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The Bible as Literature

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Each week, Dr. Richard Benton, Fr. Marc Boulos and guests discuss the content of the Bible as literature.

Each week, Dr. Richard Benton, Fr. Marc Boulos and guests discuss the content of the Bible as literature.
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Each week, Dr. Richard Benton, Fr. Marc Boulos and guests discuss the content of the Bible as literature.




The Seed Does What the Seed Does

Today’s program marks the 300th episode of the Bible as Literature. Years ago, Fr. Marc and Richard’s wife, Hollie, were going back and forth on a title for the education program at St. Elizabeth—eventually, they opted for “The Ephesus School”—a name inspired by a paper Fr. Paul had recently presented. With the Benton’s move to Minnesota, Fr. Marc had been thinking about ideas for a podcast, something like “The Priest and the Professor” and Hollie, always in earshot of Fr. Marc’s and...


Birds, Kings, and Shepherds

This week, Fr. Paul wraps up his discussion of Genesis 6, giving Richard and Fr. Marc an opportunity to ask questions. As always, Richard opened Q&A with an insightful discussion of the original Hebrew, which lead to an excellent overview of kings, shepherds, and functionality in the Bible. (Episode 88)


A New Tribe

In a culture that places family first, the Lord’s ambivalence toward his mother and his brothers in the Gospel of Matthew is confusing, if not utterly scandalous. Why would Jesus ignore his close relatives and leave them standing outside? The answer presented in the text is straightforward: the disciples are the Lord’s true relatives, because it is the Father’s teaching—not human blood ties—that serves as the organizing principle for the tribe of Jesus. This new definition of family reflects...


It’s an “Ark” Not an “Ark”

This week Fr. Paul highlights the connection between Genesis 6 and the story of Moses in Exodus. As always, this connection is impossible to discern in English—but this time there’s a twist. The English word “ark” in Genesis 6 sounds deceptively like the word “ark” in Exodus 25. In fact, they are totally unrelated; and as you’ll soon discover, the the real connection to Exodus in the original Hebrew is far more interesting. (Episode 87)



The ability to read biblical signs—which comes from hearing, reciting, and doing the commandments of Scripture—protects us from being fooled by false prophets. Is something a righteous act? What’s the difference between an exorcism performed by Jesus and one conducted by a son of the Pharisees? In the Gospel of Matthew, the answer to this question is twofold: 1) do you recognize the commandment of God at work in the action, and, 2) what outcome did the action produce? You will know a tree by...


Why Do You Call Me Lord?

In today's episode we discuss why faith is better translated as trust. We also highlight how faith is not an intellectual concept, but a deep trust that is rooted in the firm belief in God's promises and His coming Kingdom. With respect to the argument of "faith vs. works," the audience will be encouraged to re-frame their thinking of salvation as an inheritance: something that can never be earned, but can be lost. Finally, Fr Aaron shared a saying from Fr Paul Tarazi that we all would do...


The Nephilim

Drawing, as always, on the original Hebrew and his knowledge of Arabic, Fr. Paul explains the folly of the Nephilim who assume their own mightiness, but are, in Fr. Paul’s words, “unto fallenness.” English versions of the Bible refer to the Nephilim as “men of renown,” but this translation ignores the writer’s use of the technical phrase, ha shem, “the name,” which pertains to the biblical God, who is himself referred to as “the name” in Leviticus. (Episode 86)


Read the Signs

When human beings seek a sign from the Lord, the problem is two-fold. First, we think of a sign as proof, making our trust in God’s wisdom conditional. Second, because we do not trust this wisdom, the signs we desire in the world become a reflection of our own vanity. Remember, this is the Gospel of Matthew. The eye is the lamp of the body. If the light in your eye is idolatry, you will find amazement in wickedness and scoff at righteousness; but if the lamp of your eye is filled with the...


Third Time’s Not a Charm

After its use of the word ‘adam’ in chapter 5, the text of Genesis returns to the words ‘ha adam’ in chapter 6, referring to humanity in its entirety. This shift, Fr. Paul explains, also points to God’s provision of a third chance for human beings. By now, everyone who tunes in to this podcast knows that in Scripture, the third time is not a charm. (Episode 85)


You Know a Tree by It’s Fruit

We human beings do not take responsibility for what we teach. We speak careless words motivated by self-interest and look the other way when our words—directly or indirectly—cause suffering in the world. It feels good to pretend that we are puzzled by gun violence in the United States, but we all know the truth. If we want to understand American violence, we need only look in the mirror: the teachings we feed our children are utterly corrupt and produce morally repugnant outcomes. In...


Be Patient and Submit

Noting that biblical names appear and reappear purposefully in Genesis, this week, Fr. Paul emphasizes the importance of having patience with the scriptural God who operates on his own time table. (Episode 84)


The Ultimate Sin

Scripture is written to supplant human words and thwart human agency, so that its wisdom might govern the affairs of men in the place of human self-interest. When we sit at home, when we go out, when we lie down to sleep and when we wake up, we are commanded to recite God’s instruction in the place of empty human words. But what happens when vain talk consumes our thoughts? What happens when we are no longer able to hear, let alone recite God’s wisdom? Richard and Fr. Marc discuss the...


There is No New Humanity

Following his discussion of the Toledot of Adam in Genesis 5, Fr. Paul explains how God manages to continue his plan and salvage humanity despite the people’s disobedience. (Episode 83)


Binding the Strong Man

When the Pharisees accuse Jesus of being in league with Beelzebul, Jesus slams them by exposing a fatal contradiction in their logic: if the only way I am able to’ cast out demons is by Beelzebul, how are your sons able to do it? I’ll tell you how. If you are right and I am in league with Satan, then so are your sons; but if I am in league with God, then the Kingdom of this God is upon you, and you have chosen the wrong side. Truly I say to you, I will not relent until your strong man is...


Son of Man

This week, Richard and Fr. Marc had the chance to follow-up Fr. Paul’s discussion of Genesis 5 with questions, leading to an important discussion of the anti-kingly tradition of the Bible and it’s connection with the phrase, ‘son of man.’ (Episode 82)


Teach and Move

Internet comment culture invites useless and emotionally charged conflict that accomplishes nothing, except to inflame everyone’s self-serving sentiments. That’s why, in Matthew, Jesus refuses to engage in any argument with the Pharisees. To do so, Matthew teaches, is to squander what is holy. In keeping with the teaching of Isaiah, Jesus refuses to quarrel with anyone so that nothing and no one (including Jesus himself) stands out upon the earth, except the judgment of his Father, “who will...


Ha Adam

This week, Fr. Paul uses his own family tree to help explain the tree of Adam in Genesis 5. Following verse 2, in which God “created them male and female, and he blessed them and named them man,” whether directly, as Seth or indirectly, as the followers of Seth, the main actor, Fr. explains, is Adam, through his tenth son Noah. (Episode 81)


The Lord of the Sabbath

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female slave or your cattle or your immigrant who stays with you.” (Exodus 20:8-10) This commandment, which joins the needs of the vulnerable—of the immigrant and the lowly creatures in your care—with the needs of your sons and daughters, captures the truth of the...


Ha Adam or Adam?

This week Fr. Paul touches on the importance of the author’s purposeful use of the word Adam in some places and the words Ha Adam elsewhere. The various connections between biblical words, he explains, hinge not on philosophical premises, but the author’s use of these terms within the flow of the narrative. (Episode 80)


God Doesn’t Need Our Bread

When the Pharisees complain about the disciples picking and eating grain on the sabbath, they betray both their ignorance of Torah, and their desire to control the consecrated bread of God’s instruction to consolidate their power. But God, Matthew teaches, does not need our bread. After-all, whatever we offer him already belongs to him. What he desires is knowledge of and obedience to his Law: that we are to love our neighbor, showing mercy and compassion on one another. This is the...