Christology in “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”

Christian Worship“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is a popular Christmas hymn written by an anonymous Latin author in the twelfth century and translated into English in 1851 by John Mason Neale. The hymn contains nine verses, all of which contain statements about Christ. The name “Jesus” and title “Christ” do not actually appear in the hymn; however a plethora of other titles are used to refer to the coming to Israel. This is quite clearly a hymn of Advent and Christmas, as it is written as if in the distant past, reflecting an Old Testament view of things (as we shall see with the names and titles used below), a view that welcomes the coming of the messiah to Israel. The refrain, “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee , O Israel” demonstrates the position of Christ as coming savior of Israel, the messiah figure of the Old Testament prophets. Continue reading

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Gnosticism, Women, and Elaine Pagels

This post is part of an ongoing series reflecting upon Women and Gender in Early Christianity.

GnosticsFor today’s reflection, I outline and reflect on Elaine Pagels’ “What Became of God as Mother? Conflicting Images of God in Early Christianity.”[1] In so doing I argue that while Pagels’ approach to the question of the divine feminine remains an important aspect of early Christian thinking, her characterization of the category “gnostic” remains unhelpful for framing the study of these documents. Continue reading

21 Suggestions for Theological Study

OxfordSome time back, Joseph Torres published “30 Suggestions for Theological Students and Young Theologians” by John Frame. Below, I offer 21 suggestions for theological study, admittedly from the perspective of someone who could only be called a theological student and/or young theologian.

  1. Make God revealed in Christ the focus of your theological work. The fundamental work of theology is “faith seeking understanding”, to seek God and communicate His reality to humanity. If your theological project is not furthering God’s Kingdom, you’re not doing theology.

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Five Things Everyone Should Know About the Bible

0abfb-bible_kjv_80123523_stdThe Christian Bible remains the most influential written work of Western Civilization, influencing language, government, economics, social groups, institutions, and culture. While many people own a Bible and some even read it on occasion, there are some things that you should know about the Bible that you might not have heard before.

(1) The writings of Christian Bible were originally composed in at least two different languages: Hebrew and Greek. Most of the books of the Jewish scripture making up the Christian Old Testament were composed in Hebrew, although some of the later writings (Daniel and Ezra, for example) may have been composed in Aramaic (a sort of “modernized” form of ancient Hebrew). The writings of the New Testament were originally written in Koine Greek, the common language of the Roman Empire during the time of Christ (also noteworthy are the claims of some scholars who argue that the Gospel According to Matthew was originally composed in Aramaic). Continue reading

Book Review: Best Question Ever

The Best Question EverI recently read The Best Question Ever: A Revolutionary Approach to Decision Making by Andy Stanley. In writing to help his readers better understand how to make the right choices in life and to avoid regrets, Stanley offers very simply advice. When faced with a situation or opportunity of any kind, one must simply ask the “Best Question Ever”: What is the wise thing to do? Stanley explains with some detail the biblical and practical basis for asking this question and why a reflexive attitude towards life decisions is important. He then proceeds to offer suggestions on the implementation of this question into life through issues of time, money, and morality. He closes with an appropriate section for a pastor, writing that true wisdom can only be found within a relationship with God. Continue reading

Book Review: Maxwell Leadership Bible (Thomas Nelson)

Maxwell Leadership BibleIn case you haven’t visited a bookstore of any kind lately or don’t just browse around Amazon for the fun of it (hey, grad students can dream, right?), let me offer you a tidbit of information: there are a LOT of Bibles available today—literally, tons of Bibles. There are different translations, various styles, made for diverse audiences, contrasting theologies at work—to say nothing of the plethora of languages in which the Bible is now available. In many ways, this dissemination of Bibles is good—people have more access to better translations and more applicable versions of the scriptures than at any other time in history. Yet the sheer smorgasbord of options is not without its problems, namely, which Bible should you read? Continue reading