Monday, November 30, 2009
What's with this sign?
The first time I saw it, I thought I was in the women's restroom...
The building and its effects
Which results in the dichotomy of secular and sacred. A classic example is the cabbie in my preceding post. I'm sure he didn't see the disconnect between his actions and the music; he probably is a good churchgoer and thinks of himself as a good christian.
SBL, the return flight
Because we got done so early, we had quite a bit of time at the airport, so we had one last New Orleans lunch. I really do like New Orleans food; I like spicy foods. So we waited for our flight, some of us reading, others knitting, others napping (or napping while reading...), some trying to make the wireless work (it was free, and worth every penny of it, but no more than that...). Then comes the lovely news that because of a glitch with Airtran, our flight to Atlanta was delayed ½ hour and our flight out of Atlanta was delayed a full hour. We were already getting into Indianapolis at 11:15 or so; now it would be about 12:15. From Indianapolis to Warsaw in about 2.5-3 hours; can you say tired?
The flight to Atlanta was without incident, but once we got there, the gates had all changed. No problem, except that our flight was sharing a gate with another flight. Talk about confusion. One person missed their flight; I think she ended up spending the night in Atlanta. Our plane was on the ground and waiting for us, but we couldn't embark; the flight attendants were still in the air on a different flight. Ah, the joys of air transportation: crowded flights, tight security, getting charged for luggage, late flights, should I continue?
Anyway, when the flight attendants came rushing up, there was a round of applause. They missed the irony, but I can't blame them. They probably wanted to get going as badly as we did. We embarked and left Atlanta behind on our way to Indy, arriving about 12:15. Disembarking, we headed for the baggage claim; we could still get home at a fairly reasonable time—NOT! We watched as another flight's luggage was unloaded within 5 minutes of their landing. We, on the other hand, waited for our luggage to be unloaded for 45 minutes! No explanation was given; we just had to wait. In the end, we arrived home after 4:00 AM EST. Our return trip had taken us more than 13 hours...needless to say, none of us were at work at 8:00 that morning :(
ἐν παντὶ εὐχαριστεῖτε· τοῦτο γὰρ θέλημα θεοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ εἰς ὑμᾶς. (I Thes. 5:18)
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (NRSV)
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
SBL Day 4 and return
It was interesting to watch the response as people came in. Even though the prices were identical, people would grab a book and possessively hold it while looking at the next book. The attitude around the table was also less relaxed and more tense. Interesting, isn't it? I'm not sure I will do it again; I don't like the selfish attitude that it surfaced, but interesting, all the same.
Because I had a head start on tear down, we got done about 1/2 hour earlier than usual. So, we grabbed a cab—actually two—and headed to the airport. Getting the cab was an interesting experience. I'll post pictures on Monday and continue; right now they are cutting off the Internet to update the firewall...
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The purpose of the law
This is very hard to get some people to understand. They feel certain that without the law to keep them in line, they will wander. Why don't they understand that the law can't keep them from straying? (honest question)
Monday, November 23, 2009
God is good--to me
“Sure, we may know that God is good. But “God is always good to me” is an altogether different thought...”—The Naked Gospel, page 195
This is a really interesting idea; I need to think about it.
SBL Day 3
I must say that the conference feels about 20% smaller this year. There is less of a buzz around the conference hotels and the the exhibit floor seems less crowded. But, we're still selling books at a good clip, for which I am thankful.
Monday night is always our Eisenbrauns dinner. The dinner always happens the last night and is a chance to reflect on what has happened, what we would do differently, what we would do the same, and what we've learned about the industry. During the conference we are so busy and running in different directions that we don't always have a chance to keep up with each other, so this is a good chance to do that. Oh, and the food is always excellent. Tonight was no exception. I can't remember the name of the place, but it was on Dauphine street, about 3 blocks in. Good food, good company, good year at SBL.
Here's some pictures of the booth:
Gina, getting ready for the day
A view of the new release tables
Your friendly Eisenbrauns staff (from right to left: Dave, Marti, Gina, yours truly) (Merna is taking the picture)
Sunday, November 22, 2009
SBL days 1 & 2
We have a lot of new books this year, and are almost sold out of A Manual of Ugaritic; there aren't a lot of A Syriac Lexicon left, either. We're totally out of The Ideology of the Book of Chronicles and Its Place in Biblical Thought. It seems I never bring enough of some titles, and too many of others. If only I could read the minds of our customers and bring all the right books!
Saturday night I made it to a few receptions: the SPS/WTS, Augsburg/Fortress, and de Gruyter. Tonight (Sunday), I managed to find a bit of floor space to hear N.T. Wright speak. After the question and answer section, two of us stood around and talked theology for about an hour before I headed off to the Brill reception. Now, I'm ready for sleep...tomorrow comes early.
Speaking of which, the number of people in the workout room the last two days is zero. Yes, a goose egg; nada; zilch. I noticed that at a conference earlier this year; the attendance to a workout routine seems to have been one of the victims of the economic downturn. Never mind that it doesn't cost anything; the right way to assist in the economy is to stop exercising. I know, it doesn't make any sense, but that's what I have seen this year in my travels.
Friday, November 20, 2009
But it's sounds so touchy-feely...
“God doesn’t override us. However, God hasn’t left us to our own devices to cope with life and be godly. Either of these extremes can harm our understanding of the gospel. God wants us to know that his Son works in us, through us, and alongside us since we’re spiritually joined to him. Having Christ live through us begins with knowing that his life resides in us.
“In all of this, we’re talking about a knowing, not a feeling.”—The Naked Gospel, page 194
We were discussing this concept of Christ in us with some friends once. The comment was that it sounded like you do whatever you feel like, it's too "touchy-feely" and not rational enough. But, as Farley points out, that's not true.
SBL day -1
We have 6 booths at SBL this year and have rearranged our floor plan to give us more space for books. I think you'll like it. We also have a new back drop behind our checkout this year. I posted a picture of it below. It contains over 160,000 book covers; Andy had to split it into 5 different files to keep his computer from crashing.
Setup went amazingly well, considering that at first there were only two of us instead of the normal four. Marti was stuck in Indianapolis overnight because of the FAA computer screw-up; Dave was tending ETS so I could do SBL setup. That left Gina and me. I don't know why, but it seemed to go faster this year. By the time Marti rolled in a little after 10 (she had a 6:00 AM flight!), we already had the backdrapes up, the tables draped, the posters up, and we were ready to work on books and the Skyline. I had already made one trip to ASOR for stuff we needed and had transferred some stock from ASOR to ETS as well—I was sure loving that the three conferences are only 2 blocks apart this year!
By 2:00, Jim had delivered all the ASOR stock and was helping Dave inventory and box the ETS produce. When Jim had to leave for a meeting around 3:00, I took over. We were completely done with setup by a little after 4:00—an amazing accomplishment! If we hadn't needed to inventory and move the ETS stuff, we would have been done even earlier. I don't know what was happening, but I sure am thankful!
Here's some pictures of the setup:
Gina, putting together book risers
David Orton of Deo (we distribute Deo in North America)
Gina and Marti setting up the rest of the Skyline display
Putting the finishing touches on the Carta posters
Thursday, November 19, 2009
ETS day 2
I managed to get around to a few other vendor's booths today. There's some good stuff out there. I grabbed a copy of The Faith of Jesus Christ: at the Hendrickson booth. It was just published, even though our website says January. It looks very good; I can't wait to read it. While at the Hendrickson booth, I got a copy of another Michael Bird book, also just published: Crossing Over Sea and Land:. Good reading ahead!
Well, tomorrow I head over to SBL right across the street for setup. The FAA mess this AM really has caused problems for us. Marti got stuck in Indianapolis until 6 AM tomorrow. At least Gina got out; she just arrived about an hour ago. If Dave hadn't come yesterday, it would be a real mess; Dave will man the ETS booth while Gina and I do setup and pray that Marti gets in on time!
OK, time for dinner. I'm getting hungry.
Just live, will ya...
“Today’s alternative is a message that’s an inaccurate part of the whole. All around us, we’re inundated with a lackluster gospel that advocates partial forgiveness, a pressure-filled motivation for behavior change, and the promise of earned rewards in heaven or a cash return while on earth. This counterfeit is the reason that the church sometimes doesn’t appear much different from the world. It’s time for us to start over, if necessary, and seek the real thing.
“Jesus Christ in us as our resource for everyday life is our only hope for any real change.”—The Naked Gospel, page 192
“Of course, sometimes we still turn dependency on the indwelling Christ into an opportunity to self-examine and introspect. And this isn’t any better than any other religious move: 'Am I abiding? What do I need to do to abide better?'
“The term abide, I’ve noticed, is often used by those who seek something to do in order to maintain the reality of Christ living through them. The word abide simply means “to live,” and Christ already lives in Christians! Some have made it out to be something beyond what Jesus intended it to be. Christ abiding in us is a truth, not a command for us to keep up our end of some bargain. Of course there are moment-by-moment choices to walk by faith, but the religion of “I must get Christ to abide in me” is a self-focus that is not the intention of the New.”—The Naked Gospel, page 193
Yep, he's right
...since Americans don’t really believe the Bible, oh, they say they do, but they don’t lay hands on the sick or cast out demons or any of that other stuff that Jesus was always telling his disciples to do, so they get these weird peripheral applications out of Bible texts.
Read the whole thing for the context, otherwise you will miss the whole point. He isn't talking about charismata, he is talking about worldview. And, he's right.
What is in that box?
The breakfast is sorta ok. The eggs are powdered, the potatoes are reconstituted—fairly typical hotel fair. They do have fresh fruit, bagels, yogurt, juice, etc. So, you can get a decent breakfast; it's just that the hot part is disgusting :(
But, that is all an aside from the point of this post. For the last two mornings, as is my wont, I went up to the exercise room at about 6:00 AM for my morning 1/2 hour of cycling. Both mornings, there was another gentleman there before me. Yesterday he was finishing up his run on the treadmill, after which he went over to the weight machine. Only, he didn't do anything except sit there with his eyes glued to a box that was elevated about 6 feet off the floor. He sat that way, as if transfixed, for about 20 minutes, occasionally lifting a few weights. Then, he suddenly got up, as if released from a trance, and left the room.
This morning, he was already done with the treadmill and was sitting by the weight machine already. Again, he was sitting, as if spellbound, looking at that same box, elevated about 6 feet above the ground. And, just like yesterday, after about 20 minutes he suddenly got up and left the room.
This box has noise coming out of it, and characters that look like people moving around on it. I think some people call it a television. So, what is in that box that kept him so mesmerized?
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Live what you already are in Christ. Don't wait for death to experience the rest of God.
ETS day one
We had sent a backup shipment of newly published books to the hotel, so I had to run back and forth with a two-wheeler from one hotel to the other. It was a beautiful night, so that wasn't too burdensome. But, UPS managed to misplace 3 boxes. Unfortunately those boxes contained Siphrut 1 & (A Severe Mercy and Chosen and Unchosen). Not a good thing :(
The day started out slow, but got busier as it went on. In the end, we had a good day actually selling out of a few titles. Here's a picture or two:
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
and they're off!
I am attending ETS; Jim and Merna are taking care of ASOR. So, if you are attending either one of those, come by and see us. We won't even make you buy a book! But, I bet you will; we have some great titles this year and, as always, some great deals. I will be posting pictures tomorrow, as well as commentary on the conferences.
“Notice that the apostle doesn’t say that Christ is important to him. He says that “to live is Christ.” Paul is not trying to give Christ a proper place among other things. Instead, he is recognizing the fact that Christ is everything to him. We may nod our heads in agreement, saying, “Yes, Christ is everything to me.” But do we grasp the truth that Christ resides just beneath our humanity? That he is actually fused to our own person? Here Paul captures our attention with some radical statements:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
“Paul claims that he participated in a crucifixion of sorts, and as a result Christ now lives in him. Many people make this claim out to be either symbolic if true or insane and untrue. But to claim anything short of this is to adopt a partial gospel. The very core of the New is that through Christ we receive what we lost through Adam, namely, the literal presence of the divine.
“This is real Christianity. A promise of heaven is not restoration of life. Studying a book written by God himself is still not restoration of life. Attending weekly gatherings in a building is not restoration of life. Even changing one’s behavior in dramatic ways is not restoration of life. Of course, these things may result from restoration of life. But they’re certainly not the means to life, nor are they a confirmation of the experience of life. Restoration of life occurs when God himself, through the person of Christ, resides within us.
“Anything short of this is weak religiosity.”—The Naked Gospel, page 189
Yes! Real-life Christianity today! Not just in the future, but now! Life that is alive and moment-by-moment dependence on Christ via the Holy Spirit. No more partial gospel (Debbie calls it a decapitated gospel), but full restoration in Christ.
Monday, November 16, 2009
I am always trying to get more whole grains into my baked goods, so back in January I tried substituting whole wheat flour for the unbleached flour in cornbread. It was a failure; the taste of the whole wheat overpowered the cornmeal—yes, this is about successes, hold on :) Well, Saturday, I decided to try dark rye flour instead of unbleached flour. It looked pretty strange going into the pan; it was very dark and almost playdough™-ish in texture. I wasn't too hopeful...25 minutes later, out comes this nicely dark, slightly risen pan of batter bread. I put the knife in to cut it, pulled out a piece, letting it cool for a few seconds before tasting it. Hey! It was pretty good; in fact it was so good that I'm going to make it that way all the time. Well, for visitors I might make it with unbleached flour so they don't freak out at the dark color :)
Second experiment: I thought that since that turned out, maybe I could go with a rye only rye bread. I know, there isn't much gluten in rye flour, almost none, in fact. But, maybe...well, I should have stopped at the kneading stage. It had a very strange texture and didn't get springy at all. But, hey, what have I got to lose? I let it rise, and rise, and rise. Right, it didn't! Oh well, maybe it will still make a loaf that is edible. So, I formed the loaf and let it rise, only it didn't. That's all right, I'll bake it anyway. It might make a nice solid loaf, sort of like a cracker. Thirty-five minutes later, not done. Let's give it another 10 minutes. OK, the edges are starting to burn, better take it out. This, my dear reader, was a complete flop. It is finding its way into the compost pile.
Somewhat discouraged, but not to be deterred, I decided to use whole wheat flour instead of the unbleached flour in the rye bread. Hmm, it feels more normal as I knead it. It actually rose, although not as much as normal. It formed a nice loaf, and then rose again. Thirty-five minutes later and I had a very nice, although dense, loaf of rye bread. Ah, but will it taste like rye bread? Nope! It tasted like whole wheat bread. But wait! As it cooled, it began to taste like rye bread. Maybe there's hope...sure enough. Once it was cool it tasted like rye bread, just very dark. Success! But a few hours later...how much fiber is in that monster? Too much! Intestinal problems...I don't think I'll try that one again!
Oh, did I mention that I had just eaten whole wheat waffles an hour before the rye bread? Maybe it isn't the rye bread alone...
The advantages of being chosen
“To be sure, there are benefits to being specially loved and blessed by God, yet it becomes clear throughout the biblical story that the people of Israel are often less than excited about their special relationship to YHWH. They are led into a wilderness, encounter lack of water and food, and often complain that it was better to be slaves under Pharaoh. While we might be quick to condemn Israel in this, it may also be instructive simply to allow the story to communicate what it does. Israel did not find it being a possession of YHWH particularly easy or advantageous. By and large, the people of Israel do not seem to recognize the gift that YHWH is giving to them because their life now has very high expectations...Life would probably be easier without such obligations. To maintain otherwise reads against the thrust of the story as the Bible presents it.”—Chosen and Unchosen, page 173
Sounds only too familiar, doesn't it? As long as we think we have to maintain the obligations, it is way too difficult.
Friday, November 13, 2009
“Growth doesn’t happen by trying harder. It doesn’t occur by a “two steps forward and one step back” approach. Genuine growth occurs as we absorb truth about who we already are and what we already possess in Christ.
“Believers shouldn’t passively sit around waiting to receive something new — more cleansing, more of the Holy Spirit, or more of whatever popular teaching says is lacking in us. We have everything we need for a godly life. We have an unshakable kingdom, an eternal covenant, and every spiritual blessing. We are complete and lack nothing. The only logical response is to spend our lives reminding each other of these extraordinary truths and giving thanks to our God.
“Requesting and possessing are polar opposites. Once a person is in Christ, they are a possessor, not a requester. We see this point illustrated in the Lord’s Supper. We shouldn’t participate in this celebration in order to obtain something. Instead, we are to celebrate the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Jesus Christ. Just as this celebration is based solely on the work of Christ, we should conduct all of our business in the light of what he has already done.
“To thank God for every spiritual blessing and then to ask him for more patience, for example, is to ignore Christ within us. Isn’t patience part of what we need for a godly life? Do we have all the patience we need already implanted within us or don’t we? Through the Scriptures, God answers this question with a resounding yes. Because we possess Christ himself, and since Christ is not lacking in patience, we already have all we need.”—The Naked Gospel, pages 187-188
Review of Chosen and Unchosen
Chosen and Unchosen
Conceptions of Election in the Pentateuch and Jewish-Christian Interpretation
Siphrut: Literature and Theology of the Hebrew Scriptures 2
by Joel N. Lohr
xviii + 254 pages, English
Cloth, 6 x 9 inches
List Price: $39.50
Your Price: $35.55
Chosen and Unchosen is the second book in the new Eisenbrauns series Siphrut: Literature and Theology of the Hebrew Scriptures. The book is a revision of Lohr's doctoral dissertation, but it doesn't suffer from dissertationitis—the tendency to footnote every other word and repeat the same thing 27 times. Indeed, it is a good read, although slow going at times because of the content.
The book is divided into two sections: section one (about 1/3 of the book) is devoted to an overview of Christian and Jewish work on election in the last 50 years. The second section is a close reading of four sections of the Pentateuch where the chosen encounter the unchosen. Lohr chose the Abimelech/Abraham story, Pharaoh's daughter, Balaam, and Deuteronomy 4, 7, and 10, which features the herem, or ban.
The section on Pharaoh's daughter saving Moses is a textbook example of what a close reading should look like. Lohr picks up details that most interpreters miss; the story is richer after reading Lohr's exposition.
Balaam has suffered some bad press in the history of interpretation, including inner-biblical interpretation. Lohr seeks to read the Numbers account of Balaam on it's own terms, ignoring the later interpretation as much as possible. The result is a prophet who knew and feared God; a prophet who dared to stand up against a king and bless Israel when he had every reason not to. If we did not know the later history of Balaam, how he ended up betraying Israel into sin, we would never guess that he would die the death he did at the hands of Israel. I would say that this is the strongest section of the book and worth the cost of the book by itself. I will never read the Balaam story in Numbers the same.
Turning to Deuteronomy, Lohr confronts the issue of herem head-on. While you have to admire someone who is willing to take on the challenge of explaining herem (the ban) and trying to understand it, it still is less than satisfying. Despite an excursus and an appendix, I felt like he could have said more. Lohr himself admits that herem makes no sense to the modern mind. In my opinion, this is the weakest chapter. I would like to have seen him develop Deuteronomy 10 further, with the stranger dwelling among Israel and how that affects the unchosen theme. But, in the introduction he said this was but a first step in exploring the ramifications of being chosen and unchosen. As a first step, it is admirable.
On the whole, this book is well worth reading, especially the chapters on Pharaoh's daughter and Balaam. The weakest chapter, Deuteronomy, perhaps couldn't have been written any other way; there is just too much happening in Deuteronomy 10 to easily distill it down. Indeed, whole books have been written, and even they fail to do it justice.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Raised with Christ
“Too often, I see the church today functioning like any other morality-focused social group. It’s time for us to wake up and realize that being born of the Spirit means we possess an amazing life within us. Because we’re already different on the inside, we can live differently on the outside.”—The Naked Gospel, page 186
Yep. Dead, buried, raised, seated. I like that.
Interesting thought, isn't it? "The text" can be dangerous to our preconceptions, can't it?
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Slaves to whom?
I think this is something we forget; Paul talks about the same thing in the New Testament. We are not our own; we were bought with a price.
Americans don't like that kind of talk! We're "the land of the free" after all! Right...free to sin; free to be moody and mean; free to gossip and talk behind each others backs. Oops, that isn't sin anymore; we've defined it away—of course, that also means we don't need repentance anymore, nor a savior. Kinda lonely out there, isn't it, being your own savior and all?
Rewards or relationship?
“Paul urges believers to walk in a manner worthy of their calling (Ephesians 4:1). In Romans, he highlights the teaching that there’s no benefit to sin and that the outcome of those things is death (Romans 6:21 – 23). At no time are we told to live an upright life in order to garner a more righteous standing or to collect prizes in heaven. Quite the opposite! We’re urged to grasp an important spiritual truth: when we come to Jesus Christ, we receive his life. Through our expression of him, we find fulfillment.”—The Naked Gospel, page 182
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Hmmm...something to think about, isn't it? How much of our interpretation is based on modernist (and post-modernist), Aristotelian logic? Too much, I wager.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Chosen and Unchosen
I will be excerpting from Chosen and Unchosen this week and then post a brief (maybe!) review at the end.
Review of ZIBBCOT
The first thing I do when I get something like this is check the abbreviations section. That alone tells you a whole lot about what you will find in the text. The abbreviation section is 9 pages long, and covers just about every major journal and reference work in the field, not just English ones, either. Next, I checked the bibliography, or rather, bibliographies. There is a general bibliography, and each biblical book has an annotated bibliography at the end, before the endnotes for that section.
Having been thoroughly encouraged by what I found so far, I began looking over the individual sections. There is a main text, but also sidebars and charts. The sidebars highlight items in the main text that may need a bit more explanation or are translations of ANE texts that relate; they have their own set of endnotes. The main text follows a traditional commentary approach in that there are section headings with verse numbers. The difference is that, unlike a traditional commentary, the notes relate to cultural background—this is a Bible backgrounds commentary, after all :)
I have looked through Genesis quite closely, and some sections of Jeremiah. I have to say that this commentary is high quality. The contributors are first-rate scholars, and the sections they were assigned play to their strengths. For example, Leviticus is done by Roy Gane; if you can't get Milgrom (and he's Jewish, so you can't!), then the next best person is Gane. In fact, I think Gane is right in his correction of Milgrom's atonement theology.
While the commentary is unabashedly conservative Evangelical, it presents multiple sides to issues in a fair and balanced manner. The authors make their preferences known, but do so in a way that doesn't demean the other opinions—a definite plus, in my book.
So, what don't I like about the set? Basically, one thing. Endnotes. With modern typesetting/prepress software, there is no reason that endnotes should exist. I understand that in a work like this, which is aimed at multiple markets, the scholar and the interested lay person, that footnotes could be distracting. But, don't you think that people could ignore them if they don't want to read them? I hate having to keep a marker at the end of a book to flip back and forth all the time. Usually, what I do in a case like this is pre-read the endnotes; it isn't great, but at least I know when I hit a note what it is about. (Yes, I pre-read endnotes; I read dictionaries of the fun of it. I even read grammars of dead languages as a recreational activity! There's no hope for me...)
This is definitely a set worth owning if you are interested in the ancient Near East and how it intersects the biblical world. John Walton and all the contributors should be proud of the results. Now, excuse me, I'm going to go read some more in it...
Update, November 10: After an exchange of e-mails with John Walton, I have to agree with Zondervan's decision to go with endnotes. John's argument was that if they had used footnotes, on some pages over half would be notes. This would result in people being intimidated by it; they would think it was written strictly for a scholarly audience when it isn't. Consequently, they would put the book back on the shelf and walk away.
It's too bad this is true, but it is. As a marketer, I understand. As a (wanna be) scholar, it bothers me. But, the book is eminently readable and deserves to be read and used. I would have made the same decision, although reluctantly.
OK, I still have to put together a new 10-day sale and try to figure out why the Deal-of-the-day isn't coming out correctly...
Friday, November 06, 2009
“If there were no church buildings, no Bible studies, and no other saints on the planet, you’d still need eternal life. If you were stranded on a deserted island, you’d still need eternal life. The essence of the gospel meets that basic need. The fundamental promise within the New is divine life restored within humanity.”—The Naked Gospel, page 174
“Eternal life is Jesus’ life. Jesus declared himself to be “the resurrection and the life” and “the way and the truth and the life” (John 11:25; 14:6). He also stated, “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19). Clearly, our eternal life is tied up in him. Our new spiritual life is actually his life.
“So we don’t have a spiritual gift package awaiting us in heaven. We have Jesus Christ in us right now. In fact, it’s his life that saves us. We recognize the importance of Jesus’ blood for our forgiveness. But Jesus’ death alone isn’t sufficient to save us! His death on the cross doesn’t provide the life we need. It is actually Jesus’ resurrection that saves us...
“The life we possess within us is not Jesus the Man who lived, taught, and died after thirty-three years on earth. Sure, that’s part of his track record. But the life housed within us is the risen Christ, who now sits right beside God. Hence, we’re not being asked to imitate the recorded actions of Jesus of Nazareth. Instead, we’re invited to allow Jesus to do what he has always done — be himself. The risen Christ wants to do this through our unique personalities in every moment of every day.”—The Naked Gospel, pages 177, 178
I like that; it is very freeing. Just let Jesus live through you; forget the guilt trips, the performance based stuff, all the σκυβαλα, as Paul called it. Just hang on to Jesus and let him live through you.
Last minute details
Don't get me wrong here, I really love this stuff. It just all seems to pile up at the last minute. You seem to be on schedule, everything is ready...then, BOOM something you forgot, or something is late, or... Yep, it's that time of year :)
So, after the SBL shipment goes on Monday, the ASOR shipment goes on Wednesday, and the follow-up ETS shipment goes on Thursday, I have nothing to do about conferences for 2 days. Then, Tuesday morning, November 17, I'm off to the airport and the conferences.
Once I get to New Orleans and get checked into the hotel, I head on over and set up the ETS display. ETS starts on Wednesday at 9:00 AM...I'm tired just thinking about it. I think I'll just live a day at a time. Maybe that's why Jesus said not to worry about tomorrow, eh?
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Rewards and behavior
“In reality, the term rewards does not appear anywhere in the New Testament. The apostle Paul speaks of a “reward” (singular, not plural) or a “prize” in the context of running a race and reaching the end. But Paul also notes that everything else is like garbage next to knowing Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:8). Given this truth, do we really believe that God will be awarding larger homes and nicer jewelry to those who depended on Jesus more?
“God doesn’t want us to think and act in certain ways because we’re seeking to accumulate heavenly merchandise. Just as Paul was willing to lose all things for the sake of knowing Christ, we too should make it our agenda to know him. For more wealth in heaven? No, we want to know him simply because it’s the greatest thing going on planet Earth.”—The Naked Gospel, pages 168-169
Kind of doesn't sit too well in our over-merchandised society, does it? Kingdom values usually don't!
More new books
Law from the Tigris to the Tiber
The Writings of Raymond Westbrook
Vol. 1: The Shared Tradition
Vol. 2: Cuneiform and Biblical Sources
EIS - Eisenbrauns
by Raymond Westbrook
Edited by Bruce Wells and F. Rachel Magdalene
2 vols.; Vol. 1: xx + 512; Vol. 2: xx + 556, English
Cloth, 6 x 9 inches
List Price: $119.50
Your Price: $107.55
A Syriac Lexicon
A Translation from the Latin, Correction, Expansion, and Update of C. Brockelmann's Lexicon Syriacum
This book is heavy and may incur additional shipping charges.
EIS - Eisenbrauns
by Michael Sokoloff
Pp. l + 1,684, English and Syriac
Cloth, 7 x 10 inches
Your Price: $149.50
and two yesterday:
A Manual of Ugaritic
Linguistic Studies in Ancient West Semitic - LSAWS 3
by Pierre Bordreuil and Dennis Pardee
xii + 355 pages + CD with PDF and photos, English
Cloth, 6 x 9 inches
List Price: $69.50
Your Price: $62.55
The Retelling of Chronicles in Jewish Tradition and Literature
A Historical Journey
EIS - Eisenbrauns
by Isaac Kalimi
xx + 395 pages, English
Cloth, 6 x 9
List Price: $59.50
Your Price: $53.55
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
It is finished
“The Son of God has finished his work. He is risen and is now seated in heavenly places. There’s only one appropriate response. All eyes on him!”—The Naked Gospel, page 139
He doesn't continue on with the thought, but Paul says that we are seated with him in the heavenly places. Doesn't that blow your mind? It sure does mine.
Thought for the day
Theology has too often been an instrument for the king or the powers that be, in ancient and modern times. Some theologians are providing intellectual support for global capitalism, the new empire, or simply the current unjust status quo. In that task they come close to certain currents of secular thought that take God (and God's poor) out of the public discourse. Idolatry and atheism are, of course, directly related to the exploitation of the poor.—Rooted in Jesus Christ, page 4
It's too bad, but he's right...
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Are we REALLY pure?
“Paul goes on to urge us to count ourselves dead to sin but alive to God (Romans 6:11). Some English translations use the term reckon here: “reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin” (NKJV). Whether one prefers reckon or count or consider, it makes little difference as long as we realize that our reckoning is not what causes this to become reality. Instead of our “making it a reality,” we’re invited to bank on the fact that our death to sin is already real.
“Some would put the burden on Christians to believe hard enough in order to make our death to sin a reality. This isn’t the meaning of reckon or count or consider. These words mean “to rely on the fact” that you’re dead to sin because God has already said it is so (and it is so!): “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11).
“Here we’re invited to live in reality. If we’re living under the assumption that sin is the most natural thing for us, then we’re being deluded. We’re different from the way we were before. We’re now alive to God, and we must come to grips with an essential truth: It is more normal, more fitting, and more like us to display the fruit of the Spirit than it is for us to display sin!”—The Naked Gospel, pages 125-126
Hmmm....doesn't that sound like Christianity 101? Then why don't we let it happen? Farley takes that up, too:
"“...we use terms such as positional truth and heavenly bookkeeping. We say we’re forgiven and cleansed “in God’s eyes.” But then we claim that Christ’s death does not translate into “once for all” forgiveness in the here and now. Perhaps it just feels too easy: “You mean I don’t have to do anything? That doesn’t sound right.” Our human pride won’t allow us to enjoy that kind of grace.
“Some exhort believers to do something, such as asking for forgiveness, to impel God so that he will actually forgive and cleanse them. This certainly satisfies us; there’s nothing like a daily list of sins to pore over to relieve us from guilt.
“Some claim a procedure is necessary to “appropriate” or “activate” forgiveness. They say we must “keep short accounts” of our sins and ask God to forgive and cleanse us in order to “make it real in our own experience.” But didn’t God announce that only one thing — blood — brings forgiveness and cleansing?
'Without realizing it, we end up believing that Christ’s blood has real effects only for heaven. If we want to maintain a cleansed state before God here on earth, we begin to think it comes through a work that we initiate through remembering, confessing, asking, and claiming. Ultimately, it becomes our responsibility to make the cross carry real benefits in the present.
“In adopting this fine-sounding belief system, we fail to recognize that the cross is a historical event. Its effects are already accomplished, no matter what we believe or claim. We don’t initiate forgiveness, because we cannot. Only blood brings forgiveness. Our acts of remembrance, confession, asking forgiveness, and claiming — whether done with good intentions or not — don’t cause more blood to be shed.”—The Naked Gospel, pages 135-136
Yep, Christianity 101.
We've invented a new holiday here at Eisenbrauns--International Hug an Archaeologist Day! To celebrate it, we put together an early ASOR sale. Now is your chance to pick up some of those titles you have been looking at for a while. And, you can do it at savings up to 80% off. But time is limited--the sale ends November 15. Oh, you can purchase even if you aren't an archaeologist...
Monday, November 02, 2009
Good news/bad news?
In Greek there are frequently prefixes that are applied to a word to change its meaning. For example, the prefix εὐ (EU) makes a word mean good. So, since αγγέλιον (angelion) means an announcement, εὐαγγέλιον means a good announcement, or as we would say more idiomatically, good news. On the other hand, there is a prefix that makes things negative: δυς (DYS). We see this in English with words like dysfunctional—the negation of functional, i.e., it doesn't work correctly. So, δυσαγγέλιον means a bad pronouncement, or better, bad news.
So, what am I getting at? Well, much of what passes for gospel these days seems to be more δυσαγγέλιον than εὐαγγέλιον.
Who are we, anyway?
Why? Why don't we take the scripture at face value here? People are anxious enough to jump on "bible bandwagons" in other areas where the text is less than clear. Why not here, where the texts are very clear? Is it too good to be true? Remember gospel means good news; what could be better news than this?