Daily Archives: 11 Jun 2012

J. Hamilton Charlesworth on the ‘Patio Tomb’

Charlesworth opines

All of us scholars are disenchanted when archaeological discoveries are presented too sensationally or are used to “prove” the Bible truthful or fallacious.

Absolutely true. Could not agree more.

By profession, scholars shun sensationalism and do not feel the need to defend biblical truths.

Again, ditto.

We are dedicated to a means of expression in which certainty appears in a spectrum from “conceivable to probable.”

Perfectly correct.

Thus, it is as absurd to claim with absolute certainty that the Patio Tomb preserves the remains of some of Jesus’ first followers

Completely accurate.

as it is unwise to pronounce with equal vigor that such a possibility is unthinkable.

Completely false. Some things really are impossible and in the case of the ‘Patio Tomb’ or the ‘Talpiot Tomb’ or whatever people decide to call it (I prefer the Silwan Cave), there is simply no way, just no way whatsoever, to connect the remains of any part of that tomb with the family of Jesus or of his disciples. Such a determination requires our possession of multiple samples authenticated to stem from the disciples or Jesus’ family. So where’s the evidence besides in the fertile imagination of those selling the tomb via books and Discovery channel specials? Where’s the demonstration? Where’s the ‘here we have a sample of Mary’s DNA with which we can compare the DNA of UNDISTURBED tombs excavated by legitimate archaeologists in controlled digs’?

There is none, so, therefore, it is absurd to claim a familial connection notwithstanding Professor Charlesworth’s hesitancy to say so.

Some things, some claims, simply are absurd and scholars have to say the words. Leave the dilettantes and the conspiracy theorists a tiny hole and they will make it into a giant cavern.  They will turn Charlesworth’s ‘it’s possible’ into ‘James Charlesworth says it’s likely that Jesus’ family tomb has been located’.  And then it will become a ‘truth’ that cannot be dislodged (just as has happened in the case of the Shroud of Turin).

I Can Scarcely Imagine Doing Anything Differently: The Texas Father Who Beat His Daughter’s Molester to Death

A Texas father caught a man sexually assaulting his 4-year-old daughter and punched him in the head repeatedly, killing him, authorities said.  The father was casually acquainted with the alleged abuser, said Lavaca County Sheriff Micah Harmon.  Neither has been publicly identified.  The girl was left inside the family’s house during the social gathering, while other members of her family were tending to horses, the sheriff said.  The alleged abuser was known for his horse-grooming abilities, Harmon said.  The father returned to the house, caught the man in the act, and stopped him by striking him in the head several times, Harmon said.

If I were to happen upon someone molesting my child, or any child, I would surely do whatever it took to stop them from doing it and if that meant beating them in the head to death then I would live with the consequences of that decision without one moment’s shame.  When it comes to protecting the helpless (specifically, a helpless child), homicide is justifiable.  Indeed, it is justified.

Thank God, though, that I’ve never had to make that decision.  Although I know already what it would be and am at peace with it (in the same way Bonhoeffer was at peace with his choice to enter into a conspiracy to murder Hitler).

Nonetheless, were I on the jury that will doubtless be called to sit in judgment of this father, I would, given the present facts of the case, find him innocent without question.

We’re All Fortunate We Didn’t Live In the Medieval Period…

Heinrich Bullinger von Otto Bänninger an der F...

Heinrich Bullinger von Otto Bänninger an der Fassade des Großmünsters in Zürich.

Because, then, we would, as clergy, been forbidden to participate in or watch games…

“We do utterly forbid all bishops, prelates, and clerks, of what degree soever, to play at tables, to keep company with dice-players, to be lookers on upon gamesters, or to run to gaze upon may-games or pageants.” (Apostolic Constitutions)(Cited by Heinrich Bullinger in The Decades).

Bullinger goes on to say that such demands have no basis in Scripture (fortunately for us!)

So I can say guilt free, Go England!

An Oldie But a Goodie

Published at the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th, the Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges is chock full of some of the best exegesis by some of the best exegetes who ever occupied British Chairs in New Testament.

I don’t mention it because Logos has sent it along for review, however, because they didn’t.  I purchased it and I’m exceptionally happy that I have.  Using it again after all these years (I used the hard copies in Grad school these many years ago) is like being reacquainted with a very dear, very learned old friend.

It has to be said, and we should remind ourselves regularly, that some of the things that have been around for a very long time have in fact been around for a very long time because they remain useful and important and reservoirs of learning.  Here, in these volumes, are the expositions of Plummer and Carr, Farrar and Lumby, Moule and Findlay and many others.

Here’s a snippet from Parry’s notes on Paul’s Letter to the Romans (in his discussion of ‘Imperialism’)-

It is certainly an established fact that S. Paul’s plan in his missionary work was to seize upon great centres of Roman administration in the provinces, and to make them the centres from which to propagate the Gospel. Thessalonica, Philippi, Corinth, Ephesus were the principal places which he took for his headquarters in the period of his independent activity. And Rome itself became a special object, when his work in these places was drawing towards completion. But the choice of such centres would be quite consistent with a wise consideration of the most effective means of evangelising the part of the world which lay readiest to his hand, and would not necessarily involve such a conception as is attributed to him. It is true, of course, that much tradition, both among Jew and Gentile, favoured a tribal or national embodiment of religious ideas. But among the Jews there is considerable evidence of a wider conception. And, among Gentiles, the Stoic disregard of all such distinctions was already influencing the thought and practice of the contemporary world. No doubt, the obvious indications of the attempt to establish an imperial religion, in the worship of Rome and the Emperor already fostered in the provinces, and in particular in the province of Asia, would readily suggest to an observant mind the possibility that Christianity might supply the place of an imperial cult.

Page after page and volume after volume, this is a real pearl of great price.  And when one finds the pearl of great price, one does whatever necessary to obtain it.

Children of Same-Sex Parents Fare Worse as Adults

A new study finds that adult children of parents in same-sex relationships fare worse socially, psychologically and physically than people raised in other family arrangements. Critics call the study deeply flawed, saying the results don’t accurately describe — or even measure — any children raised in stable households with two same-sex parents.

Of course the proponents of same-sex marriage fault the study. What else would they do? Ours is a smorgasbord culture where people pick and choose ‘truths’ according to their own inclinations. Given the fact that we no longer operate with a shared or common morality and ethic, it’s to be expected that anytime there’s evidence that counter-intuitive lifestyles are unhelpful or unhealthy, the claws will come out.

The study surveyed nearly 3,000 U.S. adults, ages 18 to 39, about their upbringing and their lives today, asking questions about factors such as income, relationship stability, mental health and history of sexual abuse. Of the 3,000 respondents, 73 reported that their father had engaged in a same-sex relationship and 163 reported that their mother had done so.

And what did the evidence show?

People who reported that their mother or father had a same-sex relationship at some point were different than children raised by their biological, still-married parents in 25 of the study’s 40 measures. And most of the time, they fared worse. The children of parents who at some point had a same-sex partner were more likely to be on welfare, have a history of depression, have less education and report a history of sexual abuse, the study found.

It seems that the tale we’ve been told and the bill of goods we’ve been sold as a society that ‘same sex parents raise healthy children as much as heterosexual couples do’ is false.  None of us should be happy about that.  Especially if we care about children.

Gaga’s Gash: Irony, Accident, Or…

Doubtless by now you’ve heard that ‘Lady’ Gaga(lot) was gashed in the head during her ‘concert’ titled “Judas” down in New Zealand.

The question- was the smack irony, a tiny wakeup call from the spiritual world, or a simple ‘accident’. For myself, since I don’t believe in ‘accidents’ (those who have an ear to hear, can hear), I take it as a gentle nudge that the sleeper should awake. I hope she does. Nothing could be better for her than a life of penance.

Scandal at the Glasgow Cathedral

In 1559 John Knox returned from ministering in...

The Choirmaster has been fired for having graveyard dalliances with his girlfriend…

Iain Simcock, 47, was dismissed as Glasgow Cathedral’s director of music after an internal investigation into claims he behaved indecently with a woman in her 30s. But he vehemently denied the “preposterous” allegation, saying that a perfectly innocent “kiss and a cuddle” after a recital had been misinterpreted. Mr Simcock’s dismissal by the Church of Scotland was linked last week to allegations of bullying the female choristers, claims that he also denied. The Kirk said at the time these accusations were not the reason for his sacking, instead citing a particular incident that gave it “no choice but to take immediate action”.

I have yet to hear anyone ever guilty of inappropriate or questionable behavior say ‘why sure I did it.’ Without exception, they all deny the charges. Nevertheless, I know what John Knox would do were he still leading the Church of Scotland… We all do…  Knox is glowering even now at Mr Simcock.  And at you too.  Probably for good reason.

‘Don’ Netanyahu: Mafioso and Facilitator of the Jewish Land Pirates

An astonishingly withering critique of both the Jewish Settlers and their Prime Minister in Ha’aretz written by Akiva Eldar has as its byline-

While the Jewish land pirates propose colliding head-on with anyone who stands in their path, the government proposes ways that create a detour around law and justice.

It includes this gem of insight-

The 21st-century Sicarii do not conceal their repugnance of the rules of the democracy game. Their long arms reach every Jew who dares challenge their actions: a Holocaust-survivor professor, peace activists, a bilingual school and a left-wing Knesset member. They do not refrain from attacking Israeli soldiers who permit them to shoot at Palestinian farmers. The establishment denounces “lawbreakers,” of course. But the prime minister and the foreign minister are among the leaders of those who incite against human rights organizations (Avigdor Lieberman: “They are accessories to terror” ), against the media (Netanyahu: “The New York Times and Haaretz are our main opponents” ) and against the rule of law (Interior Minister Eli Yishai: “It’s a mistake to demolish the homes” – or, the learned explanation: “There are thousands more homes that were built on private land” ).

A brilliant piece. Read it. Eldar has the situation in Israel perfectly pegged.  Netanyahu is nothing more than a Mafioso and he’s running the country like one.

Real Friends Show Up at Your Funeral

Via Ref.ch on the facebook.  There’s theology in that humor…

The June Biblioblog Carnival…

It’s 11 days late.  But hey, not all of us have OCD and feel compelled to be on time.  Here ya go- the goodness is over on the ‘Political Jesus‘ Blog.