John the Baptist and the judgement of Jesus in Matt 3

The lectionary gospel reading for Advent 2 in Year 1 is Matt 3.1–12, and it contains many foundational themes of eschatology, the coming of God, and judgement, which set us up nicely for thinking about Advent not as the build-up to Christmas, but (as it should be) thinking about the Last Things.

This is one of those passages where it is particularly informative to compare the gospel accounts side by side; you can do this with a printed text like Throckmorton’s Gospel Parallels, or online using something like this site from the University of Toronto. The online version is convenient, but the print edition highlights differences more clearly in its layout. 

We can see immediately the different interests of the gospel writers. Luke locates the beginning of John’s ministry in the larger world of the Roman empire, whilst the Fourth Gospel doesn’t explain either John’s ministry or Jesus’ baptism, but assumes you already know about it from reading the other gospels. There is an interesting contrast between Matthew and Mark’s ordering of elements (which I am not sure commentaries pick up) which is striking since, in other respects, Matthew follows Mark quite closely. Mark introduces John the Baptiser in this order:

How Can Christians Think Hopefully about the Future at the Present Time of Crisis?

Tim Howles writes: The French, would you believe, have two words for “the future”. The first is “l’avenir”. This word describes the sort of situation that would likely pertain were things to progress along the trajectory that is currently established. It’s the word we might use, for example, to celebrate the prospects of a young couple … Continue Reading

Living in Hope? The Church of England’s ‘Living in Love and Faith’ project on sexuality

Andrew Atherstone writes: Evangelical friends have challenged me to give an account for my participation in the Living in Love and Faith project (LLF), which is currently advising the House of Bishops on ‘human identity, sexuality and marriage’. After 18 months spent discussing academic papers in four work streams (Bible, Doctrine, History, Science), the report drafting has … Continue Reading