Jan 24, 2009

Must Reads for a Pauline Scholar

Nijay Gupta has posted the following list of books that he considers essential reading for Pauline research and scholarship.

E. Kasemann, Perspectives on Paul (London: SCM, 1971).

Krister Stendahl, Paul Among Jews and Gentiles (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1974) paperback, $12. This includes his classic essay, “Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West.”

E.P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977) paperback, $30. A landmark study.

Gerd Theissen, The Social Setting of Pauline Christianity: Essays on Corinth, trans. John Schulz (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982).

Wayne Meeks, The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983) paperback, $18. A widely-acclaimed social analysis of the early Christian movement.

J. Christiaan Beker, Paul the Apostle: The Triumph of God in Life and Thought (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984)

Abraham Malherbe, Paul and the Popular Philosophers (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989).

Morna Hooker. From Adam to Christ: Essays on Paul. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Jerome H. Neyrey, Paul, In Other Words: A Cultural Reading of His Letters (Louisville, KY: Westminster / John Knox, 1990) hardcover, $23.

Wright, N. T. The Climax of the Covenant : Christ and the Law in Pauline Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993.

J. Louis Martyn, Theological Issues in the Letters of Paul (Nashville: Abingdon, 1997) hardcover, $40.

J.P. Sampley, ed. Paul in the Greco-Roman World: A Handbook (Continuum 2003).

J.D.G. Dunn, The New Perspective on Paul (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007).

Horsley, Richard A., ed. Paul and Empire: Religion and Power in Roman Imperial Society. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 1997.

My main quibble with this list is that it basically ignores Evangelical contributions to the study of Paul. A more well-rounded list might include such works as:

Gordon D. Fee, Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2007).

Thomas R. Schreiner, Paul, Apostle of God's Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2001).

Ben Witherington III, Paul's Narrative Thought World (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1994).

Modern Marcions in the Pulpit

I was disappointed to
read that surveys have shown that only about 8% of sermons originate from an Old Testament text. How can this be given the fact that the Old Testament makes up approximately two-thirds of our Bibles?

Jan 23, 2009

Latest Issue of Review of Biblical Literature

The latest issue of Review of Biblical Literature is out. Reviews that may be of interest from a Bible Exposition perspective include:

Dwayne H. Adams
The Sinner in Luke
Reviewed by Bruce Chilton
Reviewed by I. Howard Marshall

Barry Bandstra
Genesis 1–11: A Handbook on the Hebrew Text
Reviewed by Paul L. Chen

Diane Banks
Writing the History of Israel
Reviewed by Susanne Scholz

Wesley J. Bergen and Armin Siedlecki, eds.
Voyages in Uncharted Waters: Essays on the Theory and Practice of Biblical Interpretation in Honor of David Jobling
Reviewed by James West

William Sanger Campbell
The "We" Passages in the Acts of the Apostles: The Narrator as Narrative Character
Reviewed by Deborah Prince

Philip R. Davies
The Origins of Biblical Israel
Reviewed by K. L. Noll
Reviewed by Thomas L. Thompson

Wilfried Eckey
Das Lukasevangelium: Unter Berücksichtigung seiner Parallelen. Teilband I: 1,1-10,42; Teilband II: 11,1-24,53
Reviewed by Joel B. Green

Katrin Keita
Gottes Land: Exegetische Studien zur Land-Thematik im Hoseabuch in kanonischer Perspektive
Reviewed by Marvin A. Sweeney

Clemens Leonhard
The Jewish Pesach and the Origins of the Christian Easter: Open Questions in Current Research
Reviewed by Jeffrey L. Morrow

Victor H. Matthews
Studying the Ancient Israelites: A Guide to Sources and Methods
Reviewed by Trent Butler

Madeline Gay McClenney-Sadler
Recovering the Daughter's Nakedness: A Formal Analysis of Israelite Kinship Terminology and the Internal Logic of Leviticus 18
Reviewed by Deborah W. Rooke

Wayne A. Meeks and John T. Fitzgerald, eds.
The Writings of St. Paul: Annotated Texts, Reception and Criticism
Reviewed by V. George Shillington

Hyung Dae Park
Finding Herem? A Study of Luke-Acts in the Light of Herem
Reviewed by Darin H. Land

John Riches
Galatians through the Centuries
Reviewed by John Dunnill
Reviewed by Martin Meiser

Todd D. Still, ed.
Jesus and Paul Reconnected: Fresh Pathways into an Old Debate
Reviewed by Otis Coutsoumpos

Paul Trebilco
The Early Christians in Ephesus from Paul to Ignatius
Reviewed by Markus Oehler

Review of Christopher J. H. Wright's The God I Don't Understand

Wright, Christopher J. H. The God I Don't Understand: Reflections on the Tough Questions of the Faith. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008.

Thanks to Andrew Rogers at Zondervan for the review copy.

I have long appreciated the writing of Christopher J. H. Wright. In particular I have been both enlightened and encouraged with his work in the area of Old Testament ethics and missions. As an author he is easy to read and biblical in his approach.

In the book at hand Wright turns his attention to some common faith-challenging topics: the problem of evil, the divinely-ordained destruction of the Canaanites, the Cross, and the end of the world. I appreciate Wright’s willingness to rush in to places where “angels fear to tread.” His identification of the issues, different views, and potential solutions is clear and thoughtful. I found his treatment of the Canaanite conundrum particularly helpful. I also appreciate the stated goal of the author to help Christians to sustain their faith.

That being said, there are a few areas where I was less enthusiastic about. For example, there were times when I felt that that author was really discussing the people I don’t understand rather than the God I don’t understand. This is not entirely surprising given the nature of this book, but I note it nonetheless. I also felt that Wright’s characterization of positions in the end times section was a bit harsh and unfair, and his argumentation is weak at points. The harshness was evident for example in his title for chapter ninth: “Cranks and Controversies.” To be fair, I may be taking exception to this since he would probably consider me as a pretibulational premillennialist to be a “crank.” But even if I didn’t have my eschatology quite right, I am not sure that calling me a “crank” is helpful in moving the dialogue forward or sustaining me (and others like me) in my faith. I suggest that Wright characterization of pretribulationalism/premillennialism was unfair in that he seemed to straw man a bit, by taking some of the weaker examples of the view and treating them as normative (see pp. 163, 165). Finally, I would suggest that the author might be guilty of the pot calling the kettle black in condemning premillennialists for holding to a literal millennium in Revelation 20 and then proceeding to argue that chapters 21–22 should apparently be taken literally (see. pp. 195–6). What is the hermeneutical basis for making such a move? I would also argue that Wright’s discussion of Matthew 24:40–41 is also wrong in that the position that he condemns is not one held by many pretibulationists.

Reservations aside, I think The God I Don't Understand is worth reading and my appreciation for the work of Christopher Wright as a whole remains undiminished.

Jan 22, 2009

Virtual Tour of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem

The online version of the
Aramco World magazine (Jan/Feb 2009) includes a virtual tour of Al-Haram Al-Sharif (The Temple Mount). You can check it out here.

Jan 21, 2009

The Challenge of Applying the Book of Acts

Peter Mead has a short but helpful post on the problems of applying the Book of Acts. Although, he does not use the same terminology that I would (prescriptive vs. descriptive), he does raise and attempt to answer some important questions. Mead strikes a good balnce when he writes, "Just because some of the events may not occur again, this doesn’t mean that the text is irrelevant (think about the crucifixion of Jesus, for instance). All Scripture is useful, applicable, but the challenge is having the wisdom to discern how to apply it. We need to consider Acts in light of the clear teaching of the epistles, as well as the progress seen within the epistles (consider the different emphasis in 1Corinthians as compared to the later Pastoral Epistles – both concerned with health in the local church, but a different emphasis). Let’s be careful not to automatically use “Acts” labels for contemporary experiences that may or may not be the same thing as what occurred back then."

You can read Mead's entire post here.

Jan 20, 2009

Don't Be a Greek Moron

Bill Mounce has a good post about some of the dangers of trying to apply more Greek than you know. Read about it here.

Advice for Leading Change in the Church

Michael Duduit offers some helpful advice on leading change in the church. His advice is drawn from
Stuart Briscoe's new memoir Flowing Streams.

• Don't be hasty in introducing change.
• Don't knock down a fence until you know why it was put up in the first place.
• Do present solid biblical and commonsense reasons for change.
• Do present change as a proposal, not a fait accompli.
• Do allow time for reaction, and don't fail to listen to objections.
• Do invite suggestions, and don't hesitate to incorporate the best ones.
• Do give people a chance to take ownership of the change.
• Don't be disappointed by naysayers, and don't forget you're still their pastor.

Jan 19, 2009

Magness on Masada

Jodi Magness has a short but interesting post on Masada at the ASOR blog. You can access it

Jan 18, 2009

Free Greek Diagramming Software

Eric Sowell is making a Greek diagramming software called Koineworks that he produced and used to sell available now for free download. You can access the software and its accompanying diagramming guide

Use of the Old Testament in Revelation

Alan Bandy has a helpful post categorizing the various ways that the author of Revelation uses the Old Testament. The categories are particularly helpful given the fact that Revelation makes extensive use of Old Testament illusions. You can read the post

Witherington on New Testament Ethics

Ben Witherington has posted an excerpt from a forthcoming volume, a chapter entitled "A CENSUS OF THE CONSENUS: NT ETHICS—Preliminary Considerations." You can read the post