Daily Archives: 21 Mar 2012

Paul Flesher: The Ossuary

Paul’s got a fine essay in Bible and Interpretation today- on the trial of the century’s ossuary.

The supposedly ancient inscription on the Jewish ossuary (an ancient burial box for bones) was only five Aramaic words long, “James son of Joseph brother of Jesus,” and even Bob Simon on Sixty Minutes could see the that last two words, “brother of Jesus,” had been added by a different hand. How hard could it be to prove in court of law that those two words were a modern fake?

So true.  Except the Judge in the case couldn’t.  Flesher continues-

Too hard. That was the view of an Israeli judge when he released his 475-page verdict last week after a seven-year long trial. Judge Aharon Farkash concluded “the prosecution failed to prove beyond all reasonable doubt…that the ossuary is a forgery.”

Enjoy the rest as I did- especially these paragraphs-

Let me make one last observation. The James Ossuary is a supposed antique object without provenience. Because the state of Israel allows the sale of some ancient objects according to a tight set of regulations (usually impossible to enforce), there is a widespread trade in looted and forged antiquities. The buyers of these items range from tourists seeking a souvenir to take home to wealthy, dedicated collectors willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for an object.

Looting robs true ancient items of all information concerning their historical context and prevents all humanity from using them to learn about our shared past. Forged objects and inscriptions mix with authentic looted items in this shadowy trade and can fool even the most dedicated and learned of experts.

Many of the scholars who have promoted the James Ossuary inscription as authentic, such as Andre Lemaire and Robert Deutsch, have published unprovenienced inscriptions. Non-scholars such as Hershel Shanks, repeatedly argue for the publication of unprovenienced objects and inscriptions. They say, how can we let all of this material be ignored? The James Ossuary makes clear why it should be ignored, because you never know when it is forged or authentic. Even if you are fairly certain of authenticity of an unprovenienced item, its date and geographic location remain unknown. If the item is published and then used in scholarship, it can distort the historical record.

Amen and amen.  It’s a shame many of our colleagues ignore such sage advice.

Boy Sometimes People are Really, Really Doofy

via Rick Meigs on G+

Giorgio Girardet Reviews the Basel Catechism

Here. After summarizing the content he observes

Der auch downloadbare Text soll eine Debatte auslösen, soll aufgrund der Rückmeldungen noch nachgebessert werden. Die ebenso verständliche wie theologisch wetterfeste Sprache zeigen etwas, was alle grossen Dichter deutscher Zunge, vom linken Brecht bis zum grossbürgerlichen Thomas Mann, wussten: Die Beschäftigung mit der Bibel verhilft zu klarer, wirkungsvoller Sprache, weshalb dieser Text nicht nur von Menschen mit pädagogischen oder religiösen Interessen gelesen und diskutiert werden sollte, sondern auch von Kulturbeflissenen.

You can download it here.

Oh Pentebabbleists…

Do those folk really believe this stuff? It has nothing to do with the New Testament, Christianity, the Holy Spirit, or anything else. It’s just pure insanity- and yet, there are folk, evidently, who swallow it hook line and sinker.

Via Chris Tilling.


The official website of a forthcoming movie that’s sure to stir discussion- and it isn’t made in Canada!

Hellbound? Teaser Trailer 1080 from Darren Hull Studios Inc. on Vimeo.

This is What Can Happen When Religious People are ‘Self-Taught’

The Associated Press reports of the Toulouse butcher-

Mohamed Merah

Just a few weeks ago, Mohamed Merah partied at a nightclub, and an acquaintance noticed nothing out of the ordinary about the former car body shop worker who another friend said liked to talk about “cars, bikes, girls and sport.”  … Prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters that Merah was a self-taught Salafi who had been to Afghanistan twice and had trained in the Pakistani militant stronghold of Waziristan. He also had a long criminal record, the prosecutor said, adding that the suspected gunman’s brother had been implicated in a 2007 network that sent militant fighters to Iraq.

Self taught is he?  He had the world’s worst teacher.

UPDATE:  Here’s a second, clearer photo (from the Times of Israel)

Judgment Day for the Saints

CNN emails

New Orleans Saints coach suspended for year, team loses draft picks, faces fine in “bounty” scandal.

It’s judgment day in New Orleans.  May the fines be steep and the lamentation loud.

UPDATE:  Here’s more from CNN-

The NFL is suspending former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams indefinitely and Saints head coach Sean Payton for one year because of the team’s bounty program, the league said Wednesday.  The league also is suspending Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis for the 2012 season’s first eight regular-season games, and Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt for the first six regular-season games, the NFL said in a news release.  In addition, the Saints will be fined $500,000 and forfeit their second-round selections in the 2012 and 2013 NFL drafts, the league said.

‘Be sure, your sins will find you out…’

If You Aren’t Confrontational…

You aren’t Biblical.  Take, as one example of hundreds, the following from Jeremiah-

7 I brought you into a bountiful country, To eat its fruit and its goodness. But when you entered, you defiled My land And made My heritage an abomination. 8 The priests did not say,`Where is the LORD?’ And those who handle the law did not know Me; The rulers also transgressed against Me; The prophets prophesied by Baal, And walked after things that do not profit. 9 “Therefore I will yet bring charges against you,” says the LORD, “And against your children’s children I will bring charges. 10 For pass beyond the coasts of Cyprus and see, Send to Kedar and consider diligently, And see if there has been such a thing. 11 Has a nation changed its gods, Which are not gods? But My people have changed their Glory For what does not profit. 12 Be astonished, O heavens, at this, And be horribly afraid; Be very desolate,” says the LORD. 13 “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns– broken cisterns that can hold no water. 14 “Is Israel a servant? Is he a home born slave? Why is he plundered? 15 The young lions roared at him, and growled; They made his land waste; His cities are burned, without inhabitant. 16 Also the people of Noph and Tahpanhes Have broken the crown of your head. 17 Have you not brought this on yourself, In that you have forsaken the LORD your God When He led you in the way? 18 And now why take the road to Egypt, To drink the waters of Sihor? Or why take the road to Assyria, To drink the waters of the River? 19 Your own wickedness will correct you, And your backslidings will rebuke you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing That you have forsaken the LORD your God, And the fear of Me is not in you,” Says the Lord GOD of hosts. (Jer 2:7-19 NKJ).

To Jeremiah’s credit he was fearless, as were all the prophets, apostles, and of course Jesus himself as well as Paul. And I could also add all those theologians throughout the history of the Church who behaved the same way. They were unafraid to confront wrong. If you aren’t being confrontational when it’s necessary, you aren’t being biblical.

Yet in these mamby pampy milch-toast days of ours if you confront evil you’re ‘intolerant’. It’s time to disabuse ourselves of that idiotic nonsense; it’s time for Christian people to stand up for what’s right and true, even if it infuriates the world that too many are willing to bow the knee to just to be ‘liked’. To hell (literally) with this quest for being ‘liked’. Confront what needs to be confronted. Make a difference.

And then, if some dimwitted panderer tells you that you’re being confrontational, tell them to take it up with every Christian who has ever been substantial, and with God. “Do not fear those who can kill the body. Rather, fear the one who can kill both body and soul- in hell!’

Hans Küng is Waiting for Revolution

If you’re in Zurich or vicinity you can hear him talk about it:

„Warten auf die Revolution“ analysiert und sucht nach Antworten. Wie befreien wir uns aus den Sachzwängen der Wirtschaft und der Politik? Wie können wir die Veränderung gestalten? Wie wollen wir in Zukunft leben? In fünf Vorträgen beleuchten bedeutende Referenten verschiedene Konfliktzonen der modernen Gesellschaft. Miriam Meckel untersuchte am 4. März den digitalen Imperialismus. Hans Küng ordnet das Zusammenleben der Religionen. Tom Hodgkinson berichtet vom Glück und der Sprengkraft des einfachen Lebens. Saskia Sassen beleuchtet die Formen des urbanen Widerstandes. Und Jeremy Rifkin zeigt einen möglichen Ausweg aus dem kriegerischen Zeitalter der fossilen Energieträger.

In der zweiten Ausgabe der Reihe am 25. März spricht Hans Küng im Pfauen. Der Schweizer, einer der bedeutendsten und streitbarsten Theologen unserer Zeit, will die religiöse Spaltung überwinden. Der Weltfrieden, so Küng, ist nur durch Religionsfrieden zu erreichen: mit einem neuen Weltethos, das sich aus den Quellen aller Weltreligionen und humanistischen Traditionen speist und keinen Glauben über den anderen erhebt. Pünktlich zu seinem Vortrag in Zürich erscheint sein neues Buch „Jesus“ sowie im Herbst das „Handbuch Weltethos“.

There’s more information here. Via.

U.S. Oil Companies Are Exporting US Gasoline instead of Supplying American Consumers

Fascinating facts from the EIA out today.  Did you know, for instance, that

The U.S. imported 532,000 barrels per day of gasoline and 141,000bpd of distillate fuels. However, during the same time frame, the U.S. exported 616,000bpd of gasoline and 1.124 million bpd (million barrels per day) of distillates. In total, U.S. refineries exported 3.1 million barrels per DAY of oil and products! (These are four week rolling averages).

So, while gas prices keep rising, your beloved, government subsidized oil industry isn’t ‘feeding the hungry here at home’ they’re ‘feeding foreign consumers’.

It’s so heartwarming to know that the US Congress not only funds big oil, but they do it with our money….

Fox News is Simply Beneath Contempt

Since his tragic death on February 26, Trayvon Martin — an unarmed 17-year-old African-American shot by “neighborhood watch volunteer” George Zimmerman — has become national news. Martin, a good student with no criminal record, was killed by Zimmerman on his way home from the 7-11. Zimmerman was carrying a 9 millimeter handgun. Martin was carrying a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. (If you are unfamilar with the story, check out our primer on what everyone should know about Trayvon Martin.)

Martin has merited coverage by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and USA Today. The story has been covered by all three broadcast networks and extensively on cable. But there is one outlet that has barely mentioned Trayvon Martin — Fox News.

Here’s a breakdown of the coverage of Trayvon Martin on the three major cable networks from the day of his death through today at noon:

If you’re watching Fox and getting your news from it, you’re an idiot.  And probably a racist, just like Fox News.

Is it Really a ‘Jonah Ossuary’ Or is it a Vampire?

Because no matter how many stakes are driven into the heart of Tabor’s arguments, the matter just won’t die.  On his blog Prof. Tabor continues to insist that the thing is the thing he and Simcha say it is…  but oh my goodness, it just isn’t.

Yet, if you’re still unconvinced (why???), Bob Cargill drives yet another massive nail in the coffin (to mix metaphors) – a nail which joins the dozen nails already driven in by Rollston, Magness, Meyers, and Galbraith to name just a tiny few.

Cargill also provides a helpful chart to assist folk in keeping up with the numerous twists and turns the vampire-esque Taborian Jonah Ossuary theory keeps taking…  and believe me, at this stage we all need a program guide.

Die empty unsubstantiated theory, die!

Happy Birthday, J.S. Bach!

The Toulouse Butcher Named

Al Arabiya tweets

French school gunman named as Mohammed Merah, Afghanistan’s Kandahar Prison Director tells Reuters #AlArabiya

According to the news on the tv box, the gunman did it to ‘avenge’ the Palestinians…  Perhaps he didn’t learn one of life’s basic lessons: two wrongs don’t make a right.

And as always with cowards, he’s holed up in his apartment.  These terrorists are never willing to man up and take the legal consequences of their despicable and vile acts.

Egypt’s Not Quite So Welcoming Anymore, At Least for Christians

Nabil Gergis, a Coptic Christian, lived for nearly two decades in the Egyptian town of Amriya, raising his children and managing a modest business. Those ties couldn’t protect him after a sex video purportedly showing his brother with a Muslim woman began to circulate.

Angry residents in the conservative, Muslim-majority town held protests and set fire to the Gergis family businesses. None of the attackers was prosecuted. Instead, a committee of tribal elders, local lawmakers and security officials ordered the 11 members of the Gergis family — the brother, Nabil and others — to leave town.

The story of Amriya demonstrates one of the reasons Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority and even some in the Muslim majority feel the situation is precarious, particularly since the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak a year ago. The rule of law, they and human rights groups say, is being eclipsed by such “reconciliation councils,” trying to fill the security vacuum left by Mubarak’s fall.

Christians are being forced out of many places in the Middle East (Iraq, Egypt, etc.).  They’re a dying species in Muslim lands.  Or more exactly, an endangered species in the places where ‘the religion of peace’ reigns.  Muslims, therefore, shouldn’t be surprised when many Christians perceive that Islam is waging a war of extermination on Christianity.  Islam has only itself to blame for its negative P.R. since it stands by and allows the attacks to go unchallenged.

Zionists as Israel’s Worst Enemy

…  What do you call a group that, at a time of extreme tension in the most incendiary location in the Old City, supports fundamentalist radicals in a push to overturn a precarious balance between faiths, a move that could set off massive violence and cause untold damage to Israel?   Answer… : The Zionist Organization of America.  You know the one. “The oldest pro-Israel organization in the United States.” The proud, unrelenting crusader against demonization of Israel.

In a recent statement, the ZOA took up the plight of radical rightist Jews who demand the right to pray on the Temple Mount. No matter that the demand is in direct violation of long-established rabbinical prohibitions. No matter that it contravenes Israeli security regulations aimed at maintaining a fragile calm.

Zionists aren’t always friends of Israel.  Or the world.  In fact, come to think of it, ‘Christian Zionists’ aren’t the friends of either.

Anywho- Read the rest.