Archive for February, 2007

I’ve built out a section of faithmaps.org with articles and reaction to the claims of Simcha Jacobovicia regarding the Talpiot Tomb.


Lots of good information and thoughts available now on the Talpiot Tomb. In the Talpiot Tomb section of faithmaps.org we’ve added info from

  • NT Wright
  • Mark Goodacre at Duke
  • Ben Witherington of Asbury Seminary
  • Darrell Bock of Dallas Theological Seminary
  • A Larry King Interview with Jacobovicia, Cameron, and Al Mohler
  • the GetReligion Blog
  • Dr. Paul Maier
  • a Newsweek overview article
  • an article in the Jerusalem Post
  • and others

If you run across other good articles and resources on the Talpiot Tomb, please mention them in comments and I’ll review them for possible addition to faithmaps.


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Fred’s opened up an online storefront with a number of interesting titles.

emergesque readers would be most interested in his new “evolution of an emerging” featuring a brief interview with mike frost.

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“I feel sorry for Simcha, but I know how these things happen. One’s enthusiasm for a subject propels one into over-reaching when it comes to drawing conclusions. The problem with keeping these ideas secret for the sake of making a big splash of publicity, and lots of money, is that peer review by a panel of scholars could have saved these folks a lot of embarrassment down the road. ‘C’est la vie.’

So my response to this is clear— James Cameron, the producer of the movie Titantic, has now jumped on board another sinking ship full of holes, presumably in order to make a lot of money before the theory sinks into an early watery grave. Man the lifeboats and get out now.”

Ben Witherington has serious doubts.

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I had been considering it, but now I think I’ll wait!

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justin taylor lets us know that Steve Jeffrey, Mike Ovey, and Andrew Sach are about to release a new book called Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution that’s entirely devoted to laying out the Penal Substitutionary Atonement theory that dominates evangelical soteriological thinking.

Of the book, JI Packer comments: “Responds to a plethora of current criticisms… with a thoroughness and effectiveness that is without parallel anywhere… I hail this treatise as an epoch-making tour de force.”

John Frame comments, “It presents a cogent defense of the biblical and historic church doctrine, and in my view it devastates the criticisms of this position.”

There is a whole site devoted to the book, scheduled to come out in March 2007, here.

This blogpost contains a link to Wikipedia, an open source online encyclopedia. Its articles can be edited by anyone at any time. For this reason, finding a link to a wikipedia article on emergesque indicates that at the time the link was added, I found that the article as it existed at that time was worthy of review or reference. However, because wikipedia articles are dynamic, care should be taken to verify information found in its articles.

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Excerpted by George Woodliff from Interview with a Vampire author Anne Rice‘s note in Christ the Lord out of Egypt

” . . . Having started with the skeptical critics, those who take their cue from the earliest skeptical New Testament scholars of the Enlightenment, I expected to discover that their arguments would be frighteningly strong, and that Christianity was, at heart, a kind of fraud. I’d have to end up compartmentalizing my mind with faith in one part of it, and truth in another. And what would I write about my Jesus? I had no idea. But the prospects were interesting. Surely he was a liberal, married, had children, was a homosexual, and who knew what? But I must do my reseach before I wrote one word.
. . . What gradually came clear to me was that many of the skeptical arguments–arguments that insisted most of the Gospels were suspect, for instance, or written too late to be eyewitness accounts, lacked coherence. They were not elegant. Arguments about Jesus himself were full of conjecture. Some books were no more than assumptions piled upon assumptions. Absurd conclusions were reached on the basis of little or no data at all.
In sum, the whole case for the nondivine Jesus who stumbled into Jerusalem and somehow got crucified by nobody and had nothing to do with the founding of Christianity and would be horrified by it if he knew about it–that whole picture which had floated in the liberal circles I frequented as an atheist for thirty years–that case was not made. Not only was it not made, I discovered in this field some of the worst and most biased scholarship I’d ever read.
I saw almost no skeptical scholarship that was convincing, and the Gospels, shredded by critics, lost all intensity when reconstructed by various theorists. They were in no way compelling when treated as composites and records of later “communities.”
I was unconvinced by the wild postulations of those who claimed to be children of the Enlightenment. And I had also sensed something else. Many of these scholars, scholars who apparently devoted their life to New Testament scholarship, disliked Jesus Christ. Some pitied him as a hopeless failure. Others sneered at him, and some felt an outright contempt. This came between the lines of the books. This emerged in the personality of the texts.
I’d never come across this kind of emotion in any other field of research, at least not to this extent. It was puzzling.
The people who go into Elizabethan studies don’t set out to prove that Queen Elizabeth I was a fool. They don’t personally dislike her. They don’t make snickering remarks about her, or spend their careers trying to pick apart her historical reputation. They approach her in other ways. They don’t even apply this sort of dislike or suspicion or contempt to other Elizabethan figures. If they do, the person is usually not the focus of the study. Occasionally a scholar studies a villain, yes. But even then, the author generally ends up arguing for the good points of a villain or for his or her place in history, or for some mitigating circumstance, that redeems the study itself. People studying disasters in history may be highly critical of the rulers or the milieu at the time, yes. But in general scholars don’t spend their lives in the company of historical figures whom they openly despise.
But there are New Testament scholars who detest and despise Jesus Christ. Of course, we all benefit from freedom in the academic community; we benefit from the enormous size of biblical studies today and the great range of contributions that are being made. I’m not arguing for censorship. But maybe I’m arguing for sensitivity–on the part of those who read these books. Maybe I’m arguing for a little wariness when it comes to the field in general. What looks like solid ground might not be solid ground at all. . . .
The scholar who has given me pershaps some of my most important insights and who continues to do so through his enormous output is N. T. Wright. N. T. Wright is one of the most brilliant writers I’ve ever read, and his generosity in embracing the skeptics and commenting on their arguments is an inspiration. His faith is immense, and his knowledge vast.
In his book The Resurrection of the Son of God, he answers solidly the question that has haunted me all my life. Christianity achieved what it did, according to N. T. Wright, because Jesus rose from the dead.
It was the fact of the resurrection that sent the apostles out into the world with the force necessary to create Christianity. Nothing else would have done it but that.
Wright does a great deal more to put the entire question into historical perspective. How can I do justice to him here? I can only recommend him without reservation, and go on studying him. . . . “

(links added to quote)

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“There are two kinds of pastors:

Those who are upset the church isn’t going to the lost
Those who are upset the lost aren’t coming to church.”

Ben Arment

Ben is the pastor of The History Church in Reston, VA.

I like the quote because it captures the difference between incarnational evangelism and attractional evangelism. Mike Frost is one of the most articulate spokesmen for incarnational evangelism. And Tim Keller also speaks around these concepts in his brief but excellent The Missional Church (pdf).

I personally believe that both approaches can be appropriate in certain contexts.

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