Reading and Writing in Jesus’ World— Was he an Illiterate Peasant? Part Two


It is a too little known fact that Greek speakers were everywhere to be found in the world of Jesus. For example, take the coastal towns in Israel---Gaza, Azotus,Ascalon,Joppa, Dor. All of these cities were largely populated by Greek speakers, including Greek speaking Jews. Herod settled his foreign veterans in the town of Gaba northeast of Mt. Carmel and rebuilt Strato's Tower on the coast. Samaria, the town, became a Greek city when Alexander settled some of his mustered out Macedonian … [Read more...]

Reading and Writing in Herodian Israel– Was Jesus an Illiterate Peasant? Part One


There is an awful lot of loose talk, and pontificating on the basis of loose talk when it comes to the issue of Jesus' social level, and his ability to read or write or whether he could have been multi-lingual. Sometimes the discussion is even based on irrelevant data--- for example the fact that Galilee was not inhabited by scads of Gentiles (see Mark Chancey's fine monograph on how Gentile was Galilee). The ethnic makeup of Galilee is frankly irrelevant to the issue of whether Greek was used … [Read more...]

Latinisms, Western Diction, and the Provenance of Mark’s Gospel


Sometime ago, my good friend and colleague Richard Bauckham wrote an intriguing book entitled The Gospel for all Christians. Actually the book began as an essay, but in any case the thesis of the book was that the Gospels were not written, or were not just written, for some specific target audience, but for a broad group of Christian churches.Richard and I discussed this, and in due course he allowed that maybe the Gospels were written for both a specific local audience and also with one eye … [Read more...]

Trick or Treat— How to Fix Congress


The following is the suggestion of Mssr. Warren Buffett, but I happen to think it is a good idea. See what you think.....*Congressional Reform Act of 2011*_1. No Tenure / No Pension.A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they're out of office.2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow … [Read more...]

Closing the Book on Jobs


 10 years ago the USA had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope, and Johnny Cash.Now they have no Jobs, no Hope, and no Cash. … [Read more...]

The Beauty of Baseball


Let's be honest.  The most popular game in America these days is brutal. I'm talking about the incessantly broadcast game of professional football, a game, as they say 'won in the trenches', a term borrowed from WWI and the Maginot line. Today instead it is the offensive or defensive line. Yes, there are thrilling plays in football--- elegantly arched passes to diving receivers, runners weaving their way through traffic heading for the endzone. But most of the actual play on the football … [Read more...]

The Interloper


On lime stones we’d laid The chipmunk sat erect His beady brown eye watched me Wondering what to expectWhile he devoured a nut His teeth worked at warp speed He sat oh so still Satisfying his need.The creek kept on flowing Behind the barrier wall The chipmunk did not notice Its rise or its fall.The ducks kept on laughing Beating their wings in the stream The sun kept on shining But the day ran out of steam.There is stillness in the motion And silence in the sound Of … [Read more...]

Moses’ Blessing


The following is a post by the pastor of my home church Myers Park UMC and my friend, James Howell.In 1979, archaeologists made a startling discovery: a pair of tiny, delicate, beautiful scrolls, both just 1 inch wide, and 4 inches long, crafted of silver, dated to the time of Jeremiah and Isaiah! The words etched on the scrolls were the memorable verses from Numbers, chapter 6:The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord … [Read more...]

The Wane in the Main(line) without Refrain


Duke Professor Mark Chaves has been tracking trends in American religion for some long time now, and in his recent study "American Religion: Contemporary Trends" he concludes that over the last generation there has been a 'softening' in American commitment to traditional Judaeo-Christian religion.This 'softening' is said to affect everything from whether people feel like they ought to go to worship, to whom they are prepared to marry, to how they identify themselves if asked religious … [Read more...]