Was Mark Confused Pertaining to the Location of the Feeding of the 5,000?

August 22, 2016; Revised August 23, 2016 My next book is scheduled for release this December: Why Are There Differences in the Gospels: What We Can Learn from Ancient Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017—available December 1, 2016). This book is the culmination of seven and a half years of research that sought to... … Continue reading Was Mark Confused Pertaining to the Location of the Feeding of the 5,000?

It’s All About the Songs

Restoring Kingdom Builders

The Swedish pop group ABBA had a career that roughly paralleled the seven-and-a-half years that I was a youth pastor.

I was never crazy about their outfits … didn’t know the two female vocalists were each married to a different male vocalist … and wasn’t aware of their history or histrionics.

But regardless, songs like “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” “Take a Chance on Me,” “Super Trouper” and even “Mamma Mia” are superbsongs.

And for me, music isn’t about an artist’s lifestyle or love life.  It’s about the songs … and if a song is great, I don’t care who sings it.

In times past, some Christians have divided music into sacred music (songs to and about God) and secular music (songs about life and/or love, but not God).

I suppose I once thought that way, but as I’ve gotten older, I find that I only recognize two categories of music:

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Christianity in Third-Century Alexandria

Larry Hurtado's Blog

A gem of an essay not often noted today on Christianity in third-century Alexandria: Aline Rousselle, “La persécution des chrétiens à Alexandrie au IIIe siècle,” Revue historique de droit français et étranger 52 (1974): 222-51.

Rousselle considers the references to how Christians were treated, with particular focus on the difficulties experienced in response to imperial edicts in 202 (Septimius Severus), 250 (Decius), and 257 (Valerian).  She highlights the different punishments meted out to various Christians, and proposes that they reflect Roman judicial policy, in which distinctions were made between Roman citizens, Alexandrian citizens, and mere (!) Egyptians.  This means that we can identify the social ranks of the various Christians by looking at the punishments they were given.  Some, especially among the higher clergy it seems, suffered punishments that correspond with higher “honourable” social levels.  This tallies with other indications that by the third century (and likely well before that)…

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Resistance to Grace:The Challenge of Pelagius in the 21st century

“It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.”Leo Tolstoy In the great capital city of the Western half of Rome’s Empire, Pelagius stood at the forefront of a sort of moral and spiritual reform movement, aimed at getting Roman Christians to live up to their professions of faith rather more credibly.[i] … Continue reading Resistance to Grace:The Challenge of Pelagius in the 21st century