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Start Here - Reconstructing The Way of Yeshua

#NoHiding means to stop hiding from your fears, doubts, insecurities and questions behind the false-flag of doctrines, creeds, and traditions... to admit that maybe, just maybe we have missed some important key truths about the Bible, Jesus, and The Gospel... and start a messy journey through #Deconstruction into #Reconstruction.

Reconstructing The Way of Yeshua

Reconstructing The Way of Yeshua
Reconstructing The Way of Yeshua

How well do you understand the Bible?

These are just questions I pondered throughout my lifetime:
  • Do you feel like there is something missing from your faith walk or Christian experience? 
  • Does it feel like there should be more, you could go deeper? 
  • Does Sunday morning feel shallow, or like it just wasn't enough?
  • Does it feel like you show up every Sunday and feel no more connected with the people around you than if you'd stayed home and watched the Online Live experience?
  • Does the Bible seem like it's too complicated, full of confusing stories or statements, or it is too weird -- and you aren't sure how it is relevant?
  • How many alter calls will I have to go to before I finally "feel" like I'm saved?

It's gnawing at you. 

Something is missing, but you can't put your finger on it. 

  • You believe in Jesus. 
  • You try to read your Bible, pray, be a "good Christian" (whatever that is, you're not sure anymore). 
  • You go to church on Sunday, but you can't quite tell why or what you got out of it.
  • You can't quite connect how Sunday connects to the rest of your week.
  • You just feel that something is missing. 
  • You have more questions than answers about faith and the Bible.
    • And when you ask those questions you either get ignored, placated, or given a patronizing answer like "read your Bible and pray more".
If you don't identity with or feel drawn by any of those questions, this article and website probably aren't for you, but you're welcome here anyway! 

If you felt a keen resonance with those questions, this article and website are for you.

I've been asking those questions since the mid 1990s... I finally have some answers. Not all the answers, I'll be exploring that deep well for the rest of my natural life. But I have some... Let me start with a question. This question, for me, was the first thread to unravel the entire knotted weave, and allow me to start to reconstruct the biblical author's actual worldview.

What is the gospel (good news) about Jesus? 

According to many people in western Churchianity and in the general cultural understanding:

The Quasi Gospel:

  • God is perfect
  • I'm a sinner going to hell when I die
  • Jesus died for me
  • If I'll believe that and accept his forgiveness, I can go to heaven when I die. 
That may be what you've heard, or even believe now. 

The challenge with that is Jesus and the Bible.

Challenge: Go read any one of the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke-Acts, or John. (Mark is shortest). Read the book in one sitting, straight through. 

As you read ask: What does this gospel author's Jesus SAY his good news is about?

Then ask: is the Quasi Gospel above the primary message of Jesus?

Can you recreate the Quasi Gospel without referencing any other New Testament writing, from the good news book alone?

What is the good news, according to Mark?

Here is where I went through that exercise as a student in 2020:

For those who either cannot or don't like to read long-form articles, here is the Too Long, Didn't Read (TLDR): 

Will the real Gospel please stand up?

According to the gospel authors (and once you get this, you'll realize the rest of the New Testament authors agree) the good news about Jesus has something to do with Israel and about God's Kingdom arriving on Earth as it is in heaven and Jesus' eventual return as King. 
  • The Gospel of The Kingdom is something Jesus came to fill-full in his day and continue in his people until he returns.
  • The Gospel of The Kingdom is earth-focused and about how we live as new kinds of humans here and now, and it has very little to say about any kind of disembodied future (not nothing to say about it, but not much). 
  • The Gospel of The Kingdom includes a promise that Jesus will return, and when he does, he's bringing Heaven to Earth, not taking us away to Heaven.
  • The Gospel of the Kingdom is about a new way of being human, in community, sharing our lives together, and making pockets of Heaven's authority in our communities; purging the evil from our communities the way a spring melts the ice and snow and causes new fruitfulness. If the people who claim Jesus aren't creating real, practical, meaningful differences in their local, physical community, they are likely serving the Quasi Gospel, not the Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus taught.

If this sounds reasonable to you, you might have been actually reading your Bible with the intent to understand the biblical authors vs parroting doctrinal positions supported by "proof texting", an abhorrent practice of ripping sentences out the biblical texts and pasting them on belief statements. That's not just bad Bible reading, it's bad reading period. That's not how one interacts with an author's work intelligently, thoughtfully, sincerely, and authentically. 

We cannot understand where we erred until we understand what we erred from.

And now for the rest of the story (the long-form answers)... 

How did we get the Quasi Gospel?

Through a long series of events. This is long, but it matters. 

I am going back to the beginning, because it matters a lot if we're going to understand the Bible on its own terms. 

To start, we must understand who Israel is and why it is their story we read, because according to Jesus, this is the basis for everything he was doing. 

Why don't we read about Ancient Peru, or Ancient China? 

Why Israel?

This is Yahweh's story, according to the biblical authors, editors, and redactors... 

The Great Divorce: The Nations and the Problem of Evil

We find in Genesis 1-11 (the prologue of Torah and the rest of the biblical story), a metaphor for the human condition and a way of understanding the brokenness of humanity and its reliance upon empire to control, manipulate, and enslave other humans. 

Most of the evil we find in the world, according to this Genesis prologue, is rooted in:
    (1) Divine beings in rebellion against Yahweh teaching humankind to do bad.
    (2) Individual humans making the choice to ignore Yahweh and decide good and bad for themselves. 
    (3) Humans partnering with divine beings who are not Yahweh to form empires to force their will on other humans.

*Note: That's not "The Fall" of Adam usually talked about in Churchianity.

**Note Too: "Original Sin" was a construct of Augustine and never a concept the biblical authors or later rabbinical tradition picked up. It's first introduction was by Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD). Before Augustine, early Christian writers did reflect on Adam’s sin and its consequences for humanity. However, these reflections varied and did not systematically define a doctrine of Original Sin with the theological structure that Augustine provided.

*** Note Tre: And yet, doesn't this empire-building tendency sound familiar in world in the modern world? -- From my perspective, MAGA is a perfect example of this human/elohim error. It's born from an anti-messiah spirit, and a failure to grasp the real gospel of The Kingdom, clinging instead to a counterfeit.


KEY: This is key to the entire biblical narrative, and why you cannot understand the gospels without understanding the Hebrew Bible. In Abraham, and in Abraham's seed, Yahweh will reclaim the nations.

As a result of these constant rebellions (Genesis 1-11), Yahweh comes to the people of Babel (the ultimate symbol of rebellion against Yahweh according to the biblical authors) and divorces the nations. He assigns those nations to the lesser elohim (the divine beings, lower case gods) and takes a single man for himself, Abram for himself. -- (reference Michael S Heiser. “DEUTERONOMY 32:8 AND THE SONS OF GOD.” Bibliotheca Sacra 158, no. January-March 2001 (2001): 52–74.)

In this one man, this seed, Abram/Abraham, Yahweh will create a nation for himself since the nations have rejected him. But he starts this reclamation project with a promise to Abraham that he will return the nations to himself. 

Genesis 12:3 (NET): "I will bless those who bless you, but the one who treats you lightly I must curse, and all the families of the earth will bless one another by your name." 
Genesis 18:18: "Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him." 
Genesis 22:18: "And through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice."


The People of Wrestling

  • This man, Abraham, trusts Yahweh and makes a relationship covenant with him. 
Genesis 15:6 (NET): "Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD considered his response of faith as proof of genuine loyalty."


  • The Jewish people then trace their origins to Abraham, Issaac, and Jacob. 
  • Jacob "wrestled" with God and won; thus, his name was changed to Israel. 
    • This is the key pivot-point in a family becoming a nation. 
Genesis 32:28 (NET): "Then the man said, 'Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have prevailed.'"
Note: (alternate rendering: wrestled with God and won)

  • It is worth noting that the Jewish community still finds this wrestling in Jacob/Israel as a reference point in their identity to this day. 
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (Orthodox Judaism)

"Hence the unusual conclusion that in Judaism, followership is as active and demanding as leadership. We can put this more strongly: leaders and followers do not sit on opposite sides of the table. They are on the same side, the side of justice and compassion and the common good. No one is above criticism, and no one too junior to administer it, if done with due grace and humility. A disciple may criticise his teacher; a child may challenge a parent; a prophet may challenge a king; and all of us, simply by bearing the name Israel, are summoned to wrestle with God and our fellow humans in the name of the right and the good." -- Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. Lessons in Leadership; A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible. The Gluckman Family Edition. Maggid Books & the Orthodox Union. New Milford, CT: Koren Publishers, 2015.

"Alone among the patriarchs, he dies in exile. Jacob wrestles, as his descendants – the children of Israel – continue to wrestle with the world." --- Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. Covenant and Conversation; Genesis; The Book of the Beginnings. Sefaria: a Living Library of Jewish Texts Online. Maggid Books and the Orthodox Union, 2009-2019, 2009 


 Rachel Wolf (Messianic Judaism)

"To overcome The Story of Exile, a story of endless disappointment resulting in lost hope, our message needs to sprout from the ground of the kind of faith Wiesel describes. This kind of faith does not come automatically with a simple prayer or a good teaching. It is fought for in the dark places of the spirit. Have we truly asked ourselves “Where was God at Auschwitz?” We must face our deepest doubts and fears and find God there. We must wrestle until the dawn breaks, and then not let him go until he blesses us with life we can share. We wrestle to find faith in the dark places of lost hope, not merely for ourselves, but for our people. Our message depends on it." --- Rachel Wolf. “What Is Our Message? – Kesher Journal.” Kesher A Journal of Messianic Judaism, no. Issue 41-Summer/Fall 2022 (August 16, 2022).
  • Israel would go on to have twelve sons whose children would be exiled to Egypt, who would be delivered from Egypt but later exiled again... 

Likewise, we who have been restored to Yahweh wrestle with him and ourselves and our fellow human imagers. It is our high calling to wrestle through the best and worst of times. This article is a result of that wrestling journey.

The Kingdom(s) of Israel

  • It is general consensus, though debated, that Solmon's reign in the United Kingdom of Israel dates to approximately 970-931 BC and based on that marker we can back-trace David (~1000-970 BC) and Saul (~1020-1000 BC). 
    • Ref: Silberman, Neil Asher, and Israel Finkelstein. The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts. Reprint edition. New York London: Touchstone, 2002. 
  • This was the only time in Israel's history when a United Kingdom of Israel existed, exactly three kings; after Solomon a series of good and bad kings ruled the divided Northern Kingdom of Israel and Southern Kingdom of Judah. 
    • Kingdom of Israel (northern) was conquered by the Assyrian Empire in 722 BC.
    • The Kingdom of Judah (southern) was conquered by Babylon in 597 BC, and the temple destroyed in 586 BC.

Writing of the Hebrew Bible

  • In scholarly circles where the integrity of the biblical texts is accepted, there is some scholarly consensus that while many individual portions of the biblical texts were written throughout its history, possibly with portions going back to Moses, the general shape, form, and final editing of the texts took place in and post exile into Babylon. 
    • Note: One of the interesting observations in modern scholarship about the prologue (Genesis 1-11) is its stark similarities to Mesopotamian (Babylon/Ugarit) creation stories, including featuring Babel as the key villain; instead of having any mention of Egypt, which one would expect if Moses had written 1-11.
  • It was from this place of exile that the scribes and scholars of ancient Israel wrestled with the question "How did we get here and how do we ensure it never happens again?"
  • They had been delivered from Egypt as a people, the Exodus was their national birth narrative, and here they were again in exile. 

The TaNaKh (Hebrew Bible) was the product of this wrestling

  • The Hebrew Bible (Jewish Bible) we have today is a single narrative, but it didn't start that way.
  • Many texts were created, written, compiled, edited, and re-edited over the course of at least a thousand years (mostly between 1020 BC to approximately 300-200 BC with portions possibly dating back to Moses much earlier, though that is debated in scholarship).
*Note: I agree with the late Dr Michael S Heiser PhD in Hebrew Bible and Semitic Languages from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, that the Documentary Hypothesis (JDEP) is invalid and a based on circular reasoning, and it contains so many logical fallacies as to be unhelpful; however, it was developed in response to the equally unhelpful insistence that "Moses wrote the whole Torah, every single word", which is demonstrably false (as we'll see below, and above in the Babel reference). It is better to take the Supplementary Hypothesis, that there were many original texts that were copied, edited, redacted, and compiled into the final form. 
Refer to: Michael S Heiser. “Mosaic Authorship of the Torah: Problems with the Documentary Hypothesis (JEDP), Part 3.” Dr. Michael Heiser (blog), March 3, 2012. 


  • The "original" scrolls/texts were a march larger collection, likely maintained by the temple scribes. We do not have most (or any?) of those original larger texts preserved.
  • There are references to these other collections throughout the Hebrew Bible. Even books that go by the name of a single prophet often show direct examples of the editor's hand or the scribe actually doing the written work. 
  • Example of scribe named:
Jeremiah 36:4 (NET): "So Jeremiah summoned Baruch son of Neriah. As Jeremiah dictated, Baruch wrote down on a scroll all the messages that the LORD had spoken to him."


  • Example of later editing (not hidden or secret at all, part of the biblical texts, usually added as a tool to help subsequent generations of readers):
Joshua 8:31 (NET): "Just as Moses, the LORD’s servant, had commanded the Israelites. As it is written in the law scroll of Moses, an altar of whole stones over which no iron tool had been used. They offered burnt sacrifices on it to the LORD, and sacrificed tokens of peace. It is there to this day."


  • Examples of the origin texts from which the final texts took their form:
Joshua 10:13 (NET): "The sun stood still and the moon stood motionless while the nation took vengeance on its enemies. The event is recorded in the scroll of the upright one (the Book of Jashar)."

2 Samuel 1:18 (NET): "He ordered that the people of Judah be taught 'The Bow.' Indeed, it is written down in the Book of Jashar."

Numbers 21:14 (NET): "This is why it is said in the Book of the Wars of the Lord, 'Waheb in Suphah and the ravines, the Arnon.'"

1 Kings 14:29 (NET): "The rest of the events of Rehoboam’s reign, including all his accomplishments, are recorded in the scroll called the Annals of the Kings of Judah."


The Final Form: Tanakh

  • As these scribes worked, copied, edited, re-edited, copied again, and formed a larger collection of texts into this final form, it became a three-part collection of important scrolls. 
  • Ezra and Nehemiah, leading separate groups of exiles at different times, returned to Jerusalem and undertook significant religious and civic reforms. They worked to rebuild the community, its religious practices, and physical structures, including the city's walls, under the auspices of the Persian Empire, to which Judah was a vassal state (~458 BC).
  • It is considered highly probable by some scholars that Ezra was the author/editor of Ezra, Nehemiah, 1 & 2 Chronicles, and they became the capstone on the scroll collections preserving Israel's story.
  • By the time Ezra and Nehemiah's work in the return to Israel eventually evolved into Second Temple Judaism, the short-hand way to refer to these scroll collections were into three groups, the teachings, the prophets, and the writings. 
  • In modern Judaism, the short hand for these three groups is called Tanakh (TaNaKh).
    • The Torah (תורה) (instructions)
      • Note: "law", while an historically valid translation, is a translation that carries meanings into modern American English that were not present in the word Torah.
    • Nevi'im (נביאים) (Prophets)
    • Ketuvim (כתובים) (Writings) 
Jesus/Yeshua, himself a rabbi in Second Temple Judaism referred to this three-part structure:

Luke 24:44 (NET): "Then he said to them, 'These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.'" 
*Note: Psalms is the first book of this third section.

The Middle/Missing Years

For most of my life, I felt that there was something missing. Somehow, the biblical story came to an abrupt halt and then Jesus' story picked up years later. 

Some of that history was obscured to us because of Protestant Christianity's failure to include the books the Jewish rabbis preserved for us. It is generally considered that these additional books are not "canon" or "inspired", but that is really beside the point. These books tell us the story, ideology, and worldview of the Jewish community in the intervening years between the end of Ezra's work and the onset of Judaism under Roman Empire rule.


The Septuagint (LXX) is a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible along with additional books not found in the canonical Hebrew Bible (Tanakh). These additional books are generally considered part of the Apocrypha by Protestant traditions and are also recognized in various forms in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox canons. Here is a list of those books found in the Septuagint but not in the Tanakh:
  • Tobit
  • Judith
  • Wisdom of Solomon
  • Wisdom of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus)
  • Baruch
  • Letter of Jeremiah (sometimes considered a separate book, sometimes as the sixth chapter of Baruch)
  • 1 Maccabees
  • 2 Maccabees
  • Additions to Esther (including the Prayer of Mordecai, and the Dream of Mordecai)
  • Additions to Daniel:
    • The Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy Children (inserted into Daniel 3)
    • Susanna (Daniel 13)
    • Bel and the Dragon (Daniel 14)
These books and additions offer historical narratives, wisdom literature, and enhancements to existing books in the Hebrew canon. They have been influential in Christian and Jewish traditions, providing insights into the period between the Old and New Testaments and enriching liturgical practices and theological discussions.

Textual evidence shows that the New Testament writers, writing in Greek to largely Greek audiences, often used the LXX as their primary biblical record in their communities. It is clear that the LXX is the Bible the early church used, in addition to the Tanakh when and where a Messianic Jewish rabbi was available (like Paul, or Peter, or James).

Two Other Notable Collections

While these collections are from post-biblical traditions, they were collections preserved by these traditions very early, many years before Protestant Churchianity, and they remained echos of this Second Temple Judaism worldview.

Ethiopian Bible

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has a broader biblical canon that includes several books not found in the Tanakh or the Septuagint. This unique collection reflects the distinctive traditions and extensive scriptural canon of the Ethiopian Church. Here are the books included in the Ethiopian Orthodox Bible that are not in the Tanakh or the Septuagint:

  • Enoch (I Enoch)
  • Jubilees
  • I, II, and III Meqabyan (not to be confused with the Books of Maccabees)
  • IV Baruch (also known as the "Paralipomena of Jeremiah")
  • The Book of Joseph as Son of Isaac (often referred to simply as "Joseph")
  • The Book of the Covenant (Mäshafä Kidan)
  • Ethiopic Clement (also known as "Qälëmentos")
  • Ethiopic Didascalia (known as "Didesqelya")

Additionally, the Ethiopian canon includes several books that are found in the Septuagint but not in the Hebrew Bible, such as Sirach, Tobit, and Judith. The presence of these unique books in the Ethiopian canon underscores the rich and distinct scriptural tradition of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, reflecting its ancient roots and the diverse historical influences on Christianity in the region.

Greek Orthodox Bible

The Greek Orthodox Bible, following the tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church, includes several books that are not found in the Protestant canon or the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) but are also included in the Septuagint. Here are the additional books that the Greek Orthodox Church recognizes in its Old Testament:
  • Tobit
  • Judith
  • Wisdom of Solomon
  • Wisdom of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus)
  • Baruch
  • Letter of Jeremiah (often included as a chapter in Baruch)
  • 1 Maccabees
  • 2 Maccabees
  • 3 Maccabees
  • Psalm 151 (considered canonical by the Greek Orthodox Church but not included in the Protestant or Jewish canons)
  • Prayer of Manasseh (often included in appendices or as part of liturgical readings)
  • Additionally, the Greek Orthodox Church includes the Additions to Daniel (The Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Young Men, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon) and Additions to Esther in their canonical forms of these books, which are also found in the Septuagint.
These books are integrated into the liturgy and theology of the Greek Orthodox Church and are valued for their spiritual and historical insights. They reflect a continuity with early Christian traditions that revered these texts as scripture from the earliest times.

Dead Sea Scrolls/ Qumran Discoveries

Everything changed with the discovery (1947) and subsequent revelations (1991) of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the caves at Qumran. 

In the early 1990s, the entire field of biblical scholarship exploded into new understandings; including but not limited to Jewish Studies, New Testament Studies, Second Temple Judaism, and the ideological backdrop and worldview that birthed the "New Testament" writers. Lawrence H. Schiffman and Chaim Potok explain the significance to biblical studies:

"I now realize that the disclosure of even this small part of the Halakhic Letter played a major role in triggering the release of the entire scrolls corpus to scholars and to the public. But its greatest effect on me was to recast in a radical manner the work I had already been doing for years on the Dead Sea Scrolls and, in particular, on their relevance to the history of Jewish law. In many ways, the book that follows is strongly influenced by this text. The recent release of the entire corpus, spurred in large part by this text’s disclosure, has made possible the publication of this volume. Indeed, now that the entire Qumran corpus has become available to us, we can appreciate how much the scrolls tell us about the history of ancient Judaism. Here for the first time is this vital chapter of the scrolls’ story.


In 1947, a young Bedouin shepherd, searching for a lost goat, entered a cave near the shore of the Dead Sea and found seven nearly complete scrolls encased in clay jars. Immediately below the caves lay the ruins of Khirbet Qumran, a site scholars guessed was connected with the scrolls. That initial discovery touched off a widespread search by both Bedouin and archaeologists for other materials.! 
The most extensive find came in 1952 with the penetration of cave 4, wonderfully filled with some 550 manuscripts. The cave was located just opposite the site of Qumran itself. These were the manuscripts that provoked so much controversy, because so many of them remained unpublished and closed to most researchers for the next forty years. Among those fragmentary manuscripts lay hidden some of the most important biblical and Second Temple Jewish texts ever discovered." 


Furthermore, because many Jewish scholars best trained in the reading of Hebrew manuscripts and in their analysis were not included in this work, the pace of publication was seriously retarded. When the controversy finally erupted in 1991, some 50 percent of the titles—but actually only 25 percent of the material—still remained unpublished.

Lawrence H. Schiffman and Chaim Potok, Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls: The History of Judaism, the Background of Christianity, the Lost Library of Qumran (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1994), xviii–xix. & 16–17.

The B'rit Chadashah

The term "B'rit Chadashah" (also spelled "Brit Chadasha") is Hebrew for "New Covenant." It is often used within Messianic Judaism and some Christian contexts to refer to the New Testament of the Bible. The phrase itself translates to "new covenant" and echoes the promise of a renewed relationship between God and humanity as prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, particularly in books like Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 31:31 (NET): "Indeed, a time is coming," says the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah."

Messianic Jews, who believe in Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) as the Messiah and maintain a Jewish identity, use "B'rit Chadashah" to highlight the continuity between the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. This term underscores their belief that, far from cancelling "the law" as is commonly stated, the teachings of Jesus and the writings of the New Testament apostles are a filling-full of the Torah, Prophets, and Writings found in the Hebrew Bible. In this fullness, they become more important to the story of Yeshua and his people, not less.

The use of "B'rit Chadashah" therefore emphasizes the integral link between the testaments and aligns with the theological perspective that sees the New Testament as a continuation and fulfillment of the Old Testament.

Indeed, those influenced by Messianic Judaism scholarship often avoid the terms "Old Testament" and "New Testament" as both the verbiage itself and the cognitive load they bring with them from history imply things about both texts that are untrue and unhelpful.

When one sees the full story from Abraham to Israel's wrestling, to the wrestling of the biblical authors of the Tanakh, to the wrestling letters found at Qumran, one sees an ongoing saga into which the Jewish writers of the B'rit Chadashah speak into. 

Contrary to the common thought birthed by thinkers in the post-biblical era (Patristics, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and others), the authors of the B'rit Chadshah (including the gospels, letters, and Revelation) were wrestling with the single-story of Yahweh's earlier rejection of the nations, his work to restore all things through Abraham's seed, and his returning the nations back to himself. 

In the B'rit Chadashah (New Testament), there are numerous references by the gospel authors and other New Testament writers that emphasize the theme of God bringing the nations back to Himself through the Messiah, Jesus (Yeshua). This theme aligns with the promise made to Abraham that through his offspring all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3, Genesis 18:18).

Here are key passages where the gospel authors and other New Testament writings refer to the inclusion of the nations (Gentiles) in God's plan:

Matthew 28:19-20 (The Great Commission): Jesus commands His disciples to "go and make disciples of all nations." This directive underscores the expansion of God's covenant from Israel to all nations, fulfilling the prophecies of inclusion.

Luke 2:29-32 (Simeon's Prophecy): Simeon, upon seeing Jesus, prophesies that He is "a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel." This highlights Jesus' role in revealing God to the Gentiles and fulfilling God's promise to bring revelation and salvation beyond the Jewish people.

John 10:16: Jesus speaks of other sheep that are not of the Jewish fold, stating, "I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd." This indicates the inclusion of the Gentiles into the fold of God's people.

Acts 10 (Peter’s Vision and Cornelius’ Conversion): This chapter details how the apostle Peter comes to understand that the gospel is meant for Gentiles as well as Jews, marking a pivotal moment in the early church’s mission to the nations.

Romans 11 (Paul’s discussion of the Olive Tree): Paul explains how the Gentiles have been grafted into the olive tree of Israel, sharing in the rich root of God’s covenant with the patriarchs, and how ultimately, God has planned to unite Jews and Gentiles in His salvation.

These passages, among others, illustrate that the New Testament authors viewed Jesus' ministry and the spread of the gospel as the fulfillment of God's longstanding intention to restore and unite all nations to Himself. They saw their writings and their missionary work as a continuation of the story of God's engagement with humanity, aiming to fulfill the promises made to Abraham and echoed through the prophets.

Yeshua the Rabbi, within Second Temple Judaism

When Yeshua arrived on the scene as a Rabbi out of Galilee in keeping with Second Temple Judaism, he was speaking definitively within that worldview. One of the benefits of Qumran studies is that we can now understand "Jesus within Judaism" and "Paul within Judaism".

In stark contrast to the way Jesus and Paul have been spoken of by Patristic church fathers, medieval theologians, Jewish and Christian scholars of the intervening 2,000 years, and as a result in modern discourse today, Jesus was to his final day on earth a Rabbi within Second Temple Judaism.

While a surface level, uncritical reading of the gospel authors might lead one to believe that Jesus' enemies were "The Pharisees", I suggest you read it again, and read it closer. 

If a Gentile foreigner who had no vested interest in the Jewish people were gathering crowds in and around Judea in the 1st century AD, no Pharisee would have thought twice about it. There were Greek cities and provinces in Judea at that time, even around the Sea of Galilee. 

It is the fact the Pharisees came to Yeshua, called him Rabbi, and debated with him that we know they accepted him as one of their own. Nicodemus is explicitly named as a Pharisee who came to Yeshua and ultimately was a follower of Yeshua (John 3:1-21, 7:50-52, 19:39). 

Unlike modern Churchianity, where people are taught to think only one set of pre-approved doctrinal statements or else be considered a heretic, the Rabbis operated differently, through heated debates. 

The saying "If two rabbis walk into a room, they'll walk out with three opinions" is a common piece of Jewish humor that underscores the value of diverse perspectives within rabbinic debate.

Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg explain:
As far as we know, Jesus belonged to none of the main religious groups active in the first century—Sadducees, Zealots, Essenes, or Pharisees. Still, his teaching comes closest to that of the Pharisees (the group who reestablished Judaism after the temple was destroyed in AD 70), and the rabbinic Judaism that survives today is their legacy. This may seem surprising, since Jesus called the Pharisees “hypocrites” and a “brood of vipers” on at least one occasion. Sometimes the Gospels seem to imply that everything Jesus said directly contradicted the teaching of the Pharisees. But it’s important to realize that debate was a central aspect of study—the rabbis believed that a mark of an excellent student was his ability to argue well. One rabbi lamented the death of his stiffest opponent, because he had no one to spar with, no one who would force him to refine his thinking!11 Though some of Jesus’s listeners tried to trap him with clever questions, others debated him simply because this was how study and teaching was done. 
11 Brad Young, Jesus the Jewish Theologian (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1995), xiii.  
12.    Joseph Frankovic, “Is the Sage Worth His Salt?” Jerusalem Perspective 45 (July–August 1994): 12–13.

Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018).

When respected teachers/rabbis developed a following, their trainees or "disciples" (talmidim in Hebrew) would learn not only the textual interpretations of their teacher but also their practical applications of the law and ethical teachings. 

  • Written Torah: There was the written Tanakh, with Torah taking the primary among the three collections, but then there was "how do we live this out now in our day", also called Oral Torah, as taught and transmitted by the rabbis and sages in Second Temple Judaism.
  • Oral Torah: Keep in mind, that the point of Oral Torah was to reinforce torah, laying a hedge around it, to prevent Israel from failing to abide by it, leading to another exile.
  • Halakhah: This is a term that specifically refers to the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical laws and later rabbinic interpretations and legislation. Halakhah covers all aspects of Jewish life, from dietary laws and rituals to civil law and ethics. The Oral Torah is a primary source of Halakhah, as it provides the details necessary to practice the laws outlined in the Written Torah.

Sadan explains the Halakhah of Rabbi Yeshua:

Yeshua is committed to the Jewish people because he knows—as Israel is also supposed to know—that the complete redemption will only come when “all Israel will be saved, just as it is written” (Rom 11:26). Have we not already said: There is no redemption for the world apart from Israel’s redemption? Consequently, as Paul says, the Gospel goes out “to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom 1:16)—and he is not talking about chronological order here. His worldview says that if the Jews do not believe in Yeshua, neither will the Gentiles. In this light, it is reasonable to assume that if Messiah’s advent into the world was dependent upon the perspective which not a few Messianic Jews insist on holding, that which sanctifies the abolishment of Torah and have no problem with assimilation—if his coming had been dependent upon this attitude, he could never have come.

Tsvi Sadan. “Halakic Authority in the Life of the Messianic Community – Kesher Journal.” Kesher A Journal of Messianic Judaism, no. Issue 24-Summer 2010 (July 5, 2010).

Was Yeshua/Jesus more than just a rabbi? Was he divine?

Many, me included, and the biblical authors, say he was. 

But if you are reading like an ignorant westerner, looking for "Jesus is God", you usually won't find that in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). These texts were written in the mid 1st Century, within the lifetime of the early church, and were written first to the believing Jewish Yeshua followers spread throughout the Roman empire (the diaspora) and then also to the Gentiles. They appealed to Israel's history and worldview.

Within the Gospel of Mark, which is typically noted for its more implicit portrayal of Jesus’ identity compared to the other gospels, there are still significant moments that hint at Jesus' divinity. These moments can be understood within the context of Second Temple Judaism's expectations and theological frameworks. Here’s a notable example:
Mark 2:5-7 (Jesus Forgives Sins):
"When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.' Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 'Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?'"

In this passage, Jesus forgives the sins of a paralytic, an act that immediately provokes accusations of blasphemy from the scribes. Within Jewish theology, only God has the authority to forgive sins. The scribes’ reaction underscores this, as they express shock that a human would claim a prerogative believed to belong to God alone. This incident implicitly points to Jesus' divine authority, subtly suggesting His identity as God, or at least as operating with the direct authority of God.

During the Second Temple period, Jewish expectations for the Messiah were varied, but predominantly, the Messiah was seen as a prophetic or kingly figure who would restore Israel.

Yet a review of the literature at Qumran shows a lot of debate over who this "Son of Man" figure might be in Daniel. The references to the "Son of Man" in the Gospel of Mark, and in the broader context of the New Testament, play a crucial role in revealing Jesus’ identity, resonating with both Jewish messianic expectations and themes of divine authority. 

Son of Man in Daniel

The concept of the "Son of Man" in Jewish apocalyptic literature, particularly Daniel 7:13-14, provides a background that would have been familiar to Jesus' contemporaries:

Daniel 7:13-14 (NET):
"I was watching in the night visions,
And with the clouds of the sky,
one like a son of man was approaching.
He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was escorted before him.
To him was given ruling authority, honor, and sovereignty.
All peoples, nations, and language groups were serving him.
His authority is eternal and will not pass away.
His kingdom will not be destroyed."

In this vision, the "Son of Man" is depicted as a heavenly figure who is given eternal authority and a kingdom by God (the Ancient of Days). This figure transcends human limitations and participates in divine sovereignty.

In Mark, Jesus frequently refers to Himself as the "Son of Man," and these references are often tied to themes of suffering, authority, and eschatological fulfillment. Here are a few key examples:

Authority to Forgive Sums (Mark 2:10):
"But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins..." –


Here, Jesus explicitly ties the title "Son of Man" to divine authority, specifically the authority to forgive sins, which, as previously noted, was understood as a divine prerogative.

Predictions of Suffering and Resurrection (Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:33):
"He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again."


These predictions link the "Son of Man" to the role of a suffering servant (Isaiah 53), an unexpected twist to the triumphant figure of Daniel.

Coming in Glory (Mark 13:26; 14:62):
"And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory." 


Here, Jesus aligns Himself with the Danielic vision of a heavenly figure coming with divine authority at the end of days.

In the context of Second Temple Judaism, these references would evoke a complex set of expectations. Some might interpret the term as referring to a purely human, albeit exalted, messianic figure. Others, particularly those influenced by apocalyptic literature, might see in it hints of a more exalted, semi-divine figure involved in the divine governance of the world.

Key Texts Referring to the Son of Man

1 Enoch (also known as the Book of Enoch):

The Book of Parables (chapters 37-71): This section of 1 Enoch, not found in the Hebrew Bible but part of the Ethiopic tradition and preserved in some of the Qumran scrolls, provides one of the most detailed descriptions of the "Son of Man" in ancient Jewish literature. Here, the Son of the Man is depicted as a heavenly figure who will judge the righteous and the wicked at the end of times. He is associated with divine attributes, pre-existence, and participates in God’s authority. The text describes him as "the Elect One," "the Righteous One," and notes his role in the final judgment.

1 Enoch 48:2-6 describes the Son of Man as predestined in the wisdom of the Lord of Spirits, hidden from the world and the principalities, and revealed in the last days. This eschatological figure is seen as central to divine judgment and redemption, holding a pivotal role in the apocalyptic scenario depicted by the text.

4Q246 (also known as the Son of God text or the Aramaic Apocalypse):

This fragmentary text, found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, bears remarkable resemblance to themes found in the New Testament, particularly in the description of a figure who will be called the "Son of God" and the "Son of the Most High." While the fragment does not provide as much context as the more detailed descriptions in 1 Enoch, it reflects similar messianic expectations involving a figure of cosmic significance.

Jesus’ use of the term "Son of Man" in Mark serves multiple theological purposes: 
  • It asserts His role in divine authority, 
  • connects Him with eschatological expectations of judgment and salvation, and 
  • subtly suggests a unique identity that transcends conventional messianic roles, potentially including divine attributes. 
This self-designation invites his audience to see Him fulfilling Old Testament prophecies in a deeper, more comprehensive way, integrating suffering and glory in His person and mission.

John, writing much later at the end of his lifetime, as the now mature Yeshua movement was becoming more Gentile than Jewish in population, felt the need to highlight this divine nature for the Gentile audience that may miss the inherently Jewish worldview of the existing gospels (which, ironically, most modern secular non-Jewish saturated scholarship does).

Jesus and the Kingdom of God, and "God's rule" in the OT

The concept of the "Kingdom of God" as preached by Jesus in the New Testament and the idea of "God's rule" in the Old Testament are deeply interconnected, reflecting a continuity in the biblical narrative about God's sovereign rule over the world.

God's Kingship Themes in the Tanakh

In the Tanakh, the sovereignty of God over Israel and the entire world is a central theme.
  • Creation and Kingship: God's kingship is first established through the act of creation itself (Genesis 1). The creation narrative portrays God as the supreme ruler who orders the cosmos and establishes the earth. His authority is established through Creation and Decreation.
    • In Genesis 1, Yahweh Created by separating the chaos waters above and below (a polemic to the Ugarit creation stories) and in Genesis 6 Yahweh allowed teh chaos waters to return (De-Creation).
*Note: Genesis 1-2 are not the only creations narratives. 
Psalm 74:12-17:
This psalm portrays God as the mighty king who establishes order by conquering the sea monsters. It specifically mentions breaking the heads of the sea monsters and crushing the heads of Leviathan, then giving it as food to the creatures of the desert. This imagery is symbolic of God's control over chaos and His establishment of order in the world.

Psalm 74:14 (NET):
"You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you fed him to the people who live along the coast." --

 This is a polemic against the Ugarit creation stories.

Psalm 89:9-12:
Here, God's control over the raging seas and His crushing of Rahab (another sea monster) are celebrated as part of His sovereign power. This psalm emphasizes God's kingship and His authority over all creation, including chaotic forces.

Psalm 89:10 (NET):
"You crushed Rahab and killed him;
with your strong arm you scattered your enemies."

Job 26:12-13:
In Job’s discourse on God’s majestic power, he notes that God stirs up the sea and by His wisdom strikes down Rahab. He also describes the Spirit of God ornamenting the heavens and His hand piercing the fleeing serpent, which is often interpreted as a reference to a cosmic battle with a sea monster.

Job 26:13 (NET):
"By his breath the heavens are cleared;
his hand has pierced the fleeing serpent."

Isaiah 27:1:
This verse from Isaiah prophesies a future event where the Lord will punish Leviathan, the fleeing serpent, and Leviathan, the twisting serpent, and will kill the sea monster that lives in the sea. This prophecy is seen in an eschatological light, where God’s final victory over chaos is assured.

Isaiah 27:1 (NET):
"At that time the LORD will punish with his destructive, great, and powerful sword Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent; he will kill the sea monster that lives in the sea."
  • Covenant: God's relationship with Abraham and later with Moses and the Israelites is framed in terms of a sovereign covenant, where God is the king making a pact with His people (Genesis 15, Exodus 19-24).
  • Theocracy: Israel was initially set up as a theocracy, where God was directly acknowledged as the ruler, and judges were seen as His agents (Judges).
  • Monarchy: Even with the establishment of the human monarchy, starting with Saul, then David, the ultimate rule of God is acknowledged. David, for example, is often portrayed as ruling on God's behalf, and his psalms frequently acclaim Yahweh as the true King (Psalms 24, 47).
  • Prophets: The prophets continually remind the people of Israel of Yahweh’s kingship, calling them to obedience and warning of the consequences of disloyalty to their sovereign Lord (Isaiah 52:7, Jeremiah 10:10).

Jesus and the Kingdom of God in the B'rit Chadashah

In the B'rit Chadashah (New Testament), Jesus' teachings about the Kingdom of God represent both a continuation of the Tanakh narrative themes of God's rule and a radical reinterpretation of what that rule looks like:
  • Present and Future Reality: Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God as both a present reality and a future hope. He declares that the Kingdom is at hand, implying it is currently arriving with His ministry (Mark 1:15), yet He also talks about it as a future reality that will come with power and great glory (Luke 21:31).
    • Aka: Now, but Not Yet
  • Radical Reversal & Subversive Kingdom: Jesus portrays the Kingdom of God in terms that contrast sharply with earthly kingdoms. It is characterized by the reversal of social norms—where the last are first, the meek inherit the earth, and the pure in heart see God (Matthew 5-7, the Beatitudes).
  • Inclusive Kingdom: Unlike the sometimes-nationalistic focus in parts of the Tanakh (and modern MAGA), Jesus' vision of God's Kingdom includes all nations and peoples, fulfilling the promises made to Abraham that all nations would be blessed through his seed (Matthew 28:19-20).
    • This is Jesus doing what he told Abraham he would do, and restoring the nations to himself.
  • Ethical Kingdom: The rule of God as taught by Jesus emphasizes inner transformation leading to outward righteousness, a direct continuity with the prophetic calls to true justice and mercy (Matthew 23:23). 
    • Justice and Mercy are top priority, over "being right" either in word or deed.
  • Eschatological Fulfillment: Jesus ties the Kingdom of God to eschatological (end times) events, where God's rule will be fully realized, and He will reign eternally. This aspect of God's Kingdom will complete the story begun in Genesis and carried through the entire Bible.
In essence, Jesus redefines and deepens the understanding of God’s rule, focusing on a spiritual reign that transforms hearts and renews the world, leading to a future where God's sovereign kingship is acknowledged universally. The narrative of the Kingdom of God ties the Testaments together, showing the unfolding of God’s plan for His creation.

The Divine Council (Deuteronomy 32) Worldview

Dr. Michael S Heiser often emphasizes the significance of the biblical theme of the divine council and the "Deuteronomy 32 worldview." This framework is based on passages like Deuteronomy 32:8-9, which describes how God divided the nations according to the number of the sons of God, a reference to the divine beings allotted to the nations. In the table of nations in Genesis 10, traditionally counted as 70, each nation is considered to have been assigned a spiritual overseer, with Israel uniquely under the direct sovereignty of Yahweh. 

Once you see this worldview of the biblical authors, you cannot unsee it. It practically saturates every story in the biblical record. Even the "conquest narratives", which often make modern readers uncomfortable or even angry, take on entirely new context once this worldview is understood. In each instance that the total destruction of every man, woman, child, and beast is called for, the fallen elohim (divine beings) and Nephilim (their human/divine hybrid offspring) are implicated as the reason.

While we see this mandate play out in the life of Jesus, and his call to the nations to return to him, we see it even more pronounced in the life and mission of Paul.

Paul's apostolic mission is part of a larger divine strategy to reclaim the nations from under the influence of these corrupt spiritual beings and bring them back into alignment with the true God, Yahweh, through the message of Jesus Christ.

Paul’s Mission to Spain: A Divine Council Worldview - Recalling the Nations Mandate

Paul's expressed desire to travel to Spain, mentioned in Romans 15:24 and 28, can be seen as an extension of this theme. Heiser interprets Paul’s intention to reach Spain as part of the apostolic mission to reclaim all nations, even those at the very edges of the known world at that time, from the dominion of other spiritual "princes" mentioned in texts like Daniel 10 (where the prince of Persia and the prince of Greece are discussed).

Paul’s urgency to preach in Spain represents the desire to ensure that the gospel reaches the "ends of the earth," effectively extending the sovereignty of Yahweh and the lordship of Jesus to all nations, thus fulfilling the promises made to Abraham that in his seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3). This mission aligns with the prophetic visions where salvation and knowledge of Yahweh would cover the earth (Habakkuk 2:14).

In the Table of Nations found in Genesis 10, which outlines the descendants of Noah and their spread throughout the ancient world, Spain is not directly mentioned by its current name. The Table of Nations primarily focuses on the Near Eastern and Mediterranean regions, describing the lineage and dispersal of Noah's descendants into various regions known to the ancient biblical authors.

However, the descendants of Javan (son of Japheth, one of Noah's sons) are traditionally associated with the Greeks and their colonization, which extended into the western Mediterranean, including regions that would later encompass modern Spain. Javan's descendants, according to Genesis 10:4-5, include Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim, which are thought to correspond to various ancient territories around the Mediterranean.

Tarshish is often connected by scholars and historians with Tartessos, a region or city in the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula, roughly corresponding to modern-day Spain. This connection is not definitively established but is supported by historical and archaeological links between the ancient Near East and the Tartessian culture, which was known for its wealth and its trade in metals, likely with the Phoenicians and other ancient peoples.

Therefore, while Spain as "Spain" is not named in the Table of Nations, the biblical reference to Tarshish is often interpreted as a nod to regions that would include parts of what is now Spain. 

Why Spain?

Why is Spain of any concern to us, and why did Paul want so badly to go there? In Paul’s day, Spain was where Tarshish was. Tarshish was a Phoenician colony in what was later Spain. The point is profound: Paul was convinced that his life’s mission as apostle to the Gentiles—the disinherited nations—would only be finished when he got to Spain.13 As incredible as it sounds, Paul was conscious that his mission for Jesus actually involved spreading the gospel to the westernmost part of the known world—Tarshish—so that the disinheritance at Babel would be reversed.

Heiser, Michael S.. The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (pp. 344-345). Lexham Press. Kindle Edition. 

The Divine Council Worldview Theological Implications

Theologically, Heiser argues that this mission is not just about spreading religious belief but is a cosmic reclaiming of territories that have been under the control of rival divine beings since the divorce of the nations at Babel. 

The Cross and the subsequent spread of the gospel is thus both a spiritual and a cosmic act of redemption, reversing the effects of the Babel event (Genesis 11) where the nations were scattered and placed under the administration of other gods. Through Israel's Messiah, these nations are invited back into a direct relationship with Yahweh, nullifying the power of the corrupt divine beings over them, and inviting them into a new way of being human.

This interpretation ties the seemingly simple act of missionary travel to a profound cosmic struggle and the fulfillment of deep, structural prophecies within the biblical narrative, emphasizing the grand scale and depth of Paul’s mission in the early Christian movement.

The call then is to "Believing Loyalty to Yahweh"

On his Podcast commentary on Hebrews (Naked Bible 184: Hebrews 5:11-6:20), Heiser says it this way:

You can't just be like, "I believed ten minutes on a Sunday morning twenty years ago and I prayed this prayer, and since I prayed that prayer I'm in, and now I can more or less believe whatever I want." I'm sorry, but that's not the truth. You must believe. A biblical theology of belief involves believing loyalty. Not "I believe and now I've got to do all these works. That's how loyalty is defined—doing works." No, you believe and you keep believing. You are loyal to that belief. Salvation is by grace through faith—through belief. It has nothing to do with your own merit. You don't earn it. A biblical theology of belief is believing loyalty—remaining loyal to that belief. And, of course, Christ is the object of that belief—what he did, not what you do. That theology of belief does not mean we can pray a prayer of confession and then choose to follow another god or choose to follow another gospel or choose to follow no gospel at all. Belief is not uttering a prayer like it's an incantation.(Heiser and Stricklin) 

Heiser, Michael, and Trey Stricklin. “Naked Bible 184: Hebrews 5:11-6:20.” Accessed May 7, 2022. 

Closing Thoughts: What now?

So that's a lot of words, but hopefully you now see a different portrait for nearly every aspect of understanding "what the Bible is even about". 

Maybe I didn't convince you, but I intrigued you. If so, where do you go from here? 

The Biblical Author's Worldview: 

The Ancient Near East (ANE) and Second Temple Judaism contexts of the biblical authors provide a window into their world, and help us make sense of often confusing stories, statements, practices, and "why it all matters".

When you have the biblical author's worldview in your head as you read the scrolls that we've come to call the Bible, their wisdom about life, the human condition, and how we can participate with God in his good world all come alive... at least they did for me.

Helpful Starter Resources:

If you are brand new to these ideas and this is the very first you've heard anything like this, I would suggest starting with these articles/videos:

So, who the heck am I?

Hi! I'm Darrell Wolfe. 

I'm Autistic & ADHD (AuDHD) and Biblical Studies is my nerdy special interest. I have a BA in General Christian Studies and I make complicated biblical things simple (although I sometimes further complicate them first). 

*I replaced my former write-up in this section with my three-essay answers to my application to Fuller Theological Seminary to their Masters in Theological Studies (MTS), biblical emphasis. 

Darrell's Religious Autobiography 

I started life as a pastor’s kid (PK); the son of an alcoholic pastor turned atheist crack-addict psychologist. Mike Wolfe had an MDiv and DMin from Claremont School of Theology and we pastored in the Disciples of Christ (DOC). While living in a largely Cessationist tradition, I grew up having both seen Jesus and an entity of the enemy by around five years old, in addition to other spiritual dreams and experiences. Those left me with cognitive dissonance and questions. I spent time in various traditions seeking to understand what was true; but I ran from the word “pastor” and from bible school.

In 2003 I met my now late-wife and began a journey through the world of Pentecostals and Word of Faith, serving Kenneth Copeland Ministries for a time. In 2013, we transitioned to Gateway Church, and I started my first healing journey through their Freedom Ministries courses created by Bob Hamp, LMFT.

Throughout 2013-2016 I began a mental health journey, due to a mixture of lifelong sexual/relationship addiction, religious trauma, and autistic burn-out. In 2017, my wife and I had the best year of our marriage. In 2018 my wife died and I was left a single father. My eldest son Connor, 13 at the time, cried in the ER “We prayed and believed, and mommy still died, the Bible is a liar!” – Which set me on a path to answer some nagging questions for my family. In 2019 I enrolled at The King’s University (TKU) and completed a Bachelors in General Christian Studies in December 2022. I worked with two skilled Christian mental health therapists to process addiction, grief, learn new coping skills, and develop healthier boundaries and communication methods. In the middle of all that, I met a fellow widow and remarried in April 2022.

Thanks to great professors and to the work of scholars such as Drs. Michael Heiser, John Walton, NT Wright, Tim Mackie, Richard Bauckham, Mark Nanos, and others, I was able to learn to think better about the Ancient Near East (ANE) and Second Temple Judaism context of the biblical authors.
Today I meet with other folks who are Deconstructing and help them process their Bible questions, and I meet with fellow Reconstructionists to process the biblical texts together, learning how to do hermeneutics in community. I write at www.NoHiding.Faith where I process my journey from Deconstruction to Reconstruction. 

While I have received answers to all the early questions that drove me into Bible School, I was surprised to find I had fallen in love with this book we call “Bible” all over again. It’s more profound than I first realized when I was reading it “literally” and not “in context”. I find myself reading biblical scholarship for fun, and I think it’s time to get my official studies deeper.

Darrell's Statement of Purpose 

Something profoundly shifted after becoming a Widower. Until then, every life event was simply one of many events, in a continuous cycle of events, but on June 25, 2018, everything changed. Career and money became meaningless, the life I had been building “with her” was gone forever. Business plans we had drafted were archived. All my values shifted to look for activities with deeper personal meaning. I stopped looking for the next promotion and instead started asking: “What am I curious about?” 

After completing my BA, I spent time investigating all my options and weighing the costs. How much do I want to keep being involved in biblical studies? While I will never stop learning and growing, I no longer sit on the knife’s edge of doubt caused by my son’s ER queries. We know how to read the text in context now. Should I continue to pursue formal education, or read and study on my own?

As I pondered these things, I found that I kept meeting new people who would ask about my biblical studies training. While the answers I give them seem basic to me, after swimming in this pond for years, those answers continue to intrigue the people I meet with. I found myself returning to all my study materials, looking up new scholarly articles for questions I hadn’t considered, and genuinely enjoying the field of biblical scholarship on its own merit. I decided that blogging, writing, and one-on-one discussions are my canvas, and biblical scholarship is my paintbrush/toolkit. 

I want to see where else this road leads. Even if I never find a position teaching these things formally, in a school or a pulpit, even if I only ever use it in my private life and one-on-one, this is my passion subject, my Autistic special interest. This is what I want to do with the rest of my life, to play in this never ending well of biblical scholarship.

As a Business Intelligence Analyst, I enjoy data analytics. Something I loved about the late Dr Michael Heiser was his reliance “on the data”. I placed 80 programs from 57 schools into a spreadsheet and reviewed them for (1) the program requirements, (2) the capacity to spend some time getting further into ANE studies (3) but acknowledging that I still have a family to raise, (4) their ability to do the program online and (5) their theological commitments. Out of that batch, Fuller Theological Seminary proved to be the best option for my current path. It also came highly recommended by my former professor (a Fuller Alumni).

I am a hybrid between Neo-Evangelical theology and a Messianic Judaism theology, with a pull towards home church and Fresh Expressions.  I believe Fuller Seminary is a school with solid scholars, with whom I can safely continue exploring the biblical contexts and begin to turn my attention toward what may come next. Which leads me to the Statement of Calling.

Darrell's Statement of Calling

At one time in my life, I thought it was a privilege to have worked near some “big names” in the church world. I volunteered at Kenneth Copeland Ministries and Eagle Mountain Church, sat in Jerry Savelle’s church, sat in other big-tent names’ churches, and served pastors who knew those big names. I volunteered at Gateway Church under Robert Morris every weekend for years. It all felt like that’s where I was headed, to preach to the tens of thousands. Until I had a full-blown breakdown in 2016.
Due to the combination of my mental health journey, widowhood, becoming a late-diagnosed Autistic and ADHD (AuDHD), and my deconstruction-to-reconstruction journey, I’ve changed the names I consider myself privileged to know:
  • A counselor who left his full-time pastor role to return to his practice because that’s how he could help people change their “way of thinking” instead of just the thoughts they think. 
  • Another counselor who left her church work to counsel people like me through grief and trauma, both in shelters and in private practice. 
  • A missionary who started a bible school in India, and still travels there every year, staying months at a time, even though he and his wife are in their mid-eighties. That missionary worked in the Reagan White House, but now sees his real accomplishments every week in India.
  • A man who gave up job security to start a little church in downtown Coeur d’Alene and then love an entire congregation of people through their deconstruction and into reconstruction, helping them to think well about the text. I still go there to visit as often as I can make it down there.
  • A man who meets with multiple men, every day, often 3-5 per day, because his entire calling in this season is to build relationships and walk along side of men; a man who’s teaching me to do the same one chance encounter at a time.
  • A woman who wants nothing more than to be a wife, mother, and to love on people as a restaurant server and a soap maker at farmers markets. She challenged me to consider how my positions (politically and theologically) represent the love of Jesus.
  • So many individuals have shown me how to love people into wholeness.

I don’t know if I will ever have a “career” in biblical studies, in a monetary sense. It may be that I keep my work as a Business Intelligence Analyst, building Excel workbooks into retirement as what my counselor called “my tent making job”.

I want to start attending Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) conferences and possibly present some papers. I want to continue my journey into the world of biblical scholarship. I want to use that knowledge to help people think better about the text, and as a result think better about their relationship with Yeshua HaMashiach, Yahweh, and HaRuach HaKodesh, and as a result love the people around them a little better. Beyond that? We’ll see.

Join me on a NoHiding journey from Deconstruction --to-- Reconstruction

What's NoHiding.Faith about? 

It's a phrase my late-wife and I started using after God healed our marriage. We learned that hiding emotions from each other led to separation while opening ourselves up to each other in vulnerability lead to becoming closer. So every time one of us would feel the other starting to shut-down, we could say "No Hiding" and it was a call to open back up and stay vulnerable, even and especially if it meant facing some really hard stuff together.

After she died and I began deconstructing the Modern Western American Churchianity I grew up with, and Reconstructing a worldview centered on the message the biblical authors were actually telling, I had to make some equally hard decisions about whether I was ready to let go of some deeply held beliefs. 

I had to accept that there is no Rapture in the Bible, at all. That was a tough one, but after a long and honest review of the topic, I accepted that it was never a biblical concept. Like dominoes, all the trappings of Churchianity fell down. For many, that's where it stops. They go through Deconstruction and leave Jesus behind. I was incapable of doing that. 

I've known him. I've seen him with my own eyes in a vision as a child. I've interacted with the spiritual realm. I am just incapable of denying Jesus. But how do I separate all my traditions from the real deal?

"But my pastor says..."

I threw away many Christian Traditions, Denominations, Systematic Theologies, Creeds and medieval to modern concepts imposed on the biblical authors that those authors would never recognize... and I learned to ask:

"What did the biblical authors want to communicate to their original audience (in their own original Ancient Near East and Second Temple Period contexts)?" Aka Exegesis.

And I learned to ask that before I can ask:

"What can the Bible teach me for my life today?" Aka Hermeneutics 

That should be simple, it should be what every Bible teacher does on every Sunday morning. 

In my experience, at 100s of churches in three plus states, it isn't. Almost nobody does this. 

Instead, we all get up and "preach" the traditions we learned to loosely base on the text by ripping sentences from their contexts and slapping them into our messages and bumper stickers are "proof" we are right about what we're saying (aka proof texting, which is a bad thing).

In fact, there is a division between Seminary training for most Pastoral roles and training for Academic roles. While there are exceptions, most pastors get far too little academic training and are never really trained well to think-well-about-the-text. They go on to lead business enterprises (Churchianity) but spend little to no time reviewing and reading and keeping up to date with biblical scholarship. For many, the last academic text they will read is in school. Their reading becomes mostly what other pastors are writing, or the latest celebrity pastor book. Most of these are non-academics. 

I'm just not interested in traditions, maybe it's my autistic side. As far as I'm concerned, Augustine was a man who loved Jesus and "wrestled with God" as we all do, each in our own generation. But there is no reason for me to place anything he said over anyone else. I'm as likely to find wisdom in the words of an illiterate man or woman who loves Jesus as I do in an ancient theologian. But thanks to modern scholarship, we can understand the biblical authors worldview (and therefore meaning) better than we ever have. Today, I would assign Augustine far less weight than I would assign to modern biblical scholarship because we simply have tools he lacked. 

I respect the journey and wrestling of an Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, or even a Billy Graham; but I don't have to accept their conclusions.

It's time to bring fresh eyes to the text.

I've joined the revolution, will you? 

Like the Rabbis I mentioned earlier, I love disagreement as long as its respectful; changing your mind is wonderful, do it often.

*Note: I am still growing out of my tendencies, taught to me by western Churchianity, to insist on "being right". As a result, I sometimes post an article, comment, or social media post that takes my conclusions too far or stands on them too firmly. I'm still growing in this. My aspirational self wants to allow room at the table for everyone's current ability to ask questions of the text and seek the biblical author's worldview. I fail to live up to this aspirational self. But I'm working on it, literally working with counselors and mentors on it. Call me out on this if you see it in me, I'll apologize after I cool off! Ha hah a.. 

I love these Albertisms, because they apply to this journey so well:
  • Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. Albert Einstein
  • If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. Albert Einstein
  • The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits. Albert Einstein
  • To admit that you were wrong is to declare that you are wiser now than you were before. Albert Einstein.

I reserve the right to change my mind, in fact I almost guarantee it. 

Part of NoHiding is being open, raw, and taking an honest look at our worldview and changing our hearts and minds is that it results in changes to the way we see things. I have written things in years past that I passionately disagree with today. It's tough to face your deeply held beliefs and then let them go for something that is truer than what you once held true.

All that being said, if you disagree with something you see or read here, that's OKAY! I might disagree with it too, tomorrow. 

Comment, share, find me on social media

The No Hiding Commitment:

If you like the sound of this journey, make the following commitments to yourself and your community:

  • We are committed to study the text of the Bible for what it says, not what our traditions would tell us it says.
  • We are committed to face hard truths, even if they require us to change our ideas and even more our character!
  • We are committed to be honest, open, raw, real, and vulnerable in our relationship with God and relationships with each other. That means sometimes we have to say, "I don't know" or even"I was wrong".

Let's do this journey together.

Disclosure ChatGPT-4o: While the vast majority of the words in this post are my own, I want to acknowledge that some of the phrasing and biblical text quotes in this blog post/article were generated with the help of ChatGPT-4o, a language model developed by OpenAI. 
I remain the author of the work, but ChatGPT-4o is the new Google. Where we would have once searched Google to find a reference or gain clarity on a point, we now use Google's replacement. The article was not written by ChatGPT-4o but was written with assistance from ChatGPT-4o.

PS: I woke up this morning at 4:45am PST and started writing all of the thoughts that have been living in my head around this topic. I finished at 12:39pm PST. After 12,700 words, I feel I've barely scratched the surface of laying down the groundwork for understanding how different my understanding the of the biblical author's worldview has changed. I suspect many more articles in the future. Let this be the groundwork. June 9, 2024

Darrell Wolfe, Storyteller


  • Endorse vs Recommend: The Resources are recommended. That means I think they will help you in some way. That does NOT mean, I automatically agree with every word of every voice. I might recommend a book that comes to the wrong conclusion but presents good data for you to add to your library and thinking. In some cases, I do wholly endorse the individual but I probably still have minor disagreements with each of them on some point or another. We must learn to get away from being "I'm of Paul" "Well, I'm of Apollos" "Well, I'm of Peter". Nobody is recommended because you should believe every word they say, you shouldn't believe every word of what anyone says. You should use them as one more data source. The more sources of data one has, the better thinker they become. 
  • Affiliate: This website includes several links to external websites, books, and products. Some, but not all, of these links may be "affiliate links". This means we may get paid for anything you buy when you click those links. Regardless, I only include links to items or places I found personally valuable or I have found helpful in solving people's problems and struggles. On that note, if you click on any Amazon link it helps this website, if you know you are going to buy from Amazon anyway, please click away.

#NoHiding #Reconstruction > #Deconstruction

© Topos Creative LLC March 02, 2022


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