Monthly Archives: November 2019

Rick *the Lexicator* Brannan has Written an Advent Devotional

55341And it’s described here.

Advent is both about Jesus’ first coming in Bethlehem and his second coming, which we await. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we remember his first advent and prepare for his second, celebrating both events. Centered around the themes of preparation, anticipation, joy, and incarnation, Anticipating His Arrival helps you guide your family through Advent as your expectation of Jesus’ arrival grows.

Family devotional time can be difficult which is why this resource was designed to fit a variety of needs and your schedule. Readings are provided for the entire Advent season, from the first Sunday of Advent through Christmas Day. Each day, discussion questions and responses are provided to guide individual reflection or family discussion. The daily readings in this devotional come from the Revised Common Lectionary and include readings for all three years in the liturgical cycle—each drawing from the synoptic gospels.

Theology Today

The one thing that seems to characterize most theologians post Brunner is a widespread unfamiliarity with scripture. Do today’s theologians even own a Bible anymore?

A ‘Piece of Wood From Jesus’s Manger’ is Back in Jerusalem

Not The Onion.

A fragment of wood believed to be from Jesus’ manger is back in the Holy Land just in time for Christmas.

The tiny inches long relic was first taken out of the Middle East in the 7th century when St. Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, donated it to Pope Theodore I. It remained in Rome’s Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore until now.

I have a fragment of Jesus’s manger hay if anyone wants to buy it…

Good grief.

Will Your Dog Go To Heaven? Nope, Not According to Revelation 22

James Crossley, dogwalker

Blessed are those who will have washed their robes clean, so that they will have the right to feed on the tree of life and can come through the gates into the city.  Others must stay outside: dogs*, fortune-tellers, and the sexually immoral, murderers, idolaters, and everyone of false speech and false life.’  (Rev. 22:14-15)

* Ok to be fair the reference here to ‘dogs’ is not to literal canines, but to a certain sort of unbelieving person who ‘lives like an animal and not a human being’ By sense, it could also be rendered ‘the unholy and impure’. The Bible is actually utterly silent on the entire topic of ‘animals in heaven’, so if you’re looking for a definitive biblical text on the subject, it doesn’t exist’.

The Two Sides of the ‘Day of Judgment’ Coin


‘When the Son of man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All nations will be assembled before him and he will separate people one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take as your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a foreigner and you made me welcome,  lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.”

Then the upright will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome, lacking clothes and clothe you? When did we find you sick or in prison and go to see you?”  

And the King will answer, “In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.” (Matt. 25:31-40)


Then he will say to those on his left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 

For I was hungry and you never gave me food, I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink, I was a foreigner and you never made me welcome, lacking clothes and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.” Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or lacking clothes, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?” Then he will answer,

“In truth I tell you, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.” 

And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the upright to eternal life.’ (Matt. 25:41-46)

We cannot remind ourselves too often that the way we treat other people matters.

The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts – Two-Volumes

The manuscripts that form the Greek New Testament are scattered throughout the world and are usually only accessible to scholars and professionals. These were the manuscripts read by the earliest Christians, which comprised their “New Testament.” In his volumes, Philip Wesley Comfort bridges the gap between these extant copies and today’s critical text by providing accurate transcriptions of the earliest New Testament manuscripts, with photographs on the facing pages so readers can see the works for themselves. Comfort also provides an introduction to each manuscript that summarizes the content, date, current location, provenance, and other essential information, including the latest findings. This allows students and scholars to make well-informed decisions about the translation and interpretation of the New Testament.

Volume 1 includes manuscripts from Papyrus 1-72. Volume 2 includes manuscripts from Papyrus 75-139 as well as from the uncials. In addition, it features a special section on determining the date of a manuscript. This two-volume set replaces the previously published single volume Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts, as it contains many new manuscripts, updated research, and higher quality images of all manuscripts previously covered.

A review copy of the set has arrived courtesy the good folk at Kregel (without any expectations for that review’s outcome).

These two volumes make the most important manuscripts immediately available to interested scholars.  Textual criticism is the foundation upon which all biblical studies must be constructed and these books aid that task immensely.  First, because the manuscripts are collected under one roof and second because the text is so sharply presented.

The first volume contains an important and extensive introductory section in which the authors introduce readers to their methodology, their procedure for dating manuscripts, their handwriting analysis, textual character, and finally, a bibliography for further study.  Then manuscript by manuscript they discuss

  • Contents
  • Date
  • Provenance
  • Housing location
  • Bibliography
  • Physical features
  • Textual character

Then follows an exact transcription of each particular ancient manuscript.

Not all of the aforementioned aspects occur with each text, but all those known do.  And in the case of groups of manuscripts (texts which belong together), the group is discussed more fully and extensively.

There are sporadically placed photos (black and white and of medium quality) throughout the two volumes with volume two containing a longer collection of photos at the end of the volume.

When manuscripts have blank spaces, those are indicated and when there are abbreviations in the manuscripts themselves, they too are indicated in the transcription.

These two books are indispensable for New Testament scholars, whether they be text critics or not.  Because the earliest texts are indisputably essential for any reconstruction of the biblical text and thus for the biblical message.

Scholars interested in more high resolution, color photos, can easily find them thanks to the internet and the availability online of early New Testament manuscripts.  But finding all of those manuscripts, and examining them, is extremely time consuming.  Here Comfort and Barrett have done all of the leg work for you.  If you wish to look more closely, you can.  But beginning here will be the sensible thing to do.

These two volumes are commended to your attention and, in my view, should be on your shelves.

Conrad Gessner (1516-1565): Die Renaissance der Wissenschaften

The Swiss physician, natural scientist, and polymath Conrad Gessner was the founder of modern zoology, charted new directions in botany, and published the most lavishly illustrated book on minerals and fossils of the 16th century. The essays reveal the multifaceted nature of Gessner’s interests and works, from classical philology to botany, the history of the book, linguistics and medicine, along with scientific illustration and zoology.

It’s edited by Peter Opitz and Urs Leu.  Essays are in both English and German.  Read the TOC and front matter here.

A Public Apology

I apologize for the part I myself have played in the rhetoric of political divisiveness presently rampant in this country. I can do better. I will do better.
I will NOT, however, ever apologize for pointing out the biblical and theological requirements of Christianity nor for bringing them to bear on contemporary societal matters. You’ll have to kill me for that to happen.
So never more will you hear me opine about any particular political issue. But you can count on my bringing to bear biblical and theological aspects which are relevant to contemporary society.
Here I stand. I can do nothing else.

A Timely Reminder: The Church is NOT a Business

If the church is run like a business, it will become a business dependent on the consumer. That’s not the purpose of the church.

So tired of all the talk of “leading an organization”, “business principles”, “we do this at my job”, etc. The church is always to be different than the world/culture. Can’t do that and try to operate like a business. There are many churches closing due to this thinking, many were once “mega-churches” who had to keep the big givers happy. You know, like a business.

So many once thriving churches thought they had to have the fancy buildings and toys. Eventually, they lost the Gospel and forgot about people. It’s easy to lose the mission at that point and none of us are immune. Gotta keep it about the kingdom and not getting people are keeping people. Will it help us reach people with the Gospel and live the least of these? That’s our mission, not to keep consumers coming back or growing. We must all be vigilant and accountable to protect the purity of the church and her mission.

The. Church. Is. Not. A. Business.  –  Justin Rader

I would add- and if your church has a pastor who is a business major with an MBA, either fire him or leave and go to a church where the pastor is a theologian / biblical scholar.

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

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).

More Bad News: Lars Hartman Has Died

Tommy Wasserman has the details.

How very sad. May he rest in peace.

Memorial Service for Larry Hurtado

Via Chris Keith

A memorial service for Larry Hurtado has been set for Saturday, December 14th at 2pm at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh, UK. All are welcome to attend. Please feel free to share this with all who may be interested in attending.

‘For the Bible Tells Me So…’

‘The love of money is the root of many kinds of evil’. That sentence was written almost 2000 years ago and remarkably, like most of the things we find in the Bible, it has had very little impact on the way God’s people behave, live, and believe.

Just like ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ and ‘forgive or you will not be forgiven’ and ‘bring all the tithes into the storehouse’ and ‘do not forsake the assembly’ and ‘you shall not covet’ and all the rest, it is a truth which though expressed, is seldom embraced.

Our problem, then, is not that we don’t know what we should do. It’s that we simply refuse to do it. Which is precisely why the world is as it is.

Next time you wonder why the world is in the shape it’s in, just check in with yourself to see just exactly how much of what God tells us to do in Scripture you are actually doing.

If you’re like most people who call themselves Christians, it may not be all that much after all. Because Scripture, though many claim to believe it and claim to ‘love the Bible’, is probably the most ignored and never-applied book in human history.

After all, the Bible tells us a LOT more than simply that ‘Jesus loves me, this I know…’

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.

Wie redet Gott mit uns? Der Begriff «Wort Gottes» bei Augustin, Martin Luther und Karl Barth

Via TVZ.

For the Barthians


Cat Herder Is Still More Accurate

La création de l’École biblique et archéologique française de Jérusalem