Monthly Archives: November 2018

Dershowitz Exposed

At least now we know why Dershowitz is so servile to Trump.


Anyone who is not with me is against me, and anyone who does not gather in with me throws away. (Matt. 12:30)

Eerdmans Advent Fun


Quote of the Day

“Ist Gott im Herzen des Menschen, so werden göttliche Werke daraus kommen, wie die Hitze aus dem Ofen, wenn Feuer darin ist.  Wie die Redner sagen: Wo einem ein Handel ein herzliches Anliegen ist, so wird tapfer davon geredet; wo nicht, da ist alles saft-und kraftlos.” – Huldrych Zwingli (Sermon on Jeremiah, 17).

The Zwingli Film Poster

I’m more excited about this film than you Star Wars weirdos are about any Star Wars movie ever made or that will ever be made.

Covenant and Coherence in Tyndale’s Theology (I)

Great review of a neat sounding book.

The Crux of History

Werrell, Ralph S. The Theology of William Tyndale. Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 2006. 242 pp. $52.50.

In his 2006 publication The Theology of William Tyndale, Ralph S. Werrell, a co-founder of the Tyndale Society, introduces the world to a new perspective on Tyndale. Born in Gloucestershire, England, in the late fifteenth century, Tyndale would later, as an exile on the European continent, promote the Reformation of the church in his homeland. Although he wrote numerous theological treatises, his major contribution to this cause was his English translation of the whole New Testament and parts of the Old Testament from the original languages. He died for this cause in 1536, strangled and burned at the stake in the town of Vilvorde, Belgium.[1]For this reason alone, Tyndale’s theological writings deserve further contemplation, and Werrell’s book is a welcome contribution to this field of study.

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Sad News: Paul Ellingworth Has Died

Via the undersigned-

Dear colleagues,

I have just received the sad news of the death of our long-time seminar member and friend, Paul Ellingworth. You will remember Paul as a regular participant at the seminar, until in the last few years the ill-health of his wife and the distance from Hawarden to his home in Aberdeen prevented him from joining us. The last paper he gave was at the 2014 seminar and, very fittingly, was on the subject of “The Law in Hebrews”. You will all have your own memories of his scholarship and his humanity, but I’m sure that they will include many instances of your experience of his kindness, modesty and gentle sense of humour. I certainly remember how nervous I was when I attended my first ever Hawarden seminar and realised that Paul would be there to hear my paper on the OT in Hebrews! Of course, I need not have worried, as I received only help and encouragement from him then and since. I will contact his son later today with a message of condolence on our behalf.

Some of you will already have received this news via the British NT Society or other fora, but, for the benefit of those who haven’t, I am pasting in below the details circulated by the Secretary of the BNTS.

Best wishes,
Susan Docherty

Professor Paul Ellingworth

We have received the sad news of the death of Professor Paul Ellingworth on Sunday last, 25 November from Richard, his second (of three) sons. Professor Ellingworth taught at the University of Aberdeen, and worked with the United Bible Societies as a translation consultant for many years, as well as publishing his major commentary on Hebrews (NIGTC), as well as many other published books, articles and essays.

The funeral service will be at 11.00 am on Wednesday 5 December at: Aberdeen Funeral Directors, 49 Causeway End, Aberdeen AB25 3TQ, and Richard Ellingworth says that members of the Society would be very welcome to attend. If you wish to attend the service, and optionally the funeral tea that follows, please let Richard know, either by email<> or phone 01224 314843<tel:01224%20314843>.

The funeral tea after the service will be at: the Palm Court Hotel, 81 Seafield Road, Aberdeen AB15 7YX.

Steve Walton, BNTS

Scripture For the Day

Which of you here, intending to build a tower, would not first sit down and work out the cost to see if he had enough to complete it? Otherwise, if he laid the foundation and then found himself unable to finish the work, anyone who saw it would start making fun of him and saying, “Here is someone who started to build and was unable to finish.”  (Lk. 14:28-30)

Doubt is Easier than Faith

A question was proposed by Master Ignatius, a student of sacred literature, on the day before the Kalentis of December, 1532 [i.e., 30 November]: Why do we more readily believe Satan when he terrifies than Christ when he consoles? The question was answered by Dr. Martin Luther: “Because we are better equipped to doubt than to hope; because hope comes from the Spirit of God but despair comes from our own spirit. Accordingly God has forbidden it [despair] under severe penalty. That we more easily believe penalty than reward is a product of the reason or spirit of man. Hoping and believing are different from thinking and speculating. Reason sees death before it, and it’s impossible for reason not to be terrified by it. Likewise we can’t be persuaded [by our reason] that God gives his Son and loves us so much, and hence we say, ‘You have not allowed your Son to be crucified for nothing!’ This is above reason. That God is so merciful, not on account of my works but on account of his Son, is incomprehensible. – Luther’s Table Talk

Calvin the Impatient

calvin_budapestAlas, it is true that with none of my great and numerous shortcomings have I wrestled harder than with such impatience.  Yes, I am making some progress but I have never reached the point yet of keeping this wild beast completely under control. — John Calvin

If You Want a Beautiful Facsimile Edition of the First Bible Printed…

Get this two volume edition from the German Bible Society for 100 Euro

It’s beautiful.  Here are my remarks about it.

Don’t get this one, which costs 6 times as much and is a mere 1 volume (which means it’s reduced in size and thus not a true facsimile)-


For this to work there have to be arrows. The bow is a promise of peace precisely because there are no arrows.

So, nope.

Claims That Pilate’s Ring Have Been Found Should Provoke Healthy Skepticism…

Or you lot haven’t learned a bloody thing from the Museum of the Bible Dead Sea Scrolls fiasco.

Ha’aretz reports

Ring of Roman Governor Pontius Pilate Who Crucified Jesus Found in Herodion Site in West Bank

The ring was found during a dig led by Professor Gideon Forster from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem 50 years ago, but only now has the inscription been deciphered.

Oh sure.  RT says

His name was deciphered on the ring after it, and thousands of other finds, were handed over to the team currently working on the historical site. Pilate was an infamous Roman governor of Jerusalem in the years 26 to 36 who also allegedly ran Jesus’ trial.

After a thorough cleansing, the ring was photographed using a special camera at the Israel Antiquities Authority Labs, revealing the crucial name. The stamping ring bears a picture of a wine vessel surrounded by Greek writing that translated into “Pilatus.”

What are the exact provenance details?  Any photos of the find in situ?  If not why not?  What details does the ‘official’ publication in IEJ have that aren’t included in the sensationalist press releases?

Be skeptical, people.  Sure, the find might turn out to be totally legit.  But if you aren’t skeptical you aren’t doing your job as a scholar.

UPDATE:  Phil Long writes on the Biblical Studies group page:

Here is a link to the Times of Israel article, not behind a paywall. Good photograph and rendering of the ring. From the article, “The scientific analysis of the ring was published in the stalwart biannual Israel Exploration Journal last week, by the 104-year-old Israel Exploration Society.” The article in IEJ was entitled, “An Inscribed Copper-Alloy Finger Ring from Herodium Depicting a Krater,” but that does not sell newspapers. 

Key quote: “The authors, however, conclude that there is nothing in the ring’s design that makes it particularly either Roman or elite. They write that during the Second Temple period, the vessel “served as a meaningful Jewish symbol on sealing rings.””…/

So what we have, once again, is an unsubstantiated, exaggerated claim without any scholarly underpinning. Just in time for Christmas…

The Best Tweet of the Year


There is Only One Legitimate Hermeneutical Goal

So if your biblical hermeneutic is anything other than the quest for the text’s authorial intent , you aren’t an exegete, you are an agenda driven eisegete.

Those Confusing Verse Numbers

UPDATE:  Link corrected. Sorry.

David Instone-Brewer observes

Imagine that you are sending a letter of condolence to a Catholic friend. As you finish, you want them to find strength in the words “Even though I walk through the valley…”, so you add at the end of your letter “Psalm 23:4”. However, when they open their Bible, they read: “The innocent in hands, and clean of heart, who hath not … sworn deceitfully to his neighbour”. This is Psalm 24:4 in most English Bibles but it is Psalm 23:4 in traditional Catholic Bibles (use “look inside” at Your friend might conclude that you are hinting at some old grievance!

We tend to think that all Bibles have the same chapters and verses, because most English Bibles do. The standard popularised by the King James Version is widely used, but non-English Bibles display a bewildering variety of numbering. We might dismiss these as irrelevant till we try to follow a commentary. Even commentaries not written in English tend to follow English standard numbering, for commercial reasons. So when a reference is given, in which Bible should we look up the text? Bible scholars have a related problem: whenever they cite a Bible reference, they need to add the Hebrew or Greek reference if it is different.

A recent article by Peter Williams in THink magazine  (see summarises the long history of adding verse and chapter numbers to Bibles, from the rabbis who determined where verses ended, to Estienne who divided up the New Testament while riding on horseback. Marking a text while on a bumpy ride may explain why Beza had to make so many corrections in his edition. This means there are about 100 places where Bibles disagree about where precisely a verse divides. However, these differences are minor compared with the Old Testament.


Depending Entirely Upon What You Read, of Course

We can all surely agree that reading some things will make you even more ignorant.  That said, reading GOOD BOOKS can seriously damage your ignorance.

Aren Maeir is Offering a MOOC on Archaeology

You should sign up-

Dear colleagues, friends, Minervites and Safiites,

Hi! I would like to bring to your attention, or remind you about, the online Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) entitled: “Biblical Archaeology: The archaeology of ancient Israel and Judah”, which will commence next week, on Wednesday, December 5th, 2018.

This innovative course, which I believe in many ways is a first for courses on the archaeology of the ancient near east in general and Israel/Palestine specifically, will deal with the archaeology of Israel/Palestine/Southern Levant during the Iron Age, with specific focus on Israel and Judah, and will also deal with other cultures as well.

The course will not only introduce Iron Age archaeology, but will also serve as a general introduction to archaeology, discussing theory and methods as used in archaeological research today. The course will include 8 “lessons” that will go online once a week. Each lesson will include several subsections, each with several short videos, texts to read, various activities for the students (including 3D models of choice archaeological objects so that students can “hold” some of the objects), and knowledge checks and quizzes. In addition, there are reading materials (mandatory and recommended). A very special part of the course are several interviews with leading scholars in Biblical Archaeology and related topics.

The course is open for all (all you have to do is register at: While it is aimed as an introductory course (equivalent of a one semester course) for students without any background, I believe it can serve as a nice introduction to archaeology and to biblical archaeology for students studying archaeology and related fields.

In addition, I believe it would be very nicely incorporated in a more advanced class, in which sections of the MOOC could be shown and discussed and debated (and I’m sure there is plenty to debate…).

Please bring this to the attention of your colleagues, students and interested lay people, who will join the hundreds who have already signed up for the course!

See below the course trailer.

If I may add, working on the course has been a very enjoyable and enhancing learning experience for me! This is a new method of learning/teaching, which I feel is a nice example of putting some fresh directions into the methods used in traditional academic teaching. I have tried in the course to convey my excitement both for archaeology, and also for this new method of teaching!

I hope you, your colleagues and students, who will sign up for the course, will thoroughly enjoy it – and of course – argue with me about all kinds of things that are in the course!

Once again, here is the link to the course:

All the best,

Three New Works from TVZ

New, from Ulrich Luz:

New, from Adrian Schenker

And new from the folk at the Great Minster

Signs of the Times