Tag Archives: Old Testament politics

The Gospel According to James and Wisdom

Bill Heroman and I have been having this conversation on facebook and in person about the Good News in the letter to James.  I have argued thus far that there is Good News in that letter, and that Gospel is found in the First Testament (Hebrew Bible, Old Testament, Septuagint).  I think beneficial to our discussion is to see how we can read the First Testament into the New Testament, and the Wisdom tradition allows us to do that.

Joel provides us with such a reading in James.

“As many of you know, I believe in Wisdom Christology, finding in it the most able and biblical understanding of the nature of Christ. It is historical and historically associated with primitive Christianity. Through this lens, I admit, I generally read the New Testament documents. One of the earliest is the Epistle of James. Contrary to popular and wrong opinion, it is written by a real brother of Jesus – not a cousin or step-brother. James is writing in the Wisdom Tradition, much like that which his Brother stood in earlier.”

Wisdom’s Righteous Man as James’ Example of Suffering and Vindication | The Church of Jesus Christ.

John 12:8 Misinterpreted

John 12:8 is the single most misinterpreted verse in the Bible.

The verse says:

“You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.’ “

Now, there have been some conservative (politically) scholars who suggest that Jesus is telling us to be apathetic towards the needy and desperate, based on this passage.

Persons who prioritize the marginalized in their hermeneutics (liberationists and social justice advocates) agree with this interpretation and correlate Christ as an oppressor.

But these takes on this passage are outlandish, and ignore the Johannine Jesus’s Jewish context.

John’s Jesus frequently makes references to Deuteronomy, and this passage is not an exception.

Deuteronomy 15:7-11

7 If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted towards your needy neighbour. 8You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be. 9Be careful that you do not entertain a mean thought, thinking, ‘The seventh year, the year of remission, is near’, and therefore view your needy neighbour with hostility and give nothing; your neighbour might cry to the Lord against you, and you would incur guilt. 10Give liberally and be ungrudging when you do so, for on this account the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. NRSV

Note that Jesus is quoting a passage about GENEROSITY. If one counts Jesus among the poor, Jesus is actually praising Mary Magdalene for her generosity, loving God with all of her heart and soul, and giving almost a years’ wages to prepare Jesus the Liberator for his victorious death on the cross.

Jesus, because his religion was Judaism, and because his Bible was the First Testament, promoted godly justice and generosity.

Truth and Peace,

Fashion Statements

Are you whatever you wear?

Apparently this seems to be the case.

For the past couple of days, I have been around town, wearing my blue “Got Jesus?” hoodie and some jeans. Nothing too flashy right? That no one will notice. Well, I can tell you, that people; they do notice.  In fact, I was roaming at a local Game Stop just yesterday, and people were telling me, “God bless you” as I was leaving.  Then, later, I was ran into a complete stranger who stopped me, and wrote me a note as he was reading and writing from his Gideon Bible, telling me that I did not know God or God’s Son because  I was wrong for wearing a hoodie with Jesus on it,  since God’s names all started with Y, YHWH and Yeshua. I did not even bother to answer that ridiculous claim.

Then this morning, I was at the Texas Department of Safety, reading Karl Barth’s Epistle To The Romans, and what was the first thing that lady behind me notice? My hoodie, with the words Jesus on it.

This was not the only occasion that this has happened.  I have a lot what my friend Tony calls ‘Go God” shirts.  I am not trying to be legalistic, I just like the message.  I have one that imitates the Transformers logo (Transformed), another one that is a pro-environment/pro-Jesus shirt.  I scare people whenever I wear my army camouflage pants and green Jesus shirt that says “Jesus, army of one,” especially when I add an empty bullet belt. That seems to always get them. 🙂

I’ll admit; when it comes to fashion, I am as big of a dilettante as there will be. I try, but even at conferences, I try to be the scholar activist, wearing jeans and a t-shirt with a message.  You know, in the Hebrew Bible, the Israelites are instructed to wear Scripture on their arms and foreheads so maybe they were on to something (Deuteronomy 6:8 and 11:18).  I guess I’m trying to one up them.

Truth and Peace,