Latter-day Saints are turning to the New Testament for our home and Sunday school curriculum this year. Supplement your study with these great episodes of the Maxwell Institute Podcast. Taken together, they’re like a mini crash course on the New Testament!
James Goldberg is a Latter-day Saint author with Jewish and Sikh roots—a background that permeates his creative re-telling of the gospels, The Five Books of Jesus. The story of Jesus has been told and retold, of course, for centuries. Goldberg’s retelling is one of the best I’ve ever encountered. This episode remains a favorite of many listeners.
Many Latter-day Saints find it difficult to appreciate the archaic King James language of the New Testament. The gospel writers presented their witnesses to an ancient audience whose customs are unfamiliar to readers today. Biblical scholarship has come a long way to clarify cultural and historical backgrounds of scripture. Latter-day Saint scholar Julie M. Smith guides us through some of the basics.
The New Testament records seven phrases Jesus uttered as he hung on the cross, including “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” and “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesuit priest and New York Times best-selling author James Martin devotionally explores these phrases in the book Seven Last Words: An Invitation to a Deeper Friendship with Jesus.
The Jewish Annotated New Testament is a landmark piece of scholarship, representing the first time Jewish scholars have annotated and written essays on the complete New Testament. Edited by Marc Brettler and Amy-Jill Levine, the JANT is full of explanatory and contextual footnotes, references to other Jewish works, and a number of essays expanding on the particularly Jewish elements of the Gospels and other Christian writings of the New Testament. Helpful for Christian and Jewish readers alike!
Amy-Jill Levine returns! In this episode we talk about her book Short Stories by Jesus; a detailed, scholarly, and witty investigation of some of Jesus’s parables informed by the perspective of a Jewish scholar of the New Testament. Levine uncovers ways the parables have been misinterpreted from the past to the present and shows that they are as relevant today as they were when they were recorded centuries ago.
Paul’s New Testament letter to the Romans is one of the most important Christian writings ever recorded. The passage of time has obscured the letter’s original context, not to mention the language it’s been rendered in—from its original Greek to archaic King James English. Latter-day Saint philosopher Adam Miller published a personal rendition of Romans called Grace Is Not God’s Backup Plan to help readers understand better understand grace.
Renowned New Testament scholar N. T. Wright explains how various historical figures understood Paul throughout the centuries. Along the way we see how immediate concerns of interpreters shape the questions people ask of scripture and the answers they develop. Wright has been called the “C. S. Lewis” of our time, and while he’s a more accomplished scholar of the New Testament than Lewis ever was, the comparison mainly speaks to Wright’s skill at making technical things understandable to the rest of us.
Peter Enns is a Christian and scholar of the Bible who wants the Bible to be interpreted for what it actually seems to be (a collection of ancient texts with a variety of perspectives about how God relates to us and how we relate to God) rather than what people might think it is (a univocal, step-by-step rule book that unerringly teaches particular facts about God). In this episode we talk about how a committed believer can critically approach scripture.
When you think about the earliest Christians you might imagine the twelve disciples, like Peter and John. Maybe Paul comes to mind. But what about women in early Christianity? What drew them to a life of discipleship and what did they bring to the community and the church as it began to spread? Few people have spent as much time thinking about these questions as Dr. Carolyn Osiek, co-author of A Woman’s Place: House Churches in Earliest Christianity.
Biblical scholars Candida Moss and Joel Baden teamed up to write a book about the different views on infertility and families found in the Bible. From the apparently barren matriarchs of the Old Testament like Sarah and Rachel to Paul’s efforts to forge a new family in Christ, biblical views are more diverse than you might expect. Not only do they clarify ancient perspectives on infertility, they also provide ways to create a more supportive religious environment for women and men experiencing infertility today.
For centuries Christians have gathered to worship God and study the Bible. But this same text that has unified the faithful has also been the source of much discord. One of the most exciting—though by no means uncontroversial—academic developments during the past century has been the renaissance of interest in early Christian biblical scholarship. Peter Martens addresses questions about how scholars today are learning more about early Christian interpretation of the Bible.
For centuries, Christians have celebrated Mary as the miraculous virgin and Mother of God. Catherine Taylor suggests a much richer history of traditions about Mary, much closer to the experiences of Christian women down through the ages. These traditions aren’t found in the Bible. We’ll need to look at other texts and ancient artifacts—burial boxes, jewelry, art. Catherine Taylor specializes in late antique Christian art history and iconography and joins us to talk about women of the ancient world.
Terryl Givens sits down with Thomas Wayment of Brigham Young University to talk about his new translation of the New Testament which he created specifically for Latter-day Saints. What is it like translating ancient scripture using the tools of scholarship, while also believing in the spiritual weight of the text?