You mean you never heard the story of the red, seven-headed Christmas Dragon? You know, the one so powerful that its tale swept billions of stars from the sky and flung them to earth in a fury. That’s the dragon that showed up Christmas morning, determined to kill the baby boy destined to rule the nations as soon as it was born.
Right. That dragon!
Continue reading “The Christmas Story You Never Heard”
If we do not make use of historical background to the New Testament, we are in danger of misreading these books and letters with 21st-century eyes. Reading Mark in Context introduces us to important historical and religious writings from the Second Temple Period (roughly from the Jewish return from Babylonian exile in 516 BC to the destruction of the temple by Rome in AD 70). These range from the works of Josephus to the Dead Sea Scrolls to the apocrypha to Rabbinic writings, and more.
Continue reading “Background Check”
Commonly in biblical studies, as in other academic disciplines, a scholar arrives at a genuine insight and proceeds to interpret everything through that lens, seeing it as the key to the whole. The problem is that such ancient texts defy easy modern categorization or simple unifying themes. Adam Winn admirably avoids this trap.
Continue reading “Mark Through Roman Eyes”
Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. . . . Jesus replied . . . “Now about the dead rising–have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”
(Mark 12:18, 24, 26-27)
Many Christians think that the spiritual is more important than the physical–that prayer, evangelism, worship, giving to Christian causes, and encountering God matter more than caring for our physical selves or for the created world. Doing church work, we may think, is more important than our job as an accountant, store clerk, salesperson, or truck driver. Reading the Bible, we might think, is more important than other reading we can do to learn about the world and people that God created.
Continue reading “Why Resurrection Matters (Mark 12:18-27)”
Each Wednesday until Easter I am posting a Lenten reflection, excerpted and adapted from Mark Through Old Testament Eyes.
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.” . . . When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. (Mark 11:1-2, 7-8)
Why does Jesus specify a colt, and one that no one has ridden before? Animals without defect, or which had never been worked before, were considered holy–necessary for worship and sacrifices (Lev 22:19-25; Num 19:2-3; Deut 21:1-9). Animals which had never worked before were specified to pull one of Israel’s holiest objects, the ark of the covenant, after it had been taken by the Philistines (1 Sam 6:1-9).
Continue reading “The King Rides a Colt (Mark 11)”
Those who walk down the middle of the road, it is said, are likely to get run over by both sides. That is where Garwood Anderson has chosen to daringly place himself in his Paul’s New Perspective. In the current debate on justification between those who hold to the Traditional Protestant Perspective (TPP) and the New Perspective on Paul (NPP), Anderson charts a third way.
Continue reading “Paul’s New Perspective”
Want a quick, entertaining way to get a solid feel for what it was like to be in Roman-occupied Palestine? That’s what Gary Burge offers in A Week in the Life of a Roman Centurion. In this window into the world of the first century, we look through the eyes of Appius, a tough-minded, pragmatic Centurion. The story is enriched as we get to know his household, his familia. Livia, his companion, knows the power of her allure. Tullus is a captured slave with skill as a scribe who rises to a place of trust. Gaius is the manager of Appius’s affairs, organized and completely loyal to his lord.
Continue reading “Enjoy a Week in the First Century”