July 23, 2007

In a recent discussion of the ending of Mark’s Gospel on X-Talk, it was suggested that having Jesus himself appear to the women, after his appearance has been promised through angels, is redundant, and I agree. But this is precisely what Matthew does to Mark’s narrative, i.e. create a story with precisely this redundancy, and this itself needs to be explained. It perhaps suggests that Matthew knew a story significantly different from Mark’s, and this was the best he could… Read more

July 22, 2007

There are things your minister, pastor, priest or preacher would love to be able to tell you, but cannot because of concerns about job security. I am not only thinking about the scandalous revelations that occasionally come to light, nor even the relatively minor fact that your pastor sometimes comes to the pulpit the same way all of us come to church at times – feeling less than inspired, having just argued with a spouse, or in some other way… Read more

July 21, 2007

This is just a quick entry to share a couple of useful sites I’ve learned about recently (one about a month or two ago, the other yesterday). The first is the site of a program called Scratch which one can download freely from the MIT web site. It allows one to make one’s own animation and even simple games through a much simpler interface than writing code could ever be (even in old fashioned BASIC, for those of us who… Read more

July 20, 2007

This entry is simply to share another interesting connection between Biblical literature and popular culture, in this instance Micah Kiel’s article on the Society of Biblical Literature web site entitled “Did Paul Get Whacked? The Endings of The Sopranos and the Acts of the Apostles”. The question asked there regarding what constitutes a ‘good ending’ obviously relates to the recent thread on the ending of Mark’s Gospel as well. Read more

July 20, 2007

Many thanks to Jim West for bringing recent news about liberation theology to our attention. What I find most troubling about most of the discussions of religion and economics is that we find ourselves choosing ‘the lesser of two evils’, as though our only options are Capitalism and Communism in a more or less pure form. My wife is from Romania and I lived there for three years, and I certainly find persuasive the argument that human nature makes Communism… Read more

July 20, 2007

The title may sound like a joke, but the truth is that most recent discussions of oral tradition in the Gospels have made use of the Lord-Parry school’s work on folk songs and epics. I have some significant problems with this, given the role of meter and rhyme and the assistance to memory provided by music in the case of this very different genre. Nevertheless, there are useful comparisons that can be made.Recent works on oral tradition in the Gospels… Read more

July 19, 2007

A news item mentioned on the Christianity Today blog (which itself interacts with and quotes Jim West’s blog) as well as in newspapers highlights a Babylonian tablet that correlates with information in Jeremiah. This is a fascinating discovery, and very interesting for historians. From a historian’s perspective, this just shows that the Bible at times provides reliable information – but mainstream historians already knew that. What it does not prove (and can never prove) is that the Bible is inerrant…. Read more

July 19, 2007

Origen famously created controversy in his day by merely speculating on the possibility that even the devil could be saved. It is important to ask why this idea should be controversial in a Christian context. Allegedly, Christianity is all about redemption, about the possibility of those living in darkness seeing the light and changing direction. Yet even today a question about praying for the devil on Yahoo! Answers meets with either surprise or the response ‘there would be no point’.I… Read more

July 18, 2007

I know many readers of my blog are Star Wars fans. I recently purchased the Star Wars Miniatures Starship Battles Starter Set, and can highly recommend it. Created by Wizards of the Coast, who are also responsible for the Star Wars Miniatures game (involving individual characters rather than ships) and currently also produce the Dungeons and Dragons line of products.Those of us who appreciate these sorts of games will welcome this. The Star Trek game Starfleet Battles was a famous… Read more

July 18, 2007

When I need to be persuaded yet again that reality includes transcendence and the spiritual, I usually turn to music rather than opening the writings of some theologian or other (although those help a lot too!). Here are a few pieces I’d recommend for this purpose…Peteris Vasks’ Lauda which I was listening to earlier todayAlan Hovhaness’ Symphony “Celestial Gate”Kurt Atterberg’s Symphony No.2, the opening and closing sections of the second movement being, for me, the most inspiring melody of all… Read more

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