What is God doing in the beheading of John the Baptist?

Yesterday’s lectionary gospel reading, Mark 6.14–29, felt distinctly odd by any measure. If you are a good Anglican, and ensure you read not only from the NT and the Psalms but also from the Old Testament every week, it will have been less of a surprise. By contrast, if you are into popular culture and have become a fan of the TV series Game of Thrones, or perhaps play the latest generation of video games, then it will not have seemed so strange. But what is the passage doing here, as part of the ‘good news’ that Mark offers us of Jesus, and why does he give so much time to it in his shortest of gospels—much more time than he gives to his description of the resurrection, the efforts of later editors of the end of the gospels notwithstanding?

Reading Scripture with our past, with others and with God

My latest Grove booklet is on How to Interpret the Bible. After exploring the four questions of genre (kind of writing), (historical) context, content and canon, I offer the following conclusion. You might by now be wondering ‘What happened to simple, believing reading of the Bible that I was taught to do when I first came … Continue Reading

How to interpret the Bible

Many ordinary readers of the Bible feel very nervous when interpretation is mentioned. For some, ‘interpretation’ means ‘making the Bible mean what it doesn’t say.’ For others, it becomes the realm of experts who are schooled in complex issues of language and philosophy and threatens to remove the possibility of reading for themselves. They are … Continue Reading

Paul’s Understanding of Resurrection (iii)

Last year, I wrote some reflections for BRF’s Guidelines Bible reading notes, and they have just been published. I contributed my thoughts on texts in Paul’s letters relation to the resurrection. Here is the third and final instalment of what I wrote: 10. Resurrection lives are cross-shaped 2 Cor 4.7—5.5 Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians … Continue Reading

Five essentials of Biblical Interpretation no. 4: content

I previously wrote about the first three ‘essentials’ of biblical interpretation in 2013, reposted in 2016—but never finished this series on reading scripture well and wisely. The first related to reading in canonical context, that is, attending to the place a text comes within a passage, a chapter, a book, a testament and the whole … Continue Reading