Showing posts from 2011

Interview with Simon Gathercole at Tyndale University College

Dr. Simon Gathercole was recently at Tyndale for two lectures (Nov 17). There was great turn out for both, and we were treated to two stimulating lectures on substitution and the Gnostics, respectively. Simon was interviewed while he was here, and the Communications department has just posted this video. 

Simon Gathercole Lectures at Tyndale
Tyndale University College on Vimeo.

The Pope on Jesus, a review in First Things

The October edition of First Things, which I have just had a chance to look through, has a review of Pope Benedict XVI's second volume of Jesus of Nazareth ("Reading the Gospels with Benedict XVI", pp. 35-40).The review by Bruce Marshall is a good read, especially given that I do want to read Ratzinger's work on Jesus. There are a number of things about the review that could be mentioned, but I do want to note a discussion that comes toward the end of the review about the relationship between Biblical Studies and Theology.

What sparks these comments by Marshall is the "frosty reception" that the he says the pope's book has been given by biblical scholars. He states that among other things: "...the book was dismissed as a misbegotten hybrid of critical scholarship and Catholic devotion..." (p. 39). And yes, that would cause some problems for the more historical-critically minded biblical scholar.

Marshall continues, "Undeterred by such cri…

Faught and Gentles, Tyndale History Department Books

Yesterday we had a reception for two of my colleagues in the history department here at Tyndale. They both published books this year.

Ian Gentles is a Cromwell scholar and has published a biography of Cromwell this year entitled: Cromwell: God's Warrior and the English Revolution.

Brad Faught, who has published numerous works on the British Empire (and has another book coming out in the near future), has published The New A-Z of Empire: A Concise Handbook of British Imperial History.

If I only had more time to read books that I want to read!

Karl Barth for Armchair Theologians

During SBL this past weekend, I picked up a copy of Barth for Armchair Theologians by John R. Franke. I have always been intrigued by this armchair series published by Westminster John Knox, and knowing that I currently do not have time to begin reading Barth's actually writings, a nice, light introduction sounded like a good idea.

Franke makes a great comment in his discussion of Barth's developing theology, as Barth began to move away from liberal theology in the aftermath of World War I:

"...Barth increasingly believed that to speak of God was to speak of something different, strange, and startling. God does not come to us in ways that simply affirm what we already believe and practice as a matter of course, but God comes to us and speaks to us on God's own terms, invading and disrupting what we have known and take for granted by calling into being a new reality that we could not have foreseen or imagined" (p. 31).

The Calming of the Wind and the Waves

In preparation for a lecture on Jesus' mighty works, I ran across this powerful painting and an artist I was not previously aware of.

James Ensor, Le Christ apaisant la tempête, 1891. A link to the painting may be found here.

"How to Read the Bible" in Christianity Today

The cover story for this month's (October 2011) Christianity Today is an article by J. Todd Billings entitled "How to Read the Bible: New strategies for interpreting Scripture turn out to be not so new--and deepen our life in Christ". The article introduces some of the main themes and scholars in the field of theological interpretation of Scripture. Billings makes some excellent points and is challenging about the place of a theological hermeneutic in relation to historical-critical exegesis and also in relation to the Church's engagement of Scripture in the context of worship and devotion.

One quick quote (for now), pp. 25-26: "Instead of providing a detailed blueprint, a theological reading [of Scripture] brings a map for a journey. Our map does not give all the answers about a particular text. Instead, our reading sends us on a journey in which God in Scripture encounters us again and again, both with comforting signs of his presence and surprises that confou…

The Arts and Science: Colliding and Integrating

For Christian liberal arts education, the integration of the academic disciplines is central to understanding the Creator and humanity's work as subcreators within the world. Last week, while listening to the BBC World Service (Oct 9), I heard an interview with Ariane Koek, the director of the arts program at CERN. Although CERN is the joint particle physics laboratory in Europe, they have a arts program called Arts@CERN and have begun a new internship for artists called Collide@CERN (also here).

The Arts@CERN website states: "The Arts and Particle Physics are inextricably linked: both are ways of us exploring our existence - what it is to be human and our place in the universe."

Here is another statement by the program director,“The arts touch the parts that science alone cannot reach, and vice versa,” said Ariane Koek, CERN's cultural specialist.“Collide@CERN gives CERN, artists and scientists the opportunity to engage in creative collisions that can occur when the…

Wycliffe Centre for Scripture and Theology Fall Meeting 2011

It is less than a month until the Wycliffe Centre for Scripture and Theology fall meeting 2011. The program looks to be interesting and engaging. One of the presenters is Tyndale's own Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, Dr. Stanley Walters (PhD, Yale). The meeting will take place at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto on Friday, October 21. The program is as follows:

Discussion will focus on Isaiah 9 in reception history, and on connections here with Legaspi's recent book, The Death of Scripture & the Rise of Biblical Studies (OUP, 2010).

TimeParticipantsFriday, 21 October 20119:30 amEphraim RadnerGreeting & Introduction10:00 amGary AndersonIsaiah 9 with a focus TBD11:00 amMichael LegaspiIsaiah 9 and the work of Robert Lowth12:00 pmStanley WaltersReview of Legaspi’s The Death of Scripture…1:00 pmeverybodyLunch provided for attendees & presenters2:00 pmJoseph ManginaResponse to morning presentations2:30 pmChristopher SeitzSummary and response to morning pr…

Earning a UK PhD, the state of the UK PhD: comments by Larry Hurtado

Larry Hurtado has recently made some comments about the state of the British PhD on his blog (see links below). Apparently some NT PhD candidates in the UK are submitting PhD theses when they do not have a reading knowledge of Koine Greek, German, or French. Nor is it apparent that some students can understand and explain the textual variants of a passage from the Nestle-Aland apparatus. It is disappointing (although not entirely shocking) that some UK PhD candidates have come to this point. The blame can largely be placed on the universities (and I think the supervisors of these students should shoulder some of it, unless of course, the students have not heeded their supervisors warnings and advice. The latter does happen!). Hurtado explains in the third post listed below some of the pressures placed on UK universities by the government that have led to this. 
As the graduate of a British PhD programme, I understand how this can happen. The situation is unfortunate and only spells pro…

Simon Gathercole at Tyndale University College

Dr. Simon Gathercole will be giving two lectures at Tyndale University College on Thursday, November 17, 2011. The formal announcement has now been made.

The first lecture is entitled "In Defence of Substitution: The Atonement in Paul" and will be given over lunch (11:45-1:00) on the Tyndale Ballyconnor Campus.

The second lecture is open to the public and is entitled "Who were the Gnostics? Their Beliefs, Practices, and Gospels". This lecture will take place at 7:00pm in the auditorium (NB: not the chapel!) at the Tyndale Bayview Campus (Sisters of St. Joseph). If you would like further information on either lecture, please let me know and watch the Tyndale website for further information.

Dr. Simon Gathercole is Senior Lecturer in New Testament in the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge. He is editor of the Journal for the Study of the New Testament and is well-known for his books Where is Boasting? Early Jewish Soteriology and Paul's Response in Roman…

Hitchhiker's Guide to Jesus Blog Tour

During the week of Oct 3-7, 2011, a number of NT scholars, pastors, and students will be posting blog entries on Bruce Fisk's, A Hitchhiker's Guide to Jesus. This will be a great opportunity to find out other opinions about the book from a variety of perspectives. Here is the link: Check out the list of bloggers and blog who will be reviewing. I am looking forward to reading what everyone has to say.

Religious Studies Student's Guide to Research and Writing

Making Sense in Religious Studies: A Student's Guide to Research and Writing was published in August 2011 and will prove to be an excellent resource for undergraduate students of Religious Studies. The majority of the information in the book will also be useful to non-Religious Studies students as the book also provides advice on the basics of university life and students' academic responsibilities.

This Oxford University Press publication authored by Margot Northey, Bradford A. Anderson, and Joel N. Lohr introduces students to university and higher education in the first three chapters, including time management and writing. General information that will be useful to most university students includes chapters on writing essays, writing book reviews, studying for and taking tests, giving oral presentations, documenting sources, common grammatical errors, and more. The chapter on reading religious texts is clearly specific to Religious Studies, as are most of the examples in the…

Oscar Cullmann on Early Christian Worship

An extended quote from Cullmann's, Early Christian Worship, 1953 (originally Urchristentum und Gottesdienst, 1950):

"Two main features of the purpose of all early Christian gatherings for worship must still be stressed. First, the Lord's Supper is the natural climax towards which the service thus understood moves and without which it is not thinkable, since here Christ unites himself with his community as crucified and risen and makes it in this way one with himself, actually builds it up as his body (1 Cor. 10.l7). Corresponding to this all the other parts of the service have the risen Lord of the Church as their object. For this reason the day of the Lord's resurrection is the Christian festive day...

"The second main Christian feature of the early service is shown to us in the fact that the risen and present Lord of the Church who stands in the centre of the Christian gathering, points at one and the same time backwards to the crucified and risen historical Je…

The ESV Book of Common Prayer for Mobile

At the bottom of the blog, you will find a link to the Book of Common Prayer daily office lectionary from the ESV's website (multiple other reading plans are available). I often read the daily readings on my iPod touch since I can access it wherever there is wifi. The ESV also has made available an audio version of each reading. Today, when I logged in I noticed that they have changed the mobile format. One of the great changes that was made is the ability to listen to all of the readings one after the other. Previously, it was necessary to click each reading separately (1-3 Psalms, OT, NT, & Gospel) in order to listen to them. This morning I listened to all of the readings in 11+ minutes with only one click. Great addition. Thanks, ESV.

The Hermeneutical Role of Biblical Theology

Here are some comments by Graeme Goldsworthy in his book Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics: Foundations and Principles of Evangelical Biblical Interpretation. The comments come from his chapter "The Gospel and the Theological Dimension (II): Biblical and Systematic Theology."

"The biblical theological dimension in hermeneutics is thus the major way of addressing the question of the gap between the text and the reader. It allows the reader to find where he or she actually fits into the totality of biblical revelation. If done with care, it will then provide the valid links between the meaning of a text in its own context and its application to the modern reader. The offending gap is the theological distance of texts from the modern reader. But, if the gap is uniformly closed by the reader to give an undifferentiated immediacy to all texts, the result is hermeneutical chaos. Some forms of pietism and 'Spirit-driven' subjective theology result in such an approach, which …

Quintilian and the Liberal Arts

Dorothy Sayers essay "The Lost Tools of Learning" (see the link under "Liberal Arts Resources" on the right), gives a thoughtful critique of the academic learning of her day. She echoes some thoughts found in Quintilian's preface to his Institutio Oratoria. In explaining why he is finally writing his view of oratory, Quintilian (b. c. 35 CE; d. before 100) says that he had declined his friends' requests to write because he "was well aware that some of the most distinguished Greek and Roman writers had bequeathed to posterity a number of works dealing with the subject" (1.1). However, Quintilian says that he came to the conclusion that these other authors expected their readers to know all other branches of learning before reading their work.

Quintilian disagrees with this approach and claims that the early stages of education, while not being as flashy, are invaluable. He states:

"For almost all others who have written on the art of oratory…

The Imitation of Christ

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas 'a Kempis is a Christian classic. In the preface to "The Christian Classics" series published in 1940 (reprinted as the Preface of the 2005 Ignatius Press edition), R.A. Knox noted that few books in the history of the world are known by one name as is the Imitation. Knox also states: "The whole work was meant to be, surely, what it is--a sustained irritant which will preserve us, if it is read faithfully, from sinking back into relaxation: from self-conceit, self-pity, self-love."

I have begun rereading the Imitation in this beautiful edition, and I didn't get very far before I needed to pause.

Here is one brief quote of 'a Kempis from 1.1.5: "There is one proverb of which we cannot remind ourselves too often, Eye looks on unsatisfied; ear listens, ill content. Make up your mind to detach your thoughts from the love of things seen, and let them find their centre in things invisible."

Theology, University, Humanities

I recently saw this book listed in the Wipf & Stock new releases email. The book is a series of essays on the relationship of theology and the humanities in the university. The editors of the volume, Christopher Craig Brittain and Francesca Murphy both have ties to the University of Aberdeen. Brittain currently is a lecturer in theology there, while Murphy has only recently left her post as Reader in Theology at Aberdeen to take the post at Notre Dame. (The subtitle Initium Sapientiae Timor Domini 'Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom' is the moto of the University of Aberdeen). These essays with their Aberdeen connection and also the topic of the place of theology in the humanities and the university are of interest to me. I hope to soon read this volume.

The description of the the book is as follows:
"This book discusses the relationship between theology and the humanities and their shared significance within contemporary universities. Taking up this comple…

Changes, Additions and Updates

I have just made a few changes to the look of Divinity United. I'm not sure if they will stay, but it has been over a year now so a some tidying up was in order.

A few journals have been added to the journal list. All of them should have been there initially, but they are there now. The journals listed are those that I recommend students make use of for their research and writing for class papers.

Eugene Petersen, Eat this Book--gnawing on words

I have been making my way slowly through Eugene Peterson's, Eat this Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading. I say slowly because I often find myself rereading sections and taking to heart his comments about the need to gnaw on words. Peterson is talking specifically about reading Scripture, but there is a depth to his writing and experience that requires his words to be read over. Here is a quote from the end of his first chapter entitled "The Forbidding Discipline of Spiritual Reading" (p. 11). 

"Reading is an immense gift, but only if the words are assimilated, taken into the soul--eaten, chewed, gnawed, received in unhurried delight. Words of men and women long dead, or separated by miles and/or years, come off the page and enter our lives freshly and precisely, conveying truth and beauty and goodness, words that God's Spirit has used and uses to breathe life into our souls. Our access to reality deepens into past centuries, spreads across cont…

Bruce Chilton on the Eucharist in early Christianity

I have been reading through Bruce Chilton, A Feast of Meanings: Eucharistic Theologies from Jesus through Johannine Circles (Brill, 1994). The following citation is a significant methodological statement about what he thinks about the eucharistic texts in the New Testament.

Chilton states (pp. 6-7):
"Each of them [that is, the previous views on the eucharistic texts such as those held by Jeremias and others] presupposes that eucharistic texts are best understood as referring simply to the past: Jesus is held to have said and done such and so, and the only issue of importance is whether that is fact or artifice. Each alternative posits a single hero behind the texts, either a willing martyr or a literary genius, who forges meaning in an instant of creativity. The hero acts, and the texts lie inert. But along with their diversity, among the most striking features of the eucharistic texts--especially in the Synoptics, Paul, and the Didache--is their insistence that they relate things…

Enoch Seminar 2011, Milan: 2 Baruch and 4 Ezra: Final Schedule

The finalized schedule for the Enoch Seminar in Milan has recently been posted. Links to most of the papers have been made available, although access is restricted to attendees. One of the Enoch Seminar traditions is that no papers are read at the conference. The attendees are to read all of the papers (yes, all of the papers) ahead of time. The sessions at the conference sessions are given to a brief summary of the papers and to significant discussion. Seems like a much more enjoyable and interesting way to run a conference, especially one located in Italy.

A Hitchhiker's Guide to Jesus, Bruce Fisk

I have just finished Bruce Fisk's enjoyable and fun A Hitchhiker's Guide to Jesus: Reading the Gospels on the Ground (Baker Academic, 2011). I saw the book in a Baker Academic announcement a couple weeks ago, and since I am teaching a course on Jesus and the Synoptic Tradition this coming fall, I thought I should check it out (not to mention that Bruce Fisk teaches at my alma mater Westmont College). After reading the first chapter, I was hooked and knew that I would be placing the book on the required reading list for my course.

When my copy first arrived, I read through the comments from an impressive list of academics and was a bit skeptical of what seemed like overly positive praise. Rereading those comments now, they are right on. For example, Gary Burge states: "Bruce Fisk has possibly written the most creative, fascinating, and informed book on the Gospels in a generation..." For me, what makes this book so appealing is the way in which Fisk weaves together man…

Tyndale Announces Successful Capital Campaign

Brief press release:

Tyndale University College & Seminary has raised $52 million to date towards the purchase of its new Bayview Campus and new programs. The Uncommon Ground capital campaign, launched in 2007, has raised over $44 million or 76% of its $58 million goal in just 4 years, as well as an additional $8 million for endowed chairs and facilities upgrades... The full press release can be found on Maclean's has already reported on the campaign: "Christian University Raises Loads of Cash"

Albert Einstein on Jesus

I ran across this interesting quote of a quote of a quote in James H. Charlesworth's, The Historical Jesus An Essential Guide (Abingdon, 2008), p. 8.

"Einstein is often not mentioned in the list of Jews who admired the historical Jesus. In Einstein and Religion, Max Jammer quotes an interview with Einstein in 1929; here are Einstein's words: 'I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene....No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life' (p. 2)."

Oxford Bibliographies Online: An Excellent Tool

My colleague Daniel Driver directed my attention to Oxford Bibliographies Online (Biblical Studies). I have been looking around on the site and have only become more and more impressed. There are a signficant number of bibliographies and each one has been put together by top notch scholars in the various fields. You can search or browse alphabetically. The bibliographies name the author and the date the bibliography was posted. Each bibliography includes introductory information about the topic as well as introductory surveys, general overviews, and themes and topics related to the title topics. The specificity of these latter bibliographies continues to surprise me. All of the sources listed have a brief annotation as well as a links to World Cat and often to Google Preview. (I should mention that Oxford Bibliographies is only available through subscription which my university library has.)

The editor-in-chief of Oxford Bibliographies Online is Christopher R. Matthews who is also Edi…

Comments by Ulrich Luz on Reception History

In his book Studies on Matthew, Ulrich Luz has five essays at the end of the book that address questions of interpretation, and the primary interest with most of these is Reception History or how has the Bible been understood throughout the centuries. The following is a longer quote that I found thought-provoking from his essay entitled "The Significance of the Church Fathers for Biblical Interpretation in Western Protestant Perspective". The essay was originally published as "Die Bedeutung der Kirchenväter für die Auslegung der Biblel. Eine westlich protestantische Sicht", in : James D.G.d Dunn, Hans Klein, Ulrich Luz, and Vasile Mihoc (eds.), Auslegung der Bibel in orthodoxer und westlicher Perspektive, WUNT I/130 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000), pp. 29-52.
"...we are reminded by the patristic interpretations that behind the plurality of voices in the Bible itself and behind all the interpretations there is an interpretative community of which we ourselves ar…

Goodacre on the Son of Man

Mark Goodacre posted a podcast entitled "Who is this 'Son of Man'?" over at NT Pod in early April. I have finally had time to listen to it, and as usual, he has done an excellent job introducing a NT topic (which is why I continue to make use of his podcasts in class). Goodacre points out that "the Son of Man" (ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου) was only spoken by Jesus and it is almost non-existent outside of the Gospels. So what did the phrase mean to Jesus? what did it mean to his followers? and why did early Christians essentially not use it? Such questions are why there is no end to scholarly discussion on the topic.
I recognize that Goodacre is only giving an 11 minute introduction to a complex topic, but I did want to clarify a couple points. The Jewish Second Temple text the Similitudes of Enoch does make reference to a son of man figure and there are clear indications that Daniel 7 has influenced this text (chs. 46-48). Although Goodacre states that Similitudes i…

The new Tyndale Magazine

Tyndale University College and Seminary have just relaunched the institution's magazine. It was formally titled "Connection", but has now been given the title "Tyndale: The Magazine". The new version is completely available online, but print copies will also still be published.

Who is this Son of Man? Hurtado and Owen (eds.)

My copy of 'Who Is This Son of Man?' The Latest Scholarship on a Puzzling Expression of the Historical Jesus (LNTS 390) edited by Larry W. Hurtado and Paul L. Owen just arrived the other day. I am looking forward to making my way through the essays. Hopefully, I will have time to add some comments on them from time to time. Larry Hurtado's summary essay is of most interest to me, especially since a number of the essays come from different perspectives on the Son of Man debate and do not represent a consensus as much as the varying positions on the questions surrounding ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου in the Gospels.

The description on the back reads:
'This volume is the first ever collection of scholarly essays in English devoted specifically to the theme of the expression "son of man". It describes the major competing theories which have addressed, among others, the following questions. What is the original Aramaic expression that lies behind the Greek phrase, and what …

Praise the Source of Faith and Learning

A week ago today we had our graduation chapel, and the processional hymn was "Praise the Source of Faith and Learning" -- words by Thomas H. Troeger, music by Richard H. Pritchard. The words and music can be found here. According to the Harvard University Hymn Book (p. 494), the hymn was commissioned by Duke University and "reflects the school's motto, 'Faith and Learning.'"

For some reason, we did not sing the fourth and final verse, which brings it all to conclusion. We ended with the third verse which has the intriguing lines about "our learning" curbing "the error which unthinking faith can breed, lest we justify some terror with an antiquated creed."

The hymn is an excellent hymn for academic settings, especially for those institutions that attempt to bring together faith and learning. The hymn is a reminder that human knowledge can "only partial truth impart", and it is a prayer:

Blend, O God, our faith and learning

David Eastman, Paul the Martyr

My friend David Eastman has just had his thesis published with SBL/Brill. It is entitled Paul the Martyr: The Cult of the Apostle Paul in the Latin West. Hopefully, I can get a hold of a copy soon. Knowing David, it will be good and thorough. His book highlights the growing interest (or renewed interest) in early Christianity, namely what Christians were up to and believed in the first few centuries.

Here is the blurb from the back of the book, including the recommendations from Adela Yarbro Collins and Lawrence Welborn:

Ancient iconography of Paul is dominated by one image: Paul as martyr. Whether he is carrying a sword--the traditional instrument of his execution--or receiving a martyr's crown from Christ, the apostle was remembered and honored for his faithfulness to the point of death. As a result, Christians created a cult of Paul, centered on particular holy sites and characterized by practices such as the telling of stories, pilgrimage, and the veneration of relics. Th…