Two narratives of the cross for Good Friday

Fri, 18/04/2014 - 12:51

There is a simple, universal or cosmic or existential narrative of the cross—the horizontal beam. Humanity has fallen, every individual person has sinned and must go by way of the cross to gain eternal life. But, for all its merits, this is a theological abstraction. It is not the biblical narrative.

The biblical narrative of the cross is not universal or cosmic or existential and it is nothing like as simple. It is historical—the vertical piece, which sustains whatever else we may wish to say.

It arises out of the story of ancient Israel. The brutal execution of Jesus by the Romans is a critical moment in the story of how the descendants of Abraham made the long and arduous journey from exile to empire, from judgment to justification, from sin to forgiveness, from Law to Spirit, from death to the life of the age to come.

17 Apr 2014

I’ll make this my last post on Bird, et al.’s lively—bordering on manic—response to Bart Ehrman’s book . Chris Tilling is a good friend, so I need to tread a little carefully here. His argument is based largely on his published PhD thesis , which I have read and greatly enjoyed.

In chapter 6 of he puts...

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9 Apr 2014

Bart Ehrman thinks that Jesus became God—not in reality, of course, but in the minds of the early Christians. Against Ehrman, Simon Gathercole argues in , much as Michael Bird did earlier, that the Synoptic Gospels “see Jesus as having pre-existed and as divine in the strong sense of that word” (116)....

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2 Apr 2014

The sermon on the mount is addressed to first century Jews in Israel. The Beatitudes define that small community of first century Jews in Israel through which and for the sake of which YHWH would restore his people at a time of severe political-religious crisis. It is a community of the...

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27 Mar 2014

I am very appreciative of Michael Bird’s work, partly because he understands the importance of developing a credible theological mindset on the basis of a New Perspective reading of the New Testament, partly because he quoted my sinking ship parable from...

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21 Mar 2014

Mike Mercer—Chaplain Mike—wrote a nice piece a couple of years back on the Internet Monk site putting forward the view that Matthew’s Gospel is “a Torah, a catechism, an instruction manual for the church”. He wonders whether this perspective brings into question my contention that Jesus was a prophet of Israel...

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19 Mar 2014

Another place where gender and eschatology intersect is Jesus’ answer to the Sadducees’ question about the woman whose misfortune it is to be serially married to seven brothers: “In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife”. In Luke’s more developed version Jesus...

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17 Mar 2014

Following a vigorous and invigorating discussion of Trinity, subordination and headship at a small theological forum last week, I sat down this morning to have a look at Ephesians 5:22-33 again. It occurs to me that I have never really considered the possibility of assimilating the gender issue into the narrative-...

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11 Mar 2014

Why do we assume that in his sermon on the mount Jesus addresses the whole church throughout the ages? Much of the teaching has to do with what it means to fulfil the Law of Moses, which Jesus categorically says he has not come to abolish—at least, not until heaven and earth pass away (5:17). The unrighteous are...

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At random...

Eternal life and the story of Israel I got a question from someone recently asking about the meaning of “eternal life” in the Gospels. He takes it that the expression “age to come” refers to the time after either the collapse of national Israel or the collapse of the pagan...
Review of Brian Jones, Hell is Real (But I Hate to Admit It) I have just received a review copy of a book by Brian Jones called Hell is Real (But I Hate to Admit It), published by David C. Cook—an excellent title, though I hate to admit it. The book also starts with one of the most gripping opening...
New Perspective and Reformed theologies at a crossroads Jim Hoag has a couple of pertinent questions about my “Postconservative evangelicalism and beyond” post—pertinent, in fact, to the point that he makes me wonder whether the piece had much in the way of substance to it at all. The first...