Inverted sonship: Jesus as prodigal son

Food, sonship, & rebellion The Jewish scriptures associate rebellion against parents with excessive eating and drinking. Deuteronomy 21:18-21 is the seminal text in this regard. There, the "stubborn and rebellious son" is brought before the elders of the town where, prior to being stoned, he is accused of "drunkenness" (οἰνοφλυγέω) and revelrous "gluttony" (συνβολοκοπέω) (21:20, cf. … Continue reading Inverted sonship: Jesus as prodigal son

A world wiped away by wrath and time: Noah in early Christian imagination

Although early Christian literature rarely alludes to the story of Noah and the destruction of his antediluvian world, interpreters should not discount the singular hermeneutical importance of Noah's tale for the first Christians. The Flood myth provided the primitive churches with an invaluable narrative framework through which Christian identities were shaped, Christian experiences were rationalized, … Continue reading A world wiped away by wrath and time: Noah in early Christian imagination

Is the Resurrection a proof of Jesus’ deity?

Christians generally regard Jesus' resurrection as a Christological sign, as a marker of his deity. By rising from the dead, Jesus disclosed his true identity, not as some condemned preacher from Nazareth, but as the God of Israel, the only one capable of overwhelming death with life. Now recognized as God, believers turn to this … Continue reading Is the Resurrection a proof of Jesus’ deity?

From prophet to king: how and why Jesus laid claim to David’s throne

In my last post I argued that Jesus initially presented himself as a spirit-anointed prophet rather than as a spirit-anointed king (i.e. the Messiah). The following lines supported this conclusion. Most people thought Jesus was, or at least claimed to be, a spirit-possessed prophet (Mark 6:15, 14:65, Matthew 21:11, Luke 7:16; 39, 24:19, John 4:19, … Continue reading From prophet to king: how and why Jesus laid claim to David’s throne

The prophet returns: Jesus as Elijah redivivus

As the first traditions about Jesus were disseminated through word of mouth and in written documents, they were refracted through a number of interpretive lenses. One such lens was the spiritual experience of the faithful community. Among these first believers, the same Jesus who had been crucified was alive, teaching and working in and as … Continue reading The prophet returns: Jesus as Elijah redivivus

The return of the living dead: the purpose of resurrection in the second temple period

At its core, Jewish apocalypticism represents a form of political protest and historical interpretation. It is not, in the first place, concerned with the heavenly afterlife, fantastical beasts, natural catastrophes, or the collapse of space and time. Looks, in this case, can be deceiving. Instead, as I've argued often, underneath the otherworldly spectacle of Jewish … Continue reading The return of the living dead: the purpose of resurrection in the second temple period

Jesus, fiend of sinners

The prophets of Biblical legend functioned as conduits of divine energy and might. They conducted God's power, whether that power was to save or to destroy. Moses tore open the waters for Israel but shut them upon their pursuers. Elijah multiplied oil and meal to sustain the lives of his friends but called forth fire … Continue reading Jesus, fiend of sinners

How Jesus became God’s holy spirit

In accordance with their Jewish scriptures, Jesus and his first followers usually identified the spirit that moved among them as the holy spirit of the Lord God, the spirit of Israel's Father. Although Christians came to understand this spirit as mediated through Jesus in some sense (cf. Mark 1:8, Acts 2:33, John 14:26, 20:22, 1 … Continue reading How Jesus became God’s holy spirit

Nazareth witch trials: the problem of the returning spirit

When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through arid regions looking for a resting place, but it finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings along … Continue reading Nazareth witch trials: the problem of the returning spirit