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Symbol-Making and Deception

Symbol-Making and Deception

Posted on June 03, 2018

Human beings are symbol makers, and as we grow up the first challenge in life is to learn how to use our most basic symbol system, which is language. Other animals and even plants use symbols in certa...Read More

The Turn from Neo-Orthodoxy Theology

The Turn from Neo-Orthodoxy Theology

Posted on May 13, 2018

Neo-orthodox theology is a fancy term for traditionalism. It identifies a theology that begins with the absolute sovereignty of God and, from there, moves to the apologetic defense of traditional Chr...Read More

An Avoided Challenge from the 19th Century

An Avoided Challenge from the 19th Century

Posted on May 06, 2018

Quest Thoughts: An Avoided Challenge from the 19th Century I attended a seminary for a mainline Protestant denomination. Though I have since matured in thought, the thing I remember most was having fi...Read More

Theology and History on Easter

Theology and History on Easter

Posted on April 01, 2018

Easter announces that Jesus has risen from the dead. It also announces chocolate, bunnies, and a statutory holiday. In many cases, the latter elements exceed the former in importance. That's understan...Read More

Rome, America and Honesty

Rome, America and Honesty

Posted on March 18, 2018

The parallels between modern America and ancient Rome are curious and sometimes even astounding. There is the Republican definition of government in both ancient Rome and modern America. There are th...Read More

Interpretation and Experience

Interpretation and Experience

Posted on March 04, 2018

Interpretation and Experience Biblical scholars make a distinction between scriptural influences and personal influences when examining the resurrection stories about Jesus. This distinction can be de...Read More

Who was Jesus

Who was Jesus

Posted on February 18, 2018

Quest Thoughts: Jesus as a Post-Durkheimian Figure. In the past, I have tried different ways to approach Jesus as a unique historical figure by talking about a "secular" Jesus, a non-apocalyptic Jes...Read More

Things are not as they seem.

Things are not as they seem.

Posted on January 28, 2018

Quest Thoughts: Things are Not as They SeemBy David Galston"How does Jesus compare to other wisdom teachers?" is a question I am frequently asked. I am always hesitant to answer because all ancient te...Read More

Christmas and Religious Change

Christmas and Religious Change

Posted on December 17, 2017

Christmas and Religious ChangeBy David Galston When we change our diets, two things often happen. One is that our bodies take some time to adjust. When new foods become staples and old foods are no lo...Read More

The Inside Joke

Posted on December 10, 2017

Quest Thoughts: The Inside Joke I did not get the joke. Musicians laughed at a cartoon about how composers modulate, change from an old to a new key. The joke involved Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopi...Read More

Good Remembering

Good Remembering

Posted on November 11, 2017

Good RememberingOne of the major insights of arising from early 20th-century biblical scholarship was form criticism. Forms critics noted literary constructs that survived in oral tradition and became...Read More

God is Dead

God is Dead

Posted on November 05, 2017

God is DeadThe short, famous, phrase of Friedrich Nietzsche, God is dead, is an aphorism and not a statement of belief. Nietzsche did not originate the phrase, but he used it most notably in a parable...Read More

A Secular Jesus

A Secular Jesus

Posted on October 29, 2017

A Secular JesusMy first experiment with the historical Jesus in church occurred in Hamilton, Ontario. I was appointed to lead a community set up to explore new forms of Christianity. I wanted to see i...Read More

Of Time and Dates

Of Time and Dates

Posted on October 15, 2017

When Charles Darwin's theory of evolution first gained popularity, one criticism was that the natural process he described took time, lots of time. In the 1700's Georges-Louis Leclerc estimated the ea...Read More

Biblical Criticism

Biblical Criticism

Posted on September 24, 2017

In Biblical Studies, there are two basic movements of criticism. The backward movement is the study of early units of developing tradition, and the forward movement is the study of later combinat...Read More

Religion Change Deniers

Religion Change Deniers

Posted on September 10, 2017

There are climate change deniers. Though I do not know, likely most readers of the Quest E-News will say, "Tell me something I don't know." What about religion change deniers? Is there such a thing as...Read More

Father's Day Thoughts on Paul

Father's Day Thoughts on Paul

Posted on June 18, 2017

On Father's Day, it is hard to find positive images of fathers, whether of God or human fathers, in the Bible. The world of the Bible was one in which the typical arrangement was women inside the dome...Read More

The Pearl of Great Price

The Pearl of Great Price

Posted on June 11, 2017

The parable is a simple one, yet so very deceiving. It goes like this. "There was a merchant in search of fine pearls. Upon finding one pearl of great value, he sold all that he had and bought that pe...Read More

Fake News and Standards of Knowledge

Fake News and Standards of Knowledge

Posted on June 04, 2017

The Quest E-news has a wide distribution. Often, readers send questions and comments to the Quest Centre. From an American reader, the following question was asked, to which I'd like to make a respons...Read More

The  Philosophy of Religion

The Philosophy of Religion

Posted on May 14, 2017

In the Philosophy of Religion, the definition of religion is "a system of rituals and beliefs that make a claim about reality." For example, a Christian might claim that reality is the creation of God...Read More

Defending Science

Defending Science

Posted on May 08, 2017

According to David Friedrich Strauss (1835-1872), angels are mythical beings who serve two purposes. One is to reflect our hope that there is intelligence beyond the human experience, and the other is...Read More

Spirit, Soul and Mind

Spirit, Soul and Mind

Posted on April 16, 2017

The ancient Greeks had three words to describe human psychology: the spirit, the soul, and the mind. When I first engaged in the academic study of philosophy, I could never tell the difference between...Read More

Reconsidering Reinhold Niebuhr

Reconsidering Reinhold Niebuhr

Posted on April 02, 2017

It is hard to avoid thinking about political issues these days. And politics as it is, it is also hard to avoid thinking about truth and falsity. When a political regime as powerful as the United Stat...Read More

What is a Tyrant?

What is a Tyrant?

Posted on March 12, 2017

The philosopher Aristotle wrote in Book V of his Politics, "People are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious." Aristotle agreed with Plato, his t...Read More

Cain and Abel

Cain and Abel

Posted on March 05, 2017

When someone first learns to study the Bible critically, the moment is often described as a great awakening that begins with a shock. I still remember the first time my childhood belief in the creatio...Read More

Heroism

Heroism

Posted on February 12, 2017

There have been many descriptions of the U.S. government's attempt to block travel to and from seven mostly Muslim countries. Presently, the Executive Order is judged unconstitutional and blocked in t...Read More

Facts, Theorems and Theories

Facts, Theorems and Theories

Posted on February 05, 2017

"Facts alone are what is wanted in life" is one of the opening sentences of Charles Dickens' Hard Times. Thomas Gradgind is the first character we know in that novel who is the teacher who wants the f...Read More

What is Greatness?

What is Greatness?

Posted on January 22, 2017

What is greatness? The writers of the Bible, just like us, struggled to determine the greatness of human beings and nations. Sometimes the images and metaphors used were inspiring, and sometimes they...Read More

Learning from Karl Marx

Learning from Karl Marx

Posted on January 08, 2017

Academic friends of mine have often said that the problem with Karl Marx's economic theories is that they require an education to understand. This isn't a put-down of anyone (me in particular). It's a...Read More

Radical Aspects of the Christmas Story in the Gospel of Luke

Radical Aspects of the Christmas Story in the Gospel of Luke

Posted on December 18, 2016

In the past several months I have participated in "Jesus Seminar on the Road" events (JSORs). At these events, the effort is to share the results of the academic study of religion with the general pub...Read More

What Went Wrong?

What Went Wrong?

Posted on December 11, 2016

A significant 20th Century subject in Philosophy is called "phenomenology." Both the word and the subject are hard to define, but fortunately examples are easy. When we get used to seeing something ev...Read More

Humanism and Science

Humanism and Science

Posted on December 04, 2016

Religion is full of things that never happened. Let me make a short list. The exodus of hundreds of thousands from Egypt in approximately 1250 B.C.E. never happened. The physical resurrection of Jesus...Read More

Post-Modern Theology

Post-Modern Theology

Posted on November 27, 2016

This past week I was privileged to attend the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR). Approximately 10,000 scholars from mostly North America and Europe meet each year in the context...Read More

Theology and Poetry

Theology and Poetry

Posted on November 13, 2016

This past Monday at the age of 82, Leonard Cohen, an iconic Canadian singer, songwriter, and poet, and a member of the Order of Canada, peacefully died at his home in Los Angeles. The Magazine Rolling...Read More

Halloween

Halloween

Posted on October 30, 2016

Halloween is one of those festivals that divides historians. On the one side, Halloween is seen as a Christianization of a Pagan harvest festival that marked the end of Autumn and the beginning of Win...Read More

The Value of  Theology

The Value of Theology

Posted on October 16, 2016

Theology is an academic subject that includes history and philosophy. Unlike history and philosophy, however, theology must address contemporary issues and understand why human beings think the way th...Read More

Thanksgiving Origins

Thanksgiving Origins

Posted on October 09, 2016

Thanksgiving in the United States and Canada occurs at different times. It's the fourth Thursday of November in the U.S. and the second Monday of October in Canada. When I was a boy I was always told ...Read More

Christian Atheism

Christian Atheism

Posted on October 02, 2016

Archbishop Desmond Tutu once stated that if the White South Africans wanted to keep the Black South Africans down, "they never should have given us the Bible." Though the situation is neither the same...Read More

Helping Jesus Fulfill Prophecy

Posted on September 25, 2016

Helping Jesus Fulfill Prophecy is the title of a book by my friend, Robert Miller. It's a great book that I am pleased to recommend. It makes a very important point that affects not only the study of ...Read More

The Protestant Principle

The Protestant Principle

Posted on September 11, 2016

This Sunday is the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001. I recall wrestling, on the Sunday following that event, with the question of religion and violence and with the historical Je...Read More

Q and the Historical Jesus

Posted on February 28, 2015

The quest for the historical Jesus begins with accepting this basic directive of Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694-1768), “We are justified in drawing an absolute distinction between the teaching of...Read More

The Theology of Mark

Posted on February 21, 2015

The whole theology of the Gospel of Mark is evident in the outline of the Gospel. Introduction: Words and Deeds (1:1-8:21)Central Section: Identity of Jesus (8:22-10:52)Jesus and Authorities: Controv...Read More

Jesus, History, Church: Some Thoughts

Posted on December 20, 2014

The assumptions of a person who approaches the Bible historically and with best contemporary knowledge available are threefold: 1) the ancient world and the modern world are different places with diff...Read More

Christ Myth and the Voice of Jesus

Christ Myth and the Voice of Jesus

Posted on December 07, 2014

The “Christ myth” is the proposition that Jesus of Nazareth, as a historical figure from the first century, never existed. However, the proposition that Jesus never existed is really a min...Read More

Why Care About the Historical Jesus

Posted on March 29, 2014

The Historical Jesus question seems like a very academic one unrelated to practical life. But this can be a mistaken perception. The Historical Jesus question does encourage us to understand myth, que...Read More

Jesus the Poet: Politics and Poetic Imagination

Posted on February 22, 2014

It is not easy to talk about the historical Jesus and politics because it is really not clear what sort of political ideology Jesus may or may not have held. What happens is that scholars need first t...Read More

Jesus the Poet: What Did he Mean

Posted on February 01, 2014

Factual knowledge and poetic knowledge are two distinct ways human beings have to relate to the world. Another word for factual knowledge is technical knowledge, and it is the best way we have to unde...Read More

Jesus the Poet: What did he Really Say?

Posted on January 25, 2014

The descriptions of Jesus in the Christian gospels are not biographies but theologies: not facts about Jesus but what the writers believed about Jesus. To reach the historical Jesus one has to get beh...Read More

Troubling Quests

Posted on August 31, 2013

The quest for the historical Jesus is a historic moment in religion and causes the emerges of several new questions....Read More

The Prodigal Son

Posted on March 31, 2013

Why did Jesus speak in parables? Let's look at the Prodigal Son....Read More

Mytheme and Parable

Posted on January 27, 2013

Some parables of Jesus are anti-religion and make us face reality....Read More

Matthew's Birth of Jesus

Posted on December 17, 2011

Not a virgin birth story in Matthew. Something else is going on....Read More

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