March 2013

The following is an extended quote from Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 30.5 (one of his Five Theological Orations), written near the time of the Council of Constantinople (AD 381).  The work is a refutation of the Eunomians/Anomeans/Neo-Arians, who thought that the Son did not eternally share the same nature as the Father.  As part of his argument he discusses the relationship of the Father to the Son when he is hanging on the cross.

If the Father and Son share the same essence/nature, how can they be separated at the cross? What could Jesus have meant when he exclaimed (quoting Ps 22.1), “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Gregory answers:

Why? You will say.  Is [the Son] not subordinate now?  If he is God, does he need at all to be made subordinate to God?  You are talking as if he were a bandit or an opponent of God!

No–look at this fact: the one who releases me from the curse was called “curse” because of me; “the one who takes away the sin of the world” was called “sin” and is made a new Adam to replace the old.  In just this way too, as head of the whole body, he appropriates my want of submission.  So long as I am an insubordinate rebel with passions which deny God, my lack of submission will be referred to Christ.  But when all things are put in submission under him, when transformed they obediently acknowledge him, then will Christ bring me forward, me who have been saved, and makes his subjection complete.  In my view Christ’s submission is the fulfillment of the Father’s will.  As we said before, the Son actively produces submission to the Father, while the Father wills and approves submission to the Son.  Thus it is that he effects our submission, makes it his own and presents it to God. “My God, my God, look upon me, why have you forsaken me?” seems to me to have been the same kind of meaning.  He is not forsaken either by the Father or, as some think, by his own Godhead, which shrank in fear from suffering, abandoning the suffer.  Who applies that argument either to his birth in this world in the first place or to his ascent of the cross? No in himself, as I have said, he expresses our condition.  We had once been forsaken and disregarded; then we are accepted and now are saved by the sufferings of the impassible.  He made our thoughtlessness and waywardness his own, just as the psalm, in its subsequent course says–since the Twenty-First Psalm [LXX, English = 22nd], clearly refers to Christ.

When representing humanity on the cross, Christ does not cease to be divine.  He subordinates himself on our behalf, but he can only humble himself if he were exalted in the first place.  The Father and the Son did not have separate intentions because sharing the same nature entails sharing the same will.  Miroslav Volf captures this idea when he recently tweeted: “Christ is not a third party inserted between an angry God and sinful humanity; he is the God who was wronged embracing humanity on the cross.”

There’s a conference in Edinburgh this summer that you might be interested in:

Peter in Earliest Christianity
July 4-6, 2013

Speakers include: Timothy Barnes, Markus Bockmuehl, Sean Freyne, Larry Hurtado, Peter Lampe, Tobias Nicklas, Margaret Williams

Topics include: The Historical Peter, Peter in Galilean and Roman Archaeology, Peter in the First Three Centuries

Sounds like a good mix of NT, Greco-Roman, and Patristic scholarship.  Those of you headed to St. Andrews for ISBL (July 7-11) should come to Edinburgh for this event first.

Last weekend I went to the Southwest Regional Conference for Religious Studies (SWCRS, or “swickers”), which is primarily based around the southwest region of SBL and AAR, but ASSR and IBR also had sessions.  I presented a paper and participated in a book review session, about which I’ll blog later.  For this first post, I thought I’d note the highlights from the Friday night event: NABPR.  (I missed the Saturday morning meetings for NABPR because I was staying off site at my brother’s house.)

2013-03-08 21.01.48

On Friday night a group of 15 or so met for the regional meeting of the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion.  While this is only a select few of the actual members and of the professors at the various baptist schools around TX, AR, MO, and OK(?), we had a number of institutions represented.  Several of us were from Houston Baptist, and other schools such as Baylor, Wayland, Howard Payne, Hardin Simmons, Ouachita (Arkansas), Southwest Baptist (Missouri), and Williams Baptist (Arkansas), among others, had faculty there.

The first half of the session was a presentation by the online tech person from Hardin Simmons.  Everyone in the room was moving towards or already doing some kind of online.  One of the early adopters Southwest Baptist Univ (Missouri) interestingly has been adjusting their online classes towards a hybrid approach that has some form of face-to-face contact because student retention is a problem with online only or online heavy programs.  That makes sense, but I hadn’t thought about it.  Some programs focused on summer online to focus on their students that were going home to do local community college work, whereas others integrate it more into the normal offering.  HBU has started offering some hybrid classes in the Dept of Theology with Charles Halton and Mike Licona.  I’ll be one of the first online only classes this summer, so I’ll get a feel for my first class that way.  If any of you have experiences/war stories send them my way so I can avoid unnecessary problems.


The second half of the evening was the presidential address by HBU’s own David Capes.  He walked through the various issues related to making a modern translation of the Bible, drawing from his immense experience with The Voice translation.   His talk ranged from translation theory to how to deal with unfriendly reporting from national media.  Even as one of the contributors to the project, I always learn something new about the project when I hear David talk.

I’m a big fan of conferences, and having one that includes a little professional development makes it all the more important.