Author Archives: Jim

Signs of the Times

Today With Zwingli

The prohibition to the clergy of marriage comes from the devil not from God. — Huldrych Zwingli

Jerome: On Cowardice

caravaggio-st-jeromeAlthough I will not listen to fault-finders, I will follow the advice of teachers. To direct the fighter how to fight when you yourself occupy a post of vantage on the wall is a kind of teaching that does not commend itself; and when you are yourself bathed in perfumes, it is unworthy to charge a bleeding soldier with cowardice.

Nor in saying this do I lay myself open to a charge of boasting that while others have slept I only have entered the lists. My meaning simply is that men who have seen me wounded in this warfare may possibly be a little too cautious in their methods of fighting.

I would not have you engage in an encounter in which you will have nothing to do but to protect yourself, your right hand remaining motionless while your left manages your shield. You must either strike or fall. I cannot account you a victor unless I see your opponent put to the sword. – St. Jerome

A New Link Added

Under the ‘Reformation Texts’ section of the navigation panel- e-Codices.  It’s fantastically rich in materials.


Quote of the Day

“I do not know how those who like to have nails much longer than necessary can keep them free of dirt” – Cyril of Alexandria

Overcoming Temptation, According to Erasmus

“But the tempter is put back most of all by this means, if thou shalt either vehemently hate, abhor and defy, and in a manner spit at him straightway whensoever he enticeth and moveth thee with any temptation, or else if thou pray fervently or get thyself to some holy occupation, setting thine whole mind thereunto: or if thou make answer to the tempter with words set out of holy scripture, as I have warned thee before. In which thing verily it shall not profit meanly against all kind of temptation to have some certain sentences prepared and ready, specially those with which thou hast felt thy mind to be moved and stirred vehemently.” — Desiderius Erasmus, Enchiridion Militis Christiani (London: Methuen & Co., 1905), 235–236.

The Answer is No. No, He Cannot.

‘Grounded in the Faith’ & ‘Internalizing the Faith’

These two little books arrived today from the publisher for review:

I’ve thumbed through them and they are both brief and will be easily read in an hour or so.  Look for my review as soon as I get to them and through them.  More anon.

A Volume of Potential Interest to you, Dear Reader


Erasmus’ Grave

Via the good folk at Brill-

In Appreciation of Larry Hurtado

Very nice.

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth

I was saddened to hear the news of Larry Hurtado’s leukemia reactivating after having been in remission for 9 months. I pray his strength in the Lord as he explores whatever options for care that he has, but I wanted to take a moment to note my appreciation for him and his work.

It’s no secret that I’m a lover of books and that I have a decent sized personal library. But there was a time when my library consisted of a single KJV Bible, an NIV Bible, and a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. This was what I had for the first 3.5–4 years of my salvation. And then in 2006 I purchased Brenton’s Septuagint, a New Oxford Annotated Apocrypha, Robert Letham’s The Holy Trinity: In Scripture, History, Theology, and Worship, and Simon Gathercole’s The Preexistent Son.

Letham and Gathercole were both springboards into various streams of scholarship…

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Student Evals from Last Semester

I taught Early Church History last semester and the Student evals have come in.  Here’s the summary bit for all courses taught by myself and all faculty for all time (so far)-

I’m kicking Arts and Education’s behinds…  and the School of Theology too.  Yay me!

[And yet I wonder- who are the two people who did not leave a positive response….]

Celebrating the Life of an Important Scholar: Ernst Käsemann

On 12 July, 1906 the inestimable E.Käsemann was born.  He wrote a lot!  A LOT!  He was productive, and brilliant, and gifted, and personable, and warm, and generous with his time, and conversational, and of course, controversial. Käsemann was – as all should know – the (yes, the, not simply ‘a’) student of Rudolf Bultmann.  But in good German fashion he broke with his teacher over several issues, most noticeably on the question of the historical Jesus. He also grew ever more annoyed about the state of New Testament scholarship and the influence of ‘fad’ methodologies and he really, really let fly in one of his last essays published in Evangelische Theologie (2/92) in an essay simply titled ‘Protest!’ (concerned chiefly with an earlier essay by Seim on Jewish exegesis of the New Testament). In his remembrance Wille notes that K. also endured his fair share of tragedy-

Von Politik, von Gewaltpolitik war er und seine Familie ganz persönlich betroffen: 1977 wurde seine einzige Tochter Elisabeth von der argentinischen Militärjunta ermordet. Die politischen, auch die persönlich leidvollen Erfahrungen seines Lebens haben in seinem theologischen Denken Spuren hinterlassen. Das macht seine Theologie unverwechselbar und  glaubwürdig.  Am 17. Februar 1998 ist Ernst Käsemann gestorben. Seine Theologie war anstößig  – anstößig um der Wahrheit, der heilsamen Wahrheit des Evangeliums willen. So zeigt sie bis heute noch Wirkung.

Truly, K’s work was and is “unverwechselbar und  glaubwürdig”. I had the privilege of corresponding with the great man shortly before his death.  Unfortunately the only letter I’ve been able to find from his is this one, his last to me:

The Death of Erasmus

melanchthon_erasmusOn his way [back to the Netherlands] he stopped in Basel in the house of Jerome Froben, August, 1535, and attended to the publication of Origen. It was his last work. He fell sick, and died in his seventieth year, July 12, 1536, of his old enemies, the stone and the gout, to which was added dysentery.

He retained his consciousness and genial humor to the last. When his three friends, Amerbach, Froben, and Episcopius, visited him on his death-bed, he reminded them of Job’s three comforters, and playfully asked them about the torn garments, and the ashes that should be sprinkled on their heads. He died without a priest or any ceremonial of the Church (in wretched monastic Latin: “sine crux, sine lux, sine Deus”), but invoking the mercy of Christ. His last words, repeated again and again, were, “O Jesus, have mercy; Lord, deliver me; Lord, make an end; Lord, have mercy upon me!”

Mark Driscoll Thinks People Care What He Thinks

But he’s wrong because 1) he’s a theological fraud and 2) he’s a grammatical ignoramus:

Why Do So Many Christians Fail to Practice What is Scripturally Preached?

For the same reason that Ananias and Sapphira did: they think they can plug their ears, ignore Scripture, and deceive God whilst appearing to be godly.

They’re wrong.

Boris *DJT* Johnson

A Proverb a Day in Biblical Hebrew

This book is a companion volume (of sorts) to the great series of books Hendrickson has published aimed at helping people keep up with their Greek and Hebrew and Aramaic.

Many of the sayings in the biblical book of Proverbs are difficult to read in Hebrew, even for those who know this language well. A Proverb a Day in Biblical Hebrew is designed to help readers of all levels of Hebrew competence meditate on and understand the concise and sometimes enigmatic sayings found in the book of Proverbs.

Each verse is presented on one page, which is marked with a day number (from 1 to 365) and a date (January 1 to December 31) so the book can be used as a daily reader or devotional. On each day’s page, the verse for the day is divided into two halves, based on the fact that each of the proverbs in the book constitutes a poetic couplet consisting of two parts. After each poetic line, all the words it contains are laid out and glosses are provided. All verbs (including participles) are fully parsed. Finally, at the bottom of the page, an English translation of the verse from two pages earlier is provided. This allows readers who are struggling with the meaning of a given day’s proverb, or those who wish to see one possible way it can be rendered, to flip the page and see a translation for it at the bottom of the next two-page spread. In this way, readers can choose to avail themselves of an “answer key” for any of the proverbs when they wish to, but they can also ignore this information (since it is located on the next two-page spread, there is no risk of accidentally seeing it while trying to puzzle through a proverb’s meaning).

A copy of the present book arrived on June 19th and I have made use of it each day since.  This wonderful volume presents readers with a simple two phrased Proverb each day along with glosses and Hebrew conjugations of various verbal forms.  It also includes an English translation of each Proverb, with a catch.  The translation can only be found on the bottom of the page two days later.  So, for instance, the translation of Proverbs 19:8 (Day 1) isn’t offered until Day 3, where it is found at the very bottom of the page.  And so on throughout the book.

The handy little volume also includes an alphabetical index of all the Hebrew words found in the book, along with the pages on which they are found.  Also found at the end of the book is an index of word frequency.  That is, words that occur on 52 days are listed.  Words that occur on 49 days, 48 days, 40 days, 38 days, etc. are all listed, all the way down to words found on just one day.  And finally, there is an index of passages from the Book of Proverbs.

The print on each individual day is large, and thus enjoyable.  And the opening pages of the volume are devoted to an explanation of the contents of the volume including a discussion of the selection of verses, the glosses, a brief overview of grammatical constructions, the parsings (or what we old timers call the conjugations), the Hebrew text used, text critical issues, and the English translations. Kline also spends a few pages explaining gendered and gender neutral language in the translations.

In a period of time when fewer and fewer Pastors and academics know Hebrew (or if they do know it they spend very little time retaining it or making use of it), this volume and the exceptionally well done volumes Hendrickson has published titled ‘The 2 Minutes a Day Biblical Language‘ series by the same author are a true boon.

The biblical languages are so utterly important that they genuinely need to be fully promoted and their learning fully supported.  This book helps do that.  If a person lacks the minute or so needed to read a proverb in Hebrew each day and to refresh their Hebrew thereby, they are far, far too occupied with trivialities and they need to examine their time management priorities.

All of us owe Hendrickson a great debt of gratitude for seemingly single handedly (in the biblical studies publishing field) striving to keep learning of the biblical languages alive.

To be sure, one can be familiar with the biblical text in many of the very fine translations available to English speaking people.  The REB for instance is superb.  But reading it is not the same as reading Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.  Reading the Bible in translation is like kissing your spouse through a sheet.  It may be somewhat satisfying, but it is clearly not everything that it could be.

Kiss your spouse on the skin of her (or his) lips.  Once you do that, you’ll scarcely have any interest in kissing them through a sheet ever again.

James Crossley on the English Radical Tradition, in 3 Parts

Part One

Part Two

Part Three