Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Temporary site unavailability

Over the next few days my site may be down as I switch servers to one with PHP. This will speed site updates as I can use server-side includes to handle certain elements of the page. In effect I can edit one page instead of 400, so I think it will be worth the effort. Better to get it over with before visitor numbers start to climb at the beginning of the new term.

Open Biblical Studies

Tim Bulkeley and Edward Cook are currently discussing the aims of Open Biblical Studies. I didn't realise that that was the name for what I was doing...

One of my Favourite Films

Born Yesterday (1950) is a film that can watch again and again. The basic plot is straightforward. Scrap metal dealer Harry Brock moves to Washington DC to establish a scrap metal cartel with the help of a crooked Congressman. His efforts are hampered by his girlfriend "Billie" (played by Judy Holliday) who proves an embarrassment to him as his attempts to ingratiate himself with polite society. In an attempt to "make her less dumb" he employs an investigative journalist called Paul Varrall (William Holden) to teach her. Varrall sets about his task with gusto and pretty soon Billie's eyes are opened to her situation and what her boyfriend is really trying to do.

The film is interesting from a linguistic point of view, as Billie sits down with complicated books and a dictionary:

[JH] ...You know it’s interesting how many interesting things a person can learn - if they read.
[WH] I don’t suppose you got a chance to read my piece?
[JH] What are you talking...? Of course I read it - twice!
[WH] What’d you think?
[JH] I think it’s the best thing I ever read - I didn’t understand one word.
[WH] What didn’t you understand?
[JH] None of it.
[WH] Here, show me what.… Now what didn’t you understand.
[JH] Well, like the name of it? “The Yellowing Democratic Manifesto.”
[WH] Simple.
[JH] To who - whom - who - well anyway, not to me!
[WH] Well look, you know what yellowing means?
[JH] Not this time.
[WH] Well, when a piece of paper gets old, what happens to it.
[JH] It’s thrown away?
[WH] No - it turns yellow!
[JH] It does!
[WH] Of course.
[JH] Well, what’d you know!
[WH] Now democratic - you know what that means don’t you?
[JH] Not Republican.
[WH] Well, not exactly. It just means pertaining to our form of government which is a democracy.
[JH] What’s pertaining?
[WH] ...has to do with.
[JH] Pertaining - nice word!
[WH] Alright - ”Manifesto.”
[JH] I don’t know.
[WH] Why didn’t you look it up?
[JH] I did look it up - I still don’t know!
[WH] Well look, when I say “manifesto” I mean a set of rules and principles and ideals and hopes on which the United States is based; the ideas of those men who wrote that Constitution up there.
[JH ]And you think it’s turning yellow?
[WH] Yes, I think a lot of the original inspiration has been neglected and forgotten.
[JH] And that’s bad?
[WH] And that’s bad.
[JH] [Continuing to read.] “Even a cursory?”
[WH] “Cursory”
[JH] “...examination of contemporary… society in terms of the Greek… philosophy which defines the whole as a representation of its parts send one immediately to a consideration of the individual as a citizen and a citizen as an individual.”
[WH] Well.
[JH] I looked up every word!
[WH] Listen. Thousands of years ago a Greek philosopher said that the world could only be as good as the people who lived in it.
[JH] Makes sense.
[WH] So I said, you take one look at America today and right away you figure that you’d better take a look at the people who live in it, one by one, sorta.
[JH] That’s this?
[WH] Sure.
[JH] Well why didn’t you say so?

This is exactly what many people do when they read the Bible, especially when learning to translate the Greek New Testament. One of the mistakes Judy Holliday’s character made was to think that the meaning of a sentence is equal to the sum of the words in it, such as:

“The” + “Yellowing” + “Democratic” + “Manifesto” = the meaning of the sentence.

In fact this didn’t give the meaning of the sentence, as she stated later on in the excerpt, because the meaning of a sentence is not the sum of the meanings of the words in it. It could almost be said that considered apart from their context words have no meaning; they receive a meaning only when a sentence, paragraph, chapter or even the entire book or letter is considered as a whole. [Read more on linguistics].

Sadly, the high ideals of the original movie were lost in the remake (1993). Gone are the museums, libraries and the moral philsophy, replaced by a set of smart comments designed to give the illusion of erudition with no effort.

One of my favourite lines from the original film (and there ar many) is when Paul Varrell says, "I want everyone to be smart, the world is too dangerous a place to be filled with stupid people." Amen to that!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

A Unique Website about the Person of Jesus

It is good to be able a to share a success story. If you have not already heard of it, the rejesus website is well worth a visit. Supported by all the major denominations it has recently secured the funding it needs to continue for the forseeable future. Among its accolades is that of becoming the BBCi recommended site for "Jesus". Designed by Simon Jenkins (ship-of-fools, fish.co.uk) and Bruce Stanley (embody.co.uk) it presents the person and message of Jesus in an interesting and contemporary way.

The site has five main sections:

1) The Story: Presents the story of Jesus's life. You can test your knowledge of the Gospels by doing a Pub Quiz, read about famous followers of Jesus or even watch the film version of the Gospel of Luke.
2) Encounters: Shows that The Story is still relevant to people today, it features mini-interviews with contemporary Christians and offers help with issues, such as love, stress, forgiveness and pleasure-seeking.
3) Spirituality: Explains how Jesus has been worshipped in the past and offers opportunities for prayer and meditation.
4) Expressions: How Jesus and his message have been interpreted in art, photography and film.
5) Community: Unfortunately this is the weakest part of the site and is dominated by those with unorthodox views about Jesus and the Way of Salvation, which are even held by the Moderators. It is in need of some sensible Bible-Believing Christians to make some constructive contributions.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Evangelicals and Bible reading

Tyler F Williams has an interesting entry in his Blog on Bible reading in Evangelical churches - or rather the lack of it.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Copyright permission received from Prof. Kenneth Kitchen

I have just received permission to publish on-line:

Kenneth A. Kitchen, “The Aramaic of Daniel,” Notes on Some Problems in the Book Of Daniel. London: The Tyndale Press, 1965.

I hope to have this available within a few weeks.

Table of Contents for The New Testament in Its First Century Setting

Here is the table of contents for the book referred to in my previous blog:

P.J. Williams, Andrew D. Clarke, Peter M.Head & David Instone-Brewer, eds., The New Testament in Its First Century Setting. Essays on Context and Background in Honour of B.W.Winter on His 65 Birthday. Grand Rapids / Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2004. Hbk. ISBN: 0802828345. pp.335..

According to COPAC there are copies at Edinburgh and Durham. I suspect that the fact that it is published by Eerdmans explains why there are so few available through the British Library system.

P.J. Williams, "The Linguistic Background of Jesus' Dereliction Cry (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34)," pp.1-12.

Rikki Watts, "Jesus and the New Exodus Restoration of Daughter Zion: Mark 5:21-43 in Context," pp.13-29.

Peter M. Head, "Papyrological Perspectives on Luke's Predescessors (Luke 1:1)," pp.30-45.

Alan Millard, "Zecharish Wrote (Luke 1:63)," pp.46-55.

David Peterson, "Atonement Theology in Luke-Acts: Some Methodological Reflections," pp.56-71.

Andreas Köstenberger, "'I Suppose' (oimai): The Conclusion of John's Gospel in Its Literary and Historical Context," pp.72-88.

Steve Walton, "Omothumadon in Acts. Co-location, Common Action or 'Of One Heart and Mind'?" pp.89-105.

Irine Levinskaya, "The Italian Cohort in Acts 10:1," pp.106-125.

Conrad Gempf, "Before Paul Arrived in Corinth: The Mission Strategies in 1 Corinthians 2:2 and Acts 17," pp.126-142.

Alanna Nobbs, "'Beloved Brothers' in the New Testament and Early Christian World," pp.143-150.

Andrew D. Clarke, "Equality of Mutuality? Paul's Use of 'Brother' Lnguage," pp.151-164.

I Howard Marshall, "'For the Husband s Head of the Wife': Paul's Use of Head and Body Language," pp.165-177.

E.A. Judge, "The Appeal to Convention in Paul," pp.178-189.

Brian S. Rosner, "'With What Kind of Body Do Tehy Come/ (1 Corinthians 15:35b): Paul's Conception of Resurrection Bodies," pp.190-205.

Peter T. O'Brien, "Summing Up of All Things (Ephesians 1:10)," pp.206-219.

David W.J. Gill, "A Saviour of the Citites of Crete: The Roman Background to the Epistle to Titus," pp.220-230.

Peter Walker, "A Place for Hebrews? Contexts for a First-Century Sermon," pp.231-249.

David Instone-Brewer, "James As a Sermon on the Trials of Abraham," pp.250-268.

D.A. Carson, "'You Have No Need That Anyone Should Teach You' (1 John 2:27): An Old Testament Allusion That Determines the Interpreation," pp.269-280.

Bruce W. Longenecker, "Rome, Provincial Cities and the Seven Churches of Revelation 2-3," pp.281-291.

Paul Barnett, "Reelation 12: An Apocalptic 'Church History'?" pp.292-300.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Articles listing from Tribute to Bruce Winter now available

I have just uploaded the details of the articles (not the article themselves) from the 2004 Tribute to Bruce Winter:

P.J. Williams, Andrew D. Clarke, Peter M. Head & David Instone-Brewer, eds., The New Testament in Its First Century Setting. Essays on Context and Background in Honour of B.W. Winter on His 65th Birthday. Grand Rapids / Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2004. Hbk. ISBN: 0802828345. pp.335.

One that caught my eye that the contribution by Conrad Gempf.

"Before Paul Arrived in Corinth: The Mission Strategies in 1 Corinthians 2:2 and Acts 17" (pp.126-142)

The article responds to the suggestion made by William Ramsay in 1895 that Paul changed his mission strategy after his "failure" to win large numbers of converts in Athens. The argument goes that he renounced the use of intellectual arguments and resolved to preach only the message of the cross when he arrived in Corinth. There have been relatively few responses to this argument, the most significant being that of Ned Stonehouse in 1949.

It is good to see this old chestnut - so often used as an argument for an anti-intellectual approach to the Gospel - laid to rest. The difference in the two evangelistic techniques should be seen not as a change of strategy, but as examples of Paul's flexibility in dealing with varied cultural contexts. Well worth a read.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Article listings added from Scottish Journal of Theology

I have added relevant articles from the Scottish Journal of Theology from 1948 to 1997.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Christian giving - a forgotten gift?

Ben Witherington cites some very sobering statistics about how little Christians in the US give each month in order to support the work of furthering the Gospel through their local churches. As others have noted in their responses, this is not just a problem in the US church. I welcome this as a call to re-evaluate financial priorities.

Chris Wright's article on Old Testament Prophecy and Israel available

Chris Wright, "A Christian Approach to Old Testament Prophecy Concerning Israel," Peter W. L. Walker, ed., Jerusalem: Past and Present in the Purpose of God. Cambridge: Tyndale House, 1992. Pbk. ISBN: 0951835610. pp. 1-19.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Daniel Scot to speak in the UK

In an earlier blog I mentioned Daniel Scot, a preacher who is facing gaol in Australia for criticising Fundamentalist Islam. Daniel is due to speak in the UK at four locations:

London: 22nd August - St Helen's Bishopsgate.
Cardiff: 23rd August - Heath Evangelical Church
Newcastle-Gateshead: 24th August - Emmanuel College
Liverpool: 25th August - Bridge Chapel

Full details can be found on the Christian Institute website.

For those who know little about Islam it is important to know that what Daniel was teaching in his seminar was an accurate representation of the teachings of that faith. I would recommend visiting the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity website, which has numorous helpful articles and briefings. I would also recommend the following book, written by Don Richardson, author of Peace Child and Eternity In Their Hearts:

Don Richardson, Secrets of the Koran: Revealing Insight into Islam's Holy Book. Regal Books, 2003. Pbk. ISBN: 0830731237. pp.260.

Further bibliography can be found on the Islam page on my Medieval Church History site.

Real life intervened in the blogosphere and I neglected to publish a comment from SwiftyPete and then realised that I had accidentally deleted it. It prompted this somewhat testy response:

I notice comments are "subject to approval" and that 24 hours on you have chosen not to publish a comment by me. That bothers me. And what you should worry about about is the lack of gospel integrity implied by this. Your blog has variously mis-represented the Daniel Scot case as a malicious prosecution for "criticising fundamentalist Islam" and even for merely "conducting a seminar on Islam"! If you are so convinced that this cause is right then why won't the truth do? God Bless.
I have neither the time nor the inclination to turn this blog into a debating forum (on any subject). The materials cited above provide expert testimony and support Daniel Scot's arguments. There also are two helpful news articles online:

"Catch the Fire and Daniel Scot’s (in)credible testimony" On line Opinion (Australia) February 2005.

"Free speech and incitement?" Evangelicals Now (August 2005).

Those wishing to debate the subject might like to visit his blog where they can read SwiftyPete's views in full.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Improved Events Diary available

I have added more detail to my diary which advertises events in the United Kingdom related to the subject matter of the site. If you know of others that would be relevant please contact me.