All those who practice it (Psalm 111)

Psalm 111 is a beautiful psalm of praise. It praises the character of God not as an abstraction but as manifested in God’s works. Note the recurrence of “works,” “work,” “deeds,” and various action verbs (highlighted in pink in the photo). Note also that among God’s works are God’s precepts. God not only gives foodContinue reading “All those who practice it (Psalm 111)”

On reading Psalm 93

The Lord is “robed in majesty,” yes, and high and lifted up, but the scripture he has given us: it is given through our own mouths, and portrays our own plight, is right down here on the ground with us, in the mud and the blood and the gore.

SKANDAL! A Sermon on Mark 9:42–50

For American Christians today, Mark 9:42–50 conveys a stern warning from Jesus about confusing Christianity with nationalism and destroying the credibility of the gospel in other ways.

Illegitimate totality transfer (on praying Psalm 44)

Warnings from biblical lexicography James Barr was for many years, I think, the scholar most feared by other members of the biblical-studies guild. He had a knack for spotting and exposing fallacies that were widely accepted by his peers as standard practice. Probably the best-known example of his work was his book The Semantics ofContinue reading “Illegitimate totality transfer (on praying Psalm 44)”

Reading Matthew: Make disciples

Beginnings and endings of books can help us grasp and remember what the books mean. Recently I finished reading through Exodus and left some thoughts on what that book means in light of its ending. I have also just finished reading through the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew begins with a genealogy that grounds the meaningContinue reading “Reading Matthew: Make disciples”

Reading Exodus: Holiness means obedience

‎When you’re reading a text, some parts carry more weight than others. Even if every word matters, some words shape how you understand other words. If we’re reading well, and trusting the text, we could say that every word affects how you understand every other word. But in practice some words—some parts of the text—affectContinue reading “Reading Exodus: Holiness means obedience”