I want to recommend a recent book that brings honor to one of my teachers, Rabbi and Professor Samuel Greengus from Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion. It is called Windows to the Ancient World of the Hebrew Bible: Essays in Honor of Samuel Greengus (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2014), and it is edited by Bill Arnold, Nancy Erickson and John Walton.
The Canaanite destruction is the major ethical problem in the Old Testament. How can we serve a God who commanded genocide? In this post, we will look at the Torah’s presentation of the Canaanites to see how YHWH viewed the Canaanites in the time before the Conquest of Canaan.
A creative series of workbooks for classrooms and churches has recently been released. Following is an interview with the series editor and author of the first workbook, Kenneth Berding. "This series of workbooks is a new and creative way of drawing out the back story that lies behind the writings of the Bible ... These workbooks provide an entryway that will allow you to start uncovering this story for yourself."
... I’m all in favor of blood moons (awe-inspiring astronomical phenomenon!), tetrads (rare!), Jewish feasts (our overly Gentilized Church calendars should be more dominated by these—as they are fulfilled in Christ), and apocalyptic (it can be literal too—resurrection is a feature of apocalyptic and we all believe in that one). But put them together in yet another sensationalized, factually crazy, books-flying-off-the-shelf spectacle for the world, and I just shake my head. We’re in the same ditch as those who have no hope ...
The week from Palm Sunday to Resurrection Sunday must have been an emotional rollercoaster for the disciples, Jesus’ friends and family, and Jesus himself. Together they experienced the triumphant celebration of Palm Sunday, the poignant fellowship of the Last Supper, the deep despair of the cross, and the amazing joy of the resurrection. In Ezekiel 37:1-14, Ezekiel has a vision that takes him on a similar journey from a place of deep despair to a place of incredible hope.
Numbers 14:20-23 states, “Then the Lord said, ‘I have pardoned them, according to your word. But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD, none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who despised me shall see it.’” What is meant by “these ten times?”
Though the New Testament is not a textbook on economics, it was immersed in a particular economic environment and much of the New Testament teaching had implications for economic life. In the New Testament, Jesus takes up right where the Old Testament prophets left off. Care for the poor was just as important to Jesus as it was to the prophets. When the followers of John the Baptist (who was in prison at the time) asked Jesus if He was indeed the Messiah who was to come, He answered in terms that could have been taken right out of the prophets. He put it like this, “Go back to John (the Baptist) and tell him what you have seen and heard—the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are being raised to life and the good news is being preached to the poor” (Matt. 11:4-5). The evidence that Jesus was who He claimed to be was not only that He did miracles, but who were the beneficiaries of those miracles were: the poor, marginalized and vulnerable. Similarly, when He spoke of final judgment and what would separate His true followers from the pretenders, He made it clear that how someone treats the poor is a critical indication of a person’s spiritual maturity. This is likely what Jesus meant when He said that, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to the least of these my brothers, you were doing it to me” (referring to feeding the hungry and taking in the needy, Matt. 25:40).
There was a woman I know who fell in love and married a man from another culture, another religion, different ways very foreign to her known life. Her husband’s father had died before she met him, so she entered this single parent family wholeheartedly and her mother-in-law taught her a new way of living and loving where their house became a home and she felt she belonged.This was so true that when her husband died ten years into their marriage, she made a commitment to her mother-in-law.
Among the prominent themes within the Old Testament, YHWH’s election of Israel to be his special people is especially significant. However, the idea that YHWH chose one specific group to be his special people has offended many people in the modern world, for whom the ideals of equality and equal opportunity are very important. If YHWH chose Israel, did he reject the other nations? This post will examine two groups whom YHWH views ambiguously in the Torah to explore in more detail YHWH’s relationship with non-Israelite nations in light of the election of Israel.
Recent news reports are claiming that the references to camels in the patriarchal narratives (Gen 12:16; etc.) of Genesis are “anachronistic,” or historically out of place, because there is allegedly no evidence for camel domestication before the tenth century BC. This claim is actually not new, since it was made by W. F. Albright over seventy years ago, but is it true?
1The teacher said, “Hear now the parable of the foolish weightlifter. 2A certain man wished to become stronger and to run and not grow weary. So he went to the gymnasium, paying the gymnasium-master three obols.a 3The man began lifting bars with weights upon them, first one talent,b then two. But he was not able to lift three talents. 4So the man said to himself, “Soul, your arms are very sore. You are not able to lift so many talents.”
Nehemiah is one of the most heralded examples of leadership found in the scriptures. We have been focusing on his heart, and saw in Part One how he (1) cared enough to accurately assess the circumstances confronting his people; (2) was sensitive to the brokenness of his people; and (3) was focused continually on redeeming the lives of his people.
Pastors have many roles. They are teachers, evangelists, caregivers, guardians, and leaders. Much is written about these areas of endeavor, but perhaps none as much as leadership. Recently the Society of Human Resource Managers released figures from a global survey of corporations that revealed 57% of all of the organizations surveyed employ outside vendors to provide leadership training. Companies know the great importance of good leadership.
From the beginning, we learn that God created the world and called it good, making the material world fundamentally good (Gen. 1:31). He further entrusted human beings with dominion over the earth—giving them both the privilege of enjoying the benefits of the material world, but also the responsibility for caring for the world. We also learn that, from the beginning, God has implanted His wisdom into the world and given human beings the necessary tools to uncover His wisdom and apply it for their benefit (Proverbs 8:22-31). God set human beings free to utilize their God-given intelligence, initiative and creativity in discerning and applying what the wisdom He embedded into the world—this is all a part of the responsible exercise of dominion over creation that brings innovation and productivity to benefit humankind.
One of my self-imposed projects over the January break is to read through N. T. Wright’s (most recent) magnum opus, Paul and the Faithfulness of God. The work is actually two separate books (@ 600 and 1200 pages, respectively!). Book I is primarily concerned with backgrounds, and Paul’s worldview vis-à-vis paganism and Judaism. Book II deals with Paul’s theology and more directly engages the text of his letters.
Yes. If you deny that Adam was a historical person it negatively impacts other Christian doctrines. An affirmation of the historicity of Adam positively and necessarily connects with a number of key Christian doctrines.
As a rule, Evangelicals are great defenders of the deity of Christ. That’s not something we mess around with, and anyone who might had better take care—be they Bart Ehrman or the Jehovah’s Witness at your door!
A couple years back my wife Rolane and I visited ten of our wonderful Midwest Talbot alumni. What a joy to see them all thriving, finding God faithful, and knowing days of effective and challenging ministry. While we were in the area, we took the opportunity to visit my hometown of Hospers, Iowa and spent a little time with my cousins living there. Some of them I hadn’t been with in over 30 years - so long that we all wore nametags to keep from getting confused! While I only spent the first seventeen years of my life on the farm, it played a significant role in who I am today. In going back home, certain impressions left their mark on my mind and heart. Let me elaborate ...
For the past several years I have had an autoimmune disease called ITP (Immune Thrombocytopenia) in which the immune system targets the platelets resulting in a low blood platelet count, which can cause spontaneous bruising or bleeding. Earlier this year, my platelet count took a significant jump. Though not in the normal range, it was higher than it had been in over five years. I was very excited and immensely grateful to the Lord and to those who had been praying faithfully for me and my platelets for years. Somehow, verbally expressing my gratitude seemed inadequate and insufficient. What, I wondered, would be an appropriate response? This question prompted me to look at the sacrifice of thanksgiving as outlined in the Old Testament.
Genealogies rarely contain interesting tidbits about our ancestors, especially the more unacceptable ones. But Jesus’ genealogy does. In fact, it even seems to highlight several rather shady characters. And they are women.
This is the first of a series of blogs dealing with gun control from a Christian perspective. In this first installment, I sketch the general theological case for sane restriction on guns, particularly assault weapons, and apply biblical principles to common objections. In subsequent (shorter) posts, I will respond to alleged “biblical” arguments used by gun advocates, who claim that Scripture supports unrestricted access to lethal weaponry for private individuals. [I have slighly modified this post in the wake of the horrible tragedy at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.]
My family’s business, in the modest Colorado town where I grew up, was a foundry. For the uninitiated, a foundry is like a steel mill. Its basic operation is to melt ore (in our case, iron, brass, and aluminum) in a furnace, pour it into molds, and thereby produce metal castings. Our family joke was that my parents were “in the iron and steel business” – my mom would iron while my dad would steal. (I’ll spare you the rest of the foundry jokes.) Foundry work is hard, hot, dirty, and notoriously dangerous. Our furnace room temperature was 140 degrees fahrenheit.
I recently completed a manuscript on the book of Judges for Baker’s Teach the Text Commentary Series. It took me about three and a half years to write the short text, and I want to share just a few highlights from what I learned during my study.