The classic foil for proper piety was related (and repudiated!) by Jesus in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18:9-14).  Luke specifically notes that Jesus told this parable to those who prided themselves in their own efforts at religious rule-keeping and treated others as their moral inferiors (v.9) At first blush, that […]


If scholars are correct in their judgment that the Book of Job is the oldest book in the Bible, we have ample evidence that its central theme (namely, Why do bad things happen to good people?) is nearly as old as humanity itself.  Modern horrific events like the Columbine shootings, the Aurora movie massacre, and […]


Early this morning I experienced the story of Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son, Isaac, in a fresh way.  Now I’ve read this account many times over the course of my life, and I’ve heard countless sermons preached from this passage, but something in the text drew my special attention today. For years I’ve carried […]


No one admires a traitor. The very word brings feelings of disgust. A traitor is one who betrays an allegiance–one who betrays a trust. Who admires that? But the issue is not quite as simple as that line of reasoning makes it appear. In fact, I would suggest that there can be an admirable side […]


Chances are, every single one of us at one time or another has been the victim of mistaken motives, simply because someone took something we said “out of context.” The fact is that without a full understanding of its socio-cultural context, any speech or action or event is subject to gross misinterpretation. The theological history […]


In “marked” contrast to the adopted practice of most modern historiographers who are fond of supplying graphic details of heinous events (compare, for example, Bill O’Reilly’s magnificent KILLING LINCOLN), Mark’s account of the crucifixion is striking in its silence regarding the physical torture of the cross. Although this strikes us moderns as odd (and, for […]


Genesis 47:29 offers one of the best examples of why knowledge of historical and cultural backgrounds helps readers of the Bible avoid (sometimes serious!) misunderstandings.  I mean, imagine if you went to buy a car, and instead of asking for your credit information, the salesman asked you to put your hand under his thigh, well […]


I recently read a blog (http://theocchronicles.com/2013/01/25/women-in-ministry/) that expressed the writer’s reservations about the place of women in ministry.  Ironically, the writer was a woman.  Questioning the legitimacy of women in leadership positions, she confesses:  “But for now, in January of 2013, I am not ready to abandon biblical principles that are so clearly spelled out and […]


The behavioral aspect of “love-hate” relationships is undoubtedly in view in Genesis 37:3 where we read that “Israel (the converted Jacob) ‘loved’ Joseph more than all his sons.”  This must not be taken to indicate Jacob’s emotional disconnection or disregard or, even worse, disdain for his “other” sons; the literary context and historical detail point […]


Jacob’s life is truly a paragon of the gospel.  Though not the first, he is certainly an early pioneer “sheep” extracted from a world of wandering “goats.”  As we meet him in Genesis 32, he is standing on the frontier of the land promised to his grandfather Abraham. To this point, his life has been […]