Daily Archives: 18 Aug 2012

Did Jesus Drive a Honda?

I don’t think so.  If Jesus had a car, it would be an American made one.  Or a BMW.  Ok probably a BMW.  But it definitely wouldn’t be a Honda.  This is just more of that annoying bad exegesis…

via Candida Moss on FB

By the way, if you guys at BMW are googling around and come across this, I’d love to get a review copy of your new BMW SUV. Any model. Just contact me for the delivery address.

What the New York Times Obituaries Tell Us About our Country

You know you’re living in a culture of celebrity when the Twitter for the president of the United States ranks No. 6, trailing behind rock stars Justin Bieber and Katy Perry by millions of followers.    But have celebrities always trumped achievers for public attention?

University of South Carolina sociologist Patrick Nolan decided to test the notion that public fascination with celebrities had grown during the 20th century while interest in achievers or producers such as scientists, inventors or industrialists and religious figures had waned.  Using The New York Times obituaries as a cultural barometer, he analyzed 100 years of obits from 1900 — 2000, working from the newspaper’s “notable deaths” section. The results of his study, “Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Apotheosis of Celebrities in 20th-century America,” appear in the summer issue of the sociological journal Sociation Today.

And

“Most striking are the simultaneous increases in celebrity obituaries and declines in religious obituaries. They document the increasing secularization and hedonism of American culture at a time when personal income was rising and public concern was shifting away from the basic issues of survival,” Nolan said.  “The magnitude of these trends is seismic. While the Greeks may have looked to their gods for guidance and entertainment, we’ve turned increasingly to our celebrities — entertainers and athletes.”

And

Comparing percentages of obits in the various occupations to employment in those industries revealed a disproportionate amount of celebrity obits in the fields of entertainment and sports. The finding clearly documented a trend toward secular hedonism, he said.

This only confirms what I’ve been saying for  a long time- when a theologian or biblical scholar dies the media hardly ever notice; but when a celeb or jock breaks wind, the media can’t get enough of covering it.

Hedonism and entertainment- it’s all our world cares about.

The Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament

The preface of volume one states

The Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (EDNT) is a translation of the Exegetisches Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament (EWNT) and seeks to meet a broad range of needs of the student, pastor, and scholar. It is a complete English dictionary of New Testament Greek that includes definitions of every word appearing in the New Testament, a guide to the usage in different New Testament literary and theological contexts of every significant New Testament word, a systematic summation of the results of recent exegetical study of the New Testament, and a valuable source of bibliographical data for New Testament exegesis and theology.

The three volumes which comprise the dictionary were published in 1990 by Eerdmans and in spite of the fact that it is now over 20 years old it remains an absolutely invaluable resource.  Logos has an electronic edition which replicates the print edition and which is, consequently, extremely easy to search and utilize.

The Preface to volume three specifies the intention of the edition-

EDNT is not a “theological dictionary,” but proceeds rather from an “exegesis” of the words in their contexts, it is certainly no less theologically oriented. But unlike the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, it covers all the words of the Greek New Testament (including the most important textual variants) and all proper names. And comparison with other dictionaries treating the entire New Testament vocabulary throws the theological orientation of EDNT into sharp relief: Wherever it has been appropriate, key words are treated in the context of individual writings or groups of writings. In this way the contours of the different New Testament “theologies” can be seen clearly.

It is- for that reason – more complete than the three volume edition of Spicq and in many ways more useful than TDNT (which in too many instances manifests incredibly outdated lexical material as well as ideologically driven entries).

Searches, as I suggested, are simplified in the electronic edition.  Here’s a screenshot of the table of contents with the page open to the entry on αμαρτια:

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Here’s a sample entry:
ἰδιώτης, ου, ὁ   idiōtēs   layperson, uneducated person

Lit.: BILLERBECK III, 454–56. — H. SCHLIER, TDNT III, 215–17. — SPICQ, Notes I, 384–86.

1. In Greek usage ἰδιώτης means both “private person” in contrast to public officials, and “stranger” in contrast to members of the group or local persons. Although the word does not appear in the LXX, it was taken over as a loanword with the same meaning in the rabbinic literature: heḏeyôṭ can thus designate a human being in contrast to the deity. The meaning is determined concretely by its context or by the contrast that is made. In the NT the Greek word appears 5 times, of which 3 are in 1 Corinthians 14 (vv. 16, 23, and 24).

2. In Acts 4:13 the apostles are called ἄνθρωποι ἀγράμματοι καὶ ἰδιῶται (Hippolytus Philos. ix.11.1 uses the same phrase): they are uneducated and are not scribes. Similarly, Paul calls himself ἰδιώτης τῷ λόγῳ in 2 Cor 11:6. His intent is not to describe himself as generally uneducated, but rather to emphasize οὐ τῇ γνώσει. Thus the phrase is to be translated “unversed in speaking” (cf. Hippolytus Philos. viii.18: ἰδιῶται τὴν γνῶσιν; similarly Justin Apol. i.39.3; in 60.11 parallel to βάρβαροι).

In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul uses the term in reference to untranslated glossolalia. It is disputed whether Paul is concerned about the church member who is incapable of glossolalia or the non-Christian outsider. In v. 16 ὁ ἀναπληρῶν τὸν τόπον τοῦ ἰδιώτου might refer to a church member whose status (cf. τόπον in Acts 1:25) leaves him ignorant of glossolalia. The meaning in 14:23 is also ambiguous: “When the whole church assembles and all speak in tongues, εἰσέλθωσιν δὲ ἰδιῶται ἢ ἄπιστοι, will they not say that you are mad? But if all prophesy, εἰσέλθῃ δέ τις ἄπιστος ἢ ἰδιώτης, he is convicted by all.” Schlier (217) and Conzelmann (1 Cor [Hermeneia] 243) see no distinction between ἄπιστος and ἰδιώτης, while BAGD (s.v. 2), referring to the t.t. of religious associations, understands ἰδιώτης as a type of proselyte, a participant who is not fully a member. The parallel to βάρβαρος in Justin [see above] is also present in 1 Cor 14:11.

H.-W. Bartsch

What’s of interest here, and in all the entries included in the dictionary is the combination of thoroughness of treatment and perspicuity of presentation.  Also quite valuable indeed are the bibliographic materials which preface each entry.

Again, using the electronic edition as our example, if someone wished to find, for instance, all of the bibliographic mentions of Rudolf Karl Bultmann one could do so with haste:

click to enlarge

Naturally one can use the search function for Greek words or English as well.  This comes in handy should one wish to look up the name ‘Saul’ in order to verify the claim of Ben Witherington III that Saul was named Paul because “Saulos has connotations of how a prostitute walks” (by which I suppose he means that Saulos has connotations with how prostitutes perambulate).  I’ve never heard such a reason given and it really makes no sense at all.  So I wanted to check.  EDNT knows no such usage:

Σαῦλος, ου Saulos Saul
Σαούλ Saoul Saul*

Lit.: H. J. CADBURY, The Book of Acts in History (1955) 69ff. — H. CONZELMANN, Acts (Hermeneia), on 13:9. — E. HAENCHEN, Acts (Eng. tr., 1971), on 13:9. — G. A. HARRER, “Saul who also is called Paul,” HTR 33 (1940) 19–34. — K. LÖNING, Die Saulustradition in der Apostelgeschichte (NTAbh 9, 1973). — For further bibliography → Παῦλος.

1. Paul is mentioned by his Jewish name (Heb. šā’ûl) 22 times in the NT, all in Acts. 15 times the Grecized form Σαῦλος appears (all between Acts 7:58 and 13:9). 8 times the indeclinable form Σαούλ appears (all voc. and all in narrative of his conversion: 9:4 bis, 17; 22:7 bis, 13; 26:14 bis; in 26:14 with Ἑβραῒς διάλεκτος) and is to be understood as a literary archaism. Acts 13:21 mentions the first Israelite king Σαούλ, son of Kish (cf. 1 Sam 9ff.; 1 Chr 8:33; 10:1ff.; 1 Macc 4:30; 1 Clem. 4:13) and attributes to him a reign of forty years (as does Josephus Ant. vi.378; according to x.143 only twenty years).

2. The Grecized form of the name (Σαῦλος) was common in the Hellenistic age (several occurrences in Josephus) and might have been given to Paul by his parents (→ Παῦλος 2). In general Luke’s narrative first uses this form (and in Acts 22:7 D; 26:14 v.l. it replaces the archaizing form) since it would be more accessible to the Hellenistic reader (7:58; 8:1, 3; 9:1, 8, 11, 22, 24; 11:25, 30; 12:25; 13:1, 2, 7, 9; but P45 always has Σαούλ: see Harrer 24f.). Esp. the archaizing form reveals the Lukan intention of introducing Paul as a good Jew and in this way corresponds to the broader Lukan portrait of Paul.

But from Acts 13:9 (Σαῦλος δέ, ὁ καὶ Παῦλος) on Saul is referred to in narrative by his Roman name. One may assume (with Harrer) that Paul also carried the similar-sounding Roman name (perhaps as a cognomen in addition to the Jewish name as signum or supernomen) from birth (cf. his Roman citizenship: 22:28). Nonetheless, a literary agenda stands behind the change in Acts 13:9: The excellent Jew Saul becomes Paul, the missionary to the Gentiles! This agenda is cleverly worked into an episode telling about a Roman official with this name (→ Σέργιος Παῦλος; the change is not, however, to be associated with the name of the Roman proconsul; cf. Haenchen).

Can the name Saul ever have been present in pre-Lukan tradition? The only possibilities would be the baptism story in Acts 9 (according to Löning) and the reports in Acts 11:30 (the collection) and 13:1 (the list of coworkers). In the second and third of these Paul is already mentioned as an Antiochian coworker in the service of a Hellenistic mission community. The baptism story, too, as the report of the conversion of a great man, was probably related only on the basis of more extensive successes. As his letters attest, Paul was probably known only by his Roman name (→ Παῦλος 1, 2), so that one should reject the possibility of a genuine Saul tradition. In a skillful literary manner Luke has woven his own personal knowledge into the form of an illuminating and convincing portrayal.

G. Schille

Where, then, did Witherington get this weird idea?  Apparently from someone named David Capes, who makes the suggestion on his blog without so much as a single citation or source.  So, Witherington has simply adopted an unsubstantiated claim because, apparently, it sounds sensible.   But do remember, because words sound like something doesn’t mean they mean something!  In order to make such a statement Witherington, and Capes, need to offer some proof.  Such proof is absent the better Dictionaries.

So much, then, for bizarre claims- claims easily put to rest by use of an excellent Dictionary.  And that, good readers, is exactly what we have in the Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament.  Making use of such resources rescues one from the perils of making claims without substance.

If you want to avoid inaccurate exegesis, use a good exegetical dictionary.  Use THIS exegetical dictionary, either in its print form or in the electronic format.  Whatever you do, though, do use it.

Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity

Baker Academic have sent along (via NetGalley) a galley proof of Mark Noll’s soon to appear 3rd edition of a work originally appearing in the late 90’s.

In this new edition of a popular introduction to church history, Mark Noll isolates key events that provide a framework for understanding the history of Christianity. The book presents Christianity as a worldwide phenomenon rather than just a Western experience.

Now organized around fourteen key moments in church history, this well-received text provides contemporary Christians with a fuller understanding of God as he has revealed his purpose through the centuries. This edition includes a new preface; updates throughout the book; revised “further readings” for each chapter; and two new chapters, including one spotlighting Vatican II and Lausanne as turning points of the recent past.

My review is here.

Hank Williams Jr. Exemplifies All That’s Wrong With Country Music

Today at the Iowa state fair Jr ‘opined’ (from his perch of incredible ignorance) –

“We’ve got a Muslim president who hates farming, hates the military, hates the US and we hate him!” — Via Michael Moore on the twitter.

I’m not a fan of country music because I just think it’s silly.  And I think it’s silly because people like Williams are just daft and they’re the ‘stars’ so admired by fans of the genre.  Williams is the very kind who believes the ‘birther’ conspiracy and who gleefully peddles the insanity to all his lapping followers.

If it’s true that we’re known by the company we keep, those who hang out with the country singing crowd need to evaluate their circles.

Reformation Day 2012 at Emory University

Those in the Atlanta area may be interested in this annual event.

The twenty-fifth Reformation Day at Emory will be held on Thursday, October 25, and takes as its theme, The Kessler Collection after Twenty-Five Years. This year’s program celebrates the first twenty-five years of the Kessler Collection by noting its value for scholars, students and the church.

9:00-9:45 a.m. Registration and Reception
Formal Lounge, Cannon Chapel
10:00-10:45 a.m. “The Spirit in Worship: Lutheran Theology of the Activity of the Holy Spirit in Hearing God’s Word.”, Rev. Jan Rippentrop, doctoral student, Graduate Division of Religion, Emory University
Sanctuary, Cannon Chapel
11:00-11:50 a.m. Chapel service, Prof. J. Neil Alexander, director of the Anglican Studies Program, Candler School of Theology, preaching
Sanctuary, Cannon Chapel
12:15-1:30 p.m. Luncheon Musical Program, Rev. Barbara Day Miller, Associate Dean of Worship and Music and Assistant Professor in the Practice of Liturgy; and The Candler Singers. Please make reservations for the luncheon by calling            404.727.6352       or emailing candleralum@emory.edu.
Cox Hall
1:45-2:45 p.m. “A Living, Daring Confidence,” Bishop Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sanctuary, Cannon Chapel
2:45-3:15 p.m. Refreshments & Break
Formal Lounge, Cannon Chapel
3:30-4:30 p.m. “The Man Who Loosed Luther’s German Tongue: New Approaches to Johann Tetzel”, Dr. Dewey W. Kramer
Sanctuary, Cannon Chapel

Christians Who Adore Ayn Rand Can Scarcely Be Known As Christians

So what explains the current Christian Right fawning over her the way some silly academic souls fawn over Wikipedia as a pretended reliable resource?  Cynthia Tucker attempts an explanation, during which she correctly notes:

In the 1950s, serious Christians kept their distance from Rand. So did mainstream Republicans. The father of the modern conservative movement, William F. Buckley, was contemptuous of her, and the pages of his magazine, National Review, were anything but kind to her views.

But Rand has since been elevated to a central figure in conservatism. Business moguls have embraced her because of her frank worship of wealth. “Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue,” she said. And her contempt for government, with its regulations and taxation, was just what America’s reckless and self-centered class of business executives wanted to hear.

It’s harder to figure out how Rand came to be embraced by conservative Christians, however. Last year, the late Charles Colson made a video denouncing Rand and warning his fellow Republicans against elevating her philosophy. “It’s hard to imagine a world view more antithetical to Christianity,” he said.

That’s correct- the Rand-ian worldview is absolutely unacceptable and inappropriate for a Christian.  Face it.  It’s either Rand or Christianity.  It’s either/ or,  certainly not both/ and.

Geza Vermes on BBC Radio, With John McCarthy

Fifty years ago this year, the first translations were made of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which have contributed massively to the understanding of the Bible and Christian teachings.  The translations were done by a man who has gone on to be called the most important Jesus historian ever, Geza Vermes.

John McCarthy meets Vermes, who has devoted his career to the historical examination of the Bible and the life of Jesus.  Vermes tells McCarthy his own story of escaping Eastern Europe after his parents were killed in the Holocaust and how he became a Roman Catholic priest.  He left the priesthood and his academic work has become the most-important academic study of the historical life of Christ, although many of his theories about the life and work of Jesus contradict the accepted teachings and beliefs that underpin the worship for hundreds of millions of people.  McCarthy examines how his work contributed to the understanding of the Bible for ordinary worshippers, Christian and Jewish.

Today With Zwingli

The Zurich City Council responded to the orders of the Bishop of Constance to halt Reforming actions through the pen of Zwingli on 18 August, 1524 in a book titled Christenlich antwurt burgermeisters und radtes zuo Zürich, dem hochwirdigen etc. herren Hugen, byschoffe zuo Costantz, über die underricht beyder articklen: der bilder und mesß, inen zuogeschickt. Also in götlicher warheit gründt, das mencklich ersehen mag, was davon under christenem volck billich sölle gehalten werden.

Essentially, the answer to the Bishop was No!  The City was happy, though, to have a debate and the Catholic camp was invited to attend.  All matters, however, would be decided on the basis of Scripture and not patristic or Roman tradition.

Someone Needs To Pay Attention

The face may look familiar to viewers of the Channel 4 television show, King of the Hill.  But salesman behind counters in Nottinghamshire failed to notice the cartoon character on the fake identity card was Bobby King. And the age given on the document was only 17.  However in an undercover operation by trading standards, a teenager using this ID card successfully purchased alcohol six times.

Here’s the ID the kid used… and they either ignored it or they actually accepted it!!!!!!  What absurdity.

Via Tom Bolin on FB.