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Weekly Readers’ Mailbag: January 16, 2016

  It is time for the weekly mailbag.  This week there are only two questions, but the first has two parts: why (many) Christians are so pro-Israel and how can they be pro-Jewish and still worship Jesus.  The second question involves how we know which letters of Paul were actually written by him.  If you would like me to address any question you have, just add a comment here or at any other time on the blog, or send me an email ********************************************************************** QUESTION:  Why are Christians so Pro Israel? Seems like to me if they agree with Judaism they couldn't be a Christian. Because of the first commandment. RESPONSE:   I’ll answer the second part of the question first.   What the reader is saying (I think) is that since the first commandment is “You shall have no other gods before me,” then Christians cannot be pro-Jewish because they also worship Jesus – therefore two gods.   I have two responses to that. The first is that the commandment is *not* that:  “You must believe that I [...]

Where Did Israel Come From?

Yesterday I indicated that my post on the Conquest narratives would be my last for a while on the Hebrew Bible. I lied. Several people pointed out that I finished the post with a cliff-hanger: Where then did Israel come from? In other words, if the Israelites did not conquer the Promised Land as narrated in Joshua, but Israel did at some point appear in the land of Canaan – where did they come from? The following is my very brief summation of the options ******************************************************************************************************************** Explanations for the Beginnings of Israel in the Land Modern scholars have come up with a number of explanations for how the nation of Israel emerged within the land known as Canaan. The following are the four most popular. FOR THE REST OF THIS POST, log in as a Member. If you don't belong yet, JOIN!! The Conquest Theory.   Popularized especially by American archaeologist William Albright in the mid-20th century, this view more or less accepted the accounts of Joshua as factually accurate.  There really was a conquest [...]

Off to Israel

I'm off to Israel first thing tomorrow morning, and will be gone for ten days.  I’ll be on email most days; I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to blog, but I’ll do my best. So this is an alumni tour for UNC, just over 20 people going (they limited it to that size), along with Sarah and me.  It’s a great deal for me.  On these things the university will send a faculty member who gives a few lectures, hangs out with the people, answers questions, engages in conversation – and gets a free trip out of it!  Things could be worse…. This will be my fourth time in Israel.   The first time I went was in 1993, and I remember quite vividly thinking before that that it was not a place I much wanted to visit.  That seems weird – and seemed weird to me even at the time – since obviously a good deal of my research has to do with Israel 2000 years ago.  But I think that I had [...]

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