The Church and Apocalypticism

Second Temple Judaism was a many-splendoured thing.  That is, it included many different elements—so many elements in fact that some people talk not just of Judaism, but Judaisms (in the plural). While the use of the plural might be a bit of a stretch, there is no denying that Second Temple Judaism was more diverse than the Rabbinic Judaism you now find down the street at the local synagogue.  It included what…

William and Wendy

Recently I was reading about two very different people: William Barclay (whose works I have been familiar with since high school; inset left) and Wendy O. Williams (who I had never heard of until recently; inset right). William Barclay was a preacher and teacher in the United Presbyterian Church in Scotland, famous for his Daily Study Bible series of commentaries. He was born in Scotland in 1907, flourished during the middle part…

Samson: God’s Hell-raiser

One of the most exciting stories in all the Bible is the story of Samson—made culturally famous by the penultimate episode of the story, that of “Samson and Delilah”.  His story forms a significant part of Israel’s history, occupying an entire four chapters of the Book of Judges—even more than the story of Gideon, whom the distributors of Bibles chose for their patron.  Though Samson was not exactly a poster boy for…

Biblical Women: The Prophetess

There is one woman in the Bible who is consistently ignored.  That is perhaps not unexpected, since her name is not given.  Her presence can be first detected by the exegetically keen-sighted in Isaiah 7.  On the eve of an expected invasion of Judah by a northern coalition of Israel and Syria, the prophet Isaiah went to visit his king, Ahaz, who was nervously inspecting the city’s defenses by the conduit of…

Understanding the Bible: Recognizing Christ

In earlier blog posts we spoke of the challenges to be faced in understanding the Bible in all its rich complexity.  We spoke of the necessity of recognizing that the Bible contains many literary genres and that it is a very old book.  We conclude this series by suggesting that to fully grasp the Bible’s meaning, we need to recognize Christ there when we meet Him—including when His prophetic shadow appears in…

Understanding the Bible: Recognizing Antiquity

In an earlier blog post we spoke of the necessity of recognizing literary genre as one of the essential keys to understanding the Bible.  A second key to understanding the Bible is recognizing its antiquity—that is, acknowledging that the Bible is a very old book—and therefore very different than our modern books. This would seem to be too obvious to need stating, but apparently not.  That is, we moderns are often determined…