ExegeTV - Episode 13, Having A Healthy Image Of The Bible

The latest episode of ExegeTV is up. It discusses having a healthy image of the Bible. It has also been added to the ExegeTV page / tab above. Check it out.


Lessons From The Gridiron

I've noted on Pisteuomen a couple of times that this year I started officiating football (and soon to come, basketball). As an official, you're supposed to be as "in-the-know" as possible; you're supposed to know all of the rules, the ins-and-outs of the game, etc. Yet, while you're supposed to "know" everything, it goes without saying that you're going to learn things as well. Here are a few things I've learned from my first year of officiating:

1. If coaches are professional and disciplined, the whole program is disicplined. If the coaches are professional and disciplined, the players, parents, program coordinators, etc. are also professional and disciplined. You can tell a difference, even, in the way players who have a professional and disciplined coach get in their stances and those who do not. It all comes back to the coach!

2. Some parents take little league sports way too seriously. Now, I know they pay for jerseys, cleats, etc. and that they put a lot of time into taking kids to practice and picking them up. But there is just no excuse for acting "out of control" in front of your children and everyone else over a call you think should have been made (that actually, probably shouldn't have). I saw one parent this season grab his child's facemask and scream at him. A few moments later, the child went over and tried to stand next to his dad on the sideline. The dad proceeded to put his arm around 3 other players and coach them while telling is own son (8 years old) to "get out of my face". A couple of minutes after that, a coach from the same team approached me and said "That guy shows no love to his son does he?"

3. A guy in the top row of the bleachers on the opposite 30-yard line, can always see what happened down on the other side of the field better than the official who was right on top of the play. (Yeah right!)

4. When officiating, patience and coolness must be practiced virtues!

5. Officiating provides good mental and physical exercise, a good opportunity to give back to the community and an opportunity to teach/learn. The extra pay is not a bad bonus!


Key Episodes in Islamic History: A Brief Timeline of Islam

Reading through the book Islam Vs. Islamism recently, I came across this brief timeline which I found both fascinating and illuminating:

* 622 The hijra, or migration of Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina; start of the Islamic calendar

* 661–689 Civil wars lead to the split between Sunnis and Shiites

* 744–750 `Abbasid revolution ends the first, Arab-dominated, Omayyad caliphate and establishes political equality among believers. Start of Islam’s Golden Age 1258 Mongols sack Baghdad—end of `Abbasid caliphate and of Golden Age

* 1453 Ottoman Turks capture Constantinople; end of Byzantine Empire

* 1492 Discovery of America breaks Middle Eastern monopoly of trade with Asia; fall of Granada ends Muslim hold over Spain 1683 Ottoman Turks fail to conquer the Habsburg capital Vienna; beginning of Ottoman decline

* 1798 Napoleon Bonaparte’s Egyptian expedition breaks Mamluk power and opens the Middle East to Western influences

* 1856–1857 Heyday of tanzimat reforms to modernize Ottoman Empire; in India, Sepoy Rebellion is crushed, end of Mughals, India becomes British Crown colony

* 1915–1919 During World War I, British-instigated Arab Revolt against Turks; Britain and France plan colonization of Arab East; Balfour Declaration promises Palestine to Jews; end of Ottoman Empire; joint Hindu-Muslim anti-British agitation in India; Wilson’s Fourteen Points and Russian Revolution inspire hope for independence among Muslims worldwide

* 1924 Republic of Turkey under Atatürk abolishes caliphate

* 1928 Hassan al-Banna establishes Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

* 1947–1949 Partition of British Mandate of Palestine, independence of Israel, the Palestinian nakba (catastrophe); partition of British India, independence of India and Pakistan

* 1967 Six Day War or June, 1967 War, Israel defeats Arab states; conquers and occupies Sinai, West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights; crisis of secular pan-Arabism

* 1977–1978 Israeli-Egypt peace accord breaks taboo on negotiating with Jewish state; Islamic Revolution establishes mixed theocraticdemocratic regime in Iran, led by Khomeini

* 1981–1983 Islamists assassinate Egyptian president Sadat; Israeli invasion of Lebanon militarily breaks PLO; massacre of Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila; failure of U.S.-French intervention. First suicide bombs by Shiite resistance

* 1988–1993 Islamist resistance leads to Soviet retreat from Afghanistan; Iraq-Iran War breaks Iran’s Islamist dynamism, ends in stalemate; Iraq invades Kuwait, Western-led international intervention defeats Iraq in Gulf War, fueling anti-Westernism; intifada (Palestinian revolt) and Israeli-PLO peace process. Ahmad Yassin Islamists establishes Hamas

* 1996 Hamas’s terrorism interrupts peace process. Taliban establish fundamentalist regime in Afghanistan

* 2000–2001 Failure of Israeli-Palestinian peace process leads to second intifada and emergence of Hamas; 9/11 al-Qaeda of Osama bin Laden 2001 terror attack against United States, Western-led international intervention dislodges Afghan Taliban

* 2003 U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq; attempts at democratization
and international anti-Western Islamist mobilization


Six Uninteresting Things About Me

Sir James McGrath tagged me with a meme a couple of days ago. Just getting around to it, here are six things you might find absolutely uninteresting to me:

1. When I was in high school, I taught myself bass guitar. From there, I taught myself how to play regular guitar. In college, my best friend and I traveled the East Coast as an acoustic duo; it was fun. Now, I am a worship leader.

2. I have close to 2,000 books.

3. I referee basketball and football.

4. I played soccer all the way from kindergarten through college.

5. I am currently letting my hair grow out.

6. I hate the smell and feel of newspaper.

I guess I'm a meme killer but I'm not passing the buck on this go round (e.g. I'm not going to tag anyone else this time around). Maybe next time...


What's Your Church About?

At the local Church where I am currently serving, I've been doing a bit of media work (e.g. helping revamp the website, making a kind of digitized brochure, developing slideshows, creating videos, etc.). The following is a short video I made as a "welcome" / "about" video; I think it's pretty cool. Any thoughts?


John McCain Screwed Over David Letterman...And Paid For It!!!

Watch the whole video!

HT: Drew T.

A Conversation With Dr. James McGrath: Interview Series, Pt. 7

Recently, I was privileged to have a fruitful conversation with Dr. James McGrath, associate professor of religion at Butler University (IN). Among other things, we talked about theology, hermeneutics, creation vs. evolution and some of his new books. Do take a few minutes to read the convo and then, head on over to James's sites and have a look around: Exploring Our Matrix, The Burial of Jesus (Companion Site for the Book). Thanks to Dr. McGrath for taking some time out of his busy schedule to chat! Enjoy the discussion.

* * * * *

Michael: James thanks for taking the time to stop by Pisteuomen and chat. If you would, tell the readers of Pisteuomen a little bit about yourself (e.g. your faith background, your vocation and some of your interests, etc.).

James: Thanks for inviting me to do this. I think if I answer this first question in full, I'll fill all the space you have set aside for this. But I'll try to keep it brief. I grew up in the Catholic Church, but drifted away somewhat as a teenager. But I was spiritually seeking, and thought I was a Christian (I believed in God more than most people I knew), but when I came across some contemporary Christian music on the radio it made an impression on me, because they sang about God and their faith as a reality in a way I couldn't. To make a long story short, a friend invited me and another friend to a concert at her church (a Pentecostal church), and it too made an impression on me. The next morning at the Sunday service, I simply called out to God in surrender, and felt a wave of peace sweep over me. And that's what got me on the track to doing what I'm doing now - the desire to explore my faith further, learn more about the Bible, understand more and explore more. In the process, I ended up attending Baptist churches, starting when I was a student in the U.K. and I'm now a member of an American Baptist Church here in Indianapolis. I'm skipping a lot of details here, but even though I presently teach at a school without a religious affiliation, I entered the study of religion (and still spend hours and hours pondering subjects in a way that my job description does not require) because it is an expression of my personal interest, having all begun with me exploring my personal faith and considering possible vocations in ministry. Eventually someone thought I might be good at teaching.

Michael: So, what "religious" subject would you say you spend the most time pondering and why?

James: Currently, it is really the historical figure of Jesus. If there is something I am personally as well as professionally interested in at the moment, it is this. I also have other interests (the Mandaeans, and religion and science fiction) that also have some of my attention. But as I've studied how historical investigation works, I've become persuaded that it provides the best tools we have for investigating the past. These tools also seem to be unable to provide the sort of certainty that, at one point in my religious thinking, I assumed religious believers were supposed to have. And so, the question of what it means to be a Christian when Christianity is so intertwined with history and historical study doesn't provide us with absolute certainty, is a key issue for me. In fact, it is one that comes up in my recent book, The Burial of Jesus: History and Faith, and which I will also have in mind but in a different way during my (first ever!) sabbatical in the Spring, when I plan to work on oral tradition and the Gospels.

Michael: Now, you’ve mentioned a few times on your blog—in addition to what you just said—that you have a couple of new books coming out. Care to say a little more about those here?

James: Sure. My first book (as is most common among academics) was a revised version of my PhD thesis. That was published as John's Apologetic Christology by Cambridge University Press. I realized as I was working on it that, in order to make the case convincing for how I understood the relationship between John's Christology and Jewish monotheism, I would have to make a case about Jewish monotheism and the development of early Christology more generally. That research has been a focus of interest over a number of years, and the result (I won't say "end" result, since one never knows) is my book The Only True God, forthcoming in 2009 from University of Illinois Press. It starts with Jewish monotheism in the Hellenistic era, then turns to the New Testament. In the mean time, I wrote a small book, my first, seeking to address issues in a manner more accessible to a general audience (and at a price mere mortals can afford, unlike some of these academic books). As my interest turned to the historical figure of Jesus, I became interested in the resurrection accounts (isn't everyone), and was particularly intrigued by the differences between Mark and the other Gospels when it came to the burial of Jesus. So, I wrote a short book, and sought to begin with a general introduction to a historical approach to the Gospels. I then treated the topic using those tools, and finally attempted to carry the subject through to theological reflection, and thus tried to go from start to finish, addressing in the process, how historical study, theology and faith might interrelate. And since I have other projects to work on between now and November (two conference papers for SBL), and then a sabbatical I want to devote to NEW projects, I decided to go ahead and publish the book The Burial of Jesus through BookSurge.

Michael: What major challenge, if any, would you say this short book poses for Bible readers?

James: Well, the very characteristics of a historical approach are themselves unfamiliar to many, thus, showing how historians approach certain sources can be disconcerting to some, to say the least. For example, if one even raises the possibility that two Gospels might have information that historians cannot simply harmonize, that can really trouble people who have been taught to expect that. This was, in fact, how I ended up studying the Gospel of John and focusing on the subject I did for my PhD. I was given the impression that the four Gospels really should all say the same thing. When I had to acknowledge that John's style and emphases really are different, making sense of that became important. But getting back to The Burial of Jesus, in addition to the historical approach itself, I do think that the fact that historical study cannot remove all doubt about the early Christians’ resurrection experiences will probably be a difficult issue for many to wrestle with. But I wrote on the subject because I know people wrestle with it anyway. And the book is an attempt to figure out what historical study, and what my own life-changing religious experience, can and cannot prove "beyond reasonable doubt". My own view of history in a nutshell is this: I do believe that the perspective of faith and theology can say more than history or science. Just because we cannot "prove", using scientific or historical tools, that people are valuable and have worth, that doesn't mean we shouldn't affirm it. On the other hand, what we say from the perspective of our faith and theology ought to take into account and do justice to the best understanding that historians and scientists and other specialists (like Biblical scholars, for instance!) have to offer.

Michael: So, do your historical insights lead you to argue for more of a “theological hermeneutic” or do you simply contend for more of a “genre oriented” reading? Or do you take another approach

James: I am interested in "all of the above", I suppose is the answer. At the moment, I'm focused on historical matters. But I would very much like to return at some point, to the subject of hermeneutics and the gap that sometimes exists between Biblical studies and theology. It is perhaps for this reason that I rejected the suggestion that someone once made to me that I have separate blogs for my religion and science, religion and TV/sci-fi, biblical studies and other subjects. While they are legitimately separated, I like being able to look back and see what I blogged about my research, what I was watching on TV, and where I was at theologically!

Michael: In the same vein as your last two answers, it is clear that another hot-button issue you deal with, especially on your blog, is the topic of evolution verses both intelligent design and creationism. What piqued your interest in this subject?

James: As a teenager I got very enthusiastic about young-earth creationism, and bought into the notion that evolution was a key reason for people not believing in God and for the unraveling or the moral fabric of society, etc. My interest led me to a book entitled Science and Creationism in which some extremely patient biologists and other scientists explained why the evidence didn't support young-earth creationism, and how at times the evidence was being misconstrued by supporters of young-earth creationism. So, it is because my own views have shifted so much, and because I can easily imagine that, had I thought that the young-earth position was inseparable from my faith, such a discovery could have caused a serious crisis of faith, it is important to me to be as vocal as possible about the fact that there are multiple viewpoints and not merely two diametrically opposed ones. I'm also interested because many Christians who take the YEC position think the Bible requires them to do so, and so the Biblical studies data relevant to this is also something I try to bring into the discussion more than is often the case.

Michael: So, in your view, is there room in the Church for more than one view?

James: Yes, indeed, on many topics! I'm doing a series in my church Sunday School class about "When Christians Disagree". I remember, as a teenager with a lot of zeal about my newfound personal faith, being absolutely certain that I now had all the answers. But in fact, I now know I didn't have all the answers, and it seems odd looking back that I wasn't more aware that I had much to learn. Perhaps we're all like that in our teenage years. But it does seem that if we acknowledge that Christians grow and mature and change their minds over the course of their lives, and that this is normal, and if the church is to be a place that fosters such growth, then by definition there will be different viewpoints. And this is helpful to our growth, since I know that I, for one, learn a lot more from interacting with people who disagree with me than I do when surrounded by likeminded individuals!

Michael: I wholeheartedly agree with the notion of the Church being a place where we can grow and change and whatnot. I also agree that discussion with those of different viewpoints is incredibly enriching. I’m sure that as a professor of religion, you encounter this in other faculty, students, etc. But tell me, in your field, who have been or currently are, some of your major (intellectual) influences?

James: Well, there's James Dunn, who was my doctoral supervisor. And I really admire the work of the late Raymond Brown, who I think was a great model for the compatibility of personal faith, rigorous scholarly honesty, and humility. With all my diverse interests, there are many, but one person whose books I've found particularly helpful and inspiring lately is Keith Ward. And I'm reading Scot McKnight's forthcoming book The Blue Parakeet and think it has an important message for those trying to wrestle with the diversity in the Biblical canon when coming from a conservative Evangelical starting point. [I can't claim Scot as an influence, though - at least not yet!]

Michael: On a similar yet different note, who would you say are some of the leading voices in biblical studies / theology today?

James: Maybe I should have waited to mention Scot's book in THIS category. But there is a lot going on, in so many diverse areas, that it is really hard to keep up with more than a few that one is personally working in. I'm glad Kenneth Bailey is continuing to publish, and can say that I've really appreciated the work of scholars like Bruce Malina on cultural background and context. I lived in Ireland, Northern Ireland, England and Romania and the more time one spends in other countries, the more one realizes that all communication, including in the Bible, requires a context in order to be understood. So, basically everyone who is working on that sort of topic I appreciate!

Michael: Okay James, here’s my last question, one I ask of all my interviewees: If you could own only one book (besides the Bible) what would it be and why?

James: Oh no, the "one book beside the Bible" question! Is it OK if instead of a book I take a CD?

Michael: Sure. This is certainly a first!

James: I'd take a recording of Kurt Atterberg's Symphony No.2, because when one reads academic books it leaves one with a very good sense of the many questions we are still struggling with. When I listen to music, it reminds me that in addition to questioning and investigating, there is a place for simply standing in awe, wonder, and amazement. And since presumably in this scenario I am stranded on a desert island, I'd have a lot of time to simply stand in awe. Also, if I'm stranded on an island, I'd start looking around for a hidden hatch in the ground, but that's another subject...

Michael: James, I want to thank you for taking the time to have a conversation; I’m sure the readers of Pisteuomen will enjoy it very much. We wish you much success in your forthcoming books and future endeavors. Blessings to you and yours.

* * * * *

Here are links to other interviews that have taken place on Pisteuomen:

* A Conversation with Eric Sowell: Interview Series, Pt. 6
* A Conversation with Alan Knox: Interview Series, Pt. 5
* A Conversation with Chris Tilling: Interview Series, Pt. 4
* A Conversation with Scott Bailey: Interview Series, Pt. 3
* A Conversation with John the Methodist: Interview Series, Pt. 2
* A Conversation with Josh McManaway: Interview Series, Pt. 1


Bible Scholar: Test Your New Testament Knowledge

Below is the link to the free download of a new program I've created called "Bible Scholar". Hopefully, this will be the first module of many in this series. With this simple module, you can test your knowledge of the New Testament. I have also added this program to the "My Free Bible Resources" page / tab above. After you test yourself, let me know in the comments section below what your score was. Have fun. -TMWH


Ever Wonder What A Football Referee's Signals Mean?

Then download my "Football Officiating Module" and find out. The program is set up like a flash card system that allows you to get a good grasp on or even memorize the signals. This is created for officials but is free for public use as well. (This module has also been added to the "Misc." page / tab above.) It is free for download and distribution by clicking the following link:

Football Officiating Signals Module 1.0


ExegeTV - Episode 12, Finding Resources For Bible Study

The latest episode of ExegeTV is up. It discusses how to find resources for studying the Bible. This has also been added to the ExegeTV page / tab as well. Enjoy.


(Funny) Quote of the Day

During a lunch conversation with my wife today, here's what was said:

Wife: "Did you hear that hound dog barking last night?"
Me: "Hound dog? How do you know that it was a hound dog?"
Wife: "By the way it was hounding."


Do You Need A Blog, Logo or Interactive Program Designed?

If so, I am your man. My prices are beyond fair and the quality is great. If you need examples of a blog, look no further than this one. If you need examples of interactive programs, check out some of the resources on my "Free Bible Resources" page. If you need examples of logos, email me and I'll send some to you. If you need any of these, contact me at: halc dot 40dp at mailcity dot com and we'll start working together. Blessings.


No Reason To Be Christian

Here's a fascinating quote from Marva Dawn's book Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down, dwell on it for a few minutes (especially if you're a Church leader): "If we give people less of a Gospel, they see no reason to be Christian" (150).


German, Greek & Ecclesiology

Okay, if I haven't already said enough about the Kzoo bookstore and how I am just over-the-top impressed with it, I'll say something else. Not only is this the best priced bookstore ever, they also do this thing where if you're a city resident, you can fill out a card with what kind of books you're interested in and if they recieve any works of that nature, they'll hold them for you for a week and call you and let you know about them. I know of no other bookshops that do this (they may exist, I just don't know about them). Anyway, they called me this week and in addition to the Greek works I asked them to hold, I picked up 3 other books (the German ones and the Marva Dawn one) for a whopping $7. Incredible!!! Here they are:

German for Reading Knowledge Introduction to German Poetry Lexcial Aids for Students of New Testament Greek

New Testament Word Lists Beginning Greek Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down

* H. Jannach - German for Reading Knowledge
* G. Mathieu - Intro. to German Poetry
* C. Morrison - New Testament Word Lists
* B. Metzger - Lexical Aids for Students of NT Greek
* S. Paine - Beginning Greek
* M. Dawn - Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down


My Cursor Keeps Moving When I Type : Trouble-Shooting Vista

For the last couple of days, I've noticed that when I am typing online (for instance, in the search box of Yahoo! or Google), in the middle or at the end of a word, the cursor would just move on its own. For example, if I were typing the sentence "Hello, my name is Michael" the cursor would jump and the sentence would end up looking like "Hello, my nachael is Mi". It's kind of hard to explain but the short of it is that the cursor simply jumps or moves when typing. There are a number of theories on how to fix this but in Vista, here's what I've found to work:

1. Go to the "Start" menu
2. Click "Control Panel"
3. Select "Classic View"
4. Click "Mouse"
5. Select the "Device Settings" tab
6. Click the "Reset Devices" button at the bottom
7. Click "Apply"
8. Click "Ok"

Your problem should be fixed just like mine was. For more of my troubleshooting articles, see the following links: My Internet Suddenly Stopped Working: How To Fix It, How To Find Hidden Folders/Files In Vista and "Windows Explorer Must Shutdown...Must Restart" Loop. Blessings!


Stereotypes, Prejudices & Presidential Politics

So, I am not at all pleased with any of the four leading candidates for President and/or Vice President this time around. As usual, I'm not pleased with all of the attack ads and mudslinging either. It gets annoying fast! By the same token, I am not pleased with all of the stereotyping that is embedded in all of the politicking. I'm tired of hearing the comment: "Barack might be the first black president ever." Now, I know that ethnic relations need some work in this country but what in the world does skin color have to do with being a good president? (By the way, the same is true of his religion, e.g. the Muslim accusations; what does his religion have to do with being a good politican?) By the same token, I think it is just as absurd when people make statements like: "How can Palin be both a good mom and a good VP?" This not only comes from men but in fact, I've only heard women say it. That boggles my mind. Why is this sexism even tolerated? Still, many people have tried to be politically correct and have avoided saying anything offensive in the ways of ethnicity or gender.

But there is still one slur that keeps recurring that is just as bad; it has to do with John McCain's age. Seriously, ageism has reared its ugly head everywhere. People are trying to discredit McCain because of his age . I wonder why people are so careful not to offend Obama (skin color) and Palin (gender) but could care less about McCain (ageism)? This is nothing but a small view of a much larger symptom in our society where we treat the elderly as 2nd class citizens. This just isn't right! When will political analysts, media journalists and campaign strategists stop playing dirty and simply run a candidate's campaign on its own good merit? I'm not sure! But I am sure that if that ever happens, whoever it is, they will get my vote! Enough is enough!!!


On Jesus As A Healer

In the last few years there has been something of a revolution in biblical studies as scholars have become more inter-disciplinary. One growing and popular trend is to meld together biblical, medical and social-scientific studies. For instance, two books that I have read in the last year have attempted this feat (click HERE and HERE for more on those books).

Some of the more noticeable aspects of this undertaking that I've noticed are as follows:

1. There has been a purposeful move away from language of Jesus being a "curer" to Jesus being a "healer". In other words, many have argued that Jesus didn't cure people of physical ailments per se but rather, he healed them from psychiatric or somatoform disorders. (Again, click HERE and HERE for more on that).

2. In line with the previous point, there has also been a purposeful move away from viewing Jesus' healings as if they were of supernatural origin to understanding them as though they were of human descent. To put it more succinctly: Jesus was simply a mental health doctor of his day, a type of village practitioner, not unlike the traveling doctors we see in Civil War movies who, with a stethoscope and reflex hammer prescribe "sleep" or "time off" for recovery.

3. There has also been an attempt to point out that "diseases" or "sicknesses" are culturally defined. This has also led to a re-understanding and/or redefining of "demon possession". For example, what might be considered a common cold in the States might be considered demon possession in a remote New Guinea village. Thus, the New Testament scenes of Jesus were not actually spiritual events but rather, illnesses imbued by the culture with spiritual significance. Moreover, these illnesses recorded in narrative accounts were kind of intensified because the stories needed drama.

I could go on and on about this. While I find much of the speculation and theorizing as interesting, there is also so much of it that seems quite far-fetched. It seems inescapable that according to the New Testament authors, Jesus was certainly viewed as both a healer and a curer as well as an exorcist. The question is: 2,000+ years later, do we simply adopt that ancient worldview or do we, in an incredibly scientific age, think about things differently? Or, perhaps more appropriately and more to the heart of the issue: Are things such as immediate healing, demon expulsion, etc. legitimately part of our worldview? And, are they part of our worldview because we've encountered them or are they part of our worldview because of some ancient narratives?

When reflecting on Jesus as a healer, what conclusions do you come to and why? Without simply rejecting scientific, narrative, medical criticism, etc. where do you find yourself on the continuum and why? Is Jesus any different than the average doctor or psychiatrist today? How and why?


An Ode To The Body

Oh body, I know I take you for granted
I complain about you incessantly and
I grow weary of your weariness
I don't take care of you
But I still expect so much from you
I loathe your pains and
I seek your pleasures
I search for your comforts but
I get tired of your problems
When you ache I sleep
When you suffer I whine
When you need more of me
I give up on you
Oh body
My hands
My feet
My mind
When will I ever realize
That you've not yet given up on me and
When will I ever realize
That I should not give up on you
When will I realize
That to ignore your cries is to ignore the cries of others
When will I realize
That to be part of the Body
The Body of Christ
Means to love you more than I love myself
And means
To build you up instead of beating you down
When will I realize
That baptism cancels out narcissism
And that the many parts
Make up this one beautiful body

-TMWH (2008)


Theological Hermeneutics: A Couple (More) Items For Review

In addition to a couple of recent posts where I've mentioned books I'm currently reviewing for journals, here are a couple more, each of which deals with hermeneutics: 1) Henry A. Virkler's Hermeneutics: Principles and Processes of Interpretation, and 2) Daniel J. Treier's Introducing Theological Interpretation of Scripture: Recovering a Christian Practice. I'm looking forward to getting into these books and am wholly expecting to find some thought-provoking and challenging material. If you've read either of these, feel free to share some of your thoughts here.


Jesus: Wonder & Construction Worker

Walking The Abraham Path

A friend of mine sent me a link to a fascinating site yesterday. Perhaps this is old news to you but it was new to me. The site deals with "The Abraham Path" that is being recreated in the Mid-East. Here's a bit about the site. After you read this, check it out (click HERE):

"The Abraham Path is a route of cultural tourism that retraces the journey made by Abraham (Ibrahim) through the heart of the Middle East some four thousand years ago. Three and a half billion people — over half the human family — trace their history or faith back to Abraham, considered the father of monotheism. The Abraham Path honors this shared cultural heritage by linking together into a single itinerary of outstanding interest and beauty the ancient sites associated with Abraham and his family."


Reading & Interpreting Mark's Gospel

Here are a couple of books that I'm reviewing for journals right now: Sean Kealy's 3rd ed. of Mark's Gospel: A History of Its Interpretation and Brendan Byrne's A Costly Freedom: A Theological Interpretation of Mark's Gospel. The former author, Kealy, is one (if not "the") leading scholar on how the Gospel accounts have been interpreted throughout history. His first edition of this work covered Mark through the 19th century, his second through the 20th century and his new one through the 21st. The book by Byrne, which I am quite looking forward to reading is the third in a trilogy on the Gospels. Byrne's typical approach more theological than anything. Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading these books side-by-side and discovering the fruit they have to offer. Anyone read either of these works? If so, what are your thoughts?


Diving for Roman History in Israel

Here's a fascinating 2.5 minute video on maritime archaeology in Caesarea. There's a nice little history lesson and some interesting photos and theories. Give it a watch: Diving in Caesarea.


Das Evangelium nach Markus: Studies in Mark, Pt. 72

I've started working through the Gospel of Mark in German. Other than the fact that my copy of "die Bibel" has a nice apocrypha, it also uses some archaic language here and there (e.g. "thee", "thou", etc.) which makes translating tricky sometimes. Anyway, as I was working through Mk. 1.1-3, I came across a couple of interesting word choices.

In Mk. 1.2, the verb "steht", which means "to stand" is used which renders the sentence: "It began, like it stands in/on the prophet Isaiah." There's nothing incredible about this, I just found it to be a very interesting word choice. Typically, the phrase employed is "As it is written..." To say "...like it stands" seems to suggest a more permanent sense.

Also, in the reest of that verse we find, "...er soll den Weg fur dich bahnen." This translates as "...he shall strike out a way for thee." Of course, this is referring to John the Baptizer and is merely another way of saying "...he shall prepare the way..." The imagery of "striking out" a way is quite fascinating. I don't necesarrily know what to make of it, however.

Finally, in 1.3, we encounter "Ebnet ihm die Strassen" ("Make the streets level."). I'm not sure if "level" suggests crooked or uneven streets. If it is "uneven" (as in a road that has more than one level) that is quite different imagery than I'd ever imagined for this verse. Of course, walking or riding on an unlevel road is not easy. If Mark is painting a picture of the forerunner of the Messiah, royalty, for instance, like Caesar coming on a chariot, would this imagery be more applicable?

Anyway, one of the values of working through the text in numerous languages is that insights such as these, small as they may be, tend to constantly crop up. Have any insight to add?


Michael Halcomb - High School Yearbook Photos

I was going through some of my old school yearbooks recently and came across these pictures. One's from my preppy years and the other's from my hippy years. I was sure somethin' huh?
Unlimited Free Image and File Hosting at MediaFire


What's Your Favorite Worship Song?

Here are the songs I've played since becoming a worship leader (some have been repeated). What's your favorite worship song?

* Brian Doerksen: Come Now Is The Time To Worship
* Chris Tomlin: Not To Us
* Jeremy Riddle: Sweetly Broken
* Ben Pasley: I Will Not Forget You
* David Crowder: You Alone
* Lamont Hiebert: Meet With Me
* David Ruis: You're Worthy Of My Praise
* Chris Tomlin: Holy Is The Lord
* Shane Barnard: May The Few
* Edward Perronet: All Hail The Pow'r Of Jesus' Name
* Bebo Norman: Nothing Without You
* Mac Powell: By His Wounds
* Martin Smith: All Over The World
* Darrell Evans: Trading My Sorrows
* Chris Tomlin: Forever
* Phil Wickham: Divine Romance
* Matt Redman: You Never Let Go
* Mac Byrd: God Of Wonders
* Bebo Norman: I Will Lift My Eyes
* Mark Hall: Who Am I
* Marie Barnett: Breathe
* Jeff Bourque: Change Me
* Paul Baloche: Praise Adonai
* Jeremy Camp: Right Here
* Matt Redman: Blessed Be Your Name
* Chris Tomlin: Your Grace Is Enough
* David Crowder: Come Thou Fount


Data Execution Prevention (DEP) & the "has stopped working" Prompt

One of the more annoying things about Windows Vista is the nagging "DEP" (data execution prevention) prompts. In a way they are good because they are just trying to alert you of a potential threat but in another way, they are terribly annoying and very frustrating. Many times DEP prompts kick-in after you've installed audio or video software/codecs. (See my previous post on that HERE.) For me, that has actually always been the case.

So (in contrast to the previous post mentioned above), instead of totally turning off Windows DEP or always having it on, there is an "in-between" spot. This "spot", I have found, is the best to use when running Vista. Here's how to set your computer up this way:

1. Go to "start" in the lower left corner of your screen
2. Select "all programs"
3. Select "accessories"
4. Right-Click "Command Prompt" and select "Run as Administrator"
5. On the black screen, type in the following (case and space sensitive): bcdedit.exe/set nx OptIn [*Note:If you have found that your DEP settings are inaccessible, this will make them accessible again once you have completed it. To check the settings, do the following: a) Go to "start", b) Right-Click "Computer", c) select "properties", d) select "Advanced System Settings", e) On the pop-up screen click "continue", f) under "performance" select "settings", g) select the "data execution prevention" tab. Now, if you cannot select either of the DEP settings, your DEP has been disabled. Sometimes even if they are turned on, you still can't access them. However, once you have completed steps 1-6 listed here, you will be able to. Then, you can choose which programs you want to prevent DEP from scanning.]
6. After typing the "bcdedit" code, you should get a confirmation note. If so, close all your windows and reboot the computer.
7. Once the computer has been rebooted, your problems should have gone away. If they didn't, then what you need to do is consult #5 above and follow all of the steps. When you get to the "data execution prevention" tab, select "Turn on DEP for all programs except those I select" and then find the programs you want DEP to bypass. Finally, all of your problems should be gone.
8. If you're still having problems, consult the other article I wrote which I mentioned above (click HERE for that). If that article doesn't fix your issue then you may have malware or some kind of virus haunting your computer. Sometimes, not usually, but sometimes, it is actually your virus software that is the very cause of your problems and uninstalling it will be your cure. If you do uninstall be sure to get new anti-virus software immediately.

If you've found this helpful or if you need help, feel free to comment here. Also, here are some other posts I've written on Vista/Computer related issues: My Internet Suddenly Stopped Working: How To Fix It, How To Find Hidden Folders/Files In Vista and "Windows Explorer Must Shutdown...Must Restart" Loop. Blessings!


Do Evolutionists Have Souls? Creationists Brains?

Check out this quote by Rabbi Brad Hirschfield (from an NPR Interview); it is quite profound!

"Most creationists relate to evolutionists as if they have no soul, and most evolutionists relate to the creationists as if they have no brain. Since according to Jewish tradition we all possess both, this is where our discussion should begin—no small feat in a culture in which the absolute obliteration of the other side’s views is often the only basis for thinking that one’s own position is correct."


Das Alphabet: My Free German Alphabet Module

Along with my Hebrew, Aramaic & Greek alphabet modules, I have now created a German one. The program, rendered as an .swf / flash file is free to download and share. As a flash file, it is user-friendly and very interactive. Pronunciation of German letters can be both vizualized and heard in this module. In addition to posting about it here, I have added a permanent link on the "My Free Bible Resources" page of this site. Click on the "das alphabet" screenshot or icon below to download. Enjoy.

My German Alphabet Module (Das Alphabet 1.0)


The Beginning: A Sermon By T. Michael W. Halcomb

Below is a sermon I delivered recently titled "The Beginning". It is part 1 of a 2 part series calld "The Beginning & The End". In addition to this audio sermon, I will try to have its follow-up posted next week, after it is delivered. Enjoy.


Mondays Are For Meditating (With Marcus Aurelius), Pt. 3

Here's another fascinating snippet from Marcus Aurelius (a day late, I might add): "How quickly things disappear, bodies into the universe, memories of them in time" (Meditations, II.12). Meditate on these things!

Rosemary Ruether, Herbert Krosney & Bart Ehrman

I found a couple of good deals at a Bargain Bookstore recently. Here are the two titles I picked up: (1) Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology, (2) The Lost Gospel: The Quest for the Gospel of Judas Iscariot. Anybody ever read either of these? If so, what are some of your thoughts?


Biblioblogs Carnival XXXIII

Let’s be honest already, biblical studies is the spice of life! That’s why I’ve spent a portion of the last month keeping tabs on biblically-oriented conversation that has taken place in the world and more particularly, in the blogosphere. Needless to say, a lot of ground has been covered many, many people. Below, for Biblioblogs Carnival XXXIII, you will find 31 days worth of links to thought-provoking posts. Over 150 different bloggers are mentioned (so, if you need to update your rss readers or blogrolls, now might be the time to do it) even though only 5 were nominated (as of 08.31.08, 8pm). Scattered throughout, you will find some familiar names as well as unfamiliar ones. I hope the less familiar ones will find a niche and a place in biblica/biblio-blogdom. Finally, after you’ve read and clicked through links, take note that next month’s carnival will be hosted by Doug Chaplin over at MetaCatholic. Enjoy the carnival and blessings to you and yours! -TMWH

08.01 – At the beginning of the month, big news surrounded some important archaeological finds. A few people including Chris Heard, NT Wrong, Jim West and Michael Halcomb weighed in with their thoughts. The following day, 08.02 proved to be an interesting one as Glenn Penner shared his thoughts on Boycotting the Beijing Olympics. Just as well, Jeff Rudy continued his illuminating series on C. S. Lewis & The Atonement while Ben Byerly offered some thoughts on Why Jesus Turned Water Into Wine.

On 08.03 Suzanne McCarthy ruminated on the relationship between Women and Bible Translation while Alan Knox, typically insightful, challenged believers with another addition to his “Scripture As We Live It” series. 08.04 found Nijay Gupta pondering what it takes to Become A More Well-Rounded Theologian, while at the same time, Scot McKnight issued some thoughts on what it takes to Become a Good Teacher. Not to be forgotten, Zondervan announced its new blog “Koinonia”.

08.05 – Something, perhaps the Holy Spirit (who knows!), got hold of Scott Bailey and led him to start his “The Worst Preacher Ever” contest. A little more on the serious side of things, Celucien Joseph dove headfirst into issues pertaining to African Americans and Racial Reconciliation. Owen Weddle spent the afternoon dwelling on the meaning of the account concerning the “Thief on the Cross” and Julie Clawson made A Case For Junia, The Lost Apostle.

On 08.06, Chris Tilling shocked the world when he announced that someone hired him. Who’d have thought… Michael Bird, whose mind seems to always be in deep thought, talked about 10 Critical Topics in Pauline Research while the great Pauline scholar Ben Witherington took some time to post a playful article about an “Inflatable Church”. JC Baker offered SBL-goers some tips on how to prepare and Eric Sowell (who wishes he were a native Greek!) gave an update about the CSNTM. Aside from Frank Viola’s intriguing post “Stripping in the Church”, I also found Ken Brown’s posts on What It Means to Trust the Bible, Dunelm Road’s thoughts on Scripture and Tradition and Peter Liethart’s Reflections on The Our Father quite fascinating. Tia Lynn had some great thoughts on Women & Headcoverings.

08.07 saw some more fruitful work as Mark Driscoll posted his conversation with Wayne Grudem and Dan Trabue spoke of the importance of Embracing Mindful Living. Locusts & Honey added a comical tint to the day with a Humorous Look at the Boyscouts. 08.08 proved to be a busy day as David Instone-Brewer pointed bloggers to Greek Literature on the Net and Chris Van Allsburg talked about Internet Assaults on the Mind. Jen wrote about the Church’s reluctance towards Inner-City Ministry and Polycarp questioned whether or not Westboro Baptist can even be called a ministry. Ferrell Jenkins offered some Reflections On China, Bill Heroman continued to draw up First Century Calendars, Ben Myers put in his two cents on How Not to Preach the Parables and Mark Altermann focused on Christ & the Nonreligious.

Come 08.09, Greg Boyd was traveling Around the World while Rafael Rodriguez was busy translating Genesis 1. Rob Reid surfaced with some great thoughts on what it takes to be a great teacher and Leen Ritmeyer voiced his concern about models of the Gamla Synagogue. On 08.10, Chris Brady was thinking about what we all were, the relationship between Lamentations and the Tisha b’Av. David Ker shared his disgust with Intenet Porn while Sean the Baptist explored Barth’s Thoughts on Church & Scripture. James McGrath’s blog must have evolved (or devolved?) or something as he took a break from scientific discussion to point out that Christians Can Disagree. Oh, and congratulations to Kevin Wilson on Landing A New Job.

08.11 welcomed a post from aspiring cultural and ecclesial critic Jon Eerdman who shared his thoughts on what it means to be “In The World”. Over at Ricoblog the long-awaited post on A Love for Glagolitic was put up while Esteban Vazquez perused some Russian works covering the topic of Salvation History. With the arrival of 08.12, Hall Harris announced his return to the blogosphere. James Darlack provided the sphere with some Starting Points for Biblical & Theological Research, Tim Ricchuiti was Mezmerized By Fast-Moving Cups (No, he wasn’t being perverted!) and Dan shared some heartfelt thoughts on Tragedy, God & Adoption. Zach thought Focus on the Family Lost Focus, Loren Rosson delineated what constitutes TULIP of the NPP, Daren Wendell continued to talk of how he’s Praising God With His Feet and Michael Barber took A Look At Christian Prophecy.

08.13 was a good day as Airton reviewed “The Messiah Before Jesus” and Freedom Log recounted the Content of the Gospel. Aaron Chambers took note of a new ruling here in the U.S. that concerns the Denial of College Graduation to Students for Reading Creationism Texts (James, stop drooling on your keyboard!) while Phil Harland brought up another issue that is quite pertinent to college-age persons: Sexual Indulgence. On 08.14, Emmanuel was finally brought up to speed on the Gabriel Tablet. Mike excavated the mind of Rowan Williams digging up some pointers on grace. Pat McCullough reflected on Life At Fuller and Stephen Carlson visited the topic of: The Many-Languaged World of Bible Blogs. Melissa interprets Prov. 25.28.

On 08.15, Daniel Kirk offered some thoughts on Reviewing Books & Ideas while Chuck Jones made a few comments on Open Access & Anthropology. In the Spirit of the Olympiad, David Ritsema took a concise look at the History of the Olympics. E. P. Sanders’ name cropped up in Rick Sumner’s Discussion On Righteousness. As the middle of the month approached (08.16), Bryan L. graced the world with some political insight, while, on the other side of the world, Liz Hooks was thinking on Protests, The Present & Mission Work. Jason Von Ehrenhook reminded everyone of The Toruousness of PhD Work and Tyler Williams asked the age-old or wait, maybe it's new age, question: Is Yahweh A Hemaphrodite?

Leading into the latter half of the month, on 08.17, Drew Tatusko wondered how Justifying Adultery works? Michael Spenser provided us with his Interview With Dr. David Powlinson. The following day (08.18), Claude Mariottini announced that a Pagan Temple Had Been Found in Israel. D. Miller sheds some light on Greek Pronunciation, Kevin Edgecomb relays some Random Bible Thoughts and John Hobbins, in lieu with Bryan L., posts some Reflections on the Saddleback Forum.

08.19 had a thoroughly Jewish tint to it as Bob Hyatt was found Continuing the Obamessiah Watch, Ken Schenk was found mulling over Jewish Monotheism and James Crossley was dwelling on Jews and Non-Jews Eating Together. On 08.20, Timothy Ministries took a brief look at Comparative Religion while Peter Kirk and his keep on keeping on mentality, provided some more thoughts on the magical Todd Bentley. Chris Rosebrough imagined what it would be like if Michael Phelps Went Up Against Jesus. Doug Groothius put on some new glasses and took a look at The Moral Life in 3D. Iyov was one among many who took A Look At Genesis.

As 08.21 crept on to the scene, one Greg reviewed another as Greg Dungan shared his conclusions on Greg Boyd’s The Myth of a Christian Nation. Another review was offered by Chris Zeichman as he critiqued Malina & Pilch’s view of Ioudaio. Tommy Wasserman seemed to offer a “Ditto” to Zeichman. As Steven Harris announced that he was returning to blogdom, Josh McManaway, in his bi-annual post, put up some thoughts on Studying Religion in a Public University. Jacob Stein, who has a perfect name for a Jewish Philosopher, turned our attention to a chilling interview where The Link Between Murder & Porn is discussed. At the end of the day, one of the most interesting posts was from Brian McLaren who aired his Vlog (video / blog) Conversation with Dr. Richard Land. Who’d have guessed that would have ever taken place?

08.22 – Something in Phil Sumpter prompted him to explore the Juxtaposition of the Two Testaments while Ben Simpson asked questions of Bill Maher’s “Religious”. Nick Norelli also posed a question: Do Doctorate Holders Like Being Called Dr.? In an indirectly related post, Donn Johnson talked about Eschewing Titles. Dave Black, in his always brilliant fashion, pondered True Church Hierarchy and Jeff challenged the Church with a “Counter-Cultural Verse of the Day”. Roger Mugs exegeted Jn. 15.9-11 and Doug Mangum laid out a brief list of popular Bible blogs.

With the advent of 08.23, Peter Chattaway continued with Reviews of Bill Maher’s Film. Another film review was offered by Brian Fulthorp who had just watched The Great Debaters. Andrew Criddle found the time to talk about The Letters of Clement, Michael Kruse, The Mission of God, Barry Taylor, Church Decline in Wales, Grace, Why We Should Resist Revival. Shaun Tabatt, always privy to what Mark Driscoll is up to, provided a link to an Interview With Driscoll in Sydney. Chris, thinks he has found Biblical Tips for Getting Promotions. Hmmm. On 08.24, Jake Caldwell reflected on Mt. 16.13-28 while Brian Lilly was steeped in 2 Cor. 1.15-24. Roland Boer’s “Spoof On Left Behind” was quite funny whereas Matthew Malcom’s The Nature of Ethics took on a more serious tone. Wyman Richardson linked to an Interview Between Mark Devers & Os Guiness and April DeConick posted some more on her Conversations With Israel Knohl.

08.25 produced a number of insightful posts. Among those was Al Mohler’s discussion on The Plausibility of God, Matt Wardman’s Defense of Cartoonist Dave Walker and John Mark Hicks’s “Thoughts On Brokenness”. John Alan Turner announced his forthcoming book, Danny Zacharias directed us to some Greek Flash Animations and Todd Bolan told us why he likes touring Golan Heights. On 08.26 Hopeful Daniel wasn’t too hopeful about Christians & Voting this coming election. Carlos Stouffer offered some input on Why Christians Shouldn’t Vote Obama. Jim Davila noted that More Testing on the Shroud of Turin is commencing. Eric at Scatterings encouraged us to think about Worshipping in 2nd Person and Hardy broke down Genesis 30.14-15. Meanwhile, Mark Goodacre announces that his site has received 4 Million Visits. Peter Enns finds himself Talking About Inerrancy and Steven McCoy has a few ideas about the Relationship Between Suburbia & The Election. Another Steve, Mr. Pfann that is, takes some time to make clarifications regarding his recent CBN Interview.

On 08.27 John Barach set out to talk about the growing trend of "Video Pastors" while Stephen Webb was contemplating humanity's imperative to Bring Adam's Task to Completion. Byron Smith shares with us what Life in Edinburgh is like. Cynthia Nielsen wraps up her Series on Augustine and at the ReturningKing blog, Kluttz concludes a series titled Divisions of the Law. Come 08.28 Dot Porter asks for Help With the Greek /Latin Treebank at Perseus and Vern Poythress posts a sermon titled "Dealing With Lions". Eric Lee begins his multi-part review of "GloboChrist" (what a title!) while Jim Martin has his mind on Busyness Vs. Peace.

08.29 - Today, John Schoettler wonders if the chains of the future will be The Numerati, Phil Johnson posts some blogosphere humor, Bill Williams reminds us to Read With Fresh Eyes and Tim Challies reviews the book "Prophecy Today". Oh, and 30-years later, David Neff digs up a bunch of books by Howard Snyder and offers some review on them. Meanwhile, John Piper posts a few words about Christians & The Election (no, not "election" as in TULIP, the presidential election) while Molly at Adventures in Mercy, brings her Alaskan perspective to the race, claiming "Sarah Palin Rocks". On 08.30 professor of Christianity & Sociology, Bradley Wright, looks at "naming" from a humorous/sociological perspective while one blogger with a humorous handle, Llama Momma, shares her thoughts on Building Community, Dan shares some thoughts on Ethics & Eschatology and Brad Boydston talks about The Launch of Guam Theological Seminary. While James Gregory analyzes Eph. 4.9, Bob MacDonald looks at the acrostically-written Psalm 145. Finally, to close out the month, on 08.31 A. Delgado takes a look at The Parable of the Landowner, Tim continues Praying for Burma and James Getz talks about ANE & SBL.

I hope some of the above links and content prove useful to you. Thanks for reading this month's carnival and don't forget to check out next month's (see details above). -TMWH