Daily Archives: 11 Jan 2012

Congratulations to James Crossley

Who has been appointed to a Chair in the Biblical Studies Department at the University of Sheffield!  He’s to be the new  ‘Professor of Bible, Culture and Politics‘.  Well deserved.  There are very few people in the field of New Testament doing the quality of work he is and breaking new ground as he consistently does.

Congratulations, James.  All of us who know you are proud of you.

An Intriguing Discussion of Homosexuality and Judaism, by a Rabbi

By Zev Farber.  The core of his approach is contained in, I think, this paragraph-

Oness Rahmana Patrei  – My own approach to the matter is that the Orthodox community should adopt the stance of “oness rahmana patrei” – The Merciful One overlooks what is out of a person’s control. This was first suggested by R. Norman Lamm in the 1974 Encyclopedia Judaica Yearbook and I believe that this principle should serve as a basis for formulating an Open Orthodox response to the many challenges of accepting and integrating homosexuals into our community.

It really is a thought provoking essay and very much worth reading, even if one can’t accede to his conclusion, it is very useful to read a Rabbi’s approach.  With thanks to Jacob Wright for mentioning it on FB.

Elliott and Kilty Respond to Lombatti on the ‘Talpiot Tomb’

They write

We appreciate Antonio Lombatti’s reply. Here are our comments.

The patina issue is crucial. Biblical scholars should allow the geologists to settle this. All we can say on the matter is that one of the scientist who testified at the trial stated that “Neither the prosecution nor the IAA presented even a single witness who was an expert on ancient stone items, or patina on antiquities and who ruled out the authenticity of the inscription or any part of it.” We all need to view the evidence contrary to this.

We recognize that Christians revered the area of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as the location of Jesus’ first burial centuries after his crucifixion. However, all that tells us is what Christians believed in the 2nd-4th centuries. Every Gospel account emphatically states that the body is missing from the initial burial. As we mentioned in the article there is no 1st century evidence of the followers of Jesus revering any tomb. As you well know, by the 4th century during the time of Eusebius, Christian pilgrims wrote they visited many revered biblical sites such as Mt. Carmel where Elijah did his sacrifice, the spring of the prophet Elisha, the house of Rahab the harlot, the place where the Israelites placed twelve stones at the Jordan River, the plain where David killed Goliath, and the well where the Samaritan women drew water. They were shown the waterpots used at the wedding of Cana, the vineyard and the rock where Judas betrayed Jesus in the garden, and the tombs of Isaiah and Hezekiah. We hear of Egeria visiting the ‘holy mount of God’ and the cave of Moses. And according to the famous pilgrim of Bordeaux he visited a vault where they laid the lord’s body ‘and he rose again on the third day.’ See Wilken, The Land Called Holy. There were many pious nuns and eager clergy ready to show devout pilgrims a variety of sites related to famous kings, saints, prophets, miracles, acts of God and Jesus. Whether they were accurate is another matter.

As for the missing tenth ossuary, A. Rosenfeld, C. Pellegrino, H. R. Feldman, and W.E. Krumbein claim “Based on similar size and the elemental fingerprints it is possible to conclude that the James Ossuary is the missing 10th ossuary from the Talpiot cave….” They argue that the patina on the James ossuary matches the patina on the Talpiot tomb. We would like to see evidence that is contrary. Where is the tenth ossuary?

We have never used the Mary Magdalene inscription in our computations and as for the names being common, this is a false analogy stated over and over again.

Pointing out, correctly, that names found in the Talpiot Tomb are common, does not mean that the combination is common. Consider the following, “In 2826 names in all written sources for the Greco-Roman period in Palestine, 330BCE to 200CE, which includes 712 valid persons recorded on ossuaries (Tal Ilan), there are only three occurrences of Yeshua/Jesus linked with Yehosep/Joseph, and one of these instances is Joseph, Joshua’s brother. Three examples linking Jesus and Joseph cannot be considered typical or common for this period in Palestine.”

See our “Inside the Numbers” and “Talpiot Dethroned” in notes above.

Concerning your comment on the James Ossuary, ” IAA epigraphists and paleographers are convinced that at least the second part of the inscription is a fake.” We have not surveyed all epigraphers on this issue or recalculated how only James son of Joseph would change our calculations; however, we found this according to BAR  ” At the trial, not a single expert in the Semitic script of the period testified that the inscription was a forgery.” http://www.bib-arch.org/press-james-ossuary.aspif

If accurate, then we all need to rethink our assumption on the inscription.

Mark Elliott and Kevin Kilty

You Know Who You Are…

via James ‘My Cambridge BFF’ Aitken

Horrible, Terrible, Very Bad, Dreadful, and Appalling News

For, that is, Chris Tilling, Joel Watts, TM Law, Christian Brady, Robert Cargill, and Daniel McClellan:

According to the Zimbabwe Mail, the country’s finance minister Tendai Biti recently announced a total ban on the importation and sale of secondhand underwear.  “If you are a husband and you see your wife buying underwear from the flea market, you would have failed. If I was your in-law, I would take my daughter and urge you to first put your house in order if you still want her back,” Biti told the paper.

Not only can they not buy their used underwear in Zimbabwe anymore, they can’t sell them as celebrity panties on Ebay in Zimbabwe either!!!!!!

Pray for them.  Especially Chris and Danny.  They make their traveling money selling second hand drawers.  It now becomes very unlikely that either of them will be at SBL in Chicago….

Sometimes The HuffPo Makes Me So Mad I Could Scream

Like today– when they just felt they had to post a story about young celebrities and their views on religion.  Why?  Because evidently in the mind of the editors of the HuffPo being a celebrity automatically qualifies people to pretend expertise and experience in matters they haven’t bothered to consider for more than 15 whole minutes.

The Biebs’ new tattoo and Demi’s Twitter spree got us wondering about which other favorite celebrities have strong religious or spiritual beliefs and practices. Although not all stars choose to express their faith through body art, countless celebrities have spoken out about their religious beliefs in other ways. Whether it’s tweeting about the role of religion in everyday life or discussing their meditation practices in magazine interviews, stars like Selena Gomez and Miley Cyrus make faith a priority in their lives. Here are 10 young celebrities that live their lives according to their own individual set of beliefs.

The HuffPo is just feeding the celeb worship so widespread in our tragically ill-informed (theologically) culture.  Celebs have as much business pontificating on religion as they do on quantum physics.  In fact, when the HuffPo starts asking the opinion of celebrities on matters scientific I’ll have a bit more respect for its ‘journalism’.  Till then, I’m only left to seethe in rage at the idiotic notion that celebrity kids are qualified to be the purveyors of religious truth in American society.

Yes, Jimmy Carter, Yes

President Carter was interviewed by Christianity Today.  Here’s their first question and his delightful answer-

In what ways did faith impact your presidency?

I’ve always been fully committed to separation of church and state. I didn’t permit worship services in the White House as had been done earlier. I was careful not ever to promote my own Christianity as superior in America to other religions, because I feel all religious believers should be treated carefully. At the same time, there’s no way I could ever separate my Christian belief from my obligations as a naval officer, as a governor or as President, or from my work now. I can’t say my commitments as President were free of my beliefs. We worship the Prince of Peace, and one of the key elements of my life as President in challenging times was to keep our country peaceful. I was able to deal with challenges without launching a missile or dropping a bomb. My commitment to peace was an aspect of my Christian faith. Also, basic human rights are obviously compatible with the teachings of Jesus Christ, and I made human rights a foundation of foreign policy.

It’s a shame he can’t run again.  A real shame.  A crying shame.  He’s the only truly Christian President we had in the 20th century and into the 21st too.  Not because he turned America into a Theocracy (heaven forfend!) but because his faith informed his life and true, authentic Christian faith is a brilliant, the brilliant, way to politic.

[Which is why all the hypocritical part-time-believer political pseudo-faith on exhibition in all the god-talk these days is so utterly beneath contempt].

Read the whole CT piece here.

Antonio Lombatti’s Rejoinder to the Elliott Essay in Bible and Interpretation

Well, let me briefly state my opinion on this matter. This paper a very good reply to Magness’s 6 points. But my doubts are elsewhere.

1) Marko Sammech admitted to CBC 60 Minutes to have forged 10-20 artifacts for Golan, who kept the ossuary in his house for 25 years and then he realized he could own a biblical relic.

2) There’s no agreement on the patina being really ancient: at least, we have Yuval Goren’s opinion that there is no such patina on the word Jesus.

3) There is no record of a presumed Jesus family tomb in Early Christianity. As for Jesus’ tomb – the Holy Sepulchre – first Christians preserved very good oral traditions. And, beyond tradition, relics were invented and forged starting from the IV century. The place of James’ burial was venerated and remembered in early Christianity. Eusebius preserves to a grave-marker or monument to James. Jerome does it in his seemingly more precise variation on the tradition “His tombstone with its inscription was well known until the siege of Titus and the end of Hadrian’s reign” (Vir. ill. 2). First pilgrims to Jerusalem noticed different places and relics connected to James: his house, his throne when he was bishop, his tomb, and Theodosius writes that James’ bones were venerated in the Kedron Valley tomb. No evidence or memory of a family tomb. And considering that early Christians were eager to venerate the most absurd places and objects (such as the tub of Baby Jesus or the place where household servant in Nazareth was born, St. Amadour) I find it difficult to overcome the fact that there is no record on this family tomb.

4) The so-called missing ossuary is not the 10th Talpiot tomb ossuary, as clearly stated here by those who excavated and catalogued the tomb (http://www.antoniolombatti.it/Missing.mov).

5) “Without Mary Magdalene the tomb is like any other tomb with an unremarkable common set of names.” (Andrey Feuerverger), and Stephen Pfann has proved beyond doubt that there is no such name on the ossuary (http://www.uhl.ac/blog/?p=436).

6) Good remarks on Jewish burial practices (http://www.antoniolombatti.it/Zias1.mov), in fact at least 35 individuals were buried there (http://www.antoniolombatti.it/Kloner1.mov).

7) IAA epigraphists and paleographers are convinced that at least the second part of the inscription is a fake.

So, even IF the patina and the inscription will be proved absolutely authentic beyond any doubt (and I seriously doubt it will ever happen), the evidence of the existence of a presumed Jesus family tomb is missing at all. For the above reasons, I remain highly skeptical about it being the “real thing”.

I share his skepticism (as I previously suggested).

Is Universalism Theologically Possible?

No.  And the Heidelberg Catechism summarizes why succinctly:

Question 20. Are all men then, as they perished in Adam, saved by Christ?

Answer: No; (a) only those who are ingrafted into him, and, receive all his benefits, by a true faith. (b)

(a) Matt.7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Matt.22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen. (b) Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. Isa.53:11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Ps.2:12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. Rom.11:17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Rom.11:19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Rom.11:20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: Rom.3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: Heb.4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. Heb.4:3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. Heb.5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Heb.10:39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. Heb.11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Trying to be Reformed and a Universalist is like trying to be a Muslim and a Christian.  Only someone unfamiliar with both would attempt to be both- or want to be.

An Oversexualized Society Naturally Produces Oversexualized Children

Hence, the behavior of two 10 year olds in Houston isn’t even remotely shocking.  What is shocking is that our society doesn’t see the connection between sex on display everywhere (even on the roof of a Church in Houston, thanks Ed Young, you feckless heretic) and kids acting out sexual behaviors (like the animals they’ve been taught they are).

Houston police say two 10-year-old boys have been charged with sexually assaulting an 8-year-old boy on a school bus.  The boys were arrested last week after authorities reviewed a security videotape from the bus.  … Houston school district spokesman Jason Spencer says officials were first made aware of the alleged assault when the district’s transportation department was asked by a parent on Aug. 30 to review conditions on a bus that transports special needs students to an elementary school.  If convicted on charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child, they could face a sentence of up to 40 years.

Perhaps Lady Gaga and all the other purveyors of sexualism befouling society should be chained up in prison with them.   At any rate this is just more evidence that the Imago Dei is truly effaced in unredeemed humanity.  Like it or not, that’s just the way it is.

And The Survey Says…

America’s Protestant pastors overwhelmingly reject the theory of evolution and are evenly split on whether the earth is 6,000 years old, according to a survey released Monday by the Southern Baptist Convention.  When asked if “God used evolution to create people,” 73% of pastors disagreed – 64% said they strongly disagreed – compared to 12% who said they agree.

Asked whether the earth is approximately 6,000 years old, 46% agreed, compared to 43% who disagreed.  A movement called Young Earth creationism promotes the 6,000-year-old figure, arguing that it is rooted in the Bible. Scientists say the earth is about 4.5 billion years old.  The Southern Baptist Convention survey, which queried 1,000 American Protestant pastors, also found that 74% believe the biblical Adam and Eve were literal people.

So there ya have it.  Take that, Lutherans and Episcopalians.  You’re in the tiny minority…  [I wish I got called by survey takers- just like Mitt loves to fire poor insurance providers, I like to hang up on random unsolicited telemarketers and survey-takers].

The View From Gath

Aren has posted a really nice video showing the site of Gath from the top of the Tell.  It’s a 360 degree look around.  It’s quite beautiful.

Zwingli: To Philipp

11 Jan 1527

Huldrichus Zuinglius Philippo Badensi marchioni S.

Gratiam et pacem a domino. Respersit omnium, qui apud nos sunt piorum aures pietatis tuę fama, clarissime marchio, quę me tam confidentem reddidit, ut mortalium omnium postremus ad te, dominum meum observandissimum, istas dare nihil sim cunctatus. Adstipulatae sunt proposito tua illa insignis bonitas ac ingenii vere ingenui dexteritas et, quae alios deterrere potuisset, amplitudo. Invitavit quoque super omnia iudicii sanctitas, quae in principibus ut rara, pro dolor, est hac tempestate, ita in te incorrupta nitet, ut nemo conscientia bona fretus non audeat intrepide ad te accedere.

Cum ergo Jacobus Struthio, homo fortasse audentior quam doctior, loquentior quam circumspectior, libellum in nos ediderit, se quidem non magnopere, te vero, illustrissimo ac optimo principe, indignissimum, quo et eucharistiae veritatem subruere et, quam in euangelii sui ministerio autoritatem dominus dedit, contaminare ex professo etiam nititur, nihil cessandum esse duxi, quo minus istius impudentiae responderemus, propterea quod esset a sacris concionibus tuis.

Certus enim sum, quod, quicquid tandem in considerationem veniat, ubi veritas eius singulari prudentiae tuae planius exponatur, nullatenus offensum iri posse. Est ergo eucharistię causa nobis hoc libello denuo tractata; faxit deus, ut omnia in gloriam suam cedant, non hercle quasi prius non sint affatim omnia prodita, sed ut, qui contentiosi sunt, plane videant, verborum figmentis veri faciem obscurare nequire, semperque futuros esse, qui illius amore non modo silere, sed non in discrimen quoque venire nolint.

Lege ergo, si licet ac decet, eum libellum, neque hic quicquam dictum puta in sacrosanctam pietatem tuam. Videbis haud dubie indigne facere, qui rem minime compertam sic apud indoctam plebem traducunt. Boni facito pro tua bonitate omnia et, ut euangelio eiusque ministris hactenus tanquam Abdias [1. Kön. 18, 3ff.] patrocinatus es, perge.

Tiguri, 11. die Januarii 1527.

The Eucharistic conflict wouldn’t be settled later on at the Colloquy at Marburg, not matter how much the participants wished. The divide was too wide and the underlying theological perspectives too different. For Luther, salvation was the work of God, and man (who cooperated in his own salvation by receiving the instruments of grace). For Zwingli, it was the work of God alone. These two views are incompatible and irreconcilable.

The Story of the Heidelberg Catechism, For Children