Category: Bible

The value of the Psalms

Fee and Stuart (How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth) outline three benefits of the Psalms for both their ancient and modern readers:-

1. ‘The psalms can serve as a guide to worship. By this we mean that the worshiper who seeks to praise God or to appeal to God or to remember God’s benefits can use the psalms as a formal means of expression of his or her thoughts and feelings.…

Intentional ‘contradictions’ in John’s writings

In Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know about Them), Bart D. Ehrman writes about one of his ‘favourite apparent discrepancies’ in John’s Gospel:-

It ‘comes in Jesus’ “Farewell Discourse,” the last address that Jesus delivers to his disciples, at his last meal with them, which takes up all of chapters 13 to 17 in the Gospel according to John. In John 13:36, Peter says to Jesus, “Lord, where are you going?” A few verses later Thomas says, “Lord, we do not know where you are going” (John 14:5).…

How the resurrection accounts fit their 1st century setting

The Gospel accounts of the resurrection of Jesus are sometimes thought to be hopelessly inconsistent with each other.  Thus, their historical accuracy is doubted.

One profitable line of enquiry is to how the various account line up with what is know about burial practices in the 1st century.

Ian Paul gives a few examples:-

‘Only the family tombs of the relatively wealthy would have disk-like round stones closing the entrance which need to be rolled away (and there are more and more examples of these being excavated year by year); the entrances are often quite low, so you would indeed need to stoop down to see the inside (John 20.5) and the space (unlike a modern ‘tomb’) can indeed be ‘entered’ (Mark 16.5).…

Jesus in the Proverbs

Compared with some other books of the Old Testament, it is not quite so easy to find Jesus in the Proverbs.  So writes David Murray, in Jesus On Every Page, pp175-186.  [The substance of this section of his book can be found here]

But, since all Scripture witnesses to Christ, we will look for him, and expect to find him there.  Of course, the witness of Proverbs to Jesus will be ‘temporary, provisional, preparatory, and prophetic’, because in Jesus himself, “A greater than Solomon is here.”

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Don’t overspecify the biblical text!

Mark Ward comments on the (otherwise excellent) conference speaker who, referring to Titus 2:4, said that because phileo is ‘friendship love’, it’s important for husbands and wives, and parents and children, to be friends.  Although there may well be some truth in this (Ward remarks), as far as the text in Titus is concerned, it is reading too much into the word; it is ‘overspecifying’ the text.  Husbands and wives are to be lovers, and not just friends. …

Old Testament violence: yes, let’s apply the hermeneutic of Jesus

Christian writers of a certain stripe seem to be queueing up to say pretty much the same thing: the Old Testament contains texts that have repeatedly been used to legitimate violence in the form of colonialism, abuse of women, and genocide.  We should not ignore these texts, nor yet try to justify them.  We should see, rather, how they have been thoroughly subverted by the teaching and example of Jesus Christ.

One such writer is Eric Seibert, in The Violence of Scripture: Overcoming the Old Testament’s Troubling Legacy.…

The destruction of the Canaanites: what does the New Testament say?

With regard to the parts of the Old Testament that record, encourage, or even command violence, a frequent response is that we should interpret them with a ‘Jesus hermeneutic’.  Trouble is, Jesus didn’t seem to find these accounts nearly so problematic as we do.

Distinguished Old Testament scholar John Goldingay (not exactly a died-in-the-wool fundamentalist) puts it like this:-

Many modern people don’t like the way the book portrays Joshua’s leading Israel in killing many Canaanites, but there is no indication that the New Testament shares this modern unease.…

A legacy of violence?

In his book Disarming Scripture: Cherry-Picking Liberals, Violence-Loving Conservatives, and Why We All Need to Learn to Read the Bible Like Jesus Did, Derek Flood claims that OT texts which represent God as encouraging, or even commanding, genocide ‘have been used repeatedly by Christians to justify genocides, beginning with the crusades and continuing up to present times.’

Flood mentions the Crusades, the killing by Oliver Cromwell of large numbers of Irish Catholics, the slaughter of many native Americans, and the killing of nearly a million Tutsies in the Rwandan genocide. …