Ada Szczepaniec, an agricultural entomologist at Texas A&M University, investigated the outbreak. Her study found that it was not just the elms, but also crops such as corn and soybeans that had been sprayed by the pesticide also showed spider mite outbreaks. When investigating soybeans, she found that exposure to the neonicotinoid pesticides altered their genes involved with the cell wall and defense against pests, and changed them in such a way that the plant became more vulnerable to infestation. Other researchers noticed correlation as well, and recorded spider mite outbreaks on corn and other crops.I hate slugs! The last thing we need is more of those in the garden! Of course, I also am against the use of pesticides in general. We're basically killing ourselves...
As well as spider mite outbreaks, the pesticide has had other quantitative effects as well, like an outbreak of slugs, due to the pesticide killing off their predators.
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
The law of unintended consequences
Hermeneutics in the Dead Sea Scrolls
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Print versus e-book
It will simply not be enough for our colleges to crank out graduates described by one of my colleagues as “drones with smartphones.” We need our librarians to work alongside faculty in helping our students climb the ladder of digital literacy to information fluency, and from there, to equip them with the cognitive grounding in critical thinking so important for taking those deep dives into knowing and understanding. Unless further advances produce e-reading devices that can more fully engage the human brain’s perceptual and cognitive subsystems, solid research evidence compels the conclusion that we must provide our students with a substantial exposure to printed texts. (emphasis original)
Textual transmission and authority
How to explain this diversity is a much-discussed problem. Some postulate an original text, or one as close as we can get to it, from which the diversity developed. Others, however, argue for textual traditions that originated independently of each other. Given the high percentage of agreement among the texts, the first possibility seems to be more likely. At any rate, it is clear that the diversity did not alter the authority of the text and the esteem in which it was held. There was anything but a slavish word-for-word fidelity. Even if readings differed, for the scribes and readers of the biblical books, the same text always contained the word of God for all time, and consequently for them and their time.—The Prophets of Israel, page 94
I'm reminded of a snippet from a forthcoming book from Augsburg/Fortress, Isaiah Old and New: Exegesis, Intertextuality, and Hermeneutics:
…however uncomfortable it may make some modern interpreters of the Bible, in the NT era there was assumed to be a fluidity to these scriptural texts such that even the paraphrastic Greek versions of the MT could still be assumed to be the Word of God, and one was free to go with the version which more nearly made one’s point, in this case a christological point. The canon of the OT was relatively fixed and closed in the NT era for most books, such as Isaiah, but the text itself was not absolutely fixed at that juncture.For some this is indeed a problem, isn't it? But my faith is built on Christ and his faithfulness, not on the Bible. Yes, the Bible reveals Christ, but I know enough about textual transmission to question inerrancy and it's straightjacket approach to the text. As the hymn says:
My hope is built on nothing less than Zondervan and Moody Press..No, that's wrong; let's try again:
My hope is built on nothing less than Scofield's Notes and Moody Press...Still wrong! How about this:
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousnessAnd the scripture bears witness to that, so I guess you would have to classify my hermeneutic as Christocentric.
Here's what Ron Hendel says in his recent collection of essays, Steps to a New Edition of the Hebrew Bible (from chapter 11, I don't have the page number handy):
As Roland Bainton observes, for Luther “inspiration did not insure inerrancy in all details. Luther recognized mistakes and inconsistencies in Scripture and treated them with lofty indifference because they did not touch the heart of the Gospel.” [Roland H. Bainton, “The Bible in the Reformation,” in The Cambridge History of the Bible. Volume 3: The West from the Reformation to the Present Day, ed. Stanley L. Greenslade (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1963), 12] Where minor errors occur, as when Matthew 27:9 mistakenly cites Jeremiah instead of Zechariah, Luther responds: “Such points do not bother me particularly.” [ibid., 13] Similarly, in his commentaries Calvin is not bothered by errors in the text where they are unrelated to matters of faith and salvation. [See Brian A. Gerrish, “The Word of God and the Words of Scripture: Luther and Calvin on Biblical Authority,” in The Old Protestantism and the New: Essays on the Reformation Heritage (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), 62–63] He acknowledges minor errors without anxiety, as in the contradictions among the Gospels: “It is well known that the Evangelists were not very concerned with observing the time sequences.” [John Calvin, Commentaires sur le Nouveau Testament. Tome premier: Sur la concordance ou harmonie composée de trois évangélistes (Paris, Meyrueis, 1854), 319 (at Luke 8:19): “on sçait bien que les Evangélistes ne se sont pas guères arrestez à observer l’ordre des temps.” Cited in William J. Bouwsma, John Calvin: A Sixteenth Century Portrait (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 121–22]So I stand in the finest tradition, lest you be tempted to paint me as a heretic : )
Monday, November 28, 2016
Thought for the day
Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one incompetent person destroys much good.”
Sunday, November 27, 2016
The role of a prophet (again)
The main responsibility of the prophets is commonly understood to be that of proclaiming the word of God (cf. Deut 5:23–27, 18:15–18). Acting as YHWH’s mouthpiece, however, is only one side of the prophet’s role. The prophetic ministry is by its very nature twofold. It includes making known God’s will to the people as well as advocating for the guilty party before the divine judge. (p. 512, emphasis added)<idle musing>
That part of the prophetic role is frequently forgotten or ignored. It sounds neat to reveal God's will to people, to speak out in power, and all that stuff. But the real heart of a prophet is found when they are on their knees before God. When they have the courage to disobey God's command not to intercede. Witness Moses after the golden calf incident: God tells him not to intercede, but he does anyway and saves the nation. Witness Jeremiah: God tells him four times not to intercede; he does it anyway, even though in the end Jerusalem falls.
How many "prophets" on the scene today are willing to do the hard work? How often are they willing to say to God, "Have mercy! Don't judge, but spare them!" The tenor of far too many of them is more like Jonah than like Moses and Jeremiah.
OK, I'll stop now, but watch for excerpts from this book soon. First we finish going through The Prophets of Israel, then we'll go through The "Image of God" in the Garden of Eden, which is coming up soon. Another great book in the Siphrut series. If I didn't work for Eisenbrauns, I'd start a standing order for Siphrut, Linguistic Studies in Ancient West Semitic, JTI Supplements, and probably Languages of the Ancient Near East. Good thing I work for them : )
Friday, November 25, 2016
Foretelling and Qumran
There are some among them who profess to foretell the future, being versed from their early years in holy books, various forms of purification and apothegms of prophets; and seldom, if ever, do they err in their predictions.This description is usually taken as a confirmation of the identification of the Essenes with the Qumran community. The testimony is, however, not quite so clear. Josephus has in mind an active ability to prophesy about contemporary events, and in his main work, the Jewish Antiquities, he adduces various examples of Essene predictions that were fulfilled. However, the Dead Sea Scrolls never speak in this manner. Quite the opposite: the Qumran community appears to have stuck to what is found in Neh 6 and Zech 13, regarding their contemporaries as “false” prophets. It is no coincidence that a list of the names of “false” prophets was found at Qumran. This enumeration of well-known prophets from the biblical tradition was possibly augmented with a contemporary prophet. Unfortunately, the text is too damaged to be able to say anything certain.—The Prophets of Israel, page 91
Waiting for lightning
Waiting for lightningAdvent is somewhat like that and Brian Zahnd catches that nicely. Here's a good snippet, but read the whole thing (just ignore the misrepresentation of the Magi):
A sign that it's time for a change
You're listening for thunder
While He quietly whispers your name
We have been seduced by an idolatry that deceives us into thinking that God is mostly found in the big and loud, when in fact, God is almost never found in the big and loud. The ways of God are predominantly small and quiet. The ways of God are about as loud as seed falling on the ground or bread rising in an oven. The ways of God are almost never found in the shouts of the crowd; the ways of God are more often found in trickling tears and whispered prayers. We want God to do a big thing, while God is planning to do a small thing. We are impressed by the big and loud. God is not. We are in a hurry. God is not. We want God to act fast, but Godspeed is almost always slow.<idle musing>
So we are waiting for God to act, but I would suggest that we are not so much waiting for God to act as we are waiting to become contemplative enough to discern what God is doing. God is always acting, because God is always loving his creation. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are always inviting us into their house of love. But when we are consumed by anger, harried by anxiety, and driven by impatience, we are blind and deaf to what God is actually doing in the present moment.
Ain't it the truth! And busyness is a form of idolatry. We need to learn to rest in God. Mind you, this is a hyperactive, always doing something—or more likely multiple things!—person speaking here. But we need to learn to relax and listen. God is at work; God is alive and active in the world, and in my life and yours. Learn to hear him and respond in love.
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Qumran and the prophetic
Monday, November 21, 2016
A Christian feminist knows that God designed men with all of the humanity, compassion, integrity, strength, and tenderness that he designed women with. Christian feminists reject the low bar society sets for men. Feminists believe men have the full capacity to make choices that oppose patriarchy—choices that are not centered in a hunger for control or in abusing women to maintain that control. Just as Jesus did, we call men to more. A feminist doesn’t lower the bar—a feminist raises it. We don’t excuse toxic, life-destroying behavior from men. We don’t say “boys will be boys,” as if that’s all men can amount to.<idle musing>
Amen and amen!
Let the apocalypse begin!
So, does that mean we should see a rise in apocalyptic thought in the U.S.? Oh, wait, we already have! : (
Social media needs to adopt this motto!
Friday, November 18, 2016
It's in the timing
Thursday, November 17, 2016
What about Daniel?
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
We're still waiting
We're still waiting for the eschaton, but Messiah has come!
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Covenant and prophecy
And they're off!
I'm driving to Duluth, catching a flight to Minneapolis/St. Paul, and then a flight to San Antonio. ASOR starts tomorrow evening and then AAR/SBL will begin on Saturday. I fly home on Tuesday, but will stay overnight in Duluth. I'm not a fan of driving Highway 61 after midnight—there are way too many deer. I'm a bit gun shy after hitting one two years ago. So, another night on the road.
See some of you in San Antonio!
Monday, November 14, 2016
Prophecy as revelation
Thought/Psalm of the day
A pilgrimage song.[a]
(and he answered me):
2 “Lord, deliver me[b] from lying lips
and a dishonest tongue!”
3 What more will be given to you,
what more will be done to you,
you dishonest tongue?
4 Just this:[c] a warrior’s sharpened arrows,
coupled with burning coals from a wood[d] fire!
because I have been an immigrant in Meshech,
because I’ve made my home among Kedar’s tents.
6 I’ve lived far too long
with people who hate peace.
7 I’m for peace,
but when I speak, they are for war.
- Psalm 120:1 Or song of ascents or song of going up (that is, to Jerusalem); cf Ps 122:4. The heading is found in every psalm from Ps 120 to Ps 134.
- Psalm 120:2 Or my soul; also in 120:6
- Psalm 120:4 Heb lacks this.
- Psalm 120:4 Or the gorse or broom tree
Sunday, November 13, 2016
God at work
Saturday, November 12, 2016
A timely word from the Book of the Twelve (Minor Prophets)
Repentance, not pride, in the face of calamity and threat offers the only hope that YHWH will intervene to thwart, stall, stop, or repair a damaged people. Hosea, Joel, Amos, Jonah, Zechariah, and Malachi all underscore the need to repent before YHWH, to change behavior, and to change attitudes toward God and humanity. The Book of the Twelve presumes that calamity comes from YHWH as punishment for rebellion against YHWH, or mistreatment of other human beings.—James D. Nogalski, “Recurring Themes in the Book of the Twelve : Creating Points of Contact for a Theological Reading,” Int 61 (2007): 135–36
What's a person to do?
Half of Americans, and the vast majority of white Evangelicals, have elected soon-to-be President Trump. Most Evangelicals I know did so because they felt he was the best, flawed, choice they had. But, the results (and the hurt) is still here—and real.<idle musing>
Like many, it is my hope that Donald Trump’s presidency will be better than his campaign—that Trump will be a better President than he has been a person. But regardless, the Church must be the Church.
White Evangelicals owe it to their minority brothers and sisters in Christ, and ultimately all, to care, but also to help bring change in the Church and beyond.
Indeed! I long-ago shed the label "evangelical" because of the political baggage it carries. If pressed, I would probably say I am an 18th-century evangelical in the mold of a John Wesley, who was a social progressive, establishing schools for the miners' children, appointing women to positions of authority in the Methodist movement, and standing against slavery. Somewhere along the line, probably around 1980, the Evangelical movement in the U.S. completely lost the social progressiveness and became a Republican stronghold (it had been moving that direction, but that seems to be the watershed moment).
Whomever you voted for, if you are a Christian of any stripe, you are called by God to be an agent of peace and reconciliation. The mood of the country right now is not one of peace and reconciliation. Scripture says that they will know Christians by their love. Hmmm...last time I checked love didn't mean insulting people, attacking people, etc.—and I'm talking about both left and right here. Stetzer is correct. Scripture is very clear that we need to stand with the poor, the immigrant, the marginalized.
How to do that is the question that I'm grappling with right now. I live in a small community (1500 people) that is overwhelmingly white—after all, it's made up of Scandinavians! We're five hours from a major metropolitan area. What can I do? That's the question that I'm laying before God.
Yes, I will (continue to) pray. But what else is God calling me to do?
If, God forbid, Muslims are ordered to wear armbands, I will follow the example of the Danish when the Jews were commanded to wear a star of David armband, and wear one even though I am not Muslim. But before things get that far along (if they do), what can I do?
Just musing out loud here...
Friday, November 11, 2016
The significance of the prophetic books
Excellent! That paragraph is worth the price of the book...
Thursday, November 10, 2016
A Psalm for today
avenging God, show yourself!
2 Rise up, judge of the earth!
Pay back the arrogant exactly what they deserve!
3 How long will the wicked—oh, Lord!—
how long will the wicked win?
4 They spew arrogant words;
all the evildoers are bragging.
5 They crush your own people, Lord!
They abuse your very own possession.
6 They kill widows and immigrants;
they murder orphans,
7 saying all the while,
“The Lord can’t see it;
Jacob’s God doesn’t know
what’s going on!”
You fools—when will you get some sense?
9 The one who made the ear,
can’t he hear?
The one who formed the eye,
can’t he see?
10 The one who disciplines nations,
can’t he punish?
The one who teaches humans,
doesn’t he know?[a]
11 The Lord does indeed know human thoughts,
knows that they are nothing but a puff of air.
the ones you teach from your Instruction—
13 giving them relief from troubling times
until a pit is dug for the wicked.
14 The Lord will not reject his people;
he will not abandon his very own possession.
15 No, but justice will once again meet up with righteousness,
and all whose heart is right will follow after.
Who will help me against evildoers?
17 If the Lord hadn’t helped me,
I[b] would live instantly in total silence.
18 Whenever I feel my foot slipping,
your faithful love steadies me, Lord.
19 When my anxieties multiply,
your comforting calms me down.
one who wreaks havoc by means of the law?
21 The wicked gang up against the lives of the righteous.
They condemn innocent blood.
22 But the Lord is my fortress;
my God is my rock of refuge.
23 He will repay them for their wickedness,
completely destroy them because of their evil.
Yes, the Lord our God will completely destroy them.
- Psalm 94:10 Correction; MT the one who teaches humans knowledge
- Psalm 94:17 Or soul; also in 94:19, 21
It's a modern problem
Yep. I couldn't have put it better myself. It boils down to why we read the Bible. Is it for information? Or is it in hopes of encountering the living God who alone can animate the words on the page?
Wednesday, November 09, 2016
The good coming from this crazy election season is all this shaking has rattled the thick dust off the idol of nationalism, which is a disproportionate devotion to one’s nation. The sudden revelation of this form of idolatry has been painful for some people. The growing post-Christian culture in America has caused some in the body of Christ to forsake their primary allegiance in Christ for what Scot McKnight has called an “eschatology of politics.” When our ultimate hope is in the candidate we vote for, when our primary concern is the preservation of a certain political system, when we “hold our nose” and vote for a candidate who stands in direct conflict to our Christian convictions simply because we do not want the other side to win, we have shockingly exposed an idol, a false hope for salvation. When we have exchanged our hope in God for hope in elected officials, we have unwittingly traded our Christian birthright for a bowl of toxic political soup.
Another difference to note
Tuesday, November 08, 2016
my steps had nearly slipped
3 because I envied the arrogant;
I observed how the wicked are well off:
4 They suffer no pain;
their bodies are fit and strong.
5 They are never in trouble;
they aren’t weighed down like other people.
6 That’s why they wear arrogance like a necklace,
why violence covers them like clothes.
7 Their eyes bulge out from eating so well;
their hearts overflow with delusions.
8 They scoff and talk so cruel;
from their privileged positions
they plan oppression.
9 Their mouths dare to speak against heaven!
Their tongues roam the earth!
10 That’s why people keep going back to them,
keep approving what they say.
11 And what they say is this: “How could God possibly know!
Does the Most High know anything at all!”
12 Look at these wicked ones,
always relaxed, piling up the wealth!
I’ve washed my hands to stay innocent for nothing.
14 I’m weighed down all day long.
I’m punished every morning.
15 If I said, “I will talk about all this,”
I would have been unfaithful to your children.
16 But when I tried to understand these things,
it just seemed like hard work
Yep! That's exactly how I feel sometimes. Good thing the psalm doesn't stop there, isn't it! It goes on, and in the last half we see the truth, but it is seen through spiritual eyes and will never make sense in the eyes of the world. We need to remember that on a day like today...our hope is not in the institutions of government, however good they might be (or bad). Our hope is in God. Here's the rest of the psalm:
17 until I entered God’s sanctuary
and understood what would happen to the wicked.
18 You will definitely put them on a slippery path;
you will make them fall into ruin!
19 How quickly they are devastated,
utterly destroyed by terrors!
20 As quickly as a dream departs from someone waking up, my Lord,
when you are stirred up, you make them disappear.
when I was all cut up inside,
22 I was stupid and ignorant.
I acted like nothing but an animal toward you.
23 But I was still always with you!
You held my strong hand!
24 You have guided me with your advice;
later you will receive me with glory.
25 Do I have anyone else in heaven?
There’s nothing on earth I desire except you.
26 My body and my heart fail,
but God is my heart’s rock and my share forever.
27 Look! Those far from you die;
you annihilate all those who are unfaithful to you.
28 But me? It’s good for me to be near God.
I have taken my refuge in you, my Lord God,
so I can talk all about your works! (CEB, from Bible Gateway)