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The Bible and Beyond
31 minutes | Jun 2, 2021
Is the Idea of Christian Heresy Still Relevant?
Chance Bonar thinks Christian accusations of ‘heresy’ will probably last to some degree, but the way many think about such things is changing. Branding someone a ‘heretic,’ and some theological ideas as ‘heretical’ began when different church authorities tried to preserve the status quo and maintain adherence to what they saw as original doctrine. But the discovery of the Nag Hammadi texts (and some new scholarship) are re-defining ‘heresy’ as a discourse, rather than something emerging from an evil power. Gnostic stereotypes are yielding to a more nuanced and thoughtful understanding, providing an example of how to express theological differences without vilifying and demeaning the practices of others.
31 minutes | May 5, 2021
Charles Hedrick and Nag Hammadi Manuscripts
In this interview, Charles Hedrick describes how he became one of the first people to work directly with the ancient manuscripts found near Nag Hammadi, Egypt. His deep religious curiosity led him from his traditional Baptist origins to the Coptic Museum in Old Cairo. There, he worked with scholars putting fragments of the newly discovered texts together and translating them. His questions led him to other hot topics: the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Judas.
28 minutes | Apr 7, 2021
What the Apostles Did after the Resurrection
Professor Janet Spittler leads us comfortably into the unfamiliar world of apocryphal texts, where we learn what happened to the apostles after the resurrection. The texts are part-history, part-entertainment, part-ethical teaching, but wholly important to our understanding of the development of Christianity. They are fascinating and multi-layered, offering glimpses of Jesus’s teaching as well as later church teaching. The texts are stories that Christians have written, told, read, and copied for more than a thousand years.
41 minutes | Mar 17, 2021
Are the Shapira Deuteronomy Fragments Real or Forgeries?
When Idan Dershowitz broke the news last week that the extremely ancient Shapira Deuteronomy Fragments (aka Shapira Scroll or Valediction of Moses) might not be forgeries, but actually authentic, Tony Burke agreed to discuss some of the public questions and concerns about it with Early Christian Texts. Dershowitz claims the manuscript could be older than Deuteronomy. Although not directly involved in this case, Dr. Burke does have experience with modern forgeries and explains what’s at stake and what scholars study.
32 minutes | Mar 3, 2021
The Gospel of Matthew’s Problematic Prophecies
Robert J. Miller, New Testament scholar, discusses how it is possible for modern readers to do justice to ancient texts such as the Gospel of Matthew—at home in its own world—while still seeking valuable meaning in our twenty-first century world. Ancient prophecies did not intend to provide accurate predictions of the future but to provide hints about God’s presence in the world. Twenty-first century perspectives are clearer when we understand what prophecies meant in antiquity.
30 minutes | Feb 4, 2021
How the Odes of Solomon Enhance Jewish-Christian Dialogue
Samuel Zinner and Mark Mattison, translators of the Odes of Solomon, illustrate interrelated elements of Jewish and Christian thought throughout the odes. Some examples from Isaiah demonstrate new ways of thinking about the age-old debates. People often think the Odes are a praise to Jesus. But as Zinner points out, the odes are written to represent words of Jesus in praise to God, not the worship of Jesus.
35 minutes | Jan 6, 2021
Who Is Paul, and What Did He Really Write That’s in the Bible?
Dr. Nina Livesey, a scholar on Paul and his writings in the Bible, explains what scholars think Paul must have written and what he probably didn’t write. She agrees with recent scholarly consensus that these letters hold together with common theological perspectives, concepts, and vocabulary. But she pushes a bit farther, describing how Paul’s rhetoric is more intentionally strategic than people have thought. His letters also demonstrate his ethical implications for faith.
33 minutes | Dec 3, 2020
Is Practical Theology a Contradiction in Terms?
Shirley Paulson asks Dr. Stephen Pattison, her PhD supervisor, to discuss how Practical Theology works in our lives today when we read ancient texts. Stephen probes the relationships we establish with tradition, texts from another era, and interpretation. The point of religious faith is to engage meaningfully with the world and to become less frightened of difference. Healing work is about a bigger, better understanding of ourselves and the world.
29 minutes | Nov 4, 2020
Conservative Christian Finds Biblical Egalitarianism
Marg Mowczko, from an evangelical church in Australia, researches the topic of egalitarianism in the Bible. She holds both a deep faith in the Bible and the essentially equal nature of men and women. She spends many hours each day answering questions about women’s roles in the church. Her primary study is about what Paul and other New Testament writers say concerning Christian ministry and leadership. She concludes that the Bible supports the idea that men and women are essentially equal. Interview questions include a discussion on 1 Timothy and other troubling passages.
37 minutes | Sep 30, 2020
Jesus Learned from Women, Seriously!
Dr. James McGrath inverts the usual question about women learning from Jesus. The podcast interview highlights McGrath’s new book, in which he draws on both scholarly rigor and historical fiction to address gaps in historical knowledge. Strikingly, his examples of Jesus learning from women include some women with lower status, such as a poor widow and a girl accused of adultery. McGrath addresses both theological problems and social sensitivities related to the unusual claim for Jesus as a learner.
32 minutes | Sep 2, 2020
Extracanonical Texts through a Womanist Lens
Rev. Stephanie A. Duzant is a woman of color and ordained minister utilizing extracanonical texts to inspire congregations to better use the Bible. Her womanist lens allows her to recognize the ways many extracanonical texts challenge culturally-pervasive agendas, especially those involving race, gender, and the meaning of community. Sharing her insights with her listeners affords them an opportunity to understand Christianity in new ways.
31 minutes | Aug 6, 2020
Ancient Household Models Elucidate Philemon
Paul’s letter to his Roman colleague, Philemon, delicately balances Roman expectations for enslaved people, their masters, and the new egalitarian ideas in the Christ communities. Learning the lifestyle of ancient Rome in families and households, listeners are invited to imagine what Onesimus, Paul’s enslaved friend, must have felt when Paul’s letter was read aloud to his master, Philemon. The tension concerning the authority over a runaway slave is palpable, but not spoken.
32 minutes | Jul 1, 2020
Why You Should Read New Testament Apocrypha
Dr. Tony Burke, editor of the newly released second edition New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures, explains not only what is fascinating about these ancient texts but why he thinks churches and Christians would benefit by reading them. In this interview, he offers meaning to the very bizarre stories and why they help us understand the history and evolution of the Christian church. He also talks candidly about what they do and don’t do to our faith.
38 minutes | Jun 4, 2020
Odes of Solomon: Contemporary Musical Settings
In this second podcast in the series on the ‘Odes of Solomon,' Natalie Renee Perkins and Deborah Saxon chat together about Natalie’s contemporary musical setting of some of the odes. Deb, a scholar of ancient Christian texts, explains the feminine imagery, the reference to Sophia (Wisdom), and the purpose of ancient hymns used by both Jews and Christians before they diverged. Natalie, a professional singer, writer, and composer, plays some of her contemporary music settings of the Odes.
27 minutes | May 6, 2020
A New Translation of the Odes of Solomon
In this podcast, Samuel Zinner and Mark M. Mattison tell us why they’re so enthusiastic about their new translation of the first- or second-century Odes of Solomon. This collection of ancient songs, or hymns, are not only real monuments of literature, but they transcend the borders of religious orthodoxy. Written before the early Jesus movements distinguished themselves from Judaism, they are equally at home with Judaism, the Gospel of John, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. The divine Feminine is also featured.
31 minutes | Apr 1, 2020
How Jesus’s Followers Made Sense of His Death by Crucifixion
In this episode, Professor Arthur Dewey explains why Christians felt so differently about Jesus’s crucifixion long after the event than his immediate followers did. Jesus had taught the presence of God and how to live that, but the shock of his death caused re-thinking and re-evaluating of this shame-inducing passion experience for many decades and centuries. Jesus’s counter-cultural message brought hope to members of the Roman-occupied community, but his crucifixion strengthened their memory and faith.
31 minutes | Mar 4, 2020
Learning from Ancient Rome’s Rape Narrative
Dr. Celene Lillie discovered in some ancient texts a remarkable metaphor, a rape narrative that relates to both the imperial actions of ancient Rome and modern forms of destructive behavior. Three writers of the second century re-imagined the story of Eve in Genesis as a representation of the violation of Rome’s victims. Despite the violence, Eve overthrows victimization and becomes a healing Christ figure. Her children become saviors of the world.
30 minutes | Feb 5, 2020
Jesus in Q: Women Are as Valuable as Men
Dr. Sara Parks found gender parallels in the parables in Q that show Jesus’s deliberate valuing of women for God’s kingdom (‘basileia’). For example, a man who lost a sheep rejoices when it is found; a woman who lost a coin rejoices when it is found. The basileia is within – for both women and men. But Parks explains that Jesus’s egalitarian values did not automatically lead to a dismantling of patriarchal norms of the day.
30 minutes | Jan 1, 2020
What’s at Stake When Heresy Sells?
‘Heresy’ sells. Maybe it’s because it’s mysterious, dangerous, or entertaining. But the idea of ancient ‘Christian heresies’ is misleading. The tendency to make ideas ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ confuses the issues. Strong early Christian women, such as Mary Magdalene, Thecla, and Perpetua, posed a threat to the developing male hierarchy, but their words seem to be consistent with the words of the men. Heresy, then, is not a natural category; it is more about who the power brokers were.
32 minutes | Dec 4, 2019
Biblical Violence: Help or Harm?
Dr. Karri Whipple’s experience with intimate violence organizations guides her studies of violence and trauma in New Testament studies. She demonstrates how multiple readings from various Biblical and extracanonical texts help us process trauma. But readers should also take care to understand the context of the stories of gender and racial violence so that the examples do not become an excuse to perpetuate violence. Reading from a variety of perspectives also helps readers find many paths to the healing of trauma and pain.
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