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terri

I don't know about the whole "tarnishing themselves" concept.

It's not as if we don't have stories of the prophets and patriarchs completely messing up both within their personal lives and in their ministries...e.g. Moses, Jonah. Yet...within those stories of mistakes, there is usually a clue that God was displeased. Whether it's his direct revelation of displeasure, or the plain speaking of one of his prophets, like Nathan, we frequently hear about it.

This story seems to have no counter-balance to it. I'm not sure that I would think that the author of 2nd Kings had the view that Elisha somehow did something wrong. In fact, it frequently seems to be the case that we have stories with a similar theme in the Old Testament in which people who slight the appointed authority figure of God have really bad things happen to them...Miriam and Aaron, the sons of Korah, etc.

As someone who does think that certain things have changed in the New Testament, I guess I would ask...how does this relate to Christian living now? Should we have that same fear of authority? Should we fear God's bears coming to maul us if we have acted as badly as those youths?

Obviously...let's not make fun of bald people.....just to be sure.

JohnFH

Hi Terri,

Thanks for the conversation.

You're right of course that sometimes specific acts are condemned within the biblical narrative, by figures such as Nathan, by an oracle from God to Moses, etc.

But you seem to downplay the many cases in which the Primary History recounts gruesome events without tipping the hand one way or the other about how and in what measure to pass judgment on particular acts and characters.

I would suggest that it is a common practice for the biblical narrator to presume that we will be horrified at appropriate times and junctures in the narrative, without feeling the need to point the matter out on a case-by-case basis. The author sometimes seems very deliberate about this, and very good at it, too, like Chekhov in his fabulous short stories.

Furthermore, it is typical of many biblical narrative that there are no Mr. Rights, or Mrs. Rights, but everyone in some sense or another is portrayed in their full humanity. No one comes out smelling like a rose, not even Moses and Samuel. In subtle and not-so-subtle ways, the narrative makes this clear. If this last sentence is unclear to you, let me know.

For example, there are the repeated occasions in which a patriarch tries to pass off his wife as his sister, and all the trouble it causes. The plot itself confirms that the actions are unjustifiable, so that's easy. But when Sarah mistreats Hagar and rolls over Abraham, who himself looks like a dimwit, the plot and ending do not overwhelm the reader such that the misdeeds are labeled as such by the results they bring within the narrative.

One's own moral compass must be activated in order to come to conclusions in that sense. It is the case that conniving Abraham and Sarah are also recipients of the most glorious promises. Finally, if there ever was a saint and sinner rolled into one, indeed, a sinner saved by the grace of God alone over and again, it is Jacob.

Or reread Genesis 34: everyone messes up, just in different ways. Or what about Jephthah, his vow, and his daughter?

In all these cases, the narrator does not spell out for his readers a path through the moral complexities. The fact that later interpretation has often tended to interpret the narrative in such a way that the biblical lead characters are made out to be morally blameless says nothing about what the narrator might have reasonably imagined in terms of moral reactions from his original audience.

The original audience would have been relatively unencumbered by the need to "defend" their forebears from the damning implications of the text itself. At least I think that's a reasonable working hypothesis.

I think you're right that we are meant to take away from the story a fear of mistreating one of God's representatives. Not only because they possess unusual powers, I would add, but also because they sometimes abuse the power they are given.

This is an excellent rule to apply, not just to pastors and such, but also, doctors, lawyers, and professors.

Doug Chaplin

Or possibly the narrator isn't as interested in moral questions as his readers would like to think the Bible ought to be.

terri

"In subtle and not-so-subtle ways, the narrative makes this clear."

Sometimes the narrator makes things clear. The book of Judges recounts all kinds of crazy stories....but it also frequently repeats that the children of Israel did "what was right in their own eyes."

As far as the story of Jephthah is concerned...He certainly had time to reconsider sacrificing his daughter. He waited two months so that she could mourn. Yet, the story almost seems to honor Jephthah's daughter as heroic, noting that the people commemorate her sacrifice.

As far as "defending" their forebears...is it at all possible that in certain cases they offer no defense, because they think there is nothing to defend? I just have a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea the author of 2 Kings really thought Elisha had done something wrong. Isn't it possible that you are reading into that particular story an ethic from a thoroughly Christian and New-Testament-informed perspective?

While there are glimmers of "love your enemies" in the OT, they are merely glimmers. Israel had no problem conceiving of physical, human enemies who needed to be destroyed.

Please don't misunderstand...I am not trying to say that somehow we in the Christian era are somehow more evolved and virtuous than the Israelites. However, we have benefited from thousands of years of history and accumulated Scripture and Christ. We're not "better" or "smarter".....just lucky enough to live in an era where we need not fear marauding bears. :-)

JohnFH

Doug,

The possibility you raise is interesting, but I am hesitant about it.

Here's an analogy. In the history of modern literature up to the present, it has often happened that someone who writes in an "amoral" style has been accused of being amoral.

Maybe it's true that Tarantino is amoral, or even immoral. It's possible. (I doubt it.) In the case of Chekhov, such an accusation, though it was made, is absurd.

The fact that the Primary History is, globally speaking, a highly moralistic reading of the past, though not always at the episode level, militates against the assumption that the narrator was, to misuse a term, "post-modern" in his morality.

For sure, of course, he had a morality out of sync with contemporary trends. But I see no reason to assume that he saw no moral issues involved in Elisha getting 42 children ripped to pieces. I would assume that he thought that even the positive characters in his narrative were far from perfect and could and did commit sins of omission and commission.

JohnFH

Hi Terri,

Excellent conversation.

Jephthah knew that if we went back on his vow, he put his own life in danger. He preferred to sacrifice his daughter rather than himself. He tarnishes himself in the process, even though, on another level, Israel needed Jephthah at the time, so that his daughter was expendable, and he was not. The result is that Jephthah's daughter is a tragic hero in the narrative.

It's a grim, miserable tale. The problem with the narrative is that it is realistic on so many levels. We don't want that in the Bible. If we look for escape literature in its pages, a nice chick flick or a tale of gratuitous violence, tragic or tragic with a happy ending, we will be disappointed. The narrative of the Bible grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go.

You say:

"I just have a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea the author of 2 Kings really thought Elisha had done something wrong."

My own sense is that the author of the Primary History does not traffic in black-and-white judgments of that sort when it comes to the "positive" characters in its narrative.

In several instances, the narrator seems incredibly aware of the moral complexities of life, far more so than readers on average today, who, you say, have "benefited from thousands of years of history and accumulated Scripture and Christ" (history completely belies that statement if you ask me. No century in human history was bloodier and darker than the 20th century).

The best book I know of on this subject is by Jacques Ellul, a French Reformed lay theologian, entitled "The Politics of God and the Politics of Man," translated by Geoffrey Bromiley, whose loss we now mourn.

I realize most people don't do this when they read the Old Testament, but if you read the following passages from the point of view of an ancient Israelite (insofar our historical imagination allows us to do so), the moral complexities treated therein are absolutely remarkable:

2 Kings 5:1-19; 6:24-7:17; 8:7-15: 9:1-10:36; 13:14-25; 16:1-20; 18:17-37; and 19:1-37.

Ellul treats them all.

terri

"In several instances, the narrator seems incredibly aware of the moral complexities of life, far more so than readers on average today, who, you say, have "benefited from thousands of years of history and accumulated Scripture and Christ" (history completely belies that statement if you ask me. No century in human history was bloodier and darker than the 20th century)."

I wasn't thinking of the world at large when I said that. I was intending it to be understood in terms of "believers" in the Judeo -Christian tradition.

JohnFH

I don't think that helps, Terri.

Those who fomented World War I, more or less on all sides, were believers in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Those who fought it were, for the most part, believers in the Judeo-Christian tradition. That was the first modern war, dwarfing all previous wars in bloodiness, death, and plain idiocy. A lot of good thousands of years of history and accumulated Scripture and Christ did them.

In some quarters, the natural result was a revulsion from engaging in war and a strategy of appeasement. Thus, when Hitler and Mussolini, who were not believers but who enjoyed the overwhelming support of believers in their respective countries, armed, killed and conquered, the reaction was meek to begin with, such that the eventual toll of carnage and destruction that occurred in order to stop them was correspondingly enormous.

Roosevelt and Churchill eventually turned the tide, and made use of the full resources of civil religion (a relatively strong phenomenon at the time) to do so. In the face of the horrors of the war, there were incredible acts of moral courage, but they were rare, and unbelievers, statistically speaking, outshined believers (I just read Diane Ackerman's The Zookeeper's Wife, a splendid account of the Polish resistance).

However you slice and dice it, it is not obvious from the way WWII was carried out that believers in the Judeo-Christian brought anything distinctive to the prosecution of the war, or took away from the war any important lessons, except perhaps Jewish believers, who learned to fight for and defend themselves once again, with sweet but also bitter results (the foundation of the state of Israel, and the constant wars Israel has fought ever since), except perhaps the Marshall Plan, the choice to rebuild the economies and infrastructures of the defeated.

I could go on. If you think you can prove how much progress believers in the Judeo-Christian tradition have made "from thousands of years of history and accumulated Scripture and Christ" by means of their prosecution of the Korean, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan wars, be my guest. I don't see it.

There was a time, it is true, in which people thought of the 20th century as one of moral progress. There is still a periodical, liberal of course, entitled "The Christian Century." But after all that has happened, and continues to happen, few in our lifetimes have the courage of that kind of optimism, if courage is the right word.

terri

John

wow..I feel like you took the ball and ran with that one...but it was in a direction I wasn't going.

I wasn't thinking in terms of geo-political intrigue, but more in terms of what individual people see as right and wrong....meaning that most Christians wouldn't think that cursing your enemies and having them mauled by bears is an acceptable way of handling insults.

20th century=bloodbath...I won't really argue with that. While certainly Christians have taken part in probably all major wars to some degree...the bodies piled up in Germany, Russia, and Cambodia were by no means put there by inherently Christian regimes....or caused by Christians committing war in the name of God.

I guess I'm perplexed by the idea that there wasn't a change in perspective with Christ's coming and the way of following God put forth by the New Testament....which is not to say that there is no value in the Old Testament, but certain attitudes that were acceptable then, aren't acceptable now....and vice versa...things that would have shocked the Israelites are considered not only normative, but essential to living the Christian life with liberty.

JohnFH

Terri,

I'm glad we are having this conversation online. It's the kind of discussion I've had over and over again with people verbally. If we had eye contact and I heard your heart through the tone of your voice, my guess is that I would find it easier to keep on track with your own particular concerns.

It sounds as if you think the way Christians and Jews have handled the wars they've been involved in or undertaken in the last 100 years doesn't look so bad compared to what anti-Christians and anti-Semites like Hitler and Stalin did. I suppose. I still do not see evidence of progress among believers in this area.

Do you really think that this passage from 2 Kgs teaches that having street urchins mauled by bears is an acceptable way of handling insults? I remain unconvinced that this is the correct understanding.

But if it is, are you willing to interpret the parallel passage in the book of Acts, the episode of Ananias and Sapphira, in the same way? If not, why not?

I pointed out a passage in Revelation in which the slain martyrs pray for redress. What do you think of this prayer? Is it sub-Christian in your eyes? I think people are way too quick to answer in the affirmative.

I'm wondering what "changes in attitudes" you have in mind.

It's true, for example, that Jesus is very restrictive about the conditions under which divorce is justified. This is a clear change of attitude. Of course, there were other strands of Judaism that also tightened up the loopholes in the same direction.

However, believers in the Judeo-Christian tradition tend to be in the permissive camp today, in practice if not quite in theory. The position which was dominant among the Pharisees, and became the consensus view in Judaism, has prevailed. Not the position of Jesus.

Perhaps you are thinking of attitudes toward the poor, toward women outside of the question of divorce (which continues to cause great suffering among women in particular, though that does not mean the solution is to keep marriages together in which respect is lacking), toward children, toward domestic servants.

I would suggest that, on the one hand, what we find in the New Testament is generally on a clear trajectory with what we find in biblical and post-biblical Judaism; that is, there are changes with respect to the surrounding culture, modest usually, toward an amelioration of the situation.

On the other hand, it is very easy to overdo the differences. In the New Testament, it is expected that slaves obey their masters, that wives submit to their husbands in all things, that children obey their parents, and so on.

It is also true that the gold standard in all of these relationships is the love that Christ exemplified. But that is not as different from the Old Testament as some people apparently think. The gold standard in the Torah in all interpersonal relationships is the love that God showed Israel in redeeming them from slavery. If anything, the emphasis on liberation is more brilliantly foregrounded.

Can you give examples of what you mean by attitudes an ancient Israelite would have found shocking, that Jesus had and taught?

I find it easy to think of things in both the Old and New Testaments that modern day people find shocking or unacceptable, but not so easy to think of things found in the Old Testament that the New Testament clearly does not condone, which modern people find shocking or unacceptable.

My basic thesis is that people tend to project onto the Old Testament attitudes they find objectionable, not to mention their own, less presentable selves, and project onto the New Testament their more presentable selves, and the "enlightened" opinions they have, whether or nor they are actually there in the New Testament.

The end result is an attained sense of moral superiority, and an uncritical attitude toward the "enlightened" opinions one has.

terri

I have several thoughts swimming in my head about this...some of which may seem slightly off-topic.

1. Getting back to Jephthah and his daughter. This is actually a good example to discuss. Going back and re-reading the story, I'm struck by a couple things. Jephthah makes his vow soon after the author says that the Spirit of the LORD came upon him. I have heard some people explain that Jephthah's vow wasn't as rash as it seemed, because animals frequently lived in a part of the "house" that Israelites dwelt in. I don't know if that is factual...or a stretch. Jephthah seems surprised and dismayed when his daughter comes out....which gives one the impression that this was not what he was expecting. Yet Jephthah, even in his surprise, moves forward with his vow.

Why? Because he was afraid of not fulfilling it? Because of his pride?

Is it possible that Jephthah goes through with it because he believes that God has willed this to happen? I have recently been thinking about the Jewish attitude in the Old Testament concerning fate/circumstances. Is it fair to say that Israelites attributed completed events/actions as being God's will simply because they occurred? In other words....Jephthah's daughter comes out first because God willed it that way, the bears mauled the youths because God willed it that way. There are no "coincidences" in this view.

It explains why some parts of Scripture portray God as using the Babylonians and Assyrians as his instrument of judgement, by His divine decree, and other parts portray God as angry and vengeful towards the Babylonians and Assyrians for the destruction they wrought on Israel.

So God made them conquer Israel, and then He was mad that they did.

We could try and say that's God's prerogative, but if we're not Calvinistic in our thinking, then we have a puzzle to work out.

When I am reading through these stories, that I readily admit leave me faint and scratching my head, trying to figure out how we got from there to Jesus, I am leaning heavily toward progressive revelation.

In the same way that the Mosaic code forbids marrying two sisters is a progression, possibly based on the results of Jacob's life story, I see the New Testament building on what had come before.

The Israelites and God honored Jacob, despite later generations living under laws that the patriarchs did not keep/were not held accountable to.

That is how I am looking back at the Old Testament, with respect for the faith of those found there, but also with the knowledge that more is expected from me living through Christ....just as more was expected from the Israelites under Moses, than was expected from the Patriarchs.

Does that make sense?

I've already written a lot and I have to do other things. I might try to come back and address the political aspects of our conversation later on.

JohnFH

Lots of excellent questions.

I don't think there is a convincing reading of the Jephthah passage that gets him off the hook. It's possible to talk about mitigating factors, like the one you mentioned, that the changes of a goat coming out the door of the house were relatively high. If you ask me, if that was his reasoning, he would be twice the scoundrel.

It is true that if you made a vow, you bound yourself to fulfill it, and you bound God to punish you if you didn't. It's called a self-imprecation formula. That was the standard.

But it does not follow that Jephthah could claim that it was God's immutable will for his daughter to die. That's because God's will, in the Bible, is not immutable, *by definition.*

That's why God can state his (mutable) will, and a human being can plead that it change, even offer to be the victim in place of the one God has designated.

Abraham and Moses respond to statements of God's will with intercession. They don't take it lying down. They take it standing up. They challenge God's express will.

In the most compelling examples, they offer to pay the price for someone else (who does that remind you of?).

Jephthah, if he were a type of Christ in the full sense, would have broken his own vow and taken the penalty of doing so on himself.

By the way, I am a Calvinist. But I bend my Calvinism so as to be faithful to Scripture, not the other way around. In brief, I accept the teaching of Job 28, that God's ways are not entirely intelligible to us, but I also accept that express teachings of scripture which describe God's ways are to be taken seriously, and understood to be, in principle, in non-self-contradiction.

Assyria and Babylonia were, in their heyday, merciless war machines, always on the lookout for new lands to conquer. As such they were destined for destruction, according to rule, what goes around, comes around. In specific situations, they were vessels of God's wrath, instruments of God's opus alienum (alien work, a term of Luther taken from Isa 28:21, for a short explanation, go to that entry under "theological word of the day* [I am not always happy with the quality of the entries]). If you wish, you can think of God's use of the Assyrians and the Babylonians as though they were guilty pawns in a complex sting operation in which God also takes down, through the A's and B's, his own people.

I don't think it is quite true, but if God set the A's and B's up, just as the police and FBI will do when they take down organized crime syndicates, it can be seen as an efficient use of resources. On the other hand, it's all a bloody mess, which is why a prophet like Habakkuk remonstrates with God about this very method. H's questions are allowed to stand in Scripture. God never answers them per se. The fierce honesty of the Bible in such matters is one of the reasons I always go back to it. The Bible's approach is the exact opposite of Christians today, who have an answer for everything. They are not credible for that very reason.

For the rest, I think one has to be careful about how one applies the principle of progressive revelation. For one thing, there is no such thing as linear progress, in the Bible or in real life.

For example, perhaps the high point of the life of the Church was its birth, the first part of the book of Acts. It was downhill after that.

Is it true that we have progressed in comparison to a previous generation, such that quality of Christian life today is an improvement over what is was in the third generation of Christians, or the 33rd? I don't see that at all.

Praying with Lior 2

“The power to kill and to save go hand in hand today as they always have.” This is true for the examples that were given when people were actually killed. It is also valid in cases where people are not literally killed, but a part of them is and someone allows it to happen. For instance, when someone gets taken advantage of by the opposite sex, a part of them disappears the day that happens. There are even simpler instances such as when someone is getting bullied and no one stands up for them. These examples and others that are like it take away a part of the person that it happens to and it is very hard for that part to come back. It is almost like it was killed. A bystander could save that part of them that was killed if they would find the courage to intervene.

shawshank redemption 5

The power to kill and save is actually something I think about quite often. I’m a lifeguard and love the fact that I can save lives. The power to save is a feeling I like, but the power to kill is not. I would never ever use that power on purpose, but it’s very possible for someone to die while I’m giving them CPR. You’re almost guaranteed to crack an elderly person’s ribs while performing CPR and you also have a pretty good chance of killing them. In this sense, the power to kill is more like the power to let die. It’s pretty scary.

The Mission

Since you are counter dicting yourself I would just like to state that I agreed with your previous stamen. I have yet experience congregations were they believe that their pastor/ minister can save or ruin their lives. Today people have the government, medial data, and other ups and down of life to leading them to ether success or failure. They no long relying on their pastors words to save their live, but on what are government gives us and what they can then turn around a produce with their knowledge. The government like, Scott Walk, dictates to use the fruits of are life weather they are rotten or vibrant with life.
Regarding to this post alone however I would like to state the following….
“Salvation and judgment continue to be filtered through human beings, some of whom know themselves to be under a divine charge.” This statement is so true every day we roll out of our beds we have the choice to make with our judgment we have built throughout are life expirees. Though these choices we create either a positive or negative input on someone else life. These positive impute we have on people can maybe lead them to salvation. So though out the Bible we may have these stories of words so powerful that the can create or destroy a life but in this day of age other words like those of a bully can destroy a life or those of a teacher can save a life. We don’t just have the Church body official as educators but all who have live though life’s hardships.

True Grit 1

In the beginning of the blog post, it is right away stated all of the professions that go hand in hand with saving lives. What a powerful career path to choose for all of those listed, and more! My interest peaked because I am planning on applying to nursing school soon and will have to deal with life and death on a hourly basis. Doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals will do their darned best when it comes to dealing with human lives. They will do all it takes before they give up. However, what is more on my mind is another hot issue right now, euthanasia. “Salvation and judgment continue to be filtered through human beings, some of whom know themselves to be under a divine charge.” While some families, patients, and advocates request for the treatment, how do health care professionals react to this? What about those who hold strong to their faith? Already I know it is none of my business to get involved with a situation unless I see something wrong taking place. Nurses are told to respect and accept all decisions and do it judgement free. As I would expect the same with my own doctors and nurses. This thought just crossed my mind while reading this blog.

Pulp Fiction 3

It takes a certain kind of person to be able to hold a job where you may witness many deaths on a regular basis. On one end of the spectrum the person can be happy about saving a life, but then again on the other end, they could be a part of watching a death take place. People holding jobs such as nurses, and surgeons have a lot of responsibility put on them. Some of these jobs can be hard for a very religious person because where is the line between right and wrong according to the person's faith?

The Mission 3

The power to kill and the power to save do go hand in hand. I think that we have that decision everyday and it’s one of the many tests that God is sending down to us to see if we are worthy enough for His kingdom; as Praying with Lior 2 said, maybe not in a literal sense of killing but maybe killing someone’s self-esteem or some other emotional part of them. We need to look out not only for ourselves but our brothers and sisters, as well. God wants us to love one another.

Pulp Fiction 5

The power to kill or save a person is something that only a select few are able to deal with on a daily basis. Although it may seem that only certain professions, such as those listed at the beginning of this post, deal with saving or killing people we all deal with it. Take the prophet Elisha for example. He cursed the boys that had poked fun at him and as a result the boys were maimed by two bears. God sent the bears because Elisha had the power of God inside him. We all have this power and whether we realize it or not, we influence people on a daily basis. I agree with The Mission 3 when they say that it might not be literally killing or saving someone that we deal with on a daily basis, but we are influencing their self-esteem. I know that a simple compliment or insult could be all someone needs to save their day or ruin their day.

Shawshank Redemption3

I too like my peers feel that the power to kill and the power to save go hand in hand with each other. As someone who wants to go into the medical field as a profession I feel that they are closer than some people know, as PulpFiction5 said. I feel that doctors and nurses and EMT’s are faced with this conflict every day. One thing could be the difference in a person’s life and death. But these professions are not the only ones. At the beginning of this post it is said that people do not want this responsibility, but who would. In reality we really all do you make choices every day, like am I going to text and drive or drink and drive or am I going to put the guns out of the reach of children. All these choices can be the difference between life and death. So I agree even though some may not want the Key as a Gift. We really do all have it, it’s how we choose to use it that counts.

The Mission 5

I work as a caregiver and deal with this issue a lot with the elderly. The doctors and families have to decide whether to treat a very old patient. Most of the time they don't because the treatment, especially surgery, is too risky. The majority with cancer are kept comfortable and cared for by hospice. Yes these patients are at their end of life, but it is still sad to watch. No amount of money could make me become a doctor, and have to make those kinds of decisions. They are very strong to deal with life or death decisions every day.

Chariots of Fire 2

I would have to say that I agree with Shaw shank Redemption 3. Certain types of professionals are put in those kinds of situations every day, but we are too. The choices we make can affect many as well. Like the idea of drinking and driving or texting and driving. Although these types of drivers do not mean to hurt someone, they sometimes do and it is a terrible thing. I think that at least once in everyone’s life they will come across some kind of encounter like this and it will really test the person. I know for a fact that there would be no way I could be a professional that had to deal with these issues on a regular basis. Sometimes I even feel that God might be put in this situation whether or not to save someone. Although he created us, I think he might be in this situation as well.

breaker morant 6

The power to kill and restore life should be in God alone. I mean this is the reason why Peter did not pray for the two people who are dead and Elisha did not pray for forgiveness. They would have had to forgive as Christ forgave his enemies, however, the Spirit of God told them the other decision. Looking back to these passage, we would have thought that they were disobeying God by not loving their enemies or forgiving them as God forgave us. We would have condemned them for doing such insensitive, unloving actions! But the Spirit of God acted upon them and that we cannot understand WHY. God has the power to take life and gave life. He hold the key to life and death so we should trust in him who knows all things.

Dead Man Walking 5

The power to save life and kill go together as they have forever. This statement is true for instances where people were actually killed and in instances where people were not literally killed but a part of that person is lost and another person allows it to happen. One example is that when a person is taken advantage by the opposite sex, that person loses a part of themselves in the process. This is an example of when a person in not literally killed. These types of actions could be easily stopped by any person in the surrounding area.

Praying with Lior 2

Everyday we put faith in others that they will do the right thing. Doctors, police, and firefighters are one the front lines every day and they determine who lives and dies. We put a tremendous amount of faith in doctors. They proscribe people many different kinds of medicines that if wrongly prescribed could kill someone. They determine what is wrong and the correct way to fix it. When it comes to who dies, a lot of pressure is put on the president, military leaders, and even judges. The President and military leaders determine who needs to be eliminated in order to protect the United States. Judges have the power to sentence people to death. We trust that these people will do the right thing.

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    Insightful commentary on the Bible and the Ancient Near East, by Charles Halton
  • AWOL - The Ancient World Online
    notice and comment on open access material relating to the ancient world, by Charles Jones of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University
  • Balshanut
    top-notch Biblical Hebrew and Semitics blog by Peter Bekins, Ph. D. student, Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati OH, faculty member, Wright State University (archive)
  • Believing is Knowing
    Comments on things like prophecy, predestination, and reward and punishment from an orthodox Jewish perspective, by David Guttmann
  • Ben Byerly's Blog
    thoughts on the Bible, Africa, Kenya, aid, and social justice, by Ben Byerly, a PhD candidate at Africa International University (AIU), in Nairobi, Kenya working on “The Hopes of Israel and the Ends of Acts” (Luke’s narrative defense of Paul to Diaspora Judeans in Acts 16-20)
  • Berit Olam
    by a thoughtful Matt Morgan, Berkeley CA resident, grad student in Old Testament at Regent University, Vancouver BC (archive)
  • Better Bibles Blog
    Discussion of translation problems and review of English Bible translations by Wayne Leman, Iver Larsen, Mike Sangrey, and others
  • Bibbia Blog
    A Bible blog in Italian and English by former students of the PIB and PUG
  • Bible Background research and commentary
    by Craig Keener, professor of New Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary
  • Bible Design & Binding
    J. Mark Bertrand's place
  • BiblePlaces Blog
    a spotlight on the historical geography of the Holy Land, by Todd Bolen, formerly, Assistant Professor at the Israel Bible Extension campus of The Master's College, Santa Clarita CA
  • Biblicalia
    The riches of orthodoxy brought online by Kevin Edgecomb, a seminarian at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (Brookline MA)
  • Biblische Ausbildung
    by Stephen L. Cook, professor of Old Testament / Hebrew Bible at Virginia Theological Seminary
  • C. Orthodoxy
    Christian, Contemporary, Conscientious… or Just Confused, by Ken Brown, a very thoughtful blog (archive). Ken is currently a Dr. Theol. student at Georg-August-Universität in Göttingen, part of The Sofja-Kovalevskaja Research Group studying early Jewish Monotheism. His dissertation will focus on the presentation of God in Job.
  • Catholic Bibles
    a thoughtful blog about Bible translations by Timothy, who has a degree in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome (Angelicum) and teaches theology in a Catholic high school in Michigan
  • Chrisendom
    irreverent blog with a focus on the New Testament, by Chris Tilling, New Testament Tutor for St Mellitus College and St Paul's Theological Centre, London
  • Claude Mariottini
    a perspective on the Old Testament and current events by a professor of Old Testament at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Chicagoland, Illinois
  • Codex: Biblical Studies Blogspot
    by Tyler Williams, a scholar of the Hebrew Bible and cognate literature, now Assistant Professor of Theology at The King's University College in Edmonton, Alberta (archive)
  • Colours of Scripture
    reflections on theology, philosophy, and literature, by Benjamin Smith, afflicted with scriptural synaesthesia, and located in London, England
  • Complegalitarian
    A team blog that discusses right ways and wrong ways Scripture might help in the social construction of gender (old archive only; more recent archive, unfortunately, no longer publicly available)
  • Connected Christianity
    a place to explore what it might be like if Christians finally got the head, heart, and hands of their faith re-connected (archive)
  • Conversational Theology
    Smart and delightful comment by Ros Clarke, a Ph.D. student at the University of the Highlands and Islands, at the (virtual) Highland Theological College (archive)
  • Daily Hebrew
    For students of biblical Hebrew and the ancient Near East, by Chip Hardy, a doctoral student at the University of Chicago
  • Daniel O. McClellan
    a fine blog by the same, who is pursuing a master of arts degree in biblical studies at Trinity Western University just outside of Vancouver, BC.
  • Davar Akher
    Looking for alternative explanations: comments on things Jewish and beyond, by Simon Holloway, a PhD student in Classical Hebrew and Biblical Studies at The University of Sydney, Australia
  • Deinde
    News and Discussion by Danny Zacharias
  • Discipulus scripturae
    Nathan Stitt's place
  • Dr. Claude Mariottini
    balanced comment by a professor of Old Testament at Northern Baptist Seminary, Lombard IL
  • Dr. Platypus
    insightful comment by Darrell Pursiful, editor at Smyth & Helwys Publishing, on the New Testament faculty of Mercer University
  • Dust
    A diary of Bob MacDonald's journey through the Psalms and other holy places in the Hebrew Bible
  • Eclexia
    The heart and mind of this Bible and theology blogger sing in unison
  • Eat, Drink, and be Merry
    The journey of a grad student with a love for ancient languages at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (archive)
  • Elizaphanian
    Rev Sam tussles with God, and limps away
  • Emerging from Babel
    Stephen investigates the potential of narrative and rhetorical criticism as a tool for expounding scripture
  • Evangelical Textual Criticism
    A group blog on NT and OT text-critical matters
  • Evedyahu
    excellent comment by Cristian Rata, Lecturer in Old Testament of Torch Trinity Graduate School of Theology, Seoul, Korea
  • Exegetica Digita
    discussion of Logos high-end syntax and discourse tools – running searches, providing the downloads (search files) and talking about what can be done and why it might matter for exegesis, by Mike Heiser
  • Exegetisk Teologi
    careful exegetical comment by Stefan Green (in Swedish)
  • Exploring Our Matrix
    Insightful reflections by James McGrath, ass't. professor of religion, Butler University
  • Faith Matters
    Mark Alter's place
  • Ferrell's Travel Blog
    comments of biblical studies, archaeology, history, and photography by a tour guide of Bible lands and professor emeritus of the Biblical Studies department at Florida College, Temple Terrace (FL)
  • Fors Clavigera
    James K. A. Smith, professor of philosophy at Calvin College, thinks out loud.
  • Friar's Fires
    an insightful blog by a pastor with a background in journalism, one of three he pens
  • Gentle Wisdom
    A fearless take on issues roiling Christendom today, by Peter Kirk, a Bible translator
  • Giluy Milta B‘alma
    by Ezra Chwat and Avraham David of the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts, Jewish National and Hebrew University Library, Jerusalem
  • He is Sufficient
    insightful comment on Bible translations, eschatology, and more, by Elshaddai Edwards
  • Higgaion
    by Chris Heard, Professor of Religion, Pepperdine University
  • Idle Musings of a Bookseller
    by James Spinti of Eisenbrauns
  • if i were a bell, i'd ring
    Tim Ricchiuiti’s place
  • Imaginary Grace
    Smooth, witty commentary by Angela Erisman (archive). Angela Erisman is a member of the theology faculty at Xavier University
  • James' Thoughts and Musings
    by James Pate, a doctoral student at HUC-JIR Cincinnati
  • Jewish Philosophy Place
    by Zachary (Zak) Braiterman, who teaches modern Jewish thought and philosophy in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University
  • kata ta biblia
    by Patrick George McCollough, M. Div. student, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena CA
  • Ketuvim
    Learned reflection from the keyboard of Jim Getz
  • Kilbabo
    Ben Johnson’s insightful blog
  • Kruse Kronicle - contemplating the intersection of work, the global economy, and Christian mission
    top quality content brought to readers by Michael W. Kruse
  • Larry Hurtado's blog
    emeritus professor of New Testament Language, Literature & Theology, University of Edinburgh
  • Law, Prophets, and Writings
    thoughtful blogging by William R. (Rusty) Osborne, Assistant Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies as College of the Ozarks and managing editor for Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament
  • Lingamish
    delightful fare by David Ker, Bible translator, who also lingalilngas.
  • Looney Fundamentalist
    a scientist who loves off-putting labels
  • Menachem Mendel
    A feisty blog on rabbinic literature and other Judaica by Michael Pitkowsky, Rabbinics Curriculum Coordinator at the Academy for Jewish Religion and adjunct instructor at Jewish Theological Seminary (New York)
  • mu-pàd-da
    scholarly blog by C. Jay Crisostomo, grad student in ANE studies at ?
  • Narrative and Ontology
    Astoundingly thoughtful comment from Phil Sumpter, a Ph.D. student in Bible, resident in Bonn, Germany
  • New Epistles
    by Kevin Sam, M. Div. student at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Saskatoon SK
  • NT Weblog
    Mark Goodacre's blog, professor of New Testament, Duke University
  • Observatório Bíblico
    wide-ranging blog by Airton José da Silva, Professor de Bíblia Hebraica/Antigo Testamento na Faculdade de Teologia do CEARP de Ribeirão Preto, Brasile (in Portuguese)
  • Observatório Bíblico
    Blog sobre estudos acadêmicos da Bíblia, para Airton José da Silva, Professor de Bíblia Hebraica / Antigo Testamento na Faculdade de Teologia do CEARP de Ribeirão Preto, SP.
  • Occasional Publications
    excellent blogging by Daniel Driver, Brevard Childs' scholar extraordinaire
  • old testament passion
    Great stuff from Anthony Loke, a Methodist pastor and Old Testament lecturer in the Seminari Theoloji, Malaysia
  • Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Blog
    A weblog created for a course on the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, by James Davila (archive)
  • On the Main Line
    Mississippi Fred MacDowell's musings on Hebraica and Judaica. With a name like that you can't go wrong.
  • p.ost an evangelical theology for the age to come
    seeking to retell the biblical story in the difficult transition from the centre to the margins following the collapse of Western Christendom, by Andrew Perriman, independent New Testament scholar, currently located in Dubai
  • PaleoJudaica
    by James Davila, professor of Early Jewish Studies at the University of St. Andrews, St Andrews, Scotland. Judaism and the Bible in the news; tidbits about ancient Judaism and its context
  • Pastoral Epistles
    by Rick Brannan and friends, a conceptually unique Bible blog
  • Pen and Parchment
    Michael Patton and company don't just think outside the box. They are tearing down its walls.
  • Pisteuomen
    by Michael Halcomb, pastor-scholar from the Bluegrass State
  • Pseudo-Polymath
    by Mark Olson, an Orthodox view on things
  • Purging my soul . . . one blog at a time
    great theoblog by Sam Nunnally
  • Qumranica
    weblog for a course on the Dead Sea Scrolls at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, taught by James R. Davila (archive)
  • Ralph the Sacred River
    by Edward Cook, a superb Aramaist
  • Random Bloggings
    by Calvin Park, M. Div. student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton MA
  • Resident aliens
    reflections of one not at home in this world
  • Revelation is Real
    Strong-minded comment from Tony Siew, lecturer at Trinity Theological College, Singapore
  • Ricoblog
    by Rick Brannan, it's the baby pictures I like the most
  • Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
    Nick Norelli's fabulous blog on Bible and theology
  • SansBlogue
    by Tim Bulkeley, lecturer in Old Testament, Carey Baptist College (New Zealand). His Hypertext Commentary on Amos is an interesting experiment
  • Ancient Near Eastern Languages
    texts and files to help people learn some ancient languages in self study, by Mike Heiser
  • Midrash, etc.
    A fine Hebrew-to-English blog on Midrash, by Carl Kinbar, Director of the New School for Jewish Studies and a facultm member at MJTI School of Jewish Studies.
  • Phil Lembo what I'm thinking
    a recovering lawyer, now in IT, with a passion for a faith worth living
  • Roses and Razorwire
    a top-notch Levantine archaeology blog, by Owen Chesnut, a doctoral student at Andrews University (MI)
  • Scripture & Theology
    a communal weblog dedicated to the intersection of biblical interpretation and the articulation of church doctrine, by Daniel Driver, Phil Sumpter, and others
  • Scripture Zealot
    by Jeff Contrast
  • Serving the Word
    incisive comment on the Hebrew Bible and related ancient matters, with special attention to problems of philology and linguistic anthropology, by Seth L. Sanders, Assistant Professor in the Religion Department of Trinity College, Hartford, CT
  • Singing in the Reign
    NT blog by Michael Barber (JP University) and Brad Pitre (Our Lady Holy Cross)
  • Stay Curious
    excellent comment on Hebrew Bible and Hebrew language topics, by Karyn Traphagen, graduate, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia PA (archive)
  • Sufficiency
    A personal take on the faith delivered to the saints, by Bob MacDonald, whose parallel blog on the Psalms in Hebrew is a colorful and innovative experiment
  • The Sundry Times
    Gary Zimmerli's place, with comment on Bible translations and church renewal
  • Sunestauromai: living the crucified life
    by a scholar-pastor based in the Grand Canyon National Park
  • ta biblia
    blog dedicated to the New Testament and the history of Christian origins, by Giovanni Bazzana
  • Targuman
    by Christian Brady, targum specialist extraordinaire, and dean of Schreyer Honors College, Penn State University
  • Targuman
    on biblical and rabbinic literature, Christian theology, gadgetry, photography, and the odd comic, by Christian Brady, associate professor of ancient Hebrew and Jewish literature and dean of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State
  • The Biblia Hebraica Blog
    a blog about Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, the history of the Ancient Near East and the classical world, Syro-Palestinian archaeology, early Judaism, early Christianity, New Testament interpretation, English Bible translations, biblical theology, religion and culture, philosophy, science fiction, and anything else relevant to the study of the Bible, by Douglas Magnum, PhD candidate, University of the Free State, South Africa
  • The Forbidden Gospels Blog
    by April DeConick, Professor of Biblical Studies, Rice University
  • The Naked Bible
    by Mike Heiser, academic editor at Logos Bible Software
  • The Reformed Reader
    by Andrew Compton, Ph.D. student in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (focus on Hebrew and Semitic Languages) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • The Sacred Page
    a blog written by three Catholic Ph.D.s who are professors of Scripture and Theology: Michael Barber, Brant Pitre and John Bergsma
  • The Talmud Blog
    a group blog on Talmud News, Reviews, Culture, Currents, and Criticism
  • Theological German
    a site for reading and discussing theological German, by Mark Alter
  • theoutwardquest
    seeking spirituality as an outward, not an inward quest, by David Corder
  • This Lamp
    Incisive comment on Bible translations in the archives, by Rick Mansfield
  • Thoughts on Antiquity
    By Chris Weimer and friends, posts of interest on ancient Greek and Roman topics (archive). Chris is a graduate student at the City University of New York in Classics
  • Threads from Henry's Web
    Wide-ranging comment by Henry Neufeld, educator, publisher, and author
  • Tête-à-Tête-Tête
    smart commentary by "smijer," a Unitarian-Universalist
  • Undeception
    A great blog by Mike Douglas, a graduate student in biblical studies
  • What I Learned From Aristotle
    the Judaica posts are informative (archive)
  • Bouncing into Graceland
    a delightful blog on biblical and theological themes, by Esteban Vázquez (archive)
  • Weblog
    by Justin Anthony Knapp, a fearless Wikipedian (archive)
  • Writing in the Dust
    A collection of quotes by Wesley Hill, a doctoral student in New Testament studies at Durham University (UK), and a Christian who seeks the charism of chastity
  • גֵּר־וְתוֹשָׁב
    by David Miller, Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism, Briercrest College & Seminary, Caronport, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • ואל-תמכר
    Buy truth and do not sell: wisdom, instruction, and understanding - a blog by Mitchell Powell, student of life at the intersection of Christ, Christianity, and Christendom
  • משלי אדם
    exploring wisdom literature, religion, and other academic pursuits, by Adam Couturier, M.A. in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible (graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)

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  • Ancient Hebrew Poetry is a weblog of John F. Hobbins. Opinions expressed herein do not reflect those of his professional affiliations. Unless otherwise indicated, the contents of Ancient Hebrew Poetry, including all text, images, and other media, are original and licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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    Copyright © 2005 by John F Hobbins.