Extracurricular Activities 1.3.15 — The Law of Moses, Robert Alter, Moses Myth?
A Q&A summary with David Dorsey’s essay, “The Law of Moses and the Christian: A Compromise,” JETS 34 (1991): 321-34:
What was the purpose or design of the law of Moses?
The corpus was designed to regulate the lives of a people living in the distinctive geographical and climatic conditions found in the southern Levant, and many of the regulations are inapplicable, unintelligible, or even nonsensical outside that regime. The corpus was designed by God to regulate the lives of a people whose cultural milieu was that of the ancient Near East. Fred Sanders on ““All the Prophets Proclaimed These Days” of Acts 3
In Acts 3, near the end of his sermon in Solomon’s Portico, Peter says that “all the prophets, as many as have…
Extracurricular Activity 12.27.14 — Mary Mother of Jesus, Celebrity Faith, & Wesley and Pelagius
1. We know more about Mary than we do about almost everyone in the New Testament besides Jesus, Peter, Paul, and John.
2. Many Protestants know far more about what they don’t believe about Mary than what the Bible teaches about her.
9. The Mary moments in the New Testament point to Jesus.
10. Mary belongs to the whole Church.
In March of 1863, 18-year-old Charles Appleton Longfellow walked out of his family’s home on Brattle Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and—unbeknownst to his family—boarded a train bound for Washington, DC., over 400 miles away, in order to join President Lincoln’s Union army to fight in the Civil War.
Charles (b. June 9, 1844) was the oldest…
Extracurricular Activities 12.20.14 — Race, Sexism, and “Exodus”
On December 16, 2014, I was part of a conversation on racial harmony gathered by Bryan Loritts at the former Lorraine Motel, now the National Civil Rights Museum, in Memphis, Tennessee. In preparing for this event, I jotted down notes on an array of related issues. As I looked over these notes on the way home, and reflected on some takeaways from the gathering, it occurred to me that some of them might be useful as talking points for those who are leading discussions or perhaps preaching or teaching on related matters.
So what follows are seed-thoughts that I hope will sprout into fruitful biblical reflection that bears fruit in Christ-exalting obedience.
Michael J. Kruger (former PhD…
Extracurricular Activities 12.13.15—Pauline Studies Shift, Donald Bloesh’s Soteriology, & Sexual Assault
Since 1977 there has been a regular conversation among those who study the New Testament, especially those studying the theology of the apostle Paul. In 1977 E.P. Sanders published his magisterial Paul and Palestinian Judaism and unleashed forces at work (from G.F. Moore to K. Stendahl) to form what my own professor, James D.G. Dunn, called the “new perspective on Paul.”
The debate has been with us for more than two decades, but that conversation is now radically shifting.
The old perspective Paul vs. the new perspective Paul is now over. The new debate will be between the new perspective Paul vs. the apocalyptic Paul.
It’s very hard for inerrantists to change…
Extracurricular Activities 12.6.14 — History & Providence, Early Church Art, and Evangelical Academic Publishing
Scholars have often debated why it is that the church of Constantine’s period looks so very different in various respects from the earliest church. What were the factors which led to the change or transformation of the early Christian movement, so that by the time we get to Constantine and thereafter the roles of men and women in the church have changed, and indeed the church becomes much more like an OT institution than one like what we find in the letters in the NT itself? While it would be possible to mention many factors which led to significant changes in the church, it is possible to isolate five major ones.
Although Christian historians may disagree among…
Extracurricular Activities 11.29.14 — The Divine Persons, Hans Boersma, & Pentecostal Growth
The “personalist” understanding of the Trinity, articulated most influentially in the work of John Zizioulas, has fallen on hard times. Recent scholars have attacked Zizioulas’s idea that Cappadocian Trinitarianism represented an ontological revolution, hammering again and again the distinction between divine and human personhood. Michel Barnes’s conclusion is the most drastic of the lot: “If the word [person] disappeared entirely from English and other modern languages our reading of patristic trinitarian writings would be greatly improved.”
In his contribution to the recently-released collection, The Holy Trinity in the Life of the Church, the book’s editor Khaled Anatolios acknowledges the critics but argues that they have not made the case they have claimed.
Fred Sanders and Matt Jenson had a blast engaging…
Extracurricular Activities 11.22.15 —Evangelistic Paralysis, Young Scholars & the Internet, and Sabbath
The most common mistake I hear when people are talking about kingdom is comparison talk. It goes like this or this or this or this:
“So you think kingdom and church are the same (but not identical), then you need to come to my church because that will show you the difference.” “Kingdom is the ideal, church is the reality.” “Kingdom is justice, but church is injustice.” “The church is but an approximation of the kingdom, a manifestation of the kingdom, but it is not the kingdom because the kingdom will be a utopian, perfect, just, reconciled, loving society.” “The church is now but the kingdom is not yet.”
Each of these fails on a fundamental element of how the NT talks about kingdom.
Extracurricular Activities 11.15.14 — Hebrews vs. Hellenists, Suicide and the Bible, & Sexual Orientation
It is a curiously widespread assumption that there was some major theological divide in the Jerusalem Jesus-movement (church) between the “Hebrews” and the “Hellenists,” but that is also a dubious assumption, as shown some time ago now in an important (but often overlooked) study: Craig C. Hill, Hellenists and Hebrews: Reappraising Division Within the Earliest Church (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992). One reviewer (James W. Thompson) wrote: “The scholarly world will learn from this book that we can no longer speak of the radical division between the Hebrews and the Hellenists.” It would appear, however, that the lesson is still to be disseminated and absorbed.
Who is the most influential American theologian of the 20th Century? In some circles the name Charles Hodge (Princeton) or…
Extracurricular Activities 11.8.15 — The 153 Fish, Strong vs. Weak Christians, & Making Papyrus
In 1962, Arthur W. Wainwright published The Trinity in the New Testament, a helpful one-volume treatment of a vast subject. Wipf & Stock keeps it in print, and no wonder: Wainwright handled the material so well that only a few pages in it seems dated –though it’s more than fifty years old, and there has been much change in some of the sub-fields it reports on. If it doesn’t quite cover everything a reader could hope for, it nevertheless lives up to the promise of its clear title. These 270 pages deliver.
Here are some scattered notes from a reading of the first fourteen pages, where Wainwright sets up his approach. (I hope to post more notes from later sections in subsequent blog posts.)
Extracurricular Activities 11.01.14 — Favorite Heresies, Luther’s 95 Theses, Ross Douthat’s Catholicism
Most American evangelicals hold views condemned as heretical by some of the most important councils of the early church.
A survey released today by LifeWay Research for Ligonier Ministries “reveals a significant level of theological confusion,” said Stephen Nichols, Ligonier’s chief academic officer. Many evangelicals do not have orthodox views about either God or humans, especially on questions of salvation and the Holy Spirit, he said.
On October 31, 1517—a Saturday—a 33-year-old former monk turned theology professor at the University of Wittenberg walked over to the Castle Church in Wittenberg and nailed a paper of 95 theses to the door, hoping to spark an academic discussion, making the first order of business the proposition that all of life…
Extracurricular Activities 10.25.14—J.I. Packer’s Conversion, A Softer Calvinism, & The Parish’s Death
On Sunday, October 22, 1944—seventy years ago today—it is doubtful that anyone noticed a soft-spoken, lanky, and decidedly bookish first-year university student leaving his dormitory room at Corpus Christi College and heading across Oxford for an evening Christian Union service at a local Anglican church.
18-year-old Jim Packer had arrived at Oxford University less than three weeks prior, a single suitcase in hand, traveling east by train from Gloucester using a free ticket available to family members of Great Western Railway employees…
I’ve just finished another semester teaching christology. This is one of my favourite classes. (My other favourite is the Trinity.) Really it’s one of the joys of my life to be able to explore such things…
Extracurricular Activities 10.18.14 — Canonical & Non-Canonical Gospels, Bonhoeffer, A Rule for Reading
A highlight of the British New Testament Conference this year was Dr Simon Gathercole’s scintillating and provocative plenary paper, ‘Jesus, the Apostolic Gospel and the Gospels’…This is a hot question in New Testament Studies at present, for study of the non-canonical Gospels is a growth industry (to which Dr Gathercole himself has contributed mightily with two books on the Gospel of Thomas, here and here). Professor Francis Watson’s important and substantial study Gospel Writing, argues that there is very little distance between the canonical and non-canonical Gospels, and that they should be studied as one group of Gospels. The emphasis in scholarship has moved towards emphasising the diversity in early Christianity and, with Watson, doubts that there…