Archive for November, 2010

The Cross at the Start of Advent

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

“The dear tokens of His passion
Still His dazzling body bears;
Cause of endless exultation
To His ransomed worshippers;
With what rapture, with what rapture, with what rapture
Gaze we on those glorious scars!”

–Charles Wesley, “Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending”

HT Charlie Collier, who reminds us that Wesley’s hymn tells us that we begin the new year where it all ends.

I have a beautiful new calendar from Rev. Dr. Ed Searcy, pastor of University Hill Congregation in Vancouver, that begins today and follows the Christian year. I am posting it outside my office.

The Problematic of Thanksgiving (the holiday, not the act)

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Christian philosopher James K.A. Smith has a provocative reflection on the interconnection of the American Thanksgiving holiday, civil religion, the military, and shopping. HT Brian Gorman for this link.

Thanks God it’s Advent and we can put this post-Thanksgiving consumerism behind us. :-(

Happy Thanksgiving Thoughts, courtesy of Ben Witherington

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Originally posted here.

SBL After-Thoughts

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Back from SBL in Atlanta, I have a few reflections on the conference.

First, although the conference was very conveniently arranged in two adjacent, and architecturally very impressive, hotels connected to a food court, downtown Atlanta is not that exciting and the overall ambiance was a bit dull. Furthermore, the general convenience was offset a bit by having the book displays in two different rooms, and the laptop internet access in the rooms costing $13/day. (Forget that!) However, the weather was spectacular, and when one did get outside the hotels, it was lovely in that respect.

Second, hearing Tom Wright Friday night (actually part of the IBR [Institute for Biblical Research] meetings, not SBL) was very fun, as always. His lecture was entitled “Kingdom and Cross,” arguing against the two common errors of over-exaggerating one against the other (i.e. Jesus’ life vs. Jesus’ death) and for holding the two together, as the NT does. Michael Bird gave a rousing and insightful response.

Third, I need to learn the art of bi- or tri-location, since my interests and obligations (serving on two committees means needing, and wanting, to be at certain sessions) meant I wanted to be in two or three places simultaneously at certain times, which just does not work. Unfortunately, I missed two or three excellent sessions.

Fourth, although I heard several good papers, including those at the session I chaired on historical criticism and theological interpretation, the best paper of the conference I heard was by Ben Blackwell, an excellent younger scholar who just finished his Ph.D. at the University of Durham. His subject was “Deification and Colossians 2:10″ and–as I said in the Q and A–it was both convincing and significant. (Wish I had given it myself!)

Fifth, it was fantastic as always to reconnect with old friends and to make new ones. The list of old friends is too long to mention here. Among my new friends is Cherith Fee Nordling, the daughter of my Greek III teacher in college, the wonderful NT scholar Gordon Fee. Cherith is herself a theologian. In addition, as always, one of the great thrills for me was meeting with younger scholars who are looking for a little guidance and/or encouragement as they prepare for graduate school, write dissertations, apply for their first jobs, or contemplate writing projects.

Sixth, I’m especially excited about the developments in one of the groups I help organize, the Gospel and our Culture Network Missional Hermeneutics Group.

Seventh, and finally for now, I came home with two probable book deals, as I expected. More on these anon….


Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Tomorrow I leave for the 2010 SBL (Society of Biblical Literature) meeting in Atlanta. This is always a great time of seeing old friends, meeting new people, hearing interesting papers, seeing (and often buying) new books, meeting with publishers and potential publishers, etc. Atlanta is not my favorite place for a conference; the downtown area is unexciting compared to, say, New Orleans, San Antonio, San Francisco, or Boston. As I said to a good friend yesterday, Atlanta is a nice place to live but not such a great place to visit.

The conference will be good, however. N.T. Wright holds forth on justification, with respondents, tomorrow evening for the IBR (Institute for Biblical Research). I will chair a session on historical criticism and theological interpretation Saturday morning, featuring three fine papers, including one by Joel Green. Then I will attend the section on missional hermeneutics, focusing on exile, early Saturday afternoon. (I’m on the steering committee of both these groups, and I highly recommend both sessions.) After that, I’m not sure, except for the other session for the theological interpretation of Christian Scripture group. There’s an excellent buffet from which to choose!

Brief reports to come later.

The Date of the Second Coming, Etc.

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

In case you were wondering, here it supposedly is (actually more than one date), courtesy of Harold Camping’s ministry. HT Trey for the link.

SBL and So-called Unscientific Scholarship

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

I deliberately chose not to enter the fray some months ago when Michael Fox of the University of Wisconsin, Madison wrote his jeremiad against “faith-based study” of the Bible, an open letter to all members of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). Only secular approaches and methods are to be allowed.

Apart from astonishment at the sheer quantity of problems with his position, my main reaction at the time, and even more so after reading the catalog of sections and papers for the SBL meeting that starts in a week, is this: if people and papers dealing with the text from a particular religious or ideological perspective are banned from SBL, there will no longer be an SBL.

Theological, feminist, postcolonial, queer, political, etc.; these are the adjectives du jour. This is not inappropriate, nor does it mean that biblical scholarship has given up on archaeology, history, literature, etc. But these things are no longer ends in themselves for most of us. This is not your parents’ SBL. Though it might be your grandparents’.

Announcing the Journal for the Study of Paul & His Letters

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

As a member of the editorial board of a new journal, I am pleased to announce the launching of the Journal for the Study of Paul and his Letters, edited by Michael Bird and Nijay Gupta. The journal’s website, courtesy of publisher Eisenbrauns, is already up here along with a small sample issue, consisting of an introduction to the journal and an article by Susan Eastman on Philippians 2:6-11. The first full issue will appear next fall, with two contributions by yours truly and of course others.

This should be a great–and affordable–journal, one to which individuals and institutions alike should subscribe.

The Cover Image

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

And the link to the book once again.

“Reading Revelation Responsibly” is Out

Monday, November 8th, 2010

The good folks at Wipf and Stock/Cascade have miraculously turned my book around in record time. I got copies today for a talk and book signing this Friday. Here is the link to look at and order it. It is available now at 20% off, though Wipf and Stock may soon do a 40%-off email coupon to its regular subscribers. The official publication date is 2011, so don’t expect to see it on Amazon, etc. until some time in December.

The key to this book is the subtitle: Uncivil Worship and Witness: Following the Lamb into the New Creation.

I would post a photo of the beautiful cover here, but, alas, I can’t get images to work in WordPress, so you will have to go to the site.

If you are in the Baltimore-DC area, come out to St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore Friday evening at 7 p.m. More information is here.

BTW, the info about me on the Wipf and Stock web site is 9 years old, so it is about to be updated.