Tuesday, October 31, 2023

It's more than an academic game

Behind this critique [of idly commenting on deep theological matters] was Gregory's deep awareness that theology is a type of worship, a holy endeavor, one that blossoms in a context of prayer, devotion and adoration, but withers when transformed into an academic, speculative mind game.—Christopher Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, 70

Art thou weary?

193 Stephanos. 8. 5. 8. 3.

1 Art thou weary, art thou languid,
   art thou sore distrest?
   'Come to me,' saith One, 'and coming,
   be at rest!"

2 Hath he marks to lead me to him,
   if he be my guide?
   In his feet and hands are wound-prints,
   and his side.

3 Hath he diadem as monarch
   that his brow adorns?
   Yea, a crown, in very surety,
   but of thorns.

4 If I find him, if I follow,
   what his guerdon here?
   Many a sorrow, many a labour,
   many a tear.

5 If I still hold closely to him,
   what has he at last?
   Sorrow vanquished, labour ended,
   Jordan past.

6 If I ask him to receive me,
   will he say me nay?
   Not till earth, and not till heaven
   pass away.

7 Finding, following, keeping, struggling,
   is he sure to bless?
   Angels, martyrs, prophets, virgins,
   answer, yes!
                         From the Greek, 8th century
                         Tr. by John M. Neale
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
According to hymnary.org, the author was St. Stephan of Mar Sabas, for whom they have no information. Makes sense that the tune would be named Stephanos, then.

I did a quick internet search and came up with this, which has this little tidbit:

Stephen placed a note on the door of his cell: “Forgive me, Fathers, in the name of the Lord, but please do not disturb me except on Saturdays and Sundays.”
I know some people who would like to put that note on their office door!

The Wiki has more information on him. He sounds like an interesting character.
</idle musing>

Monday, October 30, 2023

Athanasius takes aim

[Athanasius] 1. Only God can save. If the Father has sent the Son to save humanity through his death and resurrection, God has come to save. A mere creature can save no one. While Arius worked hard to preserve an exalted status for the Son, picturing him as elevated above all other creatures, his understanding of Christ faltered at this strategic juncture. The Arian Christ, Athanasius insisted, could save no one. No creature possessed the ability or prerogative to save from sin. Salvation was the prerogative, privilege and potential act of God alone. “The maker must be greater than what he makes . . . and the giver has to bestow what is in his possession.”—Christopher Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, 61

Come, said Jesus' sacred voice

192 St. Bees. 7. 7. 7. 7.

1 Come, said Jesus' sacred voice,
   Come, and make My paths your choice;
   I will guide you to your home;
   Weary pilgrim, hither come.

2 Thou who, homeless, sole, forlorn,
   Long hast borne the proud world’s scorn,
   Long hast roamed the barren waste,
   Weary pilgrim, hither haste.

3 Ye who, tossed on beds of pain,
   Seek for ease, but seek in vain;
   Ye, by fiercer anguish torn,
   In remorse for guilt who mourn;

4 Hither come, for here is found
   Balm that flows for every wound,
   Peace that ever shall endure,
   Rest eternal, sacred, sure.
                         Anna L. Barbauld
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Sinners, turn: Why will ye die?

191 Hollingside. 7. 7. 7. 7. D.

1 Sinners, turn: why will ye die?
   God, your Maker, asks you Why;
   God, who did your being give,
   Made you with Himself to live.

2 Sinners, turn: why will ye die?
   God, your Savior, asks you why;
   Will ye not in Him believe?
   He has died that ye might live.

3 Sinners, turn: why will ye die?
   God, the Spirit, asks you why;
   Often with you has He strove,
   Wooed you to embrace His love.
                         Charles Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Hymnary.org adds two verses, one after verse 2 and the other after verse 3:

3 Will you let Him die in vain?
   Crucify your Lord again?
   Why, ye ransomed sinners, why
   Will you slight His grace and die?

5 Will ye not His grace receive?
   Will ye still refuse to live?
   O ye dying sinners, why,
   Why will you forever die?

Without those two verses, the hymn forms a nice commentary on the Trinity, one verse for each member. I suspect that's why the Methodist hymnal chose to excise the other two verses.
</idle musing>

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Of Him who did salvation bring

188 Rockingham (Mason). L. M.

1. Of Him who did salvation bring,
   I could forever think and sing:
   Arise, ye needy, He’ll relieve;
   Arise, ye guilty, He’ll forgive.

2. Ask but His grace, and lo, ’tis given!
   Ask, and He turns your hell to heaven;
   Though sin and sorrow wound my soul,
   Jesus, Thy balm will make it whole.

3. To shame our sins He blushed in blood;
   He closed His eyes to show us God:
   Let all the world fall down and know
   That none but God such love can show.

4. Insatiate to this spring I fly;
   I drink, and yet am ever dry;
   Ah! who against Thy charm is proof!
   Ah! who that loves, can love enough?
                        Bernard of Clairvaux
                        Tr. by Anthony W. Boehm
                        Alt. by John C. Jacobi
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
As is usual with these older, translated hymns, hymnary.org has a wide variety of variations and verses. I'll let you click through and explore them. It's easy to get sidetracked for a half-hour or so doing it : )

In my church history class at seminary, we had a freshly minted PhD for the prof. He firmly believed in exposing students to the primary sources, ad fontes as the saying goes. The textbook was very prosaic, but his lectures were interesting and he required us to read a lot of primary sources. Consequently, we read a goodly number of Bernard's sermons. It's a pity that he is mostly remembered for preaching about the first crusade. He really deserves to be remembered for more than that.
</idle musing>

Friday, October 27, 2023

A sad confession

For the most part, though, we lack a significant body of exegetical work from early Christian women. Thus, though I am tempted to title this book Reading the Scripture with the Fathers and Mothers, I fear such a title, while honoring early Christian women and soothing modern sensibilities, would not reflect past realities faithfully. We simply do not have a broad enough exegetical base to draw upon from early Christian female theologians and commentators. As we have noted, however, the lack of such literature is more a regretful commentary on the church’s ambiguous response to the women in its midst than a lack of ability, intelligence, desire, gifting or insight in its female constituents.—Christopher Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, 49

<idle musing>
Indeed! And there have been many attempts in recent years to recover those traditions. May they prosper! I personally have benefited immensely over the years from the contributions of the women that history didn't forget (leaving aside the benefits from the more recent periods). The medieval mystics, male and female, have always been a source of inspiration to me. And more recently, I have discovered the early female martyrs and what little of their story survives.
</idle musing>

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy

187 Greenville. 8. 7. 8. 7. 8. 7.

1 Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
   Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
   Jesus ready stands to save you,
   Full of pity, love, and power;
   He is able, He is able,
   He is willing; doubt no more.

2 Come, ye needy, come, and welcome,
   God's free bounty glorify;
   True belief, and true repentance,
   Every grace that brings us nigh,
   Without money, without money,
   Come to Jesus Christ and buy.

3 Let not conscience make you linger,
   Nor of fitness fondly dream;
   All the fitness He requireth,
   Is to feel your need of Him:
   This He gives you; this He gives you;
   'Tis the Spirit's rising beam.

4 Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
   Lost and ruined by the fall;
   If you tarry till you're better,
   You will never come at all;
   Not the righteous, not the righteous
   Sinners Jesus came to call.
                         Joseph Hart
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Hymnary.org has a wide variety of variations on this hymn. Some add a couple more verses:

5 Lo! the incarnate God, ascended,
   Pleads the merit of His blood;
   Venture on Him, venture wholly,
   Let no other trust intrude;
   None but Jesus, none but Jesus,
   Can do helpless sinners good.

6 Saints and Angels join'd in concert,
   Sing the Praises of the Lamb;
   While the blissful Seats of Heaven,
   Sweetly Echo with his Name,
   Sinners here may do the same.

</idle musing>

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Expanding your horizons

Learning to read the Bible through the eyes of Christians from a different time and place will readily reveal the distorting effect of our own cultural, historical, linguistic, philosophical and, yes, even theological lenses. This is not to assert that the fathers did not have their own warped perspectives and blind spots. It is to argue, however, that we will not arrive at perspective and clarity regarding our own strengths and weaknesses if we refuse to look beyond our own theological and hermeneutical noses. God has been active throughout the church's history and we rob ourselves of the Holy Spirit's gifts if we refuse to budge beyond the comfort zone of our own ideas.—Christopher Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, 35

Come, sinners, to the gospel feast

186 Uxbridge. L. M.

1 COME, sinners, to the gospel feast,
   Let every soul be Jesus’ guest;
   Ye need not one be left behind,
   For God hath bidden all mankind.

2 Sent by my Lord, on you I call;
   The invitation is to all:
   Come, all the world; come, sinner, thou!
   All things in Christ are ready now.

3 Come, all ye souls by sin oppressed,
   Ye restless wanderers after rest,
   Ye poor, and maimed, and halt, and blind,
   In Christ a hearty welcome find.

4 His love is mighty to compel;
   His conquering love consent to feel,
   Yield to His love’s resistless power,
   And fight against your God no more.

5 This is the time; no more delay!
   This is the Lord’s accepted day;
   Come in, this moment, at His call,
   And live for Him who died for all.
                         Charles Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Which tradition?

Many conservative Protestant interpreters, though uncomfortable to find themselves slumbering with Enlightenment and postmodernist bedfellows, will fail to discern or acknowledge the necessity of studying the fathers. The deep-seated Protestant suspicion of tradition and its confidence in the ability of renewed reason alone to understand Scripture will lead many to shy away from investing time and energy in exploring patristic thought, believing it better to focus on the world of the Bible itself. The intervening centuries, some will assert, have largely been characterized by distortion and error, especially in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox worlds. To return to the fathers as a source of interpretation appears to necessitate a return to Rome or Constantinople. For some, radical reformers such as Menno Simons seem much closer to the truth in their call for a return to the pristine world of the early first-century Christian community.—Christopher Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, 31

<idle musing>
While that is true, beware of going to the opposite extreme and unthinkingly embracing the traditions of the fathers. And, while we're at it, beware of unthinkingly embracing the faith tradition you are a part of, too, whether it be Reformed, Lutheran, Baptist, anabaptist, Brethren, Wesleyan, what have you. They all are now traditions! For that matter, the Enlightenment is a tradition, too. Think about that for a minute.
</idle musing>

God calling!

185 Federal Street. L. M.

1 God calling yet! shall I not hear?
   Earth’s pleasures shall I still hold dear?
   Shall life’s swift passing years all fly,
   And still my soul in slumber lie?

2 God calling yet! Shall I not rise?
   Can I His loving voice despise,
   And basely His kind care repay?
   He calls me still; can I delay?

3 God calling yet! And shall I give
   No heed, but still in bondage live?
   I wait, but He does not forsake;
   He calls me still; my heart, awake!

4 God calling yet! I cannot stay;
   My heart I yield without delay;
   Vain world, farewell! From thee I part;
   The voice of God hath reached my heart.
                         Gerhard Tersteegen
                         Tr. by Jane Borthwick
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Be sure to read the biography of Tersteegen. Sounds like a good person to know about. Here's an excerpt from the biography at the link above:

Tersteegen has more definiteness of teaching, a firmer grasp of the Christian verities, and a greater clearness in exposition. Inner union of the soul with God and Christ, the childlike simplicity and trust which this brings, renunciation of the world and of self, and daily endeavour to live as in the presence of God and in preparation for the vision of God, are the keynotes of his hymns. To his intense power of realising the unseen, his clear and simple diction, and the evident sincerity with which he sets forth his own Christian experience, his hymns owe much of their attractiveness and influence.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, October 24, 2023


Postmodern hermeneutics has helped us to see that our cultural, historical and social environment affects and conditions what we see and understand of another’s text and world.

The danger of the postmodern corrective lies in its tendency to collapse ontology, epistemology and ethics into interpretation itself.—Christopher Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, 29

Tozer for Tuesday

There was an old man that carried a 300-pound bag of grain on his shoulder while he was riding his mare, and somebody said, “Why don’t you put the grain on the front of the horse’s neck ahead of you?” And he said, “She’s got burden enough without carrying that, too; I’m a heavy man.”

We carry our burden while God carries us as well as our burden. Why not be sensible and roll the burden off on God?—A.W. Tozer, Living as a Christian, 209

Only trust him

184 Stockton. 8. 6. 8. 6. With Refrain.

1 Come, every soul by sin oppressed,
   There's mercy with the Lord;
   And He will surely give you rest,
   By trusting in His word.

   Only trust Him, only trust Him,
   Only trust Him now;
   He will save you, He will save you,
   He will save you now.

2 For Jesus shed His precious blood
   Rich blessings to bestow;
   Plunge now into the crimson flood
   That washes white as snow.

3 Yes, Jesus is the truth, the way,
   That leads you into rest;
   Believe in Him without delay,
   And you are fully blest.

4 Come then and join this holy band,
   And on to glory go,
   To dwell in that celestial land,
   Where joys immortal flow.
                         John H. Stockton
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Monday, October 23, 2023

Sola scriptura?

The slogan sola Scriptura, then, is the frank assertion and admission, as Anthony Lane puts it, “that the church can err.” The fathers themselves insisted that the church be held accountable to Scripture. At the same time, sola Scriptura has never meant that the only resources the Christian needs to understand God’s Word well are the Bible and the Holy Spirit. The ideal of the autonomous interpreter can more easily be laid at the steps of the Enlightenment than the Reformation. Rather, Reformers such as Luther and Calvin wisely considered the history, councils, creeds and tradition of the church, including the fathers’ writings, as a rich resource ignored only by the foolish or arrogant.—Christopher Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, 13–14

<idle musing>
Indeed! And ignoring all those resources, as we have done in the US, has landed us in our current theology-free christian nationalist wasteland. Not that the blame is entirely there, but it definitely contributed!
</idle musing>

Spirit of faith, come down

183 Bealoth. S. M. D.

1 SPIRIT of faith, come down,
   Reveal the things of God;
   And make to us the Godhead known,
   And witness with the blood.
   ’Tis thine the blood to apply,
   And give us eyes to see
   Who did for every sinner die
   Hath surely died for me.

2 No man can truly say
   That Jesus is the Lord.
   Unless Thou take the veil away.
   And breathe the living word.
   Then, only then, we feel,
   Our interest in His blood,
   And cry, with joy unspeakable:
   Thou art my Lord, my God.

3 O that the world might know
   The all-atoning Lamb!
   Spirit of faith, descend, and show
   The virtue of His name.
   The grace which all may find
   The saving power impart;
   And testify to all mankind,
   And speak in every heart.
                         Charles Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Hymnary.org adds another verse:

Inspire the living faith,
   Which whosoe’er receives,
   The witness in himself he hath,
   And consciously believes.
   The faith that conquers all,
   And doth the mountain move,
   And saves whoe’er on Jesus call,
   And perfects them in love.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Artemis? Or Jesus? Which is it?

What is of interest here is that Artemis was also spoken of as “appearing.” One expression relating to Artemis used in the Salutaris inscription was “the most manifest goddess.” The use of epiphany language was also widespread in Greco-Roman religion, including in the imperial cult.

Although the point is not explicitly polemical, the readers of 1–2 Timothy are being told by the author that the true “manifestation” of a god in this world is Jesus Christ, not Artemis. So the language does have a polemical edge to it, for those with ears to hear. But in addition, the language used in the city of Artemis is here being applied to Jesus. This is a contextualization of the message—the adoption of the epiphany schema and its associated language as a vehicle for the expression of the author’s christology.—Paul Trebilco, “Not Engaging the City: Reading 1 and 2 Timothy and the Johannine Letters in the City of Ephesus,” in The Urban World and the First Christians, 169

O Spirit of the living God

182 St. Leonard. C. M. D.

1 O Spirit of the living God,
   thou light and fire divine,
   descend upon thy church once more,
   and make it truly thine.
   Fill it with love and joy and power,
   with righteousness and peace;
   till Christ shall dwell in human hearts,
   and sin and sorrow cease.

2 Blow, wind of God! With wisdom blow
   until our minds are free
   from mists of error, clouds of doubt,
   which blind our eyes to thee.
   Burn, winged fire! Inspire our lips
   with flaming love and zeal,
   to preach to all thy great good news,
   God's glorious commonweal.

3 Teach us to utter living words
   of truth which all may hear,
   the language all may understand
   when love speaks loud and clear;
   till every age and race and clime
   shall blend their creeds in one,
   and earth shall form one family
   by whom thy will is done.

4 So shall we know the power of Christ
   who came this world to save;
   so shall we rise with him to life
   which soars beyond the grave;
   and earth shall win true holiness,
   which makes thy children whole;
   till, perfected by thee, we reach
   creation's glorious goal!
                         Henry H. Tweedy
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Artemis and Ephesus

The procession occurred on the days the city assembly met, on important festivals such as the nativity of Artemis and on a number of other occasions. Rogers estimated that the procession would have occurred at least once every two weeks throughout the year, and that the whole procession would have lasted at least ninety minutes on each occasion. Since at least two hundred and sixty individuals were involved in the procession through the streets, it would have hindered, if not totally halted travel in the city on each occasion. Salutaris clearly intended the procession to be a significant event in the city each time it occurred.—Paul Trebilco, “Not Engaging the City: Reading 1 and 2 Timothy and the Johannine Letters in the City of Ephesus,” in The Urban World and the First Christians, 160

Take my life and let it be…

225. Messiah. 7. 7. 7. 7. D.

1. Take my life, and let it be
   consecrated, Lord, to thee.
   Take my moments and my days;
   let them flow in ceaseless praise.
   Take my hands, and let them move
   at the impulse of thy love.
   Take my feet, and let them be
   swift and beautiful for thee.

2. Take my voice, and let me sing
   always, only, for my King.
   Take my lips, and let them be
   filled with messages from thee.
   Take my silver and my gold;
   not a mite would I withhold.
   Take my intellect, and use
   every power as thou shalt choose.

3. Take my will, and make it thine;
   it shall be no longer mine.
   Take my heart, it is thine own;
   it shall be thy royal throne.
   Take my love, my Lord, I pour
   at thy feet its treasure-store.
   Take myself, and I will be
   ever, only, all for thee.
                         Frances Havergal
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I know that many hymnals break this down into six verses, with the final line of each verse being repeated. Even though I grew up with this hymnal, the version I remember best is the one with six verses. That's the version that Debbie and I sing and have memorized.

No matter which version you sing, it's a great hymn of consecration.
</idle musing>

Breath on me, breath of God

180 Trentham. S. M.

1 Breathe on me, Breath of God,
   Fill me with life anew,
   That I may love what Thou dost love
   And do what Thou wouldst do.

2 Breathe on me, Breath of God,
   Until my heart is pure,
   Until with Thee I will one will,
   To do and to endure.

3 Breathe on me, Breath of God,
   Till I am wholly Thine,
   Till all this earthly part of me
   Glows with Thy fire divine.

4 Breathe on me, Breath of God,
   So shall I never die,
   But live with Thee the perfect life
   Of Thine eternity.
                         Edwin Hatch
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Friday, October 20, 2023

In a nutshell

The text in context, when properly translated, does not describe the conquest as judgment on the Canaanites for their sins. None of the normal Hebrew words indicating crime or punishment are ever used to describe the Canaanites or their actions. The descriptions of Canaanite nations in Leviticus 18 and Deuteronomy 9 are, in context, invoking a well-established ancient Near Eastern literary trope about hordes of invincible barbarians who are established by the gods to cause trouble for the servants of the gods before being destroyed by the gods. The purpose of the trope is not to justify attacking the barbarians and exterminating them, because the trope is normally used to describe enemies that the documents’ sponsor either cannot defeat or does not wish to fight. In Leviticus and Deuteronomy, the trope is not intended to describe the actual qualities of the historical people of Canaan. Rather, the imagery is employed to portray the conquest event as God driving away the forces of chaos in a recapitulation of the biblical creation story. This in turn is designed to interpret the conquest event as the establishment of a new created order and to interpret the covenant as the manifestation of that order. Finally, Genesis 15:16 does not say that the conquest was delayed so that the Canaanites could build up a balance of enough sin to warrant their destruction; it says that the conquest was delayed so that the violence and turmoil would not occur during the lifetime of either Abraham or his Amorite allies.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 256

<idle musing>
And that's the argument of the entire book. I tend to agree with them, but the mechanics of it are still difficult. Perhaps this, one of the final paragraphs in the book, sums up everything:

Understanding the Bible as what it is and according to what it actually says does not solve all our problems. It does not help us work out a philosophy of ethics, or of war, or to somehow vindicate God and his undertakings described in the Bible. Being faithful interpreters requires careful reading. Questions remain about how we should think about war today, but we cannot force those answers from the text. (258)
Indeed! So basically, I come away from this book with a better understanding of what ḥerem means, even though I don't agree with them totally, but I don't come any closer to understanding how to reconcile it with my ethics.

So, that's the end of this foray into ḥerem! I hope you learned something and are less frustrated by the book than I am! Monday we'll start a different book, one that's been on my shelf for quite a while: Christopher Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers. I'm looking forward to it!
</idle musing>

Spirit of God, who dwells within my heart

179 Morecambe. 10. 10. 10. 10.

1 Spirit of God, who dwells within my heart,
   wean it from sin, through all its pulses move.
   Stoop to my weakness, mighty as you are,
   and make me love you as I ought to love.

2 I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,
   no sudden rending of the veil of clay,
   no angel visitant, no opening skies;
   but take the dimness of my soul away.

3 Did you not bid us love you, God and King,
   love you with all our heart and strength and mind?
   I see the cross there teach my heart to cling.
   O let me seek you and O let me find!

4 Teach me to feel that you are always nigh;
   teach me the struggles of the soul to bear,
   to check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh;
   teach me the patience of unceasing prayer.

5 Teach me to love you as your angels love,
   one holy passion filling all my frame:
   the fullness of the heaven-descended Dove;
   my heart an altar, and your love the flame.
                         George Croly
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Thursday, October 19, 2023

What if?

I'm not going to say anything about the mess in the Middle East except that it's complicated. But, I can't help wondering, Would the results be different if we had taken a larger fraction of all the money spent on weapons and barricades and the like and spent them on humanitarian aid instead?

What was it Eisenhower said? Something about every dollar spent on a weapon was a dollar stolen from education or some humanitarian cause. He should know. He saw the results first hand in Europe.

A peace ethic

"A peace ethic embodies the self-denial ethic of Jesus. A peace ethic volitionally and communally participates in the cruciform pattern of the life of Jesus. Through the power of God's grace and the indwelling Spirit of God the participant in the way of Jesus is transformed into the Christoform life."—Scot McKnight, Audacity of Peace, 10

A consistent hermeneutic

Now we return to the issue with which we began. When we try to understand what the Bible says, it is of utmost importance that we approach the text consistently. We cannot take individual passages or verses in isolation and apply whatever particular logical process is necessary to make them say what we want them to say or think they should say. This is true whether we are apologists trying to defend the Bible or anti-Christian critics attempting to defame it. Inconsistent interpretations are of no value, and their conclusions should not be seriously considered by anyone.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 253

<idle musing>
I agree 100 percent. It's an admirable goal and one to which we should all aspire. But after reading this book twice now, and looking at the reviews and interacting with the few comments left here, I have to think that there are some hermeneutical gymnastics going on.

As much as I wish I could find a logical, agreeable solution to ḥerem, I'm still left without one. And that's probably ok. Somethings just aren't understandable this side of paradise—I just wish I could choose which ones!
</idle musing>

Spirit of Life, in this new dawn

178 Maryton. L. M.

1. Spirit of Life, in this new dawn,
   Give us the faith that follows on,
   Letting thine all-pervading power
   Fulfill the dream of this high hour.

2. Spirit Creative, give us light,
   Lifting the raveled mists of night.
   Touch thou our dust with spirit hand
   And make us souls that understand.

3. Spirit Redeeming, give us grace,
   When crucified to seek thy face,
   To read forgiveness in thine eyes–
   Today with Thee in Paradise.

4. Spirit Consoling, let us find
   Thy hand when sorrows leave us blind.
   In the gray valley let us hear
   Thy silent Voice: “Lo, I am near.”

5. Spirit of Love, at evening time,
   When weary feet refuse to climb,
   Give us thy vision, eyes that see
   Beyond the dark, the dawn, and thee.
                         Earl Marlatt
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Oh, those infidels! Or, you're looking in the wrong direction…

Christians are not supposed to ḥerem infidels and nonbelievers for the sake of purging the world of apostasy. They are not supposed to conquer territory and subject it to theocratic rule, and they are not supposed to pass murderous judgment on out-group individuals because of their immorality. Instead, they are supposed to ḥerem themselves for the sake of the integrity of the Christian community, not as punishment but in order to make space for God to carry out his purposes through their lives. That is what the conquest of Canaan did within the context and purpose of the old covenant, and that is what Christians are supposed to do within the context and purpose of the new covenant.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 252

<idle musing>
Amen and amen! Now here is an idea I can get behind! The "culture wars" have done more to hurt the Christian witness and destroy true discipleship than anything else—except maybe the crass materialism of the church—in the last 50 years or so. And the current spate of "christian" nationalism is anathema to the biblical witness. The Hebrew prophets would be all over the current christian culture in the US. Their cries for justice still ring out unheeded over 2500 years later.
</idle musing>

Come Holy Ghost, our hearts inspire

175 Winchester Old. C. M.

1 Come Holy Ghost, our hearts inspire,
   let us thine influence prove;
   source of the old prophetic fire,
   fountain of life and love.

2 Come, Holy Ghost, for, moved by thee,
   thy prophets wrote and spoke:
   unlock the truth, thyself the key,
   unseal the sacred book.

3 Expand thy wings, celestial Dove,
   brood o'er our nature's night;
   on our disordered spirits move,
   and let there now be light.

4 God, through himself, we then shall know,
   if thou within us shine;
   and sound, with all thy saints below,
   the depths of love divine.
                         Charles Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Ḥerem in the New Testament?

In the New Testament’s own language, the ḥerem of the self is represented by such phrases as “crucified with Christ”: “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” (Gal 2:20). Likewise, the argument of Romans 6:3–4, 13: “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death.… Rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.” Similar statements are found in Galatians 5:24 (“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires”) and 2 Corinthians 5:15 (“And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again”). A similar idea is expressed in the phrase “you were bought with a price” (1 Cor 6:20; 7:23) and the epithet “servant of Christ” (e.g., Rom 1:1). Christians are not allowed to make use of themselves; their persons and their lives belong to God to do with as he pleases.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 240-41

<idle musing>
Interesting thought, but unconvincing to me.
</idle musing>

Tozer for Tuesday

Pleasure seeking is nothing else but a reaction to fear. “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” If I am going to die tomorrow, I might as well make good of it while I can and make what I can of life. So eat, drink and be merry today, for tomorrow that deadly thing appears, that fearful thing, death. That is the way some people act; they go wild. They do not want to face the anxieties, and so they go out and scatter anxieties for a little time by worldly pleasures. That is why if you can think of a new thing to please the people and make them play, then you can be sure of a lot of money.—A.W. Tozer, Living as a Christian, 205

<idle musing>
He wrote/spoke those words over 60 years ago. I wonder what he would say today? We've made that time look tame in our chasing after the wind...
</idle musing>

Holy Spirit, truth divine

173 Mercy. 7. 7. 7. 7.

1. Holy Spirit, Truth divine,
   dawn upon this soul of mine;
   Word of God and inward light,
   wake my spirit, clear my sight.

2. Holy Spirit, Love divine,
   glow within this heart of mine;
   kindle every high desire;
   perish self in thy pure fire.

3. Holy Spirit, Power divine,
   fill and nerve this will of mine;
   grant that I may strongly live,
   bravely bear, and nobly strive.

4. Holy Spirit, Right divine,
   King within my conscience reign;
   be my Lord, and I shall be
   firmly bound, forever free.
                         Samuel Longfellow
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Interesting tidbit about the author: He is the brother of Longfellow the poet! And he was a Unitarian, but you would never know that from the words to this hymn.

Hymnary.org lists more verses:

4 Holy Spirit, Law divine,
   reign within this soul of mine.
   Be my law and I shall be
   firmly bound, forever free.

5 Holy Spirit, Peace divine,
   still this restless heart of mine.
   Speak to calm this tossing sea,
   grant me your tranquility.

6 Holy Spirit, Joy divine,
   gladden now this heart of mine.
   In the desert ways I sing,
   spring, O living Water, spring!

</idle musing>

Monday, October 16, 2023


The ḥerem of the cities turns control of the territory over to Yahweh, but the order in the land that represents the king’s stable and functioning rule has not yet been established, and indeed is not established until the time of Solomon. This, incidentally, is why David is not allowed to build the victory stele, which is represented by the Jerusalem temple. It is not because the blood of his wars has made him somehow ritually impure; rather, his tumultuous reign is not indicative of the stability, order, and prosperity that the suzerain’s monument should represent (see 1 Kings 5:3). David is the warlord who completes the conquest, but it is Solomon who is appointed regent to preside over Yahweh’s territory as the representative of the established covenant order. But before Yahweh can celebrate the triumph over chaos by erecting his monument, chaos has to be brought under control. The process of replacing the existing chaos with the covenant order is represented by the ḥerem not of the Canaanite cites but of the Canaanite communities, as discussed in proposition sixteen.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 228–29

<idle musing>
I can see this, and it makes sense to an extent, but I still don't see how the ḥereming of the Canaanite communities isn't genocide—even though they aren't necessarily killed, their culture is destroyed. And with Walton making such strong claims that the Canaanites aren't being judged, that seems contradictory.

Of course, there is always the possibility that I'm wrong. That maybe culture isn't supposed to be preserved. But, as a person whose life has been oriented toward studying the past, I find that thought hard to stomach.
</idle musing>

Come, Holy Spirit

172 St. Martin's. C. M.

1 Come, Holy Spirit, heav'nly Dove,
   With all Thy quick'ning pow'rs;
   Kindle a flame of sacred love
   In these cold hearts of ours.

2 In vain we tune our formal songs,
   In vain we strive to rise;
   Hosannas languish on our tongues,
   And our devotion dies.

3 And shall we then forever live
   At this poor dying rate?
   Our love so faint, so cold to Thee,
   And Thine to us so great!

4 Come, Holy Spirit, heav'nly Dove,
   With all Thy quick'ning pow'rs;
   Come, shed abroad the Savior’s love
   And that shall kindle ours.
                         Isaac Watts
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Rejoice, the Lord is king

171 Darwall. 6. 6. 6. 6. 8 . 8.

1 Rejoice, the Lord is King:
   Your Lord and King adore!
   Rejoice, give thanks and sing,
   And triumph evermore.
   Lift up your heart,
   Lift up your voice!
   Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

2 Jesus, the Savior, reigns,
   The God of truth and love;
   When He has purged our stains,
   He took his seat above;
   Lift up your heart,
   Lift up your voice!
   Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

3 His kingdom cannot fail,
   He rules o'er earth and heav'n;
   The keys of death and hell
   Are to our Jesus giv'n:
   Lift up your heart,
   Lift up your voice!
   Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!
                         Charles Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
A great hymn by a great hymnwriter! The version I prefer has a fourth verse:

4 Rejoice in glorious hope!
   Our Lord and judge shall come
   And take His servants up
   To their eternal home:
   Lift up your heart,
   Lift up your voice!
   Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!
</idle musing>

Saturday, October 14, 2023

When will we ever learn?

From a Google books preview of Scot McKnight's Audacity of Peace (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2022), 8:
International saviors save little and sin lots.
<idle musing>
Indeed! When will we ever learn?

I've got to get this book! The table of contents looks great, as do the few pages I can see in the Google preview
</idle musing>

Crown him with many crowns

170 Diademata. S. M. D.

1. Crown Him with many crowns,
   The Lamb upon His throne;
   Hark! How the heav’nly anthem drowns
   All music but its own!
   Awake, my soul and sing
   Of Him Who died for thee,
   And hail Him as thy matchless King
   Through all eternity.

2. Crown Him the Lord of life!
   Who triumphed o’er the grave,
   Who rose victorious in the strife
   For those He came to save.
   His glories now we sing,
   Who died, and rose on high,
   Who died eternal life to bring,
   And lives that death may die.

3. Crown Him the Lord of peace,
   whose power a scepter sways
   From pole to pole, that wars may cease,
   and all be prayer and praise.
   His reign shall know no end,
   and round His piercèd feet
   Fair flowers of paradise extend
   their fragrance ever sweet.

4. Crown Him the Lord of love!
   Behold His hands and side—
   Those wounds, yet visible above,
   In beauty glorified.
   No angel in the sky
   Can fully bear that sight,
   But downward bends His wond’ring eye
   At mysteries so bright.
                         Matthew Bridges
                         and Godfrey Thring
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
This hymn has many variations and verses. The version that Debbie and I like best adds these verses:

Crown Him the Lord of Heav’n,
   enthroned in worlds above,
   Crown Him the king to whom is giv’n
   the wondrous name of Love.
   Crown Him with many crowns,
   as thrones before Him fall;
   Crown Him, ye kings, with many crowns,
   for He is king of all.

Crown Him the Lord of lords,
   who over all doth reign,
   Who once on earth, the incarnate Word,
   for ransomed sinners slain,
   Now lives in realms of light,
   where saints with angels sing
   Their songs before Him day and night,
   their God, Redeemer, King.

Crown Him the Lord of years,
   the potentate of time,
   Creator of the rolling spheres,
   ineffably sublime.
   All hail, Redeemer, hail!
   For Thou has died for me;
   Thy praise and glory shall not fail
   throughout eternity.

And Cyberhymnal adds two I had never seen before:
Crown Him the virgin’s son,
   the God incarnate born,
   Whose arm those crimson trophies won
   which now His brow adorn;
   Fruit of the mystic rose,
   as of that rose the stem;
   The root whence mercy ever flows,
   the Babe of Bethlehem.

Crown Him the Son of God,
   before the worlds began,
   And ye who tread where He hath trod,
   crown Him the Son of Man;
   Who every grief hath known
   that wrings the human breast,
   And takes and bears them for His own,
   that all in Him may rest.

And the variation on the what the angels in the sky do and why varies all over the place. Another question: Who wrote which verses? It's not clear, but according to hymnary.org, the hymn occurs in 713 hymnals attributed at least partially to Bridges, but only 143 attribute it to Thring. Not worth pursuing further, but it is curious.
</idle musing>

Friday, October 13, 2023

Why is Saul deposed?

As the text implies, this [erecting a victory stela after a battle] is exactly what Saul thinks he is doing. He has won a glorious victory and taken territory (1 Sam 15:7) and built a monument to himself (1 Sam 15:12), probably crediting Yahweh with the victory. Spoils are taken, not for themselves, as Achan did, but “to sacrifice to the LORD” (1 Sam 15:15). From a typical ancient Near Eastern perspective, Saul has acted with full propriety, as he himself states in 1 Samuel 15:13. However, by sparing the king, Saul has defeated the entire purpose of ḥerem against a community (see proposition eighteen); he may as well have done nothing at all. More severely, however, he has effectively declared independence from his suzerain by honoring himself in place of the emperor and by taking a vassal of his own (Agag’s thinking in 1 Sam 15:32 indicates that he expects to be subjugated rather than executed). This explains Samuel’s odd reference to divination and idols (lit. terāphîm, NIV “idolatry”) in 1 Samuel 15:23; in covenant ideology, these represent breaches of political loyalty to the divine sovereign (see proposition eight). The divine sovereign’s retribution against Saul likewise follows standard procedure; the rebellious regent is dethroned and replaced.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 227–28

Hail, Thou once despised Jesus!

166 Autumn. 8. 7. 8. 7. D.

1 Hail, Thou once despised Jesus!
   Hail, Thou Galilean king!
   Thou didst suffer to release us;
   Thou didst free salvation bring.
   Hail, Thou agonizing Savior,
   bearer of our sin and shame!
   By Thy merit we find favor;
   life is given through Thy name.

2 Paschal Lamb, by God appointed,
   all our sins on Thee were laid;
   by almighty Love anointed,
   Thou hast full atonement made:
   all Thy people are forgiven
   through the virtue of Thy blood;
   opened is the gate of heaven;
   peace is made 'twixt man and God.

3 Jesus, hail, enthroned in glory,
   there forever to abide!
   All the heav'nly host adore Thee,
   seated at Thy Father's side.
   There for sinners Thou art pleading;
   there Thou dost our place prepare;
   ever for us interceding,
   till in glory we appear.

4 Worship, honor, pow'r, and blessing
   Thou art worthy to receive;
   highest praises, without ceasing,
   meet it is for us to give.
   Help, ye bright angelic spirits,
   bring your sweetest, noblest lays;
   help to sing our Savior's merits;
   help to chant Immanuel's praise!
                         John Bakewell
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Ramifications of ḥerem

Putting an entire province to ḥerem does not create a province for one’s realm; it creates an empty demilitarized zone. Joshua can harem his entire country because of the understanding, so far unattested outside Israel, that the deity will allow his chosen humans to occupy the banned space. Outside Israel, therefore, ḥerem is only enacted against token cities as a pious gesture of gratitude to the patron deity (see discussion in proposition fifteen and the excursus in proposition eighteen) and perhaps also as a means to intimidate surrounding enemies (compare Sennacherib’s threat to Hezekiah in 2 Kings 19:11). It is also worth noting, however, that the lack of ḥerem does not necessarily correspond to what we would consider a more humane treatment of enemies; all of Mesha’s enemies are killed (hrg), even if the city they formerly occupied is not ḥerem.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 206

All hail the power of Jesus' name!

164 Coronation C. M. (first tune) or Miles' Lane C. M. (second tune) or Diadem C. M. (third tune)

1. All hail the power of Jesus’ name!
   Let angels prostrate fall;
   Bring forth the royal diadem,
   And crown Him Lord of all.

2. Ye seed of Israel’s chosen race,
   ye ransomed from the fall,
   Hail Him who saves you by His grace,
   And crown Him Lord of all.

3. Sinners, whose love can ne’er forget
   the wormwood and the gall,
   Go spread your trophies at His feet,
   And crown Him Lord of all.

4. Let every kindred every tribe,
   On this terrestrial ball,
   To him all majesty ascribe,
   And crown him Lord of all.

5. O that, with yonder sacred throng,
   We at His feet may fall,
   We'll join the everlasting song,
   And crown Him Lord of all,
                         Edward Perronet
                         Alt. by John Rippon
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I grew up singing the first tune, and was unfamiliar with the other two until I transferred to Asbury College. There, in a chapel of about 1000 voices, I was introduced to the third tune. It was amazing to hear (and sing) with that many people, many of whom were fully able to sing the four parts. Personally, I can only carry my part when I'm standing beside someone else singing that part, much to my chagrin—and others' frustration!

I don't think I've ever heard the second tune used.

Hymnary.org adds a whole bunch of verses (via Cyberhymnal) and the final verse above is so different that it is essentially a different verse. I suspect the one below is the original version. That said, I prefer the modified one : )

2. Let highborn seraphs tune the lyre,
   And as they tune it, fall
   Before His face who tunes their choir,
   And crown Him Lord of all.

3. Crown Him, ye morning stars of light,
   Who fixed this floating ball;
   Now hail the strength of Israel’s might,
   And crown Him Lord of all.

4. Crown Him, ye martyrs of your God,
   Who from His altar call;
   Extol the Stem of Jesse’s Rod,
   And crown Him Lord of all.

6. Hail Him, ye heirs of David’s line,
   Whom David Lord did call,
   The God incarnate, Man divine,
   And crown Him Lord of all,

8. Let every tribe and every tongue
   Before Him prostrate fall
   And shout in universal song
   The crownèd Lord of all.

You should read the biography of Peronnet linked to above. Fascinating man. As is the tidbit that the second tune was composed by the organist at his church to go with this particular hymn.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

What do the omens say?

In the ancient Near East, nobody wanted to go into battle without the support of the gods. Therefore, before departing for battle, kings and generals would read omens and consult various forms of divination to ensure that the gods were indeed favorable toward the endeavor. “The first action before battle as seen in the Mesopotamian context is to seek the divine will.… It is expected to avoid defeat or remove any conditions offensive to the gods.” [Kang, Divine War, 56] The Bible records Nebuchadnezzar seeking omens on his way to attack Jerusalem (Ezek 21:21), and Saul seeks an omen from a medium before his final battle (1 Sam 28:8, after conventional methods fail, 1 Sam 28:6). If the omen was unfavorable, the army would try to appease the deity before going to battle (as Joshua does in Josh 7, as the assembly does in Judg 20:26, and as Saul tries [unsuccessfully] to do in 1 Sam 13:12,4 and again in 1 Sam 14:37–44). In Israel prebattle omens were normally sought by inquiring of Yahweh (e.g., Judg 20:27) by means of the Urim and Thummim (a form of divination, Ex 21:30; see Num 27:21; 1 Sam 28:6), although in 2 Kings 3:11 a prophet is consulted instead.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 196–97

<idle musing>
I think this is one of the hardest things for modern people to grasp. Every time I talk about this, I'm met with blank looks. Just as a modern military wouldn't attack without some kind of intelligence unit giving inside information about the enemy's strength and locations, so the ancients wouldn't attack without inside information. The difference is that the inside information is primarily (not exclusively) coming from the gods—usually via omens, dreams, prophets, or extispicy (reading the liver entrails), etc.

You read about armies facing each other for days at a time, neither side attacking. Sometimes it's for tactical reasons—waiting for reinforcements, or such—but a lot of times, it's waiting for auspicious signs from the gods.

Next time you read through Samuel and Kings, watch for it. You'll see it everywhere.
</idle musing>

Welcome, happy morning!

161 Hermas. 6. 5. 6. 5. D with Refrain.

1 "Welcome, happy morning!"
   age to age shall say:
   "Hell today is vanquished;
   heav'n is won today!"
   Lo, the dead is living,
   God forevermore!
   Him, their true Creator,
   all his works adore.

   "Welcome, happy morning!"
   age to age shall say:
   "Hell today is vanquished;
   heav'n is won today!"

2 Maker and Redeemer,
   life and health of all,
   God from heav'n beholding
   human nature's fall,
   of the Father's Godhead
   you, the only Son,
   mankind to deliver
   manhood did put on. [Refrain]

3 Source of all things living,
   you came down to die,
   plumbed the depths of hell
   to raise us up on high.
   Come, then, true and faithful,
   come fulfill your word;
   this is our third morning—
   rise, O buried Lord. [Refrain]
                         Venantius Fortunatus
                         Tr. by John Ellerton
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I don't recall ever singing this hymn. Interestingly, Frances Havergal wrote the tune they use in the Methodist hymnal. I didn't realize she wrote music; I thought she just wrote lyrics—and powerful ones, too!

Hymnary.org adds a fourth verse:

4 Free the souls long prisoned,
   bound with Satan's chain;
   all that now is fallen
   raise to life again.
   Show your face in brightness;
   shine in ev'ry land
   as in Eden's garden
   when the world began. [Refrain]

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Are you in? Or are you out?

The issue at stake does not concern morality versus immorality, purity versus impurity, or innocence versus crime. The dichotomy is between within the covenant order and outside the covenant order. We might possibly imagine Israel as being a patient undergoing surgery. The procedure carries benefits for them (covenant blessing and relationship with deity in this case), but meanwhile it also carries certain vulnerabilities. The conquest is equivalent to sterilizing the operating room. We don’t have anything in particular against ordinary hospital staff, visitors, pets, food, or even common bacteria, but when the time comes for surgery we clear them all out of the operating room, not because we are angered or offended by anything they are or do but because it is necessary for the patient that the environment be sterile. Contaminants are tô’ēbâ to the operating room; visitors may be allowed inside, but if they are, they must be as sterile as the rest of the environment.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 192

Tozer for Tuesday

To use the faith of Christ to hide evil is to prove ourselves false and bring down judgment on our own heads; and judgment must begin at the house of God.—A.W. Tozer, Living as a Christian, 194

The day of resurrection

159 Rottrdam. 7. 6. 7. 6. D.

1 The day of resurrection!
   Earth, tell it out abroad;
   the passover of gladness,
   the passover of God.
   From death to life eternal,
   from earth unto the sky,
   our Christ hath brought us over,
   with hymns of victory.

2 Our hearts be pure from evil,
   that we may see aright
   the Lord in rays eternal
   of resurrection light;
   and listening to his accents,
   may hear, so calm and plain,
   his own "All hail!" and, hearing,
   may raise the victor strain.

3 Now let the heavens be joyful!
   Let earth the song begin!
   Let the round world keep triumph,
   and all that is therein!
   Let all things seen and unseen
   their notes in gladness blend,
   for Christ the Lord hath risen,
   our joy that hath no end.
                         John of Damascus (c. 750)
                         Tr. by John M. Neale
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
From the biographical blurb on hymnary.org:

After his father's death, John assumed that position and lived in wealth and honor. At about the age of forty, however, he became dissatisfied with his life, gave away his possessions, freed his slaves, and entered the monastery of St. Sabas in the desert near Jerusalem. One of the last of the Greek fathers, John became a great theologian in the Eastern church.
He lived one thousand years before the US Civil War, yet he knew that to be serious about following Christ he had to free his slaves. Let that sink in.
</idle musing>

Monday, October 09, 2023

The Hell dynamic

Good post on the wiles of the enemy at Christian Scholar's Review. Here are the first few paragraphs to whet your appetite, but please, read the whole thing! As my seminary theology professor, Dennis Kinlaw, used to say, "You owe it to yourself!"
Lately, I have been especially attentive to outbreaks, like a rash, of what I call to myself the “Hell dynamic.”

It is a spirit of domination and destruction, in that order. It begins with a struggle for power, exerted with greater or lesser straightforwardness. (This is “domination.”) It ends with a reckoning full of blame and punishment. (This is “destruction.”) It is a subtext underlying all sorts of trivial-seeming conflicts: a quibbling workplace disagreement; a cruel sport on a children’s playground; a face-off between mother and daughter; boasting and whispering at a family reunion.

The “Hell dynamic,” I believe, is simply the result of intelligent existence unmoored to God. It creates abusive hierarchies. Where God, the living water, is absent, ego needs are satiated by bids for control (among the strong) or bids for approval (among the weak). The result, taken to its end, is always Hellish. It is always an arena of shame and punishment.

The strong, unsatisfied by their conquests, externalize their self-blame onto the weak. And their victims, who have sought approval, quiver at what feels like negation. However, even as they are punished, these unfortunate victims are not “seen,” for their tormentors are (unknowingly) looking in a mirror.

This is Hell, well and truly. This is the day-to-day-life, I think, of the demons in their echelons, deprived of God’s presence and forever punching down to slake their misery. When we mimic the demons’ twisted dynamic—which is any time we sneer, judge, shame, or dehumanize—we amplify it through resonance, expanding the reach of deepest Hell.

She goes on to examine academia in particular...

As a side note, my notes from Kinlaw's classes are full of bibliographic references of stuff he suggested we read. Would that I had read more of them!

The stakes are high!

And because the king is thus nothing but a representative of the divine ruler, rebellion is not simply described as an act of disobedience towards a human master but is regarded as insubordination against the god himself.—Bertil Albrektson, History and the Gods: An Essay on the Idea of Historical Events as Divine Manifestations in the Ancient Near East and in Israel, 49

<idle musing>
Sadly, this book is out of print again. I guess Eisenbrauns lost the rights to it; it's not on their site anymore—and I can't find it at any other publisher's site. Some of the book-selling sites (e.g., B&N, AZ) still list it with Eisenbrauns as the supplier, so they must have a few in stock yet.

The mark

The community of the people of the covenant order has an ethnic identity marker, but it is nonetheless not an ethnically defined community whose integrity is maintained by some form of eugenics. Individuals with the Israelite ethnic identity marker must participate, but individuals without it are also allowed to participate. This continues to demonstrate that the emphasis is on identity, not ethnicity.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 186

Away with the gloom!

158 Blairgowrie (Thompson). 8. 8. 8. 6. 4. 6.

1 Away with gloom, away with doubt!
   With all the morning stars we sing;
   with all the hosts of heaven we shout
   the praises of a King,
   alleluia! alleluia!
   of our returning King;
   alleluia! alleluia!
   of our returning King.

2 Away with death, and welcome life;
   in him we died and live again;
   and welcome peace, away with strife!
   for he returns to reign,
   alleluia! alleluia!
   the Crucified shall reign;
   alleluia! alleluia!
   the Crucified shall reign.

3 Then welcome beauty, he is fair;
   and welcome youth, for he is young;
   and welcome spring; and everywhere
   let merry songs be sung,
   alleluia! alleluia!
   for such a King be sung!
   alleluia! alleluia!
   for such a King be sung!
                         Edward Shillito
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Another hymn I don't recall singing! I'm discovering all kinds of treasures blogging through this familiar hymnal. Thanks for joining me in the journey!

Interestingly, hymnary.org has no information on the author of this hymn, and this is the only hymn ascribed to him. And it doesn't seem to have been very popular, only occurring in nine hymnals
</idle musing>

Sunday, October 08, 2023

Joy dawned again on Easter Day

157 Splendour (Puer nobis nascitur). L. M.

1 That Easter day with joy was bright:
   The sun shone out with fairer light
   When, to their longing eyes restored,
   The apostles saw their risen Lord!

2 His risen flesh with radiance glowed;
   His wounded hands and feet He showed;
   Those scars their solemn witness gave
   That Christ was risen from the grave.

3 O Jesus, King of gentleness,
   With constant love our hearts possess
   That we may give You all our days
   The tribute of our grateful praise.

4 All praise to you, O risen Lord,
   Now both by heav’n and earth adored;
   To God the Father equal praise,
   And God the Spirit, now we raise!
                         Authorship uncertain
                         Tr. by John M. Neale
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Once again, I don't recall ever singing this hymn growing up. It seems that on Easter we would sing two hymns year after year—great hymns, mind you! But, perhaps we missed something by not including others. You can probably guess the two: Christ the Lord has risen today, and Up from the grave he arose.

hymnary.org inserts a verse after verse 3:

4 O Lord of all, with us abide
   In this our joyful Eastertide;
   From ev’ry weapon death can wield
   Your own redeemed forever shield.

Saturday, October 07, 2023

Alleluia! The strife is o'er

156 Victory. 8. 8. 8. 4. with Alleluias

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

1 The strife is o'er, the battle done;
   the victory of life is won;
   the song of triumph has begun.

2 The powers of death have done their worst,
   but Christ their legions has dispersed.
   Let shouts of holy joy outburst.

3 The three sad days are quickly sped;
   he rises glorious from the dead.
   All glory to our risen Head.

4 Lord, by the stripes which wounded thee,
   from death's dread sting thy servants free,
   that we may live and sing to thee.
                         Authorship uncertain
                         Tr. by Francis Potts
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I don't recall singing this hymn when I was growing up, but it seems to be quite popular, occurring in 488 hymnals according to hymnary.org. They also insert a verse after verse 3:

4 He closed the yawning gates of hell;
   the bars from heaven's high portals fell.
   Let hymns of praise his triumph tell.
</idle musing>

Friday, October 06, 2023

Who did it?

The utter destruction of the city [Ur] was wrought, in our terms, by the barbaric hordes which attacked it. Not so in terms of the Mesopotamian's own understanding of his universe: the wild destructive essence manifest in this attack was Enlil’s. The enemy hordes were but a cloak, an outward form under which that essence realized itself. In a deeper, truer sense the barbaric hordes were a storm, Enlil's storm, wherewith the god himself was executing a verdict passed on Ur and its people by the assembly of the gods; and as that storm the enemy attack is seen and described.—Bertil Albrektson, History and the Gods: An Essay on the Idea of Historical Events as Divine Manifestations in the Ancient Near East and in Israel, 28

Is it still genocide, though?

The idea that the conquest is an act of genocide is based on the assumption that the ḥerem of the Canaanite nations is a command to kill people of a particular ethnicity (derived from Deut 7:2). The idea that the ḥerem is divine punishment for offenses against God is based on the assumption that the ḥerem of Israelite idolaters in Deuteronomy 13:15 (also Ex 22:20) is a command to carry out a death sentence in consequence for a particular crime. Both of these assumptions are false. ḥerem does not mean “destroy”; it means “remove from use.” Individual people who are not slaves (as enemies and idolaters are not) cannot be removed from use because they are not used. What is being removed from use (via subsequent destruction) is not people but rather the identity that those people use to define themselves. This is true in the case of the larger Canaanite national identities and also of smaller subcommunities within Israel.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 179

<idle musing>
One reviewer, I forget who, pointed out that destruction of national identity is still by definition genocide. He has a very valid point (it was a he, that I remember). Just because you don't destroy the people, doesn't mean that you aren't conducting genocide—look at what Russia is doing in the Ukraine. Yes, they are killing, but far more importantly, they are trying to destroy Ukrainian identity, which is why they are taking young kids for "reeducation" in Russia—turning them into Russians, even though their genealogy is Ukrainian.

So, as I said the other day, I'm still mulling this over—and probably will be for a good long while. ḥerem is such a complicated idea that defies explanations.
</idle musing>

Christ the Lord is risen today!

154 Easter Hymn. 7. 7. 7. 7. with Alleluias

1 Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
   Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
   Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
   Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

2 Love's redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
   Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
   Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
   Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!

3 Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
   Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
   Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
   Where's thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!

4 Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
   Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
   Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
   Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!
                         Charles Wesley
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
The United Methodist Hymnal of 1989 adds two verses:

5 Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
   Praise to thee by both be given, Alleluia!
   Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
   Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

6 King of glory, soul of bliss, Alleluia!
   Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
   Thee to know, thy power to prove, Alleluia!
   Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia!

This is definitely one of my favorite hymns of all time. It speaks to the promise of what Christ has done and shows the path for us as Christians—through the cross and the grave to the skies. And we can experience much of the future promise today by faith, after all, we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies at the right hand of God!
</idle musing>

Thursday, October 05, 2023

It's a lease—with conditions

The most important parallel to the Hittite document, however, is what happens to the city as a result of the harem. Mursili gives the site of the city to his god Tešub to be used as a pasture for his bulls. Joshua likewise gives the cities to Yahweh for Yahweh to use, but Yahweh has a different use in mind. Mursili destroyed his city, but Joshua leaves most of them intact, because Yahweh’s intended use of them requires them intact: Yahweh is going to lease the land back to Israel. Because the land is ḥerem, Israel cannot make use of it for itself, but it belongs to Yahweh, and so Yahweh can do whatever he wants with it. What Yahweh chooses do with his land is to allow Israel to use it, provisionally on Israel’s fidelity to the covenant.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 177

<idle musing>
I really like this idea—that YHWH is leasing the land back. It's like a return to Eden in a way. God is starting again (and again, and again, and…)
</idle musing>

Come, ye faithful, raise the strain (John of Damascus)

151 St. Kevin. 7. 6. 7. 6. D.

1 Come, ye faithful, raise the strain
   Of triumphant gladness;
   God hath brought His people forth
   Into joy from sadness.
   Now rejoice, Jerusalem,
   and with true affection
   Welcome in unwearied strains
   Jesus' resurrection.

2 'Tis the spring of souls today;
   Christ hath burst His prison,
   From the frost and gloom of death
   Light and life have risen.
   All the winter of our sins,
   Long and dark, is flying
   From His light, to whom we give
   Thanks and praise undying.

3 "Alleluia!" now we cry
   To our King Immortal,
   Who, triumphant, burst the bars
   Of the tomb’s dark portal;
   "Alleluia!" with the Son,
   God the Father praising:
   "Alleluia!" yet again
   To the Spirit raising.
                        John of Damascus 8th century
                        Tr. by John M. Neale
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
As is usual with these ancient hymns, multiple versions abound. For this particular one hymnary.org chose Christian Worship: Hymnal as its base text and it's verses are significantly different, with five verses instead of three. Actually, I prefer this one over the Methodist Hymnal version:

1 Come, you faithful, raise the strain
   of triumphant gladness!
   God has brought his Israel
   into joy from sadness,
   loosed from Pharaoh's bitter yoke
   Jacob's sons and daughters,
   led them with unmoistened foot
   through the Red Sea waters.

2 See the spring of souls today;
   Christ has burst his prison,
   and from three days' sleep in death
   as a sun hath risen;
   all the winter of our sins,
   long and dark, is flying
   from his light, to whom we give
   laud and praise undying.

3 Now the queen of seasons, bright
   with the day of splendor,
   with the royal feast of feasts,
   comes its joy to render;
   comes to gladden faithful hearts
   which with true affection
   welcome in unwearied strains
   Jesus' resurrection!

4 For today among his own
   Christ appeared, bestowing
   blessed peace, which evermore
   passes human knowing.
   Neither could the gates of death
   nor the tomb's dark portal
   nor the watchers nor the seal
   hold him as a mortal.

5 "Alleluia!" Now we cry
   to our King immortal,
   who, triumphant, burst the bars
   of the tomb's dark portal.
   Come, you faithful, raise the strain
   of triumphant gladness!
   God has brought his Israel
   into joy from sadness!

</idle musing>

Wednesday, October 04, 2023

Drive them out!

The most common word throughout Genesis–Joshua for what God intends to do to the Canaanites is grš, NIV “drive out.” Like ḥerem, the emphasis of this word concerns everyone around the object, not the object itself. It doesn’t matter where they go or what happens to them as long as they are gone. Killing them is one way to make them go away, of course, but it is not the only way and probably not the preferred way (especially if they are fighting back). The terror that goes before the Israelite army (e.g., Ex 23:27; also Deut 2:25; 11:25) is probably intended to encourage them to flee rather than fight, or at least run away earlier than they otherwise might. Nowhere in the conquest account does the army systematically hunt down fleeing refugees; nowhere are urban citizens trapped in protracted sieges. Words like šmd (“annihilated”) are rhetorical; this kind of language is ubiquitous in ancient conquest accounts and serves to indicate decisive victory (compare to modern sports, where one team is said to annihilate their opponents even though nobody actually dies), but regardless of the exact method, the emptying of the city is literal.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 176–77

<idle musing>
OK, this is making sense. Not that I don't still have problems with ḥerem, but I'm starting to think that they are onto something here. Am I repeating myself? If I am it is because I'm still processing all this. Probably always will be...
</idle musing>

Sing with all the saints in glory

150 Hymn to Joy. 8. 7. 8. 7. D.

1 Sing with all the saints in glory,
   Sing the resurrection song!
   Death and sorrow, earth’s dark story,
   To the former days belong.
   All around the clouds are breaking,
   Soon the storms of time shall cease;
   In God’s likeness, man awaking,
   Knows the everlasting peace.

2 O what glory, far exceeding
   All that eye has yet perceived!
   Holiest hearts for ages pleading,
   Never that full joy conceived.
   God has promised, Christ prepares it,
   There on high our welcome waits;
   Every humble spirit shares it,
   Christ has passed th'eternal gates.

3 Life eternal! heaven rejoices:
   Jesus lives who once was dead;
   Join, O man, the deathless voices;
   Child of God, lift up thy head!
   Patriarchs from the distant ages,
   Saints all longing for their heaven,
   Prophets, psalmists, seers, and sages,
   All await the glory given.

4 Life eternal! O what wonders
   Crowd on faith; what joy unknown,
   When amid earth's closing thunders,
   Saints shall stand before the throne!
   O to enter that bright portal,
   See that glowing firmament,
   Know, with Thee, O God immortal,
   "Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent!"
                         William J. Irons
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Tuesday, October 03, 2023

It's about setting it aside for the gods' use

ḥerem may often involve destruction, but “destruction” is not the essential meaning of ḥerem because not everything that is ḥerem is destroyed. ḥerem occurs first, and because the thing is ḥerem, therefore the thing must be [blank], where [blank] is typically (but not always) some variant of “destroyed.” The comparison with the Hittite document here demonstrates what ḥerem signifies (removal from human use) and why therefore the destruction is necessary. The Hittite king Mursili levels a rebellious city and offers the site to the god Tešub as a pasture for his bulls. Because the god is using the site as a pasture, nobody else can use it for anything; this is the thrust of the imprecation directed at “[whoever] … will take the grazing-land away from the bulls.”— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 171

Tozer for Tuesday, or take it to the board?

Christian parents know that their children go to grade school and then high school marked as being odd, and you make no protest. Christians know there is no use to make a protest; of course, they think we are strange, but strange means different, that is all. Of course we are different; and woe be to the Christian that is not. The moment that it cannot be said of the Christian that he is different is the day he has disgraced his testimony and sold out his fate. It is the mark of a church that they are people that are different. They think it is strange that you are different, but, says Peter, “Don’t put in a protest, hire a lawyer, scandalize anybody, approach the school board. They shall give account to God.” There is his answer. Those who think we are strange and insist upon saying so with much laughter shall give an account to God and not to the Christian. God never made me a judge over anybody, and He never made you a judge. He made us witnesses, but not judges.—A.W. Tozer, Living as a Christian, 186

<idle musing>
Certainly not something you would hear today, is it? In fact, what you hear is the opposite—at least from the culture warriors.

Personally, I'll stand with Tozer on this one. First because it's scriptural, and second because it is far more effective than the other route....

Just an
</idle musing>