Monday, May 20, 2013
Friday, May 17, 2013
USA Today's Dan Vergano reports that the Oregon Health and Science University has cloned human embryos. Why? For stem cell biology. Private funding made this possible, as the US government under President George W. Bush prohibited the use of taxpayers' dollars for such experimentation. You can read more about this sobering moment in our ethical history by going here.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
In my last Tapestry column, titled “The Five Not-So-Scandalous Women in Jesus’s Genealogy,” I made a case for relooking at the reason Matthew included five women in Christ’s pedigree (Matt. 1:1–17). Most commentators point to these women as examples of sinfulness—especially sexual sin or scandal. And I think that's seriously misguided.
I argued that Matthew intended his readers to think of something other than sexual scandal when they heard the names Tamar (v. 3), Rahab (v. 5), Ruth (v. 5), “the wife of Uriah” (v. 7), and Mary (v. 16). So what did Matthew’s readers hear?
To answer this question we must first consider the overall argument of Matthew’s Gospel, and it’s this: Jesus is King. And what point about King Jesus was Matthew making by including these five women? With the first four, Matthew demonstrated that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham that through Messiah all nations of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 22:18). And by including Mary, Matthew demonstrated that Jesus Christ is the promised son of the Davidic line. Indeed, the message of the women in Jesus’s genealogy is this: King Jesus is the all-inclusive Messiah for all the earth’s peoples, not only to the Jew, but also to the gentile.
The first four women named in Jesus’s genealogy—Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and “the wife of Uriah”— were, in fact, gentiles. And while the fifth woman, Mary, was Jewish, she couldn’t be gentile, because Jesus was the biological son of Mary alone, not of Joseph’s lineage. For Jesus to be the all-inclusive Jew-gentile Messiah, Mary had to be Jewish, but Jesus also had to have gentiles in his pedigree.
I don't think Matthew's point is only to give a head's up to women in an otherwise patrilineal genealogy. To affirm women, he could have chosen those with whom his readers were most familiar—Sarah, Rebecca, or Leah, for example. And/or he might have even included all the mothers and fathers on the list.
And if Matthew wanted only to make the point that God forgives sexual sin, he already had plenty of “qualified” men in Jesus’ ancestry from which to choose.
No, he had a different emphasis in mind. By including Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary, Matthew demonstrated that Christ has the pedigree to stand as king over both Jews and gentiles—over all the earth.
Matthew could not have made the case for gentile inclusion—which was of prime importance to his argument—with any of the men, because the Messiah had to be from the male bloodline going back to Abraham, meaning all the men had to be descendants of Abraham. So the only way to include gentiles in Jesus’s royal pedigree was to include his gentile women ancestors.
But how do we know Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and “the wife of Uriah,” as Matthew calls her, were actually all gentiles?
We begin with the first two women, who were Canaanites. Of Tamar, the biblical text says simply that Judah got her as a wife for his son, Er (Gen. 38:6). So nothing in Genesis would indicate that Tamar was a gentile. But Philo, a Jewish exegete who lived at the time of Matthew, wrote this about her: “Tamar was a woman from Syria Palestina who had been bred up in her own native city, which was devoted to the worship of many gods, being full of statues, and images, and, in short, of idols of every kind and description. But when she, emerging, as it were, out of profound darkness, was able to see a slight beam of truth, she then, at the risk of her life, exerted all her energies to arrive at piety…living for the service of and in constant supplication to the one true God” (Virt. 220–22). To Philo’s readers, and to those of his contemporary, Matthew, “Syria Palestina” was unequivocally gentile.
As for the second woman, Rahab—she was from Jericho (see Josh. 2), the first of the Canaanite cities conquered with God’s help in the Promised Land. Slam dunk.
And the third woman was Ruth. The text makes clear that she was a Moabitess (Ruth 1:4), so definitely a gentile. Score: 3–0.
That leaves the “wife of Uriah.” Now, notice that Matthew avoids identifying her by name, even though readers know he’s talking about Bathsheba. One might argue that this not-naming treats her as “the other,” degrading her. But wait. Can you finish this phrase: Bathsheba was first married to Uriah the [fill in blank]”? If you said, “Hittite,” you’re correct. And Matthew’s readers definitely would have known him by this title. So if Matthew wanted to emphasize the gentile-ness of Bathsheba, what better way than by reminding readers, using a sort-of shorthand, that her first husband was “the” Hittite? By the time Bathsheba bore Solomon, she was David's wife. But by reminding readers of Uriah, her first husband, Matthew stresses Bathsheba's origins.
And in fact, Uriah was not just any Hittite. According to esteemed Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar, “The story of David's defeat of the destitute Uriah (2 Sam. 12) marks the very end of the Jebusite [gentile] royal dynasty.” And as Heather Goodman noted in an article for bible.org, “This presents a nuance to the story about David, Bethsheba, and Uriah. More than a story of lust, it has political ramifications. When David killed Uriah and took [Uriah’s] wife, it symbolized [David’s] ultimate defeat of the Canaanites of Jerusalem.” (And if Uriah was a prince, as some suppose, that makes Jesus from a gentile line of royalty, as well.)
Now, what was so significant about Canaanites and Hitties? As Richard Baucham, author of Gospel Women, reminds readers, these two groups “were among the seven peoples of the land of Canaan whom God had promised to drive out and Israel had been commanded to annihilate (Exod. 23:23, 28; 33:2; 34:11; Deut. 7:1; 20:17; Josh. 3:10; 1 Kgs 9:20–21;Ezra 9:10). Canaanites and Hittites were as “gentile” as you could get. And Christ is both descendant and lord of them, too.
Some feminist scholars have argued that by making the women the “other”—the outsider, the gentile—in Matthew's argument, he has added his own insults to women. Yet the named women's other-ness is precisely what Matthew uses to argue that this King is different, even better. Whereas in the past all pedigrees of royalty in Israel stressed only a king’s Jewishness via his male ancestors, this pedigree not only includes women but requires women in order to establish Jesus as simultaneously the king who sits on David’s throne and the ruler of all nations, King of kings, Lord of lords.
 Eilat Mazar, The Palace of King David: Excavations at the Summit of the City of David, Preliminary Report of Seasons 2005-2007 (Jerusalem: Shoham Academic Research and Publication, 2009), 43.
 Baucham, Richard. Gospel Women: Studies of the Named Women in the Gospels. Grand Rapids, MI: 2002, 42.
Monday, May 13, 2013
· Teens spend 14 times more on food than adults.
· Teens spend 8 times more on clothing than adults.
· Teens spend twice as much on entertainment as adults.
A recent article in the Atlantic spells it out. Meanwhile, according to the New York Times, student loan debt approaches a trillion dollars—a dangerous new “normal.”
“What can we do? R. C. Sproul Jr. answers: the same thing we should do if we had a healthy economy:
· Ask God to provide our daily bread.
· Work diligently to help our neighbor.
· Consume less than we produce.
Sproul’s website: www.economicsforeverybody.com
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Standing in solidarity today with those who experience this day as a painful one, especially those who want children and for whatever reason are unable to have them. Read my Tapestry post by going here.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
According to Afrim Karoshi of Albania:
1. www.michaelhyatt.com (Leadership, Publishing)
2. The one you're reading now
3. www.tentblogger.com (John Saddington, entrepreneur)
4. www.marydemuth.com (Writer)
6. www.ericmetaxas.com/category/blog (Writer)
7. www.philvischer.com (Author, creator of Veggietales)
8. www.rachelheldevans.com (Authors, Blogger)
9. www.storylineblog.com (Donald Miller)
15. www.tonykriz.com (Author, one of the first missionaries who visited Albania in 1991.)
17. www.thecrossandthekitchensink.com (Melissa McDonald, a friend from Dallas Theological Seminary)
Focus on Social Media Practices
18. www.churchm.ag (A group of authors offering great content on the world of Internet and how that relates to church usage)
19. www.wpdaily.co (A group of Wordpress lovers who help the world use Wordpress well, offering the latest from the field of blogging)
23. www.buzzshift.com/blog (BuzzShift, a company offering training on Social Media)
26. www.donteatthefruit.com (John Dyer’s blog)
31. www.internetcafedevotions.com (a group of authors)
32. www.internetevangelismday.com (offering help on how to use Internet for evangelism, with great resources)
Blogging on Theology
33. www.blogs.bible.org (a group of blogs, different authors; /tapestry, /bock etc.)
35. www.thegospelcalition.org (a group of authors such as Justin Taylor, D. A. Carson, John Piper, etc.)
36. www.wordsfromwags.com (Pastor Todd Wagner)
37. www.ehrmanproject.com (A Theological blog responding to the claims of Dr. Ehrman)
38. www.danielbwallace.com (Daniel Wallace, a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary)
39. www.patheos.com/Evangelical# (A group of bloggers under Patheos.com)
42. www.relevantmagazine.com (A magazine with great resources on using Social Media for Ministry)
43. www.christianitytoday.com (Great blogs with great posts - /le, /women)
44. www.thomrainer.com (Theologian Thom Rainer)
46. www.challies.com (Tim Challies)
47. www.albertmohler.com (Theological Albert Mohler)
51. www.reflectious.com (Lee Koontz)
Friday, May 10, 2013
The Library is displaying one of the rarest Bible collections in the world in the exhibit, “The Story of the Bible.”
Yesterday the Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas dedicated the Charles C. Ryrie Library, named after biblical scholar whose name it bears. Dr. Ryrie, retired professor and chairman of the Department of Systematic Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary, has been collecting since 1960. He has amassed more than 100 Bibles, pages, and fragments from various countries and religious traditions. The scholar’s personal Bible collection forms the heart of the library, which is dedicated to the study of the history of the Bible and the Bible as an art form.
|This Martin Luther German hand-painted Bible is on display|
at the Museum of Biblical Art as part of the Ryrie collection.
The renovated library includes specially designed cabinetry with mirrors to allow viewing of all sides of the manuscripts. The first phase of the collection was exhibited in 2011 during the 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible. The second phase—now housed in the library—features unique selections such as Eliot’s Indian Bible (1663) in the Algonquin language—the first Bible printed in America; Wycliffe New Testament (1430); and one of the world’s few copies of Tyndale’s Pentateuch (1530).
Dr. Ryrie began collecting in 1960 after one of his classes gave him a framed page from the King James Bible with all of their signatures on the back. He started collecting pages, but “then I went on to books,” he said.
When asked what one thing visitors should see, Ryrie answered, “There’s no question about the Wycliffe manuscript . It is the first English translation. The Eliot Indian Bible is also important.” Eliot is the name of a missionary sent to the U.S. by a society in England to evangelize the Native Americans. “He first had to teach them to write and spell, and then he translated the Bible into Algonquin.”
The most exciting find for Dr. Ryrie was the Complutensian Polyglot. It lays out several languages—Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and others—side by side on the same page. “I found five out of six volumes,” he said. Then, “some years later in a catalogue from a different dealer, I saw the sixth volume. I ran to buy it. The last volume is more of a dictionary, so it is not as important, but it’s so wonderful to have the complete set.”
The Ryrie Collection also includes such masterpieces as a page from the Gutenberg Bible (1450’s); the first edition of the King James Bible (1611); Genoa Psalter (1516) with its footnote about Christopher Columbus; Coverdale’s first edition (1535) of the first printed English Bible; early Greek manuscripts of the New Testament; one of the world’s few copies of Tyndale’s Pentateuch; and Erasmus’s New Testaments.
The museum’s current display of the original King James Bible which has been on view for the past year-and-a-half, will be complemented by rotating exhibits in the library from the Ryrie collection over the next five years.
The Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas is unlike any museum in the world. It has a simple mission: to display art with a biblical theme. Established in 1967, it was named the Museum of Biblical Art in 1999. Nothing of its size exists in the United States, making it a treasure for art enthusiasts. Diverse types of art are exhibited, including bronze sculpture installations, drawings, fine prints, and oil paintings. Specialized galleries have been created for Biblical Archaeology, Jewish Art, Religious Architecture, Israeli Art, African American Art, and Hispanic Art.
Museum of Biblical Art
7500 Park Lane
Dallas, TX 75225
Across from the North Park Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 10:00 AM–5:00 PM
Late night Thursday until 9:00 PM
Sunday 1:00 to 5:00 PM
Thursday, May 09, 2013
Bioedge reports that an Australian bioethicist, Robert Sparrow of Monash University, says that using stem-cell technology to breed better humans in a petri dish is a real possibility.
First, researchers could create sperm and eggs from stem cells, as has already been done with mice. Such research has been touted for its potential to create gametes for infertile people or for allowing homosexuals to produce gametes without having to involve both sexes in reproduction. (Is anyone asking “What about the kids?” Might they be so backwards as to want both a biological father and mother?)
The production of embryos using sperm and eggs generated with stem cells, Sparrow says, would be splendid for eugenics. With generations of humans cultivated in petri dishes, scientists say they could eliminate unsatisfactory genes in the quest for better human beings. "In effect," Sparrow writes enthusiastically, "scientists will be able to breed human beings with the same (or greater) degree of sophistication with which we currently breed plants and animals."
He calculates that two to three generations of human beings could be produced in a single year—rather than the 60 or so years that the pace of natural reproduction requires. "An in vitro breeding program of this sort would give future eugenicists a power undreamed of by governments and would-be genetic reformers of the past. In a 10-year research programme, scientists might produce 20–30 generations of human beings in vitro—enough to achieve significant changes in genotype. Advances in cell culture technology and in the science of gametogenesis might increase this figure still further. Obviously, the more generations it is possible to proceed through each year, the more powerful this technology will become."
What about the ethics of this development? On the plus side, Sparrow noted it would be possible to eugenically enhance people without having to ask people to choose particular partners or to gestate numerous experimental embryos. On the minus side, the people who result from the procedure would be "orphaned at conception." With each generation in the petri dish, they would be more distant from their forebears. Dr. Sparrow is persuaded, however, that "adequate love and care from their social parents is sufficient to allow children to flourish socially and psychologically.”
Safety is definitely an issue, of course, because researchers would be navigating unknown waters in embryology. However, Dr. Sparrow points out that such was also the case with IVF and ICSI. "Thus, in vitro eugenics would not raise any issues we have not confronted before."
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
At the national meeting of the Evangelical Press Association, former executive director, Doug Trouten, delivered "Top Ten" lists at every meal. The following is his "Top Ten Bible Character Tweets," written in partnership with his son, Luke, and a few folks in the web. We begin with number ten:
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
I mentioned last week that I’m reading some contemporary award-winning works to catch me up on more recent writing styles (as compared with the books mostly written before 1850 that I studied for my doctoral comps). I started with this year’s Pulitzer winner, The Orphan Master’s Son. And this week I moved on to read the nonfiction winner of the National Book Award, Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine (Kate) Boo.
Though this is Boo’s first book, she is no stranger to the world of journalism and certainly no rookie reporter. In fact, she's a staff writer at The New Yorker and a former reporter and editor for The Washington Post with a reputation for writing about poor and disadvantaged people.
Thirteen years ago, Boo wrote a series for The Post about group homes for mentally retarded people that won her the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. The judges said her writing “disclosed wretched neglect and abuse in the city’s group homes for the mentally retarded, which forced officials to acknowledge the conditions and begin reforms.”
In Behind the Beautiful Forevers, she continues writing about the poor and disadvantaged, but she changed her setting from D.C. to the slums of Mumbai. And the result is something akin to “Dickens meets Dreiser in India.” Except—wait! The story's not fiction. Yes, it's a murder mystery, but it really happened. And the reader actually knows who “done” it. The suspense comes in wondering what will happen to the likable, falsely accused kid caught in the web of corruption that is Mumbai's infrastructure.
Boo moved to India to live among her subjects for three years so she could conduct the sort of on-the-ground, in-person, documented research that makes her narrative nonfiction so compelling. And although Boo logged thousands of hours’ worth of interviews, she never interjects herself into the story. Consequently, Ramachandra Guha, author of India after Ghandi, described Beautiful Forevers as “the best work of narrative nonfiction I’ve read in twenty-five years.” At times in reading Boo's nonfiction, I had to remind myself that the story really happened, because she so flawlessly weaved together her plot, dialogue, setting, and characterization.
The book's literary prose, filled with brilliant similes, helps the reader visualize the author's multifaceted characters. But I confess that I had trouble at times keeping track of them all. And I also came away despairing a little, recognizing that no matter what we do to alleviate the plight of the poor, our methods are flawed because we must rely to a great degree on people. Boo writes about how a slumlord “tapped the largess of a prominent American Christian charity, World Vision” to get public toilets (52), seeming to suggest that WV helped empower a corrupt man. She told of a renegade WV social worker who collected money and ran off with it (53). And she mentioned WV clipboards intended as gifts for children that were hoarded by the social workers who were supposed to hand them out (66). So what do we do? Refuse to provide toilets or school supplies? Perhaps. (As someone who helps provide humanitarian aid, such questions are always on my mind.) But perhaps we do risk/benefit ratios and determine to keep trying.
Despite the poverty, suffering, and seeming callousness about human life, Boo has provided a glimpse of India that's hopeful. Despite its many despair-evoking scenes, Behind the Beautiful Forevers shows that even with all the odds stacked against them, some people still long to be good. And, I would add, they know their government won't save them.
But then, neither can or does ours save us. Yes, I'm thankful that I live where I do—this book, like The Orphan Master's Son, made me even more grateful. But we must never trust in "chariots" or "horses" or governments if we truly know in whom we have believed.