Posts by: mzank

Paul: Jew or Christian?

Is Paul a Jew, or is he a Christian? This is the wrong question. For Paul, a Jew was not the other of a Christian. For him, Gentile was the other of a Jew, and Christian was the way to resolve this difference. Both, Jews and Gentiles, are equally called upon to escape the coming wrath. The […]

A Visit to the Museum of the Bible

Last week, between lunch with Vicki Barnett of the USHMM Mandel Center and a guest lecture in Michael Brenner’s Jerusalem class at AU, I had an hour to dip into the notorious new Museum of the Bible. The MoB is a recently completed, private addition to the nation’s capital’s array of stately institutions of memorialization. […]

For my father

I think of you today, the night of Father’s Day, Instead of, as usually, thinking of myself As the father of my children. My children! Saying it is enough To pull on the strings of my heart As they say;   It is a physical feeling One unlike others   I am almost certain You […]

May 14, 2018

Today is May 14, 2018. By the Gregorian calendar, this is the day when, seventy years ago, the provisional government of Israel headed by David Ben Gurion declared Israel’s independence. As was pointed out in a post I recently saw on FB, the question of territory of the newly independent Jewish state was not defined […]

Maimonides and his modern readers: Adventures in Jewish Philosophy

Note: The following summarizes my approach to Maimonides for a seminar I teach at Boston University, which concludes tomorrow, Monday April 30. The students were prompted to present on a significant text from our readings, or on their term paper. I decided to set myself a task as well, namely, to articulate the arc of […]

Moses as religious “kitsch”

A few days ago, we screened Die Slavenkönigin/Moon of Israel (Austria 1924), a film directed by Michael Courtace (aka Michael Curtiz) that was based on a novel by H. Rider Haggard that romanticized the biblical story of the exodus. You can watch the French version HERE. The screening served as a co-curricular event for a […]

The Scandal of Paul

Jay Harris, in a review of Daniel Boyarin’s A radical Jew published in Commentary Magazine of June 1, 1995[1], cites Edward Gibbon to point out that the idea of Paul as a universalist transcending Jewish ethnic boundaries is, at best, only part of the story. That Paul’s exclusivism was more “ecclesiocentric” than “ethnocentric” primarily means […]

The New Testament

I teach the New Testament as part of an entry-level college course on the Bible. My overall approach is to teach the Bible as literature. I start with canon and canonization, then work my way through the parts of the canons, from Genesis to Daniel, canonical to apocryphal and deutero-canonical, Iron Age to Hellenistic, all […]

The Bible: a trigger warning

On May 17, 2014, Jennifer Medina published an article in the NYTimes that may forever change the way we approach the teaching of literature in the college classroom. It deprived us of our innocence. Under the heading, “Warning: The Literary Canon Could Make Students Squirm,” Medina points to a new form of self-censorship, called trigger […]

Mosaic Law: It’s not what you thought

There was a moment in today’s class that should not go unnoticed. The reading assignment this week in RN101 The Bible was Exodus 19-34, Leviticus 18-20, and a bunch of chapters from Deuteronomy for Friday. Yesterday we looked at the framing of the Sinai covenant, the quasi theatrical scene in Exodus 19, the deity’s physical […]