The Role of Music in Writing

One of the more frequent questions I get asked, after having written 40 books and hundreds of other forms of written communication, is--- How do you do it? They ask me about schedules, how much I sleep, how many research assistants I have (n.b. I have never had any really), and so on. My answer is severalfold, but here I want to concentrate on two things that at least in my case help. Since I have previously spoken to the issue of developing a good writing style, by stressing the necessity of … [Read more...]

An Easter Film for Pastors and Leaders

Any pastors or small group leaders out there looking for something to help them with their Easter message or study might consider the following film:It comes from a company called Rhemedia, which says that it makes "premium narrative films for use in sermons, classes, groups or devotionals." … [Read more...]

Habemus Papem– We Have a Pope

Whether or not one is a Catholic or not, the naming of a Pope is a big moment for all Christians everywhere. After all, there are 1.196 billion Catholics in the world according to the Pontifical Factbook from last year. And of course the Catholic Church is at a crucial juncture, what with the sexual scandals and financial scandals, and the big concern that there are not enough priests, not least because of the celibacy requirement. The interviews in Vatican square had a theme--- we need a Pope … [Read more...]

Paul and the Heritage of Israel– Part Eight

Perhaps for the first time in this whole volume, Jens Schroter in his article on "Paul the Founder of the Church" provides a rationale for the title of the volume in saying "The Acts of the Apostles and the Pastoral Epistles belong to a trajectory of early Christianity committed to the heritage of Paul's mission and theology." (p. 195). As I have already said, there is a reason to connect those two sets of documents, the middle term being Luke, but if the Pastorals are ultimately from Paul they … [Read more...]

Extreme Care: Human Remains

I was minding my own business looking out the window of my Delta jet sitting and waiting at Hartsfield Airport for our flight back to Lexington when the captain came on the loudspeaker and said--- "I need to tell you that we are awaiting some human remains to be placed on the plane before we can push back, and fly to Lexington, so it will be a few minutes." About ten minutes later a small tow truck with two baggage wagons pulled up to the plane and placed a 380 pound coffin protected inside a … [Read more...]

A Mind to Murder– P.D. James

While her first novel, 'Cover her Face' showed the various traits of a first novel (for example, a lack of use of the full pallet of description that she undoubtedly possessed) the second novel, first published in 1963, is another story. James likes what I would call set pieces, buy which I mean murders committed in small, and often confined settings-- a small literary community with a hospital ('the Black Tower'), a small school, a small business firm, a small seaside village or in this case a … [Read more...]

The Bible– Part Two

There is a famous line from the old Monty Python movie 'The Life of Brian'. Someone is listening to the Sermon on the Mount, but he is distant from the speaker. He thinks he hears... "Blessed are the cheesemakers" instead of 'Blessed are the Peacemakers". Perhaps he was actually watching and listening to the pilot for this new History Channel special, The Bible. Perhaps they were especially watching the better part of an hour spent in Episode 2 on the titillation of the story of Samson and … [Read more...]

The Assyrians are Coming— Part Two

The anthropomorphic images of Assyrian rulers not surprisingly have heads that look like their rulers, but bodies of large animals (with wings). This is fairly common in the ANE (cf. the Babylonian images). But palaces did not just display the iconography of rulers, they also displayed images of battles won, conquered peoples, and mythological creatures. Here below are some of the images of these things. Notice that the falcon deity accessorizes--- nice purse! … [Read more...]

The Assyrians are Coming– Part One

The Metropolitan Museum of Art could just as well be called the Metropolitan Museum of Artifacts. It has enormously good collections of artifacts from the Ancient Near East and elsewhere, and in the next few blog posts we will be showing you some of what they have, starting with the Assyrian stuff. Careful students of the Bible will remember that it was the Assyrians who swept across the fertile crescent and conquered the northern tribes of Israel, carting off some of its leaders, in about 722 … [Read more...]