Embryos Unbound

April’s First Things boasts not one but two worthy articles on embryos.  I agree with much in each.  One, “The Ancients on Abortion” by Sarah Klitenic Wear, gives a history lesson on ancient embryology to observe that Greeks then—not unlike Americans now—debated whether souls were present before or after birth.  The other, Jennifer Lahl and [Read More...]

The Urban Pulpit

Bowman cover

Two years ago, I posted an interview with Matthew Bowman, a preview of a book that has now appeared as The Urban Pulpit:New York City and the Fate of Liberal Evangelicalism. A few quick thoughts: – Paul Putz posted an excellent summary/review at Religion in American History: Bowman argues that the fracturing of evangelicalism in [Read More...]

THE CHASM OF HISTORY

When scholars look at the Bible, or any other ancient religious work, they are well used to the idea of traditions and legends building up over time, as stories are retold. The assumption is that, the further we stand from a historical event, the more embellished it becomes, and that is generally a reasonable statement.  [Read More...]

The Brightness of the Sun

The Conversion of St. Paul, Jean Fouquet, in the Hours of  Étienne Chevalier, ca. 1450s

Sometime around the year 1820, the young Joseph Smith was troubled. According to the earliest account, written in 1832, Smith was anxious over the state of his sinful soul. He “felt to mourn,” for his own sinfulness and that of the world. He was convinced of God’s existence, simply by looking at the wonders of [Read More...]

Unintended Consequences in American Religious History

Evan Treborn has a gift.  The main character in the 2004 science-fiction film The Butterfly Effect, Evan possesses the ability to travel back to particular points in his life, changing the events of that moment.  Over the course of the movie, he does this several times, hoping to change outcomes for the better.  Of course, [Read More...]

Yes, Religious Liberty is Threatened in America

Oral arguments begin today at the Supreme Court in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, a case precipitated by the HHS Mandate, under which corporations must provide abortifacient and contraceptive coverage to employees. This requirement, the most controversial in a host of controversial provisions under Obamacare, has elicited a host of lawsuits from a variety of religious organizations, [Read More...]

COUNTING THE WAYS

sigliki-roman-road-071

Early Christians referred to their movement as The Way, Hodos. No later than the early second century, the converts’ manual that we call the Didache, the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, began by declaring that “There are two Ways [Hodoi], one of Life and one of Death, and there is a great difference between the [Read More...]

An Interview with Andrew O’Shaughnessy, Author of The Men Who Lost America

Today’s guest post is an interview with Dr. Andrew O’Shaughnessy, by David Moore. Dave blogs at www.twocities.org. Dr. Andrew O’Shaughnessy is vice president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello.  His book, The Men Who Lost America (Yale, 2013) has received number of awards, and is a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize.   [Read More...]

THE WAY TO TRANSLATE

For some years now, I have found it hard to read the New Testament in English alone. Now, don’t think I’m showing off there. My Greek is no better than OK, and a parallel text is really, really, useful. The problem is that, the more you read the text in the Greek original, you realize [Read More...]

Visions in the Hebrew Scriptures

Ezekiel's_vision

Beginning today, I’m starting a weekly series on visions. My immediate interest in the question stems from my recent foray into the history of Mormonism, a movement that now traces itself to Joseph Smith’s theophany of God the Father and Jesus Christ. (See this recent statement on the subject published last year by the Church [Read More...]


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