Did God Really Order a Genocide?

Every once in a while a detractor of the Christian faith objects that Christianity is ethically bankrupt because Christians worship a deity who ordered a genocide of all the inhabitants of Canaan when the Israelites entered the land under the leadership of Joshua. They can certainly quote enough texts in arguing their case. Deuteronomy 20:16-17 says, “In the cities of the nations that the Lord your God is giving you as an…

Biblical Women: Esther

If ever a Biblical story cried out to be made into a Hollywood movie, it would be the story of Esther. The story has everything that Hollywood values in a movie: rags-to-riches, gorgeous scenery, sex, intrigue, a creepy villain, attempted murder, violence, plot twists, a cast of thousands, and a happy ending. It even centers upon a strong female character, a kind of proto-feminist, someone who is both strong and feminine, vulnerable…

They Are A-Changin’

Lately when listening to that old 1960s anthem “The Times They Are A-Changin’” by Bob Dylan, I couldn’t help but think of (believe it or not) Eusebius of Caesarea. In particular I thought that this was exactly the sort of song he was singing in his writings and panegyrics about Constantine. Eusebius was a great fan of his emperor, and something of a herald for the new age which was then dawning.…

Biblical Women: Ruth

The Book of Ruth, a little tale of only four chapters, is arguably the sweetest book of the Bible and perhaps in all literature. Its sweetness is accentuated by its position within order of the books of the Septuagint and of the Christian versions dependent upon it, for there it comes immediately after the Book of Judges and immediately before the Book of 1 Samuel/ 1 Kingdoms. The Book of Judges is…

Of Giants and Grasshoppers

When the spies that Joshua sent out to reconnoitre the land returned to camp, they came with bad news: “The people who live in the land are strong and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” The spies were quite rattled: “There we also saw the…

Flying By The Instruments

I was told once that it is possible when flying an airplane to lose track of whether you are flying rightside-up or upside-down—presumably because when you can’t see the ground or are flying through clouds or fog, you lose track of everything. It was then, I was further told, that it became crucial that you fly by the instruments. That is, if the instrument panel in front of the pilot indicated that…