Author Archives: Ralph Smith

Baptism and Contextualization, 1

I can imagine someone reading the title of this essay and saying to himself, “I have two questions. First, what in the world is “contextualization”?” Second, even before hearing the answer to the first question, he may wonder, “what does baptism have to do with such an awkward and vague notion?” Let me begin by […]

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Like A Dove II

In the previous article in this series, I drew attention to the threefold meaning of the Spirit of God descending as a dove on Jesus at His baptism. On a related note, I also argued that 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and Titus 3:3-7 were parallel passages that addressed the same issues in very similar language. One […]

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Like a Dove

Peter Leithart’s book, The Priesthood of the Plebs: A Theology of Baptism, argues that baptism is parallel to and the fulfillment of the old covenant rite of priestly ordination. But this is not something explicitly stated in the New Testament. Why, then, should we believe it? Leithart shows in detail that new covenant baptism does […]

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Biblical Allusion and the Meaning of Othello

Understanding Shakespeare’s Biblical references is vital for the interpretation of many, if not all, of Shakespeare’s plays. For Othello, it is especially important, not only because the interpretation of the play is contested among various approaches — feminist, homosexual, post-colonial, Marxist, Freudian, new historical, and others — but also and more importantly because, as I […]

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Gerazim and Ebal

Place names become fraught with meaning by association with people and events. The name “Wittenberg” calls to mind Luther and the Reformation for Protestants and Catholics alike. Geneva has a wider range of associations, but the Reformation Wall, with its four main statues of William Farel, John Calvin, Theodore Beza, and John Knox, guarantees that […]

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Hear, O Israel!

In the last 40 odd years of studying the Bible, I have read more essays and commentaries on Deuteronomy 6:4 than I can recall. I have also more than twice changed my view on what should be the correct translation of Israel’s central confession. What is so complicated? After the call to give attention — […]

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