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 →

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 →

Many Old Testament stories in the history books seem to have no message but that human-beings are broken and need mending, are sinful and therefore keep spoiling God’s lovely world and hurting each other! Then along comes this story to remind us of another truth… 1 Samuel 24  is set amid political jostling and attempted murder in the beginnings of the Hebrew monarchy. Yet the story has not one, but two, real heroes. For here young David and poor old, broken and probably insane, Saul both act with gracious nobility.  Read More →