A.D. The Bible Continues, Episode 12

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Well, that is a cliffhanger … but not as bad as it could have been.

I’m not even sure where to start this week, so I’ll start with history. Caligula did indeed order that a statue of him be placed in the temple in Jerusalem. It never made it that far; wind of it reached the public, who protested, and the new Roman governor (Pilate’s replacement) refused to install it in the temple out of fear of a rebellion. Sources are hazy on what happens next; some think that the current King Herod, a friend of Caligula, convinced him to forget the idea. The other and more likely story is that Caligula died before he could take action against the new Roman governor. Continue reading

A.D. Music Video

Finally got around to doing this, though it’s been nagging at me for weeks. The lyrics seem to fit, in some odd way, in my mind — the notorious mistakes Ciaphas, Pilate, and Caligula make, contrasted with the real lasting legacy of Jesus and His disciples, who ARE remembered for centuries.

Some legends are told
Some turn to dust or to gold
But you will remember me
Remember me for centuries
And just one mistake
Is all it will take
We’ll go down in history
Remember me for centuries

A.D. The Bible Continues, Episode 11

ad1 I cannot help thinking back to last week, when Pilate told Claudia he was trying to work out how to make Johanna’s death count. He meant, of course, in sending a message – and he did that this week, by showing Claudia her place; but the great irony of it is, her death counted far more than he thought, because it is the breaking point for Cornelius. I wondered, as we progressed from week to week with no indication of weakness in the Roman centurion, how we would reach that point of conversion and it turns out, it’s the simple words of Johanna that does it: “I forgive you.” Continue reading

A.D. The Bible Continues, Episode 10

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God has a sense of humor. Not only did he create wombats, and send Paul to preach to the Gentiles, but He also has keenly orchestrated a situation in my life not so different from what the believers face in Jerusalem. They have a radical teacher in their midst, Paul, who believes Christ fulfilled all the prophecies and makes everything to do with the temple unnecessary. It is now just a pile of stones to him, and he cannot understand how the others cannot see it, or why Simon the Zealot is still clinging to the temple rituals, or why the others want to take part in the ritual festivals and feast days. The old is dead, he insists; the new has come.

But it can be hard to let go of the old, or to accept fully that it is fulfilled. I understand them. I’m there. Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of N.T. Wright, whose views are fundamentally different from American theology, largely inspired by Scofield’s interpretation of scripture. Much of what is taught inside the American Christian church is not, in fact, scriptural and has its roots in tradition instead. On the one hand, what Wright is saying makes sense to me, but on the other, it means divorcing entirely a lot of beliefs that I grew up on, that were a bedrock for my faith. I feel like they are crumbling bit by bit, and letting go of them entirely is scary, because I’m so … used to thinking that way. Continue reading

A.D. The Bible Continues: Episode 9

ad3 I’m so delighted with the series’ depiction of Paul. I really am. Only he could think that being run out of Damascus after creating a riot in the temple was “incredible.” He goes running home to Jerusalem eager to embrace the disciples and Peter, and then is baffled with their inability to get over everything he has done to them in the past. “Don’t you live what you preach?” he asks. Ouch. You have a point there. He really nailed Peter too, while he was at it. “Didn’t Jesus ever have to forgive you for anything?” Um, yes, as a matter of fact, betrayal comes to mind. But poor Peter is really grappling with this. No one can blame him, really. There is only person who was capable of total forgiveness at the drop of a hat, and He, coincidentally, also had the power to look into a man’s soul. All we mere mortals can see is the externals, which leaves us at times with doubt. Is Saul telling the truth? Is this some elaborate ruse to get involved with the disciples only to turn on them when it is advantageous? Is this man cunning enough to plan an elaborate infiltration scheme? He has certainly proven himself single-minded and brutal enough. He threatened Peter’s daughter, he was present in the crowd that stoned Stephen, and he has thrown many into prison, where they are tortured and beaten. As Simon the Zealot put it, “We were accomplishing something before you came along!” Saul stopped their evangelism in its tracks… and now he is one of them?! Continue reading

A.D. The Bible Continues, Episode 8

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Talk about a humbling experience.

One minute you’re on top of the world, with the full authority of the Temple behind you, and a mandate to wipe out the spread of Christianity. The next, you are struck blind in the desert, and must be lead into the city, where you wait three days for someone to come to you.

Reading N.T. Wright’s commentary on Acts recently, he went into how it was a common practice for Jews at the time, during long journeys, to fixate on a mythological vision of God, in the hope that in mediating on it, they might be enabled to see God’s glory. Imagine, therefore, that Saul might have been dwelling on such a vision, on that long, dusty road, only to look up and see—Christ, in all His glory, with an accusation on his lips: “Saul, why do you persecute me?” In a single act, Jesus embodied and fulfilled the vision, and also transcended it, utterly transforming Saul’s life. No wonder it took him three days to recover! Continue reading