David the Patriarch

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”

Rethinking Testimony

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”

The Dominating Influence of Exodus 34:5-7 in the Old Testament

The Strange Triumph of the Lamb

I pieced together this handout for a Bible study that I’m teaching on the Minor Prophets at Harvard for students who are around for the summer.  At a few critical junctures within this so-called Book of the Twelve the various individual prophets allude to Exodus 34:5-7, clearly holding it up as the core revelation of who God is in relation to His redeemed people and to the world He has created.  This character description functions as an explanation for why the God of Israel acts in history the way that He does. 

This canonical act of remembrance recurs in many other Old Testament writings which likewise lean heavily upon God’s primal manifestation of His name to Moses in Exodus 34:5-7.   As I mention in a footnote below, I have especially found the works by Lane and Hamilton to be rich sources for insight upon this scriptural pattern.  Note: in the many passages that (arguably) allude to the foundational depiction of God’s nature in Exodus 34:5-7, the several connecting “echoes”–whether verbal or…

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Cognitive Bias and Theology

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”

Why Biblical Scholarship Matters

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”