The word “fear” is common in the Old Testament, and to many it sounds like we should cringe in dread of God’s presence. We also find “fear” in the New Testament too. Why is there so much fear in the Bible?
At this time of year, people everywhere are setting up nativity scenes. We’re used to having an odd mixture of characters around the manger — some scruffy shepherds, some glittering angels, a few animals, and of course a brand new little family. To many of us, the characters that are oddest are the magi, or […]
I used to struggle with why we have the stories we do in Genesis – about the sons of Jacob destroying the city of Shechem, or Reuben sleeping with his father’s servant girl. My expectation was that the Bible was a book of simple moral stories to teach me how to live. Actually, the point […]
Most Christians would agree — the levitical law that wins the prize for weird is Deuteronomy 22:11: “Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together.” Why on earth did God make such an odd prohibition? I used to roll my eyes at this one. In its ancient context, though, the law had a […]
What do we need to believe to be saved? What if we can’t be perfectly sure of the absolute accuracy of every biblical document that has been preserved? Are we in trouble? I’ve seen a lot of folks get tied up in knots over this. I’d like to suggest that there’s actually a simple answer, […]
How does the epic history of Abraham’s descendants relate to the overall story of salvation? Ancient ideas about family are key to the logic of both the Old and New Testaments.
In biblical times, people defined themselves entirely by their family role and identity. In this exercise you can consider how you’d see yourself through their eyes.
Our modern, Western culture revolves around the individual. In the biblical world, family was everything. What does that actually mean though, in terms of how they thought? I found a fascinating description of this worldview in The Shadow of the Sun, by Ryszard Kapuscinski, as he describes the peoples he encounters throughout his travels in […]
Biblical Hebrew includes only about 8,000 words, far fewer than the 100,000 or more we have in English. Because Hebrew has so few words, each is like an over-stuffed suitcase, bulging with extra meanings that it must carry in order for the language to fully describe reality. Unpacking each word is a delightful exercise in […]
The word for “orphan” in the Bible also referred to children who were fatherless, because having a single parent was a terrible fate too. Nowadays we don’t have many orphans, but we have a lot of single parent families.
You have to admit, some Bible passages are real head- scratchers. For instance, in several places God says, “I will not remember your sins.” But how can God, in his infinite intellect, forget something? And what does he expect of us, since we pray, “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against […]
One hazy late August morning a few years ago, I nearly lost my way in the desert. I was so dehydrated, deflated and defeated, that I nearly gave up the hike. For nearly a year I had been trekking through the Torah week by week for my morning Bible study, taking part in the centuries-old […]