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

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

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

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