Peter J. Leithart is President of the Theopolis Institute, Birmingham, Alabama, and an adjunct Senior Fellow at New St. Andrews College. He is author, most recently, of Gratitude: An Intellectual History (Baylor).

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Wise as serpents

From Leithart

Jesus said that we should be wise as serpents, but how are serpents wise? Genesis 3:1 says that the serpent was more “crafty” (ARUM) than any of the beasts of the field, and the same word is used a number of times in Proverbs, often translated as “prudent.” A crafty man . . . . Continue Reading »

The Trouble with Biblical Hermeneutics

From Leithart

OK, one trouble, a trouble: There are, we are told, “three views” of the function of Matthew 1:1 - it’s the heading for the genealogy, it’s the heading for the whole book, or it’s the heading for the first section of the book (perhaps extending to 4:16). Why has it got . . . . Continue Reading »

Body, then Head

From Leithart

The logic of Scripture often moves from head to body: What Jesus did, His disciples are to do; we are to have the mind that was in Christ Jesus; we are to follow Him, not He us. Yet, the sequence of Matthew is inverted in several places. Before Jesus is delivered up, rejected, or cast out of the . . . . Continue Reading »

Jerusalem, Jerusalem

From Leithart

Jerusalem is named 13x in Matthew’s gospel, the last of them in 23:37 where the name is doubled in Jesus’ lament (the city’s name is spelled differently in 23:37). Both at the beginning and end, Jerusalem is troubled by the coming of Jesus: All Jerusalem is upset with Herod at the . . . . Continue Reading »

Reject Disciples, Reject Jesus

From Leithart

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

From Leithart

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?

From Leithart

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 »

Disguise

From Leithart

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

From Leithart

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

From Leithart

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 »