Harvard, Where Christianity is Frowned Upon But Perversity is Smiled At

harvard mouthThe nation’s oldest university has formally recognized Harvard College Munch, a group promoting discussions and safe practices of kinky and alternative sex. The school has no record of a similar group being recognized in its 376-year history. The Committee on Student Life recognized Munch on Friday, making it one of 400 independent student organizations on campus. The decision occurred more than a year after members began meeting informally over meals.

That will doubtless be one of the more ‘attractive’ features are Harvard reaches out ever further to the bizarre and abnormal.  Just don’t be an actual Christian there- or more especially an Evangelical.  Those types are just not politically correct enough for Cambridge, MA.

Harvard is not the first school in the country to formally recognize kinky sex groups, and several active groups exist within the larger community in Cambridge and neighboring Boston.

No doubt…  *Sigh*.  Another sign of the times I suppose.  Bristol University’s Christian Union is under fire for silencing women in its meetings and no one has said a word about Harvard’s little club and its objectifying of women and subjugation of the same (along with men no doubt) in their reprobate ‘games’.  But as long as it’s Christian it’s naturally ‘bad’ in our day whilst if it’s raunchy and dehumanizing and non-Christian it’s a-o.k.  Weirdos.

“Rhythms of Time: Reconnecting Palestine’s Past”, by Keith Whitelam

Keith has written a new book soon to be released which will no doubt be both brilliantly written (as are all his works) and thoroughly engaging.  But first, the cover (which was produced by Keith’s daughter and I think she did an absolutely brilliant job):

whitelam_bookIn the next couple of days I’ll provide, courtesy the book’s author, the table of contents and a sample section.  For now, let this tease tease.

Bristol University Christian Union Tells Women to Shhhhhhssshhhhhhh

I find this particularly odd.  But, that said, if the Christian Union wants to enact such rules why is it such a cause of outrage to everyone else?  No one gets fired up when the Wiccans dance around wooden sticks and no one gets bent out of shape when Muslims insist on the veiling of women in Saudi Arabia.   After all, the old dictum still stands, doesn’t it?  Cuius regio, eius religio.

I might find it odd- but I’m not a member of the Bristol C.U.  It’s their club; it’s their rules.

Would I belong?  Nope.  But I wouldn’t ask them to change themselves just to suit me anymore than I would tell a Christian Zionist or a Gay activist that they have to change.  They don’t.  Not, anyway, just because I would wish it.

Bristol University Christian Union emailed members to say that women will not be asked to preach – unless, in the case of a handful of married students, they are accompanied by their husband.  The decision represents the latest sign of the growing influence of conservative evangelical teaching, particularly among younger Christians.  It sparked a furious reaction among fellow students and the university student union said it was investigating.  But it in fact represents a significant softening of the group’s previous stance on women in leadership.  In an email, which was obtained by the student newspaper, The Tab, the Christian Union president Matt Oliver, explained that the executive committee had decided in principle it was “OK” for women to be allowed to “teach” – meaning to preach from the Bible.    But he added that he recognised it was a “difficult issue for some” and that therefore women would not be invited to do so at the group’s main weekly meeting known as “CU:Equip”, or on residential weekends or missions.  He added: “But a husband and wife can teach together in these.  “This means that women are able to teach (including on their own) in any other CU setting.”  The message adds that such was the strength of feeling that one member of the executive had resigned on theological grounds.

In fact if those who find this so offensive wish to, they can start their own club can’t they.  If not, do they really have the right to carp?  After all, isn’t it better to light a candle than it is to curse the darkness?

Eric Cline’s Book “From Eden to Exile” for the Kindle

clineThe Kindle edition of From Eden to Exile, complete with a new Afterword, has just been released today and is now available for download, just in time for Hannukah and Christmas.  It’s a very, very fine book and the Kindle edition evidently contains a few updates and some additional material.  So there’s even more reason to read it.

So even if you don’t celebrate Hannukah or Christmas, get it anyway.  Get it for yourself.  Get it for your grandma.  Get it for you brother.  And be sure to get it for your spouse.  They’ll appreciate it.  For real.

CNN- Get Some Scholars To Help You, Please! CNN and the Newly Discovered Fragment of Romans

CNN aired a pretty interesting piece featuring the newly discovered fragment of Romans a few days back- but boy, did they bungle it.  If you watch the video and you’re paying attention, you’ll notice immediately the very moment that they show a close up of that fragment that it’s upside down!  Here’s a screenshot-

cnn_romansCome on CNN, just ask, we’ll help!  There’s no need to be wrong when you can be right.  Even if only a few observant souls will notice.  Believe me, we notice!

The St. Ambrose Conference on the Bible and Justice

Matthew Coomber passes along word of this event which I’m confident will interest many:

The St. Ambrose Conference
on Bible and Justice
May 30-June 2, 2013

The St. Ambrose Conference on Bible and Justice will bring together scholars, clergy, students, and advocates of justice from around the world to explore how the ancient texts of the Bible might address a variety of modern justice concerns. This international conference will work to foster discussion about the relevance of the Bible to modern social issues, while promoting bridges between the academic study of the Bible and the various endeavors for a just world. The proceedings will be divided into four main areas: empire, gender, poverty, and the environment. We are currently in talks with a major publishing house that is “keenly interested” in producing a conference volume of selected papers. We hope that you will join us for this exciting event.

Sincerely,
Drs. Matthew J.M. Coomber and Micah D. Kiel

Go to the link for all manner of details.

The Latest Research On the Text of the New Testament

By the inestimable Larry Hurtado.

Back in July, I noted the publication of a multi-author work that collectively addresses the many issues and bodies of evidence pertaining to the earliest state of the text of NT writings:  The Early Text of the New Testament, eds. C. E. Hill & M. J. Kruger (Oxford University Press, 2012).  The link to Mike Kruger’s announcement of the volume, which gives the table of contents, is here.  In the last couple of weeks, I’ve taken the time to work through the volume (21 contributions, and over 400 pp.), and I have to underscore how impressed I am with it.  In the following comments, I highlight contributions that I found particularly valuable.  (In a previous posting, here, I referred to my own contribution:  “Manuscripts and the Sociology of Early Christian Reading,” 49-62.)

And much more – which I’m positive you’ll enjoy.

An Interview With the Devil, Um, I Mean James Crossley

James looks different when he's in his wrestling outfit.  Thanks Google Images!

James looks different when he’s in his wrestling outfit. Thanks Google Images!

Actually James is hardly the Devil but given the fact that so many think he is, I thought I’d go ahead and imply so.  Anyway, Craig Martin has the first of a three part interview with him you’ll want to read.  And it’s a good one (in spite of the fact that Crossley is a Man United fan- but everyone has their failings… well almost everyone.)

Publication of the ‘Jesus’ Wife Fragment’ Is Delayed Again…

Probably, as Bob Cargill so elegantly put it, because ‘it’s still a forgery’.

Harvard’s divinity school says research purportedly showing some early Christians believed Jesus was married likely won’t be published by its scholarly journal next month, as originally announced. A spokesman says that tests aren’t completed to authenticate a papyrus fragment contain Coptic text, in which Jesus is quoted using the words ‘‘my wife.’’ The spokesman said Monday he didn’t know when the tests would be done. In September, Harvard said Professor Karen King’s research would be published in January’s Harvard Theological Review, the divinity school’s quarterly, peer-reviewed journal. But the journal’s co-editors later said they’d committed to January publication only pending further verification of the fragment, including scientific dating. King announced the research in Rome in September. But several scholars immediately expressed doubts. The Smithsonian Channel later delayed broadcasting a documentary on the fragment, pending the further testing.

My guess is that slowly but surely Harvard will let the story die of its own accord.  Given the attention spans of most, I’d say it already would have if they would stop attempting to excuse the ever-future publication date with tales of incomplete tests.

The thing will never be proven authentic for one simple reason: it isn’t.  Or, again, in Cargill’s phrase, ‘It’s still a forgery’.  No tests can change that.  Even the Smithsonian Channel has doubts and it will air anything about the bible and archaeology and early Christianity no matter how ridiculous or bogus.

Luther’s Temper

luther59While Luther was hiding (not really, since everyone knew he was there) at the Wartburg castle he wrote a fun little book on the Mass which he sent to Spalatin to have printed.  Alas, for Spalatin, it wasn’t and when Luther visited Wittenberg on 4 December he found out that it wasn’t.

So Luther immediately, while yet in Wittenberg, wrote a sharp letter to Spalatin in Lochau telling him that if the manuscript were not published forthwith, a more severe book would be written and published. Within a few weeks, before the middle of January, 1522, the book had come from the press of the Wittenberg publisher, Melchior Lotther.*

Luther wasn’t exactly the patient sort…

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*Luther’s works, vol. 36: Word and Sacrament II, p. 130.

Did You Know… Post tenebras lux…

2470472Did you know that the famous Reformed ‘motto’ Post tenebras lux was chosen by the City of Geneva on December 4, 1535, when the Council of Two Hundred decreed that the coins of Geneva should bear the  inscription, Post tenebras lucent [spero]. This was shortly afterwards changed to Post tenebras lux.

Revisiting the Tart of Einsiedeln

zw45One of Zwingli’s most famous letters was one he wrote on 5 December, 1518.  Here’s the background and then a brief snippet from the letter-

Most know that Huldrych Zwingli began his priestly duties in Glarus and then moved to Einsiedeln. There, a strumpet, the daughter of the barber, a vixen well known around town for he ability to ‘get what she wanted’, set her sights on the new Priest.

Zwingli, unfortunately, gave in to the varlet’s overtures and immediately repented, having nothing to do with her again.

Years later word was circulating around Zurich about the affair because several of Zwingli’s opponents were attempting to block his appointment as Priest of the Grossmunster. So Zwingli wrote his friend Heinrich Utinger on the 5th of December, 1518, the following (excerpted)-

One of the most learned and amiable of our friends [Oswald Myconius] has written to me that a rumor has been spread in Zurich about me, alleging that I have seduced the daughter of a high official, and that this has given offense to a number of my friends. I must answer this calumny so that you, dear friend, and others, can clear my life from these false rumors. . . First, you know that three years ago I made a firm resolution not to interfere with any female: St. Paul said it was good not to touch a woman. That did not turn out very well. . . . As to the charge of seduction I needn’t take long in dealing with that. They make it out to concern the daughter of an important citizen. I don’t deny that she is the daughter of an important person: anyone who could touch the emperor’s beard is important — barber forsooth! No one doubts that the lady concerned is the barber’s daughter except possibly the barber himself who has often accused his wife, the girl’s mother, a supposedly true and faithful wife, of adultery, blatant but not true. At any rate he has turned the girl, about whom all this fuss is being made, out from his house and for two years has given her neither board nor lodging. So what is the daughter of such a man to me? . . . With intense zeal day and night even at the cost of harm to his body, [I] study the Greek and Latin philosophers and theologians, and this hard work takes the heat out of such sensual desires even if it does not entirely eliminate them. Further, feelings of shame have so far restrained me that when I was still in Glarus and let myself fall into temptation in this regard a little, I did so so quietly that even my friends hardly knew about it. And now we will come to the matter before us and I will cast off what they call the last anchor taking no account of public opinion which takes a poor view of open resort to loose women. In this instance it was a case of maiden by day, matron by night, and not so much of the maiden by day but everybody in Einsiedeln knew about her . . . no one in Einsiedeln thought I had corrupted a maiden. All the girl’s relations knew that she had been caught long before I came to Einsiedeln, so that I was not in any way concerned. . . . To close: I have written a good deal of facetious chatter, but these people don’t understand anything else. You can say whatever you think suitable to anyone who is concerned.*

What’s so fascinating here is 1- the use of the Latin and Greek Fathers as saltpeter. And 2- Zwingli’s blunt admission that he had fallen a few times in Glarus and then once in Einsiedeln, employing thereafter the aforementioned saltpeter. It has to be recognized that Priests in Zwingli’s time regularly employed mistresses and many were fathers of large broods of children. This isn’t to excuse, but to contextualize. Zwingli fell a few times- but not as much as most.

Which means, doesn’t it, that he was a bit depraved, but not totally!  😉

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*G.R. Potter’s translation and selection of the letter to Utinger found in Zwinglis Saemtliche Werke, Bd. VII, S. 110ff.