While many are familiar with the ways Christian doctrine has changed over time, few recognize just how novel modern evangelistic practices are. Just as the Christian message developed and evolved, particularly with the blunting of its apocalyptic edge, so too have the ways in which Christians transmit their message to the outside world. This shift … Continue reading How did the first Christians spread the gospel?
Apocalyptic hope After the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE, the Jewish people witnessed and experienced the conquest of the known world by successive pagan empires. Under these idolatrous oppressors, the Jewish people grappled with confusion and hopelessness as their convictions about the sovereignty of their God were viscerally challenged and subverted. Was YHWH unable … Continue reading Psalm 82 and the Christian apocalypse: the Greco-Roman Ragnarök
Last time I looked at the ways early Christians conceptualized Christ's example as one who was tempted but without sin. I considered whether the first Christians were interested in Christ's example in a comprehensive sense, or whether their emulation of him fit within a more specific context. I concluded that Christians were more interested in … Continue reading How and why did Satan tempt early Christians?
In our affluent modern Western context, Christians and non-Christians alike appeal to the example of Jesus in the process of making various moral decisions. Our ethical questions regarding quagmires ranging from finances, to sexuality, to national policy are often met with the refrain "what would Jesus do?" The assumptions underlying this question are twofold: First, … Continue reading Was Jesus tempted in every way?
The kerygma and praxis of John Kerygma The Christian gospel begins with one man's prophetic vision. This man, known to us as John the Baptist, believed Israel's God was about to judge his adulterous people in apocalyptic fashion by burning away the chaff and purifying the gold. The righteous Israelites who endured this national catastrophe … Continue reading Jesus the baptizer: why John and Jesus baptized
Where does the brunt of New Testament eschatology actually land? When did the disciples see the son of man coming in his kingdom? Did they see him at all? In attempting to answer these question we first looked at a number of problematic Jesus-sayings. These sayings associated the day of judgement, the coming of the … Continue reading When did the disciples see the son of man coming in his kingdom?
After a brief survey of historical reconstructions that pit Jesus against the Jewish purity rites in order to capitalize on a politically relevant Messiah, Paula Fredriksen writes this: [Certain] reconstructions have argued that, as part of his mission to Israel, Jesus took his stand precisely against the biblical laws of purity. Whatever moral content these … Continue reading Did Jesus flaunt the Mosaic purity laws?