I’m an Everett Ferguson fan. We disagree on some things, but that doesn’t change the fact that Ferguson is a widely respected scholar of the early church whose work is well worth study and reflection.
Ferguson’s Early Christians Speak – Vol. 2 (sadly, volume 1 is out of print) was a huge influence on my early Bible studies — providing me with an excellent foundation in the early church fathers.
Ferguson is the author of the recently published The Early Church and Today, vol. 1 and vol. 2, edited by Leonard Allen and Robyn Burwell. These are collections of scholarly essays by Ferguson on a number of topics connected to the early church and modern church practice.
Volume 1 has been the subject of a series of blog posts at Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed blog. Continue reading
We’re considering Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible, by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien — an excellent book.
Well, the authors next go to meddling –
We built modern cathedrals with children’s ministry spaces that Disney would covet. We still gave (and give) money to missions, but preferably for a trip that includes me. We sing the (beautiful) praise chorus, “It’s all about you, Jesus.” Who are we kidding? It’s all about Jesus-as long as it’s in a service I like, in a building I like, with people I like, with music I like, for a length of time I like. At some point in this generation, “Take up your cross and follow me” changed into, “Come to Jesus and he’ll make your life better.”
(Kindle Locations 2149-2152). Continue reading
The last couple of weeks, I’ve been posting lessons for The Story, as part of my church’s adult Bible classes. I wanted to finish the lessons through the end of the semester, so that I’d not be trying to write curriculum while recovering from surgery. (I have an L5-S1 fusion scheduled for October 29.)
Well, I’m done, and I did not forget that we’ve been considering Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible, by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien — an excellent book.
We can now move to chapter 7 regarding the Roman system of patronage. As is so often the case in a society, the most important rules are the unwritten rules, the ones that are too obvious to put into legislation. And part of the Roman culture that is understood, not explained, was patronage. Continue reading
Rehoboam made plans to go to war to establish his authority over the entire nation, but through a prophet, God warned him not to do so. Amazingly enough, Rehoboam honored God’s word and allow the northern tribes to secede.
Jeroboam feared that allowing the northern tribes to go to Jerusalem to worship would eventually cause him to lose their loyalty.
After all, in those days, each nation had its own “god” and national loyalty and loyalty to the nation’s god were very closely tied. If YHWH were perceived to be God of those tribes ruled by Rehoboam, the people would not want to be separated from the worship of their God. Continue reading
This is an illustration from Boys Life magazine, from many years ago. It tells the story pretty well.
Jeroboam and the Egyptians
Solomon successfully carried on many major building projects, but he used forced labor to do it. The technical term is corvée (\ˈkȯr-ˌvā \) labor, although translations vary quite a lot.
This was not slavery but a form of taxation in which citizens were required to contribute so many days of labor per year for the king’s building projects. It’s usually found in societies where the common man does not have enough cash to be taxed. Continue reading
(1Ki 11:4-6 ESV) 4 For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and did not wholly follow the LORD, as David his father had done.
Solomon’s sin was not polygamy but idolatry, as a result of temptation by his foreign wives.
My guess is that Solomon was too much of a politician. The wives were not just bedroom companions — they also serve as ambassadors for their fathers. As a result, they did not convert to Judaism. They continued to worship the gods of their homelands. Continue reading
Saul and David completed the conquest of the Promised Land, allowing David’s son Solomon to rule in a time of peace and prosperity.
Israel controlled the land routes to Egypt from Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) and Asia Minor (modern day Turkey), which is the pathway to Europe. That is, trade from Europe and Asia had to go through Israel to get to Egypt, and vice versa.
Israel developed a substantial agricultural economy of its own, with olives, wine, wool, cheese, and pottery being produced for trade. In short, once the Promised Land was conquered, its borders secured, its cities walled, and the strong central government put in place with a standing military, Israel enjoyed a time of great prosperity. Continue reading
Not that long ago, my church’s Sunday school classes covered the life of David. The goal is, in one lesson, to address the earthly consequences of David’s sin — the loss of three of his sons, the loss of his throne, and the loss of his honor.
These stories make up a significant portion of 2 Samuel — and make for a great read. It can be amazing how well these ancient stories hold up as literature, not just history.
For background, the teacher may want to read these posts that cover much of this material. I’ve added a few posts that were written later that should add some additional light on the materials –
Who ever thought that someone would sing this hymn with a shooby-do-wah?
He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul.
Sheep are afraid of running streams. After all, sheep can’t swim. When their coats are soaked with water, they are far too heavy.
And in Judea, the problem is even worse. Much of the water is found at the bottom of a wadi — in the American west they’re called arroyos — dried river beds. When the snow melts in the mountains or rains come, the ground is too hard and dry to absorb the water, and so floods come rushing down the wadi.
Often the rain is too far away to see or hear, and so there is usually no warning of the flood until it’s too late to climb out of the wadi. Continue reading