Daily Archives: 3 Apr 2015

If You Haven’t Been Keeping Up With C.L. Seow’s Forum…

You’re missing out.  Take a look.  Add it to your blogroll (I’ve done so).  Check back regularly.  He’s doing some interesting things with promise of more coming.

The Week That Was


Now Price Suggests Paul Didn’t Exist Either

Robert Price is one of the few (very few) credentialed scholars who doesn’t think Jesus existed. His work (and work put forth by others in the same vein) has been debunked by scholars ranging from the evangelical variety to atheists. I’ve blogged about that before. (For those interested, there was a specific response book put out years ago to Price’s Jesus mythicism calledThe Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition).  Price has since moved on to arguing that Paul never existed. His views are set forth in his new book, The Amazing Colossal Apostle: The Search for the Historical Paul.

Nothing quite like nutbaggery mixed with the desire for public notoriety.   It makes for lousy scholarship but it makes for great television.

Price doesn’t really exist though.

Dear Gay Activists: Every Pizza Parlor in the Country Wishes You Would Threaten It

yupA fundraiser for the Indiana pizzeria that closed its doors amid widespread outrage over its owners’ beliefs about homosexuality topped $500,000 in less than 48 hours. A crew from Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze TV network on Wednesday afternoon set up the fundraiser for the O’Connor family, which owns Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Ind., on the crowdfunding website GoFundMe. Donations poured in at an impressive clip.

The O’Connor family garnered national attention when they told a local TV station earlier this week that they supported the Hoosier State’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act and would refuse to cater a same-sex wedding if asked to do so.

They clarified that they would never refuse service to a gay or non-Christian customer who came into the restaurant to eat, however. Critics of the law bombarded Memories Pizza’s Yelp page with negative reviews and flooded the restaurant with phony orders, forcing the O’Connor family to close up shop Wednesday. Co-owner Crystal O’Connor said Thursday night on Fox’s “Cavuto” that the family appreciated donors’ support and would reopen the restaurant sometime soon.

Have you guys ever heard of the ‘law of unintended consequences’ or even ‘backlash’?  Anyway, Every restaurant in the country craves your contempt.  Well done.  They’ve raised more in one day than they probably make in a year or two or more.  So I applaud you.  Thanks for supporting – even if indirectly – small businesses.

Remembering Chris Tilling

Was Passover originally an ancient Canaanite ritual to stop the rains?

An interesting essay in Ha’aretz today which relates the theory that the celebration of Passover may have developed in Canaan as an aspect of Baal worship –

Every year for some 2,000 years, Jews around the world have celebrated the Passover seder, marking the exodus of the Israelite slaves from Egypt. However, modern scholars suspect the holiday had a different, even more ancient origin, well before the Jewish people even took shape. According to tradition, the holiday’s origin is the Exodus: The night before the Jews left Egypt, God ordered Moses and Aaron to tell the Israelites to mark the event every year, in perpetuity. …

Some scholars speculate that Passover (the sacrifice of the animal) and the Holiday of Matza were once two separate holidays, one marked by nomadic shepherds and the other by farmers, celebrated in ancient times in ancient Canaan, before the Israelite people arose. However, as the Israelite culture gelled from disparate groups of nomadic herders and more sedentary farmers, these holidays would have been celebrated by the Israelite shepherds and farmers too.

Read the whole.

The Weekly Reminder: The Commentary

My friends tell me I need to do a better job of mentioning my work.  I am hesitant to (being a person given more to talking about other people’s work more than my own) – but I suppose they are right.  It’s not as though the New York Times will do it.  So, each Friday, I will.  That’s once a week if you’re keeping score.  And if you want to mention it too, feel free (he says, spitting into the wind).

For many years I’ve been working on the ‘Person in the Pew’ commentary series. It is nearly complete now, with only Samuel and Kings remaining, so I believe I’m at the place where, along with individual volumes being made available in print and pdf that I’m also willing to provide the entire series as a zipped file of pdf’s.

Individual books can still be obtained by the usual route but the entire series in pdf can only be acquired directly from me. And the procedure is simple:

1- Drop me an email at jwest@highland.net telling me you’d like it.
2- Paypal the cost of the volumes.
3- I will then send them to you without delay.
4- When Samuel and Kings are done, the pdfs will be sent to all who have obtained the series.

But do please note, the purchase entitles you to make use of the volumes for your personal use but they may not be shared or given or sold to second parties under any circumstances.  Of course there’s no way to monitor your honesty in this matter, but you’ll know.  And so will God.

Mind you, I’m not a marketer and I know nothing about business or the business of selling things. I’ve never been in biblical studies for the money and I’m not aiming to make a fortune with the complete series in pdf.

But, that said, all the hours put into these volumes are worth something, so I’m selling the lot for $199. That’s authentically inexpensive considering the thousands of pages written. And it’s a good commentary.

The Crucifixion of Jesus in the Heidelberg Catechism

220px-Heidelberger_Katechismus_1563Question 39. Is there anything more in his being “crucified”, than if he had died some other death?

Answer: Yes there is; for thereby I am assured, that he took on him the curse which lay upon me; (a) for the death of the cross was accursed of God. (b)

(a) Gal.3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: (b) Deut.21:23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

And here is Ursinus’ explanation:


The death of the cross is an aggravation of the punishment of Christ, and a confirmation of our faith. For if Christ was crucified, then he has taken upon himself the curse, because the death of the cross was a figure, or sign of the curse; and not only so, but he has also endured the curse for us, inasmuch as he was righteous in himself.

God, therefore, willed that his Son should endure the punishment of such an ignominious death, for these most satisfactory reasons:

1. That we may know that the curse which was laid upon him was due on account of our sins; for the death of the cross was accursed of God, according to what is written, “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” (Deut. 21:23.)

2. That the punishment might thus be made the heavier, and that we may, so much the more, be confirmed in faith, confidently believing that Christ, by his death, has taken upon himself our guilt, and endured the curse in our behalf that he might deliver us therefrom. Paul teaches this when he says, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth upon a tree.” (Gal. 3:13.)

3. That we may be excited to greater gratitude, considering what a detestable thing sin is, inasmuch as it could not be expiated unless by the most bitter and ignominious death of the only begotten Son of God.

4. That there might be a correspondence between the truth and the types. This was necessary in order that we may know that the types are all fulfilled in Christ. For the ancient sacrifices, which shadowed forth the sacrifice of Christ, were laid upon the wood, and before they were burned, they were lifted up on high by the priest, that it might be signified thereby that Christ should be lifted up upon the cross, that he might offer himself a holy sacrifice to the Father in our behalf. The same was adumbrated in Isaac who was laid upon the wood for the purpose of being sacrificed by his father. Finally, the brazen serpent, which Moses set upon a pole in the wilderness, was a type of Christ, as is evident from the application which Christ himself made of it when he said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.” “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (John 3:14; 12:32.)

What, therefore, is it to believe in Christ crucified? It is to believe that Christ was made subject to the curse for me; that he might deliver me therefrom.

In Which it is Proven that Mary Magdalene and Jesus Were NOT Married

Ἦσαν δὲ καὶ γυναῖκες ἀπὸ μακρόθεν θεωροῦσαι, ἐν αἷς καὶ Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνὴ καὶ Μαρία ἡ Ἰακώβου τοῦ μικροῦ καὶ Ἰωσῆτος μήτηρ καὶ Σαλώμη, (Mar 15:40).

Note the emboldened words: ἀπὸ μακρόθεν.  The phrase occurs 12x in the New Testament and always, always means ‘at a good distance’, or ‘far off’.

Had Jesus and Mary Magdalene been married she would have been standing very near the cross.   And, interestingly, that’s exactly what the Gospel of John does: i.e., he moves the women to the cross so that Jesus can carry on his fictive conversation with his mother and his beloved disciple:

Εἱστήκεισαν δὲ παρὰ τῷ σταυρῷ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἡ ἀδελφὴ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ, Μαρία ἡ τοῦ Κλωπᾶ καὶ Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνή. (Joh 19:25).

Εἱστήκεισαν δὲ παρὰ occurs ONLY in John because it is only John who needs the womenfolk at hand elsewise the conversation becomes impossible.

When eisegetes insist that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, ask them, then why was she far away from her husband when he was executed?

Luther Enjoyed Riding Around on Good Friday


This Is Why I Find the Mystics Creepy

And find myself every day adhering instead to the sage insights of Emil Brunner in his Die Mystik und das Wort and why I find the aforementioned mystics as unappealing as Schleiermacher:

Today is Jesus’ birth day. I’ll be tweeting from the 14th-c. mystic Marguerite d’Oingt, who imagined Jesus giving birth on the cross.  “Oh, sweet and lovely Lord, how bitterly were you in labor for me all through your life!” “When you had to give birth, the labor was such that your holy sweat was like drops of blood which poured out of your body…”  Lisa Deam

Follow Lisa- she’s always tweeting the most unique things.

The End of the Betrayer

Remorse of Judas and Crucifixion fresco, by Giovanni Canavesio, 1491

Remorse of Judas and Crucifixion fresco, by Giovanni Canavesio, 1491

Capehart Doesn’t Think Tim Cook is a Hypocrite

Proving that the dictum ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend‘ even applies to journalists.  Capehart is so interested in approving Apple’s denunciation of Indiana that he is happy, it seems, to overlook the fact (and it’s a fact everyone know) that Apple uses slave labor and exploits its workforce and discriminates against the poor every day.

But for Capehart none of that matters.  All that matters is that Apple, and Cook, are pro-marriage equality.  He writes

Cook is an American, which gives him the right to lecture lawmakers in Indiana (two stores) and Arkansas (one store) about their wrong-headed and “very dangerous” policies. As an American business leader, he has an outsized authority that commands the attention of elected officials at all levels of government. I applaud his willingness to use his voice and stature to affect change here at home.

Do note that Capehart merely addresses Apple store locations and says nary a word about Apple’s corporate policy of discrimination.  That strikes me as rather facile.

Paul’s Divine Christology

tillingEerdmans is on the cusp of publishing one of the most important volumes on Pauline theology it has ever offered by one of the (if not the) brightest young scholars working on Paul today:

Did Paul teach that Jesus was divine and should be worshiped as such? How should this be viewed in relation to Jewish and Jewish-Christian monotheism? The debate over these and related questions has been raging in academic circles — but it also has profound implications for church practice.

In this book Chris Tilling offers a fresh contribution to the long-running debate on whether or not Paul’s Christology is divine. Refocusing the debate on the exegetical data and reengaging more broadly with the sweep of themes in Paul’s letters, Tilling’s innovative contribution is one that cannot be ignored.

I’m completely comfortable telling you that this book is a serious contribution to a large portion of the New Testament and absolutely indispensable for anyone interested in exegesis or theology.

I say that not because I know Tilling but because it’s true.  If the book were problematic, inept, inaccurate, worthless, or pure Dreck I’d feel compelled to say so.  But it isn’t any of those things.  Tilling has herein provided academic biblical scholarship not simply a model of presentation but of clarity as well.  Ambiguity is impossible for Tilling when it comes to interpreting Paul.  I wish all scholars wrote as lucidly.

Furthermore, Tilling substantiates his claims and doesn’t merely spin speculation into a web of interpretation.  His exegetical house is laid on a foundation of concrete, steel, lead, iron, and bedrock.

Readers of this book are reading a book which will be read, and consulted, for a very long time.  I knew years ago when I first encountered Tilling’s work that he was a young man to keep an eye on.  And he remains such (except he’s not as young anymore and he’s put on quite a bit of weight).

This book will be required reading in every course on Paul if the course’s Professor has any insight at all into the subject.

Michael Gove’s Christianity

Crossley-esque analysis of a politician. Score one for the good guys.

Harnessing Chaos

In the Spectator, Michael Gove has again presented himself as a defender of Christianity against its cultured despisers. What kind of people pray? Gove provides his answer:

Well, the kind of people who built our civilisation, founded our democracies, developed our modern ideas of rights and justice, ended slavery, established universal education and who are, even as I write, in the forefront of the fight against poverty, prejudice and ignorance. In a word, Christians.

This way of thinking about Christianity is, of course, nothing new for Gove. In 2012, when he was Education Secretary, Gove (with the help of private donors), sent out copies of the King James Bible to English state schools bearing the words, PRESENTED BY THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EDUCATION. Obviously, schoolchildren were not really going to read the contents of Gove Bible but that doesn’t matter because we already know its meaning: whatever may…

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Jeffrey Gibson Has a Book Coming Out on the Lord’s Prayer in its Historical Setting

And it looks great.  Apparently James Spinti has a copy in advance and has been gleaning snippets.

Christians around the world recite the “Lord’s Prayer” daily, but what exactly are they praying for—and what relationship does it have with Jesus’ own context? Jeffrey B. Gibson reviews scholarship that derives the so-called Lord’s Prayer from Jewish synagogal prayers and refutes it. The genre of the prayer, he shows, is petitionary, and understanding its intent requires understanding Jesus’ purpose in calling disciples as witnesses against “this generation.” Jesus did not mean to teach a unique understanding of God; the prayer had its roots in first-century Jewish movements of protest.

In context, Gibson shows (pace Schweitzer, Lohmeyer, Davies, Allison, and a host of other scholars) that the prayer had little to do with “calling down” into the present realities of “the age to come.” Rather, it was meant to protect disciples from the temptations of their age and, thus, to strengthen their countercultural testimony. Gibson’s conclusions offer new insights into the historical Jesus and the movement he sought to establish.

Septuagint Scholar Interview II: Dr. Rob Hiebert

Great stuff.

Septuaginta &c.

Not too long ago I posted an interview with Dr. Karen Jobes of Wheaton College in honor of International Septuagint Day. Obviously since Karen is such a wonderful person, the post was received very well. With the idea of hearing from active scholars in the field of Septuagint in mind, then, I thought I would carry on with other interviews.

One of the first people I thought of was Dr. Rob Hiebert. He is one of the fellows of The John William Wevers Institute for Septuagint Studies, which operates under the auspices of Trinity Western University just outside Vancouver, B.C. I’ve written about it a bit in this post, and some details about its history are in the interview below. Rob and his colleagues at TWU are also conducting a seminar in Septuagint exegesis this coming May that would be well worth the time (I attended one of these…

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Good Friday is for the Middle Aged

[In Zurich in 1525] The mass was gone. The preaching of the gospel and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper by the whole congregation, in connection with a kind of Agape, took its place.

The first celebration of the communion after the Reformed usage was held in the Holy Week of April, 1525, in the Great Minster. There were three services,—first for the youth on Maundy-Thursday, then for the middle-aged on Good Friday, and last for the old people on Easter.

The celebration was plain, sober, solemn. The communicants were seated around long tables, which took the place of the altar, the men on the right, the women on the left. They listened reverently to the prayers, the words of institution, the Scripture lessons, taken from 1 Cor. 11 and the mysterious discourse in the sixth chapter of John on the spiritual eating and drinking of Christ’s flesh and blood, and to an earnest exhortation of the minister.

They then received in a kneeling posture the sacred emblems in wooden plates and wooden cups. The whole service was a commemoration of Christ’s atoning death and a spiritual communion with him, according to the theory of Zwingli (Schaff).