Friday, June 29, 2007

10 about Bonhoeffer

Ben Myers has a guest post today with 10 theses on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Well worth the read, especially the ninth one:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a maverick theologian. John Maverick was a 19th-century Texas rancher and legislator who received a herd of cattle in payment of a bill and turned them loose on the range without a brand. When one of them turned up without a brand, it was assumed to be one of Maverick’s. Many have tried to mark Dietrich with their own brand, to no avail! He slipped away from the death of God theologians when they realized that the same man who wrote from prison about living in a world without God was the one who invited a Russian atheist fellow prisoner to participate in a final communion service just before being executed. Pacifists put a claim on him but felt betrayed by his admission that he would kill Hitler himself if the lot fell to him as a member of the conspiracy. Evangelicals like his talk about Jesus but wish Bonhoeffer had been more concerned about his unsaved relatives and friends. Social activists appjavascript:void(0)
Publish Postlaud him for his concern for the oppressed but are embarrassed by his orthodox Christology. Even in death, as in life, he remained unbranded.

<idle musing>
I like that-unbranded. I would say that he had but one brand—the brand of Jesus Christ, indelibly written on his heart. May his tribe increase!
</idle musing>

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Wrath and holiness

As I was reading through Collins’ The Theology of John Wesley, I ran across this very good observation on wrath and holiness, and their interconnectedness.

Thus, a holy God is present to sinful human beings precisely as resistance, and as Brunner observed, “The Bible calls this ‘resistance’ the Wrath of God.” And finally, it is good in that wrath marks the response of God to the stubborn ongoing power of evil. This truth, however, is turned on its head when the love of God is separated from the holiness of God. When this is done (and it can happen for all sorts of reasons), then wrath will inevitable be seen as something utterly “evil,” as actually alien to the divine purpose and love. But as noted earlier, such a “love,” divorced from holiness, will emerge as sentimental, imaginary (a species of wishful thinking), and cheap, for it oddly enough tolerates evil, by making ongoing allowances for it, precisely in the name of love! Mincing no words, Wesley called those ministers who brought such views into the classroom and pulpit “promise-mongers.”—The Theology of John Wesley, page 105

And a page later:

[The] difficulty with divine wrath, which perhaps is far more indicative of a twenty-first-century Western setting than Wesley’s own setting, has to do with some of the consequences of reigning therapeutic models of salvation that view sinners principally as victims. So understood, sinners have caught the disease of sin, albeit with some appreciation of responsibility for having done so, and they languish in a sickbed as the Great Physician nurtures them on to increasing degrees of health and wholeness. And though Wesley’s doctrine of salvation can indeed be explained, in part, by appeal to therapeutic models, he never viewed sinners merely or even largely as victims but also as perpetrators—as those who not only actively fed their own inbred sinful inclination to depart from the living God, but also were quite energetic in their opposition, even rebellion, against a God of holy love.—The Theology of John Wesley, page 106

<idle musing>
Too true. We have lost the sense of responsibility; all see themselves as victims. “If only society would treat me right; if only I had the job and income I deserve; if only this or that.” We fail to realize that all we deserve is wrath and hell; that we are actively pursuing our own path in direct violation of the revealed will of God. That the only escape is in repentance—not feeling sorry for something, but actual repentance in the Hebrew sense of the word, a turning and moving away from our sin; anything less in not repentance but a sentimental feeling sorry for getting caught with our hands in the cookie jar—yet again!
</idle musing>

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A few good posts

The marines may be looking for a few good men (does that date me?), but I have found more than a few good posts from last week:

Ted Gossard has been reading Bonhoeffer, which can be a faith stretching and convicting exercise. See his posts here and here.

Jim Martin had a nice little series of thoughts on the lies we tell ourselves with follow-up posts here and here.

While over at Vintage Faith, Dan Kimball reflects on the misuse of the scriptural statement that we will be hated on account of Christ.

And Kevin Edgecomb has started what looks to be a long and interesting series of translations from the Psalms; two translations per Psalm, one literal/formal and one more informal/dynamic.

Finally, the ever prolific Alan Knox did a series on Five things I dig about Jesus. While the title is a bit unusual, the five things he chooses to blog about are very good (he explains the title in the first post).
1. Jesus is the Great High Priest
2. Jesus is the Great Shepherd (Senior Pastor)
3. Jesus demonstrates God's love even towards those who reject him
4. Jesus cares more about people than rituals
5. Jesus abides with me and I can abide with him There is a follow up post to this one here

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Grace sufficient

Over the weekend I did some catching up on backlogged blogs. Alan Knox led me to this wonderful post on grace:

I can truly relate to the "fear" of living by grace. I remember back to that time 12 years ago when I had been wondering and worrying about giving myself completely over to God's grace. I truly feared that I would fall into licentiousness, or at least that I would get lazy in my Christian walk and would perhaps stop caring about my life in Christ. For a period of time I hesitated, but one day I remember seeing myself in my mind (not a "vision," so to speak, but just an image in my mind) standing near the edge of a cliff. I couldn't see what was over the cliff, but I knew that somewhere down below was a sea of grace. In other words, I knew that "grace" was beyond the cliff, but I couldn't really see what it looked like or what it was all about. But I had heard enough about it, and I can remember finally taking that "virtual" step off of the cliff.

I really didn't know what would happen, but I realized that my step turned into a dive and I found myself free-falling ever so briefly and then there I was, floating restfully in the sea of grace. It's hard to explain the imagery of the mind, but the gist of all this was that I took the plunge and I was no longer trusting in my own strength to live the Christian life and I was solely trusting in grace. I can't begin to tell you how my life changed. The roller coaster ride of feeling joyful when I felt I was performing well, and feeling very low when I wasn't performing so well, was over!

And no, I didn't get lazy in my walk with Jesus. Rather, my walk became restful (soooo different from lazy) and I took on a new-found JOY in serving and walking with Jesus!

And let me tell you about one of the biggest changes that took place at that time. It's in regards to sin. What I'm about to say will scare the living daylights out of legalists. And I can understand, because it was one of my biggest fears that kept me from giving myself over to grace. Part of my plunge into grace involved the decision to stop trying to stop sinning. I fully understand how haphazard and irresponsible that sounds! But follow me through on this - Up to that point in my Christian walk, I had tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried to stop sinning, many many many many many many many times, but the sum total of all my trying was a seeming victory here and there, but mostly a LOT of guilt from failure and from not measuring up to how I thought my "victorious" Christian life should truly be.

And while you are there check out this post on Grace (redone)

Renaming the classics

This is unbelievable, even in a nation that has forgotten the Greek classics! As reported by David Meadows:“Who Wants to be a Millionaire” had a question about the classics, the contestant declined to answer and walked away with some cash. Good thing they didn’t try to answer:

"The Homeric Question" is a centuries-old debate among scholars over the authorship and origins of what two works? If Lynn had guessed incorrectly she would have fallen back to $1,000. The correct answer was Electra and Medea.

Huh? I don’t think so! Unless, of course, Euripedes suddenly became Homer, and the Iliad and Odyssey changed their names also.

Monday, June 25, 2007

And this blog is rated...

I am pleased to announce that this blog is rated G!
Online Dating

HT: Jim West

On the other hand, this is not necessarily a good thing:

84%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Free will?

I have been reading The Theology of John Wesley lately. I really like Collins as an author; he is careful and thorough. And, unlike some recent Wesleyan scholars, he doesn't try to push free will back onto Wesley.

What? you ask. You thought Wesley believed in free will and it was only those Calvinists who didn't. Wrong! Wesley believed in total depravity; I mean total depravity. But, he also believed in free grace:

We [Wesley and Fletcher] both steadily assert that the will of man is by nature free only to evil. Yet we both believe that every man has a measure of free-will restored to him by grace.

So, what Wesley believed in was free grace, not free will. I think he was right. If you understand Wesley here, the rest of his theology makes sense. The concept of sanctification is not a works oriented, man centered doctrine, but one of free grace poured out on the believer. Because Wesley believed in free grace, he was not bound to the paradigm of the Reformers, who believed that man was doomed to sin every day, in every way, even after salvation. For Wesley, salvation was from sin, not just the effects of sin, not just past sins, but the being of sin. But, it was all by grace, not one ounce of it was by mankind's works. In his sermon The Scripture Way of Salvation, he asks if you believed you could be saved from sin. If you didn't, why not? Was it because of something in your life that you had to remove first? Then, says Wesley, you are no longer seeking holiness by faith, but by works!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Those wide margin Greek and Hebrew texts

I just got the latest update on the wide margin Greek and Hebrew bibles. The printer is having trouble getting them to format correctly, which has caused the date to slip. The latest word from Hendrickson is late July, early August. Personally, I put my money on just in time for AAR/SBL :(

And what about the Westcott-Hort edition? Well, one of the editors has been ill with cancer, but is recovering. They are planning on a late September date. Pray for the editor with the cancer, his name is John.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Quote for the day

“The scriptures were never intended to instruct us in philosophy, or astronomy, and therefore, on these subjects, expressions are not always to be taken in the literal sense.”—John Wesley

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

de calciamentis

Huh? Well, it was the custom in Latin to title a work by what it is about, so lots of titles started with de—about/concerning. This post is about a mundane little item called sandals, hence de calciamentis.

I don't buy many name brand items, but once in a while I find that they are the better buy, and then I do. For example, I wear sandals all the time in the summer; I used to go barefoot, but have given that up, so sandals are the next best thing. I also am quite hard on them, frequently going through 2 pair in a summer. Sure, they were the cheapo Target ones, but that still comes out to $16-20 per year.

Four years ago, I decided to invest in a pair of expensive sandals, Tevas. They were on sale for about 30% off, but still a lot of money. Well, those sandals lasted me for four summers! I finally had to retire them yesterday because I had worn the soles off them. Needless to say, I am sold on Tevas.

I have no idea how many miles they had on them, but I walk over 5 miles per day just to work and back and with Debbie at night. That doesn't count any other walking that I might do. I also wore them for lots of day hikes. So they had plenty of miles on them. Requiescatis in pacem, calciamenta!

Monday, June 18, 2007

ATLA pictures

OK, no cable while I was there, and the batteries in the camera died on Friday. So, finally, some pictures.

Ignore the boxes, I had just finished setting up. The tables were a bit shorter than usual, as you can see from the Eisenbrauns table drape:

How about from another angle?

ATLA always has good snacks—I means good as in healthy. I was right next to the food table, a very good place to be from a vendor's viewpoint; a lot more traffic is generated, not so I could eat more :)

More on Michael O'Connor

Jim Eisenbraun has posted a personal note about Michael on Eisenbrauns website. If you knew Michael well, you are welcome to send us an e-mail with your reflections and memories.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Very sad news

I got back from ATLA late Friday night and didn't check e-mails until last night. The first one I checked was an e-mail from Jim with the sad news that Michael Patrick O'Connor had died. This is truly sad news. Not only was he a great scholar, but he was a personal friend and a great friend to Eisenbrauns, editing one of our series-LSAWS-and also authoring one of the first books we published, Hebrew Verse Structure. I remember when it was first published while I was in graduate school. Every day Dennis Pardee would walk into our Ugaritic class and be arguing with what he had just read in the book :)

I will miss his wonderful sense of humor, and I am sure the company as a whole, and Jim especially will sorely miss him. If I knew how to do it, I would drape this whole blog in black. But, maybe it is as well that I can't since the promise of I Corinthians 15 says that death is swallowed up in victory.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

ATLA day 1

Well, I knew I was forgetting something! I forgot the cable for the camera, so unless I can find someone with one, there won't be any pictures until Monday. Sorry about that, I know you were holding your breath :)

Here's a quick rundown of what's happened so far...

I left Fort Wayne yesterday at about 1:45 PM, got to Cleveland in time to walk quickly to another concourse, board the plane with about 10 minutes to spare, only to sit for 90 minutes on the runway. Apparently there was a problem with wind shear at Philadelphia, preventing landings. So, I got to the hotel around 8:00 PM, which was fine, since nothing could be set up until today anyway.

The Doubletree is a very nice hotel, with a full exercise room, all Precor equipment. They only have one recumbent cycle, so I got there right away at 6:00 AM to make sure I got it. The nice thing about being a cyclist is that most people aren't—most people go for the ellipticals and treadmills.

Setup started at 7:30 and since I only have a table, it didn't take long. I really like ATLA; for one thing, they treat the exhibitors well. Tim and company make you feel like you matter and even make sure that there is food for you. Usually it is bagels, fresh fruit and muffins, and this year was no exception. Strawberries and fresh cut pineapple tasted very good, and the tea water didn't have that coffee taste that often happens when they use the same dispensers for tea and coffee—you tea drinkers know what I mean.

Well, I need to get back into the hall, so hopefully I will find a cable and post some pictures later.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I'm off!

I am off to the ATLA conference. I will be posting pictures tomorrow and Friday. It is a delightful little conference with only theological librarians, bibliophiles all! If you happen to be in the Philadelphia area, drop by the Doubletree Hotel and I can get you a pass to see the book exhibits.

A little light reading

Yesterday afternoon, just for kicks, Andy and I were figuring out how long it would take to read all the books Eisenbrauns lists. Now, as booksellers go, we don't have a large inventory since we are so specialized&mdashonly about 15000 titles; there aren't a lot more books than that in biblical studies and ancient Near Eastern studies.

Here's what we came up with:
The average scholar has a 40 year career, from graduate school until retirement (give or take a few years). That means they would only have to read 375 books a year to read all 15,000 titles. Just one book a day. That's it, only one book a day. A tall order, but perhaps manageable.

But, we add about 1,000 titles per year to our inventory. You would have to read those too, if you want to stay current. No problem! You only have to read 19 books a week. A mere 3 books a day, allowing for a sabbath rest of only one book!

So, to get a handle on all the books we list, you would need to read 4 books per day, 6 days a week for the next 40 years. Too much you say? And you call yourself a scholar :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


<idle musings>
Being the director of marketing, I get some interesting e-mails, but this one struck me as an oxymoron: Christian consumers

Perhaps that is appropriate; maybe the church has degenerated in our culture into just another group to target in niche marketing. But, it still struck me as odd, theologically. Christians, who are called to die to the world, "love not the world" in the words of I John, are now seen as just another segment of the population to receive targeted marketing.

Of course, the really scary thing about it is that it works! The christian subculture is big business. I don't remember the figures now, but it runs in the billions of dollars. But, it still strikes me as an oxymoron.
</idle musings>

Monday, June 11, 2007

Of bicycles and 4x4

<idle musing>
This weekend, Debbie and I were riding on busier roads than usual and a trend emerged. Nearly every time a large 4x4 passed us, they seemed to feel obligated to gun the engine. If it were only the ones passing us, I can somewhat understand it; it makes sense that you want to get past as soon as possible and get back in your lane—although a vehicle going 50-60 mph passing a bicycle doing 15-20 mph doesn’t need to accelerate very much. But, the oncoming vehicles, why should they need to gun their engines? It’s not like they are passing us!

So, I ask, what is it about a bicycle that causes the driver of a 4x4 to feel the need to gun their engine? It certainly can’t be that we are a threat to them, can it? When was the last time you saw a bicycle pass one? It must be something deeper. Could it be that it reveals the secondary nature of the power they control? Is a bicycle a threat to their masculinity, so much so that they have to reassure themselves by gunning the engine? Perhaps “muscle trucks” is a misnomer and they should be called muscle-less trucks : )

Just an idle musing on a Monday morning
</idle musing>

Friday, June 08, 2007


We have had windy weather here of late, so windy in fact that it brought down a tree in the Eisenbrauns' parking lot. Good thing it was Sunday, or it would have landed on Jim's truck.

New Orleans

Our son-in-law, Joel, went to New Orleans for a week to work on rebuilding (he’s a carpenter by trade). He recently wrote this in an e-mail to us with some pictures:

...there are continually people going down to serve that city from all over the country. We found that largely this is because the hurricane two years ago only highlighted the bigger problems of poverty and moral devastation that plague parts of New Orleans. You will see some hurricane and flood damage in the pictures. But much of the disrepair is indicative of the hopelessness of the poorest people in that area. These long-term problems as well as rebuilding after Katrina, are being addressed by the churches...We saw how important it was to have believers living amongst the people they are trying to reach. We put the roof on an addition to that house. We also worked on a warehouse to be used for storage; pulling down a rotten ceiling, securing the rest of it and building walls to contain tools and a staging area for work crews. We dealt with frustration over the lack of organization and materials, high security measures, the apathy of those in the neighborhood we were there to help, a crumbling city infrastructure. But at the same time we saw God shining through in His love for people, in His miraculous provision for the people doing His work, in the passion and dedication of the staff for "Loving God with all they got and people ‘til they drop". And we saw Him at work in our own lives as well.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Quote for the day

"In the bible it was a miracle when God spoke through an ass. Now it happens everyday."
Dave Johnson, pastor Church of the Open Door, from Out of Ur

The whole article is very good, and too close to correct for comfort.

Ancient Near Eastern catalog, again

OK, 4 days later than I wanted, and about 3400 items later, I'm done. The file is now exporting from the database into an XML file for Michael to do his magic on. But, as I was finishing it, a terrible thought occurred to me: What if customers don't want the catalog to have series together, but would rather have it all topical?

Now, that is a scary thought because about half of the titles are listed in series. Generally the series reflect the category, but what about series like Harvard Semitic Studies, where the books can range from Hebrew Grammar to Akkadian to history to archaeology? Or, worse yet, OBO where the topic can be Egyptian, Greek, or Levantine?

If a customer were looking for a good book on Egyptological papyrus, would they think to look in ANE series under OBO? Or, if they were looking for a good Ugaritic grammar, would they think to look under AOAT instead of just the Ugaritic section in languages? I can't list them twice; I tried that in the last ANE catalog and ran out of room.

So, it's too late for this year's catalog, but what about next year's Biblical Studies catalog? Should I abandon the series listing in the catalog and just go with a topical list? But then if someone were looking to see what was still missing in their Word Biblical Commentary, or ICC, or Anchor Bible, or NICOT series, what would they do? Hopefully go to the website, but some of our catalog recipients live in places with slow or no Internet access.

What's the best option? Your input is welcomed...

What is church?

At first I misspelled church as “chruch.” That would have had a simple answer, it is simply church misspelled. The answer to “what is church?” isn’t as simple, but Guy Muse over at the The M blog takes a stab at it with this list:

• From meeting centered to life centered.
• From church houses to house churches (simplify to multiply).
• From special priesthood to priesthood of all believers.
• From super organization to simple organism.
• From bringing people to church to bringing church to people.
• From performance by professionals to "every one of you" (1 Co.14:26).
• From program-based church to home-based church.
• From titles to function.
• From independence to inter-dependence.
• From paper membership to Body membership.
• From "us and them" to "us".
• From local vision to world vision.
• From building my kingdom to building THE kingdom.
• From wall-wide church to city-wide church.
• From Christianity to Christ (not a philosophy, movement, or religion, but JESUS!)
• From pastor only to five-fold ministries (we need ALL the gifts God gave to the church).

I’m sure some would argue against some of these and others would want to add more, but it’s a good start. If even half of them were evident in our lives, what would the world see? Interesting thought, isn’t it?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Out of Ur has a short little interview with Dan Kimball about consumerism and the church. After discussing the effects of consumerism, “Is it really producing people who are living and demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit in their lives? Are they loving one another and loving God more?” He goes on to describe how Vintage Faith is trying to change that:

We’re asking God to transform us (because it can’t be done through human effort); into a worshiping community (because we want to be worshipers first); of missional theologians (because if we’re on a mission in our culture we have to be thinkers).

We’re calling the church more of a missional training center as much as we can. We’re launching community groups. We’re calling them "community groups" even though we see them as house churches, but that name has weird connotations for some.

Definitely worth a read.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Academic Writing

Charles has a nice series going over at Awilum on academic writing which continues here. He got his inspiration from Angie at Imaginary Grace, who has now followed up with another post with some advice on forming a writing group (I really do need to update my sidebar to include her blog).

As a person who works for a publisher, all I can say is a hearty “Amen!” May their tribe increase to fill the earth—well, at least the manuscripts that are submitted to us, anyway.

In the meantime, Eisenbrauns is looking for a copy editor. Know anybody that wants to move to Warsaw/Winona Lake, Indiana? Oh, one of the side benefits (other than working with a great group of people, such as yours truly) is cheap books! Now, if that doesn’t attract you, you really aren’t a serious bibliophile, right? You can read all the details here.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Plone help needed

I am trying, vainly, to get a Plone site up and running. Here’s my problem:
I am running Plone on Debian Etch on a bare Zope server (no Apache). Plone is listening on port 8081 (the Debian default install). I am trying to remap incoming traffic using the Virtual Host Monster (VHM), but to no avail. Yes, I have RTFineM and googled, so don’t flame me if it is obvious to you. It isn’t to me, even after the fine Manual. I’ve tried 4 remappings, all unsuccessfully:


Any ideas?

Second problem: I can’t get the e-mail to interface correctly. I am running Exim, which I have never run before, so I may have it configured incorrectly. But, here is the error:

Site error

This site encountered an error trying to fulfill your request. The errors were:

Error Type
Error Value
SMTP AUTH extension not supported by server.
Request made at
2007/05/30 16:42:03.513 GMT-5

Any assistance would be most gratefully accepted. If you need more details, either e-mail me or leave a comment.

Hey, while I’m asking, if you have experience changing the logo on a random basis, I’ll accept help on that too! Any other Plone expertise might be of use, too. I’m not above begging, or bribing with books, for that matter :)


It’s June, and it’s strawberry picking time! That doesn’t require as much effort on my part as it used to, now that the kids are gone. But, I still went out and picked over 30 pounds, which translates into about 24 pints of freezer jam and 15 pounds of frozen strawberries. Of course, that doesn’t include the ones I ate while picking them :)

To add to the fun, we just got a waffle cone maker. Our first few attempts at making waffle cones were pretty pathetic, but we got better. Similarly, we tried making waffle bowls with interesting results. I put some home made ice cream, fresh from the ice cream maker, into one. Oops, bad choice; apparently I had stretched the waffle too much in forming it; there were pin holes all over it and since the ice cream was very soft, it leaked-lots. I ate it over the sink.

God has blessed me with a wonderful wife, and I thank him for it. We have wonderful times together, from making strawberry jam, to discussing theology; from waffle cones to Christian praxis; who but God could have brought her into my life over 30 years ago?

Friday, June 01, 2007

And the frustration level climbs...

Ah yes, it's that time again, and the frustration level begins to climb and I feel the pinch of the clock ticking away...what could be so stressful? Simple, it's time to update the Ancient Near Eastern Resource Catalog. The stress is two-fold: I have to have it created, proofread, bound and printed by the time Jim leaves for the RAI conference in early July. Second, how do you narrow down all the excellent books on the ANE to only 2500-3000?

Considering that printing and binding takes 2-3 weeks, that doesn't leave me a whole lot of time! I certainly can't afford to short-change the proof-reading, or you will have way too much fun pointing out my various errors :)

I have done the easy part, all the series titles (about 2000 titles), but now I have to select the most important reference works for 16 different languages in the ANE. That is not an easy task. I'm sure I will miss something important, or something I list will go out of print about 2 weeks after the catalog goes to press, or a publisher will announce a major work and everyone will ask how could I possibly have missed X?

Oh well, my problems are minor in the great scheme of things!