Pilgrim Posts

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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Seeing the Structure

In the past I have talked about some of the problems with chapter and verse divisions. While it is useful tool for referencing the text, the very reason why it came into existence, it has taken over the formatting of the text and has become a distraction from the organic reading of the text. For most of scripture’s history no such arbitrary divisions were attached. Many have noted this problem and publishes are now producing Bibles that removes this clutter. However simply removing these reading obstacles in my view does not go far enough. Continue reading “Seeing the Structure”

What really is the Bible?

One of the fundamental questions a Christian should ask is ‘What is the Bible?’ Continue reading “What really is the Bible?”

The Dysfunctional Family

In The Origin Story of a People I set out to show that Genesis is about the family of Abraham. The theme of family is a narrative thread that runs through all of scripture and binds it together. In our lives family is also a constant that intimately connects us. While ancient and modern conceptions of family might differ in important ways, especially depending on which part of the world you come from, family is itself a human universal. It is the foundation of every human society. Scripture is often known for some of the more extraordinary and perplexing things that happen in it, yet sometimes we lose sight of this that at its heart, it is about something that we can all relate to and that is family. Continue reading “The Dysfunctional Family”