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 atContinue reading “Hospitality, Power, and Sacrifice: Reading the Bible’s Little Lambs”

Laps and Levirite Marriage: The Proper Care and Feeding of Children in Ruth 4

By the time we get to the end of a story we generally have a pretty good idea of who the characters are and what the plot is about and, probably, what the conclusion of the tale has in store for us. The book Ruth is much the same. When we get to chapter 4–whatContinue reading “Laps and Levirite Marriage: The Proper Care and Feeding of Children in Ruth 4”

Justice: Texts, Tensions, Textures

Perhaps the greatest dangers we have when we approach the Bible as a single, unified story brought about by a single, divine mind is that we may read it as a flat, textureless narrative where we suppress and “fix” any differences because we–understandably but mistakenly–think that differences are the same as contradictions. And, since mostContinue reading “Justice: Texts, Tensions, Textures”

Justice: Daughters, Inheritances, and Changing Laws

When we treat a text as two-dimensional we read it as a flat text. One of the greatest dangers in studying the Scriptures, but perhaps especially the Law of Moses, is that we tend to read it like a flat text. (I think we’ll understand better what this means by the end of the blog,Continue reading “Justice: Daughters, Inheritances, and Changing Laws”

Mosaic Mixtures and Pesky Parables

The center of the Gospel of Matthew includes a collection of seven stories having to do with the Kingdom of God and its implications for this world and the world to come. We often refer to all of these episodes as parables (as, indeed, the gospel calls them!), but some of the longer ones areContinue reading “Mosaic Mixtures and Pesky Parables”

A Case Against Making a (Priestly) Case Against Shorts

I wanted to take a short break from making posts about the Law and its cultural context to talk about how, sometimes, those cultural contexts and knowing something about how language works in ancient texts can help keep us away from bad arguments about our current culture. This post probably won’t be of much interestContinue reading “A Case Against Making a (Priestly) Case Against Shorts”

Justice: Kings and Case Laws

  Janet Shafner, ‘The Wise Woman of Tekoa’ In 2 Samuel 14, we read about the Wise Woman of Tekoa coming to King David to seek justice for her unusual situation. There, were read: When the woman of Tekoa came to the king, she fell on her face to the ground and paid homage andContinue reading “Justice: Kings and Case Laws”

Rape in the Ancient World (Slaves)

Genesis 37 is one of the most famous texts in the Hebrew Bible. In this narrative we read that Joseph—having been sold as a slave to the Egyptians due to jealousy by his brothers—is very beautiful. Beautiful enough that his master’s wife lusted after him and wanted to sate his lust. Repeatedly she commands, “LieContinue reading “Rape in the Ancient World (Slaves)”

Rape in the Ancient World

In 2 Samuel 13, we read about the horrible situation of Amnon and Tamar, which we talked about last time. However, one aspect of the story bears a closer look. As Amnon begins to force his sister, she cries out: No, my brother, do not degrade me, for such a thing is not done inContinue reading “Rape in the Ancient World”

The Bible and Rape

2 Samuel 13 is one of the most disturbing and tragic texts in the Bible. In this text we read that King David’s daughter, Tamar, was very beautiful. Beautiful enough that her half-brother Amnon lusted after her and wanted to sate his lust, but he couldn’t because it wasn’t lawful. After fixating on it forContinue reading “The Bible and Rape”