Sunday, November 29, 2009

Getting High on NT Christology

The "Early High Christology Club" (i.e., Hengel, Hurtado, Bauckham) have argued that 1. Jewish monotheism was strict, 2. In the first twenty-years of the church some momentous developments happened in christology that resulted in Jesus being identified with the God of Israel and incorporated into patterns of religious devotion normally reserved for YHWH. In contrast, scholars such as James Dunn, Maurice Casey, and James Crossley have argued that we have to wait until the Gospel of John (e.g., 1.1, 8.58) before we encounter any christological beliefs in Jesus' identity that genuinely transgresses what was acceptable in the first century Jewish monotheism . However, some are now contesting whether Johannine christology (from the Gospel and Revelation) really go so far as to include Jesus within the identity of God, or simply place Jesus in an exalted and divine state beside God. I've already noted the arguments of A.Y. Collins that the Johannine materials present Jesus as the most eminent created being (was Arius right afterall?). Now James McGrath in his book The Only True God: Early Christian Monotheism in Its Jewish Context, contents that:

1. In the Fourth Gospel - "The claim that Jesus was the Messiah, God's supreme agent, was clearly a sticking oint between Christians and non-Christian Jews, and the group whose traditions and experiences are reflected in the Gospel of John are no exception. However, it seems that it was not the things that were said that were in themselves provocative and controversial in the abstract. Rahter, what was really at issue was the fact taht these things were said about Jesus. Similar language applied to an even, or even to a huan being was was universally accepted within Judaism as having been divinely appointed and sent, did not provoke this sort of controversy. This simple fact makes clear that what was at issue was not hte idea of the Logos, nor the idea of a divine agent bearing the divine name, but the claim that Jesus was such a figure" (pp. 68-69).

2. In Revelation: "The inclusion of God's appointed representative alongside God as recipient of praise is noteworthy, but it is neither unique nor without precedent. Such a development was foreseen to a certaiin extent and was perhaps even to be expected as a response to the appearance of God's agent in the realization of his eschatological salvation ... And so the depiction of Christ in the Book of Revelation represents a development within the context of Jewish monotheism rather than a development away from Jewish devotion to the only one God" (p. 76).

Several criticims could be made here (James McGrath and Michael Whitenton had an exchange over this I believe) and I'll leave it to others to examine McGrath's points.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Emendations in Modern Versions of the LXX

As I continue to work through 1 Esdras, I've noticed that at certain points in the Rahlfs-Hanhart and Gottingen (also the work of Hanhart) editions, that conjectural emendations are preferred for several names at certain points. For instance, in 1 Esdr 2.12 (15), Hanhart prefers the conjecture of J.A. Brewer who opts for Beslemos despite the fact that Belemos is attested by both Alexandrinus and Vaticanus (see bishlam Ezra 4.7). Nothing in the text cries out for an emendation and there are several alternative spellings that could have been used if the witness of the two major codices was deemed inaccurate. Moral of the story - make sure that you read the apparatus of the LXX!!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Origen on Gospel Harmonization

In his Commentary on John (10.2), Origen says this about harmonizations of discrepencies between the Gospels:

"The truth of these matters must lie in that which is seen by the mind. If the discrepancy between the Gospels is not solved, we must give up our trust in the Gospels, as being true and written by a divine spirit, or as records worthy of credence, for both these characters are held to belong to these works. Those who accept the four Gospels, and who do not consider that their apparent discrepancy is to be solved anagogically (by mystical interpretation), will have to clear up the difficulty, raised above, about the forty days of the temptation, a period for which no room can be found in any way in John's narrative; and they will also have to tell us when it was that the Lord came to Capernaum. If it was after the six days of the period of His baptism, the sixth being that of the marriage at Cans of Galilee, then it is clear that the temptation never took place, and that He never was at Nazara, and that John was not yet delivered up. Now, after Capernaum, where He abode not many days, the passover of the Jews was at hand, and He went up to Jerusalem, where He cast the sheep and oxen out of the temple, and poured out the small change of the bankers. In Jerusalem, too, it appears that Nicodemus, the ruler and Pharisee, first came to Him by night, and heard what we may read in the Gospel. "After these things, Jesus came, and His disciples, into the land of Judaea, and there He tarried with them and baptized, at the same time at which John also was baptizing in AEnon near Salim, because there were many waters there, and they came and were baptized; for John was not yet cast into prison." On this occasion, too, there was a questioning on the part of John's disciples with the Jews about purification, and they came to John, saying of the Saviour. "Behold, He baptizeth, and all come to Him." They had heard words from the Baptist, the exact tenor of which it is better to take from Scripture itself. Now, if we ask when Christ was first in Capernaum, our respondents, if they follow the words of Matthew, and of the other two, will say, After the temptation, when, "leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum by the sea." But how can they show both the statements to be true, that of Matthew and Mark, that it was because He heard that John was delivered up that He departed into Galilee, and that of John, found there, after a number of other transactions, subsequent to His stay at Capernaum, after His going to Jerusalem, and His journey from there to Judaea, that John was not yet cast into prison, but was baptizing in Aenon near Salim? There are many other points on which the careful student of the Gospels will find that their narratives do not agree; and these we shall place before the reader, according to our power, as they occur. The student, staggered at the consideration of these things, will either renounce the attempt to find all the Gospels true, and not venturing to conclude that all our information about our Lord is untrustworthy, will choose at random one of them to be his guide; or he will accept the four, and will consider that their truth is not to be sought for in the outward and material letter."

ETS/IBR/SBL 2009 Reflections, Part Two

Continuing the reflections on the annual meetings I attended last week, I want to summarize the lecture Tremper Longman gave at the opening meeting of IBR on Friday night.

The title of the paper was "Of the Making of Commentaries There is No End: The Past, Present, and Future of a Genre”. In the lecture Tremper argued that writing new commentaries is an important and necessary endeavor. To be honest, I was surprised at this perspective given the oft stated remark, "Not another commentary!" I thought he would trumpet the elitest view that commentaries are a waste of scholarly energy.

Given that I am currently under contract for two commentaries, Tremper's argument was relevant to me. So for all you commentary naysayers here is Tremper's seven reasons for writing new commentaries.
  1. Advances in knowledge
  2. New methods and prespectives
  3. Competing interpretations
  4. Human finitude
  5. Reading in community(s)
  6. Changing context(s)
  7. Different readerships: clergy and laity
Some of these categories seem to blur into one another, but there is enough here to make the point that new commentaries are a necessary function of evangelical scholarship especially those written for the clergy and lay folks. I think Tremper was correct to express hesitation about commentaries for a scholarly audience. I personally don't think that we need a Davies and Allison type Matthew commentary every handful of years.

One other interesting element was Tremper's less than sanguine view of the Brazos's Commentary series. I would concur with his coolness . I reviewed the Matthew volume by Hauerwas. While I found it spiritually enriching, it was only loosely connected to Matthew. I wondered at times if he actually needed the Matthean text for the book. If a theological commentary works, it must engage closely with the text and its context. The text should not be a pretext for a theological perpsective that would have otherwise existed without the Matthean text.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Review of France's Matthew, Part Two

The Significance of Matthew’s Geographical Interest
Although one may quibble with where France perceives the major geographical shift the more substantive question is what does Matthew make of the geography? After providing what France hopes is not “a complete caricature” of Galilee, he affirms the prevailing view that the north-south divide is ideological in Matthew. Taking his cues of course from Mark’s narrative structure, Matthew has “enhanced the ideology he found in his Markan source”. France believes then that Matthew presents confrontation between the northern prophet and the southern establishment of Judea. As evidence he presents the label “Nazarene” from 2:23 in which he detects a “dismissive tone of a superior Judean observer. When Jesus arrives in Jerusalem, Matthew records both the comments of the people of the city (21:10-11) and what he characterizes as “two rival teams of Galileans and Judeans” who are “starkly opposed in their attitudes” to Jesus (7). Peter, whom France characterizes as “distinctive a northerner as his master” is noticed as a potential follower of Jesus the Galilean in 26:69. Most significantly for France is the Gospel’s climax taking place not in the “holy city”, but in Galilee. Galilee not Jerusalem is the place where the messianic mission is launched. This evidence then for France reveals “a Galilee/Jerusalem schema” (7).

While I applaud France’s appreciation of Matthew’s geographical theology, I find his understanding of its importance unsatisfying. A purely north-south divide cannot to my mind explain many of the territorial additions found in Matthew (e.g. 4:12-17; see comments below).

Author, Date, Setting, and Synoptic Relationships
Notable points on these issues are as follows:
  • France “softly” advocates the traditional view that the author of Matthew is the Apostle.
  • France has a more sophisticated understanding of the situation on the ground in early Christianity that makes the questions of extra muros or intra muros even more difficult to ascertain or better perhaps simply anachronistic. A clear break between Judaism and Christianity is a much later phenomenon that was a gradual process. He states “The specific point of ‘explosion’ in relation to which the situation of the Matthean community has commonly been assessed seems to me more a modern scholarly simplification than a realistic account of the likely pattern of relations between Jews and Christians in the first century” (16).
  • France thinks the view, advocated most distinctly by D. Sim, that Matthew’s gospel was composed by an exclusively Jewish community (i.e. not mixed: Jews and Gentiles) whose interests, at least at the time of composition, were not focused on mission to the Gentiles is merely a passing fade. His doubt is not well disguised in his dismissive comment that the “trend . . . coheres well with currently fashionable attempt[s] to reclaim the historical Jesus for Judaism and to play down the extent of his challenge to scribal tradition” (17). Further, he accuses such interpretations as being as “one-sided in its reading of the evidence” as its opposite position on the question. He concludes: “I suspect that a commentary written in twenty year’s time would not feel obliged to give it so much attention” (17).
  • France believes that the Matthean community is both “inside” and “outside” the Judaism of the late first century given its convictions about the person of Jesus of Nazareth and its inclusion of Gentiles within its borders as well as the rejection of such ideas by the traditional Jewish institutions. Thus, he concludes, “Matthew portrays a new community which is both faithful to its scriptural heritage and open to the new directions demanded by Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of heaven, and therefore necessarily expanding beyond the bounds of the Jewish people” (18).
  • France finds the pillars upon which the consensus of scholarly opinion regarding the date of Matthew to be suspect. While not seeing it of “great exegetical importance”, he nevertheless “favors” the position that Matthew was written in the sixties while the temple was still standing (19).
  • France employs a modified and chastened approach to the question of synoptic relationships. He believes in the priority of Mark, but advocates a perspective of the process of composition as much more “fluid” than has been the case. This fluidity would allow for “the process of mutual influence between various centers of Christian gospel writing” (21). Where he thinks Mark’s most influential on especially Matthew is in the narrative structure “with a single journey of Jesus from north to south” (21). As for the Q hypothesis, France has little sympathy. Although happy to suggest Q tradition, the specificity with which scholars today speak of the “Q community” and “recensions of Q” leave him “cold” (22). In this light, France describes his approach:
    I am more reluctant than many other interpreters to speak simply of how Matthew has “redacted” Mark’s material or to attempt in Q material to discern how Matthew has “adapted” the common tradition. I regard the Marcan and Lucan parallels as other witnesses to the traditions Matthew had available, but not necessarily as his direct sources. Where he differs from them, it may be because he is deliberately altering the tradition as they have recorded it, but it may also be because he has received the tradition in a rather different form. This commentary will therefore call attention to differences between the Synoptic accounts where they help to highlight the distinctive contribution of Matthew, but without always assuming direct dependence and therefore deliberate alternation of an already formulated tradition. (22).
My general impression is that France has a common-sense approach to the higher critical issues and methodology that is commendable. However, I regard his dismissal of the growing perspective of the Jewishness of Matthew’s community(s), represented by Sim, as off the mark.

New Commentary Series

Scot McKnight notes the launch of a new commentary series by Zondervan called Regula Fidei. Scot is the senior editor with Lynn Cohick (Wheaton), Joel Willitts (North Park Uni), and me (Bible College of Queensland) as the associate editors. The best way to describe what the series will be like is a cross between the NIVAC series and Scot's book the Blue Parakeet. Its distinctive features include orienting the text to the "Big Story" of Scripture and dedicating 50% of the commentary to how we "live the story". I'm slated to do Romans (whoa, I know!), Joel is doing Galatians, Lynn is doing Philippians, and Scot is doing a volume on the Sermon on the Mount. I'd love to say more of who we have but committments are not on paper just yet. But there are lots of young and up and coming scholars from the USA and Australia nominated for the roles (Brits need not apply!). There's a cohort of Aussies involved including John Dickson (Centre for Public Christianity) and probably one other chap from the antipodes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Review of France's Matthew, Part One

I will be excerpting sections of my review of R. T. France's The Gospel of Matthew (New International Commentary on the New Testament) in a series of posts. Here is the first installment.

R. T. France’s commentary on Matthew is a significant contribution simply in its size: a massive 1117 pages of introduction and commentary—with emphasis squarely on the latter as the introduction is a brief 22 pages. Much more than that however, France’s Matthew is the fruit of a life of labor toiling in the field of the Gospels more generally and Matthew specifically. Whatever weaknesses one may think it has, are significantly outweighed by its overall strength. One will go away from the commentary not only with a greater understanding of the First Gospel, but more importantly in my view with a greater passion for following its central character. Lay folks and scholars alike will find France’s commentary a useful guide to apprehending Matthew’s message. It will no doubt take its place alongside the few other evangelical Matthew commentaries that are widely consulted within the field.

This review will be extremely selective and admittedly superficial—but how does one do justice to such a tome in such a short presentation? The purpose of my study was to take some soundings of France’s commentary to grasp a sense of his reading of Matthew. I will proceed through the commentary sequentially dealing first with introductory matters and proceeding through the commentary proper. Then I will discuss interpretive issues that I found to be interesting or curious in what I deem to be key Matthean passages: (1) the genealogy Matt 1:1—17, (2) the introduction of Galilean mission (4:12-17), (3) the fulfillment of the Torah (5:17-20), (3) the parable of the vineyard (21:33-44), and (4) the mission statements (10:6; 28:19-20). This seemed to be the most useful strategy given France’s own words to potential reviews. He wrote:

I have noticed that reviews of biblical commentaries often focus on the introduction rather than undertaking the more demanding task of reading and responding to the commentary itself. Potential reviewers of this commentary who hope to use that convenient shortcut will, I fear, be disappointed (1)

Matthew’s Structure & Outline
One thing that immediately stands out to me in the introduction is France’s understanding of the structure of the Gospel. He argues, in contrast to most modern commentaries, that Matthew has structured his Gospel geographically. Following Mark, Matthew organized Jesus’ story within a geographical framework. He writes, “This geographical outline of the story seems to me a more satisfying basis for discerning its narrative structure than the search for verbal division markers” (4). He comments further,

To read the Gospel of Matthew as a continous [sic] narrative, structured around the geographical progress of the Messiah from his Galilean homeland to his rejection in Jerusalem, with its final triumphant scene back home in Galilee, is to begin to appreciate its power as a work of literature, no simply as a source for theological or historical data” (2007: 4-5).

In France’s earlier work, Matthew: Evangelist and Teacher, he notes that “references to Jesus’ geographical movements punctuate Matthew’s narrative even more clearly than Mark’s” giving the following as evidence: Matthew 3:13; 4:12-16; 4:23-25; 9:35; 11:1; 14:13; 15:21; 15:29; 15:39; 16:13; 16:21; 17:22; 19:1; 20:17-18; 20:29; 21:1 (1989: 151).

France’s outline of the Gospel, then, is as follows:
I. Introducing the Messiah (1:1—4:11)
II. Galilee: the Messiah revealed in word and deed (4:12—16:20)
III. From Galilee to Jerusalem: the Messiah and his followers prepare for the confrontation (16:21—20:34)
IV. Jerusalem: the Messiah in confrontation with the religious authorities (21:1—25:46)
V. Jerusalem: the Messiah rejected, killed, and vindicated (26:1—28:15)
VI. Galilee: the Messianic mission is launched (28:16-20)

While this geographical structure is a significant development and represents a turning back to a much earlier understanding of the Gospel’s structure (see for example Allen), one may ask why France sees a narrative turn at 16:21 since no major geographical move has happened. The next geographical statement of structural consequence comes rather in 19:1: “he left Galilee and went to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan River”. This is the first time in the narrative since 4:12 that Jesus is said to be moving to Judea.

Monday, November 23, 2009

ETS/IBR/SBL 2009 Reflections, Part One

I am sitting in the airport trying to get back to Chicago after a good week at both ETS and SBL. I accidentally got myself involved in two sessions at ETS so I attended the whole three days. I offered a paper on Thursday entitled: "Is the mission of Jesus universal in the Fourth Gospel? And Are the Gentiles in John?". This was meant to be a provocative look at the question of the purpose of the Gospel in view of John 11:49-53 and the less than explicit references to Gentiles in the Gospel. This is something I've been thinking about for some time and I think is a set of questions worth exploring.

The second session I was involved in was in the Synoptic Gospels session on Friday afternoon. The topic was recent commentaries on Matthew and Mark. I was asked to review R.T. France's commentary. I will make it available for the blog in the very near future. It was a great time as I mucked it up with Ben Witherington, Darrell Bock, Nick Perrin and others. The session as a whole was rather laborious when I wasn't involved, but the discussion at the end was good fun.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Off to SBL in New Orleans

I'm currently in Charlotte, NC (using free wifi thanks to Google) enroute to New Orleans, the "Big Easy" for SBL. Joel Willitts is already there. I'm not doing any papers this year as I'm there mainly to attend meetings and soak in some jazz music. My biggest anxiety is whether to go to Tom Wright's lecture on Justification on Sunday night, or else, attend the NT Theology session with J.D.G. Dunn, U. Schnelle, and D.A. Carson on at the same time. That's a hard pick, but I'll probably go for the latter. Also, I'm told by Hendrickson that the Faith of Jesus Christ book is literally flying out. So make sure you buy your copy before they sell out - and for the record, I predict they will sell out - it's a cracker-lacking book that is gucci to the max!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Christ Centred Interpretation Only?

Earlier I posted on Jason Hood's article about "Christ Centred Interpretation Only?" published in SBET. As a follow up, in the latest issue of CT, Colin Hansen has a piece on "Christ-Centred Cautions" that highlights Hood's concerns that Christ Centred preaching can denigrate those who preach a message of moral exhoration from Scripture. Hood's concern is that Jesus and the biblical authors themselves use Scripture for a great deal of moral exhortation. Hood accepts the premise that Christ is the centre of Scripture and rejects crass moralizations. But there is no escaping the fact that much of the NT use of the OT focuses on moral exhortation.

A few other thoughts:

1. While it might sound a bit neat, there is clearly a "both/and" balance here. Undoubtedly when NT authors and the Church Fathers came to a biblical text they brought with them the story of Scripture itself, they read the Bible christocentically, because the Bible explicitly told them to (e.g., Luke 24:27; John 5:45-47; Rom 10:4, etc.). And yet we should also read the Bible ecclesiocentrically because we are supplied with the example of this as well. How much of the NT's use of the OT talks about the church in the context of its coming into existence, warnings from Isael's past, and its hostility with the world around it (e.g., Romans 9-11!). In my mind 1 Corinthians 10 shows both elements since in 10.4 we see that the rock that followed Israel in the wilderness was "Christ" and then in 10.11 the wilderness narrative was written "as warnings for us on whom the end of ages had come". In fact, Richard Hays argues that the ecclesiocentric element is more prolific than the christocentric element in Paul.

2. In certain Reformed circles it is common to see the necessary application of every sermon to be, somehow, about the Law vs. Gospel distinction. This seems like an odd thing to interject into every sermon. Yes, Gal 3:12, "The Law is not of faith", but let's note also Rom 3:27 with the "law of faith" and by faith "we uphold the Law". There is undoubtedly two epochs of Law and Christ (Gal. 3.10-14 and Rom. 3.21), but they are part of a single story in which there are continuities and discontinuities and focusing on the discontinuities seems like an odd thing to trump out twice on Sunday.

3. As someone who preaches a fair bit around the traps, I tend to think that the goal of preaching is transformation. Transformation in terms of conforming our minds to the Word of God and conforming our lives to the pattern of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Paul Helm on J.I. Packer

Bucking the fashionable trend in some circles to denigrate J.I. Packer as too broad a churchman, Paul Helm has written a piece that gives a sympathetic non-conformist perspective on J.I. Packer.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Martin Bucer and the Tetrapolitan Confession

I have a great affection for Martin Bucer in his attempt to reconcile Lutheran and Reformed views in Germany and he was his "own man" in many respects when it came to theology. After much hunting around (and it took alot of hunting) I finally found a copy of his Tetrapolitan Confession at Google Books. Not only is there no mention of imputation, but it also says this about good works:

"But since they who are the children of God are led by the Spirit of God, rather than that they act themselves (Rom 8:14), and 'of him, and through him, and to him, are all things' (Rom 11:36), whatsoever things we do well and holily are to be ascribed to none other than to this one only Spirit, the Giver of all virtues. However it be, he does not compel us, but leads us, being willing, working in us to both will and to do (Phil 2:12). Hence Augustine writes wisely that God rewards his own works in us. By this we are so far from rejecting good works that we utterly deny that any one can be saved unless by Christ's Spirit he be brought thus far, that there be in him no lack of good works, for which God has created in him".

Is this a confession of faith that Tom Wright could sign up to since it invokes Wrights' concern about the Spirit in the Christian life?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Catholic Epistles, Theology of

I've written earlier about the task of considering, writing, and even applying a theology of the Apostolos (= Acts + General Epistles). I'm glad to see more attention given to the canonical function of the General Epistles as a whole in the following works:

Peter H. Davids, “The Catholic Epistles as Canonical Janus: A New Testament glimpse into Old and New Testament Canon Formation,” BBR 19.3 (2009): 403-16.

David R. Nienhuis, Not by Paul Alone: The Formation of the Catholic Epistles and the Christian Canon (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2007).

Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr and Robert W. Wall (eds.), Catholic Epistles and Apostolic Tradition (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2009).

I think this is a new and mostly uncharted sphere of research!

Theology of the Cross

My recently viva'd student, Jason Hood, has written a number of articles on the cross and evangelical theology. The first one is published in WTJ and is available on-line as The Cross in the New Testament: Two Theses in Conversation with Recent Studies (2000-2007). On the second one, Patrick Schreiner offers a good review of Hood's article on "Christ-Centered Interpretation Only?" published in SBET (2009).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Writing like Dostovesky or Lucado

Writing has always been a struggle for me both at the level of production (amount) and quality (style). Once I was told by a professor in my doctoral program that my writing was Schlecht (which for you non-German readers means bad or poor!) and that I would need to ratchet it up several notches if I were to succeed in academia.

I appreciated that the professor thought that academic writing should have both excellent research and literary qualities. If you read dissertations you will realize quickly the lack of emphasis on the latter. His prescription to my writing foibles was to read 19th century novels to gain a sense of style required for excellent academic writing. So I took the first summer of my Ph.D. to read a couple of Dostoevsky novels: the Idiot and Brothers Karamasov. It was a great experience for an person who has read very little classic literature (I hated English in High School and avoided it in College as much as I could). While I would not claim that my thesis is of a high literary quality to say the least (please!), don't be surprise if you find traces of the style of the English translation of Dostoevsky.

Recently, I have been attempting to write for a wider audience (interested laity) and I have struggled to write in a way that avoids complex and pregnant sentences--the stuff of good German and 19th century literary style. One older and wiser mentor suggested to me recently that I need to read Max Lucado. Truth be told many years ago (probably a couple of decades ago) I read almost everything Lucado had written. However, when my friend recommend this to me--and his recommendation was perhaps tongue-in-cheek--I balked: Max Lucado are you kidding that is like one step above Joel Osteen. Still as I reflected on his recommendation, it made me realize that when I write for the church that is exactly the kind of voice I need to hear rolling around in my head as I am constructing thoughts in sentences. So, in the short term, I'll be putting down War and Peace and picking up Cast of Charaters.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Richard Mouw on the Covenanters

Richard Mouw (President of Fuller Seminary) has a great little post about the Scottish Covenanters and reflections on what they mean for us today. Very relevant for those of us living in Scotland!

Congrats to Jason Hood

Congratulations to Jason Hood (Memphis, USA) for successfully defending his Ph.D thesis on "The Story of Israel in Matthew’s Genealogy of Jesus: With Special Reference to the Function of Biblical Genealogies". It was examined by Hector Morrison (HTC/UHI) and Paul Foster (Edinburgh Uni). Jason is no longer a padawan, he is now a fully fledged Jedi Neutestamentler!

Reviews of Doug Campbells Deliverance of God

Andy Rowell has usefully collated a series of early reviews of Doug Campbell's big book The Deliverance of God. I'm hoping to read it very soon myself, just as soon as I finish reading Jimmy Dunn's tome Beginning from Jerusalem!

Reformation & Revival Articles

Robert Bradshaw has gradually been posting up whole issues of the journal Reformation & Revival (now superseded by the on-line Advancing the Christian Tradition). In the latest batch are a cohort of articles on "Eschatology," "New Covenant," and "Justification" that contain a great many good pieces with consulting.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Friday, November 06, 2009

A. Andrew Das on Rom 4.4-5

Note this recent article A. Andrew Das, "Paul and Works of Obedience in Second Temple Judaism: Romans 4:4-5 as 'New Perspective' Case Study," CBQ 71.4 (2009): 795-812. In this piece Das seeks a middle ground on the NPP debate (and the angels cried Hallelujah!) noting that some erroneously miss perspectives about God's empowering grace in Judaism, while others oddly miss the many demands for strict and perfect obedience as well. He concludes:

"New Perspective interpreters such as Dunn and Wright have correctly highlighted the abandoment of Jewish ethnocentrism in Paul's letters, but their central claim that his critique of the Law is limited to ethnocentrism does not withstand scrutiny. The Jews considered observance of the Law's works to be a necessary accompaniment of God's gracious election of the people. Second Temple literature praised those who were exemplary in their obedience, especially Abraham. Paul's convictions prevent him from recognizing the validity of works that proceed apart from the gracious framework of God's activity in Jesus Christ. The Apostle has sundered strict obedience from God's election and mercy toward ethnic Israel. Romans 7:7-25 can therefore describe teh futile struggle to obey what the Law requires. One searches in vain in 7:7-25 for an atoning mechanism that availa for sin apart form Christ (vv. 24-25). Paul may therefore speak of empty "works" or human exertion in contrast to grace as a warrant for why the works of the Law needlessly divide humanity. An adequate 'new perspective' must account for the Apostle's critique of works considered apart form God's grace in Christ."

Sheffield University at CT

The attempt at closing the Biblical Studies department at Sheffield University saw a wide and varied coalition of folks come together to strenuously object to the closure. Over at CT is an article about the kerfuffle. See also James Crossley's response to remarks by BW3 cited in the article.

Living the Old Testament World

Check out this video by Zondervan on John Walton and the new Zondervan Illustrated Background Bible Commentary. It scores a 12.4 on the "craic-o-meter".

CEB - Gospel of Matthew

The forthcoming Common English Bible has released its first excerpt and it features a translation of the Gospel of Matthew. Probably the most interesting "new" thing is that ho uious tou anthropou, normally translated as "the Son of Man", in the CEB is rendered as "the Human One".

HT: Doug Chaplin

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Knowledge of God and Known by God

1 Cor 8:3 states, "but anyone who loves God is known by him," and based on this Richard Hays writes:

“The initiative in salvation comes from God, not from us. It is God who loves us first, God who elects us and delivers us from the power of sin and death. Therefore what counts is not so much our knowledge of God as God’s knowledge of us” (Richard Hays, First Corinthians, 138).