Trump and Project Blitz: Beware False Attempts to Promote Religious Literacy

| Present

In previous posts (Religious Literacy Guidelines for College Students and HarvardX: Online Course on Religious Literacy), we have discussed the necessity among Americans (including journalists) to become more literate about religion, including the Bible (upon which, like it or not, Western civilization is largely dependent). President Donald Trump has announced that his “Department of Education […]

Franklin Graham, the Bible and the Gay Issue, Part II: Scholarly Evidence for Same-Sex Relationships

| Past,Present

In our last post, we discussed the Rev. Franklin Graham’s negative attitudes toward same-sex relationships, especially in the context of his criticisms of Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and Graham’s use of Bible verses to support his stances. Here we will outline some of the scholarly research concerning same-sex relationships in the early church (from […]

Mary Magdalene, The First Apostle

| Past

As we saw earlier, Mary Magdalene is a figure in the New (Christian) Testament of the Bible worth considering by us moderns. She is significant, in part, because she is so prominent in the canonical Christian texts: she appears numerous times in the New Testament and in all four gospels: Mt 27.55-56, 61; 28.1; Mk […]

Ancient Corinth II: Women in St. Paul’s Time

| Past

Last week, we examined the deities worshiped in ancient Corinth and saw how influential goddesses, as well as gods, were before, during and after the time of St. Paul. Here we will look at the status and role of women at Corinth, especially how their involvement in society and local cults may have influenced Paul […]

Immigration Lessons from the Bible

| Past,Present

We in the United States remain in a season of partisan contention, angst, uncertainty, resistance, divisiveness, and a recent government shutdown. One of the major issues of disagreement between our political parties is that of the “dreamers,” those young people brought to the US illegally as children by their parents, and the Obama-era measure put […]

The SBL and its Annual Meeting: Why They Matter to the General Public

| Past

The Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) is one of the premier professional organizations for scholars and students of religion around the world. While “religion” is often equated in the public’s mind with church-going or participation in other religions such as Judaism and Islam, it is also a discipline bounded by scholarly and ethical standards, evidence, […]

Random Christmas Thoughts

| Future,Past,Present

Three days before Christmas: a good time to share some random thoughts on the reason for the holiday – the man Jesus with the title “Christ.” Jesus the man lived nearly 2,000 years ago as a Jewish subject in the Roman Empire. After he died, his followers kept his memory alive in a myriad of […]

Gospel Manuscripts, Bacteria and Livestock: Science Meets Religion through DNA Technology

| Past

A new process for recovering DNA has led to findings that significantly “marry” two very disparate areas: church history, archaeology and religion with research on livestock in earlier eras. The report by Zach Zorich in Archaeology magazine (November/December 2017 issue) outlines this exciting “marriage.” Parchment – the material from which some ancient illuminated manuscripts were […]

Exploring the Influence of Salome in Early Christianity

| Past

Once in awhile, it’s an interesting exercise to explore the more obscure characters in early Christian literature. For moderns, an obscure character in an ancient religious document might seem far from important; she or he might well be the figment of someone’s imagination and the surrounding story a complete work of meaningless fiction. Here I […]

How Archaeology Can Assist Early Christian Studies and Why it Matters

| Past

In recent years, scholars of the New (Christian) Testament of the Bible – comprised of documents composed between 50 and 150 of the Common Era (CE) – have begun using the tools and interpretations of archaeologists in our quest for the context in which the earliest Christians lived. Since the apostle Paul (a Jew, let […]