I Learned Something Last Night

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12 Responses

  1. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    Hamori’s work could be thought of as a funny riposte to the John Walton version of de-demonizing the Hebrew Bible. Walton’s book was a tedious chore and it was a tedious chore because he somehow lumped Jeffrey Burton Russell, Clinton Arnold and Michael Heiser in with Greg Boyd’s open theism by acting as if any claim that spirits exist and inflict harm is part of some “cosmic dualism” that isn’t “biblical”. Hamori’s counter argument may be just as selective but it is worth reading.

    One of my friends from days gone by once said that there are many advantages to reading liberal scholars or “liberal” scholars, chief among them being that they will tell you exactly what the text says because they don’t have a pious bias that encourages them to sand off the edges of some sharp and strange texts. For instance, Hamori pointed out that young men will have visions and old men will dream dreams but the biblical prophecy does not promise that women will participate in that spiritual outpouring and that Jews believe the prophetic oracle that Christians believe was fulfilled at Pentecost has not, as yet, actually been fulfilled.

  2. Michael says:

    ‘One of my friends from days gone by once said that there are many advantages to reading liberal scholars or “liberal” scholars, chief among them being that they will tell you exactly what the text says because they don’t have a pious bias that encourages them to sand off the edges of some sharp and strange texts. ”

    I believe this to be often true…

  3. Wendi says:

    I think Michael Heiser talks about this in the Unseen Realm in the context of Eve and the snake… like we tend to think of a literal snake but perhaps the snake in Genesis is more of a seraphim type being?

  4. Michael says:


    Exactly! That’s another challenging book…

  5. filistine says:

    “pious bias” is a delightful phrase with frightening consequences. It’s usually consecrated with some dash of holy water that dilutes and pollutes rather than illuminates.

    I just finished a harrowing session reading through the beatitudes. Lord, have mercy.

  6. Michael says:


    I think we all should take that journey every year…

  7. Wendi says:

    …which if the snake in Genesis is this seraphim type being… gives a bit different perspective on Eve’s interactions with it… fascinating…

  8. Muff Potter says:

    The Bible is a great and wonderful thing, no question about it.
    But for me, how much of that stuff am I gonna’ try and extrapolate out of that when and where into this here and now?

  9. Ramon says:

    Hello Michael!

    Tim and Jon from the Bible Project also talked about calling the seraphim snakes several years back in a Q and A video. That question comes up at the 5:22 mark on the video for anyone who is interested in watching it.


    Thank you everyone for addressing important topics in your posts that challenge my thinking where needed and cause me to grow spiritually. God bless all of you!

    I’ll also be praying that all goes well while you are moving, Michael.

  10. Michael says:

    Thank you, Ramon!

    Sometimes thinking can make us uncomfortable…but the payoff is worth it…

  11. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    One of the advantages I”ve found in reading biblical scholarship from non-Western writers is they take certain things quite seriously. Reading African biblical scholars and pastors engage with spirit possession texts and Pauline discussion of powers and principalities has been fun. Esther Acolatse pointed out a fascinating flip-flop in Western scholarship–mainline Protestants are very comfortable talking about powers and principalities as systems and structures of oppression but avoid talking about individual sin whereas evangelical, fundamentalist and Pentecostal scholars have a penchant for talking about personal sin yet doing so in ways that mimic therapeutic treatments on the one hand and avoid conceding systemic evils on the other.

    To read progressive (secular or religious) writers discussing what whiteness and anti-blackness do to BIPOC is to read people who are looking to describe something as demonic in cause and effects but who have closed off the language that has been used in the past to describe those kinds of evil. So if we ask how some of those strange or puzzling texts can be interpreted in our era that’s kind of the Bultmann temptation, to say that we can’t believe in possessing spirits in the age of the electric light switch whereas our fellow Christians in Africa and Asia reply, “What are you talking about? We deal with this stuff every year.”

    One of Hamori’s sideways riffs was to point out that if we look at the texts themselves they present a Yahweh who is more inscrutable and terrifying than North Americans want Yahweh to be and in that sense the ancient authors were more honest with themselves and each other than the people who want to scrub away the scariest parts of the texts. As Amos rhetorically asked, is there calamity in the city and God has not brought it about? As Jeffrey Burton Russell kind of put it across his quintet of books on the history of the devil in Western thought, Western Christendom has been desperate to sand off the edges of those prophetic oracles that consistently presented the Day of the Lord as a day of terror, judgment and punishment on corrupt empires. The idea that that author was defending a “dualism”, per John Walton, is just absurd. Hardly anyone more succinctly described the shift from a more monistic monotheism to a modified/limited dualism within Abrahamic religious thought than Russell in the last half century.

    But, anyway, the Hamori book is definitely a fun read whether you agree with everything she says or not. I’m glad Michael got a copy of it.

  12. Michael says:


    All these things are fascinating.

    The problem is how you introduce the ideas in a congregational setting without your flock thinking you’ve gone off the deep end…

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