What we learn from the Bible is that names often mean something, and often we are told the significance of names in the biblical stories. So, we are told that “Esau” was named because he was “red” and “hairy” (Genesis 25:25). His twin brother, “Jacob,” which means “supplanter” (Genesis 25:26), got his name because he … Continue reading What’s in a Name?
A tabula patronatus from Bocchorus (6 CE). Unfortunately, too often Christians think we have our own special, insider language, and we forget that the first century believers were simply using ordinary terms to describe their new faith. For example, the wider, cultural lens of patronage and honor offers an important insight into the key New Testament terms of “grace” … Continue reading Faith as a loyal response to God’s gift.
I’m not aware of any Christian who hasn’t been taught that Jesus summarized the whole law (the Hebrew Bible) with just two simple commands – Love God (Deut 6:5) and love your neighbor (Lev 19:18). And, this is a solid tradition found in Mark 12:28–34 and Matthew 22:34–40. However, not many people are aware that … Continue reading All We Need Is Love: A Jesus Remix
It’s not just what you say that matters, but how you say it. People familiar with Gospel traditions note a clear turning point in Jesus’s ministry when you read Matthew, Mark, and Luke (but not John). That turning point, or hinge, is Peter’s “confession” of the identity of Jesus at the Messiah. Mark’s Gospel sets … Continue reading How We Speak: Confession or Accusation?
What do you think is the purpose of the law? The Pauline author of 1 Timothy writes: “But we know that the law is good, if someone uses it lawfully. Understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the righteous but for the lawless and disobedient” (1:8–9). Paul then goes on to give … Continue reading The Sins of Ignorance
Reading the Bible can tricky. We may think passages are “straightforward,” but sometimes we end up filling in blanks that we don’t even realize. (The following is not meant as an argument supporting any of the below views; the purpose is an exercise in considering how our presuppositions impact our consideration of different opinions). When … Continue reading A Centurion’s Confession: Which Centurion Are We?
Centurions represented the Roman Empire, and their duty was to keep the peace. They were part of the backbone of leadership in the Roman military, and they oversaw a cohort of soldiers up to 80 troops. They took on a variety of roles including overseeing building projects, functioning as tax collectors, and leading security. While … Continue reading Centurions and Stereotypes
A thought on race and the New Testament, and how this inadvertently contributes to systems of injustice while also challenging them. (If we really want to tackle racism, then we need to reflect upon these things. The hard part of this kind of reflection is that it begins with ourselves and our traditions rather than … Continue reading Don’t “Other” Others: Paul’s Gospel of Inclusion
Jesus's so-called "temple cleansing" was a violent protest of the temple by a brown man (Mark 11:15-19). He overthrew tables and probably broke some stuff. But why would he do this? Jesus first quotes Isa 56:7 declaring the temple should be “a house of prayer for the Gentiles (ethnos).” Most English translations obscure the racial … Continue reading The Temple Act: We’re All Robbers
People keep trying to co-opt Jesus, and claim that he's on their side. What if we let Jesus co-opt us, and tried to be on his side? What would happen if we abided by his values rather than using him as a megaphone for our values?Unity doesn't deny ethnic, socioeconomic, political, or gender differences. Paul's … Continue reading Co-opting Jesus