The Third Word (Exodus 20:7) prohibits Israel and the church from bearing (nasa’) the Name of Yahweh lightly. What might it mean to “bear” the name? The verb is used some thirty times in Exodus, with a remarkable range of meanings. Exodus 6:8: Yahweh nasa’ to give the land to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. “Bear” means “swear,” and that seems to be part of the significance in the Third Word. As Patrick Miller points out (Ten Commandments, 65), Deuteronomy 6:13… Read more

Thomas Renz (Rhetorical Function of the Book of Ezekiel) argues that “The first twenty-four chapters of the book present a loosely structured movement in cycles with ever greater involvement of the readers.” Each cycle is “marked by a narrative portion which includes either a date (1:1-3) or a notice about elders approaching the prophet (14:1) or both (8:1; 20:1). No notice about elders who approach the prophet and, apart from 24:1 . . . no date formula occurs anywhere else in… Read more

Recent commentators on Leviticus have emphasized the “mixed” character of the blasphemer in chapter 24. He’s the son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father. While acknowledging the importance of that feature of the story, Leigh Trevaskis thinks that the emphasis should be placed on the location of the incident. The camp is the “land” of Israel in the wilderness, a holy place where Yahweh dwells among His well-organized people. The Egyptian-Israelite commits blasphemy in the camp, among the… Read more

Barth and Rahner both rejected using “person” to describe the Father, Son, and Spirit, opting instead of a translation of the Cappadocian phrase tropoi hyparxeos, three “modes of being” or “manners of subsistence.” William Hasker (Metaphysics and the Tri-Personal God, 93-94)wonders what payoff they hope to gain, “over and above avoiding the suspicion of tritheism.” Answering that question, Hasker points out that Rahner and Barth use the phrase in a sense quite different from that of the Cappadocians. For the Cappadocians,… Read more

Pierre Manent offers a needed corrective to glib modern talk about Machiavelli’s “realism” (An Intellectual History of Liberalism). He acknowledges that “in political ‘reality’ there are murders, conspiracies, coups d’etat.” But that’s not the whole story: “there are also periods and regimes without murders, or conspiracies, or coups d’etat. The absence, so to speak, of these wicked actions is also a ‘reality'” (13). When we speak of the “realism” of Machiavelli, we have “accepted his point of view: ‘evil’ is… Read more

Christian hope has a Eucharistic shape, and Eucharistic hope is hope in Christ. Our hope is in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:19; Ephesians 1:12). Christ in us is the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). Christ’s resurrection is the target of Abrahamic faith, he who hoped against hope for resurrection, for new life to come from his dead body (Romans 4:18). Hoping in God’s promise, he didn’t consider his own impotence looked for the impossible. Jesus is the one who reveals the… Read more

The Eucharist is a feast of faith; it is a love feast. It also embodies the third theological virtue. Hope is inherent to the Eucharist. In Luke’s account of the Last Supper, Jesus calls attention to the future reality of which the Supper is a sign. He expresses his desire to eat the Passover with the disciples before His suffering, saying that it is the last time he will eat it until “it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke… Read more

I’m taking a summer break from blogging. Be back shortly. Read more

This exhortation was delivered to the graduates of the 2017-18 Theopolis Junior Fellows Program on May 17, 2018. “Freely you received; freely give.” Jesus has been teaching, healing, casting out demons, raising the dead, cleansing lepers. Now He empowers His disciples to carry on the same work. Jesus authorizes His disciples as apostles, then sends them out to the twelve tribes. Their work won’t be easy. Jesus tells them to take nothing, but to depend on the hospitality of those… Read more

At a recent Theopolis intensive course, Pastor John Barach pointed out that Judges begins with the death of Joshua. Unlike the death of Moses, Joshua doesn’t leave behind a recognized successor. Joshua has no Joshua of his own. That may seem a crisis, but Barach suggested that it was a case of “it’s good that I go away.” Joshua’s death spreads out responsibility for Israel’s possession of the land. Israel won’t rely on a single leader; many leaders and judges… Read more

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