The First Year of the CHT in Review

Last August, the Center for Hebraic Thought launched its website and began publishing articles and podcast episodes that explore the thought-world of the Bible. We have featured top biblical scholars, offered a workshop, and awarded grants for developing courses related to Hebraic thought. We are excited to see what the next year brings as we grow our efforts and our reach.

Between August 12, 2019 and August 12, 2020, we published 37 podcast episodes and 23 articles. Here is some of our most popular content, along with a few editor’s picks.

3 Most Popular Articles

1. “Should We Repent of Our Grandparents’ Racism? Scripture on Intergenerational Sin,” by Michael Rhodes
Face of a black man overlaid on image of an older man praying in an empty sanctuary

Amid the protests against racism and police brutality in the summer of 2020, Michael Rhodes made a biblical case for intergenerational repentance. He argues that we should repent of our and our ancestors’ racist ideology that has left intergenerational damage on our institutions, psyches, and relationships.

2. “Bowing in the Service of God,” by Avital Levi
Painting of a woman kneeling in prayer at her bedside

Why does the Bible command bowing before God? Avital Levi writes that this act helps us grasp the limitations of our power and knowledge. Thus, this new understanding shapes us to serve God in his endeavors of justice and charity.

3. “Pandemics in the Bible? What the Biblical Authors Might Think about Coronavirus,” by Dru Johnson
An elderly woman's hands

We might be tempted to cite levitical leprosy laws as the biblical response to a pandemic. But instead of pointing to a single teaching about skin dysfunctions, Dru Johnson considers two recurring principles across Scripture to figure out what the biblical authors would think about COVID-19.

3 Most Popular Podcast Episodes

1. “Why Scripture Doesn’t Talk about Law, Religion, or Belief (Joshua Berman)
Person looking up at statue of Moses with the Ten Commandments

We may uncritically assume that biblical authors think of religion, law, and belief in the same way that we do. Dr. Joshua Berman, however, notes that the ancient Hebrews didn’t have the contemporary Western concepts of religion and belief, which involve individualistic intellectual assent to the right propositions. Likewise, the concept of law in the Bible isn’t a clear-cut list of dos and don’ts.

2. “Scripture on Policing in America
Black Lives Matter protest

Dru Johnson and Celina Durgin talk about threads of teaching in Scripture regarding the use of force and systemic racism, as well as practical steps that the Torah and Jesus taught to bring justice into unjust communities. They discuss evaluating police use of force and police–community relations in light of biblical principles, God’s wrath against oppressors, epistemic humility, and how the church can care for the vulnerable.

3. “Is God Perfect? Does That Matter?

To understand God’s nature (including His perfection), we must consider how Scripture reasons. Often, the biblical authors employ poetry, imagery, story, and history to define God. The Rev. Dr. Peter Leithart argues that these literary forms—far from being irrational or anti-philosophical—are rigorously intellectual and potent forms of knowing a God who is personal, transcendent, and yes, perfect.

Editor’s Picks

Why Poetic Imagination Is Necessary to Understand Biblical Prophecy,” by Malcolm Guite
Tree beside an Israeli oasis, waterfall

We cannot adequately understand biblical prophecy without employing the poetic imagination. Malcolm Guite explains that the poetic imagination is that faculty which allows an image to become laden with meaning. Biblical prophecy is full of intricately interconnected imagery, making mere propositions insufficient to communicate its meaning.

The Rational Poet: Appealing to the Heart and the Mind in the Book of Judges,” by Michelle Knight
Jael and Sisera

Fundamentally, poetry is an appeal to the listener or reader to perceive and act in the world in a particular way. The Song of Deborah in the book of Judges demonstrates that Hebrew poetry is an appeal to reason just as much as it is an appeal to emotion, writes Michelle Knight.

Should Christians Keep the Idea of ‘Calling’?
Isaiah 6:1-13 meme

In this podcast episode, Dru Johnson talks with Dr. Eric Smith and Dr. Scott Booth (of Pillar Seminary) about the notion of “calling” in Scripture and some of the problematic thinking about Christian vocation practiced in the church. Instead of always thinking about calling in terms of God’s miraculously revealed will in our lives, perhaps Christians should zoom out a little bit to look at the general commandments God has given us.

Subscribe now to receive periodic updates from the CHT.