Church and State Part Two: Caesaropapism

This is the second installation in a series of articles in which I present my view of church history with a focus on the relationship between church and state. In my last article, I covered the early church. Today I cover Constantine and caesaropapism. In the next installation, I will cover conflicts between monarchs and popes of the middle ages. As soon as the church gained a foothold into the government through Constantine, its dynamic with the state became much more complicated. While a government could be opposed to the church, the church could still have an important and necessary … Continue reading “Church and State Part Two: Caesaropapism”

Church and State Part One: The Early Church

This is the first installation in a series of articles in which I present my view of church history with a focus on the relationship between church and state. Today I cover the history of the early church. In the next installation, I will cover Constantine and caesaropapism. Struggles between state and religion, papacy and monarchy, have long captured the attention of historians. Whether examining the Torah’s laws for separation between holy and unholy, Roman persecution of the early church, the Inquisition, or Roger Williams’ fight for separation of church and state, it becomes apparent that only a thin line … Continue reading “Church and State Part One: The Early Church”

Film Review: Onward by Pixar

Onward: Ian and Barley

With everyone cooped up at home, viewership on streaming services has predictably surged. My Mom and I recently finished Season 3 of Fauda (I highly recommend the series!), but today I want to review a kid-friendly film. Onward, Pixar’s latest release, is available on Disney Plus. Onward is worth a watch, as are all of Pixar’s films (except for Cars 2 and Cars 3). Even so, Onward is a bit of a let down, given Pixar’s high standards. Onward has all the necessary ingredients for a good film. There’s an attractive setting: a modernized suburban fantasyland. The story, about two … Continue reading “Film Review: Onward by Pixar”

A Lesson on Malthusianism from Saxo Grammaticus

Today, I want to share a passage that piqued my attention when I read it last year. It comes from book 8 of Gesta Danorum, a history of the Danish nation written by Saxo Grammaticus (1160-1220). After introducing Snio, King of the Danes, Saxo Grammaticus gives us a passage about a difficult period for the Danish people. I think this story displays well the deeds of a valorous woman, Gambaruk (see bolded section). It also gives an example of what happens when a country buys into Malthusian economics. Malthusianism holds that, because human populations reproduce at an exponential rate, eventually … Continue reading “A Lesson on Malthusianism from Saxo Grammaticus”

Christianity of the Third Millennium: A Response

I very much enjoyed reading Benjamin Bjorkman’s “Christianity of the Third Millennium.” Based on the PC games Ben and I enjoy, one can surmise that we both find it fun to look into the future with an eye toward strategy. At the same time, I do wish to voice a few criticisms of his article, and add a suggestion. Firstly, the article focuses on Christianity within developed countries. In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with this; however, one cannot read it as a comprehensive view of Christianity in the Third Millennium. As a matter of fact, huge populations … Continue reading “Christianity of the Third Millennium: A Response”

Nazi Death Camps: Blurring the Lines Between Life and Death

We are publishing this article for Holocaust Remembrance Day. May their memories be for a blessing. Death camps represent, perhaps, the most important evidence for the planned extermination of the Jewish people. The death camp manufactured a single product: the speedy and efficient murder of world Jewry. Because of this, the Nazis blurred the lines between life and death. “Life” became an optimistic way to describe an animated dying process, while “death” was normalized into everyday expectation. Nazis sought to turn humans into animals, taking away all semblance of the dignity of human life. Meanwhile, the actual act of murder … Continue reading “Nazi Death Camps: Blurring the Lines Between Life and Death”

Divine Revelation in the Epistemology of Maimonides

In a previous article, I wrote about the centrality of the divine to Socrates’ epistemology. Here, I will discuss the source of prophecy in Maimonides’ epistemology. Over a millennium after Socrates, Maimonides echoes similar sentiments in his discourse on prophets in Book Two of The Guide for the Perplexed. He writes with the Aristotelian methodology prevalent in Egypt at his time to conclude that a man can be perfectly well-read and even have great character yet still not attain the status of prophet. Maimonides points out that knowledge and other forms of human wisdom, while necessary, are not sufficient to … Continue reading “Divine Revelation in the Epistemology of Maimonides”

Divine Revelation in the Epistemology of Socrates

Socrates is the beloved father of western philosophy, but I have found that many people discuss only part of his philosophy—that true wisdom is awareness of one’s own ignorance. Many stop at Socratic irony, glossing over another central theme of Socrates’ dialogues: the role of the gods in the guidance of ignorant human beings. Indeed, this theme is a necessary part of Socrates’ formula in his understanding of the world, for Socrates does think that men have a shot at attaining truth, despite their pathetic state of ignorance. Socrates’ own interpretations of his personal experiences of divine revelation give us … Continue reading “Divine Revelation in the Epistemology of Socrates”

“Of the People…” Not Found in the General Prologue to the Wycliffite Bible

This is a short one, but I thought I’d chime in on something. While browsing around for some information about the General Prologue to the Wycliffite Bible, I stumbled upon this blog post from the Volokh Conspiracy. Basically, there’s a myth going around that the General Prologue to the Wycliffite Bible contains the sentence, “The Bible is for the Government of the People, by the People, and for the People.” Eugene Volokh, the author of the blog post, noted that this “smacked of myth,” and I am writing to confirm his suggestion. About a year and a half ago, the … Continue reading ““Of the People…” Not Found in the General Prologue to the Wycliffite Bible”

Book Review: The Old Testament is Dying by Brent Strawn

“The world only exists out of the merit of the discourse found when small children study.” –Shulhan Arukh, Yoreh De’ah 245:7 “Welcome, OnScript superfans–and now we know that includes Dr. Brent Strawn,” the podcast host began. (OnScript is a podcast on the Bible that invites Biblical scholars to talk about their work.) At the end of the podcast, the host light-heartedly quizzed his guest, asking him to identify where a couple Biblical quotes came from. The guest identified the first correctly: “Then the king told his attendants, ‘tie him, hand and foot, and throw him outside into the darkness, where … Continue reading “Book Review: The Old Testament is Dying by Brent Strawn”