Did Medieval Christians Accommodate Paganism?

The Roman Pantheon is awesome. And I mean “awesome” in the sense that my good-English-professor-friend would approve: it evokes feelings of awe and wonder. I caught my first glimpse of this 2000 year-old building after stepping from a stone-paved street into the Piazza della Rotonda. We were on our way back from the Roman Forum and, [Read More…]

The New United States: A “Christian Nation”?

Politicians and pop history writers squabble endlessly about whether America was founded as a “Christian nation.” Skeptics routinely point to the 1796 Treaty of Tripoli, in which American officials declared that “the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion” and “has in itself no character [Read More…]

War, Faith and Superstition

This year, we are of course commemorating the centennial of the First World War, and specifically the titanic battles of Verdun and the Somme. My 2014 book The Great and Holy War discusses the religious aspects of the war, but one thing that really struck me about that theme was the very large range of [Read More…]

The Messiah, the Prince

I recently blogged on the many and various ways in which translators subtly (and usually unconsciously) change the meaning of a text by capitalization and punctuation. Here is an illustration that seems quite powerful to me. Around 170 BC, the former high priest Onias III was murdered as a result of intrigues within the Jerusalem [Read More…]

American Colonial History

In today’s post I am talking with fellow Anxious Bench blogger, Baylor University historian, and prolific author Thomas Kidd about his new book, American Colonial History: Clashing Cultures and Faiths. His previous books include biographies of George Whitefield and Patrick Henry and a history of the Great Awakening. JT: You write that two major themes organize American [Read More…]

Food Rules and Habituated Practice

Last week I described an “eating exercise” meant to encourage my students to think historically about the industrialization of food. It seemed to work well. Several of my students pointed out that not everything that is  technologically “advanced” is better. One wrote, “Compared to historical eating, modern eating is over-processed, over-sized, and over-consumed. We eat [Read More…]

Who Is the Mormon Jesus?

In today’s post I am talking with Anxious Bench blogger and George Mason professor John Turner about his new book, The Mormon Jesus: A Biography. John has written previous books on Brigham Young, and on Campus Crusade for Christ. TK: Your book is called The Mormon Jesus. What do Mormons actually believe about Jesus? Has that view [Read More…]

On Theology and Wild Boar

This post will not be about Easter bunnies, but it will be about animals. In the Christian tradition, animals possess a rich symbolic significance. Ask most Christians whether they would prefer being a goat or sheep in the eyes of the Lord and you will quickly baa-baa. From Genesis through Revelation, animals are regularly invoked [Read More…]

The Curse of Capitals and the Theology of Punctuation

I have invented a new discipline, the Theology of Punctuation. I am presently writing a book about the couple of centuries preceding Jesus’s time, and over the past year or two I have written quite a few blogs about issues relating to that topic. One of the persistent problems I have relates to capitals and [Read More…]

Stephen H. Webb

Two weeks ago, prolific American theologian Stephen H. Webb died. For a beautiful tribute, see this essay. I knew Stephen because we read and reviewed each other’s books. About five years ago or so, I was sitting in the Dallas airport waiting for a flight to a conference. Whenever I’m going to a conference, I [Read More…]


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