Posts for Apr, 2008.

4/30/2008 5:08:00 PM

Thoughts on Sam Yeiters Previous Post

The end of the world as we know it.

Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2008 by eric.mattison
Categories: Popular Culture   Comments: 1
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There appears to be some malfunction in the reply to post function, so here are my thoughts on Sam's previous posting. 

UPDATE: Now that the commenting has been fixed, Eric's comment has been moved to Sam's previous posting “The Magi and the Gnats Part 1.”

 - Brian

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4/30/2008 2:04:00 PM

The Magi and the Gnats - Part 1

Exodus 8:16-18 - Introduction and Locating the Text

Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2008 by Sam Yeiter
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: 1
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            In current Evangelical circles, there are few, if any, who would deny that there is at present a cosmic battle between God and Satan, and thus a battle between those who would follow God and those who would follow Satan.  Paul affirms this in his letter to the Ephesians, but the majority of the time we are not able to see this battle as it progresses.  Individual Christians may disagree over what constitutes spiritual warfare, and yet would affirm that we see it taking place in scripture.  Some notable examples would include Paul’s persecutions (1 Thessalonians 2:17-18 cf Acts 17:1-9), Elijah’s battle with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18), Eve’s seduction by the Serpent (Genesis 3:1-6), and the life and ministry of our Lord (Revelation 12:1-6).  These, and many more, receive attention in Scripture, but none, with the exception of the crucifixion, resurrection and return of Christ, measure up to the account of the plagues in their length, scope and grandeur.

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4/28/2008 7:52:00 PM

Video of Passover Sacrifice

Posted Monday, April 28, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
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Ever since the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 AD, the Jews have not offered sacrifices. The Samaritans have continued to offer a sacrifice on Passover, but mainline Judaism has rejected any sacrifice. But recently a group of Jews in Jerusalem decided to offer a sacrifice in the Old City in Jerusalem. Some friends of Todd Bolen happened to be there (after following a knife through the Old City) and he writes about the story behind the video. The video itself is a few minutes long and contains the preparation for the sacrifice and the sacrifice itself. Be warned: it is quite bloody and graphic, so if you are at all squeamish, then do not watch it. But before you get upset that someone would do this to an animal, remember that God commanded sacrifices, the same God we serve today. The sacrifice reminds us of the cost that must be paid for our sins.
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4/26/2008 2:23:00 PM

Life in Biblical Israel

Posted Saturday, April 26, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old TestamentArchaeology   Comments: None
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King, Philip J., and Lawrence E. Stager. Life in Biblical Israel. Library of Ancient Israel. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001.

This book is simply an amazingly broad and comprehensive study of life in ancient Israel. While the book is written in prose like a traditional book, the deep structure is that of an encyclopedia. If one wants to learn about any aspect of life in ancient Israel (and most likely see some gorgeous pictures in relation to it), then one can simply turn to the table of contents and immediately find it. This book is very useful to have one’s shelf within easy reach at any given moment.

King and Stager wrote this book to illustrate what life was like for both the average Israelite as well as the elite. This area of interest was neither of much interest previously nor able to be studied until the rise of archaeology, since so much of the Bible has to do with the elites. So King and Stager write using archaeology, other ancient Near East cultures, and the Bible to show the reader what life would have been like in ancient Israel.

The first main chapter (chapter 2) is about the Israelite house and household, covering domestic architecture, family relationships, food, and illness. The third chapter covers farming, animals, water sources, arts, and travel. The fourth chapter looks at royal architecture, urban water sources, and warfare. The fifth chapter examines clothing and adornments, music, dance, and literacy. The last chapter is about sacred sites, ritual objects, religious practices, death, and the afterlife.

The pictures are another strength of the book. This is one of the most beautiful books on the Old Testament I have ever read. It seems that every other page had a color photo illustrating some point the authors were talking about. Some of these were essential to understanding the description, such as the photo of how keys worked in the ancient world (33). The chart of pottery types and Hebrew words was helpful in visualizing what they would have looked like, very useful as one reads about seemingly dozens of different types of jugs and jars in the Old Testament (144-145).

There are many interesting tidbits in the book along the journey that may or may not be true. They theorize that anointing kings with oil came from a remedy for head lice (75) (a correlation vs. causation problem?). They identify the “price of a dog” in Deuteronomy 23:19 as related to a healing cult centered around dogs rather than relating to prostitution (83). Ekron produced a thousands tons of oil every year (96). Grape production requires a stable society, since it is a multi-year process (98). The apparel of women did not differ much from that of men, although they do recognize there must be some difference because of the laws against dressing like the other gender (272).

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4/23/2008 7:17:00 PM

Another Brawl at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Posted Wednesday, April 23, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
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The Church of the Holy Sepulchure is the traditional place of the death and burial of Jesus, which one would think would inspire inhabitants toward love and peace. Instead, this shrine is populated by seven different Christian groups who despise each other. Fights break out between them on a somewhat regular basis. The latest happened on Palm Sunday when a Greek Orthodox monk interfered with an Armenian procession. But the irony is that the worshippers carrying palm branches in their hands used them as weapons and started beating the monk with them and then used them on the Israeli police when they tried to break it up. Very sad. And this is the idea of Christianity for Israelis.
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4/21/2008 9:22:00 AM

Reader's Hebrew Bible

Posted Monday, April 21, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old TestamentHebrew   Comments: None
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I noticed recently that Zondervan has published a Reader's Hebrew Bible . This looks to be an excellent tool for all of us who were not born in Israel several thousand years ago. The format of the book is the Hebrew text (basically the same as BHS) at the top and running helps on the bottom. The helps include both glosses on rare words (all words that appear less than 100 times, I believe), and some morphological help for complicated words. This allows one to read through the text without flipping the lexicon and paradigms trying to deciper a word. This book does not replace BHS, since there is no text critical information included. But this would be a great book to get after one finishes Hebrew classes and needs to just keep reading to retain the language. This cuts down the painfulness of reading and makes it a pleasure (or at least a lot closer!). It would be a great gift for someone graduating from seminary. Broad reading of the text is very important both for retaining one's Hebrew skills as well as for understanding the OT, and I strongly encourage as much reading as possible for those I teach. The other major pathway to easier reading is to use a computer program, like Bibleworks (or Biblespade !). I read a chapter a day of the OT, and whenever I don't know a word, I simply scroll the mouse over the word and a lexicon definition pops up. But Bibleworks is a lot more expensive than this book, and it is always nice to hold a book in one's hands. And since the glosses in the reader's bible are designed for the context, there is no need to go searching through a lexical entry to try and find the appropriate entry. Buy this book and start reading some more Hebrew!
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4/20/2008 5:23:00 PM

Lachish 3

Posted Sunday, April 20, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
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ועת. הפקח

נא את אזן    ×¢×‘דך. לספר. אשר

שלחתה   אל עבדך. אמש. ×›×™. לב

עבדך דוה. מאז. שלחך. אל. עבד

ך   וכי  אמר. אדני. לא. ידעתה

קרא ספר חיהוה. אם. נסה. א

יש לקרא לי. ספר לנצח. וגם

כל ספר   אשר יבא. אלי   אם.

קראתי. אתה ועוד אתננהו

אל. מאומה                    


And now, please explain to the ear of your servant the letter which you sent to your servant last night because the heart of your servant is sick since you sent to your servant. And when my lord said “You do not know to read a letter” (Or “You do not understand! Call a scribe!). By God never has any man tried to read to me a letter, and every letter which comes to me, surely I read it myself, and moreover I can repeat it!

 This is one of a series of letters that were found at Lachish before the attack by Nebuchadnezzar. 

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4/17/2008 11:31:00 AM

Recently Acquired Books

Posted Thursday, April 17, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
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I'm always interested in what other people are reading, so I thought I would post some of the new books that I have gotten recently and why I bought them. I'm not sure during which lifetime I will read them, though.

1. Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch - I'm writing a dissertation on the Pentateuch. Enough said.

2. Psalms for Young Children - For reading to Eily

3. Genesis, by James McKeown - a commentary on Genesis from a theological intepretation of Scripture viewpoint

4. Betrayal, edited by Robert Erickson - A collection of essays on the church in Germany during World War 2

5. War in Ancient Egypt, by Spalinger - for my dissertation

6. The Concept of Biblical Theology, by James Barr - A 1 on my reading list, which means that I have to read it and write a review of it.

7. Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testament, Childs - another 1 on my reading list

8. Leviticus 1-16, Milgrom - I got a good deal on this very large and expensive book

9. The Tree of Life: An Exploration of Biblical Wisdom Literature, Murphy - Another 1 on the list

10. French for Reading - summer project

11. הארי פוטר ומסדר עוף החול (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) - practice my Hebrew 

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4/15/2008 6:00:00 PM

Welcome to Daniel

Posted Tuesday, April 15, 2008 by Brian Beers
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It has been just over a year since I took a Sabbatical from Theoblogian. God has challenged me and blessed me in many ways. The first I am going to mention here is my newest son, Daniel Christopher Beers. He was born January 4th. Since that day, the greatest tragedy in our house has been for one of his brothers to realize that he “didn’t get to hold Daniel today!”
While I agree with their sentiment it is often bedtime, and they only get to give him a hug. But you may see for yourself why it is a tragedy to not hold Daniel.
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4/15/2008 3:12:00 PM

A Nose, Noses, and Proverbs 30:33

Posted Tuesday, April 15, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: None
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The Hebrew of Proverbs 30:33 has a fun aspect that does not come through in English. Here is the verse in Hebrew and a literal translation.

כי מיץ חלב יוציא חמאה ומיץ אף יוציא דם ומיץ אפים יוציא ריב

For the pressing of milk brings out butter and pressing of the nose brings out blood and the pressing of anger brings out strife.

The verse is highly parallel, as each clause uses the same verbs: press and brings out. The second and third clause have another parallel: the word "anger" is actually the plural of "nose."

I'm quite sure that all of this is rather meaningless, but it was interesting, right? 

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4/13/2008 12:39:00 PM

Kevin Vanhoozer at Wheaton

Posted Sunday, April 13, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Theology   Comments: None
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The Wheaton Theological Conference was this past weekend, focusing on the Trinity and ministry. I did not go to very many sessions (to my own loss), but I did go to the two keynote sessions with Kevin Vanhoozer. He spoke on the relationship of the Trinity to inspiration. The first session was mostly negative, in the sense that he expressed his dislike of most evangelical theories of inspiration since they do not include the Trinity. He expressed the belief that since the Trinity is part of the uniqueness of Christianity, a uniquely Christian view of inspiration must take that into account, and if a view of inspiration could mesh with a Jewish or Muslim worldview, then it would be at least deficient if not wrong. I confess that I do not share this same concern as Vanhoozer. Why is it that the Trinity must be the determinative doctrine? Do we have to take all the distinctives of Christianity and make them part of every aspect of theology? He also discussed the incarnation analogy and its use in inspiration (ala Peter Enns): just as Jesus is both human and divine, the Bible is both human and divine. But Vanhoozer suggested this analogy breaks down too quickly for it to be of use. The second night he gave his own positive take on inspiration and the Trinity. I was not exactly sure what he was arguing for, but here is my understanding of it. The Trinity is both three speech agents and one speech agent. The significance of this is that the three persons of the Trinity have always had perfect communication with each other. Scripture then is divine rhetoric: the father is the ethos, the son is the logos, and the spirit is the pathos (the persuasive power of Scripture rightly interpreted). Or to look at it another way: where is God involved in Scripture? Is the work of God the making of Scripture or the work of Scripture in the life of the reader? Barth thought that it was the latter only. The Bible became the Word of God only when it was read in faith and God was encountered in the reading. Vanhoozer speculated that Barth either did not want to tie God to a human word or he took historical criticism too seriously. Evangelicals have focused their attention (inerrancy, inspiration) on the former: the making of the Scripture. The latter is not denied, but Vanhoozer thought that it was downplayed in evangelicalism. Vanhoozer's conclusion is to take divine communication within the Trinity as a principle: "the Trinity is our Scripture Principle." Communication involes not just the saying of something, but also the receiving of something. Hence, the evangelical doctrine of Scripture must contain both the work of God in making Scripture as well as the work of God in the reader/hearer. I appreciate much of what Vanhoozer said, but I am not sure that he needed the Trinity to get there. Of course, it might very well be that I missed part of what he was saying. He is much smarter than I am, and I am not even a theologian, only a poor Old Testament student.
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4/11/2008 4:52:00 PM

Gym Membership

Posted Friday, April 11, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
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I was talking with a friend of mine the other day who is married to a pastor, and she mentioned that the church pays for a gym membership for both of them. I think this is a great idea for two reasons. First, it puts flesh on the belief that salvation is holistic: it is not just our soul getting saved, but every aspect of our being, material as well as immaterial. We need fit pastors who take care of their bodies. Second, it is a great way to interact with non-believers. Pastors can easily get into a pattern where all they do is meet with Christians. Going to a gym places them squarely in the midst of a crowd of non-believers. In sum, I think more churches should provide gym memberships for their pastors! Read more of Gym Membership

4/9/2008 1:34:00 PM

Kellen Aodh Trimm

Posted Wednesday, April 09, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
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The blog has been quiet for the past few days because we welcomed our second child into the big world! Kellen was born Saturay April 5 at 11:48, weighing 7 pounds 13 ounces and extending 20 1/2 inches from head to toe. We got to go home the next day, and after a few problems with reflux and jaundice, Kellen is doing just fine. He's even sleeping for relatively long periods of time. He is already very curious about the world around him. His name came from a joke that I had with Mariah. I wanted to name him gibor, which is the biblical Hebrew word for mighty warrior or hero (it can also be used for stud in Modern Hebrew). Naturally, Mariah didn't think much calling her son gibor, so we compromised and translated his name into Irish, ending up with Kellen. His middle name is pronounced eed, like feed without the f. The name in Gaelic means out of fire, which is also the meaning of Kenneth, my dad's name. Kellen small picture.JPG Read more of Kellen Aodh Trimm

4/4/2008 7:34:00 AM

Wheaton Dissertation Proposal

Posted Friday, April 04, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old TestamentMilitary Issues   Comments: None
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Here in the PhD program at Wheaton we have three major oral examinations, each one before most of the PhD professors (Block, Moo, Spencer, Beale, Treier, Perrin, Schultz, Larsen, Kalantzis, Greenman, Bullock, etc.). The first is the interview, half of which is talking about who we are and why we want to go to Wheaton and half of which is defending your idea for a dissertation. The third is the dissertation defense at the very end of the process, where one defends the final result before the second reader, the external reader, and any of faculty who have read it. The second exam is the one I went through yesterday, the defense of the proposal. I wrote my proposal, went through six drafts with Dan Block, and presented a ten page summary of my idea and fifteen pages of bibliography. After a half hour of grilling and fifteen minutes of talking it over, they decided that it was acceptable. Of course, no one has yet failed this step of the process. Now that I have passed this hurdle, I can finally start writing this thing. My topic, for anyone who is interested, is the ideologies of warfare in the Torah.
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4/3/2008 9:54:00 AM

A Vegetarian Reading of Job

Posted Thursday, April 03, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old TestamentHermeneutics   Comments: None
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Dan Block told me about an amusing "vegetarian" reading of Job by David Clines his in commentary a few months, so when I saw the commentary for a decent price on ebay, I couldn't pass it up. Here is a summary of the vegitarian reading of Job (pages l-lii in the Word commentary series). There are three places in Job where animals play a major role. First, Job owns many animals. They are the outer edge of his possessions. But there is no eating of meat in the narrative of the book, only the labor of the animals is mentioned. While vegetariansim is not taught here, it does fit. Second, Job offers sacrifices for his family. This clearly does not fit with vegetarianism. But note that the sacrifices do not work (his kids die). So perhaps the sacrifices at the end of the book don't work either, and it is actually his prayer that works. Here is a turning over of the effectiveness of animal sacrifice. Third, animals appear often in God's speech at the end of the book. Wild animals are more important than tame animals because they remind humans of the "inexplicability of the world as it has been created." Pretty goofy what people can come up with sometimes.
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4/2/2008 7:26:00 AM

Lewis and Clark, Aragorn, and Following Christ

Posted Wednesday, April 02, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
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I recently read a book on Lewis, of Lewis and Clark fame (no, this is not an April Fool's Joke , I actually did read the book). It was interesting because I was very ignorant about their journey and the life of Lewis, even though I grew up in the NW not terribly far from where they wintered. The book included many fun stories, such as their encounters with bears who refused to die even when shot multiple times, the great trust that the men had in Lewis, and the incredible physical work it took them to get to the West Coast and back. I was saddened by the large amount of STD's that the men picked up along the way from sleeping with the Indian women: their husbands were happy to have the wives sleep with the white men because they thought they would then get the hunting power of the white man. The saddest part of the book for me was the end: Lewis ends up ruining his life and commiting suicide (apparently, although some argue he was murdered). This man who did a tremendous job on the highly dangerous multi-year trek across the country can't handle life when he gets back.

This past week I also watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy again, and as I watched Theoden and Aragorn make their speeches to the troops before battle in the third movie (when Rohan arrives to help Gondor and when the allied troops are at the gate of Mordor), I thought to myself how great it would be to have the charisma displayed by these two men to help others follow Christ more effectively. But the more I thought about this, and about Lewis' life, the more I realized how unlike these two events the Christian life is. The Christian life is a lifelong quest, not one that lasts a few years until one gets back to real life. This shows just how difficult the Christian life can be: the goal of this life is not to make it back to civilization or to defeat a single enemy, but it is to subject the rest of our entire life to service with God. As it has often been quipped, the problem with a living sacrifice (Romans 12:2) is that it keeps on crawling off the altar. As Christians, we need the endurance not just to last for awhile, but to keep on serving Christ, an endurance that is impossible without the work of the Spirit in us and through other believers.  

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4/1/2008 5:15:00 AM

Biblespade: New Bible Program

Posted Tuesday, April 01, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Comments: 2
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I love Bibleworks. Besides Firefox and Word, it is the most used program on my computer. I have used it since version 3 and followed it through all its upgrades. But now, I am wondering if perhaps I should switch my allegiance. I recently discovered  a brand new Bible program: Biblespade (the name refers to doing spade work in the text). It is trying to be a combination of Logos (with lots of extra books integrated into the program) and Bibleworks (a focus on the biblical text) and is trying to keep the price reasonable. The main draw for Biblespade is its tagging. Most Bible programs are tagged for such items as noun case and verb tense. Biblespade has this but also much more. On a lower level, it has tagged the text following Mounce's Morphology of Biblical Greek. This way, if you want to know all the nouns that behave morphologically like a certain noun, you can instantly see it. If you want to see all the verbs that had an original digamma, it is not a problem. There is no equivalent work in the OT yet, but Biblespade says they are working on designing something. On a higher level, more syntax options are tagged, this time using Wallace's grammar. If you want to know where all of the genitive of material's are in the NT, you can find out instantly. Naturally, this tagging is not perfect, as different exegetes will have different ideas about how to classify each word. But this is at least a start. Some words are tagged two ways (such as "the love of Christ constrains us," which is tagged both subjective and objective genititve). In the OT the text is tagged according to Waltke and O'Conner's grammar. But this is not all: it is also tagged on a higher level. Word order is very important but not very well studied. So they have tagged all VSO (verb, subject, object), plus a few other letters (time words, etc.) so that one can easily see the word order and compile stats. Finally, there is also discourse tagging. The text is tagged according to Longacre's charts: all texts are placed into one of Longacre's text-types (narrative, predictive, instructional, etc.). Then each clause is placed into its particular band: mainline, background, etc. If you want to find all the background clauses in a predictive text type, then it is done easily. The text is also tagged according to Randall Buth's view: topic and focus for forefronted items, as well categorization for verbs forms for continuity and discontinuity. While much of this still has problems that need to be worked out, the potential to surpass Bibleworks is tremendous. 

On the other side, it also offers lots of options. One of the most important is text critical data: one can simply scroll over a verse and all the data from NA27 and BHS appear. Another exciting option is the Ancient Near East module. They hope to start putting out original language texts from the ANE, such as Akkadian, Egyptian, Aramaic, and Hittite texts. These texts would be tagged and would make learning and using these languages much easier. But that is still for the future. A variety of other helpful books can be bought for a reasonable price: TDOT, TDNT, NIDOTT, NIDNTT, the Word commentary series, NICNT, NICOT, Pillar commentary series, etc. This offers tremendous flexibility. While it is not cheap if one adds a lot of these books, they can be bought over time. A variety of other interests are also served. A map system based on Google maps is included, tied into the biblical text, so that one can just click on a place name and see where it is on the map. There are a variety of pre-loaded maps (such as the Conquest of Canaan).  Some sermons are included when one needs to be encouraged. One new technology included here is access to tagged mp3 sermons: as the preacher goes to a text, it automatically comes up on the screen as you are listening. But enough about the potential of this new program: go check it out and buy one for yourself! 


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