Friday, March 28, 2014

10 random NT scholarship issues that make my inner alarm bells ring

1) When scholars take themselves too seriously, and speak continually about their achievements and how important they are to NT scholarship.
2) When NT scholars of any stripe think theology is one thing, historical work another, as if the two make sense as two separate tasks hermeneutically sealed off from one another. Of course, this is not to deny a legitimate "divisions of labour" or "interpretative levels" (to use Childs' speak).
3) When scholars think Rezeptionsgeschichte magics away the major questions relating to the conversation between theology and history.
4) When the word “Bayesians” is used in fumbling hands.
5) When Paul and John are bracketed from historical Jesus scholarship.
6) When Christology is said to develop "higher" only later.
7) When the word "covenantal" is used, in Pauline studies, as a banner deployed in opposition to "apocalyptic".
8) When I read a "summary" of Bultmann followed hastily by a "devastating" critique.
9) When scholars are dismissed because they are popular.
10) When scholars are dismissed because they are unpopular.

BeatBoxing 1 year old!

This is not to be missed. Utterly brilliant!

West’s Commentary Series

Despite our banter online, Jim West is actually a very good friend. His extremely impressive achievement has now been translated into Logos speak, and so his commentaries, which cover 59 books of the Bible and 4 books of the Apocrypha, are now available on a that v useful platform.

The Person the Pew Commentary Series (36 vols.)

Click the picture for more info:

“For centuries, most commentaries have been written by experts, for experts—the massive volumes that line pastors’ and professors’ shelves inaccessible without extensive education. Meanwhile, the person in the pew has been largely forgotten. This series is designed to correct this problem, empowering laypeople to read the Bible with understanding. Keeping the forgotten person in the pew in mind, Baptist pastor and professor Jim West makes the best in biblical scholarship available in a form useful for personal devotion, preaching, Sunday school lessons, and generally growing in knowledge of God’s word”

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Douglas Campbell video in the Eerdmans Author Interview Series

In which Douglas speaks in accessible language about the import of his reading of Paul. Great stuff! This is a gospel I find satisfying, challenging, liberating and exciting.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bauckham on How God Became Jesus!

imageThis is a helpful collection of essays by first-rate scholars abreast of the latest research. Anyone who wants a reliable historical account of how early Christians came to see Jesus as God should read this book

—Richard Bauckham, Emeritus Professor of New Testament, University of St Andrews, UK

The book is now available on AmazonUK here and USA here, and the Kindle version has a sample to download.

We received Ehrman’s MS end of 2013 to read, and we each responded from a particular area of specialisation. All in all this was a fun project, despite having to write it up over Christmas! I am grateful that Ehrman writes very clearly and smoothly, so reading through his book (How Jesus Became God) didn’t take long and was far from drudgery. I think our book is a fun read, too!

Here is my hot tip to all interested in the topic of the books: If want to dip your toes in this area of discussion and decide to read one of them, try to read the other also. I often find that engaging with people I profoundly disagree with leads me to greater insight and adventure, even when my disagreement remains. (This is one reason why I cannot recommend Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable? highly enough).

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Reading Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God

Yes, I began reading Wright’s two books a couple of weeks ago, albeit intermittently around other work commitments. I will have much to say in my review, but not yet. Instead, I wanted to use tonight to say how I’ve been read PFG.

I recently discovered Sprint Reader (a Google Chrome app), and spritz, all of which use rapid serial visual presentation (rsvp, which is also very useful for dyslexic readers), and a couple of which use “Optimal Recognition Point”.

I purchased the Logos version of PFG and the paperback. Then, I simply copy and paste the Logos text (with page numbers activated) into a Google Chrome text box and then read it at around 500 words per minute with Sprint Reader or Spreeder. But the paperback is in front of me at the same time, and I go through, underlining my physical copy, adding any other thoughts, questions or annotations there.

This is making it much easier to plough through dozens of pages very quickly with excellent comprehension. I find that fatigue doesn't set in half as quickly. And let’s face it, given the size of PFG, we can do with all the help we can get! Certainly the style of Wright’s rhetoric is nicely suited to this kind of approach as well. Reading Barth’s Church Dogmatics using the same methods, I need to slow down to at least 450 words per minute.

If any of you try this, do let me know how it goes!

Unexplained thought of the day

Divine agency in the NT, as a christological fact (Christ is at God’s right hand, God created through Christ etc.), is useful much the same way persona / prosopon function in the early church writings: to say Christ is not God the Father. It therefore resists modalism. (It doesn’t work alone in doing this, of course, and it corresponds with the double object of early Christian faith, in God and in Jesus, as mediated and enabled by the Spirit)

On the other hand, the uniqueness of Christ as divine agent, when coupled with key explanatory conditions (the Christ-relation, “monotheistic” faith in God, epistemology etc.), corresponds to the use of ousia in the fathers. Of course, to say “Christ is an utterly unique divine agent” can be misleading. But when the import of “unique” is grasped correctly, i.e. in terms of the 1st century Jewish-Christian knowing of Christology in terms of the way 1st century Jews expressed the transcendent uniqueness of God, namely through the Christ-relation, it is simply to say that Christ is one being with Father – yet, as agent, also that he is not God the Father (modalism).

In this way, the sweep of NT theology points inexorably towards conceptual translation into orthodox Trinitarian formulations. This is one reason why tepid use of “divine agency”, as a category hermeneutically to distinguish Christ in the NT from correspondence with later orthodox divine Christology, is clumsy at best.

I realise that I should explain myself a little more fully. But see the post title.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

The freely acting God Himself and alone is the truth of revelation

“The concept of truths of revelation in the sense of Latin propositions given and sealed once for all with divine authority in both wording and meaning is theologically impossible if it is a fact that revelation is true in the free decision of God which was taken once for all in Jesus Christ, that it is thus strictly future for us, and that it must always become true in the Church in the intractable reality of faith. The freely acting God Himself and alone is the truth of revelation … [O]nly in God and not for us is the true basis of Christian utterance identical with its true content. Hence dogmatics as such does not ask what the apostles and prophets said but what we must say on the basis of the apostles and prophets”

Barth, CD I.1, p.15

Jesus and Brian: A Conference on the Historical Jesus and His Times

20-22 June, 2014 King's College London, The Strand, London, England

This conference20-22 June, 2014 King's College London, The Strand, London, England uses Monty Python's Life of Brian as a scholarly tool to help us consider our own assumptions as we reflect on the New Testament, Jewish history, interpretation and meaning.

It is quite an impressive line up of speakers, including Martin Goodman, George Brooke, Joan Taylor, Bart Ehrman, Amy-Jill Levine, James Crossley, Philip Davies, Helen Bond, Steve Mason, Adele Reinhartz, James Dunn and Paula Fredriksen.

There will also be celebrity guests, reflecting on the film and its initial reception, and obviously plenty of opportunity for discussion.

A superb conference dinner, with star keynote speaker, will be held at historic Inner Temple, hosted by Rev. Robin Griffith-Jones, Master of Temple Church, on Saturday, June 21st.

Costs: Early registration rate of £180 is available until April 30, 2014, and includes all sessions for three days, with lunches and refreshments provided (A reduced student rate is available). The conference dinner is optional, and is available for the supplementary charge of £65. From May 1st, the full conference fee £220 will be charged, also with reduced student rate available.

For further details and booking see: