Thursday, July 31, 2008

Just Peacemaking

“My subtheme is that the call for Just Peacemaking practices and Jesus’ teaching of peacemaking practices are not merely about ideals; they are about the real world. Hence, I point out the obvious: the prophets’ warnings and Jesus’ warnings were about real destruction in real history. Today, Israel, which is only the size of New Jersey, is surrounded by Arab nations. If Israel does not offer justice to the Palestinians, it faces the serious threat of its own destruction (perhaps by weapons of mass destruction) and of exile yet again. Some object to this notion on the basis that God has made a covenant with Israel, and God’s covenants are eternal. I hope I have demonstrated above that, if this is true, the prophets were wrong. They knew full well of God’s covenants with Israel and warned repeatedly that, if Israel did not practice justice and if Israel did not stop placing its trust in military weapons instead of God, it would experience the destruction of war and be sent into exile. Their warnings were based precisely on the covenants and the consequences of disobeying the covenants, which demanded justice.

“Unfortunately, Christian Zionist organizations and the religious right are opposed to the prophets’ call for peacemaking by practicing justice.”—Stassen, War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century, page 139

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Peace for Israel

“It is not Christian to block a process that can provide peace for Israel. It is not Christian to teach that Israel will possess the land regardless of whether it offers justice to the poor, the widows, and the orphans of Palestine and engages in the practices that bring peace. It is not Christian to place trust for security in military weapons and expansion of land ( Jer 2:18, 5:17; Isa 31:1). True and effective support for Israel is to join the prophets’ call for repentance, justice, and peacemaking. This is what will provide more security for the people of Israel and Palestine. Jesus calls us to be peacemakers. We must pray earnestly that this hope will come to pass.”—Stassen, War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century, page 139

<idle musing>
This is indeed the problem with Christian Zionism.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Quotation for Tuesday

“People in power must return to just cause and recognize that, however unreasonable the cause may seem, there is often a valid underlying grievance that must be addressed. Besides perceived oppression of their religions, the poverty of the two-thirds world is a cause for much discontent that religious extremists can use to foment sympathy for their causes. Such poverty is a shame and a disgrace to the powerful nations who could surely ameliorate it by an active policy of equipping and helping the countries who are on the outside to become owners of their own futures.”—Durie, War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century, page 122

It's officially summer

Yes, I know that it was a month ago according to the calendar, but my official method is when I can pick a ripe tomato from the garden. And that happened last night. We had been getting cherry tomatoes for about a week, 6-12 a day, but last night was the first full sized tomato. So, summer is here!

Guess what I did with it? Yep, I made a sandwich out of it. Today in my lunch I had a sandwich with homemade wheat bread, homemade mayonnaise, homegrown tomato, and extra sharp cheddar cheese. A sandwich doesn't get better than that.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Are we breeding more terrorists?

Maybe, no probably:

“History shows that it is rare that increasingly repressive measures by the regime in power have the desired effect of addressing the underlying sense of grievance. Instead, the issues must be confronted and the criminals arrested (or killed in the attempt—I also note that declaring “war on terrorism” may legitimize the nonjudicial killing of terrorist suspects as enemies engaged in combat). Israel is suffering from a predictable bloody backlash against its increasingly oppressive reaction to terrorist outrages within its borders as it seeks to target Al Fatah and other resistance or terrorist groups in Palestine. This repression often raises more extremists who are willing, even eager, to become martyrs in the perceived cause of their religion, country, or community. All repression must be avoided in the conduct of the 'war on terrorism.'”—Durie, War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century, page 120

Friday, July 25, 2008

Terrorism and War

“It is important to recognize that it [terrorism] is not an ideology (such as communism); it is an instrument, not a movement. Questions arise whether it can ever be justified and how it may be defeated. Because a state cannot declare war on an instrument, it may be helpful to redefine “declaring war on terrorism” as a declaration of war on individuals or groups who resort to or threaten to use terrorism.”—Durie, War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century, page 114

Thursday, July 24, 2008

War in the Bible, continued

“A state cannot rationally fight evil by committing it. Thus when political and military leaders ask themselves the question, “What should we do?” they must consider the moral, not only the pragmatic, aspects of this question.”—Pfaff, War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century, page 112

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Making disciples by war?

“How should the ethics of Jesus and our being in Christ shape our view of war? I suggest that they lead to a stance of nonviolence and love for our enemies. Can participating in war contribute to the mission to make disciples of every nation? I think not. To achieve these goals requires envisioning an uncommon sociopolitical presence, a unique (and very different!) set of “responsible” actions committed to a distinct mode of being in the world and for the world that can point the world beyond itself and its self-destructive ways.”—Carroll, War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century, pages 76-77
<idle musing>
I think that about sums up the pacifist position. We are called to imitate Jesus and to make known to all his love for them. I just don't see how the barrel of a gun can do that...
</idle musing>

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

War in the Bible, resumed quotations

“Whenever violence was perpetrated in the name of the cross, the cross was depleted of its “thick” meaning within the larger story of Jesus Christ and “thinned” down to a symbol of religious belonging and power—and the blood of those who did not belong flowed as Christians transmuted themselves from would-be followers of the Crucified to imitators of the people who crucified him.”—Volf, War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century, page 13

Monday, July 21, 2008


OK, it's over a week old now, but I finally had a chance to read it over the weekend...
There is a good post over at Out of Ur about “felt needs” church growth. Very good critique of the supposed biblical foundation for it. Here is the penultimate paragraph:

Contradicting the gospel message is another danger of a hyper-felt-needs based approach to outreach. The gospel calls us to surrender our desires, take up our cross, and follow Christ. How can a church effectively invite people to “die to self” while constantly appealing to their self-interests? Whereas Jesus’ miracles of restoration were completely in sync with his message, our acts of service—particularly in an affluent, consumer culture—run the risk of undermining our message of personal sacrifice by promoting the satifaction of felt-needs/wants.

<idle musing>
Yes! I've said it before, but it bears mentioning again, the most overlooked passages in the Bible are the ones that talk about death to self. It doesn't preach well in our self-absorbed society, but it is the essence of the gospel. Christ came to set us free from self; why, then, do we preach a self-indulgent “gospel?”
</idle musing>

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Quote from a new book

From a book that arrived yesterday;

In more sentimental books on music from the past, one sometimes encounters the romantic claim that a certain era or people ‘loved to sing,’ ‘filled their waking hours with song,’ ‘had melody in their souls,’ and so on. The modern musicologist or ethnomusicologist ardently avoids writing anything redolent of such happy platitudes. But perhaps our predecessors were onto something. For the more we explore early modern English thought, the more it appears to indicate a society intrigued by singing to a remarkable degree, both in theory and in practice. Singing played a vital role in England’s devotional life during this era; and it would not be too much to assert that the nation’s devotional life, in turn, ultimately affected its social, moral, and political spheres as well. —Brown, Singing and the Imagination of Devotion, page 1

<idle musing>
There is a lot to commend this thought. I have found over the years that people who sing tend to be happier people. I don't know which engenders which, but it is just an observation.
<idle musing>

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


OK, I need the help of all of you here. Carta has changed the name of the Ahituv volume and they are asking for help on where to price it. Here are the new details:

Echoes from the Past
Hebrew and Cognate Inscriptions from the Biblical Period
Carta Handbook
Carta, Jerusalem, Forthcoming, August 2008
528 pages + illustrations, English
ISBN: 9789652207081

It is about twice the size of Cogan's The Raging Torrent, which is priced at $64.00, minus the 10% for buying it from Eisenbrauns' website.

What do you think would be a fair price? It was originally priced at $150.00, then reduced to $124.00. Is that fair for a 538 page technical book?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How old is my house?

<idle musing>
In a post yesterday, I mentioned that we removed the overhang from the north side of the house. It changed the appearance of the house quite a bit. Does that mean my house is only a week old? Hardly!

How about the flower boxes I added in June? Or the electrical work I did in January? No? Well then the major plumbing work that I did in November with Joel and Ryan's help? What? Still not enough to make the house new?

OK, surely the wood floor that Ryan and I laid in Octber qualifies! No? Well, how about the remodeling of the kitchen 4 years ago? Or the bathroom remodel at the same time? Or the new roof? No? Boy, you sure are hard to please!

OK, surely this will qualify to make the house new. in the mid-1970's the upper story was expanded. A new stairway was put in to get upstairs and downstairs. New windows were put in and vinyl siding was used on that part of the house. The size of the house was increased by about 35%. Surely this make the house new!

If I were to claim any of these dates for the building of the house, the bank would laugh at me. Everyone knows that the date of a house is from the initial building, in my case 1942.

Well, then why is it that on the biblical studies list, the date of the biblical text is dated by the date of the oldest complete manuscript that we have? So, the biblical text has to be no earlier than the Dead Sea Scrolls! The snippets that were uncovered on the amulets don't count; they simply show that there were ideas floating around that might eventually become the biblical text. By that reasoning, my house was built last week! And, the Septuagint and Peshitta would have to be considered the oldest versions of the Hebrew bible outside of the Dead Sea Scrolls—after all, our oldest codex is only 1000 years old this year—the Leningrad Codex

Just a thought...

Another question: How old is the Gilgamesh epic? Do we date it by the last and final version? Or, do we date it by the various translations? Or, do we date it by the earliest version we find? Of course, it could well be that it is all just a bunch of forgeries and the real version is in English—King James English, of course! :)
</idle musing>

Absolute Hospitality?

“'Absolute hospitality' seems generous and peaceful, until one remembers that unrepentant perpetrators and their unhealed victims would then have to sit around the same table and share a common home without adequate attention to the violation that has taken place. The idea ends up too close for comfort to the Nietzschean affirmation of life, in which a sacred “yes” is pronounced to all that is and “but thus I willed it” is said of all that was, including all the small and large horrors of history. Absolute hospitality would in no way amount to absence of violence. To the contrary, it would enthrone violence precisely under the guise of nonviolence because it would leave the violators unchanged and the consequences of violence unremedied. Hospitality can be absolute only once the world has been transformed into a world of love in which each person is hospitable to all. In the world of injustice, deception, and violence, hospitality can only be conditional—even if the will to hospitality and the offer of hospitality remain unconditional.

“Transformation of the world of violence into a world of love cannot take place by means of absolute hospitality. It would require radical change and not simply an act of indiscriminate acceptance for the world to be transformed into a world of love. The Christian tradition has tied this change to the coming of the Messiah, the crucified and the resurrected One, whose appearance in glory is still awaited. Is this messianic intervention violent? Does it sanction human violence? The answer is simple regarding the Messiah’s first coming. Jesus Christ did not come into the world in order to conquer evildoers through an act of violence but to die for them in self-giving love and thereby reconcile them to God. The outstretched arms of the suffering body on the cross define the whole of Christ’s mission. He condemned the sin of humanity by taking it upon himself; and by bearing it, he freed human beings from its power and restored their communion with God.”—Volf, War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century, page 12

Monday, July 14, 2008

Is Christianity violent by nature?

OK, let's go back to the first chapter and pick up the quotes from there that I missed...

“As applied to Christianity, the victory of the transcendental over the here and now is violent only if the notion of the transcendental is stripped of its particular content and infused with the values of the here and now around which the conflicts rage. This often happens when the Christian faith is employed to legitimize violence. We declare God to be on our side and we see ourselves as soldiers of God, so that the earthly goals acquire a “transcendent” aura and the struggle for them becomes a religious duty. One may describe this as inverse projection—not the projection of what humans deem supremely valuable onto a heavenly screen, a practice that 19th-century critics of religion deplored, but the projection of heavenly values onto earthly goods. The second projection is more dangerous because the first generates religiously sanctioned passivity in the context of oppression and suffering, whereas the second generates religiously sanctioned violence in the context of struggle for scarce goods. This sort of projection of transcendent values onto earthly goods can only succeed, however, if Christian faith is illegitimately stripped of its “thick” content in order to support an engagement in a struggle that was already under way and carried out for other-than-religious reasons and by means not sanctioned by the religion.”—Volf, War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century, page 7


OK, not really, but a loud crash would do.

Last Monday, Debbie and I noticed that the overhang above the north side door was a bit more crooked that it had been. We both knew that one of the supports was rotting and that I would need to take it down soon, but it looked like soon was becoming now.

Tuesday night I put a couple of 2 x 4s in place to hold it. Sure enough, the support on the right side fell down and dangled loosely. Not much support there! In the interest of safety, we stopped using the door :)

Wednesday night, Jon came over to help me. Together, we started ripping off shingles. Pretty soon we hear a buzzing sound, sort of like bees. Not a good thing! Get the bee spray; ready, aim, fire. No effect! Hmmm, now what? I saw a pile of wood shavings and grass under the roof; that must be where they are. After telling Jon to get out of the way, I shoved it to the ground. Sure enough, the buzzing was coming from inside the ball of grass. We left them alone, and they left us alone. Back to tearing the roof off...

I had the roof off my side and was starting to work on the front, and Jon had most of the roof off his side, when all of a sudden the thing let go! In a heroic display of acrobatics, Jon pushed off the roof and as the ladder started falling he jumped down, safely avoiding the falling ladder, the falling overhang, and landing on his feet! No injuries, no damage to the porch, just a nice pile of lumber on the driveway. Of course, we had to finish tearing it apart, but praise God, no one was hurt.

After we tore the thing apart, we (actually Jon) put the wood on the woodpile for a fire later this summer. Time for fresh apple crisp! Debbie had been making it while we tore the overhang apart, after all, a worker is worthy of his hire!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Yahweh will save

“The question that needs to be asked is not “what should This country take from Isaiah?” but instead “what should Christians learn about faith in God in the context of war from these prophetic texts?” This second question returns to the two fundamental issues that were raised in the introduction:
Who are we (identity)? What are we to do (mission)? This leads me to two additional lessons that I feel the people of God must learn from the prophet. To begin with, we see that believers are called to trust in the absolute power of Yahweh to deliver. One may protest, “This is naïve. It will not work. All the prayers and calls to believe in God cannot save us from enemy attack! We have to be responsible, pragmatic, and prepare our defenses.” How much we sound like the Judah of Isaiah’s day! The prophet’s point was that Yahweh was able to save. To depend on horses and chariots and mortar and brick is to rely on human cunning and the weakness of flesh. These will fail us, sooner if not later.”—Carroll, War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century, pages 75-76

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The joys of reading

This wonderful little article flew through my inbox today.

The pile is waiting. The pile is getting higher. The pile looks impressive, probably isn't, still feels slightly overwhelming, vaguely threatening, even as it sighs, waits, drums its fingers on the inside of my skull, promising all manner of wonder and insight and syntactical bliss if I'd just, please, maybe, right now, even for just an hour or three, pay it some serious, focused attention. Please?

It's a bit of a problem. More than that, it's a moral, ethical, personal issue, a deep indignity of the soul, a painful twist to the nipple of my id.

See, I love books. Admire and appreciate and adore. Was a lit major at Berkeley, read voraciously, still love to read, still like to consider myself a big consumer of books and deep thinker about bookish issues and ideas and authoralia.

And yet, if I'm painfully honest, I have to admit it: I barely read books anymore...

About a year ago the most astounding thing happened: The hard drive on my MacBook suffered a rare and painful meltdown when I was away on vacation. I was, much to my initial horror, to be e-mail/Net-free for over a week. What was I missing? Who was e-mailing? What about all the blogs and the news and the Significant Global Happenings? What of all the salacious offerings of nubile flesh and social wonderment stroking my in-box as I sat there, entirely cut off and adrift?...

When I finally got my precious MacBook back, when all e-mail was restored and all Net access was re-granted and I was able to dive back into the perky digital maelstrom, when I spent a few hours and got all caught up, it finally hit me: I'd missed exactly nothing. The world was exactly the same. The beautiful churn continued, same as it ever was, with or without me. Isn't that fantastic? Someone should write a book about it.

<idle musing>
You really should read the whole thing, It is brutally honest about how we convince ourselves that we have to have the Internet to survive and that reading a real book is too difficult.
</idle musing>

Vengeance is whose?

“Based on these two images of God as king (sovereign) and warrior (victor over evil), several ethical conclusions follow, only one of which I will discuss. Christians need not—should not—engage in violence. The fact that Yahweh our God is a powerful warrior, whose passion for holiness and justice is intense and who will deal decisively with evil, means that his followers can afford to leave the righting of wrongs in God’s hand. Both testaments emphatically affirm this point. Moses asserts in the name of God, “Vengeance is mine” (Deut 32:35). Paul, in urging a peaceable lifestyle, tells his audience in Rome: “Never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Rom 12:19). God is completely able to deal with the inequities and the violence in the world without our help.”—Martens, War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century, page 55

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

God as warrior

“Following God the warrior fully in faith does not have the effect of grooming warlike followers. That God is a warrior means the opposite—that his people need not be warlike.”—Martens, War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century, page 53

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

July sale at Eisenbrauns

Hey, its earlier than last month :)

For the month of July, Eisenbrauns is offering you the chance to build your library of Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture volumes from Intervarsity Press. Save 42% off list price on 20 different titles in the series. Order here.

"Genesis 1-11"
Edited by Andrew Louth
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament - ACCSOT 1
InterVarsity Press - IVP, 2001. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 083081471X
List Price: $40.00 Your Price: $23.20

"Genesis 12-50"
Edited by Mark Sheridan
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament - ACCSOT 2
InterVarsity Press - IVP, 2002. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0830814728
List Price: $40.00 Your Price: $23.20

Edited by Manlio Simonetti and Marco Conti
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament - ACCSOT 6
InterVarsity Press - IVP, 2006. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0830814760
List Price: $40.00 Your Price: $23.20

"Psalms 51-150"
Edited by Quentin F. Wesselschmidt
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament - ACCSOT 8
InterVarsity Press - IVP, 2007. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9780830814787
List Price: $40.00 Your Price: $23.20

"Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon"
by J. Robert Wright
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament - ACCSOT
InterVarsity Press - IVP, 2005. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0830814795
List Price: $40.00 Your Price: $23.20

"Isaiah 1 -39"
by Steven A. McKinion
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament - ACCSOT
InterVarsity Press - IVP, 2004. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0830814809
List Price: $40.00 Your Price: $23.20

"Isaiah 40-66"
Edited by Mark W. Elliott
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament - ACCSOT
InterVarsity Press - IVP, 2007. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9780830814817
List Price: $40.00 Your Price: $23.20

"Ezekiel, Daniel"
Edited by Michael Glerup and Kenneth Stevenson
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament - ACCSOT
InterVarsity Press - IVP, 2008. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9780830814831
List Price: $40.00 Your Price: $23.20

"Matthew 1-13"
Edited by Manlio Simonetti
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament - ACCSNT NT 1A
InterVarsity Press - IVP, 2001. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0830814868
List Price: $40.00 Your Price: $23.20

"Matthew 14-28"
Edited by Manlio Simonetti
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament - ACCSNT NT 1B
InterVarsity Press - IVP, 2002. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0830814698
List Price: $40.00 Your Price: $23.20

Edited by Christopher A. Hall and Thomas C. Oden
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament - ACCSNT
InterVarsity Press - IVP, 2005. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0830814183
List Price: $40.00 Your Price: $23.20

Edited by Arthur A. Just
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament - ACCSNT 3
InterVarsity Press - IVP, 2003. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0830814884
List Price: $40.00 Your Price: $23.20

Edited by Francis Martin
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament - ACCSNT 5
InterVarsity Press - IVP, 2006. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0830814906
List Price: $40.00 Your Price: $23.20

Edited by Gerald Bray
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament - ACCSNT
InterVarsity Press - IVP, 1998. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0830814914
List Price: $40.00 Your Price: $23.20

"1-2 Corinthians"
Edited by Gerald Bray
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament - ACCSNT
InterVarsity Press - IVP, 1999. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0830814922
List Price: $40.00 Your Price: $23.20

"Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians"
Edited by Mark J. Edwards
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament - ACCSNT
InterVarsity Press - IVP, 1999. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0830814930
List Price: $40.00 Your Price: $23.20

"Colossians, 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon"
Edited by Peter Gorday
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament - ACCSNT
InterVarsity Press - IVP, 2000. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0830814949
List Price: $40.00 Your Price: $23.20

by Erik M. Heen and Philip D. W. Krey
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament - ACCSNT 10
InterVarsity Press - IVP, 2005. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0830814957
List Price: $40.00 Your Price: $23.20

"James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude"
Edited by Gerald Bray
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament - ACCSNT
InterVarsity Press - IVP, 2000. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0830814965
List Price: $40.00 Your Price: $23.20

Edited by William C. Weinrich
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament - ACCSNT 12
InterVarsity Press - IVP, 2005. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0830814973
List Price: $40.00 Your Price: $23.20

Monday, July 07, 2008

War and justice

“In the context of war, the definition of faith is forged: faith is the casting of one’s destiny on God who spoke the word of promise. Faith is less a cerebral process than it is a life/death commitment based on an unshakable confidence in the veracity of Yahweh’s word (consider David’s words before approaching Goliath, 1 Sam 17:45) and purpose. Wars in the Bible address humans who are slow to hear and even slower to believe, to instruct them on the meaning of faith...

“The message of these God-directed wars for Israel is not that war is the divinely sanctioned means for setting matters right. The kerygma of the Yahweh wars expresses a different message: pithy, down-to-earth experiences to illustrate what we abstractly call “incarnation” or define as faith.

“Wars sanctioned by the Lord Yahweh, with the destruction they brought, must be appraised in light of who God is—namely, a God of holiness. This holiness is expressed by a justice that is both hard edged and compassionate. This means that evil is resisted and destroyed through hard justice; it also means that God enters the fray of violence as an overture to the incarnation and pedagogically makes clear what is meant by trusting him. Christians, remembering the asymmetry that exists between themselves and God, do well to leave the righting of wrongs to God. Believers do, however, have a mandate to work toward justice, understood as honorable relationships, but they may not establish it coercively. Their responsibility is quite the opposite. Believers cannot participate in precipitating violence. Their calling is to absorb violence.”—Martens, War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century, page 50

Friday, July 04, 2008

Sin equals violence?

“Though working as a theorist and not as theologian or exegete, Girard has put forth a hypothesis about the origin of violence that readily aligns with the biblical evidence. Cain desires what Abel has, namely, the assurance of God’s favor. Denied this favor, he turns his hostility on the model whom he is imitating. The two struggle. Cain kills Abel. A Christian theologian, interpreting this same material, can agree to some extent with Girard on the reason for the violence but concludes that the human predicament is the sins of selfishness and rebellion, one of the consequences of which is violence. The conclusion is inevitable: where sin reigns, violence is inevitable.”—Martens, War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century, page 42.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Peace now?

The vision [in Isaiah 2:2-4] is of a world without the violence of war. Reading the phrase wehayâ beªa˙årît hayyamîm [I'm afraid the diacritics dropped out in the transliteration] as ‘in the last days’, scholars customarily assert that only in the eschaton when the Messiah rules will this vision be fully realized. This reading shortchanges the exegesis. The expression wehayâ beªa˙årît hayyamîm is translated in the NRSV as ‘in days to come’ and should be understood as ‘whenever’. Hence, whenever and wherever (including here and now) the word of Yahweh’s instruction is embraced, the outcome will be eliminating weapons of destruction and instead forging implements of agricultural production. The oracle offers hope for the future, but it also addresses the immediate circumstance.”—Martens, War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century, page 37

<idle musing>
Wow; what a radical understanding. Maybe I have been living in a corner, but I have never heard this interpretation before. It certainly puts a different urgency on peacemaking!
</idle musing>

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Vengeance is whose?

"The Psalms urge us to “seek peace, and pursue it” (34:14), an exhortation written by one who is teaching his family the fear of the Lord. The Psalms promise that “there is posterity for the peaceable” (37:37, NRSV; “there is a future for the man of peace,” NIV). Someone may retort that the imprecatory psalms strike a different note; the point is conceded: human emotions run high when people are provoked. But, strikingly, the imprecatory psalms call on God to take punitive action in accord with his promise/principle, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay”—a major plank in the shalom position (Deut 32:35). The Writings segment of the canon advocates a strategy of desisting from personal vengeance when provoked.”— Martens, War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century, pp. 36-37

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Shalom and monotheism

"The legacy of biblical monotheism is shalom, not violence.

“The intent of this essay is to sort out these two contradictory interpretations. I argue here that the cross along with the resurrection is the centerpiece of the Christian gospel, that its message is fundamentally reconciliation and peace, and that the method for achieving reconciliation and peace is absorbing the violence. Christians, followers of God’s way, share this message of reconciliation and peace and both advocate and practice nonviolence. Shalom is ultimately possible because of God’s intervention. An alternate title for this essay might be: “The Legacy of Biblical Monotheism: Shalom.”—Elmer Martens in War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century, page 33.