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A Plan in Motion

In battle, the US Marine Corps trains their soldiers to “adapt, improvise, and overcome” in carrying out the mission. Leading up to Matthew 21, Jesus has been making plans to carry out his mission with little help from his followers. Only now, on the eve of battle, does he find two able recruits—two blind men—willing to listen. So Jesus adapts and improvises. In place of James and John, he sends two scruffy blind militia ahead to scout the terrain. As to whether or not Jesus overcomes, you may have to re-read St. Paul’s letters a few hundred times before you can hear Matthew’s answer. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 21:1-5. Episode 346 Matthew 21:1-5; Music: Darkling by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

ḥorbah, ḥarabah, yabbašah

In today’s program, Fr. Paul explains that in Scripture, the same item or reality can be either life-giving or disastrous, according to the will of God. (Episode 135)

What Do You Will?

In Matthew, the question of faith or “trust” in the Lord is not a matter of confession, but action. In chapter 9, two blind men proclaimed their trust in Jesus only to disobey him. In chapter 20, we find the same template—two bling men; but now, with Jerusalem just around the corner, the stakes are much higher. Instead of questioning their trust, Jesus cuts directly to the chase, asking whether or not they submit their will to the will of his Father. Where James and John failed, can two blind beggars fill-in? Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 20:29-34. Episode 345 Matthew 20:29-34; Music: The Second Coming Instrumental by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

The Sea Animals

This week, Fr. Paul explains that in Genesis, with respect to their behavior, human beings must follow the lead of the sea animals. (Episode 134)

To Serve as a Slave

Unlike human philosophy, which re-imagines the world in its image, imposing the ruthless and violent ego of liberal and conservative idealism, Scripture takes the world as it is—with unparalleled attention to facts on the ground—co-opting social structures to serve its agenda. The first produces violence against the other side; the latter calls all of us to crucifixion for our enemies' sake. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 20:24-28. Episode 344 Matthew 20:24-28; Music: Eighties Action by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

Instruments of God’s Will

This week, Fr. Paul explains that in Genesis, the sun and the moon are emasculated by the author and the heavens—looked upon as the realm of the of the gods—are brought down to the level of the earth. (Episode 133)

Not Mine to Give

The difficulty for Christians who aspire to positions of influence and power, is that the top person within the framework they inhabit became the lowest person in the eyes of the world. What can a Christian aspire to if the crown of their leader’s ministry is failure and defeat? What does the mother of the sons of Zebedee expect Jesus to offer her sons, beyond the Cross? Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 20:20-23. Episode 343 Matthew 20:20-23; Music: Iron Bacon by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

The Dry One

This week, Fr. Paul explains that, according to the text, the heavenly waters and the earthly waters are one element that had to be separated into two functional entities. (Episode 132)

The Anti-Imperial Throne

As Jesus was about to go up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and on the way he said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and will hand him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify him, and on the third day he will be raised up. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 20:17-19. Episode 342 Matthew 20:17-19; Music: Opium by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

The Day is Defined by God

In this week’s episode, Fr. Paul refers to 1 Thessalonians 5 to help illustrate the reality of Genesis 1, in which darkness and the waters function negatively. (Episode 131)

The Marketplace of Humanity

As contemporary society struggles with questions of equity and power, all of us would do well to consider the radical proposition of Scripture, which demotes everyone to the lowest level, assigns some to exercise an unequal authority for its purposes, and then demotes the latter along with everyone else, leaving them in a worse position. “So the last shall be first, and the first last.” (Matthew 20:16) Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 20:1-16. Episode 341 Matthew 20:1-16; Music: Sonatina in C Minor by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

The Big Deal with Hibdil

This week, Fr. Paul explains how the verb hibdil in Genesis holds one day, day two, and day four together, defining the functionality of the heavens in conjunction with the earth. (Episode 130)

The First Will Be Last

When Peter approaches Jesus to ask, “what then will there be for us,” (Matthew 19:27) his question betrays two sins: first, his belief that he has done the right thing, and, second, his expectation that he deserves a reward for his actions. In his response, Jesus tests both Peter and the addressee of Matthew’s Gospel: is it a reward to be seated in power? “But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.” (Matthew 19:30) Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 19:27-30. Episode 340 Matthew 19:27-30; Music: Pilot Error by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

Darkness and Waters

In today’s program, Fr. Paul explains the “organic and not emotionally poetic oneness of the heavens and the earth” noting that the second creation narrative begins again with the mention of the waters. (Episode 129)

No Good Thing

Among the disastrous consequences of the Synoptic thesis of the gospels is the erasure of each individual author’s intent. Is there a generalized parable of the Rich Man that happens to appear in Matthew, or is there a teaching of Matthew that retools the parable to say something different than the other gospels? If we assume a generalized parable, we blind ourselves, and shut our ears to Matthew’s account of the teaching of Jesus Christ. God forbid! Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 19:16-23. Episode 339 Matthew 19:16-23; Music: Enter the Party by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

The Heavens and the Earth

This week, Fr. Paul highlights the function of the heavens’ priority within the purview of the author, reminding us that the pairing of the heavens and the earth signifies an encompassing reality, a totality.(Episode 128)

Mic Drop

Then the word of the Lord came to Zechariah saying, “Thus has the Lord of hosts said, ‘Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.’ But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears from hearing. They made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the Lord of hosts. And just as He called and they would not listen, so they called and I would not listen,” says the Lord of hosts.(Zechariah 7:8–13) And after hearing all that Jesus said in Matthew 18, the disciples scolded the little children and told them to go away. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 19:13–15. Episode 338 Matthew 19:13–15; Music: Virtutes Instrumenti by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

Part of the Whole

In today’s program, Fr. Paul explains that Genesis, like all other books of the Bible, is part of a whole, and cannot be understood until all the pieces are brought together. (Episode 127)

Mission Priority

Nothing irritates a person of responsibility more than someone or something that distracts from the issue at hand. Faced with distraction, a wise manager acts quickly to get the team back on track. Whatever the disturbance, the manager’s goal is to settle the matter soon so that the team can stay on task to complete the mission. That’s what St. Paul does in 1 Corinthians 7, and that’s exactly what Matthew picks up on in chapter 19 of his gospel. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 19:10-12. Episode 337 Matthew 19:10-12; Music: Lamentation by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

Is That for Real?

This week, Fr. Paul conintues his discussion of functionality and the meaning of words revisiting the biblical verb bara. (Episode 126)

Certificate of Divorce?

When children argue, they lobby their parents to choose a side. An unwise parent intervenes to solve the conflict, deciding who is right and who is wrong. This parent is unwise, because no matter how well-reasoned the discussion, the intervention teaches the child a horrible lesson: when you have a dispute with another person, instead of humbling yourself and negotiating a compromise, appeal to a higher authority. If the authority sides with you, you have the power to impose your will on your neighbor. In contrast, a wise parent intervenes only when circumstances demand action—and if they intervene—it is to hold both parties accountable. Under the care of a wise parent, nobody wins the argument. Instead, each child looks to their own mistakes and embraces their sibling in friendship. Acting like children, adults try to use the law the same way children use their parents: “If I can just get the law on my side, then I can impose my will on others.” That’s exactly why the Pharisees ask Jesus about divorce. Like a wise parent, Jesus turns the question against the accuser. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 19:1-9. Episode 336 Matthew 19:1-9; Music: Misuse by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

New Podcast on ESN: The Way

Fr. Dustin explores how scripture frees us from the Pharoah's of our day so that we can walk The Way in obedience to the scriptural God. (Episode 1) Subscribe:

Out of the Rubble

Cautioning against the preconceived meaning of words, Fr. Paul explains that our understanding of a term’s meaning must conform to that term’s usage in the text, in context. (Episode 125)

The Sword of Damocles

The meaning of Scripture is plain and straightforward. It is intricate and detailed, yes. It takes time and effort to digest, yes. It presents arguments that demand intellectual engagement, yes. But all this must never be confused with complexity. As we often say on the podcast, you do not need a seminary degree to understand the Bible. You may need help from someone who knows languages, or another who is familiar with history, only because so much time has passed since the Bible was written. But the original audience did not need the help of scholars to get the message. The average Joe heard and immediately understood. Why else would the Romans have been so terrified of St. Paul’s Gospel? Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 18:23-35. Episode 335 Matthew 18:23-35; Music: Miami Viceroy by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:


Walking us through the author’s use of the Hebrew word reshith in Genesis, Fr. Paul exposes the deficiency of biblical translations. (Episode 124)

On the Hook

People love rules for two reasons. First, they want clear guidelines on what they need to do to be in good standing, and therefore, off the hook. Second, as rule followers, they want a high perch from which to look down and criticize others who, by their measure, do not follow the rules. In Matthew, Jesus teaches that God provides his rules in the Torah because of the hardness of men's hearts. Such laws are not the measure of success, but a minimum requirement from a God who demands perfection of his followers. So Peter—please—do not quote Leviticus to get yourself off the hook for your duty to the Gentiles. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 18:21-22. Episode 334 Matthew 18:21-22; Music: Bama Country by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

Nothing New Under the Sun

In today’s program, Fr. Paul demonstrates the importance of submitting to the order of the Hebrew canon in lieu of historicization. (Episode 123)

If Your Brother Sins

When Jesus said to Peter, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven,” it is usually misunderstood as the gift of personal power, as though Peter is himself invested with divine authority. (Matthew 16:19) This is an incorrect reading. The keys entrusted to Peter are the words handed down to the church in the content of Paul’s gospel—the teaching Peter betrayed in Galatians. These keys do not belong to Peter. They are entrusted to him and to the other disciples to preach, teach, and discern the path of righteousness for the Lord’s flock. Neither the keys nor the flock belongs to Peter. It is the teaching itself, not Peter, that bears God’s authority, holding sway over all of the disciples for the sake of the weaker brother. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 18:15-19. This week’s episode was presented live at the 2020 Symposium of the Orthodox Center for the Advancement of Biblical Studies, in honor of the Jubilee year if Fr. Paul Tarazi’s teaching ministry. Episode 333 Matthew 18:15-19; Music: Achaidh Cheide by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

Asah and Bara

This week, Fr. Paul explains how the biblical author uses the Hebrew terms Asah and Bara to establish the finality of God’s work. (Episode 122)

The Boot of Caesar

When you see George Floyd under the boot of Caesar, you must hear the words of Scripture: “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?” (Galatians 3:1) All of you were, “standing at a distance, seeing these things.” (Luke 23:49) Do you not know that, “God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong”? ( 1 Corinthians 1:27) Have you not heard, that “If you cause the weaker brother harm, “it would be better for [you] to have a heavy millstone hung around [your] neck, and to be drowned in the of the sea”? (Matthew 18:6) This week’s show is dedicated to the eternal memory of George Floyd. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 18:12-14. Episode 332 Matthew 18:12-14; Music: Heartbreaking by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

Ingenious, Indeed

This week, Fr. Paul revisits the biblical author’s use of toledot, noting that Genesis 1:1 and 2:4 form a diptych, the first part as the title for the entirety of scripture and the second as the first section of the Bible dealing with the whole of creation. (Episode 121)

One of These Things Is Not like the Other

The word scandal or stumbling block frequently occurs in Matthew—it’s as important for his book as the word “immediately” is in the Gospel of Mark. In light of the prohibition against causing others to stumble in chapter 18, those not following the original Greek text often assume that “to scandalize” is taboo. But throughout the story, Jesus himself repeatedly causes scandal. So what’s a good scandal? How can you tell it apart from the kind of scandal Jesus condemns in chapter 18? Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 18:7-10. Episode 331 Matthew 18:7-10; Music: Danger Storm by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

Period, Comma?

In this week's program, Fr. Paul explains that the biblical author intended Genesis 1:1-2:4 as a totality on its own and an expansion of Genesis 1:1. (Episode 120)

Turn Like a Child

In the original Greek text of Matthew, when Jesus warns his disciples “unless you are converted and become like children,” his statement calls to mind the Lord’s desire in Ezekiel, “that the wicked [man] turn from his path and live.” (Ezekiel 33:11) In Ezekiel and Matthew, the Lord, who takes “no pleasure in the death of the wicked,” wants his disciples to “turn back” from their evil path. In Matthew, specifically, the evil path is any action that asserts power over others or causes harm, in any way, to the weaker brother. So “turn” Jesus exclaims, and become powerless “like children.” Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 18:1-6. Episode 330 Matthew 18:1-6; Music: Adding The Sun by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

A New Thesis

This week, Fr. Paul introduces a new thesis that the scriptural story's entire message is coded in the first creation account in Genesis 1:1-2:4. (Episode 119)

The Law of Love

In Romans 13, St. Paul dismantles the authority of Caesar by reframing Caesar’s value. Caesar is not important because of his station or the might of Rome. He is useful, however, because his station can be used by God to further the cause of the gospel. In other words, Caesar is God’s pawn. So when Christians are confronted by a tyrant, they must assume that they are dealing, not with the tyrant himself, but with the one who is using the tyrant. So, when faced with taxation under the boot of Caesar, in Matthew 17, Peter need only ask one question: how can I use the opportunity of this tax to further the cause of the gospel? Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 17:24-27. Episode 328 Matthew 17:24-27; Music: Five Armies by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

By Their Families

This week, Fr. Paul explains that, in the Bible, Israel is chosen by the flip of a coin, demonstrating that it is no different than the other nations. The story shows that any one of the nations, like Israel, would have made the same mistakes. (Episode 118)

The Will to Teach

God’s teaching is his will, and his will is the content of his teaching. The speaking and the carrying out of this will has the power to correct our steps, imprinting itself on our heart and replacing human thoughts with, you guessed it, God’s will. For several chapters in Matthew, Jesus himself has repeated his Father’s will that the disciples share the same with those in need: “The harvest is plentiful,” he laments, “but the workers are few.” (Matthew 9:37) One can only imagine his frustration when Jesus receives the complaint: I brought a sick person to your disciples, “and they could not cure him.” (Matthew 17:16) All that was asked of the disciples was to do what Jesus repeatedly taught them to say. Even just a tiny bit. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 17:14-22. Episode 328 Matthew 17:14-22; Music: Faster Does It by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

The First Three Letters

In today’s program, Fr. Paul explains the importance of not only hearing but seeing consonantal Hebrew roots and their interconnection in the original text. (Episode 117)

Son of Man

The title “Son of Man” is a literal translation of the Hebrew phrase ben-adam. In Hebrew, the name Adam means “man.” As such, the biblical expression, son of man, like the modern phrase, human being, applies to anyone and everyone. C.S. Lewis captures this beautifully in the Chronicles of Narnia, where he refers to human beings as the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve. But if everyone is an ordinary son of Adam, why does Matthew elevate “Son of Man” as a unique title for Jesus? The answer lies in examining biblical parallels that are part and parcel with Matthew’s proclamation of the Kingdom: the elevation of the title “shepherd” to a kingly status, of weakness to a sign of God’s might, and the crucifixion to a symbol of victory. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 17:9-13. Episode 327 Matthew 17:9-13; Music: Pilot Error by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

Seeding Seed

In this week’s program, Fr. Paul highlights the way in which the original Hebrew terminology of Genesis creates an important and recurring connection to Genesis 1. (Episode 116)

Son of God

Meaning controls understanding and shapes behavior. When a parent names a child, wittingly, or unwittingly, they assign a meaning to their child. In this sense, the modern practice of choosing a meaningless name that sounds nice should give one pause. In the Gospel of Matthew, the Father controls our understanding of the role of Jesus by controlling when and how Jesus is named Son of God. As a result, we are left with a notion of “king” and “messiah” that dismantles everything we think we understand about divine power. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 17:1-8. Episode 326 Matthew 17:1-8; Music: Darkness is Coming by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

The Command of Yahweh Elohim

This week, Fr. Paul explains the way in which the serpent twists the command of God in Genesis. Shifting to the New Testament, he continues that it is the command of Yahweh Elohim, not theology, that is central to St. Paul’s letters. These letters address the problem of human behavior, not the correct phraseology of human words. (Episode 115)

Accountability for the Cross

In the New Testament, the proclamation of the death of Christ is inextricably bound to the proclamation of his Resurrection. Typical explanations of this link cheapen it by expounding on the psychology of hope, as if the Resurrection is proclaimed as an antidote for the emotional burden of the Cross. On the contrary, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep, is a biblical sign of the coming Kingdom, in which God will hold each of us to account for the Crucifixion. You better believe they’re linked. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 16:24-28. Episode 325 Matthew 16:24-28; Music: Dead Drop by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

Kyrios O Theos

In today’s program, Fr. Paul explains how the critical distinction between Elohim and Yahweh Elohim in the Old Testament informs our understanding of the title Kyrios as it is applied to Jesus in the New Testament. (Episode 114)

Don’t Pick a Side

Human beings are tribal. Even in the United States, where community has evaporated, we find a way to pick sides. Driven by primal instinct, we worship, unflinchingly, the twin gods of ideology and brand, allowing fear and greed to control our fate. The Apostle Peter is no different. He too wanted to pick a side. Peter’s confession—rather, the teaching that God put into Peter to confess—rightly proclaimed Jesus as God’s earthly representative and the king of all the nations. On the face of it, this seems like a great idea, until Peter realizes that his side may be in opposition to Jesus’ rule, and that being the Son of Abraham’s God will not lead to the victory Peter desires. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 16:21-23. The Ephesus School Network is expanding. We now have four podcasts released each week. Our newest addition, Tewahido Bible Study is released on Mondays, followed by Tarazi Tuesdays, Teach Me Thy Statutes on Wednesday, and our flagship program, the Bible as Literature podcast, on Thursdays. More programming is planned in the near future. Our goal is to help you meditate on the precepts of the Lord every day of the week. Please visit to learn more and subscribe. Episode 324 Matthew 16:21-23; Music: Funeral March for Brass by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

Yahweh Elohim

This week Fr. Paul discusses the movement in Genesis from Elohim to Yahweh Elohim, reminding us that the itinerary of biblical words forces us to be patient as the story unfolds. (Episode 113)

Simon, Bar Jonah

Over the years, we’ve insisted on the biblical principle that the integrity of the teacher is irrelevant to their function. To illustrate this point, God repeatedly chooses sinners, like the Prophet Jonah, to spread his word. Insofar as they repeat the words of Scripture, the one who teaches Scripture has no bearing on the mission. It’s like in fantasy movies, when a ghost or an alien takes over someone’s body and controls their speech. Everyone watching the program knows that it is not they who are speaking. Likewise, when a priest stands up to read the Gospel aloud in the assembly, it is not he who is speaking. In Matthew, when Peter speaks correctly about the Christ, it is only because God, through his Spirit, put the correct words in Peter’s mouth. Whether he himself lives up to these words is an entirely different matter. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 16:17-20 Please join Richard and Fr. Marc for a free webinar series on Ephesians 4, sponsored by the Orthodox Christian Leadership Inititivative on April 11 and 25 at 8am PST / 11am EST. To register for the webinar, please visit and click “events.” Episode 323 Matthew 16:17-20; Music: Night Vigil by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

The Moon and the Sun

In today’s program, Fr. Paul continues his discussion of the plural Elohim as it relates to the Moon and the Sun in Genesis 1, noting that modern addressees are too far removed from the historical setting to easily grasp the author’s intent. (Episode 112)

It’s Time to Take a Stand

Beginning with the genealogy in chapter 1, the Gospel of Matthew challenges its addressees to rethink their understanding of the words “king” and “kingdom.” Now, in chapter 16, as they enter a city named after Philip of Macedon, the chips are down. If Peter truly understands the lesson of the bread and can discern the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees, can he tell the difference between the Son of Man and the Son of the gods? It’s time for Peter to take a stand. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 16:13-16 Please join Richard and Fr. Marc for a free 3-week webinar series on Ephesians 4, sponsored by the Orthodox Christian Leadership Inititivative on April 4, 11, and 25 at 8am PST / 11am EST. To register for the webinar, please visit and click “events.” Episode 322 Matthew 16:13-16; Music: Devastation and Revenge by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

Why the Plural?

This week, Fr. Paul unpacks the power of the grammatically plural noun, Elohim, explaining how it functions to supplant all other deities in the Bible. (Episode 111)

The Bread of the Gospel

Faced with stubborn teenagers, a wise parent is steadfast and repetitive. Nothing under the heavens—save the feet of those that preach the gospel—is more beautiful than a parent who disciplines through repetition. By patiently and stubbornly repeating a wise statement, the parent inscribes wisdom in such a way that it can never be erased. Maybe that’s why the topic of bread keeps reappearing in Matthew. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 16:5-12. Episode 321 Matthew 16:5-12; Music: Study And Relax by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

Factual is the Opposite of Real

In today’s program, Fr. Paul explains the difference between factual and real, and ends with a subtle observation about the deception of the serpent in Genesis. (Episode 110)

A Sign From Heaven

In good times and bad, in peace and at moments of crisis, an evil generation seeks a sign. We want a sign that the good times will keep rolling. We want assurances that the crisis of this moment will come to an end. That’s why we’re “an evil generation”—because we look for signs in the world that satisfy our appetite for comfort and security. Such signs—the projection of our fears—are most certainly evil. The only valid sign in God’s eyes is the sign post he plants in our eyes through the hearing of his instruction. That’s why no sign will be given to us, “except the sign of Jonah.” (Matthew 16:4) Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 16:1-4. Episode 320 Matthew 16:1-4; Music: Air Prelude by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:

Real and Realistic

This week, Fr. Paul expands on the problem of projecting into the biblical text or it’s actual setting—whether historical or geographic. (Episode 109)

On the Way

Whenever we encounter a repeat of any biblical parable, the first and most important question is to ask why the author is repeating this story here, and secondly, how they have have changed certain elements of the story in order to make their specific point. This question is even more curious when the repetion happens within the same book. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 15:32-39. Episode 319 Matthew 15:32-39; Music: Painful Disorientation by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:


This week, Fr. Paul tackles the versatility of the Hebrew word elohim, exposing the frailty and reductive tendencies of English translations. (Episode 108)

Up on the Mountain

When Scripture deals with the question of healing, it’s tempting to think of modern medicine, which places its focus on the wellbeing of an individual body. But the very nature of the physical body is what makes it so useful for making the Bible’s point: just as a human body is made up of several parts that all work together, so too is a human community; moreover, just as a physical body is restored by medical therapy, so too a body politic—made up of a group (or groups) of people—is restored by a very specific and narrowly defined therapy found only in the content of the Bible. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 15:29-31. Episode 318 Matthew 15:29-31; Music from: “Sinfonia No. 3 in D Major - BWV 789” by Kevin MacLeod ( License: CC BY (http://

The Author’s Intent

In today’s episode, Fr. Paul explains how the assumptions we make about the meaning of words obscures the author’s intent. (Episode 107)

If I Were a Rich Man

Some people have to work two jobs or more to make ends meet. They can’t afford childcare or healthcare. Each day, they battle the same frustrations and emotions that each of us carry inside, with the added misery of poverty and disadvantage. The working poor live among us, hidden in plain sight. Yet, those of us who have time to read the New York Times, to browse the web, or listen to podcasts—those of us with time and access—often complain that we don’t have time. This complaint echoes the cry of the disciples in Matthew, who repeatedly beg Jesus to send the needy away. The Syrophoenician woman in Matthew is Lord’s answer to this complaint. Like that of the disciples, her cry is persistent, but it reflects a different kind of thinking, one born out of need. “If I were rich man,” the famed Tevya exclaimed, “I would discuss the holy books with learned men seven hours every day. That would be the sweetest thing of all.” (Fiddler on the Roof) Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 15:21-28. Episode 317 Matthew 15:21-28; Music from: “Jewish Blues” by The Art of Seven ( License: CC BY (http://

Bereshit Bara Elohim

This week, Fr. Paul explains how the first three words of the Bible are practically unintelligible without a working knowledge of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament. (Episode 106)

Thank You, God of the Universe

The way students are formed in the contemporary West makes it difficult for our minds to accept the empirical truth of functionality. There are many reasons for this, none more insidious than our desire to control the world through our assessment of it. In doing so, we can’t but enshrine something wicked as our good thing, good tradition, good person, or worst of all, good ruler. Why? Because in the folly of our own judgment, we believe that we are good. In Scripture, there is only one who is good, not because we recognize him as such, but because he has said so. Until you come to terms with this fact and the meaning of functionality in all its facets, you will never truly be set free from the tyranny of Hellenism, and you will never understand the Bible. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 15:10-14. Episode 316 Matthew 15:10-14; Music from “Shades of Spring” by Kevin MacLeod ( License: CC BY (http://

There is No “Is”

This week, Fr. Paul continues his discussion of itinerant words with a review of the particulars of Hebrew. (Episode 105)

The Problem of Fundamentalism

When the scribes and the Pharisees complain that the Lord’s disciples do not wash their hands, even if they are referring to Exodus 30, their understanding of the washing of hands is rooted in ignorance and fundamentalism. When the Lord deals with the question of clean and unclean in the Bible, do we really think he’s talking about hygiene? Is that what God’s teaching is telling us? Please wash up before you eat? Really? So does that mean that if you don’t get sick from bread handled by dirty hands you are righteous? Really? What spirit has disabled your brain such that you really believe that food contaminated from dirty hands is the measure of clean and unclean in the eyes of God? Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 15:10-14. Episode 315 Matthew 15:10-14; Music from “Severe Tire Damage” by Kevin MacLeod ( License: CC BY (http://

The Itinerant Word

This week, Fr. Paul begins a second reading of Genesis 1-11. (Episode 104)

Dirty Hands

There is nothing—nothing—that justifies disobedience or disregard for the commandments of God. Nothing. In Galatians, St. Paul exclaims that no one, none of the other apostles, not even an angel from heaven—no one—can contradict the teaching of God. In the Gospel of Matthew, no human words can even be presented as though they are a teaching. It is only the written words of God that can be our true elders, teaching us how to treat the human elders in our life and showing us the true meaning of clean and unclean hands. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 15:1-9. Episode 314 Matthew 15:1-9; Music from “Five Armies” by Kevin MacLeod ( License: CC BY (http://


In today’s episode, Fr. Paul concludes his reading of Genesis 11, continuing his discussion of the Toledot of Terah, noting the importance of the name Nahor. Fr. Paul illuminates his reading of chapter 11 by taking time to review examples of equestrian imagery from the Book of Job and Psalms. Over the past one hundred or so episodes, Fr. Paul has repeatedly emphasized the importance, first, of Genesis 1-4, and later Genesis 1-11. With this in mind. before we move on to chapter 12, Richard and I thought it would be helpful for Fr. Paul to take a pause and revisit these these texts from a different angle. We’ll say a bit more about this in our introduction to this program next week, so stay tuned. (Episode 103)

Who’s Afraid of Ghosts?

People doubt the Bible. They make excuses for difficult verses and express concern about biblical metaphors that fall out of step with cultural norms. Instead of placing trust in the teaching, maybe they trust in their own words about the teaching. Maybe they co-opt the Bible to serve their political ideology or their religion, placing trust—not in God—but in princes and sons of men. We say we want God to command us, but not really. “All men,” David proclaims, “are liars.” (Psalm 116:11) We lie to ourselves and we we lie to God. When the going gets tough, we do not want to teach what we are commanded to teach, and we definitely do not want to walk according to its precepts. We think it’s too hard, too risky, or too out of step. “O ye, of little faith.” (Matthew 14:31) Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 14:22-34. Episode 313 Matthew 14:22-34; Music from “Night in Venice” by Kevin MacLeod ( License: CC BY (http://

The Missing Toledot

This week, Fr. Paul continues his discussion of the Toledot of Shem, noting that Abraham does not have a Toledot in Scripture but is instead placed within the Toledot of Terah. (Episode 102)

The Daily Bread

When Jesus commissioned his disciples in Matthew 10, he admonished them, saying: “Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support.” (Matthew 10:9-10) In giving this order, Jesus reflected his Father’s instruction in Deuteronomy: “The word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.” (Deuteronomy 30:14) If the word is near you, in Matthew, it means that you already have what you need for the journey. If the word is near you, you do not need a city or a village in order to survive. “I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it.” (Deuteronomy 30:15-16) If the disciples have everything that they need to live and multiply, why do they doubt Jesus? Why do they want to send the people away? Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 14:13-21. Episode 312 Matthew 14:13-21; Music from “Aquarium” by Kevin MacLeod ( License: CC BY (http://

Toledot of Shem

In this week’s program, Fr. Paul continues his discussion of Genesis 11, turning to the toledot of Shem. (Episode 101)

The Coalition of the Blind

It’s hard to believe, but, yes, it’s possible. There can be an argument in which all points of view are categorically wrong. There can be a situation in which everyone is absolutely certain, and at the same time, have absolutely no idea what they are doing. It’s not only possible, but typical of human power structures. The King is blind. His mistress is blind. Her daughter is blind. The mob, who fancy themselves admirers of the Lord’s prophet, are blind. The king’s dinner guests are blind. Together, these buffoons form a government of the people, by the people, and for the king, in opposition to the Kingdom of God. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 14:6-12. Episode 311 Matthew 14:6-12; Music from “The Entertainer” by Kevin MacLeod ( License: CC BY (http://

To Moisten

Today marks the 100th episode of Tarazi Tuesdays on the Bible as Literature. Three years ago, Fr. Paul, Richard, and I began a journey, gathering online for early morning recording sessions on themes carefully selected from Fr. Paul's opus, The Rise of Scripture. A year later, on February 13, 2018, we released the first episode to the public, appropriately titled, The Rise of Scripture. Since then, it has been a marathon and an avalanche of knowledge all at once. Each week, Richard and I listen intently to Fr. Paul as he unpacks the text with exquisite discipline and attention to detail. No doubt, we have both grown from the experience, as have you, the listeners—or as Fr. Paul would say, the "hearers." Congratulations to Fr. Paul on his 100th episode. May God grant him many years, and may today's program be the first of many such milestones in this series. (Episode 100)

This Is John the Baptist and These Are His Enemies

The classic tension between king and prophet in the Bible can only be understood in light of a third, malevolent character. Like the king, this character stands in opposition to God, even when it proclaims its love for the prophet. The mob, as we’ve said for weeks, has a part to play in human tyranny. In Matthew 14, Herod’s fear of this third party leads him into direct conflict with God’s law. It really doesn't matter that the crowd reveres John the Baptist. Their perverse relationship with Herod, motivated by their own fears, can't but lead to destruction. As the Jesus said, "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force." Matthew 11:12 Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 14:1-5. Episode 310 Matthew 14:1-5; Music from “Limit 70” by Kevin MacLeod ( License: CC BY (http://

One Language

This week, Fr. Paul begins his discussion of Genesis 11 by explaining the significance in the story of the peoples of the earth speaking the “same language.” He notes that the story of the Tower of Babel, like Scripture itself, is anti-imperial. (Episode 99)

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