Daily Archives: 16 Jun 2011

The Bible on Trial: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

TV specialThe Bible on Trial: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt will air across United States this summer. Using the courtroom as a dramatic backdrop, The Bible on Trial examines crucial evidence related to the Bible’s authenticity. Experts in Biblical manuscripts, ancient Neat Eastern archaeology, history and New Testament studies offer their analysis and scholarship on the issue of whether or not the Bible is a book that is worthy of our belief. With subtitles in Spanish and English, viewers can watch The Bible on Trial on June 18 anywhere the Inspiration Network is available. This includes Dish (Channel 259), DirecTV (Channel 364) and 2,800 other local cable systems around the country.

Here in the eastern zone it airs at 6 pm. Unfortunately I will be otherwise occupied. If you watch it, I’d love to hear your impressions.  Given the venue I’d say it will be rather conservative in orientation.  I.e., angry atheists won’t appear as talking heads.

Reconsidering the Concept of Revolutionary Monotheism

Forthcoming this year from Eisenbrauns:

In February, 2007, a conference entitled “Reconsidering the Concept of ‘Revolutionary Monotheism'” was convened on the campus of Princeton University. The meeting was unique in that it brought together scholars who were engaged in various disciplines of research, and though all were involved in the geographical area of the ancient Near East, everyone brought a different expertise to the question of how to approach the concept of the divine. What followed, in the course of two days, was an intense debate regarding the issue stated in the title of the conference; the dialogue was productive, and the papers—which were reworked in the wake of the conference and in accord with the interaction among the participants—are useful perspectives on the vexing topic of monotheism and the divine.  The papers in the this volume are presented by John Baines (gods in New Kingdom/Third Intermediate period Egypt), Gonzalo Rubio (Mesopotamian pantheon), Francesca Rochberg (polytheistic cosmogony in Mesopotamia), Beate Pongratz-Leisten (astralization of gods in Mesopotamia), Peter Machinist (dying gods and cosmic restructuring), Mark S. Smith (cross-cultural recognition of divinity in Israel), Konrad Schmid (monotheism in the Priestly texts), John Collins (king and messiah as Son of God), and P. O. Skjærvø (Zarathustra and monotheism).

Having had the chance to read Gonzalo Rubio’s contribution I can easily say that if the other contributions are as good, this should be a very useful collection.

Michele Bachmann’s Memoirs

File this under the ‘something else I won’t be reading’ category.

SBC 2011 Annual Meeting Wrapup

Via Baptist Press, such things as

It was the lowest-attended annual meeting in 67 years, with just over 4,800 in attendance, but the substance of the meeting led plenty who attended to argue it shouldn’t be judged on numbers.


“Coming back to the authority of Scripture was a correcting point that had to take place [in the SBC], but the mission is to fulfill the Great Commission,” Wright said. “I think this was the most unified convention around the Great Commission that I have experienced. People came here with anticipation of that unity.”


The Executive Committee’s landmark report on ethnic diversity was the focus of national media attention … The report’s language encourages the SBC president, when he makes his various appointments, to “give special attention to appointing individuals who represent the diversity within the Convention, and particularly ethnic diversity.” It also encourages the committee in charge of the annual meeting to reflect the ethnic diversity of the convention in the meeting program. A motion that would have struck the ethnic diversity language was defeated by a margin of 3-to-1. The Executive Committee report, delivered after a two-year study, cites the “need to be proactive and intentional in the inclusion of individuals from all ethnical and racial identities within Southern Baptist life.”

Good for us.

Nick Clegg the Atheist Hypocrite

Christianity is false- except when you want to give your boys an excellent education, and then it’s off with them to Catholic School.  Typical atheist dirtbaggery: denounce faith until it suits you to embrace it.

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, indicates he may send his children to a leading Roman Catholic secondary school, despite having declared himself an atheist.

If he really were an atheist he would keep his sons out of Catholic school the same way a Christian would avoid sending his sons to an Islamic school.

Mr Clegg, who has spoken of his opposition to faith schools, is understood to have toured the London Oratory, the state school to which Tony Blair sent his sons. The Oratory is one of the most sought-after schools in the country and Mr Clegg is considering sending his three sons there even though there are several secondaries, including a Catholic one, closer to his home in Putney, south west London. He dismissed claims that his atheism was an issue, pointing out that his wife, Miriam, and her family are Catholic.

Clearly showing that even in atheist families it’s the wife who wears the pants.  Anyway I don’t believe he’s an atheist at all.  I believe he’s one of those politicians who sticks his finger in the wind and decides what he is based on polls.

Israel is Worried About Cottage Cheese

Apparently even more than they are about Palestinian statehood (which they’ve never mentioned in connection with a Facebook campaign).

Using the same social networking tool that has helped to fuel political revolt in the Middle East, more than 60,000 people in Israel have rallied to a call to defend a beloved staple of their society. Cottage cheese.  Removal of some government controls on dairy products last year has blown the lid off the price of the locally made small curd cheese. Facebook pages are calling for a month-long boycott of the product starting on July 1.

Ah priorities…

That’s Very, Very Bad

Thanks to Jer Bailey for pointing out this absurd story of insane depravity.

Police say there’s a woman stealing from purses in the middle of church services all over the Houston area and some people may not even realize they’ve fallen victim to her.  One of the churches hit by the thief is Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in northwest Houston, say police. But it’s the video from another church that investigators want you to watch closely.  Sheriff’s deputies believe she has targeted victims across the city and as far away as Galveston — and in a place those victim’s least expected it.




The Emergent Boozers May be Censored in China…

But I’m not.  And that’s all that really matters anyway, isn’t it.   If you’d like to see if your website or blog is censored in the great People’s Republic, you can find out here.

Why am I not prohibited in China?  Let’s face it, denunciations of Depravity are valid worldwide.  And the Chinese censors understand that.  Even in China, where there’s repression, morality matters.

So, to all you good people in China-



An Interesting Poll

Over at ESPN’s SportsNation page in the aftermath of the Vancouver riots-

The Vancouver Riots: Disturbing Video

So disgraceful.  Here’s video of a guy trying to get looters to stop and for his decency he gets pummeled and left bloodied.

Despicable. It’s just a stupid game and the victims of the violence and looting had absolutely nothing to do with the loss! But the violent are never reasonable. Yet they are always contemptible. And celebratory over their perversity. Canada became a different country last night. And not for the better.

Bidding Farewell to Congressman Weiner

CNN has just reported

Embattled Democratic New York Rep. Anthony Weiner will resign his seat in the House of Representatives, a senior Democratic source says.  Weiner, who represented New York’s 9th District since 1998, admitted earlier this month that he had sent lewd images and messages over the Internet to six women and more illicit relationships had emerged since then. The congressman had taken a two-week leave of absence “to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person,” his spokeswoman said.

Two words: about time.

What Did Ancient Mesopotamian Sound Like?

Thanks to Jim Aitken for sharing this link on Facebook-  Irving Finkel recites Assyrian.

Go to the link and give it a listen.

Answering Your Letters

Dear Jim,

Would you recommend an online bibliographic search tool?  I’ve seen some but I wonder what you would suggest.  Thanks, and thanks for the most entertaining of all the biblioblogs.

Terry G.

Thanks Terry.  There are actually two bibliographic search engines that I’ve found very, very useful over the years.  The first, and this really has to take pride of place, is the Bibil site.  It’s hosted by our friends at Lausanne (and they also have a facebook page which lists updates and additions whenever they appear- very useful indeed).

And the second, from the University of Innsbruck, Bildi.  Don’t worry that these two sites will just catalog German or French materials- they have everything under the sun, including English.

I’ve got links to both on the sidebar under ‘useful sites’.  I hope this helps.

Today with Zwingli: The First War of Kappel

Originally published in Froschauer's of Zurich...

On the 16th of June Huldrych Zwingli was asked by the Zurich city council to write ‘Articles of Peace’ on the basis of which the First Kappel War could be brought to an end.  He did so, in eight brief articles.  Four of these were of primary importance and as Schaff puts it these four articles were non-negotiable-

1) That the Word of God be preached freely in the entire confederacy, but that no one be forced to abolish the mass, the images, and other ceremonies which will fall of themselves under the influence of scriptural preaching; 2) that all foreign military pensions be abolished; 3) that the originators and the dispensers of foreign pensions be punished while the armies are still in the field; 4) that the Forest Cantons pay the cost of war preparations, and that Schwyz pay one thousand guilders for the support of the orphans of Kaiser (Schlosser) who had recently been burnt there as a heretic.

The first Kappel War wasn’t much of a war at all though-

The hostile armies faced each other from Cappel and Baar, but hesitated to advance. Catholic guards would cross over the border to be taken prisoners by the Zürichers, who had an abundance of provision, and sent them back well fed and clothed. Or they would place a large bucket of milk on the border line and asked the Zürichers for bread, who supplied them richly; whereupon both parties peacefully enjoyed a common meal, and when one took a morsel on the enemy’s side, he was reminded not to cross the frontier. The soldiers remembered that they were Swiss confederates, and that many of them had fought side by side on foreign battlefields.

Unfortunately the peace the parties reached would be broken two years later at the Second Kappel War, where Zwingli, while serving as Chaplain, would be killed.

Schaff goes on to observe of the Peace Accord of 1529

After several negotiations, a treaty of Peace was concluded June 25, 1529, between Zürich, Bern, Basel, St. Gall, and the cities of Mühlhausen and Biel on the one hand, and the five Catholic Cantons on the other. The deputies of Glarus, Solothurn, Schaffhausen, Appenzell, Graubünden, Sargans, Strassburg, and Constanz acted as mediators.  The treaty was not all that Zwingli desired, especially as regards the abolition of the pensions and the punishment of the dispensers of pensions (wherein he was not supported by Bern), but upon the whole it was favorable to the cause of the Reformation.

So it took less than 10 days for the parties to come to final terms.  Zwingli, it has to be noted, wasn’t a party to the negotiations- that was left to the government.  His role was simply that of theological adviser since it was his Reforming effort that had brought about the breach between the Cantons.

The President of the Southern Baptist Convention Meets with Homosexual Activists

Baptist Press has a report which includes these interesting bits-

A coalition of homosexual leaders and their allies met for more than 30 minutes Tuesday with Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright, with the leaders demanding an apology from the SBC and Wright refusing to budge, saying that Scripture is clear on the issue.   The remarkable meeting — cordial the entire time — took place between the morning and afternoon sessions of the SBC in Wright’s annual meeting office at the Phoenix Convention Center.


“We’re a coalition of groups asking the SBC to acknowledge and apologize for the damage that the convention has done to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” Jack McKinney, a heterosexual married man told Wright at the beginning of the meeting. McKinney is a spokesperson for Faith in America and a former Southern Baptist minister. McKinney and the other leaders repeatedly made parallels between racism and a stance against homosexuality. Sixteen years ago to the day, McKinney said, Southern Baptists passed a resolution apologizing for past racism. …  “Obviously, we don’t feel that there can be an apology for teaching sexual purity,” Wright, pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., said. “As followers of Christ, our only authority for practicing our faith is Scripture, is the Word of God…. As followers of Christ it would be very difficult for us to betray our faith by ignoring what God says about sexual purity.”  The Bible condemns both homosexual sex and heterosexual sex that is outside the bonds of marriage, Wright said.

And as much as some might like to adjust it, Wright’s understanding is correct.  And he was also correct to remark

“When I teach from the pulpit about adultery, I don’t hate adulterers,” Wright said. “Just as we have people attending our local church that are engaging in homosexual activity, we have people attending our church who are engaging in adultery. I don’t hate those people when I speak about adultery. I am just, hopefully, loving them enough to speak the truth about what God desires for the best for that person.”

Quite right.  All of our churches are filled with liars, tax cheats, hypocrites, thieves, adulterers, and probably even some gay folk.  None of them are hated.  All are urged to move closer to Christ and further from sin.

And then most respectfully and non-confrontationally,

“Jesus Christ came to die for all of our sins, whether it’s heterosexual sin or whether it’s homosexual sin…. For a society to come along at this stage in history and all of a sudden say that one of the … areas that Christ has no power” over is “homosexual behavior is really elevating the importance of that behavior above the power of Christ.  “Looking at sexual purity from Scripture, we’re not going to be able to come to common ground. I hope you all would respect that we’re just seeking to follow Jesus.”

Indeed.  Well done.  It would simply be disingenuous for the SBC to apologize for adhering to the clear teaching of Scripture.  We would, at that moment, deny the truth.  That can’t be done even if it means Southern Baptists are viewed unfavorably for it by some corners of society.

Colloquium Reminder: God Behaving Badly

David Lamb will be our guest on the Biblical Studies List June 20-27 for a colloquium. Specifically, we will be discussing with David the ideas contained in his newly published volume God Behaving Badly.  We’d love to have you join us when we commence on Monday.

Newt, Go Ahead and Get Out

Your paranoia is showing and there’s just no way in this or any parallel universe that you’re going to be the Republi-can’t nominee.  Your campaign isn’t in shambles because of ABC or the people smart enough to get away from you.  It’s in shambles because of you.  You aren’t in any respect Presidential.  Get out.  Save yourself the further humiliation of losing every primary.

Newt Gingrich accused ABC News on Wednesday of doing a “hit piece” and ignoring the facts when it reported on Gingrich using money from his charity to pay one of his for-profit companies.  Appearing on Fox News’ On the Record with Greta van Susteren, Gringrich said, “That report is so inaccurate.  Reverend Jim Garlow of San Diego, who’s the head of Renewing American Leadership, sent me a very despairing email yesterday and said he told the facts to the ABC reporter and he was told by the ABC reporter frankly they didn’t care what the facts were and they were going to do a hit piece and they actually literally didn’t care what the facts were.”

ABC might not care what the facts are but Newt’s problem is and always will be Newt.  Again, Newt, get out. You’re embarrassing yourself.

Joel Watts, The New Leader of Al-Qaeda?

Oh, no, sorry, apparently not.  It seems that instead of choosing that wicked Joel the wicked al-qaedians have chosen bin Laden’s #2, Ayman Al-Zawahiri to lead their feckless band.

He’ll be our next target so it’s probably not the best job to have.  Unless he stays in Pakistan.  Then he’ll be ok.  The government of Pakistan loves to cooperate with terrorists as much as it loves to grasp American money.

Seven Newly Digitized New Testament Manuscripts, And Other Stuff

According to the British Library

A new batch of manuscripts has now been published online, and contains 24 manuscripts ranging in date from the tenth to the nineteenth centuries. They include a group of illustrated medieval manuscripts of the gospels, formerly owned by the celebrated English physician and book collector Anthony Askew (fl. 1699–1774), acquired by the British Museum in 1775. Also included is a tenth-century parchment manuscript of Old Testament fragments (Add MS 20002), acquired in parts from Sinai by Constantin von Tischendorf (1815–1874) during his second journey to the East in 1853, which came to the British Museum in 1854. Another part of this manuscript is housed in the Bodleian Library at Oxford (Bodleian Auct. T. infr. ii. 1). A further highlight is an eleventh-century manuscript of Symeon Metaphrastes’s Saints’ Lives for December (Add MS 11870), which bears ownership marks of Cardinal Salviati (d. 1553) and Pope Pius VI (1775–1779).

Read the rest. With thanks to Tommy W.