When did God cleanse Cornelius? The possible literary origins of Acts 10

In Acts 10 the apostle Peter is granted three visions of clean and unclean animals descending from heaven. A heavenly voice tells Peter to kill and eat these beasts. When the apostle objects to this violation of God's Law the heavenly voice responds "what God has cleansed (ἐκαθάρισεν), you must not consider polluted (κοίνου)" (Acts … Continue reading When did God cleanse Cornelius? The possible literary origins of Acts 10

Israel and the gospel of the kingdom

Two prophetic activities make up the bulk of the Gospel narratives. Jesus healed crowds of Jews in the countryside, in homes, and in synagogues, all while announcing the arrival of the kingdom through powers, teachings, and parables. Jesus debated priests, lawyers, scribes, and Pharisees concerning the Jewish scriptures wherever he met them; in Jerusalem, Galilee, … Continue reading Israel and the gospel of the kingdom

The Israelite origins of the Samaritans

My reading of the parable of the Good Samaritan, outlined here and here, depends largely on two factors. The first factor concerns the alleged inter-textual relationship between the parable and the story of the prophet Oded in 2 Chronicles 28. Does the parable actually invoke the Chronicler's story of the Judean captives and their merciful … Continue reading The Israelite origins of the Samaritans

More on the Good Samaritan: the humiliation of Israel’s shepherds

I argued last time that when read with the story of the prophet Oded in view (2 Chronicles 28), the parable of the Good Samaritan constitutes an indictment against Israel's religious establishment for failing to protect vulnerable members of the covenant community. According to Jesus, the priest, scribe, lawyer, and Pharisee have failed to love … Continue reading More on the Good Samaritan: the humiliation of Israel’s shepherds

The literary origins of the Good Samaritan: Oded and the priestly law of brotherly love

The Lukan parable of the Good Samaritan contains certain intriguing similarities with the obscure story of the prophet Oded in 2 Chronicles 28. As I hope to show here, the correct interpretation of Luke's parable lies in these similarities. We thus begin with Oded. According to the Chronicler, during the reign of king Ahaz Judah … Continue reading The literary origins of the Good Samaritan: Oded and the priestly law of brotherly love

The kingdom as divine judgement

The Kingdom and the kingdoms The precise definition of the kingdom of God continues to allude interpreters. Is it the church? Is it a state of mind? A spirit-led mode of living? Is it an earthly kingdom that comes at the end of history? All of the above? Support for each theory can be readily … Continue reading The kingdom as divine judgement

Justification by faith at the end of the age: another example from Galatians

Separation from Pagan Greeks I argued last time that Paul's doctrine of justification by faith rather than works of Law—regardless of what we think of the New Perspective on Paul—performed an essential social function: to separate communities that would inherit authority in the next age from communities that would inherit destruction at the coming of … Continue reading Justification by faith at the end of the age: another example from Galatians

Justification by faith: a seaworthy eschatological vessel

As is the case in many of his letters, Paul uses his opening words to the Galatian churches to summarize his message. But for a letter so devoted to the topic of justification by faith, Paul's introductory note rings a surprisingly apocalyptic tenor. More surprising still, neither faith nor justification is mentioned. Grace to you … Continue reading Justification by faith: a seaworthy eschatological vessel

Jesus’ solidarity with his disciples in the parable of the Sheep and the Goats

Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. (John 13:20) Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. // Whoever listens to you listens to Me; whoever rejects you rejects Me; and whoever rejects Me rejects … Continue reading Jesus’ solidarity with his disciples in the parable of the Sheep and the Goats

Brothers and Neighbors in Early Christianity part 4

We previously discussed the concept of brotherhood in earliest Christianity (1 2 3). We saw that conversion involved a transfer of one's fundamental identity. Individuals who were compelled by the message about Israel's God and His Son effectively betrayed their families, their peoples, and their gods and in the process gained a new family, a … Continue reading Brothers and Neighbors in Early Christianity part 4