Why Jesus Went Back to Galilee

Why did Jesus go back to preach in Galilee? The question may seem a silly one. After all, he was a native of Nazareth in Galilee, and it was natural that he should preach to his own people. The prophet Amos, however, came from Tekoa (Amos 1:1), a village that differed little from […]

Did the Synagogue Replace the Temple?

In 0 C.E. Roman legions destroyed the Jerusalem Temple, Judaism’s holiest structure and the “dwelling place of God’s name.” Despite this loss, Judaism was to survive and prosper. In the following centuries, the synagogue itself came to be seen as a “holy place.” Does this mean, as some people suppose, that the synagogue as […]

How Jesus Saw Himself

The quest for the historical Jesus began as a protest against traditional Christian dogma. But when the supposedly “neutral” historians peered into the well, all they saw was a featureless Jesus. Even when these scholars decided that everybody else—John the Baptist, the evangelists, Paul, the Q peoplea and so on—was at home in a […]

7 vs 8
The battle over the holy day at Dura-Europos By Stephen Goranson

When the remote Roman fortress of Dura-Europos, overlooking the Euphrates, came under attack in the mid-third century C.E., the residents hastily fortified the city’s vulnerable western wall. They piled up a massive dry-fill buttress that covered the numerous buildings directly inside the wall, including a house-church and a synagogue. But their desperate efforts were […]

The Contemporary English Version: inaccurate translation tries to soften Anti-Judaic sentiment

Many BR readers will by now have a copy of the Contemporary English Version of the Bible (CEV), published last year by the American Bible Society. They may even be using it for teaching or preaching. It is being actively sponsored by the American Interfaith Institute and is recommended by the chairman of the […]

Saul as Sacrifice
The tragedy of Israel’s first monarch By L. Daniel Hawk

Few figures in biblical literature provoke as many questions as King Saul. Was he a man of noble aspirations brought down by some tragic flaw (impulsiveness, ineptitude, irresolution?) or an arrogant tyrant infatuated with power? Was he a pitiable pantywaist, easily swayed by the dictates of others, or a hero, dignified by his struggle […]

Who Returned First—Ezra or Nehemiah?

Forty-seven years after the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 586 B.C.E. and deported many of the people to exile in Babylon, Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, who had conquered the Babylonians and ruled most of the then-known world, allowed the Jews to return to their ancient homeland. They returned in waves. […]

Bible Hype
The saga of the Yonan Codex By Bruce M. Metzger

A friend recently sent me an ad that had been prominently displayed in the April 7th issue of the New York Times Book Review. It proclaimed that the book Eyewitness to Jesus: Amazing New Manuscript Evidence About the Origin of the Gospels (New York: Doubleday, 1996) held “material proof…of a discovery that rivals […]

P—Understanding the Priestly Source

Reading an introduction to biblical criticism, a beginning student might well think he or she is peering into a bowl of alphabet soup—or perhaps perusing a catalogue of foundations and corporations. Letters are all over the place, especially J, E, P, D, H and R. Occasionally there is even a K, L, N, Q […]

The Son of Man
Who was he? By Bruce Chilton

Who is the “son of man”? And who is the “one like a son of man”? And who is “the Son of Man” (in capital letters)? What’s the difference in meaning from one phrase to the other? And how do these terms apply to Jesus? Until quite recently, it was widely agreed that the […]

CEV’s chief translator: we were faithful to the intention of the text

Our intent in the CEV translation was a faithful rendering of the intent of the Greek text. Nothing more, nothing less. As with the inclusive gender language in the CEV, concerns over Jewish sensitivities were a by-product of our work, not our motivation. I am thoroughly convinced that it was never the intention of […]

Torah Before Sinai
The do’s and don’ts before the Ten Commandments By Gary A. Anderson

The Law was given at Sinai. But what was the situation before Sinai? Was there no law then? Were the patriarchs free to do what they pleased, free from the constraints of law? More than 2,000 years ago, perhaps just as the ink used to write the Torah was drying, the first interpreters of […]

Big theme, little book By Adele Berlin

In different Bibles, the Book of Ruth is put in different places. In Christian Bibles it is slipped in between Judges and Samuel, among the historical books. In the Hebrew Bible it’s in an entirely different place, in the third section, known as the Writings. It does not seem to fit neatly into the […]

Jesus as Pop Icon
The unknown religious art of Andy Warhol By Jane Daggett Dillenberger

On April 1, 1987, over 2,000 denizens of the art, rock and film worlds, the international jet set, and a throng of anonymous New Yorkers climbed the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral to attend memorial services for Andy Warhol, the “Pope of Pop,” whose Campbell’s Soup cans became more real than those on our […]

Giving Eve’s Daughters Their Due

30 Great Women of the Bible in Art and Literature by Dorothée Sölle, Joe H. Kirchberger and Herbert Haag (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994), 295 pp., $75.00 “Great! Women of the Bible in Art and Literature” is my emended reading of this title. There are 25 of them here, beginning with Eve and her […]

The Geography of Faith
Tracing the Via Dolorosa By Jerome Murphy-O’Connor

The Latin words Via Dolorosa mean the “Sorrowful Way.” They were first used by the Franciscan Boniface of Ragusa in the second half of the 16th century as the name of the devotional walk through the streets of Jerusalem that retraced the route followed by Jesus as he carried his cross to Golgotha. It […]

Has Every Book of the Bible Been Found Among the Dead Sea Scrolls?

It is a commonplace that every book of the Hebrew Bible except Esther has been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Actually, this is true only if you count Ezra-Nehemiah as one book—as, indeed, it is so regarded in Jewish tradition—since only a fragment of Ezra, but not Nehemiah, has been identified. But […]

Why Christians Must Search for the Historical Jesus

Luke Timothy Johnson’s recent article in BR and the book on which it is based raise a question of profound importance for Christian faith and theology. The question is immediately clear from their titles. The book is called The Real Jesus and subtitled The Misguided Quest for the Historical Jesus and the Truth […]

Deuteronomy’s Theological Revolution

King Josiah of Judah instituted a religious reform in 622 B.C.E. that scholars refer to simply as Josiah’s Reform. It might well be called the Deuteronomic Reform. Israelite religion would never be the same.

Michelangelo’s Masterpiece Reclaimed

The Sistine Chapel: A Glorious Restoration ed. by Pierluigi De Vecchi (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1994), 271 pp., 312 illus., $75.00 Spanning a void, two index fingers stretch toward each other, not yet touching, yet implying in the space between them God’s creative power. Incontestably the most famous image in Christian art, Michelangelo’s […]

The Eschatological Jesus
Did he believe the end was near? By Dale C. Allison Jr.

Albert Schweitzer, after reviewing the 19th century’s quest for the historical Jesus, believed that honest scholars must choose between two alternatives, between what he called thoroughgoing eschatologya and thoroughgoing skepticism. By this he meant that either Jesus lived in the same imaginative world as early Jewish apocalypses,b like 1 Enoch and 2 Baruch, or […]


Paul, Christian Community and the Jews
As a 14-year-old boy in Nazi Germany, I had to choose a verse from the Bible for my confirmation. My choice was Romans 1:16. By Helmut Koester
Lex Talionis and the Rabbis
The Talmud reflects an uneasy rabbinic conscience toward the ancient law of talion, “eye for eye, tooth for tooth.” By Jacob Milgrom
When God Repents
God’s repentance is not only an expression of divine freedom, but also of divine compassion. By Bernhard W. Anderson
The Son of David and King of the Jews
The Romans knew quite well why they condemned Jesus: Because of the claim to the kingship of Israel. By Helmut Koester
Retrieving the World of Ancient Judaism
For the historian of religion, the closing of the canon was an unmitigated disaster, leading to the loss of a rich literature. By John J. Collins
Glimpses of Mary
Although the Gospels appear to give scant attention to Mary, they tell us more than we imagine. By Beverly R. Gaventa
A Husband’s Pride, A Mob’s Prejudice
The public ordeal undergone by a suspected adulteress in Numbers 5 was meant not to humiliate her but to protect her. By Jacob Milgrom
The Persistence of Chaos in God’s Creation
Order and chaos belong together in God’s creation, but potential chaos of another kind was introduced when God created human beings endowed with freedom. By Bernhard W. Anderson
The Water Libation in the Festival of Booths
Nonbiblical rites, though originating in popular worship and rooted in magical practice, were ultimately assimilated into Israel’s official monotheism. By Jacob Milgrom
The Fundamentals of Fundamentalism
Americans appear to want definitive answers, and the claim of infallibility—either for the pope or for the Bible—seems to suit that need. By Bruce Chilton
The Second Coming Demythologized
If we who have committed ourselves to Jesus expect that we will be judged worthy of the kingdom, we will be in for a big surprise. By Helmut Koester
Reading an Ancient Book in a Modern World
Approaching the Bible as an ancient book may explain aspects of the story that trouble us today, but this method fails to deal with the Bible as the bearer of God’s revelation. By Bernhard W. Anderson