The Darkness of Paganism- It is Very Dark Indeed

On Oct. 24, a 4-year-old girl went missing from her home in the Charaideo district of upper Assam, a mostly tribal state in northeast India. Last Monday, the child’s body was found in a forest about 75 to 90 yards from the Ratanpur tea estate where she lived with her parents. She had been decapitated and her arms had been severed. Both her arms and her head were found scattered near the body on the forest floor.

The horrific dismembering was allegedly the result of a 14-year-old girl, who lived in the same village, losing her mobile phone. Wanting it back, her parents — Hanuman Bhumij and his wife, Many Bhumij — turned to black magic, police said. As Prasanta Phukan, an inspector in charge of the Sonari Police Station in Assam, told The Washington Post, many in the remote tribal area are uneducated and steeped in superstition.

Paganism’s darkness is very dark indeed.  Such is the state of utter godlessness.

What is Going on Down in Atlanta with SBL’s Executive Board?

John Cook writes

Dear Colleagues,

We want to share with you our disappointment and concern over the recent downgrading of  the Linguistic and Biblical Hebrew program unit from a section to a seminar (on the distinction, see here) by the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting Program Committee. We are sharing this development with as many of our colleagues as possible, because it is deeply concerning in several respects and we think it deserves a response from the scholarly community.

First, it is concerning that the decision is being made by a committee as to what are in the interests of the scholarly community, rather than by the community itself. The very structure of program units (consultations, seminars, and sections) suggests that the community is the primary determiner of where its own scholarly interests lie. The Linguistics and Biblical Hebrew section has been an active and well-attended participant in the annual meeting for 30 years, contributing to biblical scholarship through its educative aims (see description of the program unit below) and the numerous publications that have emerged from the sessions.

Description of Linguistics and Biblical Hebrew program unit: The goals of this section include: (1) to provide a unique, cross-disciplinary forum for the application of modern linguistic theory and methodology to the study of biblical Hebrew; (2) to encourage interest in linguistics and its advantages for biblical exegesis and interpretation among biblical scholars who do not have prior training in linguistic theory; (3) to promote publication of scholarly works which apply linguistics to biblical Hebrew.

Second, we found the process of renewal to be confused and unprofessional. The decision was dragged out for almost half a year, during which time the steering committee worked to put together the sessions for 2016 without any certainty that the section would be allowed to continue.

There’s more, which do read.  I’m really concerned at a new sort of autoritarianism that seems to be manifesting itself in Atlanta.  I think we should all be concerned about it.

Reformation: Zentren – Akteure – Ereignisse

9783788730321A new volume from V&R by Irene Dingel sure to get the blood rushing.

Die Reformation, ein historischer Prozess, der auf eine umfassende kirchlich-theologische Erneuerung zielte und zugleich tiefgreifende Wirkungen in Kultur, Gesellschaft und Politik hervorbrachte, war für Europa ein einschneidendes Ereignis. Als ausschlaggebendes Datum gilt das Jahr 1517, in dem mit der Veröffentlichung der 95 Thesen Martin Luthers nicht nur das Nachdenken über zentrale theologische Fragen, sondern auch der Ruf nach Erneuerung von Kirche und Gesellschaft neue, kraftvolle Impulse erhielt. Dem standen gesellschaftliche und politische Entwicklungen sowie weitere reformatorische Ansätze in Europa zur Seite, die mit der 1517 von Wittenberg ausgehenden Bewegung in Interaktion traten.

Für die Reformatoren war die konsequente Orientierung an den Ausschließlichkeit beanspruchenden Grundsätzen “sola scriptura”, “solus Christus”, “sola gratia” und “sola fide” leitend, was sich in Glauben und Lehre, Frömmigkeit und Ritus niederschlug und zugleich das Leben des Einzelnen und der Gesellschaft tiefgreifend veränderte. Das Buch versucht, die Prozesse der Etablierung und Entfaltung der Reformation im Spannungsfeld der politischen Entwicklungen in Europa nachzuzeichnen.

Ein kurzer Blick auf die spätmittelalterlichen Strukturen in Politik, Gesellschaft und kirchlichem Leben dient dazu, das Substrat zu skizzieren, auf dem sich die Reformation entfaltete und von dem sie sich abgrenzte. Nicht nur Wittenberg und die von dort ausgehende Reformation kommt zu Sprache, sondern auch weitere reformatorische Zentren und ihre herausragenden Akteure, deren Ausstrahlung nicht nur den Westen, sondern auch den Osten Europas erreichte.

 The goodly folk at V&R have sent a review copy.

The volume at hand is a magnificent blending of chronological historical reconstruction and thematic investigation.  Interspersed between the descriptions of historical events Dingel provides deeper investigations of related important themes, providing the reader, thereby, with a work that is both scientific and enthralling.

She begins with a simple examination of the historical events leading up to the Reformation era including descriptions of the church as it then existed, piety as it was then practiced, and the swelling surge of reformatory impulses upon which Luther and Zwingli and Calvin found themselves.

She next turns her attention to the efforts of Luther and Melanchthon and then to Zwingli before she enters into an extensive thematic discussion of the controversies which embroiled the magisterial reformers.  After that, Martin Bucer takes center stage and he is followed by a discussion of images and the power of the State in the life of the Church.  Religious consensus, war, and peace all follow in their rightful place before Dingel turns her gaze to Geneva and Calvin’s reform.

Finally, Dingel does what biblical scholars would call ‘reception history’ and she looks at the various ways in which Reformation has manifested itself in the history of Europe’s western lands.

This very interesting exceptionally well organized volume concludes with the usual indices and registers.

Dingel is an amazingly good scholar.  Her ability to disentangle the mangled threads of history and to weave from those disentangled threads a clearer picture of people, places, and events is worthy of imitation (if we but had the skill to do it).  Students and scholars will learn a great deal from this volume.  Students chiefly the main impulses of Reform, and scholars an extremely clear example of how to write  historical exposition.

All can benefit from giving this work their undivided attention.

The Hilariously titled ‘Lead Sea Scrolls’ Case, Yet Again…

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has called for a fresh examination of the Jordanian Codices, a series of about 50 metal books variously described as a key find in Biblical archaeology and a crude fake, after tests showed they were not made from modern lead.

When the discovery of the codices, allegedly in a cave in northern Jordan, was announced in 2011, some compared it to the unearthing of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of texts dating as far back as the 4th century BC, in the West Bank from 1946.

But many academics say the supposedly early Christian codices are forgeries, with Dr Peter Thonemann, an Oxford classicist, describing the books as “moderately ingenious tourist tat”.


Tourist tat is complimentary.  They’re rubbish.  And they’ve been known to be rubbish for years.  All you would want to know about the rubbish things you can find here.