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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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