Exhortation, First Sunday of Advent

When Jesus ascended into heaven, He poured out His Spirit on the church. According to Paul, He also gave gifts to men. These gifts included apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, given to the church to equip the saints for their work of service. Paul gives us this picture of the . . . . Continue Reading »

Philosopher or poet?

The doctrine of accommodation (which is rife in the tradition, as basic to Thomas as to Calvin) says: When God speaks in His natural voice, He speaks like a philosopher. He speaks like a poet in Scripture because He’s dumbing it down for humans imprisoned in a sensible world. Scripture, . . . . Continue Reading »

Ritual and Ceremony

The terms “ceremony” and “ritual” became sneer-words nearly as soon as they were introduced into English and other European languages, according to Edward Muir’s Ritual in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 2005): “Around the turn of the sixteenth century, as Thomas . . . . Continue Reading »


Richard Davidson, writing in the Andrews University Seminary Studies (Spring 2004), shows that the restoration of the world after the flood follows the creation week: 1. Spirit/wind, Gen 1:2; 8:1 2. Division of waters, 1:6-8; 8:1-5 3. Dry land and plants, 1:9-13; 8:5-12 4. Lights, 1:14-19; 8:13-14 . . . . Continue Reading »

Thoughts on Jonah

Some random thoughts on Jonah, inspired by a conversation with my student, Brillana McLean. 1) The first chapters of Jonah seem to follow something of an exit-and-return story. Jonah gets in a boat and crosses some water; he is cast out and is swallowed by the waters and by a sea monsters; he is . . . . Continue Reading »

Sermon notes, First Advent

INTRODUCTION Individual angels, particularly the angel of Yahweh, appear regularly in the Old Testament (Genesis 16:7, 11; Exodus 14:19; Numbers 22:23-24; Judges 13:3; 2 Kings 1:3, 15). Occasionally, individual angels are named (Daniel 8:16; 10:13, 21). Far less frequently, groups of angels appear . . . . Continue Reading »

Nietzsche and Foucault

If postmodern theorists are Marxists, they are Marxists of a particular stripe, in that their Marxism is crossed by Nietzschean pessimism. They believe that power struggles are at the center of history but no longer believe that these power struggles will end in an ideal classless society. . . . . Continue Reading »

Rise of fictionality

Novels, we say, are long prose fictions, but general the terms of that definition are left unexamined. What is “prose” after all? What, Catherine Gallagher wants to ask, is fiction? And how did fictionality become established as the matter-of-factly defining characteristic of the novel. . . . . Continue Reading »

The Novel

Several of my recent posts were taken from essays in Franco Moretti’s recent collection, The Novel (Princeton). The two-volume English translation abridges the six volumes of the Italian original. The essays are so suggestive that one is tempted to take some time off to learn Italian. . . . . Continue Reading »

Chinese novels

During the sixteenth century, a little before the novel took shape in Western Europe, a very similar form of prose fiction was being developed in China. According to Andrew Plaks, “The significant areas of convergence between what we customarily call the classical novel in China and its . . . . Continue Reading »