“I believe that the scriptural Bible and the academic Bible are fundamentally different creations oriented toward rival interpretive communities. Though in some ways homologous, they can and should function independently if each is to retain its integrity. While it is true that the scriptural reader and the academic interpreter can offer information and insights that the other finds useful or interesting, they remain, in the end, loyal to separate authorities. I grant the moral seriousness of the modern critical project and, to a modest degree, the social and political utility of the academic Bible. I also grant the intellectual value of academic criticism. A rational, irenic study of the Bible supported by state resources and disciplined by academic standards cultivated across a range of fields has produced, in a relatively short time, an astonishing amount of useful information. It has become dear, though, that academic criticism in its contemporary form cannot offer a coherent, intellectually compelling account of what this information is actually for. What critics like Collins have done as a result is to shift the rationale for modern criticism away from the intellectual and back toward the social and moral. There is value in the social and moral by-products of academic criticism, in things like tolerance, reasonableness, and self-awareness. The problem is that these rather thin, pale virtues seem only thinner and paler when compared to the classic virtues associated with the scriptural Bible: instead of bland tolerance, love that sacrifices self; instead of an agreeable reasonability, hope that opens the mind to goodness and greatness that it has not yet fully imagined; and instead of critical self-awareness, faith that inspires and animates the human heart. Academic criticism tempers belief, while scriptural reading edifies and directs it. In this sense, they work at cross-purposes. Yet each mode presumes the value of knowledge. Perhaps the two are closest, then, when in that brief moment before thought recognizes itself, the mind wavers between words that have suddenly become strange, and knowledge is a choice between knowing what the text said and knowing what the words might be saying. It is a choice, at such a moment, between the letter that has been revived and the letter that never died.”
Michael C. Legaspi, The Death of Scripture and the Rise of Biblical Studies (Oxford Studies in Historical Theology; Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 169.
This is the video (26:21, 92.7 MB) of a sermon preached for First Presbyterian Church of Mount Holly, NJ, on April 26. The sermon is titled, “I Have Been a Sanctuary,” and the main text is Ezekiel 11:14–25.
This is the audio (38:34, 25.0 MB) of a sermon preached at our Lithuania home church, Klaipėda Free Christian Church, on March 29. The sermon is titled, “God Draws Near,” and the main texts are Numbers 5:1-4 and 9:1-14.
I’m pleased to announce the publication of a handbook chapter that I’ve coauthored with Jon P. Radwan of Seton Hall University:
“Meaningful Work and Human Flourishing: Communication Lessons from the Judeo-Christian Tradition.” Pages 1–26 in Palgrave Handbook for Workplace Wellbeing, edited by Satinder K. Dhiman. Palgrave Macmillan, 2020. Published online: 10 January 2020. doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-02470-3_18-1.
This is the audio (14:59, 20.5 MB) of a sermon preached at LCC’s International Christian Fellowship entitled, “The Book of Esther,” at our Sunday evening communion service on February 9. We read the entire book of Esther in a traditional way, with lots of cheering, booing, groggers, and stomping.
Just about every December for the last few years, I have looked back over the paucity of blog activity in the calendar year, made some sort of apology to my audience (however wide or narrow it–or you–may be), and reflected on how very blessed I am as a professor to have so many outlets for creativity and thoughtful engagement. This year, nearly every post pertained to a sermon, a talk, or an academic publication. The one that did not–besides this one–hearkened back to earlier days when I would often share quotations from books that I was reading which were stimulating but too far above my level of full comprehension. (I’m much too busy and too prideful to do that, now–what would my students think if they realized I don’t understand everything I read?!)
This is the audio (37:44, 51.2 MB) of a sermon preached at our Lithuania home church, Klaipėda Free Christian Church, on December 8. The sermon is titled, “Aukštas Bokštas,” and the main text is Genesis 11:1–9, the story of the Tower of Babylon.
This is the audio (20:32, 28.2 MB) of a sermon preached at LCC’s Wednesday chapel service entitled, “YHWH’s Glorious Images,” on November 13. The main text is Exodus 20:1-21. Continue reading
Here is the audio (47:40, 34 MB) of a presentation I gave on September 17 at the first Theology Department Seminar, “Hebrew Verbs and Minor Keys: How a Hebrew Poetry Seminar Changed My Bass-Playing.” Continue reading