May 2012

Adult stem cell research has been booming.  There are so many advances that it is hard to keep up.  Just recently researchers were able to take adult human skin cells, convert them back to an embryonic state, and then with a string of chemical cocktails convert them into heart cells that were capable of being transplanted into rats.  While not yet ready for human trials, this is a major milestone that may one day give real hope to those who have suffered heart attacks.


HT: Wesley J. Smith

The cover story for New York Magazine’s May 28th issue is titled “A Life Worth Ending.”  The author, Michael Wolff, “argues” for the voluntary euthanizing of the sick and elderly—not a rational argument, but an appeal to our emotions, our finances, and our hatred of being inconvenienced.   

Most of the article is taken up with the story of Wolff’s mother who is suffering from dementia, seizures, and a host of other debilitating health issues.  While no human could read his mother’s story without feeling a strong sense of compassion and empathy for both what his mother has endured as well as her family, his proposal is chilling: kill.  Here are some of the most provocative excerpts:


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The Israel Antiquities Authority just announced the discovery of a bulla (small clay stamp used for sealing documents) bearing the name of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. The bulla dates to the 8th or 7th century BC, roughly the same time Micah prophesied that the messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).  It is the only extra-biblical reference to Bethlehem, and one of only ~40 bulla to be discovered from the First Temple period. 

The tiny (1.5 cm) bulla has three lines of fragmented text in paleo-Hebrew:



לתב ים


English transliteration:

Bat Lechem

English translation:

“in the seventh

The third line only contains a single Hebrew letter, but it is speculated that it is the final letter in the Hebrew word melek, or “king.” Eli Shukron, the excavation’s director, thinks the bulla “belongs to the group of ‘fiscal’ bullae – administrative bullae used to seal tax shipments remitted to the taxation system of theKingdom ofJudah in the late eighth and seventh centuries BCE.” 

While some scholars immediately questioned the paleographic identification of“Bethlehem,” several have since retracted their arguments and agreed that it is indeed Bethlehem.   

A high resolution image is available here.

Gallupreleased the results of their annual abortion questionnaire yesterday.  Since 1995 they have been asking Americans whether they identify as “pro-life” or “pro-choice.”  When they asked the question in 1995, 56% of Americans considered themselves pro-choice and 33% pro-life.  In 2012 the situation is nearly reversed with 50% identifying as pro-life and 41% as pro-choice. 

Often in questionnaires about abortion people’s true positions get blurred by the legal vs. moral distinction.  For example, someone may be opposed to abortion morally, but think people should have a legal right to an abortion.  Such a person could rightly identify as either pro-choice or pro-life.  To truly gauge people’s views on abortion we need to separate the legal question from the moral question. Gallupdid just that, asking people what they thought of the morality of abortion, apart from whether or not they think it should be legal.  The result was 51% saying they thought abortion was morally wrong, while only 38% thought it was morally acceptable. 


In The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited Scot McKnight argues that the gospel being preached in evangelicalism today is a truncated or distorted version of the original.  Some think the gospel is justification by faith, while others identify it as the saving work of Christ.  However it is characterized, the gospel is understood to be all about personal salvation.  While that is surely part of it, the gospel is much more.[1]

McKnight argues that the gospel as preached in the NT consists of four elements:

  1. The story ofIsrael
  2. The story of Jesus
  3. The plan of salvation
  4. The method of persuasion

We cannot make sense of the method of persuasion apart from the plan of salvation, and we cannot make sense of the plan of salvation apart from the story of Jesus, and we can’t make sense of the story of Jesus apart from the story ofIsrael.  All four elements were integral to the preaching of the gospel in the early church.  


Daniel Wallace revealed some additional details regarding some early NT papyri manuscripts in a video interview with Michael Licona, one of which is the highly touted first century fragment of Mark. 

In a nutshell:

  • Number: There are 7 papyri manuscripts of the gospels and Paul’s letters
  • Size: All manuscripts are less than 1 leaf
  • Dates: 1 is probably 1st century, 4 from the 2nd century, and 2 that are probably 2nd century but could be dated to the 3rd century
  • NT Books represented:
    • 1 = Matthew
    • 1 = Mark (possibly 1st century)
    • 1 = Luke
    • 1 = Romans
    • 1 = First Corinthians
    • 2 = Hebrews

I can’t wait to find out more about the collection in 2013!

This marks my 1000th post since I started this blog in February 2006. Hopefully I have the tenacity for 1000 more!

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