January 15, 2021

We began the final day of the Enoch Seminar conference on John the Baptist with a recap (and I provided one on my blog once again). Al Baumgarten calculated that we will have spent 32 hours together talking about John the Baptist by the end of the last day of the conference, a striking figure when we consider how few words we have about him in the New Testament and Josephus. As we started the day thinking about messianism and… Read more

January 14, 2021

Day Three of the Enoch Seminar conference on John the Baptist began once again with a recap of the previous day. (You can read my notes from the day in my blog post.) Gabriele Boccaccini had suggested that we focus our thoughts on the terminology of sectarianism. Right away the references we had been making to current events led me to think it would be useful to focus a conference on sectarianism ancient and modern. Then as now, people aligned themselves… Read more

January 13, 2021

These are my notes from and thoughts about the second day of the Enoch Seminar conference on John the Baptist. Enoch Seminar meetings tend to begin with a recap session each subsequent day. They provide a helpful opportunity to remind ourselves about things that were said and to draw attention to points that were felt to be significant. For me, one particularly significant point was the highlighting of the puzzling idea that John could be Elijah and that Jesus could be… Read more

January 12, 2021

Yesterday was the first day of the Enoch Seminar Nangeroni Meeting conference taking place online this week, focused on John the Baptist. I’ve obviously been incredibly excited about this event, since I am working on a major book about John the Baptist. Gabriele Boccaccini started things off with an overview of the reception history of John the Baptist, including literature and film as well as scholarship. In the process he highlighted the incredible wealth of information on this subject available… Read more

January 11, 2021

As I was thinking about what I should blog about next that would be relevant to current events, Murray Hogg wrote a comment on Facebook that motivated this post. Here’s what he wrote: It’s kind of bizarre that only a few short years ago Evangelicals were obsessed with berating the emerging church as “postmodern” because of their (alleged) rejection of objective truth. There’s definitely some bizarre epistemological shenanigans going on that leave these people at the mercy of science denial,… Read more

January 10, 2021

Information about an essay prize that many of my readers ought to know about: CRINT Essay Prize in Early Jewish and Christian Studies COMPENDIA RERUM IUDAICARUM AD NOVUM TESTAMENTUM Editors: Shaye Cohen (Harvard University), Matthijs den Dulk (Radboud University Nijmegen), David Goodblatt, z’’l (University of California at San Diego), Christine Hayes (Yale University), Richard Kalmin (Jewish Theological Seminary of America), Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr (University of Jena), Pieter van der Horst (Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences), Huub van de Sandt (University of… Read more

January 9, 2021

There is a theological root among the others that give birth to and feed the embrace of conspiracy theories in the United States, leading to the rioting by Trump supporters. I am referring to idolatry. I don’t mean the devotion towards and faith in Trump that constitutes worship even though his Evangelical supporters would never accept that description of their position. I mean the idolatry that is focused on their own selves. Ultimately what fosters this kind of mindset is… Read more

January 8, 2021

I cannot hear these words, “You shall go out with joy,” without thinking of the joke about the man who was looking for guidance regarding his romantic life and opened the Bible at random expecting it to speak to him. The verse said “You shall go out with Joy” and so he called Joy and asked her out. Having someone named Joy in the class, as well as her husband, makes the joke all the more relevant, even though this… Read more

January 7, 2021

January 6th, 2021 will be a day for the history books. On it we saw firsts in Georgia and in Washington DC. Georgia elected its first senators who were of African descent and Jewish, while soon after we saw a coup attempt in the nation’s capitol. The supporters of the president responded to his loss of the election in many ways, all reflecting denial, and eventually it expressed itself in violence. To be clear: People can peacefully protest the shooting… Read more

January 6, 2021

January 6th is Epiphany. It so happens that two events in the Gospels are associated with this day in the Christian calendar. One is the arrival of the magi as recounted in the Gospel of Matthew. The other is Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. Both interest me, for different reasons. I wrote a short story, “We Three Spies of Parthia Are,” offering a subversive account of the visit of the magi and the motives behind it, which you can… Read more

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