The Infancy Narratives– the Pope on Jesus’ Origins, Part One

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We have already previously reviewed on this blog Pope Benedict's two very substantial books on Jesus of Nazareth (see the archives for 2011). Now on the wheels of those two books comes a very slender but substantive treatment of the 'infancy narratives'. Though it is only 144 pages, it is far from insubstantial, and has become a best seller since it came out in November. As I have said before Josef Ratzinger is a classically trained theologian and exegete. He is perhaps unique in all of papal … [Read more...]

Sola Scriptura Redux–What Does it Really Mean?

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(This is a reposting of a blog post I wrote some years ago for Beliefnet).One of the battle cries of the Reformation, responding to, among other things, all sorts of Catholic traditions which are not seen as Scriptural in character, was ‘sola Scriptura’— Scripture alone. It was often coupled with sola gratia and sola fide— only by grace, and only by faith. The latter two are separate issues from Sola Scriptura however, and this post is only about the latter.Let us start by noting the hi … [Read more...]

Struck from Behind— a Pastor’s Reflections on Ministry

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James Howell has been a good friend of mine for decades. We are both clergy ordained in the western N.C. conference of the UMC and he has been my family's pastor at Myers Park UMC for many years. Now, as he reaches the zenith of his ministerial career, he has taken time to reflect about life and ministry in Struck from Behind. My Memories of God (Cascade, 2012). 1)First of all I loved this personal memoir, and it is well written, often eloquent. How much writing and rewriting was … [Read more...]

Manhunt!—- Zero Dark Thirty

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Black Hawk, black ops, black night, black deeds. The cover of darkness. The color of darkness. The character of death.Zero Dark Thirty is without question most of the riveting manhunt movies ever made. It has the sort of gritty reality character we have become accustomed to with films like Saving Private Ryan. And full marks to Kathyrn Bigelow who does not race through the painstaking intelligence and detective work in order to arrive at the foreknown and foreordained conclusion. … [Read more...]

Promised Land—– As Promised

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Promised Land is Matt Damon's most recent film, and is in fact a project of a rising star, John Krasinski. It also features Francis McDormand and the inimitable Hal Holbrook who once again graces the screen with a beautiful supporting role performance. With this sort of cast you would expect some good performances and these actors do not disappoint. The movie is quite fast-paced and it's done before you know it (1 hour and 46 minutes later). There is no filler here, no dead spots.The … [Read more...]

The Craft of History and the Study of the NT— Part Two

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Here is the second part of my dialogue with my friend and colleague Beth Sheppard.4) One of the things I hear regularly from folks like Bart Ehrman is that a true modern critical historian must bracket out the whole notion of the miraculous, which of course leaves large chunks of the NT in the lurch since the miraculous is on almost every page of the Gospels and Acts, and is found elsewhere in the NT as well. Do you think it is necessary to ignore or dismiss the miraculous in order to be a … [Read more...]

The Craft of History and the Study of the NT– Part One

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Let me say right out of the gate that this book by Dr. Beth Sheppard (published last Fall by the SBL), a NT professor and research librarian at Duke, is essential reading for anyone who cares about the historical matters that the NT presents to us. It is an eye-opening and rather comprehensive guide to: 1) the task of historians (including modern ones); 2) the methods of historians; 3) the philosophical presuppositions and under-pinnings of modern historiography; 4) how to thinking critically … [Read more...]

Les Mis—- the Movie. On Further Review

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Many years ago, when I was in high school I read Victor Hugo's famous novel Les Miserables. Then about ten or so years ago I saw the musical in the West End in London. And now comes the movie. First it should be said that unlike Django and various other non-Christmas movies, Les Miserables is a very appropriate movie to release on Christmas. Both the novel and the musical are deeply rooted in Christian themes and ideas as even those who are not all that familiar with Christianity can … [Read more...]

Cover her Face— P.D. James’s First Novel

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The official introduction to P.D. James on Amazon is daunting.... it reads as follows:"P.D. James was born in Oxford in 1920 and educated at Cambridge High School. Widely acknowledged as "the greatest contemporary writer of classic crime" (The London Sunday Times), she has written twenty books and been awarded major prizes for her crime writing in Great Britain, America, Italy, and Scandinavia. After 30 years in the civil service, including a senior position in the Police and Criminal … [Read more...]


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