In Joshua 8:2, Yahweh seems to command the indiscriminate killing of the inhabitants of the city of Ai: “And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its livestock you shall take as plunder for yourselves. Lay an ambush against the city, behind it.” If this were said today, it would widely be regarded as a command to commit genocide. The severity of the command seems validated by what Joshua records about the battle (vv. 24-25):
24 When Israel had finished killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the open wilderness where they pursued them, and all of them to the very last had fallen by the edge of the sword, all Israel returned to Ai and struck it down with the edge of the sword. 25 And all who fell that day, both men and women, were 12,000, all the people of Ai.
This account—and others like it in the Old Testament—are often viewed as problematic for contemporary Christians. How can a God of love command murder? How can the God who says “love your enemies” have ordered their destruction? These are, in my estimation, entirely legitimate questions worth wrestling with.
In what follows, I hope to breakdown some of the key aspects of thinking through the question of whether or not God commanded genocide and (some of) what that means for Christians today. Continue reading
Welcome to the February 2018 Biblical Studies Carnival!
This 144th Biblical Studies Carnival marks the twelve year anniversary of these events. I’m honored to be facilitating today’s overview of the very best that the Biblioblogging world has to offer.
Over the next several months, these fine people will be hosting the carnival:
If you’re interested in signing up to host a future Biblical Studies Carnival (or just want to have a conversation with a truly pleasant person), contact Phil Long (email, @plong42). Hosts are needed for June, July, August, October, November, and December. Speaking of Phil, I want to thank him for continuing to coordinate these carnivals, and for allowing younger scholars such as myself the opportunity to host.
In lieu of categorizing this month’s posts into 12 categories and having 12 representative articles for each, I’ve organized them into Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, New Testament, Early Christianity, Reading Phil Long (an homage to our Godfather of Biblical Studies Carnivals), Theology and Hermeneutics, Book Reviews, and News. Happy reading! Continue reading
Did God command Israel to commit atrocities when conquering the Promised Land? Does He approve when people go to war in His name? Is the God of the Old Testament truly a homicidal maniac, as some have said?
In The Old Testament Case for Nonviolence, Matthew Curtis Fleischer tackles these questions—and much more—with a thorough and contextual reading of the Old and New Testaments. Fleischer marshals evidence that says no to these queries, at least in a nuanced sense. His chief argument in defense of God’s character is the concept of incremental revelation: that in order to best reveal Himself (in the person of Jesus for the work of the Church), God incrementally revealed His ethical expectations and character throughout the Old and New Testaments. Continue reading
This post is part of a proposal for approaching theology from the perspective of history.
Women in the Apostolic Fathers
As an application of this approach, I want to quickly examine conceptions of women which appear in the early Christian writings known as the Apostolic Fathers. To keep this example as brief as possible, consider one instance where a female character appears in the apocalyptic account known as the Shepherd of Hermas (c. 100-150 CE).4 In Vision 2.4.3, Hermas records being told by an angel the following: “And so, you will write two little books, sending one to Clement and the other to Grapte. Clement will send his to the foreign cities, for that is his commission. But Grapte will admonish the widows and orphans. And you will read yours in this city, with the presbyters who lead the church.” Continue reading
As a teacher, I am regularly asked about Bible passages and the theology they convey. Sometimes the questions are straightforward; other times, not so much. Some time back, for example, as I was innocently trying to lead our community group through Romans 8:18-30, I was asked how to interpret verses 29-30 in light of that not-at-all-discussed-among-Christians topic of Predestination and Freewill. It happens.
The vast majority of the time, I am more than happy to dig into a text and explain what I think and why. Having been privileged to study under some brilliant Biblical scholars (and having read many more), I am all too eager to hold forth on the Scriptures, and I genuinely hope that my discussion helps those listening. However, in the past several years I have discovered a more fruitful approach to addressing these questions: walking through Bible passages with people and training them how to read and interpret wisely. Continue reading
Welcome to the February 2017 Biblical Studies Carnival!
Assembled below are the very best articles written this past month from around the Biblioblogging world. I know this firsthand because I have spent all month sifting through as many blogs as possible to find the finest that scholars and students have to offer. This month’s carnival includes submissions from the categories of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, New Testament, Early Christianity, Reading Phil Long (an homage to the Godfather of Biblical Studies Carnivals), Theology and Hermeneutics, Book Reviews, Tools and Resources, and News.
Looking forward to future Carnivals, March will be hosted by Jonathan Robinson and April by Joshua Gillies of Theologians, Inc. (@Whitefrozen). Cassandra Farrin (email) of Ethics and Early Christianity hosts in June, Reuben Rus of Ayuda Ministerial/ Resources for Ministry hosts in July, and Jason Gardner of eis doxan hosts in August.
You’ll note that this schedule lacks a host for May. If you’re interested in signing up to host in May (or any other future carnival), contact Phil Long (email, @plong42). Speaking of Phil, I want to thank him for his continued coordination of these carnivals, and for allowing younger scholars such as myself the opportunity to host. Happy reading! Continue reading