Daily Archives: 8 Jun 2012

‘Hey, Aren’t You Being a Bit Harsh?’

So wrote a gentle soul worried that I may be exaggerating in my various denunciations of false teachers like Dollar and Warren and Bentley and Meyers and Moore.  My reply to this concern is as follows:

We have to expose the wolves to spare the sheep.  #HereticsAndFalseTeachersAreDangerous

And that’s the unpleasant truth.  For when we are silent, lies and falsehood prevail and ultimately lives are destroyed and souls undone.  The sweet may have the luxury of being quiet when lies spew from pulpits across America- but we may not.  We would deny the essence of our calling if we were.

Creflo Dollar: Heretic, False Teacher, and Now, Child Abuser

Atlanta megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar was arrested on Friday. He is accused of hurting his 15-year-old daughter during an argument at home.  Dollar, senior pastor of World Changers Church in College Park, Ga., has been officially charged with simple battery, family violence and cruelty to children.  Dollar’s 19-year-old daughter, Alexandria, told police the faith preacher, “put both hands around her sister’s neck and choked her for about five seconds.”

But don’t worry Creflo.  Your ‘church’ will shield you and you’ll keep your job just like the Bishops shielded pedophile priests.  After all, the fact that you choked your own child is immaterial, right?

Rick Warren Is A Miserable Exegete Who Twists Scripture

If you trust his interpretation of Scripture, you know even less than he does (and that’s not much at all).  Take, for instance, his bastardization of the Book of Daniel:

The Bible is not a diet book. Study it as closely as you want, and you’ll never find anything remotely approaching “10 Tips to Drop 10 Pounds.” And yet that same Bible has helped 15,000 members of Rick Warren’s Saddleback megachurch drop a collective 260,000 lbs. The program the Saddleback members are following is known as The Daniel Plan, and in TIME’s health special this week (available to subscribers here), Jeffrey Kluger and I take a deeper look at just why it’s met with such success.

Warren’s ‘Daniel Plan’ is par for the course for this false teacher.  He takes Scripture and makes it into something it never was.   The Time essay continues

Daniel scholar and professor of Old Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary Choon-Leong Seow represents a school of Christian thought that says Daniel is less a story of resisting rich food than a story of resisting a foreign king. (Full disclosure: I took a class on the consequences of Biblical history with Seow when studying for my Masters of Divinity.) Daniel and his friends resisted the king’s table, Seow says, as a tangible expression of their reliance on God’s power instead of the king’s. “They needed to establish their own identity. They even accepted silly names Chaldeans gave them,” Seow explains. “The one thing they could reject was the privilege of the king’s largess.”  If the text were actually about diet, Seow argues, there would be evidence that the king’s table violated Jewish food laws. A Jewish diet would have meant no pork, Seow notes, but most other meats, slaughtered properly, are O.K. Wine too is permissible. Nor does the text give any indication that the king’s food had been offered to idols, which is another thing that would have made it off-limits to the young Jews.

That a vegetarian diet has been recommended by even the likes of Calvin is well enough known but Calvin was himself no tea-totaler!  Warren is a perverter of the Bible.  He’s a salesman marketing his ridiculous books to an audience so bereft of theological training that they are willing to lap up the vomit spewed from Warren’s gaping maw.

His presence at Saddleback and his many minions proves right the Scripture which asserts that ‘in the latter days they will heap up for themselves teachers who tickle their ears’.

Total Depravity: The Bad Granny Gambler Edition

Bad, Granny, very bad.  Shame!

A 73-year-old woman has been found in Louisiana after being charged with stealing and gambling away $97,000 from a trust fund for her grandson’s college education, authorities said, but she may never return to Indiana for prosecution.  Edna Sue Pate was wanted in Indiana, where the charges were filed, but authorities there said they would not have her brought there to face the charges. Officials in that state had been ordered to extradite her only if she was found in a surrounding state, which would not include Louisiana.

Stealing from you grandkids?  That’s just vile.

Just So You Know, I Hate, Hate, HATE the Heat

In fact, you can’t spell Heat without HATE.  I so hope they lose.  If ever there were a reason for God to curse a team to defeat (even though he doesn’t care about game-scores), it’s because of a certain Heat player calling himself ‘King James’.

via SportsNation on FB

My Game 7 Prayer

Dear God, make the Heat lose.  Thanks a bunch!  Your ever devoted servant, Jim.

Sad News: Car Talk Is Calling it Quits

Bummer.  It’s one of the best things on the radio.

 The chatty mechanics on NPR’s “Car Talk” are pulling in to the garage.  Tom and Ray Magliozzi said Friday they will stop making new episodes of their comic auto advice show at the end of September, 25 years after “Car Talk” began in Boston. The show airs every Saturday morning and is National Public Radio’s most popular program.  Older brother Tom is 74 years old and the brothers say it’s time to stop and smell the cappuccino.

I wish them many many happy years in retirement.  They deserve it.  Well done, Click and Clack, well done.

The Hebrew University Cuneiform Collection Online

Via Jack Sasson-

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (http://www.huji.ac.il/), in partnership with the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (http://cdli.ucla.edu/), is pleased to announce the addition of new digital content to CDLI’s web offerings.

Though modest in numbers, the seventy-two cuneiform artifacts at Hebrew University represent a compelling cross-section of Babylonian history, ranging from a group of fifty-five accounts and two fragmentary royal inscriptions from the Ur III period (ca. 2100-2000 BC), three Early Old Babylonian royal inscriptions of the Uruk king Sin-kashid (ca. 1850 BC), and five Old Babylonian administrative tablets (ca. 1800-1600 BC), down to fragments of inscriptions of the neo-Assyrian kings Shalmaneser III (859-824 BC) and Sargon II (722-705 BC), as well as of the great neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 BC).

Following an initial agreement of cooperation reached between Bertrand Lafont (CNRS-Paris), CDLI’s director of European and Middle Eastern digitization initiatives, and Nathan Wasserman of HUJI’s Institute of Archaeology, Luděk Vacín of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, was given access to the HUJI cuneiform artifacts as part of a digital capture mission to collections in Jerusalem (the collections of the Sainte-Anne and Saint-Étienne monasteries, the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Museum and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, are currently in preparation for web release, thanks to the cooperation and friendly assistance of their respective curators); the results of the HUJI collaboration have now been added to CDLI pages and are viewable at <http://tinyurl.com/7w79e54&gt; (one Ur III text included there, Atiqot 4, pl. 8 42, has not been accounted for). Of the sixty-five entries recorded as unedited, eight have been assigned for specialist publication (http://tinyurl.com/7mnobsr).

Any queries concerning the status of the remainder, or of course any corrections of our catalogue data, should be directed to Nathan Wasserman wasserman.nathan@gmail.com or Wayne Horowitz whorowitz@mscc.huji.ac.il at HUJI, or to CDLI cdli@ucla.edu,

The imaging in Jerusalem and post-capture processing at UCLA were made possible by funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; they are part of the on-going mission of CDLI to ensure the long-term digital preservation of ancient inscriptions on cuneiform tablets, and, in furtherance of humanities research, to provide free global access to all available text artifact data.

Paul’s Divine Christology: The New Book by Chris Tilling

Chris’s book has been published by Mohr (finally!) and will be out in August.  Hey Chris, remember, you owe me a copy!  Send it along or prepare for the inevitable wrath!

All kidding aside (and I know I tease Chris a lot but it’s because I love him like a brother), I read Chris’s volume in its very earliest stages and even then it was stunningly brilliant.  I’m more than positive that now, having been utterly polished, it is even better.  You owe it to yourself to read it.

Chris Tilling makes a fresh contribution to the debate about whether or not Paul’s Christology is divine. To this end he analyses the Pauline data that details the relation between the risen Lord and Christians. With reference to contemporary debates regarding ‘Jewish monotheism’, he argues that the Pauline Christ-relation corresponds – as a pattern – solely to language concerning YHWH’s relation to Israel in Second Temple Judaism. This is the case, Tilling maintains, even in texts such as Sirach 44-50, the Life of Adam and Eve and the Similitudes of Enoch. In dialogue both with concerns that one cannot properly speak of a Pauline “Christology”, and recent studies in Paul’s epistemology, Chris Tilling presents Paul’s Christology as fully divine, but in a particular way: the Christ-relation is Paul’s divine-Christology expressed as relationship. In light of this, he not only reengages arguments deployed by those disputing a Pauline divine-Christology, but also draws additional conclusions relating to the interface between biblical and systematic theological concerns.

Maybe now he can stay out of trouble for a while!   😉    Congrats, buddy!  Proud of ya!

Zurich, Rid Yourself of Idols

It was the 8th of June in 1524 when the churches of Zurich began to be purged of their idols in earnest.

The purpose for this ‘purgation’ was the removal of what were, for all intents and purposes, idols from the Churches of the city.

Iconoclast Hottinger destroys a cross

Schaff remarks –

In the presence of a deputation from the authorities of Church and State, accompanied by architects, masons and carpenters, the churches of the city were purged of pictures, relics, crucifixes, altars, candles, and all ornaments, the frescoes effaced, and the walls whitewashed, so that nothing remained but the bare building to be filled by a worshiping congregation. The pictures were broken and burnt, some given to those who had a claim, a few preserved as antiquities. The bones of the saints were buried. Even the organs were removed, and the Latin singing of the choir abolished, but fortunately afterwards replaced by congregational singing of psalms and hymns in the vernacular (in Basle as early as 1526, in St. Gall 1527, in Zurich in 1598). “Within thirteen days,” says Bullinger, “all the churches of the city were cleared; costly works of painting and sculpture, especially a beautiful table in the Waterchurch, were destroyed. The superstitious lamented; but the true believers rejoiced in it as a great and joyous worship of God.”

The Answer is No, Online Aliases are NEVER Justified for Academics

The Guardian (on Facebook) reports

Sock puppets – online commenters that create a false identity – are disrupting academic freedom and scholarly debate, says Simon Tanner.

Have you encountered a sock puppet recently? The answer is probably yes even if you never knew. I met one (well several) the other day and it was quite an experience – a bit like getting mugged by a chimera. Sock puppets, referencing the cute and simple hand puppets made from a sock, are intended primarily to deceive. This is not the anonymity we all sometimes seek when online; sock puppetry is about setting up a false identity so the puppeteer can speak falsely while pretending to be another person.

Some of the craziest uses of sock puppetry are when these misleading online identities end up working in unison: simultaneously praising and defending their alter egos while attacking, stalking or even libelling and defaming people or organisations they don’t like. All the while never admitting the link or affiliation to the puppeteer.

Sock puppets have had an impact on academic discourse. I led the digitisation pilot of the Dead Sea Scrolls and I can vouch from that experience that there are plenty of attention seekers out there, with conspiracy theories agogo. But these are relatively easy to spot. The case of Raphael Golb shows the real invasive power and perfidy of sock puppets. He was convicted in 2010 of using online aliases to harass and discredit his father’s academic detractors in a heated fight over the origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls. A Manhattan jury convicted Golb of 30 counts, including identity theft, forgery and harassment; he got six months in jail.

As reported by Robert R Cargill in Archaeology Magazine the attacks on him included detailed criticism in the comments sections of literally every news article that referenced his work on the Dead Sea Scrolls with links back to refuting texts self published by Golb’s father, Norman. It went much further, discussions were going on between several “people”, but all arguing in the same direction – the names used included: “Charles Gadda”, “Richard Moss”, “Jessica Friedman” among others. And then the “Gadda” sock puppet went after Cargill and others personally in what Cargill called a “smear campaign”. Golb kept up this practice for years, publishing on news sites, blogs and Wikipedia and then referenced back to these items to give the appearance of proper referencing, peer review and a growing body of academic acceptance for the ideas of his father. There were letter writing campaigns and even worse a senior academic in the field, Lawrence Shiffman, was directly impersonated by the sock puppets. This puppetry carried on for years and academic discourse was severely disrupted while those innocent academics involved in Dead Sea Scroll research were libelled, defamed and smeared.

Aside from the writer’s inability to spell Larry Schiffman’s name correctly and missing out on libeled as well… he’s pretty much spot on.  For academics, there’s just no justification for the cowardice of online aliases.  As I always say, if you can’t own your words, you don’t have any right to have them heard.

Although I’m fairly sure that loads of Amazon book reviews that use fake names are by those book’s authors or publishers.  But that’s just because they want to sell stuff isn’t it.

Read the rest.  And stop using fake names, ya gits.

Conference Announcement: The Bible in the Public Square

Mark Goodacre sends along this conference announcement:

Duke University is proud to be hosting a conference entitled “The Bible in the Public Square:” September 9-10, 2012, a special 2-day conference with experts speaking to the role of the Bible in everything from Public Schools and American Politics, to the Middle East and popular culture. We hope you will consider attending this free conference which will address several key issues from top scholars in the field, including:

“Battling over the Bible in Public Schools,” Charles Haynes, First Amendment Center

“Right Dividing the First Amendment? An Evaluation of Recent Decisions regarding the Bible and Public Schools,” Melissa Rogers, Wake Forest Center for Religion & Public Affairs

“The Bible in the Presidential Elections of 2012, 2008, 2004 and the Collapse of American Secularism,” Jacques Berlinerblau, Georgetown University

For the complete conference schedule, online registration, and parking information, please visit: http://jewishstudies.duke.edu/the-bible-in-the-public-square.

If you have questions regarding the conference, or would like a hard copy of the flyer that has been included, please contact: Serena Elliott at serena.elliott@duke.edu.