The Biblioblog Reference Library

[«] Posts by the Author "pleithart"(#910)

September 22 2017, 7AM

Bill Gates is looking for an energy miracle. Fossil fuels pollute, but they are far and away the cheapest and most efficient fuels. Nothing else has come close and, argues Mark Mills in The New Atlantis, we cannot imagine anything coming close, given the ... [science] [Technology]
Modernity, Sergei Bulgakov once said, is a sphinx. It poses a riddle, and those who cannot or will not answer the riddle are devoured. The editors of Political Theology in Orthodox Christianity cite this at the beginning of their study to highlight the am... [Orthodoxy] [Political Theology]
“One of the factors that has rendered [Bach’s] Matthew Passion so successful over the course of its reception,” writes John Butt (Bach’s Dialogue with Modernity, 36), “lies in its evocation of subjectivities that somehow res... [Bach] [music]


US By TR by pleithart via Leithart (#96369)
Graham Allison’s Destined for War is a study of contemporary politics, Sino-American relations in particular. Along the way, he asks what we would think if China started acting like the U.S. did as we rose to global prominence. The career of Teddy ... [American Foreign Policy] [American History] [American Military] [American Politics] [Theodore Roosevelt]
William Golding, writes Allan Massie in a review of John Carey’s biography in the TLS, was “a late starter, one oppressed in youth by doubts and feelings of social, and perhaps intellectual, inferiority. Until his middle forties he was a poor,... [William Golding]
Alastair Roberts’s contribution to Our Secular Age, a collection of essays on Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age, focuses on the effect of secularism on liturgical piety. Taylor identifies “authenticity” as one of the features of our s... [liturgy] [secularism] [secularization]


John Lanchester reviews James Scott’s latest (Against the Grain) in the New Yorker. Scott contends that human civilization is the product of our mastery of fire. Fire enabled humans to cook food, and that gave us, Scott argues, and evolutionary adv... [fire] [prehistory]
A couple of years ago, Kyle Nicholas summed up “The Progress and Future of Radical Orthodoxy,” now entering its early adulthood. Though the movement has waned, he argues for “its continuing relevance.” “Amidst scathing crit... [john milbank] [Radical Orthodoxy]
In his Material Eucharist (30), David Grumett summarizes the “Homily on the Grain” from the Syrian poet Cyrillonas: “Alluding to the incarnation and to Christ’s two natures,. he describes the grain falling into the earth and its ke... [Eucharist]

September 21, 5AM

Leviticus is divided into thirty-seven speeches, each introduced by “Yahweh spoke to Moses” (see Warning, Literary Artistry in Leviticus). The 19th speech – the central one – is Leviticus 16, instruction for the “day of cover... [Bible - OT - Leviticus]


Joseph Bottum offers a Girardian analysis of the current craze for knocking down monuments (Weekly Standard). Along the way, he explores the origins of the Confederate memorials, observing that “The list of removed statues and memorials seems mostly... [Confederacy]
IV. Cross of Reality Christianity’s history is the story of the cross’s penetra­tion into human experience and society. New epochs are formed when the cross begins to mark a new “sphere of our minds or bodies” (CF, p.165). In the new era that Ros... [Cross] [Rosenstock-Huessy]

September 20, 4AM

III. The Cross and Civilization Jesus gives abundant life. As the Crucified and Risen Man, he also creates new possibilities for history, forms a new epoch of history, the Christian era, and forms the possibil­ity of a new civilization. To understand ful... [Cross] [Rosenstock-Huessy]

September 19, 5AM

Jehoshaphat allies with Ahab of Israel by marrying his son to Ahab’s daughter Athaliah (2 Chronicles 18:1-3). He follows up with a religious alliance, sharing a sacrificial feast with Ahab. That leads to a military alliance, as Jehoshaphat puts Yah... [Bible - OT - Chronicles]


II. The Cross in Christian Experience How are the cross and resurrection reproduced in human life since Jesus’ cross and resur­rection? Essentially, Jesus incorporated death into life. Christian faith means faith in a God who makes death into a positiv... [Cross] [Rosenstock-Huessy]

September 18, 4AM

For a general introduction to the life and work of Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, see my “The Relevance of Rosenstock-Huessy.” “The Crucifixion is the fountainhead of all my values,” wrote the German-American philosopher and historian Eugen Rose... [Cross] [Rosenstock-Huessy]

September 15, 7AM

I grew up taking piano lessons. My mother, a college music teacher before her marriage, made sure of that. I didn’t care much for it, and gave it a lot less attention than my free throw technique. Tristesse. I wish I had believed my teachers who tol... [music]
Maxwell Johnson ends a chapter on “the Apostolic Tradition” in the Oxford History of Christian Worship with a reflection on the challenge of identifying the content of the “liturgical tradition”: “it has become extraordinaril... [Liturgics] [liturgy] [Tradition]


Julian Young offers a neat summary of the Arthur Schopenhauer (the “first European Buddhist”) at the TLS. Schopenhauer’s philosophy can be pinpointed by contrast with two better-known thinkers. Against Hegel’s fantastic “Bil... [philosophy]
“How is it possible,” asks Terry Teachout, “that a man who made his conducting debut when Grover Cleveland was president should still be sufficiently well known and revered that most of his recordings remain in print to this day?” ... [art] [music] [Toscanini]
Worship, Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) says, orders everything in human life: “It is only . . . when man’s relationship with God is right that all of his other relationships . . . can be in good order . . . . Worship . . . is essential for the r... [Benedict XVI] [Technology] [Worship]


The first published book of Jorge Luis Borges, the great Argentinian poet and short-story writer, was Fervor de Buenos Aires. Borges later wrote, “Fervor de Buenos Aires foreshadows everything I would do afterward.” It was a slapdash production, Borg... [Jorge Luis Borges] [publishing]
John Colmer observes in his study of E.M. Forster that Forster’s novels transpose Christian terms into a secular key: “a whole set of religious terms – salvation, grace, conversion, transfiguration – become assimilated into an e... [E.M. Forster] [fiction] [novels] [E. M. Forster]
Richard Florida’s 2002 Rise of the Creative Class was a manifesto for urban hipness. As Joseph Bottum sums up the book, Florida argued that “cities thrive when these creative types are allowed to build the creative economy. Their tolerance f... [cities]

September 14, 5AM

“Medieval tolerance” sounds like an oxymoron. Everyone knows the medievals were intolerant. Everyone knows that tolerance was invented in the modern world. Everyone who knows such things is wrong. Istvan Bejczy demonstrates in a 1997 essay tha... [middle ages] [Tolerance] [Toleration]


We can fill out Paul’s exhortation to give thanks for all things in all circumstances concretely by bringing it more explicitly into connection with the liturgy of the todah and the Eucharist. Giving thanks is a pattern of acknowledgement, recital, ... [gratitude]

September 13, 4AM

The combined sacrificial-verbal todah (thank offering) carries over directly into the Christian Supper. The main elements of the ancient Israelite rite are present, either in the New Testament or in very early post-apostolic celebrations of the Eucharist... [Bible - NT - Timothy] [Eucharist] [gratitude]

September 12, 5AM

Most English translations introduce the terminology of “thanks” in of Leviticus, as a translation of todah (Lev 7:11-15), a noun derived from yadah. In the Levitical system, todah does not refer to emotions or verbal expressions of gratitude but to a ... [Bible - OT - Leviticus] [Bible - OT - Psalms] [gratitude] [sacrifice]


The following is an excerpt from my commentary on 1-3 John, From Behind the Veil. The chapter division in our Bibles does not follow the flow of John’s argument in 1 John, which slips past the end of chapter 1 and flows into the beginning of chapter 2. ... [Bible - NT - John] [Johannine Epistles]

September 11, 4AM

“What is thanks?” Scripture answers that thanks is neither an emotion nor a virtue.[1] It is accompanied by emotions, and as we get to the New Testament it broadens to become a tone or stance of life, something like a meta-virtue. Fundamentally, thank... [gratitude]

September 8, 7AM

Brian Jones argues that defenses of capitalism are anthropologically thin. They “need a more humane anthropology, sensitive to man’s social and communal nature, lest they forget to ask the crucial question of what economics is for.” He cites... [capitalism] [Economics] [economy]
Cheating by pleithart via Leithart (#95656)
Cheating is pervasive, but rarely receives extended ethical analysis, argues Deborah Rhode in her forthcoming Cheating. We cheat on taxes, in games and sports, in love, in finding shortcuts to get what we want. She argues for a stringent set of criteria f... [Uncategorized]
Poet and novelist Ben Lerner struggles to explain the experience of reading the poems of John Ashbery, who died this week. The experience, mind you, not the poems themselves, which tend to defy explanation. Lerner quotes his first novel, where a characte... [John Ashbery] [poetry]


Josiah presides over the greatest Passover in the history of the monarchy (2 Chronicles 35:18). No sooner has the celebration subsided than Josiah heads out of Jerusalem to confront Pharaoh Neco as the latter marches north to fight Assyria. Josiah makes a... [Bible - OT - Chronicles]
Neel Mukherjee reviews recent books on India, including Adam Roberts’s Superfast. Roberts, he says, offers a serious book that exposes the appalling problems that India faces. Not least is the current government’s penchant for authoritarian ... [India]
The title novella in Patrick Modiano’s collection, Suspended Sentences, is a masterpiece of disquieting understatement. The adult narrator, Patrick, tells of the period of his childhood spent (as “Patoche”) with an odd assortment of care... [Patrick Modiano]


In his Life of Bertrand Russell, Ronald Clark describes the austere Evangelical regimen of the philosopher’s childhood: “Lady Russell’s evangelical concern to press her younger grandson into a mould of her own choice stamped him physica... [Bertrand Russell] [English History] [philosophy]
Do Protestants concede infallibility to the church when we affirm the canon of Scripture? Some Catholics argue so: The church created the canon, and so when we accept the canon we are implicitly accepting the church’s infallible decision-making powe... [Bible] [canon] [church] [Roman Catholicism]
Burdens by pleithart via Leithart (#95644)
Trace the development of the Hebrew massa’ (“burden”) through the Bible. In Torah, it refers to the physical labor of the Levites, carrying the furniture of the tabernacle and especially the ark. In Chronicles, it refers to the Levitical... [Bible - OT - Chronicles] [liturgy] [music] [Prophecy]

September 7, 4AM

Creation has a musical quality both in its origin and in its very nature. Genesis 1 sets out a melody: The act of creation is musical, a patterned, recurring sequence of speech acts. As product of God’s creating activity, creation is also melodic, ... [Creation] [Holy Spirit] [music] [Robert Jenson]

September 6, 5AM

A few items from the archives about Lutheran theologian Robert W. Jenson, who died earlier this week. Here’s my best effort to summarize Robert Jenson’s take on God-and-time, written with faux-Jensonesque pithiness. Is God eternally and infinitely the... [art] [Bible] [Robert Jenson] [Sex] [Time] [Trinity]
The following is an excerpt from my commentary on 1-2 Samuel, A Son To Me. Saul was rejected from being king before the battle of Michmash (1 Samuel 13-14), but a replacement was immediately introduced, his son Jonathan. Just as Eli was replaced by his ... [Bible - OT - Samuel]

September 5, 5AM

Genesis never says that Yahweh “chose” Abram. In some English translations, Genesis 18:19 speaks directly of Abram’s election, but the Hebrew verb is yada’, “know.” Nehemiah 9:7, though, does use “chose” with reference... [Bible - OT - Genesis] [election] [predestination]


How can we live together when we disagree in the midst of our deepest differences? asked Os Guinness in his 2008 The Case for Civility. In a month that has seen violent clashes across the US, his question is more relevant now than when he wrote the book. ... [American Politics] [civility]

September 4, 4AM

“What is a place?” asks Massimo Cacciari in his contribution to The Intelligence of Place. To answer, he turns to Aristotle, who claimed that “all suppose that things which exist are somewhere.” Fair enough, but what does that mean... [Europe] [philosophy] [place] [space]

September 1, 7AM

The Paris Review published an excerpt from Jeff Nagy’s forthcoming book on Degas and His Model. Written by one Alice Michel, and purportedly based on a first-person account from one of the painter’s models, named Pauline, the account was firs... [art]
Ecumenism by pleithart via Leithart (#95316)
David Nelson and Chad Raith (both friends of mine) offer a concise, lucid guide for those perplexed by Ecumenism. After an opening chapter defining ecumenism, the book traces the history of the ecumenical movement from its origins in the early twentieth ... [Catholicity] [ecumenism]
A report published in Social Forces examines the ripple effects of divorce. Instead of individualistically tracking the effects of divorce on the divorced couple, examining the costs and benefits of divorce, or, at most on the rest of the family, the stu... [Uncategorized]


Writing in the 1955, Walter Lippmann already discerned that the US was approaching the limits of toleration and facing a crisis of civil discourse. In his Essays on the Public Philosophy, he writes: “As we know from the variety and sharpness of schi... [American Politics] [Public Philosophy] [Toleration] [Walter Lippmann]
In discussing the rise of “mysteriological liturgical piety” in the fourth century, Alexander Schmemann (Introduction to Liturgical Theology) emphasizes the increasing pomp and ceremony of the liturgy. Orthodox liturgist though he is, Schmeman... [liturgy]
If we wanted to remodel a church, we’d hire a general contractor as project manager, and he’d hire the various carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and other craftsmen to do the work. Not Josiah. When he sets out to repair the temple, he calls... [Bible - OT - Chronicles] [music]


In his contribution to Spoken and Unspoken Thanks, Kevin Reinhart observes that “in English both ‘thanks’ and ‘gratitude’ belong to the domain of individual inner life and using them in a religious context mirrors our Western... [gratitude] [Islam]
“The division . . . between ‘corporate’ and ‘private’ worship must be discarded,” writes Alexander Schmemann in his Introduction to Liturgical Theology (24). He explains: “The purpose of worship is to constitute t... [Eucharist] [liturgy]
Adam Gopnik reviews Frederick Crews’s Freud in The New Yorker, and along the way to the review gives a brisk overview of the spread of Freudianism from Vienna to Hampstead to Berkeley, where Crews spent his career teaching. Crews was among the earl... [Freud] [Psychology]

August 31, 5AM

For many Christians today, the purity rules of ancient Israel seem bizarre and opaque. We’d never think of trying to observe them. This “disenchantment” of purity is a sign of the power and success of the Reformation, because medieval Ch... [middle ages] [pastoral theology] [purity]


Russian Orthodox liturgical theologian Alexander Schmemann died in 1983, but his importance continues to grow, and in surprising ways.  A Russian transplanted to Paris and then to Crestwood, New York, he was an acute observer of the American religious sc... [Eucharist] [Orthodoxy]
The Chronicler’s account of the reign of Amon, son of Manasseh and father of Josiah, is very brief (2 Chronicles 33:21-25). But these few verses hold some treasure. Like his father, he does evil in the eyes of Yahweh. Throughout 1-2 Chronicles the v... [Bible - OT - Chronicles]

August 30, 4AM

The story of Ruth shows us that the Lord will restore all that Israel lacks. [Bible - OT - Ruth] [evangelical newsletter]

August 29, 6AM

How is liturgy related to life? We might explore that question by attending to the nouns: What is liturgy? What is life? I instead want to pay attention to the conjunction: What are we saying when we say we talk about liturgy “and” life? The “a... [liturgy] [Theology - Liturgical]


The Chronicler’s account of Manasseh’s reign (2 Chronicles 33:1-20) is organized in a chiasm: A. Manasseh becomes king, v. 1 B. Builds high places, erects altars and an image, vv. 2-9 C. Manasseh does not listen, v. 10 D. Yahweh brings host of... [Bible - OT - Chronicles]

August 28, 4AM

The story of the tower of Babel, writes Harvey H. Guthrie (Theology As Thanksgiving) is “a sarcastic caricature of ancient Near Eastern culture and society and religion” (91). The tower is “the structure through which the human community... [Bible - OT - Genesis]

August 25, 5AM

Patristic Inerrancy? John Woodbridge contests the widespread notion that Fundamentalists invented the inerrancy of Scripture, that it’s a peculiarly post-Cartesian development. He assembles an impressive array of witnesses, including these two quota... [American Politics] [augustine] [history] [Inerrancy] [pop culture] [science] [Technology]

August 24, 5AM

President Trump garbled the message, but he was right. There was violence on both sides during the horrific events in Charlottesville. [American Politics] [Donald Trump] [Race]


It is often said that we come to worship to give and not to receive. That is a dangerous half-truth. [liturgy] [Theology - Liturgical] [Worship]

August 23, 4AM

When he became king at the age of twelve, Manasseh of Judah “turned,” “built,” “raised” altars, prostrated himself, and engaged in liturgical service (2 Chronicles 33:3). It looks like a promising sequence of actions, w... [Bible - OT - Chronicles]

August 22, 6AM

James Dolezal (All That Is In God) spends a chapter defending the claim that God is eternal Creator. In the course of this discussion, he interacts with Scott Oliphint’s view that God takes on “properties that he otherwise would not have had&... [Theology - Trinity]


The Bible never mentions theology. It does not preach theology, nor does it encourage us to preach theology. [Bible] [theology]