Gospel Doctrine Lesson 47: Ezra 1–8; Nehemiah 1–2; 4; 6; 8

Cyrus Cylinder in the British Museum. Image from Prioryman.

Ezra and Nehemiah originally constituted one book, so it works to treat them together. Let’s review the timeframe and story here.586- Babylonian destruction of Temple, the walls of Jerusalem, and beginning of the Exile to Babylon. Although it is probably a more complex issue, this event, in my mind at least, constitutes the historical dividing line between “Israelites” and “Jews.” The events of the Exile change the culture and religion, pushing it to develop in the direction we see afterward … [Read more...]

Gospel Doctrine Lesson 46: Daniel 2

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Today we focus on Daniel 2, a vision.  The story goes like this.In King Nebuchadnezzar's 2nd year, he has a dream. (According to Daniel 1:1-2, Daniel and friends don't get carried off until Neb's third year, although they're present here.) Either he can't remember what it was (like many of us) or he's being unreasonable. Either way, he demands all his wise men tell him both the dream itself, and the interpretation. When they can't, he wants them all killed for incompetence. Daniel hears ab … [Read more...]

Santa Claus is Canaanite! Really.

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I've plugged Biblical Archaeology Review before, a great magazine (with pictures!) aimed at interested laypeople.  It used to have a sister-magazine called Bible Review, but then they were folded together so that BAR now deals with texts, history, and archaeology of the Bible. It's scholarly, includes multiple perspectives, and the letters to the editor are illustrative and amusing.One of my favorites was written by William H.C. Propp, a Jewish scholar of the Hebrew Bible at UCSD. I spent an … [Read more...]

Gospel Doctrine Lesson 45: Daniel 1,3,6 AND Esther 3-5, 7-8.

Four in the Furnace, by Ted Larson

Today we are (sigh) covering Daniel AND Esther, although next week is devoted solely to Daniel 2. What's interesting is how the comparison between Daniel and Esther actually serves the manual's purpose, which is to "help class members have the courage to live according to gospel standards." How so? Daniel doesn’t hide his Jewishness, even being a bit extravagant, while Esther is apparently able to pass, to fly under the radar as a non-Jew. Significant, perhaps, that "noticeably absent [in Es … [Read more...]

Recommended NT Resources Part 3

(Cross-posted at Times&Seasons.) First, Amazon is offering 30% off any book you buy for the next two days. Great time to pick up that hardcover Jewish Study Bible,  Jewish Annotated New Testament, NRSV, or similar "expensive" hardcover you can't get otherwise. Amazon link.Short list.This was really hard to put together, much more than my OT list.  … [Read more...]

Reflecting Back, Looking Forward- The Blog after One Year

The year is nearly over. As I look back, the struggle to write these out in a clear way on a weekly basis has been a challenge at times, but one that I think has been mutually beneficial. Writing is a great exercise. Sometimes it's been hard to boil down or select from all the material I have, other times (coughIsaiahcoughcough), it's been hard to generate enough new and useful material for posts. My goal has been to spread enthusiasm, knowledge of resources, understanding of the Old Testament, … [Read more...]

Gospel Doctrine Lesson 44: Ezekiel 43, 44, 47

Ezekiel's temple

Just as the Book of Ezekiel opened with a cryptic vision (1:1 "the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God..., wheel within wheel") so too does it close with one. The final eight chapters, 40-48, constitute one long vision of a different sort than the first. Ezekiel is now fifty (the prescribed year of retirement for priests, according to Lev 4:3), and has spent half his life in Babylon, among a foreign language, culture, and religion. As a former priest, he is very familiar with temple … [Read more...]

Gospel Doctrine Lesson 43: Ezekiel 18, 34, 37.

Parental Advisotry

Up until this point, prophets have largely been northern or southern. Ezekiel is the first of the classical prophets to be prophesying in Babylon. Ezekiel is a priest, or was, before he was forcibly removed to Babylon at age 25, in c. 597/6 BCE.  After being in Babylon five years, Ezekiel receives his calling as a prophet to preach to the exiles, and the temple is destroyed roughly five years later (587/6 BCE). Ezekiel records it in chapter 24. In the ninth year, in the tenth month, on the t … [Read more...]