dealers everywhere are far less interested in who they are selling weapons to than that they sell as many weapons as possible.  There is plenty of circumstantial evidence that the NRA’s mission has nothing to do with its members, but everything to do with protecting the profits of the gun manufacturers who support the organisation with big bucks – not to mention pay the million-dollar-plus salary of the NRA’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre.

Read the rest.  Very telling indeed.  And very certainly it will enrage the gun lobbyists because it’s the truth.

When You Have Children You Have to Watch Them Every Second…

Or they do gross things (that are gross and funny at the same time!)

Mom fail of the day: looked over at Sophia in her stroller at Taco Bell in the mall…and there she was with a long string of gum from under the table. — (Name of mom with-held to protect the guilty. Suffice it to say, she lives in West Virginia and her husband has a top 10 biblioblog….)

Gum from the table bottom… classic, nasty, and grossly funny all at the same time!

When You’re Not Even Bright Enough to be Dumb…

You’ll use a hole in your floor as an ashtray

An official in Portland, Ore., says a house fire that caused $30,000 in damage was apparently started by tenants who were using a hole in the floor as an ashtray.  Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman Paul Corah says, in his words, “That’s not careless smoking, that’s stupid smoking.”  He says the caller who reported the fire Wednesday also hung up on the 911 dispatcher, then refused to talk when the dispatcher tried to call back for more details.

Need another reason to stop smoking?  It evidently makes you dumb as a stick.

The Making of the New Testament: Origin, Collection, Text & Canon

Originally published in 1995, this 2011 second edition undertakes the task of updating the earlier with more recent research and its results.  I appreciate very much the kind folk (Adrianna Wright in particular) of IVP Academic for sending along a copy for me to take a look at.

You can check out the very extensive table of contents here.

If you check out that table of contents you’ll note that the volume is comprised of seven major divisions.  As Patzia remarks, though, it isn’t the typical ‘introduction’ to the New Testament as it doesn’t concern itself with the usual questions which introductions address.  Rather, ‘… on the issues that inform us how the sayings of Jesus, the traditions of the early church and the thoughts of certain writers such as Paul and others eventually culminated in the New Testament’ (p. 14).  Or in other words, P. is interested in how the New Testament became the New Testament.

That’s why it’s not surprising that he offers a fairly traditional (but definitely not fundamentalist) explanation of the literary world of the New Testament, the making of the Gospels, the making of Paul’s letters and the other NT books, the making of the canon and  text critical issues.

Proof that Patzia is no fundamentalist (and shouldn’t be taken, or read, as one) is his discussion of ‘inspiration’ (in part five amidst his discourse on the making of the canon).  He offers students (and do take note, this is material which beginning students or interested lay persons can most benefit from- it is written with them in mind) a very concise and yet very elegant description of the facts as they stand.  Inspiration wasn’t the basis for inclusion of books in the New Testament, it was the result.  P. quotes Stendahl who wrote

It was not until the red ribbon of the self-evident had been tied around the twenty-seven books of the New Testament that ‘inspiration’ could serve theologians as an answer to the question: Why are these books different from all other books? (p. 173).

If Patzia is an inerrantist or an infallibilitist one cannot detect an overt interest in convincing others that they should adopt such a position.  He just presents the facts without dogmatizing along the way.  He is conservative, but he is well within his rights to be so.

His work is solid, his methodology is sound, and his results are reliable.  What else could one want from a scholarly monograph?  There are even charts, graphs, and informational panels!

If you are looking for a book which will show your students how their New Testament got to be what it is, this is the one.

Egypt is Descending into Chaos

Hosni Mubarak

Things have taken a real down turn there since the peaceful (generally speaking) demonstrations before Mubarak’s ‘I’m going to stay till September’ speech.  Since then… chaos and death and malice and destruction.  And now Egyptians have gotten so desperate for cash (the banks have been closed) that

For over a week, Zaki Abdel-Aziz has been out of work and largely out of money, joining millions of Egyptians living more on hope than cash as the capital plunged into chaos and the economy ground to a virtual halt.  His wife and three children were hungry, tired and tense. There was slightly over 100 pounds ($17) in their apartment, and no way to borrow more. Then a chilling call came Tuesday night.  “The guy asked me, ‘Zaki, you haven’t worked for a week, right? You don’t have money?'” Abdel-Aziz, 45, recalled Thursday. “He said, ‘Come out tomorrow and you’ll get 100 pounds and a bag of food. All you have to do is join us against those traitors in Tahrir.”  Abdel-Aziz, who works in a government records office, angrily rebuffed the offer. “I’m hungry, but I won’t sell my soul to eat,” he said.

And so it goes in Egypt, where the tyranny of the one has given place to the tyranny of the mob.  What a dreadful turn of events.

Devotional Books Worth Reading

I normally don’t mention devotional books because, honestly, I find most of them sugar water and insubstantial Dreck.  But I’ve been re-reading Andrew Murray (whom I first discovered decades ago and confess to having been greatly influenced by) and I thought I’d go ahead and commend him to you.  These are some of his books online-  you can’t go wrong with any of them:

Working For God!

My 2011 Superbowl Predictions

Prostitute waiting for customers.

1- Lots of people will attend the game.
2- Many more will watch on tv.
3- There will be drunks at the stadium.
4- Dallas will host more prostitutes than normal.
5- Fat ugly old guys will purchase said prostitutes.
6- Some wives will find out about their husbands behavior.
7- Many will divorce.
8- Most watching the game will overeat.
9- The rest of the world will wonder what all the fuss is about.
10- The best thing about the game will be the commercials.
11- Churches (falsely called such) will cancel evening worship services.
12- One of the teams will defeat the other team in the game.
13- And how will they do it? They will score more points.
14- The halftime show will be stupid.
15- Next year very few people will even remember who played.

Those are my 15 Superbowl predictions. I guarantee that all of them will come true.

A Random Act of Kindness…

Thanks very much to Chuck Grantham for sending along this volume from my Amazon list. It’s very much appreciated so I wanted to give him what the kids call a ‘shout out’.  Beale is a brilliant scholar and I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read of his so I’m keen to dive in.

Call for Papers: Hebrew Bible, History and Archaeology

The SBL Program “Hebrew Bible, History and Archaeology” is accepting papers for an open session at the upcoming national meeting in San Francisco, November 19 to the 22nd. The session covers the ancient history of Israel and Judah from perspectives that range from archaeology, epigraphy, Semitics, to new methods in biblical interpretation. In addition to archaeological papers, the session particularly encourages the submission of papers that engage the topic through socio-anthropological analysis, interdisciplinary methods, or comparative approaches that involve Egyptian or Mesopotamian studies. Inquiries can be directed at the program co-chairs:

Matthew Suriano – mjsurian@indiana.edu
Jeremy Smoak – smoak@humnet.ucla.edu

Via Jack Sasson

Israel Belongs to Christians- There’s Archaeological Proof!

Everyone else needs to get out.  There’s archaeological proof that Christians were there 1500 years ago and that’s before the Palestinians or the 1947 influx of Zionists.

Israeli archaeologists presented a newly uncovered 1,500-year-old church in the Judean hills on Wednesday, including an unusually well-preserved mosaic floor with images of lions, foxes, fish and peacocks.  The Byzantine church located southwest of Jerusalem, excavated over the last two months, will be visible only for another week before archaeologists cover it again with soil for its own protection.  The small basilica with an exquisitely decorated floor was active between the fifth and seventh centuries A.D., said the dig’s leader, Amir Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority. He said the floor was “one of the most beautiful mosaics to be uncovered in Israel in recent years.”

There you have it.  The land belongs to Christians…

Israelis and Palestinians and all non Christians need to get out.  We will be bulldozing soon and we will use force of arms and any propaganda necessary.  We’ve learned well the lessons taught us by the modern State of Israel.

[Of course this is pure dripping sarcasm aimed at demonstrating the idiocy of claiming land belongs to someone just because there’s some textual or archaeological artifact dating back to some time in the hoary past.  But if Israel can claim the land belongs to it because of various finds and can even displace Palestinians because of that fiction, it’s only fair that the same standards be applied to everyone else.]

Zwingli’s Theology in a Paragraph

Zwingli’s theology is a system of rational supernaturalism, more clear than profound, devoid of mysticism, but simple, sober, and practical. It is prevailingly soteriological, that is, a doctrine of the way of salvation, and rested on these fundamental principles: The Bible is the only sure directory of salvation (which excludes or subordinates human traditions); Christ is the only Saviour and Mediator between God and men (which excludes human mediators and the worship of saints); Christ is the only head of the Church visible and invisible (against the claims of the pope); the operation of the Holy Spirit and saving grace are not confined to the visible Church (which breaks with the principle of exclusiveness).  — Philip Schaff

‘Top Gear’ Isn’t Racist

If you’ve ever watched the BBC’s fantastic show ‘Top Gear’ you’ll know that the presenters banter and carry on and make snarky remarks all the time about everything.  So the claim that they were being racist in recent banter about Mexico is absolutely unfounded and wrong headed.

A Mexican woman has accused the BBC programme Top Gear of racism and instructed lawyers to bring a test case against the show after remarks made by the presenters characterised Mexicans as lazy and oafish.

They’ve said far worse about the French and the Germans and the Americans! Someone just wants a bit of money and sees an opportunity to get it via a suit.

In the episode, which was viewed by more than 6 million people, Richard Hammond claimed that cars imitate national characteristics. “Mexican cars are just going to be a lazy, feckless, flatulent, oaf with a moustache leaning against a fence asleep looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat,” he said. Jeremy Clarkson went on to joke that being Mexican would be “brilliant” because then he could sleep all day.

Banter. Nothing more. Racism? If you want to see racism at its worst visit Mexico… if you dare.

Body Cavity Search via Paralysis…

Suspicious some guy is hiding drugs on his person and want to get to the ‘bottom’ of it?  Just take him to the hospital, have him chemically paralyzed, and do a thorough body cavity search.  You’re sure to find something.  And oh, do it without a warrant…

Read the story and you’ll get to this point-

The officers did not seek a warrant for a cavity search, however. Instead, a naked, shackled and handcuffed Booker was taken to the emergency room of Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge, where Dr. Michael LaPaglia ultimately injected Booker with paralyzing drugs, placed a breathing tube down his throat and recovered what turned out to be 5.7 grams of crack hidden in Booker’s rectum.

It didn’t take the jury very long to find him guilty.  And evidently they believed the officers had sufficient cause to search him without a warrant.

I’m not so sure such a thorough search without a warrant was a good idea.  Sure it gets a thug off the street, but it raises serious questions about the unbridled power of the police.  They could easily claim that they were suspicious of you at your next traffic stop and haul you over to the hospital, have you paralyzed, and then search every opening on your body- all without the permission of an impartial judge.

The question is, are we all willing to see our rights eroded bit by bit and little by little in order to catch one criminal?  I suppose that’s a question Christians too are forced to ponder.

Egypt Overnight

Protesters continued to clash with pro-Mubarak antagonizers.

From a BBC transcription of Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq on state TV:

This is a fatal error, and when investigations reveal who is behind this crime and who allowed it to happen, I promise they will be held accountable and will be punished for what they did … There is no excuse whatsoever to attack peaceful protesters, and that is why I am apologising.

The tragedy continues and reporters have been attacked.  Even Anderson Cooper was smacked around.

CNN has released video of the attack on Anderson Cooper and his crew in Cairo by supporters of President Hosni Mubarak. The video is extremely shaky, but Cooper and his crew are clearly under siege, and Cooper can be heard saying he’s been hit, yelling “calm down” and talking to his camerawoman.