Monthly Archives: March 2015

Look Closely: Do You Know This Man?


Quote of the Day


Holy Week in a Painting

By Hans Memling-


Tim Cook is a Hypocrite, And So Is Apple

Tim Cook hates Indiana’s new #RFRA.  Lots of people do.  But lots of people don’t run companies that rake in BILLIONS of dollars in profit whilst paying slave labor wages to the people who make those products.  Tim doesn’t like discrimination, but his sliding corporate pay scale discriminates every single day.

Furthermore, Tim, and Apple, discriminate against the poor every day by pricing their products out of the reach of most citizens of the world and many Americans.  We all know that Apple could easily distribute, for free, an iPad to every kid in the third world and still have money left over for their stockholders to grovel for.

So, Tim, go ahead, continue to complain about discrimination.  The only people who don’t see the hypocrisy are those of like mind who are driven more by ideology than by compassion for those discriminated against.


The Marginalia Review of Book Hates Doug Boin’s Book

I’ve not read it so I have no idea whether or not it’s hateworthy.  I would note, though, that the steam its generated for Marginalia has been astounding– because no such outrage has been expressed publicly by these very concerned academics concerning the recent spate of misinformation about the Bible and Christianity on TV (for the Easter season).

It makes me wonder, frankly, why it’s ok for TV to distort the Bible and Church history but not ok for whatever it is Doug has done in his book.  Could it really be that bad?  Will it really reach more people than the bad tv shows will?

It’s almost like Doug is being treated as a persona non grata whilst Burnett and Downey and all the other tv hacks are hands off.

Why would that be?  Hmmm?  Personality cult much, academia?

Free For Kindle (In the UK)- The Moral Vision of the NT (Hays)

kinleIf you live in the UK, get this free (for now anyway).  Via Dirk Jongkind on the fb.

Der Majoristische Streit (1552–1570)

978-3-525-56016-7Are good works necessary for salvation, or, on the contrary, even detrimental to salvation? How important is deliberate ethical action for the Christian life? What should Christians do to avoid the danger that the message of justification by grace alone might lead to moral indifference?

Over such questions the so-called Majoristic Controversy evolved (1552-1570), which caused some unanticipated confrontations on the field of scholarly disputes among the followers of Luther and Melanchthon in the second half of the sixteenth century.

An echo of this dispute can be heard in the fourth article of the Formula of Concord.  In volume 3 of the edition  “Controversia et Confessio” readers find the most important texts produced during that controversy, by authors including Georg Major, Nikolaus von Amsdorf, Matthias Flacius, Stephan Agricola, and others.

Readers of the volume will need a fairly good grasp of the issues involved and so as far as online resources are concerned, this excerpt (and it’s quite long) from the Book of Concord provides all the information one might wish.  What the present volume provides, then, is the first hand, primary source documentation of the events and disputes as they unfolded and were played out between 1552 and 1570.  The table of contents, preface, and an excerpt of content are all available here in the V&R flipbook.

In a nutshell, do Christians perform good works in such a way as to contribute to their own salvation or do they do good works as a consequence of their salvation?  The issue, surprisingly, is not a dead one or merely a relic from past dry and dusty theological disputations.  It is alive and well and manifests itself in everything from the questions of those undergoing Confirmation to those who inhabit pews as well as seats in lecture halls.

Readers of this volume will be taken back in time and permitted to sit in on the discussions held between many of the leading theologians of the mid to late 16th century.  If this were a modern television special on the Bible, the talking heads appearing would be Georg Major (after whom the contention was named), Nikolaus von Amsdorf, Matthias Flacius Illyricus, Nikolaus Gallus, Stephen Agricola, Justus Menius, and various theological faculty statements along with several others.

One of the rallying cries of the Reformation was, as everyone knows, Ad Fontes.  What the editors here provide is precisely that- primary sources which ought to be taken into account by anyone researching the late 16th century theological landscape.  Each document is prefaced by a historical introduction along with a short description of the piece’s author and an overview of the contents.  Finally, before the primary text appears, the various editions in which it has appeared up to the present is provided.

The language of the documents is predominantly German (not modern, but 16th century).  Latin texts are also present, although in the minority.  Footnotes are abundant and there are even facsimiles of title pages scattered throughout the text.  There are also the usual end materials like a list of abbreviations and various indices.  Even Zwingli is mentioned.  At least once (and here only once).  Little more can be asked of any volume.

A sample:

An den Christlichen vnd gutigen Leser.

Christlicher vnd Gutiger Leser, wir zweiffeln nicht, das dir wol wird furkomen sein, wie das in der alten vnd loblichen Graffschafft Mansfelt sich ein widerwillen vnd zweispalt zugetragen hat zwischen den Predigern vnd Kirchendienern von wegen zweier reden, in dieser Landen Kirchen vngewonlich vnd vngebreuchlich sind der zeit des reinen Euangelij, welches rechten verstand vns Gott widerumb durch den wirdigen Herrn Doctorem Lutherum… (p. 361).

The debate unfolds and readers are left to decide for themselves whether they see things as Luther saw them or as Melanchthon did.  Remembering the statements of the Book of Concord

Though not personally mentioned and attacked by the opponents of Majorism, Melanchthon must be regarded as the real father also of this controversy. He was the first to introduce and to cultivate the phrase: “Good works are necessary to salvation.” In his Loci of 1535 he taught that, in the article of justification, good works are the causa sine qua non and are necessary to salvation, ad vitam aeternam, ad salutem.

While Luther had written

… in his Church Postil of 1521: “No, dear man, you [cannot earn heaven by your good works, but you] must have heaven and already be saved before you do good works.Works do not merit heaven, but, on the contrary, heaven, imparted by pure grace, does good works spontaneously, seeking no merit, but only the welfare of the neighbor and the glory of God.”

Who was right?  Who was wrong?  The book in hand explores every possible permutation of the issues and as a result gives supporters of either viewpoint enough ammunition to trade volleys with their opposites for a very long time.

At the end of the day, we can confidently say, salvation is by faith through grace; but knowledge of theology and church history are obtained only by work.  This book makes that work a pleasure, as there is nothing more pleasurable than reading primary sources.

There are Only Hours Left to Submit Your Carnival Post

Send it along.  You may be surprised and find it included…

Memory and Knowledge of Things Past

New in Bible and Interpretation.  It begins

By the late 1990s historians were growing wary of the turn toward memory among their ilk. In part, this reticence was predicated on what was perceived to be an overabundance of studies on memory that served to devalue the concept as an object of historical inquiry. But a more pressing problem was that historians who took an interest in memory, it was argued, lacked “critical reflection on method and theory,” resulting in historical investigations that had become “somewhat predictable” and vulnerable to the charge that it was a fad “governed by the fashion of the day” (Confino 1997: 1387; cf. Klein 2000: 127-30; Kansteiner 2002: 179-185).

It is safe to say that both the Hebrew Bible and the ancient history of the southern Levant are now experiencing their own “memory boom” (Winter 2001: 52-66) among historians and archaeologists alike. After a steady increase in the number of works that engaged the theme of memory during the decade that transpired from 2000 – 2010, 2014 witnessed no less than five volumes with memory found in their titles, and a substantial number of literary, historical, and archaeological articles from the year appealed to this topic in various forms. 2015 will find more publications devoted to this subject matter, this writer’s included.


Where Can I Find A Hat Like This?

Someone somewhere has to know…

Sad News: Harold Greenlee Has Died

This is very sad.

On 21 March, Jacob Harold Greenlee passed away at the age of 96. The following is an obituary written by his son, David Greenlee:

May 12, 1918 – March 21, 2015

Αὐτὸς δὲ ὁ θεὸς τῆς εἰρήνης ἁγιάσαι ὑμᾶς ὁλοτελεῖς, καὶ ὁλόκληρον ὑμῶν τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ ἡ ψυχὴ καὶ τὸ σῶμα ἀμέμπτως ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τηρηθείη. πιστὸς ὁ καλῶν ὑμᾶς, ὃς καὶ ποιήσει. 

May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this. (1 Thessalonians 5: 23-24)

Jacob Harold Greenlee was born in Charleston, West Virginia, on May 12, 1918, the first child of Jacob Andrew and Ethel Edith Jarrett Greenlee. He graduated from Charleston High School in 1935. He holds the degrees of A.B., Asbury College, 1939; B.D., Asbury Theological Seminary, 1943; M.A., University of Kentucky, 1944; Ph.D. in Biblical and Patristic Greek, Harvard University, 1947. He was a Senior Fulbright Fellow, Oxford University, 1950–51, where his work on reading an ancient palimpsest—an erased Greek NT manuscript—led to further palimpsest studies and the publication of a book.

And much more, which do read.  May he rest in peace eternal.

More Archaeological Evidence that Canaan/ Palestine/ Israel Was Little More Than an Egyptian Buffer Zone

Archaeological excavations at a construction site in the White City found remains of a 5,000-year-old brewery belonging to a Bronze Age Egyptian settlement, Israel’s Antiquities Authority announced Sunday.  The site, located in the heart of Tel Aviv, is the northernmost Egyptian site from the Early Bronze Age.  It was excavated by IAA archaeologists as part of a salvage dig before the construction of a new tower on Hamasger Street.

An Egyptian outpost… That’s what Canaan was.  Throughout its history.

But How Does That Make any Sense at All?

Come on Alabama, what’s wrong with your lawmakers?  Do you really, really think kids are mature enough to own guns?

Alabama already has one of the loosest gun restrictions in the country, but lawmakers felt there was one area that Alabamans were still be oppressed: Kids couldn’t legally carry around handguns.

To rectify this gap in the unstated “guns for everyone” mentality of Alabama’s Republican-led legislature, lawmakers have proposed an amendment to the state’s gun laws that would allow minors to acquire their very own pistols. At the moment, the law is on a bit more even keel, stipulating that “no person shall deliver a pistol to any person under the age of 18.” Lawmakers want that changed to allow minors to have pistols, but only if they get the permission of a “parent, guardian, or spouse who is 18 or older (?)”

Um… as an aside… that last bit ‘or spouse who is 18 or older’… suggests that 14 or 15 or 16 or 17 year olds are marrying 18 year olds and above…  That right there might be part of your problem, Bama…

But before you think Alabama is trying to legalize kids running around the neighborhood with guns after school, the bill adds that the minor can only have the pistol if accompanied by an adult… or if the kid is doing gun-related activities like hunting, trapping, target shooting, or while competing in a firearm competition, in which case he can use it all he wants all by himself. Even more brazenly, the amendment also would allow for children to carry a handgun on them as long as they remain on their parent or guardian’s property. So good rule of thumb: avoid children in Alabama, but especially if they are in or near their homes.

Good grief.  The NRA must be throwing itself a party.

Twitter Theology that Makes Me Sigh…

 –  Bad theologians are kings and queens of easy demolition; good theologians are craftsmen and craftswomen devoted to faithful reconstruction.
download (1)
This is why generalities are unhelpful.  Luther cannot be described as a ‘bad’ theologian no matter what we think of his theology.  And he certainly knew how to do some destroying.  Oh yes.

The Birthday of the ‘Prosperity Gospel’

On 31 March, 1515:

Leo X. authorized the sale of the indulgence to help rebuild St. Peter’s in Rome (to be sold for 8 years in Mainz, Magdeburg and Brandenburg). Pope Leo X’s bull of indulgences on March 31 “Sacrosancti salvatoris et redemptoris nostri” is associated with these financial interests from the beginning.

Prosperity preachers ever since have lauded Leo, who taught them to sell the Gospel to enrich themselves. He is their patron saint.


News From Hawarden: Plans for the 2016 “OT in the NT” Conference

Dear colleagues,

I should like to thank the participants in this year’s Hawarden Seminar on the OT in the NT very much for al their contributions through papers and discussion, which made for a really excellent conference. We have booked Gladstone’s Library again for next year, so you may want to make a note of the dates in your diaries: Wednesday 16th March to Friday 18th March 2016. This is just before Palm Sunday as usual, and we hope the Friday (rather than Saturday) finish will be more convenient for those travelling long distances or with parish commitments at the weekend. Further details about booking will follow.

During the course of our discussions, we found ourselves often returning to seminal works by scholars such as Dodd and Hays, and a recognition emerged of the need to revisit some of the methodological issues in the field – textual criticism (of the NT as well as LXX), determining the influence of wider scriptural context, recognising allusions and so on. We therefore decided to prioritise papers with a methodological focus for next year’s seminar, and to devote a session to fuller discussion of these issues. The call for papers in the autumn will reflect this, but we won’t be identifying a narrow theme, or excluding other contributions. At the end of the next seminar, we will then reflect on how we want to proceed, as an edited volume related to methodological questions has been proposed.

Finally, just to give you all advance notice that a volume of JSNT wholly devoted to the subject of “The OT in the NT”, edited by David Allen and myself , will be coming out later this year: it will contain contributions focusing on methodology as well as new studies of specific texts by names such as Rikk Watts, Tim Lim, Gert Steyn, Craig Evans, Paul Foster and Leroy Huizenga.

With all best wishes for Easter,


Dr. Susan Docherty
Reader in Biblical Studies and Head of Theology

Mark your calendars (or as they say in the UK, your diaries).

The NY Times Reviews ‘The Dovekeepers’

And concludes

The whole enterprise is bathed in a gloss that doesn’t fit the story. The landscape is hot and dusty, but the actors rarely are – even the slaves and soldiers seem immune to sweat and grime, and the women always look as if they just came out of a desert spa. “The Dovekeepers” is aimed at people who might want to see history from something other than a male, generals-and-kings viewpoint but at the same time don’t want it too messy or too real.

Downey and Burnett are terrible at reality but they do right well at historical distortion.  Do enjoy the series if you’re a self loathing masochist (which is what you’d need to be to watch it).

Coming Soon to A Christian Bookstore Selling the Worst Books on the Planet


Discourse Today Would Please Hitler Very Much

The leader of genius must have the ability to make different opponents appear as if they belonged to one category. — Adolf Hitler

The way in which opponents of gay marriage are all lumped together and the way all Muslims are all lumped together and the way all liberals are all lumped together and the way Blacks are all lumped together and the way that women are all lumped together are all signs of the fact that the advice of Hitler is being followed almost to the letter. The foes of these groups- those of a different or differing ideological mindset- are more than happy to lump even very divergent forms of thought into one giant pot so that, rather than discussing actual issues they can simply presume that their ‘one size fits all’ ‘responses’ are fitting.

Let’s just take as an example the first issue and perhaps the most divisive: gay marriage. Anyone who objects, for whatever reason (who cares what the reason is, really) is instantly lumped in with what the supporters of gay marriage call ‘homophobes’. What exactly does that mean? One size fits all, doesn’t it? A person who has genuinely heart-felt religious convictions based on their own understanding of faith but who nonetheless has gay friends and loves them as much as he loves his straight friends is dumped into the pile with authentic hate-mongers like the Westboro NOT Baptist NOT church. How fair is that?

But it isn’t really about fairness, is it? It’s about controlling the discussion and controlling the debate. So, because incapable of actually addressing the particular issues confronted by their opposites, they simply and blithely call them all the same name.

Examples from the other categories are easy enough to imagine. All Blacks are gang-bangers; all Muslims are terrorists; all women are golddiggers… etc.

It’s a sign of our times that the methodology of the world’s most evil man has been adopted by scores and scores of millions of people. But it needs to be said- if what you do is something Hitler would do, you have a problem. And it’s a bigger problem than someone disagreeing with you.

Stop It, Just Stop Now…

Stop this stupidity.  Bloody pentebabbleists (and apostles of strategic prayer)…