Feb 13, 2016

Brian Rosner's Paul and the Law

Brian S. Rosner, Paul and the Law: Keeping the Commandments of God, New Studies in Biblical Theology 31 (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2013).

This volume addresses the much-debated issue of Paul’s view of the Mosaic Law. Indeed, “The subject of Paul and the law is rightly regarded as one of the knottiest puzzles in the study of the New Testament” (p. 207). Rosner notes that three theological positions have a strong interest in Paul’s view of the Law (p. 21). Lutheranism holds that Paul believed that Christ abolished the Law and that the Law is a counterpoint to the gospel. Reformed theology holds that salvation is by grace and not by obeying the Law, but once saved, Christians are under the moral aspects of the Law and must keep it in order to please God. The New Perspective on Paul holds that the problem of the Law is not that salvation is by grace rather than works but that Paul’s opposition to the Law was simply its (mis)use by the Jews to exclude Gentiles from the people of God (Jewish ethnocentrisms). He argues that the way forward is to look at all the evidence, use the biblical-theological method, and treat the law as a unity (pp. 41–43). In doing so, Rosner believes that Paul makes three moves related to the Mosaic Law: (1) polemical repudiation (e.g. 1 Cor 7:19; 9:21), (2) radical replacement with the Law of Christ, and wholehearted reappropriation of the Law as prophecy (1 Cor 8:5–6) and wisdom (1 Cor 5:13; 9:24).

Rosner’s work is commendable in that he deftly tackles a fairly complicated issue in a fairly straightforward way. He is clear in his explanations and methodical in his presentation. Each chapter begins with some appropriate quotations and closes with a summary. Chapters 4, 5 and 6 are particularly good. I find Rosner’s approach persuasive and echo his own conclusion: “I am convinced that the hermeneutical solution to the puzzle of Paul and the law that this book expounds is exegetically compelling” (p. 14).

Feb 12, 2016

Greer-Heard: How Did Jesus Become God?

If you are in the New Orleans area this weekend, you might be interested in catching this year's Greer-Heard Point-Counter-Point Forum concerning the question, "How Did Jesus Become God?" But if you can't be there you can also live stream it here. Speakers include Michael Bird, Bart Ehrman, Larry Hurtado, Jennifer Wright Knust, Simon Gathercole, and Dale Martin. Here is the schedule of the presentations.


7:00 p.m. “How Did Jesus Become God?” Bart Ehrman and Michael Bird in Dialogue + Q&A


9:00 a.m. - Simon Gathercole, “Monotheism among Jews and Christians” with responses from Bart Ehrman and Michael Bird

10:00 a.m. - Dale Martin, “The Theological Inadequacy of Historiography: the Empty Tomb in History and Theology” with responses from Bart Ehrman and Michael Bird

11:00 a.m. - Larry Hurtado, “The Significance of Earliest Devotional Practices” with responses from Bart Ehrman and Michael Bird

1:00 p.m. - Jennifer Wright Knust, “Modernity’s Vanishing Point: Histories of Jesus and the Retreat of Authenticity” with responses from Bart Ehrman and Michael Bird

2:00 p.m. - Concluding Comments from Bart Ehrman and Michael Bird

Feb 11, 2016

Walt Kaiser on the Psalms

Dallas Theological Seminary held their annual W. H. Griffith Thomas lectures last week. This year’s speaker was Walt Kaiser and he spoke on the Psalms. Here are links to his presentations.

The Structure of the Psalms
The Message of Book III
The People of Psalm 83 

The Messiah of Psalm 80

Feb 10, 2016

Zondervan eBook Sale

Zondervan has a sale on 13 of it titles until February 15. Biblical studies titles include  

A Theology of Mark's Gospel by David E. Garland ($7.99)

A Theology of John's Gospel and Letters by Andreas J. Köstenberger
A Theology of Luke and Acts by Darrell L. Bock
A Theology of James, Peter, and Jude by Peter H. Davids

Understanding Biblical Theology by Edward W. Klink III and Darian R. Lockett

You can access the sale here.

Feb 9, 2016

The Trude Dothan Collection at the Lanier Theological Library

In a previous post I mentioned attending the Lanier Theological Library for a lecture by Michael Bird. After the lecture I was wandering through the library and noted that they have apparently acquired Trude Dothan’s personal library. Some readers might be familiar with Dothan’s work in archaeology, especially as it relates to the Philistines. Some might also be aware of her recent passing. (You can read a write up here from the Biblical Archaeology Review folks here and from the Lanier library here.) I did not have a lot of time to poke around the collection but it includes not only her books but also what appear to be drafts of papers she delivered and other unpublished materials. What little I saw was mostly in Hebrew. Here is a photo of part of the collection (sorry about the poor quality). 

Feb 8, 2016

Paul to Malta and Happy Septuagint Day

Paul may have sailed from Malta to Rome on this day nearly two thousand years ago. You can read more about it here.

Today is also the 10th annual International Septuagint Day. You can read about that here.

The Apocalyptic Paul?

A couple of days ago, I had the opportunity to hear Michael Bird speak at the Lanier Theological Library. His talk was entitled “An Invasive Story: Paul’s Theology between Messianic Event and Salvation History.” Here is a paragraph describing the topic.
In the contemporary study of the Apostle Paul, some scholars have stressed that Paul was a very "apocalyptic" thinker, believing that God had invaded the world to bring an end to "religion" by dramatically revealing salvation in Jesus Christ. Yet some have questioned whether this is really what "apocalyptic" means and whether Paul really posits such a rigorous discontinuity between Israel's "religion" and his own account of Christian faith. Accordingly, other scholars have contended that Paul had a theology informed by a continuous story called "salvation-history" in which salvation is not the negation of the old order, but its very fulfillment in Christ. The Book of Galatians has been the primary battleground in this debate between "apocalyptic" and "salvation-history" and is currently one of the more contentious contemporary debates in Pauline studies. The purpose of this lecture is to introduce this topic to a wider audience, to briefly evaluate both the apocalyptic and salvation-history approaches, and to propose a somewhat mediating position between them. 
Bird began his talk by sketching out for common approaches to Pauline theology: Traditional, New Perspective, Radical Paul/Paul within Judaism, and Apocalyptic Paul. 

For the apocalyptic Paul view, the problem is the cosmic tyranny of son and death that religion cannot fix. The solution then was the faithfulness of Christ who undoes sin, death, and evil. Bird also explained the major emphases of the apocalyptic Paul view by borrowing and adapting the Reformed acronym TULIP (here is an earlier and slightly different version). 

Tendency to downplay salvation-historical continuity 
Unveiling of salvation in the apocalypse of Jesus Christ 
Law as the agent of Oppressive Powers 
Invasion of Grace as the End of Religion 
Pistis Christou as the Faithfulness of Christ 

Bird notes that one of the challenges to an apocalyptic reading is the matter of definition since apocalypse can refer to a literary genre, apocalyptic eschatology to a worldview, and apocalypticism as a social movement or group.
Bird went on to examine and critique the apocalyptic approach and seems to find it wanting as the best way to understand Paul. But he did mention a forthcoming volume, Paul and the Apocalyptic Imagination, that those interested in the apocalyptic approach might want to pick up. 

The Lanier library typically posts videos of the lectures but this one is not yet available.

Feb 7, 2016

Psalm 80 as a Messianic Psalm

Lindsay Kennedy has some good interaction here with Andrew Streett regarding Psalm 80 as a neglected messianic psalm.