Monthly Archives: April 2012

I Want One!

Via Irene Hahn on FB

Scholars Won’t Be Gathering Where Anthony Le Donne Was Fired

Earlier today Joel noted that the very school which fired Le Donne was planning a conference on, of all things, the Historical Jesus!  Irony of ironies, the very school which didn’t see fit to retain on its faculty a very fine Historical Jesus scholar was hosting a conference on the subject… how bizarre.

At any rate, Joel said the event should be boycotted- but something even better than that has happened:

Dear Friends,

As Anthony Le Donne’s colleague, co-editor, and co-organizer for the conference, let me say that I’m as destroyed as anyone at the unexpected dismissal of him. One of the first things we decided, however, was that the conference would no longer be on LCU’s campus. We are currently seeking an alternative host site.


I’m sure they will have more than ample choices.  Good for the conference organizers and participants.  Yes, I applaud them.

Ministers Who Become Atheists Are As Interesting to Me…

As vegans who become vegetarians.  I just find it completely impossible to care.  Quite frankly the only reason I’m even bothering to mention it is because my daughter said I should.  And I’m a good dad, so I have.

Finis.  Now, on to something I really do care about… which is anything other than whiny clergy.

When Ideology and Indoctrination are More Important Than Education: The Bizarre Firing of Anthony Le Donne

When ideology and indoctrination are more important than education, it’s the best and the brightest and usually the most faithful who suffer the consequences, as is certainly the case in the bizarre firing of Anthony Le Donne, who was, for no really good reason, let go from his ‘Christian school’ merely because of a little book he wrote. A book, by the way, which is both excellent and informative.

Anthony writes (and I reduplicate it here with his permission) –

I am writing with disappointing news. After over a year of pressure from Lincoln Christian University donors, concerned citizens, and certain employees, the president of the university has decided to terminate my employment. I have been told that this decision is in direct response to the publication of my popular-level book, Historical Jesus (Eerdmans, 2011). I have no doubt that the LCU administration made a staunch effort on my behalf, but eventually needed to assuage the fears of (what I am told) is a largely anti-intellectual constituency.

Many of you have emailed with sympathies. Thank you for your concern. I can honestly say that I am quite well. I hold no animosity toward the administration of LCU and I am grateful for the opportunity to have met so many kindred spirits here in central Illinois. My deepest feeling at this point is concern for the colleagues I leave behind at LCU. The phrases “scapegoat”, “akademische Freiheit,” and “the state of evangelical higher education” have been frequent refrains in the many supportive emails I’ve received in the last week. I feel no need to make any statements at this point about these topics. I will only say that I remain proud of my work and stand behind it.

anthony le donne

Anthony Le Donne, PhD

My sincere hope is that Anthony finds an employer who rightly values his present contributions to the field of biblical studies and will allow him the freedom to pursue further studies which, like his previous ones, perform a very valuable service not only to the academy, but also to the Church.

A Whole Array of Sciency People Have Something to Say About the Verdict of the ‘Trial of the Century’

Over at Bible and Interpretation.  In a word, the authors of the essay believe it vindicates their collective views and calls into question the views of those who know the inscription’s second half to be bogus.  Give it a look if you like.

The Azekah Coin

During the survey at Tel Azekah, among the many pottery shards found, a coin was discovered on the surface.

The diameter of the coin is 23 mm, and it is fairly heavy for its size. The core of the coin is made of bronze and it is covered with silver in order to give the illusion that it is pure silver. One side of the coin depicts the profile of Athena, the patron goddess of Athens, and the other depicts an owl, the goddess’ symbol.

The coin is a Levantine imitation of the Athenian Tetra-Drachma, which was used as universal currency in the 5th and the 4th centuries BCE, very much like the dollar or the euro is used today.

Via The Lautenschläger Azekah Expedition on FB.

Luther: On Rome

Print shows Luther burning papal bull of excom...

Print shows Luther burning papal bull of excommunication, with vignettes from Luther's life and portraits of Hus, Savonarola, Wycliffe, Cruciger, Melanchton, Bugenhagen, Gustav Adolf, & Bernhard, duke of Saxe-Weimar. 1 print : lithograph, color.

Luther’s description of his visit to Rome is priceless:

“I wouldn’t take one thousand florins for not having seen Rome because I wouldn’t have been able to believe such things if I had been told by somebody without having seen them for myself. We were simply laughed at because we were such pious monks. A Christian was taken to be nothing but a fool. I know priests who said six or seven masses while I said only one. They took money for them and I didn’t. In short, there’s no disgrace in Italy except to be poor. Murder and theft are still punished a little, for they must do this. Otherwise no sin is too great for them.”

The Rome of Luther’s day sounds like it could be any city in America right now.  No wonder Luther wasn’t impressed.

Zwingli and Faber Weren’t Exactly Friends…

Deutsch: Holzschnitt von Hans Asper (ca. 1499 ...

Deutsch: Holzschnitt von Hans Asper (ca. 1499 – 1571) des Schweizer Reformators Ulrich Zwingli (1484 – 1531). English: Woodcut by Hans Asper (ca. 1499 – 1571) of Swiss reformer Huldrych Zwingli (1484 – 1531).

30 April, 1526 saw the publication of Huldrych Zwingli’s Über den ungesandten Sendbrief Fabers Zwinglis Antwort. It demonstrated once again, as if it needed further demonstration, that Zwingli and Faber weren’t any longer capable of being BFF’s (though at one point they actually had been).

Sehend, allerliebsten brueder und fründ, wie der allmechtig gott durch sin sorg, die er für uns treyt, das harfürbringt, darumb wir angsthafft sind, wie es one zerrüttung harfürbracht werde. Ich hatt sorg, wie ich allen glöubigen ze verston gäbe, daß die disputation, gen Baden gelegt, uss dero ufsatz, denen doctor Faber wirbt und schafft, angeschlagen wär; dann ich die untrüw, die mit gaaben und valschem underschieben unwarer dingen, nit gern anrueren wolt. So kumpt der gnädig himmelisch vatter und hat Johannsen Fabern die sporn also ggeben, das er hinden und vor ufschlecht und springt, daß imm alles das uss dem sack empfalt, daran man den ufsatz offenlich erkennt. Gott sye gedancket, der unser nimmer vergißt!

And those are just the opening lines. As Schaff notes

The question of the Reformation was repeatedly brought before the Swiss Diet, and not a few liberal voices were heard in favor of abolishing certain crying abuses; but the majority of the cantons, especially the old forest-cantons around the lake of Lucerne, resisted every innovation. Berne was anxious to retain her political supremacy, and vacillated. Zwingli had made many enemies by his opposition to the foreign military service and pensions of his countrymen. Dr. Faber, the general vicar of the diocese of Constance, after a visit to Rome, openly turned against his former friend, and made every effort to unite the interests of the aristocracy with those of the hierarchy. “Now,” he said, “the priests are attacked, the nobles will come next.” At last the Diet resolved to settle the difficulty by a public disputation.

Further on Faber, a very brief note by Walther Köhler titled War Johann Fabri von Leutkirch Dominikaner?

The debates of the 16th century which centered so on the question of the Supper may seem excessive to us- but the theology behind the observation of the Eucharist was the central theological theme of the era.  If you’re wrong on the Eucharist, you’re wrong on salvation and its acquirement.  And if you’re wrong on that, it doesn’t matter what you’re right on.

Hershel Shanks Has Done it More than Once

The other day I mentioned that Shanks has been lifting, without permission, evidently by means of a ‘mole’, materials from a closed (which means inaccessible to the general public) discussion list.

Evidently he didn’t just lift something from Niels Peter Lemche (which wasn’t a quote of Lemche at all but of Oestigaard- no matter, Shanks still used it in BAR to malign Lemche), he’s also lifted something from Joe Zias-  A friend emails-

The May June BAR has a piece on page 22 titled: “Joe Zias ‘Hershel Has No Sense of Humor.'” which then quotes from a Jan 12, 2012 message to the biblical studies list:

Re: [biblical-studies] on talpiot

BAR publishing anything which goes against the James Ossuary. Dreaming, Phillip, remember what happened when one of the DSS editors and I told Shanks and his assistant quietly and discretely that we had seen the James ossuary independently of one another, decades after Golan claims to have published it? Not ‘having a sense of humor’ he retaliated with the ‘Lying Scholars ‘ article and published a 6-7 page article accusing us of lying. When my photo alongside the dealer who ‘knoweth not Zias’ appeared in the article, he then mentioned in a one sentence note in the next issue, ‘apparently the said dealer knows Joe Zias’. Like I’ve always maintained theres a BAR Crowd behind much of this, its a type of mentality in which ones career is placed before the profession. The fact that it’s ‘biblical’ raises a lot of questions…particularly when some of the Talpiot crowd have to date, found 4 tombs of Jesus and U-Haul that ossuary from valley to valley, cave to cave. If you are a member of the BAR crowd you get ‘diplomatic immunity’ from the magazine at least and an opp. to lecture at those ArchFests each year. I don’t know of any other academic discipline which tolerates such behavior, certainly not in the world of anthropology here in IL. As one colleague told me it’s not what you write but how many times you appear on the History Channel, Discovery etc that counts at some universities.

Evidently Mr Shanks and/or his representatives really do have no problem at all ignoring rules to which they assent. I suppose if it serves a purpose, any act is justifiable, including quoting out of context and/ or taking and distributing what you don’t have the right to take and distribute. I’m more disappointed with Shanks’ methodology now than I’ve ever been before. It’s just simply wrong.

The Azekah Excavation in the News

This summer, Tel Aviv University’s Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology is adding another excavation to their already expansive list of seven active digs. Azekah, a city of the ancient kingdom of Judah that features prominently in the Bible — both as a main border city and the fortification which towers above the Ellah valley — is the site of the legendary battle between David and giant Goliath. The new dig will be led by TAU’s Prof. Oded Lipschits, Dr. Yuval Gadot, and Prof. Manfred Oeming from Heidelberg University, Germany.

The rest of the article is very good and very specific. Give it a read.  [HT Oded Lipschits on FB]

Manchester City…

That would be the team I hope wins today when they play Manchester United.  Go City!

via Ken Weathers on FB

They take their football seriously in Manchester!

Calling Someone a Philistine Is Really a Compliment

Philistine Bichrome pottery vessel

Philistine Bichrome pottery vessel

The Philistines were really amazingly cultured, as the excavation at Gath (and elsewhere) has shown.  This reminder of that simple fact provoked by the appearance of a paper by Louise Hitchcock titled ‘Who Are you Calling a Philistine?‘  You’ll, I think, enjoy it.

[Though it has to be said that we would all enjoy it more if there were an announcement of the discovery of Goliath’s spoon].

From Now On You Can Call Me The Anti-ultracrepidarian

ul·tra·crep·i·dar·i·an [uhl-truh-krep-i-dair-ee-uhn]
adjective 1. noting or pertaining to a person who criticizes, judges, or gives advice outside the area of his or her expertise: The play provides a classic, simplistic portrayal of an ultracrepidarian mother-in-law.

1800–20; ultra- + Latin crepidam ‘sole of a shoe, sandal’ (< Greek krepis ‘shoe’); in allusion to the words of Pliny the Elder ne supra crepidam sutor judicare ‘let the cobbler not judge above the sandal’; cf. the English proverb “let the cobbler stick to his last”.

With thanks to Alastair Roberts for telling me about this delightful word which perfectly summarizes the concept of dilettantism.


via Leigh Anne Watts on FB

And God always sees who we really our even if our ‘costume’ persuades others otherwise.

Ours is the Age of Dilettantism: the Death of Facts

When historians look back at the beginning of the 20th century, when all of us now living have long been dead, they’ll, I think, describe it as the ‘Age of Dilettantism’.  And they’ll do it because our age relies on half facts and internet assembled philosophies and the Dreck of that dreadful monstrosity and bastardization of knowledge called Wikipedia.  Or, as NPR puts it more gently:

According to columnist Rex Huppke, there was a recent death that you might have missed. It wasn’t an actor, musician or famous politician, but facts.  In a piece for the Chicago Tribune, Huppke says facts – things we know to be true – are now dead.  Huppke says the final blow came on Wednesday, April 18, when Republican Rep. Allen West of Florida declared that about 80 members of the Democratic Party in Congress are members of the Communist Party.  “That was the death-blow for facts,” Huppke tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz.

Politicians no longer care about facts.  Professors seldom now rely on facts (driven most often by ideology instead).  Students no longer care about facts- they’re happy to crop and paste from Wikipedia and call it research.  And the ‘average Joe’ already knows (or thinks he does) what the facts are.  His mind is made up and no mere fact will get in the way of that.

That is our age, the age of dilettantism.

“[Facts are] survived by rumor and innuendo, two brothers, and then a sister, emphatic assertion,” he says. “They’re all grieving right now, but we wish the best for them.”

Now That’s The Truth! On What Education is Really About

via Tim Bulkeley

Come on ABC, Surely You Can Spell

ABC news just tweeted a bit ago-

Is Joel working for ABC now?

Apple’s Not Exactly a Good Corporate Citizen

Apple, the world’s most profitable technology company, doesn’t design iPhones here. It doesn’t run AppleCare customer service from this city. And it doesn’t manufacture MacBooks or iPads anywhere nearby.


Yet, with a handful of employees in a small office here in Reno, Apple has done something central to its corporate strategy: it has avoided millions of dollars in taxes in California and 20 other states. Apple’s headquarters are in Cupertino, Calif. By putting an office in Reno, just 200 miles away, to collect and invest the company’s profits, Apple sidesteps state income taxes on some of those gains.

Apple’s strategy: charge high prices for products made outside the United States where wages are poor and taxes are low and use any means necessary to avoid meeting its obligations as a member of American society.

Setting up an office in Reno is just one of many legal methods Apple uses to reduce its worldwide tax bill by billions of dollars each year. As it has in Nevada, Apple has created subsidiaries in low-tax places like Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the British Virgin Islands — some little more than a letterbox or an anonymous office — that help cut the taxes it pays around the world.

Apple may be the sort of company that follows the law and uses its many loopholes to its advantage, but legality doesn’t equal morality and Apple simply has no interest in sharing its part of the culture’s burdens.  And that makes it evil.

Dorothy, Thanks for Your Support

Dot King writes

Jim Davila, a highly respected professor at the leading Scottish university, has blogged about a rather stupid claim of “slander” made against Mark Goodacre, Jim West and Robert Cargill by  Nicole Austin, Associate Producer on The Resurrection Tomb Mystery documentary (The Jesus Discovery in Canada):

“You are repeating the same slander which has dominated the Cargill/West/Goodacre blogs and has kept the majority of true scholars away from this discussion.”

“Prof Davila has links back to stories about the “Jesus Discovery” and also repeats the point made by someone else:

“she is using it inaccurately: “slander” refers to spoken defamation whereas “libel” refers to written”

I’ve been a teeny little busy working on trying to get a few thousand stolen antiquities back to their countries, and have not had time to blog about this, although I have received and sometimes answered many hundreds of messages about it.

So Ms Austin if you’re going to take legal action for “slander” against “the Cargill/West/Goodacre blogs” then please add “the Lobel King blog” to your list. I may quibble over their details, but I agree whole-heartedly with their general conclusion – and the sort of “academic” claims made by the scholars the TV show producers hired should be able to be debated by their peers.

She says a bit more, which you can read for yourself.  And then she concludes

I was unable to fully discuss Jacobovici claims about the 2009 tomb discoveries, but I feel that I would like to go on the record about my views of the majority of his interpretations of archaeological evidence. This is my official, on the record, view:

Indeed.  My sentiments exactly.

Pentebabbleists Beware

via Michael Acidri on FB