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Remember to Rate Creationist Kitties

April 23, 2011

Seeing as how it is Caturday, it’s only right that I remind folks to visit Jim Linville’s LOLaCreationist Contest and rate the submissions. For the lucky winner the first prize is a big Plushosaurus, and second is a pair of T-Rex shot glasses.

And while I’m at it, I’ll also remind folks to wrestle up their best Kabbalistic, dispensational gematria and come up with a date for the end-time internet meme.

End-times Internet Meme

April 21, 2011

Since last fall, I’ve been seeing (and receiving) pamphlets telling me how Jesus will be returning on May 21, 2011. If for some reason you’ve been immune from the hubbub of Harold Camping and his followers, you can find the initial pamphlet here and “Another Infallible Proof” here. I know several bibliobloggers have made mention of the rapture fever that seems to be running through the Dispensational community, but I’m going to make a suggestion. Let’s turn this into an internet meme!

At the risk of slapping down my beanbag chair of smugness in the studio apartment of scoffers, I think that the blogging community can come up with better arguments for a end-times date.

In the next month (since that’s all we’ve got), let’s see what alternative predictions we can come up with using the presuppositions that Camping uses to make his calculations (infallibility of Scripture, young earth, dispensationalism, etc.). Post your best ideas in the comments section below, or link back here from your own home on the net.

In case you are unfamiliar with Camping’s reasonings, one of the explanations for May 21, 2011 is as followed:

In 2 Peter 3:8, … Holy God reminds us that one day is as 1,000 years. Therefore, with the correct understanding that the seven days referred to in Genesis 7:4 can be understood as 7,000 years, we learn that when God told Noah there were seven days to escape worldwide destruction, He was also telling the world there would be exactly 7,000 years (one day is as 1,000 years) to escape the wrath of God that would come when He destroys the world on Judgment Day. Because Holy Infinite God is all-knowing, He knows the end from the beginning. He knew how sinful the world would become.

Seven thousand years after 4990 B.C. (the year of the Flood) is the year 2011 A.D. (our calendar).

4990 + 2011 – 1 = 7,000

[One year must be subtracted in going from an Old Testament B.C. calendar date to a New Testament A.D. calendar date because the calendar does not have a year zero.]

Thus Holy God is showing us by the words of 2 Peter 3:8 that He wants us to know that exactly 7,000 years after He destroyed the world with water in Noah’s day, He plans to destroy the entire world forever. Because the year 2011 A.D. is exactly 7,000 years after 4990 B.C. when the flood began, the Bible has given us absolute proof that the year 2011 is the end of the world during the Day of Judgment, which will come on the last day of the Day of Judgment.

Amazingly, May 21, 2011 is the 17th day of the 2nd month of the Biblical calendar of our day. Remember, the flood waters also began on the 17th day of the 2nd month, in the year 4990 B.C.

You gotta love that 2 Peter 3:8 move. Any dispensational prediction worth its salt has to use that one!

And please note: while this meme is open to anyone, there’s no need to get into a flame war on my site because of differing eschatologies. My attempt at humor in regards to this interpretation is not an attack on the basic tenants of anyone’s faith, no am I really interested in anyone being proselytized here (by me or other commenters). Play nice, everyone.


April 19, 2011

(HT: Daniel Kirk)

Reading Promblem

April 11, 2011

Obviously this relates more to adolescents than college-age students. Still, some days the comparison is apt.

(Comic courtesy fo SMBC)

Oldest Readable Text from Europe

April 6, 2011

Image via ZMEScience

The New York Times has an article on what is likely the oldest piece of writing in Europe:

Dr. Cosmopoulos, an archaeologist and professor of Greek studies at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, said the tablet, only 2 inches by 3 inches, was a surprise uncovered last summer in the middle of an olive grove in southwest Greece, near the modern village of Iklaina. Judging by pottery in the dump, the tablet dates to sometime from 1490 to 1390 B.C. Scholars said they had little evidence before that clay tablets were made and used to keep state records so early in Mycenaean history.


On one side, the tablet has one readable word, a verb meaning to prepare to manufacture. Along the broken edges are other characters, but not enough for scholars to make out the word or words. On the reverse side, the tablet gives a list of men’s names alongside numbers. Cynthia Shelmerdine at the University of Texas, Austin, was the first to read the writing and assess its importance.

Interestingly, as we are seeing in the developments related to the lead codices forgery, the mainstream media seems to be a step or two (a week or two?) behind the blogs. Tibi Pulu at ZMEScience had already posted on this discovery a week ago. His post provides more detail:

In the ruins of Iklaina, so far archeologists have found a palace, murals, fortified walls and this highly valuable tablet, most probably written by a local scribe. The tablet is roughly 1 inch ( 2.5 centimeters) tall by 1.5 inches (4 centimeters) wide, and has markings evident of the ancient writing Greek writing system known as Linear B, which consisted of about 87 signs, each representing one syllable.

Neither link reports exactly what the writing says. NYT states: O”n one side, the tablet has one readable word, a verb meaning to prepare to manufacture.” But, what exactly are the signs? Anyone read Linear B?


April 4, 2011

This past weekend I spent a beautiful Saturday indoors at the Northeast Association of Language Learning Technology (NEALLT) conference. The reason for my attendance was largely the technology. However, having a back ground in languages was helpful as well. Here a few thoughts and impressions:

  • While I thought that Second Life was passe (like Friendster and MySpace), apparently I am wrong. Many profs are using the platform for online language learning. However, I’m not sure of the direct applicability to my own courses. (Virtual vaccination with Jenner is the best I can think of so far.)
  • Any kind of online learning requires a balance between open inquiry and monitoring. Students are generally apt to multitask when placed in front of a computer and specifically susceptible to temptations of certain sites (e.g. shopping in Second Life).
  • Students have a tendency to doubt they are learning if you are using unconventional models. Gloria B. Clark and Martha Strickland gave an excellent presentation on how students expect flashcards and grammar drills in languages. Send them off to chat with a native speaker in cyberspace, and they don’t think it is learning. Take away: be intentional with your pedagogy, explain up front how this unconventional approach helps reach the course’s goals.
  • Microsoft’s Photo Story is a great technology for making clips that might actually do somethings better than Apple’s equivalents (*gasp!*).
  • No single package or platform does it all. Even those universities who have bought all the bells and whistles for Blackboard are still having students using other platforms (i.e. Adobe Connect, Facebook, Second Life).
  • No one tried to convert me. No one preached at me. Everyone seemed to know how to use the technology. AND, the wifi was free. SBL take note: this is the way to run a conference.

SBL National Paper on Ritual Accepted

April 2, 2011

The recent posts by James McGrath and Patrick McCullough made me realize that I should mention a second paper of mine accepted to this fall’s national Society of Biblical Literature meeting (for info on my other paper, click here). I will be presenting a paper applying recent work on sacrificial typology by Kathryn McClymond to the Nazirite ritual in Numbers 6. Below is the abstract.

Sacrificial Typology and Nazarite’s Burning Hair

Numbers 6:1-21 contains ritual prescriptions required for those who take Nazirite vows. At the conclusion of such vows v.18 states that Nazirites are required to shave their heads and place their hair on the fire under the well-being sacrifice (שלמים).

Scholars have traditionally looked at the burning of a Nazirite’s hair in Numbers 6:18 as a sacrificial event. Using a combination of internal evidence and ancient Near-eastern parallels, these scholars conclude that the hair represents the Nazirite pars pro toto. The offering of the hair represents the total dedication of the Nazirite to the deity—an act of self-sacrifice.

This paper questions the premise of whether the burning of the Nazirite’s hair is sacrificial and addresses this question by using Kathryn McClymond’s polythetic understanding of sacrifice. McClymond posits a spectrum for ritual activity from more to less sacrificial based on the following general types of action: selection, association, identification, killing, heating, appropriation and consumption. A ritual need not contain all of these types of action to be sacrificial, but the denser the assemblage of these elements, the more sacrificial an activity is.

This paper examines the ritual of the Nazirite in Numbers 6 according to McClymond’s schema and finds that the burning of the Nazirite’s hair has very few indicators of sacrificial activity. The paper concludes by positing other possible interpretations of the Nazirite’s burning hair.

Counterfeit Copper Codex

April 1, 2011

Jim Davila is posting that Peter Thonemann has confirmed one of the recently unearthed metal codices is a fake. I have been following the story with detached curiosity; but if you haven’t, these article in the Daily Mail and the Telegraph will give you the broad outlines.

I haven’t posted on these finds here largely because the codices were in Greek and dated to the first centuries CE (i.e. Current Events).

Eisenbrauns has posted a poll on whether the publishing house should offer lead tablets over at their yearly April Fool’s Day edition.  However, I can only hope that (given the date) this is not some April Fool’s Day hoax on the part of Jim Davila.

Last Minute Info on a Temple Lecture

March 30, 2011

I recently received word that Esther Hamori will be giving a lecture on female prophets/diviners in ancient Israel at Temple University. The talk will be at 4pm tomorrow (Thursday, March 31, 2011) in 914 Gladfelter Hall.

Last minute, I know; but I figured it deserved a shout out.

Excellent Bibliographic Resource

March 24, 2011

Gregorio del Olmo Lete has compiled an extensive bibliographic resource:

A Bibliography of Semitic Linguistics – Aula Orientalis

It seems obligatory at the beginning of this bibliography to set out its limits and justify its objectives. The aim of the bibliography is to collect and arrange systematically only those studies directly or mainly related to subjects of Semitic linguistics, namely, those centred on the study of languages and their phonological, morphological, syntactic and semantic constituents, from both the comparative perspective (close and distant relationship) and the immanent perspective (grammar and lexicon). Consequently, all other studies dealing with the history of the societies which use or used those languages and with everything that is built on them (socio-political history, literature, religion and ‘culture’ in general), remain excluded. This limitation may seem impossible or at the very least without justification and minimalist, in some way resorting to ‘formalism’, giving up the basic element, whose development a language has to perform, namely, the shaping of a universe of social representations, which generates a particular way of communication and creativity. One could say that it means abandoning the ‘context’ in which every linguistic formulation has its meaning, being at the same time its outcome.

This is an excellent resource, especially for Northwest Semitics.