Words Cannot Describe

I thought I would make a meme from a question I asked someone in a theological conversation: how do we assess the relative adequacy of language used to refer to God, when all human language is inadequate? [Read more…]

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Mythicism and Mysticism

Mythicism has done a pretty good job of spreading the idea that all the information Paul and others had about Jesus was gleaned from visions. That claim doesn’t fit the evidence. We certainly do have evidence that the genre of the apocalyptic vision was popular among Christians as among other Jews. But that is a literary [Read More…]

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#CFP: Encountering the Unexpected

The Religion Graduate Organization invites you to submit paper and panel proposals to the semi-annual Religion Graduate Conference, Encountering the Unexpected: Glitches, (Dis)placements, and Marginalia. This conference actively encourages interdisciplinary discussions about unexpected encounters in the field and in the archives. Specifically, this conference aims to explore surprise occurrences in academic work when ideas, texts, people, and [Read More…]

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That’s Not Kabbalah

Anyone familiar with Jewish mysticism will get why I thought for a moment that it was. And anyone who has to deal with America’s non-metric measuring system will find this guide to that confusing mystical realm helpful. Via Neil Carter on Facebook. [Read more…]

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Nones and Mystics

There have been nuns who have been mystics. But that’s not what this is about. It has been common for religious freethinkers of various types to be labeled atheists by their religious opponents, and then claimed as such by atheists as well. But in many instances, these individuals are spiritual and may not sit comfortably in the [Read More…]

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Only God

When my pastor recently did a sermon series about controversial topics, I initially wanted to write songs that explored each theme. It soon became clear that that was not a realistic goal. But having found that there were few songs actually about monotheism, and that subject being a scholarly research interest of mine, I did take a stab [Read More…]

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The Gospel of John as Jewish Mystical Work

One of the features of the new Bible Odyssey website is that it lets you ask a scholar your questions. Someone submitted the question through the site, “Is the Gospel of John a Jewish mystic work?” I was invited to provide the answer, and here is what I wrote: It is appropriate to note that [Read More…]

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Transtheistic Numinalism

April DeConick continues her quest for the perfect word for a particular kind of religion, one that emphasizes the inability of the human mind to grasp the divine reality that is its focus, and the comparable inability of human words and images to do justice to the ultimate. Her latest post on the topic proposed [Read More…]

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Poetry is Sane

Via Billy Kangas, who also shares a link to Chesterton's book Orthodoxy, the source of the quote, free for Kindle.   [Read more…]

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I Am The Walrus/Logos

Roger Wolsey shared some thoughts about Jesus as yogi. His starting point, unsurprisingly, was the Gospel of John, ch.17, where Jesus is depicted as praying, and even after acknowledging the distinction between the only true God and himself as the one God sent, he then goes on to blur the two in mystical interrelatedness, so [Read More…]

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Al-Hallaj and the Johannine Jesus

Dustin Smith has continued posting a transcript from when he recently interviewed me. Unfortunately, one of the points looks like it lost something in the recording or summarization process. And since it relates to a potential thesis topic, I thought I’d say more about it here. There was a Sufi mystic, Abu al-Mughith al-Husayn ibn [Read More…]

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