A tale of three strong men: Satan, Babylon, and Rome On a few occasions Jesus attempts to clarify what his exorcistic ministry really means. On one of those occasions he claims the expulsion of demons proves that God's kingdom has drawn near (Matthew 12:28, Luke 11:20). On another occasion, Jesus' spiritual success is said to … Continue reading Legion and the revenge of the Giants
Signs of the kingdom: the dispossession of Legion
Crises in heaven and earth The coupling of political realities with spiritual realities is a hallmark of Jewish apocalyptic. In such works the heavenly stage is reflected upon the earthly stage. Examples of this relationship are numerous: disturbances in the heavens spell disaster for the earth, the unrolling of heavenly scrolls ensures the pouring out … Continue reading Signs of the kingdom: the dispossession of Legion
The Devil and his Demons: the function of the demonic in Revelation
The Dragon and his Beasts In accordance with the overall historical thrust of this blog, I'd like to demonstrate in this post how the spiritual demonic realities addressed by the Biblical authors are ultimately subordinate to and representative of historical-political concerns—not the other way around. Put simply, Satan and his demons personify pagan political power. … Continue reading The Devil and his Demons: the function of the demonic in Revelation
Which Parables go back to Jesus?
All of Them? John P. Meier's excellent A Marginal Jew series attempts to peer behind the curtain of the Gospel portraits to glimpse the Jesus of history. In broad brushstrokes, Meier's restrained and measured work produces an Elijah-like eschatological prophet of the age to come. Scholars like Paula Fredriksen and Dale Allison reach similar conclusions. In his … Continue reading Which Parables go back to Jesus?
Children first, then the dogs: the literary origins of Mark’s Syrophoenician woman
Jesus' interaction with the Syrophoenician/Canaanite woman in Mark 7/Matthew 15 leaves many uneasy, both because Jesus initially refuses to help, and because he speaks of non-Jews as dogs. This behavior seems uncharacteristic of Jesus, who has himself already healed multiple gentiles without question in the Markan and Matthean narratives. Others have suggested that Jesus' behavior … Continue reading Children first, then the dogs: the literary origins of Mark’s Syrophoenician woman
Canaanite women and the New Conquest
I observed in the last post some similarities between Matthew's nameless female Canaanite mendicant and the Canaanite prostitute Rahab. I want to try to draw that connection a little tighter here and show that these women play a similar role in their respective narratives. They are not simply righteous gentile women, they are unlikely harbingers … Continue reading Canaanite women and the New Conquest