Daily Archives: 3 Aug 2019

Oh Look, Another Hypocrite in the GOP…

Tennessee state Rep. Bill Sanderson, an anti-LGBTQ Republican, resigned suddenly amid allegations he was using Grindr to solicit sex from men.

Tennessee state Rep. Bill Sanderson, a Republican with a long voting history opposed to LGBTQ rights, resigned suddenly on Wednesday, with some claiming he did so because allegations surfaced that he was seeking sexual relations with men.

Sanderson told the Tennessean he is resigning to spend more time at home and to tend to his winery. When asked if there was any scandal related to his resignation, Sanderson told the outlet, “As far as I know, if there’s anything up here on me, I’m unaware of it.”

Local reporter Cari Gervin, however, says Sanderson has been “openly soliciting sex with much younger men on Grindr, a gay hook-up and dating app, both from his home in West Tennessee and in Nashville.” Gervin claims to have evidence of Sanderson’s exploits on Grindr, including screenshots of explicit photos he allegedly sent and racy messages, and she also said she heard from one young man who allegedly met Sanderson at his winery.


When You Call Things What they Are, This is What You Call The El Paso Shooter

America is Exceptional. Exceptional in its Love of Guns and Death

As for you, do not pray for these people. Do not raise up a cry or a prayer on their behalf, for I will not be listening when they call out to Me at the time of their disaster. – Jeremiah 11:14

Another Day, Another Mass Shooting…

In America

If in Texas of all places the ‘if there were a good guy with a gun he could keep these things from happening’ doesn’t work out, where will it ever?  The answer- no where.

So your ‘thoughts and prayers’ aren’t working.  Maybe because God isn’t listening to you anymore.

“Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble.” – Jer 11:14

Anthropologie des Alten Testaments: Grundfragen – Kontexte – Themenfelder

Seit der klassischen Darstellung H.W. Wolffs von 1973 gibt es keinen Gesamtentwurf einer alttestamentlichen Anthropologie mehr. Diese Lücke versucht Bernd Janowski mit seinem Lehr- und Studienbuch zu schließen, das sich von Wolffs Lehrbuch nicht nur durch einen anderen Ansatz, sondern auch durch die Berücksichtigung der altorientalischen Religionsgeschichte und der neueren Kulturwissenschaft unterscheidet. Die vorliegende Darstellung, in deren Zentrum die anthropologische Grundfrage »Was ist der Mensch?« (Psalm 8,5) und ihre spezifisch biblischen, auf die Leiblichkeit, Gerechtigkeit und Endlichkeit bezogenen Antworten stehen, gliedert sich in sieben Abschnitte:


  • I. Was ist der Mensch? Einführung (Grundfragen alttestamentlicher Anthropologie)
  • II. Von der Wiege bis zur Bahre. Phasen des Lebens (Biographische Aspekte, Genderfragen)
  • III. Mit Leib und ,Seele’. Elemente des Personbegriffs (Leib- und Sozialsphäre)
  • IV. Vom tätigen Leben. Formen des sozialen Handelns (Arbeit, Wirtschaft, Kommunikation)
  • V. Räume und Zeiten. Aspekte der Welterfahrung (Ordnung des Raums, Rhythmus der Zeit)
  • VI. Bilder vom Menschen. Anthropologien des ATs (Urgeschichte, Priesterliche Texte, Königsideologie, Prophetie, Psalmen, Weisheit)
  • VII. Der ganze Mensch. Resümee (Grundzüge alttestamentlicher Anthropologie).

Ein umfangreicher Anhang veranschaulicht darüber hinaus das Eigenprofil der Anthropologie des Alten Testaments im Vergleich zu den Anthropologien seiner Umwelt anhand ausgewählter Texte und Bilder von Mesopotamien bis zum Antiken Judentum.

Janowski’s 2019 volume features the investigation of questions which have arisen in recent years about the Old Testament’s view of what it means to be a human being.  In particular, and of particular interest to many, will be section 3 of the Second Division, which deals with Gender and sexuality.  Everything from the creation of woman, an excursus on ‘helpmeet’, a very important treatment of eroticism and sexuality, marriage and family, and the place genealogical thinking has in Old Testament texts are brought into focus.

The present work is an encyclopedic treatment of the issue which begins with asking the central question, ‘what is man?’ and through such issues as birth, naming, death, gender and gender roles, marriage, children, body and soul, society, work and play, law and culture, law and righteousness, community, holiness, sacred and secular spaces, the rhythm of life and time, and feasts and celebrations.  And all of that in the first 5 chapters.

In chapter six begins even more specific treatments of the image of man in the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings.  And in chapter seven the whole is summarized and ends with the same question with which it begins: what is man?  Each small section also includes its own bibliography.  The chapters are rich in scriptural citations and helpful exegesis.

A series of appendices drawing materials from ancient societies around Israel showing similarities and differences between Ancient Israel and its neighbors is followed by a list of abbreviation and citations, various bibliographies, a listing of illustrations, and a source and subject index (each).

A book like this comes along once in a generation.  Its predecessor, by H.W. Wolff, appeared in 1973.  It was a justifiably well renowned volume and exceedingly well regarded and served for many decades the important task of helping readers of the Bible understand how ‘man’ was viewed in the Old Testament.  This book is better, more thorough, and will serve many, many generations of biblical scholars and students.

It is, without doubt, the best book I have read on an Old Testament subject this year.  I cannot recommend it more highly.

Quote of the Day

Emil Brunner-

Christians in Caesar’s Household: The Emperors’ Slaves in the Makings of Christianity

In this volume, Michael Flexsenhar III advances the argument that imperial slaves and freedpersons in the Roman Empire were essential to early Christians’ self-conception as a distinct people in the Mediterranean and played a multifaceted role in the making of early Christianity.

Scholarship in early Christianity has for centuries viewed Roman emperors’ slaves and freedmen as responsible for ushering Christianity onto the world stage, traditionally using Paul’s allusion to “the saints from Caesar’s household” in Philippians 4:22 as a core literary lens. Merging textual and material evidence with diaspora and memory studies, Flexsenhar expands on this narrative to explore new and more nuanced representations of this group, showing how the long-accepted stories of Christian slaves and freepersons in Caesar’s household should not be taken at face value but should instead be understood within the context of Christian myth- and meaning-making. Flexsenhar analyzes textual and material evidence from the first to the sixth century, spanning Roman Asia, the Aegean rim, Gaul, and the coast of North Africa as well as the imperial capital itself. As a result, this book shows how stories of the emperor’s slaves were integral to key developments in the spread of Christianity, generating origin myths in Rome and establishing a shared history and geography there, differentiating and negotiating assimilation with other groups, and expressing commemorative language, ritual acts, and a material culture.

With its thoughtful critical readings of literary and material sources and its fresh analysis of the lived experiences of imperial slaves and freedpersons, Christians in Caesar’s Household is indispensable reading for scholars of early Christianity, the origins of religion, and the Roman Empire.

The thesis of this volume is fairly simple: slaves played a pivotal role in early Christianity.  To make his case the author sets the stage in the introduction, discussing such matters as the history of research into the issue of slavery in early Christianity and related matters.  He also offers a fairly in depth description of the chapters to follow, setting out the argument of the whole.

Chapter one (see the link above for the full table of contents, which needn’t be repeated here) offers the author’s first bit of evidence in support of his thesis: Philippians 4:22.  He examines in thorough detail the world into which this verse fits and provides tables, charts, and a map to help illustrate is viewpoint.  His takeaway is this:

Christians seized on the idea that Paul had made converts from among Caesar’s household in Rome.  The idea became a foundational narrative that not only shaped early Christianity through the second and third centuries but helped launch a tradition that would endure for millennia.

It strikes me as a bit of an exaggeration to say that converted slaves from the Emperor’s household were somehow made into a foundational narrative for Christianity.  Slaves converted, but so did others.  In sum, the ‘how so?’ question which looms over the thesis remains.

Chapter two moves readers into the issue of martyrdoms of Peter and Paul as described in noncanonical texts.  Here the central theme is the notion that the stories of those martyrdoms somehow connect the Apostles to the Imperial household and that this connection is somehow meaningful for the later Christian tradition.  While it may be possible that Paul’s imperial connections served an apologetic purpose, it remains the case that the still remaining ‘how so?’ question posed of the thesis of the volume remains unanswered.

Chapter three moves further forward into Christian history and examines later apologetic and polemic regarding Caesar’s household.  As well, chapter four moves even further forward.  Here readers discover (or are reintroduced to) the ways in which Christian piety and martyrdom demonstrate (tenuous) connections with the Imperial family.

Chapters 5 and 6 offer the same, this time with a focus on the evidence for Imperial freed men and the remnants of Christians connected to the Imperial family discovered in the catacombs.

Finally arriving at the conclusion, readers hear the summary of the argument for the claimed impact of Imperial slaves on early Christianity:

With ‘Caesar’s household’ in their cultural repository, Christians could reinvent themselves as a people who from the very beginning were destined, like Paul once said, to inherit the world (Rom 4:13).

How so?  What an odd argument this turns out to be.  Are we supposed to believe that the early Church made a big deal of the inclusion of slaves from the Imperial residence simply so as to be able to claim that they would inherit the earth?  All they needed for that was Jesus’s remark from the Sermon on the Mount!  The participation of slaves in the Church neither added to nor took away from that theological notion.

Flexhensar’s book is a very good examination of the early church.  It is loaded with important and interesting details.  But it is wrongheaded in that it doesn’t achieve its aim or goal of showing the importance of the connection between Roman slaves and Christian tradition.  Christian tradition would have developed with a notion that the meek would inherit the earth had there never been so much as a single slave join the movement, much less a single slave from Caesar’s house.

This would, in my view, be better as a book if it were simply a discussion of early Christianity in general and not an attempt to prove that early Christians somehow saw the slaves of the Imperial house who belonged to their number as their claim to fame in terms of ‘inheriting the earth’.

My advice, in sum, is that you read this book for the details it contains, but not for the argument it makes.

Today With Zwingli: His Children

zwingliWilliam, Zwingli’s eldest son, born in 1526, after studying in Zurich went to Strassburg to complete his education, but there died of the plague in 1541. Ulrich, born January 6, 1528, who is said to have been the image of his father, studied at Basel, became a clergyman, diakonus in the Great Minster in Zurich in his nineteenth year, professor of Hebrew in 1556, of theology in 1557; he married Bullinger’s daughter Anna. She died of the plague in 1565. Regula, the eldest daughter, born in 1525, who is said to have been the image of her mother, married on August 3, 1541, when in her seventeenth year, Bullinger’s foster-son, Rudolf Gualther, a brilliant man, born in Zurich, November 9, 1519; studied at Basel, Strassburg, Lausanne, and Marburg, and in 1542 became pastor of St. Peter’s in Zurich, and so remained the rest of his life. In 1547 he brought out the first edition of Zwingli’s works, himself translating into Latin all the hitherto untranslated German treatises. He succeeded Bullinger in the office of chief city pastor in 1575. After Regula died of the plague (November 14, 1565), he married Anna, daughter of Thomas Blarer, formerly burgomaster of Constance, Gualther died December 25, 1586. With Zwingli’s son Ulrich the male line of the Reformer died out. Those at present tracing their ancestry to the Reformer’s family do so to a brother in Wildhaus. Zwingli had still a fourth child, a daughter Anna, born in 1530, who died in infancy.*

And that’s the Zwingli family.

*Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531) (pp. 360–361).

Martin Noth Wrote a Lot

Here’s a listing of just some of the things in his bibliography.  Remember, just because something wasn’t published last week doesn’t mean it isn’t worth your time.  In fact in 99% of cases, the best stuff was written before you were born (unless you’re over 50).

Happy Birthday Martin Noth

Martin Noth, famed (and rightly so) Old Testament scholar was born on the 3rd of August, 1902.  Probably best known for his work on the history of Israel, Noth also wrote widely and extensively on nearly every aspect of OT studies.  His commentaries are very good and his study of Israelite names has never, ever been surpassed or supplanted.

As Brittanica notes

In his book Das System der zwölf Stämme Israels (1930; “The Scheme of the Twelve Tribes of Israel”), written when he was just 28, Noth proposed the theory that the unity called Israel did not exist prior to the covenant assembly at Shechem in Canaan (Joshua 24), where, in his view, the tribes, theretofore loosely related through customs and traditions, accepted the worship and the covenant of Yahweh imposed by Joshua. Oral traditions from the various tribes were combined in the Pentateuch after the covenant union, and it was only at the time of Ezra that the traditions were finally written down, often combining different narrative elements into a single tale. Thus, the story of the Passover and that of the Exodus, once separate traditions, were linked in the written books of Moses. The two major narrative traditions, the Jehovistic and Elohistic (so called from the name used for God in each), formed a framework around the other traditional elements. Noth served as professor of theology at the University of Bonn from 1945 to 1965, continuing his studies after his retirement.

Lest we forget…