Monthly Archives: November 2016

Sad News: Duncan Forrester has Died

duncanforresterVia Paul Middleton-

Hearing the very sad news that the Rev Prof. Duncan Forrester, Emeritus Professor at New College, Edinburgh has died. He was a fine theologian, and a very gracious man. He was the founder of the Centre for Theology and Public Issues in Edinburgh, in which I had my first academic job, and he preached at my induction to the Old Kirk of Edinburgh.

The Bee Stings the Preteen Church Prowler

Local junior higher Bobby Reinke reported Wednesday that he is still attending both “big church” and youth group in an attempt to begin some kind of personal relationship with “cute” fellow eighth grader Jenny Wilson.  Reinke, sitting with his parents Sunday, also came out staunchly in opposition to cold, dead religion that demands people just attend church in order to fulfill “some kind of religious checklist.”

Their name is Legion.  They come to date, they date, they break up, and they depart.  As John says, ‘They were not of us for if they had been of us they would have remained with us’.

“It’s not about religion—it’s about a personal relationship with Jenny,” Reinke said piously as he craned to get a better look at the back of Wilson’s head a few pews in front of him. “I’m not here to just go through the motions. I really want to get to know her and see what she has for my future,” he added. Reinke further stated he fully intends to ask Wilson to add him to Snapchat, sometime in the next three to four months.

Legion…  Bloody little derelicts.

Cities of the Reformation

9783290178833Zürich heute – hier wohnen und arbeiten Menschen aus aller Welt. Zürich, vor 500 Jahren – zwar viel kleiner, aber ebenso lebendig. Die Menschen leiden unter den Abgaben an Kirchen und Klöster, das Söldnerwesen bringt Reichtum und Dekadenz. Da wendet sich Ulrich Zwingli, ein junger Leutpriester, gegen soziale Missstände – und Kirche und Staat gestalten gemeinsam eine neue Ordnung.

Das reich bebilderte Journal zeigt Zürich als Schauplatz dieser Umwälzungen. Es nimmt uns mit auf einen Rundgang zu den wichtigen Stätten der Reformation: ins Grossmüster, in dem Zwingli 1519 erstmals predigt, zum Rathaus, wo die Zürcher Disputationen stattfinden, an die Schipfe, dem Schauplatz der Täuferverfolgung. Eine Szenenfolge Hans Strubs versetzt uns ins Haus des Buchdruckers Froschauer, in dem in der Fastenzeit 1522 die berühmt gewordenen Würste gegessen werden, eine Geschichte Ulrich Knellwolfs an den Stadelhofen, wo 1523 ein Schuhmacher eigenhändig das Kreuz mit dem Heiland umhaut – was ihn den Kopf kostet. Das Heft erzählt in Bildern, Geschichten und Szenen von den historischen Entwicklungen der Reformation, stellt aber auch die heutigen Kirchen der Stadt und die anstehenden Aufgaben der Zürcher Kirche vor.

Mit Beiträgen von Renate von Ballmoos, Jürg Dambach, Dorothee Degen, Judith Engeler, Ueli Greminger, Rebecca Giselbrecht, Irene Gysel, Markus Keller, Alexandra Kess, Ulrich Knellwolf, Käthi Koenig-Siegrist, Daniel Klingenberg, Käthi La Roche, Peter Opitz, Niklaus Peter, Felix Reich, Martin Rüsch, Christoph Sigrist, Hans Strub, Cornelia Vogelsanger, Elisabeth Wyss-Jenny, Hans Conrad Zander.
Mit Illustrationen von Daniel Lienhard.

Peter Opitz, Dr. theol., Jahrgang 1957, ist Professor für Kirchen- und Dogmengeschichte von der Reformation bis zur Gegenwart an der Theologischen Fakultät der Universität Zürich und Leiter des Instituts für Schweizerische Reformationsgeschichte.

Käthi Koenig-Siegrist, Jahrgang 1950, Theologin und Redaktorin, war in der Zürcher Redaktion von «reformiert.» und davor Chefredaktorin des evang.Wochenmagazins «doppelpunkt».

A Previously Unknown Roman Governor of Judah Discovered: Marco Paccius

Antonio writes

Era stato in carica durante la Rivolta di bar Kokhba (132-135 d.C.). Il reperto è stato rinvenuto in mare, al largo di Tel Dor. L’iscrizione decifrata recita «… la città di Dor rende onore a Marco Paccius, figlio di Publio Silvano, governatore della Giudea». SPETTACOLARE!!! L’articolo su Ha’retz.

Ha’aretz says

An underwater survey conducted by divers off Tel Dor, on the Mediterranean Sea, yielded an astonishing find: a rare Roman inscription mentioning the province of Judea – and the name of a previously unknown Roman governor, who ruled the province shortly before the Bar-Kochba Revolt. Historians had thought that based on Roman records, the leaders Rome imposed on its provinces were all known.

The rock with the 1,900-year-old inscription was exposed by a storm on the seabed at a depth of just 1.5 meters in the bay of Dor. The town had been a thriving port in Roman times that even minted its own coins, which proudly proclaimed the city to be “Ruler of the Seas”.
Found by Haifa University archaeologists surveying the remains of the ancient Roman harbor at Dor in January 2016, the rock, 70 by 80 centimeters in size, was partly covered in sea creatures when it was found.

Etc.  And here’s the stone-


As Antonio says, ‘spectacular!!!!’

Biblical Aramaic: A Reader & Handbook

9781619708914oWhilst at SBL in San Antonio the nice folk at Hendrickson handed off a copy of their brand new Biblical Aramaic: A Reader & Handbook for perusal and examination.

Biblical Aramaic: A Reader & Handbook is a “one-stop shop” for anyone who is studying Biblical Aramaic or seeking to retain the knowledge they have already acquired. A wonderful resource for both professors and students, Biblical Aramaic: A Reader & Handbook effectively empowers students to be able to read the Bible’s Aramaic texts with comprehension, ease, and enjoyment, and to sustain a solid, lasting command of the language long after their formal study has ended. Split into two main sections—a Reader and word lists—this is an essential tool for anyone who wants to read the Aramaic portions of the Bible with understanding and confidence, and to maintain this ability over the long term.

Created by a team of scholars: Donald R. Vance (PhD), George Athas (PhD), Yael Avrahami (PhD), and Jonathan G. Kline (PhD).

My first thought was ‘if someone has a copy of Hendrickson’s BHS Reader’s Edition (which contains as well all the Aramaic passages in the Hebrew Bible), what will this stand alone Aramaic reader provide that it doesn’t contain?’  The answer- much indeed.

First, and probably most importantly, the notes intended to aid readers are in many instances more complete than in the BHS edition.  The grammar of the Aramaic texts is offered without the (admittedly) sometimes confusing ‘encoding’ of the BHS counterpart.

Second, the limited nature of the Aramaic texts in the Old Testament allow the editors to provide a really fantastic supplement to what we find in the traditional ‘Aramaic Grammar’.  Indeed- the biblical text takes up barely 60 pages whilst the grammatical material extends from page 61 through page 233.  This volume, then, is the ideal text for a course introducing Aramaic to students familiar and competent in Hebrew.  It does not, however, take the place of a traditional Grammar but it brilliantly supplements such a volume.

Finally, whereas such volumes tend to normally be cursed with tiny print and tinier notes, this is a volume people outside of their teens will be able to see with ease and enjoy and, further, profit from enjoying.  The font is really lovely and the paper is thick enough so that there isn’t any annoying bleed through.  The entire presentation is crisp.

I recommend it without hesitation to those looking for a reader’s aid for Biblical Aramaic.  The editors are to be congratulated for a very useful tool and the publisher is to be thanked for bringing to us a work which will undoubtedly find its way to many classrooms and studies.

The Official Biblical Studies Carnival Posts at Midnight Plus One Minute Tonight

Stay tuned!

Zwingli in the News

Zwei Bücher über Huldrych Zwingli von Peter Opitz und Franz Rueb porträrieren den Zürcher Reformator mit verschiedenen Farbakzenten – und ergänzen einander.

The book by Opitz is fantastic.  I can’t vouch for Rueb’s, since I’ve not read it.  Do take a look at the essay.

Oh No, Here Come the ‘Happy Holidays’ Heathen

As Christmas season arrives, Christians across America have begun intense preparations to withstand the vicious attacks they expect to face during the month of December as coworkers, store employees, and even random passerby ruthlessly wish them “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” according to reports.

“It’s brutal,” complains Dave Coleman, who has celebrated Christmas his entire life. “People I don’t know, who may not even believe in Jesus, think they can just insult me in the street by invoking an all-encompassing phrase that acknowledges multiple faith traditions? How is that freedom of religion?”

Bloody pagans.

Helpful Hints To Make Your Christmas Festive…

downloadNT Wright’s books make perfect yuletide firelogs. #ProTip

Or More Accurately, Christian Pastor Twists Scripture To Make It Fit His Own Inclinations…

But that’s not theology, it’s heresy.  It isn’t exposition, it’s eisegesis.  Ya gotta love the guys who think that their navel gazing expositions and ‘reframings’ have merit and the publishers who pander to them simply because they address the latest societal buzzwords.  Toss LGBTQ into any title or subtitle and the substance of your research can be utter nonsense and Westminster will still publish it.


Authentic Equality

The left is as little interested in true equality as the right.  What each wants is personal advantage, not actual fairness.

The Post-2002 Dead Sea Scrolls-like Fragments: Pollutions in Accordance

“Pollutions” – that’s quite a word.

The Lying Pen of Scribes

Some of the post-2002 DSS-like fragments have polluted the DSS and Qumran modules in Accordance both on a corpus and manuscript level. This also has major statistical implications. In the following list I have listed all the post-2002 fragments that have made it into Accordance. I strongly recommend that they should be removed as they corrupt the dataset.


Elgvin, Torleif, Kipp Davis, and Michael Langlois, eds. Gleanings From the Caves: Dead Sea Scrolls and Artefacts from The Schøyen Collection. LTST 71. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2016.

Eshel, Esther, and Hanan Eshel. “A New Fragment of the Book of the Watchers from Qumran (XQpapEnoch).” Tarbiz 73 (2004): 171–79 [Hebrew]; V [English Abstract].
Eshel, Esther, and Hanan Eshel. “A Preliminary Report on Seven New Fragments from Qumran.” Meghillot 5-6 (2007): 271-78.

_____. “New Fragments from Qumran: 4QGenf, 4QIsab, 4Q226, 8QGen, and XQpapEnoch.” DSD 12 (2005):…

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The 2016 ETS Septuagint Studies Consultation in Review

From William. I Wish I could have heard Peter’s paper.

Septuaginta &c.

20161117_184556099_iosIf you’re involved in biblical studies then you are aware that thousands of scholars are still catching up on sleep and icing knees due to all the activity of last week’s annual conferences in San Antonio, TX. People from various corners of the earth and of diverse theological stripes gathered for up to seven days straight to discuss their work, catch up with colleagues, buy books, and eat their year’s worth of tacos on the Riverwalk.

I have posted previously about the Septuagint Studies session held at ETS in 2015, which was subsequently granted consultation status for 2016-2018. We had our first session this year (see here), which I had the unexpected pleasure of moderating. Considering how well it went, I wanted to take the time to highlight it one last time.

An Overview of the Presentations

Stanley Porter

The first paper was by Dr. Stanley Porter of…

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Congress Deserves a 50% Pay Cut


Pope Franky is Offering Indulgences at Half Off for Cyber Monday!

indulgenceEven though far more Catholics shopped online than in churches on Black Friday weekend, they are apparently not done yet.

A new EOTT survey released Sunday estimates that some 67-million Roman Catholics will shop online for their remission of temporal punishment in purgatory due for sins after absolution on Cyber Monday. That’s up only slightly from last year’s 65-million shoppers.

With Walmart and Amazon recently entering the Cyber Monday indulgence “game,” the Church is now offering heavy discounts as well, not only online but, more crucially, in churches. That move, which reflects how penitents shopped for forgiveness in 2016, is also meant to lower the stress of the Vatican website, which last year buckled under the intense eSpiritual-commerce pressure that naturally comes with Cyber Monday.

The evidence of the migration of “church shopping” to eSpiritual-commerce is incontrovertible: Eternal Fortune Magazine told EOTT on Sunday that eSpiritual-commerce sales between Thanksgiving and Saturday rose 13.7% to top $6.1 billion in new indulgences.

“The brick-and-mortar churches have made a big leap with their online efforts this year,” USCCB analyst Devin Thomas told EOTT yesterday. “They’re starting to get it. The USCCB says 63% of Black Friday indulgences placed on their website came from mobile devices…something we believe shows Catholics are growing more comfortable with pushing the “forgive me” button on smartphones.

Glory!  He really is a Pope for all the uncommitted (and those planning to stay that way!)

Caveat emptor! A note to Christie’s prospective buyers

Take note, antiquarians…

Roberta Mazza

a-large-egyptian-bronze-isis-and-horusthird-intermediate-period-25th-dynasty One of the bronze statuettes on sale (Resandro Collection)

Are you going to join next 6th December Christie’s auction of Egyptian antiquities in London King Street? If so, be aware that Christie’s people seem to be in some confusion about Egyptian legislation related to cultural heritage protection and the concept of provenance. In their Collecting Guide, under point 6 entitled “Pay Attention to Provenance” (indeed…) antiquities specialist C. Corti writes the following:

“Provenance is important in all fields of collecting, and particularly with Egyptian bronzes. It is essential to check whether the piece you are interested in was extracted from the ground and exported from Egypt before 1983, when the country passed a law forbidding artefacts to be removed from its borders. A history of important collectors is also desirable, as in the Resandro Collection, within which many pieces boast prestigious provenance as well as having appeared in numerous exhibitions…

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Neolithic dairy farming and the land flowing with milk and honey…

Interesting stuff!

animalia biblica

Ramla, Palestine, 1938. Ramla, Palestine, 1938.

A recent study by a team of scientists and archaeologists from the Universities of York and Bristol, together with colleagues from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, have reported evidence of dairy production and processing in northern Mediterranean farming communities from Neolithic times. The identification of milk and bovine carcass fats in over 500 pottery vessels, as well as a study of faunal remains for slaughter patterns, at over 82 sites from the 7th-5th millennia BCE suggests that dairy farming was an important (if localised) element within farming communities at this time. The report helps to provide a clearer picture of the place and role of cattle exploitation in Neolithic Mediterranean farming and, although the research is centred on northern sites, it could strengthen the case for a mixed agricultural economy in the southern Levant.

Damascus cow (modern) native to Syria. Image: Damascus cow (modern) native to Syria. Image: from My Daily…

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Idolatry is Idolatry

Pretending that the Constitution is infallible and the Founding Fathers inerrant is the most idolatrous thing Americans do.

An Ancient Text That Speaks to the American Present

Woe to her who is rebellious and polluted, To the oppressing city!  She has not obeyed His voice, She has not received correction; She has not trusted in the LORD, She has not drawn near to her God.  Her princes in her midst are roaring lions; Her judges are evening wolves That leave not a bone till morning. Her prophets are insolent, treacherous people; Her priests have polluted the sanctuary, They have done violence to the law.  The LORD is righteous in her midst, He will do no unrighteousness. Every morning He brings His justice to light; He never fails, But the unjust knows no shame. –  (Zeph. 3:1-5)

Let those who have ears, hear.

It’s Time to Line Up Your Devotional Reading for 2017

Zwingli and Bullinger have a recommendation for you:

ZwingliBullingerDevotionalBook2We love this book. Love it. LOVE IT. Never in the history of Christianity has a book so profound been made available to the masses for a price so reasonable. Reading it is a theological education in a single volume which contains everything necessary for both salvation and proper doctrine.

Were we more excited about it we would resemble tiny puppies laying on their backs getting their bellies rubbed and wetting themselves. That’s how excited we are about this book. – H.B., H.Z.

Wow. I’m super humbled and super honored. First a video recommendation a few months back and now this (again). I just don’t know what to say.

The book is available from the publisher via print on demand, here.  Or you can get a PDF directly from the author for $10 here.