Last days in Jerusalem: The unfortunate eschatological sin of Ananias and Sapphira

Most readers have little trouble identifying the deceptive deed committed by Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11). According to the popular reading, this Christian couple sought to obtain prestige among the apostles through an act of extraordinary and costly generosity—freely relinquishing the entirety of their property and its value for the good of the church—while at … Continue reading Last days in Jerusalem: The unfortunate eschatological sin of Ananias and Sapphira

The word made flesh: An early daimonic christology

Nearly all interpreters take it for granted that the incarnational logos poem contained in John 1:1-18 assumes the virginal conception of Jesus that is presented by Matthew and Luke in their redactions of the Gospel of Mark. The Johannine Word becomes flesh, in this case, when the Synoptic Mary conceives a divine son by God's … Continue reading The word made flesh: An early daimonic christology

Before men fell: Corporate sin in Paul

The logic of the Gospel, traditionally understood, proceeds from Adam's seminal act of disobedience (i.e. the myth of original sin) to Christ's seminal act of obedience (i.e. the myth of the divine savior). Accordingly, the transgression of primordial man, so it is presumed, consigned all subsequent men not just to mortality and toil, as the … Continue reading Before men fell: Corporate sin in Paul

Nations in the hands of an angry God: The political origins of Original Sin

Most readers of the New Testament interpret its texts along individualistic and soteriological lines—assuming, as it were, that Christianity advances a particular system of personal postmortem salvation; the scriptures functioning as a kind of intimate roadmap from sin, through death, into eternal life. The individual reader (i.e. sinner) must therefore decide whether to accept or … Continue reading Nations in the hands of an angry God: The political origins of Original Sin

The temple at time’s end: An insufficient apocalypse

Theological treasures & Apocalyptic thieves The delay of Christ's seemingly-imminent return imperils the whole of the Christian theological project. Indeed, the divine savior myth and all its concomitant parts depend upon the accuracy of Christ, his apostles, and their scriptures. Matters of eschatology are particularly vulnerable in this regard: If Jesus, Paul, and John prophesied … Continue reading The temple at time’s end: An insufficient apocalypse

The Son of Man returns: Messianic expectations in the Apocalypse of Ezra

The Jewish Apocalypse of Ezra (also known as 4 Ezra) was written by an anonymous prophet in the wake of Israel's disastrous war with Rome—a theo-political rebellion that culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem's second temple. Around the time of much of the New Testament's composition, this Jewish seer took up the mantle and persona … Continue reading The Son of Man returns: Messianic expectations in the Apocalypse of Ezra

Budgeting for the end: Christ’s eschatological economics

Christians typically organize Jesus' sayings on money and property in accordance with one of two models. One of these models attributes to Jesus socialistic aspirations. In this framing Jesus rails against the rich as the defender of the poor and as the prophet who calls into being a more equitable society and a more just … Continue reading Budgeting for the end: Christ’s eschatological economics

Fire-taming child: The power of miracles in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas

The Infancy Gospel of Thomas is an anonymous1 biographical work concerning the childhood of Jesus. It is usually dated to some time in the 2nd century. Much like the Elijah-Elisha cycle or the Johannine Sign Source, the Infancy Gospel of Thomas is a collection of discrete miracle folktales interwoven with controversy stories in which the … Continue reading Fire-taming child: The power of miracles in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas

The inimitable Christ: Christian ethics before and after the apocalypse

A conflict of visions Two competing moral visions dominate the modern Christian mind: the patriarchal vision and the egalitarian vision. Patriarchalism The patriarchal vision seeks to maintain certain socio-political inequalities so as to preserve the national identity—understood to be both primordial and immutable. In this task fathers, husbands, and men generally are divinely-appointed to rule … Continue reading The inimitable Christ: Christian ethics before and after the apocalypse

God’s king is a king: The politics of divine kingship

Modern Christians typically resist the idea that Christ is an "earthly" king like other "earthly" kings—a king like David, Ahab, or Jehu. Instead, the Christ of popular Christian conception is a "heavenly" or "spiritual" king, a king who reigns over the hearts of his (voluntary) subjects and over creation as a kind of cosmic sustainer. … Continue reading God’s king is a king: The politics of divine kingship