May 20, 2022

On Wednesday morning, May 11, Al Jazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, who was covering an Israeli military raid on the West Bank, was killed by an Israeli soldier. According to witnesses, the shooter targeted her with full knowledge of her identity. Her murder and the violence that erupted during her funeral received significant news coverage and well-deserved expressions of indignation all over the world. But these events are only the most recent example of the continued weight of the history... Read more

May 19, 2022

I have often taught courses on Christian history, and on Global/World Christianity. There is one resource that I have found extremely useful, and it has the virtue of being a quick read. I offer it here in the hope that it might be of practical use. In a short space, it is perhaps the clearest explanation of why European and American Christians launched missionary ventures, why men and women risked their lives to go on mission, and how missions overlap... Read more

May 18, 2022

One of the reasons that the conversation about abortion is so polarizing in the United States is because it pits two competing rights claims against each other – women’s rights versus fetal rights.  And in that battle between fetal rights and women’s rights, pro-life advocates appear to have nothing to offer the women’s rights cause.  They may claim to be “pro-woman, pro-child” and to “love them both,” but the reproductive rights movement is highly skeptical.  This skepticism is likely to... Read more

May 17, 2022

Part two in Chris' "oral" history of this blog covers the period from 2015 to the present, when the list of contributors — and the topics they covered — grew considerably more diverse. Read more

May 16, 2022

Among his many other exceptional qualities, Abraham Lincoln had high regard for his stepmother. Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln married the sixteenth president’s widowed father in 1819, and by Abe’s own honest report, “she proved to be a good and kind mother.” This reputation makes Sarah pretty unusual, and not just in American history. If motherhood has seen some highs and lows in the country’s life—moms valorized and vilified according to shifts in culture, economy, and politics—stepmotherhood is trickier still.  Stepmothers... Read more

May 12, 2022

The Biblical world at various eras is probably the most intensely studied society in human history. Just how many books, for instance, have been written about Palestine in the time of Jesus? Despite all that work, though, we still have major areas of ignorance about such a basic issue as population. If we look at a country today, that is such a critical theme. How many people are there to pay taxes, to serve in armies, to populate cities, and... Read more

May 11, 2022

“Have you been to St. Thomas yet?” The question buzzed my phone. It was from one of my former students who knew I was in Salisbury. What she didn’t know was that, when I read her text, the Salisbury Cathedral spire soared above me as I sat below the glass ceiling of the refectory cafe drinking tea. In two hours I would meet the archivist to view the only copy of a Middle English sermon collection housed in the cathedral... Read more

May 10, 2022

This month The Anxious Bench celebrates its 10th anniversary by telling its own story... starting with its origins in 2012. Read more

May 9, 2022

More than usually, I am currently living in two different worlds, and traveling between them, sometimes uncomfortably. At present, like many people, I am living day by day following the news from Ukraine, the greatest moral and political conflict of our time. At the same time, I am writing my present book project, which concerns the Iconoclast controversy in the Roman/Byzantine empire in the seventh and eighth centuries. The two worlds, medieval and modern, keep bumping up against each other... Read more

May 5, 2022

Much of Christian theology and doctrine grows out of St. Paul’s letters to various congregations identified by their location, including those in Rome, Corinth, Philippi, Thessaloniki, and other places. We do not have his letters to the people of Damascus, or Caesarea, or Tyre, or Ptolemais, or plenty of other places with which he certainly had associations. Why is that? And why on earth are there no letters to the Jerusalemites? That did not mean that he was a wildly... Read more


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