Biblical studies: November 2005 Archives

Those who opposed invading Iraq in 2003 have often been accused of not being patriotic. I think it's a slimy complaint. Some of them surely are not patriotic. Some have demonstrated by their actions and statements that they prefer al Qaeda to succeed if that's what it takes for Bush to fail. I'm convinced that such a view is much more mainstream than some people think. But many people opposed the war because they considered it immoral and didn't want their country doing immoral things. That's patriotism. This is all old news, though. Why am I talking about it now?

Well, it occurred to me recently that this is the same general phenomenon that I've also talked about a number of times on this blog with respect to accusations of anti-semitism in the gospels (and in Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ). I've elsewhere argued that the gospels are Jewish works engaging in self-criticism of their own culture, much as the Hebrew prophets were. Jesus was particularly hard on his own people, but that didn't make him anti-semitic, and it doesn't make the recordings of his life and sayings in the gospels anti-semitic. They do indeed record harsh statements against the Jewish leaders, and John even directs these statements to what he calls the Jews (which careful scholars realize amounts to exactly the same thing). What was funny to me was realizing that those who are so inflamed at those who claim anti-war demonstrators to be undemocratic might well be exactly the same people accusing the gospels or Mel Gibson's use of them (which amounted pretty much to direct quotes of them) as being anti-semitic. It's the same error in reasoning in both cases. (Incidentally, it occurred to me after writing this post that this probably also applies to those who say someone is self-hating for criticizing the behavior of a contingent of their own ethnic or racial group, e.g. Bill Cosby.)

If you can be patriotic while engaging in self-criticism of your own culture, then it isn't anti-semitic to engage in self-criticism of your own culture if you're Jewish. But that's exactly what the gospels do when making the sorts of claims about the Jews of the time that the Jewish Anti-Defamation League and a few more liberal contemporary gospel scholars declare to be anti-semitic. People on the left make this sort of blunder as easily as people on the right do.

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Christian Carnival XCVI is at Jordan's View.

Have you heard about the 18-year-old elected mayor as a write-in candidate? [Hat tip: Mark Olson]

Ben Witherington reviews Anne Rice's new novel about Jesus' childhood. I can't help but mention that he also gives Firefly and Serenity a thumbs up.

Here's Ethan a few years ago looking like his ducky (that's old ducky, which his mean aunties lost at the store 723 days ago; the new one has a much bigger bill, which I hope his mouth never looks like).

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Christian Carnival XCV is at Eternal Revolution.

Mark Roberts has finished his 30-part series Are the New Testament Gospels Reliable? I mentioned it before, when he started it. I haven't gotten through the whole thing yet, but what I've read so far has been excellent. I highly recommend it.

Here's an interesting study on the differences between men and women's responses to humor. Not at all what I would have expected. [Hat tip: Orin Kerr]

Eugene Volokh takes on the suggestion that Judge Alito thinks private ownership of machine guns should be legal. The best part is where the same line of reasoning makes Justice O'Connor out to favor violence against women.

Finally, Sam's put up a host of pictures since the last time I pointed any out. There's the salamander in the driveway. Sophia meets spaghetti. It's been warm, so we've still got some excellent fall foliage. Isaiah's still dodging cameras. Ethan enjoys the weather. Finally, Sophia's beginning to look a lot like Ethan did at her age.

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Christian Carnival XCIV is at Wittenberg Gate. Dory is in need of future hosts, so if you're interested follow her link at the top of the post. The Bible Archive is doing a series on Genesis. I especially want to direct your attention to his nice post on what Genesis 1 does say. All the debates about how to interpret the days and whether it's consistent with evolution easily distract from what the passage is about to begin with, and Rey brings our attention back to that. If you want to see his summary on those other issues, it's here, but why is our focus so often not what the focus of the text is? Walter Snyder has a good explanation of how it is that Bible publishers can justify charging royalties for the use of what is God's word (and thus should be free). [Hat tip: ESV Bible Blog] Belgium declares names and titles to be no longer capitalized. Well, I guess it's just politically incorrect names and titles. Actually, they've just singled out 'christ' and 'jew'* just to show how arbitrary they can be. Or is this arbitrary? [Hat tip: Sam] *Well, for 'Jew' it's only when the reference is religious rather than ethnic; if ethnic, it's still capitalized.

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At Real Clear Theology, you can find excerpts of D.A. Carson and Douglas Moo's section on the New Perspective on Paul in their new edition of An Introduction to the New Testament, a book I would wholeheartedly recommend. [Hat tip: Rebecca]

Tyler Williams looks at witches in the Bible and traces out the origin of our modern conception of a witch. The first comment (the only one so far) is priceless.

Ed Feser at Right Reason takes apart Simon Blackburn's critique of Elizabeth Anscombe's natural law theory. [Hat tip: Philosophers' Carnival XXI] Standout quote:

Blackburn appears to be the sort of philosopher who, as an undergraduate, read a few excerpts from Anselm and Aquinas in some textbook, along with the standard potted “refutations��? deriving from Hume and Kant, and never looked back – assuming ever since that no one could seriously believe that the existence of God could be demonstrated philosophically. He shows no awareness of the extent to which many of these standard objections are based on caricatures or oversimplifications of the traditional theistic arguments, nor any appreciation of the work done in defense of them by contemporary philosophers of religion like Plantinga and Swinburne, much less by analytical Thomists like John Haldane, whose work is most relevant to the matters presently at issue.

I'm not quite sure what to make of this. It doesn't seem good for those who have insisted that Bush really wanted a war no matter what.

Senators Lindsey Graham (SC) and Mike DeWine (OH) were among the seven Republicans in the Gang of 14 who conspired to prevent Democrats from filibustering President Bush's judicial nominees and Republicans from using what's been called the nuclear option to remove the ability to filibuster judicial nominees. Since there are 55 Republicans, and 50 (+ Vice President Cheney's tie-breaking vote) would be needed to change the filibuster rule, only 6 Republicans were needed for the Gang of 14. They had 7. They now have at most 5, at least with respect to Samuel Alito's nomination for the Supreme Court. Graham and DeWine have indicated that they would not allow a filibuster on this nomination. It remains to be seen if the 44 Democrats (plus independent Senator Jim Jeffords of VT) would have enough votes to filibuster to begin with. The Gang of 14 again needs 6 votes to oppose the filibuster. As far as I know, not one of them has indicated anything on how they will approach Alito's nomination.

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