Making [ your nation ] Great Again?

The promise:

Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will fall down and worship me, all will be Yours”.

The alternative:

Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’…
…From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight … but now My kingdom is not from here.”

14 thoughts on “Making [ your nation ] Great Again?

  1. I have a comment for this (following) segment of what the reviewer said:

    The fifth chapter tackles the issue of circumcision in Galatians. This chapter felt like the biggest interpretive stretch to me, but she won me over. Kahl returns to the Great Altar at Pergamon to discuss resurrection. How can the defeated Gauls find resurrection? By submitting themselves to the law of Rome. Circumcision for the Gentiles of Galatia, she argues, is a form of submission to Roman law, because it would give them protected status as Jews, the only religious minority not required to submit to imperial religion. It would be an obedience to the Roman law, an attempt for resurrection and new life in the Roman system.

    This particular viewpoint of hers is shared by Mark Nanos (from whom I learned of her book).
    To wit, see

    Just for fun:

    The Grammarphobia blog explains more about to wit:

    In Anglo-Saxon days, a now-archaic verb “wit” meant something like to know, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The OED’s earliest example of this usage is in King Alfred’s translation of Boethius from around the year 888.

    The expression “to wit,” first recorded in 1320, originally meant “it is to be observed, noted, or ascertained.” Later (around 1400), it came to mean “to be sure” or “indeed” or “namely.”

    The “wit” part of the phrase was written all sorts of ways for the first few hundred years: “wite,” “witen,” “wetynge,” and so on.


  2. I haven’t to have more than a glance at that article, but when it comes to scripture, I have serious doubts about attempts to interpret or re-interpret scripture instead of addressing what is actually there “on the page”. Such methods more or less allow someone to create and justify almost any doctrinal path they choose.

  3. I believe the context (of when something was written) is comparable to when we (like you, I, and Steve) say truth matters… not only disembodied truth or ephemera but facts in daily life. Honesty. Reality.

  4. ……

    [Kahl’s] evidence and her argument are dense and complex, but compelling. It fits within the larger movement of biblical scholars to re-inscribe the New Testament books in their context of the Roman Empire, not just Judaism. By examining the Roman context of art, rhetoric and social status, Kahl connects the first century Galatians to the Gauls, the iconic vanquished people upon whom the Empire was built. The outcome is a reading of Galatians as a radical call from Paul for all subjugated peoples (Galatians, Jews, slaves, women and Others) to unite in the way of love and peace set forth by Christ, over and against the Roman way of power, conquest and violence. This has critical importance for understanding the idea of justification by faith rather than by works of the law. That idea has been a bulwark of Protestant theology and a weapon against Judaism, and it traces its biblical roots to Galatians.

    To put Kahl’s argument simply (and it is not a simple argument), what if the Law that Paul opposes so vigorously in Galatians is not the Torah, but the Roman law that governed every aspect of daily life in the Mediterranean? The opposition that he establishes, then, is not between various ways of following God, but between those who follow the path of violence and conquest as a means to power, and those who subvert the domination systems by forming allegiances among vanquished peoples, not to exact revenge or exercise power, but to show that the Law (of Rome) is powerless over them by living as one community together.

    Kahl arrives conclusively at this interpretation through what she calls a “critical re-imagining.” This critical re-imagining examines the Roman context with breadth and depth—looking closely not just at written materials, but at the wider environment, including rituals, public spaces and works of art. Kahl dedicates much of the book to an analysis of the Great Altar at Pergamon, a giant mythological symbol of the Roman quest for power that she sees as key to unlocking the ideology at work in Paul’s environment.


  5. Kahl arrives conclusively at this interpretation through what she calls a “critical re-imagining.”

    And there’s one problem.

    what if the Law that Paul opposes so vigorously in Galatians is not the Torah, but the Roman law that governed every aspect of daily life in the Mediterranean?

    And “what if” is another problem.

    It takes far too much reimagining, far too many “what ifs” and excessive speculation outside of what scripture actually says ( the stuff about “the Great Altar at Pergamon”) to take Galatians into the author’s chosen direction.

    I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

    Has any NT discussion of “the law” ever been a reference to any kind of colonial law introduced by Rome, Greece or any other invading force? I think the context in Galatians is clear.

    For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”

    Is that referring to a Roman book of the law? Or is it referring to this from Deuteronomy?

    Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law by observing them

  6. If “the Jews” were following Roman dominance (replacing tradition for what the Word says), then they were putting themselves under a curse, claiming to be fastidious (and judging other thereby), but …

    They were called hypocrites.

  7. I have not read this full paper. I have read through the [first?] red section.
    I did a search on Jesus calling people hypocrites.

    Jesus — not only Paul.

    I present this as simply something that comes up easily.

    I don’t automatically write off the asking of “What if?” It’s part of thinking.

    Consider that Herod was considered a Jew, while what he was was a Roman imperialist.

  8. He (Herod) was a convert (to access the possibility of being king in that region). But what good did it do for him to be circumcised (part of being a convert to Judaism itself, supposedly, but also to Rome’s “definition” of being a Jew in their [Roman leaders’] approved system of control)? His circumcision was false (to Torah). [And circumcision isn’t generally necessary for gentiles (if we’re talking about God).]

    On the subject of the altar (at Pergamon): I have, I think it’s two, videos from David Pawson (if they got moved when I moved myself)… one of which is about an altar (not a Jewish one). David Pawson is still on your list of categories to which you link. Should he not talk about that altar, what he thinks? It seems you have referenced his taking about such an altar… years ago, though. You’ve changed your mind?

  9. David Pawson talks about that altar in an appropriate context – that is the letter to the church in Pergamos (Rev 2).
    Pawson notes that the altar has the shape of a large throne, which he sees as relevant considering that Jesus says Pergamos is “where Satan’s throne is”.

    That altar/temple was removed from Pergamos and rebuilt in the Pergamon museum in Berlin in the 19th Century. See photo here:

    There is a difference between talking about that altar in the context of its location in a letter to the church in the town where it was actually located, and trying to make it fit into a re-imagining of the letter to the Galatians.

  10. The Bible has been largely re-imagined for millennia. That, to me, doesn’t make the word “re-imagine” bad… as in, anyone who would use that word or think that way is doing something wrong. When various churches re-did what was being taught, that wasn’t good. Pretty sure they didn’t use the word re-imagine, or re-do either, but words are just efforts to get ideas across. And I’m getting an idea across even if they didn’t use a word/term or another. [We could say there’s something wrong with having an idea. Who has any right to have an idea? Only God knows anything or can give any perfect directives. But I can hope you know what I mean; people use words, and if we look at them sideways or look through the etymologies, we can find something wrong with a lot of words we use, or others use, or come up with some kind of argument. (And it can matter that we choose not to use certain words or not to use them in certain ways and so on.) Anyway, we might use the word re-imagine for what happened in the past. But when, for example, the ancient church (by which I don’t mean anything created by Jesus) did it, that re-imagining was not called for and has caused problems — and re-ascertaining or re-imagining what came before, or what is actually true [we could say re-re-imagining, re-imagining over again, we could say re-thinking, we could put it a lot of ways], is good).

    Maybe the use of “re-imagine” (the word and the concept) isn’t bothering me for at least two reasons. One, I attempt to explain above. [We really do need to grapple with “church” history (and I’m sure you know I don’t use the word or concept of church the way the author at my 2:37pm link did).] Another reason is that when I was taking an English course at SJSU, we read about vocabulary or the ability to speak and think being the holding of images in one’s mind. So imagining is thinking, itself, and putting things into words. I’m not looking at it as having to mean making stuff up out of whole cloth or something in that sense.

    Also, by the way, I’m not per se recommending the reviewer of the book (while she doesn’t seem like a lightweight, and I probably will read one or two more of her entries); I’m recommending the book itself (and not using amazon to show the cover and give a clue as to what it’s about because amazon often automatically becomes a huge picture of the book rather than a simple link).

  11. A point of clarification. I shouldn’t say Nanos agrees with Kahl on that (5th) chapter. There may be something (or a number of things) in the chapter he’s not so sure about. Also, I don’t mean for anyone to find him writing at that he agrees with her. What is largely found at his site is his own work.

  12. A quick note (for readers). The Word, when Jesus was walking the earth, was what is usually called the Old Testament; the “New Testament” wasn’t yet written.

    I found these interesting:

    Another note: calling the Land Palestine in those days is anachronistic.

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