Monday, June 30, 2008

Our Seminarian Clarisse Arrives in Sudan

All Saints Cathedral, Khartoum

Good News from Sudan just in from Peter's spouse, Sara. Sara reports that our VTS seminarian Clarisse, whose flights were mixed up, has now made it to Sudan, where she will be teaching in our biblical language program. The photo above (HT: Phoebe Roaf) shows the cathedral in Khartoum mentioned in Sara's note.

Just spoke with an exhausted, but jubilant Clarisse. Her flight into Khartoum was late; she arrived about 2:00 am EAT (Khartoum time). Her Friday flight from Dulles to Heathrow was canceled due to "mechanical failure" so she did not depart until Saturday. Travel snafu does abound unfortunately.

The Sudan caravan will obtain travel permits and depart for the south tomorrow. Based on my brief conversation with Ellen [Davis], they will probably arrive 9:00 p.m. local time. I will be in touch with them during their passage. Ellen sounded pretty chipper for 2:00 am!!

I talked with both Bishop Joseph, and Peter several times today. They are all well, sleep deprived, but cheerful. They went to the local market to stock up on provisions after attending a lengthy ordination service at All Saints Cathedral. Many Bishops present; they were (with others) invited to give greetings from the altar. [Arch]Bishop Hillary was warm and gracious.

They lunched at the Dean of the Cathedral's home on chicken (its siblings seen still pecking in the yard), a sorghum loaf, high in protein and calories, a cousin of bread, I think? and a thick lentil paste. Breakfast was a delicious local "smoothie." The light in Khartoum was brilliant, dazzling, due to dust motes refracted by the sun. Hot, needless to say. Very hot.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Free Online: The Chicago Assyrian Dictionary

I finally remembered to make this post: The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (CAD) can now be downloaded free of charge as PDF files. As anyone who has studied Akkadian knows, this is a major lexicon of the language. Click here, then identify the volume you want to download. Then go to the far right, to the little vertical rectangles with the dollar-signs and the down-arrows. Click on the down-arrow to download the volume that you want.

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Not the Only Way," Say Most Religious Americans

The AP is reporting today on a recently released survey of Americans by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. To view the article on MSNBC, click here.

According to the survey, 70 percent of Americans with a religious affiliation now say that their religion is not the only way to salvation. The numbers are slightly lower, but still well over 50% among attendees of evangelical churches. Fifty-seven percent of those in this category said they believe that many religions can lead to eternal life.

Comments welcome...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Midwest Flooding

Here is a link for making an online donation to Episcopal Relief and Development to help midwest communities devestated by ongoing flooding: click here.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

On Bingham's March Trip to Israel

Earlier this year, in March, my former student, now priest and friend, Bingham, made a fantastic journey to the Holy Land, and sent us several fascinating emails and pictures. I've finally had a moment to make this blog posting in celebration of his trip. Below are two of his photos, one from Bethlehem and one from the Jordan River.

His final email from the trip reported on the hassle he had at the airport in Israel. His account reminds me of similar enraging experiences that I have had, so (with his permission) I'll post it here:

In the Israeli airport, you have a security check-point before you can check-in. They again asked me why I had been here and other questions along those lines. And they repeated the question of why I had been here several times. Then, I had to have all of my luggage x-rayed (everybody did), but unlike everybody, I then had to have every piece of luggage hand searched. Young men traveling alone is a trigger for them. I was already running late and this did not make things any better. They rifled through my stuff, did the bomb chemical tests, and did more x-rays on individual items in my luggage. They also moved items between the bags "for security reasons." In my last bag was my collar. They looked at it very strange and asked what it was. I explained that it was a collar and that I am a priest. After that, they were much friendlier to me. After determining that my luggage was safe, I was "escorted" to the check-in where I got my tickets and checked my bag. Then, I was again "escorted" to the next security check-point where my carry-on was x-rayed again. And I had to go through a metal detector. At this point, my plane had started boarding. Now, most people are not "escorted" through this process. It's usually not a good thing to be escorted through the process, though in my case, they said it was because I was so late. Then, I went through immigration/customs.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Live Date Palm Growing from a 2,000 Year-Old Seed

The Methuselah Tree

MSNBC is reporting that a sapling has sprouted from a 2,000-year-old date-palm seed excavated in a storage room at the Masada site. This particular tree, the "Judean Date," is now extinct in Israel/Palestine, but it is particularly interesting to scientists because of its possible medicinal properties. Click here for the full story.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Brevard S. Childs' New Book on Paul

When Brevard Childs, one of my mentors, died, rumors circulated that he had been working on the canonical shaping of the Pauline corpus. Well, Eerdmans has announced that his work will become available this fall for about $20 as a new book entitled, The Church's Guide for Reading Paul. For more info., click the link below:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Now Available: Feasting on the Word

Now in print: The first volume (Year B, Vol. I) of Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, to which both I and my VTS colleague Ruthanna Hooke contributed essays.

The Amazon site allows you to search and display the contents of the book (click here).

Please spread the word! Here is Patrick D. Miller's blurb from the back cover: "With all the richness of the ancient midrash, this contemporary commentary on the church's lectionary offers a diversity of interpretive treatments of the Sunday texts. Exegetical, theological, homiletical, and pastoral perspectives illumine the text. No single voice dominates, but they resonate with one another like a beautiful choir with its different parts creating a harmony richer than any single voice. Any preacher whose texts come from the lectionary will want to have and use this commentary."

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Now in Print!

Now In Print
The latest volume of Fortress' New Proclamation, to which I contributed the section on the upcoming Season of Epiphany, is now on sale! Please spread the word!

Friday, June 06, 2008

VTS Faculty Yalies

Our Seminary photographer, Alix Dorr, just sent me this photo she took at graduation of many of the Yalies among our faculty. From left to right, robed mostly in Yale blue are professors: John Yieh; Joyce Mercer (M.Div., YDS; Emory Ph.D.); A. Katherine Grieb; Ruthanna Hooke; Judy Fentress-Williams; Stephen Cook; Roger Ferlo; and Lloyd (Tony) Lewis.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Update on Dr. Peter Enns and the Westminster Controversy

Readers of this blog may recall some of my posts awhile back (e.g., click here) on Dr. Peter Enns, a fine professor of Old Testament at Westminister Theological Seminary. Well, because of his controversial book, Inspiration and Incarnation, WTS has voted to suspend Peter, even though he is tenured!, effective now as this current spring semester closed. A recent article in Christianity Today summarizes the basic situation (click here). An excerpt from this article reads: "New Testament professor [at WTS] Steve Taylor said...the seminary is too restrictive in its reading of the Westminster Confession. He and other professors feel that the faculty vote was completely disregarded in the board meeting. 'For the 12 [who voted for Enns], it's very frustrating, because either our competency or our orthodoxy has been called into question. This is why we're demoralized,' Taylor said." Brandon Withrow's blog has thorough updates on the controversy, and links to key documents, audio files, blogs, and reviews (click here). On his own blog today Peter proposes to start posting some distillations from the 38-page paper he recently wrote for the WTS faculty and board clarifying his thinking in his book, Inspiration and Incarnation. Please keep Peter in your prayers; WTS is lucky to have him on their faculty.