What Facebook Thinks of Jim West

A little while ago I joined Jim West’s Huldrych Zwingli Facebook Groupand added Jim as a friend immediately afterwards. I didn’t know, however, that Facebook’s security check to prevent automated friend requests would be customized to each individual user! Click on the screenshot below to learn what terms I was required to enter in order to add Jim West as a friend:

No, folks, I’m not making this up!


On Why Godchildren Are Good for the Soul

Two years and a month ago, I returned to Puerto Rico from a lovely three-month stay in Grand Rapids, MI, to find that a number of my books had horribly fallen victim to water damage and were being consumed by mold. I was sorrowfully forced to throw them out, even though the victims included Schaff’s 3-volume Creeds of Christendom set, and even some volumes of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers and of Barth’s Church Dogmatics. My Godson, who helped me moved rather shortly thereafter, was an eyewitness to some of the tragic aftermath: he beheld the end result of horrors that no book should ever suffer. Moved to compassion on account of the sorrow endured by his dear old Godfather (who will reach the exceeding great age of 30 years in 2008), he decided to replace my Creeds of Christendom set, and tells me that the books are on their way. I wish, then, to publicly thank my Godson David for his kindness! As a truly grateful Vito Corleone said to the elder Abbandando (when the latter was forced by Don Fanucci to give Vito’s job to his nephew): “I thank you. And I won’t forget it.”

Note.- In case you, O reader, are curious about which other books were lost, or else if you feel moved to further soothe the sorrow of my loss, here is the list of casualties:

  • Barth’s Church Dogmatics I.1 and II.2 (I managed to salvage III.2, but it is quite moldy and will have to be replaced eventually).
  • Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Green Series), Vol. 4: St. Augustine, Anti-Manichæan and Anti-Donatist Writings.
  • Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Blue Series), Vol. 3: Theodoret, Jerome, Gennadius, and Rufinus: Historical Writings.
  • Tyson, John R. Charles Wesley on Sanctification: A Biographical and Theological Study (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986).

Роди нам се Христос Спас!

On this 26th of December, the Second Day of Christmas, the Holy Church celebrates the Synaxis of Our Most Holy Lady, the Mother of God and Ever-virgin Mary. “This Assembly,” reads the short Synaxarion from the Great Horologion, “which is our gathering to sing the glory of the Mother of God, takes place fittingly particularly for her as the one who gave birth beyond nature to the Son and Word of God, and became the instrument of the salvation of humanity.”

As a Festal treat, you will find below the wonderful video for the song Анђели певају (The Angels Sing). The recording is from the 2006 album Обновимо себе – подигнимо Ступове, produced as part of the efforts to raise funds to rebuild the ancient Djurdjevi Stupovi Monastery in Ras. The song itself is one of many written by St Nikolaj Velimirović (d. 1956)our beloved Vladika Nikolaj, the “Serbian Chrysostom.” Below the video, you will find the Serbian text along with my English translation. Enjoy!

Анђели певају The Angels Sing
Ноћ прекрасна и ноћ тија,
над пећином звезда сија,
у пећини Мати спи,
над Исусом Анђел бди.

Анђели певају,
пастири свирају,
Анђели певају,
мудраци јављају:
што народи чекаше,
што пророци рекоше,
ево сад се у свет јави,
у свет јави и објави:
Роди нам се Христос Спас,
за спасење свију нас.
Алилуја, алилуја,
Господи, помилуј!

Night most beautiful, silent night!
A star shines over the Cave.
In the cave the Mother sleeps;
An angel watches over Jesus.

The angels sing [it],
The shepherds play [it];
The angels sing [it],
The Magi make [it] known:
What the people had been expecting,
What the prophets had foretold,
Has now been revealed to the world,
Revealed and announced to the world:
Christ the Savior is born to us,
For the salvation of us all.
Alleluia, Alleluia,
Lord, have mercy!

Мир Божији, Христос се роди! Ваистину се роди!
Peace from God, Christ is born! Truly He is born!

Glory, O Lord, to Thy holy Nativity!

On this, the 25th day of December, we celebrate the Nativity according to the flesh of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.
Χριστὸς γεννάται! Δοξάσατε!
Christ is born! Give ye glory!


Мир Божији, Христос се роди! Ваистину се роди!
Peace from God, Christ is born! Truly He is born!

Greetings to all on the radiant feast of the Lord’s Nativity.

Short Synaxarion of the Feast, from the Great Horologion
2007 Nativity Encyclical of His Holiness Pavle, Patriarch of Serbia

A Woefully Overlooked Proposal

In the Biblical Studies Carnival XXIII, the Rev Mr John Hobbins, who hosted the affair, had this to say:

Have you noticed? Online discourse is becoming an accepted form of academic discourse. [….] If you can stand the heat, blogging is a great kitchen from which a scholar, aspiring or otherwise, may test out, refine, and serve on a golden platter his or her ideas.

But let me add a nasty comment. Too many bloggers use sloppy [….], ungrammatical prose [….], and spell atrociously, even in the title [….]. Not a good idea if you want a college or university to hire you in the future! On every board that does a first hire or reviews tenure, there sits at least one extremely anal individual who will make you pay for stuff like that. My proposal: that comments to posts of the following format become standard practice: PC (Please correct): [x should read y]. ETC (Erase this comment).

Of course, I couldn’t agree more with John. Yet I am quick to note that his brilliant proposal seems to not have caught on. I certainly have received no such comments on this blog, and to my shame, I have only made comments along those lines twiceand then only to bloggers I feel I know well, even though I have caught a multitude of unintentional errors elsewhere. I will admit that often I have shrunk from so commenting in order to avoid offending a blogger I don’t know very well (if at all); yet I know that I myself would be infinitely thankful if any readers of this blog would take a minute to let me know of any orthographical or stylistic infelicities that they may encounter. (After all, the editor is rather infamous for nodding!) Perhaps in this New Year, we should all resolve to follow John’s advice and, in the spirit of camaraderie, make watching out for each other’s writing a part of the culture of biblio- and theoblogdom. After all, we’re in this together, and the world appears to be watching.

Free Online Education for the New Year

Happy New Year, everyone!

You might recall that some time back I reported on a number of educational resources available onlinenotably, full courses and other lectures available through iTunes U from such institutions as Stanford, UC Berkeley, Concordia Seminary and Reformed Theological Seminary. (Go to that post for direct links to each of these resources.) Well, a recent AP article further notes that the trend by top educational institutions to make their academic resources available online is only growing, with more and more materials from these and other prestigious centers finding their way online.

  • Yale University has launched a website where a number of full courses may be downloaded for free; many others will follow shortly. Among the courses currently available are Introduction to the Hebrew Bible with Christine Hayes, and Introduction to Political Philosophy with Steven B. Smith. Outstanding individual lectures continue to be available through their iTunes U platform.
  • Princeton University is still not on iTunes U (surprise! surprise!), but one may access a considerable number of archived lectures from their website, as well as download several unnamed podcasts. (If they ever make it to iTunes U, one hopes that these podcasts will be duly separated and labeled; after all, one is not bound to be interested in every event that happened in a given year simply because it took place at Princeton!) Needless to say, some of the archived lectures will prove of great interest to readers of this blog: for instance, Paula Fredriksen’s three-part “Sin: The History of an Idea” (October 9-11, 2007) and her “Jesus, Paul, and the Origin of Christianity” (September 17, 2000); Mark Noll’s three-part “Race, Religion, and American Politics from Nat Turner to George W. Bush” (Oct 17-19, 2006); Mark Juergensmeyer’s three-part “God and War” (February 21-23, 2006); and Bishop [now Metropolitan] Kallistos Ware’s “Orthodoxy and Western Christianity in the 21st Century” (April 16, 2002).
  • UC Berkeley, which is way ahead of everyone else in these matters, has set up a YouTube page featuring some full courses. YouTube offerings are a bit sparse at the moment, but keep watching if the breadth of their podcast offerings is any indication, this too will become a substantial resource.

Then there are those OpenCourseWare (OCW) resources of which MIT is facile princeps. These are very interesting, but they are almost exclusively text-based, and very seldom do they include recorded audio or video lectures. In fact, these usually do not even include even the full text of lectures, but only class outlines and syllabi. It was for this reason that I did not mention them in my earlier post, even though I was, of course, aware of them; my chief interest is to document full courses available online. Still, there are some very useful OCW materials; if this is something that interests you, do browse some of the best and most complete OCW sites out there: those by MIT, the Open University (UK), Utah State University, and the University of Notre Dame. Again, only a select number of these OCW courses have at least some (and usually rather minimal) audio or video content, and among the institutions linked above, only MIT offers a list of such courses.

And finally, two resources for theological education that are worthy of mention:

Enjoy, my friends, and have a wonderful 2008!