Archive for the ‘Atonement’ Category

My Spring Course on N.T. Wright

Friday, November 30th, 2012

If you are anywhere in the Baltimore–DC–Wilimington–York, PA–Northern Virginia area and you appreciate the work of N.T. Wright, you may wish to consider my spring course at the Ecumenical Institute of Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary & University. This is a graduate course, but there are no prerequisites other than having a bacherlor’s degree with a decent GPA. The course is available for credit or audit.

BS/ST509/709 The Writings of N.T. Wright

Thursday, 6-9 p.m., January 14-March 21 (3 graduate credits)

[This is a combination biblical and systematic theology course offered at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.]

Course Description:

An exploration of some of the biblical, theological, and pastoral writings of the contemporary British Anglican scholar N.T. Wright, with attention to the significance of his work for the life of the church.

Course Requirements for all students:

1. Regular attendance and prepared participation in class discussion.

2. Five 100-word reaction posts online (not due when doing discussion-starter paper).

3. Two one-page discussion-starter papers, with summary and discussion questions.

4. One book review of 2,000 words.

5. Class presentation and final, synthetic paper of 2,000 words on some aspect of N. T. Wright’s writings.

Additional Requirement for 700-level students (matriculated degree and certificate candidates):

Same as above plus one additional book review on an additional book by N.T. Wright.

For C.A.S. (Certificate of Advanced Studies) students, the additional book must be a major work approved by the instructor.

Required Texts:

Kurt, Stephen. Tom Wright for Everyone: Putting the Theology of N.T. Wright into Practice in the Local Church. 978-0281063932.

Wright, N.T. (Tom). For All God’s Worth: The Worship and Calling of the Church. 978-0802843197.

Wright, N.T. (Tom). Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. 978-0061920622.

Wright, N.T. (Tom). Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters. 978-0062084392.

Wright, N.T. (Tom). Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. 978-0061551826.

Wright, N.T. (Tom). What Saint Paul Really Said: Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity? 978-0802844453.

Some additional online reading and video viewing.

Recommended:

Perrin, Nicholas and Richard B. Hays, eds. Jesus, Paul, and the People of God. 978-0830838974.

Applications for the Ecumenical Institute’s 2013 spring term are due by Monday, December 3, though late applications will be considered. For admission requirements, go to http://www.stmarys.edu/ei/ei_adm_overview.htm, or contact Zenaida Bench at zbench@stmarys.edu or 410/864-4202. Registration continues until spring-term classes begin. See the course brochure at http://www.stmarys.edu/ei/ei_semester.htm for an overview of all of next term’s course offerings.

We believe there is no better way to begin study at the Ecumenical Institute than walking and talking with a friend (see Luke 24:13-14). To encourage that, we offer a one-time tuition incentive for new students who begin together: a tuition remission of 50% for both of you on your first “E.I.” course.

If you and someone you know are considering theological study, this is your opportunity to encourage one another to explore and discern together. You can take the same class or try different courses and compare notes.

Your walk begins with just one course… and may lead to…

  • more courses…
  • or perhaps a certificate in Biblical Studies, Faith Community/Parish Nursing, Religious Education, Spirituality, Urban Ministry, or Youth and Family Ministry…
  • or even a Master of Arts Degree in Theology or Church Ministries.

For more information, please contact the Ecumenical Institute office at ei@stmarys.edu or 410/864-4200.

Inaugural Lecture PLUS a Seminar on Paul Nov. 8-9

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

Nov. 8: Raymond E. Brown Inaugural Lecture and

Nov. 9: A Morning with the Apostle Paul (and Friends)

If you are anywhere near Baltimore, you are cordially invited!!

On Thursday, November 8 I will deliver my inaugural lecture as the first holder of the Raymond E. Brown Chair in Biblical Studies and Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary & University. The topic will be “The Death of the Messiah: Theology, Spirituality, Politics.” A book sale and signing will precede the lecture at 7 p.m., and a period of dialogue will follow. This event, which is also this year’s Dunning Lecture, is free and open to the public.
Click for lecture information.

On the morning after the lecture, the conversation will continue as other biblical scholars and theologians (Richard Hays, Kathy Grieb, Fr. Tom Stegman, and Brent Laytham) will join me for “A Morning with the Apostle Paul (and Friends),” a discussion of some of the themes from my work on Paul and their significance both for understanding Paul and for the life and mission of the church today. Advance registration for this seminar is required, and space is limited.
Click for seminar details and registration form.

Recent Publications

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

For those who might be interested:

  • The kindle version of Reading Revelation Responsibly is now available.
  • My article “Romans: The First Christian Treatise on Theosis” is out in the Spring 2011 issue of Journal of Theological Interpretation.
  • Another article, “Effecting the New Covenant: A (Not so) New, New Testament Model for the Atonement,” has just appeared in the 2011 issue of Ex Auditu. (For earlier discussion of it, see here and here.)

Why We Need a New Model for the Atonement

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

An excerpt from my soon-to-be-discussed paper in Chicago…

The Need for a New, More Comprehensive Model of the Atonement

There are at least four major problems with the traditional models of the atonement as a group. The first is their isolationist, or sectarian, character. Each one is constructed as a kind of stand-alone theory that supposedly tells the whole story and requires the exclusion of other versions of the story. Only rarely, as in the case of Colin Gunton (The Actuality of the Atonement), does a theologian try to appropriate and integrate various traditional models.

The second problem derives from the first: the atomistic, or non-integrative, character of the traditional models. They do not naturally pull other aspects of theology into their orbit. “Atonement,” however interpreted, often stands apart, separated from ethics, spirituality, ecclesiology, pneumatology, and missiology. In some cases, atonement becomes a narrow branch of theology that is almost irrelevant to the actual life of Christian individuals and communities.

The third problem is individualism. The traditional models have a nearly exclusive focus on the individual, rather than both the individual and the community, as the beneficiary of the atonement. Scot McKnight (in A Community Called Atonement) and others have, of course, also recognized and begun addressing this problem.

The fourth problem we might call “under-achievement.” That is, the models do not do enough. We may summarize a model of the atonement in terms of its understanding of the fundamental effect of the cross on a person (or on humanity). In the satisfaction-substitution-penal model(s) the effect is propitiation, expiation, and/or forgiveness; in the Christus Victor model the effect is victory and liberation; and in the “moral influence” model the effect is inspiration. In the new covenant model I will propose, the effect is all of the above and more, but that effect is best expressed, not in the rather narrow terms of the traditional models, but in more comprehensive and integrative terms like transformation, participation, and re-creation.

A (Not So) New Model for the Atonement

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

I am working on a paper to give at the the North Park symposium on the theological interpretation of Scripture next month. The theme of the symposium is “atonement.” Here are a few lines from the paper, which is entitled “Effecting The New Covenant: A (Not So) New, New Testament Model for the Atonement”:

According to all three Synoptic Gospels, Jesus’ own interpretation of his death on the night before he died was about effecting a (new) covenant:

Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” (Mark 14:23-24)

Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matt 26:27-28)

And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. (Luke 22:20)

Moreover, in the only account of the Last Supper outside the Gospels, Paul passes on the same kinds of words, indicating that both the Last Supper and its act of remembrance, the Lord’s Supper, narrate an interpretation of Jesus’ death centered on the establishment of a new covenant:

In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Cor 11:25)

So why is there no theory or model of the atonement called “new covenant”?

Not merely the lack of covenantal language in the “names” of the standard theories of the atonement (“satisfaction” or “substitution” or “penal”, “Christus victor,” “moral influence”), but also, more broadly, the near absence of such language from standard expositions of their content, might suggest that the tradition is blatantly ignoring the interpretation of Jesus himself as well as a very early, pre-Pauline Christian tradition rooted in Jesus’ own interpretation. It is likely that more time has been spent in recent decades discussing the tradition history of the two forms of this tradition—the Markan/Matthean, on the one hand, and the Pauline/Lukan, on the other—than their common theological content and its theological significance.

In this essay, therefore, I aim in a modest way to help in correcting this problem by proposing a new model of the atonement that is really not new at all—the new covenant model. In fact, this model may legitimately lay claim to being the oldest model of the atonement in the Christian tradition, going back to Jesus, the earliest churches, and Paul. I will argue that this not merely a more comprehensive model, but also, and more importantly, a more integrative and integrated model than any of the major models in the tradition.

The fundamental problem with existing models of the atonement is not that they are inaccurate—though some may have problems—but that they are inadequate. Each one is constructed as if part of an atomistic theological non-system in which various key elements are not inherently connected to one another. Most existing models (whether traditional or more recent ones) of the atonement are not integrative; they are narrow and do not naturally pull other aspects of theology into their orbit.

The result is the separation of atonement theology from ethics, ecclesiology, pneumatology, and missiology.

We may summarize a model of the atonement in terms of its understanding of the fundamental effect of the cross on humanity. Whereas in the satisfaction-substitution-penal model the effect is propitiation, expiation, and/or forgiveness, in the Christus Victor model the effect is victory and liberation, and in the “moral influence” model the effect is inspiration, in the new covenant model the effect is best expressed in terms like transformation, participation, and re-creation.


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