Archive for May, 2007

Another Degree for Richard B. Hays (D.D.)

Friday, May 11th, 2007

Last evening, my institution, St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore, bestowed the degree Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, on Richard Hays of Duke Divinity School, my friend–and mentor-from-a-distance. I had the great privilege of “hooding” Dr. Hays and of writing the tribute presented to him and published in the commencement program.  Here is part of what I wrote:

Ever since the publication of his Ph.D. dissertation nearly a quarter-century ago, Richard B. Hays has distinguished himself as one of the world’s most insightful, creative, and theologically sensitive New Testament scholars. That first book, The Faith of Jesus Christ: An Investigation of the Narrative Substructure of Galatians 3:1-4:11 (1983; 2nd ed., 2002), set in motion a revolution in Pauline theology that is still working itself out today, an interpretation that highlights the narrative character of Paul’s letters and the significance of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for Paul’s theology….

Professor Hays’s leadership in the movement toward a renewed theological interpretation of Scripture, grounded in a hermeneutic of trust rather than suspicion, is expressed in such publications as his commentaries on 1 Corinthians (1997) and Galatians (2000); his book The Art of Reading Scripture (co-edited with colleague Ellen Davis, 2003); his collected articles, The Conversion of the Imagination (2005); and his lead article in the first volume of the new Journal of Theological Interpretation (2007). As a scholar’s scholar and a teacher’s teacher, Professor Hays has also served on numerous editorial boards and convened various groups of scholars for significant theological projects…. He exemplifies the spirit of faith seeking understanding, furthering the dialogue between academy and church and between biblical studies and theology.



The Crucified Christ or the Resurrected Christ?

Monday, May 7th, 2007

What/who was more significant for Paul? And what/who should be more important for us?–the crucified or the resurrected Christ?

An increasing number of people seem to be moving away from the cross and toward the resurrection in interpreting Paul, in part as a reaction to some interpretations (including mine) that strongly emphasize the cross. I think I would urge them to slow down just a bit. Not that the resurrection is bad, or someting to be soft-pedaled or footnoted as an appendix to the cross.

I have always stressed that the crucified Christ is the resurrected one and vice versa. In NT theology they are inseparable.  For Paul, we participate in both the cross and the resurrection, but the new life we experience–the resurrection life we have now–is always, paradoxically, imbued with the cross. It is cruciform. Because the resurrected Jesus is one with the crucified Jesus, when he inhabits us and we him, by his Spirit, we can expect the same kind of life-giving cruciformity in us that we see in him and that Paul wrote about (and experienced). Yes, we are empowered by the resurrection–or, better, by the resurrected One. But to separate the resurrection from the cross is an error with serious consequences.

As I hinted in my Palm/Passion Sunday post, this choice is a false (and potentially dangerous) one.

2007-05-07 20:59:20