Daily Archives: 24 Apr 2012

A Byzantine Mosaic in Elah has been Destroyed by Fundamentalists

Not Christian Fundamentalists, Jewish ones.

פסיפס מתקופת הביזנטים הושחת בעמק האלה

Miserable. They even spraypainted graffiti on the wall! Miserable.  As if an ancient artifact had harmed them.   HT Oded Lipschits on FB.

UPDATE: The story is available in English as well now.

The SBL/EABS International Meeting Program is Online

Thanks to Many Pfoh for telling me.  You can check out the 2012 International Meeting of the SBL (Amsterdam, jointly with EABS) here.

Google Drive: Head to Head Competition for Dropbox

NPR reports

After years of speculation and rumor, today Google announced Google Drive, a new service that allows users to store data on the cloud.  In English, that means a service that allows users to keep documents, photos, videos and other files on Google’s servers and access them from many different devices.

In fact

The essentials are that the company is offering 5 gigabytes of free storage and offers plans that go up to 1 terabyte of storage for $50 a month.

My worry is that Google will close it down (like it has other things it has come up with).  I’m going to give it a spin though, just because.

It is A Salient Observation

Kevin Kilty and Mark Elliott have a new essay on the names discovered at Talpiot (leaving aside the exaggerated claims of the recent ‘discovery’) that raises, it seems to me, a very salient point.  To wit-

We believe percolating just beneath the surface of this debate is the recognition that an ossuary and a post Calvary body of Jesus would cause enormous difficulties for such treasured theological truths as the resurrection and the veracity of the New Testament. We are not accusing Goodacre of defending doctrines of inspiration and the authenticity of the scriptures. However, when we read that faith oriented scholars argue that Jesus would never name his son Judas because this is the name of his betrayer, or that this is similar to “Churchill naming his son Adolf,” then the discussion has now moved to articles of faith and revelation. Though we do regard Jesus as visionary, we are more than doubtful that he would have avoided naming a son Judas because in the future he would be betrayed by a disciple with the same name. This is reminiscent to the biblical literalism found in the Fundamentals and not what one would expect to encounter from 21st-century biblical scholars. This cannot be sanctioned by any critical biblical scholar. This heroic rescue attempt of Jesus’ celibacy is not creditable and as inspired as it might be: it should be discarded.

That’s the conclusion. See the essay to see how they get there.

The Graham I. Davies Festschrift

I’ve finally finished the Festschrift for Prof. Davies edited by James K. Aitken, Katharine J. Dell, Brian A. Mastin, On Stone and Scroll: Essays in Honour of Graham Ivor Davies (Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die altestamentliche Wissenschaft, Band 420. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter). Pp xxviii, 575.

It’s expensive…  Perhaps your rich uncle could buy you a copy.  Or you could sell one of your children.  You probably have one in mind.  Admit it, you do, don’t you…

On Stone and Scroll addresses biblical exegesis from the historical, archaeological, theological, and linguistic perspectives, and discusses many of the issues central to the interpretation of the Bible. It is written by colleagues and former students of Graham Davies in his honour on his retirement. It covers three main areas central to his work: inscriptional and archaeological, including socio-historical, studies; theological and exegetical studies, especially of Exodus and the Prophets; and semantic studies. A lasting focus of Graham’s work has been the combination of sources that he has utilised in the interpretation of the biblical text. His approach has been distinctive in biblical studies in his combining of archaeological, inscriptional, linguistic and theological evidence for a deeper understanding of text. His work has ranged from archaeological studies, through an edition of Hebrew inscriptions, contributions to Hebrew semantics and biblical theology, to exegesis of the Pentateuch and Prophets. The essays in this volume reflect that broad view of Old Testament study.

Here’s the list of contributors- a veritable who’s who of OT scholars.

List of Contributors

JAMES K. AITKEN, Lecturer in Hebrew, Old Testament, and Second Temple Studies, University of Cambridge, and Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge

JAMES ATWELL, Dean of Winchester Cathedral

GRAEME AULD, Professor Emeritus of Hebrew Bible, University of Edinburgh

DAVID L. BAKER, Senior Lecturer in Old Testament, Trinity Theological College, Perth, Australia

JOHN R. BARTLETT, Former Associate Professor of Biblical Studies and Fellow Emeritus of Trinity College Dublin

JOSEPH BLENKINSOPP,  John A. O’Brien Professor Emeritus, University of Notre Dame, Indiana, U.S.A.

MARK J. BODA, Professor of Old Testament, McMaster Divinity College, and Professor, Faculty of Theology, McMaster University

GEORGE J. BROOKE, Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis, University of Manchester

KEVIN J. CATHCART, Emeritus Professor of Near Eastern Languages, University College, Dublin, and Member of Campion Hall, Oxford

RONALD E. CLEMENTS, Emeritus Professor of Old Testament Studies, King’s College, University of London

JOHN DAY, Professor of Old Testament Studies in the University of Oxford, and Fellow and Tutor of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford

KATHARINE J. DELL, Senior Lecturer in Old Testament Studies in the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, and Fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge

J. A. EMERTON, Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge, and Emeritus Regius Professor of Hebrew, University of Cambridge

ANTHONY GELSTON, Emeritus Reader in Theology, University of Durham

JOHN GOLDINGAY, David Allan Hubbard Professor of Old Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California

ROBERT P. GORDON, Regius Professor of Hebrew in the University of Cambridge, and Fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge

JOHN W. HILBER, Associate Professor of Old Testament, Dallas Theological Seminary

WILLIAM HORBURY, Professor Emeritus of Jewish and Early Christian Studies, University of Cambridge, and Life Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

PHILIP JENSON, Lecturer in Old Testament, Ridley Hall, Cambridge

WILLIAM JOHNSTONE, Professor Emeritus of Hebrew and Semitic Languages, University of Aberdeen

JAN JOOSTEN, Professeur d’Ancien Testament, Faculte de Theologie Protestante, Universite de Strasbourg and Institut Universitaire de France

JAMES KINNIER WILSON, Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge, and Sometime Eric Yarrow Lecturer in Assyriology, University of Cambridge

ARIE VAN DER KOOIJ, Professor Emeritus at the Institute for Religious Studies of Leiden University

ARMIN LANGE, Professor for Second Temple Judaism at the University of Vienna, Institute for Jewish Studies

A. A. MACINTOSH, Fellow of St. John’s College, Cambridge

B. A. MASTIN, Sometime Senior Lecturer in Hebrew, University of Wales, Bangor; Affiliated Lecturer, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge

A. D. H. MAYES, Emeritus Erasmus Smith’s Professor of Hebrew and Fellow Emeritus of Trinity College, Dublin

ALAN MILLARD, Emeritus Rankin Professor of Hebrew and Ancient Semitic Languages, University of Liverpool

WALTER MOBERLY, Professor of Theology and Biblical Interpretation at the University of Durham

ERNEST NICHOLSON, Formerly Oriel Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture in the University of Oxford, and Provost of Oriel College, Oxford

PAUL NOBLE, Independent scholar resident in Cambridge

ROBERT B. SALTERS, Visiting Professor in the Department of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, University of South Africa

ALISON SALVESEN, University Research Lecturer, Oriental Institute, University of Oxford, and Polonsky Fellow in Jewish Bible Versions, Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies

JOACHIM SCHAPER, Chair in Hebrew, Old Testament, and Early Jewish Studies, University of Aberdeen

KLAAS A. D. SMELIK, Professor of Hebrew and Jewish Studies and Director of the Etty Hillesum Research Centre at Ghent University, Belgium

STUART D. WEEKS, Senior Lecturer in Old Testament and Hebrew, University of Durham

PETER J. WILLIAMS, Warden, Tyndale House, Cambridge

H. G. M. WILLIAMSON, Regius Professor of Hebrew in the University of Oxford, and Student of Christ Church, Oxford

It’s a marvelous, marvelous volume.  Really marvelous.  If you can’t get a copy, borrow one.

Terry Jones, Again- Depraved

Terry Jones, ‘Pastor’ of a tiny flock of pentebabbleist heretics is in the news again for, you guessed it, threatening to burn Qurans.

U.S. pastor Terry Jones, a self-professed scourge of Islam, has threatened to “burn Qurans and images of Prophet Mohammed” if a Christian religious leader in Iran is not released from jail, he announced on his organization’s website this week.  Jones has set a deadline of 5 p.m. on Saturday April 28 for the release of Iranian pastor Youcef Nadakhani otherwise he warned of a repeat of last year’s Quran burning which led to widespread rioting and deaths around the world.  Nadarkhani, who has been charged with apostasy and sentenced to death for leaving Islam and converting to Christianity, receives support from Jones through his organization, Stand Up America Now.“The time of doing nothing must come to an end. We call citizens around the world to burn Qurans and images of Mohammed publicly if Pastor Youcef is executed and not released!” a statement on the site said. It is unclear which images of the Prophet (pbuh) the statement referred to.

Quick question for Jones:  how will burning Qurans help free a real pastor?  The one has nothing to do with the other. All of us want Youcef Nadakhani freed but threatening to burn books won’t accomplish that.  It will only accomplish lunacy.

Please, ‘pastor’ Jones, set yourself adrift on a raft in the vicinity of a desert island and live out your days there in the solitude which your nauseating hate-mongering deserves and merits.

Muslim folk- please, please don’t lump all Christians together with this madman.  The vast majority of us aren’t your enemies and don’t see you as ours.

Eerdmans’ Interview with Gareth Cockerill- on Hebrews

Part one.  Part two comes tomorrow.  I especially like question 3 and its answer-

3. In the introduction to this commentary you claim to approach Hebrews not as a “laboratory specimen” but as a living word for Christians today. Can you elaborate on this?

The book of Hebrews is not merely some ancient artifact suitable for laboratory examination. It is the very word of God that addresses God’s people in the present, providing for their salvation and calling them to faithful obedience. The writer of Hebrews has a clear conviction of the immediacy of God’s word. The saving work of the incarnate Son of God is God’s ultimate self-revelation that fulfills all previous revelation, offering God’s people a fully sufficient salvation and holding them accountable. The object of this commentary, then, is not to find some facile application for each passage. Rather, it is to explain the text so that the modern reader may enter the world of Hebrews and clearly hear what God says to his people. The problems faced by those first recipients of this letter/sermon are perennial — fatigue in the journey, loss of conviction about the truthfulness of God’s word, pressure and persecution from the unbelieving world, the attraction of the benefits that world can confer — all things that would discourage us from faithful perseverance. The answer to these dilemmas is also still the same: the full sufficiency of the eternal, incarnate, and now exalted Son of God, and of him alone as the one who can bring us successfully to journey’s end.

Johannes Calvin und die kulturelle Prägekraft des Protestantismus

A very new volume from the Zurich publisher TVZ arrived courtesy of that publishing house for review. It’s titled Johannes Calvin und die kulturelle Prägekraft des Protestantismus.

Exponentinnen und Exponenten aus Wissenschaft, Wirtschaft, Politik und Kirche beleuchten Calvins Bedeutung für den europäischen und aussereuropäischen Protestantismus, aber auch die weltweite kulturelle Prägekraft des Protestantismus.

Die Beiträge führen in die Zeit Calvins und des sich entwickelnden Calvinismus ein. Thematisiert wird der Einfluss des Protestantismus auf Staatsdenken, Bildungswesen, Wirtschaft und die historische Rechtswissenschaft. Andere Beiträge gehen der Frage nach, wie sich protestantische Prägungen auf die politische Praxis auswirken können.

Mit Beiträgen von Petra Bahr, Philipp Benedikt, Michael Beintker, Anton A. Bucher, Micheline Calmy-Rey, Emidio Campi, Wolfgang Huber, Esther Maurer, Wolfgang Schluchter, Peter Seele, Michael Stolleis, Christoph Strohm, Michael Welker.

It is a tremendously informative collection of essays.  My review is available here.

Leftist Ideology and Heterophobia in Biblical Studies

On exhibition here.

[After all, if we want to be fair we all have to play by the same rules.  Hence, if it’s appropriate to call Mike Bird a homophobe (which he isn’t) then it’s perfectly fair and justifiable to label Oscar a heterophobe (which he may or may not be- I don’t know him and have, before today, never heard of him)].

I find it passing curious that leftist ideologues who regularly smear anyone and everyone who raises legitimate questions about the theological propriety of homosexuality are not themselves treated to the same campaign.  And if they protest that questioning homosexuality is itself homophobia than they really do have a distorted notion of what academic theology is all about.  After all, even a mere glance at any systematic theology will make it quite plain that the relationships between men and women are regular fare of theological investigation.

But perhaps the ‘everyone who raises the issue is a homophobe’ crowd doesn’t actually read systematic theology.  Perhaps they only read comic strips.

Furthermore, what’s even more interesting here is the fact that the constant demonization of the views of others by the use of derogatory labels is part and parcel of an awful lot of discussions these days.  So, rather than actually discussing the issue our comic strip writer demonizes; rather like those who reject the cause of the Palestinians regularly heap the label ‘anti-semitic’ on anyone who happens to hold the opposing perspective.

It’s easy to call someone a homophobe; it’s not quite so easy to show, from a biblical and theological point of view, that homosexuality is a legitimate demonstration of being human.  It’s simple to call someone an anti-semite.  It’s not quite so easy, from a biblical and theological point of view, to demonstrate that God loves the Jews and hates the Palestinians.

Comic strips may make an amusing point- but without substantive argument based on reason and logical cohesion, they remain mere entertainment.  And in this case, red meat for the agreeing pack.

Ergo, if Oscar and the Dunedin school really believe Bird is wrong on the issue, they owe it to the world to prove their perspective persuasive, theologically and biblically.  Otherwise, they simply resemble the child on the playground who calls names because that’s all she knows how to do.

I await their reasoned and reasonable exegetical demonstration of the rightness of their position.  Else I await their declaration that the biblical text is meaningless to them in their pursuit of their goals.

[NB- Bird and I are not exactly BFF’s.  It isn’t from some sense of loyalty that I stand to defend him- it’s from an unwavering sense of fair play.   Fair is fair.]

Good Grief, People Must Be Crazy

You’d honestly have to be a raving lunatic to pay $200 + $85 shipping for a couple of pieces of wood tied together. But if you are that insane, send me $150 and I’ll send you the same thing.

Via, with thanks to Jon Hendry for the url.

Pentebabbleists and ‘Manna from Heaven’

Come on people, read your Bible.  First, if you take Exodus correctly you know that manna was an interim provision which ceased when the people of Israel entered the land.  Then it came no more.  And second, God doesn’t rain chiclet-bread from heaven indoors just to make Pentebabbleist Montanists stand in a circle and shake like they’re having a seizure.  God’s provision isn’t a proper object of fraud.

Delusional Montanists. [HT for the video, Bob Cargill on FB]