Welcome to my new blog. This is my place to meet people, discuss ideas, ask questions, express thoughts, vent, learn from others, and hopefully improve my writing skills.
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is James Pate. I live in Cincinnati, OH, where I attend Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. My field of study is the History of Biblical Interpretation, which concerns Jewish and Christian interpretations of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. I am entering my fourth year in the doctoral program, and I will be studying for my comprehensive exams, which I will take some time next summer. Previously, I studied at DePauw University, Harvard Divinity School, and Jewish Theological Seminary. And, yet, I am not entirely Jewish!
So what should you expect to find here, as far as topics go? Well, I am interested in politics and religion. From a political standpoint, you will find that I am rather conservative. In fact, one of my hobbies has been to search for statistics that refute liberal arguments, to look more carefully at documents that liberals cite as smoking guns, and to use liberal articles to substantiate a conservative point. For example, we always hear about the Downing Street Memo and how it shows that Bush and Blaire were deceiving the public to promote the Iraq War. Well, guess what? The Downing Street Memo expressed fear that Iraq would use weapons of mass destruction. So much for the “Bush lied” rhetoric!
Religiously, I consider myself a Christian searcher. I read the Bible every day and try to understand it. I have not really felt comfortable in evangelical small groups in the past, and yet I enjoy reading evangelical books. I believe that the Bible is divinely-inspired and is God’s self-revelation, and yet, in my scholarly work, I try to be honest. What that means is that I do not do mental gymnastics to harmonize biblical contradictions, and, if there is an apparent difference between the biblical account and the archaeological record, I acknowledge that difference. At the same time, I acknowledge that there are many things that we do not currently know. And, needless to say, there are many things that I–James Pate–do not know at the moment. In my scholarship, I can only present what makes sense to me at the present time.
As a Christian, I believe that both the Old and the New Testament point to Jesus Christ. At the same time, I do not think that everything in the Bible has to relate to the substitutionary atonement or the reconciliation between God’s justice and mercy on the cross. I believe in the substitutionary atonement, since I am saved through faith in Christ’s death and resurrection, and yet I also try to understand the Old Testament writings in light of their own contexts. I also consult Jewish interpretations, since they are sensitive to certain details of the text (e.g., specific laws, anomalies, why something is phrased the way it is, etc.) that interest me as a reader.
As far as church attendance is concerned, I have been to a variety of places. I grew up in an offshoot of the Worldwide Church of God, which was a Christian denomination that observed Old Testament customs. As an undergraduate, a student at Harvard, and a Jewish Theological Seminary student, I attended Seventh-Day Adventist churches. I also went to Redeemer Presbyterian Church when I lived in New York, and I found Tim Keller to be an awesome and scholarly preacher. There is an article about him on wikipedia. Check it out! I did not go to church for about three years, but I have started to attend Catholic mass every week, mainly to hear the sermons.
I will also write about movies and TV shows that I like. What I like in those areas will come out as this blog progresses. Let me say right now, though, that I have somewhat of a Lady in the Water fetish.
Well, time for me to get back to work! I’m looking forward to discussing ideas!