Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Tim Keller on the Gospel and Humour

Q Ideas has a brief piece by Tim Keller on the gospel and humour.

Sarcastic humour which puts other down, he says, is ‘a form of self-justification’, and ‘self-directed ridicule’ can be ‘just as self-obsessed’. Moreover, another kind of self-righteousness ‘produces a person with little or no sense of humor’.

‘The gospel, however, creates a gentle sense of irony... In gospel-shaped humor, we don’t only poke fun at ourselves. We also can gently poke fun at others, especially our friends, but it is always humor that takes the other seriously and ultimately builds them up as a show of affection.’

Friday, 27 May 2011

Kevin Schut on Jane McGonigal on Video Games

Kevin Schut, ‘Playing with Reality’, Cardus (27 May 2011).

Earlier in the week, a friend directed me to a newish book by Jane McGonigal, Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World (London: Penguin, 2011).

I’ve just spotted a review of it in the latest Cardus update.

N.T. Wright on Bible Translation

N.T. Wright, ‘Lost and Found in Translation: From 1611 to 2011’, ABC Religion and Ethics (10 May 2011).

This sprawling essay by Tom Wright begins with the significance of translation for the Christian faith seen, not least, in the conviction that Jesus is ‘the rightful Lord of all the world’.

‘Translating the message into the world’s many languages is... organically linked to the central claim of the gospel itself... To translate is to imply that, just as the gospel of Jesus is for all people, so the early Christian writings which bear witness to Jesus are for all people.’

He takes in the King James Version of 1611, reflects at some length on the appropriate translation for ‘Christ’ and ‘righteousness’, before making a distinction between the ‘technical accuracy’ of a translation and ‘the accuracy of flavour and feel’. In this respect, commenting on Paul’s letters, he says that it is ‘imperative to allow the New Testament to speak with different tones of voice, aiming often for street-level English rather than the somewhat donnish tradition of the King James, the Revised Standard Version and the New Revised Standard Version’.

He finishes with a mention of his own forthcoming translation of the New Testament which he hopes will perhaps ‘jolt people out of the familiar, and open their eyes and imaginations to new possibilities’.

G.K. Beale on Scripture, Inerrancy, and the Book of Revelation

G.K. Beale, ‘Can the Bible Be Completely Inspired by God and Yet Still Contain Errors? A Response to Some Recent “Evangelical” Proposals’, Westminster Theological Journal 73, 1 (2011), 1-22.

Those familiar with G.K. Beale’s earlier work on Scripture will know of his strong insistence (taking all the usual caveats into account) that Scripture is without error.

This article, from the Spring 2011 edition of Westminster Theological Journal sees Beale engaging less in debate with those who disagree (though he does mention Andrew McGowan’s work at the start) and more in first-order work on a particular biblical text, the book of Revelation in this case, in order to support an inerrant position.

In short:

‘My article will attempt to respond from the book of Revelation to views like that of McGowan. I will contend the following: (1) that John is more explicit about the doctrine of inerrancy than many think; (2) that John, in particular, explicitly refers to Christ’s character as “true” and then applies the attribute of “truth” from Christ’s character to the written word of Revelation as being “true.”’ (2)

His argument unfolds as follows:

1. John’s prophetic commission to write is based on the prophetic commission of Ezekiel to write

Here he notes the several links between the commissions of John and Ezekiel (not just the ‘scroll’ passage in Revelation 10:8-11), seeking to show that for both, the ‘commission entails not only seeing visions from God and hearing God’s word but also putting these visions and divine words into written form’ (4).

‘Their message carries with it the power of God’s word because it is God’s word, and it is this that they are commissioned to deliver... The point of repeatedly applying Ezekiel’s commission to that of John’s throughout the Apocalypse is to underscore that he has the same prophetic authority as Ezekiel the prophet’ (6).

2. The significance of Revelation 22:18-19 for the prophetic authority of the written form of Revelation

He looks at Revelation 22:18-19 (the warning not to add or take away from the book) exploring allusions back to several passages in Deuteronomy (4:1-2; 12:32; 29:19-20). In both cases, he avers, the ‘adding and taking away’ refers ‘to false teaching about the inscripturated word and following such deceptive teaching’ (8).

3. John’s prophetic commission to write true words is based on the truthful character of God and Christ from whom the words come

He recognises that this conclusion about ‘John’s flawless message’ rests ‘technically on logical deductions’ flowing out of the biblical data (i.e., in Ezekiel and Deuteronomy being alluded to in the book of Revelation), but he also contends that ‘they are inferences also explicitly and exegetically deduced later in Revelation itself’ (10-11).

In the remainder of the article, then, he seeks to show ‘(1) that John is commanded to “write” down the oral “words” from God and Christ in a “book,” (2) and the written words will be “faithful and true,” (3) because they come from Christ and God, who are “faithful and true.” (4) And because John writes under prophetic inspiration and authority, what he writes unswervingly represents what he has heard God or Christ say’ (11).

He looks particularly at the ‘faithful and true’ references in Revelation 3:14, 21:5 and 22:6, and the ‘true words of God’ reference in Revelation 19:9.

4. Reflection on the significance of the reference to the written words of Revelation being referred to as authoritative

‘Revelation 19:9, 21:6, 22:6, 18-19 all refer to the written words of the book as “true” or “faithful and true” or as inviolable. The fact that not mere concepts but the very written words are to be seen as without mistake is apparent in noticing especially the specific references in 19:9 and 21:9’ (18).

In the Conclusion he draws attention to Psalm 119:137-142 with its references to God’s character as ‘righteous’ and his written Scripture as likewise ‘righteous’, ‘pure’, and ‘true’, arguing that, like other parts of Scripture, John’s inference is that ‘since God’s character is unswervingly true, his written word of Scripture is unswervingly true’ (21).

Christian Reflection on Freedom

The latest issue of Christian Reflection, published by the Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University, is now available, this one devoted to the topic of freedom. The whole issue is available as a 5.0 MB pdf here, and an accompanying Study Guide is available here. The main articles are as follows:

Robert B. Kruschwitz


Beyond popular notions of political and moral freedom – as freedom from others’ control or freedom of choice – is the deeper freedom for loving God, people, and the created order. How do resources in Scripture and Christian tradition teach us this freedom of living with God?

Richard Bauckham

Freedom and Belonging

Freedom is such a potent – even a magic – word that it can become dangerous. Indeed, some ways of understanding and practicing freedom make it destructive of community. How can resources in the Bible and Christian tradition help us construct a positive relationship between freedom and belonging?

Bruce W. Longenecker

Paul’s Assessment of Christian Freedom

In an awkward but memorable phrase, Paul declares: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” The story of Jesus Christ, as it comes to life in his followers, is a story of freedom, to be sure, but a freedom constrained by the Cross and deeply at odds with individualistic notions of liberty.

Scott Bader-Saye

Authority, Autonomy, and the Freedom to Love

We should be critical of the modern idolatry of autonomy even as we continue to be skeptical about unchecked authority. But if freedom as detachment does not produce real freedom and if authority as coercion only feeds resentment, what alternative vision can the Church offer?

Jason D. Whitt

The Baptist Contribution to Liberty

Any contemporary view of religious freedom that isolates and internalizes faith is contrary to the freedom envisioned by the early Baptists who called for religious liberty. They aimed to create a distinct people whose lives were disciplined by and bound to God and one another.

Heather Hughes

Deepening the Mystery of Freedom

As freedom becomes the single ambition that possesses Hazel Motes – the protagonist in Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood – its competing definitions dramatically play out through plot twists and turns. “Freedom cannot be conceived simply,” O’Connor notes. “It is a mystery and one which a novel… can only be asked to deepen.”

William H. Willimon


The freedom of American, democratic, popular, capitalist culture is based on the fiction of a self-constructed self. Thus, the heart of the Christian life seems a holy paradox: the more securely we are tethered to Christ, obedient to his way rather than the world’s ways, the more free we become.

Matt Cook

A Picture of Freedom

In a wilderness devoid of bread, but full of stones, we learn a powerful lesson from Christ. True freedom comes not when we can do whatever we want, when we want to do it. True freedom is not in-dependence, but in dependence.

Philip D. Kenneson

The Nature of Christian Freedom

In our “freedom”-saturated culture, we rarely consider that what Scripture and tradition mean by “freedom” may be seriously at odds with many assumptions that underwrite everyday American usage and practice. Three fine books offer insight into critical issues regarding the nature of Christian freedom.

Coleman Fannin

Being Christian in a Democratic State

Moving beyond polarizing political positions, the three books reviewed here uncouple democracy from the violent and commodifying machinery of the modern nation-state. They point toward a rich shared life in families, communities, and cities oriented toward the common good.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Equip to Disciple Issue One (2011)

The first 2011 issue of Equip to Disciple is online here (4.6 MB pdf), carrying its usual assortment of brief articles and reviews (in amongst a load of adverts). The lead piece, by Dennis G. Bennett, is devoted to Christian education.

Charles Dunahoo notes in the Editorial that ‘Christian education is basic to all the church’s ministry, be it mercy ministry, missions, evangelism, or whatever the church does’ (4).

Africanus Journal 3, 1 (April 2011)

The most-recent Africanus Journal (published by the Africanus Guild, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) contains the following main articles, in addition to a couple of book reviews.

Jared E. Alcántara and Jeffrey D. Arthurs

Perpetually Connected?: The Effects and Implications of Ambient Technology on Christian Worshipers

Megan K. DeFranza

Sexuality and the Image of God: Dangers in Evangelical and Roman Catholic Theologies of the Body

William David Spencer

Is He Risen Indeed? Challenges to Jesus’ Resurrection from the Sanhedrin to the Jesus Family Tomb

Susan Sogar

Dan Brown’s Jesus: Fact or Fiction?

Woodrow E. Walton

The Nickel Mines Massacre and the Amish Theology of the Atonement and Discipleship

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Foundations 60 (Spring 2011) on Scripture

After a break in its publication, the first online edition of Foundations: An International Journal of Evangelical Theology, published by Affinity, is now freely available (here).

This edition contains some of the papers given at the Affinity Theological Studies Conference, held in February 2011, which was devoted to the doctrine and function of Scripture in the 21st century.

The contents are as follows:

Carl R. Trueman

Is the Princeton View of Scripture an Enlightenment Innovation?

Peter Naylor

Lost in the Old Testament? Literary Genres and Evangelical Hermeneutics

Greg Beale

The Right Doctrine, Wrong Texts: Can we follow the Apostles’ Doctrine but not their Hermeneutic?

Stephen Clark

The Use of the Bible in the Church

Hywel R. Jones

Preaching the Word in the Power of the Holy Spirit

Catherine Playoust on Gathering and Scattering

Catherine Playoust, ‘A Time to Scatter, a Time to Gather’, Pacifica 23, 1 (2010), 1-14.

One of the leitmotifs of London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, where I work, is the distinction between the church as ‘gathered’ (coming together as one body for worship, teaching, sacraments, etc.) and ‘scattered’ (in the various places we find ourselves during the week). While both aspects are crucial and interdependent, ecclesiology can tend to focus on the former to the neglect of the latter.

So, I was interested to see this article (available from here) by Catherine Playoust devoted to the theme of scattering and gathering. She does a nice job of summarising the main uses of this image in Scripture itself:

‘In deciding what to include, I didn’t go in search of particular Greek or Hebrew words, but looked for places in which these ideas came up. They emerged in three main contexts, often interlocking: the sowing of seed to produce a harvest that will be gathered in; the dispersal of a multitude and its subsequent restoration to its own land; and the assembly of a group for a particular occasion, after which the members of the assembly are sent out to various places with the group’s goals in mind’ (2).

A brief exploration of these gives way to a more extended look at the gospel of John, where she notes that ‘instead of the crucifixion being the time of scattering and sorrow, to be followed by gathering and joy at the resurrection, the gathering and joy happen already at the crucifixion’ (11).

Friday, 20 May 2011

Glen Davis on Pre-Christian Uses of ‘Gospel’

Mike Bird links to a post by Glen Davis who has put together a handy list of pre-Christian uses of the word euangelion and euangelia.

Davis himself says that his list is ‘close to every pre-Christian use of the noun euangelion’, though he ‘did not investigate the verbal form euangelizomai (which is ‘relatively rare in ancient Greek, but common in the New Testament’).

He also notes that ‘the New Testament often talks of the gospel in the singular (to euangelion), but in pre-Christian literature the form used is almost always different (it is usually plural and often does not have the definite article attached). Even though Jesus and the first Christians used a word from their culture, they clearly invested it with new meaning and placed an unprecedented emphasis upon it’.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Missional Journal 5, 2 (May 2011)

After more than a decade of analysis about the missional church, David Dunbar asks (in his latest Missional Journal), ‘Where’s the beef?’

On reasons for the seeming lack of ‘concrete results’, Dunbar begins by citing the ‘residual influences of Christendom’:

‘Although the cultural situation in much of North America may now be described as post-Christendom, many remnants of Christendom are still with us... not least in the thinking and practice of many Christians. Thus many of us assume a building-centered approach to church, ministry, and evangelism. We assume that we can speak and act from a position of cultural favor and influence. And we remain deeply shaped by a clergy-laity distinction that was powerfully rooted and formed in Christendom (even though the beginning of the distinction predates Constantine).’

Change is only likely to come about, he says, by ‘regular and repeated teaching around the themes like the mission of God, the gospel of the kingdom, and the sending of the church’, by missional leaders finding ‘congregational allies – “early adopters” who will share the vision for mission and help them hold course in the face of opposition or discouragement’, and by reaching out to ‘other congregations on the same journey for wisdom, encouragement, and partnership’.

He also suggests there has been ‘an absence of models available to help churches think concretely about what it might look like follow Jesus into the world and how leaders could actually process congregations through this change’.

In addition is the challenge of formation, the fact that ‘missionally focused churches face the same problems that other groups do: forming mature disciples is a tough row upstream’.

He concludes:

‘Missional is not just another program for busy people – it is a divine call to be a different kind of people, a people formed by the gospel to embody the gospel in the totality of their daily lives. That’s where the beef is! And this is the challenge before us – it will require time, energy, wisdom, and focus to move the theoretical discussion to incarnational reality.’

Roger E. Olson on Reforming the Reformed

A few posts back, I referred (here) to a new book by Kenneth J. Stewart – Ten Myths About Calvinism: Recovering the Breadth of the Reformed Tradition (Nottingham: Apollos, 2011).

Though not himself a Calvinist, Roger E. Olson has written a largely sympathetic review of the book for Christianity Today, saying: ‘I find Stewart's approach refreshing; it gives me hope that both sides can be self-critical and fair as they discuss their differences.’

As Olson notes:

‘[Stewart] has not abandoned Calvin, predestination, or TULIP. He affirms Calvin as a major part of the Reformed tradition while arguing, like many of his Reformed contemporaries, against slavish imitation. He embraces the doctrine of predestination as unconditional election of all individuals, either to heaven or hell, while contending for enough breadth within the Reformed tradition to favor single predestination. And he criticizes TULIP mainly for its ungenerous language and extreme interpretations, preferring, for example, “definite atonement” or “particular redemption” to “limited atonement,” because the latter seems to limit the value of Christ’s death.’


‘By correcting contemporary Calvinist myths about Calvinism, Stewart intends to overcome a “self-imposed ghettoization” that may evidence “an unacknowledged remnant of the fundamentalist era of the early twentieth century.” He calls for all Calvinists to be more historically aware, to stop thinking of Calvinism as a system derived straightforwardly from the pages of the Bible... Stewart concludes that the new Calvinists need to recognize how their movement “stands in succession to and dependency on … earlier movements.”’

Olson concludes that ‘Young, restless, Reformed Calvinists – indeed, all of Geneva’s progeny – ought to heed the sage advice of this Reformed theology professor and scholar of Calvinist history’.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Vern S. Poythress on Redeeming Sociology

Vern S. Poythress, Redeeming Sociology: A God-Centered Approach (Wheaton: Crossway, 2011), 352pp., ISBN 9781433521294.

I don’t know they manage to do it, but this brand new book is freely available in its entirety as a 3.4 MB pdf here.

It’s along the same lines as Poythress’ earlier Redeeming Science: A God-Centered Approach (2006) and In the Beginning Was the Word: Language—A God-Centered Approach (2009).

This one is centred around social relationships:

‘God is the Creator of the whole world in all its dimensions. He has established his own wise order for our relationships. His order and his presence are essential to life and to relationships. We need to learn how to praise God for the world of relationships that he has given us’ (11).

Alongside Scripture, he names Abraham Kuyper as a source for his thinking; but as he nicely notes:

‘In the generations after Kuyper a number of people took up Kuyper’s challenge. They worked at transformation of thought. Advances took place. But along with the advances came some misjudgments, in my opinion. So work still needs to be done. And that is why I am writing. Reflection needs to continue in the natural sciences and in linguistics and sociology. So I have produced the books in these three areas. Others, I hope, will build on what I have done and will correct what I still have left amiss’ (14).

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

2011 Wheaton Theology Conference on Global Theology in Evangelical Perspective

The 2011 Wheaton Theology Conference (held on 7-9 April 2011) was devoted to ‘Global Theology in Evangelical Perspective’, exploring the past, present and future shape of biblical interpretation and theological engagement in the Majority World. Audio and video recordings of all conference sessions are now available for free download here.

Tyndale Bulletin 62.1 (2011)

The latest Tyndale Bulletin is out, containing the below articles. I’m particularly looking forward to Robin Parry’s essay on Lamentations, David Mathewson’s on Jesus’ baptism and temptation, and Seyoon Kim’s on Pauline paraenesis.


Alan Millard

The Ostracon from the Days of David Found at Khirbet Qeiyafa

A newly discovered ostracon at Khirbet Qeiyafa which dates from about 1000 BC is a welcome addition to the meagre examples of writing which survive from that period. The letters are difficult to read and the language may be Hebrew, Canaanite, Phoenician or Moabite. Translations range from a list of names to commands concerning social justice. The simplest explanation is that this is a list of Hebrew and Canaanite names written by someone unused to writing. They help to suggest that writing was practised by non-scribes, so the skill may have been widespread.

Yong Ho Jeon

The Retroactive Re-Evaluation Technique with Pharaoh’s Daughter and the Nature of Solomon’s Corruption in 1 Kings 1–12

In the Solomon narrative in Kings (1 Kgs 1–12), Solomon’s faults are explicitly criticised only in 1 Kings 11, in relation to his marriage with foreign women. However, his intermarriage with Pharaoh’s daughter appears in earlier parts of the narrative (1 Kgs 3:1; 7:8; 9:16, 24) without any explicit criticism. Using a ‘reader-sensitive’ approach, which presumes that the author of the narrative tries to exploit the reader’s reading process and prior knowledge, we show that the writer is using a ‘retroactive re-evaluation technique’ in his reference to ‘Pharaoh’s daughter’ (the technique means that the author guides his reader to re-evaluate previous passages in light of new information). Additionally, through a theological reading of the narrative, the nature of Solomon’s corruption is revealed as his ‘return to Egypt’. This fits well with the ‘retroactive re-evaluation technique’, explaining why the references to ‘Pharaoh’s daughter’ are arranged in the way that they are.

Richard Abbott

Forked Parallelism in Egyptian, Ugaritic and Hebrew Poetry

A particular pattern of tricolon or triplet, sometimes known as forked parallelism, has been identified in Ugaritic and early Hebrew poetry. It has been suggested that it is a characteristic style of Canaanite or ancient Semitic poetry, and noted that in the Hebrew Bible its use declines dramatically outside the archaic and early examples of poetry. Hence it can be seen as a stylistic indicator suggesting authentic early composition of some portions of the Hebrew Bible. This paper shows that the pattern was also used as a regular feature in some genres of Egyptian poetry from the Old Kingdom through to the end of the New Kingdom. At that time it appears to have ceased being a device regularly used by Egyptian poets, in parallel with their counterparts in the Levant. Thus the use, and subsequent decline, of this pattern in Israel is a local reflection of a wider aesthetic choice rather than an isolated phenomenon. The structural uses of this and some other triplet patterns are reviewed, and some clear poetic purposes identified. This review also highlights some differences between the typical poetic use of triplets in Ugaritic, Hebrew and Egyptian. Some typical triplet patterns used in Ugaritic and Hebrew are not found in Egyptian sources.

Robin Parry

Lamentations and the Poetic Politics of Prayer

The first half of this paper seeks to make explicit the political dimensions of the text of Lamentations. The poetry vividly depicts the political use of violence in the destruction of a society. Judah is ruined politically, economically, socially, and religiously by the Babylonians for political ends. In the second half of the paper I argue that Lamentations contributes to our theo-political reflections not so much in its provision of new conceptual categories, nor even in its sharpening of categories already in place but rather in its power for shaping the emotional, ethical-political response of its audiences (human and divine). The readers are invited to bring political calamity into God’s presence and to seek salvation; they are encouraged to look with merciful eyes at victims of political violence even if those victims are not ‘innocent’; they are encouraged to see political evil for what it is and to speak its name; they are guided towards becoming honest-to-God lamenters and God-dependent pray-ers who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

David Mathewson

The Apocalyptic Vision of Jesus According to the Gospel of Matthew: Reading Matthew 3:16–4:11 Intertextually

There has been much discussion on the relationship of Jesus to apocalyptic. What has been missing is a demonstration that Jesus participated in what is at the heart of literature labeled ‘apocalyptic’: a visionary experience of a transcendent reality. This article argues that Jesus’ post-baptismal experience and the temptation narrative that follows, particularly as recorded in Matthew 3:16–4.11, portray Jesus as undergoing such an apocalyptic visionary experience which resembles closely the visionary experience of early Jewish and Christian apocalypses. Thus, with the opening of the heavens to the final temptation, Matthew 3:16–4.11 depicts a third person account of a sustained visionary experience modeled intertextually after classic apocalyptic seers (Ezekiel, Isaiah, Enoch). Jesus’ apocalyptic vision functions to authenticate Jesus’ role as divine spokesperson for God and provides a perspective for the struggle that will ensue in the rest of Matthew.

Seyoon Kim

Paul’s Common Paraenesis (1 Thess. 4–5; Phil. 2–4; and Rom. 12–13): The Correspondence between Romans 1:18-32 and 12:1-2, and the Unity of Romans 12–13

First Thessalonians 5:12-24; Romans 12:9-21; and Philippians 4:2-9 show close parallels, while their wider contexts (1 Thess. 4–5; Rom. 12–13; and Phil. 3:17–4:9) also display a substantial parallelism. This observation leads us to affirm Paul’s common paraenesis (cf. 1 Cor. 4:17), and helps us see what he considers the fundamental way of Christian existence (cf. Gal. 5:22-25). Then, this observation helps us also see (a) the correspondence between Romans 1:18-32 and 12:1-2; (b) the unity of Romans 12–13 as a whole, in which Romans 12:1-2 and 13:11-14 form an inclusio, which are, respectively, the thesis statement and the concluding statement about the Daseinsweise of the redeemed in contrast to that of fallen humanity in Romans 1:18-21; and (c) the consistent line of Paul’s thinking in Romans, which is sustained through his Adam-Christ antithesis (5:12-21). Finally, the notion of Paul’s common paraenesis enables us to conduct a comparative study of the paraenetical sections of the various epistles of Paul and to appreciate the distinctive elements in a given epistle (e.g. the extended elaboration of the theme of ‘living peaceably with all’ in Rom. 12:14–13:10) in terms of the particular needs of the recipients of that epistle.

J. Christopher Edwards

The Christology of Titus 2:13 and 1 Timothy 2:5

This article makes an acute observation about the strong similarities between Titus 2:11-14 and 1 Timothy 2:1-7. These similarities are significant because they suggest that it is not valid to translate Titus 2:13 as: ‘The glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.’ This traditional translation affirms Jesus’ deity by ascribing to him the title of θεός.

Murray J. Harris

A Brief Response to ‘The Christology of Titus 2:13 and 1 Tim. 2:5’ by J. Christopher Edwards

Dissertation Summaries

Pieter De Vries

The Glory of Yhwh in the Old Testament with Special Attention to the Book of Ezekiel

This study focuses on the use of כָּבוֹד in the Old Testament and especially in the book of Ezekiel. The specific approach of this study is not only to analyse כָּבוֹד itself but also its most important synonyms as well as its main equivalent in Aramaic, יְקָר. Biblical texts are approached from a canonical perspective, and the synchronic approach prevails over the diachronic.

Philipp Fabian Bartholomä

The Johannine Discourses and the Teaching of Jesus in the Synoptics: A Comparative Approach to the Authenticity of Jesus’ Words in the Fourth Gospel

The main subject of this dissertation is the correlation between the alleged relationship of the Johannine discourses with the teaching of Jesus in the Synoptics on the one hand and the assessment of the authenticity of Jesus’ words in the Fourth Gospel on the other. Generally speaking, the Johannine discourses have received comparatively little attention as reliable and thus valuable sources for the teaching of the historical Jesus, not least owing to the fact that even a cursory glance at John and the Synoptic Gospels reveals obvious differences between how Jesus’ words are presented. These differences have frequently been perceived as too great to accept the Johannine discourses as authentic representations of Jesus’ teaching, especially when placed alongside Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

Edification: The Transdisciplinary Journal of Christian Psychology

Edification is published twice a year by the Society for Christian Psychology. Each issue begins with a discussion article followed by open peer commentaries that examine the arguments of that paper. The goal is to promote edifying dialogues on issues of interest to the Christian psychological community. Volume 4, Issue 1 (2010) carried pieces around the significance for Christian psychologists of Kevin Vanhoozer’s ‘theodrama’ proposal.

Leslie Leyland Fields on Bible Smartphone Apps

Leslie Leyland Fields, ‘People of the Nook’, Christianity Today (16 May 2011).

Leslie Leyland Fields writes a short piece on ‘what Bible smartphone apps tell us about the Book’.

Here’s how she finishes:

‘This unprecedented ability to carry the words of God almost weightlessly everywhere I go, and to read them on the same device that helps me manage my life, strikes me as utterly theologically fitting. I am reminded of the priesthood of all believers, and the Scriptures’ self-definition as the “words of life” – meaning, surely, at least this: words that are to inform and infuse every part of our lives, commingling with breath mints, photos, and phone calls.

‘We may forget at times the lineage of these words, but our eagerness to put the Scriptures onto scrolls first, and onto electronic screens much later, is more than a love of invention and gadgetry, I believe. It’s a timeless need for life-giving truths. It’s love for the Book.’

Friday, 13 May 2011

The Centre for Social Justice on the First Year of the Coalition

The Centre for Social Justice has published a ‘report card’ for the first year of the Coalition Government – Building a Social Recovery? A First Year Report Card on the Coalition Government.

Gavin Poole, CSJ Executive Director, writes:

‘Our report card reveals that the Government’s first year of action has been mixed. Pioneering progress in pursuing welfare reform and an encouraging new direction for drug and alcohol policy have been undermined by poor implementation of bold education plans, and compromise-driven inaction in tackling our devastating culture of family breakdown... Ministers have made a promising start in key areas, but other important commitments risk proving nothing more than rhetoric. If the Coalition is serious about building a social recovery alongside an economic one, there is much more to be done next year.’

They score the Government on the five key areas identified as pathways to poverty: family breakdown, economic dependency, serious personal debt, drug and alcohol addiction, and educational failure.

Here are the marks they award:

Family breakdown – 2/10

Economic dependency – 8/10

Educational failure – 6/10

Addiction – 7/10

Serious personal debt – 6/10

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Ecclesia Reformanda 3, 1 (April 2011)

The latest Ecclesia Reformanda arrived this morning, this issue containing the following articles:

Steffen Jenkins

Served to Serve: Why Food is Central to the Anthropology of Creation in Genesis 1-3 and to the Plot of Genesis

The book of Genesis is laden with references to food. Recent scholarship has begun to pay attention to food in the Bible and especially found that it functions as a Leitmotif in the Joseph narrative which concludes Genesis. This article will demonstrate that food is central to the opening three chapters of the book. Creation and the place of people within it cannot be understood without close attention to food, which explains its prominent place and function in the rest of Genesis. We conclude with some reflections on the food imagery of redemption on the lips of Jesus, and by noting the inescapably earthy and physical contribution of food to the future hope held out in the gospel.

Neil G.T. Jeffers

Reformed Defences of God’s Righteousness in Ordaining the Fall. Part Two

This concludes the treatment of Reformed defences of God’s righteousness in ordaining the Fall begun in Ecclesia Reformanda 2.2 (2010): 154-185. The conclusion focuses particularly on the evaluation of divine permission as a defence.

Alastair Roberts

Just Cause Against Same-Sex Marriage: Why We Cannot Hold Our Peace

As the questions raised by same-sex marriage are frequently foreclosed for participants from the various sides of the debate, the particular issues that they highlight are seldom given the sustained and close attention that they merit. Placing the argument against same-sex marriage on a broad foundation, these articles explore the ways in which its legalization would transform the institution, in its relationship to individuals, the genders, marriage partners, children, society, and past and future generations. By emphasizing these distinct matters, Christians will be better equipped to establish points of contact around which meaningful dialogue can be forged.

Book Reviews

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Mark Noll on the King James Version

Mark Noll, ‘A World Without the King James Version’, Christianity Today (6 May 2011).

Mark Noll has a longish piece in Christianity Today on the King James Bible in which he asks where we would be without the most popular English Bible ever.

Interestingly, he finishes by writing about the ‘mixed blessings’ of the predominance of the translation:

‘When the KJV became the cultural and literary standard for the entire English-speaking world, it was easier to focus on the literary excellence of the translation without stopping to face the divine imperatives and promises that are any Bible’s primary reason for existence. The pervasive cultural presence of this Bible also made it easy to exploit scriptural words, phrases, images, and allusions for their evocative power, even when those uses contradicted the Bible’s basic spiritual meaning.

‘Yet even soberly considered, the immense good accomplished in and through the KJV is a marvel. When the KJV became the cultural and literary standard for the entire English-speaking world, the spiritual impact of the Bible was certainly enhanced because the scriptural message was carried far and wide via an all-pervasive cultural standard. The substance of divine revelation that lay immediately beneath the words of the KJV could also exert a dramatic public impact for good, precisely because this translation so dominated the English-speaking world.’

Monday, 9 May 2011

Flic Everett on the King James Bible

Flic Everett, ‘The Ultimate Bestseller’, Stylist Issue 76 (4 May 2011), 40-42.

On all sorts of levels, I’m fascinated by this...

In amongst profiles of Karren Brady and Gwyneth Paltrow, beauty tips, fashion pages, and perfume adverts, this May 2011 issue of Stylist carries a piece on the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. Apart from a few infelicities here and there, in my opinion, it’s a good summary piece. Page 42 carries a helpful panel of 10 ways the Bible has inspired culture, taking in examples from songs, art, novels, music, and film.