Another Day, Another Shooting in America

Near Nashville.  America…  Nothing needs to be said about shootings in America.  Everything has been said.

Saturday Book Notes: The Commentary

Everyone needs a commentary on the Bible that they can understand and that answers their questions about the meaning of the text.  So I wrote one for lay people on the whole Bible.

The set runs $75.  This very low cost has been decided upon because I’m very keen to make it accessible to a lay audience.  At $75 it’s less than any other commentary on the entire Bible, so a bargain indeed.   Listen to Prof Dr Ralph Keen- ‘$75 is a mere fraction of its true value!’

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.

******

[I] wanted to thank you for your commentary set I recently acquired. My daughter Chloe (age 11) and I are using the one on Mark as we read through and discuss the gospel every second evening. It helps shed light on the text without being academically burdensome for us to work through. .. [Y]our comments are pitched wonderfully for anyone wanting to begin serious engagement with the text. It also complements the more ‘scholarly’ works. – Blessings, David Booth

 

Tsundoku… a Word for Academics to Learn, Use, and Share

Signs of the Times

The Rise of Islam and Agnosticism Coincides with the Decline of Christianity

You Can’t Escape Death

As your weekend gets underway, remember, dear soul, you can’t, you won’t escape death.  Learn to number your days…

It Was True In Amos’s Day And It’s True Today

Hebrew ScribeThey hate the one who rebukes in the gate, And they abhor the one who speaks uprightly.

Therefore, because you tread down the poor And take grain taxes from him, Though you have built houses of hewn stone, Yet you shall not dwell in them; You have planted pleasant vineyards, But you shall not drink wine from them. For I know your manifold transgressions And your mighty sins: Afflicting the just and taking bribes; Diverting the poor from justice at the gate. Therefore the prudent keep silent at that time, For it is an evil time.

Seek good and not evil, That you may live; So the LORD God of hosts will be with you, As you have spoken. Hate evil, love good; Establish justice in the gate. It may be that the LORD God of hosts Will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

Therefore the LORD God of hosts, the Lord, says this: “There shall be wailing in all streets, And they shall say in all the highways,`Alas! Alas!’ They shall call the farmer to mourning, And skillful lamenters to wailing. In all vineyards there shall be wailing, For I will pass through you,” Says the LORD.  Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! For what good is the day of the LORD to you? It will be darkness, and not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion, And a bear met him! Or as though he went into the house, Leaned his hand on the wall, And a serpent bit him!  Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light? Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it? (Amos 5:10-20)

Buffonery: Alcohol Church

Not the Onion.

Dressed in a red robe and a gold-trimmed bishop’s miter, the clergyman pours whiskey into his cupped hand and anoints the forehead of the man sitting before him.

“You are hereby invested as a minister … This is a double tot,” he says of the remaining whiskey in the chalice. He hands it to the new minister, who downs it.

“Hallelujah!” shout the congregation members who erupt in singing and dancing, swigging from bottles of beer.

Welcome to Gabola Church, which celebrates the drinking of alcohol. The South African church was started eight months ago and has found an enthusiastic following.

It won’t be long till Steven Furtick or Joel Osteen see this as something crowd enticing.

*Trumpvangelicals Would Support Trump Even If He Were the Antichrist

The results of an extensive Gallup poll were released Friday afternoon confirming that if President Donald Trump were discovered to be the Antichrist described in the Bible, his support among American evangelicals would not be negatively affected.

The study even indicated that evangelical support for Trump would go up in certain states if he were outed as the beast from the sea, empowered by the dragon to utter blasphemies against God and conquer the saints.

“Our research indicates that if he were discovered to the Antichrist, the lawless one from the Book of Revelation, President Trump’s support among American evangelicals would not be affected in the least,” a Gallup spokesman said. “Many said they would ‘double down,’ in that case, confident that their president would be ‘playing 4D chess’ with his enemies.”

“King David had issues too,” many also responded, according to the report.

Yup.  And Yup.  They really would.  Just ask Eric Metaxas and Jerry Falwell Jr and Robert Jeffress and Franklin Graham where their ‘red line’ for Trump is and you’ll discover that they have none.  Trumpvangelicals.

The Magician Who Ate the Horse and Cart and Driver…

According to Luther-

There was at Nieuburg a magician named Wildferer, who, one day, swallowed a countryman, with his horse and cart. A few hours afterwards, man, horse, and cart, were all found in a slough, some miles off. I have heard, too, of a seeming monk, who asked a wagoner, that was taking some hay to market, how much he would charge to let him eat his fill of hay? The man said, a kreutzer, whereupon the monk set to work, and had nearly devoured the whole load, when the wagoner drove him off.*

___________________
*The Table Talk of Martin Luther: New Edition trans. William Hazlitt, New Edition. (London: H. G. Bohn, 1857), 251.

Early Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Bd. II/2

The publisher provided a review copy, some months back which I have enjoyed reading tremendously.  All 950+ pages.  My review will post next week- so until then visit the link above and check out the front matter and the contents.

This volume is a part of a tremendously important series of volumes being published over the course of the next several years which will become the standard for research for decades to come: Acta et Documenta Synodi Nationalis Dordrechtanae (1618–1619).(ADSND), A Project of the Johannes A Lasco Bibliothek Emden.

The Synod of Dordrecht 1618/1619 was one of the most important church councils in the history of the reformed tradition. International delegates from all over Europe served as important participants and played a significant role in the evaluation of Remonstrant doctrine and in the formation of the canons. The Synod made important pronouncements on issues like Sunday observance, catechism instruction, and theological education.Given the continuing worldwide historical significance of the Synod’s canons and church order, the absence of a critical scholarly edition of the majority of documents composed at the time of the Synod is remarkable. The Johannes a Lasco Bibliothek in Emden, being a leading research center for the history and theology of Reformed Protestantism, has taken the initiative to edit the Acts of the Synod of Dordrecht 1618/1619. The edition is organized as a RefoRC project with the participation of several institutions and scholars in Europe and North-America.

A Test

Dear friends, don’t believe every spirit. Test the spirits to see if they are from God because many false prophets have gone into the world. This is how you know if a spirit comes from God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come as a human is from God, and every spirit that doesn’t confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and is now already in the world. (1 Jn. 4:1-3)

So This Is Where We Are as a Country

How Writing Happens

For Your Exegetical Reading Pleasure

ἐξ ἡμῶν ἐξῆλθαν ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ἦσαν ἐξ ἡμῶν, εἰ γὰρ ἐξ ἡμῶν ἦσαν, μεμενήκεισαν ἂν μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν ἀλλ᾽ ἵνα φανερωθῶσιν ὅτι οὐκ εἰσὶν πάντες ἐξ ἡμῶν. (1 Jn. 2:19)

They went out from us, but they were not of us. The meaning of this sentence turns on the understanding of from and of. Both are expressed by the same Greek preposition (“out-of”), which can indicate origin, but also membership of a group.

The first clause, they went out from us, is meant to draw attention to the fact that the antichrists had been members of the congregation, as well as to the fact that they left it. This is brought out in such renderings as, ‘these men went out from (or left) our company,’ ’ (it was) from among us (that) they went out.’—The verb “to go out from” is in the aorist, indicating that the reference is to a definite event in the past.

They were not of us. For “to be of” cp. v. 16. The clause serves to say that the antichrists (that is, the false teachers) have been members only in the outward appearance of things, not in the full sense of the word; hence, “these people really did not belong to our group” (TEV), ‘they were not our real companions,’ ‘their hearts were not fully the same as ours.’

Further rearrangement of the sentence pattern is sometimes idiomatically preferable. It may result in a rendering like, ‘they seemed to be (one) with us but now they have gone out.’

If they had been of us, they would have continued with us. The whole sentence is given in a form that shows it to be contrary to fact. The if-clause is the opposite of the preceding proposition.

The words they had been of us repeat what goes directly before, a repetition that is characteristic for John’s style. If idiom compels the translator to avoid such repetition, he may say, for example, ‘if that (really) had been so.’

The verb of the second clause, “to continue” (lit. “to remain”), is in the pluperfect in the Greek, which tense has the force of a combined aorist and imperfect. It serves here to state that the false teachers would have been with us in the past and would still be with us in the present. This is sometimes better expressed negatively, for example, ‘they would not have left us.’

But they went out, that, lit. “but in-order-that,” represents an ellipsis in the Greek. This ellipsis is to be filled out by repeating the verbal expression of the preceding clause (as RSV does), or by adding a more generic expression, for example,’ but this happened in order that.’

This construction occurs also in Mark 14:49 (the parallel Matt 26:56 is non-elliptical); John 1:8; 9:3; 13:18; 15:25. It often has the connotation of referring to something that is ordained by God. Therefore it can also be rendered by some phrase suggesting divine necessity. This may lead in the present sentence to a rendering like, ‘it had to become plain that they all are not of us.’

It might be plain is in the Greek lit. “they might-be-shown,” then, “they might become known”; or “they might show themselves.” The subject is the same as that of the preceding verbs in the verse, namely, the antichrists. Some receptor languages follow the non-personal construction of RSV, for example, ‘it might be shown,’ ‘it might become known,’ ‘it might become visible/clear.’ In others one can better shift to a rendering like, ‘we (inclusive) might see their situation clearly.’ The next clause indicates what that situation is.

They all are not of us. The Greek word order is, “not they-are all of us.” Rendered as in the RSV, the subject they refers to the antichrists, whereas “all” emphasizes they, and not negates the predicate are … of us. Another possibility is that not negates all, and all … not means “none”; hence, ‘none of them is of us,’ “none of them really belonged to our group” (TEV). Both interpretations are possible, and semantically they do not differ much, but the second one may be a better model of translation.

Quite a different interpretation is followed in versions that take all to be the subject and to refer to the congregation, cp. ‘not all are of us’ (NV), “not all in our company truly belong to it” (NEB). This interpretation would seem to be the less probable one for two reasons. (1) The shift of subject it presupposes would be rather unexpected in this verse. (2) To take not as restricting all (in the sense of, “not all, only some of them”) would require a different Greek word order, namely, “not all they-are of us” instead of “not they-are all of us” (cp. for example, 1 Cor 10:23)*

____________________
* C. Haas, Marinus de Jonge, and J. L. Swellengrebel, A Handbook on the Letters of John, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), 63–64.

Sorry, Angry Atheists, But…

I don’t allow anonymous comments.  Sorry, but if you can’t put on your big girl panties and own your words, I have no interest in hearing them.

#ICYMI – An Interview With Philip Davies of the Palestine Exploration Fund

Prof. Davies was gracious and generous and granted an interview about his work with the PEF

What exactly is the PEF, and when was it founded?

The Palestine Exploration Fund was set up 150 years ago ‘for the purpose of investigation the Archaeology, Geography, Geology and Natural History of the Holy Land’. The word ‘Fund’ appropriately designated its primary activity of raising money by subscription and donation in order to finance this ambitious undertaking.
After a meeting on May 12th 1865 in the Jerusalem Chamber, Westminster, London, chaired by the Archbishop of York, the Fund, with the patronage of Queen Victoria, held its first meeting on June 22nd. Here the Archbishop declared three principles: whatever done must be on scientific principles; the Society should abstain from controversy; and it should not be started, nor conducted, as a religious society.

The meeting resolved further ‘that the exploration of Jerusalem and many other places in the Holy Land by means of excavations would probably throw much light upon the Archaeology of the Jewish people’. Accordingly, although there was obviously a focus of interest on biblical antiquity, the meeting called for a systematic survey, including the collection of plants and minerals, of the ‘Holy Land’, and recommended that ‘facts requisite for a systematic history be noted by competent observers on the spot’. So geography, geology and ecology were also part of its remit. In addition, it was noted ‘that the Biblical scholar may yet receive assistance in illustrating the sacred text from careful observers of the manners and habits of the people of the Holy Land’. This last comment reflects a view that might be criticized as an aspect of colonial mentality and ‘orientalism’—that life in nineteenth century Palestine very closely resembled that in the biblical period. But it was born, I think, less of an imperialist mindset and more from a mixture of naivety, curiosity and enthusiasm. Nor was it totally untrue in every respect, although many of those sent out on the Fund’s behalf to carry out research quickly came to realize that it was far from being entirely the case.

Among those who have explored Palestine under the Fund’s patronage are Charles Wilson, Charles Warren, Claude Conder, Horatio Kitchener, Gottlieb Schumacher, William Flinders Petrie, Frederick Bliss, Robert Macalister, Leonard Woolley, T.E. Lawrence, John Garstang, John Crowfoot, Kathleen Kenyon and Olga Tufnell.

What is its mission?

We still maintain the original aims of the Fund: to promote knowledge and understanding of every aspect of the land of Palestine at all periods, though archaeology, ethnology, anthropology, geology and any scientific means. In keeping with the founding principle of non-controversy, too, we continue to disclaim any political or religious ideology, though our membership obviously embraces a wide range of interests. The Fund initially published a Quarterly Statement of its activities, which became the Palestine Exploration Quarterly, and this we continue to produce, along with the PEF Annuals and other books. We have accumulated a great deal of material from our activities—written records, an extensive repertoire of pictures and photographs, and some artifacts—and these need curating, preservation, editing and digitizing. We also maintain a large library, to which our members and visitors have access. In addition, we provide grants for research and, in conjunction with the British Museum, we organize monthly lectures. We also lend materials to exhibitions and hope to continue to be able to organize touring exhibitions of our own.

How did you become involved with the organization?

Like many scholars, I have long known of, and used, the Fund’s facilities, and when I was asked whether I would like to join the Committee, I had little hesitation in agreeing because I have been so often to Palestine and developed a great affection for it, and a concern for its past, present and future. Having been elected as the Chair of the Committee I shall, I hope, remain actively involved with it for five more years. Biblical scholars have always contributed to the work of the PEF but our interest in the entire history and culture of Palestine means that a very wide range of people and of expertise is represented at every level. This makes us a bit different from societies interested mainly in biblical antiquity.

How might others become involved?

First of all, by joining: there are no restrictions on membership; the subscription is modest and includes the PEQ. There is still a wealth of material in our possession that requires analysis and we are keen to encourage new members to participate in our ongoing work to make the material more accessible through publication and digitization. We are also in the process of increasing our international profile by establishing a North American presence, which, under current plans, will be centred in Chicago. Although a lot of information is already accessible on our website (www.pef.org.uk), we are also planning to provide a members’ area which will afford restricted access to further materials, including videocasts of our lectures.

What do you see as the most important aspect of its work?

Different people will give different answers, because we cover so much ground and from so many different angles. But we would all accept that Palestine’s history and culture are nowadays strongly contested and subject to a great deal of popular misunderstanding. Much of its heritage is disappearing, and the PEF is an important, neutral promoter of all aspects of that heritage. As a biblical scholar, I naturally have a professional interest in just one small part of that history, though I was trained also as a student of Islam and I have an interest in Palestine especially as a place in which both imperial powers (from Egypt to Britain) as well as major religions, have settled, fought and sometimes come to some accommodation. As a bridge between three continents, it is also in its own right a very special part of our planet. I think the PEF’s dedication to the whole of its history (and prehistory) makes us special.

How does the PEF refrain from the trap of the politicization of archaeology?

Politicians always seek to control our understanding of the past, and the PEF’s own efforts were from the outset subject to attempts at political influence, especially in the years before the war of 1914-18. It is also, I think, well known that archaeology in modern Israel is part of a national effort not only to neutrally explore the past but to promote knowledge of Jewish connections with it. We are often approached from many sides by those interested in what we regard as political agendas, and we take care not to be seen to lend support to these aims. We encourage scholars and non-scholars of all persuasions to make full use of our resources but also to share our own aims and principles.

What are the perils involved in even using the name ‘Palestine’ in the organization’s title?

We have always used Palestine as a geographical designation, including Israel, part of Jordan and some of Syria, and it has been used continuously for the region for 2000 years. There really is no sound reason to abandon this usage. I am aware that ‘Land of Israel’ is the Jewish name for Palestine, and there is of course an Israel Exploration Society that covers the same geographical area as the PEF and publishes a corresponding Journal. But ‘Israel’ belongs to only a part of Palestine’s history and geography, and the same would be true of any territory occupied by a State of Palestine.

What are the future aims and goals of the PEF?

We need, most of all, to continue the digitizing of our collections, and with that our use of social media and digital communication, in order to offer members from outside the UK the tangible benefits they should enjoy of having access to news and material online as well as visiting our offices when in London. So in the last few years we have created in addition to a Facebook page, our own blog and Twitter feed, and we plan to create a members’ area on our website through which they can freely access some of our archives and download podcasts of our monthly lectures at the British Museum.

How can those interested in archaeology in the Levant help the PEF achieve its goals?

First of all by helping to finance our work. This can be through becoming members, but we are also most grateful for any other contributions in the form of bequests or endowments or donations of books to our library. We are a charity and while our income matches our expenditure there is much more we would love to be able to do to display our collections more fully and to develop them further. Second, by contributing to our publications, and participating in our online activity. For those living in London or nearby, we also have work to offer to volunteers. The Fund was not established as a learned society, and its membership is by no means dominated by scholars. We want to attract anyone with a genuine interest in any aspect of the land of Palestine.

Thank you, Philip!

#ICYMI – Philip Davies is on Academia.edu

daviesAnd he’s uploaded several papers.  Most recently-  The History of Ancient Israel and Judah.  And previously ‘Ancient Israel’ and History:A Response to Norman Whybray and Dualism and Eschatology in 1Qm and first of all Reading and Teaching the Bible.

Enjoy.

The Last Judgment

Approaching the Study of Theology: An Introduction to Key Thinkers, Concepts, Methods & Debates

From the opening pages of the Bible, we learn of God as one who communicates with humankind—offering us first steps toward knowledge of the divine, the very foothold of theology. On this basis, Approaching the Study of Theology presents an engaging introduction to the breadth and depth of the study of theology, mapping the significant landmarks as well as the main areas of debate.

The book is divded into three parts:

Part I (Approaches) describes the major approaches to theology that have emerged and developed over time.

Part II (Concepts and Issues) explains the major concepts and issues, identifying theologians associated with each.

Part III (Key Terms) provides a helpful glossary of all the key terms that readers need to understand in order to better understand theology.

IVP have sent along a prepublication draft of this new work by Professor Thiselton.  In my review please note that no page numbers will be included because the draft manuscript includes none.

The work consists of an overview of theological trends in the introduction.  This overview discusses the biblical roots of theology and a description of  the major periods of theological development. Part One is very much akin to a ‘bible dictionary’ which lists, in alphabetical sequence, methodological approaches to theology including biblical theology, hermeneutical theology, political theology, and systematic theology among others.  Part Two adopts the same alphabetical sequencing but it’s concern is ‘Concepts and Issues’ like Atonement, Authority of the Bible, Justification, Resurrection of the Dead, etc.  These discussions, like those of part one, tend to be full and ‘encyclopedic’.  Indeed, part two is the bulk of the volume.  The third part of the volume, Key Terms, is simply a glossary.

The presentation is, necessarily, very general.  That is, each concept, term, method, etc. is described in quite sweeping terms.  The work aims to introduce, and merely introduce, the basics of theological enquiry.  The details are relatively accurate overall but sometimes they are incredibly inaccurate.

One glaring problem is what Thiselton writes about the Marburg conference:

In 1529 it became clear that there were disagreements among the Reformers on the nature of the Lord’s Supper.  Deeply concerned for Reformation unity, Luther sought a friendly conference with Zwingli, Melanchthon, and Bullinger (sic !)at Marburg. He did his best to achieve a united witness but Zwingli and others held firm in their beliefs…

The problems here are multiple: Luther didn’t seek any conference, friendly or otherwise, with Zwingli.  He was essentially forced into meeting with Zwingli and the others by Prince Philip.  He never wanted to participate and told friends on numerous occasions that the whole thing would be a waste of time.  He even wrote the Margrave thusly

I am indeed absolutely convinced that Your Sovereign Grace is completely sincere and has the best of intentions. For this reason I, too, am ready and willing to render my services in this, Your Sovereign Grace’s Christian undertaking, though I fear [my services] may be futile and perhaps dangerous for us. (Luther’s Works, Vol. 49: 230.)

Luther wasn’t interested in the meeting and thought it was a bad idea.

Further, Bullinger wasn’t there (see below).  And it wasn’t Luther who wanted to achieve a united witness but, again, the Prince and neither was it the others who were most intransigent- it was Luther.  In sum, then, the portrait of Luther here is totally wrong.  Thiselton simply misstates nearly every fact.

As mentioned just above, the draft contains one particular error that I have reported to the publisher in hopes that there is still time before printing to correct it: Thiselton remarks, wrongly, that the conference in Marburg included Zwingli, Luther, and Bullinger (!).   Bullinger will be quite surprised to learn that.  Having offered a correction I’m happy to say that, thankfully, the editor has indeed agreed that this is an error (in consultation with the author) and have asserted that it will be corrected before the printing is completed.

The rest of the volume is not free of such egregious mistakes either, though.  For instance, in his treatment in part 3 of terms, Thiselton writes

The Greek words daimon and daimonion occur over 1200 times each and the verb daimonizomai over 1200 times in the Synoptic Gospels.

This is simply untrue.  ‘daimon’ doesn’t occur at all.  δαιμόνιον occurs only 15 times. δαιμονίου occurs 4 times.  And the verbal form δαιμονίζεται occurs but once.  In fact, δαιμον* in all its various forms only occurs 78 times in the entire New Testament.

Thiselton has written a volume that contains much that is useful.  But readers should fact-check his assertions via other resources.  He isn’t always accurate.