The Bible and the Ancient Near East

Just as knowing something about the 18th century Enlightenment, Colonial American history, and the men who attended the Constitutional Convention will inform your historical understanding of the U.S. Constitution, knowing something about ancient Near Eastern history and culture will deepen your historical understanding of the documents that compose the Hebrew Bible. Continue reading “The Bible and the Ancient Near East”

The Decline of the Old Testament

Old Testament scholar Dr. Brent Strawn delivers a highly accessible lecture on his important 2017 book The Old Testament is Dying: A Diagnosis and Recommended Treatment. Continue reading “The Decline of the Old Testament”

The OT’s Favourite Verses

There is a plethora of material on how the New Testament uses the Old Testament (OT) but there is very, very little material on what are the most cited or referenced OT passages in the OT. There was so very little information on this that when I googled it I found nothing. Continue reading “The OT’s Favourite Verses”

The Greatest Event in the OT

The Bible is full of iconic moments, well-known stories and famous sayings. If someone were to ask, “what is the most important event?” there would be a lot of great candidates. If things were narrowed down to only the Hebrew Bible (or the Old Testament as Christians call it), many people would say the creation of the world as recounted in Genesis 1 and 2. Nothing would ever happen if nothing existed so creation, to say the least, is a very solid choice for the most important event.

Interestingly, while Genesis 1 and 2 obviously matter, they are hardly referenced or alluded to in the rest of the Hebrew Bible. Even other creation accounts do not seem to specifically draw on Genesis. In fact the primaeval account, that is Genesis 1-11, which includes the famous stories of Cain and Abel, the Flood and the Tower of Babel, barely features in the rest of the Jewish scriptures. So what then is the most important event in the Hebrew Bible, even more important than God creating the world? Continue reading “The Greatest Event in the OT”

Alter on the Art of Reading Scripture

Noted literary critic and Bible scholar Robert Alter, as part of the conclusion to his seminal book The Art of Reading Biblical Narrative, offers below some very important remarks on what it takes to read the Bible: Continue reading “Alter on the Art of Reading Scripture”

Composite Quotations

Any attentive reader of the New Testament will notice how it quotes the Old Testament is often pretty weird. Sometimes it seems pretty arbitrary and other times it looks like its misquoted. If you ever wondered about about how this and how the New uses the Old in general, the following interview of New Testament scholar Seth Ehorn certainly helps address these questions. The interview, which is for Deeper Waters Podcast, is centred on his two-volume series he co-edited with Sean Adams Composite Citations in Antiquity (Vol. 1 2015, Vol. 2 2018, T&T Clark.)

Continue reading “Composite Quotations”

Folk Christianity (Part 4)

The Prophetic Tradition and Resisting Folk Religion

During the period of Judah and Israel’s monarchies, it was the prophets who resisted folk Yahwism, that is worshipping YHWH alongside the gods of indigenous folk religion. As I mentioned in the previous post, scholars have pointed out that Israel became truly monotheistic only after the Babylonian exile which brought independent monarchy to an end. With the national existential crisis of the destruction of the temple, the capital and exile from their homeland, the warnings of the prophets over the centuries that folk Yahwism will have disastrous consequences had been horrifically vindicated. Yet it was those same words that gave the people hope for restoration, refocusing and energizing them for covenant faithfulness to YHWH alone.

Continue reading “Folk Christianity (Part 4)”