Bible Matters

The Bible and Postmodernity

Does the Bible matter in the age of “postmodernity”?

What does it mean to say the Bible is the “Word of God” – especially when the Bible never calls itself “the Word of God”?

What, if any, is the relationship between science and religion?

Genesis

Genesis in 8.5 minutes!

Exodus

What is true freedom?

What happens when one’s freedom comes at the expense of another’s freedom?

What is the relationship between freedom and responsibility?

How might you identify with the Egyptians? With the Hebrews? With God?

Leviticus

Do you agree that Leviticus challenges the human understanding of violence?

Numbers: The Bible, Identity and Violence

Do you agree that Numbers critiques our violent tendencies?

Or, does Numbers encourage us to be violent?

What are your thoughts?

Deuteronomy: The Law of Desire

The 10 Commandments and the law of desire.

Joshua: Biblical Violence Exposed

Adam explores how the Bible critiques human violence. Do you agree? The best critique Joshua gives is in 5:13-14. Joshua asks the commander of the army of the Lord, “Are you for us or for our enemies.” The commander responds: “Neither.”

Also see:

Joshua 2 – the story of Rahab.

Joshua 6:21 – The destruction of Jericho

Joshua 17:13 – Israel forces Canaanites into labor.

Joshua 22:10-25 – Potential civil war diverted

Matthew 26:52: – for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.

Judges and the Oppressed

If God is on the side of the victims of culture, what happens when the oppressed become the oppressors?

First Samuel: The Ark of Truth

Is God/truth something that we possess? Is God/truth something that might possess us? What difference does that make?

First Kings: A Train Wreck and Two Prostitutes

Adam discusses First Kings, rivalry, violence, prostitutes, and the answer.

Second Kings: Elisha, Bears, and Atheists

Exploring God, Elisha, young men, bears, and atheism.

First Chronicles: The Violence of Humans and the Peace of God

First Chronicles retells the story of the foundation of Israel. Adam Ericksen and the Raven Foundation want to look a little closer at the story of David. David was a warrior king because of the warring nature of King David God will not allow for David to be the one to construct the temple in Jerusalem. A prophet is sent to David to inform him that he will not be the one to construct it but his son Solomon will. The reason why David will not be the one to construct the temple is due to his warring nature and the amount of blood that he has shed. Since to God the most sacred thing is human life and blood.

Second Chronicles: Back to Egypt

Second Chronicles tells of the fall of the combined monarchy of Israel. Starting with the reign of King Solomon, God comes to Solomon and tells him that he can have anything that he wanted. Solomon chooses to receive wisdom which greatly pleases God. During the reign of Solomon we see Israel and Jerusalem become very similar to Egypt prior to the Exodus. Second Chronicles tells the self-critical story of how Israel mirrored the oppressive ways of Egypt.

Ezra: It’s Complicated

Adam Ericksen discusses the book of Ezra. Ezra describes the return of the Jewish people from the Babylonian Empire back to Jerusalem. Cyrus the king of Persia allows for the return of the Jews to their homeland. In this book God works with those who are not a part of the Jewish faith to help to restore hope. The book of Ezra has two major events that describe what happens with those who are victimized and set free. The leader of the Persian empire Cyrus sets free and restores the victims within the ancient Israelite faith to their rightful place. The other is that once the people are restored to their rightful place, there is a painful act of exclusion. Is God part of the exclusion? Or does God seek reconciliation?

Nehemiah: God Comforts, Scapegoating, and Immigration

Adam Ericksen explores the book of Nehemiah. In it we see God’s ability to comfort the world and the way in which scapegoating is addressed in the Bible. Through Nehemiah, God is able to comfort the Persian emperor through his work in the palace as the emperor’s cup bearer. This means that he is to be present at meals and must try all of the emperor’s food and drink before he does to make sure that it isn’t poisoned. Nehemiah asks the king to be able to assist in the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Nehemiah was in charge of the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem. As the rebuilding continues conflict grows. How will it be resolved?

Esther: Sex, Rivalry, and God

Esther explores issues of power, sex, and rivalry. King Xerxes and his wife Vashti fall into a mimetic power struggle at the beginning of the book. The king looks for a new wife and finds Esther. Esther’s uncle, a good Jew named Mordecai, refuses to bow down to the king’s general, Hammon. The more Mordecai refuses, the more Hammon demands he bow down. Hammon, infuriated, wants to kill all of the Jews. Hammon wants to “kill, annihilate, and destroy” the Jews. But Mordecai and Esther gain favor with the king. In a mimetic desire for violence, they then want to “kill, annihilate, and destroy” their enemies. Watch to discover how it will all be resolved!

Job: God, Accusations, and Innocence

Job challenges much of the wisdom in the Bible that claims good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people. For example, see Deuteronomy 6:18, Psalm 1, and Proverbs 3. For a book similar to Job, see Ecclesiastes. Job claims his innocence, while his friends unite in accusation against him. In the end, God sides with Job, the victim. Here we see the evolution in the human understanding of God. God is not with the crowd that unites in accusation against a common enemy; rather, God is on the side of the victim. This is seen ultimately in life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

For more, see Rene Girard’s book, “Job: The Victim of His People.

The Psalms: Violence, Revenge, and Transformation

Why are we so uncomfortable with violent passages of the Psalms? They make us confront our own ugly desires for revenge. But the Psalms also allow us to see that the Judeo-Christian God stands with the victims of culture. As the Bible continues, we see that God stands with the victims, not in order to create more victims, but to heal broken relationships in the spirit of love and forgiveness.

Proverbs: Wicked Wisdom and Economic Justice

The wisdom of Proverbs comes down to two choices: wickedness and violence or generosity and justice. Wicked actions will only bring our own demise. As Jesus says, those who live by the sword die by the sword. We will always follow in the footsteps of other. Who will you follow?

Ecclesiastes: Chasing the Wind

Ecclesiastes claim life is meaningless. Why? Because we are constantly comparing ourselves with others. The author compares himself to others when he claims to have had more possessions “than any who had been before me in Jerusalem.” (2:7) To make his point comparing ourselves with others, he repeats himself “I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem.” He realized that all this “was vanity and a chasing after the wind.”

Yet, Ecclesiastes insists we can find joy in life. We can do so when we release our grasp on finding meaning in comparing ourselves with others and seek to love others as we love ourselves.

For the section on love, see W. Sibley Towners commentary on Ecclesiastes 9:9-10. “The point here is … the importance of the ability to love amid the feeting absurdity of life.”

Song of Solomon: Why God is Like a Teenage Girl

The Song of Solomon, aka, the Song of Songs, seeks to repair the brokenness that happens in the Garden of Eden. The book also compares the love of God to the love of a teenage girl.