Friday, August 29, 2008

What happened in Iron Age I?

I've been reading Hess's Israelite Religions lately. Most of it is pretty straight forward interpretaion of the archaeology and comparison with Ugarit, Mari, Ebla, etc. This little paragraph jumped out at me, though:

"With rare exceptions, there are no shrines or temples in the village culture of the Iron Age I highlands in contrast to the proliferation of such in the fortified cities of the Late Bronze Age. This suggests a change from the traditional religious worship of the preceding period to a 'simple, aniconic, noninstitutionalized cult' [Dever]. In addition, the absence of pig bones suggests an ethnic marker for people for whom eating pork is taboo."—Hess, Israelite Religions, page 234

<idle musing>
Something happened! Connect the dots; I happen to believe the dots are best connected by the Hebrew bible :)

Of course, you can choose otherwise, but you still have to explain the change. No, it is not seeking proof to bolster faith; rather, it is faith seeing the evidence and knowing why it is the way it is.
</idle musing>

Get that mouse!

Last night Cindy set a pair of traps:

I'm not sure you can see it, but this trap has a rice cake and peanut butter

This one is just peanut butter

When she came in this morning, the traps were still set, but the rice cake was gone...I told you they were erudite mice! We'll try again tonight.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


We have a mouse or mice in the warehouse! Cindy and Jessica walked into the warehouse the other morning and saw this evidence:

Obviously chocolate lovers! They ate Jessica's rice cakes, too, but I didn't get a picture of that.

Now, they might well be very erudite mice, in fact I suspect they must be, living in Eisenbrauns book shipping warehouse. But! we don't want them chewing up our books as they digest all that knowledge :) So, tonight we will try to get them; here are the tools of the trade:

Peanut butter and mouse traps; can't think of a better way.

Stay tuned for the results—hopefully tomorrow. Of course, I could always bring in our cat instead...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Be a loser

I just was (finally) reading the July issue of Christianity Today yesterday—I know, that was over a month ago now. But at least that means that the articles are online now :) One of the articles was just a page long, actually more of an op-ed or column. I found it very good and forwarded the link to a friend who was going through a tough time at work. I thought others might benefit too, so here it is:

It's amazing—and sobering—to realize that Jacob has the strength to resist God. It isn't until the angel of the Lord dislocates Jacob's hip that Jacob surrenders and requests what he's really been fighting for—a blessing. My husband, a wrestling coach, tells me the hip is the wrestler's pivot point, the core of his strength. God can't give Jacob the blessing he desperately needs until he incapacitates him at the center of his human power...

I don't know that it ever feels good to have our own strength overcome. But if we want to be blessed, if we want to relocate from living in our own resources to resting in the middle of God's goodness, power, and provision, sometimes a little dislocation is necessary.

<idle musing>
Please read the whole article for the full impact.

Of course, my question is always, "Why are you depending on your own strength in the first place?" One of the basic tenets of Christianity is we can't do it, we need God to do it for us, so why do we continue to struggle and strive and generally exhaust ourselves for nothing? Why not just surrender and let God have his way with us from the start?

I know; pride is usually the block, although unbelief runs a close second. Just an
</idle musing>
on a Wednesday morning

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Yes, your comments count

A little over a month ago, I asked for some help on pricing a book from Carta. At the time, the price of the book as $150. Based on feedback, they lowered the price to $124. But, today, I just heard from them again. Based on your feedback, they lowered the price one more time to $98.00. That is a 33% reduction from the original price!

The book is on its way, but still about a month off; it is coming via ship. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, here are the details, once again:

Echoes from the Past
Hebrew and Cognate Inscriptions from the Biblical Period
Carta Handbook
by Shmuel Ahituv
Carta, Jerusalem, Forthcoming September 2008
528 pages + illustrations, English
ISBN: 9789652207081
List Price: $98.00
Your Price: $88.20

Harvest time

Our garden has been a bit slow this year, but over the weekend it decided to explode! Sunday afternoon and evening were full of freezing beans, canning tomatoes, and making bread and butter pickles.

Saturday we made a trip to an orchard and bought a bushel of peaches. Guess what I did last night? No, I didn't eat them all! I canned them. I had forgotten that peaches don't "skin" as easily as tomatoes, and I sure do praise God for freestone peaches! The last canner load finished around 2:15 this morning, but it will be worth it this winter :)

Sleep? Who needs sleep when you can harvest and preserve all night! ZZZZZZZZZ

Monday, August 25, 2008

Quote for the day

Actually, this is so good, I think it could be the quote for the week:

I naturally incline towards viewing Dispensationalism as a breeding ground for freaky and over-zealous biblical interpretation!—Robin Parry, Editor for Paternoster on his blog

By the way, that series is very good.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Well, last night I learned about the herbs and the bees. Yep, you read that right.

We have an herb garden that is 8 feet by 8 feet. It contains mint, chives, parsley, sweet basil, and oregano. It has been very dry here lately, so I was watering it last night. Little did I know that a nest of yellow jackets had been created under one of the oregano plants! As I started watering the oregano, the bees decided I was attacking their home and they attacked me.

I dropped the hose very quickly and started swatting and ran toward the house. They followed :( I managed to get inside the house with only two inside my shirt—one stung me, the other one didn't get a chance. I ended up with 4 stings, one on each hand, one on my cheek and one under the arm pit. I got my wedding ring off quickly before the swelling made it impossible to get off.

My right hand puffed up significantly, and my left hand by the ring finger and pinky got pretty large, too. The other two stings weren't bad. Today the swelling is down, but still quite noticeable—and they itch! At least I'm not allergic to them.

So, now you understand why I say that I learned about the herbs and the bees...

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Yesterday I mentioned that orthopraxy is more important than orthodoxy. Does that mean I am going down the path of legalism and works righteousness? μὴ γένοιτο! If you read on, you will see that I said it has to be all grace all the time.

We can no more live the Christian life without the Holy Spirit than we can change the course of the planets. All we can do on our own is what we do best—rebel against our creator. Does that mean I am now saying that Calvin was right and we are consigned to hell except for the "elect"? μὴ γένοιτο! I believe in free grace for all. Everyone is repeatedly offered the chance to repent and believe—daily, even every second. How we choose to respond to that offered grace is the deciding factor.

A life of holiness and righteousness is all the result of dying to self and allowing the true life of Jesus Christ, via the Holy Spirit, to flow in us and through us. Of course, if you take Paul seriously in Romans and Colossians, he will tell you that we died with Christ and so it is a matter of believing what God says is true, i.e., you aredead. It is now the life of Christ that is to empower you. Anything else is dead works and a lie...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

They will know you are my disciples...

by your correct doctrine and heresy hunting abilities. You will put the Pharisees to shame with your self-righteousness. NOT!!

<idle musing>
But, that is how many Christians act, most recently in the Todd Bentley situation. I am not going to defend his actions; he stands before God and his board is holding him accountable. What I am talking about is the lack of love in many people's actions. Back in June I posted a link to a friend of mine's theological defense. What I didn't post subsequently is the backlash against Gary by the heresy hunters—supposed Christians... Somehow they discovered his private e-mail address, his personal cell phone number, his home number, in addition to his work e-mail and phone number. They called all the numbers repeatedly, at times reducing his wife to tears. The Pharisees would be proud of them! But, they were doing it for God, therefore they could do whatever they wanted, right? Wrong!

Listen up, folks! Orthodoxy (correct doctrine) is important, but orthopraxy (correct practice) is far more important. Yesterday I took to task the people who wear their spiritual gifts as badges, today I am talking about those who wear their correct doctrine as a badge. Both are in danger of judgment. Both need Jesus—we all need Jesus! There is no way anybody can live the Christian life. It has to be God, via the Holy Spirit, living through them; all grace, all the time!

By the way, the correct quote is "by our love for one another." I am a firm believer in speaking the truth in love; you can't serve God via a lie. But, you have to get both halves right: the truth—and love. Either one without the other is a problem.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Banana chips!

No, not those horrendous things that they sell in the store that are tasteless! But, home dried ones. Oops, nothing like jumping in medias res...

About 25 or so years ago, we received a gift of a food dehydrator. It served us well for many years. One of the things we loved the most was dehydrated bananas. Take a banana, cut it into about 18-22 slices and dry it for about 20 hours at 120 F. Then, peal them off the trays and enjoy a burst of banana flavor. Delicious.

Sadly, the dehydrator died about 10 years ago. We couldn't justify replacing it; at the time the only ones we could find ran about $200! But, this summer we bought a new one for about $60. It is modular, allowing you to add trays as needed (you can see it here). Well, we finally got around to using it Sunday night to dry a few bananas. Last night we pealed them off and tasted them. Yep! Still good. So, now I can buy those over-ripe bananas at a fraction of the full cost and dry them. You really should try one sometime...

De spiritalibus

<idle musing>
Poor Paul! About 1950 years ago he penned a letter that contained the sentence "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be uninformed." (RSV) From there he launches into a 3 chapter exposition on "Charismata" which has been misunderstood, misapplied and generally caused all kinds of chaos..

I am only going to make a few observations here, not a general exegesis—you can consult the commentaries and find out all the disagreement you want :(

First: They are gifts, not badges, not signs of spiritual maturity, not licenses to do what you want and brow-beat people into submitting to you. A gift is not earned, deserved, or otherwise given with a stipulation. Just because someone has the gift of healing does not mean they are spiritually mature! Please, understand this point! I have seen gifts used as spiritual badges too many times over the years. They are given for the edification of the body of Christ, not the glorification of an individual.

Second (and this follows from the preceding): Just because someone has a gift that is highly regarded doesn't mean they won't come into judgment! Look at Jesus warnings in the gospels. How many times does he warn that many doing mightly works, such as healings, exorcisms, etc., will be told "I never knew you." Holiness is taken seriously by God. Revivals are wonderful, and I praise God for them. But, if a revival does not result in a deeper understanding of the holiness of God, then it was a failure, no matter how many people were wowed, "saved," or healed. But, mind you, that is not God's fault! It is the fault of our sensationalistic mindset that wants just enough of God to get a high. I became a Christian during the Jesus Movement of the 1970's; more than a few people "came to Jesus" for the spiritual high that it gave them. When the high wore off, they were gone.

Finally: Why is it that people love to accept a "word from the Lord" when it is positive, but when that same person who was so readily embraced offers a word of correction... Well, obviously they are being judgmental or critical. Wake up folks! Prophecy is given to the body of Christ for the edification of the body of Christ. Sometimes edification can only happen by pulling down the bad structure so the Holy Spirit can rebuild with good material. Look at the prophets in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. How often did they upbraid the Israelites as opposed to giving them prophecies of prosperity? It is interesting that the only ones who prophesied food and drink were the false prophets!

Am I down on Charismata? Absolutely not! I have never been a cessationist, but I have been disillusioned by what fallen humanity does with the gifts. I believe they are valid gifts given by God to the church. They are used by God to show fallen humanity that there is a creator, he is alive, active, and he cares for this fallen world.
</idle musing>

Friday, August 15, 2008

Twinkies taste test, the movie

As you know, at Eisenbrauns, we are always interested in archaeology and history. We've expanded that a bit. Three years ago Marti, our customer service manager, set aside 5 Twinkies to test the unlimited shelf life urban legend. Here's the promised video of year 3...

Remember, this was started long before Wall-E hit the theaters...

Thursday, August 14, 2008


So, my project off and on this summer has been painting the barn. It has been more off than on most of the summer :) But, this last weekend I finally finished it. I thought I had a picture from before, but all I could find was this one with snow:

Here is what it looks like now:

What do you think?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Twinkie time again

Last year and in 2006 we taste-tested Twinkies™ that had expired. It's that time again!

Here is a picture of the poor thing:

This Twinkie™ is now 3 years past its expiration date. I think it is safe to say that Twinkies™ do not have an indefinite shelf life! It looks ok, but it is hard and, well, almost inedible. I hope to upload a video of the taste test to You Tube—I'll let you know. But, in the meantime, I do think I have an idea for a new Veggie Tales™ episode:

Scissors in the Twinkie (instead of Sword in the Stone...)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A present God?

Alan Knox asks a good question, which has been a concern of mine for many years.

<idle musing>
Do we live as if God is close, or far away from us? We say we believe in a present God, but our actions frequently betray us... Sure, we believe God can heal—somebody else, somewhere else. Sure, we believe that God answers prayer—just someone else's somewhere else, probably in the two-thirds world.
</idle musing>

Monday, August 11, 2008

The sky is falling!

<idle musing>
Yes, it really is! At least, it was last night when we went for a walk. I know the annual Perseid meteor shower isn't "officially" here until tomorrow night, but last night we saw about 10 meteorites in 15 minutes on our walk. The sky was clear, the temperature was about 59 F, and the meteors decided to grace our walk with a light show. I wonder if that means the "official" shower will be better than usual this year?
</idle musing>

Thursday, August 07, 2008

War in the Bible...

<idle musing>
As you probably guessed by the lack of quotes from the book War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century, I finished it. It was stimulating and thought-provoking, as it should be. I still am convinced that the pacifist stance is the most compelling; all the caveats and conditions necessary for a just war position just don't seem right. But, the church has been arguing about war and pacifism for about 1800 years now, so I don't expect everyone to agree with me.

I have been a pacifist ever since I became a Christian, over 34 years ago now. But, the one thing this book presented to me was the necessity of working for just peace. Just peace is something that both just war advocates and pacifists can get behind. There is not true peace without justice, because true peace is more than the absence of war.

If you only read one chapter in this book, it should be the one on just peace making. Fittingly, it is the final chapter of the book. Eisenbrauns offers it at a 10% discount everyday. Or, if you want, wait until AAR or SBL in November and get it for 30% off.

Interestingly, we gave away a copy at the ATLA meeting in Ottawa. The book is edited by Rick Hess, of Denver Seminary. Guess which seminary library won the book? Yep, Denver Seminary. They already have a few copies in their library. I guess this is a case of the rich get richer...
</idle musing>

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The cat's a mouser

<idle musing>
Sunday night, as I was cutting the tops off the onions, the kitty was sitting on the driveway. We have a bug zapper on the front of the garage, and she seemed to be watching the bugs fry. All of a sudden, she gets up and runs toward the garage. I figured she was going to play with the June bugs; she does that a lot. But, then she came running toward the porch and I saw a fuzzy thing in her mouth. It was a mouse! The tail was hanging out of her mouth as she ran past me under her favorite bush.

A short time later, she reappeared and sat back down on the driveway as if nothing had happened. About a half hour later, she got up, ran to the garage, and came running back toward the porch. Another mouse! This time, all I could see was the tail hanging out of her mouth. She disappeared under her favorite bush again, only to re-emerge about 5 minutes later. Nice meal, I guess!

I knew we had mice, they had gotten into some stuff in the garage over the winter. I don't think we will have a problem like that this winter :)
</idle musing>

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


<idle musing>
We planted a garden this year for the first time in a while. It's nice having fresh produce just outside the door. One of the things we planted was red onions—about 2 pounds of onion sets. We like onions :)

I harvested about a third of them in July, but Sunday night I pulled most of the rest of them. About 20 pounds worth! That's a lot of onions. We cut them up and freeze them for use on pizza or in stuff. So, Sunday night I sat on the porch and cut the tops off and peeled the outer layer off of them.

While I was doing that, Debbie made onions and potatoes. Most people have potatoes and onions, but we have onions with some potatoes added. Did I mention that we like onions?

It took a while to cut the tops off and peel the onions, so it got too late to cut them up. Instead we put them in a crisper drawer in our refrigerator. It filled up the entire drawer—even after using about 10 of them for onions and potatoes.

Monday night, after dark, I started cutting them up. While the thunderstorm rattled the windows, I cut up onions. While the power flashed on and off, I cut up onions. Did I mention that there are a lot of onions? I managed to get about ½ to 2/3 of them cut up before I quit for the night. I bagged them in snack sized bags, put those bags inside a freezer bag, about 12-15 to a bag. Then I put that freezer bag inside another freezer bag. We don't want our beans, blueberries, and strawberries to taste like onions.

I think I will be able to finish them tonight. Did I mention that there are a lot of onions?
</idle musing>

Monday, August 04, 2008

August sale response

Wow! All the research says never send a sale e-mail on Friday. The research says the results will be terrible and you will regret it. Guess what. The research is wrong!

I sent out the BookNews for August's sale last Friday afternoon. It didn't take long for the word to spread in the biblioblog community either; so far I counted four posts mentioning it (I still lead the referring sites—clear proof that mine is the most popular biblioblog! Take that, Nick). I can't believe the response. I just looked at the Google Analytics figures, and the only things that have generated more interest than the August sale are our Valentine's Day contest, and our traditional April first post.

So far the record for the most books is 28. Can you imagine? 28 books out of 60. I wonder why they quit at 28 :)

Thanks to all of you who have visited our sale.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Latest BHQ volume

The latest BHQ volume has just been announced:


Biblia Hebraica Quinta - BHQ 17
Edited by J. de Waard
Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft Stuttgart, Forthcoming November 2008
ca. 160 pages, Hebrew
Paper, 6 x 9
ISBN: 9783438052773
List Price: $98.00
Your Price: $73.50

I just found out about it yesterday; nobody else seems to have it listed yet...guess that's what happens when you love the books you sell. It isn't just a job :)

August sale

Hey, everybody, the August sale is up at Eisenbrauns!

You are going to love this sale. Here is the official blurb:

For the month of August, we are offering 60 titles at discounts ranging from 60-80% off retail. Put another way, the books are on sale from $6.89 to $29.85, with most being between $8.00-$15.00. At these prices you won't have to choose between books and gas!

Ok, the last sentence is my poor attempt at an allusion to Erasmus' famous line, "When I have money, I buy books. If I have any left, I buy food." Did anybody catch it? I didn't think so. Now you know why I am a bookseller and not a comedian. Anyway, check out all 60 titles here. Only two are actually at 60%, the rest are at 70-80%, but it wouldn't have the same ring to it to say, "60 titles, most at 70-80% off." "60 at 60% or better" just sounds better, at least I think so.