The Biblical Mind is dedicated to helping its audience understand the deep structures of Scripture. It is published by the Center for Hebraic Thought, a hub for research and resources promoting biblical literacy and the intellectual world of the Bible.
Don't Skip the Poems (Michelle Knight)
The poetry in Scripture can be hard to understand. And, especially when it is embedded within a story, such as the Song of Deborah, we might be tempted to skip over it. It uses a lot of allusion and metaphor and is pregnant with imagery and historical detail. We would rather the author just "get to the point" and give us a bullet-point summary. However, to ignore the stylistic force of biblical poetry (or any biblical genre) is to miss out on some of the deep theological underpinnings of the text.In this episode, Dr. Michelle Knight, Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, discusses biblical poetry and literary sensitivity to the genres of Scripture. She and Dr. Dru Johnson zoom in on the Song of Deborah in Judges and the violence it seems to celebrate, then expand to discuss Joshua and Judges more broadly. They cover biblical characterization, how the New Testament authors draw on motifs in Judges, and even compare Joshua to a Marvel movie. In the end, they aim to encourage us toward both theological understanding and literary prowess when we read the Bible.Show notes:0:00 Reading biblical poetry2:24 Dru squeezes his rubber ducky3:55 Violence in the Song of Deborah8:51 The purpose of poetic devices in conveying meaning12:42 Understanding the "rules" of poetry15:18 The style of Joshua versus that of Judges18:53 Joshua and Judges in the New Testament21:45 Are Samson and Gideon heroes?25:24 Understanding the character of JoshuaRead more about Michelle Knight.Show notes by Micah Long.
Violence in the Bible Isn't What You Think It Is (Matt Lynch)
Many readers of Scripture are jarred when God and Israel commit violence in the Old Testament. From the conquest of Canaan, to the lives of the biblical patriarchs, to the great flood in Genesis, we cannot avoid the fact that God and His people fight and kill. This can lead to a crisis of faith—how can God be good if He is violent?Dr. Matt Lynch, Assistant Professor of Old Testament at Regent College, wants to reframe our questions; rather than merely worrying about God's use of violence, we could instead ask how the biblical authors are critiquing our use of violence. In this episode, Dr. Dru Johnson interviews Dr. Lynch about how the Bible portrays violence. They discuss Scripture's persistent connection between violence and tumult, and the difference between justified forceful harm and unjust violence. They also address the ethical connection between human beings and the rest of creation, and how violence in the Old Testament and New Testament separates humanity from God and the earth.Show notes:0:00 The problem of violence in the Old Testament and New Testament2:25 Introducing Dr. Matthew Lynch and his work7:12 Violence in Scripture versus violence in the modern world11:50 War with the Canaanites in the book of Joshua14:28 Ethics, ecology, and the environment22:47 The New Covenant and our relationship to creation24:24 The overarching perspective on violence in Scripture29:15 Listening to the biblical texts for their questionsDr. Lynch's new book: Portraying Violence in the Hebrew Bible: A Literary and Cultural StudyShow notes by Micah Long.
Biblical Literacy for Flourishing in Faith and Work (Luke Bobo)
Many American Christians assume an over-familiarity with the Bible. Whether because we were raised in the church, or because we think we have it all figured out, or because of sheer laziness, we rarely turn to Scripture with diligent and curious eyes, guided by a community of other Bible-readers. At the same time, we often erect barriers between our faith and work or between the state of our souls and the state of our bodies. Perhaps the two issues are connected: we see the Bible and our churches as dealing with spiritual things but tend to isolate them from our everyday lives.Dr. Luke Bobo is an author, theologian, professor, and Director of Strategic Partnerships for an organization called Made to Flourish. His work ranges from encouraging biblical literacy among everyday churchgoers to helping pastors think holistically about the interaction between faith and work, including implications for poverty alleviation. In this episode, Dr. Dru Johnson interviews Dr. Bobo about biblical interpretation and the dignity of work. Dr. Bobo wants us to do two things: first, dive deeper into Scripture, and second, figure out how the church can serve in the economic order.Questions addressed include: How can Christians develop an asset-based approach to ministry, instead of a need-based one? How can churches work in concert with the biblical story the affirm the dignity of work? What does an economically flourishing church look like? How Christians read the Bible better?Show notes:0:26 The basics of the Bible and biblical interpretation3:50 Practices that help and hinder biblical literacy7:18 Interpretation through your social location11:57 Interpretation as an individual and communal exercise17:19 Made to Flourish and the dignity of work22:16 Helping pastors think about vocation32:00 The church as an economic agentLearn more about Dr. Luke Bobo's writing and work at Made to Flourish.Dr. Bobo's book A Layperson's Guide to Biblical Interpretation: A Means to Know the Personal GodShow notes by Micah Long.
Re-Thinking Wisdom Literature in the Bible (Will Kynes)
Since the 19th century, the term "wisdom literature" has been associated specifically with the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job. When we look for wisdom in the Bible, then, we will often turn to these books. However, to divorce these works from the larger biblical corpus may have blinded us to their fuller narrative context and prevented us from seeing wisdom in other stories, poetry, and laws of Scripture.Will Kynes, Associate Professor of Biblical and Religious Studies at Samford University, wants to broaden and challenge our understanding of wisdom and wisdom literature in the Hebrew Bible. In this episode, he talks with Dr. Dru Johnson about the Hebrew context for wisdom in the Bible, including 1 Kings, Deuteronomy, Genesis 1–3, and even contemporary Egyptian texts. Instead of limiting ourselves to the modern definitions of wisdom, perhaps we can begin to read Scripture on its own terms and enrich our understanding of its persistent and complex wisdom tradition.Show notes:0:28 The problem with the way we think of wisdom in the Bible2:39 Different views of wisdom6:38 Focusing on the concept of wisdom instead of "wisdom literature"9:00 Understanding "the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom"10:41 Reading 1 Kings 1-11 and Proverbs17:15 Culturally-based versus universalized pictures of wisdom23:26 The narrative framework of Scripture25:19 A new word for "wisdom"?28:13 Understanding Scripture on its own termsFor more of Will Kynes's work on wisdom in the Bible, check out An Obituary for "Wisdom Literature": The Birth, Death, and Intertextual Reintegration of a Biblical Corpus.Will Kynes's Samford University page with bio and more writings.Show notes by Micah Long.
How Old Testament Laws Can Shape Christians Today (Carmen Imes)
As we've already discussed on The Biblical Mind podcast, the Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible) is more than just a bunch of old stories with some laws thrown in. Instead, it is an interwoven collection of literature, carefully crafted to shape the Israelites into the people of YHWH. However, many people still regard the the Old Testament laws as inapplicable to modern Christianity. They may see the Israelite religion as a "religion of works" while seeing Christianity as a "religion of faith."In this episode, Dr. Carmen Imes, Associate Professor of Old Testament at Prairie College in Alberta, Canada, talks with Dr. Dru Johnson about the role of the Old Testament laws. Fulfilling individual Old Testament laws is meant to shape the wisdom and character of God's people in response to God's already accomplished work of salvation. Dr. Imes talks about biblical oath-making, the difference between ancient and modern views of law codes, and how God secures his faithfulness by swearing on Himself. If we learn to read the law as an extension of our love for God, we can see how the practices and guidance of the Torah can shape our modern life as Christians.Show notes:0:00 Why the Torah isn't what gave salvation to the Israelites2:28 Why there are rules in the Bible7:44 Oath-making in the Hebrew Bible13:07 What the Ten Commandments were really like17:23 The uniqueness of the Hebraic covenants and Old Testament laws25:04 What it means to "love the LORD your God with all your heart"Carmen Imes's blog: Chastened InstitutionsHer most recent book: Bearing God's Name: Why Sinai Still MattersShow notes by Micah Long.
Critiquing the Church's Beliefs about Sex and Gender (Aimee Byrd)
Author and speaker Aimee Byrd believes that a close and careful reading of the biblical texts should inform the church's view on sex and gender. Instead of resorting to 21st-century (or 20th-century) Western models of gender and sex or going with our gut instincts, perhaps the church can craft a biblical theology of gender that both preserves the categories of man and women while affirming their active and necessary roles in creation.In this episode, Aimee Byrd and Dr. Johnson discuss a theology of gender rooted in Scripture. Along the way, they examine some of the most negative assumptions about women within Protestantism, consider biblical portrayals of women, and discuss the self-sacrificial roles of both sexes. Questions answered include:What does it mean to be a man or be a woman?Is the term "gender roles" inherently damaging to a discussion of biblical masculinity and femininity?What negative cultural assumptions about the body do we import into Scripture?What is the significance of the marriage motif in Genesis and Revelation?Show notes:0:00 Contemporary debates about gender2:45 Femininity and masculinity7:33 Cultural assumptions about the body8:58 Admirable women in the Bible13:20 Negative assumptions about women within Protestantism15:57 Developing a biblical theology of gender23:03 Protection and self-sacrifice29:00 Marriage in ScriptureLearn more about Aimee Byrd and her work.Her most recent book: Recovering from Biblical Manhood and WomanhoodShow notes by Micah Long.
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If you like your jazz smooth and your exegesis deep, the this is the podcast for you. Diverse guests and conversations provide insightful conversations on the Bible, life, and how the two are impacted by one another.
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Dr. Johnson and crew provide, deep, engaging, thoughtful, timely access to scholars doing varied work in the Hebraic tradition. Helpful for Christians and non alike. They manage to make heavy ideas understandable to everyday people.
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