Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Job Opportunity - Lecturer in Pastoral Theology

Over at jobs.ac.uk there is a position advertised for a lectuer in Pastoral Theology at the Highland Theological College. The details are as follows:

Pastoral Theology
Highland Theological College - HTC

The Highland Theological College (HTC) offers courses from Access level through to PhD level, from a Reformed and Evangelical perspective. HTC is situated in the beautiful Highlands of Scotland and is a Partner in UHI Millennium Institute (UHI) delivering university-level education in the Highlands and Islands, including Moray and Perthshire. UHI aims to become the University of the Highlands and Islands by 2007.

We are looking for a new academic staff member to begin in August 2006:

Lecturer in Pastoral Theology

The ideal candidate will have a PhD, some pastoral experience, some teaching experience, and will have published (or will publish by 2007) sufficient material to enable a contribution to the next Research Assessment Exercise.

The post will involve teaching undergraduates, supervision of postgraduates, research and writing, some administration, involvement in and commitment to UHI and participation in the wider work of the College, including conference week-ends and occasional evening classes.

Salary will depend on qualifications, experience and managerial responsibilities within the College. There is a pension scheme in place.

Application and CV to the College Principal:
Professor A.T.B. McGowan, HTC, High Street, Dingwall, IV15 9HA by Friday 31st March 2006

For further information, e-mail Fiona Smith, PA to the Principal:

Telephone: 01349-780208 Fax: 01349-780001

More on the Resurrection

Good news! I've been reading through Allison a bit more and I am glad to say that the evidense for the empty tomb appears to be marginally stronger than the argument that the empty tomb was fabricated - I can go to bed now!!!

I once had the pleasure of preaching 5 sermons on the resurrection during an Easter weekend last year - an enjoyable experience it was too - but sermons on what the resurrection means are hard to find. One of the best sermonette's I've ever read on the resurrection is from ship of fools and is called Easter ... Wright and Wrong. Do read it, esp. if you're anything like "Pastor Gospelman" or "Mr Smoothtongue".

The picture is The Supper at Emmaus Painted for Lord Chandos' house, Canons, by Joshua Price.

Bibliography on the Resurrection

I'm still working through Allison's book Resurrecting Jesus (I'm quite impressed by his breadth of research, either he has been looking at his for a while or else he has a research assistant worth his/her weight in gold).

I do remember seeing a cool bibliography on studies on the resurrection a few years ago and I was able to track it down. It is from Ex Auditu at North Park College. Although it is a bit dated now it is worth having a gander over.

You can also find a reasonable article on the resurrection at Wikipedia. It seems that William Lane Craig and NT Wright also have their own bio-articles at wikipedia.

The image is Christ with Doubting Thomas by Caravaggio Neues Palast, Potsdam

New Blog: Jason Hood and Gospel of Matthew

It appears that our friend Jason Hood (whom I affectionately call "Jase") now has his own blog. He's been posting comments around the bloggosphere for ages and it's about time he took the plunge and joined us all. Jase is a great guy, fun to be with, loves the Lord, and he even got me some Zero-coke from the US! Ya can't ask for much more than that (even better he has no immediate love for Bultmann as far as I can tell).

Jase is doing his Ph.D with us at HTC on Matthew. He's also into issues about stewardship, finance, poverty etc, all good stuff. You can expect some good reviews and news from him on anything to do with the Gospel of Matthew. What our mate Alan Bandy is to Revelation, I'm sure Jase can be to Matthew - a ninja-guru-jedi master-SAS trooper-fount of all knowledge-expert on Matthean scholarship and studies!

Things I'd like to see him cover include:

1. The meaning and application of the exception clauses on divorce,
2. The meaning of Mt. 5.18,
3. Was there a Matthean community?,
4. The significance of "Syria" in 4.24,
5. Did Luke use Matthew?,
6. What does he think of Alistair Wilson's book on judgement in Matthew (should be interesting since Alistair is his supervisor),
7. Give a summary of Matthew's interpretation of the OT,
8. Did the "M" source really exist or is it just Matthean redaction?
9. Analyse the restoration/exile motif in Matt 1-4.
10. Matthew's relation with Judaism and the Synagogue.
11. Give us some snippets from what he's work on with his PH.D thesis

This should keep him busy for several Buddhist life times!

Bravo mate. Welcome aboard Jase! The site is called Gospel of Matthew: Blogging on the New Testament (especially its first book) and other things.

Monday, January 30, 2006

New Books to Read

I just got my copies of N.T. Wright, Paul: Fresh Perspectives and Michael J. Gorman, Apostle of the Crucified Lord. Gorman's short sections on rhetoric and the theo-political nature of Paul's gospel are excellent little summaries of the topics for undergrads.

I've also photocopied Scot McKnight, "The Warning Passages of Hebrews: A Formal Analysis and Theological Conclusion,", TrinJ 13 (1992): 21-59 - as I hope my NT 101 class will write a paper on the warning passages in Hebrews next semester. I wasn't sure about Grudem's response in Still Sovereign, but re-reading both will be interesting.

Advice for Ph.D candidates

As one who has recently finished a Ph.D and started teaching here at the words of wisdom I have for young cands (many of these ideas were passed on to me by my supervisors and now I blog them for the sake of posterity).

• In choosing your topic, pick a specific area (e.g. Gospel of John) and then take a unique approach (e.g. narrative criticism).
• Know the difference in genre between a thesis, a book and a journal article.
• Try to write a thesis that goes some way in convincing those who disagree with you (don’t preach to the choir or peddle your assumptions) - examiners can smell that a mile away!!!
• Remember that you are not trying to end the debate or put in the last word. Your thesis is merely one voice in a continuing conversation. Your aim is to sit down at an imaginary seminar table and interject one cogent comment (i.e. your thesis) in the on-going discussion.
• To begin with, try get a grip on the history of NT research read Stephen Neil and N. T. Wright, The Interpretation of the New Testament, 1981-1986 (Oxford: OUP, 1988) or William Baird, The History of New Testament Research (3 vols.; Minneapolis: Fortress/Augsburg, 2002-2006). This will hopefully show you where you fit in, in the history of NT study. And for getting a good hold on first century Christianity see James D. G. Dunn, Unity and Diversity in the New Testament: An Inquiry into the Character of Earliest Christianity (2d ed.; London: SCM, 1990).
• Start learning German and, if possible, French too at the earliest possible moment. At doctorate level research writing this is compulsory (I still spend 15 mins a day working on my German).
• Become conversant with academic tools like TLG, Perseus, the ATLA database, various lexicons, library services, and key websites.
• Two of the best investments you will ever make are the program Nota Bene and Bible Works 6 - even if you have to harvest a kidney for them, try get hold of them. NB gives discounts to students.
• Focus on primary sources and know them like the back of your hand. Try wherever possible to work with them in their original languages.
• Be consistent in your bibliographic style (e.g. Chicago, Harvard) and abbreviations (SBLHB or DNTB). Pick one and stick to it. You don’t want to have to go through your thesis changing Mt. 10.1 to Matt 10:1 or ExpTim to ExpT.
• Write early and often - yes, you need to read yourself up, but sooner or later you've gotta start whacking that key board with coherent arguments.
• When you quote, cite or refute someone, make sure you correctly represent their views. Consider emailing scholars to make sure you have understood their position if need be (you might find a good examiner this way).
• Once you’ve finished a section make sure that you double-check your primary and secondary sources.
• When you write (or edit) a section ask yourself this question: how does this section strengthen, develop or further the central contention of my thesis? If not, get rid of it.
• Be disciplined! The only place where “success” comes before “work” is the dictionary. Don't end up as one of those unfinished PH.D's. Do what you have to do, before you do what you want to do. Say goodbye to the TV, the X-Box, your prized collection of Barbie Comics, and the Left-Behind series (in fact, bury the latter), and immerse yourself in the world of Jesus, Paul, Luke, Peter and John.
• On a more spiritual plane, don't forget that faith is more important than academic study and there are families that need you, churches that need servants, people who need prayer - so don't let your thesis became a mistress! People are more important than your exotic exegesis of John 1:1! Remember to read the Bible for your own edification rather than just using it academically.

Otherwise, I recommend the following reading:

Wayne C. booth, Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research. 2d edition. 2003. Chapter 13-14.
Michel Desjardins, “Netting a Job in Religious Studies: Some Notes from the Field”. May 24, 2005.
Carl Trueman, “Interview with Professor Howard Marshall,” Themelios 26 (2002): 48-53.
Stanley E. Porter, "Is There a Secret to Supervising Doctoral Students?" .
SBL Forum

Historical Jesus Encyclopedia

Craig Evans is the editor of the Encyclopedia of the Historical Jesus to be published by Routledge around 2007/8. This will be a useful resource once it comes out.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Ehrman, Textual Criticism and Historical Jesus

Several criticisms have been raised against Bart Ehrman's book Misquoting Jesus. Another salvo comes from Mark Roberts over at his webpage which is worth perusing.

I've been chewing this over in my mind and I think there is a certain contradiction in Ehrman's scholarship. On the one hand, he argues that the transmission of the NT is allegedly fraught with endemic corruption and limitless textual variation. One cannot even speak of the Word of God because we do not have the words of God, we do not have access to the original autographs, and (I would add this point) therefore we do not have access to the events in the life of Jesus and the early church that the original autographs referred to. The problem is that Ehrman continues to write books on the historical Jesus and Paul, Peter and Mary which is only possible if the textual transmission process has some integrity, if the autographs are reconstructable, and if those autographs did contain a window into the life of Jesus and the early church. Ehrman is trying to tell us that the NT transmission process has no clothes (like the Emperor), but continues writing books about topics that depend on a reliable manuscript witness. He can't have it both ways!

Otherwise, Mark Goodacre recommends David Parker's book The Living Text of the Gospels (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997) for beginners. I prefer Bruce M. Metzger's volume, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005) as the best place to start. I've also found a useful summary of recent debates in Eckhard J. Schnabel, "Textual Criticism: Recent Developments," Scot McKnight & Grant R. Osborne, eds., The Face of New Testament Students (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House 2004), 59-75. Something else worth considering for beginners is Bart D. Ehrman & Michael William Holmes, eds., The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Quaestionis: A Volume in Honor of B.M. Metzger (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2001). Otherwise I recommend people check out the list of textual-criticism resources at Bible Studies.

Friday, January 27, 2006

More on Christology

“It has always been a vital question in Christology to discover how far the impact made by the earthly life of Jesus and his own understanding of his person can sustain the weight of the Christological construction put upon them by the early church. We cannot, therefore, in this study ignore the questions of what Jesus said and did, and how far historical study can show the relation between the actual character of his ministry and the theological explanation of it by the early church.” (I. Howard Marshall, The origins of NT Christology [Leicester, IVP, 1977], p.13).

That is indeed the question!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Mission of a Christian Scholar

I've been thinking about the question of what, as a Christian NT scholar, is my vocation, purpose, calling, mandate or mission? I came up with the following manifesto:

As a Christian scholar my goals are:

(1) To assist in the spiritual and theological formation of students and to enable them to articulate and live out a Christian worldview.

(2) To act as a mediator between the Academy and the Church, which involves making scholarship a tool for Christians and deciphering the complexities of modern debates for non-academics.

(3) To make contributions to the collective knowledge of biblical and theological research through continuous and disciplined efforts in research for the benefit of fellow scholars, theological students, and lay people.

(4) To equip Christians to discover a ‘faith seeking understanding’.

Essay Topics for Semester II

I am in the process of preparing the essay topics for next semester, and the following questions strike me as good topics for my undergrads:


What do we learn about Luke’s view of the Roman Empire from his portrayal of Roman officials?

“You don’t write a history of the church if you’re expecting the end of the world” – evaluate this statement in light of discussions about Luke’s eschatology.

Pauline Theology

According to Galatians 2:11-14, what happened at Antioch to cause Paul to react so strongly against Peter?

Evaluate arguments for and against Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles.

Evaluate N.T. Wright's view of justification.

Jesus and the Gospels

Identify the role of women in Jesus’ ministry?

Did the hypothetical document called ‘Q’ actually exist?

Note: If any of my students are reading this blog, these essay topics are not yet official and are subject to change and review prior to the commencement of the course.

Pagan Monotheism Conference

University of Exeter, Department of Classics and Ancient History

International conference: Pagan Monotheism in the Roman Empire,
Exeter, 17-20 July 2006

Keynote Speakers include M. Frede, G. Fowden, J. North, A.
Chaniotis, C. Markschies, L. Rutgers, and S. Mitchell.

Further details and a registration form can be found on the

Please contact P.E.R.van-Nuffelen@ex.ac.uk with any questions.

Conference on Justin Martyr

The Centre for the Study of Christian Origins (University of Edinburgh) will host an international conference on Justin Martyr 20-22 July.

Jeremias and Caird on the necessity of studying the Historical Jesus

"And those who believe that in the life and teaching of Jesus God has given a unique revelation of His character and purpose are committed by this belief, whether they like it or not, whether they admit it or not, to that quest. Without the Jesus of history the Christ of faith becomes a Docetic figure, a figment of pious imagination, who, like Alice’s Checshire cat, ultimately disappears from view."

G.B. Caird, New Testament Theology (ed. L.D. Hurst; Oxford: Clarendon, 1994), p. 347

“We must continually return to the historical Jesus and his message. The sources demand it; the kerygma, which refers us back away from itself, also demands it. To put it in theological terms, the incarnation implies that the story of Jesus is not only a possible subject for historical research, study, and criticism, but demands all of these. We need to know who the Jesus of history was, as well as the content of his message.”

Joachim Jeremias, “The Search for the Historical Jesus,” in Jesus and the Message of the New Testament (ed. K.C. Hanson; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2002), p. 8

Monday, January 23, 2006

Brief Reflections on Jesus Creed

Sometime ago I finished reading over Scot McKnight's The Jesus Creed and I thought I would reflect on it briefly.

First, I enjoyed the book as a joyful and uplifting departure from the rigours of academic study (after reading Bultmann's History of the Synoptic Tradition for an hour, Jesus Creed was quite refreshing).

Second, it is good to see a scholar trying to bridge the gap between academic study and devotional writing. There are some influential "Jesus" devotionals out there. Phil Yancey's book The Jesus I never Knew is a good read, though at times some of us in the academy may think of his historical judgements as somewhat naive. There will always be a danger for academics to retreat to their ivory tower and write massive tomes on subjects that are so specific, very few people in the pews would understand or even care. For all his failings, Bultmann's books (and in his lectures I'm told) would always carry the question: "So what? What does this mean for us?"

Third, there are some excellent vignettes in the book, esp. those of John Goldingay and Dietrich von Hildebrand.

Fourth, the book at times is conjectural on what it would be like for Joseph or Mary to be in their situation, etc. Some might think that his pushes the boundaries somewhat, but the speculation is reasonable and restrained.

Fifth, the chapter on "Jesus Creed as a Table" is a chapter I wish all communion/eucharist leaders would read.

Sixth, I would perhaps have liked a bit more of the Jesus of John's Gospel in there (although cameos appear); perhaps a christological devotional book on the Fourth Gospel can be a further writing project for Scot!

Seventh, the book is useful as a devotional for individuals, families, and groups and would probably do well also as a spiritual formation course text book.

Eighth, otherwise, the book compels, challenges and inspires us to make the Jesus Creed our creed, that is to live out the Jesus Creed by loving God and loving others!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

My first book!

I am pleased to announce that my first book, Jesus and the Origins of the Gentile Mission, is to be published by T&T Clark/Continuum in the Library of New Testament Studies and part of their Historical Jesus monograph series. Many thanks go to Rick Strelan, Bob Webb, Scot McKnight, and Ben Myers (who is currently on proof reading duties). Here's a preview of the books contents:

1. Introduction
2. 'Restore the Kingdom to Israel': Jesus, the Gentiles, and the Restoration of Israel
3. 'No Crumbs for the Dogs': Negative Remarks about Gentiles and Restrictions of Jesus' Mission to Israel
4. 'A Kingdom for the Birds': Sayings About Gentiles
5. 'I Have not Found Such Faith in Israel': Narrative Material About Gentiles
6. A Light and a House for All Nations: The Rationale for the Salvation of the Gentiles
7. Conclusion

Stanley Porter on Textual Criticism and Acts

Over at Evangelical Textual Criticism, I have posted an entry entitled: Stanley Porter, the Book of Acts, and Textual Criticism. There Stanley Porter gives his thoughts on textual criticism and the Book of Acts.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Book Reviewed Unto Death

I don't know if there is a record for the highest number of book reviews done in a month (I can only assume that Tobias Nicklas holds the record), but I must be getting close. Within the last 30 days I've read and reviewed:

Larry Hurtado, The Lord Jesus Christ (ERT).
Jonathan Knight, Jesus: An Historical and Theological Introduction (RTR).
Carl B. Smith, No Longer Jews: The Search for Gnostic Origins (RTR).
Dale C. Allison, Resurrecting Jesus (JETS) - just started!

3.5 down and 3 to go!

At the moment I'd like to wrap my poor tiried brain around a Simpsons comic strip. Instead, I'm going to go refresh it with Jesus Creed.

EABS Historical Jesus Seminar

The historical Jesus research group of the European Association of Biblical Studies is meeting at Károly Gáspár Reformed University in Budapest on the 8th of August (the 6th to the 9th of August includes the annual EABS conference at Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Piliscsaba, near Budapest. The topic for the historical Jesus group is: Jesus Meets Christianity. The conference details are viewable here.

Hab. 2.4 in the DSS

Hab. 2.4 (along with Gen. 15.6) was one of Paul's favourite texts upon which to argue for righteousness by faith for Jews and Gentiles (see Rom. 1.17 and Gal. 3.11). There are interesting things happening in various texts of Hab. 2.4 including differences in the MT, Paul and variations in mss of the LXX. Another factor of interest is how Hab. 2.4 is treated in the commentary on Habakkuk in the DSS (1QpHab 8.1-4).

"Interpreted this concerns all those who observe the Law in the House of Judah, whom God will deliver from the House of Judgement because of their faith in the Teacher of Righteousness". (Vermes)

Two things come to mind:

- "Life" here seems to mean deliverance from judgement (from a historical event or from eschatological judgement?)
- "Faith" includes observance of the Law, but also faith/trust/loyalty directed towards the Teacher of Righteousness and his teachings.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Chrysostom on Christ and Mercy

I was gazing over at Ben Witherington's website (which is a good source for NT study gems and movie reviews) and found this quote from John Chrysostom, old golden mouth himself:

“Mercy is the highest art and the shield of those who practice it. It is the friend of God, standing always next to him and freely blessing whatever he wishes. It must not be despised by us. For in its purity it grants great liberty to those who respond to it in kind. It must be shown to those who have quarreled with us, as well as to those who have sinned against us, so great is its power. It breaks chains, dispels darkness, extinguishes fire, kills the worm and takes away the gnashing of teeth. By it the gates of heaven open with the greatest of ease. In short mercy is a queen which makes humans like God.”--- Chrysostom (Catena 13)

Bart Ehrman and William Lane Craig to debate on the resurrection

Now I know that Ben Myers thinks that apologetics is about as useful as a Reggae band an Klu Klux Klan Konvention. I am also more than aware that Jim West would not be bothered if Jesus’ bones were discovered tomorrow (afterall, who needs an empty tomb when you have kergyma!!!), but I must report on a topic that centers on the historicity of the resurrection. There is to be a forthcoming debate between William Lane Craig and Bart Ehrman on the resurrection.

March 28, 2006
Holy Cross College, Worcester, Massachusetts
Is There Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus?
Debate with Bart D. Ehrman

Contact Charles Anderton
Debate Website

Craig is probably the most competent and capable Christian apologist of our day. He did one doctorate in Philosophy of Religion at Birmingham under John Hick and a second doctorate in Theology in Germany under Wolfhart Pannenberg. I’m seen his debates on video, the net and read several of his works – and he is one sharp cookie. He has this ability to take in a lot of information, process it, critique it, and fire off counter-responses with greater speed and accuracy than an MP5/10 SMG (Joe Cathy will know what I’m talking about!). He has already debated Dom Crossan and Gerd Lüdemann on the resurrection and they were interesting exchanges. I'm sure that Ehrman will make for a worthy opponent for Craig and he'll push Craig to the wall if he can. I wish I could be there this the debate – it would be a hoot.

One of my many highlights at SBL was meeting Bill Craig at Tom Weeden’s seminar on K. Bailey’s oral tradition theory. As a young Christian I found his scholarship very helpful and illuminating and it was a pleasure to meet him in person. His website is available here.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Latest JSHJ

The latest issue of Journal for the Study the Historical Jesus 4.1 (2006) is out and includes the following articles:

Paul Foster
"Educating Jesus: The Search for a Plausible Context"

Craig A. Evans
"Assessing Progress in the Third Quest for the Historical Jesus"

Michael F. Bird
"The Criterion of Greek Language and Context: A Response to Stanley E. Porter"

Stanley E. Porter
"The Criterion of Greek Language and its Context: A Further Response"

John S. Kloppenborg
"Holtzmann's Lie of Jesus according to the 'A' Source: Part 1"

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Reviews Wanted!

Does anyone have access to early reviews on the following volumes:

John Nolland, Matthew (NIGTC). [I nearly purchased it at SBL].

Kevin J. Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonicalj-Linguistic Approach to Christian Theology.

Nothing other than my own personal interest drives this request.

Jesus as God

I'm going to post a few pieces around the place on Jesus as God. I thought I'd begin with the famous quote from John Knox (not the 16th century reformer, but the 20th century NT scholar).

“I, for one, simply cannot imagine a sane human being, of any historical period or culture, entertaining the thoughts about himself which the Gospels, as they stand, often attribute to him.”

(John Knox, The Death of Christ [1959], p. 58; cited in I. Howard Marshall, The Origins of NT Christology, p. 43).

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Rudolf Bultmann and Jesus Christ Superstar

I once preached a sermon called "Andrew Lloyd Weber, a Journalist and Three Guys called Jesus". I won't bother explaining the details, but it was an amusing introduction and it got the audience into the mood of asking "Who is Jesus?". The musical Jesus Christ Superstar is one my favourites. I cannot help but say that its opening song reminds me of Rudolf Bultmann. The song is called "Heaven on Their Minds".

My mind is clearer now.
At last all too well
I can see where we all soon will be.
If you strip away the myth from the man,
You will see where we all soon will be. Jesus!
You've started to believe
The things they say of you.
You really do believe
This talk of God is true.
And all the good you've done
Will soon get swept away.
You've begun to matter more
Than the things you say.

Listen Jesus I don't like what I see.
All I ask is that you listen to me.
And remember, I've been your right hand man all along.
You have set them all on fire.
They think they've found the new Messiah.
And they'll hurt you when they find they're wrong.

I remember when this whole thing began.
No talk of God then, we called you a man.
And believe me, my admiration for you hasn't died.
But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way.
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied.
Nazareth, your famous son should have stayed a great unknown
Like his father carving wood He'd have made good.
Tables, chairs, and oaken chests would have suited Jesus best.
He'd have caused nobody harm; no one alarm.

Listen, Jesus, do you care for your race?
Don't you see we must keep in our place?
We are occupied; have you forgotten how put down we are?

I am frightened by the crowd.
For we are getting much too loud.
And they'll crush us if we go too far.
If they go too far....

Listen, Jesus, to the warning I give.
Please remember that I want us to live.
But it's sad to see our chances weakening with every hour.
All your followers are blind.
Too much heaven on their minds.
It was beautiful, but now it's sour.
Yes it's all gone sour.

Listen, Jesus, to the warning I give.
Please remember that I want us to live.
C'mon, c'mon
He won't listen to me ...
C'mon, c'mon
He won't listen to me ...

You've got alot of stuff here: Jesus never claimed to be the messiah, demythologizing, too much realized eschatology, a distorted oral tradition, a church more influenced by Hellenistic mystery cults than anything else. I can't help but think that if Tim Rice hadn't written the lyrics, Bultmann would have been a good fall back! I would love to teach a course on Jesus and Film one of these days - sounds like alot of fun. Now, I wonder what Myers and West will have to say on this topic?

Note I: before I embarked on a career in NT studies I always wanted to be a lyricist and write West End/Broadway musicals. Two things stopped me: first, the industry is very political and hard to break into; second, I cannot read or write music!

Note II: In the Australian production of Jesus Christ Superstar in the early 90s, the part of Jesus was played by John Farnham and Herod by Angry Anderson (this will only make sense to Australians). During the song by Herod/Anderson. There is a point where Herod/Anderson stops mid-song (not in the Script), throws his hands in his face in frustration, and opines that: "He think's he's God!". The audience, myself included being the vehemently anti-Christian 19 year old I was at the time, responded with an eruption of laughter - Jesus claimed to be God, what a silly man he must have been! Perhaps I shall blog on Jesus as God sometime soon.

Stranded on an Island and you had teach a NT course ...

Let's say, hypothetically, that you get stranded on a remote Island with natives that have strange and peculiar customs (e.g. New Zealand, Tasmania, Newfoundland, Isle of Lewis), you were able to convert the natives to Christianity, and they all wanted you to teach them seminary level NT subjects. You only have enough credit on your phone to SMS Amazon for one book order and you only have enough credit left on your credit card to buy 8 books (which is covenient since you have 8 courses to teach). Here's the subjects they want to learn about.

NT 101
Jesus and the Gospels
Gospel of John
Pauline Theology

So, what eight books do you order?

Here's my list:

NT 101 - David DeSilva, An Introduction to the New Testament.
Jesus & the Gospels - Scot McKnight, et. al., Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels
Luke-Acts - I. Howard Marshall, Luke: Historian and Theologian.
Gospel of John - John Pryor, John: Evangelist of the Covenant People
Romans - Douglas Moo, Romans (NICNT)
Pauline Theology - James Dunn, Theology of the Apostle Paul
Hebrews - Craig Koester, Hebrews (AB)
Revelation - Greg Beale (NIGTC)

What is your pick?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

News, Quotes and other Stuff

It is with great sadness that I report that John Piper has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. The full story is available at Christianity Today. Piper has a very influential ministry that focuses on the glory of God in the life of the believer.

Here is also a quote from Mark Allan Powell that many of us should take to heart lest our exegesis, our theologicizing and even our biblioblogging become too cerebral:

We cannot have a relationship with our christology - we can have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Our soteriology cannot save us from our sins - our Saviour can.
Our ecclesiology does not make us one - the Lord of the Church does.
Our eschatology will not transform this flawed universe - Jesus the King of kings and Prince of Peace will do that.
And, no matter how much we love theology - it will never love us back.

Bauckham has a volume coming out on eyewitnesses to the Jesus tradition. This reminds me of a quote from John P. Meier, Marginal Jew, vol. 1, pp. 169-70:

All too often the oral tradition of the early Church is depicted as a game of “anything goes,” with charismatic prophets uttering anything or everything as the words of the Lord Jesus and storytellers creating accounts of miracles and exorcisms according to Jewish and pagan models. The evangelists would simply have crowned this wildly creative process by moulding the oral tradition according to their own redactional theology. One would get the impression that throughout the first Christian generation there were no eyewitnesses to act as a check on fertile imaginations, no original-disciples-now-become-leaders who might exercise some control over the developing traditions, and no striking deeds and sayings of Jesus that stuck willy-nilly in people’s memories.

A good journal worth checking out is Mishkan which has good articles on Jewish Christianity by scholars such as Craig A. Evans, Richard Bauckham and others. On the site is also an advertisement for Oskar Skarsaune's new volume We Have Found the Messiah! Jewish believers in Jesus in antiquity. I hope to get a copy myself.

Last night I was reading over Othello and came across one of my favourite quotes that reminds me of my wife:

"That my youth suffer'd. My story being done. She gave me for my pains a world of sighs".

Finally, I've attached a link to the latest issue of Novum Testamentum that has some good articles to read over.

Friday, January 06, 2006

What I'm reading - Origins of Gnosticism

My latest read is this volume by Carl B. Smith, No Longer Jews: The Search for Gnostic Origins (2004). There is a review at RBL by Philip Tite. The contention of Smith is:

“My contention in this book is that evidence regarding the religious intellectual milieu, geographical context, and chronological sequence of clearly gnostic teachers and documents point to an early second-century rise of the gnostic religion in the Jewish intellectual centers of North Africa. The crisis out of which Gnosticism arose was not that of the Jewish revolts of Judea; rather, it was the lesser-known revolt that originated in Cyrenaica and Egypt in 115-117 C.E. during the reign of the Roman emperor Trajan.” (p,4)

“It is entirely possible that Hellenistic Jews responding to the disappointment of the revolt, Jewish Christians uniquely impacted by the disaster, and/or Gentiles intimately acquainted with Judaism and seeking out to distance themselves from it, forged the gnostic system out of the intellectual and religious ruins of this event.” (p,4).

There is also a list of the salient aspects of Gnosticism from Birger Pearson (Gnosticism, Judaism, and Egytpian Christianity [Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990], 7-9) on pages 11-12:

Gnosis. It was gnosis rather than faith or law that were the requisites to salvation.
Theology. There is a transcendent supreme God over the god or powers responsible for the world in which we live.
Cosmology. The world was created by a lower god/power inferior to the supreme God and the world is a prison of human souls.
Anthropology. Human beings are constituted by inner self, divine spark, that originated in the transcendent divine world and by means of gnosis can be released from the cosmic prison and return to its heavenly origin.
Eschatology. The eventual salvation of the elect from the material world via gnosis.
Social. Gnostics founded communities and were not wholly individualistic.
Ritual. Gnosticis had their own religious ceremonies.
Ethical. Asceticism and withdrawal from sex and procreation.
Experimental. Joy in the salvation won by gnosis.
Myth. Elaborate myths of cosmic creation.
Parasitical. It borrows from other systems of belief.

For another good summary of gnosticism see Bart Ehrman, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millenium, pp. 74-75. Available on Amazon for a full search. Search under gnosticism on the . Amazon webpage

Thursday, January 05, 2006

New Blogs

I have come across several a new blog Theology and Biblical Studies by Steven Harris.

There is also Vindicated by Kyle Potter currently studying at Regent Park College at Oxford.

There is also a good review of Wright’s new book “Paul: Fresh Perspectives” by David Field.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


On the topic of New Years resolutions and goals for the year (see also Sean Winter) I always take great inspiration from reading Jonathan Edwards Resolutions which marks out his goals for life. It is something I read every year to keep me fresh in my pursuit of godliness and professional excellence for the cause of Jesus Christ.

Otherwise, my goals for the year include:


- Write two books, one on Jesus and one on Paul.
- Write three journal articles on the Historical Jesus and the parting of the ways, diversity in early Christianity, and the Marcan community.
- Write an essay on Mark and power in weakness for a volume.
- Read all of the books I purchased at SBL.
- Give earnest attention to the spiritual and academic development of my students.
- Present papers at ETS and SBL and attend Tyndale conference


- Not to go to bed without praying first
- Not to have breakfast without reading my Bible first
- To commit myself to the growth of Christians in the church in which I serve

Monday, January 02, 2006

Messianic Secret in Mark

Jonathan Knight in his recent book on Jesus makes a good point about the messianic secret in the Gospel of Mark (pp. 138-45). Knight writes:

"The secrecy of which Mark speaks is not the secrecy of someone who is replacing one concept of Messiahship with another. It is the secrecy of someone who believes that he possesses heavenly secrets, revealed to him at the baptism and (so Lk. 10.18 suggests) conceivably at other points in his ministry. The secrecy of the Jesus movement, I suggest, is the secrecy of an apocalyptic community. It is founded on the belief that the secrets of the end-time have been revealed to a privileged seer - Jesus himself - and that, in line with the conventions of the apocalyptic tradition, these must be kept preserved within the elect group until the time of their more general disclosure." (p. 142).

Oh no! My wife has her own blog!!

My dear wife Naomi has got her own blog (she's such a copy-cat). It is called: The Bird’s Nest. There you will get all the goss on yours truly, as well as comments on what is happening in our lives. So visit the site at your own risk. For those interested, here is a shot of the bodacious babe herself. She is highly qualified with a Ph.T (putting hubbie through!).

Peter William's Review of Ehrman Misquoting Jesus

Peter Williams at Evangelical Textual Criticism has a good review of Ehrman's book, Misquoting Jesus. I highly recommend it.