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What are we? Where do we come from? Why are we here?
Category: Member Blogs
Tags: What are we? Where do we come from? Why are we here?

Just a thought for those who believe evolutionary explanations of religion are irrelevant, or even threatening, for theology.

To the extent that we do not know the circumstances of origin and the original functions of religion, we do not understand our symbols, myths, and rituals.

(Philip Hefner, The Human Factor, p. 159)

Metcalfe's Law.
Category: Member Blogs

"Metcalfe's Law." It states that the complexity of a network is a square of the number of end points. Network designers wrestle with this problem daily.

From a communications and/or conflict resolution perspective, Metcalfe's Law is informative. As the audience (network end points) is enlarged through social media, the complexity becomes extraordinary. And at some point, it crashes into chaos.

That may be happening here. If it does, it will be familiar and sad.

Because any network end point (node aka human) can itself have "N" number of connections, it becomes very difficult to model the universe of actors and observers. Without a form communications process, you don't know precisely who has said what to whom, when, or where. Message integrity gets fragmented (think of the game "Telephone") and respondent or observer perspective gets rapidly impacted by reacting to incomplete information.

So just start with the numbers that are known: eight dissident faculty members, a dean, six members of the Board, another ten administrators impacted by the showdown, and one hundred students. Add it up and you have at the core 125 end points in this affected community. The square of 125 is 15, 625 possible intersections between 125 people—15,625 possible different points of view.

Now, if each of these parties speak with just three people, the network grows to include 375 people. Square that and we're at 140,625 possible conversations and points of view. Try to put a bow around that mess.

If it makes the front section of a newspaper or even page two of a blog or Twitter feed, the network could grow by a factor of 10 to 3750 people and now the complexity is rated at 14,062,500 possible interactions.

Read more:

Handbook for the Study of the Historical Jesus (Brill – New!)
Category: Member Blogs
Tags: Jesus

Tom Holmen and Stan Porter have edited a four-volume series with Brill, Handbook for the Study of the Historical Jesus (a total cost of $1329!). While none of us can ever afford to buy this, I will torture you with some attractive essay titles:

Volume 1:

“How to Marginalize the Traditional Criteria of Authenticity” (Dale Allison)

“The Historical Jesus: How to Ask Questions and Remain Inquisitive” (Charlesworth)

“Remembering Jesus: How the Quest of the HJ Lost its Way” (Dunn)

“From the Messiah Teacher to the Gospels of Jesus Christ” (Riesner)

“Historical Skepticism and the Criteria of Jesus Research: My Attempt to leap Over Lessing’s Ugly Wide Ditch” (Theissen)


“The Parable of the Goose and the Mirror: Historical Jesus Research in the Theological Discipline” (McKnight)

“Jesus and the Scriptures of Israel” (Moyise)
“Jesus and the Partings of the Ways” (Bird)

“Prophet, Sage, Healer, Messiah, and Martyr: Types and Identities of Jesus” (Evans)

“The Context of Jesus: Jewish and/or Hellenistic?” (Porter)


“Jesus Tradition in the Gospel of John (Moody Smith)

“The Birth of Jesus” (France)

“The Death of Jesus” (Green)

“Jesus and God” (M.M. Thompson)


“Riddles, Wit, and Wisdom” (Thatcher)

“Words of Jesus in Paul: On the Theology and Praxis of the Jesus Tradition” (Pokorny)

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