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Reading the Parables of Jesus inside a Jeepney

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In its first week the book was #1 in Hot New Releases in New Testament Criticism and #11 in the 100 Bestselling Books in New Testament Criticism.  After 30 days the book was #2 in Hot New Releases in New Testament Criticism. And #5 in Hot New Releases in Jesus, Gospels, and Acts.

During its Holy Week Sale last March 22-26, the book went back to #1 in New Testament Criticism, #4 in Biblical History and Culture, and #7 in Jesus, the Gospels, and Acts.

Recent posts

Why "Kingdom of God"?

Historians tell us that Jesus and his band could have proclaimed Family of God
Or Fellowship of God. Or People of God. Or Church of God.
Even Synagogue of God. But they did not.

They instead proclaimed, Kingdom of God.
They also preached Good News to the Poor. Liberation to the Captives.
And Peace based on Justice.

All Anti-Imperial rhetoric.
Subversions of the pillars of the Pax Romana.
Scandalous. Dangerous. Rebellious.

Often, you and I forget that we follow an Executed God.






How to Read the Bible

Many among us grew up singing, "Read your Bible, pray every day, and you'll grow, grow, grow..." The truth of the matter is this: many Christians do not really read the Bible. What we love to read are the devotional guides: The Upper Room, Our Daily Bread, and the like. Actually, many seminaries and divinity schools do not require their students to read the Bible. Go and check their syllabi online.

Students are required to read books about the Bible. Classes in Hebrew Bible or Old Testament require students to read Anderson, Gottwald, Bruggemann, and not the 39 books from Genesis to Malachi. Classes in New Testament require students to read Ehrman, Brown, Levine, but not the 27 books from Matthew to Revelation.

Students of Hebrew and Greek read grammar books and many do not even get to see the actual Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible.

So, we don't really read the Bible because most of us grew up reading other things. But most of us did grow up with the Bible. We gr…

Immanuel (Prayer for Interns)

Dear God, Parent of us all, as we leave this sacred place let us celebrate the promise of Immanuel. Let us not forget that in the fulness of time you left heaven to be with us because no one needs to be alone. No one, ever, deserves to be alone.

And Immanuel only makes sense in relationship.

No one can serve as God's presence to oneself. To be Immanuel is to serve as God's presence to another. Help us remember, it takes at least two people to affirm Immanuel!

As we read our Bibles and pray every day, we will grow, grow, grow in the realization that Jesus was one of a pair. Throughout his ministry. Until his death and beyond. There was always Mary Magdalene.

Mary was Jesus's Immanuel.

As our interns leave the portals of our beloved Seminary, you are sending them out to serve as Immanuel. Being Immanuel is, often,  a thankless ministry. Look at what happened to Mary Magdalene. Historians tell us that the early church had three pillars. Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene. But to…

Los Desaparecidos

We, who call ourselves Christian, should not forget that the One we call Lord and Liberator was a victim of state-sanctioned murder. He was abducted in the dead of night, unjustly tried, beaten, tortured, and executed between two rebels.

Many Jesus Scholars tell us that nobody knew what happened next. There are those who say that his body was left on the cross, to be feasted upon by wild dogs. Others say he was probably thrown into a mass grave. Still others say his body was placed hastily into a borrowed grave.

Paul writing in the 50s never talks about the empty tomb. The story of the empty tomb in Mark arrives at least two decades after.

And the Markan story is clear. There is no body. The women came to mourn, they came for closure, they came with spices. Jesus had disappeared!

Whether we talk about the Philippines, Argentina, Palestine, and many more places in the world, countless cannot mourn or find closure because their children, their parents, their comrades, their teachers, t…

Black Saturday took longer than 24 hours!

That Jesus of Nazareth was executed via crucifixion by the Romans is a historical fact. That Jesus is Risen is a confession of faith. Those of us who went to seminary learned this early in our ministerial formation. John Dominic Crossan has argued that "Good" Friday brought about "Black" Saturday which eventually birthed the "Easter" Faith. And that Saturday was longer than 24 hours. Much, much longer.

Let me explain.

Students of the Bible will discover right away that the writers of the New Testament books have different interpretations of the Resurrection.

Paul has several. First, appearances. The Risen Christ appears to his followers. Next, Jesus's resurrection as the first-fruits of the general resurrection. Third, the Church as the Body of the Risen Christ.

There are no appearances in Mark. Since almost all historians agree that the gospel ends in 16.8, what we have is a young man proclaiming that Jesus has been raised and is waiting in Galilee. …

LAST WORDS

Last words are important to many of us.

Famous last words include Jose Rizal’s “Mi Ultimo Adios” and Antonio Luna’s “P---- Ina!” My late mother's last words to me, when we were in the very cold Emergency Room of the Philippine Heart Center, were: "Anak mainit, paypayan mo ako." My father’s last text message to me was: “Thank you.”

And, of course, the most famous last words ever memorialized would be Jesus’s as found in the gospels: Mark and Matthew have one; Luke has three; and John has three. Many Christians do not read the Bible. We read books about the Bible and parts of the Bible. If the Gospels were movies, the way most of us “read” is akin to watching only parts of a movie, not the whole show. Now, who among us only watch parts of a movie or telenovela--5 minutes of Black Panther or 10 minutes of FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano?

The Gospels are complete narratives. I propose studying Jesus’s Last Words based on that fundamental assumption. In other words, if Mark, Matthew,…