January 2, 2020

On the fourth Sunday of Advent, I attended worship at a mainline Protestant church. The text was Matthew 1:18-25, which describes Jesus’s virgin birth as the fulfillment of ancient prophecy (Isaiah 7:14) The minister began with the issue of translation. He observed a discrepancy between the Greek and Hebrew words used in the texts. The Hebrew Almah suggests a young woman who has reached the age of childbearing. The Greek Parthenos, by contrast, refers to a virgin. He concluded that… Read more

January 1, 2020

David reviews a fascinating memoir entitled *Rebel Mother* Read more

December 31, 2019

Chris reviews our most popular posts from 2019, most of which clearly illustrate the continuing “relevance of religious history for today.” Read more

December 30, 2019

I have recently watched the engaging, new movie, “Two Popes,” directed by Fernando Meirelles and written by Anthony McCarten, adapted from McCarten’s 2017 play “The Pope.” It simulates a lingering conversation between Pope Benedict XVI (Cardinal Ratzinger) and the current pope, Francis I (Jorge Bergoglio), who in the film is still Archbishop of Argentina. The film is well worth seeing as it accurately captures the contrasting sensibilities and gifts of the two men. Viewing it prompts me to re-post this… Read more

December 27, 2019

This fine sculpture, from San Francisco’s glorious Asian Art Museum, depicts a bodhisattva, a holy figure of Buddhism, which was made in what is now Afghanistan. Specifically, it depicts the Buddha that is to come, the messianic figure of Maitreya. But note that the style of the depiction borrows massively from Hellenistic Greek techniques and aesthetics. I will suggest that this kind of artistic cross-pollination – this cultural globalization – has a surprising amount to tell us about the history… Read more

December 26, 2019

The frenzied commentary around Mark Galli’s Christianity Today editorial has not only revealed widely diverging opinions within the evangelical community about the Trump presidency, but also about about what, if anything, an anti-Trump editorial in the pages of CT portends. Is this merely futile virtue-signaling on the part of a few evangelical elites who are hopelessly out of touch with real evangelicals? Or is this a crack in the dam, unleashing the pent up but until now mostly quiet resistance to… Read more

December 25, 2019

It was Christmas, 1388, in Shrewsbury, a bustling market town far in the west of England.  Winter frosted white the new timbers of the Bear Steps Hall, sparkling on the new glaze of the abbey’s west window, making even the centuries-old streets look new and fresh. Not much else was new in this old town, so early on that Christmas day in 1388. Neither the coming of Richard II’s Great Parliament in 1398 (the second parliament hosted by Shrewsbury) nor… Read more

December 24, 2019

Watching the new Netflix film on the last two popes, Chris was reminded of the last Christmas homily by Benedict XVI, which challenges Christians to “make room at the inn” for God – and for refugees, the homeless, and the poor. Read more

December 23, 2019

I posted about the gospel passage concerning Jesus and the feast of Hanukkah, which is no longer a Christian celebration. Its origins were however recorded in the first Book of Maccabees, which remains canonical for a majority of the world’s Christians, and Christians long regarded Judas Maccabeus as one of the mightiest Biblical heroes. But looking at that story in detail suggests quite a wide gulf separating historical reality from later religious myths. The basic story is famous. The evil… Read more

December 21, 2019

Last weekend we shared our favorite books of 2019. Today: our favorite articles of the year, touching on everything from abortion to Advent, populism to cosmopolitanism. Read more

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