The dean over our area has shifted to a couple of new roles here at HBU after doing an excellent job overseeing our School of Christian Thought, consisting of four departments: Theology, Philosophy, Classics and Biblical Languages, and Apologetics. I was tapped on the shoulder to help out, so for 2015-2016 I’ll serve as the interim dean. Of course the transition into this role started this month, as we (John, Jason, and I) were trying to finish up the editing for a volume we put together–Paul and the Apocalyptic Imagination. In particular, we had to write the introduction, and I had done less in other parts, so it was rightly my role to fill. It’s almost finished, but after several days of consistent meetings and issues to solve due to the new role, I was reminded of a quip that Richard Hays passed on to me a year or so back that someone told him when he took over the Dean’s role at Duke:

In the first year in administration you cease to write. In the second year you cease to read. In the third year you cease to think.

(My apologies for forgetting the source of the original quote.)

Though I’m only a week or so into the job, I can see how this is true!

Reading Romans in ContextSo our Reading Romans in Context: Paul and Second Temple Judaism was officially released yesterday. A friend tweeted that it was on high on an Amazon ranking, even beating out N.T. Wright for something. When I first went looking I searched under “Amazon Hot New Releases”. Then I drilled down through various sub-options: “books,” “Christian books,” and then “Bible Studies” to get here. We were sitting at #16 at the beginning of the evening, and already dropped to #19 by last night. Glory is fleeting.

Then I went and looked at the specific page for our book, my heart was elevated again. We were listed as #1 New Release in Paul’s Letters. That was cool and then I even noticed that we’re beating out an N.T. Wright book: Paul and His Recent Interpreters.

So, I learned my lesson. I can be number 1 if I just draw the circle small enough. As I always tell my wife, she is my favorite wife. : )

A few days ago Duke announced that Richard Hays will be stepping down from his role as dean of Duke Divinity School on August 1st in order to receive treatment for pancreatic cancer. This is very sad news indeed. Our prayers are with the Hays family at this difficult time.

Ben C. Blackwell:

Just listened to all three of these. Learned lots of new things, reinforced some old things, and enjoyed them all!

Originally posted on Crux Sola:

ATS

The Association of Theological Schools has produced recordings of several fantastic webinars to help new seminary faculty and young scholars.

Webinar #1: Susan Garrett (Louisville Seminary) – “What They Tell You and What They Don’t: Conversations with the Dean on Promotion and Tenure”

Webinar #2: Carey Newman (Baylor University Press) “Publishing 101: What to Expect, What to Do”

Webinar #3: Andrea White (Candler): “Establishing a Research Agenda”

I listened to the first two (Garrett and Newman). Even though I just finished my first year at George Fox Seminary, this is actually my sixth year of full-time teaching, so Garrett’s advice is accurate and informative, but not new to me. I found very insightful Newman’s window into the publishing world. His advice is particularly helpful on #1: Forging partnerships strategically with publishers and #2: getting your dissertation published as a “regular book.” Also a great Q & A Session at about…

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One of the great things about my experience of Durham was learning about all the excellent scholars that had shaped the university’s past. In fact, I knew of many of the names of the scholars there, but never associated them with Durham before I arrived. Of course, one the influential NT scholars there of the past generation was Charles Cranfield, whose passing we were just notified about. I had the pleasure of having coffee with him, and following in my friend Nijay’s steps, I’m posting the summary of my time with him here.

Coffee with Charles Cranfield (23 June 2008)

At CK Barrett’s 90th birthday last year, someone mentioned that they were sad that Charles (aka C.E.B.) Cranfield wasn’t able to make it.  He’s just a year or so older than Kingsley, but can’t make it around as well.  John Barclay mentioned that Professor Cranfield does like to have students over, so I finally got around to asking for his info to have coffee.  He was kind enough to invite me over, and we had a nice chat about my studies and his thoughts on theology, plus I asked a few questions offered up by readers here.  He is quite candid about his opinions both theological and political, especially on points of disagreement.

As to his background, he mentioned that he originally studied classics and later did theology at Cambridge.  (His language ability is hard to believe…from memory he quoted John Chrysostom in Greek and later Aquinas in Latin.)  He spent the summer of 1939 in Basel, Switzerland but had to leave because of the beginning of WW2.  He was later an army chaplain and worked with the German Confessing movement after the war as well as with the World Council of Churches.  He came to Durham in 1950.  He was raised Methodist but noted switching to the reformed church because, among other things, of their reading of Rom 7 as applying to a Christian, which is no surprise if you’ve read his commentary.

For being 92 (almost 93–so that puts his birthday in 1915, Mike) and failing eyesight, he’s quite sharp and still well read, for instance he mentioned going through Watson’s Hermeneutics of Faith and Jewett’s Romans commentary.  Speaking of Romans commentaries, he noted several recent ones but seemed to have a critique for each one in some way or other.  I think Käsemann’s came off the highest.  He commented in particular that he wasn’t a fan of the New Perspective, so he thought Dunn’s commentary was off target in those areas.  He didn’t go into it in any detail but it didn’t seem like he thought there was a need to find a way forward.  (Regarding his own commentary, he mentioned that he would have made some changes but unfortunately didn’t elaborate further.  Though, on the ‘too reformed’ aspect in the questions, he noted he’s a good Calvinist, but with the ‘necessary’ revision of election offered by Barth.)  He noted particularly the commentaries of John Chrysostom and Aquinas as excellent but often overlooked, and that Pelagius’ commentary is quite helpful at times.

I asked him what 5 books or so a theologian would need to read in order to not be ‘uneducated’.  He offered these: 1) Barth’s original commentary on Romans because of its historical importance,  2) Shakespeare and John Milton, and 3) Greek writers: Homer, Sophocles, Thucydides, Aeschylus, and Euripides, and 4) the commentaries of Calvin and Luther.

Douglas Moo Douglas CampbellIf you live in Chicago-land, you may be interested in the debate, “Paul on Justification: Is the Lutheran Approach to Pauline Justification ‘Justified'”?, between Douglas Campbell and Douglas Moo. The free event is being organized by the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding and will be held 7:00-8:30pm, Thursday, February 12th, at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School’s ATO Chapel. Here is the official add:

Martin Luther and other reformers viewed Pauline justification as primarily, if not exclusively, a forensic matter between us and God. We are justified before God, through faith in Jesus Christ, according to his finished work on the cross. If one believes the gospel message, then one is justified before God. Reconciliation (with God and with other humans) is a necessary implication of justification but is not part of justification as such. New perspectives on Paul have challenged this account of justification (both historically and exegetically). Rather than being merely a forensic matter focused on human salvation and its relationship to divine satisfaction, this approach suggests that Pauline justification is essentially about human liberation and the reconciliation of people one with another. On this view, Pauline justification means that Christians are justified when they participate in a realized eschatology within Christ, through the Spirit, working out their salvation within the empirical context of a life ministry of reconciliation with other humans beings. Supplementary questions of the debate include “What is justification according to Paul?” “How does it fit into the rest of Paul’s theological understanding?” and “Is a ministry of reconciliation essential to or consequential of Pauline justification?”

 

 

The Department of Theology at Houston Baptist University is pleased to host a conference on “The Church and Early Christianity” on April 16-18, 2015. Our keynote speakers are

John Barclay (Durham University)

Everett Ferguson (Abilene Christian University)

Ben Witherington (Asbury Theological Seminary)

You can find out more details at hbu.edu/theologyconference.

Call for Papers: We are inviting papers representing a variety of approaches from scholars and graduate students in this area of study.  We are particularly interested in the development of early Christian communities within their wider theological and cultural contexts in the first two centuries. This includes theological reflections about ecclesiology as well as social relationships with Second Temple Jewish practices and institutions, relationships within early Christian communities, and the relationship of early Christian communities with the wider Greco-Roman culture. Participants will have 25-30 minutes to present papers (inclusive of Q&A). Please submit a 200-300 word abstract to Dr. Ben C. Blackwell at bblackwell@hbu.edu by February 15, 2015.

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