Sunday, March 29, 2009

Forthcoming Titles From Baker Academic

Baker Academic has a number of interesting volumes due to debut in the fall (just in time again for SBL!)

1) Graham H. Twelftree; People of the Spirit: Exploring Luke's View of the Church: Baker Academic, (Sep. 09). Price:$24.99; ISBN-10: 0-8010-3880-4; 304 pp.

Today's church suffers a crisis of confidence as a result of pluralism, globalism, and postmodernity. Seasoned New Testament scholar Graham Twelftree's historical exploration of Luke's view of the church contributes to the current conversation about what the church is and should do. Twelftree draws together various strands in Luke's Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles to show Luke's profound influence on the church and explain Luke's thought regarding the church's origin, nature, purpose, and mission. A final chapter proposes Lukan conclusions to such debated questions as the relationship between church and salvation; the relationship between the Spirit, water baptism, and glossolalia in Christian initiation; the question of infant baptism; the character of worship; the interplay of Scripture and experience; church structure and leadership; and the nature of Christian mission.

2) Mark Allan Powell; Introducing the New Testament: A Historical, Literary, and Theological Survey:Baker Academic, (Oct. 09). Price:$44.99; ISBN-10:0-8010-2868-X; 560 pp.

This highly readable and engaging survey meets a need in the market for an up-to-date New Testament introduction that is appropriate for a broad audience. Professors and students will appreciate how Powell presents disputed and controversial issues fairly, neither dictating conclusions nor privileging skepticism over faith-based perspectives. The book is written in a lively and engaging style and includes helpful sidebars, maps, tables, charts, glossary, diagrams, and suggestions for further reading. In addition, this full-color book includes beautiful artwork illustrating the reception of the New Testament through various times and cultures. A companion website will feature a wealth of additional resources.

3) Dan G. McCartney; James (BECNT): Baker Academic, (Nov. 09).Price:$39.99;ISBN-10:
0-8010-2676-8; 368pp.

Dan McCartney, a highly regarded New Testament scholar and an expert on biblical interpretation, offers a substantive yet highly accessible commentary on James in this latest addition to the award-winning BECNT series. With extensive research and thoughtful chapter-by-chapter exegesis, McCartney leads readers through all aspects of the book of James--sociological, historical, and theological--to help them better understand its meaning and relevance. As with all BECNT volumes, this commentary features the author's detailed interaction with the Greek text and an acclaimed, user-friendly design. It admirably achieves the dual aims of the series--academic sophistication with pastoral sensitivity and accessibility.

4) Udo Schnelle and M. Eugene Boring; Theology of the New Testament: Baker Academic, (Nov. 09). Price:$59.99; ISBN-10:0-8010-3604-6; 896pp.

Following his well-received Apostle Paul, prominent European scholar Udo Schnelle now offers a major new theology of the New Testament. The work has been translated into English from the original German, with bibliographic adaptations, by leading American scholar M. Eugene Boring.
This comprehensive critical introduction combines historical and theological analysis. Schnelle begins with the teaching of Jesus and continues with a discussion of the theology of Paul. He then moves on to the Synoptic Gospels; the deutero-Pauline, catholic, and Johannine letters; and Revelation, paying due attention to authorship, chronology, genre, and canonical considerations. This is an essential book for anyone with a scholarly interest in the New Testament.

5) Lynn H. Cohick; Women in the World of the Earliest Christians: Illuminating Ancient Ways of Life: Baker Academic, (Nov. 09). Price:$26.99; ISBN:0-8010-3172-9; 352 pp.

Lynn Cohick provides an accurate and fulsome picture of the earliest Christian women by examining a wide variety of first-century Jewish and Greco-Roman documents that illuminate their lives. She organizes the book around three major spheres of life: family, religious community, and society in general. Cohick shows that although women during this period were active at all levels within their religious communities, their influence was not always identified by leadership titles nor did their gender always determine their level of participation. The book corrects our understanding of early Christian women by offering an authentic and descriptive historical picture of their lives. Includes black-and-white illustrations from the ancient world.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Excerpts from Wright's New Book

IVP has released 29 pages of excerpts from N.T. Wright's eagerly anticipated Justification: God's Plan and Paul's Vision.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gordon Fee on the 'Center' of Paul's Theology

In response to an excellent statement left on the last post, I thought I would see if eminent, Pentecostal New Testament scholar, Gordon Fee, had anything to say about the 'center' of Paul's theology.

As alluded to above, any discussion of Paul's theological center almost always ignores what Paul has to say concerning the Spirit. One scholar who cannot be charged with this is Gordon Fee. In his massive monumental work, God's Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul, Fee reviews the proposals such as 'justification by faith,' and 'in Christ,' and finds them too limiting.

He writes:

It is my conviction that the reason the center is so 'elusive' is that Paul's theology covers too much ground for one to simplify it into a single phrase. It would seem far better for us to isolate the essential elements of his theology that lie at the very heart of matters for Paul and around which all other concerns cluster. In such a view, at least four items must be included:

  • The church as an eschatological community, which comprises the new covenant people of God;

  • The eschatological framework of God's people's existence and thinking;

  • Their being constituted by God's eschatological salvation effected through the death and resurrection of Christ;

  • Their focus on Jesus as Messiah, Lord, and Son of God.

To put this another way:

  • The foundation: A gracious and merciful God, who is full of love toward all.

  • The framework: Eschatological existence as already but not yet.

  • The focus: Jesus, the Son of God, who as God's suffering servant Messiah effected eschatological salvation for humanity through his death and resurrection, and who is now the exalted Lord and coming King.

  • The fruit: The church as an eschatological community, who, constituted by Christ's death and the gift of the Spirit, and thus restored into God's likeness, form God's new covenant people. (italics original; 12)

  • After reviewing the various recent proposals by Pauline scholars, is it possible to arrive at any consensus? Is it possible or even desirable to attempt to articulate the center of Paul's theology? Are the letters too ad-hoc to even make this a possibility? Just some thoughts to ponder...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mike Bird on the 'Center' of Paul's Theology

Many of your remember that in the past I have posted a collection of proposals on Paul's theological 'center.' In Mike Bird's latest book, Introducing Paul: The Man, His Mission, and His Message, the author notes how difficult it is to pin down Paul's theological 'center' while being overly specific. After mentioning various options (e.g. 'justification by faith,' 'participation in Christ,' 'salvation history,' etc.; p. 22), Bird offers his own take, writing:

While it is perhaps so general as to be meaningless, it may be better to say that 'Jesus Christ' is the centre of Paul's theology. Christ is central in Paul's religious experience, proclamation and pastoral care. If we wanted to pursue something more specific, we could legitimately suggest that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the main coordinates of his thinking, which would come close to identifying the central theological thread in Paul's gospel (22).

What do you think of Bird's reading? According to Thielman, this view may be too broad to do Paul's thought justice; according to Dunn, this view makes Paul a more of a concrete theologian than an abstract one. So readers what say you?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Blomberg & deSilva's Forthcoming Titles

One can never have enough books, even in the case of second and subsequent editions! This is the case with Craig Blomberg's Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey, Second Edition (B&H). The first edition, which I have owned for about 10 years, is a truly outstanding resource. The only other Jesus and Gospels survey that matches it is Mark Strauss' wonderful Four Portraits, One Jesus: An Introduction to Jesus and the Gospels. The second edition, is slated for a July release, and will be well worth the money and wait.

A second notable release is one by my a mentor and friend, David deSilva. Seeing Things John's Way: The Rhetoric of the Book of Revelation (WJKP) is slated for a late June release. David is a brilliant scholar and I know of no finer interpreter of the Apocalypse and the language it employs than he. Two books, 800 plus pages, and anywhere from $70-100 will put these two neatly on your shelf. As Augustine said, "Take up and read," or my version "Save up, and read!"

Mike Bird and the Quote of the Day

Just yesterday, I picked up my good friend, Mike Bird's new book Introducing Paul: The Man, His Mission and His Message. Having worked through the opening chapter, "What is Paul?", where Mike examines five images of Paul as related in the NT: persecutor, missionary, theologian, pastor and martyr (pp.15-28), I was particularly struck by his section on Paul as a theologian (pp.20-23). More specifically, Mike's comments concerning scholars quest to find the sources contributing to Paul's thought are worth quoting in full.

In terms of the sources of Paul's thought, several background areas have been proposed, including Hellenism, Cynicism, Stoicism, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Gnosticism, Rabbinic Judaism and Diaspora Judaism. But given that Paul has a foot in both the Jewish and Greek worlds, it is unsurprising that he echoes ideas contained in different intellectual forums. But to attribute his thinking to any one particular source runs into manifold problems. We must avoid the notion that analogy means genealogy or that similarity means source. Nor should we mistake the cultural context of Paul's thought with its content. More likely sources for Paul's theology include the following:

  1. The Jesus tradition, or the body of Jesus' teaching transmitted in the early church, which informs significant parts of Paul's exhortations.
  2. The Jewish Scriptures and Paul's reading of them through a Christocentric grid, which provides the substructure of his theology.
  3. Paul's consistent application of the gospel to the situations he faces in order to ensure vitality and integrity of the churches. (pp.20-21; italics mine)

I agree wholeheartedly with Mike's assessment but I am curious to know your thoughts. Are there any other sources that Paul employs to his theological grid?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

New Philippians Commentary Excerpt

Yale University Press has a 20 page commentary excerpt of the late John Reumman's Philippians commentary. Reumman proposes 3 separate letters are contained in the canonical Philippians, which I am sure will cause many to demur this commentary on this particular point. Nevertheless, it appears to be an impressive piece of scholarship, checking in at over 800 pages.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Off the Grid with Joe Bonamassa

Making waves since the age of 12, when he toured with the legendary B.B. King, Joe Bonamassa might not be a household name, but wow what a guitar player! Now, 32 years of age, Bonamassa is seen here performing a good old rock infused blues song, Bridge to Better Days on a Dutch TV show. Enjoy!