Author Archives: Peter Leithart

Joseph, the Righteous Husband

During the Middle Ages, Joseph, the husband of Mary, was the butt of many jokes. Medieval theater and art often depicted him as something of a buffoon, decidedly marginal to the gospel story. In part, this was the unfortunate obverse of the exaltation of Mary; any man would suffer by comparison with such a being […]

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The Theology of the Drink Offering

The drink offering or libation (nesek) is mentioned in only three places in the book of Leviticus. When the sheaf of the firstfruits was waved before the Lord, a grain offering was to be burned, along with “its libation, a fourth of a hin of wine [approx. one gallon]” (23:13). Similarly, libations were to be […]

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The Unseen Things

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). The famous definition of faith with which the eleventh chapter of Hebrews opens has received a number of different interpretations. The crux of the problem is the interpretation of the words translated in the KJV as “substance” (hupostasis) […]

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Building the Church

“And I also way to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it” (Matthew 16:18). Matthew 16:13ff. has historically been one of the most oft-cited passages of Scripture. Throughout the Middle Ages, it was used to support the claims of […]

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Funerals and Flutes

Matthew 8-9 records three clusters of miracles, interspersed with snatches of Jesus’ teaching about various aspects of discipleship. Just as the Sermon on the Mount displays the authority of Jesus’ Word in teaching, these chapters display the authority of Jesus’ Word over sickness, uncleanness, the creation, demons, and death. In Jesus, the kingdom comes not […]

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The Dramatic Structure of Proverbs

The book of Proverbs appears as a largely random collection of aphorisms drawn from experience saturated in law. Despite its random arrangement, however, the book does have an over-arching structure that reinforces its main themes. One way to gather clues regarding the structure of a biblical book (or any book) is to look at the […]

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Addressees and Author of James

James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the diaspora, greetings (James 1:1). Though the epistle of James is considered a “general” epistle, the letter originated from particular circumstances that can be discerned from the New Testament. In order to sketch its background, it will be helpful […]

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The Crooked Way to Glory

During the final hours of Jesus life, His disciples stumble. They stumble for the same reason that John and his disciples were in danger of being scandalized. A Messiah who leaves suffering and imprisonment in His wake is not much of a Messiah. A Messiah who gets seized and tried and crucified, and doesn’t do […]

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The Dew of Heaven

The Hebrew word for dew (tal) refers both to morning dew and nighttime mist. Dew was important to Ancient Near Eastern agriculture. The climate was so hot and dry that often only the dew kept vegetation alive during drought and heat. According to the New Bible Dictionary, “Dew is beneficial to summer crops. This has […]

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