May 13, 2011

Norse mythology is in some ways predictable.  Of course they imagined Frost gods.    When you live in a region regularly prone to weather like the inside of a freezer locker,  you imagine really cool deities– literally  (cue now Foreigner singing ‘You’re cold as ice…’)!   These guys give Jack Frost a bad name. And of course the weapon of choice in a frozen solid world has got to be a massive hammer— nothing else could smash through all that ice…. Read more

May 12, 2011

In this last post we need to do some house keeping and summing up.  You will have already deduced that I think Leithart’s book is first rate, though of course there is a good deal I don’t agree with him on, and especially that is true about his last ten pages or so, which I will address in a moment.      Since it’s too much like piling on,  I will allow you to read the many more pages of critique of… Read more

May 11, 2011

As I begin this particular post,  I need to come clean and say,  I am in fact a pacifist, and have been all my adult life.  But as a responsible historian, I do not think good theology should be based on bad history.  John Howard Yoder’s reading of early Christian history is about as flawed as that of  George Barna’s in Pagan Christianity, though in some different ways. Part of the problem stems from the exegetical gymnastics required to maintain… Read more

May 10, 2011

Modern Iznik (ancient Nicaea) is a beautiful little city on a lake.  It is famous today for being the birthplace of Iznik tiles, a form of beautiful art which was co-opted by Europeans and relabeled Delft tiles.   But in 325 A.D. it was the locale Constantine chose to host the first ‘ecumenical’ council of the Christian church with bishops and others coming from all over the Empire, and indeed even from beyond the Empire  (Armenia, Persia, even the Crimea).   For… Read more

May 9, 2011

Constantine was what Andy Crouch calls a culture-maker.  The question is whether he was building a good culture which distilled Christian values, or somehow distorted  Christian values.  Besides all his church building exercises, there were also Constantine’s legislative initiative, one of the earliest being tax exemption for clergy (yeah!).   Constantine said this would protect them from harassment by heretics. One of the problems in evaluating Constantine and the impact of his reign is that edicts and promulgations by Emperors didn’t… Read more

May 8, 2011

[Modern Painting next to the restored Pool of Siloam]   This poem taken from the book entitled The Living Legacy. MOTHER LOAD From the very beginning The burden was clear Sometimes bearable Sometimes severe Ate from the apple Shared it with him Disobeyed the order Indulged the whim. What was the outcome? The fruit of the act? Did she ‘know’ good and evil? Did she experience it in fact? Did the earth creature join her? Did he crumble into dust?… Read more

May 7, 2011

It would be hard to under-estimate the novelty and importance of the so-called Edict of Milan when it comes to religion in antiquity.   I say so-called because it was neither an edict nor was it issued from Milan.  What it was was official letters from two men who were ruling the Empire at the time— Licinius and Constantine.  The letters were largely the same,  one in Latin, one in Greek  one posted in Nicomedia in 313, the Greek one in… Read more

May 6, 2011

O.K. you Kindle dudes,  there is now available a Kindle edition of all three of our Art West thrillers, with the fourth one,   Corinthian Leather on the way to the press soon.     Here is the link to the Kindle editions on Amazon.      Read away and catch up before the 4th one comes out.  Art West is counting on you. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004ZGCV02 http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004ZG82C8 http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004ZGIRQ4 Read more

May 6, 2011

In view of the important of the Chi Rho symbol to Constantine, the following recent post of my friend and NT colleague  Larry Hurtado is worth recycling.   Here it is. Last night, my wife and I watched the final episode of Neil Oliver’s series on the History of Britain, this one dealing with the Roman impact on ancient Britain.  Overall, so far as I can judge, interesting and informative.  But one thing got up my nose, and prompts me to… Read more

May 5, 2011

As  Leithart says  (Chapter 4, pp. 68ff.) Constantine, to the surprise of probably the vast majority in Rome, entered Rome as a Christian Emperor.  His soldiers carried an entirely new standard— the labarum a long spear made into a cross with a perpendicular bar and perched on the top was a wreath of gold and precious stones within which the first letters of  Christos were engraved.  The proper thing to conclude from this was that Constantine was making a statement… Read more

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