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Extracurricular Activities–August 3, 2013

Categories Extracurricular Activities

A Usually Happy Fellow Reviews Aslan’s Zealot (Anthony Le Donne)

Reza Aslan’s Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth is an attempt to rehabilitate the *Jesus as a failed military revolutionary* argument that is well-known and well-worn in Jesus studies.  Aslan suggests that Jesus’ regional affiliations (Galilean militants), his enigmatic statement about Roman taxation, attempts to keep his “messianic” aspirations a secret (a retread of Aslan’s undergraduate senior thesis), and a few of Jesus' statements about social discord make him a good fit as a proto-Zealot.  There’s more to his case, but almost every suggestion he makes in support of his thesis is as tenuous as the four mentioned here.

James Dunn on Germans and the NPP (Michael Bird)

In the latest issue of Early Christianity, James Dunn has an article on “A New Perspective on the New Perspective on Paul,” largely interacting with German scholarship as he expounds what the benefits of the NPP have been. A few interesting quotes:

What Would A Biblical Immigration Policy Be? (Jeff Cavanaugh)

The ongoing debate in the U.S. Congress over immigration reform has seen significant activism and commentary from evangelical Christians, indicating that evangelicals, like most Americans, favor broad immigration reform. The U.S. Senate passed an immigration bill at the end of June, and it is currently under consideration by the House of Representatives. The most prominent group of evangelical leaders and organizations to weigh in on immigration policy, the Evangelical Immigration Table, publicly supports S. 744 and has been all but publicly lobbying for its passage in the House, recentlyscheduling a Day of Prayer and Action in support of immigration reform just as the House considers the “Gang of Eight” bill. However, not all evangelicals agree.

A Review of "God Loves Uganda" (John Stackhouse)

Roger Ross Williams, an Academy Award-winning documentary director and producer, is a product of an African-American home heavily populated by pastors. But as a gay man in a conservative situation, he has been estranged from his family and from his tradition. His latest movie, God Loves Uganda, reflects his deep ambivalence, grief, fear, and anger regarding the intertwined matters of faith, sexuality, identity, power, love, and respect.

God Loves Uganda has a distinguished pedigree, from Ford Foundation funding to Sundance mentoring to showings at film festivals, schools, churches, and other venues around the world. Last weekend, Williams and his film came to Vancouver, and I was asked to respond publicly at the showing in dialogue with him. I concluded that there is less here than meets the eye, even as what remains is plenty bad enough.

Gospels as Archway into the Cannon (Jonathan T. Pennington)

There was a time in the not so distant past when many conservative Christians were suspicious of any preacher or professor who emphasized the Gospels too much. On the surface this seems like an odd thing to say and an odd position to take. After all, are not the Gospels Holy Scripture and indeed the place where we see Jesus himself? Could they really be emphasized too much? Nevertheless, there was anecdotal evidence that gave this assumption some grounding... I have been told that a regular litmus test was just this: preachers and professors who emphasized the Gospels generally could be reckoned on the liberal side of the ledger, while those who emphasized Paul and the Epistles on the conservative side. Neither side trusted the other and the intensity of the disagreement tended to increase the divide and entrench both sides in their positions, as such debates always do.


Extra-Curricular Activities is a weekly roundup of stories on biblical interpretation, theology, and issues where faith and culture meet. We found each story interesting, thought-provoking, challenging, or useful in some way – but we don't necessarily agree with or endorse every point in every story. 

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