Sunday, December 22, 2013

My Journey into the Wilderness with Rikk Watts

I normally don't self-disclose on this blog very much. I know it is my blog and I can do what I want with it, but sharing the details of my personal life is not something on my agenda. This blog hopefully serves a purpose, as I try to keep the readers of it informed, whether through reviews, interviews, or sharing the latest information on the world of New Testament scholarship. This post however, will break that trend. I ask for the reader's indulgence, as I feel this is something that needs to be shared.

For the past seven years, I have been a full-time janitor for a local school system that I actually attended as a youngster. It has been the main provider of support for both my wife and my daughter during that time. I have struggled since receiving my MA in NT studies from Ashland Theological Seminary in 2006, where I had the great privilege of working under my mentors, David deSilva and John Byron. This struggle is in knowing that I have been called to do PhD studies, but having many financial and familial obstacles, has placed the pursuit of that degree on the back burner for some seven years. I am not going to lie, I have had many sleepless nights, conflicted thoughts and emotional duress over the years concerning the whole ordeal. I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea, my wife has been extremely supportive over the years, and wants me to go for it, but also knows the reality of our situation.

Recently, I have been granted some wonderful opportunities, and the reality of doing a PhD may be imminent. I won't go into any details now, because there are still more than a few details to be worked out. Rather, I want to turn my attention to someone who has accompanied me on my journey, and that man is Rikk Watts. Rikk is Professor of New Testament at Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia, and until recently was unwittingly my mentor through what I like to call my 'wilderness experience,' i.e. my vocation as a janitor for the past seven years. I say unwittingly, because Rikk and I did not have a chance to meet in person until the recent SBL Annual Meeting in Baltimore. Fortunately, I got to tell him much of the following face to face over pizza and a beer.

Rikk's audio classes through Regent College have sustained me in my desire to never give up my dreams of serving as a scholar to my church and pursuing the allusive PhD. I get a chance to listen to my iPod at work a few hours a night, and during these times, Rikk's audio courses have left an indelible mark on me. Rarely, will one find the probing intellect and the pastoral warmth that he exhibits time and again, whether while during a lecture on Mark's Gospel he is discussing Jesus' mighty deeds, or in a class on John's Gospel, he ends up discussing the problem of evil in the world. Rikk has had me nearly in tears on more than occasion, as his transparency is even evident through the medium of audio. I would encourage all reader's of this blog to head over to Regent Audio, and purchase some of Rikk's classes. Right now, some of them are running at a discount if you sign up for Regent's audio class newsletter, and several of Rikk's lectures are being offered as a free download.

Everyone needs encouragement, and Rikk has encouraged me. He has kept my ship afloat one could say, and for that I can never repay him. I hope this brief glimpse into my feelings of admiration and now friendship for/with him become as crystal clear as the impact he has made on me, and no doubt, many others.

Below, I leave you with a couple of videos of Rikk, the first is a class he will be teaching in the late spring of 2014, "God's Faithful Character: The Key to the New Testament's Use of the Old"

The second is Rikk discussing Mark's Gospel. Rikk is currently writing the commentary for the Gospel of Mark for the NICNT.

Confusing Symbolism in the book of Revelation? Richard E. Oster, Jr. and the Quote of the Day

Today's gem quote comes from the pen of Richard E. Oster Jr. and his fascinating book, Seven Congregations in a Roman Crucible, on the supposed lack of intelligibility on the symbolic meaning of Revelation:

Much of the later confusion about the ostensibly difficult and opaque symbolism of Revelation has come about because a large population of post-apostolic Christianity has been characterized by an abysmal ignorance of the text, theology, and idiom of the Old Testament. Therefore, modern readers often find it difficult to understand the basic idioms that Revelation uses and that animate its words and theology. After all, the book is entitled 'revelation,' and later readers who do not experience the text of John as revelatory probably owe that to their own unfamiliarity with Scripture, rather than to John's supposed choice of esoteric and mysterious words and images (18; italics mine).

Convicting and convincing words, indeed.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Churches of Revelation: David deSilva's Guided Tour Videos

I have recently discovered that my friend and mentor, David deSilva has produced three outstanding videos on three of the cities mentioned in Revelation 1:11, Ephesus, Pergamum, and Laodicea.

You can view them here:

1) Ephesus:

2) Pergamum:

3) Laodicea

David is a one of the leading scholars of Revelation in the world, so these are a real treat. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

New Photo Added: Raymond Brown and the Dead Sea Scrolls

On my recent trip to St. Mary's Seminary for the John, Jesus, and History Conference, I had the great pleasure of visiting The Raymond E. Brown Johannine Collection, housed as an extension of the seminary's library, and consisting of some 1,700 volumes that belonged to Father Brown. The room was beautiful, climate-controlled, and had many wonderful photos of Ray, many of which appear on the website.

However, there was one photo in particular that I had not seen yet, and it is the most striking I have seen to date. It is a picture of Brown working on the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1958, at the age of 30. At the time, Father Brown along with Father Joseph Fitzmyer, served as fellows at the American School of Oriental Research in 1958-59, working on the Dead Sea Scrolls and collaborating in the preparation of a concordance of the unpublished texts. I have added this wonderful photo to the website with gracious permission granted by the Associated Sulpicians of the U.S. Archives and the Associated Archives of St. Mary's Seminary and University.

This is now my favorite photo of Father Brown, enjoy!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Epic Conversation Between Two New Testament Giants: Raymond E. Brown and Ernst Käsemann

After several attempts at tracking down the copyright ownership of a newspaper photo of a discussion between Raymond E. Brown and Ernst Käsemann at the World Council of Churches Meeting in 1963, without any success, I have decided to post the photo on the Raymond Brown website, here.

If I do find the permissions, I will then take the photo down, until I receive said permissions.

But until then, this historic, long-forgotten photo is priceless! Oh, to be a fly on the wall of that conversation!

Recent Durham Dissertation on Paul and Philo

Orrey McFarland, a recent graduate of Durham University, has completed his doctoral dissertation under the supervision of John Barclay, and it looks to be a fascinating study.

The title of the dissertation is  The God who Gives: Philo and Paul in Conversation. To read his work, go here.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Gordon Wenham on the Psalms

Lately, I have been scouring the web for some solid resources on the Psalms, which I plan on studying in the coming year for personal edification, and well, frankly, to understand them better than I do, now.

I was delighted that eminent OT scholar, Gordon Wenham, has written a book (Crossway Publishing) that looks like the ideal starting place for yours truly.  Here the details:

Though frequently used in times of crisis or pain, the book of Psalms is often misread or misunderstood, seeming like a disorganized jumble of prayer, praise, and lament. To help readers get more out of the Psalms, renowned Old Testament scholar Gordon Wenham highlights its foundational place for all Christian worship and spiritual formation. This compilation of eight lectures delivered between 1997 and 2010 teaches the practices of singing, reading, and praying the Psalms, paying special attention to the Psalter’s canonical structure, messianic focus, and ethical goal. In drawing on his extensive academic and scholarly experience, Wenham has crafted a guide for discovering afresh the manifold wonders of this beautiful and surprisingly complex portion of the Bible.


“It is hard to imagine a better introduction to the book of Psalms, whether for pastors, seminary students, or general readers. Gordon Wenham, one of the most respected Old Testament scholars of our time, makes a compelling case for the relevance of the psalms for both public and private worship. The Psalter Reclaimed is engagingly written, well informed, practical, and genuinely inspiring.” —Gordon P. Hugenberger, Senior Minister, Park Street Church, Boston

“We are grateful to Professor Wenham for gathering in one volume many of his special studies on the Psalms, for many the favorite book of the First Testament. The essays included here not only introduce readers to the history of scholarship on the Psalter, but also provide us with hermeneutical guidelines for interpreting the book. And best of all, they make accessible to us its inspiring and transforming message.” —Daniel I. Block, Gunther H. Knoedler Professor of Old Testament, Wheaton College; author, The Gospel according to Moses: Theological and Ethical Reflections on the Book of Deuteronomy

“This collection of essays is vintage Gordon Wenham. Taking seriously both the church’s tradition of using the psalms and the possibilities provided by the latest exegesis, he shows us what it means to make use of the Psalter and how this can be done. The result is a rich theological and exegetical brew that nourishes both heart and head.” —David Firth, Lecturer in Old Testament, St John’s College, Nottingham, United Kingdom; author, Hear, O Lord: A Spirituality of the Psalms

“This book’s many virtues make it instructive and refreshing: I appreciate its stress on the psalms’ place in public worship, and the speech-act notion of self-involvement in singing. Wenham also offers helpful arguments for respecting the titles of the psalms. And the creative approach to ‘canonical reading’ allows us to view each psalm both as a composition for public singing and as a part of the canonical book (which may guide our interpretation). I heartily commend this work!” —C. John Collins, Professor of Old Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary; author, Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?

“As someone who comes from an Asian (Filipino) context, I find it heartwarming to read The Psalter Reclaimed. This book helps those of us in the majority world, where the church continues to grow, by showing us a way of reading the psalms that brings us closer to God.” —Federico Villanueva, Associate Professor and Director of Biblical Studies, Alliance Graduate School, Manila, Philippines; author, It’s OK to Be Not OK: The Message of the Lament Psalms

“The Psalter Reclaimed is an absolute delight! This study takes us on a whirlwind journey through the book of Psalms, hitting all the high points along the way. Themes like the dynamic of singing our theology; reading the Psalms as a book, as prayers, and in the light of Christ; and dealing with the ‘nasty’ psalms are all considered with real exegetical insight and winsomeness. If your desire is to ‘reclaim the Psalter,’ then this is definitely the book for you.” — Jamie Grant, Lecturer in Biblical Studies, Highland Theological College, Dingwall, Scotland; author, The King as Exemplar: The Function of Deuteronomy's Kingship Law in the Shaping of the Book of Psalms

Table of Contents 1. What are we doing singing the Psalms? 2. Praying the Psalms 3. Reading the Psalms Canonically 4. Reading the Psalms Messianically 5. The Ethics of the Psalms 6. The Imprecatory Psalms 7. Psalm 103: The Song of Steadfast Love 8. The Psalms and the Nations

Specifications Format: Paperback Page Count: 208; $15.99

Moreover, Tony Reinke has a nice interview with Wenham about this volume  you can listen to here.

HT: Justin Taylor

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Rodney Decker's Reading Koine Greek

I have been eagerly awaiting Rodney Decker's Reading Koine Greek: An Introduction and Integrated Workbook when I first heard about it some year's ago.

Well, the wait is coming to an end! In August (2014) Baker Academic will be releasing what is sure to be a gem of a grammar.

Here are the particulars:

This in-depth yet student-friendly introduction to Koine Greek provides a full grounding in Greek grammar while starting to build skill in the use of exegetical tools. The approach, informed by twenty-five years of classroom teaching, emphasizes reading Greek for comprehension as opposed to merely translating it. The workbook is integrated into the textbook, enabling students to encounter real examples as they learn each new concept. The book covers not only New Testament Greek but also the wider range of Bible-related Greek (LXX and other Koine texts). It introduces students to reference tools for biblical Greek, includes tips on learning, and is supplemented by robust web-based resources through Baker Academic's Textbook eSources, offering course help for professors and study aids for students.

The book retails at $49.99, but is a massive 560 pages!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Happy Belated Birthday, Charlie!

I just realized that C.F.D. ("Charlie") Moule's 105th birthday was this past December 3rd.  Those of you who visit the blog may recall some audio files that I discovered of his, in which I posted, here.

Other resources of note, is a helpful bibliography here, a great post by Daniel Wallace about his friendship and letter writing correspondence with Moule, here, and a sermon written by former student, Dr. Rowan Williams, and also former Archbishop of Cantebury, here.

A man's legacy is often defined by those for whom he mentored. With former students such as James D.G. Dunn, Graham Stanton, and Andrew Lincoln, Moule's legacy is a great one indeed, and continues to shape the contours of serious NT scholarship today.

At the risk of getting the details wrong, I was fortunate to have lunch with the aforementioned Lincoln at the SBL annual meeting in Baltimore. I asked him about Charlie and one of the stories he told me was that Charlie could be routinely found reading his well worn Greek New Testament in a park behind Cambridge University at about 6:00 in the morning. Lincoln told me that was Charlie doing his devotions.

Charlie was known as a man of profound faith and genuine humility. It was friend and fellow NT giant, Joachim Jeremias, who said of Moule, "In him could be seen no trace of original sin."

Happy Belated Birthday, Charlie!

The Love of God Made Visible: Francis J. Moloney and Dorothy Lee teach eConference on the Gospel of John

Some time ago, I discovered that the Australian Catholic Bishops conference featured an e-conference on the Gospel of Mark taught by eminent NT scholar, Francis Moloney.

I have now discovered that Frank is at it again, as he joined another excellent Johannine scholar in Dorothy Lee in teaching an e-conference on the Gospel of John.

Frank Moloney and I in my study.
One will need to download the video player for the site in order to watch the videos. It is remarkable how much material is covered in such a short amount of time, speaking to the mastery over this material that both of these scholars have over the contents of the Fourth Gospel.


Friday, November 29, 2013

C.E.B. Cranfield and the Quote of the Day

I found this to be a particularly insightful quote from the great Charles Cranfield on the importance of the history of scholarship, in this case, Romans, but this could be applied to any other OT or NT text for that matter:

The student of the epistle who consults but a single commentary is perforce involved to some extent in a conversation with St Paul but also with this long exegetical tradition; for every reputable commentary carries a great deal of this tradition-- even if the commentator is himself largely ignorant of the more distant sources of the things which he says. But to gain something more than an altogether superficial knowledge of the course of tradition is to learn a deep respect and affection for, and gratitude to, those who have laboured in the field before one, irrespective of the barriers between different confessions, theological and critical viewpoints, nations and epochs; to learn to admire the engagement with Paul's thought of some of the greatest minds from the third to the twentieth century, but also to be humbled by the discovery that even the earnest and least perceptive have from time to time something worth to contribute; to learn that it is naive to imagine that old commentaries are simply superseded by new ones, since, even the good commentator, while he will have some new insights of his own and will be able to correct some errors and make good some deficiencies of the past, will also have his own particular blind spots and will see less clearly, or even miss altogether, some things which some one before him has seen clearly; and, above all, to learn that all commentators (including those who in the next few pages will be most highly praised and also--and this is perhaps the most difficult lesson for any commentator to grasp--oneself) have feet of clay, and that therefore both slavish deference to any of them and also presumptuous self-confidence must alike be eschewed. (Romans I:I-VIII; 31-32)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Beverly Roberts Gaventa on Raymond E. Brown

Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Department of Religion, Baylor University, was kind enough to share the recollections that she delivered at Fr. Brown's Memorial service at Union Theological Seminary in the Fall of 1988.
Beverly Roberts Gaventa

Gaventa was a student of Brown's when she achieved her M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary, N.Y. You can read her address here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Book Notice: The Lost World of Scripture

The kind folks at InterVarsity Press Academic were kind and thoughtful in sending my way The Lost World of Scripture: Ancient Literary Culture and Biblical Authority . The volume is coauthored by John H. Walton, responsible for writing the sections related to the Old Testament, and D. Brent Sandy, who wrote the sections related to the New Testament. The book appears as a successor to the volume, The Lost World of Genesis One, authored by Walton.

Perhaps a good summary statement of the book's objective is expressed here:

Our specific objective is to understand better how both the Old and New Testaments were spoken, written and passed on, especially with an eye to possible implications for the Bible's inspiration and authority (Preface; 9).
 This book might go someway in reframing the inerrancy debate, and give folks like your' s truly, a satisfactory redefinition of a term that has longed for careful reexamination.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels:Essay Review Part I

Brant J. Pitre

One of the most difficult topics in New Testament studies today is apocalypse and its corresponding adjective, apocalyptic. As scholars well know, this term is used often imprecisely, frustrating attempts at clarity and nuance. Adding to this problem is the attempt to discover Jesus and the Gospels relationship to these rather nebulous terms.

In the first edition of the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (henceforth, DJG), the entries for "Apocalyptic" and "Apocalyptic Teaching" were divided into two, authored, in the case of the former, by Dale Allison, and in the latter, T.J. Geddert (17-27). In the second edition of DJG, the entries are now combined and are deemed, "Apocalypticism and Apocalyptic Teaching" (23-33). I was delighted to see that Brant Pitre, Professor of Sacred Scripture, Notre Dame Seminary, New Orleans, was given this difficult assignment. Brant is one of the brightest, young, historical Jesus scholars going today, as he is aptly demonstrated in his publication of his revised dissertation, Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of Exile: Restoration Eschatology and the Origin of the Atonement (Mohr Siebeck; Baker Academic; 2005).

Pitre  begins the entry by noting that "apocalypse" is used in three different ways: 1) As a genre of literature in existence at the time of Jesus; 2) The terms apocalyptic and apocalypticism reflect a social and religious worldview shared by many of Jesus contemporaries and is often reflected in written apocalypse; 3) "apocalyptic eschatology" refers to features of apocalypse and the apocalyptic worldview that focus on the cataclysmic end of the cosmos (23-24). Building off of these nuances, Pitre divides the essay into six parts: 1) Jesus and Apocalyptic Genre; 2) Jesus and the Apocalyptic Worldview; 3) Jesus and Apocalyptic Eschatology; 4) Jesus, the Oliver Discourse and Apocalyptic Language; 5) Apocalyptic Teaching in the Four Gospels; 6) The Apocalyptic Death and Resurrection of Jesus. What follows will be a brief examination of each of these sections.

The first section, Jesus and Apocalyptic Genre (24-25), begins by noting that John J. Collins still provides the most useful definition of the literary genre of apocalyptic, namely  "a genre of revelatory literature with a narrative framework, in which a revelation is mediated by an otherworldly being to a human recipient, disclosing a transcendent reality which is both temporal, insofar as it envisages eschatological salvation, and spatial, insofar as it involves another, supernatural world" (The Apocalyptic Imagination; 4-5; here 24). Second, Pitre notes that the most important texts for studying Jesus' and the Gospels apocalyptic backgrounds are 1 Enoch, 4 Ezra, 2 Baruch, Testament of Moses, and the Apocalypse of Abraham. Further, the book of Daniel is most important for Jesus for four reasons: 1) The Son of Man, 2) the Kingdom of God-"when Jesus speaks of the coming of the kingdom, he is speaking of the Danielic kingdom of God", (25), 3) the suffering Son of Man (Dan 7:13-14, 24-25), 4) "the abomination of desolation" (Mt 24:15; Mk 3:14; Lk 21:20; cf. Dan 9:24-25).

In the second section, Jesus and the Apocalyptic Worldview (25-27), Pitre notes that an apocalyptic worldview is marked by a prominent interest in otherworldly revelation, and in the case of Jesus, his revelations and visions as portrayed in the Gospels are relatively veiled when compared go other Jewish apocalyptic literature (26). Other prominent features of an apocalyptic worldview are the belief in angels and demons, otherworldly realms (e.g. 'heaven', 'hell', 'Gehenna'), and its interest in the end of the present world and the beginning of the world to come (27).

The third major section, Jesus and Apocalyptic Eschatology, masterfully surveys the three major interpretive schools, namely, an apocalyptic Jesus, a nonapocalyptic Jesus, and an eschatological Jesus. The fourth section, Jesus, the Olivet Discourse and Apocalyptic Language (Mt 24-25; Mk 13; Lk 21), argues that much of the Olivet Discourse originated with Jesus himself (29), and that " could argue that Jesus saw his death as the Danielic messiah as inaugurating the eschatological tribulation and destruction of the temple" (30). Much recent scholarship of the Olivet Discourse tends to focus the imagery of the Sun and moon being darkened and the stars falling at the coming of the "Son of Man" (Mt 24:29-35; Mk 13:24-27; cf. Lk 21:26).

Finally, Pitre surveys apocalyptic teaching in the four Gospels (30-32), and in a seperate and final section, discusses the Apocalyptic Death and Resurrection of Jesus (32). In the latter, Pitre notes that the unique and controversial Matthean account of the resurrection of the "holy ones" triggered by the death of Jesus (Mt 27:51-53), model the two-fold movement of Jewish apocalyptic eschatology: 1) the sufferings of the righteous in the eschatological tribulation (the so-called messianic woes) are followed by 2) the glorification of the elect in the eschatological resurrection (32).

In sum, Pitre' s entry in DJG II is masterful, in keeping with the high standards of this series, and should be the first port of call for studying Jesus and his relationship to Jewish apocalyptic literature.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Quote of the Day: Brant Pitre on Jesus and the Roman Empire

 Brant Pitre' s outstanding entry "Apocalypticism and Apocalyptic Teaching", in the massively revised Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, has an interesting take on the topic of Jesus and the Gospels relationship to the Roman Empire:
As a general rule, apocalyptic movements are often intensely focused on earthly powers and political events, especially Gentile powers that persecute the chosen people of God (e.g., Dan 2; 7; 11-12) (Vielhauer). Despite the contention of certain scholars that Jesus is engaged in a direct and extensive critique of the Roman Empire (Wright 1996; Horsley), we do not find anywhere near the same amount of explicit attention given to political events or the pagan empires in the teachings of Jesus as we do in early Jewish apocalypses, or even in the biblical prophets. Apart from a brief teaching about giving to Caesar what belongs to Caesar (Mk 12:13-17), and the forecast of political strife an  'wars and rumors of wars' in the Olivet Discourse (Mt 24:3-8; Mk 13:3-8; Lk 21:5-9), Jesus' teaching in the Gospels as a whole is far more focused on the otherworldly forces behind visible personal and political events--the angels and demons, the kingdom of God, the 'kingdom' of Satan--than on the visible political forces and earthly powers themselves. Earthly political forces apparently have 'no power' except that given them 'from above' (Jn 19:11) (27).

This reminds me a bit of the Barclay-Wright discussions at SBL a few year's ago. Pitre like Barclay, seems to suggest that the "Emperor wears no clothes." What say you?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Book Notice: The Unrelenting God

A nice surprise came in the mail today, a festschrift that celebrates Beverly Gaventa and her scholarship, The Unrelenting God: God's Action in Scripture: Essays in Honor of Beverly Roberts Gaventa (Eerdmans).

The volume looks excellent, as editors David J. Downs and Matthew L. Skinner are to be applauded for putting together an all-star cast of such luminaries as William S. Campbell, Joel B. Green, Richard Hays, Francis Watson, Martinus C. deBoer, to name just a few.

Especially valuable is the reflection of J. Louis Martyn, who along with Raymond E. Brown, were Gaventa' s professors at Union Theological Seminary. Martyn writes "A Personal Word" that I quote here in full:

A venerable piece of wisdom has it that the true gift to the teacher is the genuine student whose learning process reaches out and engages the teacher, thereby causing both parties to emerge changed, enriched in ways anticipated by neither. Student becomes teacher and teacher student, as both are surprised by new vistas opened up precisely in their instructive comradeship. It is an event of grace; and so it was to be a teacher to Beverly Gaventa. (x).

High praise indeed.  I'm looking forward to digging into this one.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (Second Edition): Preliminary Observations II

The new font style in the second edition
The original font in the first edition
Two classics side-by-side

One additional difference I would like to note is the difference in font style between the first and second edition. This may seem insignificant to some, but I really enjoy the new font as it looks very similar to one of my favorite fonts, Georgia.

I will be reviewing some select essays in the following week. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

N.T. Wright Webcast

I just got word that @ 11:00 am Eastern time, N.T. Wright will be delivering a webcast on his highly anticipated magnum opus, Paul and the Faithfulness of God. The webcast is hosted by Wycliffe Hall, and can be accessed here.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (Second Edition): Preliminary Observations Part I

Well, Christmas came early for me as I received the highly-anticipated second edition of the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels in the mail yesterday. Thanks to Adrianna Wright and the good folks at IVP Academic for sending a review copy along!

I plan on doing a series of posts on this fine resource, but for now, I have only been able to take a cursory look. What I can tell you may sound like "Mr. Master of the Obvious," but I'll say it anyway, this volume is impressive. Quite simply if you are a NT student/scholar, you need to find room in your budget and bookshelves and get this volume. With SBL coming up, there will be a healthy discount, but even at full price, $60.00, this volume is a steal.

Just some quick stats that I had a chance to compile, comparing the first and second editions:

Page Count (1st edition): 896 (without indices), 933 pp. total
                    (2nd edition): 1,023 (without indices), 1088 pp. total

Number of Articles (1st edition): 176
                                 (2nd edition): 173

Number of Contributors: (1st edition): 95
                                          (2nd edition): 128

From the above stats, it becomes quickly apparent that the second edition is substantially bigger and more contributors participated in writing dictionary entries. I was a bit surprised that the number of entries was slightly less in the second volume. However, a caveat is in order, as I believe (this point still needs confirming), that many entry topics were combined in the second edition. Moreover, it appears the second edition has expanded its coverage as I saw entries for Post-Colonial, African-American, Latin, and Feminist Criticism(s) of the Gospels to name a few.

For all intents and purposes, the second edition is a near stand-alone from the first edition. For that reason, I recommend keeping the first if you do own it. It can be said, and this is saying a lot, that the second edition more than lives up to the standard of the IVP "Black Series" of Dictionaries. I cannot wait to dig in!

More to come...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Greek for the Rest of Us (Second Edition)

Last fall, at the conclusion of the Gospel of John class I taught for the Trinity Institute at my church, I
remarked that I had often thought I would like to offer a class on Biblical Greek for any interested lay folk. To my surprise, those that were in a class of fifteen were all excited about the idea. I explained to them that the class would cover the essentials of Greek grammar and would be geared towards making them knowledgeable in doing word studies and also interacting with commentaries.

So, thanks to my friend, Emily Varner, I have recently had chance to revisit those very thoughts I expressed nearly a year ago. She has sent along a copy of William Mounce's Greek for the Rest of Us: The Essentials of Biblical Greek (Second Edition). Mounce's goals are spelled out in the Introduction entitled, "What Would it Look Like if You Knew a Little Greek?" (xi-xvii). Mounce's stated goals for those who work through Greek for the Rest of Us mirror most of what I envisioned teaching a potential class. First, would be learning how to use Bible software; second would to be to learn the meaning of the Greek words that underlie the English; third would be to learn the basics of exegesis; fourth would be to learn why English translations differ, and the last goal is to enable the student to learn how to read and interact with good commentaries.

I will post on this resource again as I get time to look it over. I am curious to see how Mounce, one of the most recognized authors and teachers of Biblical Greek, carries this agenda forward.

More anon...

Book Notices: Two Jesus and the Gospels Volumes from Eerdmans Publishing

Recently, Eerdmans publishing was kind enough to send me two volumes, one by James D.G. Dunn, The Oral Gospel Tradition, a collection of Dunn's essays on this topic that have spanned the last 35 years. I am looking forward to carving out some time and diving in. Dunn is one of the top NT scholars alive, and this collection of fifteen of his essays will surely prove to be thought-provoking, not to mention, good reading, since Dunn is an excellent writer and scholar.
The other volume, authored by Vernon K. Robbins, Who Do People Say I Am? : Rewriting Gospel in Emerging Christianity, arose out of a class Robins taught nearly thirty years ago at Emory University, entitled "Jesus and the Gospels." This book looks to be a sure guide as Robbins analyzes both canonical and non-canonical gospels and their portraits of Jesus. I look forward to dipping into this volume a bit in the near future. My feeling is after a cursory glance, that this book might provide a valuable introduction to the topic for undergraduate/graduate students.

Thanks again to the kind folks at Eerdmans for sending these along.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Abraham Lincoln and the Quote of the Day

I have often remarked to family and friends that outside of New Testament scholarship, my one other great passion is on all things Abraham Lincoln.

So it is with this caveat that on a NT blog, I have excused myself from the typical postings on all things NT-related and offer this gem of a quote on writing delivered by Lincoln in his "Lecture on Discoveries and Inventions" read to the Phi Alpha Society of Illinois College at Jacksonville, Illinois, on February 11, 1859:

Writing--the art of communicating thoughts to the mind, through the eye--is the great invention of the world. Great in the astonishing range of analysis and combination which necessarily underlies the most crude and general conception of it--great, very great in enabling us to converse with the dead, the absent, and the unborn, at all distances of time and of space; and great, not only in its direct benefits, but greatest help, to all other inventions.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

N.T. Wright: The Nomad Podcast

N.T. Wright's Paul and the Faithfulness of God, is perhaps the most anticipated volume to arrive in NT studies in years. Scot McKnight opines that it is the most eloquently written theological book since Schweitzer's Quest for the Historical Jesus.  High praise indeed.

Recently, Wright appears on the Nomad Podcast where he discusses his forthcoming magnum opus. The interview goes much longer than the allotted 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Select Works of C.K. Barrett- Logos Bible Software

The good folks at Logos Bible Software, namely, good friend, Cliff Kvidahl, was nice enough to send a review copy of the "Select Works of C.K. Barrett" (7 vols.). Barrett, along with Dodd, were the two most significant British New Testament scholars of the 20th century. Being a huge fan of Barrett, this is veritable goldmine for this Logos user.

The collection consists of:

  1. New Testament Background; Publisher: SPCK; Publication Date: 1956; Pages: 392 
  2. Gospel According to John; Publisher: SPCK; Publication Date: 1978 (Second Edition); Pages: 656
  3. Holy Spirit and Gospel Tradition; Publisher: SPCK; Publication Date: 1958 (Second Edition); Pages: 176
  4. New Testament Essays; Publisher: SPCK; Publication Date: 1972; Pages: 159
  5. Gospel of John and Judaism; Publisher: SPCK; Publication Date: 1975; Pages: 101
  6. Essays on John; Publisher: SPCK; Publication Date: 1982; Pages: 167
  7. Essays on Paul; Publisher: SPCK; Publication Date: 1982; Pages: 170
Here is a screenshot of Barrett's famous John commentary and also his influential essay "The Dialectical Theology of St. John":

I will have more on this bundle in the weeks to come.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Character Studies in the Fourth Gospel

I am delighted to announce that a volume in which I was fortunate to contribute is now available for order, Character Studies in the Fourth Gospel (Mohr Siebeck).

My essay on the neighbors of the man born blind (9.8-13), maybe the first sustained narrative study of these characters in the Fourth Gospel. I was fortunate to be shepherded through this essay by the three best editors a writer could ask for in Steven Hunt, Francois Tolmie, and Ruben Zimmermann. To say that they were helpful is a huge understatement.

I am also delighted to appear in such a prestigious volume with some of the greatest Johannine scholars in the world. All of the contributors and ordering info appears here.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Francis J. Moloney's 2013 Mullen Lecture

Last night, I had the privilege of attending the annual Mullen Lecture delivered by Francis J. Moloney at St. Mary's Seminary in Ohio.

Frank's topic was "Love in the Gospel of John: to What End? The lecture, as one might imagine, was very well attended, and also served to whet the audience's appetite for Moloney's forthcoming Love in the Gospel of John: An Exegetical, Theological, and Literary Study (Baker Academic).

At the conclusion of Frank's wonderful address, Father Gerald Bednar presented him with the first copy of the aforementioned book, slated for a November release.
Francis J. Moloney delivering the Mullen Lecture, September 29, 2013. Photo taken by Matthew D. Montonini

I am hoping that St. Mary's will make the video recording available soon, but in the meantime, I am delighted that the full text of Frank's lecture is available here.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Excerpt of N.T. Wright's Paul and the Faithfulness of God

Perhaps the most anticipated book of the fall in NT studies, N.T. Wright's Paul and the Faithfulness of God, now offers the reader a sneak peek as to what all the fuss is about.

Fortress Press has included the Table of Contents, the Preface, and chapter one, "Return of the Runaway?" (74 pages long!). Enjoy!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Scripture and Ministry Lecture: Gareth Cockerill on Hebrews

The Scripture and Ministry Lecture at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School was given by Gareth Cockerill on the topic "Do not Refuse the One Who is Speaking (Heb 12:25): Hebrews and Contemporary Preaching."

It is now available to stream here.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Ringing Endorsements for Moloney's Love in the Gospel of John

A couple of months ago, I did a brief write-up on Francis J. Moloney's forthcoming Love in the Gospel of John: An Exegetical, Theological, and Literary Study.

Since that time, more endorsements have come in for this highly anticipated volume.

Here are the blurbs, some of the best I have ever read for a forthcoming volume, and might I add, very well deserved!:


"Francis J. Moloney is one of the most distinguished Catholic scholars of John's Gospel in the English-speaking world today. In his latest work on the Fourth Gospel, he displays his fine gifts as an able teacher. Having absorbed a vast amount of literature on the topic of love in John's Gospel, he presents his own argument in a clear, orderly form that even the uninitiated can grasp." John P. Meier, Warren Chair Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame

 "Francis J. Moloney is well known for his narrative commentaries on the Gospel of John. In Love in the Gospel of John, he uses his understanding of narrative to explore and interpret the theology of the Gospel. He sees that John tells the story of Jesus as the story of God, who, for love of the world, gave his Son to save the world, and argues that this reality is integral to the Gospel and the source of Jesus' command to 'love one another as I have loved you.' Readers interested in John will want to read this book." John Painter, professor of theology, School of Theology, Charles Sturt University

"Decades of study of the Fourth Gospel have uniquely qualified Frank Moloney to write this book about love in the Gospel of John. What he has written is a story of God's love for the world, manifest in Jesus' love for his own until the end and proclaimed in the Gospel according to John. The evangelist's story has all the twists and turns of any real love story. Moloney sheds light on these several twists and turns as only he, among contemporary English-language scholars, can do." Raymond F. Collins, visiting scholar, Department of Religious Studies, Brown University

"What better way to crown a lifetime of research and writing on the Gospel of John than to produce a book on its major theme of love! Francis Moloney, one of the world's leading experts on the Gospel, has brought to bear his keen analysis of the text and vast knowledge of the secondary literature in this comprehensive study. Moloney not only illuminatingly treats God's love for the world in the giving of the Son, the love commandment, and the Beloved Disciple but also embeds the discussion of such topics in the developing narrative as it moves towards Jesus' hour of glory. In showing how love pervades this Gospel and is integrally related to its other major themes, Moloney's engaging book is bound to become indispensable reading for all students of John's Gospel and its theology." Andrew T. Lincoln, Portland Professor of New Testament Studies, University of Gloucestershire

"'Love in Action' could be the subtitle of this very fine study of John's Gospel. Frank Moloney focuses not only on the relational aspects of love--between Father and Son, God and the world, Jesus and disciples, disciples and one another--but also on the performative consequences of this love: what love looks like, particularly in the Johannine Passion. This book reads as the culmination of a lifetime of exegetical skill, research, and lived discipleship, enabling Moloney to express the heart of the Gospel's message in the one word love." Mary L. Coloe, associate professor, MCD University of Divinity, Melbourne, Australia

 "Love plays a central role in the Gospel of John, and in this fine volume Frank Moloney offers a richly textured interpretation of the theme. With insights gained from a lifetime of engagement with this Gospel, Moloney invites readers to see the many facets of love that are disclosed by John's narrative and to discover anew the ways in which love's many dimensions cohere in the self-giving actions of Jesus. Scholars and students, theologians and pastors will welcome this compelling treatment of the idea that shapes John's understanding of God, Jesus, and the path of discipleship." Craig R. Koester, Asher O. and Carrie Nasby Professor of New Testament, Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minnesota

"The reader soon discovers that this is not a narrow treatment of the love command in the Gospel of John but a full-scale expedition into the heart of the Gospel's theology. Along the way it offers fresh and insightful interpretations of Jesus' mission, his work, and the centrality of the cross in the Gospel. Moloney knows this theological terrain so intimately that he makes sure the reader does not miss the grand vistas it offers." R. Alan Culpepper, McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University

"Love in the Gospel of John is unique; it is not a semantic study of the words for love in the Fourth Gospel but a study of love in action. According to Moloney, in the Gospel of John it is Jesus' task, his mission, 'to make love known' in the world. The culmination of the revelation of love is seen in the death of Jesus on the cross, where Jesus himself enacts what he says in John 15:13: 'No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.' Moloney's interpretation of John cannot leave us indifferent, and his book has the rare quality of calling us to actions of love not with moralizing appeals but with rational insight and narrative transformation. A much-needed book that will appeal both to scholars in the field of Johannine studies and to interested nonspecialists." Reimund Bieringer, professor of New Testament exegesis, Catholic University of Louvain (Leuven), Belgium

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Francis J. Moloney: Online Mark Videos

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference that took place this past May 16, 2013, had as its theme, "St. Mark: A Crucified and Risen Messiah."

One of the two speakers was eminent NT scholar, Fr.Francis J. Moloney, SDB. Moloney speaks in two separate sessions, each lasting around 25 minutes apiece.

I highly recommend viewing these videos, as you will see a master teacher communicate Markan essentials in a brief period of time.

Best of all, these videos can now be accessed here. You will have to download a specific player to see the videos, but it is free and painless.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Bultmann and the Fourth Gospel: Introducing the Johannine Monograph Series

Paul N. Anderson, Professor of Biblical and Quaker Studies at George Fox University, along with R. Alan Culpepper, Dean of the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University, are teaming up as co-editors of an important new monograph series, the Johannine Monograph Series (henceforth, JMS; Wipf & Stock).

R. Alan Culpepper
Paul N. Anderson 
What is distinctive about this series is the fact that Anderson and Culpepper are reintroducing important, seminal works on the Fourth Gospel and the Johannine epistles to a whole new generation of students and scholars. The first to kick off the JMS series, and perhaps the most important commentary ever written on John's Gospel, is Rudolf Bultmann's, The Gospel of John: A Commentary. I have had the pleasure of reading the foreword written by Paul Anderson, and it is simply the best evaluation I have ever read of Bultmann's commentary. This volume should be out within the month.
Rudolf Bultmann

Other volumes slated for subsequent release in this series are:

D. Moody Smith, The Composition and Order of the Fourth Gospel 
Peder Borgen, Bread from Heaven
Wayne Meeks, The Prophet-King 
David Wead, Literary Devices in the Fourth Gospel (revised edition)
Michael Theobald, The Lord's Sayings in the Gospel of John (revised, translated)

Anderson and Culpepper are to be congratulated on this service to scholars and students alike. I especially look forward to seeing Bultmann in paperback, a much more affordable venture!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Raymond F. Collins Reflects on Raymond E. Brown

Fr. Raymond F. Collins, an elite Pauline scholar, and Visiting Scholar in the Department of Religious Studies at Brown University, has graciously shared some of his memories of his friendship with Fr. Raymond E. Brown on the website.

Many of you will know Fr. Collins for his excellent commentaries on First Corinthians (Sacra Pagina) and Second Corinthians (Paideia), so this is a huge honor for me personally to have his reflections on the site. Click here to read more.

Graham Twelftree's Paul and the Miraculous Excerpt

Baker Academic has generously posted a 51-page excerpt on Graham Twelftree's Paul and the Miraculous. 

Twelftree is perhaps the leading New Testament scholar on the subject of miracles, and he tackles an oft-neglected area here, namely, Paul's letters.

I am really looking forward to this volume.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

PhD Dissertation: The Role of the Jewish Feasts in John's Gospel

I was delighted to discover recently, a PhD thesis written by Gerald Wheaton at the University of St. Andrews in 2010. The dissertation was supervised by Kelly Iverson, a great up and coming Markan scholar who is now at Baylor University.

The dissertation is entitled, The Role of the Jewish Feasts in John's Gospel. You can download it here.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Two New Images of Raymond E. Brown

I owe a debt of gratitude to Tricia T. Pyne, Ph.D. , Director, Associated Archives at St. Mary's Seminary & University for educating me on copyright laws as well as allowing me (with permissions) to feature two more images of Father Raymond E. Brown. These two I have never seen before and one is now my favorite, which I deem "Fr. Ray: The Thinker."

Many of the other photos of which I was naively unaware also belonged to the copyright of the Sulpicians in association with St. Mary's Seminary and University. Thankfully, those are now also being used with permissions. It is important that this website maintains the integrity that Fr. Brown carried throughout his life. I will be much more careful in the future regarding uses of images and the like on the site.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Raymond E. Brown Site: New Page Added

I have some wonderful news regarding the Raymond E. Brown site to announce. I have been granted permissions from Liturgical Press to reproduce a PDF of the excellent biography authored by Ronald D. Witherup, S.S. and an exhaustive bibliography produced by Michael L. Barré, S.S. in the monograph dedicated to Brown, Life in Abundance: Studies of John's Gospel in Tribute to Raymond E. Brown, 253-289.

Visitors can view the site here.  Enjoy!!!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Raymond Brown Website Update: Two Articles Added

I have added yet two more articles to the Raymond E. Brown website, the first, issued by Theological Studies in issue 35.2 (1974) is "Luke's Description of the Virginal Conception," and the second is also from Theological Studies, issue 42.1 (1981),  entitled "And the Lord Said?: Biblical Reflections on Scripture as the Word of God."

You can view the update here.

Doug Moo's Galatians: An Excerpt

The good folks at Baker Academic have  provided a 36 page excerpt sneak preview  of Doug Moo's highly-anticipated commentary on Galatians (BECNT) slated for a November release.

Click here and enjoy! 

Gordon Fee's Classic Getting a Makeover

My good friend, Cliff Kvidahl, alerted me to some news regarding an update of Gordon Fee's classic 1 Corinthians commentary (NICNT) .

Here are the particulars of the second edition:

Fully updated exegesis of 1 Corinthians 

This award-winning commentary by Gordon Fee, originally published in 1987, has been lauded as the best study available of Paul's theologically rich first letter to the Corinthians. Writing primarily for pastors, teachers, and students, Fee offers a readable exposition of 1 Corinthians that clearly describes the meaning of Paul's ideas and their larger theological relevance. More scholarly matters, including Fee's considerable interaction with other commentators, are found in the footnotes. In this second edition, Fee has updated the text to make it even more accessible, including giving all biblical citations in full so that readers don't have to look up references. Fee also includes a full bibliography of everything written on 1 Corinthians up until 2011, providing a wide range of resources for further study.

The commentary is slated for an April 2014 release.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Michael Bird's The Gospel of the Lord

The ever-active pen of one Michael F. Bird continues to spill prodigious amounts of ink as another compelling release, The Gospel of the Lord, will be released by Eerdmans in late February 2014.

Here is a description:

Balanced, comprehensive survey of the critical questions involved in studying the four Gospels In this book Michael Bird describes how the canonical Gospels originated from a process of oral tradition, literary composition, textual development, and reception in the early church with a view to showing what makes them among the most important writings in the New Testament. Bird explores how the Christian movement shaped the Gospels and, conversely, how these writings shaped the early church. He develops a distinctive evangelical-and-critical approach to the Gospels, deals with the Synoptic problem head-on, and explains the significance of the fourfold Gospel canon. The book includes a number of helpful excursuses on related topics. All in all, Bird's Gospel of the Lord clarifies the often-confusing debates over the origins of the Gospels and offers informed and soundly argued explanations that account for the content of the Gospels in the context of the wider Graeco-Roman world.

Weighing in at 424 pages, Bird's book is sure to be thorough and with his lucid writing style, a must-read.

HT: Cliff Kvidahl

Friday, August 16, 2013

First Time Publicly Released: Raymond Brown lecture from 1998.

Just months before he passed (March 1998), Raymond Brown lectured at an Evangelical seminary on the Lord's Passion, entitled, "Jesus: Condemned and Crucified."

For more details, please visit the Multimedia page on the Raymond E. Brown site. There you will find a nice surprise! 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Further Updates to the Raymond E. Brown site

I wanted to thank all of those who have taken the time to visit the Raymond E. Brown website in its inaugural week. I was amazed and humbled by the 3,300 plus visitors that made their way over. Your encouragement as I continue to slowly build this site makes all the time and effort worth it. Moreover, it pleases me to no end to see the impact that Fr. Ray had on those who personally knew him, and those, like me, who have been impacted by him in other ways.

Just by way of reminder, I have my contact info (Facebook, Twitter, and email address) in the upper-right hand corner of the main page. If any of you have feedback or suggestions, those are the places to go to get in touch. I would love to hear from you.

Lastly, I have added a few new items to the site today. Two are quotes by Father Brown from his last two books, one during his lifetime, A Retreat with John the Evangelist, and one a posthumous release, An Introduction to the Gospel of John (with the aid of Francis J. Moloney). Brown is a master communicator, as we see his thoughts on death in the former, and his laser-like perception in a pithy quote on all the attempts to rearrange the order of John's Gospel over the years in the latter.

Also, I have added another article, which originally appeared in Theological Studies, 23.2 (1962), 183-206, and later in his New Testament Essays.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Marion L. Soards Shares a Story on Father Raymond Brown

Marion ("Marty") L. Soards, Professor of New Testament Studies at Louisville Seminary, author of 20-plus books, and over 60 articles in journals and theological dictionaries, including an outstanding entry in the Dictionary of Major Biblical Intepreters on his Doktorvater, Raymond E. Brown (227-234), has graciously shared a story with me about his first encounter with Fr. Brown. It can be found on the "Recollections of Ray" page on the website. Click here.

Update on the Raymond Brown Site

I have added seven multi-media clips to the Raymond E. Brown website. The clips are courtesy of Paul Soffe of Welcome Recordings. As by way of a reminder, Paul is still offering a 50% discount on the entire audio/video catalog of Father Brown. Check out the multimedia page for the clips as well as the info on the discount code.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

New Additions to the Raymond E. Brown Site

I wanted to let the readers of this blog know that I am continually updating and adding content to the Raymond E. Brown website. Just today, in fact, I have added a rare picture of Fr. Brown having a discussion with Ernst Käsemann. You can view that pic on the main page (linked above).

Also I have added another page of quotes I have and will be collecting from Fr. Brown, whether they are from his books, or newspaper articles.

There will be more soon. If anyone has any pics of Father Brown or content-related suggestions, my contact info can be found in the upper-right hand corner of the main page (linked above).

Update: 12:42 a.m. Sunday, 8/11/13- I have decided to remove the Brown/Käsemann photo due to a possible copyright infringement. The photo may again reappear, but until I communicate with the originating site, it will stay down for now.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Paul N. Anderson Reflects on Raymond E. Brown

Paul N. Anderson, Professor of Biblical and Quaker Studies at George Fox University, and one of the preeminent Johannine scholars in the world, has graciously shared his thoughts on his friendship with Raymond E. Brown on my new website. You can read his thoughts here.

Launched: Raymond E. Brown Website

Fifteen years ago today, the world of Biblical scholarship lost a giant when Raymond E. Brown passed away suddenly at the age of 70 in Menlo Park, CA. Father Brown's works of meticulous scholarship, including his famed and still regularly consulted two-volume Gospel of John commentary, his the Birth of the Messiah and the Death of the Messiah, and his Introduction to the New Testament, to name but a few, have and will continue to stand the test of time.

My personal interest in Brown was kindled shortly after my undergrad years, 15 years ago. A degree in Broadcast News was going nowhere quickly, and I found myself a bit adrift, working managerial jobs at small grocery and video stores. Right around this time, I decided I needed to learn more about the Christian faith that I had fairly recently professed, and I wanted to learn more about Jesus from an informed scholar. So, I went to my local bookstore and purchased Raymond Brown's Death of the Messiah (vol.1), and after reading it, was so inspired, so intrigued, I knew that my once less than purposeful life, now took on new meaning. In short, without ever meeting me, Fr. Ray inspired me to a life in Biblical scholarship.  I cannot imagine the influence he had over those who actually knew him personally.

So, it is with great pleasure to announce that I have launched a Raymond E. Brown website, a dream that I have had for some time. This site is very much a work-in-progress, many other features will be added in due time, such as a bio, links to Ray's books, etc. When those features are up and running, announcements will be made on this blog. For now, enjoy!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Taking a Cue from Barrett on Bultmann

For some reason it seems popular in certain circles to bash Rudolf Bultmann, perhaps the most misunderstood figure in the history of New Testament scholarship. It seems that there is a tendency to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to Bultmann, thus ignoring his monumental contributions. 

So, it was quite the breath of fresh air to see comments made by C.K. Barrett in the preface of his first edition (1955) classic The Gospel According to St. John (SPCK) regarding Bultmann's monumental  The Gospel of John: A Commentary.

He writes:

Dr. Rudolf Bultmann's commentary is beyond question one of the greatest achievements of biblical scholarship in the present generation. Any one who compares my book with his will see that I have ventured to disagree with him on a number of important issues, but I have never done so without hesitation and doubt. The value of his commentary is almost completely independent of the validity of his literary hypotheses (vii; italics mine).

 These comments remind of the one's recently made by J. Ramsey Michaels in his commentary on John (NICNT):

 To my surprise I found Rudolf Bultmann’s commentary the most useful of all, a work widely admired for all the wrong reasons. Bultmann’s theories of source, redaction, and displacement has  not  survived and should not, yet his eye for detail is unsurpassed  and his close reading of the text as it stands — even when he  discards it — perceptive and  illuminating. It is only a slight oversimplification to say that Bultmann interprets the Gospel correctly (more or less), finds it unacceptable, and then re-writes it. His greatness lies in the first of those three things, not the second or  the third (Preface; xi.).
So if these two great commentators, Barrett and Michaels, find Bultmann's work invaluable, despite the inherent difficulties with his source theories, etc., shouldn't we take a cue and read Bultmann with admiration and appreciation as they have?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

George Caird Lectures on Romans and the Synoptic Problem

Jeffrey Gibson was able to provide me with fifteen more lectures of George Caird, this time from 1983, a year before the great man passed away unexpectedly. These lectures are focused on Romans and the Synoptic Problem, and now brings the total tally to 77 lectures in all. Quite the cache! Thanks again to Jeff and Mark Goodacre for the great collaboration on this project!

One can find the new audio links on the George B. Caird page to the right hand side on this blog.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Craig Koester and the Quote of the Day

Theological reflection on John's Gospel is like this. Perspectives are shaped by a continued encounter with the text. The Gospel is written in a way that invites readers into the story. Its rich images of light and darkness, living water, and the fruit-bearing vine appeal to the imagination. Conversations between Jesus and other people careen between utter confusion and surprising insights. A straightforward statement often has a trap door that swings open to reveal depths of meaning that were only hinted at on the surface. John calls Jesus the Lamb of God. That seems pretty clear. At least until one asks what it means. Then theological reflection begins (Craig R. Koester, The Word of Life: A Theology of John's Gospel; 2).

Chris Keith's Latest: Jesus Against the Scribal Elite

Awhile back, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Keith about his book, Jesus' Literacy: Scribal Culture and the Teacher from Galilee. You can read that interview here.

Keith is following up Jesus' Literacy with Jesus Against the Scribal Elite (Baker Academic; publishing date: April, 2014). Here are the particulars:

How did the controversy between Jesus and the scribal elite begin? We know that it ended on the cross, but what put Jesus on the radar of established religious and political leaders in the first place? Chris Keith argues that, in addition to concerns over what Jesus taught and perhaps even how he taught, a crucial aspect of the rising conflict concerned his very status as a teacher. Addressing an overlooked aspect in Jesus studies, this fresh and provocative work is the first book-length treatment of the origins of the controversy between Jesus and the scribal authorities. It exposes the broader significance of Keith's highly regarded technical work on the literacy of Jesus.

For more on Chris Keith, check out his blog with Anthony LeDonne, The Jesus Blog.