My good friend David Capes lost his son Daniel Capes recently to cancer. This endowed scholarship is a wonderful way to help his life continue to impact others. I commend you to participate.

A Word in Edgewise

Since our son, Daniel, died ten weeks ago, Cathy and I have established  The Daniel Ryan Capes Endowed Scholarship in Writing at his alma mater, Houston Baptist University.  It will be available to worthy junior or senior writing majors beginning fall semester 2020.  To fund the scholarship we will need to raise a minimum of $75,000 over the next three years.

Daniel and Toby 2 Daniel and his son, Toby (Summer 2018)

Daniel graduated from HBU in 2006 with a degree in writing.  His first job was as a technical writer on NASA’s Constellation project.  But his real passion was to become a story-writer for video games. His dream came true when he was able to use his writing skills to work with TimeGate, SixFoot, and Cryptic Studios creating story lines for various games.  Daniel loved a good story and a good movie; he knew the power of stories to instruct us, entertain us, and express our deepest…

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I (Ben) got interviewed a few weeks ago by David Stark for a blog series he’s doing on how to write when you’ve got multiple projects and commitments. Though a few weeks old, I’m just now posting about it myself because of a paperwork bomb that blew up here at HBU and sucked up an inordinate amount of my time. Perhaps you might find something helpful…

https://www.jdavidstark.com/pro-tips-for-busy-writers-ben-blackwell/

Perhaps you might know this but Forrest Gump is a modern take on Voltaire’s Candide, which was a critique of Leibniz’s monergistic perspective. While the movie Forrest Gump does not directly address monergism and synergism, the key theme is a debate between destiny and chance.

I had a student pull together key clips to pull this out several years ago. YouTube must be recommending it because it’s gotten a lot of recent comments, so I figured I’d pass along the clip as well:

If you are interested in further ideas about monergism and synergism in the Christian tradition, check out my forthcoming book where we compare and contrast how this works in regard to various perspectives on sin and salvation: Engaging Theology: A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Introduction.

Christosis CoverGot word that the Paul within Antiquity group at the upcoming Catholic Biblical Association will be discussing my book Christosis. I have learned to have much more tempered expectations about any doctoral thesis/dissertation having wider attention and longevity, so I can’t complain that it is getting wider attention. I am biased but I do think it’s the best book on Paul and theosis out there.

Michael Barber and Brant Pitre are heading up the Paul within Antiquity group at CBA. They along with John Kincaid have a really nice book on Paul that will hit the bookshelves any day now: Paul, a New Covenant Jew: Rethinking Pauline Theology. It has so many virtues, but let me highlight one in particular. I think it has one of the clearest explanations of the major approaches to Paul that I’ve read. That clarity and substance is then applied to their own reading of Paul.

Today is Irenaeus of Lyon’s feast day in the western calendar–June 28–so I thought it would be nice to highlight a few of my (Ben’s) essays and articles on Irenaeus’ theology, particularly through the lens of the reception of Paul’s letters, that I have written over the last decade or so.

“Paul and Irenaeus” in Paul and the Second Century: The Legacy of Paul’s Life, Letters, and Teaching, ed. Michael F. Bird and Joseph R. Dodson (London: T&T Clark, 2011), 190-206. This is an overview article about the general reception of Paul in Irenaeus’ works where I explore key historical issues and key themes.

“Deification in Irenaeus” in Christosis: Engaging Paul’s Soteriology with His Patristic Interpreters (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016). This is a chapter-length treatment of Irenaeus’ soteriology in general and theology of deification in particular. In detailing his theology, I also show his strong dependence upon Paul for generating these deification themes (immortality, adoption, etc.).

“Two Early Perspectives on Participation in Paul: Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria” in ‘In Christ’ in Paul: Explorations in Paul’s Theological Vision of Union and Participation, eds. Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Constantine R. Campbell and Michael J. Thate (WUNT II/384; Mohr Siebeck, 2015), 331-55. By using a comparison of Irenaeus and Clement, I further clarified my taxonomy of participation in patristic theology. I then explored key passages and themes related to Irenaeus (and Clement) on the topic of participation and Paul.

“Partakers of Adoption: Irenaeus and His Use of Paul,” Letter and Spirit 11 (2016): 35–64. Sonship and adoption are key themes in Irenaeus’ theology, and I provide a critical analysis that traces out the nature of Adamic and Abrahamic sonship that shapes the direction of Ireneaus’ argument.

“The Covenant of Promise: Abraham in Irenaeus” in Irenaeus and Paul (Pauline and Patristic Scholars in Debate); eds., Todd D. Still and David E. Wilhite (Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2020). In the context of Irenaeus’ wider covenant theology, I specifically explore the nature of Abraham and the Abrahamic covenant in Irenaeus’ theology. Much attention has been given to Irenaeus’ use of Adam to ground his theology of creation to new creation, but he also uses Abraham to ground his theology of promise and fulfillment.

The IBR website just posted the program for its research groups for November 2019. For those of you interested in the IBR Pauline Theology Research Group, which I co-chair with Nijay Gupta, please plan to join us for this year’s session 3:30-5:30pm, Friday, November 22. We will be beginning an exciting new multi-year study on Romans 1-4. The summary is provided on the IBR website as well as below. I hope you can make it. In any case, please spread the word!

Paul’s letter to the Romans remains the entree of Pauline theological research, and for good reason. This letter is the clearest and most comprehensive treatment of Paul’s gospel and of the other major themes that surface within his surviving literary corpus. But while the importance of Romans is undisputed, the relative significance of each of the letter’s major units remains hotly contested. Much recent scholarship has focused on chapters  5–8 and  9–11, but what do we make of Romans 1–4? These initial chapters were for centuries believed to be the linchpin of the letter, though they have been given comparatively less attention and weight by contemporary Pauline theologians. Yet as fresh theological perspectives push the field in new directions, it is critical to give due attention to the foundational chapters of Romans. Accordingly, the IBR Pauline Theology research group will in 2019 begin a multi-year study on crucial issues in Romans 1–4, with invited papers from some of the field’s most respected voices. For more information, contact Nijay Gupta (ngupta@georgefox.edu) or John Goodrich (john.goodrich@moody.edu).

  • John Goodrich, Moody Bible Institute, Introduction (5 min)
  • Nijay Gupta, Portland Seminary, Introduction
  • Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Baylor University
    The Son of God ‘in Power: Power and Its Places in Paul’s Letter to the Romans (30 min)
  • Benjamin Schliesser, University of Bern
    The Theology of Paul in a Nutshell: A Fresh Look at the Phrase ‘From Faith to Faith’ (Rom 1:17) (30 min)
  • Matthew V. Novenson, University of Edinburgh
    Romans 1–2 between Theology and Historical Criticism (30 min)
  • Discussion (25 min)

 

 

A friend texted me a screen shot of a review of my Christosis book in a recent journal, and I realized that I hadn’t seen others come through like with it’s first printing. So, a quick journal search turned up several reviews in the last few months of the Eerdmans version:

  • Gorman in Interpretation
  • Jervis in Catholic Biblical Quarterly
  • Smith in Chriswell Theological Review
  • Kennard in Affirmation & Critique (this is long)
  • Bucey in Westminster Theological Journal
  • Stephan in Theological Studies
  • in addition to several for the Mohr Siebeck version.

I confess that with the first printing (with Mohr Siebeck) when a review came in, I would have to let it sit for a day before I steeled myself. I think I have a little thicker skin now, but there’s not much new feedback that will come out with a revised edition. There are definitely areas to sharpen, and the reviews all helpfully point to those. I still agree with myself, but if I had to do it over again, I’d shoot to be at least 10% shorter. My favorite thing about the new edition is the much improved taxonomy of ancient views of (ontological) deification.

Among all the reviews, this had to be my favorite quote in Gorman’s review:

In a recent straw poll of scholars, a prominent publisher asked about the three most significant books on Paul published in the last five years. After widespread agreement on tomes by John Barclay (Paul and the Gift [Eerdmans, 2015]) and N. T. Wright (Paul and the Faithfulness of God [Fortress, 2013]), the field was divided on the third position. Among those mentioned more than once was Blackwell’s Christosis. “Let those who have ears . . . .”

This work, of course, pales in comparison to my two mentors, but it’s surely the best book on theosis and Paul, written in Durham, by comparing patristic views, in the last five years. I at least win the prize for publishing the first monograph length treatment of Paul and deification!