The story of the “Golden Calf” episode, offers three different answers to the question: Who brought Israel out of Egypt. And they are attributed to different people and recounted to us by different people! This opens lots of interesting possibilities for interplay of points of view. When there are “rough edges” like this in a text it is a critic’s job, any sort of critic worth their salt, to pick at them and hope to see more of how or why the text is constructed. That’s what I do here, encourage you to pick at the edges from a narrative, relational perspective, and to askRead More →

Sunday School, and most of our quick summaries of the contents of the Bible present Exodus as telling the story of how God frees Israelite slaves from the powers of Egypt. But, a closer look at the book shows that’s just half the story! Here we’ll focus Exodus as a book in two halfs. Doing this will suggest even more sharply that this ancient collection of stories and laws poses a real challenge to us today!  Read More →

This passage was probably chosen because it contains two famous “Bible stories”, the Golden Calf (in which a priest does what the people want, and becomes so successful that drunkenness, idolatry and other stupidity reigns) and the time Moses got to see God’s backside. But more troublingly it is another passage where God commands and demands killing. I can’t offer easy answers, indeed in one 5 minute podcast what did you expect πŸ˜‰ but I will return to these passages and examine the issue in podcasts outside this E100 series.Read More →

This reflection focuses on two things from this reading, the significance of calling Israel (in the context of making a covenant) a priestly kingdom and a holy nation, and how we should read/understand the ten commandments. (For that part it may help to listen to some of the podcasts here, in particular Casuistic and apodictic: part 1: What the terms mean.) We’ll also end by realising what it means to say Yahweh is a jealous God, and very briefly start thinking about what that jealousy means.Read More →

Despite its title this five has little about the law, and not enough about the covenant (binding agreement) to which this law belongs. The selection of passages (the first time I have strongly differed from the choice made by the organisers) is weighted towards American Evangelical favourite Sunday School stories. Having got that gripe off my chest, we’ll notice how in these readings we learn (again) about what it does and does not mean to be God’s chosen people. And we will discover more in those Sunday School stories than they taught in my Sunday School πŸ˜‰ And incidentally I will promise again that IRead More →

In this podcast we’ll notice just how firmly this passage tells us that the miracle at the Reed Sea* was indeed entirely a miracle. We’ll notice how good source critics were/are at spotting small discrepancies in texts, but also how little the composers of the Bible seemed to care about detail, concerned with things that matter (relationships, especially and particularly our relationship with God) rather than “facts” which are merely of secondary importance. And, watching and listening to the Israelites we’ll spot how fear and grumbling are related. * That yam suph meant “sea of reeds” and was not (at first, necessarily) the name ofRead More →