The various endings of the Gospel of Mark (part 1)


Mark’s Gospel seems like a rough first draft, like the work of someone racing to get everything down on paper as quickly as possible. That’s reflected in the book’s abrupt ending, where it just sort of stops, mid-story. That ending was so frustrating for some later Christians that they felt compelled to give the book a proper conclusion, and now it has more endings that Peter Jackson’s “Return of the King.” [Read more...]

The symmetric property of 2 Timothy 3:16

Screenshot 2015-10-05 at 2.10.50 AM

2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that scripture is that which is “useful” for “training in justice.” Weirdly, though, the Christians who seem fondest of quoting this verse are the least likely to see “training in justice” as having anything to do with scripture. [Read more...]

How to understand ‘biblical inerrantists’


The modern assertion of “biblical inerrancy” is best explained in a 1978 document called the “Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.” That statement includes 19 denials that tell you everything you need to know about inerrancy and inerrantists. Just read through those denials and, in each case, replace “We Deny that …” with “We Are Very Much Afraid that …” [Read more...]

‘Purity culture’ isn’t just a sex thing. It’s a do-nothing thing.

Keep yourself from being polluted by the world.

What then, is a good Christian to do in such a world? As little as possible. Faith is a blank page that must be kept blank. It is a spotless, pure and undefiled white sheet that must be hidden away from anything and everything that might stain its pure whiteness. [Read more...]

The ‘Rocky’ road of John’s geography


The training montage in “Rocky II” offers an implausible — maybe even impossible — version of Philadelphia geography. Philly journalist Dan McQuade plotted out Rocky’s run on a real map of the city and found a messy, mixed-up route of more than 30 miles. Biblical scholars have been doing the same thing, with similar results, examining the geography of the Gospel of John. [Read more...]

‘The Day the Sun Stood Still’


A better presumption, I think, is to assume these storytellers recognized what they were doing and did it deliberately and that something else is going on other than an attempt to provide harmonious, wholly consistent stories that would satisfy the modern sensibilities of readers 2,500 years later. To understand the stories they told, we need to understand the choices they made in telling those stories. We can’t do that if we presume that they never made choices, only mistakes. [Read more...]

The gospel according to 1 Corinthians 13 (part 1)


We all know love when we see it. And when we see the genuine article, we’re awed by it, regardless of the “theological system” (or absence of any such system) of those who show such genuine love. [Read more...]

When did Adam and Eve get married?

Pro-tip: Check the tide charts before scheduling your beach wedding. High tide + rainstorm = flooding.

In the story itself, on its own terms, Adam and Eve didn’t get married in anything like the way Christians today get married. They simply shacked up together. Although, of course, shacks — like clothing — had not yet been invented. Neither had marriage, for that matter. [Read more...]