Daily Archives: 10 Apr 2012

Calvin: On Music in Church

It is certain that the use of singing in churches (which I may mention in passing) is not only very ancient, but was also used by the Apostles, as we may gather from the words of Paul, “I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also,” (1 Cor. 14:15). In like manner he says to the Colossians, “Teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord,” (Col. 3:16). In the former passage, he enjoins us to sing with the voice and the heart; in the latter, he commends spiritual Songs, by which the pious mutually edify each other.

That it was not an universal practice, however, is attested by Augustine (Confess. Lib. 9 cap. 7), who states that the church of Milan first began to use singing in the time of Ambrose, when the orthodox faith being persecuted by Justina, the mother of Valentinian, the vigils of the people were more frequent than usual; and that the practice was afterwards followed by the other Western churches. He had said a little before that the custom came from the East.485 He also intimates (Retract. Lib. 2) that it was received in Africa in his own time. His words are, “Hilarius, a man of tribunitial rank, assailed with the bitterest invectives he could use the custom which then began to exist at Carthage, of singing hymns from the book of Psalms at the altar, either before the oblation, or when it was distributed to the people; I answered him, at the request of my brethren.” And certainly if singing is tempered to a gravity befitting the presence of God and angels, it both gives dignity and grace to sacred actions, and has a very powerful tendency to stir up the mind to true zeal and ardor in prayer. We must, however, carefully beware, lest our ears be more intent on the music than our minds on the spiritual meaning of the words.

Augustine confesses (Confess. Lib. 10 cap. 33) that the fear of this danger sometimes made him wish for the introduction of a practice observed by Athanasius, who ordered the reader to use only a gentle inflection of the voice, more akin to recitation than singing. But on again considering how many advantages were derived from singing, he inclined to the other side. If this moderation is used, there cannot be a doubt that the practice is most sacred and salutary. On the other hand, songs composed merely to tickle and delight the ear are unbecoming the majesty of the Church, and cannot but be most displeasing to God (Institutes 3.20.32).

Mark Goodacre: On Nightline Tonight Discussing the Talpiot ‘Jonah Ossuary’

With thanks to Joel Watts for mentioning it.

“The Jonah Ossuary”: Discussed in 1981 By An Actual Archaeologist

The ASOR Blog observes, in part,

It has come to the attention of the ASOR Blog that a newspaper article about the so-called “Patio Tomb” in East Talpiyot was published in Hebrew in DAVAR on May 22, 1981 (this tomb has also been called “Talpiyot Tomb B”).


One of the ossuaries in this tomb has been dubbed by Tabor and Jacobovici as “the Jonah Ossuary,” because of Tabor and Jacobovici’s interpretation of the ornamentation on the ossuary as that of “Jonah and the Whale” .

That’s well enough known these days and the blowback from Tabor especially against anyone who disagrees with his interpretation has been vitriolic and virulent.  Nonetheless Rollston and Meyers observe

… This ossuary in Kloner’s incomplete report is labeled #1). Significantly, however, it is clear from the article in DAVAR that the ornamentation on the ossuaries identified in 1981 include the following: (1) Architectural features (perhaps of the Second Temple?) and (2) An amphora (Heb.agartal). These two understandings of the ornamentation are the very interpretations that were proposed on the ASOR blog (in March 2011 [sic.  2012 is meant] ).

Kloner is obviously correct, isn’t he.

Tabor and Jacobovici did not mention in their book that the ossuary had been previously discussed in print and (most importantly) that the design was long ago suggested to be an amphora. Should one assume that they had not seen this article?

Or, more likely, they simply didn’t wish to mention the possibility because it didn’t fit with their ‘amazing Jesus Discovery’ scenario.

The Protection of Holy Sites Law in Israel now covers 137 sites. Not one of these is Christian or Muslim.

Rashid Khalidi’s essay in the Daily Beast is authentically troubling.  What Israel is doing to a Muslim Cemetery is unconscionable.

The Simon Weisenthal Center is planning to build a Museum of Tolerance on the Muslim Mamilla cemetery. This project is a grotesque attempt to erase the well-established history of a continuous Muslim presence in the city that dates back over a millennium.


Last month, new images surfaced that confirm excavations in the ancient Cemetery continue in secret, proving false the repeated claims of the Wiesenthal Center that there would be no further digging on the historic site. Footage made public by the Center for Constitutional Rights shows new power equipment and electrical supply within a fenced-off and covered pit, that borders an as-yet undisturbed portion of the cemetery. As an American from New York who can trace the burial of my own ancestors at Mamilla back to the 14th century, I can only hope that the news of likely additions to the hundreds of remains already wrongfully disposed of increases the urgent calls to stop this abuse of the dead before the site is entirely desecrated.


There is no justification for these desecrations. If they were occurring in any other place on earth, the outcry would be deafening. Unfortunately, the treatment of Mamilla is not an anomaly; Muslim and Christian sites of cultural, religious and historical significance continue to be systematically disrespected by Israeli authorities. The Protection of Holy Sites Law in Israel now covers 137 sites. Not one of these is Christian or Muslim.

Israel must be told to halt this immorality. Now. Today. This moment.

Rats, Santorum is Out…

Which Republican can I not vote for now besides Gingrich and Romney?  I wonder who the ‘fringe nut’ party will be, since I can’t, and won’t, vote for any incumbent.   (I’m morally opposed to returning politicians to office.  I believe in one term per).

The Ultimate Hebrew Dictionary

Via Ha’aretz

Though this massive historical dictionary could take another generation to complete, it will become accessible to the general public online within a few months if the language academy receives the necessary funding. Until now the database has been open only to researchers and subscribers.


Every text entered into the databank is read by six different people before the entry is finalized. First the text is read and entered into the computer, then linguists analyze the text by examining the meaning of each word, the lexicographic root and the structure. Finally, the dictionary entries are written. The result is a kind of super-concordance of the Hebrew language.

“In this way you can take any word, know how old it is, how it has been transformed over the years and what meanings it takes on,” said linguist Chaim Cohen, the current editor of the dictionary and the third since its inception. “The value of the dictionary is not only as a dictionary but rather as a basis for research on non-dictionary issues.”

On the computer screen of one of the dictionary researchers is the Talmudic expression “Mai ekhpat lekha” – What difference does it make to you? One can’t help but think of its current abbreviated incarnation, “ma khpatkha?” – Whadda you care? – in the Hebrew of today.

It sounds amazing.  I hope I live another generation to see it.  Or at least to bedevil people for another 40 years.  Either way works for me.

Rick Steves: “I’ve Been Duped”

Mr Steves, a well known travel guide author, asserts that the media has misled the American public about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. He notes:

I’ve been duped.

Do you know the frustration you feel when you believed in something strongly and then you realize that the information that made you believe was from a source with an agenda to deceive?

I just watched a powerful and courageous documentary called Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land. It certainly has its own agenda and doesn’t present balanced coverage. Still, it showed me how my understanding of the struggles in the Middle East has been skewed by most of our mainstream media. I saw how coverage of the Israeli/Palestinian problem is brilliantly controlled and shaped. I pride myself in understanding how the media works… and I find I’ve been bamboozled….

In my view, many Palestinians live under inhumane conditions, and U.S. taxpayers help to make it happen. Please, watch this and then share your impressions. Criticism of Israel’s policies is not automatically anti-Semitic (see J-Street for an example of a pro-Israel, pro-peace group). In fact, the irony is that for Israel’s hard-liners, their clever PR strategy could be their own worst enemy. While Israel certainly deserves security on its land, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory (in Gaza and the West Bank) degrades Israel and drives Palestinians to desperation. The question of whether Israel is conducting a brutal military occupation or a reasonable defense against terrorism gets no real airtime. If we care about the long-term security of Israel, we have a responsibility to understand what our government is funding and supporting.

He’s not alone.  A lot of people have been duped.

Matthew Kalman: 50% of Israelis Don’t Go to Jerusalem

I found this report really, really intriguing.

Mary Wept…

Via Antonio

La Madonna ortodossa che piangeva lacrime di olio vegetale: ve la ricordate? È uscito l’articolo di Massimo Polidoro. Buona lettura.

He’s such a skeptic…

James Tabor ‘Calls Me Out’

Tabor sent this letter to various and sundry folk today:

Subject: Enough is Enough–Calling out Jim West

To: Mark Goodacre , Cargill Robert , McGrath James , Antonio Lombatti , “Christopher Rollston A.” , Andy Vaughn , Crossan John Dominic , Greg Snyder , Richard Bauckham , Jack Sasson , Heiser Michael , Rami Arav , “Dr. at UHL Pfann” , Mark Elliott , “Paul Flesher V.M.” , Gibson Shimon , Stephen Goranson , “Davila R. James” , James Crossley , DeConick April , jasonastaples@gmail.com, Paul Anderson , ce-jones@ascsa.edu.gr
Cc: Charlesworth James

Dear colleagues,

I was rather disgusted at Jim West’s latest blog post against our colleague Jim Charlesworth, and he signed it as if folks who don’t understand might think it came from our colleague Jack, see URL below. Jim can speak for himself, of course, though I doubt if he desires to stoop into the low world that West inhabits, but I decided, since I too have been the constant target of West’s slanderous and unprofessional posts, to speak out. I have posted the message below on his blog. He has already replied, I think he sits at his computer 24/7, charging that only those we have bribed with money would support our views.

I would ask your help in telling West, either publicly or privately, to cease and desist. He is simply a poisonous factor in our academic world, with not a single credential of which I am aware, and the media is noticing the rancor (I interviewed with Nightline in NY yesterday and the producer had been reading some of the blogs and made the comment that she was appalled at the behavior, reminded her of the Republic candidates this year with the negative attack ads!).

I have never met West and a few years ago he seemed to “like me” and even included me as one of his “Bibliobloggers of the Month,” and that was after I published The Jesus Dynasty. I had no idea who he was at the time as I had just entered the “blogging” world, like some of you. What amazes me is how many of my “blogging” colleagues seem to almost fear him when he never offers anything of substance to any discussion, just gossip and personal opinions about everything from our culture, politics, to our biblical studies world.

Crossan, Snyder, and I met at Davidson College week before last when Dom was here for a lecture. We were talking about how unfortunate it was that folks like West are allowed to have reign in our “blogging” world, which none of them inhabit but have dipped in on this issue and run away.

Anyway, I hope you will support me in calling him out. He really needs to get a grip here. And I want to thank Andy and the folks at ASOR for providing us the professional forum for discussion of our Talpiot tomb B findings.

Best wishes in this Season, as ever,


My response to Tabor and his mailing list follows:

i appreciate james tabor’s desire to ‘call me out’ (i feel like we’re in the old west).

anyway, just a brief response: call me whatever you like. i’m not subject to the views or opinions of others about me and i’ll not be changing my methodology or focus simply because tabor (or davila) or anyone else is disgruntled.

as i’ve always said, and always will, you are free to do as you wish- just as am i.

if i were seeking to gain your approval i wouldn’t be true to myself. so i can choose and i know what i’ve chosen. perhaps if mr tabor is angry enough he can get me kicked out of sbl or ets or sots or the zwingliverein. if he wishes to wage a public campaign against me he’s free to do that as well, just as i’m, again, free to point out the stupidity and lunacy of so much that passes for biblical and archaeological scholarship.

again, all of you, to a man and woman, are more than welcome to call me anything you like. it won’t have any effect on what i do.

best wishes to you all


I’ll say again what I’ve always said since the very beginning: no one makes you come here to read. If you don’t like my tone, if you don’t like what I have to say, if you would prefer to find my dead body on a road somewhere being consumed by birds of prey, that’s perfectly fine. Just. Stay. Away.

Total Depravity: She Faked Leukemia to Garner a Lavish Wedding

Authorities say a former New York woman pretended to have terminal cancer so she could have a lavish wedding reception and honeymoon.

The Times Herald-Record reports ( http://bit.ly/Hy08wo ) an Orange County Grand jury has indicted 25-year-old Jessica Vega, a former Montgomery resident, with grand larceny and scheme to defraud. According to the indictment, Vega accepted thousands of dollars in donated services and goods after claiming in 2010 that she was dying of leukemia. The newspaper ran a story on Vega’s wedding wish.

One word: #DecencyFail.  She shouldn’t be at all surprised if she’s stricken with some miserable disease so that she’s made to be a truth teller.

Satan chewing illness-pretenders

European Politics in One Photo…

Via Oded Golan

A New Program at the University of Haifa

It’s a new BA prpgram: RUAḤ-HA-ḤINUCH, The Interdisciplinary Program of the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Haifa. Check it out here (with thanks to Gershon Galil for pointing it out).

Today With Zwingli

On 10 April, 1526, Zwingli wrote to someone who must surely be one of my long-ago ancestors, Michael Wüst. Here it is, in whole-

Gratiam et pacem a domino.

Venit ad nos, mi Michaël, hęc foemina, quę quęnam sit, ignoro, vehementer obsecrans, ut te per literas a catabaptistis avellam. Cui ego primum constanter negavi, quod petebat, subindicans, quam multa non ante multos dies tecum super ea re disseruerim; at vicit importunitate sua mulier ac istas inter meas occupationes extorsit, quibus ego non tantum volo te ab illorum hominum hypocrisi deterrere, nec enim ad hoc satis idoneę sunt aut instructę, quantum foeminę satisfacere, quę te adserit nondum esse retinctum, sed metuendum esse, ne longa istorum hominum consuetudine rapiaris in eorum vesaniam.

Quid, quęso, multis tecum agerem? Christianus es? Quid ergo tibi commercii cum his est, qui se a Christianis separant? At dicunt: nos Christiani sumus, ii vero, quos creditis, Christiani non sunt. Quis, oro, vobis id indicavit? An cognitores estis cordium ac renum [Ps. 7. 10 u. ö]? Qum Christum constanter corde teneant, ore confiteantur, operibus emulentur, quantum dominus dat, qur iudicant innocentem fratrem? Quot enim putas myriadas esse in ecclesia Christi, qui vitę sanctimonia, morum probitate, oris parsimonia pręstantissimos catabaptistarum antecellunt? Attamen, ut hoc interim illis donemus, excellere eos sanctitate: quis quęso, spiritus eos docet, mox ut tantillum supra alios promoverint, efferri debere? An Christus huius arrogantie autor eis adducitur? an apostoli exemplum prębuerunt?

Quę unquam historię prodiderunt quosquam ab ecclesia Christianę plebis secessionem fecisse, mox ut paulo meliores essent promiscuo populo? Fecerunt hoc monachorum factiones; sed numquid propterea meliores erant, quod tanti se ęstimarent? Taceo blasphemam catabaptistarum loquacitatem, quę omnem omnium maledicorum virulentiam superat, arrogantiam stultam, simulationem pervicacissimam; quid enim non faciunt, ut videantur ab hominibus [Matth. 6. 1.5]? Deinde facile abstinent magna pars illorum a deliciis, quod ex infima desperabilique plebis colluvie ad hunc portum appulerunt, ut ex obscuritate sua nobilitatem faciant. Quod si eis facultas adsit, Sardanapalos videas ac Heliogabalos ludum ac iocum esse prę istis. Scio Grebelium, utcunque peieret, non alia ratione animum a parentibus despondisse, quam quod non suppeditarent, quantum illius licentia postulabat.

Vexat mentem humanam, nisi vehementer contra hos impetus ac ventos firmata est, glorię cupiditas. Eam omnes celant, iuniores tamen paulo infoelicius; semper enim deprehenduntur. Quocirca mentis oculos adperi et vide, quid Christianum hominem deceat, non quid isti faciant aut loquantur. Cupit hęc foemina te in urbem reducere.

Ego operam meam ac fidem tibi semper polliceor.

10. Aprilis MDXXVI.
Huldrichus Zuinglius.
Michaeli Wüestio, amico suo haud vulgari ad manus.

Wüst corresponded with Zwingli for the first time on 1 August, 1522. He was Heinrich Bullinger’s nephew (his sister’s son) and a pastor who eventually became an Anabaptist and who died in Oberglatt (Zurich Canton). He’s discussed ever so briefly in Zwingliana 1, p. 447 –

Michael Wüst „ist von Jugend auf mein Wandergesell gewesen zu Emerich im Niederland und zu Köln, war trefflich gelehrt und zu Klingnau Schulmeister, darnach Pfarrer; denselben verführten die Wiedertäufer, und er starb in der Wiedertäuferei zu Oberglatt, wo er wollte weben lernen”.

Sounds like just the sort of person that would be found in my family tree… plus the name fits… hmmm…  It might explain both my admiration of Bullinger and my connection to the Baptists…


I had no idea that Tulsa was a city whose racist past was so profound.  NPR aired a report that is simply must hearing.  When you get a chance, be sure to listen.

Police are still investigating whether the weekend shooting spree in Tulsa, Okla., was racially motivated. A massive riot there in 1921 left about three dozen people dead. University of Michigan history professor Scott Ellsworth, a native of Tulsa, talks to Steve Inskeep about the riot.

So disturbing, really.  How such things can happen, both now and then, is utterly baffling.  I just don’t understand racism.

Heretics and Spiritualists: Conference Announcement Reminder

I mentioned this a while back but since it draws near, here’s a reminder:

Die Europäische Melanchthonakademie Bretten organisiert am Samstag, 21. April 2012, einen Studientag mit dem 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.

More information here.

Where is the Portal to the Underworld?

Israel (of course).

Once More, Mississippi is the ‘Teen Mom’ Capitol of the Country

The Associated Press reports

Teen births fell again in the United States in 2010 with the highest rate once more in Mississippi, according to a new government report.  Nearly every state saw a decline in teen births from 2007 to 2010, with the biggest drop in Arizona at 29 percent. Rates stayed about the same in three states: Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia.

Kids, stop having kids.  Mark Twain was right- when boys are born put them in a wine barrel and when they hit 16, plug the hole.

Richard Land only Represents Richard Land

He doesn’t represent Southern Baptists (no one person does) and he certainly doesn’t represent me.

On Richard Land Live!,Land accused black religious leaders — whom he called “race hustlers” — and President Barack Obama of using the shooting death of an African-American teen in Florida for election-year gains.  “This will be vetted in court, not in a mob mentality that’s been juiced up by Al Sharpton, who is a provocateur and a racial ambulance chaser of the first order, and aided and abetted by Jesse Jackson,” Land said on the show.  And, on Obama’s statement that, if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old victim, Land said: “The president’s aides claim he was showing compassion for the victim’s family. In reality, he poured gasoline on the racialist fires.”

You know who’s a publicity ambulance chaser?  Richard Land.  On behalf of all sensible Southern Baptists, we apologize for people like Richard Land.  He doesn’t represent us but he sure seems bent on ruining us.