July 21, 2022

I blogged previously about what I learned about cherry-picking from the Bible by actually picking cherries. Today I’ll do something similar in relation to words attributed to John the Baptist in Luke 3:9 and Matthew 3:10. John says the ax is already at the root of the tree, and unfruitful trees will be cut down. You may consider this part of my series “in the footsteps of John the Baptist” although this insight occurred as I was working in my... Read more

July 19, 2022

In many ways the most interesting stop on my trip to the Holy Land focused on the life of John the Baptist was in the Jordan River valley in between Yardenit in Galilee and Jerusalem in Judaea. I stayed at Kibbutz Tirat Zvi, and am glad I did. It made for something of an adventure since this is not a kibbutz that has developed itself as a destination for foreign tourists. “Reception” is only marked by a paper sign stuck on... Read more

July 16, 2022

Rather than give “Jesus” as a one-word answer to the question of who founded progressive Christianity, let me begin with a quote from something I wrote here on my Patheos blog some years ago which makes that same point but in more words and with more detail, which those who are skeptical of my assertion will need if they are to be persuaded: If “liberal Christianity” means Christianity that reflects the cosmology and worldview of a particular era, then the... Read more

July 14, 2022

First, in case you missed it, take a look at the wonderful Twitter thread by Carmen Joy Imes on the story of Bathsheba in the Bible and why it is not only appropriate but important to treat what David did as rape rather than adultery: I thought it was just my incredibly niche timeline of Southern Baptists thrown together with Anglicans … but apparently not. David and Bathsheba are trending. A few points that I’m not hearing clearly enough: a... Read more

July 13, 2022

Everything Everywhere All At Once is a very strange movie. It has a sheer silliness about it, so much so that there were moments when I wasn’t sure I liked it. Yet there was a sense of something profound beneath the surface, much as is also true of The Good Place. So I kept watching and am glad I did. The end of the movie is surprisingly moving, and the message of the film is truly profound and challenging. For parents it... Read more

July 11, 2022

I shared photos on Facebook during my brief visit to Tiberias on the shore of Lake Kinneret or Lake Tiberias (named by the Gospel of Mark the “Sea of Galilee” and now more commonly known by that name). When I did so I wrote that Herod Antipas built cities, buildings, monuments of various sorts. John the Baptist built a ritual with water. Today the ruins of Herod’s capital in Tiberias don’t have much left of them and no one goes... Read more

July 6, 2022

Reinhardt Pummer’s book The Samaritans: A Profile offers an extremely helpful overview of the history literature and archaeology of the Samaritans including some of scholars’ most significant debates and discussions about where they came from who they are and how we answer those questions. While most academics who study ancient Judaism and/or early Christianity will know a little about the Samaritans, few of us know as much as we ought to. Among the important topics that Pummer covers is how... Read more

June 27, 2022

As I prepared for my recent trip to the Holy Land focused on John the Baptist, there were moments when I wondered whether it would accomplish what I hoped for. Would standing in the same places that John, his followers, and his critics stood lead to any new insights or raise new questions? The answer came as I made a quick visit to Joppa (Yafo), the ancient port city on the Mediterranean, since it is so close to Tel Aviv’s... Read more

June 22, 2022

For anyone interested in getting a glimpse of some of the exciting insights and groundbreaking new perspectives I’ve already come up with in the early stages of my research project focused on John the Baptist, I’m the keynote speaker at the Apostolic Johannite Church Conclave this weekend. My talk is titled “John the Baptist and the Mandaeans” and presents for a general audience some of what I consider the most interesting discoveries I’ve made thus far. Some are things implicit... Read more

June 13, 2022

I have been watching Babylon 5 and wanted to share this wonderful segment in episode 14 of the 5th and final season in which G’Kar, a member of the Narn species who wrote a book that people have come to regard as holy, is asked “What is truth? And what is God?” Here is his answer: If I take a lamp and shine it toward the wall a bright spot will appear on the wall. The lamp is our search for... Read more

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