Tuesday, April 30, 2013


It seems that concrete descriptions of god’s saving acts were favored much more than general statements, not only in Israelite family religion, but also in the family religions of the greater Northwest Semitic region.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 304

<idle musing>
Would that it were so in our testimonies now! We settle for generalities instead of specific examples of how God intervenes. Could it be because we don't really believe God still performs saving acts? The Israelites believed!
</idle musing>

Thought for today

Where then does wisdom come from? Where does understanding dwell? It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing, concealed even from the birds in the sky. Destruction and Death say, “Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.” God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells, for he views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens. When he established the force of the wind and measured out the waters, when he made a decree for the rain and a path for the thunderstorm, then he looked at wisdom and appraised it; he confirmed it and tested it. And he said to the human race, “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.” (Job 28:20-28 NIV)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Thought for today

“Though his face is covered with fat and his waist bulges with flesh, he will inhabit ruined towns and houses where no one lives, houses crumbling to rubble. He will no longer be rich and his wealth will not endure, nor will his possessions spread over the land. He will not escape the darkness; a flame will wither his shoots, and the breath of God’s mouth will carry him away. Let him not deceive himself by trusting what is worthless, for he will get nothing in return. Before his time he will wither, and his branches will not flourish. He will be like a vine stripped of its unripe grapes, like an olive tree shedding its blossoms. For the company of the godless will be barren, and fire will consume the tents of those who love bribes. They conceive trouble and give birth to evil; their womb fashions deceit.” (Job 15:27-35 NIV)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Emmanuel, part 2

Whoever will believe this fact [God with us] with all their hearts will find in it the solution of every difficulty of their lives.—Hannah Whitall Smith


Epigraphic records attest 164 names of thanksgiving to date, which is evidence of an astonishingly rich treasury of familial beliefs. All of these names allude to divine acts of salvation, assistance, or protection as experienced by members of a family, with a large diversity of emphases. No less than 58 different verbs are used in the epigraphic names (11 more than are found in the entire Hebrew Bible), and only 6 of the verbs found in biblical names have not yet been found in epigraphic names. Thus a total of 64 different roots are used in the names of thanksgiving found so far.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 298

<idle musing>
That's amazing. I don't think we even have 58 different verbs for thanksgiving in English! Maybe that's why we have a hard time being thankful? Or, more likely, we don't have that many verbs because we aren't very thankful : (
</idle musing>

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Very few of us understand the full meaning of the words in Matt. 1:23, “They shall call His name Emmanuel; which being interpreted is, God with us.” In this short sentence is revealed to us the grandest fact the world can ever know; that God, the Almighty God, the Creator of Heaven and earth, is not a far-off Deity, dwelling in a Heaven of unapproachable glory, but is living with us right here in this world, in the midst of our poor, ignorant, helpless lives, as close to us as we are to ourselves.—Hannah Whitall Smith

Infant mortality and worship

We know from the Hebrew Bible (2 Sam 12:15–25; 2 Kgs 4:18–24; Isa 65:20) that infant mortality was a heavy burden for families, especially for women who were confronted with the ultimate futility of their pain and labor (Isa 65:23). However, the high rates of infant death and the incalculable sorrow of grieving mothers and their families did not fundamentally alter their belief that god was the magnificent creator of all and the generous provider of children, and it was he who desired and was capable of ensuring their survival.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 296

<idle musing>
Amen! In our highly medicated society, we tend to give the glory to medical science—yet babies still die. Do we then stop believing in medical science? If the percentage of people on prescription medications is any indication, then no. Why then should people "give up on God" when something "bad" happens?

Seems to me our view of God is wrong—and our worship of medical science is misplaced, as well...did you know the third leading cause of death now is from incorrect medical treatment (see here)? And yet God gets the blame. Something's not right here, folks.
</idle musing>

Monday, April 22, 2013


If our religion is really our life, and not merely something extraneous tacked on to our life, it must necessarily go into everything in which we live; and no act, however human or natural it may be, can be taken out of its control and guidance. If God is with us always, then He is just as much with us in our business times and our social times as in our religious times, and one moment is as solemn with His presence as another.—Hannah Whitall Smith

Infant mortality

The apparent scale of the celebrations that marked the weaning of a child may reflect the communal joy when a child passed the age of the greatest risk of infant mortality—a risk that would have been considerably higher than in modern industrial societies. Scholars estimate that more than one-third of all infants died during the first few months or years of life, and as many as half of all children did not survive to adulthood. [Footnote: See C. Meyers 1988: 112–13 with reference to ancient Palestinian burials in Jericho, Lachish, and Meiron; in one tomb group, 35% of individuals had died before the age of five; see J. D. Schloen 2001: 122–25; C. Meyers 2005: 16. For Egypt in Late Antiquity, R. S. Bagnall (1993: 182) calculated that ‘nearly one-third of all children died before their first birthday and more than two fifths by the age of five’. According to E. A. R. Willett (2008: 2), “on average, 35 percent of all individuals died before age 5” in Iron Age Cis- and Transjordan.]—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 294

<idle musing>
That's a frighteningly high number. No wonder they celebrated whenever a baby reached 2-3 years of age.
</idle musing>

Friday, April 19, 2013

I can do it myself, thank you

We have all realized, more or less, that without Him we cannot live our religious life, but when it comes to living our so-called temporal life, to keeping house or transacting business, or making calls, or darning stockings, or sweeping a room, or trimming a bonnet, or entertaining company, who is there that even theoretically thinks such things as these are to be done for Christ, and can only be rightly done as we abide in Him and do them in His strength?—Hannah Whitall Smith

<idle musing>
That dichotomy again. All of our life is God's—yes, even cleaning toilets! Good thing, too, because around here in the summer, there's a lot of them to clean! : )
</idle musing>

The divine touch

...the number and variety of creation names now known from epigraphic material clearly reveal that the divine creation of every human being constituted a primary tenet of family religion. The religious significance of birth also was emphasized to a much greater extent than we previously supposed. It was not only the elites who transcribed and collated the Hebrew Bible but also the masses of ordinary people, especially women, who considered birth a direct creative act of god rather than a generic, natural event.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 280

<idle musing>
And why not? For me, the greatest miracle I've ever witnessed was the birth of my kids. I considered it a direct creative act of God, even though I know the science behind it. More importantly, though, I know the creator behind the science!
</idle musing>

When we get mad at God

At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him: “Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand. Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen ? Yet when you relied on the Lord, he delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.” Asa was angry with the seer because of this; he was so enraged that he put him in prison. At the same time Asa brutally oppressed some of the people...In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians. (2 Chronicles 16:7-10, 12 NIV)

<idle musing>
Do you think maybe Asa was offended? Rather than repenting, he strikes out—not that any of us would ever do that!

But, to me the interesting thing is that later, when he gets sick, he turns to—wait for it—medical science! He ignores God, even when he's in pain, because God offended him once. Before we cast a stone at him, though, take a look at our own medicine cabinet. What's in there? How often do we turn to it in our pain and diseases? Maybe, just maybe, we are as guilty as Asa?

Just an
</idle musing>

Thought for the day

They took an oath to the Lord with loud acclamation, with shouting and with trumpets and horns. All Judah rejoiced about the oath because they had sworn it wholeheartedly. They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them. So the Lord gave them rest on every side. (2 Chronicles 15:14, 15 NIV)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Riding on the emotions?

For if I do nothing, literally nothing, apart from Christ, I am of course united to Him in a continual oneness that cannot be questioned or gainsaid; while if I live a large part of my daily life and perform a large part of my daily work apart from Him, I have no real union, no matter how exalted and delightful my emotions concerning it may be.—Hannah Whitall Smith

The night of conception

Equal in importance to the day of birth for the emergence of new human life was the time of conception (Job 3:1). For Job, the two dates played equal roles in forming his existence (3:1–10). In the Hebrew Bible, every conception and pregnancy is viewed as the work of god, especially following a period of infertility (Gen 20:17–18; 21:1–2; 29:31–32; 30:17, 22; 1 Sam 1:19–20) but also in more typical cases (Ruth 4:13). Thus, during the night of conception, god draws very near the couple and is especially engaged with the female partner by healing her infertility (אפר; Gen 20:17) and opening her womb (חתפ םחר; Gen 29:31; 30:22).—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 275

<idle musing>
We've lost that concept, haven't we? For us, sex is all about enjoyment, not about conception. It has become totally secular; we've abandoned it to the pornographers and exploiters. We need to recover a sense of the holy—in every area of our life!
</idle musing>

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The holy dichotomy

I verily believe a large part of the difficulty lies in the unscriptural and unnatural divorce that has been brought about between our so-called religious life and our so called temporal life; as if our religion were something apart from ourselves, a sort of outside garment that was to be put on and off according to our circumstances and purposes. On Sundays, for instance, and in church, our purpose is to seek God, and worship and serve Him, and therefore on Sundays we bring out our religious life and put it on in a suitably solemn manner, and live it with a strained gravity and decorum which deprives it of half its power. But on Mondays our purpose is to seek our own interests and serve them, and so we bring out our temporal life and put it on with a sense of relief, as from an unnatural bondage, and live it with ease and naturalness, and consequently with far more power.—Hannah Whitall Smith

<idle musing>
With an attitude like that about life, how can we do otherwise than fail?!
</idle musing>


In the distress of their infertility, women were accustomed to praying to god. If they wanted to provide their prayers with more urgency, they could make a vow. So Hannah made a vow to YHWH at the regional sanctuary of Shiloh in order to conceive a son (1 Sam 1:11). Furthermore, the fact that the mother of Lemuel called him “son of my vow” (Prov 31:2) demonstrates that women’s vows designed to conceive a son were very common. We also know from Jer 44:25 that women in particular liked to make vows to their family goddess at home, although childbirth is not explicitly mentioned in this case. These vows made by women seem to have occurred so frequently and to have been so expensive that they could become a threat to a family’s property, and thus required male control. According to Numbers 30, a father or husband was allowed to invalidate the vow of a daughter or wife on the day that he first heard of it. The custom of poor women working as harlots in order to be able to pay their vows apparently was so common that it had to be strictly forbidden (Deut 23:18). Gen 25:21 also reports a case in which a husband formally interceded on behalf of his barren wife. Thus, private prayers and vows, especially those made by women, were important rituals of Israelite family religion.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 271

Thought for today

“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. (1 Chronicles 29:14-17 NIV)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Food for thought

Comparing the distribution of names in the Syro-Levantine cultures with those in ancient Israel reveals a very similar pattern. Names of thanksgiving and confession are again most prominent, especially when considered together. Birth names are also prominent. These prominent groups are again accompanied by the same three minor groups of praise names, equating names, and secular names. Most astonishingly, the rankings of the six groups in the Ammonite onomasticon were identical to the rankings of the Israelite names. This would be expected to happen only once every 720 times (= 6×5×4×3×2). This agreement in rankings is not accidental, therefore, but reflects genuine cultural similarities.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 259

<idle musing>
Of course, we don't know what that means...but it is interesting : )
</idle musing>

God and...

We have to be brought to the place where all other refuges fail us, before we can say, “He only.” We say, “He and—something else.” “He, and my experience,” or “He, and my church relationships,” or “He, and my Christian work”; and all that comes after the “and” must be taken away from us, or must be proved useless before we can come to the “He only."—Hannah Whitall Smith

<idle musing>
Tozer said that to say "God and" anything else was the same as saying God wasn't enough...
</idle musing>

Facebook and God

Roger Olson has a good discussion about Facebook and Christian discipleship. Here's a snippet, but read the whole thing to get a feel for what he is saying:
Facebook is a perfect vehicle for Gnostic religion and spirituality. It can lead into belief that “virtual” friendships and relationships are real in the same way physical ones are. If Christianity is anything, it is a very embodied and physical religion. The incarnation and resurrection reveal that.
<idle musing>
That's my big beef with all forms of social media—even this blog! We need real flesh and blood people in our lives; we were made that way by God. Anything less results in spiritual malnutrition.

Social media should be an optional add-on, not the main course of our friendships and social interactions,. As I look around me at the people who walk by with their heads down, reading their latest text messages, I weep for what they are missing. We are real people with flesh and blood. We need real people with flesh and blood.

Don't get me wrong; I value the online friendships I've made over the years. But, they can never be a substitute for the in-your-face interactions I have on a daily basis.

Just an </idle musing>

Friday, April 12, 2013

Do we really mean it?

We pray daily, “Thy kingdom come.” Do we know what we are praying for? Do we comprehend the change it will make in us if it comes in us? Are we willing to be so changed? What is the kingdom of God but the rule of God? And what is the rule of God but the will of God? Therefore when we pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we have touched the secret of it all.—Hannah Whitall Smith

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Death to life

Become a little child, then, by laying aside all thy greatness, all thy self-assertion, all thy self-dependence, all thy wisdom, and all thy strength, and consenting to die to thy own selflife, be born again into the kingdom of God. The only way out of one life into another is by a death to one and a new birth into the other. It is the old story, therefore, reiterated so often and in so many different ways, of through death to life. Die, then, that you my live. Lose your own life that you may find Christ’s life.—Hannah Whitall Smith

Almond milk yogurt

I've been toying with the idea of making almond milk yogurt for quite a while now—since November. While I was in Indiana, I tried some and liked it, so I researched it. And waited. Last week I finally tried it.

I made the almond milk:

Take a cup almonds, soak them in water for 4 hours; drain
Put the almonds in the blender with 4 cups water; blend well.
Strain through cheesecloth or such (I used a bread towel)
Then I used a modified version of my milk yogurt recipe (1/4 cup yogurt/quart of milk). I let it set for about 4 hours. It separated and didn't have any taste. I put it in the refrigerator and let it set overnight while I researched some more...seems my problem wasn't unique. No solutions there...but I did find out that the incubation time is a lot longer than with milk. So, I shook up the solution and heated it to 125°F. I put it in the cooler again and poured hot (125°F) water over it to cover 3/4 of the pint jars. This time I let it set for 4 hours and then taste-tested it. It still had separated, but it was beginning to taste yogurty. I let it incubate another 4 hours (12 hours total). It tasted nice and sour with a smooth aftertaste. I liked it, so I put it in the refrigerator.

It is separated, but I just shake it and drink it as a yogurt drink. I'm going to make another batch today or tomorrow. There are various options out there for thickening it, but I don't want to add gelatin or corn starch. The majority of recipes also start with a brand name almond milk that is loaded with thickeners, so that might be why it works for them.

If anybody else has had success making thick almond milk yogurt, let me know!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

More on the washing machine

A while ago, I put out a cry for help about our washing machine. After lots of research, I discovered ours doesn't have one : ( The manufacturer just assumes everyone will consume lots of energy by drying everything in the dryer. We don't do that—especially sweaters and other delicates.

Based on that information, I figured that lint was just building up on the liner and the outer basket. I decided to take the thing apart and clean it. I hadn't played with a washer for almost 30 years, but I figured not much had changed...wrong! Or, I must have just forgotten everything... Anyway, ours is direct drive; all the ones I had played with were belt-driven. Plus, I couldn't figure out how to get the thing apart! I took out all the screws on the back; tried all kinds of things. Finally, I did what I should have done in the first place: searched the Internet.

I found lots of information of varying degrees of usefulness, accuracy, and usability. The best one, which led me to the other great one, was My Plastic Free Life. The post is hilarious, but very helpful. Her post led me to YouTube and British James. Most helpful, indeed. The first 12 seconds are redundant in all the videos, so skip them after the first time. Another site that was helpful on taking apart the cabinet was Repair Ave, but I preferred the video.

Fortified with the information from British James, I attacked the washer again (after putting it back together again!). Simple. But, if you have a newer machine with the screws in the back of the console, be sure to remove them completely. If you don't the screws will still grab enough to keep the thing from coming apart. I used diagonal cutting pliers (dikes) to get them out.

I got it apart and took the agitator out. I attempted to loosen the spanner nut with a screwdriver and hammer. Not a chance! I was starting to mushroom the nut, so I dropped some 3-in-1 oil on it and waited a while. Nope. Not gonna happen! Now what? It was Saturday, so I put everything back together again and ordered the right tool—which I should have done in the first place! It cost me about $15.00 with shipping from thepartsbiz.com. And I waited for it to arrive. It arrived on Wednesday or Thursday, but I didn't get back to the washer until the weekend.

It's amazing how much better things work with the correct tools! By now I was an expert at taking the thing apart, so I got it apart and attacked the spanner nut. It took a good bit of banging, but it came loose. But, trying to get the basket out was something else. I banged on the spindle, yanked on the bucket, shook the thing. Nothing moved. So, I poured some white vinegar down the spindle and let it work for a bit. And I prayed.

This time, I yanked and twisted it a bit. It moved, but didn't release. So, I twisted it some more and then yanked. It released! But that spindle was a mess! I cleaned it up and then began the task of cleaning the liner.

The liner was a mess! The top 3-5 inches was lined with black gunk that probably was lint—once upon a time! I attacked it with a very wet rag and a putty knife. I also cleaned up the basket and the removable lid that was over the bucket and liner. Stinky, smelly mess!

Once everything was clean, I put it all back together again. Just to make sure everything was working right, I ran it through a cycle with a bit of detergent. Looked good.

Debbie has done a couple of loads since then, and no lint anywhere. That's nice : )

The real ruler

From the human standpoint, that man alone reigns who is able to exercise lordship over those around him. From the divine standpoint the soul that serves is the soul that reigns. Not he who demands most, receives this inward crowning, but he who gives up most.—Hannah Whitall Smith

More on secular names

This finding, that less than 10% of the population of monarchic Israel and Judah bore secular names, is strongly suggestive of the importance of family religion in this society. It may be argued that most of the epigraphic material is restricted to the upper classes, members who would have been able to afford these seals, which were often made of precious or semiprecious stones. However, even if we consider only the ostraca (see table 5.6), which represent people from all social classes and strata, the instances of secular names still amount to less than 10% (9.8%). There seems therefore to have been no significant difference in degree of family piety among the classes of Israelite monarchic society. Family religion seems to have played a prominent role in nearly all households, whether rich or poor.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 256

<idle musing>
Of course!
</idle musing>

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Secular names

The last group contains secular names, a group that lies outside the present study of family religion. This group nevertheless serves to demonstrate the coherence of this scheme for grouping names. In terms of both the number of names (105 occurrences) and the number of instances (251 occurrences), the group is the fourth largest. Although the first number is (a large portion) 15.6% of all names, a percentage not much smaller than that of the names of confession, the proportion of instances is only about half that percentage (8.6%). This indicates that, although there was a great variety of secular names, they seem not to have been very popular in preexilic Israelite society.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 256

<idle musing>
The names might be secular, but I can assure you the person bearing it wasn't!
</idle musing>

Friday, April 05, 2013

Friday's thought

If there is peace within, no outward turmoil can affect the soul; but outward peace can never quiet an inward tempest. A happy heart can walk in triumphant indifference through a sea of external trouble; while internal anguish cannot find happiness in the most favorable surroundings. What a man is within himself, makes or unmakes his joy, and not what he possesses outside of himself.—Hannah Whitall Smith


The names of confession are closely related to the names of thanksgiving. What has been an experience of god’s attention, salvation, or protection in the thanksgiving names becomes a personal confession of one’s trust in god in the confession names; similar statements can be observed in the confessions of confidence in the individual complaints. Thus, many of the roots—verbal in the confidence, nominal in the complaints—appear in both name groups. The names of confession constitute the third-largest group, with 119 names (17.6%) and 434 instances (14.9%).—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 254

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Take this to heart

It is grand to trust in the promises, but it is grander still to trust in the Promiser. The promises may be misunderstood or misapplied, and at the moment when we are leaning all our weight upon them, they may seem utterly to fail us. But no one ever trusted in the Promiser and was confounded.—Hannah Whitall Smith

Some interesting statistics

In terms of numbers of unique names, the largest group consists of the birth names, with 192 names, or 28.4% of all distinct names. This demonstrates the importance of the often dramatic experience of birth in name giving. The group of thanksgiving names is slightly smaller, containing 164 names, or 24.3% of the total. However, in terms of the number of instances, these names of thanksgiving constitute the largest group, which includes no less than 993 instances, or 34.0% of all inscribed names. Many names in this group appear frequently, such as those derived from the roots עמשׁ šāmaʿ ‘to hear’ (133 occurrences), עשׁי yāšaʿ Hiphil ‘to save’ (103 occurrences), and רזע ʿāzar ‘to help’ (87 occurrences). Thus, the core personal names are the thanksgiving names.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 254

<idle musing>
I know, the Hebrew is backwards! Not sure why, but it appears correctly in the book...

Anyway, I find it interesting that the core of names are names of thanksgiving. I wonder if that reflects their outlook on life in general, or just thankfulness that the child survived? Remember, infant and children under 5 mortality was around 60% (that figure is from this book).
</idle musing>

It really does mean something

Some may object that, although Hebrew personal names are derived from the roots of words that express familial piety, their use was determined more by fashion than by the religious convictions of the parents. If this were the case, these names would reflect the religious environment only indirectly and would offer no access to the beliefs of Israelite families. There are, however, several indications that the bestowal of names in ancient Israelite societies reflected more than mere ephemeral fashion. Foremost among these is the fact that, many times in the Hebrew Bible, the naming of a child is followed by an explicit explanation for the choice of the name.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 246

<idle musing>
I find that persuasive. We too easily project our current way of thinking back on the ancient world. Just because we choose names based on popularity doesn't mean they did. But, then again, we worship celebrities in this culture, so maybe the popularity of a name is a refection of our personal values...
</idle musing>

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

A good Wednesday thought

By rejoicing in Him, however, I do not mean rejoicing in ourselves, although I fear most people think this is really what is meant. It is their feelings or their revelations or their experiences that constitute the groundwork of their joy, and if none of these are satisfactory, they see no possibility of joy at all. But the lesson the Lord is trying to teach us all the time is the lesson of self-effacement. He commands us to look away from self and all self’s experiences, to crucify self and count it dead, to cease to be interested in self, and to know nothing and be interested in nothing but God.—Hannah Whitall Smith

Personal names

In a previous study (Albertz 1978a: 49–77), I demonstrated that the personal names of the Hebrew Bible do not reflect the Israelite religion in any general way; instead, they specifically attest the personal piety of Israelite and Judean families. Furthermore, although the traditions of Israel’s official religion—such as the exodus, conquest, kingship, Sinai, Zion, or Bethel—seem to have had no impact on personal names, and they contain only a  few possible allusions to Israel’s political and sacred history, the verbs and nouns used in personal names show a high rate of correspondence with the verbs and nouns that were used in the individual psalms of complaint and thanksgiving and in the oracles of salvation. More than half of all the roots of theophoric personal names found in the Hebrew Bible also occur in the genre of individual prayer; and over 60% of all verbs and nouns that appear in the petitions for divine attendance and salvation or in the confessions of confidence in the individual complaints or the psalms of thanksgiving and oracles of salvation can also be found in personal names. Thus, there is a close relationship between Hebrew personal names and the genres of psalms that reflect aspects of private prayer practices.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, pages 245-246

<idle musing>
I'm finding this section on the personal names extremely interesting. It's large enough that it could almost have been a separate book!
</idle musing>

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Thought for today

Not that I would be understood to object to emotions. On the contrary, I believe they are very precious gifts, when they are from God, and are to be greatly rejoiced in. But what I do object to is the making them a test or proof of spiritual states, either in ourselves or others, and depending on them as the foundation of our faith. Let them come or let them go, just as God pleases, and make no account of them either way.—Hannah Whitall Smith

What? No images?

Patterns discerned in the domestic assemblages of Israel and Judah that suggest that religious practices were performed by or in nuclear or extended families are essentially identical to patterns seen in domestic assemblages from Jordan, Philistia, Phoenicia, and Syria. One apparent difference is the occasional occurrence of clearly divine images in the households of Ammon, Philistia, Phoenicia, and Syria; images of this sort have not been found in Iron Age Israel and Judah.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 226

<idle musing>
Seems the ban on images in the scripture was taken seriously, no?
</idle musing>

Monday, April 01, 2013

Thought for the day

I have seen Christians, with hardly one Christ-like attribute in their whole characters, who yet were so emotional and had such ecstatic feelings of love for Christ, as to think themselves justified in claiming the closest oneness with Him. I scarcely know a sadder sight.—Hannah Whitall Smith

<idle musing>
Many will say "Lord! Lord!" in that day...remember that without holiness, it is impossible to see God...
</idle musing>

Pretty much the same

...the widely held assumption that there was a strong distinction between official religious practices and those performed in private or family environments—which has led to their being seen as competing arenas of religious activity (Holladay 1987; Nakhai 2001: 203)—is highly problematic. By analyzing the differing contexts of four-horned altars from Tel Miqne, Gitin (2002: 113–17) examined the intersections between public and private religious activities and identified five examples of coexistence and duality in the cult practices of Ekron.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 223

<idle musing>
Time to reexamine some widely held opinions, isn't it?
</idle musing>