Thursday, August 31, 2006

September sale at Eisenbrauns

For the month of September Eisenbrauns is offering selected Brill titles at an unprecedented discount of 50% off retail price; over 30 titles available. Don't miss these savings: Biblia Hebraica Leningradensia only $14.50; selected Neusner titles for less than $25.00; Porter's "Handbook to Exegesis of the New Testament" only $34.50. The list goes on, be sure to check out all the savings

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

RSS live!

Eisenbrauns RSS feeds are now live, finally! You can subscribe to the ones that interest you, or an Überfeed. Andy (our webmaster) creatively describes the Überfeed as One feed to rule them all—but hopefully not "in the darkness bind them." :)

Coming soon, probably tomorrow, are three more feeds. These feeds will update twice daily:
1. Newly added used books. This feed will show the used titles that have been added that day. Some days there won't be any; other days you could have a whole list of them. Of course, its first come, first served on used books, since usually there is only one copy.

2. Newly added titles, available for ordering, which will primarily consist of newly announced and not yet published titles that can be ordered.

3. Just arrived. This feed is for titles that have just arrived. It will list newly published books and books that have been out of stock at the publisher or other titles that have a high profile.

Just arrived is not intended to replace BookNews "New and Noteworthy," but supplement it. I can only announce 10 books at a time in New and Noteworthy. Right now I have a backlog of over 50 titles. Obviously, some of them never make it to the BookNews listing.

Laptop update

I know you are all hanging on the edge of your seats waiting for the next update in my laptop saga :)

Well, the memory was sent to the technician, not me, which is fine. But, the other parts that the technician had ordered—new keyboard (my arrow keys are sticking), LCD screen (there is a scratch in the middle of the screen) and a backup motherboard (in case the new board is bad)—didn't arrive.

We decided (Dave & I) that it wasn't worthwhile for the tech to come out and only do half the job. So, I am still working from the commandeered desktop and waiting for my laptop. I'm just glad it isn't closer to AAR/SBL time!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


OK, the technician came and put a new motherboard in the laptop. He started up diagnostics and told me to let them run for an hour. I went to lunch. About 20 minutes into it, Dave came and said that the laptop was dead again.

I came back to my office; sure enough, it was dead. Well, we figured the battery might have died, so we plugged the AC adapter in and restarted diagnostics. This time I sat at my desk reading while diagnostics ran. About 2/3 of the way through the memory test, it died again. Completely, ded, no power, nothing. Ouch. So, I called Dell and got a very pleasant customer service person. She didn't read a script, she actually interacted with me as a human being! Amazing.

Well, we tried a bunch of stuff and nothing got anywhere. Since it was a new motherboard, she figured (and I agreed) that it must be bad memory that the motherboard had damaged when it died. So, I am now awaiting 2 DIMMs of memory to arrive tomorrow.

Meantime, Dave stole me a desktop that I am using, so I now have e-mail. The hard drive in the laptop is good and we recovered all my files, so I can access those.

Considering what it could have been, this is nothing. But, I would have preferred it didn't happen at all :)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Back to School sale on Hebrew and Ugaritic

We're moving on to the next set of languages.

For the next 10 days Eisenbrauns will be featuring selected reference works on Hebrew and Ugaritic from 7-70% off. Details are available here


That scream you heard Saturday night about 8:00 EDT was I. My laptop did a serious hardware crash. It won't even get me to a BIOS screen anymore...

I have discovered once again that there are 11 kinds of people when it comes to computers:
1. Those who have lost files they desperately need
10. Those who will
11. Those who lie :)

I am hoping that the harddrive is salvageable enough to copy my unbacked up files off of.

Moral of story: listen to that still small voice that is nudging you to make backups of your important files. I didn't :( Hopefully grace extends to recovering files.

Well, the files are recovered. But, the laptop is toast. At least it is under extended warranty, but I'm wandering around from computer to computer trying to get work done :(

Friday, August 25, 2006

RSS equals frustration

We are messing around with RSS feeds here at Eisenbrauns. We are trying to set them up for the various bookstore pages—ANE, Archaeology, Biblical Studies, etc. RSS is supposed to stand for "Really Simple Syndication." Right! Really simple to whom?

I now have 4 RSS readers running on my machine, trying to figure out what makes things tick. We have read the specs at W3 about mandatory tags, optional tags, etc. By our reckoning everything is supposed to be running right. But, it still doesn't seem to feed right. Frustrating. We have spent the better part of the last 3 days on it and intermittently before that for a few weeks.

Every one of the readers catches the feed at a different time. I even force an update and sometimes it catches it and sometimes it doesn't. We aren't sure if it is our database or if it is our firewall or if it is the readers. I tend to think it is at least partially the readers, since I also subscribed them to different feeds and the same things occur...

Update: 4:30 PM We think we found the problem. Seems a field in one of our databases wasn't getting updated correctly. We'll see on Monday! Hang on to your hats, it could get crazy :)


Scot McKnight is at it again. This time he noticed a scary trend, The Rise of Neo-Fundamentalism. I quote in part:

There is a conviction among Neo-Fundamentalists that one can’t err if one gets too conservative, but that is the sin of what I called “zealotry.”

What I can’t understand is why people want to go there: its history is predictable. Though I’m no prophet, this is what I think might occur:
It will become insular and separatistic,
it will become divisive and accusatory from within,
it will lack grace,
it will create Christians who are not free in the Spirit but who will be rigid and intolerant,
it will become socially withdrawn,
it will lose a prophetic voice because it will lose contact with culture,
it will attract angry, defensive, and mean-spirited individuals… I could go on.

<idle musing>
Lord, deliver us. May it not be true of us that "on account of you the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles."
</idle musing>

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Eisenbrauns book wins award

Eisenbrauns is pleased to announce that Isaac Kalimi’s book The Reshaping of Ancient Israelite History in Chronicles was awarded the 2006 R. B. Y. Scott Award by the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies. This award is offered annually by the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies in recognition of an outstanding book in the areas of Hebrew Bible and/or the Ancient Near East written by a member of the CSBS and published during the previous two years. The Award is determined by a panel of judges drawn from members of the Society with a publishing record in at least one of the areas covered by the Award.

You can see all the details on how the award is chosen, plus a list of previous winners here. The last three winners are Eisenbrauns authors, although the other two are not for books we published.

Early church

Recently, Jim West posted on women teaching in the early church. I don't intend to interact with that post. But, in it he makes the following statement:

Part one is easily enough explained when one recalls that in the first century church, women and men sat apart from one another. If women sitting across the room asked their husbands what this or that meant as the speaker spoke, nothing but mayhem would ensue. So, women are advised (as they are in Corinthians) to listen quietly. In Corinthians they are further admonished to wait until they got home to ask their husbands questions. In sum, v 11 is a practical bit unconnected to what follows. It is erroneously linked to what comes after instead of what comes before.

This is not the first time I have heard the assertion that women and men sat apart from one another in the early church. I have heard it several times in the last year. My question is: Where is the evidence that this was so? It seems to me that this is reading later practices back into the 1st & 2nd century church. According to Winter in Roman Wives, Roman Widows, one of the problems for the early church was the emancipation of women being taken too far. I understood that to include non-separation of women and men.

We should not assume that the early church was like our current mainline denominational churches or megachurches, where everyone files in nice and quiet and watches a carefully scripted show from their seats/pews. Nor should we assume it is like a charismatic/pentecostal one with a greater degree of interaction. The texts related to the church in the New Testament seem to imply that there was a good deal of chaos with too many people trying to get their say in, too much drinking and eating, too many people speaking in tongues, too many prophecies, too much of everything except order! I just don't see this fitting the description that Jim describes above. They met in homes, probably of the wealthier members so that there would be enough room, not in "churches." The building wasn't called a "church" until much later. In fact, the earliest church to date, found last year at Megiddo, has been renamed a "prayer hall," see A Christian Prayer Hall of the Third Century CE at Kefar `Othnay (Legio). It is time we drop our eisegesis and start doing some exegesis instead.

So, I repeat my question: Where is the evidence that men and women sat in different sections of the building during the church meeting?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

For all you linguists

From a post on Classics-L:

BBC 8/23/06:

Cows also have regional accents

Cows have regional accents like humans, language specialists have

They decided to examine the issue after dairy farmers noticed their cows had
slightly different moos, depending on which herd they came from.

John Wells, Professor of Phonetics at the University of London, said
regional twangs had been seen before in birds.

More here

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Pacifism, yet again

Joe Cathey has another post against pacifism. I promise I won't keep answering each post he makes, really. I don't want it to appear that he and I are in a shouting (or shooting?) match. We aren't. We have different opinions, but respect each other's opinions.

Joe mentions that he has lived in places where he felt the need to carry a weapon to defend himself and his family. I also have lived in less than pleasant surroundings. While I was a student at the University of Chicago, our car was broken into each year. Our next door neighbor was held up at gunpoint. Debbie (my wife) saw (and reported) a car theft in broad daylight.

During that time, I walked back and forth to school on the same path as my neighbor (a law school student, incidentally). I carried a laptop computer (this was in the mid '80s, a rarity then) with me in plain sight. We went for walks as a family in the evening. We went for bike rides around the neighborhood and along the lake shore. We were never once bothered. I will not venture to guess why my neighbor was held up and I wasn't. Perhaps it was because I didn't dress in anything other than bluejeans and a t-shirt. Perhaps it was the way I walked. I prefer to think that it was God. Now, if I had been held up, would that mean God failed? Absolutely not! When we go where God puts us, we are His responsibility.

My daughter was with YWAM and spent 3 months in Kyrgyzstan. This was in 2000, before 9/11. The next year, a family member said something to the effect of "you wouldn't go now, would you?" Her answer made me proud. She said, "Well, if that is where God sent me and I didn't go, then I would be disobeying, wouldn't I."

I don't want to be responsible for sending someone to hell. We are called to be salt and light. Can you see Peter or Paul with a gun? OK, a sword? We know Peter knew how to use one, not well, but he tried. But, did he after Pentecost? I doubt it. Paul walked on some pretty nasty roads during his missionary journeys. He says "in danger on the road" in 2 Cor. (The roads in the rural Roman Empire were havens for robbers; you traveled in large groups for safety.) Where was their protection? The same place as Ezra's (see Ezra 8). In God.

The bottom line is always the same. Do you depend on God to protect you where He sends you, or do you use man's tools to accomplish divine purposes? I John 4:4 says, "Little children, you are of God, and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." (RSV) I don't think John was referring to weapons...

Politics and the church

Wow! Somebody "important" finally had the nerve to say something. This was on AOL News (thanks to Ben Myers for the tip):

“When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses,” Mr. Boyd preached. “When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.”

Mr. Boyd says he is no liberal. He is opposed to abortion and thinks homosexuality is not God’s ideal. The response from his congregation at Woodland Hills Church here in suburban St. Paul -- packed mostly with politically and theologically conservative, middle-class evangelicals -- was passionate. Some members walked out of a sermon and never returned. By the time the dust had settled, Woodland Hills, which Mr. Boyd founded in 1992, had lost about 1,000 of its 5,000 members.

But there were also congregants who thanked Mr. Boyd, telling him they were moved to tears to hear him voice concerns they had been too afraid to share.

“Most of my friends are believers,” said Shannon Staiger, a psychotherapist and church member, “and they think if you’re a believer, you’ll vote for Bush. And it’s scary to go against that.”

Sermons like Mr. Boyd’s are hardly typical in today’s evangelical churches. But the upheaval at Woodland Hills is an example of the internal debates now going on in some evangelical colleges, magazines and churches. A common concern is that the Christian message is being compromised by the tendency to tie evangelical Christianity to the Republican Party and American nationalism, especially through the war in Iraq.

<idle musing>
There is a strong danger of diluting the Christian gospel with a patriotic slant that reflects what a culture is, rather than what God is. This takes the euangelion and turns it into a kakangelion, capable of saving no one and eliminating the transformational nature of the gospel.

No culture is free from it, the church fell into the same trap in the Roman Empire. Throughout history the church has wrestled with how to relate to government.

A strict separation is no more realistic than a melding of the two. You can't separate a person's religious stance from his political stance—they are intertwined with who a person is. That is not what I am fighting against. My fear is that a particular political viewpoint gets equated with Christianity. It doesn't matter if it is my viewpoint (somewhat left of center), or Joe Cathey's view (somewhat right of center), or Boyd's view (probably a bit left of center), or Bush's view (right of center). The point is that different political viewpoints do not have a special "in" with the gospel.
</idle musing>

Monday, August 21, 2006

New 10 Day Sale

I forgot to post this last Thursday! Don't miss the continuing "Back-to-School" sales, this one, for Aramaic, Coptic and Hittite, is good through August 27:

The complete listing is here:

"An Introduction to Aramaic, Second Edition"
by Frederick E. Greenspahn
Resources for Biblical Study - RBS 46
Society of Biblical Literature - SBL, Paper. English.
ISBN: 1589830598
List Price: $47.95 Your Price: $35.96

"A Short Grammar of Biblical Aramaic"
by Alger F. Johns
Andrews University Press, Paper. English.
ISBN: 094387274X
List Price: $14.99 Your Price: $13.49

"A Short Grammar of Biblical Aramaic: An Annotated Answer Key"
by James N. Jumper
Andrews University Press, Paper. English.
ISBN: 1883925436
List Price: $14.99 Your Price: $13.49

"Biblical Aramaic"
by Elisha Qimron
Biblical Encyclopaedia Library - BEL 10
Bialik Institute, Paper. Hebrew.
ISBN: 9653426141
List Price: $41.00 Your Price: $32.80

"A Grammar of Biblical Aramaic"
by Franz Rosenthal
Porta Linguarum Orientalium - PLO 5
Harrassowitz Verlag, Paper. English.
ISBN: 3447052511
List Price: $38.00 Your Price: $33.44

"Grammatik des Biblisch-Aramaischen"
by Hans Bauer and Pontus Leander
Georg Olms Verlag, Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3487002582
List Price: $86.00 Your Price: $77.40

"Dictionary of the Targumim, Talmud Babli,
Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature"
by Marcus Jastrow
Judaica Press, Cloth. English.
ISBN: 1932443207
List Price: $34.95 Your Price: $27.96

This has a bit larger print than the preceding one:
"A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli
and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature"
by Marcus Jastrow
Hendrickson Publishers, Cloth. English.
ISBN: 1565638603
List Price: $49.95 Your Price: $29.97

"Textbook of Aramaic Documents from Ancient Egypt,
Volume 1: Letters"
Edited by Bezalel Porten and Ada Yardeni
Textbook of Aramaic Documents from Ancient Egypt - TADAE
Hebrew University, Paper. English.
ISBN: 9652220752
List Price: $49.00 Your Price: $39.20

"Textbook of Aramaic Documents from Ancient Egypt,
Volume 2: Contracts"
Edited by Bezalel Porten and Ada Yardeni
Textbook of Aramaic Documents from Ancient Egypt - TADAE 2
Hebrew University, Paper. English.
ISBN: 9653500031
List Price: $78.00 Your Price: $62.40

"Textbook of Aramaic Documents from Ancient Egypt,
Volume 3: Literature, Accounts, Lists"
Edited by Bezalel Porten and Ada Yardeni
Textbook of Aramaic Documents from Ancient Egypt - TADAE 3
Hebrew University, Paper. English.
ISBN: 9653500147
List Price: $84.00 Your Price: $67.20

"Textbook of Aramaic Documents from Ancient Egypt,
Volume 4: Ostraca and Assorted Inscriptions"
Edited by Bezalel Porten and Ada Yardeni
Textbook of Aramaic Documents from Ancient Egypt - TADAE 4
Hebrew University, Paper. English.
ISBN: 9653500899
List Price: $80.00 Your Price: $64.00

"Textbook of Aramaic, Hebrew and Nabataean Documentary
Texts from the Judaean Desert and Related Material"
by Ada Yardeni
Hebrew University, Cloth. Hebrew and English.
ISBN: 965350083X
List Price: $170.00 Your Price: $136.00

"Textbook of Aramaic, Hebrew and Nabataean Documentary
Texts from the Judaean Desert and Related Material: Volume 2 only"
by Ada Yardeni
Hebrew University, Cloth. Hebrew and English.
List Price: $90.00 Your Price: $72.00

"A Simplified Coptic Dictionary (Sahidic Dialect)"
by Joaquim Azevedo
Centro de Pesquisa de Literatura Biblica Publication Series:
Tools for Exegesis - CePLiB 1
Seminario Adventista Latino-Americano de Teologia, Paper. English.
ISBN: 8588818019
List Price: $40.00 Your Price: $24.00

"Coptic Dictionary"
Edited by Walter E. Crum
Wipf and Stock, Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0198644043
List Price: $135.00 Your Price: $101.25

"Coptic Grammatical Categories: Structural Studies
in the Syntax of Shenoutean Sahidic"
by A. Shisha-Halevy
Analecta Orientalia - AO 53
Biblical Institute Press / Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico,
Paper. English.
ISBN: 8876532552
List Price: $78.00 Your Price: $70.20

"Coptic Grammatical Chrestomathy: A Course for
Academic and Private Study"
Edited by A. Shisha-Halevy
Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta - OLA 30
Peeters Publishers, Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9068311395
List Price: $55.00 Your Price: $46.75

"Introduction to Sahidic Coptic"
by Thomas O. Lambdin
Mercer University Press, Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0865540489
List Price: $45.00 Your Price: $36.00

"A Coptic Grammar: With Chrestomathy and Glossary-Sahidic Dialect"
by Bentley Layton
Porta Linguarum Orientalium - PLO 20
Harrassowitz Verlag, Paper. English.
ISBN: 3447042400
List Price: $119.00 Your Price: $101.15

"Beginning Hittite"
by Warren H. Held, William R. Schmalstieg, and Janet E. Gertz
Slavica Publishers, Paper. English.
ISBN: 0893571849
List Price: $19.95 Your Price: $17.96

"Chicago Hittite Dictionary: L-N fascicle 1 (la- to ma -)"
Edited by Hans G. Guterbock and Harry A. Hoffner Jr.
Chicago Hittite Dictionary - CHD fascicle 1
Oriental Institute-Chicago, Paper. English.
ISBN: 0918986273
List Price: $15.00 Your Price: $13.50

"Chicago Hittite Dictionary: L-N fascicle 2 (-ma to miyahuwant-)"
Edited by Hans G. Guterbock and H. A. Hoffner
Chicago Hittite Dictionary - CHD fascicle 2
Oriental Institute-Chicago, Paper. English.
ISBN: 0918986389
List Price: $20.00 Your Price: $18.00

"Chicago Hittite Dictionary: L-N fascicle 3 (miyahuwant- to nai-)"
Edited by Hans G. Guterbock and Harry A. Hoffner Jr.
Chicago Hittite Dictionary - CHD fascicle 3
Oriental Institute-Chicago, Paper. English.
ISBN: 0918986486
List Price: $25.00 Your Price: $22.50

"Chicago Hittite Dictionary: L-N fascicle 4 (nai- to nutarnu-)"
Edited by Hans G. Guterbock and Harry A. Hoffner Jr.
Chicago Hittite Dictionary - CHD fascicle 4
Oriental Institute-Chicago, Paper. English.
ISBN: 0918986583
List Price: $30.00 Your Price: $27.00

"Chicago Hittite Dictionary, Volume P"
Edited by Hans G. Guterbock and Harry A. Hoffner Jr.
Chicago Hittite Dictionary - CHD P
Oriental Institute-Chicago, Cloth. English.
ISBN: 1885923082
List Price: $120.00 Your Price: $108.00

"Chicago Hittite Dictionary, Volume S, Fascicle 1: sa to saptamenzu"
Edited by Hans G. Guterbock, Harry A. Hoffner Jr.,
and Theo P. J. van den Hout
Chicago Hittite Dictionary - CHD S/1
Oriental Institute-Chicago, Paper. English.
ISBN: 1885923201
List Price: $40.00 Your Price: $36.00

"Chicago Hittite Dictionary, Volume S, Fascicle 2: saptamenzu to Z"
Edited by Hans G. Guterbock, Harry A. Hoffner Jr.,
and Theo P. J. van den Hout
Chicago Hittite Dictionary - CHD S/2
Oriental Institute-Chicago, Paper. English.
ISBN: 1885923376
List Price: $25.00 Your Price: $22.50

"Hethitisches Zeichenlexikon: Inventar und Interpretation
der Keilschriftzeichen aus den Bogazkoy-Texten"
by Christel Ruster and Erich Neu
Harrassowitz Verlag, Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3447027940
List Price: $109.00 Your Price: $98.10

"Hieroglyphic Luwian"
by Annick Payne
Edited by Reinhard G. Lehmann
Elementa Linguarum Orientis - ELO 3
Harrassowitz Verlag, Paper. English.
ISBN: 3447050268
List Price: $47.00 Your Price: $42.30

"Hittite Exercise Book"
by Susanne Zeilfelder
Translated by Esther-Miriam Wagner
Dresdener Beitrage zur Hethitologie - DBH 17
Harrassowitz Verlag, Paper. English.
ISBN: 3447052066
List Price: $43.50 Your Price: $39.15

What about the just war theory?

The just war theory is frequently used to justify war. While a popular argument, it is based on a faulty assumption. It was formulated by Augustine in the 5th century, after the Roman Empire had become “Christian.” The argument assumes that the state is the instrument of God, similar to the way that Israel was the chosen nation of God. This is problematic; there never has been and never will be a “Christian” nation. God primary instrument in the New Testament is the Church, just as His primary instrument in the Hebrew bible was Israel.

The assumption that a certain nation of point of view is the one ordained by God in a conflict is especially prominent in the United States. Our history is filled with people who believed that the New World was a new starting point ordained by God to become “His chosen” in the world.

In actuality, Hebrews 11 points out that as Christians this world is just a waypoint on the path to a real home:

These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

Further, the scriptures repeatedly state, “`Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ saith the LORD.” How can that be true if we don’t give Him a chance? We are called to be salt, but if the salt is the same as the unsalted in actions, what do we have to conclude about the salt?

A friend of mine loves to ask the rhetorical question, “Does a fish know it is wet?” Good point. Do we know we are part of the current culture? That requires a commitment to hear what God is saying, even—especially—when it runs counter to what the culture around us is saying.

Just some idle musings on a Monday morning.

Does the Hebrew Bible endorse pacifism? (long)

While it would be a stretch to make the statement that the Hebrew bible endorses pacifism, I believe there is an incipient pacifism which is developed more fully in the New Testament. Here is a list of passages that point in that direction (all taken from RSV). There are others, but these jumped into my mind.

1. Exodus 14:13-14, 24-25
The people of Israel have just left Egypt and are being pursued by the Egyptian army. They are trapped in front of Yam Suph:

And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be still.” … And in the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down upon the host of the Egyptians, and discomfited the host of the Egyptians, clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily; and the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel; for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.”

2. Joshua 5:13-15
The Israelites are about to take on Jericho:

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man stood before him with his drawn sword in his hand; and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and worshiped, and said to him, “What does my lord bid his servant?” And the commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Put off your shoes from your feet; for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.

A word of warning to any who think God is on their side!

3. Judges 7:2
Gideon has called the people to arms and too many responded:

The LORD said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, ‘My own hand has delivered me.’

The subsequent battle shows that it is the hand of YHWH who does the fighting, scaring the Midianites out of their wits with a few torches and jars

4. I Samuel 7:10
Samuel is offering a sacrifice to YHWH before the Israelites attack the Philistines:

As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel; but the LORD thundered with a mighty voice that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion; and they were routed before Israel.

5. 2 Kings 6:15-23
Elisha is supposed to be captured by the Arameans:

When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was round about the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Fear not, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed, and said, “O LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

The story goes on to relate that as a result of this, the Arameans no longer raided Israel. Not because they were defeated in battle, but because the king of Israel fed them and sent them home!

6. 2 Chronicles 20
The Moabites and Ammonites are after Judah:

And the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. And he said, “Hearken, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Fear not, and be not dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s.Tomorrow go down against them; behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz; you will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle; take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Fear not, and be not dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.”… And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the LORD and praise him in holy array, as they went before the army, and say, “Give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures for ever.” And when they began to sing and praise, the LORD set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.

7. Daniel 4:17
Nebuchadnezzar has a dream predicting insanity because of his hubris

The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men, and gives it to whom he will, and sets over it the lowliest of men.’

As you can see, there is much here to chew on. YHWH himself fights on behalf of his chosen ones and arranges history to His ends. Repeatedly the people are told to let YHWH fight on their behalf.

I believe that this would happen more often if we would stop trying to manipulate God and circumstances to our advantage.

Friday, August 18, 2006

More thoughts on Pacifism

Well, it took a little longer than I expected...

The standard objection I get to pacifism is the right to defend oneself or loved ones. This objection is very problematic for several reasons:

1. By killing the person who is assaulting, you are almost sure to be sending them directly to hell. How is that loving? You are condemning a person to an eternity without God. Why? In many cases it has nothing to do with protecting individuals, but rather protecting material goods—that are all going to burn in the end anyway!

2. The right to defend oneself, or loved ones, although sacrosanct in U.S. culture, is not a biblical right. This is the major stumbling block for many. We are so acclimatized to culture that we assume it is right. As Christians, we have no rights. We are slaves of Christ, He is our master. He commands us to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us. Culture says, defend what is yours, kill if necessary.

3. The scenario omits the most important character—God. By taking the situation into our own hands, we are removing the divine defender. Romans 8:28 says that God is working, not as an after thought running around trying to fix everything, but actively working. Scripture repeatedly says that vengeance belongs to the Lord. Scripture also says that the death of His saints is precious in His sight.

4. We value life more than obedience in our culture. We obey if we understand or can explain it. God doesn't ask our permission or opinion. He's been running the world a lot longer than you or I have been around and has proven over and over to be wise and loving and altogether good.

I'm running out of time, so these last two are just mentioned:

5. Our god is too small. Yes, the lower case is intentional.

6. We undervalue the power of prayer. We pay lip service to it, but don't stake our lives on it.

Hopefully I will be able to flesh these last two out...


My good friend and brother, Joe Cathey, has published a series of posts on pacifism: here, here, here, and here. I have been interacting with him in the comment section, but thought it would be good to create a full blown post.

First, let's be clear about one thing: Christians have disagreed about this issue for centuries. Disagreement should not break communion; disagreement should be from an attitude of love and respect for the other person. Joe and I had lunch together at AAR/SBL last November and we are planning another one this November. I like Joe and respect him, but I disagree with his stand on war.

Second, a definition is in order. Pacifism is from two Latin words: pacem facere. Translated: To make peace. It isn't related to passive, it is active.

Third, Peace in biblical language is not just the absence of war! Shalom in Hebrew has a much wider meaning than that. The root $LM in the intensive (piel) has the meaning of paying ones debts. It has to do with a wholeness, even a sense of justice. That is the goal of pacifism. To accomplish biblical justice and wholeness.

Yikes! I have to get to work. More later...

Short History of Christianity

This is what I am reading right now:

A Short History of Christianity

A Short History of Christianity
by Stephen Tomkins
256 pages,English
Cloth,6 x 9
ISBN: 0802833829
List Price: $15.00
Your Price: $11.25

It is just exactly what it says it is, short. It reads very fast and is quite entertaining; the perfect book to give someone who needs to know some church history, but would never read a full blown one. I will probably send this to my son after I finish it. It would be perfect for him, a good overview that will keep him interested. Hopefully it will wet his appetite for a more complete one, but if it doesn't he will still have gotten a basic overview.

For $11.25, you can afford to give it away, but you might want to skim through it first just for the fun of it. Tompkins is quite witty and is able to make history fun.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Interesting statistic

I ran across this in a marketing e-mail I subscribe to. The web version is here near the bottom of the page.

Restaurant sales are projected to hit $511 billion in 2006, according to the National Restaurant Association. There are 925,000 dining locations in the U.S., employing 12.5 million people, the association reports. These establishments will serve up over 70 billion meals and snacks this year. That's not surprising, considering that daily 130 million individuals are food service patrons.

<idle musing>
Hmmm...and we wonder why the U.S. has become a nation that is chronically overweight? Maybe this has something to do with it? 130 million people a day! 70 billion meals! How does world hunger fit in here? Just wondering.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

New book from IAA on the Megiddo "Church"

The Israel Antiquities Authority has just published a book on the Megiddo prison "church." Here are the details:

A Christian Prayer Hall of the Third Century CE at Kefar `Othnay (Legio)
Excavations at the Megiddo Prison 2005

by Yotam Tepper and Leah Di Segni
Israel Antiquities Authority,Forthcoming October 2006
59 pages,English
ISBN: 9654061937
Your Price: $20.00

We will be receiving copies soon and will be taking quite a few to ASOR and AAR/SBL in Washington, D.C. in November.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"Critical" Scholarship

I must confess that I never read Ben Witherington's blog, he's too wordy for me, but Tyler Williams mentioned this post, which is something I had been thinking about for a while now. I quote the relevant section:

Skepticism is itself a faith posture, a presupposition that affects and infects how one reads Biblical texts, just as ardent faith is also a faith posture. It is of course necessary for any historical scholar to recognize and take into account what his or her faith posture or inclinations or predispositions are as one approaches the Biblical text.

But here’s the rub. Some scholars, mistaking skepticism for critical thinking, assume that they are being ‘objective’, approaching the text in a value free way with no axes to grind, while person’s of ‘faith’ are approaching the text in a ‘subjective’ manner that is tendentious and necessarily predetermines the outcome of the interpretation of the Biblical text. This is not necessarily true at all on either side of the equation.

There is of course no purely objective value free scholarship out there. It is just that some do a better job of admitting this, and owning up to their presuppositions and inclinations than others do, and some do a better job of being objective than others. And I would say that it is those who are aware of their own commitments and take them into account and even correct for them that are the persons who really ought to be called critical scholars whether they are persons of no apparent faith, agnostic, or persons of one or another sort of ardent faith. A critical scholar is one who is capable of being self-critical and self-corrective, as well as being able to cast a discerning eye on this or that Biblical text.

<idle musing>
I was reading in Acts in the Greek New Testament a while back. When I came to Paul's defense before Agrippa (Acts 26), I found it interesting that Festus interrupts him crying, "Your great learning is driving you insane" (NIV). These days we would say that it was a sign of unlearning or ignorance that would cause him to believe in the resurrection. Strange mutation, isn't it?

Of course, the bottom line is that it wasn't easily accepted then just as it isn't accepted now. So, maybe it isn't really a mutation, just a morphing of the expression of unbelief...
</idle musing>

Monday, August 14, 2006

A little slow

OK, I promised over a week ago that I would recap week 2 of vacation, although I'm sure it hasn't been keeping you on the edge of your seat :)

Our son, Ryan lives in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and is on the leadership team of God's Barn which is a youth outreach. They have an old farmhouse there that they call "The Mission house" which is where we stayed. The place is essentially a duplex, with one half open to drop-ins and the other has living quarters. Because of zoning laws, no permanent residents are allowed, but we freeloaded for about 5 days. Well, we didn't really freeload, since I did some stuff.

One of the things was to put ceiling fans in the barn. They use the old hayloft as a worship/prayer room and it gets quite warm. The week we were there the temperatures outside were running in the 90's F. You can imagine what the barn ran. A nearby church had donated 5 ceiling fans, but they hadn't been mounted, nor had the wiring been run. That was my job for the week—helping Jim mount and wire the fans. So, I'm at the top of 20 feet of scaffolding drilling through the rafters and mounting fans in 90 degree weather. Strange vacation! But, we got them mounted and they work.

Actually, we had a good time. The Barn has an excellent outreach to people who desperately need to know the love of Jesus in their lives. Jim, Becky, Fred and company do a good job of displaying that love without compromising. Debbie and I enjoyed talking and praying with them. Maybe next time they will have a cooler job for me to do :)

Friday, August 11, 2006

BookNews error

I just sent a BookNews announcing some new books. About 5 minutes after I sent it, I noticed an error. Too late to recall it. Oops.

Then I challenged the Customer Service reps to find the error. Help! They found a second one. It must be Friday!

Can you find one of the errors? Here's the BookNews:

Eisenbrauns would like to congratulate two of our authors who were recently recognized for their accomplishments:

Dr. Joan Goodnick-Westenholz was recently awarded the Curator's Prize by the Israeli Ministry of Culture. Dr. Goodnick-Westenholz, chief curator at the Bible Lands Museum, Jerusalem received the prize for her contribution to understanding the history of the People of Israel against the background of the cultures of the ancient near east.

Prof. Sara Japhet (The Hebrew University) was elected President of the World Union of Jewish Studies by the Union Council at its meeting on May 26, 2006. Japhet is Professor of Bible at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research interests include biblical religion and literature, restoration period; literature, history
and theology; Biblical law and the history of Jewish exegesis. She was the recipient of the Israel Prize for Biblical Studies for the year 2004.

Don't miss our annual back-to-school sales going on now. For Akkadian and Sumerian resource works at 10-30% off, click on the "Go to monthly sale" link on the New and Noteworthy page; for Greek and Syriac reference works at 10-50% off, click on the "Go to weekly sale" link.

To see cover graphics and read more information about the new titles listed below, please follow this link:

This week's retail special is at the bottom of this e-mail, 1/3 off on Westbrook's 2 volume "History of Ancient Near Eastern Law," don't miss it.
New from Eisenbrauns' distribution partners:

>From TVZ:
"Wortschatz der Hebraischen Bibel: Zweieinhalbtausend Vokabeln alphabetisch und thematisch geordnet"
by Samuel Arnet
Theologischer Verlag Zurich, Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3290173747
Your Price: $23.00

>From Academic Press Fribourg in the OBO series:
This one has already sold out of the first shipment,
but there are more on order:
"Altbabylonische Zeichenliste der sumerisch-literarischen Texte"
by Catherine Mittermayer
Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis - OBO Sonderband
Academic Press Fribourg, Paper. German.
ISBN: 3727815515
List Price: $70.00 Your Price: $56.00

"Garments of the Gods: Studies on the Textile Industry and the Pantheon of Sippar according to the Texts from the Ebabbar Archive"
by Stefan Zawadzki
Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis - OBO
Academic Press Fribourg, Cloth. English.
ISBN: 3727815558
Your Price: $69.00

>From IAA:
"Shoham (North): Late Chalcolithic Burial Caves in the Lod Valley, Israel"
Edited by Ram Gophna and E. C. van den Brink
Israel Antiquities Authority Reports - IAAR 27
Israel Antiquities Authority, Paper. English.
ISBN: 9654061848
Your Price: $30.00

"The Tel Bet Yerah Excavations: 1994-1995"
Edited by Nimrod Getzov
Israel Antiquities Authority Reports - IAAR
Israel Antiquities Authority, Paper. English.
ISBN: 9654061864
Your Price: $28.00

"Atiqot 51 (2006)"
Edited by Zvi Gal
Atiqot 51
Israel Antiquities Authority, Paper. English and Hebrew.
ISBN: 9654061880
Your Price: $36.00

>From NINO:
"The Akkadian Language in its Semitic Context: Studies in the Akkadian of the Third and Second Millennium BC"
Edited by Guy Deutscher and M.J.C. Kowenberg
Publications de l'Institut historique-archeologique neerlandais de Stamboul - PIHANS 106
Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten / Netherlands Institute for the Near East (NINO), Paper.
English and German.
ISBN: 9062583172
Your Price: $39.00

"Die Tempelanlage Amenemhets III. in Hawara: Das Labyrinth. Bestandsaufname und Auswertung der Architektur- und Inventarfragmente"
by I. Blom-Boer
Egyptologische Uitgaven - EU 20
Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten / Netherlands Institute for the Near East (NINO), Paper. English.
ISBN: 9062582206
Your Price: $119.00

"Anatolica 32 (2006)"
Anatolica: Annuaire International pour les Civilisations de l'Asie Anterieure 32
Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten / Netherlands Institute for the Near East (NINO), Paper. English.
Your Price: $85.50

>From Paternoster:
"The Significance of Salvation: A Study of Salvation Language in the Pastoral Epistles"
by George M. Wieland
Paternoster Biblical Monographs-PBM
Paternoster Press, Paper. English.
ISBN: 1842272578
List Price: $33.99 Your Price: $29.91

This week's retail special:
"A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law - 2 volume set"
Handbook of Oriental Studies, Part One: The Ancient Near East and Middle East - HOSANE / HOSNME 72
Edited by Raymond Westbrook
Brill Academic Publishers, 2003
1248 pages, English, Cloth
ISBN: 9004129952
List Price: $399.00 Sale Price: $265.73 (33%)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Revolution by Barna

On my vacation I finally read The Revolution by George Barna. I had read the review in Christianity Today which slammed it, so I didn't figure I would read it. But, Jim, the guy who runs God's Barn (where we stayed the second week, more later) said I might find it interesting. He was right.

I understand why CT finds it frightening, as would all people with a stake in the established church. I personally found a book that describes who I have been since God got a firm hold on my life over 32 years ago. I thought I had a broad description of what constitutes church, having been involved in house churches off and on for over 30 years. But, Barna's is broader (and more biblical!). He says that whenever two or more Christians get together, it is church.

I only have two beefs with the book:
  • He calls Christians sinners

  • No where in the New Testament are Christians who are redeemed called sinners. They are always called Saints.

  • He misrepresents the Wesleyan Revival somewhat

  • I can forgive him this, because he is seeing it through the lenses of the Great Awakening and Jonathan Edwards. This is a very common error by people in the United States and doesn't diminish the value of the book at all.

    Other than that, I would highly recommend the book. It may help you understand some of those strange Christians in your life—or you may find yourself described and discover that you aren't the only one out there. :)

    Wednesday, August 09, 2006

    Back to school sale

    I see that Charles over at Awilum has already linked there, but we are running our annual back-to-school sales again this month at Eisenbrauns. All month long Akkadian and Sumerian references will be on sale, see here for a complete listing.

    Grammatical Variation in Neo-Assyrian

    We are also running ten-day sales, right now it is Greek and Syriac references, see here for a complete listing.

    Compendious Syriac Grammar
    A Compendious Syriac Dictionary

    Tuesday, August 08, 2006

    Interesting book

    I was looking through the latest University of Nevada Press catalog and found an interesting book:
    Psychotherapy as Religion: The Civil Divine in America.

    Here is an excerpt from the description:

    "In Psychotherapy as Religion, William Epstein sets out to debunk claims that psychotherapy provides successful clinical treatment for a wide range of personal and social problems. He argues that the practice is not a science at all but rather the civil religion of America, reflecting the principles of radical self-invention and self-reliance deeply embedded in the psyche of the nation...

    "Epstein exposes psychotherapy’s deep roots in the religious and intellectual movements of the early nineteenth century by demonstrating striking parallels between various types of therapy and such popular practices as Christian Science and spiritualism. Psychotherapy has taken root in our culture because it so effectively reflects our national faith in individual responsibility for social and personal problems..."

    <idle musing>
    This book truly looks fascinating! It reflects my basic thesis that everyone is a theist at some level and that the theos that most people (even christians) choose is themselves. A throwback to Genesis 3, "You shall be gods." Same lie, same bait, same success :(

    Bohoeffer is still right, "When Jesus calls a person he bids them come and die." And we continue to listen to the serpent's lie that we can be gods!
    </idle musing>

    Vacation is over

    We got back late/early Sunday night/Monday morning. It was a wonderful 2 weeks. We spent a week with Joel, Renee and Joshua in Grand Marais and then went back to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area to spend a week with Ryan (our 22 year old son).

    Here is a summary of week one (week two later...):
    Ryan and I spent three days backpacking on the Superior Hiking Trail, covering about 35 miles from Lutsen Ski Area to Grand Marais. It was beautiful rugged country, but dry. I haven't seen it that dry there since I was a kid. It did rain the first night, a nice solid rain that made everything wet for packing up the next morning. We camped on a river (more like a creek), so the mosquitoes weren't too bad. The second day turned out to be longer than we had planned, since the campsite we had chosen was full. 16 miles of up and down on granite can make a long day; but the views were beautiful and the weather hot. We ended up camping on a beaver pond with a full complement of mosquitoes but no bullfrogs. I was looking forward to an evening concert from them, but there weren't any.

    The third day was more level terrain, running through some boggy areas where we saw plenty of Moose tracks but no Moose. We walked on top of a 183 foot beaver dam, longest one I have ever crossed. Eventually we came out on an overlook above Grand Marais. It was a beautiful view of the town and lake. Descending that, we came to the Gunflint Trail and walked a mile along it to Joel & Renee's, 3 days and 35 miles behind us and a most welcome shower in front of us :)

    If you like rugged trails, I would highly recommend the Superior Hiking Trail. You can break it down into day hike portions if you wish. I have walked portions of the Appalachian Trail and backpacked quite a bit in the Rockies (north and south). It compares very favorably to those. In fact, I preferred it over the Appalachians, but I like granite better than sandstone.

    Saturday all of us (Joel, Renee, Joshua, Debbie, Ryan and I) took a day hike on the Superior Hiking Trail from the Devil Track River to Pincushion Mountain (5 miles of relatively easy trail). I carried Joshua (our 16 month old grandchild) in the backcarrier and fed him raspberries. He was cute; I would pick the raspberries (and thimbleberries) and hand them to him to eat. If I wasn't fast enough for him, he would tap my shoulder to remind me to give him more. We could have picked buckets of them, but didn't bring any buckets, just our stomachs.

    Sunday we spent renewing acquaintances at the Baptist church in Grand Marais and getting to know the people in Joel & Renee's evening fellowship group. It was a wonderful day of blessed fellowship in the Lord.

    Week two will come I have to continue to unbury my inbox :)