Oh the Irish…

An Irish woman fed up with searching for the perfect man has married the ghost of a 300-year-old pirate instead – and says he’s her “soulmate”.

Amanda Teague, from Drogheda in Co Louth, has married a Haitian pirate named Jack who died in the 1700s, and the fact he’s dead doesn’t bother her.

The 45-year-old’s friends and family attended the wedding on a boat off the Irish coast. The couple then went on honeymoon to the North.

Amanda, who now lives in Downpatrick, near Belfast, insists they are like any ordinary couple, they have arguments, go on dates – and even have sex.

Yeah, she’s as batty as the people who ‘marry’ cars or bridges or dogs.  Has she ever considered the notion that maybe she’s not a prize catch herself, which is why she can’t find a willing guy?

A Proposed Reading of a New Aramaic Fragment

Via Richard Steiner-

Here is a preliminary attempt to read two lines of the papyrus as Aramaic with Hebrew admixture:

[kz]hr h$[m]$ ywm ‘l ywm pqy hzhry — like the shining/brilliance of the sun every day come out (fem.) and shine (fem.)

The oldest parallel is וְהַמַּשְׂכִּלִים יַזְהִרוּ כְּזֹהַר הָרָקִיעַ (Dan 12:3). The closest Jewish parallel I found in a quick search is in a commentary on Pirqe Avot: זיו פניהם כזהר השמש מאירים ומזהירים.

He is responding to this news report-

A papyrus puzzle: an unidentified fragment from 4th century Oxyrhynchus

The Hebrew Manuscripts Digitisation Project team has just started working on five papyrus fragments, which are some of the earliest Hebrew texts we have at the British Library. The fragments are a fascinating mystery, one that we hope you can help us solve.

In 1922, the almost 70-year old Egyptologist Flinders Petrie discovered some papyrus fragments written in Hebrew script during an excavation in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt. These fragments were acquired by the British Museum that year, and are now held in the Oriental Collection of the British Library under the shelfmarks Or 9180A, B, C, D, and E.

As you can see here, the papyrus fragments are housed all together in one glass frame. Papyrus documents have been traditionally housed in glass since the late 19th century, when people first started to think about how to study them without handling them directly. It is still considered the most suitable storage method for papyri as glass is inert – papyrus requires a highly stable chemical environment due to its high salt content. Static is also problematic as papyrus is very fibrous, and the rigid nature of glass frames means that they can be handled without disrupting the material. The imaging team at the British Library were able to produce incredibly high quality images of the fragments through the glass, which has enabled us to research them fully without risking damaging them.

We are not able to precisely date these fragments, but the current consensus is that they are from the fourth century CE. Three of them (A, B and E) are poems, all written in Hebrew language and script. Fragment D is a Greek contract, with Hebrew text in the margins, which is probably also of a legal nature. Fragment C is written in Hebrew characters however the language – except the last three lines –is yet unidentified. This is where our mystery lies – and perhaps it is about to be uncovered by one of you.

As you can see here fragment C actually contains two pieces: a small piece on the left and a larger one on the right. Photographs of the Or 9180 fragments have been published in various articles over the years, in 1923, 1971 and 1985, and we have been able to use these to ascertain that the position of the two pieces of C have changed over time. In all of these publications, the smaller piece was attached to the lower left side of the larger piece. Today however, the smaller piece is situated at the upper left side of the larger one.

If you have a closer look at the arrangement above, you can see the matching strands of the fibres within the papyrus, and that the three lines of text on the smaller fragment are perfect continuation of the last three lines of text in the larger piece. This shows that the earlier arrangement of the fragment was correct, and that what might have happened is that the left part of the fragment had broken off from the larger piece when the fragment was rehoused at some point after 1985. Thanks to the digitisation project, we were able to prove this theory by virtually reconstructing fragment C without risking damaging the original fragment.

In its reconstructed form, the last three lines of the papyrus, first deciphered by Hartwig Hirschfeld in 1923, become once again legible: The so-called colophon – the last three lines of Or 9180C. These lines were written in Aramaic and have been identified as a colophon[1]:

אנה שא[ול] בי לעזר כת[ב]ת אלין כת[בי]ן שלום על ישראל אמן ואמן סלה

I, Saul son of [E]leazar have written these wri[tings]. Peace be upon Israel. Amen and amen, selah

The 14 lines above the colophon are a real mystery though, both in terms of language as well as content. It seems that this fragment was originally a list of words in two columns, but now only the right column has remained more or less intact, with just small traces of the left column visible. For us, the real challenge is to identify the content of this fragment. Over the years various suggestions have been made, such as: a kind of Latin and Greek vocabulary; a list of gnostic charms; magical incantations; an inventory of articles; and a list of Latin names.[2]

Although Fragment C contains Hebrew characters, unlike the other fragments in Or 9180, the language is not easily identifiable. It was not uncommon for Jews to use Hebrew script when writing in a language other than Hebrew. Among the most widely used are Judeo-languages are Judeo-Arabic, Yiddish and Ladino (Judeo-Spanish). Ancient Jewish Greek literature however was almost always written in Greek script.

Our initial approach to deciphering this fragment was by looking into what languages the Jews of Egypt spoke in the Late Antique period:

Four languages are of value: loaz (‘foreign language’, i.e. Greek) for song, romi (i.e. Latin) for war, sursi (Aramaic/Syriac) for dirges, and Hebrew for speaking (Palestinian Talmud, Sotah 7)

We can see here in this quote from the Palestinian Talmud, compiled in the 4th century CE, that the Jews of the period were multilingual. Evidence shows that the Jewish population would have been exposed to Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, although they may not have been equally fluent in all of them. Greek became one of the main languages if not the main language of Egyptian Jewish communities of the time. They used the Greek translation of the Pentateuch, the Septuagint, which was mostly compiled by Alexandrian Jewish scholars in the 3rd century BCE -2nd century CE.

The language of this fragment was discussed further at a workshop organized by Platinum(specialists researching Latin papyrus fragments) at the University of Naples Federico II in May 2017. The participants there concluded that the language could not be straightforwardly identified as Aramaic, Greek or Latin. There were some reservations though. Rabbinic literature of the Hellenistic period is rich in Latin and Greek loanwords, but they are often very different from their original forms. For example: a word may not have simply been transliterated, but would have gone through some phonetic and accentual changes. They can preserve lower register (colloquial or slang) words of spoken Greek or Latin that are unattested in literary sources, and were not recorded in dictionaries. Consequently, the fragment we are dealing with could contain such low register Greek or Latin words written in Hebrew script. On the same basis, it could also have been written, perhaps, in a local Aramaic dialect. A further possibility, which as far as we know has not yet been looked into is that the text of the fragment could be the local Egyptian language (Coptic) in Hebrew script.

As well as the mystery of the language, another question to consider is why this text would have a colophon with a blessing at the end? It would seem unnecessary at the end of a list of articles, or a list of names. This might be more plausible if the text was of a magical or mystical nature.

Such a small fragment and so many questions. Our aim with this blog post is to draw attention to this fascinating and mysterious text. Perhaps one of you can solve the puzzle? If you think you have a solution, or further questions, please get in touch with us on Twitter @BL_HebrewMSS. We look forward to hearing from you!

Zsofi Buda and Miriam Lewis, BL Hebrew Project

Today With Calvin

On this day in 1537 Calvin published his

Articles concerning the Organization of the Church and of Worship at Geneva proposed by the Ministers at the Council January 16, 1537

Which begins

Right Honourable Gentlemen: it is certain that a Church cannot be said to be well ordered and regulated unless in it the Holy Supper of our Lord is always being celebrated and frequented, and this under such good supervision that no one dare presume to present him self unless devoutly, and with genuine reverence for it. For this reason, in order to maintain the Church in its integrity, the discipline of excommunication is necessary, by which it is possible to correct those that do not wish to submit courteously and with all obedience to the Word of God. Further, it is a thing very expedient for the edification of the Church, to sing some psalms in the form of public devotions by which one may pray to God, or to sing his praise so that the hearts of all be roused and incited to make like prayers and render like praises and thanks to God with one accord. Third, it is strictly required and quite necessary for maintaining the people in purity of doctrine, that infants of tender age be so instructed that they are able to give reason for the faith, so that evangelical doctrine is not left to decay, and also that its substance be diligently maintained and transmitted from hand to hand and from father to son. Finally out of the tyranny which the! exercised in the matter of marriage and the iniquitous laws which he imposed, many controversies persist. To settle them, it would be advisable to make certain ordinances by which they may be controlled, and, if any difference of opinion arise, to take appropriate steps for composing them.

It’s a grand work, still worth reading.

Quote of the Day

Don’t try to get revenge for yourselves, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. It is written, Revenge belongs to me; I will pay it back, says the Lord.  Instead, If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. By doing this, you will pile burning coals of fire upon his head.  Don’t be defeated by evil, but defeat evil with good.  (Rom. 12:19-21)

You Probably Should Believe in Everlasting Torment…

Because some people really deserve it.

Two Southern California parents are being held on $9 million bail each after a horrific discovery over the weekend at a residence in Perris, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said Monday.

An investigation began after a 17-year-old girl “escaped” early Sunday morning from her home in the 100 block of Muir Woods Road and called 911 to report her 12 brothers and sisters were being held captive by their parents, according to a sheriff’s news release.

She alleged some of her siblings were bound in padlocked chains.

Responding officers initially believed the “slightly emaciated” girl was only 10 years old until she provided her age.

After interviewing the teen, investigators went to the residence and contacted her parents, identified as 56-year-old David Allen Turpin and 49-year-old Louise Anna Turpin, according to the release.

Investigators discovered “several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings,” the release said. The parents could not provide a “logical” explanation for why the kids were restrained, investigators said.

Authorities located what they thought were 12 children but were “shocked” to find out seven of them were adults. In all, the victims are between the ages of 2 and 29, the release stated.

They looked to be malnourished and filthy, authorities said.

Yes.  Some people definitely deserve it.

A New Low Price for The Commentary

I’ve gotten a good bit of email from Sunday School teachers, Pastors, and interested lay folk who have expressed an interest in obtaining the Commentary on the Bible which I’ve written in PDF format but who have been unable to afford the $199 price tag.

So I’ve made a decision:  I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to make the collection more affordable.  Accordingly, as of today, the set will run $75.  I would lower it more but I feel that all the work put into it over the course of many years falls under the ‘the laborer is worthy of his hire’ category.  Still, I feel that the set aids layfolk to understand the Bible better, so I’m very keen to make it accessible.

At $75 it’s less than any other commentary on the entire Bible, so a bargain indeed.

So if you or someone you know has wanted to get a copy of the collection in PDF format, you can do so from yours truly for $75 by clicking my PayPal Link.

Here’s what a couple of folk have thought of it:

***

I have already read the Pastoral Epistles portion entirely.  I read the same way as I eat; first portions I just worry about satiating my hunger; then the following portions I really savor the food, and slowly digest it taking the most of its nutritious benefits. Right now, reading Jim’s commentary, I am at the second phase of “my eating habits”. I am loving the new information, not the run-of-the mill type of commentary, not the customary supporting material, but every point is perfectly didactically placed and scholarly supported.

As one of the demonstrations of God’s sense of humor and “uncommon management” skills, He made me a pastor (now temporarily in modern terms, without a flock, other than only a few people who seek me for guidance) and I think Jim’s commentary will be most valuable as I take this interval as a unique opportunity for further preparation for when God places me back in full pastoral ministry.   – Milton Almeida, Oklahoma, USA.

***

Jim West is a man of very decided opinions. However, and this is much to his credit, in the Commentary I’ve read he does not advocate his opinions about Scripture. What he does is explain and simplify, working from the original language, without being simplistic. And this is to be commended. – Athalya Brenner

Trump and Jesus and Odin

President Trump informed his advisers that he will refuse to allow Jesus Christ into his heart, after learning that Jesus hailed from the city of Nazareth in the Middle East, sources confirmed Monday.

“Can anything good come from there?” Trump reportedly asked, after his aides informed him that the Lord Jesus, God in the flesh, chose to spend the majority of his life on earth residing in the impoverished, first-century town located in the region of Galilee. “Why would I welcome anybody from that war-torn, crime-ridden hole of a place?” he asked his team of advisers, during a meeting in the Oval Office.

According to reports, Trump has transferred his religious allegiance to the Norse god Odin, tweeting that he wants to align himself with a god from a “winner country.”

In updated reports, Odin is said to have rejected Trump’s overtures, stating ‘I am not interested in anyone from his country.  What kind of barbarians don’t provide health care for their people?  Ridiculous’.

Three New Volumes From Bloomsbury

Isaiah 6-12– in the long esteemed ICC series.

This eagerly anticipated volume is the second installment in H.G.M. Williamson’s International Critical Commentary on first Isaiah.  For over one hundred years International Critical Commentaries have had a special place among works on the Bible. They bring together all the relevant aids to exegesis – linguistic, textual, archaeological, historical, literary, and theological – to help the reader understand the meaning of the books of the Old and New Testaments. Williamson continues in this tradition, adding to his already published volume on Isaiah 1-5. Covering the next seven chapters of Isaiah Williamson incorporates a range of secondary scholarly material with examination of all the key textual and critical issues surrounding the text.

The Bible and the Qur’an

The Bible and the Qur’an provides an overview of all the figures and groups who are mentioned in both the Bible and the Qur’an. Principal focus centres on the similarities and differences between the presentations of these characters in the two texts, with special emphasis placed on how they appear in the Islamic text. References are also included to how many of the individuals/groups discussed are treated in other Islamic sources.  Each figure or group includes: (1) a list of relevant Qur’an passages; (2) a description of how the individual/group is presented in the Islamic Texts; (3) questions and issues to consider; (4) suggestions for further readings. An introductory section provides a basic orientation to the Qur’an and other Islamic sources.

Reading Christian Theology in the Protestant Tradition

Reading Christian Theology in the Protestant Tradition offers a distinctive approach to the value of classic works through the lens of Protestantism. While it is anachronistic to speak of Christian theology prior to the Reformation as “Protestant”, it is wholly appropriate to recognize how certain common Protestant concerns can be discerned in the earliest traditions of Christianity. The resonances between the ages became both informative and inspiring for Protestants who looked back to pre-reformation sources for confirmation, challenge, and insight.  Thus this book begins with the first Christian theologians, covering nearly 2000 years of theological writing from the Didache, Justin Martyr, and Origen to James Cone, José Míguez Bonino, and Sallie McFague. Five major periods of church history are represented in 12 key works, each carefully explained and interpreted by an expert in the field.

Bloomsbury have provided review copies of each.  Stay tuned, once I work through them I’ll report on them.

Robert Jeffress is a Disgrace to the Christian Faith, To Baptists, and to America

People in his ‘Church’ need to get out– or they remain simply because they are of like mind with him.  I.e., racists.

A few members of President Trump’s evangelical advisory council — including its spokesman — on Friday defended the president after he made comments about immigrants from places including Africa and Central America.

In a statement to The Washington Post, spokesman Johnnie Moore questioned whether Trump had actually made the comments and accused Congress of holding up immigration reform. If Trump did make the comments, Moore said, they “were crass.” The reports about Trump’s remarks are “absolutely suspect and politicized,” Moore said. He called immigration “a legislative branch issue, not an executive branch issue” and said that the focus should be putting pressure on Congress.

Trump made the remarks Thursday during a meeting with lawmakers in the Oval Office in which they discussed protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan deal on the status of undocumented young U.S. immigrants, The Washington Post reported.

Some of Trump’s evangelical advisers declined to comment on the president’s remarks, including Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., and Bishop Harry Jackson, an African American pastor from Beltsville, Md. Others, who were involved in Trump’s presidential campaign, including author Eric Metaxas and evangelist Franklin Graham, did not respond to requests for comment. Moore said that some of the people he represents in his capacity as a PR agent, such as megachurch pastor Paula White and radio host James Dobson, would not be commenting on the matter.

Many of these advisers who were part of his campaign have stuck by the president during some of his most controversial moments, including when the Access Hollywood tapes that were published before the election.

Others in the advisory group — the only known regular pipeline of religious feedback to the White House — spoke in support of the president, saying that his language may not have been acceptable but that his views are.

Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas, a prominent Southern Baptist church, said that while he would not have used the same language Trump did, he agrees with the president’s perspective.

“What a lot of people miss is, America is not a church where everyone should be welcomed regardless of race and background,” Jeffress said. “I’m glad Trump understands the difference between a church and country. I support his views 100 percent, even though as a pastor I can’t use that language.”

The United States, Jeffress said, has every right to restrict immigration according to whatever criteria it establishes, including race or other qualifications. “The country has the right to establish what would benefit our nation the most,” he said. “I don’t think there’s anything racist about it at all.”

Jeffress is condemned by Scripture itself:

“Then He will also say to those on the left hand,`Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:  `for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; `I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’  “Then they also will answer Him, saying,`Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’  “Then He will answer them, saying,`Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’  “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matt. 25:41-46)

Around and About, Pre Afternoon Lecture

One note about food in Hong Kong- you can find anything.  I had lunch at the best little crepe shop on the planet.  The crepe was the equivalent of $7.  You just can’t beat it.

It was great to see folk here again, and some for the first time (though I have known them ‘virtually’ for a while).  Some new faces added since 2016 when I was here last.

And of course I had to pick up some gummies for Rachel.  She loves the things.

More anon, after the Greek lecture.

Scripture for the Day

Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets. “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, “bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. “To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. “Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. “And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. “And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.  (Lk. 6:26-36)

Out for Breakfast

I went to my favorite breakfast spot- again.  And then stopped by Starbucks (which was empty!!!) for a black tea with red grapefruit and honey.  It’s fantastic.  Oh Starbucks, get that drink in the States, I implore you.

Hong Kong has – it seems – a party every night and every morning they clean it up.  It’s really remarkable.

Anyway, lectures commence today (since it’s Monday here).  So I’ll do a bit of wandering this morning, sit for an interview (which all the students are doing with faculty), pick up some things for the offspring back home, and then enjoy my time with the lecture participants.  More anon.

Theology

“The fact that the Bible itself does not use the word ‘theology’ is obviously not in itself a reason for not applying it to the Bible. But it is also a doubtful proceeding to use the concept ‘theology’ in such a wide sense that any talk of God & any religious statement whatever may be designated as theology.” – Gerhard Ebeling