Daily Archives: 8 Dec 2011

Quote of the Day

Guys who know more about fantasy football than dead apostles are not very good seminary students–Gary Yates

Wilfred Lambert Featured on BBC Radio 4

Via Viv Rowett of SOTS-

You may be interested to know that Wilfred Lambert is expected to be featured on the BBC Radio 4 obituaries programme “Last Word” on Friday 9 December at 4 pm (repeated Sunday 11 December at 8.30 pm) [British time, of course] and the programme will probably be available on the BBC website after the first broadcast under “Listen again”.

Also, some of you have expressed an interest in hearing a recording of Wilfred’s funeral service so this should be available via the link below. In case this doesn’t work I’ll try to have the original email containing this file forwarded to you in the next day or two.

When you have successfully received it and pressed the green download button, ensure your headphones or speaker are connected then click on the file name “11_11_25_ …” that appears at the bottom of your screen. The 4 short tributes by Wilfred’s fellow academics come immediately after the second hymn.


Thanks, Viv!

Rick Larsen Fired Three Staffers Because they Told the Truth

Three young staffers in the office of Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) were fired Thursday after a political blog printed a series of messages they’d apparently exchanged on Twitter about drinking in the office and how much they hate their boss. The NW Daily Marker preserved the tweets from the now-deactived accounts.

Here’s my favorite-

“I could have used another day away. The silver lining is that I don’t have to see my idiot boss.”

Apparently Larsen doesn’t like being charged with public idiocy but he is a politician, he is in Washington, and like the rest of the rat pack up there, he’s incapable of solving problems.  That pretty much earns him the title of idiot doesn’t it.

But here’s the best part-

Larsen “has made it clear that he will not tolerate this kind of behavior,” the statement said.

If he objects to idiocy, shouldn’t he fire himself?

Louise Hitchcock: First Lady of the Philistines

Louise, a frequent digger at Gath and Professor in Australia is in the news in a really nicely done interview.  Good for her!  And good for the profession!!!!

In our first hour, we welcome to the show Prof. Louise Hitchcock, Associate Professor of Aegean Bronze Age Archaeology of the University of Melbourne. Louise is part of the interdisciplinary team of scholars and scientists working at Tel es-Safi, identified as ancient Gat by excavator Prof. Aren Maeir, Bar Ilan University. Louise travels a long way and is investing years of work at Gat with her students to discover and connect the Philistine culture to its origins. Revising our take on the Philistines, the new ideas she is percolating through archaeological circles of transculturalism and multivocalism; how the on-site Weizmann Institute lab works with the team, and the breadth of Louise’s vision, will hold your attention minute by minute – and the feast menu will make your mouth water!

Give it a listen.

An Addition to the Dead Sea Scroll Exhibit in New York: The 10 Commandments Fragment

The New York Times reports

Discovery Times Square – the crowd-pleasing exhibition space on West 44th Street that is now the host to “The Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Biblical Times” – announced that it planned to briefly add a new scroll to the show, one of the oldest and best-preserved manuscripts of the Ten Commandments.

The show, which opened Oct. 28 and will continue through April 15, brings together hundreds of artifacts drawn from archaeological explorations by the Israel Antiquities Authority and from the historic discovery of the scrolls in 1947 by Bedouins in caves near the Dead Sea. The Ten Commandments scroll – which dates from 30 B.C. to 1 B.C. and was discovered in 1952 – will be added to the show from Dec. 16 through Jan. 2. Like many of those on display, the scroll is extremely sensitive to light and humidity and can be shown for only a limited amount of time.

Such things are always worth seeing if one can.  Chris Tilling and I saw it in San Diego when it opened there during SBL (because Bob Cargill provided us tickets).  It was excellent.  I suspect the NY edition is as well.

Brill, Why?

Once again a fantastic looking volume is published.  One that sounds like it would be a brilliant read.  On a subject with which I am very interested.  But, alas, it is unaffordable because it’s from EJ Brill.

A close conceptual analysis of Herman Bavinck’s (1854-1921) four-volume Reformed Dogmatics, this book explores what is broadly understood as the central motif of his work, the “organic” relationship between nature and grace, and highlights an overlooked aspect to this motif. Bavinck’s view of nature and grace is not only rooted in his Trinitarian theology, but, more importantly, in his covenant theology.

I just don’t get it.  Sell these things for even as much as $45 (which seems more than fair to me) and you’d sell a boatload.   Sell them for $100 more than that and who can buy them?  Some extremely wealthy guy?  Some research library that, because of the economy, is cutting back on purchases and so will instead buy economics volumes for all the Wall Street greed-seekers?

I don’t understand Brill.  I also don’t buy their books.  Not because I don’t want to.  But because I can’t.

Sexuality and the Bible: Thomas Römer and Konrad Schmid

Take a look at this video, filmed at Swissnex in conjunction with the SBL meeting in SanFrancisco.


Sexuality and the Bible: What the Texts Really Say from swissnex San Francisco on FORA.tv

Amazon Responds to My Departure

I mentioned yesterday that Amazon’s scheme to have folk walk out of local stores and order stuff from them was the last straw for me.  I sent a letter to Jeff Bezos and here’s the reply I got today:

Dear Jim,

I’m Aaron DeFoe of Amazon.com’s Executive Customer Relations. Jeff Bezos received your e-mail and asked me to respond on his behalf.

The Price Check by Amazon app is primarily intended for customers who are comparing prices in major retail chain stores. The goal of the Price Check app is to make it as easy as possible for customers to access product information, pricing information, and Customer Reviews, just as they would on the Web, while shopping in a major retail chain store.

We appreciate your feedback and have routed it to the correct teams internally.

We hope to see you again soon.


Aaron M. DeFoe
Executive Customer Relations

Tastes very much like a form letter but that’s ok. I still won’t be going back. I can’t support the unfair undercutting of others. Competition is cool. Undercutting by underselling at one point in order to make profit elsewhere stinks of dishonesty.

[Though I did like being addressed as Dear.  Quite different from what I’m usually called].

Content Manipulation?? On Wikipedia??? Tell it not in Gath!

Wikipedia has suspended at least 10 accounts linked to the public relations firm Bell Pottinger as it investigates allegations of content manipulation.

If they cared about content manipulation they’d suspend more than 10 accounts.

The online encyclopaedia’s founder Jimmy Wales told the BBC the lobbyists had “embarrassed their clients”. He said a team of volunteers was looking at possible breaches of conflict of interest guidelines.

What? Wikipedia has guidelines? Wow.

Bell Pottinger admitted to editing entries, but said it had “never done anything illegal”. Mr Wales said he was “highly critical of their ethics”.

Oh my……. Unethical behavior by persons wishing to skew facts on the public toilet of intellectual content Wikipedia? Tell it not in Gath!

You Can Still Win A Copy of the Common English Bible!

I’m still giving away copies (as authorized by the good people at the CEB).  Each Thursday I announce the week’s winner and this week that’s Luke Chandler!  If you entered and didn’t win, try again.  Just tell me why, in comments, you want a copy.

The CEB is a grand translation and quite useful indeed.  Especially for persons unfamiliar with the Bible and afraid to use older translations because they make little to no sense.

Doug Iverson has already won and so has Kyle Owenby (and now Luke too).   I’ll be giving away one copy each week for quite a few months (through the end of January).

If you’d like to learn more, visit here.  And if you’d like to interact with the CEB folk, you can do it on Facebook or Twitter.

Robert Cargill on Simcha’s Suit

Bob left the following in comments to the earlier post but I’m elevating it to a posting of its own since it is vintage Cargill: intelligent, sage, and precise.

Simcha Jacobovici is suing Joe Zias. *Suing* him…in court…for money.


I guess arguing a case on the merits of the argument is just not Simcha’s strong suit. Apparently Simcha prefers *lawsuit.* (It’s simpler, there’s more money in it, and you don’t have to mess with all those pesky archaeological *facts*.)

There *really* must be a *lot* of money at stake if Simcha is claiming $1 million dollars in damages. I don’t know of any legitimate archaeologist in the sciences and/or humanities who makes that amount of money per project. Oh wait…

It just goes to show why Simcha does what he does. When scholars ask, “Why does Simcha continue to make unsubstantiated claims about religiously-based archaeology to the public when scholars have vociferously opposed every claim he’s made for a decade?” we now know the answer: money. BIG MONEY. MILLIONS OF DOLLARS money. And Simcha will resort to suing his critics to protect his money.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. For Simcha, it is, and always has been, about the money. Not scholarship. Not facts. Remember, this is an entertainer who fully admits: “For the record, I am not an archaeologist, nor am I an academic.” (- Simcha Jacobovici, “The Nails of the Cross: A Response to the Criticisms of the Film,” p. 45.) It has nothing to do with religion whatsoever. Nothing to do with faith. Nothing to do with the advancement of the study of archaeology, Judaism, Christianity, or for that matter, sound reason, rationality, or logic. It is, and always has been, about the money. It is about profits for his business, Associated Producers, Ltd., as evidenced by this lawsuit. As we now see, when Simcha’s profits are lost in a down economy with a TV market that is becoming saturated with fake documentary shows making sensational archaeological claims about aliens and conspiracies, in Simcha’s mind, it simply *can’t* be the market saying, “No more. We’ve had enough. The demographic is saturated with Indiana Jones wannabes,” or a network saying, “Thanks, but no thanks.” It *has* to be someone’s fault. Someone has to be blamed, and the money must be recouped. So, Simcha sues a vocal critic. It is, and always has been, about the money.

How much do you want to bet that this law suit was filed a couple of months before the release of Simcha’s ‘next big thing’? Wouldn’t it be something if this lawsuit was simply part of a media strategy to intimidate critical scholars by suing someone just prior to the release of some crazy new claim. The cherry on top would be another ossuary claim, because the world doesn’t have enough sensational ossuary controversies. Just watch. Let’s see if this is what happens. If so, Simcha will have proved me correct, and the world will know precisely what this is all about.

Exploiting the masses using rampant speculation to make a profit for a corporation – now *there’s* an Occupy movement I can get behind. “Occupy Simcha”. I am part of the 99% of scholars who are tired of the unsubstantiated speculation, circular arguments, and damage to the discipline of archaeology.

Robert Cargill, PhD

Truly well said Robert.  I hope the judge in the case is as wise.

Jesus Didn’t Tell the Church to Draw Crowds, He Told It To Make Disciples

The Guardian’s headline sets the tone- Liverpool’s church for all seasons draws the crowds. Crowds for what? Well not worship it seems. In fact, it’s anything but for worship and discipleship. It’s for the arts and community organization (which are lovely but which are not the purpose for which the Church exists).

The church’s slogan is Creative, Progressive, Inclusive and the vicar explains how there is a considerable emphasis on encouraging the arts. Catalyst is a project which sees the church used to train young people in drama, many of them with English as a second language.  The i-choir is a mental health charity, with service users, staff, church members and local people singing to relax and reduce stress, every Tuesday night. St Bride’s also hosts a community arts project every Wednesday.  The church is home to a project to provide food for homeless people and hosts regular folk concerts. Local residents’ groups, a Ghanian community association and Liverpool Friends of Palestine are but a few of the organisations which meet there.

Ah yes, all the things which Jesus commands the Church to be and do…

Turning to the wide range of liturgies, Elsmore explains that in addition to Morning Prayer at 10 am each Sunday, the first Sunday of each month involves Christian Meditation, a largely silent form of worship which attracts many who had not been regular churchgoers before. The second Sunday sees a Celtic liturgy based on the work of the Iona community. It emphasises the Celtic saints and protecting the environment. The third sees services geared specifically to the LGBT population, who compose their own liturgy. Elsmore says: Many of them worship elsewhere in the closet, but they can be open here.

So splotch meditation and nature religion and ‘tolerance’ all into a bowl and blend them to invent a concoction sure to make headlines and draw the curious but which simultaneously has nothing whatsoever to do with the Great Commission or anything else in the New Testament. Anglicans… good grief. What happened to you? What happened to theology?  So very sad.  Pretending relevance when the soul is dead.  Tragic.

The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel: Issues and Commentary

This isn’t a new book.  It was actually published 10, nearly 11 years ago now.  But in light of the resurgence of interest in Johannine historical issues (thanks in large part to the work of the SBL John, Jesus and History section) I asked the nice folk at IVP Academic to send a review copy and they did.

I’m interested in it precisely because it is counter to my own views on the gospel’s historicity and I hope to learn from it something insightful.  However, be forewarned, the entire program of investigating the historicity of particulars in the Gospels (including John) is suspect to me.  Biblical texts are theological texts- sermons- the Word of God proclaimed and historical matters are at most tangential.

But I’m willing to hear Blomberg’s case.  I’ll post my review here.

Consider the Consequences: You Really Will ‘Reap What you Sow’

The CEB renders Galatians 6:7 thusly-

Make no mistake, God is not mocked. A person will harvest what they plant.

The underlying phrase in Greek – Μὴ πλανᾶσθε θεὸς οὐ μυκτηρίζεται ὃ γὰρ ἐὰν σπείρῃ ἄνθρωπος τοῦτο καὶ θερίσει

I’d render it – ‘Don’t be deceived. God is not derided. For if a man sows, that is what he also reaps.’

Getting people to understand that is extremely complicated. Young people especially seem utterly unaware that their short term decisions have long term consequences. The teen girl is ‘in love’ so she ‘let’s Bobby because he loves her too’ and then she has a baby and Bobby has moved on to his next ‘soul mate’.

Examples of that sort can be multiplied into the thousands and tens of thousands and millions. Still some people seem utterly incapable of ‘connecting the dots’ between sowing and reaping. They should. Otherwise, stupid choices leave lifelong scars.

Pay the Piper- Or Lose it All

I find the behavior of a fire department that just stands by and watches utterly offensive and inhuman.  They let the family lose everything they have for a paltry $75.  Maybe they didn’t have a spare $75.  Is that just cause to watch them lose everything?  Sick.  Really sick and infuriating.

A Tennessee couple helplessly watched their home burn to the ground, along with all of their possessions,because they did not pay a $75 annual fee to the local fire department.

Vicky Bell told the NBC affiliate WPSD-TV that she called 911 when her mobile home in Obion County caught fire. Firefighters arrived on the scene but as the fire raged, they simply stood by and did nothing. “In an emergency, the first thing you think of, ‘Call 9-1-1,” homeowner Bell said. However, Bell and her husband were forced to walk into the burning home in an attempt to retrieve their own belongings. “You could look out my mom’s trailer and see the trucks sitting at a distance,” Bell said. “We just wished we could’ve gotten more out.”

Why is Simcha Jacobovici Suing Joe Zias?

I’ve heard from sources that Joe Zias has been sued by Simcha Jacobovici.  The reason, so far as I can discern it, is because Simcha is suggesting that a Discovery Channel (or NatGeo) special Simcha produced was pulled and Joe is somehow responsible for the loss of income that decision by Discovery caused Simcha.

I contacted Joe and he did indeed confirm that he was being sued by Simcha for 3,500,000 NIS (about $1,000,000).

I find that passing bizarre.  First, if the Discovery Channel pulled a program, that’s their decision so why not sue them?  If Zias complained to Discovery about the inaccuracies of the program (which, knowing Joe, I’m sure he did), so what?  People have been complaining about the exaggerations and inaccuracies of Simcha’s ‘biblical archaeology’ for years.

Indeed, Aren Maeir, upon meeting Simcha who introduced himself as ‘the naked archaeologist’ retorted ‘you’re not naked or an archaeologist’.  And he isn’t.  He’s a film producer.  So when scholars object to his nonsense, why sue them?  Why not defend one’s ‘documentaries’ in the court of academic opinion?  So why isn’t Simcha suing Aren?

And, even more pointedly, Jonathan Reed famously called Simcha’s work ‘Archaeoporn’!   If that isn’t a slap in the face at Simcha’s supposed contributions to ‘biblical archaeology’ what is?  So why isn’t Simcha suing Reed?

And there are loads of others.  Most archaeologists will have nothing to do with Jacobovici’s projects.  He’s more derided in the halls of academic archaeology than anyone else known to me by reputation or in person.  With good reason: his work doesn’t measure up.

His projects with James Tabor on the family tomb of Jesus have been absolutely excoriated by everyone (except for a very few uninformed dilettantes).  Mark Goodacre went to great lengths to point out the inaccuracies and infelicities of Simcha’s ‘family tomb of Jesus’ rubbish and Simcha never responded to that smacking.

In short- there are a lot of people who have pointed out Simcha’s many failings.  So why is he only taking aim at Zias?  Is he trying to silence Zias because he’s very vocal and willing to make the effort to contact broadcasters in order to tell them that Simcha’s work doesn’t measure up?  I know that Joe can be fiery and opinionated but when it comes to the facts concerning the subject matter which concerns us all, he’s usually right.

I understand quite well that Jacobovici makes a living from his sensationalizing of ‘biblical archaeology’.  But if a show of his was pulled, one really has to wonder why the television station which made the decision isn’t the object of Simcha’s wrath and an outspoken critic, who had and who has absolutely no power to pull anything from any airwave, is to blame.

Simcha, for all intents and purposes, looks to be on a vendetta.  And scholars can’t stand by silently while one of their own is muzzled.  If it ever comes to the point that film makers with financial clout (or magazine publishers for that matter) can hush the mouths of honest academics simply striving to inform the public of the facts, the only ones to blame will be the silent scholars.

I hope the Israeli court tosses the suit out on its ear.

Miss, Your Skinny Jeans Are Too Tight

News of an apparent ban on skinny jeans at BYU-Idaho unleashed a torrent of Internet stories Wednesday, spurring bloggers and news outlets alike to comment on the university’s Honor Code and unique culture.

Several students recently were turned away for wearing the form-fitting jeans by BYU-Idaho testing center employees who stretched their interpretation of the university’s dress and grooming standards too far.

Ah, so the media is exaggerating? Well that never happens!

However, there was no university ban on the popular fashion. The official university statement in the BYU-Idaho Dress and Grooming Standards states, “Clothing is inappropriate when it is sleeveless, strapless, backless, or revealing. It should not have slits above the knee or be formfitting.”

You know, that makes sense really. Why dress like a harlot when you’re a student? Unless you are a harlot.  And what’s with the muffin tops girls?  Your clothes shouldn’t squeeze your flesh to the point of bursting!

What annoys me about kids these days is the wearing of jeans that look like they’ve been 90% consumed by rats.  What’s with all the holes?????  It looks like the poor things are so poverty stricken that dear mom can’t afford a simple patch.

Kids these days.  Weirdos.  Now in my day, kids new how to dress!