In a comment on my post Did Christ strike the serpent's head, my friend abondarenko01 questioned my claim that the Leviathan myth could generate the link between Satan and snakes in early Christian texts like Luke 10:19, Romans 16:20, Mark 16:18, Acts 28:3-6, and 1 Corinthians 15:32. He notes that while Leviathan is an aquatic … Continue reading Putting Satan in his historical-political place
The Lord God said to the serpent, 'Because you have done this... I will put hostility between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring; her offspring will attack your head, and you will attack her offspring's heel.' (Genesis 3:15 NET) Christians have classically identified Genesis 3:15 as the Protoevangelium, the first announcement … Continue reading Did Christ strike the serpent’s head?
The great theological traditions by whose lights we read the Bible tend to prioritize the spiritual and the heavenly over and against the physical and the earthly. Such traditions often distort the Bible's more syncretic picture of the spiritual and physical realms in their commitment to these supposedly higher priorities. Desiring to find Christ's sacrificial … Continue reading What function does the forgiveness of sins serve?
The Gospels convey two types of information to readers: intentional information and unintentional information. Much of what we know about Jesus is represented by this first type; the evangelists intended to inform us that Jesus was a powerful teacher, an awesome wonderworker, and an obedient son. This is biased information but it is still information. … Continue reading Jesus: angel summoner?
Mary did you know? The Matthean and Lukan infancy stories are the dominant sources for our traditional understanding of Jesus' familial relations. Based on their testimony, we tend to picture the holy family as a harmonious unit; as a family supportive of their son's prophetic and messianic vocation from the very beginning. With the opening … Continue reading Jesus’ family reconsidered
Welcome to the Biblical Studies Carnival and happy new year! I have the privilege of rounding up some of my favorite Bible-related posts and publications from the month of December. Although it took some work, the hosting the Carnival makes me appreciate all the more the blood, sweat, and tears that go into continuing the … Continue reading Biblical Studies Carnival #167: December 2019
The gospel of the kingdom and the doctrine of the atonement According to the theological models that dominate Christian thought, Jesus came to die as a sacrifice for sin. Although he performed deeds of power, taught concerning the kingdom, and debated issues of Torah observance, such actions were ultimately subordinate to his true mission: to … Continue reading My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Making sense of Jesus’ death
In the post Was Jesus tempted in every way? I examined Jesus' example as it pertained to the temptations and trials faced by early Christians. I asked: In what ways was Jesus' sinless triumph over temptation relevant to the New Testament writers and their readers? I argued that just as Jesus was tempted to repudiate … Continue reading As I have loved you: Christ’s other example to the churches
Mark leaves a curious note in his telling of Jesus' sea crossing that has left interpreters puzzled. Though seemingly uncharacteristic of Jesus, the evangelist writes that he "desired to pass by" his swamped disciples (ἤθελεν παρελθεῖν αὐτούς) (Mark 6:48). For many readers this is troubling. Why would Jesus desire to pass by his helpless friends … Continue reading Theophany at sea or apathetic Jesus?
Last time I looked at the ways early Christians conceptualized Christ's example as one who was tempted but without sin. I considered whether the first Christians were interested in Christ's example in a comprehensive sense, or whether their emulation of him fit within a more specific context. I concluded that Christians were more interested in … Continue reading How and why did Satan tempt early Christians?