I don’t write many book reviews, but I wanted to share a new book that I’m really enjoying. It’s Seriously Dangerous Religion, (Baylor, 2014) by Iain Provan, Old Testament professor at Regent College. The subtitle is “What the Old Testament Really Says and Why it Matters.” In it he traces out the biblical story as […]
Life was incredibly cheap in ancient times, and Near Eastern law codes reflected this fact. In Israel, however, murder was seen as an offense against God himself. Many of Israel’s uniquely humanitarian laws were based on the peculiar and supreme value that God placed on human life.
How did the laws of the Torah sound in the ancient world? What radical new ideas was God was teaching? These are some of the things I’m writing about right now for my next book, called Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus. I gave a talk a few months ago on this in the Haverim […]
Have you seen the news for the latest breakthrough weight-loss program, The Daniel Plan, by Rick Warren? It’s a 40-day plan (like his other books) to help individuals and church groups take off the flab and get in shape. Like other Bible-based diet plans, it’s built on the story in the first chapter in Daniel. […]
To modern Christians, many Old Testament laws seem arbitrary. One in particular may strike you as odd — the commandment to wear tassels. In Numbers it says, Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels […]
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 […]
We can gain much insight from hearing rabbinic wisdom about what it means to “hallow the name” (Kiddush Hashem) and to “profane the name” (Hillul Hashem). These two phrases are rich with significance in Jewish tradition, having been used from the first century until today.
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.
I used to think that Jesus’ command to make disciples simply meant teaching people certain beliefs about God, helping them to accept Christ as Lord, and then educating them in doctrinal truth later on. Though all these are important, this way of defining discipleship showed that I, like many westerners, approached the gospel primarily as […]
Some people have rejected Christmas and Easter because of their origins. But the examples of the standing stone and bronze serpent shed light on whether a practice is “pagan” in God’s eyes.