October 15, 2020

A Facebook friend asked why Luke-Acts is dated so late by some scholars, and why even on the traditional consensus dating (sometime towards the tail end of the first century) it would omit the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple as well as the deaths of Paul, Peter, and James. Here is how I replied: Omitting the Jewish war against Rome doesn’t surprise me, as I cannot imagine why he would do so within his current aims in Luke-Acts. Since… Read more

October 14, 2020

This evening I’ll be presenting to the New Testament Seminar at Columbia University. Here’s the title and abstract of my talk: “The Influence of John the Baptist on Jesus’ Teaching” Disciples and students inevitably reflect the impact and influence of their teachers, even when they resist or reject that influence. Whatever Jesus’ precise stance towards his mentor over the course of his public activity, it is reasonable to expect to find evidence that can aid us in reconstructing the teaching and… Read more

October 13, 2020

I feel it necessary to point out how downright blasphemous—not merely offensive to human beings in general but an affront to God—Donald Trump’s statements and attitudes about his bout with Covid-19 are. First, he has said that his getting the virus, allowing him to show the world that it can be beaten, is a blessing from God in disguise. I have always considered it a problem theologically to attribute one’s recovery from illness or other good fortune directly to God generally,… Read more

October 12, 2020

I was asked if I would share some highlights from my talk via Zoom in a first year seminar on Religion and Science Fiction at Yale. That week’s classes were focused mostly on what we might call “Jesus stories.” The professor, Maria Doerfler, had the brilliant idea of having students read an array of canonical and extracanonical texts from the biblical tradition, and then follow with science and speculative fiction stories exploring the same or related themes or characters. Since… Read more

October 11, 2020

Time for another round-up of things related to the Bible and music that I’ve come across, always having my eyes and ears peeled for points of intersection as I work on an open textbook on the topic. Let me start with Jonathan Tweet’s helpful survey of antisemitic aspects of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. The main disagreement I have is with the idea that “Judas” denoted or signified “Jew.” The name in question is Judah, the Jewish name that was… Read more

October 10, 2020

I hope at some point to blog about recent books related to racism and the Bible, such as Esau McCaulley’s Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope and Antipas Harris’ Is Christianity the White Man’s Religion? How the Bible Is Good News for People of Color. It has been interesting to incorporate even more readings in my course on the Bible this semester that focus on social justice, diversity, and inclusion (both as subject matter… Read more

October 9, 2020

I know this is something I talk about at this point in the semester every time I teach this course. Perhaps I have usually taught Religion and Science Fiction in the spring? I don’t remember conversation ever seeming quite so timely, indeed urgently so. The question I always ask is whether a machine, an appropriately-programmed supercomputer, would do a better job of overseeing our economy and other aspects of our communal life as a society, making the decisions that a… Read more

October 8, 2020

I don’t know exactly where a conversation in class may go. Only old-fashioned professors who lecture with little room for question or discussion might claim to know precisely how a given time slot of 50 minutes or an hour and a quarter will unfold. Unpredictable conversations, I would argue, make more significant learning possible not only for students but the professor as well. Not that they are completely unforeseen (at least most of the time). The most interesting conversations and… Read more

October 7, 2020

When I saw the article below on 3 Quarks Daily, I thought it was time to share some thoughts I had on the popularity of Donald Trump in conservative Evangelical churches. Trump Won the Debate Big The article’s argument is that Trump was already known to be a bully, and Joe Biden’s platform was as one who would stand up to the bully and give him a taste of his own medicine. If that was what it would mean to… Read more

October 6, 2020

The news reported recently that perhaps we needn’t throw out the notion of time travel due to the problem of the grandfather paradox and various other related conundrums. As Desmond on LOST told Charlie after hearing it from Eloise Hawking, the universe has a way of course-correcting. In other words, if you go back in time and try to kill your grandfather, something will prevent it. In some ways, that’s more disturbing than the original paradox. As Daniel said on… Read more




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