Hamlet again

INTRODUCTION It is often said that fourth acts in Shakespeare plays are weak. Action slows down, the principal character is sometimes off stage, and the drama seems to dissipate before the final catastrophe. Act 4 of Macbeth begins with Macbeth’s renewed contact with the witches, but then . . . . Continue Reading »

Religion and Politics

Noah Feldman has a challenging review of Jay Sekulow’s book on the religion of the Supreme Court in the Feb 20 issue of TNR. He argues that the Constitution’s prohibition of religious oaths means a subordination of religious to political conviction: “To move beyond Locke, the . . . . Continue Reading »

Mark’s Meta-Irony, 3

The Romans were deeply anti-semitic, as a number of studies have shown. So, when they dress Jesus up in purple, press a crown of thorns on his head, genuflect before Him, they are mocking the Jews as much as they are mocking Jesus: Here’s the best that the Jews can offer, the King of the . . . . Continue Reading »

Simon and Simon

A number of students point out the contrast between Simon of Cyrene, who takes up Jesus’ cross and follows Him, and Simon Peter, who denies Jesus out of fear. The Gentile Simon proves a more faithful disciple, in this moment of crisis, than the Jewish Simon. . . . . Continue Reading »

Substitutionary Atonement

I’m sure the point has been made elsewhere, perhaps by Wright, but the substitution of Jesus for Barabbas is not only a sign of a generalized substitutionary atonement (though it is that); it is also a sign that Jesus is specifically substituting for Israel. He is the true faithful Israelite . . . . Continue Reading »

Sermon Outline

INTRODUCTION The Omride dynasty had a long-lasting impact on both the Northern and Southern kingdoms. Though the two kingdoms are no longer ruled by a single dynasty, they are very similar, twin prostitutes, as Ezekiel 23 describes it. THE TEXT “In the twenty-third year of Joash the son of . . . . Continue Reading »

Eucharistic meditation

2 Kings 12:4: Then Jehoash said to the priests, All the money of the sacred things which is brought into the house of the Lord, in current money, both the money of each man’s assessment and all the money which any man’s heart prompts him to bring into the house, let the priests take it . . . . Continue Reading »

Joash, King of Judah

A short play I wrote for my children some years ago. Scene 1: Joash and Zechariah Commotion offstage, and then two boys come on, arguing and tussling over a stick. Joash: Give it back! Give it back! Zechariah: No, it’s mine. You took it from me. Joash: I didn’t. Yours was different. It . . . . Continue Reading »

Return to Routine

Some thoughts inspired by Dale Ralph Davis’ commentary on 2 Kings 12. The opening verses of 2 Kings 12 are formulaic. We have heard these words before, again and again, ad nausea in the history of 1-2 Kings: In the such and such year of so and so King of Israel, so and so king of Judah began . . . . Continue Reading »


Joash was a faithful king, but his faithfulness was not complete. He remained faithful, the writer of Kings tells us, “all his days in which Jehoiada the priest instructed him.” The parallel in 2 Chronicles 24 is more explicit: “Joash did what was right in the sight of the LORD . . . . Continue Reading »