Daily Archives: 11 Nov 2014

Well Maybe Not, Bucer… Candida Moss on the Absurdity of the Latest Jesus Book

Candida writes here

A new book claims that a lost manuscript proves that Jesus was married to the prostitute Mary Magdalene and had two children. “I swear I’ve read this story,” you say, checking the date on this article. And indeed you have. The Jesus-was-married theory made famous by and forever associated with Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code has resurfaced in scholarly garb numerous times in the past 10 years. And each time a media firestorm ensues. Mary Magdalene, we just can’t quit you.

I can… And then C. observes

In the meantime, much of the book is already available online, and scholarly criticism has already started to trickle in. If it seems unfair to criticize a book that isn’t out yet, bear in mind that the “lost Gospel” on which the book is based isn’t actually lost. The manuscript is attributed to the Christian writer Zacharias Rhetor and, according to Jacobovici and Wilson, it preserves the untold love story between Jesus and Mary and the shocking revelation that they had two children. Not mentioned: whether Jesus took out the trash or Mary Magdalene stopped making an effort after the second kid was born and Jesus started spending all his time with his guy friends.

And finally

There’s just one small problem with the Jacobovici-Wilson theory. Jesus and Mary are nowhere mentioned in the manuscript. It’s one version of a well-known ancient novel called Joseph and Aseneth, which discusses the life and times of the biblical patriarch Joseph (of technicolor-dreamcoat fame) and his relationship with Aseneth, the Egyptian woman he marries in Genesis 41:45.

I wish non-scholars would stop talking about the bible and archaeology and theology in public. They get it all so wrong so much of the time that it’s just exhausting having to set the record straight.

If they want to meet in their mom’s basement and discuss their earth shattering idiotic theories who cares. Just quit the public displays of ignorance and stop spewing misinformation. And I really wish the media and publishers would stop producing the rubbish. It’s time for them to act intelligently and not from a profit motive or greed. Mmmkay?

It’s Bucer’s Birthday So He Gets the Last Word…

From his letter to the reader of his translation (along with various others) of the Psalms, in 1526:

James McGrath and … Paul Giamatti

And another from the *wicked* folk at ‘Amazing Lookalike’.

Amazing Lookalike!


On the left is Professor James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, Indianapolis. On the right is Paul Giamatti, the star of films such as American Splendor and Cinderella Man.

We wonder if, by some chance, they might be related?

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OK, Wow, You Can Also Access All your Scheduling Info Online At the Web Portal for #SBLaar14

Thanks to @sblsite and Bryan Bibb for this bit of very useful information– just log in and schedule and all the other stuff you want to do and it will also be on your mobile devices, automatically synced!


Charlie Rangel, If ‘White Cracker’ is a Term of Endearment, So is the ‘N’ Word

Imagine a world wherein a white politician stood up and said ‘I only used the N word because I thought it was a term of endearment…’  Can you imagine the fallout?

Well the same outrage should be expressed now, for this:

New York Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel sat down for a wide-ranging interview with Huffington Post Live, during which he defended his earlier use of the term ‘white crackers’ as a “term of endearment.”

Rangel began by standing by his earlier comments that the Southern GOP believes that “slavery isn’t over,” and that they won the Civil War. ”Take a look and see, what are the symbols that the majority of slave-holding states, if they identify with the tea party, and if they do, where are the warriors of the Civil War, the Confederates?” he said, “They’re all over these states and even today are denying it!”

But host Marc Lamont Hill then pushed Rangel on comments he made in 2013, calling the Tea Party “white crackers.” ”I thought that was a term of endearment,” he explained.

Even Hill laughed out loud at that. “You thought ‘cracker’ was a term of endearment?”

Rangel then preceded to give perhaps the most backhanded apology of all time: “They’re so proud of their heritage and all the things they believe in. I can tell you this: with all of the feelings I have against the people, that have been against justice, fair play and equality, and the freedoms as we know it. If I offended them for calling them a ‘white cracker,’ I apologize. For the rest of it, there’s a lot that has to be done here.”

Term of endearment… Where’s Al Sharpton when you need him, trumpeting equality and fairness…  [Politicians… they’re the worst human beings on the planet.  Politicians = depravity].

Ben Witherington III and … Elton John

Here’s the first in a new series of scarily similar scholars and celebs!

Amazing Lookalike!


On the left is Ben Witherington III, Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. On the right is English singer-songwriter Sir Elton John.

We wonder if, by some chance, they might be related?

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Everything That’s Wrong With America In One Story

I saw this (thanks to Chip Hardy on the twitter) and was gobsmacked.

The only thing bigger than high-school football in Texas is the caricature of high-school football in Texas that persists everywhere else. And so, as the dust settles from an election that featured ballot measures to bar Sharia law in Alabama and permit the use of sugary bait to hunt bears in Maine, it should come as little surprise that voters in the southeast corner of the Lone Star State decided to splurge on a $58 million high-school football stadium.

Part of a massive $748 million bond, the new stadium in Katy, Texas, is actually a scaled-down version of a previous stadium plan. Last year, the same voters rejected a proposal in which a new stadium comprised the lion’s share ($69.5 million) of a $99 million bond. You’re not reading that wrong. A $70 million high-school football stadium. The approved, slightly more modest stadium will seat 12,000 people instead of 14,000 for about $12 million less.

And there you have it.  Everything that’s wrong with America in a nutshell: 1) screwed up priorities; 2) worship of sports; and 3) Texas.

Using the #SBLaar14 App to Find People

There’s a bit of a difference between previous incarnations of the annual meeting App and this one which has resulted in someone asking for a bit of help.  Mind you, I’m not associated with the app or the SBL hierarchy- but since I have been asked, here’s a few steps to conducting a search if you wish to.  All the screenshots below are from my iPad.  iPhone search works exactly the same way.

So, if you’re looking for someone, the first thing you’ll want to do is open the app and touch the ‘find people’ tab on the left side.

Then, type their name in the field which has ‘last name’ (or if you want to find a particular topic, type that in the appropriate field) and then at the bottom of the page you’ll see ‘reset’ ‘search’ and ‘everyone’.



Select search and the person (or subject) you seek will appear.  I selected Brenner


After touching ‘search’ here are the results:


And there you have it.  Happy searching.


Have You Ever Wondered Why The Biblical Scholars You Love Look So Strangely Familiar?

Have you ever had the sense, as you wander the halls during SBL, why those faces look so familiar? It’s because you have seen them before! And now, thanks be, there’s a blog that’s going to track down those twins of biblical scholarship superstars and set them side by side- at the newly constructed and shortly commencing called Amazing Lookalike!

Bookmark it.

[NB- No, it isn’t mine and no, I can’t tell you the names of those involved.  I have only just now received a tip from a confidential informant (who stopped doing something illegal just long enough to send a note) about it and wanted to pass along the scintillating news.]

The Latest on the #SBLaar14 Annual Meeting App

I’ve just gotten an email from SBL with my username and password for the Annual Meeting App.  I logged in without any problems and now the app seems to be absolutely FULLY functional (though to be fair I haven’t investigated every corner of it yet).

New this year, and so very important to notice, is the necessity of logging in in order to utilize all the app’s features.  So when the email comes to you (and I’m presuming you need to be registered for the meeting), don’t toss it.

And if you haven’t gotten it, it might be worth your time to check your spam filter.

Happy planning, and thanks to the folk at SBL for working so hard the past few weeks to get this functional.

It’s. A. Miracle!

To prove to the doubters that miracles really do happen- I offer this utterly irrefutable evidence.  Behold!



So, in recognition of this certifiable miracle, you should do what Brian recommends.

Joel Watts Takes Mocking Pseudo-Scholarship to the Next Level

He’s put together a bingo card for you to use when Simcha presents his book at the British Museum (how can I ever go there again without feeling like they’ve betrayed everything they stand for?) tomorrow.  Go to Joel’s for all the rules.


Joseph Smith Only Had 40 Wives… Solomon had 700… Plus 300 Concubines…

So who’s the real ‘playa!’

The Mormon founder Joseph Smith married as many as 40 women, including a 14-year-old girl, church leaders have acknowledged for the first time in a surprising revelation about their most important prophet.  Although the Mormon church was closely associated with polygamy during its first decades, its teachings had previously portrayed Smith as happily married to one woman.  The reality was apparently very different from that monogamous picture. And with increasing speculation circulating on the internet about his marital history, the Church hierarchy has revealed Smith as a prolific polygamist via an essay posted on its website.  The disclosure shocked many Mormons raised on stories of the life of Smith, the young farmworker and treasure hunter who in the late 1820s discovered inscribed golden plates, the Book of Mormon, buried in upstate New York.

40 wives… good grief.  How can you afford all the birthday and Christmas gifts with that many wives?  How do you even remember their names?  I think it was Ben Sira who said ‘many wives make for many sorrows’ (and if he didn’t he should have).

Poor guy.  Poor Solomon too…  How did they… I just… It….

Call for Papers: Radical Interpretations of the Bible

Looks like an interesting project.

Seven Common Misconceptions About the Hebrew Bible

There’s a great post of that title over at the Oxford University Press blog.  #6 is particularly noteworthy.

6. The Bible is history.

The modern concept of history, judged by whether or not it gets the facts right, is by and large a modern conception. In the past, all peoples told stories set in the past for a variety of reasons, e.g. to entertain, to enlighten, but rarely to recreate what actually happened. Archaeologists have uncovered many cases where the biblical account disagrees with the archaeological account, or with what we might know from other ancient Near Eastern texts.

Go over to the Oxford blog and read the rest.  It’s a smart post.

The Bucer / Zwingli Correspondence

The two reformers kept up a lively correspondence from 1521 till at least 1528.  24 letters in all between them have survived:

Well You Won’t Find My Stuff in the Bargain Bin

I hadn’t even noticed this till Ralph Keen pointed it out…  Must be a signed copy or something.  Seems to me you might want to buy a new copy before it’s no longer available…


Take THAT Eric Cline!!!!!

#YPNSI – Zwingli Had a Fantastic Sense of Humor

zhBack in 2007 Edwin Mellen published my translation of a little book by Fritz Schmidt-Clausing.  You Probably Never Saw It (#YPNSI) – but since Jon Balserak provoked me to think about Zwingli this morning (I’m easily provoked in that direction) – I thought I would mention it so that you can pick up a copy for someone you love.

Schmidt-Clausing’s book is good- and my translation has received very, very positive feedback.  For instance-

“The world of learning is fortunately indivisible. As Director of the Institute for Swiss Reformation History at the University of Zurich I’m glad to congratulate Dr. Jim West who, on the other side of the Atlantic, has taken the initiative to republish and translate Fritz Schmidt-Clausing’s booklet on Zwingli’s Humor. I find in it authentic light as I peer among the shadows which hide the past from us.” – Dr. Emidio Campi, Director of the Institute for Swiss Reformation History , Professor of Church History, University of Zurich


“Zwingli, with the Bible in one hand and the sword in the other – this caricature from the 19th century is still popular. [This book] presents us with another side of the Swiss reformer: Zwingli the linguistically skilled humanist, the speaker, who is familiar with the language of the common people, the satirist, and a man who is able to laugh at himself. It is the merit of Dr. Jim West’s re-edition and translation of a forgotten book, by which we are reminded of this important characteristic of a father of the Reformed tradition. But more than that, Zwingli’s humor is rooted in his faith: ‘I laugh because of a certain, unfailing confidence in God and his truth.’ This kind of humor is always needed.” – Dr. Peter Opitz, Institute for Swiss Reformation History, Professor of Church History, University of Zurich

And this review in Zwingliana.

Sure, you’ve probably never seen it.  But you should.  Not because of me.  But because of Schmidt-Clausing.

A Nifty Little Celebratory Volume on the 400th Anniversary of Bucer’s Birth

Zur 400 jährigen [i.e. vierhundertjährigen] Geburtsfeier Martin Butzer’s (J. H. Ed. Heitz, 1891).  Enjoy!


Swords Into Plowshares, Or Plowshares Into Swords?

durerMicah famously wrote

They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war any more (Mic 4:3).

Later, Joel did not so famously write,

Proclaim this among the nations: “Prepare for war! Wake up the mighty men, Let all the men of war draw near, Let them come up.  Beat your plowshares into swords And your pruning hooks into spears; Let the weak say,`I am strong.'”  Assemble and come, all you nations, And gather together all around. Cause Your mighty ones to go down there, O LORD  (Joel 3:9-11).

As a species, we’ve listened to Joel’s message and used a lot of- and continue to use a lot of our resources in war.  Maybe it’s time to give heed to Micah, since Joel’s hasn’t really helped us very much.