Dear Joshua Harris

Howdy. Looks like it’s been a pretty big week (month?) for you. I have to admit, I never read your book on kissing dating goodbye, but I did appreciate your comments on discontinuing the book a few years back.

Why am I writing? That’s a great question. I’ve seen comments and diatribe by people after your recent statements about your “deconstruction.”

I know you know and realize this, but they’re all full of crap. I know you’re fully aware of the doctrinal and theological points those folks are making. And I’m also sure you’re aware that the motives of those sorts of comments, while the writers would like to deny it, is usually preaching to their own audience and not really out of genuine concern for you or anyone else but themselves.

Anyway, Josh (can I call you Josh?), I wanted to let you know that I think deconstruction of your faith is a good thing. Especially if you were brought up in a fear-based, rules-driven, legalistic environment. Pardon my language, readers, but Josh — deconstruct the hell out of that shit.

I don’t have the answers. I don’t even have the questions. I do claim to be a Christian, but I’m not going to throw doctrine at you or tell you you’re serving Satan or try to sell you fire insurance. Lord knows you’ve had enough of that recently. From my perspective, what Jesus did during his ministry was open up his life and just be with people. He loved them for no other reason than that’s who he was, and what he did.

If you just want to hang out with someone who isn’t going to try and “convert” you (whatever that means), I’m here. Heck, I live in Bellingham and I hear you’re just up the street in Vancouver, BC. Come on down for dinner sometime with my family. We’ll fire up the grill, have something yummy. My boys (6, 2) will run around all crazy-like and be really noisy — especially if the 2 year old “sings”. My daughter (12) will probably just read. We can sit on the deck — well, unless it’s raining — and talk about absolutely nothing theological. You can just relax, and breathe.

That’s actually a serious offer. Use the contact form or email to rick at faithlife dot com. Either way, I hope you get the space you need, and that your path becomes more clear to you.


Update on Acts of Pilate: A Greek Reader

Here’s some more information on my Acts of Pilate Greek reader.

Appian Way Press

ActaPilati-sample-001 Sample excerpt

We hope to publish Rick Brannan’s The Acts of Pilate and the Descent of Christ to Hades: A Greek Reader in August, 2018. It will be the second volume released in the Appian Way Greek Readers series. It is projected to be a 155 page volume with a low price of $9.95.

Like the inaugural volume in the Appian Way Greek Readers series, the Acts of Pilate Greek reader will have the following features:

  • Greek Text: The Greek text of Tischendorf’s Acts of Pilate A and the Greek text of Tischendorf’s The Descent of Christ to Hades.
  • Reading Notes: Every word that occurs 20x or fewer in the Greek New Testament is noted with the form in the text, the lemma or dictionary form of the word, the part of speech, the number of NT instances, and a short gloss.
  • Section Heads: Section headings in English are inserted…

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I am appalled.


Photo from @AppalledStatue

I am appalled that government officials, acting in official capacity, are quoting the Bible to justify government policies. I don’t care if their interpretation is correct or incorrect; while acting in official capacity, they shouldn’t be using a religious document to justify a governmental policy. (Attorney General appealing to Romans 13; Press Secretary appealing to “biblical” positions to define legality.)

I am appalled (but not surprised) that celebrity “preachers” are totally misreading scripture to justify and support governmental positions. (Robert Jeffress, anyone? And Paula White’s anachronistic and wrong reading of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus’ status as refugees in Egypt — really Paula? And pretty much anything Franklin Graham, who has lost any future support I might ever throw Samaritan’s Purse’s way, says or does. These and those like them are sycophants and should be cut off.)

I am appalled at the state of public dialog on social media. For all sides, people.

I am appalled at the current political climate.

I am appalled at the state of racism in America today.

I am appalled at our degenerate two-party system, where every single issue is predictably binary. There is no way the populace of this country is so evenly and reliably divided. Think, people. Free your minds from MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, and those crazy web sites that shall not be named. Think!

I am appalled at how one political party drapes themselves in a label of “pro-life” while enthusiastically supporting policies that have anything but a positive effect on life.

I am appalled at how the other political party drapes themselves in a label of “pro-choice” while damning babies to be killed in utero.

I am appalled that “pro-life” these days apparently means “pro-white-american-in-utero-life.”

I am appalled by the trauma inflicted on children through forcible separation from their parents. This needless policy scars these children for life. This is not a pro-life position — I don’t care what country they’re in or what country they are officially citizens of.

I am appalled at how the party of free trade has violated agreements and started trade wars on multiple fronts that suck life and finances from the people they purport to be representing.

I am appalled at how the party of Reagan appears to prefer standing with despots and dictators instead of standing against tyranny with trusted and reliable allies.

I am appalled at how the party of Roosevelt, Truman, and Kennedy seems to be simply plugging their nose, holding their breath, and trying to wait this thing out until the election. Well, you know, except for saying inflammatory things on social media.

I am appalled with the legislative and executive branches of our government. Sometimes (most times), I think we should all just vote against incumbents at the federal level and hope for the best.

I am appalled that abortion is a litmus test for both major parties, and that anything but total victory for either party on this issue is off the table. I hate abortion, but I want it to decrease, not increase. Congress could muster support and pass a bipartisan law today on abortion, only allowing it in certain circumstances (rape, incest, harm to mother). I would support this. Why hasn’t it been done? Because for both parties it would hurt fundraising ability and hinder the ability to demonize the other side to cajole votes on the federal level.

An ending note: This is my blog, my platform. Comment what you want, but don’t expect it to be approved, and don’t expect me to respond.

Review: Greek Apocryphal Gospels, Fragments and Agrapha: A New Translation

John Kight also provides the first review (that I know of) for my Greek Apocryphal Gospels volume. Enjoy! And thanks, John!

35873454Rick Brannan is the author of Lexical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles: First Timothyand Second Timothy: Notes on Grammar, Syntax, and Structure, both published in 2016 by Appian Way Press. Brannan is also the general editor of the Lexham English Septuagint, an editor for the Lexham English Bible, as well as the contributor of the introduction and translation of John and the Robberin the opening volume of New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016) by Tony Burke and Brent Landau. Most recently, Lexham Press has published Brannan’s translation of the Greek Apocryphal Gospels, fragments, and agrapha.

Greek Apocryphal Gospels, Fragments and Agrapha: A New Translation is a lucid collection of ancient documents related to early Christianity, including longer stories connected to the life of Jesus (Gospels), smaller pieces of material with written words about Jesus (Fragments), as well as unwritten sayings attributed to Jesus (Agrapha). Still…

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Review: The Apostolic Fathers: A New Translation

John Kight provides the first review (that I know of) for my translation of the Apostolic Fathers. Enjoy! And thanks, John!

35873453Rick Brannan is the author of Lexical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles: First Timothyand Second Timothy: Notes on Grammar, Syntax, and Structure, both published in 2016 by Appian Way Press. Brannan is also the general editor of the Lexham English Septuagint, an editor for the Lexham English Bible, as well as the contributor of the introduction and translation of John and the Robberin the opening volume of New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures(Eerdmans, 2016) by Tony Burke and Brent Landau. Most recently, Lexham Press has finally published Brannan’s translation of the Apostolic Fathers.

The Apostolic Fathers: A New Translation is a fresh and readable alternative to some of the more widely used contemporary translations of the Apostolic Fathers, particularly The Apostolic Fathers in English by Michael W. Holmes (3rd ed., Baker Academic, 2006) and The Apostolic Fathersby Bart D. Ehrman (2 vol., Harvard University Press…

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Physical Descriptions of the Antichrist


Luca Signorelli’s 1501 depiction of the face of antichrist, from the Orvieto Cathedral (via Wikipedia)

If you’ve read this blog for awhile, you know that I’ve been working on a new translation and introduction to First Apocryphal Apocalypse of John (1 Apocr. Apoc. John) for awhile. It will appear in vol. 2 of Burke & Landau’s New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures. My contribution is very nearly done. I just received the hopefully last round of feedback from one of the editors (thanks, Brent!).

One thing about really good editors (and in my view, both Tony Burke and Brent Landau are really good editors) is that they know where to ask for more, and when to leave things be. A good editor knows when and where to push to make the contribution better. In this last round, Brent pushed back about one of the more interesting passages in 1 Apocr. Apoc. John: A physical description of the antichrist. Here’s the text:

The appearance of his face is dark, the hairs of his head (are) as sharp as arrows. His eyebrows (are) like a field, his right eye like the morning star rising and his other (eye) like a lion. His mouth is a cubit’s breadth, his teeth a broad span. His fingers (are) like sickles, his footprint two spans, and upon his forehead, an inscription: ‘antichrist.’

There are other ancient writings that give brief physical descriptions of the antichrist. News flash: They don’t all agree. Brent helpfully asked how this description compares to other descriptions. It is a good question, so I’ll need to at least add a footnote with minimal discussion here.

All of this is background to the reason for this post. In digging around to find other physical descriptions of the antichrist, I came across the following citation:

Rosenstiehl, J.M. 1967. Le portrait de l’antichrist. Vol 1, pp. 45–63 in Pseudepigraphes de l’Ancien Testament et manuscrits de la mer mort. Cahiers de la RHPR1 1, ed. M. Philonenko, et al. Paris.

My biblical studies library resources are limited here in Bellingham, so I put the call out on the Twitter, and was answered (thanks, Ian). A scan was on its way. In French, but that’s not a huge deal. Upon arrival of the scan, I realized this was a pretty sweet source (and very appropriate for my needs). It provided over 20 excerpts of descriptions of an antichrist figure from several different writings (including 1 Apocr. Apoc. John!).

Now, I needed to get translations, and my French is only as good as I can fake through my Spanish and the little I know of Latin. This means it isn’t great. So on Saturday I started keying the excerpts and feeding them to Google Translate to get a rough translation.

I figure this might be useful information to others out there, so I have a Google doc that lists the descriptions, in order, with sources, with the French first followed by the English. The English is a translation of the French unless otherwise noted. View the document.

If you know French better than I do (likely), feel free to suggest an edit to the English. I’ll probably accept it, I’d just rather not have wide-open editing on this document.

Stuff Early Christians Read

I’m hoping (not promising) to write a series of posts introducing and examining various collections of works and individual works outside of the New Testament that early Christians likely read.

This is tenatively planned to include stuff like the Septuagint, the Apostolic Fathers, other writings from early Christian writers (e.g. Clement of Alexandria, Melito of Sardis), and various writings collectively labeled as “Christian Apocrypha.”

Some Background

Over 4.5 years ago, I organized a class at my church that we called Stuff Early Christians Read. The goal was to give a very high level introduction to non-canonical sources the early church read and copied. I had the extra benefit of friends and colleagues well versed in other relevant literature (Judaica, Dead Sea Scrolls, and Pseudepigrapha) who did the introductions to those particular corpora. I focused on LXX, Apostolic Fathers, and Christian Apocrypha. It was a hoot. Since then, I’ve toyed with the thought of expanding the material I was responsible for into a book, but simply haven’t got around to it.

But it is good material. So I want to try to be semi-disciplined and work through the material, expanding and researching and writing as a I go. The best-case scenario is that I actually make my way through the material and end up with a rough draft that I can then further edit and revise into something publishable. The worst case is that I write one post and then the crazyness of life takes over and I never finish it. The reality is we’ll probably end up somewhere in between those two scenarios. I think it’s worth trying.

2017 can kiss my …

I’ll let you fill in that blank.

As I have told others, there was one great thing about 2017, and his name is Josiah. Our son was born on February 10, 2017; and we met him on February 11. We received guardianship on February 14, and he was legally adopted on May 28, 2017.

Outside of that bright shining light, 2017 was a year I’d like to kick in the hiney on its way out the door.

2018, may your suckage never start, and your goodness never end.

For context, some earlier posts: Riding the Roller Coaster, When Life Sucks.

Riding the Roller Coaster

Life is a roller coaster. And life, at present, is a doozy of a coaster. Spins, turns, loop-de-loops, climbs, rapid descents and curves. You name it, it’s there. Puts anything at Six Flags to shame.

Sleep? Yeah, right. I’m lucky to get it in 3 hour chunks. If I get more than 5 consecutive (or cumulative!) hours in a night, it’s amazing.

Quiet? Not in our house. We have an 8-month-old who I’m sure will be the kid who needs to be taught how to whisper. And a 5-year-old who loves to play cars. Crashing. Bashing. Fast. On the hardwood floor.

And there’s the 10-year-old, who is more quiet than the 5-year-old, but old enough to be riding the family waves of situational stress and distress along with us.

It seems like we slide from one crisis to another to another, whether within our own house, or with extended family. All with the soundtrack of our not-so-dull-roar of life in the background. And foreground. (But no “Frontground”. Let the reader understand.)

I’m irritable. I’m stretched thin. I’m tired. And sometimes, after the kids are in bed, I just sit at the top of the stairs and cry.

I was reminded again today, though, that in the midst of it all, God is there. Life can be crazy, but the God who gives faith and hope until we no longer need it (1 Cor. 13:8–13) — this God is there. Present. With me, and with those I love.

For the briefest of moments today, I had peace from this thought: I am his, and I cannot be taken from him (John 10:27–29).

μαρανα θα (1 Cor. 16:21). Come, Lord Jesus (Rev. 21:20).

What’s next for the Appian Way Press?

If you’re wondering what I’ll publish next with Appian Way Press, read on to find out.

Appian Way Press

AppianWayPressThis is a very good question.

We’d hoped to publish the Second Timothy volume in Rick Brannan’s Lexical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles, but Rick’s progress on that has been slow due to lots of life changes with a new son. It means Rick doesn’t have much extended time to spend researching and writing that volume, and its production has lagged.

So Rick has been looking for a project he could make progress on with random spots of time, usually not more than 90 minutes or so. He thinks he’s found something to fit that bill.

In researching and writing a new introduction and translation to the First Apocryphal Apocalypse of John for volume two of Burke and Landau’s New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures, Rick prepared an edition of Tischendorf’s Greek version of the document. The vocabulary is mostly also found in the New Testament. It is not…

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