John Frederick has a lenghty review of my thesis (Paul as an Administrator of God in 1 Corinthians, Cambridge, 2012) in the most recent issue of JETS (56.4, pp. 877-80). I appreciate that he read the entire monograph and that he has some very kinds things to say of the work. If ever we meet at SBL, drinks are on me!
Friday, 17 January 2014
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Monday, 16 December 2013
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Like so many SBL returnees, I’ve been in recent weeks reading through select portions of N. T. Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God (Fortress, 2013). Everything, so far as I can tell, seems to be fairly straightforwardly Wrightian, both in viewpoint and style. In fact, I’ve just been reading his treatment on Romans 9-11 and have enjoyed (though respectfully disagreed with) his exegesis of 11:25-27, where he defends the view that “all Israel” refers to the multi-ethnic church. One particularly witty statement that made me laugh out loud, however, concerns his comparison of himself to Paul quoting Elijah (Rom 11:3-4):
That, I propose, is how we should read 11.26a; kai houtōs pas Israēl sōthēsetai, ‘and in this way “all Israel shall be saved”‘. At this point an exegete arguing my present case may well feel like Paul as he quotes Elijah; ‘I’m the only one left!’ It is not true, of course. There may not be seven thousand, but there might be seven or more out there who have not . . . well, perhaps we had better not complete that sentence. (p. 1239)
Glad you stopped where you did, Tom! But a well-played rhetorical move nevertheless I suppose therein lies definitive proof that one need not provide a full quotation in order to evoke a source’s entire context.
On another note, it is interesting how may chiasms Wright both detects in Paul and employs throughout this book. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of his back-and-forth, chiastic treatment of Romans 9-11. Even if Paul returns to numerous themes at various parts of the argument, I haven’t found Wright’s unique presentation of that material to be in anyway more effective than a generally linear, passage-by-passage commentary through the text. But maybe that’s due to my typically western way of thinking.
Thursday, 12 December 2013
I’m always looking for interesting videos for lectures. This definitely makes the list.
Passover Rhapsody – A Jewish Rock Opera
If you’ve got other must-show videos, give me the link.
Friday, 8 November 2013
An interesting excerpt I thought I’d share from the final chapter of Brian Rosner’s recent Paul and the Law: Keeping the Commandments of God (InterVarsity Press, 2013), p. 208:
[T]he biggest task for students of Paul is to clarify the sense in which, and the extent to which, the apostle repudiates, replaces and reappropriates the Law of Moses.
With respect to the law, Paul is like the restaurant proprietor who fires a waitress, replaces her, and then hires her as the maitre d’ and as the sommelier. Her function of serving tables would end and someone else would perform that role. But she would then carry out two different functions in the restaurant, as hostess and as manager of the wine service. To get the full picture of the status of this particular woman one needs to take all three moves into account, namely her termination, substitution and rehiring.
The solution to the puzzle of Paul and the law is hermeneutical. Rather than asking which bits of the law Paul retains and which he rejects, a hermeneutical approach starts by acknowledging the unity of the law and asks instead, when Paul speaks positively or negatively about the law, in which capacity the law is functioning… Christ has abolished the law as law-covenant (Eph. 2:15), but faith in Christ upholds rather than abolishes the law as prophecy (Rom. 3:31); and Paul does not appeal to the commandment to obey’s one’s parents as law (Eph. 6:1-2), but as advice concerning how to walk in wisdom (cf. Eph. 5:15).
A very interesting analogy. Reactions?
Wednesday, 4 September 2013
The very latest issue of New Testament Studies is now available. It features the work of several Durham alumni (including me, Jonathan Linebaugh, Helen Bond, and Daniel Frayer-Griggs) and looks to be quite well rounded, with contributions focusing on NT history, exegesis, historical theology, onomastics, gnostic gospels, and textual criticism. My piece (“Sold under Sin: Echoes of Exile in Romans 7.14-25″) takes the baton from Marc Philonenko and others in arguing that Paul was influenced by his reading of Isaiah 49-50 in the latter part of Romans 7. Here is the abstract:
Although Romans has been heavily mined for scriptural allusions in recent years, the influence of Isaiah 49-50 on Rom 7.14-25 has gone largely unnoticed. Building on Philonenko’s work on the allusion to Isa 50.1 in the phrase ‘sold under sin’ (Rom 7.14), this study seeks to identify additional echoes from LXX Isa 49.24-50.2 in Rom 7.14-25 and to interpret Paul’s discourse in the light of the sin-exile-restoration paradigm implied by both the source’s original context and Paul’s own strategic use of Isaiah in his portrayal of the plight of ἐγώ. The identification of these echoes, it is suggested, aids in interpreting the story of ἐγώ by connecting the allusions to Israel’s early history in Rom 7.7-13 to images of the nation’s later history in 7.14-25, thus showing the speaker’s plight under sin to be analogous to Israel’s own experiences of deception, death, and exile.
Wednesday, 28 August 2013
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Today is the 5oth anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. It is hard for me to think that such egregious, institutional racism existed here in the US so recently. King’s speech was truly a prophetic call to national righteousness, and it’s for this reason that I show it every semester when we talk about the OT Prophets, particularly Amos 5 which he cites.
As I consider Dr King’s call to equality, it makes me question how far we have really come. While there remains great disparities between ethnicities (e.g., home ownership, income distribution and prison populations), we have made some great social advances, as evidenced by the election of Barak Obama. Of course, many communities remain segregated, but I’m fortunate to live in the most ethnically diverse county in the US. Although the Southern Baptist Convention sided with injustice in the past and many congregations remain just as segregated as 5o years ago, it raises the question of how far religiously we have come. I’ve argued earlier that MLK, Jr Day should be considered a Christian holiday, and so his NT-based ideals should be instantiated in our churches and institutions.
I’m proud to note that HBU is one of the most ethnically diverse campuses in the US because we reflect the full diversity around us. According to my assessment of the US News statistics, we are the 3rd most diverse university/college in the US. Our diversity index is .76, and that number is higher than all the National Universities, all the National Liberal Arts Colleges, all the Regional Colleges and all but two of the Regional Universities (the category in which HBU is situated). Of course, this doesn’t mean that we have reached the place that King talked about, but I’m happy to know that Christian institutions, even Baptist ones, can help be at the forefront of racial reconciliation. May we continue to strive towards the dream of a multi-ethnic community as the NT and MLK call us to.
Friday, 26 July 2013
I’m not sure how long it has been out, but the SBL online program book is now available to search, if you’re interested in finding out who’s presenting on what and when. Let me know if you spot any “can’t miss” sessions!
Sunday, 21 July 2013
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I’ve been doing a lot of reading in Philippians lately and am quite interested in seeing how various scholars summarize the letter’s main purpose. I am particularly sympathetic to the views of those who explicitly factor in Paul’s repeated reference to φρόνησις (cf. φρονέω, 10x) and other kinds of cognition language.
For example, Wayne Meeks famously remarks, “[T]his letter’s most comprehensive purpose is the shaping of a Christian phrōnesis, a practical moral reasoning that is ‘conformed to [Christ’s] death’ in hope of his resurrection.”
I really like Stephen Fowl’s summary: “Paul is trying to form in the Philippians the intellectual and moral abilities to be able to deploy their knowledge of the gospel in the concrete situations in which they find themselves, so that they will be able to live faithfully.”
Here is my own summary, which is probably quite close to Fowl: “Paul seeks to show the church how to perceive, assess, and respond to its circumstances ‘in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ’ (1.27)—namely, in a way that rightly grasps and appropriates the gospel’s eschatological trajectory, missional priority, and cruciform morality.”
 Wayne A. Meeks, “The Man from Heaven in Paul’s Letter to the Philippians,” in The Future of Early Christianity: Essays in Honor of Helmut Koester (Birger Pearson; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991), 329-36, at 333.
 Stephen E. Fowl, “Christology and Ethics in Philippians 2:5-11,” in Where Christology Began: Essays on Philippians 2 (R. P. Martin and B. J. Dodd; Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1998), 140-53, at 145. See also Lee S. Bond, “Renewing the Mind: Paul’s Theological and Ethical Use of Phronēma and Cognates in Romans and Philippians” (Ph.D.,
Univ. of Aberdeen, 2005).
Wednesday, 17 July 2013
For the last month, I’ve been at Tyndale House in Cambridge on research leave. Here are some of the things I’ve liked about Tyndale:
You have a wealth of books and journal articles right at hand. There are, of course, bigger collections elsewhere and there are some things that Tyndale doesn’t have. But one of the advantages is that nothing leaves the library. So even if someone else has gotten a book from the shelve, you can go get it from them.
There is a seriousness about the place. From the first moment that you step into the library, you are very aware that everyone is there for one reason: to research. It’s not like most university libraries where there is constant noise and laughter. Here it is quite and everyone is busy.
For those of us in small departments, Tyndale provides an opportunity to discuss research and get that informal feedback that is so crucial to thinking and writing. The two scheduled tea times are a welcome break as everyone stops for 15 minutes or more and steps away from the books. There are so many people working here that you can find someone who has given some thought to just about anything.
If you have a chance to spend some time at Tyndale, I would highly recommend it. My plans already include another month here next summer.
Friday, 28 June 2013
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Many of you will be as excited as me to see that the latest (July) volume of New Testament Studies is now available. There are nine very interesting articles to view, including several touching on related topics–two on the Lord’s Supper, two on Luke’s use and rhetoric of death, two on Clement’s view of good works, two on patronage/benefaction. Congratulations go especially to my good friend and new colleague Ben Wilson for his short study, “Taking up and Raising, Fixing and Loosing: A Chiastic Wordplay in Acts 2.23b-24.”