Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
After a short ministry that had gained little traction, the life of Jesus came to a sudden and violent end at Passover time in
Trace the steps of Jesus from baptism to the Via Dolorosa at Sacred Destinations. (Click here) Let John Dominic Crossan give you a lesson in “Crowd Control.” His essay will cause you to rethink a significant aspect of the passion story. (Click here)
Let John Dominic Crossan give you a lesson in “Crowd Control.” His essay will cause you to rethink a significant aspect of the passion story. (Click here)
Visit again the home page of the PBS series From Jesus to Christ and bookmark this important site. While there, read the articles on “Crucifixion” and “Arrest and Execution" at the Jesus' Many Faces tab. (Click here) For as masterful job of explaining how Passover was celebrated in the first century, again visit our friend Barry D. Smith. (Click here)
For as masterful job of explaining how Passover was celebrated in the first century, again visit our friend Barry D. Smith. (Click here)
Find out what a archaeological architect does by checking out Leen Ritmeyer’s sketch of the
Take a quick look at another model of the temple and important surrounding locations at the Holy Land Model of Ancient Jerusalem. Be sure to click on the numbers at this site. (Click here)
Finally, at the
How did this week’s study of
Read Chapter 4 and Epilogue, pp 111 – 171
Write a brief amazon.com-style review of our text, Jesus and the Land by Charles Page. Think of your readers as revJohn visitors who are looking for helpful “customer reviews” of the book. Provide a 1 to 5 star rating, with 5 stars the highest and 1 star the lowest rating.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
One of the most dramatic scenes in the New Testament comes when Jesus at Caesarea Philippi asks his disciples who the crowds think him to be. They reply with a series of choices—Elijah, John the Baptist, etc. Then Jesus asks of them: “Who do you say that I am?” This weeks lesson works with this theme. We’re going to visit three web sites that give different answers to our question. These are substantial sites that you should explore and sample areas that are of interest to you.
Barry Smith, a Baptist professor, offers an entire online course on the Life of Jesus. Pick a section(s) that interest you and spend some time with the material. Cam Howard presents a portrait of Jesus based on the work of Marcus Borg who you met in last week’s assignment. Finally, the Jewish Encyclopedia allows us to look at the ministry of Jesus through the eyes of Jewish scholars.
We begin our assignment with a
Cam Howard’s Portrait of Jesus (Click here)
The Jewish Encyclopedia – Jesus of Nazareth (Click here)
Gerd Ludemann – The Life of Jesus (Click here)Bonus Assignment
Did Jesus Oppose the Purity Laws - Paula Fredriksen is William Goodwin Aurelio Professor of the Appreciation of Scripture at
Jesus and Women - Amy-Jill Levine is E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies at
This lecture was delivered to the Otter Street Church of Christ in
Online Question of the Week
How would you describe Jesus’ ministry from a historical perspective? Try your hand at providing a brief thumbnail sketch of Jesus and his ministry in just a few sentences with these limitations: no confessional language or theological descriptors (Savior, Son of God, etc.).
Reading Assignment – Jesus and the Land
Read Chapter 3, pp 71 – 109
The author presents two “conversion experiences” that he presumes for Jesus. But what about Jesus’ baptism by John? In what sense was that too a “conversion experience”? Share a few comments around the idea that Jesus’ faith developed through a series of religious experiences.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Welcome to Week 2 of Google Jesus. If you’re just joining us, jump right in and check out this week’s assignment. And if you like, check out some of last week’s sites as well. I encourage you to join in this online learning community by setting up a Google account. That way you can add your comments and questions as we study together online.
It’s free and all you need to do is provide your current email address and create a Google account password. Click on comments and sign up or create an account by going to Google.com
This week’s lesson is centered on the birth of Jesus. You’ll find a variety of viewpoints in the sites we’re visiting. Don’t worry if you don’t agree with all the ideas you come across. You’re not suppose to. Engaging other differing viewpoints will challenge you and help you put your own understanding into perspective. So let’s get started.
Read Matthew, Chapters 1 – 2 and Luke, Chapters 1-2. How are the two stories alike? How are they different? Make a list you can refer to in future studies.
After you have completed your list, compare it with that of New Testament scholar, Felix Just. (Click here)
For a bit if a surprise, see the reconstruction of a typical Judean home and find out what Luke probably meant when he said there was no place for Joseph and Mary in the “inn.” Scroll down to the December 18, 2007, post at Stephen Pfann’s blog site until you come to his entry “A New Light on an Old Story.” (Click here)
Reflect on the historicity of the “virgin birth” and its meaning for contemporary Christians by reviewing the sharply contrasting views of two ministers/New Testament scholars, Bishop John Shelby Spong and Ben Witherington. (Click here) and (Click here)Listen to an interview about the Christmas story with popular author, teacher, and Jesus Seminar fellow, Marcus Borg. (Click here)
Watch a brief video lecturette by Brian McClaren on the meaning of “Son of God” in a first century context. Scroll down and choose the video "Who is Jesus". It will take a moment for the video to load. (Click here)
Judge who has the better argument for the birth place of Jesus from a historical perspective by reading the articles of Steve Mason and Jerome Murphy O’Connor in Biblical Archaeology Review. (Click here) and (Click here)
Finally, check out how contemporary Judaism understands the concept of “Messiah” by visiting Judaism 101. (Click here)
Online Question of the Week
How did this series of assignments add to your understanding of the historical Jesus? Did they present any challenges? Raise any questions? Share a comment.
Reading Assignment – Jesus and the Land
Read Chapter 2, pp 39 – 70 (Note: we’ll discuss the baptism of Jesus next week.)
Do you agree or disagree with the author’s conclusion that Matthew’s version of the birth of Jesus best fits historically with what really happened? Explain your reasons.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Welcome to revJohn and this inaugural online course called Google Jesus. The purpose off this course is to discover more about Jesus, allowing you to work at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home.
If you put the name “Jesus” in a search engine, you’ll get back over 211 million results. With so many options, it’s difficult to find really helpful sites, especially scholarly sites. Consequently, with this course, we’ll visit some important web sites and explore key resources available on the internet.
Each week on Sunday evening for four weeks, beginning tonight, I’ll post several bite-sized assignments for you to complete. Most will take only a few minutes to complete. For those doing the optional reading assignment (see below), I’ll also post a few question for you to consider. Each week you can also respond to a question we’ll consider as an online learning community.
It is sometimes difficult for faithful Christians to think of Jesus as a man, a human being who lived and died at a particular point in history in a particular geography. This week’s assignment helps us locate Jesus to the
Begin by reading Matthew 11:-20-24. Note the specific villages/cities mentioned.
Go to Maps of War and play History of Religion. Take note of what changes and what stays the same on the map. (Click here)
Check out several aerial maps, especially,
Read Jonathan Reed’s article Excavating Jesus. (Click here)
Listen to archaeologist James Strange talk about Sepphoris. (Click here)
Read Rami Arav’s discussion of
Online Question of the Week
What do you make of the fact that the gospels do not report Jesus visiting or preaching in Tiberias and Sepphoris?
Reading Assignment – Jesus and the Land
Read Chapter 1, pp 17-38
How does the author describe the inhabitants of
Order Charles Page’s Jesus and the Land from Amazon. (Click here)
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
We'll do one online and one book assignment each week for four weeks. I hope you can join in.
1. The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.
2. He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.
3. He must always tell the truth.
4. He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals.
5. He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
6. He must help people in distress.
7. He must be a good worker.
8. He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.
9. He must respect women, parents, and his nation's laws.
10. The Cowboy is a patriot.
For you cowboys and cowgirls that would like to visit Gene's site, just click here.
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of
You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
"You never know what may cause them. The sight of the Atlantic Ocean can do it, or a piece of music, or a face you've never seen before. A pair of somebody's old shoes can do it. Almost any movie made before the great sadness that came over the world after the Second World War, a horse cantering across a meadow, the high school basketball team running out onto the gym floor at the start of a game. You can never be sure. But of this you can be sure. Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention."
"They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go to next."
Monday, October 20, 2008
Retail stores and restaurants have long used mystery shoppers to provide feedback on their shopping/dining experience. But now secret shopper firms are expanding their market to include churches who want to find out what first time visitors think about their worship experience. Chris Sonksen of Real Church Solutions offers: "First-time guests, they don't come with mercy, they come with judgment. They're looking for a reason to leave."
The cost of a mystery worshipper can range from $150 for a one-time visit to between $1,500 and $2,500 for multiple visits and a detailed report. So what if we hired a "Mystery Worshipper" to check out Hillside? What categories of our worship experience would attract a critical eye? Let's consider a few categories:
- Appearance of grounds
- Friendliness of members
- Cleanliness of restrooms
- Classes for children/adults
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
And of course our friends at Wikipedia have a substantial article on St. Francis.
Finally, you may want to read his Canticle to the Sun (or Canticle of the Creatures) for a spiritual boost.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Here's how the course will work. Each week I'll post an online assignment with links to a few select sites. We'll check out what the site has to say, and there will be an opportunity to respond to one or more assignment questions. That way you can share your experience and also learn from others.
As an option, for those of you who have the time and like to read, I suggest securing an insightful paperback entitled Jesus and the Land by Charles Page II. For those choosing that option along with the online work, I will suggest a weekly reading program and few questions to ponder based on the book. Click on the link above to see the book at Amazon and place an order.
When we finish after four weeks, if anyone is interested, we will offer a chance to debrief our various learning experiences at Hillside and discuss any questions that have arisen that were not (or could not) be addressed online. Let me know if you have any questions.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
The location of the new Temple has not been made known by church officials. Upon completion of the Temple, but before it is dedicated, non-Mormons will be able to visit and be provided information on the different functions and ceremonies performed in the Temple.
Once dedicated, only Latter Day Saints in good standing may enter a Temple.
Monday, September 29, 2008
With this said, did Jesus have characteristic ways of speaking. Scholars tell us "yes." One of the distinctive marks of Jesus' speech is the use of the Hebrew "Amen." Now while the common usage of "amen" was to affirm the words of another, Jesus used it to introduce or strengthen his own words. Our translation often disguise this by translating the word as "truly". Joachim Jeremias in his New Testament Theology lists 59 occasions in the gospels where this word is on the lips of Jesus. In the Gospel of John, it appears in double form: "Amen, Amen, I say to you . . ." Which leads to another characteristic, when "Amen" is used by Jesus in the Gospels, it is followed by the phrase "I say to you." And this way of speaking is only associated with Jesus in the gospels.
Here are a five examples in Mark and John to look at: Mark 3:28; 8:12; 9:1 and John 1:51; 3:3.
We'll look at a couple of other characteristic ways Jesus spoke in some upcoming posts.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
In his initial volume, Meir imagines the following scenario: "Suppose that a Catholic, a Protestant, a Jew, and an agnostic - all honest historians cognizant of first century religious movements - were locked up in the bowels of the Harvard Divinity School library . . . and not allowed to emerge until they had hammered out a consensus document on who Jesus of Nazareth was and what he intended . . ."
If all were honest and maintained their academic integrity, what consensus would emerge from such a gathering. And, more importantly, what might emerge from our own historical study of Jesus?
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
By my count, there were 24 occasions where Adam is mentioned based on the New International Version. And 8 of those occasions are found in the New Testament. Did you think there would be more entries listed; I did.
Or suppose you want to read Mark 10:46-52. By choosing Passage Look-up, you can immediately have access to your scripture selection. You can also see how the passage is translated in other English versions by selecting 1 of 20 (or more) different versions.
Try it out and compare your answer with mine in the next post.