Archive for the ‘Missional hermeneutic’ Category

SBL Suggestions for Atlanta 2015

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

Following are the 2015 sessions of the SBL and AAR groups of which I am in one way or another a part, either on the steering committee, as a participant this year, or as the father of a participant (Mark is delivering a paper). If you go to everything listed here, you will have very little free time–and you will have to bilocate! (Of course I am not listing all the great SBL sessions!) My own direct involvement is chairing a session on C.S. Lewis and the Bible and responding to a panel review of my book Becoming the Gospel.


S21-148 Theological Interpretation of Scripture
Saturday 11/21/2015

9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Grand Ballroom B (Level 2) – Hilton

Theme: Theological Interpretation of Daniel in the MT and LXX
All papers will be read in their entirety.


Thomas Holsinger-Friesen, Spring Arbor University, Presiding (5 min)
Richard S. Briggs, University of Durham
The Eclipse of Daniel’s Narrative: The Limits of Historical Knowledge in the Theological Reading of Daniel (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Tim Meadowcroft, Laidlaw College
“One Like a Son of Man” in the Court of the Foreign King (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Break (5 min)
Bogdan G. Bucur, Duquesne University
Christological and Trinitarian Exegesis of Daniel 7 in Early Christianity (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Jennie Grillo, Duke University
Reading Resurrection in the Additions to Daniel (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Discussion (20 min)


P21-123 GOCN Forum on Missional Hermeneutics
Saturday 11/21/2015
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM

Room: Courtland (Atlanta Conference Level) – Hyatt

Theme: Biblical Formation of the Congregation for Missional Witness
This session of the GOCN Forum on Missional Hermeneutics includes papers on the theology and practice of biblical formation in the faith community: that is, the role of the Bible and its interpretation in the process of forming “Scripture-shaped communities” (Richard Hays) for mission in the world, in concrete contexts.


James C. Miller, Asbury Theological Seminary, Presiding (5 min)
Mark Glanville, Trinity College – Bristol
Radical Gratitude and the Mission of God: Nourishing Celebration and Inclusivism in Local Congregations in light of the Festival Calendar (Deut 16:1-17) (25 min)
Boaz Johnson, North Park University
Missional Theology and Congregation Formation in the Torah (25 min)
Michael Barram, Saint Mary’s College of California
To Serve God and Not Mammon: Reading Matthew 6 as Missionally Located Formation for Economic Discipleship (25 min)
Break (5 min)
Mark Labberton, Fuller Theological Seminary, Respondent (25 min)
Discussion (40 min)


S21-249 Theological Interpretation of Scripture
Saturday 11/21/2015
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM

Room: A602 (Atrium Level) – Marriott

Theme: Trinity in/and the Bible
All papers will be read in their entirety.


Brent Laytham, Saint Mary’s Seminary and University, Presiding
Murray Rae, University of Otago
Biblical Foundations of a Trinitarian Hermeneutic (20 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Mark S. Gignilliat, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
Wish Fulfillment or Real Presence? The Old Testament’s Trinity (20 min)
Andrea D. Saner, Eastern Mennonite University
Trinitarian Judgments in/and the Book of Exodus (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Break (5 min)
Matthew Bates, Quincy University
Christology of Divine Identity? Septuagintal Dialogues in the New Testament as Trinitarian Critique (20 min)
Wesley Hill, Trinity School for Ministry
Paul and the Narratable Divine Identity (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Discussion (20 min)



S22-147/A22-121 Theological Interpretation of Scripture
Sunday 11/22/2015
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: A704 (Atrium Level) – Marriott

Theme: Bonhoeffer as Theological Interpreter
This session is co-sponsored with the Bonhoeffer: Theology and Social Analysis Group (AAR). Papers will be read in their entirety. This session investigates aspects of Bonhoeffer as a theological interpreter of Christian scripture. Papers explore Bonhoeffer’s own exegetical practice and its application in particular cases, examine the role of exegesis in the construction of Bonhoeffer’s own distinctive theological positions, and consider Bonhoeffer’s understanding of scripture and its consequences for contemporary debates about theological exegesis.


Myk Habets, Carey Baptist College, Presiding (5 min)
R. Walter Moberly, University of Durham
Bonhoeffer’s “Creation and Fall” Revisited (25 min)
Tyler Atkinson, Bethany College (KS)
Bonhoeffer, Qoheleth, and the “Natural Joy of Bodily Life” (25 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Break (5 min)
Chris Dodson, University of Aberdeen
“The Person Who Receives Blessing . . . Must Also Suffer Much”: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Wilhelm Herrmann, and a Hermeneutic of Suffering (25 min)
Derek W. Taylor, Duke University
Nonreligious and yet Theological: Bonhoeffer’s Interpretation in a World Come of Age (25 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Discussion (20 min)


S22-211 Christian Theology and the Bible
Sunday 11/22/2015
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: International 5 (International Level) – Marriott

Theme: Special Session on C.S. Lewis and the Bible
This session concentrates upon the relationship between biblical scholarship and the figure of C. S. Lewis. Lewis himself was a specialist in medieval and Renaissance English literature, yet he was well known even before his death (on the same day as John F. Kennedy) as an apologist for Christianity, an author of semi-popular theological studies, and a writer of fiction informed by the Bible. His work on the Bible and academic biblical scholarship appears mainly in essays and letters, in passing throughout his fiction and monographs, and in biblical imagery and allusions in various works. Of particular interest is his use of polyvalence and narrative to explore debated or complex questions, his reactionary dismissal of quests for the historical Jesus and much of the historical-critical method, and his integration of biblical themes with symbols and concepts from various diverse contexts. Lewis is a writer whose continuing impact upon various readerships is undeniable, though he is less celebrated among biblical scholars and theologians than among those outside these guilds. Investigation into how he both confirms and challenges the assumptions of standard biblical scholarship provides a helpful bridge between biblical scholars and the broader constituency that continues to appreciate his work.


Michael J. Gorman, Saint Mary’s Seminary and University, Presiding
Leslie Baynes, Missouri State University
Lewis vs. Bultmann: Myth as Fact or Fiction? (30 min)
Patrick Gray, Rhodes College
C.S. Lewis and the Historical Jesus in the Screwtape Letters (30 min)
Myk Habets, Carey Baptist College
Mere Christianity for Mere Gods: C.S. Lewis and Theosis (30 min)
Edith M. Humphrey, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Checking the Demon and Saying What’s to Be Said (30 min)
Kevin Vanhoozer, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Respondent (15 min)
Discussion (15 min)


S22-235 Pauline Soteriology
Sunday 11/22/2015
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: A602 (Atrium Level) – Marriott

Theme: Paul, Poverty, and the Powers


Richard Hays, Duke University, Presiding
Bruce W. Longenecker, Baylor University
Malignant Forces, Perpetual Poverty, and the Body of Christ: Theologizing toward an Eschatological Reality (30 min)
Robert Moses, High Point University
Paul, Poverty, and the Powers: The Body of Christ as Response (30 min)
Break (10 min)
A. Grieb, Virginia Theological Seminary, Respondent (15 min)
Luke Bretherton, Duke University, Respondent (15 min)
Discussion (50 min)


P22-318 GOCN Forum on Missional Hermeneutics
Sunday 11/22/2015
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Marquis A-B (Marquis Level) – Marriott

Theme: Review Panel Discussion of Michael J. Gorman’s book, Becoming the Gospel: Paul, Participation, and Mission (Eerdmans, 2015)
As a leading voice among Pauline scholars, Michael J. Gorman has written a number of significant books and articles on Paul’s theology in recent years, including Cruciformity: Paul’s Narrative Theology of the Cross (2001) and Inhabiting the Cruciform God (2009). His most recent contribution, Becoming the Gospel: Paul, Participation, and Mission (Eerdmans, 2015), extends and develops some of the themes highlighted initially in earlier works, and places particular emphasis on mission as an interpretive rubric for the Pauline epistles—an outgrowth, in part, of his work with the GOCN Forum on Missional Hermeneutics. In the introduction to Becoming the Gospel, Gorman calls his “affiliation with the Forum” “one of the most important professional developments for me in recent years,” noting that “learning to read Paul missionally—not merely as the quintessential ‘missionary’ but as a formator of missional communities—has been an exhilarating experience” (p. 10). Specifically, Gorman argues that “theosis—Spirit-enabled transformative participation in the life and character of God revealed in the crucified and resurrected Messiah Jesus—is the starting point of mission and is, in fact, its proper theological framework” (p. 4). Please join us for what promises to be a fascinating panel discussion—including responses by a fellow Pauline scholar, a congregational pastor, a missiologist, and a theologian—followed by an open-ended conversation about the missiological dimensions of Paul’s theology as illuminated in Gorman’s work.


Sylvia Keesmaat, Trinity College, University of Toronto, Presiding (5 min)
Michael J. Gorman, Saint Mary’s Seminary and University, Panelist (20 min)
J. Ross Wagner, Duke University, Panelist (15 min)
Eunice McGarrahan, First Presbyterian Church, Colorado Springs, Panelist (15 min)
Break (5 min)
George Hunsberger, Western Theological Seminary, Panelist (15 min)
John Franke, Evangelische Theologische Faculteit, Leuven, Panelist (15 min)
Michael Gorman, Saint Mary’s Seminary and University, Panelist (20 min)
Discussion (40 min)


A22-329 Wesleyan Studies Group

Theme: Wesleyan Culture and the Public Square since the Mid-Twentieth Century

Edgardo Colon-Emeric, Duke University, Presiding

Sunday 11/22/2015 – 5:00 PM-6:30 PM

Hilton-Grand Salon E (Level 2)

This session will focus on late twentieth and early twenty-first century leaders whose lives in the public square have been explicitly influenced by Wesleyan perspectives. Papers will draw direct connections between the person’s work in the public square and the influence of Methodism.


Dion Forster, Stellenbosch University

Nelson Mandela and the Methodist Church of South Africa: An African Christian Humanist Approach to Social Holiness

Mark Gorman, Centre United Methodist Church, Forest Hill, MD

The “Iconic” Methodist: George W. Bush and the State of Contemporary United Methodism

Natalya Cherry, Southern Methodist University

Rev. James M. Lawson, Jr., Called by King “The Greatest Teacher of Nonviolence in America”


Rebekah Miles, Southern Methodist University



S23-133 Pauline Soteriology
Monday, 11/23/2015
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Marquis A-B (Marquis Level) – Marriott

Theme: Review of John Barclay, Paul and the Gift (Eerdmans 2015)


Alexandra Brown, Washington and Lee University, Presiding
Joel Marcus, Duke University, Panelist (20 min)
Margaret Mitchell, University of Chicago, Panelist (20 min)
Miroslav Volf, Yale University, Panelist (20 min)
Break (10 min)
John Barclay, University of Durham, Respondent (40 min)
Discussion (40 min)


P23-118 GOCN Forum on Missional Hermeneutics
Monday, 11/23/2015
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: University (Atlanta Conference Level) – Hyatt

Theme: Biblical Formation of the Congregation for Missional Witness
This session of the GOCN Forum on Missional Hermeneutics includes papers on the theology and practice of biblical formation in the faith community: that is, the role of the Bible and its interpretation in the process of forming “Scripture-shaped communities” (Richard Hays) for mission in the world, in concrete contexts.


Darrell Guder, Princeton Theological Seminary, Presiding (5 min)
Laura R. Levens, Baptist Seminary of Kentucky
Many Voices, Many Contexts, One Faith: Engaging the Breadth of Scripture to Form Discerning, Missional Congregations (25 min)
Luke Ben Tallon, LeTourneau University and Aaron Kuecker, LeTourneau University
A Liturgy of Ascent and a Life of Ascent: Conforming Congregations to Christian Scripture (25 min)
Derek W. Taylor, Duke University
Forming Faithful Readers: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Missional Hermeneutic (25 min)
Break (5 min)
Benjamin T. Conner, Western Theological Seminary, Respondent (25 min)
Discussion (40 min)


S23-314 Christian Theology and the Bible
Monday 11/23/2015
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Hanover E (Exhibit Level) – Hyatt

Theme: Spiritual Interpretation of Scripture
This panel will consider the relationship between spirituality and the Bible. Each panelist will respond briefly to the question, “What are the hallmarks of the spiritual interpretation of Scripture?” There will be time for discussion among the panelists as well as substantial time for Q&A and discussion between the panelists and those attending the session.


Pieter De Villiers, University of the Free State, Presiding (15 min)
Gordon McConville, University of Gloucestershire, Panelist (15 min)
Bo Karen Lee, Princeton Theological Seminary, Panelist (15 min)
Andrew Lincoln, University of Gloucestershire, Panelist (15 min)
Kathryn Greene-McCreight, Panelist (15 min)
Discussion (75 min)



S24-112 Christian Theology and the Bible
Tuesday 11/24/2015
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Hanover F (Exhibit Level) – Hyatt

Theme: The Anagogical Interpretation of Scripture
This session will focus on the anagogical interpretation of Scripture; it is the fourth and final session in our series exploring the traditional four senses of Scripture (literal, allegorical, tropological, anagogical). In brief, anagogical sense of Scripture is the exegesis of Scripture in relation to eschatological hope and the life to come. Each of the invited panelists will respond to the following questions: respond to the following questions: “What is the role of the anagogical sense of Scripture in the figure or area that you study? And, why is the anagogical sense a significant and important way to read Scripture?”

Arthur M. Sutherland, Loyola University Maryland, Presiding
Hans Boersma, Regent College
Purity, Perfection, and Beatific Vision: The Upward Journey to Christ in Gregory of Nyssa (30 min)
Kevin L. Hughes, Villanova University
Ecclesia contemplativa: On the Relationship between the Mystical and Eschatological in St. Bonaventure’s Anagogia (30 min)
Eboni Marshall Turman, Duke University
Black. Life. Matter. Toward A Black Feminist/Womanist Eschatology (30 min)
Francesca Murphy, University of Notre Dame
The Bible and the Analogical Imagination (30 min)
Discussion (30 min)

John 15 and Mission: Preview 1 of my New Book on Missional Hermeneutics

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

During my sabbatical in 2015-2016, I am working on a new book in missional hermeneutics, this time (unlike Becoming the Gospel) focusing on the non-Pauline NT literature. I will be posting occasional excerpts of that work, in draft form, on these pages from time to time. Since I am beginning “in the beginning,” to so speak (that is, with the Gospel of John), the first posts will be about that gospel. Here is something on John 15:

In John 15 we find a creative and significant paradoxical tension within the text between the main verb, “abide” (menein; eleven times), on the one hand, and the verbs “do” (poiein; v. 4) and especially “go” (hypag?te; v. 16), on the other. Semantically, the former has to do with resting, staying put; it connotes, or could connote, spiritual ease or even apathy. The latter, however, has to do with moving, acting. This tension is expressed in, but not fully resolved by, the image of an abiding, fruit-bearing branch, for although healthy vines and branches naturally grow and bear fruit, they do not naturally move from place to place. The disciples, however, have been appointed to go. They constitute, in other words, a mobile vine, a community of centripetally oriented love that shares that love centrifugally as they move out from themselves, all the while abiding in the vine, the very source of their life and love, the source of their power to do.

Here is perhaps the most powerful symbiosis of spirituality and mission in the New Testament. This chapter, rooted in John 13-14 and further developed in John 16-17, is the quintessence of a participatory missiology. But it is even more than that; it expresses a profound theology of missional perichoresis and theosis (mutual indwelling of Christ and the disciples leading to transformation into Christlike Godlikeness). Fruit bearing is participating in the missio Dei embodied in Christ—to bring God’s light, love, and life to the world—and truly is the way we become more fully what we already are: Jesus’ disciples (15:8).

Becoming the Gospel: Quotations Etc for My Clergy Presentation

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

Sharing in God’s Life, Becoming the Gospel: Paul and the Missional Church
Michael J. Gorman

A few thoughts to get us started . . .

  • “The Church exists by mission, just as a fire exists by burning. Where there is no mission, there is no Church. . . .” Emil Brunner
  •  “The first-order business of the church is to be a people who under the guidance of the Spirit point the world to Jesus Christ. . . . I take it to be crucial that Christians must live in a manner that their lives are unintelligible if the God we worship in Jesus Christ does not exist. . . . I believe we are living in a time when Christendom is actually coming to an end. That is an extraordinary transition whose significance for Christian and non-Christian has yet to be understood. But in the very least, it means the church is finally free to be a politic [a distinctive public culture].” Stanley Hauerwas
  •  “A primary role of Scripture in the church is to bring about the conversion of the imagination.” Richard Hays
  •  “How is it possible that the gospel should be credible, that people should come to believe that the power which has the last word in human affairs is represented by a man hanging on a cross? I am suggesting that the only answer, the only hermeneutic [means of interpretation] of the gospel, is a congregation of men and women who believe it and live by it.” Lesslie Newbigin
  •  “The church is a community of Christ’s crucified presence and of Christ’s risen presence.” Ross Hastings
  •   Paul “saw the church as a microcosmos, a little world, not simply as an alternative to the present one, an escapist’s country cottage for those tired of city life, but as the prototype of what was to come . . . [when] the whole earth [would be filled] with his knowledge and glory, with his justice, peace and joy. Paul sees each ekkl?sia as a sign of that future reality.” (N.T. Wright)

And a few more:
• “He became what we are so that we could become what He is.” Irenaeus and Athanasius
• “Like an iron sword plunged into the fire that becomes hot and luminous while remaining iron and not becoming fire, so are we when plunged into Christ the image of God.” Maximus the Confessor
• “What Christ is to us — righteousness, wisdom, sanctification, redemption — Christians must now be to the world.” (Morna Hooker)
• The church’s mission is not to be palatable but to be credible: speaking clearly, acting faithfully. (MJG)
• Paul wanted the church not merely to believe the gospel but to become the gospel and thereby to advance the gospel, thus participating in the very life and mission of God (the missio Dei). (MJG)
• The church is to be a living exegesis of the gospel. (MJG)

Paul on the cross
• The cross is God’s benign invasion into the world to set it right, which includes your forgiveness and eternal life, but much more.
• The cross is not only a Christophany; it is also a theophany, revealing the power and wisdom of God.
• The cross challenges every status quo: religious, political, social, etc.
• The cross has two beams, vertical and horizontal, meaning reconciliation with God and with one another.
• The cross is not only the source, but also the shape, of our salvation. Salvation means renewal by participation in Christ.
• The mission of the church is simply, in the power of the resurrection and the Spirit, to live the story of the cross in its internal and its public life. This is what it means to be godly, Christlike, Spirit-filled—to take part in God’s life and story.
• Ironically and paradoxically, the cross and cross-shaped ministry bring about resurrection; death leads to life.

Participation in the fellowship of the cross

5Let the same mind be in you [plural] that was in Christ Jesus, 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.

Although [x] not [y] but [z]
Although [status] not [selfish exploitation] but [z] missional self-giving

NRSV, alt. (MJG)
5Let this mind [see 2:1-4] be in you [plural], which means in Christ Jesus, 6who, because he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.

Because [x] not [y] but [z]
Because [status] not [selfish exploitation] but [z] missional self-giving

Interview with Eerdmans about “Becoming the Gospel”

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

Eerdmans has posted an interview with me about my new book, Becoming the Gospel: Paul, Participation, and Mission.

Cover-Becoming the Gospel

“Becoming the Gospel” is Out

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

For all who may be interested, you may now order my newest book, Becoming the Gospel: Paul, Participation, and Mission, from Eerdmans (the publisher), Amazon, or your good theological bookstore, such as Hearts and Minds Books in Dallastown, PA.

The “thesis” of the book is pretty straightforward:

The central claim, found in the title — Becoming the Gospel: Paul, Participation, and Mission — is that already in the first Christian century the apostle Paul wanted the communities he addressed not merely to believe the gospel but to become the gospel and thereby to advance the gospel.

I will let Chris Tilling of St. Mellitus College and author of Paul’s Divine Christology say something about the book:

Combining exegesis of Paul’s letters with hermeneutics and missiology, Gorman throws new light on old debates such as those involving the language of God’s righteousness and various participatory themes. . . . Gorman writes in ways that resonate with the missional concerns of the gospel itself.

Cover-Becoming the Gospel

When asked who should read this book, I have responded “Everyone!” :-) Everyone!
First of all pastors, seminary students, and lay leaders in the churches. This is challenging but readable material. I want to spark conversations in the church. Secondly, biblical scholars, missiologists, theologians, and others who teach in and influence the various fields of study that come together in this book.

Participation and Mission in Paul

Monday, December 12th, 2011

I am in the process of completing a book on participation and mission in Paul. Here is a draft of some paragraphs from the first chapter. I look forward to thoughts and comments.

The Mission of God
What is God up to in the world? What is the missio Dei, the mission of God?

For Paul the answer to that question is clear: to bring salvation to the world. The means of that salvation is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Israel’s Messiah, and the world’s true Lord. This is the gospel, the good news. The mode by which that salvation is conveyed to the world is the preaching of this good news both in word and in deed. And the mode by which that salvation is received is described best not merely as belief in the sense of intellectual assent but as participation in the sense of a comprehensive transformation of conviction, character, and communal affiliation. This is what it means to be “in Christ,” Paul’s most fundamental expression for this participatory life that is, in fact, salvation itself….

We need to examine a bit more closely the missio Dei. What is the nature of this salvation God seeks to bring to the world?

According to Paul, God is on a mission to liberate humanity—and indeed the entire cosmos—from the powers of Sin and Death. The fullness of this liberation is a future reality for which we may, and should, now confidently hope. In the present, however, God is already at work liberating humanity from Sin and Death, through the sin-defeating and life-giving death and resurrection of his Son, as a foretaste of the glorious future that is coming. God is therefore at work creating an international network of multicultural, socio-economically diverse communities (“churches”) that participate in this liberating, transformative reality and power now—even if incompletely and imperfectly. They worship the one true God, confess his Son Jesus as the one true Lord, and live in conformity to the self-giving divine love displayed on the cross by means of the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Father and of the Son.

Participation and Mission
The thesis of the book, in a nutshell, is this: that Paul expected the salvation of God to spread throughout the world not only by means of his own gospel ministry (and that of his close colleagues), but also by means of the participation of his converts in the various house churches. They were, in essence, to become the gospel, not merely playing a supportive role by praying for and underwriting Paul’s work, but participating in the advance of the gospel through proclamation, praxis, and persecution (i.e., suffering). In a word, through witness: witness in word, in deed, and in the unpleasant consequences that often attend faithful witness.

But my goal is not principally a historical argument. In fact, if that were the book’s primary goal it would have a quite different shape. Rather, my goal is theological and indeed missional. The burden of the book is to suggest that those of us who read Paul’s letters as Christian Scripture need also to participate in the advance of the gospel by becoming the gospel, in word, in deed, and—if we are faithful—in suffering.

Participation, in other words, is essential not only to salvation, ethics, and eschatology, as many students of Paul have noted, but also to mission. Indeed, to separate these aspects of Pauline theology and spirituality is to commit an egregious act of misinterpretation of the apostle, for all of these are inseparably knit together for him. To be in Christ is to be in mission; to participate in the gospel is to participate in the advance of the gospel.

Upcoming at the 2011 SBL

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Well, the annual SBL (Society of Biblical Literature) meeting is just around the corner, together with AAR and preceded by ETS and IBR. Inquiring minds may (or may not) want to know what I’ll be up to, so here are a few things, with boldfaced type indicating sessions in which I have an official role:

1. I will be present at the first session of the GOCN Missional Hermeneutics Forum (of which I am on the steering committee), with a great program on reading the parables missionally, including a response to the papers from my friend and parables-expert Klyne Snodgrass. This will take place on Saturday, Nov. 19 from 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM in Golden Gate 6 – Hilton Union Square.

2. I will also attend the first session of the Theological Hermeneutics of Christian Scripture group (which I chair), which will have a great session on Reading [the book of] Revelation as Christian Scripture on Sunday, Nov. 20, from 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM in room 3004 of the Convention Center.

3. Sunday, Nov. 20, 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM in Golden Gate 8 – Hilton Union Square: A book review session on my book Reading Revelation Responsibly, sponsored by the GOCN Missional Hermeneutics Forum. This should be very fun and interesting, with responses from missiologist Darrell Guder of Princeton Theological Seminary, theologian John R. Franke, and NT scholars Jim Brownson of Western Theological Seminary and Sylvia Keesmaat of Trinity College in Toronto.

4. Monday, Nov. 21, 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM in Golden Gate A – Marriott Marquis: Theological Hermeneutics of Christian Scripture Group session on “Theological Interpretation and Jesus-Studies.” This session will explore the significance of two recent attempts at identifying Jesus: Beverly Roberts Gaventa and Richard B. Hays, eds., Seeking the Identity of Jesus: A Pilgrimage (Eerdmans, 2008); and Darrell L. Bock and Robert L. Webb, eds., Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence (Eerdmans, 2010).

I will be presiding, with reviews from Michael Bird of Crossway College, Amy Plantinga Pauw of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Murray Rae of the University of Otago, Panelist, and Rob Wall of Seattle Pacific University. Respondents will be the editors of the two volumes.

In addition to these sessions, I hope to hear my former Duke doctoral student Presian Burroughs give a paper on Romans 8 on Saturday morning at the Ecological Hermeneutics session, and I hope to attend the various sessions of the 2 Corinthians unit, in part because they look great and in part because I am now preparing to write my Two Horizons commentary on that letter.

Most importantly, I look forward to meeting up with old friends and with publishers. Oh–and it won’t be bad to be in San Francisco!

See some of you there!

A Missional Paradigm for the Resurrection

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Over at Frederik Mulder’s blog, NT scholar Johnson Thomaskutty from India (also host of NT Scholarship Worldwide on FB) has some significant things to say about the resurrection as of Jesus as paradigm for mission. Among his comments:

The significance of the resurrection of Jesus in my Indian context is multi-faceted. When I’m talking about the resurrection of Jesus in our multi-religious, multi-cultural and pluralistic culture of India, I have to re-interpret the significance of Christ’s resurrection for our diverse communities. The salvific significance of Christ’s work on the cross, and his resurrection should first and foremost be taught and proclaimed, as the good news of salvation for the various religious and ethnic communities. As a second order to this, when I am witnessing Christ for instance to the Dalits, Tribals and the Adivasis (the poor and marginalized, also called the dust of the dust), I use Christ’s resurrection as a model for liberation out of the clutches of oppression and dehumanization. As Christ was humiliated on the cross, and was raised by the Father from the grave, so also, Christian mission should focus on the upliftment of the oppressed out of the bondages of poverty, casteism, sin and injustice.

Resurrection is therefore a unique missional paradigm, comprising the historical reality of Christ’s resurrection, its salvific significance as well as its social implications.

Paul and the Missio Dei

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

My brief article called “Missional Musings on Paul” is out in the newest issue of the magazine for seminarians called Catalyst.

In the same issue is a fine survey of recent work on Scripture and ethics by Nijay Gupta.

A Pauline Missional Hermeneutic (1)

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

I was recently asked to write a short article on reading Paul missionally. Here’s an excerpt; the full piece will appear in a publication for seminarians called Catalyst.

In his very readable published dissertation, Mission and Moral Reflection in Paul (Peter Lang, 2006) Michael Barram (St. Mary’s College of California) argues that “mission” is not a discrete aspect of Paul’s work, such as evangelism and initial community formation, but a principal rubric for understanding the apostle’s entire vocation, including moral reflection and ongoing community nurturing. Paul’s letters are therefore “mission documents.” If Barram is right, as I think he is, then we need to read Paul’s letters in two ways: first, as witnesses to Paul’s understanding of God’s mission, his role in it, and the place of his congregations in it; and, second, as scriptural texts for our own missional identity, our contemporary vocational and ecclesial self-understanding and practices. Thus is born a Pauline missional hermeneutic.

In a Pauline missional hermeneutic, the guiding question is “How do we read Paul for what he says about the missio Dei and about our participation in it?” In other words, the issue before us is not primarily exegetical or historical, but hermeneutical. What is a Pauline letter? (a mission document). How are we to read it appropriately? (missionally). Older historical and exegetical questions—e.g., about how and whom Paul evangelized, and whether he expected his communities to do the same—are still relevant, but they will not be our primary concerns, and they are not ends in themselves. Rather, they are part of a larger discussion about Paul and mission. Together with all kinds of new questions that emerge from this enlarged understanding, they serve as a means to our own theological and missiological reflection.