Dec 12, 2009

The Theology of James

"The theological importance and hermeneutical potential of the letter can best be developed by hearing it and taking it seriously as a message from James, the Lord’s brother, to the people of God living in the Dispersion. This insight is accompanied by the recognition that the theological nature and aim of letter can be derived neither from its relation to Paul and his letters nor from a historical origin hypothetically reconstructed and attributed to any “Christianity of the second of third generation” (which in former times used to be called early Catholicism, horrible dictu). Instead, it should be accepted as a theological position of its own value, derived from the characteristic connection of faith with life. In this context, the letter opening 1:12/13–25, and not the subsection 2:14–26, is of decisive importance. This basic statement of the theology of the letter, seen in connection with the prescript, leaves no doubt that the connection of faith and work to which the author is admonishing his addressees has received its fundamental stimulus from Jesus and is based in the Christ event."

Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr, “James in the Minds of the Recipients: A Letter from Jersusalem,” in The Catholic Epistles and Apostolic Tradition: A New Perspective on James and Jude, ed. Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr and Robert W. Wall (Waco, TX Baylor University Press, 2009), 49.

Dec 11, 2009

The Importance of Reading

Warren Wiersbe notes the following concerning the importance of reading for the servant of God.

"Your heart grows by giving out, but your mind grows by taking in; and both are necessary to a happy and balanced life of service. Christian workers who don't read aren't taking in fuel for the mind and food for the soul, and they end up trying to spin out their ministry like a spider’s web. Bees have a much better approach. They gather pollen from many sources but manufacture their own honey. Most people prefer honey to spider’s webs."

Warren W. Wiersbe, On Being a Servant of God (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993), 86.

Dec 10, 2009

Euphemisms in the Bible

Euphemisms are basically polite ways of saying impolite things. They are generally characterized by verbal ambiguity and are often idiomatic. For example, instead of saying that someone has died, one might say that he/she has “passed away” or he/she has “gone on to be with the Lord.”

In a recent article Freddy Boswell, “Are You Sure You Can Say That?! Fresh Considerations in Translating Euphemisms” Bible Translator 60 (2009):132–9, notes that there are four main categories of euphemisms in the Bible.

(1) Euphemisms related to certain body parts or body functions (e.g., I Sam 24:3; Gen 18:11; Luke 1:59; 8:43).
(2) Euphemisms related to sexual activity (e.g., Gen 4:1).
(3) Euphemisms related to death (e.g., Gen 49:29; Josh 23:14; 1 Thess 4:13).
(4) Euphemisms related to the divine name Yahweh (e.g., Matthew’s preference for Kingdom of Heaven as opposed to Kingdom of God).

Dec 9, 2009

Köstenberger's Best Biblical/Theological Books of 2009

Andreas Köstenberger has posted his choices for the ten best biblical/theological books for 2009. See the list

Paul, His Mission, and Eschatology

David Miller has an interesting post entitled "Paul and the End of the World: Reflections on Romans 15:19."
I am not sure what I think but it is food for thought.

Moore College Website

Moore College has a new
website. In the resources section there are over 1600 messages available for audio download here from the likes of Michael Jensen, Bruce Waltke, Bruce Winter, David Peterson, William Dumbrell, Barry Webb, P. T. O'Brien, Graeme Goldsworthy, N. T. Wright, F. F. Bruce, J. I. Packer, D. A. Carson, and many others.

Michael Jensen

Dec 8, 2009

James, Acts, and Canon

In a recent essay, Robert Wall examines the theology of the Catholic Epistles (James-Jude = CE) from the perpective of Canon. Wall makes a number of interesting points, two of which I find particularly interesting.

(1) Wall argues that James' placement first in the collection provides the basic sequence of themes that provide the "constitutive predicates of a unifying theology of the CE collection" (30).

(2) Wall suggests that, "
During the canonical process, Acts came to supply a narrative introduction for the entire epistolary canon, Pauline and Catholic; in fact, from a canonical perspective, the relationship between Acts and the CE is elevated in importance because they “came into life” together during the canonical process. In any case, the interpreter approaches the New Testament letters with the orienting concerns of Acts in mind and in light of its story, more wakeful when negotiating between the New Testament two different epistolary corpora as theological complements" (23).

Robert W. Wall, "A Unifying Theology of the Catholic Epistles: A Canonical Approach," in The Catholic Epistles and Apostolic Tradition: A New Perspective on James and Jude, ed. Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr and Robert W. Wall (Waco, TX Baylor University Press, 2009), 13-40.

Dec 7, 2009

Witherington on James and the Law

"Based on what we see in Acts and in the Letter of James, we can conclude that James was no hard-line Judaizer either, though probably he believed that all Jewish-Christians should continue to keep the Mosaic covenant, especially in the Jerusalem community. Nevertheless, he says nary a word in his homily about circumcision, Sabbath ob
servance, or food laws. Were these really not the subject of some discussion in Jewish Christian churches in the Diaspora? It is hard to tell, but neither 1 John nor 1 Peter suggests that these subjects were discussed in their communities either and Paul's fulminations in Galatians and elsewhere pertain almost entirely to Gentile Christians and others who are part of his congregations. There is a great deal more that could be said about James, but one more remark must suffice. He is the one person who held together the teachings of Jesus and early Judaism and the Jewish Christian churches with one hand and at the same time extended the other hand in fellowship to Paul and his mission of salvation by faith. For this, he deserves our eternal praise and admiration."

Ben Witherington III, The Indelible Image: The Theological and Ethical Thought World of the New Testament, Volume One: The Individual Witnesses (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2009), 281.

Dec 6, 2009

Market Driven Church

The following comment was made about five years ago, but it still rings true.

"Churches often seem to compete, like malls, for the attention of people. That is probably not their intention, but the circumstances of our society produce that effect. They spend large sums and energy to be able to provide something for every taste, and it is on the level of taste that selections are made for one comfort zone or another. As the mall needs to attract a high turnover of the public to satisfy its stores, so the church presents an attractive facility with convenient parking as well as spiritual performances to increase the numbers, to fulfill its mission to the masses.

"But in the evident parallel it is easily forgotten that church is not a function called to render a service, but a body of believers who primarily serve God and offer what is precious to him. They bring to God their attenttion, worship, joy and burdens, sorrow and grief. They admit that God is right about man, history, and life and death. They serve God and neighbor with what we all need to know and do, which quite often is something other than what we wish to do or would rather not know. People should come to church to learn from the Creator how to live in creation, not to dress their lonely lives with colorful activities or cook up better feelings."

Udo W. Middlemann, The Market Driven Church: The Worldly Influence of Modern Culture on the Church in America (Wheaton: Crossway, 2004), 110.