Friday, December 31, 2010

Tom Schreiner Interview on Galatians Part II

Here is a continuation of my discussion with Tom about his new Galatians commentary. For Part I click here.

8. Could you explain the importance of viewing Galatians 3.10-14 through the lens of salvation history especially vv.12ff?

Galatians 3:10-14 relates to both salvation history and anthropology. One of the big problems is when scholars choose one or the other. It has become so common to split apart salvation history and anthropology. In any case, part of what Paul says here relates to salvation history. One reason works of law don’t justify is now righteousness is in Jesus Christ. What the law mandated was part of the former dispensation, the old covenant. Believers are not under that covenant any more, and hence it cannot be required for salvation. So, when Paul reads Lev. 18:5 we must recognize that he reads it with that salvation historical paradigm in mind. The curse that came from the Mosaic law has been removed by Jesus Christ (3:13), and now believers are in the new age of the Spirit (3:14). Leviticus 18:5 in its OT context represents a humble response of obedience to God’s gracious work in redeeming his people from Egypt, and the life in view is life in the land. Paul reads the verse typologically. The life in Gal. 3:12 is eternal life. And since the sacrifices of the law covenant are no longer in force (now that Christ has come), one must keep the law perfectly to find forgiveness. One cannot live under both covenants. One finds salvation either in Christ and his sacrifice or in the law and animal sacrifices.

9. Continuing with Galatians 3, namely 3.19, what should be made of the phrase regarding the law “having been ordained through angels by the hands of a mediator” (διαταγεὶς δι᾽ ἀγγέλων ἐν χειρὶ μεσίτου)?

That is a very difficult phrase, but it was a common Jewish tradition that the law was mediated through angels (Acts 7:53; Heb. 2:2). There is a hint of such an idea perhaps in Deut. 33:2. Paul inserts this idea here to teach that the law is inferior to the covenant with Abraham.

10. Galatians 3.28 stands at the heart of the egalitarian v. complementarian debates. Should this be the case or is this a misreading of this passage?

Galatians 3:28 is an important passage in the debate. It teaches that there is equal access to salvation for both men and women in Christ. There are not two ways of salvation, one for men and one for women. But the text must be read in context. If the passage is saying that maleness and femaleness are irrelevant categories, the text would justify homosexuality, which is plainly contrary to Paul’s teaching elsewhere (Rom. 1:26-27). Paul is not denying differences between men and women or Jews and Gentiles or even slave or free. In context, he is saying that Jews have no advantage over Greeks when it comes to salvation. Gentiles don’t have to be circumcised to be saved. So too, women have equal access to salvation as well. The text should not be read to say that there are no role differences between men and women. There are social implications in the text, but we need to read all of Paul to discover what those implications are. And Paul himself believed there are different roles in marriage (Eph. 5:22-33) and in terms of church leadership (1 Tim. 2:9-15). Incidentally, this is quite different from what Paul says about slavery. Marriage was instituted at creation and is a good gift of God, and Paul argues from the created order when giving instructions about men and women. Paul never endorses slavery per se, and slavery is not rooted in the created order. Paul regulates an existing evil institution in his comments on slavery.

11. How are we to understand Paul’s scathing rebuke of his opponents in 5.12?

We have to remember that Paul is writing the Galatians, not the opponents! He is speaking hyperbolically to shock the Galatians, so that they don’t fall prey to a false gospel. We should not read this to say that Paul hated the opponents. He was worried about the Galatians going to hell, and he wanted them to see that they were falling prey to a false gospel, and he says in the strongest possible terms. To do that is to destroy yourself. The opponents might as well cut off their sex organs, for they are heading for destruction. Paul is saying to those whom he loves, “Don’t go that way!”

12. What are some of the ways Galatians 6.6-10 informs our understanding in the church of a giving disposition to which we should all aspire?

Paul argues that giving is a great blessing. It is in response to what God has done for us in Christ. We don’t give because we have to, but we give because God has poured his grace out on us. If someone doesn’t give, if someone is fundamentally selfish, it calls into question, whether they are believers at all.

13. Now that your commentary has been released and is being read and interacted with, what is your hope as to the impact it will make, both in the academy and more importantly, in the pastorate?

I hope it helps pastors and teachers and laypersons understand and live out the gospel. When we understand the good news of the free grace in Christ, our whole lives change. We don’t live under the burden of guilt. We don’t obey out of guilt. We obey out of grace. Our obedience always flows from trusting the great truth that God is for us because of what he has done for us in Christ. Luther said somewhere that if he knew God wasn’t angry with him that he would stand upside down for joy. Well, we know that God isn’t angry with us. He loves us, and when this seeps into our lives (and we never outgrow or master this lesson), then our lives are filled with the joy of living in God’s gracious presence.

14. Finally, can you share with us some of your current and future writing/research projects?

Currently, I am working on 3 different things.

1) I am writing a biblical theology of the whole Bible. Crazy I know. My title is: You Will See the King in His Beauty: A Canonical Biblical Theology. Baker Academic has agreed to publish it.

2) I am participating in a 4 Views on Paul book with Doug Campbell, Mark Nanos, and Scott Hahn, with Michal Bird as the editor.

3) I am also working on a book on church government that I am co-editing with Ben Merkle of Southeastern Seminary.

Thanks Tom for your time.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tom Schreiner Interview on Galatians Part I

Before moving on to the post, first, I would like to say that I hope all of my readers had a very Merry Christmas and I pray that all have a blessed New Year!

Tom Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Associate Dean, Scripture and Interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and well-known for his amazing output of scholarly work, especially his commentary on Romans and his New Testament Theology, agreed to be interviewed about his latest work, Galatians, in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary series (ZEC).

As an aside, I find Tom's contribution to be solid, and is perfect place to start for any in-depth engagement with Galatians. Pastors, Bible study teachers, and professors will find much to chew on here.

On to Part I of a two-part interview:

 1. You serve on the editorial board for the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (ZECNT) series. With so many commentary series available, what was it about this particular series that drew your interest and ultimately your involvement?

The series attracted me because it was geared towards teachers and preachers of the word. The structural layout of each passage is a unique feature, which I think is enormously helpful. Also, I enjoyed the application section for the commentary, for that helps us keep our feet on the ground and stay practical.

2. You have contributed the volume on Galatians. Can you discuss the process by which you wrote this commentary and the challenges it presented?

I have taught Galatians many times. In fact, I have probably spent more time on Galatians than any other book (apart from the books I have written commentaries on). I started with my own work on the book, which included diagramming and tracing the argument. I wrote the first draft from my own work, for I had already done a lot of work on the letter as noted above. Then I integrated and edited it with the work of others. Perhaps the biggest challenge is the amount of secondary literature on Galatians. The ZEC series is  meant for pastors and teachers, so I had to be selective and try to read what would be most helpful.

3. I remember hearing Doug Moo say in a lecture, and I am paraphrasing here, “I wish I had written a commentary on Galatians before taking on Romans.” After doing the same yourself, do you understand this sentiment?

I do agree with Doug Moo. When I was asked to do Romans by Baker, I was hoping to do a commentary on Galatians first, for it is shorter and I had spent the most time on Galatians. But there is no way I could turn down Romans!

4. After reading through the introduction (21-59), I was impressed with the breadth and depth of your engagement of the topics (i.e. location of recipients: N. /S. Galatia; date; the topic of ‘mirror-reading;’ ‘empire;’ the identity of Paul’s opponents; rhetorical criticism, etc.) and the fairness and humility with which you presented diverging viewpoints. Talk about the responsibility of the commentator in presenting these views before giving their own.

I am sure I have failed at this often, but I try to write in such a way that if the author I discuss is sitting in front of me, he would agree that I represented him or her fairly. Now I know that hasn’t always happened, for I have even gotten letters from other authors saying I didn’t succeed! But that’s my goal.

5. One of the best features of your commentary is the “In Depth” essays that you include within the commentary proper. Galatians provides many challenging topics for the reader/interpreter (e.g. ‘justification;’ ‘works of the law;’ ‘faith in/of Christ;’ etc.). One of these essays (‘works of the law’) discusses the New Perspective on Paul (NPP). First, could you discuss what benefit(s) the NPP has had in the interpretation of ‘works of the law,’ and second, what are some of the shortcomings of this particular reading?

I will keep this brief since it is a blog post. But the NPP reminds us that Jew/Gentile issues were crucial in the first century, and what provoked the controversy in Galatia was a boundary marker issue (circumcision), and what sparked debate in Antioch (Gal. 2:11-14) was an identity marker issue as well (food laws). So, the NPP rightly sees that boundary marker issues faced early Christians. The inclusion of the Gentiles in the church is a major issue. If I could sum up the shortcoming of the NPP briefly, I think the NPP wrongly sees the focus on boundary markers in the phrase works of law, whereas the focus is on the law as a whole. The phrase most naturally refers to the entire law (cf. Gal. 3:10). And as we read on in Paul’s argument (cf. Gal. 2:15-21; 3:6-14), it becomes apparent that Paul argues against righteousness by law as a whole (cf. 5:3), so that Paul repudiates the notion that human beings can be justified on the basis of their works.

6. Turning to some more specific issues in Galatians, could you discuss Paul’s relationship to the Jerusalem ‘pillars'(2.9), and why it was important for him to demonstrate the independence of his Gentile mission (1.15-17; 2.6) while also mentioning their validation of his ministry(2.7-10)?

I believe the opponents argued that Paul was dependent upon the Jerusalem apostles for his gospel and then argued that he distorted what he received from Jerusalem. Paul strikes back by saying that his gospel is independent of Jerusalem (ch. 1). He received it directly through a revelation of Jesus Christ. Hence, his gospel stands no matter what the Jerusalem apostles say. But then in ch. 2 he handles a delicate issue. Even though his gospel is true without the ratification of the pillars, he needs their validation practically. Otherwise, everywhere Paul traveled opponents would follow and say that Paul’s teaching was contrary to the pillar apostles in Jerusalem. Paul points out in 2:1-10, therefore, that the Jerusalem apostles agreed with and ratified his gospel. Paul didn’t need their validation for the gospel to be true, but he needed it to progress in his ministry. He needed their validation for pragmatic reasons.

7. One of the touch points in the ‘imputation debate’ is Galatians 3.6. How should we understand the phrase “and it was counted to him (Abraham) as righteousness” (καὶ ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην)?

When it says faith is counted to Abraham as righteousness, I think this means that Abraham was righteous by virtue of his faith instead of his works. But we ought not to say that faith is his righteousness. Faith is the instrument by which a believer receives the righteousness of Christ. Believers are righteous because they are united to Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection, and hence they enjoy righteousness because they are united to Christ. But such union with Christ comes about through faith.

Part II will be posted in the coming days...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Brian Abasciano Dissertation Online

Brian Abasciano, who received his Ph.D. in Divinity from the University of Aberdeen and now pastors at Faith Community Church in Hampton, New Hampshire, while serving as an adjunct professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, has posted the unpublished version of his dissertation, titled, Paul's Use of the OT in Romans 9.1-9Abasciano's published version (T&T Continuum), also has a subsequent volume due to release in late June 2011, entitled Paul's Use of the OT in Romans 9.9-18. More info can be found here on the Continuum site.

Abasciano's work in Romans 9 and the OT is historic as no one has as ever explored these matters as thoroughly as these two studies. Anyone working with Romans 9-11, will want to consult both of his volumes.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Just Out of Curiosity...

I'm sure this has been discussed at length elsewhere, but I was wondering how my fellow bloggers felt about mentioning their blog on their c.v.'s along with some particulars, such as book reviews, interviews, etc.

I'm not sure that institutions are all that impressed with this info, since anyone can blog and this obviously does not hold the same weight as "real publishing" (books, journal articles, essays, etc.) What do you think? Is the tide slowly changing on this, or not at all?

I for one, value much what is said on blogs and find it often to be the best and most accessible way to participating into scholarship as it happens.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jonathan Robinson's MTh Thesis Online!

Jonathan Robinson, who blogs over at xenos theology, has helpfully posted his MTh Thesis. It is entitled Sex, Slogans and Σώματα: Discovering Paul’s Theological Ethic in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, and can be clicked on here.

Be sure to check it out!

HT: Jonathan Robinson

Monday, December 13, 2010

Blogging From My New Computer and BibleWorks

Many thanks to those of you who chimed in about my computer dilemma. I ended up purchasing a Toshiba Satellite A665 laptop with an A7 processor. My next challenge is to redownload the SBLGNT for BibleWorks. It appears the files are there but everytime I restart BibleWorks I get nothing.

Can someone lay out for me the step-by-step in downloading these zip files on to my BibleWorks?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cult of Personality

I have been enjoying Tom Schreiner's new commentary on Galatians of late, especially some comments he made regarding a proper attitude towards those in authority.

The Zondervan Exegetical Commentary has a section called "Theology in Application" and in Schreiner's section on Galatians 2.1-10, he makes these remarks:

Our evangelical subculture (and larger culture as well!) tends to be dazzled by our religious superstars. How thankful we are for the ministries of pastors like John McArthur, John Piper, Mark Driscoll, and Tim Keller! And yet we must not venerate them. Some virtually become the disciples of these pastors (and others), and hence they fiercely and dogmatically defend every opinion of such men. Unfortunately, they buy into our celebrity culture and the word of famous pastors in effect becomes more important than the Word of God. We can unwittingly become incredibly secular even when we are talking about the Word of God. Paul warns us of the danger of venerating any human being. The gospel of Christ and the Word of God are our authority, and the pastors I named would agree that is not their word but the gospel that must be prized. May the Lord keep us from venerating evangelical superstars, so that our praise and adoration and wonder are directed to God in Christ alone (italics mine; 134).

Douglas Campbell Video

Douglas Campbell, Associate Professor of New Testament at Duke Divinty School, and author of the most talked about book in New Testament studies over the past couple of years, The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul, is featured in an interview with Dr. J. Michael Feazell of Grace Communion International on the show "You're Invited", entitled "Our Participation with Christ". Here is the page that features a group study guide based on this interview.

Off the Grid with Joe Bonamassa

Joe Bonamassa, whom I consider the best blues guitarist going today, played this gem ("Woke up Dreaming") when I was at the Playhouse Theatre in Cleveland this past spring/summer. This clip is taken from his concert at Royal Albert Hall in London.

To say his playing is mesmerizing is an understatement especially from the six minute mark out. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Couple of Items of Interest

As many of you are now fully aware, the SBLGNT and apparatus are now available as a PDF file.  Also, and I am sure I am late getting to this, but Mark Nanos has a brief entry on Galatians for the Oxford Bibliographies Online. Check out the other 50 entries as well.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mariam Kamell's Dissertation Online

Mariam Kamell, who co-authored the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on James with Craig Blomberg, now has her dissertation available online, entitled, The Soteriology of James in light of earlier Jewish Wisdom literature and the Gospel of Matthew. Mariam finished her PhD at the University of St. Andrews.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Initial Take on Fundamentals of New Testament Greek

Yesterday, to my surprise, I received a package from Eerdmans containing Fundamentals of New Testament Greek Grammar and Workbook by Stan Porter, Jeffrey Reed and Matthew Brook O'Donnell.

One caveat before I begin: I have only spent about an hour looking through the grammar, but here is my initial reaction. This grammar will scare away many a beginning Greek student! To be fair, here is what the authors say in the Preface:

We know that this is a very full, comprehensive, and perhaps even challenging grammar (x).

Part of what makes this grammar different from others is the pace it intends to set in introducing material to the beginning student. One, and this is not necessarily a bad thing, this grammar introduces all Greek words that occur 12x or more, 950 in all. Second, the authors include and introduce the student to a parsing guide before chapter one. For example, word classes such as adjectives (ADJ), article (ART), nouns (NON), particles (PAR), pronouns (PRO), and verbs (VRB) are delineated  followed by a discussion of the particular features of the word classes. In the case of an adjective, the reader is alerted that it belongs to one of four declension patterns, including the elements of comparison (c=comparative, s=superlative). One difficulty with this approach is the fact that most beginning students will not have the faintest idea what a declension is! This is then followed up by examples such as πάντες [1/3ADJ-MNP], " 'all' is the masculine nominative plural form of the adjective form of πᾶς, πᾶσα, πᾶν, which takes the endings of the first and third declensions." (xvii)  Again, if I am a beginning Greek student my head is probably already spinning! The authors may have been better off including these within each chapter when a particular word class is introduced.

Moving on to chapter one, like all Greek grammars we are given the alphabet with both Erasmian and Modern Greek pronunciation cues.  Discussions on breathing marks, vowels, iota subscripts, vowel lengthening and compensation, contraction, crasis, elision, diaeresis follow along with some discussions of consonants, accent rules, enclitic and proclitic words, and finally, punctuation, round out a dense first chapter (1-15).

By no means does the brief glance represent my final judgment on the usefulness of this volume. In fact, I rather like the emphases on an expanded vocabulary, the extended discussion on accent rules (11-14). The authors are well aware of the difficulties this grammar may present the beginning student as the quote above demonstrates. I am not in favor of "dumbing down" the approach to Biblical Greek, but I am concerned that the authors of this volume take care to explain difficult concepts clearly and with appropriate timing, something I am not convinced is accomplished from what I have read thus far.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Duke Dissertations

I have found two more theses of interest, this time from Duke University, one being David M. Moffitt's A New and Living Way: Atonement and the Logic of Resurrection in the Epistle to the Hebrews and another by Bradley R. Trick entitled Sons, Seed, and Children of Promise in Galatians: Discerning the Coherence in Paul’s Model of Abrahamic Descent.

More information on both authors can be found here and here.