Messiahs by the Sackful

Some timely thoughts for Holy Week! In Jesus Christ Superstar, a mocking Pilate complains that “You Jews produce messiahs by the sackful!” Most popular histories take it for granted that Jewish thought was dominated by the eager expectation of a messiah, who would be an individual man, and the main debate concerned the nature of [Read More...]

In Search of the Fall

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The two centuries or so before Jesus’s time were a wildly productive era in terms of Jewish thought. It is in this time for instance that we find the full development of such ideas as Satan and angels, the afterlife and the apocalypse. I have been pursuing one concept in particular that would have enormous [Read More...]

The Devil’s Progress

I remarked that Satan is difficult to trace in the canonical Old Testament, but that he becomes prominent in later centuries, in the so-called Inter-Testamental period (a phrase I hate, but let that pass). Moving the diabolical story forward to 200BC, we are clearly entering a different world, and the volume of material is impressive. [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 FISHY FUME, AND THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN CULTURE

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I recently wrote about how Deuterocanonical books like Judith, Tobit, and Maccabees dropped out of the Protestant consciousness, and why they need to be rediscovered. One excellent argument is the astonishing influence that these books have had on Christian writers and artists. If we do not know the books, we miss the meaning of a [Read More...]


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