Wednesday, March 28, 2007 Discovery Channel Reported to be Downplaying "Lost Tomb of Jesus" Documentary

"Discovery Channel's controversial James Cameron-produced documentary "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" drew the largest audience for the network in more than a year on Sunday night, but the network has taken several recent steps to downplay the project.

Departing from normal procedures, the cable network didn't tout its big ratings win. The network also scheduled a last-minute special that harshly criticized its own documentary, has yanked a planned repeat of "Tomb" and has not put the documentary on its video-on-demand server."

- read the entire article

Other material relevant to the Talpiot Tomb:

(I know I'm on hiatus, but this seemed too interesting not to post).

Monday, March 26, 2007

time for a break

emergesque will be dark for a bit - not sure how long.

very busy, some unusual stresses, and I need to refocus and recenter. I'm lost in too many things but Him.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

"Episcopal Bishops Reject Ultimatum"

Episcopal bishops risked losing their place in the global Anglican family Wednesday by affirming their support for gays and rejecting a key demand that they give up some authority to theological conservatives outside the U.S. church.In strong and direct language, the Episcopal House of Bishops said it views the Gospel as teaching that "all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants" in the church. The bishops also said they would not agree to an Anglican plan for leaders outside the U.S. denomination to oversee the small number of conservative American dioceses that disagree.

- full ap story

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

so wild it must be true

the david crowder band meets ted nugent.

a "final" comment on "the lost tomb of jesus" from darrell bock

I am now back in Dallas. Things appear to be settling down on the tomb front. No real new information or responses to report.

The process of public vetting seems to be playing itself out. We are in a time when such disclosures directly to the public mean that the public will have to allow the public vetting process to take place before embracing or rejecting such directly made claims. What iis so interesting about this particular example is the near unanimity that this claim has little substance to it, given that there are so many points in the linkage to get to the conclusion that are suspect.

I shall continue to keep my eyes and ears open, but the verdict on this one seems to have been quite negative. If so, it may show that public vetting over blogs and the Net can work, even though it is not the best way to go about this kind of discussion.

- from dr. darrell bock

Other material relevant to the Talpiot Tomb:

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Darrell Bock in Interviews with Key "Jesus Family Tomb" Figures

...Amos Kloner, who "teaches at Hebrew University and was a key figure in the Israeli Antiquities Authority oversaw the original excavation of the site"


...Stephen Pfann, who "helped identify the inscriptions on the Lost Tomb documentary."

- link to interviews

Other material relevant to the Talpiot Tomb:

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Broadening of the Evangelical Christian Political Agenda

EJ Dionne writes a column commenting on the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) recent pushback when James Dobson and others called for the ousting of the NAE's VP of Government Affairs - Rich Cizik.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Episcopal Church Rejects Election of a South Carolina Bishop

It speaks volumes that a double standard is used for conservatives, and it is further evidence that conservatives are not leaving, they're being driven out of the Episcopal Church.

- Dr. Kendall S Harmon in the Washington Post after Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori informed the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina that she had declared their September 2006 election of Rev. Mark Lawrence null and void.

Also see the statement by the Rev. J. Haden McCormick who is
President of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina

Friday, March 16, 2007

Zondervan Responds to Rick Mansfield's Concerns about their Commitment to the TNIV

Rick Mansfields posts:

In an off the record capacity, I have been in email dialogue with individuals from Zondervan since last Sunday after posting my "Open Letter to Zondervan and the International Bible Society Regarding the Promotion of the TNIV." Response has been very positive and there is promise of ongoing dialogue.

This afternoon, Tom Dean, (Senior Director of Marketing, BIbles) contacted me asking me to post some very specific and "official" responses to some of the issues I raised in the Open Letter last week.

Click here to see Zondervan's response.

Churches & New Media

a request for emergesque readers:

Leadership Network has asked me to work with them to explore how churches are using new media - facebook, myspace, podcasts, etc - to reach their local and extended communities.

If you are aware of innovative uses of these and other media by churches, would you let me know by email or in comments to this post? I'm looking for folks to interview.

many thanks.

Creative Differences Lead to Creative Success

I have been following with some interest news accounts of Boston frontman Brad Delp's death this past Friday 9 March and read a wonderful tribute by bandmate and Boston founder Tom Scholz.

The thing that really interested me about Tom's tribute was how he came to appreciate the significant differences between himself and Brad and how together they helped to make Boston a musical success. I think because I've just begun a somewhat intense and personal theological conversation with a friend, I thought of differences in the church when I read Tom's note. Such differences in Christ's body should not always resolve to both/and, but sometimes they should. And, either way, mutual humility and open minds can result in the triumph of truth.

Related posts:

This post or article contains a link to Wikipedia, an open source online encyclopedia. Its articles can be edited by anyone at any time. For this reason, finding a link to a wikipedia article on emergesque indicates that at the time the link was added, I found that the article as it existed at that time was worthy of review or reference. However, because wikipedia articles are dynamic, care should be taken to verify information found in its articles.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Changes in the Emerging Missional Church Down Under

It appears that Australian Alan Hirsch - who co-authored The Shaping of Things to Come with Michael Frost - is moving to North America and Andrew Hamilton (aka Hamo) will be heading up Forge.

It will be delightful to see what Alan might be able to contribute to the church in North America coming from Australia's unique Emerging Missional Focus.

ht: Matt Stone via Brother Maynard.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

CNN: " Scholar: 'Jesus Tomb' documentary got it wrong"

JERUSALEM (AP) -- A prominent scholar looking into the factual basis of a popular but widely criticized documentary film that claims to have located the tomb of Jesus said Tuesday that a crucial piece of evidence filmmakers used to support their claim is a mistake.

Stephen Pfann, a textual scholar and paleographer at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem, said he has released a paper claiming the makers of "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" were mistaken when they identified an ancient ossuary from the cave as belonging to the New Testament's Mary Magdalene.

[links added]

- read the full Associated Press Story on CNN

Other material relevant to the Talpiot Tomb:

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ben Witherington Interview on "The Jesus Family Tomb"

Ben Witherington has announced on his blog:

Friends, I did an extended radio interview for the U.K. audience which is airing soon but you can hear it now. Here is the link---

On this topic also see

Andrew Careaga Calls it a Day

Andrew Careaga, one of the first writers exploring the nexus of Christianity and New Media, has decided to stop blogging to focus his attention elsewhere. Andrew wrote

Andrew, you will be missed!

"Jesus Tomb" Wrap Up

I believe the past week or ten days surrounding the airing of the “Jesus tomb” special have been highly instructive. They have been instructive with regard to the need to sift through evidence carefully before jumping to conclusions. They have shown the need for specialized expertise in biblical studies, archeology, statistics, and so on. They have also revealed massive ignorance with regard to the nature of Jesus’ resurrection and the way in which it is indispensable for the Christian faith.
Dr. Andreas Köstenberger writes a "'Jesus Tomb' Wrap Up'" and examines the claim that the Talpiot Tomb is the tomb of Jesus and his family.

On this topic also see

Monday, March 12, 2007

Nice Rick Warren Quote

Now, it’s easy to be biblical if you don’t care about being relevant … And it’s easy to be relevant if you don’t care about being biblical. I happen to want to be both.”

- Rick Warren recently on ABC's Nightline as reported by Todd Rhodes

Exploring the Statistical Assumptions behind "The Lost Tomb of Jesus"

As you pile on more assumptions, you're building a house of cards," says Keith Devlin, a Stanford mathematician and NPR's "Math Guy." (Scientific American also challenged the calculation on its Web site.) [links added]
- The Wall Street Journal explores some of the assumptions behind the statistics cited for "The Jesus Family Tomb."

Related Posts to the Talpiot Tomb:

A Friendly Complaint about Zondervan and the TNIV

the attention devoted to keeping the TNIV website up to date frankly just stinks., a Zondervan website for the version, has not been significantly updated in probably two years. And it's not that it's just been neglected, it's like a neglected house that is starting to fall apart. The most significant neglect is on the products page, promoted on the home page as supposedly being "the complete TNIV line-up." It's not. In fact, it hasn't been updated since it was first created as far as I can tell. On this page, the visitor will find no mention of the TNIV Study Bible. the Bible Experience, or the recently released College Devotional Bible. And to make matters even worse, upon a recent visit, I discovered that now there are graphics which are missing and do not load. And all the bizarre white space at the bottom of the products page make it look like a middle schooler's first attempt at a website.

I wouldn't dream of recommending to a person who is interested in the TNIV.

- the entire post - Rick Mansfield wonders about Zondervan's commitment to Today's New International Version

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Dr. Jodi Magness on "The Lost Tomb of Jesus"

"The identification of the Talpiot tomb as the tomb of Jesus and his family is based on a string of problematic and unsubstantiated claims, including adding an otherwise unattested Matthew (Matya) to the family of Jesus; identifying an otherwise unknown son of Jesus named Judah; and identifying the Mariamne named on one of the ossuaries in the tomb as Mary Magdalene by interpreting the word Mara (which follows the name Mariamne) as the Aramaic term for “master” (arguing that Mariamne was a teacher and leader). To account for the fact that Mary/Mariamne’s name is written in Greek, the filmmakers transform the small Jewish town of Migdal/Magdala/Tarichaea on the Sea of Galilee (Mary’s hometown) into “an important trading center” where Greek was spoken. Instead, as in other Jewish towns of this period, generally only the upper classes knew Greek, whereas poorer Jews spoke Aramaic as their everyday language.

Taken individually, each of these points weakens the case for the identification of the Talpiot tomb as the tomb of Jesus and his family. Collectively these points are devastating, since the statistical analyses presented in the film are based on certain assumptions made about these names."

- read the entire article from the Biblical Archaeology Society

her bio from the article:

Jodi Magness is the Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received a Ph.D. in Classical Archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in Archaeology and History from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has participated in more than 20 excavations in Israel and Greece, and currently directs excavations in the Roman fort at Yotvata, Israel. Her publications include an award-winning book on The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Eerdmans 2002) and an article entitled “Ossuaries and the Burials of Jesus and James,” Journal of Biblical Literature 124 (2005)."

Related Posts:

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Scot McKnight on "The Jesus Family Tomb"

"I'll make a confession. I’ve lived long enough to see the emergence, the trend, and now the aging of the genre of Easter ambulance-chasing publishers. Every Lent, as Christians afflict themselves with minor fasting in order to participate more directly in the sufferings of Christ, and as Christians eagerly anticipate the good news called Easter, a publisher announces a new discovery, making the claim that the Christian gospel has neither a good Friday nor some good news. The genre is old, the trick has been seen before, and the American public knows the game."

- the entire post - McKnight writes in Jim Wallis' God Politic's blog about the "Lost Tomb of Jesus."

Also relevant to The Talpiot Tomb:

Al Mohler Denounces Ann Coulter's Use of Pejorative Term

"So . . . why would Ann Coulter use that word? And, even more troubling to me, why would any in her audience laugh? There is nothing remotely funny about that word in any context. It is meant to hurt when boys use it in the locker room, and it was meant to hurt when Ann Coulter used it when speaking to a conservative audience. It demeans homosexuals and should be banned from any acceptable discourse.

How can homosexuals think anything but the worst of a movement that would laugh at the use of this slur? How can we think any better of ourselves if we stand by and let it happen?"

- the entire post

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Changing Role of the Pastor

jamie arpin-ricci writes:

When I first joined YWAM [Youth with a Mission] staff over a decade ago, my first job was as the registrar for schools offered at YWAM Cambridge's Academy Of Performing Arts. The majority of my time was spent handling student applications and dealing with references. As a Christian program, of the three references we required, we always asked for a Pastors Reference. Occasionally people came without any church background, but the majority of students easily provided this reference.

Over the last couple of years a shift began to happen that has caught my attention. Almost half of our student and staff applicants contact us asking us if it is a problem that they cannot provide a Pastors Reference. They go on to share one in a number of common explanations- I haven't been part of one church for very long, so I don't know my pastor well enough; My church is quite large, so I don't have any real relationship with my pastor and he wouldn't be able to provide a reference; I don't attend a typical church, per se, so can I use someone else?

While their explanations themselves are very telling, I am genuinely and increasingly intrigued by the emerging pattern. The role and relationship with ones pastor has changed dramatically. Where 10 years ago, most Christians could quite easily go to their pastor and get a fairly accurate reference, now it seems increasingly uncommon and difficult. For better or for worse, this is a significant change in a relatively short period of time
[link added].

According to Leadership Network's recent publication Innovation 2007, over 21 million United States professing Christians - 38% - are in churches that have over 500 regular Sunday morning attenders. 4.7 million of these are in the nation's over 1200 megachurches - defined as churches that have over 2000 people. Considering that fifty years ago there were less than 10 megachurches in the US, this phenomenon represents a growing reality that may help to explain Arpin-Ricci's observation.

But rather than guaranteeing less personal pastoring, the growth of individual local church size could precipitate a growing lay pastoring movement that could significantly strengthen Christ's church in the US.

Related post:

"The Tomb of Jesus and Family? Second Thoughts"

"All of these factors taken together make the theory proposed by Jacobovici and Cameron very doubtful. For these reasons and others, recognized historians and archaeologists do not think that the Talpiot Tomb is the Tomb of the Family of Jesus and that Jesus himself was buried there. In my view, it is a most unlikely theory and will not be embraced by competent archaeologists and scholars."

- Dr. Craig A Evans, Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament Studies at Acadia Divinity College in Nova Scotia, Canada , has posted his thoughts on recent sensational claims about the Talpiot Tomb.

On this topic also see

The "Jesus Family Tomb" Roundup

Updated 3/9/07 - 12:01 AM

There have been a number of very helpful posts regarding The Talpiot Tomb that's featured in the Discovery Channel program "The Lost Tomb of Jesus." Though we've been collecting them on's The Talpiot Tomb Resource Page, I thought I would also mention here some of the more helpful resources for those who are interested:

- For even more resources see The Talpiot Tomb Resource Page

- My own thoughts about this firestorm: 'The Jesus Tomb' - A Call for Perspective.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

This isn't Right.

"Happy International Women's Day everyone. To mark this wonderful occasion, I thought I would bring to your attention the story of one woman in Saudi Arabia. The woman was kidnapped at knifepoint and gang raped. She was then beaten by her brother and sentenced to 90 lashes. Her crime? Meeting a man who was not a relative."

- Ruth Gledhill in The Times (UK)

"It's a Post-Denominational World"

"LifeWay has released the results of research on denonimational loyalty among Protestant and evangelical church attenders. The study indicates that 'one-third of all American Protestant churchgoers feel less than positive they will continue attending the same church in the near future. If they do switch, only about one out of four would only consider another church in the same denomination'" [one link added].

- the full post by Tom Ascol

Related Post:

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Remembering a Life

"Thank you, Daddy. Thank you for sixty-one years of faithfulness to me. I am simply looking into his face now. Thank you. You were a good father. You never put me down. Discipline, yes. Spankings, yes. But you never scorned me. You never treated me with contempt. You never spoke of my future with hopelessness in your voice. You believed God’s hand was on me. You approved of my ministry. You prayed for me. Everyday. That may be the biggest change in these new days: Daddy is no longer praying for me."

- Bill Piper, John Piper's Dad, died yesterday. Read John's full reflection here from his journal.

John's also written his father's obituary here.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Decline of the Denomination and the Ascendancy of Churches

The decline of the cost of information has a disrupting effect on institutions - sometimes helpful, sometimes unhelpful. An example would be the role that Gutenberg's printing press played in the Protestant Reformation. The ability to print information facilitated the spread of Protestant Reformation ideas and therefore the movement. The radio also helped to change history - think of the impact of FDR's radio addresses on the United States during WWII. The television has had a similar effect and, today, the Internet is continuing to illustrate what happens when information becomes cheaper.

These information declines render some organizations unnecessary and change the ways that others function. Denominations are not immune from this phenomenon.

One result seems to be that as denominations are declining in their influence, certain effective individual churches seem to be increasing in the impact that they have on the visible church as a whole. Some have called these churches "Lighthouse Churches." It remains to be seen if denominations will be able to reconfigure in time to fully adapt to and take advantage of our new information situation.

Kent Shaffer of Church Relevance has posted a fascinating list of what he terms "The Top 22 Churches in America."

Shaffer culled this list by finding the 22 churches that made at least 5 of the following 7 lists:

Using these same lists, Shaffer's also compiled a list of over 250 churches in the US called Churches to Watch that are divided by state.

Care must be taken when examining such lists and Lighthouse Churches. Churches transform communities because of effective people of talent and character. It is easy to be distracted by the programs of Lighthouse Churches into thinking that a mere duplication of those programs will also duplicate results. We must avoid an inappropriate megachurch triumphalism that fails to recognize how absolutely foundational Spirit-filled and Spirit-gifted people are to megachurch program effectiveness. (We've elaborated on this here.)

That critical caution being expressed, we can nevertheless learn from such churches and see how they have optimized various people-systems for kingdom impact.

Related Articles or Posts:

image courtesy of Aleš Čerin @ stock.xchng

This post or article contains a link to Wikipedia, an open source online encyclopedia. Its articles can be edited by anyone at any time. For this reason, finding a link to a wikipedia article on emergesque indicates that at the time the link was added, I found that the article as it existed at that time was worthy of review or reference. However, because wikipedia articles are dynamic, care should be taken to verify information found in its articles.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Witherington on the "Jesus Family Tomb"

"You can tell things are coming unraveled when every Biblical archaeologist, save possibly one, interviewed either in the Discovery Channel special or in the hour long debate thereafter repudiates or is unpersuaded by the findings of the show. Both William Dever and Jonathan Reed were not merely dubious about the findings of the show. Reed actually called it archaeo-porn, the worst sort of misuse of archaeological evidence to support a tendentious theory that is so speculative it requires linking one weak hypothesis to another to another to reach a conclusion."

- link

On this topic also see

Erwin McManus on Mosaic and the Emerging Church

I had heard in the past that Erwin McManus had not associated himself with the ec. This confirms that.

"I must confess I was a bit apprehensive writing under the moniker of emerging church. There is so much baggage that comes with this term. This is not a term I have ever chosen for myself or Mosaic. Mosaic by the way is the community of faith I serve here in Los Angeles. Yet it seems everywhere I turn this is the designation that is placed on us.

So my disclaimer is that I don’t get anywhere near speaking on behalf of all of those who would identify themselves as emerging. On the other hand I will acknowledge that what is going on in L.A is different than what would be described as a modern church – even the innovative ones. Let me begin trying to help you know and understand our heart, who we are and why we do what we do."

- entire article - Erwin McManus in

Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Letter from Andrey Feuerverger - Key Statistician for "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" - to His Colleagues

Andrey Feuerverger, who is Professor of Statistics at the University of Toronto, and is the source for statistic that, in the words of the New York Times, "the odds that all six names would appear together in one tomb are 1 in 600", has written an email to his colleagues about that statistic.

Darrell Bock, who suggests that Feuerverger may be backing off earlier statements, quotes this section:

""It is not in the purview of statistics to conclude whether or not this tombsite is that of the New Testament family. Any such conclusion much more rightfully belongs to the purview of biblical historical scholars who are in a much better position to assess the assumptions entering into the computations. The role of statistics here is primarily to attempt to assess the odds of an equally (or more) `compelling' cluster of names arising purely by chance under certain random sampling assumptions and under certain historical assumptions. In this respect I now believe that I should not assert any conclusions connecting this tomb with any hypothetical one of the NT family" (emphasis mine [sns]).

On this topic also see

Scientific American: Says Scholar Whose Work Was Used in the Upcoming Jesus Tomb Documentary: "I am angry."

"In researching our special report on the upcoming Jesus Tomb documentary, fronted by James Cameron (of Titanic fame), I encountered more than a few angry scholars and archaeologists.

Of special note was Tal Ilan, whose Lexicon of Jewish Names was essential to the statistical calculation made by Andrey Feuerverger, the U. of Toronto professor of statistics and mathematics who is quoted in the documentary as saying that the odds that any family other than that of the historical Jesus family would have the same names as that family, and be buried in the Tomb the documentary covers, are 600 to 1. In other words, that number argues, the odds are slim that this isn't the tomb of Jesus.

You'd be forgiven for finding such claims far-fetched, and with the exception of the historian, James Tabor, who was consulted for the film, the professionals in the field appear to find these claims no less incredible.

In an interview I conducted this morning, the scholar Tal Ilan, without whose work these calculations would have been impossible, expressed outrage over the film and its use of her work--she's the source of the quotation in the headline of this post."

- see the entire post from the Scientific American

ht: Darrell Bock

On this topic also see

Viewer’s Guide to Jesus Tomb Special

Andreas Köstenberger, Professor of New Testament at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, has posted a Viewer's Guide to Jesus Tomb Special. The Discovery Channel program is scheduled to appear tonight at 9 PM ET/PT.

On this topic also see

Rick Mansfield on the March CBA Bible Rankings

Rick is into translations and I appreciate reading his commentary. Click here to read his thoughts on the March CBA Rankings of Bible Sales:

King James Version
various publishers
New International Version
various publishers
New Century Version
New King James Version
various publishers
New Living Translation
English Standard Version
Holman Christian Standard Bible
B&H Publishing Group
New American Standard Bible update
various publishers
The Message
Eugene Peterson, NavPress
Reina Valera 1960 (Spanish)
various publishers

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Darrell Bock Recommends Ted Koppel's Show on "The Jesus Family Tomb"

Darrell Bock of Dallas Theological Seminary recommends Ted Koppel's The Lost Tomb of Jesus: A Critical Look airing just after The Discovery Channel's The Lost Tomb of Jesus this coming Sunday night at 9 PM ET/PT. Bock comments on his blog,

"The investigative reporter and Jim Tabor are there along with others who do have challenged what they have done. Koppel does a great job moderating. The show is called The Lost Tomb of Jesus: A Critical Look. And it will be."

Bock also relays some of Jim Tabor's comments on the interaction.

On this topic also see

Friday, March 02, 2007

Dr. Craig L Blomberg Comments on "The Jesus Tomb"

I had been hoping that Dr. Craig L. Blomberg, Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary, would put something out on the Talpiot Tomb. I thought that he was one of the more sane and articulate voices during the heyday of the Da Vinci Code.

Dr. Blomberg has now published the helpful "Did They Really Find Jesus Bones?" on Denver's site.

On "The Jesus Family Tomb" also see

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Another Helpful Analysis of the "Jesus Tomb" Claims

This treatment is by Richard Bauckham, who is Professor of New Testament Studies and Bishop Wardlaw Professor at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

I've also added this article to The Talpiot Tomb Resource Page on

The Washington Post: "'Lost Tomb of Jesus' Claim Called a Stunt"

"Leading archaeologists in Israel and the United States yesterday denounced the purported discovery of the tomb of Jesus as a publicity stunt.

Scorn for the Discovery Channel's claim to have found the burial place of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and -- most explosively -- their possible son came not just from Christian scholars but also from Jewish and secular experts who said their judgments were unaffected by any desire to uphold Christian orthodoxy.

"I'm not a Christian. I'm not a believer. I don't have a dog in this fight," said William G. Dever, who has been excavating ancient sites in Israel for 50 years and is widely considered the dean of biblical archaeology among U.S. scholars. "I just think it's a shame the way this story is being hyped and manipulated.""

- entire Washington Post article

- "The Jesus Tomb" - A Call for Perspective

- Collected Articles and Information on "The Jesus Tomb"