September 19, 2018

Here’s a connection I missed in my commentary on Revelation. One of hundreds. In Numbers 31, the Lord instructs Moses to take vengeance on the Midianites. The vengeance is for the attack by the Balak of Moab, who joined the Midianites in attacking Israel. Initially, they tried to hire the prophet Balaam; when that failed, they seduced Israel to idolatry and sexual sin by sending Moabite women into the camp (Numbers 25). Yahweh tells Moses to assemble a force consisting… Read more

September 18, 2018

In a chapter in The Social in Question, Bruno Latour summarizes the work of 19th-century sociology Gabriel Tarde. Latour is particularly interested in the anti-structuralist import of Tarde’s social metaphysics and anthropology. Tarde writes, for instance, “In general, there is more logic in a sentence than in a talk, in a talk than in a sequence or group of talks; there is more logic in a special ritual than in a whole credo; in an article of law than in… Read more

September 17, 2018

The Ten Words are a portrait of the true Israel, the true Adamic Son. They provide, in short, a portrait of Jesus. They are commandments, yes, but they are more fundamentally a character sketch of the true man who worships God alone, who bears the Name of God weightily, who gives rest, who honors father and mother, who does not kill, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness, or covet. Once we get Jesus in view here, two things come clear… Read more

September 13, 2018

God speaks worlds into existence, worlds that do not have the capacity to respond before the Word is spoken. Jesus calls dead Lazarus from the tomb, a Lazarus who has lost the capacity to hear and obey. Creative speech confers the capacity to hear and respond. This seems to be a uniquely divine power; it’s a sign of the unique creativity of God. But men and women too can speak in a way that confers the capacity to respond. One… Read more

September 12, 2018

Some typically sharp observations from a 1995 essay by Robert Jenson (Either/Or). First, on pluralism and the ideology of pluralism. What’s new in the modern age isn’t the reality of competing faiths: “The presence of contrary faiths and practices within a society often causes formidable problems, as America now experiences with unwonted intensity but as has always been the case. With due respect to some pop theologians, none of this is newly discovered: Isaiah or St. Paul knew more about… Read more

September 11, 2018

The sixth word says, “Thou shalt not kill.” What does that prohibit? Does it prohibit killing of all kinds – including killing animals? Does it prohibit all killing of human beings? Does it prohibit war or capital punishment? Some translations use the word “murder” but that is too specific. Hebrew has a variety of words for killing. This one in the sixth word is used for the first time in the Bible.It is used frequently in Numbers 35, which lays… Read more

September 10, 2018

Some notes from an upcoming lecture on Richard III, drawn from Thomas Costain’s popualr history, Last Plantagenet, with additional details from Peter Saccio, Shakespeare’s English Kings. Shakespeare’s first tetralogy covers an especially tumultuous period in England’s history.  Henry VI’s reign was split into two parts. His armies were defeated at Towton by Edward of York, son of Richard, in the bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil. Henry didn’t even show up to the battle; it was Palm Sunday and he spent the… Read more

September 6, 2018

Proverbs 22:2 says: “The rich and poor have a common bond, Yahweh is the maker of them all.” The text has an immediate contemporary application. Rich and poor aren’t different species, and they shouldn’t occupy different spaces. But, in the U.S. at least, we’re “coming apart,” as Charles Murray has written, with the wealthy segregating themselves physically, socially, educationally. Solomon would be appalled at the neglect of our derelict inner cities; he would be equally appalled at the isolation of… Read more

September 5, 2018

Here are some highlights of Marjorie Garber’s essay on Richard III in Shakespeare After All. 1) Garber suggests that Richard is the “first fully realized and psychologically conceived character” in Shakespeare’s plays. Richard’s character is fully realized because he is complex, protean, chameleon and Machiavellian (cf. 3 Henry VI 3.2.191-193). Throughout the play, he speaks with two voices, a public and a private, though ultimately these voices collapse together in Richard’s schizophrenic “monologue” on Bosworth Field. 2) Garber points out that… Read more

September 4, 2018

Thomas Brodie (Genesis As Dialogue) argues that “Genesis consists of twenty-six diptychs. Building on older insights that several Genesis texts occur in pairs and that Genesis is somehow binary or dialogical, this study makes a basic observation: The entire book is composed of diptychs—accounts which, like some paintings, consist of two parts or panels.” He gives several examples: “There are . . . two panels of creation (1:1–2:24), two of primordial sin (2:25–4:16), two genealogies (4:17–chap. 5), two parts to the flood… Read more

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