Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rest in the temple

“In the Hebrew Bible, Psalm 132 provides a key passage, in which not only is the temple identified as the resting place of Yahweh but we also find rest identified with rule, for in the temple he sits enthroned. In this sense, divine rest is not primarily an act of disengagement but an act of engagement. No other divine rest occurs in the Hebrew Bible than the rest that is associated with his presence in his temple. This, combined with the data that were presented concerning divine rest in temples in the ancient Near East, confirms that the idea of deity resting, as on the seventh day in Genesis 1, is a clear indication to the reader that a temple metaphor underlies the understanding of the deity’s status.”— Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, page 180

But it sure is pretty

The view out our front door this morning:

This is what the north side of the house looked like (the wind was from the north):

And the walls come a tumblin' down...

This is what happens when you have a heavy, wet, 6 inch snowfall and don't have your supports reinforced on your hoop house. As seen from the south:

As seen from the west side:

I will rebuild! The worst of it is that there is a 3 foot gash in the plastic where the broken PVC ripped it. But, if it gets warm enough, I can use vinyl tape to hold it together. Surprisingly, all the plants seem to be in fine shape...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's snowing here

and that means it's time for my annual posting of this wonderful snippet from Space for God:

"When rain turns to ice and snow I declare a holiday. I could as easily resist as stay at a desk with a parade going by in the street below. I cannot hide the delight that then possesses my heart. Only God could have surprised rain with such a change of dress as ice and cold...

"Most people love rain, water. Snow charms all young hearts. Only when you get older and bones begin to feel dampnesss, when snow becomes a traffic problem and a burden in the driveway, when wet means dirt--then the poetry takes flight and God's love play is not noted.

But I am still a child and have no desire to take on the ways of death. I shall continue to heed water's invitation, the call of the rain. We are in love and lovers are a little mad."

<idle musing>
What more need I say?!
</idle musing>

It's the little differences that matter

“Days 4 through 6 concern the installation of functionaries and the decreeing of the destiny of these functionaries as they operate in the anthropocentric cosmos. The structure presented by the text reflects a degree of political/bureaucratic concerns without introducing mid-level deities, as is common in the ancient Near East. Though the shape of the cosmos is seen in terms quite similar to the literature of the ancient Near East, the elements of the cosmos have no corresponding deities, and the structure of the cosmos is radically different. By the way in which Genesis 1 uses the shared ancient Near Eastern cognitive environment, it asks the same questions that lie behind all of the other ancient cosmologies and operates from the same metaphysical platform but gives quite different answers that reflect the uniqueness of the Israelite world view and theology.”— Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, page 178

Monday, November 28, 2011

What a radical idea

“Genesis 1 completely restructures the the position and role of the participants on the cosmic stage. For instance, in Genesis, humanity is granted a role that is reminiscent of the role of some gods in Mesopotamian literature. In Enki and the World Order, Inanna complains that she has not received any control attributes to administer. In Inanna and Enki, she is given some. Compare this to the Genesis account, in which God transfers some control attributes to Adam and Eve by means of the image of God and the blessing, allowing them to decree destinies within the purview of these control attributes—thus, for instance, naming the animals (= decreeing the destinies?). Humanity is given a subordinate ruling responsibility, similar to the position delegated to the lower gods by the higher gods in Mesopotamia, a role that is eventually also delegated to kings. Thus, Genesis 1 bequeaths to humanity a dignity that is not attested in the rest of the ancient Near East. In Genesis, God is outside the cosmos, not inside or a part of it, and he has no origin. He is responsible for the origin of all the governing principles. Human beings are positioned as rulers in the cosmos, with all of the functions of the cosmos organized on their behalf.”— Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, pages 177-178

<idle musing>
Pretty radical, isn't it? I always liked C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy and the way he expressed these ideas.
</idle musing>

Brussels Sprouts and bicycles

I haven't had much success over the years with Brussels Sprouts. Last year I got two plants to grow, but they didn't produce anything. This year, I planted 16 seeds, but only ended up with 4 plants. Two of those did weird things that made them look more like kohlrabi than Brussels Sprouts, so I ended up composting them. Of the remaining two, one never got very big and the other one was attacked by cabbage butterflies. I ended up having to use insecticidal soap on them—organically approved, but still, I hate using insecticides of any kind.

This weekend, I decided we should harvest some of the sprouts. So, I went out and cut off about 2 servings worth, which ended up being about 1/2-2/3 of the sprouts. I didn't have very high hopes, as some of them were loosely formed. But, I washed them, picked off the dead leaves, and put them on the stove to steam. About 8-10 minutes later, I plucked one out with a fork and tried it. Wow! It sure didn't taste like the things from the store! It tasted like it had a butter sauce on it, which I can assure you it didn't! They were delectable. I was going to try a different variety next year, thinking that might be the problem, but now I think I'm just going to plant the same, but more and cover them with row cover.

It was warm over Thanksgiving weekend—55ºF on Friday and 60º F on Saturday. On Friday, we decided to go for a bit longer walk than normal. We normally walk about 2 miles each day, but we have a longer route that we do occasionally that is about 4 miles. Well, we got to the point where we normally turn back and Debbie went the other way, west instead of east. Sure, why not. So, we ended up walking eleven miles...

Saturday, it was also extremely windy—over 20 MPH. But, how can I pass up a nice, warm day? I decided to ride, despite the wind. So, around noon, I embarked on a short 19 mile ride. The wind was from the south-southwest. I was going south and uphill for the first mile. I managed to climb the hill (a relatively shallow incline) in my lowest gear on the middle front ring at a super-fast(!) 10 MPH and a great deal of huffing and puffing. I felt exhausted, but kept going.

At about the 8 mile mark, there was a train stopped on the tracks, blocking the crossing. I took a detour around it...About this time I'm wondering about the wisdom of my deciding to ride against the wind. I got to the next crossroad and turned south again to cross the tracks; the train wasn't crossing these tracks, but only barely. I headed back to my chosen route, wondering how long this train was. It ended up being about 1.5 miles long.

I got to the end of my southward journey and turned north. I was looking forward to this! Only someone who has fought the wind for about 10 miles or more can understand. I was running way behind, and we were going somewhere in the afternoon; I'd have to hurry...I kicked it into a higher gear and took off...what fun. I was going about 27-28 MPH on the flat, over 32 MPH on the downhills and never dropped below 17 MPH on the climbs. Sure beats 10 MPH on the way! I'm sure there's a moral in there somewhere...

What role the Bible?

Roger Olson has a nice post about how people view the role of the Bible:

It seems to me that this is a fundamental watershed between evangelicals. Those of us in the Pietist tradition claim unmediated experience of God that authenticates scripture to us but makes it impossible to see scripture as proving that God is evil or the author of sin and evil or loves his own glory more than he loves people created in his own image and likeness. Those evangelicals in the Protestant scholastic tradition at least claim to experience God only through scripture and at least say they would believe the Bible even if it said God is a monster, the author of sin and evil, who loves his own glory to the extent that it causes him to hate some of the creatures created in his own image and likeness.

<idle musing>
I hope that whets your appetite for the whole post, which I think is very good. Far too many Christians view the Trinity as Father, Son, and Holy Bible. That is what Roger is pushing back against—rightly so.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The role of humanity in creation

“Differences that are even more remarkable can be observed in the centrality of humankind, both in the Genesis account and in the cosmos as portrayed in Genesis. This centrality is apparent in that, in the seven-day structure of Genesis 1, all of the functions are established in relation to people—not to provide an environment for a god or the gods. This is in stark contrast to Mesopotamia, where the cosmos functions as a world that exists for the sake of the gods, and the role of people vis-à-vis the world is secondary: they are to serve the gods in their world.”— Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, page 176


“The station of humanity in the cosmos as portrayed in Genesis 1 is, therefore, almost precisely opposite of the picture in Mesopotamian literature, where people are slaves of the gods and thus involved in helping the gods do their work. In Genesis, humanity is a partner in the work of ruling. Furthermore, people are given a role as partners because the functional nature of humanity is identified with its maleness and femaleness, both in the image of God. This is a radical departure, to view women as partners with men, but is essential to the first aspect of the blessing: being fruitful and multiplying.”— Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, page 177

<idle musing>
I always have found the difference from ANE myths most encouraging...
</idle musing>


OK, I didn't post much during AAR/SBL, and even less about the conference. I didn't even post any pictures of set-up or tear down. In fact, I didn't take many pictures at all—none at all of take down.

There is at least one reason for that, which was remedied this afternoon in the dentist's chair. I had a tooth that needed a root canal. I was praying that I would be able to make it until I got home—and I did. I was only in pain about 20% of the time, but as the conference went on, that amount of time increased. It was especially acute whenever I had something either warm or cold; that pain would last about 1/2 hour or so. As the dentist was digging around, she said that I should have been experiencing pain based on what she saw. So, I am now numb for who knows how much longer, but the pain is gone. I'm sure I'll be sore after it wears off, but at least it isn't air on a tooth nerve...

On other notes: we got home without any unusual problems—at about 4:00 AM. I actually fell asleep in the dentist's chair while they were waiting for the Novocaine to kick in...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The image of God

“...the image of God is rarely applied to humanity as a whole in the rest of the ancient world (the major exception being in The Instruction of Merikare). When the image of deity was attached to specific individuals—invariably kings—in either Assyria or Egypt, it endowed the king with divine sonship and enabled the king to function on behalf of the deity. That is, the 'image of god' operated within the political/ bureaucratic model in which the ruling function of deity was carried out on earth by the king.”— Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, pages 175-176

For the sake of humanity

“But there is one more important contribution made by Gen 2:18. This text makes it clear that the focus of the designed functions is not on God but on humanity. The biblical text is not interested in the scientifically investigatable functions of the various parts of the cosmos. That is to say, the function of time established by the alternating periods of light and darkness has no meaning or significance apart from people. This function serves neither the divine realm nor the “natural” realm. Not only is the sun not a manifestation of deity in Genesis, but it neither functions for deity’s sake nor is it simply a burning ball of gas. As v. 14 reports, the function of the lights is to mark signs, festivals, days, and years—precisely the uses that humans have for these functionaries.”— Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, page 170

Monday, November 21, 2011

What's with the heart rate?

This is interesting. At home I rarely check my heart rate, so when I'm on conferences it is always fun to watch the heart rate monitor. As I mentioned last year, when the intervals on the machines are 10 seconds instead of 30, your heart rate doesn't get as elevated. But, even aside from that, I'm wondering if maybe my diet change has affected my heart rate. Last year I noticed a 25-30 BPM drop, but this year I had a hard time getting my heart rate above 120, which is more like 30-35 BPM lower than normal...

OK, that's not what is interesting...Those of you who follow this blog much know that I don't watch or follow professional sports—haven't for over 35 years. But, today, the big screen TV was right next to me on the right, showing game highlights from yesterday's football games. I ignored it, as usual, until the guy next to me broke out laughing. I looked to see what he was laughing at; a referee was being creamed in a fumble recovery. I didn't find it humorous; my comment was, "Ouch!" But, it made me aware of it and I glanced at it every now and again. Until the Packer highlights came on. Now, if I'm going to pay any attention to football, it would be Green Bay—what can I say, I was raised in Wisconsin.

So, I started watching the highlights of the game. I watched the whole 5 minutes or so, and then looked back at my stats on the machine. Heart rate: 147! Wow! But, even more interestingly, within 45 seconds it was back down to 122-125! The workout hadn't gotten easier, nor had my cadence decreased. In fact, I increased the cadence once I started watching it. Granted, anecdotal, but interesting, none the less.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The fates

“When the destinies of the gods were determined in the ancient Near East, powers and responsibilities were delegated to them. As a result, other gods became “working Enlils” when the MEs were given to them. This process bears a resemblance to the biblical idea that human beings were created in the image of God and became beings who functioned as Elohim at some level.

In distinct contrast to Mesopotamian beliefs, however, Genesis 1, if it in fact is paralleling the idea of the MEs, positions them differently. Rather than positing deity as guardian of the cosmic MEs (which are not created by the gods, in Mesopotamian thought), Genesis portrays God as the one who initiates the cosmic MEs. This view coincides with the observations made on pp. 62–63 that in Genesis Yahweh is outside the cosmic system, although in the ancient Near East the gods are viewed as inside the system. Thus, the Mesopotamian gods are subject to the MEs, while Yahweh controls them. This is similar to the idea that in Israel Yahweh is considered the source of law, whereas in Mesopotamia Shamash is the guardian of law. .”— Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, page 167

<idle musing>
The same in the Greek cosmology. The Fates are bigger than the gods and over rule them.
</idle musing>

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The solid sky

“For the Israelites, as with everyone else in the ancient world, the solid sky is a material piece of the cosmos, though the Egyptian portrayal of it as a god (Nut) and the Babylonian portrayal of it as part of the divided body of Tiamat warn us against a view that is too material. Instead of objectifying this water barrier, we should focus on the important, twofold cosmic function that it played. The first role of the rāqīʿa was to create the space in which people could live; the second, and more relevant function for the context of Genesis 1, was to be a mechanism by which precipitation was controlled—the means by which rain and precipitation operated. Order in the cosmos (for people especially) depended on the right amount of precipitation. Too little, and starvation resulted; too much, and damaging flooding occurred. The cosmic waters posed a continual threat, and the rāqīʿa was created to establish cosmic order.”— Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, pages 160-161

<idle musing>
While you are reading this, I am likely flying through that solid sky on my way to San Francisco and AAR/SBL. Hopefully, we won't hit anything solid :)
</idle musing>

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Eisenbrauns SBL order form

For those of you who are searching for the Eisenbrauns SBL order forms, they are here. The stats show that you are ending up here on that search term, so that is my public service announcement for the day :)

By the way, Eisenbrauns titles are cheaper on site than through the order form—another public service announcement for you...

Tehom as a boundary

Tĕhôm is neither an enemy to be battled nor an adversary to be defeated. It is simply a term for the cosmic waters, applying either to the precreation context or to the waters at the boundaries of the ordered cosmos. That is, tĕhôm is one of the elements of cosmic geography that parallels what is found in the cognitive environment throughout the ancient Near East. In the precreation period, the tĕhôm covered everything. In the process of creation, it was pushed out to the edges of the cosmos, where it was restrained by the power of God.”— Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, page 145

<idle musing>
Walton is quite adamant about the lack of theomachy (gods fighting each other) in Genesis 1—rightfully so, in my opinion.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Did matter matter to the ancients?

“ is typical in English to draw a distinction between the verb ‘to do’, which takes as its direct object activities performed by the subject, while the verb ‘to make’ usually takes material things as its grammatical direct objects. As a result, when we encounter a Hebrew text in which ʿāśâ has cosmic direct objects, and given that our basic modern ontology is material, we assume that material things being made are the objects of ʿāśâ rather than activities being done, and thus we translate ‘make’ rather than ‘do’. But if the creation of the cosmos is an activity of organizing or ordering, the work identified with the word ʿāśâ must have to do with establishing its functions.”— Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, page 136


“If we do not arrive at the text of Genesis 1 with the preconception that the focus is on the bringing into existence of the material world, the context itself would not lead us to think in predominantly material terms. In the initial period, God brought the cosmos into existence (by setting up an ordered system and giving everything its role within that system). In this proposal, the text is making no comment on material origins. It is more interested in indicating how God set up the cosmos to function for human beings in his image. These functions define the idea of existence; the ancients had little interest in the material.” — Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, page 139

<idle musing>
In answer to the question in today's post title: Apparently not. What do you think?
</idle musing>

Monday, November 14, 2011

Making or doing

“It may be that the very reason that the verb ʿāśâ extends across the range of English ‘to do’ and ‘to make’ is because these two activities are much more closely interconnected in ancient thinking.” [footnote: Note the observation of H. Te Velde concerning Egypt: “The creation theology that was practiced or performed in the cult did not simply commemorate the great mythological deeds of the gods or express the coherence and process of the created world; it was, in effect, creation itself. An Egyptian term for performing rituals is ‘doing things.’ The priest had to ‘do things’ to make sure that the order of the cosmos would be maintained and that the universe, the state and the individual would continue their ordered existence” (CANE 1744)]— Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, page 134

Broccoli and stuff

This is a strange fall; yesterday was 60ºF and today was in the mid-50s until a thunderstorm lowered it to a still warm 45ºF. Normally, nothing would be growing—or at least growing very slowly. Not this year. Good thing, too, because I was late in planting some of my stuff in the hoop house.

The peas are getting big enough to eat and the spinach is almost there, too. The sprouting broccoli and the broccoli raab are coming up nicely, as is the Winter Density Romaine (I was really late on this!). But, the fall broccoli is looking really nice; I plan on cutting a head or two tonight. The picture doesn't really do it justice—the heads are larger than they look here—but you get the idea.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Still on Genesis 1:1

“Thus, the nuanced meaning of bārāʾ that best suits the data is that it means ‘to bring something into (functional) existence’. It suggests the establishment of order often accomplished by making distinctions as roles, status, and identity are distinguished. In contexts where it may retain some of its latent etymology, it may even concern giving something a distinct (functional) existence. Nothing suggests that it should be considered an act of manufacturing something material. Thus, Gen 1:1 becomes, 'In the initial period, God brought cosmic functions into existence.'

“It is not on the basis of the semantic sense of bārāʾ that we draw the conclusion that Israel’s ontology was functional. The main evidence for this conclusion will be brought out in subsequent chapters. However, it is clear that the synchronic analysis of the verb bārāʾ becomes much simpler when the factor of Israelite ontology is brought into the investigation.”— Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, page 133

<idle musing>
Undoubtedly, I'm doing John a disservice here by posting the conclusions without the corresponding pages of backup. But, you'll just have to buy the book to find out how he backs it up!

A clever marketing ploy? Not really, I just didn't want to take up all the space necessary (besides, I might run into copyright issues for too much text). If you really are interested, I figured you'd buy the book anyway...
</idle musing>

Wow, what a hornet's nest

I certainly didn't expect to stir up a hornet's nest with my post on Wednesday, but I certainly seem to have. Peter Kirk posted a link to my post and some additional observations. Rob Holmstedt has been active in commenting both on my blog and Peter's, with the result that today, he posted his own response—without actually linking to Peter's blog.

So, Genesis One continues to be a war zone. Only this time, it is a war zone not over creatio ex nihilo or how long it took or didn't take, or how it happened, but a war zone over the best linguistic explanation. Me, I'm just putting on my fireproof underwear and posting this!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


“In Genesis, the ‘beginning’ (rēʾšît) refers to a preliminary period of time rather than a first point in time. This is comparable with the Akkadian term reštu, which means ‘the first part’ or ‘the first installment’; as well as with the Egyptian phrase introduced (above, p. 126), a term that plays a significant role in cosmological texts. In these texts, the Egyptian phrase refers to “when the pattern of existence was established and first enacted.”[Allen, Genesis in Egypt, 57] In English, we might refer to an initial period such as this as the primordial period. All of this information leads us to conclude that the ‘beginning’ is a way of labeling the seven-day period of creation described in the remainder of Genesis 1 rather than a point in time prior to the seven days. As an independent clause, it offers no description of creative acts but provides a literary introduction to the period of creative activity that then flows into the tôlĕdôt sections that characterize the remainder of the book.”— Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, page 127

<idle musing>
Rob Holmstedt posted a comment yesterday where he mentioned an article he had written with an alternative explanation.

Which do you prefer?
</idle musing>

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

In the beginning...

“...bĕrēʾšît is a strikingly appropriate term to introduce a sequence that will be carried on by the tôlĕdôt transitions. It marks the very first period, with the tôlĕdôt phrases introducing each of the successive periods. If this be the case, the book would now have 12 formally marked sections (a number that is much more logical than 11). If the bĕrēʾšît clause is a marker comparable to the tôlĕdôt clauses, it could easily be seen as functioning in an independent clause, just like the tôlĕdôt clauses. The conclusion then is that it is an independent clause that functions as a literary marker to introduce the seven-day account, just as the tôlĕdôt phrase is a literary marker that introduces the passage that follows.”— Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, page 125

<idle musing>
Now that makes sense to me. All the other explanations of the construct form in Genesis 1:1 have struck me as contrived.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

What is rest?

“Divine rest is portrayed as occurring in a number of different contexts in ancient Near Eastern cosmogonies. Aside from the occasional text in which rest refers to an inactive stupor, divine rest generally represents a state that has been achieved through a particular action that was undertaken as a response to a condition or situation that prior to the divine action was usually viewed as unacceptable. The condition in each case represents something that prevents rest. The action indicates how rest is achieved, and the state describes the type of rest anticipated or enjoyed. The common denominator in most of these cases is that divine rest provides a sense of security. When the situation among the gods or in the larger cosmos is secure, deity may rest—regardless of whether the rest means that he/she is thereby free to do nothing, to socialize, to enjoy life, or to do the work of running the cosmos unimpeded. The location where this rest will be experienced is, of course, the temple, the palace home of the god, where the deity may enjoy leisure, social activity, and rule.”—Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, pages 110-111

<idle musing>
I like this (think Hebrews): "The common denominator in most of these cases is that divine rest provides a sense of security."

Good summary of what Jesus sitting down at the right hand of the Father means for us, isn't it?
</idle musing>

Monday, November 07, 2011

A tale of inventiveness

This weekend I discovered that there is an alternative to duct tape and WD-40™—zip ties!

It's November, the time to rake the lawn. Well, in our case, we use an Agri-fab™ that the previous owners left behind. It sure is nice with 2 acres and lots of trees. But, it is getting old. I know I said the previous owners left it, but actually, the owners before them left it, and so on, going back about 18 years. So, it has a few idiosyncrasies about it. For example, the connection to the lawnmower is hand-made, and the place where the chute connects to the trailer is held together with bungy cords.

Well, Saturday, the hose from the lawnmower to the lawn vac decided to come apart. I looked back and the leaves were shooting straight back into the air; the hose was at a 90º angle. I figured I could buy a new hose. I went to 2 different stores, one of which sells the same lawn vac. Nope. I could order it and wait a few weeks—right. Or, I could get creative.

It was obvious that duct tape wouldn't work. The angle was too sharp and there was too much force on the hose. So, I sealed the hole with duct tape and grabbed my handy zip ties. I circled the hose twice, once on each side of the break, and then put a few zip ties between them and pulled them tight. It worked!

So, my toolbox is now a triad: duct tape, WD-40™, and zip ties...

The center of the universe

“Throughout the ancient world, the temple was a significant part of the cosmic landscape. It was considered to be at the center of the cosmos, the place from which the cosmos was controlled, and a small model of the cosmos—a microcosm...In cosmic space, the temple is at the center. In cosmic time, it precedes everything else.“—Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, page 100, 102

<idle musing>
The Greeks thought that Delphi was the center of the world, so that agrees. Of course, we know that the U.S. is the center of the world, right? After all, every map has it in the center...
</idle musing>

Friday, November 04, 2011

Putting it to sleep for the winter

We had a serious freeze last weekend; it got down to 26ºF. That was the end of the green peppers. I picked them right away in the afternoon, cut them up, and froze them. I ended up getting about 12 more that were of sufficient maturity.

I also decided it was time to harvest my cabbages. If you recall, the cabbage butterflies got a good meal out them. But, even so, I was able to get 8 decent sized heads out of the 15 plants that survived. I put them in the refrigerator to make into sauerkraut later. Later ended up being Tuesday night.

We bought a new hand shredder for the kraut; the old one was Debbie's from before we got married (33 years ago!). This new one is stainless steel and sharp. Very sharp. Extremely sharp. Painfully sharp. Ouch! The cabbage heads I got from the garden are much denser than the ones in the store. That translates into 5 1/2 quarts of sauerkraut from relatively small heads of cabbage. It also translates into more effort to shred them. It also translates into some serious cuts as I adjusted to the shredder being sharper.

It must be November, that's the only way I can think of to explain it. Last November, I tried to cut off my fingers. This year, I tried to cut off my thumb with the new shredder. As I said, it was extremely, painfully sharp. I have a nice flap of skin on the end of my thumb under a bandage. The next day at work, Marti noticed and asked if I had been playing with my lawnmower again. Nope, but the kraut might have a little extra iron in it :)

The garden—except for the hoop house—is pretty much done for the year. I dug the rest of the straw potatoes Wednesday night. We ended up with about a wheelbarrow full. Now, I just need to find a way to store them that is cool enough. Right now, they are in the garage, which stays cool. But, once the nights get colder, they will freeze. By then the basement will probably be cool enough I can move them there. But, I suspect I will get some growth on them come February...


“ is important to realize that the cosmic geography of ancient peoples was predominantly metaphysical and only secondarily physical and material: the roles and manifestations of the gods in the cosmic geography were primary. So, for example, in Mesopotamian thinking, cables held by the gods connected the heaven and earth and held the sun in the sky. In Egypt, the sun-god sailed in his barque across the heavens during the day and through the netherworld at night. The stars of the Egyptian sky were portrayed as emblazoned across the arched body of the sky goddess, who was held up by the god of the air. In another Egyptian depiction, the Cow of Heaven was supported by four gods who each held one of her legs. She gave birth to the sun every day, and the sun traveled across her belly and was swallowed by her at night...

“The apparent neglect of curiosity about the physical structure of the cosmos is therefore not simply a consequence of the ancients’ inability to investigate their physical world. In their thinking, the physical aspects of the cosmos did not define its existence or its importance; physical realities were merely the tools that the gods used for carrying out their own purposes. The purposes of the gods were of prime interest to the ancients.”—Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, pages 89-90

Thursday, November 03, 2011

But where do humans fit in all this?

“The role of humanity is not an independent topic; in the ancient Near Eastern cognitive environment, it can only be understood in relationship to the role of deity. All of the ideology concerning the role of humanity in the cosmos—whether it addresses the circumstances under which people were created, the materials of which they were made (i.e., their composition), their functions, or their propagation—associates them with deity.
The conception of humanity focuses on two roles:
1.Humanity’s role with regard to its place or station in the cosmos
2.Humanity’s role with regard to its functions in the cosmos .”—Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, page 84

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Serving the gods

“The foundation of religion in Mesopotamia is that humanity has been created to serve the gods by meeting their needs for food (sacrifices), housing (temples), clothing, and in general giving them worship and privacy so that these gods can do the work of running the cosmos. The other side of the symbiosis is that the gods will protect their investment by protecting their worshipers and providing for them. Humans thus find dignity in the role that they have in this symbiosis to aid the gods (through their rituals) in running the cosmos.”—Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, page 78

<idle musing>
A bit different from the biblical God, eh? Of course, to hear some people talk, maybe it; claim it; stomp on it and frame it! They want a tame god, but the only way to get a tame god is to have an incompetent one that you need to take care of. I'll stick with the biblical God!
</idle musing>

AAR/SBL prep

Andy, our webmaster and graphic designer, has a nice post on our AAR/SBL prep this year. He even includes photos of the procedure. Do check it out—and check out the real thing at AAR/SBL :)

Oh, by the way, all the books left yesterday for the conference. It is costing us about $1600 to ship them out to a warehouse in South San Francisco—and $2600 for them to be moved about a mile to the conference center. Can you say greedy? We're in the wrong business! We should start hosting conferences and charging ridiculous prices of the vendors...OK, I'm done for now.

<UPDATE:> I fixed the link; sorry about that.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Enuma Elish

“Neither the literature of Canaan nor the literature of Egypt testifies to a revolt of the gods; all we encounter is one god challenging another god. In neither literature, however, is there any reason to conclude that the conflict is related to cosmogony. Enuma Elish, as we have seen, provides examples of three categories of theomachy: dissatisfied class struggle is resolved by creating humankind; macrocosmic chaos, represented in Tiamat’s rebellion, is resolved in cosmogony; and struggle for rule (represented in Kingu’s possession of the Tablet of Destinies) is resolved by Marduk’s ascension to the throne. In this respect, Enuma Elish should be viewed as idiosyncratic rather than paradigmatic. We have no reason to expect that an ancient Near Eastern cosmogony would feature theomachy. “—Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, page 74