Each of My Essays

Hi, friends. Since I recently wrote to say that I was taking an extended break from essaying on this site, several people have told me they would like an easier way to navigate from one post to another. This page includes a link to everything I’ve written. Also, I’ve included a short description below each link so you can know exactly what you’re getting into before investing your time in any one of these long and trying posts. I think this page will be useful.

Once again, thank you all for your readership.

The Bible That Borrows

Part 1

The Bible is a human invention, and that’s what makes it holy.

Part 2: The Babylonian Bible

Moses didn’t write the Pentateuch, but don’t freak out about that. It’s actually what makes the Bible so powerful.

Part 3: The Qumran Bible

Jesus and the Jews of his day didn’t read the Bible the way you and I do.

Part 4: The Pharisee Bible

You won’t read the Gospel accounts of Jesus the way their authors intended unless you understand (a) that Jesus was a Jewish Pharisee and (b) what it meant to be a Jewish Pharisee.

Part 5: The Greek Bible

If Plato never lived, we would have nothing like what we recognize as the “New Testament.” This is a long introduction to Judaism in the Greek Empire during centuries between the testaments when your Bible goes quiet.

Part 6: The Roman Bible

The Book of Revelation, written by John of Patmos, was a literary assault on the Roman Empire—just as the Torah was a literary assault on the Babylonian Empire.

Part 7: The Inspired Bible

If the Bible is “inspired by God”, does that mean the Bible is “inerrant”?

Part 8: Global Superpower Bible

What do we do today with this ancient library of borrowed subversive literature?

“But, Chris, The Bible Isn’t Political”

Part 1

As I introduce this series, I use my imagination to tell the story of a shepherd who survives the Jewish-Roman War and hears the Gospel of Mark.

Part 2

When the early church said “Jesus is Lord,” the message they heard was “and Caesar is not.”

Part 3

“We are Legion.” To understand the story of that naked demon-possessed man who lived among the tombs, learn to read Bible history like Shakespeare history.

Part 4

When the Gospel writers tell you about that sign Pontius Pilate had nailed on the cross above Jesus, there is a whole lot going on below the surface.

Part 5

God’s anger isn’t what you imagine, and Jesus edited the Bible to prove it.

Part 6

What the Hell is Armageddon?

Part 7

When we say Jesus is king over all, we don’t get to exclude the economic and political decisions we make collectively from his rule. Jesus’s teachings apply not just to individuals, but also to the nations—and especially the nations.

Part 8

God celebrates the flourishing and diversity of the earth and human culture, and Jesus got baptized to prove it.

Part 9

The Big Government welfare system of Judaism. (scary)

Part 10

The story of Ruth is not simply a nice story about a nice woman for nice women’s Bible studies about being nice. It is a subversive and rebellious story about how powerful nations must treat illegal immigrants if they want to inherit what Jesus and the prophets will later call the “kingdom of God.”

Part 11

The Gospel writers used Jesus’s three temptations in the wilderness to artistically foreshadow Jesus defeating the iron triangle of Herod Antipas, Joseph Caiaphas, and Pontius Pilate. The American Christian experience mostly replicates the same iron triangle that Jesus overcame two thousand years ago.

Part 12

How to defeat empires: Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.

God Loves and Accepts the LGBT

Part 1

Waves.

Part 2

Creation stories.

Part 3

Judaism and its moves.

Part 4

The church’s authority to bind and loose.

Part 5

What did Paul have in mind?

Part 6

The rule-breaking and mysteriously growing table of the Lord.

Other Essays

About That Time Noah Got Drunk and Naked and Started Cursing People

If you read the Bible and come away thinking that God occasionally seems a bit cranky and genocidal, you need to rethink how you read the Bible and try it again.

How to Cook a Passover Lamb Without Ruining the Bible

Why it’s impossible to know how to cook a Passover lamb if all you have is the text of the Bible.

Why Isn’t the Old Testament Written In Egyptian?

The Bible says that the Hebrews left Egypt after being enslaved there for more than four centuries, so the fact that the Bible isn’t written in Egyptian should tell us a lot about when and why the Bible was written.

Sexy Solomon

And introduction to passion, as told from the poems of one of the most awful men in the Bible.

The War Horse of Pilate; The Peace Donkey of Jesus Christ

While Alexander the Great was conquering the world on his famous war horse, the Hebrew prophet Zechariah predicted that God’s eternal king would instead come to rule the world on a donkey. Centuries later, while Pilate was entering Jerusalem from the west at the head of an army of six hundred war horses and tens of thousands of foot soldiers, Jesus—the Prince of Peace—entered Jerusalem from the east on a colt donkey.

When God Moons Us

Why monotheism is the greatest idea in the history of the world. And some Hebrew butt humor.

Jesus Probably* Wasn’t Pro-Life**

We know for a fact that the Jews of Jesus’s day didn’t believe life began at conception. The Gospel writers weren’t shy about recording Jesus’s disagreements with the Jewish authorities, and the fact that none of them record a disagreement here is, well, telling.

Reading the Bible With Caesar

If you want to read the Bible the way its writers intended, ask Caesar how he would like you to read it. And then do the opposite.

Hagar, Prophetess to Trump’s America

The true worship song of the American evangelical Christian experience is “Make America Like Babylon Again.”

Stop Calling Judaism Legalistic

Modern Christians almost uniformly slander Judaism as legalistic and stuck in tradition. But this great religious tradition is anything but that. It is audaciously innovative.