There is a curious little phrase in Peter’s Pentecost sermon in Acts 2:14-40.
Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. – Acts 2:29
What makes the phrase “the patriarch David” so strange is King David is ostensibly not a Jewish patriarch. Continue reading “David the Patriarch”
Testimony is a word that has acquired a religious meaning. According to the Oxford dictionary, one of the meanings of testimony is “A public recounting of a religious conversion or experience.” However, not many realise that there is a difference between religious terminology and biblical terminology. Sometimes they overlap and compliment one another but other times they do not. Often the popular religious meaning of a word is not the biblical meaning of the word. This is the case when it comes to the word “testimony”. Continue reading “Rethinking Testimony”
We are more accustomed to thinking of syncretism as an errant imposition on the biblical text from culture. The point often overlooked is that even church and denominational subcultures are shaped by various dynamics in their surrounding culture(s). Who possibly knows the all the ways Christian organizations reflect the values and priorities of the numerous cultures in which we belong?
Furthermore, the inertia of tradition moves us along. We filter out certain texts and theological conclusions; or perhaps, we will overemphasize ideas beyond what is found in Scripture. In effect, our traditions and “Christian” subcultures create biases and impose significance or meaning into a passage.
Continue reading “Cognitive Bias and Theology”
About three years ago I started taking biblical scholarship seriously and it absolutely transformed how I understood Christianity. Growing up in the Church scholarship was largely ignored or totally dismissed. Things have not changed. From time to time you hear some people say (or insinuate) that they do not need any scholar to tell them what the Bible says because it is God who reveals what his word means. While I can appreciate the sentiment the truth is biblical scholarship matters if you are a Christian, whether you know it or not, so I want to give four reasons why.
Continue reading “Why Biblical Scholarship Matters”
One of the things only true Bible nerds care about is composition history. Composition history, as the name suggests, is the study of how the biblical texts came to be written. For the average Christian it seems quite simple but it is actually a complicated issue and a lot of scholarly ink has been spilt over it. As with many academic matters the ordinary Christian is not concerned about them. Even though debates about composition can get incredibly technical and sometimes steeped in a lot of conjecture and educated guess work, I still think it matters for how the ordinary believer reads the Bible, even if they are unaware of all the details.
Continue reading “Why composition history matters”
In a previous post, the so called “inter-testamental” period was briefly explored as critical to understanding the radical, sometimes jarring, changes that emerge when we transition from the Hebrew Bible to the New Testament. The New Testament does not even bother giving a quick heads up and takes things for granted because they are addressing an audience familiar with the times. As modern readers we have to put in a bit of work before we can understand their era.
One of the defining events of the past as far as the New Testament and Jewish history in general is concerned is the Maccabean Revolt. Continue reading “The Hammer and the Oil”