Negative Passover

Josiah presides over the greatest Passover in the history of the monarchy (2 Chronicles 35:18). No sooner has the celebration subsided than Josiah heads out of Jerusalem to confront Pharaoh Neco as the latter marches north to fight Assyria. Josiah makes a military and political blunder here. But it’s worse than that. He defies God, and his death at the hands of the Egyptians is what William Johnstone calls a “negative Passover”: “it is none other than God himself who… Read more

Inventing India

Neel Mukherjee reviews recent books on India, including Adam Roberts’s Superfast. Roberts, he says, offers a serious book that exposes the appalling problems that India faces. Not least is the current government’s penchant for authoritarian manipulations: “Modi, however, has a firm understanding of fake news and image manipulation. From 2012 he began to project 3D holograms of himself at several election rallies simultaneously. The images were simple optical tricks but they succeeded in wowing illiterate rural voters. A sure touch with the… Read more

Suspended Sentences

The title novella in Patrick Modiano’s collection, Suspended Sentences, is a masterpiece of disquieting understatement. The adult narrator, Patrick, tells of the period of his childhood spent (as “Patoche”) with an odd assortment of caretakers – Little Helene, who walked with a slight limp from a circus accident; Annie F., who wore a man’s leather jacket and tight black trousers; and Mathilde F., Annie’s mother, who always called Patroche “blissful idiot.” Patroche’s parents are alive, but his mother is on… Read more

Forging the Enemy’s Weapon

In his Life of Bertrand Russell, Ronald Clark describes the austere Evangelical regimen of the philosopher’s childhood: “Lady Russell’s evangelical concern to press her younger grandson into a mould of her own choice stamped him physically, intellectually and emotionally with marks that lasted all his life. A puritan despising comfort, indifferent to food and hating wine, she decreed that the day begin with a cold bath all the year round, followed by half‑an‑hour’s piano practice before family prayers at eight. The… Read more


Trace the development of the Hebrew massa’ (“burden”) through the Bible. In Torah, it refers to the physical labor of the Levites, carrying the furniture of the tabernacle and especially the ark. In Chronicles, it refers to the Levitical “burden” of singing (1 Chronicles 15:22, 27). They no longer carry the sanctuary from place to place, but they still lift Yahweh up on the shoulders of their praise. Song is analogous to bearing the Lord and His house, the Lord who… Read more

Music of the Spirit

Creation has a musical quality both in its origin and in its very nature. Read more

Remembering Jenson

A few items from the archives about Lutheran theologian Robert W. Jenson, who died earlier this week. Here’s my best effort to summarize Robert Jenson’s take on God-and-time, written with faux-Jensonesque pithiness. Is God eternally and infinitely the eternal and infinite God that He is?  Of course.  He’s God. Is God dependent on creation for His fulfillment?  Of course not.  He’s God. The biblical God uniquely does not try to escape time.  All other gods do; that’s what makes them… Read more

David, Jonathan, Jacob

The following is an excerpt from my commentary on 1-2 Samuel, A Son To Me. Saul was rejected from being king before the battle of Michmash (1 Samuel 13-14), but a replacement was immediately introduced, his son Jonathan. Just as Eli was replaced by his “son” Samuel and just as Samuel was replaced by his “son” Saul, so now fallen Saul was to be replaced by his son. And Jonathan was a worthy candidate: Bold and aggressive as a warrior,… Read more

Abram’s Election

Genesis never says that Yahweh “chose” Abram. In some English translations, Genesis 18:19 speaks directly of Abram’s election, but the Hebrew verb is yada’, “know.” Nehemiah 9:7, though, does use “chose” with reference to Abram, the one “chosen” and therefore “brought out” from Ur and given the name Abraham. We know from Acts 7:2 the form this election took: God appeared in glory to Abram while he was still in Haran and called him to go to a land that he was… Read more

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