Daily Archives: 10 Jan 2018

Read this Essay on Presidential Grade Levels by Nina

It’s quite interesting.

An Open Letter to High Point Church, Memphis, and Andy Savage

“The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Rom 2:24)

This Is Why Journalists Should Leave Biblical Interpretation Alone…

Along with most people.

Baby Jesus was a Dreamer in Egypt

Jesus wasn’t a dreamer in Egypt.  He wasn’t a refugee. He wasn’t even in Egypt.  Matthew’s account has him ‘go down to Egypt’ for one reason only- so that he can make use of the text in Hosea which says ‘out of Egypt have I called my son’; i.e., to identify Jesus with Israel.  This is why journalists should leave biblical interpretation alone. They don’t know what they heck they’re doing.

Geesh.  Such stupidity.

2018 Septuagint Summer School in Salzburg

Go if you can go.

Septuaginta &c.

This summer there is a great opportunity to learn more about the Septuagint with a leading scholar in the discipline at the University of Salzburg. Now for the second year in a row, Dr. Kristin De Troyer is offering a week-long summer school dealing with textual criticism and history.

As I have said before, if you are a graduate student considering further study in Septuagint, you should consider being supervised by De Troyer in the beautiful city of Salzburg.

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The Only Commentary Your Parents or Children Will Ever Read

The ‘Person in the Pew’ commentary series is the only series of Commentaries written by a single person on the entire Bible and aimed at layfolk in modern history.


The books are all available from yours truly for a paltry $199 by clicking my PayPal Link.  It’s a good commentary. But don’t take my word for it:

Saint Paul knew more than I can ever imagine about Christians living in tension with the Gospel and with each other, and his several letters to the Church in Corinth are pivotal to the entire New Testament. Which is why I am so pleased to mention here some recent commentaries by a friend of mine, Jim West, on I and II Corinthians.

Subtitled ‘for the Person in the Pew’, and published by Quartz Hill Publishing House of Quartz Hill School of Theology, California, these two commentaries are in fact part of a much larger project by West to write similar commentaries on every book of the Bible, and to make them available in print and electronically for everyone to read. That project is now nearly completed and the results are tremendous.

I think there are three main reasons why these commentaries are so successful. First, West is a first-class Biblical scholar, one who makes the intelligent critical study of the text central to his theological interpretation. That commitment is rarer than one might imagine and to have it realized across the entire Bible is an astonishing feat that gives us now a unique resource.

Second, and delightfully, Jim West is a great writer: his pages fizz with sharp words and phrases and he appears incapable of saying anything boring about these texts. This ability keeps us reading along with him and, more importantly, reading along with Saint Paul. I have rarely come across any Christian writing project, aimed at ‘the person in the pew’, that has succeeded so brilliantly in bringing alive its subject matter.

Third, West couldn’t dodge an issue if his life depended on it, which can be an uncomfortable position for a Christian theologian. Corinth, as with most churches in most places, had some strange people believing and practising some odd things. The knack, as West points out, is to engage them endlessly with love and grace rather than self-righteous anger, but to engage them: ‘Paul lived with a purpose. And he urges the Corinthians to do the same. As we all who name the name of Christ must’ (West on I Cor. 9:27, p.60).

I am going to be talking to Jim about making these commentaries available through Ming Hua’s website, but inspect them for yourselves if you have the time: you will find them a superb companion to your own reading of the Bible and, as importantly, a great reminder of just how much the early Church struggled with some of the same problems we face now.

Gareth Jones, Principal
Ming Hua Theological College
Hong Kong

The Tell All Book: From the Bible’s ‘Esther’ to ‘Fire and Fury’

Sarah Bond writes

Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White Househas been flying off shelves since its publication. In addition to bookstore purchases and Kindle downloads, the book is now also the most pirated in recent history. While the characters may be new, the genre is not.

Eyewitness exposés that report palace intrigue, backstabbing and salacious gossip are as old as civilization itself. In the ancient Mediterranean, readers similarly clamored for tell-all books that revealed the juicy details of life among the ruling elite.

The Old Testament contains an early example of writing focused on the inner workings of a palace and imperial court, though (much like Wolff) it is difficult to say if some of the tales are historical fact, fiction or a mix of the two. In the book of Esther within the Jewish Tanakhwe are introduced to a Hebrew woman named Hadassah. She is later known by her Persian name, Esther. The tale takes place during the Achaemenid dynasty of the 5th century BCE although it was likely written about two centuries later. The Achaemenids were the powerful Persian rulers of the Near East depicted rather inaccurately in the movie 300. 

Esther’s story occurs when the court was stationed in Susa, now near the border of modern Iraq and Iran. She is taken into the royal harem and lavished with cosmetics, pampering and sumptuous clothing, all while constantly attending feasts. In ancient literature and even today, how we eat can say a lot about who we are. Thus just as Persian feasting demonstrated moral decay to Jews reading the book of Esther, Wolff’s anecdote about Trump eating McDonald’s in bed for fear of being poisoned is meant by the author to reveal a princely paranoia.

Eventually, Esther’s immersion in the Persian life of luxury pays off: She becomes queen and then saves her people from being killed. Yet the book is a rather odd one within the texts that make up the Old Testament in its lack of religious focus. It does not even employ the word “Yahweh,” and is what many scholars have termed a kind of novella that reports on the differences between the Persian court and the Jewish people. It also allowed Jewish readers an insider’s look into a foreign demimonde that they did not have access to.

Etc.  Fun stuff.  Thanks Sarah!

The Hezekiah Syndrome

I call it the ‘Hezekiah Syndrome’. It’s when people get sick, make all kinds of promises to God, get well, and completely forget everything they promised, thus returning to live lives which only beg for an answer to the question- why did God keep them here?

I have to say, I’ve never known anyone who, in that situation, actually lived up to what they promised God. Not one. I do, however, know of and can relate countless examples of the contrary.

When sick perhaps the best question we can ask ourselves is- why should God keep me around? I’d wager that for most, if honest, the answer would be ‘I dunno’.

Quote of the Day

It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife; but every fool will be quarreling. (Prov. 20:3)

The Standard for Leaders in the Church

The wrongdoing at Highpoint ‘Church’ in Memphis should remind every Church, and every Christian, that Scripture declares

… the presiding elder must have an impeccable character. (1 Tim. 3:2)

If that isn’t the standard for your Church leadership, you should drop the facade and call yourself a club.  To be sure, perfection isn’t required, but impeccable character is.  And if you, as a member of Church staff, used your position, at any time, to sexually assault a child, your character has disqualified you for service.  Period.  End of story.

You needn’t be excluded from the Church if repentance has occurred, but you have no business being a minister of any sort.

Katholische Reformationen

Tagung an der Bischöflichen Akademie Aachen, 17. / 18. Februar 2018.

“Protestant seit 1517” konnte man auf einem Werbeprodukt in Wittenberg jüngst lesen.

Aber gab es vor 500 Jahren schon “Protestanten”?

War gar Martin Luther der ersten Protestant? Unsere Tagung geht davon aus, dass Reform ein Dauerthema zu Beginn des 16. Jahrhunderts war. Vor diesem Hintergrund nehmen wir die nicht-reformatorischen Reformen in den Blick und wagen so einmal eine andere Perspektive auf Luther und seine Zeitgenossen in Sachsen, Bayern und im Rheinland.

Referenten: Prof. Dr. Volker Leppin, Tübingen; Prof. Dr. Bernward Schmidt, Aachen; Prof. Dr. Peter Walter, Freiburg; u.a.


Online weiterlesen


Why Do We Have a New Testament?

According to James Barr, R.H. Lightfoot once claimed that the origin of the New Testament should be sought in the moment the early Chris­tians, under the impression of the first Roman persecutions, lost faith in the survival of their religion. As a result of their fear, they decided to write down their traditions and recollections, in order that these might not be lost or deliberately perverted.  (Cited by NP Lemche in his essay ‘The Old Testament: A Hellenistic Book).

Lightfoot is probably right.  And if so, it’s a good thing that they were driven by the fear of extinction.  History has shown their fear to be misplaced but the result of that fear is itself a historical monument without which the world would be an utterly different place.

Fun Facts From Church History: The ‘You Shouldn’t Imagine Yourself a Preacher, Melchior Hoffmann’ Edition

luther33Melchior Hoffmann, a furrier from Swabia … believed he had a call to preach the gospel. He had been deeply influenced by the writings of Luther, but like so many others he also toyed with chiliastic-mystical phantasmagorias. Expelled from Wolmar, he came to Dorpat late in 1524, and on January 10, 1525, his adherents stormed churches and monasteries, destroying pictures and statues. When the city council grew suspicious of the new arrival and insisted that Hoffmann should bring proper recommendations, he went to Wittenberg in person and persuaded both Luther and Bugenhagen to direct letters to the Livonians, to which he also added one of his own. But in the ensuing years he leaned more and more toward the enthusiasts, and within a few years Luther was prompted to call him a dreamer and false prophet who should return to his furrier’s trade.*

There are a whole lot of people who are better suited to killing animals than preaching. Unfortunately most don’t have the sense to know it.
*Luther’s Works, vol. 53: Liturgy and Hymns, p. 43.