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


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minicast: Composition of Torah

As we prepare to get stuck into Torah in 2019, here's the first 4QS minicast! It's a brief introduction to source critical theories of composition, particularly focusing on the modern form of the Documentary Hypothesis. I also give a quick intro to other composition theories, and discuss the important question: why does it matter?

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literature and renewal (2018/12/02)

An extended segment on Job dives into the curious framing narrative that opens the book. With a heightened sense of reality and a gathering of divine beings, what's really going on here - and what part does it really play in the drama of Job? A similar, literary look at the middle of the Jonah narrative gives way to a consideration of what modern people do with ancient prophecy - and Hebrews picks up that question and runs with it!

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law and vindication (2018/11/11)

Ezra - second Moses, wise as kings, expert in Torah - comes to restore to the people of Judah the true worship and knowledge of the blessed Yahweh, God of their fathers. The pre-exilic setting of Hosea makes a great juxtaposition with Ezra's post-exilic memoir this week, and Paul is reaching the end of his tumultuous life journey in Acts.

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prophecy and revelation (2018/10/28)

It's a slightly longer episode this week, due to an extra-long segment on Daniel 4. I thought I knew exactly what I was getting into there, but it ended up throwing me a curve ball. I really wanted to share it all with you, so I went a bit light on 2 Chronicles to fit it all in. We're going back to the Septuagint again this week as well, to shed some more light on both the Daniel and Acts passages.

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imagination and growth (2018/10/21)

Does God delight in the massacre of his people's enemies? In Chronicles this week, he enables the slaughter of towns and tents full of civilians. If that weren't challenging enough: when God will live with his people in the future Kingdom, will it look like ancient Near Eastern cultic worship? And just to cap it all off, Jesus likes you to believe some stuff, but what he really expects you to do is get out there and do something about it.

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Trajectories (Ephesians 5-6)

Another Sunday morning talk for you this week, based in the Ephesians 5-6 reading from the Bible Companion plan on Sunday 7th October. I was addressing a challenging subject from the household code section: how do we move forward from the pages of scripture toward the light of Jesus Christ? What does it look like to really engage the text in our lives?

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Gospel to the Marginalised (Luke 8)

We've been calling Luke's gospel 'the gospel to the marginalised', for his consistent focus on Jesus' interactions with people on the edges of society. But what does that mean in practice? It's much easier to study the text and observe how the narrative works, than it is to answer the challenge to enact the same in our own churches and lives.

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judgment and responsibility (2018/09/16)

Continuing our recent theme of the relationship between the Bible and history, King Josiah is front and center for the Deuteronomist this week - though God's response is objectively surprising (if literarily inevitable). Ezekiel is doing his Masterpiece Theatre thing again, and Luke cuts short a quotation to throw wide the doors of God's mercy.

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emotion and hierarchy (2018/09/02)

It's our one-year anniversary! We're looking at the significance of the generic 'Elisha and the king of Israel' stories early in 2 Kings, and really getting stuck into the emotional struggle in Lamentations. In 1 Corinthians, our spirit is tested again - this time by the non-hierarchical organisation of the early Pauline churches.

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retribution and conscience (2018/08/26)

As we continue to engage with the historical storytelling of the Deuteronomist, we're confronted with whiny cry-baby King Ahab and a sneak attack by the challenge of divine retribution. Jeremiah has a screed against Moab and a peek into pre-exilic Israelite religion. But mostly we're spending this week with the apostle Paul, talking about sex, marriage, and the Christian conscience.

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lost stories: out-takes

Romans 16 is full of the stories of Paul's fellow-labourers in the gospel, but in Romans 15 is a reference to Paul's own lost story: a period of years where he was preaching in Jerusalem. It's not the only scripture that refers to this time, either.

lost stories (2018/08/05)

How do we read the biblical narratives (and counter-narratives) when we can see that there are so many stories and lives not recorded? In this episode, we read around and behind the text to see more of the world and characters inside it: from the ambiguity of the once-outlaw King David, to the early church leaders and teachers Phoebe, Priscilla, and Junia.

faith and fire (2018/07/29)

Well, for a 'shorter summer episode' this one turned out to have legs. The King David narrative has reached Absalom's rebellion in 2 Samuel, which really brings up questions about how David's reign got to the point of a coup; and in Romans, Paul is giving it some welly. (Jeremiah is pretty horrific, actually, but that brings its own questions to the fore.)

promise and ambiguity (2018/07/22)

Strap in for another short but fun week on 4QS, despite being late due to holidays and other stuff. There's quite a lot packed into these here 20 minutes: how God flips everything upside down by refusing David permission to build him a house, how Jeremiah takes God to court, and just what is all this hell talk from Jesus about anyway?

heavens and earth (2018/07/15)

This week we introduce ourselves to Jeremiah, the Reverse Moses, and an epic, ironic, mythological indictment of Israelite idolatry. Jeremiah leaks into the Matthew reading this week as Jesus is compared to the prophet in a Matthean addition to the original account from Mark.

humanity (2018/07/08)

This week we're looking for the first time at what I expect will be a recurring theme: sanitised and euphemised stories about David. There's also an interesting dialogue in Isaiah as the prophet sets up a knockout. And in Matthew, Jesus preaches a high view of humanity.

rebirth and reiteration: out-takes

Another 'anchor point' of the Revelation narrative is the release of destructive forces from an abyss by an agent of God bearing a key. Here's one possible way of reading this bit of narrative in the context of the wider apocalyptic story of the book.

rebirth and reiteration (2018/06/24)

The Bible Companion drops an enormous chunk of Revelation on us this week, almost as though it just wants the Apocalypse to be over. So, there's a double-length NT segment this week as we get stuck in to the narrative and its dual contexts: the Hebrew Bible prophets, and the letters to seven early Christian churches that open the book.

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severed (2018/06/17)

No punches pulled this week, folks. The Judges story narrates a story of truly inhuman violence that pushes the tribes into a civil war, and we are forced to confront the age-old abomination of man's inhumanity to woman. Thankfully, Deutero-Isaiah and the John pull us back from the brink to show us the better way.

Taste and See (1 Peter)

For this week's bonus episode is an introduction to 1 Peter that I recorded last year. We look at the social backdrop of the letter, and how its quintessentially Christian concepts of society and association arise from it. Its counter-cultural message of social equalisation, humility, and servant leadership still challenge us today.

kings and empires (2018/06/10)

We're into the first of two weeks in Judges, with its downwards-spiraling narrative and mixed bag of characters. Jerub-baal (aka Gideon) is up this week, and we watch him swing from hesitance to not-a-king-but-actually-kind-of-kingly. In the prophets we're bridging the contexts of First and Second Isaiah, and in the New Testament we're back in James 5 with sociological and ecclesiological challenges.

faithfulness and re-creation (2018/06/03)

Well, I hope you've enjoyed our time in Joshua these three weeks: this week we've reached the end of the dividing of the Land. The book still has surprises and challenges for us, as we explore the role of God's people in fulfilling God's promises. In Isaiah we have two chapters about re-creation, and in Hebrews we're looking at how the writers quotes Psalm 40.

peace and war (2018/05/27)

We're still in the weeds of the conquest narrative in Joshua, and we're hitting that hard this week. Allow scripture to challenge and inspire you, and we'll be fine. In Isaiah we have a glorious, hopeful vision of the work of God in the world, as one who comes to bless all peoples. Finally, in 2 Timothy we take a wider view of the letter and try to restrain our natural affinity for reading scripture as an instruction manual.

history and commentary (2018/05/20)

In the first of two weeks tackling one of the most difficult issues in the Hebrew Bible, we dive into the Canaanite genocide narratives in Joshua. Beginning with Jericho, we look at the historical and ideological background of the text and try to figure out where God is in this narrative. Isaiah 10 features Jerusalem unbowed, unbroken, and triumphant over Assyria; and in 2 Thessalonians there's a text critical issue to examine.

knowing and being known (2018/05/13)

I've just about talked myself into doing a weekly Torah slot, because this is the last week in Torah on the Bible Companion for this year! This week, the end of Deuteronomy is our springboard for considering how we as Christians approach the Law of Moses and the wider Hebrew Bible. We're also starting the rest of our year with the Hebrew prophets (up first: Isaiah until July) and finishing Acts all over again (with a literary twist, this time around).

pilgrimage and belonging: out-takes

I got a bit carried away with Torah this week, and tried to cram in an overview of all the stuff I would have spent the last four months talking about if I hadn't been off the air. They're both about the arrangement of the written material in the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, and how an awareness of that can help us to read Torah more carefully and faithfully.

pilgrimage and belonging (2018/04/29)

We're back! Our first weekly show in four months brings us back just in time to do Deuteronomy and catch the end of the wisdom literature in Ecclesiastes. In the New Testament slot we're trying a new feature to avoid repeating a segment from last October: looking behind the story in the text to consider the story of the text. In this extended show, we'll examine three text critical issues in Acts 7.

Introduction To New Testament Textual Criticism

I'm excited to venture into New Testament textual criticism on the podcast, in a new format for the New Testament segment of the weekly show. To introduce the new segment, here's a special episode with a brief overview of the discipline.

Changing The Script (Esther 1-2)

After an extended break due to illness, four cubits and a span will be returning with new episodes in April!

To tide you over, this special episode is a nice follow-up to last November's episode Justice with Addie Whitcomb, where we looked at Esther 1. It picks up on some threads that we didn't have time to explore, and moves along into chapter 2 to look at Mordecai's part in Esther's story. I even have a go at putting Esther in its Jewish literary context by comparing it with other biblical and extra-biblical texts that put female perspective and power front and centre.