The Truth of Personal Narrative

Bart Ehrman has pointed out that the popular view of Paul and his conversion makes it difficult for historians to evaluate what actually happened to make him "turn around."  In the scriptural record Paul does not present himself as a guilt-ridden legalist whose realization that the law was impossible to keep led him to find forgiveness in Christ and motivated him to bring the good news of release to those burdened with guilt complexes like his own.  Ehrman calls this view "fiction" and … [Read more...]

(Re)writing the Bible in Antiquity and Today

CANON The New Testament writers and early Church Fathers used the Septuagint (LXX) for proof texts and for personal and communal worship.  The LXX is based on the Old Greek translations of the Hebrew and Aramaic Scriptures … [Read more...]

The Hierarchy of Truth

Narratives wield a power measured not in historical accuracy but in effect on the reader. In many cases, the values expressed in a narrative, and especially the way that narrative moves us to thought and action, outranks the relationship of that narrative to history. In fiction, truths such as love, loyalty, following principles and defending freedoms shine even more clearly as they are unencumbered by the complexities of reality. But when we are reading Lord of the Rings, we know that we are … [Read more...]

My God Is Bigger Than Your God–Literally. Part VI

Although YHWH clearly was perceived by biblical authors in anthropomorphic terms, YHWH’s body was still different from regular human bodies.  For YHWH, like many other deities of the ancient Near East,[1] possessed massive size. … [Read more...]

Polytheism and Ancient Israel’s Canaanite Heritage. Part V

Of course, much of this [i.e., that Israel worshiped El and Asherah alongside YHWH] is really to be expected given that recent syntheses of the archaeological, cultural, and literary data pertaining to the emergence of the nation of Israel in the Levant show that most of the people who would eventually compose this group were originally Canaanite.   … [Read more...]

Asherah, God's Wife in Ancient Israel. Part IV

One of the most important deities that many, if not most, ancient Israelites worshiped was YHWH’s heavenly spouse or consort, the goddess Asherah (the Hebrew linguistic equivalent of Ugaritic Athirat, the wife of El). … [Read more...]

God, Gods, and Sons (and Daughters) of God in the Hebrew Bible. Part III

This historical reconstruction [that El was originally Israel's chief deity, and YHWH was originally his son and the patron deity of Israel], in turn, helps to make sense of certain biblical texts which seem to indicate most naturally that El was originally the chief god of Israel and that YHWH was the patron deity of Israel.  For example, Deuteronomy 32:8-9 reads: When the Most High apportioned the nations, when he divided humankind, he fixed the boundaries of the nations according to … [Read more...]

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 … [Read more...]


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