Tuesday, June 07, 2016

M. Girón: Images of Prophetic Themes

This spring my student M. Girón reflected on many biblical prophetic texts and drew these three images of prophetic themes for our Prophets seminar. They are based on the work of three different photographers. Here they are with her commentary, in her own words.


“A woman stares into the unknown. I wanted to portray a woman with a child (one that you can barely make out because I wanted to make a comment on the fact that society doesn’t see the least of these). The woman is an African American woman, and I was intentional in that, because I wanted to call attention to the Black Lives Matter movement (to this mother, her child matters and as she sits reflecting, I wanted to capture her pensive look which could mean she is thinking about her very life and that of her child’s).”


“A boy draws water from a river. Throughout scripture, God is associated with springs, streams, water, and therefore, with life. I wanted to depict a child going to a stream to get water, because I believe it captures the concept of God as a living stream. There is nothing around the child – I was intentional in leaving out anything surrounding the child because this emptiness is how the image of water is sometimes used throughout scripture, it is a bearer of life in a land that is dry, a wilderness, barren.”


“A woman is looking at some grain in her hands, she has food, she has life in her hands. I wanted to draw an image that captured what it means to be grateful for life and to be grateful for having sustenance. Throughout scripture, God is a creator who gives life and a God who calls us to care for one another in order for us to have life.” 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Peggy Parker Etchings 2016, Ezekiel's Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones

Artist Peggy Parker (www.margaretadamsparker.com), who teaches art and theology here at VTS,  has just produced absolutely stunning etchings based on Ezekiel 37, the valley of dry bones and the bones coming together. They are part of a set depicting the readings from the Easter Vigil. She has most kindly and graciously allowed me to share them. Magnificent! 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Finding Rembrandt’s Ram



Led by Peggy Parker, VTS Rembrandt expert, we (myself, Prof. Kate Sonderegger, and newly graduated M.Div. Rev. Aidan Rontani) had a very enjoyable excursion yesterday to the National Gallery in DC to see some Rembrandts. There were few enough of us in the group, that I got to spend some quality time with one of my favorites, the Near Sacrifice of Isaac, and to make out some of the amazingly minute detail in the print. In particular, I was able to pin down the ram caught in the thicket. Click on images below to enlarge.



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Sunday, May 08, 2016

George M. Landes, 1928 - 2016

Our world is now a poorer place with the loss of one of my favorite former mentors and colleagues at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, Dr. George Landes, a great scholar, great teacher, and a kind and steady leader. Above is a photo of me as a young assistant professor with George at a UTS graduation in the early 1990s. The following obituary was written by George's wife Carol and is posted at Legacy.com:

Old Testament Biblical Scholar and Presbyterian Minister, The Rev. Dr. George M. Landes, Sr., 87, passed away at the Inpatient Hospice Unit at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Allentown on Thursday, April 7, 2016. Son of the late George Y. and Margaret B. (Fizzell) Landes, he was born in Kansas City, MO on August 2, 1928, educated in Kansas City schools and graduated from the University of Missouri, Columbia, MO with a B.A. in philosophy in 1949 and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. Called to the Presbyterian Ministry, he attended McCormick Theological Seminary where he earned his M.Div. degree in 1952 and was awarded the Nettie F. McCormick Fellowship for further graduate study. He entered doctoral work under Prof. W. F. Albright at Johns Hopkins University from which he received his Ph.D in Old Testament and Semitic Studies in 1956. Dr. Landes was called to the faculty of Union Theological Seminary, NY in 1956 as Instructor in Old Testament. He advanced through the academic ranks and in 1970 was appointed Professor of Old Testament. In 1972 he was appointed to the Baldwin Chair in Sacred Literature, and in 1981 to the Davenport Chair in Hebrew and the Cognate Languages, from which he retired in 1995 as the Davenport Professor Emeritus and moved to the Lehigh Valley. Dr. Landes' early interest was in Palestinian Archaeology, which he taught at Union. On sabbatical in 1962 he joined the Drew-McCormick expedition to Tel Balata (ancient Shechem), where he studied ancient pottery and prepared it for shipment back to the states and eventual publication. He was Field Supervisor on the expedition to Araq el-Emir in Jordan. On sabbatical leave in 1967-68 he was appointed Annual Professor of the American Schools of Oriental Research, now The Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem. During that year he was Archaeological Director at Suwanneteth-Thaniya in the Jordan Valley and did site survey work in the area of ancient Shechem. Dr. Landes shifted his primary focus from Palestinian Archaeology to Biblical Exegesis, which he also taught at Union. During his 39 year career at Union he taught Hebrew and Hebrew exegesis, as well as many other Old Testament subjects, and became fascinated with the book of Jonah, to which he devoted a large portion of his published works. He authored many scholarly publications, far too many to enumerate here, and contributed to several of his Jewish and Christian colleagues' Festschrifts. In 1961 Dr. Landes published his book, "A Student's Vocabulary of Biblical Literature," which remained in print for 40 years. During retirement a new, much revised and expanded edition titled "Building Your Hebrew Vocabulary: Learning Words by Frequency and Cognate" was published. Dr. Landes has received many honors during his career and in retirement was presented with his own Festschrift (1999), titled _On the Way to Ninevah: Studies in Honor of George M. Landes_. He was one of the team of Old and New Testament Scholars who translated the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, published in 1989. He was a member of various academic, religious and other boards, was guest lecturer at McCormick Theological Seminary and at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He was Visiting Professor of Hebrew at both Princeton and Moravian Theological Seminaries in retirement. As an ordained Presbyterian Minister, he served Second and Govans Presbyterian Churches in Baltimore. During his tenure at Union he served on NYC Presbyteries Preparation for Ministry Committee, lectured and preached at various churches and was Parish Associate at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, NYC. At First Presbyterian Church in Allentown Dr. Landes taught Adult Education Classes and was also a Parish Associate.

Monday, March 14, 2016

New “Workflow” for iOS Olive Tree Bible Study App

I know this a Bible-Geeky thing to have done, but I’ve been fooling around with using the WORKFLOW iPhone app to create a verse-chooser today-widget and homescreen icon for iPhone and iPad. Try it out and let me know what you think. You can enter the full name of the Bible Book, or you can use any of Olive Tree’s Bible Book abbreviations. Essentially, the "workflow" opens the BibleStudy app to any specific text reference.  To enjoy, click here.

Sunday, December 06, 2015



Sunday, November 08, 2015

Frank-Lothar Hossfeld 1942–2015

I was very sad to learn today of the passing of Frank-Lothar Hossfeld. His insights were a significant help when I was writing my dissertation in the early 90's and I instantly loved his personality when I interacted with him later at the international SBL meetings. Here is a brief bio: Prof. (emeritus) Dr. Frank-Lothar Hossfeld of the University of Bonn passed away on Monday November 2, 2015, after a long illness. Professor Hossfeld was born in Metz (France) on June 19, 1942. He read philosophy and theology in Trier and Wuerzburg. After his ordination in 1966 he served as a catholic priest in a village in the diocese of Trier until 1969 when he started to work on his doctoral dissertation under the supervision of Heinrich Groß at the University of Regensburg. His “Untersuchungen zu Komposition und Theologie des Ezechielbuches” (submitted 1976, published Wuerzburg 1977) was an influential contribution to the field. From 1973–1982 Professor Hossfeld worked with Erich Zenger at the University of Muenster where he prepared his Habilitationsschrift on “Der Dekalog. Seine späten Fassungen, die originale Komposition und seine Vorstufen” (submitted 1981; published Fribourg 1982) which still is a landmark in scholarship on the Pentateuch and its redactional development. From 1982 until his retirement in 2009 he was Professor for Old Testament at the Department of Catholic Theology at the University of Bonn. From 1986–1988 he was dean of the department and represented it in the university for many years as a member of the senate. As a member of the review board of the German research funding organization (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) he served the scholarly community for many years and with great exertion and a well-recognized expertise. He was an eloquent member of many important ecumenical committees of theologians – catholic and protestant, Jewish and Christian. Professor Hossfeld was a highly accomplished academic teacher. When supervising his students he was a tireless dialog partner, relentlessly asking for exegetical arguments and considering theological consequences. At the same time he was committed to the personal concerns of his students and had a wonderful sense of humour. Six of his former students now hold chairs of old testament studies in Germany. After his important contributions to the scholarship on Ezekiel and the Pentateuch – fields that he continued to research – he devoted nearly thirty years to work on the psalms and the redactional development of the Psalter. Together with Erich Zenger he published the commentary on the complete Psalter in the NEB series and the commentary on Ps 51–150 in the HThK series. It was translated into English for the Hermeneia series. The work on the psalms brought him in closer contact to colleagues from the US – a scholarly exchange which was very precious to him during the last years of his life. The scholarly community has lost one of its most distinguished members and a great moderator. Those who knew him have lost a man who was both witty and upright, a wise counsellor, a loyal and faithful friend and a priest deeply rooted in the faith in the God and father of Christ of whom the Hebrew Bible speaks in so many different ways.