Kevin Kilty and Mark Elliott have written yet another article arguing that the Talpiot tomb is likely to be the tomb of Jesus’ family. Their new article aims to overturn a number of objections made by Jodi Magness in her book Stone and Dung, Oil and Spit: Jewish Daily Life in the Time of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011). As with their earlier work, Kilty and Elliott’s latest effort displays a faulty understanding of the numbers involved in calculating the odds that the Talpiot tomb is the tomb of Jesus’ family.
What is the “canonical approach,” and in what respect is its main supporting argument a “shell game”?
Is faith antithetical to possessing (or seeking) empirical or rational supports for what we believe? If we may (with qualification) speak of believing as a sort of knowing, then does the Bible construe faith-knowing and rational knowing as mutually exclusive?
How do the results of a debate that raged more than three centuries after the New Testament was written affect the way most Westerners read Paul’s theology? Put briefly, Augustine effected a revolution in understanding what the human predicament is, how Christ saves us from it, and what the role of justification is within the larger understanding of salvation.
Professor James D. Tabor, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, has responded to Dr. Jack Poirier’s critical review of Tabor’s recently published The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006).
Tabor has an annoying habit of promoting remote possibilities into even possibilities, and then into probabilities.
One occasionally encounters the view that saving faith is a gift from God, and that those who believe are able to do so only because God gave them the faith to do so. The scary correlate of this view is that those who don’t believe are plumb out of luck: God hasn’t seen fit to give them the faith they need.
In the marketplace of ideas, legitimate biblical scholarship competes with the likes of Erich von Deniken (Chariots of the Gods) and Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code), and other sensationalists.
Many readers from my generation probably remember the hilarious riposte by Bluto, a character in the movie Animal House: “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?!” One could not ask for a funnier example of a historical howler than that, and John Belushi’s performance made it even more hilarious. But historical howlers are not always funny. Consider, for example, the factual errors strewn throughout Dan Brown’s runaway bestseller, The Da Vinci Code.
The Gospels, the book of Acts, and Paul’s letters tend to dominate our view of early Christianity. With the possible exception of Revelation, the books that appear after the Pauline corpus (i.e., Hebrews, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude) are usually treated as little more than extraneous sweepings, even by those who would never intend to slight any part of the Bible.
In the first of a series of blogs on recommended readings, I would like to call attention to four books (listed by date of release) on a topic that few readers of the New Testament understand: Jewish ritual purity laws. There are four books on the topic that I recommend to every student of the New Testament:
Einstein famously claimed that “God does not play dice.” In what follows, I argue that God does not play Scrabble, either. That is, the idea of a so-called Bible Code, in which confirmatory words or messages can be extracted from the Bible by reading the letters as they fall at a certain frequency, is completely false.
Within popular piety in America today, it is widely believed that the Bible instructs Christians, either explicitly or implicitly, to give ten percent of their income to their local churches. Pastors teach this in the name of the biblical notion of “tithing”, a term applied to the giving of ten percent of one’s crops and flocks to the Levites. However, the Bible nowhere even remotely suggests that Christians are supposed to give ten percent of their income to the church, or anything.
The twentieth century saw the birth of a number of new theological movements within the church. The most powerful of these movements was postliberalism, a largely American movement whose ideas are based squarely on the writings of the Swiss theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968).
Many of the articles featured on this website refer to the Jerusalem School’s essential disagreements with mainstream scholarship.* The popularizing nature of the website, however, suggests that areas of potential agreement with mainstream scholarship are also worthy of note, especially where the position in question represents an important shift from ideas that are nearly universal in confessional contexts.
Everyone knows that biblical verses should not be taken out of context, and most people can probably name a few examples of verses that are often abused in this way. I would like to suggest that one of the most commonly quoted verses in popular piety today is abused in this way, and hardly anyone seems to have noticed. The verse to which I refer is Romans 8:28.
I sing not, but (in sighes abrupt),
Sob out the State of Man, corrupt
By th’ Old Serpent’s banefull breath:
Whose strong Contagion still extends
To every creature that descends
From the old Little World of Death.
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