The Devil and his Demons: the function of the demonic in Revelation

The Dragon and his Beasts In accordance with the overall historical thrust of this blog, I'd like to demonstrate in this post how the spiritual demonic realities addressed by the Biblical authors are ultimately subordinate to and representative of historical-political concerns—not the other way around. Put simply, Satan and his demons personify pagan political power. … Continue reading The Devil and his Demons: the function of the demonic in Revelation

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Which Parables go back to Jesus?

All of Them? John P. Meier's excellent A Marginal Jew series attempts to peer behind the curtain of the Gospel portraits to glimpse the Jesus of history. In broad brushstrokes, Meier's restrained and measured work produces an Elijah-like eschatological prophet of the age to come. Scholars like Paula Fredriksen and Dale Allison reach similar conclusions. In his … Continue reading Which Parables go back to Jesus?

Jesus and Violence: The Parable of the Weeds among the Wheat

We've discussed before how Jesus' apocalyptic expectations in large part determined his teachings on violence. In light of the wrath coming upon Jerusalem (Mark 13/Luke 24, Matthew 21:1-14) and upon Greco-Roman Paganism (Matthew 25:31-36, Revelation 18, Acts 17:31, 1 Cor 2:6), Jesus considered retribution and self-defense to be acts of disbelief. God was about to … Continue reading Jesus and Violence: The Parable of the Weeds among the Wheat

A (Brief) Case Against Purgatorial Universalism

A growing number of theologians argue that Hell should be understood as a place of cleansing rather than as a place of damnation or annihilation. They insist that God's judgement and wrath are the mechanisms of universal reconciliation—the instruments of God's love. This view should be rejected for a few primary reasons. Purification or Destruction? … Continue reading A (Brief) Case Against Purgatorial Universalism

Jesus’ solidarity with his disciples in the parable of the Sheep and the Goats

Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. (John 13:20) Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. // Whoever listens to you listens to Me; whoever rejects you rejects Me; and whoever rejects Me rejects … Continue reading Jesus’ solidarity with his disciples in the parable of the Sheep and the Goats

John and the Historical Temple-Disturbance

Until rather recently, the Gospel of John has been systematically excluded as a source for the historical Jesus. It has been popularly considered a "concocted Gospel." Accordingly, scholarship tends to understand John as a derivative spiritualization of Synoptic material. As such, the Fourth Gospel contains no viable independent memory of the historical Jesus.  This critical … Continue reading John and the Historical Temple-Disturbance

Revelation 14 and the good news about Jesus

The Gospel in our contemporary context is most often associated with Jesus' death for sins: the sinless savior sacrificed himself to rescue us from death, hell, and/or God's wrath. His deed of obedience is effective for all people for all time. Such an understanding of the Gospel sometimes stands in tension with how the Bible … Continue reading Revelation 14 and the good news about Jesus