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Hospitality, Power, and Sacrifice: Reading the Bible’s Little Lambs

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Heb 13.2, NRSV). Hospitality was an enormously important ritual in the ancient world. Because traveling was dangerous, ancient Mediterranean societies often attempted to incentivize protecting strangers by honoring those who practiced hospitality. In ancient Greece–since at…

Theology of Exodus in Kings: Solomon’s Pharaonic Shadow

Ron Hendel notes, “The exodus from Egypt is a focal point of ancient Israelite religion. Virtually every kind of religious literature in the Hebrew Bible—prose narrative, liturgical poetry, didactic prose, and prophecy—celebrates the exodus as a foundational event. Israelite ritual, law, and ethics are often grounded in the precedent and memory of the Exodus. ……

Reading Thematically: Trees of Life and Death

Even when my siblings and I were younger, our parents would take us to art museums. A lot. (Yes, we were homeschooled.) I remember some of those trips where I wasn’t quite sure what was going on and I certainly recognize that some pieces were easier to appreciate and “like” than others. My confusion, however,…

Taxes and Death: Incarnation and Subversion (Luke 2)

Jesus’ birth was a deeply subversive affair in at least a few ways. Last time, we looked at how Luke and the angels subvert Roman authority and emperor cult, but the Incarnation was also deeply subversive to Jewish hopes and expectations, particularly for national hopes of rebellion. This subversion of expectations and hopes comes from…

Gods, Angels, and Emperors: Subversion and Incarnation (Luke 2)

Jesus’ birth was a deeply subversive affair in at least a few ways. Perhaps most obviously, the proclamation of the angels recorded by Luke was a direct assault upon the power of the Roman Emperor. When Augustus was finally crowned in 9 BC, the assembly explains their reasoning thus: Divine providence which orders our lives…

Four Gospels; One Jesus: Reading Vertically

 \”…the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight\” (Rev 4.7) Each of the four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—draw their own, inspired portrait of their Lord and Savior, Jesus…

Plundering Temples and Paying Off Nations: The Treasury in Kings

One of the more interesting questions to ask when studying the book of Kings is what genre we read it as. Often times, we’re subtly influenced even by the categories present in our Bibles. For example, most Protestant Christians categorize their Old Testaments according to the taxonomy of Law (Genesis–Deuteronomy), History (Joshua–Esther), Poetry (Job–Song), and…

Subverting Commands and Expectations: Racism and Womanhood in Ruth 3

Antiquity was super racist. Or, as I’ve talked about before, antiquity was super “proto-racist.” Geography was destiny and where you were from told everyone everything they wanted to know about who you were and what your character was like. As horrible as that is—and let’s be clear, whether we want to call this proto-racism, racism,…

Reading Genesis and Reading Joseph: Land

Whenever you come to a particular pericope (yes, pericope, not periscope Microsoft Word!) there are a few questions that you should ask. What is the point of this single narrative episode? In other words, if this text existed in a vacuum, how would we interpret it if the only context we had was the context…

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