Daily Archives: 9 Apr 2018

How the Museum of the Bible Lies About Biblical Scholarship

With thanks to Jonathan Stökl for pointing this out.

The MOTB masquerades as an educational institution, all the while quietly partnering with organizations like Johnston’s CTS who are able to do the work the MOTB’s official mission statement precludes museum officials from doing directly. What we are left with is a mutually beneficial pseudo-academic partnership. What we are left with is a museum pretending to be something it’s not, an evangelical wolf in scholarly sheep’s clothing—whose officials are more than happy to stand by, and even encourage, slippage around what the aims and claims of biblical scholarship actually are. It is not a pretty picture.

Enemies and Friends of the State: Ancient Prophecy in Context

Within the world of the Bible, prophets and prophetesses were sometimes ardent proponents of royal and priestly rhetoric and deeds, but they could also be vocal critics, speaking truth to power. Enemies and Friends of the State plumbs the depths of the prophetic voices of the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament Apocrypha, and the Greek New Testament, with more than twenty-five of the most distinguished scholars in the field of biblical studies contributing articles. The volume also includes articles on prophecy in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Syria, and Transjordan. In addition, articles at the beginning of the volume on the nature of the state and of prophecy provide a context for the discussion of prophecy both inside and outside ancient Israel, and a concluding essay discusses the views of Josephus and the Rabbis on prophecy. Because of the breadth and depth of this volume, Enemies and Friends of the State is certain to be the standard treatment of this subject for a generation.

It’s edited by Chris Rollston, so I’m sure it will be good.

Zwingli lesen

Ulrich Zwingli war ein epochaler Denker. Zwingli lesen bedeutet, an diesem Denken und Argumentieren teilzuhaben.

Dieses Lesebuch enthält deshalb die zentralen Texte von Zwingli selbst – und zwar in verständlichem heutigem Deutsch. Darüber hinaus wird jeder Text eingeleitet und kommentiert. Vollständig wiedergegeben werden: Das Pestlied (1520), Die Klarheit und Gewissheit des Wortes Gottes (1522), die 67 Thesen oder Artikel (1523), Göttliche und menschliche Gerechtigkeit (1523), Eine freundschaftliche und ernstliche Ermahnung der Eidgenossen (1524), die beiden Berner Predigten (1528) und das Kappelerlied (um 1529). Auszüge aus weiteren Texten und einige zentrale Briefe Zwinglis ergänzen den Band.

Die Auswahl greift die wichtigsten Themen und biografischen Stationen des Reformators auf. Wer diese Texte kennt, kann über Zwingli kompetent mitreden.

TVZ have provided a review copy.  And I’d like to first offer a photo of the table of contents- not merely to show what the volume contains, although that’s quite important- but to show how really very lovely the font is.  And the photo doesn’t do it justice.


As to the works by Zwingli included here, the choices made by our learned editors are extremely appropriate.   These short works all show the mind of Zwingli at its most brilliant and the mixture of letters and theological treatises is superb.  Those looking for a first hand introduction to Zwingli’s theological notions, via primary rather than secondary sources, should start here.  And then proceed to the 4 volume collection of Zwingli’s works in modern German by the same publisher.  And then on to the critical edition, also by the same publisher.  With these volumes, this publisher is living up to the first name by which it was known- the Zwingli Verlag, Zurich.

The contents of the present work are punctuated by excerpts from Bullinger’s Reformationshgeschichte where color illustrations, by hand, are included in that fabled tome.


I have to admit that I find such inclusions utterly endearing.  I love this publisher because it constantly produces volumes that really, really matter.  This is such a volume.  It is a work of art and a work of scholarship.

Concerning the translations of these key works by Zwingli with which this volume is populated; they are incredibly well crafted.  Zwingli is very, very hard to translate simply because he works in his own 16th century Swiss German and Latin.  He likes words, and like Luther he was super at creating new ones and using old ones in new ways.  This makes him both incredibly fun to read and incredibly hard to translate for modern folk.  Indeed, Zwingli’s German and Luther’s German were so different that the two theologians couldn’t understand each other at Marburg and had to use Latin.  Because Zwingli’s language is so arcane, anyone capable of translating that language into a modern language should receive a prize of some sort.  And that goes doubly for those who do it well like Opitz and Saxer.

Take, for instance, this bit from the sermon ‘On the Clarity and Certainty of the Word of God‘ from the critical edition from 1522-

Zum zehenden. Empfindstu, das es dich gewüß macht der gnaden gottes und ewigen heils, so ist es von got.

And now the modern German rendering-

10.  Spürst Du, dass dir die Gnade Gottes und das ewige Heil zur Gewissheit werden, so ist das von Gott.

I challenge you to do better.  I don’t think it can be done.

Opitz and Saxer have assemble as well a very brief but useful bibliography (though it pains me that my own work on Zwingli is not included) and they include footnotes in the body of the text but these are kept to a bare minimum.  At the conclusion of each text they also have the original source cited so interested persons can make their way to it.  And, finally, at the very end of the volume is an index of chief subjects so that if readers want to look in on Zwingli’s understanding of ‘Taufe’, for instance, the pages where that subject is touched upon are easily discovered.

By now readers of this review have surely sensed that I think in highly commendable.  If they haven’t, allow me to say it more forthrightly: I love this book.  Not just because it’s Zwingli, but because it’s so well done.  I recommend it to you.  Without hesitation or ambiguity.  It’s super.

The Haifa University Dead Sea Scrolls Project…

Is on Facebook now.

The NRA Is Beholden to Russia

The National Rifle Association may have accepted more contributions from Russian donors than it first acknowledged, new documents show.

A Russian citizen who works for a U.S.-sanctioned arms manufacturer was arrested earlier this year when he tried to board a flight from Los Angeles to Moscow carrying a rifle scope — one authorities say requires an export license.

The man, Evgeny Spiridonov, said in court documents filed as part of his case that he was an NRA member. Spiridonov, who has ties to weapons-maker Kalashnikov Concern, said in the documents he has been an NRA member since 2015. Membership requires a monetary contribution.

That’s at least one more Russian member than a lawyer for the NRA acknowledged in an interview with ABC News: Outside counsel Steven Hart told the network that the NRA had received just one contribution from a Russian individual between 2012 and 2018, for less than $1,000.

That was the life membership payment made by a Russian government official, Alexander Torshin, and was not used for any of the NRA’s election-related political activities, Hart said.

On Friday, Torshin was among a number of powerful Russians punished with new economic sanctions by the Treasury Department.

Read the whole.  And go ahead, send the NRA your hard earned money.  The Russians are.  Why shouldn’t you support what they support….

Liz Fried’s Ezra Commentary is Now in Paperback

Via the publisher-

Sheffield Phoenix Press is pleased to announce a new publication of one of its titles in paperback, Lisbeth S. Fried’s Ezra: A Commentary. The price will be £29.50 / $34.50 / €32.50, compared to the previous list price of the hardback, £60 / $95 / €75. You can order the book from our website, https://www.sheffieldphoenix.com,

Fox News: The Least Trusted Cable News Network

Fox News aired this graphic, accidentally…  It shows that 70% of Fox News viewers don’t trust it.

Modern Europe meets Reform

If you go, do make a report.

History and Theology

University of Leeds, Room 1.08 Parkinson Building
Woodhouse Lane – Leeds
Date / time  12 April – 13 April

2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

‘Modern Europe meets Reform’ is a workshop that aims to investigate the development of historical writing about the medieval church across the period from the Reformation to the twentieth century. We hope this will bring together medievalists and modernists and create new areas for debate. Confirmed speakers include: Stefan Bauer (York), Joshua Bennett (Oxford), Julian Fuehrer (Zurich), Daniel-Odon Hurel (CNRS Paris), Stephen Taylor (Durham) and Nicholas Vincent (UEA).

I (Stefan Bauer) will speak about “Onofrio Panvinio’s view of Gregory VII in his history of papal elections (1558-1563)”.

Modern Europe meets Reform’ is part of a larger international project entitled ‘Rethinking Reform 900-1150: Conceptualising Change in Medieval Religious Institutions’, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. It brings together scholars from across Europe to focus on how changes in…

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On laughing at students’ mistakes

I admit- the ‘mistake reports’ are often funny but personally I have never and would not ever publicly mock students. It just feels wrong.

Jesus’s Female Disciples

You can watch it if you missed it, here. But just for 29 days and just if you live in Britain. If you live elsewhere, like most of the world does, you can click play but the only thing that happens is nothing.

Hensley Henson Lectures 2018 with Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch

The Hensley Henson lectures for 2017-18 are based on Prof. MacCulloch’s six-year-long project of writing a new life of Thomas Cromwell. Grounded in a new examination of Cromwell’s vast and complex archive, they reassess the religion and religious policies of the man at the heart of the revolution in the early Tudor Church. They scrutinise his complex relationship with his King and the personal agendas that he pursued as the only Vice-Gerent in Spirituals in the history of the kingdom.

There are many surprises in the story of the first stages in the Tudor Protestant Reformation and in the dissolution of English, Welsh and Irish monasteries.

In four lectures, we will pursue them into the archives and assess their meaning.

Go if you can.  If you can’t, be sad, like I am, that you can’t….

The Anniversary of Bonhoeffer’s Death

BPK 10.016.073

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

9 April, 1945.  That’s the day Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the worst well known German theologian of the 20th century (aside from Tillich), died in prison where he was ensconced for taking part in a plot to kill Hitler.  Indeed, had he not been made famous by his participation in the plot, no one would even know his name.  His fame, then, proceeds not from his theological insights but rather from his criminal past.

Should Hitler have been killed?  1000 times.  Should a theologian have taken part in planning or participating in it?  Nope.  The government should have executed Hitler.  Those wielding the power of the Sword, not the power of the Word, are wholly responsible for the maintenance of the State.  Theologians are wholly responsible for the maintenance of the soul.

Bonhoeffer failed his calling.  He is neither hero nor martyr.  Martyr’s die as innocents and heroes maintain their ethics.