October 2012


I’ve got a friend of a friend looking for a room to share with a couple of other people for SBL to help keep costs down.  If you are looking for someone to add or would be willing to have someone else, give me a shout out in the comments and I’ll pass along your information.  Thanks!

In a discussion forum about Jesus movies, Bruce Longenecker was praising the BBC’s The Passion as one of the better recent Jesus movies (not to be confused with Mel Gibson’s similarly titled film).  I had almost forgotten about it because it came out just after we moved to the UK.  I highly recommend it too.  If you want to get a feel beyond the limited trailer, I noticed on Youtube someone has uploaded the different episodes if you look for “The Passion Episode …” 1-1, 1-2, etc.

Also in the discussion forum was a note about a dramatized version of the Gospel of Thomas.  Since there is no narrative in the account it is 45 minutes of Jesus giving the sayings with other actors for the disciples.  It does show the distinct contrast with other Gospels since there isn’t any narrative to go along with the teaching.

In my Romans course today I lectured on Rom 7:1-25 and had a great a discussion with my students about the spiritual status of the speaker (“I”) in verses 14-25. Not surprisingly, prior to the reading and coursework they did in preparation for today, many of my students had never seriously grappled with the issue of whether the speaker in this passage represents a regenerate or unregenerate person; most had simply assumed that Paul was narrating his post-conversion struggle with “Sin”. Again, such is not surprising considering that this is the view taught in many churches and in some scholarly commentaries (e.g., Cranfield and Dunn). But this got me to wondering if this is the assumption shared by most readers of this blog. So, I thought I would post a poll so readers can vote on which position they find the strongest, also providing a third option (“both”) for those who do not believe the regenerate and unregenerate positions adequately cover the interpretive possibilities. Please do share your opinion.

Btw, for interested readers, I recommend Jason Maston’s recently published thesis on Romans 7-8, Divine and Human Agency in Second Temple Judaism and Paul: A Comparative Approach (WUNT 2/297; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010).

Let me take the opportunity to let you know of the new blog of the School of Christian Thought at Houston Baptist Universitychristianthought.hbu.edu.  It’s a great place to hear about Theology, Philosophy and Cultural Apologetics.

I did my inaugural post on there just this morning about America’s Christian Roots as I interacted with an interview of Mark Noll and George Marsden at Calvin College.

Go check it out.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been reading Symeon the New Theologian.  He has a section where he rewrites the prodigal son story with an emperor that forgives and accepts an opposing general.  The emperor receives the humble and contrite general with a celebration and a feast, with a crown and robe for him.  He goes on:

And this is not the whole tale, but day and night he rejoices and is glad with him, embracing him and kissing his mouth with his own.  So much does he love him exceedingly that he is not separated from him even in his sleep, but lies together with him embracing him on his bed, and covers him all about with his own cloak, and places his face upon all his members.

Symeon the New Theologian, Ethical Discourse 10, Section 6 (pg 150-51).

I thought, wow, did I just read that?  Fortunately the translator offers this footnote:

Sometimes the saint’s gift for images will exceed his discretion and good sense.  This appears to be one such instance.  We leave it in solely out of respect for the text.  It is, however, consistent with the New Theologian’s uses of nuptial imagery elsewhere.  See also his warning against taking his metaphors in a literal, sexual sense: ‘Understanding this spiritually, you who read, lest you be wretchedly defiled’ Hymn 46, lines 29-31.

Sometimes you’ve got know when to say when.

I teaching NT theology next semester, and it’s that time of year to order textbooks around here.  I’ve been going through various texts that people here have used and that I’ve got on my shelf, but I’ve not found anything that just clicks for me.  The current prof is using Frank Matera’s New Testament Theology, which is what I might default to myself.  The biggest problem that I’m finding is that most New Testament theologies are written for seminary level students and are thus detailed and long.  I want to kindle a fire of interest in the topic not beat them to death with reading.  At the same time, I’m a fan of having outside texts–articles and relevant selections from key works–as assigned “seminar” reading so student learn to analyse and discuss arguments.  So, a huge textbook squeezes out the ability of assigning this other reading.

My questions to the blogging world are these:  1) What NT theology(ies) are your favorites and why?  2) Would you recommend it/them for undergrads or just grad students?

In response to Krister Stendahl’s salvation-historical reading of Paul, Ernst Käsemann, in his “Justificaiton and Salvation History in the Epistle to the Romans,” offers the following précis of Pauline theology and of the Christian life:

[T]he apostle does not understand history as a continuous evolutionary process but as the contrast of the two realms of Adam and Christ. Pauline theology unfolds this contrast extensively as the struggle between death and life, sin and salvation, law and gospel. The basis is the apocalyptic scheme of the two successive aeons which is transferred to the present. Apparently Paul viewed his own time as the hour of the Messiah’s birth-pangs, in which the new creation emerges from the old world through the Christian proclamation. Spirits, powers and dominions part eschatologically at the crossroads of the gospel. We thus arrive at the dialectic of ‘once’ and ‘now’, which is absorbed into anthropology in the form of ‘already saved’ and ‘still tempted’. In the antithesis of spirit and flesh this dialectic determines the cosmos until the parousia of Christ. Christians are drawn into this conflict all their lives. Every day they have through obedience to authenticate their baptismal origin anew. The churches, too, are exposed in the same way to the attacks of nomism and enthusiasm, which threaten the lordship of Christ. The church lives under the sign of the cross, that is to say, given over to death inwardly and outwardly, waiting longingly with the whole of creation for the liberty of the children of God and manifesting the imitation of Jesus through the bearing of his cross.

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