31 October 2008

anglicans: listen up!

What attribute do you most frequently associate with the faithfulness of a saint?

A. Piety
B. Heroism
C. Mysticism
D. Sacrifice
E. Wisdom

This was the poll question at the website of The Living Church. The questions change frequently, so it probably won't even be there tomorrow, but when I clicked on my response, I was dismayed to learn which answer had over 50% of the vote.


Look, I understand the politics of Anglican Christianity in North America these days, so I understand that peole might want to think "sacrifice" because a lot of people are making big sacrifices in order to maintain the Faith Once Received. But to say "sacrifice" is such a basic biblical error that I want to shake some people!

1 Samuel 15:22--And Samuel said, "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams." (ESV)

The correct answer is "A".

27 October 2008

ha ha ha

Gas prices are dropping steadily all over--coming to the church this morning, gas was $2.12. It will probably be lower when I go home!

As nice as it is to have the prices going down, I laughed out loud this weekend over the gas prices in the movie Die Hard, which I think was showing on TNT or some other basic cable channel. Here, apparently, are the gas prices in California in 1988:

25 October 2008

debate: is abortion morally justifiable in a free society

I am using this debate on abortion in my intro to philosophy class, in the section on ethics. The debate is between Prof. David Boonin (Affirmative), of U. Colorado-Boulder, and Prof. Peter Kreeft (Negative), of Boston College. If you know which of these men I greatly admire, you know who I'm agreeing with in this debate.

Check out the debate in either video or audio, held at Yale University. Note that this debate is over 90 minutes long--not for someone looking to kill a few minutes on the internet!

Just for kicks, I was going to post my five-page outline of the debate that I prepared for my students, but I don't see how I can do that on blogger. If you want a copy, let me know in the comments.

23 October 2008

the hour of holiness

A great teaching program that been on AFR (which I can't get in Tulsa) is now available online: The Hour of Holiness, from Wesley Biblical Seminary. Dr. Bill Ury, theology prof at WBS, teaches these 30-minute lessons, rich in content and incredibly pastoral. Dr. Ury was the reason I went to WBS, was my thesis advisor, and his work in the early Church and Trinitarian thought has deeply influenced me and scores of his other students.


09 October 2008

romans 1 is not about temple prostitution

I know of no serious biblical scholar, even prohomosex biblical scholar, who argues that Paul had in mind only or primarily temple prostitution (not Nissinen, not Brooten, not Fredrickson, not Schoedel, not Bird, not Martin, etc). There are many reasons why this view has not found a welcome in serious biblical scholarship. I shall limit myself to fifteen such reasons, without making a pretense that the list is exhaustive.

1. Rogers' historical anachronism regarding temple prostitution in Corinth. Rogers' trip to Corinth convinced him that Paul's views on homosexual behavior were profoundly influenced by the alleged existence of seven thousand prostitutes, male and female at the temple of Aphrodite in Corinth in Paul's day. As it happens, the only ancient account that refers to cult prostitutes at the temple of Aphrodite in Corinth is a brief mention by Strabo in Geography 8.6.20c:

And the temple of Aphrodite was so rich that it owned more than a thousand temple-slaves, prostitutes, whom both men and women had dedicated to the goddess. And therefore it was on account of these women that the city was crowded with people and grew rich. (Text and commentary in: Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, St. Paul's Corinth: Texts and Archaeology [GNS 6; Wilmington: M. Glazier, 1983], 55-57)

Any critical New Testament scholar knows that Strabo's comments (1) applied only to Greek Corinth in existence several centuries before the time of Paul, not the Roman Corinth of Paul's day; (2) referred to more than a thousand prostitutes, not seven thousand; and (3) mentioned only female (heterosexual) prostitutes, not male (homosexual) prostitutes. Scholars agree that there was no massive business of female cult prostitutes, to say nothing of male homosexual cult prostitutes operating out of the temple of Aphrodite in Paul's day; and that there may not have been such a business even in earlier times (i.e., Strabo was confused). This is not particularly new information, which makes it all the more surprising that Rogers was taken in, apparently, by an ill-informed tour guide. For example, Hans Conzelmann made the following remarks in his major commentary on 1 Corinthians written some thirty years ago:

Incidentally, the often-peddled statement that Corinth was a seat of sacred prostitution (in the service of Aphrodite) is a fable. This realization also disposes of the inference that behind the Aphrodite of Corinth lurks the Phoenician Astarte. [Note 97:] The fable is based on Strabo, Geog. 8.378. . . . Strabo, however, is not speaking of the present, but of the city's ancient golden period. . . . Incidentally, Strabo's assertion is not even true of the ancient Corinth. (1 Corinthians [Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1975 [German original, 1969], 12)

This continues to be the view held by scholars. As Bruce Winter notes in a recent significant work on 1 Corinthians,

Strabo's comments about 1,000 religious prostitutes of Aphrodite . . . are unmistakably about Greek and not Roman Corinth. As temple prostitution was not a Greek phenomenon, the veracity of his comments on this point have been rightly questioned. The size of the Roman temple of Aphrodite on the Acrocorinth ruled out such temple prostitution; and by that time she had become Venus, the venerated mother of the imperial family and the highly respected patroness of Corinth, and was no longer a sex symbol (After Paul Left Corinth: The Influence of Secular Ethics and Social Change [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001], 87-88; similarly, Murphy-O'Connor, St. Paul's Corinth, 55-56)

The scholarly consensus that there was no homosexual prostitution at the Corinthian temple of Aphrodite in Paul's day is enough, all by itself, to dispense with Rogers's theory and show Rogers's unreliability as an exegete of the biblical text. But we continue anyway.

Read it all--good stuff.