Moses’ encounter with God in Exodus 4:21–26 is arguably one of the strangest, most confusing events recorded in the Bible. In this passage, Moses is en route to Egypt—seemingly following God’s call to deliver the Israelites from Pharaoh’s vice-like grip. But then something shocking happens:
Tue, April 4, 2017 | Misc.|
In modern stories people destined for greatness rarely start off privileged. They are dropped off at the doorstep of an orphanage or abandoned in the rain. This literary motif goes back to ancient stories, where writers use the abandoned child theme to identify a character that rises from obscurity to privileged hero status. It’s a motif found in the biblical account of Moses’ birth. But is that really the whole story?
Tue, March 28, 2017 | Articles|
Circumcision is mentioned nearly 100 times in the Bible. It is a central focus for Old Testament and New Testament theology (Rom 4:9–12; Gal 2:1–12; 5:1–10).
If we’re honest, that just sounds absurd.
Tue, March 7, 2017 | Articles|
Wait a minute. The Bible needed an upgrade?
Those sound like fighting words to anyone with a high view of Scripture. An upgrade implies that something needed updating, but the Bible is timeless!
That’s true, but in this case I would have to excuse myself from the ring. I wouldn’t want to tangle with those responsible for the improvements: the biblical writers and, well, the Spirit of God.
Tue, February 21, 2017 | Misc.|
Cuneiform tablets changed my life. I’m not kidding. As I look back on my 15 years of graduate school in biblical studies, the turning point in how I view the Bible was my course in Ugaritic, a cuneiform language very similar to biblical Hebrew. This class compelled me to transform “read the Bible in context” from a naïve platitude to an issue of spiritual integrity.
Tue, February 7, 2017 | Misc.|
God chose a specific time, place, and culture to inspire people to produce what we read in the Old Testament: the ancient Mediterranean and the ancient Near East of the second and first millennia b.c. Understanding the worldview of this culture can lead to more faithful understandings of Scripture on our part, especially when it comes to understanding how the Israelites viewed God and the universe.
I can still recall the thrill of seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark in the theater. A senior in high school, I had already been infected with the archaeology bug. This movie boosted my interest to a whole new level. As Providence would have it, I followed the path of Indiana Jones—at least academically. I’m still fascinated by the ark, but I no longer believe it is lost and awaiting discovery. I have Jeremiah to blame for that.
Wed, August 3, 2016 | Articles|
Let’s be honest. We’ve all likely gone through that period of our Christian lives (or are still there) when we thought about little else, biblically speaking, than what the Bible said about end times. I recall how, shortly after I became a Christian as a high school student, the timetable for the tribulation period and the rapture became an obsession. To date myself, it was right around the time when Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth was made into a movie. While I know some people who came to the Lord because of that film and its end-times trajectory, my path toward becoming a biblical scholar showed me that discerning exact end-times details wasn’t a fruitful use of my time.
Now having taught eschatology at a Bible college many times, I know that not only was Jesus unsure of precisely when he would return (Matt 24:36), but we aren’t going to figure that out any time soon either. No end-times scheme is self-evident (or “biblical” as adherents like to say). There are intentional ambiguities in the biblical text when it comes to prophecy. And by intentional I mean that prophecy is deliberately cryptic. There were very good reasons why, even after the resurrection, the disciples had a hard time understanding what was going on (Luke 24:44-45).
Tue, April 12, 2016 | Articles|
Anyone who has invested serious time into studying Scripture knows that it isn’t always easy to understand. For sure, there are core ideas in the Bible that are straightforward and quite within the grasp of most readers to understand. But to be honest, most of the Bible isn’t like that. You can’t just immediately understand the content of its pages after one read. A number of passages take sustained attention for days, weeks, months, and perhaps years. And in some cases, even scholars can’t agree, which is why the meaning of certain passages is still being debated thousands of years after they were written.
Why is Bible interpretation so problematic? Why didn’t God make his Word easy to understand in every passage?
Wed, October 28, 2015 | Misc.|
Everyone familiar with the Bible knows it talks about angels and demons. But most would be surprised to learn that there’s no verse in the Bible that explains where demons came from. Christians typically assume that demons are fallen angels, cast from heaven with Satan (the Devil) right before the temptation of Adam and Eve. But guess what? There’s no such story in the Bible. The only description of anything like that is in Revelation 12:9—but the occasion for that whole episode was the birth of the messiah (Rev 12:4-6), an event long after Adam and Eve. The idea of a primeval fall of angels actually comes from church tradition and the great English poet John Milton in his epic Paradise Lost.
So if the Bible doesn’t record an ancient expulsion from heaven by hordes of angels who then became known as demons, where do demons come from?