Monday, April 30, 2007

Postal Service Prevents Shipping Biblical Books to Sudan

A group of our seminarians, with the kind assistance of Jim from maintenance, took several boxes of books for Sudan to the post office from the Mission Council's book drive. The students had worked hard to collect the books, mostly biblical and Hebrew studies books, so that they could donate them to the college library in Renk, Sudan, with which VTS has a strong connection. Unfortunately, they were told that as of last Wednesday, the post office could "not accept" packages to Sudan (or Cuba or Iran). They will now have to store the books over the summer, with the hope that by fall or soon thereafter either these sanctions will be lifted or some other plan for getting the books into the country can be devised.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Hosea 11:4, "I lead them with Cords of Human Kindness"

Rembrandt Drawing

Here is a second drawing by Rembrandt of a child learning to walk. To me, it is reminiscent of God's nostalgic remembrance in Hosea 11:4 of teaching baby Israel to walk, "I lead them with cords of human kindness." Of course, the MT switches to an image of kindness to an ox by the end of this verse, but the first bi-colon may still be dealing with teaching a baby to walk. (Indeed, if the emendation in NAB, NJB, NRSV are correct, all of v. 4 is wrapped up in the image of caring for a baby.) Are the "cords of human kindness" of Hosea 11:4 something like the cords in Rembrandt's drawing, or is this a totally anachronistic thought? I don't think that it is beyond the realm of possibility to imagine that cords for babies might have been invented in ancient times. Comments?

Fascinatingly, the NET translates the verse: "I led them with leather cords." Taking their lead from the HALOT lexicon, they argue: "It is better to relate [the Hebrew here] to II אדם 'leather' (see HALOT 14 s.v. אדם), as the parallelism with II אהבה ('ahavah, 'leather') suggests... This homonymic root is well attested in Arabic 'adam ('skin') and 'adim ('tanned skin; leather')."

In my own opinion, "humane cords" is still the best translation of Hosea 11:4, but there may well be poetic ambiguity here, so that the text may well have nuances of both "leather" and "human kindness." To speak of leather cords is a natural sort of diction, and the fact that a Semitic word for "leather" has a homonym meaning "human" or "humane" is very nice, poetically speaking, in terms of what Hosea is trying to convey here in this verse.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Tiphil Stem of רגל (Hosea 11:3)

Rembrandt's Drawing of a Child Learning to Walk

My class has finished Hosea 11, but I thought I'd add a few brief postings here on the blog. Our 12-month old, Rebecca, is learning to walk, so verse 3 of Hosea 11 really resonates with my experience right now: "Yet it was I [God] who taught Ephraim to walk." (I am always intrigued reading this with the unique Tiphil Stem of the Hebrew verb רגל.). My colleague here at VTS, Peggy Parker, just gave me copies of some Rembrandt drawings of women teaching a toddler to walk. This one is from 1640, and is now in the British Museum. The holding of the wrists and the bending over is very true to life. Note the unique "crash helmet" that they have on the baby!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Zephaniah 3:12-20

A few weeks ago, at an Easter Vigil service, Elizabeth Felicetti, who has contributed to this blog before, worked some discussion of Zephaniah into the evening, into her vigil sermon. Elizabeth has been kind enough to send along her words to me, and I want to post a few of things she said on Zephaniah 3:12-20.


...the Zephaniah reading is not all about victory. Zephaniah also talks about a people humble and lowly, a remnant. And these people, who sound a little pathetic, these are the same ones whom no one shall make afraid. Shame will be turned to praise.

It sounds like strength coming out of weakness, which we hear over and over in the Bible. Moses told God again and again that Moses was not up to the task, and yet, as we heard tonight, he led the people out of slavery in triumph. Ezekiel saw a valley strewn with dried-out bones, and before his eyes the same bones were transformed into a vast multitude.

None of this makes a lick of sense, and yet these are God’s promises to you and to me. Again and again, we turn away from God, but as we heard in Genesis, we, God’s creatures, are good. And in our weakness, we are called. Everyone who thirsts is invited to the water. God will save the lame and the outcast.

These are wild promises, and what do we offer in return? By our baptism, we came into a covenant with God. For many of us, those baptismal promises were made on our behalf, when we were babies, unable to speak for ourselves. But tonight is one of the nights that in response to God’s promises, and in anticipation of the resurrection and the end of the darkness and the rest of the story that will immediately follow, we will renew these vows; we will make these promises ourselves, as a community.

We are approaching the end of the darkness in our service, but not in the world. When we leave church tonight, it will be dark outside, and we might be tempted to lose hope. We can lose hope because of Iraq; we can lose hope because of Darfur; and we can lose hope because of tragedies closer to home, because of the suffering that surrounds us. What kind of people can celebrate in times like today?

We are that kind of people. We are foolish enough to believe we can change the world, to be reckless enough to see good in all creation; believing that, despite the insurmountable odds, we, in all our weakness, can participate with God in the deliverance of the oppressed.

We are foolish enough to believe that God can and has overcome death, and that no sin is so great that it cannot be forgiven through Jesus Christ.

At this point in our service, we are still in the darkness, but we do know the rest of the story, and we are foolish enough to put our faith in that glorious story of the resurrection. We will now renew our baptismal promises, outrageous and solemn promises that we can not possibly keep without God’s help. And with God’s help, we will keep those promises, and believe that, even in the darkness, God never abandons us.

We are an Easter people, even in the darkness.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Current VTS Merrow Fellow

We currently have a visiting scholar from Sudan here at VTS, supported by the new Merrow Fellowship: Rev. Oliver Duku. He is generously helping some of the students, offering an African perspective on biblical interpretation. Here is a bit of his background:

After earning the M.T.S. degree from Virginia Seminary in 1995, Oliver Duku returned to Sudan to become Principal of Bishop Allison Theological College. This Anglican seminary had to relocate twice during the 1983-2005 war in southern Sudan. Following the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005, funds are now being raised for the return to the College from its place of refuge in Arua, Uganda to to new facilities in Yei, Sudan.

AABS Student Paper Competition!

Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars

The Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars
2007 Student Paper Competition

The Anglican of Association Biblical Scholars announces its second annual student paper competition. A prize of $250 and two years of free membership in the AABS will be awarded for the best paper in biblical exegesis written by a student attending a seminary of the ECUSA.
Deadline for submissions is May 15, 2007

Paper Specifications
• The paper shall be an exegetical study of a biblical text, theme, or concept or of a collection of texts relating to a question arising within the life of the church.
• Papers shall be submitted in both electronic and printed format. The electronic version shall be either a Microsoft Word or an Adobe PDF file.
• Papers shall be between 2,500–5,000 words in length, including annotations.
• Annotations and a list of works cited shall be formatted according to standards set by the Society of Biblical Literature manual of style.
• The paper shall be submitted in both printed and electronic form. The author's name, mailing address, e-mail address, telephone number, and seminary affiliation shall appear typed on a cover sheet separate from the printed manuscript, and as the first page of the electronic file. The author's name should not appear on the printed
manuscript or be inserted as a running header in the electronic file.
• All submissions shall be made to the designated AABS seminary representative listed at the bottom of the page. This representative will select one paper from among the entries at each institution to submit to the final level of the competition.
• The award will be announced on June 15, 2007. The winning paper will be submitted
for possible publication in Sewanee Theological Review.
Questions or comments about the competition may be directed to the AABS project

Dr. Brian Jones
Wartburg College
100 Wartburg Blvd.
Waverly, Iowa 50677
(319) 352-8324

VTS students may submit papers to me, Stephen L. Cook, placing them in my VTS box. Please email or call with any questions, or you can ask them by making a comment to this post.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Job (humor)


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Accessible Interpretation of the Psalms

update: Tyler at Codex has some comments and additional suggestions: click here.

I've been asked to recommend some books that provide "accessible interpretation" of the psalms. Here are a few books that spring to mind. (The section on psalms in the NIB is by Clint McCann.) It seems to me that, in their own way, each of these works take a post-critical, "canonical" approach that allows for theological and pastoral understandings of the Psalter. Do others have additional recommendations or thoughts?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Shall They Return to Egypt?? (Hosea 11:5)

This Way to Egypt

My advanced Hebrew Reading class is currently working on Hosea's powerful prophetic poem of the love of God for wayward Israel in Hosea 11, with all its text-critical problems. Once again, I've been puzzling over the Hebrew problems in Hosea 11:5, where the MT literally reads, "They [i.e., Israel] shall not return to Egypt land."

With the exception of the NASB, almost all modern translations reject the traditional Hebrew and render the text the opposite way: "They shall return to Egypt" (e.g., see the NRSV). This makes the verse fit better with the rest of Hosea, where the prophet does forsee a new slavery in the land of the exodus (e.g., see later in this very passage, Hosea 11:11). However, to get this reading, one has to either produce a rather strained translation (NIV, NJPS; cf. NJB) or one has to move the negative word לא ("not") up to the end of v. 4 and change it to the similar sounding word לו ("to him") (NRSV, NAB, NLT). The idea behind the latter move would be to make the word into the object of the verb "feed" at the end of v. 4. Elsewhere in Bible, this verb takes direct objects, not indirect objects marked with ל, so this solution feels quite problematic to me.

I am left wondering whether we can make sense of the MT as it stands, with the לא in place as it is. Whatever meaning we suggest, it should preserve the poetic wordplay between the first and last cola of v. 11: They will not turn/return... For, they have refused to turn/return to me [God]. The poetry seems to want to suggest a punishment in the first colon that has a fitting correspondence to the crime in the final colon of the verse. Here is my question, then: Is there a sense in which God might block a conscious and wilfull attempt by the people to turn to Egypt, as a reaction to their refusal to turn to God?

Indeed, the people do display a shocking will to turn to Egypt in their need. God actually anticipates this crazy idea of Israel in places such as Exodus 13:17 and Deuteronomy 17:16. God stresses God's fervent oppostion to the idea: "You must never go back that way again" (Deut 17:16 NJB, cf. NLT). Also, we know of the same abortive will of Israel to turn to Egypt for aid from texts such as Hosea 7:11; 12:1; and 2 Kgs 17:4. Hence, perhaps our text should have some such meaning as the following: They [Israel] shall not be allowed to succeed in their abortive turn to Egypt for aid, ..., for they have refused to turn to me [God], the true source of their aid.
This is a preliminary suggestion, of course. Comments or critiques are welcome...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Genesis 1, A Student Video

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Undelivered Email (humor)

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.


Hebrew Blocks!

Hebrew Blocks!

The students at the seminary threw Rebecca a wonderful party on Thursday. Many people, students, staff, faculty, showered her (and us) with amazing gifts. Among the Hebrew gifts, some Hebrew Blocks to play with!

Rebecca's New Hebrew Shirt

I Love My Parents!

The Hebrew on the Shirt reads: "I love my daddy and my mommy!"

Friday, April 20, 2007

And then there was one...

Just One Left

Well, the search for dean and president is down to one candidate. The Search Committee is expressing emphatic support for and unanimous confidence in Dr. Ian Markham as a candidate. Dr. Markham will be visiting the VTS campus shortly for meetings and interviews with trustees, faculty, staff, and students.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Breaking News: VTS Search for New Dean and President

This Just In: Bishop Niel Alexander has decided “not to continue in the search process at VTS” for a new dean and president of the seminary.

Ezekiel's Temple, One More Look

Here is one more post on Ezekiel's temple. It's another model, built by a different interpreter, John Schmitt. What do you think?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

More on Ezekiel's Ideal Temple

detail of Ezekiel's Temple

Here's a detail-image of the model of Ezekiel's ideal temple (Ezekiel 40 -48) that I blogged about yesterday. It shows the second set of huge gate-complexes guarding the inner court of the temple precincts. You can also see the sanctuary building proper in the center of the image, and the altar of burnt offering (# 28; Ezekiel 43:13-27) in front of it. The miraculous river flowing from the temple to give life to the land (Ezek 47:1) is indicated by # 29.

The chamber marked # 27 in the model contains rooms set apart for the Zadokite priests, like Ezekiel, who keep charge of the altar and make sacrifices, according to Ezekiel's hierarchical view of the priesthood. Opposite it, but hidden behind the inner east gate from this angle, is a similar chamber for another set of priests who keep charge of the temple but do not have altar privileges. In my view, this is the priestly group known as the Ithamarites.

Dr. Kevin Wilson and I had an interesting debate about the Ithamarites and their importance, or lack thereof, in the postexilic period not too long ago. For a sampling of this debate/discussion, click here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Model of Ezekiel's Ideal Temple

In my journeys around the Web, I discovered this well-done model, created by Paul Jablonowski, of the ideal temple envisioned in Ezekiel 40 - 48. I am not recommending the written content of his web-site, but this model is pretty cool. Until now, I had only seen 2-dimensional floor plans of this ideal temple. Paul's model gives us a 3-dimensional image of the temple, which really brings out its very distinct idiosyncrasies.

Ezekiel's Temple

One of the first things you notice is how the three gate complexes on the outer wall of the precinct tower above the wall. When you remember that the wall all around the precinct is taller than a human being, the immensity of the gate complexes really hits you. They are even taller than the main temple building itself!

Ezekiel's ideal temple plan is focussed on differentiating zones of increasing holiness, on keeping holiness protected, and on allowing it to safely infuse Israel arrayed about the temple.

The gate-complexes represent liminal zones, where separate orders and gradations of holiness meet. In Ezekiel's world of hierarchical holiness, such zones are key. They allow for a safe and controlled seeping of God's sanctifying holiness out into the land of God's people.

In God's final utopia, God's holy glory must indwell the temple and never depart, as it did at the time of the exile because of the people's sin. The huge gates of Ezekiel 40-48 symbolize how firmly God's glory is enclosed and guarded within the temple.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Massacre at Virginia Tech

Massacre at Virginia Tech

Our rector Anne sent the following helpful spiritual message today in an email to the parish:

Dear Friends,

Today is a horrible day. All these young lives lost. I have to tell you that I really don't know what to say. Perhaps the most respectful thing is to say nothing, except to take it all in, feel as much as we are able, then offer our prayers for the slain, the injured, their families and friends.

If we need to say something, here's one prayer (with amendments) from our Prayer Book:

O God, whose beloved Son took children into his arms and blessed them: Give us grace to entrust these young students to your never-failing care and love. Let them grow in your love and your peace. Sustain us who mourn for them. Then bring us all to your heavenly grace and kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Somehow, may we know a measure of God's peace, even today. ---Anne

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Update on Finalists for the VTS Dean and President Position

As you all know, the two finalists for the VTS Dean and President position are (1) Dr. Ian Markham, Dean of Hartford Seminary, Professor of Theology and Ethics, and (2) The Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, ThD, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta.

The VTS Website now has posted the letters of intent and cv's of both candidates. You can download the PDF files, by clicking on the following links:

Passover Get Down

Image from MSNBC: Near the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem this week, orthodox Jews, Klezemer band members, celebrate this holy season of Passover with some break dancing!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Obadiah Verse 1 (MCOMBB 1)

Obadiah verse 1

Obadiah verse 1
Major Commentaries on Minor Biblical Books - MCOMBB 1
by A.N. Onymous
Winged Bull Press, 2007
xvii + 483 pages, plus extensive charts and plates, English
List Price: $75.00
Your Price: $63.75

Description from Eisenbrauns:
For too long biblical scholars have poured all their attention into the major books of the Bible. We feel it is time to pay more attention to the shorter books of the biblical corpus. To further this end, we are introducing a major new commentary series, Major Studies on Minor Biblical Books. The introductory volume, available now, is the biblical book of Obadiah, verse 1. This 500 page volume, lavishly illustrated with extensive charts and full color plates, concentrates on the overlooked importance of verse 1 in the canonical process and its implications for the entire biblical corpus, indeed for all theological undertakings.

U. Will B. Bore, ed. for the series, expresses the purpose of the series very clearly, "We feel that in an age of inclusiveness and pluralism, it is only fair to examine the importance of these frequently overlooked biblical books. We are delighted that Eisenbrauns has agreed to publish this milestone in biblical studies."

We strongly encourage you to place a standing order, since this will be a must-have reference series. The current plan is to issue one volume per year, beginning with Obadiah. The next volume will examine Obadiah, verse 2 and will be available in page proofs at AAR/SBL in November. The current page count for volume two is 479 pages, and we anticipate each volume will be of similar length. Imagine being able to reach over to your bookshelf and have over 10.000 pages of commentary and background information on the book of Obadiah! It staggers the imagination. Now, multiply that times the other shorter books and pericopes of the biblical corpus.

Because of the massiveness of this project, after the initial few volumes on Obadiah, we will begin publishing multiple volumes on other books or pericopes each year. Our goal is to have one volume per month, each month on a different biblical book or pericope. We are currently soliciting authors for the Greek New Testament books of II John (13 verses), III John (14 verses), Jude (25 verses), and Philemon (25 verses).

For the Hebrew Bible, we are in need of authors for some of the overlooked pericopes of the book of Judges. Each of the minor Judges will receive at least one volume, with more planned for important judges, such as Jephtha. We anticipate each volume will cover one verse each and be at least 400 pages. Because of the lengthy undertaking involved, we prefer younger scholars, who are able to dedicate the next 15-50 years of their life to this milestone in biblical and theological understanding.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Jeopardy (humor)

Grin and bear it, if you possibly can. Sadly, the lack of knowledge of the Scriptures in modern society parodied here rings all too true...


Durand's Painting of God's Judgment Upon Gog (Ezekiel 38-39)

After yesterday's Ezekiel class, in which we studied Ezekiel's Gog of Magog text, Kitty Guy mentioned that she had seen a painting representing Ezekiel's apocalyptic vision in an art museum in Norfolk, Virginia. I was very interested, since I can't remember ever seeing the Gog text depicted in art. Well, Kitty emailed me a link to a small image of the painting. Until we can get ahold of a larger electronic version, we'll have to make due with the following:

Durand, Judgment Upon Gog

The painting is by Asher B. Durand (American, 1796-1886), and is entitled: "God's Judgement Upon Gog" (c. 1851-1852). I know that it is hard to make out in this small image, but what is going on in the painting is the following. The artist has zeroed in on the section of the text where birds and animals feast on Gog's defeated troops (a sacrificial feast; a marzeakh?; Ezekiel 39:4, 17-20). Ezekiel, standing on the lower left promontory, is calling forth at God's command predatory birds and wild beasts to devour Gog's evil mob. The troops fill the valley; the birds sweep down from the sky and the wild beasts, seen in the foreground, approach the troops.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

An Image of Ezekiel 37 by Stanley Spencer

My chapel team was in charge of morning worship this morning, and we did something a little experimental. We projected a painting associated with the reading of Ezekiel 37, the painting Resurrection of the Soldiers by the English artist Stanley Spencer (1891 - 1959). The work presently covers the entire wall behind the altar of the Sandham Memorial Chapel, Oratory of All Souls Church, in Burghclere, UK. Here is the full image (click to enlarge):

Resurrection of the Soldiers [Ezek 37]

I would be interested in hearing any theological reflections that you might have on the painting (you can post a comment below). Spencer spent the entire First World War as a private soldier. His painting depicts actual soldiers who served in the same war that he did. I overheard some talk after the chapel service relating the soldiering in the painting to the current fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan (and also to those loved ones who had died in previous wars). Spencer's image may give hope in the midst of the death and suffering of our wars and the loss of lives that they entail.

The image of a battle-field is appropriate to Ezekiel 37. Before God explains to the prophet what the scene he is viewing really stands for, Ezekiel automatically assumes (wrongly) that he is walking around an ancient field of battle, with soldiers' bones lying on the field. [The prophet does not at first know that the vision is a "symbolic" resurrection. For most of the chapter, he has in mind a real physical resurrection of the dead!]

My colleague Peggy Parker graciously gave me some notes on this painting. One of the things she noted to me is the high level of particularity in Spencer's depictions of the Resurrection. This painting depicts Spencer's own day and the people he himself knew. As Peggy says, "All this is concrete and specific, in contrast with so many other Resurrection images in which the dead are unclothed and unidentified: everyman and everywoman. Spencer’s specificity shocks us into the recognition that the Resurrection will come among real people in a real time."

Here is a detail image from the painting, showing Christ receiving the crosses of the soldiers as they hand them over to him:

detail of Spencer painting

In Ezekiel 37, God operates powerfully in the positive mode of deliverer. The judgment of Jerusalem's destruction is over, and it has sunk the exiles into despair. God acts with creation energy and authority to bring Life, to bring God's Yes, to God's people. In Spencer's painting also, Christ sits in a welcoming stance to receive the soldier's crosses, which they bring to him from the sites marking their graves. There is little or no sense that Christ is in a mode of judgment here. What the folks in this painting need is God's "Yes," God's "Life." Someone else put the crosses on their graves. They did not themselves perform any atoning work on these crosses, although they may have laid down their lives in battle for their comrades. No, the crosses link them all in gratitude to Christ, and link them all together in filial love (some of the soldiers clasp hands with their comrades).


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Google Book Search

Recently, while surfing the web, I happened across my book on the roots of the Bible available on Google Book Search. You can actually read large chunks of the book now online on Google. To see what I mean, click here.

Sketch of the W. F. Albright Institute in Jerusalem

The latest issue of the ASOR newsletter just came (click here for the PDF file), and it had this lovely drawing of the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem. Like many of you, I've visited here several times and have fond memories of the place. The Albright Institute is the oldest American research center in the middle east. For those interested, the newsletter has information on applying for fellowships that the institute offers.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Consecrated Flock (Ezekiel 36:38)

In reading the last sections of Ezekiel 36 last week in my Ezekiel seminar, we were struck by how Ezekiel flags Israel's new inhabitation and proliferation in the promised land as the visible marks of God's new salvation. God's redemption goes beyond the people's repatriation and inner healing to include the physical transformation of their environment and the granting of fruitfulness and multiplication to the people (cf. Ezekiel 36:11, earlier in the chapter).

This fruitfulness and multiplication of the redeemed people has strong spiritual significance. Observers of Israel see them living in Eden paradise (Ezekiel 36:35; cf. Isaiah 51:3). Their fruitfulness is a physical display of the mystery and presence of God among them, just as God was at home in the Garden of Eden. The rivers of Eden will flow down from God's mountain, making earth's landscape team with life and blessing. To the Bible's way of thinking, salvation is bound up with material prosperity and a thriving earthly environment.

In Isaiah 40-66 as well, the coming of fruitfulness and multiplication to God's people is the prime physical embodiement of God's promised eschatological comfort and restoration. Thus, Isaiah 51:3 connects God's eschatological "comfort" (cf. Isaiah 40:1) with God's making Zion and her waste places "like Eden" (51:3) and her people "blessed" and "multipled" (51:2).

The closing verse of Ezekiel 36 compares the redeemed people of God to Jerusalem bustling with flocks for sacrifices during pilgrimage time. My international students from Africa in the class immediately connected the verse to how African markets bubble and team with life and human interaction. It is spiritually invigorating to go to such markets and soak up the energy of community and mutuality of persons there.

The flock of Ezekiel 36:38 is not just any flock, but a "consecrated flock" (צאן קדשׁים). The connotations of the language here suggest how the numerousness of God's people is a physical sign of their eschatological sanctification. God's endtime work is the creation of a numerous people, whose very numbers signal their new, holy sanctification.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Finalists Chosen in VTS Search for New Dean and President

The Search Committee charged with nominating a new dean and president for Virginia Theological Seminary has just released the names of the finalists that it has chosen. The committee notes that the VTS website will soon be publishing this information and that it is no longer possible to keep the names of the finalists confidential. Thus, I assume that I can post this information here in my blog. The finalists are:

Dr. Markham

Dr. Ian Markham, Dean of Hartford Seminary, Professor of Theology and Ethics (pictured above), and:

Bishop Alexander

The Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, ThD, the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta (pictured above).

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Resurrection of Ezekiel 37 at Dura Europas

Ezekiel 37 at Dura Europas

We studied the resurrection of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37 in my Thursday seminar this week. Great timing, since the topic of resurrection got us ready for Easter!
Above is a depiction of Ezekiel 37 in a third-century fresco from the Dura Europas synagogue in Syria. Surely, Ezekiel's vision of the dry bones come back to life was of interest at the synagogue because it spoke of the eschatological hope of the resurrection of all the faithful from the dead in the last days.

Posing Outside Church With Rebecca Easter Sunday

Rebecca Gets Bishop Jones' Easter Blessing

Bishop Jones

Rebecca really liked Bishop Jones, and Bishop Jones spent some quality time with her both before and after the Easter Sunday service!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Easter Weekend Meditation

My former student and advisee, Melissa Roberts, has sent around this devotional poem that she has just composed:

“It is finished”

The tomb awaits, the darkness aches, the world berates- “It’s finished.”

Pain throbs and shakes, sobs, flees, and waits, and through it quakes, “it’s finished.”

Windy roads, tear soaked,
Stories, miracles, the laughs, the boats

Fish shared, mercy spared, now, now, now who’s there?

Where are they, my beloved- who jeered and tied my ropes?

Rejection, rejection, rejection, death nears. He’s aware.
My beloved, my people, I have to believe they care.

Yet death beckons, he can’t say no.

“I’m human, I’m human. It’s finished.”

Son of God, Light of Life, can no longer cope.

Cross tied, exhausted sigh, closed eyes.

It’s finished. It’s finished. It’s finished.


An end.

A hope.

Blessings to you as you journey with Jesus and wait in that space of death and not knowing this Good Friday.


Good Friday

Photo: Hordes celebrated Good Friday at a coal mine in Germany this weekend. (Photo from MSNBC.)

Easter Weekend Image

From MSNBC: The faithful carry crosses this weekend through Jerusalem toward the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Psalm 22 and Good Friday

Psalm 22 by Tamis Wever
Is Psalm 22 a messianic psalm? Does it point forward toward a suffering messiah? A few years ago I wrote an article defending the position that Psalm 22 does indeed have a "fuller sense" (a sensus plenior) which does indeed prophesy a suffering savior. The New Testament was not wrong to see Jesus of Nazareth as fulfilling an ideal of servanthood exhibited in the psalm.
Well, here it is, Good Friday, so I am posting the final section of my article, which treats Psalm 22 in depth, here, online. Comments are welcome. To access the piece (a PDF file), click here.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

VTS Press Release on Dr. Fuller


April 5, 2007 (ALEXANDRIA, VA) – The Very Rev. Martha J. Horne, dean and president of Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS), announced today the death of the Reverend Dr. Reginald H. Fuller, professor emeritus of New Testament at VTS and world-renowned scholar and teacher. Dr. Fuller died on April 4th in Richmond, following a fall last week (on the day after his 92nd birthday) and from complications following surgery for a broken hip.

Born in Horsham, England, Dr. Fuller was educated at Cambridge and Queens College, was ordained into the priesthood in June of 1941, and served churches in England and Wales throughout the 40’s and 50’s. In 1956, Dr. Fuller was received into the Episcopal Church in America and began teaching at Seabury-Western Seminary as Professor of New Testament Language and Literature. In 1966, Dr. Fuller served as the Baldwin Professor of Sacred Literature at Union Theological Seminary until 1972 when he became the Molly Laird Downs Professor of New Testament at Virginia Seminary. He taught at VTS in this capacity until his retirement in 1985.

Said Dean Horne, “Dr. Fuller was a mentor to many, many students over the years who not only studied New Testament and Greek with him, but who witnessed his faithful life of prayer, study, fellowship, and devotion to family and friends.”

In February of 2006, the president of Westminster Canterbury retirement community in Richmond, Virginia, presented Dr. Fuller with their Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Award for distinguished volunteer service. In 2001, Dr. Fuller was recognized by the Washington Theological Consortium with their very first Consortium Ecumenism Award for his deep commitment to ecumenical relations. He was a member of the World Council of Churches’ Study Commission, served as a representative on Anglican-Lutheran dialogues, and in October of 2000, preached for the Lutheran Reformation Day service at the Washington National Cathedral.

Dr. Fuller was a prolific author and co-author, and contributed two writings to the Encyclopedia Britannica. Some of his books include, The Mission and Achievement of Jesus, The Use of the Bible in Preaching, Preaching the New Lectionary, A Critical Introduction to the New Testament, among others. He was a well-known translator from German to English of the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and other theologians, and held honorary degrees from General Theological Seminary and the Episcopal Divinity School.

He was married to Ilse Barda for 65 years and had three daughters.

Funeral services will be held on Saturday, April 7, 2007 at 11:00 a.m. at Emmanuel Church, Brook Hill, in Richmond. The committal with interment of ashes will take place in the VTS cemetery at 11:00am on Friday, April 20th.

Cards and notes can be sent to Ilse Fuller at 1600 Westbrook Avenue, Apt. 320, Richmond, Virgina 23227.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Dr. Reginald Fuller, 1915-2007

The Reverend Dr. Reginald Fuller, Professor Emeritus of New Testament at VTS and world-renowned scholar and teacher, died earlier today in Richmond, following a fall last week (on the day after his 92nd birthday) and complications following surgery for a broken hip. His wife and daughters had been with him throughout the week and had enjoyed conversation and dinner in his room this evening, just minutes before his death.

Our dean and president, The Very Rev. Martha Horne, has made the following statement:

Dr. Fuller and his wife of more than 60 years, Ilse Fuller, were of this Seminary Community; their hospitality to students and guests was unfailing, and their concern for those less fortunate was manifested in their countless acts of generosity and charity. Dr.Fuller was a mentor to many, many students over the years,who not only studied New Testament and Greek with him, but who witnessed his faithful life of prayer, study, fellowship, and devotion to family and friends. Funeral services will be held at Emmanuel Church, Brook Hill, in Richmond this weekend, with interment of ashes in the Seminary cemetery early next week. Notice of the date and time of services here at VTS will be sent as soon as we have that information. Meanwhile, please keep Ilse Fuller and their daughters in your thoughts and prayers in this time of loss and grief.

Interior of the Gate at Tel Gezer (post 2)

A few posts ago (click here), I promised some more views of the Gate at Gezer, and a look at what its interior may have looked like. Here we go. First, here is a teaching-slide I prepared of the gate, which includes the idea of its use by elders for judicial matters. Click to enlarge:

Gate at Gezer

Second, here is an artist's reconstruction of the interior of the gate complex, including lots of personnel using the chambers, and showing the trapdoors from which soldiers could lower down replacement warriors to the main level in the event of enemy attack and attempted penetration of the gate.

artist's reconstruction of Gezer's Gate

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Annual Seder at VTS

For awhile now, the Hebrew students at VTS have organized a Seder around Passover time. Our leader and presider is Elizabeth Farquhar, a longtime special student and teaching assistant here at the seminary. You can see Elizabeth at the head of the table to the left in the snap-shot I took below. To the right of the photo is Sr. Joan Cook, who taught Hebrew here last year while I was on sabbatical, and who was kind enough to return and join us for the Seder over the weekend.

Build Your Own Ossuary (Humor)

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

For Your Prayers: Dr. Reginald Fuller

The Reverend Dr. Reginald Fuller, renowned New Testament scholar and VTS Professor emeritus, suffered a fall at Church in Richmond last Sunday, the day after his 92nd birthday. He underwent surgery for a broken hip, and, while the surgery went well, Dr. Fuller is now suffering from post-op complications, including pneumonia. He is currently in the cardiac care unit at St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond.