Interviews


One of the exciting developments in recent scholarship is the series Baylor-Mohr Siebeck Studies in Early Christianity (BMSEC) edited by Wayne Coppins and Simon Gathercole. The initial volumes have already received much attention. Wayne has been involved in a range of translation work, and the idea to include some translations of Martin Hengel’s work in Earliest Christian History came from him. I’ve asked Wayne, Associate Professor of Religion at the University of Georgia, some questions about the series and translating German.

1. Before this series you produced several translations of German material. What led to your interest in German scholarship and particularly providing English translations?

After completing my B.A. in Greek and Latin at the University of Georgia in 1998, my friend Jay Weldon invited me to join him in Germany where he was taking part in a UGA exchange program at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. Since I was already considering graduate studies in religion, this seemed like a great way to learn German and so I took him up on his offer and moved to Germany in January 1999. I initially planned on staying a year at the most, but at some point I discovered it was basically free to study in Germany (cf. Andy Bowden), which contributed to my decision to enroll at the University of Tübingen, while living at the Albrecht Bengel Haus. At this time, I first discovered something of the riches of German scholarship, especially through my classes with Friedrich Avemarie, Peter Stuhlmacher, Otfried Hofius, Bernd Janowski, Dorothea Wendebourg, and Eberhard Jüngel, but also through my friends and teachers at the Bengel Haus. And my appreciation for the German tradition continued to grow in the course of my M.A. an PhD studies in Durham and Cambridge. During my time in Tübingen, Friedrich Avemarie also gave me my first academic job working as a Wissenschaftliche Hilfskraft for the Tübingen-Durham Resurrection volume, and Peter Stuhlmacher asked me to translate one of his lectures for an upcoming trip to the States. These experiences gave me my first taste of editorial and translation work, and I found that I enjoyed it. This conviction likewise continued to deepen during and after my MA and PhD, when I had the opportunity to translate four essays by or about Martin Hengel. Against this background, I think my interest in translation has three main sources, namely a) my transforming experience with German scholars(hip) in Tübingen, b) the translation opportunities that I received in Tübingen and Cambridge, which helped me to discover how much I enjoyed this work, and c) my growing conviction that translation represented an excellent way for me to contribute to the advancement of my field.

2. What led to your involvement with the BMSEC Series

The short answer is that I wanted to create a framework in which my translation work could be part of a larger vision for facilitating increased dialogue between German-language and English-language scholarship. For a longer answer, see my interview with Michael Hölscher.

3. What do you hope this series will accomplish for scholarship?

Since I spend much of my existence translating and editing volumes for the series, it will come as no surprise that I have great hopes for it! Let me outline these in three points.

(a) First, I hope that each volume in the series will make important contributions to concrete areas of scholarship within the field. For example, I hope Jens Schröter’s book From Jesus to the New Testament will be taken up in discussions of historiography, historical Jesus, Pauline studies, Luke-Acts, the canon, and theology of the New Testament!

(b) Second, beyond their individual contributions, I hope that each volume will serve as a window into the wider world of German scholarship and thereby enable English-speaking scholars to become more conversant with emphases and developments that characterize cutting-edge German scholarship.

(c) Third, I hope—or at least dream—that the series will contribute to a resurgence of interest in German scholarship on early Christianity and that this will, in turn, motivate a new generation of scholars to commit themselves to learning German, so that they can interact even more fully with the German tradition in their research and teaching.

4. How do you choose which books to translate? The volumes so far have been recent books. Will the series also pick up some older material?

The short answer to your first question is that we—i.e. Simon Gathercole and I in conversation with Carey Newman and Henning Ziebritzki—look for works that are of incredibly high quality and written by respected authors, without requiring that they fit a certain genre. For example, the first five volumes will include two collections of essays (Schröter and Frey), three monographs (Konradt, Markschies, and Hengel/Schwemer), and one commentary (Wolter). For a longer answer, see my interview with Clifford Kvidahl (Part I and Part II).

It is not impossible that the series will include some older material, but I doubt it. The reason for this is because I think much interaction with German scholarship is too backward looking. When people think of German New Testament scholarship they often think only of the formative period of the discipline or of the contributions of Bultmann and his students. This is not, of course, all wrong, since it is absolutely essential that scholarship continue to grapple with the contributions and issues raised by such key figures and movements (cf. e.g. here and here ). At the same time, part of my vision for the series is to communicate with all due clarity that contemporary German scholarship on early Christianity is alive and well, so that the future of German scholarship also lies in the present and not merely or even primarily in the past. And for what it is worth, I also think that engaging contemporary German scholarship is often an especially fruitful way to discover the strengths and shortcomings of past German giants, or at least this has been the case with my interaction with Schröter and Markschies in relation to Bultmann and Harnack.

5. Will you tell us a little about what will be out at SBL in November 2014 and in the future in the series?

The volumes that have been planned out so far are as follows:

Vol. 1 (2013): Jens Schröter, From Jesus to the New Testament (cf. my blog posts on this volume).

Vol. 2 (2014): I am very excited about this year’s BMSEC volume, namely Matthias Konradt‘s book Israel, Kirche und die Völker im Matthäusevangelium Israel, Church, and the Gentiles in the Gospel of Matthew, not least because of the ringing endorsements that the German and English versions have received from Ulrich Luz (‘die wichtigste Arbeit über das Matthäusevangelium der letzten zehn Jahren’Evangelium Ecclesiasticum, p. 285) and Dale Allison (‘Israel, Church, and the Gentiles in the Gospel of Matthew is full of original observations and fresh arguments. Konradt has built a new foundation for all future work on the crucial topic of Israel and the Church in Matthew’s Gospel’, Endorsement for the English Edition). And in addition to the high quality of the argument, I think that Kathleen Ess has done an absolutely wonderful job with the translation (cf. my blog posts on this volume).

And I am, of course, equally excited about my and S. Brian Pounds‘ translation of Jens Schröter’s book Jesus von Nazaret: Jude aus Galiläa - Retter der Welt  Jesus of Nazareth – Jew from Galilee, Savior of the World, which will also be at this year’s SBL, though not as part of the BMSEC series (cf. my blog posts on this volume).

Vol. 3 (2015): The next volume, which I have recently submitted to Baylor, is Christoph Markschies‘s book Kaiserzeitliche christliche Theologie und ihre Institutionen: Prolegomena zu einer Geschichte der antiken christlichen Theologie / Christian Theology and its Institutions in the Early Roman Empire (cf. my blog posts on this volume).

I think that this impressive volume will prove to be a major contribution to the study of early Christianity in the second and third centuries and especially to key issues such as (1) the value of an institution-oriented approach to studying early Christianity, (2) the need to attend to diverse institutional contexts, such as free teachers and Christian schools, the Montanist prophets and their circle, and the Christian worship service and its prayers, (3) the relationships between the New Testament canon and Christian institutions, and (4) the advantages of the complementary model of the identity and plurality of ancient Christianity as an alternative to competing models such as Walter Bauer’s Cultural Protestant model of ‘orthodoxy’ and ‘heresy’ and the Jesuit model of the ‘inculturation’ of Christianity.

The next volumes planned for the series are:

Vol. 4 (2016): Wolter, MichaelDas Lukasevangelium The Gospel According to Luke. Translated by Wayne Coppins and Christoph Heilig. Baylor-Mohr Siebeck Studies in Early Christianity 4. Waco, Tex.: Baylor University Press (cf. my blog posts on this volume).

Vol. 5 (2017): Frey, JörgDie Herrlichkeit des Gekreuzigten. Studien zu den Johanneischen Schriften I The Glory of the Crucified One: Studies on the Johannine Writings I. Translated by Wayne Coppins. Baylor-Mohr Siebeck Studies in Early Christianity 5. Waco, Tex.: Baylor University Press (cf. my blog posts on this volume).

Vol. 6 (2018): Hengel, Martin, and Anna Maria SchwemerJesus und das Judentum Jesus and Judaism. Translated by S. Brian Pounds and Wayne Coppins. Baylor-Mohr Siebeck Studies in Early Christianity 6. Waco, Tex: Baylor University Press (cf. my blog posts on this volume).

6. For those thinking about PhD studies or at the early stages, what advice do you have for them about how to acquire a better understanding of German? Is there a particular author or two that you think is good to ‘cut one’s teeth on’?

Hard to say. If at all possible, spend some time in Germany (or Switzerland etc.). But even if you can’t make it to a German speaking country, I suggest combining a “German-for-reading” approach with at least some “spoken German”. I’ve never used it, but David Lincicum has suggested that slowgerman.com is a helpful resource for the latter. For the former, I have heard that April Wilson’s German Quickly is a good place to start. After that you might want to move on to a German reader or work through my model sentences. But it could be just as effective to begin working through German texts that are directly related to your research interests. But if you take the latter approach, don’t start with the German text alone. Instead find a work that has been translated on your topic and work through the original German with reference to the English. In terms of tools, I have provided links to some of the better dictionaries on my resource tab, which also includes links to other sites for learning German. Finally, the serious student might consider participating in one of Thorsten Moritz’s courses.

Good question. Chris Tilling has suggested that Udo Schnelle is a good author to start with due to his clear writing style, and this could be done with reference to Eugene Boring’s fine translations, e.g., Paulus/Paul or Theologie/Theology. Martin Hengel’s German is also fairly straightforward, though it is problematic that the English and German versions often differ greatly in length. But some of his essays might work well, for example the essays that I translated in Earliest Christian History. Jens Schröter’s German is more complex in Von Jesus zum Neuen Testament, but he has clearly attempted to write in a very accessible manner in Jesus von Nazaret, so I think it could work well to use this volume in conjunction with the English translation, Jesus of Nazareth (cf. here). Finally, Peter Stuhlmacher could also be a good option, e.g., Der Brief an die Römer/Romans or Biblische Theologie des Neuen Testaments/Biblical Theology of the New Testament [Forthcoming; trans. Daniel Bailey].

7. Aside from your translation work for this series, what else are you working on?

Much of my recent research has carried forward past projects. Building on my previous publications on freedom, I wrote encyclopedia articles on freedom for the Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception and the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Ethics. More recently, building on my RBL review of Ernst Käsemann’s posthumously published essays, I submitted an article titled ‘Revolution and Violence in Ernst Käsemann’s Radically Lutheran Theology of Liberation’, which may or may not be accepted and published. My most recent teaching and research interests are squarely focused on the Synoptic Gospels, esp. Mark, but to date my only publication in this area is my 2012 Tyndale Bulletin article ‘Sitting on Two Asses? Second Thoughts on the Two-Animal Interpretation of Matthew 21:7’. If another book-length project emerges for me in the future, then I suspect it will be related to the Gospel of Mark.

Many thanks to Wayne for answering these questions. Be sure to check out his immensely helpful blog German for Neutestamentler where he regularly works through a section from a German author explaining the grammar and reflecting on the historical and/or theological claims.

In his book Jesus the Word according to John the Sectarian: A Paleofundmaentalist Manifesto for Contemporary Evangelism, Robert Gundry asks,

Does the Bible present theological data to be organized neatly, or a range of canonical options to be kept discrete? To what extent should the theological enterprise be systematic? To what extent selective? Ought systematic theology to dominate biblical theology or vice versa? Or ought they form a partnership of equals, or go their separate ways? (p.95)

Gundry’s questions are by no means new, and in recent scholarship there has been a renewed interest in the relationship between systematic theology and biblical studies. In this line the recent volume, Reconsidering the Relationship between Biblical and Systematic Theology in the New Testament, edited by Benjamin E. Reynolds, Brian Lugioyo and Kevin J. Vanhoozer, takes up Gundry’s specific questions in an attempt to show how the two disciplines relate.Reconsidering the Relationship between Biblical and Systematic Theology in the N

I’ve asked Ben to describe for us some of the issues in this book.

1) The contributors to the volume are New Testament scholars and Systematic Theologians. Can you describe for us some of the different approaches or assumptions that emerge from the juxtaposition of these groups and essays?

The volume’s essays address a number of topics and do begin with a number of assumptions. The first five essays come from a New Testament studies perspective and the latter five come from a theological perspective. As you might expect, the NT scholars more often begin with the biblical text and move toward a discussion of theological implications. The theologians address theological issues with often less connection to the biblical text. Those realities only seem to fit the stereotypes that each discipline has of the other.

In Kevin Vanhoozer’s introductory essay he challenges biblical scholars not to view their work as handing off a baton to theologians. He argues that the work that biblical and systematic theology do is similar in that they both address “theodramatic” judgments. Biblical theology is more sensitive to single authors and texts while systematic theology considers God’s role in the broader scheme of things. Vanhoozer’s challenge is important because the essays point out the difficulty of each discipline continuing in its own ruts. The assumptions of the authors indicate the extent to which we continue to work in these disciplines in discontinuity from the other.

Webb Mealy’s essay on Revelation is a case study in how one’s theological presuppositions tend to influence the way exegetical arguments are made and conclusions are reached. Roger Newell argues something similar with regard to how suffering, or the desire not to suffer, has led to certain interpretations of eschatology. He refers to it as “sentimental exegesis.”

One of my favourite essays is Jennifer Powell McNutt’s examination of the use of James during the Reformation. She unearths some really interesting information about how James 5:16 was used quite extensively and about Luther’s use of James, even though he called the epistle a book of straw.

2) How does this volume as a whole answer Gundry’s questions about the relationship between the two disciplines?

Surprise, surprise, the volume does not completely answer Gundry’s questions. I would say that most of our contributors think that biblical and systematic theology form a partnership of equals, but it is telling that two to three of the NT essays lean toward the baton view of biblical studies that Vanhoozer warns against (two of them explicitly so). What the volume does provide are ten essays that are aware of the tension between biblical and systematic theology and attempt to bridge the divide. They highlight the challenges we face after a long separation of the disciplines.

3) One of the difficulties I think many face when trying to cross discipline boundary lines is the amount of literature to read. How have you overcome this?

Working across discipline boundaries does require a lot reading. My essay on “Eucharistic” language in John 6 was one of the most difficult essays I have ever written. There is so much secondary literature on John 6 before you even consider history of reception and Eucharistic theology. I wouldn’t say that I “overcame” the challenge. For example, a thorough paragraph on Thomas Cranmer’s view of John 6 would require days of reading. I read some, but I never would have finished the essay if I tried to become an expert on Cranmer or Calvin or John and Charles Wesley before I said anything about them. However, I learned quite a lot about John 6, especially its reception, its use in various debates, and about how theological presuppositions influence perspectives on biblical texts.

4) The volume is written in honour of Robert Gundry. How has he influenced your scholarship and your teaching?

I took New Testament survey and first year Greek with Bob. He was extremely influential in the beginning stages of my interest in the academic study of the Bible, and he has continued to be as we have kept in touch over the years. I have always been impressed with Bob’s care for the biblical text and his willingness to stick with views his exegesis leads him to, even if they are not popular. Most evangelical NT scholars always connect him with the infamous ETS vote of over thirty years ago, but his position on certain aspects of Matthew are based on a close, redaction-critical reading of Matthew’s source material. I’m not sure anyone has actually refuted his readings of these sections. Bob’s concern for the church is apparent in a number of his writings, including The Church and the Tribulation and in some of his recent Books and Culture When you read through his body of literature, it is easy to see that he has remained consistent in his exegetical rigour and in his beliefs. That consistency, love of the text, and academic rigour have definitely been influential to me in my teaching and scholarship.

5) If someone was looking for a PhD thesis addressing the relationship between biblical and systematic theology, what would you suggest?

I would say that there are plenty of opportunities. Obviously, there are only certain programs that will look kindly to such a PhD thesis that attempts to reconcile biblical and systematic theology. But considering the amount of literature that will need to be read and assessed, someone pursuing a project like this will need to have a narrowly focused passage or doctrinal issue that can provide an example for the interplay of biblical and systematic theology.

6) Now that you have finished this project, what can we be looking forward to next?

I am currently co-editing a book on Jewish apocalyptic thought and the New Testament that is scheduled to be released with Fortress Press next year, and my own work continues to include the Gospel of John and Jewish apocalyptic literature. A book length project is in the works on that subject.

I would like to thank Ben for answering these questions and be sure to check out his blog at Divinity United. The book is available now or you can get it from Mohr Siebeck at SBL.

See here for part 1, part 2, and part 3 of the interview.

9) How do you see your work on non-violence fitting into your discussions of co-crucifixion and theosis?

I have a whole chapter on this in Inhabiting, but basically because I see the cross both as the definitive theophany and as the display of God’s nonviolent way of reconciling enemies, participation in the life of this God must take on God’s nonviolent character. I think that is Paul’s perspective, and for him it is part and parcel of justification by faith/co-crucifixion.

10) How do you think Paul`s understanding of participation in Christ relates to the Platonic and Aristotelian understandings of participation?

I am not an expert on either Plato or Aristotle, but I suspect that Paul is not indebted to either tradition for his experience and understanding of participation. Paul’s participation in Christ is fundamentally narrative, kinetic, and missional by virtue of being a sharing in the story and reality of God’s self-giving love displayed especially in Christ’s incarnation and death. Thus participation is neither an end in itself nor static, both of which may be more appropriately attributed to certain philosophical traditions.

11) Could you comment on the timing of justification? It seems that you describe justification as a process in distinction to those who make it more an ‘already’ kind of thing, which could make some Protestants a little uncomfortable.

I am not sure I would describe justification as a process as much as it is a mode of existence that has an initial point and an eschatological culminating point. That’s somewhat similar to Tom Wright’s idea of justification having two moments. I would also stress the time between the two as part of justification. The justified live a life of justice, not as some supplement to justification understood as a finished reality, but as the embodiment of justification itself.

Here’s a relevant quote from chapter two:

What justification by co-crucifixion will imply, however, and not surprisingly, is that a theological rift between justification and sanctification is impossible, because the same Spirit effects both initial and ongoing co-crucifixion with Christ among believers, a lifelong experience of cruciformity or, in light of chapter one, theoformity—theosis.

If that makes Protestants uncomfortable, so be it!—and blame Paul, not me. He’s the one who won’t limit “”just-“ (dik-) language to some past event. In Christ we become the justice of God. That’s justification! That’s theosis!

Thanks again, Ben!

Thanks to you, Mike.

See here for part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4 of the interview.

See here part 1 and part 2 of the interview.

6) You also brought out theosis as an aspect of Pauline theology at that conference. What sparked your interest in theosis?

My interest in theosis, as mentioned above, was sparked when I came to the realization that cruciformity was really participatory theoformity. I knew the tradition well enough to recognize that I was beginning to move in an Easterly direction, but I was pleasantly surprised to find both that some parts of the Western tradition had stressed theosis and that it was now gaining momentum across traditions and disciplines. As I say in the introduction to my book, there is much more to be done in connection with Paul and theosis—especially by scholars like you!

7) What about theosis adds to protestant theology that we have been missing?

Protestant theology is profoundly Christocentric and frequently rather juridical in its understanding of our relationship to God. Theosis does not lose Christocentrism but links it explicitly to a profound participation in God and the Spirit of God—hardly a juridical relation. (I realize that some embrace participation but reject theosis. My guess is that this is ultimately a semantic rather than a substantive difference, though those who reject theosis disagree.) Theosis also holds together things that Protestants tend to split apart and label something like stages: justification, sanctification, glorification. In theosis, these are all of a piece. Paul’s distinctive contribution, I think, is to insure that theosis is always understood cruciformly. Theosis is conformity to Christ crucified even in its final phase of eschatological glorification.

8. Could you tell us a handful of books or articles that that have been important for shaping your understanding of theosis?

Believe it or not, the conclusion of Bonhoeffer’s (Cost of) Discipleship might be at the top. Bonhoeffer convinced me that my putting theosis and the cross together was not a mistake—or an original idea. Stephen Finlan’s articles have been helpful in opening up the NT connections. The collections of essays on theosis that have appeared in the last few years have also been helpful (e.g. Christensen and Wittung, which has a lot of good essays, including a provocative one on Paul by Finlan). Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen gives a broad perspective in One with God: Salvation as Deification and Justification. An “older” (1990s) essay by Ann Jervis on Paul (“Becoming like God through Christ: Romans”) has not gotten sufficient attention, nor has the still older work of Morna Hooker—she wrote extensively about theosis in Paul without ever calling it that. And it would be inexcusable of me not to mention Richard Hays and his work on narrative and participation, who is himself favorably disposed toward theosis and reading Paul through the Eastern fathers, and you. Though your and my approaches differ, I think our work is complimentary, and it was very encouraging to me to learn of your dissertation topic when I was first working on theosis.

See here for part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4 of the interview.

See here for part 1 of the interview.

4) You got a bit of pushback at SBL in DC (2006) about co-crucifixion as being synergistic. What do you say to that response? Did you adjust your arguments based on that interchange?

The phrase that pushed people’s buttons was and is “justification by co-crucifixion.” My response, as I recall, was twofold. First, I argued that typical notions of faith, especially in Protestant circles, are impoverished vis-a-vis Paul’s; they are simply not “thick” enough, robust enough, demanding enough. I cited Bonhoeffer as the counterpoint to this impoverished understanding of faith in Paul. (I have many pages devoted to this in Cruciformity, by the way.) Second, I reminded the critics that I have repeatedly made the point that co-crucifixion, cruciformity, theosis, etc. is the work of the Spirit, a work of grace. To be sure, humans (or at least believers) must respond and even, yes, cooperate with the Spirit, but my theme verse on this subject is “Work out, or actualize, your communal salvation because it is God who is at work in your community.”

I have actually taken great pains to make it clear that grace and the Spirit—as expressed in those passive verbs—are the source of our co-crucifixion and transformation. After the pushback, I certainly checked my language and sharpened it a bit, but my basic position remained, and remains, unchanged.

5) Based on Richard Hays’ blurb of your book (Gorman deftly integrates the results of recent debates about Pauline theology into a powerful constructive account that overcomes unfruitful dichotomies and transcends recent controversies between the ‘New Perspective on Paul’ and its traditionalist critics.), how do you see your work transcending the Old/New perspective debates?

I think it transcends the dichotomy in several ways. First, I want to maintain both the “vertical” and the “horizontal” (social) dimensions and demands of justification, whereas the Old and New perspectives often (even despite cries to the contrary from the New folks) stress one or the other. I think they are not only both present, but inseparably so. Second, and this is related to the first point, I see participation as central to Paul, not as an alternative to justification, but as the very essence of justification. I think that both the Old and the New perspectives have generally missed this connection and actually have common (mis-)understandings of justification as a verdict, as a judicial metaphor. They simply disagree on what the verdict is. Third, I think that justification as participation means that both human effort/pride (Old) and cultural elitism, to use Matera’s phrase (New), are ruled out as the basis for justification—anything but the cross as the objective and subjective basis of justification. Finally (at least for now), I think that the Old and the New perspectives both treat the cross as a formal, but not a material, ground for justification. In my read of Paul, the cross embodies the covenant faithfulness and love of God and of Christ, which means that what it is, is intimately connected to what it effects (justification, salvation).

See here for part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4 of the interview.

Gorman, Inhabiting the Cruciform God

As promised, I am posting an interview with Mike Gorman about his provocative new book on Pauline soteriology called Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Kenosis, Justification, and Theosis in Paul’s Narrative Soteriology (Eerdmans, 2009). In it he challenges traditional readings of Paul by exploring, among other things, co-crucifixion, theosis, and non-violence. For a three part summary over at his blog, see here: part 1, part 2, part 3.  He also has a helpful exchange about an aspect of the book here as well.  He’s graciously responded to a variety of questions, and I think we’re in for treat. I’ve broken the interview into four posts to make it a bit more manageable.

1) Could you tell us a little bit about yourself—place of employment, denominational background, etc.?

First, Ben, thanks very much for the opportunity to talk with you and your readers about Inhabiting the Cruciform God. I greatly appreciate it.

About me: I am a native of central Maryland in the States and very blessed to be teaching in the area where I grew up. After my M.Div. and Ph.D. from Princeton Seminary and a few short-term positions there and elsewhere, in 1991 I came to St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore. It is the oldest Catholic Seminary in the U.S. and the only one in the world with a graduate ecumenical division, of which I have been Dean since 1995. I am a Methodist with earlier connections to several other traditions. My conversion to Christ took place in the context of a Methodist church, so I feel at home there, but I am theologically Anabaptist. As my readers will know, I am greatly indebted to the Barth-Yoder-Hauerwas-Hays trajectory, and ecumenical relations and church unity are very important to me.

2) After your work on Cruciformity, what led you to do this book?

Cruciformity grew organically out of the central insights of my dissertation, which compared the role of the self in the theology and ethics of Paul and the Stoic Epictetus. But Cruciformity was not just a revision of the dissertation; rather, it built on one of the dissertation’s central insights about Christ and about us in Christ. Similarly, early in Cruciformity I made the case that the cross does not just tell us about Christ and, by extension, us, but also reveals God. To be Christlike is to be Godlike; cruciformity is really theoformity. (“Theoformity” was in fact the new book’s working title for a while.) But I did not develop that point in Cruciformity. The more I poked around, the more I realized that very few people (present company being part of the exception!) had made this connection or considered that “theosis” might be an appropriate way to characterize what Paul was up to. I put out the basic ideas in some SBL papers and other essays, all deliberately interrelated, as well as in Reading Paul, though less academically there. The book took final shape when I realized that my contribution to the justification debate was unique (and controversial!) and was the center of my arguments about theosis.

3) A central aspect of this book is co-crucifixion. Could you briefly explain it?

Co-crucifixion is of course simply the noun form in English of the Greek verb systauroō. I take it as both the initial act/experience and the ongoing act/experience/practice of complete identification with Christ crucified, by the Spirit (hence the passive voice of the verb), that first effects, and then embodies, a death of the old self and the birth or resurrection of a new self. For Paul, this is what he means by “justifying faith,” as a close reading of Gal 2 and Rom 6 reveals. It is inherently both participatory and transformative. Why?

In chapter two, I also refer to co-crucifixion as “participation in Christ’s act of covenant fulfillment,” by which I mean his act of self-giving, life-giving faithfulness and love. Once we see that Christ’s death is constituted by these two things, much of what is distinctive in my reading of Paul falls quite naturally into place, especially: the inseparability of the “vertical” and the “horizontal,” or justification and justice.

See here for part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4 of the interview.

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