The Fourth R Magazine

Rethinking the Beginnings of Christianity

By Maia Kotrosits

Many scholars already know that the people represented in the New Testament didn’t consider themselves Christians. ... I want to suggest that, rather than static truths about Jesus or God, early Christian texts represent a number of creative and improvised ways of trying to make sense of who one is, where one belongs, and what God means in the face of loss. Continue reading

What the New Testament Says about Homosexuality

By William O. Walker Jr.

Mainline Christian denominations in this country are bitterly divided over the question of homosexuality. For this reason it is important to ask what light, if any, the New Testament sheds on this controversial issue. Most people apparently assume that the New Testament expresses strong opposition to homosexuality, but this simply is not the case. The six propositions that follow, considered cumulatively, lead to the conclusion that the New Testament does not provide any direct guidance for understanding and making judgments about homosexuality in the modern world. Continue reading

Pseudo-Scholarship Illustrated

By Susan M. Elliott

“I’m not a Bible scholar, but . . .”

Usually this statement insinuates that the speaker’s ostensibly exceptional insight trumps actual expertise. A least such a statement gives lip service to the speaker’s limitations. Pretense to scholarship is more deceptive, although pseudo-scholars tend to mislead themselves first of all. Coauthors Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy provide an illustration of such self-deceptive pseudo-scholarship in a series of books published over the past decade that bases one set of misguided assumptions on another. Continue reading

An Interview with Raheel Raza

By David Galston

For Muslims the Qur’an is the word of God as revealed to the Prophet Mohammad over a period of twenty-three years. The message was an oral message and, since Mohammad was unlettered, the words were written on scraps of paper, tree bark, and animal skins. It was only after the death of the Prophet that his companions compiled the Qur’an into book form. For reasons known only to them, instead of compiling the revelations in chronological order, they assembled them in order of length, from longest verse to shortest. Continue reading

Active Seminars

Christianity Seminar

Christianity Seminar

What was early Christianity really like, behind the New Testament? The Christianity Seminar reimagines how the movement that began around Jesus became Christian orthodoxy and the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Seminar on God and the Human Future

Seminar on God and the Human Future

Historical questions about the Bible can be very specific. What did Jesus really say? What date should be given the book of Acts? But when it comes to “God questions”—the meaning of God, the existence of God, the future of God—the ground shifts from critical history to metaphysical quandary. Where does one even begin? Yet a Seminar on God cannot be dismissed lightly, for there is an important sense in which God is every bit as historical as Jesus was, perhaps in a certain sense even more so.

Polebridge Press

Galatians and the Rhetoric of Crisis by Nina E. Livesey

“This ground-breaking study of Paul’s polemics cannot be overlooked...”
—Magnus Zetterholm, Lund University

“... My ‘must have book’ for 2016.”
—Rex A. E. Hunt, Common Dreams Australia

“This is a wise book, don’t pass it up.”
—John D. Caputo, Syracuse University

“... the most accessible and arresting account yet of John Caputo’s radical theology.”
—Richard Kearney, Boston College

“[The Early Christian Apocrypha series is] heartily recommended for classroom use and for anyone interested in early Christian literature.”
Religious Studies Review

“As thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is seminal and iconoclastic… Highly recommended…”
Midwest Book Review