Author Archives: Jim

The Great Apostasy

When the American Church abandoned all talk of sin, death, and hell it signed its own death warrant.

Without those core realities, as understood so well by Christian theology until the Enlightenment, the Church was transformed into nothing more than a social club like the Lion’s Club or the Rotarians.

Without those core truths, Christianity has nothing unique or special to offer men and women who are now convinced that the worst thing they can be is merely ‘unkind’ rather than damned and depraved.

The false gospel of fluffy bunny love whereby the ethical positivism of people like Norman Vincent Peale has taken the place of the Gospel of the Cross and the purging fire of authentic redemptive love. And as a consequence, sin reigns in human hearts.

The false has replaced the true and damnation awaits.

All because the Church thought that it must change to please the world instead of refusing to do so and standing firm against the secularizing impulses of the tares pretending to be wheat.

To be sure, authentic Christianity will survive. But its adherents will be few in number.

Christianity Continues its Downward Plunge While Those With ‘No Religious Affiliation’ Are On the Rise

The secularization of America is continuing at an ever increasing pace.  If you’re wondering why this is happening, just ask yourself where you and your family will be on Sunday Morning.

Were We Ever Protestants? Essays in Honour of Tarald Rasmussen

This anthology discusses different aspects of Protestantism, past and present.

Professor Tarald Rasmussen has written both on medieval and modern theologians, but his primary interest has remained the reformation and 16th century church history. In stead of a traditional «Festschrift» honouring the different fields of research he has contributed to, this will be a focused anthology treating a specific theme related to Rasmussen’s research profile.

One of Professor Rasmussen’s most recent publications, a little popularized book in Norwegian titled «What is Protestantism?», reveals a central aspect research interest, namely the Weberian interest for Protestantism’s cultural significance. Despite difficulties, he finds the concept useful as a Weberian «Idealtypus» enabling research on a phenomenon combining theological, historical and sociological dimensions. Thus he employs the Protestantism as an integrative concept to trace the makeup of today’s secular societies.

This profiled approach is a point of departure for this anthology discussing important aspects of historiography in reformation history: Continuity and breaks surrounding the reformation, contemporary significance of reformation history research, traces of the reformation in today’s society.

The book relates to current discussions on Protestantism and is relevant to everyone who want to keep up to date with the latest research in the field.

Free in Open Access from De Gruyter: “Sceptical Paths: Enquiry and Doubt from Antiquity to the Present”

Download it here.

Sceptical Paths offers a fresh look at key junctions in the history of scepticism. Throughout this collection, key figures are reinterpreted, key arguments are reassessed, lesser-known figures are reintroduced, accepted distinctions are challenged, and new ideas are explored.

The historiography of scepticism is usually based on a distinction between ancient and modern. The former is understood as a way of life which focuses on enquiry, whereas the latter is taken to be an epistemological approach which focuses on doubt. The studies in Sceptical Paths not only deepen the understanding of these approaches, but also show how ancient sceptical ideas find their way into modern thought, and modern sceptical ideas are anticipated in ancient thought. Within this state of affairs, the presence of sceptical arguments within Medieval philosophy is reflected in full force, not only enriching the historical narrative, but also introducing another layer to the sceptical discourse, namely its employment within theological settings.

The various studies in this book exhibit the rich variety of expression in which scepticism manifests itself within various context and set against various philosophical and religious doctrines, schools, and approaches.

Something to Remember, Always

Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will war on your side. Do not be bold of tongue, yet idle and slack in deed. (Sir. 4:28-29)

Follow the Sixteenth Century Society Conference on Twitter

Via this hashtag-

‪#‎scsc2019‬

And note, this is the 50th anniversary of the society, so there should be some excellent papers.  Tune in!

“Wir klagen uns an…” : The Stuttgart Confession

Foto: J.D. Noske/Anefo/CC-BY-SA-3.0-NL. Martin Niemöller gehörte zu den Verfassern des Stuttgarter Schuldbekenntnisses.

Foto: J.D. Noske/Anefo/CC-BY-SA-3.0-NL. Martin Niemöller gehörte zu den Verfassern des Stuttgarter Schuldbekenntnisses.

Deutschland, 1945. Die Städte liegen nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg in Trümmern, die braunen Parolen vom »Endsieg« sind verhallt. Wie sollte die evangelische Kirche auf diesen Zusammenbruch reagieren – eine Kirche, die sich in Teilen mit der nationalsozialistischen Sache gemein gemacht hatte? Am 19. Oktober 1945 unterzeichneten protestantische Bischöfe und Kirchenpräsidenten in Stuttgart ein Schuldbekenntnis, das gleichzeitig einen Neuanfang signalisiert. Damit ernteten sie vor 70 Jahren einen Sturm der Entrüstung.

It is a very fine essay and it concludes like this:

Nach Ansicht des Zeitgeschichtlers Oelke hat die Stuttgarter Schulderklärung darüber hinaus eine immense Langzeitwirkung. Das Dokument stehe am Anfang einer Kette von Beschlüssen, die das demokratische Denken tief im Protestantismus verankert haben. Diese demokratischen Ansätze habe es in der regimekritischen »Bekennenden Kirche« noch nicht gegeben. Außerdem habe die evangelische Kirche ihre »Wächterfunktion« entdeckt, mit der sie seitdem die Politik kritisch begleite.

Sad News: Elijah Cummings Has Died

Mr Cummings was an absolute dynamo and his work for civil rights has been decades long.  So few are of his stature, caliber, or decency.

May he rest in peace.

New From Sheffield Phoenix

Sheffield Phoenix Press is pleased to announce a new publication: David Willgren (ed.), God and Humans in the Hebrew Bible and Beyond: A Festschrift for Lennart Boström on his 67th Birthday. The List Price is £70 / $90 / €80 and the Scholar’s Price is £32.50 / $47.50 / €37.50.

You can order the book from our website, https://www.sheffieldphoenix.com, or from your bookseller.
(ISBN 978-1-910928-62-2)

God and Humans in the
Hebrew Bible and Beyond

Edited by David Willgren

In 1990, in his important study The God of the Sages: The Portrayal of God in the Book of Proverbs, Lennart Boström tackled the issue of how the sages viewed their God and God’s relationship with the world. In honour of Boström, and in line with that study, this Festschrift takes up this issue anew. A number of international specialists, including James Crenshaw, Göran Eidevall, Mark A. Throntveit, and Antti Laato, discuss various aspects of how God and humans are portrayed in the Bible.

The first section of the book focuses on notions of God. There is a fresh look at monolatry in the Hebrew Bible, and at God’s faithfulness in Paul’s soteriology. The second section deals with humans, featuring, for example, two articles on Psalm 8.5, one with a focus on the Hebrew Bible, and the other reading the psalm through the eyes of women in Myanmar. There is also an article on angst in wisdom literature.

The third section brings God and humans into dialogue, looking at how various interpretations of suffering in the psalms shape the view of the divine–human relationship, or how God and humans relate to each other in books like Jonah and Ruth. The fourth and last section of the book focuses on God and God’s people, where new proposals are presented on the roles played by Zion and by the ten commandments.

This volume presents stimulating and up-to-date engagements with its theme, an excellent resource for scholars of both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament.

Series: Hebrew Bible Monographs, 85
978-1-910928-62-2 hardback
Publication October 2019.
xx + 341 pp.

Bullinger on the Notion of Transubstantiation

We do not acknowledge any transubstantiation to be made by force of words or characters; but we affirm, that the bread and wine remain as they are in their own substances, but that there is added unto them the institution, will, and word of Christ, and so become a sacrament, and so differ much from common bread and wine, as we have said in place convenient.

And

Now it is evident and plain, that after consecration there remaineth in the sacrament the substance of bread and wine; and herein we need no other witnesses than our very senses, which perceive, see, taste, and feel, no other thing than bread and wine.

Amen.

Fun Facts From Church History: While Luther Was Away, Karlstadt Did Play

According to the editor of Luther’s works (English),

After October 13, 1521, masses were no longer celebrated in the Augustinian monastery at Wittenberg; on October 17, Karlstadt presided at a disputation where it was, proposed that all masses be abolished. On other occasions he expressed himself about images, etc., in such phrases as: “Organs belong only to theatrical exhibitions and princes’ palaces”; “Images in churches are wrong”; “Painted idols standing on altars are even more harmful and devilish.”

He wasn’t wrong.  But those remarks didn’t calm things down.  On the contrary-

The impact of such ideas and sentiments upon a student body and a populace which had seen their famous professor publicly burn the volumes of canon law and even the papal bull which excommunicated him, inevitably led to demonstrations, some hilarious, others destructive. On October 5 and 6, 1521, a crowd of students jeered and threatened a monk of St. Anthony who had come to Wittenberg to collect alms for his order.  On November 12, the prior of the Augustinian cloister complained to the elector that some monks who had left the cloister had joined forces with citizens and students to stir up trouble for the monks who remained faithful, and that he himself hesitated to appear on the street for fear of being attacked.

Reports of extreme measures and consequent unrest in Wittenberg gave Luther such concern that he determined to pay a secret visit to Wittenberg in his assumed character of “Junker Georg,” wearing a beard and the trappings of a knight. Traveling by way of Leipzig, he arrived in Wittenberg on December 4, 1521, lodging at the home of his colleague, Amsdorf, where he was able to confer with a few of his most intimate friends. After a stay of three days, when rumors of his presence began to spread, he departed as quietly as he had come, reaching the Wartburg by December 11.

I like Karlstadt.  Sure, he went crazy eventually and joined the 16th century equivalent of the Montanists (Pentebabbleists), but early on, like Tertullian, he was super fun.

Sad News: Ulrich Luz Has Died

How sad.  His massive commentary on Matthew is one of the best ever written.  Not to mention his many other works.

Der bekannte evangelische Theologe und Neutestamentler Ulrich Luz ist am 13. Oktober im Alter von 81 Jahren gestorben. Dies teilte die Theologische Fakultät der Universität Bern mit. Die Universität verliere einen «innovativen, international angesehenen Forscher und engagierten Lehrer», der Generationen von Theologen und Pfarrerinnen geprägt habe, heisst es in der Mitteilung.

Der im zürcherischen Männedorf geborene Luz studierte evangelische Theologie in Zürich, Göttingen und Basel und habilitierte mit einer Arbeit über Apostel Paulus. Kurze Zeit war er Pfarrer in Zürich-Seebach. Von 1980 bis zu seiner Pensionierung war Luz Professor für Neues Testament an der Universität Bern. Zu seinen Forschungsschwerpunkten gehörte das Matthäus-Evangelium, zu dem er einen vierbändigen Kommentar schrieb.

Etc.  May he rest in peace.

Sin: An Observation

Sin does as much damage to the body as it does to the soul.  Over time, the physical effects of sin take as great a toll as the spiritual affects.  That’s why God hates it so.

The Borg

The ‘Progressive Left’ are the Borg.

All progressives really desire is absolute domination through assimilation- which they strive to accomplish through demonizing, marginalizing, and silencing.

Progressives are the least tolerant subculture in human history.

The ‘Progressive Left’ are the Borg.

And Now For Something Completely Different: How to Silence Unknown Numbers So You Never Hear them Call

The best thing about iOS 13 is this.

iOS 13 has a new feature that might just save you from all spam and robocalls. The new Silence Unknown Callers feature will mute all calls coming from a number that’s not in your contact list.  Silence Unknown Callers is a simple toggle that will automatically block unknown numbers from calling you. Your contacts and people you’ve interacted with will still be able to call you, but you won’t be bothered by incoming calls from anyone else.

This feature isn’t enabled by default. To enable it after upgrading to iOS 13, open the Settings app and go to the “Phone” section.  Scroll to the bottom of the page and tap on the toggle next to “Silence Unknown Callers” to enable the feature.

I haven’t been bothered once since I enabled the feature.  And if a real person calls and I don’t have their number in my contacts, they can leave a message and I’ll call back.  Thanks, Apple, for something really useful.

Can Anyone Assist in a Manuscript Identification?

Hi all.  Can anyone identify this volume (place of publication, date of publication)?  It’s a copy of Luther’s catechism, in Swedish, and it looks to be 16th century.

Thanks.

UPDATE:  I’ve received this reply-

This is definitely Luther’s Small Catechism in old Swedish. It’s the beginning Part 1 on the Ten Commandments. The picture looks like its included in a larger book rather than just a pamphlet. Perhaps it was published with the Augsburg Confession after the Uppsala Synod of 1593 when these confessions were officially adopted by the Church of Sweden. But you’d have to see the title page to know the date and place of publication.

Frank Senn

Signs of the Times

Sad News: Paul has Died

What will New Testament scholars do with themselves now?  Who will they write about????   Poor things.  This obviously puts an end to the entire cottage industry of Christian writers centered on this one guy (who wasn’t even one of The Twelve, for pete’s sake).  Anyway, Richard Goode has the sad news of Paul’s passing.

I Think I’ll Post This Every Wednesday

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 stranger 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)

The fate of the compassion-less is sealed.

And Now, Even More Manuscript Fragments Have Turned up to Have Been Stolen

Andrew Stimer’s Pieces of P129 and P131 and Their Fake Provenance

Just minutes ago, an announcement was made by Greg Paulson on the Institute for New Testament Textual Research (INTF) Blog, Münster, concerning P129 and P131. Note in particular the part in italics which is the provenance story that Andrew Stimer provided for his pieces (which is obviously fake, but who faked it? Stimer or the person who sold it to him – Obbink?):

There’s been a lot of discussion and speculation in the past few months about two new 2nd/3rd century papyrus fragments, first mentioned by Brent Nongbri as papyri being displayed by Scott Carroll in 2018. We were contacted earlier this year by Andrew Stimer, a private collector in California, who wanted to obtain G-A numbers for two papyrus fragments that he acquired in 2015. The fragments are of 1 Corinthians and Romans. Stimer provided us with unpublished scholar’s reports, which he received in 2016 and 2017: the report for 1 Corinthians was done by Dirk Obbink (who dates the fragment to mid-2nd cent.) and the report on Romans was done by Jeffery Fish (who dates the fragment to the first half of the 3rd cent.).

Through Nongbri’s blog, the INTF was already alerted to the possibility that the papyri in Stimer’s possession were parts of other papyri already registered in the Liste, P129 (1 Cor) and P131 (Romans), which are currently at the Museum of the Bible (MOTB). These numbers, P129 and P131, were assigned to the papyri at MOTB in 2015 so they could include this information in a planned publication with Brill, although this has not been published.

Over the past few months, we’ve been working to (a) verify the authenticity of Stimer’s fragments and (b) decide whether they belong to P129 and P131. The MOTB kindly provided us with images of P129 and P131 so we could make comparisons. We shared images of Stimer’s two fragments with Michael Holmes, and scholars at the Museum of the Bible Scholar’s Initiative were of the opinion that the fragments did indeed belong together. The pieces were analyzed by a number of INTF staff but we still had some lingering questions. We requested expert advice from papyrologist Panagiota Sarischouli at the University of Thessaloniki so we could get an external opinion.

A few weeks ago, Sarischouli graciously provided us with an extensive report confirming the authenticity of the fragments. She noted, “I can say that I have no reason to believe that Stimer’s fragments are fakes; if they are forgeries, they are masterly done!!!” Sarischouli stated, “There can be little doubt that the two fragments (Stimer’s 1 Cor. + P129) belong to the same codex page. Although there are some slight differences between the two handwritings, the hand is identical.” She also agreed with the dates proposed by Obbink and Fish. We are very grateful to her for providing such extensive information about these fragments.

We have now assigned Stimer’s 1 Corinthians fragment to the already registered P129, and have assigned his Romans fragment to the already registered P131 fragment. We can now update the contents of these papyri:

Stimer’s portion of P129 is: 1 Cor 7:32-379:10-16
MOTB’s portion of P129 is: 1 Cor 8:10-9:327-10:6
Stimer’s portion of P131 is: Rom 9:21-2310:3-4
MOTB’s portion of P131 is: Rom 9:18-2133-10:2

With regard to provenance, Stimer provided us with the following report for his pieces:

I acquired both of the manuscripts in the summer of 2015 from Mr. M. Elder of Dearborn, Michigan. He bought them the previous year, in April 2014, via a private treaty sale executed by Christie’s London. The fragments were part of a collection of texts that had been in the Pruitt family since the 1950s. Dr. Rodman Pruitt was an industrialist and inventor in southern Indiana who was known as a collector of manuscripts, books and artifacts of various kinds. He acquired his papyri from Harold Maker, a well-known dealer in manuscripts who was based in Irvington, New Jersey. I am told that the Trismegistos database lists numerous published papyri originally sold by Harold Maker. [Coincidentally, I have another manuscript in my collection that also came through Harold Maker, and with it are copies of sales materials he issued in the early 1950s.] I contacted Christie’s London to confirm that they had indeed conducted the private treaty sale of manuscripts that had passed by descent through the Pruitt family. I communicated with Dr. Eugenio Donadoni, Director of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts. He confirmed that the consignor of the collection that was sold in April 2014 was a relative of Dr. Rodman Pruitt, though he was of course restricted in the amount of information he was at liberty to provide to me. The sale included various papyri, in Coptic, Greek and Syriac. I was satisfied that the information I had been given at the time of the acquisition was correct.

We recently learned, however, that the two fragments belonging to the MOTB previously belonged to the Egypt Exploration Society (EES), see here and were sold without their permission. While many questions still remain regarding Stimer’s papyri, it seems highly probable that his pieces were also once part of the EES collection and were sold without their permission (see here). We have notified Stimer of this and updated the Liste entries in the NT.VMR (P129 and P131) to reflect this. We hope to upload images of Stimer’s papyri and the MOTB papyri on the NT.VMR for public viewing after the issue of provenance has been resolved.

In light of this problematic provenance and so many open questions, we have debated whether to register these two papyri. We are aware that the designation of a G-A number may have the unfortunate side effect of inflating the value of a manuscript on the antiquities market. However, our primary focus when deciding whether to include a new manuscript in the Kurzgefasste Liste has been verifying its authenticity and collecting key data so these manuscripts can be made known to the wider scholarly community. Our hope is that registering these manuscripts in the Liste, where all information is made publically available on the NT.VMR, will enable any unprovenanced manuscripts to be located (or re-located) as effectively as possible.

Update: More on “Mr. Elder” and his connection to Dirk Obbink over att Brent Nongbri’s blog here.

Oh yes, there’s more.  ‘Enjoy’.  There sure are a lot of sketchy textual scholars out there.  I guess old texts are where the money is, and, as we all know, the love of money is the root of all sorts of evils.