Sacrifices in Temple vs Daily Prayer and Study of Bible.

Old Testament is very different from New Testament. In this post I want to share a few differences that I’ve learned from Shaye J.D. Cohen book– From the Maccabees to the Mishnah. First of all, Judaism was a religion of one nation, in other words Judaism was a nationality rather than a religion. If one sinned, the whole nation was punished. One of numerous examples would be Achan’s sin ( Joshua 7:1). Achan took devoted things from Jericho and God’s anger burned against the whole Israel. They were addressed as a nation by prophets and individuals as Anna, mother of Samuel, king David and others are considered heroes of faith and exceptions. They also did not accept converts, did they?  They worshiped as a nation in one place, Temple, and through sacrifices. I wonder if an average Jew had a daily prayer? I doubt that an average Jew read Torah as we today read Bible. To sum up, Old Testament religion emphasizes collective, views people as a part of the nation, and the nation had covenant with God . New Testament emphasizes individual as oppose to collective and an individual, not the whole nation, repents, accepts Christ as Savior and thus establishes new covenant with God. Every person has his own covenant with God.

What do you think ? Comments invited.

You Might Be . . .

If you have ever said,

“Do you spell that with one quail chick or two?”

If you have ever mowed your back yard and found a pyramid …

If you ever found your brother preparing a mummy in your bath tub …

If your church has a ministry to the boatless …

You might be an Egyptian redneck.

See Bad Bird for some resources for Egyptian hieroglyphs.

We’re all authors, aren’t we?

The NY Times says to this generation plagiarism is no big deal.

“Now we have a whole generation of students who’ve grown up with information that just seems to be hanging out there in cyberspace and doesn’t seem to have an author,” said Teresa Fishman, director of the Center for Academic Integrity at Clemson University. “It’s possible to believe this information is just out there for anyone to take.”

the idea of an author whose singular effort creates an original work is rooted in Enlightenment ideas of the individual. It is buttressed by the Western concept of intellectual property rights as secured by copyright law. But both traditions are being challenged.

“Our notion of authorship and originality was born, it flourished, and it may be waning,” Ms. Blum said.

What do you think?

Can we believe in “Mosaic Authorship”?

In our Mangano commentary, a very conservative commentary, Randall Bailey suggests a 3rd alternative to the authorship of Genesis. The first two options presented are:

1. Moses wrote it.

2. Moses did not write it.

He proposes a third option:

3. The book is one of “Mosaic Authorship”.

This solution provides that the work of Genesis is inspired by and preserved by God, but that Moses could have used other sources to write Genesis, and that editors/compilers of a “Mosaic” school may have completed some of the books of the Pentateuch.

Bailey says on page 101, “…Authorship, sources, and inspiration are separate issues. Moses may have used sources to write the Pentateuch and other authors may have added to the Pentateuch. Similarly, one may believe in the inspiration of the original autographs and acknowledge the evidence that points to additions to Moses’ work…”.

As I read this I breathed a sigh of relief. Can I really choose option 3? It sounds good, but does it really hold up in the wash? Can I have my cake (The Bible is the inspired word of God.) and eat it too (Yes, it really is a little weird for Moses to report on his own death.)?

Maybe I have been to quick to give myself the same answer that I give my children when they ask me things like,

“Mommy, if a baby is in its mommy’s tummy when Jesus comes back, will it stay in her tummy in heaven?”, or

“Mommy, if Jesus is God, and Jesus was dead when he came off the cross, was God dead for that day?”, or

“Mommy, where EXACTLY is heaven?”.

I always tell them, “Hmmm, great question. Let’s remember to ask God that one when we get there!” (Does this qualify as teaching your children Torah when you rise up, lie down, and walk along the path?)

Maybe I shouldn’t be scared to think about these seemingly scary issues of authorship? Maybe there are other answers out there or maybe it would be okay to really look and still not have them answered?

Is anyone else struggling with this? Has anyone else resolved it for themselves? I would love your insight.


What does biblical archaeology teach us? (wild card)

As my husband chose to go into biblical archaeology, I had grand visions of finding the ark of the covenant (or at least the bones of Balaam’s donkey). Indiana Jones knew dozens of languages, was able to make earth-shattering discoveries in civilizations from the Mayans, to Israelites, to remote Indian civilizations. This was going to be an exciting life!

The reality of biblical archaeology has been exciting, but in a very different way. I have learned to find joy from uncovering a water channel in a dusty, remote part of Jordan, where a dig on that site has continued for more than 20 years, and to let go of my need for sensational finds.

In the “glory days” of biblical archaeology in the 19th century, large finds that were spectacular were the goal of a dig. The University of Chicago Museum ( holds monstrously large and impressive finds from the ancient Near East culled from the rubble of that era of archaeology. But in the desire to find the spectacular, they missed much of what we are learning from archaeology today.

Critics of the early pioneers of Biblical Archaeology complained that men like Albright went to the holy land with “a Bible in one hand and a trowel in another”. (See the works of Bill Dever, for example.) Many of the early pioneers were men of faith, hoping in some sense to “prove the Bible”. Even if we can’t do that with archaeology (see the subsequent arguments over the dating of the sight of Jericho done by Kenyon), what can we, as Christians learn from archaeology?

One thing archaeology can do is make your study of the Bible much richer. If you look at a work like Dr. Fiensy’s, Jesus, the Galilean , he explains insights about the world of Jesus that are very valuable to Christians. What did the average man in Galilee eat, do, wear, worry about, fear, get sick from? Who were the people living in the first century? What was Jesus’ human experience and perspective? Archaeology helps to provide an clearer historical picture of a particular culture and time period that makes Jesus’ teachings and the words of the apostles more meaningful.

Even if the ark is not found, an archaeologist who will delight at exploring the remains of a first century sewer (Dr. Fiensy), can give us valuable insight and information that can make our understanding of the Bible much richer.

PS If you are in Chicago, the Oriental Institute at the Univ of Chicago is amazing!


Hebrew Language

I have been very interested in our discussions of families of languages. I didn’t realize that other empires , besides Rome, had ruled with particular languages that were uniform throughout their empire. As we have discussed the Hebrew alphabet, the written characters actually come from the Babylonian captivity when Aramaic was the ruling language of the empire. The Hebrews in captivity learned Aramaic and then used the characters to express written Hebrew.

This has challenged (maybe?) what I have assumed are major reasons that Jesus came into the world at the time and place that he did. I thought that having a standard of Greek across the Roman Empire was of vital importance to the timing of the Messiah. In addition to the Pax Romana, (Roman Peace), having a language with which the gospel could spread across the Roman Empire seemed to a primary reason to send Christ at this time.

Has a “lingua franca” been a common theme in history? I know that Latin was a scholarly “lingua franca” that allowed the scholors of the earlier church to freely communicate and interact with each others work.

On a side note, does having a ruling language seem in any way to parallel the Tower of Babel story? People desiring power and god-like status to accelerate their power growth with the ability to communicate without hinderance? Just a thought…

Back to learning the shema…


Greetings from a latecomer

Hello, folks. After some extraordinary confusion, I’ve finally managed to join the site.

My name is Tyler Martin. I am a 23-year-old 2010 graduate from KCU, and this makes my second class in the grad school program (Christian Leadership, emphasis in theological studies). My goal is to eventually teach theology on the college level, and I look forward to diving a bit deeper into Old Testament research and gaining a better understanding of the Christian tradition (and, more broadly, the work of God) as a result. For me, life is very much a constant learning experience, and it is my belief that intellectual growth quite often goes hand in hand with spiritual growth, and neither of those truly ends as long as one lives. Having taken this view, I find it hard to stay in one place, figuratively speaking–while the foundations of my views and beliefs have remained largely the same in the years since my life as a Christian began in earnest, the learning I have attained has always led me to see things in a much broader and brighter light.

As far as my personal life is concerned, I very much meet the qualifications for “nerd.” I love to read, both fiction and non-fiction, though lately I’ve seen more of the latter. My favorite authors include Thomas Merton, Martin Luther King, Jr., C.S. Lewis, Arthur C. Clarke, and Dr. Seuss. I’ve been a huge fan of Godzilla and his monstrous kin since childhood, and am also rather fond of Star Trek, Star Wars, and the like. The username I’ve chosen is a reference both to my “wandering” nature and to an excellent 1949 film by the great Akira Kurosawa. Music is also of great interest to me–I spent my first three and a half years at KCU majoring in Vocal Performance, and while my career plans may have changed, I see that experience as entirely worthwhile and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I’m still getting used to the whole grad school thing, but I’m ready for just about anything. Looking forward to some excellent discussion.