Reject Disciples, Reject Jesus

Matthew mentions Sodom three times - in 10:15 and twice in 11:23-24. In the second, He says that the cities that have refused to repent when He did miracles will be judged more harshly than Sodom; in the first, He says that those who reject His disciples will be subject to the same judgment. To . . . . Continue Reading »

Updike’s Terrorist

James Wood is always illuminating, but never more so than when he’s giving a book a sharply negative review, as he does with Updike’s recent Terrorist (reviewed in TNR July 3). My favorite line: “When Ahmad [the terrorist of the title] speaks, he sounds like V. S. Naipaul; but . . . . Continue Reading »

Rabbi Jesus?

It’s a commonplace of liberal theology that Jesus is a great teacher, but no more. Jesus is certainly a teacher in Matthew’s gospel, but David Bauer points out that the only people who call him rabbi are strangers or opponents (8:19; 12:38). Oh, yes, and Judas (26:25, 49). Disciples, . . . . Continue Reading »


Louis Dupre writes, “Shakespeare’s comedies, the accomplished masterpieces of this playful oscillation [between appearance and reality], leave the viewer utterly confused about what must count as real and what as illusion. The theatre here parodies a real-life fear of deception . . . . Continue Reading »

Conservative Culture

TNR (July 3) has several articles on conservative culture. Rick Perlstein suggests that conservatism is a “jerry-rigged” coalition that has little ideological unity. But conservative is unified nonetheless: “you never see the sponsors of purity balls going on CNN to denounce . . . . Continue Reading »

Things Hidden

Jesus teaches in parables to fulfill what the prophet spoke: “I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the world” (Matt 13:35). The “prophet” cited is Asaph (Psalm 78:2), and the Psalm cited is a review of Israel’s history . . . . Continue Reading »

Illusion and Truth

Illusion and truth are opposites, right? But isn’t it the case that illusion is an integral part of true perception. The sofa across the room is no bigger than my thumbnail, and I can blot out the tree with my forefinger. If these objects appeared to me in their actual size, I could have no . . . . Continue Reading »


The Enlightenment held to a belief in human perfectibility, it is often said. The term itself was coined by Rousseau, but Rousseau saw it as a deeply ambiguous faculty, “the source of all misfortunes of man.” Perfectibility is the faculty that draws together and motivates all other . . . . Continue Reading »


Jesus warns at the end of the Sermon on the Mount that those who hear His words and fail to do them will collapse. The image of the collapsing house, as NT Wright has suggested, likely refers to the temple: Jesus is setting out a program for Israel’s national survival (as well as a program . . . . Continue Reading »

Turn the cheek

James Jordan points to structural links between the death of the innocents at hands of Herod (Matt 2) death of innocent Jesus at hands of Romans (Matt 27). While Jesus escapes the first slaughter by fleeing to Egypt, he enters the “Egypt” of Jerusalem/Judea to suffer the slaughter. . . . . Continue Reading »