Daily Archives: 29 Nov 2018

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 Amazon.co.uk/dp/1935302051). 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 tyndalehouse.com/magazine) 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: https://www.edx.org/course/biblical-archaeology-the-archaeology-of-ancient-israel-and-judah). 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: https://www.edx.org/course/biblical-archaeology-the-archaeology-of-ancient-israel-and-judah

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

I’m Reading Lincoln Harvey’s Book…

My feelings towards it…  will appear in full in the Reading Religion review that will appear soon.  For now, let me say briefly that though I like Lincoln very much and though I enjoyed a couple of the essays (those by Harvey, Jenson, and Tilling) the majority of the contributions can be characterized by one word: awful.  Awful because rather, to be plainspoken, boring and irrelevant.  The attempts of Begbie, Wright, and especially Green try too hard to be clever and the result is anything but.  S. Wright’s was simply unreadable.  Brink’s was intolerably dull.  Canlis’s was what can only be called idiosyncratic.  And Campbell’s was, well, Campbell-esque (meaning heterodox).

One day people will realize that trinitarian speculation is an intellectual and theological cul-de-sac and they will stop doing it.  Today, sadly, as exemplified in this work, is not that day.

I wish that I could recommend this volume in its entirety.  But honesty dictates I not.  Parts are useful.  But that’s all.  Just parts.

Signs of the Times

Zwingli and Others on Harlots and Harlotry

Is it not a disgraceful thing to sleep with a woman and next morning hold mass? Answer: Can one not also do that if he has stayed with a harlot? If we had not conscience otherwise than that we so far forgetting God and ourselves should be inclined to such wickedness…  – H. Zwingli

I am now come to speak of adultery, which is a sin whereby the husband goeth to another woman, or the wife turneth aside after another man, to whom they make common the use of their bodies, which are not their own bodies now, but their mates in wedlock. Some there are that flatter themselves, and are of opinion, that they are not culpable of adultery, if they have the company of any unbetrothed maiden, or one that is unmarried; or if a woman play the harlot with an unwedded man: they will have it (in God’s name) to be fornication, and not adultery. But the scripture teacheth the contrary. Thou goest to another woman, thou art an adulterer: thou breakest thy faith, thou art forsworn: thy body is not thine, but thy wife’s; when therefore thou bestowest thy body on another, thou committest adultery. If thou, being wedded, dost lie with a married wife, thou doublest the sin of thine adultery. – H. Bullinger

… all know that no seed is so fertile in propagating mankind as the sacerdotal: for to such a degree has the untamed lust of almost all monks and popish priests burst forth, that he is justly deemed chastest who is satisfied with a harlot in his house. — J. Calvin

Never has a heathen, never a Turk, never a pope, never an emperor, and never any human being on earth made or enforced a law that anyone should be put to death because of marriage.  It is a new, unheard-of thing, begun by you new bishops, who are the greatest endowment robbers, harlot keepers, and whore hunters on earth in your chapters.  Nor do you do it for the sake of chastity, but all because others will not practice harlotry and unchastity, as you do, for you let them go unpunished. No one can believe that you conscientiously intend chastity with this penalty, since there are no greater enemies of chastity anywhere than you are, for you pursue it in your own bodies with all lewdness most shamefully, without letup. – M. Luther

Lutheranism’s Most Famous Heretic

Is this woman.

Luther himself would say to her- ‘You are the very spirit of Antichrist’.  And he would certainly not be far off.