N.T.WRONG

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Ancient Jewish Magic was ‘Perfectly Rational’

Posted by NT Wrong on January 3, 2009

“As the assumption that various forces of nature have an angel “ministering” over them was common enough in late-antique Jewish culture, and given an additional axiom that angels can be adjured by humans (esp. by an appeal to the power of God, who created them and whom they greatly fear), the adjuration of angels to quell a storm, bring back a recalcitrant lover, or perform other great deeds would be a perfectly rational action.”
– Gideon Bohak, Ancient Jewish Magic (2008 )

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Posted in Magic | 2 Comments »

Eilat Mazar Uses Fundamentalist Christian Cult to Link Archaeological Finds to ‘King David’

Posted by NT Wrong on January 2, 2009

herbert_w_mazarI noticed this disturbing archaeological News on Otagosh, the biblioblog of Gavin Rumney, a one-man encyclopedia of all things to do with Herbert W. Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God.

As a bit of background: Biblical Archaeologist Eilat Mazar announced in October 2008 that the excavation of a tunnel she is supervising in Jerusalem is the tsinnor in the story of King David’s conquest of Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5.6-8; 1 Chronicles 11.4-6). Earlier apologists had identified the tsinnor with a shaft near the Gihon Spring, in the attempt to make simplistic correlations between the Bible and archaeology. But when recent excavations showed that the Gihon Spring site wasn’t used in the tenth century BC (when David is alleged to have lived), the Biblical Archaeologists switched to Mazar’s tunnel, in a further desperate attempt to ‘prove’ the truth of the Bible. After all, Biblical Archaeologists such as Eilat Mazar actually boast that their ‘method’ comprises having a spade in one hand and a Bible in the other. Archaeology then becomes a childish game of joining the dots between the two, rather than a professional attempt to assess the context of the archaeological sites in their own right. No doubt, when problems arise with the correlation between this tunnel and the Bible, Mazar will pick up the Bible again (with her right hand) and use her left hand to dig for some new tunnel.

What Gavin Rumney draws attention to is that Mazar has handed over most of the archaeological dig to uber-fundamentalist Christians from the Church of God cult! That’s like handing over an archaeological dig for the original golden Book of Mormon to the Latter Day Saints, and then announcing that Joseph Smith was telling the truth!!

“A few days after the tunnel entrance was discovered, Mazar set out to excavate the tunnel, assigning Armstrong College students to the task. AC junior John Rambo, 22, from Oklahoma, and graduate Victor Vejil, 24, from Texas, spent nearly two months inside the tunnel, digging using small tools [a Bible?] under artificial light…”
– The Philadelphia Church of God, ‘AC students dig up 10th century B.C. tunnel in Israel’, December 15, 2008

Note: ‘Armstrong College’ is an unaccredited college. Well, it’s more of a fundie training-camp than a ‘college’.

“The tunnel was lost from world view after the Babylonians laid siege to the city in 585 B.C., until AC students stumbled upon it. While describing the student’s contribution, Mazar called the excavation an almost entirely “Armstrong College enterprise.” All the positions related to the tunnel were filled by the student volunteers, except for that of the artist who was responsible for mapping out the tunnel.”
– The Philadelphia Church of God, ‘AC students dig up 10th century B.C. tunnel in Israel’, December 15, 2008

Let’s see… the archaeology is being undertaken by Zionist extremists, the City of David Foundation and Christian Zionist students at an unaccredited college of the Church of God, under the leadership of Eilat Mazar, who holds a Bible in one hand while she digs with the other.

Is it any wonder that the excavation comes up with the oddball proclamations they do, when they involve such one-eyed zealots? Unfortunately, their utterly unfounded proclamations are then uncritically accepted by an ignorant and profit-driven mainstream media, a gullible Christian public, and an equally gullible and also nationalistic Israeli public.

Given such a widespread dissemination of misinformation, it is well worth pointing out the highly suspect groups behind the dig, the routine failure to apply accepted archaeological method, and the completely fanciful and wishful nature of their identifications of archaeological sites with biblical stories.

Posted in Archaeology, Historiography | 15 Comments »

Biblioblogger of the Year

Posted by NT Wrong on January 1, 2009

biblioblogger1Jim West has kindly picked me as the First Annual Biblioblogger of the Year.

“The criteria are quite simple: the Blogger of the Year is that biblioblogger who, in my humble estimation, causes the most stir in the biblioblogging empire with their wit, insight, and comprehensiveness.”

Thanks, Jim, you’re such a sweetie.

Update: And Scott Bailey, of Scotteriology fame, kindly designed a framed plaque – which is going straight to the Pool Room.

Update again: And look at Antonio’s cup!
biblioblogger2

Posted in Biblioblogs | 3 Comments »

Noah’s Ark Animation

Posted by NT Wrong on December 27, 2008

Kal the Animator is a funny man.

“Shit! This is going to take me 120 years!!” – Noah

Posted in Humour, Pentateuch | Comments Off on Noah’s Ark Animation

La Bible: Le vrai et la légende – Finkelstein Interview

Posted by NT Wrong on December 26, 2008

Finkelstein Interview in Sciences et Avenir, December 2008. Extracts here.

bible
Pourquoi alors ce mythe de la monarchie unifiée ?

Israël Finkelstein. Pour le royaume de Juda, la récupération des terres qui avaient été occupées par les Assyriens est fondamentale. Jérusalem considère que les terres du nord, c’est-à-dire les ex-territoires de l’ancien royaume d’Israël, lui appartiennent. C’est à ce moment-là qu’émerge l’idée du pan israélisme territorial et cette volonté farouche de vouloir créer un grand royaume unifié, en particulier après le retrait assyrien. Afin de donner à ces aspirations territoriales une légitimité, il fallait les lier idéologiquement aux grands rois David et Salomon… C’est alors que s’est faite la collecte des traditions orales, des histoires populaires, des prophéties, des chants épiques et des textes de propagande royale et que les traditions des deux royaumes du sud et du nord ont été combinées en une seule source écrite.

En quelques années à peine, les fouilles archéologiques nous montrent que la surface de Jérusalem passe de six à plus de soixante hectares ! Que les villages du royaume de Juda multiplient leur superficie par cinq ou six et que leur nombre s’accroît fortement. C’est très spectaculaire. Seule l’archéologie pouvait montrer l’ampleur de cette soudaine expansion! Confirmant une fois de plus que c’est seulement à partir de la fin du VIIIe siècle avant J.-C. que la Jérusalem prospère a existé, et pas dans des temps mythiques antérieurs.

Posted in Archaeology, Historiography | Comments Off on La Bible: Le vrai et la légende – Finkelstein Interview

Creation Science 101 – A Song by Roy Zimmerman

Posted by NT Wrong on December 26, 2008

Posted in Fundamentalism, Humour, Music, Science | 1 Comment »

PrayerMAX 5000™ – Unlimited Riches Are Yours Today!

Posted by NT Wrong on December 25, 2008

Posted in Humour | Comments Off on PrayerMAX 5000™ – Unlimited Riches Are Yours Today!

Reason No. 33: Galatians 3.22 – 100 Reasons πίστις Χριστοῦ is an Objective Genitive

Posted by NT Wrong on December 23, 2008

pistis_christouThe following post is an abridged version of one of the 100 reasons πίστις Χριστοῦ is an Objective Genitive included in my forthcoming book:

100 Reasons πίστις Χριστοῦ is an Objective Genitive


Reason No. 33: Galatians 3.22

In Galatians 3.22, Paul refers to ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (”by faith[/fulness] in [/of] Jesus Christ”). He refers to this phrase in the context of his discussion of how the law had imprisoned all things under the power of sin.

Paul’s argument in Galatians 3.22 continues into chapter 5, and is explored in his intervening analogy concerning Abraham and his seed.

Morna Hooker argues that the passage demonstrates that the promise to Abraham came to the Gentiles by their incorporation into Christ, the faithful one (1989:327-331). Her argument is that believers are the descendants of Abraham (3.6-9), yet as Christ is the only seed of Abraham (3.15-16), and faith came in Christ who shared Abraham’s faith (3.22-25), the promise must therefore be given to those who have faith through participating in Christ’s faith (3.22).

But Dunn queries why, if this was really Paul’s argument, Paul did not bring it out more clearly, by explicitly stating that Christ believed as Abraham believed (1991: 738). Dunn has more regard to the context of Paul’s argument, the central concern of which is how non-Jews could be considered Abraham’s children by sharing Abraham’s faith. As argued in Reason No. 81, Gal 3.8 refers to the faith of believers, and this is so right through to Gal 3.14, where the promise of the Spirit is declared to be received through faith, recalling the believers’ receipt of the Spirit through “believing what [they] heard” in 3.2 & 5. In Gal 3.15ff, Paul introduces a further argument, from the premise that Christ is the sole seed of Abraham in whom the promise was fulfilled. And as a result of this argument, the faith that justifies in 3.6-9 is understood in 3.22 as faith in Jesus Christ. Dunn rightly concludes that Hooker has “merged the two strands of Paul’s argument [3.5-14 and 3.15-25], and her thesis arises from the resulting confusion” (191: 738).

References:

  • Morna D. Hooker, “ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ.” New Testament Studies 35 (1989): 321-42.
  • James D. G. Dunn, “Once More, ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ.” Society of Biblical Literature Seminar Papers, 1991: 730-44.
  • Posted in Faith, Greek, Jesus & Christ, Paul, Soteriology | Comments Off on Reason No. 33: Galatians 3.22 – 100 Reasons πίστις Χριστοῦ is an Objective Genitive

    Reason No. 81: Salvation by faith not law in Galatians 2-3 – 100 Reasons πίστις Χριστοῦ is an Objective Genitive

    Posted by NT Wrong on December 23, 2008

    pistis_christouThe following post is an abridged version of one of the 100 reasons πίστις Χριστοῦ is an Objective Genitive included in my forthcoming book:

    100 Reasons πίστις Χριστοῦ is an Objective Genitive


    Reason No. 81: Salvation by faith not law in Galatians 2-3

    Paul makes an argument for salvation by faith versus law by utilising the example of Abraham in Gal 3.6ff. But before he does this, Paul makes an initial argument for salvation by faith not law from the Galatians’ receipt of the Spirit in 3.2-5.

    This initial argument from the receipt of the Spirit is bracketed by two clear contrasts of (i) human works of the law and (ii) human faith through hearing:

    – Gal 3.2: “Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard?”
    – Gal 3.5: “does God supply you with the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?”

    The ensuing example of Abraham’s justification by faith in Gal 3.6ff is introduced as something the Galatians know (Γινώσκετε) as a result of (ἄρα) Paul’s prior words. So the justification ἐκ πίστεως in this section (Gal 3.8), which is also contrasted with works of the law, would likewise refer to the faith of believers.

    So we have two successive and related sections in which Paul contrasts human faith and human works of the Law. So how should we read the earlier section in Gal 2.16.20, which makes the same contrast?

    The shared context of these three connected passages strongly suggests that πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ and πίστει … τῇ τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ in Gal 2.20 concerns human faith.

    Thus πίστις Χριστοῦ is an objective genitive: the faith of humans in Christ.

    Posted in Faith, Greek, Jesus & Christ, Paul, Soteriology | Comments Off on Reason No. 81: Salvation by faith not law in Galatians 2-3 – 100 Reasons πίστις Χριστοῦ is an Objective Genitive

    Reason No. 76: Faith versus Works – 100 Reasons πίστις Χριστοῦ is an Objective Genitive

    Posted by NT Wrong on December 22, 2008

    pistis_christouThe following post is an abridged version of one of the 100 reasons πίστις Χριστοῦ is an Objective Genitive included in my forthcoming book:

    100 Reasons πίστις Χριστοῦ is an Objective Genitive


    Reason No. 76: Faith versus Works

    Proponents of the objective genitive have pointed out that πίστις Χριστοῦ is used in contexts where works are being contrasted with faith. As the natural contrast to human works is human faith, this supports the objective genitive translation. The interpretation is also supported by other similar passages such as Rom 9.30—10.8 and Phil 3.2-11 (Schreiner 2001: 213-14).

    However, it is countered by Cousar (1996: 130) that it makes more sense to read Paul as pitting a human activity (works) against a divine activity (Christ’s faithful obedience). This rather misses the point of the passages. While Cousar’s suggestion may indeed be a “more powerful contrast” (Matera 1992), the question remains: is it the actual contrast being made in the text? Probably not. This contrast is not in fact Paul’s own contrast.

    Matlock (2000: 12) provides an argument showing that this is not a good interpretation of Paul’s contrast. He points out that, if Paul’s antithesis were focused on divine versus human actions, it is unusual that Paul does not directly contrast ἔργα νόμου and ἔργα Χριστοῦ.

    Accepting the governing context of Paul’s contrast between human faith and works, and between Abraham’s faith (Gen 15) and Abraham’s observance of God’s command (Gen 17), Paul’s antithetical worldview is a significant piece of evidence in favour of the objective genitive interpretation.

    Hays’ theological objection that this places human faith at the basis of the promise (2002: 150-151) would only be true if human faith were the ultimate basis in any of these passages. But it is never is. Human faith is always made possible by the grace of God through Christ, and functions merely as the explanation of how humans are to appropriate this gift.

    References:

  • Richard B. Hays, The Faith of Jesus Christ: The Narrative Substructure of Galatians 3.1—4.11. Rev. Ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002.
  • Thomas R. Schreiner, Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001.
  • C. B. Cousar, The Letters of Paul. Interpreting Biblical Texts. Nashville: Abingdon, 1996.
  • R. Barry Matlock, “Detheologizing the ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ Debate: Cautionary Remarks from a Lexical Semantic Perspective.” Novum Testamentum 42.1 (2000): 1-23.
  • Frank J. Matera, Galatians. Sacra Pagina 9. Collegeville: Liturgical, 1992.
  • Posted in Faith, Greek, Jesus & Christ, Paul, Soteriology | 4 Comments »