THE VERY PLACE WHERE IT HAPPENED

I recently described the powerful medieval theme of rooting the events of the New Testament in the places and objects of the Old. I cited for instance the Syriac writer Solomon of Basra around 1220, and what we can only call a complex mythological system: As to the tree upon which our Redeemer was crucified, [Read More...]

THE BIBLE’S DEEP HISTORY

I have been spending a lot of time recently with the apocryphal texts of the Old Testament, the pseudepigrapha. This material can become obsessive! Through much of Christian history, the relationship between Old and New Testaments was very different from how most would imagine it today. Modern believers certainly see foretastes or prophecies of Christ [Read More...]

The Issue of our Day

This week I read a news article that broke my heart and called me to repentance. In the midst of the fight over the budget and debt ceiling, in the midst of the ongoing saga of the “Bling-Bling Bishop” in Germany, and in the midst of football season, most of us (myself included) have been [Read More...]

Slavery: America’s Original Sin?

[This week's post is from my archives at Patheos.] The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has a touring exhibit entitled “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty.” At the front of the Smithsonian display stands a life-size statue of Jefferson, backed by a panel listing the known names of about 600 slaves who worked for Jefferson [Read More...]

ARTEMISIA COMES TO CHICAGO

AR-AD896_GENTIL_G_20131010224410

Some months back I described how the Bible’s Deuterocanonical books had inspired so many artists through the centuries. I particularly mentioned the wonderful Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1656), who among other things was celebrated for her gory portrayals of Judith beheading the enemy general Holofernes. The Wall Street Journal recently did a piece on a [Read More...]

WHAT IS A GOSPEL?

gospel_lg

I have been working on the fate of alternative scriptures in the millennium or so following the early Christian era – say, between 500 and 1600. My argument is that, in that long period, many or most of the old alternative texts that were so popular in the early church continued to thrive and to [Read More...]

Elizabeth Smart’s Story

Most visitors to the internet this week have probably noticed that Elizabeth Smart has just released a memoir of her horrific ordeal. Ten years after her rescue, she details her abduction and captivity and explains how she transcended the evils she experienced. My review is here. Warning: the book induces nightmares, especially when you have [Read More...]

The Puritans as Masters of Reform

My history graduate students and I recently read David Hall’s A Reforming People: Puritanism and the Transformation of Public Life in New England (2011), a remarkably admiring portrait of early New England Puritans and their participatory society. While progressive critics, following Nathaniel Hawthorne, have often caricatured the theocratic rule of the Puritan fathers, Harvard’s Hall – one [Read More...]

THE GREEN MAN AND THE KING OF SALEM

khidrborder

Christians who delve into the Qur’an will be surprised how many old friends they find there, including Jesus and Mary, of course, and a lengthy roster of prophets and patriarchs. Exploring the Qur’an can be an excellent way of understanding the Christian and Jewish worlds of Late Antiquity, roughly the sixth and seventh centuries BC. [Read More...]

THE CAVE OF TREASURES

013

Throughout history, both Jews and Christians have been extraordinarily prolific in producing alternative scriptures, which we conventionally divide into Old and New Testament apocrypha (or pseudepigrapha). Some texts, though resist such neat divisions. While apparently expanding on Old Testament events and personalities, they actually present Christian doctrines so strongly that they certainly belong alongside New [Read More...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X