American Foreign Policy Strikes Again: The Law of Unintended Consequences

Mosul has been emptied of Christians.  The deposing of Saddam Hussein resulted not only in decades of war and sectarian strife, but that sectarian strife has now resulted in the forced expulsion of Christians from their millenia long home.

Iraq- that fractious ‘country’- had a tyrant for a leader in Hussein.  A wicked dreadful man who seemed to be the only type of person capable of keeping a lid on the intransigent hatred born in the hearts of sectarians.

The US, in its infinite foreign policy foolishness removed one tyrant and opened the door for 10,000 worse.  Nice work, US, nice work…

Christians were fleeing Iraq’s jihadist-held city of Mosul en masse Friday after mosques relayed an ultimatum giving them a few hours to leave, the country’s Chaldean patriarch and witnesses said.  “Christian families are on their way to Dohuk and Arbil,” in the neighboring autonomous region of Kurdistan, Patriarch Louis Sako told AFP. “For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians.”

History is going to judge the US quite harshly I think.  In 3000 years, when historians talk about our time, they will scorn us.  Or rather, they will despise our witless and thoughtless incredibly incompetent and historically blind politicians.  Justly so.

Nauseating Anthropocentric Pseudo Theology- American Style

From J. Merritt- (who, along with Nina Burleigh, is a journalist who actually has earned my respect for his religion coverage)

A message on a kids’ ministry wall. And we wonder why American Christians have messed up theology?!   


Hey kids, no you aren’t.  The universe doesn’t rotate around you- and neither does Jesus.  Just in case your parents and pastors have lied to you and told you otherwise.


Police say a Daytona Beach father beat an 18-year-old man unconscious after finding him sexually abusing his 11-year-old son.  The father has not been charged with any crime. Do you think he should be?


To which I answer- nope.  Defending the defenseless is a moral duty.  Especially for a father when his child is being violated and abused.  Being beaten unconscious… that’s the least that should happen to a child molester.  The least.  [And, I know, so don’t bother writing, I’ve made my left leaning friends mad.  Can’t apologize.]


In Spite of all Our Technological Advancements…

It’s still easier to put a BHS on the desk and a LXX next to it and open them to the same passages to compare them than it is to fight with computer software until it yields the same thing.  Saving time often means opening primary sources the old fashioned way and not bothering with high tech at all.

Books are better in print.

Total time- 13 seconds. From shelf to side by side comparison.


Just Because the Media Calls Someone an ‘Evangelical’ Doesn’t Make it So

Stop taking the media’s word for things, please, and especially when it’s declared through journalists who don’t really understand the Bible, theology, or religious studies.  They don’t know what they’re talking about.  They don’t even know what the terms they use really mean.

This is proven by the fact that the media regularly refers to Rob Bell, heretic, as an Evangelical.  HA!

This very fine essay makes the point.  Quoting this snippet

For the past 20 or 30 years, [“evangelical”] has designated nearly any Christian believer, Protestant or Catholic, who feels strongly about his or her faith. Which is to say that it’s not a very helpful word. Indeed, many evangelicals, or rather people who might otherwise be known as evangelicals, have long since disavowed the term. Steven Miller in “The Age of Evangelicalism: America’s Born-Again Years” doesn’t work very hard to define it; he says only (in a parenthetical aside) that evangelicalism is “the label commonly given to the public expression of born-again Christianity.” That definition is at once too narrow and too broad. It’s too narrow because it deals only with “public expression”—that is, politics—as if evangelicalism were primarily a political creed. And it’s too broad in that it conflates people who want nothing to do with one another. What, other than perhaps a rough similarity in voting patterns, do followers of the mega-church Texas pastor Joel Osteen have to do with members of the primarily northeastern Orthodox Presbyterian Church? Not much.

And then concluding

I know that some readers will bristle at efforts to draw boundaries for who’s in, and who’s out, as an evangelical. But if the term is going to have any utility, “evangelical” must mean more than those the media designates as serious Christians.

Because the media… well, you know.  ‘Getting stuff wrong about the Bible since the invention of CNN’.

Candida Moss on The Invention of Voluntary Martyrdom in Early Christianity

Candida has been muzzled? I can’t believe that will last! 😉

Biblical Studies Online


An iTune audio recording is available for Prof Candida Moss’s lecture, “The Invention of Voluntary Martyrdom in Early Christianity”, part of the Dean’s Lecture Series at Candler School of Theology, Nov 9, 2011.

Candida Moss is Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins in the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame.

h/t: Jim West

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Carnival Call Reminder

The Carnival will go live on 1 August at shortly after midnight.  This month it’s all about books.  New books, book reviews, etc.  If you’ve reviewed a book on your biblioblog or theoblog or have read a review or book notice, I’d be grateful if you would pass it along.  With thanks, in advance.

What Lies in Hiding From Qeiyafa?

Brian Colless writes on ANE-2

I have now been told that there is indeed a seven-letter inscription on a pot, hiding in the bushes, biding its time, either waiting to pounce, or hoping we will forget about it.

Is there something about it that would frighten the horses?

Maybe it has the same inscription as the Jerusalem Pithos fragments.

Or it is a LMLK inscription that actually names the king, and it is not David?

Perhaps it supports Israel Finkelstein’s resurrecting of King Saul, and his raising of his Low Chronology (in The Forgotten Kingdom), and possibly it affects Yosef Garfinkel’s version of the High Chronology, which puts Khirbet Qeiyafa (plausibly identified with Sha`arayim) in the time of King David.

Sha`arayim is listed among the towns of the tribe of Judah in Joshua 15:36, and so is Ekron (15.45; 13.3 has Ekron as one of the 5 Philistine cities, including Gath).

This fortress was certainly a surprise, as there is no hint of it in 1 Samuel 17, where we would be led to assume that King Saul had a tent, like the rest of his army.

My thought is that the settlement (Khirbet Qeiyafa = Sha`arayim) was built by King Saul to protect the road that ran to Gath (cp. 1 Sam 17:52, where the Philistines were pursued along the way from Sha`arayim to Gath and Ekron), and it was destroyed when the Philistines overthrew Saul (1 Sam 31). Thus it was not in existence during the reign of David.

I have constructed this hypothesis on the basis of what I think I can see in the text of the Qeiyafa Ostracon, but my reading has been judged to be as hypothetical as all the other attempts. I also have to relate it to this neo-syllabary concept I have recently stumbled on, or over. I want to see whether the other Qeiyafa inscription can assist in testing my hypothesis, that the alphabetic letters had three syllabic forms at this time. So it is not ready for publication in a concrete setting, just work in progress on the web.

So what is the second inscription?

Das Karlstadt-Bild in der Forschung

153175_a587cd3c42MARTIN KESSLER- Das Karlstadt-Bild in der Forschung

Andreas Bodenstein von Karlstadt (1486-1541) war der erste Wittenberger Kollege Martin Luthers, der akademisch und publizistisch für diesen eintrat. Zugleich war er der erste, der sich mit ihm überwarf. Entsprechend ambivalent wird seit jeher Karlstadts Bedeutung für die Reformation bestimmt. War er bei manchen der prototypische Verräter an der reformatorischen Einheit, wurde er bei anderen zur Identifikationsfigur für reformierte, kongregationalistische oder täuferische Elemente in der frühen Wittenberger Reformation. Martin Keßler unterstreicht die Dringlichkeit einer grundlegenden Revision des Karlstadt-Bildes, indem er die wesentlichen Beiträge zu Karlstadt seit dem 17. Jahrhundert schildert und die Hauptentwicklungen der historischen und theologischen Forschung des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts untersucht.

Another interesting sounding volume!

Jesus Christus

Jesus Christus – Hrsg. v. Jens Schröter

In this volume the person and activity of Jesus is presented from the perspective of different theological disciplines. The background of Jesus’ activity in Old Testament writings is considered as is the relationship of his earthly career and the emergence of Christian faith. Developments in church history, caused by the earliest accounts of Jesus’ life and teaching, are outlined. From a systematic viewpoint the new relationship to God, effected by Jesus Christ, is reflected on. The contribution from practical theology looks at forms of adaption of Jesus’ person and teaching in ecclesiastical and social contexts. Finally, the role of Jesus in other religions is considered. Thus the volume presents the person of Jesus Christ as the centre of Christian faith according to the current status of research and does so in a manner which makes him accessible also for those not accustomed to theological terminology and discourse.

Sounds great.  And the author is no slouch.  [Can you tell that the Mohr Siebeck catalog arrived today?]

The Text of Galatians and its History

153323_19dd9a7923Stephen C. Carlson investigates the text of Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians and analyses how that text changed over the course of its transmission in manuscript copies over several centuries. For this study, he collated ninety-two textual witnesses of Galatians and arranged them into a genealogical family tree called a stemma codicum , with assistance from a computer-implemented method used in computational biology known as cladistics . Using this global stemma, he establishes a critical text for the epistle and assesses the nature of the textual variations that occurred throughout the text’s history of transmission in over 250 significant variant readings, paying particular attention to possible theological motivations. This is the first study to produce a global stemma of any kind for a New Testament book, an accomplishment that was previously thought to be unfeasible.

Hmmm… the name of the author rings a bell…  Congrats, Stephen, your forthcoming JCB Mohr volume looks impressive.

You Can’t Require Artists to Create Something They Don’t Want To

The tale of the baker ordered to bake a cake for a gay wedding is in the news again. The report is here and the best bit is this-

Americans should not be forced by the government—or by another citizen—to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said lead counsel Nicolle Martin. “This is not about the people who asked for a cake; it’s about the message the cake communicates. Just as Jack doesn’t create baked works of art for other events with which he disagrees, he doesn’t create cake art for same-sex ceremonies regardless of who walks in the door to place the order.”

“In America, we don’t force artists to create expression that is contrary to their convictions,” added ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “A paint artist who identifies as homosexual shouldn’t be intimidated into creating a painting that celebrates one-man, one-woman marriage. A pro-life photographer shouldn’t be forced to work a pro-abortion rally. And Christian cake artists shouldn’t be punished for declining to participate in a same-sex ceremony or promote its message.”

Can’t argue with that argument.

The Gospel According to the Other Mary: The Opera

I love opera.  Its themes are always so utterly unrealistic.  That’s what makes them fun.

Director Peter Sellars returns to ENO for what will undoubtedly be one of the most significant events in London’s contemporary music season: the world stage premiere of John Adams’s latest dramatic work, The Gospel According to the Other Mary. ENO enjoys a unique association with Adams, having staged all three of his major operas, most recently The Death of Klinghoffer in 2012.

Using a text fashioned by Sellars from Biblical sources as well as several 20th-century writers (including Primo Levi), leading US composer Adams has created what Sellars describes as an attempt to ‘set the Passion story in the eternal present, in the tradition of sacred art’. The Gospel According to the Other Mary is an interpretation of the Resurrection from the perspective of two women close to Jesus (Mary Magdalene and Martha), in which the narrative switches between the Biblical past and the worldly present, drawing parallels between Christ’s Passion and contemporary events such as the Arab Spring.

Because the many ‘fragments’ of Gospels by Mary or about her are just as imaginative as Opera!