THE BONDING A cold and listless season, And full of cheerless cheer, When hopes are raised and dashed again And joy dissolves in tears. The search for endless family The search for one true Friend Leaves questers tired, disconsolate With questions without end. Best find some potent pleasure quick Some superficial thrill Than search for everlasting love When none can fill that bill. So hide yourselves in shopping And eating ‘til you burst, Use endless entertainment As shelter from the… Read more

BEN: The discussion in chapter six about the heavenly tablets in Jubilees and their relationship to the book of life and the book of destruction is especially interesting in light of the discussion in Revelation where we have a warning that some people’s names can be blotted out of the lamb’s book of [everlasting] life, contingent on behavior. It appears that we are being told that while some things seem to be foreordained, one’s eternal destiny is not one of… Read more

I sat by the stream and waited What would float by me? Eventually I got frustrated, Because there was nothing to see. The dull day light was dim And my wits matched that grey As if all life’s colors Had fled, had gone away. The ducks in conversation Themselves seemed subdued, Their brown and dark green feathers Matched the winter hue. Of fields with nothing growing And gardens dormant too Of skies with ominous clouds Not even a hint of… Read more

BEN: In Chapter 5 it becomes clear that early Jews mostly thought that election was conditional, and the condition was faithfulness to the Mosaic covenant and its Law. You quote deSilva approvingly as follows “fidelity to the covenant ensures peace, sin against the covenant brings punishment, and repentance and renewal of obedience leads to restoration.” (p. 150). So only faithful Israelites remain in the covenant relationship and they do so by obedience, by being Torah true, and in that sense… Read more

I just received word from InterVarsity Press that the sales of ‘A Week in the Life of Corinth’ has made it a best seller by religious fiction standards. So, I have to thank the 7,562 of you who bought the paperback of this novella and supported it so well, not to mention the Kindle readers. It will be followed in a year or so by ‘A Week in the Life of Jerusalem’, all about what happened to the Christians trapped… Read more

[The following is a repost of an important summary of a new essay by Walter Ameling, reviewed and summarized by my friend Larry Hurtado. This appeared first on Larry’s Blog on Dec. 2nd] Walter Ameling draws upon epigraphical evidence to consider languages usage in Jewish Palestine in the Hellenistic and Roman periods in a data-rich recent essay: “Epigraphy and the Greek Language in Hellenistic Palestine,” Scripta Classica Israelica 34 (2015): 1-18. The thrust of his study is that from the… Read more

BEN: Chad in this chapter you talk about the ‘limited non-nationalistic understanding of election’ (p. 135) as permeating early Jewish literature. By this I take you to mean that Jews did view themselves as God’s chosen people, but while their ethnic identity was a primary marker of who was chosen, it was not a sufficient one or even always an exclusive one (i.e. even non-Jews, if they became Torah observant and got circumcised could be considered part of the chosen… Read more

Without a doubt, Lindsey Davis is one of the most skilled writers of fiction in recent memory. Her novels are characterized by wit, good historical research (she writes ancient Rome novels set mostly in the first century A.D.),quirky but likable protagonists, and killer plot twists. Mostly, it is her sense of whimsy and rhetorical banter that sets her novels apart from some of her competitors in the field of ancient Roman novels (cf. Saylor, McCullough, Harris). What I especially enjoy… Read more

It was 1977 and I was completing a rather celestial course of studies in theology, philosophy, philology, and other related subjects at Gordon-Conwell Seminary. My NY friend, and sometime roommate, Paul Terry and I decided to go see this new Syfy epic just released— it was called Star Wars. Now you have to understand that Paul was NY skeptical, I won’t say cynical,but nonetheless he was hard to impress. His first word when we left the Danvers Mass. Cinema was… Read more

BEN: One of the greatest difficulties to overcome in trying to get people to see the Bible with ancient rather than modern assumptions, is the problem of modern radical individualism warping the way we read the text. I remember the day I first realized that the you in Philippians was ‘ya’ll’ when Paul says ‘work out ya’lls salvation with fear and trembling for God is working in the midst of ya’ll to will and to do’. That totally changed the… Read more

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