Daily Archives: 20 Oct 2016

A Very Large Typhoon Is About to Strike Hong Kong

If you’re the praying sort, remember the folk there.  All of them, but most especially the staff and students and faculty at Ming Hua Theological College.  It is a wonderful place and they are wonderful people.


The SBLAAR16 Meeting App is Now Available

With thanks to Danny McClellan for tracking it down and mentioning it on twitter.  I found this link on google.  If you go to the app store and search SBLAAR16 you’ll find it as the second (!) listing.

Luther Wasn’t the First German Bible Translator: Not Even Close

There’s a brief history of German Bible translations here if you’d like to read it. It’s grand. It remarks

Allein auf Deutsch sind 72 Bibelübersetzungen vor Luthers berühmter “Dolmetschung” bekannt, wenngleich die meisten Teilübersetzungen waren. Schon früh wollte man die Heiligen Schriften durch Übersetzungen in Landessprachen zugänglich machen.

Es ist ein weit verbreiteter Irrtum, dass erst Martin Luther (1483-1546) mit seiner Bibelübersetzung dem einfachen Volk die Heiligen Schriften zugänglich gemacht hätte: Volkssprachliche Bibelübersetzungen reichen zurück bis in die ersten frühchristlichen Jahrhunderte – und sogar bis etwa 250 Jahre vor Christus.

Zu diesem Zeitpunkt nämlich beherrschten die hellenistischen Juden in der Diaspora längst nicht mehr alle das biblische Hebräisch. Eine Übersetzung zunächst der Tora (fünf Bücher Mose) in die damals geläufige altgriechische Sprache Koine wurde nötig. Die Übersetzung wurde Septuaginta (“siebzig”) genannt: Laut Legende sollen 72 Gelehrte in 72 Tagen jeweils für sich die Tora übersetzt haben – und zwar absolut identisch. Später wurde der Begriff “Septuaginta” für die Übersetzung des ganzen Tanachs, also die gesamte jüdische Bibel, gebraucht.

Donald Trump And the Sermon on the Mount

God and the Faithfulness of Paul

9781506421674The American edition of this volume is being published by Fortress.

N. T. Wright’s magnum opus Paul and the Faithfulness of God is a landmark study on the history and thought of the apostle Paul. This volume brings together a stellar group of international scholars to critically assess an array of issues in Wright’s work.

Essays in Part I set Wright in the context of other Pauline theologies. Part II addresses methodological issues in Wright’s approach, including critical realism, historiography, intertextuality, and narrative. In Part III, on context, scholars measure Wright’s representation of early Judaism, Greek philosophy, paganism, and the Roman Empire. Part IV turns to Wright’s exegetical decisions regarding law, covenant, and election, the “New Perspective,” justification and redemption, Christology, Spirit, eschatology, and ethics. Part V at last speaks to the implications of Wright’s work for the church’s theology, sacraments, and mission, and for global responsibility in a “postmodern” age. The volume includes a critical response from Wright himself.

That One Time When Joel Osteen Visited Martin Luther


#ICYMI- Name Badges for SBL will be Emailed This Year

In an effort to cut down on lines for badge reprints at registration, name badges will no longer be sent via postal mail. Instead, check your e-mail in early November for a special link that will allow you to print your name badge and tote bag ticket to bring with you to San Antonio. If you bring these items to the Annual Meeting, you will not need to stand in line for registration.

When you arrive at the San Antonio Convention Center, you may use your tote bag ticket to pick up a tote bag at the Tote Bag Window, located in the main Lobby outside Exhibit Hall 1. Inside the tote bag will be your lanyard and your name badge holder, and you can slip in your name badge and enjoy the rest of the Annual Meeting!


I think that’s an excellent idea.  Saves postage, paper, and everything else.

But so far no word on the Annual Meeting App for iPhones or Androids.  Anyone know anything yet?

The Bee Stings Theatrical Worship

Due to the church’s dangerous overuse of hundreds of lasers, pulsating effects, and strobe lighting, a local judge ordered Elevation Church to post a photosensitive seizure warning outside its church building before every service, sources confirmed Thursday.

According to the court order, local authorities became aware of the threat as dozens of church visitors had complained of headaches, strokes, seizures, and dizziness in recent weeks.

In response to the small-claims lawsuits alleging light-show-induced illnesses, a court hearing concluded that the only possible solution to the church’s over-the-top, dazzling production of light and sound was to ask church leaders to post warnings for any visitors who might be sensitive to light.

“We’ve had more reports of photosensitive epileptic seizures at Elevation than at any of the local nightclubs,” Judge Edgar J. Reynoso told reporters. “So in response to several suits followed in small claims court, we’re asking Elevation to simply warn people that their church gathering contains wild and potentially dangerous effects.”

“Even sitting in the court room reviewing footage as evidence, I was getting a little queasy, to be honest,” he added.

We all get sick to our stomachs in ‘modern worship services’.  God skips them all so as not to have to endure the offensive anthropocentric rubbish.

In The Fullness of Time: Essays on Christology, Creation, and Eschatology in Honor of Richard Bauckham

9780802873378This one looks quite good  so I am appreciative that Eerdmans has sent a review copy.

Over the course of his distinguished career Richard Bauckham has made pioneering contributions to diverse areas of scholarship ranging from ethics and contemporary issues to hermeneutical problems and theology, often drawing together disciplines and fields of research all too commonly kept separate from one another.

In this volume some of the most eminent figures in modern biblical and theological scholarship present essays honoring Bauckham. Addressing a variety of subjects related to Christology, creation, and eschatology, the contributors develop elements of Bauckham’s biblical and theological work further, present fresh research of their own to complement his work, and raise critical questions.

The highlights are those essays by

  • Philip Alexander
  • James R. Davila
  • James D. G. Dunn
  • Philip F. Esler
  • Larry W. Hurtado
  • Bruce W. Longenecker

True superstars contributing to appreciation of a true superstar.  Less engaging are the contributions by Moltmann, Pennington, and Wright, although they too have some very intriguing suggestions to make.  Furthermore, the ‘thematic studies’ are less engaging than the ‘textual studies’- in all likelihood simply because my own proclivities tend to bend in the direction of the textual.

Perhaps, however, the most impressive segment of the book is the 20 page bibliography of Richard Bauckham’s works.  The editors do a grand job of introducing readers both to Bauckham and his work and the essays fairly cover the entire range of his interests.  Each essayist brings his (yes, his- there are no female contributors to the volume nor, so far as I can tell, non Westerners) own agenda to his essay and this naturally provides readers with something of a ‘discussion’ betwixt Bauckham and his admirers.  This quality of the collection is worth mentioning as it brings a certain depth to the work which some Festschriften lack.

Yet it seems to the present reviewer that the high point of the collection is the amazingly important essay by Alexander.  Its subtitle, ‘Does the Worship of Jesus Imply His Divinity’ is THE question of the day, isn’t it.  It is a model (a word used too often but which here is quite fitting) of exegetical precision and theological insight. Alexander’s grasp of the history of the early Church along with a profound understanding of Scripture’s message and intention make this the richest most well crafted essay of the lot.  He teaches us, in case we didn’t know it (and many appear not to) that the words we toss around like ‘monotheism’ and ‘worship’ may have more ambiguous meanings than we are willing to admit.

Not enough attention has been paid to the concept of agency (p. 113).


The early Christologies never adequately addressed the ontological question, and for that reason cannot, just as they are, ignoring the later clarifications, be made the basis of Christology today (p. 114).

It’s a brilliant piece of work.  The volume at hand, then, comes highly recommended.  Very highly recommended.

Trump Will Only Accept the Election Results if He Wins…

He just out-Trumped Trump.


He’s insane.

The Most Important Piece of Equipment Any Academic Can Possess: Dilettante-dar©

If you don’t have Dilettante-dar© then you need to, to borrow a phrase of Jesus, go and sell what you have to acquire it.  It’s the most important piece of equipment any academic can possess because only by means of it can absurdity (such as that spewed by Eric Metaxas about Dietrich Bonhoeffer) be spotted, confronted, and defeated.

D-Dar©.  Get you some!


Im Bett mit Martin Luther

They aren’t missing any angle at all this year for Luther 500.

Der japanische Künstler Tatzu Nishi hat um die Luther-Statue in Eisenach ein Haus gebaut. Martin Luther steht dort jetzt im Schlafzimmer und sieht aus, als ob er jeden Augenblick eine flammende Predigt halten will. Nicht alle Eisenacher sind davon angetan.



The Empire Strikes Back

Dear Colleague,

The 2016 SBL Annual Meeting is one month away. I trust you are looking forward to it, and I wish you safe travels. The program you have prepared through your session planning and paper submissions is a rich one.

I want to take this opportunity to remind you of your ownership and responsibility in SBL.

SBL is a membership organization, whose institutional mission is to provide opportunities for mutual support, intellectual growth, and professional development through its programs and services, including the upcoming Annual Meeting. In a membership organization, every person is a stakeholder, with responsibilities to hold each other accountable to its professional standards of intellectual inquiry and professional conduct. Over 3,000 of SBL’s 8,100 members volunteer in some capacity (including committees, boards, and program units), but all of us are accountable to each other for the quality and integrity of scholarship in the SBL community.

Every year, each participant in the Annual Meeting receives a letter when a proposal is accepted into the program. The letter states the following:

Please note that, by submitting a paper proposal or accepting a role in any affiliate organization or program unit session at the Annual or International Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, you agree to participate in an open academic discussion guided by a common standard of scholarly discourse that engages your subject through critical inquiry and investigation.

In point of fact, we ask every registrant to accept this responsibility, namely, to support free inquiry and critical investigation, to support broad and inclusive participation from diverse scholarly points of view, and to act in a manner consistent with SBL’s mission statement and core values, as well as its policies on nondiscrimination, harassment, and professional conduct. You do this in formal sessions and informal interactions.

In regards to professional conduct, remember that we are in this together. Watch out for each other. We are mutually responsible for maintaining an atmosphere and culture free of harassment and discrimination. We are also corporately responsible for ensuring that any member reporting harassment or discrimination will be heard and respected.

It is my annual pleasure to see this scholarly community gathered in such large numbers. However, this works best—perhaps only—when you exercise your stake in the Society of Biblical Literature.

See you there.


John F. Kutsko

What’s it mean?  Well first it means that, unlike any time leading up to any other National Meeting (that I can recall- and I’ve been a member of SBL since the early 1980’s) the SBL believes it needs to make the point of inclusivity.  But that’s an odd word for inclusivity doesn’t mean the glad hearing of all points of view (like those represented by Intervarsity Christian Fellowship nor its publishing cousin Intervarsity Press).  Rather, it means a particular ideological point of view most commonly held by persons on the left of the ideological spectrum.  In short, what it means is that SBL is doing its very best to include views best represented by persons on the ideological left and at the same time it means the silencing or marginalization of people and organizations which hold views to the ideological right.  Dissent won’t be tolerated in the new environment of toleration.

John writes, interestingly,

We are mutually responsible for maintaining an atmosphere and culture free of harassment and discrimination. We are also corporately responsible for ensuring that any member reporting harassment or discrimination will be heard and respected.

Are we?  Is it really true that the ideological left is to be held to the same ‘harassment free’ and ‘discrimination free’ standards as the ideological right?  If so, then why did Kutsko tell IVP Academic that it was his intention to recommend that they be refused booth space at the 2017 Annual Meeting thanks to views on marriage held by their cousins over at IVF?

I think not.  Indeed, to verify this simply substitute any left leaning publishing house for IVP Academic as the object of a potential revocation of annual meeting attendance privileges and see if it rings true that anti-discrimination is really a two way street.

Kutsko opines that the SBL is a place which should be free of discrimination.  I could not agree more.  No one deserves to be discriminated against.  For any reason.

So why is SBL discriminating against IVP Academic?  That’s the question that needs to be answered.

Brief Thoughts on the Irish Reformation

Here’s a topic you don’t often hear discussed-

Today in Luther’s Life

1520lutherOur Saxon friends write

Am 19. Oktober 1512 werden Martin Luther als Zeichen seiner neu erworbenen Doktorwürde Doktorhut und Ring überreicht. Er ist nun Doktor der Theologie.

And then

Nur Tage später (on the 20th of October, 1512) tritt er an der Wittenberger Universität eine Professur für Bibelauslegung an, die er sein Leben lang behält.

A more significant Professor of Biblical Studies there has never been.

The Weirdest Reformation Themed Exhibit Yet: Kick a Hologram of Mary and Get the Word ‘Reformation’

File this one under ‘bizarre news‘:

The new National Museum in Estonia has backed down over a controversial display that allowed visitors to kick an exhibit which then showed an image of the Virgin Mary shattering, with the word ‘Reformation’ appearing.

The ‘holographic’ exhibit, which was criticised by church figures and politicians when it was unveiled earlier this month, will still appear to shatter at scheduled intervals but visitors will no longer be able to kick a spot on it.

Varro Vooglaid, the head of the Estonia Foundation for Family and Tradition, said that the museum, situated in Tartu, “has taken a big step in the right direction which we welcome.”

Vooglaid told LifeSiteNews: “Of course we want the exhibit removed entirely…But we welcome this change. It is an outrage, really very brutal and banal to allow people to kick an image of Our Lady.”

People have the weirdest notions sometimes.  Just weird.

Sweet Baby Jesus…

Here’s what a statue of Jesus looks like up there in Canada


That’s worse than the painting the crazy woman damaged and then tried to restore…  Jesus looks like some sort of demon.  Which seems, oddly, completely inappropriate.

Oh Canada…

Luther Never Said That

For example, the whole ‘ here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me, amen’ never happened.  Neither did the ‘nailing of the 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church’ nor the tossing of the ink pot at the devil, nor did he utter ‘we are beggars, that’s the truth’ as his last word.

Give a look at Andreas Malessa’s new little book, summarized here and take a look at the table of contents and other front matter here.

indexMartin Luther hat der Nachwelt Werke mit insgesamt 80.000 Seiten hinterlassen. Seine 95 Thesen haben die Reformation ins Rollen gebracht. Der Theologe und Journalist Andreas Malessa räumt mit seinem Buch „Hier stehe ich, es war ganz anders“ mit den häufigsten Irrtümern über Martin Luther auf. Eine Rezension von Johannes Weil.

Malessa möchte mit seinem Buch „Hier stehe ich, es war ganz anders“ die Neugier wecken, welche „Lebens- und Gotteserfahrungen Luthers“ den Menschen heute nahekommen. Über jedem der 24 Kapitel steht eine These, mit der sich Malessa auf maximal zehn Seiten beschäftigt. Vor allem für geschichtsinteressierte Leser sind die historischen Hintergrundinformationen wertvoll.

Here’s the book’s info- „Hier stehe ich, es war ganz anders: Irrtümer über Luther“, SCM Hänssler, 14,95 Euro, 9-783773-156103

Hämmerte Martin Luther seine 95 Thesen wirklich an eine Kirchentür? Warf er ein Tintenfass nach dem Teufel? Floh seine Frau Katharina in einem Heringsfass aus dem Kloster und pflanzte Luther wirklich ein Apfelbäumchen?

Alles fröhlicher Unsinn. Hörfunk- und TV-Journalist Andreas Malessa erzählt uns in solide recherchierten Fakten wie es wirklich war. Unbeschreiblich unterhaltsam, kenntnisreich und voller Anerkennung für den großen Reformator. Kein Irrtum übrigens: Käthe und Martin hatten Zuschauer in ihrer Hochzeitsnacht…!   Mit Illustrationen von Thees Carstens.

This Week’s ‘Refo Thursday’ Essay

This week’s is a reflection about Luther’s famously uttered “Here I stand…”.

Whether or not he actually said “here I stand,” his actions that day spoke for him. It is impossible to imagine the last five centuries of sacred or secular history without his trembling but defiant determination to stand with God’s Word when it taught truths that a corrupt church had mislaid or mangled. And that is why we are undertaking this series.

Give it a look.

Journal of the Jesus Movement in its Jewish Setting

The latest volume is out and ready for your enjoyment.

The issue begins by taking on the role of supersessionism in relation to Christian self-definition in a study by Terence L. Donaldson, and then moves on to a comparative analysis of baptism and purification rituals in the Jesus movement and Qumran, respectively, by Eyal Regev.

In Enrico Tuccinardi’s “Christian Horros,” we return to Pompeii and the Christianos graffito for a new suggested reading of this enigmatic find that was discussed in issue 2. Also following up from the last issue is Eric S. Gruen, who debates the studies published then by Richard Ascough and Ralph Korner on ancient associations as models for understanding the nature of the synagogue.

Between Tuccinardi and Gruen, we have placed two studies dealing with issues of vital importance for our understanding of Paul and the Gospel of Mark, respectively: Kathleen Troost-Cramer takes on the intriguing question of the role of the Jerusalem temple in Paul’s thought, focussing on Romans 15:16, and Michael Kok problematizes recent studies on the nature of Mark’s Christology. The reception of a New Testament text in Chrysostom and the Pseudo-Clementine Homilist, and its role in Jewish and Christian identity formation, is then dealt with by Deborah Forger.

Finally, we are very pleased to present a first reading of the recently discovered synagogue inscription from Kursi, an area on the eastern shore of Lake Tiberias otherwise known as the largest Byzantine pilgrimage site from the fifth century. The discovery of the inscription has already caused debate, and new theories about Jewish – Christian relations in this place have been suggested. With this publication of the inscription by Haggai Misgav and the excavators of the site, Michal Artzy and Haim Cohen, discussions have received, we believe, a new and solid point of departure.