God’s Mercy and Our Disobedience

Articles Leave a Comment

Reading a passage from the New Testament against the backdrop of ancient Jewish tradition can sometimes add to the its significance. Romans 11:30-36 is one such passage, where without knowing the Jewish tradition to which Paul alluded, we run the risk of not hearing his emphasis clearly: God is merciful and his ways, incomprehensible.

Deliver Us From Evil

Articles 2 Comments

At the end of Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer we read, “But deliver us from evil” in the King James Version and Revised Standard Version. A number of more recent English translations differ. The Good News Bible, New Century Bible, New International Version, New Jerusalem Bible and New Revised Standard Version all render Matthew 6:13b as keep us, save us, rescue us, or deliver us “from the evil one.” The difference is significant, and invites our curiosity.

Noun Chains in the Gospels

Articles Leave a Comment

Compared to Greek and English, Hebrew has few adjectives. As noted in “Hendiadys in the Synoptic Gospels,” one way Hebrew overcomes this scarcity of adjectives is by linking two nouns with the conjunction “and.” Grammarians call this usage “hendiadys,” two terms connected by “and” forming a unit in which one member is used to qualify the other. The Hebrew language developed a second way of overcoming its limited inventory of adjectives: the construct state. This grammatical structure is similar to hendiadys in that two nouns are juxtaposed. In contrast to hendiadys, where two nouns are linked together by the conjunction “and,” construct state nouns have no connective between them. They stand in a relationship of possession: the first of the nouns is possessed by the second. “House-family,” for instance, is understood in Hebrew to mean “house of a family,” that is, “a family’s house.”

The Synagogue the Centurion Built

Articles 2 Comments

The third Evangelist recorded in the seventh chapter of his Gospel a story about Jesus, the Jewish elders of Capernaum, a Roman centurion and their affable relations. From rabbinic texts and other literary sources like the New Testament, we know that despite years of suffering brought upon the Jewish people by their Roman overlords, there were instances when Jew and Roman behaved amicably toward one another. Luke 7:1-10 stands out as one such episode.

Insulting God’s High Priest

Articles 1 Comment

Recent research has shown that Sadducees, not Pharisees, were responsible for the death of Jesus. An incident recounted in the Book of Acts provides a glimpse of the Sadducean high priests’ corrupt behavior. Little wonder the Sadducees were despised by the common people.

Emulating the Ways of Sodom

Articles 1 Comment

The Gospel writer Luke recorded a story that Jesus told about an anonymous rich man and a poor man named Lazarus. Living in splendor, the rich man enjoyed his wealth, whereas Lazarus pined away outside the rich man’s gated home. The story gives the reader the impression that the rich man did little to alleviate Lazarus’ pain. He probably reasoned that what was his was his, and what was Lazarus’ was Lazarus’.

A New Portrait of Salome

Articles 2 Comments

Salome’s image has been obscured and marred due to the personas created for her by writers of the past 150 years. Salome is famous for the part she played in the execution of John the Baptist. Since 1863, she has been depicted in books and films as morally depraved. Diligent research reveals, however, that the real Salome is much different than popular portrayals.

Walk after Me!

Articles Leave a Comment

Do we as Christians take seriously “the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5)? If we did, how would it change our perspective? Apparently not, if we are to judge by the essentials of apostolic faith as defined in early church creeds. Typically these creeds skip from Jesus’ supernatural origins to his sacrificial death. The Apostles’ Creed, for instance, emphasizes that Jesus Christ, the “Son of God, was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, was crucified in the days of Pontius Pilate, and died, and rose from the grave….” What about the events between his birth and death? Are not his teachings fundamental to our faith, too?