A Lolcat for Sabio

Here’s one that Sabio should be able to get. I didn’t make it. It was just sort of there.

The Concept of Exile in Ancient Israel and its Contexts: Upcoming Edited Volume

I’ve pleased to have received the page proofs for two articles that will be included in an upcoming edited volume that should be published next year, in time for everyone to buy it at SBL Atlanta next November.

Christoph Levin and Ehud Ben Zvi (eds.)
Concept of Exile in Ancient Israel and its Contexts

(Berlin: Walter De Gruyter)

The volume is the result of fascinated pair of workshops held at the University of Alberta in Edmonton (in Spring 2008) and Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich (June 2009). If I understand correctly, the two institutions have some kind idea-sharing arrangement that Ehud and Christoph took advantage of to get a bunch of people together and sort through issue of the exile in biblical literature.

Here is the blurb for the workshops, reproduced from the U. of Alberta’s site.

This workshop brings together scholars from the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich (LMU) and the University of Alberta, along with colleagues from other European and Canadian universities. This workshop is part of a newly founded cooperation between LMU and the UofA and is conceived as the first of two workshops. The second is planned for Munich (2009).

The workshop is meant to explore, from multiple perspectives, the concept of “Exile” in ancient Israel, mainly but exclusively in prophetic literature, including the social and historical setting against which it evolved and in a way that is informed by comparative ancient materials.

The link above also has nice introduction to the biblical idea of “exile” as a product of historical deportations.

I’m not exactly sure if every paper from with two workshops will appear in the volume, but I suspect that all but a few will be.


Hindy Najman (Toronto) Revelation in Exile

Martti Nissinen  (Helsinki) The Exiled Gods of Babylon in Neo-Assyrian Prophecy

Willi Braun  (Alberta) Imagining Exile: Early Christian Uses of a Familiar Concept

Christoph Levin  (LMU) The Empty Land in Kings

Hermann-Josef Stipp (LMU)  The Concept of the Empty Land in the Book of Jeremiah

Ehud Ben Zvi (Alberta) The Voice and Role of a Counterfactual Memory in the Construction of Exile and Return: Considering Jer 40:7-12

James R. Linville (Lethbridge) Myth of the Exilic Return: Myth Theory and the Exile as an Eternal Reality in the Prophets

Jan Christian Gertz (U. of Heidelberg) From a Military Threat to the Concept of Exile in the Book of Amos

Selina Stewart (Alberta) Sive deus, sive dea: Prophecy, ritual and exilic gods from Babylon to Rome

Reinhard Müller (LMU) Images of Exile in the Book of Judge

Francis Landy(Alberta)  Exile in the Book of Isaiah



Ehud Ben Zv (Alberta) Exile in the Book of Chronicles

Eckart Otto (LMU) Deuteronomistic Redactions of the Book of Deuteronomy in the Exilic Period

Jan Christian Gertz (Heidelberg) Does the Primeval History Reflect on the Exile?

Jakob Wöhrle (WestfälischeWilhelms-Universität Münster) The Un-Empty Land. The Concept of Exile and Land in P

Hermann-Josef Stipp (LMU) The Original Function of the Concept of the Empty Land in the Book of Jeremiah

Paul G. Mosca (U. of British Columbia) Job and Second Isaiah: Two Faces of Exile

Juha Pakkala (Helsinki) The Concept of Exile and its Development in the Ezra Tradition

Reinhard Müller (LMU) Exile and the Empty Land in the Holiness Code (Lev. 26)

James Linville (Lethbridge) Playing with Maps of Exile: Displacement, Utopia, and Disjunction

Francis Landy (Edmonton) Reading, Writing, and Exile

Hindy Najman (Toronto) The First and Second Destruction in the Late Ancient Jewish Imagination

Kirsi Valkama (Helsinki) Judah in the Mid-Sixth Century BCE. Archaeological Remains

Christoph Levin (LMU) What do we really know about Jerusalem’s conquest and the exile?


The whole affair was a wonderful experience (both times) and I really enjoyed the time in Germany this summer. I saw a mess of alps, drank a lot of good beer, ate a lot of good food, and met some really good people. There were a lot of great papers and a wide variety of approaches, from source critical, archaeological and historical to Francis’ wonderful musings on poetry, exile and death in Isaiah. I think  mine sort of stood out like sort thumbs. I’m getting used to it…

My 2008 paper, “Myth of the Exilic Return: Myth Theory and the Exile as an Eternal Reality in the Prophets”  was a lot of fun to write. Doing a paper in Edmonton is always great for me since it is where I started my university career under Francis and Ehud. I sort of when back to my general Religious Studies roots and mused on the exile, creation, and competing mythologies of exile and restoration in the shadow of Eliade,  J. Z. Smith and Wendy Doniger. I drew some examples from Genesis, Isaiah, and Amos.

In 2009 I stuck to Isaiah 40-55 and got a little strange. “Playing with Maps of Exile: Displacement, Utopia and Disjunction” returns to J. Z. Smith and looks at Second Isaiah as exploring the disjunctions between attempts to assimilate Cyrus to traditional mythical concepts and the need to reaffirm a ‘locative’ cosmic map for which Cyrus cannot assume the role of founder. For that, Second Isaiah juxtaposes Cyrus with the “Servant”.  Informing this study is a comparison with various cargo-cult phenomena (again taking  a cue from Smith), and finding within in a deep resistance to Persia, even if its imperial ambitions have to be accounted for and assimilated.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Money Grubbing in Educational Publishing. Nothing New Here Folks, Move Along.

The happy curmudgeon, Jim West, commented on the rather shocking price of a recent book. $590.00 list price from Brill for a 2000 page for a new etymological Greek dictionary from Brill (who else?). My own tome from last year is around $100.00 (from Ashgate), so its price per page is even higher but since it doesn’t have have a picture of me in it it is probably worth it.

But here is a deal. My friend Tom Robinson (whose own recent book of Ignatius of Antioch goes for a rather modest sum from Hendrickson) is also the author of a self published little volume that was something of hobby project for the past few years with a small entry on a related issue.

Ignatius of Antioch and the Parting of the Ways:
Early Jewish-Christian Relations

IggyTom’s new baby. Click Here.

Anyway, I don’t have a cover shot of Tom’s new new book (compiled and edited with Sharon (Mrs. Tom), but it is called


While working on a different project that required snooping through hundreds and thousands of pages of old newspapers, Tom noticed how often newspapers a hundred years ago and so reported on issues that are strikingly up to date. Here is one (p. 79) from THE DAILY GAZETTE AND BULLETIN from Jan. 27, 1877

New Editions of Textbooks Too Frequent.

Mr. Mitchell has introduced a bill into the legislature to prevent changes in school books more than once in six years. No measure of relief will be hailed with more satisfaction than a law of this kind, so that the constant changing of school books has become one of the most annoying evils that a patient people have to endure without any benefit except to gratify the whims of teachers and put money in the pockets of rival publishers.

Here is another one (p. 78) from a little later.

Fads in Education

Our public schools stand in danger of being invaded by another fad. they have suffered from various fads in the past and will likely do so again in the future. It seems one of the weaknesses inherent in human nature to adopt readily whatever is new or novel or catchy, no matter whether it is reasonable or not. Educational work is unfortunately not free from this weakness. Some educationalist after much philosophizing and theorizing evolves some new or novel scheme, some publisher gets a hold of it and by judicious and liberal use of printer’s ink proclaims it to the world as a new system bound to revolutionize educational method.
The Centralia Enterprise and Tribute (July 28, 1894:7)

The more things change, the more things stay the same! And here are the same ideas, in the interpretative medium of lolcat!

Why must you get the 17th edition of my text-book?
moar funny pictures

Know Yer Nuts #5! C.A.R.E. Ministries, more Instant Magic Earth Poofists!

Fifth in my series on annoying Canadian creationists and religiously rightwing party-poopers is

C. A. R. E. (Christian Apologetics Research & Evangelism) Ministries

Based in Winnipeg, this the first out of province purveyor of anti-intellectualism to be so honoured!

First of all a hat tip to my Facebook friend, Graham Microraptor, and his great post there on geology vs. creationist-rocks-in-the-brain and his good buddy  Erik who picked up on a few choice words G. M. used and coined a new label for Young Earth Creationists.

Instant Magic Earth Poofists™!

Am I... evolving?
moar funny pictures

Now, the CARE I.M.E.F.s are dedicated to Defending the Faith against “[e]volution, empiricism, atheism, agnosticism, post-modernism, other religious worldviews, cults and the occult”.

Their “faith” they say, includes the idea that a “short time after the creation week, our first human parents willingly rebelled (sinned) against their creator and the consequence was death and decay.”

Lots more whatever this is after the break!


Answers in Genesis OK’s Accomplice to Genocide.

I saw this at Pharyngula today. I have to write on it.
The creationist cretins at Answers in Genesis have posted a note on their site by Bodie Hodge, actually a response to an email for advice, in which Hodge actually condones telling the truth. Don’t get your hopes up.

I often wonder if a Nazi soldier asked if someone was there hiding and they told the truth before God, could the Lord have in mind a greater purpose? Could God have used that person to free a great many people who ultimately died in the Holocaust? Or have done something to stop the war earlier? Or cause a great number of Jews and Nazi’s to come to know Christ? It is possible, but we simply cannot know. And one should not dwell too long on “what ifs” anyway.

Let’s consider again the Nazi-Holocaust situation: there seems to be a conflict in the situation to lie before God to try to save someone else’s life. The result is often called the “greater good” or “lesser of two evils.”

I’ve been told in the past that the lesser of these two evils would be to lie to save a life—hence the common phrase “a righteous lie.” This is often justified by appealing to the command to love our neighbor (Romans 13:9).

Consider this carefully. In the situation of a Nazi beating on the door, we have assumed a lie would save a life, but really we don’t know. So, one would be opting to lie and disobey God without the certainty of saving a life—keeping in mind that all are ultimately condemned to die physically. Besides, whether one lied or not may not have stopped the Nazi solders from searching the house anyway.


“All are ultimately condemned to die physically” Bodie Hodge, 2009.


Warsaw None of the people shown being arrested here are worth the sin of a lie to save, according to Bodie Hodge.
Of course, no one has come for his kids yet.

If the Nazis come looking for Jews, Gypsies, communists, homosexuals, intellectuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, blacks, cab drivers, poets, or however, you can lie. You can cheat. If you think it is a good idea to help their quarry get away, you do violence to the nazis. Fuck ‘em.

Even the Jains understand this better (well, except for killing the nazis bit). They say it is OK to lie to a hunter to save the life of a deer. Certainly a lie to save humans is justified.

I wonder what this fuckwit would do if the nazis came to his door looking for his kid who had helped some other people excape. Would he lie to save the life of his own child?  Jesus said  healing and saving lives on the Sabbath was within the law (rabbinic Judaism-often villified for being legalistic, teaches the same). This jackass thinks you can’t suspend the ban on lying to save a life. Hopefully one day Hodge will be travelling in some country where the police have extraordinary powers and he needs someone to tell a little white lie to save his ass. Let’s see how he likes having others do onto him and he preaches others should do unto other innocent people.


From Tablet Magazine: A New Read on Jewish Life

Here is something a lot more inspiring morally than Atrocities in Genesis.

Garden of The Righteous

“Even now it is difficult to know how best to remember the Holocaust. It is especially difficult to know how to teach it to children in a way that will give them strength and so that the Holocaust will be appropriately remembered. One special element in that education process is teaching about the non-Jews who risked their lives and dared to try to save Jews during World War II. Yad Vashem, the Memorial Museum and Archives to the Six Million in Jerusalem, has identified 50,000 such “righteous gentiles”, many of whom it has recognized by planting trees in their honor in a Garden of the Righteous.      (bold added)

EDITED TO ADD: I had originally posted a picture form wikipedia said to be SA men arresting Jews on Kristallnacht (1938). There is some doubt expressed in the comments below about the authenticity of that picture so I switched it to the two above. The image is here.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Nov. 11 RBL “Relevant to my interests lolcat awards!

The following new reviews have been added to the Review of Biblical Literature and listed on the RBL blog (http://rblnewsletter.blogspot.com/).

As usual, three of the book authors win a custom made lolcat for being relevant to my interests.

Joseph Azize and Noel Weeks, eds.
Gilgamesh and the World of Assyria: Proceedings of the Conference Held at the Mandelbaum House, The University of Sydney, 21-23 July 2004
Reviewed by Michael Moore

In July 2004, a number of scholars gathered for a conference on «Gilgamesh and the World of Assyria», at The University of Sydney. This volume of conference papers features contributions by Andrew George, the key note speaker, and established scholars such as J. D. Forest, V .A. Hurowitz, G. A. Rendsburg, N. Weeks and I. M. Young, together with those of other local scholars. The chief theme is the Gilgamesh epic, but interesting suggestions are made concerning the importance of that epic for biblical studies and Assyriology in general.

Deborah L. Ellens
Women in the Sex Texts of Leviticus and Deuteronomy: A Comparative Conceptual Analysis
Reviewed by Carolyn Pressler

The writers of the bibilical laws, like the writers of other legal corpora throughout history, considered the regulation of sex to be of some importance. A study and comparison of the two groups of sex laws in the Bible, those in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, reveal that factors even more narrowly focused than the general desire to control social behavior shape the texts. These factors, as reflected in the text, are responsible for the differing conceptual matrices within Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Whereas the interest of the Leviticus sex texts is ontology, that is, the classification or oder of kinds and their relationships, the interest of the Deuteronomy sex texts is property, that is, the man’s ownership of the woman’s sexuality and its protection. Ellens shows how these differing interests influence subtle corresponding differences in the conceptualization of women in the two groups of texts.

Jim W. Adams
The Performative Nature and Function of Isaiah 40-55
Reviewed by Ulrich Berges

Among linguistic philosophers, speech act theory has illuminated the fact that uttering a sentence does not merely convey information; it may also involve the performing of an action. The concept of communicative action provides additional tools to the exegetical process as it points the interpreter beyond the assumption that the use of language is merely for descriptive purposes. Language can also have performative and self-involving dimensions. Despite their clear hermeneutical importance, the notions expressed within speech act theory have been generally neglected by biblical interpreters. The few who have applied speech act theory to the OT typically subsume the discipline into an eclectic type of literary/rhetorical criticism. Such an approach, though, tends to discount the distinctive notions expressed by theoreticians. This dissertation presents the basic philosophical concepts of speech act theory in order to accurately implement them alongside other interpretive tools. The above analysis leads to applying these concepts to Isaiah 41:21-29, 49:1-6, 50:4-10, and 52:13-53:12. These four sections intricately function within the overall prophetic strategy of chapters 40-55: the call to return or turn to Yahweh. The way these chapters describe the nature of this return is for the reader to forsake sin, acknowledge and confess Yahweh as God alone. The first passage represents the basic concerns of chapters 40-48 and specifically Jacob-Israel’s deliverance from Babylon through Yahweh’s Cyrus illocutionary act. The final three passages represent the servant leitmotif running throughout the chapters and implore the reader through self-involvement to embrace the role of Yahweh’s servant.


Up Runners after the break


A Slinky Jazz Babe!

In view of the continuing dissatisfaction of a certain small number of patrons of the Thinking Shop (note the comments on the link), I thought it best to increase the number of Slinky Jazz Babes AND Cats around there. So here you are. All of it together, with some gratuitous violence thrown in for those who like the Bible.

Lends a hand to Cool Cat
moar funny pictures

Even more below the break!


A Homeopathic Blog Post For Your Online Wellbeing.



















Technorati Tags: ,

Categories: Fun
Tags: ,


Security at the SBL. Just trust Scott and Joel

Of course, with most of the world’s biblical scholars converging on New Orleans in 10 days or so, there is a great concern for security. What with Brill discounting the prices of its books to only 4 times their value and the ever present danger of the SBL running out of complementary totebags, there is the threat of riot, wreck and ruin!

Imagine a stampede of angry deuteronomist hunters? A brawl over the existence of Q (i.e., the lack thereof), or, worst yet, not finding seat in the nearest bar (EEK!). It could be the end of civilization as we know it.


All is in good hands. Here is a video of Scott Bailey and Joel Watts in an intensive training exercise  as volunteer members of the SBL National Meeting Guard.

Don’t you feel so much safer?
I should add that it was my sneaky brother Ken who tracked down this ABOVE TOP SECRET video and sent it to me.


Technorati Tags: ,

Hurricanes both suck and blow. It’s the most atmospheric smut there is. Will New Orleans get any? Ask your Pig.


A few days ago, Jim of the West posted on a Caribbean storm named Ida that might wreck the SBL meeting in New Orleans. The Sensuous Curmudgeon, whose blog should be on everyone’s blogroll of interesting atheists, has a whole whack of hurricane watching links.

Here are the “official” ones he lists.

National Hurricane Center

GeoStationary Satellite Server

Atlantic and Caribbean Tropical Satellite Imagery

Atlantic infra red

National Doppler Radar Sites

Latest Satellite Imagery

National Weather Service

Naval Research Laboratory.

Of course, there is a
Perfected in Saskatchewan

Predicting Weather with a Pig Spleen

by Christina Cherneskey


Legendary forecaster Gus Wickstrom of Tompkins, Saskatchewan

Gus, a man of Swedish descent who lived in this prairie province all of his life, was a weather forecaster. He predicted weather conditions six months in advance, yet his technology required no fancy equipment, no high-tech razzle-dazzle. All Gus needed was a barn and a farmhand or two standing by. . .because he predicted the weather by looking at a pig spleen.

Every 6 months or so, Gus slaughtered a pig, and in the frugal way of farm families, he found a way to use everything but the squeal, as they say. Gus closely scrutinized the spleen, using a method he learned from his father and Harold Pearson, a neighbor.

Take that, you scientists!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,