“The habit of treating named entities such as Iroquois, Greece, Persia, or the United States as fixed entities opposed to one another by stable internal architecture and external boundaries interferes with our ability to understand their mutual encounter and confrontation,” writes Eric Wolf in Europe and the People Without History (7). This habit “has made it difficult to understand all such encounters and confrontations. Arranging imaginary building blocks into pyramids called East and West, or First, Second, and Third Worlds,… Read more

“Human life is radical, constituent insecurity,” writes Julian Marias (Metaphysical Anthropology). “It consists in having to do something, in a frequently hostile, always problematical, and largely latent circumstance, and in not knowing what to hold to. This is man’s condition: his insecurity, his neediness, his ignorance, his indecision, his helplessness” (154). Yet the specific quality of the male is strength: “If he does not have it he feels a ‘lack,’ feels inferior to his condition.” His strength might be physical,… Read more

Jason Josephson-Storm tells us what Weber’s disenchantment is not: It doesn’t mean that magic is eliminated. Protestants “were against magic and superstitious rituals” but they never doubted the reality of magic or the crowdedness of the universe (Myth of Disenchantment, 280). Disenchantment also “is not a new pessimistic mood, nor is it the fragmentation of social cohesion. It is not the rise of instrumental reason, because magic itself is instrumental. It is not yet secularization insofar as disenchantment happens earlier… Read more

Mary Emerson’s Greek Sanctuaries and Temple Architecture is a concise, informative introduction to her topic. After introductory chapters explaining the meaning, uses, architecture and artistic adornments of sanctuaries in the Greek world, Emerson devotes a chapter to the major cultic sites of Greece –  Delphi, Athens, the sanctuary of Apollo at Bassae, the temple of Olympian Zeus on Sicily. The book is richly illustrated with diagrams and black-and-white photos, some of which show the stunning settings of these Greek temples. Emerson’s… Read more

In his recently published Lewis on the Christian Life, Joe Rigney devotes a few pages to expounding Lewis’s understanding of the relation between abstract theological statements and the images of Scripture. He endorses the abstractions as a caution against false inferences that might be drawn from the images, but he warns that the abstractions aren’t to be taken as “literal” truth or as data of revelation. Thus, for instance, Rigney presents two theological statements: “A. When God is angry, smoke… Read more

Many complain today about the negativity of the Ten Words. Sure, there are a few positive commandments – remember the Sabbath day, honor your Father and mother. Mostly, though, it’s a list of “Don’ts.” Don’t have other gods, don’t serve images, don’t bear My name lightly, don’t kill, steal, commit adultery, bear false witness, covet. Don’t, don’t, don’t. It inhibits my freedom. God says He brought Israel from slavery, but it seems He just substituted a different form of slavery,… Read more

Israel has been in the wilderness for three months when they arrive at Sinai (Exodus 19:1). Behind them are the ruins of Egypt, devastated by plagues. They have passed through the sea, received manna and water in the wilderness. They have grumbled and rebelled. And now they come to the mount of God. The God who unveiled His name to Moses on this mountain is about to unveil Himself to Israel. It’s the third month, and the third day of… Read more

David Powlison investigates how the social sciences, especially psychology, can coherently hold together the moral demand for personal responsibility, the fact of social conditioning, and the experience that we are victims of forces beyond our control. As he puts the question: I am responsible for my sins: ‘Johnny is a bad boy.’ My will is in bondage: ‘Johnny can’t help it.’ I am deceived and led about by others: ‘Johnny got in with a bad crowd.’ How can these be simultaneously… Read more

Edward L. Greenstein’s contribution to The Decalogue in Jewish and Christian Tradition examines the rhetoric of the Ten Words. He raises the question of the order of the first two commandments. Traditions differ. “In the later Jewish tradition, ‘I am YHWH your God’ is the first commandment, and ‘You are not to have any other gods’ and ‘You are not to make yourself a carved image’ are both part of the second. In the Samaritan, some early Jewish traditions, and… Read more

In Acts 8, Luke offers the first glimpse of the international scope of the gospel. Its setting in Acts is significant. Everything in Luke’s Gospel moves toward Jerusalem. The “infancy” narratives conclude with twelve-year-old Jesus in the temple, listening and teaching (Luke 2:41-51). Between Luke 9 and 19, Jesus marches relentlessly toward Jerusalem, from the mount of transfiguration to the Mount of Olives where He will be crucified. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus return to Jerusalem once… Read more

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