Category Archives: Essays

Psalms 137: An Exegetical Approach

Introduction

Psalms 137 has long been one of my favourite biblical passages and not simply because of the shock value held by the final verses. Surely “a blessing on him who repays you in kind” and “a blessing on him who seizes your babies and dashes them against the rocks!” are the rarest of occurrences in any sermon (137:8—9)! This type of retaliatory language only piqued my interest in Psalm 137 and to avoid running the risk of a shallow understanding and interpretation I was forced to study the passages in detail. Apart from the obvious questions one could ask, such as “what on earth is something like this doing in the bible?” and “is this really condoning the dashing of babies as a form of retribution?”—certain theological questions arise for the Christian disciple reading such a passage. Namely what does this suggest about God, if anything, and the issues of faith the author was faced with during the time period this passage was constructed? Moreover, what does Psalm 137 suggest about the society it was written in? Continue reading

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Irenaeus & Clement vs. Gnosticism

Gnosticism and the Early Church Fathers: Irenaeus and Clement

Introduction

Following the death of Jesus a handful of followers continued to meet and prepared to carry on with his ministry. The author of Acts names the twelve disciples (and following this a replacement for Judas), Jesus’ mother Mary, and his brothers who continued to pray together. We are told here that Peter stood up among the handful, numbering about one hundred and twenty believers, apparently prepared to lead the way as a spokesman for the apostles. From here then, he and the others began preaching in Jerusalem (Acts 1:12—15; Acts 2:14—8:3). From what seems to be an early congregation and the beginning of the organization of the church, this group would eventually grow, almost exponentially following Paul’s conversion, and spread out from Jerusalem reaching as far as Rome (Acts 2:37—42; Acts 9; Acts 27) in Paul’s lifetime. Continue reading

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Evidence of Montanism in the Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicitas

Perpetua and Felicity

Perpetua and Felicitas

Introduction

There is much overlap between the early Christian movement, Montanism, and the wider Christianity of the early third century. Given this, it would not be difficult to show that any given Christian work during this time, such as Perpetua’s Martyrdom account, having links to Montanism. But is there any evidence that would be unique to Montanism? That is to say, a belief or practice that was magnified by adherents to Montanism and also appears, or is alluded to, in the only surviving witness we have of the martyrdom of Perpetua. If so, does this evidence allow us to conclude Perpetua was probably a Montanist and the account of her Martyrdom is a genuine Montanist expression? Continue reading

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The Didache

English: Last page of the Didache Español: Ult...

Last page of the Didache

Introduction

The Didache (“teaching”, Gk. Διδαχή) appears to be an early Christian church manual containing teachings of the Twelve Apostles.Philotheos Bryennios in the library of the Holy Sepulchre in Constantinople, it contains ethical discussions coupled with instruction on how early Christians are to conduct their communal lives.[2] Most scholars date its composition to the late first century or early second century CE.[3] Despite claiming to be teachings of the apostles the author of the Didache does not claim be an apostle, and furthermore remains anonymous. So are the teachings apostolic as is claimed? Moreover, did the early church consider the Didache an authoritative manual like they would have the gospels? Continue reading

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The Gospel According to Mark: A Passion Narrative with an Extended Introduction?

Introduction

Gospels, Opening of Mark's Gospel, Walters Man...

Opening of Mark’s Gospel, Walters Manuscript

The Gospel According to Mark has long been described as a passion narrative with an extended introduction.[1] This view has been repeated by an innumerable amount of scholars and no doubt is derived from the significant part the Passion narrative plays in Mark. Continue reading

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