Daily Archives: 22 Dec 2011

Biblical Text of the Day

Sirach 12:13-14

13 Who pities a snake charmer who gets bitten? Or anyone who goes near wild beasts? 14 So it is with anyone who goes near sinful people and becomes involved in their sins.

Or as they say in the South- you shouldn’t be surprised if you get fleas when you lay down with dogs.

News too Weird to Ignore: Or, Why I Like Guns

A Utah man who was trying to kill a mouse ended up shooting one roommate and getting another arrested for child rape, while a fourth roommate slept through the whole thing.  Taylorsville Police Sgt. Tracy Wyant told Deseret News that the first roommate, 27, had been trying to kill a rodent when he missed and the round went through the kitchen wall and struck a second roommate, 28.  “After the gun was fired, both the roommate and Paul heard a scream,” Wyant explained.   Officers responding to the scene early Tuesday morning found a 13-year-old girl hiding in a basement closet. She told police she had been having an affair with the third roommate, 34-year-old Paul Daniel Kunzler. During an interview, the Children’s Justice Center determined that the girl had been having sex with Kunzler over a period of four months.  He was arrested on suspicion of two counts of rape of a child, three counts of sodomy of a child and three counts of sexual abuse of a child.

If it weren’t for that gun… that girl would still be in grave peril.  Thank heaven for a wayward mouse and a lousy shot.  With thanks to Irene Hahn on FB.

Hebrew Thought and Greek Thought

Jan Joosten’s paper from the SBL meeting in Frisco is online and it’s titled Hebrew thought and Greek thought in the Septuagint. Fifty years after Barr’s Semantics. Read it or download it here.

NT Wright: Out of the Mouths of Babes

From Phil Long’s tweetings-

Student N. T. Wright Review: “I hope my paper makes more sense to you than this book made sense to me.”

Out of the mouths of babes (or in this case, students- which is basically the same thing isn’t it).

From the Newest Number of IEJ: Yossi Garfinkel on the Qeiyafa Inscription

With many thanks to Yossi for sending along a copy:

The Relative and Absolute Chronology
of Khirbet Qeiyafa: Very Late Iron Age I or Very Early Iron Age IIA?*
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

ABSTRACT: This article examines the suggestions by Singer-Avitz, Finkelstein and Piasetzky that Khirbet Qeiyafa belongs in the very late Iron Age I, at the end of the third quarter of the tenth century BCE. A close examination of the various arguments presented by these scholars clearly indicates methodological failures and inconsistencies that do not meet their own criteria. The pottery assemblage of Khirbet Qeiyafa is a typological ‘bridge’ between two periods. It maintains the Iron Age I tradition, while introducing several characteristics that later became the classical markers of the Iron Age IIA.

The absolute chronology of Khirbet Qeiyafa is based upon radiometric datings of short-lived olive pits, collected from a destruction layer of a one-period site that existed for a very short time. Nothing at the site indicates a long occupation that lasted over hundreds of years. Khirbet Qeiyafa marks the beginning of a fresh cultural development, with new types of fortifications, city planning, pottery assemblage and administration. These advanced developments clearly marked the beginning of a new era — the Iron Age IIA.

A YouTube For NT Wrong and James Crossley and My Other Agnostic Friends…

Merry Christmas!


The Latest From Bibledex: Christmas Stamps and the Virgin Mary

The Common English Bible Doesn’t Always Get it Right

I do enjoy, and appreciate, the CEB (which is why I’m taking part in their ‘blog tour’).  But it sometimes misses the boat.  For example

When God began to create the heavens and the earth— the earth was without shape or form, it was dark over the deep sea, and God’s wind swept over the waters (Gen 1:1-2).

First, the verb translated ‘began to create’ is a perfect tense verb in Hebrew, not an ingressive. It can only properly be translated ‘created’ implying, as only a perfect verb can, past action with present implications. That is, God created and creation continues to this moment. Certainly not, however, ‘God began to create’. I suspect this rendition was chosen as an accommodation to modern scientific theory. Such theory may or may not be right but there is no reason at all to believe for half a second that the author of Genesis didn’t believe God created creation directly through personal intervention and not through some modern idea of evolutionary process.

Second, ‘over the deep sea’ is both cumbersome and unnecessary and even a bit misleading since ‘al peney tehom’ is literally ‘over the face of the deep’ and speaks not of the ocean per se but the ‘dark depths’ – that is, the uncontrolled, unexplored, mysterious realm where men couldn’t go. The sea is certainly included here but it isn’t just the sea that houses the formlessness and emptiness the author has in mind.

Third, and finally, ‘God’s wind swept over the waters’ is unfortunate. Better would be ‘God’s breath hovered over the waters’ because it isn’t some sort of wind described here but the breath, the life giving power of God who breaths not just into the nostrils of man but over the whole of chaotic creation itself.

So, in somewhat of an amplified rendering, we end up with

‘By way of beginning: God created everything.  The earth was mis-shaped and chaotic and then God exhaled on it.’

Another Celeb Who Thinks He’s a Theologian

Please, celebs, in the name of all that is Holy, SHUT UP about theological issues.  You’re celebrities because you spend your lives pretending to be people that you aren’t.  Isn’t that enough for you?  Must you also pretend to be theologians?

Forget any awards show squabbles amongst the rich and famous, Ricky Gervais is in the midst of a public argument with some of the most hateful people on the planet.

Nice exaggeration HuffPo.  Biased much?

Gervais, whose Golden Globes hosting job in January ruffled a few Hollywood feathers, is an outspoken atheist, which has drawn plenty of public attention before. Both as a gag and a way to raise awareness for animal rights organization PETA, he’s been holding the “12 Days of Rickmas,” jokingly inserting himself in for Jesus Christ while suggesting followers do something to save animals each day.

I’ve got no use for most fundamentalists either.  But the difference between myself and Gervais is that I don’t pretend to be an actor or comic so why does he think he can pretend to be a theologian?

Why don’t you celebs go pretend to be airline pilots or neurosurgeons?   I’ll tell you why- because you know you aren’t qualified to do what those people do and I’ve got some harsh news for you- you aren’t qualified to make proclamations about theology either!

Would to God that feckless dilettantes practicing theology and biblical studies were arrested the same way that imbeciles pretending to be medical doctors were.  The world would be an authentically better place.

Celebrities… what useless clowns.  No wonder actors and actresses were treated with contempt in the Middle Ages.  They deserve to be.

Texas: Where Ignorance and Football Trump Education

Texas looks like America will look if silly Americans vote for the Governor of that backwater.

School funding in Texas is in turmoil. State lawmakers slashed more than $4 billion from education this school year — one of the largest cuts in state history — and more than 12,000 teachers and support staff have been laid off.  Academic programs and transportation have been cut to the bone. Promising reforms are on hold or on the chopping block. Next year, the cuts could go even deeper.  Schools in Pasadena, just outside Houston, have seen tight budgets before, but never like this. There was $21 million in cuts this fall alone and 340 positions eliminated, Candace Ahlfinger, an associate superintendent of schools in Pasadena, says. Of those cuts, about 180 were teaching positions and 160 were support staff, she says.

Most absurdly (and most pointedly showing the mentality of too many Texans)

At a football game between Leander High and Vista Ridge High School, the funding crisis is the last thing on parents’ minds. The stadium fills quickly; it’s supposed to be a good game.  Leander has already eliminated golf and tennis. What if football is next?

I think we all know the answer to that.

“I’d spend a thousand bucks out of pocket myself to make sure it’d stay,” says Ross Briton, whose son plays football. “I’d work two jobs if it took that to do it. End of story.”  Briton says it’s not just a sport here: It’s part of the culture and a big part of the community’s identity. The district should pare down the curriculum before it cuts football, he says.  “I would cut most liberal arts out of the high school. I’d keep math, science, reading. I’d add the vocational education back, because I think there’s too much fluff,” Briton says.

I imagine that he then shuffled off to bad-mouth the Eastern liberal elite NPR reporter who dared ask if football- the state religion of Texas- a slathering of drool running down his chin mixed with chewing tobacco and chicken bits-  would really be cut.

But in a momentary defense of Texas, they do hate education so it’s no surprise that education ranks below sports in importance for them.  Go football!  All hail the gods of Texas: ignorance and balls.

Announcing the Azekah Archaeological Excavation

Perched 117 m above the rolling hills of the Judean lowlands (Shephelah) sits Azekah, in antiquity one of the main towns and the regional center of the fertile plains of the magnificent Valley of Elah. For millennia, Azekah flourished and grew, benefiting from both its rich natural and strategic location on one of the main routes leading from the coastal plain to Jerusalem and the south.

They’re looking for volunteers!

Team members who join us from all over the world undergo rich and transforming experiences, combining archaeological fieldwork, tours in beautiful Israel, academic lectures, and social activities.  Sunday to Friday we live at the Nes-Harim guest-house, in fully air-conditioned wooden cabins, located on a hill top in the midst of a green and lush forest. We enjoy accommodations and full board, with three delicious meals a day, our own private bar, as well as full complementary Wi-Fi internet services in our classes and in the near-by area.    The six-week period of digging extends from July 15th to August 24th 2011.  Team members are requested to sign in for minimum of two weeks.

Sounds tremendous and the site looks fantastically beautiful.  If you’re inclined, can, and want to, you should.  (Anyone want to sponsor me for a couple of weeks?  I’ll go!)

9 Examples of Dilettantism and Pseudoscholarship

Jan Krans has uploaded a class handout which lists 9 very fine examples of pseudoscholarship and dilettantism in biblical studies including, but not limited to

1- The Shanks/ Witherington ‘Jesus the brother of James’ Ossuary.
2- The ‘Secret Gospel of Mark’
3- (This one is my favorite) –

The Aramaic original of the Lord’s Prayer has been found, and gives access to a deeper spiritual meaning than the Greek version or its Latin translation; a correct rendering of the first words (cf. ‘Our Father who art in heaven”) is “O, Birther of the Cosmos”. Neil Douglas-Klotz, Prayers of the Cosmos. Meditations on the Aramaic Words of Jesus.

Now that’s a doozie worthy of the dilettante of the decade award.

4- (And of course, the stupidest of them all) –

The gospels about Jesus and the cults around him are modelled after earlier Egyptian and Eastern myths and esoteric sects. Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, The Jesus Mysteries. Was the Original Jesus a Pagan God?

Enjoy the other 5.  They’re equally ignorant.

Iraqis Just Love to Kill Each Other

That’s the only possible explanation for the ongoing never ending violence there.

A wave of violence across Baghdad has killed at least 57 people and injured nearly 200 just days after American forces left the country.

The blasts come after a political crisis between Iraq’s Sunni and Shia factions erupted last weekend. The spat, which pits Iraq‘s Shia prime minister against the highest-ranking Sunni political leader, has raised fears that Iraq’s sectarian wounds will be reopened as Iraq begins navigating its own political future without US military support.

Iraqi officials said at least 12 blasts went off early on Thursday morning in nine neighbourhoods around the city. The explosions ranged from sticky bombs attached to cars to roadside bombs and vehicles packed with explosives.

And there you have it.  Iraq needs a tyrannical dictator to control its uncontrollable self-hatred.  Unfortunately for the normal Iraqi.

And The Winner Is….

Dan Krabach!

Doug Iverson has already won and so has Kyle Owenby, Luke Chandler, and  Bacho Bordjadze.   I’ll be giving away one copy each week  for a couple more months (through the end of January).

If you haven’t won don’t despair.  You can always try again next week.

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.