Imagine yourself as a first-century resident of Capernaum. You have heard Jesus speak and seen him heal people, but you have also heard a lot of criticism. Some have accused him of being soft on the law, saying that Jesus is undermining the Torah and leading people astray. So now, as you sit on the […]
We live in a Western culture that often doesn’t grasp the implications of the non-Western thinking that goes on Scripture. This past month, I had a real-life example of how a slight difference in definition can cause a huge misunderstanding. If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ve heard about Rev. Dr. Milly Erema, an Old […]
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.
Modern Bible readers are often frustrated by the fact that the Bible is full of multiple retellings of stories, and they aren’t always in exact agreement with each other. Indeed, from the very first page of Genesis we find that even the creation story itself is told two times, in Genesis 1 and 2. We […]
Dear Pastors (and other friends), could this be the year that we don’t repeat an ugly error? The crowds that shouted “Crucify” at Jesus’ trial were not the same ones that cheered with shouts of “Hosanna” on Palm Sunday. This story has resulted in egregious antisemitism over the centuries, but it can be corrected simply […]
Cultures where people act as if a righteous God is watching tend to prosper as a result, believe it or not.
(This is a slightly longer version of the article I wrote for Premier Christianity this month that includes footnotes.) In recent years, some Christians, including my fellow Premier Christianity columnist Chine McDonald, have decided to stop using masculine pronouns (he/him) for God. Chine made some very good points in her recent article, including that God […]
According to Deuteronomy 25:5-10, in Israel when a man died without a son, his wife would be taken in marriage by one of his other brothers. The reason was so that the man’s “name would not be cut off” and his property would pass on to a male heir. This also assured that the widow […]
A few months ago I went to Uganda to visit an Old Testament scholar there, Rev. Dr. Milly Erema, who reads the Bible with “ancient” eyes. (More below.) Many of her insights come from living in a traditional eastern African society not far from the biblical world, culturally. Answers to many modern biblical conundrums become […]
It is easy for Christians to read these passages smugly, as if only the foolish Pharisees could make these mistakes. Instead, we should see the sayings of Jesus as wise words to anyone who yearns to obey God.