April 2009

I preached last Sunday at a local methodist church here in the Durham circuit. It was deemed worthy, and I moved from being ‘On Note’ to ‘On Trial’ as as part of the lay preaching vetting process. For this sermon they require you to preach out of Mark because of the training module that goes with this stage of the process. Since we’re in the Easter season I picked Mark 16.1-8.

I was struck at how odd this passage is. Lost portion of manuscript or intentional ending? The thing I thought was most interesting was that the angel/young man told the women to do two things: 1) don’t be afraid and 2) go tell the others what he said. And 16.8 reads: ‘So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.’ So, Mark has them not doing either one. Interesting.

P.S. We moved last week, and are almost done unpacking all the boxes and re-organising everything. Thanks especially to Heather’s mom, who had a previously planned trip here and has spent most of it cleaning and organising.


I came across this website that lists various scholarships for UK institutions: http://www.educationuk.org/pls/hot_bc/bc_edufin.page_pls_user_scholarship .  Unfortunately, they don’t narrow it down beyond ‘humanities’, but you can see which departments are offering the financial aid, so it’s not that difficult to filter through them.

Also, there appears to be other generic info about UK education stuff for internationals on the site.

I recently heard word that my proposal to SBL New Orleans got accepted.  Here’s a summary of that paper and of my PhD thesis…

Becoming ‘Gods’?: 2 Cor 3:18 and Theosis

In recent years, the Eastern Orthodox doctrine of deification, or theosis, has become more popular as a soteriological category for Westerners. Most of the discussion has occurred on the theological level (e.g., with the Finnish Interpretation of Luther), but more attention is beginning to be placed on biblical texts.  Unsatisfactory attention has been given to 2 Corinthians 3.18 although it is central to the emerging debate.  Rather than producing another history of religion investigation of this passage, I explore to what extent we find here (some of) the essential ingredients of what later came to be regarded as theosis.  After first addressing preliminary methodological issues associated with this history of interpretation approach, I then address the passage itself.  Since 3.7-18 serves as an explication of 3.6b, the climax of the Spirit giving life comes in 3.18.  With exegetical problems in each phrase of 3.18, conclusions based on the verse alone are tentative at best, and thus the following context is quite important.  Lest Paul give the idea that all believers are simply transformed into Christ’s image of glory, he qualifies the nature of current existence in 4.7-18 by emphasising participation in Christ’s death as well as his new life, characterised by inward renewal and physical resurrection.  Accordingly, ‘this momentary, light trouble is producing an eternal weight of glory for us’ (4.17).  As a result, when Paul talks of the Spirit’s work of transforming believers into the image of Christ, in the current age this image is characterised by both his death and his life.  Accordingly, christosis may be a better description of this glorification process rather than theosis.  However, in this passage we see themes such as participation in divine glory and incorruption by means of the beatific vision which are central to patristic descriptions of theosis.

We had a hearing this morning to try to extend our eviction date. The solicitor for the mortgage company opposed any delay. The judge told us we were naive for believing our property management company when they said it was all being sorted out 4 months ago. Since we had another property with a move in date, he ended up giving us three more days. So, we’ll be out by Thursday (23rd) since the eviction is now 9:45am, April 24. While we would have preferred a week, this will give us the necessary time to clean the new place and move at a reasonable pace.

We leave tomorrow for Ireland. Got any recommendations for Dublin or Cork? We haven’t gotten around to planning lots of details yet.

The owner accepted out offer on the house to rent, so this afternoon we filled in all the formal application material and put down a deposit. [One tip: if you go with a 12 month lease instead of just 6 they’ll often knock a little off the list price–we’re saving £25/month.] As long as they find us kosher financially, we’re good to go on 21 April (the day of the eviction). We’ve packed enough of the house that we’ve decided to go to Ireland whether or not the eviction gets delayed at our court hearing on Tuesday. If it does, then we’ll just have more time to clean the new place before we settle in. Thanks for all the prayers and well wishes. They’ve meant a lot to all of us.

I’m a bit behind in posting this, but here is the abstract of the paper I will be giving in Rome this summer:

Righteousness and Glory: New Creation as Immortality in Romans

In the search for the meaning of righteousness language in Romans, studies rightfully focus upon the relationship of this language to other key concepts in the letter: faith, works, Law, and covenant, to name a few. However, one important terminological companion of righteousness has been neglected–that of glory (δόξα and its cognates).  Accordingly, this paper, after a brief exploration of the glory motif, will analyze how Paul intertwines these two concepts in the letter.  I argue that Paul presents justification as the means to immortal life, signified by glory.  My argument consists of three points.  First, although Paul uses glory language sociologically in his honour discourse, he frequently uses it ontologically in reference to the experience of immortal life.  Thus, when humans lack glory, they experience mortality, and when they later experience glory, they experience the resurrection life of Christ.  Second, throughout the letter Paul presents righteousness as the means to new life.  Third, Paul similarly presents righteousness as the means to glory.  Thus, the righteousness-glory association provides further evidence that Paul understands justification as the means for rectifying human mortality arising from sin.  Accordingly, we can conclude that in Romans 1) justification, among other things, is God’s act of new creation and therefore fits within God’s larger plan of cosmic restoration and 2) Paul does not separate participationist and forensic categories but unites them in the act of justification which brings new life.

I appears that dishonest people live in England, too.  Let me give you a brief run down of my last two days and a little background.

7am, leave for the office/study room to do work on finalising an article on Rom 3.23.
10am, get call from my wife saying that a baliff has been by the house telling us that we are going to be evicted in a fortnight (2 weeks). It appears that our landlord has not been paying his mortgage. Since our lease term officially ended about a year ago, we essentially don’t have any rights to stay. (I never ‘renewed’ it because the previous time they wanted to increase the rent, so I just kept paying the same amount and all was well, until now.) Here are few links describing it: Sky, Tiscali, Shelter
10:01am, WHAT!?!?!?!?! What’s he been doing with my 2.5 yrs of rent payments?
10:02am, have a firm call with the management company asking why they didn’t tell me about the court proceedings before now.
10:30am, wonder how to salvage a trip to Ireland that was to be 6 of the next 14 days before eviction.
11:00am, call to landlord’s mortgage company to see if we can work out a deal for us to stay until they sell the house. response: that’s not in my box of pat answers. where’s the logic? wouldn’t be better to have some income from the property instead of having it sit empty? realise that it is ‘when’ not ‘if’ we will be leaving this house.
12:30pm, go to the Civil and Family Court to file a petition to stay the execution, I mean postpone the eviction. Leaving to Ireland 15th, but with Easter break court is closed Thurs 9th-13th. But they amazingly can fit in a hearing the 14th. We can tell the lady is having mercy on us. Incidentally, we saw a NT on her desk.
1pm: we decide: If there is an extension, we go to Ireland. If not, we stay and lose our plane tickets and deposits on hotels and car.
2pm, go home and feverishly search the internet for a new house to let in our part of town since my kids go to school here and my wife works around here (seems like RightMove is the best overall site to use), glad I documented the process from our first try 3 years ago since it made it easier the second time around: Settling In
4pm, narrow down the list and make viewing appointments, learn that several are already taken.
6pm, dinner
7pm, begin to sort closets, wardrobes, etc.
10pm, crash because of mental exhaustion

8:30am, go to dentist, pay £16 to have my teeth counted (no cleanings here unless a problem), all family in and out 20 min.
10am, set off by foot to first viewing–house is only 10 min from current hub of life, all aspects of house have been remodeled: floors, kitchen cabinets, bathroom, walls painted; it sits beside a huge city park; price is £75 less than current place; near to boys’ friends. This is a place we can live and would want to live! Extreme relief.
11am, keep sorting and packing
12pm, lunch
2:30pm, view next house. 25 min by foot, insides not updated for 40 years.
2:31pm, Decide to go with house #1.
3pm, place offer on the house #1, and wait until tomorrow to hear response.
3:01, more packing
4pm, crash–again, just mentally tired
6pm, dinner arrives from minister and family! such a timely gift that just saves so much time and energy
7pm, watch movie with boys and fall asleep
9pm, boys in bed watch a little tv–chelsea beats liverpool 3-1 in the champions league quarter(?) finals
10pm, try to go to bed, can’t because fell asleep during movie
10:30pm, remember that I needed to send deposit to apartment for SBL Rome (good site: SleepingRome), so hit the computer
11:00pm, blog and check email, consider how fortunate we are to have such a good community from friends (internaltional and local) and a helpful church body
throughout the day, calls and emails offering help, encouragement, advice, baby sitting, etc.
I’m sure I missed something in all that.

It’s been a full two days. We’re quite pleased with the house we found and are hoping that our offer is well received. The big question mark is whether our Ireland trip will work out so we don’t lose the money. Thank God for good friends to help us out in all this.

I was considering a list of top Paul books over the past 10 years.  Here’s the list I had and then below it were other recommendations from friends.  My criteria are that the book has to be general in scope (e.g., theologies) and/or presents an influential or unique perspective. What are your thoughts?

My list (chronologically):

  • Dunn, J. D. G., The Theology of Paul the Apostle. 1998.
  • Engberg-Pedersen, Troels, Paul and the Stoics. 2000.
  • Gorman, M. J., Cruciformity: Paul’s Narrative Spirituality of the Cross. 2001.
  • Schreiner, T. R., Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology. 2001.
  • Westerholm, S., Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The “Lutheran” Paul and His Critics. 2003.
  • Carson, D. A., P. T. O’Brien, and M. A. Seifrid, Justification and Variegated Nomism. 2001, 2004.
  • Longenecker, Bruce W. ed. Narrative Dynamics in Paul: A Critical Assessment. 2002.
  • Hurtado, L. W., Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. 2003.
  • Sampley, J. P., Paul in the Greco-Roman World: A Handbook. 2003.
  • Watson, Francis, Paul and the Hermeneutics of Faith. 2004.
  • Campbell, D. A., The Quest for Paul’s Gospel: A Suggested Strategy. 2005.
  • Schnelle, Udo, Apostle Paul: His Life and Theology. 2005.
  • Jewett, Robert, Romans: A Commentary. 2007.
  • Childs, Brevard, The Church’s Guide to Reading Paul: The Canonical Shaping of the Pauline Corpus. 2008.

Other’s recommended these:

  • Justin Meggitt, Paul, Poverty, and Survival
  • Todd Still and David Horrell, eds, After the First Urban Christians (Forthcoming late 2009)
  • Gordon Fee, Pauline Christology
  • Barclay and Gathercole, Divine and Human Agency
  • Ross Wagner, Heralds of the Good News
  • Terrance Donaldson, Paul and the Gentiles: Remapping
  • Francis Watson, Paul, Judaism and the Geniles: Beyond the New Perspectative
  • Simon Gathercole, Where is Boasting
  • Peter Stuhlmacher, Revisiting Paul’s Doctrine of Justification
  • Todd Still, Jesus and Paul Reconnected
  • Alain Badiou, St. Paul: The Foundations of Universalism

One of the great cultural divides between the US and UK is the issue of gun ownership.  Locals I talk with can’t comprehend the number of guns in the US and are (rightfully) worried about the gun culture being imported to the UK through TV and movies.  (I’ve since learned that guns themselves make their way from former soviet countries.)  I never really never know where to stand–I was raised in the south with a BB gun when I was about 6, but then who needs any kind of assault riffle.  Murders here in the UK–though they tend to be more from knife fights–tend to gain national attention, whereas the seemingly daily gun murders in Dallas were so common that we generally ignored them.  I think this passive acceptance is quite negative. 

A friend of mine pointed me to this BBC article noting this tension in perception between the UK and US: America’s ‘Safety Catch’.  In simple terms it’s alcohol vs guns, though the US definitely has it’s own alcohol problem.  After reading the article, it seemed to me that a significant difference is that the UK is much more of a pedestrian culture and the US is a driving culture (though I hear the UK is moving towards more driving).  At any rate, you are not as likely to happen upon shady people in your car, whereas here periodically you walk past people that you might not want to. 

As a side note, I have a 2nd or 3rd cousin (in Oklahoma) that shot off the tip of his finger while ‘drilling’ a hole for his cable wire with his .22, in a similar manner as mentioned in the article.