July 2013


I’m not sure how long it has been out, but the SBL online program book is now available to search, if you’re interested in finding out who’s presenting on what and when. Let me know if you spot any “can’t miss” sessions!

I’ve been doing a lot of reading in Philippians lately and am quite interested in seeing how various scholars summarize the letter’s main purpose. I am particularly sympathetic to the views of those who explicitly factor in Paul’s repeated reference to φρόνησις (cf. φρονέω, 10x) and other kinds of cognition language.

For example, Wayne Meeks famously remarks, “[T]his letter’s most comprehensive purpose is the shaping of a Christian phrōnesis, a practical moral reasoning that is ‘conformed to [Christ’s] death’ in hope of his resurrection.”[1]

I really like Stephen Fowl’s summary: “Paul is trying to form in the Philippians the intellectual and moral abilities to be able to deploy their knowledge of the gospel in the concrete situations in which they find themselves, so that they will be able to live faithfully.”[2]

Here is my own summary, which is probably quite close to Fowl: “Paul seeks to show the church how to perceive, assess, and respond to its circumstances ‘in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ’ (1.27)—namely, in a way that rightly grasps and appropriates the gospel’s eschatological trajectory, missional priority, and cruciform morality.”

Constructive Feedback?


[1] Wayne A. Meeks, “The Man from Heaven in Paul’s Letter to the Philippians,” in The Future of Early Christianity: Essays in Honor of Helmut Koester (Birger Pearson; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991), 329-36, at 333.

[2] Stephen E. Fowl, “Christology and Ethics in Philippians 2:5-11,” in Where Christology Began: Essays on Philippians 2 (R. P. Martin and B. J. Dodd; Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1998), 140-53, at 145. See also Lee S. Bond, “Renewing the Mind: Paul’s Theological and Ethical Use of Phronēma and Cognates in Romans and Philippians” (Ph.D.,
Univ. of Aberdeen, 2005).

I went on a similar van tour with Elijah Rising. Jessica captures things well here…

Facing The Jabberwock

I couldn’t sleep. Tossing and turning was all I did after my afternoon on an Elijah Risingvan tour of Houston.  Where do I begin?Elijah Rising

In 2011, Elijah Rising (a ministry committed to ending human trafficking) began offering van tours throughout the city in order to promote awareness of the impact and prominence of sex trafficking in the city of Houston.

“Part of our mandate is to drive the reality of modern day slavery into the consciousness of our society. To do this we offer approximately 2 hour tours of high probability trafficking areas. These tours are essentially a rolling Human Trafficking 101 class with visuals.”

Human trafficking is a 32 billion dollar per year industry with over 27 million people currently living as slaves.*  Eighty-percent of human trafficking is commercial sex trade.  Out of the 27 million victims, eighty-percent are women and of these eighty, fifty-percent are minors.  Houston…

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For the last month, I’ve been at Tyndale House in Cambridge on research leave. Here are some of the things I’ve liked about Tyndale:

You have a wealth of books and journal articles right at hand. There are, of course, bigger collections elsewhere and there are some things that Tyndale doesn’t have. But one of the advantages is that nothing leaves the library. So even if someone else has gotten a book from the shelve, you can go get it from them.

There is a seriousness about the place. From the first moment that you step into the library, you are very aware that everyone is there for one reason: to research. It’s not like most university libraries where there is constant noise and laughter. Here it is quite and everyone is busy.

For those of us in small departments, Tyndale provides an opportunity to discuss research and get that informal feedback that is so crucial to thinking and writing. The two scheduled tea times are a welcome break as everyone stops for 15 minutes or more and steps away from the books. There are so many people working here that you can find someone who has given some thought to just about anything.

If you have a chance to spend some time at Tyndale, I would highly recommend it. My plans already include another month here next summer.

This is the linchpin passage that NT Wright regularly references to covenentalism. I don’t remember ever looking up the passage, so thanks Brian for bringing it to our attention.

the archives near Emmaus

This section from Genesis Rabbah 14.6 reminds me of Romans 5:12-21:

[Then the Lord God formed] the man: for the sake of Abraham. R. Levi said: It is written, ‘The greatest man among the Anakim’: ‘man’ means Abraham, and why is he called the greatest man? Because he was worthy of being created before Adam, but the Holy One, blessed be he, reasoned: ‘He may sin and there will be none to set it right. Hence I will create Adam first, so that if he sins, Abraham may come and set things right.’ R. Abba b. Kahana said: In general practice, when a man joints a pair of beams [so that they meet] at a slope, where does he place them? Surely in the middle of the chamber, so that they may support the beams in front and behind. Even so, why did the Lord create Abraham in the middle…

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I’m spending a month at Tyndale House this summer on research leave. One event that overlapped with my time here was the meeting of the Tyndale Fellowship NT Study Group. Other groups meet as well, such as the OT, ethics and theology. These groups run at the beginning of July each year. This year’s papers included several from current PhD students, and the NT Tyndale Paper was given by Dr Hanna Stettler (University of Tübingen, Germany) on the question ‘Did Paul Invent Justification by Faith?’ in which she explored potential connections between Paul and Luke 18.

If you are a PhD student wanting to try out your research, I think these groups are a good place. You will receive constructive criticism, but there is a completely different feeling to the session. No one is attempting to make a name for themselves or trying to stand out.

The meetings are on the smaller side, unlike SBL, and people are not running from one session to the next. This means that you have a chance to talk with people like Howard Marshall or to meet new people. This year I met Tim Gombis (who blogs at Faith Improvised) and Erwin Ochsenmeier (who blogs at Foursenses). One of the enjoyable things about Tyndale is the international element. Another enjoyable feature, and this goes for the British New Testament Conference as well, is that everyone eats meals together. Sharing a meal changes the dynamics of a meeting and is a reminder that life is about more than just research.

So, if you are in the UK at the beginning of July, you should think about coming along to one of the Tyndale Fellowship Study Groups.