Tuesday, February 28, 2006


A nice post over at The Heresy on trust. I quote in part:

"...Mistakes and failings in a relationship are often an opportunity to build trust. Being able to genuinely admit wrong doing can do a lot to bolster a relationship. Being able to forgive does the same.

"I think one of the reasons why church people are so rarely different from the rest of world is that we often don't trust one another. If we don't trust one another we don't make a way for others help us to become more like Christ. Often people live under an unhealthy fear of personal judgment so people hide their true selves.

"The most common philosophy of ministry assumes we facilitate change in people by challenging their thinking through preaching. This way we can change their worldview and ultimately their character. This might happen in a few rare cases but for the most part it doesn't work. There are communication issues. There are issues with the hearer that skew the message. When a person is listening in a crowd it is too easy to disregard the truth they hear. Without the relationship the message gets lost."

<idle musing>
Trust is an easy thing to lose, a hard thing to regain, but I think Leighton is right here. If we are secure in who we are in Christ, we should welcome people's comments. How can we see those blind spots without other people speaking into our lives? Easy to say, hard to do...
</idle musing>

Reading versus decoding Greek

In a continuation of the post on Latin, I turn now to Greek. Yesterday on the B-Greek list Dr. Conrad had a wonderful post, a long excerpt of which I include here (with his permission):

"When I came to teach Greek in a classroom on my own, I quickly became aware of the problematic nature of grammatical knowledge both as something necessary and as something having curiously little connection with ability to read Greek successfully. I’ve seen too many students who knew the paradigms and the rules but couldn’t read sequential Greek textual material, and I’ve also seen some who could read Greek texts pretty well but weren’t very good at grammatical analysis.

"Why is that? I think that two not-unrelated factors are at work:

"(1) Students who have learned by the traditional textbooks and pedagogy know the paradigms and the rules of grammar and have learned the vocabulary, but they attack the Greek text as a problem to be analyzed, as a step-by-step hunt for the subject and the verb and the modifiers and then a synthesis of the pieces rather than as an integrated whole: they readily discern the Greek trees by genus and species, but they are lost in the forest of Greek discourse.

"(2) Another metaphor I’ve met with frequently of late is that these students view a Greek text as a sequence of cryptograms to be deciphered: for them, reading Greek is a process of DECODING an alien script — and that involves transcribing an alien script into an intelligible script. Generally that means TRANSLATING the Greek text into the student’s native language, more or less item-by-item. The false assumption here is that UNDERSTANDING a Greek text is fundamentally a matter of producing a corresponding text in one’s native language such that each item in the Greek text has its corresponding term in one’s native language. But in fact, nothing could be much farther from the truth; TRANSLATING is by no means the same as UNDERSTANDING the Greek original text. Accurate translation does presuppose the understanding of the original text, but that text must first be understood on its own terms: unless one can grasp the thought of the writer/speaker in its own format, think that thought as the writer/speaker thought it and as the original reader/listener read/heard it in the original Greek, one will not be able to re-express the sense in the intelligible idiom of one’s own native language. Reading Greek is not a matter of decoding a script and it is not a matter of converting the elements of a formula into another script; rather, it is a matter of THINKING in Greek.

"In the course of my own teaching of Greek I tried several different textbooks. I came to feel more and more that traditional instruction focused on learning rules and vocabulary lists and paradigms and then TRANSLATING sentences from Greek to English and English to Greek (sentences all too often composed by textbook-authors in quite unidiomatic Greek and English) would work only with the exceptional students who actually went beyond those procedures and internalized the language in a manner not altogether different from the way children learn their native tongue. I knew that I myself had acquired as much fluency as I had in Greek and Latin through reading long sequential texts of good (and some less good) ancient authors. I felt that what was needed was a textbook that moved as soon as possible into sequential discourse in the Greek or Latin. Of the traditional type of textbooks the best I ever found for classical Attic was Hansen and Quinn (the sentences were written with authentic understanding of both Greek and English idiom). But I was really looking for something that focused on getting the student to THINK IN GREEK...

"I later discovered and for the rest of my teaching career I used the JACT “Reading Greek” course, delighted to have a textbook that begins from the outset with sequential readings: dialogue and simple narrative all in good, solid idiomatic Attic and moving quickly into barely altered original texts from Aristophanes and then from Demosthenes and Plato and Herodotus and the Odyssey, all in the train of a single course. Like the Ruck text, Reading Greek had exercises in manipulating phrases and understanding words in contexts, and the testing was in terms of sharply re-paraphrased narratives based upon the readings of the preceding lesson. The entire focus of the course was upon reading skills. Grammar was introduced as necessary in order to explain the constructions introduced in the reading passages of the new lesson, but it was rather minimal and was in fact a sort of metalanguage used when necessary to TALK about the language and how it works AFTER experiencing through confrontation with the text the language in pragmatic application.

"I confess that in the course of my teaching from the JACT Reading Greek I found it necessary to construct my own supplementary grammatical materials to distribute to my classes to assist them to use traditional grammars to answer their questions and to be able to talk about how the language works in courses with other instructors to which they would move on from my Beginning Greek course. I always had mixed feelings about this grammar: that it is a necessary evil: both necessary and an evil. What one needs the grammar for is analysis of HOW a Greek text works; one doesn’t really need it in order to learn to read or speak the language. The grammar is a metalanguage to be used to discuss how the language works. Frankly, I have come to think that Randall Buth is right in thinking that, insofar as this metalanguage of grammar is necessary, it really would be better to use Greek for the grammatical metalanguage if the language one is trying to learn is Greek.

"Why? One reason for it is that the grammar that we use most to talk about Biblical Greek is a metalanguage that aims at facilitating translation into English or some other target language. The categories in BDF or Smyth, all the more those of Wallace’s GGBB, are phrased in terms of how to convert the Greek construction into an idiomatic English equivalent construction RATHER than how to understand the Greek construction in its own terms. How can that be improved upon? Probably the grammar to be used for studying Biblical Greek should be written in a Greek that is as close to Biblical Greek as possible even if vocabulary must be added to accommodate concepts about the language not adequately dealt with in the grammar of the Hellenistic schools."

<idle musing>
I have heard similar statements from others who use the JACT. I have never used it, when I was teaching first year Greek, the text was chosen by someone else and it was Chase & Phillips. When I taught second year Greek, my emphasis was on reading large amounts of text, since that is how you learn a language. I also supplemented the readings with my own grammatical and syntactical notes (long gone, they were on 5.25" disks in some obscure word processing format).

I think that the balance here is good. You get students reading Greek, you supplement with grammatical notes. You need both, students need a framework to hang things on, but the emphasis should always be the existing text(s).
</idle musing>

Monday, February 27, 2006

First Break All the Rules part 1

I’m continuing to read First, Break All the Rules. Last time I mentioned that there are 12 questions and I listed 3 of them. Well, I should have kept reading, because the next section says that the questions are in that order for a reason. They liken the task of managing to an expedition to climb a mountain. You need certain foundations before you can get out of base camp, and each successive camp has its requirements. Just as you can’t helicopter into camp 3 and expect to take the peak, so you can’t choose which of the questions are more important. They build on one another, sort of like trying to start geometry half way through the year. You won’t know the proofs that allow you to state certain truths.

All this to say that the “base camp” questions are the first two:
1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?

If as an employee, I don’t know the answers to these two questions, I will not be able to perform well. I will always be wondering whether or not I’m doing a good job or I will be struggling to find the tools I need to do it right.

“Camp 1” has asks 4 questions, all related to your individual contribution to the company:
3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best everyday?
4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

These six of the 12 questions have to be answered before there can be any hope of better than mediocre performance. Without these six, there can be no “learning organization” and no “quality company.” No wonder all the innovations and re-organizations fall flat! We are trying to start halfway up the mountain without allowing people to get acclimatized.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Is Christianity safe or is it exciting?

Scot McKnight has a large excerpt from Brennan Manning here about Settler versus Pioneer Christianity. Well worth the read, I'm going to have to get the book...of course it's out of print :(

"In Settler Theology, the church is the courthouse. It is the center of town life. The old stone structure dominates the town square. Its windows are small and this makes things dark inside. Within the courthouse walls, records are kept, taxes collected, trials held for bad guys. The courthouse is the settler’s symbol of law, order, stability, and—most importantly—security. The mayor’s office is on the top floor. His eagle eye ferrets out the smallest details of town life.

"In Pioneer Theology, the church is the covered wagon. It’s a house on wheels, always on the move. The covered wagon is where the pioneers eat, sleep, fight, love and die. It bears the marks of life and movement—it creaks, is scarred with arrows, bandaged with baling wire. The covered wagon is always where the action is. It moves toward the future and doesn’t bother to glorify its own ruts. The old wagon isn’t comfortable, but the pioneers don’t mind. They are more into adventure than comfort."

It continues on from there...

<idle musing>
I always tell my kids (now 21 & 24!) that Christianity is like a ride on a backwards roller coaster. You don't have a clue what is coming next, but you know you aren't going to fall off and that it will be exciting. Of course, I love roller coasters, as do my kids (and Debbie, too), so you know which version of Christianity I want.

I don't have time for "safe" Christianity. If Jesus called us to be safe, then I must have misread the New Testament, because I sure don't see it there. As I listen to Christian radio or read some popular Christian paperback (OK, not very often) or listen to Christians, I hear a recurring theme, and it makes me want to throw-up: The safe radio station, you're kids won't hear anything naughty. The safe book, you won't have to think. "I just want my kids to grow up in a safe environment." Hogwash! You don't need faith if that is what you want! All you need is a big fence. Defend the status quo, worship your false gods of security and status, financial success and ladder climbing if you want. But, when the final call comes, don't expect a "well done" from the master. He calls us to live by faith, radical faith. Romans 12:2 is quite clear about that, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

An equally valid translation of "Do not conform any longer" would be "Stop conforming." I like that, it is a call to a deeper walk, one that is reliant on the Holy Spirit, not on rules or the dying momentum from an encounter with God once upon a time in your past. As C.S. Lewis says in The Last Battle, "Higher up and deeper in." That is the cry of my heart and I pray that it is yours too!
</idle musing>

Friday, February 24, 2006

Another book

I now have 3 books going. I don't usually like to have more than 2—1 at work and 1 at home—but Jim has asked some of us to read a book on management. Yes, in the modern world, not antiquity :) So, I have begun First, Break All the Rules.

It's actually a very interesting book, based on over 25 years of interviews and surveys with a large number of people (they claim over a million). They have come up with 12 questions that distinguish a great manager from any other. Interesting questions, I am just too lazy to type them all, so here are a few:

1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?

Good questions, and the answers do matter.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Reading versus decoding Latin

I mentioned this yesterday. I have been reading Greek for over 25 years and Latin and Hebrew for over 20. Well, that is not quite true, there was a 10 year period where I didn't do any Greek or Hebrew and a 15 year period where I didn't touch Latin.

I have been working at resurrecting my Latin for awhile now, reading Augustine's Confessions in the Latin. So, there has been an ongoing discussion on the Classics-L list about reading versus decoding. The difference is that with decoding, you are always "looking for the verb" whereas in reading you allow what comes next in the sentence as written to be registered by your brain--as you do in English. You don't (I hope) read English thinking, "OK, now where is the verb, where is the subject," etc. Ginny is always recommending a book by Dexter Hoyos, Latin: How to Read it Fluently. The other day she mentioned using a "reading card." I had never heard of that before, so I asked her. She referred me to her blog for this explanation:

"Reading cards can be nothing more than an index card in which you've clipped out the top left hand corner in the shape of a rectangle that's, say, an inch and a half wide and half an inch down. When you place this on top of a text it prevents you from looking ahead in a sentence. You then reveal one word at a time, considering exactly what you have and therefore what you expect...

"...because you take it one word at a time and don't immediately go huntin' that verb, you make yourself retrain your brain. This is one reason why I teach metaphrasing from the very beginning when it is dirt easy. Hey, all I have in 7th grade so far are accusatives and nominatives, but when we are reading words glossed below the story and villam is the item, we say, "Someone verbed the house." There's meaning in that ending, even in isolation, and we shouldn't ignore it."

Sounds simple, and it is. But, surprise of surprises, I did that with Greek, to check myself, and found that after 25 years, I was still "decoding" Greek! :( Try it, you might be surprised, unpleasantly. I am now trying to retrain my brain to see the language as it comes, a bit of work, but I think it will be worth it. I haven't gotten the Hoyos book yet, but am looking forward to it. Maybe Eisenbrauns should think about carrying it—I'll decide after I have read it. If the concepts carry over to other languages, we will.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A wander around blogdom

Quite a few interesting posts the last two days around the blogosphere:

Jim West points to a humorous post by Stephen Carlson about "On this day." I like this one:
"On Feb. 21, 303, Origen interpreted Matt 19:12 literally. Later that afternoon, he founds the Alexandrian school of allegorical interpretation." Ouch! I think I would have too!

The Heresy has a nice series of posts musing on churchs, church growth, etc. I like the top 20, my favorite is the 20th—
20 Lastly, set up a blog on church planting. Link to other bloggers on church planting. They link to you. Add smoke and mirrors.

A Place for the God-Hungry has a nice post on silence, not the good kind:

# You pour out your heart to your friend and your friend doesn't respond. In fact, she changes the subject. No positive response. No negative response. Nothing.
# You write a letter of serious concerns to your minister or other church leaders. You never hear a reply.
# You express some deep personal concerns to your Dad or Mom in an e-mail. These were difficult for you to write. You never hear back from your parents.
# You share a struggle with a small group of friends. Silence. Everyone sits there and looks at you. No response.
# You express an opinion in a class. The teacher doesn't even acknowledge what you said. He is silent for a few seconds and then moves on with his material. For a moment you feel quite silly.
# You volunteer to help and no one says anything in response. Nothing.

He follows it up with some good insights.

House Church Blog has an older (February 18th) post on The Participatory Gathering
"Having come from a "presentation service" background (in which I was doing much of the presenting), I LOVE participatory gatherings in which every person engages in the process of digging into Scripture and drawing out of God’s word His teaching and His living message for the moment. I so enjoy seeing people recognize that he/she is fully capable of going to Scripture, encountering God and truth, and sharing that truth with others. I love seeing this process take place within community and am constantly in awe of the way in which God’s word is expressed through every person present."

The Jesus Community has a good post on humility, picking up on something Scot McKnight said yesterday:

"Humility is able to see how one fits into the big picture. Not thinking too highly of where one fits nor thinking too low. Humility is quick to see the good and contribution of others.

"Humility at its base has to do with identity. Self-identity. Knowing God. Respecting and appreciating others."

And Lawson Stone has moved his blog to here.

Enough for now...since I would run out of time to comment on Joe Cathey's post on Michael Card, Jim West's post about the Garbini book, the discussion I am having with Ginny Lindzey about actually reading Latin versus decoding it (hopefully more on that later)...

Monday, February 20, 2006

More from The Training of the Twelve

I am finally back to reading this book after being distracted from it for almost two weeks. Either the book has gotten better, or where I am at in life has changed my perspective :} Anyway, he has a very interesting statement on page 202 (yes, I made it past page 200 this time!). He has just finished talking about the temple tax and how Jesus had Peter go fishing for it. After observing that Jesus by rights shouldn't have to pay the tax, since he was God in the flesh, says the following:

"The lowly One did not assume this attitude, but gave what was asked without complaint, grudging, or railing; and His conduct conveys a lesson for Christians in all ages, and in our own age in particular. It teaches the children of the kingdom not to murmur because the world does not recognize their status and dignity. The world knew not when He came, even God's eternal Son; what wonder if it recognize not His younger brethren! The kingdom of heaven itself is not believed in, and its citizens should not be surprised at any want of respect towards them individually. The manifestation of the sons of God is one of the things for which Christians wait in hope. For the present they are not the children, but the strangers; instead of exemption from burdens, they should rather expect oppression; and they should be thankful when they are put on a level with their fellow-creatures, and get the benefit of a law of toleration."

<idle musing>
This was written in 1871, how much truer today! As Christians complain that laws don't favor them or discriminate against them, this is a refreshing view. Bruce's perspective is not on the earthly, short-term, but on the heavenly, long-term. As Christians we should be content if we are not persecuted and not demand that society follow our mores. Far cry from Dominion Theology, isn't it?
</idle musing>

Friday, February 17, 2006


The Heresy has a link to this post by Robby Mac about people who have left the charismatic movement. He gives a good overview of the history and background to today's "full Spirit" groups and some of the excesses and problems which are causing people to leave. A good read, it links to a series of pages.

<idle musing>
I never had a name for it before, but it does summarize where I am at. "Saved" in the Jesus Movement, I got disillusioned by the charismatic movement in the late 1970s as a result of the "name it, claim it, stomp on it and frame it" mentality. That coupled with the shepherding movement's excesses caused me to walk away. I never went back, but never was "anti-Spirit" or gifts, just the excesses and mis-uses. Consequently, I missed quite a few of the excesses that came along later.

I do have a few disagreements with the article:
1. John Wesley never taught free will, he taught free grace. A subtle, but very significant (actually huge) distinction. He believed in the bondage of the will, but believed that prevenient grace was able to raise a person's awareness of their state to the point where they saw the need for God. But, it was all God from beginning to end. This is a huge point that needs to be taught to all Wesleyan-Arminians, it is not a free will thing, but a free grace thing.

<Update after walking to work>
Wesley taught assurance of salvation, something quite uncommon at his time. This was a result of the influence of the Moravians, and became a Wesleyan distinctive. Perhaps this is where Robby gets his theory for the need for outward signs that one is saved? I really don't think it is a result of the Wesleyan belief that one can lose one's salvation, but I might be wrong. Anyway, its 8:00, time to work.
</Update after walking to work>

2. He fails to mention that a goodly number of Keswick people were Calvinists. It was truly an ecumenical movement, initiated by God. But, he needs to have it be Wesleyan-Arminian to fit his thesis of why the outward manifestations were so important.

Other than those quibbles, it is very good.
</idle musing>

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Church on fire

I was wandering around some sites I hadn't visited for a while yesterday before work, and ran across this at House2House. I'm quite certain it is fiction, but the principle is what counts. I especially like this exchange:

...He scanned the remains of the sanctuary, "Church was on fire," he said simply.
"We were insured. Hopefully we can find a place to meet until we rebuild."

"That's not what I meant," said Buck. "The building burned down. The church was on fire. You didn't notice?"

"I'm not sure what. . ."

"Some of these folks haven't been that close since," he gestured toward the table, "…well I don't know. I never seen Thelma Kaiser and Mary Criswell stand next to each other like they did today. They held hands during the prayer."

"It's amazing what can happen if the need arises."

"Y’know what I think? I think we had all we needed today. We had bread, a cup, a table . . . and we had each other. The Good Lord showed up, too. I don't think you'll rebuild this church any better than it was today. Fire burned up the building. It built the church."

The Reverend Turley was silent.

Buck reduced the ashen pages of a hymnal to powder with the toe of his boot. "Gordon, it's bothered me for years," he began again. "I keep readin' and readin' in my Bible and I can't find most all the stuff we did in this place. Somebody's house or even the back room of my store seems to fit better what I read about the church."

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Quote for the day

"It's discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit." Noel Coward

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

New technology

I received this from a programmer friend of mine. I think Eisenbrauns will jump on this new technology :)

Introducing the new Bio-Optic Organized Knowledge device, trade named: B.O.O.K This is a revolutionary breakthrough in technology: no wires, no electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched on. It's so easy to use, even a child can operate it.

Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere -- even sitting in an armchair by the fire -- yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM disc. Here's how it works:

B.O.O.K is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of paper (recyclable), each capable of holding thousands of bits of information. The pages are locked together with a custom-fit device called a binder, which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence.

Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows manufacturers to use both sides of the sheet, doubling the information density and cutting costs. Experts are divided on the prospects for further increases in information density; for now, B.O.O.Ks with more information simply use more pages.

Each sheet is scanned optically, registering information directly into your brain. A flick of the finger takes you to the next sheet. B.O.O.K may be taken up at any time and used merely by opening it.

Unlike other display devices, B.O.O.K never crashes or requires rebooting, and it can even be dropped on the floor or stepped on without damage. However, it can become unusable if immersed in water for a significant period of time. The "browse" feature allows you to move instantly to any sheet and move forward or backward as you wish. Many come with an "index" feature, which pinpoints the exact location of selected information for instant retrieval.

An optional "B.O.O.Kmark" accessory allows you to open B.O.O.K to the exact place you left it in a previous session–even if the B.O.O.K has been closed.

B.O.O.Kmarks fit universal design standards; thus, a single B.O.O.Kmark can be used in B.O.O.Ks by various manufacturers.

Conversely, numerous B.O.O.Kmarkers can be used in a single B.O.O.K if the user wants to store numerous views at once. The number is limited only by the number of pages in the B.O.O.K.

You can also make personal notes next to B.O.O.K text entries with an optional programming tool, the Portable Erasable Nib Cryptic Intercommunication Language Stylus (PENCILS).

Portable, durable, and affordable, B.O.O.K is being hailed as a precursor of a new entertainment wave. Also, B.O.O.K's appeal seems so certain that thousands of content creators have committed to the platform and investors are reportedly flocking. Look for a flood of new titles soon.

Monday, February 13, 2006

We can't do this alone

There is a nice little post over at A Place For the God-Hungry about what we have as Christians. Here is the summary at the end:

• Christ in you means that you can rest in his completed work. It's not up to you.

• Christ in you means you are wealthy. Forget the lottery! Fourteen million in the Lotto Texas jackpot this week? It doesn't even begin to compare to what you already have in Christ.

• Christ in you means you can rest in his grace. You don’t have to worry about what will happen with your future. The pressure is off.

• Christ in you means you no longer have to settle for the leftovers of life. You can experience God’s best, which is Jesus himself.

• Christ in you means you have access to the very life of God. No one can take that away from you.

• Christ in you means you can come to the end of this life and live in the presence of God forever.

<idle musing>
I find this knowledge to be very freeing. I don't have to know everything, do everything, He has already done it. I just have to accept and obey—and even that obedience is a result of His free grace poured out on me!
</idle musing>

3 new books!

Friday we got 3 new books in. Check these out:

Judah and the Judeans in the Persian Period

Judah and the Judeans in the Persian Period
EIS - Eisenbrauns
Edited by Oded Lipschits and Manfred Oeming
Eisenbrauns, 2006
xxii + 722 pages, English
Cloth , 6 x 9 inches ,
ISBN: 157506104X
Your Price: $59.50

Ancient Israel's History and Historiography

Ancient Israel's History and Historiography
The First Temple Period
Collected Essays, volume 3
EIS - Eisenbrauns
by Nadav Na'aman
Eisenbrauns, 2006
xiv + 415 pages, English
Cloth , 6 x 9 ,
ISBN: 1575061147
Your Price: $49.50

The End of Wisdom

The End of Wisdom
A Reappraisal of the Historical and Canonical Function of Ecclesiastes
EIS - Eisenbrauns
by Martin A. Shields
Eisenbrauns, 2006
xiii + 250 pages, English
ISBN: 1575061023
Your Price: $37.50

Saturday, February 11, 2006


<idle musing for a Saturday night>
I’m sitting at my desk listening to Third Day. Earlier while I was riding my bike on the stand (hey, it’s 25 degrees out!) I was listening to Petra and I’ll probably put Handel’s Water Music in next. Diversity.

Earlier today I made rye bread. I used light rye instead of the dark rye that I normally use. Debbie commented it tasted different. I told her I used light rye. Next week I’ll make whole wheat bread. Last week I made pita bread. Diversity.

I like snow, some don’t. I like four seasons, some don’t. More diversity. Diversity is good, it is part of creation. We need diversity, we need the strengths of others. When we try to get others to think like us, we lose an important part of what God is doing in the world. We need to allow people to become who they were created to be.

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good...Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third
teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” I Corinthians 12: 4-7, 27-30 (RSV)

Without getting into the whole supernatural gifts issue, the important thing to note is that there is diversity. As I look around the church, I see an overabundance of administrators, teachers and a severe shortage of prophets. How can a church move forward without someone who sees what God wants to do? People tend towards the comfortable. The prophets stir people up and make them uncomfortable. Prophets tend to get stoned or put in stocks or, in Jeremiah’s case, find themselves up to their neck in mud at the bottom of a well. Prophets aren’t comfortable people to be around. They challenge the status quo, but we desperately need them.

Just thoughts triggered by this week and what God is doing at Asbury College. I don’t want to be guilty of stoning the prophets or stifling the Holy Spirit. Revival! I desperately need it. Daily! Not once every 36 years, not even once every Sunday, but daily.
</idle musing>

Friday, February 10, 2006

Friday funny

I have seen variations of this before, but this one is a bit more complete (compliments of Bookfinder e-mail list). Enjoy

=== English - even small children speak it fluently ===

If you ever feel stupid, then just read on. If you've learned to speak fluent English, you must be a genius! This little treatise on the lovely language we share is only for the brave. Pursue at your leisure, English lovers. Reasons why the English language is so hard to learn:

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert..
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail
18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.
19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France (Surprise!). Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat...

Quicksand works slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea or is it a pig. And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?

If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend. If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it? Is it an odd, or an end? If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

Quote for a Friday

"Everything that happens is either soap to cleanse me, fire to purify me, or a chisel to fashion in me the likeness of Christ." - Jean DeCaussade

Thursday, February 09, 2006


I just got an e-mail from a friend. Apparently a revival has broken out at my alma mater Asbury College. It started at Monday morning's chapel and was still going strong yesterday. I haven't been able to get any details about today yet, but here are a few links and excerpts.

From blogs:
Prof Wilder had a great insight tonight. This revival is nothing like the 1970's revival. The only similarities are that it is in Hughes and Almighty God brought it on. She said, "The 70's revival was a revival that stopped normal life. People could not leave Hughes for the world. All classes were canceled. This revival is different. We go to class, we come back to revival, we eat, we come back. This revival is more like you come to get fed and go take God with you as you go." Sounds familiar. Everything you do is either worship or sin. This revival is reminding us of how we could be seeking God fervently in everyday life.

The "official" Asbury college site:
WILMORE, KY—(Feb. 8, 2005) Praise, worship and release continue as students are still gathered around the altar in Hughes Auditorium where they have been since Monday. After today’s powerful chapel celebrating the work of the Holy Spirit on the Asbury College campus, God’s work carries on.

College president Paul A. Rader led the chapel service this morning as students, for the last three days, have converged on Hughes Auditorium for prayer and intercession for the campus and worldwide community.

An interesting new site

File this one under useful Greek tools (compliments of B-Greek e-mail list)

The Greek Bible in the Graeco-Roman World

Web Address (URL): http://www.rdg.ac.uk/lxx/

Description : The Greek Bible in the Graeco-Roman World project, an AHRB-funded joint enterprise between the Universities of Southampton and Reading, aims to provide a re-evaluation of the Greek Bible (Septuagint or LXX) as a source for Jewish interpretation of the hellenistic world - in particular the political, social, and
intellectual elements thereof. This involves an assessment of the existing criteria used to date and suggest the context of the translation of the books of the Septuagint, and where possible, to develop new criteria for deducing this information from the text.

One major result of the project is the Demetrios database of Septuagint Greek, containing political, legal, and administrative words. The database is still a work in progress, but at time of writing an initial version was available online via the project site. For those interested in exploring the subject further, a useful links
section is provided.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Keeping warm

I haven't had much time to read lately, mainly because I have been doing stuff on the house. Over the weekend I laid down an "attic blanket" in the attic crawlspace. We have two attic rooms and a 5.5 foot crawlspace on each side. There was only about 1 inch of insulation in the crawlspace, so all our heat from the house was going right outside. Not anymore! I laid down 8 inches of insulation, and it really made a difference. Of course laying it down was interesting. I never realized how much junk people put in crawlspaces and just leave. I took 3 garbage bags full of stuff out of it! But it is worth it. Winter decided to return this week, but on Monday morning, based on how warm the house felt, I thought it was at least 40 degrees fahrenheit—it was only 20!

After I finished the attic blanket I started working on my study. It is one of the attic rooms and had an ugly yellow shag that looked like something out of the 1970's. Impossible to roll a desk chair on, impossible to vacuum, ugly. Three strikes—outta here. I ripped that up, thinking there was a hardwood floor underneath. There wasn't, it was 2 x 8 pine boards with paint and drywall mud all over them. Plan B, indoor/outdoor carpet. Wrong dimensions, it would cost double what I wanted to spend. Plan C, carpet most of it, sand the remaining down and hope. Three days later, carpet down, remainder of floor sanded, books, bookcases and desk moved back in, but the door isn't painted yet. The sanded floor looks very nice, not hardwood, but nice. The carpet is a commercial grade charcoal that lets my desk chair roll nicely to the bookcases. Sleep? Who needs sleep? :)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Why is Church a large group?

Over at The Heresy there is a post discussing why Church is consistently a large group as opposed to a small group setting. He uses the following analogy:

"Imagine a hotel that has guest rooms, conference and meeting space, a restaurant, and catering. Now imagine everyone gathering together once a week to hear a message from the General Manager on how to become a better employee. Picture it as staff people from the kitchen, front desk, sales, accounting, maintenance, catering all gathering together to hear an inspirational and informative lecture from their leader.

"Sounds like a colossal waste of time doesn’t it?"

He goes on to acknowledge the need for large gatherings, but not as the only form of meeting. Periodically it makes sense, but the vast majority of learning takes place in smaller groups and one-on-one.

<idle musing>
I like the analogy. In The Open Church, the author says that about 300 years on the way to the milennium, the wheels fell off the church. He is right, and the current sit, soak and spectate mentality of the church reflects the "wheel-less" church. That is not the church portrayed in the New Testament, and we need to recapture that if we expect Christianity to be taken seriously as a way of life. Flame away!
</idle musing>

New Blog

Accordance Software has a blog. For those of you who don't know, they make Bible software for the Mac. It runs on Linux and PCs under an emulator. It is definitely the best Bible software available, especially if you do original language work, the only one other one that comes close is BibleWorks. By the way, Waltke & O'Connor's Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax is available on both of them as an unlockable module.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Amusement, entertaiment and sports

Jim West posted a very good comment yesterday about frivolity and society. You really should read it, but here is a brief excerpt:

"So why this focus, both today, and next week during the Grammy's, and during the Winter Olympics, and in March and April on the NCAA basketball tournaments, and then during the whole spate of playoffs and awards shows on the not too distant horizon?

"Because we live in a society where nothingness and frivolity are a religion. And where religion itself is frivolous and meaningless. The Church has become the theater and the theater has become the church."

<idle musing>
Sounds like two of the books I recently read, see the sidebar for links:
Amusing Ourselves to Death and Tozer on Entertainment and Worship. You can see my takes on them here and here.

By the way, I removed the link to Velo News. I hadn't been there for a while, and when I did, I realized why. None of it matters. I still love bicycling and continue to ride, but doping and assorted things of that nature have destroyed any desire on my part to follow the professional and competitive side of it.

I kept the Bicycling mag link, since they have links to workouts and things of that nature...
</idle musing>

The Training of the Twelve

I have managed to get almost to page 200 in The Training of the Twelve. It is slow going for several reasons: one, he is so wordy; two, it was written in 1870, so the vocabulary is a bit different and it is periodic style; and third, I haven't had a lot of time to read this week. But I ran across this gem at the end of the chapter entitled "The First Lesson of the Cross."

“For the whole aim of Satanic policy is to get self-interest recognized as the chief end of man. Satan’s temptations aim at nothing worse than this. Satan is called the Prince of this world, because self-interest rules the world: he is called the accuser of the brethren, because he does not believe that even the sons of God have any higher motive. He is a skeptic; and his skepticism consists in determined, scornful unbelief in the reality of any chief end other than that of personal advantage. ‘Doth Job, or even Jesus, serve God for naught? Self-sacrifice, suffering for righteousness’ sake, fidelity to truth even unto death:—it is all romance and youthful sentimentalism, or hypocrisy and hollow cant. There is absolutely no such thing as a surrender of the lower life to the higher; all men are selfish at heart, and have their price; some may hold out longer than others, but in the last extremity every man will prefer his own things to the things of God. All that a man hath will he give for his life, his moral integrity and his piety not excepted.’ Such is Satan’s creed.”

Friday, February 03, 2006

Canaanite Religion according to the Liturgical Texts of Ugarit

I am about done with this very interesting book. It is a very good overview of the Ugaritic ritual texts. The last chapter is titled "Religion of Everyday Life" and discusses what we can glean from the texts concerning everyday life versus ritual life. To do this he goes to the epics and letters, among other texts. But, the interesting observation was on page 324, about the difference in how the gods are portrayed in epic versus myth:

"There is no escaping that in myth, the 'stories' of the gods, the way the various deities behave, is not the same as in epic, which is about humans. Within human destiny and so at the margin of their naturalistic character, the gods are more autonomous, and less hierarchical."

Interesting observation...anyway, the next book I am going to read is one that I wasn't going to until I read the RBL review of it: The Gendered Language of Warfare in the Israelite-Assyrian Encounter. We'll see if the book lives up to the review, found here.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Why is BookNews text instead of HTML?

I have been asked several times to turn the BookNews e-mail into an HTML e-mail. Well, we are considering it, but there are some very good reasons to keep it text, here are two of them:

1. Text is low bandwidth.
We have many customers who still depend on dial-up for their Internet connection, especially non-US customers. We want to respect that and keep the letter low bandwidth for them. I subscribe to several booksellers' and publishers' e-mail lists. One bookseller tends to send huge e-mails, one was nearly a megabyte. That would take a long time to load on dial-up, about 30 minutes.

2. We respect the privacy of our customers.
If an e-mail is HTML, it is possible to embed a piece of code that will "call home" everytime the e-mail is opened. The last place I worked we called them web-bugs. Marketing departments love web-bugs, because using them they can track how many times and by how many different people a marketing e-mail is opened.

At Eisenbrauns, we don't want to invade your privacy, so we don't use them. Even if we do decide to go with HTML mail at some point, we won't embed web-bugs. We are so concerned about your privacy that we don't use cookies on our website without the user's authorization. Because some users demanded it, we now permit a person to choose to set a cookie so that they don't have to remember to log in each time. But, we don't recommend you use that option on any publicly-accessible computer, since anyone using that computer can access your account. Further, we don't rent, sell, lend or otherwise share our e-mail list with anyone.

In an attempt to allow people to see the graphics of the books, we have added a link in our e-mails to our website. The link takes you to a page that displays all the books featured in that e-mail. That way, our low bandwidth customers can choose if they want to access the graphics or not, and our high bandwidth customers don't have to worry about their privacy being compromised.

We were toying with ideas the other day on how best to explain why we use text-only e-mail. Our webmaster had a good idea. Here is how he suggested we talk about text-only BookNews:


100% Fat Free.
No additives

Cute :) What do you think?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

New catalogs

I just sent the next Scholar's Source to the printer on Monday, so it should be in the mail by February 15. Of course, once we get the printed copies I'll make the catalog available for download. Seems like I can never get caught up on catalogs. This one is about 3 weeks behind schedule, and now I have to start on the Biblical Studies catalog. That one is a real monster; the series listings especially, since so many just kind of disappear and others start and the catalog only appears every 2 years. 120 pages of text-only book listings. That's a lot of books. Of course, I remember drooling over it when I would get it in the mail. Now I know how much work goes into making one, and it's easier now with XML than it used to be.

Oh well, off to lunch and then start the process...

By the way, I'm looking for ideas for a 10 day sale after the Bonhoeffer sale. Any ideas? I would like to make it ANE vs. biblical studies, since the last 3 were biblical studies...

February first

New month, new sale. I hope so, anyway :) I won't be announcing it until tomorrow in BookNews, but you get a 30 hour headstart by reading this blog. Don't you feel special?

For the month of February, Eisenbrauns is offering all the titles in the Mesopotamian Civilizations series at 30-50% off. Follow this link: