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Biblical and Theological Studies

I am fascinated with the family lineages of the Bible. Perhaps it is the writer or counselor in me. Genealogies of the Bible abound with intriguing insights about biblical characters we rarely hear or think about. For example, consider 1 Chronicles chapter seven. Here we find a list of the descendants of the Israelite tribe of Ephraim. Patriarchal sons of Israel are always mentioned, daughters hardly ever. However, among the descendants of Ephraim, we find an incredibly interesting name. Verse 24 states “His daughter was Sheerah, who built Lower and Upper Beth Horon as well as Uzzen Sheerah” (1 Chron. 7 NIV). The Hebrew word for “built” in this verse literally means to build, to make or set up. Those who cannot accept or believe that a mighty woman of Israel c... Read more
Essentially any book on New Testament backgrounds will include some description of the cultural values of honor and shame. For a full and admirable treatment of the subject, see David deSilva’s Honor, Patronage, Kinship, and Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture (InterVarsity, 2000). Simply put, most people in the Greco-Roman world were constantly conscious that their social status was potentially in flux, moving up or down by accumulating honor or shame, respectively. Some aspects of a person’s shame would be unchangeable fixtures, such as being born into an unimpressive family. Other shameful realities were more up for grabs, such as failing in a trade or not getting an education. Though shame could be acquired by an individual’s actions, such actions t... Read more
Essentially any book on New Testament backgrounds will include some description of the cultural values of honor and shame. (For a full and admirable treatment of the subject, see David deSilva’s Honor, Patronage, Kinship, and Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture [InterVarsity, 2000]). Simply put, most people in the Greco-Roman world were constantly conscious that their social status was potentially in flux, moving up or down by accumulating honor or shame, respectively. Some aspects of a person’s shame would be unchangeable fixtures, such as being born into an unimpressive family. Other shameful realities were more up for grabs, such as failing in a trade or not getting an education. Though shame could be acquired by an individual’s actions, such actions tend... Read more
Why is Paul in chains? And what is this mystery that God has now revealed? I believe the answer to both of these questions is the same. And it might not be what we typically think it is. If we miss it, we will miss the importance of Paul’s prison epistles. When Paul returns to Jerusalem after his third missionary journey, the crowds try to have him killed, but he calms the crowd by speaking to them in their language, Aramaic. He concludes his message by saying, “‘Then the Lord said to me, “Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.”’ The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, ‘Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!’” (Acts 22:21-22) Is Paul taken to prison for believing... Read more
“Why are you single?” I don’t know how often married people are asked why they are married, but I have a feeling it is less often than singles are asked the reasons behind their marital status. It’s often followed up with “Are your standards too high? Have you been hurt? What vibes are you putting out?” Yes, to my face, out loud, these questions come. Sometimes condescendingly, other times in genuine wonder, trying to put together my awesomeness with my singleness. My answer varies depending on my mood and depth of relationship. But in my rawest, most honest moments I say: “I am a Christian. I am a woman. I am a leader. Remove any one of those statements and I believe I would be married.” This is a loaded claim. I get it. And beca... Read more
Tim Krueger
 I recently heard a sermon delivered by Dr. Peter T. Vogt, a professor of Old Testament at Bethel Seminary in Saint Paul, MN. In it, he shared some insights about the story of Naomi and Ruth (Listen to the sermon here—it starts around the 40-minute mark). With his permission, I have summarized some of them here. One of the first things we learn about Israel, God’s covenant people, is that God didn’t choose them because they were particularly special; he chose them to be his instruments to bless the world. The second thing we learn about Israel is that it repeatedly failed to be a blessing. Instead, it adopted the practices of its neighbors, always wandering away from Yahweh. Naomi, however, stands in contrast to Israel’s failure to influence its neighbo... Read more
I don’t know about you, but I have evangelical friends with all kinds of different views on gender. Come to think of it, I have evangelical friends with all kinds of different views on a whole host of topics: child baptism or believers’ baptism, “just war” theory or pacifism, Arminianism or Calvinism, and, yes, even egalitarianism or some form of gender hierarchism (often called, somewhat misleadingly, “complementarianism”). Since evangelicalism has no official magisterium, such diversity is inevitable. And, while I’m as committed to the egalitarian cause as the next person, I’ve come to view this diversity as a good thing. It means that instead of relying on the coercion of some official leaders or evangelical “gatekeepers,... Read more
That same day two of them were walking to the village of Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them, but they were not able to recognise who he was. He asked “What’s this you are discussing so intently as you walk along ?”  They just stood there, long faced, like they had lost their best friend. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, asked “Are you the only one in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard what’s happened during the last few days?” He said. “What has happened?” They said “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene. He was a man of God, a prophet, dyn... Read more
Many know the story of Queen Esther from the Bible. However, often our own culture and struggles can lead us to “discover” lessons that are not part of the text, or miss important details that are. Often in churches, Esther becomes obscured to the point where this brave woman who was mightily used by God becomes passively subject to the decisions of men. For example, a marriage book released recently by a popular pastor and his wife used the story of Esther to promote obedience to one’s husband, contrasting disobedient Queen Vashti with a “submissive” Esther. Is submission to one’s husband truly the lesson of this narrative? Esther, also known as Hadassah, was an orphan, one of the Jewish exiles living as a minority in Persia. Against all odds, she mar... Read more
One famous woman who requires explanation from those who do not believe women should occupy the highest levels of leadership is Junia, “outstanding among the apostles.” Since Joanna is a Hebrew version of the name Junia, some believe Junia may even be the Joanna Luke mentions in his gospel (Richard Bauckham in Gospel Women: Studies of the Named Women in the Gospels). Having been healed by Jesus, she accompanied him on his travels and supported him financially in furthering the proclamation of the kingdom of God. After Jesus’ death, she met him again (1 Cor. 9:1; 15:8; Gal. 1:1, 15-17). After Jesus’ resurrection, Paul recognizes Junia as an apostle just as he does himself, Silvanus, Timothy, Barnabas, and those among the twelve. Later, Junia—and possibly h... Read more

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