Scripture quotations taken from the Revised English Bible, copyright © Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press 1989. All rights reserved.

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Short-form writing about the Bible, biblical studies, faith, Christianity, and more.

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Fill your devices and minds with biblical interpretation, study, history, and application.

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interpretation and reinterpretation (2017/11/05)




The Chronicler teaches us about re-interpreting the biblical text for the present day (his was over 2,000 years ago, of course), and what that means for the way in which we read Chronicles, and indeed all of scripture. In Hosea, systemic misogyny rears its ugly head and we face a stark dichotomy between soaring beauty and monstrous ethics.

alternative histories (2017/10/29)




We're playing with history in all three readings this week, all in slightly different ways. In the New Testament, Stephen throws the entire Hebrew Bible narrative on its head in pretty much the most subversive way possible. In Daniel, we have a different challenge: an alternative to the history of interpretation. But it's the Chronicler who really sets us up for this when he goes to town on a history of King Uzziah, who is largely wiped from the narrative of 2 Kings.

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patterns and participation: out-takes



One extra OT clip and NT clip this week: from 2 Chronicles we preface the kings of the divided kingdom with Solomon; and in John 18, Jesus faces down Pilate with the counter-cultural gospel of peace

patterns and participation (2017/10/22)




In our second week with Ezekiel's temple vision, we get stuck into the details and find that Ezekiel has a radical new agenda for God's people in this vision of startling and shocking new beginnings. Near the end of John's gospel, Jesus is preparing his disciples for the days ahead and facing a trial before Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. The expanded account of Asa's reign in Chronicles is a story of two starkly contrasting extremes.

temple and tradition: out-takes (New Testament edition)



In a clip from the John reading this week, I looked at why the argument about Jesus birth place is significant. It really draws out the theme of misapprehension in John's gospel: the Messiah who speaks so plainly but so unexpectedly about his mission subverts expectations, and reframes the Messianic calling itself.


the Bethlehem controversy

I was a bit sad to lose this observation on the literary irony that John brings out in the argument surrounding Jesus' origins in John 7. It took a bit too long to explain the background, though, so I let it go. Hope you enjoy this snippet of second-temple Jewishness. We're returning to second temple apocalyptic literature in a special episode on Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah in the second week of November.

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temple and tradition: out-takes (Old Testament edition)



Here are two clips that I dropped from the 1 Chronicles reading this week. In the first, the Israelite slave labourers that the Chronicler airbrushed out of the record hint at a kingdom fractured long before it finally divided under Rehoboam. In the second, we look at the Chronicler's unique record of the Levite musicians portrayed as serving in the first temple.

temple and tradition (2017/10/15)




In this episode we've got a double-helping of temple narrative: Solomon is dedicating the first temple in 2 Chronicles 5-6, and Ezekiel is envisaging the temple restored in Ezekiel 41. Meanwhile, in John's gospel, Jesus is subverting expectations and traditions in John 7, in the first of two weeks on the Fourth Gospel.

The Language of Suicide (Philippians 1)




In Philippians 1 this week, we are confronted with the first century philosophy of suicide, and the disjunction between that and the modern-day tragedy of suicide. The stigma surrounding it in our society is counter-productive to holding an awareness of the issues, and being able to support those who need somewhere to turn. Paul doesn't shy away from it and, although the view from his society is very different to ours, neither shall we.

hubris and humility (2017/10/08)




In 1 Chronicles 24-25, we have the first of two weeks concerning the first temple, but two very heavy texts in Ezekiel 34 and Philippians 1-2. Ezekiel rails against the failed Israelite leaders following the destruction of Jerusalem, and preaches the radical character of Yahweh the shepherd God. In the New Testament, Paul describes true humility and the importance of intentional love.