Hollywood’s “Whitewashing” of the Bible

Hollywood’s “Whitewashing” of the Bible

As Hollywood seems to be expressing a new interest in the Bible (Noah, Son of God, Exodus, et. al.), Jonathan Smith has some thoughts that I resonate with regarding the lack of ethnic diversity and accuracy in casting:

With the abundance of talent in the cast of Exodus, I should be perfectly fine with these actors in their character roles, but I’m not. Whitewashing biblical movies presents the characters of the early Western creation story as a homogenous, Euro-centric bloc instead of acknowledging the diversity of that has existed in our society for thousands of years . . . Would biblical stories be any different or less impactful if the characters were all dark skinned?

You can read the entirety of Jonathan’s post here.

(Title image is from Warner Bros. movie The 10 Commandments)

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Mark Riddle: Thoughts From an Unchurched Pastor

My longtime friend, Mark Riddle, has just written a great post about where he is on the journey towards Jesus and what that means for him regarding church.  Please read the whole thing.  He says some difficult things, but the content and intent is good and honest.  I resonate with much of it.  Here’s an excerpt:

Sorry for making you feel guilty for having a life outside of the church. You were on to something.  It was better that you volunteered at the school, the team or the squad more than the church. I was wrong.  Your commitment to the soccer team may have been more important that my retreat. Your commitment to the band connected you to far more kids who needed you, than in the stuff I led.

—Mark Riddle

Read the entire post at liquidthinking.

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Of Oar Fish, Sea Monsters, Dragons of Chaos, and the Bible

Of Oar Fish, Sea Monsters, Dragons of Chaos, and the Bible

The recent find on October 13th of a dead, 18 foot oarfish off the California coast brought to mind all the books I read as a child about sea monsters. Seeing the pictures of the long, narrow body of the  typically deep sea fish (which can actually grow up to over 50 feet), it is easy to understand why sailers of an earlier time would have thought, on the rare occasion one approached the surface, that it was a giant “sea serpent“.  Coincidentally, the Smithsonian ran a fascinating article just a few days later promoting the release of two new books (here and here) dealing with maps and sea monsters.

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George Athas on Discoveries of Ancient Inscriptions in Israel and the Bible

George Athas on Discoveries of Ancient Inscriptions in Israel and the Bible

One of the scholarly dangers in our field is letting the excitement of an inscriptional find take us down avenues where we want to go, rather than having a more restrained approach. Part of the problem with this is, as many archaeologists and historians have found in recent years, the news media are prone to sensationalizing finds when they bear upon ‘biblical’ times without our coaxing. The result is the dissemination of misinformation. And news certainly travels quickly these days.

Read More At The ASOR Blog
(image courtesy of the Israeli Antiquities Authority)

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Woe To the Pharisees: A Gospel Reading With An Addendum

Woe To the Pharisees: A Gospel Reading With An Addendum

“When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised. Then the Lord said to him, ‘Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But give what is inside the dish to those in need, and everything will be clean for you.

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A Different Category

A Different Category

A scene rom the movie Gandhi:

Prosecutor: [reading from Gandhi’s material] “‘…Non-cooperation has one aim: the overthrow of the [British] government. Sedition must become our creed. We must give no quarter nor can we expect any.’ Do you deny writing it?”

Gandhi: “Not at all. And I will save the courts time by stating under oath that to this day I believe that non-cooperation with evil is a duty, and that I believe British rule of India is evil.”

Prosecutor: “The prosecution rests, my lord.”

Judge: “I presume you are conducting your own defense, Mr. Gandhi?”

Gandhi: “I have no defense, my lord. I am guilty as charged. And if you truly believe in the system of law which you administer in our country, then you must inflict on me the severest penalty possible.”

[The judge hesitates…seemingly overwhelmed and awed by Gandhi’s words.]

Judge: “It is impossible for me to ignore that you are in a different category from any person I have tried, or are likely to try. Nevertheless, I sentence you to six years in prison [murmuring and shouting among those gathered in the court]…But if our Majesty’s government should, at some later date, see fit to reduce the term, no one will be better pleased than I.”

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Theological Discussions at the Doyle House

Theological Discussions at the Doyle House

I came across this old post from 2008, and I enjoyed remembering it so much that I had to repost it.  (Please note that my children are older, but the conversations haven’t necessarily changed that much.)

The following is from 2008:

So I walk into the living room and overhear the end of an apparently deep theological discussion among my daughters.

Hailey (9):  “. . . God can do anything.”

Abby (5, thinks for a few seconds):  “God can swim?”

Hailey: Anything, Abby.”

Abby:  “Even make cards?”

Hailey:  “God can do anything.”

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Newly Discovered Coptic Fragment of the Gospel of John

Newly Discovered Coptic Fragment of the Gospel of John

On his blog Brice C. Jones has written about his discovery of an unpublished Sahidic Coptic fragment of John and his upcoming published presentation of the find in New Testament Studies next spring (April 2014).   According to his post, this fragment is the earliest known all Coptic manuscript containing commentary on the Gospel text delineated by the heading “hermeneia” (“interpretation” or “explanation”).  He does not mention the possible dating of the fragment, however.  According to Jones, other Coptic manuscripts containing hermeneia segments are bilingual, with a mixture of Coptic and Greek.

Congrats on a great find!

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Free Resources On Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism

Free Resources On Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism

Well known scholar Dr. Lawrence Schiffman has made two brief works on early Judaism available for free on his website. I have not read these particular essays (yet), but I have read some of his published material and have listened to entire semesters worth of Schiffman’s lectures on topics such as Second Temple Judaism, the Hebrew Bible, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. I highly encourage anyone who is interested in early Judaism or the contextual background of the New Testament to take advantage of this opportunity to download these resources. Continue reading

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