Friday, July 31, 2009

Serving the king

Nice thoughts by Ted Gossard yesterday about a Christian and wordly kingdoms. Here's a snippet to whet your appetite:

It's not just about Christian pacifism, or nonresistance. It's -more to the point- to what and to whom we belong. God is our King. And we in Jesus are part of the kingdom of God made known and spelled out in the good news/gospel of Jesus.

So it's an identity issue. And then the question comes just how much, or to what extent we can be identified with our various nations, as the new Israel scattered throughout the earth. That is not an easy question, and both individual Christians, as well as churches will vary on their answers, or practice, even within the peace churches.

<idle musing>
Well said. As Christians our first loyalty is always to the King of kings. He cites Bonhoeffer as a good example of that.
</idle musing>

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Book or Kindle?

I found out about a fun little video series being done by a bookstore in San Francisco today. They are doing a ten-day Smackdown between the Kindle™ and the Book™. Today was day two, but you really should start with day one (each one is about 3 1/2 minutes long):

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bicycling violence

A co-worker forwarded this to me yesterday:

Police say firefighter Charles Diez was upset that a man was riding a bike with his 3-year-old son on a busy street so shot the cyclist in the head. The bullet embedded itself in the rider's helmet.

<idle musing>
There are other links to the story with more details, but the bottom line is that the assailant had a gun in his pocket and used it. So much for southern hospitality.

I have been chased off the road on my bike by vehicles, but at least no one has drawn a gun on me yet!
</idle musing>

The violence of religion, or not

I enjoy reading other publisher's blogs. Some are obviously official blogs and treated as such. Others are more informal and allow you to see a bit of what their lives are like. One of the blogs I enjoy is Andy Le Peau's from IVPress. Today, he had an interesting little factoid in his continuing quest to stamp out modern myths. This one was the myth that religion has caused more death and wars than anything else. He responds:

It's somewhere between 160 and 190 million--and almost all for political, not religious, reasons. Ideology in the twentieth century was a much more deadly force than religion ever was. Fascism, communism and racially motivated genocide all went on rampages of horrific proportions.

<idle musing>
Interesting, isn't it? I need to remember that for the future. This goes hand in hand with an article I was reading in Harper's about genocide in World War II Poland. Total Depravity, how true you are, and all pervasive, too.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Robin Parry has an interesting idea today when engaging in discussion with someone who disagrees with you:

The person who has an objection to your beliefs (your theology or to Christian faith itself) is a human being in God's image. God loves them and values them. They deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. They are not stupid. Their motives may be good (in part, at least). Their objection may have merit and it certainly deserves to be taken seriously. Even if sin is involved in the objection and in their inclination to hold it, let s/he who is without sin cast the first stone.

<idle musing>
Hmmm...treat people like humans? What a novel idea! Act like a Christian in daily life and not just on Sunday morning? Unheard of! The next thing you know people might actually be attracted to Christianity!
</idle musing>

Monday, July 27, 2009

Beer drinkers beware

OK, I said I wouldn't be quoting from the gardening book that Debbie gave me. I won't, but I will paraphrase a recurring statement.

Each month has specific sections; one is "Pests" which includes bugs, animals, and diseases. One of the recurring problems in the summer months is slugs. His recommendation: stale beer. Apparently there is something in beer that attracts them, but that's not the part that is interesting. He says you need to capture them early in the morning, "before they sober up and go home."

Remember that, all you drunkards out there! Especially if you are a slug :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New books

Updated: fixed the title of the first book (thanks to Jim West for pointing it out)

I love my job! Today, three new books arrived that I personally found very interesting. Your mileage may vary :)

First, totally unexpected; in fact, the price isn't even set yet:

The Palace of King David
Excavations at the Summit of the City of David: Preliminary Report of Seasons 2005-2007
Shoham Academic Research and Publication, 2009
100 pages + numerous full color pictures,
ISBN: 9789659029952
Price not set

Finally arrived from Belgium:

A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint
This complete lexicon supercedes its two earlier editions (1993; 2002).
by T. Muraoka
Peeters Publishers, 2009
xl + 757 pages, English and Greek
ISBN: 9789042922488
List Price: $138.00
Your Price: $128.34

And this one from SBL, a lot thicker than I thought it would be:

Letters from the Hittite Kingdom
Writings from the Ancient World Society of Biblical Literature - WAWSBL 15
by Harry A. Hoffner Jr.
Society of Biblical Literature, 2009
468 pages, English
ISBN: 9781589832121
List Price: $45.95
Your Price: $39.06

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Theology and life

Alan Knox has a good comment on biblical theology:

Someone who does not offer grace and forgiveness to others does not understand the grace of God regardless of what they say or teach about God’s grace. A person who does not accept others as they are does not understand how God has accepted us in Christ, regardless of what they say about salvation by grace and not by works. Someone who does not share his or her life with other brothers and sisters in Christ in intimate fellowship and community does not understand discipleship, regardless of what they profess about the importance of the Great Commission. Our theology is demonstrated in the way we live our lives, not in what we say or write.

This distinction between theoretical theology and practical theology is a false distinction as far as Scripture is concerned. According to Scripture, it is impossible to know God (theology) without it affecting your life (practice). So, a biblical theology is a practical theology. A theoretical theology that does not affect a person’s life is not a biblical theology.

This is somewhat in line with something that Nick posted the other day:

I'm intrigued…by the way that Paul addresses the Corinthians as “those sanctified in Christ Jesus” (TNIV) when he knows the mess that they’re involved in and he knows that he’s about to rebuke them. It certainly makes me want to think twice before I utter something like, “so and so might be saved, but they aren’t sanctified.”

<idle musing>
Personally, I think the distinction is artificial; a creation for the sake of our compartmental minds that love to count "conversions." Numbers on a blackboard, but no changed life doesn't equal salvation as it is seen in the New Testament... go ahead, take aim and fire at me :)
</idle musing>

More Garden stuff

Renee asked in a comment if it was OK to have "godly envy." I doubt it, but the garden is doing very well. Tomatoes are starting to turn white before they turn red; I can't wait. Meanwhile, the cucumbers are going wild; the beans are prolific; the raspberries are bearing well for being a new patch.

I cut the last of the lettuce 2 weeks ago and planted more beans in their place. Japanese beetles were starting to attack the beans and raspberries (I don't use pesticides), so I got a pheromone based trap a week ago Saturday. I had to change the capture bag already on Monday—that's only 10 days! It was heavy with beetles. The new bag is already getting full, and the leaves on the beans and raspberries are no longer lace. Those things really work, and no poison involved.

Here are a few pictures for your enjoyment. Oh, and be sure to check out the profile picture on the blog, too. It isn't snow anymore :)

Looking Northeast; in the foreground is tomatoes and cucumbers. The raspberries are toward the back:

Looking North. The new row of beans is just starting to emerge on the right; note the drip irrigation tube:

The watermelon patch:

The herb garden. The dill is really doing well—and I've been using it :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New Eisenbrauns sale

We have another 10 day sale going on. This one is for all of you Akkadian lovers (yes, all 2 of you!).

Here's your chance to get the five volumes in the State Archives
of Assyria Cuneiform Texts series at a 20% savings. To sweeten
the deal, I've thrown in 5 titles from the State Archives of
Assyria Studies series at 20% also.

As always, all sales on this web sale are final; no returns
will be permitted. Offer is good only on orders placed at through July 29, 2009.

To go directly to the weekly sale, click on this link:

"The Standard Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh"
by Simo Parpola
State Archives of Assyria Cuneiform Texts - SAACT 1
Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project - NATCP, 1997. Paper. English.
ISBN: 9514577604
List Price: $44.00 Your Price: $35.20

"The Standard Babylonian Etana Epic: Cuneiform Text, Transliteration, Score, Glossary, Indices and Sign List"
by Jamie R. Novotny
State Archives of Assyria Cuneiform Texts - SAACT 2
Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project - NATCP, 2001. Paper. English.
ISBN: 9514590473
List Price: $39.00 Your Price: $31.20

"The Standard Babylonian Epic of Anzu: Introduction, Cuneiform Text, Transliteration, Score, Glossary, Indices and Sign List"
by Amar Annus
State Archives of Assyria Cuneiform Texts - SAACT 3
Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project - NATCP, 2001. Paper. English.
ISBN: 9514590511
List Price: $44.00 Your Price: $35.20

"The Standard Babylonian Creation Myth: Enuma Elish"
Edited by Philippe Talon
State Archives of Assyria Cuneiform Texts - SAACT 4
Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project - NATCP, 2005. Paper.
English and French.
ISBN: 9521013281
List Price: $44.00 Your Price: $35.20

"Evil Demons: Canonical Utukku- Lemnu-tu Incantations"
by M. J. Geller
State Archives of Assyria Cuneiform Texts - SAACT 5
Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project - NATCP, 2007. Paper. English.
ISBN: 9789521013317
List Price: $77.00 Your Price: $61.60

"The Use of Numbers and Quantifications in the Assyrian Royal Inscriptions"
by Marco de Odorico
State Archives of Assyria Studies - SAAS 3
Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project - NATCP, 1995. Paper. English.
ISBN: 9514571258
List Price: $64.00 Your Price: $51.20

"Nippur in Late Assyrian Times, c 755-612 B.C."
by Steven W. Cole
State Archives of Assyria Studies - SAAS 4
Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project - NATCP, 1996. Paper. English.
ISBN: 9514572866
List Price: $54.00 Your Price: $43.20

"References to Prophecy in Neo-Assyrian Sources"
by Martti Nissinen
State Archives of Assyria Studies - SAAS 7
Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project - NATCP, 1998. Paper. English.
ISBN: 9514580796
List Price: $54.00 Your Price: $43.20

"Die Annalen des Jahres 711 v.Chr."
by Andreas Fuchs
State Archives of Assyria Studies - SAAS 8
Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project - NATCP, 1998. Paper. German.
ISBN: 9514584104
List Price: $49.00 Your Price: $39.20

"Grammatical Variation in Neo-Assyrian"
by M. Luukko
State Archives of Assyria Studies - SAAS 16
Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project - NATCP, 2004. Paper. English.
ISBN: 9514590597
List Price: $75.00 Your Price: $60.00

Is cyber-space real?

Nice thoughts on how “real” cyberspace is by Ben Myers.

If you want to insist that such an avatar could never be the “real you”, then you might consider how the “real” self is manifest in various day-to-day relationships. In our differing roles and relationships, we all deploy various personae or avatars: I have one persona at an academic conference, but quite another when I’m talking with my one-year-old son, and a different one again when I’m talking with a close friend, or with my employer. Which of these is the “real” self? Isn’t the self precisely an assemblage of such avatars, without the guarantee of any deep underlying essence?

and, a little later on:

At a 1964 Halloween concert in Carnegie Hall, Bob Dylan offered the humorous remark: “It’s Halloween. I have my Bob Dylan mask on. I’m masquerading.” Is not every self an assemblage of such masquerades? Do we need to imagine the self as some deep underlying essence? Is the self not rather simply the continual surfacing of one’s being into material relations with others?

<idle musing>
All I can say is that if this is the cuttings from the forthcoming talk, what he kept must be pretty good! By all means, read the whole thing; it isn't very long.
</idle musing>

Monday, July 20, 2009

Garden goodness

Over the weekend, I managed to get a good bit of gardening done. We froze green beans and some sweet corn; made dill pickles and pickled some chili peppers. I made some more rhubarb jam, modifying the recipe a bit. I'm still not satisfied with it, but another try might make it.

I pulled a beet that had gotten huge, boiled it, and ate it. The rest of the beets are still too small to make beet pickles out of yet. Maybe next weekend.

We continue to pick raspberries, but because the patch is new, there aren't enough to freeze or make jam out of.

Jim and Shannon picked wax beans and canned 12 quarts. Shannon also gave us a nice blueberry jam she had made. It was really good with homemade yogurt.

All in all, a very productive weekend. The tomatoes are still at least a week or two away. The green peppers are starting to be close to ready and my second planting of green beans is looking very healthy.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The end of church as we know it?

Nice look at how technology is changing the church over at The Jesus Creed. Here's a snippet to whet your appetite:

The virtually-connected church now has on-line access to the finest teaching and preaching imaginable, accessible at their convenience, 7 x 24 x 365. Of what value is physically proximate information (e.g., stage-centric pastor) when the average person can now access the best sermons, preaching, teaching, and cross-referenced commentary on-line?

Finding better information elsewhere, the virtually-connected community will restructure their physical gatherings to really connect and be present with each other - like they do on-line all week long. When this happens, pastors can step off the stage and be released to really pastor. Gifted teachers (who may or may not have pastoral gifts) can teach in smaller groups where true interactivity can take place. Intimate, organic F2F gathering becomes the central focus, not a mid-week breakout session.

<idle musing>
Wow! Imagine that! The church actually becoming a church again! Who would have believed it. OK, pardon the sarcasm. I certainly hope and pray that he is correct.
</idle musing>

Geek at heart

I guess I'm just a geek at heart. Today I received a link to the original Apollo 11 mission. They are playing back in real time the audio of the mission. Too cool! I have it running in the background.

I was 13 at the time of the original mission. That July I was in Farragut State Park in Idaho--along with 34,000 other Boy Scouts for the 1969 National Jamboree. Since Neil Armstrong was an eagle scout, there was a lot of excitement. I don't remember all the details, but I do remember that he sent along a radio greeting to us from the moon. I also remember seeing very grainy footage projected onto a huge screen one of the nights. This was long before Jumbotrons™, but it was thrilling to look above us at the moon and think that what we were seeing in front of us was actually going on above us.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Promise? Well, maybe...

When we first got married (over 30 years ago now), we had a nice poster with Isaiah 30:15 on it. It had a nice forest scene, designed to get you to relax. You probably know the verse: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength."

Of course, the context tells a different story:

These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the LORD's instruction. They say to the seers, "See no more visions!" and to the prophets, "Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!" Therefore, this is what the Holy One of Israel says: "Because you have rejected this message, relied on oppression and depended on deceit, this sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant. It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from a hearth or scooping water out of a cistern." This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, 'No, we will flee on horses.' Therefore you will flee! You said, 'We will ride off on swift horses.' Therefore your pursuers will be swift! A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill."—Isaiah 30:9-17 (emphasis mine)

<idle musing>
Isn't it interesting how we pick and choose? The context is anything but promising! But, the verse (actually the snippet of a verse) is found on many plaques and posters. Now, if you read further, there is a promise of restoration—there almost always is—but it is based on repentance.

Things haven't changed much, have they? We still are looking for prophets of prosperity and wealth—just don't confront us with our sins, it isn't nice! God, on the other hand, is always trying to get us to face ourselves, but not to condemn us. His goal is to deliver us! He wants to set us free from our small-mindedness, our pre-occupation with ourselves, our worship of non-deities. May he succeed!
</idle musing>

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Gardening in Indiana

Debbie bought me a neat book the other day: Month-By-Month Gardening in Indiana. I had gardened in Minnesota for years, and Kentucky before that, but my knowledge wasn't always transferring very well. This book will definitely help!

I remember when we first moved here, calling up and looking to pick raspberries at the end of July—that's the common time in Minnesota. The woman laughed and said they had been over with for weeks. How was I to know that July 1 is the beginning of raspberries? Oh well, I am enjoying reading the book. Just don't expect many quotes from it, though :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Thought for today

We need leadership to make sure we don’t accept everything as truth and to make sure we don’t spin our wheels thinking there is no truth. There are things, some are Christian doctrines like the atonement and bodily resurrection and the trinity—and others are Christian practices like nonviolence and enemy love and compassion for the poor and hospitality to the stranger—these are things we cannot lose or else we lose the essence of Christianity. Christianity is not just a set of doctrines nor is it just a set of practices but it is these actions and practices that ensure we remember the Story, and that we remember Jesus, literally so that we continue to embody the Spirit of Jesus, and to be the fragrance of Christ in the world, so that folks come to know God’s saving grace."—Shane Claiborne in Follow Me to Freedom: Leading as an Ordinary Radical, forthcoming from Regal.

A new blog

Steve Wiggens, former editor at Gorgias, has started a new blog. I like the title: Sects and Violence in the Ancient World: Topics on the Old Testament and religion and culture of the ancient Near East. He has 4 real post so far, reflecting his interest in Ugarit, especially.

Add him to your blogrolls and RSS feeds if you are interested in the ancient Near East.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Though for today

"We need to sift through the dirt of history to find the gems, no matter what tradition we come from. Part of my frustration with the Methodist tradition that I was raised in was that I began to read John Wesley and I began to fall in love with his life, writing and teaching… and it put me at odds with many of the things I saw in Methodism today. I mean it had a fiery beginning, that’s why there is fire wrapped around the cross in the Methodist symbol – fire and cross – if we’re not careful the only place the fire will remain is on the cover of the hymnal and the pages of the past. We can’t forget our histories and the men and women who made it. I’m not talking about war heroes, but church heroes, heroes of the cross. Talk about John Wesley – there’s a radical leader. We cannot forget these folks from the past. Methodists need to read Wesley again. We need to take the best that our little part of Church history has. We need the fire of the Pentecostals. We need the roots of the Catholics and Orthodox. We need the sharp thinking of the Episcopalians and mainliners. We need the politics of the Anabaptists, the grace of the Quakers. And we need to confess the dark sides of church history, where our denominations justified slavery with the bible, where we baptized the crusades and militaries, where we killed each other over theology. True leaders are able to see the good and the bad… to confess the bad and try not to repeat it, and to celebrate the good and try to reproduce it."—Shane Claiborne in Follow Me to Freedom: Leading as an Ordinary Radical, forthcoming from Regal.

<idle musing>
Amen! Good preaching!
</idle musing>

Friday, July 10, 2009

Garden goodness

Last night, after a nice bike ride, I went to the garden. I expected to find a few green beans ready to pick, some raspberries, and some lettuce. Boy, was I wrong!

I had checked the beans on Tuesday; there were some that looked like they would be ready on Thursday. I couldn't check them on Wednesday because it rained—just enough to get the leaves wet. In case you don't know, you don't want to touch bean plants when the leaves are wet; it causes leaf wilt.

Anyway, I ended up filling to overflowing a dish pan full of green beans. If I had known there were that many, I would have skipped the bike ride; that extra hour sure would have come in handy last night. Instead, I snapped them, blanched them, and froze them. I did get to use the new Seal-a-meal™ that Debbie's parents gave me last fall. Sweet little machine; I certainly wouldn't have bought it, but I like using it :)

We just got a notice that the blueberries are ready for picking this weekend, so tomorrow I plan on picking about 30 pounds. More freezing—and I get to use the sealer again!

Final reflections

Just a few thoughts on Walton's The Lost World of Genesis One.

I like his presupposition that the Genesis creation account is functional, not material. But, I don't think he adequately defends it. I am told that the forthcoming book from us at Eisenbrauns will remedy this. But, until I read that, I must say that he leaves too many hanging arguments. I am attracted to it, but not thoroughly convinced.

I am convinced that his argument that we have pushed God to the margins by making him a “god of the gaps” is very true. He is not the only person arguing this, but he does a good job of highlighting why and how it happened.

I also think that his reservations about concordist readings of the Bible are correct. You can't take an ancient text—any ancient text—and read it on modern terms. You have to read it as an ancient text, knowing that you will have to stretch to get into the mind of the author, knowing that his/her world view is significantly different than your worldview.

<idle musing>
Of course, for that matter, communication between people here and now is subject to the same caveat! We all come to every situation with presuppositions and emotional baggage that make clear communication difficult. Communication is work! Or at least clear communication is—all the result of the fall. Genesis 3 is behind everything if you look.
</idle musing>

Thursday, July 09, 2009

New sale at Eisenbrauns

Jim was at the RAI this week (I hope you had a chance to see him if you were there), and it put me in a Mesopotamian kind of mind, which was reflected in the last sale. This week, I continue along the same lines by offering you the chance to save 50-70% on selected Nuzi and Ebla titles.

Here's the list of titles, which you can order by going here:

"In Honor of Ernest R. Lacheman on His Seventy-fifth Birthday, April 29, 1981"
Edited by Martha A. Morrison and David I. Owen
Studies on the Civilization and Culture of Nuzi and the Hurrians - SCCNH 1
Eisenbrauns, 1981. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0931464080
List Price: $69.50 Your Price: $27.80

"General Studies and Excavations at Nuzi 9/1"
Edited by David I. Owen and Martha A. Morrison
Studies on the Civilization and Culture of Nuzi and the Hurrians - SCCNH 2
Eisenbrauns, 1987. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0931464374
List Price: $79.50 Your Price: $31.80

"Joint Expedition with the Iraq Museum at Nuzi VII: Miscellaneous Texts"
Edited by Ernest R. Lacheman and Maynard P. Maidman
Studies on the Civilization and Culture of Nuzi and the Hurrians - SCCNH 3
Eisenbrauns, 1989. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0931464455
List Price: $59.50 Your Price: $23.80

"The Eastern Archives of Nuzi and Excavations at Nuzi 9/2"
Edited by Ernest R. Lacheman, Martha A. Morrison, and David I. Owen
Studies on the Civilization and Culture of Nuzi and the Hurrians - SCCNH 4
Eisenbrauns, 1993. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0931464641
List Price: $79.50 Your Price: $31.80

"General Studies and Excavations at Nuzi 9/3"
Edited by David I. Owen and Ernest R. Lacheman
Studies on the Civilization and Culture of Nuzi and the Hurrians - SCCNH 5
Eisenbrauns, 1995. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0931464676
List Price: $79.50 Your Price: $31.80

"Eblaitica: Essays on the Ebla Archives and Eblaite Language, Volume 1"
Edited by Cyrus H. Gordon, Gary A. Rendsburg, and Nathan H. Winter
Eblaitica: Essays on the Ebla Archives and the Eblaite Language - EEEAEL 1
Eisenbrauns, 1987. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 093146434X
List Price: $45.00 Your Price: $22.50

"Eblaitica: Essays on the Ebla Archives and Eblaite Language, Volume 2"
Edited by Cyrus H. Gordon and Gary A. Rendsburg
Eblaitica: Essays on the Ebla Archives and the Eblaite Language - EEEAEL 2
Eisenbrauns, 1990. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0931464498
List Price: $45.00 Your Price: $22.50

"Eblaitica: Essays on the Ebla Archives and Eblaite Language, Volume 3"
Edited by Cyrus H. Gordon and Gary A. Rendsburg
Eblaitica: Essays on the Ebla Archives and the Eblaite Language - EEEAEL 3
Eisenbrauns, 1992. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0931464773
List Price: $45.00 Your Price: $22.50

"Eblaitica: Essays on the Ebla Archives and Eblaite Language, Volume 4"
Edited by Cyrus H. Gordon and Gary A. Rendsburg
Eblaitica: Essays on the Ebla Archives and the Eblaite Language - EEEAEL 4
Eisenbrauns, 2002. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 1575060604
List Price: $49.50 Your Price: $24.75

Five Influential Primary Sources

Nick tagged me on a strange meme. Here are the rules:

1. List the 5 primary sources that have most affected your scholarship, thoughts about antiquity, and/or understanding of the NT/OT.
2. Books from the Bible are off limits unless you really want to list one, I certainly will not chastise you for it.
3. Finally, choose individual works if you can. This will be more interesting than listing the entire corpus of Cicero as one of your choices.

That's a tough one, so I have been mulling it around in my mind for a few days—I bet Nick thought I was ignoring him :) So, here's my best guess on influential primary sources:

1. The Toothache incantation in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. I remember the first time I read it; I couldn't fathom why the incantation went all the way back to creation. But, it helped me understand (I think!) how the ancient mind worked.

2. The Kumarbi Cycle in Hittite. A fascinating Hurrian creation myth that almost certainly influence Hesiod, and therefore the Greek world.

3. The plague prayers of Mursili. The concept of guilt and repentance because of a plague brought back from Egypt is (at least to my knowledge) unique in the non-Israelite world.

4. The Aeneid, especially the underworld scene. In order for Aeneas to enter the underworld, his pilot has to die. The concept of substitutionary death found there led me to look for it in other places, as well.

5. Not sure what to put here, there are several that fight for the spot, but I would have to say the Didache wins. I remember reading it for the first time in a Baker reprint of the Lightfoot translation. Then, I remember reading it in Greek the first time. The other day, I sat down and read it again in Greek just for the fun of it...

OK, whom to tag...Nick already tagged some I would have, but here we go:
Jim West (just because I know he hates memes), Charles Halton, Duane our abnormally interesting friend, John Hobbins, and how about Jay at mu-pad3-da. If anyone else wants to participate, please do so and leave a comment letting me know.

The true meaning of the text

I missed this as I was extracting citations from Walton's The Lost World of Genesis One:

The truest meaning of a text is found in what the author and hearers would have thought.—The Lost World of Genesis One, page 43

<idle musing>
I would say that this sentence is the underlying foundation of exegesis. We are interested in what the text meant, so that we can apply it to today—without distorting what it is saying. Allegorical and analogical interpretations do violence to the text—but now we enter the realm of philosophical presuppositions and metaphysics :)

But, for a different take on this, see Kevin Edgecomb's post:

Firstly, what is the result of finding the primary and only valid meaning of a text in the distant past, through whatever means? Does it not render all other readings “invalid” or “inaccurate”? Does this not also immediately render the text itself dead, and no longer to speak with a living voice to any community? Secondly, doesn’t such an approach itself also come to be deadened by this methodology? Finding no living voice in opposition to its theoretical constructions of meaning, it is unimpeded in its approach to the text, and finds only deadness reflected back upon it, because it will find nothing else. There is no living interaction. The results of the experiment are predetermined by the experiment. In this case, the approach, partaking as it does of a number of presuppositions, is limited in its conclusions.

Hmmm...what do you think? I think we are on the same page, just different emphases; I said the primary meaning, but not only meaning. Kevin emphasizes the ongoing interaction with the text throughout history. But, am I right?
</idle musing>

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The sum of it all

“It is important that we teach empirical science and that we teach it well. But empirical science is not an education unto itself that can serve all the needs of society or that can serve as the sum of one's education. The physical sciences are only one branch of education, and we dare not isolate them from the humanities or elevate as self-contained”—The Lost World of Genesis One, pages 160-161

<idle musing>
This is most emphatically not what we see in education today! There is a strong emphasis on the physical sciences at the expense of the humanities. Every time I read C.S. Lewis' Abolition of Man, I am amazed at his prophetic vision of society.

We need to rediscover the humanities. We need to teach people that there is more than the physical; that materialism isn't the only philosophical system. Humanity was made for a higher calling than to become a consumer!
</idle musing>

Free! I'm free at last!

I just looked at my student loan balance:

Past due amount: $0.00
Late fee(s): N/A
Other charges: N/A
Present amount due: $0.00
Pay this amount: $0.00

In fact, they owe me $1.54.

Outstanding principal balance: $-1.54
Accrued interest: $0.00
Total amount outstanding: $-1.54

The original loan was consolidated in early 1989, to be paid back by 2019. Ten years early! Praise God for his faithfulness in allowing us to pay it off 10 years early.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming...

The sinlessness of Jesus

I just received four new books from Paternoster and was glancing through them. This little snippet from Tempted for Us caught my eye. From the conclusion:

I have argued that the humanness of Jesus’ sinlessness makes him richly relevant for us. Jesus’ reliance on empowering grace is more plausible than relying on inherent deity because this explanation fits the New Testament accounts of his temptations and his practical value as the reasonable pattern for others (with his full, credible empathy). Because Jesus has redeemed his people from slavery to sin and sent them the Holy Spirit, believers stand in nearly the same relation to temptation as Jesus had with the same empowering grace available to enable their faithful obedience to God. Thus, the empowering grace that was effective for his victories over temptation seems to be the same help of the Holy Spirit that is promised for believers. The Holy Spirit’s role in the hypostatic union enabled God the Son to enter temptation as a man because he was kept from knowing for certain he was immune to sin. God’s provision of aid for Jesus allowed him to experience temptation in a way that constituted him empathetic for others who must struggle in the same human terms that he did. The model of his life for others is as a peer, not merely as the ideal because he limited himself to the resources that God likewise makes available to Jesus’ followers. His empathy is credible because the transcendent security of his sinlessness was inevitable but not automatic. Jesus had to fight sin on the same basis that we do.—page 315

<idle musing>
The empowering presence of God via the Holy Spirit. Amazing, isn't it? We sell God so short and don't allow him to do all he wants in our lives.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Humanity's role in the world

Yesterday I quoted from The Lost World of Genesis One about God's role in the world. Today, let's look at humanity's role:

In the ancient Near East people were created as slaves to the gods. The world was created by the gods for the gods, and people met the needs of the gods. In the Bible God has no needs, and his cosmic temple has been created for people whom he desires to be in relationship with him. In modern materialism people are nothing but physical forms having no function other than to survive. The theology of Genesis 1 is crucial to a right understanding of our identity and our place in the world.—The Lost World of Genesis One, page 149

<idle musing>
Our theology has a direct effect on how we live. Actually, our theology dictates how we live. I'm not talking about our espoused theology, but our actual one. People can talk a nice theology, but looking at their lives will show you what their actual theology is. As a theology professor once said, “Everyone has a theology. The only choice is between a good theology and a bad theology.”

Personally, I want to live a theology that reflects a belief in a transcendent God who is also intimate, loving, caring, and life transforming. I believe that is also a biblical theology.
</idle musing>

Programs, etc.

From Alan Knox's blog

Many groups of believers today are more dependent upon leadership, training, programs, buildings, finances, etc. than they are dependent upon the work of God through the Holy Spirit. Many believers today are more dependent on good business practices than they are dependent on the Holy Spirit.

If removing leadership or programs or buildings or finances or anything else would cause believers to stop meeting together, stop disciplining one another, stop growing spiritually, then that group of believers is not depending on God.

He then quotes from A.W. Tozer:

We in the churches seem unable to rise above the fiscal philosophy which rules the business world; so we introduce into our church finances the psychology of the great secular institutions so familiar to us all and judge a church by its financial report much as we judge a bank or a department store.

A look into history will quickly convince any interested person that the true church has almost always suffered more from prosperity than from poverty. Her times of greatest spiritual power have usually coincided with her periods of indigence and rejection; with wealth came weakness and backsliding. If this cannot be explained, neither apparently can it be escaped.

<idle musing>
Sad, isn't it? We need to live in such a way that if the Holy Spirit were to withdraw his presence, the whole thing would collapse. He doesn't need structures, programs, committees; he just needs a willing and open heart.
</idle musing>

You gotta be kidding me...

I just saw this:

"Three Amazon inventors set out to correct what they felt was a real problem: that 'out-of-print or rare books ... typically do not include advertisements ... the content is fixed and, therefore, has not been adapted to modern marketing.' Their solution is spelled out in newly-disclosed Amazon patent applications for On-Demand Generating E-Book Content with Advertising and Incorporating Advertising in On-Demand Generated Content."

<idle musing>
That is just plain crazy! As if we aren't subjected to enough marketing already! Greed, greed, greed! Let's call it what it is: SIN.
</idle musing>

Monday, July 06, 2009

God's role in the world

“Our scientific worldview has gradually worked God out of the practical ways in which we think about our world. When science can offer explanation for so much of what we see and experience, it is easy for our awareness of God's role to drift to the periphery. It is not that we believe any less that he is active, it is just that we are not as conscious of his role. The result is a practical (if not philosophical) deism in which God is removed from the arena of operations.

“In contrast, when God's work is fully integrated with our scientific worldview and science is seen to give definition to what God is doing and how he is doing it, we regain a more biblical perspective of the work—a perspective that is theologically healthier.”—The Lost World of Genesis One, page 143

<idle musing>
I am convinced that most christians are practicing atheists; they don't believe that God can do anything in their daily lives. Walton pinpoints one of the reasons here; science explains it, so we don't need a god. Blasphemy! God's role in creation is intimate and moment-by-moment; as Paul says in Acts, “In him we live and move and have our being.” And, as it says in Hebrews, “He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power” (Heb rews1:3 RSV), just to name two references in scripture. God is not part of creation, but he is intimately involved in it—and in our lives.
</idle musing>

Yogurt, Rhubarb sauce and jam

What do all three of these have in common? Only that I made them this weekend.

Renee gave me a good yogurt recipe over a year ago, but it is a bit thin for my liking. Theoretically, European yogurt is thinner than U.S. yougurt, but I'm not so sure. When I was in the Netherlands, the place I stayed in Leiden had wonderful yogurt for breakfast every morning; it was nice and thick—anybody know the truth to that rumor? Anyway, I digress. A while ago a friend of ours (that's you, Jim), mentioned that he had seen a recipe for yogurt that was thicker and used powdered milk. Once upon a time, I had such a recipe, but it got lost in all of our moves. So, I tried it last weekend. Still too thin, and too sour (in all fairness, I didn't follow his recipe exactly). So, Saturday I doubled the powdered milk and halved the starter. To add to the fun, I labeled the three jars 4, 5, and 6. The numbers are the time I let them incubate; I wondered if the time incubating would affect the flavor.

Yesterday I tried them. The texture was nice and thick; the flavor of all three of them was great. I added a bit of strawberry jam—perfect snack! Want the recipe? Too bad, you're going to get it anyway :)
1 quart milk (I use 2%)
2/3 cup powdered milk
2 Tablespoons starter (I use Dannon™, but that was about 6 months ago, now I just use a bit of the old yogurt)

Scald the milk, add the powdered dry milk, stir. Lower the temperature of the mixture in a cold water bath until it is about 120-125 degrees. Add 1/4 cup of the mixture to the 2 T of starter, mix thoroughly and add back to the main mixture. Decant into 3 pint jars; put the lids on.

Place the jars in a small cooler, pour 125 degree water over them until they are about 1/2-2/3 covered. Close the lid and let them incubate for 4-6 hours. Remove the jars, cool and eat. The yogurt cultures stay active for about 3 weeks, so you can keep using a bit of them as starter for the next batch.

What about the rhubarb? I had never made rhubarb jam before; my mom's mom used to, but that was when I was a kid. We have rhubarb in our garden, so I figured I would give it a try. First I made rhubarb sauce (just water and diced rhubarb; simmer until it disintegrates, add sugar to taste), about 3 quarts worth. I put 2 quarts in jars and will eat it as sauce. The third quart I made jam out of, very easy. Add sugar to taste—I like mine tarter than most, so I only added about 1.5 cups for the 3 quarts. Add the no-sugar dry pectin and stir. Decant into half-pint jars. It makes about 7 jars. I gave some to Debbie (she doesn't normally like rhubarb), and she decided it was good enough to eat. Now I just have to make more to last the winter...

Friday, July 03, 2009

The lesson of Job

"God in his wisdom has done things in the way that he has. We cannot stand in judgment of that, and we cannot expect to understand it all. We can still explore the what and the how questions, but the why will always lie beyond our understanding and beyond our models. Relative to God, as humans we are by definition simplistic. We must also remember some of the key lessons of Scripture. In our weakness he is strong. He can use suffering to strengthen our character. He can use evil to accomplish good (precisely the nature of the discussion in the book of Habakkuk). God's sovereignty is demonstrated in that whatever personal or nonpersonal agents do, God takes it and turns it to his purpose."—The Lost World of Genesis One, page 134 (italics his).

<idle musing>
This is not a cop-out; it is a statement of fact. We are created, finite beings. God is infinite and uncreated. All of our models are missing something, simply because we are finite. Why then, are we surprised when our models fail? We can't even predict the weather accurately an hour in advance; how can we expect to explain creation?
</idle musing>

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Monthly sale at Eisenbrauns

How about a new sale? New month, new sale...Here's what we have to offer this month, ripped directly from BookNews:

BookNews from Eisenbrauns

Every few years we get permission from Ugarit Verlag to run a 40%
sale on some of their titles. This is the year, and July is the
month. For the entire month, you can save 40% on 25 AOAT titles
and 5 AVO titles. Titles are sorted by AOAT volume number, with
AVO titles following, also by number.

As always, all sales on this web sale are final; no returns will be
permitted. Offer good only on orders placed at
through July 31, 2009.

To easily access all the sale items, please visit:
"Religion und Gesellschaft, Volume 1: Studien zu ihrer Wechselbeziehung
in den Kulturen des Antiken Vorderen Orients"
Edited by Rainer Albertz
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 248
Ugarit-Verlag, 1997. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3927120545
List Price: $45.50 Your Price: $27.30

""Und Mose Schrieb dieses Lied auf": Studien zum Alten Testament
and zum Alten Orient: Festschrift fur Oswald Loretz (70)"
Edited by Manfried Dietrich and Ingo Kottsieper
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 250
Ugarit-Verlag, 1998. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 392712060X
List Price: $117.00 Your Price: $70.20

"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, 1998. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3927120472
List Price: $62.50 Your Price: $37.50

"Assyriologica et Semitica: Festschrift fur Joachim Oelsner
anlasslich seines 65, Geburtstages am 18 Februar 1997"
Edited by Joachim Marzahn and H. Neumann
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 252
Ugarit-Verlag, 2000. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3927120626
List Price: $105.00 Your Price: $63.00

"Der Tempelzehnt in Babylonien vom siebenten
bis zum dritten Jahrhundert v. Chr."
by Michael Jursa
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 254
Ugarit-Verlag, 1998. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3927120596
List Price: $43.50 Your Price: $26.10

"Die kasuistische Rechtssammlung im Bundesbuch (Ex 21:2-11; 18-22:16):
und ihr literarischer Kontext im Licht altorientalischer Parallelen"
by R. Rothenbusch
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 259
Ugarit-Verlag, 2000. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3927120677
List Price: $98.00 Your Price: $58.80

"A Syntactical Study of Verbal Forms Affixed by -n(n) Endings in
Classical Arabic, Biblical Hebrew, El-Amarna, Akkadian and Ugaritic"
by Tamar Zewi
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 260
Ugarit-Verlag, 1999. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 3927120715
List Price: $49.50 Your Price: $29.70

"Die Bildersprache der akkadischen Epik"
by Michael P. Streck
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 264
Ugarit-Verlag, 1999. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3927120774
List Price: $63.50 Your Price: $38.10

"Der Fernhandel des assyrischen Reiches
zwischen dem 14. und 11. Jh v. Chr."
by Betina Faist
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 265
Ugarit-Verlag, 2001. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3927120790
List Price: $71.00 Your Price: $42.60

"Ein assyrisches Bildexperiment nach agyptischem Vorbild:
Zu Planung und Ausfuhrung der Schlacht am Ulai"
by Oskar Kaelin
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 266
Ugarit-Verlag, 1999. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3927120804
List Price: $50.50 Your Price: $30.30

"Munuscula Mesopotamica: Festschrift fur Johannes Renger"
Edited by Barbara Bock, E. Cancik-Kirschbaum, and Thomas Richter
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 267
Ugarit-Verlag, 1999. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3927120812
List Price: $128.50 Your Price: $77.10

"Studien zu den ugaritischen Texten, volume 1: Mythos und
Ritual in KTU 1.12, 1.24, 1.96, 1.100 und 1.114"
by Manfried Dietrich and Oswald Loretz
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 269/1
Ugarit-Verlag, 2000. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3927120847
List Price: $82.00 Your Price: $49.20

"Variatio Delectat: Iran und der Westen
Gedenkschrift fur Peter Calmeyer"
Edited by Reinhard Dittmann
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 272
Ugarit-Verlag, 2000. Cloth. German, French, and English.
ISBN: 3927120898
List Price: $112.00 Your Price: $67.20

"Hymnen und Klagelieder in sumerischer Sprache"
by W.H.Ph. Roemer
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 276
Ugarit-Verlag, 2001. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3927120944
List Price: $65.00 Your Price: $39.00

"Polygynie in Mesopotamien und Israel: Sozialgeschichtliche
Analyse polygamer Beziehungen anhand rechtlicher Texte aus
dem 2. und 1. Jahrtausend v. Chr."
by Corinna Friedl
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 277
Ugarit-Verlag, 2000. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3927120952
List Price: $61.00 Your Price: $36.60

"Tempora in altbabylonischen literarischen Texten"
by Kai Alexander Metzler
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 279
Ugarit-Verlag, 2002. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3934628036
List Price: $107.00 Your Price: $64.20

"Prophetie und Psalmen: Festchrift fur Klaus Seybold zum 65"
Edited by Beat Huwyler, H.-P. Mathys, and B. Weber
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 280
Ugarit-Verlag, 2001. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 9783934628014
List Price: $69.00 Your Price: $41.40

"Bildhafte Herrschaftsreprasentation im eisenzeitlichen Israel"
by Rudiger Schmitt
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 283
Ugarit-Verlag, 2001. . German.
ISBN: 3934628052
List Price: $59.00 Your Price: $35.40

"Die Palastwirtschaft in Altsyrien nach den spataltbabylonischen
Getreidelieferlisten aus Alalah (Schicht VII)"
by Frank Zeeb
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 282
Ugarit-Verlag, 2001. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3934628060
List Price: $98.00 Your Price: $58.80

"Sources for Ugaritic Ritual and Sacrifice, Volume 1:
Ugaritic and Ugarit Akkadian Texts"
by David M. Clemens
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 284
Ugarit-Verlag, 2001. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 3934628079
List Price: $126.00 Your Price: $75.60

"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, 2001. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3934628087
List Price: $69.00 Your Price: $41.40

"Die Fortfuhrung des Imperativs im Biblischen Hebraisch"
by Johannes Diehl
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 286
Ugarit-Verlag, 2004. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3934628192
List Price: $101.00 Your Price: $60.60

"Gotter - Ahnen - Konige als gerechte Richter: Der "Rechsfall"
des Menschen vor Gott nach altorientalischen und biblischen Texten"
by Oswald Loretz
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 290
Ugarit-Verlag, 2003. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3934628184
List Price: $153.00 Your Price: $91.80

"Textarbeit: Studien zu Texten und ihrer Rezeption aus dem Alten
Testament und der Umwelt Israels: Festschrift fur Peter Weimar
zur Vollendung seines 60. Lebensjahres mit Beitragen
von Freunden, Schulern und Kollegen"
Edited by Klaus Kiesow and Thomas Meurer
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 294
Ugarit-Verlag, 2003. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3934628230
List Price: $140.00 Your Price: $84.00

"Die Omnipotenz Assurs: Entwicklungen in der Assur-Theologie unter
den Sargoniden Sargon II., Sanherib und Asarhaddon"
by Galo W. Vera Chamaza
Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 295
Ugarit-Verlag, 2002. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3934628249
List Price: $97.00 Your Price: $58.20

"Beschreiben & Deuten in der Archaologie des Alten Orients: Festschrift
fur Ruth Mayer-Opificius mit Beitragen von Freunden und Schulern"
Edited by Manfried Dietrich and Oswald Loretz
Altertumskunde des Vorderen Orients - AVO 4
Ugarit-Verlag, 1994. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3927120189
List Price: $61.00 Your Price: $36.60

"Figurlich verzierte Metallgefasse aus Nordund Nordwestiran"
by Ulrike Low
Altertumskunde des Vorderen Orients - AVO 6
Ugarit-Verlag, 1998. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3927120340
List Price: $135.00 Your Price: $81.00

"Keramik der Fruhbronzezeit in Anatoline mit 'syrischen Affinitaten'"
by Estaf Abay
Altertumskunde des Vorderen Orients - AVO 8
Ugarit-Verlag, 1997. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3927120588
List Price: $120.00 Your Price: $72.00

"Die Siedlungsarchitektur auf der Halbinsel Oman vom 3.
bis zur Mitte des 1. Jahrtausends v. Chr."
by Jurgen Schreiber
Altertumskunde des Vorderen Orients - AVO 9
Ugarit-Verlag, 1998. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3927120618
List Price: $55.00 Your Price: $33.00

"Die Entstehung regionaler staatlicher Siedlungsstrukturen
im Bereich des prahistorischen Zagros-Gebirges: Eine Analyse
von Siedlungsverteilungen in der Susiana und im Kur-Flussbecken"
by Christian Grewe
Altertumskunde des Vorderen Orients - AVO 11
Ugarit-Verlag, 2002. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 3934628044
List Price: $142.00 Your Price: $85.20

Insight for the day

"The ancients were not inclined to distinguish between primary and secondary causation, and everything was attributed to deity."The Lost World of Genesis One, page 115

<idle musing>
Yep. Whenever I explain this to people, it seems a light bulb goes on inside their heads. Things make sense that didn't before.
</idle musing>

A sad CD

Peter Kirk tells us of a CD with lyrics to songs as they are too commonly practiced:

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

More thoughts on Genesis 1

"Concordist approaches, day-age readings, literary or theological interpretation all struggle with the same basic problem. They are still working with the premise that Genesis 1 is an account of material origins for an audience that has a material ontology. Modern inability to think in any other way has resulted in recourse to all of this variety of attempts to make the text tolerable to our scientific naturalism and materialism."—The Lost World of Genesis One, pages 106-107

"...This book has proposed, instead, that Genesis 1 was never intended to offer an account of material origins and that the original author and audience did not view it that way. In fact, the material cosmos was of little significance to them when it came to questions of origins. In this view, science cannot offer an unbiblical view of material origins, because there is no biblical view of material origins aside from the very general idea that whatever happened, whenever it happened, and however it happened, God did it."—The Lost World of Genesis One, page 113

<idle musing>
The key to the whole book: "whatever happened, whenever it happened, and however it happened, God did it" Amen to that!
</idle musing>

Is this for real?

I just received an advertisement that I couldn't believe. This is only the middle section of the web page; seems they put it into multiple images. Follow the link to see it in all it's glory:

What? Does that strike anyone else as bad theology? "No Trespassing"?! You've gotta be kidding...

Of course, there is a disclaimer:

The Developer, manufacturer,designer and seller of the BELIEVER SIGN neither confirms or denies that this sign will offer any form of protection from theft, fire damage, water damage or any other damage. The intent of the sign is for decorative purposes. The seller, designer, developer and manufacturer is not responsible for any bodily harm that may take place for improper use of the sign.