Sharing spirits: how the spirit moved among the first Christians

Tactile healing Jesus' cures often involved some sort of physical touch. Although he healed the sick with merely a word on occasion, such was the exception to the rule (cf. Matthew 8:5-13). Rather, the normative practice of both Jesus and his followers involved the laying of hands upon the faithful (Mark 1:31; 41, 7:32-33, 8:23, … Continue reading Sharing spirits: how the spirit moved among the first Christians

As I have loved you: Christ’s other example to the churches

In the post Was Jesus tempted in every way? I examined Jesus' example as it pertained to the temptations and trials faced by early Christians. I asked: In what ways was Jesus' sinless triumph over temptation relevant to the New Testament writers and their readers? I argued that just as Jesus was tempted to repudiate … Continue reading As I have loved you: Christ’s other example to the churches

Theophany at sea or apathetic Jesus?

Mark leaves a curious note in his telling of Jesus' sea crossing that has left interpreters puzzled. Though seemingly uncharacteristic of Jesus, the evangelist writes that he "desired to pass by" his swamped disciples (ἤθελεν παρελθεῖν αὐτούς) (Mark 6:48). For many readers this is troubling. Why would Jesus desire to pass by his helpless friends … Continue reading Theophany at sea or apathetic Jesus?

Which fell first: Satan or Babylon?

A marriage of heaven and earth When ancient peoples looked up into the heavens what they beheld was a reflection of themselves. They saw a mirror, a fantastical, otherworldly mirror, no doubt, but a mirror nonetheless. This mirror reflected the heavenly upon the earthly, the spiritual upon the physical, and the theological upon the historical. … Continue reading Which fell first: Satan or Babylon?

How did the first Christians spread the gospel?

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?

Psalm 82 and the Christian apocalypse: the Greco-Roman Ragnarök

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

How and why did Satan tempt early Christians?

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?