Multiple Messiahs

“Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Luke 7.20). Fictional treatments of Jesus commonly show faithful Jews wondering whether he is in fact the Messiah, the One who is to come. The problem, though, is that any conscientious messianic candidate would probably have had to ask for the question [Read More…]

Publishing without Perishing

Several of my co-bloggers have commented on aspects of dissertation writing and academic publishing. Perhaps for some gifted individuals, books come forth with ease. For most of us, however, they are laborious endeavors, filled with stretches of angst and exhaustion. What follows are a few thoughts on how to minimize publishing stress and how to [Read More…]

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as Secular Hymnody

In 1345, on a cold Tuesday night just before Easter, a miracle happened in Amsterdam. A dying man, given the Eucharist, vomited it right back out. His caregivers were amazed to see that it had reemerged from his mouth whole. They threw the host on a fire, perhaps thinking that this was the least sacrilegious [Read More…]

The “Evangelicals” Who Support Donald Trump

There has been much hand-wringing in recent weeks about the persistent support of Donald Trump among “evangelicals.” Why in the world would so many Christians support a rude and crude candidate like Trump, whose pro-life credentials seem obligatory at best, and who specializes in vilifying Hispanics? If we are to believe the polls, the American [Read More…]

The Other Tyre

I say this with some nervousness, but I think I have a minor discovery to report, involving one of the most puzzling passages of the Bible. I’ll wait for experts to look at the idea and tell me if I actually have anything worthwhile. Let me first state the problem, about which I have posted [Read More…]

Seer Stones and Prophetic Authority

Last week, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made national and international news by releasing photographs of a seer stone used by Joseph Smith during the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. For some contemporary Latter-day Saints and for some outside critics of the church, the fact that Joseph Smith used a [Read More…]

Teaching Salem Witchcraft

One of the most provocative topics in the American History survey class is the Salem witchcraft trials. Although it was a great tragedy, the episode lends itself to wonderful discussions about historical interpretation. As Emerson Baker’s recent book A Storm of Witchcraft points out, the past four decades have seen a huge expansion of the literature on [Read More…]

The Missing Century, Revisited

My last post was a near-despairing attempt to locate a spiritual and/or political crisis that might have produced the amazing story told in Deutero-Zechariah, chapters 9 through 14 of that text. (See earlier posts for a summary). Groping for an answer, it occurred to me to synthesize what we actually do know about Jewish history [Read More…]

Placing Zechariah

I was posting about some of the weird and wonderful ideas offered by Robert Graves in his 1946 novel King Jesus, one of which concerned the puzzling text we call Deutero-Zechariah, chapters 9-14 of that prophetic work. As I described, the section tells of a devout prophetic figure who is appalled by the sins of [Read More…]

Performing the City

And now, for something (not) completely different. In recent months, I have been working on Old Testament and early Jewish history. As a total break, I thought, I would read a book on Aztec history and mythology, David Carrasco’s City of Sacrifice: The Aztec Empire and the Role of Violence in Civilization (1999). It’s a [Read More…]


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