Feb 12 2013

Nehemiah Cleans House

“With this theory of the joke in mind, the final chapter of Nehemiah is holy and hysterical.”

In his book, Deep Exegesis, Peter Leithart speaks of the biblical text as many things, but none is more confronting than his viewing the text as a “joke.” His explanation, however, makes perfect sense. What makes a joke funny? It is either prior knowledge to which not everyone is privy, or a confounding of expectations (which are also based on prior knowledge to some degree). The Bible is full of such jokes, and realizing one is in on the joke is immensely satisfying.

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Sep 6 2010

King Neb’s New Covenant


The Restoration era Scriptures are the most misunderstood texts in the Bible. Our failure to recognise their recapitulation of patterns from the Torah — and the fact that they are not presented in chronological order but by genre — makes it hard for us to put the pieces together. [1] Very often, we miss great ironies because we don’t get the joke.

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Feb 22 2010

Make ‘Em Laugh, Make ‘Em Cry

or Show Me the Tropes


Literary agent Peter Rubie would undoubtedly have read many story synopses, both fiction and non-fiction. His colleague Janet Reid advises that anyone wishing to write a bestseller should read at least two thousand novels before attempting to write their own. Peter gives some helpful advice:

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Jan 5 2010

Eat Local and Die


Understanding the Two Tables

Another thought on Jesus’ “joke” in Matthew 24. In Menu for the the Dirty Birds, I wrote:

“For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” Matthew 24:28

Tabernacles, as the final harvest of the year (grapes and olives), was also called “Ingathering.” Matthew 24 also follows the feast structure (twice), and Jesus uses this factor to make a terrifying joke.

As a holy priesthood, we are to be eaten by the world. But there are two Tables and we often confuse them.

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Sep 19 2009

Menu for the Dirty Birds

vulturesRevelation is laced with the Dominion pattern like brandy through a Christmas pudding. As a literary structure, its identification highlights some interesting things.

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Sep 18 2009

Hermeneutics of Humour

Excerpts from Peter Leithart’s new book, Deep Exegesis: The Mystery of Reading Scripture:

deepexegesis-s“My insight, if such it is, into the workings of humour was reinforced and generalised when I watched Shrek, a movie that I now tell my students is a gold mine of hermeneutical insight. All the funny parts of that film assume that the viewer has information the movie does not provide, information from three main sources: nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and popular culture, especially movies…”

Johannine Jokes

…How does all this apply to our reading of Scripture? Scripture has the same literary properties as the texts we have been examining. Just as Eliot read Dante who read Virgil who read Homer, so Matthew had read Jeremiah, who knew Kings (or wrote it), and the writer of Kings had read the Hexateuch. Let us look at some examples. Let me tell some biblical jokes, again taken from John 9.

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