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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Who crucified Jesus?

From Leithart

It has become common among NT scholars to insist that Jesus was crucified by the Romans. This is certainly true in the sense that crucifixion was a Roman form of execution, and also highlights the important political dimension of Jesus’ death. It is also true, as the hymn expresses it, . . . . Continue Reading »

Proverbs 14

From Leithart

INTRODUCTION As Waltke points out, the opening verses of chapter 14 are chiastically arranged: A. Wise, Fool, walk, vv. 1-2 B. Speech, v. 3 C. Industry, v. 4 B’. Speech, v. 5 A’. Wise, fool, go/walk, vv. 6-7. Waltke notes that the first part of the arrangement highlights connections . . . . Continue Reading »

Orientation of worship

From Leithart

Throughout the OT, worshipers drew near to God moving from east to west, returning to Eden. The Christian church reversed this, so that Christian worshipers enter by the west door and face east during worship. Is this change justified? What does it signify? No doubt many things, but this at least: . . . . Continue Reading »

Orientation of worship

From Leithart

Throughout the OT, worshipers drew near to God moving from east to west, returning to Eden. The Christian church reversed this, so that Christian worshipers enter by the west door and face east during worship. Is this change justified? What does it signify? No doubt many things, but this at least: . . . . Continue Reading »

Easter Musings on Genesis 29

From Leithart

1) Jacob goes to Paddan-Aram fleeing from his father’s house; in that far country, he endures abuse and treachery, yet returns with brides and numerous flocks and herds. When he goes out from his father’s house, he has nothing – a staff (32:10) – but he returns to his . . . . Continue Reading »

Gift and relation

From Leithart

MG Anspach says that “To give a gift in return, to recognize the generosity of the first giver through a corresponding gesture of reciprocity, is to recognize the relation for which the initial gift is only a vehicle.” This helpfully highlights the fact that the return gift is less a . . . . Continue Reading »

Power of gift

From Leithart

Levi-Srauss doubts Mauss’ spiritualization of the gift that Mauss draws from the Maori concept of “hau,” the power that is communicated in, with, and under the gift. Rather, hau is “the conscious form whereby men of a given society . . . apprehended an unconscious necessity . . . . Continue Reading »

Twain on Gratitude

From Leithart

Thanks to NSA librarian Ed Iverson for providing references to Mark Twain’s “Letters from Earth,” where he assaults Christianity, and in several places mocks Christian gratitude to God. For instance: “Just so with diseases. If science exterminates a disease which has been . . . . Continue Reading »

Late Medieval Gratitude

From Leithart

Andrew Galloway traces the development of explicit discussions of gratitude in a 1994 article from the Journal of the History of Ideas. A few highlights: 1) Though he admits that gratitude was not “‘invented’ at some moment in human culture,” and that it was “the basis . . . . Continue Reading »

Highlights of Mauss, Gift

From Leithart

1) Methodologically, Mauss is particularly interested in investigating what he calls the “total social fact,” a social reality that gives expression to all sorts of institutions simultaneously. Gift-exchange events such as the potlatch are “religious, juridical, and moral” . . . . Continue Reading »