As my blog has continued to evolve, it has become more and more academic in nature. It would only be expected that the common questions that I get revolve around my material. For those interested, I should begin by making just a few observations:

My blog is not intended to be authoritative. You will notice that I do not quote sources and give footnotes within this current blog series (which began back in late January of 2013). This is because of the audience of this blog series. I did not want the audience to be academic, I sought to bridge the academic gap to the nominal blog reader. Readability is my goal.

I am not the authority — but I love to study those who are. I've never wanted to write from the academic posture, since I'm not qualified to do so. This may change in the future (I am contemplating my next blog series; most likely a couple years out) and I will include more "research footnotes" in my posts. But please know, I am not "the source" to quote or the resource to footnote.

Because of the points above, this series is simply meant to be a discussion starter. It's meant to be a jumping off point — something to turn the student's studious gaze in a direction of study and a suggested answer to the common question, "Where do I begin to look?"


My personal faith and theology has been shaped by three major voices. Understanding these voices is a large jump in understanding my worldview and perspective. I am grateful to their work in the world and indebted to them for how God has used their voices to "intersect" in my life to create what God is doing in me. Let me share with you my main influences:

Long before he was such a provocative and famous figure, Rob Bell shaped my language, my teaching style and the philosophical side of my theology. I can say without hesitation that the way the Bell was articulating the Christian faith ten years ago (and still today) saved my spiritual journey.

Ray VanderLaan has been a key shaper in my understanding of the historical world of the Bible. If Bell helped shape my language and philosophy, then VanderLaan gave me the content to back up that worldview. It is through my learning under Ray that has pointed me in all of the directions that I use for my study in hermeneutics.

Finally, from an orthodox Jewish perspective, the teachings of Rabbi David Fohrman have shaped my interaction with the Tanakh (and indirectly the New Testament). I am more aware of Jewish literary tools and styles because of Fohrman. His work on the book of Genesis is just astounding. Much of this teaching I heard years ago and has since been removed from cyberspace.


First of all, I would begin any introduction to the world of Jewish studies with a reading of Lois Tverberg (Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus and Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus). I would also look into reading from Bruce Feiler (books like Walking the Bible).

James Michener's The Source is phenomenal (historical fiction) in helping a person get acquainted with the world of Biblical archaeology. In a similar fashion, The Gifts of the Jews by Thomas Cahill is absolutely a must-read in its ability to take the literary aspects of the biblical narrative and show how revolutionary ancient Judaism was (and continues to be) for the eastern world.

Epic of Eden written by Sandra Richter (Harvard) is a great semi-introductory read.

The Bible As It Was (by Kugel) is a great synopsis of the different midrashic traditions.

If you'd like to learn more about the first century world of the Middle East, you shouldn't miss anything by Kenneth Bailey. I would also recommend New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus by Bivin. The Gospel According to Moses is an often-quoted read as well as Wilson's Our Father Abraham. Anything from Brad Young will be great.

While most of the truly scholarly works require financial commitment to access or purchase (such as Encyclopedia Judaica), a person can read great Jewish thinkers like Abraham Joshua Heschel (most renowned work is The Prophets) and David Flusser was known as being one of the modern era's preeminent experts on the Jewish Jesus.

N.T. Wright is the leading thinker of what's often called "Kingdom Theology" or the gospel of the Kingdom of God.

When it comes to Roman culture, a person should acquaint themselves with John Dominic Crossan, E.P. Sanders and Ben Witherington.

Finally, when studying ancient Roman culture as it relates to things like Revelation, it is essential that a person read Christ and the Ceasars by Ethelbert Stauffer and Roland Worth's two volumes of The Seven Churches of the Apocalypse. Other recommends would include James Carroll's Constantine's Sword or Chilton's Days of Wrath. And last, The Christians: Their First Two Thousand Years is a fantastic series.

It's my hope that this page has been helpful in pointing you away from me as the authority and towards those who are. My hope and prayer is to be able to  bless people as a fellow thinker, doubter, questioner, and teacher. I believe there is still a place in this world for a rogue theologian. Thank you for reading.