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

When demoniacs win: The triumph of Christ’s apocalyptic spirit

The apocalyptic imagination that emerged in Judea during the Greek and Roman periods represents a unique socio-religious response to feelings of discontent and resentment engendered by pagan political hegemony. Unable to integrate the Jewish cult into the pagan imperial system,1 an atmosphere of mutual antagonism descended upon colonized Israel. Just as a viral infection prompts … Continue reading When demoniacs win: The triumph of Christ’s apocalyptic spirit

My king upon Zion: Jesus’ triumphal entry into the Temple

The Synoptic Gospels relate that Jesus engaged in a violent prophetic sign-act in the Jerusalem Temple on the week of his death. Knocking over tables, upsetting animals, and scourging the money-changers, Jesus signaled the imminent demolition of Israel's sanctuary by Roman armies (cf. John 2:19, Mark 13:1-2, 11:12-14). Indeed, at his trial and execution Jesus' … Continue reading My king upon Zion: Jesus’ triumphal entry into the Temple

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