David’s palace discovered?

An archaeologist has apparently discovered the palace of King David. See this account of the find, which confounds liberal scholars who had been casting doubt on David’s existence and which confirms Biblical details.

Archaeologists had previously discovered the remains of the walls around the ancient Jebusite fortress that David conquered and then made his capital. But the area inside was so small, with no trace or no room for any kind of palace. Thus, some scholars–a number of whom had a pro-Palestinian agenda that downplayed any Jewish claims to the city–said that King David was a legendary figure, at most a village chieftain rather than the ruler of a powerful kingdom. But then Jewish archaeologist Eilat Mazar noted that 2 Samuel 5, after talking about David taking the stronghold, building a city around it, and building his palace, said that when the Philistines came, he “went down” to the stronghold. Near where the stronghold was in Jerusalem is a hill. She dug there and discovered the foundations of a huge building, built on bedrock, which means that it was not over any other site. This apparently remained the residence of Judah’s kings up until the nation’s conquest and Babylonian captivity. On the site Dr. Mazar discovered a seal of “Yehuchal Ben Shelemiah,* who is apparently the “Jehucal the son of Shelemiah” who was the nemesis of the prophet Jeremiah just before the city fell (Jeremiah 37-38).


I’m involved with an editing project that involves different people contributing essays on literary and biblical texts. A couple people working on the latter use “Yahweh” as the name of God. That comes from the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, the exact vowel pointing for which in the Hebrew is not known. Ancient Hebrews and orthodox Jews today would never pronounce the sacred name for fear of violating the commandment against taking God’s name in vain. (This is why some modern Jews won’t even write out the word “God,” spelling it “G_d.”) The name, when read, would be rendered instead as “Lord.” Bible translations tend to use the all-cap LORD for YHWH. Older translations would sometimes take a stab at filling in the vowels, which is where we get “Jehovah.” Bible scholars today think the word would have been pronounced “Yahweh,” a rendering first used in the 19th century.

In my editing, I objected to the use of “Yahweh.” That term is not in the Bible translation we were using. (I believe it is used in the Roman Catholic Jerusalem Bible.) Furthermore, it was never used in Christian history, except, again, by some scholars no earlier than the 1800′s. Christians do not pray to “Yahweh,” as far as I know. I can see using it perhaps in technical Bible scholarship, but not in the church. The name of God we need to be concerned with now is “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

One of the authors said that we should not be bound by Jewish superstitions, that this is the name of God, so we should use it.

What do you think about this?

The Lord bless you and make you live long and prosper

You know Spock’s Vulcan salute? This site reports that Leonard Nimoy modeled the gesture after a blessing he witnessed at a Jewish synagogue. It turns out that the sign, done with both hands, traditionally accompanies the priestly blessing in Numbers 6:23-26: “The Lord bless thee and keep thee; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift His countenance upon you, and give you peace. Here it is pictured on a synagogue in Essen, Germany:

Jewish/Vulcan blessing

The Spirit, the Water, & the Blood

Let’s play a Biblical hermeneutics game. I’d like to hear from Christians of lots of different theological traditions on what they think this text refers to. What are these three that testify and agree?

This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. (1 John 5:6-8)

To help with your daily devotions

So, how are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? Oh, I see. I’m not doing so well on my resolution to not let my desk get so messy, but there is one New Year’s project that I’m actually following. That’s not because of my will power, which is minimal, but because I am finding it so rewarding. On New Year’s Day, I started reading my Treasury of Daily Prayer just before I go to bed every night. And now, just as I can form bad habits, I find that I have formed a good habit. I have been reading the “Treasury” with increasing pleasure and profit ever since.

For each day, the “Treasury” gives brief but substantive readings from the Psalms, the Old Testament, and the New Testament. Then comes a “Writing” from a church father–who may be any one from Chrysostom to Luther or more recent divines–usually commenting on one of the texts. Then comes a hymn verse followed by the collect for the day (that is, a historic prayer).

Each day’s readings are only a few pages, which means that I don’t get bogged down and later abandon the project for lack of time. The Bible readings are not full chapters, but they are meaningful chunks of Scripture. Nevertheless, in the course of a year, you would read the entire New Testament and one-third of the Old Testament. Reading the Psalms, the Old Testament, and the New Testament in this way dramatize powerfully and devotionally how the Word of God is self-interpreting and how Christ is everywhere in the Bible. The “Writings” remind me how I am part of a rich heritage that extends back through time and that the Gospel does not just derive from the Reformation but is present also in medieval and ancient Christianity. Another advantage is that I know other people who are also using it, so that I know we are reading and praying the same things, a rather cool manifestation of the communion of the saints. The result of all of this is a rich daily devotion.

The “Treasury” also includes other devotional resources, from model prayers for various occasions to orders of worship for individuals, families, or small groups. You can even pray the “offices,” those four-a-day meditations that the monks did, though in an evangelical manner.

I bring this up now because “The Treasury of Daily Prayer” is now on sale! During the month of May, you can get it half-price! So says Paul McCain of Concordia Publishing House at his Cybrethren blog:

Concordia Publishing House is offering special pricing throughout the month of May on the Treasury of Daily Prayer. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the rest of Eastertide and the Pentecost festival, than by encouraging people to embrace a richer, deeper life of prayer and meditation on the Word of God. In my opinion, there is no better single resource to aid and strengthen us in our prayer lives, than the Treasury of Daily Prayer. But, you know I’ve been saying that for some time now. If you don’t believe me, listen to what others are saying. I’ll post a slew of recommendations and endorsements from people using it at the end of this note. The special pricing is:

The regular edition, $49.99, is now $24.99.
The deluxe edition, $79.99, is now $39.99.

Call 800-325-3040 to place your order.

If you want to place a web order, you must use this link to get the special pricing: http://www.cph.org/dailyprayer

Replacing the New Testament reading with the Quran

Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester, who has been elected bishop of Northern Michigan by the Episcopal Church replaced the New Testament reading for one of the Sundays in Epiphany with a passage from the Quran. The liturgy folder, which you can download from the link if you don’t believe it, keeps the regular responses:

Reader: Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.

Assembly: Thanks be to God.

(Note to Steve from Toronto: I don’t mean to pick on Anglicans! I agree on their many contributions to historic Christianity. It just makes it hurt the more when I see things like this.)