The Bible— Part Three

It is always hard to know what to leave in, or leave out, of a film on the whole Bible. In this third episode we get part of the tale of Jeremiah and Nebuchadnezzar carting Jews off into Babylonian exile. The real focus of the first hour is on Daniel, and here finally, the story telling become becomes more apt and ept, and worth watching. We get both the fiery furnace and the lion's den episodes decently portrayed without melodrama. After all, the story in itself is dramatic enough. And … [Read more...]

The Odds of Oz

It's a difficult thing to do a prequel to a classic like the Wizard of Oz. Look for instance at the critique of Peter Jackson's handling of the Hobbit. Frank Baum's body of work was creative enough to warrant doing a prequel, rather than trying either a re-do of a classic (its already been done, even as a musical with Michael Jackson--- the Wiz)or a sequel. On the whole then, no matter how much hype, it would be difficult indeed for Disney to pull off a blockbuster prequel, and this film is not … [Read more...]

Egyptian Idol

Egyptians were polytheists when they encountered Hebrew and then Christian culture. They had many gods, and made many images of the many gods. Above you will see a collection of some of amazing variety of small deity statues of Anubis and Osiris and various other deities, carved in alabaster or lapis lazuli or jade and other stones. Of course if you look closely you will also find carvings of Pharaohs as well. Of the many failings of the whole Zeitgeist approach to ancient religions, one of the … [Read more...]

And God Created…..

One of my all time favorite sculptors of the 'Impressionist' era is Rodin. I highly recommend a visit to the special museum of his work in Paris, but failing that, you can go to the Met and see a great deal. This particular image is of God fashioning Adam.Above is another favorite in the courtyard of the museum in Paris--- namely the Gates of Hell.... When we think Impressionists we often think Monet or Manet or Van Gogh, in short painters. But there was much more to the movement than … [Read more...]

Die like an Egyptian

Egyptian funerary art is something pretty special. In the arid climate of Egypt, the pictures painted on the lids of sarcophagi are sometimes very well preserved, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art has a nice collection of such funerary art. What is especially interesting about this practice is that it dates to the Greco-Roman period, specifically to the period just before and during the NT era. Take for example the last of these paintings above. It dates to 100-150 A.D. and is painted in … [Read more...]

The Role of Music in Writing

One of the more frequent questions I get asked, after having written 40 books and hundreds of other forms of written communication, is--- How do you do it? They ask me about schedules, how much I sleep, how many research assistants I have (n.b. I have never had any really), and so on. My answer is severalfold, but here I want to concentrate on two things that at least in my case help. Since I have previously spoken to the issue of developing a good writing style, by stressing the necessity of … [Read more...]

An Easter Film for Pastors and Leaders

Any pastors or small group leaders out there looking for something to help them with their Easter message or study might consider the following film:It comes from a company called Rhemedia, which says that it makes "premium narrative films for use in sermons, classes, groups or devotionals." … [Read more...]

Habemus Papem– We Have a Pope

Whether or not one is a Catholic or not, the naming of a Pope is a big moment for all Christians everywhere. After all, there are 1.196 billion Catholics in the world according to the Pontifical Factbook from last year. And of course the Catholic Church is at a crucial juncture, what with the sexual scandals and financial scandals, and the big concern that there are not enough priests, not least because of the celibacy requirement. The interviews in Vatican square had a theme--- we need a Pope … [Read more...]

Paul and the Heritage of Israel– Part Eight

Perhaps for the first time in this whole volume, Jens Schroter in his article on "Paul the Founder of the Church" provides a rationale for the title of the volume in saying "The Acts of the Apostles and the Pastoral Epistles belong to a trajectory of early Christianity committed to the heritage of Paul's mission and theology." (p. 195). As I have already said, there is a reason to connect those two sets of documents, the middle term being Luke, but if the Pastorals are ultimately from Paul they … [Read more...]