Friday, 24 October 2014

Barna on Millennials and the Bible

A recent survey of Millennials, conducted by Barna in partnership with American Bible Society and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, sought to explore how Millennials perceive and engage with the Bible.

The following three points emerged:

1. Practising Christian Millennials maintain a high view of Scripture.

2. Non-Christian Millennials hold ambivalent and sometimes extremely negative views about the Bible.

3. Millennials still prefer to engage the Bible in print.

See here for infographics and expansion of the points.

The research was conducted in the United States, so – even if it reflects life on the ground – some adjustment would be necessary for other contexts.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Journal of the Jesus Movement in its Jewish Setting

JJMJS is a peer- reviewed, open-access journal published in collaboration with Eisenbrauns, offering high quality research free of charge to a global audience. The journal aims to advance scholarship on this crucial period in the early history of the Jewish and Christian traditions when they developed into what are today known as two world religions, mutually shaping one another as they did so.’

See here for the Introduction to the journal from which the above paragraph is taken, and here for access to the first issue.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

inCONTEXT 3 (October 2014)

The latest issues of inCONTEXT Magazine, from Ravi Zacharias International Ministries Canada, is available to view here, from where a pdf version can also be downloaded via

This edition contains the following main articles:

Andy Bannister
The Existence of God: Faith, Fact or Fantasy

Vince Vitale
If God, Why Suffering?

Nathan Betts
Can You Trust the Bible?

Abdu Murray
How Firm a Foundation?

Rick Manafo
Does the Resurrection Change Anything?

Friday, 17 October 2014

Mark Labberton on Vocation

Mark Labberton, Called: The Crisis and Promise of Following Jesus Today (Downers Grove: IVP, 2014).

I’m looking forward to seeing this forthcoming book from Mark Labberton, president of Fuller Seminary.

There is a pdf excerpt available from this page.

There’s an early review of it here by Marcus Goodyear, who writes:

‘This little book calls the entire faith and work movement to task, reminding Christians to focus on the First Thing. My career, my success, and my productivity are not elements of my primary calling. A Christian’s calling is not a personal one, but a shared calling with other Christians to something very simple and straightforward: love God and love your neighbor.’

And a little later, and better parsed in my opinion:

‘The calling we share is more important than the manifestation of that general calling in any specific context. In short, your calling to Christ must be the First Thing. Everything else in life must serve that one calling.’

He cites Labberton himself:

‘The vocation of every Christian is to live as a follower of Jesus today. In every aspect of life, in small and large acts, with family, neighbors and enemies, we are to seek to live out the grace and truth of Jesus. This is our vocation, our calling. Today.’

At the bottom of the page is a short video with Labberton, profiling the book.

Fuller also have a page devoted to the book, which includes another video and a downloadable discussion guide.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Snapshots and David A. deSilva on Transformation

I’ve just received what looks like the inaugural volume in a new series – ‘Snapshots’ – edited by Michael Bird and published by Lexham Press:

The blurb for the series doesn’t give away too much...

The Snapshots series, edited by renowned scholar Michael F. Bird, engages significant themes in contemporary biblical and theological scholarship, making them accessible to busy students of the Word and applicable in the life of the church.’

However, deSilva’s book looks interesting, with the chapter titles providing what looks like the flow of the argument:

Introduction: Hearing the Whole of Paul’s Good News

Chapter 1: Foundations for a Broader Understanding of Paul’s Gospel of Transformation

Chapter 2: The Gospel Means the Transformation of the Individual: You Are Free to Become a New Person in Christ

Chapter 3: The Gospel Means the Transformation of Community: You Are Free to Relate to One Another in New Ways

Chapter 4: The Gospel Means the Transformation of the Cosmos: You Are Free from the World’s Rules to Witness to God’s Rule

Currents in Biblical Research 13, 1 (October 2014)

The latest Currents in Biblical Research recently arrived; abstracts of the main articles are as below.

Laura Quick
Recent Research on Ancient Israelite Education: A Bibliographic Essay
This article presents a survey of the recent research which has been making significant progress in examining scribal schools and education in ancient Israel. It specifically treats scholarly recourse to the extra-biblical data provided by epigraphic remains, and discusses the comparative potentials of the wider ancient world itself. Several monograph-length treatments have added substantially to the literature. A brief critical examination of all these works is provided, in order to facilitate the reader’s keeping up with the latest views and opinions concerning such studies. The literature will be treated chronologically, and the most substantial recent contribution by Carr (2011) will be subject to an extensive review, testing Carr’s conclusions against the cumulative weight of earlier findings. Finally, ways of moving forward in treating this subject will be suggested.

Philip R. Davies
Biblical Studies: Fifty Years of a Multi-Discipline
The creation of an autonomous and secular discipline of biblical studies can be traced back through several stages, in particular to cultural changes brought about by the Reformation and the Enlightenment. But it is only in the last 50 years or so that this discipline (more accurately, a multi-discipline) can be truly said to have emerged as distinct from Scripture, which now ought to be treated as a separate discipline belonging to theology rather than the human sciences. This review traces some of the principal themes of this discipline, specifically secularization, colonization and fictionalization. These themes are traced through a number of developments, beginning with the fundamental issue of what constitutes the ‘meaning’ of a text. Finally, it is suggested that the relationship between humanistic biblical studies and theological Scripture is becoming, and will continue to be, more explicitly addressed, but that no clear resolution can be foreseen.

Andrew M. Bowden
An Overview of the Interpretive Approaches to James 5.13-18
James 5.13-18 is a notoriously difficult passage, evidenced by the wide ranging viewpoints and interpretations related to the nature of the sickness and healing in the paragraph. In this article an attempt is made to summarize these various interpretations and to cite the major scholars who hold to these views. A clear, thorough overview of these positions will greatly facilitate discussions on this topic in future investigations.

Andrew J. Kelley
Miracles, Jesus, and Identity: A History of Research regarding Jesus and Miracles with Special Attention to the Gospel of Mark
To write a comprehensive history of research regarding miracle narratives and the Gospels that is also reasonably sized would itself be miraculous. This article attempts to present a history of literature that is faithful to the wealth of research about miracles and Jesus, but at the same time focuses directly on studies most relevant to the narrative of the Gospel of Mark in its final form. The development of miracle studies has multiple facets and has been approached in a variety of disparate ways. In order to facilitate the clearest history of research, the article has placed relevant works into five major categories: history of religions and the theios anēr debate; historical Jesus studies; the miracle, medicine, and magic discussion; comparative, literary, and other studies; and miracles in Mark and the identity of Jesus. Each of these categories are designed to review the history of secondary scholarship regarding Jesus, miracles, and the identity of Jesus as a miracle-worker with special attention to the Gospel of Mark.

Andrew B. Perrin
An Almanac of Tobit Studies: 2000-2014
Arguably the most influential moments in the entire history of Tobit studies were the acquisition of the Qumran cave four Aramaic and Hebrew Tobit fragments in 1952 and their eventual publication in 1995. In light of these events, this article surveys the major advancements in resources and research on the book of Tobit since the turn of the millennium. The present survey establishes the status quaestionis on matters of Tobit’s compositional origins (i.e., language, date, and provenance) as it has emerged in several recent articles, monographs, and commentaries. Following the treatment of background issues, three thematic sections capture the major trends in recent Tobit studies. These include: (1) theories of Tobit’s scribal transmission and related text-critical issues, (2) questions of source material and intertextuality in Tobit’s composition and reception, and (3) a reappraisal of central narrative-theological features in Tobit (i.e., marriage and family, perspectives on burial, and the functions of food) and their potential insight into the book’s socio-historical contexts in ancient Judaism. The study concludes with some brief recommendations and open-ended questions for future research on the book of Tobit.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

More from Centre for Public Christianity (October 2014)

Among other items of interest, The Centre for Public Christianity has posted a video interview with Paula Gooder looking at claims that the apostle Paul ‘was opposed to the body, and affirms Christianity’s endorsement of the physical aspects of creation’, and a video interview with Cambridge Professor Simon Conway Morris ‘about evolutionary convergence and why scientists struggle to eliminate pattern and purpose from their understanding of the natural world’.

Also posted is an audio conversation exploring the concept of the Sabbath and ‘what benefits this ancient practice of taking regular time to rest might have for modern people’.