Q Combinations 21: The big IF of Easter (from AE Housman & Eugène Burnand)

There is an emotional complexity to this wonderful painting by Swiss artist Eugène Burnand. I know very little about him, apart from the usual resort of Wikipedia. But he manages to capture a moment of almost frantic inquisitiveness, as Peter and his young, fellow-disciple John rush in the golden sunrise light to the burial garden. Their faces seem filled with anxiety, confusion, hope, wonder, and longing all at once. Hoping against hope, but fearing a con, or something worse? Could Mary Magdalene, first to visit the tomb, possibly have been right...?

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Breathing life into the dry bones of ancient Corinth: Witherington’s Week in the Life

It seems that everyone’s joined in the cross-over craze. Rock stars are writing ballets and operas, chick-lit writers are getting elected to Parliament, and now a NT scholar has turned novelist. The point about Witherington’s very enjoyable new book, A Week In The Life Of Corinth, though, is it that it is entirely in keeping with his primary profession of opening modern eyes to an ancient and alien past. This explains the narrative’s regular interruption by text boxes providing historical background (covering topics such as slavery, the client/patron relationship, gladiators, the Roman legal system and a potted history of Roman as opposed to Greek Corinth). (more…)

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A journey from Perga to the Lycus Valley

I had one day to sightsee in Turkey last week which was fabulous. I even came back a bit sunburnt (much to the chagrin of every rain-drenched colleague on my return). Quite fun to be able to say that I got a tan at Laodicea. So here are a few photographic highlights. For the full Flickr set, click here. Having been based in Antalya (ancient Attalia) had a chance to visit Perga and Aspendos (along the coast to the east), and then travelled inland to the north west to the Lycus Valley (where Hierapolis, Laodicea and Colossae are).

First a general map and few panoramas from the trip… Click on each image for a closer view. (more…)

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From Attalia, Paul sailed back to Antioch…

It is a privilege to spend time with friends in Antalya – right on the south Mediterranean coast of Turkey. (Incidentally, and quite interestingly, in Turkish, the Med is called ‘Akdeniz’ which means ‘the white sea’ in symmetry to ‘Karadeniz’ (The Black Sea) at the other end of the Bosphorus). And Antalya was of course the ancient port city of Attalia in the apostle Paul’s day. (more…)

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Death could not hold him: Easter, Hockney, and why Californians don’t really get the Spring

There’s really no need to fret about the timing of Easter being the result of the co-option of a pagan Spring festival (as some think is the case). So what, to be honest. And in fact, there is something entirely appropriate about this. Why? Because Spring is an almost magical time of year, when life bursts from the ground in verdant greens and brilliant yellows. Such a relief after the stark and bleak beauty or gloom of winter. Being an urbanite, it’s far too easy to forget the wonder of the seasons. But I’ll never forget how much I missed the seasons during our years 30 miles north of the Equator in Kampala.

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Love’s warnings and Picasso’s prophetic perception

Love is never abrasive, destructive or cruel. But it can sometimes be straight and difficult. It may even be unpalatable. But that is the nature of love-motivated truth. And for something or someone to be truly prophetic it must be both – loving truth and truthful love. I was struck by an anecdote about Picasso, as related by Martin Gayford to David Hockney, in his wonderful A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney. For it really got me thinking about what constitutes the truly prophetic, as did other elements of their conversation.

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John Stott: a man who resisted trying to gain the world…

This is not hero-worship. Not only did Uncle John loathe the very idea of it, it is never constructive or edifying to indulge in it. Worshipped heroes always disappoint, like any idol. Butit is not wrong to have our heroes: people we look up to, respect, seek to emulate. They are in perilously short supply in our world. It is about appreciating them, in spite of (and sometimes, because of) their foibles, eccentricities and flaws. There is something profoundly Christian about taking our heroes seriously.

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