Daily Archives: 19 May 2012

Quote of the Day

When duly imbued with the knowledge of God, the whole aim of our lives will be to revere, fear, and worship his majesty, to enjoy a share in his blessings, to have recourse to him in every difficulty, to acknowledge, laud, and celebrate the magnificence of his works, to make him, as it were, the sole aim of all our actions.  —  John Calvin

Bored With the Bible?

You should diligently learn the Word of God and by no means imagine that you know it. Let him who is able to read take a psalm in the morning, or some other chapter of Scripture, and study it for a while. This is what I do. When I get up in the morning, I pray and recite the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer with the children, adding any one of the psalms. I do this only to keep myself well acquainted with these matters, and I do not want to let the mildew of the notion grow that I know them well enough. The devil is a greater rascal than you think he is. You do as yet not know what sort of fellow he is and what a desperate rogue you are. His definite design is to get you tired of the Word and in this way to draw you away from it. This is his aim (WA 32, 64f.) — Martin Luther

What’s Going On With Bart?

Bart Ehrman posted this bit in which he describes his experiences writing his latest book.

Stephanie Fisher posted, or rather attempted to post a comment, which was bizarrely rejected by Bart because, in his words (in an email to Fisher), “Your comments are mean-spirited and not appropriate for the blog. If you want to try again in a more temperate tone, I would consider including them. As you might imagine, I do have a response to your points.”.

If you can find anything mean-spirited or inappropriate in Steph’s remarks you’ve got a vivid imagination.  Here’s what she wrote:

“You say that New Testament scholars have never taken mythicists seriously, they have never seen a need to argue against their views. This is false. Case and Goguel for example explicitly demonstrated with argument and evidence the mythicist arguments to be flawed in 1912 and 1925. Maurice Casey’s Jesus of Nazareth introduces Price, Doherty and Zindler for example and explicitly provides evidence for their mistakes. His forthcoming volume later this year is also a refutation of the main mythicist arguments. Also you claim NT scholars have never tried to prove the existence of Jesus and have simply assumed it. This is untrue of Case, Goguel and the entire life work of Maurice Casey who has never assumed the existence of Jesus at all and has dedicated his life’s academic research to providing argument and evidence. I know what the book is about – I helped edit it. Just read the ded and preface. You made some unusual assumptions about Aramaic in your latest book and didn’t engage with the most recent critical scholarship which is a shame because so few New Testament scholars are competent Aramaists.

“However I did enjoy reading Orthodox Corruption of Scripture. I bought it when it was release in the nineties and I had graduated. It inspired my direction to a degree and I still find it useful at times.

“You say “The book you’re referring to here is a fairly full exposition of what he thinks is historical information about Jesus, a nice contribution to the field.” – Hardly a fair description of an academic career devoted to Aramaic research culminating in a book designed for a wider audience and providing argument and evidence to demonstrate the existence of a historical figure, simultaneously engaging with mythicist arguments which argue the contrary, is it?

“I feel compelled to add that your derogatory insinuations about New Testament scholars are false and offensive.

Responsible New Testament scholars around the world do take mythicists seriously. They do read the published work and even the blogs. They do not just dismiss them. That would be irresponsible. Jesus scholars do NOT assume the existence of the historical Jesus. I gave you three scholars spanning a century. I could give you three hundred more – or even more. And actually we read the German edition of Schweitzer (including his other work). You then say “many scholars in the field, I would venture to say, until my book had not even heard much about [mythicists]” which is an extraordinary outburst of self-confidence, effectively your own assumptions without evidence. It is utterly false – ‘until my book’?!”

Now to be fair to Stephanie, there’s not a shred of either mean spirited-ness nor inappropriateness in a single line. Her points are well made and accurate. Which is why I think they deserve a response. Maurice Casey does as well. He writes

“Ehrman’s blog comments are extraordinarily self-centred, and make one wonder which New Testament scholars he has ever talked to about the existence of Jesus. For example, he comments, ‘before writing the book, like most New Testament scholars, I knew almost nothing abut the mythicist movement’. Most of us knew perfectly well that there was a massive attack on the existence of the historical Jesus in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Until recently, however, we thought that the work of Case and Goguel, supported by lots of detailed comments in other scholarly works, made it unnecessary for us to keep publishing about it when we were trying to make a contribution to knowledge, not just to repeat what had been written before. Among much modern scholarship with which he seems unfamiliar is recent work on the term ‘Son of Man’: his comments (Did Jesus Exist?, pp. 305-7) imply a complete lack of familiarity with Aramaic sources from the Sefire Inscriptions through the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Yerushalmi and the literature of the Syriac-speaking church, as well as recent secondary literature.

“The notion that none of us has read the work of recent mythicists again makes one wonder again which New Testament scholars he has ever talked to about the existence of Jesus. He comments again, ‘no scholar of the New Testament has ever thought to put together a sustained argument that Jesus must have lived.’ Most of us have spent a regrettable amount of time becoming regrettably familiar with their regrettable outpourings, some of us have discussed it with each other, with varying opinions about what needs to be done, and I have a book in an advanced state of preparation for publication by T & T Clark/Continuum, hopefully before the end of 2012. We don’t expect or want Ehrman at meetings of British New Testament scholars, but does he not attend SNTS either?”

In sum, it seems that Casey and Fisher take issue with Ehrman’s cavalier dismissal of substantial work done in response to ‘mythicists’.   Certainly Bart is free to include or reject whatever comments he wishes, on his blog.  Similarly, the rest of us are free to raise questions about publications and in fact we are obliged to- especially when they don’t tell ‘the whole story’.

I’m Glad I’m Not Alone In Remembering Schlatter Today

The folk at Logos have too-

As the world spiraled toward a second World War, Adolf Schlatter knew his time on earth was coming to a close. Schlatter had stood behind the lectern of some of Europe’s most prestigious universities, authored important scholarly monographs, and ministered to students and parishioners. But his final days were spent in prayer and agony for the German church, which he feared was being swallowed up by fascism. On the morning of May 19, 1938, at the age of 85, Adolf Schlatter entered into the eternal rest of his Savior, whom he treasured and proclaimed faithfully all his life.

I have to say, again, that I think it’s grand that they’re going to offer Schlatter’s ‘Faith in the New Testament’ in English.

Coming May 23rd- A New Academic Project in Quest of the Historical Jesus: The Jesus Process


A Consultation on Method and Madness in New Testament Studies

Essays by Maurice Casey, R. Joseph Hoffmann, Stephanie Louise Fisher are promised along with a listing of the ‘consultative committee’.  It will be something to keep an eye on I think.

Genesis and Christian Theology

Genesis and Christian Theology contributes significantly to the renewed convergence of biblical studies and systematic theology — two disciplines whose relational disconnect has adversely affected not only the academy but also the church as a whole. In this book twenty-one noted scholars consider the fascinating ancient book of Genesis in dialogue with historical and contemporary theological reflection. Their essays offer new vistas on familiar texts, reawakening past debates and challenging modern clichés.

Gary A. Anderson
Knut Backhaus
Richard Bauckham
Pascal Daniel Bazzell
William P. Brown
Stephen B. Chapman
Ellen T. Charry
Matthew Drever
Mark W. Elliott
David Fergusson
Brandon Frick
Trevor Hart
Walter J. Houston
Christoph Levin
Nathan MacDonald
Eric Daryl Meyer
R. Walter L. Moberly
Michael S. Northcott
Karla Pollmann
R. R. Reno
Timothy J. Stone

The publisher has sent a copy for review- which I’ll get to soon and post here.

The Haredim Won’t Report Child Molesters, But They Will Warn of the Dangers of the Internet…

Originally available for $10, tickets to the ultra-Orthodox “anti-Internet” rally on May 20 at the 40,000-seat Citi Field in New York City are sold out. For those who simply have to be there, there are tickets online at ebay selling for three times the original amount. The main goal of the rally is unclear. A report in Tablet Magazine details the muddled roots of this movement and the confusing intentions for the May 20 event.


On Monday in Lakewood, N.J., at a pep-rally for the main event, the need for widespread communal awareness of the dangers of the Internet was connected to a larger struggle faced by the Jewish people in a secular world. Rabbi Malkiel Kotler, head of the influential Beth Medrash Govoha yeshiva in Lakewood, said that the entire community of Israel is obligated to be holy, as commanded in the verse from Leviticus chapter 19: “God spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the entire congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: You should be holy, because I, God, your God, am holy.”

Sure, but the internet, like anything else, is morally neutral. It’s the use to which it is put that makes it good or evil.

One commenter in a discussion about “Kosher technology” on a Lakewood community website connected the temptations of the Internet to the temptations of idol worship 2,000 years ago. And though none of the comments in the thread explicitly mention pornography, it’s clear that computer programs like Guard Your Eyes, which is marketed to Haredi Jews, is meant to filter sexually explicit material.

Organizers, though, say that pornography is not the only virtual menace. As the New York Times explained: Speakers at the rally in Queens will not seek to ban the Internet, but rather to raise awareness about how, unmonitored, it poses a grave risk to the community, said Eytan Kobre, a spokesman for the organizers. The risk, he said, comes not only from pornography, but also from social media and the addictive pull of the Internet, which can limit human interaction, reading and study.

Meanwhile, these people, ever so concerned with morality, ignore the molestation of little children and turn a blind eye to even the most sinful practices amongst their numbers. Perhaps they don’t see the contradiction in allowing molestation and demonizing a morally neutral tool.

But at least some Jews see the problem-

Meanwhile, a group of Jews is planning a counter-rally at Citi Field to address the problem of child sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish world and to advocate for reform.

I think, were I a Jew, I would attend the latter, not the former rally.

Dan Wallace on the Discovery of 7 Early Manuscripts

Wallace talks about 7 newly discovered texts which he suggests are all very early, one of which is a fragment of Mark which he claims dates to the first century.

With thanks to Ron Kubsch for the tip.

Remembering the Memorable Adolf Schlatter

Today, May 19th, is the anniversary of his death so I invite you to take a gander at the various Schlatter posts I’ve put online in the last couple of years.   There are loads of pictures, mentionings of several of his works, remembrances on his birth-date and death-date, and other stuff.

I do think he should be more widely read.  He has made absolutely immeasurable contributions to the study of the New Testament and yet there seems- at this point- to be little interest in even his most important work, Faith in the New Testament.

Were it not for Schlatter we all would know less than we do, even if we had never heard his name: that’s how influential he was.

Remembering the memorable Adolf Schlatter.