Thursday, November 30, 2006
“If anyone ponders over [the scriptures] with all the attention and reverence they deserve, it is certain that in the very act of reading and diligently studying them his mind and feelings will be touched by a divine breath and he will recognize that the words he is reading are not utterances of man but the language of God” (Origen, First Principles 4.1.6).
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
This years annual F.F. Bruce Lecture is to be delivered by Dr. Andrew Clark of Aberdeen University. His topic is “The Parameters of Pastoral Persuasion: a Pauline Perspective”.
The lecture is free to the public and will be delivered on Wednesday 3rd of December at 3:00pm in Castle Street Church of Scotland, Dingwall
If you are nearby or in the neighbourhood, please do come along, as Andrew is a foremost expert on leadership and ministry as it is exhibited in the Pauline letters.
Dr Clarke is Head of the Department of Divinity with Religious Studies in Aberdeen University. Before moving to Aberdeen he was the Research Librarian at Tyndale House Biblical Studies Research Library in Cambridge. He is also currently the Chairman of the Tyndale House Council.
"[based on 1 Cor. 12.7] As we shall see, some wish to rule out the legitimacy of any private use of tongues on the basis of this and similar texts: What possible benefit for the entire community is there, they ask, in such private tongues-speaking? Clearly there is no direct benefit: no one but God is hearing what is being said. But Paul was granted extraordinary visions and revelations that were designed only for his immediate benefit (2 Cor. 12:1-10); yet surely the church received indirect profit insofar as those visions and revelations, not to mention the ensuing thorn in his flesh, better equipped him for proclamation and ministry. In the same way, it is hard to see how verse 7 of this chapter renders illegitimate a private use of tongues if the result is a better person, a more spiritually minded Christian: the church may thereby receive indirect benefit. The verse rules out using any charisma for personal aggrandizement or merely for self-satisfiaction; it does not rule out all benefit for the individual (just as marriage, one of the charismata according to 1 Cor. 7:7 may benefit the individual), providing that the resulting matrix is for the common good. The context demands no more."
I think the Carsmeister has nailed this one!
Monday, November 27, 2006
Paper's I wished I been at include the session on Simon Gathercole's new book, the session on Larry Hurtado's new book, the session on Acts in the Second Century, the session on Mark and resurrection, and Danny Zacharias' paper. Sadly, sight seeing, forgetfulness, tiriedness, and tromping the book stall for too many hours got in the way.
Once more the receptions were great fun, esp. meeting up with another of the old Ph.D cands. from Uni of Queensland that I went through with, Katie Scott and her fiance Frederick, whom it was great to see again after a few years. The Sheffield and Duke receptions were great (and may I add, I was invited to both my participatings). They Scottish Universities reception was, as per most years, the best and this was the first time that HTC was among the crowd. I also find myself amidst the Hendrickson reception. Sadly, I didn't make the Yale reception. Let's just say a certain co-blogger refused to hold hands!
My papers on the Historical Jesus and Matt 8:11-12/Luke 13:28-99 and Sectarian Gospels for Sectarian Christians went well and no-one made me cry or shot me down in flames. In fact, the second paper was largely a response to Thomas Kazen who actually attended the session and offered some points of clarification of his own view.
Let me finish off my ETS-SBL musings with the two best quotes from the conference:
Lars Kierspel: "Unless you come to Jesus through the prologue you are a thief of meaning and a killer of context".
Katherine Grieb who pointed out that in the hotel in Memphis where Martin Luther King Jr. as martyred has a quote from Genesis which reads: "Here comes the dreamer. Come now, let us kill him...and we shall see what will become of his dreams(Genesis 37:19-20)."
Book purchases included:
James G. Crossley, What did Christiantiy Happen?
J.K. Elliott, New Testament Apocrypha
Arland Hultgren, The Rise of Normative Christianity
E.E. Ellis, The Making of the New Testament Documents
J. Ross Wagner, Heralds of the Good News: Paul and Isaiah in Concert
Brian Vickers, Jesus' Blood and Righteousness
Paul Achtemeier, Paul and the Jerusalem Church
Peter Lampe, From Paul to Valentinius: The History of Christianity in Rome in the First Two Centuries
That concludes my SBL-ETS reflections. It was good fun!
Saturday, November 25, 2006
One of the most brilliant conservative scholars of the early 20th century had to be J.G. Machen. This was a guy who knew his primary sources and was thoroughly conversant with the leading scholarship of his day, and yet, remained steadfast in his Christian conviction. Baird is less than generous when he says that with the death of Warfield [I think] that "a double portion of the polemical spirit fell upon Machen" [or words to that effect]. Read the wikipedia article about Machen. See/Listen to John Piper's account of Machen and Modernity at Desiring God Ministries
I'm currently writing an article about the "Birth of Christ" for the Encyclopedia of the Historical Jesus and was reading over Machen's book, The Virgin Birth of Christ. A couple of quotes stand out:
"[A] Christianity dependent on the so-called 'historical Jesus' is gradually giving place to a Christianity that is dependent upon no Jesus at all - a Christianity that is content to use the ethical and religious ideas contained in the Gospels without settling the question whether the person who is said to have enunciated these ideas ever really walked upon the earth." (p. 384).
"One thing at least is clear: even if the belief in the virgin birth is not necessary to every Christian, it is certainly necessary to Christianity. And it is necessary to the corporate witness of the Church." (p. 396).
Friday, November 24, 2006
A major highlight of SBL was my birthday. Not only did my paper went well, but something mystical happened. For those who remember my post Things to Do at ETS - SBL I mentioned, among other things, buy Michael Bird a book from Brill for his Birthday. And some person going under the name, "Brill Team" wrote: "Mike, please pick up your free BRILL book on your birthday at our booth!" However, when you click on the link it goes nowhere. I suspected a joke and Chris Tilling, Jim West, Jim Crossley and Ben Myers were my suspects. However, my belief in the depravity of man was assuaged temporily while browsing through the Brill book stall on my birthday, the acquisitions editor Michiel Kleemans came up to me and said, "Hey, you're Michael Bird. It's your birthday. We have a free book for you. You can have any book you like." Well, after I picked up my jaw off the floor I went through several emotions: (1) Disbelief: "Wow you guys are for-real". (2) More disblief: "It wasn't a joke". (3) Humility. I wanted to prostrate myself before Michiel's feet and cry, "I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy!". (4) Finally, Greed: "Could you please show me your most expensive book". The choice was hard, I had to choose between Porter's book on Paul's Opponents, Ehrman's essays on Textual Criticism, or Epp's collection of essays on Textual Criticism [I can hear Peter Williams and Peter Head crying out, "why didn't you take Epp you mad red head git?" - well, it was too big to take on the plane]. In the end I settled for: Antti Marjanen and Petri Luomanen, eds., A Companion to Second-Century Christian 'Heretics', which will come in very handy for my "eventual" project on Christian Origins and New Testament Theology.
So I wish to issue my thanks to the generosity and sense of humour of everyone at Brill for making my 32nd birthday a truly joyous and most memorable ocassion. So three cheers for Brill. Now, if I can only get Walter de Grutyer and Mohr/Siebeck to do the same next year!
J.R. Daniel Kirk
The Sufficiency of the Cross (II): The Law, the Cross, and Justification
Oliver D. Crisp
Sin, Atonement and Representationalism: Why William shedd was not a consistent realist
Follow Jesus: An Assessment of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Theology of Discipleship
Michael F. Bird
Is There Really a "Third Quest" for the Historical Jesus
Thursday, November 23, 2006
I'll bring up the highlights in a number of posts over the next few days. At ETS the Trinity and Gender paper went well. My basic point is that I think biblically speaking that the eternal functional subordination of the Son is correct (although it needs to be carefully constructed in order to avoid Arianism), however, I do not think it wise to use Trinitarian relations as a complete prescriptive model for male-female relations. Yes, the Trinity indicates that it is possible to have ontological equality with differences in rank; but, nothing in Genesis 1-3 indicates that rank should be determined by gender. What is more, unless your marriage consists of some bizaar love triangel with two male persons, applying Trinitarian relations to human relations is going to break down at some point. I am suspicious of the fact that most egalitarians are against functional subordination and that most complementarians are for functional subordination. I wonder if the debate has been hijacked by theological issues concerning gender. All the same, Millard Erickson, Bruce Ware, and Kevin Giles all gave interesting papers on the subject and Wayne Grudem was there to put in his two cents during question time. Ron Sider gave a top paper detailing the suffering and oppression of women around the world.
Papers on the New Perspective by Andrew Das and Don Garlington were most stimulating, although, I regret to say that I cannot follow Garlington on his use of 4QMMT where he thinks the "works of the law" are the distinctive laws of the Qumran sect. The laws seem to me to include much more than than, and include that which is good, desirable, and righteousness before God.
Of course meeting new people is always the fun part of the ETS-SBL circuit. My honour this year was meeting up with Frank Thielman whom I accidentally sent to the wrong meeting room in my error. And who could forget seeing Denny Burke (see photo of us) as well as the likable Jim Hamilton. Denny gave a good paper on “The ‘Fresh Perspective’ on Paul: A Theology of Anti-Americanism”. There was also lunch dates with Michael Pahl and Alan Bandy - both of whom are doing well - (see the photo here). I met up with my main-man, Joel Willitts, and we had lunch with Scot McKnight (and Scot is taken to speaking Italian these days). Lunch also included time with Jason Hood and Mark Booker (long live the AMiA!!).
Bruce Ware was also made Vice-President, so good for him. Also, ETS adopted the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy as Chris Tilling opines in this post. All I can say is that if you are going to affirm inerrancy, then the Chicago Statement is probably the best way to go about doing it. To all critics out there, remember that ETS reached the decision democratically and the Chicago Statement has long been endorsed by institutions. Personally, I would rather see ETS define the evangel as the sine qua non of evangelicalism in conjuction with a statement on Scripture taken from one of the confessions. One can still have a high view of Scripture without using the language of inerrancy (e.g. Westminster Confession), alas, there were Christians before B.B. Warfield. What is more, I would like to forewarn many at ETS that next year my learned colleague Andrew McGowan intends to present a paper called The European Alternative to Inerrancy based mainly on the approach of Bavinck - watch this space!
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Paul Eddy - A Review of Dunn's Remembering Jesus
A.B. Caneday - The Eschatological World Already Subject to the Son - The Oikoumene of Hebrews 1.6 and the Son's Enthronement
Michael Pahl - Discerning the "Word": en logo Kuriou in 1 Thess 4.15
But the highlight was the paper by Lars Kierspel on "The Jews in the Gospel of John". This was well presented and well argued. It was a good example of evangelical scholarship at its best. Email him and ask him for a copy of it.
Another highlight of the day was meeting Brian Vickers, lecturer in NT at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His book Jesus' Blood and Righteousness is out and is only $5 at the Crossway stall. Vicker's is theologically solid but also irenic in the way argues and, what is more, he is capable of actually letting the text speak for itself. Read that book.
Always good to see Stan and Wendy Porter. And Stan was quite impressed that I'd been able to write a virtual-review of his Romans commentary before he'd even submitted the manuscript. It was more of a promo than a review, but I was under the impression from Sheffield-Phoenix people that his book would be out at SBL.
I had lunch with some blogging people (Michael Pahl and Alan Bandy - Caesar Salads all around).
Also, I have new shoes and my feet are absolutely killing me!
Due to a headache and sore feet, I didn't make the other sessions that night.
My Trinity and Gender paper is tomorrow and so I'm off to rehearse that. A scholar should rehearse all of his papers to enhance his presentation.
I usually go to ETS, but this year I have decided to attend the annual meeting of ASOR . This will be my first go at ASOR and I hope to meet people and develop relationships. I have an interest in New Testament archaeology and I hope to develop it over the early years of my career. My experience is that attending conferences is one way of doing this.
I will be attending ETS on Friday morning to hear the review of Larry Hurtado's book Lord Jesus Christ in the Synoptic Gospels section. Richard Burridge will be presenting a review of the book and I really like his stuff on genre criticism of the Gosples as well as his Four Gospels One Jesus? The latter is a phenominal introduction to the Gospels, by the way. I use it in my John course.
I look forward to presenting a paper at SBL on Sunday afternoon in the Matthew Section entitled Matthew's Messianic Shepherd-King. It will be a synopsis of my Ph.D. thesis.
I hope to see some of you around.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Since I'll be at SBL for my birthday, my wife gave me my presents early which consisted of a new dressing gown, a reading of Phil 2.5-11 from my daughter Alexis, a lovely card, and a copy of the CD Shout with Delight which features songs with lyrics written by Don Carson from Christway Media. Now I know that Carson is not everybody's cup of tea and not everyone likes his critique of the emergent church; but the songs are fresh, orchestrally rich, and theologically kosher! I love the CD and am grateful to my dear wife Naomi for getting it for me. Tragically, it arrived several weeks ago in the mail and as I was the one collecting the mail that day I already knew what I was getting.
Every year somehow I accidentally discover what I'm getting for my birthday. One year I went to go and buy a copy of Robert Gundry's commentary on Mark, but my wife wouldn't let me buy it and when I relentlessly pursued her as to why I could not buy it when it was heavily discounted she had to confess that she'd already bought it for me. On another ocassion she ordered a CD of the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical Whistle Down the Wind and the Music Store HMV phoned up to tell her that it had arrived, except that they got me instead and told me that it was in. So every year, somehow, my suprise birthday present is foiled. Better luck next year darling!
Friday, November 10, 2006
- How does an education that is in an urban setting look different than one that is in the suburbs?
- How does an institution create engagement with the Urban community around it?
- And more personally, how do I as a New Testament scholar inculcate urban and multiculturalism into my research, writing, and teaching?
While the answers to these questions are not easily had, one idea comes to my mind that seems to provide, at the very least, a direction, a trajectory toward the answers. The idea is "Relationship".
I think what will make my research and teaching urban and multicultural is my "encounter" with the urban and multicultural setting around my university. I will imbue urban and multicultural perspectives to the extent that I am in relationship with people who are urban and represent multi-cultures. In this way, it is not through gimmick or formula or program that will bring this about, but willingness on my part to incarnate.
But still, what are the research topics and unique pedagogy that marks a New Testament scholar engaged in an urban multicultural environment? This is still something I need to think deeply about.
Nevertheless, I think the only way North Park will fulfill its potential to be an engaged urban academic institution is as more and more of its faculty live into its unique urban and multicultural setting.
I read in a biography of Calvin somewhere that Calvin began all of his lectures with the same prayer, which was this:
May the Lord grant that we may engage in the heavenly contemplation of the mysteries of God's heavenly wisdom with ever increasing devotion to God's glory and our edification. Amen.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
"Wenn echt, um des Inhalts und des Stiles willen so spät wie möglich, wenn unecht, so früh wie denkbar"
"If genuine, as late as possible, because of the content and the style; if not genuine, as early as imaginable".
Of course whether certain NT sources are not genuine or inauthentic is another matter!
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
However, I struggle to write. It doesn't come easy for me. I don't wake up in the morning thinking about what I will reflect on in writing today. There are people who have this kind of mind and a gift for ideas. I don't feel that I fit into that category. Still I have learned an important lesson although I don't practice it as I should.
I have learned that even ideas come best through the process of writing. Often us young guys feel we don't have any thing to write about; we don't have any ideas to develop in writing. Yet, there is a kind of writing that is called "generative writing" that gives space to think and even develop ideas. This kind of writing is messy writing, like writing in a journal. There are little tricks that can be done to force this kind of writing. One technique I use is timed writing. I have a timer on my wrist watch that I set for five minutes. I write as much as I can on a particular issue for five minutes not being concerned about grammar or spelling. The only requirement is that I write sentences. I usually am able to write between 200 and 300 words. If I do these timed writings three or four times I have written nearly 1000 words. This can be a very positive thing for those of us for whom writing is difficult. Within just 2o minutes you have nearly 1000 words. Often in this group of words there are some real gems to develop in more refined writing.
The only real condition of this kind of writing is that one disciplines oneself to write daily. As you know from my contribution to this blog, I don't practice this as often as I should--especially as I am in the throws of my first semester of teaching. Surely this predicament is a legitimate excuse for not writing much.
Monday, November 06, 2006
While I'm at it I thought I might plug the book by Stan Porter on Romans.
This new addition to the Readings series of commentaries, expounding the letter paragraph by paragraph, is distinctive among commentaries on Romans in foregrounding a literary approach. To comprehend the letter, Porter shows, we must always be aware of the letter-writing and rhetorical conventions its author was deploying.
The commentary is organized around the five-part epistolary structure that Paul developed for this fundamental letter, a structure that gives shape to its logically unfolding theological argument. Recognizing this structure is vital for interpreting the traditional sections of the body of the letter, as well as for understanding the placement of the problematic chapters 9–11 within Paul’s thought.
One of the primary means of development Paul uses within the letter is the diatribe style as a rhetorical device for shaping and presenting his argument. Through the insistent questions and responses of the diatribe, Paul opens up the major theological issues of the letter—human depravity, sin and works, justification and righteousness, reconciliation, life in the Spirit, and the role of Israel.
Stanley E. Porter is President and Dean, and Professor of New Testament, at McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, Ontario.
Porter has written a few articles on Romans already (esp. Romans 5) and they provide a good taste of what is to come. Distinguishing features of this commentary, I imagine, would be a preference for epistolary genre over a rhetorical genre, a good exegesis of the Greek at certain points (e.g. katallasso), and probably some use of discourse analysis.
Stanley E. Porter, Romans
J.K. Elliott, The Apocryphal New Testament
Klaus Berger, Theologiegeschichte des Urchristentums. Theologie des Neuen Testaments
As the tragic saga of the secret life of Ted Haggard unfolds, I'm reminded of the words of the Scottish Preacher Robert Murray McCheyne: "The best of men, are men at best!"
Justin Taylor of the blog Between Two Worlds has several posts following the affair as it unfolded.
Two things come to my mind:
(1) Ted Haggard has tragically soiled his testimony before the world.
(2) How Christians respond to Haggard's failure may itself become a witness to God's grace and forgiveness embodied in the community that confesses his name.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
"The idea of a later pseudonymous letter written to a city that was in ruins and to a church there that perhaps no longer existed and which Paul had never visited (Col. 2.1) seems too macabre to be likely, especially since the letter makes no mention of this disaster that had overtaken the city." (Baptism and Resurrection, 70).That would prove only that it was written during Paul's lifetime and not necessarily by Paul, but it is a good point.
My review of this book is in good timing as I'm about to start a series on Colossians at Chapel at HTC. Of course my favourite commentaries on Colossians remain O'Brien, Wright, Lightfoot, and Dunn.
Friday, November 03, 2006
1. Go to the right hotel. Last year in Philly I told the cab driver to take me to the Holiday Inn near the convention centre. She took me to the Down-Town Philly Holiday Inn when I should have gone to Holiday Inn at Valley Forge (where the ETS coference was being held prior to the SBL convention in down town Philly). There are two Holiday Inns, both are near convention centers, but about 30 miles apart. Don't let it happen to you.
2. Wear shoes that won't disintegrate. This happened to me at ETS and I was using sticky tape provided by a book seller to keep my shoes together. Thank you Fortress Press.
3. If someone accuses you of heresy based on your recent JETS article, ask them if they have actually read the article. In some cases they haven't actually read it and are just going on something they read on a blog.
4. If you are from outside the US don't let the locals try guess where you are from. According to one cab driver I was probably from some place called "Milwaulkee" [sic] because I looked and sounded "square and goofy".
5. Remember, last day of sales at SBL: show no mercy, give no quarter, and take no prisoner. If you have to stomp over some poor old lady who is Emeritus at Columbia State to get to the Oxford book stall first, well so be it, it was her fault for getting in your way in the first place, and she's old enough to know better. And if some snotty nosed Ph.D Cand from Vanderbilt tries to snatch the latest volume by Ehrman out of your hands, kick that effeminate Ivy-league snob in the google.com.
6. If you see Michael Bird be sure to wish him a happy birthday on Saturday the 18th of November as he will be 32 years old.
7. If you see some Ph.D cand from SBTS holding a sign that says, "will exegete for food" throw him your loose change since the poor lad probably spent all of his savings just trying to get there.
8. Walk up to the Prometheus book stall ask the sellers if they'd like to hear your testimony about how you went from being an atheist to becoming a Christian.
9. If you see Michael Bird, buy him lunch or dinner cause its his birthday on Saturday.
10. Say to Jim West, "Oh my gosh, look Jim, its Rudolf Bultmann!". When he turns to look give him an atomic wedgee and then run (he used to be in the military police).
11. If you see Joe Cathy ask if he is "packing"? If you are going down any dark alleys at night try to have Joe with you. It's always good to travel at night with a man who is armed to the back death with an MP-5, grenades, and knives.
13. Walk past the Prometheus book stall and ask, "How is Madalyn Murray O'Hare doing these days?
14. Come to all of Michael Bird's papers (two at ETS and two at SBL), last year at my presentation only four people showed up. My ego can't take that kind of a beating again.
15. Go to the Scottish Uni's Reception. Good food and good British scholars abound.
16. When you're cruising the book stalls take a hanky with you to wipe your mouth as you may be salivating, esp. if it's your first SBL.
17. If you see Michael Bird buy him a book from Brill as a birthday present.
18. Remember if you buy it, you still have to take it on the plane.
19. If you see N.T. Wright run up to him and shake his hand and tell him how honoured you are to meet the Archbishop of Canterbury, and then express surprise and disappointment that he's not in fact Rowan Williams.
20. In order to get into the exclusive Yale reception (really good food and quality alcohol) walk into the room holding hands with your best friend (Joel Willitts) and tell everyone that you are Yale grads who got married last year in Canada and that you just finished writing your thesis on an Eco-Feminist-Post-Colonial interpretation of Rom 1.26-27. All I can say is that it worked for me and Joel last year!
21. Go to the Prometheus book stall and tell them how Antony Flew inspired you to become a Christian.
22. After talking to James Crossley always check to make sure that you still have your wallet.
23. Buy Brandon Wason a beer and ask him how Emory is treating him.
24. Turn up to the papers that you are supposed to present.
25. If you meet Sean Winter for the first time, walk up to him and say, "Are you from Milwaulkee, because you look kinda ..."
26. Even if you're not an egalitarian, go to the Christian for Biblical Equality dinner on Wenesday night. Nice folk. I wish complementarians and egalitarians would fellowship together more.
27. If you see Al Mohler at ETS, ask him he'd like to have a beer at the "Evangelicals for Hilary Clinton Reception"
28. Offer to get a coffee for Robin Parry, book seller for Paternoster, if he's looking tiried.
29. Take notes at all the presentations that you go to (I. Howard Marshall still does).
30. Relax and have a good time. Take in some seminars, meet and mix with people, sign a few publishing contracts, and drink as much free alcohol at the receptions as you can without violating bibical commandments about drunkenness and carousing and without imperiling your witness.
See ya there! If you can't find me, I'll be the red head Aussie guy that looks "kinda square and goofy".
Is eternal functional subordination within the Trinity a heresy? Is the Son eternally subordinate to the Father in function? In my mind there is no doubt that there is ontological equality, but I don't see a prima facie problem with functional subordination. The reason I say this is because I'm doing a review of Kevin Giles' book Jesus and the Father at ETS in two weeks time. Ben Witherington has an exert out of Giles' book for those interested (here). My initial thoughts are that this debate has been hijacked by those who are using intra-Trinitarian relations to fight the gender wars in North America. I think subordination is consistent with Phil 2.6, John 5.18 and quite explicit in 1 Cor. 15.28. But those who want to use the Son's willing submission to the Father as a theological rubric for complementarianism are barking up the wrong tree. There may be "priority" or even "rank" in the Trinity, but there is nothing from the intra-Trinitarian relations that dictates that "rank" is determined by gender. The women-in-ministry issue must be settled on other grounds and appealing to the Trinity to justify any particular view of gender or social equality is misguided.
I would add that Craig Keener has written a fine article on the subject and he comes out in favour of subordination, even though he's a committed egalitarian Is subordination within the Trinity really heresy? A study of John 5:18 in context TrinJ (1999).
There is a good bibliography of the topic at the Theology Matters matters blog and another blog, Kruse Kronicle offers some reflections on the debate too.
I think I'll stick to NT stuff after this presentation, or better yet, let the erudite Ben Myers figure it all out for me.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Myself and Preston Sprinkle have completed the mother-of-all-pistis-christou bibliographies. Does anyone know of a good site where we should post it? I'd prefer to post it on the net as a PDF rather than a html. Any ideas?