Political Discipleship in the Christian Colony

This is an excerpt from a much longer essay I wrote called “Royal Scribes in the King’s Court: Ancient Education & Christian Discipleship.” Enjoy! I hail from good Lutheran stock from the Midwest (Minnesota) where we shared potlucks (with an endless variety of “hot dishes”) in the church basement, and Bible studies in the Fireside…

The Emotionally Real Pastor

Here’s a portion of my latest doctoral essay exploring the power of “Embodied Wisdom.” This section looks at the role of emotional vulnerability in a pastor’s leadership and example. A popular phrase I’m hearing these days is “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” I’m a guy who…

Early Christian Worship & Persecution

How did the first Christians gather and worship? We don’t need to guess, or piece a picture together from the sparse comments in the New Testament. We have descriptions from historical sources outside the Bible such as Pliny the Younger, Justin Martyr, Tacitus and Seutonius. Before we read their firsthand accounts, John Gooch gives some…

Teachers & Role Models in Ancient Times

My current doctoral research has me exploring the relational dynamics between ancient Greco-Roman moral philosophers and their students. I’m hoping the historical context will shine fresh light on the Apostle Paul’s interactions with those under his care and teaching. I’ve been digging into the likes of Plutarch, Seneca, Epictetus, Cicero, Lucian, Quintilian, Dio Chrysostom as…

Historical Context Matters

These two quotes aptly describe the nature and goal of my doctoral studies in New Testament Context. “The ideal interpreter would be one who has entered into that strange first-century world, has felt its whole strangeness, has sojourned in it until he has lived himself into it, thinking and feeling as one of those to…

ESSAY: Jesus: Scribe, Prophet or Both?

This short essay seeks to answer the question: “Did Jesus act more like a scribe or a prophet (or both)? Martin Hengel concludes his careful exploration of Jesus’ identity stating “Neither the misleading term “rabbi” nor the designation “eschatological prophet,” which is likewise open to misunderstanding, can adequately characterize his activity. Jesus’ “charisma” breaks through the…

Learning & Literacy in Paul’s Churches

If you’re one of the 2 people out there curious about the kinds of things I’m exploring in my doctoral program, here’s an essay from my last seminar on scribes and literacy in the ancient world. This essay addresses the question: “To what extent did literacy play a role in the spiritual development of Paul’s converts?” Enjoy…

Disciples as Scribes in the Royal Court

Here’s a snapshot of my current research project I’m finishing up this week. I’m exploring ancient pedagogy and fresh angles on the task of discipleship in the church today.  POTLUCKS & POLITICS I hail from good Lutheran stock from the Midwest (Minnesota) where we shared potlucks (with an endless variety of “hot dishes”) in the…