Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Podcast Programme: Solum Evangelium

I have finally decided to start a podcast programme called Solum Evangelium which is broadcast in order to show the relevance of biblical, theological, and historical studies for the life of the church. These will take place spasmodically (as often as I can find guest speakers and like minded folks) and I intend to do more in the future on this.

This podcast (SE 1) is about "Preaching, Teaching, and Singing the Psalms" with Dr. Jamie Grant (Biblical Studies Tutor at the Highland Theological College) and the Rev. Angus Macrae of Dingwall Free Church.

Let me know what ya think in comments!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Latest Issue of Themelios

The new issue of Themelios 34.1 (2009) is available with several notable articles:

D.A. Carson offers a good editorial on the importance of distinguishing between the gospel and its effects. He states: "Failure to distinguish between the gospel and all the effects of the gospel tends, on the long haul, to replace the good news as to what God has done with a moralism that is finally without the power and the glory of Christ crucified, resurrected, ascended, and reigning."

This issue revolves around two article length reviews that engage recent books on Scripture (and they are many) by Robert Yarbrough "The Embattled Bible: Four More Books" and Jason Sexton "How Far Beyond Chicago? Recent Attempts to Reframe the Inerrancy Debate". I particularly liked Sexton's article that was sympathetic and fair to a number of authors that have got a rough ride in reviews. What was interesting is that Jason cites this blog, specifically my interview with Ben Witherington about Scripture, in a footnote. Thus, much to my surprise, perhaps "Euangelion" has become an academically reputable source as opposed to the collective rambling of the thoughts of myself and Joel Willitts.

There is also a review of Thomas Schreiner's New Testament Theology written by the prosaic Michael F. Bird.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Book Notice: The Word Leaps the Gap

I've finally been able to spend an afternoon reading over the Richard Hays festschrift The Word Leaps the Gap: Essays on Scripture and Theology in Honor of Richard B. Hays. This is one of those uber-books with a who's who of biblical and theological scholarship involved. I won't give an article by article review, but some essays stood out for me in my afternoon of browsing through the book:

1. Luke Timothy Johnson "John and Thomas in Context: An Exercise in Canonical Criticism" - you could replace Gos. Thom. with John in the Nag Hammadi, but you can't replace John with Gos. Thom. in the NT, it doesn't sit neatly between Luke and Acts.

2. E.P. Sanders "Did Paul's Theology Develop?" where he argues that he never ever called Paul "inconsistent" or "irrational" but regarded him as a coherent though unsystematic thinker. Provides further reflections on development in the Pauline writings as a natural expression of his human personality and missiological activities.

3. James D. G. Dunn "EK PISTEOS: A Key to the Meaning of PISTIS CHRISTOU" written in letter form and closes with the words "Sorry Richard".

4. Douglas A. Campbell "An Echo of Scripture in Paul, and Its Implications" where builds on Hays' detection of an echo of Psalm 98.2-3 LXX in Rom. 1.17. Campbell asserts that divine kingship rather than covenantal faithfulness is the background to the echo in Rom. 1.17. I suspect that this is a rare and unusual convergence of Doug Campbell with Mark Seifrid who has argued similarly (but with very different nuances) about Ps 98 and "righteousness".

So many good essays in this volume, not enough time to read them all, Nijay Gupta also offers his own partial review. There is also a charming opening poem in tribute to Richard by one of his friends, a moving testimony about Richard from his daughter Sarah who is a Buddhist, and a concluding reprint of an essay by Richard and his wife Judy about growing old biblically.

I'm not a big believer in buying festschrifts, but this is a book that is genuinely good to have on the shelf with so many cool essays over diverse areas.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Debates on Biblical Theology

Sometime ago at there was debate between Graeme Goldsworthy and Carl Trueman about Systematic and Biblical Theologies. I've written on this before (Biblical Theology - An Endangered Species), but here are a couple of quotes from each author:

Trueman: "Year in, year out, I teach the history of Christian doctrine; and, year in year out, I have not only taken flack from those liberals for whom the whole idea of doctrine is somewhat fanciful; I have also taken flack from those evangelicals who ‘just have their Bible’. That the church wrestled for at least 1700 years with issues of systematic theology, not just biblical narrative, and did so in a manner which sought to preserve the balance between economy and ontology in the church’s proclamation of God in Christ, is lost on such students. My fear is that the biblical theology movement, while striving to place the Word back at the centre of the church’s life, is inadequate in and by itself for the theological task of defending and articulating the faith. Reflection upon the wider church tradition is needed, creeds, confessions and all, because this is the best way to understand how and where the discipline of biblical theology and redemptive history can be of use to the wider picture without it usurping and excluding other, equally necessary and important theological disciplines. Christianity is Trinitarian at its very core, and it is my suspicion that biblical theology on its own is inadequate to protect and defend that core. We need ontology as well as economy if we are to do justice to the Bible’s teaching on who God is and what he has done. The biblical theological revolutionaries have become the new establishment, it time for those of us rebels who think that the Bible raises more than just redemptive-historical questions, and that the creedal tradition of the church gives important insights on this, to raise our voices in dissent, to highlight the very real dangers of making this insight into an ideology and to do our best to bring the pendulum back a little."

Goldsworthy: "One more point needs to be made. By its very nature, systematic theology involves a measure of abstraction in order to show the contemporary relevance of the revelation that was given within its redemptive-historical context. If systematics is divorced from this context it becomes a total abstraction. The gospel is not an abstraction but the proclamation of a once-for-all historic event within time and space. To de-historicise the gospel is to destroy it. This has happened in the moving of the one saving event to the continuous repetition of the mass in Catholicism, to the existential moment in Bultmannism, or to the timeless ethical ideal of Liberalism. Biblical theology is necessary to prevent this de-historicising of the gospel by anchoring the person and work of Christ into the continuum of redemptive history that provides the 'story-line' of the whole Bible. The only thing that can rescue systematics from such abstractions is biblical theology. In fact, systematic theology is plainly impossible without biblical theology. Biblical theology is the only means of preventing every biblical text having equal significance for Christians (e.g. we need it to sort out what to do which the ritual laws of the Pentateuch). It prevents us from short-circuiting texts so that we isolate them from their theological context and then moralise on their application to believers."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Horton on Reformed View of the Eucharist

I've enjoyed reading Michael Horton's People and Place and particularly interesting was the chapter on Eurcharist (amazing still to see a conservative Reformed theologian even call it "Eucharist"). Horton wants to avoid the errors of transforming the sign into the signified (Rome) or completely separating the sign from the signified (Zwingli). Horton, pretty much piggy backing Calvin the whole way, asserts that the spiritual presence of Christ is not spatial nor imaginary, but relational and eschatological. The earthly sign has a heavenly reality and the supper if a fissure in the present age that has been opened up by the Spirit for our semirealized participation in the consummation. Horton detects in Calvin's eucharistic theology something of Patristic writings of the East whereby the Spirit communicates the energies of Christ's life-giving flesh in the sacrament. Horton qualifies that by saying that the East's category of energies is better translated into the covenantal idiom of the worksings of God, specifically, the redemptive speech-act of Father in the Son by the Spirit. While the person of Christ cannot be communicated through the sacament, the workings of Christ can be. Horton states: "It is through the working of God through Word and sacrament, received in faith, that the Spirit clothes us with Christ inwardly in this age and outwardly adorns us with righteousness, beauty, glory, and immortality in the age to come. Once more we recognize the point ... the emphasis on the sacraments as mediating God's presence-in-action rather than naked manifestation." Finally, Horton quotes B.A. Berrish about how Calvin's eucharistic theology has been received in the Reformed churches:

'Calvin's eucharistic piety has repeatedly been lost, or at least curtailed, in the churches that officially claim him as their Reformer but in fact have moved closer in their sacramental theology to the Zwinglian view, which Calvin rejected as "profane." it has even become commonplace to make a sharp distinction between "evangelical" and "sacramental" piety. The distinction, as such, could hardly find support in Calvin, for whom the Supper attested a communion with Christ's body and blood that is given precisely by the gospel.'

It's the best non-NT book I've read for a while!

Et tu Trueman

Over at Reformation21, Carl Trueman has a post on evangelicals in the mainline Church of Scotland. This is fairly derogatory and acidic words towards fellow evangelicals. He states:

What puzzles me is the concern among C of S evangelicals about the appointment of an openly gay man as a minister. In my time at Aberdeen, the minister of this church, as I remember, did not make any secret of his dislike of traditional Christianity. Indeed, I think he was a self-identified liberal. So the question is: why is a general denial of the authority of the word of God and of basic Christian orthodoxy acceptable in the Church of Scotland, but living in a homosexual partnership not so? If evangelicals are prepared to live with the former, then for them to oppose the latter is then both inconsistent and, arguably, homophobic. Evangelicals who have not fought denials of the resurrection among office bearers -- and some of whom stood by in silence as fellow evangelicals were beaten up by the church courts over refusals to ordain women -- should not fight homosexuality. Indeed, they have absolutely no grounds upon which so to do; and it just looks like bigotry to the onlooking world. Too little, too late.

Hmmm. Much about this, to say, I have:

1. Who are these evangelicals who have not fought denials of the word of God and basic orthodoxy? As far as I'm aware, evangelicals lobby intensely in a variety of theatres for orthodox theology such as at Presbyteries, denominational committees, and at the General Assumbly. Trueman seems to be utterly ignorant of the group Forward Together which is "a group for evangelical members of the Church of Scotland who share a desire to serve our Lord Jesus Christ within the Church of Scotland" and actively strategize for evangelical renewal in the COS. If evangelicals sat on their hands as Trueman alleges, then why were they successful in getting an evangelical college accredited to train COS ministers, why did they get the legal questions committee's suggestion that ministers who bless same sex unions not be disciplined thrown out back in 2006, and why has the recent Aberdeen case been referred to the Assembly where it is unlikely to survive a vote or the barrier act? The answer: evangelicals, or at least theological moderates, in the COS took a stand. So Trueman is speaking utter porky pies. But then again, he seems ignorant of the facts, so perhaps he should be forgiven.

2. In the words of the great American theologian, Kenny Rogers, when it comes to one's theology of schism: "you've got to know when to hold-em, know when to fold-em, know when to walk away, and know when to run". There are times when you have got to realize that a certain denomination has reached the point of no return, and you say to yourself, "I'm leaving Brigadoon, tis miracle is over". For instance, I would have a hard time worshipping in certain diocese in The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the USA where evangelicals are very unwelcomed. I'd probably cast my lot in with the Anglican Mission in the Americas or the new North American Anglican Province. But there are those who have chosen to stay, some of the Common Cause Partners, because they feel that they still have a job to do, a flock to shepherd, and a mission field before them. I think I'm right and they're wrong, but may they go in peace and may the sun rise to meet them. Likewise, in the Presbyterian Church USA, I probably would have followed the exodus of orthodox Presbyterian churches to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, but I know of people who believe that there is something left to fight for and a ministry to fulfill. I remember reading, some months ago, about a conversation John Stott had with an American Anglican bishop about whether or not he should leave the TEC. Stott told him "no", because "you've got the gospel on your side, why should you have to leave" (or words to that effect).

3. Why is it only theological deviants to the liberal left that Trueman censures evangelicals for tolerating? What about theological deviants to the conservative right that also distort the faith that evangelicals tolerate? I mean those who hold to a KJV-onlyism, mandate that unaccompanied metrical psalms (sometimes it is exclusively the Scottish Psalter and not the modern Sing Psalms) is the only form of acceptable worship, those who won't let women pray in church, professors who teach that "God has a covenant with America", or those who treat the Westminster Confession with a greater authority than Scripture. Now I don't like the phrase "generous orthodoxy," but let us remember that there is liberty to the left and to the right, just as there are boundaries to the left and to the right of what should be acceptable in our churches. Enforcing boundaries and allowing liberty is the problem the church has had for 2000 years and it is not getting any less complicated. These things call for wisdom, nerve, and charity.

4. Some of us are fighting the good fight of the faith and standing up for the gospel against pansexuality and religious pluralism that is infiltrating certain ecclesial communities. We parry and thrust to the glory of God before the "real" liberals who are trying to finish what, in effect, Marcion started, i.e. turning Christianity into a more culturally palatable commodity. There is no harm in saying things like, "I think you guys are fighting in vain; you backed the wrong horse; it'll never work; I told ya so, come and join us, or whatever". But Trueman's language of biogotry and allegations of being theologically complacent are inaccurate and uncharitable. At the moment when you're adversary swings at you with a big Scottish claymore, it is a bit disconcerting when you suddenly feel the sting of rushing pain in your back as someone puts the knife in. You then look to your rear only to see Dr. Trueman standing behind you with a self-congratulating smile on his face. What do you say to that? I think I know: "Et tu Trueman?". I dedicate this post to all my evangelical friends and students in the COS: solum evangelium.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Interview with Trevin Wax

As a follow up to his recent review of Introducing Paul, Trevin Wax has posted an interview with me about why we should be reading Paul today!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Endorsements for "Are You the One Who is to Come?"

My next book, Are You the One Who is to Come? The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question (due out probably in about 8 weeks) has some cool endorsements. To wet your appeitite here they are:

"Michael Bird tackles a question central to historical Jesus research and to understanding the development of the Christian confession: Who did Jesus say that he was? Thoroughly conversant with the extensive history of scholarship, Bird applies a rigorous critique to the dominant arguments used against attributing a messianic self-understanding to Jesus. He builds a substantial case for Jesus's messianic self-understanding by analyzing the words explicitly spoken on this topic by or about Jesus during his earthly ministry and by examining the deeds Jesus chose to enact and the roles he would have been understood--and would have understood himself--to embody by these deeds. Bird brings a fresh perspective and keen mind to this debate, painting a historically plausible picture of a Judean well versed in current messianic paradigms who crafted a ministry that reflected both an awareness of acting as God's end-time agent and a particular understanding of what that agent was to accomplish."--David A. deSilva, Ashland Theological Seminary

"Michael Bird has written one of the clearest and most compelling treatments of Jesus and the messianic question that I have read. Ancient literature and modern literature are alike handled with great expertise and excellent judgment. Readers will find no long-winded, specious theories propounded here. On the contrary, this book lays out the evidence fairly and with economy and then consistently reaches sensible conclusions. In the end, Bird goes where the evidence takes him, concluding that Jesus understood himself as Israel's Messiah, which explains the nature of the name of the movement that arose in the aftermath of Easter. I recommend this book highly."--Craig A. Evans, Acadia Divinity College

"Bird offers a robust defense of what might be called a 'neo-conservative' position on Jesus's self-understanding. This book will appeal to scholars from a range of perspectives due to the vast amount of ancient source material covered in detail along with an array of important modern sources. Students and scholars wanting a detailed but accessible entry into this key topic in historical Jesus studies would do well to start with Are You the One Who Is to Come?"--James Crossley, University of Sheffield

Elizabeth Achtemeier and God's Word

Thanks to Michael Horton's book, People and Place, I discovered this quote from Elizabeth Achtemeier:

"No one believes that God speaks through his Word until they hear it. And no argument can convince the unbeliever apart from the work of the Spirit. "Faith comes by what is heard," writes Paul, "and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ" (Rom. 10:17, RSV). And it is the preaching of Christ - the testimony of faith that is there beyond our human words a transcendent word - it is that alone which can awaken and renew the church".

E. Achtemeier, 'The Canon as the Voice of the Living God,' in Reclaiming the Bible for the Church, eds. Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1995), 122-23.

Beware of Exploding Wolfs - New Creation and Sanctification

As many of you know, my reading of Romans 7 is that it refers to pre-Christian Paul and not to the struggle of Christian Paul. You know also that I really dislike the analogy of a Christian having two natures a fleshly nature and spiritual nature and the struggle between them being likened to two dogs fighting and the dog who wins the contest is one you feed the most. I don't like this because it promotes an ontological dualism that does not square with the new creation. Justin Taylor blogged on this some time ago which prompted some discussion, and as a follow up (thanks to Aaron), I have a further analogy for how to integrate belief in new creation into our doctrine of sanctification with the struggle of sin in the life of the believer. Here it is:

Beware of exploding wolfs!

Once we were wolves. We were ravenous, blood thirsty, violent, predatory, and evil creatures of the night. And then a heavenly veternarian found us wounded and caught in a bear trap, while we were yet wild and untamed, he gave us an injection to treat our wounds. But this was no ordinary injection, he wasn't trying to cure our cuts and laserations, but to destroy the wolfness of our wolfhood. One particular wolf was given the injection and within moments the wolf suddenly fell to the ground clutching his stomach in pain, then pawing at his throat, howling in agony and confusion, bright lights started shining out of his nose, mouth, ears, and his eyes began glowing with dazzling white light with enough brightness to illuminate a baseball stadium. And then, quite dramtatically, the wolf exploded in a blinding explosion of radiant beams of golden light and covering the surrounding area in a debris of blood, bone, guts, and gore. Yet in the place where the wolf was lying down racked in pain was now a perfect looking lamb. It is the mind and soul of the same animal, but the wolf was gone and the lamb was there instead. The lamb, unfortunately, was still coverered in bits of the blood and gore of the exploded wolf that need to be cleaned off. But the wolf is dead, and the lamb is here. The new lamb begins acting immediately like a lamb but there is still a struggle with remnants of wolfiness still around. People keep asking him or her, "Didn't you used to be a wolf?" And the lamb answered, "Well, yes, but he exploded, and I'm a lamb now". Every now and then, he'll feel like eating some mutton, till he remember that lambs don't eat mutton. Eventually, most of the old wolf instincts faded as more and more of the wolf gore was wiped away and he spends time frolicing in the pastures with the Vet who is also the Shepherd of the flock.

That I think is a better analogy than the old "two dogs" story that you hear. No analogies are perfect, but does this do the job better than the "two dogs" analogy?

Trevin Wax Reviews "Introducing Paul"

Trevin Wax, book reviewer extraordinaire, reviews my book Introducing Paul/Bird's Eye-View of Paul on his blog and is quite favourable towards it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Church of Scotland and Gay Ministers

The timesonline reports that the Church of Scotland magazine, Life and Work, is supporting gay partnerships with an editorial by Muriel Armstrong at the head. This is little more than a propaganda exercise in view of a forthcoming General Assembly that will deal with the matter of the appointment of a gay minister in Aberdeen who is currently occuping the manse with his partner. The kirk session and presbytery approved the appointment, but it will have to go to the Assembly where I assume that it will be shot down, or else, thank God for the barrier act, which will take it down faster than a 1980s Mike Tyson in a grumpy mood. One advantage of the Free Church of Scotland is that they don't have this debate about whether or not to appoint actively homosexual ministers (on the downside they have debates about whether or not it is sinful to use instrumental music in worship services). More seriously, depending on how the issue plays out in the COS this could lead to a division in the national church not seen since the disruption of 1843.

Lecture on the Royal Psalms

For those interested, I've recorded a lecture on the Royal Psalms which I've posted on It is in three 10 minute segments:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Monday, April 20, 2009

Michael Horton on the Sacraments

I'm reading through Michael Horton's People and Place and came across this interesting quote about the Sacraments:

"Alongside preaching the word that is delivered in baptism and the Supper creates the world of which it speaks. Preaching does not simply refer to an extra linguistic reality, but is indeed the linguistic means through which the Spirit brings it about. Even the sacraments, then, obtain their efficacy from the word that they ratify ... At the same time, they are also visual - indeed, tactile and edible, words. Since the word creates community beyond indvidual consumerism, it gurantees the efficacy of the sacraments not only as means of grace, but also as a means of grace-enabled communion with human strangers. God does what he says. Because his word is no mere sign, but powerful ("living and active"), in the hands of the Spirit the sacraments also truly communicate God's saving grace." (p. 106).

Thought provoking stuff!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Leaving Behind the "Left Behind" series

Michael Gorman has a must-read post criticizing the Left Behind series (and many of the points could be applied to American dispensationalism as a whole).

SBTS Wright Review Panel

I've finally had a chance to listen to the review of N.T. Wright's new book on justification by Tom Schreiner, Mark Seifrid, and Brian Vickers at SBTS/Boyce College. Congrats to Denny Burk (grand poohbah of Boyce College) for organizing a very good panel discussion. My name was mentioned at the beginning and ocassioned what sounded like some kind of nervous laughter by the panelists! While the discussion could have been alot more sympathetic to Wright (a couple of readings from his book would have helped, I thought Seifrid went a bit too far at some points esp. when he called Wright's view "horrid" and accused Wright of "moralism", and generally Wright has not for a long time reduced justification to ecclesiology) it was a relatively balanced affair and criticisms were articulated appropriately (note esp. Schreiner's appreciation for Wright). I wish I was there for it (audience or panelist), but as one who has endorsed books by Piper and Wright, here's my thoughts on the discussion, panel member by panel member:

1. Tom Schreiner. Tom was dissatisfied with Wright's new book. He felt that it lacked an actual response to the precise issues that Piper raises against vis-a-vis wright. What is more, Wright fails to emphasize the degree of discontinuity begtween the Old and New Covenant. Generally, I think this is correct. Wright has a tendency to paint with a thick brush on a big canvass, rather than get drawn into the nitty gritty specifics. While the big picture is often a master piece, and draws you in, you can be left wanting on some of the precise details.

2. Mark Seifrid. Mark is one of my favourite Pauline scholars and his book Christ, our righteousness has been one of the biggest influences on my own views of Paul. I must also recommend his forthcoming essay in a book I'm editing on the Pistis Christou debate. Mark Seifrid and Preston Sprinkle present what I think is the THE solution to the "faith of Jesus Christ" debate. Back to the panel discussion, I confess that I was pretty much gobsmacked by Mark's opening remark about Wright coming close to Roman Catholicism. I've had this same discussion with Dan Wallace in the past about whether Wright is "Catholic" and I'm not convinced that Wright is Tridentine (and I know Tim Chester will back me on that one). In fact, Wright is closer to Bucer and Zwingli than he is to Westminster and I think THAT is the real reason why he gets mistaken for being Catholic. But Mark was the most engaging and provocative speaker at the session and I enjoyed what he had to say. He regards Piper and Wright as being hyper-forensic and not giving due regard to the effective nature of justification. That is to say, justification is not about a "mere" declaration but concerned with the actual enactment of justice (see Ps. 82 and Luke 18.1-8). When it comes to works, Mark chides Wright for laying so much stress on the role of the Holy Spirit in producing good works in us as the basis of eschatological justification. For Mark (see his 2000 SBTS lecture on this availabe from SBTS in audio) good works are the works that Christ works in us. For Mark, faith is God's work in us , what Christ carried forward, and what God presents before himself on the final day is not our inspired works, but his own work of new creation. According to Mark, good works are necesssry in the same way that it is necessary for the sun to shine.

3. Brian Vickers (whom I count as a genuine friend) was the dark horse of the discussion and he had some short and thoughtful comments to add. Best of all was that he shows that, contra Wright, imputation does not rely on this notion of a "treasury of merit" that Jesus supposedly acquired (if you've read Bird's Eye-View of Paul/Introducing Paul, you'll know that I "amen" that one loudly). Also, Vickers drove home that union with Christ is the framework for understanding justification and imputation. While Wright says that "union with Christ gives you everything that imputation does" that is fine, but some where along the line you have to state how and by what mechanism does union create, cause, or make us "righteous"? As Leon Morris wrote: "imputation is a corollary of the identification of the believer with Christ".

Two final observations:

First, for me the best part was how all three guys articulted imputation. Vickers sees imputation as related to union with Christ and he believes that it emerges from a "synthesis" of the biblical materials. Similarly, Seifrid believes that imputation is doctrinally correct, but it does not appear directly in Scripture. Again he uses the word of "synthesis" to describe how we arrive at imputation theologically. That confirms my suspicions, contra both Piper and Wright, that imputation is theologically correct but not exegetically explicit in the texts itself.

Second, I thought it was amazing that each panelist gave us a very different take on the meaning of the "righteousness of God". Closest to my own view was Vickers who sees it is as attributive quality, refering to God's own character, displaying God's saving activity, and related to salvation through judgment. In line with Vickers I should mention that in the same ball park are his colleagues Jim Hamilton who is doing a biblical theological study of salvation through judgment and Denny Burk who also gave a very good presentation on dikaiosyne theou at ETS last year where he argued for a nominal rather than verbal sense for dikaiosyne. Seifrid sees the righteousness of God as related to God's intent to establish justice throughout all of creation; which is fine and quite valid (e.g. Ps. 98) as long as you don't cut the cords with the covenantal dimension to God's righteousness either. Finally, Schreiner sees the "righteousness of God" as an objective genitive, i.e. to the righteousness from God that we receive by faith. Schreiner alludes to my criticism of him in a forthcoming Themelios review of his (rather superb!) NT Theology. In my Pauline theology class my students read Tom Schreiner's Pauline Theology book, but when they get to the section on justification and righteousness I tell them that the best refutation to Schreiner on this topic is to be found in the OT - not in the Old Testament, but rather in Old Tom - in Tom Schreiner's Romans commentary which I think gives a very good exposition of the "righteousness of God" in Rom. 1.17. This is what Tom wrote back then:

"The term 'righteousness of God' in Rom 1:17 ... is clearly fundamental for all of Romans, and it is unlikely that it can be confined solely to forensic or transformative categories. Those whom God has vindicated he also changes. In my opinion, it is doubtful that the term Paul features in presenting his gospel would contain only a forensic dimension. This transformation does not involve eperfection, and it is also crucial to see that God's transforming righteousness is still an alien righteousness - given by God as a gift to sinners. Nor is there any suggest that sinners somehow prepare themselves by good deeds to receive this righteousness. The saving righteousness of God is a gift received by faith alone, and God declares sinners to be in the right before him on the basis of Christ's atoning death. Yet God's declaration of righteousness - which is a gift of the age to come invading the present evil age - is an effective declaration, so that those who are pronounced righteous are also transformed by God's grace. Such a transformation is due solely to God's grace and does not involve a perfect righteousness, nor is there any suggestion that the good works that follow this transformation merit eternal life. Nonetheless, as Rom. 6 shows, believers are changed by the grace of God, and this transformation is an essential ingredient in God's saving work. The use of the verb dikaioun in Rom. 6:7 demonstrates that God's declaration of righteousness really frees people from sin. Similarly, in Rom. 5:19 Paul teaches that those who are incorporated into Christ Jesus are actually made righteous, just as those in Adam are truly made sinners. The forensic is the basis for the transformative, but the one cannot be sundered from the other. Those who are the recipients of the ministry of the Spirit have also been transformed by the ministry of righteousness (2 Cor. 3:8-9). Just as those who are condemned are actually guilty, so too those who are vindicated on the basis of the cross of Christ and his atonement for sinners (Rom. 3:21-26) have also been made righteous by God's gracious work (cf. Rom. 14:17). God's forensic declaration is effective because the Lord who was crucified on behalf of sinners was also raised from the dead (Rom. 4:25), and thus sinners live in a new way (Rom. 6:4)."

So I think Tom Schreiner had it right the first time around! But that's another story. But the panel discussion was worth listening to and goes for about 60 minutes.

Update: See Cel Joseph's review as well.

Michael Gorman - Inhabiting the Cruciform God

Over at Cross-Talk, Michael Gorman provides a three-part summary of his new book Inhabiting the Cruciform God (see the sidebar on the right). See here for part 1, part 2, part 3.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Review of N.T. Wright's new book at SBTS

My good buddy Denny Burke managed to bring together some evangelical luminaries (who forunately all teach in the same place) to have a panel discussion on N.T. Wright's new book on Justification and Paul. It features Tom Schreiner, Mark Seifrid, and Brian Vickers. Jim Hamiilton has access to the post here and it is linked to audio of the discussion. I haven't listened to it myself yet, but hopefully will tomorrow night with a nice glass of veno.

More SROG reviews

Over at Text, Community, and Mission there is going to be (yet another) review of Saving Righteousness of God this time by Daniel Doleys. Incidentally, a more ambivalent review of the book is available in the latest issue of WTJ by Ben Dunson a Ph.D student at Durham.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Gal. 3.13-14 and 4.5-6

I've noticed that in Galatians 3.13-14 Paul is addressing the salvation of Gentile Christians, but in 4.5-6 he's principally addressing the salvation of Jewish Christians. Gal. 3.13-14 is clearly about Gentiles, but 4.5-6 is probably about Jewish believers since it refers to "those under the law". Note the pattern:

Redemption (3.13) // Redemption (4.5)
blessing/Spirit (3.14) // sonship/Spirit (4.6)

Paul is drawing a parity between the futility of Gentiles going to the Law since Jewish Christians themselves have been redeemed while/from being under the Law. In both cases, the blessings of the Spirit and the full attainment of sonship does not come from the Law according to Paul.. Importantlyly, with you "you" of v. 7, Paul applies this Jewish situation to his Gentile readers. Even though they were not "under the Law" they can now be sons rather than slaves.

Peter Leithart on Abraham

Peter Leithart has a good little post on Abraham as prophet, priest, and king, worth a quick read.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Rod Liddle on the COE

I confess that I've never much liked British journalist Rod Liddle as his brand of bolshie british liberalism is not my cup of tea. It was all the more amazing to see him singing the praises of traditional Anglicanism in the COE over and against its religious pluralist leaders who have capitulated to political correctness. Read the article here.

The blurb reads: "Rod Liddle offers an Easter message to the leaders of the Church, who have ditched its traditions and reduced it to a sort of superannuated ad-hoc branch of social services. It has lost all sense of mission and direction. Whatever happened to muscular Christianity?"

I liked this quote from Liddle in particular: "I should come clean, here: the Church of England’s historic commitment to tradition mediated by a rational appraisal of modernity is what attracts me to its rapidly evolving catechism. But in the last few years it seems to have chucked out the tradition bit — the rock upon which it is based — entirely. Under Rowan Williams particularly, it seems to have swallowed whole every convenient shibboleth of modern liberalism, every transient political fashion — just as have, by the way, our judiciary, our social services, our education departments. It has become an institution which is more politically correct even than our government; you look to it for moral leadership and it offers none whatsoever."

HT: Jason Hood

Monday, April 13, 2009

Michael Horton on the Marks of the Church

I'm currently reading through Michael Horton's People and Place: A Covenant Ecclesiology, and this quote caught my eye:

"The word that is preached, taught, sung, and prayed, along with baptism and Eucharist, not only prepares us for mission; it also is itself the missionary event, as visitors are able to hear and see the gospel that communicates and the communion that it generates. To the extent that the marks define the mission and the mission justifies the marks, the church fulfills its apostolic identity." (p. 256).

Christian Prophets and the Jesus Tradition

Rudolf Bultmann (History of the Synoptic Tradition, 127-28): “The Church drew no distinction between such utterances by Christian prophets and the sayings of Jesus in the tradition, for the reason that even the dominical sayings in the tradition were not the pronouncements of a past authority, but the sayings of the risen Lord, who is always a contemporary for the Church.” (See more recently, M. Eugene Boring, The Continuing Voice of Jesus: Christian Prophecy and the Gospel Tradition [Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster/John Knox, 1991]; Dale C. Allison, Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian Prophet [Minneapolis: Fortress, 1998], 7-10). Thus it is possible that a Christian prophet speaking on behalf of Jesus in the first person may have said something that was now attributable to Jesus, but later projected into Jesus' pre-Easter ministry and given a historical setting. (Incidentally, I am amazed as to why all modern Pentecostal prophets always prophesy in Kings James English! I once visited a Pentecostal church in Townsville where a guy kept speaking on behalf of Jesus with the words, "Yea, I say unto thee" which prefaced every sentence, and after 10 minutes it was rather monotonous).

The best example of this actually comes from Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ during the journey to Golgotha. Do you remember the part where Jesus says to his mother, "Behold, I make all things new"? Well that saying is not found in the Gospels, but it is found Rev. 21.5 as part of the vision narrated by John the Seer. This is the exact kind of phenomenon that Bultmann and others envisaged of how a prophetic utterance was assimilated into the Gospel tradition.

While this phenomenon is possible, I'm quite sceptical whether it actually occured the way that Bultmann and Boring describe. I too a brief dig at this view in an article in WTJ some time ago. My main arguments are that: (1) Luke is always careful to name the prophet to which a prophetic word originated from; (2) in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul clearly distinguishes between "words" of the Lord and his own inspired utterances; (3) there was a healthy degree of scepticism about prophecy in the early church as well (e.g 1 Thess 5.21).

My good buddy Michael Barber has two posts on this issue (part 1 and part 2) which I recommend for those who want more info.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

N.T. Wright - Stop Trivializing Easter

Over at the Times Online, the good bish of Durham has an excellent article about Easter faith entitled, "The Church must stop Trivialising Easter".

Here's the final quote:

The world wants to hush up the real meaning of Easter. Death is the final weapon of the tyrant or, for that matter, the anarchist, and resurrection indicates that this weapon doesn't have the last word. When the Church begins to work with Easter energy on the twin tasks of justice and beauty, we may find that it can face down the sneers of sceptics, and speak once more of Jesus in a way that will be heard.

You have to love this stuff!

Lynn Cohick: Resurrection in Ephesians

Over at Koinonia, Lynn Cohick has a great post on resurrection in Ephesians- do check it out!

Incidentally, Lynn is writing a commentary on Ephesians for the New Covenant Commentary Series which is due out around mid-2011 and that will also be a good read.

Friday, April 10, 2009

My Top Three Easter Sunday Songs

1. Don Francisco, "He's Alive", the Don is a brilliant story teller through song and this song is a classic itself.

2. Petra, "The Grave Robber", a great Christian band (for those of us old enough to remember), singing an excellent song on the resurrection of Christ and his grave emptying parousia.

3. Acappella, "Arise My Love", the chorus of this song is what I sing to my girls when I wake them up in the morning. This is my absolute favourite Easter sunday song. A good version is also sung by the group New Song.

He is risen, he is risen indeed!

Good Friday Meditation on Hebrews 2: Jesus and Tabasco Sauce

Being a parent is hard, esp. when it comes to disciplining your children. I don't enjoy disciplining them when they are bad, but you have to do it if they are to learn right from wrong and if they are to learn self-discipline. When my kids lie, maliciously lie that is, I have a particuar punishment that I use: tabasco sauce. Some no doubt would call this excessive, but it works. After a lie has been found out, I sit my daughter down, we chat about the lie and its effects, then I pull out the dreaded tabasco sauce. Next thing I do is put big shot of tobasco sauce on a spoon and then I taste the spoon before her. I then get another spoon and put a few tiny drops on it and give it to my daughter who swallows it and usually starts crying. She then gets to drink a big glass of water with some ice to take the taste away. Justice has been served and order restored. And, for what it's worthy, my kids lie very seldomly and this is a great deterrent. You might ask, why do I taste the tabasco sauce before I dish out the sauce to my daughter? The answer is, so she knows that I'm not inflicting on her a punishment that is unbearable or something that I would not go through myself. The next question, what does this have to do with Jesus? I think Hebrews provides an answer:

Hebrews 2.9: "But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone." (ESV).

As it were, Jesus tastes the tabasco sauce of death for us. He takes away its burning pain so that none is left to harm us. We must still taste death due to our participation in Adam, but because of our participation in Christ, the sting of death has been taken away and the tabasco sauce of human mortality no longer burns away the fabric of our existence! The God who inflicted death on his creation for its rebellion against him (see Genesis 5), did so knowing that he would take the full brunt of death on himself, through his only begotten Son.

Yes, I know all analogies break down at some point (that is why they are analogies), but my Easter thought for this Good Friday is that Jesus tasted death for us. Even though we must also taste death ourselves, because of his sacrifice we do not experience death in the same way, that of seperation from God and seperation from life. Rather, it through Jesus' death that the sons and daughters of God are brought to glory. If we are not ashamed to call him Lord, then he is not ashamed to call us his brothers and sisters.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Gospel Audiences: Martin Hengel

Over at NTGeek, Greg Carey has a post on The Gospels: For All Christians? where he briefly critiques Bauckham's argument that the Gospels were not intended exclusively for isolated and introspective communities belonging to the Evangelistgs. Many have criticised Bauckham for this argument (e.g. Phil Esler, David Sim, Margaret Mitchell, and Thomas Kazen) and I've defended him in two articles in Journal of Theological Studies and European Journal of Theology (I should also mention that Micky Klink is editing a book in the LNTS monograph series as a follow up to Bauckham's work on the Gospels and it should be out next year). I think Bauckham is a bit misrepresented. He doesn't deny that the Gospels were influenced by the ecclesial situation that the Evangelists faced and that the Gospels were initially distributed and utilised among the Evangelist's own circle. What he does argue is that the respective Gospels were not intended exclusively for use in their own "community" and they are not simply mirrors of the disputes of a Matthean, Marcan, Lucan, and Johannine community. The Gospels were writen for as many Christians that might read them.

In reading over Martin Hengel's book on The Four Gospel and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ, I was highly amused by this quote:

"Therefore nothing has led research into the Gospels so astray as the romantic superstition involving anonymous theologially creative community collectives, which are supposed to have drafted whole writings."

In other words, the Gospels are not simply the products of hypothetical (or fictitious?) groupings known as Gospel communities.

That's My King!

Back in Australia I remember hearing a short and funky sermonette by S.M. Lockeridge that featured some hip-hip music in the background that was played on a Christian Radio station. Over at Between Two Worlds, the sermon is up with a you-tube clip to view.

Forthcoming Tyndale House Events

The folk at Tyndale House have a good series of events planned this summer including:

1. The Bible and recent discoveries
Saturday 25 April 2009 at Tyndale House, Cambridge
Dr Martin Heide, University of Marburg
We live in an age when many discoveries are being made and when sensational and misleading claims about what has been discovered catch the public eye. This day conference with a leading expert, well experienced in evaluating and explaining discoveries for lay audiences, will seek to equip Christians to understand the historical basis of the Christian faith and to share that with others. Alongside a long involvement in church leadership in southern Germany, Dr. Heide has two doctorates in Semitic studies. He has published previously unknown material in Arabic, Ethiopic, and Hebrew, and carries out research in a large range of ancient languages.

10.30-12.15, The Old Testament and recent discoveries I
12.15-13.15, lunch (lunch provided for all who send booking with payment by 18 April)
13.15-14.45, The Old Testament and recent discoveries II
14.45-15.15, tea
15.15-17.00, The New Testament and recent discoveries

2. Responding to Secularism: Christian Witness in a Dogmatic Public Culture
Friday 24th April 2009, 10.00am – 5.00pm, Tyndale House, Cambridge
.. TRACING secularism from its origins to current developments
.. DEFINING the secularist worldview and its depiction of religion
.. ENGAGING secularist public policies and polemicsBoldSPEAKERS: John Stackhouse (Regent College, Vancouver), Elaine Storkey (Tearfund), Andrew Kirk (formerly University of Birmingham), Dominic Erdozain (King’s College London). This event is organised by The Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics and The Gospel & Our Culture Network.

3. The John Wenham Lecture 2009: “The Perspicuity of Scripture”
Dr Wayne Grudem, Research Professor of Theology & Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary. 7.30 pm, Wednesday 8th July 2009, Lady Mitchell Hall, Cambridge. This event is organised by Theology For All.

RBL Reviews

Out of the latest cohort of RBL reviews I draw to your attention:

Justin K. Hardin
Galatians and the Imperial Cult: A Critical Analysis of the First-Century Social Context of Paul's Letter
Reviewed by Wilhelm Pratscher

Daniel M. Gurtner and John Nolland, eds.
Built upon the Rock: Studies in the Gospel of Matthew
Reviewed by J. Christopher Edwards

Ephraim Radner
Reviewed by Leigh Trevaskis

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Michael Ruse: Making Room for Faith in an Age of Science

Greg Clark of the Centre for Public Christianity, interviewed Atheist professor and Scientist Michael Ruse about his forthcoming book which is about making room for faith in an age of Science. The article is available at ABC News (= Australian Broadcast Corporation for you yanks!).

Martin Hengel on the NT Text in the Second Century

Over at ETC, I've posted on Martin Hengel's comments about the NT text in the second century.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Sumney on the Church/Empire Tension

In his recent Colossians commentary in the NTL series, J.L. Sumney has a lengthy excursus on the household code of Col. 3.18-4.1. On the place of Christians in the Graeco-Roman world, Sumney states this (p. 236):

"To sustain its existence, the church not only needed to oppose the justifications that Rome espoused for its claims to bring peace and security to the world; it also required a competing metanarrative. A metanarrative is an account given to make sense of the world. Such accounts include stories that explain why the world works as it does and why its adherents are in the place they find themselves. Rome's metanarrative included claims that the gods had placed the Romans over the world for the good of the world (Rest gest. 12-13; Appian, Bel. Civ. 5.123). Thus, those who oppose Rome oppose the will of the gods.

The church's competing metanarrative must explain how it can be a socially marginalized and sometimes persecuted group if they are truly the 'people of God' who have come to understand the will of God. The story of Christ's death and resurrection serves this purpose, for it recalls that the exaltation of Jesus comes only after his suffering at the hands of those in power. This becomes a paradigm for the church's worldview, a central element of its metanarrative. Just as the powers of the world opposed Jesus, they now oppose people who believe in him. Though Christ defeated those powers through his crucifixion and resurrection (as Colossians proclaims in 1:15-20 and elsewhere), they refuse to acknowledge their defeat. Thus, in their refusal, those powers sustain the structures of the world that oppose God and God's peole. So the church must exist in a setting that involves confrontation with both culture and empire.

The place in which the members of the first-century church find themselves in relation to the empire and the surrounding culture, combined with this counter-metanarrative, makes some of the insights of postcolonial reading useful for interpreting the New Testament, particularly the household code. Rejecting the metanarrative of the dominant power is central to the resistance oppressed or dominated people offer (Horsley 2003: 93). When Colossians advocates an alternative account of the cosmos, that account will influence the way its readers understand themselves and their lives. Wilson (244) shows that ethical exhortation in the ancient setting strove to give its hearers a conceptual framework that made sense of the thought behind the instructions. This insight encourages us to examine the way in which Colossians' ethical instruction, including the household code, enable readers to make sense of the letter's claims about Christ's sovereignty."

Monday, April 06, 2009

HTC gets new Principal

Highland Theological College UHI appoints new Principal


Following a search and selection process, the Board of Governors of Highland Theological College UHI has unanimously approved the appointment of Acting Principal Hector Morrison as Principal of the College, with immediate effect.

In an announcement to staff today, Chairman of the Board of Governors, the Reverend Alexander Murray, said, “Always passionate about theological education, Hector is committed to wanting the best for his students. He has a very clear vision for the future of HTC as an independent constituent college in its role within the UHI network. In the best sense of the term, Hector is a ‘godly’ person and minister and, as a capable academic, theologian and leader, has a wealth of experience to bring to the role of Principal. We look forward to working with Hector as he leads HTC forward to meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”

Hector gained the degrees of BSc, BD and MTh from Glasgow University. He is a Church of Scotland minister, having worked in parishes in Glasgow, the Western Isles and Lochalsh. Along with the Reverend Professor Andrew McGowan, he founded Highland Theological College and has been its Vice Principal since its inception in 1994. With research interests particularly in the discipline of Biblical Studies, most of his teaching concentrates on Old Testament and Hebrew. As well as his teaching commitments, Hector has been a key figure within the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences faculty of UHI. He is Subject Network Leader in Theology & Religious Studies for UHI and also has responsibilities for Academic Management, Quality Assurance and Enhancement and Subject Reviews, amongst other things.

Hector has been Acting Principal at HTC since the former Principal, Andrew McGowan, left in January to become minister of the East Church in Inverness

Sunday, April 05, 2009

German Commentaries on the New Testament

Here's a question for you Neuetestamentlichers. I would like to make a list of the best scholarly New Testament commentaries in German currently available. Could I please request that you make suggestions and especially those of you who are Continental readers. 

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Friday is for Ad Fontes: Hellenistic Synagogal Prayers

I've recently been reading over the collection of Hellenistic Synagogal Prayers (James H. Charlesworth OTP 2.671-97). These prayers are taken from Books Seven and Eight of the Apostolic Constitutions and it is often argued that they are Jewish prayers with Christian interpolations. D.A. Fiensy (following Kohler, Bousset, and Goodenough) regards these prayers as reflecting a Jewish origin and he supposes that they "seem Jewish because of what they fail to say", there is "often very little peculiarly Christian content", and the Christian elements appear loosely connected to the context. Thus, there is a reasonable argument in favor of Jewish authorship for some of the prayers.

However, the argument for silence is not convincing as Hebrews 11 quotes a stack of Jewish heroes with no reference to Christ either, Christian authors could replicate or rehearse Old Testament patterns since it was part of their sacred literature, and I would contest whether the obvious Christian elements are interpolations when they seem organic to the whole. I don't see any reason why these prayers could not have been produced by a Christian with a Jewish background or else by a Christian immersed in the Psalms.

Prayer 1 (AposCon 7.26-1-3) reads:

Then after communion, you shall give thanks in this way:
We give thanks to you, O God and Father of Jesus our Savior
on behalf of your holy name which you caused to encamp among us,
and on behalf of the knowledge and faith adn love and immortality which you gave to us through Jesus your Son.
O Master Almighty, the God of the universe.
you created the world and what is in it through him
and you planted deeply in our souls a law;
and you prepared for me in the things (necessary) for communion;
(you are) the God of the holy and blameless ones, our fathers Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, your faithful servantts;
the power God, the faithful and true One, without falsehood in your promises;
the One who sent forth upon earth Jesus your Christ, to live together with me as a man, being divine Word and Man, radically to destroy error.
(trans. D.R. Darnell).

Italicised parts are the elements that Darnell regards as Christian interpolations. Strangely, line verse 2 which states that God's holy name came to "encamp among us" clearly echoes John 1:14 and is not regarded as an interpolation or gloss.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Salvation and "Paul's Judaism"

When I say "Paul's Judaism" do you think of (a) the Judaism known to Paul, or (b) Paul's own beliefs and practices as an expression within Judaism? It is an interesting question and it was Mark Nanos who inspired the thought in me and I've been musing on this subject for a while now. Along with Mark and several others, I'm down to speak at a conference in Leuven, Belgium on New Perspectives on Paul and the Jews and I've finally completed my paper for that event. I've attached a draft here. Comments welcomed below.

A New Creation

In the song "What About Me?" there is a line, "Now we're standin' on the corner of a world gone home. Nobody's changed, nobody's been saved. And I'm feelin' cold and alone." Many look at this world and conclude that it is anything but redeemed or renewed since the sufferings and miseries of humanity continue unabated. Yet the experience of Christians runs contrary to this, for they believe that God's new creation has burst upon the world proleptically in the resurrection of Christ and in their own sharing in the gift of the Holy Spirit. For me, I know that I am not the same person I was before receiving Christ. There is the sense that I feel as if I am partly dead and partly reborn in a world that is gradually fading away and yet anxiously awaiting to be recreated. On 2 Cor. 5.17 we have a world that is passing away and is at the same time being made new as the Creator's plan to repossess the world for himself ebbs closer and closer. What is more, Christians eagerly look forward to the fulfilment of the exalted Christ's promise in Rev. 21.5, "Behold, I make all things new".

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Zondervan Interviews

Thanks to Art who provides video clips from Zondervan with interviews from Gordon Fee, Peter Enns, and John Walton about books that have influenced them. I found it interesting that Fee that counts N.T. Wright as among his favourite authors!

Tony Thiselton Reviews Joseph Fitzmyer's New Commentary

Over at RBL, Anthony Thiselton reviews Joseph Fitzmyer's new 1 Corinthians commentary in the Anchor Bible series.

The next major 1 Corinthians commentaries to look forward to will be Andrew Clark in the WBC and Bruce Winter in the NCCS.

Back from SCH

I just got back from Scottish Churches House in Dunblane. It is a lovely ecumenical centre in the heart of historic Dunblane, opposite a Church of Scotland Cathedral, and not far from Stirling castle. It is an ideal retreat for small groups or a good study retreat and conveniently located between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

At the "Grasping Nettles Session" moderated by Liz Templeton, Helen Bond (Edinburgh Uni) and I discussed the topic "The Bible: Literal Truth or Metaphor". The first part was about the Gospels generally and Helen and I pretty much agreed that the Gospels include history and interpretation interweaved throughout. Although I took the more Bauckhamesque line of seeing eyewitnesses involved in creating and (to a degree) controlling the transmission of the tradition beneath the Gospels. In the second part, we briefly discussed the passion narratives and while we agreed on the basic historical outline (arrest, Jewish hearing, Roman trial, execution) we took slightly different slants on the history of the specific details. I, for instance, argued for the authenticity of Mk. 14.62 since (1) I don't think Jesus was the first one to link Daniel 7 and Psalm 110 in a messianic testimonium and the blasphemy charge is similar to what Rabbi Akiba was accused of when he said that the plural of "thrones" in Dan. 7.9 refers to one throne for the messiah and another throne for Yahweh, so Mk. 14.62 is not necessarily a Christian retrojection and it is plausible in a purely Jewish context; and (2) Jesus' words in the verse (or something very much like it) makes sense of the wider narrative to me which shifts naturally from an allegation about speaking against the temple, to a messianic question, to Jesus' affirmation of his status, which in turn led to the decision to hand him over to the Romans. Still, Helen did raise a good question as to what sources we have for the trial narratives as we have to ask whether any of Jesus' followers really knew what transpired at the trial itself (though on this see James Dunn, Jesus Remembered). It was a great little discussion and we finished up with a good exchange over the resurrection. It was a very nice audience, some probing questions were asked, I've never met so many Quakers before, and Helen is a very engaging speaker (incidentally she has a T&T Clark book on Jesus coming out in the distant future The Historical Jesus: A Guide for the Perplexed and she's giving one of the main papers at BNTC this year). My daughter Alexis was also dying to know if Helen was married to a guy called "James".

My family and I stayed at SCH that night which was refreshing, I wish I was staying on at SCH that day because they had a really great session on "The Bible - Transcending Division" which included a seminar panel consisting of a Russian orthodox priest, a Church of Scotland Minister, an Episcopalian, and a Catholic Priest all discussing the role of Scripture in their tradition. I would have enjoyed that discussion. That morning I had a very pleasant surprise when I bumped into none other than Dr. Mark Elliott (St. Andrews Uni) and Dr. Allison Jack (Edinburgh Uni) in the High Street of Dunblane. We had coffee there and then they took me to Leighton Library which is a small library left by the former bishop of Dunblane Robert Leighton (1611-84) which had some very rare and very old books. I noticed that on the shelves were accounts about the Council of Ephesus (451). Then later on I had the pleasure of having lunch with Nick Batzig and his wife Anna who were in town for a Jonathan Edwards conference and it was good to meet one of the young rising stars in the PCA.