Saturday, January 19, 2013

Finally, a reasonable explanation for dinosaur extinction!

Over the years there have been many explanations for the extinction of the dinosaurs. The theories have ranged from a mass drowning during Noah's flood to a meteorite smashing into the earth. I have always favored Gary Larson's explanation in the Far Side

However, this is probably the most reasonable explanation for why.

HT: My brother Chris Byron

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Interested in a Ph.D. in Pauline Studies? Check out this opportunity at the University of Birmingham, UK

Paul Middleton has brought the following opportunity to my attention.

Message from Dr Hugh Houghton:
Please bring this announcement to the attention of any suitable final-year undergraduates or MA students..

There is an opportunity for a student to undertake doctoral research at the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing in the University of Birmingham.

As part of the COMPAUL project on "The Earliest Commentaries on Paul as Sources for the Biblical Text", a bursary is available for a student to work on the Greek catenae tradition of the Pauline epistles. Candidates should have excellent language skills in biblical Greek: experience of working with manuscripts would be beneficial, as would prior research experience and a Master's degree in a related area.

Potential applicants should contact Dr Hugh Houghton, the project's principal investigator, by 2nd February 2013. Please give details of linguistic ability and research experience and attach a brief CV.
The following web pages provide additional information
- on the project:
- on ITSEE:
- on the PhD:

With thanks,
Hugh Houghton

Allan Bevere on Faith and Living with Ambiguity.

There are many times during the year when students will question the relationship between my faith and scholarship. They want to know, for instance, how I navigate between history and faith. One thing I often tell them is that they should become accustomed to living with tension.

My colleague here at Ashland Seminary, Allan Bevere understands what I mean. In his blog post today he comments on what it means to be a Christian and to live with ambiguity. Here is a bit of what he says.

When I was younger, I needed lots of certainty about things in life. All questions required answers. But as I have grown older, I am not as certain about some things as I used to be. I see life as more complex now than it was twenty years ago. People are more complicated than it seemed when I was younger. Some answers that appeared to suffice for questions I had years ago are no longer adequate; and now, for many of those questions, I am okay with the mystery. And some questions I had when I was younger no longer matter. The questions I have now seem larger, more significant, and therefore more difficult to answer.

Read the rest of Allan's post here and let him know you stopped by.

Is studying biblical languages worth the investment?

Tyndale House along with the Bible Mesh project have a short video, which while advertising the courses they offer, also provides a nice historical outline of what Christian leaders have said about the importance of learning the languages.

See the video here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

N.T. Wright sings "Genesis"

I have a lot of respect for Tom Wright. I don't always agree with him and I think his books could be shorter, but in general I think he is a fine scholar and human being. But his recent attempts at singing seems a bit much. A few months back I saw a video of him signing a Dylan song. And now this - he is singing a song about Genesis to the the tune of the Beatles' "Yesterday."

Listen for yourself. It takes a bit for him to get going.

The First Messianic Synagogue? I doubt it.

Israel Today is reporting that it is possible a messianic synagogue from first century Galilee has been found. The article suggests that Jewish-Christians worshiped at this synagogue in Migdal, known to readers of the New Testament as Magdala. Here is a bit of what the article says.

When the synagogue was first discovered in 2009, Gorni and her team found a large stone table or altar with intricate carvings. They have since exposed the entirety of the synagogue.What makes this synagogue unique is its positioning, size and ornateness.
Gorni noted that the synagogue was located on the outskirts of what were then the city limits of Magdala. Others have pointed out that its small size would accommodate only about 120 people, but the population of Magdala at the time was several thousand. The synagogue also featured expensive trimmings, such as the carved altar.
All this likely means that the synagogue belonged to a small "outsider" sect that placed great value in its spiritual community life.
While Gorni and other Israeli archaeologists have focused on the fact that the synagogue was almost certainly in operation at the same time as the Second Temple in Jerusalem, the above details, combined with its location in Magdala, make this synagogue a likely candidate for one of, if not the first established Messianic Jewish place of worship.
It should be noted that this is speculation, and the experts have only vaguely made such a connection, though Gorni and others are almost certain that Jesus would have taught in this very synagogue.

A couple of things about this. 

1) This is relatively old news. The discovery was first reported in 2009

2) Many believe that it dates to the second temple period, which covers 50 BCE to 70 CE. So while it may have been existence during the time of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, it may have been there for quite a while before and after them.

3) I have not read anything that suggests this particular synagogue can be connected to Christianity. Its small size could have several explanations including that it was built in an earlier period and then became to small for everyone to use. While it may have remained in use it wasn't necessarily the main synagogue in the area.

4) Any connection between Jesus, Mary Magdalene and this synagogue is not only sensational, it is irresponsible. 

What is significant is that archaeologist may have found yet another first century era synagogue that was in operation prior to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Very few from this period have been discovered in ancient Palestine and this adds to the number. What does it tell us about Jesus and Mary Magdalene  Nothing really. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Some Links for Tuesday: 5 things never to say to your professor and 3 ways NOT to defend the Bible

Here are a few links you may find interesting today.

Five things you should never say to your professor - This being the beginning of a new term this might be a good reminder to some. The article appeared in USA Today.

Three ways Evangelical leaders should not defend the Bible - This is part two of  a series of posts Pete Enns is doing on who Evangelicals talk about the Bible. See here for part one.

The Life of Paul in the Movies - Mark Goodacre notes that the 1938 film Life of Saint Paul is now available on Youtube.

Inerrancy and the Authority of God - Ken Schenck has been doing a series on the problematic aspects of inerrancy.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Top 20 Archaeology Events and Discoveries of 2012

Bible History Daily has list the top 20 stories of 2012. Below are the links to the stories in no particular order of significance.