Thursday, November 30, 2006

How do you follow up AAR/SBL?

Choosing a sale after AAR/SBL is always a dilemma. A large percentage of our customers attend AAR/SBL and have just purchased a fair number of books at a good discount. So, that pretty much eliminates Eisenbrauns titles and the newer distributed books. It also eliminates most other publishers' books, too, since they can offer a deeper discount than I can.

So, what to do? One obvious answer is to put used books on sale. Nobody was selling used books at AAR/SBL, so that market is open. So, watch for that to happen on Monday. Meantime, what to do for a 10 day sale? It's too late to give me feedback for this sale, but I still have 2 more before the end of the year.

What would you like Eisenbrauns to put on sale (and why)?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Quote for the day

The stuff of which the future society will be made is Man himself and you cannot build a marble temple with a mixture of mud and manure. — Eugene O'Neill

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Appearance versus reality?

<idle musing>
Yesterday, as I was walking home, I saw a nicely lit Christmas tree. It was a tall pine in the park I walk through. The tree is between the sidewalk that goes through the park and the road. As I got closer, something seemed wrong. The front of the tree was fully covered with lights, but the back of the tree had none. Obviously, the people in charge of decorations were concerned with putting on a show for people who would be driving to the nearby shops.

Sort of like the post I did on veneer a while back, only here there is no load bearing. The tree looks good, but only from a distance. How typical of our shallow existence in this post-modern world. We look good, but only from a distance. Our christianity can look good to an outsider, but don't get too close, only one side is decorated; we never really died to self. We don't really believe in the radical power of the Holy Spirit to truly transform/make new/regenerate. After all, we have to live the christian life, and we know we can't do it! How easily we forget that the truly Christian life is lived by the power of the Holy Spirit through people who have died to self and its desires.

This seems especially pertinent after coming back from the annual exhibit of pride called AAR/SBL. Don't get me wrong, I love AAR/SBL, but the amount of pride exhibited there is enough to fill a building 10 times the convention center (and I'm not exempt!). The alternative is moment by moment dependence on the Holy Spirit; trusting him to direct our thoughts and actions...of course, that isn't academic, since you can't measure and analyze it. But, it is more real than most things we can measure and analyze.

Just an idle musing on the last Tuesday before December...
</idle musing>

Yogurt explosion

Dave gave me the pictures from my "yogurt explosion" on the way back from AAR/SBL. I thought you might enjoy seeing my remodeled backpack :)

Quote for the day

“I, I am he that comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass, and have forgotten the Lord, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, and fear continually all the day because of the fury of the oppressor, when he sets himself to destroy? And where is the fury of the oppressor? He who is bowed down shall speedily be released; he shall not die and go down to the Pit, neither shall his bread fail. For I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord of hosts is his name. 16 And I have put my words in your mouth, and hid you in the shadow of my hand, stretching out the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, and saying to Zion, ‘You are my people.’” Isaiah 51:12-15 RSV

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Quote for the day

A quaint old divine of the seventeenth century says:

“There is nothing so contrary to God as sin, and God will not suffer sin always to rule his masterpiece, man. When we consider the infiniteness of God’s power for destroying that which is contrary to Him, who can believe that the devil must always stand and prevail? I believe it is inconsistent and disagreeable with true faith for people to be Christians, and yet to believe that Christ, the eternal Son of God, to whom all power in heaven and earth is given, will suffer sin and the devil to have dominion over them.

“But you will say no man by all the power he hath can redeem himself, and no man can live without sin. We will say, Amen, to it. But if men tell us, that when God’s power comes to help us and to redeem us out of sin, that it cannot be effected, then this doctrine we cannot away with; nor I hope you neither.

“Would you approve of it, if I should tell you that God puts forth His power to do such a thing, but the devil hinders Him? That it is impossible for God to do it because the devil does not like it? That it is impossible that any one should be free from sin because the devil hath got such a power in them that God cannot cast him out? This is lamentable doctrine, yet hath not this been preached? It doth in plain
terms say, though God doth interpose His power, it is impossible, because the devil hath so rooted sin in the nature of man. Is not man God’s creature, and cannot He new make him, and cast sin out of him? If you say sin is deeply rooted in man, I say so, too, yet not so deeply rooted but Christ Jesus hath entered so deeply into the root of the nature of man that He hath received power to destroy the devil and his works, and to recover and redeem man into righteousness and holiness. Or else it is false that ‘He is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him.’ We must throw away the Bible, if we say that it is impossible for God to deliver man out
of sin.

“We know,” he continues, “when our friends are in captivity, as in Turkey, or elsewhere, we pay our money for their redemption; but we will not pay our money if they be kept in their fetters still. Would not any one think himself cheated to pay so much money for their redemption, and the bargain be made so that he shall be said to be redeemed, and be called a redeemed captive, but he must wear his fetters still? How long? As long as he hath a day to live.

“This is for bodies, but now I am speaking of souls. Christ must be made to me redemption, and rescue me from captivity. Am I a prisoner any where? Yes, verily, verily, he that committeth sin, saith Christ, he is a servant of sin, he is a slave of sin. If thou hast sinned, thou art a slave, a captive that must be redeemed out of captivity. Who will pay a price for me? I am poor; I have nothing; I cannot redeem myself; who will pay a price for me? There is One come who hath paid a price for me. That is well; that is good news, then I hope I shall come out of my captivity. What is His name, is He called a Redeemer? So, then, I do expect the benefit of my redemption, and that I shall go out of my captivity. No, say they, you must abide in sin as long as you live. What! must we never be delivered? Must this crooked heart and perverse will always remain? Must I be a believer, and yet have no faith that reacheth to sanctification and holy living? Is there no mastery to be had, no getting victory over sin? Must it prevail over me as long as I live? What sort of a Redeemer, then, is this, or what benefit have I in this life, of my redemption?”—Hannah Whitall Smith in The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Franchise church

Great post over at Out of Ur

If the church is to be merely a dispenser of spiritual goods and advice, a place people pass through to get their religion fix, then we should follow the example of brand-driven corporate giants. But, if we hope to form meaningful communities of Christ-followers we shouldn’t neglect the power of being local. Rather than reading the latest branding book, why not gather mature leaders and listen for the Holy Spirit? How is he advising us to be the community of Christ in this unique place at this unique time?

<idle musing>
Now isn't that a novel idea, listening to the Holy Spirit! Dangerous, too. You never know what God might tell you to do. It probably won't be from the corporate play book, but it will definitely be for the building up of the saints. And, last time I checked anyway, the goal of the church was not numbers and glitz, but transformed lives that give glory to God in their daily living.
</idle musing>

Friday, November 24, 2006

Quote for the day

"We mass administer Myers-Briggs personality type and skill profile tests. Yet this misunderstands and changes the very functions of the gifts in community. Gifts are more than just one's inherent talent slots or personality traits best suited to a particular task. They are supernaturally endowed capacities to be discovered and owned within a living body of Christ. They are not merely inherent skill sets or propensities that can be tested for."—David Fitch in The Great Giveaway

<idle musing>
This has been a beef of mine for decades now. People confuse natural giftedness, which is definitely a gift from God at birth, with supernatural giftedness, which is a gift from God after rebirth. Everyone, whether Christian or not, is gifted by God at birth with certain talents. Those can be tested for, analyzed, categorized, developed, studied, whatever, to our heart's content. But, they are distinct and different from supernatural giftedness. Supernatural gifts are given by the Holy Spirit to the body of Christ for the edification of the church after regeneration.

But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love. Ephesians 4:7-17, RSV

Watchman Nee used to say that we should take people with no natural abilities and put them in positions of authority, that way they would know that they had to depend on God! I think that is going too far, but the point is valid. In my last job, I had no formal training for the position I held. Therefore, I knew I was totally dependent on God to survive. In this job, given the 13 years of college, seminary, graduate school, etc., I am able to depend on my natural skills. All too often the results are pride, unless I remember that even this is a gift of God.
</idle musing>


There is a new blog—well, I am sure there are thousands of them—but this one is about Bonhoeffer. So far he has reviewed 4 books. Be sure to check it out here.

HT: Jim West

Speaking of Bonhoeffer, with AAR/SBL and all, I haven't had a chance to read in Ethics for over a week. But, while there, I did get a copy of a delightful little book by Hendrickson Reflections on the Bible: Human Word and Word of God, a 2004 book which I somehow missed.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Today is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. For many that just means another day off and lots of food. But for others, and I wish I could say the majority, it is a time to consciously give thanks to God for all his rich blessings. I am truly thankful for all that God has done in my life in the last year, and I look forward to what he will do in the coming one, knowing "that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 (RSV)

1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have being.
3 Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no help.
4 When his breath departs he returns to his earth;
on that very day his plans perish.
5 Happy is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith for ever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the sojourners,
he upholds the widow and the fatherless;
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The Lord will reign for ever,
thy God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!

Psalm 146, RSV

What is human?

Over at Faith and Theology, Kim Fabricius has ten points on being human. Here is a short excerpt:

1. To be human is to be contingent. This has to be said first because while ontologically it is rather obvious, existentially it is deeply problematical. One way or another, we all know that we are not necessary, that we are here without a by-your-leave, that we have been “thrown” into existence. Whether by a vicious fastball, a deceptive slider, or a graceful curve depends on your faith – or, better, your trust. But human beings do not live this knowledge of contingency. Gifts of God to the world, we live like we are God’s gift to the world. We act like we are self-caused, self-made, independent, indispensable, as though our non-existence were inconceivable. We act, in other words, like God. And in acting like God we act against God. We sin.

2. To be human is to be self-contradictory. Sin is a surd, or, as Barth said, an impossible possibility. That is why we cannot fit sin into any system: it is inherently inexplicable, irrational – it doesn’t compute. To be human is also to be self-contradictory in the sense that in acting against God, we act against ourselves: we are self-destructive – we are always pushing our delete key. Indeed, left to ourselves we would destroy ourselves, irretrievably, which is not only murder but intended mass murder, for in destroying ourselves we would destroy the world. Homicide is always misdirected suicide. War always begins with a Blitzkrieg on the self. Augustine’s amor sui is in fact self-hatred.

9. To be human is to be Christ-like. Indeed we are not truly human, only Christ is truly human, the iconic human, the imago Dei: and God himself “is Christ-like, and in him there is no un-Christ-likeness at all” (John V. Taylor). Here is the truth in the Eastern concept of deification, better, perhaps, called Christification. We are human only as we are conformed to the imago Christi, only as we are in Christ, dead and risen in him. Thus anthropology is a corollary of Christology – and staurology: Ecce homo! Thus baptism is the sacrament of humanity, because it is the sacrament of our death and resurrection en Christo (Romans 6:1-11) – and this is no metaphor! Through baptism, we become human beings – proleptically.

You should definitely read the whole post.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

AAR/SBL last day

The last day is always interesting. It can be very slow, especially if the weather is bad and people don't want to get stuck in the airport, or it can be extremely busy with people rushing to get that last minute book that they almost forgot. Today was a bit in between.

I, on the other hand, was running around like a maniac trying to get last minute deals from the other publishers that I could pass on to you. I did manage to get a few, and you will see some sales related to them in the coming months.

Once the exhibit hall closes our fun begins. Here are a few pictures for your enjoyment:

Tearing down the V&R and Carta booths

Tearing down our booth, and boxing the books that didn't sell.

This is what the book exhibit looks like after about 2 hours

John decided to take a nap; you know those first year guys. He has threatened to start a blog just to tell the other side of the story :)

I don't have a picture of this, Dave took it with his camera, but I had put 3 yogurts in my backpack for the airport. Once we got to the airport, I opened up that section of my pack only to find that they had been crushed and burst open. Yuck! My keys were covered with yogurt, the whole inner part of that section of the pack was a mess. It took about 20 napkins to clean it up enough to be good enough to get home. Worst of it was, I didn't have any yogurt to eat.

Next year in San Diego...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

BookNews and CAD update

While I am here in Washington, I asked our graphic designer/webmaster to choose his favorite books. I figured it would give a different perspective. So, he chose about 15 different books and explained why he chose them. You can read the whole thing on the Eisenbrauns website here

Another item that I got too late to put in BookNews is the ship date for CAD T and Tet. There were some problems with finding the correct paper and it delayed it about a month. The actual ship date is December 18; just in time for Christmas :) One of those "what do I get the guy who has everything" kind of presents.

AAR/SBL day 3, continued

Another busy day. I was in the booth most of the day. It was quite busy, with many questions on what books were available for various subjects. I did my best to help people, even when the books weren't Eisenbrauns books. I felt sort of like Kris Kringle in "Miracle on 34th Street" as I would send people to Peeters or Peter Lang or Fortress for the books they needed.

Today was the Brill paperback sale; here is a picture of the balcony by the entrance. The people are jammed together, waiting to be let in. We all thought it meant that we were going to be inundated like the first day. Nope, they all ran over to Brill's booth.

We had our youngest scholar visit the booth today:
I wonder if she sounds like a native speaker :)

We have the most delightful interchanges at the booth sometimes. Mel Peters was hassling John van Seters about his book and how it was too expensive, so John pulls out his credit card and buys it for him. Then, he even signs it.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Beginning of day 3

<idle musing>
I like to do a workout in the morning, especially when I am on the road. So, as usual, I got up at 6:00 and went to the hotel's exercise room. I got there before anyone else, and got on the recumbent bicycle. I was pedaling for about 2-3 minutes when the next person arrived. The first thing he did was turn on the television.

What is it about our society that we can't handle silence? I was reminded of the Rocky & Bullwinkle Movie with the mesmerizing effect of "Really Bad TV." What is even worse, is that the "news" was mainly about celebrity stuff and recycled every 15 minutes. So, I listened to the same stuff twice! I agree with C.S. Lewis: "The newspaper makes you dumb"—although he would have to update it to say the TV makes you dumb.
</idle musing>

AAR/SBL day 2

Sorry for the delay between postings. There is no free wireless that I have found, anyway, at the convention center, so I am posting from the hotel lobby and the room.

As predicted, we ran out of mugs around noon yesterday. You can still order them, but no more are here. Well, there are some, but they are in pieces, see what I mean:

That was Merna's idea; looks pretty neat, doesn't it?

Yesterday was not as busy as the day before, but it came in spurts between sessions. I was in the booth almost the whole day and had a good time meeting a lot of people. Lots of interesting questions come our way, ranging from modern Ethiopia (about which we have nothing) to Zoroaster, from Ge'ez to how children were raised in the ANE. Sometimes we can help, sometimes we can't. Usually we can at least direct them to the right booth.

<idle musing>
Another interesting observation. Yesterday I was talking to two world-class scholars, one recently retired, the other one about to. The one was full of himself, talking about what he was doing, what he had done, etc. The other one wanted to know what was going on in the life of others. He was asking questions and genuinely listening. One was somewhat jaded and bitter. There was no light in his eyes. The other, while serious, had a smile in his eyes. He was looking forward to life with anticipation, waiting with expectancy for what God would do next.
</idle musing>

Saturday, November 18, 2006

AAR/SBL, day one

First day. After last year I told myself not to book too heavily, so I could spend more time in the booth. Right! I did manage to spend the first two hours in the booth, but then...well, I think I was back for about 1/2 hour.

Sales were good, we sold out of the Na'aman Festschrift; Key to A Grammar of Akkadian is gone; only one of the Mazar Festschrift is left; 2 Fassberg, Biblical Hebrew in Its Northwest Semitic Setting remain, and we sold out of quite a few other titles, as well.

I didn't get a chance to take any pictures of the booth today, although I managed to get a few pictures of some customers for the people in the office. Hopefully tomorrow I can get some good pictures.

People really like the booth design, we've had quite a few comments on it. The mugs are a hit. We have had some people buy them outright and others increase their order to get a free one. I don't think we brought enough; at the rate they are going we will be out by noon tomorrow—so if you are waiting to buy in order to get the mug, you had better hurry.

<idle musing>
One of the reasons people come to AAR/SBL is to see other people that they only get to see once a year, in some cases once every few years. For me, it has been a chance to get reacquainted with people after a 15 year hiatus. Some of the renewals have been refreshing, others not so much so.

It is strange how people react to the situations that God brings into their lives. Some become bitter and hard; others become more humble and enjoyable to talk to. Some keep their sense of adventure; others are old before their time. Sometimes I find myself wanting to say, "What happened? Where is the person you used to be? Where is your sense of God's presence? Don't you know that God hasn't abandoned you?" Maybe I should. Maybe that is why God has brought us back into each other's lives. Maybe they don't realize what and whom they have become.

Sure, scholarly life can be brutal, but so can working in a warehouse—especially when you spent 13 years in college so you could get a teaching position, only to get a warehouse job. Most of it is what you do with life. do you respond by relying on God? Or, do you respond by getting angry and bitter at God?

Enough for now; I need to go help Dave tally the orders...
</idle musing>

Friday, November 17, 2006

Web site

With all this excitement, I almost forgot...The new web design went live today! Right on schedule, too.

Setup part 2

Here are some more pictures from setup.

This a corner view. Don't panic, Andy, the back drapes for the one section are coming tomorrow morning. The background will be all black. Notice the cuneiform mug on the corner, in the display box? We tried putting some broken mug pieces in to make it look like a dig, but it didn't work.

What do you think of the embroidered table drape? Pretty classy, isn't it?

Don't ever think that working conferences is all glamor and fun. This is Gina, vacuuming up the booth after we are done making a mess in set up.

This is what the Carta booth looks like from the corner. The stack on the floor to the left is The Quest and the stack to the right is Sacred Bridge.

Last night Joe Cathey and I had a wonderful dinner at Ruth's Chris Steak House. Very good food, good company and conversation, although I thought my cab driver on the way over there was trying to kill me–red lights didn't mean stop to him!

Tonight I have a meeting with the Association of Theological Bookstores and then tomorrow the fun starts. If you are here, be sure to drop by booth 922 and say hi! Oh, and don't forget to register for the $50.00 gift certificates, too.

Setup day

Friday is a long day. We start setup around 8:30 AM and usually finish around 5:00 PM with no lunch break. This year we have 6 booths, more than we have ever had before; but not 6 in a row, but 3 on each side of the aisle. On the left, as you come in from the entrance is Carta, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, and Harrassowitz, all distributed in North America by Eisenbrauns; on the right is Eisenbrauns.

I know some of you are itching for pictures, so here you go...

It went together so much easier back home :(

Robert from Harrassowitz and Tina from V&R setting up their booths

More to come...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

We're here

We drove through rain this morning to Indianapolis, flew through rain (actually above it) to Washington, D.C., only to have the airport be closed due to rain. We ended up circling for about an extra 20 minutes before being cleared for landing. When we landed, the pilot said we were one of the few planes to get through. I always wonder, what happened to the other ones?

We had to wait for the baggage for quite a while; they couldn't unload because of the lightning. The poor people whose flights had been canceled were in worse shape than us. Their luggage was on the plane and couldn't be off loaded.

Anyway, we caught the Metro to downtown. Word of warning: If John Cook (Eisenbrauns acquisitions editor) ever offers you directions, don't take them. We walked several blocks the wrong way before he realized it. His defense, "I've been to Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia. How much different can this be?" When pressed, he admitted to getting lost in all of them!

The hotel is nice. Continental breakfast included, free Internet, free wi-fi in the lobby. Dave is checking out the fitness room right now. We are staying at the Hampton Inn, about 3 blocks from the Convention Center.

It is clearing up now, but it is too late to get to the Sackler before they close. Bummer. Oh well, maybe later this week (unrealistic optimism is kicking in here!).

I will begin posting pictures tomorrow from set up, etc. Stay tuned :)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Quote for the day

"Churches do not realize how important it is that the place of meeting should be made comfortable. I do not mean showy. All your glare and glory of rich chandeliers, and rich carpets, and splendid pulpits, make for the opposite extreme, taking off the attention just as effectually, and defeating every object for which a sinner should come to a meeting. You need not expect a revival there." &mdash Charles Finney, Lectures on Revival

<idle musing>
I had just read this a few years ago, and the next day we went to hear a nationally known speaker at a church in the Minneapolis area. We walked into the building, and the entrance area reminded me of a 5 star hotel lobby. Chandeliers, thick carpeting, information desk of oak, you get the idea. In the sanctuary there was a huge big screen TV up front with smaller ones mounted on pillars through out the room.

It was obvious that the church had money...but there was no revival that night, either.
</idle musing>

Proverbs 20:22 revisited

I was curious about the Hebrew behind Proverbs 20:22, so I pulled my BHS off the shelf and took a look. The last phrase of the verse caught my eye:
weyo$a` lak – the vowels on the verb are schwa, holem, patach. Clearly not a vav consecutive, but a hiphil jussive form. Normal translation would be, "and let Him deliver/save/rescue you." So, the whole verse would run "Do not say, 'I will repay the evil.' Wait for the LORD and let him deliver/rescue/save you."

Hmmm. That's not how all the English translations I checked render it. Universally they render it as a future, "and He will save/rescue/deliver you." So, being the inquisitive sort, I pulled my Vulgata off the shelf and found that Jerome rendered it with a future. The Septuaginta, which has screwed up verse order here, renders it with a hINA clause. So, as usual, our translations show that they are more indebted to Jerome and the Vulgata tradition than they are to the original Hebrew and subsequent Greek.

Just an idle musing on a Wednesday morning, the day before leaving for AAR/SBL...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

New web design at Eisenbrauns?

We hope so! Want to help?

Our webmaster, Andy, is playing with a new web design for the Eisenbrauns homepage. It seems to work nicely on all the different configurations we've played with, but...

Follow this link, which will take you to the new design. There is a series of drop-downs across the top. Do they work in your browser? How do you like the design?

All feedback is welcome, especially if you break it :)


More from Bonhoeffer

I haven't had much time to read lately, between AAR/SBL preparations and helping Debbie's parents move. But, I have still found some gems, for example:

Obedience without freedom is slavery, freedom without obedience is arbitrariness. Obedience binds freedom, freedom ennobles obedience. Obedience binds the creature to the Creator, freedom places the creature, made in God's image, face-to-face with the Creator. Obedience makes clear to human beings that they have to be told what is good and what the Lord requires of them... —Ethics, page 287.

Monday, November 13, 2006

New Interpreter's Dictionary

The first volume of the long awaited New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible just arrived today. It has been advertised and expected for a while now, and quite a few bibliobloggers have contributed to it. I was quite excited to get it and immediately ripped the shrink-wrap off one...

I was disappointed by a few things:

*The bibliographies are all in English. Was this intentional? If so, what a disappointment.

*The bibliographies are not sorted, or at least I couldn't figure it out. It certainly isn't alphabetically by author or title. Maybe by importance? I looked at the Baal article, and the first book was an Eisenbrauns book The Storm-God in the Ancient Near East, so it must be by importance, right :)

*The bottom margin is terribly close to the bottom of the book. I checked two from different boxes, just in case it was a printer mistake. Nope, both of them only have about 1/8 inch of white space at the bottom of the page.

This series is designed to replace the old Interpreter's Dictionary, and they are hoping to displace the Anchor Bible Dictionary. Well, based on this first volume, I wouldn't start trading in my Anchor Dictionary just yet.

Those of you who contributed, what are your thoughts on this?

Update: Abingdon told me that they intend to increase the bottom margin on the next volumes.

Quote for the day

Do not say, "I'll pay you back for this wrong!" Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.—Proverbs 20:22 (NIV)

This weekend

How did you spend your Saturday?

I spent mine assisting Debbie’s parents move to Indiana. The weekend before (November 3-6), we went to Oconomowoc, WI to help them pack. I stayed through Monday, packing boxes. When I came back, Debbie stayed there to help them with last minute stuff and cleaning. Before I left, I told her that, if necessary, I could return on Saturday, November 11 to bring anything that they didn’t want the movers to take.

Sure enough, about Wednesday, Debbie said that I should think about coming back. There were some personal files that they didn’t want the movers to take. I asked how many, and she said about 6 boxes. No problem, I’ll just bring the car. She said, “No, you had better borrow the work van.” I agreed, but thought it was overkill for 6 boxes. So, Saturday morning saw me on the road to Wisconsin, a 5 hour trip. I got there around noon and, sure enough, those 6 boxes had managed to have babies throughout the week. As many times as I’ve moved in my life, you would think I would remember that the last minute stuff turns out to be about 20 times more than you expect. Good thing I took the van. By the time all was loaded, it was 2/3 full!

So, 4 hours later, we’re on the road again. Another 6 hours and we are back in Winona Lake/Warsaw. We unload the van and return home. Debbie’s parents stayed behind for a bit, looking around. When we got home, there was a message from them. The garage door wouldn’t shut! Yikes, what a greeting on their first day. Well, by the time we got the message and I returned, it was taken care of. Their new neighbors had returned home, and seeing their plight had attempted to assist them. No success, so they called the landlord. Mind you, it is 11:00 PM by now. The landlord was in the shower, just returned from a 25 hour trip to Colorado. Once he was out of the shower, he drove over and got out of the car wearing slippers and carrying a hair dryer. They wondered about the hair dryer, but he said it was to check for power at the outlet. No power. So, he climbs down, walks over to the wall and pushes the button on the GFCI outlet there. Presto! Power is restored, the garage door closes, and everything is fine.

The moving van arrives today to unload…pray for good weather, they loaded on Friday in a snowstorm!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Quote for the day

Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is no more room, and you are made to dwell alone in the midst of the land. The Lord of hosts has sworn in my hearing: “Surely many houses shall be desolate, large and beautiful houses, without inhabitant. For ten acres of vineyard shall yield but one bath, and a homer of seed shall yield but an ephah.” Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening till wine inflames them! They have lyre and harp, timbrel and flute and wine at their feasts; but they do not regard the deeds of the Lord, or see the work of his hands. Therefore my people go into exile for want of knowledge; their honored men are dying of hunger, and their multitude is parched with thirst. Therefore Sheol has enlarged its appetite and opened its mouth beyond measure, and the nobility of Jerusalem and her multitude go down, her throng and he who exults in her. Man is bowed down, and men are brought low, and the eyes of the haughty are humbled. But the Lord of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness. Then shall the lambs graze as in their pasture, fatlings and kids shall feed among the ruins. Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood, who draw sin as with cart ropes, who say: “Let him make haste, let him speed his work that we may see it; let the purpose of the Holy One of Israel draw near, and let it come, that we may know it!” Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right! Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts, and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. – Isaiah 5:8-24 RSV

Thursday, November 09, 2006

And then there were two...

Hey! Everybody! Come one, come all! Read some Greek and Hebrew with us on Thursday mornings! Anybody in the Winona Lake/Warsaw, Indiana area who can stumble through Greek or Hebrew is welcome. We started with 3 people, increased to 4, now we're at 2. But, we have a blast. We won't be meeting for the next 2 weeks, since next week John and I will be on our way to AAR/SBL, and the following Thursday is Thanksgiving Day (US). But, be sure to join us November 31 for Hebrew at 7:00 AM!


As a follow-up to my post on awakening, I ran across this yesterday:

I have observed the lowering of the standards of holiness from the pulpit to the pew. It appears we are seeking to develop happy churches, but not holy churches. One pastor stated that he wanted his people to leave the Sunday morning worship feeling, “affirmed, approved, and applauded.” Whatever happened to leaving feeling confronted, convicted, confessed, and cleansed? Charles Spurgeon put it in perspective years ago when he said, “Of all the griefs the church ever feels, the keenest is when those who once stood in her midst dishonor the name of Christ by unholy living.”

I have observed more and more churches having fewer and fewer revivals. Of course the rural church will always hold a revival, whether they actually have one or not, the third week of August. Vance Havner once said, “Preachers speak of ‘holding revivals.’ Somebody ought to turn one loose!” Real revival which takes prayer and preparation and sees scores ushered into the kingdom and church members rekindling the fire within is quickly giving way to one day events. We have stopped singing “Take Time To Be Holy,” because we don’t have the time.

That is just 2 of 12 observations after 31 years of preaching "Revivals" over at Observations of a Tennessee Baptist evangelist.

HT: Jim West

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

AAR/SBL shipment

While I was in Wisconsin, helping my in-laws pack for the move to Indiana, the truck came for our AAR/SBL shipment. It ended up being 5 skids worth of books and display stuff. The truck was supposed to come at 11:30 AM, but didn't arrive until 3:30 PM. Meanwhile, the gang got the stuff ready to go. Here's a picture.

The garage of the warehouse is in the background.

Junia, the apostle

There is an excellent series over at Better Bible Blogs on Junia, the female apostle. You can find an index to the articles here. It doesn't include today's post, another excellent one.

I would encourage everyone to take a look at the series, which is a nice complement to the one that Scot McKnight is doing on women in the church, which is also worth following.

An awakening?

I was reading an interesting article yesterday about what is wrong with the Society of Biblical Literature. In the midst of the article, he made the following comment:

As for the Bible, well, it is living large again because America is in the midst of a religious revival. What some call the Third and others the Fourth Great Awakening is born of the resurgence of conservative Christianity. Among evangelicals, fundamentalists, neo-evangelicals, and Pentecostals, the centrality of Scripture to Christian life is taken as a given. It is estimated that these groups make up roughly 25 percent of the electorate. They also appear to have been the vanguard of the so-called "values voters" in the 2004 campaign.

<idle musing>
Personally, as much as I would love to think we are in the midst of an awakening, I doubt it. The hallmarks of an awakening/revival are an increased sense of awe and an intense desire to be holy, as He is holy.

All I see is an increased sense of greed! Give me all I can get; if god can give me more, then I want him, too. The latest Barna surveys show that there is no difference between christians and nonchristians in ethical actions. The only difference is in rhetoric. Well, Paul dealt with that already in I Corinthians 4:19, "I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power."

People love to quote 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." But, most forget that this is a conditional sentence. God lays out four conditions:
* Humble themselves — Fail, as evidenced by the intense hubris of nationalism amongst evangelicals
* Pray — barely passing.
* Seek my face — barely passing, at best
* Turn from their wicked ways — Fail.

Looks pretty bleak, doesn't it? But that is a good thing. Maybe now we will begin to realize that it is God, and not man, that causes genuine revival. Programs don't work; intense religious activity doesn't work; only God can make it happen. We can set up the conditions, as is evidenced by the conditional statement above, but only God can do it...
</idle musing>

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Just in time for your holiday buying :) We put up on our web page the order forms for AAR/SBL/ASOR today. You can download them here. The prices are good from November 17-December 31, 2006.

If you are going to be at either of the conferences, the cash and carry prices are generally cheaper. Of course, you get to carry them home with you.

We are doing a daily drawing for two $50.00 gift certificates each day at AAR/SBL. Then, on Tuesday, we will draw for two $100.00 gift certificates. Register by dropping a business card in the bowl.

I know some of you have been holding off on getting the Cuneiform mug. Well, we are giving it away free with a $75.00 purchase. Otherwise, $7.50–a steal at twice the price :)

This year Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Harrassowitz, and Carta will be sharing their booths with us. We will also be handling the EVA/TVZ order forms and sales, even though their booth is a half aisle away.

As always, I will be in and out of the booth all day, meeting with vendors and distribution partners. If you want to meet with me, drop me a line and we can set up an appointment.


<idle musing>
Veneer is a handy thing. You overlay a thin layer of an expensive wood over cheap wood and it looks good. Nobody suspects that the underlying wood is just particle board. No one that is, until you try to put a load on the shelf and it breaks.

It can be the same with people.

Recently I had the opportunity to spend time with someone I hadn’t seen for a while. Others had told me how much this person had changed and how much they had grown in Christ. I was excited to see it; I always like to see what God does in a person.

At first it seemed that it was true. The person acted the part of a Christian; the vocabulary was Evangelical, God was part of the discussion. But, then came a time of pressure. Pop! The shelf cracked and the particle board of old, unredeemed self shown through.

Does it have to be that way? Do we have to go through life play-acting? Recent events raise this question even more starkly. Is Christianity just a sop thrown to give us hope after death, while we struggle and fail here on earth? Is there no victory over sin? Does the enemy of our souls have the upper hand?

Scripture says, “No!” Emphatically. Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, was able to say, “I have overcome the world!” Note the tense, not I will, not I am, but I have (perfect, active, indicative in the Greek). Paul was able to say, in Romans 8, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (present active indicative in the Greek). John, in I John says, “Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.”

So, why the disconnect? Why don’t people seem to be experiencing this in their daily lives?

Well, there can be any number of reasons, but I submit that the main one is that most christians have never really died to self. Evangelical christianity is big on justification, but short on sanctification. We want big numbers, and frankly, death isn’t a good calling card if you are looking for a large following: “Hi, Jesus loves you and wants to put you to death!” But, that is exactly what Jesus calls us to, “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16.24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23, 14.27 (RSV)

Paul develops the theme even more in Romans 6. According to Paul, we died with Christ in baptism and now we are alive in Christ. But, it is in Christ, not in self. As long as we function in self, we function in sin. As long as we seek what we want, when we want it, we are dead to Christ and alive to the world. As long as we live in Christ, we are dead to self and the world. It’s too simple—maybe that’s the problem. We want to make it harder; we want to do it.

The reformation happened almost 500 hundred years ago. Its basic truth was sola gratia, all God and not man. Why is it that we are now trying to do it ourselves? Sola Gratia means just that, by grace alone, or does Galatians 3 not ring true anymore?

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? Did you experience so many things in vain? —if it really is in vain. Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?

</idle musing>

Monday, November 06, 2006

AAR/SBL booth done!

Andy again narrates our new display for AAR/SBL here.

And the Designer stepped back, and said he was done. And tMD said it was Cool. And Marti the Great declared it to be Sharp. And then they took the whole thing apart and stuffed it into boxes.

And the Designer found that somehow anticlimactic.

<idle musing>
The truck arrives today to take it all to D.C. Me, I'm in Oconomowoc, WI helping my in-laws pack. They are moving to Indiana at the end of this week...
</idle musing>

Thursday, November 02, 2006

AAR/SBL booth saga continues

Andy continues his interesting analogy on creating our skyline display this year. You can read all of it here.

On the third day, the Designer began to call forth continen... fragments, by name, calling them Ancient Near East, Biblical Studies, Archaeology, and Ancient Languages, and behold, each of them were 23.65 inches at their widest point, for lo, that was the widest one could print on a 24-inch printer.

And the Marketing Director looked over the firmament, and said, "Let there be shelves!"

Shelves? How many shelves?

And the Marketing director spake, and said, "Let there be four shelves, so that we may lay proof sets on them, that the masses may see the Good Books that we are bringing forth."

And the Designer did blanch, for he saw only two places fit for shelving. The Designer asked the Marketing Director, "Did Jim really say that we must have four shelves?" And tMD (as he shall be abbreviated from hereon out) said, "let us ask the Boss about this," and the two sojourned forth unto the Office of Jim...

<idle musing>
tMD. Hmm, I've never been called that before...

You definitely should read the rest.
</idle musing>

If you had only $300...

Joe Cathey e-mailed this to both Jim West and me:

As I don’t blog anymore currently I was posed a topic the other day which I just had to share with both of you. You two are bibliophiles as I and I think you will have some fun with this. Yesterday, a student of mine came up and asked if I were going to SBL which I affirmed. He then asked me if I only had $300 what books would I buy and why. I have been giving this some very serious thought and then it struck me that it would make an excellent blog topic. Mores the pity that I don’t currently blog or this would definitely be on the menu for today. I would be curious to see what you two would buy for this sum.

<idle musing>
I think a lot depends on what your interests are. I'm primarily a philologist, so that would be reflected in my choices, because my money would land squarely on language reference works... I miss my Denniston, Greek Particle and von Soden's Akkadische Handwoerterbuch—even though I don't read Akkadian anymore, I like his comparative Semitic references (of course that is over $300 by itself...). Louw & Nida's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains would be nice...

OK, stop! We have to assume he has none of the basics that I own. So, BDAG is essential, as is Smyth's Greek Grammar, to say nothing of Liddell & Scott, the big one. That's Greek. For Hebrew I would need Introductory Biblical Hebrew Syntax (there's the Eisenbrauns plug!), GKC, HALOT Study Edition, BDB, even though it is dated, it is still good.

If he were an archaeologist, he would need Sterns, The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land - 4 Volume Set...
</idle musing>

So, what would you recommend?

Ethics for November 2

“The disciples of Jesus cannot accomplish what Judas Iscariot accomplishes. In this case, their service of God’s cause proves to be weaker in advancing God’s cause than hostility against God. God moves along God’s own path, which cuts across human good and evil. God proves to be the one who alone seeks to do the good and to whose wrath and grace every action must be surrendered.

“Does this mean negating the distinction between good and evil? No, but it means that human beings cannot justify themselves by doing good since it is God alone who does the good. The power of the divine guidance of history leaves human beings dependent on God’s grace.” —Bonhoeffer Ethics, page 227

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

AAR/SBL preparations

It is winding down to the final days of preparation; the truck will arrive on Monday to haul our stuff to Washington, D.C. I'm still waiting for about 100 Kg. of books from Germany, but other than that we are almost ready.

We are changing the background of the booth this year. Andy came up with a great design based on the scroll theme we used on our EAP catalog. He is documenting the process on his blog, here and here . He is likening the process to the seven days of creation in Genesis...

Here's a nice shot of "day 2"

Ethics for November 1

“No one has the responsibility of turning the world into the kingdom of God, but only of taking the next necessary step that corresponds to God’s becoming human in Christ. Responsible action is nourished not by an ideology but by reality, which is why one can only act within the boundaries of that reality. Responsibility is limited both in its scope and in its character, i.e.., both quantitatively and qualitatively. Every transgression of this boundary leads to catastrophe. The task is not to turn the world upside down but in a given place to do what, from the perspective of reality, is necessary objectively and to really carry it out. But even in a given place, responsible action cannot always immediately do what is ultimately right. It has to proceed step-by-step, ask what is possible, and entrust the ultimate step, and thus the ultimate responsibility, to another hand.

“God became human. That is why responsible action has to weigh, judge, and evaluate the matter within the human domain…However, because it was God who became human, responsible action, although conscious of the human character of its decision, must completely surrender to God both the judgment on this action and its consequences.”—Bonhoeffer Ethics, pages 224-225