June 2010

Thinking about the epistemological differences between post-conservatives and post-liberals, the current stir caused by Ron Hendel (with the response by SBL) seems to me to be the clash between modernism and post-modernism.  Not that I want to drink the cool aid of postmodernism, but it does promote a plurality of avenues for engaging the biblical texts, which SBL appears not to be afraid of.  It appears to me that many in the field of biblical studies generally holdon to modernist epistemological categories (more than others?), and thus some like Hendel associate ‘critical’ with only with historical-critical methods.  Based on the anecdotal evidence, there may be some areas for improvement, but what is ironic is that some of the ‘fundamentalist’ groups that Hendel critiques are often some of Hendel’s closest allies in the modernist camp with a strong focus on historical-grammatical exegesis.  I’m happy to have a conference that has room for a variety of views.  We all avoid sessions that are uninteresting or have different methodological bases than those we might employ.  That doesn’t mean that they don’t need to be allowed.

As to one point of evidence, I don’t see how the split with AAR is evidence for Hendel’s case.  AAR as a theological organization primarily, I think, allows the interaction of those from different faith perspectives.  If anything they appear to me to be more open to the postmodern eclecticism that Hendel appears to be wary of.

In all I think it has spawned a healthy debate.  I’m glad for SBL to sponsor the comments page.  I especially liked Jason Hood’s #27.


In case anyone is making plans for November, here’s somewhere to go on the 22nd.  I’m glad to be sharing this session with my compatriot from Durham, Aaron Sherwood.

Disputed Paulines
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Theme: Colossians and Ephesians
Daniel Darko, University of Scranton, Presiding

Matthew E. Gordley, Regent University
Reading the Household Code of Colossians in its Contexts: A Critique and Proposal (30 min)

Ben C. Blackwell, Durham University
Deification and Colossians 2.10 (30 min)

April Favara, Iliff School of Theology/University of Denver
The Stoic Ethic of Perfect Manhood in Ephesians 4:13 (30 min)

Aaron Sherwood, Durham University
A Discourse Analysis of Ephesians 3:1–13 (30 min)

I was thinking today about the recent exchanges between NT Wright and Richard Hays.  The first round of the debate was when Wright at SBL Boston gave an unexpectedly negative review of the collection of essays that Hays edited on Jesus: Seeking the Identity of Jesus: A Pilgrimage.  Hays’ rejoinder to this came at the Wheaton Theology Conference back in April.  Both have argued for the importance of story and narrative, so I think there was an expectation previously that they were in basic agreement about its role.  In simple terms, Wright is arguing for ‘story’, but he is particularly concerned with history.  On the other hand, Hays is concerned that this creates almost a 5th gospel, so he  is thus more concerned with the narrative of each of the 4 Gospels, reading them through the lens provided by the narrators, which generally accords with later church perspectives on the text.   Mike Gorman puts it up to the age-old question of the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith debate.

I was considering this issue this afternoon and the question struck me: is this a debate of competing mindsets, post-conservative (Wright) vs post-liberal (Hays)?

I suppose this is speculative, but I wonder if it has legs.   I’m not sure Wright would identify himself as ‘post-conservative’, but he is a member of Fulcrum, which self-identifies as ‘open evangelical’.  Based upon Peter Broadbent’s Towards a definition of “Open Evangelical” (search down in the comments), the English Anglican term ‘Open Evangelical’ seems to roughly line up with ‘post-conservative’ in the US.  There seems to be a more calvinist stream of post-conservatives represented by Kevin Vanhoozer and a more arminian stream represented by Roger Olsen, but many of the core values are similar if debates about particular aspects remain.  I assume that Wright would be more on the Vanhoozer side.  Hays, on the other hand, with his emphasis on narrative theology is clearly influenced by the Yale-school and ‘postliberalism’, although with his own emphases.

While there seems to be a real rapport between post-conservatives and post-liberals, is there still an epistemological divide between Wright’s critical-realism and Hays’ narrative theology, which is representative of their respective traditions?  Based on the recent exchange between Wright and Hays, this divide does exist, but is it representative of larger schools of thought?  Clearly this larger question depends on whether post-conservatives would mostly hold to an epistemology like Wright’s.  Is this the case?

For my American readership, I thought I would let you know that the Football (Soccer) World Cup is kicking off this weekend. World Cups in any sport only come around every 4 years, and I was vaguely aware of it just before we moved to England 4 years ago. The games were in Germany and played live in the US in the morning, so I would have to watch the replays on the Spanish channel at night. Since I’d never gotten in to soccer playing a game with no audio didn’t help much, but I figured I needed to have a taste of it before moving.  My appreciation of the sport has risen greatly after being here.

This year the games are in South Africa, so not bad for a European time zone, but I guess more people have pvr’s these days, so that’s not as much an issue. Funny enough the US is playing England for their first game.  Of course the English think they will win, but I know otherwise.

Even though the English invented rugby and cricket, there was now where near the interest that football draws. England is touted as the country with the least national pride in Europe (as a saw in a recent survey). You hardly ever see an english flag (since it is kind of associated with right-wing anti-immigration types), which is different from the British Union flag. But the flags are everywhere now.

England Flag: St. George’s Cross
England Flag

British Union Flag:
A Combination of St. George’s Cross (England), St. Andrew’s Cross (Scotland), and St. Patrick’s Cross (Ireland) Wales technically falls under St George’s flag, but their Dragon didn’t make it in.
British Union Flag

Here’s a little gem that Jason Hood sent my way:

David desires to be delivered in the righteousness of God, because God displays his righteousness in performing his promise to his servants. It is too much refinement of reasoning to assert that David here betakes himself to the righteousness which God freely bestows on his people, because his own righteousness by works was of no avail. Still more out of place is the opinion of those who think that God preserves the saints according to his righteousness; that is to say, because having acted so meritoriously, justice requires that they should obtain their reward. It is easy to see from the frequent use of the term in the Psalms, that God’s righteousness means his faithfulness, in the exercise of which he defends all his people who commit themselves to his guardianship and protection. David, therefore, confirms his hope from the consideration of the nature of God, who cannot deny himself, and who always continues like himself.

John Calvin on Psalm 31:1