The Menorah is mentioned in two passages in the NT: once in Hebrews (9:2) and then in the opening vision of Revelation. In this latter apocalyptic vision, the menorah. with its seven lamps, is identified with the seven churches to whom the vision is directed, with each receiving a message to its angel or messenger (Greek angelos means “messenger”). These churches were all located in the western region of modern day Turkey. It is notable that the One in the vision is seen as being “in the midst” and “walking among the lampstands”.
This week’s Torah reading is Vayeira (וַיֵּרָ֤א—”And he appeared”) Genesis 18:1-22:24. It includes the promise that Sarah would have a son, Isaac or Yitzak—a boy named “laughter” because Sarah (who was 90 in the biblical narrative) laughed when she heard it. I suppose, in this regard, he could have easily been called named Yivkeh, “weeping”.
On this day in 63 BCE, Gaius Octavius Thurinus was born. When he was nineteen, he would become the adopted heir of his great-uncle, Julius Caesar. We know him as Octavianus or Caesar Augustus, the first Emperor of Rome.
Later during his reign, his birth was celebrated as that of a Savior, as is recorded in the Greek Priene Calendar Inscription:
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A group I meet with on Thursday nights has been studying the Gospel of John, and as we’ve progressed I’ve been working my way through it in Greek, trying to do my own translation. What I’ve found is that I have great sympathy and empathy for Bible translators, who (among a multitude of other struggles) are so often forced to take all the nuanced options in original languages and reduce them to one. Or they have to take wordplays in one language and try to figure out solutions for making them work in translation (or not). Sometimes, however, I wonder “Why did they make that translation choice!?” because for one reason or other it just doesn’t make sense to me. One of those passages is John 15:1-4. Continue reading →
There’s this piece gaining momentum on Facebook status updates that was written by Tony Perkins with the Family Research Council. In it, Perkins tells the story of one Tuscon pastor’s failed attempt to get aid to the unaccompanied and undocumented minors being held at the Nogales Placement Center in Arizona, and then uses this anecdotal story as evidence to accuse the US government (specifically, President Obama) of “banning” the church from helping. He says: Continue reading →
Two scholars, Bart Ehrman and Craig Evans, are having a debate over Ehrman’s positioni in his recently released How Jesus Became God that Jesus’ body would not have been buried. Evans makes the case otherwise.
While I agree with Evan’s position that Jesus was, in fact, buried, Ehrman is a good scholar, and this post on his blog describing crucifixion is well written. Here is an important snippet:
There’s a lot going on with Pauline studies in the theological world (as if that’s anything new). It can really be difficult to keep up with in terms of reading. N.T. Wright’s latest work, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, has over 1700 pages! If you’re interested in a brief synopsis where things are concerning Pauline studies from Wright’s perspective, the attached video of Wright being interviewed by Michael J. Gorman is a good start. (Thanks to Kurt Willems for posting it).
Professor Lawrence Shiffman, in part three of a series on Schisms in Jewish History, has written a nice summary of some of the differing groups that would have been active near the lifetime of Jesus. Some of these, the Pharisees and Sadducees, are mentioned in the New Testament. What is often missed in our understanding of the first century Jewish world is the level of diversity present within it. Continue reading →
Okay, so I have a lot of pet peeves.
One of them is when someone makes expert-like claims about this or that in the Bible as it’s related to Hebrew or Greek when it is obvious they have no knowledge of either language.
So today I’m responding to an article a friend shared on Facebook (I know, I know: people with pet peeves should never even get close to Facebook). The article was titled “Cain’s Wife—Who Was She?” and is apparently part 6 of a series by Ken Ham, a fairly well-known Christian apologist (you know, the one who debated Bill Nye). This article (though written in 2007) is apparently headlining the Answers in Genesis (Ham’s apologetics organization) homepage today.
As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus.Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him.Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.
(Matthew 27.57–61 NIV)
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised,and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
(Matthew 27.50–54 ESV)