The Crisis: Torah and the Gentiles In many ways, Paul’s letter to the Romans has shaped contemporary Christianity more than any other book in the New Testament. It was in his reading of this letter, along with Galatians, that Martin Luther first glimpsed a message of grace, of God’s free gift to human beings, that…Read More
How Do I Find an Essay Topic?
Students often wonder why I don’t provide a list of set essay topics in most of my courses on the New Testament. I’m not just mean. Learning how to ask good research questions is an important part of studying anything academically. But many of us haven’t ever been taught how to find a good research…Read More
The Origins of Matthew’s Gospel
A Faithful Scribe in the Kingdom As we approach the Gospel of Matthew, let us imagine that we are there in the room with the book’s author. His back is turned to us, so we cannot yet see his face. He is seated on a low writing bench, the fresh papyrus roll balanced on his…Read More
The Origins of Mark’s Gospel
The First Written Gospel If we had been part of Mark’s first audience, we would not have picked a bound book up from the shelf of a library or bookstore. In fact, we would not likely have been reading it at all. For years we would have been used to hearing the stories of Jesus…Read More
Why These Books? The New Testament Canon
What Is a Canon? The word “canon” comes from the Greek term kanon meaning ‘reed.’ The ancients often cut off long reeds to use for measuring things, like a primitive ruler. So kanon came to be used as a metaphor for any standard. A kanon is what you compare things to, checking to see whether…Read More
Which Greek Dictionary Should I Buy?
There are quite a few Greek dictionaries (or lexica) floating around, but many of them are not particularly useful. Several of the dictionaries still being sold are unreliable. Others are little more than lists of a few common English translations for each Greek word. They do not provide a balanced definition or a sense of…Read More
A Biblical Basis for Purgatory?
A friend asked recently whether there is biblical evidence for the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory. This is the idea that between heaven and hell there is a third place some people find themselves after death. Purgatory is said to be a place for purification. The soul suffers there, but not endlessly. Her sufferings burn…Read More
A Snapshot of John’s Gospel
Here’s another of my talks from St. Paul’s-on-the-Hill Anglican Church back in February. In this one I was starting off a series on John’s Gospel by giving a quick overview of the book and its message.Read More
Should the Disputed Pauline Letters Be in the Canon?
Every term, not long before final papers are due, my students in the NT survey course are thrown a curve ball. We come to the letter to the Ephesians and the so-called Pastoral Letters (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus). Most of my students discover for the first time how many scholars doubt these letters…Read More
Coping with the Shock of Biblical Studies
For many Christian students, the first exposure to academic biblical studies comes as a shock. Our faith was formed and nurtured with a simple view of the Bible. It seemed clear and we could trust it. We want to dig deeper, so we enroll in a course at seminary or university. But instead of just…Read More