Jesus and Paul were not Literalists when it comes to Genesis 2-3

It is interesting how some modern readers simply assume that ancient individuals and authors shared their supposed literalism, and their focus on facts and history and science, all of which are thoroughly modern concerns. If we look at what Jesus is depicted as saying about Genesis 2 in the Synoptic Gospels, he points to the [Read More...]

Did Jesus Foresee, Plan, and/or Interpret His Own Death?

Did Jesus foresee his own death coming and interpret it beforehand? The opinions on this tend to be divided largely into two camps: conservative Christians who will say “Of course Jesus knew, he was God,” and others, including historians, who will say that, while Jesus might well have suspected that he might meet a fate [Read More...]

Approaching Scripture as Jesus Did

Morgan Guyton has an excellent post on what should be the Christian approach to Scripture, namely approaching it as Jesus himself approached it. And so he takes Jesus’ Sabbath healing, and his principle that “the Sabbath was made for human beings, and not human beings for the Sabbath” as a criterion by which to evaluate [Read More...]

“Folks Haven’t Been Reading Their Bibles” – Barack Obama on Religion and Public Policy

  Someone made the above quote from then senator Barack Obama into a poster. It illustrates what those who are intimately acquainted with the Bible and its interpretation see clearly, but religious fundamentalists less familiar with their own Scriptures often miss, namely that it is not at all straightforward to derive a clear set of [Read More...]

A Guide to Dealing with Inconvenient Bible Passages

Stephen Savage shared this with me on Facebook:   Ouch! Satire is most effective when it hits painfully close to home. Does this seem to get things about right to you?   As a liberal Christian, I think it is better to honestly disagree with the Bible, than to engage in the selective Biblicism that [Read More...]

The Disciples’ Field Trip

The theme of yesterday’s service at my church was the story in Mark 2:23-28. My wife referred to it as Jesus taking the disciples on a “field trip”  - literally! – since the story is set in a field. The story is often viewed as implausible, being understood to envisage Pharisees hanging around fields in [Read More...]

Same Data, Different Interpretations?

It is a common claim of young-earth creationists that they are looking at the same data as mainstream scientists, and merely interpreting it differently. But in actual fact, reality, with its hard facts, has a way of changing our minds even when we are determined to interpret things differently. And so I share this more [Read More...]

Why is the Futurist Interpretation of Revelation so Popular?

Last Sunday in my Sunday school class, we continued to explore general and introductory topics related to the Book of Revelation, which we’re planning on studying over the course of the next several months. A question I posed is why, in view of the evidence to the contrary in the Book of Revelation itself, the [Read More...]

Talpiot Tombs and New Testament Historical Criticism

A piece I wrote, expanding on my thoughts about the relationship between the recent claims regarding the Talpiot tombs on the one hand, and New Testament historical criticism on the other, has appeared on the ASOR blog. Click through to read it. [Read more...]

Genesis 1-3 on How to Interpret Genesis 1-3

As Evolution Weekend draws near, many of us will be taking some time to address matters related to evolution in our religious communities. Here are a diagram and a cartoon, as well as some links and other resources, that I think are useful on this occasion. First, RJS at Jesus Creed wrote a post which [Read More...]

Quote of the Day (Andrew Perriman)

“This is the problem—one of the problems—that the modern church has with reading the Bible. Very often what we mean when we affirm the clarity or perspicuity of scripture is that we can see the immediate details, we can understand the isolated verse or paragraph. The human mind is extremely adept at making apparent sense of [Read More...]