Sunday, January 29, 2012

Markan Monographs and Journal Articles

A bit ago I had asked my fellow bloggers for recommendations on Mark commentaries. I got a ton of great advice on my blog and Facebook. So, here I am again asking for more recommendations. First, let me be a bit more specific. I am currently engaged in a project where I am looking at literary and narratival aspects of Mark's Gospel. What are some of the works with which I should be engaging? Timothy C. Gray's volume on the temple in Mark's Gospel looks intriguing to me. Have any of you read this? If so, what do you think of it? Are there any other monographs taking this approach to Mark that you would recommend reading?

Also, I want to read up on articles. Are there any journal articles that are must reads?

Robert Plant Sings Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down

Robert Plant happens to be one of my favorite vocalists. Most of this is due to his work in Led Zeppelin, my favorite rock band of all time. Recently, I like the album he did with Allison Krause, Raising Sand. Since that time, Plant has recorded a new album with his band, aptly named "Band of Joy." Recently, I picked up a copy of this self-titled album, and I am really impressed. Probably my favorite tune on here is the American folk classic, "Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down." Here is a performance in Nashville of last year. This is so hauntingly beautiful. Check it out!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

John Byron's Lecture Available

My friend and mentor, John Byron has his lecture video available given at Ashland Seminary the other night. The lecture is entitled, "Rewriting the Bible." Give it a look, John is an expert in Second Temple Judaism, so I am really looking forward to viewing this!

"Rewriting the Bible", Dr. John Byron from Ashland Seminary on Vimeo.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Follow Up on Rikk Watts: Audio Resources

In the prior post, I pointed to a video clip of an advanced exegesis course on Mark that Rikk Watts of Regent College was teaching. Rikk is also writing the replacement volume on Mark for the NICNT series. I also mentioned in that post I was listening to a course that he taught on Mark. This course can be purchased at Regent Audio here. I managed to purchase the series when it was half-price. Regent Audio generally runs weekly specials and all one needs to do is to sign up for their mailing list to get the notices. What's great about this class is it also came with a 70 pp. PDF class notes from Watts himself. Really great stuff here, and well worth the price.

If one cannot afford these audio resources, there is another option.  Watts also taught some Mark sessions at the Rock Garden than can be dowloaded free here and Isaiah here. There are other classes as well, but I mention the above two as representative of some major work Rikk has written concerning both, particularly his revised dissertation Isaiah's New Exodus in Mark.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Rikk Watts Video Clip on Mark's Gospel

Recently, I have been listening to Rikk Watts, Professor of New Testament at Regent College, teaching a class on Mark's Gospel. It has been awesome! I have been learning quite a bit. Here he is in a short clip teaching an advanced New Testament exegesis course on Mark.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Durham Dissertations Update

I am always on the look out for the latest scholarship coming out of the major universities. Durham University and their Theology program tops my list for finds. One dissertation that I'm really excited to read is by recent PhD grad, David E. Briones, entitled Paul's Financial Policy: A Socio-Theological Approach. Some other new and noteworthy New Testament dissertations include: Ben Dunson's Individual and Community in Paul's Letter to the Romans; Jonathan Linebaugh's GOD, GRACE, AND RIGHTEOUSNESS: WISDOM OF SOLOMON AND PAUL’S LETTER TO THE ROMANS IN CONVERSATION; John Richard Lewis Moxon's PETER’S HALAKHIC NIGHTMARE: THE ‘ANIMAL’ VISION OF ACTS 10:9-16 IN JEWISH AND GRAECO-ROMAN PERSPECTIVE; and Christian Peter Orr's Christ Absent and Present: A Study in Pauline Christology. There is much more where that came from, so do yourself a favor, check out this site by clicking here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Jesus' Emotions in Mark 3:5

There is always an inherent danger of downplaying, dismissing, or ignoring passages that speak of Jesus' emotions in the Gospels. One reason for this, I believe, is that fear in reading Jesus this way will somehow diminish our view of him. If we allow that Jesus experiences many of the same emotions that we all do, then can we really continue to hold our esteemed view of him as Son of God? Further, we in the church are suspicious of 'emotionalism'.  By 'emotionalism' I mean outward displays of emotion that lack scriptural foundation, and direction and are entirely concerned with the self. We see this all the time. One needs to look no further than some of the ministry programs that populate the airwaves. Anyway, I digress...

Despite being just one verse, Mark 3:5 captures quite a bit of emotion. The scene is set up this way: Jesus enters the synagogue on the Sabbath, with the Pharisees watching as he encounters a man with a withered hand. This is a trap! The Pharisees cannot wait to catch Jesus in a violation of the Sabbath (3:2). Jesus tells the man with the feeble hand to come stand in front of him (3:3), and poignantly asks the Pharisees, "Is it permitted on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or kill?" (3:4) Either way they answer, the Pharisees are trapped, so they respond in utter silence (3:4). This question is filled with irony as the Pharisees in v.6 violate the worst of Sabbath prohibitions, indeed of all the Law, as they, along with the Herodians plot to kill Jesus (3:6)!

Returning to 3:5, it reads: "He looked around at them in anger (μετʼ ὀργῆς) and, deeply distressed (συλλυπούμενος) at their stubborn hearts, (πώρωσις τῆς καρδίας) said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored (NIV; italics mine)." Let's take a look at these emotional-laden terms one at a time.  First, this is the only time in the Gospels that Jesus' anger is described in terms of ὀργή (although see the text critical issue at Mk 1:41). Jesus' ὀργή is directed at the silence of the Pharisees. As Edwards states:
Jesus’ anger is a description of righteous indignation. The greatest enemy of divine love and justice is not opposition, not even malice, but hardness of heart and indifference to divine grace, to which not even disciples of Jesus are immune. (James R. Edwards, The Gospel According to Mark [PNTC; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002]), 101.
The next description of Jesus' emotions is the rare term συλλυπέω, so rare in fact, that this is the only occurrence in the entire NT. The LXX records this term merely twice (Ps 68:21 [MT: 69:20]; Isa 51:19), both with the connotations of  'grief'. Aristotle in his treatise on 'friendship' uses the infinitive form of the verb this way:

The very seeing of one’s friends is pleasant, especially if one is in adversity, and becomes a safeguard against grief (for a friend tends to comfort us both by the sight of him and by his words, if he is tactful, since he knows our character and the things that please or pain us); but to see him pained at our misfortunes is painful; for every one shuns being a cause of pain to his friends. For this reason people of a manly nature guard against making their friends grieve (συλλυπεῖν) with them... (Nichomachean Ethics; 1171b7; Trans. W.D. Ross in The Complete Works of Aristotle, ed. Jonathan Barnes, Vol.2 [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984]), 151.
For Aristotle then, συλλυπέω is to be avoided at all costs. For Jesus, this grief along with the anger that he displays is complementary; his anger (ὀργή) is outwardly displayed, while his grief (συλλυπέω) is more inwardly manifested and is aimed at the Pharisees stubbornness as demonstrated by their silence. Their silence indicts them in their unwillingness to admit that healing (i.e. 'doing good') is permissible on the Sabbath (3:3).

Last, the reference to the Pharisees 'hard hearts' (πώρωσις τῆς καρδίας) is utilized in NT parlance to refer to "Israel’s failure to recognise Jesus as their Messiah (Rom. 11:7, 25; 2 Cor. 3:14; Jn. 12:40, citing Is. 6:10), but on two other occasions by Mark to describe the disciples’ failure to appreciate the significance of Jesus’ miracles (6:52; 8:17)." ( R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark [NICGNT; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans,  2002]), 150-51. One should also be aware of this common theme found in the OT, particularly with regard to Pharaoh's attitude  toward Israel and Moses (Exod 4:21; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7[2x], 34; 10:1; 11:10; 14:4,8; cf. 1 Sam 6:6).

Wrapping up this post, it seems to me that Jesus' flash of anger towards the Pharisees stands in stark contrast to the deep-seated grief he feels toward the attitude of the Pharisees. This grief Jesus displays is matched only by the depth of callousness the Pharisees evince by their hard hearts. They are blinded to their own hypocrisy (3:6) and their inability to discern what the spirit of the Sabbath entails, namely, the good (3:4).

Friday, January 20, 2012

I. Howard Marshall Festschrift


Wipf and Stock (Cascade Division) has just released a festschrift honoring one of the great exegetes of our time, I. Howard Marshall.  Although Wipf and Stock did not release information about the contributors on their webpage, one of the editors, Ray Van Neste, has listed them in a blog post. Needless to say, the list of contributors is quite impressive and would be a welcome addition to my ever-expanding bookshelves!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Doug Moo Audio on Romans 3:21-26

I have discovered some more online Doug Moo audio resources, this time, three lectures that he gave last fall for the River Hills Community Church, Lake Geneva, WI. The broad title of the talks on Romans 3:21-26 were deemed "Reclaiming the Good News." The three individual lecture titles were as follows:
                             Session 1: The Seriousness of Sin
                             Session 2: The Beauty of Grace
                             Session 3: The Singularity of Faith


Romans 1:16 and The Quotable Karl Barth

Okay, I admit it. I have been living an impoverished intellectual life. Until recently, I had not read anything on Karl Barth. I could hide behind the excuse that reading the theological masters is not my cup of tea. I am much more comfortable treading in history, studying and interpreting the Biblical books, intertestamental literature, Greco-Roman works, etc. As far as I can tell, Karl Barth is really not all that interested in interpreting Romans on a historical basis. Some things he does, quite frankly, makes me want to scream! But here's the rub, Barth's prose is powerful, stimulating, and convicting. In other words, Barth's commentary on Romans will preach!

Here is the jaw-dropping Barth on Romans 1:16:

I am not ashamed. The Gospel neither requires men to engage in the conflict of religions or the conflict of philosophies, nor does it compel them to hold themselves aloof from these controversies. In announcing the limitation of the known world by another that is unknown, the Gospel does not enter into competition with the many attempts to disclose within the known world some more or less unknown and higher form of existence and to make it accessible to men. The Gospel is not a truth among other truths. Rather, it sets a question-mark against all truths. The Gospel is not the door but the hinge. The man who apprehends its meaning is removed from all strife, because he is engaged in a strife with the whole, even with existence itself. Anxiety concerning the victory of the Gospel—that is, Christian Apologetics—is meaningless, because the Gospel is the victory by which the world is overcome. By the Gospel the whole concrete world is dissolved and established. It does not require representatives with a sense of responsibility, for it is as responsible for those who proclaim it as it is for those to whom it is proclaimed. It is the advocate of both. Nor is it necessary for the Gospel that Paul should take his stand in the midst of the spiritual cosmopolitanism of Rome; though he can, of course, enter the city without shame, and will enter it as a man who has been consoled by the Gospel. God does not need us. Indeed, if He were not God, He would be ashamed of us. We, at any rate, cannot be ashamed of Him.(35; The Epistle to the Romans. 6th ed. Translated by Edwyn C. Hoskyns. London: Oxford University Press, 1968. Italics mine).
 So yes, I have learned my lesson. One cannot ignore Barth, no matter how uncomfortable one might be with his brand of exegesis at times. To do so, would be at one's own peril.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Richard Bell Recaps Romans

Richard Bell, Professor of Theology at the University of Nottingham, has an interesting video interview that addresses the question of "Why Study St. Paul's Letter to the Romans?"

Check it out here:

Sigurd Grindheim Website

Several years ago, I began a correspondence with Sigurd Grindheim, who at the time, was fresh off of receiving his PhD at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and was about to publish his revised dissertation with Mohr Siebeck, entitled, The Crux of Election: Paul’s Critique of the Jewish Confidence in the Election of Israel. 
Sigurd was nice enough to be a sounding board for me while I was writing my Master's thesis at Ashland, pointing me to bibliography or just sharing his own insights on Paul's theology. At the time he was getting ready to take a teaching post at the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology in Addis Ababa. It was not until the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in Boston, 2008, that we actually met face-to-face. We sat next to each other at a Pauline Soteriology session, and afterwards began to talk about his latest research and writing. Sigurd was in the midst of transitioning into Historical Jesus and Gospels studies, and in particular was going to make an argument for a high Christology to be found in the Synoptics. Unfortunately, we have not conversed much since that time, but I was extremely delighted to discover that the work he was speaking to me about has found fruit with two monographs, both published by T&T Clark. The first, God's Equal: What Can We Know About Jesus' Self-Understanding?  was released this past fall, and the second, Christology in the Synoptic :God or God's Servant? will be published in the early spring.

Currently, Sigurd is now a Visiting Professor at Fjellhaug International University College, Oslo, Norway. He also has a wonderful website with plenty of helpful resources, including publications, sermons, etc...  So, do yourself a favor and check this out!

Reminder: Free James Commentary by Robert Gundry

Another Monday, another free commentary. Baker Academic continues its generous policy by allowing for another free download of Robert Gundry's commentary series; this time James is the featured download. Remember you have only 24 hours to do this!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Karl Barth On Romans 1:18 & The Quote of the Day

During my interview with Frank Matera regarding his Romans commentary (Paideia), he said of Karl Barth's Romans commentary: was the most powerful book I have ever read. It was a sustained sermon that confronted with the awesome power of God’s Word. While commentaries are not usually written in this way, I tried to incorporate some of that passion into my own commentary.

After having read some of Barth's Romans commentary I can see where his coming from. Take for instance, this reflection on Romans 1:18, which incidentally, is my quote of the day:

Our relation to God is ungodly. We suppose that we know what we are saying when we say 'God'. We assign to Him the highest place in our world: and in so doing we place Him fundamentally on one line with ourselves and with things. We assume that He needs something: and so we assume that we are able to arrange our relation to Him as we arrange our other relationships. We press ourselves into proximity with Him: and so, all unthinking, we make Him nigh unto ourselves. We allow ourselves an ordinary communication with Him, we permit ourselves to reckon with Him as though this were not extraordinary behaviour on our part. We dare to deck ourselves out as His companions, patrons, advisers, and commissioners. We confound time with eternity. This is the ungodliness of our relation to God. And our relation to God is unrighteous. Secretly we are ourselves the masters in this relationship. We are not concerned with God, but with our own requirements, to which God must adjust Himself. Our arrogance demands that, in addition to everything else, some super-world should also be known and accessible to us. Our conduct calls for some deeper sanction, some approbation and remuneration from another world. Our well-regulated, pleasurable life longs for some hours of devotion, some prolongation into infinity. And so, when we set God upon the throne of the world, we mean by God ourselves. In 'believing' on Him, we justify, enjoy, and adore
ourselves. Our devotion consists in a solemn affirmation of ourselves and of the world and in a pious setting aside of the contradiction. Under the banners of humility and emotion we rise in rebellion against God. We confound time with eternity. That is our unrighteousness.—Such is our relation to God apart from and without Christ, on this side resurrection, and before we are called to order. God Himself is not acknowledged as God and what is called 'God' is in fact Man. By living to ourselves, we serve the 'No-God' (44; The Epistle to the Romans. 6th ed. Translated by Edwyn C. Hoskyns. London: Oxford University Press, 1968.)

Jonathan Pennington Site

In an interview that I did three-and-a-half years ago, Jonathan Pennington, Associate Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, discussed some of his projects at the time, one that included a volume on the Gospels that is now nearing now publication with Baker Academic, entitled, Reading the Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological Introduction. More info can be found here.

But the real reason for this post is that Jonathan has a new website (well at least to me!) and has many helpful teaching resources on it. I am also excited to discover that he will be authoring the Matthew commentary for the Pillar series. As many of you may recall, Jonathan, in a revised publication of his thesis at St. Andrews, wrote on the Matthean theme of heaven and earth while discussing a fruitful way forward in the Kingdom of Heaven debates with this monograph.

Please do check out the site, there are many outstanding teaching resources on it!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Social Media and Theological Discussion

This post has been on my heart and mind for the past few days. It began with the Tebow-mania that has swept the nation as of late. I will not rehash the discussions here, except to say that it has, in my opinion, created more heat than light on both sides, and that is not a good thing. Which leads me to a bigger question: "Are social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter the places to engage in serious theological, ethical debate?"

Do not get me wrong, I love these outlets and use them regularly, but some of the viciousness I have seen lately leaves me worried. From relatively minor theological debates has arisen hurt feelings, defensiveness, and just downright un-Christ-like behavior (not that Jesus minded a good debate now and then, but I digress...). Perhaps my evaluation of the problem is simply the limitations of social media in of itself. What I mean by this is, one cannot have these types of conversations online as they would face-to-face over a cup of coffee. One cannot hear the tone of the person's voice, the look of sincerity/insincerity on their face, and their body language when exchanging comments on these outlets. On the flip side, I also understand that these discussions do indeed need to take place, and the strength of these sites is putting one in contact with a wide-range of conversation partners from a variety of ecumenical backgrounds. And that is a good thing. But, I'm wondering if thoughtful engagement should be done with a well-placed phone call instead of a debate that continues to escalate and "friends" are forced or a least feel compelled to choose sides, adding to the building tensions that invariably exist on both sides of the theological aisle? Or if one wants to continue the debate without a phone call, how about a private email?

In the end, I believe it is our duty as Christian men and women to prayerfully consider what we post on Facebook and Twitter. I really don't believe these are the places for theological, moral, and ethical debate. Those conversations are way too important to be limited to sound-bite comments, or character-limiting posts (see Twitter). So, what say you? What ethical standards should a Christian abide by on Facebook and Twitter? How much debate should be allowed on these outlets?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Jesus Have I Loved Blog Tour Stop #3: Ch.2, New Creation and the Kingdom of God

(Welcome to Stop #3 of the Jesus Have I Loved, but Paul? Blog Tour! Check out the blog tour hub to see the previous posts and enter to win five books on Paul from Baker Academic here.)

Many of us in our church experiences have been given a rather incomplete, and frankly, wrong-headed picture of the salvation Jesus offers. We have been indoctrinated into the Romans Road to Salvation and have bought into a "me-centered, escapist system" (32). Further, Paul is seen to purport such an individualistic vision of salvation. What does the phrase, "Jesus is Lord" really mean? How is the "kingdom of God" that Jesus proclaimed the gospel? When we turn to the Gospels and examine Jesus' life, 
We begin to be gripped with a far more expansive vision of Jesus' lordship as a state of affairs that we are called to align ourselves to. Tugging on any of these threads will begin to unravel the fabric of an individualistic and escapist gospel tapestry (32).
So begins chapter 2, "New Creation and the Kingdom of God" in J.R. Daniel Kirk's, Jesus 
Have I Loved, but Paul? A Narrative Approach to the Problem of Pauline Christianity. Kirk, an Assistant Professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary, states that the goal of this chapter is to:
...have shown that Jesus' enacting of the dominion of God and Paul's vision of new creation in the resurrected Christ are complementary visions of a holistically restored cosmos (32; italics mine).
(First, a disclaimer: There is much grist for the mill here, and in a short blog post I can hardly interact with all of what Kirk writes here, so selectivity will be the key. In other words, "Go buy the book!")

Kirk begins by rightly acknowledging that as we read the Gospels we are confronted with a Jesus who teaches, exorcises demons, heals, has table-fellowship with sinners, etc. What do the Jesus' stories found here have to do with our forgiveness as sinners and Christ's atoning work? Is our view of Jesus too small? Indeed, Kirk remarks provocatively,
The gospel proclamations that formed so many of us in church youth groups and campus ministries have no need for the story of Jesus' life (33; italics mine).
Kirk begins his analysis of this problem by drawing the reader back to Israel's story and the creation narratives of Genesis 1-3 (33-35). Here, we find the "primal vision of the Kingdom of God" (Gen.1:26-28) where humanity was given dominion to rule God's world as his vice-regents. Moreover, humanity was created in God's image to one, rule the world on God's behalf, and two, to enjoy a direct relationship with God as his sons and daughters with no need for adoption. This is all prior to Genesis 3, where indeed, these privileges that humanity enjoy are broken with the fall. The rest of the OT demonstrates that God still chooses his representatives to exorcise dominion of the earth (e.g. Abraham, Israel, various kings, etc.), but this story will only be resolved when the "biblical story's chief protagonist comes on the scene" (35).

Kirk follows this stage-setter with an examination of Mark's Gospel (35-39), where he finds Jesus teachings and actions interpret one another. For instance, this can be seen in Jesus' actions of restoring the  appointing disciples (1:16-20), thereby demonstrating the missional character of God's reign on earth. Moreover, Jesus' speaking on behalf of God, his healings, etc., all point to Jesus restoring the Kingdom of God by reclaiming the position Adam had lost as God's spokesperson, and in the latter, he mediates God's rule in the world by displacing the demonic forces that enslave humanity. Much more could and needs to be said here, but Kirk's encapsulation of Jesus' role will suffice as he describes him as
...the agent of the reign of God because he is the human being entrusted by God with the task of restoring humanity's God-subjected and God-ordained rule to the world. This means that the dominion of God entails newly creating not only humanity's relationship with God but also humanity's broken bodies, broken social systems, enslaved existence under ruling powers- every facet of the world gone wrong, from our relationship with god above to our standing vis-à-vis  plants, dirt, and water below (38-39).
The reign of God, despite its rectification of a broken world, is overshadowed with judgment, as Mark's Gospel points to the cross. Jesus redefines the role of Messiah by centering it around the cross, but Kirk stresses that this is no way condemns creation, but rather in very Wrightian prose (Kirk definitely echoes him from time-to-time!),
The notion that Jesus' ministry is simply one of judgment gives rise to a version of sub-Christian hope that looks forward to flight out of this world into another- a 'hope' that is sufficiently biblical. Neither naively creation-affirming nor hopelessly creation-condemning, the kingdom of God is a ministry of creation's restoration. It is creation-redeeming and creation-healing. Only such a ministry can bring the biblical narrative to a triumphant climax without ceding defeat to the intruding powers (the creation-condemning mistake) or ignoring that the powers of sin, death, injustice, and brokenness hold God's creation in thrall (the creation-affirming mistake). The kingdom of God is at hand in the undoing of all the sin and death and brokenness and disorder that mar the very good world of God (39).
Next, Paul and his language of 'new creation' takes center stage in the second half of the chapter (40-52). Kirk notes that this is one of the fundamental problems of reconciling Jesus' teaching of the kingdom of God with Paul's view of new creation. Paul, in fact, never refers to the kingdom of God or Jesus's miracles or community formation. For Paul, and the formulation "Jesus is Lord," centers around Jesus' resurrection and that this meant Jesus is Lord over all things, indeed, all of creation. The connection of resurrection and lordship are inextricably bound in Paul as Romans 1:3-4 attests. It is here that Jesus's adoption and enthronement take place at his resurrection. Kirk summarizes that the "earthly Jesus's  ministry of the kingdom that we read about in the Gospels echoes through the ministry of Jesus the resurrected Lord as depicted in Paul's letters" (42). Many of the same issues that Jesus faced head-on are also present in Paul's epistles. Galatians speaks of elementary principles, powers that enslave humanity, sin and death are presented as an enslaving power in Romans 5. The resurrection defeats these hostile powers (Romans 6) and simultaneously brings this future resurrection into the present. 1 Cor 12:28 and its mention of the offices of apostles, prophets, and teachers demonstrate that there are those who speak for God, again a privilege that humanity had lost when Adam ceded to the serpent. Moreover, Paul's mission to the gentiles highlights the one requirement for those outside of Israel is the same in the end found in the Gospels, that acceptance of Jesus is the only requirement.

The phrase "new creation" for Paul describes "the effects of Jesus's resurrection and suggests that this itself is the world Christians inhabit and are called to bring into existence" (2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15; p.45). Kirk notes that Romans 8 needs to be approached with a new set of questions and that Paul invites us to read it in conversation with the creation narratives and specifically the language of "image bearing"  (cf. Gen 1:26), with the dual emphasis of adoption as God's child (cf. Rom 1:4) and the implications that this relationship takes on the appointment to rule on God's behalf. Our adoption will take place at the resurrection (8:23), but our future invades the present so that even now we are God's children (8:16). For Kirk, "new creation is not simply something we look forward to; it is something in which we already participate" (47).

 I will end with what I believe is the essential question Kirk asks, namely, "How should we relate to this  world in the present given that God has a glorious plan drawn up for its future?"(48) Although Paul may not answer this dilemma directly, Kirk believes he can fill in the narrative gaps to answer this correctly. Jesus' death and resurrection are definitive for both are present and future life. We accomplish this by pursuing holiness and the obedience brings aspects of our future life into the present. To take this further, into how we take part in community in the new creation, is by bearing God's image in our "self-giving love" that expresses "our kinship with those to whom we are united by the Spirit" (49).


Unlike the rest of this post, my comments here will be brief. First, I believe Kirk is successful in demonstrating the comprehensive nature of both Jesus's vision of the kingdom of God and Paul's new creation. Additionally, I believe Kirk has been successful in his correlation of these distinct, yet complementary concepts. Second, Kirk's diagnosis of the western emphasis on the individual and hence, the teaching of salvation that has been promulgated in most churches, is spot on. I only wish I had read a book like this when I was an undergrad, instead of the group that came to my dorm room teaching me the Romans Road to Salvation. It was all about me and my relationship with Jesus. Kirk shows that Jesus' kingdom vision and Paul's teaching of 'new creation' fly in the face of this notion. Third, and I think this is where Kirk is extremely astute, he is careful to not throw the baby out with the bathwater, as he does not ignore the individual's need for forgiveness and salvation. Many times when author's rail against the western concept of salvation, the individual is simply dismissed in disgust. Not so with Kirk. I believe he strikes the right balance on this throughout.

I really have no quibbles with this chapter as I found Kirk interesting, convincing, and extremely quotable (as I'm sure readers of the post noticed as well!). So in that vein, I would like to quote Kirk as he comes to the end of this stimulating chapter:

Jesus is Lord because he is the first person to live his life as a true human: perfectly in submission to God and perfectly faithful in bringing the Word and reign of God to bear on the earth.
What it means, then, for us to be followers of Jesus is to live into the full potential of our God-given humanness... (52).

Monday, January 9, 2012

Around the Blogosphere and Gundry's free Ephesians Commentary

There are many interesting, thought-provoking posts swirling around the biblioblogosphere today.

  1. John Byron tackles Tim Tebow, errr, his overzealous fans.
  2. Michael Halcomb performs and instructs with some conversational Greek.
  3. Daniel Kirk kicks off the blog tour for his new book, Jesus Have I Loved, but Paul? Nijay Gupta has  an excellent post on chapter one here. Incidentally, I will be posting on chapter 2 tomorrow, and I am honored to share the stage with Tim Gombis.
  4. Want a freebie? As I posted previously, Robert Gundry's Ephesians is available as a free e-book today only. Click here.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Robert Gundry, Baker Academic, and the Phenomena of Free E-Book Commentaries

Many of you were aware that earlier this week, via Amazon, Baker Academic made a free e-book download  available, The Gospel of Mark commentary, authored by Robert Gundry. This is a part of Gundry's larger one-volume commentary on the New Testament that can be purchased here. Well, it appears that to celebrate the appearance of these e-books, Baker Academic will be providing the Ephesians commentary free this coming Monday, January 9th. This is a one-day only deal, so make sure you scoop it up. This will be followed by a free selection on January 16th and 23rd, respectively.

Here is a link where you can learn more about the series.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Two Cool Hebrews--Related Blogs

Very recently, I came across the blog of Scott D. Mackie, an independent scholar, who specializes in Hebrews. Scott's published revision of his dissertation, Eschatology and Exhortation in The Epistle to the Hebrews appeared in the WUNT of Mohr Siebeck series. Scott runs a helpful site, which includes links to various articles that he has recently published. Do check it out!

One blog, I have known about for some time is run by Brian Small, a PhD candidate at Baylor University, who specializes in Hebrews as well. The title comes from the opening words of Hebrews, hence, Polumeros kai Polutropos. If one is looking for the online haven for Hebrews studies, certainly this is it. Brian has amassed an astounding number of resources on his site, and one would certainly benefit from the hard work he has put in there. 

Add them to your blogroll, now!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Darrell Bock's Theology on Luke-Acts

There is a promising new series by Zondervan called the Biblical Theology of the New Testament, that has already released an initial volume (2009) authored by the series editor, Andreas Köstenberger, A Theology of John’s Gospel and Letters: the Word, the Christ, the Son of God. While I have not read all the way through this volume, it truly is comprehensive! One can find almost any topic relevant to Johannine literature in this volume, which weighs in at a whopping 652 pages! For a good review of this volume, see Nick Norelli, here.

The second volume to be released is authored by Darrell Bock and covers Luke-Acts, entitled, A Theology of Luke-Acts: God's Promised Program Realized for All Nations. Bock is eminently qualified to write such a work as he is authored both the Luke and Acts commentaries for BECNT.

Here are all the particulars: A Theology of Luke & Acts—the second volume in Zondervan’s Biblical Theology of the New Testament Series—offers an in-depth analysis of these two books. Examining Lukan themes, language, and the books’ context within the Bible, Darrell L. Bock offers an indispensable resource to biblical scholars. 

Description: Zondervan’s Biblical Theology of the New Testament Series has for years provided pastors, students, and readers with valuable analyses of New Testament books and their contents. In this latest installment, Darrell L. Bock examines Luke and Acts, drawing from his years of experience in biblical theory and interpretation to write an informative resource sure to prove invaluable for seekers of holistic biblical understanding. A Theology of Luke & Acts identifies and evaluates the contribution of Luke, both to the New Testament and to the Bible as a whole text. Bock aims to demonstrate Luke’s significance and his influence in the development of theological discourse.

Features include: • Lukan themes and thematic relevance • Interpretation and significance of language and vocabulary • Contextual importance of Luke’s placement in the Bible Continuing the valuable tradition of the Biblical Theology of the New Testament Series, Bock’s theories regarding Luke and Acts will prove a lasting resource for pastors and aspiring biblical scholars alike.

Page Count: 496 
Available: March 2012

Doug Moo on Hebrews

As Doug Moo is completing his much-anticipated Galatians commentary for the BECNT series, he is also scheduled to write a Hebrews commentary for the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary series. I have found some audio sermons on Hebrews that Moo delivered at Denver Sound Church nearly four years ago.

Click here to access the page. Enjoy!

The 'Strong One' in Mark 1-2

In the preceding post, I considered the juxtaposed clothing imagery of John the Baptist and Jesus in (1:6,7). Today, I would like to return to the announcement that John makes concerning his ministry vis-a-vis Jesus in 1:7 and how that might relate to what is taking place in the narrative of Mark 2:1-17.

Mark recounts that John is ministering around the Jordan River (1:5) and that he is "proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins"(κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν; 1:4). Mark records that those who lived in Jerusalem and throughout the Judean region were being baptized by John in the Jordan River and were "confessing their sins" (ἐξομολογούμενοι τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν; 1:5). After a description of John's apparel in 1:6, he makes the proclamation in part, "One who is more powerful (or 'the stronger one'; Gk. ὁ ἰσχυρότερός) than I is coming after me..." and this stronger one will surpass John's water baptism, as he will baptize with the Holy Spirit. This 'stronger one' in this instance is of course, Jesus. Hold on to this picture as we skip ahead to chapter 2.

In chapter 2, we discover that Jesus is in Capernaum where we are treated to the memorable story of the paralytic being lowered through the roof by his four friends into the house in which Jesus is staying (2:1-11). The climactic moment occurs in 2:5 where Jesus observes the faith of the men and tells the paralytic, "Child, your sins are forgiven"(τέκνον, ἀφίενταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι.) The scribes, who apparently observe this moment, immediately charge Jesus with blasphemy. After all, they question, "Who is able to forgive sins (ἀφιέναι ἁμαρτίας) except God alone?"(2:7). Jesus responds by asking their question with one of his own, "Which is easier to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ (ἀφίενταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι) or to say ‘Get up and pick up your stretcher and walk’? (2:9) Jesus continues, "But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,(ἀφιέναι ἁμαρτίας)—he said to the paralytic— 'I say to you, get up, pick up your stretcher, and go to your home.'" (2:10-11)

Forging ahead to the next scene, Jesus calls Levi to discipleship and subsequently meets in his house to eat with other tax-collectors and sinners (ἁμαρτωλοὶ; 2:13-15). This sets the stage for another confrontation with the scribes who once again witness this scene and question, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners (ἁμαρτωλῶν; 2:16)?" Jesus' response is revealing, "Those who are healthy (i.e. 'strong'; Gk. οἱ ἰσχύοντες) do not have need of a physician, but those who are sick . I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners(ἁμαρτωλούς; 2:17)."

Okay, so now, finally to the point of this post! Notice, one, that John the Baptist's ministry was self-described as a "baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (1:4) John admits that Jesus' ministry as the 'stronger one' (ὁ ἰσχυρότερός) will surpass his own (1:7). This implication of the superiority of Jesus' ministry of the forgiveness of sins is borne out in the healing of the paralytic, as Jesus confronts the scribes on their charges of blasphemy (2:1-12). When the scribes criticize Jesus' table-fellowship in the next scene, Jesus responds as the 'stronger one' (see 1:7), that those who are healthy, strong (οἱ ἰσχύοντες; 2:17) have no need of Jesus, but those who are sick do, and those who are strong (i.e. the scribes and those like them) are referred to sarcastically as the 'righteous' while those such as the tax-collectors, represented by Levi know they are sinners.

So the question: Could it be that Mark utilizes the same terminology referring to Jesus in 1:7 as the ὁ ἰσχυρότερός and presumably the scribes and other self-righteous groups as the οἱ ἰσχύοντες to make the point that the problem with those who consider themselves healthy and  strong is their attempt to supplant the 'Strong one', i.e., Jesus in matters of forgiveness, table-fellowship and the like?

Sorry for the length of this post, but I'd be happy to hear what you have to say!

Clothing in Mark's Prologue

In all my times reading the prologue of Mark's Gospel (1:2-13), it was not until today that I became curious concerning Mark's reference to clothing, in verses 6,7. The reference to John the Baptist's garb is easy enough to follow, evoking Elijah's apparel in 2 Kings 1:8, as both, John "wore a cloak of camel hair and a belt of leather around his waist...", (ἐνδεδυμένος τρίχας καμήλου καὶ ζώνην δερματίνην περὶ τὴν ὀσφὺν αὐτοῦ...) and Elijah was "a hairy man and a belt of leather girded upon his waist..." (Ἀνὴρ δασὺς καὶ ζώνην δερματίνην περιεζωσμένος τὴν ὀσφὺν αὐτοῦ.). John is presented as the returning Elijah.

In the very next verse (v.7), John makes the statement that "After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals (τὸν ἱμάντα τῶν ὑποδημάτων αὐτοῦ)I am not worthy to stoop down and untie." This is obviously, a reference to Jesus, in light of the quotation of Malachi 3:1, in 1:3.  Matthew's Gospel includes a similar account 3:1-11, but the reference to John's clothing occurs in 3:4, while the reference to sandals does not occur until 3:11. Mark's Gospel has these references in such close proximity one wonders if there is any authorial intentionality here, and if there is, what is Mark driving at as he describes John's clothing along with Jesus' sandles?

What say you?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Gareth Cockerill Lectures on Hebrews

Previously, I had mentioned that Gareth Cockerill has written the replacement volume for Hebrews in the NICNT. The volume will be released in April/May and should prove to be an outstanding contribution to an outstanding series. In the meantime, Dr. Cockerill has informed me that he gave the Chamberlain Holiness Lectures at Wesley Biblical Seminary last fall, where he serves as Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology. The lectures total four in all, and to use his term in lecture one, they provide a "macro-overview" of the Book of Hebrews. Click here to listen.

Blogging My Way Back to Relevancy

Okay, I admit it. My blog, and hence my online voice had become irrelevant. I have known this for quite some time, but I have always had a sort of love-hate relationship with blogging. I go through longer stretches than I would like to admit where I believe I just don't have anything interesting to write. On the other hand, I find myself frustrated with others, whose blogs I enjoy, when they do the same. So what to do about it?

This is not a New Year's Resolution. This is not a start fast and slowly fizzle operation. This is not an empty promise proclamation to blog constantly, or regularly, or semi-regularly. This is a promise to do better than I have in the past. Which means treating this as a discipline rather than an option. Writing is not an option! I find that my reading, thinking, and writing are the things that make me feel most useful, and that I should as a matter of discipline do much more of it!

I am thankful to those of you who have not given up on this blog, and by extension, me. Some of you are kind enough to remark to me, 'Where have you been?'; 'You sure haven't posted in awhile.' It is you, who keep checking in, even as a friend recently remarked, 'Your blog is collecting cobwebs!', that motivate to do better. So, at the end of this post, I simply want to say 'Thanks' and it is my hope to make New Testament Perspectives a good conversation partner in 2012.