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If this isn’t propaganda and systematic programming of the minds, well, I’m not sure what is…

What would the media say if this occurred under the Bush administration?

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Dear Friends,

Today is September 23rd. A birthday of no little significance for it can be equated with the “beginning of all things.” Note the following, well known, inscription:

Paulus Fabius Maximus came up with the notion of changing the local lunar calendar with the solar reckoning of the Julian calendar, as it was used in Rome. This idea was proposed to the Provincial Assembly, responsible for emperor worship at the provincial level. He writes:

(It is hard to tell) whether the birthday of our most divine Caesar Augustus (ἡ τοῦ θειοτάτου Καίσαρος γενέυλιος ἡμέρα) spells more of joy or benefit, this being a date that we could probably without fear of contradiction equate with the beginning of all things (τῇ τῶν πάντων ἀρχῆι) …he restored stability, when everything was collapsing and falling into disarray, and gave a new look to the entire world that would have been most happy to accept its own ruin had not the good and common fortune of all been born, Caesar Augustus. (Lines 4–9)[1]

This letter prefaced the actual reply of the Assembly which is commonly referred to as the Priene calendar inscription (ca. 9 BCE):

[30] Decree of the Greek Assembly in the province of Asia, on motion of the High Priest Apolionios, son of Menophilos, of Aizanoi- WHEREAS Providence that orders all our lives has in her display of concern and generosity in our behalf adorned our lives with the highest good: Augustus, whom she has filled with arete [virtue] for the benefit of humanity, [35] and has in her beneficence granted us and those who will come after us [a Savior (σωτῆρα)] who has made war to cease and who shall put everything [in peaceful] order; and whereas Caesar, [when he was manifest], transcended the expectations of [all who had anticipated the good news], not only by surpassing the benefits conferred by his predecessors but by leaving no expectation of surpassing him to those who would come after him, [40] with the result that the birthday of our God (τοῦ θεοῦ) signaled (ἦρξεν δὲ τῶι κὀσμωι τῶι δι᾽ αὐτὸν εὐαγγελίων ἡ γενέυλιος ἡμέρα τοῦ θεοῦ) the beginning of Good News for the world because of him; . . . [47] . . . (proconsul Paul Fabius Maximus) has discovered a way to honor Augustus that was hitherto unknown among the Greeks, namely to reckon time from the date of his nativity; therefore, with the blessings of Good Fortune and for their own welfare, [50] the Greeks in Asia Decreed that the New Year begin for all the cities on September 23, which is the birthday of Augustus; and, to ensure that the dates coincide in every city, all documents are to carry both the Roman and the Greek date, and the first month shall, in accordance with the decree, be observed as the Month of Caesar, [55] beginning with 23 September, the birthday of Caesar.[1]

Furthermore, with regard to such a significant birthday, I would also like to remind you of Augustus’ divine birth, it is said, the god Apollo in the form of a snake, came upon Atia, his mother, and divinely bore him. Therefore, Augustus was thought to be both man and god while living, this notes a significant development in Roman imperial theology (cf. Suetonius, Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Life of Augustus 94.1-11; Cassius Dio also records this).


[1] Here the Enlish of the inscription has been taken from Danker whereas the Greek was supplemented from Dittenberger (OGIS): IPriene 105.30-56=OGIS 458.30-56; Frederick W. Danker, Benefactor: Epigraphic Study of a Graeco-Roman and New Testament Semantic Field (St. Louis, MO.: Clayton Pub. House, 1982), 217; W. Dittenberger (ed.), Orientis Graecae Inscriptiones Selectae (2 vols., Leipzig: S. Hirzel, 1903-5; repr. Hildesheim: Olms, 1960) 2.48-60. In his commentary on this inscription Danker notes the many semantic parallels between these notions with regard to Caesar and the same terms with reference to Jesus in the New Testament (i.e. “savior, gospel,” and the notion of beneficence to the whole world) (220).


[1] Graham Stanton, Jesus and Gospel (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 31

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You should note the advent of a new commentary series, whose first two volumes look to be interesting. The series aims to be genuinely international, multi-denominational, and written for pastors and students. The two titles currently available:

Craig Keener, Romans
Keener Romans Cover

Michael Bird, Colossians and Philemon
Bird Cover Image

Here is the blurb from Cascade:

The New Covenant Commentary Series (NCCS) is designed for ministers and students who require a commentary that interacts with the text and context of each New Testament book and pays specific attention to the impact of the text upon the faith and praxis of contemporary faith communities.

The NCCS has a number of distinguishing features. First, the contributors come from a diverse array of backgrounds in regards to their Christian denominations and countries of origin. Unlike many commentary series that tout themselves as international the NCCS can truly boast of a genuinely international cast of contributors with authors drawn from every continent of the world (except Antarctica) including countries such as the United States, Puerto Rico, Australia, the United Kingdom, Kenya, India, Singapore, and Korea. We intend the NCCS to engage in the task of biblical interpretation and theological reflection from the perspective of the global church. Second, the volumes in this series are not verse-by-verse commentaries, but they focus on larger units of text in order to explicate and interpret the story in the text as opposed to some often atomistic approaches. Third, a further aim of these volumes is to provide an occasion for authors to reflect on how the New Testament impacts the life, faith, ministry, and witness of the New Covenant Community today. This occurs periodically under the heading of “Fusing the Horizons and Forming the Community.“ Here authors provide windows into community formation (how the text shapes the mission and character of the believing community) and ministerial formation (how the text shapes the ministry of Christian leaders).

It is our hope that these volumes will represent serious engagements with the New Testament writings, done in the context of faith, in service of the church, and for the glorification of God.

SERIES EDITORS:
Michael F. Bird (Highland Theological College, Dingwall, Scotland)
Craig S. Keener (Palmer Seminary, Philadelphia, USA)

See more at Cascade here and here.

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I would like to highly recommend John Anderson’s blog. It has recently moved to wordpress and I’m wondering why so many of my fellow bibliobloggers are being led out of the wilderness and into the WordPress holy land.

Anderson is a very astute Old Testament scholar working heavily in the Jacob cycle of Genesis. His insight and commentary is very valuable in my estimation. He is also a PhD candidate at Baylor (congrats again on passing your comps). My blogroll link to his site is also now current to his new address. Thanks for pointing that out John.

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Several evenings ago, I had the opportunity to attend a meeting of the Seminar for the Discussion of Early Catholic Christianity. There Dr. Warren Carter from Brite Divinity School presented a paper: “Matthew: Empire, Synagogues, and Horizontal Violence.” While the dialogue that evening certainly deserves comment, that shall have to wait for a later post. That evening, I sat next to Harold Hoehner, Distinguished Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. Little did I know, that night would be the last time I would encounter Dr. Hoehner on this side of the great divide. This morning, Dr. Hoehner passed on, leaving behind a cacophony of voices who will sorely miss him. Hoehner was a stalwart of scholarship, exemplified a charitable fair-mindedness, and without question played the most pivotal role in shaping the face of the New Testament department both in makeup and fundamental exegetical methodology over the past quarter century.

Although I was not personally one of Dr. Hoehner’s students, my several encounters with him were always warm. He was understanding and very thoughtful. The other night, just in our casual conversation, these characteristics were apparent. He was interested in me and my studies. Upon hearing which undergraduate I attended, Professor Hoehner immediately brought up a former student of his, Bruce Rosdahl, who was one of my professors in undergraduate study. I remember being surprised by how sharp his mind was and how thoughtful a person he was to have paid such close attention to those whom he taught. I am grateful for having known him, even in a limited sense, and I express my deepest condolences both to his family and the Dallas Seminary family who will miss Dr. Hoehner. I am sure that more substantive accounts will be forthcoming from Hoehner’s colleagues of the great legacy that he has left behind.

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