The Utter Unacceptability of Death

My SEC colleague from Vanderbilt this week graciously gave me the gift of a slim volume by a former professor of his. The book is A Boy Thirteen: Reflections on Death (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1975), by Jerry A. Irish. Their 13 year old son Lee died of meningitis in 1973, the second of their three sons to die within 4 years. The younger son had been born with a serious heart defect and died before […]

Beautiful and Terrible Things Book Contract

I am very pleased and proud to announce that I have signed a contract with Westminster John Knox Press to publish Beautiful and Terrible Things! The publication date is Fall 2020. I am so thankful for everyone who has and continues to engage with me on matters relating to the biblical theology of suffering and grace. This book is intended for all audiences and your feedback, pushback, and questions are integral to the refining and […]

Ash Wednesday: Do not give up, take up!

Ash Wednesday First reading Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 Psalm Psalm 51:1-17 Second reading 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10 Gospel Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 Ps. 51:15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. Amen. Today is Ash Wednesday, marked literally and figuratively by the ashes that will be placed upon our foreheads as a sign and reminder of our mortality. It is the beginning of Lent, which is the season of forty days and forty […]

Targum Lamentations Thesis in eBook

I have finally finished editing my doctoral thesis (from 20 years ago!) to make it accessible in ePub format! I have made no substantive edits to the text, so any errors present in the earlier version remain (the PDF is still available here). There are some quirks. The fonts seem to have come through ok, but where Hebrew/Aramaic/Syriac text is followed by a footnote the footnote sometimes(?) ends up at the end of the word, […]

Ruth in a time of Depression

This week the Daily Office readings take us through the Book of Ruth and today (Wednesday) we begin chapter two. The chapter opens with a bit of foreshadowing, letting us know that “Naomi had a kinsman on her husband’s side, a prominent rich man, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.” I have written elsewhere that Boaz is a marginalized figure in the Book of Ruth, who has a key role but is […]

Morning Prayer and Ruth

The Old Testament reading in the Daily Office this week (7 Epiphany, Year A) is the Book of Ruth.1 An appropriate text as we head into Lent, Naomi and Ruth experience the vicissitudes of life, from grief and widowhood, migration and isolation, to friendship, loyalty, and love. If you are looking for more resources on the Book of Ruth you will find at the menu above my brief commentary on the Book of Ruth, essays […]

Raised Imperishable

So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.  1 Cor 15:42-44 The last two weeks (6th and 7th Sunday after […]

Blessings and Woe: For Everything There is a Season

This past Sunday our Gospel reading was Luke 6:17-26. After a short preamble, Jesus begins his “sermon on the plain.” 6:20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22 “Blessed are you when people hate you, and […]

Confusion is Sovereign

Warning: This short post is the definition of pedantic. I am going to quibble with the use of the word “sovereign” as applied to God by many Reformed theologians.  It is not surprising that exploring the topic of suffering and grace has led me to consider questions of humanity’s free will, predestination, and God’s sovereignty. For many, the origins and purpose of suffering are directly related to the latter, God’s control over all of creation and history. If God is truly “sovereign” then all events in our lives are controlled and dictated by God. God truly is sovereign . […]