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

Revelation 14 and the good news about Jesus

The Gospel in our contemporary context is most often associated with Jesus' death for sins: the sinless savior sacrificed himself to rescue us from death, hell, and/or God's wrath. His deed of obedience is effective for all people for all time. Such an understanding of the Gospel sometimes stands in tension with how the Bible … Continue reading Revelation 14 and the good news about Jesus

Acts of the Apostles: Telling the story of the second psalm

When Christians speak of their favorite psalms, Psalm 2 is not often mentioned. If we were to pose the question to Luke or the author of the Apocalypse, however, they would likely have identified this particular psalm as one of the most important if not the most important. Their quotations from and their allusions to … Continue reading Acts of the Apostles: Telling the story of the second psalm

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

“Come out of her, my people!”: Rahab and the Exodus from Rome

The Exodus is more than the founding myth of the Hebrew people; it is a literary stream that runs from the beginning of the scriptures to the end. It is recalled all throughout the Biblical narrative: at creation, at Israel's return from exile, at the death of the Messiah, and at John's judgement of the … Continue reading “Come out of her, my people!”: Rahab and the Exodus from Rome

“Do not resist an evil person”: why Jesus taught what he taught

My last posts (1 2) argued that the apocalyptic vision in Psalm 37 served as the background for many of Jesus' teachings on violence in the Sermon on the Mount. Psalm 37 speaks of  imminent reversals: the wicked would soon be destroyed, the just would soon be vindicated and rewarded. Therefore, the psalmist implores, do not … Continue reading “Do not resist an evil person”: why Jesus taught what he taught

Prophecy on the Mount part II

The Prophetic Narrative of Israel's Scriptures In my last post I argued that the Sermon on the Mount presupposes a certain apocalyptic and prophetic biblical narrative. The Sermon is not foremost a work of ethical reasoning. It is foremost a prophetic announcement of coming judgement and vindication. We can find this prophetic narrative elsewhere throughout … Continue reading Prophecy on the Mount part II

Prophecy on the Mount part 1

My thinking on eschatology and biblical interpretation has been fundamentally shaped by Andrew Perriman's "narrative-historical" approach. According to Perriman, Jesus—and the Bible more broadly—was eminently concerned with historical rather than spiritual outcomes. Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet but not the prophet of Schweitzer or Weiss—he did not prophesy the end of the world. Rather, Jesus prophesied, much … Continue reading Prophecy on the Mount part 1

The Cursed Fig Tree and the Prophet Isaiah

God's treatment of Pharaoh in the Exodus narrative consistently puzzles readers. Just when Pharaoh has agreed to let the Israelites go, God hardens his heart and drives him to the shore of the Sea. God does this so that he can work signs of judgement against Egypt. I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and I will … Continue reading The Cursed Fig Tree and the Prophet Isaiah

The Gospel according to Hannah

The Songs of Mary and Zechariah are almost unintelligible when they are read with modern theological presuppositions. These texts speak of the abasement of kings, the exaltation of the lowly, the defeat of God's enemies, and the fulfillment of divine promises to Israel. They have little if anything to do with justification by faith or the Christmas story … Continue reading The Gospel according to Hannah