Friday, November 28, 2008

Is knowledge bad?

By their disobedience, the first humans attained wisdom but lost the chance for immortality. By obedience, they would have won both: immortality and wisdom. This observation shows me that the Eden Narrative is not a divine assessment of wisdom (knowledge) in negative terms but a divine lesson on the ultimate priorities that should prevail: first, obedience to the commandment, then all the rest following as a free gift (compare with Matt 6:33). In my first chapter, I quoted James Barr, who asked what was wrong with the knowledge of good and evil that God did not want the first humans to have it. My answer is: nothing! The narrator presents God as giving them the possibility of achieving both—by obedience to the divine commandment.—Mettinger in The Eden Narrative, page 130

<idle musing>
That is still true today. Knowledge without obedience is empty and puffs up; knowledge with obedience is freeing and life-giving. What does I Corinthians 13 say? “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” RSV
</idle musing>

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Nonsense, but funny

OK, this doesn't advance the argument of the book, but I found it funny. You might not, but such honesty on the part of an academic book is refreshing...

Before leaving the question of theme in Genesis 2–3, we must comment on the two trees—trees that produced not only such palatable fruit as knowledge and immortality but also an amazing quantity of secondary literature.—Mettinger in The Eden Narrative, page 60

That's it, shows over :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Paperback Greek Reader

I got to see the new paperback UBS Greek New Testament. It is about the same size as the Novum Testamentum Graece standard edition. Otherwise, it is just like the cloth one.

Here are a few pictures:

The cover

Here it is open, with a pen in the gutter to show you the size:

Disinterested Piety

A comparison with the book of Job seems natural at this point. Here, too, we have a divine test but without the proper terminology. Here the Satan persuades God to test pious Job. The purpose of this test is to ascertain whether Job’s piety is disinterested, unselfish piety or not: “Does Job fear God for nothing?” ( Job 1:9). The key word is h.innam ‘for nothing’. The Eden Narrative tells about an analogous case. Not knowing about the potential reward—being allowed to eat from the tree of life—the two humans are asked for obedience, obedience that is not contingent on reward. They are asked for what will ultimately be disinterested piety—just as in the case of Job.—Mettinger in The Eden Narrative, page 55

<idle musing>
Just as I said yesterday, obedience for the sake of obedience, but I do like the phrase disinterested piety
</idle musing>

SBL Day 4

Last day. I realized that I had forgotten to send BookNews yesterday, so I sent that off. The last day is always interesting; you never know what to expect. You know that Brill and Oxford are going to run a last day special and that there will be a line at the door. You just never know how long the line will be. Since I saw so many suitcases yesterday, I figured the lines would be short, and they were. Last year there were probably 200 people waiting, but this year only saw about 50.

I spent the early part of the morning checking with Mohr Siebeck and Deo to make sure that the books we were taking back with us were going to be ready. With Mohr Siebeck, I have to decide which series to take, since they have some that don't sell for us.

I also made a last run through the hall to make sure I hadn't missed any books that I can't live without :) Every year I say that I won't be bringing as many books home as I took. Every year, I end up being wrong. This year was no exception. You'll hear about them here as I read them.

The morning was slower; most people seemed to have left already. We started consolidating and putting bookstands away; it helps with tear down to do that ahead of time. Some of the smaller publishers started tearing down and leaving, but we stayed open and selling until after closing. Allan got the idea of turning himself into a walking billboard for Eisenbrauns. Merna made two signs, one for front and back, and pinned them to him. He just had surgery, so he is using a crutch. It was funny to watch him walking up and down the hall with the crutch and sign. A few other publishers asked if they could rent space on him, too. We all had a good laugh, but I doubt it made a difference in sales.

Dave and I had to catch an early flight, so anything that we could do to make it quicker, while still being able to sell, helped. When I left at a little after 1:00, we were well ahead of schedule. Having Johanna and Allan definitely helped.

When we got to the airport and were checking in, the attendant noticed that Dave's driver's license was expired. Good thing they didn't notice it at O'Hare on the way out, we might have missed our flight! They gave his the royal treatment—patting him down, going through everything, the whole deal. Me, I just went through security as usual. Once Dave finally got through, we reunited and had a late lunch and waited for our flight. They are calling us to board right now, so I am signing off.

Later, in flight. The flight is very bumpy. The pilot just announced that the worst was behind us and we would be going faster to make up for lost time. But, as is sure to happen, it suddenly became even bumpier! No pretzels and drinks this flight :) We will be landing at Newark soon for a two hour layover, and then catching our flight to O'Hare. Dave just told me that he forgot and put his keys in the suitcase, so I hope our luggage doesn't take the scenic route. I don't relish the idea of spending the night in Chicago if it does!

SBL Day 3

The last full day. There were even less people in the workout room than yesterday, if that is possible. There were only two people when I got there at 6:10, and no one came in at 6:30. Strange. I don't recall a conference with this few people doing a workout.

The hall was busy pretty much all day, but you could definitely tell when sessions ended. There would be this sudden influx of people and the lines would get longer. I don't remember seeing as many people hauling suitcases around as I saw today. That could mean a slow day tomorrow.

Two of the exhibitors—IVP and Abingdon—had stuff missing. Somehow the freight company managed to lose 5 pallets worth of books that IVP had sent to the show. They still haven't found them. All the books in IVP's booth either came from ETS, or were sent next day air from their warehouse. That explains why some titles that I would have expected to see were missing. At this point, I think they hope the product isn't found, so they can at least get an insurance claim. Can you imagine if they tried to deliver it to the conference hall on the last day?

Abingdon lost their Skyline display. For those of you who don't know what that means, Skyline is the company that makes the backdrops that you see in many booths. They aren't cheap, costing about a thousand dollars each. The advantage is that they are light, pack very nicely into sturdy travel cases, and are fast and easy to set up. The backdrop that Eisenbrauns uses is a Skyline. I can't imagine what we would do if our Skyline didn't show up.

We lost a portable hand truck. It was stolen from the pallet on the way to ASOR. It's only worth about a hundred dollars, but it is frustrating and an inconvenience when you are trying to move several boxes to other areas. You have to make multiple trips, carrying one box at a time. That is the second one that has been stolen in the last 4 years. But, compared to not having any product in the booth, our loss is nothing!

Jim and Merna's daughter and son-in-law, Johanna and Allan, joined us to help for the last two days. They live in the area and drove up. Allan is always fun to talk to; he is a programmer/geek/open source guy, so we speak a lot of the same language.

We always have our Eisenbrauns employee dinner on Monday night. The other nights there is no guarantee that we will be together, what with Jim going one way and me another. This year we actually all ate together both Sunday and Monday, but that rarely happens. We went to Legal Seafood, which of course begs the question of where do you get illegal seafood. We had reservations, which was a good thing because it was packed. With good reason, too. The food was very good, with much of it.

After we got back to the room, it was the pack up, get ready to fly out tomorrow routine. Dave totaled the day's orders while I went over the previous days' orders looking for for certain titles that I have to flag for special handling.

By the time all that was over, it was already 12:30. So much for an early night :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Test

In his literary strategy, the narrator has God plant two trees and arrange a test—a test of obedience. God denies one tree to the humans. The reader may infer that the outcome of this test somehow decides the humans’ access to the other tree—the tree of life. It is then interesting to note that there is no sign that the man and the woman knew anything about the existence of a tree of life. And apparently they did not know that they were passing a test and that obedience to the commandment would be rewarded with the gift of eating from the tree of life.—Mettinger in The Eden Narrative, page 37 (italics his)

<idle musing>
Obedience for the sake of obedience. Not obedience for the sake of a reward. But, isn't that the only true kind of obedience? Obeying for the sake of a reward is just playing the game to get the reward, it isn't true obedience.
</idle musing>

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Eden Narrative

With the prohibition of one of the two trees (2:17), God confronts man with a test, an important but surprisingly neglected feature of the text. The Hebrew text of the Eden Narrative does not use the specific term for testing (Hebrew nsh in the Piel). One might therefore hesitate to speak of a test in the present text. The important thing, however, is not whether we have the precise terminology but whether the plot confronts us with what may be denoted as a test, and I believe this is precisely the case. God arranges an experiment with the first humans: he proclaims his divine commandment in the form of a prohibition, and then he waits to see whether the two humans will obey or not.—Mettinger in The Eden Narrative, page 23
<idle musing>
Interesting view, isn't it? Changes the way you look at the whole thing.
</idle musing>

And the repercussions begin

from the way some pastors voted on November 4th, that is. There is a heartbreaking letter on Jesus Creed from a pastor whose vote became known to his congregation:

In the days after the vote, many within my church came to know of my voting decision as well as my wife's vote which was the same.  It wasn't something I was declaring but it became known.  Since then I'm aware of a few families that are leaving our church and another that is close.  I am in shock.  I have been living life with these families.  Our values declared by our life and words.  They've seen us pursue doing foster care.  They've seen my wife, me, and our teenage son continually pursue ways to help the homeless in our community.  They've heard me teach.  In the end, their perception is now that I am pro-abortion.  I've been told that I have likely disqualified myself from the pastorate.  We are heartbroken.  I can't eat.  I've missed work.  I'm utterly devastated by what my choice may do to our community of faith.  We are not a big church so weathering storms like this gets very personal. 
I guess my question is this, have I missed something?  Have I entered into this decision unaware as to the expectation on pastors in regards to how they vote?  Right now we feel very alone.  To see people who have lived life with me for years suddenly doubt my heart.  They've seen my core values displayed in our choices and sacrifices.  All of that has become void.  Filling in a certain box with a marker has completely changed how they see me. 

Wow! So Christianity has boiled down to a single issue in some people's minds. That is terribly sad to me. To be “pro-life” is a lot more than to be anti-abortion!

Two days later Scot posted his reply, to which I give a hearty AMEN! Read the whole thing, because if I tried to excerpt it, I would destroy it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

SBL Day 2

Lots of meetings with vendors. Here is a brief listing of some highlights of today:

I got an extra allowance from Continuum, so watch for a good sale on some of their books in December.

Olive Tree is doing a real nice implementation on the I-Phone. You should see their Hebrew font. Nice.

We just signed a distribution agreement with Deo Publishing. We will be distributing their titles in North America starting sometime in December. We'll be making a formal announcement in January and running a sale on their titles then.

We had the awarding of the Shalom Paul Festschrift in our booth at noon. The aisle filled up with people and all traffic stopped for a good 15-20 minutes. Dave and I took pictures of it to give to him later. Dave ended up taking most of them because I had a lunch appointment with Michael Thomson of Eerdmans. They have a nice list coming out this Spring. He is now officially an editor, so he won't be in Sales anymore.

We signed up for our booths in New Orleans today. We are taking 8 booths next year, up from 6 this year. We need one extra for Deo, and the other one is so that Jim and I can have meetings without running all over the exhibit hall. Actually, the people in the booth put it a bit differently. Basically they said they were going to put us in leg irons and pin us into that booth so we would be around when people came looking for us :)

The exhibit hall was busy again today, but not quite as busy as yesterday. Because I was running around all day, I didn't get to spend as much time in the booth as yesterday.

Tonight I attended the WJK and Hendrickson receptions. Had some good discussions with people. One of the things we talked about was the following
<idle musing>
I had a chance to pray with some people in the last two days. Seems odd, but that doesn't happen much at a conference on biblical literature. Why is it that it is so uncommon that I have to notice it when it does happen?

On that same note, last night at one of the receptions I was talking to a sociologist who told me that he loves to watch the crowds at the receptions. He said that the dynamic most interesting to him was that when people met the preponderance of the first person pronoun—I'm doing this, I'm doing that. He said he only noticed it at academic conferences. I had to think about that for a minute, but he is right. It isn't the conversation of normal life. Is it narcissistic? I don't know, just asking.

Seems a bit ironic that a discipline dedicated to studying the biblical texts misses the idea of God being the center of the universe. We are the created, he is the creator.

Just an
</idle musing>

Saturday, November 22, 2008

SBL Day 1

Wow! That's all I can say about the first day. After coming from the deadness that was AAR, the liveliness at SBL is refreshing. There was a line to get in before the hall opened, which any other year I would take for granted, but not this year! It remained busy most of the day, with just a few slower moments. At the end of the day, they had to kick customers out. Makes a bookseller happy to see that people want our wares.

The mugs are definitely a hit. I brought 8 boxes, thinking that would be sufficient. By the end of the day, we were down to 2 boxes. I can clearly see that they aren't going to last the rest of the conference. So, if you don't have one yet, you had better swing by tomorrow and spend the $100.00 for a free one because once they are gone, they are gone. At this rate, this mug will go into a second printing, too, just like the cuneiform one.

I met lots of you who told me that you follow my blog, and some that told me they enjoy it :) Seriously, I am humbled to think that you find something here worth reading. I try to remain transparent about who I am and what I do, and it is encouraging to hear that it resonates with you.

The rest of this is just ramblings of what has happened in the last 24 or so hours.

After set up yesterday afternoon, I got a chance to walk around Boston. I took the Freedom Trail and saw the historic sites. I thought it was a loop 2.5 miles long, but it ended up being more of a circle with a tail. I think I ended up walking about 5-6 miles, since the trail started about a mile from the hotel. But, it was refreshing and invigorating. I ended up in a nice Borders Bookstore—an important part of any historical tour, right?

After that, I went to the ATB (Association of Theological Booksellers) meeting. They meet every year on Friday, and I try to get there, if I can. It is always good to share war stories and ideas—with the emphasis on ideas. Besides, Charles always orders a good pizza :)

The day started early with a workout on the recumbent bicycle. I usually try to get to the workout room before 6:15 because of the rush at 6:30. Well, today there was no rush. In fact, by 6:45, there were only 4 of us in there. I'm left wondering why. Is it because Boston is a nice place to walk/run, so people don't need to work out inside? My first thought was that nobody was really coming to SBL, but the exhibit hall definitely proved that wrong!

After the exhibit hall closed, I went to the ATLA reception and enjoyed the company of some librarians for a while. They had been touring libraries in the area all day and come to the conclusion that a seminary couldn't be built anywhere other than the top of a hill. Im fairly sure they are wrong...

Right now I am sitting in the mall of the convention center, hoping that my battery doesn't die. In about 15 minutes I head over to the Baker/Brazos reception. After that, I think I will go back to the hotel room and read for a bit. Tomorrow comes early.

Well, I didn't go right back to the hotel. I ended up going to the Fortress Press reception after the Baker one. I finally headed back to the hotel around 11:15. Tomorrow (Sunday) I have a 7:30 breakfast meeting. It will be a day of many meetings, so I will be in and out of the booth all day.

Friday, November 21, 2008

SBL days -1 and 0

Day minus one is travel day—that was yesterday, Thursday. We left at a little after 9:00, drove to O'Hare, flew to Cleveland, waited an hour and flew to Boston. Total transit time: 9 hours. Total time in the air: 2.5 hours. Total drive time:4 hours. The rest was time in the airports.

They have put all the exhibitors up in the Colonnade Hotel. We are on the 8th floor, and the view is wonderful: I see right into a Barnes and Noble! What better view could a bibliophile want? I spent about 2 hours there last night.

The hotel is nice, but the drawers in the dresser are unusable. They are about 1/2 the normal size. Take a look:

OK, maybe the picture doesn't show it very clearly.

Anyway, today we did the setup thing. It went very smoothly, despite a slight glitch at the beginning: they forgot to put carpet in the booth! Yikes! And, they mixed our skids of stuff with the Zondervan stuff. We had a good time straightening it out, until the convention center people decided it was their job to sort it out. From there, it went well.

Here are some pictures for your pleasure:

No carpeting!

What are we going to do with all those tables?

Too many books! Look at all those new releases; so many the table is sagging:

What is the church to do?

A great reflection on what God might be doing it the current economic meltdown over at Out of Ur :

Sure it’s easy to shamelessly wag our finger at Wall Street bankers, traders, and lenders. Their avarice, greed, and ostentatious ways are notorious. But before we strain our finger, let’s not forgot who they’ve been working for. We’re also involved in their trades, their transactions, and the thirst for MORE. The hard reality is, we are Wall Street. We are the lenders, we are the traders, and now we are the debtors.

The church is not untainted by this. I understand a need to be a healthy and purposeful church, but have we gone overboard with our focus on formulas, numbers, size, influence, marketing techniques, and branding? Have we forgotten what makes the church the church? At the end of the day, are we really driven by God’s heart? Are we really motivated by Christ’s love and not the money or the numbers?

Ouch! But he doesn't stop there...

While in Thailand, the Muslims we worked with on one of the southern islands were sick of the Western “help” they received. They said after the tsunami, “western Christians came to give us things without asking what we needed, and then they took pictures with their banners and left.” Their conclusion, “The Christians used us.”

Double ouch! Kick us while we are down, why don't you?

But, he still isn't done:

Love not the world. Neither the things in the world. For anyone that loves the world, the love of the Father is not in Him. For all that is in the world,

The Lust of the Flesh.

The Lust of the Eyes.

And the Pride of Life.

Is not of the Father but is of the world.

And the world passes away and the lusts thereof. . . But he that does the will of God abides forever. (I John 2:15-17)

<idle musing>
Dead on! May the love of the Father abide in us and control us. May others see that love and want to love the Father also. If that happens, any economic downturn is worth it.
</idle musing>

Why did Christ come?

“There are two distinct views of salvation entertained by professing Christians. Correspondingly, there are two distinct classes of believers, often within the same church. The one class of believers sees the Gospel as a salvation from sin. They think more of this aspect of the Gospel and value it more than the hope of heaven or of earth. The great thing with them is to realize the idea of deliverance from sin. This is the charm and glory of the Gospel. They seek freedom from sin more than to be saved from hell. They care more to be saved from sin itself than from its consequences. They think and pray very little about the consequences of sin. It is their glory and their joy that Christ was sent to deliver them from their bondage in iniquity, to lift them up from their wretched state and give them the liberty of love. This they labor to realize; this is to them the Good News of Gospel salvation.

“Believers in the other class are mostly anxious to be saved from hell. The punishment due for sin is the thing they chiefly fear. In fact, fear has been mainly the reason for their religious efforts. The Gospel is not thought of as a means of deliverance from sin, but as a great system that takes away the fear and danger of damnation, though it leaves them still in their sin. They seem not to notice that a scheme of salvation that removes the fear of damnation for sin, that leaves them still in their sins to live for themselves, and that maintains the belief that Christ will in the end bring them to heaven (despite their having lived in sin all their days), is a compromise on a most magnificent scale. By virtue of it, the whole church is expected to wallow on in sin through life, and be no less sure of heaven in the end.

“You will find these opposing views everywhere as you go among the churches. Many people in the church are altogether worldly and selfish; they live conformed to the world and negligent of their duties.”—Charles Finney, God's Call, pages 220-221

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Salvation from sin, or salvation from hell?

“There are two distinct views of salvation entertained by professing Christians. Correspondingly, there are two distinct classes of believers, often within the same church. The one class of believers sees the Gospel as a salvation from sin. They think more of this aspect of the Gospel and value it more than the hope of heaven or of earth. The great thing with them is to realize the idea of deliverance from sin. This is the charm and glory of the Gospel. They seek freedom from sin more than to be saved from hell. They care more to be saved from sin itself than from its consequences. They think and pray very little about the consequences of sin. It is their glory and their joy that Christ was sent to deliver them from their bondage in iniquity, to lift them up from their wretched state and give them the liberty of love. This they labor to realize; this is to them the Good News of Gospel salvation.

“Believers in the other class are mostly anxious to be saved from hell. The punishment due for sin is the thing they chiefly fear. In fact, fear has been mainly the reason for their religious efforts. The Gospel is not thought of as a means of deliverance from sin, but as a great system that takes away the fear and danger of damnation, though it leaves them still in their sin. They seem not to notice that a scheme of salvation that removes the fear of damnation for sin, that leaves them still in their sins to live for themselves, and that maintains the belief that Christ will in the end bring them to heaven (despite their having lived in sin all their days), is a compromise on a most magnificent scale. By virtue of it, the whole church is expected to wallow on in sin through life, and be no less sure of heaven in the end.

“You will find these opposing views everywhere as you go among the churches. Many people in the church are altogether worldly and selfish; they live conformed to the world and negligent of their duties.”—Charles Finney, God's Call, pages 220-221

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Free from sin, not just sins

“To teach that such an expectation [freedom from living is continual sin] is a dangerous error is to teach unbelief. What if the apostle had added to this command—which requires us to account ourselves “dead indeed to sin, but alive to God”—the following statement: 'Yet let me warn you: nobody can rationally hope to be free from sin in this world. You must remember that to entertain such an expectation as God commands in these words is a dangerous error.' What would be thought of this if it were attached to Romans 6:11?

No man can deny that the passage speaks of sanctification, of being holy before God. Te whole question is , Will Christians “continue in sin” (Romans 6:1) after having been forgiven and accepted by their Redeemer? Paul labored to show that they may die to sin, even as Christ died for sin. He also explained that they may live a new, spiritual life, through faith in His grace, even as Christ lives a higher and more glorious life.”—Charles Finney, God's Call, pages 212-13

Review of Campbell's Basics of Verbal Aspect

This is a guest post by Dr. Carl Conrad, one of the moderators on B-Greek, and a Greek professor for many years. I was thinking about doing a review, but Dr. Conrad says essentially the same thing I would, only much better and in greater detail, with more learning to add punch to it.

There has been a great deal of hoopla over the last week surrounding the publication of the new Con Campbell book, Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek: a flurry of reviews (several by students) and a series of blog posts by the author himself, all conveniently listed on the Koinonia site.

I might have felt there was more justification for the hoopla if the book had been titled something like, “Verbal aspect in Biblical Greek: a perspective on the controversy.” But what we are offered appears to be seriously intended as a textbook (with exercises and a key to the exercises) for use in the classroom for intermediate Biblical Greek classes, perhaps supplementing Dan Wallace’s Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics. The marketing of such a textbook would seem to imply that the dust has settled on the controversy regarding verbal aspect and that there is now the sort of consensus on the matter making possible what is termed, in the preface of the little book, “an introduction, a textbook, a way in for nonspecialists.”

I really do not believe that the dust has settled on aspect studies sufficiently to say there is much of a scientific or even a more-or-less clear and intelligible doctrine of Greek Verbal Aspect. That is not to say that I don't think some questions regarding verbal aspect have found some resolution and that some pedagogical errors of years gone by (e.g. the "once-for-all-time aorist") have been shown the door. There are some items on which there is general agreement and it is good to have these clearly presented and clarified with the aid of a consistently-applied analogy of how a spectator views a procession as a whole event or as an ongoing process of which only a nearer or more distant perspective is accessible.

My own thinking is that the distinction between Perfective Aspect (Aorist) and Imperfective Aspect (Present, Imperfect) is valid and useful, and I am comfortable with the clarification that "Perfective aspect" means a view of the verbal action or process as a whole and external, while "Imperfective aspect" means a view of the verbal action or process as internal or within the transpiring process. I think that the category termed Aktionsart is indeed useful to characterize particular verbs as "iterative" or "punctiliar" or "progressive"; indeed, I think the category is also useful toward understanding the way voice works in the Greek verb.

Perfect and Pluperfect "tenses" seem to be problematic for a doctrine of verbal aspect: I can see that calling them "Stative" makes sense to some extent, and I can see why some would like to assert that they are really Imperfective. I think, however, that the problem is complicated (1) by the number of instances of οἶδα and ἕστηκα and the pluperfects εἴδειν and εἱστήκειν and their compounds, since they do in fact indicate "knowing" and "standing" as would present and imperfect forms and (2) by the fact that Biblical Greek is a language in flux and that the older perfect and aorist tenses are on their way to merging in the same fashion as they have merged in Latin: the Koine aorist often enough functions like a perfect or a pluperfect tense and there are instances where it would appear that a perfect tense form functions pretty much as does an aorist to indicate completed action. I don't think anything useful is accomplished by attempting to force the perfect-tense forms into the "Imperfective" pigeonhole.

As for the assertion that time is a metaphor and that the best way to understand temporal reference in Greek verbs is in terms of a metaphorical spatial proximity and remoteness, it seems to me an interesting theory, an interesting way of looking at it, but I really believe that ancient Greeks in the Biblical era as well as before and afterwards were thinking pretty much in terms of what we mean by time present, past, and future. What I would like to see explored, however, is some rationale for the fact that present and past counterfactual conditions are conveyed in ancient Greek by the indicative imperfect and aorist tense-forms respectively.

I am still inclined to think that the student learning important Greek verbs would do well to read carefully through the lexical entries for important verbs and note the range of forms in which they most commonly appear as well as the contexts in which their important senses occur. Reading voluminously helps too. The old Latin proverb is discimus agere agendo ("we learn to do by doing") which has corollaries for language-learning: discimus loqui loqendo ("we learn to speak by speaking") and discimus legere legendo ("we learn to read by reading." I think that lots of (Greek) conversation in the classroom -- something apparently unimaginable in the American academic classroom -- and lots of reading Greek in the library will do more for one learning the usage of Greek verbs than doctrines of Greek verbal aspect.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Where is our strength?

“The state of mind in question [living dead to sin] implies that the Christian knows where his great strength lies. He know it does not lie in works of fasting, giving to charity, saying prayers, doing public or private duties—nothing of this sort, not even in resolutions or any self-originated efforts, but only in Christ received by faith. He no more expects spiritual life apart from Christ than a sane man would expect to fly by swinging his arms in the air. Deep in his soul lies the conviction that his whole strength lies in Christ alone.”—Charles Finney, God's Call, page 211

Fall is fading, winter is approaching

It snowed yesterday and last night, not much, but some. Debbie and I went for a walk in the snow late last night; it was crisp and beautiful on the fields and trees. We saw deer tracks crossing the road at several spots. As we were walking, the clouds broke and the stars and moon came out, lighting the woods around us and turning them into a winter wonderland. It is easy to worship God when it is so beautiful.

This morning, the temperature was at 19 F, with a crisp north wind. It was a bit cool riding the bike, but my main concern was the ice that had formed when the slushy snow froze as the temperature dropped during the night. But, by noon the sun had melted most of the snow :(

I wish I had taken the camera home last night to get a picture out my study window. It really is a lovely sight down the road there.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The provision is already there

Finney was a firm believer in holiness. Not legalistic holiness, but heart holiness:

A precept requiring us to consider ourselves “dead indeed to sin, but alive to God” would be utterly impossible if no provision were made for us to have such relationships to sin on the one hand, and to God through Christ on the other...Who does not see that the very command implies that there is a foundation laid and adequate provision made for the state required?—Charles Finney, God's Call, page 208

Yes! We depend on God's provision; it can't be our works, in fact, Finney goes on to say:

We cannot begin to receive by grace until we renounce all expectation of attaining by natural works. It is only when we are empty of self that we begin to be filled with Christ.—Charles Finney, God's Call, page 209

<idle musing>
Yes! It has to be all God, or it is rotten to the core. Dead to self, but alive in Christ. That is the core of Christianity. Anything else is window dressing. All “good works” that we might do have to spring from Christ within us or they are simply dung/garbage/σκυβαλα.
</idle musing>

Apples, again!

I followed Renee's advice and cooked down some of the applesauce over the weekend to make apple butter.

Unfortunately, we only have a small crockpot, so I could only cook down 2 quarts at a time. You have to cook it down for a good 5-6 hours to get it thick enough, so it took most of the day. I didn't follow the recipe she linked to, but instead just added 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg per batch. I don't add sugar to my applesauce or apple butter. It turned out great!

So, now I have 14 pints of apple butter (do the math on how long it took, if you want). I think I'll find a faster way to cook it down next year. Maybe a 9 x 13 inch pan in the oven? Do you think that will work?

Friday, November 14, 2008

It's already here

“...if you want to be saved, you must accept a prepared salvation, on already prepared and full and present. You must be wiling to give up al your sins and be saved from them—now and forever. Until you agree to this, you cannot be save at all. Many people would be willing to be saved in heave, if they could hold on to some sins while on earth—or rather they think they would like heaven on such terms. But the fact is, they would dislike a pure heart and a holy life in heaven as much as they do on earth, and they utterly deceive themselves in supposing that they are ready or even willing to go to the heaven that God has prepared for His people. No, there can be no heaven except for those who accept a salvation from all sin in this wold. They must take the Gospel as a system that hold no compromise with sin—a system that intends full deliverance from sin even now, and makes provisions accordingly. Any other gospel is not the true one, and to accept Christ's Gospel in any other sense is not to accept it at all. Its first and its last condition is sworn and eternal renunciation of all sin.—Charles Finney, God's Call, pages 170-171

Eisenbrauns monthly sale for November

I forgot to mention this, and it is already the middle of the month! Eisenbrauns is offering a 15% discount on all used books through the entire month of November!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The danger of riches (long)

The other day Debbie and I were discussing the prosperity “gospel” and how it ignores certain scriptures, especially I Timothy 6:9: “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.” RSV

Interestingly enough, John Wesley wrote a sermon entitled “The Danger of Riches.” Here is a few lines from it:

The Apostle does not here speak of gaining riches unjustly, but of quite another thing: His words are to be taken in their plain obvious sense, without any restriction or qualification whatsoever. St. Paul does not say, “They that will be rich by evil means, by theft, robbery, oppression, or extortion; “they that will be rich by fraud; or dishonest art;” but simply, “They that will be rich:” These, allowing, supposing the means they use to be ever so innocent, “fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful desires, which drown men in destruction and perdition.”

But who believes that? Who receives it as the truth of God? Who is deeply convinced of it? Who preaches this; Great is the company of preachers at this day, regular and irregular; but who of them all, openly and explicitly, preaches this strange doctrine?

He goes on to explain a bit more:

First, let us consider, what it is to be rich. What does the Apostle mean by this expression?

The preceding verse fixes the meaning of that: “Having food and raiment,” (literally coverings; for the word includes lodging as well as clothes,) “let us be there with content.” “But they that will be rich;” that is, who will have more than these; more than food and coverings. It plainly follows, what ever is more than these is, in the sense of the Apostle, riches; whatever is above the plain necessaries, or at most conveniences, of life. Whoever has sufficient food to eat, and raiment to put on, with a place where to lay his head, and something over, is rich.

Let us consider, Secondly, What is implied in that expression, “They that will be rich?” And does not this imply, First, they that desire to be rich, to have more than food and coverings; they that seriously and deliberately desire more than food to eat, and raiment to put on, and a place where to lay their head, more than the plain necessaries and conveniences of life? All, at least, who allow themselves in this desire, who see no harm in it, desire to be rich.

And so do, Secondly, all those that calmly, deliberately, and of set purpose, endeavor after more than food and coverings; that aim at and endeavor after, not only so much worldly substance as will procure them the necessaries and conveniences of life, but more than this, whether to lay it up, or lay it out in superfluities. All these undeniably prove their “desire to be rich,” by their endeavors after it.

So what is the result of this desire? Wesley examines that next:

This seems to mean much more than simply, they are tempted. They enter into the temptation: They fall plump down into it. The waves of it compass them about, and cover them all over. Of those who thus enter into temptation, very few escape out of it. And the few that do are sorely scorched by it, though not utterly consumed. If they escape at all, it is with the skin of their teeth, and with deep wounds that are not easily healed.

They fall, Secondly, into “a snare,” the snare of the devil, which he hath purposely set in their way. I believe the Greek word properly means a gin, a steel trap, which shows no appearance of danger. But as soon as any creature touches the spring, it suddenly closes; and either crushes its bones in pieces, or consigns it to inevitable ruin.

Not a good place to be, is it? And the ultimate end is:

Riches, either desired or possessed, naturally lead to some or other of these foolish and hurtful desires; and, by affording the means of gratifying them all, naturally tend to increase them. And there is a near connection between unholy desires, and every other unholy passion and temper. We easily pass from these to pride, anger, bitterness, envy, malice, revengefulness; to an headstrong, unadvisable, unreprovable spirit: Indeed, to every temper that is earthly, sensual, or devilish. All these, the desire or possession of riches naturally tends to create, strengthen, and increase.

Sounds like the U.S., doesn't it? Don't agree with us? We'll invade/bomb/kill you until you do!

But, what is the remedy? Wesley had a 3-fold plan:

You may gain all you can, without hurting either your soul or body; you may save all you can, by carefully avoiding every needless expense; and yet never lay up treasures on earth, nor either desire or endeavor so to do.

Permit me to speak as freely of myself as I would of any other man. I gain all I can (namely, by writing) without hurting, either my soul or body. I save all I can, not willingly wasting anything, not a sheet of paper, not a cup of water, I do not lay out anything, not a shilling, unless as a sacrifice to God. Yet by giving all I can, I am effectually secured from “laying up treasures upon earth.” Yea, and I am secure from either desiring or endeavoring, it, as long as I give all I can.

I highly recommend that you read the whole sermon; it is available on-line here. A sound word for a time like this.

Say it isn't so!

Yikes! This is tragic. I was over in the shipping warehouse receiving books and I noticed an ICC volume that looked like it had been crunched. I picked it off the shelving cart and took a closer look.

NO!!! It can't be. But, it was and is. The ICC volume, The Gospel according to Matthew, volume 1, the cloth bound version, is Print on Demand! That's right, they want $156.00 for a non-signatured, perfect bound, hardcover book that is print-on-demand.

What a bummer :(

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Christianity and war

I am posting this a day late, but Peter Kirk has a good post on Christianity and Veterans/Armistice Day:

If military people wish to have their own parades to mark their fallen comrades, they are welcome to do so. But please can they do so well away from the churches, whose fundamental attitudes are, or should be, completely at odds with theirs. And please can churches stop pandering to the expectations of those in the world outside, and of those among their own numbers, who hold anti-Christian militaristic views and expect the church to hold ceremonies for them, and disrupt its own regular programmes to do so.

<idle musing>
Amen! Preach it! The church should be working for peace among all, not promoting a nationalistic agenda.

By the way, I saw a wonderful bumper sticker the other day: Real Patriots Question Their Government. Nationalism and patriotism have gotten confused lately, as has civil religion and true Christianity.

OK, go ahead and fire away. [as I put on my flame suit and duck]
</idle musing>

The Yoke

“Their [some Christians] real feeling is that Christ's service is an iron collar—an insufferably hard yoke. Hence, they work so hard to throw off some of this burden. They try to say that Christ does not require much, if any, self-denial; they say that Christ does not require much, if any, deviation from the course of worldliness and sin. Oh, if they could only get the standard of Christian duty quite down to a level with the fashions and customs of the world! How much easier it would then be to live a Christian lfe and to wear Christ's yoke!

“But Christ's yoke as it really is, in their view, becomes an iron collar. doing the will of Chris, instead of their own, is a hard business for them. Because doing His will is religion, they groan under the idea that they must be religious. Of these people I ask, “How much religion of this kind would it take to make hell?” Surely not much! When it give you no joy to do God's pleasure, and yet you are required to do His pleasure in order to be saved, then you are perpetually forced into doing what you hate as the only means of escaping hell. Would not this be itself a hell? Can you not see that in this state of mind you are not saved and cannot be?”—Charles Finney, God's Call, page 165

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Where's the fire?

<idle musing>
I was talking to Ryan, our son, the other day and one of the topics that came up was the Ephesians in Acts 19, where they burn their sorcery scrolls. The text says that the value was around 50,000 drachmas, but what does that mean to the average reader? Not much. So, to help Ryan get a better idea of what the value was, I decided to make a few assumptions and calculate the value in dollars, so here we go...

The average income in the U.S. right now is around $30,000.00 per year. That works out to about $15.00 per hour. Assuming that a person works 8 hours per day, that means they make about $120.00 per day, before taxes. The average income for a day worker in New Testament times was a drachma. So, let's extrapolate and get an approximate market value for the scrolls. $120.00 x 50,000 = $6,000,000.00! Yep, that is the correct number of zeroes. $6 million! Don't like that number? Think that I should allow for 30% in taxes? OK, but that still comes to $4.2 million!

And, this wasn't any mega-church, either. Let's suppose that there were 120 members, a very large church for the time. That means that each person burned $50,000 worth of books! No wonder “the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.” These people put their money where their mouth was—almost 2 years' worth of wages, up in smoke! How many people in today's church would be willing to do that? More importantly, would I be willing to do it?

Hmmm, let's bring that a bit closer to home. I currently have a little over 1,000 books (I have been cutting down my library for several years now), and I would estimate that the value per volume is around $18.00—some are worth much more, some much less. That means my library is only worth $18,000, at most $20,000. Better add some more stuff on the pile. My bike is worth about $1800; Debbie's is worth about $800; our car is worth less than $1,000. The lawn tractor is worth about $300. And I can't forget the trailer for the bike, $300.00; and the Yakima™ rack is worth a couple of hundred. That still doesn't even bring me to half what they got rid of. I'm running out of stuff to throw on the fire...

You get the idea? They got rid of anything that stood between them and God. It wasn't the cost that mattered, it was whether it got in the way of serving God with their whole hearts.
</idle musing>

Monday, November 10, 2008

True Riches

“Sinners act as if they were afraid to be saved. Often they seem to be trying to make their salvation as difficult as possible. For example, many of them know what Christ has said about the danger of riches and the difficulty of saving rich men. They have read from His lips, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:23), and “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (v. 25). This they know, and yet how many of them are in a mad rush to be rich! For this end, some are ready to sacrifice their consciences—some their health—and all seem deliberately ready to sacrifice even their souls! How could they more certainly ensure their own damnation?

“Thus they regard damnation as if it were salvation, and salvation as if it were damnation. They rush toward damnation as if it were heaven, and flee salvation as if it were hell.”—Charles Finney, God's Call, page 132

Apples, apples everywhere...

No, not the computer kind!

We live fairly close to an abandoned apple orchard. We love apples, so all summer we have been watching the apples ripen and wondering if we could get some. Finally, I contacted the owner and got his permission to pick some. Because of all kinds of other things going on (AAR being one of them), we were unable to get to them until last Tuesday. Even then, it was getting dark by the time we got there.

It had frozen several times, so some of the apples that were hanging on the trees were just mush. But, some were very good. We also managed to get a good number of windfallen ones. All told, in about 45 minutes we got about 1.5 bushels. That's a lot of apples, but we love apples, so we figured we would use them all.

Since many of them were windfalls, we needed to process them right away. So, last Tuesday and Wednesday night, we made apple sauce—lots of it. Tuesday night I made 10 quarts, Wednesday night we made pints—21 of them, but we love apples. I add it to my home made yogurt for a sweetener.

I wanted to make apple butter, but it would have taken too long for the apples to cook down enough. Maybe next year...

We still love apples, but that was a little much for the middle of the week. I don't want to handle another apple for a while. Next year I think we'll pick them on a Friday night or Saturday.

Friday, November 07, 2008


“If we say “I believe in Jesus” but it doesn't effect[sic] the way we live, the answer is not that now we need to add hard work to our faith so much as that we haven't truly understood or believed in Jesus after all.”—Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God, page 126

<idle musing>
That is the last quote from The Prodigal God. I hope you have learned a good bit about grace from the brief quotes I have been giving.

I finished the book back in September, but had been unable to get these sections that I had marked typed up until now. Reviewing them has been good; I re-learned some things that I thought I had already learned, but apparently hadn't.

The grace of God is more vast and deeper than we realize. What we have in Christ is far greater than we can begin to understand. We stand at the edge of the beach, seeing the ocean stretched before us and think we understand it. But we haven't even touched the water, let alone begun to plumb its depths...
</idle musing>

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Lingamish is right

Go! Now! Read it! All of it!

Grace is dangerous

“You knew you had to obey God because if you didn't he wouldn't answer your prayers or take you to heaven. But if you remove this fear and talk so much about free grace and unmerited acceptance—what incentive will you have to live a good life? It seems like this gospel way of living won't produce people who are as faithful and diligent to obey God's will without question.

“But if, when you have lost all fear of punishment you also lose incentive to live an obedient life, then what was your motivation in the first place It could only have been fear. What other incentive is there? Awed, grateful love.”—Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God, page 122

<idle musing>
Wow! That last paragraph hit hard. What was/is my motivation? Is it love of God, or fear of the consequences. It is so easy to lapse into the elder brother mentality; no wonder we need grace on a moment-by-moment basis! Otherwise we lapse back into performance based religion instead of grace-based Christianity.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Since Joel and Renee have announced it on their blog, I guess it is OK to publish it here, too: Debbie and I are going to be grandparents again! And, not just once, but twice. Ryan and Emily are also expecting a baby, although theirs it due in May.

Guess where Debbie and I will be next Spring?

Transforming Love

“Pharisees are being good but out of a fearful need to control God. They don't really trust him or love him. To them God is an exacting boss, not a loving father. Christians have seen something that has transformed their hearts toward God so they can finally love and rest in the father...

Jesus Christ, who had all the power in the world, saw us enslaved by the very things we thought would free us. So he emptied himself of his glory and became a servant (Philippians 2). He laid aside the infinities and immensities of his being and, at the cost of his life paid the debt for our sins, purchasing us the only place our hearts can rest, in his Father's house.

Knowing he did this will transform us from the inside out...Why wouldn't you want to offer yourself to someone like this? Selfless love destroys the mistrust in our hearts toward God that makes us either younger orelder brothers.”—Timothy Keller,The Prodigal God, pages 86-88

<idle musing>
From the inside out! That is the only kind of transformation that counts! All other is simply surface and makes us nothing more than white-washed tombs.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The cure

“It is only when you see the desire to be your own Savior and Lord—lying beneath both your sins and your moral goodness—that you are on the verge of understanding the gospel and becoming a Christian indeed. When you realize that the antidote to being bad is not just being good, you are on the brink. If you follow through, it will change everything—how you relate to God, self, others, the world, your work, your sins, your virtue. It's called the new birth because its so radical.

“This, however, only brings us to the brink of Jesus' message, not to its heart. This tells us what we must turn from, not what, or who[m], we must turn to.”—Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God>, pages 78-79

<idle musing>
To the edge of the message. But so often that's where we stop...
</idle musing>

Monday, November 03, 2008

AAR Day 3

This post is going to be a stream of consciousness post, as I compose it throughout the day.

I got to the exhibit hall early to use the computers in the Cyber Cafe, a little after 7:30. Wow, they must have just disinfected something, because the ammonia smell was really strong. It dissipated in about 5 minutes, but it was sure strong for those few minutes.

I wish I were the one running the Cyber Cafe. They are the only place with lines! The shortest it has been is 1 person waiting, and they have about 10 computers.

I just found out that Barack Obama is going to be staying at this hotel tonight. They are shutting everything down tomorrow morning and no freight is leaving the hotel until Thursday. They are allowing individuals to take their boxes out to vans, but that is all. I hope I don't have a problem getting out of here tonight, but I do feel sorry for all the people who have to catch a plane tomorrow. They will probably have to allow an extra hour or two to get to the airport.

Well, at 3:00 PM I heard the tape guns start; that means people are tearing down and packing up. By 4:00 about 50% of the back section were gone, but the front section seemed to be holding on. By 4:30, about two-thirds to three-quarters of the back were packed up, or packing up. The front section caught the bug. I took some pictures of what it looked like, but they are too depressing to post. At 5:10, the official announcement came over the loudspeaker: “Due to popular demand, the exhibit hall is closed.”

How depressing. The people who promised to come by on Monday didn't. I think I can safely say that I speak for all the publishers in saying that it was a depressing conference with disappointing to non-existent sales...I hope SBL isn't like this!

More elder brother activity

“Elder-brother obedience only leads to a slavish, begrudging compliance to the letter of the law. It is one thing to be honest and avoid lies for your sake, but it is another to do so for God's sake, for truth's sake, and for the love of the people around us. A person motivated by love rather than fear will not only obey the letter of the law, but will eagerly seek out new ways to carry out business with transparency and integrity.

“Honesty born of fear does nothing to root out the fundamental cause of evil in the world—the radical self-centeredness of the human heart. If anything, fear-based morality strengthens it, since ultimately elder brothers are being moral only for their own benefit. They may be kind to other and helpful to the poor, but at a deeper level they are doing it either so God will bless them, in the religious version of elder brotherness, or so they can think of themselves as virtuous, charitable persons, in the secular version of it...

Elder brothers may do good to others, but not out of delight in the deeds themselves or for the love of people or the pleasure of God. They are not really feeding the hungry and clothing the poor, they are feeding and clothing themselves. The heart's fundamental self-centeredness is not only intact but also nurtured by fear-based moralism and this can and does erupt in shocking ways. That is why so many churches are plagued with gossip and fighting. Or why so many moral people live apparently chaste lives and then suddenly fall int othe maost scandalous sins. Underneath the seeming unselfishness is great self-centeredness.

Religious and moral duties are a great burden, often a crushing one. Emotional frustration and inner boredom with life is repressed and denied. Elder brothers are under great pressure to appear, even to themselves, happy and content. This is the reason that sometimes highly moral elder brothers will blow up their lives and, to the shock of all who know them, throw off the chains of their obligations and begin living like younger brothers.”—Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God, pages 60-61, 63

<idle musing>
Interesting take on it, isn't it? Maybe that is why we have seen so many high-profile people crash and burn of late. The pressure to perform must be enormous.
</idle musing>

Sunday, November 02, 2008

AAR Day 2

Well, traffic in the hall was a bit better today. You could still do gymnastics in the aisles for a good portion of the day, but there were several times when it was actually approaching being busy. Here's hoping that Monday is a busy day...

As it always works, I had a person looking for one of the titles I didn't bring. I asked them if they would be at SBL as well, since I would have it there. Nope. They took an order form and will order it.

A highlight is that the mug is a hit. I don't know if people are as interested in the graphic as they are the shape and color, at least that is what they all comment on. That's kind of discouraging in a way; we worked hard to get the graphic to look good on the mug (OK, Andy did), and people are more excited about the shape and color! Oh well, that's marketing. At least it says Eisenbrauns on it, so they will remember where they got it :)

Here is a picture of our booth. I'm thinking about turning the banner into a bookmark. What do you think? Would you want an Eisenbrauns bookmark with 9800 book cover images on it?

After the exhibit shut down for the night, Bobby K (Hendrickson) and I went out for dinner, but first we hopped on the elevator to drop stuff in our rooms. The elevator stopped at my floor; the door opened about an inch, and stuck, then closed. Uh-oh. Visions of being stuck on an elevator danced in my head. But, we held the “door open” button down and it opened. Most of the people on the elevator opted to get off and try another one. After I dropped my stuff in the room and came back, the same elevator was there again, but the people waiting said they had barely gotten off it and weren't about to go on it again. We all waited for the next one.

Safely back in the lobby again, I met Bobby and we went to a Mexican restaurant on Wabash. I can't remember the name of it, but it is right next to the Opera (an Asian restaurant—obvious, right?). The food was good, the company was better (thanks, Bobby) and we had a good time talking for about 3 hours. By the way, their cheesecake dessert was unlike anything I had ever tried before and excellent; if you ever get there, be sure to try it.

AAR day 1

OK, the wireless didn't work in the conference hall (they said it would), so I am using another machine to post this. All that means is that I can't post any pictures.

The AAR people are telling us that they have about 5,000 people registered; there were 3500 preregistrations. But, you wouldn't know it in the exhibit halls. I am not sure if it is because it is in the basement and the elevators aren't immediately obvious, or if it is because the meetings are scattered between 2-3 other places, but you could do gymnastics in the aisles and not hit anybody.

<idle musing>
I am musing here, but I think SBL members tend to buy more books. And, I think the reason is because SBL revolves around a book—the Bible. Even if it is to say how wrong it is, or obsolete, or whatever, their work is constrained by a text, which tends to make them more book-centered. AAR, on the other hand, is open to any "religion" which is about as nebulous as you can get. No need for books...just an
</idle musing>

This is a new one on me, maybe not to others, but it is to me: There are televisions in the elevators here! Yep, you can't get away from them, they are set on CNN and are in the wall of the elevator just above the buttons. The sound is piped in from the ceiling. As much as I hated Muzak™, this is even worse. Are we that addicted to news and television?

I went swimming last night. The pool is 20 yards and has 4 lanes; the water isn't too warm for lap swimming, although it is a bit warmer than regular pools. It was refreshing after a day in the exhibit halls. After that I went to the Liturgical Press reception; they always have nice reception. Last year they sponsored a tour of the Dead Sea Scrolls in San Diego. This year it was in the back of an Italian restaurant; very well done. Thanks to Joe, Brian and Hans for putting it on—so now go buy a volume of Sacra Pagina, Berit Olam, Aramaic Bible, or St. John's Bible to help them pay for it :)

Yesterday at lunch I was on a panel discussion with 2 others sponsored by the ATLA and AAR. The discussion was non-teaching options for graduate students in theology and religion. For some reason they thought I might know something about that :) It was an interesting time and I enjoyed it. I hope they went away from it having learned something. I reassured them that even though I wouldn't have chosen the path I ended up taking, God was there at every turn and He took care of us.

This is getting long, so I had better end it...more later.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

AAR Day 0

Yes, day zero :) The conference technically began last night at 7:00, with the exhibit halls being open until 9:00. Attendance was light, to be kind.

The exhibit hall is divided into 2 halves and is in the deep dungeons of the Chicago Hilton. It isn't immediately obvious to people that there are 2 halves, so maybe most people stayed in the other half. I haven't talked to anyone from that half yet, so I don't know if they had more people. But, there was a nice reception going on for attendee—on the second floor! That probably kept quite a few people away.

The accommodations are nice, although why I would need two bathrooms in my room is beyond me. The workout room is actually an "Athletic Club." They have Precor equipment all around, treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, and recumbents. Very nice. I grabbed a recumbent and rode for half hour, but I have to laugh at the heart rate thing. I have learned that I have to tell it that I am 40 or it thinks I have exceeded my maximum heart rate and should be dead. Even then, it thinks I am working too hard. For those of you keeping score, I am actually 52, but my maximum heart rate is much higher than most people that age.

They even have a real swimming pool! It is only 20 yards and 4 lanes, but it is swimmable. I think tonight after the exhibits close I will go for a swim. They told me it is chlorine, which is good because I am allergic to bromide. For those of you still reading, bromide is the most common chemical used in hot tubs, etc., but a large percentage of people are allergic to it, including me. Some pools are using bromide now, too. It is easier to get the balance right and cheaper, as well.

Anyway, I'm rambling now. Today at noon I am part of an AAR panel on "what to do with a religion/humanities degree other than teach." It includes lunch, so that is nice. I have no idea what I will be asked, but I can say that I have enjoyed the 20 plus years of not being in school and doing all kinds of interesting jobs, for the last 5 right here at Eisenbrauns.

I will try to get pictures up later. I even remembered the USB cable this time :)