newsviews.gif (3768 bytes)

Pastoral Bible Institute News

PBI News

Benjamin Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott, a reproduction of the original text of the New Testament with word-for-word English under each Greek word, was originally published in the nineteenth century. It is still widely used by Bible Students even though it is difficult to obtain one today. Now the pages of this book may be downloaded from our web site and printed with Adobe Acrobat. Simply log on to www.heraldmag.org, click on “Christian Literature” (the third oval down), then Emphatic Diaglott from the list of literature. The file is organized by books of the New Testament to make it easy to download only what you want.

World News

Religious

The official Communist Party-recognized bishop of Shanghai said that both China and the Vatican must compromise to normalize relations and end five decades of estrangement. China refuses to allow the pope to nominate bishops in China, as he does around the world. China ordered Catholics to sever ties with the Vatican in 1951 and demands that they worship only in the officially sanctioned church. Upon assuming the papacy in April, Pope Benedict XVI invited countries without official ties to the Vatican to work on forming them. China demands the Vatican first end relations with Taiwan, the self-governing island that Beijing claims as its territory. [A spokesman] said the Vatican was ready to do so, but not before China recognized its authority in religious matters.

—Associated Press, 6/23/2005

A gruesome video of Serbian paramilitaries massacring Muslim boys and men in Bosnia in 1995, shown on Serbian television, has led to the arrest of some of the apparent murderers. The video, part of the evidence in the trial of former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, shows paramilitaries being blessed by a Serbian Orthodox priest immediately before torturing and killing truckloads of Bosnian Muslims. Some 8,000 people died in the Srebrenica massacre.

—The Week, 6/24/2005

The Covington [Kentucky] Diocese said Friday that it had agreed to pay as much as $120 million to alleged victims of child molestation. The diocese said it would put up church real estate, including its retreat center, and other investments to raise $40 million. The remaining $80 million would be paid by its insurance carriers. The diocese said it would sue its insurance carriers, if necessary, to get them to pay. The announcement was another reminder of the ongoing fallout of what many in the American Catholic Church have called the worst crisis in its history.

—Los Angeles Times, 6/4/2005

Six years after Kansas ignited a national debate over the teaching of evolution, the state is poised to push through new science standards requiring that Darwin’s theory be challenged in the classroom. In the first of three daylong hearings being referred to here as a direct descendant of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial in Tennessee, a parade of Ph.D.’s testified about the flaws they saw in mainstream science’s explanation of the origins of life. If the board adopts the new standards, as expected, in June, Kansas would join Ohio, which took a similar step in 2002, in mandating students be taught that there is controversy over evolution.

—New York Times, 5/6/2005

Social

More than a million Americans are believed to be living with the virus that causes AIDS, the government said in a report that reflects both a victory and a failure at combating the disease. While better medicines are keeping more people with HIV alive, government health officials have failed to “break the back” of the AIDS epidemic by their stated goal of 2005. This is believed to be the first time the 1-million mark has been passed since the height of the epidemic in the 1980s.

—Associated Press, 6/13/2005

World experts in influenza warn that despite stepped-up disease monitoring and research, the world is far from prepared to cope with a possible pandemic of avian flu that is mutating in Southeast Asia. Experts worry that avian flu, which is highly lethal to humans but usually requires contact with sick birds, could mutate to a form easily transmitted from person to person. Albert Osterhaus at the ­National Influenza Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, warned that the avian virus could affect 20% of  the world’s 6.5 billion people, putting 30 million in the hospital and killing 7.5 million. Dr. Oster­holm put the potential toll higher, arguing that a pandemic could rival the 1918 flu, which killed at least 50 million people. A boom in people and poultry living together in Asia has given the ­virus room to grow.

—Nature, 5/26/2005

Five months after the Asian tsunami disaster many hundreds of containers of aid are stranded at ports in Indonesia and Sri Lanka because of bureaucratic bungling and missing paperwork. As many as 500 containers, equivalent to a quarter of all aid shipped to Sri Lanka after the tragedy, are on the dock­side in Colombo. In Indonesia 1,500 containers are stacked at the Sumatran port of Medan, according to customs records, with 599 of the units unclaimed or needing import permits. Aid groups say unclear rules on duties, lack of available warehousing and a requirement that every container be unloaded and ­inspected by navy officers have led to the dockside pile-up.

—Financial Times, 5/12/2005

Can acupuncture cure a migraine? In a study of 300 patients, reported in Journal of the American Medical Association, the ancient remedy did bring some relief. But pins stuck at random did just as well.

—TIME, 5/16/2005

Political

French voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposed European Union constitution, dealing a potentially crippling blow to efforts to strengthen the European central government. The constitution aims to make the E.U. more of an international force by concentrating authority in a strong presidency, and by giving the central government in Brussels the power to set foreign policy. Nine countries have already ratified the document, but it won’t take effect unless all 25 E.U. members do so.

—The Week, 6/10/2005

The U.S. State Department has cited 14 countries, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, for failing to take adequate steps to combat human trafficking. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said as many as 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year, and millions more are trafficked within various countries. She said trafficking, for sexual exploitation, forced labor and other forms of servitude, is nothing less than a modern form of slavery.

—Voice of America, 6/3/2005

President George Bush told Lithuanian TV in an ­interview that Belarus was the “last remaining dictatorship in Europe” and that the United States would work with countries in the region to ensure the next elections in the former Soviet republic are free. Belarus has been ruled for 11 years by authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko. The next elections are scheduled for 2006.

—-Associated Press, 5/6/2005

“Amnesty International doesn’t examine Hamas, only Israel. It ignores violations by terrorist organizations. We find the unfortunate situation that somehow there’s no difference between terrorists targeting civilians and democratic countries targeting terrorists. In a fear [terrorist] society, there are no violations of human rights because human rights just don’t exist. All citizens are deprived of those rights.”

—Natan Sharansky, TIME, 6/6/2005

Morale in the American military is being hit by falling recruitment. Major-General Michael Rochelle, of the Army Recruiting Command, said that the military was facing the toughest recruitment climate of the all-volunteer era. The draft was suspended in 1973, amid the turmoil of the Vietnam War. The army has missed its targets in 2005, falling short by 42 per cent through April. “It is not a bright picture,” General Rochelle said. The military is already said to be overstretched by its commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

—www.timesonline.co.uk, 5/14/2005

Human rights activists, churches, unions and opposition groups have unanimously condemned [Zimbabwe’s 81-year-old President Robert Mugabe’s] “clean-up” as a brutal crackdown on the urban poor to punish them for voting against the government in the 31 March elections. In a matter of days, the campaign has seen the destruction of street markets and the mass arrest of traders; the demolition of shanty towns and the collapse of the informal economy upon which millions of the country’s poor rely. Only 800,000 from a population of 12 million have formal employment. Police continued to drive out residents of at least one of [the capital’s] poorest townships and the mass arrests, said to top 30,000, continue unabated. According to UN ­estimates, at least 200,000 people have been made homeless and that follows a warning from the World Food Programme that Zimbabwe faces a “humanitarian crisis” with four million people at risk of famine.

—The Independent (UK) web site, 6/10/2005

Financial

Across Russia, the resurgence of Russian officialdom is crushing entrepreneurs who run afoul of local government. They can be targeted with tax audits, punitive fines and intrusive inspections. Some are forced to close. Since coming to power in 2000, Russian president Vladimir Putin has gradually weakened Russia’s fledgling democratic institutions by muzzling the media, stacking parliament with pro-Kremlin parties and abolishing gubernatorial elections. “The Bureaucracy’s staging a comeback,” said Arkady Dvorkovic, a senior economic aide to Mr. Putin. In a recent poll by Russia’s national small-business association, Opora, entrepreneurs said they were more likely to fall victim to illegal actions by officials and policemen than by criminals.

—Wall Street Journal, 4/27/2005

Global military spending in 2004 surpassed $1 trillion for the first time since the Cold War, with the United States accounting for nearly half the total, said a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The report said the $1.035 trillion total might be too low because countries are increasingly outsourcing services related to armed conflicts, such as training and some functions in combat zones, without classifying them as military expenditures.

—Los Angeles Times, 6/8/2005

The number of millionaires in the U.S. increased to a record in 2004, boosted by gains in stocks and global financial markets. The number of U.S. households with a net worth of $1 million or more, excluding their home, rose 21% according to a survey by the Spectrem Group, a wealth research firm in Chicago. It’s the largest increase since 1998. There now are 7.5 million millionaire households in the U.S. The number of households in the U.S. with liquid assets of $20 million or more is increasing by 3,000 households a year. Millionaire households in the U.S. controlled more than $11 trillion in assets in 2004, according to Boston Consulting.

—Wall Street Journal, 5/25/2005

Princeton University geologist Kenneth S. Deffeyes is one of many experts who predict “a permanent state of oil shortage” beginning in about 2010. Major oil-consuming countries will experience crippling inflation, unemployment and economic instability. They believe that it will take a decade or more before conservation measures and new technologies can bridge the gap between supply and demand. There are many, however, who doubt the doomsday scenario will ever come true. Industry analysts think production will continue growing for at least another 30 years and peak at somewhere around 65 billion barrels per year. By then, substitute energy sources will be available to ease the transition into a post-petroleum age.

—Associated Press, 5/24/2005

A new generation of drugs is revolutionizing cancer care, but at a staggering expense. By next year, global spending on cancer drugs will total $31.7 billion, up from $22.3 billion in 2004, according to projections by consulting firm Bain & Co. The new drugs specifically target cancer cells, unlike chemotherapy, which also attacks healthy tissue. “Can Society Afford State-of-the-Art Cancer Care?” is the title of a seminar at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Orlando, Florida.

—Los Angeles Times, 5/14/2005

A bankruptcy court’s decision to permit United Airlines to default on [its] underfunded pension plans means that responsibility for the pensions of 120,000 workers and retirees now falls on the federal government in the form of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp (PBGC). But the PBGC itself is in financial hot water, with obligations that currently exceed its assets by $23.3 billion. If United’s default creates a domino effect in the rest of the industry, the taxpayer bailout could grow to north of $40 billion for the airline sector alone. At the close of 2004, the PBGC figured its “reasonably possible exposure” at $96 billion. That’s the estimated amount of under funding in pension plans sponsored by junk-rated companies.

—Wall Street Journal, 5/12/2005

Finance ministers from the Group of Eight industrialized nations agreed to a historic deal canceling at least $40 billion worth of debt owed by the world’s poorest nations. Britain Treasury chief Gordon Brown said 18 countries, many in sub-Saharan ­Africa, will benefit immediately from the deal to scrap 100 percent of the debt they owe to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank. Nations in sub-Saharan Africa alone owe some $68 billion to international bodies.

—Associated Press, 6/11/2005

Israel

The Dead Sea, one of the world’s cultural and ecological treasures, is dying. In the past 50 years, the water level has dropped more than 80 feet and the sea has shrunk by more than a third, largely because the Jordan River has gone dry. In the next 20 years, the sea is expected to fall at least 60 more feet, and experts say that nothing will stop it. The receding waters have left vast mud flats with hundreds of sinkholes that threaten to collapse roads and buildings and have led to a development freeze on Israel’s side of the sea, which lies on the border with Jordan. The main problem, experts agree, is that most of the water that once flowed into the sea is being diverted for drinking water and agriculture.

—Winston-Salem Journal, 5/20/20005

Russian President Vladimir Putin embarked on the first ever visit by a Kremlin leader to the Jewish state in a historic bid to cement improving relations after decades of Soviet-era strain. “There will be difficult moments,” said Alexander Shumilin director of a Mideast analysis center at Moscow’s USA and Canada Institute. He called the visit “part of an effort to create a new profile for Russia around the world, and particularly in the Middle East.” The volume of trade between Russia and Israel has reached above US$1 billion annually.

—Fox News, 4/27/2005

Central Bureau of Statistics figures released in June shows a 27 percent increase in tourism to Israel during the first five months of the year, documenting 709,000 visitors between January-May 2005. 172,000 tourists visited during May, representing the highest tourist month since August 2004, and topping April’s Passover tourist boom during which time 163,000 tourist visits were recorded

—Arutz-7, 6/22/2005

About 110,000 Israelis still live on kibbutzim, down from a peak of 125,000 in 1990. But the socialist dream now seems to be nearing an end, as the 270-odd kibbutzim open their doors to a creeping phenomenon known as privatization. The roots of the changes are economic, says Professor Shlomo Getz, a kibbutz specialist at Haifa University, but they also reflect a shift away from socialist values and toward greater materialism and individualism in Israeli society. “It’s the end of an era,” Prof. Getz says.

—Wall Street Journal, 5/26/2005

Book Review

The Brother of Jesus and the Lost Teachings of Christianity, Jeffrey J. Butz. Inner Traditions, Rochester, Vermont. 2005. 193 pages.

The lack of detail about Jesus’ earthly family beyond Mary and Joseph has provided opportunity for great speculation in stories and movies about Jesus and his family life. For example, Joseph, the putative father of Jesus, is not mentioned in Scripture beyond the time of Jesus’ bar mitzvah in the temple at age twelve. Thus many speculate that Joseph must have died in the period between that temple event and Jesus’ appearance at Jordan at age thirty.

Recently the discovery of an ancient Jewish ossuary that bore the inscription, “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” has renewed interest in the subject of Jesus’ earthly family. Although the authenticity of the ossuary is suspect, the interest in the family of Jesus has not waned.

The Scriptures do not give much detail about ­Jesus’ earthly siblings, but there are references to them in every gospel (see Matthew 12:46-47; Mark 3:31-32; Luke 8:19-20; John 2:12; Acts 1:14). “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” (Mark 6:3).

Because of this lack of detail, firm conclusions about the personage of James are difficult. For example, Roman Catholic scholars claim James was a child from a previous marriage of Joseph, or was a cousin, to support the concept of Mary’s perpetual virginity. Some students of the Bible believe James was Jesus’ relative, but not his half-brother. Some believe James was an apostle, was always a believer, and not someone who appears suddenly in Acts and becomes the leader of the Church at Jerusalem. Others believe James was the half-brother of Jesus (Galatians 1:19), became a follower sometime following Jesus’ death and resurrection, and subsequently penned the canonical book in the New Testament bearing his name.

Butz argues for this last position. The perplexity caused by the prominence of James at the Jerusalem conference in Acts 15 gives us enough reason to open our minds to explore who James was, and how he may have risen to such a prominent role in the early Jerusalem church. Thus Butz’s treatise which is based on the gospels, the book of Acts, and the citations of the early church writers, is worth considering. One cannot, however, fully subscribe to his position that the differences between the early Jewish leaders and Gentile converts detailed in Acts and Galatians were indications of bitter battles that existed between Paul and James for ideological supremacy in the early church.

—Len Griehs