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
The Israelite origins of the Samaritans
My reading of the parable of the Good Samaritan, outlined here and here, depends largely on two factors. The first factor concerns the alleged inter-textual relationship between the parable and the story of the prophet Oded in 2 Chronicles 28. Does the parable actually invoke the Chronicler's story of the Judean captives and their merciful … Continue reading The Israelite origins of the Samaritans
Virgin birth in ancient context: sowing the father’s πνεῦμα
Seed and soil The people of Antiquity subscribed to what is called the "seed and soil" theory of human reproduction. According to this theory the father conveyed life and form to the child in and through his seed. As with a plant seed then, most if not all morphological features were passed on by the … Continue reading Virgin birth in ancient context: sowing the father’s πνεῦμα
When did Jesus and his followers receive the spirit?
At two particular points in the New Testament narrative the Holy Spirit breaks through the heavenly seal and escapes into the earthly realm. In the first case, the spirit descends upon Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan. In the second case, the spirit is poured out upon believers as they celebrate the feast of … Continue reading When did Jesus and his followers receive the spirit?
Immanuel: theology or history?
Christmas and Theology Theological constructs, while often helpful, sometimes prevent us from hearing what Biblical texts have to say. This is certainly the case with scripture's dual nativity stories. Two theological concerns in particular blur our reading of these stories. Since the two birth narratives are divergent and sometimes contradictory, in our desire to defend the … Continue reading Immanuel: theology or history?
John and the Historical Temple-Disturbance
Until rather recently, the Gospel of John has been systematically excluded as a source for the historical Jesus. It has been popularly considered a "concocted Gospel." Accordingly, scholarship tends to understand John as a derivative spiritualization of Synoptic material. As such, the Fourth Gospel contains no viable independent memory of the historical Jesus. This critical … Continue reading John and the Historical Temple-Disturbance
Magic and Misunderstanding in John 8
A paper I wrote examined the dispute between Jesus and Jerusalem Jews recorded in John 8. I began with a well-trodden observation: in John 8:42-58 the typical Johannine misunderstanding motif is afoot. That is, the Jews do not understand what Jesus is saying. Their questions and accusations disclose that Jesus and his opponents are operating … Continue reading Magic and Misunderstanding in John 8