Which Old Testament?

On the central importance of the Septuagint

Timothy’s scriptures

from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God 2 Timothy 3:15-16 KJV

Paul commends the spiritual heritage of Timothy, noting his childhood education provided him a solid grounding in Scripture. Occasionally we might be prompted to ask – what Scripture? It is self-evidence to most Protestants today that Paul is referring to the Hebrew bible, or Old Testament (OT) reflected in the Protestant canon. However, this is making assumptions, quite a few assumptions but we will explore only one – which text was scripture? Continue reading “Which Old Testament?”

Prophet Model: the divine perspective

Challenging and questioning the dominant culture from the divine perspective

It is unsurprising to find that the poetic form and language of prophecy speaks to individual Christians in different ways. Writ large in metaphor and hyperbole, the motifs of judgement and salvation present an enduring message of hope that has universal reach. But indiscriminate application of these words to contemporary events imposes modern concerns on text intended to convey something entirely different: the divine perspective. Continue reading “Prophet Model: the divine perspective”

Help my unbelief

Christ is the bridge between our needs and our capacity

In Mark 9 we read about the healing of the epileptic boy (there are parallel accounts in Matt 17 and Luke 9). This record powerfully demonstrates not only the importance of faith for a disciple but more – the willingness of the Lord to bridge the gap when our own resources are inadequate. Continue reading “Help my unbelief”

The Didache

A 1st century manual on Christian morals and Church practice

The Didache (Greek, ‘The Teaching’) is an ancient Christian writing generally dated towards the end of the 1st Century AD.1 For centuries its existence was only known through sporadic references in the works of the early church fathers, and scholars believed it was lost forever. Continue reading “The Didache”

Murder, Anger, and Reconciliation

To insult someone is to insult the God who created them

The section of the Sermon on the Mount subtitled “Anger” (ESV), “Concerning Anger” (NRSV), or “Murder” (NIV) in Matthew 5:21-27 is both familiar and strange. We understand what it means to insult someone and to be angry with someone, but we may not be sure what “raca” means, nor possibly would we understand why the punishment for doing so is to be “in danger of hell fire”. What is the difference between the “judgement” and the “council”? How does one pay a debt to the last penny when one is stuck in a debtors’ prison? Like much in the Sermon on the Mount, there’s some digging to do before the passage is as clear to us as it would have been to the Galilean fishermen who first hear it. Continue reading “Murder, Anger, and Reconciliation”

The Exodus – a cross-disciplinary perspective

Egyptologist James Hoffmeier remarked that in response to the question “do you think the early Israelites lived in Egypt and that there was some sort of exodus?” posed in a survey sent to a group of randomly selected Egyptologists, of twenty-five, nineteen answered ‘yes.’1

Hoffmeier’s anecdote appears in the the proceedings in the 2013 conference “Exodus: Out of Egypt – Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Archaeology, Text, and Memory” held at the University of California San Diego. Featuring leading experts in Egyptology, archaeology, Biblical Studies, and other related disciplines, the conference provided a cutting-edge look at the evidence for a historical basis to the Exodus tradition in the Bible.

As well as the book, the videos2 and the conference website are available for those who want to take a serious look at the seminal event in the history of Israel.

Prophet Model: A War of Words

Building a foundation for understanding the message of the prophets

Modern prophetic interpretation is surprisingly diverse, often presenting a bewildering array of national, personal, and cosmic predictions. Opaque scriptural symbols appear to have insufficient predictive potential, making even fulfilled prophecy frustrating to understand. As blood moons pass, “significant” dates come and go, and Planet X stubbornly refuses to destroy the earth, we are forced to reflect on our approach to prophecy. Are we doing it wrong? Continue reading “Prophet Model: A War of Words”

Ten lepers and one man saved

Just shuffle. Ideally together.

As believers, we have received the miracle of life, healing from death. How will we respond? Will we show gratitude? Will we turn to learn more from the master and make him our teacher? Will we demonstrate he is our Lord and superior? Or will we not think, not let him affect our lives and maintain an external unthinking compliance which minimizes the power of the gospel? Continue reading “Ten lepers and one man saved”

Ethics in the Law of Moses: Animal welfare & animal sacrifice

How is animal sacrifice compatible with animal welfare?

A reader of the previous article in this series raised the issue of animal sacrifice, which was commanded by the Law of Moses and carried out on a large scale by Israel. How is animal sacrifice compatible with animal welfare? Continue reading “Ethics in the Law of Moses: Animal welfare & animal sacrifice”