Tuesday, February 27, 2007

7 Reasons Cameron's Theory is Sinking

Revised and updated

I keep getting asked to discuss this so-called "discovery". Have they discovered the tomb of Jesus Christ? Does this discovery prove that Jesus never rose from the dead?

Here I want to cover the essential issues involved. Of course, everything can't be said--I just want to point out seven of the main reasons this new "discovery" is going to sink to the sea floor and be forgotten like a proverbial rusting shipwreck .

1. We are not talking here about the supposed body of Jesus. Everyone looks over that--in fact, when I first posted on this I was even under the impression that this documentary was goiong to discuss the "bones" of Jesus. Of course, if they found the bones of a man named "Yeshua" we would first want to look for evidence of a crucifixion--but no one is talking about finding the bones of a crucified man. Of course, it isn't Jesus' tomb anyway as we will explain, I just thought I ought to clarify the matter.

2. There is no way to know whether or not the "Yeshua" in question here is the "Yeshua" who founded Christianity. First off, there are two inscriptions bearing the name Yeshua: (1) one on an ossuary which reads "Yeshua ben Yehoseph" (or "Jesus son of Joseph") and (2) a second one another ossuary which reads "Yehudah ben Yeshua" (or "Judah son of Jesus"). Let me point out that the first inscription--the one on the ossuary which is believed to be the burial box of the man named Yeshua--is extremely hard to read (see the picture above). One scholar, Stephen Pfann (University of the Holy Land) says that we can't even be sure that it even reads "Yeshua son of Joseph" [source]. But let's just assume it reads that way. After all, there is a second ossuary which clearly bears the name Yeshua. Nonetheless, the claims being made are completely absurd given the data.

The Israeli scholar Tal Ilan has published a remarkable book, Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity: Part I: Palestine 330 BCE - 200 CE (Tubingen: Mohr, 2002). In this book, Ilan has collected the names of all those known from ancient works and archeological discoveries, such as burial sites and inscriptions. In his book, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006), Bauckham has refined this work to give us a good idea of name-giving practices in the first century.

For our purposes here we learn something not mentioned in all the hype of this so-called "discovery". Yeshua was the sixth most common name of Jewish males in Jesus' day. In fact, according to Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, 41.5% of all men were given one of the nine most common names. Moreover, in the records found, only 7.9% of people bore a name that is never attested elsewhere. The gist of all of this is that there weren't a lot of different names going around. In particular, there were a lot of people named "Yeshua".

But wait! The "Yeshua" found here is also called "the son of Joseph"--as Jesus was known as the son of a Joseph in the New Testament. Doesn't that make it likely that this is the Jesus of Christianity? No. While Yeshua was the sixth most popular name, Joseph was the second most common name for men. In fact, other burial sites for men named "Jesus son of Joseph" have been found before! This is why when this tomb was first found in 1980--that's 27 years ago!--no one was making such outrageous claims.

But wait--there is also an inscription on one of the ossuaries for a Miriamne (=Mary). Doesn't that make narrow down the odds so we can say that this is the family tomb of Jesus of Nazareth? No. Miriamne was the most popular name for Jewish girls--in fact, 21% of all Jewish females were named Miriamne.

So let's sum up. Statistics indicate that there were quite a number of people in Jesus' day who had the name of Yeshua, who also had a father named Joseph, were associated with more than one person named Miriamne or Mary. The cluster of names here is not extraordinary--in fact, you would expect to find many of these names together.

3. There is no record of Jesus ever being related to a "Matya" (=Matthew?). The inscription "Matya" is believed to be a reference to "Matthew". Now, this is supposedly the tomb of Jesus' family--but there is no record of anyone named "Matthew" ever being associated with Jesus' family. Yes, the first Gospel is attributed to the apostle Matthew--but no one in history has ever said that Matthew was related to Jesus. One could easily make the case that since there is no evidence whatsoever that there was a relative of Jesus named "Matthew", the presence of such a name here actually undermines the claim that this was the family tomb of Jesus. By the way, Matthew was the ninth most common Jewish name for males.

4. The claim about this "Yeshua" being married to a "Miriamne" has numerous problems. Cameron claims that the "Yeshua" in question was married to a Miriamne whose ossuary was also found in the same tomb. Why does he claim that? Is it because there is an inscription, "Yeshua, the husband of Miriamne" or "Miriamne the wife of Yeshua"? No! There is no such inscription found.

So how does he know the two were married? Well, because the DNA found in the Miriamne box does not match the DNA found in the Yeshua burial box. But the logic being used here is patently absurd! Just because you find two people in the same tomb whose DNA does not match one cannot say, "Clearly, these two were married."

Moreover, there are other men buried in this tomb. In fact, at least three of the other names found are men! Why must we assume "Miriamne" was married to "Yeshua"? Couldn't she have been the wife of "Yehuda" (Judah) or "Yehosef" (Joseph)?

Finally, Christopher Heard points out that the DNA test used was Mitochondrial DNA, which can only determine whether two people are related in the maternal blood line. The so-called DNA test isn't really clear on whether or not Miriamne and Yeshua were related through their paternal line.

By the way, although they did tests to see if this Yeshua and Mary were not related (which were the most likely odds anyway), they did not do tests to see if the DNA of "Matia" matched Yeshua. Nor did they do any tests to see if the supposed "Yehudah son of Yeshua" matched the DNA of the supposed burial box of the person they claim is Mary Magdalene. Hmmm... isn't that odd? I guess if you don't have any evidence it frees you up a little to conjecture all you'd like.

And what I haven't told you yet is this: the DNA tests mean nothing because they found more than one skeleton in different ossuaries. In other words, more than one body was placed in some of the ossuaries. That means that all the DNA tests are pointless!

But here's what's more important. Jesus was not married to Mary Magdalene! There is absolutely no historical evidence to indicate he ever was married to anyone. In fact, all the evidence indicates that he was not.

The only ancient text that a person who wanted to make that claim could turn to is the one Dan Brown uses in The Davinci Code, the non-biblical Gospel of Philip. That book calls Mary the "companion" of Jesus (Gospel of Philip 59). Brown insists that the Aramaic word here means "spouse" (Brown, p. 234). That's ridiculous. First of all, the book is not in Aramaic, it is in Coptic! Secondly, it doesn't imply a spousal relationship. It means "companion."

Another passage cited by those who claim Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene is Gospel of Philip 63, 64, which reads like this: “Christ loved [Mary] more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on her mouth.” This is how Brown and others quote this verse--but what they never tell you is that this is a highly questionable reading of the passage. The original document contains holes in key places. It tells us that Jesus “used to kiss her often on...”--and then there is a hole in the text. Whether the next word is “mouth” is not clear—it might simply be “cheek.”

Regardless, it is clear that the book of Philip uses the image of the “kiss” as a metaphor for spiritual communion. To read this passage as evidence of a sexual relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene misunderstands and misrepresents what the passage is saying. It should also be pointed out that many scholars aren't even sure that the Mary mentioned here is Mary Magdalene--it never calls her Mary Magdalene. The Mary here is the sister of Martha--but whether that is Mary Magdalene is not clear.

Now, celibacy may sound weird to 20th century Americans unfamiliar with Christianity or first century Judaism but the fact is, in Jesus' day many religious Jews remained celibate.

Josephus tells us about one particular group in Jesus' day called Essenes who were known for embracing celibacy. According to Josephus, they were apparently one of the largest sects in ancient Judaism [cf. Antiquities, 17.2.4; 18.21]. He writes that they "neither marry wives, nor are desirous to keep servants" (cf. Antiquities, 18.21). Of course, not all Essenes remained celibate--"they do not absolutely deny the wellness of marriage"--but many apparently did (cf. also see Jewish War, 2:119 & 160).

Jewish asceticism therefore included celibacy. So, therefore, although it may be hard for 20th century western Americans to grasp, celibacy was not abnormal in Jesus' day. Moreover, Jesus was clearly an ascetic. He fasted, he prayed, he went out into the wilderness to be alone with God. And, once more, there is not a shred of evidence that he was ever married--either to Mary Magdelene or to any one else. If this tomb indicates that its former occupant once had a wife and a family this is the very thing which puts the "final nail in the coffin"--at least, this one. This is the tomb of some other Yeshua (Jesus).

5. The claim that the so-called "James ossuary" was once part of this tomb is flatly false. Now, keep in mind that this "James ossuary" is highly controversial to begin with and the man behind it is now on trial for fraud. While some believe it still might be authentic, most scholars believe it is not. Moreover, the whole scandal has shed light on the problems surrounding the whole industry of ancient artifacts in the Holy Land.

James Tabor is one of those interviewed by Cameron in support of the claims being made by this documentary. Tabor argues that the James ossuary fits the description of the missing tenth ossuary from this tomb. But the evidence flatly contradicts this. New Testament scholar Mark Goodacre reports on an interview on Xtalk radio with Stephen Goranson and John Poirier, who made two important points. First of all, Goranson explains that it had previously been reported that the ossuary that went missing had "no inscription" on it at all. [Amos Kloner, "A Tomb with Inscribed Ossuaries in East Talpiot," 'Atiqot 29 (1996): 17, Table 3]. Secondly, John Poirier relates that the description of the James ossuary does not match that of the missing one from the tomb:

"Another thing that doesn't add up are the dimensions of the ossuaries inquestion. As I posted on this list on Oct 8, 2006, Tabor's claim that "the dimensions of the missing tenth ossuary [from the Talpiot tomb] are precisely the same, to the centimeter, to those of the James Ossuary" is bogus. BAR lists the dimensions of the James ossuary as 50.5 cm x 25 cm x 30.5 cm, whilethe report on the Talpiot tomb published in Atiqot 29 (1996) 15-22, lists thetenth ossuary as measuring 60 cm x 26 cm x 30 cm. Tabor has been aware of this discrepancy at least since Nov 23, 2006 (when I first heard Tabor's complaint about a piece I wrote for Jerusalem Perspective, in which I cite this along with several other problems with his theory). He could only continue to hold his theory after that date, therefore, if he has reason to suspect that the published report on one of the two ossuaries is in error."
One more thing: the James Ossuary was said to have been found in Silwan, not Tilpiot, the location of the tomb in question here--indeed, dirt matching Silwan was found in the James ossuary. It has never been linked to Tilpiot. Moreover, the fourth-century historian Eusebius tells us that the tomb of James was not a family tomb and was near the temple mount, which is far from Tilpiot (cf. Eccl. Hist. 2.23.18).

6. It makes no sense that they would have made an ossuary for Jesus in the first place--even if one assumes the whole resurrection story was a lie. Let's think about this. Bones were placed in ossuaries after the body had de-composed. In other words, first you would place a body in a tomb. Then afterward you would remove the bones from the tomb and place them in an ossuary.

If James Cameron and his supporters are right and this is the ossuary of Jesus, that would paint an implausible scenario. We know that Jesus' brother James--whose ossuary, Cameron claims was also placed in this family tomb--and other members of Jesus' family joined the Christian movement. Josephus, for example, seems to speak highly of James, "the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ" (Antiquities 20:200-201). This would mean that James, Peter, John and others were involved in the biggest fraud in history. These uneducated Galileans devised the greatest lie in history and fooled the world. And when they were all tortured and threatened with death, they continued with the lie.

This is crazy. Why would Jesus' family (and Matthew!?) seek out Jesus' hidden remains, bring them to Jerusalem, place them in an ossuary and write his name on it!? How could such stupidity manage to keep up the lie. Wouldn't all of that work to preserve Jesus' remains be needlessly risky? That takes almost as much faith as just believing it was all true!

In fact, none of the early witnesses to Christ's resurrection ever recanted--and you can be sure that if one of them did admit it was all a fraud, we would have heard about it. This was the case made for Christianity by one of the greatest minds of western history, Blaise Pascal:
"The apostles were either deceived or deceivers. Either supposition is difficult, for it is not possible to imagine that a man has risen from the dead. While Jesus was with them, he could sustain them; but afterwards, if he did not appear to them, who did make them act? The hypothesis that the Apostles were knaves is quite absurd. Follow it out to the end, and imagine these twelve men meeting after Jesus' death and conspiring to say that he has risen from the dead. This means attacking all the powers that be. The human heart is singularly susceptible to fickleness, to change, to promises, to bribery. One of them had only to deny his story under these inducements, or still more because of possible imprisonment, tortures and death, and they would all have been lost. Follow that out." (Pascal, Pensees, 322, 310).
7. In all the hype, the media is not reporting everything accurately. For example, the actual inscription on the supposed Mary Magdalene ossuary reads: "Miriamenou Mara" ("ΜARIAMENOUMARA")--most likely, "Mary Martha". You might see that the inscription reads, "Mary or Martha" but that is not what it says--the "or" ( ή ) has been added by scholars.

Now when was Mary Magdalene ever referred to as "Mary Martha"?! She wasn't... but that doesn't sell books. In fact, Richard Bauckham has shown that there are numerous difficulties involved with the claim that "Mariamenou Mara" was a name for Mary Magdalene--if you want all the details you can go here for more on that.

I'll end this with the words of Mark Goodacre, who has done a great job covering this.

At the risk of labouring the point, let me attempt to explain my concerns by using the analogy of which the film-makers are so fond, the Beatles analogy. This analogy works by saying that if in 2,000 years a tomb was discovered in Liverpool that featured the names John, Paul and George, we would not immediately conclude that we had found the tomb of the Beatles. But if we also found so distinctive a name as Ringo, then we would be interested. Jacobovici claims that the "Ringo" in this tomb is Mariamene, whom he interprets as Mary Magdalene and as Jesus's wife, which is problematic (see Mariamne and the "Jesus Family Tomb" ...). What we actually have is the equivalent of a tomb with the names John, Paul, George, Martin, Alan and Ziggy. We might well say, "Perhaps the 'Martin' is George Martin, and so this is a match!" or "Perhaps John Lennon had a son called Ziggy we have not previously heard about" but this would be special pleading and we would rightly reject such claims. A cluster of names is only impressive when it is a cluster that is uncontaminated by non-matches and contradictory evidence [source].


Labels: Jesus Family Tomb, James Ossuary, Ossuaries, Burial Box, Mary Magdalene

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Logos Bible Software

I just installed my Logos Bible Software program (Scholars' edition; silver) onto my new laptop and upgraded to version 3.0.

Wow. It is much easier to use! What a great tool!

I can't believe Logos has the entire International Greek Commentary version available! In other words, you could type in a passage and immediately see the commentary from the series. Of course, the price tag for that add-on is a little too rich for me--$600! I'm still partial to old-fashioned paper, but the convenience of having everything so easily linked cannot be denied. I can't help but wonder if they are going to get any other great commentary series.

Any thoughts out there on Bible software with scholarly tools (e.g., tools for Greek, Hebrew, links to patristic works, etc.)?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Dermot Lane on Eschatology

I've been working through Dermot Lane's, Keeping Hope Alive: Stirrings in Christian Theology (New York: Paulist, 1996). While there is much in the book that I find problematic, there are a number important insights that deserve consideration. I thought I'd share a few...
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Eschatology has been usually described as the study of the four last things: death, judgment, heaven and hell which have become known as the eschata. However, this classical account of eschatology is not without its own particular prejudice. For one thing this description seems to confine eschatology simply to these particular items, whereas a fuller account would focus on the advent of the end of time (the Eschaton) in Christ. It is only in the light of our understanding of the appearance of the end of time in the crucified and risen Christ that we can develop a Christian theology of death, judgment, heaven, hell, purgatory and the second coming. The primary emphasis in New Testament eschatology is one the significance of the appearance of the Eschaton in Christ which shapes our understanding of the present and the future. Over the centuries, however, the emphasis has fallen on a treatment of the individual eschata to the neglect of the Eschaton in Christ. Something of a separation has taken place between our understanding of the Eschaton in Christ and its relationship to the individual eschata. Today there is a recovery of the biblical emphasis on the close relationship that exists between the Christ-event and its implications for living and dying in the present and the future.
Furthermore, the classical description of eschatology as the study of death, heaven, hell, purgatory and the second coming could give the impression that eschatology is concerned exclusively with events in the future. Consequently eschatology appears removed from the theology of present-day realities like the Church and the world, the Eucharist and social justice, faith and ecology....

A further point about classical eschatology is its concern almost exclusively with individual destinty, i.e., a preoccupation with 'my destiny', and the salvation of 'my soul'... [pp. 2-3]
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Indeed, the demise of eschatology in this century has been caused by the failure to keep alive the symbolical, sacramental and analogical imagination. The death of metaphor in post-modern consciousness is one of the most serious obstacles to a reconstruction of eschatology. Unless we have some sense of inhabiting a universe that carries symbolic meaning and is ultimately sacramental it will be extremely difficult to retrieve the eschatological interpretation of experience. [p 18]

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"My Servant"

"My servant Abraham": Gen 26:24

Israel as God’s servant: Lev 25:42, 55; Isa 41:8-9; Is 44:1, 2, 21; 45:4; Jer 30:10; 46:27-28; Ezek 28:25; 37:25
"My servant Moses": Num 12:7-8; Josh 1:2, 7; 2 Kgs 21:8; Mal 4:4

"My servant Caleb": Num 14:24

"My servant David": 2 Sam 3:18; 7:5, 8; 1 Kgs 11:13, 32, 34, 36, 38; 14:8; 2 Kgs 19:34; 20:6; 1 Chr 17:4, 7; 89:3, 20; Isa 37:35; Jer 33:21, 22, 26; Ezek 34:23-24; 37:24-25

"My servants the prophets": 2 Kgs 9:7, 17:13; Jer 7:25; 26:5; 29:19; 35:15; 44:4; Ezek 38:17; Zech 1:6

"My servant Job": Job 1:8; 2:3; 19:16; 42:7-8

"My servant Isaiah": Isa 20:3

My servant Eliakim: 22:20

"Nebuchadrez'zar the king of Babylon, my servant"; Jer 25:9; 43:10

"Zerub'babel (a Davidide) my servant": Hag 2:23

"My servant the Branch": Zech 3:8

"My Servant"

"My servant Abraham": Gen 26:24

"Israel as God’s servant": Lev 25:42, 55; Isa 41:8-9; Is 44:1, 2, 21; 45:4; Jer 30:10; 46:27-28; Ezek 28:25; 37:25
"My servant Moses": Num 12:7-8; Josh 1:2, 7; 2 Kgs 21:8; Mal 4:4

"My servant Caleb": Num 14:24

"My servant David": 2 Sam 3:18; 7:5, 8; 1 Kgs 11:13, 32, 34, 36, 38; 14:8; 2 Kgs 19:34; 20:6; 1 Chr 17:4, 7; 89:3, 20; Isa 37:35; Jer 33:21, 22, 26; Ezek 34:23-24; 37:24-25

"My servants the prophets": 2 Kgs 9:7, 17:13; Jer 7:25; 26:5; 29:19; 35:15; 44:4; Ezek 38:17; Zech 1:6

"My servant Job": Job 1:8; 2:3; 19:16; 42:7-8

"My servant Isaiah": Isa 20:3

My servant Eliakim: 22:20

"Nebuchadrez'zar the king of Babylon, my servant"; Jer 25:9; 43:10

"Zerub'babel (a Davidide) my servant": Hag 2:23

"My servant the Branch": Zech 3:8

Sunday, February 18, 2007

BREAKING: Anglicans Plan to Re-Unite with Rome

Growing Together in Unity and Mission, a document prepared by certain high-ranking Anglicans that proposes reconciliation with Rome has been leaked to the press. It seems that the document has already been discussed with Catholic officials.

With the apparent crisis of authority in the Anglican communion, a growing number of people in the Church of England are now reconsidering the value of the papacy. Of course, this is not an isolated episode--many non-Catholics have been re-thinking the traditional Protestant rejection of the papacy. One immediately thinks of the article written after the death of John Paul II by Stephen Long, professor at Garett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (Evanston, IL), "In need of a pope?"

Some surprising paragraphs from Growing Together in Unity and Mission now made public include some strong statements, including, “We urge Anglicans and Roman Catholics to explore together how the ministry of the Bishop of Rome might be offered and received in order to assist our Communions to grow towards full, ecclesial communion.”

The document also encourages Anglicans to begin praying for the Pope.

Here's the whole story.
John 17:20-23: "I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, [21] that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. [22] The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, [23] I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me"

Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom (2.1.2. David, Israel & the Temple)

As mentioned above, David completed the conquest of the Land of Canaan by capturing the city of Jerusalem. In this, David fulfilled the conditions of the Deuteronomic covenant for a central sanctuary: “rest from all your enemies round about (Deut 12:10). This is finally fulfilled by David. In the great passage where God swears his covenant oath to David in 2 Samuel 7, we begin reading, “Now when the king dwelt in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies round about . . .” Recognizing that the conditions for the central sanctuary have been met, David announces to the prophet Nathan his desire to “build” (בָּנָה, “bānāh”) a “house” (בַּיִת, “bayith”) for God (2 Sam. 7:2; cf. 7:5).

God responds to David by rewarding him with a covenant promise[1] in which he promises to establish his “house” (בַּיִת, "bayith”) through giving him a son (בֵּן,“bēn”), who will build the Lord’s “house” (בַּיִת, "bayith”) (2 Sam 7:11b-12, 14). The play on the words “house” (בַּיִת, "bayith”), which here means both “temple” and “royal dynasty,” and the pun on the terms “build” (בָּנָה, “bānāh”) and “son” (בֵּן, “bēn”) is widely recognized.[2] The building of the temple and the Davidic covenant are therefore inextricably linked.

In fact, there is a strong connection between Israel’s cultic worship and the Davidic king. It is important to note, therefore, that the Davidic king is frequently described as functioning as a priest. 2 Samuel 6 describes how David brought the ark into Jerusalem wearing an ephod (v. 14), erecting the tent for the ark (v. 17; cf. 1 Chr 15:1; 16:1), offering sacrifices (v. 17; cf. 1 Chr 16:2), and blessing the people (v. 18). In fact, Ps 132 implies that it was this action on the part of David which led God to swore the covenant to him.[3] The Chronicler especially notes David’s role as the organizer of Israel’s worship—assigning the duties of the Levites (1 Chr 16:4, 37-43; cf. 24-26) and preparing for the future temple building project (1 Chr 22:1).[4] The Davidic status as priest-king is especially clear in his association with Melchizedek, the priest-king of Salem in Psalm 110.[5]
[1] It is beyond the scope of this essay to deal with the various issues raised by covenant scholars. Suffice it to say, it is widely accepted that the language used to describe God’s promise indicates a “grant type” covenant, in which God binds himself in an unconditional way to David. Hahn sums up the features recognized: references to an oath (Ps. 89:3-4; 35, 49; 110:4; 132:11), the promise of blessing on the recipient and cursing his enemies (e.g., Ps. 89:20-23), God’s assumption of the covenant responsibilities (2 Sam. 7:9, 11-12; Ps. 89:24-29, 33-37), and the description of the covenant as a reward for David’s faithfulness (Ps. 89:4; cf. 7:12-16; 110:4). See Scott Hahn, Kinship By Covenant: A Biblical Theological Study of Covenant Types and Texts in the Old and New Testaments (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms, 1995), 306-09.
[2] A. A. Anderson, 2 Samuel (vol. 11 in Word Biblical Commentary; Dallas: Word Books, 1989), 115; Patrick D. Miller, “Psalm 127: the house that Yahweh builds,” in JSOT 22 (1982): 119-32, cf. 123; Scott Hahn, Kinship By Covenant, 319-22.
[3] Antti Laato, “Psalm 132 and the Development of the Jersalemite/Israelite Royal Ideology,” in CBQ 54 (1992): 49-66; Hahn, Kinship by Covenant, 335.
[4] Johannes Tromp, “The Davidic Messiah in Jewish Eschatology of the First Century BCE” in Restoration: Old Testament, Jewish and Christian Perspectives (vol., 72 in Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism; ed., James M. Scott; Leiden: Brill, 2001), 199-200. Also see Peter Leithart, From Silence to Song: The Davidic Liturgical Revolution (Moscow, Idaho: Canon Press, 2003), 25-6: "Consistent with [the Chronicler's] overall liturgical interest, Chronicles presents David as a new Moses, who, with the great prophet, co-founded the worship of Israel. The simple fact that Chronicles devotes so much space to David's preparations for the temple is enough to bring out parallels with Moses, since much of the revelation given to Moses concerned the tabernacle, its furnishings, and its worship (Exod. 25-31, 35; Leviticus; Num. 3-9). Like Moses, David assigned duties to the priests and Levites. Like Moses, David received a "pattern" for the house of Yahweh (Exod 25:9, 40; 26:30; 1 Chr. 28:19). Like Moses David ensured that the plundered riches of Yahweh's enemies were devoted to the service of His house. The Chronicler also appeals to the commands and ordinances of David as authoritative instruction for Israel's worship..."
[5] A very widely held Jewish tradition held that the city of Melchizedek was actually Jerusalem (1Q20 22:12-13; Joseephus, Ant. 180 and Jewish Wars, 6:438). The Davidic king is thus closely connected with him, as priest-king over (Jeru)salem. Hahn, Kinship by Covenant, 347-48.

See the next post in this series...
Complete outline (with links) of "Jesus and the Restoration of the Kingdom" series

Friday, February 16, 2007

Jesus is Tested in the Wilderness

With Lent fast approaching, I thought it appropriate to look at the temptation narrative.

Actually, I'll just turn it over to the master, Scott Hahn, and Curtis Mitch. The following is from the notes on Matthew 4:1-11 in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: Matthew (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000). If you don't have this, you need to get it.
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Matthew's temptation narrative recounts Jesus' spiritual preparation for ministry. ● The event contrasts the disobedience of ancient Israel with the obedience of Jesus, representative of the new Israel: (1) Israel and Jesus are both called God's son (3:17; Ex 4:22); (2) the temptations of both Israel and Jesus are preceded by a baptism (3:13-17; 1 Cor 10:1-5); Israel was tested for 40 years, Jesus is tempted for forty days and forty nights (4:2); Israel failed its wilderness testing, while Jesus triumphs over Satan through obedience and self-abasement (4:11). These parallels are supported by Jesus' three responses (4:4, 7, 10) to the devil taken from Deut 6-8. These texts (Deut 8:3; 6:16; 6:13) warned the Israelites against disobedience and reminded them of God's provisions in the wilderness (CCC 538-39). ● Morally (St. John Chrysostom, Hom. in Matt. 8), Jesus' victory sets an example for Christian obedience. Earthly life is a wilderness trial for God's people en route to the land of heaven. Through this probationary period, God wills the faithful to overcome temptations from the world, the flesh and the devil. Triumph is possible through penance and obedience to God's word. Rather than earthly bread and power, the faithful must desire the food of God's will and the humility of Christ (11:29; Jn 4:34). The battle successfully won merits heavenly comfort in the company of angels (4:11). The Church annually remins us of this life-long vocation during the 40 days of Lent (CCC 540, 2849).

Bruce Metzger 1914-2007

New Testament scholar Bruce Metzger died on Tuesday. Metzger was on the editorial board responsible for The Greek New Testament and the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece--the "canonical" New Testament of contemporary scholarship. He also headed up the International Greek New Testament Project.

Michael Holmes from Bethel University, a former student of Metzger provides a personal look at this towering figure in New Testament scholarship:

Yet for all his academic achievements and international renown, Bruce is warmly remembered by many as much or more for his personality and character. Friendly, modest, and self-effacing, seemingly always courteous and gracious, he took a genuine interest in his students, was a source of encouragement to colleagues and younger scholars alike, and deeply enjoyed his many speaking engagements in churches throughout the world. He had a knack of always finding something nice to say about a person or a book, an engaging sense of humor, and an apparently endless supply of amusing anecdotes. Though he tended to avoid talking about himself, he had some remarkable stories to tell (many were finally told in his Reminiscences of an Octogenarian [1997]), some of which were quite endearing: he once admitted, a bit sheepishly, to having studied Syriac vocabulary instead of listening to the lecture in a Christian Education class while a seminary student. Reflective of his character was his distinctive way of formulating advice: once when I was having second thoughts about a project I had agreed to undertake for a publisher, I consulted Bruce, who after listening attentively to the details of the matter, thought for a moment and replied, "Sometimes it's good not to be too humble" — thereby both encouraging me to "go for it" while simultaneously reminding me to keep the matter in a larger perspective. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him, whether as colleague, teacher, mentor, or friend.
Here's the his whole post. In fact, there have been a number of great posts on this. Check out Stephen Carlson's post for a great round-up.

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him that he may rest in peace. Amen.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Where "Eschatology" Comes From

I made an earth shaking discovery yesterday--at least, it rocked my world.

Let me begin with this (and this isn't the discovery!): Has anybody ever noticed that the Catechism of the Catholic Church never uses the term "the last things" or "eschatology" (though "eschatological" is used a number of times)?

Theologians recognize many different disciplines within theology: Christology (the study of the person and work of Christ), Pneumatology (the study of the person and work of the Holy Spirit), Ecclesiology (the study of the Church), sacramental theology (I think you can figure that one out!), etc. "Eschatology" (from the Greek, eschatos = "last") is the term typically used to discuss the "last things", typically described as the "four last things": (1) death, (2) judgment, (3) heaven, and (4) hell.

Brant has a wonderful series called Life After Death: The Seven Last Things (click the link and you'll find an outline and an audio excerpt where Brant looks at Mark 9:42ff.). He points out that a close inspection of the Catechism reveals three other elements in Catholic doctrine often neglected by Catholics: (5) purgatory, (6) the resurrection of the dead, (7) the new creation (as in the Apostles' Creed: "the life of the world to come"). Thus Brant speaks of the seven last things.

I think Brant has made an important contribution here. In fact, this is a great series.

But the matter is yet still more complicated. For most people eschatology is about something in the future. However, for years now, scholars have recognized that the New Testament often speaks of ways in which eschatology is "realized" in the present. Jesus proclaims, "The Kingdom of God is at hand" (e.g., Matt 4:17). He also stated, "Then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory... Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place" (Matt 24:30, 34).

So much could be said here--I would love to discuss the so-called "delay" of the Lord, but I just can't. Suffice it to say, it has been a challenge to figure out how passages such as those mentioned above fit into Christian "eschatology". In fact, today many speak of "Jewish eschatology" or "Old Testament eschatology" because it is widely believed that Jewish hopes consisted of something different than that found in Christian eschatology. Again, much more could be said about that, but I've got to move on.

Here's what I what I discovered. After searching through Church fathers and doctors, such as Thomas Aquinas, I was stunned to find that they never use the term "eschatology". Upon further investigation I learned that "eschatology" is apparently a modern term. Arland J. Hultgren writes,

The word ["eschatology"] was apparently coined in the seventeenth century, when the Lutheran dogmatician Abraham Calovius (1612-86) of Wittenberg used the term "Eschatologia Sacra" as a general heading at the end of his twelve-volume dogmatics published in 1677. Under that heading he dealt with topics of death, resurrection, judgment and consumamation. But the term did not catch on and gain widespread use in German theology until well into the nineteenth century. eVEN Friedrich Schliermacher (1768-1834), in his work on The Christian Fath published in the early 1820s, remarked on it as a strange term. The word does not appear in English usage until the middle of the nineteenth century." ["Eschatology in the New Testament: The Current Debate", in The Last Things: Biblical & Theological Perspectives on Eschatology (C. E. Braaten and R. W. Jeson, eds.; Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2002), 68.]
Could it be that contemporary discussion of "eschatology" has been more influenced by the categories attached to the term by a 17th century Lutheran minister than Scripture?

Pictured: Abraham Calovius

Monday, February 12, 2007

We've Been Nominated--Now Please Vote For Us!!!

Thanks to all of you who nominated Singing In The Reign for the Catholic blog awards.

Now that we've been nominated, please cast your ballot for us.

VOTING IS NOW UNDERWAY--THIS WEEK ONLY!!!

Please help us out here and vote for Singing In The Reign.

If you already nominated us you just need to re-enter your sign in name and the password they gave you. If you haven't signed up on their site, it seriously takes less than 2 minutes.

Brant and I really hope that added traffic to this site will bring exposure to the many exciting things of which we are a part--so many lay Catholics have stuck their neck out to build up great things for the Church and provide important resources and we want to support them:





--Catholic Productions (also check out Brant's website)


So please, go cast your vote!!!

Thanks so very much for your help!!!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom (2.1.1. David & Abraham)

2. The Davidic Covenant
Walter Brueggemann has noted that God’s sworn covenant oath to David represents “a genuine novum in Israel’s faith.”[1] In the Davidic covenant God is doing something distinctly new with Israel. This part of the essay will examine the crucial role the Davidic covenant played in God’s plan for Israel as both fulfillment of God’s previous’ promises and as an authentic new stage of development, which came to serve as the future eschatological ideal.
2.1. The Davidic Covenant as Fulfillment of God’s Covenant Promises
After God declares his oath to David in 2 Samuel 7, David exclaims, “thou hast shown me a law for humanity” (2 Sam 7:19). The international character of the “law” associated with the Davidic covenant established at Mt. Zion clearly distinguishes it from the nationalistic pre-occupation of the Torah and the covenant made with Israel through Moses at Sinai.[2] Under Moses, Israel was to be separated from the nations—isolation was especially encouraged by the purity laws. However, the Davidic Empire under the reigns of David and Solomon included the surrounding nations (2 Sam 8:11-12; 10:19; 12:30; 1 Kgs 4:20-21; 10:15). Moreover, the foreign Queen of Sheba came to hear Solomon’s wisdom and praised the God of Israel (1 Kgs 10:1-13).

In fact, interpreters have long recognized the similarity between God’s covenant with David, which established an international kingdom, and God’s promise with Abraham, which foretold universal blessing.[3] Both covenants promises refer to the recipients’ “name” (2 Sam. 7:9; Gen. 12:2) and establish a plan for the future involving their “seed” (2 Sam. 7:12; Gen. 15:3).[4] Walter Kaiser concludes, “The ‘blessing’ of Abraham is continued in this ‘blessing’ of David...” [5] The connection between the covenants is further alluded to by the Chronicler, who indicates that David chose Moriah as the temple site—the place where Abraham had received the covenant blessing after showing his willingness to offer Isaac (2 Chr 3:1; Gen 22:2). Furthermore, as we shall see, it is David who completes the conquest of the land promised originally to Abraham.[6] Finally, the statement in 1 Kings 4:20 that under Solomon “Judah and Israel were as many as the sand by the sea” may be related to God’s promise to Abraham in Gen 22:17: “I will indeed bless you and I will multiply your descendants as the sand which is on the seashore.”
[1] Walter Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997), 605.
[2] R. P. Gordon, 1-2 Samuel (Sheffield: JSOT, 1984), 77; Paul Stuhlmacher, Reconciliation, Law, & Righteousness: Essays on Biblical Thoelogy (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986), 115. Hartmut Gese, Essays on Biblical Theology (trans., Keith Crim; Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1981), 26, 60-92.
[3] Paul R. Williamson, Abraham, Israel and the Nations: The Patriarchal Promise and its Covenantal Development in Genesis (JSOT 315; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000), 264-65: “A strong case could be made for interpreting the Davidic covenant as a divine guarantee that the promise of ‘international blessing’ which God made to Abraham will ultimately be fulfilled through a royal descendant of David.” Walter Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament (Studies in Old Testament Biblical Theology; Grand Rapids: 1995), 78-81; W. J. Beecher, The Prophets and the Promise (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977), 238.
[4] M. Wilcox, “The Promise of the ‘Seed’ in the New Testament and the Targumim” in JSNT 5 (1979): 6; Gordon, 1-2 Samuel, 76-77.
[5] Walter Kaiser, “The Blessing of David: A Charter for Humanity,” in The Law and the Prophets (ed., John Skilton; Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1974), 310.
[6] Williamson, Abraham, Israel and the Nations, 265.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom (series links)

Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom

Introduction
Jesus scholars have generally accepted the notion that the teaching of the historical Jesus should be placed within the larger context of Jewish hopes for the “restoration of Israel.” In particular, it is widely recognized that Jesus’ teaching regarding the Kingdom of God was related to the eschatological expectations of the people of his day. This series will argue that authors like N. T. Wright and E. P. Sanders, who often emphasize the link between “restoration” and “kingdom” terminology have neglected the central role the Davidic covenant had in Jesus’ understanding of these concepts. As we shall see, the “kingdom” Jesus sought to “restore” is best understood not simply as God’s generic reign over creation or as an existential religious experience. Rather, set within the context of Second Temple hopes, Jesus was announcing that God would re-establish his reign in a specific way - through the restoration of the Davidic Kingdom.


Outline

1.1 . Third Quest Scholarship & the "Kingdom of God" (Survey)

Third Quest Scholarship & the "Kingdom of God" (Geza Vermes)

Third Quest Scholarship & the "Kingdom of God" (Ben Meyer)

Third Quest Scholarship & the "Kingdom of God" (Harvey)

Third Quest Scholarship & the "Kingdom of God" (Sanders)

Third Quest Scholarship & the "Kingdom of God" (Chilton)

Third Quest Scholarship & the "Kingdom of God" (N. T. Wright)

Third Quest Scholarship & the "Kingdom of God" (Meier)

Third Quest Scholarship & the "Kingdom of God" (Conclusion to Survey)

1.2. David & First Century Restoration Expectations

David & First Century Restoration Expectations: The Prophetic Hope

David & First Century Restoration Expectations: Qumran

David & First Century Restoration Expectations: Psalms of Solomon

David & First Century Expectations: Re-Examining the Davidide in the DSS

David & First Century Expectations: Son of Man & Melchizedekian Hopes

David & First Century Expectations: Conclusion

2. The Davidic Covenant

2.1. The Davidic Covenant as Fulfillment of God's Covenant Promises

David & Abraham

David, Israel & the Temple

David & Israel's Vocation

David & Adam

2.2. The Rise of Expectations: Restoring the Davidic Ideal

A Davidic King

The Pan-Israelite Restoration (The Ingathering of the Twelve Tribes)

Inclusion of the Gentiles

A Restored Zion (Jerusalem) and a New Temple

3.1. Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom

Jesus' Triumphal Entry and Temple Action

Jesus and the Twelve

Jesus, Exorcism and Healing

The Davidic Suffering Servant

Conclusion to Part 3.1

3.2. The Restoration of the Kingdom in Luke-Acts

The Restoration of the Kingdom in Luke-Acts

Jesus' Baptism as Royal Anointing

Jesus' Galilean Ministry

Resurrection and Ascension as Royal Enthronement






Thursday, February 08, 2007

Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom (1.2. Part 5: Conclusion)

In conclusion, it is apparent that Davidic hopes played a key role in the second temple period. Collins writes,

There was a dominant notion of a Davidic messiah, as the king who would restore the kingdom of Israel, which was part of the common Judaism around the turn of the era. There were also, however, minor messianic strands, which envisaged a priestly messiah, or an anointed prophet or a heavenly Son of Man.[1]
In fact, the New Testament itself should be taken as evidence of first-century Davidic aspirations in Jewish circles. As we shall see, the Davidic restoration may be found at the heart of Jesus’ agenda. First, however, we must look at the Davidic covenant a little more closely. That will be the subject we will tackle next.
What follows will inevitably lead us to the question Brant poses below, namely the role of David as New Adam. We're just warming up.
[1] Collins, The Scepter, 209.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Son of Man and the Wonders of the Lectionary

First of all, I would like to thank Michael for so humbly allowing me to jump into the blogosphere with him and ride on the coattails of his fantastic site! He's been on me for months now to start my own blog, but the fact of the matter is that I am digitally challenged, and with a wife and three little ones (another on the way in June!), I've got no time to become un-challenged and do my own thing. So in a truly Catholic spirit of fraternity, he's allowed me to do some occasional posts with him here. Thanks, Michael, you are truly and dear friend. (Oh, and by the way, congratulations on your engagement to Kimberly. She's a wonderful young woman. Enjoy reading while you still can!)

Anyway, something happened to me yesterday that I wanted to share with anyone interested. It concerns the wonders of the Church's lectionary, which never ceases to amaze me.

Actually, before I tell you about yesterday, let me back up a little further. A few weeks ago, I was in California with Michael doing a conference on Jesus and the End Times: A Catholic View of the Last Days (are we ever going to post summaries of the talk, Michael. I seem to remember someone asking us to?). Anyway, the highlight of the weekend was the four hours or so that Michael and I spent discussing Scripture and theology before the conference even got started. In particular, we spent several hours in an Island's restaurant discussing the book of Daniel and Jesus' eschatology. I had spent the week before reading Daniel over again during morning prayer, and it was heavy on the brain. One of the topics of interest was of course, the infamous "Son of Man" in Daniel 7. Who was this figure? What was the meaning of the terminology? How did Jesus understand it?

In the course of our discussion, Michael showed me something I had not seen before. As is well known, in the Old Testament and ancient Judaism, the terminology of "son of man" can have at least two references. First, it can be simply a generic reference to a "human being" or "mere mortal," as in texts like Num 23:19; Ps 8:4; Sir 17:30, etc. Second, it can be used in a more specific way to refer to the heavenly messianic figure of Daniel's famous vision of the four beasts (Dan 7:14; cf. 1 Enoch and 4 Ezra 13 for Jewish interps). What I had not ever noticed before sitting with Michael was that one of these texts, Psalm 8, is not merely a "generic" reference to "man," but when taken in context, actually has Adamic connection: "When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, what is man that thou art mindful of him, the son of man that that thou dost care for him? Yet thou hast made him little less than God, and dost crown him with glory and honor."

Most people stop here, intrigued by the "little less than God." But it is important to continue reading: "Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands, thou hast put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of teh air, and the fish of the sea..." (Psalm 8:3-8).

Now where does all the imagery in the Psalm come from? Who else was given "dominion" over "the fish of the sea" and "the birds of the air"? Why, Adam, of course! (see Gen 1:28). In light of these parallels, we asked ourselves (while downing two amazing Hawaiian burgers): Is the "Son of Man" in Daniel (and also in the Gospels) also an Adamic figure, and what are the implications of this for Jesus' concept of the Messiah? In particular, Michael was interested in the connections between Adam and David, given the fact that this imagery occurred in a Davidic psalm (Psalm 8). Is David somehow a New Adam?

If this connection is correct, then the implications for understanding Jesus and the Gospels are extremely intriguing. For example, Jesus' declaration: "Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head" (Matt 8:20) is not just some trite proverb about the fact that some people go homeless or that Jesus himself had no permanent home. It is instead a deeply ironic declaration of the humility of the Adamic Messiah. While the birds and beasts of this world have homes, the "Son of Man," the Adamic king of creation, has no place to lay his head. The king has emptied himself such that he is humbled beneath his lowest subjects.

On the other end of the spectrum, take Jesus' declaration that "The Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done" (Matt 16:27). In light of Psalm 8, this is not just some generic apocalyptic prophecy. Instead, Jesus is contrasting the Adamic and Davidic "son of man," who was "a little lower than the angels" (Psa 8:5; cf. Heb 2:7 and LXX), with the messianic Son of Man, who will be head of the angelic army. He is their superior; they are "his angels." And not to mention the fact that Adam is identified with Luke as the "son of God" (Luke 3:38), which I seem to recall being applied to the Davidic king, the "anointed one" on a couple of occasions (2 Sam 7; Psalm 2).

Anyway, I could go on forever about all this, and I'm quite certain Michael has more to say. It's no news to some that scholars have suggested an Adamic dimension to the Son of Man in Daniel 7 (e.g., N. T. Wright and Crispin Fletcher-Louis, if I'm not mistaken). But what I had never seen was someone suggest that the so-called "generic" reference in Psalm 8 is actually Adamic (and Davidic). That is very intriguing...

The reason I thought all of this post-worthy is that yesterday I was teaching my undergraduate Christology class about the meanings of the "Son of Man" in light of the Old Testament. Just after I finished working through Psalm 8 and Daniel 7 with them and explaining all these things, I packed up my books and walked down the hall to the chapel for daily Mass. And guess what the Old Testament readings were for yesterday?

Yep, that's right: the creation of man and woman and their being given "dominion" over the birds and beasts (Gen 1:20-2:4) and David's question about "the son of man" (Psa 8:4-9)! (Daily Roman Missal, Tues, 5th Week in Ordinary Time). There, in the lectionary readings, was the connection that had come to me a few weeks before like a flash of blinding light! I sat there wondering if my students sitting in front of me had remembered what I just been teaching them... Anyway, it just goes to show that while scholars may forget, the Church always remembers. Who knows what other treasures are buried in the typology of the Lectionary? I'll keep you posted... (No pun intended, really).

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

12 Women in Exodus 1-2 (?)

Some have noted that in Exodus 1-2 we read about 12 women: two righteous midwives (Shiph'rah and Pu'ah) (Exod 1:15-21), Moses’ mother (Exod 2:1ff.), Moses' sister (Exod 2:4ff.), Pharaoh’s daughter (Exod 2:5ff.), and Jethro’s seven daughters (Exod 2:16).

“The twelve tribes owe their deliverance to twelve daughters”―J. C. Exum

I like this... my only problem with it is that we are told of Pharaoh's daughter's "maidens" (2:5), one of whom retrieves the basket (tevah) which contains the child Moses. How do they fit in? Why include all seven of Jethro's daughters and not the maidens of Pharaoh's daughter?

If it was a neater fit I might be more persuaded.

What think ye?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Catholic Blog Awards--Voting Underway

VOTING IS NOW OPEN....

Please vote for Singing In The Reign on the 2007 Catholic blog awards.

Voting is THIS WEEK ONLY!!!

Of course, this year Singing In The Reign is eligible for "Best New Blog".

You have to register to vote--it takes all of 30 seconds (you choose a user name and they immediately send a password to your email).

Thanks again for your vote--and please pass this on to anyone you can think of, especially those that read Singing In The Reign.

Ratzinger on Epistemology

The following is excerpted from Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Behold the Pierced One: An Approach to a Spiritual Christology (G. Harrison, trans.; San Francisco: Ignatius, 1986), 25-26.
"By nature, knowledge depends on a certain similarity between the knower and the known. The old axiom is that like is known by like. In the matters of the mind and where persons are concerned, this means that knowledge calls for a certain degree of empathy, by which we enter, so to speak, into the person or intellectual reality concerned, become one with him or it, and thus become able to understand (intellegere = ab intus legere).

We can illustrate this with a couple of examples. Philosophy can only be acquired if we philosophize, if we carry through the process of philosophical thought; mathematics can only be appropriated if we think mathematically; medicine can only be learned in the practice of healing, never merely by means of books and reflection. Similarly, religion can only be understood through religion--an undisputed axiom in more recent philosophy of religion. The fundamnetal act of religion is prayer, which in the Christian religion acquires a very specific character: it is the act of self-surrender by which we enter into the Body of Christ. Thus it is an act of love.

[As was demonstrated in the previous section of this book...] prayer was the central act of the person of Jesus and, indeed, that this person is constituted by the act of prayer, of unbroken communication with the one he calls 'Father'. If this is the case, it is only possible really to understand this person by entering into this act of prayer, by participating in it. This is suggested by Jesus' saying that no one can come to him unless the Father draws him (Jn 6:44). Where there is no Father, there is no Son. Where there is no relationship with God, there can be no understanding of him who, in his innermost self, is nothing but relationship with God, the Father--although one can doubtless establish plenty of details about him. Therefore a participation in the mind of Jesus, i.e., in his prayer, which (as we have seen) is an act of love, of self-giving and self-expropriation to men, is not some kind of pious supplement to reading the Gospels, adding nothing to knowledge of him or even being an obstacle to the rigorous purity of critical knowing. On the contrary, it is the basic precondition if real understanding, in the sense of modern hermeneutics--i.e., the entering-in to the same time and the same meaning--is to take place.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Brant Pitre Joins as Blog Contributor

I am pleased to anounce that my good friend, Brant Pitre, will be joining this blog as an occassional contributor. Brant is an amazing New Testament scholar who received his Ph.D. from Notre Dame in New Testament studies and Ancient Judaism. His dissertation, Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of the Exile: Restoration Eschatology and the Origin of the Atonement has been published by Baker Academic.

For more info about Brant see this post. The endorsements he received for his new book are posted there--you'll find that they are quite impressive. You can also go to his website--I can't recommend his audio sets highly enough. In fact, just about everytime I've seen Brant give a lecture he's received a standing "o".

He, like me, has worked very closely with Scott Hahn and the Saint Paul Center. I will really enjoy having another Saint Paul Center associate posting here. I know the complimentarity of thought will come through in an exciting way.
I might mention that Brant came on my radio show as guest today and we had a blast. We started off talking about Pope Benedict's new book on the historical Jesus. After that we took a number of calls on a variety of topics (agape/phileo; "Satan" in the Hebrew Bible; the Thousand Year Reign; Jewish eschatology; etc.). Before I get a ton of emails asking--yes, you can order a copy of the show. Call 1-877-526-2151.

I have a feeling Brant will have some interesting things to say about the Pope's book and Jesus studies in the future.

Welcome aboard, Dr. Pitre!

Doubting Thomas

There are many people who have made the case that the Gospel of Thomas is more ancient than the canonical Gospels. Others have simply accepted the idea that the Gospel is independent from the canonical Gospels--that it preserves teaching of Jesus not found in the canonical Gospels. I have discussed some of these issues in my post on the Gospel of Judas.

Mark Goodacre has posted a draft of a paper he is working on concerning this topic. He shows that Thomas is dependent on distinctly Lukan terminology. Read it here. Today he responds to April DeConick who has critiqued it in a blog post of her own.

She Said Yes...

I'm very happy to announce that Kim and I are engaged.

For those of you who do not know...

Kim is amazing, wonderful, beautiful and intelligent. Our story started at Fuller Theological Seminary. I am in the Ph.D. program, Kim was working on her graduate degree in Theology (which she completed last summer). Of course, Fuller was the last place I expected to meet a devout, well-versed Catholic.

I should say, however, that not all shared that attitude. Upon hearing that I had decided on Fuller, Kimberly Hahn told me: "I am going to pray that you meet a nice Catholic girl there who you'll end up spending the rest of your life with." I laughed at her. It seems God laughed at me.

I had to knock out a Hebrew language requirement. I had already done some independent study in Hebrew and I considered testing out of Hebrew, but I felt like I would really benefit from taking a class. There were two sessions, one in the morning and one in the evening. I wanted to take the morning one, but it was full. However, I heard that I was first on the waiting list and so it sounded in reach. So while I registered for the evening class just in case, I went to the morning section thinking I would end up there in the end.

In the evening I went to the other session--which I was sure I would drop. I hate taking evening classes. When I walked in the room I saw Travis Lawmaster sitting in the back row. Travis had been a student at Steubenville. In fact, like myself, Travis had lived with the Hahns. He was moving out when I was moving in. We laughed so hard. What were the odds of two Catholics from Franciscan ending up in the same class.

The professor had us all go around and say a few things about ourselves. As part of my little bio, I said, "I studied in Ohio." Travis also added when it was his turns, "I studied in Ohio." We just kind of laughed it off. But then, the cute girl sitting in front of me said, "I studied in Ohio." Travis and I looked at each other and said, "Nah... it can't be."

At the break, she turned around and said, "Michael Barber? Are you the Michael Barber that lived with the Hahns?" Apparently, this girl knew Gabe Hahn. To make a long story short, Gabe, upon hearing that Kim was going to Fuller, had told her that a friend of his dad's was heading to Fuller as well. Kim assumed that this friend must be around Scott's age--she was surprised I was her age.

Well, I think I asked her out on the second day of class--needless to say, I stuck with the evening class. We were on our way.

These days, Kim is the Director of Catechetical Ministries (or, the Director of Religious Education) at the largest Catholic parish in San Diego. The youth program alone has over 1500 kids.

She does all things well. She's an amazing teacher. She loves Jesus Christ, she loves Sacred Scripture and she loves the Church.

Like me, she can shift gears from talking about the biblical theological to Napolean Dynamite on a dime. She knows more about computers than most people you will ever meet. She has mad creative skills. She always treats people with kindness and charity. She doesn't know the meaning of the word "impossible".

She's really tired of the question, "How many times did Paul go up to Jerusalem?" She has a passion for learning--she reads hefty theological books(right now, one by Vanhoozer) for fun. She also loves Jane Austen and Willy Wonka.

When it is unusually cold and she didn't bring a jacket, she looks cute in mine. When she laughs her eyes twinkle and her smile makes doing anything worth it.

I love you, Kim.

Thanks to all of you who have extended kind words. Thanks to Scott and for his comment on the post below. Thanks also to Dimbulb.

Please keep us all in your prayers. In particular, pray that as we plan all of the logistics our focus remains on asking God to properly dispose us to the graces of the sacrament.