The Sensory and Slow Expression of Worship (Leviticus)

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Not too long ago, I read through the book of Leviticus. We don’t usually run to Leviticus as a place for spiritual nourishment. I suppose we could summarize it as a book of sacrifice and strange laws. At least they’re strange laws for us today.

We may recall the Day of Atonement, which is told of in ch.16. Yet there is still so much about linen undergarments, bulls, goats, blood and bathing in that chapter alone that we may still find it difficult to connect with.

Leviticus is demanding. It demands our full attention to the details to understand what’s going on. And it’s those demanding details flowing out of an ancient culture that seem to bog us down. Continue reading

Exodus: Gods and Kings (Trailer)

Exodus-Gods-and-Kings-Poster-Bale-691x1024You might not have been aware but, at the beginning of 2014, some labeled this year as “the year of the Bible” in regards to film releases. Religion News columnist, Jonathan Merritt, posted an interesting article on this very topic back in January.

There were to be 5 film releases in 2014 that connect to the storyline of the Bible. It’s interesting how the Bible’s narrative keeps popping up these days in films, whether done for good, bad or indifferent. I’m not convinced it’s due to some religious resurgence abounding in America. Something else typically controls the Hollywood scene – whatever will make a buck. Remember what they did to promote the Man of Steel film amongst churches? Still, I’m happy that, through these releases, interest could be piqued about Noah or Exodus or even Christ himself.

Anyways, those 5 “Bible” films of 2014 are: Continue reading

The Garden of Eden in Ancient Context

9780310255727Over at Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed blog, regular contributor, RJS, recently posted about what looks to be an interesting book – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy (Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary).

The point of RJS’s post, and referencing the book, is to note the parallel nature between the early Genesis accounts in Christian Scripture and that of other accounts that existed within the ancient near eastern context.

Sounds boring to some, but for me, it’s fascinating.

Why? Continue reading

Bible Mini-Series Positives

the-bibleLast night, the History Channel aired their Bible mini-series. It’s a 10-part series over 5 weeks giving an artistic display of the biblical narrative from Genesis to Revelation. I didn’t get to watch it, since I live in Belgium and it was airing at 2.00am Central European Time. Maybe I’ll catch it online or when I visit the US in a few week’s time.

But I did see that Old Testament scholar, Peter Enns, shared some thoughts following the airing of the first 2-hour segment.

Enns shares how he, and we, can sometimes cringe at the embellishment of the biblical narrative – as we bring in our own imaginative efforts or we try and smooth over some of the difficult accounts told in holy scripture. And while Enns noted some of the negatives of the Bible mini-series, he also shared his appreciation for the overall projection of the biblical narrative, mainly that the series presents ‘an interconnected grand story rather than a series of disconnected “Bible stories.”’

These are some of Enns’ specific words, noting the positive, but intermingled with some constructive criticism: Continue reading

Jephthah Sacrificed His Daughter?

jephthah_daughterHow many of us know there are just a few difficult passages in the Scripture to comprehend, especially in the Old Testament? One complicated account is found in Judges 11:29-40.

When going out to battle against the Ammonites, Jephthah made a vow saying:

If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering. (vs30-31).

And we find the fulfilment only a few verses later:

After the two months, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin. (vs39)

At first read, it seems that Jephthah sacrificed his own daughter. But we also know from Scripture that human sacrifice was an abomination (Lev 18:21; 20:2-5: Deut 12:31; 18:10). What is going on here? Continue reading