Monday, July 31, 2006

Kana and the Untold Story

People are outraged at the deaths of civilians at Kana--and they should be. We should mourn and decry the destruction of human life--more precious than anything! But the fact that people were killed is not the whole story. What the media does not tell you is how the terrorists are purposely firing their rockets from and storing their weapons in civlian houses, buildings, and areas where they know Israel will retaliate. If Israel is going to destroy the ability of terrorists to kill and destroy its people, it must attack the terrorists where they operate and keep their weapons. The terrorists are purposely launching missiles into Israel at civilians while using Lebanese civilians as human shields. In the following article, a mother tells a story her son told her from the front lines about how the terrorists used a baby and a mother to lure Israeli troops to their death--then opened fire both on the Israeli troops and the mother and her baby...

Cry To Those Using Babies As Shields

Sunday, July 30, 2006

For the Love of Text

It is strange to see people speaking of a book like they would of a loved one... To me, the scriptures are intriquing texts that I wish to understand and enjoy the pursuit of such understanding as well as the sharing of it, but not something that I approach a priori with a love, commitment, and devotion in my heart. I hope that enables me to come to conclusions that are based in sound reason, evidence, and history, instead of being pulled by my love to see the text in a way it does not, itself, imagine. (Yet neither do I want to fall into the error of those whose anger, hatred, or suspicions pull the text in a way it does not, itself, imagine) But in some ways, I envy those whose hearts have a passionate love for the someone like Tom Wright BECAUSE OF the passionate devotion in his heart toward the text is fueled in his willingness to reject that which isn't sound reasoning and to go where the text leads him even if it is not where he thought it should go... Perhaps, some day, I will have Tom Wright's heartfelt devotion for scripture as well as his reasoning and understanding. Right now, I have heartfelt devotion to understand, to search, to question, and to know... My words will be less flowerly and more analytic. I will not feel a desire to uphold a text because I do not know yet in many ways how it should be upheld--or, yet, even if a text should be.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Of Miracles And History

I finished reading a debate that occurred recently between William Craig and Bart Ehrman called Is There Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus? and am very disappointed with Ehrman. In fact, I'm willing to say that if this was a boxing ring, Ehrman was KO'ed. There were, however, some “blunders” on Craig's part also (read the debate to get the pun). I'm not at all sure if I can agree with any of Craig's appeals to a “personal faith” and to “experiential knowledge” of the resurrection (although I'm glad at the relative lack of that appeal). It had Existentialist written all over it, especially considering that no non-Hellenistic, traditional Jew in the first century—especially Jesus—would ever talk about “personal faith” and/or “experiential knowledge” of him in such a sense.

But on to my main focus...Erhman's unrelenting condition toward historical study. Again and again, he kept pressing what Craig revealed as a self-defeating, contradictory conclusion: that historical study can say nothing about God and that it must deny resurrection or any other miracle as a valid historical conclusion.

Discounting the assumption of not talking about God in historical study, I have to question the “agreed assumption” that we must deny a resurrection or any other miracle as a valid historical conclusion for a number of reasons--chief among them being that if we deny what the evidence might lead us to say before we investigate it, not only are we proceeding against scientific method, but we are also locking ourselves into the current understanding of things without room for progress and the accumulation and discovery of new and better knowledge.

Imagine if early scientists had got together and agreed that the stars and planets revolve around the Earth and that no other models could be discussed in a scientific investigation because the geocentric universe was the “agreed assumption” or methodology of the professional community. Talk about closed-minded, absurd, and scientifically debilitating.

Okay, but a miracle—we'll take the resurrection as an explicit example—and the orbit of stars and planets are not the same thing because one occurs in the realm of the observable and appears in the natural world while the other doesn't. All right, then what about gravity, quarks, and the mind? Gravity, quarks, and the mind are not observable and do not appear in the natural world. The reason we believe in gravity and quarks and the mind is by inference of those things we do observe and that do appear in the natural world. No one is going to say that a falling object is gravity or that a brain is the mind or that the electrons in the nucleus of an atom are themselves quarks.

If we're going to only deal with things we can see and not draw valid conclusions to explain them from outside the realm of the observable in nature, then there are quite a few things we would have to deny if we are going to be consistent. But Erhman doesn't discount those other things, only if it relates to “God”. Indeed, as Craig pointed out, history itself does not deal with things we can observe or measure in the natural world, but it deals with the past, which can no longer be observed or measured in nature. Taking Erhman's argument to its logical conclusion would mean we can say nothing about history itself and a historical statement becomes a statement that cannot be made historically.

The fact is, our knowledge both scientifically and historically is changing all the time. What we believed yesterday, we do not believe today. And what we know today is not even the tip of the iceberg. It may be that in 100 years everyone will believe that resurrection is not only possible, but natural. What if there was a way to resurrect a human being from death? What if we discovered it and implemented it? Unlikely? Well, if a naturalist is going to appeal to the possibility of evidence in the future for belief in rationality arising from non-rationality in the past despite all available present scientific evidence, I don't see what favors that unlikely discovery over this one--except that in the case of rationality arising from non-rationality, evidence has been examined and the conclusion found wanting, whereas in the case of a resurrection, the evidence has simply been denied a hearing.

It is only closed-minded prejudice against anything that is not one's own current belief and knowledge which would make someone deny at the outset something like resurrection from happening historically and from being discussed historically.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Killing Me Softly With His Hebrew

I learned my first Hebrew verb paradigm... The root is KTL, the word is katal. My grammar makes use of the same word repeatedly throughout in order to learn all the various methods of conjugating person, gender, and number, but nowhere did I find an explanation of what the word actually means. I looked in the back, which gives all the vocabulary taught in the grammar, but katal wasn't there.

So I'm thinking, if I'm going to be saying this word over and over again--many times out loud, I would at least like to know what I'm actually saying. So I took out my trusty Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and Enlish Lexicon and looked it up. To my surprise, the word I am chanting over and over again in different forms is "kill" (slay/slaughter to be more precise). Pretty morbid. I wonder why the author didn't feel like disclosing this to his students...

Friday, July 21, 2006

Fed Up With Politics of Religion and Party

I've been long sick and tired of the different political agendas...fed up and over with the various name-calling, party bashing, and the purposed coloring and one-sidedness of information and argument between parties. Someone asks a question or gives an opinion that may very well be ignorant or untrue, but instead of coming at that question or opinion with reasoned evidence AND with a respectful, courteous, and self-sacrificial attitude, the other side responds with a non-answer full of dismissal or reproach based on their otherness. And it doesn't have to be just Republicans or Democrats, it could be Atheists and Christians, who begin a discussion and immediately break down into sarcastic judgments and alienating statements about the other's abilities, ideas, or positions out of their own pride or prejudices.

But what gets me more than anything are political cartoons, which seem to always dehumanize and debase the other so that a person is turned into some kind of monstrous object of scorn or pity symbolic of the viewpoint the author has of the wretchedness of the other's position and ideas. I can't tolerate such disrespect for a human being made in the image of Yahweh. In my book, such a thing is an affront to that man's Creator.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Currently Reading...

"Comparative Customs and the Patriarchal Age" by Martin Selman

as taken from Essays on the Patriarchal Narratives edited by A.R. Millard & D.J. Wiseman

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

MBAbe Update

As an answer to my own query here, the reason for placing the patriarchs in MBI or MBII is based on various occupied sites, cities, or settlements described in the Biblical narratives and their presence or absence in the archaeological record. Shechem, for instance, did not exist as an urban center in EBIV-MBI, but did so exist in MBII. Thus, if Shechem is presented in the Jacob narrative as a walled city (it is), the time of Jacob is fixed (at the earliest) at the start of MBII.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Trial Quotes 2

Others have denied facts, or asserted facts, in hopes of saving their lives, when they were under sentence of death: but these men attested a fact at the expence of their lives, which they might have saved by denying the truth. So that between criminals dying, and denying plain facts, and the apostles dying for their testimony, there is this material difference: criminals deny the truth in hopes of saving their lives; the apostles willingly parted with their lives, rather than deny the truth.
--The Trial of the Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ by Thomas Sherlock

Friday, July 14, 2006

Christ of Faith Must Be Jesus of History

Without the Jesus of history the Christ of faith is merely a docetic figure, a figment of pious imagination. The Christian religion claims to be founded on historic fact, on events which happened sub Pontio Pilato; and having appealed to history, by history it must be justified.
--George B. Caird, Jesus and the Jewish Nation

Thursday, July 13, 2006

My Space Page Up

Reign of Malevolence.

I'm finally out there...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Trial Quotes 1

There is, to my apprehension, nothing more unreasonable, than to neglect and despise plain and sufficient evidence before us, and to sit down to imagine what kind of evidence would have pleased us; and then to make the want of such evidence an objection to the truth; which yet, if well considered, would be found to be well established.
--The Trial of the Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ by Thomas Sherlock

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Besides Albright's "donkey caravaneer" argument and the use of the Amorite hypothesis (both of which have been beaten down like a dead camel), is there any archaeological reason and evidence to link Abraham with MBI or MBII (A or B)? There must be some good reason besides sociological parallels that might fit Abraham into any time between EBIV and the Late Bronze Age... Is there?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Tatian on Resurrection

Although I have not yet formed my beliefs regarding resurrection and have set aside all manner of decision until I have read The Resurrection of the Son of God by Tom Wright (which will be the essential and pivotal foundation wherewith my beliefs about resurrection will be formed and solidified), if I were to state my current thoughts, they would echo precisely what a Christian of the second century once said...
For just as, not existing before I was born, I knew not who I was, and only existed in the potentiality of fleshly matter, but being born, after a former state of nothingness, I have obtained through my birth a certainty of my existence; in the same way, having been born, and through death existing no longer, and seen no longer, I shall exist again, just as before I was not, but was afterwards born.
--Tatian, Address to the Greeks, 6
Tatian believed (and said this not of himself alone, but of "we"--many other Christians), that a person only exists when he/she has a body. He/she does not exist before birth and once dead, will exist no longer until that day Yahweh raises him/her up corporeally to judgment.

This is exactly the way my thoughts run. I do not believe in an eternal soul. And neither do I believe in a heaven or hell outside resurrection. (I'm not entirely sure I believe in heaven or hell anyway...but that's tangential.) Only Yahweh is eternal. Therefore, if man be eternal, it can only occur through Yahweh making man to be so above and beyond mankind's current state in creation. Thus resurrection and the glorification of creation itself.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

See Pluto's Moons

One of the newest pictures of Pluto and its moons, two of which (Nix and Hydra) were not officially named until recently.

Absolutely incredible.

Yahweh reveals himself qualitatively in what he has made.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Creation Ended 6th or 7th Day?

In Genesis 2:2, many bibles say that Yahweh completed his creation activity on the seventh day.
And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made...
And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done...
Other bibles translate it "by the seventh day" instead of "on" or "in" the seventh day so that the days of creation are six full days instead of six full days and part of the seventh.

What is less known is that the word seven appears in the Masoretic texts, but not the Septuagint or Samaritan Pentateuch. These other textual traditions, which antedate our Masoretic texts and their families by 1,000 years and more, say that God completed his creation activity on/in the sixth day.
And God finished on the sixth day his works which he made...
The sixth day translation would be the superior except for the fact that both the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Septuagint are translations of the Hebrew. In order to verify this as the correct ancient wording, what we need is a Hebrew script from ancient times which agrees with these other ancient texts against the late Masoretic ones. For that, we turn to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Unfortunately, the only words preserved in 4QGen are the words "...his...which...".

All right then, what of the Targumim--the Aramaic translations? Targum Onkelos, our oldest and most trusted, says "And the Lord finished in the Seventh Day His work which He had wrought."

The Vulgate also supports the "seventh" day, but the Peshitta says "sixth."

In the absence of a DSS witness, it is hard to make a decision. But due to the presence of at least one ancient authority reading "seventh day" (Targum Onkelos), I'm going to have to go with "seventh" as the original reading because it is the more difficult reading. The preceding days began and ended in their respective orders, making us believe creation took six days. It would be easier for a scribe to change the text to say "sixth" in harmony with the last chapter than to go out of his way to say creation went over into the seventh day when it originally said sixth.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

World's Oldest Map

This tablet has been dated to the Early Bronze Age (specifically EBIV for those familiar with the dating vernacular).

In layman's terms, that's between 2300 and 2000 BC. This is the earliest period usually ascribed to Abraham by those who believe he was a historic figure. Interestingly enough, the map names Ebla--a city with one of the ancient libraries of cuneiform texts that richly expanded our historical knowledge when we unearthed it.

An interesting thing about this map is that it's direction does not follow our Modern day conventional maps. Up is not north, it's east. Down is not south, it's west. The map shows four rivers which begin in the north (left) and flow across the land, between mountain ranges, to meet in the south-east (upper-right). Can you guess which rivers and region this happens to be?

Monday, July 03, 2006

A Calvinistic Syllogism

1. You should not trust or believe what a totally depraved person says.
2. If it is true that a Calvinist is totally depraved...
3. You should not trust or believe what a Calvinist says.

If this one point of Calvinism is true (total depravity), then you cannot trust or believe Calvinism. Calvinism is, therefore, self-defeating.

In order to deny this logical syllogism, you have to either 1. believe that you should trust or believe what a totally depraved person says (i.e., go to the local looney bin for advice and information), which is self-evidently absurd, or 2. believe that depravity is not total, which denies one of the key tenants of Calvinism and is therefore self-defeating of Calvinism anyway.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Natural Evil

The reason for what we call “natural evil” is the failure of mankind to have dominion and rule over creation as he was purposed to by Yahweh in Genesis. Yeshua became the “second Adam” in that he succeeded in fulfilling the purpose of the first—dominion and rule over creation.

Yeshua was a like a magnet that naturally aligns metallic bits to its order, and he took dominion and rule over creation in the place of the first Adam. He naturally healed the sick, naturally raised the dead, and naturally calmed the storm—in other words, appropriately dealt with “natural evils”. Now that Yeshua has received for himself the kingdom, he has given it to us Christians—his body/representative on Earth. And it is therefore up to us to do what he did—i.e., follow him—have dominion over creation itself by restoring it and bringing it into its intended order by the power and authority of Yeshua who reigns.

“Super”natural entities are "super"fluous to the main concern. They only influence this equation at the personal level by influencing and enticing people towards their own broken/fallen nature. Thus they effect the present “natural evil” by manipulating fallen man towards continuance in his fallenness, which means not being able to restore creation, and so “natural evils” remain.

If anything, what I would call “natural evils” is "unnatural” or “preternatural consequence". We are used to people getting sick and dying and of hurricanes destroying cities and killing people...and if there are “super”natural entities, they only have power to suggest to us that this is the way things are naturally. The question is whether we're going to believe them and blame Yahweh for our fallen state and inability to affect change when Yahweh has provided and showed us the way, or whether we're going to follow that way and bring the redemption of Yeshua into creation itself as he showed us.