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Monday, June 30, 2014

Dr. Tarrec’s Free Weekly Horoscope #7

– You’re filing frivolous lawsuits as the city burns.  Meanwhile the Red Queen and her fourteen conspirators are marching towards the capitol. 

Taurus – The letters you sent have been intercepted by hostile forces.  You will have to resubmit all those FOI requests concerning PAU NAY LORON.

Gemini – Recall the soldiers as soon as possible - there’s been a terrible mistake. 

Cancer – The dolphins have a plan to escalate their war with the dauphin.  They’ve already begun placing mines in French waters.

Leo – The gunman will fall asleep, even in the midst of perpetrating the crime.  Give him a pillow and a nice comforter before calling the police.

Virgo – Mabus is on the move.  Look for him in Shropshire where farmers are reporting strange lights in the sky and vicious attacks against their sheep.

Libra – Large clumps of hay and grass may fall from the sky.  Take the appropriate precautions to protect yourself.

Scorpio – Mix dew with minerals and the deed shall be done.  A brother will poison his sister during childbirth and the child will succeed to the throne.

Sagittarius – Have you been feeling heavier than normal this week?  There is a stone in your stomach.  The English Fleet left it there during maneuvers last week. 

Capricorn – The bodies were found, skulls crushed, ribs broken. One victim had her eyes and tongue removed.  Was it a Yeti?  More investigation is required in this case.

Aquarius – Lobsters, locusts, and lice shall appear in the streets of Geneva.  They will be naked.

Pisces- There is deuterium oxide in the drinking water - heavy water, and your kitchen faucet may now be used for nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.  

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Powerpoint Slides for Everyone - 2014 - Week 28

Here is this week's free background image.  You are free to use it in powerpoint (or any similar presentation program) or in any other project you might have at home, work, school, or church. Use it how you will.  I only ask that you share it freely with others and that you tell them you found it here.

For those who like to know such things, this photograph was something of an accident.  I triggered the camera before I was really ready.  But I kept it because it looks like something from a Maxfield Parrish painting.

week 28 photo Week28_zps788538f0.jpg

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Fiat Lux, Redux

Dixitque Deus, "Fiat lux." Et facta est lux.

Photograph Fiat Lux by Jeff Carter on 500px

Photograph Fiat Lux by Jeff Carter on 500px

(Not So) Biblical Limericks: Another Limerick for Mark Driscoll

No limp-wristed, hair product user,
Mark Driscoll’s God is a right bruiser.
“If I can kick his ass
then he’s not got the brass;
I won’t worship some hippie loser.”

There is a strong drift toward the hard theological left.  Some emergent types [want] to recast Jesus as a limp-wrist hippie in a dress with a lot of product in His hair, who drank decaf and made pithy Zen statements about life while shopping for the perfect pair of shoes.  In Revelation, Jesus is a pride fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. This is a guy I can worship.  I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up." - Mark Driscoll

The previous limerick for Mark Driscoll 

Friday, June 27, 2014

We Are One

We are one in the Spirit, yes
and one in the Lord,
one blood, one body,
one love between us all

and yet I am alone

Shared faith and uniform
is not a shared experience
I do not know what you mean
when you say the Spirit moved

We move together
pray together
sing together

and yet I am alone
from you
from God

You are joyful, arms raised to heaven
what can I raise except doubt
and longing

but I am here
and you are here
and God is here

and we are one

Red Lilies, Yellow Lilies in the Rain

Photograph Red Lilies in the Rain by Jeff Carter on 500px

Photograph Yellow Lilies in the Rain by Jeff Carter on 500px

Biblical Limericks: Take Pleasure

May your fountain forever be blessed,
take pleasure in your wife, that is best;
be infatuated
with her,  fascinated
as you take pleasure between her breasts
Proverbs 5: 18 – 19

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Biblical Limericks: Seven Days? Same Day? Same Difference…

Noah went into the ark seven
full days before rain fell from heaven -
no, wait, it says right here,
in the next verse, quite clear,
the rains began the day he went in.

Genesis 7: 7-10 / 7: 11 - 13

Biblical Limericks: But Of Course It Can’t Be a Contradiction…

How many men did David’s man kill?
Samuel says eight hundred – that’s fine ‘til
the Chronicler declares
that number an error -
the count’s three hundred under his quill.

2 Samuel 23:8 / 1 Chronicles 11:11

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sunset, Iowa

I don't usually post pictures of sunsets.  I don't usually -take - pictures of sunsets.  But every now and again...

Photograph Sunset Iowa by Jeff Carter on 500px

Biblical Limericks: Traditional, Biblical Marriage 2

If you take, from the captives of war,
a wife who is beautiful, she’s yours,
and when you’ve had your way
you may send her away
if you don’t want her ‘round any more.

Deuteronomy 21:10 -14

Traditional, Biblical Marriage 1 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A "Game" of Thrones?

A "game" of Thrones?  How cute...

(Not So) Biblical Limericks: Ken Ham Is Liable

I’ve said it often enough before,
but I will repeat it here once more:
Ken Ham is liable
to pervert the Bible
which says nothing about dinosaurs.

The Stars above my Neighbor's House

Last night I went outside and attempted some stellar photography.  The results aren't exactly stellar - but I'm fairly pleased with it.  This was a 10 second exposure at ISO 400 with my Super Takumar 50mm lens.

The Stars above my Neighbor's House by Jeff Carter on 500px

Photograph The Stars above my Neighbor's House by Jeff Carter on 500px

Dr. Tarrec’s Free Weekly Horoscope #6

Aries – Twenty thousand years of the reign of the moon have passed.  Now is the time to take up arms against her.  Fire all of your guns at once at the lunar tyrant. Shoot the moon.  Long live the sun.

Taurus – Do you hear those ringing bells? No.  Not the church bells, the other ones.  Make it stop. It’s not Christmas yet.

Gemini – You are too late for the execution.  Next time leave earlier, and don’t dawdle along the way.

Cancer – A “Great Man” falls like lightning during the day.  When lightning strikes the church during Sunday services the pianist will be killed.  Watch the weather forecast for thunderstorm warnings.

Leo – Seated at night in your secret study, alone, hovering over your typewriter, you hear a low droning noise.  It is not a diesel engine idling in the streets.  It is your cerebral cortex. Listen to it.

Virgo – Iconoclasm is once again in vogue. Go crazy.  Cut the heads off religious statuary.  It’s fun.

Libra – There is a panther in the woods.  The first taken is the first to testify. Only the second may be rescued from his claws.

Scorpio – Lay siege to the city by night and the stars will assist you.  However, few will escape from the sea.  There the starfish are melting and no one can explain it.

Sagittarius – A woman in Indonesia gives birth to a lizard, a gecko.  This is weird stuff, man.

Capricorn – Seek for the bones of Psellus; only he can describe the inhabitants of the planets that are neither departed souls nor angels.  Only he can answer the question of the eternity of the world.

Aquarius – Before the changing of the empires comes you will have a tragic accident.  Put on a clean pair of underwear and continue as before.  You can endure this humiliation.

Pisces – Your bank is at risk to hypnotists.  I suggest closing your account and moving your funds to another establishment.

Biblical Limericks: I Doubt It

I am not sure I trust the rightness
of proverbs which promise the righteous
that no harm will befall
just as I will doubt all
that say the wicked will face crisis.

Proverbs 12:21

Monday, June 23, 2014

Ants in the Lily

Crawling around inside the bloom of these lilies were some tiny little ants.  It's another shot using my homemade DIY macro lens. And it's the same lilies as seen here.

Ants in the Lily by Jeff Carter on 500px

Photograph Ants in the Lily by Jeff Carter on 500px

Biblical Limericks: Well That Seems a Bit Extreme

Tired of debate with that woman?
Tired of arguments with that man?
When you want to get rid
of them, do what Paul did -
simply hand them over to Satan.

1 Corinthians 5: 5 / 1 Timothy 1:20

The Weapons of Our Warfare (Second Amendment Version)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

I Can Tell You Which Parts They Aren't Reading

What part of "Love your enemies" requires an AR-15? What part of "turn the other cheek"?
What part of "you shall not kill"?
What part of "live at peace with everyone"?
What part of "my sword does not bring me victory"?
What part of "he makes wars to cease"?
What part of "wisdom is better than weapons of war"?
What part of "all who take the sword will die by the sword"?
What part of "overcome evil with good"?
What part of "God has called us to live in peace"?
What part of "the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world"?

Why is this church trying to - lure -  men to the church with the promise of firearms?
What part of the bible are they reading?

I can tell you which parts they aren't reading.

Haiku – June 22, 2014

red lilies, yellow
sway in purpling twilight breeze
will you dance with me

Red Lilies Yellow Lilies Dusk

Photograph Red Lilies Dusk by Jeff Carter on 500px

Photograph Yellow Lilies Dusk by Jeff Carter on 500px

Powerpoint Slides for Everyone - 2014 - Weeks 26 & 27

I was not able to post last week's free background image - I was otherwise occupied at music camp.  But I'm home now (at least for a few days) and I can rectify last week's failure and post this week's image.  It's a two-for-one special today.

These weekly background images are free for you to use in your own projects at home, work, school, or church, in powerpoint or not.  Do what you will with them.  I only ask that you share them freely and that you tell others that you found them here.

For those who like to know such details: the first image is a macro shot of a tree stump I found on the camp grounds.  The second is an abstract sort of image created by using (again) my homemade DIY macro lens  to photograph an old slide projector carousel.  I also used a red filter over the flash.

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Photo Contest - And Monkey's Might Fly Out of My Butt

I've entered a photo into the Weather Channel's "It's Amazing OUt There Photo Contest."  You could vote for me, and I could win.  "Yeah, and monkeys might fly out of my butt..."

Photograph View of Galilee by Jeff Carter on 500px

Coming Home From Music Camp With ...

My daughter came home with the 2nd place trophy for her vocal group.

My son came home with the territorial commander's award - an award given to the top musician at camp - includes a scholarship to the Salvation Army's CMI (Central Music Institute).

And my dog came home with a tick.

Last Night of Music Camp

Photograph Tall Grass by Jeff Carter on 500pxIt's the last night of music camp.  The songs have been rehearsed and we're ready for tomorrow's concert - or at least as ready as we're going to be.  The points have been tallied and the recipients of the awards have been determined. (But I won't divulge them, so don't ask.)

Tomorrow we'll show everyone what we learned this week.  We'll play our horns, we'll sing our songs.  But tonight, we have thunderstorms (which I enjoy) and flash flood warnings (which are not quite as enjoyable).

Thursday, June 19, 2014

You Can Paddle All Around in a Big Canoe...

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Beginner Band at Music Camp

Working with a group of beginners at Music Camp is a special kind of torture, I mean love - I mean both.  Some of these kids have only just picked up their horns this week.  Before this week they couldn't read music, identify notes on the staff, or make a sound with the instrument.

But we practice.  We blow and we buzz - and we sweat in the heat and the humidity.  And we make mistakes. And we try that section again.  And we make mistakes.  And we try that section again and again and again until we get it right.  (or as close to right as a group of beginners are going to get in these brief few days.)  And we do it all while ignoring (or trying to ignore) the planes taking off and landing at the nearby airbase.

Our final concert is on Saturday.  I think we'll have two very different classical pieces ready to perform ("Go Tell Bill" - an arrangement of the theme from the WIlliam Tell Overture, and a simple arrangement of the theme from Johannes Brahms)

We might have gone  a little nuts this afternoon.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014


I'm at camp, I know.  Surrounded by nature, by flowers and trees, and wild animals.... and I'm taking pictures of the power transformer.

Transformer by Jeff Carter on 500px

Photograph Transformer by Jeff Carter on 500px

Biblical Limericks: Class Warfare in the Bible

It’s because they have nothing, you see,
that the poor have to plead for mercy.
Even though it’s not fair
the rich don’t seem to care;
see how they answer the poor harshly.

Proverbs 18:23

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Campfire Parade

I'm at music camp all this week - teaching kids how to play a horn and how to read music.

Last night was campfire night.  The entire camp marched across the campgrounds following the drummers.  Psyche (the dog) loved it.  She watched, and then ran to join the kids as they walked.

We were a little concerned that it might rain (and there was some pretty terrible weather in other parts of the state) but the storms went north of us, and we had a pleasant time around the fire.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Sunset Grass

I'm out at music camp this week, helping kids from across Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota to become better musicians.  They're learning instrumental and vocal technique, and music theory.  I'm working with a group of beginners.  Some of them hadn't picked up a horn before coming to camp.

The days are long - and hot (today was hot and humid).  But the evenings are pleasant.  There's music in the air as the sun sets.

Photograph Sunset Grass by Jeff Carter on 500px

Biblical Limericks: Never Read the Comment Section

The internet is saturated
with those who are opinionated;
we can clearly perceive
from the comments they leave
that they’re foolish and overrated.

Proverbs 18: 2

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Wind, Weeds, Bee

A breeze blows through the grass and weeds of a field in Nebraska but the little bee (possibly of the Ceratina genus) doesn't seem to mind. (It's a very tiny bee.)

Biblical Limericks: Mornings Would Be Fine if they Started Around 10

If you are lucky I will just yawn,
if not I’ll be swinging a baton -
those blessings you rehearse
sound more like a rude curse
when you’re up singing them before dawn.

Proverbs 27:14

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Storm Moon

Last night was the full moon - the strawberry moon.  Tonight it's the storm moon.  We're under a storm warning tonight, but the moon is wonderful.

Storm Moon (Saturday 14, June, 2014) by Jeff Carter on 500px

Photograph Storm Moon (Saturday 14, June, 2014) by Jeff Carter on 500px

Biblical Limericks: Be Warned

My Bible I have faithfully read;
I like, especially, what Paul said:
Greet each other like this -
with a nice holy kiss,
but be warned, that’s how mono gets spread.

Romans 16:16

For Cindy.  Wink, wink, nudge, nudge…

Loaded Up for Music Camp

I'm loaded up for music camp this week. I responsible to teach a beginner's band class, a music theory and technique class as well as a painting / graffiti arts class (not sure anyone would think that I have any experience with graffiti ... ).

This is most of my stuff.  Not sure if there's going to be room for the kids...

Strawberry Moon - Friday the 13th, June 2014

it's a rare occurrence - a full moon on a Friday the 13th, and not one to let pass by without taking some pictures.  The last one came back on October 13, 2000.  The next one won't come around until August 13, 2049.  Though there's nothing particularly significant about a full moon on a Friday the 13th, except for the convergence of probabilities.

A full moon in June is sometimes called a "strawberry moon" - an appellation that allegedly comes from the native americans.  In Europe (where strawberries are not native) it is referred to a "rose moon."

Strawberry Moon (Friday 13th, June, 2014) by Jeff Carter on 500px

Photograph Strawberry Moon (Friday 13th,  June, 2014) by Jeff Carter on 500px

Friday, June 13, 2014

Biblical Limericks: Trumps the Second Amendment

The Bible describes proper treatment
of our enemies in its content:
give to them food and drink
but only if you think
Proverbs trumps the Second Amendment.

Proverbs 25: 21 - 22

Thursday, June 12, 2014


I made this photograph a few weeks ago (note the still leafless branches of the tree) from my backyard.

Nightglow by Jeff Carter on 500px

Photograph Nightglow by Jeff Carter on 500px

Biblical Limericks: Traditional, Biblical Marriage

“Traditional marriage” they prefer,
and to the Bible they will refer,
but that can cut both ways
as what it seems to say
is that Cain married his own sister.

Genesis 4: 17

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Biblical Limericks: It Just Goes On and On and On…

Sometimes Bible reading is a chore;
there are chapters I’d like to ignore,
and if forced to come clean
about Psalm 119,
frankly, I think that it’s a great bore.

Psalm 119

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Jacob at Bethel

...and he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it... Genesis 28:12

Jacob at Bethel photo jacobatbethel_zpse3b86d5b.jpg

Pieces of Glass

Pieces of Glass by Jeff Carter on 500px

Photograph Pieces of Glass by Jeff Carter on 500px

Biblical Limericks: It’s a Dead Man’s Party

Once, at a graveyard, we spied a band
of Moabite raiders in our land;
so we tossed the corpse in
with Elisha’s skel’ton -
the corpse came to life and up he stands.

2 Kings 13: 21

Monday, June 9, 2014

Biblical Haiku: Jeremiah 51: 1 – 2

a destructive wind
through Babylonian grain
strangers take it all

Biblical Limericks: Psalm 129

How often they have assaulted me,
dragging their plows ‘cross my back with glee.
May they wither like grass
and as harvesters pass
they won’t say, “Yahweh’s blessing on thee.”

Psalm 129

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Biblical Limericks: Can I or Can’t I?

Read Colossians one and you’ll conclude
that God’s invisible, can’t be viewed;
other scripture verses
appear to reverse this -
you can see him, but then you’re just screwed.

Colossians 1: 15 / Exodus 33: 20

Slide Carousel Abstractions

These abstract images were created by photographing through the slots of an old slide carousel.

Photograph Slide Carousel by Jeff Carter on 500px

Photograph Slide Carousel by Jeff Carter on 500px

Photograph Slide Carousel by Jeff Carter on 500px

Photograph Slide Carousel by Jeff Carter on 500px

Powerpoint Slides for Everyone - 2014 - Week 25

Here is this week's free background image.  I make one of these every week to use in powerpoint slides at my church, and I share them here with you.  You are free to use them in Powerpoint (or other similar presentation programs) or to use them in any of your projects at home, work, school, or church.  Use them how and where you will.  I only ask that you share them freely and that you tell others that you found them here.

For those who like to know such things - the photograph is of the corroded underside of a sheet of metal.  Gross. But it makes for a nice picture.

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Biblical Limericks: When Did the Spirit Come?

Luke says the Spirit came at Pent’cost,
though his telling can’t fully exhaust
the gospel mystery
for in John’s history
it was Easter day, but that’s oft lost.

John 20: 22 / Acts 2: 1 - 2

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Public and Private

It's another shot using my homemade DIY macro lens.  I found the bill - the fragment of the bill actually - in the grass as I was walking the other day.  It had been run over by a lawn mower, apparently.

Public and Private by Jeff Carter on 500px

Photograph Public and Private by Jeff Carter on 500px

(Not So) Biblical Limericks: We’re Number One!

Perhaps we can blame the Puritans,
but whatever the thought’s origins
it is, in its essence,
nothing but arrogance
to think God favors us Americans.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Biblical Limericks: What Did He Know, and When Did He Know It?

We accept his masculinity,
but of Jesus’ infinity -
if we’re to be candid
we’ll have to ask, “When did
he realize his divinity?” 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Dancing Dew

Sunlight dancing on the dew in the grass first thing in the morning.

(Not So) Biblical Limericks: We Shall Be Changed…

When the rapture comes for me and you
what changes will our bodies go through?
Maybe I’m cynical;
we’re told it’s physical,
but what happens to our pee and poo?

More Anomalies A – Z: Zamzummim

That too was considered a land of the Rephaim, who used to live there; but the Ammonites called them Zamzummim.  They were a people strong and numerous, and as tall as the Anakim. The Lord destroyed them from before the Ammonites, who drove them out and settled in their place. – Deuteronomy 2: 20 – 21

This land was inhabited by giants
once, long ago, near the beginning,
from Arabella to Aqaba.

Excavators occasionally bring their bones to the surface;
grossly oversized in limb and length,
how they must have towered over the land,

straddling the geological rift
and shaking the earth with their strides.

They were bold and strong.

But that was long ago,
before the waters came
and they were destroyed.

Four hundred and nine thousand all,
drowned, or crushed in the crash of waves
against stone peaks.
Tall as they were, they were not tall enough.

The giants are gone,
but their enfeebled spirits linger -
those few who escaped the chains of Tartarus;
you can hear them buzzing in the heat
of long summer nights,

the last mummers of their dying speech.

This is my third completed pass through the alphabet with these anomalies.  You can read through them all here, if you like. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

More Anomalies A – Z: Yareah

Do not heed the fire or the wind;
listen not to the swift rushing air or turbulent waters,
neither the circle of stars
nor all the luminaries of heaven.

Do not look to me for I am only the lesser light,
a traveler moving in borrowed splendor;
let not your heart be moved
 or secretly enticed.

Do not let your mouth kiss your hand.

Your unconscious mind
and memories like the variable tides
sink into the darkening skies and shadows.
You are wearied with your many consultations;
there is none to stand up and save you.

Patients will sleep,
falling into their deep wounds.
Abandon your probing eyes,
gazing at the stars at each new moon
to predict what shall befall.

I am Yahreah, and subject to the laws of the Lord.

Powerpoint Slides for Everyone - 2014 - Week 24

Here it is. Here it is.  This week's free background image for use in Powerpoint slides (or other similar presentation programs), or in any other project you might have.  Use it at home, work, school, or church. Use it how and where you will, I only ask that you share it freely and that you tell others that you found it here.

For those who may like to know the details I took this photograph using my homemade DIY macro lens (I'm getting a lot of use out of it...) The flowers are a type of Sedum - also known as Stonecrops - (I can't be more specific; I'm not a trained botanist.) and are growing in front of my neighbor's house.

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Peony Blur

I love how photographs distort an image.  I used my homemade DIY macro lens to get as close as possible to a peony bloom - right down to the point where it becomes less a picture of a flower - than an abstract image of color and light and shadows.

Peony Blur by Jeff Carter on 500px

Photograph Peony Blur by Jeff Carter on 500px

Biblical Limericks: Jeff Doesn’t Do That

I don’t intend to cast aspersion
on the gospel found in John’s version,
but it’s just a bit odd
that in his prayer to God
Jesus speaks using the third person.

John 17: 3

Sunday, June 1, 2014

More Reflector Dish

These three pictures (like the previous three) are of the light bulb and reflector dish from an old slide projector.  I took them using my homemade DIY macro lens.  I'm also attempting to use the lens from the projector with my camera.  I've very nearly made a way to adapt it; watch for that post in the near future.

These photographs (and many more of my photographs) are available for purchase - either as digital download or as a professional quality print.  And the money I receive in these sales is donated to the Salvation Army in Newton, Iowa.  You get fine art.  The Salvation Army gets money to continue its work; everyone wins.

Photograph Reflector Dish by Jeff Carter on 500px

Photograph Reflector Dish by Jeff Carter on 500px

Biblioblog Carnival - May 2014

Welcome to the Biblioblog Carnival for May 2014. We searched the internets all through the month of May to find interesting and compelling articles related to the field of biblical studies. There's something here for everyone, something to delight, to mystify, to tickle, to horrify (we include the N.T. Wright clip specifically to horrify and annoy Jim West), and to amuse you. If we fail to deliver this, we'll return your full ticket price.

By the way, before you get lost in the carnival grounds, next month's carnival will be hosted by Phil Long at his blog Reading Acts.  You'll want to check it out, I'm sure.  And if you're interested in hosting the carnival at your blog please (PLEASE!) contact Phil.  He is "semi-desperate..for volunteers for the rest of the year."

Oldest Reference to Israel Outside the Bible

Bereshit - In the Beginning of...  "Let’s begin with music. In the beginning of God’s creating of the heavens and of the earth."

Noah – Hollywood Midrash  "Aronofsky’s version of the Noah story is keenly aware that traditions are living things that develop over time, and draws upon the Noah story--or stories--as they were actually being told and repeated by believers down through the centuries. Not everything Aronofsky adds can be traced to ancient sources, but I have to applaud him for actually doing some research into how the Noah story was received and interpreted before embarking on his own interpretation."

Ten Ancient Stories and the Geological Events that May Have Inspired Them "Myths have fed the imaginations and souls of humans for thousands of years. The vast majority of these tales are just stories people have handed down through the ages. But a few have roots in real geological events of the past, providing warning of potential dangers and speaking to the awe we hold for the might of the planet."

URCall: Herodotus and Babel "Being, after all, the so-called “Father of History,” Herodotus wasn’t necessarily all that great at it by modern standards. That is to say, while many of the things that he wrote about did happen, others are derived from the myths and legends of his time – the distinction was not as important to his readers as it is to us. Finding that Herodotus has repeated your particular myth is not therefore the stamp of approval Lloyd makes it out to be."

On Religious Commitment and Violence: A Reading of the Akedah "I like to go with the Jewish description (the Akedah) of this event--the binding of Isaac--rather than the typical Christian description--the sacrifice of Isaac--because, well, Isaac was bound for a sacrifice but wasn't actually sacrificed."

Liberation Theology, Moses, and Us  "Watching The Prince of Egypt was the first time I’d really thought about Moses and The Exodus since I’ve started looking into Liberation Theology, and one of the things that stood out to me this time was what Moses had to overcome in order to become the man that could lead the Jews."

The Ten Words and their Music "Exodus has some interesting points in both music and translation. There may even be some irony in the accented musical figures created by doubling a sub-linear sign on a change in the reciting note. In the short commandments, they provide emphasis on the first and last syllables."

Did Moses Invent Secular Government?  "As I understand it, correction invited if I'm wrong, it was standard in the ancient world for the highest religious offices to be occupied by those also in the highest political offices. That is there was no way to separate the religious and the secular authorities."

Are the “Ten Commandments” in the Bible? "The first problem with the suggestion that Christians should know the Ten Commandments is the fact Bible never refers to anything called, “the Ten Commandments.” This phrase in Hebrew would be (עְַשֶׂרֶת הַמִּצְוֹת). It does not exist in the Old Testament."

Land Allotments "The narrator follows up by describing the boundaries of the land under Israelite control on the east side of the Jordan, reminding us once more about how Moses defeated King Og and King Sihon (will he ever stop going on about that?). We are told that the Israelites had failed to drive out the Geshurites and Maacathites, who still live within Israel 'to this day'"

Is the “Song of Deborah” Sexually Suggestive and Bawdy? "The Song of Deborah and Barak in Judges 5 sounds a bit like a drinking song one might have heard in an Ancient Near Eastern bar frequented by fighting men."

I Chronicles 9  "This story is an example of how disturbing the Old Testament can be to modern people, who generally believe that people should be punished for their own sins, not the sins of their parents or ancestors."

Free Adaptation, Translation without Word Boundaries – Psalm 16 
You will not throw me off into shadowy places with Dead Rulers.
You will not allow anyone within your love and mercy to see destruction.
You will show me the path of life,
satisfaction, gladness, your continuing presence,
pleasures in your governance always.

This is the Sunday School Pageant I’d Love to See: Psalm 82 "Psalm 82 is a dazzlingly weird passage. It’s a lot more like something out of Neil Gaiman than most of the Psalms. The scene is a “divine council” in which God meets with all the other Gods and informs them that they’re all in danger of losing their jobs and dying like mere mortals if they don’t get their act together and defend justice for the weak and needy."

Ramblings on Isaiah 58, the Sabbath, and Edward J. Young "I was consulting Young’s commentary because I had a question: Was Isaiah 58 saying that the Israelites should help the poor while they are fasting from food, or that they should help the poor instead of fasting?  What does it mean to call helping the poor a “fast”?  Is the author here saying that helping the poor will accomplish what the Israelites are looking to fasting to do: to get God’s attention so that Israel will be blessed?"

An Increasing Awareness of Resurrection Theology in the LXX  "I wanted to draw attention to a few passages in the Septuagint which actually alter the Hebrew text into a more ‘resurrection themed’ theology."

The Septuagint Sessions #6 – A Problem with the Apocrypha "In this podcast, I wanted to talk about a problem in research on the LXX that stems from a canonical bias."

The Gospel of Matthew
The Politics of Biblical Genealogies  "...despite scholarly attention tending to focus on the unusual inclusion of the four female names in the genealogy, there are also strong echoes of sociopolitical displacement within the text. This is evident both from the repeated emphasis on the Babylonian exile, but also by the simple (but original as far as I am aware) observation that of the forty or so names in the genealogy, at least fifteen can be explicitly linked to episodes of forced displacement, wandering, and political instability in the Old Testament."

Was Jesus Employed? "The assumption that Jesus himself wasn’t overly affected by the economic and political turmoil in ancient Galilee is surprisingly common. And even though scholars devote considerable attention to exploring this ancient context, Jesus still seems able to move about and make economic decisions with relative ease. This, I would contend, reflects more about capitalist middle-class assumptions of individual entrepreneurship and full employment, than it does the marginalizing reality of itinerancy  or underemployment in the ancient world."

Jesus as Teacher of Happiness  "The ever-impressive Luke Timothy Johnson explores Matthew's portrait of Jesus as teacher in this lecture. LTJ sets Jesus' view of happiness in conversation with other ancient philosophers."

John the Baptist Evoking the Sodom and Gomorrah Memory I find the kerygma of John the Baptist to be rather interesting. He is in the same region at the Sodom and Gomorrah incident. He preaches repentance and the coming wrath which will, coincidentally, involve a judgment with fire, just like the fires of judgment mentioned in Genesis 19. John tells his audience that they should not presume that their relationship to Abraham would grant them immunity in the coming judgment, as it did with Lot. No, they should produce fruit worthy of repentance.

The Gospel of Mark
The First Century' Gospel of Mark, Josh McDowell, and Mummy Masks: What They All Have in Common  “And you start pulling it apart. You say, “What?” Yep! They’re layered on top of each other. You start pulling them apart. Most scholars have never touched a manuscript. You have to have gloves on and everything…we just wash them and hold them in our hands. [Laughing] We don’t even make you wash your hands before.”

Apparently this is very funny to McDowell.

Jesus as the Primary Actor "I suggest Jesus believes God has abandoned Israel and therefore acts to take within himself the chaos of a God-abandoned cosmos. I arrive at this conclusion by reading the narrative of Jesus through the lens of the Roman poet Lucan and his work, Pharsalia — focusing especially on his characterization of Cato the Younger. What emerges is an image not of a sacrifice whereby Jesus was a willing victim of God, but a “divine man” and “hero” who freely chooses to die in order to save an Israel abandoned by God."

Was the Ending of Mark’s Gospel Lost?  "NT Pod 71 discusses the ending of Mark's Gospel. It is just under fifteen minutes long."

Mark’s Ending "Can we really say that everyone throughout church history has found Mark's short ending a problem?  I don't think so."

Gospel of Luke
Jesus, Clobber Texts and the Centurion’s ‘Companion’ "It’s not unusual for words to have such very different meanings. Think of the many ways we use the word 'companion.' Strictly speaking, it just means someone with whom one travels or with whom one spends a lot of time. It’s thus a common term for personal assistants — people in an economic relationship with an employer who would, in a more class-candid culture, be referred to as 'servants.' So we might say, for instance, that 'Adrian Monk arrived at the crime scene accompanied by his companion, Natalie Teeger,' and it would be a mistake to infer anything more intimate or romantic implied by the term."

Rossano Gospels: The Good Samaritan "The Rossano Gospels depict two parables: the Good Samaritan and the Wise and Foolish Virgins. The depiction of the Good Samaritan is placed in the cycle of pictures that depict the Passion of Jesus—between Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and healing of two blind men on one side and Jesus’ trial before Pilate on the other. Its placement in the cycle indicates its connection to the death of Jesus, spiritual conversion (symbolized by the healing of the blind), and redemption (through the Passion of Jesus)."

Jens Schröter on the Need to Assess the Historical Value of Acts on Multiple Levels  "…this will be the first of three posts that focus more specifically on Jens Schröter’s perspectives on the historical value of Acts in From Jesus to the New Testament, which will presumably inform his forthcoming HNT commentary on Acts."

Gospel of John
The Pericope Adulterae Conference "Why am I telling you all this?  Well, in my original argument in my 2009 book, I described the katagrapho/grapho reading as the "majority" reading several times.  I was wrong on this point (I was soon to find out), and for my life I cannot remember what made me think this was the case."

Against Theodicy "But the problem is that to even try to answer the question of theodicy is, it seems to me, to take the Gospel backwards."

Historical Jesus
Questioning a Common Assumption "Why should this be taken as some kind of threat to the theological legitimacy of traditional Christian faith?  Why should the clever Deist tactic of the 18th century continue to be treated as a self-evident truth and the basis for apologists and critics of Christian faith in their continuing wrangles and debates?  The fundamental theological basis given in the NT for treating Jesus in the “high” terms advocated is a theo-centric one:  God’s actions form the basis of the responding christological claims and devotional practices.  Considering this might be a really helpful move for all sides in any theological debate."

Sending Language and the Origins of Jesus "Too often interpreters of the Bible read the various statements which depict Jesus as having been “sent from God” with such wooden literalness. They assume that, since God is in heaven and Jesus was on earth, then Jesus must have literally descended from the location of the one who sent him (heaven). I contend that the language of sending needs to first be placed into its wider context before making an assessment of its meaning in regard to Jesus and his place of origin." 

Did Jesus Identify with the Poor or Was He Poor? "Within New Testament scholarship, Jesus’ experience of poverty and homelessness is often presented as a lifestyle choice; i.e. he wasn’t actually poor, but he readily chose to identify with the destitute and downtrodden in his society as part of his God-ordained mission. This is an assumption that easily takes root within the middle-class mindsets of most biblical scholars who themselves are not usually poor, but recognize the importance of helping those less fortunate. The assumption is then read back into the biblical text. Jesus is in some sense regarded as separate from and economically superior to those among him and to whom he ministers."

From Jesus’ Parables to Parables of God with John Dominic Crossan "We will discuss the last 30 years of historical Jesus research, its role in the academy, the growing audience in the public square, changes in the church and his two most recent books The Power of Parable & The Greatest Prayer."

Acts of the Apostles
The Politics of an Unknown God "Paul’s message at the Areopagus received a lukewarm response. His declaration of a God who lays claim to us in Jesus Christ—his revealed and appointed agent of blessing and judgment—cut entirely against the grain of speculative and superstitious religion. The listless Athenian preoccupation with hearing something new was answered with a demand for absolute commitment. The darkness of superstition was scattered by the dazzling light of divine revelation. The council desiring to cast judgment on a new religion found itself called to account before the bar of heaven. It is this same message that we are called to declare to the powers of our own age."

Mars Hill Mistake?  "Yesterday in Sunday school, someone suggested that Paul in Athens, as described in Acts 17, had tried to reach people by adapting his message to his audience, and being philosophical and rational in his approach. The result, the person claimed, was disappointingly ineffective, and so Paul never did it again."

Three years ago today (May 21), radio evangelist Harold Camping and his followers awaited the end of the world. It didn’t come that day, or in October as part of a revised doomsday timeline, and Camping died last December at age 92." 

Jürgen Moltmann on the Gnostic Escapism in Left Behind "Moltmann’s eschatology focuses on the Christian hope of resurrection not on speculative theories that piece together various biblical passages into a timeline of the future."

Patristics / Gnostics / Talmud
The Problem of Evangelicals in and with Patristics "Evangelicals value the Bible, and get trained in the Historical Critical method, and then at their worse think that Patristics is negligible because they were all bad exegetes who got their Doctrine wrong. Furthermore, they are prone to hear the unfortunate apologetic claims of Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox churches saying "these are our Fathers" which makes Evangelicals suspicious, and see church Fathers as dangerous/other/possibly a temptation to depart from Evangelicalism..."

St. Hippolytus’ Careers Christians Should Never Have  "The Apostolic Tradition, a third-century text attributed to St. Hippolytus of Rome, has its own list of unacceptable careers for prospective candidates for baptism. While a few—prostitute, brothel keeper, and garment trimmer—seem unlikely to feature in anyone’s second-grade “what I want to be when I grow up” masterpiece, there are other professions forbidden by church fathers that are routinely glamorized by the secular media."

Rethinking Gnostic Intellectuals? Categories as Weapons and History as Construct "The question of whether the so-called Gnostics are intellectuals is a wonderful case study. Here we have a noted scholar of early Christianity aligning his “facts” along conflicting classification lines with what seems like a very modern apologetic subtext."

“Gnosticism” and Religious Rivalry in Early Christianity (part 1) "This week on the Inquisitive Minds Podcast, we will examine how scholars explain "Gnosticism" and the related idea of "Gnosis" (knowledge or insight). If Gnosticism is not a viable category as some scholars argue, should we not simply drop the expression? Is there any evidence of Gnosticism at the the turn of the first century CE or prior to that time period? Which ancient religious texts can be considered as Gnostic? How was Gnosis understood by philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle?"

Did Christianity Influence the Development of the Talmud?

Defeating Satan at Harvard "The reason Satan is so dangerous is not because Satan is a mythical figure with horns and a pitch-fork. Satan is so dangerous because Satan represents an anthropological reality. Satan has no independent existence outside of humanity. Humans provide oxygen for Satan’s survival whenever we accuse others and exclude them from our community. Following Girard’s use of Satan’s titles, Satan is the anthropological principle that 'tempts' us to unite in 'accusation' against a scapegoat, or a common enemy. Satan is the 'prince of this world' and the 'prince of darkness' because the world runs on accusations. Whenever we experience accusations against us, we respond with accusations of our own. This leads us down a dark path of mimicking verbal and physical violence against one another."

NRB Forces Out WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers Over Sister Imprint's 'Gay Christian' Book  "I believe that Multnomah is in serious danger of crashing its brand in terms of evangelical trust…I am quite certain that a host of evangelical authors share this deep concern."

Pope, Netanyahu Spar Over Jesus' Native Language  "'Jesus was here, in this land. He spoke Hebrew,' Netanyahu told Francis, at a public meeting in Jerusalem in which the Israeli leader cited a strong connection between Judaism and Christianity."

In Remembrance: Maya Angelou "My fruitless effort to hold back tears was proven vain as I made my way into the bowels of a D.C. Metro station — tears streaming. I felt silly."

Megachurch Methods: Pastor Fired Because He Wouldn’t Sign Non-Compete Clause  "This is essentially a non-compete clause but one which Poirier rejected. I call it a non-compete clause because Mars Hill appears to view churches within a ten mile radius as a competing church."

Nicea III in 2025?  "We agreed to leave as a legacy to ourselves and our successors a gathering in Nicaea in 2025, to celebrate together, after 17 centuries, the first truly ecumenical synod, where the Creed was first promulgated."

Book Reviews
What is Relational Theology? "It is a theology that emphasizes God‘s interaction with humanity and creation, as well as the Creator’s capacity to be affected by the creation. In this theology, the passage, “God is love,” is invoked repeatedly.  Nothing is predetermined or foreordained in this perspective, and both the divine and humanity have more or less, libertarian free will, but for the sake of community."

Bart Ehrman’s – How Jesus Became God: Introduction "I've decided to walk through Ehrman's book as well. I'm also working through Bird's response book, but I don't want to compare the two books. I want to read through Ehrman's book as if I were a "none" who is not particularly interested in religion or as if I were a Christian who has never encountered ideas like Ehrman's before. My goal is thus not to write an apologetics piece like Bird but more to play the role of a consultant of sorts, thinking through it with the person for whom these are pretty much new ideas."

The Watchers in Jewish and Christian Traditions "Anyone familiar with Second Temple and New Testament studies will probably be aware of the proliferation of traditions associated with angels that were floating about. This collection of essays probes into the traditions associated with the fallen angels that arose from Gen. 6:1-4. These traditions elaborate upon this passage of Scripture by detailing what the angels (the “Sons of God” in Genesis 6, later to be called the “Watchers” in 1 Enoch) actually did, who they were, what resulted from their actions, and what their punishment was."

Early Arabic Contributions to Trinitarian Theology "It looks at the way Qur'anic concepts of "Word" and "Spirit" were used to explain the unity of the triune God. The later chapters explore theories of divine attributes, predication, and analogy. The book focuses especially on the strategic use of Aristotelian concepts, since Aristotelian philosophy was a shared authority among Christians and Muslims. Another major theme is the delicate way these Arabic Christians utilised scripture in their arguments, at times restricting themselves to those parts of scripture that Islamic teaching did not view as corrupted."

Review of God and the Gay Christian "It is written by a conservative Christian who is gay. It accepts the authority of Scripture. And it makes a convincing case within that framework that what the Bible says does not provide a basis for disapproving of same-sex marriage. Although Vines is not a scholar, by drawing on scholarship and carefully investigating the subject, he comes up with interpretations of the relevant Biblical texts, against the backdrop of their cultural setting, that are thoroughly persuasive."

Archaeology and Antiquities
Barabbas and the Crucified "One also needs to consider the possibility of borrowing from or interference between a historical story about a Hasmonean who is crucified and denied honorable burial and subsequently given a burial in a borrowed grave, and the story of something similar happening to Jesus. But it is also possible that this sort of thing happened more than once, and that it would not have been unexpected for Jesus’ followers to have sought to recover his remains and give them a proper burial with the honor they felt he deserved."

The Brephos Papyrus: Fetal Assault "So how do we make sense of this? Obviously, if you are trying to hurt someone, throwing a fetus at them probably won’t do too much harm. Instead, scholars agree that what we have here is a case of a fetus being used as part of a magical spell."

2 Baruch and 4 Ezra – Another Syriac Lectionary Manuscript "Today I have some real news for those of you who are fans of 2 Baruch and 4 Ezra: Lections from 2 Baruch and 4 Ezra have been identified in yet another, hitherto unpublished, Syriac lectionary manuscript."

Creating Replicas of Biblical Artifacts: An Interview with ‘Biblical Reproductions’  "All of us have had, these past few years, our attention drawn to numerous artifacts purporting to be ancient and so it has set me to wondering about the legitimate business of creating replicas of ancient stuff.  I contacted the nice folk at Biblical Reproductions up in Canada and they have been kind enough to ‘sit down’ for an interview."
Ever Thought about Plastering the Skulls of your Dead Loved Ones? "The funerary practices witnessed here may at first appear to be very different from our own experiences. One example of this is the plastering of skulls. The dead would initially be buried beneath house floors. But then the skull (or cranium) would be retrieved some time later, once the head had skeletonised and no flesh remained. Then, a face would then be skillfully built on the skull, using mud, lime or gypsum plasters."

Aren Maier – New Light on the Philistines 

Endangered Archives Program Opens up Priceless Palestinian Heritage "As with the al-Aqsa collections, the urgent need to preserve the documents highlights the threat posed by Israeli aggression and neglect to Palestinian heritage. The Akka manuscripts, according to the EAP, 'provide a unique insight into centuries of Arabic culture in Palestine,' and conserving the collection has become a pressing need due to 'periods of political unrest, and more recently through vandalism and theft.'"

Temples and Temple Builders at Early Bronze Age Megiddo "Tel Megiddo lies in the heart of the Jezreel Valley, at the hub of international roads between Egypt and Syria. Its local importance in all periods of the Bronze and Iron Ages cannot be understated but while major excavations have taken place at well-known sites like Megiddo, Jezreel, and Taanach, the valley itself has received little archaeological and historical attention. The Jezreel Valley Regional Project (JVRP) is designed to focus attention at the regional level through long-term, multi-disciplinary survey and excavation."

Khirbet et-Tannur: A New Approach  "The Nabatean people were lost in the sands of the desert for centuries only to recently be lost in the pages of books.  This fascinating and important culture existed in the ancient Near East, stretching from Arabia, across Jordan, and into the Negev and the Sinai.  They were skillful merchants and vital to the spice trade. They are best known for their architecture; specifically the cliff side carved building of Petra."

Fort Found Was Home Quarters to Roman Infantry Unit Wielded To Vanquish the Jews  “Four years after starting to dig up an ancient Roman outpost in southern Jordan, a team of archaeologists from Tennessee found a unique, and well-preserved, inscription on a rock - revealing that the site is the previously unknown base of a Roman infantry unit involved in crushing the Bar-Kochba rebellion.”

Is Kyrios Christology a High Christology? "I suggest that we have better evidence (if you want to try and dig down to “earliest” layers) for what I call a Kyrios Christology – where Jesus is associated with the identity of Yahweh himself in some special way (hence “Jesus is Kyrios” and maranatha appear to be earliest creedal/liturgical statements). If this is true, then Jesus could not have been viewed as a man exalted after his death to divinity, because Yahweh would not want to share his own title (Kyrios) with an exalted man."

How High is Kyrios Christology? "And so the New Testament kyrios Christology is indeed rightly called a 'high' Christology. It has a human being exalted to a status second only to God himself, and having bestowed upon him the very name of God, enabling him to exercise rule over all things on God’s behalf. Calling such a Christology 'low' would be inaccurate. But so too would be claiming that these texts depict Jesus as sharing in the divine 'nature.'"
El Shaddai and the Gender of God "But I wanted to add another element to the debate because, as far as I know, no one has considered it: the possibility of a feminine name for God in the Hebrew Bible." 

What Would Characters from the Bible Have Looked Like? "Lewis' "Icons Of The Bible" photo series depicts some of the most famous characters from the Old and New Testament exclusively as people of color, including Simon Peter, Elijah, King Solomon and the archangel Gabriel. The series, which will be fully released in October, features 70 models who identify as either Asian, Native American, Hispanic, African, Middle Eastern, Black American and West Indian."

The Beauty of Ottoman Palestine, Lovingly Explored and Documented "In the basement of a house on the Mount of Olives is a collection of 100-year-old photographs of Ottoman Palestine — published here for the first time — that document the people, sites and lifestyle of Palestine in the twilight years of Turkish rule."

Whatever is Leftover
Animals and Religion "Did you know that animals engage in what appears to be ritualistic behaviors which appear to show some awareness of the luminous, if not the spiritual? It’s true. In particular, a variety of animals have death rituals." 

The Danger and Beauty of Acculturation "That's right: Jesus is a wizard."

Top 10 Strangest Miracles of the Middle Ages "While most miracles were typical stories of healing or assistance, there were many unusual ones as well. Here is our list of the top 10 strangest miracles of the Middle Ages."

40 Maps that Explain the Middle East "Maps can be a powerful tool for understanding the world, particularly the Middle East, a place in many ways shaped by changing political borders and demographics. Here are 40 maps crucial for understanding the Middle East — its history, its present, and some of the most important stories in the region today."

Recommended Summer Reading “I work at the James P. Boyce Centennial Library, and the staff there are putting together a suggested summer reading list for students. Here are the books related to biblical studies I suggested, in no particular order.”

You may also like to check out Jim West's Avignon Carnival (all Twitter edition).

And just to repeat, here at the end of the carnival, next month's carnival will be hosted by Phil Long at his blog Reading Acts.  You'll want to check it out, I'm sure.  And if you're interested in hosting the carnival at your blog please (PLEASE!) contact Phil.  He is "semi-desperate..for volunteers for the rest of the year."

Jeff Carter's books on Goodreads
Muted Hosannas Muted Hosannas
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