The End of Prophecy

If you open the Old Testament at random, the chances are that you will find yourself reading in one or other of the prophets. Those prophets, who worked chiefly between the eighth century BC and the sixth, were clearly a major feature of Israelite religion, and they have been exhaustively studied. In recent years, a [Read More...]

Peopling the Biblical World

The Biblical world at various eras is probably the most intensely studied society in human history. Just how many books, for instance, have been written about Palestine in the time of Jesus? Despite all that work, though, we still have major areas of ignorance about such a basic issue as population. If we look at [Read More...]

Sporadic Charismatic

Quite by accident, I have stumbled across an excellent tool for scholarly analysis. My source is the comic strip ZITS, by Jim Borgman and Jerry Scott, which focuses on the teenager Jeremy and his permanently exasperated parents. It is so agonizingly realistic that it must be based on a writer’s personal experience of parenthood. In [Read More...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

Bill Hamblin: End of Debate?

Bill Hamblin is presently not saying much in our continuing debate. Frankly, I am pretty much done with the whole thing, and plan to end my contributions to the exchanges, unless he specifically makes any statements demanding a direct response. For me, the whole Book of Mormon thing is about historical methodology, rather than that [Read More...]

The Persian Package

I have posted frequently about the major change that occurs within Judaism in the two centuries or so before the time of Christ: the major growth of belief in angels, Satan, a Last Judgment, the Messiah (or messiahs) and generally a strongly Dualist world-view. These are all ideas that we see well represented in the [Read More...]