Mark S. Smith on The Birth of Monotheism

Biblical Studies Online

Professor Mark S. Smith (Princeton Theological Seminary) explains the origins of monotheism in ancient Judaism, in an address to the Tangier Global Forum, University of New England, Tangier Campus Auditorium, Morocco, on January 19, 2017 (the talk begins at 5:13).

Monotheism (the belief in only one god), given birth in ancient Israel and known from the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, has been a topic of fascination for centuries. In the modern times, monotheism functioned to advance Christian claims to “western” superiority as colonialist powers came into contact with “non-western” societies. Thus, monotheism has been a colonializing discourse. By contrast, the monotheistic discourse found in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament served as a means to preserve and assert Israelite identity in the face of the colonizing power of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires. This monotheistic discourse was grounded in traditional Israelite practice and thought and developed fully under the impact of both internal socio-political…

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When Christians Were Atheists

Larry Hurtado's Blog

Early Christians were atheists! At least, that’s how some people of the time viewed them in the earliest centuries, and it’s not difficult to see why. Most importantly, they refused to worship the traditional gods. But also, judged by Roman-era criteria, they didn’t even seem to practice a recognizable form of religion. In the crucial first couple of centuries at least, they had no shrines or temples, no altars or images, and no sacrificial rites or priesthood.[1]

Granted, early Christians were accused of various things. There were the wild claims that Christians engaged in cannibalism and sexual orgies, claims that circulated mainly among the rabble. More sophisticated critics, however, portrayed them as deeply subversive of the social, religious, and political structures of the Roman world. One of the other labels hurled against Christianity was that it was a superstitio, a Latin term that designated bad religion, the kind…

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Podcast: The Value of Controversy

Alastair's Adversaria

Mere Fidelity

I join Derek and Matt for the latest Mere Fidelity episode, on the subject of the value of controversy. We discuss whether controversy is worthwhile and how to go about it well.

You can also follow the podcast on iTunes, or using this RSS feed. Listen to past episodes on Soundcloud and on this page on my blog.

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Honour and Shame in the cultural world of the New Testament

Continue reading “Honour and Shame in the cultural world of the New Testament”

Aryan Jesus

Yesterday in the US there was a parade of White Supremacists which turned violent. While White Supremacy is a very general term for different ideologies held by a collection of very small, largely independent groups in the West, also known as the Alt-Right, they share the common feature of racism, a lot of it being focused against Jewish people as well others. Most Ghanaian Christians have never heard of any of these groups and know very little about antisemitism (hatred of Jewish people) but they are relevant in a larger discussion that does affect Christianity, which is something I hope to explore later on. Unfortunately, western Christianity, the form of Christianity Africa inherited, has played a role in antisemitism. Continue reading “Aryan Jesus”

Synergy through Suffering

This year I wrote a short post in tribute to the brothers and sisters in Egypt who were murdered by Muslim terrorists during church service on Palm Sunday. I remember reading the story and seeing the images of freshly bloodied palm fronds. I was moved in a way that I had not thought I would. Continue reading “Synergy through Suffering”

Our Sufferings

In His Sufferings I argued that the principle reason we should care about the persecuted is Jesus. In New Testament theology, the believer is in union with the crucified Messiah therefore his experience is our experience, including his sufferings. Persecuted believers have a share in Jesus’ own sufferings, the climax of which was on the cross. Therefore, to ignore their sufferings is to in the present disregard the cross. If we must care about persecution because of Jesus we must also be concerned with his body, that is, those found in union with the Messiah. Continue reading “Our Sufferings”