Daily Archives: 23 May 2011

On Biblical Studies and the Media: Matthew Kalman

Matthew (a journalist in Jerusalem and London) writes

Re: biblical studies and the media

Joe Zias: “When I contacted the media three days after S Jacobovici’s Jesus nails press conference…” – and there you have it.

Dear Joe, dear everyone: Three days after is three days too late. We write the story on the day and we don’t usually get another chance. It is very rare to be able to re-visit a story three days later. We have to get reaction and expert guidance on the day, between the announcement and our deadline, within hours, not days.

Admittedly, we sometimes make mistakes because we have to work so fast, but if we don’t work fast, we don’t work at all.

On the “Jesus nails” story, the IAA was even worse. They issued a laconic, non-committal statement on the day, and then a thundering denunciation a week later, by which time the story was literally last week’s fish and chip paper.  One ray of hope: I didn’t publish anything on the “Jesus nails” because all my editors thought it was such obvious garbage.

Matthew Kalman
Jerusalem Correspondent
+972 544 554999

The gist, then, is that we have to get word out about nonsensical claims nearly simultaneously with those claims or there’s little point in saying anything since it will be too late too long after (even if that ‘too long’ is a paltry 3 days!).

With thanks to Matthew for his point of view.

How Can I Vote For Someone Who Drinks?


I’m sure glad none of my friends drink…  If they did, I couldn’t vote for them either!  Plus, I’d ask them to drink tea when we hang out so that I don’t have to subject myself to their staggering and belching.

Mike Kok’s New Blog: The Gospel According to Mark

Mike’s blog is here.  I guess I’ll add it to the roll for a while (until he falls out of favor or stops posting for a couple of weeks).

Mike introduces himself thusly-

My name is Michael Kok (pronounced like ”Coke”) and I am currently a PhD candidate at the University of Sheffield working on the reception of Mark’s Gospel.  For my profile on the Sheffield Biblical Studies homepage, see here.  This blog exists to complement my PhD research on the gospel of Mark and to make that scholarship available to an online audience.

He’s a Canadian but I don’t think that should make us automatically loathe him (as though he were an Aussie).  In fact, he’s a good kid and I like his wit and humor.  Now if he would only pay when we have coffee at various meetings… cheap thing…

Anyway, check his work out.  It’s solid and sensible.

What the Arab World Heard Obama Say…

Obama to Israel: Take Whatever You Want.

Even if you are a rabid Zionist you owe it to yourself to read this essay if for no other reason than to understand the Palestinian issue from a non Fox News propaganda perspective (which pretty much is the American media’s take on the issue as a whole).

In his latest speech, Obama’s thinly veiled rhetoric proves he will do anything to satisfy his pro-Israel voter base. In 2008, Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, pandered to pro-Israeli voters and Israel by promising in a speech addressed to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), that Jerusalem would forever remain “the undivided capital of Israel”. Three years later, Obama is on another pre-campaign trail in order to improve his chances for re-election in 2012. As part of this campaign, he has made a new round of half-hearted attempts to revive the stalled “peace process” completely under Israel’s terms. In his latest speech addressed to AIPAC, Obama promised Israel everything short of allegiance by reaffirming America’s commitment to Israel’s political and security goals. His speech denied the right of Palestinians to declare a nation and he even vowed to block any peaceful Palestinian efforts to claim their legal rights at international organisations. Obama’s lip service to Palestinian “self-determination” is nothing more than vacuous rhetoric – as he clearly implied that Israeli interests, especially its security, remain the top priority for American foreign policy in the region.

It really is the truth you know. It just is. And it’s why Israeli interests trump all others. It’s also why there’s no peace there, and why there won’t be.

The Joplin Tornado Death Toll is Now 116

So sad.  NPR has a satellite image of the massive storm that struck the city.  And the Weather Channel has reported that the tornado is now one of the 10 deadliest in US history. People who pray really should do it for that place.

More Political Dirtbaggery

Politicians…  Do you know what they remind me of?  The remind me of those miserable excuses for parents who derisively tell their children ‘do what I say and not what I do’, as though the rules only applied to those under them and not to them themselves.

Elizabethton Mayor Curt Alexander was cited in Johnson City on May 20 for patronizing prostitution.  A Johnson City police report lists Richard Alexander, 39, as being cited for patronizing prostitution at a hotel on Broyles Drive.  City officials confirmed that the man cited was the mayor.  The report says Alexander paid a prostitute $80 for sex, and he was cited without incident.  Mayor Alexander is due to appear in Washington County Sessions Court on June 16.  His prostitution citation follows the arrest of another East Tennessee elected official, Rhea County Executive George Thacker, for patronizing a prostitute earlier in May.

Who do I feel sorriest for?  His family.

He and his wife, Claudia Lane Alexander, have two children.

God help and bless them.  It must be a horrible thing to be married to a politician.  Finding a decent, honest one is like trying to find a righteous man in Jerusalem.  (Jer 5:1).

Indeed, Michael, Indeed

I agree completely.  Dialogue may not result in agreement but if the persons in discussion are wise, it at least results in understanding.  Astonishingly, there are still Protestants who think Catholics aren’t Christian and there are some Catholics who believe the same about Protestants.  Both are, it has to be said, wrong.

Our differences too often divide and we really do have more in common than some are willing to admit.

But such ignorance isn’t unique to the backward and uninformed.  When a friend (as it so happens, one of my former New Testament profs) heard that I was a member of the CBA he said, and I quote, ‘but that makes you neither fish nor fowl’.  As if one couldn’t be a Protestant and learn from (and even teach) Catholics.

In my estimation, dialogue happens when people are willing to listen more than they talk.  That ability seems to be lacking in many of our colleagues, Michael, but let’s not be deterred.  Nashville and Rome may never reunite; but that doesn’t mean you and I can’t hang out at SBL or CBA and learn from one another.

Maybe Celebratory Mocking Isn’t The Best Idea…

They jumped off the bridge into the Kalamazoo River to celebrate that the world did not end.   But that spontaneous celebration resulted in the apparent drowning of a 18-year-old Kalamazoo youth.   Two hours later, Jordan Skinner-Knapp was standing in the parking lot of Comstock’s Merrill Park. Still wet, he was thinking about his friend, Anthony Alexander Johnson, who was swept away in the river’s current.   Jordan, 15, said he and a group of five friends went to Merrill Park on Saturday, the day the world was suppose to end according to a highly publicized prediction by evangelist Harold Camping.  Jordan said they told Johnson to not go into the water because he said he couldn’t swim well.  About 6:25 p.m., they all jumped off the east side of the bridge and started swimming. Jordan said the river current overwhelmed Johnson.  “Save him — someone save him,” Jordan yelled…

Another victim of Harold Camping?  No- another victim of decisions poorly made.  And very sad indeed.

Semantics and the Semantics of ברא: A Rejoinder to the Arguments Advanced by B. Becking and M. Korpel

Journal of Hebrew Scriptures – Volume 11: Article 9 (2011)

Ellen van Wolde and Robert Rezetko, “Semantics and the Semantics of ברא: A Rejoinder to the Arguments Advanced by B. Becking and M. Korpel

Abstract: Becking and Korpel argued that ברא should be construed as “to construct.” Van Wolde and Rezetko respond to their arguments with a critical review of earlier biblical studies, reflections on biblical and extra-biblical semantics including studies of verbs expressing “separation-events,” etymological studies including evidence from Samaritan texts, and a more complete analysis of various Biblical Hebrew verbs and proper names. These studies lead to the conclusion that Van Wolde’s proposal that ברא should be construed as “to spatially separate” remains a viable explanation for the semantics of this verb.

To access the article directly please go to http://www.arts.ualberta.ca/JHS/Articles/article_156.pdf

It Must Be Book Day!

Aside from the three volumes I just mentioned which came for review also arriving is Megan Bishop Moore and Brad Kelle’s Biblical History and Israel’s Past: The Changing Study of the Bible and History which I saw at ASOR in Atlanta (in pre-publication form) and ordered a copy (yes, ordered and paid for!).  The title alone was enthralling (right up my alley, so to speak) and the contents equally intriguing. It’s what I would call a ‘history of methodology’ or a ‘Methodologiesgeschichte’ (copyright Jim West and may not be used without my express written permission and at a fee of $5 each use).

Moore and Kelle provide a comprehensive yet accessible survey of the ways in which the study of the Old Testament and Israel’s past have progressed since the middle of the twentieth century — trends that have till now been difficult for nonspecialists to access and follow. Beginning with the patriarchs and matriarchs, Moore and Kelle summarize major scholars, viewpoints, issues, and developments in the field of study for each major epoch of Israel’s early history. Each chapter includes pull-boxes explaining key terms and concepts, discussion questions to deepen understanding, and suggestions for further reading.

Since I paid for it I naturally won’t be reviewing it.  But I may from time to time mention some of its ideas.  I mention it only because I think a lot of people may find it interesting (not least those interested in the whole ‘how do we do history without having the bible in one hand and a spade in the other’ question).

UPDATE:  Since the TOC isn’t online, I snapped some photos of it.  Sorry the quality isn’t the greatest but if you fully enlarge them you’ll get the gist.  And I can’t change the order to the correct one- so there’s that too.

Quote of the Day

Poor Jerusalem, captured today in 63 BC by Pompey. Then re-taken by Herod the Great today in 37 BC. – Dorothy King

Can There be Hope in the Very Midst of Disaster?

I was thinking of the people of Joplin this morning and this passage seemed appropriate-

16After I had given the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah, I prayed to the LORD, saying: 17Ah Lord GOD! It is you who made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. 18You show steadfast love to the thousandth generation, but repay the guilt of parents into the laps of their children after them, O great and mighty God whose name is the LORD of hosts, 19great in counsel and mighty in deed; whose eyes are open to all the ways of mortals, rewarding all according to their ways and according to the fruit of their doings. 20You showed signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, and to this day in Israel and among all humankind, and have made yourself a name that continues to this very day. 21You brought your people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs and wonders, with a strong hand and outstretched arm, and with great terror; 22and you gave them this land, which you swore to their ancestors to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey; 23and they entered and took possession of it. But they did not obey your voice or follow your law; of all you commanded them to do, they did nothing. Therefore you have made all these disasters come upon them. 24See, the siege ramps have been cast up against the city to take it, and the city, faced with sword, famine, and pestilence, has been given into the hands of the Chaldeans who are fighting against it. What you spoke has happened, as you yourself can see. 25Yet you, O Lord GOD, have said to me, “Buy the field for money and get witnesses” — though the city has been given into the hands of the Chaldeans  (Jer 16).

Even when things are as bad as they can get- God offers hope for a better tomorrow.

‘Family Radio’: Already Back to Fleecing the Gullible Flock

Anyone who sends ‘Family Radio’ one red cent deserves to lose what they give.  Without missing a beat, the pseudo-ministry is back to fleecing the flock and ripping off the gullible.  Unsurprisingly.

As Tom notes concerning their new website

  1. It was updated on May 22, 2011.
  2. No mention of judgment day.

Truly people, do not give to support this fraud. Send your money to a charity helping the people in Missouri if you send it anywhere.

It’s Hermann Gunkel Day

It was May 23rd, 1862 that the astonishingly brilliant Old Testament scholar Hermann Gunkel was born.  Amazingly, in contrast to many scholars (whose books go out of print or end up in the dollar bin in a few months) Gunkel’s work is still being published and is still very much worth reading.

Educated at the University of Göttingen, Gunkel taught there and at Halle, Berlin, and Giessen. A leading member of the History of Religions school, he stressed the literary values of the Old Testament by comparative study of the legends on which it draws, particularly in Genesis, Psalms and the Prophets, on which he published works in 1901, 1903, and 1917. Extending his researches beyond current dogmatic interpretations, he promoted the study on literary-historical lines of the religious history of Israel, publishing Die israelitische Literatur (1906; “The Literature of Israel”) and Die Urgeschichte und die Patriarchen (1911; “Earliest History and the Patriarchs”). He contributed Psalmen to the Göttinger Handkommentar zum Alten Testament (1910; “Göttingen Ready Reference Commentary on the Old Testament”), assisted in the first edition of the religious encyclopaedia Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart (1903–13; “Religion in History and the Present”), and was coeditor of the second edition (1927–32). Together with Wilhelm Bousset he founded the series Forschungen zur Religion und Literatur des Alten Testaments und des Neuen Testaments (1903– ; “Research into the Religion and Literature of the Old and New Testaments”).

Happu Gunkel Day!

Joplin, Missouri

True terror there last night with, according to NPR this morning, up to 75% of the city destroyed with at least 89 dead at this point.  It’s hard for me to imagine that sort of devastation.  Certainly there will be, and should be, plenty of aid for the folks there.  But overcoming such disasters always takes lots of time.

Joplin- we’re praying for you.  No answers to offer concerning the huge ‘why’ dangling in the back (and front) of everyone’s mind.  Just hoping to help somehow.

A massive tornado that blasted a four-mile path across southwestern Missouri slammed into this city with cataclysmic force, ripping into a hospital, upending cars and leaving only a forest of splintered tree trunks behind where entire neighborhoods once stood.  An unknown number were killed in Joplin on Sunday night, and officials struggling to communicate without power and cell phone service were leery of putting a hard figure on a death toll they feared would rise after daybreak.

Michael Barber: Catholics, Saints, and Answers

Check out part two of Michael’s answer to a query I posed a while back.  He commences

In this post I continue my response to the thoughtful concerns regarding the Catholic understanding of the communion of the saints offered by my Baptist friend and biblioblogger extraordinaire, Jim West.

I’m not quite persuaded but his thoughts are quite intriguing.   I look forward to what’s next.

More Pastoral Misconduct

Up in Kentucky

A Harlan County minister has been charged with several sex crimes. Jeremy Dewayne Caraway, 36, pastor of Loyall Church of God, was arrested Sunday by Kentucky State Police.  The state police post in Harlan received a call Sunday morning about a pastor possibly molesting a girl under 14 who is a member of his congregation, a state police press release said.  Caraway was arrested and charged with two counts of second-degree rape, two counts of first-degree sexual abuse, two counts of second-degree sodomy and two counts of first-degree unlawful transaction with a minor. Caraway, who has pastored numerous churches over the past several years.

Bummer.  I wish these guys would just stop it.  Or follow Jesus’ advice, ‘if it causes you to sin, cut it off’.  Origen did.  Why don’t these guys?