10/31/07

New Feature at Pisteuomen: ExegeTV

Readers of Pisteuomen: Tomorrow I will be launching a new feature on this site, it is called ExegeTV. ExegeTV is a channel/show that I have developed which aims to help students/preachers etc., move through the exegetical and explanation process of biblical texts. I will be adding new episodes to Pisteuomen posts periodically. I hope that you find this new resource useful and are able to share it with others. Again, I will probably post the first episode tomorrow, so, keep your eyes peeled.

Is Google the Scariest this Halloween?

Check out some excerpts from an article written by Cory Doctorow (scary stuff!!!):

Greg landed at San Francisco International Airport at 8 p.m., but by the time he'd made it to the front of the customs line, it was after midnight. He'd emerged from first class, brown as a nut, unshaven, and loose-limbed after a month on the beach in Cabo (scuba diving three days a week)... When he'd left the city a month before, he'd been a stoop-shouldered, potbellied wreck. Now he was a bronze god, drawing admiring glances from the stews at the front of the cabin.

He should have seen it coming, of course. The U.S. government had lavished $15 billion on a program to fingerprint and photograph visitors at the border, and hadn't caught a single terrorist. Clearly, the public sector was not equipped to Do Search Right.

The DHS officer had bags under his eyes and squinted at his screen, prodding at his keyboard with sausage fingers. No wonder it was taking four hours to get out of the...airport.

"Evening," Greg said, handing the man his sweaty passport. The officer grunted and swiped it, then stared at his screen, tapping. A lot. He had a little bit of dried food at the corner of his mouth and his tongue crept out and licked at it.

"Want to tell me about June 1998?"

Greg looked up from his Departures. "I'm sorry?"

"You posted a message to alt.burningman on June 17, 1998, about your plan to attend a festival. You asked, 'Are shrooms really such a bad idea?'"

The interrogator in the secondary screening room was an older man, so skinny he looked like he'd been carved out of wood. His questions went a lot deeper than shrooms.

"Tell me about your hobbies. Are you into model rocketry?"

"What?"

"Model rocketry."

"No," Greg said, "No, I'm not." He sensed where this was going.

The man made a note, did some clicking. "You see, I ask because I see a heavy spike in ads for rocketry supplies showing up alongside your search results and Google mail."

Greg felt a spasm in his guts. "You're looking at my searches and e-mail?" He hadn't touched a keyboard in a month, but he knew what he put into that search bar was likely more revealing than what he told his shrink...

Greg racked his brain. "Okay, just do this. Search for 'coffee fanatics.'" He'd been very active in the group, helping them build out the site for their coffee-of-the-month subscription service. The blend they were going to launch with was called Jet Fuel. "Jet Fuel" and "Launch"—that would probably make Google barf up some model rocket ads.

They were in the home stretch when the carved man found the Halloween photos. They were buried three screens deep in the search results for "Greg Lupinski."

"It was a Gulf War–themed party," he said. "In the Castro."

"And you're dressed as...?"

"A suicide bomber," he replied sheepishly. Just saying the words made him wince.

"Come with me, Mr. Lupinski," the man said.

By the time he was released, it was past 3 a.m. His suitcases stood forlornly by the baggage carousel. He picked them up and saw they had been opened and carelessly closed. Clothes stuck out from around the edges. When he returned home, he discovered that all of his fake pre-Columbian statues had been broken, and his brand-new white cotton Mexican shirt had an ominous boot print in the middle of it. His clothes no longer smelled of Mexico. They smelled like airport...

10/29/07

Winner of October's Bible Belt

I have decided to forego my monthly "Fav 5" post on Pisteuomen. Actually, I am keeping the content of the post but I am changing the name.



The new name will be The Monthly "Bible Belt" award. While I will still list my favorite 5 blog posts written by other bloggers, each month I will award the Bible Belt to my favorite post of the month. That said, the first winner of the Pisteuomen International Blogging Bible Belt is (drumroll please): Nick Norelli (not that you really care). Anyways, to read his post, click the following link: An Interview... And thanks for the good post, I loved it! 4 other posts I that I really enjoyed are:

#2. Lingamish: Photos of Mozambique

#3. Jim West: The Sponge of Jesus

#4. Ben Witherington: Beautiful Turkey

#5. J. Montgomery: Of Kilts & Burgundy Robes

The Mes-Sigh-ah : Studies in Mark, Pt. 26

In back-to-back stories in Mark’s Gospel, it is recorded that Jesus “sighs deeply” (from στεναζω). Mark 7.34 reads: “…and Jesus looked up to heaven, sighed deeply and said…” Mark 8.11-12 says: “And the Pharisees came forth and began to question Him, seeking a sign from heaven from Him, trying Him and He sighed deeply in His spirit and said…” When studying these two passages, I could not help but notice the similarities between them. Both are prefaced with a remark about heaven, both include Jesus sighing deeply and both have Jesus saying something immediately after the deep sigh. For my part, I do not think this is mere coincidence, not least because these two stories are side-by-side. So, what is the point?

Actually, I think that in locating these stories in such close proximity and by telling them in such similar ways, Mark was trying to be humorous. I’m not sure that many people would agree with this and it may seem rather simplistic but it does make sense. Besides, can’t the Gospels be comical? The comedy or better yet, irony, I think lies in the fact that Mark was juxtaposing these two scenes. In one, Jesus looks to heaven, sighs deeply and speaks a healing word. In the other, the Pharisees want Jesus to look to heaven but He doesn’t, He sighs deeply and in speaks an exhortative word. In other words, what Mark has done here is set the reader up for a laugh.

It would be expected that, as in the first instance, once Jesus sighed (an ancient mannerism that was typical of healers or miracle-workers just before they did their thing; there are other accounts of other persons doing this), the crowd expected Him to do something miraculous. However, Jesus sighs and does nothing except offer a rebuke. In short, Jesus sets the people up for thinking that He’s going to do something amazing but He doesn’t. To be rather colloquial, it’s as if Jesus was just messing with these guys. They thought He was going to do something but He didn’t. Why He didn’t, well, that is an answer for another post on another day—perhaps some day quite soon.

Anyways, I couldn’t help but laugh once I realized what was going on here. Sadly, I know of no other commentator who makes such a suggestion—perhaps I’m just way off base—but either way, I had a good laugh with this. And I'm not too bothered if some of you think that I’m crazy and you are just sitting there, well, sighing!

10/28/07

New Feature At Pisteuomen

Pisteuomen readers: in addition to subscribing to this site's feed (located at the bottom of this site or at feedburner.com), you can now subscribe to Pisteuomen via email. Simply enter your email address and click the "subscribe" button to begin recieving my posts in your inbox. Enjoy.

A Limerick On The Lord's Day

(based on Acts 9.43ff)

There once was a man from Joppa
Who owned a leather shoppa
When he tanned the hide
It reeked of urine inside
His neighbors said, “Oh, please stoppa”

10/27/07

A New Resource: Greek to German

At the request of one of my readers, I have developed a new biblical studies tool. The new resource is called: Greek to German. The widget is easily installable on your site and is updated frequently. The point of it is (if you cannot tell by the name) to provide you and your site's readers with Greek and German vocab. Get the widget and install it on your site (all in less than 1 minute) by scrolling down the middle column of Pisteuomen and clicking "get widget." Enjoy.

10/26/07

The Plight of Family Christian Stores® : Who's To Blame?

A month or two ago, Scott Bailey (from Scotteriology) wrote a post discussing his reticence towards the “Godtube” website. One of the reasons he did not like the site was because he did a number of searches, typing in some of the most influential names and important events in the history of God’s people and his searches turned up nothing. Piggybacking on Scott’s Godtube search, I decided to take the same list and search for each item on the Family Christian Stores® website. Before you read the results of each search (they are listed below), read the store’s comments from the “About Us” section of their site:

"Family Christian Stores® is America's leading specialty retailer with over 300 locations and over 5,000 employees in 37 states dedicated solely to the $4.3 billion Christian retailing market. Family Christian Stores® sells Christian products and church supplies through its chain of stores and via the Internet. Merchandising categories include Bibles, Books, Music, Childrens, Gifts, Apparel, Software, Cards, Church Supplies and DVD's."

Here are the results from my product search of one of America’s leading Christian retailers, some humorous (especially the first one), and others, well, just frustrating:

+Kant – 171 matches but none meaningful, however result #1 was: “Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus” – The Crabb Family CD
+Tillich – 0 Mathces, but there appeared an image of a Mercy Me album
+Barth – 108 Matches nothing meaningful but the #1 link was to the propsperity preacher's album titled: “Bishop Eddie Long’s choir”
+Bultmann – 0 Matches
+Schleiermacher – 0 Matches
+Hegel – 3 Matching records: 1. “The Great TV Turn Off,” 2. “Pickle Pizza,” 3. “The Stinky Sneakers Mystery”
+Ritschl – 0 Matches
+Kierkegaard – 0 Matches
+Neibuhr – 0 Matches
+Rauschenbusch – 0 Matches
+Intertestamental – 2 Matches but, of the Life Application Study Bible
+Septuagint – 0 Matches
+Qumran – 2 Matches: “Adventures in Oddysey” Cartoon
+Sadducee – 1 Match: V. Matthews, Manners & Customs in the Bible
+Essene – 21 Matches, none relevant but #1 entry is a picture of G. W. Bush
+Synoptics – 0 Matches
+Mishna – 0 Matches
+Talmud – 0 Matches
+Second Temple – 2 Matches, #1: G. Jeffrey: The New Temple & the Second Coming
+Atrahasis – 0 Matches
+Ancient Near East – 0 Matches
+Justin Martyr – 1 Match: The Apologetics Study Bible
+Marcion – 1 Match: The 1-Year Children’s Bible
+Diaspora – 0 Matches

What does this tell us? Well, probably not what we would immediately think. If you are like I was, you’d probably say that these results reveal that the store is only another cause of American biblical illiteracy. But not so fast… One of my close friends is actually a manager of a Family Christian Store®. When I spoke with him about the store not carrying items such as the ones listed above, he responded, “Is that the store’s fault or the Church’s fault? You know that our stores are stocked on customer requests right?” Actually, I didn’t know this. But what this tells me is that if the Church is the drive behind what Family Christian Stores® stocks and sells, then it is the fault of American ministers more than anyone else.

Indeed, how many ministers do you hear in any given Church on any given Sunday quoting Tillich or Kant? Hardly any! Does your preacher teach about the Talmud or the Mishna or the Intertestamental period? If you are a preacher/teacher, do you? Secondly, are these things, where they are spoken of, being taught so as to make congregants more interested in them or more turned off by them? Really, these questions get to the heart of the issue: American ministers need to be better about teaching and they also need to stop keeping the most influential resources of Christendom to themselves and to make them known to the laity.

So, next time you walk into Family Christian Stores® and see Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen and Rod Parsley books lining the shelves, perhaps you need to shirk, not at the store, but at your pastor/preacher. To those of us who are teachers/preachers, may we take the time to share our history with our people and may we tease their minds into active thought, instead of watering everything down, arrogantly or foolishly thinking that they don't want to and just can’t handle the deep truths of theology, Scripture and life! If we want these stores to change, the change needs to start with Church leaders who value good, Christian education.

10/25/07

Images of Antiquity: Pix from Ben Witherington

Okay, so, I said before that I had completed my visual tour of Turkey. Well, come to find out, Ben Witherington has posted some incredible aerial photos that are simply "must see"! Check out these pix by clicking the following link: Aerial Pix of Turkey. Also, don't forget to check out my slideshow located at the bottom of the right column, which contains about 50 of my pictures from Turkey.

10/24/07

Additions to the Blogroll

Two blogs have been added to the Pisteuomen blogroll (which most people are probably already familiar with): The Blog of Ben Witherington and the blog of Mike Bird & Joel Willits: Euangelion.

10/23/07

English2Greek Type Tool

Readers of Pisteuomen,

I am pleased to announce the development of a new widget. The name of the widget that I have created is English2Greek 1.0. This tool can be installed on your site in less than a minute and allows you to easily convert English text to Greek text without ever having to leave your site/blog. The widget is located in the middle column of Pisteuomen. To get it, simply click the "get widget" button. Also, if you'd like, you can give it a trye before adding it to your site. Enjoy!

10/22/07

Breaking The Cycle of Time & History: Some Thoughts on the Prophets

To the twenty-first century mind time and history are conceived of in one way: linear. This, of course, is reflected in the use of timelines where events are dated and ordered chronologically. Yet, to Israel, time and history were understood differently. For them, time was not linear but periodic, cyclical and therefore, rhythmic. It was the rhythm of the festal and non-festal times that gave rhythm to Israel’s life. Yet, it was not the festivals themselves that gave Israel the bulk of her identity but rather the God who acted in and thus, linked these events together. Israel’s expectation, wrapped up in circularity, was always that their God, who has already acted on their behalf, would surely act again in a similar way.

Yet, with the prophets, there occurred a type of breakthrough in understanding God’s actions in time and history: the future. This new facet of time is what Von Rad referred to as Israel’s “eschatological element” (OT Theology, V.II, 113). This element, Von Rad argues, cracked Israel’s entire concept of circularity. The message of the prophets was that Israel could not rely on what God had done in the past for salvation because God was going to do something ‘new.’ This message formed a type of vacuum, “a vacuum, which the prophets [created] by preaching judgment and sweeping away all false security, and then [filling] it with their message of the new thing” (115). In short, no longer was Israel safe because of the action of her ancestors but now the basis of salvation looked towards the future and in particular, towards ‘The Day of Yahweh’ (118).

However, this ensuing ‘Day’ would not be ‘totally’ unfamiliar to Israel. Indeed, God was going to do a new thing but it would “take the same form as it had done in the days of old” (124). As He had done before, Yahweh would rise up in battle against His foes and achieve victory. In the tradition of Moses, Hosea proclaims entry into a new land; Isaiah foresees a new Zion and a new David, Jeremiah envisions a new covenant and Deutero-Isaiah a new Exodus (117). At the heart of the prophets’ message then, was a new time element, the future, which looked towards ‘The Day of Yahweh.’ Still, the most notable aspect of this ensuing ‘Day,’ though, was that Israel’s security became questionable. While God would be victorious in warring against and meting out judgment to His enemies, this was not necessarily a good sign for Israel. For, prophets such as Amos were quite willing to tell Israel that due to all of her iniquity, this ‘Day’ could well be a danger for her too. This ‘new’ thing, then, was meant to frighten Israel as much as it was to give confidence her. In hearing of this ‘Day,’ God hoped that Israel would turn from her iniquities and return to Him. Behold, this 'old' message still speaks to us in 'new' and fresh ways today. May we all, return to the Lord, our Maker.

10/21/07

West & Bird: Bouts Over Bultmann

A couple of days ago, Mike Bird wrote a post evaluating one of theology's most influential fellows: Rudolf Bultmann. Though Bird admitted to liking Bultmann's TDNT entries, he had much more to say concerning his dislikes towards Bultmann. He listed the following 7 items:

1.
I find his existential Deism nauseating.
2. There is more to Romans than a diatribe.
3. His History of the Synoptic Tradition asserted more than it argued and is methodologically defunct.
4. There never was a Gnostic Redeemer myth nor was there ever any proof for it in the first. 5. He was wrong to cordon off Christianity into Palestinian, Hellenistic, and Gentile varieties.
6. His depiction of Judaism as pure legalism is both inaccurate and has had horrendous effects in Pauline studies.
7. His best book A Theology of the New Testament gives us 30 pages about Jesus and 120 about a fictitious Hellenistic Community.

A bit bothered by these caricatures, Jim West decided to reply with a post of his own (to which Bird replied). In my estimation, I think they both offer some great arguments! Anyways, check out the conversation for yourself. For Bird's first post, click the following link: Bultmann Evaluated. For West's reply (and Bird's retort), click this link: Response to Anit-Bultmannianism. Enjoy.

10/20/07

Brian Russell on Church Planting

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading through Dr. Brian Russell's website (Real Meal Ministries) and I came across a very interesting post on Church planting. In the post, Dr. Russell argues that "planting" is an outmoded and outdated metaphor for this generation. He contends that, in a mobilized, on-the-go society, being planted or rooted in one place just isn't appealing. Honestly, Dr. Russell has some great thoughts here. I wonder, though, if people in this on-the-go society need to slow down sometimes, or even stop, and settle down and bring some "stability" to their lives? If so, maybe the plant metaphor isn't a bad one afterall. Anyways, check out his article. Click the following link to read it: Russell: A Church Plant Is A Poinsettia.

10/18/07

A Poem On Rejection, Forgiveness & Moving On

When Forgiveness is Rejected




To offer forgiveness
Well,
It means that you’ve been hurt
And to say, “I’ve moved on”
Well,
It means that you’ve been burnt



Recently, I offered forgiveness
For,
I had bottled up my hurt
And the one whom to whom I offered it
Well,
He just wouldn’t accept these words



Expectedly, he offered rejection
Like,
He’d never been in the wrong
“Forgive me for what?” he asked
For,
These were still the lyrics of his song



“I offer you forgiveness,”
“For,”
“All of the emotional pain”
“And I offer it graciously”
But,
He just shook his head in disdain



I offered grace
And,
I offered it as best as I knew
I offered my heart upon sleeve
But,
That was rejected too



I didn’t offer another chance
For
This taker to take any more
He came close as he could
As,
If to widen the sore



I offered with boldness
To
My invader, a meek "No!"
I offered forgiveness
And,
I spoke firmly with grace
I realized reconciliation
Wasn’t,
Able to take place



Some will not offer
And,
Some will not accept,
Some will not own up,
And,
Acknowledge their debts



When we offer forgiveness
And,
That forgiveness is made cheap
And that forgiveness is declined,
Well,
We’ve turned the other cheek



But offering to turn a cheek
Isn’t,
Offering a blind eye
And letting an abuser,
Continue,
Isn’t admirable or high



So, if you offered forgiveness
Only
To find it shunned
You’ve done you’re part
Now,“Shake the dust off and move on”





--TMW Halcomb, 10/07

10/17/07

A New Resource: Linguistic & Grammatical Glossary

Readers of Pisteuomen: In addition to the interactive Greek and Hebrew alphabet modules that I have created, my Theological German Daily widget and my slideshow presentations of Greece & Turkey (Greece slideshow will be posted in the future), I have now put together a Linguistic & Grammatical Glossary that I am offering here on Pisteuomen, free of charge. The Glossary contains more than 150 terms that langauge students (especially the serious Bible student) will find helpful. I built the Glossary with an eye towards English, Koine, Hebrew, French and German. You can download the Glossary and share it freely, as long as you do not manipulate or change it from its current state. Click the icon below (which will also be located at the top of the middle column of this page from now on) to get the download. Hope this helps some of you in your studies; any comments would be appreciated. Enjoy.













10/16/07

Book Review: Heschel's, The Prophets

Heschel, Abraham J. The Prophets, Perennial Classics edition. New York, NY: Harper Collins, 2001. Pp. vii-672. ISBN 0-06-093699-1.



Abraham J. Heschel’s The Prophets is both a voluminous and ambitious work. Heschel, now deceased, was unapologetically and avowedly Jewish in his views and lifestyle. Heschel’s daughter, Susanna, has remarked that her father’s disposition came from Israel’s prophets, who, for him, “were not simply biblical figures…but models for his life” (xiv). Indeed, Heschel, like the prophets, was a man whose heart grew heavy from all of the injustice in the world. He lived during the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War and the Holocaust (which he escaped, though his parents did not). Clearly, Heschel’s understanding of God was colored by such events. To him, God was not absent or distant, an Unmoved Mover as Aristotle argued but rather the Most Moved Mover (xviii).

To some, Heschel’s understanding of God might be too anthropomorphic. Such persons though, Heschel argues, have not followed the theology of Israel’s prophets but rather the thinking of Greek philosophers (318ff.). Biblical theology, he asserts, declares that God “cares for His creatures, and His thoughts are about the world” (333). Strikingly similar to other theological contemporaries of his time—such as Martin Buber (It, I and Thou) and Karl Barth (The Other)—Heschel promoted the doctrine of an intensely relational God. Despite his disagreements with the tenets of Christianity, a number of Christian interpreters have seized on Heschel’s theological insights. Not least of these have been Jürgen Moltmann[1] and more recently, Clark Pinnock.[2]

Heschel’s work, though, has not gone unquestioned. Joseph Blenkinsopp, for example, has remarked that Heschel’s “type of Jewish biblical scholarship, which, while not hostile to historical-critical inquiry, [was] led by its commitments to move well beyond it.”[3] Indeed, even in The Prophets, the reader notices inattention to historical, literary and grammatical details. It could be argued that in taking such factors into consideration, many of Heschel’s arguments might have been strengthened. For example, a literary analysis of the Book of Hosea’s structure may well have enabled him to speak of the inner tension that the prophet experienced as he carried out his God-ordained task. Or, brief analyses of poetic forms, for example the prophet’s use of chiasm, may have equipped Heschel to speak of how God was (literally) at the center of the prophet’s words, thereby adding more emphasis to the poetic nature of prophecy (468ff).

Also lacking force, were some of Heschel’s interpretive claims. Take the phrase daath elohim for instance, which, when placed under the scrutinizing lens of Heschel, is defined as “sympathy for God” (73). Admittedly, Heschel jumps through a number of interpretive hoops to arrive at such a definition. Also working against his translation is the fact that it disagrees with Hebrew grammars and lexicons. Though such tools are not infallible, all of them are in consensus against such a reading.[4] In the end, Heschel’s theological conclusions do not necessitate this type of grammatical or interpretive leap. It seems that Heschel would have been on much firmer ground if he had simply suggested that an intimate knowledge of God presupposes sympathy with Him and His desires.

Outside of textual and historical-critical issues in this volume, one wonders if a reworking of the book’s tone and format might have helped it be a bit more reader-friendly. For example, throughout the work, Heschel is very repetitive and he consistently uses phrases such as “I repeat” (e.g. 587) and “as said earlier” (e.g. 568). This, coupled with his homiletical style, often results in him sounding like a repetitive preacher. Further, while the reader is left pondering the many maxims and poetic/theological aphorisms that Heschel develops, he/she is also left debating whether or not, in this work, Heschel was simply attempting to mimic the authorial style of his topic(s) of discussion—the prophets. Just as well, it could be debated that parts one and two of the book might more fully serve their purposes if they were reordered (e.g. part one taking the place of part two, visa versa). It might have made more sense, for example, for Heschel to define what he meant by pathos, “religion of sympathy” or inspiration before approaching the biblical texts.

All things considered, The Prophets does yield a crop of fruitful insights. For example, this book will challenge Jewish and Christian readers alike to come to terms with the nature of prophecy and revelation. In Heschel’s view, “The characteristic of the prophets is not foreknowledge of the future, but insight into the present pathos of God” (298). Though he does not rule out the futuristic aspect of prophecy altogether, Heschel maintains that the most miraculous part of the prophetic “event” (545ff.) is that in that moment “something happens” to God and prophet alike (554), namely: God is turned to humanity and humanity is turned to God (560).

From a theological standpoint, Heschel also raises interesting issues concerning inspiration. For him, inspiration is a “transpersonal fact,” an “experience” (550). This unique experience was not one of ecstasy and contra the Greek philosophers, it was not an event whereby the one who received inspiration lost control of human reason or faculties (429ff.). In addition, the inspiree did not have to prepare for inspired events (whether by rituals, sexual engagements or herbs) but rather, “Moments of inspiration [came] to the prophet without effort, preparation, or inducement. Suddenly and unexpectedly, without initiative, without aspiration, the prophet is called to hear the Voice” (457-8). According to Heschel, it was this fact that separated and still separates the prophets of ancient Israel from any and all of the other self-styled prophets throughout history.

Another illuminating topic that Heschel brings up has to do with the frequent third-to-first-person switch found in the prophetic books (396-7; 434). For instance, this phenomenon occurs in Amos 3.1. In Amos 3.1a, the term diber (He spoke) is speaking of God in the third person and a few words later the term he‘aleyiti (I brought up) is God speaking in the first person.[5] For Heschel, this ‘person shift’ connotes the “intense sympathy or emotional identification” of the prophet “with the divine pathos” (396). To bolster this argument, Heschel points out that the Hebrew term vayehi (it happened), which is often located at the beginning of prophetic books (e.g. Jnh. 1.1; Jer. 1.2; Ezk. 1.3), is a reference to the God-initiated and God-inspired, prophetic event (552).

As per theological topics, The Prophets is a literal goldmine for such subjects. For example, Heschel’s discussion pertaining to modern attempts of psychologizing the prophets and their texts is at once, deeply profound and incredibly fascinating (498ff.). Though the reader wonders if this chapter incites Heschel himself—indeed, the whole thesis of The Prophets, to some degree, rests on his own psychologizing—it does offer a stinging critique to those who have labeled Israel’s prophets as neurotic, pathological, mad and maladjusted. To cite but one example, Heschel counters the Western psychological reading of 2 Samuel 15.30, where David walks barefoot as a sign of mourning. Modern psychologists have read this passage through their scientific lenses and as such, have interpreted David as a neurotic. Heschel, though, contends that there is nothing out of the ordinary about this ancient custom and that, in fact, to this day, modern Jews still remove their shoes as a gesture of mourning (511).

Also illuminating is Heschel’s discussion of the relationship between the prophet and the state, or better yet, faith and patriotism (e.g. 606ff.). From the standpoint of application, to those of the twenty-first century, this may be one of Heschel’s most fertile and important chapters. In America, where faith and politics have become—in many quarters—intimately intermingled, Heschel reminds readers that, in their day, God’s prophets were oftentimes the ones preaching to the people that the body politic of Israel was the rule of God and God alone. For the prophets, there was an extraordinarily thin line between allegiance to an earthly king and his nation, and the sovereignty of God. It was the duty of the prophet to remind the people and the king that, “over the king’s mishpat stood the mishpat of the Lord” (612).

In conclusion, The Prophets, a Perennial Classic, is an important contribution to the field of theology more than to biblical studies or in particular, the field of prophetology. Certainly, both parts of the work are more concerned with finding and erecting a specific theological/philosophical tenet than they are with engaging in exegetical/biblical issues.[6] Reading, at times, like a Jewish sermon or apologetic that is anti-Grecian and anti-Christian in tone, this aspect of Heschel’s work may be unappealing and quite offensive to some. Yet, whatever one’s reaction to such comments, it must be pointed out that Heschel is firm and steadfast in his convictions. If one is looking for a scholarly, biblical work, this is not the book of choice. However, for the person seeking out a biblically themed tome that bridges the gap between theology/philosophy and homiletics, this work is decidedly rich.



[1] See, for instance: Jürgen Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1993), 25ff.
[2] Clark Pinnock, one of the leading proponents of the Open Theism party, draws heavily on the works of Heschel. See, for example: Clark Pinnock, Most Moved Mover: A Theology of God’s Openness (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001) and The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God (Grand Rapids, MI: IVP, 1993).
[3] Joseph Blenkinsopp, A History of Prophecy in Israel, Rev. ed. (Louisville, KY: WJK, 1996), 25.
[4] For more on daath and daath elohim, access the following sources: BDB defines this term as: “Knowledge, with moral quality” (395). Holladay’s entries offer: “knowledge, ability, insight” (73). Gesenius reports: “Knowledge, intelligence, understanding” (205). B. Davidson in his Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon suggests: “Knowledge, intelligence, understanding” (CCXCVIII). Jenni & Westermann in TLOT conclude: “Insight, Understanding, Knowledge” (509, 521). In his grammar, The Essentials of Biblical Hebrew, Kyle Yates offers: “knowledge” (168). In vol. 2 of his book Old Testament Theology, Von Rad, slightly veering from the lexical consensus, interprets the phrase as “profession of loyalty” (142-3). For other references on the term daath or the phrase daath elohim, see the following, as cited in TLOT (509): HALOT (1:228A); TODT (5:448-81); TWOT (848C); NIDOTTE (1981).
[5] On 397, Heschel gives a laundry list of instances where this shift occurs.
[6] One might point, here, to Heschel’s discussion of the Law & Prophets (296). His assumptions that the pre-exilic prophets knew the Law/Torah are widely challenged by many scholars.

10/15/07

A Conversation With Chris Tilling: Interview Series, Pt. 4

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Chris Tilling of the infamous blog, Chrisendom. As usual, he was witty, humorous and quite plebian (he even signed into the Pisteuomen Chat Room under the name "CheapAndCheerful." And somehow, he got us sidetracked onto the topic of "knickers.") Anyways, what follows is a transcript of the interview; I'm sure you'll enjoy it. After you read the interview, be sure to check out Tilling's site at the following link: Chrisendom.



Question: So, Chris, tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you originally from? Where are you studying? And, What are a couple of goals you have set for yourself in the field of biblical studies?

Answer: Well, thanks for this wee in interview, Michael. Those who read my blog will know that I’m a pale-faced, large-stomached Englishman with a soft-spot for cakes and, well, food generally really. That’s about it! Let me think....Fat. No, I said that. Umm, well, I am a theology/NT-o-phile, if you understand me. I salivate over books, read them almost non-stop, and am all-in-all a bit obsessive compulsive about turning the next page. Now, where I am originally from, that is an easier one to answer: I was born in South Africa–my parents lived there for a few years. But I grew up in South East England just outside of London, in Surrey, in a place called Tadworth–not far from Sutton, where Jackie Pullinger grew up, if you have heard of her. We then moved to Banstead, just down the road. ‘Banstead’ has become synonymous with ‘retarded, mentally handicapped’ in that area of England–not because I lived there, I hasten to add, but because it used to sport a large mental home. Now, to my studies. I’m writing up my PhD at the moment, contributing to the Pauline divine-Christology debate. I really enjoy my work, I just can’t tell you how much! I’m affirming a divine-Christology in Paul in, I think, an interesting and most convincing way! Goals? Hmm. Well, I want to be famous, have a fan club, have groupies follow me around on my lecturing trips, have them throw their knickers at me, etc. The usual thing, really. I also want to first finish my doctorate. But I have a few articles that I want to get published too. I suppose my purpose in biblical studies is to pursue academic excellence, but also for the sake of the church, especially my own church background–which lies in the charismatic/evangelical camp.

Question: You have noted on your blog that you are studying under Max Turner. Give the readers a brief statement about Dr. Turner (who he is, what he's know for, etc.) and what it has been like to be a student of his?

Answer: Max is a lovely chap, but being in Germany, I don’t have too much to do with him, to be honest. I see him a couple of times a year, usually, but not much more. Max will be known to some for his work "The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts: in the New Testament Church and Today,” as well as his major work, “Power From on High: The Spirit in Israel's Restoration and Witness in Luke–Acts”. Recently, he has worked as co-editor of the brilliant new Two Horizons Commentary series. What else can I say? He is a very smart chap and he has been incredibly supportive of my own work. So he really can’t be all that bad!

Question: Well, let's shift gears and get back to talking about those "knickers" that you mentioned a few minutes ago. Or...maybe we should just move on. Let me ask you, What would you say has been one of, if not "the," most influential / important moments in your studies?

Answer: Yea, better leave those knickers behind. If my wife reads this... But this is a good question you ask about "influence." I don’t know if I can pinpoint any one influence. I suppose blogging has helped me broaden my thinking, to write more cogently (at least I claim so!), and has given me all sorts of contacts. But, there is Mehrdad Fatehi’s book on Paul, The Risen Lord and the Spirit–the best book of its kind, I think. It helped me formulate my thoughts enormously. But so did Fee’s recent work, Pauline Christology, sort of–in that I had to restructure my thesis because he had published some of what I was hoping to be my originality! The brute! Richard Bauckham’s work–and lectures when I studied at St Andrews–pushed me in the direction of Christology, especially as my own faith was always rubbed against the JWs and the Christadelphians when I first became Christian. There is much more I could write here...but I won't.

Question: At least your wife wears knickers! I've heard some interesting things about Eurpoean women! Anyways, so, what are some ways that one might get typical parishioners / congregants interested in a subject like Pauline Christology?

Answer: I suppose this whole knickers thing is going to get me in trouble now–but seeing as I’m in a grave, I might as well dig deeper: I’d actually heard that it was American men who tend to wear knickers. That would explain a lot, I think. Anyway, back to the topic! “What are some ways that one might get typical parishioners / congregants interested in a subject like Pauline Christology?” I’m personally all for the use of violence. Beat the living stupidity out of enough of them and surely one or two will start to read Pannenberg or Fee, or Bauckham at some stage. Either that, or scholars need to learn to write also for “the person in the pew”, as Jim West does, for example. And there is plenty about Pauline Christology that can and should nourish the church, which brings me back to my lecture trips and the groupies!

Question: Yes, there's nothing like a nice pair of knickers for a Christmas gift or a warm pair out of the dryer (or microwave). You might give it a go sometime! But I guess this (somehow) leads me to another question: In your opinion, what are some ways that we can begin to bridge the gap that exists between the academy and the Church? (Of course, this assumes that there is a gap and that it needs to be bridged. You might not share that assumption, if not, could you say a few words about that?)

Answer: Thanks, I’ll try that microwaved underpants thing (you see, I try to accommodate myself to Americans as best as I can). As to the bridge thing, I am tempted to write that we should round up all Fundamentalists and get liberal... with bullets–but that is only the dark and very unregenerate, non-Christian, fleshy urge in me. I am sure that a gap exists, and I think the pastor has the greatest responsibility to preach honest sermons, not to gloss over difficulties, gray areas and real differences of opinion (i.e. without simply calling those who disagree on a point “heretics”). However, this needs to be done without leaving a congregation confused, as if everyone needed to read academic tomes to sort out their faith! I suppose the role of those of us Christians who want to head into academia is to help serve the local pastor at this level. Perhaps another idea is to engage in open discussion and critique of ‘bible schools’ that simply pass on a Fundie package to all and sundry looking to minister. Dialogue must be opened up and encouraged in the seminary with other seminaries that do not share the same “faith statements.” This is a good topic for a blog post idea! By the way, I’m just joking about the Fundie shooting, of course. I know lots of lovely Fundie Christians–far better people than me. And bullets cost too much. Give me fifteen minutes with a golf club–that would be cheaper!

Question: You mentioned Americans (God's chosen people of course, according to the Word of Faith / prosperity preachers anyways). In all seriousness though, do you have a favorite scholar from the States? If so, who and why do you enjoy their work so much?

Answer: That’s a good question. But I just had a thought: golf clubs aren’t too cheap either. Ok, half an hour with umm…I dunno, a long spiked bottle opener, yeah, that ought to make the ‘point.’ As to God’s people, I think we have all learnt a lot from Richard Hays, Witherington, Sanders...there are so many. Oh, you wanted my favorite…Hmm, I'm not really sure I can say. Green is one of my favorites. Perhaps I'll say Hays, but I'd probably change my mind if I thought about it (…then there is Jim West....). Well, Fee too. Oh man. Next question! No, this is way too mean of a question. I'm looking over my shelves, there are too many to choose from!

Question: As I said, we are God's chosen (just kidding). Shifting gears again, let me ask you: When did you begin blogging and why? You made reference above, to the fact that it has it helped you become a better thinker and scholar, how so?

Answer: I began blogging I think in 2005. It was just for fun, for making silly jokes with friends left behind in England. It wasn’t meant to be a biblioblog or anything like that, and certainly not a blog with a philosophy or a statement of mission or such things. I just wanted to take the “p” out of films, random people etc. (to buffer my inferiority complex with a sense of greatness), have fun. But you know what it is like. If theology / NT study is your passion, it starts to leak through automatically. And it was a lot of fun. I still have a great deal of fun blogging. Clever people started to make comments on my blog and they challenged me to think more carefully and to express myself better. I was greedy to learn. Blogging, for me, has only been helpful.

Question: Before I ask a final question, I want to thank you, Chris, for taking the time to interview. But here's the final question (a nightmare, perhaps for those of us who are book fanatics): If you could own only one book (along with the Bible), what would it be and why?

Answer: Thanks for this little online conversation, Michael, it has been fun! And you are right, that is a nightmare question. Does a series of books count (like Church Dogmatics?)

Reply: Well, I think that is cheating, so, no, I guess not.

Answer: Hmm, tough. Well, this is like the American scholar question. I'll write an answer, think about it a bit more and panic. But I'll have a stab with the first one that came to mind: Anthony Thiselton's NIGTC commentary on 1 Corinthians. Or, perhaps, a prayer book (Church of England Common Worship: Daily Prayer). I'll stop now, before I think of more!



Thanks again to Chris Tilling for taking the time to stop by Pisteuomen and chat. Don't forget to check out his blog at the following link: Chrisendom.

Additions to the Blogroll

Readers of Pisteuomen,
I have added two blogs to the blogroll. The first is Chrisendom, hosted by Chris Tilling (see my interview with Chris in the previous post) and the second is Theologie und Gemeinschaft (Theology and Community) by Dr. Jim West. For some reason, it wouldn't have felt right adding one without the other; don't ask me why! Anyways, if you love sarcasm and/or nonsensical banter with a theological twist, check out these blogs if you haven't already.

10/13/07

A Communion Meditation: His Softened Gaze

In his book, Blue Like Jazz, author Donald Miller tells a story about a time that he and a friend attended a folk concert together. As he narrates that experience, he tells of a particular moment where, between songs, the folk singer paused to tell a story. The story concerned another of the musician’s friends, a fellow who happened to be one in a group of Navy Seals that had been assigned to a hostage recovery mission. Flown in on a helicopter, the group landed and began to search the grounds of a remote compound. But once they found the hostages, something unusual and unexpected happened.

When the Seals entered the room, the group of hostages was bundled up in the corner of a dark, stench-ridden room. But when the rescuers called out to the hostages there was nothing but gasps; the prisoners did not respond as we might suppose they would have, no, they remained on the floor without movement. This prompted the Seal’s to stand there too. Miller says, that like the hostages, they did not know what to do either. However, after a few moments, one of them got an idea. “He put down his weapon, took off his helmet and curled up tightly next to the hostages, getting so close his body was touching some of theirs. He softened the look on his face and put his arms around them. None of the prison guards would have done this…‘Will you follow us?’ he said. The hero stood to his feet and one of the hostages did the same, then another, until all of them were willing to go” (34).

When we gather around our Lord’s Table, we are testifying before God, one another and, in some sense the world, that, God did something similar for us. Not only did He extend His gaze to us and not only did He extend His reach our way, no, He came our way. And His coming our way involved a type of rescue from our own destruction and our own demise. And the God-man curled up tightly with us, in all of our humanity, and asked us, “Will you follow Me?” We hear of other so-called gods and goddesses in this world's multitude of religions but even if those deities did exist, none of them, not a single one, would have done this.

This morning as we stand to our feet before the Lord’s Table, we reflect on and remember what God, the King of kings, Lord of lords, and Hero of heroes has done for humanity. That is why we meet here at this place, that is why we gather before this Table and that is why we heed to those words, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” He has turned His gaze softly upon us, at this time, may we turn our gaze fully towards Him. Let’s pray together.

Images of Antiquity: Asia Minor Compliation, Pt. 7

Having completed the first portion of my series "Images of Antiquity," which led us through Turkey (aka ancient "Asia Minor), I figured that I would gather all of those pictures and put them in one place for viewing. Thus, near the bottom of the right hand column on this page, I have posted a slideshow containing 50 pictures (which have all been shown and described in previous posts). If you use these photos, please do not manipulate them in any way, otherwise, feel free to use and share them (freely).

10/12/07

Images of Antiquity: Assos, Alexander Troas & Troy, Pt. 6




In this set of pictures, we will be looking at a few ancient sites in Turkey: Assos, Alexander Troas and Troy. If you copy or download the pictures, please do not manipulate or change them in any form from their current state. Otherwise, feel free to use them. Enjoy.

The first photo is of the waterfront in the city of Assos. Assos is located in Northwestern Turkey and is not far from the other two sites mentioned here (Alexander Troas & Troy). Assos is mentioned twice in the New Testament, both times in conjunction with Paul's missionary journeys in Acts 20 (verses 13-4). The text says, "We went on ahead to the ship and sailed for Assos, where we were going to take Paul aboard. He had made this arrangement because he was going there on foot. When he met us at Assos, we took him aboard and went on to Mitylene."

When we arrived at Assos it was late at night and honestly, I have never seen that many stars at once, it was incredible. In the morning, as we were eating breakfast we saw dolphins (just a couple of hundred feet away) jumping out of the water. That same morning, we visited other parts of the small town. We went to an ancient mosque, toured an old fortress, walked through the temple of Apollo and saw a number of goats and sheep. (*Note: Photo #7 says temple of Zeus but is actally the temple of Apollo.) Actually, in picture #2 you can see the goatherder; this reminded me of Jesus' parable about separating the sheep from the goats. In photo #3 you can see some sheep. In Turkey, sheep were everywhere. Though I had seen sheep before, there was just something about seeing them in the Mediterranean that allowed the Bible stories to come a little bit more to life.

In photo #4 you see a picture of some arches at Alexander Troas. For some reason, our tour guide did not show up and take us through this site. Needless to say, we were only there for about 10 minutes. Alexander Troas was set up, of course, in honor of Alexander the Great. This location is mentioned 6 times in the New Testament, again, always in reference to Paul and his trips (see: Acts 16.8, 11; 20.5, 6; 2 Cor. 2.12; and 2 Tim. 4.13).

Pictures numbered 5, 6 and 8 are photos of anicent Troy. Many of you probably know this place from the recent movie or from reading the works of Homer (who was writing, supposedly, during the time of Abraham). Homer wasn't lying when he referred to this place as "wind swept Troy." Indeed, the entire time we were there it was nothing but wind--blistering wind! In photo #5 you can see the alleged "levels of Troy." Scholars and archeologists have uncovered many levels of ground which have led them to believe that Troy's development occurred in many stages. In photo #6 you can see ramps that were used to haul goods up and into the city. Finally, in photo #8 you see the wooden war horse that has become the symbol of Troy. The war horse was used to frighten and intimidate opponents during battles (as well as for self-protetction). This remake of the wooden horse is actually in a city just outside of Troy (the one at the site was being demolished when I visited).

Well, that does it for photos of Turkey, in Pt. 7 of the "Images of Antiquity" series, we will cross over into Greece with our first stop being at ancient Philippi.

10/11/07

Theological German Daily: A New Widget

Readers of Pisteuomen: I have developed a new widget that you may add--free of charge of course--to your website. The widget is "Theological German Daily." Every day the widget produces a new theological German term w/definition or a grammar/reading tip. The widget is placed in the middle column of Pisteuomen and can be obtained by simply clicking the icon beneath the widget that says "get widget." You don't have to paste any code or anything into your blog, simply click the "get widget" icon (make sure you're logged into blogger) and when you do a list will appear that aks you to choose which type of site you want it installed on. Select the site type and the widget will self-install; it's that easy. I have also set it up to where you can customize the widget to fit your site's taste and format (click the edit/tool icon to do this once you have installed the widget). Enjoy!

10/10/07

"Bless Us and Keep Us Safe" : Kid Nation

With a newborn baby, work, school, etc. I've really had to limit my television watching this semester (not that I was addicted or anything). But, at this point, I have cut my viewing down to 3 or 4 shows per week. One of my favorite new shows, though, is Kid Nation (a summer camp experience turned into a television show). The series actually recieved a lot of negative attention before it ever aired but honestly, the program is great (a lot of people say that CBS is "exploiting" children, however, it does not seem like that to me). The premise of the show was to take 40 kids from all over the country, drop them off in an old Wetern town (Bonanza is what they call it) with limited contact with the outside world and see if they could get the town up and running. Of course, some of the kids fight and argue but for the most part, they work well together. Last week's episode centered around mealtime; the kids were split down the middle when half of them wanted to kill a chicken and the other half didn't. Needless to say, they had chicken noodle soup that night!

Anyways, tonight's episode looks as if it will be even more interesting. Episode #4 in the series (I think) is titled "Bless Us and Keep Us Safe," and it focuses on faith/religion. The kids have try to work through their religious differences and in doing so, one of their feats is to figure out how to, with a number of different beliefs present, set up worship services. From what I saw on the trailer for this week's episode, there is some fighting and arguing but in the end, there is worship. I am interested in seeing how everything plays out in Ol' Bonanza. I am equally interested in seeing if CBS makes the Christian children out to be the (only) close-minded people of faith on the show. Or will they gloss over the deeper tensions in the group to make it seem like the children seized upon pluralism and therefore, like them, the rest of the world should do the same? We'll see. Don't miss tonight's episode; even if you haven't been keeping up with the show, try to watch this one. Any thoughts or comments on tonight's episode are welcome (and appreciated) here at Pisteuomen.

10/9/07

Images of Antiquity: Ephesus, Pt. 5



In this set of pictures, we will be looking at ancient Ephesus. If you copy or download the pictures, please do not manipulate or change them in any form from their current state. Otherwise, feel free to use them. Enjoy.

In the first photo, you can see a number of things in the background but the focus is on the mosaic sidewalk. The design on the sidewalk is very detailed and intricate as it forms a number of artistic pictures. One of the things you realize when you travel through these ancient cities is that there were many talented artists who paved the way for much of how the Western world does art today. The sidewalk on which the mosaic rests is a much smaller part of a long street, one of the main streets that ran through the city. Also, the mosaic sits in front of a number of small workshops and houses. You can also see some columns running alongside the sidewalk, which takes us to photo #2.

In the second photo, you see me, posing behind a statue. These were "caesar" statues and they were placed at the top of this main road, among other places. Thus, when people entered Ephesus, they would see statues of the current caesar. In all of the ingenuity, the makers of these statues created the body portion in such a way that the head portion could come off. This saved them a lot of time and money. So, when a new caesar came to power, they would only have to replace the head portion and not the whole statue.

In picture three, you can see the mosaic sidewalk again, as well as the stores and small houses that I mentioned above. It might have been these types of shops that Paul often worked out of. One thing that makes this photo very interesting is placing it next to photo #4. In picture #4, you see a portion of a large, ancient mansion. This mansion is right next door to all of the small homes. In fact, about 10-15 of the small homes could have fit inside the mansion. You can see all of the artwork and elaborate luxuries of the mansion. There is a good chance that when someone like the author of John spoke of a mansion with many rooms, this is what he envisioned.

Close to the mansion, right next door to it actually, was The Library of Celsus. This was one of the largest libraries in all of antiquity during Paul's day. No doubt Paul visited this library, after all, he was fond of quoting Greek literature from time-to-time. In this picture, you can see a large mountain in the background. Legend has it--and I emphasize "legend" for a reason--that this is where Mary, the mother of Jesus lived out the rest of her life once Jesus died (supposedly, she lived here with the apostle John).

It is not hard to see how Christians in Ephesus might have wanted to emphasize "Mary," the mother of Jesus. After all, Ephesus was a center for worship of the goddess Artemis (perhaps Christians, in light of the Artemis cult, felt as though they needed a woman to venerate). In picture six, you can see a statue of Artemis (one of many Artemis statues). In this one, she has bulbs or balls all over her. There have been many theories as to what these bulbs are. I would argue that they are eggs, that is fertility eggs. Artemis was often noted for being a fertility goddess. She was also known as the huntress goddess. In the photo, though you can't really see them, there are animal medallions all over her. Lions, wolves, etc. This actually leads us to the next photo.

In photo #7, you see the Ephesian theater. We are told in Acts and elsewhere that Paul was familiar with this theater, indeed, he was taken there to be tried before some of the people who owned Artemis statue making businesses. The people complained that he was driving their business away. In 1 Cor. Paul says that he fought with the "wild beasts" in Ephesus, I think that he is referring to worshippers of Artemis (the huntress and fertility goddess). Finally, in picture #8, you see an ancient baptismal font (probably 4th century AD or later). A few feet away from this font, supposedly, lies the apostle John's body (in a chamber).

I could say much more about Ephesus but that is all time will permit at this point. If you ever have the chance to visit Turkey, make sure you visit Ephesus. Next to Corinth, Philippi and Athens in Greece, anicent Ephesus in Turkey is one of the greatest remaining sites of antiquity to date.

10/8/07

The Bearing of a Name

In Isaiah 4.1, these words are recorded: "In that day seven women will take hold of one man and say, 'We will eat our own food and provide our own clothes; only let us be called by your name. Take away our disgrace!'" Given the circumstances of the time--the violent overtaking of Jerusalem--it might well be the case that so many of the town's men were killed in battle, that in terms of a man-to-woman ratio, after the fght, there was left only 1 man to about every 7 women. Now, a lot of men would love to have 7 women bickering over them but if we can see past that for a moment, we find something very interesting in this passage.

We all know that names were of great importance in the ancient world but according to this passage, there was a link between betrothal and the taking or bearing of a name. Abraham Heschel points out in his book The Prophets(which I will post a book review on soon), that the prophet Jeremiah was one who knew what it meant to be intimate with God, it meant "the joy and delight of being, as it were, a bride...The prophet's situation was one of betrothal to the Lord, to the God of hosts (145-6)."

From the standpoint of application, this got me thinking today, "Have I been bearing the name of the Lord? Have I been sympathetic to His call, to His pathos and to His anguish over all of humanity's sinfulness? Am I exemplifying any of the characteristics of one of God's prophets? Do others even know or are they even the slightest bit aware that I am betrothed/married to Him and that I have taken His name?" I guess that question confronts all of us who desire to be called "God's people." So, what about you, how can you answer those questions? How's your marriage with God?

10/7/07

Urgent: Need Housing in San Diego

As many of you know, the annual Society of Biblical Literature meeting is fast approaching. This year's meeting is in San Diego, CA. The dates for the conference are Saturday, November 17th through Tuesday, November 20th. As of now, I have not officially registered for the conference but I am planning (or trying) to go. One of the hurdles standing in my way is housing. Is there anyone out there who lives or has relatives or friends in the San Diego area that might be willing to share their floor or couch with me for a few days? If you are willing or know someone who might be, please let me know. You can email me at: halc dot 40dp at mailcity dot com (have to spell out the address so that spammers don't get it; they don't stop to actually read blogs). Anyways, if you or anyone you know would be willing to help me out, please let me know as soon as possible (preferably by Oct. 13th or 14th). This preacher would be eternally grateful for any help. Also, if any of you are interested in going to the conference but have not found housing and might like to go in on a hotel room together (as long as you don't snore) I'd be willing to do that, perhaps. Let me know via email or by commenting here. Thanks.

A Limerick on the Lord's Day

(based on Mk. 7.24-30)


There once was a woman from Tyre
She had a daughter with demons inside her
She saw Christ and fell down
Then He called Her a hound
Good thing she wasn't a biter

10/6/07

Destructive Dispensationalism: "It is time for a pre-emptive strike on Iran..."

As most of the world knows, Iran's president Ahmi...whatever his name is, spoke at Colombia University last week. Of course, this brought many protesters out of the woodworks and it raised many questions about freedom (e.g. Do non-American citizens simply get American rights when they step on to American soil?). Yet, another thing that his visit did was that it exposed John Hagee's CUFI organziation. If you aren't familiar with John Hagee or CUFI, well, you've been fortunate. However, Hagee is making a strong impression on many Evangelicals around the world, especially in the US. The whole of Hagee's ministry revolves around a religio-political scheme. His end-times, Dispensational theology in a nutshell, is: For Christ to come, a few things need to take place: 1. The Jews need to be put back and kept back in Israel, 2. America needs to make that happen, 3. To make that happen, America needs to bomb Iran so that they can't prevent the Jews from living in Israel (hence the subtitle of this post, Hagee's words), 4. This war initiated by America on behalf of Israel, which is against Iran, will be the beginning of Armageddon, and 5. Armageddon must commence for Christ to come back/return to earth.

That is the short of it. In my opinion, every single Christian in the world, especially those living in America, needs to be knowledgeable on this subject. Hagee's movement is becoming a political power-house. Presidential candidate Joe Lieberman is even in on all of this, he is ready to strike Iran (J. McCane is also involved with CUFI). Lieberman even calls Hagee a man of God, a man who has even surpassed Moses! I was stunned when I heard that. Anyways, if you have 20 or so minutes, you can get a full rundown, an in-depth look at all of this. Last night, Bill Moyers devoted nearly 3/4's of his show to it. Below, I have included the show (divided into 3 short portions). Please, please, please, take the time to educate yourself and others on this subject--we Christians need to be aware of what is going on! If you don't have time to watch all 3 parts, at least watch part 3!!! Honestly, it is high time to dispense with Dispensationalism; as far as I can tell, this divisive and destructive theology is the only thing that needs blown up!

Part 1: Talk of the Town

10/5/07

Images of Antiquity: Laodicea, Pt. 4




*Okay, so after posting this, I noticed that somehow, the pictures changed order. That could happen again, who knows, so, even though the pictures may have numbers in the bottom right corner, to go along with my comments below, take the picture of the theater as the first of the series (thus, theather pic = photo #1).

Continuing my series "Images of Antiquity," I offer here some photos and thoughts on ancient Laodicea, located in Turkey. You may copy, save, use and distribute these pictures in their present format. Please do not manipulate or change them. Thanks and enjoy!

In photo number one, you can see the Laodicean theater. Of all of the theaters I visited in Turkey, this was by far the largest one I saw (and I saw a lot of them because practically every sizeable city had one). It appears that this theater was used predominantly for plays and musical performances. The acoustics of this theather were amazing, one person could stand down in the center pit and another could stand at the top and when you spoke, it was like you were standing right next to one another. Laodicea is mentioned six times in the Scriptures at: Colossians 2.1, 4.13, 15, 16 and Revelation 1.11 and 3.14. Of all of these mentions, the most telling (from a visual point-of-view) is Revelation 3.14-22, it says:

To the angel of the Church of Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other. So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked...To those whom I love I rebuke and discipline...To those who are victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne..."

While there is a whole lot going on here, we can see how some of these words might have evoked images of their surroundings in their heads. But we need to look at photos two through four to understand this more.

In photo two, you see an elaborate road, a road with many columns and decorated capitals, a road that was lined with many shops and which lead right to the enormous theater we just looked at (among other places). In short, this town was wealthy, just as is noted in Revelation. They seem to have gone all-out when building things but their ethics were found wanting; they didn't help those in need, even though they had the means. Sound familiar?

In photo number three of the slideshow, you can see me sitting in front of the ancient Laodicean stadium. One gets the impression from visiting Laodicea that the people of this area liked to do things large-scale. This stadium was one of the biggest (if not "the" biggest) in ancient Asia-Minor. In the photo, you can see many smaller stones around the sides of the stadium, these were essentially the seats. Perhaps when the Laodiceans heard the term "victory" the stadium was one of the things that came to mind!(As with the theater, it is likely that the seats are so crumbled and spread out from numerous earthquakes that hit the area, perhaps alluded to in Rev.) If you look closely, you can also see a large mountain range in the distance. For the most part, these mountains stay snow-capped. In fact, the Laodieans used these snow-capped mountains for water purposes, that is, they built aqueducts that allowed water to flume down to their city. Like everything else in this area, the aqueduct system was large. (You can see a picture of the aqueducts in the fourth photo.)

This portion of the flume system (photo #4) is located about 15 to 20 feet left of where I was sitting in the previous stadium photo. In that picture, the mountains were a considerable distance behind me (maybe 5-10+ miles), therefore, you can kind of sense how gigantic this water system was. The water flowed on the top of the arches where there was an engraved pipe-like system. John mentions in Revelation that the Laodiceans are neither hot nor cold but lukewarm. I showed some pictures in my previous post of this series (Pamukkale) how the nearby city of Pamukkale had hot springs. These springs were more therapeutic than anything; they were known for their healing. Well, just a few miles away, here in Laodicea, there was fresh, cold water that flowed in from the mountains. A few miles from both Pamukkale and Laodicea, some archeologists have found an underground pipe system, a system that was meant to pipe in cold and hot water from surrounding areas. However, it was often the case that this piped water would grow tepid or lukewarm on the way in and thus, become undrinkable. So, it is possible that John is drawing on all of these local water sources to make his point: being cold is good because it is refreshing, being warm is good because it is therapeutic but being lukewarm is bad because it is niether, it is useless and undesirable, therefore, you are to be hot or cold--therapeutic or refreshing to the soul and to society--not lukewarm or useless (again, I believe though, that there is more going on in John's statement than just this!).

So, that is it for Laodicea, next up in the series is ancient Ephesus!

10/4/07

The Bible Is Magic

Okay, so if it was not already clear enough that many Western (especially American) Christians are biblically illiterate, something else had to be developed in the world of Christendom to prove it. In a country where a new type of Bible is being developed every day, I think perhaps, that the worst type is now upon us. And as expected (Lord help us!) it is taking people by storm! It is called "The Personal Promise Bible." (I am surpised that Scott @ Scotteriology has not picked up on this yet, what with his eye for ignorant cultural fads and all--you're not dropping the ball on us are you Scott?)

Anyways, the point of this Bible is that...wait for it...it is personalized. When you order it from the publishers, they will go through the whole thing and insert your very own personal name right into the text. I went to their site and got a few examples:

Therefore if Michael is in Christ, Michael is a new creation.The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new. (2 Cor. 5:17)

For Michael is His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that Michael should walk in them. (Eph. 2:10)

And as he came up out of the water, the heavens were torn open and the Spirit descended on Michael like a dove (just kidding, I made that when up).

As I said before, too many people are biblically illiterate and one thing that this type of Bible suggests is that it is okay to be biblically illiterate, which leads me to another problem I have with this whole scheme: Christianity is never a merely personal thing. You do not attain spiritual gifts or salvation or anything alone--it is all in accordance with being part of the Body of Christ. For example, I have heard people say things like "Jesus died for you, just for you, and if you were the last person on earth He would do it, just for you." But really, this is not a biblical way of thinking. The Bible never implies that Christ died for one (no, He died for "all") and nowhere does it suggest that He died or would have died only for me. In fact, Christ is never spoken of as one who will come back for just one person. No, Christ died for the Church! Christ will return not for individual one but for His "whole" Church, His bride (that, of course, is plural!).

Part of the whole problem with this Personal Promise Bible is that it takes the true Bible out of context. The New Testament, for instance, was written in a collectivist setting (that is, where "group" mentality was "THE" way of thinking about the world); the first Christians and the Scripture writers were not individualists like we are today. So, to project our individualsim back on to them is incorrect; in fact, it reveals just how truly individualistic we are to want to even create or buy something like this. God forbid we learn to read the Bible in its ancient languages or even in its context, right? Let's make it as easy and as blessing-oriented for ourselves as we can; after all reading the Bible shouldn't be hard work, right, shouldn't it work just like magic?

So, I guess I'm saying: "Don't buy this Bible, in fact, don't even go anywhere near it and if you know somebody who has one, tell them (or force them) to get rid of it. By the way, I wonder if this is the official Bible of the Word of Faith Movement (e.g. Joel Osteen, TD Jakes, The Copelands, etc.)? I wouldn't be surprised if it was.

10/3/07

Additions to the Blogroll

I have added a few new blogs to Pisteuomen.

For those of you interested in Theological German, Mark Alterman has started a new blog on this very subject; I have added a link to his site on my blogroll. Or, simply check it out by clicking the following link: Theological German.

For those of you interested in Theological French, Celucian L. Joseph has started a new blog on this very subject. Click the above link or the "blogroll link" to visit the site.

Another great site that I have recently found is BibleMap. This is basically GoogleMaps meets the Bible. You can select any chapter in the Bible and if there is a location mentioned in that chapter, it will show up on the map. This site is amazing and I am excited to see how it will develop in the future. Keep up the good work Tim Kimberley.

10/2/07

What a Great Belly Laugh!

One of my wife's friends knows the woman who made the short video below (she works for the National Fatherhood Initiative). This video is touching and makes my heart rejoice at the chance to be a father; it also makes me laugh like crazy. Hope you get a kick out of this, Enjoy and share.