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Bible Study Tools from Christianity.com

The good people at Christianity.com have me know that a beta version of their Bible Study tools is now available online at bible.christianity.com. Apparently you can customize your Bible, write notes, and highlight it with colors which means that some of my über-reformed friends can now create their own Red Letter Version of the Bible by highlighting the word of the Apostle Paul in RED.

On the negative, apart from not finding a Greek or Hebrew text of the Bible . . . [HINT HINT] . . . I had to wade through that familiar brown and burgundy colored interface with its soccer-mum-evangelical-driving-dodge-minivan to the precious-jesus-christian-bookstore vibe but hey . . . maybe that color palette will hit the right target group.

On the positive, Bible Study Tools is easy to use and FREE and its good to see NIV version as one of the 26 Bible translations on offer. The many daily devotional sites, including one for dieters, are handy but no RSS feeds to pop into your News Reader. Not yet, anyway. And did I say it was FREE?

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The Gospel According to Czechs

More emerging church people in the newspapers. This time a Bible translator and church planter. Listen to how this newspaper describes the birth of their first community . . .

"Soon enough, a group of bohemians and artists was meeting at Katka’s studio, rapidly converting to a Christianity that lacked denomination or doctrine — an ecumenical hodgepodge flecked with subversiveness in the waning days of communism . . .This impromptu collection grew into a congregation, though not without interference."
PP newspaper, last week

That could be a description of emerging church people anywhere in the world. But it happens to be a group in Prague, Czech Republic. Sasa Flek, the subject of this newspaper articl is a dear friend and we have just spent time with his family in the south of France. He used to translate the Scriptures out of the basement in our house in Prague. Now we are gone but the translation - both Old and New Testaments - are almost completed. Sasa just let me know that the last paragraph of that article was actually the opposite of what he was trying to say - it just came out wrong. So please don't jump on him.

SosbookSasa uses artwork in the individual printing of Bible books. His translation of Song of Songs uses Chagall's paintings. I wish there was similar creativity in the English language. Also, in 2002, Sasa began sending out sms devotionals from the Bible to people's phones. It quickly became a list of over 300 people and perhaps one of the first sms communities.

Sasa . .. you rock and its great to see you acknowledged in your home country.

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Net Bible is CopyLeft

NEW: NextBible (beta version) is an online learning environment connected with bible.org.

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Today I am putting the words of Jesus to be read against a Sigor Ros video and I am using the Word version (free download) of the Most Trustworthy Net Bible. I use the big black Net Bible at home for study (only $20 this month for non-leather) and I prefer to use the online version at Bible.org because I can quote it, print it, give it away without worry about copyright. As long as i don't sell it. You could say its about as copyleft as the Bible can get.

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Inerrancy: Who Let the Dogs Out?

If you have been meaning to get a handle on the issue of biblical inerrancy in a post-Enlightenment world, a window of opportunity has just opened. I mentioned yesterday that Dr Dan Wallace, under criticism of heresy from a commenter on the Pyromaniac blog, has published an excellent paper called "My Take on Inerrancy". In that response, Dan highlights the long journey towards his current beliefs and puts forward a position of inerrancy that is constructed differently than the Enlightenment inspired bumper sticker approach. His idea of inerrancy is:
- inductive rather than deductive
- dependent on Christ Himself as the starting point for inerrancy rather than modern assumptions that are superimposed on Scripture.
His position may not get him listed on the Fundie blogroll, but it will no doubt give them food for thought.

Related on Tallskinnykiwi:
Reinventing Jesus (review)
Dan Wallace on Truth and Text
My Cuzz's Bible (yes, Dan Wallace married my wife's cousin)
Visit of Dan Wallace in Prague

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Esther: 7 Parties and the Old Guy with a Mullet

This week is Stromness Shopping Week - probably the biggest week of the year for our little town. Tourists everywhere and a heavy schedule of events. Last year, on the last and great day of the Shopping Week, I preached on Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7). This year, having been asked again to preach [suckers for punishment], I will look at another week long party and the lady (Queen Vashti) who messed it up on the last day. Weird parallel.

So, this morning at Stromness Baptist Church, I will be retelling the Esther story, which is what the youth were learning during their CE camp this week. Esther is the little orphan girl who changed the course of history while sitting on a couch. Thanks to the wise advise of her mentor - the old guy with a mullet named Mordecai. Actually, he may have adopted the mullet after his rise to prominence, as did other Persian dignitaries.

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Mullets rock! This is me with my mullet wig last October in Nevada, USA, standing next to my wife whose dreadlocks are actually real. I will bring the wig along this morning for illustration, although Mordecai's mullet probably had ringlets (like dreadlocks) at the bottom. This is according to Mullet scholars Mark Larson and Barney Hoskyns in their classic book 'The Mullet: Hairstyle of the Gods' . . . a book given to me by Derek Chapman (standing next to me in photo) and from which i now quote:
"The Persians wore their hair shorter than the Assyrians, although if anything the bi-level effect of the Persian Mullet was even more pronounced, with the top consisting of tousled curls and the bottom fanning out across the shoulders in long braided ringlets."

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Esther, by John Everett Mallais

I count 7 parties in the book of Esther and we will look at all of them, one by one. The Kingdom of God is, like the feast of Purim, a time for feasting, joy, generosity and justice. I think it is also a time in this Post-christian Europe for the church to act like Esther and not Queen Vashti. I have mentioned this before a few years ago but will throw it out there again:

Vashti was the only wife.
Esther was one of the girls in the harem.

Vashti was a host.
Esther was a guest.

Vashti lived in safety.
Esther lived in danger

Vashti thew a private party for her selected friends.
Esther threw a public celebration for her people.

(but wait . . . there's more)

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Reinventing Jesus: About the Book

A book came in the mail for me to review. Reinventing Jesus: What the Da Vinci Code and Other Novel Speculations Don't Tell You, by J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, Daniel B. Wallace

I suppose reviewing books on the blogosphere is still in fashion . . even though we should probably be reviewing .PDF documents and significant blog entries. Imagine if the first books coming off Gutenberg's printing press were reviews of the latest SCROLLS . . . lame!!! . . . but I just read this book and want to give a word UP.

082542982X.01. Scmzzzzzzz So . . . about the book . . . An excellent book. A readable book. A perennial book with, unfortunately, a seasonal title. It deserves to be bought and read and stored and studied - with or without its current connection to Da Vinci Code and The Jesus Seminar. The book is an easy reading account of why and how we have the New Testament. These facts should be commonplace but its amazing how easy we forget and how stupid we look in the process.

Postmodern thinking, summed up by the extremist forms, gets the usual spanking but I resonate with the author's approach to truth-seeking through avoiding the two extremes of total despair and absolute certainty.

Bottom line: We can trust our Bibles. There is an "embarrassment of riches" to draw from and the minor differences between the 5,700 Greek texts are miniscule in numerical significance and do not affect any foundational doctrines, despite what Da Vinci Code tells you.

Self Disclosure: One of the authors, Dr. Daniel Wallace, is my cuzz. Or more accurately, he married my wife's cousin, Patti, and we are therefore in a familial contract to respect each other's work, so that potential family Christmas celebrations [which have yet to happen] may not be spoiled by two members of the extended family becoming embroiled over a theological dispute over 'dynamic equivalence' and Benjamin's theories of translatability.
Dan's a great guy, highly inteligent. . . intelligent . . . and he teaches New Testament Greek at some up-and-coming seminary in north Dallas [he..he..he]. As well as training the nation's spiritual leaders, Dan is also one of the guys who wrote my Bible [Dan was senior editor for The Net Bible] and when i read it i often think of him in a dank basement, slumped over the manuscripts, adding oil to his lamp and consulting crumbling books from authors long dead. In moments like these, I conveniently forget that Dan uses a Mac, and at one time, or so he told me in Prague, requested a 125 terrabyte laptop from Steve Jobs [no success on that one, btw].

btw - you may want to visit my blog buddies who are also reviewing this book:
[added later] Pryomanic Dan Phillips has perhaps the premier post and attracted some controversy.
Roger Overton at The A-Team would have liked to have seen more on gnosticism but still, he says the book "does a commendable job of making the scholarly discussions accessible and relevant to 'motivated laypersons' without dumbing down the material".
Justin Taylor commends it.
Dan Kimball (author of "The Emerging Church") liked it so much he did a 5 week series at his church and had one of the authors Dr James Sawyer come and teach.
Michael Kruse has the fullest review and gives 6 conclusions [hint . . go there next]
Stephen Shields calls it an "excellent and unique treatment".
ChristusNexus is keeping track of the reviews.
Mark D. Roberts gives it a thumbs up
Internet Monk Michael Spencer recommends this book "without reservation". But then he was given a bag of white castle cheeseburgers along with the book.
250Px-Whitecastlecheeseburgerbox
YUK! thats gross! Keep the burgers . . and I will keep the book.

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Africa Bible Commentary Launches Today

Email from Steve Knight (Knightopia)

"Hey Andrew, Well, I’ve officially left BGEA (http://www.billygraham.org/), and I’m now on staff with SIM (Serving In Mission) as their new International Communications Coordinator. I figured, what better way to be missional than to work for a missions organization, right? ;-)

Pic1-37Anyway, I’m writing to let you know about an exciting project that SIM has been involved with called the “Africa Bible Commentary”! It’s the first-ever complete commentary of the entire Bible written in Africa by African theologians for African pastors and practitioners. Of course, Zondervan is publishing and distributing it in the U.S., and Rick Warren and John Stott (among others) have given it rousing endorsements – so we’re hopeful it will gain an even broader, international audience."

Thanks Steve - Link at SIM. We will be expecting a sharp looking SIM website in the near future from you.

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Renewing Your Passion for The Bible

Renewthepassion
Mike at OneYearBibleBlog.com reminds us that the second half of the year has just begun and today is THE day to renew the passion for reading through your Bible in 2006. Well, yesterday was . . . actually. But thats OK. So if you started well but have recently let it go, why not get back into reading through your Bible day by day? And do it as a community of 2,707 people in 73 countries. Psalms has just started up again also so we get a second helping.

And Mike, thanks for your excellent images along the way.
Acts21Praise The Lord RumorsThe20Apostle20Paul20By20Rembrandt20Van20-1Acts20

What i do is drop the OneYearBibleBlog RSS feed into my NewsReader and place it at top of my list. That way i can see it and read it before i check anything else. I also hit the "columns" button on BibleGateway so that i can see all 4 passages at the same time, just in case i spot any patterns. you know . ..

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