Friday, August 24, 2012

The Mark of the Beast and the School Lunch

You can't make this stuff up.

A school in Florida has been having difficulty tracking who eats lunch and who doesn't. The solution? A palm vein scanner that allows the school to accurately track who goes through the lunch line each day and who does not. It is an example of technology being used in the education world.

But . . . there are those parents who object because they see it as the mark of the beast. Parents fearful that there children will be marked with 666 are reacting.

Mamie Sonnier said she is very angry and disappointed about it.
"As a Christian, I've read the Bible, you know go to church and stuff," said Sonnier. "I know where it's going to end up coming to, the mark of the beast. I'm not going to let my kids have that."
The school has over 1000 students and Principal Charles Caldarera believes the palm vein scanner will reduce errors in the lunchroom.  The school will know who eats lunch and who does not, thus will only charge the parents for the lunches the student does eat.
"We are so large," said Caldarera. "With an elementary school, they all come through line, and most of them eat here. It would make us more efficient and more accurate. We've had parents complain in the past, because they felt like their children weren't eating, that we assigned them a charge for the day, and they might have been right."

Here is a video of the news report. Happy Friday!

HT: God Discussion

Thursday, August 23, 2012

And now . . . A Film About Pontius Pilate

As I have noted on this blog in the past, Hollywood seems to be ready to repeat the 1950's with a series of films based on Bible stories and characters. At the moment a film on Noah featuring Russell Crowe is under way and Will Smith is said to be in negotiations to act in a film about Cain.

Now Warner Brothers is announcing a film about Pontius Pilate. Here is a bit of what the press release has to say.

Penned by Tortilla Soup scribe Vera Blasi, the script tells the story of Pilate’s rise through the military ranks, his promising political career and ultimately his thankless appointment to the religious hotbed of Judea. 
Blasi told Deadline she estimates about eighty percent of the story arc was pulled from either The Bible or historical records, while the other twenty percent was made up to fill in the gaps

The last line is the clue as to what kind of film this will be and I suspect that it will be based  20% on history and 80% made up as they go along . The fact is, we have very little information about Pilate. Most of our written information comes from Philo of Alexandria, Josephus, the New Testament and Pliny the Younger. In addition we have some information from coins and archaeology. I will be especially interested to see how they end the story since Pilate disappears suddenly from the historical records after running afoul of his superiors in Rome. For a good and serious examination of Pilate I recommend Helen Bond's Pontius Pilate in History and Interpretation.

For a more lighthearted depiction of Pilate I recommend the following scene from Monty Python's Life of Brian. This scene does come from the New Testament when Pilate asks the crowd if they want Jesus or Barabbass.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Proof that Jesus Visited North American Tribes: Or, yet another reason to learn Hebrew!

A friend brought this to my attention on facebook. The seller on Ebay describes it as a " Unique Vintage Navajo Moose 925 sterling silver pendant." 

Anyone notice something wrong here? 

Here is the link to the auction description.

The seller only wanted $5.50 for it. I am sorry to report that it has already sold. No word yet on whether the "Navajo Moose" knows any Yiddish. 

Did the disciples have good memory skills?

There is some debate over the historical accuracy of the words and actions of Jesus in the gospel. Since a majority of the population in the first century couldn't read, much less write, readers of the gospels have sometimes asked how we can trust the memories of the authors. One theory is by studying the nature of oral transmission. This was a popular approach among the early form critics and has seen a resurgence in the works of people like Birger Gerhardsson, Samuel Byrskog,  James D.G. Dunn and Terence Mournet, to name a few.

More recently Craig Keener has looked at the nature of oral transmission in his mammoth study on Miracles in  the New Testament. In the video clip below Keener discusses oral transmission and memory in ancient societies and modern. And he has some criticism for those whom he calls cultural elitists.

HT: Centre for Public Christianity.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Where do liberal Bible scholars come from?

I have had people who don't know me call me a "liberal." I am not always sure what they mean by that since it is one of those labels that can be used flexibly just like the label "conservative." As my readers know, I don't really like labels. I suspect what they mean is that I don't think or believe the way they do therefore I must be a "liberal."

But where do "liberals" come from? Are they born that way? Are they brainwashed? Over on the Huffington Post Greg Carey has a good article on how "we" are developed. This one paragraph I think really explains, for many of us, our backgrounds and how we feel.
Biblical scholarship is an academic discipline, taught and studied at universities, colleges and divinity schools all around the world. So it should be no surprise that biblical scholars run in all shapes, sizes, colors and denominations. What would surprise many people, though, is that a very large number of us love Jesus and the church, and we spend hours upon hours communicating the love and wonder we experience with the Bible. Indeed, some of our secular colleagues justifiably complain there are too many of us in the field. More surprising might be this one fact: many of us have our roots in fundamentalist and evangelical Christianity. The best way for conservative churches to produce "liberal" biblical scholars is to keep encouraging young people to read the Bible.
You can read Greg's article here.