Daily Archives: 24 Sep 2012

Quote of the Day

Domine, si umquam habuero codices saeculares, si legero, te negavi.
— St. Jerome (the only Church Father worth knowing or reading).

Today’s ‘Fresh Air’ Will Force Even the Most Optimistic Soul to Despair for American ‘Democracy’

If you learn one thing from today’s Fresh Air it will be that America’s democratic process has been kidnapped, molested, raped, and murdered by our very own politicians.  And the body now lies moldering in some nasty backwater hinterland of a swamp.  You owe it to yourself to listen to the whole sad tale.  No matter how much of an optimist you fancy yourself, you’ll come away realizing just how much damage partisan politics have done to this country.

Gerd Thiessen’s Modern Rendering of the Heidelberg Catechism

Gibt es denn keine Übersetzung des Heidelbergers in unsere Sprache? – Diese Frage wird immer wieder in den Gemeinden laut. Und sie lässt sich schwerlich mit dem Hinweis auf die revidierte Fassung von 1997 beantworten. Ob Christus für alle meine Sünden voll­kom­men oder vollkömmlich bezahl(e)t hat, macht keinen Unterschied – außer dass die Revision nichts mehr von der Schönheit des Frühneuhochdeutschen übrig gelas­sen hat. Stattdessen suggeriert die ‚Modernisierung‘, dass man die theologischen Überzeu­gun­gen des 16. Jahr­hun­derts unverändert in die Gegenwart übertragen könne, wenn man nur ein paar Ne­ben­sät­ze umstellt und ungebräuchliche Wendungen ersetzt. Den Gemeinden, die nach einer ‚Über­set­zung‘ fragen, bleibt man damit das Wesentliche schuldig.

So Gerd Thiessen has answered the call and provided what’s been lacking-

Gibt es denn keine Übersetzung des Heidelbergers in unser Denken? Doch – es gibt sie! Gerd Theißen – Glaubenssätze. Ein kritischer Katechismus. Juli 2012 – Gütersloher Verlagshaus.

Gewidmet hat der emeritierte Neutestamentler aus Heidelberg (!) sein umfangreiches Buch (443 Seiten) dem Andenken von Zacharius Ursinus (1534-1584), Verfasser des Heidelberger Ka­te­chismus 1563. Dieser war Theißen „ein Vorbild an Klarheit und Systematik“. Man möch­te ergänzen: und an poetischer Sprachkraft.

Ausdrücklich versteht Theißen seine 235 Fragen und Antworten als Angebote, „das Chris­ten­tum zu entdecken oder wieder zu entdecken“. Und so wie er in seiner Theorie des Ur­chris­ten­tums (Die Religion der ersten Christen, 2000) den religiösen Gehalt so darstellen wollte, „dass er für Menschen unabhängig von ihrer religiösen oder nicht-religiösen Einstellung zu­gäng­lich wird“ (S.13), soll sein Katechismus auch „säkularisierten Menschen“ helfen „bes­ser zu verstehen, was einen modernen Christen bewegt, auch wenn er dessen Chris­ten­tum nicht teilt“.

Lots more at the report on Reformiert Info.

How Good is the Hebrew of the Book of Ruth?

It’s a question addressed by Timothy Lim in a paper he’s uploaded for your reading pleasure at Academia.edu.

In this paper, I will examine one feature of this theme of estrangement by discussing the quality of Ruth’s Hebrew. I will suggest that while Ruth’s Hebrew is very good, it is uneven. The author of the book intentionally made her stumble over her words in one instance as he reminds the reader that she was “Ruth the Moabitess.”

Give it a look.

It’s Nice to See Some in the Academy Finally Catching Up

The topic: academic publishing.  The venue: The Chronicle of Higher Education. The title: Want to Change Academic Publishing? Just Say No. The gist:

If academic work is to be commodified and turned into a source of profit for shareholders and for the 1 percent of the publishing world, then we should give up our archaic notions of unpaid craft labor and insist on professional compensation for our expertise, just as doctors, lawyers, and accountants do.

This does not mean we would never referee articles free. Just as the lawyer who is my neighbor bills corporate clients a hefty fee but represents prisoners in Guantánamo pro bono, so academics could referee without charge for nonprofit presses but insist on professional rates of compensation from for-profit publishers that expect us to donate our labor while paying mansion salaries to their chief executives and top managers.

We could also insist that these publishers pay a modest fee to acquire our intellectual content if they publish our articles. To prevent chaos, our professional associations could recommend standard fees for refereeing articles and for compensating authors of articles.

Corporate publishers will complain that this suggestion, if adopted, would undermine the profitability of their industry. I will leave this question to the accountants. But I do know that if a factory said it could not be profitable without paying less than minimum wage, decent people would respond that it is indecent to pay people below minimum wage for honest work.

If a for-profit business cannot prosper without demanding huge amounts of free labor, then surely the business model needs reinventing. And if enough professors refuse to referee without compensation, the reinvention will begin.

Amen and amen.

Where in the World is Chris Tilling Now?

He’s been on vacation (or as he calls it, on holiday) down in East Australia.  And even then, he can’t stay out of trouble:

A man in Auckland, New Zealand had a rather embarrassing emergency last week when he had to ask doctors to remove an eel from his bottom.  An Auckland City Hospital spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Huffington Post. But Matt Rogers, spokesman for Auckland District Health Board, confirmed that a man was treated for the condition at ACH.

That’s what he gets for swimming with eel bait slathered on his backside.  (He does that frequently.  I have no idea why.  Why does he do anything he does?).  Maybe one day he’ll manage to behave….

Coming Soon: Three Contests and Three Chances to Win a Fantastic New Volume From T&T Clark

T&T Clark are sending a copy of each of the following volumes for me to give away to very lucky readers.  First, there’s

Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity.  The internationally renowned authors of this book examine the nature of this new debate and present the findings in a cohesive way aimed directly at making the coalface of Historical Jesus research accessible to undergraduates and seminary students. The book’s larger ramifications as a thorough end to the Third Quest will provide a pressure valve for thousands of scholars who view historical Jesus studies as outmoded and misguided. This book has the potential to guide Jesus studies beyond the Third Quest and demand to be consulted by any scholar who discards, adopts, or adapts historical criteria.


The Mother of the Lord.  Are there Old Testament roots of the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary? Margaret Barker traces the roots of the devotion to Mary as Mother of the Lord back to the Old Testament and the first temple in Jerusalem. The evidence is consistent over more than a millennium: there had been a female deity in Israel, the Mother figure in the Royal cult, who had been abandoned about 600BCE. She was almost written out of the Hebrew text, almost excluded from the canon.   This first of two volumes traces the history of the Lady in the Temple, and looks forward to the second volume in which Barker will show how the Lady of the Temple is reclaimed in the advent of Christianity, and becomes the Lady in the Church. The result is breathtaking, and like all Barker’s work, is impossible to put down.

And third, and confessedly the one about which I am most excited (pacé Le Donne and Goodacre)

Canaan and Israel in Antiquity.  This comprehensive classic textbook represents the most recent approaches to the biblical world by surveying Palestine’s social, political, economic, religious and ecological changes from Palaeolithic to Roman eras. Designed for beginners with little knowledge of the ancient world, and with copious illustrations and charts, it explains how and why academic study of the past is undertaken, as well as the differences between historical and theological scholarship and the differences between ancient and modern genres of history writing. Classroom tested chapters emphasize the authenticity of the Bible as a product of an ancient culture, and the many problems with the biblical narrative as a historical source. Neither “maximalist” nor “minimalist'” it is sufficiently general to avoid confusion and to allow the assignment of supplementary readings such as biblical narratives and ancient Near Eastern texts. This new edition has been fully revised, incorporating new graphics and English translations of Near Eastern inscriptions. New material on the religiously diverse environment of Ancient Israel taking into account the latest archaeological discussions brings this book right up to date.

Details about the contests will appear in due course.  Just prepare yourselves to be clever and creative and who knows, you might win a copy.

Inventing Jesus’ Wife: Francis Watson

Professor Watson offers a piece with the general audience in mind in Bible and Interpretation.  It’s brilliant.  Seriously brilliant.  Inassailably brilliant.

For Christian traditions that place a high value on celibacy, Jesus is the supreme celibate; and he retains this status even when, in Protestantism, celibacy is no longer seen as a mark of the truly holy life. The Christ who offers salvation to all, the incarnate divine Son, can, surely, never have uttered the words, “My wife”? Yet it is just these words that some scribe, ancient or modern, has put into his mouth. That scribe knew exactly what he or she was doing: subverting deep-seated assumptions about Jesus in the most effective way possible, by challenging them out of Jesus’ own lips. The Jesus of this text renounces not only his celibacy but also the community for which that celibacy is integral to who he is. No Christian institution – not the Vatican itself – could withstand such a challenge, if it really is Jesus who speaks here.

God willing this nail in the heart of the vampire-esque-nuttiness-that-will-not-yet-die will finish it off for good.

This is Why Real Football (Soccer) is Superior to its Less Enjoyable American Form

Thanks to Tom Bolin for pointing out this piece in the Wall Street Journal– from back in 2010-

Football fans everywhere are preparing to settle in for the NFL’s biggest and most electric weekend of the season—a four-game playoff marathon that will swallow up at least 12 hours of broadcast time over two days. But here’s something even dedicated students of the game may not fully appreciate: There’s very little actual football in a football game. According to a Wall Street Journal study of four recent broadcasts, and similar estimates by researchers, the average amount of time the ball is in play on the field during an NFL game is about 11 minutes. In other words, if you tally up everything that happens between the time the ball is snapped and the play is whistled dead by the officials, there’s barely enough time to prepare a hard-boiled egg. In fact, the average telecast devotes 56% more time to showing replays.

Nothing has changed since then. In fact, it’s probably less time of actual play now given the replacement refs abysmal work.

On the other hand when you watch a real football game, there are two halves of 45 minutes and there are 45 minutes in each half of actual play. And if there are delays, they add time on at the end of the half.

There’s just no comparison. The real game lasts 90+ minutes and the game played by lots of obese guys is about 1/9th of that.

Slamming Dilettantism

I applaud someone whom I scarcely appreciate, this time-

via Scott ‘the Canadian Reprobate’ Bailey on the fb

Thinking of Jesus as a Man Isn’t a Theological Problem For Billions of Christians…

It isn’t a problem at all. What IS a problem, however, is manufactured, late, spurious ‘evidence’ suggesting Jesus had a wife or children or all the other nonsense for which there is NOT ONE shred of reliable, contemporaneous material. My erstwhile friend Dr Tabor is simply wrong.

Again, Christians don’t find the humanity of Jesus problematic. He was a man and according to Hebrews subject to all the feelings and desires of a man. But he was, the author continues, without sin.

The Church has always confessed that Jesus was simultaneously ‘fully God and fully man’. If Dr. Tabor rejects one or the other of those claims that’s his business; but to suppose or suggest that billions of Christians are in the camp of those who reject the humanity of Jesus is historically inaccurate.

Again, then, and as forthrightly as I can say it, Christians don’t have a problem with Jesus’ humanity. Our problem is with the peddlers of unsupported unsubstantiated theories foisted upon Jesus for the sake of the almighty dollar or public acclaim or both. We Christians do theology because we love the subject, not because we want to make a Discovery Channel special about the latest strangest weirdest theory that comes down the conspiracy loon pipeline.

A Lovely Song Composed for the Celebration of the Heidelberg Catechism

Via Barbara Schenck on the twitter.

Why Man Isn’t Mere Animal

In revealing Himself to man God kindled aspirations in his heart which reach beyond the animal and beyond his sensuous nature. God precipitated a struggle in the inner life of man. His “soul strives to fashion itself upon the pattern of Him towards whom it is hastening, who is holiness, purity, light, rest, refreshment, and all blessedness together.” In the striving of the soul to rise upward, it is held back by the body, “which by its nature scorns what the soul greatly values.” Hence there is a constant battle between the flesh and the spirit. To save man from despair, “God so manifests Himself to him that he can safely trust His mercy.” God revealed Himself in Christ “to strengthen the hopes of all that they should see clearly that nothing can be refused, now that the Son is given for mortals.” — Huldrych Zwingli

Events Sponsored by Tyndale House, Cambridge


Tyndale House is holding an Open Day entitled A Window on Tyndale House, on Saturday 6 October 2012 between 2.00 and 5.00 p.m. There will be an interesting display of historical and rare Bibles including items on loan from Cambridge University Library; a preview of the exciting Scripture Tools for Every Person software; decoding an ancient manuscript plus news of future plans, all topped off with afternoon tea.  Please let us know if you are able to join us by calling 01223 566601 or by email. You will be most welcome!

And then

The next Bible and Church day conference presenting evidence on the authenticity of the NT Gospels will be in Durham on Saturday 10 November 2012 at St Nicholas’ Church. Transport links to Durham and within the city are very good and St Nicholas’ Church is situated at the very centre of the city, in the Market Place. If you are able to join us this is an excellent event for seekers as well as Christians. Full details and online booking are on the Bible and Church website.


Details on memorial service for Dick France, who had a long association with Tyndale House, can be found here.

Via Peter Williams.