Daily Archives: 14 Dec 2011

Southwestern Seminary is Trying to Improve its Image as an Institution of Higher Learning…

Using the Dead Sea Scrolls:

Southwestern Seminary currently houses the largest collection of fragments owned by an institution of higher education within the United States. The seminary will host an exclusive exhibit of the scrolls from July 2, 2012, to Jan. 11, 2013. To learn more about Southwestern Seminary’s exclusive “Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible” exhibit, visit http://seethescrolls.com.

At the SBL meeting, Southwestern professors introduced the scroll fragments to the academic community, demonstrating the seminary’s commitment to contribute to the field of biblical scholarship.

Steven Ortiz, associate professor of archaeology and biblical backgrounds and director of Southwestern’s Tandy Institute for Archaeology, introduced the session focusing on the scroll fragments.

In addition to Stokes, Southwestern faculty members who presented research were George Klein, professor of Old Testament; Eric Mitchell, associate professor of Old Testament and archaeology; Ishwaran Mudliar and Joshua Williams, assistant professors of Old Testament.

Ortiz said scholars at SBL noted the potential contribution that Southwestern’s scroll fragments have for Dead Sea Scroll scholarship.

“The accumulation of data and how it was presented showed that these were some important fragments,” Ortiz said. Southwestern’s professors displayed an in-depth knowledge of the particular fragments they researched, Ortiz said, as well as setting forth the implications the fragments have for a broader field of research.

“With the initial announcement of Southwestern’s acquisition [in January 2010], all the emphasis was placed on the purchase of the scrolls,” Ortiz said. “So that is the only thing that people knew about Southwestern’s Dead Sea Scroll fragments.

“After this presentation, the perception has shifted, and now they’re seeing that Southwestern is serious about becoming a center for biblical research, as the Dead Sea Scrolls affect biblical scholarship.”

They have a tough row to hoe.  They’re (generally rightly) perceived to be a far right ultra conservative institution bent on ‘proving the bible right’ with any fragment or bitlet of archaeological remains.  Under the stewardship of Paige Patterson, 100% Fundamentalist, they’ve gotten a reputation not for scholarship but for indoctrination. And any divergence textually will probably be explained away.  Any Hebrew reading that doesn’t support the KJV will be dismissed.

If they can dig themselves out of their academic hole, though, with the Scrolls it will be something else indeed.  Part of me hopes they can do it.  Most of me knows they can’t, given what Patterson did to destroy the reputation of my theological home, Southeastern Seminary.  He and his cohorts turned it into something none of us who were there during the good days before the Fundamentalist takeover of the SBC can rightly stomach.

Someone Killed Twitter. Was it Joel?

Sung to the Tune of ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’

Oh little town of Nazareth
Tear that dread tre-e down!

This is still a Jewish haunt
And tinsel all around
will not be toler-a-a-ted
So get thee Christians hence!
Our Jewish homes will not be ruined
By Jesus’ A-Advent… © J.W.

That’s right folks- the Mayor of Nazareth doesn’t take kindly to Christmas trees and has banned them.

The mayor of Nazareth Illit, an Israeli town with an Arab Christian minority, has declared a ban on the public display of Christmas trees. “Nazareth Illit is a Jewish city and it will not happen–not this year and not next year, so long as I am a mayor,” Mayor Shimon Gapso said. Arab Christians, who make up about 7 percent of the town’s 40,000 residents, were denied their request to put up Christmas trees in their neighborhoods.


His decision angered the town’s Arab and Christian minority, who accused him of racism. “The racism of not putting a tree up is nothing compared to the real racism that we experience here,” said Aziz Dahdal, a 35-year-old Christian resident of Nazareth Illit. “When we asked the mayor to put up a Christmas tree in the Arab neighbourhoods of Nazareth Illit he said this is a Jewish town, not a mixed town,” said Shukri Awawdeh, a Muslim Arab member of the town council. … “We told him that decorating a tree is just to share the happiness and cheer with other people in the town,” said Awawdeh.

What madness, really.  Can you imagine the uproar and outrage if a mayor in the States ordered the removal of a Menorah during Chanukah?   Oh my!  The screaming would peel the paint off the walls half way around the world.

At any rate, we have a new song to sing.

This Exemplifies What’s Wrong With American Society

According to a new poll in Slate

Most people think that the wealth gap or the overall bad economy was the worst development of 2011.

Really?  Worse than Sandusky’s molestation of kids or the deaths of our kids in Iraq and Afghanistan?   Worse than the problems associated with drug addiction?  Worse than the tens of thousands of babies murdered by abortion?

When a country believes that the worst thing that happens to it is related to money, then we really are in a moral mess aren’t we.  The love of money is the root of all evil.  It also appears to be the root of all societal blindness and indifference to the plight of others doesn’t it.    There are a lot of problems worse than Americans’ inability to buy their third car or have $400,000 in their 401K.  A lot.

You Have to be a Unicorn to Understand Melanchthon…

Interpretatio Legitima Responsionis Philippi Melanchtonis post mortem ipsius, titulo Iudicii de controversia Coenae aeditae: Apologiae loco scripta … (Ursellis, 1563)

By…. wait for it….

Paul Einhorn! Get it??? EIN Horn! Oh there’s nothing so fun as German-based humor!   With thanks to the folk at the PRDL for pointing out EIN Horn’s work on FB.

An Interview With Joel Green: The Common English Bible

I wrote Joel and asked him to answer a series of questions about the Common English Bible.  Here below are my questions [JW] followed by Joel’s answers [JG].  I really appreciate his responses.  I am sure you will as well.

Quote of the Day

Newt [Gingrich] is a stupid man’s idea of what a smart person sounds like. – Paul Krugman

The Church of England is Rapidly Dying, And It’s Because Parents Aren’t Raising their Children Attending Church

[T]he latest instalment of the annual British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey reads like a nightmare for anyone (like me) who is concerned about the future of the Church of England. Chapter 12 of BSA 28, published last week, feels more like an Anglican epitaph than a chapter of social analysis.  The research is, in fact, an update of the more substantial treatment of religion published by BSA two years ago and the theme is a similar one.

Since 1983, the number of people self-affiliating to the Church of England has halved, most going off to the no-religion camp, which has increased from 31% to 50%.

The reason for this change is predominantly down to what is known as the cohort effect, when younger generations (in this case less religious ones) replace older (more religious) ones. The fact that the trend is based on cohort, rather than life cycle (ie what stage in life you are), suggests that it is liable to be a long-term one.

Put simply– kids not raised in Church end up not going to Church.  Fewer Brits take their kids to Church so, ergo, they end up not going at all.  Since fewer and fewer Brits raise their kids in Church, those kids, when adults, will not raise theirs in Church either so that eventually very few indeed will be having anything to do with the C of E.  Or, in the words of the report

Nearly everyone – 94% to be precise – brought up without religious affiliation in Britain today stays without religious affiliation. Basically, if your parents bring you up outside a faith, you stay outside a faith. Who was it that said, give me the child, and I’ll give you the man?

Christian parents, are you awake?  Did you notice what that paragraph said?  It’s certainly as true in the States as it is in Britain.

Should a Vicar Marry a Muslim, and Be Fired for It?

That’s the question boiling in the German Church, as Reformiert Info reports

Eine evangelische Vikarin aus Württemberg ist zum Jahresende entlassen worden, weil sie einen Muslim geheiratet hat. Der Entscheid hat in Deutschland innerkirchlich für grosse Aufregung gesorgt. Für die grossen reformierten Kantonalkirchen in der Schweiz kommen Vorschriften für die Partnerwahl ihrer Pfarrer nicht in Frage.

So, should a Christian Minister be wed to a Muslim (or an atheist, or a buddhist, or a Taoist)? Ideally, probably not. But it’s not something the German Church has any business butting in about. Or does it?

After all, there is Paul’s ‘do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers’ (2 Cor 6:14) and it has to be admitted that marriage to a person who doesn’t share your Christian faith is marriage to an ‘unbeliever’ in the most precise sense of the term.

Little wonder that the matter is causing an uproar in Germany.  She’s already lost her job over her decision.  Now let’s see where the Church lands.

There Will be No One Volume Edition of the Septuagint and the Greek New Testament

I received this email today (which I share with its author’s permission) :

Dear Dr. West,

Apologies for this belated reply. It took a few days until your request was finally forwarded to me.
We have considered several times a one volume edition of the Rahlfs Septuagint and the NA. It is obvious that such an edition would perhaps make even better sense than the existing Biblia Sacra with BHS and NA. There are, however, two substantial obstacles: First the Septuagint alone comprises already more than 2100 pages, approximately the same as the enire Biblia Sacra, and still adding the NA would go beyond the technical limits for one volume. And second the number of copies sold of the BHS & NA version is so modest that we are not encouraged to try the Septuagint & NA version as well. Therefore the chance that we will produce a one volume edition of the Septuagint and the GNT or NA is unfortunately close to zero.

With greetings and best wishes
Rolf Schäfer

Dr. Rolf Schäfer
Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft
Kirchliche Stiftung des öffentlichen Rechts
Balinger Straße 31 A D-70567 Stuttgart

I understand their reasons. I wish, nevertheless, that things could be otherwise. At any rate, since I previously mentioned the subject and promised to keep you up to date, there it is.

Comfort, Comfort…

I’ve mentioned this passage before but I’m really taken with the way the CEB is able to get it across with such simple profundity:

Is 40:1 Comfort, comfort my people!
says your God.
2 Speak compassionately to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her that her
compulsory service has ended,
that her penalty has been paid,
that she has received
from the LORD ’s hand
double for all her sins!

3 A voice is crying out:
“ Clear the LORD ’s way in the desert!
Make a level highway in the wilderness for our God!
4 Every valley will be raised up,
and every mountain and hill
will be flattened.
Uneven ground will become level,
and rough terrain a valley plain.
5 The LORD ’s glory will appear,
and all humanity will see it together;
the LORD ’s mouth
has commanded it. ”

6 A voice was saying:
“ Call out! ”
And another said,
“ What should I call out? ”
All flesh is grass;
all its loyalty is
like the flowers of the field.
7 The grass dries up
and the flower withers
when the LORD ’s breath blows on it.
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass dries up;
the flower withers,
but our God’s word
will exist forever.

What God says stands forever.  People come and go.  Even the world itself will disappear one day.  But what God says, that abides.   That’s the source, ground, foundation, and substance of real ‘comfort’.

It’s a shame that we usually only turn to Isaiah 40 when Christmas rolls around.  It deserves wider attention than that.  Primarily because people are in year-round need of hearing that something in life is stable; that there can be stability.  And such is found, and only found, in what God says.

The Decline of Marriage

It’s not really a surprise given the decline of morality and ethical behavior even among Christians who see nothing wrong with cohabiting without the benefit of marriage that the institution of marriage is on the decline.  And since cohabitation is acceptable to so many ‘devoted believers’ (I can hardly type that without feeling the need to projectile vomit) it’s even less than surprising that the wider, virtually amoral society thinks it’s acceptable and normal.

NPR depressingly reports

The share of all U.S. adults who are married has dropped to a record low 51 percent, according to a new report. If the trend continues, the institution will soon lose its majority status in American life.  The report being released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center finds new marriages dropped a sharp 5 percent last year, which is very likely related to the bad economy. Pew senior writer D’Vera Cohn says it fits with a larger trend.  “The most dramatic statistics to me are when you look at the share of younger adults who are married now compared with in the past. That’s really been where you’ve seen the big decline,” Cohn says.

What’s happening and why is marriage on the decline?

In … place  [of marriage]: more singles, single parents, couples living together — many having children without marrying. In fact, some 40 percent of all U.S. births are now to unmarried mothers. But the driving force in the dropping marriage rate? People who do tie the knot are waiting longer than ever.

So to put that in language comprehensible to most- marriage is on the decline because shacking up is more common than ever before and so is the ‘who-da-baby-daddy’ phenomenon.

Oh, by the way, I don’t care if people like it or not but here’s the truth: premarital sex is called fornication and sex with someone besides your spouse is called adultery.  For Christians especially (who can help what the massa perditionis does?) to view such behavior as not only acceptable, but practicable, is reprehensible.

What the heck, I might as well drop the ‘S’ bomb:  premarital and extramarital sex is SIN.

[I realize I’m one of  the very few people on the planet who holds that view but I’m not about to change it just to make you or anyone else happy.  And I’m not going to apologize for it either].

Total Depravity: Rejoicing at Murder

In Gaza, members of Hamas

… Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades boasted killing 1,365 Israelis since it was founded, as well as injuring over 6,411 Israelis in various terror attacks.  According to the group’s military wing, over 11,000 rockets were fired at Israel and it has so far executed 1,117 terror attacks.  The number of fatalities among Hamas terror operatives stands at 1,848.

That’s depraved.  And sick.  Problems aren’t solved by killing people.  Doesn’t anyone get that?  There are too many body-bags on both sides of this sad issue.  It’s continuously astonishing that people don’t see that.

Christians and Dedication: An Observation

Many times the ‘dedication’ of Christians to God in particular activities ends at precisely the point in time when they discover something they would rather be doing more.   I’ll leave it to you to decide if you think that’s a good thing.  I already know what I think of it.