Playing the waiting game: the theatrics of Jesus’ healings

A number of Gospel stories reveal that Jesus sometimes delayed his healing work. On two such occasions Jesus' failure to appear resulted in death. In one instance, following a summons from Martha and Mary to heal their sick brother, Jesus "remained two days longer in the place where he was" (John 11:1-6). As expected, by … Continue reading Playing the waiting game: the theatrics of Jesus’ healings

Diseased demons: spirits as agents of illness

As modern science has advanced, belief-systems that attribute human welfare and suffering to the scheming of angels and demons have retreated in equal proportion. Few Christians today would procure an exorcist to alleviate a crippled spine, for instance. Even in cases of extreme antisocial behavior, activity traditionally attributed to malevolent spirits, most modern Christians are … Continue reading Diseased demons: spirits as agents of illness

Jesus, fiend of sinners

The prophets of Biblical legend functioned as conduits of divine energy and might. They conducted God's power, whether that power was to save or to destroy. Moses tore open the waters for Israel but shut them upon their pursuers. Elijah multiplied oil and meal to sustain the lives of his friends but called forth fire … Continue reading Jesus, fiend of sinners

How Jesus became God’s holy spirit

In accordance with their Jewish scriptures, Jesus and his first followers usually identified the spirit that moved among them as the holy spirit of the Lord God, the spirit of Israel's Father. Although Christians came to understand this spirit as mediated through Jesus in some sense (cf. Mark 1:8, Acts 2:33, John 14:26, 20:22, 1 … Continue reading How Jesus became God’s holy spirit

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

Jesus: angel summoner?

The Gospels convey two types of information to readers: intentional information and unintentional information. Much of what we know about Jesus is represented by this first type; the evangelists intended to inform us that Jesus was a powerful teacher, an awesome wonderworker, and an obedient son. This is biased information but it is still information. … Continue reading Jesus: angel summoner?

Sharing spirits: how the spirit moved among the first Christians

Tactile healing Jesus' cures often involved some sort of physical touch. Although he healed the sick with merely a word on occasion, such was the exception to the rule (cf. Matthew 8:5-13). Rather, the normative practice of both Jesus and his followers involved the laying of hands upon the faithful (Mark 1:31; 41, 7:32-33, 8:23, … Continue reading Sharing spirits: how the spirit moved among the first Christians

Jesus the baptizer: why John and Jesus baptized

The kerygma and praxis of John Kerygma The Christian gospel begins with one man's prophetic vision. This man, known to us as John the Baptist, believed Israel's God was about to judge his adulterous people in apocalyptic fashion by burning away the chaff and purifying the gold. The righteous Israelites who endured this national catastrophe … Continue reading Jesus the baptizer: why John and Jesus baptized

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

Jesus the prayer healer

Healing prayer among Jews By the second temple period intercessory prayer was well established by Biblical precedence as a critical tool in the healer's toolbox. Abraham and Moses had acquired cures through prayer (Genesis 20:17, Numbers 12:13). Elijah and Elisha had raised the dead by calling out to the Lord (1 Kings 17:21, 2 Kings … Continue reading Jesus the prayer healer