by Bil Aulenbach

Biblical interpretation

A Nonparade Parade

On Palm Sunday, Christians reenact the story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey while crowds cheer him as a king.

I don’t think such an event ever happened, but I do think great truths are hidden in that story.

I can’t imagine the Romans ever allowing Jesus’s Followers to have a parade with thousands of angry (occupied) Jews gathered in confined spaces.… Read more >

Paul the Apostate

I think apostate is a more appropriate title for Paul than apostle. Paul appointing himself an apostle has always irritated me, as has Paul as a person.

Let me start with some definitions:

  • Apostate: “A person who forsakes his religion, cause, party, etc.” Paul abandoned mainstream Judaism when he proclaimed Jesus to be the Messiah.
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Why 153 Fish?

Whenever I read the story of Jesus and the miraculous catch of fish in John 21:1–14, I wondered why John specified that 153 fish were caught. Why not 150? Or 111? Or 666?

The story began with Jesus’s third postcrucifixion appearance to his disciples at the Sea of Galilee (which is really a lake).… Read more >

The Poor Need Money, Not Congratulations

I have never liked Luke 6:20, which says “Congratulations, you poor!” in newer translations. I think that’s demeaning. If I were a poor person, I’d be offended, especially once Luke adds, “For yours is the kingdom of God.” Yippee! I get the kingdom of God—except I have no idea what the kingdom of God is.… Read more >

Jesus Loved Picnics

Jesus must have loved picnics. The Gospels recount two humongous picnics hosted by Rabbi Jesus.

The Gospels call them feedings instead of picnics, but that’s just semantics. Both picnics and feedings happen outside on the ground despite challenging weather and insects.

Mark’s descriptions of the two picnics are long winded (6:30–44 and 8:1–10).… Read more >

Was Jesus Trilingual?

Jesus is one of the best-known names on earth, though we don’t know much about him other than he was Jewish, he was born in Galilee, he was an itinerant preacher who was crucified as a criminal, and his message changed the course of civilization. When trying to figure out who the real Jesus was, one often has to compare information from the Gospels and history and then draw conclusions.… Read more >

Do You Really Want To?

John 5:1–18 recounts the story of Jesus healing a man at the pool of Bethesda.” I reviewed it the other day, and suddenly a light bulb turned on in my mind.

Don’t forget: Not one story in the Gospel of John is literally true. John is full of figurative truths, metaphors, and gross exaggerations but light on details, which leads to much speculation.… Read more >

Happy Baloney Day—January 6

Happy what? Baloney Day? January 6?

January 6 is really the feast day of the Epiphany, when the church celebrates the Magi bringing gifts to the infant Jesus in Bethlehem.

This story is found in the Gospel of Matthew 2:1–12. It first appeared nine decades after Jesus was born. This tale was never intended to give accurate information about the birth of Jesus.… Read more >

“Congratulations, You Poor!” Huh?

I have never been poor—short on money, yes. I barely scraped by in college. After college, I enlisted in the Marine Corps, hoping to be selected for the Officers Candidate School. As a private, I made $73 a month, or $2.39 a day.

After I was ordained, I worked in the mission field for $2,400 a year with a house, a car, and medical insurance included.… Read more >