Mark Asks, ‘Why Blog’

I reply to him and all- because academics who don’t engage culture and society with responsible scholarship and who only care whether what they write is publishable in book form are

1- out of touch and behind the curve; and
2- driven more by economic considerations than a genuine desire to teach.

Teachers teach- that’s what they do.  Scholars share their ideas- it’s not as if they can help it.  Scholars don’t hunt and peck for ideas to write about but rather their real problem is narrowing down from the thousands of ideas they have the one which will occupy them in the present moment.

For those to whom sharing ideas, writing posts, thinking ‘out loud’, and pondering with a wider community those thoughts which drive and – in a sense – possess them, is a ‘waste of time’ I can only say ‘then the whole of your life would be better spent selling insurance or engaging in some telephone solicitation’ because scholars who don’t burn with passion for learning and teaching should serve the public in some other fashion or form than academics.

If telling others what you’ve learned or what you are presently learning is a waste of time, academics isn’t the field for you, and blogging is something you should avoid because you’ll seldom ever do it and when you do, you’ll only try to justify your own indolence.

Better to spend your time slamming back a six pack and watching strange sporting events or taking long walks along the beach or some such other sort of time wasting than posting posts which complain about your own lack of posting posts.

A Happy Thanksgiving to One and All

Have a pleasant and relaxing day filled with family, friends, and most of all, a mind remembering the whence of your good fortune.

De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine:
Domine, exaudi vocem meam:
Fiant aures tuae intendentes,
in vocem deprecationis meae.
Si iniquitates observaveris, Domine:
Domine, quis sustinebit?
Quia apud te propitiatio est:
et propter legem tuam sustinui te, Domine.
Sustinuit anima mea in verbo eius:
speravit anima mea in Domino.
A custodia matutina usque ad noctem:
speret Israel in Domino.
Quia apud Dominum misericordia:
et copiosa apud eum redemptio.
Et ipse redimet Israel,
ex omnibus iniquitatibus eius.
Gloria Patri, et Filio,
et Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper,
et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

The Wright, Levine, Crossan and Ehrman Panel Discussion

If you attended SBL you probably heard about this even if you weren’t able to make it to it. If you didn’t attend SBL you may not have.

In either event, Michael Halcomb’s video of the doings is great fun- especially as it shows Amy-Jill’s brilliance and Ehrman’s lack thereof. Halcomb remarks

Ehrman sat on a panel with Dom Crossan, Amy-Jill Levine and N.T. Wright. The session was supposed to be on biblical scholarship within the last 200 years and the influence that certain exegetes have had on the guild/discipline. While Crossan veered somewhat off topic, ultimately, his paper was still relevant to the subject. Levine and Wright both gave excellent lectures. However, I cannot say the same for Mr. Ehrman. In so many words, I must say that I was completely underwhelmed with his presentation. Not only was he completely off topic, his paper was quite out-of-line.

Underwhelming nicely captures the sum and substance of all Ehrman’s work. I suppose his fame is more attributable to his appearances on the Daily Show and the Colbert Report than it is on the actual merit of his contributions to the field.

Keith Whitelam’s Latest

The following new publication from Sheffield Phoenix Press includes Sheffield contributions from Keith Whitelam on cartography and the construction of homeland and James Crossley on Enoch Powell’s idiosyncratic reconstruction of the Gospel tradition (he – Powell, that is –  doubted whether Jesus was crucified and thought he was more likely stoned to death).

Via the Sheffield Blog.

Oh Denmark, Why?

Saints Sergius and Bacchus. 7th Century icon. ...

Denmark‘s government wants to allow same-sex couples to get married in formal church weddings, instead of the short blessing ceremonies that the state Lutheran Church currently offers. The government said Wednesday it’s preparing to launch a proposal in February to change Denmark’s marriage laws. In 1989, Denmark became the first country to allow registered gay partnerships. Since 1997, gay couples in Denmark can be wed in special blessing ceremonies at the end of the regular church service. Denmark’s Church Affairs Ministry says the law change would put Denmark on par with countries including Iceland and Sweden that allow full wedding ceremonies for gay couples.

Why, Denmark, why? But at least there’s this, right?

Danish clergy would retain the right to refuse to wed gay couples without sanctions.

Well, for now anyway. Soon enough refusing to perform gay weddings will doubtless result in being accused of a hate crime.

Bob Cargill, The Dead Sea Scrolls, Linen, and The Tie that Binds Them All…

Is an essay in which suggests that there may now be a clue concerning the authorship of the Scrolls.

The Dead Sea Scrolls may have been written, at least in part, by a sectarian group called the Essenes, according to nearly 200 textiles discovered in caves at Qumran, in the West Bank, where the religious texts had been stored.

Scholars are divided about who authored the Dead Sea Scrolls and how the texts got to Qumran, and so the new finding could help clear up this long-standing mystery.

The research reveals that all the textiles were made of linen, rather than wool, which was the preferred textile used in ancient Israel. Also they lack decoration,  some actually being bleached white, even though fabrics from the period often have vivid colours. Altogether, researchers say these finds suggest that the Essenes, an ancient Jewish sect, “penned” some of the scrolls.

Not everyone agrees with this interpretation. An archaeologist who has excavated at Qumran told LiveScience that the linen could have come from people fleeing the Roman army after the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and that they are in fact responsible for putting the scrolls into caves.

I’m afraid that last bit is true.  There’s no reason to suggest that the linen discovered at Qumran was produced there.

Orit Shamir, curator of organic materials at the Israel Antiquities Authority, and Naama Sukenik, a graduate student at Bar-Ilan University, compared the white-linen textiles found in the11 caves to examples found elsewhere in ancient Israel, publishing their results in the most recent issue of the journal Dead Sea Discoveries.

Sounds like a very interesting essay.  So here’s where Cargill comes in-

The owners of the clothing likely were not poor, as only one of the textiles had a patch on it.”This is very, very, important,” Shamir said. “Patching is connected with [the] economic situation of the site.”

Shamir pointed out that textiles found at sites where people were under stress, such as at the Cave of Letters, which was used in a revolt against the Romans, were often patched. On the other hand “if the site is in a very good economic situation, if it is a very rich site, the textiles will not be patched,” she said. With Qumran, “I think [economically] they were in the middle, but I’m sure they were not poor.”

Robert Cargill, a professor at the University of Iowa, has written extensively about Qumran and has developed a virtual model of it. He said that archaeological evidence from the site, including coins and glassware, also suggests the inhabitants were not poor.

“Far from being poor monastics, I think there was wealth at Qumran, at least some form of wealth,” Cargill said, arguing that trade was important at the site. “I think they made their own pottery and sold some of it, I think they bred animals and sold them, I think they made honey and sold it.”

Go to the link above for the whole piece.

Newly Published: Zurich Church Ordinances – 1520-1675

This two volume critical edition will be of great interest to those who are interested in the Swiss Reformation.

Erstmals liegen 400 Dokumente des reformierten Zürich von der Reformation bis 1675 in 496 kritisch edierten Fassungen vor. Sie regeln alle Bereiche der Kirchenordnung: Gottesdienst, Pfarrerschaft, Synode, Ehe, Armenwesen, Schule, gute Sitten und vieles mehr. Die Edition enthält eine ausführliche Einleitung und alle Texte sind durch einen grundlegenden Kommentar, ein Glossar sowie ein Register erschlossen, so dass sie auch ohne Spezialwissen zugänglich sind. Ausser kirchlichen und theologischen Vorschriften bieten sie auch eine Fülle an historischen, sozialen und kulturellen Informationen, die nun der Forschung zur Verfügung stehen.

Be sure to check out the table of contents here.

A Fun Phrase You Seldom Hear…


… a breakaway Amish religious group…

What fun! (I know, it’s a serious matter, but come on, Amish men going around clipping one another’s beards? That’s high comedy of the Monty Python sort).

Visions of rampaging hoards of angry Amish men running in the middle of the night from house to house clipping the beards of sleeping victims spring to mind.  Ninja Amish!

Total Depravity: The Teen Punk Thug Who Called his Victims Dumb

A teenage burglar who was forced to write a letter of apology to his victims branded the homeowners ‘dumb’ for leaving their kitchen window open.

Dumb? Them? No, what’s dumb is some thug punk thinking he has the right to take what belongs to someone else. That’s not just dumb though, it’s depraved.

The 16-year-old yob, who has not been named, adds that he is not sorry he burgled the family in the disgusting letter, penned under supervision. West Yorkshire Police intercepted the note before it was sent to his victims. The page-long letter, which is littered with spelling mistakes, reads: “I’m not bothered or sorry about the fact I burgled your house. Basically, it was your fault anyways.

What a depraved prat. They should release his name so all his neighbors know what sort of self-centered reprobate lives in their midst.

Thankfulness and the 90%

The story in Luke of the cleansing of the 10 lepers always strikes me as simultaneously wondrous and saddening.  Wondrous because it tells us that Jesus involves himself in our lives and saddening because when he does, very few (a tiny minority) are thankful for it.

Here’s the passage from the Common English Bible

Jesus heals a Samaritan

11 On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten men with skin diseases approached him. Keeping their distance from him, 13 they raised their voices and said, “ Jesus, Master, show us mercy! ” 14 When Jesus saw them, he said, “ Go, show yourselves to the priests. ” As they left, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw that he had been healed, returned and praised God with a loud voice. 16 He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus replied, “ Weren’t ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 No one returned to praise God except this foreigner? ” 19 Then Jesus said to him, “ Get up and go. Your faith has healed you. ”

Weren’t 10 cleansed? Where are the other 9? Where are the 90%? Living lives without gratitude, without thankfulness, that’s where they are.

An Addition to the Blogroll

It’s always nice to run into folk at SBL who are bloggers and aren’t ashamed to admit it.  One such I and Chris ran into at the just concluded meeting was Allan Bevere.  He seems cool and has a good sense of humor so I’m adding him to the roll.

Let’s hope he remains worthy of inclusion.   😉

A New Article by Aren Maeir and Louise Hitchcock

Maeir, A. M., and Hitchcock, L. 2011. Absence Makes the Hearth Grow Fonder: Searching for the Origins of the Philistine Hearth. Eretz Israel (A. Ben-Tor Volume) 30: 46*-64*.

Clever title and interesting sounding essay.  Here’s the opening-

The appearance of the hearth in early Iron Age Philistia has been long recognized by many working in the region as an ethnic marker of Philistine identity and as an indicator of Aegean migration to Philistia (e.g., Dothan; Maeir). A close relationship between Aegean hearths and Philistine hearths, as well as Cypriot hearths, for that matter, has been assumed based on the presence or absence of such features, with minimal attention given to differences in style, size, technology, method of construction, function, or context.

Check it out.

Herod Didn’t Construct the Entire ‘Western Wall’

Antonio relates

Who built the Temple Mount walls? Every tour guide and every student grounded in the history of Jerusalem will immediately reply that it was Herod. However, in the archaeological excavations alongside the ancient drainage channel of Jerusalem a very old ritual bath (miqwe) was recently discovered that challenges the conventional archaeological perception which regards Herod as being solely responsible for its construction.

He’s got some observations of his own as well as links elsewhere.  Take a look at the photos provided by the IAA-

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Occupy Protests are Draining Strained City Resources

Perhaps the occupiers should be sent the bill.

During the first two months of the nationwide Occupy protests, the movement that is demanding more out of the wealthiest Americans cost local taxpayers at least $13 million in police overtime and other municipal services, according to a survey by The Associated Press.

Cities are already operating under budgets that are slashed. Occupiers will, if they continue, doubtless end up costing some janitor or some teacher or some other city employee their job. But of course they don’t care about that. They simply want their credit card debt forgiven and their student loans paid off by actual tax payers.

Occupy = selfishness and absolute disregard for anyone else.

If Megyn Kelly Thinks Pepper Spray is a Food- She Should Eat Some

Fox News commentator Megyn Kelly appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s show Monday night and seemed to downplay the impact of pepper spray while commenting on the UC Davis protests. She said of the substance, “it’s like a derivative of real pepper. It’s a food product essentially.”  Now, a petition is calling for Kelly to test her theory by ingesting pepper spray on television. More than 11,000 people have signed the pledge.

I’m signing.  I hope you will too.  I’m no fan of the occupy movement (for reasons stated numerous times) but such idiotic comments as Kelly made deserve to be derided and she should be forced to practice what she proclaims.