Tuesday 31 December 2013

Foundations 65 (Autumn 2013)

Issue 65 of Foundations: An International Journal of Evangelical Theology, published by Affinity, is now available (here in its entirety as a pdf), with the following contributions:

Ralph Cunnington

Robert Strivens
Evangelical Spirituality in Eighteenth-Century Dissent: Philip Doddridge and John Gill

Andrew Towner
Gathered Worship: Personal Preference or Sacrificial Service?

Mark Pickett
The Changing Architecture of Global Mission

David McKay
Augustine on Revelation 20: A Root of Amillennialism

Ted Turnau
Review Article: Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works (James K.A. Smith)

Robert Strivens
Review Article: Romans: The Divine Marriage (Tom Holland)

Book Reviews

Wednesday 25 December 2013

Thronging Angels Hailed His Birth

The thronging angels hailed His birth,
Their chorus woke the morn.
But not for them He came to earth –
Unto us a child is born!

This wondrous Child is of our kin,
Though Lord of earth and heaven,
Redeemer from the curse of sin –
Unto us a Son is given.

For God spared not His only Son,
The Saviour freely came,
Endured until His work was done,
For Jesus is His name!

We who have greater cause than they
Acclaim with them the morn,
With angels and archangels say,
Hallelujah! Christ is born!

Words by Frank Houghton (1894-1972), who served as General Director of the China Inland Mission (now OMF) between 1940 and 1951.

Monday 23 December 2013

Mission Catalyst

I’ve been meaning to post on this for a while, and the arrival of Issue 1 for 2014 finally prompted me to do so.

Mission Catalyst is a quarterly publication, produced by BMS World Mission. According to its blurb, ‘in a world increasingly influenced by both secularism and a plurality of religious views, Mission Catalyst seeks to prepare Christians in positions of influence and leadership for the mission of the mind’.

Issues are topical and contain a variety of shortish, readable articles. The current issue contains several pieces on end of life issues.

Hard copies are available via a free subscription, but the publication is also available online, including a good collection of archived issues, all downloadable as pdfs.

D.A. Carson on Hebrews

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School has kindly posted online videos of four lectures by D.A. Carson on Hebrews, part of a longer module on ‘Acts, Pauline, and General Epistles’ taught by Carson.

As well as the videos, transcripts of the lectures are available from the same page.

Here’s the blurb:

‘In these four lectures, Dr. Carson covers the basic questions involved in interpreting Hebrews such as authorship, date of composition, and intended audience, as well as covering its content and focusing in particular on major themes of Christology. Hebrews is unique in the New Testament in its explanation of Christ’s high priestly work and its extended application of Yom Kippur imagery to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Dr. Carson highlights the unique, once-for-all quality of Jesus’ sacrificial death as presented by Hebrews as well as the reality of Christ’s ongoing high priestly ministry on behalf of believers.’

Thursday 19 December 2013

Journal of Biblical Counseling 27, 3 (2013)

The latest issue of the Journal of Biblical Counseling is now available ($10 for a year’s electronic subscription of three issues), this one containing the following pieces:


Featured Articles

Matthew C. Mitchell
A Gallery of Gossips
We’ve all been guilty of talking about others. Stories about other people titillate us, tempting us to pass the story on to the next person. Matt Mitchell helpfully identifies five common types of gossips. He explores the potential motivations of each, and pinpoints how the gospel of Christ provides an escape from the temptation to gossip.

Joshua Blount
Lessons from Proverbs: Not Just a Collection of One-Liners
Josh Blount identifies a problem all minsters struggle with: how do the big truths of the gospel connect to the daily details of a person’s life? Blount finds help for this question in the book of Proverbs. He traces the connection between the larger story of redemption and those succinct, practical bits of wisdom in Proverbs and offers advice for pastors and counselors about how to help others live out their faith in the everyday.

Pierce Taylor Hibbs
Words of Counsel – Part 2: Letting Words Work
In Part 2 of ‘Words of Counsel,’ Hibbs provides practical helps and guidelines for how counselors can ‘let words work’ when writing to those who are hurting and struggling. Even if you don’t see yourself as a writer, you still offer written words to those you help – even if only in an email – and Hibbs will help you do that in increasingly thoughtful ways.

David Powlison
Revisiting Idols of the Heart and Vanity Fair
David Powlison’s article ‘Idols of the Heart and Vanity Fair’ has had a long shelf-life and has often been cited. Over the years, we have heard of how people understand and apply this article helpfully – and we’ve also encountered ways that people misunderstand and misapply it. Powlison has now written a companion commentary to address these misunderstandings and to offer you a reading strategy. It is included here along with the original article.

Counselor’s Toolbox

Alasdair Groves
When Should Counseling End?
Our Counselor’s Toolbox articles provide practical help that counselors can immediately use in their own counseling. This offering aims to answer the recurring question, when should counseling end? Alasdair Groves lays out a simple framework to help counselors answer this question, and he walks out implications both for vocational counselors and pastors.

Lives in Process

When It’s All Up to You
We continue our Lives in Process series with a story of a woman who suffered from anxiety due to unrealistic expectations for helping others. Recognizing her limits enables her to still care deeply for others, while learning to trust that God truly will take care of the rest.

Lauren Tapscott
Flawless? A Perfectionist Humbled by a Perfect God
This Lives in Process testimony comes from a young woman who, since childhood, was tempted to both devise and pursue her own standards of perfection. Lauren Tapscott offers us a keen look into the dynamics of her struggle with perfectionism. She captures how God is helping her to grow by becoming more concerned with loving him and others than by attempting to be perfect.

Book Reviews

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Centre for Public Christianity (December 2013)

There’s the usual collection of helpful items from the Centre for Public Christianity this month, including a two-part video interview with Sherif Girgis, co-author of What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, on ‘marriage, body-self dualism and contemporary belief in the West’. There’s also a video interview with Michael Goheen on ‘the importance of knowing what stories we are living by and how this is crucial for knowing who we are’, and another video interview with him in which he discusses how ‘the West has been shaped by Christian faith and what interest the Christian story has for the postmodern age’.

Friday 13 December 2013

Murray J. Harris Expanded Paraphrase of Colossians

Thanks to Andy Naselli for the link to an expanded paraphrase of Colossians (linked to here) by Murray J. Harris, from the latter’s Colossians & Philemon, Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2013).

Monday 9 December 2013

Stewards of the Gospel

An edited version of this article first appeared in the November edition of EG, published by LICC. The material had its origins in a series of seminars on stewardship at the Keswick Convention 2013, facilitated in partnership with Stewardship. See their website for further information and helpful resources and ideas on exercising generosity in different areas of life.

Stewardship, like discipleship, embraces the whole of life. More than just what we do with our money or our careful use of natural resources, stewardship encompasses every aspect of our existence, for all that we are and all that we have belong to God. Living generously and giving generously – whether of time, talents, treasure, or truth – is a way of acknowledging and living out God’s own generosity towards us.

Lavish Generosity

Ask a group of Christians for the best-known verse in the Bible about giving, and you’re likely to get several responses. A few might quote Acts 20:35, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’, words attributed to Jesus. Others may think of Jesus’ teaching on giving secretly rather than ostentatiously (Matthew 6:2-4), or the account of the poor widow’s offering (Mark 12:41-44). Still others will recall Paul’s treatment in 2 Corinthians 8-9 of his collection for the poor.

As it happens, the best-known verse in the Bible about giving is the best-known verse in the Bible – John 3:16 – ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son...’ And this is where we begin as stewards – with the God who freely gives us all things, not least his Son for our salvation. God is a giver – the supreme giver – of the supreme gift, which flows out of supreme love. His nature as one-in-three, three-in-one reinforces that, unspoilt love existing and expressed between Father, Son, and Spirit.

So it is that everything belongs to the Father, the creator and redeemer, whose abundant generosity flows out of his love, and who entrusts us to serve him and others with all he gives us as an act of worship and an expression of faith. Generous stewardship thus gets to the heart of our identity as disciples of the Son – seeking to live as those who follow the self-giving pattern of the one who became poor so that we, through his poverty, might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). Then, empowered and enabled by the Spirit, stewardship embraces every dimension of life, as we offer ourselves to God and experience the liberation that comes with keeping in step with the Spirit, bearing his fruit in our everyday lives (Galatians 5:13-26).

Our generosity in how we steward flows from the abounding generosity we have first been shown by God himself. How great the love the Father has lavished on us. How amazing the grace of Christ in becoming flesh and dying and rising again for us. How precious the work of the Spirit in our lives, renewing us in the image of God.

Faithful Stewards

Our identity as stewards is woven through Scripture. It’s there, notably, at the start of the story. Created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-30), men and women are together called to be stewards in God’s house of creation on behalf of God – delegated to govern as God would, who created it to flourish and valued it as good, and placed our first parents in the garden of Eden to till and keep it (Genesis 2:15).

However, the stewards chose to ignore that the house belonged to God, and claimed it for themselves. They continued to work in it, but did so mostly to satisfy their own desires, not as stewards in the service of God. That’s where human beings now find themselves – caught in the tension between being made as stewards but where the exercise of that stewardship is distorted and frustrated through sin. But God wouldn’t leave things like this. Out of the overflow of love, he gave his Son to redeem the world, to reconcile rebellious men and women to himself, to restore relationships between alienated human beings, and ultimately to renew creation itself – and he recommissions his people as redeemed stewards to work in the world in his name.

As such, we are called to be faithful servants. This theme emerges in several of Jesus’ parables, where a master entrusts money to his servants to trade with while he is on a trip (e.g., Matthew 25:14-30), where the issue at stake is the loyalty of his servants while he is away. They are to represent him during his absence in the full confidence that he will return. As in Genesis, the steward is entrusted with resources that belong to another, and faithful stewards invest the resources as he intends them to be used – in his service and for the flourishing of others. ‘Each of you’, writes Peter, ‘should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms’ (1 Peter 4:10).

Graceful Mission

What might this look like in our relationships within the church and in our calling to take part in God’s mission to the world?

We get a flavour in 2 Corinthians 8-9, where the presenting issue is the giving of money to those in need, but where the principles are more widely applicable. Here, the model of generosity is Jesus (8:9) and the motive for generosity is the gospel: ‘Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, people will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else’ (9:13). That provides a means of self-diagnosis. Do we find that generosity makes sense – of who Jesus is, of what the gospel is? Our desire to be generous stewards is one of the ways we know we’ve experienced the grace of God for ourselves.

Generosity with time, for instance, speaks volumes about where our trust lies. It’s also profoundly countercultural in a society pervaded by a sense of time poverty – the feeling of being constantly stressed, rushed, overworked and behind, with no time for oneself let alone others. And yet, we’re all too aware of the significance of investing time into people and relationships in order for them to flourish – helping a child with their homework, preparing healthier meals, visiting someone in need, making that phone call we’ve kept putting off – being generous stewards of time. Power and authority, likewise, are gifts to be stewarded, to nurture the best environment in which others can thrive – in the home or at work. If I steward the authority entrusted to me as a manager or a leader or a parent well, I paint in a positive light God who is the source of all authority.

Crucially, though, stewardship is not just about treasure, time and talents, but about the way we view our life on earth in Christ as his missionary people in this time before the end. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:1, ‘This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.’ For Paul, this is bound up with the revelation of God’s plan of salvation centred on Jesus. We are stewards of that mystery, that story of salvation, and it is our task as his created-and-fallen-but-redeemed stewards to express his redemption in the different areas of our lives, to gesture towards what will one day be the case when we dwell in a new heavens and a new earth. Being stewards locates us in the grand scheme that God is bringing about – not as masters of the universe, but nor as mere puppets either. God has entrusted us with the gospel of the kingdom, and it is through us – as stewards of his grace – that God chooses to continue his act of reconciling the world to himself.

Further Reading

Gerard Berghoef and Lester DeKoster, Faithful in All God’s House: Stewardship and the Christian Life (Grand Rapids: Christian’s Library Press, 2013).

Craig L. Blomberg, Christians in an Age of Wealth: A Biblical Theology of Stewardship (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013).

Kelly M. Kapic with Justin Borger, God So Loved, He Gave: Entering the Movement of Divine Generosity (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010).

NIV Stewardship Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009).

R. Scott Rodin, Stewards in the Kingdom: A Theology of Life in All Its Fullness (Downers Grove: IVP, 2000).

Seasons of Giving (London: Stewardship, 2013), available from Stewardship.

Amy L. Sherman, Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good (Downers Grove: IVP, 2011).

Saturday 7 December 2013

Knowing and Doing (Winter 2013)

The Winter 2013 edition of Knowing & Doing – ‘A Teaching Quarterly for Discipleship of Heart and Mind’ – from the C.S. Lewis Institute is now available online (here as a pdf), and contains the following articles:

Joel S. Woodruff
Celebrating the Fiftieth Anniversary of Clive Staples Lewis’s Entrance into Heaven
The C.S. Lewis Institute believes that Lewis’s greatest work was that of committing his life to serving Jesus Christ in a manner that encouraged others to explore the truth and joy of faith in Christ.

Joel S. Woodruff
C.S. Lewis the Truth-Seeker: How God Formed a Great Christian Apologist
Joel Woodruff’s article describes Lewis’s journey and points to him as a wonderful example of what it means to live as an authentic disciple of Jesus.

Mark Carter
Desert Discipleship
Mark Carter, an Annapolis Fellow alumnus, is leading groups of soldiers stationed at Djibouti through the Heart and Mind Discipleship program, uniting Protestants and Catholics in their pursuit of God.

Thomas A. Tarrants, III
What God Wants from You
Have you ever wondered what God wants from you? Tom Tarrants challenges each of us to seek that answer and then to live our lives based on God’s call to each of us.

Steve and Allison King
From Russia with Blessing
Steve and Allison, DC alumni Fellows, describe their emotional journey as God led them to adopt two young boys from Russia and how, along the way, they were captivated by the boys’ love and learned even deeper lessons about God’s love for each of us.

David B. Calhoun
“Amazing Grace”: John Newton and his Great Hymn
In this profile of John Newton, David Calhoun reminds us how God took a wretched man and transformed him into a vessel that produced perhaps the most beloved hymn ever written.

Thursday 5 December 2013

A Missional Reading of Scripture

Huge thanks to Eddie Arthur for drawing attention to the availability of audio files from the recent ‘A Missional Reading of Scripture’ Conference at Calvin Seminary in the US. I was aware the conference was taking place, but was not aware the fruits would be made more widely available, which is very kind of the conference speakers and sponsors. Audio files (and a video file) along with some handouts are available from Calvin Theological Seminary.

Below is the blurb for the event and a list of the plenary topics and speakers along with the workshops.

‘Over the past century a number of scholars have recognized that mission is not simply a peripheral theme in the biblical story. Rather, it is a central thread in the biblical writings and central to the identity of the church. Thus, a missional hermeneutic is a way of reading Scripture in which mission is a central interpretive key that unlocks the whole narrative of Scripture. It does not simply study the theme of mission but reads the whole of the biblical canon with mission as one of its central themes. This conference will explore what it might mean to read both the Old Testament and the New Testament with a missional hermeneutic, and what that might mean for missional praxis of the church, specifically preaching, theological education, and the life of the local congregation.’

Plenary topics and speakers

Christopher J.H. Wright
A Missional Reading of the Old Testament

Michael W. Goheen 
A Missional Reading of Scripture and Preaching

N.T. Wright 
A Missional Reading of the New Testament

Darrell L. Guder 
A Missional Reading of Scripture and Theological Education


Mark Glanville
Church for the Thriving of the World: Preaching Deuteronomy Missionally

Tyler Johnson and Chris Gonzalez
Pastoring People unto Life: Implications of a Missional Hermeneutic for the Local Congregation

Gayle Doornbos
J.H. Bavinck’s Missional Reading of Scripture

Tim Sheridan
Missional, Christ-Centered, or Gospel-Centered Preaching – What’s the Difference?

Scot Sherman
Missional Liturgy: Remembering and Rehearsing the True Story of the World

George Hunsberger
Fundamental Turns toward a Missional Hermeneutic

Carl Bosma
Reading and Preaching the Psalms Missionally

Chuck DeGroat
Missional Spirituality

John Franke
Missional Plurality: A Hermeneutic of Christian Witness

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Themelios 38, 3 (November 2013)

The latest Themelios is online here (and available here as a single pdf), containing the following articles:

D.A. Carson
The Hole in the Gospel
John complains, “I simply cannot resolve this calculus problem.” Sarah offers a solution: “Let’s read some Shakespearean sonnets.” I’ve got a problem with my car: it won’t start. But no problem: I know what to do. I’ll go and practice my guitar. That will fix it. My cakes always used to fall when I took them out of the oven. But my friend showed me how to fix the problem. He showed me how to adjust the timing on my car engine. Ridiculous, of course...

Off the Record
Michael J. Ovey
Liberty, What Crimes Are Committed in Thy Name?
Does someone have the right to harm their own soul? Or if you don’t much like the talk of ‘soul’, does someone have the right to do themselves moral harm? For many years the assumption in the UK has been that the individual does have the right to do themselves spiritual harm. This came to a very visible head in the controversy in the British Parliament this year about laws permitting same sex marriage, but it had been coming for some time...

Keith Ferdinando
Jesus, the Theological Educator
Jesus was a theological educator. He was, of course, much more than that, but certainly no less. He taught the twelve, and he taught the crowds. The Gospels frequently call him ‘teacher’ or ‘rabbi’, suggestive of the popular reputation he gained for teaching. Indeed, more than once he identified himself as a teacher, confirming the assessment of others: ‘You call me “Teacher” and “Lord”, and rightly so, for that is what I am’ (John 13:13; cf. Matt 23:10; 26:18)...

Gavin Ortlund
“The Voice of His Blood”: Christ’s Intercession in the Thought of Stephen Charnock
The nineteenth-century Scottish Presbyterian theologian William Symington wrote concerning Christ’s intercession, “in a practical and consolatory point of view, its interest is not exceeded even by the Atonement. The two are, however, inseparably connected; although we fear that, in this instance, men have not been sufficiently aware of the evil of putting asunder what God has joined together.” It seems that in much contemporary evangelical thought the doctrine of Christ’s intercession has been underappreciated...

Robert Caldwell
The Ministerial Ideal in the Ordination Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: Four Theological Portraits
As Jonathan Edwards’s reputation for defending moderate New Light revivalism grew in the 1740s, others increasingly sought him to preside over the ordination of ministers in nearby churches. Edwards used these occasions to explore the various dimensions of gospel ministry and the solemn responsibilities that both minister and congregation embrace when joining in an ecclesial union. What Edwards took to be the ministerial ideal shines forth brightly in these sermons...

Melvin Tinker
Secularisation: Myth or Menace? An Assessment of Modern ‘Worldliness’
In 1983 the Christian social critic Os Guinness commented, ‘Christians are always more culturally shortsighted than they realise. They are often unable to tell, for instance, where their Christian principles leave off and their cultural perspectives begin. What many of them fail to ask themselves is, “where are we coming from and what is our own ‘context’?”...

Andrew David Naselli
Pastoral Pensées
12 Reasons You Should Pray Scripture
I don’t want to give the impression that I’m a prayer-expert. I’m not. But that’s one reason I find praying Scripture so helpful (more on that later). My argument is simple: You should pray Scripture. Three qualifications...

Book Reviews

Tyler Wigg-Stevenson on (Not) Saving the World

An edited version of this review appeared in the November edition of EG, published by LICC.

Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, The World is Not Ours to Save: Finding the Freedom to Do Good (Downers Grove: IVP, 2013), 222pp., ISBN 9780830836574.

‘We don’t have to be the hero of the story, just the steward of our calling’, writes Tyler Wigg-Stevenson in this timely call for a ‘calibration check’ on what it means to have ‘a faithful commitment to doing good’. Although he has a certain kind of activism in sight, there is persuasive wisdom here for all who want to live out their faith in everyday life.

What makes the discussion particularly powerful is that Wigg-Stevenson writes not as a bystander on the Jericho Road, but as someone who gets his hands dirty. As founder of the Two Futures Project, a movement of Christians for the abolition of nuclear weapons, he can’t be easily accused of not caring about the world. Still, he has some straight challenges to the mindset that engages complex issues like poverty and ecology as if the world is ours to save.

So, part one of the book diagnoses the limits of the activist sensibility in which we paint ourselves as saviours (and there are some insightful pages here on our tendency to read ourselves into the heroes of biblical stories, where we are David defeating Goliath rather than one of the nameless bystanders). In addition is the danger of misdiagnosing the problem of our world, underestimating the brokenness of sin and overestimating our ability to fix things. Then there is the risk of depicting a God who is domesticated to serve our causes, along with being blinded to our own complicity in the pain of the human condition.

Part two – ‘a deeper calling’ – provides an alternative. Wigg-Stevenson offers a rich extended meditation on Micah 4:1-5 with its vision of peace with God, seen in worship, discipleship and evangelism, peace among the nations, involving justice, industry and nonaggression, and peace in community, marked by dignity, prosperity and security. God’s kingdom is a world order which God will bring about rather than which we will build. And it is precisely here that our confidence lies: since it is God’s to bring about, we needn’t worry that the welfare of history ultimately rests on our shoulders, and we can rejoice in the foretastes of the kingdom we see ahead of time. We live in its light, orientated towards the promised new world, where it is not our task to win the victory but to show through our lives that the victory has been won.

So, this is not an exhortation to passivity, still less a retreat from culture. The book concludes by proposing that a faithful and sustainable activism can be seen through the lens of calling. Wigg-Stevenson, who served as a study assistant to John Stott and to whom he dedicates the book, provides a moving tribute here to the man whose ‘apprehension of Christ’s supremacy and singularity led him to model a comprehensive embrace of vocation’. As such, Christian activism is most faithful when it is channeled through our primary calling to follow Jesus in whatever we do.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

The Bible in Transmission (Winter 2013) on Rediscovering Hope

The latest issue of The Bible in Transmission, from Bible Society, is available online here, offering a collection of articles on ‘Rediscovering Hope’.

Hope, in any philosophically or theologically serious sense, has largely disappeared as a topic of public discourse in Anglo-American societies. More alarmingly, even for the Christian churches the theological virtue of hope is today strikingly absent. Against this background, Markus Bockmuehl asks, what place remains for the message of Christian hope, as taught in Scripture?

Stephen Kuhrt argues that hope is something that should be setting the agenda and direction of the Church. A shift towards a more biblical eschatology will have significant practical implications in terms of the Church’s ministry and mission.

How should we think about hope in the context of the ecological crisis we are facing? Ruth Valerio explains how the biblical promises about the future of this planet can inspire us to live responsibly in the here and now. The Church must take a leading role if we are to live more lightly on this earth

Evangelist Miriam Swaffield explains why she has hope for her contemporaries, the 18–30 year olds of the ‘millennial generation’.

An outline of some of the most important ways in which digital media are handling the way people die and mourn today. Christians need to think seriously about how they can bring their message of hope and love to this emerging network society.

Sunday 1 December 2013

Tom Wright on Creation, Power, and Truth

I was asked to write six brief book notes for the November 2013 edition of EG, published by LICC. I’ve posted them individually here over the last few weeks, and this is the last in the series.

Tom Wright, Creation, Power and Truth: The Gospel in a World of Cultural Confusion (London: SPCK, 2013).

With winsomeness and eloquence, and modelling the best of theological engagement in the process, Wright tackles three prominent cultural drivers – gnosticism, imperialism, and postmodernism. He draws on a trinitarian framework to do so: where the God of creation deals with people in the earthiness of everyday life, and will one day renew the heavens and earth; where Jesus is Lord, whose life and death have redefined power, which frees us to speak truth to power; where the Spirit of truth equips the church not just to enjoy ‘spiritual’ experiences, but to know, speak, and live out the truth.

Thursday 28 November 2013

Tyndale Bulletin 64, 2 (2013)

The latest issue of Tyndale Bulletin has arrived, containing the following collection of articles and dissertation summaries.


Christopher R. Lortie
These Are the Days of the Prophets: A Literary Analysis of Ezra 1–6
This study outlines a plot structure for Ezra 1–6 based upon the (’lh) imperative and (bnh) imperative given in the decree by Cyrus (Ezra 1:2-4) and argues that they provide a clear framework for the narrative. The Judaean people are able to accomplish the (’lh) imperative without conflict, but the (bnh) imperative is not completed as easily. The temple rebuilding project reaches a standstill in Ezra 4:24. At this point the prophets Haggai and Zechariah intervene and become the catalyst for the resolution of the (bnh) imperative and the narrative as a whole (5:1; 6:14). The narrative is structured to demonstrate that YHWH is the one who enables the temple rebuilding project to succeed through the action of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah over against the Persian kings.

William R. Osborne
The Early Messianic ‘Afterlife’ of the Tree Metaphor in Ezekiel 17:22-24
This article discusses the royal associations of tree imagery in the ancient Near East before examining four early messianic interpretations of the tree symbolism in Ezekiel 17:22-24, namely those of 4QEzekiela, the Septuagint, Targum Ezekiel, and The Shepherd of Hermas.

James Robson
Undercurrents in Jonah
On the surface, the book of Jonah is marked by a certain literary simplicity and apparent artlessness. This is evident in at least three ways: its style, with few adjectives, action-oriented narrative, repetition of words and phrases, sound-plays and personifications; its plot, with extreme scenarios and a binary view of the world; its structure, with significant substantial correspondence. Yet it is often in the very places of apparent artlessness that there are hidden depths. A survey of these undercurrents suggests that the book of Jonah is best understood as an engaging exploration of how credal confessions relate to the complexities of lived experience.

Trevor J. Burke
The Parable of the Prodigal Father: An Interpretative Key to the Third Gospel (Luke 15:11-32)
Agreement on a title for the parable in Luke 15:11-32 has proved problematic for interpreters: is this primarily a story about the ‘son’ or ‘sons’ or a ‘family’? While such descriptions are viable, they are insufficient and the view taken in this essay, along with that of an increasing number of scholars – not discounting the role of the two sons – is to approach the story from a paternal perspective. Moreover, this parable is about a ‘prodigal father’ for his extravagant generosity and liberality is highly unusual and unexpected. Such conduct, however, is no less a part of the evangelist’s wider agenda of ‘prodigality’ in the third Gospel, where the same munificence and largesse are characteristics consonant with those who belong in the kingdom of God. It is concluded that if the father is representative of God in his reckless beneficence then another legitimate designation for this narrative should be ‘The Parable of the Prodigal Father’.

Preston T. Massey
Gender Versus Marital Concerns: Does 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 Address the Issues of Male/Female or Husband/Wife?
This study proposes an alternative for interpreting the background to 1 Corinthians 11–14. The investigation will focus on the following three issues: 1) the issue of married women versus any woman; 2) the matter of a married woman’s talking in a public setting; and 3) the nature of the church as the family of God meeting in a house for public worship. The combination of these factors will lead to the conclusion that Paul is addressing marital issues.

Svetlana Khobnya
‘The Root’ in Paul’s Olive Tree Metaphor (Romans 11:16-24)
In Romans 11:16-24 Paul addresses the subject of the Jewish and Gentile inclusion in the people of God using the illustration of the olive tree. How this description fits Paul’s argument in Romans or what precisely Paul communicates by this comparison remains unclear. This essay suggests that Paul’s awareness of living in the time when scripture is being fulfilled in Christ determines how we should read the olive tree metaphor. It proposes that the olive tree and the whole process of its rejuvenation pictures the restoration of Israel and the addition of the Gentiles into God’s people on the basis of the fulfilment of God’s promises in Christ, the very root of the tree. In this light the olive tree metaphor becomes lucid and fits Paul’s overall discussion in Romans.

John VanMaaren
The Adam-Christ Typology in Paul and Its Development in the Early Church Fathers
This article examines the development of the Adam-Christ typology in the early church. It begins by outlining the characteristics of typology and considering Paul’s use of the Adam-Christ typology. It then looks at the Adam-Christ typology in Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Origen, Methodius, Augustine and Cyril of Alexandria. Each of these is compared with Paul. For Paul, it is Christ’s death and resurrection that correspond to Adam’s sin. The church fathers expand Paul’s typology and these expansions eventually come to overshadow the main point of correspondence for Paul, Christ’s death and resurrection.

Boris Paschke
Praying to the Holy Spirit in Early Christianity
This article studies praying to the Holy Spirit in early Christianity of the first three centuries AD. The relevant primary sources are presented and interpreted. While the New Testament remains silent on the topic, some early Christian texts from the Second and Third Centuries AD (i.e. writings of Tertullian and Origen as well as the Acts of John and Acts of Thomas) testify that the idea and practice of addressing the Holy Spirit in prayer (either alone or together with Jesus Christ) existed in early Christianity. However, the paucity of express early Christian quotations of or references to prayers to the Holy Spirit suggests that praying to the Holy Spirit was not widespread but rather remained an exception in early Christianity.

Dissertation Summaries

Joshua Harper
Responding to a Puzzled Scribe: The Barberini Version of Habakkuk 3 Analysed in the Light of the Other Greek Versions
This anonymous version of Habakkuk 3 cannot be identified with any of the other known Greek versions of Habakkuk or the Twelve Prophets. It is only found in six Septuagint manuscripts, and has come to be known as the Barberini version of Habakkuk 3 after one of the best witnesses, which was formerly in the library of the Barberini family in Rome. The goal of my thesis is to describe the Barberini version and the translator responsible for it – to give the who, what, where, when, why, and how of its creation in so far as this can be determined by comparing the Barberini Greek version with the other Greek and Hebrew versions of the chapter.