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Song 8:5-14 - A Better Way

5 Who is that coming up from the wilderness,
   leaning upon her beloved?
Under the apple tree I awakened you.
There your mother was in labour with you;
   there she who bore you was in labour.
6 Set me as a seal upon your heart,
   as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death,
   passion fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
   a raging flame.
7 Many waters cannot quench love,
   neither can floods drown it.
If one offered for love
   all the wealth of one’s house,
   it would be utterly scorned.
8 We have a little sister,
   and she has no breasts.
What shall we do for our sister,
   on the day when she is spoken for?
9 If she is a wall,
   we will build upon her a battlement of silver;
but if she is a door,
   we will enclose her with boards of cedar.
10 I was a wall,
   and my breasts were like towers;
then I was in his eyes
   as one who brings peace.
11 Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon;
   he entrusted the vineyard to keepers;
   each one was to bring for i…

Books of the Year: 2012

I've been extraordinarily busy at work lately so I'm barely getting this out before Christmas.. Oh well. I still want to keep up the tradition and briefly mention the best five books that I read for the first time in 2012. This year was the year of the long books so my volume, again, was a little lower, but I believe I made up for it with quality. Anyways, here's the list!
5. History of Sexuality Vol. 2: The Use of Pleasure by Michel Foucault

All three volumes are worth reading, but this one stuck out to me the most by showing that the way(s) we have thought about sex and sexuality over the past few hundred years is far from the only way. The heavy citation of primary source material also makes this book invaluable. Anyone studying sexual ethics needs to wrestle with this book.
4. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien

I read this on my flight to China and back. Even though I knew the whole story it was a very rich and enjoyable read. I love the way Tolkien creates a world full…

Balthasar on Faith

...Christian faith, being God's witness in us, can be understood only as the answer to this interior and intimate self-witnessing of the God who opens up the secrets of his Heart as he gives himself to humanity. This is a first and most formal affirmation, and one which must proceed all those particular modalities which are related to man's concrete condition: his sinful turning away from God, his blindness and obstinacy, and finally, those things which grace works in him - his conversion, his breaking, his humbling and his exultation. Faith is participation in the free self-disclosure of God's interior life and light, just as the spiritual nature of the creature means participation in the unveild-ness of all reality, which in one way or another must also include the divine reality. The created spirit does not "deduce" this reality (in which God is included in whatever way) from indications and logical premises; as spirit, it is from the very start set in the lig…

Doctor Who: A Murky Pond

The end of the 2012 portion of season 7 occurred two months ago. Ever since I've wanted to do a write-up on Amy Pond but I've been too busy with work to pull it off. Things aren't slowing down any, but I miss blogging to the degree that I'm going to write this post anyways. You'll get this post on Amy today, and at some point in the near future I'll write a comparison post or posts on Amy and Rory vs. Rose and Mickey.

As you can probably tell, I love Doctor Who. I'm a fan. I like almost everything I've seen. That doesn't mean that I'm not critical at the same time. I MUCH prefer the writing of Russel T. Davies over that of Steven Moffat. There are several reasons for that and I want to focus on one of them in this post. While writing strong episodes, Moffat struggles to develop his characters. In fact, I would say that Amy is neither believable nor, honestly, very interesting, or perhaps, better put, important.

At the start of season five I had…

Song of Songs 6:4-8:4: Unveiled

4 You are beautiful as Tirzah, my love,
   comely as Jerusalem,
   terrible as an army with banners.
5 Turn away your eyes from me,
   for they overwhelm me!
Your hair is like a flock of goats,
   moving down the slopes of Gilead.
6 Your teeth are like a flock of ewes,
   that have come up from the washing;
all of them bear twins,
   and not one among them is bereaved.
7 Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate
   behind your veil.
8 There are sixty queens and eighty concubines,
   and maidens without number.
9 My dove, my perfect one, is the only one,
   the darling of her mother,
   flawless to her that bore her.
The maidens saw her and called her happy;
   the queens and concubines also, and they praised her.
10 ‘Who is this that looks forth like the dawn,
   fair as the moon, bright as the sun,
   terrible as an army with banners?’
11 I went down to the nut orchard,
   to look at the blossoms of the valley,
to see whether the vines had budded,
   whether the pomegranates were in bloo…

Song of Songs 5:2-6:3: Crazed Desire

2I slept, but my heart was awake. Listen! my beloved is knocking. “Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one; for my head is wet with dew, my locks with the drops of the night.” 3I had put off my garment; how could I put it on again? I had bathed my feet; how could I soil them? 4My beloved thrust his hand into the opening, and my inmost being yearned for him. 5I arose to open to my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh, upon the handles of the bolt. 6I opened to my beloved, but my beloved had turned and was gone. My soul failed me when he spoke. I sought him, but did not find him; I called him, but he gave no answer. 7Making their rounds in the city the sentinels found me; they beat me, they wounded me, they took away my mantle, those sentinels of the walls. 8I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, tell him this: I am faint with love.9What is your beloved more than another beloved, O fairest among women? What is yo…

Song of Songs 4:1-5:1: Seductive Compliment

1 How beautiful you are, my love,
   how very beautiful!
Your eyes are doves
   behind your veil.
Your hair is like a flock of goats,
   moving down the slopes of Gilead.
2 Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes
   that have come up from the washing,
all of which bear twins,
   and not one among them is bereaved.
3 Your lips are like a crimson thread,
   and your mouth is lovely.
Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate
   behind your veil.
4 Your neck is like the tower of David,
   built in courses;
on it hang a thousand bucklers,
   all of them shields of warriors.
5 Your two breasts are like two fawns,
   twins of a gazelle,
   that feed among the lilies.
6 Until the day breathes
   and the shadows flee,
I will hasten to the mountain of myrrh
   and the hill of frankincense.
7 You are altogether beautiful, my love;
   there is no flaw in you.
8 Come with me from Lebanon, my bride;
   come with me from Lebanon.
Depart from the peak of Amana,
   from the peak of Senir and Hermon,
fro…

Song of Songs 3:6-11: Hope or Delusion?

6 What is that coming up from the wilderness,   like a column of smoke,perfumed with myrrh and frankincense,   with all the fragrant powders of the merchant? 7 Look, it is the litter of Solomon!Around it are sixty mighty men   of the mighty men of Israel, 8 all equipped with swords   and expert in war,each with his sword at his thigh   because of alarms by night. 9 King Solomon made himself a palanquin   from the wood of Lebanon. 10 He made its posts of silver,   its back of gold, its seat of purple;its interior was inlaid with love.   Daughters of Jerusalem, 11   come out.Look, O daughters of Zion,   at King Solomon,at the crown with which his mother crowned him   on the day of his wedding,   on the day of the gladness of his heart. (NRSV)
This is one of the tougher passages to fit into the overall flow of the Song. It's much too early in the Song to be the wedding of the couple.[1] Additionally, it's quite difficult to determine the reference of verse 6. Part of the reason fo…

Doctor Who: Thoughts on the Season 7 Trailer

I know the trailer has been out for a week now, but now that I've just gotten fully caught up I finally feel like I can comment on it. The main thing that jumped out at me is that we're seeing a shift back in genre. Under the writing of Russell T Davies, Doctor Who was primarily Sci-fi adventure with a few Sci-fi thrillers mixed in. Under Steven Moffat it switched and the show was primarily Sci-fi thriller, and I think there was a good plot reason for this. The big story under Davies was the transformation of the Doctor - his becoming less violent. It's hard to have adventure stories where the Doctor doesn't kill. Under Moffat we've seen a largely non-violent Doctor who is trying to distance himself from his past of killing. I was surprised to see so many seeming adventure stories in the trailer (especially the Dalek epic). It will be interesting to see if we have a relapsing Doctor or not (the trailer leads me to think that we will) and if so how (or even if) the…

Book Review: Galatians

Martinus de Boer's commentary on Galatians came out too late for me to utilize it when I blogged through Galatians previously. Now that it's out, I figured I'd give reviewing it a whirl. As usual, for general comments on format, see the discussion of the NTL series in my commentary series overview post. This particular volume in the New Testament Library is one of the more detailed in the series. It checks in at a little over 400 pages, making it among the most detailed work since Martyn's commentary in 1997 (the other candidate being Schreiner), and like Martyn's is also written from an apocalyptic perspective.

de Boer begins with a brief introduction (especially considering the overall size of the commentary) canvassing all of the typical introductory matters. For those interested, he opts for a fairly early date and a northern Galatian hypothesis.

The commentary proper is very detailed. de Boer assesses how each sentence fits into the larger Pauline argument an…

Deliverance of God: Final Thoughts

I've been debating whether or not to blog through the rest of his work on Romans. The problem is that it's very difficult to blog through it at the 20,000 foot level and blogging through in detail will take me forever on my limited schedule. Perhaps at some future date I will decide to blog through Romans, at which point I'll wrestle with the book more. I do want to spend more time working through his way of reading Paul, so something will appear at some point.

I'll leave you with this major thought from the rest of the book. According to Campbell, what's at stake is the issue of agency in salvation. He's thoroughly Christological. Much of his time is spent arguing that the faith vs. works antithesis is not an antithesis of opposites. It's not opposing human faith vs. human works (as in no effort vs. effort), but Christ's faith vs. human works. If you were to ask Campbell how one is saved, he would say, 'by Jesus.' Only Jesus can liberate. Thus…

The Deliverance of God: How Does Romans 2 Fit with the Rest of Romans?

At SBL in 2009 there was a session on the Deliverance of God. Michael Gorman objected to Campbell's construal of Romans 1-3, arguing that Keener, in his 2009 commentary on Romans, had shown decisively that Romans 2 is integral to the rest of Paul's argument in Romans and hence should not be assigned as a reductio of the Teacher's position.[1] This is a significant claim, and if correct, it severely weakens Campbell's case. It would give him exegetical problems on par with those he exposed in justification theory. In this post we'll assess the case.

Keener has two charts, one on page 45 and one on 47 which list the themes of Romans 2 that get developed elsewhere in Romans. I'm not going to go through them all, and I do believe some of them are not really relevant. Before we start looking at a couple of representative cases, I want to bring up one point. One should expect, even if Romans 2 is a reductio, to have some ties between Romans 2 and the rest of Romans.…

Doctor Who: Rose Tyler - Traitor?

The end of season four was very, very controversial. When I first saw it, I felt cheated. I was angry. The more I think about it, the more I think I see what Russell Davies was doing. He is too good of a writer and the show is too carefully crafted for him to screw up Rose's character and the end of a four season storyline. So while the ending isn't strictly part of our series, it is tangentially related, and I've agonized over that scene in Bad Wolf Bay so much that I have to write about it. :)

To briefly set things up, near the end of the final episode of season four, there is a meta-crisis, that results in a part human. part Time Lord Doctor being generated. He has all of the Doctor's memories, and thinks and acts like the Doctor. However, importantly, he only has one heart and cannot regenerate. He only has one life to live. The meta-crisis Doctor brought full resolution to the battle fought against the Daleks, and in the process, wiped them out. Thus, the real Doc…

Dr. Who: Rose Tyler - The Turning Points

In my last post, I opened with a photo of Rose from the season one episode Dalek. There we see Rose at the height of her compassion, demanding that the Doctor spare the Dalek. This screen capture comes from the end of season two, when she's laughing in the eyestalk of the Dalek about how she killed the Emporer of the Daleks. It seems like a different Rose.[1] I can't imagine that early season one Rose would have laughed about killing any being. How does Rose get from point A to point B?


After her first encounter with the Dalek, one has to assume that the Doctor fills her in on the Time War in more detail, especially detailing the evil of the Daleks. Rose experiences it firsthand when she gets caught by the transmat beam and placed into the game show in Bad Wolf.[2] Thus when she comes face to face with the Daleks she certainly will believe everything the Doctor told her about them and one believes she'll do anything to save humanity from them. Additionally, in the second p…

Doctor Who: Rose Tyler - Becoming Indispensable

Rose Tyler is by far my favorite character over the first four seasons. She's the one (not the Doctor) who got me hooked on the show. Perhaps the most startling element in the entire story arc of the first four seasons is Rose's appearance with a rather large gun at the end of season 4. I've never agonized over a fictional character the way I did with Rose. How did sweet and fun Rose become this? The answer is not short and will span three posts this week. We will begin today with a discussion of her development over the first two seasons. On Wednesday we will zero in on a few key events that largely shaped who she became and showed her evolution. On Friday we will delve into the controversial end of the fourth season, looking at why both the Doctor and Rose make the fateful decisions they make.


Rose undergoes a significant transformation during her time with the Doctor. Initially, she comes across as a very ordinary girl. There isn't much to set her apart from anyone e…

The Deliverance of God: Romans 1:-18-3:20

It's finally time to return to the Deliverance of God now that I've finished reading through the many many chapters laying out his understanding of Romans. In this post I will give an extremely brief overview of Campbell's approach to 1:18-3:20. In my next post on this book (probably not for about two weeks), I will take up the suggestion of Michael Gorman from SBL in 2009 and contrast Campbell's work on Romans 2 with that of Craig Keener's recent commentary.

According to Campbell, 1:18-32 functions as a case of speech-in-character, meaning Paul here writes in another's voice. Rather than being the authentic voice of Paul, it's the voice of the Teacher. Here Paul has worked up a speech conversant of Wisdom of Solomon that presents part of the Teacher's opening salvo. Paul does this, so that he can pick it apart, and show its inconsistency with other portions of the Teacher's teaching.

Starting in 2:1 Paul begins the attack. In fact, 2:1 overtly sig…

Book Review: Hermeneutics: An Introduction

Anthony Thiselton is the leading conservative voice in the field of hermeneutics, having written several major books and countess articles on the topic. Additionally, he has written a major commentary on 1 CorinthiansHermeneutics: An Introduction comes to us as his attempt to write an introductory text for the student and general reader.

The book begins in the first two chapters by laying a brief theoretical foundation for further discussion. Hermeneutics, according to Thiselton, is focused on the entire event of communication, encompassing author, text, and reader. Thiselton advocates a philosophical hermeneutics built off of Speech Act Theory and this is clear from the beginning. He also presses home Grant Osborne's notion of a hermeneutical spiral, the need for us to be aware of what we bring to the text both in terms of perspective and pre-understanding.

The third chapter covers Jesus' parables. Thiselton placed it in the book as a case study to try to give readers an i…