Thursday, October 31, 2013

The New Revised 95 Theses

In honour of Reformation Day I long ago began the ambitious project of dynamically translating / updating the 95 These for modern people.

I have of course matured a lot since then, and now understand the necessary gravitas needed for the crucial task of sober modern theological reformation. The church needs clarity of thought and incisive but gracious critique. Unfortunately, many theologians most equipped to help the church are living in Ivory Towers, unable to use “normal people speak”.

Hence, my second thesis takes us into important waters, one concerning social responsibility in light of Reformation theology.

*drum roll*

2. Stop using your damn mobile phone while sitting at a table socialising with frickin real people in front of your ugly face. At least give some money to your local priest and pray to the Patron Saint of Indulgencies that this reduces your need for eschatological asbestos underpants.

Monday, October 28, 2013

What to do when a meeting goes on too long. Some practical biblical wisdom

  • Suddenly manifest a cynical demon by calling yourself Asmodeus (Tobit 3:8, 17; 6:8, 14, 16, 18; 8:3) and repeating what the last person said word-for-word in a sarcastic tone (Gen. 4:9; 2 Cor 12:8-9).
  • See how many times you can use the word “defenestrate” (Acts 20:9; 2 Cor 11:33), and keep calling someone in the meeting “Trevor”.
  • Use the phrase “I think we all know what that leads to” with a tone implying massive innuendo (Ps. 37:8; 68:6; Prov. 2:18; 10:16; 12:26; 14:23; 15:24; Acts 11:18; Rom. 5:18; Rom. 6:16; Jude 1:21; Tobit 13:2).
  • Break up a discussion by channelling a message from the alien mother ship to “all the citizens of earth” (Ezekiel 22:7)


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Could Wright’s new books harm you?

Well, perhaps Newton can help us out with this one. The basic laws of motion relevant to our enquiry are  v2=v1+a∆t, v22=v12+2a(x2-x1), E=1/2mv2, and ∑ F=ma.

Now let’s collect the necessary data.

  • Our acceleration is the gravitational constant, g, which is 9.8 m/s2.
  • Although I do not precisely know the weight of Wright’s two books, I have two clues. First, I have held them, and second they probably approximate to a comparably sized book that I do have to hand (namely Eberhard Busch’s Meine Zeit mit Karl Barth – which weighs in at 1.5kg). I therefore estimate their sum weight to be ≈ 2.2kg (allowing for a little extra for the “heavenly glory” anointing factor)
  • We celebrated the book launch in Westminster Abbey, a building 69 m high.
  • Amazon also furnishes us with the following (presumably combined) dimensions of the books, namely 23 x 16.4 x 8.8 cm.

A plausible scenario: Let Person A drop the books from the top of Westminster Abbey, assuming no high winds or storms (here’s hoping, anyway). Feeding our data into the equations, this means that the book will obtain a velocity (v2) of 36.8 m/s2 at ground level. Apparently, Mike Tyson’s hardest punch was approximately 1100 Joules of Energy.

But the kinetic energy of Wright’s Volume 4, at the point it connects with pedestrian Person B’s head, is a shocking 1489.7 Joules of energy, which is like Tyson punching you on one side of your head, and Tiger Woods smacking the other side with a sand wedge. It’s going to get messy.

So, yes, Wright’s books could harm you, well, kill you to be precise.

(I’m hoping to add this argument to the appendix of John Piper’s new volume on defending orthodoxy, and I’m suggesting the title: “The pen really is mightier than the sword. Redeeming Wright from beyond the bounds via the godliness of non-redemptive violence. On dropping Volume 4 on Catholics”)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Scenes from SBL 2013. The academic consensus is strong with this one.


A ridiculously beautiful chess puzzle (White to play and win)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Looks like a nice tall glass of nope


Tom Wright’s PFG book launch

I was delighted and honoured to be invited to the official book launch of Tom Wright’s eagerly anticipated Paul and the Faithfulness of God tonight. In the famous Jerusalem Room at Westminster Abbey, Tom Wright summarised his thesis with usual panache, interlacing it with the poetry of Micheal O’Siadhail, himself present to read out the pieces Tom strategically echoes in PFG. At the end, Micheal recited a new poem commissioned for this event about Tom’s work – a pretty special moment. On top of that, we were standing in the room in which King Henry IV died (you know, and was told “you’re actually in Jerusalem, honest guv”. Hence the name of the room, for all you budding Sherlocks), Henry V was crowned king, and the committee engaged on writing the 1611 Authorized Version of the Bible was convened! Was lovely also to introduce Anja to the man himself, and a few other friends. I also had a chance eagerly to flick through PFG and I took home the “sample pre-pub extracts” 150 page book! The time is at hand and is even now upon us...

My face

when I read scholars continuing to deny a Pauline fully-divine Christology, or pretend the matter is “ambiguous” (and despite the – if I may say so, clinching – arguments proffered in Paul’s Divine Christology back in 2012)



Depending on my mood, this can evolve emotionally in one of three ways:



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A thought on Collingwood and relationality

What would Collingwood's "reenactment" look like if taken out of idealist soil, and planted into an altogether different ontological framework? Yes, here I be swinging relational, folks, though for different reasons than supplied by the Radical Orthodoxy lot, and in a different way. At the very least, it would look more like Gadamer's approach to interpretation as relational dialogue.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Potty Talk!

Eckstein’s Verheißung und Gesetz PDF!

My man in Tübingen, Niko, has kindly pointed out to me that Prof. Hans-Joachim Eckstein’s Habilitationsschrift, namely Verheißung und Gesetz (Mohr, 1996) is now available for free as PDF! During the many colloquia, Eckstein was an extremely helpful guide during my PhD work and I am delighted that this work is available online. There are other goodies available on their webpage, too, so go have a look, but Eckstein’s is my highlight!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Narrative theology is yesterday’s news, the marriage of theology to epistemic and historiographic concerns dating back to the 1970s

The title was only to get your attention! My real concern is more specific. Namely, and at the risk of sounding like a twit, I'm starting to wonder if narrative really is so important for the historian (I know, I know, Ricoeur, Hayden White etc). Certainly it may be useful for certain topics such as narrative identity, the way it shapes memory etc. but I am not sure the historian need to use narrative/discourse for many so-called narrative issues. For example, although causality is implicit in narrative, I do not need narrative to make such connections clear (even if I want cause-effect to work in both directions). Again, narrative focuses on characters, yes, but cannot non-narrative accounts do so, too? A thin description of narrative is inevitable to (all?) historical work, but I am not sure what is gained unless one pushes for a thicker notion of narrative, and then I am not sure if the gains are exclusive to narrative at all (Tucker, Lamarque).

Thinking aloud, here!

1 John 1:9 illustrated


Friday, October 11, 2013

Facebook and biblical scholarship

Anthony Le Donne notes the sort of conversations that Facebook makes possible. It's not all "share this picture if you love Jesus / don't want to perish in your sins". I am very grateful that they spent time corresponding with me, a relative newbie in this field.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Chess Blues

Well, after a nasty blunder, I managed to scrape a draw in the chess club championship, tonight, by complicating the position. I got absorbed in the position below (me, White to play), thinking:

1. Nfxe5, because 1...Nxe5 2. Nxe5, Qxe5 almost wins the enemy Queen with 3. Bf4.

Alas, Black still has one square 3...Qh4. However hard I tried to mix the move order or lay a trap, I couldn't make anything work.

With a sigh I made another move literally without thinking, assuming it was the obvious play (namely 1.Be3), but in so doing I simply dropped a pawn to 1...Nxe4! I tried to keep a poker face, but my opponent played the best moves.

My response to his 1...Nxe4, namely 2.Nfxe5!?, lead to a position with active play, even though I was a pawn down – i.e. perhaps something close to so-called “dynamic equality”? After another ten or so moves, because my opponent was running out of time calculating the consequent mess on the board, he offered a draw which I gladly accepted.

But in this position, what would you play? Houdini 3 (x64) comes up with a nice plan, 1.Nfd2 followed by 2.f4!


Faecally obsessed toilet poltergeist warning

So, a while ago we suffered the enmity of a toilet poltergeist. In the middle of the night the little ghoul kept knocking off the loo roll onto the floor and once - horror - into the toilet itself.

Certainly an alternative, though decidedly more pedestrian, explanation for these events is “gravity”.

But then, there is something about a poltergeist with faecal obsession possessing a toilet that beats the turgid 9.81 meters per second per second business.

Either way, our problems are potentially solved by Wayne Brewer and his 2009 monograph Are You Possessed?, which promises some sort of divine intervention. “Y I E L D, loo poltergeist forwardslash gravity”

After I stopped precariously perching the loo roll on the top of the cistern, the poltergeist left, so here's your happy ending.

But allow me a digression, because the Amazon page linked to above also points to Wayne Brewer’s other book: How Arcturians Are Healing Planet Earth. “An interesting novel?”, I wondered. *left mouse click*


The Amazon blurb runs:
Alien Reptilians, who are multidimensional extraterrestrials, have been plaguing our planet for eons, lowering our vibrational frequency and using fear, manipulation, and mind-control to dominate and enslave humanity. They have no natural enemies here, so they have had free rein to carry out their agenda. But that is no longer the case! The Arcturians, a much more powerful race of multidimensional extraterrestrials, are right now helping to heal the planet and raise its vibrational frequency by removing alien Reptilians and sending them to the Light. The Arcturians [that my spell checker underlines Arcturians is perhaps part of the global conspiracy? - CT] are highly advanced, very loving and peaceful beings from Arcturus, a star in the Boötes Constellation ...”
Most helpful customer reviews include Rigby’s: “This books explains everything I ever new, but did not understand, now I have the whole picture, I have just ordered Wayne's other book”.

Also note Zeynep’s important clarification: “Please don't buy this book if you are interested in aliens. Arcturians are not aliens … [Nevertheless] it's an eye opener for people who are not aware that we are galactic beings. It's an advanced book, not for beginners”.

In case you missed it, Zeynep’s review is titled “not aliens”.

Certainly an alternative, though decidedly more pedestrian, explanation for all of this involves rocking oneself back and forth in foetal (no, not faecal) position under a cold shower while despairing for humanity.

Andrew Lincoln's Born of a Virgin?

I am very grateful to the kind folk at SPCK I for sending along a copy of Andrew T. Lincoln's new monograph, Born of a Virgin?: Reconceiving Jesus in the Bible, Tradition, and Theology.

Eddie Adams describes him as one of the finest exegetes of our time, and I must say, I consider him a must read in his fields of expertise, always a key scholar to learn from.

So I am very excited to read this book, especially as the issue he tackles head on is one I have personally wrestled with: the Virgin Birth. The lack of explicit reference across the NT to a Virgin Birth, the way the birth narratives in L and Mt reflect the particular theological concerns of the evangelists, the geographical problems associated with "Bethlehem", the import of the bio genre of the Gospels, all tend to lead most NT scholars to question the veracity of a literal Virgin Birth.

But are they right? Are our historiographical practices at fault? And then what to do with the creeds? What to do with the legitimacy of church tradition, and Maryology in particular? All of these questions and more I bring to Andrew's book with some excitement!

Monday, October 07, 2013

Exciting stuff! Thanks to SPCK!