Category: New Testament

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.…

What are parables for?

‘In contrast to most of the parabolic sayings, such as not reaping figs from thorn bushes (Luke 6:43), the story parables do not serve to illustrate Jesus’ prosaic teaching with word pictures. Nor are they told to serve as vehicles for revealing truth—although they end up clearly doing that. Rather the story parables function as a striking way of calling forth a response on the part of the hearer. In a sense, the parable itself is the message.…

Did Jesus know Greek?

‘The New Testament itself is written in a language Jesus never spoke.’

So claims Richard Rohr (The Divine Dance: The Trinity and your transformation) in a throwaway comment.

The two main languages spoken by Jews at the time were Aramaic (in everyday communication) and Hebrew (in more formal religious matters).  But what about Greek?  This language had been spoken in Palestine for several centuries.  In Jesus’ time, its use would have been quite prevalent in the cities of the Decapolis and those, such as Capernaum, that lay on major trade routes. …

Urban legends of the New Testament

Urban Legends of the New Testament: 40 Common Misconceptions.  By David A Croteau.  Published by B&H Publishing Group (1 Aug. 2015).

This book discussed 40 misinterpretations of New Testament passages.  Strictly speaking, only some of them could be regarded as ‘urban legends’ (i.e. they are misreadings that have passed uncritically into public consciousness).  Others are passages which are liable to interpretations that simply add something to the text that isn’t really there, or subtract something that really is there.…

The role of the apostles as authoritative eyewitnesses

‘The role of the apostles as witnesses to the fact that the crucified and buried Jesus rose from the dead is central for Luke. This role is emphasized in the commissioning of the apostles (Lk 24:48; Acts 1:8), and it is central both in the description of the criteria of apostleship when the need arose to replace Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:21–22) and in Peter’s preaching and teaching (Acts 2:32; 3:15; 4:2, 10, 33; 5:32; 10:41). The apostles are “distinctive in their role as Jesus’ authorized delegates, witnesses to the reality of his resurrection and expounders of its significance” (Clark, 178).…

New Testament preaching

Robert Mounce, in his 1960 book The Essential Nature of New Testament Preaching, explains that the in outline form kerygma consisted of three parts-

1. A historical proclamation of the death, resurrection and exaltation of Jesus, seen as the fulfilment of prophecy and involving man’s responsibility.

2. A resulting theological evaluation of Jesus as both Lord and Christ.

3. An ethical summons to repent and receive forgiveness of sins.

This summary is derived from an analysis of Peter’s five speeches recorded at the beginning of Acts.…

The ‘We’ passages in Acts

Of particular interest are the ‘we’ passages in Acts. (Ac 16:10-17; 20:5-15; 21:1-18; 27:1-28:16) It is natural to assume that Luke, as author of the book, is including himself within this designation.

‘If Luke is accepted as the companion of Paul, then the “we” passages of Acts disclose that Luke was in Philippi (possibly his hometown), and that there he joined Paul. (Ac 16:10-17 ) Then he later rejoined Paul when the latter returned to Philippi.…