The traditional Christological discourse surrounding John 1:1 seeks to assess the nature of God's word as it relates to the nature of God the Father. Interpreters involved in this enterprise attempt to understand how the Word can be both God (θεός) and yet distinct from God (ὁ θεός). Early Christians appropriated Greek philosophical terms like "substance" … Continue reading God’s functional word: sectarian Christology in John 1
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 account of Israel's sea-crossing contained in Exodus 14-15 is a composite text. At least three disparate sources concerning God's activity at the Sea of Reeds were sown together by a priestly redactor for priestly purposes. For this final compiler, Israel's escape at the sea, however it might have been conceived previously, was reflected through … Continue reading Israel’s escape at the Sea of Reeds
Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, to bring you to God, by being put to death in the flesh but by being made alive in the spirit. In it he went and preached to the spirits in prison, after they were disobedient long ago when God patiently waited in the … Continue reading Why did Jesus descend into Hell?
In Acts 10 the apostle Peter is granted three visions of clean and unclean animals descending from heaven. A heavenly voice tells Peter to kill and eat these beasts. When the apostle objects to this violation of God's Law the heavenly voice responds "what God has cleansed (ἐκαθάρισεν), you must not consider polluted (κοίνου)" (Acts … Continue reading When did God cleanse Cornelius? The possible literary origins of Acts 10
The Lukan parable of the Good Samaritan contains certain intriguing similarities with the obscure story of the prophet Oded in 2 Chronicles 28. As I hope to show here, the correct interpretation of Luke's parable lies in these similarities. We thus begin with Oded. According to the Chronicler, during the reign of king Ahaz Judah … Continue reading The literary origins of the Good Samaritan: Oded and the priestly law of brotherly love
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
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