Stephen McCarthy

Advent Bible in a Year Blog: A Text of Terror

Advent Bible in a Year Blog: A Text of Terror

Judges 20-21 There is never an easy moment to turn to Judges 20-21. For there we encounter a Levite whose concubine is violated by a group of Benjaminites. Disturbingly, the Levite dismembers the concubine’s corpse to send to the other tribes of Israel as tokens bearing witness to his outrage. Part of the challenge of … Read More

Advent Bible in a Year Blog: This Bud’s for You

Advent Bible in a Year Blog: This Bud’s for You

Numbers 17-19 It’s not every staff that sprouts, puts forth buds, produces blossoms and bears ripe almonds. That’s a miraculous staff. The account in Numbers 17 – of how the staff of Levi with Aaron’s name written upon it does just this – certainly gets our attention. Perhaps we are incredulous, or perhaps we wonder … Read More

Advent Bible in a Year Blog: Both Giver and Gift

Advent Bible in a Year Blog: Both Giver and Gift

Romans 3-4 Psalm 24 Sometimes reading Paul can feel a bit like being thrown into the midst of one of those arguments in which nobody seems to remember how it began and the hope of a conclusion, let alone a conciliatory one, seems very far off indeed. The situation isn’t helped by the fact that … Read More

Advent Bible in a Year Blog: The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

Advent Bible in a Year Blog: The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

Genesis 40-42 A good friend of mine from university now works as a political strategist in Washington. When I mentioned a prominent frontrunner for the presidency in 2016, he observed that this politician simply has too many advisors. The campaign hasn’t just employed the strategists it needs, but also others – simply to prevent them … Read More

Advent Bible in a Year Blog: Destroy this Temple?

Advent Bible in a Year Blog: Destroy this Temple?

Ezra 1-3 We tend to think of the Bible as divided between Old and New Testaments because it is. But let us consider the Bible as pointing toward three narrative arcs in the history of God’s relationship with his people. The first arc tells how pre-exilic Israelite religion came to center on the life of … Read More

Advent Bible in a Year Blog: How Lonely Sits the City

Advent Bible in a Year Blog: How Lonely Sits the City

Lamentations 1-3 What’s the book of Lamentations about really? It is a prolonged response to the destruction of Jerusalem, a momentous tragedy that is in many ways the culmination of the long narrative stretching from Genesis to Kings.  Yet once the destruction has occurred, as the prophets have been foretelling, it continues to shape the … Read More

Advent Bible in a Year Blog: God’s Dragnet

Advent Bible in a Year Blog: God’s Dragnet

Habakkuk 1-3 The prophet Habakkuk is somewhat mysterious to scholars of Biblical literature. He appears nowhere else in the canon, nor is “Habakkuk” a Jewish name. Yes, in the Apocrypha a heading of Bel and the Dragon mentions him, but that sheds little light on this enigmatic prophet. Just three chapters long, Habakkuk is itself … Read More

Advent Bible in a Year Blog: Learning Something Else

Advent Bible in a Year Blog: Learning Something Else

Colossians 3-4 Psalm 128-129 Have you ever found yourself with an assignment and thought it so difficult as to be impossible? When I went away to school, one of my first assignments was to memorize a statement of education’s purposes composed by the Victorian schoolmaster, poet and generally dubious character, William Johnson Cory [right]. It … Read More

Advent Bible in a Year Blog: A Word That Shall Not Return

Advent Bible in a Year Blog: A Word That Shall Not Return

Isaiah 43-45 Before going to seminary I spent a year teaching Latin at a boys’ junior boarding school in Northern New England. It was wonderful work for myriad reasons, from what Latin communicated in the classroom to the way living in an enclosed environment exposed truths about how we relate to one another, truths which … Read More

Advent Bible in a Year Blog: Marvel at the Miracle

Advent Bible in a Year Blog: Marvel at the Miracle

Isaiah 7-9 “Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel!” (Isaiah 7:14). These are some of the most exciting words of scripture, words forecasting the virgin birth, words that point directly to Christ. And yet as we discover them here in chapter seven of Isaiah, we find them … Read More