Reading and Understanding the Bible– A Guide for the Perplexed

Every student of the Bible at some point has ended up scratching his or her head over some passage, and saying--- What?????? Usually, this problem is created by one of two factors: 1) the failure to understand what kind of literature one is reading, hence bringing various mistaken notions and expectations to the text, and 2) the failure to understand the considerable cultural differences between the Biblical cultures and our own modern ones. In this new guide for interpreting the Bible we … [Read more...]

Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not: Part Five

AN INTERVIEW WITH SCOT MCKNIGHTBen: It appears that the purpose of this book was to offer a certain tempering of the recent rhetoric about the anti-imperial rhetoric found in the NT? Yes? Yes, in part, but only because both Joe and I thought the entire issue was getting out of hand. We didn’t, however, actually know all that much about what the individual authors in the volume thought about all the issues. We wanted an even-handed analysis of the evidence being used for a … [Read more...]

The Bible and Science— Some Reflections

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Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not— Part Four

One of the obvious growth areas in the study of the Gospels is the study of Matthew as a possible vehicle of anti-imperial rhetoric, largely due to the voluminous output on the subject by Warren Carter (20 articles and more). In the chapter by Joel Willits on Matthew he interacts with various of the major points Carter and others have been making about Matthew. On the surface of things, Matthew seems an unlikely candidate for anti-imperial rhetoric, being not only the Gospel that gives us … [Read more...]

Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not— Part Three

The article by Judith Diehl (pp. 38-81, the longest article in the book) is a condensation of several survey articles she has done on the subject of the NT and the Imperial Cult. It is a very useful piece of summarizing and evaluating, but it has some surprising lacunae-- for example where is the treatment of Chris Bryan's important Render unto Caesar book? Nevertheless, you can't cover everything in one Reader's Digest sort of article, and what it does give us, including the biblio is … [Read more...]

Jesus is Lord and Caesar is Not— Part Two

The first two articles in this volume are of the nature of survey articles, which is a good thing for readers unfamiliar with the topic of 'The NT and the Imperial Cult'. We will summarize a few of the major points made by David Nystrom and discuss them in this post and do the same for the second article by Judith Diehl in the next post. One of the nice features about this book is that the chapters do not go on forever (contrast Tom Wright's recent tome) and the writing is clear and to the … [Read more...]

You Be— ‘The Judge’ a year where decent, never mind good movies are few and far between (indeed this may be the worst year in a half century for movies) those of us who love the silver screen are prepared to accept pretty good. And 'the Judge' as it turns out, is better than pretty good, because it has outstanding actors in it, playing believable parts. I'm on record as saying I would watch Robert Duvall play Queen Elizabeth if he tried it. He is a national … [Read more...]

Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not– Part One

In the past several decades, one of the major trends in the evaluation of the NT has been the study of its contents in relationship to the rising tide of the Emperor cult during the first century A.D. On the surface of things, such a comparison seems promising because Jesus and one or another of the Emperors were the only actual historical figures of the era who came to be worshiped only shortly after their deaths, or in the case of some of the Emperors, even before their deaths. As is true … [Read more...]

Staring into the Valley of the Shadow

We are standing across from St. George's monastery high above Jericho, and looking at the valley of the shadow while I read Psalm 23, next to the cross tower. Notice that the cross stands tall and I stand small, which is as it should be. At least my attire blends with the color of the tower :) Thanks to Aussie friend Caleb for the picture! BW3 … [Read more...]