When Jehovah Was Not the God of the Old Testament. Part II

As the very name Israel might indicate on account of its theophoric element el (אל), it appears that the chief god worshiped in earliest Israel was El, the chief god of the Canaanite pantheon in the Late Bronze Age.  The god El has been revealed most clearly to the modern inquirer through the discovery of the Ugaritic texts at Tel Ras Shamra in 1929, a flourishing kingdom-city-state on the Syrian coast during the second half of the second millennium B.C.E.[1] As biblical tradition affirms as re … [Read more...]

Does the Old Testament Teach Absolute Monotheism? Part I

Introduction: Was Ancient Israel Monotheistic? Western Society is perhaps more indebted to the Hebrew Bible than to any other book, and arguably the most famous teaching associated with the Hebrew Bible is that of absolute monotheism.  This position famously affirms that there is only one god in existence and no other(s).  For example, Deuteronomy 6:4, known as the Shema, has often been cited since antiquity as supporting this understanding of monotheism.[1] It declares, “Listen, O Israel, YHWH … [Read more...]

Discussion and Implications of the New Perspective(s) on Paul (NPP)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is God's power for salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first, as well as the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith(fullness) for faith(fullness), as it has been written, '(and) the Righteous One/righteous will live through faith(fullness).'  -Romans 1.16-17 [1] Few passages in the New Testament have elicited more debate throughout the centuries than Romans 1.16-17 and its explanatory corollary passages in Romans 3 … [Read more...]

Insights from Names of Deity

Rabbinic commentators have sought to better understand the nature of God by exploring the implications and origins of his name. Michael Fishbane writes in Rabbinic Myth and Mythmaking (Oxford University Press, 2003): In the context of an explanation of why the 'dry land' (yabashah) is called 'eretz ('earth') in Gen 1:10, we are told that the primordial earth was an obedient creation of God's, and ceased to extend when He 'said' so. This compliance is strikingly forumated by an exegetical play on … [Read more...]

The Halakic Jesus

John Meier's fourth volume of A Marginal Jew came out last spring, and is focused on placing the historical Jesus within the Jewish Law of his time. The title of his introductory chapter, "The Historical Jesus is the Halakic Jesus," is an excellent summary of his thesis, and as he says later, "The historical Jewish Jesus must be seen as a Jesus immersed in the halakic discussions, debates, and actual practice of 1st-century Palestinian Jews." The word halaka (Hebrew for "walking," "conduct," … [Read more...]

Child Sacrifice, A Traditional Religious Practice in Ancient Israel?

Scholars continue to debate a number of important issues concerning the nature of human (child) sacrifices in the ancient Near East, including the origins of the rite, to whom these sacrifices were intended, and by whom they were performed.  A number of books dedicated to the topic have appeared in recent years,[1] and many scholarly books pertaining to the history of Israelite religions have included discussions of these issues as well.[2] Especially vexing as pertains to the biblical material … [Read more...]

The Mormon Rawls Project: The Original Position and the Council in Heaven I

Authors note: The following is the second in my Mormon Rawls Project Series. It is also the expansion of my first ever post here at FPR.When Rawls develops the concept which he labels “justice as fairness.” This does not mean that a just society is one which is fair, but instead that principles of justice must be determined under conditions which are fair to all.While fairness may not be something commonly found in the world, we can imagine what the conditions of fairness might appear like. T … [Read more...]

The Good Samaritan as The Other

The parable of the Good Samaritan is well known and much beloved. The image of the caring Samaritan tending to the bruised and bleeding traveler speaks to the goodness of mankind; despite the self-love of the world.I have noticed that this parable often shows up in secular moral theory as an example of an acceptable religious concept for the public square (See “The Idea of Public Reason Revisited" by John Rawls). It is also used in a number of ways that…well…few Mormons might expect (see secti … [Read more...]


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