Mandela the Prophet: “An Old Man Who Has Nothing New to Say”

mandelaThree years ago this week the world lost a prophet, Nelson Mandela. He died at the age of 95.

As I was watching a PBS special about him, just hours after his death, there was a friend of Mandela’s telling about a recent visit he’d made with his young son to see Mandela.

I don’t remember the guy’s name–it was a political dignitary, as I recall. He said when he and his son came in to see the aging Mandela, Mandela said, “Oh, it is so nice that a young boy would still come and see an old man who has nothing new to say.”

Prophets know they have to be repetitive.

Prophets know they aren’t necessarily saying something new, but the visions of hope that they’ve been casting have still not come about, and so they say the same thing.

They cast the same good, hope-filled vision: over and over, until it gets through our sometimes thick heads that this vision might actually become a reality.

When Bible Software Marketing Crosses a Theological Line

Logos 6 is Here

 

Logos, I appreciate you. I use your products. I was impressed with Logos 6. I even recently signed on as an affiliate to receive commissions for Logos purchases generated through a unique Words on the Word-based url. You’ve been kind to offer me a lot of great stuff to review.

You invest a lot of time and effort (and, I assume, money) in marketing.

I ignore most of it.

But you recently emailed me a link to an awkwardly titled blog post: 6 Reasons That Shouldn’t Stop You from Getting Logos 6.

This post has gone too far in trying to convince people to override their objections to spend more:

2. I already have enough books.

Even if you think you’ll never read through everything in your library, adding more books will make it more powerful and increase the value of the books you already own.

In other words, “If you buy more books to search, you’ll have more books to search.”

Dear friends at Logos, do we not already succumb enough to an insufficiency mentality in the world? I don’t have enough. I need to have more. My Bible study and teaching prep is good, but if I just had that one more commentary series, life would be awesome!

I’m as guilty of this mentality as anyone (probably more so)–and I want to fight it. Bible software marketing copy that taps into the culturally-rooted materialism that Christians are supposed to stand against? Not okay.

One other “reason” gave me pause:

4. I can’t afford a new base package.

If a base package isn’t in your budget right now, you have a couple of options.

You can take advantage of interest-free payment plans and spread out the cost over up to 24 months. That means you only pay a fraction up front, pay for the rest over time, and start using your new software right away.

Let me help with the rewrite:

If a base package isn’t in your budget right now, you have one option: don’t buy one right now.

“Our mission is to serve the church,” you say. How does enabling and even encouraging churchgoers and pastors to take on new debt serve the church?

I think it’s time for some serious evaluation of the sort of marketing mantras that (however unintentionally) undermine Kingdom values of sufficiency and wise financial stewardship and promote instead the harmful values of incessant accumulation and overspending.

Saying, “What I have is enough,” and curbing credit-card-style overspending are actually two excellent reasons not to upgrade to Logos 6.

 

UPDATE: The “6 Reasons” email I received from Logos had no author’s name on it. I didn’t see an author’s name on the blog version of the post, either, until just before this post was about to go live. I direct my critique, though, to Logos as a whole, since the individual post is emblematic of Logos’s marketing approach in general.

A Day in my Facebook News Feed: Google Glass vs. Knitting in the Wild

Google Glass

Within minutes of each other I had Facebook connections posting on Google Glass and linking to Luci Shaw’s poem “Knitting in the Wild.”

First I watched the trailer for a new Google-pioneered technology. It’s sort of like having a smartphone on your face, which is perhaps best experienced through this clip rather than described:

The technology is astounding. To be able to see where I’m supposed to drive without having to touch or click on anything? I’d benefit from that. But I got a little sad at 0:36 when I saw a special moment between father and daughter recorded by Glass. Not because I don’t value taking photos and videos of my kids (I do it a lot here and on Facebook), but because there was something about Google Glass–a physical and technological object standing between, recording, mediating–that seemed to interrupt the here-ness of that moment, the now-ness of it.

Having flight info show up in my glasses when I’m at the airport would be cool, but this feels a little too much like the apocalyptic Overbrain my friends David and Tim keep warning us about. (I.e., when all of our thoughts, actions, and moments are connected to and subsumed by one giant Cloud.)

Minutes earlier someone in my news feed had posted a link to Luci Shaw’s “Knitting in the Wild”:

The pale bits—twigs, fibers,
pine needles—sun-struck,
fall through the lazy air
as if yearning to be embodied in
my knitting, like gold flecks woven into
a ceremonial robe.

Then surprise—a new marvel!
Like a parachutist, a very small beetle
lands on the greeny stitch I have just
passed from left needle to right;
the creature’s burnished carapace
mirrors precisely the loop of glowing,
silky yarn that he has chosen.

When this shawl ends up
warming someone’s shoulders,
will she sense the unexpected—
this glance, this gleam,
this life spark?

I don’t know how to knit. But, amazing as Google’s new technology is, I imagine that I will pick up a pair of single-point needles long before I put on Google Glass.

Review of Zondervan’s Theologian Trading Cards

They’re a real thing, and they’re the best conversation starter I’ve brought into my office in a long time.

Creator Norman Jeune III came up with the idea of Theologian Trading Cards in seminary. It’s a good one. I remember, as a kid, memorizing and quoting statistics and quizzing friends with the back of baseball cards. I could tell you how many home runs and runs batted in Andrew Dawson of the Chicago Cubs had had for the last five years. It’s a good size for a learning tool.

The product description from Zondervan reads:

Patterned after the all-American baseball card, Theologian Trading Cards provide essential information about the major teachers, leaders, and trouble-makers throughout the history of the Church. At a glance you will have access to information regarding 288 important figures in church history, including when and where they lived, their contribution to the church, and enduring significance.

Jeune has organized the cards into 15 teams, each grouped by chronological or historical or theological commonality. The “Orthodoxy Dodgers” (great name) are the church’s heretics. Marcion (85-160), for example, “created his own canon [of Scripture], exlcuding the Old Testament and introducing numerous edits, compilations, and omissions to the New Testament.” The “St. James Padres” team consists of early church fathers: Ambrose, Augustine, Cyril, Justin, and so on.

The cards aren’t really “trading cards,” since there’s no trading to be done–you can only buy it as a complete set. But they’re just as fun as the baseball cards I collected as a kid… well, if you think theology is fun. (Which, of course, it is!) Jeune introduces a creative medium in a field that can be challenging for students. There are a lot of facts, figures, and beliefs to keep straight in a basic church history course.

Image from patheos.com
Image from patheos.com

The front of the card consists of a photo (except where none is available; see below), the name of the figure, and his or her team. The back of each card has dates and two sections: biographical and significance. Of course it would be impossible to cover everything (even all the significant things) in each figure’s life on just the back of a card. But Jeune does a good job of hitting the main points.

And the cards are fun. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything on my office coffee table picked up as much as these cards. Folks want to leaf through and see who’s there, what is written about them, etc. I’d imagine that they aid exam preparation, too. The handy size makes them easy to stuff in backpack, or put a small stack in a purse for on-the-go quizzing.

Of course a set like this is prone to criticism–which figures Jeune includes, which ones he doesn’t, how much detail he includes, what detail he leaves out. There is somewhat decent representation of more than just white males–users of this set will find cards for Amy Carmichael, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Teresa of Avila… though still one wants for more. There is James Cone, but no MLK? Julian of Norwich, but no Perpetua? This must be impossible to get right in a set like this, but those omissions are noticeable. I’m holding out for a “booster pack” to add to the set.

Another quibble I have is that while each of the 15 teams has a checklist, there is no comprehensive checklist for the set. Even if spread out over a few cards, it would be useful to be able to quickly see all the persons that Jeune includes in the set. (Perhaps he will upload a list online in the future? If so, I’ll post here.)

Facebook silhouetteA distraction in the set is the number of cards that have a blank silhouette with a question mark on it. For these the publisher was not able to procure an image. There is a good reason for this, and it’s worth reading Jeune’s explanation here. All the same, an original sketch, however basic, would have been preferred. (Remember those Facebook friends who joined but didn’t add a profile pic for months? It looks like that, only with the super-imposed question mark.)

The idea of Theologian Trading Cards is a great one, though. The cards aim to be “a fun way to learn church history and theology.” They are that, but I hope future editions or additional sets/booster packs will be more thorough in covering all the areas and players in church history and theology. Until then, this is still a set worth having. Jeune’s layout makes it easy to fill in the gaps in one’s knowledge of church history and theologians.

Thanks to Zondervan for the opportunity to review the cards gratis. Find the cards here at Amazon or at their Zondervan product page. See here for a few sample cards.

Keep ’em coming back with the December Biblical Studies Carnival

We're here; we blog about the bible; get used to us.
We’re here; we blog about the Bible; get used to it.

Charles Spurgeon is reported to have said, “If you have to give a carnival to get people to come to church, then you will have to keep giving carnivals to keep them coming back.”

And so we who blog in the fields of academic biblical studies and theology keep giving carnivals.

So let Words on the Word be among the first to wish you and yours a Happy New Year! Let’s welcome the year ahead with a recap of what went on in the so-called biblioblogosphere in December 2012.

Newtown, Connecticut, December 14

On December 14 there was the horrible news of a shooter who killed 26 other people at an elementary school in Newtown, CT, 20 of them young children. Peter Enns shared some thoughts from an unsettled state. Jim West wrote about it quite a bit and excoriated the NRA.

Shannon Hicks/Newtown Bee, via Associated Press

Nick Norelli rightly called the tragedy senseless. Robert Cargill weighed in on “The guns Adam Lanza used….” James Pate wondered whether the shooter had been loved in his life. Julie Clawson of onehandclapping mourns in the darkness on Advent 3. And Brian LePort–after posting his own reflections–provided a roundup of posts on the shooting. Lord, have mercy.

Year-End Lists, Learnings and New Year’s Resolutions

2012 to 2013Scot McKnight lists the “Jesus Creed Books of the Year” here. Near Emmaus has the “Top Ten Books I Read This Year (2012).” Joel “1.21 JiggaWatts of Mark but not Q” Watts offered his books of the year. Nathan Smoyer shared 24 lessons learned in 2012. And here is Phil Long of Reading Acts with the 10 books in biblical studies he found most useful this past year. T.M. Law gives us “Tops for Twelve in Jewish and Christian History,” after “tops” lists on Bible and the HB/OT/LXX. Here is Robert Cornwall’s book list for 2012. Here is Nick Norelli’s book review list spanning this last year. Mark Roberts offers a Psalm and a prayer for the new year. Cliff at Theological Musings posts about books to read in 2013.

Joel lists the top five events in biblioblogging in 2012, while Rod at Political Jesus adds to the list.

While these next two weren’t year-end lists, per se, The Jesus Blog offers recommendations for five books to read on the historical Jesus, while Nijay Gupta suggests “five new interesting books on Jesus and the Gospels.”

NA28 Reviews

na28

The reviews of the new Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament started rolling in. First note: it’s online for free. No apparatus, but the text is all here.

Reviewers in December included: Dan Wallace, Jim West (some nice pictures here, review here), Rick Brannan (here and here). Here is Chris Keith on Jude 5. And BLT (Bible * Literature * Translation) analyzes The Rhetoric of NA28©. Consider BLT’s post a meta-review of sorts.

Hebrew Bible/OT and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Brian Davidson at LXXI uses BibleWorks 9 to do a complex morphological search on a word in Genesis 10:19. A new blog, This Does What Now?, started in December, with a first entry on information structure in Jonah 1. John Cook discusses valency and verb theory in Biblical Hebrew.

The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library puts the DSS “finally at your fingertips.” As here:

8Hev DSS

A note in the about section of the site reads:

With the generous lead support of the Leon Levy Foundation and additional generous support of the Arcadia Fund, the Israel Antiquities Authority and Google joined forces to develop the most advanced imaging and web technologies to bring to the web hundreds of Dead Sea Scrolls images as well as specially developed supporting resources in a user-friendly platform intended for the public, students and scholars alike.

A number of bloggers wrote about this, not a few of whom Jim McGrath links to.

That wasn’t all that went online in December. Evangelical Textual Criticism notes quite a few other manuscripts that are now online. (As proven by the fact that every word of that last phrase is its own hyperlink.) Charles Halton of awilum.com highlights the availability of A. Leo Oppenheim’s Ancient Mesopotamia as a free pdf. Readers of this carnival may also like to take some time with ASOR’s weekly archaeology roundups in December, here, here, and here.

Septuagint

December saw a plethora of posts about παρθένος/עלמה in Isaiah 7:14, and Matthew’s use of that verse. Here is T.M. Law, saying that Greek Isaiah’s use of παρθένος for עלמה is not without precedent in the LXX (“The Greek translator of Isaiah used a perfectly acceptable rendering for עלמה.”). Here’s the Jesus Creed on the virgin birth. Krista Dalton notes, “[T]he author of Matthew is not saying that Isaiah was envisioning the birth of Jesus.” Kevin Brown of Diglotting posts here about it. And, looking at hermeneutics more generally, Brian LePort suggested three paradigms to use in studying the virgin birth.

IsaiahSpeaking of Greek Isaiah… more than 150 of us are reading through Greek Isaiah in a Year. And writing about it, too. Suzanne at BLT covered appetite and desire, synonymous phrases (particularly at issue when comparing Isaiah 2 and Micah 4), and μητροπολις πιστη σιων as “the mother city of Zion.” Bob MacDonald posted on Isaiah 3 and 6. Brian LePort posted notes from Isaiah 1:1-25, 1:26-2:21, 2:22-3:21, and 3:22-5:16.

J.K. Gayle at The WOMBman’s Bible (“An Outsider’s Perspective on the Hebrew Males’ Hellene Book”) posted reflections from Greek Isaiah not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6, but 7 times in December. Set aside some time and read them all.

Codex Sinaiticus dropped in price to just under $200 at CBD this month–a facsimile edition, that is. Theophrastus of BLT notes it here. He will later lament (which I, too, lament) that Oxford University Press no longer prints their wonderful Comparative Psalter. And while we’re on those Ψαλμοὶ, did their Greek translator(s) have Aristotle and Greek rhetoric in mind?

Read the Fathers posted a nice introduction to the Septuagint. (Go here for more info about taking part in that reading group.)

New Testament and Greek

Greek spelling: YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG
Greek spelling: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG

Rod Decker wrote about understanding Greek and how to teach it. (Hint, via Decker: you can’t skip first year Greek.) Daniel Street suggested a Greek Students’ Liberation Movement when it comes to pedagogy.

Anthony Le Donne is taking on the Wikipedia entry on “Historical Jesus” (best biblioblog comment of the month: here). James Tabor asked how December 25 got to be the day we observe Jesus’ birthday (with more thoughts here). Mark Goodacre produced a Christmas NT Pod in which he “explores the differences between the Birth Narratives in Matt. 1-2 and Luke 1-2 and asks how this can be the case if Luke is familiar with Matthew.” The Sacred Page produced a podcast on “the first Christmas.” For a fresh translation of Luke 1:34-38 (with the Greek reproduced beneath the English), see “She spoke yet-Miriam did.” Daniel Street even gave us some Christmas songs in Greek!

Brian Davidson connects the salt verse of Matthew 5:13 to the rest of the beatitudes.

Theological Musings reviewed Charts on the Book of Hebrews, as well as Donald Hagner’s New Testament introduction.

James Tabor points out a common question readers of Paul come to: “Who is a Jew?” (However one answers the question, “Who Said Jews Aren’t Interested in Biblical Theology?” asks Joseph Kelly. And James G. Crossley notes some cautions here.) Readers of Paul also ask (and argue) about the “faith of Christ.” Kait Dugan relates pistis Christou to discipleship. Steven E. Runge’s NT Discourse blog featured an extended note on “exceptional exceptive clauses,” with Galatians 2:16 in view.

Theology

rublev icon

Anglican minister Rach Marszalek calls for nuance in discussions on the Trinity, as well as an appreciation of “the perichoretic beauty” of the Same. Read her “Eternal functional subordination and ontological equality?” here. While we’re on Anglicans, Brian LePort asks whether he needs a Bishop?

Gaudete Theology offers a feminist reading of “the bride of Christ” language. (“The image of the Bride of Christ needn’t be viewed only through the patriarchal perception of woman’s nature as inherently passive, docile, compliant, and receptive.”) Alice C. Linsley at Just Genesis would, I think, agree that the image and office of priest should also not be viewed through a patriarchal lens. She says, “Luther Was Wrong About the Priesthood.”

Rod at Political Jesus reviewed The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America. Larry Hurtado looks at Andrew Chester’s assessment of high Christology scholarship of late.

James Pate encourages inter-religious dialogue even for conservative Christians. He also writes about what Jonathan Edwards has to do with the historical-critical method (engaging this method may have felt inter-religious to Edwards). Jim McGrath engages the question (regarding a book with this title): Do Jews, Christians, and Muslims Worship the Same God?

Remnant of Giants suggests that it’s “time to put away the decaffeinated biblical criticism.”

December brought news of the Queen James Bible. Jim McGrath looks to get beyond it. BLT invites dialogue as to whether or not that Bible’s editors have achieved their aims.

And, finally, may I offer thanks to Amanda at Cheesewearing Theology for this excellent December 2012 theology roundup? She covers yet more territory in theology than I have already covered here. If you’re disappointed that this carnival is about over, spend time reading the posts she collects.

Ευχαριστω/תודה/Thank you

carnival 2

Thanks for coming, and keep coming back! I blog regularly, so feel free to follow/subscribe by going back up to the right sidebar of the blog.

Phil Long at Reading Acts is looking for volunteers for future carnivals. Let’s “keep giving carnivals”! Please check out his post and see what you think.

I don’t necessarily agree with the content of all these posts I’ve linked to, but I do find them worth a click and read. Enjoy, and Happy New Year!

Zondervan giveaway of Theologian Trading Cards

That’s right, Theologian Trading Cards.

Click on the image to see the product page on Amazon.

Zondervan is giving away a set, for which you can enter today and tomorrow. Go here for details.

I’ve received a set to review, and expect to post that review in the not-so-distant future. They’ve already been a great conversation piece (and geeking out piece) in my office.

Katharine Bushnell (1856-1946): “God does not curse women because of Eve”

Two days after All Saints Day, I express my admiration now for a perhaps even lesser-known “saint” than Perpetua, Moses the Black, or John Huss.

Katharine Bushnell lived from 1856 to 1946. She was a doctor, a missionary, an advocate for those without other advocates, and a theologian.  Her commitment to the authority of Scripture was strong. About the Bible she said, “No other basis of procedure is available for us.” She learned Greek and Hebrew, and was particularly interested in applying her knowledge of biblical languages to understanding what the Bible had to say about gender. She spoke seven languages.

Author and theologian Mimi Haddad (where I first learned about Bushnell, via this PDF article) writes about her:

Bushnell grounds the ontological equality of men and women first in the early chapters of Genesis where, according to Bushnell, we learn that Adam and Eve were both created in the image of God, that Adam and Eve were both equally called to be frutiful and to exercise dominion in Eden, that Eve was not the source of sin, and that God does not curse women because of Eve.

Bushnell began a hospital of pediatrics in Shanghai, was part of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and helped found a homeless shelter for women in Chicago.

Psalm 68:11 says, “The Lord announces the word, and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng.”

Bushnell joins Perpetua and countless others as part of a mighty throng of women who have proclaimed God’s word in ways that continue to inspire today.