The new album uses the titular Bible passages as the merest inspiration, a canvas upon which Darnielle paints very contemporary–yet timeless–portraits of grief, despair, resignation…and inexplicable faith, hope, and love. An example of this is the bouncy “Genesis 3:23″ in which the original verse (”therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken”) provides a proper motif for a more contemporary exile story of a man who breaks into the house where he grew up to confront the ghosts he has carried with him since he left.

Break the lock on my own garden gate
When I get home after dark
Sit looking up at the stars outside
Like teeth in the mouth of a shark

Continue reading….

Manifold Witness

Manifold Witness

Over at my personal blog (The League of Inveterate Poets) I’m blogging through John Franke’s new book Manifold Witness: The Plurality of Truth. Thought that though this blog has been dead for some time, some who still have it in their feed readers might be interested in this book.

I have two chapters posted so far:

Manifold Witness Chapter 1

Manifold Witness Chapter 2

“The problem of bread for me is a material problem, but the problem of bread for my neighbor, for all, is a spiritual, religious question.” Russian philosopher Nicholas Berdyaev


I read this and thought of previous lines of discussion on this blog and with some of you who I know. I thought it was a quote worth pondering (or–can I help myself?–chewing on). Comment at will.

bookAt the Institute for Biblical Research (IBR) meeting this year, I acquired the book mentioned above (for free). Its title testifies to its relevance for the Conn blog, so we’ll do a multipart review, one post for each chapter. For my part, my parents-in-law work with Chinese immigrants, my younger brother works with Latinos/Latinas in IV in southwest Texas, and I live in NYC–just south of Washington Heights no less–and am constantly confronted with the causes and impact of immigration. So how Christians should think through this topic, particularly as citizens of a functioning republic, is something that’s frequently on my mind.

Immigration tends to be a polarizing issue both inside and outside the church no matter what your ethnic or citizen status and in my opinion, like politics, it is one for which we by-and-large lack the theological tools and ecclesiological framework to really address the subtleties of the problems involved, how to solve them, what the Church’s role should be, and how that should differ from the State’s (or really, States’). Therefore in my opinion serious books by Christians with expertise in Biblical studies, Theology, though especially Sociology, Politics, and Law are very much needed: people who not only understand the difficulties attendant in applying the ancient texts to modern circumstances which don’t overlap well, but also people who understand the modern circumstances well enough to know what kind of answers we should be looking for in the first place. (more…)

A while back I posted on various Ancient Near Eastern sensitivities relating to “creation,” temple, “salvation,” etc., talking about the ways Jon Levenson‘s Creation and the Persistence of Evil. had both radically impacted my understanding of the Bible and had jump-started a new subset of my interests in ANE studies and contextualizing our Bible within its ancient worlds. Though this will probably sound arrogant, I recommend reading the earlier related post if you lack familiarity with what Levenson does in this excellent book…

For now, I want to share one of my favorite quotes from Levenson’s Creation and the Persistence of Evil: The Jewish Drama of Divine Omnipotence. In part of the 1994 Preface, which itself warrants the price of the book, Levenson explains how and why he conceives of creation-thought, the persistence of evil, and the drama of divine omnipotence together in this exploration of the Hebrew Bible—how he conceives of these as “theodicy” (redefined) issues within the Hebrew Bible. In the midst of this discussion, on p. xvii, Levenson writes,

My failure to address the problem of evil in the philosophical sense, however, rests on more than my own obvious inadequacies. It rests also on a point usually overlooked in discussions of theodicy in a biblical context: the overwhelming tendency of biblical writers as they confront undeserved evil is not to explain it away but to call upon God to blast it away. (more…)

This is a re-post, of sorts…

Unlocking RomansDaniel Kirk’s new book, Unlocking Romans: Resurrection and the Justification of God, is now available.

Many of the contributors of this blog, and certainly some of its readers, know Daniel Kirk. Daniel is a MDiv graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (2000). He subsequently completed a PhD in New Testament from Duke University’s Department of Religion, studying under Richard Hays, E.P. Sanders, and Joel Marcus, among others. He wrote a fascinating dissertation on Resurrection in Romans, how Paul re-understood and re-told the significance of Israel in the light of Christ. His advisor was none other than Richard Hays, whose writings certainly molded my thought on Paul and the communal significance of Paul for the church more than anyone else’s writings. Daniel started his job as a professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary this Fall.

During and since his time at Duke Daniel has written a fair amount concerning Paul and the significance of recent scholarship on Paul for the contemporary church. He penned a helpful response to Doug Kelly (Professor of Systematic Theology at RTS-Charlotte) on the New Perspective and Reformed Theology for the PCA’s online news site. He also published a two-part article in the Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology (24 [2006]: 36-64, 133-54) arguing for a passive-obedience-only position both as Scriptural and within the bounds of the Westminster Standards. A shorter version of these articles is available online, as are google-documents versions of the original articles (1 & 2), which require some cleaning-up. Many of you have read, and probably frequent, Daniel’s blog. There, when he has time, he has continued to post refreshing communally and missionally-oriented reflections on Christ, the Bible, hermeneutics, and contemporary scholarship. His reputation as a cutting-edge but church-oriented scholar apparently grew enough that he was asked to present a paper on the New Perspective on Paul at last year’s meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. Daniel has written and published other reviews, essays, and articles in more academically oriented contexts as well. (more…)

Ricky Gervais, the boss (“David Brent”) in and also co-writer of the fantastic BBC series The Office, keeps me “havin a laugh” and entertained. Besides The Office, he also co-wrote and starred in another great BBC comedy series, Extras. I highly recommend both.

Months back a friend made me aware of some Youtube videos wherein Gervais works through, if you will, Genesis 1-3, offering reflections. I watch these on a monthly basis, sometimes weekly depending upon my mood.

Beyond being ridiculously funny, these videos also highlight various perennial issues and questions people in our culture(s) have with some traditional Christian positions related to and stemming from Genesis 1-3. So, watch these, “have a laugh,” and enjoy an entertaining encounter with some typical questions people have about various of our more traditional approaches to Genesis 1-3, creation, beginnings, etc… (more…)


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