Friday 29 June 2018

Tyndale Bulletin 69, 1 (May 2018)

The latest issue of Tyndale Bulletin recently arrived, containing the following collection of articles.

Samuel Emadi
Covenant, Typology, and the Story of Joseph
Critical scholars traditionally assert that the Joseph story (Genesis 37–50) does not develop any of the covenantal themes prominent in Genesis 1–36. By considering Joseph's relationship to the kingship, seed, land, and blessing promises of the Abrahamic covenant, this article concludes that the Joseph story provides a significant development of the Abrahamic covenant. Joseph is an anticipatory fulfilment of the covenant and thus provides literary and redemptive-historical resolution to the Genesis narrative. Joseph also points forward to a more complete fulfilment of the patriarchal hopes expressed in the Abrahamic covenant. These observations provide evidence from within Genesis itself that the author intends Joseph to be read typologically, anticipating God's eschatological work through the Messiah.

Robin Routledge
Hosea’s Marriage Reconsidered
Whilst there is general agreement that Hosea 1–3 contains prophetic sign-acts, biographical information is sparse, and some argue that it is unwise to try to reconstruct details of Hosea’s marriage(s). This article argues from the premise that the historical context of sign-acts, insofar as it may be discerned, is significant for interpretation, and seeks to re-examine proposed historical scenarios and present a partial reconstruction. Issues include the interpretation of (‘eshet zenunim), translated ‘wife of whoredom’, in 1:2, and the identity of the unnamed woman in 3:1. The article concludes that 'eshet zenunim is best understood, proleptically, to relate to Gomer’s adultery after her marriage to Hosea, and that 3:1-5 points to the restoration of their earlier relationship. This view best fits the text and the parallel with Israel’s spiritual adultery, forgiveness, and restoration by her divine husband.

Brian Peterson
A Possible Scriptural Precedent for Paul’s Teaching on Divorce (and Remarriage?) in 1 Corinthians 7:10-15
This paper argues that in the same way Jesus’ and the Pharisees’ positions on divorce were rooted in the Torah, so, too, Paul, a man steeped in the Hebrew Scriptures, may have been influenced by the Torah when formulating his own teaching on a believer’s freedom to remarry when abandoned by an unbelieving spouse. Here it is argued that Paul may have drawn upon the marital life of Moses, who appears to have remarried a Cushite woman after being abandoned by his wife Zipporah due to his Abrahamic faith.

Jared M. August
‘He Shall Be Called a Nazarene’: The Non-Citation of Matthew 2:23
Numerous scholars have sought to identify the OT quotation to which Matthew 2:23 alludes. However, when the grammatical details of each of Matthew’s fourteen formula-citations are considered, it is apparent that Matthew did not intend to allude to any specific OT passage in 2:23. On the contrary, Matthew simply sought to develop the general OT expectation that the Messiah would come from humble origins, a reality consistent with Jesus’ upbringing in Nazareth. This thesis is demonstrated through an analysis and comparison of the fourteen formula-citations in Matthew’s Gospel. It is concluded that the formula-citations can be divided into two groups: (1) those which cite an OT passage (1:22; 2:15, 17; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:14, 35; 21:4; 27:9) and (2) those which develop an OT theme or expectation (2:23; 5:17; 26:54, 56).

David J. Armitage
Detaching the Census: An Alternative Reading of Luke 2:1-7
This paper offers an alternative approach to Luke 2:1-7, assuming for argument’s sake that Luke’s presumed chronology agreed with modern reconstructions in placing Quirinius’ census some years after Herod’s death. It is proposed that, on this basis, a coherent reading of the text is feasible in which the reference to Quirinius marks 2:1-5 as a digression, bounded by distinct transition markers, describing events several years after Jesus’ birth. This digression, which claims that Joseph and Mary registered in Bethlehem in AD 6, despite having resided in Nazareth for several years, emphasises the family connection to Bethlehem and therefore to David.

Aaron Michael Jensen
Mê ekloumenoi in Galatians 6:9
The final phrase of Galatians 6:9, mê ekloumenoi, is today almost universally understood as a conditional participle, placing a strong warning on the end of Paul’s encouragement to persist in doing good. This article argues on grammatical, contextual, and historical grounds that the participle would be better understood as having a ‘manner’ shading and as expressing the ceaseless nature of the eschatological harvest as an exhortation to ceaseless service in the present.

Mavis M. Leung
Ethics and Imitatio Christi in 1 John: A Jewish Perspective
This paper focuses on one of the ethical features of 1 John, namely ‘the imitation of Christ’. It argues that this ethical feature is related to the believers’ identity and vocation as the people of God. Just as in the OT Israel is obliged to reflect God’s nature in everyday life, the believers must take on Jesus’ character as their character and follow in his footsteps to surrender one’s own life for the benefits of others. The result of this paper indicates that the weight of the Jewish ethical thoughts in the formation of Johannine ethics is more important than often acknowledged.

Michael Strickland
Construct a Fortress Against the Devil: John Chrysostom’s Plea to Build Churches in the Countryside
Given Chrysostom’s famous concern for the poor, it is perhaps surprising that he made multiple appeals to rich, land-owning Christians to build churches in the countryside. In fact, Chrysostom preferred that the poor be helped by building churches for them rather than giving them gifts directly. However, it is clear that he was less concerned with architecture and aesthetics and more with evangelisation. Chrysostom saw church buildings, with ‘full-time’ ministers, as a way not only to bless the poor of the countryside, but as a means for Christian instruction. Thus, he appealed to rich Christians by challenging them to build more churches. Rather than building baths, or taverns, or hosting markets, why not build churches to establish an eternal legacy, constructing ‘a fortress against the devil, for that is what the church is’?

Dissertation Summaries

Steffen G. Jenkins
Retribution in the Canonical Psalter
Prayers against enemies have caused concern to readers of the Psalms since earliest times. This dissertation approaches such prayers in their context within the Psalter as a book, paying attention to the shape and structure of the whole Psalter, and asks whether such an approach can shed light on a close reading of prayers for retribution.

Jermo van Nes
Pauline Language and the Pastoral Epistles
After a short introduction explaining the highly disputed status of the Pastoral Epistles (PE or Pastorals) in New Testament studies, Part I (‘The Linguistic Problem of the Pastoral Epistles’) serves as a history of research on the so-called linguistic problem of the PE. Tracing its roots, Chapter 1 (‘Origins of the Problem: Founding Figures’) discusses some of the key figures in the emerging debate over the peculiar language of the PE in relation to the question of their authorship.

Stefan Bosman
Paul's Use of Jewish Traditions
Despite the common practice of appealing to Jewish texts to inform a historic reading of passages in the Pauline Hauptbriefe, close in-depth tradition-historical studies have been limited. Furthermore, even among these tradition-historical studies, one finds a great diversity of approaches. Differences of opinion exist in terms of: (1) whether post-Pauline Jewish texts should even be considered as instructive; (2) what constitutes an entity that may be compared, e.g. mere traditions or initially only whole documents; and (3) when one can speak of a tradition having influenced a particular text.

Thursday 28 June 2018

Echoes of Blessing #2: A Secure People

I contributed this week’s ‘Word for the Week’, a weekly email service provided by the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.

Answer me when I call to you,
my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
have mercy on me and hear my prayer...
Let the light of your face shine on us...
In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, LORD,
make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:1, 6, 8

In 1967, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe conducted a study with over 5,000 patients on the connection between significant life events and illness. The resulting chart – known as the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale – which contained 43 causes of stress in 1967, was updated to 55 causes in 2006. It appears we are finding more ways of feeling stressed! Not far from the top of the list are finances, work, family, personal concerns, relationships, and death – issues that many people face, regardless of how secure they may appear.

Stress spans the ages too, as this Psalm makes clear. Although the cause in this case is not immediately apparent, David’s prayer has a very human and contemporary feel to it – ‘Give me relief from my distress’. How recently have you prayed that for yourself?

But note how he addresses God – ‘Righteous God’, or ‘God of my right’. Here, as elsewhere in Scripture, God’s righteousness is bound up with his covenant love and faithfulness to his people. It’s because he is the God who does what is right, who makes things right, that we can pray, ‘Give me relief from my distress’. It’s this God alone who can provide the compassion we seek. We pray on the basis that God is a righteous God, and has mercy on his people. Ultimately, we have no other source of hope, no other means of deliverance.

It’s completely of a piece with God’s covenant faithfulness that towards the end of the Psalm, David can use words from the priestly blessing of Numbers 6, to ask God to shine on the people, and expresses the confidence that he will enjoy peace, shalom, the wellbeing that the priestly blessing goes on to pray for. It’s the Lord alone who does this, he says; only the Lord counts.

And so he lies down to sleep. It’s not apparent that the situation has changed by the end of the Psalm, or that the cause of the stress has been removed. But praying it through has somehow put it in perspective. Prayer to the covenant-keeping God has a way of doing that. The Psalms are unrelenting in pointing us back to the one who stands at the heart of our faith – the one who still promises that his peace, which passes all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Saturday 23 June 2018

Thomas R. Schreiner on Revelation

Today’s ‘Daily Dose of Greek’ links to a generous pdf excerpt from a forthcoming commentary on Revelation by Thomas Schreiner, to be published in volume 12 of the new ESV Expository Commentary. Further information on the volume is available here, and the pdf excerpt is available here.

Friday 22 June 2018

Foundations 74 (Spring 2018)

Issue 74 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:

Martin Salter

Jamie A. Grant
Crisis, Cursing and the Christian: Reading Imprecatory Psalms in the Twenty-First Century
Many Christian readers of the Psalter balk at the psalms that call down curses on particular people in response to wrongs that have been perpetrated by them. We are uncomfortable both with the language and the ethical implications. Effectively, these psalms are omitted from the life and worship of the church. This article argues that this should not be the case. When understood in the light of the constraints of genre and when understood as prayers offered to the Sovereign, these psalms provide us with a spiritual vocabulary which enables us to deal with the horrific injustices of life before the throne of God.

Heather R.F. Harper
The Book of Job as a Theology of Isolation
Suffering is an inescapable part of life. As Christians it is difficult to comprehend that a God who is both omnipotent and benevolent could allow his people to endure such agony. This raises the issue of how Christians should respond to suffering. To answer the question this paper will firstly reflect on the aspects of isolation caused by suffering in the book of Job, paying particular attention to chapters 2, 3, 29, 30 and 31. Secondly, it will consider Job’s response to isolation caused by suffering, with particular attention to his lament and Job 42:7-17, and use this as a paradigm of how Christians should respond to God, our own thoughts and emotions, and others during times of suffering.

Jon Putt
Culture, Class and Ethnicity: A Theological Exploration
Christian discussion of culture, class and ethnicity are as important as they are heated. Often they fail to properly define terms or reflect deeply within theological categories. This paper is a theological exploration of the ways in which the concepts of class, culture and ethnicity are understood in biblical terms and subsequently interrelated. It is part of an attempt to uncover and confront our own cultural blind spots and biases, and in turn value the other more highly than ourselves.

Fiona R. Gibson
Overcoming Listlessness: Learning from Evagrius of Pontus
Early and medieval Christian writers cautioned believers against the Seven Deadly Sins. Even today most Christians could probably name most of them. However, the one that was considered one of the most deadly and complex – acedia – is now virtually unknown and little understood. This paper will briefly examine the nature of acedia by engaging with the writings of Evagrius of Pontus, who was one of the first theologians to deal extensively with what acedia is, and how to overcome it. Some of his remedies may be surprising, and have unexpected contemporary applications.

Daniel Stevens
Review Article: The Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge

Book Reviews

Wednesday 20 June 2018

Asbury Journal 73, 1 (2018)

The latest issue of Asbury Journal, containing the below main articles, mostly drawn from a colloquium on ‘Wesleyan Theology from Biblical and Missiological Perspectives’.

Laurence W. Wood
John Wesley’s Mission of Spreading Scriptural Holiness: A Case Study in World Mission and Evangelism
A manual of discipline, called The Large Minutes, was given to all Methodist preachers when they joined John Wesley’s annual conference, containing this explanation: “God’s design in raising up the people called ‘Methodists’” was “to spread scriptural holiness over the land.” This paper will trace a narrow slice of the larger developing story of how John Wesley arrived at his distinction between justifying faith and full sanctifying grace. It will also serve as a case study to show that the call to justification by faith and a subsequent experience of sanctification by faith became the theme of his evangelistic preaching. This paper will conclude with some observations about the importance of Wesley’s holiness message for the founding of Asbury Theological Seminary and the E. Stanley Jones School of World Mission and Evangelism.

Susangeline Y. Patrick
Seeing Lakota Christian Mission History Through the Eyes of John Wesley’s Image of God
This paper engages John Wesley’s understanding of the Imago Dei (the image of God) and examines the history of Christian mission among the Native American tribes, particularly Lakota on Rosebud Reservation and Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Wesley’s view of the image of God in creation, partial loss of the image of God, and restoration of the image of God in Jesus Christ provides a framework to describe both the successes and failures in Lakota mission history. Wesley’s understanding of the Imago Dei challenges current mission theology and praxis to see God’s creation and peoples as worthy of honor and love, redeemable and restorable in the new creation.

Timothy J. Christian
The Problem with Wesley’s Postmillennialism: An Exegetical Case for Historic Premillennialism in 21st Century Wesleyan Theology and Missions
This article presents an exegesis of Revelation 20:1-10 followed by a critical assessment of Wesley’s interpretation of Revelation 20:1-10. Overall, Wesley’s postmillennial interpretation of Revelation 20:1-10 is not supported by an exegetical reading of Revelation 20:1-10 (Scripture); it is not rooted in the early church (tradition); and it is based largely upon the optimism of the 18th century which was shattered by the 20th century (experience). Historic premillennialism, however, does exegetical justice to Revelation 20:1-10 (Scripture), takes seriously the early church’s view (tradition), and accords with our reason and experience in the 21st century (reason and experience). As such, Wesleyans should abandon postmillennialism and instead embrace historic premillennialism for the sake of having a biblically based theology and approach to missions and evangelism in the 21st century.

Wilmer Estrada-Carrasquillo
The Relational Character of Wesley’s Theology and its Implications for an Ecclesiology for the Other: A Latino Pentecostal Testimony
This article assesses the impact of John Welsey’s theology on relationship, both between human beings and God and between human beings within community. This theology of relationality is then used as a framework for reading the Christological hymn in Philippians. Finally the implications of our understanding of a theology of relationality are explored in the light of missiological and ecclesiological lenses. All of this is done through the added lens of the author’s experience as a Latino Pentecostal.

Ryan Kristopher Giffin
The Good Work of Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification: John Wesley’s Soteriological Explanation of Philippians 1:6
Numerous scholars have described John Wesley’s use of scripture as soteriological in orientation. This article discusses how this soteriological hermeneutic is present in Wesley’s explanatory note on Phil 1:6, a well-known Pauline text. The article highlights how Wesley’s brief note on this beloved text can provide readers with an entry point into a discussion of three theological themes Wesley held dear, the themes of justification, sanctification, and glorification. In this way, Wesley’s explanation of Phil 1:6 presents Wesleyans with a convenient way of reflecting on both Wesleyan hermeneutics and Wesleyan theology.

Howard A. Snyder
John Wesley, Irenaeus, and Christian Mission: Rethinking Western Christian Theology
John Wesley (1703-1791) was a theologian and practitioner of mission. The theological sophistication of his missiology has never been fully appreciated for three reasons: 1) Wesley seldom used the language of “mission,” 2) he intentionally masked the depth of his learning in the interest of “plain, sound English,” and 3) interpreters assumed that as an evangelist, Wesley could not be taken seriously as theologian. Quite to the contrary, this article shows the depth and sophistication of Wesley’s doctrinal and missiological thinking. Reviewing Western Christian theology from the first century to our day, this article examines the close use of Irenaeus by Wesley, which carries high potency for Christian fidelity, discipleship, theological integrity, authentic mission, and Spirit-powered transformation in persons and culture.

Marcus W. Dean
A Wesleyan Missiological Perspective On Holiness Across Cultures
Missiology has focused on various aspects of contextualization and the importance of salvation, but has not dealt extensively with the biblical concept of holiness. From a Wesleyan perspective this paper looks at holiness from the lens of contextualization. A biblical support of contextualization is presented. Then the cultural factors of values – the dynamics of shame, guilt, and fear are explored – and purity are examined as starting points to contextualize the holiness message. While holiness is ultimately about ethical life and relationships, the message must be built upon culturally understandable concepts.

Mark R. Elliott
Methodism in an Orthodox Context: History, Theology, and (Sadly) Politics
The history of Methodism and Eastern Orthodoxy goes back to the early days of Wesley and his interest in the teachings of the Greek Church Fathers. The relationship between Methodists and the Orthodox Church has gone through positive and negative periods, but the growth of the Soviet Union and the challenge of Communism placed new challenges on both groups. The emergence of the Russian Orthodox Church and its reaction to growing Protestant missions has led to new problems, although the ongoing hope is that commonalities in our theology will overcome some of the challenges of current political realities. This paper was originally presented at the United Methodist Church Eurasia-Central Asia “In Mission Together” Consultation, held in Fulton, Maryland on May 6, 2017.


From the Archives: Frances Havergal’s Letter to Hannah Whitall Smith about her Sanctification Experience

Book Reviews

The entire issue is available as a pdf here.

Monday 18 June 2018

Echoes of Blessing #1: A Favoured People

I contributed this week’s ‘Word for the Week’, a weekly email service provided by the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.

The LORD said to Moses, ‘Tell Aaron and his sons, “This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
‘“‘The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face towards you
and give you peace.’”
‘So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.’
Numbers 6:22-27

How would it feel to go into the rest of this week joyfully confident of God’s favour resting on you? What difference might it make to how you’d approach the things you’ll do, the conversations you’ll have, the decisions you’ll make?

Confidence comes in knowing that God is the source of every blessing.

We see something of his intent on the first page of the Bible when God blesses the creatures he has made – to be fruitful, to multiply, and flourish. And he blesses human beings too – as made in his image and called to steward the earth, to exercise loving rule over other creatures. God’s plan to bless creation is reinforced with the call of Abraham in Genesis 12 when God promises to form a people through whom he will extend blessing to all nations.

The Lord reinforces his larger purpose in the ongoing blessing of the Israelites mediated through the priests. Somehow he knew they’d need a regular reminder.

For them as for us comes the reassurance that the Lord and the Lord alone is the one who blesses his people. For them as for us the blessing declares that God cares for us and keeps us, delights in us and forgives us, watches us and restores us. That’s how God marks out those who belong to him. No wonder that these words of blessing shaped the worship of Israel through the centuries as, in different contexts, the people of God echoed the promises made and occasionally glimpsed how it would spill over to others.

And the words speak to us and shape us in the process of doing so. It’s somehow too easy to look for blessing in all the wrong places, to be uncertain of the father’s love for us, unaware of his enfolding grace, unsure of his gift of peace. It’s too easy to forget that every day his face lights up as he sees us, because his favour rests on us.

Because of the God he is, we’re not only encouraged to live under the reality of being treasured by him, but emboldened by the conviction that there is nothing worth having that he withholds from us. This God who, as Paul says in Ephesians 1:3, has ‘blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ’, is the same God today.

Wednesday 13 June 2018

Anvil 34, 1 (2018) on Mission

The Journal Anvil is hosted online by Church Mission Society. The latest issue contains the below articles, along with a good number of book reviews, and is available as a pdf here.

Mike Pears
Mission and Place: From Eden to Caesarea
Mike Pears examines the significance of place and geography in relation to mission in a world where many feel displaced, dislocated and precarious.

Kyama Mugambi
Mission is Not Western: Kenyan Perspectives on Identity, Church Planting, Social Transformation, and Bold Mission Initiatives
Kyama Mugambi shows how mission is operating in a new paradigm that involves an explosion of church planting, social transformation and global gift exchange.

Cathy Ross
Lament and Hope
Cathy Ross draws on African theology to explore how lament can address injustice and offer new hope.

Debbie James and Thomas Fowler
Mission Is... Good Question: Reflecting Upon the Pioneering Call to Join in with the Mission of God
Debbie James and Thomas Fowler discuss some of the findings of CMS’s 2017 Mission Is survey and some myths that may need busting.

Paul Bradbury and Tina Hodgett
Pioneering Mission Is... A Spectrum
Paul Bradbury and Tina Hodgett have designed an incredibly helpful map that offers insight into the spectrum of pioneer ministry.

Paul Ede
Our Hammyhill: What Creative Ways Can a Church Express Its Mission at the Heart of the Community, for the Benefit of the Community?
Paul Ede shows how a local community have been participating in transformation with God

Book Reviews

Thursday 7 June 2018

Theos Report on the Response of Faith Groups to Grenfell

The latest report from Theos has recently been published:

Amy Plender, After Grenfell: the Faith Groups’ Response (London: Theos, 2018).

Here are some paragraphs from the Theos website:

‘The fire at Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017 shocked and horrified the country, the agony and trauma of its victims compounded by the apparent indifference and disorganization that ensued.

‘In the chaos, the role of the diverse faith groups in the community stood out. Churches, mosques, synagogues, and gurdwaras all stepped up to the plate, responding practically, emotionally and spiritually to a moment of pain and confusion...

‘This report explores what the faith communities did, how they managed to do it, and what can be learned from the experience. Based on interviews with representatives of faith communities in the vicinity, as well as representatives of statutory bodies and emergency services, the report charts the faith groups’ response in the immediate hours, days and weeks after the tragedy.’

A pdf of the full report is available here.