And the LORD said to Abram: “Walk away.
Away from your country,
Away from your relatives,
Away from your father’s house,
To a land that I will make you see.
And I will make you into a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And I will make you famous.
And then, be a blessing.
I will bless your blessers,
But I will have to put a curse upon that man who will not take you seriously.
You are going to become an example of blessing for every family on earth.”
If the Bible is a love story between God and the whole of creation, then we’ve come in at Act 1 Scene 3. So far, it’s not been going so well for God. He has been reaching out to humanity again and again, but again and again He has been rebuffed. Rejected by Adam and Eve, rejected by the people of Noah and the citizens of Babel, the miracle of the Bible, the point of the whole story, is that God keeps trying. He doesn’t give up on us easily.
So here God decides to take a new approach - to start again at zero. Read more about Genesis 12:1-3 - Love stripped bare
There are forty days in Lent. There are thirty-nine books in the Hebrew Bible. It’s almost too good to pass up. I’ve set myself the challenge of blogging through one passage of each book of the Hebrew Bible every day during Lent - writing an exegesis and simple reflection. I don’t know if I’m going to manage it, I might end up finishing Lent in September, but I’m certainly going to give it a shot. (And announcing it here makes me psychologically more likely to feel bound to it.) Read more about My Lent challenge
The ever-excellent James McGrath comes out with another zinger of a post on why the distinction between “trusting the Bible” and “trusting human reason” is, in his words “utter bunk”: Read more about Trusting the Bible vs. Trusting Human Reason
My preferred Bible translation, by far, is the NET Bible. Not only because it’s a good, readable translation, not only because it has excellent, copious and scholarly notes providing detail of every translation decision, but because it’s free.
Well, kinda “free”. Read more about "Free" Bibles, which aren't
Last week my mentor challenged me about my devotional life. I confessed that I often only dipped into the Bible these days when I’m preparing a sermon or similar. Sometimes I do pick it up just to read, but not regularly.
When I was at All Nations I came across a great book called More Light On The Path, which gives you one verse of Hebrew, one verse of Greek and one sentence of commentary, plus any vocabulary you need. It’s devotional hardcore, but it’s about twenty pounds, and we have the Internet these days. I set myself the task of creating my own. Read more about Devotions, the hard way
The Simple Pastor links to a FAQ about the difference between Mormonism and what the Gospel Coalition grandly calls “Biblical” Christianity. (This is already a red flag for me; is there any other kind?) It turns out to be the sort of thing that makes me sad for the state of apologetics. The FAQ is a dubious collection of proof-texts with no developed argument and no exegesis. Biblical Christianity is, apparently, a facile and one-dimensional Christianity. Read more about Apologetics should take the Bible seriously
I’ve been reading the book of Proverbs on and off recently.
Much of it, let’s face it, is pretty trivially obvious. Let’s take 12:17, for instance: “The faithful witness tells what is right, but a false witness speaks deceit.” Well, yes, by definition. (Mind you, Tony once told me that if someone uses “by definition” to seal an argument, you know they’re lying.) But I’ve found two things intriguing as I’ve read through Proverbs. Read more about Wisdom
The great thing about Gordon Wenham is that he’s an outstanding Biblical scholar. I’ve read and referred to his commentaries, and they’re invaluable contributions to Biblical studies.
The unfortunate thing about Gordon Wenham, though, is that he’s an outstanding Biblical scholar. We were treated to a detailed, encyclopedic critical exegesis of the Psalms, with Wenham recapitulating the scholarly arguments about particular readings and giving a defence of his own hermeneutical method.
For forty-five minutes. I had to gnaw off my own leg to stay awake. Read more about Gordon Wenham on the nations in the Psalms
Also understand that the “slippery slope” claim of “all of the Bible is true or none of it is true” is simply an unnecessary rhetorical device designed to keep readers from doing precisely what scholars do every day: analyze each claim in the Bible on a case-by-case basis. It is not necessary to accept an “all or none” stance towards the Bible.
I wasn’t going to get into the whole “slippery slope” argument but I did have a couple of thoughts on it - my general stance on authority-of-Scripture discussions these days is pretty much exasperation that we’re still having this stupid debate. Read more about On slippery slopes
Yesterday’s Sunday Times (it was my father-in-law’s) says:
At this time of year somebody always seems to offer a radical new interpretation of the scriptures. The latest comes from Adam Bradford, a biblical scholar and GP who claims Christ was not, after all, the son of a humble carpenter. After studying Greek texts, Dr Bradford says Joseph was actually an architect or master builder of great social standing. It was only a mistranslation of the Greek word “tekton” that placed him at the carpenter’s lathe.
A “new interpretation” first arrived at by that well-known radical, Origen of Alexandria in 248AD:
He next scoffs at the “tree,” assailing it on two grounds, and saying, “For this reason is the tree introduced, either because our teacher was nailed to a cross, or because he was a carpenter by trade;” not observing that the tree of life is mentioned in the Mosaic writings, and being blind also to this, that in none of the Gospels current in the Churches is Jesus Himself ever described as being a carpenter.