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Archive for August, 2006

Star Trek Inspirational Posters

30th August 2006

Stephen Martin, my friend over at The King’s University College here in Edmonton, sent me this link to some humorous Star Trek Inspirational Posters. I think this is my favourite:


Posted in Humour, Popular Culture | 1 Comment »

School Supply Silliness? – White Out Banned!

30th August 2006

correctionfluidban.jpgMy kids all go back to school next week, so naturally we have been getting together their school supplies for the year. Most of the items are standard: duotangs, paper, pens, pencils (HB pencils of course!), etc. What caught my eye, however, was a note on one of my kid’s supply list that White Out (aka Liquid Paper, white correction fluid, etc.) wasn’t permitted “for safety reasons.” This was the first time for this sort of notice.

My first thought was “Huh?! Why in the world are they banning White Out?!” I considered this to be another example of elementary schools going nuts with silly rules. But why White Out? Did the caretakers finally get sick and tired of cleaning it out of the carpet? Were teachers scared that students would hurl the little white bottles at each other?

As it turns out, I guess in some schools sniffing correction fluid has been an issue. In the 1980s a kid even died from sniffing the stuff. The state of Texas even had an ad campaign highlighting the dangers of sniffing correction fluid:


So there you go… I guess I have been corrected! File this in the “things I didn’t realize” folder. Of course, since the 1980s the manufacturers of correction fluid have changed their formulas so that it isn’t as much of an issue any more. You can even get water-based correction fluid that won’t even give you a buzz.

Posted in News, Personal | 1 Comment »

Blog Cited in RBL Review

28th August 2006

Bob Buller, the Editorial director for the Society of Biblical Literature, emailed me Sunday to let me know that one of my blog posts was cited in a book review for the Review of Biblical Literature. This is what Bob wrote:

While preparing the next batch of RBL reviews for publication this morning, I encountered what I believe is a first: a reviewer cited for further reading a blog entry from a biblical studies blog. It was your part 3 of the discussion of the LXX psalm superscriptions. I hope that this will become more common, since a number of the blogs offer excellent discussions, but you are the first (to my knowledge).

This is kind of neat, IMHO.

The citation is to my post “The LXX Psalm Superscriptions (Part 3) – Liturgical Notices and the Psalms for the Days of the Week” and may be found in Eileen Schuller‘s review of Peter L. Trudinger, The Psalms of the Tamid Service: A Liturgical Text from the Second Temple (Leiden: Brill, 2004; Buy from | Buy from The review — which is very good –  may be found here.

Posted in Blog News, LXX Psalm Superscriptions, RBL, Reviews & Notices | Comments Off


27th August 2006

I do not want to make any political statement on the Middle East conflict or the politics of the BBC, but as someone who has watched more than enough Teletubbies to ensure no time in purgatory, when I saw this I just had to post it!


(HT Kesher Talk)

Posted in Humour, Popular Culture | Comments Off

Jesus Junk and Christian Kitsch 7 – Jesus Kitsch

27th August 2006

I haven’t posted in my “Jesus Junk and Christian Kitsch” series for a while, so when I saw the first item below I knew I just had to put together a special “Jesus Kitsch” issue!

This post is part of an on-going series on Jesus Junk and Christian Kitsch. Perhaps the best place to start is with my fourth post that discusses some of the different academic perspectives of exactly what is “kitsch.” Other posts include:

All posts in this series may be viewed here.

Jesus: The King of Kitsch

The category of “Jesus kitsch” is enormous. There is probably more Christian merchandise focusing on the person of Jesus Christ than anything else. Like all kitsch, what one considers kitsch is a matter of perspective (one person’s art is another person’s kitsch), though I think that many would agree that most of what I highlight below is rather “kitschy.”

“Jesus Welcomes You” Coat Hanger
I usually would save the most outrageous piece of kitsch for the last, but this time I can’t help but start with it! I don’t think that there is anything that beats the “Jesus Welcomes You” Coat Hanger for its “kitschiness” (is that a word?). I’m not sure what I would think if I actually went somewhere and had to hang my coat up on the spikes through Jesus’ hand — even the available colours scream “kitsch!” (Of course, the nails should probably be through the wrist to be authentic!)


This is the work of artist Oscar Perez, and as such highlights the fuzzy boundary between art and kitsch. He notes that “this coat hanger can hang two items, a coat or jacket from the fingers and a hat or a light jacket from the nine inch nail.” The coat hangers are available for purchase, though they cost $200 USD each or $500 for the set — somthing else that highlights their status as art. The artist has plans for matching right hand coat hangers as well as a crown of thorns hat rack!

“By His Stripes We Are Healed…”
Next time your kid gets a scratch, forget about putting a Dora or Spiderman bandage on it! Instead, you can put a Jesus Adhesive Bandage on it and let the Lord heal the boo-boo.


These bandages are courtesy of Archie McPhee, the maker of many other Jesus novelties (see below) as well as nifty “bacon bandages.”

G.I. Joe, Move Over…
G.I. Joe is nothing compared to this Jesus Action Figure! This Lord of all action figures stands 5 inches tall and has poseable arms and wheels in the base for smooth gliding action.


“Everyone has a different take on Jesus. Muslims saw him as a prophet; Buddhists say he was enlightened; Hindus consider him an avatar (the incarnation of a deity in human form) while Christians hail him as the Son of God. But, wherever your theological compass points, you will agree that this is the coolest action figure since G.I. Joe.” Once again, this comes from none other than Archie McPhee.

You Talking to Me?
While poseable arms are OK, if you really want your child to know the love of God, you really need to get him or her a Talking Jesus Doll. With this “Messenger of Faith,” your children can learn important Bible stories and Scripture in a fun, entertaining way!

talking_jesus1.jpg talking_jesus2.jpg

This doll is a foot tall and has fully articulated limbs, including hands and fingers that can gasp and hold. It comes with hand-sewn cloth outfits and sandals and quotes over a minute of Bible verses (John 3:16; Mark 12:30-31; John 3:3, 15:5, 20:29 — listen for yourself). To top it all off, this Jesus looks kind of buff!

Here’s another Talking Jesus Action Figure from Vicale Corporation:


This one recites the ten commandments (the Protestant version, of course!) in a very, very, deep voice that sounds more like the stern God of the Old Testament than the loving Son of God! Listen for yourself.

On the Road Again
According to the Bible, Jesus is with us until the end of the age. With this Dashboard Jesus you get a tangible reminder of His presence while you drive.


This dashboard Jesus will keep you company for your long drives, courtesy of Archie McPhee!

Head of the Class
Not to be outdone by Dashboard Jesus, meet Bobble Head Jesus. This cranially endowed saviour is available from Bobble Head World, where you can also get a Football Bobble Head Jesus:

jesus_bobble.jpg footballjesus_bobble.jpg

Jesus: The FreshMaker
Strange odour in your car? Forget those pine tree scented air fresheners. Let this Jesus Air Freshener cleanse your car with “the sweet scent of ‘Purification!’” (Hmmm… what exactly does “purification” smell like? Lysol?)


Each freshener measures about 4 inches and comes with a string for hanging from your rear view mirror. And you guessed it — it is available from Archie McPhee!

Jesus is no Pan-theist!
Don’t feel left out when everyone else is seeing images of Jesus — just create your own loaf of Jesus bread with this Jesus Pan. You can worship at every meal with this durable steel Jesus pan. And don’t worry about anointing it — your holy hotcakes will drop off this no-fuss, no-stick pan.


Order two today! (HT Edmund Ho)
Check Out This Jesus!
These Son of God Checks are just divine! (But spelled incorrectly — it should be “cheques” as us civilized Canadians spell it!)


Just think how you could witness the love of God every time you bounce a cheque!

Jesus is My Coach
No Greco-roman wrestling for Jesus — he plays the same sports your kids play! Your favorite young sports enthusiast will enjoy receiving one of these statues, which feature Jesus playing a popular sport with the children He loves! Choose from Jesus playing many sports including hockey, baseball basketball, and more. The statues stand about 6 inches tall and are available from

jesus_baseball.jpg jesus_soccer.jpg
jesus_hockey.jpg jesus_ballet.jpg

My favourite is the basketball Jesus, since it looks as it Jesus is teasing the kids by not giving them the ball! And why don’t the kids have hockey helmets on? Oh, I see, they must be following Jesus’ bad example of not wearing a hockey helmet! (If you ever wondered how Jesus may have played with others as a child, check out here).

Dress-Up Jesus
Every wanted to dress Jesus up in a coconut bra and grass skirt? Ballet outfit? A dress? (If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, you really do need help!). What you need, then, is a Magnetic Jesus Fridge Magnet set. There are over thirty different articles of clothing to choose from. Mix and match hundreds of different combinations.


You can also get a special Christmas Edition as well as a “Final Justice” edition where you can crucify notorious villains all by yourself.

Got Any Smokes?
How would you like to be butting out your cigarette on Jesus’ face with “Jesus hates it when you smoke” printed just below his portrait? If you want to quit smoking or know someone who may need some divine encouragement, check out this Jesus Ashtray.


Well, that’s about it for this special “Jesus Kitsch” edition of Jesus Junk and Christian Kitsch. Hope you enjoyed it!

Posted in Jesus Junk & Christian Kitsch, Popular Culture | 2 Comments »

Beloit’s Mindset List – How About One for Canadians?

25th August 2006

Beloit College in the USA publishes a “Mindset List” at the begining of every academic year that claims to look “at the cultural touchstones that have shaped the lives of today’s first-year students.” This year’s list may be found here. Even better, take a look at Chris Heard’s commentary on the list here.

The list is (naturally) very American.  It would be interesting to compose a list that would fit the Canadian context, eh?  Any takers? Suggestions?

Posted in Canadiana, News, Teaching & Learning | Comments Off

Teaching Classical Hebrew

25th August 2006

I will be teaching Introduction to Classical Hebrew again this year. I have almost ten years experience teaching Hebrew and I can say that I still love teaching it! For my introductory course am going to use Kittel’s text, which is now in its second edition:

Biblical Hebrew: Text and Workbook, Second Edition.
Bonnie Pedrotti Kittel, Vicki Hoffer, Rebecca Wright
New Haven: Yale, 2005. Buy from | Buy from

While I have a number of issues with this text, including the fact that the second edition is only a negligible improvement over the first (if even that), I still find it the best for introducing undergrads to the language of the Hebrew Bible. I like its inductive approach, though I do augment it with a series of more deductive handouts to give students the “big picture” before the text actually provides it. I have developed a number of resources for teaching introductory Hebrew with Kittel and most of them are available on my “Resources for Kittel” page. I also have a discussion of introductory Hebrew grammars available here.

In regards to Classical Hebrew grammars, Joe Cathay has a good blog post where he surveys some Hebrew grammars. I pretty much agree with Joe, though I have never found LaSor that helpful. I’m also not sure that when it comes to grammars there are only “basic” and “advanced.” While there is some truth to the notion that learning Hebrew is an “either/or” proposition, I see an important role for intermediate grammars.

Intermediate grammars are helpful for students to make the jump from the basic understanding of the language gained in a one-year introductory course to being able to understand the discussions in GKC, Joüon and Muraoka, or Waltke & O’Connor. There are two different types of intermediate grammars: those that focus on developing reading ability with some attention to matters of morphology and syntax (I would put Ben Zvi’s grammar in this category); and those that provide a summary discussion of the advanced grammars (I would put Arnold and Choi, Williams, and van der Merwe in this category). While the taxonomy of “introductory – intermediate – advanced” may not be ideal, I still prefer it to Joe’s (too) two broad categories of “basic – advanced.”

You can see my discussion of intermediate and advanced Hebrew grammars on my “Annotated Bibliography for Mastering Biblical Hebrew” page.

Finally, Michael Bird over at Euangelion posted on teaching resources. In regards to Hebrew one article (among many) that I found quite helpful in my thinking about how to teach Classical Hebrew is an article by David W. Baker called “Studying the Original Texts: Effective Learning and Teaching of Biblical Hebrew” in Make the Old Testament Live: From Curriculum to Classroom, edited by Richard S. Hess and Gordon J. Wenham (Eerdmans, 1998; Buy from | Buy from

All my online Biblical Hebrew resources may be found here.

Posted in Hebrew, Teaching & Learning | 2 Comments »

Gearing Up for the Fall Semester

24th August 2006

Well, I just spent the last few days in faculty meetings as we at Taylor get ready for the upcoming academic year (our academic year begins September 6). I don’t mind meetings; it’s just a bit jarring to go from the summer work schedule (which is quite flexible) to sitting in meetings for all day long (and pretend to be alert!).

This fall semester I’m teaching a full load of classes at the University College, including Old Testament Literature (a first year introduction to the Hebrew Bible; see the course web page here), Introduction to Classical Hebrew (a cross-listed university and seminary course), and Psalms (a senior university course). I am also teaching an extra course at Taylor Seminary (their OT professor is on sabbatical) called The Kingdom of Israel (I’m going to take a bit of latitude with this course and focus primarily on the book of Chronicles). I imagine my blog posts will overlap somewhat with the courses I am teaching, so you can look forward to (or dread) some posts on the Psalter, Chronicles, and Hebrew — among other things!

No more meetings for a while… now I just have to get my syllabi ready for the fall!

Posted in Personal, Teaching | 2 Comments »

Textual Criticism In Action (TCHB 9)

21st August 2006

In this post I will demonstrate the practice of textual criticism with two examples, Joshua 1:1 and Psalm 73:7, which highlight the practice of external and internal textual criticism, respectively.

This is the ninth post in a series on the textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Other posts include:

All posts in this series may be viewed here.

External Criticism: Joshua 1:1

External criticism, as noted in a previous post, involves the evaluation of a variant in relation to the “original edition” of the MT. This means that if a variant reflects an earlier stage in the literary development of a book, rather than a corruption during the course of its textual transmission, it should be disregarded by the text critic. Because these variants typically do not come to bear on text critical decisions, they are difficult to spot in English translations. Therefore, for this example we have to proceed directly to the Hebrew text. Compare the following readings of Josh 1:1 in the MT and LXX:

  • MT: ויהי ×?חרי מות מש×?×” עבד יהוה
    And it was after the death of Moses the servant of Yahweh… (cf. NIV, NRSV, etc.)
  • LXX: Καὶ á¼?γένετο μετὰ τὴν τελευτὴν Μωυσῆ
    And it was after the death of Moses…

In this example the MT refers to Moses as עבד יהוה (‘bd yhwh), “the servant of Yahweh.” This phrase is missing in the LXX. In fact, the MT of Joshua 1 has more than twelve additional words or phrases that are not found in the LXX. Further, the LXX of the book of Joshua is about 4-5 percent shorter than the MT. This leads one to posit that these differences in the LXX version of Joshua probably represent an earlier edition of that book. Therefore, because this variant in the LXX stands apart from the “original edition” behind the MT, there is no need to evaluate it by internal criticism. It should be ignored.

Internal Criticism: Psalm 73:7

The first example demonstrated the procedure involved when a variant is the result of a separate literary tradition. Psalm 73:7, in contrast, will provide an example of a variant that arose in the transmission of the “original edition” of the MT

An examination of a few English versions of Ps 73:7a reveals a significant textual problem. Compare the following translations:

  • NIV: From their callous hearts comes iniquity (cf. NAB).
  • NRSV: Their eyes swell out with fatness (cf. RSV, NEB, KJV).

In this verse there are two apparent divergences between the English translations, though only one of them reflects a textual difference. The NIV’s reading of “callous hearts” reflects an idiomatic translation of “fat” rather than a variant reading. “Fat,” it is assumed, is a figure for stubbornness and the translators took the liberty of interpreting the figure for the reader so that it makes sense, as modern readers do not think iniquity comes out of “fat” (cf. “crassness” in the NAB).

In this passage the textual variant pertains to “eyes” and “iniquity.” This is indicated by the footnote in the NIV, which indicates that they have followed the Syriac reading of the text rather than the MT, which the NRSV followed.

Now that the textual problem has been discovered, the preliminary step is to collect the variants. While this can be partially done by referring to the notes in the English translations, as noted above, exegetes should look to BHS to discover the exact nature of the textual problem. The verse in BHS reads:

  • יָ֭צָ×? מֵחֵ֣לֶב עֵינֵ֑מוֹ (BHS)
    Lit., “Their eyes come out from fat”

There is a superscript “a” after this line which leads to the second level of apparatus which reads: || 7 a l frt עֲוֹנָמוֹ cf G S ||. This “translates” as, lege(ndum) “to read” fortasse “perhaps” עֲוֹנָמוֹ (eonamo), “their iniquity” instead of the reading in the MT, and then asks us to compare with the LXX and the Syriac Peshitta. The LXX (= Ps 72:7) reads: ἡ ἀδικία αá½?τῶν, “their injustice,” while the Peshitta reads similarly.

Now the variant can be evaluated on its transcriptional probability. The word in the MT for “eyes” is עין (‘yn), while the variant suggested by BHS, and adopted by the NIV, is based on the LXX ἀδικία, retroverted to עון (‘vn), “iniquity.” The difference between these Hebrew variants is very slight as in the square script ו and ×™ are easily confused, especially in the DSS. Therefore the variant could be a result of the scribe confusing similar consonants. A major problem with this proposal, however, is that the LXX Psalms never translates עון with ἀδικία, “injustice”; either uses á¼?μαÏ?τία “sin” or ἀνομία “lawlessness” (30+ times). Better retrovert it to ×?ון “wickedness” and see an additional confusion between the aleph and ayin.

In relation to intrinsic probability, the MT makes little sense. The truth is that “their eyes come out with fatness” is incoherent. The NRSV’s “swell out” is an unattested extension of the meaning of the verb יצ×? (yts’) — especially with the preposition “from.” In contrast, the idea of iniquity or wickedness coming out of fatness, understood as a figure of speech for stubbornness, makes sense.

Therefore, in light of internal criticism, “their iniquity” — or better “their wickedness” — appears to be the most plausible. First, the error in the MT can be easily explained away by some common scribal confusions. Second, the MT is unintelligible: How do “eyes come out of fat”?, whereas “wickedness coming out of fat” is understandable once the metonymy of “fat” for “crassness” is understood.

Posted in Bible, Criticism, Joshua, Psalms, Text Criticism, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible | Comments Off

Codex Sinaiticus Integrated into

20th August 2006

This is kind of nifty: over at — a web site that allows you to read the Bible in the original languages or translation side by side — you can now pull up the page in Codex Sinaiticus while you are studying the Greek text, and it’ll even do its best to highlight the exact verse you’re reading! Zack himself says: “Whether you are a Textual Criticism scholar or someone that just thinks the early manuscripts look cool, I hope you’ll find this feature valuable in your study of the Bible.” It is pretty cool!

You can read the full announcment here. If you want to check it out, go here which will take you to the reading pane and then select a parallel text by going to the bottom left of the page, clicking the option box and selecting “Codex Sinaiticus”, and then pressing the Add button. This will pull up links to Sinaiticus as a parallel view to your Greek text.

For a short introduction to Codex Sinaiticus, read my profile here, which is part of my series on the Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible.

Posted in Manuscript, Septuagint, Sinaiticus, Text Criticism | 1 Comment »