Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Desktop Images, Nov 2006

Click on the links to check out my current Fedora Core 5 incarnation...

Desktop 1

Desktop 2

Desktop 3

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thought This Was Funny...

Jesus said, Whom do men say that I am?

And his disciples answered and said, Some say you are John the Baptist returned from the dead; others say Elias, or other of the old prophets.

And Jesus answered and said, But whom do you say that I am?

Peter answered and said, "Thou art the Logos, existing in the Father as His rationality and then, by an act of His will, being generated, in consideration of the various functions by which God is related to his creation, but only on the fact that Scripture speaks of a Father, and a Son, and a Holy Spirit, each member of the Trinity being co-equal with every other member, and each acting inseparably with and interpenetrating every other member, with only an economic subordination within God, but causing no division which would make the substance no longer simple."

And Jesus, answering, said, "What?"

Special thanks to ablueidol on LibraryThing, from whose review of Christian Theology: An Introduction by Alister McGrath, I swiped it.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Qur'anic vs Pentateuchal Musing

What do Allah and Yahweh say can verify or falsify their words?
And if ye are in doubt
As to what We have revealed
From time to time to Our servant [Muhammad]
Then produce a Surah
Like thereunto;
And call your witnesses or helpers
(If there are any) besides Allah,
If your (doubts) are true.
But if ye cannot--
And of a surety ye cannot--
Then fear the Fire
Whose fuel is Men and Stones
Which is prepared for those
Who reject Faith
--Surah 2:23-24, The Meaning of the Holy Qur'an, Abdullah Yusuf Ali
According to the Qur'an, evidence of its majestic and divine authorship can be traced back to the text itself. “Look at the Surah,” the voice of Allah declares, “and see if you can produce its like. But if nothing can equal or surpass it, then of truth, the Qur'an is from God.” The text presupposes, however, that when the task is undertaken, the Qur'an will be vindicated. Therefore, it cleverly shifts any possible detriment from itself or its prophet to the investigator with dire warnings for his own personal failing. We are essentially back where we began...belief that the Qur'an is divine word because it is inherently so. But initially, we are given this test of authenticity. Hopefully, our witnesses won't side with Allah against us if we come to the wrong conclusion.
But if any prophet presumes to speak anything in my name that I have not authorized him to speak, or speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die. Now if you say to yourselves, “How can we tell that a message is not from the Lord?” - whenever a prophet speaks in my name and the prediction is not fulfilled, then I have not spoken it.
--Deuteronomy 18:20-22a, NET
Far from implicating an investigator for unsatisfactory results, Yahweh discharges his own authority and holds the so-called prophet, himself, responsible. If the result is negative, Muhammad is hardly held to account for what he speaks, but Moses' very life hangs in the balance. In opposition to the Qur'an, which points at the structure and nature of itself, the Pentateuch points out from itself to historical event. Thus not only are we given an actual way to determine authenticity, but the Pentateuch as divine word remains vulnerable to rejection. The end result is that the burden of proof remains with Yahweh, whereas he who would doubt Allah is suspect.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Word Returning Void

So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
--Isaiah 55:11, ESV
We may also be familiar with the old translation “my word...shall not return unto me void” (KJV).

The language of voidness or emptiness in relation to Yahweh's word recalls the state of creation prior to divine fiat in which everything was tohu wabohu (without form and void/empty). With such a backdrop, Isaiah's saying would evoke the present natural order as evidence of a future order that could no more be transgressed than the sun, moon, and stars withholding their light. The connection might be stretched thin linguistically, but is not out of place in terms of narrative, for not only does verse 10 reference the order of creation, but it is within one of the ancient near eastern creation accounts that we find a direct parallel to this saying.
As for thee, thy command shall not fall empty, whatsoever goeth forth from thy mouth shall be established.
--Babylonian Creation Account, Enuma Elish, 1:138; 2:44; 3:48, 106

That which my mouth uttereth shall never fail or be brought to nought.
--Babylonian Creation Account, Enuma Elish, 2:140; 3:64, 122
In these parallels to Isaiah 55:11, Marduk (representative of creative order) is being given the power and authority by the gods to confront Tiamat and her demonic hordes (representative of the formless and empty primeval waters). Marduk (creative order) defeats Tiamat (formless emptiness), resulting in the formation and habitation of all things.

Creation is a witness of the power of God's word to not fall empty, but succeed in the thing for which it was sent. So, therefore, will Yahweh's intended order prophesied in Isaiah 55 also be done.

(copyright-free translations of Enuma Elish by the British Museum)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Biking The Griffith Park LIghts

Tonight was bikes only night for the Griffith Park Light Festival. I couldn't believe how many people showed. It was so much fun to bike alongside so many other bikers and enjoy the music and lights. Even though the Los Angeles sprawl and interstate were blocks away, it felt like a different world. No traffic, no noise, the air was cool and crisp, and the night was dark. I must've biked the length of it a half dozen times. So there wasn't anything there having to do with the only mention of Yahweh was the generalized "God bless America" the music was about bells and Santa and the lights featured elves and was good times.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Greek Orthodox Icons at Getty

There's an incredible new exhibit at the Getty, now till March, featuring some of the rarest and oldest Byzantine icons and manuscripts direct from St. Catherine's monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai. The Getty's "Holy Image, Hallowed Ground" page, brings you up close and personal with several flash interactive icons and audio. The web page alone is worth a visit. But if you're around or going to be around the Los Angeles area, check out the exhibit.

Go to the website for more:

Hopefully, I'll be visiting the exhibit before Christmas. Look here in the future for a review of the experience.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Mysterious Scripture Passage

In the first "epistle of Clement" of which our single copy comes from Codex Alexandrinus, a passage which does not exist in known scripture is quoted--being referenced like unto other scripture (it is written). Some people believe--and there is reason for this belief--that this epistle may have been written by the Clement mentioned by Paul himself in Philippians 4:3. If true, that would make the authorship of this epistle very early in church history--early enough so that it would argue strongly against the passage being a concoction. The question then is...where did it come from? Is this simply a creative mixture of other portions of known scripture?

Far from us be that which is written, “Wretched are they who are of a double mind, and of a doubting heart; who say, These things we have heard even in the times of our fathers; but, behold, we have grown old, and none of them has happened unto us."
--1st Clement, 23:3

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Book of Balaam

In 1967, archaeologists at the site of Tell Deir Alla uncovered two piles of crumpled plaster from around 800 BC on which were written portions of a book by Balaam--the same Balaam known until that time only in Numbers. Balaam was not, of course, a prophet of Israel. He appears in Numbers to be more of a prophet-for-hire. That he was a known and respected prophet in the ancient world--if only through legend--now seems confirmed through the combined witness of both biblical and extra-biblical evidence. A portion of the Aramaic text is translated below:
[THIS IS] THE BOOK OF [BA]LAAM, [SON OF BEO]R, A SEER OF THE GODS. And to that (man) came the gods at night. [And they spoke to] him according to the utterance of El. And they spoke to [Balaa]m, son of Beor, thus: ... [...] And Balaam arose in the morning. [...] ... [...] ... And he was not [able to eat.] [And he fast]ed, while weeping grievously. And his people came to him. And the[y said] to Balaam, son of Beor: Why do you fast? [And wh]y do you weep? And he said to them: Sit down! I shall tell you what the Shadd[ayin are] Now come, see, what the gods are about to do! The go[d]s gathered, while the Shadday deities met in assembly, and said to Sha[mash:] Thou mayest break the bolts of heaven, in thy clouds let there be gloominess and no brilliance...
--The Book of Balaam, 1-22, from Weippert's The Balaam Text from Deir Alla and the Study of the Old Testament

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Convenient Truth

The truth is usually too convenient for people, so they like to play with it, twist it, and make things difficult. I rarely discuss the politically-motivated, pompous global warming scare simply because it's so ridiculous. But since I found a nice article that lays the facts bare, thought I'd pass it on...
Scores of scientific papers show that the medieval warm period was real, global and up to 3C warmer than now. Then, there were no glaciers in the tropical Andes: today they're there. There were Viking farms in Greenland: now they're under permafrost. There was little ice at the North Pole: a Chinese naval squadron sailed right round the Arctic in 1421 and found none.

The Antarctic, which holds 90 per cent of the world's ice and nearly all its 160,000 glaciers, has cooled and gained ice-mass in the past 30 years, reversing a 6,000-year melting trend. Data from 6,000 boreholes worldwide show global temperatures were higher in the Middle Ages than now. And the snows of Kilimanjaro are vanishing not because summit temperature is rising (it isn't) but because post-colonial deforestation has dried the air. Al Gore please note.

In some places it was also warmer than now in the Bronze Age and in Roman times. It wasn't CO2 that caused those warm periods. It was the sun.
--Christopher Monckton, Climate Chaos? Don't Believe It, Sunday Telegraph
Click the link for more, including a details of exactly how and where the facts have been altered.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Aseneth's God-Man

In the ancient Jewish, historiographical theology romance Joseph and Aseneth, a man who identifies himself as Chief of the House of the Most High and commander of the whole host of the Most High (14:8, 15:12) comes to comfort Aseneth and fill her with new life after a prolonged, repentive mourning drains her of the old one. There are several fascinating things worth mentioning about this man.

First, his appearance (14:9, 16:13) is similar to the description of the glowing, burning, lightning clad figure sitting on the merkabah or chariot throne in Ezekiel 1.

Second, like the Logos, this man wields the power of verbal creation, which Aseneth realizes when she says "you spoke and it [the honeycomb] came into being" (16:11).

Third, he calls to Aseneth in the same manner that the voice of Elohim called to Abraham and she answers in the same manner, "here I am" (14:4-7).

Fourth, he has written her name in the Book of Life with his own finger (15:4) and bestows to her eternal life (16:15-16).

Fifth, like Yahweh throughout the Old Testament, the man metaphorically renames people. Instead of Aseneth, Joseph's wife will be called City of Refuge (15:7).

Sixth, Aseneth continually refers to the man as Lord, the same title she uses to refer to Yahweh in her prayers and psalm. She then says of him after he departs, "(What a) foolish and bold (woman) I (am), because I have spoken with frankness and said that a man came into my chamber from heaven; and did not know that (a) god came to me" (17:9). She quickly asks God for forgiveness for speaking boldly to the man, saying, "I have spoken boldly before you".

Eighth, Aseneth asks his name so that she could praise and glorify his name forever (15:12x). The man does not rebuke her for wanting to glorify and praise him forever as we might expect or demand--only for wanting to know his name, which he says is too great for man to know.

Despite all that, the man always speaks of himself as something other than God. He continually differentiates between himself and the Most High so it is certain that although this man is for all intents and purposes God, and is called as much, he is yet something other.

(Translation and chapter/verse headings from C. Burchard in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: Vol 2.)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Great Isaiah Scroll Online

And it is fucking cool!

Like the Aleppo Codex page, the Great Isaiah Scroll page features a colored digitization of the entire beast in flash interactive. It allows you to manipulate the scroll manually by rolling or unrolling it to the colomn of your choice. Zoom in and examine individual passages in close-up with a handy spyglass pane.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Dead Sea Scrolls in San Diego

Tickets go on sale today for the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition! If you're within driving distance of San Diego, purchase a ticket in advance and secure a place at this once-in-a-lifetime spectacle. Don't miss the opportunity to literally stand in front of part of the greatest archeaological discovery of the 2oth Century. The showing will include the oldest Ten Commandments in existence!