David Skeel’s _True Paradox: How Christianity Makes Sense of Our Complex World_

I recently read Penn law professor David Skeel’s remarkable apologetics book True Paradox: How Christianity Makes Sense of Our Complex World. I have to admit to ambivalent feelings about a lot of Christian apologetics, which often seems likely only to confirm Christians’ faith rather than engaging seriously with the work of Christianity’s critics. I found Skeel [Read More...]

Thrones and Dominions

Archangels

I have been exploring how Judaism acquired its ideas of angels as named individuals like Gabriel and Michael, and whether that practice reflect Persian influence. As I suggested, our knowledge of Persian religion is actually less detailed than we often think, and that is especially true in matters like angels and the heavenly hierarchy. Nineteenth [Read More...]

Angels from the East?

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In the two or three centuries before Jesus’s time, Jews became highly interested in angels, to whom they assigned identities and personal names. That represents a major shift from the well-known scriptures of the sixth and fifth centuries BC that we find in the canonical Old Testament. Something had happened between those periods, but what? [Read More...]

The Beginning and End of Mormon Polygamy

Zina D. H. Young

Many observers of Mormonism have offered their thoughts on the recent statements on plural marriage published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They discuss the origins of plural marriage and Joseph Smith’s own practice of polygamy; the living out of polygamy in early Utah; and the church’s abandonment of plural marriage between [Read More...]

Serendipity in the Stacks: A Case against Bookless Libraries

Several months ago Florida Polytechnic University opened a brand-new library. Its architecture, designed by Santiago Calatrava, is striking. Even more striking is what this library lacks: books. I’ll repeat that: you can’t check out any physical books at FPU’s library. You can, however, read from a screen. Staffers say that electronic workstations give students access [Read More...]

George Whitefield: Bridging the Evangelical and Academic Gap

Today is the official publication date for my book George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father. Thanks to all of you who have already bought the book, as well as those who have so kindly posted and tweeted about it! Why do we need this George Whitefield biography? Aside from the fact that he needs to [Read More...]

Of Monks, Mounds and Massacres

vikings_ireland_851

In my undergraduate years, I studied early and medieval Celtic history, with a heavy concentration on matters Irish. A couple of lessons from those days help understand contemporary academic debates, not to mention our appreciation of Christian history. The first issue arises from an excellent recent issue of American Archaeology, about the important Native American [Read More...]

Angels at the Dead Sea

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My recent posts concerned angels, and specifically when and why they acquired names and individual identities. Angels are fully developed characters in 1 Enoch, probably from the third century BC, and that text was well known in the community that produced the Dead Sea Scrolls. That group had a special interest in angels and their [Read More...]

America’s Spiritual Founding Father

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In time for the three hundredth anniversary of the birth of George Whitefield (pronounced Whit-field), my co-blogger Thomas Kidd has just published a biography of the man he terms America’s Spiritual Founding Father. [Yale University Press identifies October 28 as the book's release date, but it is already shipping]. Kidd’s George Whitefield is an eminently [Read More...]

Leadership: American Style

William Jennings Bryan in1902 (Public Domain)

  Two men, born twenty-six years apart and moving within different circles, followed remarkably similar and typically American paths to the pinnacle of fame and leadership. The first came from humble origins and endured a challenging childhood.  His father died in an car wreck while his mother was pregnant, leaving her as a single mom. [Read More...]


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