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…

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…

The Garden of New Creation

Eden was the Garden of Futility — of broken dreams, of shattered relationships, of the first Adam’s rebellion, and the image of God being marred by sin and disobedience. The Garden of Gethsemane was the Garden Decision — of sacrifice, of abandonment and suffering, of temptation resisted, where the Last Adam chose God’s will over…

The Tale of the Cursed Fig Tree

Let’s hear the story of Palm Sunday from the perspective of the fig tree Jesus cursed. God placed our kind on earth on the third day of creation. We were planted into the soil in order to give ourselves away for others.  We give oxygen for all living things.  We give shade in the summer heat. We provide a…

The Palms of His Hands

I tend to be a bit forgetful at times. I’ll walk upstairs to get something but forget what it was when I arrive. I’m still in my 30s but I swear my short-term memory is fading!  The obvious solution for this affliction is to write things down, make lists, or plug it into my iPhone calendar….

American Disciples at the Cross – Part 1

My sermon this past Sunday made a case that the church, by and large, has embraced one cross and avoided the other. The message of the cross must be two-fold: 1) Bowing in humble repentance at the foot of Jesus’ cross where Christ won the victory and where we receive forgiveness of our sins, and…

Jesus Crashes the Mishnah

If Jesus is the perfect embodiment of Torah, what happens if we insert “Jesus” or “Jesus’ Way” every place we find “Torah” in the Mishnah’s ‘Sayings of the Sages’?  I think you’ll find it quite fascinating.

Jesus, Sages & the Mishnah

Isn’t it interesting the early church never developed into anything resembling the rabbinic model of education and organization? Paul was a Pharisee who studied under the great Rabbi Gamaliel in Jerusalem, and yet the style of his teaching and apostolic ministry never resulted in training up Christian rabbis to pass on Jesus’ interpretation of Torah to eager students. Just read Acts and the Epistles and you find nothing rabbinic in shape about early Christian education.