The Mt. Ebal Curse Tablet with Scott Stripling

Recently, I sat down with Scott Stripling to talk about the publication of his team’s work on the discovery of the Curse Table from Mt. Ebal. It was an episode of “The Stone Chapel Podcast.” eHere’s a transcript of my conversation.

Scott Stripling  

Hi, I’m Scott Stripling, Provost at the Bible Seminary and VP of Donor Relations

David Capes

Dr. Scott Stripling, Scott. Good to see you. Welcome back to the Lanier Theological Library.

Scott Stripling  

Oh, David, it’s always a joy to come see you here, my friend. It’s a beautiful place and I think I might just move in.

David Capes  

For those who don’t know Scott Stripling, tell us about yourslef. Who is Scott Stripling?

Scott Stripling  

Well, I’m 60 years old. I’ve been married for 40 years. I have a PhD in ancient near eastern archaeology and a couple of master’s degrees. I’m a sports fanatic. I love my family and love the Lord. I’m addicted to reading the Bible and all the material culture and references that illuminate that background for us.

David Capes  

Well, you’ve been digging up a number of really interesting places in Israel over the last few years. I’d love to at some point, to talk about that. But today, we’re going to talk specifically about an announcement that you made last year at a press conference here at the Lanier Theological Library, about a find that has gotten a lot of attention. What did you announce last year?

Scott Stripling  

Yeah, it was March of last year [2022]. So just a little over 12 months ago we had a press conference here. Believe it or not, over 25 million people watched that press conference. There was a lot of interest and the reason is because it was a small folded lead tablet from Mt. Ebal. And it had what we believe is the oldest Hebrew script in a proto-alphabetic script. So the oldest Hebrew writing ever found in Israel and it included the name of Israel’s God.

David Capes  

Where was it found? 

Scott Stripling  

Okay, let me give you some landmarks. Abram cut covenant with God at Elon Moreh, Moses told the Israelites when you come back into the land and you gain a foothold, you’re going to go to Mt. Gerizim, which is right next to Elon Moreh, and you’re going to renew covenant with me there, pronouncing blessings from Gerizim and curses from Ebal. Joshua built an altar on Mt. Ebal to the Lord: Joshua 8:30. Adam Zertal excavated that altar in the 1980s. We went back and sifted through [the rubble] using a new technology of wet sifting. And that’s where we found this jewel.

David Capes  

So a dig was conducted in the 1980s. There was some refuse from that, because they were digging down and they just didn’t see this [artifact], right? They missed it. 

Scott Stripling  

No, in fact, archaeologists throw away about 75% of the evidence from the small finds. And that was the goal of my project to write a methodological paper and say, we can’t keep doing it the way we’ve been doing it. Because here’s what we’re missing. I had no idea that we were going to find this tablet of great significance.

David Capes  

It seems like everybody wants to find something big and monumental. But in fact, a lot of things over time that were larger, become a bit smaller, with the wear and tear of nature and erosion. But this lead tablet is a fascinating discovery. It was folded, right? 

Scott Stripling  

Yeah, it’s about the size of a business card folded in half, if you can picture that. Made out of lead, which kind of reminds us of Job 19:24. “Oh, that my words were written on lead tablets with an iron pen.” Okay, so it’s a very ancient way of thinking. They’re just gonna write down these words and seal them up.

David Capes  

And once the words were written down and sealed up, what kind of things are on the inside? What does it say? I know you [and your team] have been working on deciphering that. You’re trying to figure that out because you can’t open it up [the folded tablet].

Scott Stripling  

No, we tried and it’s impossible. The lead is now brittle. We had to go to Prague, Czechoslovakia, and use tomographic scanning in a lab there. And using those scans, we were able to recover text on the inside, which then was reinforced by bulges on the outside. So in other words, what we were seeing with the naked eye on the inside of the tablet was confirmed by bulges on the outside of the tablet as well. The first word we got was the word “arrur”, which is the Hebrew word for curse. And at that point, I thought you’ve got to be kidding me. 

David Capes  

So you’re on the mount of cursing. And this [account] goes back to the book of Deuteronomy chapter 26:27. And certain curses are to be pronounced and certain blessings are to be pronounced in this covenant renewal. And this is a particularly important moment in the history of the people.

Scott Stripling  

Well, that’s right. And they build an altar, Joshua 8:30. He says he built an altar to the Lord on Mount Ebal, which is not what we would expect. We would expect the altar to be on Mount Gerizim, the place of the blessing, but it’s on the place of the curse. And I think that’s so beautiful that it’s through the expiation, through the shedding of blood that there’s forgiveness of sin, Leviticus 17:11. And that’s where this tablet came from, was from the altar. So the picture is, here’s these curses first, by God, Yahweh, not by Satan, right? Yeah, you could deal with that. Now this is by Yahweh Himself. You’re cursed, and you will surely die. Now that curse is placed on the altar, and then the shedding of innocent blood covers it. And so the man who will come to the altar then is not held accountable for those curses. It’s the one who won’t own up to his action. So the symbolism is really beautiful.

David Capes  

Interesting. So is there any way to date this? Is there any way to say with any kind of certainty that this is from the 14th century BC or 8th century AD? 

Scott Stripling  

Well, fortunately, our academic peer reviewed article has just been released by Heritage Science. And so if you’re having trouble sleeping at night, just download that and you can read all about it. Yes, there are three ways that we can date this. Number one is from the archaeological context. There were only two strata at Mount Ebal that Adam Zertal excavated, late Bronze Age II and Iron Age I. So there’s only two choices. So either way, it’s older than any previous inscription that had been found in Israel. 

Any Hebrew inscription. Because we’ve got older Canaanite inscriptions. If it’s Late Bronze Age, which is what we argue in the article, then it’s several hundred years older. If it’s Iron Age, it’s still older. The existing ones say the Khirbet Qeiyafa ostracan.  

David Capes  

So for people who don’t know the Bronze Age from the Iron Age. The Bronze Age was first. And then the Iron Age comes later.

David Capes  

Yes, with the transition around the year 1200 from one to the other.

David Capes  

Okay. So you’re arguing [the tablet] is [from] Bronze Age? So 1200, or before.

Scott Stripling  

Yes, 1400 to 1200. It’s in that range. Peter VanderVeen and I believe that it was closer to 1400, Gershon Galil, one of our co authors, feels like it’s closer to 1200. So what we’re saying is, LBII, Late Bronze Age II. And then there’s reasons why one might think it’s slightly older or not. But it’s not only that, we also have the source of the lead, because we were able to chemically test the lead at Hebrew University. And the lead derives from a mine in Greece at a place called Laurion.

David Capes  

Well, that implies imports.

Scott Stripling  

Yes and here’s the thing. We don’t all agree on very much in archaeology, but we all agree that around 1200, the imports stopped. Okay. So what does that tell us? If the lead came from a mine that we know was in use in Greece in the Late Bronze Age and imports to Israel stopped around 1200, ergo, it had to be earlier than 1200. So that’s the second way we have a date. And then thirdly, it’s the epigraphy. The style of writing is unique, and it’s a well known style of writing. It’s just been called proto-Canaanite normally, or proto-Sinaitic. Because they’re using the same alphabet, and Canaanites and Israelites have the same alphabet.

David Capes

It’s like Spanish and English. We use the same basic alphabet. 

Scott Stripling  

Yeah or maybe here’s another analogy. Let’s say I have a Muslim neighbor, and I’m a Christian. We’re still writing in English, right? You can’t tell one religion from another unless we have unique words. So if there was a prayer to Allah or something like that, within the script, then you might know my neighbor was a Muslim. And that’s what we have here. We have the name of God, Yahweh, or YHWH, the three letter spelling, twice. And there’s only one group of people in the ancient world worshipping this God, and those are the Israelites. So three ways: the epigraphy, archaeological context and the source of the lead.

David Capes  

This may well be the earliest evidence for the name of God.

Scott Stripling  

That’s right, in Israel. Now we have an older reference outside of, no I”m sorry, it’s not older. But we have a contemporary reference in Egypt of the Solep hieroglyph in the temple of Amenhotep III. He writes of the land of the nomads of Yahoo, or of Yahweh. So apparently there are nomads who worship Yahweh who have their own land by the year 1360.

David Capes 

And of course, Abraham is a nomad. “A wandering Aramean was my father” as the text says. Well, this is probably changed your life in the last twelve months.

Scott Stripling

Yeah, thanks a lot. I have lost a lot of sleep over this.

David Capes  

So 25 million times it’s been seen.

Scott Stripling  

At least. Maybe as many as 50 million because once things go into secondary media and it gets on Tiktok, I don’t even know how to count things on Tik Tok, but it’s like millions there. And plus the original press conference that we were counting. So we estimate at least 25 million views.

David Capes  

That’s incredible. Well, first of all, congratulations. Second is how do you follow it up? 

Scott Stripling  

Well, you know, now the academic debate begins, okay. And people can look at our research and agree or disagree, give alternate readings. But at least they’ve got good clean research in front of them that they can use as a basis for that. We now want to investigate the outside because we have writing on the outside as well. And so there will be a second academic article. And spoiler alert, it says pretty much on the outside what it says on the inside, but we do need to publish that also. 

David Capes  

Okay. So when you say it’s the same, is it a brief version of the same? Or is it the same length? Is it the same words?

Scott Stripling  

That’s a nice try David, to get that informtion out of me but it’s not gonna work! 

David Capes  

No, okay.

Scott Stripling  

But I will tell you this. On the inside, not only do you have Yahweh Yahu, but you also have El side by side. So the two names for the Hebrew God are side by side, which is very problematic for those who are advocating the Documentary Hypothesis. Because supposedly, those two are hundreds of years apart, right. And we have them side by side. So there’s going to be some theological argumentation, archaeological argumentation on a different levels at which we have to think about this. 

David Capes  

Where do you think the biggest pushback is going to be in relationship to this find and this interpretation?

Scott Stripling  

I think from two areas. Number one is the one I just mentioned. So seminaries that have been teaching the Documentary Hypothesis as a basis for understanding, kind of a paradigm through which people understand the ancient world. This is problematic, and so not everybody’s gonna be quick to say, oh, golly, we were wrong all these years. 

David Capes  

Nobody wants to admit that after teaching, and writing books on it for 40 years. Nobody wants to do that.

Scott Stripling  

And I can understand that. So I think we will get some pushback there. And then from the epigraphic community. It’s a very narrow, you know, people who have this unique skill set of being able to translate these ancient inscriptions. There’s always a variety, take the Khirbet Qeiyafa ostracan, when it came out. I mean, there’s 100 different research angles, well, maybe it doesn’t say this, or it could say that. So we expect that type of thing as well.

Scott Stripling  

No that’s the thing, you’d have to say that it was a forgery. Either we did it or somebody else, you know, left this, this tablet there and it was a forgery or something like that. I laughed when someone suggested that like I’m smart enough to write in proto alphabetic script on lead from Laurion Greece on the planet.

David Capes

So is anybody quibbling over the date of the find at this point, anybody saying no, it really is later.

Scott Striping

No that’s the thing, you’d have to say that it was a forgery. Either we did it or somebody else, you know, left this tablet there and it was a forgery or something like that. I laughed when someone suggested that like I’m smart enough to write in proto-alphabetic script on lead from Laurion Greece on the planet.

David Capes  

A lead that is so brittle that you can’t write on it!

Scott Stripling  

I know! So where there’s two archeologist there are three opinions. And so there will be plenty of opinions. But we just felt like we wanted to be intellectually honest, do our very best research, presented in a highly reputable journal, so that everybody would have it as a historical record.

David Capes  

So has anybody pointed out the fact, that this was not found in situ, this was found in a heap of rubble that was moved off to the side and not seen? That seems like to me to be something somebody would say. Well, we don’t know exactly what level it was.

Scott Stripling  

Yeah, and that’s, a good point, I used to work on the Temple Mount. And for two years, I was a supervisor on the Temple Mount Sifting Project. And so we have multiple time periods from the earliest Paleolithic periods, all the way down to the Mamluk  and even later Islamic periods. Well, that’s problematic. If you’re wet sifting that material. At Ebal, we only have two choices, Late Bronze Age II, or Iron Age I, even though it was found out of context.

David Capes  

You’re already narrow. You’re already a bit narrow compared to what you just described, which could be 1000 years, right?

Scott Stripling  

Right. If that were the case, then that criticism would have more validity. But even if it were Iron Age I, and the script no longer continues into Iron Age I, it would be like saying that Chaucer’s English is still being used in our time or something like that. So, you know, there’s already been a change of script. But even if that were the case, it’s still older than the Khirbet Qeiyafa ostracan by at least a couple of 100 years.

David Capes  

Let’s talk about context. Why did people write these curses on lead texts like this, and then fold them up? What were they trying to do with?

Scott Stripling  

Yeah, that’s a good question. I think it was a titular document, summarizing the curses of Deuteronomy 28 and 29. And there it’s really self inpregnatory. “Cursed are you by the God Yahweh.” In other words, that’s exactly what Deuteronomy 28 says. If you don’t keep my covenant, all these curses will come upon you. So I think it’s a self imprenatory type of a curse.

David Capes  

So a person has, in a sense owned up to that. To being cursed?

Scott Stripling  

Binding himself, saying these are the consequences. I accept those consequences if I don’t keep the terms of the covenant. Which you find the exact same thing in the Abrahamic covenant. So blessings and curses. That’s how Late Bronze Age covenants were cut. There were always blessings and curses. We know of hundreds of these tablets.  They’re called defixios, that is the technical term. But I had never seen them from that earlier time period. I only knew them from later periods. So it’s not like we hadn’t seen it. As soon as I saw it, I knew what it was.

David Capes  

So you knew as a lead tablet and it was some sort of curse tablet.

Scott Stripling  

I knew it was a curse tablet. And I thought, oh, my goodness, it’s a curse tablet from the mountain of the curses. But I’m not aware of them from earlier time periods. So I was as surprised as anyone when the text that we recovered on the inside was a proto-alphabetic script.

David Capes  

Have other curse tablets been discovered from that period?

Scott Stripling  

No. In Israel, no. But in Egypt, yes. But not of the exact style with the folded lead tablet that you have the Execration texts from Egypt. We’ve got curses written on clay tablets. But you have to understand David, Adam’s team missed this. And they were good when they dry sift through everything. And they missed it. My team is also very good. We dry sifted everything again and we missed it. It was only with the new technology of wet sifting, that we were able to then see it and it popped. So, I think there may be a lot of them in dump piles sitting around Isreal.

David Capes  

So you just have to go back and wet sift all those piles.

Scott Stripling  

And that’s my contention to my colleagues. Let’s wet sift before we dump it into the piles, okay, so that we know the context that it’s coming from. Again, that was my motivation for the project. I wouldn’t try to start any controversy other than to say methodologically we can’t keep doing it the way we’ve been doing it because we’re throwing away the majority of the evidence.

David Capes  

So what’s the difference between dry sifting and wet sifting. How do you proceed to do that? What do you mean wet sifting exactly?

Scott Stripling  

So, we set up a portable station that has water that we’re recycling at Shiloh. We have our own water tower, and it’s quite fancy. At Mount Ebal, we just set up a portable tank that had a pump that was cycling water so that we had pressure and hoses. So the matrix, after it’s been dry sifted, then goes and it’s washed like with a pressure hose and cleaned and washed again. And now once the dirt is off of it, all of a sudden, what looked like a rock, is a scarab. See for every one scarab we used to find we’re now finding five and for every one bulla we used to find we’re now finding five. A bulla is a clay impression. So it’s clay that’s been impressed with a scarab or a sealed impression of some kind that has been thrown away. Because when they’re covered with dirt, how’s a volunteer supposed to know what that is? But when it’s washed all the sudden those things pop.

David Capes  

Good role for water out in the desert.

Scott Stripling  

I know. The washing of the water of the word. It brings a lot of things to life. 

David Capes  

That is terrific. Well, there’s an academic discussion now that is beginning. And will continue for a number of years. Is there ever going to be consensus you think, on what this text is and what it means.

Scott Stripling  

I think the person, in this case me, the lead archaeologist and the lead author on the article, always has the advantage, the home court advantage. Because we’re the ones who set out what it is. And even those who disagree, the majority will always go back to either agree with, or disagree with, or cite our original research. You had Yossi Garfinkel here at the Lanier Theological Library, here a couple of years ago. Well he’s the one who excavated the Khirbet Qeiyafa. I think it’ll be exactly like that. You’ll have Yossi as the first one who published it. So people will always go back to his original reading but say maybe it could also mean this or mean that. But they’ll have to refer to his research. I think it’ll be the same thing with this.

David Capes  

So you’re team is the starting point. And you had a team, not just you. You have a team from Israel, from Eastern Europe, as well in Germany.

Scott Stripling  

Germany, Czechoslovakia and Israel. So two epigraphers, I didn’t want just one. You know, I’m sticking my neck out pretty far on this thing. I don’t want just one epigrapher to tell me what he’s seen here. I want two different ones. One’s Christian, one’s Jewish. One’s European, one’s Israeli. I want them both to tell me that they’re seeing this and then I have to agree with them before we’re gonna move forward on it. So that was helpful to have two good epigraphers,. And then of course, the scientist in Prague where we were counting on them to give us high quality scans. Because I mean, what were we going to do without the scans?

David Capes  

Without being able to see inside because it is folded?

Scott Stripling  

Don’t we live in an interesting time to be able to do that? Yeah. even if Adam Zertal’s team had found this, they wouldn’t have been able to do anything with it.

David Capes  

Back in the 1980s exactly. So if people want to learn more about this particular find, how can they do that?

Scott Stripling  

Okay, Heritage Science is the journal, and so they can go to the Heritage Science site. It’s one of the Springer Journals and it’s open access. So anybody can download the article there for free. Doesn’t cost them anything. And then we will have a number of other more popular level articles that are coming out in the near future as well.

David Capes  

Very good. Dr. Scott Stripling. Thanks for being with us today on The Stone Chapel.

David Capes  

It’s a real joy to be with you. Thank you David.

In the Form of (a) God, Pt 2

With Andrew Perriman

To hear the podcast click here.

This discussion is more technical than most we get into, but hang in there and think a few new thoughts today.

In the Form of a God is a new book by Dr. Andrew Perriman.  It is part of series edited by Mike Bird, David Capes, and Scott Harrower called Studies in Early Christology (Cascade). 

Perriman  joined David Capes by Zoom from his home in London for two episodes of “The Stone Chapel Podcasts.”  Here is part 2.  If you haven’t heard part 1, go back and listen to that episode here.

Who is Andrew Perriman?

Andrew Perriman is a researcher and writer on topics related to eschatology and Christology. He is Associate Research Professor, London School of Theology, and spends part of his time in pastoral work around the world.

He also works with a mission organization, Communitas.  As he says, he inhabits two worlds.

Details about “In the Form of A God”

The subtitle of the book narrows the subject of the book The Preexistence of the Exalted Christ in Paul.

Many scholars believe that Paul, our earliest Christian theologian, already held to the notion that before Jesus was “born of a woman” (Gal 4:4-6), he existed in heaven as a divine being “in the form of God” or as Perriman prefers “in the form of a god” (Phil 2:6). 

His book asks the question: did Paul believe in the pre-existence of Christ?  And if so, to what extent?

The Philippian Hymn (Phil 2:6-11)

Perriman has an interpretation of Phil 2:6-7 that is at variance from many scholars. First, he does not regard it as a hymn. He considers it an encomium, that is, rhetoric designed to praise a human being. 

Second, he thinks it unlikely that Paul wrote it.  Rather, Paul approves of it because he incorporates it into his letter.

Third, he focuses upon the phrase “in the form of (a) god” to demonstrate that the backdrop of this passage—at least the first verses of it—comes from a pagan background that is accustomed to god’s appearing in human form. 

Jesus appeared in his ministry as a godlike figure.  It is generally agreed that morphe, that is, “form” refers to an outward appearance not the essence of a person or thing.

Seize the Opportunity

The other key word in this passage is harpagmos, which Perriman regards as an opportunity to be seized. Perriman follows the case made by Roy Hoover in 1971 (see details below). He believes, the most likely reference goes back to Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. The godlike man was presented with an opportunity to have the kingdoms of the world, and he turned it down.

Essentially, the passage (Phil 2:6-11) poses the question: how should a Gentile, a pagan understand Jesus? 

The second half of the hymn or encomium is thoroughly Jewish because ultimately everything, every creature will bow down to the Jewish God, Creator of the heavens and earth. This is a strong allusion to a passage from Isaiah 45.

Finally

In the end Perriman regards this passage not so much as a hymn with a preexistence Christology. Rather it is rhetoric designed to make Jesus an example of humility and wisdom, a person worthy of imitation.

Agree or disagree? Leave a comment below.

See Roy Hoover, “The Harpagmos Enigma: A Philological Solution,” Harvard Theological Review 64 (1971) 95-11.

Here are more resources for you.

Check out more Stone Chapel Podcasts on some great topics here.

What’s more, you can get information on upcoming lectures at Lanier Theological Library. Just click here.

“In the Form of a God” with Andrew Perriman

Here is a transcript of a conversation I had with Andrew Perriman recently about his book, In the Form of a God: The Pre- Existence of the Exalted Christ in Paul.

David Capes

Dr. Andrew Perriman, it is so good to see you. Thanks for being with us today on The Stone Chapel Podcasts.

Andrew Perriman

Oh, thank you for the invitation. It’s a pleasure, David.

David Capes

For those who don’t know Andrew Perriman, who is Andrew Perriman?

Andrew Perriman

Yeah, it’s a good question. Thank you. I think I’m primarily a writer, rather than a teacher. I do a fair bit with the London School of Theology now. But we’ve moved around the world with overlaps of my career, our careers, my wife and her work. So, the opportunities for teaching are limited, but I certainly had a pastoral work in various parts of the world. And I’ve done quite a lot, you alluded to, with a mission organization called Communitas, mainly in Europe. But that’s interesting to have these sort of two worlds to inhabit, and then try and work out what happens between them. Trying to do mission, particularly in the European context, after centuries, millennia of Christian Europe, how do we do mission now?

David Capes

Well, you have contributed greatly to our understanding and are contributing to that of Christology. The title of the book is In the Form of a God: The Pre-Existence of the Exalted Christ in Paul. It is part of a series that I edit along with Mike Bird and Scott Harrower called Studies and Early Christology. You’re looking at things in fresh ways and interesting ways. And ways that might go against the grain of where some scholars are, in terms of our understanding of Paul. If there is truly pre-existence of Christ in Paul, in what sense, would that mean, and you ask a lot of the right questions in the opening chapter. So, if you could summarize it, what is the big idea of your book In the Form of a God?

Andrew Perriman

Yes, that’s interesting, isn’t it? Because if you set out to address the question of, did Paul think that Jesus pre-existed, that’s not so much a big idea. That’s just asking a question. And what sort of answer do we get out of it? You can get to the answer. Obviously, some people get there very quickly. You can take a long time to get there. I didn’t want it just to be about this question of pre-existence. I come at this from a particular interest. Nobody mentioned that, that very big narrative that we tell about the life and the mission of the church over the centuries.

But more particularly much of what I’ve done in the past has been on New Testament eschatology. So, it’s thinking, what is the story that Jesus thought he was part of? What has brought them to that point? And where is it going next? The same for Paul and the same for Revelation, the whole of the New Testament. So that’s where I come from. So then, I mean, I think if there is a big idea, it has to do with the relationship between Christology and eschatology, and somewhat turning that on its head and giving eschatology the priority in this. Whereas from the perspective of the traditions, the various sort of theological traditions, we are more likely to begin with Christology. And assume that somehow eschatology is an account over time of the implications of the Christology. As you know, this is my personal approach to the thing and I think for good New Testament reasons, good, biblical studies reasons. It makes sense to ask well, what is Paul saying about Jesus with an overarching storyline in view? I made that point in the introduction of my book that Gordon Fee begins with the person and work of Christ. And if you do that, then the first thing you think about is salvation. That is what the person of Jesus, the mission of Jesus was all about. My approach, my core presupposition would not be that. It would be that Paul expected something to happen in the future that would dramatically radically change the shape of his world. So, if that’s so, let’s approach this question more from that point of view.

David Capes

Is there a sense in which that event or those events had already happened for Paul? Because he does talk about new creation. We’re living in this new creation. So, is that expectation future or is it present? And is there a realized eschatology in Paul?

Andrew Perriman

There’s a couple of things there. I mean, that’s big!

David Capes

Those are the big ideas!

Andrew Perriman

I think kingdom is more important, much more important to Paul than some scholars allow. He doesn’t use Kingdom of God language in the same way that Jesus does. Or to the same extent, clearly.

David Capes

But he does talk about life. And he talks about abundant life, life in the Spirit, those kinds of things. It seems to me he uses life language in kingdom ways. He talks a lot about life and entering into life. Not to the extent that John does with his language of eternal life phrases.

Andrew Perriman

From Paul’s point of view, everything that comes into that category is in anticipation of [the kingdom]. So, I have written on Romans and the book on the coming of the Son of Man. I take the view that Jesus’ horizon, if you like, is what’s going to happen to Jerusalem and the temple. So much of what Jesus has to say makes sense within that particular horizon. I think for Paul, he’s aware of that. But I think he’s looking beyond that to the impact of the resurrection and the exhortation of Jesus. To the impact that will have on the world that he sees when he takes that gospel message out into the Greek and Roman world, potentially as far as Spain. He programmatically begins with Jerusalem and extends his missionfrom one end of the empire to the other. There is very much in Paul’s mind this view that he is taking this proclamation about a future outworking of the implications and the significance of not just the resurrection, it’s not just about life, it’s life for the purpose of Kingdom. So that the one who is raised from the dead is seated at the right hand of the Father. And therefore, you know, the author has been given the authority to judge and rule over the nations. You know everything that has happened, and that is working itself out in the experience of the apostles, in the experience of the churches, is for the sake of some sort of future consummation. Paul’s thinking in more political terms than in final renewal of creation in the sense that we see that the end of Revelation.

So, I think he takes very seriously the circumstances of God’s people in the Greek and Roman world. And he’s looking for that whole situation to be turned on its head, a judgment on the pagan system, a judgment on idolatry. That’s there in the beginning of Romans. I think Luke picks up on it in Acts 17. And instead, the nations of the Greek and Roman world, the nations of the oikoumene, will confess Jesus as Lord. This is not a widely accepted view, and I recognize that, but I think we can be as realistic about Paul’s eschatology in that sort of historical sense as we can about Jesus. Not denying that there is something beyond in a final renewal of creation. But Paul, like Jesus, like the prophets, has his focus, his eyes on a somewhat near horizon.

David Capes

The theo-political horizon in a sense. So, it’s about God in politics, God and kingdom more so than politics.

Andrew Perriman

So, looking back on it from where we are, we might want to say, and you have to sort of approach this rather carefully, but the conversion of the Roman Empire in historical terms is a very messy reality. In that fulfillment of the recognition that the God of Israel, the God who created all things is given to his Son, that supreme authority over the nations.

David Capes

And that authority given, is that given at the resurrection, at the exaltation? Is that given at the eschaton, and in the final things?

Andrew Perriman

I think it’s there with the exhortation to the right hand of the Father. When Israel’s King is seated at the right hand of the Father (this is Psalm 110 or it’s Psalm 2), He receives the nations as an inheritance or sit at my right hand until there’s a future prospect there. Certain things will work out in the course of this reign as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15. Very clearly. So yeah, that’s the basic approach I take, then

come back and look at this question these quite key texts that have been used to demonstrate in an argument for the pre-existence of Jesus in Paul’s mind. And look at those texts again, and see if they look any differently in light of that type of narrative story. Because I think eschatology in Paul’s mind is more significant than the Christology almost. At least he’s doing other things with Christology than trying to sort of understand the relationship between the Son and the Father. What he’s concerned about is what does this relationship have to do? How is that going to play out in the future?

David Capes

I see. Very interesting. So, you look at a number of texts here in the book. Early on, you look at the sending of the Son texts, and very quickly, what is your approach on that? When it says God in the fullness of time God sent forth his Son born of a woman, born of the law, etc? How do you look at those texts, the sending of the Son?

Andrew Perriman

Part of it is in the fullness of time. And so go back to the beginning of Galatians, you have that phrase in reference to the present evil age. Part of my argument, there’s a tendency to think that the present evil age is human history because humanity is subject to evil. We sin and everything else. I think Paul is thinking in much narrower terms of the present evil age that Israel is going through, under Roman occupation, perhaps since Antiochus Epiphanes. So, since the Europeans, the Greeks and the Romans have come in, and made life extremely difficult for his people, and his people have not done a particularly good job of dealing with that. That would be the focus so that in the fullness of time is partly bound up with what’s happening with the law. So that text doesn’t take a broad and universal framework. I think the time frame is quite narrow. He’s looking at, what has God done at this time? And then it just seems to me, you look at the use of the language there, the sending out language is so widely anticipated that there’s plenty of that in Scripture and elsewhere, in Greek texts, or Jewish Greek texts. You send out the prophets, you send out the Kings, to do something. You send out Moses in particular, using the same Gree word apostellein. So, I think the thought there is that Jesus has been sent to Israel at the right moment, to rescue Israel from the catastrophe that is coming upon it in this present evil age.

David Capes

So, the analogy would be closer to God sending Moses to do God’s will, rather than as a pre-existent being, who enters into the world, and has this mission that is very eschatologically, kingdom focused.

Andrew Perriman

That’s right. And it’s the argument in Galatians that’s relevant, obviously. Because he’s being sent out, he’s bringing to an end the rule of the law over His people, which began with the sending out of Moses. But the other point to make that David is one of the core ideas in the book is to keep in mind that Paul is saying these things in the context of the mission to the around the Aegean nations, Asia minor and around the genomic Greek cities. And he’s proclaiming to people as a resurrected Lord, a spirit figure, someone who exists, is invisible in heaven, or is a spirit body in heaven so that for Gentiles, especially, but also for Jews, they are coming to believe in someone who was a genuine human person. The Gentiles begin with the Spirit. And that’s what Galatians is all about. You begin with the Spirit. You worship a Lord who has been revealed to Paul himself from heaven. They encountered the same risen Lord. They experienced their relationship with the risen Christ is experienced through the Spirit.

There are reasons why I think, he needs to fill in the backstory to that. One is to connect it with the story of Israel, clearly, because it’s being challenged by whoever these Judaizers are. He needs to account for the fact that he is saying that all this is going to come about through a persecuted and executed Messiah figure. And he needs to talk about suffering, the apostles experience of suffering and the church’s experience of suffering and to tell them that Jesus went through this first. So, although you’re meeting him, you’re encountering him, you’re calling out to him, and perhaps even in some sense, worshipping Him. All this is a spirit figure who is now seated at the right hand of God. But he was born of a woman. He was born under the law. He started where you are. I think that’s part of it. And then the Romans passage where Christ comes in the likeness of sinful flesh. I think again, the contrast is slightly different in this case. But it’s still looking back from that perspective rather than trying to sort out what came before. And I argue in the book that Paul is reflecting on the fact that the Jews looked on him as a sinner, this likeness of sinful flesh. He’s not contrasting so much whether Christ had an ideal preexistence in heaven, but if you’re going to send a messiah, why is God sending one who has been executed as a sinner? I think that there are ideas in the wisdom literature that, help us understand that. The righteous man who suffers is persecuted and looks like is dismissed by everyone as a sinner.

David Capes

We’re talking to Dr. Andrew Perriman about his book In the Form of a God: The Pre-Existence of the Exalted Christ in Paul. We’re going to do another podcast. So, stick around for that. We’ve talked today about his approach, and about the language of the sending of the Son and where that fits in to Paul’s big story. But we’re going to look next at an important part of the book that is Philippians 2, what is sometimes referred to as the Christ hymn. He has a different perspective than many scholars on that. So, watch for that next. Dr. Perriman, thanks for being with us on part 1 of this interview on the Stone Chapel Podcasts.

Revelation for the Rest of Us

Recently, I sat down with Scot McKnight and Cody Matchett to talk about their new book, Revelation for the Rest of Us for “The Stone Chapel Podcast.” Here is a transcript of that conversation.

Episode 139 Revelation for The Rest of Us with Scot McKnight, Cody Matchett and David Capes 

Scot McKnight   

My name is Scot McKnight and I’m a professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lisle, Illinois,  in the western suburbs of Chicago. 

Cody Matchett   

And my name is Cody Matchett. I am a PhD student in New Testament and a pastor from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 

David Capes   

Dr. Scot McKnight. Cody, as well. Good to see you both today. 

Scot McKnight   

Good to see you. 

David Capes   

Thanks for being a part of our conversation. We’re going to be talking about a book that you guys have done together. And I’m always fascinated by how the process works, because I’ve done some books with other people. It’s entitled Revelation for the Rest of Us, A Prophetic Call to Follow Jesus as a Dissident Disciple. Interesting title. It’s published by Zondervan press, and it’s a recent publication. First, congratulations on the book. Let’s talk a little bit about your collaboration. How did you guys come to collaborate on this book? Cody, let’s start with you. 

David Capes   

Yeah, I, like many other students, came to Northern Seminary to work with Dr. McKnight. And upon my arrival, I had taken a few classes. And then Scot invited me to be part of this project with him. It was in the early stages at that time. And so, he invited me to be a part of it. And of course, said yes, without knowing anything else about what the project would entail. 

David Capes   

Scot, tell me a little bit about your invitation to him. 

Scot McKnight   

Cody was my graduate assistant, actually. He was working with me and I think he was working with Vijay [Gupta] at the same time, or then started working with Vijay. Because he was an outstanding student that we had, and he could do Greek and Hebrew very well. And loved studying the Bible. As a TA, I was writing lectures for a class based on years of wanting to say something about the book of Revelation, and then I would pass stuff on to him. And then I taught the course. Cody taught some of it, but I sent the notes to him all the time. And I told him, I said, I think we’ve got a book here. So, I said, soon as the class is over, I’m gonna start writing or as soon as my lectures were prepared. I think by December 1, I was already writing, and I would pass it off to Cody. And then after a while, I’m not sure that we sent a proposal to Zondervan, apart from the whole manuscript, but I think maybe we did. They gave us a contract. And then we started writing and went back and forth the way co-authors do and Cody added this and then I would add this and he wrote some of the sidebars. And that way, I can always say, if someone disagrees, I can say Cody wrote that! 

David Capes   

I disavow any knowledge of that, right?  I just I don’t know how that ended up in the book! Well, it’s a great book. Let me just say this. And you know, Beth Allison Barr said, this is “the most powerful interpretation of Revelation I have read.” That is high praise. High praise indeed. And so let me ask this, Scot it sounds like you and I heard some of the same sermons and saw some of the same movies, like “A Thief in the Night.” And we were scared to death and read some of the same books at the time. But that was what you guys call a speculative view of Revelation. Unpack that a little bit for us.  

Scot McKnight   

Well, David, I don’t know if you had the experience I had. I remember as about a 10 or 11 year old, I was in my driveway. Running hurdles. My dad was a track coach. So, I was always doing stuff with the hurdles. And it was getting darker and darker. And my parents weren’t home and my sisters weren’t home and I thought the rapture occurred. I thought I was left behind way before Tim LaHaye used that expression. So, I grew up in that. But the question whether we had the same experiences, did you read Salem Kerbband’s Guide to Survival? 

David Capes   

No, I didn’t. I didn’t read that one.  

Scot McKnight   

He was Hal Lindsay before Hal Lindsay became Hal Lindsay. And he wrote this book on a guide to survive the tribulation if you didn’t get raptured. And it was just sort of a graphic discussion of the whole book of Revelation and I bought it hook, line, and sinker. My parents thought it was good. My youth pastor thought it was the best thing going. And then I had a kind of an awakening, illuminating experience, enlightenment in college. When I first encountered other interpretations of the book of Revelation, I think. By the time I got to seminary, I was no longer interested in the rapture, and the book of Revelation questioned like that. And it was my PhD work of reading through all the Jewish apocalypses that convinced me that that sort of reading of Revelation, which is so literal, fails, ultimately fails, miserably in the book of Revelation. 

David Capes   

Well, Cody, tell me a little bit about your experience starting off. And I don’t know if this is true, it’s just an observation, is that when we’re younger, we seem to get caught up into the eschatological stuff more. And then as we get older, we move away from that. It’s still important, but it’s not as important as it used to be. Cody, what about your experience? 

Cody Matchett   

Yeah, I’ve noticed a bit of a generational divide and gap on this question. And Scot and I actually chatted about this quite frequently. I didn’t grow up in the church. And so, you asked me if I’ve read the book of Revelation. Because when I first came to church, I was like, I don’t know what that book’s about. But the way people talk about I knew it can’t be right. I mean, I was able to recognize that pretty early on. And so, I had the experience that I’ve noticed with a lot of my younger students now. Which is my students just don’t want to read it at all. They have no interest in eschatology, because they know that the people who are speculating about this plague is COVID-19. And this is a B 52 Bomber, which are ancient history now. And that sort of approach. They could recognize that that speculation approach, speculating with the sign at the time, is not the right way to read it. And so, for them, they would rather have a form of silence at this point. I don’t know what that book’s about, but I don’t really want to talk about it. And that was probably my experience for quite a while. I know that something’s wrong. But I don’t know the right way to read it. And so, then I throw my hands in the air and say anything after those speeches to the churches from Jesus,-I don’t know about that stuff. That would have been my former approach. And I see that in a lot of young students. 

David Capes   

 You guys describe four different kinds of perspectives. One is the preterist view, which says, basically, everything was written to, for, and about the first century, and maybe we can read it with profit, but it’s really about the first century. And then there’s a historic view which views revelation coming forth in the ages of the church. And then there’s the idealist view. There are other views as well but where do you guys fall on that, Scot? 

Scot McKnight   

Well, the way I like to talk about those four views, is they’re framed by the time of when this stuff is happening. Did it happen in the first century? Is it going to be futurist and happen in the future? Is it all the time, I think this confuses the book as an apocalypse. I don’t think it’s that predictive the way people talk about it. So, I call the views that we’ve articulated, a Theo-political hermeneutic. That it teaches us how to think about the politics of our world, in the categories of how God sees it. But I like to think that I’m a preterist, who sees the text as having a timelessness about it rather than an idealist because I think it was definitely written to seven churches in Western Asia Minor in the first century. And that Babylon is Rome, of the first century. So, it’s really anchored in that time, but it has this sort of cosmic vision that transcends time as well. So, I’ll say it is a timeliness. That it becomes a timelessness. 

David Capes   

That’s a good way of saying it. If you read it as a speculative thing, futurist only, then the people who first received it are left scratching their heads. This means nothing to me, right? I have no clue what any of this means. But if you’re able to see it as ciphers of what’s happening in the Theo-political realms, or in the political realms, at least, there’s a call to them for that. So, to read it well you say you’ve got to read it Theo-politically. And you’ve got to see God in part of that politics. I heard one time that politics participates in the modest dignity of the penultimate, which is a really interesting way of thinking about politics. I think I read it in First Things, but it’s talking about the importance of politics, but it’s always penultimate, to the ultimate, and it can only impart to us a kind of modest dignity. It can’t impart to us any kind of long-term dignity. It’s a beautiful statement. But as you think about the book of Revelation, does that ring true for you guys? Some statement like that. That politics participates in the modest dignity of the penultimate. 

Scot McKnight   

I think that’s what Revelation is actually doing; it’s describing Rome as Babylon as a corruption. Giving a divine perspective on Rome, in order to understand that that sort of government has to go down, before justice can come, and then you will find a new Jerusalem, which sort of forms a utopia. It’s not long enough to give us much vision of the utopia, or the passages aren’t. But it sketches, the erasure of injustices in Babylon, in order to give the vision of New Jerusalem. So, it sounds like First Things and it sounds like a justification for participating in politics more than I would do. Yeah. But there is something really helpful about that statement, 

David Capes   

One of the things you talk about is how necessary government is. No matter what government we have, governments are certainly necessary to human society. And yet governments are almost always prone to some kind of corruption that is deep and wide. But what I hear you saying is that we ought to look beyond that, and we ought not as Americans particularly, or Westerners, in general, to give too much credit to those who are our politicians. They can only do so much. And very often what they do is the wrong thing, or a selfish thing or a corrupt thing. Because they do something good, and then they turn around and do something that’s not so good. Cody, does that ring true for you? 

Cody Matchett   

Yeah, I think it does. I think it’s really easy for our eschatological hope, the hope of the New Jerusalem, the erasure of evil, these things that Scot mentioned, I think that for a lot of younger Christians, at least in my country, in my context, there is not only an abandonment of eschatology, but actually an abandonment of the church in this belief that politics will save. That actually, this kind of social amelioration project will bring about the New Jerusalem. And the sad irony at times is that sometimes what we’re doing is we’re deeply believing that we’re building the new Jerusalem, but we’re actually building the new iteration of Babylon, while we are celebrating the fall of a former iteration of Babylon. And we don’t have the apocalyptic vision to see it for what it really is.  

Scot McKnight   

We should have written that up! 

David Capes   

I started to say that needs to be written up! You know, what we’re seeing in the West is this acting out of the sayings “you have to fight fire with fire.” One side has to fight the other side with political drama. “If you can’t beat them join them.” We’re always being enjoined to participate in Babylon, in a sense, and do it the Babylonian way. But that seems to be the opposite of the vision, Scot, that I hear you guys portraying with Revelation. That, in fact, Babylon has got to be completely and totally dismantled? 

Scot McKnight   

Well, okay. The second half of the first century was the church’s opportunity to explore how the church was going to relate to the powers of this age. So, let’s just say from late 30s on, Paul begins to get into this situation in the diaspora. And at first, you know, they could just kind of meld into the local synagogue and just kind of carry on the synagogue’s relationship. But in the pages of the New Testament, I think we see four different visions of how to relate to the state. Jesus has a riddle:  

“Give to Caesar what Caesar’s and to God what’s God’s.” And some days, I think I know what that means. And other days I don’t. But Paul has a Romans 13 that I think is accommodationist for a missional purpose, and probably a I think, a critique of zealots. But nonetheless, it’s a sort of, just stay out of trouble, so that we can do what we’re called to do.  Let’s go to First Peter. Peter says we need to become more activist in 1 Peter chapter 2:11-17. We need to be more activist in doing good in public in the public sector. I mean, he uses this Greek verb agathopoiein (do good) quite often and its noun form, and that’s public benevolence.  

David Capes 

To do good.   

Cody Matchett   

To practice the good.  

Scot McKnight   

Yeah, but it’s public benevolence and in Bruce Winter’s excellent book, Seek the Welfar of the City, he gets into this. But then the Pastorals use the Greek word eusebeia, which is often translated “godliness” But Chris Hocklatavi has made a good case that this word means “civilized piety” or “a socially respectable religious practice.” And so here in the Pastorals we’ve got, Paul probably still saying, I’m a little bit more advanced than Romans 13. Now, we’re learning in the Western Asia Minor that we got to act like this. We got to conduct ourselves in ways that are acceptable and respectable. And then Revelation says, “I’ve had it and we’ve got a burden to place down.” 

David Capes   

Which came first right!? 

Scot McKnight   

I think Revelation was later than anything else, in the New Testament. But I do think that John has realized that Babylon creep is going on in the church. And we got to sit hard on this. And when John chose to write an apocalypse, he chose in a sense to get himself in trouble with post-moderns today, because it’s so either-or, it’s so black and white. It’s so, you’re in or you’re out. It’s so much judgment of God. But you know, you can’t really blame John, for doing what apocalypses do. What he chose, right? And apocalypse? 

David Capes   

That’s right. So that was the genre that he chose, and you’ve read enough to know exactly how those kinds of symbols work within the world of the apocalypse. If there’s any particular takeaway from the book, what would you want it to be? Scot, we’ll start with you. And then Cody.  

Scot McKnight   

Yeah, I think it’s very important. And I think we have quite a bit about this. It takes a while for us to want to get to where it is because we want to lay the groundwork for understanding how to read Revelation. But to me, John, is in a situation where they’re powerless. And the powers are beginning to make their presence felt in the church. And John has sort of three strategies: (a) discern Babylon, and Babylon creep in the church. (b) The second thing is he calls them to be faithful allegiant witnesses to Jesus, which means speaking up and speaking out, confessing your faith, and it means putting your body on the line, it’s an embodied witness. © And the third thing, which I think is the most revolutionary dimension, is he teaches them to worship the lamb. And any act of worshipping the lamb as the King of King and Lord of lords, which is not from Handel (“Messiah”). That’s actually from the Bible. Any worship of Jesus, the lamb, as the Lord and King of Kings, is subversive. So, they learned to be dissidents when they worship the lamb. And here’s what I would say, this is not so true of Canada, because it’s a perfect country. For Cody. 

David Capes   

Yes, kinder and gentler.  

Scot McKnight   

Yeah, the more we worship the lamb, the more perceptive we will be of the presence of Babylon. And I believe the chaos in American churches today is a direct result of its failure to worship the lamb. 

David Capes   

But we’re going to worship services. We’re going through the motions, but the question is, are we truly worshiping when we get there? Is it not a show? Is it not a performance? Finally, I have to ask you about the Barmen Declaration. That is really such a powerful part of the book. Cody was that your idea or Scot was your idea? 

Cody Matchett   

It was Scot’s idea first. Scot sent me an email one day and said what do you think of the Barmen Declaration? I think it might be a good place for us to land this. And I said, I’ll read it. 

David Capes   

I’ve been a while since you had read that probably, right?  

Cody Matchett   

Yeah. I was not quite as familiar with the Barmen Declaration at that moment in time. So, I read it in fact, this last time for a class. I had a class on Revelation this last winter with 30 students and this was for our last class. I had them read the Barmen Declaration. And they really appreciated it. But I’ll let Scot discuss it. 

David Capes   

So, Scot, for those who don’t know or can’t remember or are younger, and don’t know the Barmen Declaration. What was it exactly? 

Scot McKnight   

This is about Hitler’s Germany and the rise of the German church de Deutsche Christen, which was a total conflation, mixture of the church with the state so much so that the state was beginning to overcome the church. And there’s a lot of things to say about this. Karl Barth was the leading voice in the Barmen Declaration where some German pastors met together. And you know, it all has to be tied eventually to the Confessing Church. But they came together, and basically decided that they were going to announce that Jesus was Lord. And that Hitler was not, without getting themselves killed. You know, Barth was put on trial in Germany for his lack of commitment to Hitler. And because he didn’t want to say, a “Heil Hitler” at the beginning of his class, and he gets before the judge, and he expounds the first two commandments. I thought, I feel like we’re in this state in the United States. This was some people with Christian nationalism, with the partisanship of American Christians. They’re either so Democrat, that the Republicans are demons, or they’re so Republican that the Democrats are demons, that we have sold out to the political process. And I thought the Barmen Declaration could provide an outline of the sorts of things we could talk about. And Cody helped with this. As you know, this wasn’t just my text, with Cody adding some footnotes.  

Cody Matchett   

About the Barmen Declaration, I make my joke to say Scot had sent me the email. And then it became this wonderful world within which we could write a chapter. It may sound negative in some ways. But as Scot is articulating, kind of a society of people who are saying, there’s this partisanship, there’s division, there’s compromise, there’s danger. We’re coming around this and we’re signing it. And I think to come back, Scot made all these points about what we want people to walk away with, when they read our book and think about Revelation. And we start with imagination. And I think that is where this goes wrong. I have worked on this with students and with people in my churches. I think it begins with a total co-opting of the imagination. And once your imagination has been assaulted, and I’m working with Walter Brueggemann on this. And in his book The Prophetic Imagination, once your ability to imagine has been so assaulted by the Royal Consciousness, as Brueggemann calls it, you can’t conceptualize any other futures or any other ways of moving forward, other than what that Royal Consciousness wants you to think. And I think that the Barmen Declaration in and of itself invites us into these acts of prayer and worship and confession. To bring us back to as Scot said, worshipping the lamb, that we can discern the powers of Babylon, and our day. 

David Capes   

And that will certainly show the difference between those who are dissidents and disciples, and those who’ve been co-opted by Babylon. I really enjoyed the book. The title of the book is Revelation for the Rest of Us: A Prophetic Call to Follow Jesus as a Dissident Disciple. It’s published by Zondervan. It’s a great book. It’s a book you’ve got to sit with for a while to ponder it. But I think it speaks to where we are right now in the West. So, thank you, Scot and Cody, for being with us today on “The Stone Chapel Podcast.” 

Cody Matchett   

Thank you, David.  

Scot McKnight   

Thank you, David. We’re honored to be with you. 

David Capes   

One of the things I love about doing these podcasts is that inevitably I learn something.  I hope you enjoyed the podcast. For more info about our guests, Scot and Cody, ,check out our show notes. They’re there for you. Subscribe to the podcast. We’d love to hear from you. Leave us a comment and rate us. You know the drill. We’re on Apple and Google and Spotify and iHeartRadio and Stitcher and other places. Thanks for listening. 

“Ruth and Naomi: the vulnerable and marginalized” with Havilah Dharamraj

To hear the podcast (17 minutes) click here.

“Reading Ruth in South Asia” is the theme of a recent lecture at the Lanier Theological Library in Houston, TX (Winter 2023). David Capes, the Director of the library, sat down to talk with our lecturer, Dr. Havilah Dharamraj, on the Stone Chapel Podcast. 

The lecture was co-sponsored by Langham Partnership.

Who is Havilah Dharamraj?  Dr. Dharamraj has her PhD from the University of Durham. She is an Old Testament scholar and academic dean. In addition, she is the head of the department of Old Testament at the South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies (SAIACS) in Bangalore, India. 

She is a Langham scholar whose reputation far and wide is extraordinary.  She is married and has two grown children.

Books by Dr. Dharamraj

Havilah is the author of two important books, the first Altogether Lovely: A Thematic and Intertextual Reading of the Song of Song (Fortress Press, 2018). It is part of a South Asian series in biblical theology. 

The second is Ruth: A Pastoral and Contextual Commentary (Langham Publishing, 2019). It is part of the Asia Bible Commentary. 

Here is what a leading Old Testament scholar has to say about the book:

“This a delightful commentary that deserves a wide readership. The authors combine solid exegesis with a warm and very readable style. Their exploration of the book of Ruth with Asian eyes reminds us Westerners how much closer to the world of the Bible others may be. The illustrative anecdotes from their own Indian world give this commentary a quality that is found in none other.”

Daniel I. Block, DPhil
Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois, USA

Reading Ruth and Naomi

In this conversation Dr. Dharamraj uncovers the message Ruth has for contemporary audiences.  Western audiences can hardly grasp the heart of it because western culture is so far removed from that of Naomi’s and Ruth’s time. But in South Asia, the plight of the widows, the childless, and women remains bleak.  

Ruth speaks in remarkable ways to our disposition toward the least of these and the vulnerable.  

To view the lecture featuring Dr. Dharamraj, go to our YouTube channel or click here. 

If you’d like to watch the panel discussion from the lecture weekend, go to our YouTube channel or click here. 

To learn more about Langham Partnership US click here.

If you’d like a transcript of this podcast, click here.

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For upcoming lectures at Lanier Theological Library, click here.