Daily Archives: 23 Apr 2013

Diarmaid MacCulloch- Silence

MacCulloch’s new book is reviewed in The Guardian:

Diarmaid MacCulloch charts this [i.e., the ‘silence’ of the people of God] problematic and often contradictory relationship with aplomb in Silence: A Christian History. Expanded from his Gifford lectures, it is, as one might expect of the author of A History of Christianity and Reformation, intellectually robust, and without the prevarications and self-qualifications that sometimes stymie academic prose. Indeed, MacCulloch is by turns precise, poetic and righteously indignant. In the introduction, for example, deploying a judicious use of understatement, he writes: “Those who have a particular reverence for the Church in communion with the Holy See will no doubt feel that I have been unduly hard on it. If they do, my regrets are not very fulsome.”

MacCulloch divides his inquiry into four stages. First he discusses the depiction of silence in the Bible – in the Tanakh, with its insistence on the dumbness of idols, and in the New Testament, culminating in the very odd reference in Revelation when, at the opening of the seventh seal, there is silence in heaven “for about half an hour”. It also examines the competing claims for the role of sound in worship, with speaking in tongues and reverential silence occupying opposed positions. The second chapter covers the rise of monasticism, making a bold claim for the continuing influence of the mystical writings once attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite.

It sounds fantastic.  Read the rest of the review.  The book is already available in Britain but it won’t come out here until September.  Which is, I have to say, a bummer.  I don’t understand why such delays are necessary or even reasonable.

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Posted by on 23 Apr 2013 in Church History


Pandering, Brooklyn Style

No, Jesus wasn’t a hipster.  And no, you can’t suggest that if he were around in the flesh today he would be.  Jesus was Jesus and if he were walking the streets of Brooklyn he would be whoever he wanted to be, so, Catholic Church, stop pandering to the silly just to draw them in.

Would a modern-day Jesus be the kind of guy who might enjoy wearing thick-rimmed glasses without the lenses and listening to great bands long before you or anyone else thought they were cool?

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn — of course — is suggesting that Christ might just have been that type with its new campaign declaring Jesus “the original hipster.”

The message behind the advertisement, which features a person representing Jesus in a long white robe with a pair of red Converse sneakers peeping out, quickly became a source of fascination for the media.

Making Jesus into your image, or an image you want him to be, is as inappropriate as all those ridiculous 19th century ‘Lives of Jesus’ whose authors looked down into the well and saw their own reflections.  Even worse, you only make him into a caricature.  And that’s just wrong.

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Posted by on 23 Apr 2013 in pseudo-christianity, pseudo-theology


Fun Facts From Church History: Calvin’s Expulsion From Geneva

calv67In 1538 Calvin and Farel were summarily ordered to remove themselves from Geneva.  And the council decreed that they…

… were condemned to leave … in three days. When the decision of the people was made known to Calvin, he replied with dignity, “Had I been the servant of man I should have received but poor wages; but happy for me it is that I am the servant of Him who never fails to give his servants that which He has promised them.”

In the protocol issued April 23, the words which Farel and Calvin uttered on this occasion are recorded to their honor: they must have inspired even their enemies with a feeling of respect:—“Let it be: it is better to serve God than man!”*

Calvin was, frankly, glad to be gone.  He loathed Geneva.  When he was summoned back years later the hardest decision he ever had to make was to return to that gutter.  He was, for all intents and purposes, coerced into it.  Or perhaps even manipulated into it.  However I suppose Calvin would have been Calvin had he been in Strassbourg or Geneva or Basel.

Of this Schaff laconically remarks

Calvin even rejoiced at the result more than seemed proper.

Not if he hated the city.  And he did.  Have I mentioned that Calvin hated the city?  Oh he hated it.  But naturally the sows of Geneva threw a party when Calvin left.

The people celebrated the downfall of the clerical régime with public rejoicings. The decrees of the synod of Lausanne were published by sound of trumpets. The baptismal fonts were re-erected, and the communion administered on the following Sunday with unleavened bread.

So Calvin went East.

The deposed ministers went to Bern, but found little sympathy. They proceeded to Zürich, where a general synod was held, and were kindly received. They admitted that they had been too rigid, and consented to the restoration of the baptismal fonts, the unleavened bread (provided the bread was broken), and the four Church festivals observed in Bern; but they insisted on the introduction of discipline, the division of the Church into parishes, the more frequent administration of the communion, the singing of Psalms in public worship, and the exercise of discipline by joint committees of laymen and ministers.

Oh come now.  They weren’t at all too rigid.  Rigid would be the response to Servetus.  But by that time Calvin was the unquestioned theological authority of the place and no one was silly enough to raise a hand in opposition.  Not publicly anyway.

*P.Henry, & H. Stebbing, The Life and Times of John Calvin, the Great Reformer Volume 1 (p. 128).

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Posted by on 23 Apr 2013 in Calvin, Church History


Mauro Pesce- “Riflessioni sulla natura storica e culturale delle sacre scritture giudaiche”

Prof. Pesce’s essay appears in Revue Biblique, 2012, number 4.  It’s titled Riflessioni sulla natura storica e culturale delle sacre scritture giudaiche and it begins

Mauro-Pesce-ed-Adriana-Destro-300x200Quale sia la natura storica e culturale del corpus delle sacre scritture giudaiche è questione che la storiografia, la storia delle religioni e le scienze sociali sembrano avere già da tempo determinato: si tratta di un corpus di scritti prodotti in ambito giudaico, che vanno compresi secondo le categorie che hanno presieduto alla loro produzione e che sono quelle delle culture giudaiche del tempo.

Oggi si cerca di ricostruire quel significato storico e culturale giudaico in base alle conoscenze che le scienze dell’antichità permettono e con i limiti che esse sempre comportano necessariamente. Da questo punto di vista, che è quello che interessa le scienze storiche e le scienze umane in genere, il corpus delle sacre scritture giudaiche non presenta problemi diversi da quelli che presentano i corpora degli scritti di Nag Hammadi o di Qumran o dei testi della grotta 17 di Dunhuang, o degli scritti platonici o di Aristotele. Si tratta di avere a disposizione edizioni critiche dei testi, conoscenze approfondite delle lingue in cui sono stati scritti e del contesto storico e culturale in cui sono stati prodotti.

I thank him for sending a copy, which I’ll read just as soon as Bayern finishes off Barcelona…

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Posted by on 23 Apr 2013 in Biblical Studies Resources


For the Mega Church That Has ‘Everything’ (But God, of Course)

via Loyd Legalist on the twitter

via Loyd Legalist on the twitter

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Posted by on 23 Apr 2013 in Heresy and Heretics, mockery, Modern Culture


It’s True

Tota fere sapientiae nostrae summa, quae vera demum ac solida sapientia censeri debeat, duabus partibus constat, Dei cognitione et nostri.  — John Calvin

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Posted by on 23 Apr 2013 in Calvin, Theology


Conference Announcement: Christian Apocrypha

York University

The 2013 York Christian Apocrypha Symposium, “Forbidden Texts on the Western Frontier: The Christian Apocrypha in North American Perspectives,” will take place at York University September 26–28, 2013.  The event is organized by Tony Burke (York University) in consultation with Brent Landau (University of Oklahoma). It brings together 22 Canadian and U.S. scholars to share their work and discuss present and future collaborative projects.

Go to the link for more, and for registration forms if you’re so inclined.

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Posted by on 23 Apr 2013 in Biblical Studies Resources, Conferences


Something New from Finkelstein, Lipschits, and Sergi

I. Finkelstein, O. Lipschits and O. Sergi, Tell er-Rumeith in Northern Jordan: Some Archaeological and Historical Observations. Semitica 55 (2013): 7-23.

As it appears in Semitica, the abstract is in French, though the essay is in English-

Résumé. Cet article s’intéresse à Tell er-Rumeith en Jordanie septentrionale, l’un des sites identifiés à la ville biblique de Ramoth-de-Galaad. Le site préserve les vestiges d’un formidable fort des IXe–VIIIe siècles comprenant une colline artificielle surélevée, un fossé et un rempart extérieur. Il est situé sur une colline stratégique qui domine la voie royale menant d’Amman à Damas et la route allant d’ouest en est d’Irbid au désert. Après avoir décrit le site, nous nous pencherons sur son identification et son histoire à la lumière des conflits entre Israël et Aram-Damas.

Lay hands on it if you’re able.  It’s loaded with interesting material.

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Posted by on 23 Apr 2013 in Archaeology


600 Pounds of Explosives Found On Private Property Near a School…

This is about 7 miles from where I live:

Deputies locked down a local school and evacuated several homes in Morgan County Tuesday morning while officials worked to detonate several bombs found on private property.  On Saturday, Morgan County deputies responded to a home off of Fairview Road because several cars had caught fire on the property.

While battling the fire, they found an explosive device. After investigating further, they found three bombs containing a total of 600 lbs. of explosives. Officials with the Knox County Bomb Squad and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were called in to dispose of the bombs, as were military officials from Fort Campbell.  Deputies told 6 News Tuesday morning they planned to set off the bombs at their current location.

calvin-tweetOne never knows what one’s neighbors are up to, does one?   At such times I’m always reminded of Calvin’s remarks-

Human life is beset by innumerable evils, and threatened with a thousand deaths. Not to go beyond ourselves; since our body is the receptacle of a thousand diseases, and even contains and fosters the causes of diseases, a man must unavoidably carry about with him destruction in unnumbered forms, and protract a life which is as it were involved in death.

For what else can you say of it, when neither cold nor heat in any considerable degree can be endured without danger? Now whithersoever you turn, all the objects around you are not only unworthy of your confidence, but almost openly menace you, and seem to threaten immediate death. Embark in a ship; there is but a single step between you and death. Mount a horse; the slipping of one foot endangers your life. Walk through the streets of a city; you are liable to as many dangers as there are tiles on the roofs. If there be a sharp weapon in your hand, or that of your friend, the mischief is manifest. All the ferocious animals you see are armed for your destruction.

If you endeavour to shut yourself in a garden surrounded with a good fence, and exhibiting nothing but what is delightful, even there sometimes lurks a serpent. Your house perpetually liable to fire, menaces you by day with poverty, and by night with falling on your head. Your land, exposed to hail, frost, drought, and various tempests, threatens you with sterility, and with its attendant, famine.

I omit poison, treachery, robbery, and open violence, which partly beset us at home, and partly pursue us abroad. Amidst these difficulties, must not man be most miserable, who is half dead while he lives, and is dispirited and alarmed as though he had a sword perpetually applied to his neck?

You will say that these things happen seldom, or certainly not always, nor to every man, but never all at once. I grant it: but as we are admonished by the examples of others, that it is possible for them to happen also to us, and that we have no more claim to exemption from them than others, we must unavoidably dread them as events that we may expect.

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Posted by on 23 Apr 2013 in Calvin, misery, Modern Culture


It’s a Red Letter Day Down Here in these Parts…

I’ve just learned that Emperor Joseph (whom I thought was dead), Holy Roman Emperor… follows me on the twitter.  Yup- it’s a red letter day for sure.


This is almost as exciting as knowing that Steve Inskeep follows:


Now all I need to make life complete is to have @NPRGreene follow.  Come on David, you know it’s the right thing to do.  Look at the precedent!  A Holy Roman Emperor and Steve Inskeep!  Why are you holding out?  Hasn’t the bribe, um I mean the gift arrived?


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Posted by on 23 Apr 2013 in Modern Culture, twitter


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This is your reminder- you have interfered with our lives by sequestration and we are going to do the same to you at the polls.

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Posted by on 23 Apr 2013 in Modern Culture, Politics



Happy ‘World Day of the Book’ Day

schorchThe German Bible Society reminds us that

Heute ist der Welttag des Buches – Welches Buch soll es da sein?

My vote- of course- is the Bible.  Anyway, there’s lots of great stuff that has been published over the centuries so picking just one is tough. So just read them all.  Well not all of them.  Read the good ones.  Not the worthless ones.  If you need help deciding just let me know.

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Posted by on 23 Apr 2013 in Books