Prayer before studying the Bible

This is a prayer that may be used to open a session of Bible study. It was written by Julie Palmer. As we open our Bibles We also open our hearts. May these words of truth fall upon the very fabric of our lives. Father, we pray that these ancient scriptures would come alive withinContinue reading “Prayer before studying the Bible”

Bible heroes weren’t all moral models

The problem with using the Old Testament stories as morality tales is that even the best of the patriarchs, judges, and kings had serious character flaws. The most obvious example is King David, who, despite his outstanding faith amongst the kings, nevertheless committed rape and murder. If anything these stories show us the pervasiveness ofContinue reading “Bible heroes weren’t all moral models”

Biblical tales of corruption

One of the problems with reading the bible in a flat manner is that huge chunks of it seems to be there for the sole purpose of establishing the perverseness and pervasiveness of corruption and injustice, commonly referred to in Christian circles as sin, and consequently of the need for salvation. Consider the narrative sectionsContinue reading “Biblical tales of corruption”

The Bible according to Origen

Origen of Alexandria was an early Christian ascetic, bible scholar, and theologian who lived from 184 to 253 AD, spending much of his life in Egypt. He was a prolific writer and one of the most influential figures in early Christianity. Origen is also an early witness to what books were included in the Bible,Continue reading “The Bible according to Origen”

The Bible according to Athanasius

Athanasius was a Christian theologian and prominent Egyptian leader in the fourth century. He wrote many works, was exiled many times, and is remembered especially for his defence of Trinitarianism against Arianism. What is also worth noting is his early articulation of the books of the Bible. In his 39th Letter he wrote: “There are,Continue reading “The Bible according to Athanasius”

Jesus and the Old Testament

Below is a graphic representation of the number of times Jesus quotes the Old Testament in the New Testament. There are some interesting patterns here. Firstly, note how the the Gospel of Matthew is the most quote heavy of the four all and that there’s considerable focus on the Torah, the first five books ofContinue reading “Jesus and the Old Testament”

The Trinity in the Bible

Although the doctrine of the Trinity is not taught explicitly in scripture, it is the many verses which illustrate the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, acting as one, which bring Christians back, time and time again, to the question. Consider, for instance, this introduction to the first letter to the Thessalonians; the intertwining of referencesContinue reading “The Trinity in the Bible”

Land and biblical theology

An excerpt from Jesus and the Land by Gary M. Burge “Walter Brueggemann is correct when he suggests that land might be the central theme of biblical faith. “Biblical faith is the pursuit of historical belonging that includes a sense of destiny derived from such belonging.” And if this is so, he continues, land mightContinue reading “Land and biblical theology”

What books make up the Old Testament? 

While there is some disagreement between different Christian traditions regarding the extent of the Old Testament, these disagreements should be understood within the context of broad agreement overall. To begin with, the three main branches of Christianity (Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant) as well as rabbinic Judaism all agree the Old Testament includes the core Hebrew texts, commonlyContinue reading “What books make up the Old Testament? “

Exploring the Bible story as a chiasm

I have not often made this so explicit, but I tend to view the Bible story as a five act drama with a chiastic structure. I would illustrate it most simply as follows: A: Creation       B: Covenant            C: Christ       B’: Church  A’: Coming Soon  In eachContinue reading “Exploring the Bible story as a chiasm”