Nov 14, 2009

An Overview of Supersessionism

I had two discussions recently that involved the past, present, and future relationship of Israel and the Church. While the following is not exhaustive some might find the following summary of a recent article helpful.

Michael Vlach's recent article entitled “Various Forms of Replacement Theology,” The Master’s Seminary Journal 20 (2009): 57–69, defines and delineates various forms of suppersessionism (“fulfillment theology” and “replacement theology”). “Supersessionism . . . in the context of Israel and the church, is the view that the New Testament church is the new and/or true Israel that has forever superseded the nation Israel as the people of God. The result is that the church has become the sole inheritor of God's covenant blessings originally promised to national Israel in the OT. This rules out a future restoration of the nation Israel with a unique identity, role, and purpose that is distinct in any way from the Christian church” (p. 60). Vlach (following R. K. Soulen and others) goes on to identify three variant forms of supersessionism.

1. “Punitive/Retributive Supersessionism” (pp. 60–1) = A doctrinal/theological that holds that God is punishing Israel by displacing her as the people of God for her rejection of Christ. Adherents include Origen and Luther.

2. “Economic Supersessionism” (pp. 61–3) = A doctrinal/theological approach that holds that God’s plan for Israel’s role as the people of God expired with the coming of Christ when Israel was replaced by the church. Adherents include Barth, N. T. Wright.

3. “Structural Supersessionism” (pp. 63–5) = A hermeneutical approach which holds that much of the Old Testament is largely irrelevant in the formulation of Christian conviction about God’s work as consummator and redeemer. No Adherents are identified clearly in the article.

Vlach further suggests that, “Two terms are important for understanding what some supersessionists believe about Israel. These terms are salvation and restoration. In short, some supersessionists believe there will be a future salvation of Israel, but this salvation does not mean a restoration of Israel” (p. 65). Furthermore, “there are two major variations on the future of Israel among supersessionism. ‘Strong’ supersessionism asserts that Israel will not experience salvation as a nation. Moderate supersessionism, though, holds that the nation Israel will experience a salvation. Thus, the major distinguishing factor among supersessionists is whether they believe in a future salvation of Israel or not. ‘Strong’ supersessionists say ‘No’ to a future salvation of Israel. Moderate supersessionists say "Yes" to a future salvation of Israel” (pp. 65–6).

Nov 13, 2009

Joslin on Translating Hebrews 2:5-9

See Barry Joslin's
article "'Son of Man' or 'Human Beings'? Hebrews 2:5-9 and response to Craig Blomberg."

HT: Denny Burk

A Structural Diagram of 1 Corinthians

Dave Miers has posted a structural diagram of 1 Corinthians in the shape of the Cross. Check it out

Four Types of Theologians

Michael Patton has an interesting post in which he identifies and delineates four types of theologians. They are:

1. Theological Maximalist – Most every doctrine is essential.
2. Theological Minimalist – Most every doctrine is non-essential.
3. Theological Centrist – Let’s meet in the middle.
4. Theological Centralist – Let’s unite around the central issues of the faith and give liberty in other areas.

Be sure to read the entire post here.

Dale Ralph Davis on Old Testament Narratives

See this post by Colin Adams on Dale Ralph Davis concerning elen things to look for in reading and applying Old Testament narratives.

Nov 12, 2009

SBL Papers

Michael Halcomb has posted a zip file containing many of the SBL papers that are available for this years national meeting. Check it out

Witherington on Social Identity and Diversity in Acts

Ben Witherington III has posted a paper he delivered on November 4, 2009 at Huntington University entitled "E Pluribus Unum: The One and theMany in Luke-Acts" on his blog

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:

Jim W. Adams
The Performative Nature and Function of Isaiah 40-55
Reviewed by Ulrich Berges

Joseph Azize and Noel Weeks, eds.
Gilgamesh and the World of Assyria: Proceedings of the Conference Held at the Mandelbaum House, The University of Sydney, 21-23 July 2004
Reviewed by Michael Moore

John M. G. Barclay and Simon Gathercole, eds.
Divine and Human Agency in Paul and His Cultural Environment
Reviewed by Thomas R. Blanton IV

Nina Burleigh
Unholy Business: A True Tale of Faith, Greed and Forgery in the Holy Land
Reviewed by Aren Maeir

Philip Cary
Reviewed by Jacek Stefanski

Deborah L. Ellens
Women in the Sex Texts of Leviticus and Deuteronomy: A Comparative Conceptual Analysis
Reviewed by Carolyn Pressler

J. Harold Ellens and Wayne G. Rollins, eds.
Psychology and the Bible: A New Way to Read the Scriptures (4 vols.)
Reviewed by Ron Clark

Douglas Estes
The Temporal Mechanics of the Fourth Gospel: A Theory of Hermeneutical Relativity in the Gospel of John
Reviewed by John C. Poirier

Eric Eve
The Healer from Nazareth: Jesus' Miracles in Historical Context
Reviewed by Tobias Hagerland

K. C. Hanson and Douglas E. Oakman
Palestine in the Time of Jesus: Social Structures and Social Conflicts
Reviewed by Panayotis Coutsoumpos

Xavier Levieils
Contra Christianos: La critique sociale et religieuse du christianisme des origines au concile de Nicée (45-325)
Reviewed by Stephan Witetschek

Tremper Longman III
Jeremiah, Lamentations
Reviewed by Francis Dalrymple-Hamilton

James L. Resseguie
The Revelation of John: A Narrative Commentary
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

Roman Vielhauer
Das Werden des Buches Hosea: Eine redaktionsgeschichtliche Untersuchung
Reviewed by James Nogalski

Paul Wilkinson
Archaeology: What It Is, Where It Is, and How to Do It
Reviewed by Aren Maeir

Nov 11, 2009

Review of Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary , Volume 5

Thanks to Jesse Hillman at Zondervan for the free review copy.

The following review relates specifically to volume five, but I trust that the comments will have general relevance to all the volumes. Volume five covers the Minor Prophets, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. I won’t list all the authors here, but a
complete list of contributors can be seen here.

In general, I can happily add my hearty affirmation to the growing and glowing recommendations of the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary (ZIBBCOT). The book is well-designed and attractively pr
oduced. The quality and quantity of content of individual chapters vary somewhat as one might expect from the utilization of different authors. But having said that, every chapter in the volume that I reviewed proved to be both insightful and helpful. The boxed topical discussions such as Sovereign Lord” on page 67 generally provide solid discussions of the main issues at hand. Furthermore, the selection and quality of the pictures were as a whole outstanding. There is a nice margin provided on the open side of the page for readers who like to make notations in their books.

That Zondervan has provided a nice resource for biblical studies seems obvious. The question remains though, what is the best way to use this resource? My answer is that would best serve as an intermediate introduction to background issues related to the books of the Old Testament. Four observations can be made on this point. First, I would suggest that it is intermediate in the sense that beginning readers might be a bit overwhelmed by the sheer volume of material. Also some of the commentary is probably a bit beyond the neophyte student. Second, this volume raises the whole issue of how background material ought to be utilized (note: this is a question of how rather than if). For example, how does one avoid the problem of parallelomania associated with written texts noted nearly fifty years ago by Sandmel. This issue is covered to some degree in Walton’s introductory essay. But some users of ZIBBCOT will either not read the introductory essay or forget/ignore the ten “principles” on p. xii. Third, it is important to remember that ZIBBCOT is introductory in the sense that the texts and artifacts in the book are often and necessarily presented without the larger context. This means that responsible students will need to refer to more comprehensive resources to look at these texts/artifacts in context before drawing too many conclusions. Texts for example will need to be read in their larger contexts in volumes such as Hallo and Younger’s The Context of Scripture. Fourth, ZIBBCOT is introductory in the sense that while it presents commentary on the biblical text, the commentary is selective, and in this sense, inadequate. One will either need to turn to ZIBBCOT after doing the exegetical work and interacting with exegetical commentaries or begin with ZIBBCOT and then do one’s exegesis and interaction with more detailed exegetical commentaries.

Although my view of this work is overwhelmingly positive there are a few minor criticisms. First, I wonder about the propriety of some of the images. For example, in the chapter on Habakkuk, the first image is from an Assyrian relief. This could be potentially confusing since the foreign threat in Habakkuk is Babylonian rather than Assyrian. It is possible that the image was chosen because it pictures ramparts and ramparts are mentioned in Habakkuk 2:1. But even if this is the reason for the inclusion, no link is made in the description itself. This problem could be easily alleviated by the inclusion of a simple text reference such as (see Hab 2:1). Second, there are times when it seems that appropriate images are left out. For example, it seems strange that an image of the Cyrus Cylinder is not utilized once in the chapters devoted to the Post-Exilic Prophets. Third, some interpreters will be troubled by certain assumptions that are made without qualification and presentation of other views. For example, the assumed identification of Daniel/Dane’l in Ezekiel 14:14, 20 as a mythical Ugaritic character rather than the prophet Daniel in the Book of Daniel seems to merit at least some qualification. While this Ugaritic identification is not uncommon, it is not a settled matter either, especially among some Evangelical interpreters (see for example Daniel Block’s discussion in his Ezekiel commentary (NICOT). Wouldn’t at least a footnote be merited in cases like this? Fourth, while I appreciate the picture index, its utilization of categories (e.g., “amulets”) might be helpful in some ways, but unhelpful in others since the reader will need to know what category that the image that they are looking for falls under. Perhaps a supplementary general alphabetical index would help to make the volume more user-friendly. A Scripture index would also be helpful and should be considered mandatory for modern reference works such as this one. Finally, and this is a matter of personal preference, I would have preferred footnotes rather than endnotes. But these criticisms are minor and should not detract significantly from the overall value of the work as a whole.

Statement of Teaching Philosophy

Michael Halcomb has done it again! He has now created and made available a document on how to create a statement of teaching philosophy. Check it out
here. While there, check out Michael's other helpful resources.

Theology of the Catholic (or General) Epistles

Michael Bird highlights the following three recent treatments related to the theology of the Catholic (or General) Epistles (James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude).

Peter H. Davids, “The Catholic Epistles as Canonical Janus: A New Testament glimpse into Old and New Testament Canon Formation,” Bulletin of Biblical Research 19 (2009): 403-16.

David R. Nienhuis, Not by Paul Alone: The Formation of the Catholic Epistles and the Christian Canon (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2007).

Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr and Robert W. Wall, eds., Catholic Epistles and Apostolic Tradition (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2009).

Nov 10, 2009

Campbell on Galatians 1:15-16

here for Constantine Campbell's exegesis of Galatians 1:15-16.

Eight Common Errors in Theological Argumentation

C. Michael Patton has a good list of "Eight Ways to Lose Your Influence in Theology." The The eight points are worth making, list but I would add two observations. First, these eight "ways" relate to argumentation in general, and not just theological argumentation in particular. Second, I am not sure that committing these errors leads to a loss of theological influence. sadly, it seems that many of the better known voices in biblical/theological studies do these types of things rather frequently. In any case, Michael's eight "ways" are as follows.

1. Be Imbalanced
2. Overstate your case
3. Misrepresent your opponents
4. Obscure the options
5. Get defensive
6. Lack of grace
7. Be perpetually non-committal
8. Define yourself by what you are against

To read the entire explanation go here.

Gaffin on Christ in the Old Testament

Richard Gaffin discusses the hermeneutics of Christ in the Old Testament

For All Presenters at ETS/SBL

Nijay Gupta has some sage advice for presenters at professional conferences such as the Evangelical Theological Society and Society of Biblical Literature. You can read it

Nov 9, 2009

Visual Tools for Learning Hebrew

Karyn Traphagen has a nice post of different visual tools for learning Hebrew here.

The Perspicuity of Scripture

See this
article by Michael Jenson on the perspicuity of Scripture.

The Superscriptions to the Psalms

See Shane Lems discussion of the superscriptions to the Psalms

Jesus in Josephus

See this discussion with Chris Forbes on the Jesus passages in Josephus, including the Testimonium Flavianum.

Josephus and Jesus: a Christian forgery? from CPX on Vimeo.

HT: Michael Halcomb

100+ ways to use social media for learning

See this post for
100+ ways to use social media for learning.

Psalm 1

John Hobbins has posted a detailed study of Psalm 1 as a pdf. Check it out here.

Nov 8, 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:

Jason S. DeRouchie
A Call to Covenant Love: Text Grammar and Literary Structure in Deuteronomy 5-11 Author(s
Reviewed by Max Rogland

Geert Hallbäck and Annika Hvithamar, eds.
Recent Releases: The Bible in Contemporary Cinema
Reviewed by Diane Apostolos-Cappadona

Larry R. Helyer
The Witness of Jesus, Paul and John: An Exploration in Biblical Theology
Reviewed by William Wilson

Richard S. Hess, Gerald A. Klingbeil, and Paul J. Ray Jr., eds.
Critical Issues in Early Israelite History
Reviewed by Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer

Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton
A Survey of the Old Testament
Reviewed by William Barrick

Øystein Lund
Way Metaphors and Way Topics in Isaiah 40-55
Reviewed by James M. Kennedy

Jacob Neusner, Bruce D. Chilton, and Baruch A. Levine
Torah Revealed, Torah Fulfilled: Scriptural Laws in Formative Judaism and Earliest Christianity
Reviewed by James D. G. Dunn

Neil R. Parker
The Marcan Portrayal of the "Jewish" Unbeliever: A Function of the Marcan References to Jewish Scripture: The Theological Basis of a Literary Construct
Reviewed by Adam Winn

Daniel Patte, ed.
Global Bible Commentary
Reviewed by Gerrie Snyman

Robert M. Price
Jesus Is Dead
Reviewed by Tony Costa

Émile Puech, ed.
Qumran Grotte 4.XXVII: Textes Araméens, deuxième partie
Reviewed by Aaron Rubin

Paul A. Rainbow
The Pith of the Apocalypse: Essential Message and Principles for Interpretation
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

Jacqueline C. R. de Roo
Works of the Law at Qumran and in Paul
Reviewed by Jörg Frey

Lothar Ruppert
Genesis: Ein kritischer und theologischer Kommentar 4. Teilband: Gen 37,1-50,26
Reviewed by Mark Elliott

Susannah Ticciati
Job and the Disruption of Identity: Reading Beyond Barth
Reviewed by Francis Dalrymple-Hamilton

Song of Solomon

Nancy L. deClaissé-Walford, “An Introduction to the Song of Songs,”
Review and Expositor 105 (2008): 392

"This greatest of songs has long puzzled both Jewish and Christian interpreters. Until modem times both communities of interpreters understood the Song as a symbolic account of God’s love of Israel or for the Church. However, modern scholarship has made clear that the Song is love poetry pure and simple. As such the poems promote an understanding of sexual love as blessed, holy, a place of divine presence. They provide a basis for a theology in which sexual relationship is whole and redeemed."