What Rick Perry Doesn’t Know

The Apostle to the Gentiles knew quite well- and says quite profoundly in his letter to the Romans-

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. — (Rom 8:31-34)

Governor, you and your camp only have to fear if you aren’t among the elect. Is that why you’re so nervous?  And I’d much rather have Jesus interceding for me than you and your crowd, Governor Perry.

God of the Living: A Biblical Theology

This looks fantastic:

In God of the Living, noted biblical scholars Reinhard Feldmeier and Hermann Spieckermann provide a comprehensive theology of the God of the Christian Bible. A remarkable achievement, God of the Living joins together the very best of Old and New Testament scholarship to craft a comprehensive biblical theology. Feldmeier and Spieckermann wrestle with the whole of scripture to give a definitive and decisive voice to the church’s central mission—bearing witness to the living God.

Both historical and systematic, God of the Living explores God’s multifaceted, complex, and sometimes contradictory character presented in the scriptures. Yet, whether in wrath or reconciliation, judgment or justification, suffering or salvation, God has given and shares divine life in the person of Jesus Christ. Thus, Feldmeier and Spieckermann uncover God’s profound affirmation of human life, as the God of the living—the God of the Bible—finds fulfillment in relation to the living partners of his own creation.

Baylor’s been doing some fantastic stuff the last few years.  D.V., I’ll lay hands on this one.

New and Forthcoming Volumes in Targum Studies

Via Paul Flesher

The Targums: A Critical Introduction, Paul V.M. Flesher and Bruce Chilton
Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2011 –A new introduction to the Targums of more than 500 pages, covering Targums to the Pentateuch, to the Prophets and to the Writings, and looking at their place in the history of Aramaic, Judaism of the Rabbinic period, and early Christianity.  (Here’s the volume’s flier for ordering).

The value and significance of the targums—translations of the Hebrew Bible into Aramaic, the language of Palestinian Jews for centuries following the Babylonian Exile—lie in their approach to translation: within a typically literal rendering of a text, they incorporate extensive exegetical material, additions, and paraphrases. These alterations reveal important information about Second Temple Judaism, its interpretation of its bible, and its beliefs.

This remarkable survey introduces critical knowledge and insights that have emerged over the past sixty years, including targum manuscripts discovered this century and targums known in Aramaic but only recently translated into English. Prolific scholars Flesher and Chilton guide readers in understanding the development of the targums, their relationship to the Hebrew Bible, their dates, their language, their place in the history of Christianity and Judaism, and their theologies and methods of interpretation.

Targum and New Testament: Collected Essays, Martin McNamara
Tuebingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011 –A collection of essays by Martin McNamara, the influential scholar of the Targumim. The information I have does not indicate whether this is a collection of previously published essays or whether it contains new material.

Michael Klein on the Targum: Collected Essays 1972-2002, Edited by Avigdor Shinan and Rimon Kasher, with Michael Marmur and Paul V.M. Flesher
Leiden: Brill, 2011 –A selection of Michael Klein’s most important essays from the course of his career.

Yes, Starbucks Should Pull the Plug on Loafers

This week the question is asked.

Some of the java giant’s New York City coffee shops are cutting off customers who mistake the cafes for a home office … Is Starbucks justified in cracking down on parasitical laptop loafers?

Some say

No. Let them linger: One of the main functions of Starbucks is to offer an “oddly, slightly sticky armchair” for laptop users, says Zack Whittaker at ZDNet. After all, just last year, the company started providing free Wi-Fi. It’s a place where you can work and enjoy coffee, a wonderful alternative for students to the college library. While no one should get to sit there for hours on end without making a purchase, “blocking off the power points seems to be a step in the wrong direction.”

But I agree with those who say that

Actually, this is completely fair: “What in the world took them so long?” asks Kim Conte at The Stir. While I regularly snatch up a table and a power outlet at Starbucks, I understand that this new policy makes “perfect sense.” Laptop loafers rudely hog all of Starbucks’ space, leaving little room for other customers to enjoy their coffee. “If it takes covering up electrical outlets now and then to teach people to be more considerate, then so be it.”

Indeed. It’s tiresome to go into Starbucks for a cappuccino only to have to stand around to drink it because all the seats are taken by people on laptops who aren’t even drinking anything!

Kick the bums out, Starbucks. Kick the bums out.

Calvin: On Why God Punishes Sin with Death

Laszlo Szlavics Jr.: John Calvin memorial meda...

Let the children of God remember that all sin is mortal, because it is rebellion against the will of God, and necessarily provokes his anger; and because it is a violation of the Law, against every violation of which, without exception, the judgment of God has been pronounced. — John Calvin

Sin kills because rebellion against God is worthy of death. Lesser punishment would only result in worse rebellion, and let’s be honest, the world just simply couldn’t take that. Neither could God.

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America, Repeat After Me…

ἡ ἐπιθυμία συλλαβοῦσα τίκτει ἁμαρτίαν, ἡ δὲ ἁμαρτία ἀποτελεσθεῖσα ἀποκύει θάνατον. (Jam 1:15)

Posted in Modern Culture | Comments Off on America, Repeat After Me…

What Monday Will Look Like on Wall Street

It will look just like this.

Saudi shares drop 5.5 percent to their lowest close in nearly five months, weighed by petrochemical and banking shares, after S&P downgraded the United States’ credit rating.   The United States lost its top-tier AAA credit rating from Standard & Poor’s on Friday in an unprecedented blow to the world’s largest economy in the wake of a political battle that took the country to the brink of default.  “The market is being hit by the action of Standard and Poor’s,” says Saudi economist Abdulwahab Abu Dahesh.  The index of the largest Arab bourse falls to 6,073 points, its lowest close since March 16, after suffering its biggest daily decline since March 1.

It will look the same in Asia.  Welcome to the cusp of the new Great Depression.

Is Democracy Done in Israel and is it About to Become a Theocracy?

In the opinion of MJ Rosenberg, New laws aim to make democracy subservient to the orthodox religious beliefs of a minority of citizens. He so truthfully observes

Netanyahu has no interest in negotiations. What he wants is to prevent the Palestinians from taking their aspirations for statehood to the United Nations this autumn. He thinks they are so brainless that they will accept an empty offer from him rather than try something new, something which – whether it succeeds or not – will fundamentally change the political terrain in a way Netanyahu most certainly will not welcome.

More evidence of the utter phoniness of Netanyahu’s new stance comes with the news that the Knesset is now considering a bill – supported by 40 legislators from Kadima, Likud, and Yisrael Beiteinu – that would, according to Haaretz: “make democratic rule subservient to the state’s definition as ‘the national home for the Jewish people’.”

The lead sponsor of the bill says that it is intended to give the courts legislation that supports “the state as the Jewish nation state in ruling in situations in which the Jewish character of the state clashes with its democratic character.”

The bill is likely to pass – 20 of the 28 members of the “moderate” Kadima party have joined Likud in pushing it – which would mean that Israel will be making that long-predicted choice between being democratic or Jewish – a choice that would be unnecessary if Israel gave up the 1967 territories.

Members of the Knesset, it seems, are prepared to lay aside democracy, giving Israel the freedom to hold on to all the territories while continuing to not give democratic rights to the millions of disenfranchised Palestinians who live there.

The legislation, should it pass, would represent the most significant change in Israel’s history. Israel would be embracing the idea of theocracy over democracy. Until now, Israel has always insisted that it is no different than the United States or any modern country – where church and state are separated.

Everyone who loves freedom for all should be VERY concerned about this turn in Israel.  It is appallingly ignored, though, in media here in the States.  And yet Israel may soon become the same sort of theocratic nation as we have in Saudi Arabia and other repressive Mid-Eastern states.

Umm… Self Hosting Your Blog May Not be the Best Move…

Look what happened to poor J.R. Daniel Kirk– his blog is infected with malware and google searches point folk looking for erectile dysfunction medicines right to him:

Conversely, my WordPress hosted blog is protected from such wickedness:

But then on the other hand, a lot of people look for cialis.  So maybe Daniel is on to something, even if that something is a bit misleading…

At any rate, Daniel is soon to be the go to biblioblog for those with erectile dysfunction!  So Kudos!

How Academic Celebrities Distort Learning

Or, how academia serves the wider purposes of government policy.

James Crossley has been arguing that academics, and especially biblical scholars, often serve the policies of western governments. He’s not alone in that opinion. This book looks like something everyone actually interested in the search for truth should read (though its focus is middle eastern studies, the parallels to much in biblical studies is self evident).

Nearly thirty years ago, as a first-year undergraduate, I was assigned to read Elie Kedourie’s essay, “The Chatham House Version.” It was an exacting refutation of an entire school of error, one that rested on a nihilistic philosophy of Western guilt, articulated by a self-anointed priesthood of expertise. It captivated me then, as it does even now. In the years that followed, I witnessed my own chosen field fall under the spell of the same idea, propagated (as befits America) by celebrity professors and their fans. Since that time, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.” But the spell is now diminished. Might it be broken?


Middle Eastern studies used to resemble a quaint guild, emphasizing proficiency. Now they more closely resemble a popular front, demanding conformity. Professional success depends, in large part, upon deference to certain icons and their defense. And so this is unavoidably the work of an intimate stranger, one who, these last twenty-eight years, has entered and exited the American arena many times, first as a student, and later as an occasional visiting professor and research fellow. Its insights have been sharpened by the experience of directing a major (foreign) academic center for Middle Eastern studies, and observing the American campus many times from a Washington window.

In the context of biblical studies, what phrase better describes the work of Ehrman and Avalos and other angry atheists than ‘a self-anointed priesthood of expertise’ whose ideas are propagated by ‘celebrity professors and their fans’?  And, be honest with yourself just for a moment, how very true is it that even in the field of Biblical Studies

Professional success depends, in large part, upon deference to certain icons and their defense.

Give the book a read.  It’s free and downloadable.  With thanks to Joel for the tip to this very intriguing essay.

It’s Nice To See How the Church Kids Really Feel…

From Facebook, where I’m friends with Brandon, one of our Church kids (and I call him a kid even though he’s married to a wonderful wife and they have a beautiful little girl). I’ve known him most of his life (I’ve been here over 18 years) and I never knew he felt this way about me… Ya live, ya learn…

Get Up and Get That Kid Out of Here!

Nothing says more about the spirit of a Church than its treatment of children.  So would your church tell someone to leave because their child was autistic?

I have been asked to leave church more than once because my son is autistic and can be disruptive. It is painful for our family to miss church, but we have spent more years outside of the church than inside.  Families with autism need to feel welcome in the church in order to be healthy and strong. There are a lot of people like Kevin who need the healing powers church can bring.

Perfectly understandable and I agree completely.  But of course what of the needs of the other members of the congregation to be able to hear and participate in worship?

Somehow or other churches need to learn to welcome even those who make worship difficult and parents of special needs children need to learn to be patient until congregations wrestle with a balance.  Disparaging a church because one’s very presence forces it to evaluate itself is unfair.  And asking someone to leave because their child is in special need is unchristian.

Dysfunctional Politics

No, not the credit downgrade, the war in Afghanistan’s rising toll on American lives.

A Nato Chinook helicopter has been shot down by Taliban insurgents, killing 31 American special forces soldiers in one of the worst single incidents in Afghanistan.

Dysfunctional politics, it’s what keeps us in Afghanistan.