Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Nothing is more dangerous than to become tired of the Word"

On our faculty retreat my colleague Mitzi Budde gave a wonderful homily, which included a fine quote from Martin Luther's 1535 Commentary on Galatians. Luther cautions those who are mature in the faith that "Nothing is more dangerous than to become tired of the Word."

"Just as [God] initially gives us faith through the Word, so later on He exercises, increases, strengthens, and perfects it in us by that Word…Therefore, let every faithful person…employ humble prayer to God with continual study and meditation on the Word" (Martin Luther, “Lectures on Galatians 1535,” in Luther’s Works, vol. 26, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1963], 64-65).

Monday, January 25, 2010

Winter 2010 VTS Faculty Retreat

Well, we are on our annual seminary faculty retreat at the Roslyn retreat center near Richmond, Virginia. To access the site's webspace, click here.
It's really generous to call it a retreat; it is really an "off site," that is, a three-day working faculty development and planning meeting.

There are some neat new changes here at the center. The new chapel here is just a few months old; here is a shot of me not too far from it:

And here is my good faculty colleague John Yieh inside the chapel, just after presiding over our morning Eucharist.

And one more pic for good luck:

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Parham Rd,Richmond,United States

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Update 3 from Renk, Sudan

I've just heard again from Sudan. Patrick and David, our Visiting Teachers, report that they have settled into teaching at the theological college and have discovered extraordinarily bright students who are eager to learn. As of Friday, they have introduced the entire paradigm for first and second declension nouns in Greek, and the vast majority of the students seem to understand it very well. They are planning to introduce adjectives this coming week, given their grammatical similarity to nouns, and if all goes well, they may give people a taste of verbs by the end of the week, to whet people's appetite for the teachers who are arriving in July! They are also observing how important the study of English will be in South Sudan in the coming years. Bishop Joseph and several teachers from the college have stressed the need for people to come specifically to teach English, as well as the biblical languages. Food for thought as we continue to advertise and expand the Visiting Teachers Program.

This weekend has been relatively quiet. Kou, one of the intrepid drivers, took them to the market, where they enjoyed coffees and Coca Colas, both of which were incredibly delicious after an entire week of drinking just water!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Video: Where is God in the Haitian Earthquake?

VTS Alum, and my former student, Frank Logue, recently made this YouTube video in response to this question. Check it out:

For a recent USA Today add on the Episcopal Church, click here (PDF download).


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Update 2: Renk, Sudan


A New Update Just in From Our Visting Teachers in Sudan: Bishop Joseph came back to Renk from Khartoum with his computer and wireless internet, so the following email update could be sent from Patrick and David, our two VTS seminarians now teaching Biblical Greek and English Grammar:

David and Patrick have tought for three days now. Their teaching is structured as follows: Mornings: English Grammar (David is teaching this week); Afternoons: Greek (Patrick is doing Greek this week, David next).

They have have been impressed with the progress the students have made with some very difficult material. Today they covered Dative and Gender. They have found that teaching English grammar in the mornings prepares the students for the Greek in the afternoon and have tailored their lessons to match well each day. For instance, today David taught/reviewed English Gender (Natural gender being the only real example), prepositional phrases and indirect objects. . . this made it relatively easy for Patrick to teach Greek gender and the Dative case.

Today they also walked to the St. Matthew's Cathedral with Jacob, the anthropology teacher, and attempted to fix the internet. Tomorrow they are going to climb up on the roof to see if they can fix the dish.

Other than that things are going very well. They are really enjoying themselves and find the students to be very brilliant and hungry for Greek. They are planning on spending their last day in class teaching the students how to use all the Greek resources in the library so they are not left in a lurch when the teachers leave (lexicons, Greek New Testament, etc.)

Saturday they hope to have a whirlwind day away from school which will include a trip to the Nile, a visit to a Cattle Camp, and some time at the Renk Market.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Update on Our Duke/VTS Visiting Teachers Program, Renk, Sudan

Our VTS Seminarians, David and Patrick, are safely in Renk, Sudan, and were to begin teaching today in the area of biblical languages. Bishop Joseph, in charge of the theological school in Renk, will return to Renk on Tuesday after bidding farewell in Khartoum to the preceding visiting teams, the Eastmans from Duke and the Chicago media team. It is wonderful that the theological students in Renk will have two teams of teachers, one after the other, this winter.

Providentially, our visiting-teachers were on the same flight(s) with Archbishop Daniel of Sudan (from London to KHT). David and Patrick arrived in Renk in time for the farewell celebration for the Chicago folks and were amazed by the involvement of all the tribes, etc.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Our Students from Haiti

The earthquake in Haiti is more than just a news story here on campus. Folks from Haiti on campus are beginning to receive news of great loss from home as it slowly trickles in. One of my OT students learned yesterday that he lost one of his brothers (Frank), who was at the University in Port-au-Price. Another of my OT students just talked yesterday with his two younger brothers, who are only alive as they didn't go to school the day before. They were now outside of their home, because the house is destroyed. The school where they were supposed to be attending yesterday is gone; almost all their friends are dead. St. Vincent's School for the Handicapped was a 2009 recipient of one our Seminary's Missionary Society grants and is remembered regularly in prayers by our community at Wednesday Eucharists. Reports are that the school is destroyed. We have an Episocopal missionary to Haiti, one of my former students, on campus, who is maintaining a website with updates and the crisis in Haiti: Episcopal Relief & Development is already on the ground in Haiti with aid, and will continue to help with the situation for a very long time:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Photos of the Qeiyafa Ostracon

Fascination with the Qeiyafa Inscription continues. A range of photos of the ostracon are now available for all to access at the official Qeiyafa website:

1. Colored photo of the ostracon by Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority (click here)

2. Infrared photo of the ostracon by Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority (click here)

3. Drawing of the ostracon by Haggai Misgav (click here)

4. Drawing of the ostracon by Ada Yardeni (click here)

5. The upper left corner of the ostracon by CRI laboratory (click here)

6. The ostracon in full flattened contrast by Megavision laboratory (click here)

7. The heavily reconstructed interpretation of Gershon Galil with his drawing (click here)

Friday, January 08, 2010

In the News: Translation Offered of Oldest Hebrew Inscription

Over the past few days there has been internet buzz about the Qeiyafa Inscription, pictured above (click to enlarge), the earliest unearthed Hebrew inscription, which I posted about a year ago (here). (For fascinating details on the actual discovery, click here). Khirbet Qeiyafa (which, again, I posted about here) is a massively fortified site from the period of the United Monarchy (Saul, David, and Solomon), on the traditional border of Judah and Philistia.

The pottery shard contains five lines of text in the proto-Canaanite script. John Hobbins has some good discussion here (for notes at the Biblia Hebraica blog, click here). At a minimum, this inscription is hard evidence that the kingdom of David had a powerful defensive infrastructure with which to challenge the Philistines and some impressive, far-flung, literacy. (The biblical minimalists have, of course, challenged these basic facts.)

Here is a drawing of the Inscription:

The use of the verb עשה at the very start allows us to think that the text is Hebrew rather than Phoenician. Here are two of the possible translations being offered:

1' you shall not do [it], but worship the [Lord].
2' Judge the sla[ve] and the wid[ow] / Judge the orph[an]
3' [and] the stranger. [Pl]ead for the infant / plead for the po[or and]
4' the widow. Rehabilitate [the poor] at the hands of the king.
5' Protect the po[or and] the slave / [supp]ort the stranger.

Hobbins translation reads:

1 Do not do [anything bad?], and serve [personal name?]
2 ruler of [geographical name?] . . . ruler . . .
3 [geographical names?] . . .
4 [unclear] and wreak judgment on YSD king of Gath . . .
5 seren of G[aza? . . .] [unclear] . . .

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Minoan-style Wall Painting at a Canaanite Palace

In the News: The remains of a Minoan-style wall painting, recognizable by the blue background, have been discovered in the ruins of the Canaanite palace at Tel Kabri:

The find joins other frescos found at the site:

Tel Kabri contains the remains of a Canaanite city from the Middle Bronze Age (2000-1550 B.C.E.). The map below shows the site's location (please click to enlarge):

Apparently, the Canaanite rulers of the city wished to associate with Mediterranean culture and not adopt Syrian and Mesopotamian styles of art like other cities in Canaan did. For more details on this find, click here.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Ziggurat of Ur Aerial Photos

Via Dr. Jack Sasson's Agade List, here is a link to some neat aerial photos taken two days ago (January 3, 2010) of the Ziggurat of Ur (click here).

Monday, January 04, 2010

Free Online: Two New Bible Briefs

As editor of the series, I am pleased to announce the online publication of two new Bible Briefs, Ecclesiastes by Dr. Brian C. Jones and 1 & 2 Peter by Dr. Jim West. To read the VTS press release on the new publications, click here. Both booklets are carefully written, probing, and enlightening. Please do download them both and spread the word about them.

Visit the homepage for accessing all the Bible Briefs by clicking here.
To download Ecclesiastes directly as a PDF file, click here.
To download 1 & 2 Peter directly as a PDF file, click here.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

R. Crumb's Genesis

This graphic-art translation of Genesis has only been out a short while, but already it is selling like hot-cakes. At a New Year's Eve party, my friend Colin was showing me a copy he bought a few days ago. The work is distinctive on several fronts, including Crumb's inclusion of every word of Genesis (based on KJV and Robert Alter) along with his determination to illustrate everything, including the difficult and R-rated parts. Noteworthy is Crumb's interpretations of the inner emotions of characters, which the biblical text tends not to comment upon. Note the careful work he does on Joseph's expression here as he fills with emotion upon seeing how his brother Judah really has changed for the better over the years (end of Gen 44; click image to enlarge):