Theological Language Sites Surpass 10,000

Thanks to everyone who has made use of and encouraged me about the theological language sites I've created. This year at SBL, I was amazed by all the comments I received about those sites and very, very grateful for all of the positive feedback. So, keep spreading the word. Remember, there are six sites: Getting Greek, Getting Hebrew, Getting Aramaic, Getting (Theological) German, Getting (Theological) French and Getting Theological Languages, the last of which is a portal for the other five. Again, hats off to all those who've helped us surpass the 10,000 mark, here's to another 10,000!!!

Checking Facebook In The Afterlife?

Within the last year or so, I have noticed a trend that I not only find odd but a bit troubling too: R.I.P. messages on Facebook. Now, don't get me wrong, I understand the loving spirit in which people leave the deceased messages. I mean, I've visited many grave sites in my lifetime and have left flowers on the grave of my loved ones. Yet, never did the thought cross my mind that my loved ones saw the gesture and rejoiced over it; I always knew that it was more for us than them. This was something we did to remember them or to honor their memory. We did not go to the grave site and talk to the headstone thinking that the person could actually hear us. No, we went, put down the flowers as a family memorial and then spent time reminiscing with one another (those physically present) about our deceased loved one.

So, when I see people leaving R.I.P. messages to their loved ones on Facebook, as I said, I am a bit dumbfounded. Why are people doing this? Do they really think that their loved ones are checking their Facebook wall in the afterlife? If so, then why isn't the loved one updating their status, liking comments or leaving replies? What is this gesture all about? Besides this, it is clear that EVERY person believes their family member or friend is in "heaven" reading their Facebook messages because nobody's loved one could ever go to hell, right? I find in all of this a very odd and bothersome theology. From weird ideas about communicating with the deceased to having the latest social media in the netherworld, I am troubled. Even more, I must ask my Christian brothers and sisters a question: What theological or scriptural basis do you have for leaving R.I.P. messages on Facebook?

Even temporarily putting aside the question of whether or not people go to some spiritual place such as heaven or hell as soon as they die, I must also ask: Have you let technology and media shape your theology more than scripture and the traditions of the church? Over the course of the last few years, several friends have died. Unfailingly, when this happens, their Facebook pages remain up and people begin posting on their wall, as if the one who has passed can actually read what is being said. The same has happened with celebrity deaths and their Facebook or Twitter accounts. All of this has made me pause and ask, What in the world is going on? Are Christians on a slippery slope to unfounded beliefs, which are being ingrained in them by the media and technology of their day? If so, what must we do about it? I hope to think through and write more about this in the near future but for now, I am curious as to what others think? You can go ahead and leave a message on Pisteuomen or my Facebook account because as of now, I'm still alive and can read your messages, heck, I can even respond to them, so, let's talk.

Keywords: Facebook in heaven? Facebook in hell?


Heading To SBL (Society of Biblical Literature)

This year looks like it will be a good conference.  I'm excited for the large student group from  Asbury that's headed down and the many from our  institution who are presenting, presiding or  paneling. If you see me around and you know me, be sure to say hello. If you see me around and don't know me, feel free to introduce yourself. Hope everyone's conferencing goes well. Safe travels to the A-T-L.


Asbury Loses A Beloved Professor: Dr. Robert A. Traina

One of Wesleyanism's most beloved and formative exegetes, a mover and shaker in the field of biblical studies, methodism and among the community of Asbury Theological Seminary, Robert A. Traina passed away this week. While Traina was known among many for his influential teachings / works on Methodical Bible Study, it is probably fair to say that his reach extended far beyond those who ever met him. Indeed, Traina's IBS (Inductive Bible Study) methodology has influenced generations of great scholars and has infiltrated the core of many seminary curricula.

Many of my current professors such as David Bauer, Joe Dongell, Fred Long and Lawson Stone have sat at the feet of Traina and all of them have influenced me greatly. The maxim that we all stand upon the shoulders of others is certainly true! Lawson Stone tells a great story about his time at Yale University studying with Brevard Childs. He says that Childs always kept a copy of Traina's work handy and that in fact, it may be the case that Childs is responsible for wearing out every copy of Traina's work that Yale owned! Again, this man's influence is far greater than we may ever know.

So, here at Asbury we celebrate the life of an influential man, part of whose intellectual and spiritual legacy we all belong to. And while I only got to meet Traina once, which was last year, I do want his loved ones to know how much he is appreciated by the Asbury community. Below is Traina's obituary, which is followed by a short write-up from Asbury Seminary:

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TRAINA Dr. Robert A, 89, widower of Jane Odell Traina, died Tue, Nov 9, 2010 at his residence in Wilmore, KY. Born in Chicago, IL he was the son of the late Angelo and Argia Giovanonni Traina. He was a professor of biblical studies at Asbury Theological Seminary and member of the New York Conference of The United Methodist Church. He received the following degrees: AA from Spring Arbor University; BA from Seattle Pacific University; STB and STM from Biblical Seminary; and PhD from Drew University. Survivors include a son, Bob E. (Glenna) Traina; two daughters, Jan (Len) Wofford, Judy (Marty) Seitz; seven grandchildren; five great grandchildren; three sisters, Norma Mayhle, Rose Anderson and Vi (Dave) Corey; and two brothers, Don Traina and Ed (LaVerne) Traina. A graveside service will be held 10:30am Sat at Blue Grass Memorial Gardens by Dr. David Bauer. Burial will follow for family only. Visitation will be 6-9pm Fri at Kerr Brothers Funeral Home, Harrodsburg Rd. A celebration of life will be held at 3:30pm Sat at Estes Chapel at Asbury Theological Seminary.

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Dr. Robert Traina, Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies and for nearly ten years Dean of the Seminary and Vice President for Academic Administration, died Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010, surrounded by family. Services are presently being planned; a memorial service is tentatively scheduled for late Saturday afternoon in Estes Chapel.

Dr. Traina became a faculty member in 1966 and went on to become Dean of Faculty from 1967 until 1975 when he returned to the classroom. He retired in 1988.

In the recently published book, The Story of Asbury Theological Seminary, Dr. David Bauer says, “As academic dean of the largest institution of theological education in Wesleyanism, Dr. Traina did more than any other one person to shape the educational philosophy and curricular goals during what were perhaps Asbury’s most formative years."

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For other posts on Traina, see HERE and HERE.


FREE Greek New Testament From SBL

With the annual meeting of the SBL fast approaching (it starts next weekend!), the Society has decided to give away its hot-off-the-press Greek New Testament for FREE. Conveniently dubbed the SBLGNT, here are a couple of snapshots of the .xml and .txt versions:

(click to zoom-in on images)

You can download the SBLGNT and its apparatus as .txt, .xml, .osis, .sword and logos 4 files HERE.


Witherington Films Jesus Special With The BBC

This news just out from ATS, my doctoral supervisor Ben Witherington has just filmed a special that will air in April. Here's the dl:

Dr. Ben Witherington, Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies has just returned from Jerusalem where he was filming a Jesus special for the BBC called The Jesus Quest, to be aired next April. His book The Christology of Jesus was named one of the top five books on the historical Jesus in the most recent issue of Christianity Today.