The Biblioblog Reference Library

[«] Posts by the Author "jps"(#197)

March 19 2018, 7AM

The term θέμις [themis] (“custom/law/legislation”), which was important in pagan Greek law and was mythically personified as Themis, daughter of Uranus and Gē/Gaia and mother (with Zeus as the father) of the Hours, of Dike, Eunomia, and Eiren... [Books] [Greek] [Translation Theory]

March 16, 7AM

Over the course of the literary and theological history of the Old Testament, the term ,תורה [tôrâ] which originally stood for the teaching or instruction given by a priest, a prophet, or a parent, increasingly took on the meaning of “law” (νό... [augustine] [Books] [Idle Musings] [jerome] [LXX] [theology] [Translation Theory] [Vulgate]

March 15, 7AM

Today we start The Development of God in the Old Testament. It's not totally new, being published in 2017, but it's new in the sense that I've finally finished Standing in the Breach. Here's the first excerpt: [T]hree characteristic elements of the biblic... [Books] [Idle Musings] [New Books] [theology]

March 14, 6AM

Intercessory prayer is not an option for the believer; rather it is an essential mark of Christ’s followers.—Standing in the Breach, page 529 <idle musing>That's the final excerpt from this (long, but good) book. And an appropriate ending, t... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

March 13, 7AM

An essential characteristic of the Old Testament intercessory prayer is that the mediator stands in a good relationship with God. Even though the intercessors include themselves at times in their pleas for divine pardon that does not mean that they share ... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

March 8, 9AM

God’s wrath is not a divine attribute, but an aspect of God’s love. Like divine jealousy, so God’s wrath is a consequence of His love. As the revealed name of Yhwh shows, grace and mercy are fundamental divine attributes, while wrath is an inevitabl... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

March 6, 11AM

The intercessor is called to enter into the dialogue within God Himself. The advocate appeals to God’s larger purposes or divine reputation that would be endangered by fierce judgment. Also, if the intercessor can pray back to God a divine promise or ap... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

March 1, 9AM

It is true that, according to the Old and New Testament, God acts both in wrath and judgment and in mercy and forgiveness. There is a duality in God’s dealings with humanity. We have seen, however, that divine wrath and judgment are always circumstantia... [Books] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

February 27, 8AM

I would like to draw attention to another important dimension of the prophetic intercessory ministry that comes to expression through the metaphor of the “breached wall,” namely, the notion that the intercessor can only protect temporarily the breache... [Books] [Intercession] [Major Prophets] [Minor Prophets] [Prayer] [repentance] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

February 26, 8AM

In obedience to his calling, the intercessor embodies a costly solidarity with the people who are often hostile to him. Thus, there is good reason to argue that at the root of biblical substitution is the act of pleading for divine favor on behalf of a gu... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

February 23, 8AM

Confronting the sinful party with their sins and reminding them of their covenant obligations often results in strong criticism and personal persecution. Under circumstances such as these, the prophet is vulnerable to personal vindictive emotions. Standin... [Books] [Intercession] [Major Prophets] [Prayer] [Prophecy] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

February 19, 8AM

The phenomenon of “holy mutability” is often found in the context of a prophetic intercessory prayer that seeks the reversal of God’s will to punish. In other words, the concept of נחם [nḥm] does not connote unreliability but communicates Yhwh... [Books] [Intercession] [Major Prophets] [Minor Prophets] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

February 16, 8AM

The main responsibility of the prophets is commonly understood to be that of proclaiming the word of God (cf. Deut 5:23–27, 18:15–18). Acting as Yhwh’s mouthpiece, however, is only one side of the prophet’s role. The prophetic ministry is by its v... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Prophecy] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

February 15, 8AM

When is it permissible to disobey and “faithfully oppose” Yhwh’s command to refrain from prayer and to persist in knocking on heaven’s door, and when does the prophet need to desist from prayer? The issue of discernment in intercessory prayers for... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

February 10, 9AM

There's an interview with Fleming Rutledge over at Jesus Creed that is worth reading, if only for this paragraph: I believe that the church is worthy of the best hymn texts and the best hymn tunes, and if we don’t treasure them, we become impoverished. ... [hymns] [Idle Musings] [theology]

February 9, 8AM

Though divine grace and patience are immense and will eventually overrule God’s wrath, the revelation of the divine name makes it clear that God’s nature cannot simply be summarized as gracious and loving. God is also just and holy. If necessary, God ... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Prophecy] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

February 6, 7AM

Yhwh reveals Himself as a God of grace and mercy who is firmly committed to His covenant relationship with Israel. This understanding reaches a further climax in Moses’ final petition for the pardon of Israel’s sin (Exod 34:9); it is climactic because... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [repentance] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

February 5, 7AM

Lohfink probes some of the theological implications of God teaching Moses, and through Moses every believer in the Mosaic tradition, how to pray in providing the divine name as a prayer foundation. It means, Lohfink suggests, that we cannot truly pray our... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

February 3, 9AM

It is theologically important to note that God Himself appoints mediators to intercede for the party that has breached the covenant relationship. In other words, God Himself makes the arrangement to ensure that the covenant relationship will be protected ... [Books] [Intercession] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]
Tomorrow (Sunday) is Bonhoeffer's birthday. In anticipation, Englewood Review of Books has posted a few excerpts from his collected works. Here's the first one, but the other ones are well-worth the reading, as well. What is the meaning of weakness in t... [Bonhoeffer] [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology]

February 1, 8AM

[E]ven in the New Testament, there appears to be a sin that is beyond prayer for forgiveness. The challenge for the intercessor is to exercise spiritual discernment like Amos, to know when and how long one is to persist in intercession for a particular pe... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Minor Prophets] [Prayer] [repentance] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

January 31, 9AM

Over at Mission Alliance, they have a good article on why #metoo doesn't go far enough. Read the whole thing, but the takeaway is in the final paragraph: he Church has often been accused of holding a sexual ethic that ultimately represses or diminishes ou... [Idle Musings] [theology]


A church in which only grace is being preached not only reminds us of the temple cult in Amos’s day (cf. Amos 5:21–23) but is a place where sins are easily covered. It is a place where people do not repent of their wrongdoing and certainly do not wish... [Bonhoeffer] [Books] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

January 26, 9AM

Like Amos, Jesus also showed a tremendous solidarity with the poor and exploited, and showed an acute awareness of social injustice and religious hypocrisy (cf. Matthew 23; Luke 4:18–21, 10:25–37). Moreover, Jesus’ conflict with the temple authoriti... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Minor Prophets] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

January 25, 6AM

In solitude, perhaps like in Abraham’s case, Yhwh not only reveals His intentions but also invites prophetic participation in leading Amos into the realization that Israel has sinned themselves beyond the reach of prophetic intercession. From Amos’s t... [Intercession] [judgment] [Minor Prophets] [Prayer] [repentance] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

January 24, 6AM

Usually when God changes His mind, it is a gracious response, either to an intercessory prayer or because people turn back (šûb) to Him in repentance (cf. Jer 18:8–10). Thus, we conclude with Jeremias that the change of Yhwh’s mind is intrinsically ... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [repentance] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

January 15, 7AM

The God of the Bible is slow to anger and allows His prophet to affect a postponement of the intended punishment. It is important to note though that Yhwh does not explicitly forgive Israel’s guilt for which Amos has seemingly prayed. In other words, Is... [Books] [Intercession] [Minor Prophets] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]
I've been a bit busy the last month or so. We bought a house in December and moved—to Red Wing. I also have started working for Penn State Press after they bought Eisenbrauns and the learning curve has taken a good bit of my time. In addition, I took on... [Copyediting] [Eisenbrauns] [Idle Musings]

January 5, 8AM

In both the book of Joel and Amos, prophet and priest meet each other in the face of Yhwh’s imminent judgment. Interestingly, when we juxtapose the two accounts, the encounters between prophet and priest look very different. In the book of Joel, we get ... [Books] [Intercession] [Minor Prophets] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

January 3, 7AM

Amos directs his judgment messages often against a self-indulgent individualism of the upper class of his time. Thereby, Amos and other prophets basically do what Moses did. That is, they seek to enable Israel in their time and context to live faithfully ... [Books] [Holiness] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

January 2, 8AM

Amos’s messages are possibly among the darkest of all the prophets. Message after message underlines Israel’s sinfulness and Yhwh’s judgment. But what exactly is the matter? After all, the Israelites of Amos’s time are showing a great religious ze... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Minor Prophets] [Standing in the Breach]

December 29, 8AM

[O]ur earlier finding [was] that intercessory prayer goes not only hand in hand with the prophetic office, but also happens often in the Bible when the prophet is invited into the divine presence. Amos articulates it in the well-known verse: Surely the L... [Books] [Intercession] [Minor Prophets] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

December 28, 10AM

[W]hen the Word became flesh and lived among the people, the Son reflects the glorious name of the Father. Jesus too is full of “grace and truth” (John 1:14–16). Behind the Greek terms χάρις and ἀλήθεια are the divine attributes of “... [Books] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

December 27, 8AM

In the Old Testament, the outpouring of the Spirit of God is limited (with few exceptions) to the leaders and particularly to the prophets. It is through these Spirit-anointed leaders that Yhwh often speaks, directs, and intervenes on behalf of the people... [Books] [Holy Spirit] [Idle Musings] [Minor Prophets] [Prophecy] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

December 26, 8AM

Although human repentance is an essential aspect in the process of reconciliation, the book of Joel makes it clear that the process is initiated by God. The prophet underlines though that human repentance does not guarantee divine forgiveness. Yhwh cannot... [Books] [Intercession] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

December 17, 11AM

The Edict of Darius declares concerning any who may hinder the reconstruction: “that a beam (ʾāʿ) will be ripped out of his house and, once reerected, he will be hanged on it.” This curse acquires its full rhetorical significance only if one reads ... [aramaic] [Just for Fun] [Language]

December 15, 8AM

What is of great interest to us is that the priests in the book of Joel act under instruction of the prophet. Even the priests do not know how to pray. Joel has to teach them how to intercede under these challenging circumstances. In the Old Testament, it... [Books] [Intercession] [Minor Prophets] [Prayer] [Prophecy] [Standing in the Breach]

December 13, 8AM

Joel reminds us that any sacrifice that hopes to be effective has to be accompanied by repentance and a turning back to God. Even then, forgiveness depends ultimately on the grace of God (“who knows whether,” Joel 2:12–14). In other words, although ... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

December 11, 7AM

How do we evaluate these two broad lines of interpretations of God’s prohibition on intercessory prayer? Let us first note that until now the biblical witness has made it evident that God expects His prophets to intercede on behalf of the sinful people.... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

December 8, 8AM

The second line of interpretation acknowledges that prophetic intercession is highly effective in God’s outworking of His plans. Precisely because of its power on swaying the divine mind, Yhwh has to prohibit His prophet to intercede in order to execute... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

December 7, 7AM

Although we have seen again and again that there is indeed a fundamental link between the sins of the party that is being prayed for and the effectiveness of intercessory prayer, in our treatment of the texts the question arose as to why Yhwh needed to pr... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

December 6, 8AM

While I do not want to belittle the importance of this fundamental tension within God and the divine pathos or pain resulting from it, my concern is to see divine wrath in its proper biblical relation to the divine attributes of grace, mercy, covenant loy... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

December 5, 8AM

The book of Jeremiah is heavy on suffering and on warnings of a forthcoming judgment. However, when one looks at the message of the book as a whole, it is evident that the fundamental aim of the book of Jeremiah is to establish a theology of hope. To be s... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Major Prophets] [Minor Prophets] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

December 4, 8AM

God’s holy anger is directed to and absorbed in Jesus. So one could say that just as the blood of the godless had been the joy and victory of the righteous psalmist under the old covenant (Ps 58:10 [MT 11]), so the Christ, who bled and died for sinners,... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

November 30, 7AM

Jesus’ cry of dereliction on the cross was not a one-off quotation from a psalm of lament. Both Jeremiah and Jesus were remembered as servants of God who “offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save... [Books] [Intercession] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

November 29, 8AM

It is one thing to understand Jeremiah’s prayers for divine justice by their own logic and terms; it is quite another challenge to test their relevance in a new covenant Christian setting. Praying against one’s enemies is not the way Jesus taught his ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

November 28, 8AM

So, if Jeremiah’s imprecatory prayers appear at first sight like vicious selfish prayers, they often reflect the prophet’s concern for divine justice and his covenant duty to report to Yhwh about the state of the godless (Jer 12:1–3, 15:15). To stop... [Books] [Intercession] [Major Prophets] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

November 27, 7AM

On many important ancient Near Eastern treaties, law codes, or covenants one finds appended an extensive set of curses. These curses function as a kind of “divine safeguard” against breaking the agreement. The general understanding of the ancient Near... [ANE religion] [Books] [Standing in the Breach]

November 17, 5AM

The genuine prophetic mediator embodies not only the divine word but, to some degree, the divine pathos as well.— Standing in the Breach, page 394 [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Prophecy] [Standing in the Breach]

November 13, 8AM

As the dialogue with God progresses, Jeremiah gives more and more expression to the tension of the mediator. On the one hand, he loves the people and intercedes for them, but on the other hand, the prophet sees their many blatant sins and thus he is weary... [Books] [Intercession] [Major Prophets] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

November 10, 9AM

But it is also important to note that on the full biblical revelation, our prayers for justice are not our prayers alone. The Scriptures indicate that Jesus intercedes on our behalf (John 17) and “ever lives to make intercession for us” (Heb 7:25). Th... [Books] [Intercession] [Minor Prophets] [Prayer] [theology]
Jer 15:1 establishes a kind of biblical hierarchy as to who were the most influential mediators in the Old Testament. Moses and Samuel are Israel’s two great prophetic intercessors of the past. They have reached a proverbial status in the mindset of the... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

November 9, 10PM

Lots of people want to be prophets, screaming doom and gloom, and calling down the end of the world on everybody and everything. Is that really what a prophet does, though? We've been extracting sections from Michael Widmer's Standing in the Breach for a ... [Books] [False Prophets] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Prophecy] [theology]


Yes! Accordance has released a beta version of Accordance for Android! To install it, I downloaded it via the link, copied it into Dropbox, and then accessed it on my phone to install it. Log in to your account, and do the Easy Install. Seems to run fine ... [accordance] [android] [Greek] [Hebrew]


[I]t [Jer 15:10] is important because it uses one of the main “technical” terms to describe the role of the prophetic intercessor. The prophet was traditionally a mediator between Yhwh and the people (Deut 18:15–22). The prophets were responsible to... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]
Faith means being faithful to God rather than relying upon a specific timeline. Temptation seduces believers when they begin to rely on God’s schedule for security and hope rather than in God himself. This is a kind of disordered love, which will lead t... [Books] [eschatology] [Minor Prophets] [theology]

November 8, 8AM

Following the logic of the text, Yhwh does not reveal the dramatic tension of His inner life primarily for the benefit of the readers, though with the canonization of these oracles this obviously became a central purpose of the text. God’s tears also in... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

November 7, 8AM

"Actually, Israel conceived even Jahweh himself as having human form. But the way of putting it which we use runs in precisely the wrong di- rection according to Old Testament ideas, for, according to the ideas of Jahwism, it cannot be said that Israel re... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

November 6, 7AM

The book of Jeremiah contains a long divine oracle that helps one to discern between false and true prophets further (cf. Jer 23:9–40). A mark of false prophets is that they tolerate or promote other gods besides Yhwh, or even prophecy in their names (c... [Books] [False Prophets] [Standing in the Breach]
In many ways, prayer is a difficult practice to understand. I say “practice” rather than “topic” precisely because prayer is not to be discussed in an abstract sense, but enacted through regular discipline of communion with God. Prayer is that pra... [Books] [Prayer] [theology]

November 4, 7AM

Faith means being faithful to God rather than relying upon a specific timeline. Temptation seduces believers when they begin to rely on God’s schedule for security and hope rather than in God himself. This is a kind of disordered love, which will lead t... [Books] [Minor Prophets] [theology]

November 3, 8AM

According to Jeremiah 14, however, not even the synergetic effort of all the cultic means that Israel has at its disposal is to gain a favorable hearing from Yhwh (Jer 14:11–12). Ever since Jeremiah’s temple sermon, it is clear that Israel had the ten... [Books] [Intercession] [Major Prophets] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

November 2, 11PM

I just received a new book in the mail yesterday and was asked to review it. I hope you find the review helpful. Simonetta Carr, Irenaeus of Lyon (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2017) is a nicely illustrated and well-written biography of an im... [Books] [Church History] [Idle Musings] [Reviews] [theology] [theosis]


Twice already Jeremiah has been prohibited to intercede. Nevertheless, God keeps on signaling to Jeremiah that He is emotionally attached and committed to His house and beloved (cf. Jer 12:7, 15). Thus, the prophet continues to probe the grace and mercy o... [Books] [Intercession] [Major Prophets] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach]

November 1, 7AM

Like the psalms of lament, Jeremiah’s prayers are intense and uncompromising in their voicing of complaints against God and his fellow Israelites. In many ways, they are models for unrestrained honesty that is characteristic of genuine prayer. In fact, ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Major Prophets] [Minor Prophets] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

October 31, 5AM

Chapters 11–20 witness to the highly demanding role of the prophet. A series of accounts reveal Jeremiah’s tormented life of prayer in vivid detail. These chapters are also known as Jeremiah’s lamentations or confessions (cf. Jer 11:18–12:6, 15:10... [Books] [Intercession] [Major Prophets] [Prayer] [Prophecy] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

October 30, 6AM

On the one hand, it looks very much as if under the current circumstances prayers will have no effect on God. Even Jeremiah’s intercession will be of no avail. On the other hand, the question remains as to why Yhwh needs to reinforce His prohibition on ... [Books] [Intercession] [lord's prayer] [Major Prophets] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

October 29, 2PM

I'm working on a first-year Hebrew grammar right now and ran across this little gem in the chapter on geminates: note the second person masculine plural form תִּסַּבּוּ the dot in the ת is a dagesh lene, the dot in the ס is the assimilated nun... [Copyediting] [grammar] [Hebrew] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun]

October 27, 7AM

Jeremiah acknowledges in prayer the necessity of divine discipline but he also pleads for leniency. Calvin draws attention to a general truth by pointing to the necessity of the people’s repentance as well: “the real character and nature of repentance... [Books] [Calvin] [Intercession] [Prayer] [repentance] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

October 26, 5AM

Jeremiah’s intercessory prayer comes at the end of a polemic juxtaposition between the gods and idols of the nations and the incomparability of God (Jer 10:1–16). The gods are portrayed as powerless and mere humanmade images. The fact that such an ela... [Books] [Major Prophets] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

October 25, 7AM

[P]rayer, even the intercession of a godly person, is intrinsically linked to the moral and spiritual standing of the third party that stands under immediate judgment. According to Jeremiah 7, people who “masquerade” as God’s pious people, who have ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

October 24, 7AM

The Hebrew conjunction weʾattâ (“as for you”) marks a sudden shift of addressee away from the “temple audience” that is under judgment to the prophet himself (cf. Jer 7:16–20). Jeremiah is instructed with a threefold negative command not to pr... [Books] [Intercession] [Major Prophets] [Prayer] [Prophecy] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

October 23, 6AM

[I]ntercession, alongside speaking on behalf of the Lord are the primary responsibilities of the prophet. Jeremiah knew well that intercession is one of the marks of an authentic prophet and that refraining from intercession is thought to be a mark of a f... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Major Prophets] [Minor Prophets] [Prayer] [Prophecy] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

October 20, 5AM

Jeremiah’s intimate prayer dialogues were not canonized merely in order to preserve the prophet’s personal prayer life. If Jeremiah’s prayers were ever (auto)biographical, they are no longer only about him. In the canonical process they have become ... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]
23 The Lord’s word came to me: 24 Human one, say to her, You are an unclean land without rain on the day of reckoning. 25 The conspiracy of princes[c] in her is like a roaring lion ripping up prey. They’ve piled up wealth and precious goods and made m... [False Prophets] [Prophecy] [scripture] [Thought for the day]

October 19, 6AM

Announcing the forthcoming destruction of temple and city and criticizing the religious leaders, one does not make oneself popular (Jer 7:1–15). By declaring that the society is unacceptable to God, Jeremiah was not accepted by Israel. The prophet soon ... [Books] [Major Prophets] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

October 18, 5AM

The prophet [Jeremiah] was commissioned “to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” Correspondingly, we shall see that Jeremiah’s intercessory activities express both God’s grace and mercy, and also Yhwh’s wrath. As Yhwh’s prophet, who ... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach]

October 17, 6AM

Intercessory prayer in itself may not have atoning value (cf. Jer 15:1), if, however, the prayer is a reflection of God’s will and intention, it may. Thus, effective intercession is at its heart a prayer that seeks to be one with the will of God (cf. Is... [Atonement] [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

October 16, 6AM

From a canonical perspective, both Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 provide important hermeneutical keys for the church to understand the suffering, death, and vindication of Jesus Christ. While both Psalm 22 and Isaiah provide categories of the righteous suffering... [Atonement] [Books] [Intercession] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]
Scot McKnight has a good posting on the use of the word Evangelical. Here's the concluding paragraph, but you really should read the whole thing. The one thing I despise about Christianity in the USA is its aligning with a political party. Mainliners have... [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [theology]

October 13, 6AM

Isaiah 53 does not only testify to the prophet’s suffering, but it also provides the reason as to why God restores the covenant relationship with Israel. The righteous one, somehow vicariously takes on himself the sins of Israel (Isa 53:6), intercedes f... [Atonement] [Books] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

October 12, 6AM

Intercession according to Isaiah 53, is nothing less than the surrender of one’s own right to life in favor of God’s will. The servant accepts a ministry of nothing but contempt and misunderstanding, even to the point of dying the death of one branded... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

October 11, 6AM

[V]erbal intercessory prayer and intercession in the sense of vicarious suffering and death are not exclusive categories but rather they are intrinsically connected in the ministry of the servant.We should remember that one fundamental Old Testament conce... [Atonement] [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

October 10, 6AM

In sum, Israel’s pardon, reconciliation with their covenant God, and restoration to the land are always dependent on a fundamental “turning” back to covenant obedience and Yhwh’s compassion evoked by the intercessory prayer of the mediator. The pu... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [repentance] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

October 9, 6AM

As we shall learn from Jeremiah, even the greatest intercessors cannot achieve divine forgiveness, if the party being prayed for remains in their sinful ways. As there is nobody who does not sin, Solomon anticipates in his prayer a future when the people ... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [repentance] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

October 6, 7AM

[I]t is important to note that Solomon’s prayer is never, as Fretheim notes: simply for God to forgive sins, but are also for God to act in other ways to reverse the effects that their sins have had on various aspects of their lives. Salvation, therefor... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [repentance] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

October 5, 6AM

We've been gone for the last ten days, visiting family, hence the hiatus. We're back and so are the daily excerpts from Standing in the Breach. A consistent theme of Solomon’s prayer, and indeed of many Old Testament intercessory prayers, is however tha... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [repentance] [Standing in the Breach]

September 22, 7AM

Just ran across a marvelous essay on living in a small town in (southern) Minnesota. Yet I know that all that scarcity—or the perception of it—is what drives cultural life here. Rather than paucity, I see abundance of life and fullness of experience.... [Grand Marais] [Idle Musings]


Intercessory prayer, however, rarely eradicates sin. Sin usually remains suspended over the sinners until divine judgment has been fulfilled (cf. Num 14:19–25, Jer 7:16) or until an act of atonement has been made (cf. Num 15:22–29). The same understan... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

September 21, 7AM

Schenker catches the narrative development insightfully when he observes that from 2 Sam 24:3 onward, especially from v. 14 to v. 17, the account testifies to the transformation of the ruler. David’s conception of power does a 180-degree turn. At the ou... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Prophecy] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

September 20, 6AM

A brief comparison with 1 Samuel 15 is quite illuminating. Besides the reoccurrence of the expression of God’s change of mind concerning the punishment (נחם [nḥm]; cf. 1 Sam 15:29, 2 Sam 24:16), in both accounts we find reference to the sin of a ki... [Books] [Intercession] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

September 19, 6AM

The notion of the wrath of God is not a pleasant one. Indeed the modern consciousness resists it mightily. Jonathan Edward’s sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is cited often, but only for negative and antiquarian reasons, that is, an exa... [Books] [cheap grace] [theology]

September 18, 11AM

Carta has a new online program coming soon. It looks great; they are going to premier it in Boston at AAR/SBL in November. You can get a preview here: [AAR/SBL] [Carta]


The traditional position, both in philosophy and in linguistics – and indeed the everyday view – is that (1) there is a stable and unambiguous notion of literality, and (2) that there is a sharp distinction to be made between literal language, on the ... [Books] [Language] [Linguistics]


Like so often in the psalms, David entrusts himself to Yhwh’s mercy (cf. Ps 51:1 [MT 51:3]). Divine mercy is one of the fundamental attributes that Yhwh has revealed to Moses in the aftermath of Israel’s archetypal sin, the golden calf (רחם [rḥm]... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Psalms] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

September 15, 6AM

The prophets speak on behalf of God to the people, while the kings are called to rule and judge wisely on behalf of the divine King. The prophets are called to stand in the breach on behalf of the sinful people, whereas the kings have the responsibility o... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Prophecy] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

September 14, 7AM

From The Christian WeekI have recently had the opportunity to visit two of the most popular churches in my city. They both had something in common when it came to worship. First, both had very good worship bands that were obviously very talented. The ligh... [church] [Idle Musings] [theology] [Worship]


In the Old Testament, justice always describes a relationship between two entities. When applied to God, the terms for justice can be used with reference to the relationship between God and the world, between God and society, or between God and individual... [Books] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

September 13, 7AM

The outcome of Samuel’s prayer (1 Sam 15:11) is already foreshadowed in the prophet’s warning that was voiced in the context of his commitment to pray for both people and king: “But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and you... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

September 12, 6AM

This pattern of informing the prophetic mediator is categorically spelled out in Amos 3:7: “Surely the Lord God does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.” Particularly in the case of Moses’ advocacy, I have argued that... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

September 11, 6AM

In the context of Moses’ prayer, as recorded in Deuteronomy 9–10, there is good reason to argue that the efficacy of the intercessor’s prayer is dependent on the reception of the prophets’ instructions (cf. Deut 10:12–22). In other words, the re... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

September 7, 6AM

The fact that Yhwh kept on calling and commissioning prophets over the centuries reveals that God is fundamentally committed to His people in love and righteousness.—Standing in the Breach, page 204 [Books] [Intercession] [Major Prophets] [Minor Prophets] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

September 6, 7AM

[First Samuel 12] Verse 23 strongly suggests that intercession “is an inextricable part of the prophetic role.” It seems as if Samuel is not at liberty to refuse Israel’s request for advocacy before Yhwh. We shall see in our reading of Isaiah’s, J... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

September 4, 6AM

Psalm 99 illustrates well God’s fundamental challenge. That is, how to be both a loving God and an “avenger of their wrongdoings” (Ps 99:8). According to Psalm 99, Yhwh’s kingship and holiness are ultimately defined by divine willingness to bear I... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

September 2, 1PM

The old King James translation “helpmeet” does not mean a help mate but rather a helper who is “meet,” that is, suitable for the task. Woman is not man’s maid, nor merely his assistant, but a “suitable companion,” corresponding to him. She i... [Books] [Genesis] [theology]

September 1, 7AM

Chapter 7 [of 1 Samuel] portrays a people who come to their senses in the face of opposition. With the help of Samuel, the covenant mediator, Israel is readily willing to remove all their idols from their midst and put their trust anew in their covenant G... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

August 31, 7AM

In the first book of Samuel, the sea-people represent in some sense Israel’s fear. Thus, one of the central issues of chap. 7, as in so many other passages of the Old Testament, is the issue of trust. In whom does Israel put their trust? The foreign god... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

August 29, 7AM

Samuel’s intercessory prayer is emphasized by the comment that he cried out to Yhwh on behalf of Israel. This time, it is not the people who cry out in the face of danger (cf. 1 Sam 12:10, Ps 107), but their mediator. Here we find employed the most fund... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

August 28, 7AM

After Samuel disappeared from the biblical text for more than two chapters, he finally reappears in the narrative without introduction (1 Sam 7:3). Back on the scene, Samuel demands three things of Israel: (1) that they remove all foreign gods and turn ra... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

August 25, 6AM

[First Samuel] Chapter 15, among other things, illustrates what Samuel meant when he declared that he, as a prophet, considers it as sin (חטא [ḥt']) against the Lord not to intercede for those entrusted to him (1 Sam 12:23). In characteristic fashion... [Books] [False Prophets] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Prophecy] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

August 24, 6AM

We have seen that Moses’ intercessory activity enabled Israel to make a new start. But ultimately, it is the people’s choice that will determine their future (the same dynamic is found in Numbers 13–14, where after a temporary pardon, it is up to th... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

August 23, 6AM

The narrative states several times that God was going to destroy Israel (cf. Deut 9:8, 14, 19, 20). It was only through Moses’ sacrificial and persistent prayer that YHWH showed mercy, changed His annihilative intensions, and renewed the covenant with t... [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

August 22, 8AM

Just ran across a (longish) post that attempts to explain why 81% of self-identifying evangelicals voted for, and largely continue to support, the current POTUS. Donald Trump is what we evangelicals already are, or at least are becoming. It explains why h... [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer]


The twofold prophetic role anticipates Jesus’ life and ministry. As one who is part of the divine council, he speaks with divine authority (Matt 5:21–22; John 5:19–30, 12:49–50, 17:8). As for Jesus’ intercessory prayer, as one who was tested in ... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

August 21, 7AM

Moses speaks to the people as one who has intimate knowledge of Yhwh’s nature and purposes. Not only does his prophetic utterance presuppose intimate knowledge of the divine, but Moses’ intercessory prayer also testifies to a deep understanding of Yhw... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach]

August 18, 6AM

Often the prophet’s prime or sole responsibility is mistakenly perceived as receiving and communicating God’s words (judgment or salvation), but the biblical picture of the prophetic office is clearly twofold. It entails both the communication of God... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Prophecy] [Standing in the Breach]

August 17, 6AM

This is me, at book exhibits (ARC = Advance Reading Copies) You've got to go there to see the whole thing... [Books] [Just for Fun]
Restoring a breached wall by doing righteous community work is a longterm process. When the hour of destruction is advancing, it is the prophets’ duty to stand temporarily in the breach in prayer, before the gradual process of restoring the divine-human... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology] [wesley]

August 16, 6AM

[E]ven after their most grievous offense was pardoned, they continued to be rebellious (cf. Deut 9:22–24). The continuous intercessory activity of Moses indicates, however, that his prayer, though powerful and effective, provides only a temporary soluti... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

August 15, 6AM

The fact that YHWH responds favorably to Moses’ threefold appeal reveals not only that mercy depends on YHWH’s character and His promises but also that God allows Himself to be persuaded by His faithful servant to let love triumph over justice. This i... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

August 14, 7AM

In spite of the fact that Israel has been obstinate and rebellious from the moment of birth (Isa 48:4; cf. Deut 9:7, 24), YHWH is determined to glorify Himself by delivering Israel from exile and thereby show once again that He is God of gods (cf. Isa 52:... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

August 13, 8PM

In John 1:3–4, that is. Is there a stop at the end of verse 3? Or does it come at the end of the phrase, with the relative pronoun and participle going with verse 4? Here's the Greek:3 πάντα δι᾿ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶ... [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Textual Criticism]

August 11, 6AM

The covenant relationship, by its very nature, makes certain demands on both sides of the party (Deut 26–30), by which life and blessing can be gained or lost depending on the human response. Childs helpfully comments: “Election was not a privilege to... [Books] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

August 10, 7AM

YHWH’s legal claim to the ownership of Israel is based on His act of sovereign redemption. The verb פדה carries the sense of ransoming an enslaved party. Hence, on one level an acquisition of slaves has taken place, and on another level, Israel does ... [Books] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

August 9, 8PM

I just saw this at Evangelical Text Criticism. A New Approach to Textual Criticism: An Introduction to the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method Tommy Wasserman, Peter J. GurryMust get! By the way, go to the Evangelical Text Criticism blog and vote fo...


This act of humble self-abasement does not only come as a sharp contrast to Israel’s rebellious attitude, but also raises the question of why Moses would do this. After all, he has just condemned Israel’s behavior by shattering the covenant tablets? T... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]
עון [`wn] indicates both guilt and punishment (that is, it includes the offense and the consequence thereof), and these are not separated in Hebrew thinking.—Standing in the Breach, page 139n291 [grammar] [Hebrew] [Standing in the Breach]

August 8, 7AM

Calvin sees in the divine demand to be left alone Moses’ sharpest and sorest trial of faith. The reformer compares it with God’s command to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac (Gen 22). First, the patriarch is told that in and through Isaac God will raise a pe... [Books] [Calvin] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

August 7, 8PM

The wrath of God under which the idolatrous, sinfully perverted man stands is simply the divine love, which has become a force opposed to him who has turned against God. The wrath of God is the love of God, in the form in which the man who has turned away... [Brunner] [theology]


Jacob [Exodus, 931] affirms the idea that let me alone actually means do not let me alone and is paradoxically a summons to persuade YHWH not to destroy Israel. Jacob develops the idea of an implicit invitation to intercede by remarking that YHWH could ha... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

August 6, 9AM

"Yahweh is again reminded [in Ps 86] that he is a good and forgiving (sallaḥ) God. The grammatical construction of the qaṭṭal verbal adjective, a form occurring only in this passage, underscores 'that here a divine attribute is bing described, not m... [Hebrew] [theology]

August 3, 6AM

YHWH’s request to be left alone implies the possibility of not leaving Him alone and thereby restraining God in the outworking of the judgment. In other words, God’s demand implies nothing less than that Moses has to make Israel available for punishme... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

August 2, 6AM

I would like to suggest that Deuteronomy 5–11 provide an intrinsic definition of Israel’s ְצָדָקה [ṣādāqah]. It is characterized by wholehearted love and trust in God and a devotion to keep the commandments (cf. Deut 10:12–20; 11:1, 22; 1... [Books] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

August 1, 8AM

Just ran across this today, about the "death" of the book. The final paragraph sums it up (although I encourage you to read it all): All the handwringing that the book is dead is really directed to the “books that are really not books,” the kind of th... [Books] [e-books] [Idle Musings]


God’s good original intention and purposes with Israel have been endangered by sin and God’s wrath. Divine change of mind has to be understood against this background. As we have just noted, not only does His tendency toward grace and mercy belong to ... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

July 31, 6AM

To begin, it is clear that the Old Testament shows no signs of embarrassment in depicting God in human ways. Acknowledging the metaphoric value of anthropomorphic language, it is exactly this anthropomorphic language that helps us to perceive God in a tru... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Image of God] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

July 29, 8AM

Recently Doug Petrovich attempted to rock the world by saying the Hebrews invented the alphabet (you can get the book here). His claim has been met with skepticism, to say the least. Many claim that those who are skeptical are doing so because he is using... [alphabet] [Books] [Hebrew] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics]

July 28, 8AM

It is clear that God’s pronouncement of His name (Exod 34:6–7) forms a beautifully balanced statement on the goodness of YHWH who is committed to His people but who nonetheless demands moral integrity. Flowing from the loving divine commitment to the ... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

July 27, 6AM

I suggest that the divine resolution is one not of fierce sovereignty, belittling Moses’ prayer, but rather a sophisticated and complex statement, which implicitly affirms pardon and covenant loyalty without failing to execute divine justice. I think th... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

July 26, 6AM

The scout narrative is rightly called the second main focus of theological reflection on the nexus of sin, judgment, prayer, and divine verdict in the canonical sequence of the Pentateuch. Moreover, the relation between the golden calf account and the sco... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

July 25, 6AM

In gratitude and worship for the affirmative recharacterization of the divine name, Moses prostrates himself and launches his climactic prayer. In this petition, Moses resumes most of the major themes of his previous prayers and boldly advances them in th... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

July 21, 6AM

Anger is an act, a situation, not an essential attribute. This distinction is implied in the words which are of fundamental importance for the understanding of all biblical words: “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious.”—Abraham Joshua... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

July 20, 5AM

The revelation of YHWH’s name came as an affirmation to Moses (and through him to Israel) that YHWH is primarily and fundamentally for Israel. This is not to say that divine pardon can easily be presumed, for v. 7b comes as a stern warning that God’s ... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

July 19, 6AM

It looks very much as though YHWH in the aftermath of the golden calf incident deliberately reformulates His previous pronouncement. Most striking is the reversal of the order of His attributes. In Exod 34:6, YHWH commences with a fundamental statement ab... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

July 18, 6AM

Reading Moses’ intercessory prayers, one gains a sense that the more Moses engages in prayer the deeper he is led into the divine mystery. There is a clear sense that God’s revelation is intrinsically connected to Moses’ response. Moses self-involve... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

July 17, 6AM

Moses’ third prayer has understandably been described as the climactic prayer because, arguably, it is in this intense dialogue that the fundamental breakthrough happens. At the outset of the chapter, everything hangs in the balance: Although Moses is t... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach]

July 14, 6AM

On the next day, Moses returned out of his own initiative to the mountain to advocate for the people before YHWH. So far, Moses has climbed the Mount of God several times to speak with God. Every time, Moses followed God’s summons to come up (cf. Exod 1... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach]

July 13, 6AM

I follow a long interpretative tradition, which suggests that YHWH implicitly invites (by prohibition), possibly even tests, His mediator to challenge His justified yet circumstantial wrath. This line of interpretation has been substantiated by a number o... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

July 12, 6AM

It is perhaps the acute seriousness of Israel’s sin and the extensive dialogue between YHWH and Moses that make Exodus 32–34 the most detailed and intense treatment of intercessory prayer in the entire Old Testament. Moses is said to have interceded f... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

July 11, 7AM

Theology in its purest form is revealed by God Himself. It is certainly important to note that the deepest insight into the nature of God is given in the context of a prolonged prayer dialogue between Moses and YHWH.—Standing in the Breach, page 83 [Books] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

July 10, 6AM

This just showed up in my e-mail inbox: The Positive Power of Walking Showcased at National Summit. And it's in St. Paul! Many things leap to mind when someone mentions walking: fitness, fun, fresh air, relaxation, friends and maybe your most comfortabl... [Grand Marais] [Idle Musings] [walking]
The idea of liberation is sometimes summarized in the popular slogan “Let My people go.” The full demand Moses brings before Pharaoh in the name of YHWH is “Let My people go that they may serve Me” (cf. Exod 7:16, 26, 8:16).—Standing in the ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

July 7, 7AM

If one upholds the authority of Scripture, one cannot simply reject passages that speak of YHWH’s wars. It may be uncomfortable to modern ears, but one of the main metaphors for God in the Old Testament is that of a divine warrior. After the Exodus, YHW... [ANE religion] [Books] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

July 6, 7AM

Exod 17:11–13 illustrates that, while Moses’ prayer decides the outcome, Joshua’s leading of the charge in the valley is also necessary for victory. The text makes it absolutely clear, where the power to win comes from. Still, the message of this ac... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

July 5, 6AM

[T]he Massah and Meriba account finishes with the open-ended question הֲיֵ֧שׁ יְהוָ֛ה בְּקִרְבֵּ֖נוּ אִם־אָֽיִן and implicit judgment: “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Exod 17:7). Thus, when it says in the next verse th... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

July 3, 7AM

Testing has to do with “putting God to the proof,” that is, seeking a way in which God can be coerced to act or show himself. . . . Israel’s testing of God consisted in this: if we are to believe that God is really present, then... [Books] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

June 30, 6AM

I believe that this text [Exodus 17; Israel vs. Amalek] offers a biblical corrective to what often looks from the outside as though the “Joshuas” of this world (that is, politicians, pastors, missionaries, and so on) do all the work. This account reve... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

June 29, 6AM

[W]e also read in Gen 19:29 that God remembered Abraham when He destroyed the cities of the plain and sent Lot out of their midst. Lot’s wife, however, disobeyed and was turned into a pillar of salt (Gen 19:26). In other words, although God saved Lot fo... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [Prophecy] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

June 28, 7AM

Preserving even a tiny number of innocent humans is more important to God’s eyes than bringing deserved judgment on the guilty. Thus, this account underlines the biblical teaching that God’s will to save clearly dominates over His will to punish. This... [Books] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

June 27, 6AM

Abraham mediates between God and the pagan cities thereby foreshadowing also Israel’s priestly function among the nations (cf. Exod 19:6). According to Genesis 18, Abraham blesses Sodom by interceding for the city. Even though Sodom and Gomorrah had sin... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

June 26, 7AM

From Abraham’s dialogue with God we learn not only that prayer has its origin in the movement of God toward humans but also that the divine response to prayers should lead to a fuller and deeper understanding of God and His ways with the world. With reg... [Books] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

June 23, 7AM

God is teaching Abraham about His attributes, about grace and righteousness. We have noted in our exegesis that God is seeking to impart His grace and justice to Israel’s first intercessor, something that YHWH does in an even clearer way to Moses (cf. E... [Books] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach]

June 22, 8AM

Charles Halton has a delightful read on the first known poet over at LitHub. Here's a snippet to whet your appetite: Have you met a professor of Mesopotamian studies? There are only a couple dozen or so of us scattered around the world, but we are very st... [ANE History] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun]


Does Abraham, by stopping at 10, implicitly admit that YHWH’s judgment is justified? Perhaps Abraham is now assured that God would act justly indeed and that he could leave the fate of the few righteous in God’s care. This does, however, not necessari... [Books] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

June 21, 7AM

Given Abraham’s humility, it is amazing that his courage seems to grow during his conversation with God. God, in His grace, seems to encourage Abraham in his prayer by allowing him to stretch the capacity of divine grace and righteousness (cf. Exod 33:1... [Books] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

June 20, 7AM

It is important to note that it is Abraham and not God who decides to conclude the discussion at 10. “Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak just once more.” Abraham seems aware that he might be stretching the limit of God’s grace. He is cautiou... [Books] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

June 19, 7AM

Interestingly, Abraham prays that God would “forgive” (NRSV), or perhaps the Hebrew (נסא) [ns’] should be rendered with “bear” with the wicked, for the sake of the innocent, and not for the removal of the innocent few from the sphere of judgm... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

June 16, 6AM

It seems to me more significant that God is considering granting Abraham the privilege of access and participation in the divine committee that is to characterize YHWH’s prophets. Indeed, it is notable that two chapters later, in the context of Abraham... [Books] [Prayer] [Prophecy] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

June 15, 6AM

There are notable intertextual links between the dynamics of Abraham’s dialogue with God (Genesis 18) and of Moses’ intercessory role, especially as portrayed in Psalm 103. In both passages, we find reference to God’s concern for (righteousness and)... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

June 14, 9PM

Interesting tidbit I picked up today from Smyth: 966. The verb may agree with the nearest or most important of two or more subjects. The verb may be placed a. Before both subjects: ““ἧκε μὲν ὁ Θερσαγόρα_ς καὶ ὁ Ἐξήκεσ... [Greek] [Language]


We find not only the biblical roots of prophetic intercessory prayer in Abraham but also the beginnings of what came to characterize the Judeo-Christian understanding and experience of the divine-human relationship. It is a dynamic that the community of f... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

June 13, 10AM

Did you know this? The LSJ in the entry “γαστήρ” remarks that ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχειν indicates pregnancy, whereas ἐν γαστρὶ λαμβάνειν refers to conception. [Greek] [Just for Fun]


The early Christian emphasis on, and teaching about, everyday behavior as central to Christian commitment is yet another distinctive feature that has had a profound subsequent impact. In the ancient Roman period and down through human history, what we cal... [ANE religion] [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [ethics] [Idle Musings] [roman empire] [theology]

June 12, 6AM

When considered as a religion in that time, the most obvious oddity was Christianity’s “atheism”—that is, the refusal to worship the traditional gods. Yes, of course, as we have observed, Christians shared this exclusivist stance with Judaism.... [Books] [Church History] [Destroyer of the gods] [Idle Musings] [idolatry] [roman empire]
I think this is an appropriate passage from Isaiah for our current status: The earth dries up and wilts; the world withers and wilts; the heavens wither away with the earth. 5 The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants, for they have disobe... [Thought for the day]

June 9, 6AM

Sophisticated pagans such as Celsus and Marcus Aurelius apparently regarded Christianity as not simply unbelievable but, it appears, utterly incompatible with religion as they knew it. For them, Christianity was, we may say, “a clear and present danger... [Books] [Church History] [Destroyer of the gods] [Idle Musings] [roman empire] [sexuality] [theology]

June 8, 6AM

Granted, the early Christian household-code texts give general directions to the various categories of believers addressed, and their actual day-to-day situations likely would often have required adaptation, careful negotiation of relationships, and perha... [Books] [Church History] [Destroyer of the gods] [roman empire] [sexuality]

June 7, 6AM

The notion that any treatment of slaves could be unjust suffering was a rather unusual one in the Roman period.— Destroyer of the gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World, page 179 [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [roman empire]

June 6, 7AM

[T]he early Christian texts reflect a rather strong effort to promote widely in circles of believers a collective commitment to the strict behavior that these texts advocate. That commitment was laid upon adherents immediately upon their baptism, whatever... [Books] [Church History] [Destroyer of the gods] [roman empire] [theology]

June 5, 7AM

These distinctive terms that were developed to express condemnation of child sexual abuse appear also in text of other early Christian writers such as Justin, Tatian, Theophilus, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen, all from the second and third centuries A... [Books] [Church History] [Destroyer of the gods] [sexuality] [theology]

June 3, 7AM

I emphasize again that, more typically in the Roman era, sex with prostitutes and courtesans, and with young boys as well, was not only tolerated but even affirmed as a hedge against adultery—specifically, sex with another man’s wife or with a fre... [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [Idle Musings] [roman empire] [sexuality]

June 1, 6AM

The bottom line in the passage [1 Cor 6] is that the diverse sexual activities covered in Paul’s use of porneia, though they may have been approved in the wider culture and even among some Corinthian believers, are to be completely off-limits for them.&... [Books] [Church History] [Destroyer of the gods] [Idle Musings] [revival] [roman empire] [theology]

May 31, 7AM

Wives were generally held to one standard of behavior, strict marital chastity, and husbands to quite another one. Men, husbands included, were allowed considerably more freedom to have sex with other women, particularly women deemed not to possess status... [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [roman empire]

May 30, 7AM

It is interesting to note that in pagan Greek texts, the term porneia simply designates prostitution, the sale of women’s bodies for sex. But as a recent study of the usage of the term shows, in Jewish and then Christian text, porneia designated “a wi... [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [roman empire] [theology]

May 29, 7AM

Recall that what we mean by “religion” in the Roman period typically focused on ritual actions and responsibilities involving sacrifice, altars, and observances of appropriate days of the month or year. Roman-era religion did not typically have much t... [ANE religion] [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [roman empire]

May 24, 7AM

Petition is said to be the essence of prayer. While prayers of lament could be described as the most heartfelt and honest prayers. Prayers of praise are the most elevated of prayers. It could be argued though that contemplative and intercessory prayers re... [Books] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

May 22, 6AM

The theme of intercession runs through the entire Old Testament, from Abraham, via Moses and some of the kings, to the prophets. It is particularly the latter that were called to pray on behalf of the people. It will become evident in our reading of the O... [Books] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

May 19, 6AM

Every intercessor since Abraham and Moses appeals to the fundamental divine attributes of grace, mercy, and love. Christian intercessory prayer, however, is always mediated prayer. It is mediated through Jesus Christ’s mediatorship. “For there is one ... [Books] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

May 18, 6AM

[B]iblical intercessory prayer is almost always closely associated with God’s name as revealed to Moses. We shall see again and again in our exegesis that intercessory prayer engages with the tension between the divine attributes of love and justice. Or... [Books] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

May 17, 6AM

Of course it has long been noted that Moses is presented as Israel’s archetypal prophet (Deut 34:10). However, it has been less noted that there is an intrinsic relatedness between his prophetic role and his fruitful intercessory ministry. The prophetic... [Books] [Prayer] [Standing in the Breach] [theology]

May 15, 10AM

Especially in the first three centuries, therefore, when Christianity was regarded widely as a strange and dubious new religion, Christians had to avoid drawing the ire and accusations of non-Christians, while also advocating and living out their own beli... [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [Idle Musings] [roman empire]

May 13, 8AM

"Of course, the general domestic context can only be used to support such assertions [that figurines were used by females or for 'female' concerns, like eroticism, procreation, and lactation] if one concludes that men did not live in Israelite houses, tha... [ANE religion] [Archaeology] [Books] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun] [theology]

May 11, 6AM

Justin is representative of the revulsion at the practice of infant abandonment that is expressed in early Christian writings. As one recent scholar has observed, “With abortion and abandonment, we come to a distinct parting of the ways between Christia... [ANE religion] [Books] [Church History] [Destroyer of the gods] [roman empire] [theology]

May 10, 5AM

Note that in this period, there was no public postal system, and so Christians had to invest their own personal and financial resources in disseminating their texts. Their readiness to do so is both impressive and without parallel among religious groups o... [Books] [canon] [Destroyer of the gods]

May 9, 8AM

When we were at the local library last Wednesday, I saw this book in the new arrivals: A Well of Wonder: Vol. 1: Essays on C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the InklingsClyde Kilby, edited by Loren Wilkinson and Keith Call [Books] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun] [theology]


[I]t is equally important to note that, unlike the books of the Old Testament prophets, Revelation does not present itself as the secondary written deposit of a set of oracles that were originally declared orally. Instead, in this case, from the first, th... [Books] [canon] [Church History] [Destroyer of the gods] [Revelation]

May 8, 9AM

Just read this (slightly older) article at the Scholarly Kitchen, which sums up only too well the current status of editors: Among the more thankless tasks in god’s creation is that of the editor. Authors of scholarly materials rarely acknowledge their ... [Books] [Copyediting]


The number and substance of the writings produced is all the more remarkable when we remember that all through this early period Christians were still relatively few in number and small as a percentage of the total Roman-era population. In fact, to my kno... [ANE religion] [Books] [Church History] [Destroyer of the gods] [roman empire]

May 5, 7AM

[A]long with the scriptures inherited from the Jewish tradition, the “Old Testament,” early Christian writings as well were read, and read a lot, both in the setting of corporate worship and in private settings by individuals. In this, and especially ... [ANE religion] [Books] [Church History] [Destroyer of the gods] [roman empire]

May 4, 6PM

Although defense against aggressors is an easily understood casus belli today, the idea of protection against chaos is more difficult for us to grasp. Contrary to the belief of many today that each person should allow others to possess their own personal ... [ANE History] [ANE religion] [theology]


To underscore an earlier observation, this corporate reading of texts in early churches, and in synagogues, also makes less crucial the widely agreed view that in the Roman era only a minority, perhaps a small minority, of people were sufficiently literat... [Books] [Church History] [Destroyer of the gods] [scripture]

May 3, 6AM

[I]t is striking that both the author of 2 Peter and those whom he regards as “ignorant and unstable”(v. 16) seem to share a high regard for Paul’s letters. That is, the author and those other Christians whom he denigrates here disagreed over how to... [Books] [canon] [Church History] [Destroyer of the gods]

May 2, 6AM

So, the practice of reading sacred texts as a regular part of communal worship was shared by synagogues and he early churches, and in this they were distinctive in the Roman world of religious practice. To be sure, some other Roman-era religious groups as... [ANE religion] [Books] [Church History] [Destroyer of the gods] [roman empire]

May 1, 6AM

One type of evidence, often overlooked, that certain texts were read out in Christian worship gatherings is comprised by the various features of some early Christian manuscripts, features that seem intended to facilitate reading them. These features, whic... [Books] [Church History] [Destroyer of the gods]

April 30, 8AM

The New Yorker has a piece on the Odyssey, but not what you'd expect. It's the story (real) of a father and son, with the son being a Classics professor and his father sitting in on the class. After the semester, they take a cruise together and visit the ... [classics] [Idle Musings]

April 29, 8AM

Well lookie here! Grand Marais won the award for the "Best Midwestern Small Town." I didn't even know we were in the running! The harbor village of Grand Marais, Minn., has charmed its way to the title of “Best Midwestern Small Town,” as chosen by US... [Grand Marais] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun]

April 28, 6AM

[E]arly Christian religious identity was distinctive in replacing all others for its devotees. It was an exclusive religious identity, defined entirely by their standing in relation to the one God, and was not dependent on, or even connected to, their eth... [ANE religion] [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [roman empire]

April 27, 6AM

[In the Septuagint] ekklēsia often renders the Hebrew word, qahal, in references to the people of Israel as “the assembly of the Lord.” In other cases, there are references simply to “the assembly/congregation” where it seems that the word design... [Books] [church] [Destroyer of the gods] [theology]

April 26, 6AM

[T]he consistent line taken in the various texts that make up the New Testament and that came to be affirmed with growing force as representative of emergent “proto-orthodox” Christianity was a rather exclusive one: believers were to abstain from the ... [ANE religion] [Books] [Church History] [Destroyer of the gods] [roman empire] [theology]

April 25, 6AM

To be sure, participation in Isis worship, for example, comprised a noteworthy exercise in voluntary religiousness. So, to reiterate the point, in that feature it was partially analogous to the sort of voluntary religiousness involved in becoming a partic... [ANE religion] [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [Idle Musings] [roman empire] [theology]

April 24, 6AM

But it is also very important to emphasize that the cults of the emperor were not in competition with, nor did they displace, the traditional gods and their worship in the various lands of the empire. Throughout the Roman period, even in the eastern areas... [ANE religion] [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [roman empire]

April 20, 6AM

[W]e should not write off emperor cults as simply political and not genuinely religious. To do so would be to impose distinctions that simply were not appropriate for that ancient setting. For a least some of those who took part in emperor cults, there pr... [ANE religion] [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [Idle Musings] [roman empire] [theology]

April 19, 6AM

So, the difference between early Christianity and the larger religious environment went beyond simply preferring one particular deity among the others, and beyond an exclusivist worship practice. There were also different notions about what the term “go... [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [Idle Musings] [theology]

April 18, 7AM

The notion that there is one true and transcendent God, and that this God loves the world/humanity, may have become subsequently so much a familiar notion, whether or not it is actively affirmed, that we cannot easily realize how utterly strange, even rid... [ANE religion] [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [gospel] [roman empire] [theology]

April 17, 6AM

In philosophical traditions, an ultimate and radically transcendent deity was often postulated, but you did not typically engage that transcendent deity directly. For example, you did not usually sacrifice to this deity or implore it directly. Instead, th... [ANE religion] [Church History] [Destroyer of the gods] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [roman empire] [theology]

April 14, 6AM

In a recent survey of religions of the Roman world, however, the authors opine that early Christian exhortations to religious exclusivity likely reflect many or even most Christians of the time taking a more relaxed attitude toward sacrifices to the pagan... [ANE religion] [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [roman empire] [theology]

April 13, 7AM

I found out yesterday that one of the most formative mentors in my life as a thinking Christian had died—Dennis Kinlaw. He was 94. While I was at Asbury College, he was the president there; he "retired" for the first time in the fall of 1982 and tau... [Idle Musings] [theology]


I repeat again that converted pagans had no precedent or established justification for withdrawing from the worship of the gods of their families, cities, and peoples. Furthermore, when we add in the sort of rhetoric that is reflected in texts such as Pau... [ANE religion] [Books] [Church History] [Destroyer of the gods] [roman empire] [theology]

April 12, 5AM

[P]articipation in the reverencing of household gods (the Lares dometici) was expected of all members of the Roman household. It was considered an important expression of solidarity with the others of the household in securing its continuing safety and we... [ANE religion] [Books] [Church History] [Destroyer of the gods] [roman empire] [theology]

April 11, 5AM

Having adopted the new stance demanded by their conversion to Christian faith, they were to withdraw particularly from making sacrificial offerings to the gods of their household, their city, and the empire, and now were to practice the exclusivity in mat... [Books] [Church History] [Destroyer of the gods] [Idle Musings] [idolatry] [roman empire] [theology]

April 10, 6AM

The difference and distinguishing feature of the early Christian stance agains “idolatry” is this: In the eyes of ancient pagans, the Jews’ refusal to worship any deity but their own, though often deemed bizarre and objectionable, was basically rega... [ANE religion] [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [idolatry] [roman empire] [theology]

April 7, 6AM

As noted, our word “idol” comes from the Greek term eidōlon, a term that in ordinary Greek usage could connote something that is a mere phantom. Obviously, this was not a term used to refer to the gods by those who worshipped them!— Destroyer o... [ANE religion] [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [roman empire] [theology]

April 6, 6AM

Christians were expected to avoid taking part in the worship of any deity other than the one God of biblical tradition. I discuss the inclusion of Jesus as effectively corecipient of early Christian reverence later in this chapter. Given the ubiquitous pl... [ANE religion] [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [Idle Musings] [roman empire] [theology]

April 5, 6AM

It is also important to underscore the point that all deities were deemed worthy of reverence. To deny a deity worship, and that typically meant sacrificed, was effectively, to deny the god’s reality. Individual pagans of that time did not feel it oblig... [ANE religion] [Books] [Church History] [Destroyer of the gods] [roman empire] [theology]

April 4, 6AM

In addition to such “high” deities, there were also lesser and other divine beings that, nevertheless, figured regularly in religious practices. In Rome, for example, these included beings called Lares that functioned as guardians over various setting... [ANE religion] [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [Idle Musings] [idolatry] [theology]

March 31, 7AM

To turn now to a brief survey of the religious character of the early Roman Empire as context in which to view early Christianity, the first thing to note is the sheer plurality of divine beings to which people directed various kinds of reverence. It was ... [ANE religion] [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [Idle Musings] [roman empire] [theology]

March 30, 6AM

[P]agans demanded specifically that Christians should worship the traditional gods. Recall that pagans such as Celsus were willing to tolerate Christians and their other various objectionable features, if only they would worship the traditional gods. But ... [ANE religion] [Books] [Church History] [Destroyer of the gods] [Idle Musings] [theology]

March 29, 6AM

Likewise, ritual practices of at least some forms of “traditional religions” of various peoples seem as much or more to do with keeping potential spirit-dangers at bay and avoiding offending them, rather than “worship” and adoration of, and a posi... [ANE religion] [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [Idle Musings] [theology]

March 28, 7AM

Among the particular features that distinguished Christianity from traditional “pagan” religious practice and from the many other new religious movements of the time was the firm insistence that there is only one “true and living God,” and the dem... [Books] [Church History] [Destroyer of the gods] [theology]

March 27, 6AM

Indeed, in light of the social and, increasingly, the political consequences of being a Christian in these early centuries, one might well wonder that the movement grew and why people became Christians. But, obviously, those who did so under those circums... [Books] [Church History] [Destroyer of the gods] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [theology]
Instead of serious discipleship we have virtual fan clubs revolving around the mega-church leader. Seldom is worship an encounter with the awesome God; it has become an occasion for cheap thrills and continuous festivity dubiously called ‘praise and wor... [Books] [theology]

March 26, 12 PM

If you are a theologian, you will pray truly. And if you pray truly, you are a theologian.—Evagrius the Solitary (of Pontus) [Prayer] [theology] [Thought for the day]

March 24, 6AM

Indeed, despite all the alleged stupidities of Christians, Celsus expressed a willingness to tolerate them, if only they would honor the gods and follow the polytheistic customs that everyone else, excepting, of course, Jews, affirmed. By their refusal to... [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [theology]

March 23, 6AM

[W]hatever the particular offences that prompted the actions against various foreign cults in Rome, none of them constituted a threat to the worship of the traditional deities, New cults were typically seen as additions to the cafeteria of deities and rel... [ANE religion] [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [Idle Musings] [theology]

March 22, 7AM

Those Christians who withdrew from worshipping the gods obviously ceased sacrificing to them and ceased frequenting their temples, and that had economic consequences for various people. In addition to gifts made to the temples, for example, as thanks for ... [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [gospel]

March 21, 6AM

Furthermore, it is interesting to note Pliny’s claims that there were numerous Christians in Pontus at that point in various towns and villages, and that the growth of Christianity was having a markedly negative effect on the institutions devoted to the... [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [Idle Musings] [theology]

March 20, 6AM

Pliny clearly thought that being a Christian was in itself sufficient grounds for his punitive actions, even execution, although the obstinacy of some Christians in the face of Pliny’s demands and threats gave him further justification.— Destroyer... [Books] [Destroyer of the gods] [Idle Musings] [roman empire]

March 17, 6AM

The term used both by Tacitus and by Seutonius to characterize Christianity, “superstition” (Latin: superstitio), connoted then religious beliefs and rituals they deemed excessive, repellent, or even monstrous. The basic point to underscore here, howe... [ANE religion] [Books] [Destroyer of the gods]

March 16, 6AM

In the social rough and tumble of religious rivalries of the first two or three centuries, these “proto-orthodox” or “catholic” Christians seem to have won out, and well before Constantine and the subsequent influence of the state in matters of re... [Books] [Church History] [Destroyer of the gods] [Idle Musings] [theology]

March 15, 6AM

But neutrality, with its deep skepticism, and the marketplace of ideas, with its collective search for truth, make strange bedfellows. What progress toward truth can there be if it is impossible to pronounce on the truth? The [Supreme] Court’s response ... [Books] [humanism] [Idle Musings] [sermon on the mount] [theology]

March 14, 6AM

An Econ [totally rational human being] will read and understand the fine print of a contract before signing it, but Humans usually do not. An unscrupulous firm that designs contracts that customers will routinely sign without reading has considerable lega... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Thinking: Fast & Slow]

March 13, 6AM

[John] Milton and [John Stuart] Mill both illustrate the humanist assumption that greater freedom of debate promotes discovery of truth. But the humanist defense of toleration consisted of more than just this assumption. The humanists were unwilling to pr... [Books] [education] [humanism] [Idle Musings]
In a nation of Econs [people who only are rational], government should keep out of the way, allowing the Econs to act as they choose, so long as they do not harm others. If a motorcycle rider chooses to ride without a helmet, a libertarian will support hi... [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology] [Thinking: Fast & Slow]

March 10, 8AM

He [Acontius ca. 1520–1566] describes how to conduct a conversation with those in error. His advice to the speaker includes the following: the speakers’ tone and words should be conducive calm debate; speakers must adapt themselves to what the person,... [Books] [humanism] [Idle Musings] [Image of God] [theology]


The assumption that agents are rational provides the intellectual foundation for the libertarian approach to public policy: do not interfere with the individual’s right to choose, unless the choices harm others. Libertarian policies are further bolstere... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Thinking: Fast & Slow]

March 9, 8AM

[Erasmus, answering Luther on free will] If everything is the result of necessity, Erasmus asks, “what could be more useless than to publish this paradox to the world?” If God rewards and punishes us for actions beyond our control, for which He alone ... [Books] [Erasmus] [humanism] [Luther] [theology]
Any aspect of life to which attention is directed will loom large in a global evaluation. This is the essence of the focusing illusion, which can be described in a single sentence Nothing in life is as important as you think it is when you are thinking ab... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Thinking: Fast & Slow]

March 8, 1PM

Yesterday afternoon, the waves were crashing over the breakwater in breathtaking beauty. Wind speed? Only about 40 MPH with gusts up to 65 MPH!Today is calmer; windspeed? About 18 MPH with gusts to 56 MPH : ) [Just for Fun]


[H]eresy manifests itself in the iniquitous deeds of those leaders of the Church who, while preaching the philosophy of Christ, teach nothing by their example but avarice, eagerness for pleasures, passion for war—all things “which are an abomination t... [Books] [gospel] [Holiness] [humanism] [Idle Musings] [theology]


Beyond the satiation level of income [his 2011 research showed that to be $75,000], you can buy more pleasurable experiences, but you will lose some of your ability to enjoy the less expensive ones.— Thinking, Fast and Slow, page 397 <idle musing... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [theology] [Thinking: Fast & Slow]

March 7, 8AM

For Erasmus, however, heresy requires more than fundamental doctrinal error. He defines heresy as not simply error, “but the obstinate malice which for the sake of any advantage is disturbing the tranquility of the Church by perverted doctrine.” Thus ... [Books] [humanism] [Idle Musings] [theology]
Many unfortunate human situations unfold in the top right cell. This is where people who face very bad options take desperate gambles, accepting a high probability of making things worse in exchange for a small hope of avoiding a large loss. Risk taking o... [Books] [Thinking: Fast & Slow]

March 6, 9AM

For Erasmus, the philosophy of Christ is found “not in ceremonies alone and syllogistic propositions but in the heart itself and in the whole life.” “In this kind of philosophy,” he writes, “life means more than debate, … transformation is a m... [Books] [gospel] [Holiness] [humanism] [theology]
Animals, including people, fight harder to prevent losses than to achieve gains. In the world of territorial animals, this principle explains the success of defenders. A biologist observed that “when a territory holder is challenged by a rival, the owne... [Books] [Thinking: Fast & Slow]

March 3, 8AM

Yet if speech is linked to godliness, why do so many churchmen advocate the use of force, its opposite, to bring men to God? Erasmus acknowledges the contradiction inherent in the use of violence to achieve religious ends. Christ, Erasmus states, never re... [Books] [humanism] [pacifism] [theology]
Most of us view the world as more benign that it really is, our own attributes as more favorable than they truly are, and the goals we adopt as more achievable than they are likely to be. We also tend to exaggerate our ability to forecast the future, whic... [Books] [Thinking: Fast & Slow]

March 2, 8AM

Cicero writes that “every one must acknowledge that of all the resources of an orator far the greatest is his ability to inflame the minds of his hearers and to turn them in whatever direction the case demands. If the orator lacks that ability, he lacks... [Books] [humanism] [Idle Musings] [Rhetoric]
When forecasting the outcomes of risky projects, executives too easily fall victim to the planning fallacy. In its grip, they make decisions based on delusional optimism rather than on a rational weighting of gains, losses, and probabilities. They overest... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Thinking: Fast & Slow]

March 1, 7AM

Under a regime of tolerations dissenters depend on the approval of, or at least the voluntary inaction of, superior authority. By contrast, liberty is not granted by, but held independently of any granting agency. The humanists did not call for religious ... [Books] [humanism]
Professional controversies bring out the worst in academics. Scientific journals occasionally publish exchanges, often beginning with someone’s critique of another’s research, followed by a reply and a rejoinder. I have always thought that these excha... [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology] [Thinking: Fast & Slow]

February 28, 8AM

[H]umanists counseled toleration of heretics, temporarily, so that the heretics might be persuaded of the truth or so that the bloodshed that would ensue from trying to suppress them might be avoided. Here, toleration does not connote acceptance. Consiste... [Books] [humanism] [Tolerance]
You surely understand in principle that worthless information should not be treated differently from a complete lack of information, but WYSIATI [what you see is all there is] makes it very difficult to apply that principle. Unless you decide immediately ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Thinking: Fast & Slow]

February 27, 8AM

I read an older book recently, recommended via the Classics e-list and obtained via Interlibrary Loan (love that service!—your tax dollars at work!): Humanism and the Rhetoric of Toleration. It's not what you think (unless you've studied the Middle ... [Books] [humanism] [Idle Musings] [theology]
In today’s world, terrorists are the most significant practitioners of the art of inducing availability cascades. With a few horrible exceptions such as 9/11, the number of casualties from terror attacks is very small relative to other causes of death. ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Thinking: Fast & Slow]

February 26, 9AM

It is God’s elusiveness, His freedom, and gracious character, which make prayer meaningful.—Standing in the Breach, page 91 [Books] [Prayer] [theology]

February 24, 8AM

• Strokes cause almost twice as many deaths as all accidents combined, but 80% of respondents judged accidental death to be more likely. • Tornadoes were seen as more frequent killers than asthma, although the latter cause 20 times more deaths. • D... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Thinking: Fast & Slow]

February 23, 7AM

A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact. But it was psychologists who discovered that you ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Thinking: Fast & Slow]

February 22, 7AM

The nervous system consumes more glucose than most other parts of the body, and effortful mental activity appears to be especially expensive in the currency of glucose. When you are actively involved in difficult cognitive reasoning or engaged in a task t... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Thinking: Fast & Slow]

February 21, 8AM

The often-used phrase “pay attention” is apt: you dispose of a limited budget of attention that you can allocate to activities, and if you try to go beyond that budget, you will fail. It is the mark of effortful activities that they interfere with eac... [Books] [Thinking: Fast & Slow]

February 20, 8AM

We are prone to overestimate how much we understand about the world and to underestimate the role of chance in events. Overconfidence is fed by the illusory certainty of hindsight.— Thinking, Fast and Slow, page 14 [Books] [Thinking: Fast & Slow]

February 17, 7AM

Valid intuitions develop when experts have learned to recognize familiar elements in a new situation and to act in a manner that is appropriate to it. Good intuitive judgments come to mind with the same immediacy as “doggie!”— Thinking, Fast and... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Thinking: Fast & Slow]

February 16, 8AM

People tend to assess the relative importance of issues by the ease with which they are retrieved from memory—and this is largely determined by the extent of coverage in the media. Frequently mentioned topics populate the mind even as others slip aw... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Thinking: Fast & Slow]

February 15, 7AM

In the book of Isaiah, corporate Israel is often compared to a statue. In some cases, she is a damaged image that must be smelted and recast (Isa 1:25; 48:4–10). At other points, her sensory organs malfunction (Isa 6:9–10)—she is described as having... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Image of God] [Major Prophets] [theology]

February 14, 9AM

For a somewhat different look at the last three weeks, read this Here's the final paragraph, which alone is a good reminder. But you really should read the whole thing. It's a reminder not to drink the Kool-Aid™: Trump poses a challenge to decades of tr... [Idle Musings]


We must keep in mind that neither the mīs pî pīt pî nor the wpt-r marked the original creation of the god. Rather, it was thought to be the means by which a particular divine manifestation of a pre-existent god was brought into being. If, for exampl... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [Image of God]

February 13, 8AM

It was here in Gen 3 that we saw a significant departure from the pīt pî and the wpt-r, the rituals by which a divine image was enlivened in Mesopotamia and Egypt, respectively. In the comparative rituals the opening of the eyes and the subsequent tran... [ANE religion] [Books] [Image of God] [theology]

February 10, 8AM

We must consider when, in ancient Israel’s history, the metaphor of kinship would have been a fitting analogy for the divine-human relationship. If the analogy had been applied to Elohim and Israel, one might argue it was a product of the premonarchic t... [Books] [Image of God] [scripture]

February 8, 9AM

Really good article/review over at the New York Review of Books. Well worth your time to read, but here's a nice snippet: That’s the conventional wisdom [that a Liberal Arts degree doesn’t net a job], but it’s probably wrong. In a recent survey of b... [Books] [education] [Idle Musings]


Rather than assuming that P used ṣelem to describe humanity because Israel was no longer engaged in the worship of divine images, and it was, therefore, no longer a derogatory term, the author may have chosen his terms precisely because the manufacture ... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [Image of God] [theology]

February 7, 8AM

Undoubtedly, the biblical author was familiar with the mythological literature of his day, but what his sources of influence contained, whether they were written and/or oral, the delineation of these sources within the present text of Genesis 1, and their... [ANE religion] [Books] [Image of God] [theology]

February 6, 8AM

X (ancient Near Eastern royal ideology, the mīs pî pīt pî, the wpt-r) may have influenced Y (Gen 1:26–27) positively with respect to a (ṣelem), in that a (ṣelem) in Gen 1:26–27 reflects the idea that king was the royal-divine son created in ... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [Image of God] [theology]

February 2, 8AM

[B]oth the pīt pî specifically and the wpt-r were rituals of animation, bringing the images to life. By the end of each rite, the statues were considered divine manifestations. Adam, however, was instantaneously enlivened at his creation by the breath ... [ANE religion] [Books] [Image of God] [theology]

February 1, 8AM

At this point, we must inquire as to the nature of the author’s knowledge. Did the Eden author have only a general awareness of the manufacture of divine statues and of the ritual means by which they were created, or is there any indication in Gen 2:5... [ANE religion] [book] [Idle Musings] [Image of God] [theology]

January 31, 7AM

Although the serpent was correct that Adam and Eve’s eyes would be opened and they would become like ʾelōhîm, his promise that they could disobey Yahweh and live was a lie. In the mouth-washing and mouth-opening rituals, the animation of the sensory ... [ANE religion] [Books] [Image of God] [theology]

January 30, 7AM

In Ps 8:6, however, man is not said to be clothed with glory and honor but crowned (ʿṭr) with them. With his choice of the verb ʿṭr, the psalmist emphasizes the focal point of the kābôd and hādār as the area above the shoulders surrounding the h... [ANE religion] [Books] [Image of God] [theology]

January 27, 12 PM

Eisenbrauns just received a review of the book we've been excerpting, The "Image of God" in the Garden of Eden. The whole review is worth reading, if you can get your hands on it. Below is the final paragraph from the review, with which I heartily concur:... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Image of God] [Reviews]


Regarding ʾbd and šmr, however, the only other place in the Hebrew Bible aside from Gen 2:15 where these verbs appear together is in Num 3:7–8, 8:26, and 18:5–6, where they describe the duty of the Levites in guarding and ministering at the tabernac... [book] [Idle Musings] [Image of God] [theology]

January 26, 7AM

I concluded above that ṣelem and dəmût in Gen 1:26–27 were used to describe the creation of humankind because the author was likening the divine-human relationship to that of father and son. In doing so, he was also redefining ṣelem: the divine is... [Books] [Image of God] [theology]

January 25, 8AM

USDA science researchers ordered to stop publishing news releases, other documents, and EPA told to freeze all grants and contracts. Because the truth might damage profits for the big corporations—and that is far more important than the health of th... [Idle Musings]

January 24, 8AM

And they said it couldn't happen here... via Jim West


[T]he nature of the divine-human relationship as it is presented in Genesis 1 has three major components that are intimately related to one another: kinship, kingship, and cult. At some level, humans seem to be members of the divine species, which implies... [Books] [Image of God] [theology]

January 23, 8AM

We must keep in mind, however, that humanity (ʿādām) is nowhere described in the Hebrew Bible explicitly as “Yahweh’s son.” However, the use of selem and dəmût to define the God/father-humankind/son relationship in Gen 5:3, the comparison betwe... [ANE religion] [Books] [Image of God] [theology]

January 22, 9AM

"Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14 NIVΕἰρήνην διώκετε μετὰ πάντων καὶ τὸν ἁγιασμόν, οὗ χωρὶς οὐδεὶς ... [theology]

January 20, 8AM

In total, the phrase “according to its/their kind” is repeated 10 times in these 7 verses alone (Gen 1:11–12 and 1:21–25). Clearly, the author is emphasizing the creation and reproduction of each species according to its own distinctive type or cl... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Image of God] [theology]

January 19, 9AM

The biblical author avoids explicit birthing language like that which appears in the mīs pî and the wpt-r texts to describe the ritual creation of a divine image, and even distances ʾādām from Elohim by describing them as made in the image (bəṣal... [ANE religion] [Books] [Image of God] [theology]

January 18, 7AM

The frequent appearance of dəmût in the descriptions of Ezekiel’s visions demonstrates that the prophet is struggling to describe what he sees. He uses the term to relate the unfamiliar to the familiar, to put into language that which defies descripti... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Image of God] [Major Prophets] [theology]

January 17, 11AM

Impressive, large, public buildings have power—that is why they are built. They speak to us of human power, implicitly ordained by the divine. This is why the powerful from ancient times through today invested and still invest so much money and time in ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology]


How, then, does Gen 9:6 illumine our understanding of what it means that humankind is created bəṣelem ʾelōhîm? It clearly demonstrates that humans are not God nor are they the ultimate lawmakers. However, it does indicate that there is a profound le... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Image of God] [theology]

January 13, 8AM

God is the creator of humankind, and therefore he, or one appointed by him, is the only one who can take a human life. For another man to do so is tantamount to insurrection. That is, to kill a human being is to exert oneself as Creator-God. Furthermore, ... [Books] [Image of God] [theology]

January 12, 7AM

I must point out that nowhere in the Old Testament is Yahweh referred to explicitly gōʾēl haddām, but Zechariah’s cry for Yahweh “to see and avenge” (yēreʾ yhwh wəyidrōš) and the psalmist’s identification of the Lord as the avenger of she... [Books] [Image of God] [theology]

January 11, 7AM

Through the reanimation of their sensory organs, the royal deceased of ancient Egypt were revived through their cultic images so that they could live eternally in the hereafter. This ritual procedure, known as the Opening of the Mouth (wpt-r), was applied... [ANE religion] [Books] [Image of God]

January 10, 11AM

This [depicting the statue as completed before it was begun being made] would also explain why the ritual as it is recorded in Rekhmire’s tomb begins with the purification of the completed statue. The artist was not concerned to present the events in ch... [ANE religion] [Books] [Image of God]

January 9, 8AM

I have sought to demonstrate that, according to the mīs pî pīt pî, the creation of a divine statue was not primarily a ritual of purification, although clearly purity was of utmost concern. Nor was it modeled exclusively on the analogy of human proc... [ANE religion] [Books] [Image of God]

January 7, 9AM

Recent studies have demonstrated that the act of bringing sacrifices to a deity is in several respects analogous to gift-giving, which can be seen as an essential ingredient in social interaction between humans, in all known cultures. The keyword, in both... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [Major Prophets] [Minor Prophets] [theology]
The Mesopotamian mouth-washing and mouth-opening ritual was a two-day event that was carried out in several different locations, each of which represented in physical form a mythological space within the divine sphere. The human craftsmen’s workshop was... [ANE religion] [Books] [Image of God]

January 5, 8AM

When the ritual texts and incantations are viewed as a whole, they present the “god” as both born and manufactured. The mouth-washing texts do not explain how these two modes of creation functioned in tandem. Rather, birth and manufacture are simply p... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [Image of God] [theology]

January 4, 8AM

Although the materials are said to be pure and of divine origin, the divine statue, three times referred to as an alam/ almu rather than an ilu, is manufactured by the craft deities who form its wooden body with carpenter’s tools and provide it with eye... [ANE religion] [Books] [Image of God]

January 3, 8AM

Unique to the Babylon version, however, is the specific instruction to open the image’s eye (īn ili šuāti tepette). Although the text does not explain or elaborate on why this was done, it was, presumably, intended to animate the statue’s eyes, ju... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [Image of God] [Major Prophets] [Minor Prophets] [theology]

December 29 2016, 7AM

Although the text does not state explicitly that the transformation from statue to divine being was a gradual process, the fact that the priest performed 13 mouth-washings and mouth-openings suggests that this was the case. If one mouth-washing and mouth-... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [Image of God]

December 28, 8AM

The rituals outlining these procedures and the accompanying incantations are known collectively by the Babylonian titles mīs pî (“washing of the mouth”) and pīt pî (“opening of the mouth”). The mīs pî, as noted earlier, was primarily a ri... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [idolatry] [theology]

December 27, 7AM

It is clear in Genesis 3 that in eating the forbidden fruit and becoming like ʿelōhîm the man and the woman had transgressed a very significant boundary between the human and divine spheres. In the Mesopotamian pît pî and the Egyptian wpt-r, however,... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [Image of God] [theology]

December 26, 7AM

A dialogue between the serpent and the woman ensues (Gen 3:1b–5), and the subtle and deceptive serpent convinces the woman to taste the forbidden fruit. The following climactic moment of disobedience is conveyed with shocking brevity. What took 20 verse...

December 25, 8AM

The Word became flesh and made his home among us.We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 CEB) [Count it all joy] [gospel] [theology]

December 24, 8AM

I read yesterday that Russia announced it would reenter the nuclear arms race, and the president-elect of the U.S. responded in kind. By coincidence(??), my reading in the Psalms today contained this Psalm, which I've modified slightly to make it more 21s... [Hebrew] [Idle Musings] [scripture] [theology] [ḥesed]

December 23, 8AM

Genesis 2 does not define humans as a “living statue of the deity” in the same way that a divine statue became the god once its mouth was washed and opened. Rather, humanity was, in some way, created in the image of God but was distinct from God himse... [Books] [idle musing] [Image of God] [theology]

December 22, 9AM

It sure is rough living up here...I'm listening to Handel's Messiah, working via VPN, and this is the view out my window right now. Life's tough, isn't it? : ) Merry Christmas!


Although there are no obvious references to the Washing of the Mouth or the Opening of the Mouth in the Hebrew Bible, several prophetic texts reflect an awareness that the manipulation of an individual’s sensory organs was thought to activate the indivi... [ANE religion] [Books] [Image of God] [theology]

December 21, 7AM

In the Opening of the Mouth ritual, the statue’s sensory organs are animated, enabling it to see, hear, smell, speak, breath, and move about as a living being. The opening of the eyes is even named specifically in the Babylon version, and the fact that ... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [Image of God] [Psalms] [theology]

December 20, 8AM

Psalm 10Common English Bible (CEB)Psalm 10[a]10 Why do you stand so far away, Lord,    hiding yourself in troubling times?2 Meanwhile, the wicked are proudly    in hot pursuit of those who suffer.Let ... [Thought for the day]
The fact that this tôlədôt notice [Gen 5:1–3, of the birth of Seth] echoes the language of Gen 1:26–27 suggests that the description of Seth functions, at least in part, as an interpretive key to understanding the creation of male and female bəṣ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Image of God] [theology]

December 19, 7AM

Gen 2:5–3:24 seems to describe the creation of the first man in terms reminiscent of the creation of a divine image in the mīs pî pīt pî and the wpt-r rituals. There are parallels among them in content, overall progression, and, to some extent, pu... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [Image of God] [scripture] [theology]

December 16, 8AM

All explanations work with data from the biblical tradition itself or with cultural-historical analogies from the ancient Near East and, more recently, from Greece. Unfortunately, they disregard the idiosyncrasies of the biblical tradition that do not fit... [ANE religion] [Books] [Dead Sea Scrolls] [hermeneutics] [Idle Musings] [Prophecy] [scripture] [theology]

December 15, 7AM

So, who were the tradents of the biblical prophetic tradition, and what was their historical setting? As far as we can see from the sources in the ancient Near East, the recording of prophetic oracles usually took place in close proximity to the royal cou... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [Major Prophets] [Minor Prophets] [Prophecy] [scripture] [theology]

December 14, 7AM

The unconditional prophecies of judgment are the starting point of the tradition in the prophetic books and are presupposed by the later prophecies of salvation as well as by the prophetic narratives. True, the notion that a deity desires doom and brings ... [Books] [gospel] [Major Prophets] [Minor Prophets] [Prophecy] [theology]

December 13, 7AM

It is evident, however, that the biblical books follow their own path as far as content and form is concerned. Unlike the ancient Near Eastern parallels, the prophetic books of the Bible develop into a literary genre of their own that was handed down over... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Major Prophets] [Minor Prophets] [Prophecy] [scripture]

December 12, 8AM

What biblical scholarship calls “pre-classical” corresponds on a phenomenological level to the “classical” prophecy of the ancient Near East, while the “classical” prophecy of the Hebrew Bible seems to be the exception to the rule in the ancie... [ANE religion] [Books] [Prophecy] [scripture]

December 9, 7AM

Prophets and prophetesses of the ancient Near East enjoyed confidential communion with the gods and transmitted their messages. These messages were handed down orally or were written down either individually (in letters, inscriptions, or on other material... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Major Prophets] [Minor Prophets] [Prophecy] [scripture]

December 8, 7AM

If we are to understand the recent trend in the history of scholarship to concentrate on the prophetic literature, we must first keep in sight the point from which it departed. This point of departure is the fixation on the person of the prophet in both t... [Books] [Major Prophets] [Minor Prophets] [Prophecy]

December 7, 8AM

It is not unusual to find the expression “paradigm shift” in recent overviews of research on the Hebrew Bible. This is also the case in an overview of research on the prophets of the Hebrew Bible by Martti Nissinen (2009), who primarily describes the ... [Books] [Major Prophets] [Minor Prophets] [Prophecy]

December 6, 8AM

The interpretation of the biblical text appears in any case to be directed or stimulated by exegetical problems arising from the received biblical text itself. These problems are solved by reference to contemporary history, which is the situation of the Q... [Books] [Dead Sea Scrolls] [hermeneutics] [Idle Musings] [theology]

December 2, 7AM

We find the pesharim taken up with the same questions that concern modern scholarship. Who is the second-person singular feminine, the second-person singular masculine, the third-person singular masculine, or the third-person plural masculine in Nahum 1? ... [Books] [Dead Sea Scrolls] [hermeneutics] [Prophecy] [scripture]

December 1, 8AM

Those who live in the biblical history and locate their own time in it will regard the books of the biblical prophets as scripture that directly concerns them and their own time. As we have already seen, this is how the hermeneutical rules of the “Teach... [Books] [Dead Sea Scrolls] [hermeneutics] [Idle Musings] [scripture]

November 30, 3PM

Just ran across this from Bee Culture Magazine: Neonicotinoid Pesticides Foster Spider Mite OutbreaksAda Szczepaniec, an agricultural entomologist at Texas A&M University, investigated the outbreak. Her study found that it was not just the elms, but also ... [Bees] [Garden] [Neonicotinoids] [Pesticides] [slugs]


The Qumran community wrestled with the biblical tradition. Repeatedly they sought to reconstruct and interpret both their history and their present situation in light of biblical, and especially prophetic, citations. In doing so, they also hoped to gain a... [Books] [Dead Sea Scrolls] [hermeneutics]

November 29, 6PM

Apparently somebody suggested that libraries are vanity building projects. And a librarian took the time to respond. The whole thing is worth a read (even though it is longish), but this paragraph jumped out at me: It will simply not be enough for our col... [Books] [Libraries]


The biblical manuscripts from the Dead Sea afford us a unique view into textual transmission during the Greco-Roman period. The habits and customs of the ancient scribes testify to their absolute fidelity to the text. Nevertheless, there was no single sta... [Books] [Dead Sea Scrolls] [gospel] [hermeneutics] [Idle Musings] [Prophecy] [Textual Criticism] [theology]

November 28, 7AM

“The calm words of the wise are better heeded than the racket caused by a ruler among fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one incompetent person destroys much good.”Ecclesiastes 9:17-18 CEB [Thought for the day]
Decoding the “mystery” required a special form of interpretation. Precisely this is the idea behind the word pesher “interpretation,” the technical term for commentary on the prophets. This term has a long prehistory. On the one hand, it belongs t... [Books] [hermeneutics] [Major Prophets] [Minor Prophets] [Prophecy]

November 27, 10AM

I'm just getting ready to start another book, Standing in the Breach, and I started by reading the conclusion : ) It confirmed my desire to read the book! Here's a tidbit: The main responsibility of the prophets is commonly understood to be that of procla... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Major Prophets] [Minor Prophets] [Prophecy] [theology]

November 25, 12 PM

In his work about the Jewish war of the first century C.E., the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus writes the following on the Essenes: There are some among them who profess to foretell the future, being versed from their early years in holy books, various... [Books] [Dead Sea Scrolls] [Prophecy]
There was a song way back in the day by Stephen Curtis Chapman (remember him?) entitled "Waiting for Lightning." The refrain goes in part:Waiting for lightningA sign that it's time for a changeYou're listening for thunderWhile He quietly whispers your nam... [Advent] [Idle Musings] [theology]

November 22, 7AM

[At Qumran] works were composed that employed cosmological speculation about the divine plan for the world or described the eschatological battle of good and evil spirits in heaven as well as on earth. The community began to determine its own place within... [Books] [Dead Sea Scrolls] [Major Prophets] [Minor Prophets] [Prophecy]

November 21, 7AM

I can get behind target="_blank">this definition of feminism; here's a brief snippet, but read the whole thing: A Christian feminist knows that God designed men with all of the humanity, compassion, integrity, strength, and tenderness that he designed wo... [Idle Musings] [theology]
We have to take into account the circumstances under which it [apocalypticism] originated. Then and now, they emanated from a deep uncertainty about the signs of the times that is counteracted by exact calculation of the days until the end. Much more inte... [Apocalypticism] [Books] [Idle Musings] [Prophecy]


Wise are those who restrain their talking; people with understanding are coolheaded. Fools who keep quiet are deemed wise; those who shut their lips are smart. Prov 17:27–28 (CEB) [Idle Musings] [theology] [Thought for the day]

November 18, 4PM

There is an intrinsic link between the course of the heavenly bodies, the divine order of the cosmos, and the order on earth. This is especially true for the cult, where heaven and earth meet. Considering this, it is understandable why Antiochus IV’s at... [Books] [Major Prophets] [theology]

November 17, 6AM

It is more or less a matter of taste whether or not one wants to use the term “apocalyptic” for Aramaic Daniel. In any case, Dan 7 and the corresponding supplements to Dan 2 constitute a move toward eschatology. Eschatology is a prerequisite for Jewis... [Apocalypticism] [Books] [Major Prophets]

November 16, 7AM

The notion of the disappearance of prophecy coincides with the end of literary production in the prophetic books during the Hellenistic period. The tradition itself draws the line in the Persian period. The latest dates refer to the building of the temple... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Minor Prophets] [Prophecy]

November 15, 7AM

The prophetic tradition had its origin in the crisis and breakdown of the usual cultic relationship between YHWH and his worshipers. In the entire tradition of the Hebrew Bible, this rupture triggered reflection on this relationship and on the question of... [Books] [Major Prophets] [Minor Prophets] [Prophecy]


I'm leaving for the Annual Meeting of ASOR. Hopefully, this will be an uneventful trip, unlike last year, where it took me 18 hours! I could have driven faster. I'm driving to Duluth, catching a flight to Minneapolis/St. Paul, and then a flight to San An... [AAR/SBL] [ASOR] [Idle Musings]

November 14, 8AM

The truly critical historians, however, take into account the fact that our contemporary ideas of historical truth were not those held by ancient writers or readers. Above all, they know that the truth of revelation cannot be verified or falsified on a hi... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Major Prophets] [Minor Prophets] [scripture]


A word for today from Bible Gateway Psalm 120A pilgrimage song.[a]120 I cried out to the Lord when I was in trouble    (and he answered me):2 “Lord, deliver me[b] from lying lips    and a ... [gospel] [theology]

November 13, 7AM

Remembering is the theme at the beginning and end of Malachi. Remembering God’s promise to punish Edom (Mal 1:2–5), reflecting upon what God has done in this book of remembrance (3:16–18), and recalling an even bigger story involving Moses and Elija... [Books] [Minor Prophets] [theology]

November 12, 12 PM

Righteousness and justice—how one relates to God and human beings—are the hallmarks by which humanity in general, and God’s people in particular, shall be evaluated. The prophets challenge God’s people in times of crises in order to elicit a chang... [Books] [Minor Prophets] [theology]


Just saw this by Ed Stetzer. Very good. Here's a snippet: Half of Americans, and the vast majority of white Evangelicals, have elected soon-to-be President Trump. Most Evangelicals I know did so because they felt he was the best, flawed, choice they had. ... [Count it all joy] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [theology]

November 11, 7AM

The word of God in the prophetic books is understood to have a potential significance that goes far beyond the time they describe. The prophetic books guide their readers so that they can recognize the signs of the times and align themselves with God’s ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Major Prophets] [Minor Prophets] [theology]

November 10, 8AM

Psalm 9494 Lord, avenging God—    avenging God, show yourself!2 Rise up, judge of the earth!    Pay back the arrogant exactly what they deserve!3 How long will the wicked—oh, Lord!— &n... [gospel] [Psalms] [theology]
The problem of differentiating between the historical and literary prophet did not trouble ancient scribes as it has troubled modern scholarship since the Enlightenment and the emergence of historical-critical research on the Bible. For the ancient scribe... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Major Prophets] [Minor Prophets] [theology]

November 9, 10AM

On this post-election Wednesday, there are a lot of people rejoicing and a lot of people weeping. As Christians, what should our response be? I like the response posted over at Missio Alliance Here's a paragraph, but please, do yourself a favor and read t... [gospel] [theology]


There is also a significant difference between the ancient Near East on the one hand and Israel on the other. The ancient Near Eastern archives that we know from excavations have not produced a single prophetic book, nor are the prophetic books of the Heb... [Books] [Major Prophets] [Minor Prophets]

November 8, 9AM

But me? My feet had almost stumbled;    my steps had nearly slipped3     because I envied the arrogant;    I observed how the wicked are well off:4 They suffer no pain;   ... [Idle Musings] [theology]

November 7, 11PM

A psalm for this year's election day, Psalm 62:Only in God do I[a] find rest;    my salvation comes from him.2 Only God is my rock and my salvation—    my stronghold!—I won’t be shaken anymore.3 ... [theology]


"The role of Job serves as paradigm for a righteous man faced with the human condition. As often noted, Job protests against easy answers, but the power of these protests derives from the many ways in which Job makes his point by challenging accepted wisd... [Books] [Job] [theology]

November 6, 8AM

"These verses [Joel 2:12–14] employ שוב [šwb] positively, twice commanding the people to return to YHWH, and once holding out the prospects that YHWH will return to the people and bless them. These actions are contingent upon one another. Only if th... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Minor Prophets] [theology]

November 3, 9AM

An author may “quote” another text inexactly. An author may work from memory and simply record a slightly different version of the text, or an author may also deliberately alter the quotation to fit the context or to make a different point. One should... [hermeneutics] [Minor Prophets]


Sometimes [in the ancient Near Eastern prophecies], mild criticism of the king is combined with grandiose promises, when the prophets remind the king of his duties toward the gods, their temples and priests, as well as toward his subjects. This criticism,... [ANE History] [ANE religion] [Books] [Prophecy] [theology]

October 31, 9AM

Prophecy in the ancient Near East was a political tool of state propaganda that was used to preserve the prevailing order. Generally, the divine message of the prophets refers to the king and addresses the fate of the royal house; it has little to do with... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Major Prophets] [Minor Prophets] [theology]

October 30, 6PM

Righteousness and justice—how one relates to God and human beings—are the hallmarks by which humanity in general, and God’s people in particular, shall be evaluated. The prophets challenge God’s people in times of crises in order to elicit a chang... [Minor Prophets] [theology]

October 28, 7AM

Nowhere else in the entire ancient Near East did prophets or other men of God ever proclaim such a message. True, outside Israel, gods could be angry and bring disaster upon their cities, countries, and people. Yet the foundations on which the relationshi... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [Major Prophets] [Minor Prophets] [theology]

October 26, 2PM

From James D. Nogalski, “Joel as ‘Literary Anchor’ for the Book of the Twelve,” in Reading and Hearing the Book of the Twelve, ed. James D. Nogalski and Marvin A. Sweeney, SymS 15 9Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 20000, 95: Instead, [Hos... [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Minor Prophets] [theology]


The Christian life now is not about fear that we will fail to keep happy the One who loved us while we were still enslave to darkness. The Christian life is really about grasping two concepts: our adoption into God’s family—which means Jesus is our b... [ANE religion] [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Supernatural] [theology]

October 25, 7AM

As Christians, we’ve probably heard many times that we need to be like Jesus. We certainly do. But when we hear that, we tend to process it only in terms of being good, or maybe “less bad.” We turn what’s actually a nearly inconceivable idea—tha... [Books] [gospel] [Supernatural] [theology]

October 24, 8AM

When our worldview is attuned to God’s plan to rescue people from every nation, making them part of God’s family, we are not of this world. Being of this world is to be absorbed by the world’s concerns and living accordingly. Unbelievers should be a... [Books] [gospel] [Supernatural] [theology]

October 22, 7AM

Just ran across this, posted by a seed company, not sure which one anymore, but I think it was Baker Seeds. The article is entitled Organic farming beats conventional method, new finding shows Read the whole thing, but this paragraph sums up the mess we a... [Garden] [Idle Musings]

October 20, 7AM

In essence, baptism was a loyalty oath and a message to the demonic powers (as well as any people present) of just whose side you were on in the spiritual war. Ancient Christians understood this better than we do today. Early church baptismal rites includ... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Supernatural] [theology]

October 19, 6AM

Another implication of the passages of Scripture we’ve examined is that the notion of demonic strongholds is biblical. We aren’t given a full description of demonic zones or turf boundaries, or even a spiritual pecking order for the dark side. We are ... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Supernatural] [theology]

October 18, 6AM

This just showed up in my RSS feed this morning. Here's the first two paragraphs to whet your appetite: A hundred years ago, the New York Times reported on a rather sophisticated study for the time: 4,600 cases of cancer appearing over a seven year period... [Idle Musings] [Whole Foods]
The “new plan” of God’s—that he would die and then rise from the dead to reverse the curse of the fall—isn’t at all evident in the Old Testament. Instead, clues are scattered throughout the Old Testament in dozens of places. Never is it all re... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Supernatural] [theology]

October 17, 6AM

It’s time we looked at ourselves through supernatural eyes. You are a child of God, fit for sacred space, not because of what you do or don’t do, but because you are in Christ, adopted by God (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:5). You’ve been extracted from the realm... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Supernatural] [theology]

October 13, 6AM

Many of the strange laws and practices of the Old Testament are grounded in the need to teach people that God is unlike everything else. In his nature and character, he is unique; he is completely other than humanity and anything else. For Israel, that wa... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Supernatural] [theology]

October 12, 8AM

Being right with God is another way of talking about salvation. But despite what we’ve often been taught in Sunday school, salvation didn’t come to Israelites by obeying rules, by following the Law. Whether in the Od Testament or the New, salvation is... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Supernatural] [theology]

October 11, 7AM

Our story so far: God cast aside the nations and their people at Babel. The lesser gods assigned to them took dominion (Deut 32:8–9). When God started over with Abraham, it was clear that he planned to one day reclaim the nations through the influence o... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [Supernatural] [theology]

October 10, 6AM

[R]epresenting God means every job that honors him is a spiritual calling. Every legitimate task can be part of moving our world toward Eden and blessing fellow imagers—or not. God doesn’t view people in ministry as more holy or special because of the... [Books] [Supernatural] [theology]

October 6, 7AM

What I’ve heard in church over the years doesn’t just miss the boat—it makes the supernatural boring. And even worse, the church’s teaching emasculates the unseen, supernatural world, rendering it powerless. A lot of what Christians imagine to be ... [Books] [scripture] [Supernatural] [theology]

October 5, 7AM

But let’s not lose track of the question I asked at the beginning. Do you really believe what the Bible says? That’s where the rubber meets the road. It won’t do you any good to learn what the Bible really says about the unseen world and how it inte... [Books] [Idle Musings] [scripture] [Supernatural] [theology]

October 4, 8PM

When it comes to the format discussion, the physical book is here to stay. With studies published on exhaustive reading, the correlation between screens and reduced retention, and the often expressed active joys of using a physical book, it it impossible ... [Books] [bookselling]


The members of God’s heavenly host are not peripheral or insignificant or unrelated to our story, the human story, in the Bible. They play a central role. But modern Bible readers too often read right past, without grasping the fascinating ways the supe... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [Supernatural]

October 3, 5PM

This study has used apotropaic intercessory texts as windows into ANE and biblical theologies—specifically studying the kinds of human agency the intercessors portray in response to divine threats of doom. Ritual texts present intercessors as straddling... [ANE religion] [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer]

September 30, 7AM

In 1 Chronicles 21 we see YHWH staying the hand of the angel as if waiting for David to intercede. We also see YHWH lingering after sending off the other “men” to investigate Sodom, waiting to share his plan with Abraham. Repeatedly, we see YHWH givin... [Intercession] [Prayer] [theology]

September 28, 7AM

One concept noted repeatedly in this study is the mystification of agency found in causative and particularly in hybrid speech acts. In the namburbis and Text 3, the agency responsible for the magical effect is either attributed to the gods or obfuscated ... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [ritual] [theology]

September 27, 6AM

The biblical writers have taken care to avoid the appearance of ritual speech. These narratives instead show characters apparently speaking in their own voices, demonstrating the best qualities of which humans and human speech are capable: justice, courag... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [theology]

September 26, 7AM

Intercessors with ritual agency can follow divinely modeled instructions to resolve the problem of disastrous omens. Intercessors with magical agency are capable of divinely empowered speech and can slip into the gods’ roles with the gods’ consent and... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [theology]

September 23, 8AM

Persuasive agency is the only kind of human agency found in Texts 5-15. As we have seen, the biblical speech is presented as meaningful in context, non-prescribed, and conforming to the specific situation of the speaker. Gestures and manual rites are mini... [ANE religion] [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [theology]

September 22, 9AM

Unlike the portraits of the other gods in these apotropaic intercessory texts, YHWH is often shown as making room for human responses to his plans before enacting them. Texts 5, 6, 13, 14, and 15 show YHWH as secretly or not-so-secretly inviting intercess... [ANE religion] [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [theology]

September 21, 7AM

Based on the notion that persuasive speech is tailored to its presumed audience, we can learn something about cultural perceptions of the gods by examining the rhetoric addressed to them. Rhetorical strategies in the namburbi hymns suggest a view of these... [ANE religion] [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [theology]

September 20, 7AM

The texts suggest that apotropaic intercession was considered to be generally, but not universally, effective, although even in cases where it appears to have failed YHWH refrains from wiping out all Israel. Yet intercession merely has a partial effect; t... [Books] [Intercession] [Prayer] [theology]

September 19, 8AM

Notably, in none of the cases analyzed does the intercessor claim that the people have turned aside from their wickedness, nor does the intercessor promise that they will. Despite its prevalence in Deuteronomy, Amos, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, this theme is a... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [theology]

September 16, 7AM

“Indeed experience demonstrates that we inflict heavier punishment upon persons who deny guilt and advance arguments in their own defense, but that anger desists from those who admit the justice of the punishment to be meted out to them. This, moreover,... [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology]

September 15, 6AM

Two speech act categories are absent from the corpus [of intercessory prayers in the HB]: commissives and declaratives, both hallmarks of transformative ritual speech. By omitting all declaratives, the biblical writers appear to be representing apotropaic... [ANE religion] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [theology]

September 14, 7AM

Like biblical intercession with human superiors, biblical apotropaic intercession with YHWH uses ordinary discourse, persuading through appeals to ethos, pathos, and logos. Without causative language, these utterances lack the need for a special connectio... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [Prayer] [theology]

September 13, 6AM

Aaron’s use of incense in Numbers 17 is anomalous in the HB in that Aaron brings it to the people, running into their midst and “standing between life and death.” Except for the High Priest’s ritual in Lev 16:12-13, no biblical descriptions of ato... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Intercession] [theology]

September 12, 7AM

Verse 15, in which YHWH is said to change his mind (נחם) even before David intercedes, makes the reader wonder how important David’s intercession was to YHWH’s ultimate decision. According to 1 Chr 21:15, “God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destro... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Prayer] [theology]

September 8, 6AM

David’s opening words add ballast to his prior confession, not only clearing the people but also seeking to reconcile his own relationship with YHWH, thereby making himself a more credible intercessor. [footnote: Compare the instructions to Aaron to mak... [Books] [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [Prayer]

September 7, 7AM

The goal of Amos’s intercessory appeals is to prevent the divine punishment in the respective vision. In Amos 7:2, the verb סלח (“pardon!”[slḥ]) means “do not destroy” or in Milgrom’s terms, “reconcile.” He argues that there is no nua... [Books] [gospel] [theology]

September 6, 8AM

That's basically what it boils down to in article (which you really should read; it's only a few paragraphs long): If we are convinced that our violence is responsible to secure our future, then our actions will tacitly witness to the death of god in our ... [gospel] [Idle Musings] [pacifism] [theology]


The first word in Ezekiel’s intercession [Ezek 9] is the exclamation אהה [‘ahah], which Muffs considers to indicate “prophetic opposition to a divine decree.” The particular combination of אהה [‘ahah] followed by ′′אדני ה [ha‘ad... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology]

September 2, 8AM

Unlike Exod 32:11b-13, which never refers to the Israelites’ sin, the appeal in Deuteronomy [9] mentions their sin at a point of maximum prominence, the center of the chiasm (v. 27b). Such structural emphasis belies Moses’s appeal to YHWH in v. 27b, ... [Books] [Prayer] [theology]

September 1, 3PM

The major distinction between this speech [Num 14] and the one in Exod 32:11b-13 is Moses’s citation of YHWH’s attributes in Num 14:17-18. Here the formula becomes the basis of Moses’s two petitions: his plea in Num 14:17 that “your forbearance be... [ANE religion] [Books] [theology]

August 31, 6AM

Evidence includes Gen 20:7, in which Abraham is called a prophet just prior to being asked to intercede and Jer 27:18, in which Jeremiah spells out the expectation that true prophets will intercede. Cf. Ezek 13:5, 22:30-31, in which YHWH judges or laments... [ANE religion] [Books] [theology]

August 30, 8AM

For the most part the speeches take the form of prose prayer, even in the exceptional case linked to ritual—the story of David and the census (1 Chr 21:17; cf. 2 Sam 24:17). Instead, intercessors appeal to pathos, logos, and occasionally ethos to persua... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology]

August 26, 7AM

Muršili’s plague prayers attest to Hittite beliefs that the gods need not respond positively to every ritual. These prayers recount the king’s fruitless efforts to appease the gods who had brought years of plague to his country, including his multipl... [ANE religion] [Books] [theology]

August 25, 8AM

Many persuasive analogies are intended to transfer an attribute from one entity to another using the supernatural means of similarity. Here, the same entity—the dog—inhabits both the source and target domains. The ordinary canine ability to ward off s... [ANE religion] [Books]

August 24, 7AM

The supernatural rites rather than a special supernatural quality of the human agents (ritual practitioners) give the namburbis’ causative speech its most significant supernatural empowerment. The rites were understood to have supernatural power because... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology]

August 23, 8AM

The previous post spoke of the ancient Near Eastern backgrounds to the prosperity gospel—tongue firmly in cheek, of course. But, there is a serious resource that just became available today: The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. The notes in the... [ANE History] [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings]


This process did not depend on the āšipu’s possessing a pre-existing or essential connection to the divine realm, but rather the āšipu’s authorized participation in the blended space of the ritual. One piece of evidence that a supernatural conne... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology]

August 22, 6AM

Not only the fact of praise, but the content of the praise is significant. Any selection of specific attributes over others uses the technique of choice. In order to put the deity into a beneficent mood, the chosen epithets presumably praise attributes th... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology]

August 19, 7AM

[Stefan] Maul (Zukunftsbewãltigung : Eine Untersuchung altorientalischen Denkens anhand der babylonisch-assyrischen Lõserituale [Namrubi])argues that the animals, plants, or circumstances in the omens do more than signify disaster; they also play an a... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology]

August 16, 6AM

One particular Akkadian term for intercession, abbūti ṣabātu (“to act in a fatherly way”), illustrates the Mesopotamian view that a primary responsibility of the male head of household was to intercede on his children’s behalf. This expectatio... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology]

August 12, 10PM

While we seek to master the plethora of manuscripts, we also savor their very unmanageability. The textual critic’s heart yearns for even more abundance and leaps at the discovery of new manuscripts. It doesn’t matter whether they were moldering in ca... [Textual Criticism]

August 11, 6AM

The Mesopotamian and Anatolian texts show the intercessors’ use of ritual and sometimes magic with the gods’ explicit aid to protect individuals from divinely decreed doom and remove impurity. In contrast, the biblical texts show intercessors protecti... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology]

August 10, 7AM

When action-based agency is rooted in speech, words operate more or less as things rather than (or in addition to) being carriers of meaning—in other words, they are ascribed conventional effects in context which may be separate from their actual semant... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology]
A perfect text-critical procedure is not at hand. Like all historical inquiry, we see the past indirectly through our (always fallible) evaluation of its present traces.—Ronald Hendel in Steps to a New Edition of the Hebrew Bible, forthcoming from SBL P... [Books] [Textual Criticism]

August 8, 7AM

Sørensen argues that in magical rituals, participants (including ritual performers) view themselves as interacting with elements and rules originating in both the sacred and profane domains—a matter of conceptual blending. The model Sørensen uses for ... [ANE religion] [Books]

August 4, 7AM

We're starting a new book today: Forestalling Doom "Apotropaic Intercession" in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 417by Marian W. Broida Ugarit-Verlag, 2014 xx + 282 pp., English Cloth ISBN: 9783868351101 ... [ANE religion] [Books]

August 3, 7AM

The HMOs talked about so-called preventive medicine, but is such a superficial way that the message had virtually no impact. Their dietary recommendations, by and large, boil down to “eat more veggies, drink fewer sodas, and choose leaner cuts of meat.... [Books] [Whole Foods]

August 2, 6AM

OK, this one has been sitting in my inbox for almost 2 months now! I need to let people know about a chance to help out a fellow blogger. Rick Brannan has written a good bit about the Apostolic Fathers over the years and did a long, in-depth study of the ... [Greek] [Linguistics]
We talk endlessly about shifting payment responsibilities among different groups—private sectore or public sector, employer or employee—as if these programs are going to help control our country’s back-breaking health costs: about two and a half tri... [Books] [Whole Foods]

August 1, 7AM

Can you imagine the health gains in the U.S. population if the half-trillion dollars in annal Big Pharma revenue were allocated to educating the public about WFPB [whole foods, plant-based] nutrition, and to making sure that fresh, organic, sustainably gr... [Books] [Whole Foods]

July 28, 7AM

Choosing plant-based foods over animal-based foods reduces pain in so many ways. It alleviates our bodily pain. It minimizes the pain animals experience by reducing CAFO farming. It also reduces human suffering associated with global poverty and hunger. G... [Books] [Whole Foods]

July 27, 7AM

Robert Goodland, the longtime senior environmental advisor to the president of the World Bank, and Jeff Anhang, his colleague at the World Bank Group, have determined that livestock rearing contributes at least 51 percent of total global warming. The most... [Books] [global warming] [Whole Foods]

July 25, 7AM

• Animal protein production requires eight times as much fossil fuel as plant protein. • The livestock population of the Unites States consumes five times as much grain (which is not even their natural diet) as the country’s entire human population.... [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology] [Whole Foods]

July 24, 6AM

In the face of insufficient data, any judgment is weakly founded. Since the Qumran texts are the very epitome of incomplete data, caution is necessary.—Ronald Hendel in Steps to a New Edition of the Hebrew Bible, forthcoming from SBL Press <idle ... [Books] [Dead Sea Scrolls] [Idle Musings] [Textual Criticism]

July 22, 7AM

I know many environmentalists whose commitment is manifest and commendable, but stops at their lips. It’s understandable; many of our favorite “foods” (or, more properly, food-like items) are highly addictive. And our relationship with food is far m... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Whole Foods]

July 21, 6AM

The danger of our increasing consumption of supplements is more than just the documented negative effects on our health. It’s that our love affair with the magic bullet of supplementation lets us believe we’re “of the hook” when it comes to eating... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Whole Foods]

July 20, 7AM

Population studies begun forty to fifty years ago show that when people migrate from one country to another, they acquire the cancer rate of the country to which they move, despite the fact their genes remain the same. This strongly indicates that at leas... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Whole Foods]

July 18, 7AM

As a research discipline, modern-day genetics addresses the consequences of that small percentage of disease-producing genes that we acquire along the way. It operates from the assumption that one day we will be able to locate and identify damaged genes a... [Books] [GMO foods] [Idle Musings] [Whole Foods]

July 17, 7PM

Textual criticism aims for a history of readings, extending from the archetype to the extant manuscripts. A historically sophisticated critical edition must present each step of a book’s textual history, to the extent that it is recoverable, and not res... [Books] [Textual Criticism]

July 15, 6AM

I am convinced that most people simply believe what they want to believe about cancer causation and prevention, according to which way the nature–nurture pendulum swings in their minds. In the absence of a reliable answer to the caner prevention questio... [Books] [Whole Foods]

July 13, 7AM

I am convinced that most people simply believe what they want to believe about cancer causation and prevention, according to which way the nature–nurture pendulum swings in their minds. In the absence of a reliable answer to the caner prevention questio... [Books] [Whole Foods]

July 12, 7AM

At the end of his journey, Job returns to a place that is strangely similar to his departure point, the point from which his entire drama started. He stands in front of us as the exemplary pious individual who performs sacrifices for others. Just as he wa... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Job] [theology]

July 8, 3PM

Job has been led on a long path toward conversion; he has realized that he himself was wrong. All of a sudden, however, and in a completely unexpected turn of events, God speaks once more to Job’s friends and confronts Eliphaz with this statement: My w... [Books] [Job] [theology]

July 7, 6AM

God forces Job to realize that the horizon within which he acts as creator is much larger than the horizon of human culture. The creative acts of God extend way beyond the human sphere. This becomes clear in the list of animals in 38:39–39:30 as well as... [Books] [Job] [theology]

July 6, 10AM

It is not surprising that past research has left us with the impression that scholars tend to read more of their own theological opinions into the divine speeches than extract meaning from them.—Job's Journey, page 74 <idle musing>A continual ... [Books] [Holy Spirit] [Idle Musings] [Job] [theology]


It is not surprising that past research has left us with the impression that scholars tend to read more of their own theological opinions into the divine speeches than extract meaning from them.— Job's Journey, page 74 <idle musing>A continua... [Books] [Holy Spirit] [Idle Musings] [Job] [theology]

July 5, 7AM

Is this complex answer even an answer? Job had asked why God allowed him to suffer so greatly. Why him? Is this not a sign of indiscriminate use of power? Instead of an answer, Job receives two hours of natural history lessons, a little bit of astronomy, ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Job] [theology]

July 4, 7AM

The Old Testament makes use of a host of metaphorical images to describe God’s presence in the world indirectly. The most important of these “anti-anthropomorphisms” are: “Name of God,” “Glory of God,” “Spirit of God,” “Word of God,”... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Job] [theology]

June 30, 5AM

“Nothing earthly is able to envision appropriately God, resulting in the paradox that the God of the Old Testament is not invisible, but is also unconceivable” [“Reicht nichts Weltliches aus, Gott zu vergegenwärtigen, so ergibt sich das Paradox, da... [Books] [hermeneutics] [Job] [theology]

June 29, 6AM

Job does make one theological mistake, however: from his own high ethical standing, he concludes that he is entitled to a certain treatment by God. This conclusion is presumptuous on two levels. For one—this is what Job’s friends tried to show—even ... [Books] [Holiness] [Job] [theology]

June 28, 6AM

The concept that God educates human beings through suffering, that Job’s illness is a constructive didactic measure, has moved to the center of much recent scholarship on Job. Yet there is much that speaks against advocating such pedagogy of suffering. ... [Books] [hermeneutics] [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [Job] [scripture] [theology]

June 27, 7AM

The frequent passages in which Job addresses God as “you” (see 7:12–21; 9:28– 32; 10:2–18; 13:22–27; 14:13–20) are of high theological importance. This is exactly what Job is praised for in the end. Human beings can and should voice their la... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Job] [Lament] [theology]

June 24, 7AM

As much as the idea of disputare de deo is rejected, the book of Job continues to advocate a form of speech transformed through suffering: lament as speech to God. Instead of speculation about God, the book advocates existential and authentic speech to Go... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Job] [theology]
From the ASOR Program Abstracts: If a terracotta figurine has a head, however schematically rendered, combined with a pair of circular protrusions, however small, or widely or narrowly spaced, and wherever located on a fictive torso, however flat or oddly... [ANE religion] [Archaeology] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun]

June 23, 6AM

The book of Job does not promote silence about God because we cannot say anything about him. Otherwise, this book would never have been written. But the book of Job does bid farewell to certain types of theology—and we do not have to bemoan their loss: ... [Books] [Job] [theology]

June 21, 7AM

Within the context of the Hebrew Bible, the book of Job thus primarily contradicts the God of justice as presented by the prophets: God, as Job shows us, can destroy us without reason. It also contradicts the merciful God of Priestly literature: we must a... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Job] [theology]

June 20, 6AM

The prologue of the book of Job is shaped like a fairy tale in order to prevent us from using it as the Archimedean point from which to set the book in motion and speculate on God and the world. The fairy-tale quality is not merely there as a container of... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Job] [theology]

June 17, 7AM

Whatever thoughts the friends entertain may be part of a usual repertoire of theological insights into the Job problem, but the prologue states in rebuttal: all this has nothing to do with what is actually happening. The logic of heaven is completely diff... [Books] [Job] [theology]

June 15, 6AM

I believe that we can make a strong and much more plausible case for the opposite hypothesis: the combination of the proleptic solution to the Job problem in the prologue with the later solutions in the rest of the book stands as the center of the theolog... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Job] [theology]

June 14, 6AM

When we interpret the prologue within the context of the rest of the book, we realize quickly that the prologue contains important theological statements with regard to the book as a whole. The most important statement, which we must mention first of all,... [Books] [Job] [theology]

June 13, 7AM

In order to deal with ancient texts such as the prologue of the book of Job, scholars tend to refer to ancient cosmology that imagines a heavenly sphere existing above the earthly realm. The heavenly sphere can be the setting for actions and events just l... [ANE religion] [Books] [hermeneutics]

June 10, 7AM

The narratives examined in this study do not form one coherent story, but rather several ones with a wide spectrum of variations, deletions and developments. The unifying trait in all these widely different narratives is that they all relate to the duties... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology]
Scripture is not an end in itself. Scripture and its interpretation are part of a larger divine economy; Scripture is a witness to God’s action in the world, and faithful interpretation of Scripture by the church is testimony to the continued action of ... [Books] [scripture] [theology]

June 9, 6AM

The identity of Jesus within Scripture is never finally interpreted because it is textually mediated. Second, because it is textually mediated, Christ is not contained within Scripture, but is made known to us through it. Although Scripture’s depiction ... [Books] [hermeneutics] [Holiness] [theology]
The giving of new garments also has a legal significance. The donning of clean garments was the final ceremony in trials such as judicial ordeal, and served as an indication of acquittal and legal purity (Frymer-Kensky 1977: 110). It was a general Near Ea... [ANE religion] [Books]

June 8, 7AM

The Marduk-Ea dialogue seeks to ensure that the incantation of the earthly exorcist comes directly from the gods. When the exorcist declares that “the incantation is not mine”, nothing depends upon his person anymore (Geller 2010: 29). In other words,... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology]
Scripture reveals not only God to us, but us to ourselves, so that we see our need for God. Due to this soteriological context, Paul is not only addressing the Corinthians in his day, but he is addressing all Christians everywhere. To read figurally here ... [Books] [hermeneutics] [scripture]

June 6, 8AM

For Wesley, the knowledge and love of God is the end for which humanity is created, the experience of which is happiness. The renewal of the image is induction into the love of God, and as Dawson says, love is a relation. Jesus’ glory must, for those wh... [Books] [Holiness] [theology] [wesley]

June 3, 8AM

Historical criticism contributes a consciousness to the difference in contexts that creates questions. The key is not to allow that socio- historically derived knowledge of difference to become absolute, a possibility foiled to a degree by the text itself... [Books] [hermeneutics] [theology]

June 1, 11AM

In the Marduk Ordeal, Bel’s fall into the water plunged him into the annual cosmic battle against Tiamat, which took place in the watery realm of the sea or, interchangeably, in the netherworld river Hubur. This imagery is again related to amniotic flui... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun]
Texts are not inert objects acted upon methodologically by a reader who discovers the one correct meaning. Rather, texts have numerous (though not infinite) meanings, what is sometimes referred to as a surplus of meaning. A reader comes to the text from a... [Books] [hermeneutics]
SBL Press has started a blog with recommended changes to SBLHS2. If you are a copyeditor, or an author, this would be a good blog to follow. Here's the URL: Shameless plug:I am maintaining a list of abbreviation updates here. Yes, I'm... [Copyediting] [SBLHS2]

May 29, 7AM

I'm in the process of reading The Overturned Boat right now. I wasn't aware of the following: Birth incantations aid the woman in labour to break free the “boat” from the darkness of womb, to wash out the baby bound by the umbilical cord to the “qua... [ANE History] [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings]

May 27, 7AM

Is that even a word? Oh well, here's some good insight into answering the question: I tap Eco for a variety of reasons. He was among the first theorists to emphasize the reader in a clearly postmodern way, but unlike more radical reader-response theories,... [Books] [hermeneutics] [Idle Musings] [theology]

May 26, 7AM

With the ruled nature of the literal sense in mind we can note, secondly, that interpreting Scripture—again, a means of grace—is not something done for its own sake, but to achieve a particular end. All of Scripture for Wesley participates in a messag... [Books] [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [theology] [wesley]

May 25, 8AM

[Paul Holmer [The Grammar of Faith, 62–68, 90] argues that the desire of theologians for systematic concepts that are more precise than ordinary religious language causes them to create a scientific language, a language of learning that is at a remove; ... [Books] [theology]

May 24, 8AM

Following Protestant tradition, Wesley adhered to the primacy of the literal sense, unless tensions in the text demanded something else; at that point he would allow a “spiritual” or allegorical, reading to circumvent the problem. However, in his sote... [Books] [hermeneutics] [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [wesley]

May 19, 7AM

Scripture is therefore open to all persons seeking salvation through it because it is through Scripture that God addresses them. As a means of grace the literal sense of Scripture is the instrument by which the God who is creator of all reveals both who h... [Books] [gospel] [hermeneutics] [Holiness] [wesley]

May 17, 8AM

"The proper role of the leaders is to obediently carry out YHWH’s instructions according to the divine plan (see esp. Exod 39:32, 43; 40:33b) and witness to what YHWH is doing for the Israelites as he unfolds his covenant promise to be their God (see es... [Books] [theology]


For Wesley the literal sense of Scripture is its soteriological sense. When Wesley reads Scripture, he does so assuming that all of it contributes to the economy of salvation, as was evident in the way he could bring various texts throughout Scripture to ... [hermeneutics] [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [theology] [wesley]

May 16, 11PM

What is interesting is that Wesley does not merely read the verses [of Ps 22] that show up in the New Testament christologically; he sees the entire psalm as a consistently christological text, complete with an evangelical message. Wesley assumes the Old ... [Books] [hermeneutics] [wesley]

May 14, 7PM

"Reference to the תנין [tannin] as the sea monster or sea dragon often occurs in Hebrew texts in the context of creation imagery (e.g., Isa 51:9; Job 7:12; Ps 74:13); the תנין [tannin] represents the forces of chaos and is that which is defeated t... [ANE religion] [Books] [cosmology] [Hebrew] [theology]


Whereas the literal sense, history, and meaning were coterminous in premodern interpretation, in modernism they became sundered, with the result that the words of Scripture became secondary as exegetes began to seek the world “behind” the text in reco... [hermeneutics] [Idle Musings] [theology]

May 13, 6AM

Today a biblical scholar might balk at bringing 1 John to bear on the Genesis narrative for fear of doing violence to the voice of Genesis, at least not without qualification, but Wesley assumes a natural connection. Reference to Matthew while considering... [Books] [hermeneutics] [wesley]

May 11, 7AM

Without God’s gracious movement toward us, we would be dead in sin. Since God has so moved, the means of grace are the channels through which we can participate in the divine life opened to us.— Reading the Way to Heaven, page 57 [Books] [gospel] [Holiness] [wesley]

May 9, 7AM

[J]ustification is what God does for us, removing the guilt of sin; whereas new birth, or regeneration, is what God does in us, renewing our fallen nature. Salvation for Wesley is thus a recovery of the divine image within the heart, also known for him as... [Books] [gospel] [Holiness] [wesley]
Changing our categorization of -(θ)η- from the analogous English counterpart (passive) to a typologically attested middle form alters our view of Greek voice. Instead of seeing it as a passive marker with defective active outliers in an active-passive s... [Books] [grammar] [Greek] [Linguistics]

May 8, 2PM

Middle voice merges the energy source and energy endpoint into one participant. Instead of shifting between two participants to see the effects of the action, the middle gives undivided attention to the energy endpoint. This effectively increases its sali... [Books] [grammar] [Greek] [Linguistics]

May 7, 12 PM

When -(θ)η- was first integrated into the aorist, it involved not just a change or affectedness for the subject, but a complete change of state. If we look back at the two predicate types involved, this includes the telic-transformative lexemes as well ... [Books] [Copyediting] [grammar] [Greek] [Linguistics]

May 5, 7AM

It [prevenient grace] restores 1) a basic knowledge of God, 2) the moral law in the hearts of believers, 3) conscience, 4) a degree of free will, and 5) restraint against wickedness. Humanity is therefore made able once again to enter communion with God, ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [prevenient grace] [theology] [wesley]

May 3, 9AM

We're starting a new book today. It looks interesting; we'll see where it goes as we read it through. Here's the first excerpt, all the way in to page 53; this might be a short excerpt book; some books just don't lend themselves well to excerpting. Grace ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology] [wesley]

May 2, 7AM

We have seen that the biblical cosmos seems to be spoken of as if it were animate—as if rocks and mountains and seas and stars were living creatures. I want to suggest that this emphasis can serve as a helpful corrective to our tendency to view the worl... [Books] [cosmology] [Idle Musings] [theology]
Just ran across a great post by Preston Sprinkle on a theoretical discussion about the old "killer at the door" scenario. Here's a brief excerpt, but please read the whole thing. Me: Okay, so let me get this straight. A preprogrammed robotic human is brea... [gospel] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [theology] [violence]

April 29, 7AM

Taking this approach further still we might perhaps consider evil, when portrayed in terms of watery chaos or sea beasts, as a tendency in creation to move away from being and form towards nothingness. Here I am picking up on Augustine’s teaching that e... [Books] [cosmology] [theology]

April 28, 6AM

At a metaphysical level, the dragon motif also speaks truth. The biblical models of creation picture it as something that left to itself would collapse back into chaos. The world does not sustain itself or order itself. It is God who “in the beginning... [Books] [cosmology] [theology]

April 27, 7AM

It may be concluded that there are three situations in which a human being utters a prayer: 1. A case of actual distress in which a man, on account of the difficult circumstances he is in, addresses himself to a god in an emotional way.2. A wish arising f... [Books] [theology]
It is also worth reminding ourselves that neither biblical nor Ptolemaic cosmologies understood the earth to be the most important part of the cosmos—the heavens took that role. (In fact, contrary to the modern myth, in the Ptolemaic cosmology that domi... [Books] [cosmology] [Idle Musings] [theology]

April 26, 6AM

The relative decrease in the number of present imperatives in the Koine in comparison with Ancient Greek may be explained by two factors. In the first place, the present imperative of transformative (especially instantaneous) verbs is used only and exclus... [Books] [grammar] [Greek] [Language] [Linguistics]
No modern Christian can say with any intellectual integrity that the biblical view is literally correct. It is not. But does that mean that we simply cast it aside as a disposable husk? No. I propose that this biblical view was not merely a phenomenologic... [Books] [cosmology] [theology]

April 25, 7AM

Apart from the present imperatives with a general sense and the present imperatives derived from non-transformative verbs, the present imperative in the Koine seems to be used only when both the speaker and the hearer have fully been informed of the situa... [Books] [grammar] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics]
Here is something important to notice about the stars in the biblical texts that we have been considering. The stars, closely linked with the divine council and with angels, were very clearly located in the sky but not in God’s heaven (they were this si... [Books] [cosmology] [theology]

April 24, 9PM

Wow! BHQ Megillot for $20.00 at CBD! I was checking on the availability of BHQ Genesis when I saw this: [bhq] [Books] [Hebrew]

April 23, 3PM

"Exod 16* shows that through the obedience of Moses and Aaron to YHWH, and in particular in pointing away from themselves to YHWH as responsible for the exodus and as providing the gift of food, the people are brought to the true knowledge of YHWH (“I a... [Books] [gospel] [theology]

April 22, 7AM

In Ancient Greek...many examples of present imperatives derived from verbs expressing motion are to be found. In the Koine literature, however, they are much more conspicuous, because so few present imperatives of other verbs occur. One even gets the impr... [Books] [grammar] [Greek] [Linguistics]
Sin corrupts this human icon of God, making humanity a broken vessel. The story of redemption is, in one important sense, simply the story of the restoration of the divine image in humanity, enabling us to function as bearers of divine glory. Our eschatol... [Books] [cosmology] [theology] [theosis]

April 21, 8AM

In Ancient Greek the choice between present and aorist imperative was altogether subjective. The speaker could use a present imperative not only when from an objective point of view the situation called for a certain action, but also when only in the spea... [Books] [grammar] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics]
Unlike the biblical authors and their original audiences, we cannot take some of their beliefs literally any longer. That option is not open to scientifically literate people. But “beyond the desert of criticism” there is a second naïveté in which t... [Books] [cosmology] [hermeneutics] [Idle Musings] [theology]

April 20, 7AM

The dramatic content of present and aorist imperatives cannot be expressed in general terms. The dramatic content of a form depends entirely on the speaker’s state of mind, in the way he views the existing situation, and varies with the context. The onl... [Books] [grammar] [Greek] [Linguistics]
So the temple is the cosmos writ small. When the priests and the high priest move around the temple performing their sacred duties, they are symbolically moving around the biblical cosmos. This may help explain why the temple was so central to ancient Isr... [Books] [cosmology] [Idle Musings] [theology]

April 19, 12 PM

In Mesopotamian cosmology, the night sky is identical to the netherworld, stemming from an understanding that the celestial sphere steadily rotated from east to west, bringing the heavenly bodies up and down the horizon (Woods 2009: 209). Accordingly, the... [ANE religion] [Books] [cosmology]


The speaker who uses the present imperative sees a connection between the existing situation (as he sees it!) and the action ordered. This means that, on account of the situation, he wants somebody to start performing an action at once. But we should alwa... [Books] [grammar] [Greek] [Linguistics]
A metal or stone image (ṣelem) of a god cannot see or hear or act and so cannot represent the living Jehovah. The only authorized image (selem) of God in Scripture is humanity; thinking, hearing, seeing, speaking, acting humanity, filled with the Spirit... [Books] [cosmology] [Idle Musings] [idolatry] [theology]

April 18, 7AM

There are some cases in which the present imperative is used in a way which is not very easy for us to understand. We have seen that aspect is something subjective and that the speaker often does not see a situation as it actually is, but as he thinks it ... [Books] [grammar] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics]
The paradox fundamental to biblical thinking is that God is present in the temple while transcending the temple. And the same paradox is found on the cosmic scale. God dwells in heaven, but heaven cannot contain God, for in the end heaven is an aspect of ... [Books] [cosmology] [theology]

April 17, 3PM

"No study has ever shown that a diet with a significant amount of animal product-based foods can reverse atherosclerosis—and no study ever will show that. Too much evidence demonstrates the opposite. "Not even a case series of a small number of individu... [food] [Whole Foods]

April 16, 11AM

Jim West just posted a hilarious picture of Jael pegging Sisera (pun intentional). That got me thinking about the current teaching whereby women are to submit to their husbands in all things. The scripture is clear that there was an alliance between Hebe... [hermeneutics] [humor?] [Idle Musings] [theology]

April 15, 9PM

W. Randall Garr (“The Grammar and Interpretation of Exodus 6:3,” JBL 111 (1992): 385–408, esp. 397, 406–8) argues that the name El Shaddai represents a limited or partial aspect of God, known in his promises only, and that YHWH is a more complete ... [Books] [theology]


It goes without saying that an expression which indicates that the speaker assumes a close connection between the situation as he sees it, and the action he orders, sometimes has a very emotional ring. Therefore the present imperative is used especially b... [Books] [grammar] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics]


Heaven is not eternal in the sense that God is. It is, if you will, the dimension of creation that serves as an interface between God and the rest of creation. As such, even though biblical writers will regularly speak of God dwelling in and ruling from h... [ANE religion] [Books] [cosmology] [Idle Musings] [theology]

April 7, 11AM

…a Greek uses a present imperative only when he wants to stress that in his eyes the situation requires immediate action.—The Greek Imperative, page 50 <idle musing>Remember, this is for Classical, not Koine! </idle musing> [Books] [grammar] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics]
First and foremost, Jehovah is never identified with any astral entity nor with their totality. Rather, the sun, moon, and stars are entities created by Jehovah.— The Biblical Cosmos, page 110 <idle musing>Indeed! That is the most essential el... [ANE religion] [Books] [cosmology] [Idle Musings] [theology]

April 6, 6AM

Whether the speaker chooses the present stem or the aorist stem does not depend on a general rule, but only on the state of mind of the speaker. He visualized the situation and the action ordered in some way or other, and he makes his choice accordingly. ... [grammar] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics]
Now there is indeed a very interesting shift in emphasis in biblical literature, when it is compared with other ancient Near Eastern literature, away from a focus on their deity of astral bodies. We shall consider that in a moment. But this shift in empha... [ANE religion] [Books] [cosmology] [theology]

April 5, 7AM

When choosing the present stem [in a negative command], the speaker apparently wants the hearer to understand that he does not agree with the nature and the content of the action that latter is performing, for by this choice he makes it clear that he sees... [Books] [classics] [grammar] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Koine] [Linguistics] [LXX]
The story of the exodus from Egypt can be read as a story of the God-guided journey of Israel from the periphery to the center. Israel was in Egypt, the land of slavery and chaos and death. God delivered them by leading them through the boundary-marking s... [Books] [cosmology] [theology]

April 4, 7AM

OK, tighten your grammatical belts. For the next week or two we'll be excerpting from W. F. Bakker, The Greek Imperative: An investigation into the aspectual differences between the present and aorist imperatives in Greek prayer from Homer up to the prese... [grammar] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics]
In the geography of the ancient Near East, deserts were seen as liminal in-between places representing the zone between civilization and order, on the one hand, and chaos and disorder, on the other; between life, on the one hand, and death, on the other. ... [ANE religion] [Books] [cosmology] [Idle Musings] [theology]

April 1, 7AM

Interestingly the dominion that God gave humanity in Genesis 1 extends to “the fish of the sea,” but no mention is made of the sea itself. That remains beyond human rule. is may explain why the sea never responds to humans in the Bible—it does not o... [Books] [cosmology] [theology]

March 31, 6AM

The prophet Daniel had a disturbing vision in which he saw four great beasts come up out of the sea. Each was composed of the parts of various animals blended in unnatural combinations, and each represented a human political kingdom that was more animalis... [ANE religion] [Books] [cosmology] [theology]

March 30, 7AM

We all know the story of Jesus walking on water. And for most of us it is simply a great show of his power and authority but, truth be told, we don’t really see the point of it. However, Jesus did not actually walk on water. You did read that correctly.... [Books] [cosmology] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [theology]

March 29, 7AM

It is quite possible that the fish was a cosmic sea monster of the kind we have considered above. It is interesting to note that when the Hebrew text was translated into Greek the word chosen to translate dāg was not ichthus (fish), nor enalion (sea cre... [Books] [cosmology] [Idle Musings] [theology]

March 28, 6AM

The sea was Pharaoh’s weapon against Israel, blocking their escape. But Jehovah turned that weapon back against Egypt. God defeated the sea by controlling it, and in so doing defeated Egypt. The exodus is spoken of here in terms of an act of creation. T... [Books] [cosmology] [theology]
While we take some of the steps above and are convinced we are 
following God’s call, we must never demonize our Christian brothers and sisters whose views about guns are the polar opposite of our own. We must never claim we are closer to God than the... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [theology]

March 27, 7AM

Easter thought: Isn't it significant that Jesus was crucified on Passover and not Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)? To listen to some people's theology, you would think that Jesus was crucified on the Day of Atonement, but he wasn't. Think about that for a m... [gospel] [theology]

March 26, 8AM

Piled Higher and Deeper seems especially relevant today: [Just for Fun]

March 25, 7AM

The significance of the flood story is that it is told as a story of the undoing of Genesis 1, as a move towards de-creation. God is unraveling the separations he had put in place between the waters above and the waters below, and between the land and the... [Books] [cosmology] [Genesis] [theology]
In 2010, my state and others passed laws that permit gun owners to take their weapons into bars and other places that serve alcohol provided they do not drink. (And just why is it people go to bars?) I wonder why some pastors in Virginia and elsewhere are... [Books] [gospel] [Gun culture] [theology]

March 24, 6AM

The story of Noah’s flood is a story in which the waters of chaos were no longer held at bay and the world ended! Modern people struggle making sense of the story because we cannot understand how there could be a global flood in which the tops of the hi... [Books] [cosmology] [Genesis] [theology]
I hope I’m wrong, but I sense within many churches a kind of dumbing down on God’s command to love God and neighbor today. I’ve seen too many churches that are governed by a kind of creeping sentimentalism that pretends to be love. Are we permitting... [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology]

March 23, 8AM

From the final chapter in the forthcoming The Greek Verb Revisited. This chapter is contributed by Geoffrey Horrocks: Another crucial issue is the long-term disinclination of those who study Greek in different institutional environments to communicate eff... [Books] [grammar] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics]


This balance between the conflict and the no-conflict motifs is important. In terms of the way that the biblical material was compiled and organized into a canonical whole, the no-conflict Genesis 1 story is placed first and becomes the lens through which... [Books] [cosmology] [Genesis] [theology]
The most pathetic words I ever hear are from people who listen to the innumerable ways the Gun Empire deceives us and perpetuates murder and mayhem, only to sigh: “The only thing we can do is pray.” That is code for “there is nothing we can do.” W... [Books] [Gun culture] [theology]

March 22, 6AM

Chaos monsters pose no problem for Jehovah. Indeed, they are his servants. The famous Genesis 1 creation story tells the tale of creation without seeing God engaging in any combat with monsters. Now there may well be echoes of the monsters in Genesis 1. W... [Books] [cosmology] [Genesis]
Can we get our sophisticated twenty-first-century minds around that image of the triumphant Lamb of God, who “was led to the slaughter and did not open his mouth” (Isa 53:7)? Can we envision all the idols of power and deadly force lying silently at th... [Books] [gospel] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [theology]

March 21, 7AM

In the context of a world surrounded by water those Bible passages celebrating God’s setting of boundaries for the sea make sense. The sea was dangerous and should God ever stop holding these chaotic waters at bay the world would collapse.— The Bi... [ANE religion] [Books] [cosmology] [Idle Musings] [myth] [theology]


To enhance its image the Gun Empire boasts of pure American values, yet preaches insurrection and plots the overthrow of a democratically elected government. It asks to be approached as one of the great religions of the world, yet lies to the American pub... [Books] [Gun culture] [idolatry] [violence]

March 18, 7AM

When violence and guns are destroying the character and moral fiber of our nation, it is of infinite importance that the faith community wake up and boldly negate the nonsense that is noised that guns do not kill and the answer to gun violence is more gun... [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [idolatry] [theology] [violence]
Every American today lives on the slippery slope of gun violence and each of us is endangered because public safety is not a national priority. Many Americans are armed with powerful guns and shoot their fellow citizens with increasing regularity. The tot... [Books] [Gun culture] [idolatry] [violence]

March 16, 6AM

Enough people believe more guns will resolve human conflicts to make this country the most dangerous in the developed world. With 300 million guns in private hands and three million more coming off our assembly lines every year, our citizens are armed and... [Books] [Gun culture] [idolatry] [violence]

March 15, 6PM

Ronald Blankenborg, “The Grammarized Suggestion of Proximity or Distance,” in The Greek Verb: Morphology, Syntax, and Semantics, suggests that the use of the aorist imperative vs. present imperative is related to “the hearer’s immediate and accura... [grammar] [Greek] [Linguistics]


Violence is the ethos of our times. It is the spirituality of the modern world. It is accorded the status of a religion, demanding from its devotees an absolute obedience to death. Its followers are not aware, however, that the devotion they pay to violen... [Books] [Idle Musings] [idolatry] [theology] [violence]

March 14, 6PM

Those who live in the mountains are most aware that every mountaintop has more than one slope. The purpose of this book is to alert people of faith and others of good will of another slippery slope on which we are living today and it is far more dangerous... [Books] [gospel] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [pacifism] [theology] [violence]
In the six years and nine months since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, through December 2009, 4,400 American servicemen and women lost their lives. In the same timeframe approximately 202,500 Americans lost their lives through gun violence on our... [Books] [Gun culture] [violence]

March 11, 7AM

For decades church folk pleaded with elected leaders to enact balanced legislation, but they turned a deaf ear. They listened only to those whose guns had become idols and whose checks made it into their coffers. They believed supporting any restriction o... [Books] [Gun culture] [idolatry] [theology] [violence]
The United States Congress is presently in sync with a small, extreme minority of gun owners, who along with manufacturers, distributors, and dealers, consider any regulation on guns, no matter how wise, to be a denial of gun rights. Our Congress is out o... [Books] [Gun culture]

March 10, 8AM

I concede that stories of stopping a crime are more compelling. They are like an account of our Navy SEALs killing Osama bin Laden. People hear these accounts and they are energized; they want to cheer, “guns save lives.” On the other hand when people... [Books] [gospel] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [theology] [violence]

March 9, 8AM

At a mass shooting, the only germane question is how. How were thirty-two people killed and fifty-seven injured in just a few minutes? How was Cho able to follow through with this despicable crime? The answer is very simple: this terribly sick young man w... [Books] [Gun culture] [theology] [violence]

March 8, 7AM

Who cares if the gun fighter in the Old West was a figment of the imagination? Who cares if the infamous Wild West was actually the birthplace of strict gun control laws? Garry Wills writes, “Far from the gun being the tamer of the West, the West had to... [Books] [gospel] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [theology]

March 7, 8AM

Over 50 percent of guns found at crime scenes are traced to only 1 percent of gun dealers. This reveals two important facts: Most gun dealers are honest and obey federal and state laws and would decline a profitable sale if they were aware of illegality. ... [Books] [Gun culture]

March 4, 12 PM

Ted Gossard has summed up my feelings about this election year wonderfully well: I am reticent to write on American politics for a good number of reasons. But the current debacle in the election process to the upcoming November 2016 presidential election ... [gospel] [Idle Musings] [idolatry] [theology]


On November 26 (Thanksgiving Day), I flew into Duluth on my return from AAR/SBL and drove home to Grand Marais. Since that day, 14 weeks ago, I have driven the car a total of 4 miles; I needed to get something from the Ace Hardware east of town and it was... [Idle Musings] [walking]


The gun lobby will loudly proclaim that gun control will never work because “the criminals will always get their guns and good law abiding people will be always at their mercy.” To the contrary, keeping guns out of dangerous hands does work, not only ... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [idolatry] [theology] [violence]

March 3, 8AM

A gun kept in the home for protection is at least 11 times more likely to kill or wound a family member or friend, or be stolen and used in a crime, than it is to stop an intruder.—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 
162 [Books] [Gun culture] [idolatry] [violence]

March 2, 7AM

When all murders of civilians in all the developed countries of the world are tabulated, 86 percent occur in the United States.—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 
160 In the United States, we register births, marriages, divorces, an... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [idolatry] [violence]

March 1, 8AM

The Consumer Protection Act of 1972 prohibits the Consumer Protection Commission from examining the quality or safety of any gun or any piece of ammunition. Teddy bears, dolls, and toy guns must pass four sets of strict regulations before they can be sold... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [idolatry]

February 29, 7AM

She whose mind and heart are captured by a finite thing or idea can see only that which enhances her right to serve it and to follow wherever it leads. The free person, on the other hand, is able to see other’s rights and, to at least some degree, “wa... [Books] [gospel] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [idolatry] [theology]

February 26, 8AM

Christians believe that God calls a person to freedom and stipulates there are no restrictions or restraints whatsoever on one’s call to love. Freedom is directed to the other. “You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters, only do not use your fr... [Books] [gospel] [Gun culture] [theology]
I believe Americans demonstrate their ultimate power through ballots, not bullets, and our national genius was found in the free and open exchange of public discourse and debate, not in disparaging our institutions of government or taking up arms to fight... [Books] [Gun culture] [idolatry] [violence]

February 24, 7AM

The Gun Empire is not a defender of basic American values. Its mantra is that if the government does not agree with its understanding of freedom, then it will have no other recourse than to take down the government with stockpiled guns. Should this sound ... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [idolatry] [violence]

February 23, 9AM

I once had a conversation with a man who loved his guns. I asked, “Don’t you have any concern or compassion for the thirty thousand people who die every year by guns?” He responded: “That’s the price we have to pay for our freedom. Freedom is no... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [idolatry] [theology]

February 22, 9AM

There's a great post over at Missio Alliance taking a look at what Ambrose (340–397 AD) thought about violence and Christianity. By all means, read the whole thing; he doesn't offer any easy answers because there aren't any, but he comes down on the sid... [Church History] [Idle Musings] [pacifism] [theology] [violence]


Prolonging the reign of absurd laws to uphold the mantra of gun rights exists only in America and requires the blood of the innocent and the most vulnerable. When five persons are hospitalized in the Southwest with e coli found in spinach, the government ... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [idolatry] [theology] [violence]

February 19, 7AM

Richard Shaull reminds us that when guns are made absolutes, an abstract entity that cannot give life to people takes on an existence of its own and becomes an end in itself. When this takes place concern for what happens to women and men has secondary im... [Books] [Gun culture] [idolatry] [theology] [violence]

February 18, 8AM

Among the writings of then-NRA board member Jeff Cooper’s monthly column in Guns and Ammo is his comment on the murder rate in Los Angeles. He wrote, “The consensus is that no more than five to ten people in a hundred who die by gun fire in Los Angele... [Books] [Gun culture] [theology]

February 17, 8AM

Between 82 and 84 Americans, ten of whom are children and youth under eighteen, are killed every day by guns in America and nothing is done to prevent them. Who or what does our nation consider to be of greater value than they? Are they slain for altruist... [Books] [gospel] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [idolatry] [pacifism]

February 16, 7AM

Idols of power and deadly force have bequeathed to us a different kind of America. In my childhood many Americans never locked their doors, they took walks and sat on their porches at night; children played in their neighborhoods after dark in the city. W... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [idolatry] [theology]

February 15, 8AM

Rather than offering a vision of community in which we are bound together by our common humanity, reverence for guns teaches two paradoxical emotions: omnipotence and fear. Omnipotence as one feels the thrill of being in charge and able to dominate others... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [theology]

February 14, 8AM

Saw this last night (via By Faith We Understand) The prosperity gospel has taken a religion based on the contemplation of a dying man and stripped it of its call to surrender all. Perhaps worse, it has replaced Christian faith with the most painful forms ... [gospel] [Idle Musings] [scripture] [theology]

February 12, 7AM

When guns become idols and life seems too dangerous to be without them, one’s ability to reason, cherish community, love neighbors, and depend on God for security are often surrendered. One does not think about such things as cause and effect or the val... [Books] [Gun culture] [idolatry]

February 11, 7AM

Tom Diaz says the firearm is less a utilitarian tool than an icon, so laden with implicit values its hold over its devotees approaches the mystical. In this context, guns are not simply mechanical devices to be used as means to such ends as self-defense, ... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [idolatry]

February 10, 8AM

An individual who says yes to God is transformed and is blessed with a new way of looking at life, a new understanding of oneself and his world, and he must reorder his attitudes and priorities. A conversion also takes place in the life of one who believe... [Books] [Gun culture] [Holiness] [theology]

February 9, 3PM

Linguistics comes close to satisfying a definition once proposed for philosophy: the systematic misuse of a technical vocabulary invented for that purpose—Cognitive Grammar: A Basic Introduction, 269 n. 10 [Books] [Linguistics]


If your child is invited to play in a neighbor’s home, please, please inquire if they have a gun. If they do, parents must then ask if the gun is locked up. If there is an unlocked gun in your neighbor’s home, it is not safe for your child to play the... [Books] [Gun culture] [violence]

February 8, 7AM

Carnegie’s metamorphosis from farmboy to salesman to public-speaking icon is also the story of the rise of the Extrovert Ideal. Carnegie’s journey reflected a cultural evolution that reached a tipping point around the turn of the twentieth century, ch... [Books] [Idle Musings]

February 5, 9AM

Eisenbrauns has used this (adapted) Assyrian image for many years. I figured I should post it here, what with the sudden popularity of the "Greek computer" image out there...


There is one indisputable fact that must be taken into consideration by leaders in statehouses and in houses of worship. Wherever guns are in abundance, cumulative deaths by those guns will surely follow. There are more guns in America’s Southland than ... [Books] [Gun culture] [violence]

February 4, 7AM

Trusting that the most powerful semi-automatic handgun or assault weapon will calm one’s nerves or bring peace of mind is destined to disappoint. Instruments of death are incapable of bestowing peace of mind and security. They provide only a “controll... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [idolatry] [Shalom] [theology] [violence]

February 3, 8AM

When God is trusted there is always more; when an object made with human hands is trusted, there is always less. That’s a dilemma, particularly for the idols of power and deadly force. People place too much trust in them. People expect too much of finit... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [idolatry] [violence]

February 2, 12 PM

All idols that have ever been placed on a pedestal, literally or figuratively, have the same problem—keeping their promises. Think of all the promises a defensive gun pledges its owner: power, protection, self-confidence, self-determination, security, s... [Books] [Gun culture] [idolatry] [theology]

February 1, 8AM

Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his acceptance speech in 1970 for the Nobel Prize for Literature, said, “Let us not forget that violence does not live alone and is not capable of living alone: it is necessarily interwoven with falsehood. Violence finds its on... [Books] [Gun culture] [theology] [violence]
It’s a dead end street to argue why America needs to produce bigger and better guns. It’s un-American not to have new models coming off assembly lines, whether they are from air-conditioners to pickup trucks, to new handguns. The Gun Empire can easily... [Books] [Gun culture] [theology]

January 31, 9AM

Interesting item I just ran across in editing The Greek Verb Revisited. This is from Stephen Levinsohn's contribution on periphrastics: Both imperfectives [imperfect and periphrastic] occur in Acts 12:5 (ὁ μὲν οὖν Πέτρος ἐτηρεῖτο... [grammar] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics] [Prayer] [theology]

January 29, 8AM

The most likely person to do us harm already has a key to the house. Strangers or criminals do not commit most of America’s murders and assaults; they are committed by family members, friends, and acquaintances, who, in acts of passion, turn to the inst... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [idolatry] [theology]

January 28, 8AM

I’m convinced at least part of the reason why so many of us place faith in guns is related to the decline of cohesive, homogenous communities where everybody knew one another. It has been said, “We used to be a people who depended on our neighbors and... [Books] [gospel] [Gun culture]
God did not create us to live in the prisons of fear of our own making. God made us for life abundant and for joy, love, and peace. The good news is we are not condemned to live in fear. The Christian hope for salvation and God’s promise to build a Peac... [Books] [gospel] [Gun culture]

January 27, 8AM

To keep us safe from threats of enemies near and far is the rationale behind the commissioning of more aircraft carriers and submarines, building more sophisticated jet fighters, refurbishing more nuclear bombs, and selling billions of dollars of armament... [Books] [gospel] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [theology] [violence]

January 26, 11PM

With advancing years, I’ve come to believe that the most fearful thing in the world is a strong country that is afraid.—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 86 [gospel] [Gun culture] [theology]
The greatest strength of the idols of power and deadly force is their ability to create fear in the human heart by deceiving those who are afraid. When people are controlled by their fears, those who are different are seen as dangerous. Each of us has exp... [Books] [gospel] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [idolatry] [theology]

January 25, 8AM

I once debated an Orthodox Presbyterian clergyman whose devotion to firearms was as strong as his faith in Jesus Christ. The reverend’s beliefs were based on the idea that God ordained the man to be the head of the household and it is his duty, not only... [Books] [gospel] [Gun culture] [theology] [violence]

January 22, 9AM

To believe in God is to gamble that truth is more powerful than lies. Lies cannot last forever because they dishonor God and are an affront to God’s people. When people discover they have been lied to and manipulated by powerful elites they grow angry. ... [Books] [Gun culture] [idolatry] [theology]

January 21, 12 PM

From The Greek Verb Revisited (forthcoming): The traditional view of the augment as a past tense marker is also more plausible from a historical point of view. An attractive etymology of the augment is that it goes back to a PIE distal deictic (first spat... [Books] [grammar] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics]

January 20, 8AM

I'm reading through, almost as a devotional, Zondervan's delightful little book I (Still) Believe. I hit this one last night, and it was a real "aha!" moment: A group of Korean women and I were gathered around the text of Judges 4–5. They were quite app... [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology]


The idols of power and deadly force command immense “spiritual influence” over those who are tricked into believing that power and deadly force are essential for reconciliation between nations and for solving human conflicts here at home. Americans ha... [Books] [Gun culture] [theology]

January 19, 8AM

Just read a very good review (of an Eisenbrauns book) over at Jesus Creed. I gotta read the book now—and the Greek novella Ephesiaca, too (here's a link to the Greek text on Perseus). Ephesiaca gives us a window into Ephesian life, the cult of Artemis, ... [Books] [Eisenbrauns] [Idle Musings]
The principalities and powers are the super-patriots of our day and claim the highest of human values such as democracy, freedom, and our American way of life. They extol wealth, privilege, and power in the name of God and all that is virtuous. Their grea... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [theology]

January 18, 8AM

Americans are not meaner or more violent than citizens of Europe, China, or Japan. They too are fascinated with violence. They watch the same violent movies, engage in violent sports, play the same video games, sell the same kinds of toys, read the same c... [Books] [Gun culture]
Redemptive violence is an attractive but idolatrous trust that weapons and tools of violence can be the means of shalom for nations and individuals, that ultimate good can come from the barrels of our weapons. Jesus reminded us: that which we sow, we reap... [Books] [gospel] [Gun culture] [theology]

January 15, 7AM

Leaders in faith communities must understand the compelling temptation to feel powerful and in charge. The violence of today’s movies and video games, dramatic explosions, the pin-point accuracy of an air-strike from a jet or helicopter, an attack by a ... [Books] [gospel] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [pacifism] [theology] [violence]

January 14, 7AM

The Gun Empire spreads the myth that those with CCWP [Concealed-carry weapons permit] are society’s most trustworthy citizens and its best defense against dangerous individuals. Between 1996 and 2000, the Violence Policy Center examined those assertions... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [theology]

January 13, 8AM

The myth of redemptive violence is nationalism become absolute. This myth speaks for God; it does not listen for God to speak. It invokes the sovereignty of God as its own; it does not entertain the prophetic possibility of radical denunciation and negati... [Books] [Gun culture] [idolatry] [theology]

January 12, 8AM

Redemptive violence is tough-minded. It understands that the evil in the world must be confronted and controlled. The spirit of redemptive violence must be obeyed because we have enemies who are out to destroy us. The cartoon character Pogo was famous for... [Books] [gospel] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [theology] [violence]

January 11, 9AM

Reading usually proceeds from a written record. The written record of [Ta], however, is obviously not quite identical with [Ta] itself, since most writing systems, the Hebrew script included, only partially encode the information by which texts are determ... [Books] [Linguistics] [reading] [theology]


As the Gun Empire shouts “Guns save lives” they tell us their first priority is not to love their neighbor, but to defend themselves against their neighbor, and if the situation demands it, to kill him.—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose... [Books] [Gun culture] [theology]
Does our fascination with violence today stem from the Gun Empire, which spews out millions of efficient handguns that can shoot dozens of rounds in a few seconds and penetrate bulletproof vests? Or does our faith in violence come from the military Indust... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [theology]

January 8, 9AM

My purpose in writing about our dark side is not to heap scorn upon the country I love, but rather to encourage the church of Jesus Christ to dig deep and examine where our penchant for violence comes from, and to ask why we place such great confidence in... [Books] [gospel] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [Metaphors We Live By] [theology] [violence]

January 7, 8AM

Infatuation with our power is still alive and well among us, and most of us have not even considered the possibility that this is hubris and that fixation on our power might in the long run carry with it enormous risks for our long-term security. Presiden... [Books] [gospel] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings]

January 6, 8AM

Why do American people need such enormous levels of firepower in both weapons of war and domestic handguns? Why do we need extended magazines for semi-automatic weapons filled with cop-killer bullets to penetrate so-called bulletproof vests? Why do law-ab... [Books] [gospel] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [theology]

January 5, 8AM

There is little doubt that America’s readiness to use violence to keep our nation and/or our homes safe and secure, stems from our confidence that “we are a Christian nation” and a good and generous people whose motives are beyond reproach. Such sel... [Books] [Gun culture] [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [theology] [violence] [wesley]

January 4, 8AM

Violence is the ethos of our times. It is the spirituality of the modern world. It has been accorded the status of a religion, demanding from its devotees an absolute obedience to death. Its followers are not aware, however, that the devotion they pay to ... [Books] [Gun culture] [theology]


More American citizens were killed with guns in the eighteen-year period between 1979 and 1997 (651,697) than all servicemen and women killed in battle in all of the United States’ wars since 1775 (650,858).—America and Its Guns: A Theological Exp... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [Jesus Movement] [theology]

January 1, 8AM

I challenge us all to think about the words we use in daily conversation and to remove the most violent from our vocabularies. We could take some risks and call attention to one another’s use of violent words and phrases. If we confess our own struggles... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [Metaphors We Live By] [theology]

December 31 2015, 10AM

Great post on the early Christian view on war over at Christianity Today's Books and Culture section. Read the whole thing, but here's a brief summary: Indeed, there is very little basis in the texts for describing the early Christian view as "divided an... [Books] [Church History] [Idle Musings] [pacifism]


I’m convinced the inflammatory language of talk show hosts have caused the rise of armed militias in America, which have tripled in number in 2009, growing 245 percent. In March of last year [2011] nine members of the “Christian militia” in Michigan... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [idolatry]

December 30, 9AM

[After a 2 ½ page listing of gun-related slang, the author says this:] Colloquial British English has but a few words and phrases that refer to guns, violence, and killing. I’ve been told neither the French nor the Spanish languages employ such a large... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [Metaphors We Live By] [theology]

December 29, 7AM

Some act as if violence is only an incidental facet of human personality and like a light switch, we can turn it on or off, depending on our needs or whims. Not so. Violence is a pervasive spirit that touches and affects everything we do and everything we... [Books] [gospel] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [theology]

December 28, 9AM

We do not like excessive violence, but we enjoy violence lite. It makes life more exciting. I plead guilty to being fascinated with it. I’m a regular voyeur. And you? Do you watch crime movies on television? Is there a connection between violence lite a...

December 25, 7AM

“The Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed: "The Lord! The Lord! a God who is compassionate and merciful, very patient, full of great loyalty and faithfulness, showing great loyalty to a thousand generations, forgiving every kind of sin and rebelli... [gospel]

December 24, 9AM

For many, to watch the violence is not a problem. I know two young men who were in a game store when an irate grandmother tried to return a copy of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which she purchased for her ten-year-old grandson. When she discovered it co... [Books] [theology] [violence]

December 23, 11AM

“No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organised in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.”—Peter Drucker [Peter Drucker]


In Europe, such movies [previews that contain violence] are rated X because of violence. In the United States, an X-rated movie contains profanity or implicit or explicit sex. We are disturbed if our youngsters are exposed prematurely to sexuality on the ... [Books] [violence]

December 22, 7AM

I recently led a series of studies on Gun Violence and Gospel Values in adult education classes at five different churches in the Greater Washington area. I often began the sessions by asking, “Do you like violence?” In each instance, there was a prov... [Books] [gospel] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [theology] [violence]

December 21, 7AM

The front page of any major newspaper is full of violence or threats of future violence. Ben Bradlee, editor of the Washington Post is reputed to have said, “We don’t cover safe landings at Dulles Airport.” What then makes it into our papers? In spi... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [just peacemaking] [Shalom] [theology]

December 19, 8AM

What we really want from science is an end to randomness. We want to know why diseases strike some people and not others. We want to know how to protect ourselves against the scourges that have our hame on them. We want, in short, to banish unpredictabili... [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology] [Whole Foods]

December 18, 8AM

Humanity is never limited in its choice of idols. In every generation people have bowed down and worshiped everything on earth, including themselves, stones, flowers, trees, streams, wells, oceans, and animals. Yet, they have never really worshiped anythi... [Books] [Gun culture] [idolatry] [theology]
“That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our life and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming.”— Ralph Waldo Emerson as quoted in America a... [Books] [idolatry]

December 17, 9AM

A god means that from which we are to expect all good and to which we are to take refuge in all distress, so that to have a God is nothing else than to trust and believe Him from the [whole] heart; as I have often said that the confidence and faith of the... [Books] [Church History] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [theology]

December 16, 8AM

I define America’s idolatry with guns as a confrontational belief system based on acquiring power over others. The system is buttressed by a fascination for and devotion to the violence guns provide. Those who believe need guns to prove to themselves an... [Books] [gospel] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [theology]

December 15, 8AM

I believe a gun becomes an idol when the following conditions prevail:1. An owner believes there are no circumstances when a regulation or restriction for public safety should be placed upon it.2. An owner believes that guns don’t kill; they only save l... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [idolatry]

December 14, 9AM

Not for one minute do I believe all guns are idols, but I do believe some guns are idols. I’d never say all gun owners are idolatrous, but I insist some gun owners are. I don’t use the words “idol” and “idolatry” to be melodramatic, only accur...
In the mid-sixties the Presbyterian Church began calling the nation’s attention to the gun violence that was tearing apart our inner cities. In 1990, they issued a warning: “The religious community must take seriously the risk of idolatry that could r... [Books] [Gun culture] [theology]

December 11, 9AM

I was blind to the truth that Upton Sinclair shared with the world years before: “It is very difficult to get someone to understand something when his salary, or his power (italics mine) is dependent on not understanding it.” For the church to ask Con... [Books] [gospel] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [theology]

December 10, 8AM

Church folk should be aware that those who resent any organized restraints on their personal power, wealth, or control, however they are expressed, are skilled in introducing both of the concepts inherent in the words “political” and “spiritual” t... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [theology]
This is a guest post by Daniel Bradley. He originally posted it on Facebook in response to my posting a link to the excerpt on Tuesday. One of the most difficult aspects of Christianity—one with which Christians in every era have struggled (includ... [Gun culture] [pacifism] [theology]

December 9, 9AM

If the city council announced an adult book and video store had applied for a business license close to the church and high school, would the elder gather the congregation for a prayer meeting? Would the elder merely pray that the owner of the porn shop w... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [theology]

December 8, 9AM

There are political dimensions whenever guns are discussed, but what happens in society because of guns makes them a profound spiritual concern that must be dealt with by people of faith. In spite of the metaphysical rhetoric to the contrary, guns actuall... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [theology]

December 7, 8AM

Ohhh!! Book lust! Just ran across this in a book I'm editing:Sievers' Law and the History of Semivowel Syllabicity in Indo-European and Ancient GreekP. J. BarberOxford Classical MonographsHardcoverPublished: 28 January 2014464 PagesISBN: 9780199680504This... [Books] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Libraries] [Linguistics]


Though I own guns, I do not believe they should be exempt from safety requirements, wise regulation, and restrictions. Guns are made to kill. America has an abominable record of balancing an individual’s right to have a gun with the public’s inalienab... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings]

December 5, 9AM

Gun violence is not so much a political or social problem as it is a spiritual problem, and God’s people must be in the lead of the moral and ethical struggle for the soul of America—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page xvii (emphasis ... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [theology]

December 4, 8AM

If our nation finally decides to save thousands of lives every year by reducing gun violence, it will be because a sleeping spiritual giant is waking up and realizes God is calling it to name and unmask the idols of power and deadly force that are perpetu... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [theology]

December 3, 9AM

U.S. exceptionalism, in turn, requires not only a strong military force, but a military ideology that gives privilege to military adventurism and military personnel, and that assures limitless funding for such adventurism that is deeply engrained in machi... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [theology]

December 2, 8AM

"The report says that on Black Friday, November 25, 2011, more handguns were sold in the United States than on any previous single day in U.S. history. That datum might produce staggering dismay, for it indicates a level of fear and anxiety, posturing pow... [Books] [Gun culture] [Idle Musings] [idolatry]

December 1, 8AM

When returned to the context of human activity in general, so-called ritual acts must be seen first in terms of what they share with all activity, then in terms of how they set themselves off from other practices. Ritualization is fundamentally a way of d... [Books] [Idle Musings] [ritual] [theology]

November 30, 9AM

I was reading in Psalms this morning, specifically Psalm 51, and it occurred to me: What is the first thing you think of when someone mentions David and Bathsheba? Do you think of the adultery? Or do you think of the death of Uriah the Hittite, her husban... [Idle Musings] [pacifism] [Psalms] [theology]


Ritualization both implies and demonstrates a relatively unified corporate body, often leading participants to assume that there is more consensus than there actually is. It leads all to mistake the minimal consent of its participants for an underlying co... [Books] [Idle Musings] [ritual]

November 28, 10AM

Remember those old public service announcement from the late 20th century? You know, the ones with the hot frying pan and they would say, "This is your brain." Then they would drop an egg into it and say, "This is your brain on drugs." Well, here's a mode... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun]


As you know, I recently returned from the annual AAR/SBL meetings, this year in Atlanta (you can read about my trip there and back again). Over the years, I've noticed a distinct trend in the use of exercise equipment in the conference hotels. When I fir... [AAR/SBL] [food] [Idle Musings] [Whole Foods]

November 25, 11AM

November 22, 7PM

Great post by Preston Sprinkle—actually it's a paper he recently presented at ETS—entitled "A Case for Christocentric Nonviolence" (he doesn't like the word "pacifist"). Here's a small snippet, but do read the whole thing If Jesus does not walk out o... [gospel] [Idle Musings] [pacifism]

November 19, 6PM

I just rolled in from Indiana with a van load of goodies! Tomorrow we set up. My luggage was indeed waiting for me when I got to the airport in Fort Wayne, so all is good there. Now I'm heading over to the exhibit hall to see what I can see...more later! ... [AAR/SBL] [Books] [Idle Musings]

12 AM

Well, I finally got into Warsaw, coming via South Bend airport. But my luggage went to Fort Wayne! I'll have to pick it up tomorrow on my way through to Atlanta. For those of you just joining us, I am on my way to the annual AAR/SBL meeting in Atlanta. I'... [AAR/SBL] [Eisenbrauns] [Idle Musings]

November 18, 9AM

Wuthnow has explored what he calls the "ritual aspects" of left-hand turn signals and the mass viewing of the television series "Holocaust." Given the analysis advanced in this chapter, however, the first case is not one of ritualized activities, merely r... [Books] [Idle Musings] [ritual]
I've been blogging for over 10 years now; I started in October, 2005. In those days, blogs were still considered controversial for academics and I wasn't sure how well my blogging would be received by Eisenbrauns' customers. Because of that, I just put it... [Copyediting] [Eisenbrauns] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun] [MacArthur House Cabins]

November 17, 8AM

[R]itualization involves the differentiation and privileging of particular activities. Theoretically, these activities may differentiate themselves by a variety of features; in practice, some general tendencies are obvious. For example, these activities m... [Books] [Idle Musings] [ritual] [theology]

November 16, 9AM

Life has settled down a bit, so I'm getting some time to read again, consequently, I think I'll start posting some Tozer. Let's start with some excerpts from The Dangers of a Shallow Faith. So, my Christian friend, if you are settling back, snuggling into... [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology] [tozer]
Any ideology is always in dialogue with, and thus shaped and constrained by, the voices it is suppressing, manipulating, echoing. In other words, ideologies exist only in concrete historical forms and in specific relations to other ideologies. Similarly, ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [ritual] [theology]

November 12, 8AM

Despite the evidence for the ambiguous, unstable, and inconsistent nature of belief systems, recent literature persists in the view that ritual has an important social function with regard to inculcating belief.— Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice, page... [Books] [Idle Musings] [ritual]

November 11, 9AM

These studies give evidence for the ambiguity and instability of beliefs and symbols as well as the inability of ritual to control by virtue of any consensus based on shared beliefs. They also suggest that ritualized activities specifically do not promote... [Books] [Idle Musings] [ritual]

November 10, 9AM

Hinduism for Hindus is not a coherent belief system but, first and foremost, a collection of practices. It is the collection of practices as such that needs to be explored further in order to understand their sense of religious action. Converse's conclusi... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [ritual] [theology]

November 9, 9AM

In addition to the evidence for the fundamental ambiguity of symbols, there is also evidence that religious beliefs are relatively unstable and unsystematic for most people. Instead of well-formulated beliefs, most religions are little more than "collecti... [Books] [Idle Musings] [ritual] [theology]

November 6, 10AM

In brief, it is my general thesis here that ritualization, as a strategic mode of action effective within certain social orders, does not, in any useful understanding of the words, 'control' individuals or society. Yet ritualization is very much concerned... [Books] [Idle Musings] [ritual] [theology]

November 5, 8PM

I upgraded to OS X El Capitan the other day. Ever since, I haven't been able to get the Character Viewer (they renamed it Emoji & Symbols) to show. At first it just wouldn't show if I was in Word; I was still able to get it to show when I was in TextEdit,... [Computer woes] [Copyediting] [Idle Musings]


Actually, 13 days. Thirteen days until I leave the glorious promised land of the North Shore for the delightful experience of wallowing in a sea of books at the annual carnival that is AAR/SBL. Two weeks from yesterday I fly out of Duluth, heading for Win... [AAR/SBL] [Books] [Eisenbrauns sales] [Idle Musings]
A textually constituted tradition must continually and simultaneously create both the gap and the authority structures that can bridge it. Goody suggests that priestly control of literacy and sacred texts promotes the codification and standardization of '... [Books] [Idle Musings] [ritual] [theology]

November 3, 1PM

Once we accept that we must “do” theological scholarship coram deo, as an inescapable fact, our entire paradigm shifts. We encounter a call to the very subject matter that is a personal other. This leads us to continual reflection and self-criticism: ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Job] [Prayer] [theology]

November 2, 8AM

Some features appear to be basic to systems of ritual specialists with or without literacy. Most obvious, of course, is how their authority rests on the intrinsic importance of ritual as a means of mediating the relations between humans and nonhuman power... [Books] [ritual] [theology]

October 30, 8AM

As a young student, I shook my head when reading how St. Augustine would interject prayers into his exegetical writings. Is this not bad scholarship? Based on my understanding of the book of Job today I would say: No! This is the very foundation that allo... [augustine] [Books] [Eisenbrauns] [Idle Musings] [Job] [Kinlaw] [Prayer] [theology]

October 29, 12 PM

Thus I come to the conclusion, based on an analysis of the Masoretic Text and supported by the ancient versions, that God does not praise a specific statement made by Job (neither the patient sufferer of the beginning, the passionate rebel of the middle s... [Books] [Eisenbrauns] [Idle Musings] [theology]


Theories that have defined ritual activity as first and foremost the reenactment of historical or mythical precedents, such as those formulated by Eliade, risk a certain blindness to a group's constant reinterpretation of what constitutes these precedents... [Books] [Idle Musings] [ritual] [theology]

October 28, 7AM

Well, we closed the cabins for the season (our third with Max & Sherri, fourth overall) on Monday. The last guests left Monday morning and we began the chores of shutting down for the year. The most important (and usually urgent) task is draining the wate... [Idle Musings] [MacArthur House Cabins]


What does ritualization see? It is a way of acting that sees itself as responding to a place, event, force, problem, or tradition. It tends to see itself as the natural or appropriate thing to do in the circumstances. Ritualization does not see how it act... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [ritual] [theology]

October 27, 7AM

Ritual practices are produced with an intent to order, rectify, or transform a particular situation. Ritualized agents would see these purposes. They would not see what they actually do in ritually ordering, rectifying, or transforming the situation. Fouc... [Books] [ritual] [theology]

October 23, 1PM

From a book I'm editing: Why are there seven verb-forms in the indicative mood and only three in the nonindicative moods? The answer is simple: the forms in the indica¬tive mark both aspect and tense (the future forms may mark only tense and not aspect);... [Books] [Copyediting] [grammar] [Greek]


Last Saturday put an end to the garden for the year, except for the kale, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, and kohlrabi. They're a bit more cold hardy than others. But the tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans, etc. all bit the dust as the temperature plunged to 21... [Garden] [humor?] [Idle Musings]
People do not take a social problem to ritual for a solution. People generate a ritualized environment that acts to shift the very status and nature of the problem into terms that are endlessly retranslated in strings of deferred schemes. The multiplicati... [Books] [ritual] [theology]

October 21, 7AM

In sum, ritualization not only involves the setting up of oppositions, but through the privileging built into such an exercise it generates hierarchical schemes to produce a loose sense of totality and systematicity. In this way, ritual dynamics afford an... [Books] [Idle Musings] [ritual] [theology]
One of the Eisenbrauns employees (Michael) forwarded this to me. This is real bookmaking. Wouldn't it be fun to work there? [Books] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun]

October 20, 10AM

The strategies of ritualization are particularly rooted in the body, specifically, the interaction of the social body within a symbolically constituted spatial and temporal environment. Essential to ritualization is the circular production of a ritualized... [Books] [Idle Musings] [ritual]

October 19, 8AM

If ritual is interpreted in terms of practice, it becomes clear that formality, fixity, and repetition are not intrinsic qualities of ritual so much as they are a frequent, but not universal strategy for producing ritualized acts. That is to say, formaliz... [Books] [Idle Musings] [ritual]

October 16, 8AM

Viewed as practice, ritualization involves the very drawing, in and through the activity itself, of a privileged distinction between ways of acting, specifically between those acts being performed and those being contrasted, mimed, or implicated somehow. ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [ritual] [theology]
No, freeze! It didn't just frost last night, if froze. There was ice on the puddles this morning as I went for my bike ride. It got down to about 27ºF, so we are definitely into late fall weather. The wind is from the north and blowing hard, too, so it's... [Garden] [Idle Musings]

October 15, 8AM

Ran across this (HT: Irene Hahn on FB). Here's a good excerpt: Abuse does not arise in a vacuum. A healthy mind does not (need to) abuse. Abuse is created of trauma, and it is the traumatized mind which abuses. Whether to externalize, bury, escape its an... [gospel] [Idle Musings] [theology]
Still no frost! But tonight is forecast to be a serious, hard frost at 29ºF. I'll probably get a last picking of beans today and that will be the end. But my broccoli and cabbage will be fine. The tomatoes are in the hoop house, so they will be ok too. Y... [Garden] [Idle Musings] [slugs] [theology]
We can say that practice sees what it intends to accomplish, but it does not see the strategies it uses to produce what it actually does accomplish, a new situation. Althusser shows that practice will give an answer to a question that was never posed: the... [Books] [Idle Musings] [ritual] [theology]

October 14, 7AM

Well, we went for a hike yesterday to Oberg Mountain. It's about a half hour from us along the lake shore. It was a beautiful drive, the clouds had broken up and the wind had died down. It was crisp, in the low 50s F, just perfect for a fall hike. As we ... [Garden] [hiking] [Idle Musings] [Superior Hiking Trail]
Gramsci proposed that hegemonic ordering of power requires people both to envision and to suppress, to self-censor and to appropriate liberties to themselves. He argued that ruling classes establish dominance not merely through overt mechanisms of control... [Books] [gospel] [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [ritual]

October 13, 8AM

It's fall. Definitely fall. We still haven't had a frost, which is extremely unusual. The leaves are at/near peak, but today we had winds that blew a good number of them onto the ground. That's disappointing, because we were/are planning on going for a hi... [Garden] [Idle Musings] [MacArthur House Cabins]
A fourth characteristic of practice, closely intertwined with the features situationality, strategy, and misrecognition, has to do with the motivational dynamics of agency, the will to act, which is also integral to the context of action. It addresses the... [Books] [Idle Musings] [ritual]

October 9, 7AM

The third feature intrinsic to practice is a fundamental 'misrecognition' of what it is doing, a misrecognition of its limits and constraints, and of the relationship between its ends and its means. An appreciation of the dynamics of misrecognition as suc... [Books] [ritual]

October 8, 2PM

As a second feature of human activity, practice is inherently strategic, manipulative, and expedient. The logic of practice (and there is a logic of sorts) is not that of an intellectualist logic, argues Bourdieu. Practice, as real activity in time, by it... [Books] [Idle Musings] [ritual]

October 7, 7AM

First, human activity is situational, which is to say that much of what is important to it cannot be grasped outside of the specific context in which it occurs. When abstracted from its immediate context, an activity is not quite the same activity. Practi... [Books] [ritual]

October 6, 7AM

I will use the term 'ritualization' to draw attention to the way in which certain social actions strategically distinguish themselves in relation to other actions. In a very preliminary sense, ritualization is a way of acting that is designed and orchestr... [Books] [Idle Musings] [ritual]

October 5, 1PM

I'm in the process of sending this BookNews e-mail. Thought those of you not subscribed would like to know, too. And why aren't you subscribed? : ) October is Theological Libraries month and Eisenbrauns wants your theological library to celebrate by savin... [Books] [Eisenbrauns sales] [Libraries]


Many evangelicals and progressives today are steamed up about their opportunity to change the world and to be significant and to do something important. For all the “good” this movement can do and is doing, I contend that, far more important, it is la... [Books] [church] [Idle Musings] [Kingdom Conspiracy] [theology]

October 3, 9AM

I'm editing a Greek Discourse Handbook right now on 1 Thessalonians. In the course of reading through it, I noticed that the Greek word ἀδελφοί (adelphoi, brothers/sisters/fellow believers) seems to occur more frequently than normal. So, I start... [Copyediting] [Greek] [Idle Musings]

September 30, 7AM

[W]hen I hear them make “church” something one goes “into” I cringe. Part of our problem here is that the word “church” has become a building or an institution and has lost its cosmic shape from the Bible (ever read Colossians and Ephesians?!)... [Books] [church] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Kingdom Conspiracy]

September 29, 7AM

Randy Balmer, one of America’s finest historians of evangelicalism, after years of studying the relationship of evangelicals and politics, concludes on a similar note in his God in the White House: “My reading of American religious history is that rel... [Books] [Church History] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Kingdom Conspiracy] [theology]

September 28, 6PM

The Christian Left and the Christian Right are doing the same thing—seeking to coerce the public or, more mildly, seeking to influence the public into their viewpoint through political agitation and majority rule. Hauerwas describes the ultimate goal of... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Kingdom Conspiracy] [theology]

September 25, 7AM

The church’s historical temptation is to make “kingdom” public by aligning itself with the state or the powers of culture, often called the Constantinian Temptation. In the United States, both the Moral Majority (or the Christian Coalition) and the ... [Books] [church] [Church History] [Kingdom Conspiracy] [theology]

September 24, 7AM

In the last post, I mentioned that Roger Olson is blogging through the book Kingdom Conspiracy. Yesterday, he asked a serious question about the nature of church. Here's the relevant paragraph: My experience of visiting numerous churches in numerous loc... [Books] [church] [Idle Musings] [theology]
[I]t is reasonable to say that the kingdom is the church, and the church is the kingdom—that they are the same even if they are not identical. They are the same in that it is the same people under the same King Jesus even if each term—kingdom, church... [Books] [church] [Idle Musings] [Kingdom Conspiracy] [theology]

September 23, 7AM

Two stories from pastors. One, the pastor of a megachurch, confessed to me over a round of golf that he could do away with Sunday morning services because small groups did everything he believed a church should be. Of course I asked, “How so?” To whic... [Books] [church] [Idle Musings] [Kingdom Conspiracy]

September 22, 7AM

Zacchaeus’ conversion shows that genuine conversion, as John the Baptist himself taught (Luke 3:7–9), erupts into a life of love for others that includes economic care for others. The cross of self-denial leads to loving others.— Kingdom Conspir... [Books] [gospel] [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [Kingdom Conspiracy]

September 21, 7AM

Westerners may not see wealth so much as a blessing of God, but the do see it as the reward of labor; they tend also to see poverty as the just reward for laziness. To be sure, the more liberal see a systemic problem in free enterprise itself, but the sys... [Books] [gospel] [Kingdom Conspiracy] [theology]

September 18, 8AM

Those who talk most about peace are talking about peace in the world, and almost never about peace in the local church. The peace of the kingdom, I am contending, is first and foremost a shalom that marks the kingdom as it is present now—that is, in... [Books] [church] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Kingdom Conspiracy] [Shalom]

September 17, 3PM

I've been working on the Eisenbrauns fall catalog lately. It went to press today and is available on the web here (5.3 MB). I see all these great books and I want to read them all! Not that I have the time right now, but come this winter, I'll get a good... [Books] [Eisenbrauns] [Idle Musings]


Love, then, is not one of the virtues; loves is the one and only virtue that creates space for all the other virtues. We can agree that Jesus made love central to the kingdom, to the church.— Kingdom Conspiracy, page 168 [Books] [Kingdom Conspiracy] [theology]

September 16, 2PM

What Jesus advocated, then, was a cruciform existence for his followers. The moral fellowship of the kingdom, then, is a fellowship in the cross. Think briefly over the pages of the New Testament where cross becomes the norm for discipleship (and not just... [Books] [gospel] [Holiness] [Kingdom Conspiracy]

September 15, 8AM

In summary, to enter the kingdom one must surrender to Jesus as King and live under King Jesus. Entrance here is so unlike much of what occurs in church settings today, where if one is baptized as an infant or if one has walked the aisle or if one has bee... [Books] [gospel] [Kingdom Conspiracy] [theology]

September 14, 7AM

Why is the church so messy and inept and divided and pock-marked by the infections of the powers and principalities? Why is the church so battered by incomplete redemption and in fact belittling itself by thinking redemption is only spiritual? How can we ... [Books] [church] [gospel] [Kingdom Conspiracy] [theology]

September 11, 7AM

So often today, kingdom gets boiled down to ethics; for those who make that move, the kingdom is little more than justice. Others reduce the kingdom redemption to personal salvation. Both sides deny holistic redemption…— Kingdom Conspiracy, page 1... [Books] [gospel] [Kingdom Conspiracy]

September 10, 10AM

Just saw this:More Flowers, More Food, More Bees, Fewer Pests. Can It Get Any Better?Could cornflowers and poppies take the place of pesticides? That’s what researchers are proposing in a new study on wheat fields. By planting strips of wildflowers alon... [Garden] [Idle Musings]


Kingdom redemption, then, is the work of God, through Jesus, and by virtue of his sin-solving cross and new-life-creating resurrection, unleashed to those who are needy because of their sins. Any kind of “redemptive” activity that does not deal with s... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Kingdom Conspiracy]

September 8, 9PM

Hmmm. Jim West answered my question with a resounding "NO!" But then I read this: What about when you double up this heightened male interest for greater sexual variety in a same-sex relationship? Scholars have examined this, finding that only a third of... [Idle Musings] [theology]


I've been riding in the mornings along Highway 61 for the last 6–8 weeks. The last week or so has been relatively foggy, so I've started turning on my flashing tail light (for those who care, it's a Planet Bike Superflash) before starting. Some days th... [Bicycling] [Idle Musings]
A question for those of you who are in a church endorsing same-sex marriages: When will you begin to preach celibacy in singleness? Or is that too old-fashioned, too? Just an idle musing... [church] [Idle Musings]
With six stone jars holding a total of about 180 gallons (perhaps a little less), and with each gallon being the equivalent of just a shade over five ordinary (modern) bottles of wine, that means Jesus just served up to the wedding party the modern equiva... [Books] [gospel] [Kingdom Conspiracy]

September 4, 7AM

Although “mission” is not the first word, sometimes people approach it as if it were. That is, for some, one’s mission determines one’s Christology, and Christ is then used for an agenda.— Kingdom Conspiracy, pages 135–136 [Books] [church] [gospel] [Kingdom Conspiracy] [theology]

September 3, 7AM

When Peter calls Jesus Messiah (Mark 8:29), and Jesus responds by revealing that he will suffer and rise again (8:31) and by rebuking Peter’s perceptions (8:32), we enter into the unique interpretation of “Messiah” by Jesus and the church: the Messi... [Books] [gospel] [Kingdom Conspiracy]

September 1, 7AM

Next, I appeal to Paul in Galatians 6:10: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Notice the order: first the church and kingdom, and then society and culture and wo... [Books] [church] [gospel] [Kingdom Conspiracy]

August 31, 7AM

[F]irst, Christians were expected to be good citizens by participating in the community, and second, Peter doesn’t come close to describing benevolence as kingdom work. Like everyone else in the Bible, Peter saw kingdom as the realm of redemption and th... [Books] [gospel] [Kingdom Conspiracy] [theology]

August 29, 7AM

Kingdom is people; church is people. A people under King Jesus begins to live into an alternative society that witnesses both to and against the world’s system. Our world is marked today by isolation, fragmentation, transience, privacy, consumerism, pow... [Books] [church] [gospel] [Kingdom Conspiracy]

August 25, 7AM

We are not “under the Lord” when we do our part as Christians—at home, in the church—but then “under Caesar” when acting as public citizens. If Jesus is Lord, he is always Lord—at home, in the church, and in the public. We don’... [Books] [gospel] [Kingdom Conspiracy] [theology]

August 24, 7AM

Politics is a colossal distraction from kingdom mission. Politics entails diminution of our kingdom message, because to speak well in the public forum means we have to turn our gospel-drenched message that focuses on Jesus, the cross, and the resurrection... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Kingdom Conspiracy]

August 20, 6AM

But Christians have failed to embody the church as an alternative politic and have instead opted for influencing and improving Caesar or transforming culture or using the political process to accomplish their wishes. American love politics, as do people a... [Books] [church] [Kingdom Conspiracy] [theology]

August 19, 7AM

This means that all true kingdom mission is church mission. For many today it is far easier to be committed to social justice in South Africa, to the restoration of communities on the Gulf Shore following Katrina, to cleaning up from the devastating torna... [Books] [church] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Kingdom Conspiracy]

August 18, 6AM

Our responsibility is to point our noses at the Bible to see what is there, to read it carefully enough to fashion an explanation that is rooted as much as possible in what it says. We are not supposed ot invent our own ides, then go to the Bible to find ... [Books] [gospel] [Kingdom Conspiracy] [scripture] [theology]

August 14, 6AM

I call this quest for power through the political process the “eschatology of politics”—that is, the belief that if we usher in the right political candidates and the right laws, then kingdom conditions will arrive. Every two years America goes ... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Kingdom Conspiracy]

August 12, 6AM

Roman politics is about power and domination and might and force and coercion and the sword. The politics of Jesus is about sacrificial love for the other even if that means death from the sword. Lording it over others is the way of Rome; serving others i... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Kingdom Conspiracy] [pacifism]

August 11, 6AM

When we are persuaded into the depths of our heart that what we believe to be true is the Truth, we want this for all others. When we want this for others, we are tempted for our witness to become coercive, manipulative, and sometimes to resort to violenc... [Books] [gospel] [Kingdom Conspiracy] [pacifism]

August 7, 7AM

No Christian wants to be called a “Pharisee,” so it can shock modern Bible readers to learn that the Pharisees were good guys. They were the home Bible study movement in the land of Israel, the ones who wanted to interpret Torah in such a way that eve... [Books] [Kingdom Conspiracy]

August 6, 10PM

This holy warfare to bring in the kingdom strategy was the rejected option for Jesus, and so we dare not ignore the presence of a Zealot in the circle of Jesus’ twelve apostles. Simon is called the “Zealot” in Luke 6:15, and one has to wonder about ... [Books] [gospel] [Kingdom Conspiracy]

August 4, 2PM

Adam and Eve sinned; they died. Sin leads to death. The sin they committed was the sin of usurping, of wanting to be God-like instead of god-ly. They died for the sin. We, too, are usurpers. From the moment we become conscious to the moment we die we want... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Kingdom Conspiracy]

August 3, 7AM

Here is where we now stand in explaining how to put the big picture together. Plan A is God’s will for the world: God rules with Israel governing under God on God’s behalf. But because Israel wants a king like other nations, Plan A takes a divine deto... [Books] [gospel] [Kingdom Conspiracy]

August 1, 7AM

Yesterday one of the printing reps stopped by Eisenbrauns home office in Warsaw, Indiana. He brought a gift for the business: Isn't that cool! I can't wait to see it in real life (I'm in Minnesota). [Eisenbrauns] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun]

July 31, 7AM

This weekend is Fisherman's Picnic, the busiest weekend of the summer. And for us, it began earlier this week, which explains the sporadic nature of the posting lately. Anybody who thinks that cabin caretaking is a relaxing job hasn't done it! But, no com... [Garden] [Idle Musings] [MacArthur House Cabins]
Samuel’s displeasure (1 Sam. 8:6) is met by a revelation from God that provides one of the secrets to understanding kingdom. In YHWH’s revelation to Samuel, YHWH explains what is really going on in the minds and hearts of those who want a king like th... [Books] [Kingdom Conspiracy]

July 29, 11AM

Adam and Eve decide they want to rule “like God” instead of ruling “under God,” which means Adam and Eve are usurpers. The sin they commit is the sin of wanting more than responsibility of governing on God’s behalf; the sin they commit is made c... [Books] [Kingdom Conspiracy] [theology]

July 23, 7AM

The gospel is a story about Jesus, and because it is about Jesus, it is about us. To make the story first about us, or first about me and my salvation, is to reduce the story and to rob Jesus of the glory of being the central actor.— Kingdom Conspir... [Books] [gospel] [Kingdom Conspiracy] [theology]

July 22, 7AM

This selection of texts from the Fourth Gospel represents the New Testament posture toward the “world” as the unredeemed realm of human affairs, a realm into which Jesus is sent and out of which he saves his own. The point I am making, then, is that J... [Books] [gospel] [theology]

July 21, 7AM

The fruit of the Spirit is not a to-do list to check off. The Spirit produces the fruit in us. Christianity is not a set of rules, nor is the Bible a manual for good living. Christianity is about a relationship with God the Father, through His Son Jesus C... [Books] [theology]

July 20, 9AM

We are no longer under the authority of sin. Paul develops this point in greatest detail in Romans 6. If we have died with Christ, we have been set free from sin (Romans 6:7). What Paul means by “sin” in Romans 6 is sin as a power, or ruler. The point... [Books] [gospel] [Holiness] [Holy Spirit] [theology]

July 17, 6AM

Notice that Paul does not say, “Don’t do these things.” Instead, he appeals to a deeper way of thinking. He appeals to a spiritual reality. If we belong to Christ Jesus, we have crucified the flesh. Now, remember that the vice list is introduced as ... [Books] [gospel] [Holy Spirit] [theology]

July 16, 6AM

The Spirit isn’t interested in just changing certain behaviors—adding some and removing others; He is interested in changing who we are as people. Changed people do changed things. But the internal change has to come first. God doesn’t want us to be... [Books] [Holy Spirit] [theology]

July 15, 7AM

[T]he fruit of the Spirit is not a to-do list. These verses do have implications for how we live (and we’ll get to that), but Paul does not say, “live like this, like this, and like that” before he lists the fruit of the Spirit. Fruit grows from the... [Books] [gospel] [theology]

July 13, 6AM

No, not who is a fruit! Whose fruit as in who produces it? Sometimes (most times?), I think we act like we are supposed to produce the fruit of the Spirit. Right! Like we can do that...anyway, today we start excerpting from a new book, actually more of a ... [Books] [Holy Spirit] [Idle Musings] [theology]

July 10, 6AM

[W]e must never forget that the purpose of the words is to draw us to the Word and thus into the embrace of the triune God. As people who grow to cherish and delight in the sacred writings, we must never forget their fundamental purpose: that we might kno... [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology]

July 9, 3PM

James reminds us, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (Jas 1:27). What I always find so startling about this statement is ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology]

July 8, 9AM

One of the great dangers in theology is making our faith something we discuss rather than something that moves us. We lapse into this problem when we treat God as a mere object of our study rather than as the Lord we worship.—A Little Book for New T... [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology]

July 7, 7AM

Pride and arrogance, which often accompany theological discussion, are not simply the temptation of the domineering pastor or condescending professor; they are a temptation for all of us. When we speak of God, a strange enticement can occur. In subtle way... [Books] [theology]
I overlooked harvesting three parsnips last fall. They overwintered and began to grow...and grow...and grow. I was going to pull them and compost them, but Debbie said to let them grow; she thought they looked kind of neat. So I did. They are now over 6 f... [Garden] [Just for Fun]

July 6, 7AM

We rightly respond to God’s revelation when our words about God, whether many or few, are placed into the matrix of worship. When we see the relationship between theology and worship we are moved beyond intellectual curiosity to an engaged encounter wit... [Books] [theology]

July 4, 6AM

We are not God. This may seem ridiculously obvious, but much of our practice ignores this simple truth. Not only can we not control the events around us, but our understanding is inescapably incomplete.—A Little Book for New Theologians, page 30 [Books] [theology]

July 3, 6AM

Growing in our knowledge of God changes our view of everything else. It is not that we lose sight of all except God, but rather that we view everything in light of God and through the story of his creation and redemption. True worship of God frees and ena... [Books] [theology]

July 2, 7AM

Let me seek you in longing, and long for you in seeking.Let me find you in love, and love you in finding—Anselm, Proslogion cited in A Little Book for New Theologians, page 19 [Books] [Church History] [theology]

June 30, 7AM

I have seen God use good theology to liberate lives. But I have also seen people misuse theology, resulting in abuse, hard hearts and pain. One thing that I have become concerned about in theological studies is the temptation to make overly strong divisio... [Books] [church] [Idle Musings] [theology]

June 29, 6AM

The Sermon on the Mount is not law that can save us; it is, rather, the texture of the life of those who have died with Christ and are now made alive with him through resurrection (e.g., blessed are those who mourn, who hunger and thirst for righteousness... [Bonhoeffer] [Books] [gospel] [theology] [theosis]

June 27, 8AM

Yesterday SCOTUS decided that same-sex marriages were legal. So, I ask, "What would the early church have done if the emperor had allowed same-sex marriages?" You think this is unique to the United States and a few other countries? That we have (depending... [ANE History] [Church History] [Idle Musings]

June 26, 6AM

Grace is costly, then, not because it is an idea; it is no principle, program, or doctrine. Grace is costly because it is a person; it is the very Christ who calls us. Jesus’s person is the living reality of grace itself. And because it is a person who ... [Bonhoeffer] [Books] [church] [theology]

June 25, 7AM

Bonhoeffer was aware that the situation in which these young pastors would find themselves in the future would be one of great challenge, a test that could be met not by sheer intellectual book knowledge but only through a deep theological commitment that... [Bonhoeffer] [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology]

June 24, 6AM

Youth workers are like plumbers called in to fix a leak, to fill the gap, but rarely do we invite the plumber fixing the gap in our bathroom waterline to dinner, into the heart of our communion. We appreciate the technical work of solving the problem of t... [Books] [church] [Idle Musings]

June 23, 7AM

He [Bonhoeffer] asserted in his dissertation and embodied in his ministry that it is not in the institution of the church that Jesus Christ is found, but in the communion of persons that we encounter the living Christ among us. Jesus is not found in the b... [Bonhoeffer] [Books] [church]

June 22, 7AM

Anxiety, as neuropsychologists today tell us, is toxic; our brains are wired to avoid anxiety. Anxiety corrupts the chemistry of the brain and leads us to depart (emotionally or physically) from the others to protect ourselves. Jesus’s words to his disc... [Bonhoeffer] [Books] [theology]

June 20, 6AM

In our own day children’s and youth ministers seem to be working so hard to include children in the church, debating issues like children in worship, because for decades or more children have been either directly or functionally moved to the periphery. ... [Bonhoeffer] [Books] [church] [Church History] [Idle Musings]

June 18, 6AM

Today we see broad evidence of Christians seeking these historic Christian experiences in worship. Tired of market-oriented approaches that seem to focus on self-improvement of finances, relationships and self-image, many cry out to be held near by the tr... [Bonhoeffer] [Books] [Church History] [Idle Musings] [theology] [theosis]

June 17, 6AM

Recent scholars have pointed out that for most historic and contemporary Protestants, sola scriptura does not mean that the Scriptures are the only source of theological truth. They do not see Scripture as sole resource, sole source, sole authority or mat... [Books] [Church History] [theology]

June 16, 7AM

I have not been a fan of Microsoft Word since version 1, way back in 1983. I always preferred either WordPerfect or WordStar (or more specialized word processors, such as WatchWord). But the version of Word I'm using now is driving me crazy (Word for Mac ... [Computer woes] [Copyediting] [Idle Musings]
Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) emphasized that the Spirit of God empowers Christians to understand the Bible, and he taught that an uneducated peasant who had the Spirit could understand the Scripture. Although at times he cites the fathers, he challenges stu... [Books] [Church History] [Idle Musings] [scripture]

June 15, 6AM

Even conversion among Bible-focused Christians is understood to be individual: one individual has a “personal experience,” connecting the person directly with God. Subsequent fellowship in the church is treated as an optional by-product of this person... [Books] [church] [Church History] [gospel]

June 12, 6AM

The Reformers insisted on sola scriptura, though we have already seen that they often cited the church fathers as they discussed Scripture. As a result, many Bible-focused Christians today still see the tradition as the primary problem. Their foundational... [Books] [Church History] [theology]

June 10, 8AM

The notion of one church in one world, still held by East and West even after their separation in 1054, gave way to a variety of denominational commitments, depending for authority upon leading theologians and the support of their political princes. Prote... [Books] [Church History] [Idle Musings] [theology]

June 9, 6AM

The mainline Reformers, therefore, did not reject the tradition, but rather the abuse of tradition that exalted the papacy and the magisterium above the Scripture or threatened the doctrine of justification by faith as they understood it. In fact, they of... [Books] [Church History]

June 8, 6AM

Nevertheless sacred doctrine makes use of these authorities [Church Fathers and tradition] as extrinsic and probably arguments, but properly uses the authority of canonical Scriptures as a necessary demonstration and the authority of the doctors of the Ch... [Books] [Church History] [theology]

June 5, 6AM

We see here the developing belief that the Scripture extends to items outside of itself, though the canon of Scripture does not. The canon of Scripture is closed, but the teaching of Scripture includes writings outside the canon of Scripture, which theref... [Books] [Church History] [scripture]

June 4, 9PM

From a forthcoming SBL book, Is There a Wisdom Tradition? New Prospects in Israelite Wisdom Studies, chapter 10, "How Wisdom Texts Became Part of the Canon of the Hebrew Bible" by Raik Heckl: The pious sufferer who keeps his relationship with God in spite... [Books]


God’s will is that your lives are dedicated to him. This means that you stay away from sexual immorality and learn how to control your own body in a pure and respectable way. Don’t be controlled by your sexual urges like the Gentiles who don’t know ... [Idle Musings] [theology]

June 3, 7AM

With few exceptions, Christians in the early period saw Scripture and apostolic tradition as one great rule of truth. By the end of the early period it had become evident that there could be contradictory and competing traditions, sometimes with each posi... [Books] [Church History]

June 2, 7AM

[A]lthough Protestants often have declared their distaste for tradition, they have nonetheless developed traditions that are necessary to their ability to implement Christian faith and practice. Tradition helps them preach the gospel.—Why Church His... [Books] [Church History] [Idle Musings]

June 1, 7AM

Last week was a busy one for gardening. I finally finished the third bed that I've been meaning to make for two years now. And I put up the hoop house. I don't have a place on the property that gets sun in December–January; the sun is too low on the hor... [Eisenbrauns sales] [Garden] [Idle Musings] [MacArthur House Cabins]


When we consult resources to help us understand history and theology, we must be careful not to limit our resources to authors who share our cultural perspectives and intellectual commitments. We need the point of view offered by contemporaries of various... [Books] [Church History] [Idle Musings]

May 29, 6AM

We start a new book today. I'd love to give a full review of it, but I don't have the time to write one up just now. But let me illustrate the need for this book—by the way it is called Why Church History Matters—with a short story. About ten years ag... [Books] [Church History] [Idle Musings] [theology]

May 28, 7AM

The more I’ve learned to properly enjoy earthly things, the more I long for heaven. Because I love this life, eternity in God’s presence has gone from a distant hope to tangible reality, like something right in front of me but just out of reach.&mdash... [Books] [Radically Normal] [theology] [theosis]

May 27, 6AM

As I see it, complacent Christianity tries to avoid pain at all costs. Then it tries to numb whatever pain gets through even if the anesthetic of choice causes more damage in the long run. On the other hand, obsessive Christianity glamorizes suffering and... [Books] [gospel] [Radically Normal]

May 26, 7AM

Over the weekend I built a new bed so that I could put up a hoop house. In Indiana, I would put two beds inside a hoop house, but here I've been experimenting with putting three. I'm planning on putting the cover on it this week and planting tomatoes and ... [Garden] [Hoop house] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun]
I believe legalism is so popular because it’s much easier than carefully evaluating what’s earthly and what’s worldly. Not better or more fun, but easier. By simply following a list someone gives you, you can feel safe and secure. Likewise, worldlin... [gospel] [Holiness] [Radically Normal]

May 25, 6AM

Wholeheartedly pursing obedience isn’t legalism—it’s happy holiness. We fall off the cliff of legalism when we think our status with God depends on how well we obey. We can also fall off when we live our lives by a list of rules that exceed those in... [Books] [gospel] [Radically Normal] [theology]

May 23, 6AM

Over on B-Greek, Stephen Carlson informs us of a new dissertation—On verb initial clauses in Classical Greek! Delicious! Here's an excerpt from page 1: Ancient Greek is a ‘free word order’ language, or more precisely a discourse- configurational lan... [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics]

May 22, 6AM

God could provide for every need, feed every person, meet every church budget, and fully support every missionary without our cooperation. Instead he chooses to meet all of these needs through us. This isn’t efficient, but it gives us the honor and joy ... [Books] [Radically Normal] [theology]

May 21, 7AM

Destitution and absolute poverty are evidence of a world broken by sin. God never intended people to live with their basic needs unmet. But once our basic needs are taken care of, contentment is possible. In fact, if you aren’t content with that, you ne... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Radically Normal]


It is because children learn continuously and effortlessly that adults generally fail to give them credit for the amount of learning that they do. It is a common adult belief that learning is a difficult and even painful activity, that it involves grappli... [Books] [Idle Musings] [reading]

May 20, 7AM

The problem isn’t with having money but with wanting to get rich, loving money, being eager for it, and getting it any way you can. Proverbs is filled with similar warnings, including the prayer “give me neither poverty nor riches.” Even warning peo... [Books] [gospel] [Radically Normal] [theology]
Children learn by relating their understanding of the new to what they know already, modifying or elaborating their prior knowledge. Learning is continuous and completely natural, and it is not necessary to propose separate “processes” of motivation a... [Books] [reading]
Most of you (all two of you?) have probably seen the announcement from last Friday. If not, here it is: As the announcement says, I'm working for Eisenbrauns once again—part-time. We are still on the North Shore of Lake Superior and have no intentio... [bookselling] [Idle Musings]

May 19, 7AM

We need to stop thinking of sin as something we get away with and start seeing it as something we’re saved from. We never get away with sin. We may be forgiven and restored, but sin always damages us and the ones we love.—Radically Normal, electro... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Radically Normal] [theology]


One of the great tragedies of contemporary education is not so much that many students leave school unable to read and to write, but that many graduate with an antipathy to reading and writing, despite the abilities they might have.—Understanding Re... [Books] [Idle Musings] [reading]

May 18, 7AM

It seems to me that complacent Christians don’t believe that all of God’s rules are meant to bring earthly joy, which means they don’t believe that God genuinely wants our best. Our actions usually prove what we really believe. If we believed that o... [Books] [gospel] [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [Radically Normal]


Experience always results in learning. Experience in reading leads to more knowledge about reading itself. Not surprisingly, students who read a lot tend to read better (Anderson, Hiebert, Scott, & Wilkinson, 1985). They don’t need to read better in ord... [Books] [reading]

May 15, 7AM

Why do we choose to sin? Because at the time, we believe we’ll be happier doing what’s wrong. That, of course, is a lie. It’s not just any lie—it’s a repackaging of the first recorded lie. The same lie is repeated down through the ages, telling ... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Radically Normal] [theology]
A distinction is often drawn between fluent reading and beginning reading to contrast the virtuosos manner in which experienced readers are supposed to read with the stumbling, less proficient behavior of learners. But the distinction isn’t valid. It’... [Books] [reading]


More often than not, our petitionary prayers are aimed at changing God or getting God to modify or hurry up fulfilling what we presume to be his plans for the world (which, if we are honest with ourselves, are often closely identified with our own hopes f... [Books] [Idle Musings] [lord's prayer] [theology]

May 14, 6AM

Maybe balance isn’t the best word. It implies finding a fixed point between two extremes. Have you ever tried to balance on top of a post? You don’t keep your balance by staying perfectly still. You stay balanced by making countless little adjustments... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Radically Normal] [theology]
In reading aloud, for our own purposes or to other people, an extra step is required. First we have to understand what we are reading, then we have to say what we understand. We don’t transform the uninterpreted words (or their component letters) into s... [Books] [reading]
So what did Jesus intend his disciples to be asking for or saying when they recited the prayer he gave them? To answer this, I resort to paraphrase:(Father) We recognize that you alone are sovereign, and we pledge our loyalty to you even if this becomes c... [Books] [gospel] [lord's prayer] [theology]
If you get upset, offended, and go off and sulk, and nurse your grievance, you will die.—T. Austin Sparks

May 13, 7AM

Yes, stuff distracts us. The more we acquire, the more we are distracted from the things we already have and from more important things, including the message of hope and joy from our Savior. Holiday fanfare can be distracting, so it’s no surprise that ... [Books] [gospel] [Radically Normal] [theology]
Let me summarize every thing I have just said: Children learn to read by reading.—Understanding Reading, page 169 <idle musing>That seems redundant, doesn't it? But it's true nonetheless. How do you learn a language? By using it! How do you le... [Books] [Idle Musings] [reading]
What, in Jesus’ eyes, might the community of believers whom he has called to be “sons of God” actually do that would be the functional equivalent of Israel’s sin at Massah? The answer to this question seems clear enough given all that I have said ... [Books] [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [just peacemaking] [lord's prayer] [pacifism] [theology]

May 12, 7AM

Because we share a lot of common ground, the Christian life may not look all that different on the surface from the world’s ideals. It makes sense to them. From the outside, we look like good neighbors and ideal employees. But when our non-Christian fam... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Radically Normal] [theology] [theosis]
There is a general tendency to subvocalize when reading becomes difficult, when we can predict less.—Understanding Reading, page 167 <idle musing>I hadn't really thought about it before, but it is true. Now that I think about it, I remember si... [Books] [Idle Musings] [reading]
To sum up: In one section of his passionately rendered, and lamentably unfinished, New Testament Theology titled “What did Jesus expect?” Joachim Jeremias summed up all of his studies of the original meaning of the petition καὶ μὴ εἰσε... [Books] [lord's prayer]

May 11, 7AM

Well, the temperature is dropping. It was 45ºF at midnight and 41ºF at 8:00 AM. Now it's 37ºF! And the wind has been blowing like crazy. Oops. Wrong. That stuff falling from the sky is white! Yep. Snow! And they are predicting more today and tomorrow.... [Just for Fun]
God told the Israelites to be different as a means to an end—his plan was to bless the entire world through them. If they were not forced to be different from the Gentiles culturally, they would cease to be different from them morally. By the time Jesus... [Idle Musings] [Radically Normal] [theology]
According to Huey (1908), instruction at the beginning of the 20th century placed oral reading long after silent. Currently the trend is the reverse. Huey was critical of any emphasis on reading aloud, which he considered much more difficult and unnatural... [Books] [Idle Musings] [reading]
It was shown that preposing for focus in BH relates to an activated but not necessarily presupposed proposition. Despite the fact that BH focused clauses are often rendered with a cleft sentence in English, the English constructions most equivalent to BH ... [grammar] [Hebrew] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics] [Word Order]


What Mark presents as the occasion for Jesus to utter this command to Peter, James, and John that they should pray to be protected against becoming the agents of πειρασμός [peirasmos (testing/trying/tempting)] is his realization that they are o... [Books] [lord's prayer] [theology]


In you, LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.         Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.   Since y...

May 10, 7AM

It's the beginning of another season here on the North Shore—not that it gets very busy before about mid-June, but it's a good way to ease into the madness of July—September. Of course, we've been busy for almost a month now, getting the cabins ready.... [Just for Fun] [MacArthur House Cabins]

May 9, 7AM

I've been meaning to post this for about a month now... A pint might be a pound the world around, but it just ain't so. The other day we were getting ready to make a tincture of licorice root and ginger root (it makes a great cough suppressant). We needed... [Idle Musings] [Tinctures]


How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?    Look on me and answer, ...

May 8, 6AM

If he loves and values you enough to send his Son to die for you, to pull you out of the pit of your sin, do you think he will be satisfied leaving you at the edge of that pit? He has much greater aspirations for you than merely keeping you out of hell. P... [Books] [Holiness] [Radically Normal]
We must get used to the notion that meaning is not dependent on specific words. This crucial point is elaborated many times in this book. When we retain a meaningful sequence of words in memory—either short-term or long-term—we are not primarily remem... [Books] [Idle Musings] [reading]
The topicalized clause, at least in the Genesis corpus, always occurs in the context of a second segment to which it is related. In contrast, the focused clause can occur as an isolated clause, relating to information activated by the extratextual situati... [Books] [grammar] [Hebrew] [Linguistics]
Now, as Mark indicates elsewhere, being willing to “stay awake” and “watch” is, among other things, to refuse to succumb to any doubt that God will provide, especially when it seems otherwise. To “fall asleep” and to be unwilling to “watch... [Books] [lord's prayer] [theology]

May 6, 7AM

Our problem with greatness isn’t that we aren’t capable of it, but that we have a distorted view of it. The church unwittingly perpetuates this distortion by focusing more on celebrities than on everyday folks. Greatness isn’t measured by the amount... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Radically Normal]
There are a number of paradoxes about the role of memory in reading. The more we try to memorize, the less we are likely to recall. The more we try to memorize, the less we are likely to comprehend, which not only makes recall more difficult—it makes re... [Books] [Idle Musings] [reading]


Although the preposed constituent in a focused clause is commonly referred to as the focus of the clause, this is not entirely accurate. Because preposing is normally performed on entire clause-level constituents, material that belongs to the activated pr... [Books] [grammar] [Hebrew] [Linguistics]
The third consideration is that a call from Jesus for his disciples to pray for protection from “putting God to the test” is exactly what we should expect from Jesus, who knew that at the center of his own trials as Son to maintain his faithfulness to... [Books] [lord's prayer] [Prayer]

May 5, 7AM

The difference between being obsessive and being radically normal has nothing to do with the magnitude of your sacrifice or how strange it sounds to others. If your sacrifice is based on guilt, obligation, or legalism, you’re being obsessive. However, i... [Books] [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [Radically Normal] [theology]
Signal detection theory, however, shows that the cost of increasing the proportion of correct responses will be an increase in the number of errors. In other words, the more often you want to be right, the more often you must tolerate being wrong.—U... [Books] [Just for Fun] [reading]


The essence of the comprehension process is described by Kintsch (1998: 93) as follows: “We comprehend a text, understand something, by building a mental model. To do so we must form connections between things that were previously disparate: the ideas e... [Books] [grammar] [Hebrew] [Linguistics] [Word Order]
It follows that if πειρασμός here means “the testing of God,” then given all that the idea of “the testing of God” connotes, the request in which the term appears must mean something like “prevent us, Father, from putting you to the t... [Books] [lord's prayer] [Prayer] [theology]

May 4, 7AM

The only thing standing between you and a life of wholehearted obedience isn’t your job, place of birth, income, or knowledge of the Bible. It’s your willingness to fall into Jesus’s arms and lean completely on his grace. Repent of self-sufficiency... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Radically Normal] [theology]
Absence of uncertainty is not a condition that we tolerate for very long; we find it boring. There is no “experience” to it. We seek uncertainty, provided we can keep it under control and clear of confusion. We comprehend when we can “make sense” ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun] [reading]
The relevant aspect of Kintsch’s theory for present purposes is the concept of working memory, which includes short-term memory as well as a section of long-term memory. Long-term memory, storing knowledge, beliefs, and experience, is a network of propo... [grammar] [Greek] [Hebrew] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics]
As Mary Rose D’Angelo has shown, the primary function of the address “Father” is to affirm three things: that it is the God of Israel alone, and not another singular claimant to the title, who deserves to be called and acknowledged as “Father”; ... [Books] [lord's prayer]


But in all these things we win a sweeping victory through the one who loved us. (‭Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭37‬ CEB) [scripture]

May 2, 7AM

For the last few years, we've been hearing about a forthcoming publication (from Brill about a first century fragment from Mark. The problem is that no one has seen it. Everything seems to revolve around a video of Josh McDowell explaining how he extra... [Greek] [Idle Musings] [MacArthur House Cabins] [Textual Criticism]

May 1, 8AM

God called the prophets to do some pretty weird things because that’s what their situations called for. Their stories continue to encourage and inspire us, but they don’t necessarily provide point-by-point direction on how to live in our contemporary ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Radically Normal] [theology]
Genre schemes help both readers and writers. Their characteristic forms help readers by giving them a basis for predicting what a text will be like, that a novel will be constructed in a particular way, that a scientific article will follow a certain form... [grammar] [Idle Musings] [reading]
Although both focusing and topicalization provide an instruction regarding the interpretation of the clause in its context, the two types differ regarding the context involved. Focusing signals a relation between the clause and the context of the addresse... [Books] [grammar] [Hebrew] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics]


The parable begins with a king acting in a way quite uncharacteristic of any agrarian ruler. He forgives a debt of unimaginable proportions. But why? First, the king presides over subjects who are crippled by debt and who, therefore, in their inability to... [Books] [gospel] [lord's prayer] [theology]

April 30, 11AM

From personal experience, I already knew how damaging the two-tiered mentality was for those presumptuous enough to assign themselves to the top. As a pastor, I’ve discovered how detrimental it is for those who believe they belong on the bottom tier. Mo... [Books] [gospel] [Radically Normal]
Reading aloud is more complex, and therefore more demanding, than silent reading.—Understanding Reading, page 34 [Books] [reading]


Preposing is normally performed on an entire clause-level constituent. When the constituent involved is a compound phrase, there are several preposing options. In most cases the entire phrase is preposed, even when it is a long coordinated chain.— W... [Books] [grammar] [Greek] [Hebrew] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics]
As Bruce Malina and others have shown, to cancel lawful debts, let alone to forgive one’s enemies, without some good or mitigating reason was an action that brought intense shame on the one who did so. For in this, the one forgiving debt and offenses to... [Books] [gospel] [lord's prayer] [theology]

April 29, 8AM

Grace saves us from both obsessive and complacent Christianity. It frees us from both legalism and sin.—Radically Normal, electronic edition <idle musing>Amen! This seems to answer some of my concerns yesterday...</idle musing> [Books] [Idle Musings] [Radically Normal]
The metaphorical nature of terms like scheme and script is often overlooked. The use of computers as an analogy for the brain in educational theorizing has led to a belief that schemes, scripts, and cognitive structure itself are “data” or “programs... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Metaphors We Live By] [reading]


Scholars are divided as to the proper syntactic classification of clauses with a “subordinate” ו. Van der Merwe et al. (1999: §40.8) recognize a separate use of ו as a subordinating conjunction. Waltke and O’Connor (1990: §38.1h), in contrast, w... [Books] [grammar] [Hebrew] [Linguistics] [Word Order]
Consider the implication of the fact that Jesus uses the phrase ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου as a coordinate of the phrase “May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου, ὡ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [lord's prayer] [theology]

April 28, 7AM

Many Christians think that grace basically means “Jesus saved me from my sins and now I get to go to heaven.” But grace is far bigger than that. ... Some Christians think grace means God paid your entry fees and put you on the race course, but now it... [Books] [cheap grace] [gospel] [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [Radically Normal] [theology]
I want to consider how language creates worlds, objects and relationships, which in no other sense exist. Language makes us think something is there when it isn’t. It deceives us. The human race is always prone to give names to aspects of experience, an... [Books] [Linguistics] [reading]
In Biblical Hebrew, the quest for the sentence is probably an exercise in futility. The researcher trying to define the sentence in Biblical Hebrew must grapple with texts that appear to be one interminably long sentence, because almost every clause in na... [Books] [grammar] [Hebrew] [Linguistics]
In the formal and material parallel to the “kingdom” request found in Rev. 22:20c—namely, the petition ἔρχου, κύριε Ἰησοῦ (erchou, kyrie Iēsou), which, like the “kingdom” request in the Disciples’ Prayer, consists of ... [Books] [lord's prayer] [theology]

April 27, 7AM

Too many Christians struggle under the weight of trying to do enough. They’re so busy trying to be spiritual enough that they miss God’s blessings in everyday life. They’re like frightened children who refuse to go to the beach because they think th... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Radically Normal]
All live religions are many things. The formal ritual of public occasions teaches one set of doctrine. There is no reason to suppose that its message is necessarily consistent with those taught in private rituals, or that all public rituals are consistent... [Books] [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [ritual]
A structural approach, in which syntactic categories are defined using formal rather than semantic criteria is followed wherever possible. Unfortunately, linguistic categories do not always have neat boundaries even when defined in structural terms (Huddl... [Books] [grammar] [Hebrew] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics]
It [the Lord's Prayer] was intended to shape the disciples as a group that, in word and deed, would stand as a witness against the teachings of “this generation” regarding how Israel should be Israel. The occasion of Jesus’ giving it to the disciple... [Books] [lord's prayer]

April 26, 9AM

I just ran across this summation of some bee-related research. Seems the bees are just as good at getting addicted to bad food as we are. That does not bode well for the future... Neonicotinoid apologists reject these studies, in part because the research... [Bees] [food]


Textual criticism traffics in critical analysis, not in claims of authority. Cappel [Critica Sacra, 1650] made a distinction between the content of Scripture, which in his view was divinely inspired, and its textual transmission, which was a wholly human ... [HBCE] [Hebrew] [Textual Criticism]

April 25, 9AM

On Thursday morning, I had the privilege and pleasure teaching a 4.5 hour seminar (via Skype) to a group of YWAM Minneapolis students on the Ancient Near Eastern Backgrounds to the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. I've posted the outline that I created, along ... [ANE religion] [Bible study] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun]

April 24, 7AM

In our human sinfulness, we tend to be proud of our obsessiveness or to excuse our complacency. But the life that God desires isn’t found at either extreme. Wholehearted devotion to God consists of radical obedience lived out in surprisingly normal, joy... [Books] [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [Radically Normal]


[A] Martian anthropologist might come to the wrong conclusion on overhearing an English plumber asking his mate for the male and female parts of plugs.—Purity and Danger, pages 106–7 <idle musing>OK. That one brought a smile to my face : ) C... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics]
As the emphasis-centered model has largely fallen out of favor, backgrounding/temporal-sequencing and information-structure models dominate the field of contemporary research on BH word order… The present study explores the significance of information-s... [Books] [grammar] [Hebrew] [Linguistics] [Word Order]
Each of the individual petitions of the Disciples’ Prayer not only recalls but also appears to be set out in (conscious?) contradistinction to the description of the wilderness prototype of “this generation.” The “wilderness generation” was call... [Books] [lord's prayer] [theology]

April 23, 1PM

So many of us have a deep-seated fear that we have to choose—do we want to be obsessive Christians who don’t enjoy this life, or do we want to be complacent Christians who have a lot of fun here? We feel as if those are our only two options. Should we... [Books] [Radically Normal] [theology]
In a chaos of shifting impressions, each of us constructs a stable world in which objects have recognisable shapes, are located in depth, and have permanence. In perceiving we are building, taking some cues and rejecting others. The most acceptable cues a... [Books]
The various definitions of topic remain problematic. The most accepted conception of topic, the notion of “aboutness,” has thus far resisted objective formulation, despite valiant efforts on the part of many researchers. Gómez- González (2001: 31)... [Books] [grammar] [Hebrew] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics] [Word Order]
But Jesus called and gathered disciples for another reason as well: to found what sociologists have called “intentional communities,” small groups and cells of followers, some living within their home villages and towns, some on the road as itinerants... [Books] [church] [lord's prayer]

April 22, 6AM

In conclusion, the backgrounding model and temporal-sequencing models are not applicable to all preposed clauses. The most plausible formulations of the theory apply exclusively to subject-preposed clauses; thus, object-preposing and adjunct-preposing are... [Books] [Hebrew] [Linguistics] [Word Order]
As we know it, dirt is essentially disorder. There is no such thing as absolute dirt: it exists in the eye of the beholder. If we shun dirt, it is not because of craven fear, still less dread of holy terror. Nor do our ideas about disease account for the ... [Books] [ritual]
Above all, the key sticking point is the existence of conceptual metaphor. If conceptual metaphors are real, then all literalist and objectivist views of meaning and knowledge are false. We can no longer pretend to build an account of concepts and knowled... [Books] [Metaphors We Live By]
To be a son of God, then, is to act in the world as God does, showing mercy and forgiveness toward all, refusing to retaliate injury for injury, accepting suffering and persecution as the price of living in conformity to God’s will, and, most importantl... [Books] [Idle Musings] [lord's prayer]

April 21, 7AM

The concept of emphasis has been criticized as overly subjective and vague. It is difficult to say whether an emphasis on the preposed element was really intended or whether the researcher is simply assuming it to exist because of that element’s positio... [Books] [grammar] [Hebrew] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics] [Word Order]
In other words, by taking certain capacities as conditions for entry, liberalism prevents us having to fall back upon irreducibly religious models of recognition. Yet if phenomenology reveals the capacities approach to justify inclusion only of the fully ... [Books] [ethics] [theology]


* Metaphors are fundamentally conceptual in nature; metaphorical language is secondary.* Conceptual metaphors are grounded in everyday experience. * Abstract thought is largely, though not entirely, metaphorical. * Metaphorical thought is unavoidable, ubi... [Books] [Linguistics] [Metaphors We Live By]
Jesus is presented not only as calling those who aspire to be true sons of God to imitate God specifically in his displays of indiscriminate mercy to the “wicked” but also as declaring that conduct to be worthy of the office and title of a “true chi... [Books] [lord's prayer] [pacifism] [theology]

April 20, 7AM

In conclusion, basic word order in the typological sense is the pragmatically unmarked order. Basic word order is usually established by the criterion of statistical dominance. The mainstream view that BH is typologically VSO is strongly supported by the ... [Books] [grammar] [Hebrew] [Linguistics] [Word Order]
The condition of the newone points forward to the reality that we are dependent creatures: the secret to the meaning of human life—our need of each other—is given away by its newest members.—Ethics at the Beginning of Life, page 115 <idle mus... [Books] [ethics] [Idle Musings] [theology]
You don't have a choice as to whether to think metaphorically. Because metaphorical maps are part of our brains, we will think and speak metaphorically whether we want to or not. Since the mechanism of metaphor is largely unconscious, we will think and sp... [Books] [Linguistics] [Metaphors We Live By]
It is interesting to note that, as H. Windisch has pointed out, Jesus’ view of who and what a peacemaker is stands in stark contrast with the view, current in the Hellenistic world, of what this office entailed. Those who were to establish peace, securi... [Books] [Idle Musings] [lord's prayer] [pacifism] [theology]

April 17, 8AM

Biblical scholars have long been aware that finite clauses in BH are most frequently verb-first. This fact was noted by the 19th-century biblical exegete Malbim (Rabbi Meir Loeb ben Jeḥiel Michael, 1809–79). Malbim (1973: §111) states that the genera... [Books] [grammar] [Hebrew] [Linguistics] [Word Order]
The Cartesianism Heidegger targets throughout his treatise [Being and Time] famously revolves around the conception of a self-possessed subject: I am who I am first; I am affected by the world second. But if, as Heidegger contends, this conception is unte... [Books] [ethics]


Most contemporary economic theories, whether capitalist or socialist, treat labor as a natural resource or commodity, on a par with raw materials, and speak in the same terms of its cost and supply. What is hidden by the metaphor is the nature of the labo... [Books] [Metaphors We Live By]
These passages illustrate two things: first, to be included among the sons of God, a disciple must be willing to forgive even their enemies. Second, would-be sons who refuse to forgive their enemies exclude themselves from being or becoming “sons of God... [Books] [lord's prayer] [theology]

April 16, 7AM

One of the parameters by which languages can be classified is basic word order. “Basic” is often understood to mean the pragmatically unmarked or neutral word order. Of the several orders allowed by a particular language, usually one order occurs in a... [Books] [grammar] [Hebrew] [Linguistics] [Word Order]
How do they come among us, these bodies? We see around us smaller instances of ourselves, younger bodies, the less developed forms of children, infants, and babies, of those on four legs and those on two. But these smaller ones do not come from nowhere. T... [Books] [ethics]
In general, the true statements that we make are based on the way we categorize things and, therefore, on what is highlighted by the natural dimensions of the categories. In making a statement, we make a choice of categories because we have some reason fo... [Books] [Linguistics] [Metaphors We Live By]
Jesus thus defines true “greatness” as suffering service to others, not the exercise of dominion over others. For, according to Jesus, those who consider themselves to be the rulers of the nations do when they “lord it over” (κατακυριευ... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [lord's prayer]

April 15, 7AM

The VSO language group makes up about 10% of the languages in the world (Carnie and Guilfoyle 2000: 3), including most of the West Semitic languages, Egyptian, Berber, Celtic, and other languages (O’Connor 1980: 118).— Word Order in the Biblical H... [Books] [Hebrew] [Linguistics] [Word Order]
[W]hen phenomenological scholars have declared that Heidegger ‘had no ehtics’, they were simply appreciating the fact that phenomenology is a descriptive rather than an action-guiding philosophy. Devoid of ethical claims, phenomenology has never sough... [Books] [ethics]
Though questions of truth do arise for new metaphors, the more important question are those of appropriate action. In most cases, what is at issue is not the truth or falsity of a metaphor but the perceptions and inferences that follow from it and the act... [Books] [Linguistics] [Metaphors We Live By]
These texts show that the disciples’ cross is not what it is often thought to be—a metaphor for some difficult family situation, a personal loss, a crushing debt, the frustration of one’s hopes, a nagging in-law. It is, rather, what Jesus’ cross w... [Books] [gospel] [lord's prayer] [theology] [theosis]

April 14, 7AM

We've been having some amazing weather here the last few days. The temperatures have been in the lower 60sF, which is about 20ºF warmer than average. In fact, the whole of spring from the beginning of March has been warmer than the last few years. Of co... [cold frames] [Garden] [Idle Musings] [MacArthur House Cabins]


In a parallel way, in Chapter 3, I contend that the contract formulation of encounters, emanating as it did from the seventeenth-century political philosophy, tempts us to conceive of human encounters which are not mutually dependent and equally willed by... [Books] [ethics]
[H]eaven surely does not compartmentalize its grace, but we speak about types of grace because of the way that they have come to us. The same gracious act of God that enables people to believe is the same grace that saves, which is the same grace that bri... [Books] [prevenient grace] [theology]
New metaphors, like conventional metaphors, can have the power to define reality. They do this through a coherent network of entailments that highlight some features of reality and hide others. The acceptance of the metaphor, which forces us to focus only... [Books] [Linguistics] [Metaphors We Live By]
Jesus taught a number of things about how one becomes or remains a “son” of God. Some of them involved eschewing traditional sources of gaining or maintaining “honor,” such as family connections (see Matt. 10:37-38 // Luke 14:25-35; Matt. 12:46-50... [Books] [gospel] [lord's prayer] [theology]

April 13, 8AM

Buber’s picture of encounters, so I argue in Chapter 2, has ‘held us captive’ by making us think that any human encounter which is not characteristized [sic] by a certain degree of reciprocity—which is not suffused by affection or highly inter-sub... [Books] [ethics] [theology]
Prevenient grace is an attractive doctrine in many ways, most of all because it makes overall sense of Scripture’s powerful collection of human opportunity verses, command and exhortation passages, and the rational thinking capacity that the Lord expect... [Books] [Idle Musings] [prevenient grace] [theology]
New metaphors have the power to create a new reality. This can begin to happen when we start to comprehend our experience in terms of a metaphor, and it becomes a deeper reality when we begin to act in terms of it. If a new metaphor enters the conceptual ... [Books] [Metaphors We Live By]
To answer this, let’s first note two things about Jesus’ teaching on discipleship. First, it takes its cue from the presentation in the book of Deuteronomy regarding (a) who Israel was divinely commissioned to be and (b) what faithful Israelites were ... [Books] [lord's prayer]

April 10, 2PM

Theological hermeneutics is not an intermediate, descriptive step between biblical studies and systematic or dogmatic theology that must somehow find a way to be relevant. I will not be offering here an approach where first the theology of a particular Ne... [Books] [hermeneutics] [scripture]


The pivotal presupposition which justifies this application of phenomenology to ethics is that ethics has a stake in description. Some of the most pivotal moral decisions we face, even decisions taken at moments of crisis, hinge upon competing description... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Metaphors We Live By] [theology]
The Spirit convicts the sinner and invites him or her to salvation, but the Spirit also permits hard-heartedness to be a legitimate human response. In fact, generally the Holy Spirit gives stronger and weaker evidence of the presence and blessing of God a... [Books] [Holy Spirit] [prevenient grace] [theology]
Is paraphrase possible” Can two different sentences ever mean exactly the same thing? Dwight Bolinger has spent most of his career showing that this is virtually impossible and that almost any change in a sentence—whether a change in word order, vocab... [Books] [Copyediting] [grammar] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics] [Metaphors We Live By]
At this point, we have established three things about the Disciples’ Prayer. It is most certainly a prayer and not a compendium of Christian doctrine. It is a Jewish prayer. And, from all appearances, it is the creation of a particular individual, not s... [Books] [lord's prayer]
We are not asked to do anything spectacular. We are entrusted with the task of quietly giving the light of Christ’s spirit and God’s love to a world of human need. No storm can extinguish this light, a light that no darkness can overcome.—Christ... [Christoph Blumhardt]

April 9, 2PM

Just announced, on Jack Sasson's Agade e-list: Proverbs: An Eclectic Edition with Introduction and Textual CommentaryMichael V. FoxHardcover $69.95 ISBN 9781628370201500 pages The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Edition 1 [Books] [HBCE] [Hebrew] [Textual Criticism]


[Wesley] believes that natural man is free only to do evil, while Spirit-assisted man is able to repent of sin, and this has been true since the Fall. God’s enabling us to believe is not meritorious in itself, nor is it inevitably saving. Wesley affirms... [Books] [prevenient grace] [theology] [wesley]
The RESOURCES metaphors for labor and time hide all sorts of possible conceptions of labor and time that exist in other cultures and in some subcultures of our own society: the idea that work can be play, that inactivity can be productive, that much of wh... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics] [Metaphors We Live By]
For it is now clear, thanks to the investigations of Lee Levine and Richard Horsley on first-century-CE synagogues, and of E. P. Sanders on the beliefs and practices of Palestinian (or Formative) Judaism, that there was no fixed synagogue liturgy in Pales... [Books] [lord's prayer]
In about 80% of all languages, a prenominal Possessor is finally marked, a postnominal Possessor initially marked.— The Theory of Functional Grammar Part 1, The Structure of the Clause, page 367 <idle musing>I.e., John’s car versus the car ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics]
There is a spirit among the pious that has no under­standing of God’s kingdom, so that many are even annoyed to see it alive. Since it is active around you, it is sure to offend such people. Pay no attention. Just carry on, and let your deeds speak for... [Books] [Christoph Blumhardt]

April 8, 7AM

By the death of Christ, which Christ passionately advocated as universal in its efficacy, all men were potentially saved. This is not universalism, teaching that all men, ultimately, will be saved, but it is an interpretation of the work of Christ that ma... [Books] [prevenient grace] [theology]
Metaphor and metonymy are different kinds of processes. Metaphor is principally a way of conceiving of one thing in terms of another, and its primary function is understanding. Metonymy, on the other hand, has primarily a referential function, that is, it... [Books] [Linguistics] [Metaphors We Live By]
The Disciples’ Prayer was not based on, let alone derived from the Kaddish, the Amidah, or the Morning Prayer. Despite claims to the contrary, we have no real evidence that these prayers actually existed, let alone were used by Palestinian Jews, in the ... [Books] [lord's prayer]
It follows from these characterizations that indefinite terms will typically be used to introduce a referent into the discourse, whereas definite terms will typically be used for referring back to a referent already established in the discourse. The great... [Books] [Linguistics]
Although great and profound outer changes can occur quite apart from any revelation from God, there is nothing more wonderful than the indwelling Christ. When he is present, streams of living water flow out, bringing life to people. This is something that... [Books] [Christoph Blumhardt] [gospel] [theology]

April 7, 1PM

When a speaker sets out to convey a piece of information, she assumes her addressee already possesses a certain model of the world (i.e. Cognitive Representation) which is what the speaker wishes to influence. The successful conveyance of information, the... [Hebrew] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics]


The very systematicity that allows us to comprehend one aspect of a concept in terms of another (e.g., comprehending an aspect of arguing in terms of battle) will necessarily hide other aspects of the concept. In allowing us to focus on one aspect of a co... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics] [Metaphors We Live By]
James Arminius insists that every person must have the grace of God to be able to repent. The Holy Spirit provides this grace; it does not naturally survive the Fall. “This sufficiency [of grace] must be ascribed to the assistance of the Holy Spirit, by... [Books] [Idle Musings] [prevenient grace] [theology]
But it is not just in its theology that the prayer is Jewish. It is Jewish in its form and in its language. Formally, the structure of the Disciples’ Prayer follows (up to a point) the tripartite scheme of “praise—petitions—thanksgiving” found i... [Books] [lord's prayer] [theology]
We defined an SoA [State of Affairs] as the conception of something which can be the case in some world. We also saw that the constitution of an SoA is not only determined by what is said, but also by how what is said is moulded into the predicate frame. ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics]


We are faced with a paradox: the gospel of God’s coming kingdom seems to us a promise waiting future fulfillment, yet it must be lived out, here and now. We must be able to offer people something they can find nowhere else, and it must be something of p... [Christoph Blumhardt]

April 6, 8AM

I was reading along in Mark this morning in the CEB (my version of choice at the moment), when I stumbled across something that made me do a double-take. In Mark 3, Jesus is calling the twelve with distinct purposes in mind. But what are the purposes? Her... [grammar] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Translation Theory]
“This doctrine [predestination] was never admitted, decreed, or approved in any Council, either general or particular, for the first six hundred years after Christ.” [Arminius, “Declarations of Sentiments”] He believed the hermeneutics of the earl... [Books] [prevenient grace] [theology]


The most important claim we have made so far is that metaphor is not just a matter of language that is, of mere words. We shall argue that, on the contrary, human thought processes are largely metaphorical. This is what we mean when we say that the human ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics] [Metaphors We Live By]
The Disciples’ Prayer recognizes not only that God has a people, but also that he alone is to be King over them. This is a tenet of Jewish theology so vital to the life of Judaism that when non-Jews such as the Greek king of Syria Antiochus Epiphanes an... [Books] [lord's prayer] [theology]
Since distance from the deictic centre is a cognitive matter, it will also be culturally and psychologically determined. What is relatively close in the culture may be relatively distant in another; what is relatively familiar to one person may be relativ... [Books] [grammar] [Linguistics] [Translation Theory]
Our faith demands commitment and accountability. God’s people and our children must not just live for the moment, but must have something to hold on to, something to which they can remain faithful. Yet this is nothing we, as humans, can plan. Keep this ... [Books] [Christoph Blumhardt] [church]

April 5, 7AM


So? So what? Does that change your life? Does it even change your day? Check out this One Time Blind skit that (unfortunately) too often sums up Easter for us [gospel] [Idle Musings] [theology]
It is not enough to celebrate Easter and say “Christ is risen.” It is useless to proclaim this unless at the same time we can say that we have also risen, that we have received something from heaven. We must feel appalled when the tremendous events th... [gospel] [theology]

April 4, 11AM

God has a great sense of humor. In Genesis 30, Rachel is bemoaning the fact that she can't get pregnant. She rails at Jacob, who responds by saying he isn't God. Rachel responds by giving him her servant. All it does is start an arms race between Leah an... [Idle Musings] [scripture] [theology]

April 3, 7AM

Take away free choice and there is nothing to be saved. Take away grace and there is no means of saving. Without the two combined, this work cannot be done: the one as operative principle, the other as object toword which, or in which, it is accomplished.... [augustine] [Books] [prevenient grace] [theology]
But this view [that the LP is a compendium of doctrine] neglects (or chooses to overlook) the fact that according to those who first recorded our text, and presumably to Jesus himself as well, the Disciples’ Prayer is from first to last not a summary of... [Books] [lord's prayer] [Prayer]
Take languages seriously. Whenever there is some overt difference between two constructions X and Y, start out on the assumption that this difference has some kind of functionality in the linguistic system. Rather than pressing X into the preconceived mou... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics] [Metaphors We Live By]


Our task is to “put on the new man” (Col. 3:9–11). If we can bring ourselves to do this, and if the boredom of our theology and our Christianity has not already killed us, we can become people enthusiastic for Jesus. If Christ alone is our light and... [Books] [Christoph Blumhardt] [gospel] [theology]

April 2, 8AM

Good article in the latest issue of JSPL by Matt Harmon, "Letter Carriers and Paul’s Use of Scripture." After surveying the various uses of private letter carriers in the ancient world, he concludes Given the role of letters carriers as apostolic envoys... [church] [Idle Musings] [Paul] [scripture]


In fact, Arminian theology can find consensus with [the Synod of] Orange [529 AD] as its decisions affirmed both human inability and divine enabling. Moreover, Orange rejected a strict Augustinian interpretation that simply affirms prevenient grace: “Th... [augustine] [Books] [Church History] [Idle Musings] [prevenient grace] [theology]
What they think they are praying for when they say, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” is either a remittance of expected punishment for the sins they have individually committed or a release from any and all guilt... [Books] [lord's prayer]


Wherever certain linguistic facts are such that they cannot “naturally” be handled by means of the principles of F[unctional] G[rammar], it is the theory, not the language in question, which will have to be adapted.— The Theory of Functional Gra... [Books] [grammar] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics] [theology]
A movement of the Spirit will never come from religion – especially not from church rectories and parsonages. The institutional churches, in their so-called wisdom, use their authority to crush every free stirring of the Spirit, or at best to ignore it.... [Christoph Blumhardt] [Church History] [Idle Musings]
Holy Week can produce some of the worst in theology sometimes, but it can also produce some of the best. Brian Zahnd's post is in the latter category. Here's a bit of it, but read the whole thing. What the cross is not is a quid pro quo where God agrees t... [Atonement] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [theology]

April 1, 5PM

I just received a new book from Carta, Jerusalem: In the Master's Steps: The Gospels in the LandR. Steven NotleyCarta, Jerusalem, 201588 pages, EnglishISBN: 9789652208514Price: $25.00 Description: This volume, the first of four in The Carta New Testament... [Carta] [Idle Musings] [New Books]


CBD is running a sale on the NIBD for only $99.00. Page 24, here, at the top of the page. Or, you could just go to the web page and order it that way. [Books]


The biblical evidence that Christ’s work is for all people, that the Lord wants all to repent, and that every person can be saved intertwine with the divine enabling passages to show the traditional Arminian position of Jesus’ salvation: Jesus died fo... [Books] [gospel] [prevenient grace] [theology]
[R]eciting a text is not the same thing as praying that text, let alone praying the text as Jesus intended it to be prayed. If we do not understand what the text means, if we have no comprehension of what it is we are saying and what it is we are praying ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [lord's prayer]
It is important to stress that the relation between S[peaker]-intention and A[ddressee]-interpretation is mediated, not established through the linguistics expression. From the point of view of A this means that the interpretation will only in part be bas... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics] [Translation Theory]
Rather remain lowly than be honored by government officials or successful businessmen. The only true and genuine work is hidden; it is a mystery. We must work with much effort and sweat, even when no one understands what we are doing. People only value ou... [Books] [Christoph Blumhardt] [theology]


Indeed! This post follows up on one from last week about the collapsing of virtue into passion. Good thoughts; be sure to read the whole post for more context. Turning now to the modern world, we can see that the concept of love which is extolled as a vir... [Idle Musings] [theology] [Thomas Aquinas]

March 31, 8AM

Jeffrey Gibson was kind enough to send me a prepublication version of his forthcoming book on the Lord's Prayer. For the next few weeks or so, I'll be excerpting from it. Let's start with his translation of the prayer, which he calls (correctly, I think)... [Books] [Idle Musings] [lord's prayer] [Prayer]


There’s probably a part of you that wants a guarantee—you want to know that the risk of sharing your secrets will be worth it. You want to know how this journey will look, step-by-step, and how it will end. Well, God doesn’t usually work that way. A... [Books] [gospel] [theology] [What's your secret?]
The Prince of this World is the dominant force behind all government. And this is more distressing when governments claim to be on a Christian basis. Jesus and his Spirit cannot rule because our human schemes maintain absolute control.—Christoph Blu... [Books] [Christoph Blumhardt] [Idle Musings] [theology]


“Go in through the narrow gate. The gate that leads to destruction is broad and the road wide, so many people enter through it. But the gate that leads to life is narrow and the road difficult, so few people find it. (Matthew 7:13-14 CEB)

March 30, 7AM

The principle of universal opportunity is far from universalism, as God still allows His gracious work to be rejected by nonbelievers, His call described in these passages does not ensure a positive response. Grace does not necessitate repentance, either ... [Books] [prevenient grace] [theology]
There is something about being heart focused that frees us, and that’s why Jesus continually addresses the heart. He lambasted the Pharisees for neglecting the heart, pointed the rich ruler toward an issue of the heart, and praised the widow for her ful... [Books] [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [theology] [What's your secret?]
Most adjectives and other modifiers of the noun, however, convey no such semantic difference between attributive and predicative position. In general, modifiers can be freely placed before or after their head in both definite and indefinite NPs [noun phra... [grammar] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics]


We can accomplish nothing for God’s kingdom on the basis of human strength. All we can say is that “we are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty” (Luke 17:10). Jesus empowers the workers in his vineyard to overcome the world. It is not we wh... [Books] [Christoph Blumhardt] [theology]

March 29, 8AM

And it’s actually true – God is dead! Of course he isn’t really dead, but in the lives of people he is dead. Nobody gets very excited if you say “God”; that is one of the most boring things in the world. When a rabbit jumps up in a field, everyb... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [theology]


Lord, the depths of a person’s conscience lie exposed before your eyes. Could I hide anything from you, even if I did not want to confess it to you? If I tried I would only be hiding you from myself, not myself from you. Whoever I am, Lord, I lie expose... [augustine] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [theology]

March 27, 6PM

"Seppli, Seppli!" he [Father Clemens] said kindly, as he pressed his hand, "what have I heard ? Are you not willing to follow Stanzeli when she wishes to go into the chapel? I wish to tell you something: our Heavenly Father does not command us to go into ... [Books] [Prayer]


Within the framework of Functional Grammar, she [Helma Dik, Word Order in Ancient Greek, 1995; Word Order in Greek Tragic Dialogue, 2007] argues that the order of content words (i.e., Dover’s mobiles) in Classical Greek clauses can be accounted for by ... [grammar] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun] [Linguistics]


Arminians affirm that it was necessary for God to initiate salvation because man was spiritually depraved by his Adamic inheritance.— Prevenient Grace: God’s Provision for Fallen Humanity, page 40 [Books] [prevenient grace] [theology]
Satan wants us to believe that God will reject us if we run to Him, convincing us that we had better run away from Him. Satan blinds us to God’s compassion and mercy and skews our perception of God. Convinced that God is mad at us, we buy into the lie t... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [theology] [What's your secret?]

March 26, 7PM

Got this today from "Catch the Buzz" a beekeeper e-mail. It originally appeared in Food Manufacturing News. Inspired by the popular "USDA organic" label, House Republicans are proposing a new government certification for foods free of genetically modified... [GMO foods] [Idle Musings]


I just ran across this editorial on Mother Earth News about seed sharing. Read the whole thing, but this paragraph grabbed me: Minnesota’s seed law, for example, is so broad that it basically prohibits gardeners from sharing or giving away seeds unless ... [Garden] [Idle Musings] [Insanity!]
The active force of the verb “suppress” (katechontōn) captures the intentional, counterworking effort of rebellios humankind to the effort of God or his revelation to show them his attributes. If the truth is actively suppressed, does that not sugges... [Books] [Idle Musings] [prevenient grace] [theology]


He piles on embarrassment, disappointment, frustration, fear, guilt, and shame by the truckload. The smooth-sounding tone, pseudo-promises, and seductive words of the deceiver quickly morph into the soul-crushing, shame-laden, degrading words of the accus... [Books] [gospel] [theology] [What's your secret?]
Recently, Chuck Pierce is in the news for "mantling" Glenn Beck. You can read about it here and the reactions, with Pierce's response, here. I chose Charisma News as the link because it is relatively favorable to this type of thing. I don't want to import... [Idle Musings] [theology]

March 25, 10PM

The way things are going, I thought maybe I had misread James 1:27:θρησκεία ⸆ καθαρὰ καὶ ἀμίαντος παρὰ °τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρὶ αὕτη ἐστίν, ⌜ἐπισκέπτεσθαι ὀρφανοὺς καὶ ... [grammar] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Textual Criticism]


I'm in the midst of reading Chip Hardy's dissertation on the Hebrew preposition. Interesting stuff—very linguistic in orientation. I came across this little tidbit, which I really like [I couldn't get the transliteration to paste correctly, sorry]: ... [grammar] [Hebrew] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics]


Yet in Romans 1, Paul condemns those who fail to honor God and says they are without excuse for it. This does not seem congruent; it requires us to believe that these people are too depraved to repent before God, but not too depraved to be able to recogni... [Books] [Idle Musings] [prevenient grace] [theology]
The reality is that most people are deeply connected to their hurt. It becomes part of their identities. To let go of it means major change.—What’s Your Secret? page 158 [Books] [What's your secret?]
The death of Christ should not be seen as the expression of divine anger or even wrath, but as the expression of divine love. It is the gift of God’s son and, at least in some sense, the gift of God’s own self: “God was in Christ . . .” (2 Cor 5:1... [Atonement] [Books] [Idle Musings] [Michael Gorman] [theology]
Even though I object to the "us versus them" attitude in this post, this paragraph makes it worth posting: While Christian theologians have typically regarded a concept such as love as both a passion and a virtue, modern secular society has collapsed the ... [theology]

March 24, 8AM

I just discovered that Steve Runge, whose blog has lain fallow since last fall, is now doing a weekly blurb on Greek and discourse grammar—the heading says it will eventually also include Hebrew. Right now, he is two weeks into every first year Gree... [grammar] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics] [theology]


“But who wrote these words is quite a pointless question when we believe confidently that the Holy Spirit is the true author of the book. The writer is the one who dictates things to be written. The writer is the one who inspires the book and recounts t... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Patristics] [scripture]
When we turn to bitterness or wrath, failing to forgive, we become part of the problem. Our humanity broke things in the first place, so why do we think our own fix will contribute to true justice? Do we really believe that getting even will make the worl... [Books] [gospel] [What's your secret?]
The same new Testament writers who use new-covenant language also use the language of sacrifice. forgiveness of sins via the sacrifice of Christ is an essential, but not a sufficient, dimension of an atonement model rooted in the New Testament texts. To s... [Books] [Michael Gorman] [theology]

March 23, 8PM

For as the different strings of the harp or lyre, each of which gives forth a sound of its own seemingly unlike that of any other, are thought by the unmusical who do not understand the theory of harmony to be discordant because the sounds are dissimilar,... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Patristics] [Psalms] [theology]


A week or three ago, we were in the Grand Marais Public Library, picking up an interlibrary loan book or two or three or...well, you get the idea, when I got to talking to the head librarian. One of the things we discussed was the Internet comic, Unshelve... [Just for Fun] [Libraries]
When speaking of Martha and Mary, Augustine’s emphasis lies with Mary as a type of the life to come: “Mary…has shown us a likeness of this joy beforehand…she rested from every occupation and was absorbed with the truth according to the manner of w... [augustine] [Books] [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [theology] [theosis]
Forgiveness is not about disregarding justice. For me, holding on to an offense reflects my desire for the offender to hurt as much as I have. We don’t like to be this honest, but our hesitance to forgive is often based in our desire for some kind of re... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [theology] [What's your secret?]
So what is an appropriate politic for those who claim allegiance to the crucified Messiah? It is the task of every Christian community, in each and every time and place, to seek the will of God, the mind of Christ, and the guidance of the Spirit in discer... [Books] [church] [gospel] [Michael Gorman] [theology]


Scot McKnight has a post of a recent interview with J.I. Packer concerning Anglicanism. This paragraph caught my attention: [I]n Anglican circles, any question can be asked and the Anglican ethic is to take the question seriously and discuss it responsibl... [Idle Musings] [theology]

March 19, 9AM

The term marí (“my lord”) is frequently used in Syriac literature to refer to holy people.—David Eastman, The Deaths of the Apostles: Ancient Accounts of the Martyrdoms of Peter and Paul, Society of Biblical Literature, forthcoming, chapter 4, ... [Books] [Just for Fun] [syriac]


I therefore conclude that, in Hebrew, verbal forms were marked for social dynamics. Scribes chose unmarked forms when no distinction needed to be made between the social status of the speaker and that of the listener. In con- texts where the social dynami... [Books] [grammar] [Hebrew] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun] [Linguistics]
I’ve heard horrific stories of how people have been violated and traumatized. When I suggest that they need to forgive the one who hurt them, initially it might seem incomprehensible, even impossible. And I think it is … on our own. That is why we mus... [Books] [gospel] [theology] [What's your secret?]
Members of the new-covenant community are still to seek the welfare of the city in which they reside, as Jeremiah told the exiles (Jer 29:7). But this must be a good they seek in cruciform mode. Their lives should be a living presence and voice that refle... [Books] [Michael Gorman] [theology]

March 18, 6AM

My study shows that the Hebrew yiqtol embodies a number of prefix conjugations: the indicative yaqtulu, the jussive yiqtol, and the volitive yaqtula. On certain types of verbs, the morphological features of the jussive differ from those of the indicative ... [Books] [grammar] [Hebrew]
We always have a good reason why we’re exempt from this commandment [to forgive] after people hurt us repeatedly. But there is no biblical caveat that says, “Forgive unless you can’t muster up the strength or unless your situation is really, really ... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [theology] [What's your secret?]
For all kinds of reasons, members of the new-covenant community should operate with a hermeneutic, an interpretive posture, of suspicion vis-à-vis the powers, since those powers crucified Jesus. The Gospel of John reminds us that political power is often... [Books] [Michael Gorman] [theology]
Pray that Jerusalem has peace: "Let those who love you have rest. Let there be peace on your walls; let there be rest on your fortifications." For the sake of my family and friends, I say, "Peace be with you, Jerusalem." (Psalms 122:6-...


I love this translation of מֵֽעַתָּ֗ה וְעַד־עוֹלָֽם (me`attah we`ad `olam) in the Common English Bible: "from now until forever from now." There's much to like in the CEB: Instruction for תורה (Torah), faithful love for חסד (... [Greek] [Hebrew] [Idle Musings] [Translation Theory]

March 17, 8AM

I'm a copy editor, among other things, and I have three basic tools that I carry with me everywhere: The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition, and SBL Handbook of Style, 2nd edition. I suppose I cou... [abbreviations] [Copyediting] [SBLHS2]


Is the presence of the volitive yiqtol in Samuel a coincidence, or should we suspect a scribal tradition in which the volitive functions of the yiqtol (< yaqtula) were well known? Could the scribes of Samuel have been familiar with the Hebrew volitive yaq... [bhq] [Books] [grammar] [HBCE] [Hebrew] [Idle Musings] [Textual Criticism]
Trying to help ourselves leaves no space for God. Effort that cooperates with the work of God makes space for Him. Consider the ideas in part 1 of this book: the actions of confession and repentance. Repentance is not an effort that earns us salvation; it... [Books] [gospel] [theology] [What's your secret?]
A reconstructed pronunciation of both Greek and Latin was suggested by the Humanist Erasmus in a treatise of 1528: the early Humanists had learned Greek from Byzantine scholars, who used the Byzantine (i.e., modern Greek) pronunciation of the Greek letter... [Books] [grammar] [Greek] [Idle Musings]


The New Testament proclaims that the reign of God has already begun in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Therefore members of the new-covenant community formed by his death constitute an alter-culture (an alternative culture) within whichever ho... [Books] [church] [Michael Gorman] [theology]

March 16, 12 PM

What did it mean to be a Christian, a true Christian, among the early followers of Jesus? The evidence suggests that a key element in this definition was suffering. A true Christian followed the example of Jesus to suffering and even death, and Peter and ... [Books] [church] [Idle Musings]


All ancient Near Easterners had the greatest respect for their gods and goddesses. The continuance of their existence, their community, government and city, utterly depended on the supernatural realm’s good graces. The deities were all-powerful, all-wis... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings]
There is a tradition among classicists of referring to the retention of inherited [ā] (where Attic-Ionic changed to [ē]) as "Doric alpha." This comes from the fact that students of ancient Greek are brought up on grammars which give Attic-Ionic as the n... [Books] [grammar] [Greek] [Idle Musings]


God is not our self-help guru, available to use when we need Him. God is not someone we’re trying to fit into our world in order to “bless” our relationships, our careers, our finances, or to help us kick some bad habits. Sin is not reserved for tho... [Books] [gospel] [theology] [What's your secret?]
The close relationship of the Spirit to the cross, that is, to atonement, means that, whatever else the cross does, it connects people to God and to one another in a transformative way. To be saved by the cross of Christ is not only to be forgiven but als... [Atonement] [Books] [church] [gospel] [Michael Gorman]


The Lord is compassionate and merciful, very patient, and full of faithful love. God won’t always play the judge; he won’t be angry forever. He doesn’t deal with us according to our sin or repay us according to our wrongdoin...

March 14, 8AM

I'm reading too many books right now! I usually have 1–2 books going at a time, but right now I'm in the midst of, well...too many. As usual, an eclectic list of eccentric books, all delightful! First off, I'm in the midst of Chip Hardy's dissertation, ... [Books] [gospel] [Greek] [Hebrew] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics] [theology]


Roger Olson talks about anti-intellectualism in this post. Read the whole thing, but to give you a taste of it... To a very large extent American “Christianity” simply fits in with our overwhelmingly secular and increasingly pagan culture that is driv... [church] [Idle Musings] [theology]

March 13, 7AM

Apocalypticism can therefore be interpreted as an attempt to mediate between a basic theological starting point and historical data that appears to contradict it. Its attempts to address this problem are so radical that they generally call for new revelat... [Books] [theology]
The victim confirms a relationship between himself and the clod of earth. Once he tells the contents of his dream to it, he then utters three maledictions. The first is a simile curse. It affirms and establishes the function of the clod’s disintegration... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!]
Though self-help Christianity has been around for thousands of years, there are some deep-rooted tendencies that keep it alive. At the core of it all, we are selfish beings and we believe we are at the center of the universe, not God. When we think we can... [Books] [gospel] [theology] [What's your secret?]
For Paul, we have seen, peace and peacemaking are constitutive of Jesus’ identity, his father’s identity, the Spirit’s identity, the kingdom’s identity, and the church’s identity. That is, the Triune God is the God of peace, and the peace of God... [Books] [gospel] [Michael Gorman] [Shalom] [theology] [theosis]

March 12, 11AM

Caution: Heavy duty Greek ahead. Weird. I was editing along on this discourse handbook on the book of James when I noticed the phrase δὲ ἐν.... It occurred to me, why isn't the ε elided to give δʼ instead? For that matter, how often does δέ get... [grammar] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun] [Linguistics]


Curse-acts supporting unconditional curses are perhaps the most horrifying and are generally used reactively. Because no stipulations are attached to the malediction, the harm the curse-acts depict are to guide the deities in their present judgment of the... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!]
Just ran across this post: 28 Questions Every English Language and Linguistics Student Has Asked. My favorite is number 26: Are half of these terms even real words? But number 27 is a close second: Why does Microsoft Word not appreciate my language skills... [humor?] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun] [Linguistics]


The efficacy of prayer in not grounded in the verbosity of the orant, but rather in the good disposition of the Father to respond to his children. The recitation of the LP [Lord's Prayer] is not an exercise in magic. Proper working is important, but this ... [ANE religion] [book] [Idle Musings] [lord's prayer] [Prayer] [theology]
And the door to repentance is confession. Confession is the statement that says, “I can’t do it on my own. I am responsible for what I have done, and I need help.” Confession is the admission of a need. Repentance is engaging God as the answer.&mdas... [Books] [gospel] [theology] [What's your secret?]
Those who are beneficiaries of God’s peace become instruments of God’s peace. This peace, we must remember, is the comprehensive shalom promised by the prophets, inclusive of restorative justice and coterminous with the kingdom of God.— The Deat... [Books] [gospel] [Michael Gorman] [Shalom]

March 11, 12 PM

I just heard that my Hittite professor from the University of Chicago, Harry Hoffner died unexpectedly yesterday. Sad news indeed. You can read a bit more about him here. I know that some students didn't like him, but I found him to be an excellent teac... [grammar] [Hittite]


It is far from certain that the professional curser required a view of the target on every occasion. Indeed, this may not have been always feasible. Even so, some kind of connection between the specialist and the intended victim appears to be essential. W... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings]
Prayer is a determining factor in the unfolding of the Heilsgeschichte [salvation history]. God’s divine plan of salvation is driven forward by the prayers of Jesus and his followers. Plymale concludes that, “Prayer is God’s way of guiding and imple... [Books] [lord's prayer] [theology]
Is the cross fundamental to your faith? What would happen if the cross were removed from your walk with God? Would anything change? There is no better place to engage God, who is the spiritual solution to our spiritual problems, than at the cross. It is t... [Books] [gospel] [theology] [What's your secret?]
Practicing peace is therefore a form of bearing witness to the gospel in the most difficult circumstances, the expression of the teaching and example of both Jesus and Paul to refrain from retaliation and to love one’s enemies. By obeying and imitating ... [Books] [gospel] [Michael Gorman] [pacifism] [theology]


Do not allow me to judge according to the light of my bodily eyes, nor to give sentence according to the hearing of ignorant men’s ears. But let me distinguish with true judgment between things visible and spiritual, and always seek above all things You... [Thomas à Kempis]

March 10, 1PM

Why the sudden irrationality of Muslim baiting? What's going on? Is this the U.S. version of the lead-up to Kristallnacht? I agree with this guy's post (read the whole thing, but here's the summary): I’ve seen nothing in my Muslim neighbors worthy of a ... [gospel] [Idle Musings] [theology]
This conference looks great. I wish I could attend, but I have it on good authority that there will be a conference proceedings volume. Look for it in November at AAR/SBL... [Books] [grammar] [Greek] [Linguistics]


The action of the main clause is the focus of attention. The comparative frame presents the manner in which the main action should be done by establishing it as the basis for the clause that follows. We probably would accomplish this kind of task most nat... [Books] [discourse analysis] [Greek] [Linguistics] [Runge] [Translation Theory]


Num 5:11–31, the incident of the jealous husband, provides the clearest evidence that Yahweh’s priests administered curses. Although much has been written on this pericope, few have recognized that there is but one procedure recorded here: the issuanc... [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [theology]
Jesus is inviting his followers to be players in the eschatological unfolding of the Father’s plan. He promises that after his departure, he will be in their midst when they gather. Heaven will be present on earth, and the ecclesia on earth will make it... [Books] [lord's prayer] [theology]
Recently I heard a girl say, “I just don’t know why people make such a big deal about the cross.” At first I was appalled, but then my heart broke. She considered herself a Christian but had essentially embraced a cross-less Christianity . She belie... [Books] [gospel] [theology] [What's your secret?]
Paul does not merely hold out Christ as an example, but points to him as a living presence with and in whom the church has koinōnia inasmuch as it practices peace—the peace of the crucified and resurrected Messiah. he is the Lord of peace, the son of t... [Books] [church] [gospel] [Michael Gorman] [theology] [theosis]
Lord God, Holy Father, may You be blessed now and in eternity. For as You will, so is it done; and what You do is good. Let Your servant rejoice in You—not in himself or in any other, for You alone are true joy. You are my hope and my crown. You, O ... [Thomas à Kempis]

March 9, 2PM

The next clause [of John 1:1] places θεός in position P2 for the sake of emphasis. The omission of the article serves to disambiguate whether θεός is the subject or direct object [sic]. Since both λόγος and θεός are established and known,... [grammar] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics] [Runge] [theology] [Trinity]


No single linguistic theory is robust enough on its own to adequately account for every aspect of language. It is too diverse and complex to make this a realistic expectation. Each different linguistic framework was developed to tackle different problems,... [Books] [Greek] [Linguistics] [Runge]


They default expectation of natural information flow is that focal information will be placed as close to the end of the clause as the typology of the language allows. Placing focal information in the P2 position represents the choice to take what was alr... [Books] [grammar] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics] [Runge]


Structurally and theologically, the expression “on earth as it is in heaven” is the centerpiece of the prayer. It conveys a vision for heaven and earth being brought into harmony. The LP [Lord’s Prayer] does not depict heaven as the ‘analogue’ o... [Books] [lord's prayer] [theology]
The effectiveness of an imprecation pronounced by the amateur is also heavily dependent on the circumstances that led to the malediction’s initial declaration. This should be no surprise because a curse is fundamentally a solicitation to a deity for a j... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!]
Tips and techniques can’t transform a heart or kill sin. Am I saying that we should ditch the helpful tips altogether? No. Instead we should give them the proper roles in our lives. We love to break our problems into small pieces, thinking that if we do... [Books] [gospel] [theosis] [What's your secret?]


It should be stressed that Luke does not portray Jesus’ death as an act of peacemaking rather than an atoning sacrifice. it is both, with forgiveness of sins being the factor common to both aspects, and to the death’s effectiveness in inaugurating the... [Books] [gospel] [Michael Gorman] [theology]
There is scarcely anything in which you so need to die to self as in seeing and suffering things that are against your will, especially when things that are commanded seem inconvenient or useless. Then, because you are under authority, and dare not resist... [Books] [Thomas à Kempis]

March 8, 7AM

"I would never use a gun," I say out loud. I would be forever tied to stores for bullets, and the friendly spirit of my mountaintop would be violated. The birds would not come and sit on my hand, Baron Weasel would move out, and Jessie Coon James would no... [Books]

March 7, 10AM

It's been a while since I posted stuff from elsewhere—not that I don't read it, I just fail to post it. Usually what happens is that I mark something and then fail to post it until it is so old that it doesn't make any sense. Well, for some reason this ... [church] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [pacifism] [sermon on the mount] [theology]

March 6, 8AM

Testing may come by the initiative of God, or it may be expressed in the actions and attitudes of the people. “Lead us not into testing” means ‘don’t put us to the test,’ even as it articulates the plea: ‘don’t let us test you.’ In either ... [Books] [lord's prayer] [theology]
The verbal character of lay curses in illiterate societies contributed not only to their dangerousness but also to their ubiquitousness. They are dangerous because once declared, curses enjoyed an independent existence that could not be readily supervised... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!]
Perhaps because we are impatient and addicted to quick fixes, one-answer solutions, and shortcuts, we love the three steps to a healthy marriage, the four keys to finding your calling, or the top ten ways to financial freedom. These tips may be helpful, b... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [theology] [What's your secret?]


Jesus identifies the cup as “the new covenant in my blood” (22:20). In this statement and his acceptance of suffering just noted, Jesus is forswearing the use of violence to bring about the kingdom of God; he is prepared to shed his own blood, rather ... [Books] [gospel] [Michael Gorman] [pacifism] [theology]
[T]hat which is alloyed with self-interest is not pure and perfect.Ask, therefore, not for what is pleasing and convenient to yourself, but for what is acceptable to Me and is for My honor, because if you judge rightly, you ought to prefer and follow My w... [Prayer] [theology] [Thomas à Kempis]

March 5, 9AM

I’m in the middle of editing a book and ran across the word ἀργός. Here’s the LSJ entry: ἀργός (B), όν, later ή, όν Arist.EN1167a11, Mete.352a13, Thphr.Lap.27, Ath.Mech.12.11, etc.: (contr. from ἀεργός) And here's the BDAG entr... [grammar] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun] [Linguistics]


I recently read a dissertation on the Lord's Prayer. For the next couple of days, I'll be excerpting from it. The author of the dissertation, David Clark, is the leader of the YWAM base where Joel and Renee are serving. In the proclamation of Jesus, the s...
While we may assume that all people engaged in cursing, we cannot assume that the ancient Near Easterners perceived every curse they uttered to be equally efficacious. Certainly, some maledictions were believed to be more potent than others. What contribu... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!]
Sometimes tips and techniques seem great because they allow us to take action and feel better. But in reality they don’t change much because they don’t actually address the roots of the problems. Why? Because the seven deadly sins are not just problem... [Books] [gospel] [What's your secret?]
Ironically, then, the one who seeks peacefully to bring good news to all will be perceived as, and eventually crucified as, bad news—a threat to peace and security. This is, paradoxically, both true and false. On the one hand, because Jesus’ way of th... [Books] [gospel] [Michael Gorman] [theology]
For I confess truly that I am accustomed to be very much distracted. Very often I am not where bodily I stand or sit; rather, I am where my thoughts carry me. Where my thoughts are, there am I; and frequently my thoughts are where my love is. That which n... [Thomas à Kempis]

March 4, 10AM

I was just informed of a review of Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities (thanks, Classics-L list!). If the book is half as delightful as the review... Here's a few snippets from the review that are priceless: As for philological sing... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun] [philology]


[I]n the Incarnation, we find the Son of God joined to a man and the fullness of the Holy Spirit present as a singular gift to Christ. In both aspects the incarnate Christ is different from other humans, for the Son of God does not assume any other human,... [Books] [Holy Spirit] [Idle Musings] [theology] [Trinity]


In Num 12:9, Yahweh’s temper is provoked when Miriam and Aaron question Moses’s authority: וַיִּחַר אַף יְהוָה בָּם וַיֵּלַךְ, 'and the anger of Yahweh was kindled against them and he departed’. Consequently, divine ire... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings] [theology]
In a culture that promotes avoiding weakness at all costs, it is good to be reminded of our desperate need for God. We don’t need reminders of our greatness as much as we need reminders of our weakness. Maybe we should spend less time focusing on our se... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [What's your secret?]
For Paul, then, Jesus is “the Messiah, our peace” (cf. Eph 2:14) by virtue of his peacemaking death that has made God’s enemies into God’s friends, and has also made people who are naturally quite different and even estranged into one body, one re... [Books] [church] [gospel] [Michael Gorman] [theology]
Somebody said it this way: “‘My kingdom go’ is a necessary correlator of ‘They kingdom come.’” Until your kingdom goes, His kingdom cannot come.—A.W. Tozer, Voice of a Prophet, page 195 [Books] [theology] [tozer]

March 3, 9AM

It is clear from the tone of these lines that the ritual is not an end in and of itself. The final appeasement of the angered deities is still pending. The use of the precative (line 112, liškunū; 121, liššakin) and the prohibitive (line 113, ayy ir... [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings] [scripture] [theology]


Too often, I think, we desire a Savior who, after assuring us of eternal lie, leaves us alone until our next crisis. We want Him to comfort us but never convict us; we desire Him to heal us but not inhabit us. We want the Holy Spirit to help us obtain the... [Books] [cheap grace] [Idle Musings] [theosis]
I’ve talked with people who have learned about the power of confession and found it easy to share their past secrets, but have difficulty confessing their present secrets. Confession isn’t just about the past. Rather confession is about the secret tha... [Books] [gospel] [What's your secret?]
This love the Messiah had and has for the world and for the church is not, for Paul, only a reference to Jesus’ deep concern for individuals’ salvation in the sense of their reconciliation to God—though it is clearly and emphatically that. Indeed, e... [Books] [Michael Gorman] [theology]
These are the days of projects and enterprises and ambitions from little fellows who have not stayed in Jerusalem long enough to be endued with power. They go out in the power of educated flesh and put on a project, and then ask God to bless their project... [church] [theology] [tozer]

March 2, 9AM

As is characteristic of simile maledictions, the curse opens with kima (line 130) ‘like’, ‘just as’. The simile builds on the flour’s particular properties. As flour, the grain will never enjoy propagation. It is useless to the farmer. Never wil... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings]
Now the idea that Christ seeks to perfect our faith makes a fine doctrine, but in the practical outworking of our lives, we deeply resist the idea. For we know that faith, in order [to] be perfected must be tested.— This Day We Fight!, page 111 <... [Books] [theology]
Transparency is about you, while vulnerability is about you and others. Confession to others is about inviting the help and strength of others into your situation. This is more than just semantics; it’s about the difference between humility and pride, b... [Books] [church] [gospel] [What's your secret?]
These first three peace texts in Luke—first the promise of imminent peace to be brought by the Messiah (Luke 1:79); then, immediately, the inauguration of peace in the birth of the Messiah (Luke 2:14); and then, immediately, the confession of Simeon (Lu... [Books] [church] [gospel] [Michael Gorman] [pacifism] [theology]
The first prayer was, “Hallowed be Thy name.” For God to be exalted, for us to put God up first, we must let God have first place in our thinking; we must let Him have first place in our giving, and first place in our lives, our homes, our business, o... [Books] [theology] [tozer]


I'm probably way behind the curve here, but I just discovered over the weekend how to add fonts to an iPad... Why would I want to do that, you ask? Well, for one thing, I'm sick of Syriac displaying as square boxes : ) For another, now that Dropbox integr... [Computer woes] [Greek] [Hebrew] [Idle Musings] [ipad] [syriac]

March 1, 10AM

This illumination of the Holy Spirit is part of the re-ordering of the monk's heart and mind, at first simply to combat thoughts which arise from the devil and from the disordered self, but eventually as enlightenment about the mysteries of the faith in t... [Books] [Holy Spirit] [Idle Musings] [scripture]


In former times, prayer was able to rescue from fire and beasts and hunger, even before it received its perfection from Christ. How much greater then is the power of Christian prayer?—Tertullian [Prayer] [theology]

February 28, 1PM

"According to a number of biblical scholars the spoken word in ancient Israel 'is never an empty sound but an operative reality whose action cannot be hindered once it has been pronounced'" (Thiselton on Hermeneutics, p. 53; the quoted material is from Ja... [ANE religion] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics] [theology]

February 27, 10AM

I'm editing a discourse handbook right now and ran across this little gem: James provides an important qualification to the type of faith he is referring to with the phrase ἐὰν μὴ ἔχῃ ἔργα (if it does not have works). Though one could ar... [theology]


Wow! James was a real Word of Faith preacher (2:15-16a):ἐὰν ἀδελφὸς ἢ ἀδελφὴ γυμνοὶ ὑπάρχωσιν καὶ λειπόμενοι τῆς ἐφημέρου τροφῆς εἴπῃ δέ τις αὐτοῖς ἐξ ὑμ... [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun] [theology]


In order to counteract problems of this type [a curse being directed against you], a person had two management options. First, he or she could consign the rābiṣu to an associate demon that is equally “evil.” Because two negative beings, both hosti... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings]
For our marriage, God’s grace is there when we need it. We have both changed so much in the last 35 years that I can only thank the Lord. Forgiving each other helps. Forgiveness is the key to building and maintaining a healthy relationship. God gives us... [Books] [Holiness]
I have had lively debates with friends over questions like “Should a cheating spouse tell their spouse what they have done if they have the help they need? Won’t it preserve the family if the spouse doesn’t know?” The reality is that the truth mus... [Books] [gospel] [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [What's your secret?]
Righteousness and faithfulness, peace and security: these are the traits of the Messianic age. In 11:10–11 Isaiah extends these benefits beyond Israel to the Gentiles; he internationalizes the messianic peace.— The Death of the Messiah and the Bir... [Books] [gospel] [Michael Gorman] [theology]
The clash of the prophets was between the ideal and the actual. The people to whom they brought the message believed they were okay. They bought into the idea that if they had pleasant thoughts everything would be all right. Indeed, such is the case today... [Books] [theology] [tozer]
Wow! I just saw an abstract of an article by Udo Schnelle about early Christianity, with thanks to Evangelical Textual Criticism for the link. Unfortunately it is behind a pay wall so I can't get the full details, but it is sure to stir up a controversy. ... [Church History] [Idle Musings]

February 26, 8AM

Esarhaddon is inclusive in his anxiety and describes two ways a malediction is rendered impotent. First, a curse could be ‘turned back’ (târu, lines 377, 379). Undoubtedly, this refers to the procedure of returning a curse to its source. Second, a cu... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!]
The key is staying humble. I don’t believe most people intentionally hurt each other, but it does happen. I sincerely do not want to hurt her [his wife] or my children in any way. If we can remove the hurt, we can cultivate the love.— This Day We ... [Books] [Holiness]
The Bible talks more about confessing to others than it does about confessing to God. We must not forget the need to confess to God as a step toward repentance, but we must also tell someone else. Much of our Christian culture advises us to tell God and b... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [revival] [What's your secret?]
The phrase “Peace and righteousness (or justice)” is frequently shorthand for the eschatological or messianic age in both the OT—including Isaiah specifically—and in at least some Second Temple texts. Paul both knows this slogan and develops it, a... [Books] [Michael Gorman] [theology]
I do not like the kind of evangelism that gets people in by cards. I think there ought to be a cry of pain. There ought to be a birth within. I feel there should be the terror of seeing ourselves in violent contrast to the holy, holy, holy God. And if it ... [Books] [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [tozer]

February 25, 8AM

The problem is that too many Christians have confused peace with passivity. They have hollow peace instead of hallowed peace. Their lives are prayerless and they live in perpetual compromise with heaven’s enemies. This is not peace; it is bondage.&mdash... [Books]
Apparently, the ever-cautious Esarhaddon assessed a conditional self-curse on the citizens of Sippar. Yet the character of this particular malediction is very ominous. It is an arrat la napšur ‘a curse that cannot be released” (N of parāšu). Becau... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings]
This is going to require soul-searching courage. Not only the courage to face it yourself but also the courage to show someone else. By keeping the secrets of our hearts locked behind closed doors, we think we can avoid what lurks in the depths. Maybe we ... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [What's your secret?]
As we have examined the practices of faithfulness and love that the predictions of Jesus’ death generate, and that are the essence of participation in that death, we have seen that these practices are all counterintuitive and countercultural. They are a... [Books] [Michael Gorman] [theology]
One of the things wrong with us today is that we do not repent enough. The reason we do not have more repentance is that we repent for what we do instead of for what we are. The repentance for what you do may go deep, but the repentance for what you are g... [Books] [theology] [tozer]

February 24, 11PM

I read the NIV2011 of Prov 3:5–6 yesterday that made me do a double take. Here it is; tell me what's wrong with it: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your ... [Greek] [Hebrew] [Idle Musings] [Latin] [scripture] [syriac]


God calls us to be prayer warriors, not prayer worriers!— This Day We Fight!<idle musing>Disclaimer: This book is full of bad theology and American Exceptionalism. I don't recommend it at all! It was written shortly after 9/11/2001 and reflect... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Prayer] [theology]
From the ancient Near Easterners’ point of view, a spell’s sturdiness and effectiveness would find additional reinforcement through similes that compared its “string” of words to the strings of a net or twine. As the twined threads of a net are tw... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!]
Notice David’s blunt honesty and decision not to sugarcoat the truth. He doesn’t deny, deflect, minimize, or rationalize. David lets it all hang out. He calls himself sinful and evil and admits his inability to fix the problem. David’s honest confes... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [What's your secret?]
To pick up one’s cross and follow Jesus in suffering, generosity, and love (the essence of the three passion prediction-summonses) is not to imitate as much as it is to participate.— The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of the New Covenant, page... [Books] [gospel] [Michael Gorman] [theosis]


Man craves that which is holy and tries to manufacture it to satiate his thirst.—A.W. Tozer, Voice of a Prophet, page 165 [Books] [theology] [tozer]

February 23, 7PM

A morphological oddity that is evident in all I-E languages is the alternation of the vowel e with the vowel o. This is not a sound change but a morphological marker of Indo-European: thus the Greek verb pherō “I carry” has an e in the stem pher-, b... [Books] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics]


So in this case [the letters of Ignatius] one is actually dealing with eleventh-century manuscripts witnessing to a second-century writing which often loosely cites the text of the NT in the (vain?) hope of trying to glean insights into the state of the t... [Books] [Church History] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Textual Criticism]


I'm working on a project for ASOR and ran across this: "[The new life of a baptized believer is] symbolized in many ways, both in ritual and text, this is also illuminated through the octagonal shape of baptisteries and fonts, as the number eight indicate... [church] [Church History] [Idle Musings] [theology]


What is most curious about the Exodus account is the disjunction between the traditional interpretation of separation due to heavenly malediction and affiliation due to benediction. Typically, what is cursed is banished from the deity, and what is blessed... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [theology]
[T]o say that we should be intolerant of Acts’ intolerance is simply to replace one scheme of life with another (tolerance, remember, always gets its meaning from the larger schemes in which it occurs). What then is the justification for this intoleranc... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [The Book of Acts] [theology]
Condemnation comes from the enemy, is all about guilt, and asks the question, What good are you? or, How could you? The end goal of condemnation is to draw you away from God. Conviction comes from the Holy Spirit, is all about redemption, and simply asks ... [Books] [gospel] [What's your secret?]
[D]iscipleship forms an alternative way of life to the quest for power and position, the domination and defeat of others, that characterizes “normal” human life, particularly existence in imperial mode.— The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of... [Books] [gospel] [Michael Gorman] [theology]
What a peculiar and confused theology buzzes in and out of the heads of people today when God has been reduced to a good-sized man! We become offensively personal and intimate in our dealings with God; we joke about Him and call Him our business partner, ... [Books] [theology] [tozer]
Then I called for a fast there at the Ahava River so that we might submit before our God and ask of him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our possessions. I had been ashamed to ask the king for a group of soldiers and cavalry to help us ... [faith] [Idle Musings] [scripture]

February 20, 8AM

The ancient Near Easterners also assumed that once an angered deity departed, he or she would do so using a flurry of curses. Since this is a typical reaction among outraged human beings, there is no reason to believe that the deities behaved any differen... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [theology] [theosis]


Those who want to speak of polytheisms must at least acknowledge that whatever it would mean to speak of polytheisms, it would not mean that they could—together or individually—incorporate a metanarrative that would mean their extinction. In this sens... [Books] [Idle Musings] [The Book of Acts] [theology]
Confessing our secrets to God takes the sin and shame out of our hands. We are not capable of getting rid of our own messes— that process belongs to the Lord.—What’s Your Secret? page 32 <idle musing>Amen! As much as we'd like to think tha... [Books] [Idle Musings] [What's your secret?]
Cross-shaped discipleship has a Christological, counterintuitive, and countercultural character that is marked especially by hospitality and service to those without status, which implies a decisive predisposition toward the weak rather than toward the po... [Books] [gospel] [Michael Gorman] [theology] [theosis]
[W]e have overlooked one little thing. Along with man’s strange and wonderful ability to take the forces of nature and combine them to make modern toys to make life easier, we have been led to believe that along with our progress in scientific subjects ... [Books] [theology] [tozer]

February 19, 8AM

In general, the ancient Near Easterners believed that deities withdrew because they were angry. The cause of this divine ire could be due to a wide variety of human offenses: sin, insult, error, crime, curse, and so on. Although intentionality is occasion... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!]


Yet we would misread the nature of the Christian mission according to Acts were we to think only of the individual “heroes” of the story as the icons who best figure forth the missional identity of the church (e.g., Peter, Stephen, and Paul). Though A... [Books] [church] [The Book of Acts]
A secret in its simplest form is merely information. However, it is keeping this information hidden that gives control to the enemy. The enemy of our souls uses secrets to destroy us from the inside out. Secrets of any kind can lead to the physical, emoti... [Books] [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [theology] [What's your secret?]
Children in antiquity had little status and significance, especially outside the Jewish world. although Jews valued children as real human beings who should be cared for, in Greco-Roman culture and law children were not persons but possessions, without le... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Michael Gorman] [theology]
People are perfectly willing to go along with God as long as God will be good and conform to their pattern.—A.W. Tozer, Voice of a Prophet, page 144 [Books] [theology] [tozer]

February 18, 9AM

In other words, the net result of choosing a participle over a finite verb is to have the main verbal action of the clause receive primary attention. Had two finite verbs been used, attention would have been equally split between the two. In this case, ju... [Books] [grammar] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics] [Runge]


When the deities depart, bad things happen. Every ancient Near Easterner knew this regardless of the time period or culture. An Old Assyrian Lamaštu text from Kaneš (ca. 1920–1840) describes why the demoness is able to target someone: 18a-na be-el la2... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings] [theology]
The system of control employed by the imperial government was in its general lines the same as that invented by the republic—to maintain the ascendency of the wealthier classes. As before, the constitutions of the cities were so arranged as to give the ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [The Book of Acts]
We're starting to excerpt from a "new" book today—What’s Your Secret? I hope your enjoy it. We may think that we are keeping a secret, but the truth is that the secret is actually keeping us. What we thought we controlled, slowly and subtly grows.... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [theology]
The task of a witness is to speak courageously in word and deed, testifying to the truth of God and prophesying against all falsehood that distorts and parodies divine truth. Witnesses offer testimony to the vision of God given them in the hope that other... [Books] [Michael Gorman] [theology]
The bush was just a scrub thorn bush, and I imagine there were millions of them there. Maybe there were hundreds of thousands of them scattered over the broad face of the wilderness, and they did not amount to anything. The flame, however, transfigured th... [Books] [theology] [tozer]

February 17, 10PM

The participle is used much more widely and diversely in Greek than in English. It is the workhorse of the Greek verbal system, with participles being used for more actions than would be acceptable in English. This mismatch in usage has significantly impa... [Books] [grammar] [Greek] [Runge]


Mytho-poetics is what those who think they can think, think those whom they think cannot think, do in place of thought.—JoAnn Scurlock in Creation and Chaos, page 265, n 50 [Books] [Just for Fun]


[Here is] a helpful analogy between linguists and medical doctors. The human body is a very complex system. Each part can affect the others in various ways, and a single symptom (e.g. a fever) can have several different underlying causes. Similarly, the g... [Books] [grammar] [Idle Musings]


Curses cause disease. An Akkadian incantation against sorcery makes the following observation: u2-ša-aṣ-bit-an-ni GIG-su lim-nu ša2 ṣi-bit ma-mit ‘She (the kaššaptu) has imposed on me her evil disease caused by the attack of a curse’. Other te... [ANE History] [Books] [Cursed Are You!]
If the concept of “sin” means an awareness that there are dire problems in the world that need addressing, or that human beings are complex entities with competing and frequently injurious desires, then—other than a few naves—it would probably be ... [Books] [The Book of Acts] [theology]
At the same time, it is imperative that we be clear that participation in Christ (or in his death) is not a vague, purely “spiritual” term. New covenantal, participatory love for God and neighbor manifests itself in concrete practices, some of which w... [Books] [gospel] [Michael Gorman] [theosis]
To respond to the Sermon is not to respond to an ethical vision. To respond is to respond to Jesus. The proper response is to declare who he is by the way we live.— Sermon on the Mount, page 277 <idle musing>That's the final excerpt from the b... [Books] [gospel] [sermon on the mount] [theology]


Some people think holiness is something you get and that you take out with you and carefully guard it lest you lose it. Holiness is nothing else than the holy God dwelling in a human being’s heart. The heart will be holy because God is there, and God is... [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [theology] [tozer]

February 16, 8PM

The curses that we have in Hebrew from ancient Palestine do not attest to the complex genre of curses that we find in many civilizations. There is no practice such as the Greek and Roman defixio or binding curse, with its attendant manipulation of materia... [Books] [Hebrew] [Idle Musings] [theology]


Wow! The Internet is great, isn't it? You can see all the cat videos you want or waste your time on Facebook. Or, you can view some of the greatest manuscripts in the world. In fact, the Vatican just put one of the most important ones for the New Testamen... [Greek] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun] [LXX] [Textual Criticism]
All curses seek one goal: death. Even though the realization of this goal can be articulated in a wide variety of ways, the harm in a curse generally operates within a range of increasing effects. Thus, the scope of the injury can move seamlessly from a s... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!]
It is worth noting that Luke himself does not employ κὐριος [lord] for any pagan divinity.—World Upside Down, page 237 n. 69 [Books] [The Book of Acts] [theology]
This transformation takes place, not by imitation, but by indwelling, being “in him.” for Paul this indwelling is not a one-way relationship but mutual: we in Christ, Christ in us; we in the Spirit, the Spirit in us (see, e.g., Rom 8:1–17). The new-... [Books] [gospel] [Michael Gorman] [theosis]
The fundamental aim of the Sermon is to present Jesus and his kingdom vision for his kingdom people, and the only acceptable response to this Sermon is to embrace him, to accept the challenge; that means to do what he says.— Sermon on the Mount, pag... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [sermon on the mount]
The Bible was never given to be an end in itself. The Bible was given to be a path leading us to God; and when the Bible has led us to God, and we have experienced God in the crisis of encounter, the Bible has done its work. It is not enough that you shou... [Books] [Idle Musings] [scripture] [tozer]

February 14, 12 PM

Since the notion of a point seems to preclude internal complexity, a more helpful metaphor would perhaps be to say that the perfective reduces a situation to a blob, rater than to a point: a blob is a three-dimensional object, and can therefore have inter... [Books] [grammar] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun]


We've reached our predicted high for the day... I just looked again, and we're on the way down... [Just for Fun]
Although Adam is culpable for eating the fruit of the tree, Yahweh does not curse him directly. Yahweh curses rather the soil with an unconditional malediction and simultaneously links the harm to Adam: 'Cursed is the earth because of you’. Basically, A... [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings] [theology]
Thus the truth claim about Jesus’s Lordship does not lead in Acts to a narrative blueprint for the need to coerce others for their own good but to a form of mission that rejects violence as a way to ground peaceful community and instead witnesses to the... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [pacifism] [The Book of Acts] [theology]
Notice carefully what Paul actually says here: not “so that we might know about the righteousness of God.” not “so that we might believe in the righteousness of God.” not “so that we might proclaim the righteousness of God.” not even “so tha... [gospel]
Far too many think because they have “prayed to receive Christ,” they are safe and secure. I don’t want to dispute the all-sufficiency of Christ or the importance of faith and God’s grace, but far too many today are trusting in a onetime decision ... [Books] [cheap grace] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [sermon on the mount] [theology] [theosis]
Modern medicine and technology can help make people live longer but cannot make them live happier. Regardless of all the advancements in our society, the world is pretty much a lonely crowd. It is not the presence of others that cures loneliness; it is th... [theology] [tozer]

February 12, 10AM

The ketiv and the qere are “equal” insofar as 19:7c is incomprehensible by either variant.—HBCE Proverbs, page 272 <idle musing>I laughed out loud when I read this...OK, after so many hours of proofing a text, anything can be funny... : )&... [HBCE] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun]


Most imprecations focus on the “how” of the injury rather than its final goal, which is generally presumed. This is the core of its power. Death inevitably comes to all things. But it is how this final aim is achieved outside of life’s natural cours... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!]
Plainly said, all political thinking is inescapably theological. Our theological judgments may of course be hidden by a limited range of vocabulary that attempts to eliminate explicit theological terms from “pure” political discourse….”politics”... [Books] [The Book of Acts] [theology]
Paul assumes the inseparability of orthodoxy and orthopraxy, and he assumes the inseparability of the vertical and the horizontal in the atonement. some may be tempted to say, “Paul is talking about ethics, not atonement.” Therein lies the kind of pro... [Atonement] [Books] [ethics] [Michael Gorman] [theology]
Jesus here isn’t calling someone merely to a better moral life. Rather, his own presence looms in the entire Sermon as the one through whom God speaks, through whom God redeems, and through whom God reigns.— Sermon on the Mount, page 263 [Books] [gospel] [sermon on the mount] [theology]


We are a tricky crowd, and if we can find anything human to lean on, we will lean on it. If we can find anybody to help us short of God, we will hunt everywhere else, and God is usually the last one asked. page 115 <idle musing>When I read this I th... [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology] [tozer]

February 11, 8AM

As noted in ch. 3, the judgment of the governing deities looms large in the successful fulfillment of a curse. Certainly, the supernatural realm must weigh in first and determine the validity of the request before any curse can be executed. There is no ne... [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings] [theology]


Tolerance and diversity, that is, can never of themselves produce tolerance and diversity or work as centrally organizing conceptions or principles precisely because they cannot of their own conceptual resources answer the questions, what will we not tole... [Books] [The Book of Acts] [theology]
Disciples benefit from the servant-Jesus’ death as cleansing from sin and imitate it as loving care for others. Both Jesus and John see these two aspects of his death as inherently inseparable. The gift is also demand. There is no cleansing without disc... [Books] [gospel] [Michael Gorman] [theology] [theosis]
So the gate is not just a mild association with Jesus or some kind of general affiliation, but a radical commitment to Jesus as the one who is King and Lord who shapes all of life for us.— Sermon on the Mount, page 261 [Books] [gospel] [sermon on the mount]
I firmly believe that if you are where you are now because of your ingenuity and maneuvering, you are probably not where God wants you to be. The call of God is a divine moment that is impossible to replicate.—A.W. Tozer, Voice of a Prophet, page ... [Books] [theology] [tozer]

February 10, 10AM

It is one of the peculiarities of biblical text criticism that we will emend the ancient level of the text while holding the medieval level sacrosanct.—HBCE Proverbs, page 21 <idle musing>I dunno; it struck me as funny...</idle musing> [Books] [HBCE] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun] [Textual Criticism]


I received the final proofs last night for HBCE Proverbs! I have 4 days to turn them around and get them back... That means it should be published in the next month or so. [HBCE]
Although the number of the first two verb forms are somewhat lost behind the dab (ṣabātu) and us2 (redû) logograms, it is clear that the noun māmūt is singular. She is the active agent. She seizes and pursues. In the next line however one verb is... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [grammar] [Idle Musings] [theology]
In practice—and in principle—ancient polytheism cannot be read as religiously systemic tolerance; to do so is to engage in political fantasy.—World Upside Down, page 165 <idle musing>He isn't afraid to step on toes, is he? But he's correct... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings] [The Book of Acts] [theology]


The forgiveness of sins is certainly important; it is an integral sign of the new exodus and new covenant. But forgiveness is only part of the larger purpose of God in the Messiah’s suffering and death; the larger purpose is to create a new people who w... [Books] [church] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [Michael Gorman]
Jesus himself was law observant, but what distinguished his praxis was that he did so through the law of double love. To do the Torah through love is to do all the Torah says and more.— Sermon on the Mount, page 249 <idle musing>I like that. T... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [sermon on the mount] [theology]
God takes that which is nothing and makes it something. People who always know where they are going are not following the Lord, because He cannot be predicted quite so perfectly as that.—A.W. Tozer, Voice of a Prophet, page 106 [Books] [gospel] [tozer]

February 9, 10AM

The call to cruciform discipleship is, in fact, a call to covenant faithfulness, a summons to embody, simultaneously, the two tables of the Law. we see this clearly in the story of the encounter of Jesus with the man who wanted to know what he had to do t... [Books] [gospel] [Michael Gorman] [theology]


The polytheistic world of Mesopotamia and Anatolia put its inhabitants at a great disadvantage when it came to managing curses. With so many deities to prevail on, any means of circumventing and/or undoing a malediction would have been arduous. With this ... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings] [theology]
Despite common interpretive tendencies in contemporary American Christianity, salvation is not, according to Acts, oriented solely toward the internal aspects of the human being (soul, heart, etc.). Against all spiritualizing tendencies, Luke narrates the... [Books] [gospel] [The Book of Acts] [theology]


I am convinced that many of us, while we affirm that God is good and that God listens, do not act as if God cares and listens. In other words, we wouldn’t be caught dead not affirming God’s care for our every moment, but we act as if God is up there n... [Books] [Idle Musings] [sermon on the mount] [theology]
I never could figure out why ministers feel they have to pat and paw over everybody to get them in, why they have to dilute and edit and modify and amend and trim down the gospel. It does not work this way. A trimmed-down, diluted, edited religion is not ... [church] [gospel] [theology] [tozer]

February 6, 9AM

I'm in the process of reading How Words Mean right now. I must admit that it is a tough go. I thought maybe it was because I wasn't overly familiar with Cognitive Linguistics. But, just in case, I decided to check out what others were saying... Although t... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Linguistics]


To become more Christlike will be simultaneously to become more Godlike and more human. The new covenant will therefore mean a new humanity and a new creation; the image of God will be restored, not just in individuals, but in a people.— The Death o... [Books] [gospel] [Michael Gorman] [theosis]
The freedom to utter maledictions was open to all human beings. Ordinary people could curse, people such as Jotham, Job, and Enkidu. And certainly it was not a liberty restricted to ritual specialists such as Baalam or the cultic priesthood. But the effic... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings] [theology]
Where the narrative of Acts clearly rejects any hint of the notion that Jesus is a rival for Caesar’s throne—that he competes with the emperor for the title κύριος πἀντων [Lord of all]—it does so on the basis of a more startling claim: ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [The Book of Acts] [theology]
“But, for most of us, the problem is not that we are too eager to ask for the wrong things. The problem is that we are not eager enough to ask for the right things.”—N.T. Wright as quoted in Sermon on the Mount, page 242 <idle musing>Mayb... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Prayer] [sermon on the mount] [theology]
I never could figure out why ministers feel they have to pat and paw over everybody to get them in, why they have to dilute and edit and modify and amend and trim down the gospel. It does not work this way. A trimmed-down, diluted, edited religion is not ... [cheap grace] [church] [tozer]
Ooohhh!!! I want! Forestalling Doom "Apotropaic Intercession" in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East Alter Orient und Altes Testament - AOAT 417by Marian W. Broida Ugarit-Verlag, 2014 xx + 282 pp., English Cloth ISBN: 9783868351101 Your Price: $114... [ANE religion] [Books] [Idle Musings]

February 5, 9AM

The doctrine of prevenient grace assumes the universal dimension of Christ's enlightening, enabling work. The work extends to "whosoever" would believe, rather than being limited to a chosen few, as a particular predestination interpretation of these pass... [Books] [theology]
The phrase “new covenant” only appears in the Old Testament in Jer 31:31. This is clearly a classic case of the importance of weighing items rather than counting them when it comes to determining significance.— The Death of the Messiah and the B... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Michael Gorman]
He [Balaam in Num 22:38] cannot and does not make any declaration based on his own authority. He can only speak God’s word. This provides the clearest evidence that Balaam’s activities, as well as any other cursing specialist’s, were dependent and l... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [scripture]
By contrast, according to Acts, sacrificing to the gods, soothsaying, magic, and so forth, do not “make sense” for the early Christians. The reason is not hard to find: the wider predicament in which these practices made sense has disappeared. Thus th... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [The Book of Acts] [theology]


Anxiety is a barometer of one’s God: those with anxiety about “life” worship Mammon, while those without anxiety worship the providing God.— Sermon on the Mount, page 217 <idle musing>Ouch! Indeed true, though, which is why scripture rep... [Books] [gospel] [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [sermon on the mount] [theology]
In looking at all these prophets, especially Elijah, we can see that they were notoriously hard to live with. Here was a man who let his faith in God cost him something. He did not go to church once a week and give an occasional donation. His was a deep a... [Books] [Holiness] [tozer]
OK, here we go again. We've got Ben-Hadad coming back to battle the next year with a stronger army—fewer kings and more soldiers. Too many managers in the old one, I guess : ) Anyway, we've got this tiny little Israelite army surrounded by the Arame... [ANE History] [ANE religion] [Idle Musings] [scripture]

February 4, 10PM

I've been reading through Samuel–Kings lately. I love that section of the Old Testament; when I was a kid, I used to sit in church on Sunday mornings and read through it in my trusty RSV. But, as I was reading the other day, this struck me as strange. I... [ANE religion] [Idle Musings] [scripture]


LCCM Theory [Lexical Concepts, Cognitive Models] advances the potentially controversial claim that words do not in fact have meaning. Meaning is held to be a function of an utterance, rather than a given mental representation associated with a word, or ot... [Books] [grammar]


In the new-covenant model I am proposing, the purpose (and actual effect) of Jesus’ death is all of the above and more, but that effect is best expressed, not in the rather narrow terms of the traditional models, but in more comprehensive and integrativ... [Books] [Michael Gorman] [theology] [theosis]
OK, I've spread this stuff out over too many posts for it be be easy to follow, so here's a table of contents. Read it in the order that they appear if you want to follow the flow of thought. And make sure to read the comments, too. They are good. How eff... [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings] [theology]


Eventually, one learns that Šimei’s curse fell utterly flat and that he was never acting under Yahweh’s directive as David had feared. This the Israelites would know because David never did lose his throne to Absalom, and he was able eventually to r... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings] [theology]


In Lystra and Philippi no less than in Athens and Ephesus, both the critiques and the reactions they evoke arise out of the identity of the God of Israel as on who is fundamentally distinct from the cosmos, or in more directly Jewish terms, who is the Cre... [Books] [The Book of Acts] [theology]
Too often we believe like theists (a personal God) and act like deists (a distant, impersonal, noninteractive, uninvolved god). We say we believe in God, trust in God, and are sustained by God; but in our actions we do everything for ourselves, trusting i... [Books] [sermon on the mount] [theology] [theosis]
What is desperately needed in the church today are men and women who are so obsessed with God that only God matters. I am tired of the toys and jingle-bell-boys and all of the entertainment from the world being siphoned into the church to try to entertain... [Books] [church] [theology] [tozer]

February 3, 2PM

Word meanings cannot be pinned dow, as if they were dead insects. Instead, they flutter around elusively like live butterflies.—Jean Aitchison as cited in How Words Mean, page 65 [Just for Fun]


In a comment the other day, David pointed out that there is a qere/ketiv in Prov 26:2. For those of you who don't what that means, it means that the Hebrew text has the consonants of one word but a "footnote" that says it really should be a different word... [grammar] [Greek] [Hebrew] [Idle Musings] [Textual Criticism]
‘Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, an undeserved curse goes nowhere’. The ‘curse’, ‏קִלְלַת, described here is the curse of a mortal because it’s ineffectiveness contrasts sharply with the timely efficaciousn... [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings] [theology]
As difficult as it may appear to the modern mind, we must look to the resurrection of Jesus to understand the Christian mission in Acts. That is the “place” from which Christian mission begins.—World Upside Down, page 122 [Books] [The Book of Acts] [theology]


But what surprises us here is that the words used for “healthy” (haplous) and “unhealthy” (ponēros) are words often used for “generous” and “stingy.” Words that appear to be rather innocent take on a more pointed economic flavor. The econ... [Books] [Greek] [Holiness] [sermon on the mount] [theology]
God conquers our foes by conquering us. This is the hardest preparation for us to take. But remember that God always conquers your enemy by conquering you. God never fights on the side of the man who holds his fist clenched, If you are going out there to ... [Books] [Holiness] [tozer]
Just saw this posted over at Jesus Creed, and excerpt from From Here to Maturity. Unfortunately, in my somewhat limited experience, I find it to be spot on: They value a “relationship with God” above all and like the idea of “falling in love with Je... [Books] [church] [Idle Musings] [theology]

February 2, 10AM

Over the weekend, I was talking to someone who was enamored with a particular pastor. The Holy Spirit set off alarm bells in my head, so I did a quick Google search. But the particular person in question isn't the point of this post. The criteria used to ... [Idle Musings] [theology]


What's not to like about these? And, who's old enough to remember them? : ) [Books] [Just for Fun]
[T]he ultimate purpose of Jesus’ death was to create a transformed people, a (new) people living out a (new) covenant relationship with God together. Moreover, this people will not simply believe in the atonement and the one who died, they will eat and ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Michael Gorman] [theology] [theosis]


Šamaš’s refusal to support Enkidu’s solicitation against Šamhat seems to have placed Enkidu in a dangerous position. An unsupported, free-floating curse could wreak havoc in other ways. Therefore, Enkidu must correct, or better yet, counterbalance ... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings]
For Luke as for Rome, to be the Lord of all is to be the “peacemaker.” But the respective ways in which they construe this role could hardly be more different. For Luke and not for Rome, the paxof the dominus mundi [lord of the world] is the kind of h... [Books] [The Book of Acts] [theology]
Like the ancient prophets, Jesus’ teaching in our passages isn’t simply about the ideal society, and neither is it an economic theory; this is about worship and idolatry. What Jesus had to say to his followers who were seeking to embody the kingdom vi... [Books] [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [sermon on the mount]
The devil can only get in you if he has something in there that belongs to him. If he does not have anything in there that belongs to him, he can only go around the outside and growl. He cannot get in. All problems have their spiritual solution. As we bec... [Books] [Holiness] [tozer]

February 1, 10AM

The decision not to base the analysis of tense on discourse function does not, however, mean that the study of tenses is discourse is not a relevant study, indeed it is often the case that the investigation of the meaning of tense (or of some other gramma... [Books] [grammar] [Greek] [Idle Musings]
Grammars of many languages claim that the language in question has a special form for indicating situations that occur in sequence, or for distinguishing sequences of situations from simultaneously occurring in situations. However, in nearly every case, i... [Books] [grammar] [Idle Musings]

January 30, 8AM

Love this line: I’ve never heard a Christmas carol that came from The Iliad. Isaiah is where Handel found the inspiration for his timeless Messiah. <idle musing>Isn't that great?! It sums up the polar opposites so succinctly—Achilles = death... [gospel] [Idle Musings] [pacifism]


Ps 118:25 provides us with a clear example of the author’s ultimate respect, politeness, and gratitude toward God, with its use of two נָא particles, two ָאנָּא particles, and two long imperatives. This verse appears as the climax of a very emo... [Books] [grammar] [Hebrew] [theology]
Although mortals can and clearly do curse, their maledictions do not have much effect unless the divine world gives its consent and allows the curses to have impact. This hinges on the assumption that a curse cannot be fully efficacious (that is, become e... [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings] [theology]
In Luke’s vision, the practical corollary of the primacy of God in Jesus Christ is, to employ contemporary language, the primacy of peace and service. Where the lordship of the Roman emperor entailed a pax predicated upon pacifying strength and terror, ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [pacifism] [The Book of Acts] [theology]
The irony of wealthy follower of Jesus cannot be ignored.— Sermon on the Mount, page 204 [Books] [Holiness] [sermon on the mount] [theology]
Jacob was to learn that the way God conquers our enemies is to conquer us. It doesn’t make sense from the human standpoint.—A.W. Tozer, Voice of a Prophet, page 58 [Books] [theology] [tozer]

January 29, 8AM

Cuneiform and Hebrew texts demonstrate that curses by the deities have four principle characteristics. First, solicitation is not a feature of divine maledictions. They function as mandates. This would explain Ḫammurabi’s description of Enlil’s curs... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings] [theology]
Jesus does not challenge Caesar’s status as Lord, as if Jesus were somehow originally subordinate to Caesar in the order of being. The thought—at least in its Lukan form—is rather much more radical and striking: because of the nature of his ... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [The Book of Acts] [theology]
As a pastor it’s pretty common for me to talk to someone who has come to me to confess a sin or some kind of ongoing struggle. There are often tears as he or she admits the truth. I know it’s a difficult and humbling thing to do, because I’ve been t... [AHA] [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [theology]


We are body, soul, and spirit and not bodies with a spirit or soul dwelling in us. The former sees us as an organic unity, while the latter sees us as having an inferior part (body) and a superior part (soul, spirit). Fasting in the Bible is the organic, ... [fasting] [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [sermon on the mount]
We have tried to make God in our image, and because we have made Him in our image, we think we can explain everything He is supposed to do. If you can explain everything about God, it really isn’t God.—A.W. Tozer, Voice of a Prophet, pages 51–5... [theology] [tozer]

January 28, 9PM

There's been a good bit of stir of late about a supposed papyrus fragment containing the Gospel of Mark. It actually is an old story from 2012 that got resurrected of late. I'm skeptical—I always am when it comes to sensational finds...but in this c... [Idle Musings] [Textual Criticism]


This perceived incongruity must be tempered by the realization that curses and blessings can be reciprocal. This means that when a person utters a curse against another, he or she simultaneously seeks an implied blessing for himself or herself at someone ... [Books] [Cursed Are You!]
In contrast to the emperor, the ultimate Lordship of Jesus Christ in Acts just is the Lordship of God. Indeed, the God of Israel and Jesus Christ do not stand in competition for the designation κύριος [Lord] but rather share this identity. In case t... [Books] [The Book of Acts] [theology]
There’s a big difference between regret and repentance—the actual turning away from our wrongs. Too often we have an awakening and regret the way things have turned out—but we won’t turn away from our part in it. We hate that someone found out. We... [AHA] [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [theology]
[T]he lack of emphasis on the promises that come to the one fasting—Jesus only promises “reward”—means we need to avoid motivating people to fast by what they might gain. The obsession some have with marketing fasting because of its many b... [Books] [fasting] [Idle Musings] [sermon on the mount] [theology]
I have discovered that God specializes in hopeless cases. If it were up to me, I never would have chosen Jacob. My choice would have been Esau. I find him to be a much better person than Jacob ever was. There was not really that much bad about Esau; it wa... [Books] [theology] [tozer]


Bobby from Hendrickson Publishers just sent me a link to a marvelous poem about snow by Emerson: Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,Seems nowhere to alight: the whited airHides hills and woods, the ri... [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun] [Snow]

January 27, 9PM

Just found out about this at the Coop today. Grand Marais could be the "coolest small town." Want to know more? Check it out here and vote. One vote per day, so vote often : ) [Just for Fun]


Jephthah, much like Saul, can display all the signs of success, but because he could not rise above the scars of rejection, he will remain a troubled personality throughout. Opportunistic, he can grasp power although it is not his to have—but truth to t... [Books] [theology]


When setting off to war, beyond organizing a large and disciplined army and investing in decent spies, good generals consult the gods, sacrifice to them, and bring them along as talismans out to battle. More economical, however, is to petition a god with ... [ANE religion] [Books]


Although most languages have an identifiable linguistic structure designed to express modality, the elements in the system may have more than one function; they may extend their meanings to more than one semantic domain. Through her study of modal auxilia... [Books] [grammar]


Buying seeds for your garden? There's a list of trustworthy companies at Council for Responsible GeneticsPersonally, I buy primarily from Fedco Seeds (which is a cooperative, but you don't need to belong to buy) and Johnny's. But I also buy from Seed Sa... [Garden] [GMO foods] [Idle Musings]
In the human realm, the curse operated differently. As those who enjoyed the final word, the deities, particularly the principal gods and goddesses, were seen as judges who reviewed and supervised the solicitation behind every mortal malediction. Thus, a ... [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings] [theology]


In short, the κύριος πάντων [lord of all] must be divine (or at the very least uniquely connected to the divine). Social contract advocates since Rousseau have naturally tried to dispense with this necessity—as has the modern world in ge... [Books] [The Book of Acts]
But if we try to get away from honesty, we will short-circuit any real change that AHA may bring. When there’s recognition but no repentance, AHA doesn’t happen. The awakening must lead to honesty.—AHA Student Edition electronic edition <idle... [AHA] [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings]
Jesus may well be turning the act of fasting inside out in a comic act of exaggeration: the quintessential act of grief in the Jewish world (fasting) becomes an act of celebration. How so? He tells them to “put oil on your head and wash your face (6:17)... [Books] [fasting] [sermon on the mount]
When it comes to truth, it must be regarded as not only the will of God but also the heart of God. God is not laying upon us strict disciplines to delight in our suffering. Sometimes we get this idea from people who, for some reason, glorify suffering. I ... [Books] [theology] [tozer]

January 26, 8AM

I don't understand it. Well, that's not quite true; I do understand it, but don't get it. Maybe that's not quite right either. I understand it, I get it, but I don't like it. I have posted over 3800 times in the last 9 1/2 years. My most popular posts hav... [Idle Musings]
They do not dread Saul or even Yahweh, whom we would expect to be the greatest object of concern because the deity would be the activating force behind the harm in the malediction should it be breached. There is a definite sense that the troops are treati... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings] [theology]
To belabor a point now well recognized in the study of ancient Rome: the pax of the pax Romana was at the very least more complex than the panegyrical remarks of Virgil, Velleius, and others would suggest. Indeed, seen from the perspective of the dominate... [Books] [Idle Musings] [The Book of Acts]
Have you had some moments like this with the truth? You realize something you have never realized before, and it wakes you up.You realize you’ve been trying to live a Christian life through your own power and strength rather than through the power of th... [AHA] [Books] [gospel]
At the heart of the Sermon is a section on spiritual disciplines because Jesus expects his disciples to practice charity, praying, and fasting. Jesus, however, doesn’t command almsgiving, prayer, or fasting but assumes them. The central issue that provo... [Books] [sermon on the mount]


The false prophet would tell you that if you are a Christian you should not experience any bad times. Everything should go wonderfully for you. You should prosper and be successful in everything you touch your hand to. That sounds fine, but it has no root... [tozer]

January 25, 10AM

I'm sure I will catch all kinds of flack for this one...but it needs to be said. What do the children of same-sex marriages say? It appears that a few of them have filed court briefings... "While I do not believe all gays would be de facto bad parents, I ... [church] [gospel] [Holiness] [Idle Musings]
From Paul’s perspective, however, if peace and justice come through violence and war (whether then or now), then Rome was right and Christ died in vain.— The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of the New Covenant, page 192 (emphasis original) [Books] [Michael Gorman] [pacifism] [theology]

January 24, 10AM

Three elements are present here: sensationalism, emotionalism and entertainment. I must point out that all these are contrary to wholesome spiritual development.Make it SensationalSensationalism can capture the headlines, so to speak. That is just a temp... [Books] [church] [theology] [tozer]

January 23, 9AM

1 Sam 11:6–7 [Saul sending pieces of an ox to the 12 tribes, demanding they assemble for war] establishes several important points about the way a conditional imprecation could be imposed. First, those who are conditionally cursed do not have to be pres... [Books] [Cursed Are You!]
Yet, as any number of contemporary examples might remind us—Martin Luther King Jr., to take only the most obvious—the rejection of insurrection does not simultaneously entail an endorsement of the present world order, as if the fact that Jesus... [Books] [The Book of Acts] [theology]
I am pleading with you to come to your senses. There’s a storm brewing, and there is no time to waste. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that those closest to you will be able to escape the devastation of your storm. Your journey to the Distant Countr... [AHA] [Books] [theology]
The most influential understanding of fasting today is the instrumental theory. In the simplest of terms, this theory teaches that we fast in order to gain some benefit. … But instrumental fasting is all but impossible to find in the pages of the Bible ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [sermon on the mount] [theology]
In some places, the church is being marketed as though it were a business. Christianity is not a commercial commodity or product. I do not see that in the New Testament. What bothers me is the fact that the message gives way and takes second place to the ... [church] [tozer]

January 22, 9AM

Further, Neh 5:13 also illustrates the custom of pronouncing a curse twice. The first articulation is expressed with an active verb that is clearly informed by and coordinated with Nehemiah’s performance of shaking out his cloak. After the predictive ac... [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [grammar] [Hebrew]
Because “religion” in antiquity was not a category separable from the rest of life—as modern usage generally implies—this difference in the perception of divine identity amounts to vastly more than a mere difference in a discrete sphere of... [Books] [The Book of Acts] [theology]


Both sons were in the wrong, and it was really their responsibility to seek out the father. The younger son did, and the father was waiting. As soon as he could see his son on the horizon, he ran to him. He didn’t sit back and wait. He didn’t make his... [AHA] [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [theology]
I affirm what Tiessen calls the redemptive intervention model [of prayer], in which God’s overall plan is established and known to God while granting freedom within that plan. In this model, prayer changes things, and I believe the biblical models of pr... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Prayer] [sermon on the mount] [theology]
Have we come to a stage in this generation that the so-called church is promoting everything and anything that will add to its number? The bottom line, as they say, is success; and success has everything to do with numbers. Whatever brings the numbers in ... [Books] [church] [Idle Musings] [theology] [tozer]

January 21, 8AM

There is a fundamental distinction between a vow and an oath. A vow is a conditional promise that seeks to bargain with a deity to support a desired outcome. Most notable vows articulate the arrangement in positive terms; expressing how each party will mu... [Books] [Cursed Are You!]
This collision, however, is not due to the missionaries’ lack of tact (though they were doubtless bold) or to a pagan propensity for rash violence (though there was doubtless bloodlust); rather, its deeper basis rests ultimately in the theological affir... [Books] [The Book of Acts] [theology]
Jesus knows that most people base what they think about God on His representatives. In that day, people viewed God based on how the Pharisees and teachers lived and behaved. Think about it: Our interactions with employees shape our view of a company. I me... [AHA] [Books] [gospel] [Holiness] [theology]
Those who genuinely love others forgive. Those who don’t are not kingdom people.— Sermon on the Mount, page 183 <idle musing>You couldn't put it much simpler than that, could you. Or truer.</idle musing> [Holiness] [Idle Musings] [sermon on the mount] [theology]


My child, stand firm and trust in Me. For what are words but words? They fly through the air but hurt not a stone. If you are guilty, consider how you would gladly amend. If you are not conscious of any fault, think that you wish to bear this for the sake... [Thomas à Kempis]

January 20, 8AM

Although a deity, insulted by the offense of vow neglect, could indeed castigate the offender with a variety of misfortunes, the punishment is never seen to derive from a prearranged, conditional malediction. This illustrates a fundamental distinction bet... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings]
The burning of magical books and the uproar caused by Demetrius and the craftsmen are not two unconnected or random events but rather two different responses to the life of transformation proclaimed by Paul and the early Christians. Acts 19:18-20 and 19:2... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [The Book of Acts] [theology]


The Pharisees listening to Jesus were about to learn what they had forgotten—and what we often forget: the followers of Jesus aren’t on earth to assign blame; we’re here to free the trapped, bandage the wounded, help the hurting, and celebrate homec... [AHA] [Books] [gospel] [theology]
Verse 12 is a prayer request: forgive us our sins as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. In other words, the appeal to God for forgiveness is rooted in our forgiving others. For most of us this seems backward because it seems to make God’... [Books] [Idle Musings] [sermon on the mount] [theology]
Oh, how good and how peaceful it is to be silent about others, not to believe without discrimination all that is said, not easily to report it further, to reveal oneself to few, always to seek You as the discerner of hearts, and not to be blown away by ev... [Thomas à Kempis]

January 16, 8AM

In its most fundamental sense, a vow is a conditional promise. In the ancient Near East, vows were most frequently used as a means of bargaining with the divine. While one could loosely identify the expression of vows as “prayers,” they were, neverthe... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings]
To agree with the logic of the Areopagus speech in the end, therefore, is not to see the truth of the gospel in pagan philosophical terms (translation) but to abandon the old interpretive framework for the new. It is, plainly said, to become a Christian.&... [Books] [gospel] [The Book of Acts]
We think, It’s too late now. I don’t have time to get cleaned up. I don’t have time to get my life together. But it’s not too late—the Father wants you just the way you are. When you finally act, your heavenly Father comes running with arms wide... [AHA] [Books] [gospel]
The sweep of the Gospels, not to mention [Matt] 6:25–34, where Jesus points a long finger at consumerism and preoccupation with money and possessions, suggest that when Jesus says, “Give us today our daily bread,” the word today suggests we are not ... [Books] [sermon on the mount] [theology]


Grant me help in my needs, O Lord, for the aid of man is useless. How often have I failed to find faithfulness in places where I thought I possessed it! And how many times I have found it where I least expected it! Vain, therefore, is hope in men, but the... [Thomas à Kempis]

January 15, 9AM

The fundamental difference between an oath and a vow is the curse. An oath has a curse; a vow does not. An oath automatically solicits the divine world. A vow, on the other hand, involves the deities but the principle on which the solicitation is based re... [ANE religion] [Books] [Cursed Are You!]
It is particularly noteworthy, therefore, that the magicians did not give or throw their books away, or, for that matter, sell them for money to help widows and orphans (an obvious Lukan concern; see, e.g., Acts 6:1-2). The mere existence of magic, implie... [Books] [gospel] [The Book of Acts] [theology]


A spirit of defeatism can be expected if everything depends on us. If it’s up to our actions to save ourselves, then, yeah, it’s too late—way too late. A spirit of defeatism comes because we don’t accurately take into account how the Father will r... [AHA] [Books] [gospel] [Holy Spirit] [Idle Musings] [theology] [theosis]
It can be put baldly: we do not know exactly what “daily bread” means. For some this wrecks what we have always known to be true, but “our daily bread” uses a Greek term that is used but one time in the ancient literature.— Sermon on the Mou... [Books] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [sermon on the mount]
Just ran across this, about our culture of violence. Read the whole thing here. Any culture has a difficult tendency to send conflicting messages on an array of issues, and American culture is no different. This fact is especially true when it comes to o... [Idle Musings] [pacifism] [theology]

January 14, 8AM

So close is the connection between curses and their heavenly derivation that curses can become deities themselves. They separate the dead from the living. They are disease, calamity, ailment, and misadventure. They are the agents of death. They are the pe... [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings] [theology]
Luke actually exploits the ambiguity of δεισιδαιμονέστερος. The characters of the story, that is, hear δεισιδαιμονέστερος in a complimentary sense, while the auditors—remembering the perspective created by 17:16&m... [Books] [Greek] [Idle Musings] [The Book of Acts]


If there’s an awakening and you come to your senses and you know something needs to be done and you think to yourself, "Tomorrow I will…" or, "Next week I’m going to…," that’s not the Holy Spirit. This was actually an awakening for me a few year... [AHA] [Books] [gospel] [Holiness] [theology]
“On earth as it is in heaven” is fundamental to the entire Lord’s Prayer as well as all of early Christian eschatology. Jesus clearly has no desire, as was the case in Platonic and the wider reaches of much of Greek and Roman thought, to move throug... [Books] [sermon on the mount] [theology]

January 13, 8AM

For the harm in all curses ultimately aspires to one end: death. They seek death in order to preserve life. This death is indiscriminate. No one is immune. It can be instant or slow and torturous.— Cursed Are You!, page 5 <idle musing>This is ... [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Idle Musings]
Instead of a romantic view of Athens as the place of university-like debate, Luke portrays the city’s rampant idolatry—Paul is rightly vexed—as the context in which the Christian preaching of the resurrection of Jesus (1) is distorted and (2... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [The Book of Acts]
When our AHA experience finds its fulfillment in immediate action, Jesus is ultimately glorified. Most of the non-Christians you know are probably aware of what you say and believe. And I bet they would say that most Christians don’t experience AHA; the... [AHA] [Books] [Idle Musings] [theology] [theosis]
In Israel’s Story, God is preeminent. Observance of the Torah is to be done before God. God-centered obedience glorifies God by making God preeminent. But humans want to usurp the place of God, making themselves the center of the Story. This happens at ... [Books] [gospel] [sermon on the mount] [theology]

January 12, 2PM

Jacob is heading back to Canaan and about to meet his brother—not a good situation, I'd say. So, he decides he better serve only YHWH, who said he would be with him and protect him—a wise decision, I'd say. "So they gave Jacob all of the forei... [Books] [Cursed Are You!] [Hebrew] [Idle Musings]


The missionaries are not calling for riotous insurrection (στάσις). Yet, read from within the perspective of the characters who utter the charges, it must be admitted that, despite their motivation (v. 19), they have witnessed in Paul’s exorcism t... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [The Book of Acts] [theology]
The son’s plan of action wasn’t complicated. It was pretty simple. Get up, go home, talk to his father. He didn’t plan a pit stop to get cleaned up. He didn’t plan a way to earn a little money so he wasn’t going home broke. He didn’t complicat... [AHA] [Books] [gospel]
Enemy love is not a magic formula. It’s not a trick. It’s a posture toward every human being we meet.— Sermon on the Mount, page 150 [Books] [gospel] [sermon on the mount] [theology]


First, look things up. Humans area cursed with the deadly combination of a highly fallible memory and an overconfidence in how much they know. Our social networks, traditional and electronic, multiply the error, so that much of our conventional wisdom con... [Books] [grammar]

January 10, 1PM

I'm rereading, after 25+ years, Daddy Long legs, delightful youth novel written in 1912. It definitely shows that some things never change: I only saw Master Jervie once when he called at tea time, and then I didn't have a chance to speak to him alone. I... [Books] [Idle Musings]
English syntax demands subject before object. Human memory demand light before heavy. Human comprehension demands topic before comment and given before new. How can a writer reconcile these irreconcilable demands about where the words should go in a sente... [grammar] [Idle Musings]

January 9, 8AM

[T]he radical nature of the apostles’ reinterpretation emerges in that it does not, in the manner of Aristobulus, for example, consist of a simple substitution of numinous realities—“that which you call Zeus is really the God of Israel.” It th... [Books] [Idle Musings] [The Book of Acts] [theology]
[W]hile it may sound a little cold or trite, the truth is we need to obey God even when we don’t feel like it. When we obey God even without feeling motivated, eventually our feelings will catch up with our actions.—AHA Student Edition electronic ... [AHA] [Books] [gospel]
Enemy love is not a command with a purpose—Jesus nowhere tells why we are to love the enemy. This [is] not Jesus’ strategy for conquering; it is not pragmatic. Nor is enemy love natural. This command, instead, confronts us with the one who is Lord... [Books] [Idle Musings] [sermon on the mount] [theology]


Though you shall have read and learned many things, it will always be necessary for you to return to this one principle: I am He who teaches man knowledge, and to the little ones I give a clearer understanding than can be taught by man. He to whom I speak... [Thomas à Kempis]

January 8, 10PM

Hey, I'm talking to you. Your readers know a lot less about your subject than you think they do, and unless you keep track of what you know that they don't, you are guaranteed to confuse them.—The Sense of Style, page 63 [grammar]
If you're not comfortable using an expression without apologetic quotation marks, you probably shouldn't be using it at all.—The Sense of Style, page 43 [grammar]

12 PM

Let Your name, not mine, be praised. Let Your work, not mine, be magnified. Let Your holy name be blessed, but let no human praise be given to me. You are my glory. You are the joy of my heart. In You I will glory and rejoice all the day, and for myself I... [Thomas à Kempis]


Converting to the God of the Christians was not merely an adjustment of this or that aspect of an otherwise unaltered basic cultural pattern; rather, worshipping the God of the Christians simultaneously involved (1) an extraction or removal from constitut... [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [The Book of Acts]
Don’t miss this: our passive approach to the action God has called us to shows that we care about something else more than we care about Him.—AHA Student Edition electronic edition [AHA] [Books] [Holiness] [theology]


“It is the great mistake of a false Protestant ethic to assume that loving Christ can be the same as loving one’s native country, or friendship or profession, that the better righteousness and justitia civilis are the same.”— Dietrich Bonhoeff... [Bonhoeffer] [Books] [sermon on the mount]

January 7, 8AM

I simply want to clarify that the debate between pacifism and just war theory focuses on the question of permission to make war. that diverts attention from the equally important question of practices that prevent war. These are two different questions. M... [just peacemaking] [pacifism] [sermon on the mount] [theology]
First, Matthew's Jesus points us to the traditional teaching of the Ten Commandments against murder. Second he diagnoses ongoing anger and insulting as a vicious cycle that leads to judgment (5:22). No imperative, no command against anger, is present. Rat... [just peacemaking] [pacifism] [sermon on the mount]
I have worked to demonstrate that the Sermon on the Mount, from 5:21 to 7:12, is not dyadic antitheses, but triadic transforming initiatives. The Sermon is distorted if it is interpreted as "high ideals," or "hard teachings," or merely as renunciation; it... [just peacemaking] [pacifism] [sermon on the mount]
[T]he fact is that the secondary literature on Acts is no longer to the brim; it has now burst the dam and threatens to wash away the text of Acts in a torrent of scholarly glossalalia.—World Upside Down, page 11 <idle musing>I dunno. I just e... [Books] [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun] [The Book of Acts]


Here’s something I’ve learned: we sometimes get stuck between honesty and action because we confuse our feelings with actually doing something. We trick ourselves. We believe that because we feel differently about something, we are actually doing some... [AHA] [Books] [gospel] [Idle Musings] [theology]
Pacifism isn’t quietism or withdrawal or inactivity, and it isn’t simple submission. Pacifism’s root is connected to the peacemaking beatitude, rooted in love and expressed when the follower of Jesus actively seeks peace. Pacifism isn’t a lack of ... [Books] [Idle Musings] [just peacemaking] [pacifism] [sermon on the mount]
Woke up this morning to the howling of the wind. Every night this week it has been windy, although not quite so windy as Sunday. Here's what it is at the airport (mind you, the gusts seem to be about every 30 seconds!): For those of you who prefer metric:... [Idle Musings] [Just for Fun]

January 6, 10PM

[S]tyle earns trust. If readers can see that a writer cares about consistency and accuracy in her prose, they will be reassured that the writer cares about those virtues in conduct they cannot see as easily. Here is how one technology executive explains w... [grammar]
From every college in the country goes up the cry, "Our freshmen can't spell, can't punctuate." Every high school is in disrepair because its pupils are so ignorant of the merest rudiments.—1917—cited by Steven Pinker in The Sense of Style, page 5... [grammar] [Just for Fun]


In simple terms, to “read” Acts is to think Christianly in the late first century Graeco-Roman world.—World Upside Down, page 11 <idle musing>I was going to title the post "Act"ively reading, but that seemed tacky. He's making a bold stat... [Books] [Idle Musings] [The Book of Acts]
Maybe this is a helpful picture: Think of AHA as a door that swings on three hinges. The first hinge is a sudden awakening. The second hinge is brutal honesty. The third and final hinge is immediate action. In Jesus’s parable of the prodigal son, there... [AHA] [Books] [gospel] [Holiness] [Idle Musings]
It is hard for me to square any Christian military posture toward “our enemies”—the kind of label unworthy for the follower of Jesus—with what Jesus both performed in his last week and what he teaches here [Matt 5:38–42] (as well as at Matt 26:5... [Books] [pacifism] [sermon on the mount] [theology]

January 5, 10AM

Denial is refusing to acknowledge the reality of a situation. Projection is acknowledging the reality of the situation but denying any responsibility. Minimization is acknowledging the reality of the situation and even owning responsibility for it—but d... [AHA]