Sorting by


Women and their Demons in the Life of Jesus: Guest Post by James McGrath

This now is the final guest post by blogger and New Testament scholar, James McGrath, based on his book What Jesus Learned from Women.  Are you interested in more?  Buy the book!  As you’ll see here, it gets onto important ground, with intriguing hypotheses that you probably have never heard before!  Many thanks to James for making these posts for us. - James McGrath is also the author of Theology and Science Fiction and The Burial of Jesus, among other books. ************************* It is almost impossible for modern readers of the New Testament to come across the word "demon" and to not think of The Exorcist and other depictions of the phenomenon of "demon possession." Ancient people certainly attributed what we today would categorize as psychiatric conditions or mental illnesses to demons. However, these are but a small subset of the ailments that they thought of in these terms. We see this in the stories about women in the Gospels. In no instance are we presented with a woman whose symptoms are specified to have [...]

2021-04-24T09:22:19-04:00May 8th, 2021|Historical Jesus, Women in Early Christianity|

The Spirit of God in the Old Testament

I will not be giving a full account of the presence of the Spirit of God throughout the Old Testament (or the New) – just enough to give a sense of how the Spirit seems to have been widely understood in a range of authors.  The short story: biblical authors seemed to understand that one way God manifested himself and provided his power to specially chosen people was to send his Spirit upon them. In this understanding, the spirit is simply the divine force that God sends.  It is not seen as a separate “person” from God.  In an undefined sense (that probably the authors didn’t think about much), the spirit is both part of God (as your breath is part of you) and yet is separate from God (remember: spirit and breath and wind are all the same word in Hebrew). As an analogy: when you blow out a candle it is your breath doing it, and that act, the tool used to achieve it (the breath itself), and that which is actually achieved [...]

2021-05-01T11:36:49-04:00May 6th, 2021|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|

How Did the Holy Spirit Get Into the Trinity? In the Beginning….

Since I started this thread on the development of the doctrine of the Trinity, I have received the same question over and over again:  What about the Holy Spirit?  As I’ve repeatedly answered, I can’t really deal with that question until I finish explaining how the “orthodox” view of the relationship of the Father and Son came to be settled. In fact, that view never was really settled.  There were debates for a very long time.  But I’ve taken us up through the major issues, up to the council of Nicea, where it was decided that Christ was not a subordinate divine being from eternity past who at some point long, long before the creation of the universe had been brought into being by God, but that he had always existed, along with the Father and was not subordinate to him but was equal to him in every way, “of the very same substance” as the Father. And so, we have two persons, completely equal, both fully God, distinct from one another, but in some [...]

Was Paul Peter’s Enemy?

In a lecture I gave recently, I was talking about "forgeries" in the name of Peter, Jesus' disciple -- that is, books that *claimed* to be written by Peter but certainly were not.  They were written by Christians living later who *said* they were Peter -- possibly in order to get more readers for their books! There is a big question about the canonical books of 1 and 2 Peter.  The vast majority of critical scholars (i.e. those who make their historical judgments apart from questions of what they would personally like to believe about the Bible religiously) agree that 2 Peter was not written by Peter; whoever wrote it, it certainly was not the author of 1 Peter.  A lot of scholars, including me, somewhat forcefully, also argue that Peter could not have written 1 Peter either.  But that's a topic for other posts (which I've made in the past). In my lecture I mentioned three others, that no one disagrees about: the Gospel of Peter, the Apocalypse of Peter, and the Letter of [...]

The Council of Nicaea and The Resulting View of Christ

I have been discussing the Arian controversy over how to understand the relationship of the Father and the Son – the crucial element in establishing the doctrine of the Trinity.  It led to the Council of Nicea.  A lot could be, and has been, said about the Council.  It is NOT when church Fathers decided which books would be in the New Testament and is NOT when they decided that Jesus was divine (even though that’s what you read in the Da Vinci Code !!).  They did not discuss the first issue and everyone at the council already fully believed Christ was God.  The question was: in what sense? Here is what I say about the Council in my book The Triumph of Christianity, in a chapter in which I deal with the emperor Constantine and his involvement with the church after his conversion.  I begin by summarizing the two main positions in question – Arius’s view of Christ and his bishop Alexander’s view. ********************* Arius maintained that Christ, the Logos, could not be equal [...]

YHWH and Jehovah: Same? Different? Where’s Jehovah Come From?

I received a number of comments on my recent posts about whether Jesus was Yahweh (Hebrew: YHWH) in traditional Christian thinking/theology.  And a number of people have wanted further explanation of the name.  In particular: how does it relate to "Jehovah"?  In fact, where does the name "Jehovah" come from?   And is it in the New Testament? I was asked this question directly years ago on the blog, and posted on it.    Here is the question and what I said in response.   QUESTION: How firmly grounded in reality is the claim of Jehovah’s Witnesses that the ‘divine name’ (Jehovah) belongs in the New Testament?   RESPONSE So this is an interesting question, with several possible ramifications.  At first I should explain that the divine name “Jehovah” doesn’t belong in *either* Testament, old or new, in the opinion of most critical scholars, outside the ranks of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  That’s because Jehovah was not the divine name. So here’s the deal.  In the Hebrew Bible (the Christian Old Testament) God is given a number [...]

Go to Top