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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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