The Silence Exercise

I’ve been trying of late to incorporate more diverse assignments and methods of instruction in my teaching. Each semester now in my World Civilizations course, I ask students to write a short paper on what I call the “silence exercise.” As odd as it may seem, merely maintaining silence for a while can be a [Read More...]

Do You Need a Literary Agent?

I routinely get asked about using a literary agent in securing book contracts. Is this something that authors, academic or non-academic, should consider? It depends on what type of publishing you wish to do. For most academic publishing, you don’t need a literary agent, because academic publishers are not generally engaged in “trade” publishing, meaning [Read More...]

The Jesus Identity!

Like many readers, I have been stunned by the revelations in the new book by Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson, The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Ancient Text that Reveals Jesus’ Marriage to Mary the Magdalene. Their bold detective work exposes the hidden narrative of Jesus found in a text called Joseph and Aseneth, which timid [Read More...]

Christians in Babylon

In the early Christian era, Mesopotamia/Iraq was a thriving center of rabbinic Judaism, and throughout the first millennium it was the intellectual capital of that faith. Given the Jewish background, naturally we find very early Christian settlements in Iraq. Within the Persian empire, the greatest seat of church power was of course at the capital [Read More...]

Henrietta Mears, Evangelical Optimist

1949 College Briefing Conference

Nearly two years ago, I wrote about the life of Henrietta Mears, the Sunday School superintendent, developer of curricula, and youth evangelist. “Teacher,” as her disciples called her, served at the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood for several decades, from 1928 until her death in 1963. Hollywood Presbyterian was a central hub in the booming [Read More...]

More than Ferguson

After the St. Louis County (MO) Grand Jury in Ferguson declined to indict Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, chaos ensued.  Certainly, chaos ensued in the streets of Ferguson as protests turned into riots throughout the city.  At the same time, chaos of a different sort emerged among evangelicals.  In the aggregate, evangelicals [Read More...]

“More a Doctrine than a Person”: Evangelicals and the Holy Spirit

I suspect many a Christian, including many evangelicals, can identify with frustrations J.D. Greear expressed in his recent Christianity Today interview about the Christian life and the Holy Spirit:  it “seemed like people in the Bible had a fundamentally different relationship with God than my own. There was a hollowness in my spiritual life. God was more a [Read More...]

By the Rivers of Babylon

Ctesiphon-ruin_1864

In 1973, Geza Vermes reminded us, indelibly, that Jesus was a Jew, and subsequent generations of scholars have thoroughly absorbed that lesson. Less effective, though, have been statements that early Christianity also operated in a thoroughly Jewish matrix, and that the separation between the two movements was slow, uneven and patchy. Long after the first [Read More...]

The Enoch Code

Raleigh

This is puzzling. On multiple occasions, I have written about the ancient text known as 1 Enoch, which the early church regarded as almost canonical. From the early Middle Ages, though, the book was mostly lost to the West, and was only rediscovered in the eighteenth century in Ethiopian translations. Although this lengthy book deals [Read More...]

Revolution in the Making

Something strange happened to the Jewish world in the third century BC. Although the land was usually part of the Ptolemaic Empire, local authorities carried on ruling much as before, largely undisturbed in their power. If we read our main source for the period – the twelfth book of Josephus’s Jewish Antiquities, roughly covering the [Read More...]


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