We assume that as the centuries go by, we’re growing more intellectually sophisticated. But modernity has actually dulled our senses to a reality that biblical peoples had no problems experiencing.
To understand your Bible you need to grasp the assumptions of its cultural world. Sometimes glimpsing its alternative point of view can even put our own reality into perspective. For instance, in the Ancient Near East, advanced age was not seen as something to be avoided. Aging was seen a source of honor and dignity. […]
The “deeper magic” of Narnia—the idea that the sins of one person can be forgiven because of another person’s sacrifice—is a fundamental precept of Christianity. You might think this was something that the New Testament invented. But Jewish scholars find this idea in subtle nuances of the Torah that Christians rarely read.
As I research my next book, I’ve been reading up on Jesus’ Hebraic, Jewish culture and how it contrasts with the Western culture in which we live. I keep bumping into great books I haven’t seen before. I thought I’d share a couple that are free to read or download because they are out of […]
Ken Bailey has written a number of fascinating books on Jesus in his Middle Eastern context. In his introduction to Finding the Lost Cultural Keys to Luke 15 (Concordia, 1992), he explains a key difference between how Westerners think and communicate and how Jesus did. Westerners primarily communicate in concepts, but Middle Easterners communicate in […]
A friendly, bite-sized study of five flavorful Hebrew words. Readers taste the ancient wisdom of Hebrew and see how useful it can be for reading both Old and New Testaments. (Ebook, 2014)
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?
The idea that emotions are irrational and unnatural arose from Greco-Roman philosophy and has influenced Western theology for thousands of years, giving rise to the idea that God is “impassible,” emotionless. Many of our problems with God come from this unbiblical idea.
With the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matt 7:2 . In Jesus’ words above about the “measure you use,” he was using a classic rabbinic idea called midah keneged midah (mee-dah kah-NEG-ed mee-dah), which means, literally, “measure corresponding to measure.” Paul also used this style of reasoning. Knowing more about the […]
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, […]
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.
I recently told you about some of the interesting Norwegian words I grew up saying, like “uff-da” and “vasakope.” As my immigrant ancestors were learning English, they hung on to words in their mother tongue that did a better job of expressing what they meant to say. My relatives weren’t the only ones doing this. […]