Link of the day
Guy has written a superb list comparing Fundamentalism and the Reformed Faith.
Guy has written a superb list comparing Fundamentalism and the Reformed Faith.
Jim West (who continues to call me Satan) has just posted about the striking resemblance between Professor Keith Whitelam, of the University of Sheffield, and Jimmy Carter! Amazingly, when looking at this picture of Zwlingli, and also this picture today, I too found a striking resemblance.
Here they are - side by side. You decide.
'[If the young and foolish are] straining after beat music and pop culture and all this kind of garbage they ain't born again'
- This gentleman's comment on the emerging church!
Blue books fill my shelf, inviting to be devoured
Have you ever bothered looking through the contents of Godtube? It's appears to be a Christian type of Youtube, and I'll be upfront: I much prefer the latter.
My thanks to Scott Bailey (http://scotteriology.wordpress.com/) for surprising me this morning with an e-mail with the above graphic attached! That man has skill!
Still, some explanation is in order. On the very left we have Calvin who is either
The truth would perhaps involve something of all three.
Next to Tom Wright is none other than Barth who looks like he's just been told that Brunner accidently fell into a vat of chicken poo.
Coming next, and blasphemously appearing prominently covered with a glow of heavenly filling glory, is a grinning idiot.
To my right, and Jim, the following sentences are for your benefit, is Zwingers. As he turns to me, light is prophetically being cast on the bible as he reads it. He's whispering, 'please tell me more oh much wiser-than-me-one'. (He's also chewing on a protestant sausage).The grinning glory boy is thus appropriately standing and shining in authority over the wee got-all-his-ideas-from-Luther reformer. (I figure if Jim is gonna call me the devil anyway, I might as well earn it)
To the right of Zwingli is Luther looking like he's taking everything far too seriously. He's got his 'I'm not amused' face on and needs a good tickle. Rumour has it, he just read this before the painting was made.
To Luther's right is Bultmann who has the classic 'I didn't just fart (but I secretly know I just did)' look on his face.
You are an open book to me, Herr Bultmann.
That's why Bonheoffer, at the very right, is looking a bit pensive.
"As to that other wicked Brit living in Tübingen- well, he's on his own ... you too can be snatched from the flaming, fiery, Chris Tilling filled pits of hellish torment"
No need to mention out who wrote that.
As promised, here is Bauckham's response to my questions listed here. I will try to gather together all of the questions and all of Bauckham's responses at the end of the colloquium, marking those that were the most thought-provoking. Until then:
Bauckham's response to my first question
a) I should say that 'inherently memorable' doesn't only refer to miraculous events. Zacchaeus's meeting with Jesus must have been very memorable - it changed his life - but was not miraculous.
b) To go for common ground with historians who don't believe miracles possible, I would want to say that all historians should allow for inexplicable events. Very strange things do happen and are reliably witnessed. The historian should not wait for a scientific explanation before thinking that the evidence suggests an event he/she can't explain. I myself am not inclined to believe the events at Fatima a God-given miracle, but the evidence that something happened (mass hallucination?) cannot be dismissed. Of course some of the Gospel miracles - healings - may be explicable in psychosomatic terms, and almost everyone accepts that Jesus healed people.
c) But in the end I would say that as a historian open to the possibility of real miracles I should do my historical work on that basis, just as unbelieving historians would do it on their basis. What matters, of course, is to be upfront with one's presuppositions.
Bauckham's response to my second question
Someone has written something on Mark that does this (I can't now recall who where) - in the sense of arguing that Mark's Gospel is written so as to be memorable to oral performers by those means. He sees it as a feature of Mark's composition of his Gospel. It would be much more difficult to apply this to the oral sources behind the written Gospel, but it's worth considering.
Bauckham's response to my third question
On the actual quote (p 204) I do make it first of a list of three reasons, and a reader might put the three in a different order. So I don't think too much hangs on the degree of confidence one has in the inclusio at that point.
To those who don't find it plausible I would urge (and perhaps should have done this more clearly in the book) that (1) There are inclusios of many kinds all over the place in ancient literature. We're not used to noticing them but ancient readers were. (2) I think the first readers/hearers of the Gospels would have expected them to incorporate eyewitness testimony, and so they would be on the look-out for clues to whose eyewitness testimony is indicated. (3) The inclusio needs to be taken with the fact that Peter in Mark is not only first and last, but also named very frequently through the narrative. I take it that is part of this particular inclusion device. Even readers who didn't explicitly notice the inclusio device would have their impression of the Gospel strongly marked by the priority and frequency of reference to Peter, and at that point my arguments in chapter 7 also become important.
Someone has said that if Mark is based on Peter's testimony isn't it likely in any case that Peter would be the disciple named first and last. But this fails to take account of (a) the *emphatic* first reference, and (b) the fact that the last reference wouldn't necessarily be expected. But it also fails to account for Luke, who creates his own Petrine inclusio with material not taken from Mark.
The inclusio in Mark and Luke, especially, is important to my argument because I am arguing that the Gospels indicate their own eyewitness sources. A strong argument against eyewitness sources has been the Synoptic Gospels don't seem to be interested in eyewitness testimony. The argument could still be made without the inclusio, but the inclusio does make a major contribution to it.
Bauckham's response to my fourth question
Probably, but I'd need to consider this material carefully, as I haven't so far.
Bauckham's response to my fifth question
This is a big question, and relates to a couple of other questions I've answered. One of the problems of a project like Tom's is the coinherence of fact and meaning in testimony. This cannot really be carried over into an account of the historical Jesus of the usual kind. In Tom's case, I think what tends to happen is that it becomes very important to him to reconstruct Jesus' own self-understanding and views of what he was doing in his ministry, because these have to serve as the interpretative lens through which to construct a Jesus of significance. Jesus' self-understanding and intentions of course matter in the Gospels but the writers don't load them with all the burden of understanding what was going on.
There's a very interesting issue about historiography's dealing with testimony here. Think of events closer to our time for which historians have accounts in a variety of sources. E.g. an important battle, of which we have three or four accounts from different perspectives from participants on either side and in different relationships to what was going on. The standard modern historical way of dealing with this would be for the historian to extract from a critical study of the accounts some basic 'facts' and information that meets the particular interests he has in the battle, and then wrote his own account of the battle from a sort of heaven's eye view. But so much lost in this procedure! We miss understanding what it was really like for the involved participants. Their perspectives are dissipated and lost behind a historian's own reconstruction. Suppose, instead, the historian published the accounts themselves (or extracts, whatever might be appropriate) and used his expertise to help the readers really understand and enter into the several perspectives. This would be a much richer sort of history. The historian could add whatever he wanted by way of critical assessment and could also add ideas about how the accounts can help answer questions the historian has but they were not directly concerned with. But the key thing is that the witnesses accounts would not be superseded by the historian's construction. Another good example would be the life of Francis of Assisi, which resembles the Gospels case in that we have a variety of accounts that probably rely on different sources among the oral accounts of different disciples of Francis, accounts which also have their own slants on the significance of Francis. What does the hiostorian do with these?
I think we need to think more about the appropriate ways of dealing with historical material of the kind we have in the Gospels.
Oh, I had totally forgotten to mention, here is a podcast interview with our own Jim West. Christian Brady does a really good job with the questions and appropriately asks, among other things, why Jim keeps calling me the devil!
I recently left an innocent comment on a blog that mentioned Köstenberger's helpful review of Bauckham's book, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. I wasn't to know that this would prompt a rather unsympathetic outburst against my series on inerrancy. The whole post, for your reading pleasure, can be found here, but these were my favourite bits:
"I see that Chris Tilling has graced our combox ... Is Tiling even aware of the history of the ETS? If he is, it doesn't show ... What he really means is that he finds certain parts of the Bible unbelievable. And so he wants to see the ETS allow a lower view of Scripture to accommodate the disbelief of theological liberals like himself ... Is Jesus illogical? Is Paul illogical? Is the author of Hebrews illogical? Perhaps a better question would be—is Tilling illogical? However, I'm too tactful to answer that question ... This is a good illustration of Tilling's alarming lack of intellectual sophistication ... Tilling is guilty of bifurcating the witness of Scripture ... Tilling has such an undisciplined mind ... Tilling has done a wonderful job of leaving his brain at the door. He is attacking inerrancy by raising one brainless objection after another ... What is Tilling's problem, exactly? Is it that he's not terribly bright? Is that why he contradicts himself so readily? ... No, the false expectation which illogical minds like Tilling, Funk, and Ehrman are suffering from is the assumption that if Scripture were inerrant and inspired, then there would be no obscurities in the record of Scripture".
Tilling, Funk and Ehrman!
But my absolute favourite bit was this last angry outburst towards the end:
"Actually, nothing is more flippant than the way in which Tilling rattles off one lame-brained objection after another. Tilling is one of these conceited individuals who prides himself on his intellectual attainments when, in fact, his actual performance is distinguished by its slipshod, anti-intellectualism"
Ah these guys, you gotta love em! Some of you may well be thinking what I've been thinking, but CTRVHM is making no official statement at this moment. I'm confident, however, that any who read my series on inerrancy (and the discussion in the comments) after his post can make up their own minds as to whether the position I'm promoting is really lame-brained or not!
You will notice that he wittily titled his post 'Tilling less than thrilling'. Even rhyming!
Of course, my poetic skills have already been abundantly demonstrated on my blog (here and here, for example), as so I felt obliged to respond in like manner. But I couldn't really get much to rhyme with 'Steve Hays'. 'Hays loves gays' couldn't be proved, and nothing else was funny enough, so I've landed with the poetic 'Hays writes a blog post'.
Below are my questions to Richard Bauckham about his book, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Having worked rather closely with the work, I have plenty more thoughts and questions, but I've chosen a few from my list that may also encourage further discussion with the other members of this discussion group.
You can find my post on the biblical-studies discussion list, and if Bauckham is kind enough to respond to my questions, you may find them also on the list in due time.
1) My first point relates to believing the miraculous. You speak of the 'inherently memorable' nature of much of the Jesus tradition, with a nod to the believed reality of the extraordinary and 'supernatural' events like the resurrection and the miracle stories. While I personally have no problem with this faith stance – it is one I share – many will, of course, protest that to speak of the 'inherently memorable' nature of these events as if they were reporting real miraculous events is to import a unverifiable faith judgment into a historical argument, a move that wouldn't be allowed in other historical disciplines. Many rationalists and naturalists will simply argue that we can no more trust the Gospel accounts of such supposed events any more than the bizarre stories in other premodern literature such as the Apostle Peter's resurrecting of the smoked fish in the apocryphal Acts of Peter or the piecing together of the torn-to-shreds St Aelhaiarn in mediaeval hagiography. While I understand that your book was not the place to justify your perspective on these matters in any depth, how would you respond to this line of reasoning?
2) While on the subject of remembering Jesus tradition, do you think there is more room to develop your argument in light of deliberate mnemonic techniques such as the loci system as mentioned in Pseudo-Cicero's Rhetorica ad Herennium?
3) Confidence in the inclusio. Probably not all will be convinced by the supposed presence of the inclusio. Some will no doubt protest that it is overly subtle to be plausible. While I am generally convinced by your arguments for the presence of this inclusio, I am a little uncomfortable when you employ the inclusio so confidently elsewhere in the book. For example, in providing reasons in support of Papias' statements concerning the origin of Mark's Gospel, you argue that the inclusio 'is probably the most important reason for reconsidering Papias' evidence' (204). But is the case you make for the inclusio strong enough to serve as the foundation for another hypothesis, especially as the inclusio lacks explanatory power for the material in Matthew's Gospel?
4) Do you think there is any significance for your argument in the related mixture of themes found in Hebrews? Namely: i)
the importance of eyewitness testimony and the implied chain of transmission in 2:3 ('It was declared at first through the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him'), ii) the presence of 'Synoptic-like "historical Jesus" titbits (e.g. 2:18; 4:15; 5:7-9 – The Temptation and Gethsemane, the beginning and end of Jesus' public career?)' (I here cite Michael Pahl), and iii) the evidence of the 'testimony' theme within Hebrews (cf. Heb 2:4, 6; 3:5; 7:8; 10:15, 28).
5) You write on page 3: 'Among current historical Jesuses on offer there is the Jesus of Dominic Crossan, the Jesus of Marcus Borg, the Jesus of N. T. (Tom) Wright, the Jesus of Dale Allison, the Jesus of Gerd Theissen and many others. The historian's judgment of the historical value of the Gospels may be minimal, as in some of these cases, or maximal, as in others, but in all cases the result is a Jesus reconstructed by the historian, a Jesus attained by the attempt to go back behind the Gospels and, in effect, to provide an alternative to the Gospels' constructions of Jesus'.
What would research into the historical Jesus look like in light of your thesis, then, especially as you allow for a good deal of interpretive development in the Jesus traditions and you yourself deal with various testimonies, e.g. that of Papias, in a selective manner such that you accept parts and reject other elements of the testimony (practicing what you preach in relation to the dialectic of trust and critical assessment). And why do you think Tom Wright - who doesn't practice a comprehensive mistrust of the Gospels and is perhaps only as selective as you were with, say, Papias' statements - is 'attempting to go back behind the Gospels ... to provide an alternative to the Gospels' constructions of Jesus'?
I'd be interested to hear what Chrisendom readers think about the issues raised in these questions.
"I do not think that there is any general statement in the Bible or any part of the account of creation, either as given in Genesis 1 and 2 or elsewhere alluded to, that need be opposed to evolution"
(I was surprised to read this, too!)
I've finally returned from my 'church retreat', rather exhausted and in need of peace and quiet, but immensely holy and incredibly anointed.
I'll be gone for a few days on a church retreat. So, while all of you are busy being aimlessly unholy, I'll be locked away with a bunch of Christians veritably glowing with holiness.
Well, ok. Sometimes.
Until then, here's a video for your viewing pleasure. In it, conservative Christian, Greg Koukl, debates with self-help/new age guru, Deepak Chopra. Now this sort of thing doesn't usually turn me on, but I actually think it is a good example of courteous and thoughtful conservative Christian apologetics, and I though Koukl tended to generally have the upper hand. I liked his manner. However, Chopra started shinning towards the end in his insistence that he can embrace uncertainty. Koukl apparently didn't feel he could agree here, but I am strongly of the opinion that Christian's too can, nay must, embrace uncertainty. Anything else is an over-realised eschatology. Actually, the ability to accept and be comfortable with uncertainty is, I believe, a sign of spiritual maturity. Uncertainty indicates that one is closer to the truth.
As this question is engaging me at the moment, and if any are bothered, I would be interested to read your top few reasons why I should or shouldn't believe penal substitutionary atonement theory.
I wish you all a good few days!
Jordan Barrett sent a couple of us a link, today, of a presentation given by John Webster. He explains:
"Here's a podcast I just uploaded of a presentation I tried to record from John Webster. The audio isn't the greatest. You have to turn it up fairly loud to make out what he's saying, and yet any sounds much closer to my computer can get pretty loud at times (so beware!) ... The topic he spoke on was "mercy." At any rate, let me know if the quality is too poor to put the link up publicly (Webster gave me permission). Otherwise, I don't have a blog, so feel free to post it on your blog if you think your readers would enjoy/benefit from it.
I think my readers will certainly enjoy this! I can hear it OK, but you will need to amplify the audio, for sure.
The presentation was given on the 28th March, 2007 at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary.
UPDATE: Note Jordan's comment to this post!
My thanks to the kind folk at Hendrickson for a review copy of Thomas A. Robinson's Mastering New Testament Greek: Essential Tools for Students (Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson, 2007).
Those of us concerned to improve our NT Greek are extremely grateful for any help we may get on the way, so I am delighted to point my readers to Robinson's new and well-priced book, Mastering New Testament Greek. This third edition provides the student with numerous new tools to aid one on the path to NT Greek proficiency.
The basic concept of the book is as follows. Some other Greek vocabulary books/lists will give the Greek words according to frequency, such that the most common words are to be learnt first. This is a good pedagogical principle and helps students gain a basic grasp of NT Greek faster. Robinson does the same only according to the frequency of cognate roots. The idea is simple: 'by learning the most frequent roots, one can gain a solid working vocabulary even more quickly than by memorizing only the most frequent individual words' (1). Additional to this, Robinson provides many mnemonic aids for helping the student in the memorisation process. I would note that during my undergraduate studies, mnemonic devices helped me tremendously. I applied them with a good deal of success to Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic, gaining perfect grades in my Greek test, and highest of the year grades in my Hebrew class (which also landed me with a money prize!) - and I can say this as one to whom languages do not come altogether naturally or easily.
Robinson also breaks down the vocabulary lists according to their roots, prefixes and suffixes. The third section of the book, 'Explanation of Greek Prefixes and Suffixes', is a very helpful introductory summary of the various ways Greek prefixes and suffixes are commonly used to contribute to the meaning of a given word. I think an obvious advantage of this approach is that it helps the student to more quickly gain a grasp of the ways in which Greek words inflect. This section, as with all the lists, is supplemented with mnemonic helps.
Also provided is an index of Greek word endings given in reverse alphabetical order, i.e. so that the last letter of the word is the first level of sorting. This will be helpful for many beginners who are at a loss as to how to decipher many endings.
But there are a myriad of other tools to hand, including a few helpful diagrams and pictures to demonstrate the meaning of the prepositions and cases. This is aimed to develop the spatial sense of prepositions, providing a ground upon which to build the necessary nuances one must later learn. There is also a short Greek-English cognate dictionary, again filled with helpful mnemonic notes.
If all of this wasn't enough, there is an accompanying CD (both Mac and PC compatible) with numerous software tools including a pronunciation guide (Erasmus style), a programme for parsing difficult grammatical forms, a review of verbs, and vocabulary quizzes suitable for teachers to give their students.
It needs to be pointed out that the often used mnemonic devices tend to focus upon logical connections rather than the purely creative. This was perhaps a little overdone, and creative associations could perhaps have been encouraged, as for example suggested in numerous 'learn foreign language quickly' books, as well as employed in the older Roman Loci mnemonic systems.
While some of the pages may appear rather daunting on first glance, filled as many are with codes and lists, Robinson provides a brief three page chapter supplying instructions for using the manual. These pages are a must if the student is to get the most from this helpful NT Greek learning aid.
Finally, while the book is not sufficient in and of itself to make possible a mastery of NT Greek, that is not its task. It seeks to enable the student to grasp NT Greek vocabulary with more speed and to facilitate a better intuitive grasp of the meaning of prepositions and declensions, as well as the meaning of word inflections. In this is admirably succeeds. This is a helpful tool for all who are starting NT Greek, and the index of Greek word endings will be useful also for more advanced students. I suspect that the book will also be of use for more experienced readers, for all of us can profit from the occasional recital of the basics. Indeed, given the basic idea behind the book, even more advanced readers may find themselves noticing links and patterns that had previously escaped their attention.
Labels: Book Review
I'm delighted to announce that at last you can access information about Jim West's forthcoming book, The Humor of Huldrych Zwingli: The Lighter Side of the Protestant Reformation.
Jim is to be thanked for the time he has spent working on this excellent English translation of Fritz Schmidt-Clausing's original, Zwinglis Humor. And I can confirm that the translation is good as my own beautiful wife also spent a considerable amount of time working through the whole text, helping out with numerous translation issues.
I wrote a review of the book for the back cover which I'll simply reproduce here:
" If any had imagined Zwingli as a straight-faced, humanist dogmatician and dull producer of theological fossils, this is the book to set things straight; it reconnects us with the real Reformer, with a man of deep theological energy and pastoral concern often delivered in the shape of biting wit, creative puns and a variety of other hilarious forms. In other words, this is a man we can identify with, making him appear all the more as someone worthy of out study and interest. Dr. West has done us all a service in not only producing a long-needed republication of the Schmidt-Clausing text, but his translation helps make the sometimes complex idiomatic German word-plays accessible to English-language readers."
It really is a lot of fun to read, and I suspect that many will discover a whole new side to Zwingli. And you'll like what you see.
None other than Dr. Emidio Campi and Dr. Peter Opitz have also written glowing reports on the backcover, all of which can be read by following the link above. Big names in Zwlingli studies for sure: Campi, Opitz, and, er, *cough* Tilling. Actually, I consciously wrote my review in light of the fact that I am a non-specialist in Zwinglian studies, and I found this book created far more interest in Zwingli than any other I have read.
Not much time tonight, but I wanted to point out another page that shows my fame is spreading, this time into the world of genomics. Tilling is simply getting everywhere.
Flippin 'Targeting Induced Local Lesions IN Genomes'! Ouch!
A useful month by month time line to plot your eschatological fate!
Under the first point: "A radical government comes to power in the US, severs ties with Israel and creates a socialist state, persecuting Evangelicals and religious Jews" followed by "The city of Rome rises to world prominence once again"!
Seems only us evangelicals are in trouble, so it looks like the rest of you are safe enough. Except Frank Beckwith and clan, who, it seems, may well be the cause ...
I'm writing my doctorate to show why I think this first one is way off:
'The praises and homage offered to Christ [in the NT] then seem to take their place naturally in the series of Jewish royal messianic praises'
(William Horbury, Jewish Messianism and the Cult of Christ, London, SCM: 1998, p 140)
All I want to say about the following is "what about 1 Cor 16:22?".
(Klaus Berger, Paulus. München: C. H. Beck, 2002, p 35)
'What does Paul love? ... [I]n contrast to many modern believers, Paul cannot say, "I love Jesus" ... the relationship to this lord and king could not be any closer, but it is not called love. Paul loves heaven.'
Dan has written some superb and concise book reviews here, on authors and subjects ranging from Crossan, Barth, Hauerwas, Wittgenstein, and, er, Batman. Do give them a read.
So, the rumours are confirmed. Frank Beckwith, President of the ETS, has returned to Roman Catholicism, and he tells us all about it in his own words here.
Some may remember that I spoke about my own temporary conversion to Roman Catholicism here. To quote myself:
"Oh, and another thing. I decided to become a Catholic today. Yep. A big papal 'thumbs up', a nice dollop of Pope-loving, and I'm a red robed, hat wearing, ground-kissing, staff swinging counter-reformation papist. Admittedly, in about half an hour I'm back to being protestant. This was only a short-lived jaunt into the realms of Romism; but it was the only way I could justify taking a break from my work on All Saints Day (a Catholic holiday). Some may call this intellectual dishonesty. I call it pragmatic intellectual flexibility"
Yea baby! Bad taste, terrible timing Tilling is back on form.
Actually, I am a bit of a scholar on Catholic dress fashion, as this post ably demonstrated.
And there aren't many in biblioblogdom that have sought to include Catholics in their own worship songs. But if you remember, I did - in my immortal song, Holy and you Know it (© 2006, CTRVM)
And if all of this wasn't enough, I've even given my readers a peek into one the most beautiful moments in the entire history of Catholic-Protestant ecumenical dialogue in this post.
Oh, and I'm loving the Popes new book on Jesus as I've recently mentioned, and I wrote a lengthy blog series on another Catholic's work on science and Christianity (Küng's Der Anfang aller Dinge). It should be no secret, then, that I have a small soft spot for Catholicism. I admit it. Not enough to stop me gladly being an evangelical, but a soft spot nonetheless. So send me to the Evangelical Inquisition: I plead guilty (unless I'm offered enough money, of course, in which case I deny everything and I'll get back to cursing the spawn of the whore of Babylon, and pronto).
Of course, I disagree with some things implied by Beckwith in his leaving statement. Jim West commented about that here (though in the process he managed to call me the antichrist. Again). And I will disagree with Beckwith about other matters too. Strong formulations of inerrancy, for example. Which reminds me, I recently read something by Dr. Barry H. Corey, recently appointed as the president of Biola University. He claimed: 'I don't cross my fingers, nuance or flinch when I say the Bible is inerrant'.
Now, Corey sounds like a very wise and likeable man in what I've read. But I, one the other hand, were I to need to confess the Chicago Statement, for example, will have had to have crossed my legs and fingers and arms so often, that I'd end up looking like the ribbons on a busy May Pole. As for flinching, I'd look like a serious case of Tourette syndrome.
I'll be presenting a paper at the German-English Tübingen Colloquium a week Monday, on Christology in 2 Cor 3:16-18. In the first part I suggest that the repeated kurios in these verses indicates the risen Lord. In the second part I attempt a rather unusual analysis of the christological significance of these verses.
I feel that my case is pretty good but not water tight. Max Turner, at our last LST NT conference, gave a bit of advice for researchers that has stuck with me. He explained that it is better to simply be honest about the strength of the arguments you proposes, even if they are suspect. Don't over press your case, in other words. Obvious, but the truth of this somehow 'got through' to me in a new way recently. I must say, over pressing is something I have been guilty of in the past, and his advice liberated me to construct a more honest argument. To be honest, whatever one claims in relation to 2 Cor 3 needs to be advanced with a good deal of humility; it is a very complex and hotly debated passage.
Reports have started spreading across biblioblogdom about Richard Bauckham's forthcoming book, The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple. I'm delighted to say that Richard has organised for Baker to send me a review copy, so you'll be hearing much more about this book in due time. Personally I have quite a few unanswered questions about the nature of John's Gospel, especially as it relates to Bauckham's eyewitnesses thesis, so I look forward to reading this immensely.
UPDATE: I ought to add, so as not to mislead anyone's expectations, that this book is largely a collection of Bauckham's previously published articles.
Rumours aren't good things, but Michael Barber, co author with Brant Pitre of the superb blog, Singing in the Reign, report that president of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), Frank Beckwith, has become a Roman Catholic. Not that I have strong feelings either way, but of course as an evangelical I can't help but have slightly mixed feelings. Nevertheless, if this is true I entirely endorse Michael's statement: 'His example is clearly one of courage, intellectual integrity and spiritual sincerity'.
Let me make it absolutely clear: I'm not sure if this is true or not. But my prayers are nevertheless with Frank and his family, especially in light of the backlash against them this will cause.
Given the upcoming biblical-studies list colloquium with Richard Bauckham, I decided to record a podcast summarising Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. My blog series on the book has perhaps been a little too long, especially for some of you lightweights, so I've tried my hardest and condensed a complete overview of his book into a 25 minute podcast.
I messed up the conversion to mp3 process so the quality isn't that good, but I can still be easily understood. The file is 4.5 MB, so if you use a dial-up modem it may take a few minutes to download.
Click here to download and listen to my podcast on Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses.
I saw Spiderman 3 at the cinema tonight. Great fun! I thought the black goo was a good picture for that which it fed upon, namely bitterness. Highly recommended.
1) Bruce Fisk's Crossings is biblioblogger of the month for May. Do give his interview with Jim West a read.
I thought his idea about how biblioblogging could be improved was rather interesting:
'I like the organic, idiosyncratic, open-source feel of the blogosphere but I'm hoping we'll see more collaboration whereby groups with overlapping interests post to the same site. Most blogs I visit are pretty much solo efforts. It would be fun to see someone adapt the bloggingheads.tv model using webcams and a split screen to encourage conversations among religion scholars.'
2) For those of you who can read German, Zweifel an Koran und Mohammed: Saarbrücker Wissenschaftler forschen über die Anfänge des Islam is worth a read.
3) Finally, Andreas Köstenberger has written a helpful review of Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses here. It will come as no surprise to those who are familiar with Köstenberger's position on the authorship of John's Gospel that he attempts a critique of Bauckham's thesis for not asserting that John the son of Zebedee wrote the Gospel. He argues:
'After all, Bauckham's point is not merely that eyewitness testimony is important for the Gospels, but that we are dealing here with apostolic eyewitness testimony, that is, eyewitness testimony that is credible because it comes from those who were closest to Jesus during his earthly ministry. In this regard, it is hard to see how the testimony of one largely unknown "John the Elder" (not mentioned in any of the Synoptics or other non-Johannine New Testament writings) would satisfy Bauckham's own criterion'
However, I did not get the impression that Bauckham's arguments regarding the authorship of the Johannine Gospel were 'unduly biased' as Köstenberger claims. I am no Johannine expert, but I get the feeling that Köstenberger is attempting to urge us to squeeze the available evidence through his own (arbitrary) logical wringer, namely that the eyewitness testimony of John's Gospel requires a more authoritative early Christian figure than 'the largely unknown "John the Elder"'. But I am not so sure, especially given the Beloved Disciple's anonymity through the Gospel. Besides, John the Elder was not unkown, of course, in his circles, and he knew Jesus, according to Bauckham's thesis, very well. Concerning the logical wringer: to employ a less than appropriate parallel, it may be hard to see how the monotheistic Apostle Paul can express a divine Christology one moment, and then turn and speak of the subordination of the Son to the Father the next. But it would appear to be the most accurate treatment of the evidence to allow both elements in Paul their full say. Those who employ a logical wringer at this point end up doing violence to the texts. OK that wasn't the best example I could have come up with, but you know what I mean!
(My thanks to Jordan Barrett for drawing my attention to this article)
Labels: Jesus and the Eyewitnesses
Ben Myers of Faith and Theology has run an amusing poll for the worst theological inventions. Last I looked, 'inerrancy' was the chosen leader of this poll ahead even of 'Double predestination', 'the rapture', 'Arianism', 'Christendom as an empire' and 'Just war theory'.
Now it is no secret that I don't like the doctrine of inerrancy, especially as it is formulated in the Chicago Statement. In fact, I wrote a series explaining why here, and I have seen no reason to change my basic view since then. I would hastily add that I have a very high view of scripture and have nuanced my views since I wrote that series, but I still stand by my posts. Especially helpful for me was Vanhoozer's article, "A Person of the Book? Barth on Biblical Authority and Interpretation" in Karl Barth and Evangelical Theology (Grand Rapids, Mich., Baker Academic: 2006)
However, I personally think it an outrage that inerrancy has thus far been voted a worse theological invention ahead of the likes of Arianism, the latter having been labelled as heresy by the church universal for centuries due to central issues such as soteriology and doxology!
But inerrancy is not heresy. While not encumbered with the latter nuances that emerged in light of the 'battle with liberalism', similar understandings of scripture have existed for centuries in the church, facilitating healthy respect for and expectancy on the God who speaks through the biblical texts. A slightly unbalanced (and essentially unbiblical) understanding of the nature of scripture, inerrancy is, yes. A factually and demonstratably wrong doctrine, yes. Wild-goose-chase red-herring-infested, yes. But heresy, in my books, it is not. Indeed, many thousands of Christians have found that inerrancy formulates their understanding of scripture such that their faith in God to speak to them through the bible is enhanced. Again: Inerrancy has for many facilitated a respectful and expectant attitude towards God as Christians read the bible – and not just among hardcore fundies, but for many intelligent modern Christians, not to mention the thousands in developing nations for whom some of our theological subtleties are nothing but farts in the wind. OK, it has also been destructive to others who are taught the bible is inerrant, who then turn to read a bible that manifestly isn't, but it is hardly the worst theological invention. Inerrancy may well be the worst of all in the hands of the militant variety, but then again almost everything is awful when handled by such folk. Alas, I suspect the popularity of negativity against inerrancy is a sign that things have gotten out of perspective.
I told you I had a conservative evangelical operating system! Though I tried to deinstall my 'liberal rationalist quickly demythologise it and deny its historicity to be accepted as critical' patch, my system never was quite the same. Slower, but it calculated more accurately.