Rank #1: Naked Bible 285: Evil and Satan
Evil and Satan with Dr. Archie Wright.
Many listeners will know that the New Testament teaching about Satan underwent a good deal of development during the centuries that followed the Old Testament era. Like many theological concepts that begin in some form in the Old Testament (e.g., sacred space, kingdom of God), the subject of God’s main adversary (among other adversaries) develops over the course of time in the literature sacred to both Jews and Christians. In this episode we talk about that development with Dr. Archie Wright, whose academic work focuses on Second Temple Judaism and Christian origins, particularly in regard to the forces and figures of supernatural evil.
Rank #2: Naked Bible 138: What Day was Jesus Born?
On what day was Jesus actually born? What year? Does the timing matter? Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25, but virtually all Christians know that day isn’t the real birth date of the messiah. While that is certainly the case, has the birth date of Jesus been lost to time, or can it be reckoned. This episode of the podcast explores these questions and provides a solution draw from Scripture, backed by both Jewish messianic tradition and astronomy.
Rank #3: Naked Bible 195: Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday?
There is much discussion online at this time of year as to the presumed pagan origins of Christmas. December 25, we are told, was a date stolen from pagan worship, specifically from the festival of the “Birth of the Unconquered Sun” (Sol Invictus)? Should Christians have Christmas trees? Aren’t trees pagan objects of worship? How should Christians think about, and respond to, such questions? Do these questions have any relationship to the content of Scripture? Listen to find out.
Links and sources:
William Tighe, “Calculating Christmas: The Story Behind Dec 25” Touchstone Magazine (December, 2003)
Thomas J. Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year (The Liturgical Press, 1991)
Aaron Gleason, “How Christmas Baptizes Norse Mythology into Powerful Christian Archetypes,” The Federalist (December 15, 2017)
Origin of the names of the Days
Jewish month names from Babylon
Rank #4: Naked Bible 35: Acts 1:1-11
Most Bible students would say this passage is about the ascension of Jesus to heaven. For sure that’s described, but the passage directs our attention to several points of biblical theology that are simultaneously tied to the OT and look forward to the events of Pentecost described in Acts 2. In other words, Luke isn’t just reporting the ascension—he’s framing the theological context for what he’ll be describing in his second book.
In this episode we’ll see how Acts 1:1-11 makes us think carefully about how the NT writers connected their thoughts to the OT. The passage raises questions about the kingdom of God and eschatology—specifically, whose eschatology are we talking about, and what is the kingdom of God? Rather than filter the passage through theological systems to which we’ve been exposed, we need to allow the OT to guide our thinking about Jesus’ teaching and the events of his life—just like the NT authors did. Discussing these things in the context of the OT passages to which Luke alludes helps us see the beginning of an important biblical-theological motif: the “already but not yet” nature of God’s plan for reclaiming the nations and having a human family to rule and reign with him.
Rank #5: Naked Bible 86: The Head Covering of 1 Corinthians 11:13-15
This episode begins a series of topical episodes following the end of our series on Leviticus. The topic for this episode is the controversial head covering reference in 1 Cor. 11:13-15. The discussion summarizes the material discussed in a scholarly journal article published in 2004 by Dr. Troy Martin entitled, “Paul’s Argument from Nature for the Veil in 1 Cor. 11:13-15: A Testicle instead of a Head Covering” (Journal of Biblical Literature 123:1 : 75-84). Martin summarizes his approach as follows: “This article interprets Paul’s argument from nature in 1 Cor. 11:13-15 against the background of ancient physiology. The Greek and Roman medical texts provide useful information for interpreting not only Paul’s letters but also other NT texts.” The article (and the author’s subsequent responses to criticism, also published in academic literature) presents a compelling case and is, to Dr. Heiser’s knowledge, the only approach that provides a coherent explanation as to why the head covering warnings are important, in the words of Paul “because of the angels” (1 Cor. 11:10). This warning ultimately takes readers back to the incident with the Watchers (sons of God) in Gen. 6:1-4. One of Martin’s concluding application thoughts is also important: “Since the physiological conceptions of the body have changed, however, no physiological reason remains for continuing the practice of covering women’s heads in public worship, and many Christian communities reasonably abandon this practice.” In other words, Paul’s rationale for what he says here is no longer coherent today — but his teaching points are (modesty, sexual fidelity). As such, wearing veils (in church or elsewhere) is a conscience issue, not a point of doctrine.
The nature of this material is overtly sexual, so this episode is for adult listeners.
Rank #6: Naked Bible 93: The Book of Enoch in the Early Church
The book we know as 1 Enoch was well known to early Christians. Its importance produced an understandable question among some influential early Christian writers and, one may presume, Christians in general: Should 1 Enoch be considered inspired and thus “Scripture” in the manner of other books in the Old Testament? Ultimately, Christianity at large answered this question negatively, save for the Church in Ethiopia. But the discussion is nonetheless of interest today. This episode presents an abbreviated survey of how select Second Temple Jews and early Christian books and writers assessed the scriptural status of 1 Enoch.
Google Book referenced:
James C. VanderKam, “1 Enoch, Enochic Motifs, and Enoch in Early Christian Literature,” Pages 33-101 in James C. VanderKam and William Adler, eds., The Jewish Apocalyptic Heritage in Early Christianity (Compendia rerum iudaicarum ad Novum Testamentum 3/4; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996).
Rank #7: Naked Bible 94: The Sin of the Watchers and Galatians 3-4
Biblical scholars know that Paul subordinates the Law to Christ (Gal 3:1-18). He writes about how the Law could not result in the fruition of the promises given to Abraham (and, by extension, to all nations; Gen 12:1-3). Paul then asks “Why then was the law given?” He answers that it was “added because of transgressions” (Gal 3:19). The most common assumption is that this (somehow) means the Law was a response to Adam’s sin, or human sins. But, and Adam sinned only once so far as the Bible tells us. Opting for the law being added in response to human sins doesn’t address why humanity became so wicked that it needed the law. Most Christians would defer to Adam’s transgression at this point, but there is no Romans 5:12 in Galatians (Romans is a later epistle). This episode takes a minority view of Paul’s statement about the addition of the law—at least among Christians. This view, however, reflects the viewpoint of nearly every Second Temple Jewish text (Paul’s era) known to exist that comments on human depravity: that the Law was added to restrain human evil, which proliferated not because of Adam, but because of the sin of the Watchers in Gen 6:1-4.
Rank #8: Naked Bible 254: Introducing the Book of Exodus
This episode launches our new book study series on the book of Exodus! As we do with every book study, this initial episode overviews the sorts of things to expect as we progress through Exodus: difficulties, controversies, and other points of interest relevant to understanding the book in its own context. Specifically, Dr. Heiser talks about how we should think about Old Testament history, historicity, metanarrative, “mythic history,” and historiography.
Rank #9: Naked Bible 211: Was Cain the Seed of the Serpent?
In 1 John 3:11-12 the apostle warned believers, “For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother.” Does this passage mean that Cain was fathered by Satan? The idea is indeed found in some ancient Jewish texts. Is there any evidence for that in the Old Testament account of his birth? This episode of the podcast answers those questions.
Rank #10: Naked Bible 213: Do Good Works Contribute to Salvation?
What is the proper biblical relationship between faith and works? Do good works contribute to salvation? If not, then why should we care about the way we live? Personal holiness is something taught in Scripture, but the desire to please God in our lives often leaves Christians guilty when they fail. Believers begin to suspect God doesn’t love them any longer—or at least not as much. The result is that the clarity of the gospel gets muddled. This episode of the podcast aims to help us think clearly about grace, faith, and works in the Christian life.
Rank #11: Naked Bible 016: Heiser’s Laws for Bible Study: Learning to Study the Bible, Part 1
This episode begins a series on learning how to engage the biblical text in ways that take you beyond merely reading the Bible. Dr. Heiser overviews a popular Naked Bible blog post (“Heiser’s Laws for Bible Study“) as an introduction. You don’t have to be a scholar to learn to engage the biblical text and move beyond just reading the Bible in English. There are tools that will help you penetrate the text, and techniques for reading more carefully.
Rank #12: Naked Bible 104: How We Got the Old Testament
On a previous episode, Mike interview Rick Brannan on how we go the New Testament Testament and why conspiratorial ideas about the Greek New Testament are bogus. In this episode the Old Testament gets equal time. Mike overviews how the OT books were composed, edited, received, transmitted by scribes, and published to the present day (with a little Dead Sea Scrolls conspiracy debunking along the way).
Rank #13: Naked Bible 166: Melchizedek Part 1a
Melchizedek is one of the more enigmatic figures in the Bible. Mentioned in only two passages in the Old Testament (Gen 14:17-24; Psalm 110), he nevertheless drew a lot of attention during the Second Temple Period and the New Testament. Thousands of pages of scholarly research have been devoted to him. Nearly everything said about him produces interpretive problems, from the nature of his name, to its meaning, to his identity as a Canaanite (non-Israelite), to why Psalm 110 favors his priesthood about that of Aaron. This episode and the next (1b) of the podcast focuses on the Old Testament associated with Melchizedek. Later episodes will be devoted to how he was understood in Second Temple Judaism and the New Testament.
“Melchizedek,” Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch (IVP)
“Melchizedek,” Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (Brill, Eerdmans)
Rank #14: Naked Bible 241: Psalms 24 and 29 in Their Ancient Context
The psalms are often thought of as purely devotional. They of course have that value, but they also contain significant theological statements, especially to ancient Israelites whose ears were tuned to specific points of their content. We often miss such things since we are not part of the ancient Israelite world, particularly in terms of the religious struggle with Canaanite religion and Baalism. In this episode we look at Psalms 24 and 29 for how religious texts from Ugarit help inform our reading. These two psalms contain several specific polemical points directed against Baal that modern readers would miss.
Rank #15: Naked Bible 196: Hebrews 10
Hebrews 10 wraps up the author’s discourse on the superiority of the high priesthood of Jesus—a theme begun in chapter five. The chapter revisits how the Torah’s system of sacrifices could not take away sin as it was a shadow of things to come. The author references earlier high points of how Jesus is superior to Torah dealt with earlier. The entire second half of the chapter, though, focuses once more on the chief concern of the author—the reason he keeps telling his audience about the superiority of Jesus to the Mosaic Law—the need to keep believing the gospel so as to not “shrink back” to dependence on their obedience to law (merit-based performance) for salvation.
Karen Jobes article:
Rank #16: Naked Bible 175: Hebrews 1:1-4
Hebrews 1:1-4 sets the tone for the entire epistle. The writer asserts that the revelation given by God through one particular son—Jesus Christ—is superior to Torah. It is Christ who is the full expression of God’s wisdom, and the actual, essential being of God Himself. Since the “inheritance” language of Heb 1:1-4 cannot suggest that God himself is being retired and succeeded, the language needs to be understood in terms of co-rulership. But why is this particular son (1:2) different than all others? This episode explores and expands on these themes and addresses this question by discussing the Old Testament context for the phrases, “the radiance of the glory of God,” Wisdom Christology, and hypostasis terminology.
Rank #17: Naked Bible 225: Introducing the Book of Colossians
This episode opens our new book study on Colossians. Disputes over the book’s authorship and date contribute directly to the major content issue of the book—the nature of the “Colossian heresy.” The so-called “Colossian heresy” is the label used by scholars to describe Paul’s theological opposition in the city and church of Colossae. Elements of the false teaching Paul confronted are reminiscent of Gnosticism. However, the mature Gnostic theologies known to scholars today did not take shape until the second century A.D. and thereafter. Other items Paul addresses are obviously related to Jewish opposition. Could these two theologies be related?
Rank #18: Naked Bible 255: Exodus 1 Part 1
Exodus 1 is short in terms of verse count, but there are a surprising number of items in the text that need some comment—so many that we need two episodes! In this episode we look at the language describing Israel’s condition under bondage in Egypt long after the time of Joseph. We talk about the reasons the biblical author links his description with Genesis 11:1-9, the Babel story; why the description of the bondage is justifiable historical; how the earlier story of Joseph in Egypt could be congruent with Exod 1:11, and how what pharaoh commanded the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, has been regularly misunderstood.
Rank #19: Naked Bible 226: Colossians 1:1-13
We begin our study in the first chapter of Colossians with an eye toward some of Paul’s more important vocabulary. Why does he refer to the Colossian believers as “holy ones” (1:2)? What sort of “knowledge” (1:9) is he talking about? What do the phrases “inheritance of the holy ones” and “domain of darkness” (1:12-13) mean in the context of Old Testament cosmic geography? Is the kingdom of God to which believers belong only future (1:13)?