Inverted honor: resurrection as status reversal

I observed in my last post that a man's behavior at a feast served to either maintain his father's honor or incur shame upon his family name. By eating and/or drinking to excess, for instance, a foolish son would publicly dishonor his parents and signal to guests and host alike that his father was unable … Continue reading Inverted honor: resurrection as status reversal

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

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

What did Jesus’ parables mean?

What are the parables? Despite their absence in Johannine and Pauline memory, parables epitomized Jesus' ministry to Israel (cf. Mark 4:33-34). In conjunction with casting out demons and healing the sick, Jesus signaled the approach of God's kingdom through parabolic speech, that is, through prophetic stories meant to encapsulate and explicate his central message: "The … Continue reading What did Jesus’ parables mean?

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

More on the Good Samaritan: the humiliation of Israel’s shepherds

I argued last time that when read with the story of the prophet Oded in view (2 Chronicles 28), the parable of the Good Samaritan constitutes an indictment against Israel's religious establishment for failing to protect vulnerable members of the covenant community. According to Jesus, the priest, scribe, lawyer, and Pharisee have failed to love … Continue reading More on the Good Samaritan: the humiliation of Israel’s shepherds

The literary origins of the Good Samaritan: Oded and the priestly law of brotherly love

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

Functional eschatology at Thessalonika

Paul outlines what appears to be a novel eschatological scenario in his first letter to the churches at Thessalonika. He writes that at the coming of Christ believers will be raised from the dead, collected into the air, and brought into the presence of the Lord (4:16-17). At the sound of the last trumpet there … Continue reading Functional eschatology at Thessalonika

Legion and the revenge of the Giants

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