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Is the Shema really so important for understanding “one God… one Lord” in 1 Corinthians 8:6? Richard Worden Wilson has drawn attention to a short piece by Scot McKnight on the relation between Paul’s statement about one God and one Lord in 1 Corinthians 8:6 and the Shema, the great Jewish confession that “The LORD our God (yhwh eloheinu), the LORD (yhwh) is one” (Deut 6:4). McKnight thinks... (16th May. 2013 | 7 comments)
Tweaking Richard Bauckham on Jesus and the God of Israel In his valuable book Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity Richard Bauckham argues that the unique identity of God in scripture is characterized in two ways: he is the particular God of Israel, known to them as YHWH,... (14th May. 2013 | 41 comments)
Some rough and ready “rules” for doing a narrative-historical reading of the New Testament In response to persistent demands that I explain my hermeneutic, here is a list of seven rough and ready “rules” for doing a narrative-historical reading of the New Testament. They loosely outline or summarize what is to my mind a coherent and defensible methodology, but I have not offered here... (9th May. 2013 | 22 comments)
What must a person believe in order to be saved? The question came up in yet another long and fraught debate about the divinity of Jesus whether belief that Jesus is God is required for salvation. Reference was made to an article by C. Michael Patton, who thinks that the following beliefs are essential for salvation: belief in God, in Christ’s... (3rd May. 2013 | 13 comments)
Christendom: fulfilment or false start? In a perceptive comment in which he recommends consideration of Abraham Heschel’s “theology of Pathos”, Mark Nieweg draws attention to what he sees as a fundamental dilemma or paradox at the heart of the consistent narrative-historical approach to reading the New Testament.I have actually been more... (30th Apr. 2013 | 15 comments)
Jesus as Lord in Mark Ed Dingess, who appears to be a Reformed apologist, has taken the trouble to add some polite and thoughtful comments to my post “Kenton Sparks: historical criticism and the virgin birth”. He makes some good points and raises some good questions about the narrative-historical approach to reading the... (24th Apr. 2013 | 168 comments)
What about 1 Corinthians 1:30? Nope, no imputation of righteousness here either. So where is it then? John Piper thinks that 1 Corinthians 1:30 “stands as a signal pointing to the righteousness of Christ that becomes ours when we are united to him by God through faith”.1 He is pleased to be able to quote Tom Wright’s “concession” to the Reformed position regarding this text:It is the only passage I... (18th Apr. 2013 | 2 comments)
More on the righteousness of God and the justification of believers Some pertinent questions were asked by Jon and Geoff in the comments in response to my last post on Wright and White on the “righteousness of God” in 2 Corinthians 5:21. This is an extended answer to them. The questions overlap a little, so I may be repeating myself in a couple of places.It may... (16th Apr. 2013 | 26 comments)
Wright and White on the “righteousness of God” in 2 Corinthians 5:21 Driving back from visiting my mother yesterday I listened to a Premier Radio podcast of Tom Wright and James White debating the meaning of “justification” in Paul. It’s a difficult and rather disjointed conversation—Justin Brierley was clearly struggling to keep his head above water—but it’s worth... (12th Apr. 2013 | 17 comments)
He is near, at the doors Ian Paul wonders whether it’s not the besieging Roman army that will be at the closed gates of Jerusalem rather than the Son of Man, who will be “coming on the clouds of heaven” rather than entering by the gates. His interpretation would fit the historical thesis well, but I’m not sure the limited... (9th Apr. 2013 | 2 comments)
The coming of the Son of Man: theology or history? Here’s another example of how we can let theology or dogma get in the way of good biblical interpretation. Bill Mounce, whose mostly excellent exegetical notes I read from time to time, discusses the translation of Mark 13:29, which in the ESV reads:So also, when you see these things taking place,... (4th Apr. 2013 | 30 comments)
Good Friday: the death of Jesus in narrative-historical context It has been stated a number of times in recent discussions here that only a divine Jesus could atone for the sins of the world. The death of a mere man is simply not big enough or significant enough—metaphysically speaking—to account for such a massive outcome. Since it is Good Friday tomorrow, I... (28th Mar. 2013 | 20 comments)
Jesus is God or Jesus is Lord? The long conversation I have been having with John Tancock (starting here) illustrates rather well, to my mind, the difference between the theological approach and the narrative-historical (a.k.a. apocalyptic-eschatological, biblical critical, you name it) approach to reading the New Testament.... (21st Mar. 2013 | 95 comments)
When prophecy fails: why do people always assume that Jesus got it wrong? I have started reading Frederick Murphy’s book Apocalypticism in the Bible and Its World: A Comprehensive Introduction . Why? Because I think that the theological paradigm for interpretation of the New Testament has passed its sell-by date and that apocalyptic is a crucial component of the... (16th Mar. 2013 | 4 comments)
Theology, narrative and history: how they work in practice Following up on The battle between theology and history for the soul of the church: 24 antitheses, I want to clear up what looks to me like an area of confusion regarding the relationship between theology, narrative and history. In a couple of helpful comments Ted Grimsrud argues for what he calls... (13th Mar. 2013 | 2 comments)
The battle between theology and history for the soul of the church: 24 antitheses I keep coming back to this. There are people out there in the church—perhaps not very many—who think more or less the same way that I do. We may not agree on the details or the degree, but we are oriented in roughly the same direction. But there are a lot of good people out there in the church who... (5th Mar. 2013 | 22 comments)
Reading the Old Testament as a Christian I am preparing a piece for a theological forum in a couple of weeks on reading the Old Testament as a Christian. I will probably make two main points. The first is that the traditional approach needs to be reversed. We usually read the Old Testament in the light of the New Testament: on the one... (1st Mar. 2013 | 3 comments)
A missional understanding of justification by faith (by way of Isaiah) Isaiah is on the defensive. He hears a word from the Lord and he has to speak it. He does not disobey, nor does he contradict God. As a result, he gets scourged, beaten, and spat upon. But he can endure all this abuse from unrighteous Israel because the Lord is his helper. He has not been disgraced... (21st Feb. 2013 | 9 comments)
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 oikoumenē. That is also my view. But at the end of the story... (13th Feb. 2013 | 8 comments)
What is the basis for the mission to the Gentiles? As a thoroughly Gentile church we take the logic of a mission to the Gentiles for granted, but it’s not as obvious or inevitable as we might think. Jesus appears to have been almost entirely occupied with a mission to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:6; 15:24; cf. Jer. 50:6) and,... (8th Feb. 2013 | 7 comments)
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