Tag: Bible

Definitions of Jesus


I once had a student challenge me about Jesus. She said, “I don’t believe you. I don’t believe what you say about there being so many different views of Jesus.” I had, in my classes, only mentioned three. “Good!” I responded, “I’m glad you don’t believe me!” She smiled. She had heard me say that phrase many times before. “Would you like an extra credit assignment that will replace any test grade you want?” Every student’s attention was piqued now, all wishing they had come up with their classmate’s objection. “Sure!” she was completely pleased with the positive academic turn of events.

“OK,” I began, “Here’s my challenge. Go to downtown Ann Arbor, the home of the University of Michigan. Stand on the street corner with a clipboard and ask passersby one question, ‘Who do you think Jesus is?’ In one hour, I will bet you that you will obtain at least 25 different views of Jesus.” Her eyes brightened. I could see the wheels turning in her mind. Only one hour? Substitute that time for a test grade? Prove the teacher wrong? Win, win, win.

It was a Friday. She went to Ann Arbor on Saturday. She was back in class on Monday. I did not make any comment. But she did. “Could I tell the class about what I discovered?” Students were still envious about the whole grade thing. “Sure! What did you find out?” The young woman brought out a sheet of paper where she had collected responses from U of M students. “To be honest,” she began, “I didn’t spend the whole hour.” There was a quiet murmur in the room, disappointment that perhaps their classmate had not fulfilled her end of the bargain. “I didn’t have to,” she continued, “Because in 45 minutes I had recorded 25 different views of Jesus. I figured that was enough.”

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Dr. Robert Alter, Emeritus Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California at Berkeley, and author of the landmark three-volume book, The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary. As Jews around the world celebrate Passover this week, Dr. Alter shares why the Hebrew Bible is probably the most influential book in human history, and the larger lessons 21st century teachers and students should draw from its timeless wisdom. They also discuss the text as a record of the Jewish people, and vital historical lessons of persecution, resilience, and survival. Professor Alter describes how the Psalms and the Book of Exodus’ stories of liberation and Moses’ leadership inspired several of the major figures of the Civil Rights Movement. The interview concludes with Dr. Alter reading from his trilogy.

Stories of the Week: In California, K-12 public school enrollment has declined below 6 million for the first time in over two decades, with COVID accounting for only some of the loss. New Brookings research explores whether major federal aid packages directed to schools during COVID, and after the 2008 Great Recession, have been used for the intended purpose.

The Bible on Leadership: 7 Verses About the Work and Requirements of Leadership


My shelves are full of leadership books. I teach in a Ph.D. leadership program so the stacks of books I have read on leadership should come as no surprise! But what I’ve discovered in all my reading is that the Bible is the best leadership resource.

And you must agree! You are reading this post because you too believe the Bible is the best place to discover leadership principles! So, I’ve begun a list of Scripture passages about leadership that I hope will encourage you, inspire you, and, hopefully, challenge you to lead well, wherever God has placed you.

This is not one of those posts that just gives you a list of texts. Since this entry is the first of a few articles on leadership, I’ll begin with a focus on key leadership themes. In this post, the verses will focus on a leader’s work and requirements.

The COVID Priests


Aaron said, “Sir, don’t be angry. You know the people — that they’re intent on evil. They told me, ‘Make a god for us who will go before us because, as for this fellow Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we don’t know what has become of him.’” (Exodus 32:22-23)

The Israelites were worried and scared. Their leader Moses was AWOL, or so they thought. They needed someone to take care of them, someone to tell them what to do. They needed a god, and apparently any god would do, even one of their own making. They were ready to create a god and a religion based on their hundreds of years of experiences in bondage. How very human of them.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” guest co-host Jason Bedrick and co-host Gerard Robinson talk with Dr. Leon Kass, MD, the Addie Clark Harding Professor Emeritus in the Committee on Social Thought and the College at the University of Chicago. Dr. Kass describes the important pieces of wisdom and humanity people today can still learn from reading the Book of Genesis, the topic of his 2003 work, The Beginning of Wisdom. They next discuss his newest book, Founding God’s Nation: Reading Exodus, and general lessons about the Israelites that leaders, teachers, and students could use in addressing the challenges of modern life. They explore the influence of the Book of Exodus and the themes of liberation from captivity on the Civil Rights Movement, and several of its major leaders, including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and what teachers and students today should learn from Exodus about deliverance from life’s hardships. Dr. Kass shares why he became interested in the Great Books, and their crucial role in helping 21st-century students receive a complete liberal arts education and lead fulfilling lives. They discuss Western education’s increasing focus on vocationally oriented and often technocratic skills at the expense of humanistic education, and why we should be concerned about it, especially in our hyper-technological era. The interview concludes with a reading from Dr. Kass’s newest book on Exodus.

Stories of the Week: Co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson discuss New York Times story on the plight of America’s nine million students in rural school districts that are underfunded, disconnected, and face myriad challenges. Pioneer Institute and other organizations submitted an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case, Carson v. Makin, to expand access to private and religious schools for families in Maine.

Quote of the Day: Reflections on John 1


I’m just beginning a re-read of the book of John in my daily time with the Lord. I read the first chapter on Monday and parts of it really struck me, almost like I hadn’t read it before. I thought I’d take the opportunity to share my thoughts on a few sections! First:

This was John’s [the Baptist] testimony when the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him, “Who are you?” 

QOTD: Psalm 63


Something I like to do during my devotional time is praying through a Psalm. This morning, I was on my way to Psalm 43 when I flipped past Psalm 63; it caught my attention, so I decided to focus on that one instead! It was a real encouragement to me, so I thought I would post it here in the hopes that I could pass some of the encouragement along.

God, you are my God; I eagerly seek you.
I thirst for you;
my body faints for you
in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water.
So I gaze on you in the sanctuary
to see your strength and your glory. 

Swimming the Bosporus 10: The Good Book and Holy Tradition


I did a lot of church-hopping in my college and Navy days. To simplify the search, I would look to see if a church claimed to be “Bible-believing.” This indicated they were non-denominational, pretty conservative, and focused on the Scriptures. If their name included “Bible Church,” even better.

Following the Bible is the main point of these assemblies, a principle that stems from the Reformation. Martin Luther declared that the Catholic Church was wrong to emphasize both Scripture and tradition. Instead, the authority should be Scripture alone (or, Sola Scriptura in Latin).

You can find all the Swimming the Bosporus posts here.

Luther looked at the Vatican of his day and thought they had lost the plot. He viewed their many rituals, traditions, and innovations as so many barnacles that had attached themselves to the Barque of St. Peter. So, he decided to strip them off.

Member Post


Today is the Feast of the Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist, and so today we will look at how John was portrayed in three movies of some renown. To introduce our subject, I provide the summary from the Gospel of Mark, chapter 6, all quotes from the ESV translation: 14 King Herod heard of […]

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Teacher Encouragement Thread!


I am a teacher, and I went back to work this week. I just finished five days of pre-planning, and our students come back on Monday, most in person.

Some school districts are going back in person (maybe with an option for online), some are going back all online, some are waiting. I feel safe saying the vast majority of teachers are at least somewhat concerned, and some are extremely stressed. Some are even leaving the profession.

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Back when I was preparing to marry my wife I had an exchange of emails with my friend Jason, a recent convert to Catholicism.  My wife had previously been married and Jason… Jason did not approve of the idea of us getting married.  We exchanged ideas on the subject.  Jason told me that while it […]

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The Atheist and the Acorn


This starts with a joke. Not a particularly good one, but perhaps the novelty will save the humor. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard it told.

An atheist is arguing with a priest as they walk through a grove of trees. “How can you believe in a God who created such a disordered universe? Look at these mighty oak trees. See the tiny acorns they produce. And yet the massive pumpkin grows on a feeble vine. If I had designed the world that situation would be corrected, let me tell you.”

Mordechai Would Not Kneel


“And all the king’s servants who were in the king’s gate would kneel and prostrate themselves before Haman . . . but Mordecai would neither kneel nor prostrate himself.” (Esther 3:2)

Lately we have seen more and more people getting down on one knee (or two) seeking forgiveness of the mob and some kiss the boots or wash the feet of its representatives. There are plenty of photos and videos you can access on this subject.

Member Post


I’m trying to spread a little positivity, so here are ten things I’m thankful for during this crazy time: The Bible and prayer Extra time to spend with my family Technology to stay in touch with friends and participate in church activities Coffee Time to focus on my goals and plans Blankets and comfy clothes […]

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Adventures in the Septuagint


Let’s look at a few adventures in Bible exploration using the Septuagint (LXX), the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament. (For online access to the LXX, consider here or here.)

But why study the LXX? I’m glad you asked. It’s customary to say that the LXX is important because it’s the OT translation most used by the authors of the New Testament. That’s not wrong, but it can be misleading. I don’t think the NT authors took the LXX to be divinely inspired; when they draw from the OT, they draw from the Hebrew. But they’re writing in Greek, the common tongue of their era, and they don’t see any need to reinvent the wheel. So they usually opt to use the pre-existing Greek biblical vocabulary and idioms, and that means using the LXX.

Jesus Preaches on Isaiah


In Luke chapter 4, Jesus/Yeshua reads from Isaiah 61 and makes a shocking claim about it:

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

Unselfing, Marys and Marthas: Winter of Discontent, or Mind of Winter?


“One must have a mind of winter… And have been cold a long time… not to think / Of any misery in the sound of the wind,” the January wind. So says Wallace Stevens in his poem, The Snow Man. Misery and discontent aren’t identical, but a series of small miseries — unrelated to wintry weather — means February snuck up on me this year, almost as if January never happened, so misery must do for my “winter of discontent”. To “the listener, who listens in the snow,” hearing the sound of the wind, the poem promises if he becomes “nothing himself” he’ll “behold[] / Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.” People “cold a long time” can go numb, of course, and numbness is a kind of “nothing” obliterating misery. But numbness seems insufficient for a “mind of winter”.

For our own survival, we see winter’s cold as hostile. Our success as biological beings depends on our sensing discomfort, in order to mitigate risk before it’s too late. Concern for our own comfort is a form of self-regard that isn’t optional, if we care to live. Nonetheless, necessary self-regard is still self-regard. A mind of winter leaves self-regard behind. And so, it sees wintry beauty — the snowy, frozen world lit with “the distant glitter / Of the January sun” — simply because it is there to see, irrespective of what it might mean to the self. Winter in itself isn’t hostile, just indifferent: self-regard makes the indifference seem hostile. A mind of winter is “unselfed”.

Word of the Year


I don’t know if this is a specifically Christian practice or if people who aren’t Christians do something similar, too, but it’s become a Thing in my church community to choose a “word” for the year. This is usually an area where we want to see God grow us, something to pray about and focus on as the months continue. Now, I realize that the way I’ve written this paragraph kind of sounds like I’m being critical about having a prayer word (as some call it, including myself), but I actually love the idea.

This year isn’t the first time I’ve had a prayer word. Last year my word started out as “maturity,” but then about a month in, it changed to “abide” and remained that way for the rest of the year. I had a Scripture passage to go with it (John 15:1-11), which I memorized and reviewed once a week. It was the right word for me for that time, and I did, praise Jesus, see some growth in my abiding in Christ.