Congratulations, Israel Finkelstein!

Via Jack Sasson this brilliant news-

The Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University is proud to announce that its esteemed and distinguished colleague, Professor Israel Finkelstein, has been elected a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Professor Finkelstein is the Jacob M. Alkow Professor of the Archaeology of Israel in the Bronze Age and Iron Ages at Tel Aviv University and is also the co-director of excavations at Megiddo in northern Israel. He served as Director of the Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University from 1996–2002. In 2005 he received the Dan David Prize. In 2014 he was one of only 50 people in the world to be awarded the prestigious “Correspondants étrangers” by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres in France. The distinction is accorded to scholars of non-French nationality who are distinguished by their research and writings. The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, chartered by law in 1961, consists of approximately 100 of the country’s most distinguished scientists and scholars, who monitor and promote Israeli intellectual excellence, advise the government on scientific planning, fund and publish research of lasting merit, and maintain active contact with the broader international scientific and scholarly community.

Congratulations, Israel. We’re all very proud.

The Invasion of the Idiots

Umberto Eco writes

“Social media gives legions of idiots the right to speak when they once only spoke at a bar after a glass of wine, without harming the community. Then they were quickly silenced, but now they have the same right to speak as a Nobel Prize winner. It’s the invasion of the idiots.” (Trans. T. Bolin).

How very true.  With one correction: the idiots have the right to speak but they should have no expectation that anyone with sense will listen to them much less take them seriously.  The idiots have as much right to be heard as CNN and the Huffington Post and Fox News and NBC and ABC and CBS and the Discovery Channel and the History Channel.  But like those outlets of infotainment, they have no right to be taken seriously when they speak about matters like theology or history or exegesis or archaeology.

Indeed, the truth is, only idiots heed idiots.  So let them.  Those who wish to know better will seek to know better and those who are satisfied with rank ignorance, stupidity, and misinformation will never care for the truth any more than a person who watches the Naked Archaeologist really cares about the facts.  Their ignorance is invincible.  They should be left to it.  To rot in the swampy stew of their own putrid mindlessness.

I Really, Really Stink at the Self Promotional Skills Which Purveyors of their Own Books Must Possess

the-person-the-pew-commentary-seriesIt has become apparent to me that I need to do a bit more of the self promotional boasting that I seem to be really miserable at.  Why?  Because I received this email from a very, very dear lady whom I have known for – literally – decades.  She writes

Dear Jim,

I didn’t know you were writing/have written a commentary series.
How’d you keep that secret??? How can I get your commentary on Ezra-Nehemiah? I just finished Ezra (Sheffield Phoenix, 2015) and would like to make use of your comments on Nehemiah for mine on Nehemiah.

Thanks.

So- here’s the thing- I’ve written a commentary on the entire Bible (including a few deutercanonicals) with the exception of Samuel and Kings and i’m working on Samuel now.  Maintaining the aforementioned self-promotion (which I stink at), if you’d like to know more about it- visit here:  https://zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com/my-commentary/  and if you’d like everything that’s been done, I’ll send it along for a paltry $100.  That’s something like 8 Euro or 2 Pounds Sterling.

(Good heavens that’s discomfiting and I feel filthy having done it.  As though i had accidentally gotten in Chris Tilling’s urine stained empty bed at SBL…)

Oh Laquanda, Laquanda, Laquanda…. It is Hard For Thee To Remember That Thou Hast Children, Is It Not?

Apparently a Virginia mom has not learned her lesson.

Laquanda Newby, 25, has been charged with three counts of contributing to the delinquency or abuse of a child after police said she left her children inside her hot car outside of the Henrico County Courthouse on Monday, June 8, 2015. The kicker? Newby was at the courthouse to turn herself in after being accused of leaving her children in her car May 26 while she shopped at an area Sam’s Club.

After police discovered the children in the car with the windows shut, Newby was booked into the Henrico Jail. Officers brought the kids, ages 6 and 1, inside and gave them water and snacks until their father came and picked them up.  Officials could not say exactly how long the children were in the car, but surveillance footage showed the kids were in the car for more than an hour. Temperatures in Henrico County reportedly reached 90 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday.

Dear Laquanda… maybe a string on your finger could help you remember that you have kids?  Or, maybe looking around?  Or maybe a little less of being self-absorbed?  Or maybe leave them with their dad.

News You Can Use: Pedophiles are Left Handed and Have Non-Detached Earlobes… Ostensibly

Paedophiles are most likely to be left handed and have non-detached earlobes, a new study has found.

“Superficial” facial flaws – which might also include malformed ears or a high or steepled palate – are among the indicators that could mark a man out as a child abuser as well as his dominant hand, researchers discovered.

An investigation into the prevalence of physical anomalies among men who are sent for sexological assessment was led by academics at the University of Windsor, in Canada.

Experts said the study adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests paedophilia develops before birth – around the same time that such physical flaws develop.

Well, science…  Now, whether I want to or not, I’m going to be staring at left handed people’s earlobes.  Great.  Thanks, Canada.

Bibi Netanyahu’s Government Has No Regard for Nor Respect for the United States

Why do we continue to turn a blind eye to his evils? Our government’s hypocrisy vis-a-vis Israel is astonishing. If this were done by the Russians we would be whining and sanctioning all the way to the UN. But since it’s Israel, oh well…. it’s sickening.

Earlier this spring, the cybersecurity firm Kaspersky was testing an advanced antivirus software on one of its computers when it stumbled on something big: As the Moscow-based company puts it, it was “one of the most skilled, mysterious and powerful” spy viruses in the world.

The piece of software was so sophisticated that it left few traces. It didn’t leave files on the disk drive, and to stay hidden, it burrowed inside a computer’s kernel memory, which is the place where a computer’s most basic software is kept.

Kaspersky says it assigned a team to watch its movements, and the team members found out they were dealing with Duqu — a malware program that previous reports had connected to the Israeli government.

Subsequently, Kaspersky launched a worldwide search for the virus on millions of computers and discovered it in three luxury hotels in Europe. All of those hotels, Kaspersky says, were used during talks between Iran and Western powers over Iran’s nuclear deal.

Israel is not an ally, it is the international equivalent of a little spoiled child with its hand out all the time wanting something from mommy and if it doesn’t get it it runs to daddy and if it still doesn’t get what it wants, it throws a tantrum.

The SBL Southeast Call for Papers

The Call for Papers for our 2016 Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion (SECSOR) meeting in Atlanta, GA on March 4-6, 2016 is now available at http://secsor.org/uncategorized/2016-call-for-papers/ .

The Proposal Submission Form that you will need to complete and email along with your proposal is available in pdf format at http://secsor.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/SECSORProposalsubmissionform.pdf.

A Proposal Submission Form in Word format can be located at  http://secsor.org/uncategorized/secsor-paper-deadline-reminder-and-form/ .

As indicated in the Call for Papers, the deadline for the submission of proposals is October 5, 2015.

If your department, institution, or organization has an email distribution list, please forward this email to the appropriate person for distribution to those who may be interested in submitting a proposal.

The Hebrew Bible Section is looking forward to another group of quality sessions next March in Atlanta.

Ernst Käsemann Remembered: A Lecture by Prof. Calvin J. Roetzel

On March 25, 2015, The Pitts Theology Library and the Biblical Studies Faculty of the Candler School of Theology welcomed Professor Calvin J. Roetzel, Sundet Professor of New Testament (emeritus), Classical and Near Eastern Studies, University of Minnesota, and Arnold Lowe Professor of Religious Studies (emeritus), Macalester College, to Emory to speak on his friendship with and the influence of Professor Ernst Käsemann, a leading figure in 20th century New Testament scholarship.

Professor Roetzel was one of several prominent American scholars who worked with Professor Käsemann in Tübingen and brought his influence into North American scholarship. Prof. Roetzel has donated to the Pitts Theology Library his personal correspondence with Prof. Käsemann, a collection of letters that ranges in topics from personal details related to his visit in Tübingen to substantive conversations about Pauline theology. The Pitts Theology Library is using Prof. Roetzel’s donation as the beginning of a curation effort of other American scholars who own Käsemann correspondence. Building upon existing archival items, Pitts has contacted several New Testament scholars who have indicated they are interested in participating in this endeavor. Professor Roetzel’s lecture provided the context to this collection and celebrate the enormous contributions of Professor Käsemann.

And the mp3 itself: http://digitalpitts.emory.edu/items/show/250 – with thanks to Bo Adams!

Chris Tilling: The Eerdword Interview

Chris, we’re really excited about the release ofPaul’s Divine Christology! Tell us a little bit about yourself. What are you doing when you’re not writing, reading, teaching, or answering questions for EerdWord?

mpf4qMuch of my time is spent reorganizing my life around the fact that I’m now a father of a beautiful ten month-old baby boy, Karl Lucas (yes, Karl Barth might have had something to do with that name). So top on my list of things I’m doing at the moment has to come: not sleeping enough! Apart from that, I also run my own blog called Chrisendom. I plan to do this until Google finally suggests “Did you mean Chrisendom?” when people search for “Christendom.” Little goals like this keep me motivated.

I’m admittedly not as active on my blog as I used to be, and these days the theological content is starting to be replaced with funny animal videos. But perhaps a video of a cat falling amusingly off a ledge can also serve the wider theological community in its own way . . .

I’m also quite a keen chess player and a pretty decent golfer. But alas, such hobbies have temporarily been shelved until life settles down again. In other words, Rory McIlroy’s crown is safe for the time being.

The butthead didn’t even mention his friends.   Sinner.  Anyway, read the rest.  I know not why.

Our Barbaric Pakistani ‘Allies’ Have Slaughtered an Innocent Christian…

And you didn’t even know it because the media in America is useless.

Aftab Bahadur was hanged at Central Jail Lahore (Kot Lakhpat), in the early hours of this morning. He was executed for a crime that took place on 5 September 1992, where a woman – Sabiha Bari – and her two sons were murdered. Ghulam Mustafa, a plumber with whom Aftab worked as an apprentice, was arrested early in the morning of 6 September 1992, and implicated Aftab under torture. Ghulam was set to die on Wednesday as well, but after recanting his statement – and saying that Aftab had nothing to do with the crime – was pardoned.

According to Aftab, when he was arrested the police asked for a 50,000-rupee bribe and said they would let him go if he paid. As a plumber’s apprentice, Aftab said he could not pay. The only “eyewitness” to the crime who testified against Aftab recently made a statement before a religious minister that he was coerced into his testimony, that he was not even there, and that he certainly did not see Aftab commit the crime.

And these beasts are our allies?  Why?

Consider the facts: a few days ago, the “eye witness” whose testimony placed Aftab on death row had recanted in front of a religious minister, saying that the police had forced him to say that he had seen Aftab commit the murder. The witness, infirm and perhaps close to death himself, could not live any longer with what he had done. His original perjury meant that Aftab, just 15 years old when he was convicted in 1993, had spent more than 22 years on death row. Yet the Pakistani legal system was not willing to show mercy based on the truth that the case against Aftab had been falsified.

This was only the tip of the horror. Aftab’s legal team also sought permission to meet with Ghulam so that he could sign the statement he had offered – that Aftab was innocent of the crime, and that he (Ghulam) had falsely implicated him. But the authorities confected the case against Aftab, and the authorities did not allow the legal team the opportunity to have Ghulam sign the affidavit that further demonstrated Aftab’s innocence.

May the good judgment of God recompense these evildoers.

The idea that Ghulam – who apparently took part in the terrible murder of Sabiha Bari and her two sons – was spared by what we loosely call the “justice system”, while the palpably innocent Aftab died last night, leaves me in a state of sickening despair.

Me too.

The Feckless Ignorance of US and British Foreign Policy Gave Birth to Bin Laden… and ISIS

When history asks who is to blame for the deeds of bin Laden and ISIS it will lay it squarely on the stupidity of US and UK foreign policy.

The war on terror, that campaign without end launched 14 years ago by George Bush, is tying itself up in ever more grotesque contortions. On Monday the trial in London of a Swedish man, Bherlin Gildo, accused of terrorism in Syria, collapsed after it became clear British intelligence had been arming the same rebel groups the defendant was charged with supporting.

The prosecution abandoned the case, apparently to avoid embarrassing the intelligence services. The defence argued that going ahead withthe trial would have been an “affront to justice” when there was plenty of evidence the British state was itself providing “extensive support” to the armed Syrian opposition.

That didn’t only include the “non-lethal assistance” boasted of by the government (including body armour and military vehicles), but training, logistical support and the secret supply of “arms on a massive scale”. Reports were cited that MI6 had cooperated with the CIA on a “rat line” of arms transfers from Libyan stockpiles to the Syrian rebels in 2012 after the fall of the Gaddafi regime.

Clearly, the absurdity of sending someone to prison for doing what ministers and their security officials were up to themselves became too much. But it’s only the latest of a string of such cases. Less fortunate was a London cab driver Anis Sardar, who was given a life sentence a fortnight earlier for taking part in 2007 in resistance to the occupation of Iraq by US and British forces. Armed opposition to illegal invasion and occupation clearly doesn’t constitute terrorism or murder on most definitions, including the Geneva convention.

But terrorism is now squarely in the eye of the beholder. And nowhere is that more so than in the Middle East, where today’s terrorists are tomorrow’s fighters against tyranny – and allies are enemies – often at the bewildering whim of a western policymaker’s conference call.

Read the whole thing.  And then, while you’re cursing the evils of ISIS, save a curse or two for the American and British politicians who set it all in motion.

Where in the World is Chris Tilling Now?

A man is suing the actress Zhao Wei for staring at him too intensely through his TV set and causing him “spiritual damage”. The lawsuit filed by the Battersea Shanghai man refers to the prime-time TV show, Tiger Mom, which debuted in May and is about a couple’s differing approach to raising their daughter.

Zhao plays the big-eyed mother who relentlessly pushes her daughter’s development, while the father wants his child to have more freedom.  The Legal Daily said the man was alleging Zhao’s stare caused him “spiritual damage”.  A court official, who declined to identify himself, refused to say whether the court had accepted the case.

Oh Chris… suing someone?  For spiritual damage?  For shame.  It’s like you’ve become Canadian.