Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Sunday Puzzle

This position is from a game played in the seventies, namely Liddel-Silman (i.e. Jeremey Silman, famous chess author), San Diego, Black to move.

There is a crushing move for Black here. Can you find it (without the aid of a computer!)?

I messed it up totally, seeing that 1...Bd7 threatened a checkmate which can only be stopped by 2.Bf1, I thought the White bishop was simply overloaded, and chose the poor 1...Nxe4. I saw 2.Bxf4, but didn't see that after 2 ... Bd7, 3. Bf1 had everything covered, and then my (Black) king looks exposed to White attack. Annoyed with myself, I checked the winning line which is elegant. I must admit, I simply missed the point of the tactic behind the first move of the correct line which, when you do see it, makes calculation easier.

Good luck!

Black to move



If 2. hxg4, Qxg4 and the threats, as Kevin pointed out, are unstoppable. First off, checkmate is threatened by 3...Qh4#. White cannot avoid this and save the Bishop. This was the key line to see - the rest is much easier.

If 2. Kh1 then f2! The pawn thrust finishes White off because if the White rook moves then either it allows the pawn to promote, or the Bishop is lost.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Review of Campbell’s Deliverance PART 14

A summary review PART 14
of Campbell, Douglas A. The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2009

Having outlined the many intrinsic difficulties (IDs) of JT, those problems thrown up by the internal logic of JT itself, DC now turns to examine the problems that become evident when JT is contrasted with things Paul says elsewhere in his letters.

Systematic Difficulties

‘If the essentially contractual theory of Justification is inserted into Paul’s thought, then almost every aspect generates tension in relation to something the apostle says elsewhere’ (62). To show these 'systematic difficulties' DC works backwards, by first outlining an alternative Pauline theory. With that different perspective in view, it will be clear how, if JT is inserted into Paul, tensions are produced.

An alternative Pauline theory: the soteriology apparent in Romans 5-8

The thought experiment now undertaken answers the question: If, ‘by a twist of canonical fate’ (62) one had only Romans 5-8 left from Paul’s letters, what would one conclude about that Paul’s soteriology? (Some of the following will reflect a position DC already outlined in his book, The Quest For Paul’s Gospel, reviewed by your host here

First, the text evidences a complex soteriology, involving an interrelated mix of topics like the nature of God, the Spirit, Christian existence, a perspective on ontology and epistemology etc. So, as DC must begin somewhere, he begins with ‘the state from which humanity is rescued’ (63, though ultimately this ‘alternative soteriology’ begins with the unconditional salvific and apocalyptic deliverance of God, so 72). This state involves flesh-humans, descended from Adam, enslaved by Sin and Death, one that finds itself as an enemy of God, totally unable to please God (5:10; 8:5-8). ‘Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?’ (7:24).
‘People who exist in this dire condition … are obviously incapable of accurate theological reflection or of any positive action, ethical or salvific … hence the text’s repeated emphasis on deliverance (7:24b; 8:2 …) And this rescue is apparently the result of interlocking actions by God the Father; his only, beloved Son, who he sends into the enslaved Adamic condition; and the Holy Spirit’ (63).
It is indeed interesting that Paul does not have too much to say about forgiveness (a point made years ago, e.g. by Krister Stendahl) and is more concerned with deliverance from Sin. To also be noted is the Trinitarian shaped language in the following: the Father’s actions are fundamentally loving (5:5, 8; 8:32), giving up his Son much as Abraham offered up Isaac. The Son descends, takes the likeness of sinful flesh and in an act of obedience, climaxing with his death, terminates the old, enslaved and Adamic being (cf. 8:3 – with a thus appropriate OT sacrificial idiom). He is then raised to new life as a template for the new humanity (8:29). Christ assumes, terminates and reconstitutes humanity as the loving act of God. The Spirit likewise benevolent activity inaugurates (i.e. does not complete) the rescue of enslaved humanity, enabling Christians to know the love of God, to hope and pray etc. and grafts them into the death and resurrection of Christ through baptism.

Christian salvation is thus fundamentally transformational and relational, the Spirit effecting the change ‘with reference to Christ’ (64). Ethics is inherent to this transformation from slavery to sin to holiness to eternal life (6:19, 22-23); human ethical capacity is freed from slavery and is itself transformed by grace (6:15, 23). The perception of human enslavement is seen in light of this grace, i.e. it looks backward (is retrospective, a posteriori) as ‘a corrupt human condition could not derive accurate conclusions about itself’ (65 – and cf. Rom. 8:7). What is needed is unconditional rescue, ‘and no criteria for its activation, appropriation, or reception by humans are apparent in this text, while what causality or agency is apparent is attributed to God’ (65 - with reference to 8:29-30; 5:6-8, 10). This inaugurated (partial) transformation is also liturgical (7:24; 8:15, 26-27, 34), it calls forth ‘human participation in the liturgical communion of the divine condition’ (66), yet at the same time thus calls for patience, perseverance and hope (5:2-5; 8:23-25), itself a participation in Christ’s sufferings (8:17). By the Spirit, believers participate in the ‘descent’ of Christ into his death, which guarantees their part in his risen life. And all of this, from beginning to end, is held in the unconditional love and benevolence of God (reflect on the beginning of Rom. 5, and the end of Rom. 8!).

At the end of this section, DC summarises this "alternative" theological system in a helpful, structured, way, as he did with JT.

In the next Part, we summarise DC's attempt to tie up two "loose ends".


Thursday, January 20, 2011


Michael Gorman links to a useful article, written by Andy Johnson of Nazarene Seminary, overviewing three recent proposals about justification in Paul (Wright, Campbell, and Gorman). Have a read. If any of my students read this post, that article will be worth bearing in mind to help you understand some themes for your essay on Galatians!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

While on the topic of Germany :-)

And who says the Germans don't have a sense of humour?

Radikale Theologie and the giftedness of gitiness

I’ve just discovered the work of Ingolf Dalferth which, if you can read German, comes highly recommended. I am presently working my way through his intelligent little volume, Radikale Theologie, and am learning much.

But, as Isaac Newton put it, the ‘innate force of matter is a power of resisting’. My innate force or inertia is, tonight, being a grumpy git ... so I’m gonna have a rant.

During a recent stay in Tübingen I browsed through some books shops, and looked closely at various new German NT titles on Jesus and Paul. What struck me was regrettable: there was limited engagement with important English language scholarship apart from one or two references to Dunn, Sanders and perhaps one or two others. One book examined Jesus as a Cynic, yet failed to engage with any major critical works by the likes of Allison, Wright etc. A few German books have started to appear for a more general readership on the ‘New Perspective’ on Paul (NPP), which is welcome, but they were not up to speed with the most recent developments. Indeed, it seems that there is a growing awareness of crucial themes in the NPP in Germany (beyond the older – and helpful – defensive works by the likes of Stuhlmacher) just as, arguably, we are entering a ‘beyond the NPP’ phase in English language scholarship, thanks to the brilliance of the likes of Campbell.

Once upon a time Germany was leading the way in NT studies (and, yes, still are in football over the Brits, damn it), so why this (sadly not infrequent) blindness to important English language scholarship? I am glad that there are younger German scholars such as Volker Rabens, André Munzinger, etc. who know the most important scholarship, irrespective of the language in which it is written, but why do I read so many new German NT books which don’t peep beyond the Rhine and beyond? If much (though gladly not all) German NT scholarship remains inward looking, it will ultimately be ignored in terms of wider cutting edge debates. If they are ignored, this will be to the loss of everyone involved.

Incidentally, Dalferth is a glowing example of engagement with all manner of scholarship, whether it be French, English-language or German.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Review of Campbell’s Deliverance PART 13

After a nice long blogging silence (I just couldn't be bothered to post anything!), I am keen to get going again on my hopelessly long review summary of Campbell's book. Let's start again on lucky number 13! We are presently in the thick of DC’S list of Justification Theory’s intrinsic difficulties (please see earlier posts for qualifications about what is, and is not, meant by 'Justification Theory'.

A summary review PART 13
of Campbell, Douglas A. The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2009

We complete, today, Campbell’s list of intrinsic difficulties as they relate to Justification theory.

6. Christology and Atonement. ‘Justification theory does not explain why Christ must atone as against other people or things, and especially, in the place of the established temple cultus’ (49). If transfer of punishment is the basis of the atonement, if the key is to make atonement possible and to provide it, why Christ? God surely could have ‘sent a very large bull to atone for the sins of the world’ (49) – perhaps a number, sacrificed weekly or daily, or hourly?

Of course, this discussion necessarily leads to an engagement with Anselm’s Cur Deus Homo (remember, the point here is not whether Paul could have anticipated Anselm, but to what extent JT works at a theoretical level), and for those of you not familiar with his argument may like to read this. In a crude nutshell: Given the debt of human sin, only God can make satisfaction, no number of large bulls will work) so God incarnates himself in the form of a man to pay off this debt in his death on the cross.

A closer look at a key presupposition is required, namely its notion of wrongdoing as ‘a sort of negative currency’ (51 - for justice to be exacted on, for example, a rapist, it is not necessary for the rapist to be raped. Rather, some ‘price’ must be negotiated for the crime). But is it valid, DC asks, ‘to apply such an intermingled economic-equivalence view of punishment to all wrongdoing – and, most importantly, to offenses against God’ (52)? This reduces reality to economic terms, and the Christian church has indeed rightly opposed the notion that ‘all human action is essentially economic’ and that people are ‘fundamentally economic units’ (52). Further, ‘[f]or God to receive a payment from Christ’s death sufficient to pay for the sins of the world, we must then in effect posit a marketplace within God ... [thereby positing] a fundamentally economic view, not merely of reality, but of God Himself!’ (53). What is more, is the metaphorical transition from the value of Christ, to his death understood in terms of price justified (as some maintain, a fundamental difficulty with Marxism is that value is not directly equivalent to price). I can value a freshly ground Panama bean espresso coffee much more even than an expensive Ferrari car, for example! DC gives another example: ‘We value a stable global climate highly, but cannot pay anyone with it’ (54). Yet Anselm requires an equivalence between value and price.

Now monetary imagery is indeed Pauline, but this is used metaphorically not literally – as is necessary for Anselm’s theory to hold good. So, the ‘Anselm defence’ fails to come to the defence of JT which anyway, in terms of satisfaction, operates in terms of strict equivalence (Jesus dies for me as I should die for my sin) rather than substituted payment.

7. Faith. ‘Justification theory harbors a cluster of complex problems with respect to faith, in two main variations. The “Arminian” variant struggles to explain faith fully and, in particular, how individuals can actually exercise faith in order to be saved. The “Calvinist” variant can get beyond these difficulties by introducing revelation and election at the point of faith but then runs into further problems in relation to the privileging of faith and its gifting to individuals who have negotiated phase one ’

Couldn't put it better myself! He explains: ‘[a]lthough popular discourse uses the language of choice and free will ubiquitously in relation to matters of belief, beliefs cannot in fact simply be chosen ... If we really hold something to be true [or untrue], then we cannot alter that simply by choice’. An act of will cannot alter our beliefs. If it is responded, in good Calvinist fashion, that faith is a gift, it must then be asked: why privilege ‘faith’ as the condition for salvation? Why not, in terms of the internal dynamics of JT, something else like ‘wearing a red T-shirt with “Jesus Saves” written on it (or the ancient equivalent)’ (56)? Why not love, hope, justice, or something else? Does it not strike one as arbitrary. Why not a simple set of works that all could accomplish? Further, what is the point of phase one if faith is then simply ‘given’? The logic of ‘faith’ in the system of JT thus breaks down for the Calvinist variant, while the Arminian option remains impossible.

For these seven reasons, JT ‘breaks down internally’ as a soteriology, ‘in strictly theoretical terms’ (37).