No Other Gods

As Dr. Peterson mentioned last week, we will be working through the 10 Commandments, or 10 Words, this semester in chapel.  He introduced the topic last week, and it is now my task to begin with the first commandment.  The initial challenge we face, though, is where exactly the first commandment or word starts and ends.  You may have noticed this already, but they are not numbered for us.  Later in Exodus and Deuteronomy, the writers refer back to these “10 Words” or Decalogue (Ex. 34:28; Deut. 4:13; 10:4), but they don’t enumerate them for us.  Depending on which of at least three different numbering systems you … [Read more...]

The Chronicler as a Writer

What is the Chronicler up to as a writer? He quotes Bible passages, expands them homiletically, he omits sections not of interest to him, and he interprets them according to his approach as a theological preacher in the post-exilic era. Not unlike what we do! The Chronicler takes the Bible and ancient historical documents, and he interprets them for the discouraged community of believers in the Persian Empire. … [Read more...]

Ten Words for Today

The Nash Papyrus, dated to the 2nd century BC, includes an early version of the Ten Words. (Wikimedia Commons considers this photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional work of art to be in the public domain in the United States.)   (Adapted from a homily presented in AGST chapel, 29 January 2018.) And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the rules that I speak in your hearing today, and you shall learn them and be careful to do them.  The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.  Not with our fathers did the Lord make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive … [Read more...]

The Power of the Biblical Story

Dr. Allan J. McNicol has recently published his latest book, The Persistence of God's Endangered Promises: The Bible's Unified Story, from Bloomsbury Publishing. For Many years, Dr. McNicol has taught a Biblical Theology course that students at Austin Grad have found to be indispensible for understanding the story of God and his creation. This book offers an encapsulation and extension of a lifelong project of study and devotion. Click here to order Allan McNicol's New book, The Persistence of God's Endangered Promises. See the bottom of this post for a promotional code offering significant discount pricing! I love the brief … [Read more...]

Is the Chronicler a Pulp Fiction Writer?

Part 1: The Literary and Historical Nature of Chronicles I. Introduction Someone had to do it. Chronicles is one of the last bastions of unexplored biblical territory. It has been lurking on the edges of the canon for thousands of years. Being ever the contrarian, I will deal with it. Why this historical lack of interest in a biblical book? Besides being one of the last Old Testament books written or compiled, it’s title is off-putting: it is sepher hay-yammim in Hebrew, or “Day Book,” or “Chronicles of the days,” suggesting royal archives of inconsequential stuff. The title in the Septuagint is even worse: there, it is paraleipomenon, … [Read more...]

Sexual Harassment and Hollywood’s Double Standard

  At the Golden Globe Awards this past Sunday, a number of actresses and actors wore black as a sign of protest against sexual harassment in Hollywood.  This is simply the latest statement of solidarity in light of the recent explosion of accusations against famous (and other not-so-famous) men, especially in—but not limited to—the entertainment industry.  The “#metoo” movement has become a cultural phenomenon, and the “Silence Breakers” were collectively awarded Time magazine’s person of the year in 2017. … [Read more...]

Ring Around the Collar and the Gospel: What’s Your Story?

  Human beings are “enstoried” creatures. We find ourselves inundated, moment by moment, with data of various kinds that must be interpreted, and the stories that we live within form the framework for our interpretation of the world around us. This can be true at the simplest level of life—I recognize and understand the different functions of a fork and a knife because of the narrative surrounding such implements (especially around proper table etiquette)—to the most profound of social difficulties—see, for example, the highly charged competing narratives on either side of various race issues in the United States. The stories we tell … [Read more...]

“Participants in the Divine Nature”: Theosis and Pauline Theology

  For almost a quarter-century now, I have attended the Annual Meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature, thanks to the commitment of AGST’s administration that our faculty remain current with biblical and theological scholarship and to the generosity of our supporters. This year, a couple of friends and I looked back over the meetings we’d attended and sought to recall the sessions and papers that stuck out in our memory. It was easy to recall humorous moments, including a few disasters we had witnessed; from one of these, I learned that it’s the path of prudence to write something out on a topic before standing up to address a … [Read more...]

“Why, O My Soul, Are You sorrowing?” The Story Behind Psalm 43 in Timeless

This is the second in the series of stories behind some of the songs from Timeless: Ancient Psalms for the Church Today Psalter/Commentary. It was written by Gary Pendergrass of Greenville, Texas, and is a gripping story of how a lament psalm ministered to him during his son’s near fatal cardiac arrest in the hospital.   … [Read more...]

The Prince of Peace: Life in an A.D. World

I have always been taken by stories of mercy and reconciliation in the midst of conflict. These moments stand out like beacons of light in great darkness; they are often stark reminders of ways in which the proclamation of the gospel calls disciples of Jesus to act as agents of hope and peace in the midst of horror. The so-called “Christmas Truce” of 1914 is one such example, and in many ways the impulse toward peace and fraternal unity stands as a powerful example of how a Christian’s life should be lived in the fractured and contentious age in which we find ourselves. If we really are disciples—students—of Jesus, we must never forget that … [Read more...]