MERCY – SHUT UP!

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Easter is a time for sober reflection on matters of death and Resurrection, and not, one would think, an occasion for humor. Throughout history, though, some Christians at least – including major cultural figures – have so relished the news of Christ’s triumph that they cannot contain their glee in declaring the good news. Without [Read More...]

MARK’S ENDING

The final chapter of John’s gospel reports the risen Christ meeting his disciples at the Sea of Galilee. I suggested that this might in fact have been the oldest version of the Resurrection story, predating the more famous encounter of Jesus and Mary Magdalene in the Jerusalem garden. Some scholars have also raised the possibility [Read More...]

THE EMPTY TOMB

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Beyond debate, the Christian church was founded on Christ’s Resurrection. What can surprise though is how interpretations of that event differ even within the New Testament itself. As I think over these ideas, I’d like to state an issue, and ask for a response. And I really am asking: this is not a rhetorical question. [Read More...]

THEY GATHERED AROUND A COAL FIRE

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In this coming Easter season, I will be thinking of coal fires, anthrax, and anthracite. The coal fires, especially, are critical to our understanding of the New Testament accounts of the Resurrection. Like all good fires, they shed light – specifically, on how the Gospel of John was composed and edited. Let me explain those [Read More...]

THE CHASM OF HISTORY

When scholars look at the Bible, or any other ancient religious work, they are well used to the idea of traditions and legends building up over time, as stories are retold. The assumption is that, the further we stand from a historical event, the more embellished it becomes, and that is generally a reasonable statement.  [Read More...]

COUNTING THE WAYS

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Early Christians referred to their movement as The Way, Hodos. No later than the early second century, the converts’ manual that we call the Didache, the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, began by declaring that “There are two Ways [Hodoi], one of Life and one of Death, and there is a great difference between the [Read More...]

THE WAY TO TRANSLATE

For some years now, I have found it hard to read the New Testament in English alone. Now, don’t think I’m showing off there. My Greek is no better than OK, and a parallel text is really, really, useful. The problem is that, the more you read the text in the Greek original, you realize [Read More...]

EUROPE AND AFRICA

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Largely through the missionary efforts of the day, early modern Europeans had quite extensive awareness of a much wider world. I stress the religious context because even some of the political and diplomatic contacts with distant realms owed much to missionary efforts, with Jesuits much in prominence as intermediaries. Some recent art exhibits have provided [Read More...]

A WIDER WORLD

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I have been posting about how contemporary visual materials can be used to reflect the experience of Christian missionary history, with all its implications for globalization. Some of these materials are quite striking. For the Protestant world, the great age of missionary expansion only began at the end of the eighteenth century. The Catholic experience, [Read More...]

PAINTING FRANCIS XAVIER

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I posted about the art of mission, the ways in which Euro-American Christians visualized the missionary efforts under way in Africa and Asia. Those pictures give a fine insight into the ideology of mission, helping us understand what believers in that age thought they were trying to accomplish. We find some superb examples of that [Read More...]


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