In my ongoing effort to do anything but actually read my Bible, I notice in Leviticus 27 that the established temple price of an homer of barley is 50 shekels of silver.  And it really frustrates me when they do this: translate every word in the bible except the weights and measures.  Unless the number 50 is symbolic, I need to know some modern terminology to have any idea what they’re talking about.

So I did some research.  An homer is 59 gallons, 6.34 bushels for grain, or 1.87  barrels.  A shekel is .4 ounces. So the going rate for 6.34 bushels of barley at the time of Moses was 20 oz. silver.  An ounce of silver today is worth $19.04.  So roughly $400 for an homer of barley.

And for the record, $400 for 6.34 bushels of barley is a little high in today’s prices.  The wholesale price of barley is currently $174.82 for a metric ton.  That is to say $3.81 a bushel.  So an homer of barley today costs $24.13 – slightly less than $400.

This is to say that, in Moses’ time, either silver was much more plentiful than is now, or we have a lot more barley to go around than the Egyptians ever dreamed of.

Pet Peeve of the Day

I’ve been on a Textus Receptus kick lately, so I’ve been doing my Bible reading in the New King James, since it’s the only modern translation based on the TR.  I can’t quite make myself dig straight into thees and thous.  But today in my reading, I come across 2 Timothy 2:17:

And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort.

Really?  Cancer?  I’m having a hard time believing Paul knew much about the spreading of cancer.  Totally pulls me out of the text.  So now, I’m looking it up… KJV says, “canker,” which at least sounds more legit, and is possibly where the cancer thing came from.  My KJV has glosses from the Revised Standard Version for some reason, and the RSV says “gangrene”.

Now I’m on a mission.  New Living Translation says “cancer.” Wuest says “cancer.”  What is with these people? NIV says “gangrene,” a surprising relief.  New English Trans. says “gangrene”;  So does Young’s and Mounce’s. The Message says, “accumulate like poison,” because why not?

The Greek word is γάγγραινα, which means… gangrene.  Literally.  That’s all it means.  You can even make that out by looking at the shape of the Greek word. I have no idea what cankers or cancer has to do with it.  Gangrene spreads rapidly, has no incubation period, and isn’t limited to unsightly spots on your upper lip.  It has to be cut out immediately or the patient will die.  This is clearly the image that Paul was aiming at.  

And this is why I get frustrated with Bible translations and translators.  They need to just. translate. the text.  As much as possible, leave the interpretation to the reader.  If the original is vague, make your translation vague.  Because if you help me out, and I catch you, all it will do is undermine my confidence.


We switched to Summer PTs (physical training clothes) this week, so I ran all my stuff through the laundry and was preparing to pack it all away for the year. Then I got up this morning, and it was cold!  I saw snowmen spontaneously forming out of the wellsprings of the earth.  And then those snowmen turned to each other and complained about how cold it was.

The President’s New Clothes

Listening to Danny Kaye’s song The Emperor’s New Clothes, I’m imagining a modern version of the story. Due to a shortage of Emperors in our time, the ruler will have to be a president, and to make things safe, we’ll say that he’s the leader of a small nation with a wealth of natural resources, but little development.

In this new story, the hucksters will come selling a suit that is invisible, not to fools, but to bigots, racists, and other intolerant troglodytes. Everyone, not wanting to be called intolerant, will exclaim how amazing the suit is, except for the one little boy. At this point, though, nobody laughs at the president. Instead, we all come to a consensus that it is a terrible thing to have a nation so enlightened, and yet with one remaining intolerant person. A law is passed, the child is brought to court, and his family is fined out of house and home, and denied the right to practice their customary business.

The hucksters, of course, get honorary degrees, and a contract providing armor to the military.

Am I A Soldier of the Cross

Thanks to Charles Ingalls, I have a new favorite hymn:

Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His Name?

Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?

Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.

Thy saints in all this glorious war
Shall conquer, though they die;
They see the triumph from afar,
And seize it with their eye.

When that illustrious day shall rise,
And all Thine armies shine
In robes of victory through the skies,
The glory shall be Thine.

All I wish now is that I had a proper recording of it.

Also, I want to be like this guy:

Heroes and Villains

I just finished watching my free copy of The Incredibles, and I was thinking…

In a world where there are super villains, there will be super heroes. That’s just a scatterplot of the graph of ability and morality. But where there are no super powers, the villains will inevitably have a finger somewhere in government. The question is: where do the heroes go?

We Are Your Church

As we’ve been working through 1 Corinthians at church, our pastor has been pounding home just what it means to be the church – we are Christ’s body, God’s temple; if anyone destroys God’s temple, He will destroy them, etc – I’ve been reminded of a vision I once had. I went to look up the notes I’d written down, and discovered I had been a very bad writer indeed. So this is another attempt to say what I saw. (I say “vision” loosely. I had some pictures come to my mind as a kind of story. Those pictures have stayed with me over the years as a kind of tying together of some themes from scripture. They have been helpful for me to remember.) So:

I saw myself walking through a large mansion, with many floors and hallways stringing rooms in many directions, and I knew that this was the house that God was building, a temple not made by human hands. It was full of rooms, but not full of people, because every part of the house was made up of people – the foundation was Jesus Christ, and the walls and floors and ceilings were made up of the members of His church, each person tightly fitted to the next. The thing that struck me was that the house looked empty. The problem with a house made out of people is that there’s nobody in the house. Who is it for?

I saw that there was a steady flow of visitors to the house – people who were not part of the church. They would tour the rooms, see the architecture and the arrangement of the rooms, the fixtures, the lighting. For some it was like a tour of a museum, or a famous landmark – interesting, but not inspiring. And I thought to myself, that surely the house wasn’t meant for their benefit. Surely we are meant for something more than tourism! But there were others who were able to see more than that – something of God’s design for the world, a reflection of His glory. These people were overcome with awe at the splendor of what God was doing there., and they began giving themselves over to different rooms and walls until they laid down their lives completely and became a part of the building. And I saw that the house was intended for them, in the sense that they were brought there for the sake of the house.

Then I noticed that the air around me was flowing, not like the air of a fan, or the steady flow of a breeze, but the in and out of a bellows, or breathing. I looked around to see what was making the air flow like that, and I saw that the walls and floors were moving. The rooms were oddly shaped, with hardly any straight lines or regular angles, and the hallways connected everything in a kind of bewildering pattern. Each room was constantly changing. Some rooms were expanding and contracting, like giant lungs, which is what was causing the air to flow through the building. Some rooms were actively growing, dividing into new rooms, and changing function as the changed shape. Some rooms were even moving from one part of the house to another! Slowly it dawned on me that it wasn’t just the stones that were alive. The building as a whole was functioning as a living organism. The house itself was alive! Then I could see the house from the outside and saw that the building was slowly taking on the shape of a man, and I remembered what it says in Ephesians – “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man…”

Next, I saw that the entire house was shaken by a terrible earthquake. The ground shook with such force, that I was sure that the entire structure would be broken in half. Whole wings did collapse, and many rooms fell from a great height to be completely severed from the construction, but the building as a whole was not destroyed. However, the earthquake did start a fire that swept through every room, and it burned for a long time, because there was no system for fire suppression, and the rooms that had survived the earthquake were the ones that were most open to air movement throughout the building. When the dust had cleared and the fires had finally stopped, I saw that the house had changed dramatically. Instead of pristine, chiseled blocks, they were smoke blackened and scarred. Not one block was left untouched. They all had chips had broken off, and a network of cracks spidering through them. Dark ravine-like lines traveled the course of every block. The whole thing looked ready to crumble.

I was dismayed. It seemed completely pointless. What good was it to build a building with such character – a living building – only to subject it to earthquake and fire. There had been no attempt at all to protect the building from the dangers of natural disaster. In fact, it looked deliberate, which made the destruction of such value even more meaningless. Why would God do this to the living stones of His own dwelling place? It was awful! Then I heard a voice say,

But now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. (Heb 12:26-29)

Slowly, my perspective was pulled back from the building, and as my view expanded, I saw something different. The house was now covered in a tight network of statues. Every wall was bas-relief; every pillar was a pose. Every floor and ceiling was covered in mosaic. It was as if the earthquake was the last “ting!”, breaking the plaster off a cast iron mold. God was building a house for himself, for his dwelling, according to His glory, and He wasn’t concerned about the impression He made on people who couldn’t see the whole picture.