Daily Archives: 19 Mar 2012

More Scholarship Opportunities at Tel Aviv University

Via Oded Lipschits

Scholarship Opportunities: 3 more at the International MA in Archaeology and History of the Land of the Bible program Tel Aviv University

Due to the support of the Yad Hanadiv Foundation, the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures of Tel Aviv University is pleased to announce 3 more tuition assistance scholarships for the academic year of 2012-13. The 5,000 USD Scholarships will be granted to a limited number of excellent students who wish to broaden their knowledge and understanding of ancient Israel, as part of Tel Aviv University’s one year International MA Program in Archaeology and History of the Land of the Bible.

The program is the only one of its kind in Israel, allowing students from a variety of countries across the globe to study the archaeology and history of the Land of the Bible – in the Land of the Bible. The program combines theoretical and methodological courses with the opportunity to gain fieldwork experience in some of the most exciting excavations conducted in Israel by TAU scholars, while providing the most up-to-date, modern and scientific tools to the area of archaeological and historical studies; teaching students cutting edge methods for individual, independent research. The scholarships will be granted to students chosen by an academic committee (Prof. Oded Lipschits, Prof. Israel Finkelstein and Prof. Oren Tal) based on an academic CV, final grades sheet from the last academic establishment and an abstract of the final paper submitted in the last academic establishment. Applications should be submitted no later than May 1st, 2012.

For more information please visit our website at www.archaeology.tau.ac.il/internationalMA or contact the program manager, Ms. Nadin Reshef, at MAarch@post.tau.ac.il.

More Pastoral Misconduct: The Case of Dennis Terry

Here’s another of the all too many pseudo-pastors who have thrown down the bible and picked up a political pamphlet, abandoning thereby their call to stand in opposition to the unrighteous state and climbing right into bed with it.

“I don’t care what the liberals say, I don’t care what the naysayers say, this nation was founded as a Christian nation…

Wrong.  It was founded as a religiously neutral country.  And the founders weren’t Christians, they were Deists.

There is only one God and his name is Jesus.

Don’t have any use for The Father or the Spirit, do ya ‘pastor’?

I’m tired of people telling me that I can’t say those words.. Listen to me, If you don’t love America, If you don’t like the way we do things I have one thing to say – GET OUT. We don’t worship Buddha, we don’t worship Mohammad, we don’t worship Allah, we worship God, we worship God’s son Jesus Christ.”

Lot’s of Americans worship lots of things.  We’ve got no business telling Americans to get out of America, Reverend Racist.

In a revival type speech, Greenwell Springs Baptist Church pastor Rev. Dennis Terry introduced Family Research Council president Tony Perkins and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Error on two counts then.  First, hopping in bed with a politician.  And second, turning your Church (I say your because it clearly is yours and not God’s)  into a circus.

Christians, according to Rev. Terry, are the conscience of the state and even the key to turning the economy around. The pastor offered some pointed words about abortion, gay marriage, and prayer in schools, shouting about ‘sexual perversion’ and putting God back in Washington, D.C., as Senator Santorum was seen clapping, if not cheering, in the background.

Well I’m pretty socially conservative myself but there’s a difference between being socially conservative AS a Christian and being a pseudo-Christian political panderer.  Hitching the pastoral wagon to ANY candidate, again, is an abandonment of the pastoral office.  Mr Terry has forsaken his post and should no longer be considered a pastor in any sense of the word.  Now, he’s nothing but a political cheerleader.  ‘Rah, rah, Santorum-scum-bah’.  A totally depraved heretic.

Who’s Kidding Who?

Steve Caruso has noticed that Simcha showed up at the ‘Jonah ossuary’ tomb as early as 2005.

So, among the images that have been posted on the Jesus Discovery website, I found three shots of Simcha Jacobovici that were taken back in 2005.  Because of this, I find myself scratching my beard in curiosity as to why they’re mixed in with other photos from a project that took place between 2009 and 2011 (which is where all of the other photos fall).  Granted, they’re nice shots — somewhat dramatic — but they are rather out of place.  Is this so-called “documentary magic”? 🙂

What next, a ‘historical’ book describing how Jesus shows up at Masada and he and Mary Magdalene hang out with the Zealots?  Come on, who’s kidding who?

It’s Election Time!

No, not the boring US election (since no matter who’s in office, your life won’t be bettered or even mildly improved).  No, the election of Pastors in Zurich is at hand.    Giorgio has the details-

Alle vier Jahre müssen sich die reformierten Pfarrerinnen und Pfarrer im Kanton Zürich der Wiederwahl stellen. Das neue Kirchengesetz hat ihre Amtszeit reduziert, um die Einbindung der Kirche in die demokratischen Strukturen zu betonen.
I don’t think it would be very pleasant to have to stand for election to the pastoral office every four years.  On the other hand, it might be nice if church members had to stand for election each year.  Read Giogio’s entire report.  Pretty intriguing seeing how different folk do things.

Bibi Has Wanted War with Iran Since the Early ’90’s at Least

Joel has fished up this very interesting report which shows that Bibi has been fear mongering about Iran since at least as early as 1992.

1992: Israeli parliamentarian Benjamin Netanyahu tells his colleagues that Iran is 3 to 5 years from being able to produce a nuclear weapon – and that the threat had to be “uprooted by an international front headed by the US.”

This Bibi Netanyahu really has a thing for Iran.  It’s kind of pathological.  He’s very, very dangerous this one.  Far more dangerous than Iran.  Not only is he NOT a friend of the US, he is an enemy of peace.

Gee, Just When You Think You Can’t Hear Something Worse About the Catholic Church…

You hear something worse.

At least 10 teenage boys or young men under the age of 21 were surgically castrated “to get rid of homosexuality” while in the care of the Dutch Roman Catholic Church in the 1950s.

The gruesome and senseless facts:

Evidence of the castrations has emerged amid controversy that it was not included in the findings of an official investigation into sexual abuse within the church last year. The NRC Handelsblad newspaper identified Henk Heithuis who was castrated in 1956, while a minor, after reporting priests to the police for abusing him in a Catholic boarding home. Joep Dohmen, the investigative journalist who uncovered the Heithuis case, also found evidence of at least nine other castrations. “These cases are anonymous and can no longer be traced,” he said. “There will be many more. But the question is whether those boys, now old men, will want to tell their story.” Mr Heithuis died in a car crash in 1958, two years after being castrated at the age of 20, while under the age of majority, which was then 21. In 1956 he had accused Catholic clergy of sexually abusing him in his Church run care home.

What didn’t the Church of Rome do in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and before and since?

Who Ruined Luther?

In a word, Staupitz did.  How?  He turned him.  From what?  True theology.  To what?  To mysticism- the greatest plague to ever strike Christianity since gnosticism.

Staupitz turned the attention of Luther to a strong emancipatory force, the spirit of mysticism. Bernard of Clairvaux, Tauler, Suso, Ruysbroeck, Gerson, Gerard de Groote, and the Brothers of the Common Life were active influences with him. Luther admired Tauler so much that from 1515 his sermons became one of his bedside volumes.  — R.H. Murray

Poor Luther.  Imagine how much he could have done if he hadn’t been shackled to the dark arts of mystical ‘Christianity’.

On a related subject- it was in 1924 that Emil Brunner published his magnificently scathing and perfectly contemptuous assessment of Schleiermacher’s theology titled, quite appropriately, Die Mystik und das Wort.   The subtitle is very instructive-  der Gegensatz zwischen moderner Religionsauffassung und christlichem Glauben dargestellt an der Theologie Schleiermachers.  When that book was published Brunner took the volumes in his library which were composed by Schleiermacher and burned them – unceremoniously.  No one has ever loathed ‘mystical’ Christianity more than Brunner.  No one. And he saw in Schleiermacher the exemplar of that curse.

Google Search be-gone, Say Hello to E-Tools

E-Tools.ch is a lightning fast search engine which, unlike Google, doesn’t track you like a bloodthirsty hound.  You can select specific parameters, countries, languages, and domain extensions.  It’s quite useful, so I’m adding it to the Useful Sites section and my own toolbar.  With thanks to Richard Reich for pointing it out on FB.

There’s a Difference Between a “Pooling of Ignorance Bible Study” and Biblical Scholarship

My first Theology course in College was taught by a rancorous curmudgeon who had absolutely no patience for slack thinking or theological ineptitude.  I loved that guy.  One day while in class he used a phrase that caused us all to sit up and take notice:  “I was at a pooling of ignorance Bible study this weekend…” and then he said where.  Someone in class said ‘What did you say?”  He responded, ‘I was at a pooling of ignorance Bible study.  You’re familiar with them: people gather in a classroom in a church basement and talk about the Bible even though they’re completely ignorant about it”.

Boy was that a lively discussion!  But his point was clear: some folk talk about things they have no business talking about and one isn’t automatically qualified to teach a class just because one attends a church.  One should have some aptitude for teaching and some training in the subject that reaches beyond merely tangential contact.

And so now to my main point.  President Carter has written a book on the Bible which he simply is ill qualified to write.  He’s a fine man, a wonderful Christian, a devoted disciple.  He was a terrible President and politician because he lacked the duplicity necessary to be either.  But he simply isn’t a theologian or a biblical scholar.  His writing a book on the ‘tough questions of the Bible’ is the equivalent of Ken Ham writing a book on the science of nuclear engineering.

President Carter is certainly entitled to his views.  He’s entitled to write a book about his views.  But what he isn’t entitled to do is to write a volume in which he attempts to purport himself an expert in the subject.  For example, in the interview to which I’ve linked he’s asked

A lot of people point to the Bible for reasons why gay people should not be in the church, or accepted in any way.

And he responds

Homosexuality was well known in the ancient world, well before Christ was born and Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. In all of his teachings about multiple things -– he never said that gay people should be condemned. I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies.

That’s what we call the ‘argument from silence’.  It’s a logical fallacy.  One can’t argue, theologically (or philosophically) for or against something on the basis of silence.  Jesus didn’t say anything about a lot of things and he did say a lot about other things (like hell, for instance).  But to build a ‘case’ on Jesus’ view of homosexuality in which he approves the behavior from his silence on the subject is bad thinking pure and simple.

Furthermore, Paul’s letter to the Romans is obviously ‘Scripture’ even for President Carter and Paul has a bit to say on the subject.   And finally, it’s equally (and far more legitimate) to argue that Jesus, a practicing Jewish Rabbi, adhered to the Torah and it’s teaching on the subject (which can be found, if you’ll look, in Leviticus) than that he did not.  President Carter isn’t allowed to ‘pick and choose’ his evidence.  He has to deal with the whole of Scripture on any particular subject, as a theologian or biblical scholar is required to do.

President Carter would know all of this if he were qualified in the subject.  It’s dismaying when half truths and misrepresentations about things Biblical are peddled to the public whether it’s a not naked not archaeologist or a former President doing it.

International Conference on the ‘Council of Trent’: Call for Papers

The Catholic University of Leuven invites to submit proposals for the international conference on the Council of Trent, December 2013. On the 4th of December 2013, it will be 450 years since the Council of Trent (1545-1563) was solemnly brought to a close. This Council had an enormous impact on developments in religion and politics, not only in Europe but also beyond.

The international conference, to be held in Leuven from the 4th to the 6th of December 2013, will first shed light on the Tridentine theology and perspective on pastoral care, as the consequence of both the internal struggle to bring about reform within the Catholic Church and the controversy with Protestant Reformation.

Along the same lines, attention will be paid to initiatives subsequently taken by Rome in order to interpret and implement the Council, while at the same time giving shape to the Catholic identity, in confrontation with the Protestant confessions. Further, the conference focuses on three key questions: What kind of changes in the local religious life may be considered as the outcome of the Council? To what degree has the Council contributed, on a European level, to political polarization and confessionalisation? And finally, how were the Tridentine reforms implemented on a more global level, through mission and evangelization?

In each of the above mentioned questions, special attention is given to the contribution of the religious orders, in addition to the interplay between the Catholic and the Protestant Reformation. It is the explicit aim of the conference to bring together junior and senior researchers from different disciplines and confessional backgrounds.

Read more information here or go directly to the Call for Papers.

Via the grand folk at Refo500 (once again).

By the way, if you aren’t familiar with it, the Council of Trent was the Catholic response to the Reformation.  It was essentially the council of retrenchment (since it changed virtually nothing).  A conference on it, at a Catholic University, should nonetheless be quite amazing.

Heretics, Humanists, Spiritualists

I know, you’re thinking ‘what’s the difference, they’re all the same!’ and basically you’re right.  But there are shades of difference worth exploring.  Anyway…

From the awesome folk at Refo500

Die Europäische Melanchthonakademie Bretten organisiert einen Studientag am Samstag, 21. April 2012, mit als Thema ‘Ketzer – Humanisten – Spiritualisten. Der Oberrhein vor und während der Zeit der Reformation’. Der Studientag widmet sich dem Vorfeld und Umfeld des Reformationsgeschehens am Oberrhein.

Der Studientag wird auch in diesem Jahr von der Europäischen Melanchthon Akademie Bretten (EMA) gemeinsam mit dem Verein für Kirchengeschichte der evangelischen Landeskirche in Baden veranstaltet.

Friedrich Reiser, Jakob Wimpfeling und Sebastian Franck, die in den Vorträgen vorgestellt und in Beziehung zueinander gesetzt werden, repräsentieren ganz verschiedene Elemente und Kräfte, die vor und während der Reformationszeit in unserer Region wirksam waren: die waldensisch-hussitische Bewegung als letzte Erscheinungsform der mittelalterlichen Häresien, der Humanismus und der Spiritualismus.

Leitung: Prof. Dr. Johannes Ehmann und PD Dr. Günter Frank.  Lesen Sie hier mehr Informationen und das Programm.


An Invitation to Cambridge

Featuring your friend and mine, Jim Aitken!

France’s Xenophobia

A gunman shot four people outside of a school in Toulouse, France today.

Four people, three of them children, were killed when a gunman opened fire outside a Jewish school in southwest France on Monday, the local prosecutor said, raising a previous toll of three dead.   “He shot at everything he could see, children and adults, and some children were chased into the school,” Michel Valet, the local prosecutor, told journalists, saying the death toll stood at four dead, including three children. He said the children were aged three, six and 10.   Witnesses and parents of pupils said earlier that a teacher and his two children were among the victims in the city of Toulouse, in the third gun attack in a week in the region by a man who fled on a motorbike.  Interior Minister Claude Gueant ordered security to be tightened around all Jewish schools in France after the attack at Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse.

France has become increasingly xenophobic and the madness of this shooting reminds me of the dangers of institutionalized racism the sort of which we’re observing presently in that country.  It isn’t merely Muslims who are targeted when xenophobia rears its ugly head, it’s every ‘outsider’.  This is a disturbing trend.

Mind you, race might not have been the motive in this sick crime- but chances are pretty good that it’s a safe bet it was.

Understanding Jewish Holidays

We Gentiles sometimes get a bit disoriented trying to understand the meaning of Purim and Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah.  Well Dot King has posted this simple to understand chart on Jewish Holidays over on Facebook: