"I hear moral demands in scripture. I take the imperatives with dead seriousness. I am a common man listening to the Word of God. I’m sure Dr. Forde means to make no case for antinomianism. But the Lutheran notion of sanctification as no more than “getting used to justification” looks to this Pentecostal like a clear steer down that road."

Russell P. Spittler, “A Pentecostal Response to the Lutheran View,” in Christian Spirituality: Five Views, ed. Donald L. Alexander (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1988), 43.

SHOTS FIRED

So back during my freshman year when we were getting ready for my grandmother’s funeral, the minister from my grandparents’ church told me that when he’s asked to do a Christian’s funeral, the first thing he asks the family is if he can have access to the deceased’s Bible. He talked about how you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their Bible. The wearing of the pages in certain areas shows you what sections of the text they gravitated towards, marked pages show important passages, and notes are like snapshots in time for the person. A lot of people (my grandmother included) keep little important things between the pages of their Bibles. In retrospect I think it was a really good piece of pastoral advice and I encourage folks going into pastoral ministry to tuck it away in the back of their heads.

But that is not exactly what I’ve been thinking about today.

I’m a seminary student who also did biblical studies for my undergrad; I have a lot of different Bibles around my apartment. Depending on which Bible a minister picked up to “get inside my head” for my funeral, they’d get a different picture of me.

For instance, if someone picked up the NKJV I used during high school, the only worn pages are the ones with Gustave Doré prints on them. I wasn’t real into my Bible in high school, but I was REALLY into Gustave Doré (and still am).

If you picked up the ESV that I bought my freshman year of college, you’d find a weird mish-mash of Pop Calvinism and anti-Pop Calvinism written in the margins. I used that Bible during the six months that I considered myself a “Calvinist” (which honestly just meant I had a pseudo-Calvinistic soteriology and didn’t believe in free will) as well as for the year and a half I spent getting my feet wet with the New Perspective on Paul. Interestingly enough I also used that Bible when I started studying biblical languages so you’d find words and even sentences scratched out with my own translations in the margin. It was also during that time that I picked up the habit of scratching out every use of “James” in the New Testament and replacing them with “Jacob.”

Next, if you picked up my NRSV with Apocrypha, which has been my work-horse Bible for school during the last four years, you’d find a lot of text criticism stuff. I don’t retranslate as much (because I generally agree with the NRSV translation), you can definitely find where I really got into redaction criticism. I have a lot of class notes on those pages.

Finally, if you pick up the Bible I use for “personal reading” (which is also an NRSV) you won’t find a ton of notes. I don’t write in it as much as I read it. In the Psalms you find where I marked the Psalms for Lauds before I got my Shorter Christian Prayer last week.

All-in-all, I have weird things in my Bibles. If I die soon, tell the minister at my funeral to check ALL of them.

"Christianity is very old and very slow, and it takes a while for us to recognize alternatives that are upbuilding."
— Stanley Hauerwas
"

The cry “let us know him” must have come as a shock to the Levite, who had bypassed Jebus in order to come “home” to Israelite Gibeah. Instead, he now realizes, he has come to Sodom. “Know”? The term suggests carnal knowledge. The word “sodomy” has come to mean homosexuality because the men of Sodom want to “know” their visitors. But there is really no homosexuality or any other kind of sexuality either in the Sodom story or here. Rape is not a sexual act. It is an act of hostility and aggression, not sexual interest. “Let us know him” may indeed mean carnal knowledge, but the proposed rape of the traveler is like the rape of newcomers in jail. The purpose of such a rape is neither enjoyment nor love; it is the assertion of dominance and the dishonoring of the man man forced to submit.

Sexuality is often tied to power. Rape is violently attached to power, and male rape no less so. Of course, “to know” may not refer to carnal knowledge, and the men may mean that they want to “know what this man is made of.” They may want to assault him, to rough him up without raping him. Whether or not the “knowledge” will be carnal, the purpose of it is to emasculate the traveler, strip him of his pride and his honor, and render him submissive and nonthreatening. The townsmen aren’t interested in the old man’s offer. They have no need to humiliate him or show him who is boss; after all, the text tells us four times, he is old. But when they get their hands on the traveler’s concubine, and “know her” sexually, they will assert their “superiority” over the man, too. Controlling women is a mark of manhood in patriarchal societies; failure to protect others from violating her emasculates the man.

"

Tikva Frymer-Kensky, Reading the Women of the Bible (New York: Schocken Books, 2002),124.

The above quote is primarily in reference to the narrative of the rape of the Levite’s concubine (or pilegesh "lesser-wife") found in Judges 19:22-26.

David Barton may be the least credible “historian” in the public sphere today. I cannot believe that people take this guy seriously. Like, you can’t make claims like this if you have had any formal education in Church history. Hell, a person with access to a Google search can disprove this nonsense. 

"I accept, therefore, Theissen’s proposal and Stegemann’s emphasis that the kingdom-of-God movement began by making “an ethical virtue out of social necessity” - that is, by refusing to accept the injustice they were experiencing as normal and acceptable to God. Those first itinerants were, like Jesus himself, primarily dispossessed peasant freeholders, tenants, or sharecroppers. They were not invited to give up everything but to accept their loss f everything as judging not them but the system that had done it to them. It was ethical to accept the abandonment of such a system and no longer to participate in its exploitative normalcy."
— John Dominic Crossan, “The Birth of Christianity: Discovering What Happened in the Years Immediately After the Execution of Jesus” (New York: HarperCollins, 1998), 281-2.

Get in on the fun and learn about some women and men from Church history during Lent!

Wonderful guest post over at Gravity Center by my Church History Professor, Kelly Pigott.

"We must always begin by asking: What texts are you using to understand the birth of Christianity, and why those rather than some others?"
— John Dominic Crossan, The Birth of Christianity: Discovering What Happened in the Years Immediately After the Execution of Jesus (New York: HarperCollins, 1998),143.

My wonderful Old Testament professor wrote this on her blog a bit back and I wanted to share it with you all! 

Enjoy her illustrations.