Who do Men Say that I Am? Biblical Interpretation and the Christian Tradition

New Testament Scholar James McGrath has linked to three posts which claim that the New Testament in various places does not, in fact, state that Jesus is God. This sort of work is rather common, and has been featured in scholarly debates about New Testament Christology for a very long time. There is a basic assumption in Western religious culture of a distinction between “God” and “Jesus.” God is God, and Jesus is,…

The Waters Turned Back: The Iconology of the Dove in Scripture and Liturgy

The better part of biblical interpretation is simply connecting the dots from one part of the Bible to another. The Bible often has a way of interpreting itself, later texts giving context and theological fulfillment to earlier ones. Such is the case with the biblical texts underlying the Orthodox feast of Theophany, the commemoration of the baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ. The biblical texts for this feast are Matt. 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11,…

Exodus: Gods and Kings Review

    Some Christians seem to have difficulty envisioning Yahweh, the God of Israel and creator of the universe as a little child. Thankfully, that will not deter Orthodox Christians in any way. Aside from that and other curious artistic decisions of director Ridley Scott, Exodus: Gods and Kings delivers a rather tepid effort in retelling the Exodus story. If you’re like me, you grew up watching Cecil B. deMille’s majestic The Ten Commandments.…

Preaching the Gospel in a Gospel-less World

In this post, I would like to say a few words about homiletics, though I am not a clergyman, so it is perhaps “not my place.” Nevertheless, as a teacher, I would like to offer a few words of reflection on the matter.  I would, however, like to make it clear that my remarks are not directed at any particular individual, and these, I hope, will not be words of negative critique but…

The Theological Truths behind the Strange Physics of Interstellar

  The recent sci-fi drama Interstellar by the acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan has famously brought Einstein’s theory of general relativity to the Big Screen, though scientists scoffed at its more sentimental “theoretical physics” which posited that love is a force that can transcend both time and space. Naturally, science would and should scoff at such an idea, because love is properly understood as an emotion, chemicals in the brain directing electrical signals along neural…

The Heavenly Liturgy: The Pre-Christian Origins of Mystical Worship

In my last post, I introduced the concept of a “mystical ascent” that takes place in the Divine Liturgy. Orthodox Christians are all catechized to understand that the Divine Liturgy is a meeting of Heaven and Earth, whereby the faithful spiritually enter the heavenly throne room of God and commune with Christ through the Holy Eucharist. This understanding of divine worship is no innovation, nothing new that Christians invented. Rather the notion…

The Entrance of the Theotokos: Heralding the Return of Yahweh among His People

On November 21, the Orthodox Church celebrates a rather peculiar feast, one that is not found in sacred Scripture and thus may appear to only be pious legend. The bulk of thematic material for the feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple is taken from the mid- to late second century apocryphal work known as the Protoevangelium of James (also known as The Infancy Gospel of James). The general narrative includes the…

Their Sound has Gone out into all the Earth

Sunday, November 16, was, for those celebrating on the Revised Julian (New) Calendar, the feast of St. Matthew the Evangelist. The prokeimenon of the feast, that which is common for the Evangelists, is taken from Psalm 18(19):5 εἰς πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν ἐξῆλθεν ὁ φθόγγος αὐτῶν / καὶ εἰς τὰ πέρατα τῆς οἰκουμένης τὰ ῥηματα αὐτῶν Their sound has gone out into all the earth / and their words to the ends of…

Baal and Leviathan: Understanding The Mythical Imagination and the Bible

  Modern scholarship is accustomed to speak about two creation accounts in Genesis 1:1-2:3 and Genesis 2:4-25 respectively. Regardless of the origins of these two narratives, it can be acknowledged by everyone that they tell two partially overlapping accounts of the creation of “the man” hāˀāḏām. But there is a third creation account in the Bible, one that is very familiar to most Orthodox Christians, but one which may not be recognized as…

Justification by Faith – A Rejoinder to “Reformation Day”

Protestant Christians have become fond of celebrating October 31 as “Reformation Day,” commemorating Martin Luther’s nailing of the 95 Theses to the doors of the Wittenburg church on October 31, 1517.  During my days as a Reformed Protestant, I myself would ritually tape a copy of the 95 Theses to the doors of my university hall. While the Theses were mainly regarding the practice of indulgences, suffice to say, as an Orthodox Christian, my views of the…