Exploring My Strange Bible

Introducing Exploring My Strange Bible

Episode 1
Oct 1, 2019
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Speaker in the audio file:

Tim Mackie

Tim: Hey everybody! I’m Tim Mackie, and this is my podcast, Exploring My Strange

Bible. I am a card-carrying, Bible, history, and language nerd who thinks that

Jesus of Nazareth is utterly amazing and worth following with everything that you


On this Podcast, I’m putting together the last ten years’ worth of lectures,

and sermons where I’ve been exploring this strange, and wonderful story of the

Bible and how it invites us into the mission of Jesus and the journey of faith. And

I hope this can be helpful for you too.

I also helped start this thing called, The Bible Project. We make animated

videos, and podcasts about all kinds of topics on Bible, and Theology. You can

find those resources at thebibleproject.com.

With all that said, let’s dive into the episode for this week.

We thought we would start this first episode of Exploring My Strange Bible with a

self-introduction, so you can know a little bit more about me, Tim Mackie, and

why I’m doing a podcast like this. And a bit about my story that explains my

obsessions. So real time, right now, in April 2017, as we’re getting things ready

for this podcast, I have too many jobs. I’m a Professor of Biblical Studies at

Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. Over the last seven years I served as a

pastor in two different local churches. First, at a Church in Madison, Wisconsin

called Black Hawk Church. And then for five years, at a church here in Portland

called, Door of Hope. And then the other thing was a few years ago, I started,

with a good friend of mine, Jon Collins, this thing called The Bible Project, and it’s

a non-profit animation studio that makes short, animated films about the books

of the Bible, and the themes, and ideas that unite the whole Bible. So those are

my jobs. And the common denominator underneath all of that is Jesus of

Nazareth. I am one of his followers. I can’t say I’m the most stellar or best one,

but I’m trying as are many of you. And by His Grace, just one day at a time. But

Jesus of Nazareth is the one who’s at the center of all my jobs. That’s such an

incredible privilege. And also, these texts that Jesus said bore witness to Him,

what we’ve come to call the Scriptures, both the Jewish and Christian Scriptures,

the Old and New Testament. And so why do I have these jobs that are all about

Jesus and the Scriptures, how did that happen? And it’s (not) certainly not

something that I planned like most of you. Life just kind of unfolds, and you find

yourself on this amazing ride. And so here’s a short version of mine.

I grew up in Portland, Oregon which is not known at an epicenter of anything

religious, (and/or) related to Christianity. My parents became followers of Jesus in

the 70s. The part of the Hippie Christian Movement that kind of started in

Southern California and made its way up here. And my first awareness of

anything called Church or to do with Jesus had to do with all of these people who

would gather in our living room on Sundays, that was Church. And then it got too

big for our living room, and so they bought a common house together in the

neighborhood that became what was called, Open Door Fellowship. But it was

kind of super chill, house church, Hippie Christian kind of that thing, but our

family eventually transitioned to another Church Community which I didn’t know

it at the time, but it was a part of the Pentecostal Charismatic tradition. I just

thought that’s what Christianity was. And for lots of different reasons, some of

them, the particular church, some of them my own selfishness, I just really

became jaded towards everything related to Jesus and was not interested, and

kind of actively opposing. And this is also closely connected to the fact my

parents, maybe against their better judgment, but they gave me a skateboard

when I turned eleven, and game over at that point. We lived right in the heart of

Portland, Oregon, the urban playground was just right outside my front door, and

I just fell in love with everything skateboarding. And it wasn’t just a sport. I have

never have been good at sports. But skateboarding wasn’t just about, you know,

an activity. It was an identity, and a subculture. And so I was all in for the clothing

that, you know, the styles changed every couple of years, and the music, it was

my community. It was everything. And that pretty much dominated my life and

world view, my rejection of Christianity which my parents, they really respected

that I was not into the Jesus thing for most of my teens, and they’d ask me to go

to church now and then or holidays but they gave me space to work out my—the

axe I had to grind against Jesus.


But there’s something interesting happening in my late teens. There was this

church in North East Portland that built this large, covered skateboard park in the

back parking lot. And the park was open multiple nights a week, and you could

go. Catch was that someone would shut down the park midway through the

evening and give a short talk about Jesus. And if you wanted to skate the second

half of the night, you had to sit through the talk. And if you skipped out on the

talk, then you had to come back next week and sit through the talk before you

could skate again. And that was the arrangement everybody respected it, and

deal. And so over the years, I started going when I was 16, but over the years,

Jesus became unavoidable to me. The stories about Him, the wisdom, and power

of His teachings, the way that He treated people... I was just like, I don’t

remember anything about Jesus like this from growing up. This guy’s incredible.

And so I was nineteen, about to turn twenty, living in parents’ basement, working

a couple of manual labor jobs, and had no aspirations to do anything except

skateboard. And a number of things came together all of a sudden, I was forced

with a decision about whether or not I was actually going to follow Jesus. And so

I made the decision to make Him the True North that I was going to aim my life

at, and accept who He was, and what He did for me, and allow Him to take

responsibility for me. So I made that decision, I was almost twenty, and man,

that’s half my life ago. An unbelievable ride since then.

There was a small Christian College across the street from the skateboard park.

And I started to teach, give the Jesus talk at skate Church. And I didn’t know what

I was talking about, I have never read the Bible at any length at all. And so you

could sign up for Bible courses across the street, and I was like, deal. I got to have

something to tell these junior high skaters at Skate Church. And so, I signed up

for classes, and I was introduced to these professors of Biblical Studies at

Multnomah Bible College. It’s now called Multnomah University. And dude, my

whole mind, my world view, my sense of self, and others, and God, just totally

blown apart and rebuilt. There were a couple of professors particularly, just

ignited my imagination as I was learning through the Scriptures. And in particular,

it was my professors who showed me that the Jesus Movement in Christianity is

not a modern, western thing. It’s a very ancient Jewish thing. And I was taught

from the very beginning how to read the Bible as part of ancient Israelite culture,

that the biblical text all came out of the story of ancient Israel, and the Jewish

people, that Jesus fit into the context, and history conversations happening within

the rabbis and Judaism, and so on. And so I started reading the Bible, and it was

incredible. But dude, what on Earth? The Bible was like a strange new world to

me. You guys, there’s a talking snake on page 3. Not to mention, all of the sex

scandals that follow in the book of Genesis alone. Animal sacrifices, these ancient

laws, what does all this have to do with Jesus? But I was convinced that it did.

And so that began twenty years ago. Just this obsession with the Scriptures and

how it is that they bore witness to Jesus. And so I was graced with amazing

professors, and teachers along the way. I ended up doing a Bachelor’s Degree in

Biblical Languages and Theology at Multnomah, and I was finished now, I was

like, what? I have so many questions, I’m just getting started.

So I signed up for classes at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. I met and got

married to my incredible wife, Jessica. She’s one of the most amazing human

beings in the world, and she helped me work my way through a master’s degree

there, and continued on in Greek and Hebrew. And I really became interested in

the questions about the History and the origins of the Bible itself. And I got

obsessed with the Dead Sea Scrolls, and how they illuminated the kind of Jewish

culture that Jesus grew up in, and shaped the Bible in His day. So I made the big

decision, I shipped off to do PhD studies at the University of Wisconsin in

Madison in the Hebrew and Jewish Studies Department there. I got to study in

Jerusalem, Hebrew University for a year, Dead Sea scrolls. Dude, I just nerded out.


As I was finishing my PhD there, I ended up in Pastoral Ministry at the church we

were attending called, Black Hawk Church, and I eventually, as I finished my

degree came on staff there as a teaching pastor, and I got to teach the Bible to

people in this church that was full of universities didn’t. I did that for a number of

years. Moved back to Portland to both teach as a professor at Western Seminary,

and then be a teaching pastor of Door of Hope Church here in Portland.

So here’s the deal, you guys, and this introduction’s almost over. It’s maybe been

too long already. I think Jesus of Nazareth is the best thing that’s ever happened

to the human race. I think that He’s alive, I believe and trust that He’s still at work

in the world, and inside of me. So I identify, and embrace the historical Orthodox

Christian tradition. I believe that there is a God, and that God is Knowable, that

that God’s revealed Himself through the story of the Scriptures of Israel. That that

God is the creator of all things. But then ultimately that God is uniquely revealed

in Jesus, and His life, and teachings as Kingdom of God Movement in His death

and resurrection. It’s become my conviction that much of Orthodox Christianity

has totally forgotten its Jewish roots. And I think that’s really messed up.

Christianity is a Jewish Messianic movement, and we should just never, never

forget that.

I’m also have a growing conviction and most modern Christians have no idea

how much their faith in Jesus is anchored in that Jewish tradition, but also that

they struggle to even know how these ancient texts, and ancient man, Jesus,

relate to the hardest, most difficult questions that we face living as modern

westerners in the 21st century. Also, a conviction of mine that grew through years

of pastoral ministry, is that most of the people I know that have walked away

from faith in Jesus, have walked away from a caricature or a distortion of Jesus or

Christianity that’s not actually the real thing. And so here’s what this podcast is

going to be all about. Mostly it’s going to start by gathering together and

curating about last seven years’ worth of lectures and sermons that I’ve given in

all kinds of different settings. So some are going to be exploring books of the

Bible, some will be series that trace through themes of the Bible. Others will be

more history and language oriented, exploring, and diving into the complicated,

and wonderful history of the Bible. But at the end of the day, when I turned

twenty and became a follower of Jesus. It’s like Jesus turned on my brain, and

who He was, and how He illuminated the Scriptures for me, it was like my mind

was opened, that I could finally begin to understand and make sense of the

world. And so I just want to pass on the gift of everything I’ve learned over the

last twenty years, to you all. And so I hope that the podcast can be stimulating,

and thought-provoking, and fun. Learning should be fun. It might be disorienting

at times. I’ve certainly been disoriented almost everyday since I said yes to

following Jesus. But we should constantly be reinforced to rethink everything that

we know in the light of Jesus. And so, there you go. As with all podcasts, you can

help Exploring My Strange Bible as we get out of the gate here by spreading the

word. We’re going to iTunes and leaving a review on the first series that we’re

going to do is a five-part series exploring strange, and wonderful book of Jonah,

but I’m really looking forward to what’s ahead.

Thanks for listening, and we’ll keep going onward and upward.

[End of transcription 13:47]

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