Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tyndale Fellowship - Part 2

Day two of the TF was great. Mariam Kamell (a Ph.D student at St. Andrews) kicked off the NT group meetings with a cracking good paper on the ethics of James where she noted that James does have an indicative element (implanted word, new birth) prior to its indicative ethics (keeping self pure, visiting orphans and widows, etc). This was followed up with some other good papers on Paul and imitation (Rick Weymouth with pictures of Christian relics in Jordan), Paul's ethics based on 2 Cor 5.17 (Timothy Keene - Timothy with Chris Tilling are the only two people I know who accepts N.T. Wright's reading of 2 Cor 5.21) and ethical points in the Acts 15 Jerusalem council (Hyung Dae Park).

The annual TF NT lecture was delivered by Roland Deines of Nottingham University, who was soon to leave for Martin Hengel's funeral in Germany. His topic was ‘God’s Role in History as a Methodological Problem for Exegesis: Towards a Historical-Critical Assessment of the Conviction that God is Acting in History’ and he started by noting what Josephus says about miraculous events: "let each one decide on this as he fancies". Ancient historians, such as Lucian of Samosata, aimed for a reserved objectivity on the "miraculous" and this is preferable to modernist approaches. Deines presented a survey of the approaches of Troeltsch, Hengel, and Ratzinger. What Deines was heading for was a way to integrate God's existence into the study of historical effects. His own view was that revelation is real, but mysterious and unfixable, and we should be prepared to integrate a degree of transcendence into our view of historiography. The two big issues here are: (1) If we accept the historical possibility of miracles, then don't we have to accept all "miracles" in all religions as well, be they Christian, Hindu, Muslim, etc.? Why or why not? (2) If you reject miracles and God/transcendence as part of an explanation of history, then you're buying into a perspective that is only 200 years old and limited to Western civilization. To say that they only reason why Muslims in the Middle East still believe in religious miracles is because they haven't had their enlightenment yet is a tad bit imperialistic. Deines' paper was very philosophical for a NT paper, but otherwise, very stimulating.

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