Saturday, September 27, 2014

George Caird and Humility

Hubris is is no short supply these days whether we are discussing politicians, athletes, celebrities, and yes, scholars of all stripes.

George B. Caird (1917-1984)
Might we all take a page from George B. Caird (1917-1984), formerly Dean Ireland's Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture at the University of Oxford? Caird was one of the greatest British New Testament scholars of the Twentieth Century along with such luminaries as Barrett, Dodd, Moule, Cranfield, etc. Caird also mentored and supervised such present day luminaries in NT scholarship such as N.T. Wright, the late L.D. Hurst, Marcus Borg, John Muddiman, Jeffrey Gibson and others. So if anyone could have an immense ego, it might well be George Bradford Caird.

That is why I was struck by what Caird writes in the Preface to perhaps the greatest work he produced during his lifetime, The Language and Imagery of the Bible. Consider what Caird says about his efforts in producing this book:

This is a book by an amateur, written for amateurs. Only an amatuer could undertake to write on such a subject, since one lifetime is too short for anyone to become an expert on more than one of the qualifying disciplines. For language is not the concern of the linguist alone, but of the literary critic, the psychologist, the anthropologist, the lawyer, the philosopher and the theologian as well. A prudent expert cultivates his own garden, not wasting time in looking over the fence at what his neighbours are doing. The amateur accepts cuttings from everyone, hoping they will take in his own soil. I have tried to find out what writers in all these fields have been saying, and I have made use of their ideas when they have caught my fancy. But is not my intention to trespass on the grounds of any of them. I am content to leave the Semitic philologist to grapple with the origins and affinities of Hebrew, the psychologist to discourse on the relation of words and mind, and the philosopher to investigate the truth of propositions and the mystical bond between words and the objects they denote. I am, if I may be allowed to adjust my metaphor, a walker on the common out of which they have carved their allotments. I offer to other wayfarers on the same path this guide to the things that they may catch their eye or their ear (Italics mine; vii). 

We would all do well to measure our contributions in such terms. If the great G.B. Caird can be this transparent, what is our excuse?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Seeing into the Future: David deSilva on Koester's Revelation

Many years ago, ten years ago to be more precise, I was sitting in David deSilva's office, marvelling at his bookshelves and in particular, his section on Revelation. I asked him: "What is the best commentary written on Revelation." His answer surprised me. "It hasn't come out yet." He expounded further: "Craig Koester's in the Anchor Bible series will be the best when it does come out. But, that is a long way off."

Fast forward ten years, and Koester's highly anticipated commentary is about to see the light of day, as it is slated for release on Sept. 30th.
Craig R. Koester
Since that conversation with deSilva, this has been the one commentary for which I have been eagerly awaiting. After all, with deSilva's blessing and his own contributions to scholarship on the Apocalypse, what better recommendation could there be?

Moreover, Koester's scholarship has always been outstanding, whether working on the Fourth Gospel, Hebrews, etc., one can always count on him for a high calibre contribution.

Unfortunately, many will want to wait to purchase Koester's contribution when it comes out in paperback, as Yale University Press has retailed the commentary at a whopping $125.00.

The good news is however, one can access many of the pages through Google Books in the meantime to get a flavor of this masterful work. I have already perused a good portion of the introductory matters and if these pages are any indication of what is to follow, deSilva's prediction will ring true.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Gordon Fee on Galatians 3:28: Quote of the Day

Gordon Fee
Perusing through Gordon Fee's Galatians commentary, I found some illuminating comments on the "ultimate Christian 'Magna Carta'", Galatians 3:28,  as Fee refers to it (142).

First the passage:

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, Slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Fee's translation; 135)

Here are some select quotes from the always insightful Fee:

It is therefore especially difficult for most of us to imagine the effect of Paul's words in a culture where position and status preserved order through basically uncrossable boundaries. Paul asserts that when people come into the fellowship of Christ Jesus, significance is no longer to be found in being Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female. The all-embracing nature of this affirmation, its counter-cultural significance, the fact that it equally disadvantages all by equally advantaging all--these stab at the very heart of a culture sustained by people's maintaining the right position and status. But in Christ Jesus, the One whose death and resurrection inaugurated the new creation, all things have become new; the new era has dawned.
...Second, "all of you are one." ...In Christ Jesus we no longer find our basic values in what differentiates people from one another, but in the unity that Christ alone can bring into our continuing diversity. It is one of the sad realities in the history of the church that so few of God's people have ever really caught on to what Paul is here asserting to be true: We are one people together, united in our common life in Christ (143-144; italics original)