A few months ago, a friend introduced me to the work of the Jewish scholar, Rabbi David Fohrman. Reading his work and watching many of his videos on his AlephBeta site have been immensely rewarding for me in my understanding of Scripture. Rabbi Fohrman is a very skilled reader of the biblical text, noticing a great many things that other scholars miss.
In "Understanding Pharoah's Dream", he discusses the symbolic significance of Pharaoh’s dream, how Joseph may have been able rightly to interpret it, and how it shed light on the meaning of Joseph’s own life. This video will give you a taste of Rabbi Fohrman’s work, and a glimpse into the way that many biblical narratives harbor richer treasures than our typical forms of reading can discover.
It’s almost February, which means that ambitious Bible readers across the world are turning the final pages of Exodus and encountering the first great stone of stumbling in their yearly reading plan: Leviticus.
Is there any way to read this book of laws and regulations with profit or delight, especially when it feels so arbitrary and even offensive to our modern sensibilities? Before answering that, consider that Leviticus is one of the most frequently quoted books in the New Testament. The more you understand Leviticus, the clearer you will see what Jesus came to accomplish.
Check out The Bible Project’s illuminating visual explanation of the Levitical sacrificial system. They also have a helpful visual outline of the book to help your reading seem a bit less random. For a deeper dive, listen to Old Testament scholar Jay Sklar explain the cultural and literary context of Leviticus, as well as how the laws given within it express the gracious character of the God fully and finally revealed to us in Jesus Christ.
Tomorrow marks the first Sunday of Advent, the day when many churches begin what is popularly understood of as a "countdown to Christmas" with candles representing Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. Given the focus on the first coming of Christ at Christmas, it might come as a surprise to realize that the original meaning of the Advent season focused more his second coming. It's a season of repentance where we're invited to prepare for Christmas in full acknowledgment that Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead.
Because of this, John the Baptist is a recurring figure in the traditional scripture readings for Advent. While we're busy opening the doors of our advent calendars, John is dressed in camel's hair down by the Jordan River preaching about the judgment to come. And this is good news, chilling as it is. As Fleming Rutledge explains, "It has occurred to me that the image of Jesus as the cosmic Judge who will ultimately come again to put an end to all sin and wickedness forever is not so frightening to the poor and oppressed of the earth as it is to those who have a lot to lose."
Read "John the Baptist Points to the Real Hope of Advent" at Christianity Today. If you're looking for some guided readings to take you through this Advent and beyond, check out Seasons: Enter the Story of Jesus Christ, a free resource from The Village Church.
The term “social justice” seems to have entered everyone’s vocabulary. Perhaps you’re familiar with (or even exhausted by) the many fiery arguments flying back and forth about what social justice actually means or whether it’s even a term worth using.
As the debates rage on, it’s worth considering what the Bible has to say about justice. What is justice? Who gets to say what justice is and is not? This evocative video from The Bible Project provides a good starting place for understanding the central place that justice plays in the biblical narrative and how followers of Jesus should live in light of it.
It’s often said that the book of Ecclesiastes is the Bible’s biggest downer, a lengthy treatment of the bleakness of life without God. This isn't quite right. At the heart of Ecclesiastes, says author David Gibson, is not the voice of an agnostic or a pessimist, but a wise person who has grasped a most liberating truth: “The world cannot be leveraged to suit me, and life is meant to be enjoyed not mastered.”
In his book Living Life Backward, Gibson follows the author of Ecclesiastes in setting out to burst our bubbles of control with the uncontrollable fact that we will die someday. Living in light of this limitation is the key to wisdom and has the power to "change us from people who want to control life for gain into people who find deep joy in receiving life as a gift.”
The exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt is one of the most important events in the Bible, but the whole Bible is a book of many exoduses hiding in plain sight. To see this, we must approach the Bible more like a great piece of music than an instruction manual.
In this stimulating lecture, Alastair Roberts presents "a musical reading of scripture" with the exodus as the Bible's primary musical theme, often subtly stated but many times bold and unmissable. This talk will help open your ears and imagination to the rich, beautiful, and unexpected harmonies of the Bible. It will also give you a greater appreciation for the work of Jesus Christ, whose life, death, and resurrection is the most glorious crescendo of scripture's music and the greatest exodus of all—both for him and for all who trust in him.
The British radio show Unbelievable? has a tried and true premise: get a believer (usually a Christian) and a nonbeliever into the same room and have them talk about something they each know a great deal about. Sometimes the result is an impassioned debate, but sometimes it’s just a darn good discussion.
This episode is the latter. It puts together two first-class historians — atheist Tom Holland and renowned theologian Tom Wright — to talk about the Apostle Paul and his world. It is anything but boring.
Listen to Wright and Holland discuss how the news of a crucified and risen Jesus would've exploded all notions of how power works in the Roman world. For two more highlights, zoom to Wright’s description of how Paul’s vision of Jesus on the Damascus road forever changed the way he read the Bible, or Holland’s passionate explanation of how Paul’s letters are “the most influential, impactful, and revolutionary writings to emerge from the ancient world.”