Tuesday 1 May 2012

Conspectus 13 (March 2012)

The latest Conspectus, from South African Theological Seminary, is now out (available here as a pdf), containing an interesting mix of main essays:
Annang Asumang
Modelling the Gospel in Joyful Partnership: Exemplars and the Uniting Theme of Philippians
Most interpreters now recognize the literary unity and integrity of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. This consensus has however made the question of the letter’s uniting theme a matter of urgent inquiry for biblical scholars and preachers alike. Even here, significant advances have of late been made; but, questions remain. The aim of this article in the light of this progress is threefold. It will first evaluate some of the key proposals for the letter’s uniting theme. Secondly, it will propose that ‘modelling the gospel in joyful partnership’ best represents the uniting theme of Philippians. And thirdly, it will demonstrate that Paul extensively employs positive and negative exemplars to illustrate this theme in each section of the letter. The article concludes by highlighting the contribution of Philippians to current reflections on New Testament ethics.
Frank Jabini
Witness to the End of the World: A Missional Reading of Acts 8:26-40
In Acts 1:8, Christ told his disciples that they will be his witness ‘to the ends of the earth’. The article argued that Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-40 was the beginning of a witness among people who were considered to live at the end of the world. In this article, the biblical account was read from a missional exegetical perspective, and it discussed the sharing of Christ in a personal encounter and the Christ-centred message based on a translation of the Word of God. This event opened the door for an African to join the worldwide church, the body of Christ. The article concludes with the identification of five general principles that are significant for the church today in light of this passage.
Russell A. Morris and Daniel T. Lioy
A Historical and Theological Framework for Understanding Word of Faith Theology
This journal article offers a historical background and contemporary framework in order to facilitate a better understanding of word of faith theology. The essay first considers the historical origins of the word of faith movement. In this section, three principal sources are noted. Second, the essay offers several contextual influences which have affected the word of faith movement. Here, five influences are briefly assessed. Third, an assessment of four key persons in the development of the movement is presented. Fourth, key components in the development of the word of faith message are appraised. Finally, four primary tenets of word of faith theology are assessed per their continuity with orthodox evangelical theology.
Christopher Peppler
The Christocentric Principle: A Jesus-Centred Hermeneutic
There are many different understandings of the word ‘christocentric’, both among past and current scholars. In this article, the author aligns with those who regard the life, teaching, and person of the Lord Jesus Christ as the locus of doctrinal formulation and proclamation, but applies this approach specifically to the hermeneutic enterprise. The key contention is that scripture should be interpreted primarily from the perspective of either of Jesus’ character, values, principles, and priorities as revealed directly or indirectly by the biblical revelation of what he said and did. This is called the ‘christocentric principle’. The article proceeds from interacting with other scholars who hold a similar view, to identifying the biblical support for the argument, to a brief example of how the principle can be applied. Before concluding, the author deals briefly with some objections to the central idea espoused.
Thomas Scarborough
Reconciling the Personal and Social Dimensions of the Gospel
Historically, there has been considerable awkwardness and difficulty in harmonising the personal and social dimensions of the gospel. The purpose of this article is to develop an integrative motif through which it may be possible to set these dimensions on the same conceptual footing. In terms of this motif, our world is fundamentally relational. Further, it contains an infinity of relations. Within this infinity of relations, we employ thematic perspectives to trace finite microcosms of relations. However, thematic perspectives, both personal and social, are ontologically flawed, and drive us to despair. This is interpreted theologically in terms of sin and repentance.
David B. Woods
Interpreting Peter’s Vision in Acts 10:9-16
The paper challenges the traditional Christian interpretation of Peter’s vision in Acts 10:9-16. The text, in its biblical context, and together with related developments in early church history, point conclusively to a single interpretation: that the Gentiles have been cleansed by God. The vision does not nullify Jewish dietary laws or the Mosaic Law in general, since there is no support for the interpretation that the vision also pertains to the cleansing of unclean food. This conclusion contradicts the traditional Christian interpretation that the vision has a two-fold meaning, though it is not unique in the literature. The main implication is that Christians need to reassess their reading of the New Testament, and especially Paul, on the Law, in the light of recent literature which challenges traditional interpretations and posits various solutions to age-old disputes.
Book Reviews

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