Naming Palestine

I post frequently on matters of Biblical history, and on occasion I naturally have to give a geographical location, to suggest for instance that a given king ruled over the territory. I use the term “Palestine,” and that requires a word of explanation – not, you understand, apology. In my usage, Palestine refers to the [Read More...]

In Many Tongues

Over the past year, I have been making heavy use of a magnificent scholarly resource called Outside the Bible, which presents new translations of apocryphal and non-canonical works related to the Hebrew Bible, with extensive commentaries. The full reference is Louis H. Feldman, James L. Kugel and Lawrence H. Schiffman, eds., Outside the Bible: Ancient [Read More...]

Inventing Eden

Inventing Eden

Zachary Hutchins’s Inventing Eden is a remarkable book. As its subtitle explains, Hutchins examines “primitivism, millennialism, and the making of New England.” Many of us probably know that various colonial and early American boosters promoted the environs of the New World as paradisiacal, Edenic destinations in which beleaguered Europeans could quickly reap a bounty from [Read More...]

Progressive Evangelicals and the Pursuit of Social Justice

progressive-evangelicals

I’m delighted to bring you an interview with Brantley Gasaway, who teaches in the religious studies department at Bucknell University. He is the author of a new book Progressive Evangelicals and the Pursuit of Social Justice. We’ve known about each other for many years, ever since we learned we had written dissertations on the same [Read More...]

Advice for the Dismal Academic Job Market

Over at Slate, Rebecca Schuman imagines an awkward scenario from a family gathering, which includes a newly-minted Ph.D.: You’re just making polite conversation, so you ask him: “Want to come visit us next Christmas?” Why on earth did his sallow face just cloud over at your kind and generous offer? Because he has no idea where he’ll be living [Read More...]

Peregrinus and Part-Time Christians

Around the 160s, the Greek satirist Lucian posted on the life and times of one Peregrinus, whom he depicted as a rogue and confidence trickster of dubious sanity. It’s a rollicking story, but one with serious implications for reading and teaching Christian history. According to Lucian’s tendentious account, Peregrinus went through multiple incarnations: as a [Read More...]

How the Federal Council of Churches influenced The Sunday School Times

SST

After twenty-one years of marriage, my wife and I know each other pretty well.  We are in that stage of our relationship where we often know what the other person is thinking in a conversation with a third party and can, at times, finish each other’s sentences.  Often, we find ourselves exclaiming, “that’s exactly what [Read More...]

Graduate Course on the American Revolution

This semester I am teaching a graduate seminar on the American Revolutionary Era. As I have written before, choosing a book list for a graduate course is not as simple as picking 13 to 15 of your favorite books on a topic. When assigning books, I take several factors into account – inexpensive editions (usually [Read More...]

Corinthians and Communists

I posted recently on Friedrich Engels’s On the History of Early Christianity, his 1890s text that actually makes some excellent historical points about the social and political contexts of the early church. On occasion, it’s actually… well, pretty funny. As a historian, Engels had the enormous virtue of moving outside the library, to understand early [Read More...]

Christians and Communists

Engwels-in-later-life

There is an odd but very useful source on early Christianity that remains strangely unfamiliar to many historians of that topic. Even less known is the discussion by a totally unexpected nineteenth century source, which provides many insights that are still valuable. In the late second century, the pagan satirist Lucian wrote the story of [Read More...]


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