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...]

C.S. Lewis, Public Intellectual

This week’s post is a review I wrote of Alister McGrath’s C.S. Lewis: A Life, from the Anxious Bench archives: Alister McGrath’s C.S. Lewis: A Life comes with endorsements from Eric Metaxas, Timothy Keller, N.T. Wright, and perhaps most weightily given the topic, from my Baylor colleague Alan Jacobs, who calls it “a meticulously researched, insightful, fair-minded, and honest [Read More...]

Enoch’s Angels

At some point in Jewish history, texts began referring to angels with specific names like Gabriel or Michael, and that trend reflects a basic shift in concepts of the supernatural hierarchy. That shift is significant itself in terms of the history of Western religion, but it particularly matters for anyone interested in early (or medieval) [Read More...]

The Church Vanishes, Part Deux

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I’m doing a little math, and the consequences are troubling. My own Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) just released its annual statistics, showing a rate of decline that would be truly amazing if it were at all unexpected. Between 2012 and 2013, the denomination’s membership fell by 1.4 percent, to 1.87 million, while Average Sunday Attendance [Read More...]

Naming Angels

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“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee.” Angels are a lively presence in the New Testament. Jesus himself referred to them on many occasions, and the evangelist Luke reports that Jesus’s birth was foretold by an angel with a specific name, Gabriel. Named angels [Read More...]

The Lost Book of Mormon

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There are not very many contemporary accounts of Mormonism in which the author is expelled from the Hill Cumorah Pageant. Avi Steinberg was not passing out illicit evangelical tracts to audience members, nor was he smoking pot behind the LDS Visitors Center. Instead, he was rehearsing for the show under an assumed name. “Like a [Read More...]

Progressive Evangelicals and the Pursuit of Social Justice (Part II)

This is Part II of an interview with Brantley Gasaway, author of a just-released book entitled Progressive Evangelicals and the Pursuit of Social Justice. If you order it now, you should get a copy in the next couple of weeks. *** Swartz: You orient the mission of progressive evangelicals around the concept of a “public [Read More...]

Does the Bible Prohibit Revolution?

My graduate students and I recently read James Byrd’s terrific Sacred Scripture, Sacred War: The Bible and the American Revolution. This book is a treasure trove of information about how the Patriots and Loyalists actually used the Bible during the Revolution. The most surprising fact I learned from the book is that Romans 13 – in [Read More...]


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