Saturday, December 20, 2014

Was Jesus “designated” to be Son of God, implying a change of status?

Ever since I read Daniel Kirk on this (around page 40 of his Unlocking Romans) I have tended towards the translation “designated” – for the reasons Daniel gives (a fact I didn’t see as problematic for a divine Christology in the way I present it). But NTW may have changed my mind!

Tom Wright on ὁρίζω in Rom. 1:4

It is important to stress here, as I have done elsewhere, that though the resurrection thus unveils what was there before, it does not confer or create a new status or identity for Jesus. The key word horisthentos, with its root meaning to do with ‘marking a boundary’, and hence ‘defining’ or ‘determining’, has to do with the public clarification, validation or vindication of a previously made claim, not with a claim or status newly introduced. That is quite clear for three reasons. First, in the passages we studied earlier it is the death of God’s son that reveals God’s love in Romans 5 and 8, and for that to make any sense Jesus must obviously have been ‘God’s son’ when he was crucified. Second, in Romans 1:3–4 itself, the messianic status of ‘son of David’ already, according to Psalm 2 and 2 Samuel 7, implied that this person was ‘son of God’, so that the logical order of verses 3 and 4 has the force of a Davidic messianic claim to divine sonship being then validated in the resurrection. Third, and also in this passage, the whole double clause is introduced by the phrase ‘the gospel of God … concerning his son’: in other words, the ‘son’ is the subject of the whole sequence. If there is anything new about Jesus’ post-resurrection sonship in this verse, it is simply that his sonship, possessed all along, is now ‘in power’

--- Paul and the Faithfulness of God, p. 700

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Reviewing NTW’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God

I’m presently writing a review for Anvil of Wright’s PFG. As I expected, there is much here which has wound me up, much with which I disagree. But equally, and as I expected, there is much to admire, and I have learnt again to appreciate the brilliance and breadth of Wright’s vision and skill. Those who simply dismiss Wright’s massive work—for whatever reason—are deluding themselves! Also, there are nuggets on the way such as this:

‘body’, ‘flesh’, ‘mind’, ‘heart’, ‘spirit’, ‘soul’ and ‘will’. These words sometimes appear to designate different ‘parts’ of a human being, but, as many have pointed out, it is better to see them as each encoding a particular way of looking at the human being as a whole but from one particular angle (491)

Useful. I often hear, in evangelical circles of a more charismatic bent, that a precise analysis of biblical anthropological language is a key for discipleship. But I don’t think we should, properly speaking, talk about an anthropology that the bible is “about” at all (what it is “about” for the church is defined in terms of the Word of God). Either way, Wright’s point here is a useful way of teaching on those issues.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Barthian Actualism in 5 steps

Okay theologian friends, here is my summary of the logic involved in affirming actualistic theology. I've used Nimmo (Being in Action plus his article in the Westminster Handbook to Karl Barth) in the main.

A) is this broadly correct? and
B) if you think this is a faulty theological vision, where does it go wrong?

Actualism, in a nutshell, "conceives of God and Jesus Christ, and (derivatively) of human beings, as beings-in-action" (Nimmo). To get there, it argues (while not pinning anything on the numbering which, to an extent, artificially separates united points):

1. God is who he is in revelation
2.a. This revelation involves events, acts
2.b. This divine "eventfulness" specifically has the name "Jesus"
3.a. So God's being is eventful, active, being-in-action
3.b. As the elect one, and electing God, this divine being-in-action names the event in which God elects to be God for us, and in do doing constitutes himself - his own being - in terms of this particular grace and love.

But actualistic ontology is a christological vision for all of theology, so:

4. This further entails that actualistic theology frames and structures anthropology (which for Barth derives from Christology) —we too are beings-in-action— and thus Barth's theological ethics. It also has ramifications for proclamation and Scripture becoming the Word of God, and the being-in-action of the church.
5. This is to say that actualistic theology resists any being-not-in-action, anything "static", whether it be speech about God, humans, or whatever else. It involves a "Nein", in other words, to substantialistic theology "in which God and human beings would be construed as fixed and determinate quantities in a certain abstraction from their histories, acts, and relationships" (Nimmo in The Westminster Handbook)

Tuesday, December 02, 2014


I was interviewed about my forthcoming Eerdmans book while at SBLAAR couple of weeks ago. The proper video will be released early next year. This was a section responding to questions via Tweets (read: Twits).

Me on "Paul, Evil, and Justification Debates" at St Mary's