Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My Day with Ed Freed Part I

Over a year ago, I began a correspondence with Edwin ("Ed")  D. Freed, Emeritus Professor of Religion, Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania.  The correspondence began due to my interest in Ed's fabulous book, Lincoln's Political Ambitions, Slavery and the Bible (Wipf and Stock, 2012).

Freed's work argues the opposite of what the majority of Lincoln scholars have concluded regarding Lincoln's knowledge of the Bible, namely, that Lincoln's knowledge of Scripture was at best, superficial, and when used, it was for purely political ends. Freed
carefully attends to the words of Lincoln himself, rather than the myths that surrounded him, no doubt spurred on by his martyr- like death on Good Friday, April 14, 1865.

I, for one, am convinced of Ed's arguments, but unfortunately, Lincoln scholars remain mum regarding his contribution. Ed has personally remarked to me, both in emails and in person how frustrated he has become with this silence. I can only surmise that his careful work rocks the boats of the Lincoln scholarly community, who like most Lincoln admirers, myself included, would rather like to think that our greatest President had a vast knowledge of Scripture. But as Freed and some others note, Lincoln knowledge of the Shakespearean corpus  and his study of Euclid's Elements, were just two bodies of literature with which he was more intimately acquainted than the Bible.

Anyone who is serious about learning about the intellectual and spiritual life of our greatest President would do well in getting this book. More about my time with Ed will be shared in subsequent posts.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

C.K. Barrett on the Role of a Theologian

I have been reading C.K. Barrett's essay, "Theology in the World of Learning", where Barrett defends theology as an academic discipline and was impressed with this quote among many others:

C.K. Barrett (1917-2011)
 If the Church were simply identifiable with an institution, and truth with a credal formula, then indeed theology would cease to be an academic discipline, however learned theologians might be. So far as theologians do make these identifications, they exclude themselves from equal intellectual commerce with their colleagues in other disciplines. But no theologian is required by his subject-matter, by his own terms of reference, to do this. The Bible itself knows no handy, external method for distinguishing false prophets from true, and reminds its readers that we walk by faith, not by sight. It is this fact that compels the intelligent Christian, and in particular the professional theologian, to constant sifting, examination, revaluation. If he is too lazy, or too cowardly, to face this process, he not only abdicates his academic responsibility, he apostasizes from the faith. Apostasy is far more likely to come from failure to think than from excess of critical zeal. Theology, one might say, never is, but is always becoming (Italics mine).

C. K. Barrett, New Testament Essays (London: S.P.C.K, 1972), 154.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Jim West's photos of George Raymond Beasley-Murray

Having an online conversation with Jim West today concerning the fact that little photographic evidence of George R. Beasley-Murray, a giant of a NT scholar, exists, Jim was kind enough to dig through some photos he took of him in the late 80's when they were able to spend time together.

Here is one, to whet your appetite:

George R. Beasley-Murray at St. Paul's Cathedral from the private collection of Jim West; used with permission

For the rest of Jim's photos, click here ( I especially like the one of GR Beasley-Murray entering the famed Tyndale House).

Thursday, November 13, 2014

C.F.D. Moule and the 'Moulies'

The 'Moulies' at Robinson College, Cambridge; SNTS Meeting, 1988: (From left to right)
Back row: Graham Stanton, John C. O'Neill, Eugene Lemcio, Peter Richardson, Andrew Lincoln

Center row: Jimmy Dunn, C.F.D. Moule, Stephen Smalley, Robert Morgan

Front row: Max Turner, Margaret Thrall, Douglas de Lacey, A.J.M, [Sandy] Wedderburn, Carl Holladay

Recently, I have been in correspondence with Eugene (Gene) Lemcio, Professor Emeritus of New Testament, Seattle Pacific University. We have been discussing, among other things, his doktorvater, the great C.F.D. (Charlie) Moule. As many of you know, Moule is in my pantheon of all-time great NT scholars, so this correspondence has been a real treat.

Gene has been nice enough to send the above photo to me and given his permission to reproduce here on NT Perspectives, as it comes from his private collection. He refers to the pic as "The Moulies," a photo mostly made up of Charlie's former doctoral students at the SNTS (Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas) meeting in Cambridge, 1998.  I say 'mostly' Moule's former doctoral students, because Gene notified me that the exceptions in the photo are as follows:

Stephen Smalley and Robert Morgan were undergraduate students of Moule's, but were profoundly influenced by him and remained lifelong friends. Also, John O'Neill was a colleague in the Divinity faculty before he left for Edinburgh University.

It is striking when you see this many great NT scholars in one picture, and even more striking that the man of small stature, pictured in the middle, was a profound giant in all of their lives and no doubt, in many others.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

New Primer on the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis

It has been brought to my attention that there is a handy 45 page primer to give those of you a taste on the new and updated edition of the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (NIDNTT). In this primer are the following features:

1. Moisés Silva unmasks a big pitfall of some biblical dictionaries
2.  A handful of surprises about the meaning of "holy" in the NT — courtesy of Moisés Silva's "exegetical tour" of Hebrews 3:16
3. Investigations of the NT words for father, love, Jerusalem, and Hell
4. A pastor discovers some extraordinary claims in 1 Timothy 2:5-6 — the rare passage which calls Jesus "mediator" and "a ransom for many"

To get ahold of this free resource click here.

Friday, November 7, 2014

New Page Added to the Raymond E. Brown Site

I have decided to add a page to the Raymond Brown website entitled, "The Ongoing Legacy of Raymond E. Brown: News, Notes, and Miscellany." My friend, Paul Anderson, gets the proverbial tip of the hat for helping me come up with the title.

What prompted my decision to include another page are two publications, one, just off the presses, and the other, forthcoming, that evaluate the legacy of Raymond Brown's work in both The Gospel of John and the Johannine Epistles, quite possibly the work for which Fr. Brown was known best.

Click here to see these publications and the new page.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Colin Brown and the Quote of the Day

Colin Brown
At the conclusion of his masterful essay "Quest of the Historical Jesus" (DJG, second ed.; 718-756), Colin Brown, Senior Professor of Systematic Theology, Fuller Seminary, offers an equally masterful conclusion when he writes:

There are many questions that we may put to the Gospels, but the most searching questions are those that the Gospels put to us (Italics mine; 752).

To this, I offer a hearty 'Amen'. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Brief Book Notice on J.B. Lightfoot's The Acts of the Apostles

One of the more unique books that I have had the pleasure of receiving arrived on my doorstep this week. The Acts of the Apostles: A Newly Discovered Commentary (IVP Academic) by the legendary J.B. Lightfoot, has been compiled and edited by the capable hands of Ben Witherington and Todd Still.

The story of how Lightfoot's manuscripts were discovered by Witherington is worth the price of the book itself. I do not want to divulge many of the details, so please, go and pick up this book. If you are like me, and appreciate the giants on whose shoulders we have all had the privilege of standing, this book is a must.

Lightfoot's comments on the art of commentating are also a wonderful resource and timeless in his approach to hermeneutics.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Markus Barth's Lectures on Ephesians and Colossians

Markus Barth 1915-1994

After some laborious work, I have made available digitized versions of Markus Barth's lectures on Ephesians and Colossians, which were originally published in 1969 by Alba House Communications. As far as I can ascertain, these lectures are no longer available for sale, but if there is a copyright issue, I will gladly take the links down. Moreover, these lectures have appeared only on cassette and never in any digital format until now.

There is roughly over two hours of content here, and I have recorded them in WAVE format to ensure a higher quality sound.

M. Barth was probably most widely known for his work on these two so-called Captivity Epistles, culminating in commentaries in the Anchor (Yale) Bible Series.


UPDATE: After having the original files accessible through Drop Box, the files were rendered inaccessible due to the amount of traffic that said files were receiving.

I then took to the task of converting the WAVE formatted files converted to mp4 files and uploaded. With the help of my friend, Mark Goodacre, the files now have viable links for everyone to download once again.

Markus Barth Ephesians, Colossians Lecture 1

Markus Barth-Ephesians, Colossians Lecture 2

Markus Barth-Ephesians, Colossians Lecture 3

Markus Barth- Ephesians, Colossians Lecture 4

Markus Barth- Ephesians, Colossians Lecture 5

Markus Barth Ephesians, Colossians Lecture 6

Saturday, October 18, 2014

David deSilva's YouTube Channel

Many of you might already be aware of this, but David deSilva, Trustees Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek at Ashland Theological Seminary, has his own Youtube channel. Thus far, sixteen videos have appeared, including one, "Hearing the Whole of Paul's Good News," which will give those anticipating his Transformation: The Heart of Paul's Gospel, a foretaste of what that volume will be about.

Click here for David's channel.

Monday, October 13, 2014

C.F.D. Moule- Another Example of Humility

Humility is a great virtue in scholarship, or, for that matter, in any professional field. I am not talking about a false humility that paradoxically calls attention to itself in order to garner attention, i.e. a 'humble-brag.'

Recently, I posted some sterling words from G.B. Caird on this very subject. A contemporary of the great scholar, C.F.D. Moule, yet another giant of British N.T. scholarship in the 20th century, has some relevant words regarding a position of humility with his famous publication, An Idiom-Book of New Testament Greek.
C.F.D. Moule (1908-2007)

Moule comments in the original Preface (October, 1952) that he was invited by J.M. Creed to write a full grammar or syntax, but delays, distractions and the preference for studying idiom, produced this work, "an obviously incomplete idiom-book--an amateur's collection of specimens"(v.). Moule goes on to state: "My only hope  is that even with such limitations it may yet prove useful as a companion and supplement to the already existing commentaries" (v.).

Further Moule strikingly states: "If the present compilation makes any claim upon the attention of students, it will simply be as the work of a fellow-student who has seen something of what needs to be done but has not gone far towards the achievement" (v.).

And last, Moule expresses his gratitude to those who have plowed in this field before him:

"My indebtedness to those who have already written upon these matters is great, although not so great as it would have been if I had been faster and more diligent reader. In particular I am conscious of having done all too little reading of secular writings of the period, both literary and non-literary. But I here record my gratitude for so much of the works of the work of others as I have the capacity to receive" (vi).

Michael Gorman's Forthcoming Volume on Paul

My friend, Michael Gorman, the Raymond E. Brown Chair in Biblical Studies and Theology at St. Mary's Seminary and University in Baltimore, Maryland, has produced another book on Paul.

Becoming the Gospel: Paul, Participation, and Mission is slated for a late spring release (May, 2015). This will be Gorman's fourth book on Paul with Eerdmans publishing. Simply put, Gorman is one of my favorite authors and one of the best scholars on Paul in biblical scholarship today. I never fail to learn when I read Mike's work, and that is the highest compliment I can pay any scholar.

The book is 336 pages and will retail for $28.00.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Happy Birthday Markus Barth!

Markus Barth, perhaps one of the most underrated of the great New Testament scholars of the 20th century, no doubt due in no small part by the shadow cast by his father, Karl Barth, would have turned 99 today.

Markus Barth with wife, Rose Marie, ca. 1947
Markus Barth was born on October 6, 1915 in Safenwil, Switzerland. In 1947, he received his PhD in NT from the University of Göttingen and in 1953, accepted his first post in the United States, as he was invited to become visiting professor of New Testament at the Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. From there, Barth moved to the Federated Theological Faculty at the University of Chicago in 1955. In 1963, Barth moved once again, this time to become the professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Eleven years later, 1973, Barth was called back to his native Switzerland, where he served as professor of NT at the University of Basel until his passing in 1994.

M.Barth is probably best known for his magisterial two-volume commentary on Ephesians in the Anchor series. However, Barth also produced two other major commentaries that were published posthumously, both rounded off by Helmut Blanke, those of Colossians (Anchor) and Philemon (ECC). In addition, Barth, perhaps more than any other NT scholar of his generation, took great pains to foster conversation between Christians and Jews. His seminal articles, "What can a Jew Believe about Jesus--and Still Remain a Jew?"(1965) and "Was Paul an Anti-Semite?" (1968), both appearing in the Journal of Eumenical Studies, were born out of lectures Barth delivered in Jewish synagogues. 

For more biographical information on M. Barth, click here and here

I will leave with this quote from M. Barth's Ephesians 1-3 on his role of interpreter:

To interpret part of the Bible is to have a conversation with its author--whether or not his name his known--and to participate in the dialogues which informed him and stirred up by him. An exegete listens and responds above all to the Bible itself. He realizes that this voice also reflects whispers and thunders heard in the culture of the ancient world and that it has produced many echoes during the almost two thousand-year history of the synagogue and church. In turn, the expositor is surrounded and influenced by noises and sounds produced in his own time. While he tries carefully to listen to the past, he also has to respond daringly in terms of the present world (Preface; ix).

P.S. Here is a post I wrote 4 years ago that feature M. Barth audio resources from 1970.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

George Caird and Humility

Hubris is is no short supply these days whether we are discussing politicians, athletes, celebrities, and yes, scholars of all stripes.

George B. Caird (1917-1984)
Might we all take a page from George B. Caird (1917-1984), formerly Dean Ireland's Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture at the University of Oxford? Caird was one of the greatest British New Testament scholars of the Twentieth Century along with such luminaries as Barrett, Dodd, Moule, Cranfield, etc. Caird also mentored and supervised such present day luminaries in NT scholarship such as N.T. Wright, the late L.D. Hurst, Marcus Borg, John Muddiman, Jeffrey Gibson and others. So if anyone could have an immense ego, it might well be George Bradford Caird.

That is why I was struck by what Caird writes in the Preface to perhaps the greatest work he produced during his lifetime, The Language and Imagery of the Bible. Consider what Caird says about his efforts in producing this book:

This is a book by an amateur, written for amateurs. Only an amatuer could undertake to write on such a subject, since one lifetime is too short for anyone to become an expert on more than one of the qualifying disciplines. For language is not the concern of the linguist alone, but of the literary critic, the psychologist, the anthropologist, the lawyer, the philosopher and the theologian as well. A prudent expert cultivates his own garden, not wasting time in looking over the fence at what his neighbours are doing. The amateur accepts cuttings from everyone, hoping they will take in his own soil. I have tried to find out what writers in all these fields have been saying, and I have made use of their ideas when they have caught my fancy. But is not my intention to trespass on the grounds of any of them. I am content to leave the Semitic philologist to grapple with the origins and affinities of Hebrew, the psychologist to discourse on the relation of words and mind, and the philosopher to investigate the truth of propositions and the mystical bond between words and the objects they denote. I am, if I may be allowed to adjust my metaphor, a walker on the common out of which they have carved their allotments. I offer to other wayfarers on the same path this guide to the things that they may catch their eye or their ear (Italics mine; vii). 

We would all do well to measure our contributions in such terms. If the great G.B. Caird can be this transparent, what is our excuse?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Seeing into the Future: David deSilva on Koester's Revelation

Many years ago, ten years ago to be more precise, I was sitting in David deSilva's office, marvelling at his bookshelves and in particular, his section on Revelation. I asked him: "What is the best commentary written on Revelation." His answer surprised me. "It hasn't come out yet." He expounded further: "Craig Koester's in the Anchor Bible series will be the best when it does come out. But, that is a long way off."

Fast forward ten years, and Koester's highly anticipated commentary is about to see the light of day, as it is slated for release on Sept. 30th.
Craig R. Koester
Since that conversation with deSilva, this has been the one commentary for which I have been eagerly awaiting. After all, with deSilva's blessing and his own contributions to scholarship on the Apocalypse, what better recommendation could there be?

Moreover, Koester's scholarship has always been outstanding, whether working on the Fourth Gospel, Hebrews, etc., one can always count on him for a high calibre contribution.

Unfortunately, many will want to wait to purchase Koester's contribution when it comes out in paperback, as Yale University Press has retailed the commentary at a whopping $125.00.

The good news is however, one can access many of the pages through Google Books in the meantime to get a flavor of this masterful work. I have already perused a good portion of the introductory matters and if these pages are any indication of what is to follow, deSilva's prediction will ring true.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Gordon Fee on Galatians 3:28: Quote of the Day

Gordon Fee
Perusing through Gordon Fee's Galatians commentary, I found some illuminating comments on the "ultimate Christian 'Magna Carta'", Galatians 3:28,  as Fee refers to it (142).

First the passage:

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, Slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Fee's translation; 135)

Here are some select quotes from the always insightful Fee:

It is therefore especially difficult for most of us to imagine the effect of Paul's words in a culture where position and status preserved order through basically uncrossable boundaries. Paul asserts that when people come into the fellowship of Christ Jesus, significance is no longer to be found in being Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female. The all-embracing nature of this affirmation, its counter-cultural significance, the fact that it equally disadvantages all by equally advantaging all--these stab at the very heart of a culture sustained by people's maintaining the right position and status. But in Christ Jesus, the One whose death and resurrection inaugurated the new creation, all things have become new; the new era has dawned.
...Second, "all of you are one." ...In Christ Jesus we no longer find our basic values in what differentiates people from one another, but in the unity that Christ alone can bring into our continuing diversity. It is one of the sad realities in the history of the church that so few of God's people have ever really caught on to what Paul is here asserting to be true: We are one people together, united in our common life in Christ (143-144; italics original)