Month: December 2010

jane’s addiction and webpages on the scythians

On odd combination, to be sure.  Here’s why.  While tootling around the internet this morning, feeding my brain with some general ancient history (namely the historical context of the emergence of the Persian Empire), I stumbled across what appears to be straight-up plagiarism.  I’ll let you decide.

Here’s the first link: ‘The Scythians‘, from something called the World History Center.  Here’s the second link: ‘The Scythians‘, from the Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies.  The differences between the two are minor (e.g. word changes, formatting), but the similarities are . . . well, almost exact (aside from the titles).

Not really sure which site needs to be linked with Jane’s Addiction, mainly because of the overlap (and dare I say, ambiguity) in copyright dates, but there’s obviously some thieving going on here.

looking for some assistance*

I’ve been in conversation with people who are far more educated and knowledgeable than me about a particular reference in 1 Cor 2.4-5.  The discussion focused mostly on the possible meanings/interpretations of δυναμις (dunamis), specifically in the context of proclaiming the gospel.  One of the questions that arose from this conversation was: ‘how have Charismatic and Pentecostal writers dealt with this term in 1 Cor 2.4-5?’  This question came about simply because my treatment of δυναμις in 1 Cor 2.4-5 failed to account for such perspectives.

Upon further reflection and a cursory search of various databases, I’ve found that the failure is not so much a deliberate oversight.  Instead, it is simply the case that very little (to my knowledge) exists from the Charismatic-Pentecostal perspective on this passage/issue.  As far as I can tell, Gordon Fee and Craig Keener are the only ones who speak on 1 Corinthians from such a perspective.  (However, I should say that Keener’s treatment, as it relates to my specific concern, is not suitable or usable.  His focus more with the rhetorical force and effect of Paul’s argument).

This brings me to my need for some assistance.  Does anyone know of any good resources for me to consult that would be helpful for understanding 1 Cor 2.4-5 from the Charismatic-Pentecostal perspective?

* Many deep thanks to Nick Norelli for getting my request out as well.

an interesting little surprise

While following up on something I said that was recently criticised, I stumbled across an intriguing quotation from John Wesley.  Let me provide the quotation (slightly altered) before explaining the intrigue. 

And their [i.e. the early Christians] labour was not in vain in the Lord. ‘His word ran, and was glorifed. It grew mightily and prevailed.’  But so much the more did offences prevail also. The world in general were offended, ‘because they testified of it, that the works thereof were evil’, . . . The men of pleasure were offended, not only because these men were made, as it were, to reprove their thoughts: (‘He professeth,’ said they, ‘to have the knowledge of God: he calleth himself the child of the Lord: his life is not like other men’s: his ways are of another fashion: he abstaineth from our ways, as from filthiness: he maketh his boast that God is his Father’ . . .)  But much more, because so many of their companions were taken away, and would no more run with them to the same excess of riot . . .

 –J. Wesley, ‘Sermon IV’ from, Semons on Several Occasions (1853), 1.31

What intrigued me was Wesley’s use of quotations, specifically the sources from which the quotations are taken.  Though unmarked, the first appears to be a paraphrase from Acts 19.20–at least the final part of it.  The second quotation, marked with the first set of ellipses, comes from John 7.7–although Wesley adapts the text a little to suit his argument.  Skipping the next quotation for the moment, the final text, marked by the ellipses again, comes from 1 Peter 4.4–this time Wesley simply alludes to the content of that passage. 

It’s the skipped quotation–the one bracketed off in Wesley’s argument–that produced intrigue.  I did a quick search through the rest of the Sermons and found that this is the only time he quotes from this particular source.  The quotation comes from the apocryphal book, Wisdom of Solomon (2.13-16), though Wesley’s use of it is a bit scattered–i.e. his quotation does not match the original wording exactly. 

I was intrigued not only because this was the only time Wesley quotes from this book but also because he does so without qualification or explanation.  It may just be that I am not familiar enough with Wesley’s writing and views on Scripture, but I did not think that he would use an apocryphal text sandwiched between texts that are considered ‘canonical.’  Maybe he was taking his cues from Jude.

research opportunity

Over at Storied Theology, J.R. Daniel Kirk has altered the blogosphere to a research opportunity at the University of Gloucestershire.  The announcement reads thusly:

Dept of Humanities
University of Gloucestershire

The Department proposes to offer a studentship for a PhD in the area
of the Bible and Spirituality. The studentship will be held within a
three-year project sponsored by the Department’s Research Centre for
the Bible and Spirituality in conjunction with the Bible Society. Its
aim is to explore forms of spirituality that find expression in the
Bible, and the relation of these to other contemporary concepts of

The studentship, which is designed to cover a substantial part of the
student’s costs, may be awarded to a suitably qualified candidate who
proposes to work in any area of biblical spirituality, Old Testament
or New Testament, within the terms of the project. The studentship
will begin in February or September 2011, and is renewable annually.
Further details are available on request from:

Mrs Patricia Downes
Humanities Courses Administrator
University of Gloucestershire
Francis Close Hall
Swindon Road
GL50 4AZ

Tel: 01242 714570

In many ways this announcement surprised for me; I did not know that such a studentship was on the table.  Moreover, I freely admit that I was a bit jealous about this opportunity, seeing that I’ve started the third year of my programme (and the second year of my writing).  This is the sort of thing I was hoping for when I began.

However, my jealousy aside–because it’s ultimately meaningless–this is indeed a great opportunity for those interested.  The staff involved are phenomenal, and the intensity of study and quality of dialogue are deeply rewarding.  So, for all of you out there either finishing a Master’s degree in Bible, theology and/or spirituality and wanting to do more, or even if it’s been a while since your last degree but you’re still feeling a pull toward further education; stop reading this blog right now and inquire about or apply for this studentship!


In the Fall of 1999, I took a class on the Gospel of Luke with the sharp-witted and inimitable Jon Weatherly, at Cincinnati Bible College (now: Cincinnati Christian University).  At that particular stage in my life, I was beginning to develop a passion for learning and study (a passion that I sometimes wish was inflamed earlier on, but oh well).

My knowledge of biblical things, prior to Cincinnati, was admittedly scant (‘scatty’ might be the better term) and based primarily on things traditionally taught to kids/youth in the church.  So, realising this intellectual lacuna and my newfound passion to fill it, I was eager to find out and know as much as I could, even if it meant being stretched or pushed in ways that were not entirely comfortable.

In Weatherly’s Gospel of Luke class, being stretched and pushed was nearly immediate.  As a class, we were introduced to a number of new and exciting details about the third Gospel and many of these caused some disruption for teachings commonly given to church kids/youth.  (At least, that is how I felt about it).  One of the first disruptions came with the story of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, especially the bit about finding appropriate accommodations.

The traditional image usually conveyed shows Mary and Joseph wandering helplessly from inn to inn in Bethlehem, only to be turned away each time because the city was overcrowded.  As the search seems to turn to desperation, a compassionate inn-keeper saves the day by offering his stable for the visibly distraught couple . . . and the rest of the story is fairly standard.

In what seemed to be an odd mixture of bravado and sensitivity, Weatherly openly spoke against this traditional image–primarily because there is little to no historical or textual support for it.  (If memory serves, while taking notes on Weatherly’s explanation, I believe I wrote in the margin: ‘This will change things a bit’).  Since that day in Weatherly’s class, I have not only researched things further but also tried my best to explain it other people.  However, in what felt like the traditional image of the holy family, I found that most people had no room in their mental inn for this re-reading of the story.

However, thankfully, within the past few hours a number of blog posts have appeared by biblical scholars who advocate this re-reading of the story.  For more details on this, check out herehere, here (which has a cool little diagram), here and here.  All I can say is that I’m happier than a pig in the mud that this (corrective) explanation of the birth story of Jesus is making the rounds.

quote of the day

On reading and understanding the New Testament first in its historical context and not our own:

To concentrate attention on the New Testament alone is to concentrate on that which made the first Christians different from their Jewish contemporaries and to ignore what they had in common. Indeed, a distortion often arises because it is forgotten that most–if not all–of the New Testament was written from within the context of Judaism. I suspect that we tend to underestimate the Jewishness of the New Testament. The antithesis which we naturalyl make between Jew and Christian is foreign to Paul: for him the natural antithesis is Jew and Gentile. For him, Christianity is the true fulfiment [sic] of Judaism, which paradoxically embraces Gentiles.

–Morna Hooker, Pauline Pieces (1979), 12