Like all good stories, and the Bible is before and after everything else a story, Scripture begins at the beginning. The beginning of everything, and a garden planted by God. Everything falls apart, for humans fall apart, and many of the stories in Scripture are horrible, grotesque or inspiring, for such a mixture describes the world we inhabit. In the middle of the Bible story, at the start of the second part of the library of Scripture, we hear the story of Jesus and his teaching, his death and resurrection. This is prolonged into the beginning of the story of the new humanity and illustratedRead More →

Bible Users Manual

The Christian Bible is a big sprawling collection of documents from widely different time periods (roughly the end of the Bronze Age to the Roman empire) in many different genres (as different as history and love poems, or proverbs and lengthy letters) composed in three languages and two different writing systems. To make matters worse most Bibles do not “work” the same as other books. Page numbers do not help in identifying sections because they differ in most of the myriad different translations and editions. So, how does one find one’s way around and use such a weird book? This podcast explains “chapters” and “verses”,Read More →

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 →

Way back, at the turn of the century, I wrote an article for  Festschrift volume: Tim Bulkeley, “Where do you read.” in Mission without Christendom: exploring the site, essays for Brian Smith (Carey Studies in Theology) Auckland: Carey Baptist College, 13-22. Among other things it noted how the assumptions and cultural baggage we bring to “reading” a passage of Scripture can colour, change or allow us to see things more or less clearly. This podcast illustrates this listening to one of Jesus’ best-loved parables (Luke 15:11-32). And (I hope tactfully) suggests Western Christians risk missing the “point” in a quite dangerous way 🙁 BTW IRead More →

In some Bible passages, as atheists and others who want to avoid the claims of God are quick to point out, God sounds like a Dalek. Deut 7:2 is a typical case. When the LORD your God hands these nations over to you and you conquer them, you must completely destroy them. Make no treaties with them and show them no mercy. (NLT) Here God demands that Israel exterminate all the Canaanites. What’s going on? Is the God of the Bible (or at least the Old Testament a genocidal maniac? This is part one of a series, so it will only deal with part ofRead More →

Well,the end of the world has passed, again 🙂 That’s the second time this year! It is the Bible that causes all the problems. or rather it is bad reading of the Bible that causes all the problems. No book is more commonly misread than Revelation. Christians keep wanting it to predict tomorrow. And boy, do they get tied in knots! But a simple direct dose of the KIIC principle would cure them… Keep It In Context, that’s all you have to do. Ask how the message would sound to the writer and intended receivers of the message. For a bit more on this inRead More →