The Bible’s Voice

Does the Bible speak? If so, how? An oft-told tale of the Spanish conquest of the Americas tells of the Inca ruler Atahualpa. When he met the conquistadors in 1532, some Catholic priests reputedly gave him a Bible, telling him it contained the word of God. Atahualpa put the book to his ear, but hearing [Read More...]

Mani and the Giants

Last time, I described the Book of the Giants. Probably written in the third or second centuries BC, this text is closely related to the Book of 1 Enoch and its story of fallen angels begetting monstrous offspring on human women. The book probably originated and circulated in the Jewish world, probably in the sectarian [Read More...]

The Thanksgiving before the First Thanksgiving

It probably didn't look overly much like Charles Lucy's Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers

The Mayflower pilgrims anchored at what is now Provincetown Harbor on the south side of the Cape Cod hook on November 11, 1620 (November 20 by our calendar). When a party waded ashore, William Bradford wrote some years later: they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven, who had brought them over [Read More...]

Eating Eel: Your Guide to an Authentic Thanksgiving

Yesterday Tommy Kidd praised Tracy McKenzie’s book for its “entertaining retelling of a seminal moment in American history.” I agree. In fact, I assign it to my Study of History course (which covers the methods and philosophy of history) at Asbury for several reasons. First, it unpacks some of the mechanics of good historical research. [Read More...]

This Thanksgiving, Stop Idolizing the Pilgrims

A couple of years ago at Christianity Today, I reviewed Robert Tracy McKenzie’s excellent book The First Thanksgiving. Here’s a sample: In 1623, Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford proclaimed the first Thanksgiving. “The great Father,” he declared, “has given us this year an abundant harvest…and granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.” [Read More...]

The Book of the Giants

No, whatever the title suggests, that is not the name of a forthcoming novel from Neil Gaiman. The Book of the Giants is an ancient Jewish text, part of the pseudepigrapha, the “falsely titled” writings usually attributed to some ancient sage or prophet. Although it is not well known by non-specialists, the Book of the [Read More...]

Thinking Medieval about “Masculine” Christianity

“God has given Christianity a masculine feel.” I remember when John Piper said this at a pastor’s conference in Minneapolis, 31 January 2012.  I wasn’t there. But I read the statement as quoted by the press; I read the elaboration on the Desiring God website; and I read the continued responses throughout social media. And [Read More...]

Islam: Inherently Violent?

The jihadist attacks in Paris have grieved and frightened the world again with the reality of Muslims committing violence in the name of Islam. Again we face the question – is Islam inherently violent? Are Muslims required to commit violence as a religious obligation?  There is no doubt that unsettling numbers of Muslims would not [Read More...]

Over the Border

For some centuries, Jews of the Second Temple era lived in a world that was definitely multi-ethnic and multi-cultural. That was true of course in Diaspora communities, but between, say, 200 BC and the 60s AD, Palestine itself was a mosaic of different ethnicities and religions. No Jew there had to travel more than a [Read More...]

Permanent Jihad, Continued

I dearly wish I had not been right. Back in early September, I did a post at this blog about potential terrorism in France and other European countries, under the title of The Age of Permanent Jihad. I wrote that The point is not just that many younger French Muslims are increasingly radicalized, but that [Read More...]