“The real work of interpretation is to hear the text. We must consider how to read and teach Scripture in a way that opens up its message, a way that both models and fosters trust in God.” (1)
Hebrew, alongside Aramaic and Greek, was a living language in Israel during the Second Temple Period and was most certainly employed by Jesus and his disciples. Based on convincing data from the Dead Sea Scrolls this important truth is grudgingly acknowledged—yet still undervalued—by academia today. The point of this article is more practical than technical, exploring how this fact can inspire our understanding and help us fulfill our destiny of love and good deeds.
To better grasp the implications of Jewish Roots Theology we use word pictures such as Read more ›
In a discussion with my brother about managing, he put forth the simple axiom: What gets measured gets managed. In other words, being able to quantify something is a necessary prerequisite to managing it. As both an engineer and a manager I can readily attest to the truth behind this axiom. The ability to ship products depends upon measuring progress in order to manage outcomes.
When one compares the Beatitudes to the Ten Commandments, a striking feature surfaces –the lack of readily quantifiable material. After all, how does one measure mercy, mourning, poverty of spirit, etc.? On the other hand, the Ten Commandments were vulnerable to the kind of moral accounting the Pharisees were well known for. For example, they took God’s prohibition against work on the Sabbath and put in place a series of measures that would ensure the Sabbath’s integrity, including how far one could walk on that day. When it came to counting lashes, they subtracted one just to avoid violating the Law’s maximum of forty. (I imagine that they dispatched two Pharisees to count lashes just in case one brother’s math skills weren’t so good.) The Pharisees knew how to keep the Law and they knew how to keep score (see Paul’s statements in Philp 3:4-6). This sort of (mis)managed morality is a miserable soul-killing affair.
Given this tendency to reduce God’s commands to a rule-keeping exercise, it is not surprising that Read more ›
In February of 2013 our audacious journey to Austin, Texas began.
It began last summer. We were at a homeschooling convention and one of our favorite speakers, Dr. Voddie Baucham talked about the importance of having a Dad present in the home. He talked about considering changing your lifestyle if you are not able to do that. As it was, Erik worked late nights and felt compelled to change his career if need be in order to be home more with the kids. One way to accomplish that would be to live in an affordable city. Obviously, Austin had been on our radar and we wanted to see it for ourselves. We went with our good friends, The Hagadorn’s to check it out. We enjoyed the trip and we could definitely see ourselves living there but felt like God hadn’t made it really clear yet. We continued to pray and asked God to open every door we needed to walk through and shut every door he didn’t want us to walk through.
Erik’s contract with the NFL ended in December of 2012 and he continued to pursue work in LA. He would get close to getting a job and at the last minute, he wouldn’t get it. God kept closing doors Read more ›
Time magazine (March 2008) identified “Re-Judaizing Jesus” as one of ten trends changing the world. Though we may quibble with their title we agree with their assessment. Moreover, we believe it is a gift from the Holy One and is a revelation that JC Studies has an obligation to be faithful with in our generation. The common starting point is Jesus – “born King of the Jews” – in his Jewish world and our approach can be summarized by the phrase: Hebraic perspective.
For us, the word Hebraic relates to both method and meaning. ‘Method’ refers to an ongoing academic exploration of language, literature, culture and the religious traditions associated with Israel during the Second Temple Period; ‘meaning’ refers to the scriptural insights these studies yield. Perspective (whose Latin origin is from the field of optics) is best understood by its synonyms: point of view, frame of reference and way of seeing.
Imagine trying on a new set of spectacles; how different the world looks through them! By way of analogy Read more ›
NOTE: This is the first of several articles that will focus on the Sermon on the Mount.
Political campaigns are filled with promises–“Elect me, and I will…[fill in the blank here].” Like the student running for class president that promises to abolish all homework and serve ice cream for lunch, politicians are keen to manipulate our desires and stroke our fears to secure votes. But deep inside we all know it is a ruse. If one man could fix it all, it would have already been done. So we accept such promise-making as just part of the “process”. In the end, we shrug our shoulders, shuffle to the ballot box, and vote anyway.
What about Jesus? Could he be charged with making unrealistic promises? Examining the Sermon on the Mount, we might take note that Jesus makes some very bold claims, much bolder than any candidate for political office. He claims to have inside knowledge of the kingdom and its inner workings. Consider the following Read more ›
Many people find the Bible difficult to understand. This cannot be denied by those acquainted with the facts. Testimonies to the difficulties encountered in understanding the Bible are too widespread to be dismissed lightly.
There are numerous reasons why the Bible is difficult to understand. No snap answer can be given, and for this reason the effort to find a single solution to the problem will be disappointing.
In spite of this, I venture to give a short answer to the question, although it is not the whole answer. I believe that we find the Bible difficult because we try to read it as we would read any other book, and that is not the case.
Read more ›
Years ago a Pastor friend of mine confided his uneasiness with my insistence that if the primary rule of sound biblical interpretation is the Bible can never mean what it never meant then knowing the language and culture of Jesus is a necessary discipline to aid in our understanding of Scripture. “Do you realize the implications of what you’re saying?” he asked as we parted. To this day I still appreciate the value of the question, not only because it represents intellectual honesty and pastoral concern, but because it is the right one.
The word implication points us to possible consequences inherent in an idea, usually ones that might not be clear initially (keep in mind the results can be good, bad or neutral). So when my daughter says she’s going to spend some time laying out in the sun a reasonable implication is she’s going to add some color to her fair skin, either brown or red! Interestingly, the final outcome will be based in part on how well she understood, prepared for and acted on her initial thought.
Yeshua uses word pictures to help his maturing disciples identify the need to continuously reassess the radical implications of his call on their life, For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? and again, What king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able? (Luke 14:28-31). To my mind, a convincing case can be made that much of what we have in the New Testament letters are the apostles wrestling with the implications of the Master’s words and works; addressing how to live in the light of his life, death, and resurrection. Read more ›
Prometheus is an exciting 2012 science fiction film from Ridley Scott which has drawn mixed reviews from critics and audiences alike. The movie, taking place a few decades in the future, tells an entertaining story about the search for humanity’s origins. In the story, a few scientists discover what they consider an invitation to a distant galaxy, and somehow get a trillion-dollar scientific expedition funded to travel there in order to find our “creators.” Their adventures once they get there are none of my concern in this short review; I want to focus on the two philosophical arguments being pushed by this film.
The premise of the film is that we, humans, were created by aliens who visited our planet thousands of years ago. For many in the audience, this might seem like an interesting idea for a movie, but completely unrelated to reality. Actually, this is not an idea that came out of the mind of the movie writers, but rather a premise that is currently being thrown around in scientific circles. As our understanding of the universe increases, we are more and more convinced by the evidence that spontaneous generation of life on earth is mathematically and logically impossible. Darwinian Evolution has never been able to answer the questions of origins, and this is becoming more and more apparent as our understanding of the building blocks of life grows. The question always comes back to: How did it all start?
Darwin tells us that everything evolved from the first life, but even those who accept his theory still must answer the question Read more ›