Friday, January 12, 2018

Jonathan Pennington and the Quote of the Day and a Question

As I was listening to Jonathan Pennington's On Script interview, I was struck by a comment he made about living a virtuous life. At the 36:03 mark, Pennington states:
There's a place for duty on the way to virtue. That is, if virtue is the whole person where you're reasoning your affections and your actions are aligned with each other that's what virtue is. It's harmony, it's teleiosity. If that's what virtue is, there's still a place for doing on the way to get there, and the reason is..., as we do, we become. Habituation matters. The choices we make and the habits we align ourselves with form us to be a certain kind of person.
As I was pondering this soundbite, I thought of the Kingdom of God, or in Matthean terms, the Kingdom of Heaven, and how this notion of virtue may relate to inaugurated eschatology, i.e., the already not yet dynamic that the Kingdom presents. Could it be that Jesus' Sermon on the Mount and all of its ethical demands contain a dimension of this already not yet duty that we are to practice on the way to living a virtuous life in light of the already yet coming Kingdom?

Just a thought I was pondering concerning Jonathan's insightful comment.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Recommended Listening

One of the pitfalls of being away from blogging for such a long period of time is the fact that I am late to many a dance. What I mean by this is, is when I was blogging regularly, it forced me to keep up with various other blogs, and the field of NT studies in general. Now, that I am finally making way back around, I plan on playing catchup. So, for me, I am finally going to get around to listening to the renown podcast On Script. Matthew Bates and others have done all students of Scripture a wonderful service with this podcast; I only wish I would have envisioned this idea myself. (:)) Anyway, I plan on downloading many of the episodes and listening to them while at work, in particular, the one with Jonathan Pennington and his recent work, The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing. I plan on reading Pennington's book as soon as I finish Scot McKnight's commentary on the SOTM.

I will be linking to On Script in my blogroll.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Goals for 2018

One of the things I have been meaning to do for some time is to study the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7). Instead of being all over the board in this New Year, because I am not the greatest multi-tasker in the world (just ask my wife), it is better for me to focus on a narrow section of Scripture. More than just an object of study though, I desire to be transformed by my reading of this text. To quote the great Augustine:
"If anyone will piously and soberly consider the sermon which our Lord Jesus Christ spoke on the mount, as we read it in the Gospel according to Matthew, I think that he will find in it, so far as regards the highest morals, a perfect standard of the Christian life..." 
(Augustine of Hippo, “Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount,” in Saint Augustin: Sermon on the Mount, Harmony of the Gospels, Homilies on the Gospels, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. William Findlay and David Schley Schaff, vol. 6, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series [New York: Christian Literature Company, 1888]), 3.n

In other words, my longing is to have a life-changing encounter with the text, not treat it as merely an object for study. Otherwise, what is the point? If one is honest with oneself, the Sermon on the Mount strips away all of our preconceived notions of what it means to be a Christian. It is perhaps the most ethically challenging teaching in the entirety of the Bible.

All that said, I am not sure what this will look like in terms of blog posts. I have already begun reading Scot McKnight's helpful Sermon on The Mount in The Story of God Bible Commentary series (Zondervan; 2013). Next, I plan on reading Jonathan Pennington's The Sermon on The Mount and Human Flourishing (Baker Academic; 2017). I will consult various commentaries as well (Luz, Hagner, France, Allison &Davies, Turner's, etc.). My biggest goal, however, is to memorize the Sermon on the Mount in both English and Greek. I know this will take a lot of time, and I pray that I do not grow weary in the attempt.

I plan on utilizing this blog to act as sort of a journal for my studies. It is my hope that someone else will find this material useful and edifying.

Any suggestions on other resources would be appreciated.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year!

If one desires to dust off an old book, one must grab it off the shelf and commence with the task. That's how I view the status of this blog. Once relevant, at least moderately so, I have gone virtually silent the past couple of years. That is not a lost to most, although some of you have expressed to me on occasion that you enjoyed my blog. The reasons for going silent are too many to enumerate here, but I do feel the need to revisit the strange world of blogging, if for no other reason than to express my own interests, (less than an altruistic motive, I realize), and along the way hopefully convey something of interest to anyone who may stumble upon NT Perspectives. 

So, here it goes again. Another year, another attempt hopefully NT Perspectives will shake free of blogging purgatory and be relevant once again.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Klyne Snodgrass' Stories With Intent 10th Anniversary Edition

It is remarkable that nearly ten years have passed since the publication of Klyne Snodgrass' magnum opus, Stories With Intent (Eerdmans; 2008). In my opinion, it is still the best treatment of Jesus' parables and how parables functioned in the ancient world. I interviewed Klyne back in 2008 about this work which can be viewed here.

To celebrate Klyne's achievement with Stories, Eerdmans is now publishing a tenth-anniversary edition, complete with a new chapter that reviews parable interpretation since his initial publication in 2008.

Click here to learn more.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

C.F.D. Moule on the Nature of Scripture

Scripture is so precious to me that I have read it through from cover to cover scores of times, missing not a day in 50 years without steady reading. I hope that it is now clear why this is so. I do not believe that Scripture is infallible; I question the value of the language of inspiration for describing its distinctive qualities; I believe (as I have shown) that Scripture itself, and the fact that it is an accredited selection, need to be critically examined and sifted like any other matters of antiquity. But, precisely because it does constitute the body of documents most directly concerned with the impact of those events which culminated (so I read the evidence) in Jesus and the Christian movement, it constitutes (as a whole and taken in its entirety) a mirror held up to the face of God. And unless we gaze daily in that mirror we are deprived of the most vital agent in our access to God through Jesus Christ. That is why the Bible is indispensable and uniquely precious. But without the Spirit of God to nerve me to face, to respond to, and to obey that awesome presence, and to bind me to my fellow-seekers for our mutual help and encouragement in this activity, all the study and labour would be worse than useless. This is how I understand both the distinctiveness of Scripture and the relation to it of a doctrine of the Spirit.- C.F.D. Moule; Forgiveness and Reconciliation; 224; italics mine.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

G.B. Caird on (Sin)cerity

While reading George Caird's masterful New Testament Theology, he brings to the fore an interesting and often overlooked aspect of the types of sins Jesus died for, namely, the sin of sincerity.

Caird states:

If it be true that Jesus died for such as Paul, then the one thing certain is that the sins he bore included the sins of sincerity. ...Christian tradition has regrettably accustomed us to think of those who brought about the Crucifixion as villians; but if we observe them through the eyes of Paul, we get a different view. 'I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, however unenlightened' (Rom. 10:2). No doubt they had their faults and fallacies, but each in his own way was a sincere person, honestly trying to do what was right in the interest of religion and national survival. But in all the annals of human vice, no power is as destructive or demonic as perverted sincerity.
It took the Cross, interpreted as the vicarious bearing of guilt to pierce the armour-plate of Paul's self-congratulation. It proved that when he had been most confident of serving God, he had been God's enemy; and it had revealed a love great enough to kill the enmity (Rom. 5:8; 2 Cor. 5:18-21) (Italics mine; 147). 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

NIVAC eBook Sale (Nov 7-13)

One of the more helpful commentary series, the New International Version Application Commentary (NIVAC), published by Zondervan, is having a one week eBook sale beginning tomorrow (Nov 7-13).

Each volume is only $4.99 a piece, and bundles can be purchased for $17.99. These are truly remarkable prices for such a solid commentary series. I can attest personally to the quality as I have used with great benefit, Douglas Moo's Romans and Daniel Block's Deuteronomy to name just a couple of the volumes.
Make sure you take advantage of this offer by shopping here

Friday, November 4, 2016

Ernst Käsemann and the Quote of the Day

I ran across this quote from the great Ernst Käsemann on the indispensability of learning in community, a virtue seemingly lost in certain sectors of the church and in scholarship.

Controversy is the breath of life to a German theologian, and mutual discussion is the duty of us all. For, in scholarship as in life, no one can possess truth except by constantly learning it afresh; and no one can learn it afresh without listening to the people who are his companions on the search for that truth. Community does not necessarily mean agreement. (Perspectives on Paul; 60.)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Scot McKnight's Colossians Commentary

The first new release under the editorship of Joel Green (not counting Gordon Fee's revised classic on 1 Corinthians) in the NICNT series comes the anticipated commentary on Colossians by Scot McKnight. McKnight's volume will replace F.F. Bruce's volume, now 32 years old. Bruce's volume also combined Philemon and Ephesians, necessitating that Bruce spent less space discussing Colossians singularly.

As of the moment, I have yet to chase down a release date for the commentary, but my guess is that it should see the light of day in the early part of 2017. McKnight also authored the volume on James for this series back in 2011 when Fee was the editor.

Here is a brief description of the Colossians volume:
In the epistle to the Colossians, Paul offers a comprehensive vision of the Christian life; his claims transcend religion and bring politics, culture, spirituality, power, ethnicity, and more into play. This exegetical and theological commentary by Scot McKnight delves deeply into Paul's message in Colossians and draws out the theology that underpins it. McKnight interacts closely with the text of Colossians itself while bringing the best of biblical scholarship to the table. He focuses on reading Colossians in the context of Paul's other letters, his theology, and his mission to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. Crafted specifically for preachers and teachers, this engaging and accessible commentary offers fresh light on Colossians.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Eerdmans: Forthcoming Johannine Studies of Note

Eerdmans is slated to release two significant volumes for students of Johannine literature in early 2017.

The first, a volume by noted scholar, William Loader, Jesus in John's Gospel: Structure and Issues in Johannine Christology, is slated for a February release. Loader brings plenty of expertise to this topic as he previously released a monograph entitled, The Christology of the Fourth Gospel: Structure and Issues (Beiträge zur biblischen Exegese und Theologie 23 (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2d ed., revised, 1992, 1st ed., 1989).

Here are some of the particulars of the volume:

The culmination of a lifetime of work on the Gospel of John, William Loader's Jesus in John's Gospel explores the Fourth Gospel as a whole, focusing on ways in which attention to the structure of Christology in John allows for greater understanding of Johannine themes and helps resolve long-standing interpretive impasses. Following an introductory examination of the profound influence of Rudolf Bultmann on Johannine studies, Loader takes up the central interpretive issues and debates surrounding Johannine Christology and explores the death of Jesus and the salvation event in John. With an exhaustive bibliography and careful, well-articulated conclusions that take into account the latest research on John, this volume will be useful to scholars and students alike.

 The second volume of note is co-authored by Sherri Brown and Francis Moloney, entitled Interpreting the Gospel and Letters of John: An Introduction. Brown, a former student of Moloney's, is Assistant Professor of New Testament at Creighton University. Moloney, one of the premier Johannine specialists in the world, is Senior Fellow in the Department of Biblical Studies at Catholic Theological College, Melbourne, Australia.

Slated for a March 2017 release, here are the particulars of this volume:

Accessible, comprehensive, and up-to-date, Interpreting the Gospel and Letters of John is an ideal text for students new to the discipline of biblical studies. Sherri Brown and Francis Moloney present a broad overview of the story of Christianity arising out of its Jewish foundations and proceed expertly to guide readers through the contents of the Gospel and Letters of John. Maintaining that Johannine literature is best understood against the background of the Old Testament covenant meta-phor, Brown and Moloney focus on the central role of covenant in the narrative of John's Gospel and highlight the Evangelist's use of fulfillment language. Helpful sidebars, maps, questions for review, and further reading sections are placed throughout the text, making this volume perfect for classroom use.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

C.F.D. Moule and the Quote of the Day

In some reflective reading this morning, I was perusing through my copy of C.F.D. Moule's The Phenomenon of the New Testament when I came upon this quote on the importance of a Jesus rooted in history for the Christian faith (one can sense the influence Moule had on N.T. Wright, for whom the latter has referred to Moule's adoption of him after the death of his own Doktorvater, George Caird).

Decision there must be if there is to be Christian faith. Faith is faith, and no amount of photography and tape-recording of events could compel it. To see is not necessarily to believe. But, on the other hand, neither is blind faith real faith. For belief it is necessary to see--at least something. The decision to accept Jesus as Lord cannot be made without historical evidence--yes, historical--about Jesus. If it were a decision without any historical evidence it would not be about Jesus (a historical person) but only about an ideology or ideal. Even 'bare kerygma' is not basis enough for a Christian decision, if that kerygma includes no more history than the death of Jesus of Nazareth. To be sufficient it must include more. We need to know what manner of man Jesus was. We need to know how he fitted into the religious history of Israel. Some character sketch and some tradition of his sayings and his judgments and his values and some estimate of his relation to the past is integral to the proclamation that evokes decision. That is why the Gospels and the Old Testament scriptures are needed to give content to the bare proclamation. We may decide to embrace a proposition, such as that God is one; or an ideal, such as that all men should be brothers. But before we can decide for Jesus we need to know what manner of man he was, how he was related to his antecedents, why he died, and what (so far as it can be indicated) lies behind the conviction that he is alive. To take all this unexamined is not Christian decision at all, even if it may be a moral or a religious decision (79; italics original).

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Book Alert: Paul's New Perspective: Charting a Soteriological Journey

Despite the fact that the New Perspective on Paul (NPP) is not really new anymore, does not mean that scholars/students of Paul are no longer in dialogue with this viewpoint on the Apostle and his attitude toward the law and its abiding significance for the communities to which he founded and ministered.

In steps an offering from Garwood P. Anderson, Professor of New Testament and Greek, Nashotah House Theological Seminary, entitled, Paul's New Perspective: Charting a Soteriological Journey (IVP; forthcoming October 2016). Among the features of the book are as follows:

  • An innovative approach to issues of law and justification in Paul’s letters 
  • Attempts to resolve the tension between new and old perspectives on Paul 
  • Provides an informative overview of a current debate in Pauline scholarship
  •  Attends carefully to Paul’s soteriological language
  •  Argues for a theory of development in Paul’s theology 
Endorsements include:

Garwood Anderson
"Garwood Anderson's study of Paul's soteriology charts a bold course over the troubled seas of Pauline debate and among darkened clouds of theological dispute. He successfully shows that there is way a forward in the disputes about 'justification' and 'ethnicity'—a way beyond the entrenched dogmatism and intractable polarities that have emerged. Anderson brings us to a peaceful oasis where the treasures of the old and the freshness of the new come together. Among his insights are the multidimensional nature of union with Christ and the overlooked significance of Paul's sacramental realism for informing this discussion. This book is not the final word in the debate, but it is a good word—one that hopefully moves the discussion about Paul, justification and the New Perspectives along." —Michael F. Bird, lecturer in theology, Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia 

"Casting scholarly timidity to the wind, Garwood Anderson's engaging book takes up the question of the 'center' of Paul's theology—and whether Paul discovered and articulated it from the beginning of his ministry or developed it over the course of many years and letters. It is normal to find books that discuss Pauline chronology, the literary and theological shape of particular passages or the texts' theological 'afterlife' in the history of the church. It is rare to find books that do all these things at once—and do them with such verve and sophistication that one is reminded yet again why wrestling with Paul is so invigorating." —Wesley Hill, assistant professor of biblical studies, Trinity School for Ministry, author of Paul and the Trinity

Anderson's book will weigh in at 420 pages and retail for $36.00. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Andrew Lincoln and the Quote of the Day

Recently, I had an opportunity to read Andrew Lincoln's excellent essay "A Life of Jesus as Testimony: The Divine Courtroom and The Gospel of John," in the Divine Courtroom in Comparative Perspective, 145-166. Leiden: Brill, 2015. In the essay, Lincoln builds on the work of his monograph, Truth on Trial: The Lawsuit Motif of The Fourth Gospel, where he argues among other things, that (Second) Isaiah 40-55 stands behind much of the evangelist's thought with regards to the lawsuit motif.

One particular quote stands out to me while reflecting on the significance of the crucifixion/resurrection of Jesus during this Easter season. Lincoln states the second half the Gospel (chs. 13-20) otherwise commonly deemed, "The Book of Glory"

...depicts Jesus in the hour of his glory and invites its readers to see his departure from the world in death by crucifixion, which in normal evaluation would be seen as the greatest humiliation and shame, as in fact the supreme moment of that glory (cf. 13:31, 32; 17:1). The glory accompanying the vindication of Deutero-Isaiah’s servant was not “from humans” and failure to see Jesus’ glory is attributed to the opposition’s judgment which has become so influenced by human conceptions of honor and glory that it does not employ the right criteria in evaluation and therefore cannot see divine glory when it is before their eyes (cf. 5:44; 7:18, 24; 12:43)In GJ’s perspective the Logos does not lay aside divine glory in taking on flesh and in suffering; rather in Jesus his incarnation and death become vehicles for its expression (155; emphasis mine).

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Beverly Gaventa's When in Romans

"No one makes Romans come alive quite like Beverly Gaventa..." - John Barclay

This is just some of the praise emanating from scholars regarding Beverly Gaventa's forthcoming, When in Romans: An Invitation to Linger with the Gospel according to Paul (Baker Academic; Dec. 2016). Gaventa, Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Department of Religion, Baylor University, is perhaps offering up an introductory companion for her forthcoming contribution on Romans in the prestigious New Testament Library commentary series (Westminster John Knox Press). In the meantime, this contribution should provide a wonderful primer on Romans as few, if any, are a more capable guide to the reader than Gaventa.

Here are the particulars:

Price: $22.99
Page Count: 160

Invites Readers of Romans to Expand Their View of God and the Gospel

 When reading the book of Romans, we often focus on the quotable passages, making brief stopovers and not staying long enough to grasp some of the big ideas it contains. Instead of raiding Paul's most famous letter for a passage here or a theme there, leading New Testament scholar Beverly Roberts Gaventa invites us to linger in Romans. She asks that we stay with the letter long enough to see how Romans reframes our tidy categories and dramatically enlarges our sense of the gospel. Containing profound insights written in accessible prose and illuminating references to contemporary culture, this engaging book explores the cosmic dimensions of the gospel that we read about in Paul's letter. Gaventa focuses on four key issues in Romans--salvation, identity, ethics, and community--that are crucial both for the first century and for our own. As she helps us navigate the book of Romans, she shows that the gospel is far larger, wilder, and more unsettling than we generally imagine it to be.


"This is a book the church has long needed. Professor Gaventa pulls back the thin veneer of familiarity to introduce us to the high drama in Paul's Letter to the Romans. Her writing is both scholarly and accessible, ancient and contemporary, theological and pastoral." M. Craig Barnes, president, Princeton Theological Seminary

 "No one makes Romans come alive quite like Beverly Gaventa. In this highly accessible but provocative book--aimed at a wide Christian audience--she challenges our domesticated construals of Paul's gospel with a vision of God's comprehensive saving agency. If the starting point and the primary subject matter of the letter is not us but God, we are suddenly liberated from our excessive anxieties about ourselves, the church, and 'ethics.' Here are 3-D lenses to see Romans, the gospel, and the reality of God's grace, power, and mystery in a new and exciting way." John M. G. Barclay, Lightfoot Professor of Divinity, Durham University

 "From the beginning of the Christian era until the present day, Paul's Letter to the Romans has been the source of revolutionary rethinking. Nowhere do we come closer to the radical heart of the gospel. The universal and cosmic notes of the Pauline symphony are sounded in this book by one of our most esteemed interpreters of the apostle's letters. Beverly Gaventa has written a book for ordinary parish clergy and laypeople that is fun to read and full of spicy references to popular culture, and that will jolt readers into a new appreciation for the great apostle and his unique place in the history of Christian theology." Fleming Rutledge, author of Not Ashamed of the Gospel: Sermons on Romans and The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ

 "Beverly Gaventa has produced that rarest of books, combining careful, exquisite scholarship with her eye for humanizing, delightful detail. Her writing is both sophisticated and accessible as she tackles Paul's complex notions of individual and cosmic salvation. I am one of those Gaventa identifies who, more frequently than I like to admit, opted for the Gospel reading rather than grappling with Paul's sometimes tortured logic. Looking back, I would have loved turning to When in Romans." John M. Buchanan, former editor and publisher, The Christian Century

 "There are many books on Romans, but none quite like this one. Steeped in learning but accessible to a broad spectrum of readers, written with pastoral insight and welcome flashes of humor, here is a gift to Christians and inquirers alike. Gaventa invites us to enter the grand metropolis that is Romans, wander in its streets, relish its conversations, and be made new by its radical Lord." Susan Grove Eastman, associate research professor of New Testament, Duke Divinity School

 "Anyone who has difficulty imagining that a book on Paul's Epistle to the Romans could be a 'page turner' should read this one. Beverly Roberts Gaventa's prose is compelling, her insights on Romans are startlingly original, and her ability to show us in Paul's letter 'the gospel in its vastness' is simply breathtaking. This book is to be savored." Thomas G. Long, Bandy Professor of Preaching, Emeritus, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

 "When in Romans is deceptively accessible and lighthearted, so that readers are not immediately aware of being drawn into deep and rewarding engagement with Paul's complex text. But once inside and grappling with its intricacies, they are led securely through by Beverly Gaventa's experienced and unfailing judgment." Carolyn Osiek, RSCJ, Charles Fischer Professor of New Testament Emerita, Brite Divinity School

 "Using contemporary cultural illustrations from sources as varied as Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life and Bruce Springsteen's 'Land of Hope and Dreams,' Beverly Roberts Gaventa delightfully clarifies Paul's complex message in Romans. In beautifully written prose that is as compellingly clear for the novice as it is exegetically convincing for the scholar, Gaventa reminds us of the cosmic, liberative power of Paul's message. Here is that book of uncommon quality: easily accessible and utterly indispensable. Reading Romans today? Start here." Brian Blount, president and professor of New Testament, Union Presbyterian Seminary