The King James Bible in the Book of Moses, Part I

With the recent publication of David Bokovoy’s Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis-Deuteronomy, many have wondered to what extent the Bible has had influence on the Book of Moses. The discussion has mainly revolved around the parts of the text that are obvious revisions of the Genesis creation chapters (Genesis 1, 2-3) that...

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Tamar’s Fight

By Sheldon Greaves, Ph.D. Genesis 38 tells a strange story, set in a foreign culture that carries resonance because in the end, it is both a story of survival and of justice. Briefly stated, it is the story of Tamar, the daughter in law of Judah. She was married to Er, the firstborn son of Judah, but before they had any children Er...

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Metaphor: What is it Good Phor?

Reading the Old Testament leads us to confusing and troubling stories of cosmological creation, global genocide, strange marriage practices, lies, incest, and countless tribal wars all sanctioned by God. To a modern reader almost none of this makes sense, let alone is inspiring. For these reasons, I had never personally been...

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Old Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha

One of the most exciting things to discuss and study in religion for me has always been Jewish apocryphal and pseudepigraphic literature.[i] Some of the most beautiful literary works I have read are found in the Jewish writings outside of the Hebrew Bible, but roughly contemporary to the books written last (ca. 300-150 BCE) in that...

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Rebecca at the Well or, Going the Extra Mile for the Camels

By Sheldon Greaves, Ph.D. The story of how the servant of Abraham went looking for a wife for Isaac (Gen. 24), and found Rebecca is one of the most charming stories in the Old Testament. At least I think so. It is a tale taut with expectation and hazard. Abraham calls his servant and has him place his hand under Abraham’s thigh...

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The Old Testament Does Not Prohibit Homosexuality

By Sheldon Greaves, Ph.D. The section in Genesis for this week’s lesson is Genesis 13-14; 18-19, a crucial set of passages where the Bible paints a defining picture of Abraham, Lot, their families, and the world they lived in. There isn’t time to do proper justice to these sections, because understanding some of them demand a...

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Abraham’s Unfounded Assumptions

By Sheldon Greaves, Ph.D. One of the things that make the character of Abraham so interesting is when his behavior is a little less than ideal. Tradition and legends that grew up around him emphasize his generosity, his concern for the vulnerable and, perhaps most of all, his hospitality. Hospitality was a very big deal not only in...

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Akedah – Must We Kill Isaac?

Akedah – Must We Kill Isaac? by Heber Longhurst One of the most striking passages in the Hebrew Bible is the Akedah or the binding of Isaac by Abraham. The great mystery of human death will always produce strong emotional reactions. The presence of death makes the reality of our mortality undeniable. Death leaves a void in the...

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Discovering the Old Testament: Sacrifice, Sin, and the Cosmic Order

By Sheldon Greaves, Ph.D. In this week’s installment of “Discovering the Old Testament” we spend some time exploring the ancient Israelite sacrificial system, which is one of the more opaque parts of Biblical law. For most modern readers it has something to do with burning lots of animals to remove sins for reasons...

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CHILD ABUSE AND THE SACRIFICE OF ISAAC

Child Abuse and the Sacrifice of Isaac  by Tresa Brown Edmonds As a survivor of childhood abuse, the way we usually teach the story of Abraham is deeply disturbing to me.  Any God that would command someone to harm their child just for the sake of His own worship is not a God I want anything to do with. And is certainly not in...

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