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
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 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?
Behold, I have appointed you today over nations and kingdoms, so that you might uproot and undermine and destroy and rebuild and plant. (Jeremiah 1:10) Just before Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians in 586 BCE, God enlisted Jeremiah as his prophet. Jeremiah was to prophesy concerning all the peoples of the earth. He would decree … Continue reading The prophet like Jeremiah and the wrath to come
I've put together here a very incomplete list of common biblical terms. With the top bullets I try to replicate conventional theologically-oriented evangelical thinking and with the bottom bullets I reach out for a more historically-grounded understanding of these Biblical concepts. Old Testament Tells of the world's perfect creation and subsequent fall into sin; foreshadows … Continue reading A quick comparison of terms
Following the pattern set down by the New Testament writers themselves, Christians often speak of Jesus as the fulfillment and culmination of Old Testament covenant promises (cf. 2 Cor 1:20, Luke 24:27). While the precise meaning of such claims is sometimes difficult to ascertain, the consummation of God's promise to Abraham is usually prominent in … Continue reading What kind of blessings did the churches inherit from Israel?
A Christian fluke I'm currently watching a Great Courses lecture series entitled The Fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity with professor Kenneth W. Harl of Tulane University. Dr. Harl spends much of the course tracing the development of Christianity from a marginal and marginalized Jewish apocalyptic kerygma under the first Christians to … Continue reading Like a thief in the night: Constantine and the sudden death of paganism
A while ago I put forward the argument that Paul's apocalyptic eschatology was drawn primarily from the social and psychological needs of the marginalized Christian communities throughout the pagan empire. Paul's strange beliefs about the future apocalypse were in this way "functional" rather than speculative or mystical. The parousia and all its imaginative constituent parts … Continue reading So we will be with the Lord forever
Perhaps in part due to the popularity and success of non-violent liberators like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ghandi, we often assume that early Christian directives regarding love for enemies were motivated primarily by evangelistic concerns. That is, early Christians believed that some of their persecutors would reconsider their actions when confronted with unexpected … Continue reading Why did early Christians love their enemies?
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