Jerusalem witch trials: John’s magician of immortality

John's Gospel provides readers with an eschatological vision that is both peculiar and revolutionary. If the Synoptic Gospels evoke an eschatology of imminence, the Gospel of John evokes an eschatology of immanence. If in the Synoptic traditions God's kingdom arrives in power "before some standing here [should] taste death," in the Johannine tradition God's kingdom, … Continue reading Jerusalem witch trials: John’s magician of immortality

Resurrecting the persecuted body: The metamorphosis of Christian shame into Christian honor

A functional approach to early Christian apocalyptic rhetoric attempts to peer beyond the smoke and spectacle, to discover the true aims of the man behind the curtain. A functional approach asks What does it mean, practically speaking, for the Son of Man to appear like lightning in the sky? What does it mean, in concrete … Continue reading Resurrecting the persecuted body: The metamorphosis of Christian shame into Christian honor

God’s gospel among the Greeks: Paganism and the exhaustion of divine forbearance

The gospel as conceived of by traditional Christian theology is a divine savior myth of personal postmortem salvation. It is the news that through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of God's Son human beings can escape the fatal consequences of sin and live eternally in a heavenly world. Constructed in this way, so … Continue reading God’s gospel among the Greeks: Paganism and the exhaustion of divine forbearance

Father, send Lazarus!: Abraham’s son among Israel’s lost sheep

The Jesus of primitive Christianity—and indeed the Jesus of history—was a Jewish prophet sent to the children of Israel's Patriarchs. Much like Amos, Elijah, or John the Baptizer before him, Jesus operated within this particular religious framework as a member of the Hebrew prophetic caste. Accordingly, Jesus acted in a manner befitting the type: he … Continue reading Father, send Lazarus!: Abraham’s son among Israel’s lost sheep

Israel’s merciful physician: Recontextualizing the Parable of the Good Samaritan

*This post builds upon the literary connection between the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the story of the prophet Oded in 2 Chronicles 28. See my previous post here.* Jesus offered two primary images in order to explain and justify his hospitable pursuit of Israel's sinners. By inviting disreputable Jews to his celebratory suppers, … Continue reading Israel’s merciful physician: Recontextualizing the Parable of the Good Samaritan

Eden’s Serpent sans Satan: Protoevangelium as curse

In a previous series of posts I made the case that the biblical literature does not yet identify the Edenic serpent with the Satan figure of the fallen angel legend. The conflation of these myths—the fall of man (cf. Genesis 3), on the one hand, and the descent of the wicked angels (cf. Genesis 6:1-4), … Continue reading Eden’s Serpent sans Satan: Protoevangelium as curse

Promises and polygyny in ancient Israel

Powerful ancient Near Eastern men competed for commodities like livestock (e.g. cattle & sheep), draught animals (e.g. donkeys & horses), slaves, precious metals (e.g. gold and silver), and, of course, fertile land (cf. Genesis 13:2, 20:14, 30:34, Job 1:3, 1 Kings 10:14-29). It comes as little surprise, therefore, that the promise of just such a … Continue reading Promises and polygyny in ancient Israel

The Lord among lords: Christ’s imperial cult

Proponents of the early emergence of divine christology sometimes appeal to Paul's creedal formulation in 1 Corinthians 8:6. These interpreters maintain that the Apostle attests to the widespread acceptance of Christ's deity just two decades after the death of Jesus. For us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for … Continue reading The Lord among lords: Christ’s imperial cult

Jesus hates Edomites: the politics of divine displeasure

Christian theological models tend to personalize and sentimentalize the love of God. Within these frameworks divine love becomes personal in that it pursues individuals and sentimental in that it arouses emotional faculties. Christ's sacrificial death for sins, in turn, sustains this system by generating the personal and sentimental love that satisfies the introspective and existential … Continue reading Jesus hates Edomites: the politics of divine displeasure

God’s unfailing wrath: divine violence and the cruciform mirage

Biblical depictions of divine violence present an ethical problem for contemporary Christianity. For many Christians representations of the warrior God elicit feelings of discomfort and doubt. The prevailing cultural sentiment that violence, especially violence in the name of punishment and vengeance, is morally indefensible only adds to Christian disillusionment with their scriptures. In response to … Continue reading God’s unfailing wrath: divine violence and the cruciform mirage