Saturday, May 31, 2008

Paul's Jewishness and Christian Identity: Call or Conversion?

Donald Hagner's essay "Paul as a Jewish Believer--According to His Letters" (Jewish Believers in Jesus) discussed Paul's continuity with his ancestral faith and his discontinuity with that same faith in his new Christian identity.

Hagner addresses firstly the age-old debate on whether it is more accurate to speak of Paul's new Christian identity as a call or a conversion (101-102). Hagner astutely points out that if one speaks of Paul's encounter with the risen Lord as a 'call' displays continuity with Judaism, while Paul's 'conversion' emphasizes a break with Judaism.

One of the strengths of Hagner's overall treatment in this essay is on display here. He avoids easy solutions to this complex situation and posits, rightly in my view, that both 'call' and 'conversion' are both true and to separate them is to create an 'artificial dichotomy' (101).
Hagner points out that for Paul using the term "called" locates his experience as akin to the prophets calling (e.g. Isa 49.1; Jer 1.5; cf. Gal 1.15-16; Rom 1.1; 102). Christianity for Paul is not a change from one religion to the other, but rather is the fulfillment of his Jewish faith.

'Conversion' is also an apt description of Paul's experience, in that there exists a dramatic enough shift in Paul's perspective on Judaism to render his experience in this manner. As Hagner demonstrates, Paul speaks of his life in Judaism as something he left behind (e.g. Gal 1.13-14; Phil 3.7-9). Hagner ends this section stating:

There is sufficient discontinuity in this shift in allegiance from Torah to Christ to warrant speaking also of a conversion of Paul. Paul has not changed religions, but he now has a new center--the crucified and resurrected Messiah, who has inaugurated a new era in salvation history and brought a new dynamic to his existence. He could no longer felt comfortable in his former Judaism. (102)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Paul's Jewishness: Continuity, Discontinuity or Both? Introduction

I have been perusing the excellent Jewish Believers in Jesus and in particular Donald Hagner's excellent essay "Paul as a Jewish Believer-According to His Letters."

Here is what he says regarding the move in scholarship to emphasize Paul's Jewishness:

This rediscovery of the full Jewishness of Paul was paralleled by the earlier rediscovery of the Jewishness of Jesus, led too by Jewish scholars, but now commonplace among the Gentile scholars. ....The entire trend is salutary in that it gives heed to the fully Jewish character of our New Testament and of the Christian faith of its authors. But the subject is often pursued in such a manner as to ignore or downplay the discontinuities caused by the dramatic newness of Christianity itself. Contrary to the frequently heard claim, the Christianity of the New Testament is not simply reformed Judaism or a Judaism applied to Gentiles. The tensions and discontinuities between Judaism and Christianity should not be swept under the carpet even for the good motive of wanting to avoid anti-Semitism, as important as that is.

Yes, Paul is fully Jewish and his Christianity is characterized by great continuities with Judaism. At the same time, however, a close reading of Paul...points also to striking discontinuities which must not be minimized. The issues are complex and a fairness to all the data necessitates complex conclusions. But to be stressed here is that if we disallow the complexity, and in reductionist fashion explain Paul solely in terms of continuity, we will misrepresent Paul.

I hope to post more on this essay in days to come.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Yung Suk Kim's "Christ's Body in Corinth" and Website

I have been tracking Yung Suk Kim's forthcoming Christ's Body in Corinth:The Politics of a Metaphor for some time now.

Here is the blurb: Plus check out the cool cover! »

Yung Suk Kim takes up the language of "body" that infuses 1 Corinthians, Paul's most complicated letter, and the letter that provides us the most information, and poses the sharpest questions, about social realities in the early church. Kim argues against the view that in speaking of the church as Christ's body Paul seeks to emphasize unity and the social boundary. Against the conventional rhetoric of the "body politic" in Greco-Roman philosophy, Kim argues that Paul seeks rather to nourish the vitality of a diverse community and to criticize the ideology of a powerful in-group in Corinth, a message of
particular importance for contemporary global Christianity.

In addition, Kim has a really nice webpage that can be found here.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Would You Like to Sing New Testament Greek? An Interview with Ken Berding

(Many thanks to Jesse Hillman of Zondervan Academic for sending me a copy of this CD.)

Ken Berding, associate professor of New Testament at Talbot School of Theology of Biola University, has recently published his innovative method of learning New Testament Greek with Sing and Learn New Testament Greek: The Easiest Way to Learn Greek Grammar from Zondervan. As one who has some experience in teaching New Testament Greek and always concerned with ways in taking the rust off when reading my Greek NT, I was intrigued to get some thoughts from Ken about this publication. Here is the interview:

1) In my brief experience teaching Greek, the most often asked question was "Is there an easier way to learn this?" I always told the student to use all of their senses. Did that question or similar questions inspire you to put Greek paradigms to music?

Yes, ease of learning was one of my two main motivations in producing these songs. I wanted Greek students to be able to learn the necessary memorized portions of Greek grammar more easily. I won’t forget the agony I experienced during my first year of learning Greek. We had to rote-memorize more than 50 paradigms! I would pace back and forth, chant out loud, kick walls, and even once hit my head against a wall in the attempt to get those 50 paradigms to stick in my memory. So, yes, one of my main motivations was to make it easier to learn. But what drove me even harder was the hope that learners of Greek (myself included) would actually remember what they learned over the long haul. What good is it if you pass a class but end up not being able to actually read Greek and use it in your ministry?

2) Can you explain the advantage of learning this way compared to the traditional method of rote memorization?

First of all, learning grammar through music is much (much!) easier. And singing through the shorter songs a few dozen times is adequate for them to begin to stick in your head. The longer songs will take longer. But in all cases, the main thing you have to do with this method is simply to sing the songs. Furthermore, you can pop the CD into your CD player or your computer, or download the music onto your mp3 player and listen on the go. In this way you can maximize your time and learn while you are driving, walking, or even writing a term paper(!). But, again, the most important feature of using music-for-learning is that you will remember what you have learned for a very long time. Think of all the musical slogans that you can still remember from television commercials you heard during your childhood. Nothing (nothing!) sticks in your head better than material learned through music.

3) In the booklet of Sing and Learn New Testament Greek, you mention that learning the songs shortens the 'conceptual distance' when recognizing the
form(s) one is reading in the Greek New Testament (5). Can you elaborate on this point?

Let’s say that you are reading in your Greek New Testament and you encounter a word you think is a verb and thus decide to try to parse it (that is, you want to label its person, number, tense, voice, mood, and lexical form). Sing (or chant) quickly through the Indicative Verb Song—which takes about 10 seconds once you know it well—and correlate the ending you see on the verb with the ending you find as you sing or chant through the song. Contrast this with the paradigm approach in which you have to guess which paradigm is the appropriate paradigm and then try to think through it to find the ending. Then, if you have not chosen the correct paradigm, you have to try another…and then another…and then another until you happen upon the right one (that is, if you actually remember the needed paradigms!). But since all of this information is organized into a single short song, you can more easily move from what you see to your analysis and translation of what you see. And in the midst of the process, you actually remember the songs. Actually, these songs get so stuck in your head that you will sometimes wish you could get rid of them!

4) Talk about your experience of having to learn Greek twice and how this project has taken form over the years.

I earned a minor in Greek at Multnomah School of the Bible (now Multnomah University) in Portland, Oregon, a school which has always had a stellar reputation for its biblical language instruction. I worked hard, learned a lot of Greek, and graduated from the program with honors. (Actually, during one of my years in the program, we had to read through the entire New Testament in Greek—except for Matthew—all in a one year period….90 verses a class period, three days a week for a year!) The following year after I graduated, I read a second time through the entire NT in Greek on my own.

Shortly thereafter, my wife and I moved to Turkey and embarked on full-time study of modern Turkish. But Turkish is hard, and we had to put a lot of effort into learning it. Despite this, during my first year and a half of learning Turkish, I kept reading in Greek, and subsequently read through the entire NT for a third time. But I finally came a point where I had to stop reading Greek just so I could get over the hump of learning Turkish. I did get over that hump (and comfortably speak Turkish today), but I lost a lot of my basic Greek reading and parsing skills in the meantime. So a few years later—once Turkish was quite settled in my mind—I came back to Greek, determined this time to find a way through basic Greek grammar that I would not forget. Since I knew very well what lay ahead in Greek, I decided that as I relearned it I would develop a strategy that would both allow me to remember it myself and to teach others how to learn it as well. I spent the next fourteen years developing songs that would cover basic Greek grammar, with the aim of always making it simpler….simpler….simpler…

5) You stress in the booklet that this CD is not for the 'linguistically particular" (5). Have you faced opposition in the guild for your approach or has the support been more positive in nature?

So far I have faced only support from the New Testament guild for these grammar songs, though the product has just appeared on the market. Actually, I regularly receive encouraging notes and notes of appreciation for these songs from those in the “guild.”

My comment about the “linguistically particular” was a nod to the purists who spend their time figuring out the particularities of how certain forms developed in the history of the Greek language. We owe a debt of gratitude to those scholars who spend years in their studies figuring out the intricacies of the Greek language. But the reality is that most of us (that is, we mere mortals) are learning Hellenistic Greek because we want to be able to read the New Testament. We don’t really care how a word got into the form in which it appears in the NT; we just want to recognize it when we see it. So the forms that I employed in these songs only include the forms as they appear in the words of the NT.

6) What is a realistic time frame for the student to be able to memorize these songs?

I think it is realistic to think that a student can learn the shortest songs (like the Article Song, the Infinitive Song, or the Imperative Song) by repeatedly singing them a few dozen times. That is, a person should know his or her way around the shorter charts within a half-hour of beginning to memorize them. The longer songs like the Participles Song or the Indicative Verb Endings Song may take a hundred or more repetitions to really get down. (Plus, you have to learn the non-Greek material that is on the chart to be able to use it for parsing.) Still, after a couple hours of work on even the longest song, you will know a majority of what you need to know for a given area of Greek grammar. Again, the most important thing is not simply that you learn some material for a quiz you may be facing the next day, but that you still know what you have learned three months—or three years—later. These songs are a huge step toward that goal.

7) How do you foresee your CD being used in seminaries, universities, and even churches?

Since this approach simplifies the process considerably, my hope is that it will increase people’s interest in learning Greek. I anticipate that non-biblical studies majors in colleges and universities will increasingly choose to study biblical Greek as their foreign language. I anticipate that the dread that so often accompanies learning Greek at seminaries around the world will be lessened as students discover that they can learn grammar through music. I anticipate that there will be more smiles on seminarians’ faces, and that regular laughing will emerge from the classrooms in which these songs are sung. (Some of these songs will definitely make you laugh! But who ever said that language learning can’t be fun?) Finally, I anticipate that increasing numbers of churches will begin teaching Greek to their members since finally(!) there is a simpler way for people to make their way through the traditionally daunting Black Forest known as Greek grammar.

8) Finally, tell us about some other current/future projects you have lined up.

I have two more large projects coming out this year. I am co-editor (and author of chapters) for both projects.

What The New Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Their Writings (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2008). Co-editor with Matt Williams.

Matt Williams and I have gathered together fifteen of the finest undergraduate New Testament professors from twelve Christian colleges and universities across North America to write sections in a New Testament introduction that focuses on the central concerns of the New Testament authors. It will be out early in the summer of 2008.


Three Views on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008). Co-editor with Jonathan Lunde.

One of the hottest areas of discussion in the New Testament right now is the way in which New Testament authors use the Old Testament. My co-editor and I have discerned three distinct evangelical approaches to the question of how the New Testament authors employ the Old Testament. We are blessed to have three leading biblical scholars contributing chapters (and responses to each other) on this topic. Walter Kaiser, Jr. represents the “Single Meaning, Unified Referents” approach; Darrell Bock represents the “Single Meaning, Multiple Contexts and Referents” approach; and Peter Enns represents the “Fuller Meaning, Single Goal” approach. This book will come out in the Fall of 2008.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Don Garlington's Galatians Commentary

Some time ago on my old blog ,I posted that Don Garlington's Galatians commentary was available online. However, when the commentary was published by Wipf and Stock, the free commentary was pulled. Well, never fear! The commentary is available again; this time in abridged form. Here is the link.

Thanks to Mark Mattison at the Paul Page for this notice.

Caesar's Bust is a Bust! (Well Maybe!)

Maybe the title of this post is a bit strong, but there is a growing perhaps immediate skepticism concerning the supposed oldest find of Caesar's bust.

The journalist and scholar in me should have known better and I thank Jeremy O'Clair for pointing me to a couple of websites (i.e. Mary Beard's and Rogue Classicism). It seems that the French Ministry of Culture maybe too quick in identifying this bust as Caesar's when it has been pointed out by the FMOC that the bust is "typical of the realistic portraits of the Republican era," and as rogue classicism points out that the bust does not even look like Julius Caesar!

Perhaps Rick Darby states it best:

Still, there is such a thing as intellectual honesty. Or humility in the face of what can't be known for sure. Even government culture ministries — no; especially government culture ministries — ought to keep to the straight and narrow and leave sensationalism to the tabloids.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Oldest Bust of Julius Caesar Found

Here is a story I ran across this morning that might be of some interest:

Divers Find Ancient Bust of Caesar
Posted: 2008-05-13 22:29:27
Filed Under:
World News
PARIS (May 13) - Divers trained in archaeology discovered a marble bust of an aging Caesar in the Rhone River that France's Culture Ministry said Tuesday could be the oldest known.

Divers found this life-size marble bust of Julius Caesar in the Rhone River. It could be the oldest image of the Roman ruler, the French Culture Ministry said Tuesday. Experts dated the statue to 46 B.C. They said the divers found more treasures in the river, including a marble statue of the god Neptune. Click through the gallery for more achaeological finds.
The life-size bust showing the Roman ruler with wrinkles and hollows in his face is tentatively dated to 46 B.C. Divers uncovered the Caesar bust and a collection of other finds in the Rhone near the town of Arles -- founded by Caesar.Among other items in the treasure trove of ancient objects is a 5.9-foot marble statue of Neptune, dated to the first decade of the third century after Christ.Two smaller statues, both in bronze and measuring 27.5 inches each also were found, one of them, a satyr with his hands tied behind his back, "doubtless" originated in Hellenic Greece, the ministry said."Some (of the discoveries) are unique in Europe," Culture Minister Christine Albanel said. "The bust of Caesar is in a class by itself."This marble bust of the founder of the Roman city of Arles constitutes the most ancient representation known today of Caesar," the ministry statement said, adding that it "undoubtedly" dates to the creation of Arles in 46 B.C.Among other things, researchers are trying to uncover "in what context these statues were thrown into the river," said Michel L'Hour, who heads the Department of Subaquatic Archaeological Research, whose divers made the discovery between September and October 2007.The site "has barely been skimmed," L'Hour told The Associated Press, adding that a new search operation will begin this summer.He said the Arles region, in the Provence region of southern France, with its Roman beginnings, and the Rhone are "propitious" for discoveries.Albanel called the find "exceptional" and said that the Caesar bust is "the oldest representation known today" of the emperor.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2008-05-13 21:47:18

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Schreiner's NT Theology: I received my copy!

As many of you know and have been discussing in the biblioblogosphere, Tom Schreiner's NT Theology is on the way.

Today I got home to find a package awaiting me--Tom's NT Theology!

I was very fortunate in that I was able to contribute to this project, albeit, in a small way. I compiled the author and Scripture indices that comprised close to 60 pages in the final form (936-983)! Admittedly, there were times when I thought, "What did I just get myself into?", but if you have ever had the chance to meet Tom you would understand that the countless hours were well worth it.

Tom is not only a great and prolific scholar, but he is hands down one of the nicest, most humble human beings I will ever meet. I look forward to seeing his work bring glory to God through Christ!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Book Review of Jesus as the Fulfillment of the Temple in the Gospel of John

Paul M. Hoskins, Jesus as the Fulfillment of the Temple in the Gospel of John, Paternoster Biblical Monographs. Waynesboro, GA: Paternoster, 2006. xiv + 265pp. $35.00. Paper.

(Many thanks to James Stock from Wipf and Stock for sending me a review copy!)

Paul M. Hoskins, currently Assistant Professor of New Testament at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, has produced an immanently readable revison of his doctoral dissertation originally written at Trinity Evangelical under the supervision of D.A. Carson.

Hoskins aims in this volume are twofold. First, he seeks to "examine John's portayal of Jesus as the fulfillment and replacement of the Temple," and secondly, "to explore the possibility that the relationship between Jesus and the Temple may properly be described as typological." (2)

Maybe Hoskins biggest contribution in this work is located in his second objective, namely his methodological use of typology (18-36). Hoskins notes that two conceptions of typology exist in biblical scholarship, firstly, "the New Testament antitype fulfills and surpasses the patterns and predictions associated with the Old Testament type and in doing so takes the place of the type."(23) For those who hold to a historical-critical methodology, this view presents a 'hermeneutical dilemma' Hoskins notes, due to the fact that Old Testament authors were not aware of what they were predicting (23). Hoskins, helpfully describes a more canonical view of authorship, which posits God as Scripture's ultimate author (24-27).

The second conception of typology Hoskins describes places "particular emphasis upon the biblical authors' belief in 'the constant principles of God's working.'" (27) In this view, God works according to certain patterns in both the Old and New Testament, while minimizing the prospective view of Old Testament types. Hoskins opts for a more nuanced use of typology, citing Richard Davidson's Typology in Scripture: A Study of Hermeneutical ΤΥΠΟΣ Structures, which focuses "upon the use of typology found in the New Testament" allowing for interaction with proponents of both primary conceptions of typology "based upon how their conceptions match up with New Testament authors." (32)

In Chapter 2 Hoskins considers the history and significance of the temple in both the Old Testament and Second Temple literature (38-107). After reviewing the evidence, Hoskins concludes that the Temple as a divinely established institution for Israel was in a constant state of development with an expectation for a new, eternal Temple in Israel's hope for the future (107).

Chapter 3 (108-146) analyzes the four most frequently cited texts for Jesus as the replacement of the Temple in John's Gospel (1:14; 1:51; 2:18-22; 4:20-24). Hoskins concludes that in John 1:14 and 1:51 that Jesus is presented as the replacement and fulfillment of both the tabernacle and the Temple (1:14) and as the replacement of Bethel, the Tabernacle and Temple where God reveals himself to his people (1:51; 145). Hoskins astutely points out that Jesus is not "merely analogous to the holy places that preceded him; rather he fulfills these holy places as the greater Temple to which they pointed." (146) John 4:20-24 indicates that Jesus is now the loci for worship and John 2:18-22 hints at Jesus' replacement of the Temple not merely being relegated to the above mentioned texts, as Jesus' death, resurrection, and exaltation point to something further.

Chapter 4 (147-181), builds on the observations of the previous chapter, demonstrating the relationship established in the Gospel of John between the Temple and the Jewish feasts and the provision Jesus brings in his death, resurrection, and exaltation. For Hoskins, the language of lifting up and glorification marks Jesus' death/resurrection/exaltation "as the decisive event whereby God reveals himself for judgment and salvation." (181) Jesus' 'lifting up' and glorification demonstrates that as the 'true Temple' he inaugurates the age of salvation whereby God's people and the nations are gathered and provided for. Jesus is also the exemplar par excellence of the Jewish Feasts that took place in the Temple, whereby "he fulfills and replaces it as the place in and from which God pours out his abundant provision upon his people." (181)
Chapter 5 (182-193) discusses how Jesus fulfills and replaces the Temple. Here, Hoskins is at his best, describing the relationship as typological, returning at points to chapter one where the methodological framework for this study was put in place. This relationship is delineated in three major ways. First, the Old Testament type is institutional. Secondly, significant correspondence exists between the type and the antitype. Thirdly, movement from the type to the antitype is progressive in nature, with the antitype surpassing the type. (185) Hoskins rightly demonstrates that John's Gospel presents Jesus' relationship with the Temple as predictive in nature (e.g. John 1:45; 5:46; esp. John 19:36; 186-188). Hoskins also correctly notes that measures of continuity and discontinuity exist in John's presentation of Jesus vis-à-vis the Temple and other institutions (189). Terms such as 'fulfillment' and 'replacement' create too much ambiguity to be useful, that is why 'typological' explains the relationship more accurately (190-191).
Chapter 6 recapitulates the previous five chapters (194-197); Temple typology in the rest of the New Testament is discussed (197-201), and finally, further suggestions for typological study in the Fourth Gospel are discussed (i.e. Jacob, Israel, David, Sabbath, etc.; 202-203).
Hoskins writes clearly and his discussion of typology alone would make this an invaluable study. Further, his careful exegesis of key texts are marked with a scholarly maturity that surpasses most revised dissertations. Johannine and New Testament students in general should find plenty here with which to enjoy, critique and reflect.