Psalm 40:6 and Hebrews 10:5 – The Curious History of a Textual Variant

A reader, Nikolai, asked a question regarding Psalm 40(39):6, famously quoted with a significant variant in Hebrews 10:5, which I will now deal with in this post: Hi Eric, I’m interested in the MT/LXX variants of Psalm 40:6. “Open ear”/ “prepared a body”. The LXX translation has been opted for in Hebrews. I personally see no problem with the midrashic translation of the LXX (or at least this is what I think…

Christians Have a Bible Problem

Let’s own up to it, Christians have a serious problem with the Bible. However you read that statement (as there are multiple ways to interpret it), Christians have a serious problem on their hands. What I’m talking about is the apparent disparity between the “biblical worldview” and a contemporary worldview with its epistemology and ethics. You see, what is happening is that non-Christians are feeding the Bible back to Christians in ways that they don’t like.…

How Should Orthodox Christians Appropriate Secular Knowledge?

  This is an important question and one that is very germane as Orthodox Christianity is now, perhaps more fully than ever, forced to encounter the intellectual and scientific knowledge of Western Civilization. There has been, understandably, a great deal of conflict over this matter, as there has been within the various forms of Western Christianity as well. In this post, I want to draw attention to a very fascinating case in…

Mythology and the Bible: Psalm 93 as a Case Study

A tip of the hat to my good friend Rachel, who asked me about this psalm, and in my usual manner I provided way more information than originally requested. So, I decided to turn in into a blog post. “The Lord is King, He is robed in majesty!” Orthodox Christians hear this first verse of Psalm 93 sung as the prokeimenon at Saturday Vespers, so, for most, it is indelibly imprinted upon their…

Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees, Oh My! (Sectarianism Part III)

Most of us have gown up hearing these words, “the scribes and Pharisees,” and ” the Sadducees.”  We know that they play the foil for Jesus in the Gospels as his opponents and interlocutors in the run-up to his crucifixion, but we know little else about them, what distinguishes them and what it was exactly that they believed. In this post, we will examine this and other major sects of Judaism that…

A Biblical History of Sectarianism (Part II): The Formation of a Jewish Orthodoxy

In the last (and first) post in this series, we looked at sectarianism as it was manifested in the first “Great Schism” between the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel and Judah respectively. To continue our study of the phenomenon of sectarianism in the Old Testament we now move to the pivotal event of the Babylonian Exile. It is hard to overstate the importance of the Babylonian Exile, for it is the…

Universalism – Judgment, Forgiveness, and the Middle Way

What follows here is opinion, conjecture, and hypothetical thought. It is not presented as “teaching” or any sort of official stance of Orthodoxy, in spite of any rhetoric contained therein. Orthoblogdom has been raging with recent debates regarding the doctrine of apokatastasis, more commonly known as universalism, the idea that everyone will eventually be saved, even after suffering a period of purgative hellfire. The lines are drawn and the sides thoroughly entrenched in…

Sectarianism: A Biblical History and Lessons for Today

Sectarianism is one of the primary issues facing Christianity today. Constituents defend confessional borders with rigor, proudly (er… humbly) declaring that they are the Church of Jesus Christ or else that they have an exclusive understanding of divine truth. Whether you agree with taking such a stance or not, nevertheless, this is where confessional Christianity finds itself. But sectarianism reaches to even greater extremes with divisions forming within confessional groups, where groups defend either conservative…

Resurrection and Theosis: The Ancient West Semitic Record

A current “hot topic” in Anglophone Orthodoxy at the moment is the question of apokatastasis or universal salvation, the notion that somehow, at some point, all of creation, including every human person and possibly even the demons will be reconciled and redeemed to God. Naturally, this has a certain appeal, which, for many who are tired of the fear-mongering preaching of religion yesteryear, find solace and encouragement in such a conceptual framework to surround…

Tongues of Fire and the Apocalyptic Spirit at Pentecost

Perhaps the strangest feature of the familiar narrative of the Day of Pentecost from Acts 2, stranger even than the Apostles’ sudden ability to speak a variety of languages, is the appearance of “tongues of fire” that rested upon their heads. What exactly were these “tongues of fire” and what were they signifying? In this post, I will explore the origins of this image and what it means in this context, though…