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”

Claiming innocence (Psalm 69)

Really, Psalmist? Again? More tears, more moaning, more self-pity? More in number than the hairs of your head? So you have counted them? Either the hairs or the enemies? Good lord, if you had a violin in addition to that harp somebody in your own house would have to shoot you. Are you sure aboutContinue reading “Claiming innocence (Psalm 69)”

All day long (Romans 10:21)

“ALL DAY LONG I HAVE HELD OUT MY HANDS TO A DISOBEDIENT AND OBSTINATE PEOPLE.” —Romans 10:21, citing Isaiah 65:2 How to feel about the recalcitrant? (Here is just another lesson in the long course in imitatio Dei that is the Christian life.) They just don’t get it. Are they incapable of understanding? Do theyContinue reading “All day long (Romans 10:21)”

The choice we make (Psalm 1)

Psalm 1 is about two kinds of people: wicked and righteous. The point is not polarization (setting up an Us versus a Them, two fixed and opposed groups) but moral choice: the whole point is that we can, we inevitably do, decide which type to be, and we are being urged to be one wayContinue reading “The choice we make (Psalm 1)”