Hebrew Bible

The Judges as Legends of the Two Kingdoms // The descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have grown into twelve tribes consisting of millions of people. They escaped slavery in Egypt, wandered in the wilderness for a generation, and eventually conquered the land of Canaan to live in. Having settled in the land, the Israelites now face foreign threats to their livelihood, so God sends heroes to rescue them. Where did the stories of these heroes come from?

Habakkuk & the Gods of Israel // Chapter three of Habakkuk is widely regarded as one of the most difficult passages in the Hebrew Bible to translate due to several textual corruptions. It is also unusual for being a hymn set within poetic prophecy. Unwittingly, these features reveal how ancient Judeans were polytheists.

New Testament

Jesus as the Divine Agent of God // One tenet of Christian theology that has been carefully defined over many centuries is the identity of Jesus as God. The historically orthodox teaching of Christianity is highly specific, and its biblical foundation is taken for granted in a confessional context. The case is different for critical scholarship. Understanding what Jesus’ earliest followers thought about him takes us through a world of ‘divine agents’ found in ancient Judaism.

Jesus & the Destruction of the Temple // In the gospels, Jesus clashes with the religious elite of Israel. His sharp criticisms of their sins occasionally turn to declarations of end-times doom. At the center of his prophecies we find the Olivet Discourse, which begins with a prediction that the temple will be destroyed. About four decades later the Romans razed Jerusalem. Can the prediction of the temple’s destruction credibly be attributed to Jesus?

Mark & the Crucifixion // For nearly two thousand years, Christian thought has said the death of Jesus is the means by which God rescues humans from the problem of evil. While the circumstances which led to Jesus’ death are narrated in several books, they all depend on the Gospel of Mark. Exploring Mark’s crucifixion account can lead to a nuanced appreciation for how it functions as literature, but it also leads to questions on the historical plausibility of the story which the author tells.