Sunday, July 26, 2015

Paul and the Gift: A Preview of John Barclay's Book

Perhaps the most anticipated book in biblical studies for 2015, John Barclay's Paul & the Gift, now has an extensive Google Preview where most of the volume can be read online. Click here if you don't want to wait until September.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Calvin Roetzel Remembers Ernst Käsemann

Calvin J. Roetzel, Sundet Professor of New Testament and Christian Studies, Department of Classical & Near Eastern Studies, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota and Arnold Lowe Professor of Religious Studies (emeritus), Macalester College, recently (March 25, 2015) spoke about his friendship and the influence of one of the greatest NT scholars of the twentieth century, Ernst Käsemann. His lecture, "Ernst Käsemann Remembered" delivered at Emory University, Candler School of Theology, Pitts Theology Library, can be found here.

Here is a description of the lecture and the donation Roetzel made to the Pitts Theology Library of his personal correspondence with Käsemann:

"Professor Roetzel was one of several prominent American scholars who worked with Professor Käsemann in Tübingen and brought his influence into North American scholarship. Prof. Roetzel is donating to the Pitts Theology Library his personal correspondence with Prof. Käsemann, a collection of letters that ranges in topics from personal details related to his visit in Tübingen to substantive conversations about Pauline theology. The Pitts Theology Library is using Prof. Roetzel’s donation as the beginning of a curation effort of other American scholars who own Käsemann correspondence. Building upon existing archival items, Pitts has contacted several New Testament scholars who have indicated they are interested in participating in this endeavor. Professor Roetzel’s lecture will provide the context to this collection and celebrate the enormous contributions of Professor Käsemann."

Friday, July 17, 2015

Gordon Fee: Master of Pedagogy

Gordon Fee, in this short video clip, provides a brief master class on the effectiveness of using a historical illustration to teach a Biblical principle, namely, a lesson on D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 that signalled the death knell of Nazi Germany in WWII, which eventually was consummated on May 8, 1945 (V-Day), eleven months later. Fee ties these events to an illustration with the Kingdom of God.

At one point during this stirring clip (about the 4:16 mark) Fee exclaims:
In the coming of Jesus, God planted his flag on this enemy turf and said "This is my planet! I claim it in the name of the cross!" 

What an inspiring clip! Enjoy!

Murray Harris's John 3:16

Murray J. Harris
Murray J. Harris, professor emeritus of New Testament Exegesis and Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, has written a nice little book on probably the most famous of all Biblical passages: John 3:16.  John 3:16: What's it All About?(Cascade; 2015). To call this a book is a bit of a stretch as it is probably closer to the size of an essay. Weighing in at twenty-nine pages of text (forty-two when endnotes are included), Harris provides a straightfforward exegesis, first, by providing a brief overview of authorship (Harris opines for the traditional understanding of John, one of the twelve being the author), and then by discussing the context of the famous passage, by examining Jesus' discussion with Nicodemus. On this score, Harris does seem to ignore the narrative function of the time of Jesus' and Nicodemus' discussion,(i.e. 'at night') preferring to elucidate the timing of the meaning by purely historical reasons, (e.g. "Jewish rabbis taught that the ideal time to study the law was at night..." ; 3-4).

After this, Harris goes through each phrase contained in the passage (e.g. "For God" [8-9]; "so loved" [10-11]; "the world" [12,13], etc.) Finally, the book ends with a section called "Final Comments" (27-29), where Harris lists six adjectives that describes what "eternal life" looks like (e.g. "Embodied," "Localized," "Personal," "Active," "Corporate," "Permanent").

All in all, this is a good little book for those who want to discover as the subtitle asks "What's it All About?"

Friday, July 10, 2015

Lightfoot's Commentary on the Gospel of John

J.B. Lightfoot (1828-1889)
When one thinks of the great British commentators on the Fourth Gospel, Westcott, Hoskyns, Dodd, Barrett, and Lindars, one name is conspicuous by its absence: Joseph Barber Lightfoot. Lightfoot, the preeminent NT scholar of his time, never wrote a commentary on the Fourth Gospel, partly due to his respect for his colleague, B.F. Westcott.

Lightfoot did, however, continue to take notes on John's Gospel, which Ben Witherington III discovered at the Durham Cathedral Library in the spring of 2013. With this discovery and its future publication (The Gospel of St. John: A Newly Discovered Commentary; Dec. 2015; InterVarsity Press Academic; 384 pp.), perhaps Lightfoot's name will be placed alongside the pantheon of the great British commentators on the Fourth Gospel.

Here are the particulars:

InterVarsity Press is proud to present The Lightfoot Legacy, a three-volume set of previously unpublished material from J. B. Lightfoot, one of the great biblical scholars of the modern era. In the spring of 2013, Ben Witherington III discovered hundreds of pages of biblical commentary by Lightfoot in the Durham Cathedral Library. While incomplete, these commentaries represent a goldmine for historians and biblical scholars, as well as for the many people who have found Lightfoot's work both informative and edifying, deeply learned and pastorally sensitive. In addition to the material on the Acts of the Apostles, published in volume one, there were detailed notes on the Fourth Gospel, a text that Lightfoot loved and lectured on frequently. These pages contain his commentary notes for John 1-12. Lightfoot had long wanted to write a commentary on the Gospel of John, but he was unable to do so due to more pressing demands on his time, as well as his respect for his colleague B. F. Westcott. As a result, though he continued to compile notes on the text, they never saw the light of day until now. Included alongside the commentary are Lightfoot’s long out-of-print essays on the historical reliability of the Fourth Gospel. Now on display for all to see, these commentary volumes reveal a scholar well ahead of his time, one of the great minds of his or any generation. 


Introduction: External and Internal Evidences of the Authenticity and Genuineness of the Fourth Gospel
Appendix A: External Evidence for the Authenticity of the Fourth Gospel
Appendix B: More Internal Evidence for the Authenticity and Genuineness of St John’s Gospel Appendix C: Lightfoot and German Scholarship on John’s Gospel
Author Index
Scripture Index

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Excerpt of Richard Bauckham's Gospel of Glory

Richard Bauckham
One volume that I have been anticipating for some time is Richard Bauckham's Gospel of Glory: Major Themes in Johannine Theology (forthcoming, Baker Academic). I am delighted to see that Baker Academic has released an excerpt of the Preface and the first chapter. Also, I was delighted to see the giants for whom Bauckham dedicates the book, as well as his interaction with a hero of mine, C.F.D. Moule, and his famous article, "Individualism in the Fourth Gospel," NovT 5 (1962): 171–90.

Update: It looks that Amazon has provided a "Look Inside" which provides most provides some of the book's contents!

Fr. Lawrence E. Frizzell Remembers Fr. Raymond E. Brown

Rev. Lawrence E. Frizzell, S.T.L., S.S.L., D. Phil., Director and Associate Professor, Jewish-Christian Studies Graduate Program, Seton Hall University, shared some memories of colleague and friend, Raymond E. Brown. I would personally like to thank Fr. Larry for his encouragement and support of the website. The tribute can be found here.

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Review of Christopher Skinner's Reading John

With plenty of valuable introductions available on the Fourth Gospel (e.g. Anderson's, Burge'sEdwards' [2nd edition, forthcoming], Köstenberger's, Kysar's, etc.), and another forthcoming from the pen of renowned NT and Johannine scholar, Richard Bauckham one might be forgiven for asking: "Why another introduction on John's Gospel?" Enter Christopher Skinner and his Reading John (Cascade Companions; Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2015), who quickly turns the above question on its proverbial head, asking: "Why not another introduction on John's Gospel?" Granted, in order to change the question, the introduction has to make a unique contribution to the ever-crowded scholarly landscape on the Fourth Gospel. I am happy to say that Christopher Skinner's Reading John exceeded my already high expectations and will be my go-to resource for any future classes I am privileged to teach on John.
Christopher W. Skinner

Why such high expectations, one may ask? To start, Christopher Skinner, Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at Mount Olive College, is one of the brightest young Johannine scholars going today, as he has already written a published dissertation under the great Francis Moloney, entitled, John and Thomas--Gospels in Conflict? Johannine Characterization and the Thomas Question (Princeton Theological Monograph Series 115; Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2009), edited and contributed to the monograph, Characters and Characterization in the Gospel of John (Library of New Testament Studies; London: T &T Clark, 2013), and is currently working on a volume with another young, bright Johannine scholar, Sherri Brown on Johannine ethics for Fortress Press. In addition, Skinner has written several articles and essays on the Fourth Gospel. One would be hard-pressed to find a better candidate to enter the fray of Johannine introductions.

One is quickly impressed with Skinner's economy. Unlike many of the aforementioned introductions, Skinner does as much if not more in less space. Weighing in at a scant 145 pages, excluding indices, Skinner manages to cover all of the bases of what an introduction on the Fourth Gospel should include. Second, Skinner's writing style is winsome. One will not find a ton of technical, scholarly jargon, if avoidable. If unavoidable, Skinner gives brief definitions along the way, thereby not hindering the reader. Also, Skinner gives examples from TV shows, movies, etc. that help facilitates understanding. For example, the detective show, Columbo (self-disclosure: I'm a fan), begins every show with a person premeditating and committing a murder. The viewer gets to witness this unfold while Columbo comes on the scene later in the story and tries to solve the crime that only the viewer and perpetrator are privy to. Skinner uses this example (9-10) to introduce John's Prologue (1:1-18), where "the Prologue reveals to the reader information that is necessary to evaluate the unfolding events in the story" (9). While the readers/hearers of the Gospel are privy to this inside information, much like the viewer of Columbo, the characters in John are not, much like Lt. Columbo as he arrives at the crime scene, unaware of how the crime took place.

Yet another help to the reader of Reading John is the various sidebars included throughout the volume. I counted 25 such "tables" throughout the book, ranging from the Septuagint to the responses of Jesus to Nicodemus in 3:3, 3.5. These tables highlight such important Johannine features such as the "I am" sayings, the "Double Amen" formulations, the theme of misunderstanding, the Jewish festivals and much, much more. Every literary feature unique to John's Gospel Skinner highlights, making a very convenient guide for the reader.

As far as the structure of the book goes, the material is spread out over eight chapters. Chapter one, "Reading John: Where to Start?" (1-7) orients the reader around five key tenets of interpretation, namely, the recognition that John was written for a first-century audience, was written in Greek, was anonymously written (despite the appellation "John" that has been attached to it), is an autonomous narrative and deserves to be read on its own terms, rather than through the Synoptics, and finally, the reader is warned that there is no such thing as a "plain reading" of the text, as readers bring their own presuppositions to the text. Chapter two, "John's Prologue: The Interpretive Key for Reading the Gospel of John" (8-31), is perhaps this reviewer's favorite chapter of the book.  Skinner brings his expertise to bear on this topic as he has written on it extensively elsewhere, both in his revised dissertation, John and Thomas, as well as an excellent essay, "Misunderstanding, Christology, and Johannine Characterization: Reading John's Characters through the Lens of the Prologue" (111-127) in Characters and Characterization. Among other things, Skinner demonstrates reoccurring themes found in the prologue that are developed throughout the rest of the Gospel (e.g. life, light, darkness, sent, witness, the world, etc.), the connection of these motifs to the Jewish Festivals (Table 2.5, 21), and concepts mentioned in the Prologue that one should keep in mind as the reader explores John further (30). Further, Skinner also provides the reader with questions at the end of each chapter ("Reflection") that help drive the content home.

Chapter 3, "A Tale of Two Stories: John's Two-Level Drama"(32-46) is, in fact, one of  the most important chapters of the book. Having taught the Fourth Gospel before, I was hesitant to dive into the various Johannine Community Hypotheses (e.g. Martyn, Brown, etc.), and wish I would have been armed with Reading John when I had. Whatever one thinks about the Johannine community theories, one is faced with the fact that the majority of scholarship favors a view that the Gospel was written to a community that was facing persecution, namely, one that was being evicted from the synagogues (John 9:22; 12:42; 16.:2). Therefore, the reader needs to read John's story simultaneously as a story about a community at a specific point in time as well as a story about Jesus. Skinner does an admirable job of giving the reader an overview of the major interpretations, both pro and con of this hypothesis.

Chapter 4, "John, Jesus, and Judaism: Is the Gospel of John Jewish and Anti-Jewish at the Same Time? (Or, is the Gospel of John Schizophrenic?; 47-67)" addresses perhaps the thorniest of all topics regarding the Fourth Gospel. Skinner rightly insists that hoi Ioudaioi refers to the Jewish leaders in John's Gospel and is a technical term for Jesus' enemies (60-64). This is important to note in that hoi Ioudaioi is limited in scope and in no way speaks to Jews in general or to Jews as a large representative group. When reading the Gospel, readers need to be sensitive to this fact is the incalculable harm that has been meted out to the Jewish nation under the flag of Christianity.

Chapter 5, "An Alien Tongue: The Foreign Language of the Johannine Jesus" (68-95), the longest chapter in the book, explores the "I Am" statements (70-78), the use of irony (79-91), the "double Amen" sayings (91-93), and literary asides (94-95) found in John's narrative. The chapter is well organized with copious examples of each literary feature, sharpening the reader's perception of John's unique Christology and theological emphases.  Chapter 6, "John's Characters and the Rhetoric of Misunderstanding" (96-122), follows closely on the heels of the previous chapter and also demonstrates Skinner's expertise as he provides a mini-primer on narrative criticism and characterization. Helpfully, Skinner helps the reader by fleshing out what this looks like when he uses Peter, the misunderstanding character par excellence of the Fourth Gospel (102-121). This reviewer learned much from this chapter, one such example (112-113) being the verbal connection where Peter is warming himself by the fire in the courtyard of the high priest along with slaves and guards, stating that Peter "was with them" (John 18:8b), the same phrase used of Judas among the arresting party of Jesus in 18:5. The implication being, of course, that the narrator expects the reader/hearer to make the connection between Judas and Peter as the preeminent examples of Jesus' betrayers.

Chapter 7, "Putting the Pieces Together: Reading John 3:1-21,"(123-142) provides the reader with a working synthesis of the material Skinner has presented in chapters 1-6. Again, Skinner's skill as a scholar and more importantly, a teacher, come to the fore here making this an ideal text for students of all ages. Wisely choosing the rich story of Nicodemus' encounter with Jesus, the author is able to pull all the strands of themes present in the previous chapters. The reader gets to see how the Prologue, the theme of irony and misunderstanding work themselves out in this narrative unit.

Last, but not least, Skinner briefly addresses the challenges if reading John theologically in chapter 8, "Postscript: Reading John Theologically?" (143-146). To read John theologically, Skinner notes that the intersection of three axes needs to be kept in the forefront of any theological interpretation of the Fourth Gospel (143). One, John's own first-century cultural context, two, major concerns, iterations of Christianity throughout the centuries, and three, the cultural contexts of contemporary readers (143). Skinner notes that the dualistic worldview of the Fourth Gospel makes theological interpretation difficult but not impossible as he encourages "a move forward with an imagination worthy of John's theological vision and a sensitivity to the frailty of the human experience" (145).

In sum, Skinner has provided the beginning student with a first-rate introduction to John's Gospel. It does not end with the student, however, as he has also provided the teacher of the Fourth Gospel a handy, convenient, intro that keeps both teacher and student engaged, no easy feat, but Skinner is up to the task. Reading John has me chomping at the bit to teach the Gospel again and I have a feeling I will be using it as the required text for the foreseeable future.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

An Intriguing Forthcoming Paul Book

In the fall, November, to be precise, will mark the release of a book that all students and scholars of Paul should be made aware. A. Chadwick Thornhill's The Chosen People Election, Paul and Second Temple Judaism, a revision of a doctoral thesis written at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, will be published by InterVarsity Press.

Here reads the description:

One of the central touchstones of Second Temple Judaism is election. The Jews considered themselves a people set apart for God’s special purpose. So it is not surprising that this concept plays such an important role in Pauline theology. In this careful and provocative study, Chad Thornhill considers how Second Temple understandings of election influenced key Pauline texts. Thornhill seeks to establish the thought patterns of the ancient texts regarding election, with sensitivity to social, historical and literary factors. He carefully considers questions of "extent" (ethnic/national or remnant), the relationship to the individual (corporate or individual in focus), and the relationship to salvation (divine/human agency and the presence of "conditions"). Thornhill looks at the markers or conditions that defined various groups, and considers whether election was viewed by ancient authors as merited, given graciously or both. Thorough and measured, the author contends that individual election is not usually associated with a "soteriological" status but rather with the quality of the individual (or sometimes group) in view—the collective entity is in view in the Jewish notion of election. While Paul is certainly able to move beyond these categories, Thornhill shows how he too follows these patterns.

Here are the endorsements:

In what may be the best book yet written on early Jewish and Christian concepts of election, Chad Thornhill provides clear and compelling evidence for the view that election in early Jewish and Christian circles was both corporate and conditional, and that the focus of election language was not on the salvation of particular individuals from before the foundations of the world. In short, election and salvation were not synonymous terms in either early Judaism or the writings of Paul. Thornhill covers a wide swath of early Jewish material and convincingly situates Paul's discussion—especially Rom 9–11—within it. Thornhill's careful and compelling exposition should be a game changer in the age-old battles over the relationship of God's unconditional love and choice of a people and the issue of human freedom when it comes to the matter of individual salvation—Ben Witherington III, Jean R. Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary

The welcome emphasis on Jewish backgrounds that now permeates the field of New Testament scholarship has rekindled a number of traditional discussions surrounding Pauline theology. Among the most illuminating developments is a renewed interest in the notion of corporate election. Based on evidence from the Old Testament and Second Temple Jewish literature, many scholars now insist that the time-worn debate over the relative importance of divine sovereignty versus human responsibility in God's salvific economy must be reframed in collectivist—rather than individualist—terms. The challenge, of course, is to appropriate these background materials in a way that (1) makes sense of the particularity of Paul's social location while (2) still supporting a close reading of the apostle's letters. Chad Thornhill's book is a welcome contribution to the conversation on both counts. Thornill thoroughly surveys Second Temple Jewish thinking about election and then interprets key Pauline texts against this background. Those interested in a fresh and intriguing solution to a familiar theological puzzle will find much to think about in these well-written pages.—Joe Hellerman, professor of New Testament language and literature, Talbot School of Theology 

The book will retail for $35 and will weigh in at 336 pages.

In addition, Thornhill has a website, which includes his original dissertation, To the Jew First: A Socio-Historical and Biblical-Theological Analysis of the Pauline Teaching of ‘Election’ in Light of Second Temple Jewish Patterns of Thought.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Johan Christiaan Beker and the Quote of the Day

I found this quote by the great New Testament scholar, Johan Christiaan Beker, both timely and sobering, especially in light of the events of the past week:

It seems to me that, above all else, personal integrity is the necessary condition for the whole theological enterprise. Integration without integrity degenerates into a facile communal consensus; the exploration of the New Testament text without integrity leads to surrendering the truth of the text. Without personal integrity, the student and pastor will sell out either to an opportunistic hermeneutic that looks for ways to satisfy the demands of the marketplace, or to a anachronistic, fundamentalistic hermeneutic that lacks the courage to adapt the text to the current concerns of the world. Integrity requires the courage to be controversial, to face conflict whenever the gospel demands it ("Integration and Integrity in New Testament Studies"; Christian Century, 109 (17); 1992; 515-17, here, 517).

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Thomas Boomershine and the Quote of the Day

Thomas E. Boomershine, Professor Emeritus of New Testament and of Christianity and Communications at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, has a fantastic quote in his new book, The Messiah of Peace: A Performance-Criticism Commentary on Mark's Passion-Resurrection Narrative (Cascade) on the importance of hearing a story performed orally and what is missed by the modern practice of silent reading and the distance of the reader from the narrative.

He states:
One of the reasons why hearing the story rather than reading it in silence makes a difference is that the storyteller narrates the events and the words of the characters in a tone communicating more than factual information, and draws listeners into identification with characters who may be outwardly different. Full engagement with sympathetic identification with the characters of the story is fully possible also with silent reading if readers are attentive to and psychologically open to the clues to the storyteller's invitation. But if readers maintain a high degree of psychological distance in the reading of the story, its actually meaning can become virtually the opposite of the intended meaning, communicated inherently in the structure of the story. The source of that distance, therefore, may be a change either in the self-identity of the listener( from identifying oneself in the post-war first century as Hellenistic Judean to identifying oneself in the post-Nicea fourth century as a Christian) or in the psychological distance to the story(sympathetic hearing to critical silent reading) or both in combination. But, regardless of the cause of this shift, the story can undergo a radical transformation in its meaning. Thus, the story of the man and the woman in the garden can change, especially for male readers and theologians, fro meaning 'we violated God's covenant and our effort to blame it on the woman is a joke' to 'the woman violated God's covenant.' Likewise in Mark's story, the meaning of the story, especially for later Christians who did not identify themselves as Jews, can shift from 'we were involved in the death of the Messiah' to 'the Jews killed Jesus.' (30; italics original)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Rodney Whitacre Resources

Rodney Whitacre, professor emeritus of biblical studies at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, best known for his John in the IVP New Testament Commentary, and his A Patristic Greek Reader is on the verge of another major publication, Using and Enjoying Biblical Greek Reading the New Testament with Fluency and Devotion.  Whitacre's latest publication will be a must-have for students of the Greek New Testament, as his deliberate approach to reading Greek should find a wide audience eager to attempt a new approach at reading facility in the Greek NT.

In addition, I also discovered on Whitacre's webpage, many useful resources, and a free class on Revelation, entitled "The Gospel in the Book of Revelation".

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Supplemental Resources for 'Four Portraits One Jesus'

Over eight years ago (man, time flies!), I recommended Mark Strauss' Four Portraits, One Jesus, as a premier textbook that covers both the gospels and  Historical Jesus research as well as any introductory text that money could buy. I have not altered my view in the ensuing years, as I believe Strauss does a wonderful job of addressing a myriad of issues lucidly for the beginning student.

Sample Page of laminated sheet
I am delighted to say that the best is now even better, as supplementary resources have been added to the textbook, including a laminated sheet, encapsulating and distilling the most important information of  each chapter of Four Portraits, as well as a workbook, which expands on the questions and exercises found in the main text at the end of each chapter.

Sample worksheet exercise
Moreover, slated for a July release, Four Portraits will also include video lectures by Strauss. Those who wish to simulate a seminary classroom experience can take advantage of this unique opportunity and learn from one of the prominent Evangelical Gospels and Historical Jesus scholars in the world (I will have a follow-up to this post when the videos release).

Zondervan Academic continues to set the bar for high quality in both content as well as aesthetic beauty, in that readers who purchase Strauss' Four Portraits  and related material, will not only receive materials that are sensibly organized, full of valuable content, but will also receive content that is beautiful, a pleasure to actually take up and read! Zondervan Academic understands perhaps better than any publisher that content and beauty are two sides of the same coin and Four Portraits is no exception.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Story Worth Telling: A Brief Review and Recommendation

Followers of this blog will note that I rarely digress from anything other New Testament-related posts. In this particular case, I am making an exception. This is not to say that this book does not have plenty of New Testament-related material, but the focus is more on the praxis of belief than a theological/exegetical book proper. The author also happens to be my brother-in-law and I have had more than one discussion with him regarding the contents of this book.

Bill Blankschaen's new volume, A Story Worth Telling: A Field Guide to Living an Authentic Life (Abingdon Press, 2015), is a needed corrective to misguided notions of what it means to live a life of faith. According to Blankschaen, "Faith is doing what you believe to be true, often in spite of what you see, sense, or feel" (9). Further, Blankschaen helpfully stresses that believing/seeing are not antithetical aspects of having faith. If what we believe is true, than what we experience will line up with what we believe most of the time. Living a life of faith means having a story that is worth telling.

We all have stories, but most of us cling securely to the mundane of everyday life. Very few of us welcome change, most of us resist it. If you want to cling to your current situation, Bill's book should be one you ignore on the bookshelf. If, however, you are restless and feel like you are "simply existing" and your God-given gifts are lying dormant (13), A Story Worth Telling is a book that will provide a sure-footed guide in changing the course of your life story.

I have made my way through one-third of Bill's book and I already feel conviction in how I view almost every aspect of my life. To realize I need to take a personal inventory is in no small part due to this book. I recommend it highly to those of us who have been spinning our wheels and neglecting the gifts God has bestowed upon us.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

William R. Telford's Tribute to Raymond E. Brown

William R. Telford, Visiting Fellow, St. John's College, Durham University, has been kind enough to share his recollections on Father Raymond E. Brown, which can be found on the "Recollections of Ray" page here. Also, Dr. Telford was kind enough to share a picture of Fr. Ray from his own private collection which can be viewed here.

Many thanks to Dr. Telford for taking the time to contribute to the site.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Luke Timothy Johnson's The Revelatory Body

Slated for a September release date marks another book from the prolific pen of Luke Timothy Johnson, R.W. Woodruff Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Emory University, Candler School of Theology. The volume, The Revelatory Body, addresses the oft-neglected theme in theology, namely, the physical body.

Here is the description:

Argues that theology can respond faithfully to the living God only by paying due attention to human bodily experience Scripture points to the human body and lived experience as the privileged arena of God's self-disclosure in the world, says Luke Timothy Johnson. Attention to both ordinary and extraordinary manifestations of the Holy Spirit in and through the body is essential for theology to recover its nature as an inductive art rather than a deductive science and to serve as an expression and articulation of authentic faith in the living God. Willingness to risk engaging actual human situations — rather than abstract conceptualizations about those situations — is required of the theologian, Johnson argues. In The Revelatory Body he celebrates human experiences of activity, pleasure, pain, weariness, and aging, showing how theology might be enlivened through careful attention to the ways in which these bodily experiences disclose the movements of the Holy Spirit.

Fortunately, thanks to a Lenten lecture series recently delivered at The Cathedral of St. Philip's in Atlanta, Johnson offers a sneak preview of his forthcoming work. The five-part series can be accessed here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Quick Plug: Christopher Skinner's Reading John

Once in awhile a book comes along that is not only a good read, but simultaneously proves itself to be eminently useful. Such a book is to be found in Christopher Skinner's Reading John in the Cascade Companion Series.

Although I have yet to finish the little volume yet (152 pages), I have read enough to stand by the above statement . Skinner has achieved a rarity in this book; he writes a primer of the Fourth Gospel aimed directly for students. This is no small feat, as I have read many works supposedly geared for students, which end up overestimating the target audience with dense prose, scholarly jargon, and technical discussions that rarely break down for the audience for whom the work is directed. Skinner avoids these missteps, presenting a well-rounded introduction to John, while only using technical jargon where it is unavoidable.

I cannot say enough about this little gem of a book, and I will be saying more in subsequent posts. For my part, I cannot wait to teach John's Gospel again, and Skinner's Reading John will undoubtedly be my teaching textbook of choice.