Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Reaping the Rewards

My deepest thanks to all of those who have purchased books, DVDs, and misc. items through my Amazon.com links. With the revenue it generates I have been given a gift certificate through which I have been able to add to my library the following volume:

James M. Robinson, The Nag Hammadi Library (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1990).

My favourite passage in the entire NHC is still Gos Thom 114:

Simon Peter said to them, "Make Mary leave us, for females don't deserve life."
Jesus said, "Look, I will guide her to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every female who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of Heaven."

This still makes me chuckle.

Finally, keep buying books and DVDS.

Christians in Syria

Patrik Hagman of the blog God in a Shrinking Universe has a fascinating post about Christians in Syria.

Christ was born in Palestine, but Christianity was born in Syria.
Bashir al-Assad, President of Syrian Arab Republic

Monday, October 30, 2006

Matthew as a Legalist?

Willi Marxsen advocated that Matthew was a legalistic because in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew presents Jesus as giving moral imperatives with no indicatives that precede them. Charles Talbert (Reading the Sermon on the Mount, p. 43) contends that there is an indicative in Matthew, that of Jesus' gracious call to his disciples and his presence with them. He writes:

Matthew’s way, moreover, involves him neither in soteriological legalism nor in legalistic covenantal nomism. Like Paul and the Fourth Evangelist, his soteriology is by grace from start to finish. He just uses a different conceptual repertoire. Surely he cannot be faulted for that.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Southern Baptist Statement of Cooperation

Towards the end of last week I had some correspondence with Wade Burleson (Pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Oklahoma and a Trustee of the International Missions Board) who has taken a forthright stance on some issues transpiring in the SBC. I shared with Wade some ideas that myself and Joel Willitts have been working on in an essay-manifesto entitled, Solum Evangelium: Renewing Evangelicalism with the Evangel. The essay-manifesto is still in the editing stage and we hope to make it available in the near future, but Wade liked the paper so much that he incorporated elements of it in his post A Southern Baptist Statement of Cooperation. The "Statement" functions as a basis of unity for missionary cooperation in the SBC and is going to be presented to a forum of Baptist leaders. Join with me in prayer that this "Statement" will have a powerful and renewing effect in the SBC.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Review: Craig A. Evans, Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies

Craig A. Evans
Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies: A Guide to the Background Literature
Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2005
$35 USD // £ 20 // $49 AusD
ISBN: 1565634098.

I. Howard Marshall has told a generation of doctoral students at Aberdeen University to "make the primary sources your mistress". However, one would have to be an Academic Solomon to be able to know and master the many mistresses that are out there: the Pseudepigrapha, the Apocrypha, versions of the OT, Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus, Philo, Papyri, Targumim, Apostlic Fathers, Graeco-Roman literature, and so forth. But one volume that allows students to gain a basic familarity with the primary sources including their translations and scholarly apparatus is this book by Craig A. Evans.

Evans gives an overview of the writings of the Old Testament Apocrypha, the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, versions of the OT (Hebrew, Greek, Latin and Syriac), Targums, Philo and Josephus, Rabbinic literature, New Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, Early Church Fathers, Gnostic Writings, and other material such as Graeco-Roman authors, inscriptions, and papyri. Each chapter gives an overview of the texts that are dealt with, summaries of the various documents themselves, helpful bibliographies, and examples of their relevance for New Testament study.

On the one hand the book is quite thorough in that it surveys material that often gets overlooked in standard introductions such as the Masada and Murabba documents and Ostraca. On the other hand the sections on the Nag Hammadi library and Graeco-Roman literature were notoriously light. Given the Hellenization of all Judaism in the second-temple period (to some degree or another), one would have expected a lot more on Greek and Latin authors and perhaps even a section on rhetoric and ancient letter writing. However, this is a minor deficiency in an otherwise superb work and the lacuna can be easily overcome by reading David Aune's, Westminster Dictionary of New Testament and Early Christian Literature and Rhetoric (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 2003).

One of the problems that I encounter in teaching a NT 101 survey course is trying to convince my students of the value of reading the primary source documents to illuminate the history and context of early Christianity. To this end, Evans gives a good rationale for the value of reading these texts in his introduction. He also dedicates an entire chapter to examples of New Testament exegesis and how an awareness of these primary source documents illuminates our understanding of the New Testament.

Evans is aware of the latest research in most areas (he refers to Nicholas Perrin's study of the Gospel of Thomas and Tatian's Diatessaron) and he is cautious as to how he interprets the evidence (such as the relationship of Jesus and John the Baptist to the Qumran community). There are also some good explanations of certain things such as the differences the between the Amoraic and Tannaic rabbis, messianic interpretation in the Targums, and he frequently identifies the major themes of the various corpra.

The volume also has several very useful appendices including: (1) canons of Scripture that include the Apocrypha; (2) Quotations, allusions, and parallels to the New Testament; (3) Parallels between New Testament Gospels and Pseudepigraphal Gospels; (4) Jesus' parables and the parables of the rabbis; (5) Jesus and Jewish miracle stories; and (6) Messianic claimants of the first and second centuries.

This is an immensely helpful volume for anyone, student or scholar, who is trying to grapple with the vast array of primary source literature and have on hand a reliable summary of their contents and significance. Highly recommended!

The book can be purchased from either Hendrickson publishers in the USA, or for those in the UK/Europe, it is available through Alban Books. The book is also advertized on my Amazon.com sidebar.

Blurb: One of the daunting challenges facing the New Testament interpreter is achieving familiarity with the immense corpus of Greco-Roman, Jewish, and pagan primary source materials. From the Paraphrase of Shem to Pesiqta Rabbati, scholars and students alike must have a fundamental understanding of these documents’ content, provenance, and place in NT interpretation. But achieving even an elementary facility with this literature often requires years of experience or a photographic memory. Evans’s dexterous survey—a thoroughly revised and significantly expanded edition of his Noncanonical Writings and New Testament Interpretation—amasses the requisite details of date, language, text, translation, and general bibliography. Evans also evaluates the materials’ relevance for interpreting the NT. The vast range of literature examined includes the Old Testament apocrypha, the Old Testament pseudepigrapha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, assorted ancient translations of the Old Testament and the Targum paraphrases, Philo and Josephus, Rabbinic texts, the New Testament pseudepigrapha, the early church fathers, various gnostic writings, and more. Six appendixes, including a list of quotations, allusions, and parallels to the NT, and a comparison of Jesus’ parables with those of the rabbis will further save the interpreter precious time.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Latest issue of Evangelical Quarterly (2006)

Michael F. Bird
The peril of modernizing Jesus and the crisis of not contemporizing the Christ

Anna M. Robbins
Something in common? The human person as moral agent in individual and corporate expression.

Brian R. Talbot
Fellowship in the Gospel: Scottish Baptists and their relationships with other Christian churches 1900-1945

Monday, October 23, 2006

Diversity in Proto-orthodox Christianity

I'm reading through Bart Ehrman's Lost Christianities, and I'm shaking my head against the view that a cartel of proto-orthodox leaders conspired and then successfully executed a plan to impose doctrinal uniformity upon the pluriform and diverse Christian groups spread over the known world. My objection is that proto-orthodoxy was a little more diverse and tolerant than many realize. Towards an eventual big project on this, this is what I've come up with so far:

"Against those that think that the proto-orthodox imposed unity on the diversity of early Christianity, it is crucial to remember that proto-orthodoxy contained a great deal of diversity itself as is evident from the New Testament. A comparison of the Synoptic, Johannine, and Pauline materials provide ample evidence for this point as the New Testament contains a diverse array of voices. Also Justin Martyr knew of Jewish Christians groups that he considered ‘orthodox’. Tertullian could speak up for the Montanists as those ‘enthusiastic men of the Spirit’. The various hymns and creeds of early Christianity, including those within the New Testament (e.g. Phil. 2.5-11) and through to the Apostle’s creed, were not designed to stifle diversity as much as they functioned to give a basic and broad bare agreement among diverse Christian groups. At Rhossus in the early second-century, the Bishop of Antioch, Serapion, was quite willing at first to allow the church there to use the Gospel of Peter in their private readings alongside more recognized texts, it was only after it was found to be congenial to docetic interpretation that he prohibited the document. But Serapion’s de fault response was to give the document the benefit of the doubt. Serapion never explicitly labels the Gospel of Peter as heretical, but merely states that it was conducive to docetic interpretation. The inclusion of the antilegomena (i.e. the disputed writings) in the canon shows that dispute about what writings were considered authoritative had elasticity and some Christians were willing to accept texts that they were not 100% sure about. In which case, we find both tolerance and boundaries functioning within the matrix of proto-orthodox Christianity. Those boundaries did not occur ex nihilio but were already emerging as part of the struggle of Christians to create and discover their own identity vis-à-vis Judaism and Paganism. Thus the proto-orthodox did not impose uniformity across the board, but they did set limits to diversity. What is more, those limits were not created by a numerically small elite that imposed their iron will upon the unwilling majority, but those boundaries were successful only because they resonated with the pre-existent beliefs, attitudes, and convictions of the majority of Christians across the Mediterranean."

© Michael F. Bird

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Loome Theological Booksellers

Karla and I are visiting some friends up in the Twin Cities (that's Minneapolis-St Paul for our non-Americans) this weekend--North Park had a fall break on Friday so it meant and extended weekend. We have very good friends who live outside Minneaopolis, Joel and Myndi Lawrence(they were DTS and Cambridge contemporaries and Joel now teaches theology at Bethel Seminary). In addition, Paul and Caroline Mathole, dear friends from Cambridge, are visiting the US and we all met up at the Lawrences.

Outside of the Twin cities is a little town called Stillwater. Stillwater sits on the banks of the St. Croix River which forms the border between Wisconsin and Minnesota. It is known for two things: antiques and second-hand books. Believe it or not in this small Minnesota town resides the largest second-hand theological book shop in the world: Loome Theological Booksellers. It possesses approximately 225,000 to 250,000 volumes in ares including biblical exegesis, patrisitic & mediaeval literature, Byzantine & Eastern Orthodox studies, liturgy & worship, sacred music, church art & architecture, religous biography & hagiography, Reformation & Recusancy, and Protestant & Catholic Americana.

It is no exaggeration to say that one could spend a weekend pursuing the shelves of the two buildings full of books. While I was only able to look for a few hours, I did find a handful of things I needed and many more I would have liked to have purchased.

It is worth the effort to visit Stillwater sometime. It could be a lovely weekend away as the little town on the shores of the St. Croix river offer an inviting and relaxing invitation. By the way, there is a cool Starbucks just a block from the bookshop which invites you to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee as you marvel over your discoveries.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Poem about Judas Iscariot

During a game of trivial pursuit I once came across a question which asked, "What colour hair did Judas Iscariot have?" I have read my Bible in and out and back to front and never come across the colour of Judas' hair. With great curiosity I flicked over the card and learnt, to my surprise, that the answer was "red". I spoke with Marvin Meyer in Budapest sometime ago and he confirmed to me the legend that Judas was a red-head. (For those that do not know me, you should know that I am a red-head).

Given the recent Judas frenzy with the publication of the Gospel of Judas and the several ensuing books by Marvin Meyer, Bart Ehrman, Tom Wright and (soon) Simon Gathercole, I thought I would include reference to a poem about Judas that I found in the book by Richard Bauckham and Trevor Hart called At the Cross.

In Hell there grew a Judas Tree
Where Judas hanged and died
Because he could not bear to see
His master crucified
Our Lord descended into Hell
And found his Judas there
For ever haning on the tree
Grown from his own despair
So Jesus cut his Judas down
And took him in his arms
"It was for this I came" he said
"And not to do you harm
My Father gave me twelve good men
And all of them I kept
Though one betrayed and one denied
Some fled and others slept
In three days' time I must return
To make the others glad
But first I had to come to Hell
And share the death you had
My tree will grow in place of yours
Its roots lie here as well
There is no final victory
Without this soul from Hell"
So when we all condemned him
As of every traitor worst
Remember that of all his men
Our Lord forgave him first

D. Ruth Etchells
Beirut, January 20, 1987

I'm not advocating the entire theological package here, but it's a nice poem and fits in snugly with the recent Judas frenzy of media and scholarly attention.

Job Offer: HTC Development Officer

Here at the Highland Theological College we are seeking a Development Officer to add to our staff.

The Development Officer will be responsible for student recruitment and for advertising and marketing our courses. The Development Officer will assist hte Prinicpal with fund-raising and development work, and will take on some general administrative tasks, including maintaining our database. The Development Officer will also be a point of contact for our supporters, including speaking at meetings, visiting churches and so on.
Please send applications to:

Mrs. Fiona Cameron, PA to the Principal of HTC, High St. Dingwall, IV15 9HA, Scotland, UK.

Latest issue of New Testament Studies (2006)

The latest issue of New Testament Studies includes the following articles:

Who Comes from the East and the West? Luke 13.28–29/Matt 8.11–12 and the Historical Jesus

Die Bedeutung der Synoptiker für das johanneische Zeugnisthema. Mit einem Anhang zum Perfekt-Gebrauch im vierten Evangelium.

Markion vs. Lukas: Plädoyer für die Wiederaufnahme eines alten Falles

Pagan Philosophers and 1 Thessalonians

Psychologische Einsichten Quintilians in der Institutio Oratoria

Pontius Pilate and the Imperial Cult in Roman Judaea

The Reading ‘Who Wished to Enter’ in Coptic Tradition: Matt 23.13, Luke 11.52, and ‘Thomas’ 39

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Death of James Barr

For those that don't know, James Barr, distinguished hebraist and biblical scholar who exposed grave flaws in the traditional approaches to philology and exegesis, passed away recently. You can read the obituary in the Times.

HT: Mark Goodacre

SWBTS and Speaking in Tongues

The Trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary of Forthworth, TX have voted to include a doctrinal statement effectively banning any faculty member or trustee from speaking in tongues even as a private prayer language (see BP News). The actual wording is that professors cannot "promote" practices such as speaking in tongues. That might sound ambiguous, but "promote" here has the obvious meaning of "admit to doing it", i.e. no member of SWBTS can admit to having a private prayer language. This is in response to a sermon preached by Dwight McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington where he admitted to speaking in tongues and took issue with the IMB for refusing to hire missionaries who did have a private prayer language.

HT: Denny Burk

Before I make an extended tirade on this point let me preface my thoughts with two points:

One: I'm not a Charsimatic, I don't speak in tongues and I'm not sure what to make of all that untie-my-bowtie-who-stole-my-honda stuff. Yet I'm not a cessationist either, so I'm open to what the Spirit will do in the life of other believers.

Two: I'm mad. I'm raging mad that an evangelicalesque institution would turn "private" prayer language, not tongues in public worship, but private prayer language into a make-or-break issue, an issue about what separates the good guys from the bad guys, an issue about who is wearing the white hats and who is wearing the black hats, an issue about who is of the Jedi and who is the Sith, and issue about what defies the bonds of fellowship and partnership.

On second thoughts, I won't go into my tirade, less I write in anger. But Joel Willitts and I are about to publish an essay (or perhaps manifesto might be a better description) called Solum Evangelium which is a call to make one's understanding and expression of the gospel the basis of fellowship and ministry partnership: it commeth! In the mean time if you're in a SBC church and if you're preaching this Sunday (sadly I'm not) this is what I BEG you to do: preach Galatians, the epistle of liberty and life in the Spirit. To those who would shackle and fetter us with the tyranny and bondage of neo-Fundamentalism I say let them hear the word that they fear to hear: Freedom. As Jesus said, "He has sent me to proclaim freedom to the captives"; as Paul says, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free!" As John says: "if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed"; Or even as Ernst Kasemann put it, "Jesus means Freedom"! So preach freedom, the freedom of Christ Jesus, the freedom of the Spirit over the letter, the freedom to differentiate between areas of conviction and areas of command. The freedom to major on the majors and to minor on the minors. The freedom to agree to disagree. The freedom to walk hand-in-hand with those whom you don't always see eye-to-eye with on every controversial topic. If you preach freedom in the face of the prayer-police they will accuse you of being a liberal-clauset-charismatic-democrat-voting-pseudo-evangelical-compromiser. In response, preach Galatians some more, preach it until they cover their ears and call down curses on you. Then preach Galatians again and again. And if they preach back at you with a gospel of Jesus + cessationism or Jesus + anything else, then you must out-preach them! Let the gospel of grace and liberty fall from your lips like in did in the days of John Owen, of John Knox and Jonathan Edwards. Make it clear that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with ALL of our brothers and sisters in Christ no matter what ecstatic utterances they pray in. At the end of the day, if one prays in tongues, he does so unto the Lord. If one does not pray in tongues, he still prays unto the Lord. But tongues or no tongues, we all pray to the same Lord, yours and mine, theirs and ours!

Update: see the post by Wade Burleson on the issue.

Soli Deo Gloria

Recent Travels around Scotland

I've been lucky of late to have had a few invitations to speak at various postgrad seminars around Scotland including New College, Edinburgh University and at St. Mary's College of St. Andrews University. My papers were respectively on "Jesus the Law-Breaker?" (Edinburgh) and "Sectarian Gospels for Sectarian Christians?" (St. Andrews). I had a wonderful time with many enagaging questions and discussions with faculty and students at each presentation. What I love about Scotland is the sense of collegiality between the Universities and, despite coming from a small Theological College part of a University-still-in-the-making, I was treated with great warmth and as a partner in a common enterprise. The many, many, many American Ph.D candidates around the Universities have made it very enjoyable too and I have enjoyed their hospitality and friendship (in fact, I count some of them of my closest friends in Scotland, esp. some of the lads in Aberdeen!). Yes, Scotland is definitely the place to either teach or learn Theology and Biblical studies!

The photos are of St. Andrews Cathedral in St. Andrews and John Knox's statue in New College.

Richard Bauckham's New Book

Last night I was reading some of Richard Bauckham's new book to my daughter - no, not Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (my six year old daughter Alexis is probably not up to that yet, we do work through the GNB though!) - I mean his "other" new book: The MacBears of Bearlock. A children's book written by Richard Bauckham about a bear family who live beside a loch in the north of Scotland. It seems like a good read for children, and it's certainly not as technical as some of his other works. Don't expect to find any encoded allusions to second-temple monotheism or a literary structure for Revelation hidden in the subtext. It is not an allegory in the C.S. Lewis style, but just a fun and adventursome story for children. Good clean fun with a bunch of Scottish bears trying to solve a mystery and keep everyone in the family happy at the same time!

For those interested it can be purchased at Amazon.uk for about £4.99 or about $7.00 (USD) + postage and handling. Your kids will love it! It's a good way to get them exposed to NT scholars at a young age. Who knows, maybe one day when they are grown up they'll be browsing through a book store and see Richard Bauckham's The Gospel for All Christians and will buy it thinking that it is a sequel by the same author to their favourite childhood book! Perhaps not. Anyway, I hope MacBears sells like a Harry Potter novel!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

John Stott on Evangelicalism

Over at Stuff of the Earth Michael Pahl has a good post on Bruce and Stott on Evangelicalism. It includes an interview with Stott from Christianity Today and shows that Stott is in essential agreement with the understanding of Evangelicalism as layed out by Bruce (see the post below).

Friday, October 13, 2006

F.F. Bruce on Evangelicalism

On Evangelicalism, Bruce writes:

"I cannot remember a time when I did not hold this to be the essence of the gospel [Jesus' sacrificial death], but questions which attached themselves to it in earlier days have apparently resolved themselves. It is for this reason that I am always happy to be called an evangelical, although I insist on being an unqualified evangelical. I do not willingly answer, for example, to such designations as 'conservative evangelical'. (Many of my positions are indeed conservative; but I hold them not because they are conservative - still less because I myself am conservative - but because I believe they are the positions to which the evidence leads). To believe in the God who justifies the ungodly is to be evangelical. On many points of New Testament criticism I find myself differing from such post-Bultmannians as Ernst Kasemann and Gunther Bornkamm, but critical differences become insignificant in the light of their firm understanding and eloquent exposition of the Pauline gospel of justification by faith, which is the very heart of evangelical Christiantiy. I deplore the misuse of the noble world 'evangelical' in a party sense. I emphasize this account of what it means to be evangelical because from time to time speakers or writers try to limit the scope of the word by imposing further conditions, as who should say: Unless you subscribe to b, c, and d in addition to a, you cannot be recognized as evangelical. All that this amounts to is that they are imposing their own 'pickwickian' sense on the word." (In Retrospect, pp. 309-10).

Amen, Brucey my Boy!

One thing for Bruce that gets repeated in his book is that faith, evangelical faith, is about "I know whom I have believed in" and not "I know what I have believed in".

Thursday, October 12, 2006

E.P. Sanders and Tendencies of the Synoptic Tradition

A new reprint of Sanders' classic book has just been released and is available at
Amazon.com for those interested.

Coincidentally, today was the day when I again taught the Synoptic Problem to my first year students - this is always an interesting day. The relevance of the topic always comes up as does the question of why God would give us Scripture in this way! And once again, after setting my students to study the Synoptic accounts of the parable of the mustard seed, most of them thought that the Farrer-Goulder-Goodacre theory had the most mileage!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

F.F. Bruce on ETS

"On another visit to America I participated in the twenty-fifth anniversary conference of the Evangelical Theological Society, held in Wheaton College, Illinois, in the last week of December 1973. For its silver jubilee the Society invited two foreign guests - Dr. Howard Marshall of Aberdeen and myself. Our contributions with published in the proceedings of the conference, New Dimensions in New Testament Study, edited by R.N. Longenecker and M.C. Tenney (1974) ... The Evangelical Theological Society strikes me as being a more conservative body than the Tyndale Fellowship in this country, but there is a maturity of scholarship in the twenty-odd papers in this volume which augurs well for the progress of the society during the next quarter of a century."

F.F. Bruce, In Retrospect, p. 241.

Is this a compliment or a polite jibe at ETS?

C. Kavin Rowe - Early Narrative Christology

Those into Lucan studies should take note of this book by C. Kavin Rowe of Duke University. I've only read the conclusion, but it seems like an informative read.

Early Narrative Christology
The Lord in the Gospel of Luke
Beihefte zur Zeitschrift fur die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft - BZNW 139
by C. Kavin Rowe

Despite the striking frequency with which the Greek word kyrios, Lord, occurs in Luke's Gospel, this study is the first comprehensive analysis of Luke's use of this word. The analysis follows the use of kyrios in the Gospel from beginning to end in order to trace narratively the complex and deliberate development of Jesus' identity as Lord. Detailed attention to Luke's narrative artistry and his use of Mark demonstrates that Luke has a nuanced and sophisticated christology centered on Jesus' identity as Lord.

Available from Eisenbrauns here.

How effective was the birkat ha-minim

The birkat ha-minim was the curse on Christians added to the eighteen benedictions at Yavneh and was important in the expulsion of Christians from Jewish synagogues, e.g. John 9:22 (so the story goes), but how far ranging and how effective was such a curse:

"If the intent of the blessing was to exclude Christians from the synagogue, it failed. It failed in third-century Caesarea, where Origen preached on Sunday to Christians he knew were in synagogue the day before, and it failed in the late fourth-century Antioch where John Chrysostom condemned his flock for their visits to the synagogues at a time when the empire was already Christian."

Martha Himmelfarb, "The Parting of the Ways Reconsidered: Diversity in Judaism and Jewish Christian Relations in the Roman Empire: 'A Jewish Perspective'," in Interwoven Destines: Jews and Christians Through the Ages, ed. Eugene J. Fisher (New York: Paulist, 1993), p. 49.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Anti-Judaism, Anti-Semitism, and Anti-Zionism: What's the difference?

Paula Fredriksen writes:

Is anti-Judaism, then, the same as anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism? I do not think so. The first is a theological position; the second, a racist one; the third, a political one.

Paul Fredriksen, "The Birth of Christianity and the Origins of Christian Anti-Judaism," in Paula Fredriksen and Adele Reinhartz (eds.), Jesus, Judaism and Christian Anti-Judaism: Reading the New Testament after the Holocaust (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 2002), 28.

In this sense I would say that certain documents in the NT (esp. John, Hebrews and Matthew) could be said to be anti-Judaistic (i.e. they reinterpret the Jewish tradition so as to produce a theological break from it) but they are not anti-semitic.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

F.F. Bruce on Faith and Academia

Here's a classic quote from F.F. Bruce:

I am sometimes asked if I am aware of a tension between my academic study of the Bible and my approach to the Bible in personal or church life. I am bound to say that I am aware of no such tension. Throughout my career as a university teacher I have also discharged a teaching ministry in my local church and occasionally in other churches. Naturally, when I discharge a teaching ministry in church I avoid the technicalities of academic discourse and I apply the message of Scripture in a more practical way. But there is no conflict between my critical or exegetical activity in a university context and my Bible exposition in church; the former makes a substantial contribution to the latter. At the same time, membership in a local church, involvement in the activities of a worshipping community, helps the academic theologian to remember what his subject is all about, and keeps his studies properly 'earthed'. One constantly hears complaints nowadays, among Catholics and Protestants alike, of the widening gap between scholars' understanding of Scripture and the use made of it by 'ordinary' Christians. The gap would not be so wide, I am sure, if more scholars were to involve themselves in the day-to-day life of a local church and communicate the fruits of their scholarship to their fellow church members in a form which the latter could assimilate. I have known some distinguished scholars who did this, to their own enrichment as well as the enrichment of the others.

F.F. Bruce, In Retrospect, pp. 143-44.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Data Sheet on Messianic Expectation

Glen Miller of Christian Think Tank has a good hand out on Jewish messianic expectation in the second-temple period. I haven't checked all of his references, but it looks kosher.

Also, does anyone know of a reference from Philo where crowds in Alexandria mock the hope of a Jewish ruler who was to come and reign over the world? I thought it was in Embassy to Gaius, but I can't find it.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

F.F. Bruce's Biography

I am currently reading through the biography of F.F. Bruce In retrospect: Remembrance of things past. It's a cracking read. In a footnote, Bruce writes about one anonymous chap: "This good man in later years described me as an 'ecclesiastical liberal'; I suspect he meant it as a criticism, but I welcomed it as a compliment" (p. 27). Even Brucie got called a liberal! Maybe some of us aren't in such bad company afterall.

See here and here for a review of the book.

The New Testament in Christian Hymns

Ever wondered what verses in the NT appear in what Christian hymns? Then check out the list at Cyber Hymnal. For instance, you can find the great Christian hymns that contain quotes from or allusions to Galatians or Hebrews or Daniel. When you click on a song it gives you the lyrics and plays the music as well!

Hebrews and Catholicity

What Hebrews may lack in apostolicity it makes up for in catholicity. Consider the following quote from Jerome:

The Epistle which is inscribed to the Hebrews is received not only by the Churches of the East, but also by all Church writers of the Greek language before our days, as of Paul the apostle, though many think it is from Barnabas or Clement. And it makes no difference whose it is, since it is from a churchman, and is celebrated in the daily readings of the Churches. (Epist. 129)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

New Books from T&T Clark

The following books stood out in the Dove Booksellers list:

Westfall, Cynthia Long
Discourse Analysis of the Letter to the Hebrews: The Relationship between Form and Meaning
(T & T Clark International, 2006)

Tonstad, Sigve K
Saving God's Reputation: The Theological Function of Pistis Iesou in the Cosmic Narratives of Revelation
(T & T Clark International, 2006)

Taylor, Mark E
Text-Linguistic Investigation Into the Discourse Structure of James
(T & T Clark International, 2006)

Slee, Michelle
Church in Antioch in the First Century, CE: Communion and Conflict
(T & T Clark International, 2006)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Robert Gundry reviews Bart Ehrman

Over at Evangelical Textual Criticism I have posted a link to Robert Gundry's review of Ehrman.