Mar 17, 2012

Prayer and James 5:14–16

I enjoyed this comment from William Brosend concerning James 5:14–16,

"Are you sick? Call for the church leaders. They will pray and anoint you with oil. You will be saved, raised, and forgiven. So confess your sins and pray, and you will be healed.

"That makes absolutely no sense to us. If we are sick we go to the doctor (we can 'summon' all we want, it won't help). If we have sinned, we confess our sins and are forgiven. The physical and the spiritual are two entirely different things, and we intend to keep them that way – unless, of course, the medicine is not working, or the diagnosis is dire. Then the spiritual, driven by a confrontation with our own mortality, is suddenly welcome, and we pray like crazy. So who is crazy, we who wait until the doctor says, 'There is nothing more we can do. All we can do is pray' before attempting to deal with our own mortality, or James, who recognizes it in 1:10–11 and begins to pray at the first sign of illness."

William F. Brosend II, James and Jude, New Cambridge Bible Commentary (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 160.

Mar 16, 2012

Latest Issue of Review of Biblical Literature

The latest issue of Review of Biblical Literature is out. Reviews can be accessed by clicking the links below.

Peter Altmann
Festive Meals in Ancient Israel: Deuteronomy's Identity Politics in Their Ancient Near Eastern Context
Reviewed by Stephen A. Reed
Wes Howard-Brook
"Come Out My People!": God's Call Out of Empire in the Bible and Beyond
Reviewed by Matthew Forrest Lowe
Mary L. Coloe and Tom Thatcher, eds.
John, Qumran, and the Dead Sea Scrolls: Sixty Years of Discovery and Debate
Reviewed by John Painter
Catherine Gunsalus González
1 and 2 Peter and Jude
Reviewed by Peter H. Davids
Martin Hallaschka
Haggai und Sacharja 1-8: Eine redaktionsgeschichtliche Untersuchung
Reviewed by Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer
Murray J. Harris
Colossians and Philemon
Reviewed by Michael F. Bird
Thomas Kazen
Jesus and Purity Halakhah: Was Jesus Indifferent to Impurity?
Reviewed by Kevin McCruden
Tod Linafelt, Claudia V. Camp, and Timothy Beal, eds.
The Fate of King David: The Past and Present of a Biblical Icon
Reviewed by Dr. Ilse Muellner
E. A. Myers
The Ituraeans and the Roman Near East: Reassessing the Sources
Reviewed by Mark A. Chancey
Adam Winn
Mark and the Elijah-Elisha Narrative: Considering the Practice of Greco-Roman Imitation in the Search for Markan Source Material
Reviewed by Dean Deppe

Mar 15, 2012

The Road not Taken in James

A number of recent interpreters of James have attempted to find in James' wisdom theology an implicit Christology. While this would certainly help to raise the Christological profile of the book, J. Ramsey Michaels has provided a good word of caution concerning this exercise. Michaels notes that,

“A word first needs to be said, however, about ‘the road not taken’ For it is tempting to capitalize on the recent popularity of ‘Wisdom christology’ in, say, the Gospel of John and then look for Wisdom christology also in James. Indeed, this short letter accents divine wisdom — even more than John’s Gospel does. God’s wisdom in contrast to ‘earthly,’ ‘natural,’ or ‘demonic’ wisdom (3:15), comes ‘from above’ (3:15, 17), like every other ‘good and perfect gift’ (1:17). God gives wisdom generously to everyone who asks (1:5). Wisdom is an attribute of God and is God’s gift — it is, if you like, ‘the Lord’s gift (1:7).

“But wisdom is not ‘the Lord.’ Wisdom is traditionally feminine, whereas ‘the Lord’ is resolutely masculine. James has a wisdom theology but not a wisdom christology. If we find christology, we must look for ‘the Lord.’ And ‘the Lord’ in the letter of James is Jesus.”

J. Ramsay Michaels, “Catholic Christologies in the Catholic Epistles,” in Contours of Christology in the New Testament, ed. Richard N. Longenecker (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 270.

Mar 14, 2012

The Lukan "Must"

Yesterday, I listed twenty themes from John Navone's book, Themes of St. Luke.  Today, I give you the opening paragraph from the discussion on the Lukan "must."

"'Must' (dei) occurs 44 times in Lucan writings out of the 102 times it is found in the New Testament. The Lucan 'must' expresses God's governing providence in the life of Jesus, as well as the necessity of accomplishing his Father's salvific will. It is particularly linked with the Passion which Jesus must undergo. The first text in which it is found in all the Synoptics alludes to the prophecies of Isa 53; Ps 118; Hos 6.2: 'The Son of Man must suffer much' (9:22 = Matt 16.21; Mk 8:31)."
John Navone, Themes of St. Luke (Rome: Gregorian University Press, 1970), 100.

Mar 13, 2012

Themes in the Gospel of Luke

I have been browsing through John Navone's Themes of St. Luke. This is an interesting work in that some of themes that he identifies are themes that I would not have thought to list. In fact Navone lists twenty themes (apparently in alphabetic order)! Here is his list.

1. Banquet
2. Conversion
3. Faith
4. Fatherhood
6. Jerusalem
7. Joy
8. Kingship
9. Mercy
10. Must
11. Poverty
12. Prayer
13. Prophet
14. Salvation,
15. Spirit
16. Temptation
17. Today
18. Universalism
19. Way
20. Witness

John Navone, Themes of St. Luke (Rome: Gregorian University Press, 1970), 7.

Mar 12, 2012

Acts and the Spread of the Gospel

"The Acts of the Apostles does not end haphazardly; Luke has achieved his purpose when he brings Paul to Rome and leaves him preaching the gospel there. Yet there is a sense in which the Acts of the Apostles is an unfinished book; at least the story which it begins to tell is an unfinished story. Luke tells how the gospel spread within one generation; the same gospel has been spreading generation by generation ever since:

     Nor shall thy spreading gospel rest
          Till through the world thy truth has run;
     Till Christ has all the nations blest
          That see the light or feel the sun."

F. F. Bruce, Past, Present, and Future: The Work of Christ (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1979), 49.

Mar 11, 2012

New Testament, Theology, and Ethics or New Tesament Theological Ethics

In a chapter Entitled "New Testament, Theology, and Ethics," Stephen Fowl provides a breath of fresh air in taking issue with the simple commas. Fowl writes, "I begin, therefore, by arguing about commas. In particular I want to take issue with the commas and the separations they imply, in the title of this chapter. First, I should note that the commas are not simply the result of editorial idiosyncrasy. Within most of the academy, an all too often within the church, the NT, theology, and ethics are taken to be three separate disciplines. For anyone who wants to read the NT as a Christian theologian, however, this separation must be challenged" Stephen E. Fowl, The New Testament, Theology, and Ethics," in Hearing the New Testament: Strategies for Interpretation, ed. Joel B. Green, 2nd ed. [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010], 397).

I whole heatedly agree. The compartmentalization of Scripture, theology, and ethics is contrary to the purpose and intent of Scripture itself. An interpreter of the New Testament who is disinterested in the inherent theology and ethics of the text is doing something, but they are not interpreting the New Testament (or the Old Testament for that matter).