Friday, November 19, 2010
Off to SBL in Atlanta!
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Jesus' "Temporary Tomb"
Privately owned tombs were meant to cover familial and public emotions – they were designed to prevent the presence of unwanted strangers and any "leak" of the corpse's defilement out of the tomb.
Since the Sanhedrin owned its tombs, it could "lend" a burial place "on demand" when the Sanhedrin executed a Jewish felon. We've already seen that by law, felons' bodies had to "dwell" in the Sanhedrin tomb for a year.
- It assumes that the all of the laws that were in vogue in 30 CE were still known and active in 190 CE. It is quite possible that there were other practices that were dropped or introduced during the interval.
- It assumes that the Mishnah is descriptive rather than prescriptive. What I mean is, it assumes that because something was legislated that it actually happened. We could point to many instances in which things happen that are contrary to the law. Just because something is prescribed does not mean that it always (if ever) happened that way.
- It assumes that we have enough information in the Gospels that we can use the Mishnah to interpret them so easily. But the Gospels do not promote a "temporary burial". Their focus is on the claim of resurrection. Thus while there are certainly some historical facts that might tease us, the authors were not trying to provide us a legal description of Jesus' burial. The purpose was to move the story on to its climax. Thus, a lot of important details are not present and makes a full legal analysis impossible.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Cheating their way toward ordination
I have completed countless online courses. Students provide me with passwords and user names so I can access key documents and online exams. In some instances, I have even contributed to weekly online discussions with other students in the class.
I do a lot of work for seminary students. I like seminary students. They seem so blissfully unaware of the inherent contradiction in paying somebody to help them cheat in courses that are largely about walking in the light of God and providing an ethical model for others to follow. I have been commissioned to write many a passionate condemnation of America's moral decay as exemplified by abortion, gay marriage, or the teaching of evolution. All in all, we may presume that clerical authorities see these as a greater threat than the plagiarism committed by the future frocked.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Dwelling with Philippians: Book Notice.
The goal of this book is to help us "let the word of Christ dwell in us richly" (cf Col. 3:16) and to allow the text of Philippians to form our imaginations so that we see the world in a deeper, more life-giving way. Dwelling with Scripture trains our capacity for perception, which helps us see more deeply into the truth about God and ourselves. It prompts fresh insight into sin and grace and forms us for a faithful, hospitable, and just way of life. To this end, think of each artwork in this volume as a question ("How does this artwork help us to understanding some aspect of what Paul is communicating?") rather than as a definitive assertion ("This, surely, is what Paul was getting at").
This book is not a substitute for traditional Bible commentaries or study guides. Historical, theological, and literary analyses of the text are each indispensable. But we are convinced that a book like this can be an instructive supplement to these kinds of studies by harnessing the considerable power of artworks to help readers grasp Philippians' gospel message.
As a biblical scholar I am encouraged to see that someone is combining a commentary with spiritual formation. There are few that I am aware of that do this. Quite often the Bible is included in spiritual formation through an appeal to a couple of verses with little thought to the context or author's intent. This approach will help to encourage readers to consider using good Bible study as part of their personal formation.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Do we still need seminaries?
- If you are someone that has opted not to go to seminary then tell me why.
- If you did choose to go to seminary tell me why.
- What are we doing right and what can we do better?
- What are we not giving you that you need?
- I would be keen to hear from people outside the USA as well.