Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Congrats Alexis Jayne Bird

My daughter, Alexis, has succeeded in memorizing Colossians 1:15-20! Well done to my gorgeous little princess.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

More on the Jesus Creed

I'm preparing my devotional for chapel tomorrow and I'm basing the talk (indeed a whole series) on studies from Jesus Creed.

In Mark 12.28-34, I was initially struck by the co-location of the shema of Dt. 6.4-5 and the commandment in Lev. 19.18 which look alot like a form of "prophetic criticism" (see works by James Sanders and Craig Evans on this). In prophetic criticism, competing interpretations of scripture are undermined, not by forcing a new interpretation onto the same text, but taking a disputed text and combining it with another text so as to produce a whole new meaning through the creative juxtaposition of two biblical passages. A further example would be Luke 4.16-30 where Luke depicts Jesus as combining Isa. 61.1-2 with the Elijah and Elisha narratives giving a whole new interpretation to the issue of the identity of the people of God and God's relationship to those normally regarded being outside the covenantal relationship.

Getting back to Mark 12.28-34, Jesus redines what it means to be loyal to Israel's God and how to live obediently as the renewed Israel. As Mcknight suggests, loving God meant living Torah, but Jesus' prophetic criticism shows that living Torah also means loving others.

Wright also makes a good point in his Mark for Everyone Commentary, do Christian churches look like a community fixated on loving others? Are Christians concerned or content merely in saving their own souls/hides from the flames of eternal torment; or are they concerned with loving God and loving others as Jesus suggests and making that a manifesto for their lives?

Women and a Synagogue Prayer

I came across an interesting quote about women in the church on the NT Wright page from a paper entitled, "Women’s Service in the Church: The Biblical Basis"

Remember the synagogue prayer in which the man who prays thanks God that he has not made him a Gentile, a slave or a woman – at which point the women in the congregation would [thank] God ‘that you have made me according to your will’. I think Paul is deliberately marking out the family of Abraham reformed in the Messiah as a people who cannot pray that prayer, since within this family these distinctions are now irrelevant.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The New Perspective

The New Perspective on Paul remains a hot topic of contention in Reformed-Evangelical circles these days and NT Wright in particular comes under a lot of criticism. One the best reviews of the debate about Wright’s orthodoxy comes from Doug Green of Westminster Theological Seminary who gives a balanced appreciation and critique of Wright’s views here.

Friday, November 25, 2005

New Sites and Associations

I would like to point out a couple of websites that have just come to my attention.

First, Jim Hamilton at Antiphon points out that Tom Schreiner’s webpage is full of several of his articles and book reviews. I quite like Schreiner’s Pauline theology book, especially his section on how he abandoned transformative justification for a forensic model.

Second, for the Textual Critical buffs out there, Wieland Willker has a fairly interesting and thorough site on various ms (one of the PDF files is over 400 pages long!!!). The site is called An Online Textual Commentary on the Greek Gospels.

Third, I have added the New Testament Society of South Africa to my side-bar to give the list a more international field (yes, there are biblical studies groups outside North America).


Fourth, there is Justin Jenkins of Pisteuo who hails from California (he must know Brandon Wason at Novum Testamentum since California is such a small place)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Jesus Creed

It pains me to say, but I have only now just started reading Scot McKnight's Jesus Creed. Truth be told, I have never liked devotional books much, I find them too light and fluffy, kinda like some American fastfood outlets (esp. that infernal McGridle - I mean really, who puts a pancake in breakky burger!). But Jesus Creed is both intellectually engaging and spiritually moving - a rare trait in books. Makes me wish that more Historical Jesus scholars would try write popular and devotional works (to his credit Wright does it a bit and I think Mark Alan Powell has a similar project coming out soon).

In the opening two chapters what struck me hardest was the idea of reciting the Jesus Creed at the start of a lesson, and finishing off with the Lord's Prayer at the end. Although the Paulinist in me wants to interject 1 Cor 8.6 as a christocized shema in there somewhere too (maybe during the coffee break). If I can arouse enough interest, I may try start up a study group at college to go through chapters one week at a time every Friday at lunch time. Hmmm, we'll see how we go.

Forthcoming Commentaries

Do you ever wish you knew what commentaries were coming out in the various series and who the authors were? Well my commentary intelligence network reports the following:

Robert L. Webb, 2 Peter and Jude (NICNT)

Scot McKnight, James (NICNT)

R.T. France, The Gospel of Matthew (NICNT)

Rikki Watts, The Gospel of Mark (NICNT)

James Dunn, The Gospel of Mark (ICC)

Richard Bauckham, The Gospel of Luke (ICC)

John McHugh, Gospel of John (ICC)

E. Earle Ellis, 1 Corinthians (ICC)

Graham Stanton, Galatians (ICC)

Karl Donfried, 1 & 2 Thessalonians (ICC)

Loveday Alexander, Hebrews (ICC)

David Horrell, 1 Peter (ICC)

Dale C. Allison, James (ICC)

D. moody Smith, Johannine Epistles (ICC)

Stanley E. Porter, Book of Acts (NIGTC)

D.A. Carson, Johannine Epistles (NIGTC)

Steven Walton, Book of Acts (WBC)

Craig A. Evans, Matthew (Cambridge Commentaries)

Gregory K. Beale, Colossians (BECNT)

D.A. Carson, Hebrews (BECNT)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Highlights of SBL

What were the highlights of SBL for me?

(1) Most of all it was meeting people who have been central in my work in the last three years: Bob Webb and Scot McKnight. Bob's advice was crucial to me in the final stages of my thesis and he also helped me get over the line with a few journal articles I did for JSHJ. Scot was very generous and encouraging to me along the way and was instrumental in getting me over the examination line. Joel Willitts was also good to seen in the flesh.

(2) Meeting all the bloggers was great too: Stephen Carlson, Mark Goodacre, Joe Cathy, Jim "Zwingli rocks" West, Brandon Wason, Alan Bandy, James Crossley, Michael Pahl, et al.

(3) The book stalls: I thought ETS was great and then I saw the awesome stalls at SBL. It was the El Dorado of biblical studies books. I remember walking in and thinking: "Wow, the legends are true!" And the extra discounts at T&T Clark on the last day. Here is the list of the books I bought:

Howard Clark Kee, The Beginnings of Christianity

D.A. Carson, et. al. Justification and Variegated Nomism vol. 2.

James Crossley, The Date of Mark's Gospel

Richard A. Horsley, ed. Christians Origins

E.P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism

Charles Talbert, Romans

Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianity's

Peter Enns, Incarnation and Inspiration

Markus Bockmuehl, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Jesus

D.A. Campbell, The Quest for Paul's Gospel

Markus Bockmuehl, ed. The Written Gospel

Markus Bockmuehl, This Jesus

Alexander Wedderburn, A History of hte First Christians

Martin Hengel, Four Gospels, One Jesus

George Nickelsburg, Ancient Judaism and Christians Origins

(4) Meeting many Australian scholars who are part of the Aussie biblical studies Diaspora like Doug Green, Bruce Winter, and Rikki Watts.

(5) The session on the Authority of the Bible with Crossan, Martin, Wright and Ehrman. One of the first books I'm gonna read in the near future is Bruce Metzger's gem on textual criticism and the recent summary of research by Eckhard Schnabel. I need to get more serious about staying up to date on TC matters.

Last Day at SBL

The Pauline soteriological group had a good session of Israel and supersession. Was Paul a supersessionist?

Bruce Longenecker presented a good paper that included a taxonomy of various types of supersession. The controversial aspect was whether those who advocate a two covenant view of salvation (one for Jews and another for Gentiles) represent a form of soft supersession since they critique Israel's failure to embrace the Gentile mission.

The strength's of Longenecker's proposal were: (a) Paul believed that Israel had a soteriological deficit and not merely opposition to the Gentile mission; (b) Paul's supersession is part of an indigenized Judaic supersession; (c) Gal. 2.9 implies that there was a gospel for the uncircumcized; (d) Paul's concern for the poor shows his compassion for Israel (Longenecker is writing a book on this later theme).

Douglas Harink argues that the role of Israel is neither here nor there for Paul. The centre of Paul's theology is its apocalyptic dimension and the defeat of the old age through the death of Christ. The messianic community (church) is not a replacement of Israel, but a symbol of the new creation to come; in one sense the new community will be replaced by the new creation.

I will now elaborate on Dunn's response to Bailey:

(1) Bailey overstates his case by saying that 90% of words were preserved in a given account.
(2) Weeden applied Bailey's theory "too woodenly" (Dunn's words) and the informal controlled tradition has no exact and concise criteria.
(3) Contrary to Weeden's supposition of Bailey's anecdotal evidence, the parallel stories actually reads like two juxtaposed versions of the Synoptics.
(4) At the end of the day the versions Weeden offers, whatever their differences, are still the same fundamental story.
(5) Weeden assumes that the stories have an original version upon which to be compared with R. Hogg's stories. Yet if the story was performed several times there can be no talk of an original.

I would add:

(6) Even if all of Bailey's examples are not good examples of "informal controlled oral tradition", Bailey's model is still intuitively compelling.
(7) I would add that the absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence - since all it would take is some young anthropologist to go to the woopimanagooey tribe of New Zealand and discover a tribe that transmits its traditions analagous to Bailey's model.

Monday, November 21, 2005

SBL Again

To those who mocked my TC Heresy of writing a commentary on a single text type I say unto ye: "Ha!". I just heard Stan Porter say the exact same thing on a panel discussion on the Book of Acts!!! Yes, Michael Pahl, I'm talking about you! Maybe my idea for a commentary series based on reception and transmission of mss will one day come to fruition. Actually, it was a good discussion by five very different commentators: Loveday Alexander (history), Joel Green (history is overrated), Beverly Gaventa (Acts is about God), Robert Wall (left before it started) and Stanley Porter. Porter is also going to write the Acts commentary in the NIGTC series. Two things about Porter to note: (1) I have a terrible habit of disagreeing with him lately on matters such as the use of Greek as a criterion of authenticity in historical Jesus research and his critique of "Third Quest" for the historical Jesus. (2) I secretly harbour the ambition to equal or suprass the size of his publication lists in the ETS and IBR newsletters.

The Historical Jesus seminar had as its highlight Thomas Weeden's critique of Kenneth Bailey's idea of "informal and controlled" oral tradition. James Dunn made a good response in defense of Bailey. And for those interested, you can check out my two cents towards the debate in recent articles in WTJ and BBR. I think Bailey gives us a model much better than Homeric epics, slightly better than Gerhardsson's rabbinic models, and a lot better than Kelber's written vs. oral hermeneutics of transmission.

Lastly, I went to the rhetorical criticism section and enjoyed I. Howard Marshall's paper on the structure of the Pastoral Epistles.

I also bought some new shoes since my other one's disintegrated. Having to throw my shoes away was a hard experience, since they were the parade shoes I was issued when I joined the Army 13 yrs ago - it was the end of an era in footwear and all the more significant since I buy a pair of dress shoes about once every decade. If only women were like that hey!!! I'm gonna copy nasty comments for that one!

Tomorrow or the next day I will blog on what books I bought ($200 US were spent all up - oh forgive me my darling wife!).

Sunday, November 20, 2005

SBL continued

Today included breaky at Dunk'n'Donuts which was packed with most of Philadelphia's police force.

First session this morning was the bibliobloggers with papers from Jim Davilla and Rick Brannan - pretty good session about the pros and cons of blogging; and something about women not being involved due to some apparent moat created by naming the community bibliobloggers (don't ask, I don't understand it myself).

Next session was Mapping Memory with Horsley, Kelber and Thatcher - not bad. I agree that the old Form Criticism stuff needs to be throne out, but I'm waiting to see the value of the stuff to come for "social memory theory".

Something I've failed to mention is that I've spent some time with Brandon Wason lately (good young guy) which has been good; and also met Michael Pahl. I had lunch with Bob and Pat Webb. Later on I had drinkies with Joel Willitts and James Crossley, and James and I are planning on getting our own TV show on the BBC: Bird, Crossley and the Question of God.

Later on was the Hendrickson and Scottish Uni's reception which were great and I met a whole heap of scholars like Bruce Longenecker and Paul Forster.

Tomorrow is the Acts session; and apparently Stan Porter is writing in the NIGTC volume on the Book of Acts. Must buy shoes, postcards and presents for my wife and kids.

So many guys have their wives here (like Bob Webb with Pat) and I wish my wife was here too!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

More on SBL Day 2

Additionally greetings include meeting Don Garlington (Toronto), Steven Walton (LBC) and, Doug Green (WTJ), and Joel Williams (Columbia).

A highlight of the arvo was the NT textual criticism seminar on Biblical Authority that was packed - it had Crossan, Wright, Ehrman and Dale Martin.

There were alot of good one liner's (too many to remember). I felt the weight of Ehrman's case that the diversity of manuscripts and intra-canonical textual diversity makes any notion of authority problematic. I don't agree with him though - I never ceased to be amazed how scholars think that just because Lk and Matt change Mk at times that they must have repudiated his entire work - it just does not follow. Lk and Matt follow Mk's outline, sometimes follow him word for word, they expand his material where his interests meets theirs. They modify, polish, tone down at times, but I don't think they repudiate his work or try to replace it - if they do, they do a poor job of it. Martin's paper was like King David: started well, but ended poorly. Martin sounds like a postmodern neo-Barthian theologian who wants to drive a wedge between history and theology. Crossan was okay, but I don't think he said anything new. Wright set forth a good case for the authority of Scripture being God and God expressing himself a story which carries (in some way) God's authority.

ETS and SBL Part 3

Well, the less said about my ETS paper on "Is there anything distinctive on the 3rd Quest for the Historical Jesus" the better. Sadly, I was competing with Richard Hays and James Dunn in parallel sessions and it seems that I did not have the draw power to attract the masses. When I first started talking there were only two people in the room - me and the moderator! I was just about to abandon the effort when four guys walked in, so I at least had some audience. But doing the last session on the last day, up against big name presenters, is something I don't want to do again!!!

And I have learnt that SBL is big and I mean BIG - we ain't in Brisbane anymore tot.

The Friday night IBR session was really good, with great presentations of OT ethics by Gordon Wenham and Chris Wright. I also got to meet Bob Webb, whom I am indebted to on several fronts and Doug Green.

To be honest, as this is my first ETS/SBL, I have learnt that the papers are probably the boring or mundane part. It is the networking and conversations that are great. So far I've been able to greet the following guys:

Alan Streett (Criswell), Graham Twelftree (Regent), James Dunn (Durham), Richard Longenecker (Toronto), Echard Schnabel (TEDS), Steven Walton (LBC), and David DeSilva (Ashland - who was apologetic that several of his chapters in his NT introduction were upside down). Also, Charles Talbert signed my Romans commentary that I got real real real cheap. Instead of $50 it was $16!

After being in the exhibit hall for ten minutes I met none other than Count Dooku himself (i.e. James Crossley) who was dressed, no surprise, in black. It was good to meet him and James is a great guy if you can understand him beneath that convoluted pommy accent.

I went to a historical Jesus seminar this morning on Robert Miller's Book Jesus at Thirty, which to be frank does not sound like a good book. Anyone who thinks that they can map Jesus' psych profile is just kidding themselves and Miller's take on the origins of the birth narratives was unconvincing.

This afternoon I attended Kloppenborg's assessment of the Jesus traditions in the epistle of James which wasn't bad.

I saw alot of books that Ben Myers of Faith and Theology would like:

- Douglad Groothius, In Defense of Natural Theology (well, Ben might not like it, but he needs to read it).
- Jaroslav Pelikan's Acts Commentary
- Vanhoozer, Wright, Treier, Dictionary for the Theological Interpretation of Scripture (which has been selling like hot cakes around here).

Besides spending $10 on a glass of wine (bad US wine at that), things in Philly are okay. SBL rocks!

Note for Kyle Wells, go to the Mohr-Siebeck stand and buy the book on Paul and Power - someone might have beaten you to the punch!!

Soon I'm going to the session with Wright, Ehrman and Crossan on the authority of Scripture (or perhaps the lack of authority if we follow Ehrman). Note to self: write an article engaging Ehrman since this guy has a socio-pathic hatred of orthodox Christianity.

Haven't seen Jim West (code named 'Bulldog') around, he might be building a shrine to Bultmann next to Prometheus books! Stephen Carlson's book on Secret Mark is selling well as are several of McKnight's books. I started off slightly violating my book buying budget, but now it is more of depriving its liberties and utter mutiny. More tomorrow.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

ETS Day One and Two

Day One was fun with several weird and odd things happening to me, but I will blog only the events which I can narrate without incriminating myself or others.

First, I got a free book from Fortress Press (Nickelsburg on Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins). I also picked up Justification and Variegated Nomism volume 2, Richard Horsley Christian Origins, and tomorrow I'll probably pick up one other volume. My thanks to Alan Bandy for some advice (mostly reminding me of my own philosophy of only buying books I need or have already used).

Second, I met a lot of people like Stan Porter and bloggers like Alan Bandy and Jim Hamilton and several other notable people.

Third, Jamie Grant made it to the US with a new passport (praise God)

Fourth, I had dinner with the gals from Christians for Biblical Equality and that was a hoot.

Fifth, I sat in some good papers including a review of Scott Peck's work on demon possession and the best presentation on egalitarian vs. complementarian views I have ever heard.

Day Two was a good day as well.

The first paper I attended was Q, Mark, Luke, Matthew: the Correct Order of Synoptic Development? By Leslie Robert Keylock. It argued that there was indeed a Q (contra the Goodacre-Farrar-Goulder hypothesis: note that Mark Goodacre is now included as a progenitor or propagandist of the thesis) and that Matthew was the latest Gospel (a la Hengel) but Matthew and Luke have no literary relationship.

Anthony Bradley of Covenant Seminar gave a paper on The Emergent Church: Ancient Roots of a Modern Movement, yeah Right? He argued that the diversity and pagan background of the Roman world provides Christians with a similar context in which they can subvert the culture (esp. Hip Hop culture) with Christian values.

I attended three papers at the Gnostics and Gnostic Gospels session including:

Jonathan M. Watt (Geneva College) on The Absence of Context in the Theory of Competing Christianities
Stanley Porter (McMaster Seminary) gave an excellent argument for dating John’s Gospel between 70-100 AD based on pEgerton 2 and p52.

Brad Mellon (Bethel Seminary) gave a presentation on The non-apostolic preaching of the Cross which argued that the Gnostic Gospels didn’t have any atonement theology like the canonical Gospels. My immediate response would be: Well duh? Pagels would probably respond by saying “Praise the Sophia in me that we have been able to deconstruct and be liberated from that theology of divine child abuse, God the Father abusing and killing his own son”.

The plenary session by D. Jeffrey Bingham (Dallas Theological Seminary) gave an excellent exposition on trends accounting diversity in the early church from Baur to Ehrman. Email him and ask for a copy.

Michael Svigel (Dallas Theological Seminary) gave a paper on “You got to know when to hold’em: Trumping the Bauer Thesis” not too bad, but I think he tries to project too much of the orthodox theology to the immediate post-Easter setting.

I got to meet a lot of good people like Joel Willits (North Park/Moody), William Barclay (Reformed Theological Seminary), I. Howard Marshall (Aberdeen) and Mickey Klink (Talbot).

I have bought several books but will blog on them separately – tomorrow is the 50% sale!

Must go and rehearse my paper on “Is there anything distinctive about the Third Quest for the Historical Jesus”

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Philadelphia so far!

The Bird has landed in Philly! But not without much stress.

First, my colleague, Jamie Grant, was unable to accompany me on the trip because, as we learnt at Inverness Airport, his passport is not machine readable and therefore not able to get the Visa waiver! Last I saw Jamie was in London on his way to the American consulate to get a visa.

Second, sitting around Gatwick airport for 8 hrs waiting for flights was about as much fun as parsing Hebrew verbs or reading John Kloppenborg's Q fantasies!!!

Third, the flight wasn't too bad. "Batman Begins" and "The Island" being reasonable in-flight movies. Got some reading done, especially a new article in NTS about the Gospel of Thomas - which any reasonable minded person will know is a 2d century document. Though the snoring American in the baseball cap was annoying (really why do these people have to wear baseball caps inside planes?)

Fourth, the cab driver who met me at the airport was a suicidal Rastafarian lady who drove faster than the jumbo I fly in on. After hearing my accent she asked if I was from Arkansaw or Missouri. I asked why and she said, I quote, "You look square and goofy". Even worse, she took me to the wrong flipping hotel. Another cab and $75 later I finally arrive at the proper Hotel in Valley Forge and find a huge list of emails waiting to be answered the moment I turned on my laptop (sigh).

Fifth, I miss my wife and kids already. Give me cuddles with my little-babes and smooches with my righteous-babe any day.

I really hope these conferences will be worth all the pain, strife and struggle.

And only for the reason that I am exhausted, confused and hungry, I'm going to insert a trivia question. Note this quote:

"Not I for sport and nor for duty, but for my own peculiar end - I am not what I am"

What Shakespearean character uttered that amamzing quote (hint not from Romeo and Juliett or Macbeth).

Saturday, November 12, 2005

ETS and SBL and IBR and AAR and Blog Reports

The gathering in Philadelphia next week of biblical scholars and theologians will probably have an unprecedented number of blog reports coming out. First there's ETS with the evangelicals (like myself and Alan Bandy) pumping out reports if we can access a CPU. Inbetween is IBR followed up with SBL where we will probably rendezvous with most other bloggers sometime or other. I'm sure they will be a lot of session reports and digests of seminars.

My itinerary is pretty full as I want to finally meet my associate doctoral supervisor (Bob Webb) and a whole host of "virtual" friends that I have acquired over the past three years. I'm trying to spread myself out over a lot of different sessions (Historical Jesus, Synoptics, Paul, James, Jewish Christianity) which comes from my ethos of being a "generalist" in NT studies.

Hope to see you there if you're going! I tend to stand out with bright red (a la Rudolph the red nose reindeer) hair. I can be found inbetween sessions drooling over the many book stalls (especially Fortress, Westminster/John Knox, Baker, Oxford Uni Press etc). But don't bother looking for me at the gay hermeneutics sessions, in the words of Austin Powers, "Not my bag baby!"

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Confusing World of "Evangelicals"

This week I’ve read two articles on the word ‘Evangelical’.

The first is by Paul Trudinger On Reclaiming the Term ‘Evangelical’ for its Rightful Use in a recent Expository Times piece who states: “For ‘evangelical’ is a grand, large and liberating word, rightly understood and rightly used, descriptive of what is central to the life of all persons who put their trust in God and seeks to do what God requires of them in the words of Micah 6:8 …’ Of course Trudinger thinks that Martin Buber and Gandhi were evangelicals too! Trudinger accuses evangelicals of hypocrisy for going on their ‘March for Jesus’ parades when they should be doing acts of compassion and social justice instead. Let me make three quick responses: (1) The evangel of Trudinger sounds a lot like the kind of evangel that Karl Rahner warned us about: ‘A God without wrath, who takes men without sin, to a kingdom without judgment’. His evangel is theological impoverished and morally bankrupt – so he’s more than welcome to it. (2) As for liberals being concerned with justice and Evangelicals being obsessed exclusively with saving souls, well, I never ceased to be amazed by liberals, rather like Trudinger, who used to volunteer to come over to Australian colleges and seminaries from North America and to lecture us about social justice and ending poverty. Strangely enough, they always insisted on flying business class! Now there’s an illustration of hypocrisy. (3) In my experience (admittedly biased) there are more Evangelicals out there working with the marginalized, disempowered, abused and impoverished than liberals – in fact, I heard of a survey in the UK that made exactly this point (though I cannot confirm it at this point). If Trudinger thinks evangelicals have no concern for the poor he should read McKnight’s Jesus Creed. Game, Set, Match – Evangelicals!

In another article, John Armstrong writes a piece called Why I Am Not an Evangelical and he opines that those on the far right of evangelicalism (politically and theologically) have hijacked the meaning of the name so that “Evangelical” is almost synonymous with fundamentalist. I understand his concern, but outside the US we don’t really have the same problem of fundamentalists trying to use the term evangelical to describe themselves. Most fundamentalists I have met dislike Evangelicals with a passion.

In sum, we have a liberal who wants to be known as an ‘Evangelical’ and then we have an Evangelical who doesn’t want to be called an ‘Evangelical’ anymore.

Add to the mix Ben Witherington’s recent book The Problem with Evangelical Theologies featured in an article in Christianity Today and you have some interesting discussion.

Love them or hate them, Evangelicals make our world a more interesting place!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Gospel to Romans and RBL

I gave up listing all the latest RBL reviews long ago, but I have included my own review of Brian Incigneri The Gospel to the Romans. This review is a foretaste on my current research project about the illusive quest for the “Marcan Community”.

In the RBL email I received there was an error as I did not write a review of Garrow, Alan J. P. The Gospel of Matthew's Dependence on the Didache.

Note: I have also added several new resources to the sidebar including “Find Articles” and “Bible Centre” which have some good resources.

Monday, November 07, 2005

"Forgiven" by Thomas Blackshear

One of my favourite pieces of contemporary Christian art (which I have a copy of on my desk) is Thomas Blacksher's Forgiven:

This reflects to me the power of the resurrected Son of God to save those who cannot save themselves. The man is a plain, average Joe (like us), he is powerless, and yet with what strength he does have he still holds on to the weapons of execution so he is guilty as a naked gun. The man's face is a mixture of pain, anguish and guilt. And the only thing that sustains him is the strength and grace of the risen Lord. Note, where blood has fallen, lilies are growing = new life begins!

Library Update

My library has finally arrived. Ooh how I missed my books - my IVP black dictionaries, my silver NSBT, my primary source stuff (DSS, Jos., Philo etc) and who can forget such items as WBC and NICNT commentaries. And of course my favourite part of the collection: COQG. Then there's BDAG (the only book I have that is listed on my insurance policy). Oh yes, my massive collection of photocopied journal articles. No more long trips to the library several times a day to check articles and reference alas - the Bird Cage is now fully operation.

Some other things arrived too: my wife's clothes, my daughters' toys and their insulin.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Ancient Church ruins discovered in Israel

In a BBC report Israeli officials say they have discovered what may be the oldest Christian Church in Israel- on the site of a maximum security prison. Israel's Antiquities Authority said the church at the Megiddo jail dated back to the third or fourth century AD and was "a once in a lifetime find". It contained a mosaic bearing the name of Jesus Christ in ancient Greek, fish murals and an altar, officials said.
The dig took place near the biblical site of Armageddon in northern Israel.

My comment is that anyone building a church in Armageddon was probably not expecting the great battle to take place any time in the near future!

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Son of Man who is still in heaven

While I'm in the mood to discuss textual critical stuff, one variation which fascinates me is John 3.13

"No one has ever gone into heaven except
the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man"

Yet several witnesses (A, Caesarean text, 050, 063, f1, f13 et. al.) adds a little bit on the end.

"No one has ever gone into heaven except
the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man who is in heaven"

I don't have my library with me so I have no John commentaries and or Metzger to consult to find a solution (but the good news is that my stuff arrives on Monday, only took 4 months for the stuff to get here from Brisbane :| ).

Does the addition "who is heaven" convey the idea that Jesus' divinity (the Logos?) was still in heaven whilst he was on earth?

Hmmm. Has anyone written a Ph.D on this variant?

New Testament Theology

I’ve been preparing a lecture on an “An Introduction to New Testament Theology” and I’ve come across some good resources on the web including:

Grant Osborne’s Evangelical Dictionary of Theology article on NT Theology

Rodney Decker also has a good bibliography on the subject.

Mention should also be made of Frank Thielman’s new NT Theology book: Theology of the New Testament: A Canonical and Synthetic Approach

The blurb reads:

Studying the theology of the New Testament can be a daunting task, even to the knowledgeable Bible student or pastor. Each of the twenty-seven books, written by various authors, has its own theological emphasis and nuances. How do we elicit a coherent message from such theological diversity, especially given that some of the theological statements in the New Testament seem to be at odds with one another? Is such an endeavor achievable or even valid?Theology of the New Testament takes a balanced approach in response to these challenges. Frank Thielman presents a theology of the New Testament that is careful to take into account the cultural and historical circumstances surrounding each book and the New Testament as a whole. He not only examines each book’s theological content individually, but also in relation to the rest of the New Testament, particularly within each of the three theological units that comprise the New Testament: the gospels and Acts, the Pauline epistles, and the general epistles and Revelation. This canonical and synthetic approach honors both the theological diversity of the various books and the theological connections between the books. In the end, Thielman finds a unified theological vision of the New Testament, anchored in the centrality of Jesus Christ. Frank Thielman’s Theology of the New Testament is an outstanding achievement. The book is marked by scholarly depth, exegetical rigor, and theological profundity. Both students and professors will profit immensely from this lucid treatment of the theology contained in the New Testament documents. Thomas R. Schreiner Professor of New Testament, The Southern Baptist Theological SeminaryAn accessible presentation of the key theological points of the New Testament books by an accomplished New Testament scholar and teacher. Its clear style, lucid organization, and sound theological insight make it a prime resource for serious students in both the academy and the church. Karen H. Jobes, PhD Associate Professor of New Testament, Westmont College

Ben Myers and Milton

Our evangelical-Barthian friend (I know that makes about as much sense as military intelligence or fried ice – but that’s just how he is folks) Ben Myers has scored a goal and Walter de Grutyer is going to publish his doctoral thesis Milton’s Theology of Freedom. Bravo and well done Ben! Have a short-black on me! His book will be a must buy item.

More on Textual Criticism

My idea of writing a commentary based a single text-type has prompted some interesting responses. Peter Williams, over at Evangelical Textual Criticism has an interesting response to my post. He seems moderately in favour of the idea and notes that for a long time most commentaries were based on a single text-type (e.g. Lightfoot etc.) In the comments section below, Stephen Carlson notes that the approach I’m putting forward sounds like a “copy-text” approach and modern TC is pretty much based on copy-text of Codex Vaticanus at any rate!

Is it possible to:

1. Focus on a single text (like Lightfoot did) and then examine the text in and of itself, paying attention to details of textual transmission, corruption, restoration, wirkungsgeschicte, scribal activity, and of course exegesis of the text.

2. Still keep on an eye on what Paul may have originally written using the standard canons of TC.

Maybe we can start a new commentary series called:

The Lightfoot Textual Commentaries: Textual Tradition, Reception-History, and Exegesis

I got dibs of p52 (Rylands)! See it here

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Writing a NT commentary

I have this insane idea for biblical studies. Why is it when scholars write a commentary on a NT book that they inevitably use either UBS4 or NA27? The fact is that no extant manuscript conforms to the text of UBS4 or NA27 so they are writing a commentary on a manuscript that does not physically exist. Let me qualify that: (1) I believe that it is worthwhile to comb the various witnesses and try to establish what is probably the original autographs; (2) I'm not advocating the superiority of any one particular textual witness like the Western Text or anything like that.

But why doesn't someone take, say, the earliest manuscript on Galatians (p46, ca. 200 I think) and write a commentary on that manuscript and argue in the footnotes passages where they think other readings are to be preferred. I put this forward because, although I believe in the eclectic approach, at the end of the day there will always be an element of doubt as to our ability to reconstruct the original autographs with any certainty. Alternatively, p46 is a real manuscript not an imagined one, and the question that can be asked is to what degree does p.46 legitimately represent the original autograph.

Is using a real manuscript (as opposed to a hypothetical one)as a template for the text of a commentary an act of textual critical heresy; or am I onto something?

New Blogs

I have added 3 new blogs to the side bar:

Chris Tilling and his Brainpoo

Mark Owen with his New Testament Round Table

Peter Head, Peter Williams and Simon Gathercole et. al with Evangelical Textual Criticism

My side bar is beginning to get out of hand!