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Showing posts from 2014

Pope John Paul II on Labor and Co-creation

A little over thirty years ago, Pope John Paul II made this comment as part of his blessing the fishing fleet at Flatrock, Newfoundland (Sept 12, 1984):

"Men and women are meant to contribute by their work tothe building up of the human community, and so to realize their full humanstature as co-creators with God and co-builders of his Kingdom." 

You can see his full comments here.

Interview on Reconsidering the Relationship between Biblical and Systematic Theology

Jason Maston asked me some questions recently about the recent book I co-edited on the relationship between biblical and systematic theology: https://dunelm.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/ben-reynolds-on-biblical-and-systematic-theology-author-interview/.

Thanks, Jason and the Dunelm crew.

The Importance of Big Ideas and Great Books

There is an excellent piece entitled "Philosopher Kings: Business Leaders would benefit from studying great writers" in the Schumpeter column of the October 4th 2014 Economist. The article is a lament with some poignant comments arguing that business leaders would be better off spending weekends reading great books and discussing big ideas with others rather than doing team building exercises or experiencing leadership skills on a kayak trip. The call is for business leaders to take some "inward-bound" courses instead of the typical outward-bound courses.

I think that the piece offers some great advice, and I think that the advice shouldn't just be taken by business leaders. Everyone in every walk of life could use a few big ideas and read a great book or two. Connecting with the broader ideas of what humanity is and what culture is can expand our horizons and challenge us to rethink our own narrow parts of the world. If a business leader can be encourage to r…

Thoughts on "Jesus Christ didn't exist"

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The Daily Mail Online has run a piece today entitled: "'Jesus NEVER existed': Writer finds no mention of Christ in 126 historical texts and says he was a 'mythical character.'" The writer is Michael Paulkovich who is described as a "historical researcher." (It is probably worth mentioning that the next story that the Daily Mail suggests its readers view is "Has 'Dracula's dungeon' been unearthed in Turkey?")
As the title, and every following paragraph, states, Paulkovich did not find reference to Jesus in 126 ancient historical writers (his list is provided), and so therefore, Paulkovich believes Jesus was mythical. The assumption built in here is that by the end of the first century Jesus was famous enough throughout the Roman Empire that any decent historian would have mentioned him: "all of whom should have heard of Jesus but did not." 
Yet, it should be obvious that this is clearly an argument from silence. For ex…

Apology to Saeed Hamid-Khani

It has been a while since posting, but I have been meaning to get to this one.

I wanted to formally apologize to Dr. Saeed Hamid-Khani for not making use of his published thesis in the writing of my own thesis on the Gospel of John. Hamid-Khani's thesis was published as: Revelation and Concealment ofChrist: Theological Inquiry into the Elusive Language of the Fourth Gospel (WUNT II/120; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000). It was examined by William Horbury and C.K. Barrett. John Philip M. Sweet was Hamid-Khani's supervisor. 

In the course of working on an essay related to the topic of "revelation" in the Gospel of John, I ran across the title of Hamid-Khani's book. I was able to get a copy through interlibrary loan and waded my way through the immense amount of work that the volume contains. The striking contribution of Hamid-Khani's thesis is his challenge to Rudolf Bultmann's claim that what is revealed in John's Gospel is an empty revelation formula, i…

Thomas Dekker in Dororthy Sayers

Great quote at the beginning of chapter 15 of Dorothy Sayer's Lord Peter Wimsey novel Gaudy Night.

Do but consider what an excellent thing sleep is: it is so inestimable a jewel that, if a tyrant would give his crown for an hour's slumber, it cannot be bought: of so beautiful a shape is it, that though a man lie with an Empress, his heart cannot beat quiet till he leaves her embracements to be at rest with the other: yea, so greatly indebted are we to this kinsman of death, that we owe the better tributary half our life to him: and there is good cause why we should do so: for sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together. Who complains of want? of wounds? of cares? of great men's oppressions? of captivity? whilst he sleepeth? Beggars in their beds take as much pleasure as kings: can we therefore surfeit on this delicate Ambrosia? Can we drink too much of that whereof to taste too little tumbles us into a churchyard, and to use it but indifferently th…

John Ashton's new book, The Gospel of John and Christian Origins (Fortress Press)

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John Ashton's bookThe Gospel of John and Christian Originswas published this spring by Fortress Press. I did have the opportunity to read earlier versions of about half the chapters, and it has been enjoyable to read through the finished book.

Ashton has continued themes from his previous book on John, Understanding the Fourth Gospel (1st ed. 1991; 2nd ed. 2007). Ashton made significant changes between the two editions of Understanding, but the third section on "Revelation" (pp. 303-528 in the 2nd ed.) was largely left unchanged.
(See my comments on that volume here.) Ashton acknowledges he is revising that section in Gospel of John and Christian Origins, but he is also making more explicit his arguments for the history behind the Gospel, its writing, and Johannine Christianity.

The primary interlocutors and support for Ashton throughout the book are Wayne Meeks, Rudolf Bultmann, Ernst Käsemann, and J. Louis Martyn. Coupled with the title, it is clear that that he is c…

Writing Essays link via Markus Bockmuehl

I have just added a link to Markus Bockmuehl's Theology Resources website that has some helpful advice about writing essays. They are a useful read.

Professor Maurice Casey, 1942-2014

I was sorry to hear this week that Professor Maurice Casey passed away on 10 May 2014. There have been numerous postings in honour of Professor Casey, from longer interactions with his scholarship by his former student James Crossley (parts one and two), Mark Goodacre, Larry Hurtado, and Dominic Mattos, to a number of announcements and annecdotes shared by Jim Davila, Jim West, Peter Head (in comment), and Chris Keith, as well as others I have not read.

I had the privilege of meeting Maurice on a few occasions while I was working on my doctoral thesis on the Son of Man in John. Like Peter Head, I met Maurice at the annual conference on the use of the OT in the NT held at St. Deneiol's library in Hawarden. My paper was scheduled for the last day of the conference, and on the preceding evening, Maurice told me that my paper on the Son of Man in Daniel 7 and John 5:27 was the paper he was most looking forward to hearing. For a doctoral student who knew he was going to be making some…

Frederick Murphy, Apocalypticism in the Bible and Its World: A Comprehensive Introduction

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This past semester I taught a course on the New Testament and Jewish apocalypses. For the required texts, along with reading the Jewish apocalypses themselves, I required John Collins' The Apocalyptic Imagination and the recent award-winning and posthumously published Apocalypticism in the Bible and Its World by Frederick Murphy. I have a book review of Murphy coming out in next Trinity Journal, but I wanted to make some comments here that I was not able to include in the more traditional book review.

My students found Murphy more readable and accessible than Collins. I suspect that this is because Murphy has written in a style that an undergraduate can more easily grasp, and I think the fact that Murphy summarizes more familiar (biblical) material than Collins (Jewish apocalypses) also made Murphy seem more friendly.

One challenge with using a book like Murphy is that it is a long textbook that summarizes a lot of primary material, while highlighting specific themes throughout. If…

Wycliffe Centre for Scripture and Theology Colloquium Spring 2014

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The Spring 2014 Scripture and Theology Coloquium at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto will be held May 9, 9am to 4pm. Refreshments and lunch provided.

The topic of this colloquium is Ecclesiastes. There is a great line-up, including Tremper Longman (Westmont College), Daniel Treier (Wheaton), Daniel Driver (my OT colleage at Tyndale), Ray Van Leeuwen (Eastern), and Chris Seitz (Wycliffe).

The colloquia are always an excellent integration of biblical and systematic theology.



Gospel of Jesus' Wife Fragment Latest, via Mark Goodacre

For those interested in the fragment called "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife" and the controversy around it -- forgery or not, see Mark Goodacre's helpful collection of links to recent comments and stories about the Coptic papyrus fragment.
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King's College, London is hosting a conference June 20-22 on Jesus and Brian, the Life of Brian that is. The programme and other information can be found here. The mystery guest at dinner on 21 June might be worth attending! Chris Keith at the Jesus blog suggests one of the Pythons.

Oh, another instance of wishing I was closer to London.

Son of God: The Bible Miniseries Remix

There has been a bit of talk with the release of "Son of God" in the theatres within the last two weeks. I have not seen it, but I have seen the full Bible miniseries from which "Son of God" is derived. Through various reviews, I have learned that material was edited out and deleted scenes added. So it would have been worth my time to view the "new" film as a study in modern Gospel redaction.

Craig Keener's article in CT highlights the removal of the devil from the "Son of God." I suspect this means that the entire temptation narrative was excised. Keener's article is also provides an in-depth look at the role the devil plays in each of the Gospel narratives. So his review is not so much a review as an excellent mini-study on the devil in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Kenneth R. Morefield in a CT movie review refers to the "Son of God" as "a bit like listening to a pretty good tribute band doing a set list of Top 40 hits…

The Polytechnic Utiliversity by Reinhard Hütter

In case you missed it, there was an excellent piece on higher education by Reinhard Hütter in the November 2013 issue of First Things entitled "Polytechnic Utiliversity: Putting the Universal Back in University." Hütter offered a thoughtful and challenging look at the ideal set out by John Henry Newman about what a university should be, and  Hütter compared this with the utilitarian, professionally focused institution that the larger universities have become. The second paragraph of the essay gives you the sense of his perspective:

"The ideal of a liberal education that carries its end in its very practice has been supplanted by an efficiency-driven program of knowledge making and a respective training in the communicative, mathematical, and scientific skills necessary for contributing to this knowledge making and applying it to ends dictated by individual and collective desires. The university has morphed into a polytechnicum with a functionalized, propaedeutic …

Surprise! Texting and Web Surfing Affects Learning

Here is the concluding quote from a recent study by Kuznekoff and Titsworth on the use of texting and social media posts by students in the classroom:


The Importance of Reading and the Joy of Reading Wodehouse

Ran across this post on the value of recreational reading as important and a valuable human activity. There is some wonderful discussion of P.G. Wodehouse, one of my favorite authors, as an example of excellent recreational reading. The post and Wodehouse are worth some time of recreational reading.