Amazing- Even Miraculous

An Oregon man who became pinned by his 3,000-pound tractor has his teenage daughters to thank after they were able to lift the machine off him and quickly summon help. Jeff Smith, 36, of Lebanon, Ore. was on his 1949 Ferguson tractor on April 1, trying to pull a stump out of his wife’s garden when, while putting it in reverse, his muddy boot slipped off the clutch. With the tractor chained to the stump, the full weight of the tractor fell backwards, right onto his chest. Pinned, Smith immediately called to his teenage daughters for help.

Amazing.  And neat.

On The Piety Which Parades Itself: An Observation

Piety on parade is always false piety- a blowing of the trumpet to gain attention for self or the dropping of coins into the Temple treasury in the sight of others; a self-glorifying standing on the street corner praying loudly in earshot of all.  With Luther it’s wise to say

… away with the false piety of the monks and their foolish hypocrisy!

Anyone who has to tell you how pious he or she is, isn’t.

This Week’s Winner of the ‘Dilly the Dilettante’ Award

And boy is it a doosie.  This email was sent to Francesca….

901547_10151581791247340_855081043_oTwo things to note… the Bible wasn’t written in English, so the whole premise is stupid.  Just rankly stupid.  Little wonder the ‘book’ hasn’t gotten much notice.  And second, Francesca gets more nutbag email than anyone in the history of the 21st century (so far).

Anyway, Mr 19 year old ‘scholar’, here’s your Dilly.  Enjoy it…  You’ve certainly earned it-

dilly-the-dilettante

Consensus? Where?

Joel Baden writes for Bible and Interpretation

Recently, one of my students, inquiring about the relationship between two biblical texts, asked me, “What’s the consensus on this?” A common enough question, especially from students who are just starting in the field. And, indeed, a common enough concept, one that appears with some regularity in scholarly works. But “consensus” is a problematic word, especially in biblical studies.

There hasn’t, it seems to me, been consensus in anything for centuries.  The days of consensus are long gone and here’s why:  it isn’t because there aren’t hard facts and sensible conclusions aplenty, it’s because everyone thinks they’re an expert.  In such a climate, consensus is impossible.

Add to that the fact that many academics make their living by offering counter-consensus views (contrarians all) and voila, the sure and certain death of the consensus has appeared.

If Doctrine is Right, Morals are Right; If Doctrine is Wrong, Morals are Wrong

Wrote Martin Luther-

Doctrine and life must be distinguished.  Life is bad among us, as it is among the papists, but we don’t fight about life and condemn the papists on that account.  Wycliffe and Huss didn’t do this and attacked the papacy for its life.  I don’t scold myself into becoming good, but I fight over the Word and whether our adversaries teach it in its purity.  That doctrine should be attacked has never before happened.  This is my calling.  Others have censured only life, but to treat doctrine is to strike at the most sensitive point . . . When the Word remains pure, then the life (even if there is something lacking in it) can be molded properly.

Or, for the purists-

WA TR 1, 294,19-295,3: “Doctrina et vita sunt distinguenda. Vita est mala apud nos sicut apud papistas; non igitur de vita dimicamus et damnamus eos. Hoc nesciverunt Wikleff et Hus, qui vitam impugnarunt. Jch schilte mich nit fromm; sed de verbo, an vere doceant, ibi pugno. Doctrinam invadere ist noch nie geschehen. Ea est mea vocatio. Alii vitam tantum insectati sunt, sed de doctrina agere, das ist der gans an kragen grieffen […] Sed quando manet verbum purum, etiamsi vitae aliquid deest, so kan vita dennoch zu recht kommen.”

With thanks, once more, to Emidio Campi for the citation.  And don’t you love how Luther mixes German with Latin.  He did that all the time.  In sermons, chats, books, everywhere.

At any event, Luther is correct- and the failure of many to live rightly today is based precisely upon the fact that their doctrine is wrong.  Wrong doctrine results in bad morals. Right doctrine results in good morals.

Giorgio Girardet on Bullinger

Here– and very much worth reading.  He observes

Bullinger, der als Nachfolger des früh gefallenen Zwingli Calvin elf Jahre überlebte, war zuletzt eine Art Patriarch des europäischen Protestantismus. Die Ehe ist für ihn, der zusammen mit Anna Adlischwyler elf Kinder hatte, die einzige menschliche Einrichtung, die schon im Paradies bestanden hat, und mit Paulus ist sie die wirksamste Abhilfe gegen Unzucht. Der Mann sei das Haupt der Familie, wie Christus das Haupt der Kirche ist – Aufopferung inklusive. Klare Vorstellungen hatte er zur Rollenteilung:

«Was ausserhalb des Hauses ausgeführt werden muss, wie reisen, dem Erwerb nachgehen und Geschäfte erledigen, kaufen und verkaufen und dergleichen rechtmässige Dinge, ist die Aufgabe des Mannes. Er soll wie ein fleissiger Vogel hin und her fliegen, die Nahrung und die notwendigen Dinge sammeln und unermüdlich zum Nest tragen. Alles, was auf diese Weise ins Haus gebracht wird, soll die Frau sammeln und versorgen, nichts verderben lassen und alles, was im Haus zu tun ist, unermüdlich und unverzagt erledigen.»

For the Lovers of Books

Over at T&T Clark you’ll read, in part,

We are delighted to announce the following titles from our backlist are now newly available in paperback, as part of our print on demand programme.

Then follow some useful titles.  Like this one-

6a00e54ef86de98834017eea229c5d970d-120wiJudah Between East and West, edited by Lester L. Grabbe and Oded Lipschits.  This is a collection of essays examining the period of transition between Persian and Greek rule of Judah, ca. 400-200 BCE. Subjects covered include the archaeology of Maresha/Marisa, Jewish identity, Hellenization/Hellenism, Ptolemaic administration in Judah, biblical and Jewish literature of the early Greek period, the size and status of Jerusalem, the Samaritans in the transition period, and Greek foundations in Palestine.

First, Second, Third: An Observation

When writing, please do follow this simple rule:  if you use the word ‘first’ to kick off a listing, don’t continue it with ‘secondly’ and then ‘thirdly’ and ‘fourthly’, etc.  Stick with ‘first’, ‘second’, ‘third’, etc.

Or, if you must -ly then be sure to -ly from the very start.  It causes me great pain to see them mixed.  For my sake.  For the love of all that’s holy.  Please- be consistent.  Else you might, firstly, kill me with an aneurysm, and secondly, cause my heart to explode, and thirdly, be my death.

Words Matter

I got this flyer in the email a bit ago and it serves as the occasion for the present post wherein I would simply like to remind theologians and biblical scholars that words matter.  And choice of words, especially in biblical studies and theological volumes really matter- because poor word choice communicates poor half-truths.

words

The problem here is that in calling for a ‘new breed’ of minister to ‘take the helm of our churches’, Root (or his copy editor/publicist) is making a statement that is theologically inappropriate and misleading.

Pastors are not charged to ‘take the helm’ of the Church – as that implies that it is they who chart the course, give the orders, and set the agenda.  None of those are true.  Christ is the head of the Church and Pastors take their orders from him.  Christ takes the helm, and, at best, Pastors are the ‘first mate’ (to continue use of the metaphor).

The problem with Root’s (or whoever’s) statement is that it lends itself to the ‘CEO’ mentality too widespread among Pastors as it is.  Many Pastors actually believe themselves to be corporate heads and their churches are treated like little corporations (or big ones, if they are at a ‘mega church’).  That may be the popular conception of what ‘ministry’ is but it is NOT the biblical conception of ministry and there’s not a shred of evidence in the Bible (particularly the New Testament) that it should be.

Rather, in the New Testament leadership is servanthood.  ‘Taking’ the ‘helm’ is the furthest thing from that.  That means that Root’s wish that Ministry be more ‘incarnational’ (whatever that catchphrase means these days) is directly in conflict with his call to Pastors that they ‘take the helm’ – as one cannot be simultaneously ‘incarnational’ and ‘in charge’.

Naturally, I have no intention of criticizing Root’s book.  I haven’t read it (and won’t, as it simply doesn’t sound interesting to me).  My intention here is merely and simply to point out that words matter and our choice of words as theologians can either lead or mislead.  And while it remains true that you ‘can’t tell a book by its cover’, or for that matter its cover blurb, you can tell a lot about the care with which it is formulated.

The Church of England has ruled out providing public blessings to same-sex marriages in a new report

The BBC reports

The Church of England has ruled out providing public blessings to same-sex marriages in a new report. The move follows the outgoing Bishop of Liverpool Right Reverend James Jones’s questioning of whether the church should maintain its stance.  The Bishop of Coventry Dr Christopher Cocksworth, one report author, said “public forms of blessing belong to marriage alone”.  The church did acknowledge the need for flexibility in dealing with the issue.  The report from the Faith and Order Commission, a body formed of bishops, clergy and laity which advises the church on matters of doctrine, reiterated its definition of marriage as: “A faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman.”

Brilliant.

Fun Facts from Church History: Calvin Wasn’t Exactly Beloved in Geneva

calvin_youngTHE enemies of Calvin left nothing untried to injure or afflict him: he was exposed to insult, not only in the council, but in the open street. He says, in reference to this period, that he expected to be killed; and had his enemies succeeded, this would in all probability have been the case. Beza observes, among other things, that they gave the name of Calvin to their dogs; others converted it into Cain, the fratricide, in allusion to the execution of Gruet.

But he allowed nothing to rob him of his courage or his peace: he says to Viret, “I awaited tranquilly what my enemies might do; they tried every means to overthrow me; but, on the one side, I would take no notice of their insults; and, on the other, I let them understand that I regarded all their machinations with contempt. Had they discovered a single indication of fear in me, they would have supposed they had conquered. There is certainly nothing better calculated to disappoint their aim, or to encourage the good to persevere, than my resolution.”*

I guess even Calvin wasn’t as popular as I am… Or maybe, he was more popular. Some days it’s hard to tell, right Bob?  Right Little Honey Tee Tee?  Right Alan?

____________________
*Henry, P., & Stebbing, H. (1851). The Life and Times of John Calvin, the Great Reformer Volume 2 (69–70). New York: Robert Carter & Brothers.

Once More, On The Invitation to Become a ‘Friend of ASOR’

Dear friend of the ancient world,

As executive director of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), I am pleased to introduce you to The Ancient Near East Today, the monthly e-newsletter of the Friends of ASOR. The ANE Today (edited by Dr. Alex Joffe and the ASOR staff) is a new platform to disseminate ideas, insights and discoveries from the eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Biblical World to Friends of ASOR. Click here to see a copy of the first issue (April 2013).

Founded in 1900 as the premier scholarly society for those working in the eastern Mediterranean, ASOR is today an international organization that supports and encourages the study of the peoples and cultures of the Near East, from the earliest times to the present. 113 years after our founding, ASOR has started an outreach initiative that you can join for free—Friends of ASOR. We invite you to travel with us to explore the ancient world of the Near East.

  • What is the connection between the past and the present?
  • How is the archaeology of the ancient Near East relevant in the contemporary world?
  • What is the latest in the field of Biblical and Near Eastern Archaeology?
The ANE Today answers these questions every month. The e-newsletter features links to invited contributions that are posted on the ASOR Blog, a forum featuring debates over current issues and interpretations, and links to news, discoveries, and resources. The ANE Today covers the entire Near East, and each issue will present discussions ranging from the state of biblical archaeology to archaeology after the Arab Spring. Sign up today for free.
If you would like more information, click here for a welcome message to the first issue. Click here to see a copy of the first issue. Please also consider forwarding this email to a friend so that they can experience the ANE Today for free a well.
Faithfully,
Andy Vaughn, Ph.D.
ASOR Executive Director