Friday, September 29, 2006

Blogger beta

<idle musing>
I just can't resist beta software; I have to give it a whirl. So, this morning I made the change to Blogger Beta. I like the tags, that is something that Wordpress definitely does right. I don't like that I can't edit the template as directly, but have to input it. I also don't like that now I am logged in with a Google account. Now they have even more data on my searchs and stuff, but it is a tradeoff...

I still haven't figured out the supposed comment section improvements. If anybody has, please let me know—in the comment section :)
</idle musing>

New Testament versus now

There is an interesting comparison between the modern church and the New Testament Church on the Milpitas Bible Fellowship site. I would reproduce part of it here, but I can't get Blogger to do the tables correctly, so you will have to go there to see it. I disagree with their take on tithing, but otherwise I would pretty much agree with them. Hat tip to ekklesia.

New 10 day sale at Eisenbrauns

Eisenbrauns is offering a new 10-day sale. This time we are offering a selection of AOAT titles for 20% off. See the whole list here. But, here are a few of the titles:

"Kult, Konflikt und Versoehnung: Beitrage zur kultischen Suhne
in religiosen, sozialen und politischen Auseinandersetzungen
des antiken Mittelmeerraumes"
by Rainer Albertz
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 285
Ugarit-Verlag, Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3934628087
List Price: $69.00 Your Price: $55.20

"Sima milka: Induktion und Reception der mittelbabylonischen
Dichtung von Ugarit, Emar und Tell el-Amarna"
by Thomas R. Kammerer
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 251
Ugarit-Verlag, Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3927120472
List Price: $62.50 Your Price: $50.00

"Untersuchungen zu den lokalen Panthea Sud-und
Mittelbabyloniens in altbabylonischer Zeit"
by Thomas Richter
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 257
Ugarit-Verlag, Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3927120642
List Price: $88.00 Your Price: $70.40

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Let's read Greek and Hebrew!

For all who are interested—and live within commuting distance of Eisenbrauns—every Thursday morning at 7:00 some of us are getting together to read a little Greek or Hebrew (alternating weeks). No preparation allowed! Sight reading, interacting with the text and making absolute fools of ourselves :)

We've been doing it for 3 weeks now and having a blast. Only requirement is you have to be able to stumble through the language of the week. Next week is Hebrew. Come one, come all and join us as we stumble our way through Ruth!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

New employee

<idle musing>
We began employing a high school student from the local co-op program named Jessica. She is very good and we have enjoyed having her assistance. She helps out around the office and in the warehouse.

Well, the other day I was in the warehouse, looking at the boxes of books that had arrived that day—a normal occurrence. I saw a box from a European publisher and got all excited because it was a book I had been waiting to see for a while. She looked at me a bit strangely, but didn’t say anything. The next day, I was doing my normal routine and saw a few boxes from different publishers that contained new releases. I started exclaiming about how neat it was that these books had finally been released. This time she looked at me and said, “You’re funny. Why do you get so excited about books?”

How do you answer that??? Well, Cindy, our main warehouse worker, came to my rescue. She said, “Well, he spent a good part of his life studying this stuff, so he gets excited when he sees a new book come in.” Jessica asked me how long I had been in school. Now, how do you answer that one? I told her I was in school longer than she had been alive. She looked at me even stranger. I could just see her thinking I must be some kind of alien. She’s a senior in high school, looking forward to finishing and here is this guy telling her that he spent 13 years in college, after finishing 12 years in public school...he’s got to be a nutcase, 25 years in school.

So, yesterday I was in the warehouse and got all excited again about some books—isn’t that a normal reaction? Anyway, she just shook her head and kept on working…
</idle musing>

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Chainsaw art

As I was walking to work yesterday, I saw that a dead tree had become a 10 foot tall violin. Pretty amazing stuff, but our webmaster, Andy, was way ahead of me. He just started blogging and has two posts on it. One, showing it before any work was done on it is here. The other one, showing it in progress and the final product is here. Maybe I'll take some pictures later today, too.

Quote of the day

"To many a Christian, Jesus is still but a dead Christ or at least a historic Christ, but not a living and present reality. The meaning of Easter is that Jesus is alive and is the Living Head of Christianity and the personal and intimate Friend of every true disciple, to whom He becomes revealed as his indwelling life and the source of all his strength and victory."—A.B. Simpson

Monday, September 25, 2006

Lukan tidbit

<idle musing>
I was reading in Luke yesterday, when a phrase in 24.3 jumped out at me, “They did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.” I thought to myself, “That seems to be the first time I have seen Lord Jesus together in Luke.” So, I pulled out my handy Moulton & Geden, and, sure enough, that is the first and only time that word combination occurs in the gospel of Luke. Now, lest you think that it isn’t a Lukan phrase, I checked Acts, and it occurs 17 times in Acts. So, for Luke, anyway, the phrase Lord Jesus is a phrase that refers to the resurrected Jesus.

Then, using the only electronic Bible software I have, I pulled up the RSV to do a cut and paste. Guess what? The RSV & NRSV both omit the entire phrase “Lord Jesus.” So, out comes my NA 28 large print to check the apparatus. Hmmm…the only manuscripts that omit it are it and D. In other words, the western text as evidenced in Bezae and the Old Latin. So, out comes Metzger’s Textual Commentary. Ah, yes a “western non-interpolation.” That explains why they dropped it. I have always liked the RSV, but in this case I think they are wrong, but that is another subject for another day.

But, this whole process just illustrates how easily I get sidetracked. Here I was getting blessed by an observation about Luke's portrayal of Jesus and the next thing you know, I'm knee deep in reference works and missing the whole point. So, what is the point? That I have all these wonderful tools — or that Luke seems to be saying that Jesus confirms his Lordship by the resurrection? Duh...
</idle musing>

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Idle musings on money (long)

I was thinking about the prosperity thing some more yesterday as I was riding. John Wesley wrote a few sermons on finances. Here are some excerpts.

From On the Danger of Increasing Riches (Sermon 126) This was preached near the end of his life.

Section II.

1. But O! Who can convince a rich man that he sets his heart upon riches? For considerably above half a century I have spoken on this head, with all the plainness that was in my power. But with how little effect! I doubt whether I have, in all that time, convinced fifty misers of covetousness. When the lover of money was described ever so clearly, and painted in the strongest colours, who applied it to himself? To whom did God, and all that knew him, say, "Thou art the man!" If he speaks to any of you that are present, O do not stop your ears! Rather say, with Zaccheus, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have done any wrong to any man, I restore fourfold." He did not mean that he had done this in time past; but that he determined to do so for the time to come. I charge thee before God, thou lover of money, to "go and do likewise!"

2. I have a message from God unto thee, O rich man! whether thou wilt hear, or whether thou wilt forbear. Riches have increased with thee; at the peril of thy soul, "set not thine heart upon them!" Be thankful to Him that gave thee such a talent, so much power of doing good. Yet dare not to rejoice over them, but with fear and trembling. Cave ne inhaereas, says pious Kempis, ne capiaris et pereas: "Beware thou cleave not unto them, lest thou be entangled and perish." Do not make them thy end, thy chief delight, thy happiness, thy God! See that thou expect not happiness in money, nor anything that is purchasable thereby; in gratifying either the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, or the pride of life.

3. But let us descend to particulars; and see that each of you deal faithfully with his own soul. If any of you have now twice, thrice, or four times as much substance as when you first saw my face, faithfully examine yourselves, and see if you do not set your hearts, if not directly on money or riches themselves, yet on some of the things that are purchasable thereby; which comes to the same thing. All those the Apostle John includes under that general name, the world; and the desire of them, or to seek happiness in them, under that form, "the love of the world." This he divides into three branches, "the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life." Fairly examine yourselves with regard to these. And, First, as to "the desire of the flesh." I believe this means the seeking of happiness in the things that gratify the senses. To instance in one: Do not you seek your happiness in enlarging the pleasure of tasting. To be more particular: Do you not eat more plentifully, or more delicately, than you did ten or twenty years ago? Do not you use more drink, or drink of a more costly kind, than you did then? Do you sleep on as hard a bed as you did once, suppose your health will bear it? To touch on one point more: do you fast as often, now you are rich, as you did when you was poor? Ought you not, in all reason, to do this rather more often than more seldom? I am afraid your own heart condemns you. You are not clear in this matter.

From The Danger of Riches (Sermon 87)

"They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful desires, which drown men in destruction and perdition." —1 Timothy 6:9

1. How innumerable are the ill consequences which have followed from men's not knowing, or not considering, this great truth! And how few are there even in the Christian world, that either know or duly consider it! Yea, how small is the number of those, even among real Christians, who understand and lay it to heart! Most of these too pass it very lightly over, scarce remembering there is such a text in the Bible. And many put such a construction upon it, as makes it of no manner of effect. "They that will be rich," say they, "that is, will be rich at all events, who Will be rich right or wrong; that are resolved to carry their point, to compass this end, whatever means they use to attain it; they 'fall into temptation," and into all the evils enumerated by the Apostle." But truly if this were all the meaning of the text, it might as well have been out of the Bible.

2. This is so far from being the whole meaning of the text, that it is no part of its meaning. The Apostle does not here speak of gaining riches unjustly, but of quite another thing: His words are to be taken in their plain obvious sense, without any restriction or qualification whatsoever. St. Paul does not say, "They that will be rich by evil means, by theft, robbery, oppression, or extortion; they that will be rich by fraud or dishonest art; but simply, "they that will be rich:" These, allowing, supposing the means they use to be ever so innocent, "fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful desires, which drown men in destruction and perdition."

3. But who believes that? Who receives it as the truth of God? Who is deeply convinced of it? Who preaches this? Great is the company of preachers at this day, regular and irregular; but who of them all openly and explicitly, preaches this strange doctrine? It is the keen observation of a great man, "The pulpit is a fearful preacher's strong-hold." But who even in his strong-hold, has the courage to declare so unfashionable a truth? I do not remember that in threescore years I have heard one sermon preached upon this subject. And what author, within the same term, has declared it from the press? At least, in the English tongue? I do not know one. I have neither seen nor heard of any such author...

To explain the words of the Apostle.

1. And, First, let us consider, what it is to be rich. What does the Apostle mean by this expression?

The preceding verse fixes the meaning of that: "Having food and raiment," (literally coverings; for the word includes lodging as well as clothes) "let us be therewith content." "But they that will be rich;" that is, who will have more than these; more than food and coverings. It plainly follows, whatever is more than these is, in the sense of the Apostle, riches; whatever is above the plain necessaries, or at most conveniences, of life. Whoever has sufficient food to eat, and raiment to put on, with a place where to lay his head, and something over, is rich.

2. Let us consider, Secondly, What is implied in that expression, "They that will be rich?" And does not this imply, First, they that desire to be rich, to have more than food and coverings; they that seriously and deliberately desire more than food to eat, and raiment to put on, and a place where to lay their head, more than the plain necessaries and conveniences of life? All, at least, who allow themselves in this desire, who see no harm in it, desire to be rich.

3. And so do, Secondly, all those that calmly, deliberately, and of set purpose endeavour after more than food and coverings; that aim at and endeavour after, not only so much worldly substance as will procure them the necessaries and conveniences of life, but more than this, whether to lay it up, or lay it out in superfluities. All these undeniably prove their "desire to be rich" by their endeavours after it.

4. Must we not, Thirdly, rank among those that desire to be rich, all that, in fact "lay up treasures on earth?" a thing as expressly and clearly forbidden by our Lord as either adultery or murder...

It gets better, read the whole thing, you owe it to yourself.

There is a story (true) told of Wesley. During the American Revolutionary War, the British government was taking an inventory of the silver owned by wealthy British citizens. They came to Mr. Wesley and asked him how much silver he had. His answer should shame all prosperity preachers: "I have two silver forks, one in London and one in Bristol, and I shall own no more as long as there is a hungry person in Britain." Is there any wonder that God was able to use him so powerfully among the disenfranchised?

After you have digested those two sermons, here are a few other sermons on money:
On the Sermon on the Mount (IX) (Sermon 29) —on Matthew 6:24-34
The Use of Money (Sermon 50)
The Good Steward (Sermon 51)
On Riches Sermon 108

Friday, September 22, 2006

Original Sin?

This seems to sum up the view we have of ourselves:

Shedding light into why Edward Forbes Smiley III stole 98 of the world's most precious maps over seven years, papers filed in Connecticut's U.S. District Court said he initially acted because he felt he had been wronged and slighted.

"He explained that his initial thefts were acting out of resentment towards persons at certain institutions that he believed had wronged him, individuals who he believed had slighted him or used certain of his research without accreditation," prosecutors wrote.

"Other thefts he explained resulted from some misguided sense of entitlement to the maps because he had, through collectors, provided better versions of the same map to the institution. He also acknowledged that stealing and selling the maps was profitable and he had mounting debts."

See the full story here.

<idle musing> those standards, I should be entitled to a percentage of all of your libraries. After all, I supply you with catalogs listing the books, BookNews e-mails with great sales, RSS feeds announcing new books and newly available used books. So, I am going to start visiting you unannounced and walking off with what I feel is my fair share of your library. What do you think? After all, I'm entitled to it!

If ever anyone doubts that Genesis 3 accurately describes the human condition...
</idle musing>

What I'm reading

Periodically I read a book by A.W. Tozer. It is good for stimulation. If you are comfortable in your Christianity, don't read Tozer; you won't like him. You should read him, because he will jar you into reality, but you won't like him. I have between 12-18 of his books, all of which I have read, except for the one I am reading right now. Most of his books were published posthumously and are collection from his sermons and editorials.

Whenever I am reading a book, I mark parts I want to share with Debbie with a "sticky note." Some books have 1-3 notes in them, but when I start a Tozer book, you should take out stock in 3M :) The book becomes a porcupine with sticky notes all along the side. More than once Debbie has said, "Why don't you just read the whole book to me?"

So, if you are looking for conviction and stimulation from boring christianity, if you want to walk on the wild side, if you want to have your faith challenged, read Tozer. If not, avoid him like the plague. But, your spiritual life will be the weaker for it.

Quote for the day

"Remember this: the human heart by nature is filled with unbelief. Unbelief, not disobedience, was the first sin. While disobedience was the first recorded sin, behind the act of disobedience was the sin of unbelief, else the act of disobedience would not have taken place." — A.W. Tozer

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Two new Eisenbrauns books published

Eisenbrauns has just published two new books:

From the Rivers of Babylon to the Highlands of Judah

From the Rivers of Babylon to the Highlands of Judah
Collected Studies on the Restoration Period
EIS - Eisenbrauns
by Sara Japhet
x + 469 pp.,English
Cloth,6 x 9 inches
ISBN: 1575061214
List Price: $49.50
Your Price: $44.55


Deuteronomic Theology and the Significance of Torah

Deuteronomic Theology and the Significance of Torah
A Reappraisal
EIS - Eisenbrauns
by Peter T. Vogt
xii + 242,English
ISBN: 1575061074
List Price: $37.50
Your Price: $33.75

Andy, the person who designed the covers on these, has this to say about cover design in general, and these books in particular:

Cover design for Eisenbrauns titles is a bit of a challenge. Unlike other academic publishers who just print an unrelated design or simply stamp the title into the cloth, we try to give each book a cover that reflects the contents, a cover that makes you want to pick up the book and find out more—which sounds easy until you consider just how very esoteric many of these books are.

You have to get very creative. Archaelology books seem like the easiest ones at first blush, but there's only so many times you can put a krater on a cover. It's tempting to use Hebrew text as a mere background on language titles. The easy covers have already been done, for the most part—the longer you keep at this, the more creative you have to get. You have to make abstract ideas concrete, concrete ideas abstract, and most of the time, you have to do it using only two inks!

When I'm talking with the authors and editors, I'm constantly looking for visual language: hooks that I can hang a picture on. The recent Japhet book was easy; the very title had the image built in. The colors readily leaped to mind. The Vogt cover was a bit more difficult; I had to talk with the editor for quite a while on that one. The resulting image is actually a bit more Exodus than Deuteronomy; it's the people of Israel surrounding the pillar of fire at night. I imagined how that must have looked from the sky, a great pillar, with the shadows of the surrounding peoples gathered, streaking away into the darkness of the desert. That's the basis for this cover.

What happened to Joe Cathey?

Yesterday afternoon, I got a weird message in my RSS reader. Under Joe's blog, there was a strange title. When I clicked on it to go to his blog, it came up empty. I figured blogger was down, but just to be sure, I checked another site. It came up. "Strange," I thought. So, before I went home last night I sent Joe an e-mail telling him that his site was gone, thinking that blogger had perhaps lost his stuff (it happens).

This morning, his site was still missing. I started wondering if maybe he had been abducted by Copenhageners, or maybe aliens, or maybe his presidential run was serious—ok none of those are true, but I did wonder what was happening. Of course, I hadn't waded through my Inbox yet, so I didn't see his response right away.

Seems Joe is trying to do a bit too much right now, he is:
Working on an MLS
Working on an MA in Levantine Archaeology
Finishing up two articles
Writing a book
Expanding the Archive and Special Collections at their library
Being a dad with a new baby
Trying to run a blog

Something had to go, and it wasn't going to be the baby! So, down goes the blog.

Farewell, Joe. I will miss interacting with you, even/especially when we don't agree.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Quote for the day

"Why should believing Christians want everything pre-cooked, pre-digested, sliced and salted and expect that God must come and hold the food to their baby lips while they pound the table and splash? And we think that is Christianity! It is not. Such a degenerate, illegitimate breed have no right to be called Christians."—A.W. Tozer

Eisenbrauns weekly sale

For the next 10 days, Eisenbrauns will be offering all published volumes of the Abingdon Old and New Testament Commentary series at 40% off retail price.

To see the complete list, go to the web page, but here is a partial list:

by Walter Brueggemann
Abingdon Old Testament Commentary - AOTC
Abingdon, Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0687084717
List Price: $34.00 Your Price: $20.40

"I and II Chronicles"
by Steven L. McKenzie
Abingdon Old Testament Commentary - AOTC
Abingdon, Paper. English.
ISBN: 068700750X
List Price: $36.00 Your Price: $21.60

by Donald W. Senior
Abingdon New Testament Commentary - ANTC
Abingdon, Paper. English.
ISBN: 0687057663
List Price: $25.00 Your Price: $15.00

"1 Corinthians"
by Richard A. Horsley
Abingdon New Testament Commentary - ANTC
Abingdon, Paper. English.
ISBN: 0687058384
List Price: $21.00 Your Price: $12.60

The big "I"

Thanks to Dr. Conrad on the B-Greek list for this. From the blog laudator temporis acti

Robert Frost, Iota Subscript:

Seek not in me the big I capital,
Not yet the little dotted in me seek.
If I have in me any I at all,
'Tis the iota subscript of the Greek.

So small am I as an attention beggar.
The letter you will find me subscript to
Is neither alpha, eta, nor omega,
But upsilon which is the Greek for you.

Iota subscript does not appear beneath upsilon (υ) in Greek, only beneath alpha (ᾳ), eta (ῃ), and omega (ῳ).

<idle musing>
How appropriate.
</idle musing>

Monday, September 18, 2006

Prosperity central

I am not trying to become the central repository for things prosperity, but here is a quick run down of what I’ve seen:

Jim West referred to this, which referred to this site

Scott McKnight mentions the original Time article

Ben Witherington lists 20 reasons why it is wrong in his post.

Ted Gossard references Witherington’s post, but also has his own thoughts, referring to Bonhoeffer.

And then there is this

Of course, I can’t keep my mouth shut and in a post that should have been two, put in my two cents. And, as if that weren’t enough, I also have this.

Please feel free to add any other references you may find. I’m happy that universally it has been blasted.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Quote for the day

"We have wondered why our Christian lives seem to be ceaseless, toilsome effort. The answer is, we have not clearly understood that the life of earth can never grow into the spiritual and that the 'flesh' can never be improved or changed, but must be crucified.
"We have obtained the forgiveness of our sins as we have believed God's Word that 'One died for all,' and we shall obtain deliverance from the life after the flesh just so far as we see that the sinner himself was crucified with the Savior, for 'all died in Him." —Jessie Penn-Lewis (italics hers)

Centrality of the cross

Our text for today:

"Who would want to get in on something where you're miserable, poor, broke and ugly and you just have to muddle through until you get to heaven?...I believe God wants to give us nice things." —Joyce Meyer

<idle musing>
John Fischer wrote a book in the early 1990’s and revised it in 2001 or so entitled On a Hill too Far Away. In it he notes that the cross is rarely mentioned in Evangelical churches anymore. It is too bloody, a stumbling block to belief, so we dispose of it. After all, we want to be relevant and fill the building.

Michael Card noted in his book of meditations on the cross that people tell him he dwells too much on the cross. It is a stumbling block to people, he should sing about happy things. After all, he wants people to listen to him, doesn’t he?

I rarely hear about the cross in any popular songs, it doesn’t sell well. It is even more rarely mentioned by the prosperity people. Why? It is a stumbling block, it doesn’t attract the crowds. We want to pack heaven, don’t we? After all, our job is to get as many people into heaven as possible, isn’t it? And if we manage to put a few pieces of silver in our own pocket along the way, well that’s the American way, right?

Well, I submit to you that it is God’s job to get people into heaven, not ours. It is God’s business whether something sells or not. It is God’s business whether we are popular or not. We are called to one thing—obedience. If the message of the cross isn’t popular, why should we be surprised? Paul already knew that: “but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” I Corinthians 1:23-24 RSV.

As I read through the New Testament, I note that the cross is central to everything Christ did. Once he was resurrected and taken up into heaven, he sent the Holy Spirit. Did that change anything? No, the apostles still preach the cross (and get a whipping for it!). The cross retains its centrality throughout the book of Acts, the epistles and on into Revelation, where it is the “lamb who was slain” that is the center of worship.

We are to look “to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 RSV) It will never be a popular theme, it will always be a stumbling block, but to us it is “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

Bonhoeffer summed it up well, “When Jesus calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Any other gospel isn’t a gospel at all, but a candy coated pill that contains a deadly poison, killing the soul to the things of God. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever.” I John 2:15-17 RSV
</idle musing>

Friday, September 15, 2006

Love one another

<idle musing>
As I read claims and counter claims across the blogosphere and I look at Time magazine's cover article, I am reminded of a few things. One that keeps coming to mind is an old (OK, not too old, about 1976) song by John Michael Talbot from his first album (yes, an album, you know, 12" vinyl disks...)

Sometimes, in the cool of the evenin'
Truth comes like a Lover in the wind
Sometimes, when my thoughts have gone misleadin'
She asks that same old question once again...

Would you crucify Him
Would you crucify Him..., my religious friend?
Would you crucify Him..., talking 'bout the sweet Lord Jesus
If He'd walk right here among you once again?

She's askin', How many times have you looked down to the harlot
Lookin' through her tears, pretendin' you don't know?
For once you were just like her, how can you be now so self righteous
When in the name of the Lord you throw the first stone

So now I turn to you through your years of your robes and stained-glass windows
Do you vainly echo your prayers "to please the Lord?"
Profess the Marriage with your tongue, while your mind dreams like the harlot
But if the Judge looks to your thoughts can't you guess your reward?

Yet how many times have you quoted from your Bible
To justify your eye for your eye and your tooth for your tooth?
You say that He didn't mean what He was plainly sayin'
But like the Pharisee, my friend, you're an educated fool!

The second thing that comes to mind is Jesus statement in the upper room, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35 RSV. I notice it doesn't say by our correct moral standards, important though they are. It also doesn't say by your church attendance/involvement. It doesn't say by your correct stand on political issues or Israel or by your self-righteous anathemata. It says by your love.

Now, either I don't understand what love is, or some other people don't. But, sending people willy-nilly to hell because you don't like their stand or lifestyle doesn't strike me as love. Good thing the John 8 pericope about the adulterous woman is textually doubtful, eh? Convenient to be able to cast the first stone, provided you cast the pericope out first.

A very relevant verse for Christians to take to heart is one that was addressed to Jews by Paul, but today should cause every Christian to think twice about how they act and what they say:
“The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” Romans 2:24 RSV

This week's Time magazine with its cover article on "God wants you rich" should make all Christians fall on their knees before God in repentance. To think that God wants us to become so comfortable in this transient world and ignore the poverty of others is unjustifiable in the scriptures. It takes the very things Christ stands for and turns them on their head. Christ preached death to self, we preach life to self and death to Christ! Christ preached deny yourself, love your neighbor, we preach love yourself and deny your neighbor! And we call ourselves Christians? By that definition, the devil himself is the best christian around! Nobody loves themself better that he does.
</idle musing>

Quote for the day

If the great Luther, with his stirring message of justification by faith, had with Paul moved on from Romans 5 to Romans 6 with its amazing declarations concerning the now justified sinner’s position of identification with the crucified Lord, would not a stifled Protestantism be on higher ground today? Might it not be free from its ulcerous fleshliness? — F.J.Huegel

Thursday, September 14, 2006

New alphabet wall chart

I just couldn't resist this one; I had to put it on my office wall. It just arrived yesterday from Carta: Alphabets Ancient and Modern by Ada Yardeni.

The screen shot on our website doesn't do it justice, the "Beyond the cover" is a little better:

But, it still doesn't give you a good idea. The columns across the top are Proto-Canaanite, South Semitic, Aramaic (?)—Tel Fakhariya, Greek, Latin, Phoenician, Hebrew, Samaritan, Aramaic, "Jewish," Nabatean, Classical Arabic, and Syriac. As you can guess, some of these have 2-3 columns under the heading with different time frames. Around the outside, forming a border is an assortment of graphics of the various inscriptions such as the Mesha Stele, Gezer Calendar, a Lachish letter, the Siloam inscription, etc.

If you get a chance, drop by Eisenbrauns' booth at AAR/SBL or ASOR and take a look at it. Or, better yet, buy one now for your office wall and impress your students, parishioners, kids, whatever :)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Theology versus Praxis?

Joe came back from the birth of his son with both barrels blasting. His latest post on Does Theology Make A Difference? is direct and to the point:

I feel that in our profession that we can become enamored with learning about God but fail to meet him in the way. I remember once studying for a private pilot’s license – memorizing many charts, facts, and numbers. Yet when it came time to actually fly the plane I was quite unprepared. Can it be that we have become as Festus said of Paul, “While he was thus defending himself Festus burst out, "You are raving, Paul! All your learning has driven you mad!” (Acts 26:24)?

It could be that we don’t hear about theological praxis because it does not attract visitors to our blogs. Maybe we don’t want to share what we are doing simply because we would seem to be bragging. Yet I somehow do not think that is the case. I know from past experiences that words have been exchanged on numerous blogs which we would have been recalcitrant to exchange on the Lord’s Day – in the presence of our Brethren. Can the same tongue curse men and love God? I think not.

Is it any wonder that people want to be elsewhere on church days if all of our theological learning cannot evoke empathy for our fellow man/woman even within the blogsphere? I was told by my systematic theology professor, Millard Erickson, that Barth took almost every Saturday to minister somehow to those in less fortunate circumstances than himself. Could that be true? Could it be true that his theology drove him to minister to the “least of these my brothers and sisters?”

<idle musing>

There is a grave disconnect in many ways. The problem, as I see it, is that we have disconnected two vital aspects of Christianity: the experiential and the intellectual/theological. So, we end up with either a "spiritual experience" with no sound foundations or a dry intellectual assent with no power to transform lives. The first results in cults, do-it-yourself spirituality or emotionalism. Experience for the sake of experience. No change in lives, no holiness, just experience for the sake of a thrill.

The second results in doubt that there really is a loving, just and personal (as in personality versus inanimate power) God. We then justify our lack of power by theologizing and cessationizing (is that a word?) scripture. After all, if we don't experience it, it must be gone or never was, right? Don't see people healed? Must be because it doesn't happen anymore, or never did. We are the measure by which we judge everything—and the serpent slithers up beside us and whispers, "You are gods." And we joyfully believe it. Paul says in I Corinthians that when he comes he will see the power of those who are big talkers, not what they can say.

I had a theology professor who used to say that his goal was to make every pastor a theologian and every theologian a soul winner. Noble goal, but only possible if there is an experiential connection with the theological reflection. That is one reason I like the Wesleyan tradition, the Wesleys were both strong on experiencing God, but they built a strong intellectual and theological framework within which they placed that experience.

<idle musing>

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Dr. Seuss Learns Greek

You've got to read this. Tyler Williams posted earlier on Abbot and Costello learning Hebrew, but this is much better; maybe because I hadn't heard it before:

"Do you like to study Greek?

I do not like to study Greek
Whoever does becomes a geek.

Will you study here? or there?

I will not study here or there
I will not study anywhere.

Would you study in your room?

Not in my room
Not in a tomb
Not here or there
Not anywhere
I do not want to study Greek
I do not want to be a geek.

Would you study at a table?
Would you, would you, if you’re able?...

It goes it at Tyler's blog.

Christianity Today's Augustine article online

CT has posted the article on Augustine and 9/11 here. I mentioned the article here. Well worth the read. Thanks to Rick Mansfield for the tip.

Monday, September 11, 2006

New baby

Be sure to wander over to Joe Cathey's site and see that new baby!

Being a grandfather, I'm a sucker for babies. Of course, I can give them back when I'm done spoiling them :)

May your quiver be full, Joe!


Ran across this over the weekend at Better Bible Blog about the TNIV controversy:

On some blogs there is extensive discussion about post-modernism, and whether the shift from modernism to post-modernism has any positive aspects for the Christian faith. But the issue we are dealing with here seems rather to be whether to accept the shift from pre-modernism to modernism. Modernism is based on believing what one sees, and what logically follows from that, rather than the pre-modernist or mediaeval approach of accepting what one is told by traditional authorities.

This shift from pre-modernist to modernist thinking started with the Renaissance, which rejected the mediaeval reliance on ancient authorities like Plato and Aristotle, and on contemporary ones like the church of Rome. And this modernist thinking was continued by the great Reformers, who rejected the authority of the church in favour of their own interpretations of the Bible. The same pattern of thinking was followed by the early scientists, who observed and experimented rather than relying on classical writers. Later, during the Enlightenment, the authority of the Bible was also rejected by many, and deism and atheism became common. So I am by no means claiming that modernism is necessarily more Christian than pre-modernism, or than post-modernism. But modernism was certainly the approach of the Reformers.

Yet it seems rather ironic that in the United States of America, a nation which was founded on the modernist rejection of traditional authorities and on the principles of the Enlightenment, there should currently be such a strong revival of pre-modernist, even mediaeval, ways of thinking. I see this in certain strands of theology, especially those which treat as authorities certain Reformers, or for that matter the King James Version. This reliance on authorities from centuries in the past is an essentially mediaeval world view. The irony is that if these people truly accepted the authority of the Reformers, they would also accept their world view which would cause them no longer to accept them as authorities!

<idle musing>
Interesting insight. I hadn't thought of it that way before, but it makes a lot of sense. It helps me understand where some people are coming from. I suspect the reason they rely on authority is because otherwise the world seems too scary. Personally, I prefer to rely on God, he seems to have a better track record than any of the other authorities out there :)
</idle musing>


Yesterday afternoon Debbie and I went for a bike ride. Nothing unusual in that, we try to ride at least one day together on the weekend. What was unusual was that a skunk walked out right in front of Debbie. It was no more than 10 feet in front of her, just moseying out onto the road. She swerved out into the lane to go around it, as did I. The skunk panicked and increased its speed. Debbie was past it, but I ended up going into the oncoming traffic lane to avoid the crazy thing. It turned around in the middle of the road and ran back into the ditch.

I have never come that close to hitting a skunk, or any animal for that matter, on my bicycle. No wonder there are so many dead skunks along the road. You would think they would learn. As Debbie said, "Don't they read the Skunk Daily News and the obituaries in it?"

<idle musing>
Sort of like us, isn't it? We see the things people do and how they shipwreck, but we still think we can do the same thing and not get burned—after all, we're different. We won't get stuck or caught or addicted or whatever. Right! Sorry to disappoint you, but chances are pretty good that we will reap what we sow, only multiplied. We sow the wind, we reap the whirlwind as a wise person wrote in the scriptures.
</idle musing>

Friday, September 08, 2006

More RSS delights

Well, it took longer than we thought. About a week longer, in fact. But, in our defense, the website was down for two of those days because of a router problem that Sprint had to fix.

So, here is the straight scoop. We have 3 new feeds:

  • Just announced: Books that have just been announced and are available for ordering.
  • To subscribe to that feed enter this into your reader:

  • Just arrived: Books that have just been received at Eisenbrauns and are in stock.
  • This information will be added to the New and Noteworthy feed, so if you already subscribe to that one, you will get it automatically. Here's the info, just in case you need it:

  • Newly arrived used books: These are used books that we have just entered into the system.
  • Subscribe to this feed and you can be the first to jump on that hard to find book :) If you already subscribed to the Used Book feed, which showed updates to the featured used books, then you will be getting the information. Here's the link to enter:

    None of the information in these 3 new feeds is included in the Ancient News feed, so to get all the information we publish, you will need to subscribe to 4 different feeds. In light of that, we have changed the RSS data at the top of each page at Eisenbrauns to show all four feeds.

    Just so you know, the fourth feed, Ancient News, is available here:

    The reading public?

    I read a scary statistic yesterday that doesn't bode well for booksellers—over half of Americans read less than one book per year. Can you imagine that?

    So, the next time you finish a book, remember that you are a statistic breaker—unless it took you over a year to do it :)

    I don't even know how many books I read in a year, but it is a lot more than one! I suspect it is in the neighborhood of 25-50. If I still read fiction, it would be a lot higher.

    Thursday, September 07, 2006

    Quote for the day

    “When Christians fail to abide in Christ, they assert their own independence. Sin came into the world when Adam and Eve chose to assert their independence from God by their disobedience. Christians who are not abiding in Him are walking in a state of continuous sin, regardless of their actions. This attitude of independence will eventually give birth to specific sins, which are the fruit of abiding in self. For that reason, it should come as no surprise that Christians sin when they don’t abide in Christ. What else could possibly happen?”—Steve McVey in Grace Walk, page 100-101.

    Wednesday, September 06, 2006

    Quote for the day

    "Thus those who gaze at a computer screen by day and a television by night may well feel awkwardly obsolete in church if there is not another screen on which to gaze. The demands of efficiency, and the rational, impersonal workings of bureaucracy, are so much a part of who we have become that many of us also want our churches to have the feel of a smoothly run corporation. Our capitalism has been so virile and abundant, filling our lives with goods in quantities unknown in any previous age, that it seems only natural—at least in middle class, white churches—to expect the same range of choice in programs and services as we experience in the commercial world. The norms of the workplace so easily and so unknowingly become our own internalized norms."
    Above All Earthly Pow'rs: Christ in a Postmodern World
    by David Wells, pages 22-23

    Yes, we're alive again!

    The website finally decided to come back. Well, actually, Sprint/Embarq finally got the line fixed. We are open for business on the web again.

    Eisenbrauns website update

    Well, no website this morning. But, the good news (I hope) is that a Sprint/Embarq technician is now on site messing around with stuff. Either he'll fix it, or it will be broken so thoroughly that they will have to send more people out to fix it :)

    I didn't realize how much I depend on accessing our site until now when I can't...

    Tuesday, September 05, 2006

    Eisenbrauns website

    OK, computer problems move from my laptop to our website. That is not a good thing...

    It appears that sometime yesterday around 7:00 PM our connection with the Internet went down. Embarq/Sprint is looking into it, but we have no estimated time of recovery. This is not a good thing! If you have orders that just can't wait (I hope you do!) then e-mail them to us. We have separate connections for e-mail and the web site—theoretically that makes our web site more stable. Didn't work this time, did it?

    But, we are still alive and shipping product; in fact Jim just sent another book to press today. I'd tell you what it is, but I can't get the web link because the site is down :(


    I would love a nice pair of sunglasses with interchangeable lens. They are great for bicycling; but, I lose sunglasses at the rate of about 1-2 pair per year. I thought I was getting better—I hadn't lost a pair all summer. That's got to be a record. I thought maybe I could justify spending the big dollars for a good pair (not Oakley's, they are ridiculous!). Until Friday, when I lost another pair. They were there in my pack when I went to breakfast, but when I needed them at lunch, they were gone.

    So, off to Wal-mart (the anti-Christ—just kidding) for a cheap pair of $8.00 sunglasses and back to pipedreams about a good pair :(


    Ted Gossard over at the Jesus Community has a good observation today:

    What about those Christian bloggers who blast those who don't see eye to eye with them on theology or on the culture war, or various other issues? I think we need to let them know that our blog or conversation will not allow for that kind of exchange. Hard words of disagreeing are okay, if done in a way that is respectful. Out of that can come an exchange that could result in change, or better understanding. But otherwise, there is nothing left but the smoke from heat, not warmth and vision from light.

    <idle musing>
    Well said. As Christians, we should be showing the world how to lovingly disagree.
    </idle musing>

    Monday, September 04, 2006

    RSS revisited

    I had some people ask how to get the RSS feeds, so here is the link to the master page:

    The direct XML link for the Überfeed is: Just plug that in your RSS reader and you are good to go :)

    What I'm reading

    The book I am reading right now, Jesus and the Father, surprised me. I thought it would be a fast overview of trinitarian theology. It's not. It is an in-depth examination of what scripture, Athanasius, the Cappadocians, Augustine, Calvin, Rahner, Pannenberg, and Barth think about the ordering of the trinity, i.e., is it hierarchical. I certainly didn't expect this kind of book from Zonder–Purpose-driven–van. This is the kind of book that Eerdmans or Baker Academic (or Fortress before KC left) would publish, not Zonder–Purpose-driven–van!

    He takes on the trinitarian views of some Evangelicals, such as fellow Zondervan author Wayne Grudem, who are arguing for the eternal submission of women by arguing that it follows the ordering of the trinity. The Son is eternally subordinated to the Father, the Spirit is eternally subordinated to the Son, therefore the wife/woman is eternally under the husband. The Father commands, the Son obeys, just as in earthly relations. In other words, the incarnated Son is to be read back into the eternal Godhead.

    Giles shows that this was the view of the Arians in the 4th century against which the pro-Nicean bishops and fathers were fighting. Further, it is a view that Calvin was fighting in the Reformation era. A very interesting, and I think, convincing argument. Using Philippians 2 as his starting point, just as Athanasius, the Cappadocians and Augustine did, he goes through the biblical passages that seem to argue for subordination and shows that they relate to the incarnational Son, not the eternal Godhead. From there he brings in the writings of the church fathers and shows how they agree with him.

    This book is slow reading for me, since my trinitarian theology is just a light overview in seminary. Sure I read the Cappadocians, about a paragraphs worth! I was in seminary just as the modern interest in the trinity was beginning, so my reading list was light on it. I'm just a philologist trying to read theology :) But, I find this book moe than repaying the effort of reading it.

    Jesus and the Father

    Jesus and the Father
    Modern Evangelicals Reinvent the Doctrine of the Trinity
    by Kevin Giles
    Zondervan Publishing Company,2006
    320 pages,English
    Paper,6 x 9
    ISBN: 0310266645
    List Price: $24.99
    Your Price: $21.24

    Sunday, September 03, 2006

    Thought for the last week

    The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous,
    and his ears toward their cry.
    The face of the Lord is against evildoers,
    to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
    When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears,
    and delivers them out of all their troubles.
    The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
    and saves the crushed in spirit.
    Many are the afflictions of the righteous;
    but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
    He keeps all his bones;
    not one of them is broken.

    Psalm 34:15-20 RSV

    Friday, September 01, 2006

    Laptop update

    Yes! I have a functioning laptop again. The tech left, I ran diagnostics for an hour or so. No problems, everything is functioning. Life is good :)

    No, life is good whether or not the laptop is alive. Life is good because of Jesus, but an added blessing is a functioning computer.

    Have a wonderful weekend.

    Augustine and terror

    Christianity Today has an interesting article in this month's edition. Well, there seems to be an unusual number of good ones, but the one I was thinking of was this one:

    Theology for an Age of Terror: Augustine's words after the 'barbarian' destruction of Rome have a remarkably contemporary ring by Timothy George.

    He compares City of God with the 9/11 attacks. A very nice analogy, would that the church would have responded as well as Augustine did :(

    If you don't normally read CT, this one might be worth a trip to the library for. There are some other interesting ones.

    Scot McKnight interacts with the article on Calvinism in a post entitled Why I Kissed Calvinism Good-bye. Very good, as usual.

    Crash, crash, crash

    Yes, the computer still goes crash :(

    Turns out that the motherboard they sent me was defective. The technician replaced that (again) and the computer came back up very nicely. But...Dell didn't send a replacement LCD; they said it wasn't damaged enough. In a sense they are right, it was just etching on the screen from the spacebar.

    Well, in the process of replacing the cracked top cover, the LCD was damaged. Now, the bottom 2/3 of the screen is intermittently gray and the thing locks up at random intervals. Of course, you can keep that from happening if you apply direct pressure to the bottom right side of the screen—real practical for typing. I was told I could use it on the docking station without a problem...that's why I have a laptop, right?

    So, I was told that they would send out a new LCD. Of course, they said it was too late for an overnight for Friday. Would I mind it they came out Monday, forgetting that Monday was Labor Day. So, I went home last night expecting not to have a laptop for the long weekend, which is some ways is a blessing :)

    This morning, unexpectedly, I got a phone call from a Dell service technician in South Bend. He said, "I have an LCD here that needs to be installed. I can be there in a little over an hour, would that be OK?" YOu can guess my response.

    So, it looks like I will have a laptop for the weekend after all. Far more important, I will be able to access everything and actually get more work done.