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 →

Perhaps no Bible text illustrates the dangers of a simplistic reading of Scripture than 1 Cor 14:34. If we tear this verse from its cotext, 1 Or for a podcast. and then read it as if the Bible were “God’s instruction manual for life” and even worse read it also literally then we are in trouble! The verse (in the fairly literal NET) 2 Even the NRSV is less literal here omitting the “the” before women, one of the oddities of this verse is that Paul seems to be talking about some particular women. reads: the women should be silent in the churches, for theyRead More →

In this episode we visit two city sites in the Jezreel Valley, Megiddo (with a wealth of archaeological features) illustrates a major royal centre of power, and the smaller Jezreel a royal palace and capital. These visits will lead to a consideration of stories of the reign of Ahab and of the place of kingship in ancient Israel. As we read 1 Kings 18 and 21 these beautiful and powerful cities stand in the background, Megiddo adjacent to Mt Carmel and Jezreel even closer to Naboth’s vinyard. The stories, if not the stones, raise questions around the ideologies and policies necessary to support such aRead More →

The psalm in Jonah 2:2-9 (2:3-10 in Hebrew) is a fine example of a thanksgiving psalm, and everything in its expression and theology would sound fine in the book of Psalms. However, on Jonah’s lips after we have heard the narrative of chapter one, it takes a different flavour. Read in its place in the flow of this book it is ironic.  Read More →

As part of my seminar on Bible abuse at Easter Camp I talked about how a couple of sorts of context (cotext or social setting and culture) help us understand Jesus parable of the Big Feast (Luke 14:16ff.) more sharply. This podcast is a quick version of that focusing on questions of context. [Updated with screencast version from 2010 original.]  Read More →

In our student exegesis assignments we ask them to state the intended meaning for the ancient hearers, ideally in one sentence, maybe two, never more than 50 words. They commonly have two problems. The first is being brief 😉 I have a Sansblogue post on writing tightly that helps address this issue. Their second problem is that they often tend to forget that the text ever had ancient hearers! Yet the Bible is a record of communicative acts, and communicative acts are always contextual. Some “holy books” (like the Qur’an?) are believed to be timeless and decontextual, some (like the I Ching) are thought ofRead More →