Interesting Reading

David Bentley Hart’s Reflections on the Early Christians
I don’t agree with everything he says here, but it does remind us of how powerful the rhetoric of the New Testament can be.

Amy Cuddy Reviews the Science of ‘Power Posing’ after unfair criticism
Cuddy’s research conclusions on endocrine and power posing seem like common sense to me. When I try to stand with better posture I feel more alert, less depressed, and more quick-witted.

Hypnosis and Health-Compromising Behaviours
This interesting review looks at the evidence for hypnosis techniques for weight-loss and overcoming nicotine addiction. If you’re interested in persuasion, weight loss, or clinical psychology I think you’ll appreciate it.

The Biblical Case for Limited Government
This is a cool little essay. The author, Yoram Hazony isn’t making the case that “on the authority of the Bible, we should adopt limited government.” Instead, he makes the case that the Bible is making a narrative philosophical case for the principles which lead to limited government. “The [Biblical] History wrestles with the question of whether there is a third option, which can secure a life of freedom for Israel, and for other nations as well. It teaches that there is such an option: A state that is not unlimited in principle, like the states of “all the nations” in the ancient Near East, but that seeks “the good and the right” by means of a system of dual legitimacy and a constitutional regime of restraint. This state must have rulers who understand that virtue emerges from limitation of the state’s borders, the size of its armies, its investment in foreign alliances, and its income. Only within these constraints will both the people and their king find a space in which the love of justice and of God that characterized the shepherds who were their forefathers can be rebuilt.”

Resistance Training is Medicine
This article by Wayne Westcott goes through the impressive evidence that strength training is, indeed, a panacea.


James Chastek nails it on Being as such

How can God not be a being among beings?

In one sense first member of a causal series is a part of the series, but in another sense it isn’t. If ABCD causes something, then A is obviously 1/4 of all the causes you have, but we don’t think about it that way. We don’t say that George Bush played a part in the Iraq War, or even a crucial part in it – it was just his war. Truman wasn’t a part of the system that dropped the bomb – the system was brought int existence by his choice. This is true in every genus of causes. Winning isn’t one part of an athlete’s goals, even if one can isolate other goals than this in the game or in training. A fire hydrant is red and a light wave in the right spectrum is red, but the “is” is not said in the same way. The two things “are red” but not in a way that the one is a part of the whole.

James’ blog on Thomism is one of the best philosophy blogs on the internet. I really appreciate his succinct explanations of complicated topics. In this case he hits the nail on the head. Many Christians accidentally see God as a figure within the cosmos. This is right and good as far as such images support Christian piety because the are the models utilized in Scripture. But insofar as they are mistaken for giving precise expression concerning God’s reality, such ideas (God is a part of the furniture of the universe) tend toward treating God as a creature. The Bible, in its more literal moments, treats God as the being in whom all things live and move and have their being. Similarly, God is the cause of all non-God reality in Genesis 1, John 1, and Hebrews 1. I’ve written elsewhere about how open theism and forms of Calvinism both take anthropomorphic language about God (preordaining and being surprised) too literally.

Nick, the Rabbis, and understanding the Bible

Nick Norelli, a few months ago, posted:

Louis McBride just raised the issue about using rabbinic literature in NT studies, noting that he’s skeptical of the approach. He quotes Amy Jill-Levine who notes a number of problems:

Rabbinic literature is later than the NT
It’s often prescriptive rather than descriptive
It’s often contradictory

I agree with all of those points. I’d say that I think it’s value is limited because it represents a divergent strain of Judaism. The NT and rabbinic literature grew in the same soil but are the results of different strains of the same seeds and manifestly different manners of cultivation. If anything, I think the rabbinic corpus can help us, at times, to understand Jesus’ opponents. I don’t think they shed a great deal of light on the NT in general though.

I’ve been thinking on and off about the last sentences. I’ve come to a conclusion that is in line with his thoughts.

I think that since the Rabbinic literature is a major attempt at Old Testament interpretation, it can provide insight into serious efforts to see a unity in the Old Testament. Now, this unity is not unity in Christ that Luke 24 hints at. But as Christians we are obligated to accept that in some sense, the Old Testament had a unity and coherence prior to the Incarnation (it was Jesus’ Bible after all). I do think that, though our (read: Christian) Old Testament interpretation should be Christ centered and oriented, that we still have to interpret it in a fashion that is coherent. Thus, seeing efforts contemporaneous to collecting the New Testament canon at finding unity in the Old Testament can help us understand the integrity of the Old Testament. And a deeper understanding of the Old Testament can help us understand the New Testament.