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Bread Eternal

In the ruins of Ostia Antica, where Roman roads have disintegrated into a tangle of worn stones and earth, past market stalls where tall grasses jut from meticulously laid mosaic floors, one can find about three dozen stone basins in which bakers once placed bread dough to rise. This is one of . . . . Continue Reading »

Supersessionism Hard and Soft

Supersessionism describes the theological conviction that the Christian Church has superseded the Jewish people, assuming their role as God’s covenanted people, Israel. At first glance, supersessionism seems to be a core Christian belief, making any fruitful dialogue between Jews and Christians . . . . Continue Reading »

A Counted People

The Times of Israel recently reported that archaeologists had uncovered a “miniscule biblical stone weight” from excavations of the foundations of the Western Wall of the Second Jewish Temple. It is round, about the size of a marble, and marked with the Hebrew word beka. . . . . Continue Reading »

From Work to Text and Back

Around 1980, those of us coming up in literary studies learned that we could no longer refer to a work of art. The term had become obsolete. If you uttered it even in passing, you appeared behind the times, not up-to-date. You had to use another word: text. Roland Barthes announced . . . . Continue Reading »

A Failing Papacy

The current regime in Rome will damage the Catholic Church. Pope ­Francis combines laxity and ruthlessness. His style is casual and approachable; his church politics are cold and cunning. There are leading themes in this pontificate—­mercy, accompaniment, peripheries, and so forth—but . . . . Continue Reading »

Liberalism Against the Church

The Lost History of Liberalism:  From Ancient Rome to the Twenty-First Century by helena rosenblatt princeton, 368 pages, $35 Liberalism, says Helena Rosenblatt, has grown ineffective as it has forgotten the role that public morality, virtue, and conceptions of the common good played in its . . . . Continue Reading »

Royal Fatalism

The Romanovs:  1613–1918 by simon sebag montefiore vintage, 784 pages, $35 The Romanovs Under House Arrest:  From the 1917 Diary of a Palace Priest by afanasy belyaev translated by leonid michailitschenko holy trinity, 136 pages, $29.95 The Romanov dynasty begins and ends with one name: . . . . Continue Reading »

God as a Gentleman

Everybody knows the Decalogue and, in particular, the commandment “You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain” (Exod. 20:7). In spite of this warning, we too easily call God “Lord”—nay, we invoke him as “the Lord”—as if such a word were devoid of ambiguity and not badly . . . . Continue Reading »

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