Friday, March 30, 2007

Dave Black and Learning Languages

Dr. Black posted this on his blog awhile back, but I wanted to share it with people who may not frequent his blog.

The title of the post is "How to Master a Foreign Language." The last line is a great summation of the advice offered in the article..."Friend, do not be afraid to make mistakes. Do not fear correction. Swallow your pride and speak out!"

There are times when I catch myself not wanting to speak in Greek class. Either I can't remember how to conjugate something, or I worry that I'll get lost in the middle of a long word. I've done two summer missions trips to Guatemala and most of my friends speak Spanish (which they learned either in High school and/or the university), so I used to have a tendency to say -τε as "tay", like you would in Spanish. I've found this is a common thing among most of the people in my first year Greek class who have any background whatsoever in Spanish. Dr. Black's advice is just have to suck it up, say some words incorrectly, and continue to learn.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


I'm sorry to all three people who read the blog that I haven't updated recently. I've been in the midst of writing papers, switching jobs, and reading Freud. Unfortunately, I've not had much time to do any personal reading, which is generally the source for all of my blog stealing other's ideas.

Things I'm working on:

My post on Liberation Theology (a bit behind)

My exegesis paper of 1 John 1:8-2:2 (I'll be posting my questions here soon)

Some thoughts on learning languages on one's own

A real nail-biter, I know. Stay tuned.

P.S. - Just a reminder, the Last Twelve Verses in Mark conference is coming up at Southeastern. Here's the link.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Talpiot Tomb: Yeshua Inscription

I wrote a post concerning the inscription of "Yeshua (?) Bar Yehosef" and copied the PDF copy of the inscription into my post. Mark Goodacre has posted another PDF file from James Tabor concerning the rationale behind rendering what appeared to me to be "scribble-scrabble" (technical jargon, I know) as "Yeshua". To my very untrained eye, I still don't see it. But, for the sake of being fair I've included a link to the PDF File here, and a link to Dr. Goodacre's blog post here.

****Editor's Note 3/22*****

Just a few minutes after posting this, I went back and looked over the original PDF file and its inscription, and then the new PDF file and its inscription and they aren't the same. It may just be for the sake of clarity, but it's misleading if one assumes that this is how the inscription appears on the ossuary. Now, before I make a few observations, it should again be restated that I am in no way, shape, or form an expert on all.

1) The Yodh (י) still looks nothing like a Yodh.
2) The Shin(שׁ) still looks nothing like a Shin.
3) The Vav (ו) still looks nothing like a Vav.
4) The Aiyin (ע) is the only one which looks remotely like a real Hebrew letter and not the aforementioned "scribble-scrabble".

I have no illusions that ancient writing will always look as uniform on ancient artifacts as it does in our textbooks, but I included in my last post the facsimile of the "Yehudah Bar Yeshua" inscription, which is written far more legibly than that of our friend "Yeshua(?)", to show that not all the inscriptions are nearly this hard to read. I am with James Charlesworth when he writes that "[t]he scribbling is not an inscription, it is sloppy graffiti."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Oral Transmission of the New Testament

I was reading Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses the other night at work and I had a thought. Did skepticism ever play an editorial role in the oral tradition/scribal habits in ancient times? Granted, I realize that most of the hyper-skepticism today is the result of the Enlightenment, however, Herodotus mentions in several places in his The Histories that he thinks certain things are dubious, yet he records them anyway (and the things about which he has doubts generally turn out to be right!). But do we know of instances where the miraculous is edited out or "toned down" because of the skepticism of the storyteller/scribe.

Also, Bauckham says that the Gospel of John is written by an eyewitness, the "Beloved Disciple." The classic view on the Gospel of John is that it gives the highest Christology. Operating within Bauckham's theories, I wonder if a case could be made for the Evangelists (atleast Matthew and Luke) "toning down" the high Christology we see in John. I'm not saying that John was a source, but that the common oral history concerning a miraculous Jesus passed to the Evangelists was not edited out completely (we still have a Jesus who forgives sins, heals people, etc) but perhaps toned down?
Mind you, I realize that there are a number of complications with this idea. And I'm not advocating the idea, I'm simply wondering if there's any possibility to that being a viable idea.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Yet another blog on the blogroll...

I decided to take a bit of a break from reading Joel Marcus' The Way of the Lord: Christological Exegesis of the Old Testament in Mark (as I'm meeting with him tomorrow and I'd like to have something to say other than, "Golly, you sure are smart, mister! Ahyuck.") and I stumbled across this blog titled "Dunelm Road". The author is a postgraduate student over at Durham and a former graduate student at Dallas Theological. He has a ton of great information for Americans who are considering pursuing their Ph.D in the UK.

Fr. Jon Sobrino censured by the Vatican

The Vatican has decided to censure Fr. Jon Sobrino. You can find the details in this article.

Fr. Sobrino is one of the leading minds of Liberation Theology. LT, in my opinion, is a reactionary ideology to the church becoming cold and calloused to Jesus' calls for true discipleship. LT has a great deal of really good ideas that cannot be dismissed simply because of the Marxist overtones. I believe with the South American political climate becoming increasingly leftist, we'll see a resurgence of Liberation Theology.
If you want some good primary source material for Liberation Theology, I suggest reading:
Gustavo Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation: Perspectives

Jon Sobrino, Christ the Liberator and Jesus the Liberator

I'll post more about this in the near future. Also, one of my professors did his dissertation on Liberation Theology's Christology (which I read last fall for a bit of an intro to the subject), so I may see if I can get him to write up a guest post about Sobrino, his ideology, and perhaps where he sees Sobrino and LT going in the next few years.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

New (to the blogroll) blog: Paleo-Judaica

Although I concentrate most of my studies on the New Testament, even more specifically textual criticism, I've been sucked in to the "Jesus as Jew" side of scholarship lately. As such, my interest in all things Judaism has peaked. I'm trying to get better at Hebrew, wanting to actually remember the history of the Old Testament, etc. I came across this blog awhile back and I've really enjoyed it. The author is a Reader in Early Jewish Studies at the University of St. Andrews. He's also the author of the book The Provenance of the Pseudepigrapha: Jewish, Christian, or Other?.

At any rate, check out his blog here or over on the blogroll.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses

The rain outside is coming down in Biblical proportions. It's cold, dreary, and overall just a pretty awful day. What is one to do on such an awful day? Buy books!!!

The other day I thought to myself, "Self, I'd really love to buy Bacukham's new book, but it's so darn expensive." So I prayed as that great American theologian has taught us to pray (I'm, of course, talking about Joel Osteen) and asked God to be my magic good-luck charm that rewards me with material things (totally the point of Christianity, right?!). Sure enough, I went outside to look for a book in my truck and under my driver's seat I found a $50 gift card that I thought I had lost over a year ago! Surely this was divine providence.

I went to the bookstore on campus today and bought Jesus and the Eyewitnesses and had money left over to buy Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams and some selected writings of Karl Marx (both required texts for my History of Ideas class...I'm not looking to become a Marxist Psychoanalyst). I have a few books on my personal reading list ahead of Bauckham's, but I may have to bump it up (especially with Chris Tilling's extended review almost being completed).

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Translation Question - Romans 3:23

One of the things I hope to get out of blogging is interaction with people who are in later stages of scholarship than I. Whereas most "academic" blogs give you plenty of insightful posts and fill your head with information, I may be inclined to ask questions from time to time.

So, lo and behold, I have a question about English translations of Romans 3:23. In Greek, the verse is:

παντες γαρ ημαρτον και υστερουνται της δοξης του θεου

My question centers around ημαρτον. I realize that it's Aorist (sinned), but in most English translations it's translated into the perfect (have sinned). Is it because of the possible theological implications behind "For all sinned" (i.e. it could be said that it's a past event of generations long ago)? Are there other instances where the aorist is translated into the perfect? Is this just to satisfy something on the English end of things, or is this how the original audience would've understood it? Can one really make an entire paragraph out of questions?!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Whose obedience? 1 Peter 1:2

I was reading in my Greek New Testament when I came across 1 Peter 1:2. Now, the Greek reads as follows:

κατα προγνωσιν θεου πατρος εν αγιασμω πνευματος εις υπακοην και ραντισμος αιματος Ιησου Χριστου χαρισ υμιν και ειρηνη πληθυνθειη
The NASB translation:

according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

I don't mean to be nitpicky, but I think the NASB has it wrong and there may be significant theological ideas that can come about with a (perhaps) more accurate rendering. The idea of obedience in the NASB is ours alone ("to obey Jesus Christ"), whereas I think the Greek is indicating that the obedience is both ours and Jesus'. I realize that υπακοην is singular, but I think instead of that being an argument against the idea of a mass obedience, it argues for the singularity of the ultimate obedience. According to Peter, it was Jesus' obedience which brings about the blood with which believers are sprinkled in order to be sanctified by the spirit. I think that there's a larger theology at hand than what the NASB lets on. I believe it's by "getting into" this obedience, by becoming joint members in the obedience of Christ, that Christian salvation is brought about.

The Apostle Paul reiterates this position in the well-known Philippians 2:5-8 where Paul states that Jesus was "obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." See also Romans 5:19 where Paul writes that "through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous." It seems there's a Biblical precedent for Jesus' obedience being essential to salvation. This seems like an obvious statement, but I mean to say that obedience is often secondary, if not wholly forgotten in salvation-speak. I think most modern English translations are guilty of this in respect to 1 Peter 1:2.

Thus, my translation is as follows:
According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctification of the Spirit, into the obedience and sprinkling of Jesus Christ's blood, your grace and peace multiply.

Theology aside, this seems to make more literary sense. Perhaps it's my Protestant tendency to want the text to be neatly subdivided (so that we can get our 3 points and a poem for a sermon), but I think the text identifies three persons who are acting in different ways for salvation. The NASB (and most English translations that I've read) are spot-on as far as the Father's foreknowledge and the Spirit's sanctification, but they miss the point about the third person. It's not about the blood, it's about the obedience.

So, in my mind the verse is broken down into four parts:
a. The foreknowledge of God the Father
b. The sanctification of the Spirit
c. The obedience of Christ and his blood through which we are obedient and are sprinkled with to bring about B according to A
d. The blessing that comes about from this sanctification through obedience

SBL Student Fees Have Gone Down!

The SBL has reduced their student fees from, if I remember correctly, $45 to a mere $25. Let me tell you, as a student member, the membership which costed $45 was well-worth it. A membership for $25 is simply too good to be true. If you've hesitated to join because of the dues, now's your chance.

On a similar note, is anyone from North Carolina planning on attending the Annual meeting in California this year?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Wright's The New Testament and the People of God

Last week I picked up my copy of The New Testament and the People of God. I bought the book and began reading it my 1st semester at Southeastern. I got as far as Part II, maybe 10 pages in and I quit. When I first read it, I had questions such as: "Bultmann who?", "What's a hermeneutic?", and it never occured to me that the Bible could be read in different ways.

Three years wiser, I'm picking it back up. It's interesting to see how much more I'm getting out of it now that I understand atleast the basics of hermeneutics, who Rudolph Bultmann was, etc. It's interesting to see what I've highlighted in the past, the notes I made, and how they differ from what I see as important today and the notes I write.

Thus far, I'm really enjoying Wright's ideas on reading the text without sacrificing one aspect of it. I really like what Wright says on pg. 24:

...all authority belongs ultimately to the creator god; and if (as traditional Christianity has gone on to say) this god is made known supremely in Jesus, then Jesus, too, holds an authority that is superior to all writing about him.

Sometimes I think evangelicals run the risk of Bible worship. This is most obvious in our fundamentalist breathren who advocate King James only. But a less obvious happening is that of Bible worship by those who adhere to an extremely strict inerrany beause they fail to give power and authority to Jesus. There were Christians for years (mind you, I think considerably less years than mainline sholarship says) who didn't have these texts and they got along just fine. The Bible cannot be the ultimate authority, therefore Christ must be.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Islamic Christology

I wrote a paper last semester on the issue of Islamic Christology. Something that peaked my interest was the possibility of "familiarity with" Gnostic* documents (to use Mark Goodacre's wording).

For example, the Qu'ran states that Jesus created birds from clay, blew on them, and they were alive (Surahs 3:49; 5:110). The mention of this miracle in 5:110 is especially interesting because of the repitition "by My Permission" (referring to Allah). None of Isa's miracles in the Qu'ran are actually his own, but are done by the permission of Allah.

At any rate, the story is similar to that in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas (Chapter 2). In the Infancy Gospel, the child Jesus is playing by a river on the Sabbath and forms twelve sparrows out of clay. When Joseph came to Jesus and asked him why he was doing these "unlawful" things on the Sabbath, Jesus clapped his hands, spoke to the sparrows and they flew off.

The second story in the Qu'ran which seems to show some familiarity with Gnostic documents is that in Surah 3:46 where the Angel tells Mary (who earlier gives the Angel an objection based on her virginity much like the objection given in Luke) that Jesus will "speak from the crib" and teach the people "scripture, wisdom, the Torah, and the Gospel."

The idea of Jesus speaking from the crib is recorded in the "Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus Christ", a 2nd Century Arabic text. In this text, Jesus says to Mary (as an infant):

...Jesus spake while in the cradle, and said to his mother, "Mary, I am Jesus, the Son of God, the Word, which you brought forth according to the declaration of the angel Gabriel, and My Father has sent me for the salvation of the world.

This is one self-aware infant! It's interesting that Muhammad has these two very distinct stories in the Qu'ran (or perhaps they're later additions? I'm no Qu'ranic scholar). It seems unlikely that he would create these on his own.

I haven't been able to find any books concerning interaction Muhammad may have had with Gnostic texts, but I'd be really interested in finding one. If you know of any, feel free to leave the suggestion in the comments or you can email me at Joshua.McManaway[at]

*I understand that texts which don't necessarily show signs of Gnostic theology are labeled as such. I use the term simply as a convenient way to reference a set of documents without being too specific about the theology contained therein.

New Blog: Singing In the Reign

I came across this blog today. Both contributors are professors at Catholic Universities. What with my love of all things Catholic, I just had to add it. Check it out here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Jesus Tomb: Some last thoughts

Let me preface this with saying that I am a novice. I am by no means an expert on Hebrew, Aramaic, Ossuaries, or anything else, so I may very well be wrong.

I was looking over the "evidence" PDF file at the Discovery Channel's website and I noticed something that interests me concerning the inscriptions on the ossuaries. I looked over "Yehudah Bar Yeshua (Judah, Son of Jesus)"'s ossuary and the inscription on it, which appears below:

For those who can't read Hebrew, I've color-coded the inscription. In case you're unfamiliar, Hebrew is read from right to left. The word "Yeshua" is Yellow, the word "bar" is Red, and the word "Yehudah" is Blue. Now, I can clearly read "Yehudah" "Bar" and "Yeshua" (although it's written in a funny way, it's readable).

However, a look at the supposed "Yeshua Bar Yehosef" inscription shows a bit of difference. I can see "Bar", I can see "Yehosef", but I certainly cannot see "Yeshua" at all. One reason I color-coded the above inscription is because I wanted you to look for yourself. Do you see "Yeshua" anywhere in there?

In fact, if you look at the PDF file available on the website, the translator apparently wasn't sure whether this was "Yeshua" either. There's a question mark after the name "Yeshua". Later, the document goes on to say:

The first name following the X mark is difficult to read. In contrast to other ossuaries in this tomb, the incisions are here superficial and curiously carved. Each of the four letters suggesting ישוע is unclear, but the reading is corroborated by the inscription of Ossuary 2, above.

I'm not really sure I follow the logic here. Are they asserting that because there is a Jesus somewhere in the family (Ossuary 2 is that of Judah, Son of Jesus), then perhaps this scribble-scrabble could be made out to be that Jesus? This just seems like wishful thinking. To my (extremely untrained) eye, that name is just as likely "scribble-scrabble" as it is Jesus. Perhaps one day we'll find the Gospel of Scribble Scrabble and Dan Brown will write "The Scribble Scrabble Code" entirely in Scribble-Scrabble! It'll be a hit, for sure! He'll make hundreds!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Christian Servants

To Josh

Stanley Hauerwas

Yep, that's what the inside cover of my copy of "Unleashing the Scripture : Freeing the Bible from Captivity to America" has on it now. After last night's God Talk roundtable discussion, Dr. Hauerwas was generous enough to sign my copy of his book. What really made me excited is what he said and how he said it. Instead of "Yeah sure" or "Why not", he said with genuine enthusiasm "I'd love to!" It really impressed me that Dr. Hauerwas, who is such a big dog in the theological world, was genuinely excited that I'm reading his book and wanted to sign it.

I told him I'm a student at Southeastern and he asked me if I was interested in coming to Duke Divinity. I told him I actually have a meeting this month with Dr. Joel Marcus to discuss the Ph.D in New Testament at Duke. Again, he seemed delighted. I told him that I also thought of applying to the Div school as well and just seeing where God leads me.

Overall, Duke has impressed me leaps and bounds. Whereas it's sometimes played up as the ultimate evil by Southeasterners (professors and students alike) for being "liberal", their faculty has been nothing but amazingly Christ-like in my experience. For example, I emailed Dr. Mark Goodacre after reading his book "The Case Against Q" and asked him if he'd like to have coffee one day and discuss his book (among other things). Much to my surprise, within a few days he emailed me back and agreed. Dr. Marcus was equally amicable when I asked him (after his debate with Gary Habermas from Liberty on the resurrection) to lunch. The unfortunate thing is, I've been turned down without a reason by two Southeastern professors when I requested to take them to lunch (my treat, as is my policy when having lunch with professors). Mind you, they aren't all like that. We have some great professors here (Dr. Brad Reynolds, Dr. C. Ivan Spencer, and Dr. Tracy Mckenzie, amongst others, are shining examples of how professors should be). I just think it's sad that sometimes my school writes off servants of Christ, truly Christlike men, as "liberal" when they themselves can't seem to follow the life that Jesus told us to live.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Titus 1:1-4

Although this is pretty elementary to most Bibliobloggers, I'm posting my translation of Titus 1:1-4. We had to do this for extra credit over spring break for my NT Greek II class.

Original Text:
παυλος δουλος θεου αποστολος δε ιησου χριστου κατα πιστιν εκλεκτων θεου και επιγνωσιν αληθειας της κατ ευσεβειαν 2 επ ελπιδι ζωης αιωνιου ην
επηγγειλατο ο αψευδης θεος προ χρονων αιωνιων 3 εφανερωσεν δε καιροις
ιδιοις τον λογον αυτου εν κηρυγματι ο επιστευθην εγω κατ επιταγην του
σωτηρος ημων θεου 4 τιτω γνησιω τεκνω κατα κοινην πιστιν χαρις και
ειρηνη απο θεου πατρος και χριστου ιησου του σωτηρος ημων

Μy translation:

Paul, slave of God, Apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of the chosen of God and knowledge of truth, according to godliness, upon hope of life eternal, the promise of the truthful* God before time eternal. But at the proper time made known His word with the message with which I was trusted according to the command of God our savior. Titus, my genuine child according to shared faith, grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our savior.

*As far as "truthful" goes, I took αψευδης to be an attributive adjective (as it falls after the article). I originally rendered it "the non-lying God" or "the undeceitful God". I was unsure of how exactly to translate it literally, so I translated it "truthful" for a more natural reading. I consulted NASB after I did my translation and that particular section reads "God, who cannot lie,..." Am I way off in trying to keep it simple? Should I take αψευδης as being "who cannot lie"?

********3/3/07 Editor's Note********

So, after some reading and scratching my head, I've decided to change it to "who cannot lie" on the basis of a few lexicons rendering αψευδης "that cannot lie" or "who cannot lie". I still can't figure out the rationale behind it, though.

********3/6/07 Editor's Note*********

After going back and reading over my notes, I realized I made some translation errors. Here is my revised (and final) translation of Titus 1:1-5 (I translated 5 as academic penance for messing up previously).

Paul, a slave of God, Apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of the chosen of God and knowledge of truth, according to Godliness, upon hope of life eternal, which God, who cannot lie, promised before time eternal, but at the proper time made known His word with the message with which I was trusted according to the command of God our savior. Titus, my genuine child according to shared faith, grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our savior. For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order that which is wanting and appoint presbyters in the city as I myself commanded you.

Conference : God Talk, Religious Speech in Public Discourse

A conference is being held at Duke Law on March 5th (next Monday) where the topic is : "God Talk: Religious Speech in Public Discourse." The discussion should last from 7pm-9pm in Room 3041 in the Law school building. For the official website go here.

Participants include:

Dr. J.D. Greear
Pastor, Summit Church, Durham, NC

Dr. Stanley Hauerwas
Duke Divinity

Prof. Howard Lesnick
U. of Pennsylvania Law School

Dr. H. Jefferson Powell
Duke Law School