Author Archives: Ralph Smith

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 […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

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 — […]

Read more

Dating Matthew, 2

In the first essay in this series, I presented a case for dating Matthew before AD 70, contrary to the present scholarly consensus. In this essay, I intend to present cultural, personal, ecclesiological, and theological arguments for a very early date for Matthew. 1 The cultural argument concerns literacy in the days of Jesus. There was […]

Read more

Dating Matthew, 1

When might the Gospel according to Matthew have been written? Of course, any answer can only be speculation, but that does not mean we are reduced to groundless opinion. In this series of articles I point the way to an approach different from the general consensus among scholars today which posits a late first century […]

Read more

Synopticity, II

In my first essay on “synopticity” I offered a rather rough definition of the phenomenon and important, though not exhaustive examples. In this essay, I want to introduce broader aspects of the phenomenon of “synopticity.” The first example that I have in mind is conventional stories, stories of different historical events that follow the same […]

Read more

Synopticity, I

To the best of my knowledge “synopticity” is not a word used in theology or Biblical studies, but it seems an appropriate word to describe the kind of phenomena associated with the Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. These three Gospels tell essentially the same story with significant — sometimes puzzling — variations. It is […]

Read more

The Original Murder

My title, “The Original Murder” will be understood by many readers, if not almost all, to refer to Cain’s murder of Abel, but I have in mind the very first murder, the one which Jesus pointed to when He said that Satan was a murderer “from the beginning.” “You are of your father the devil, […]

Read more

Approaching the Torah

Before anything else, a word about “Torah” may be in order. I have been persuaded that “law” is a bad translation of “Torah,” even though it is evident that what is called “Torah” does have commandments, statutes, and ordinances in abundance. Why not “law?” “Law” as a translation for “Torah” is overly narrow in its […]

Read more