(how to tell the biblical story in a way that makes a difference)
The stories we get so animated aboutMy view is that one of the main challenges that the church in the West faces—at least from my late-Protestant and somewhat post-evangelical perspective—is to learn to tell our “story” differently. This has to do, in the first place, with how we understand ourselves as a biblical people, but it also... (20th Apr. 2015 | 2 comments)
Who was the suffering servant of Isaiah 52:13-53:12?I have written a few times about the controversial doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement (see below). A friend got in touch this week asking whether I thought the word “chastisement” in Isaiah 53:5 should be read “through a filter of penal substitution”—she had discovered (via the Septuagint... (14th Apr. 2015 | 1 comment)
Does Jesus have anything to say about homosexuality? Simple answer, no.Scot McKnight has recently proposed three (or four) teachings in the Synoptic Gospels where Jesus may have had homosexual behaviour in mind. The discussions I’ve been involved in over the last few weeks have focused primarily on the prohibitive texts in Leviticus and Paul. It’s been assumed that... (8th Apr. 2015 | 9 comments)
The resurrection of the Son of God (and the rationalisation of God the Son)It was put to me in a comment on FaceBook this week that from time to time I “point out the weaknesses of the Trinity”. That’s true, but the statement needs careful qualification. I point out the weaknesses of the theological formulation of Trinitarian belief for hermeneutical reasons—I think that... (3rd Apr. 2015 | 8 comments)
Judgment, kingdom, and sexual immoralityThe previous post (“Resurrection, judgment, and sexual immorality”) was an attempt to locate Paul’s condemnation of sexual immorality in general and homosexuality in particular in Romans 1:24-27 in the eschatological narrative that I think controls his thought in the letter. Here I will try to do... (2nd Apr. 2015 | 8 comments)
Resurrection, judgment, and sexual immoralityThis week began with a class on Acts in Nottingham and ends with a three day theological forum in Glasgow on healthy sexuality and the LGBT debate. Here I attempt to track the route between the two topics—to show how Acts sets the eschatological frame for Paul’s condemnation of sexual immorality... (27th Mar. 2015 | 8 comments)
The argument of Galatians: justification by faith in a new futureAs much as any other of Paul’s letters, Galatians is written with an eschatological narrative frame firmly in place. It’s not immediately obvious—it’s been squeezed to the periphery by the argument about faith and the Jewish Law which dominates the letter. But that does not mean that eschatology... (19th Mar. 2015 | 3 comments)
The skeletal narrative of the Synoptic GospelsSome more sketchy notes on the Synoptic narrative for my teaching at St Johns Nottingham before moving on—rather hesitantly—to John’s Gospel.
The story told about Jesus and the coming kingdom of God in the Synoptic Gospels does not stand on its own; it is not a self-contained narrative. It is an... (12th Mar. 2015 | 4 comments)
The kingdom of God: a down-to-earth explanationTomorrow in Nottingham we will be looking at the narrative skeleton of the Synoptic Gospels as an outworking of the history of second temple Judaism and as the ground for the emergence of the church in the third century. I shall quote Wright’s criterion of “double similarity”, though perhaps not... (9th Mar. 2015 | 4 comments)
The rich man, Lazarus and AbrahamI’ve written about the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk. 16:19-31) a couple of times (see below), mainly for the purpose of dismissing the popular doctrine of hell. I missed an intriguing intertextual detail, however, that is attributed to Simon Perry in a Wikipedia article, though Nolland... (6th Mar. 2015 | 2 comments)
The proclamation of the gospel is the “narration of past history” (Hengel)I’m currently teaching an Introduction to the New Testament class at St John’s Nottingham. I started last week with a quotation from Martin Hengel: “There cannot… be any proclamation of the gospel which is not at the same time a narration of past history.” That can be taken in different ways, but... (3rd Mar. 2015 | 9 comments)
History and theology: off the chartsA major part of my general argument is that the modern church thinks of the New Testament as theology (or beliefs) set in a historical context and thinks that the historical context is of much less importance than the theology. My contention is that the New Testament gives us the opposite: history... (17th Feb. 2015 | 15 comments)
The Anglican Church renounces renouncing the devilThe General Synod of the Church of England voted this week to pension off the devil, as The Telegraph puts it. The baptism service will no longer include a promise by parents and godparents to “renounce the devil and all his works” or in the language of a more modern version, “reject the devil and... (14th Feb. 2015 | 2 comments)
St Michael kicks the dragon out of heavenThere has been some good discussion of the account of the expulsion of Satan from heaven in Revelation 12:7-12 attached to yesterday’s post about Luke 10:18. If only for my own benefit, I want to try to explain what I think is happening theologically in this passage.
In Jewish thought Satan is a... (11th Feb. 2015 | 1 comment)
The fall of Satan from heaven and what comes nextHaving turned down applications from a number of people who were not up to the task (Lk. 9:57-62), Jesus appoints seventy-two messengers and sends them throughout Israel. The saying about the harvest being plentiful and the need for workers belongs in this historical setting (Lk. 10:2); it is not... (10th Feb. 2015 | 5 comments)
When Adam names the woman, he does not exert authority over herI’m trying very hard to like Greg Gilbert’s book Who is Jesus?, really I am, but he is a classic example of someone caught between two paradigms. On the one hand, he wants to take on board new perspectives arising out of biblical studies. On the other, he doesn’t want to let go of core Reformed-... (5th Feb. 2015 | 6 comments)
Neither the prince of Tyre nor the king of Babylon is SatanI have never understood why the prophecy about the prince of Tyre in Ezekiel 28:1-19 and the taunt against the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14:3-23 have traditionally been interpreted as having reference to Satan. I have just come across the argument again in Greg Gilbert’s book Who is Jesus?
Gilbert... (3rd Feb. 2015 | 17 comments)
Same-sex unions in eschatological perspectiveThis is not going to be a conventional review of James Brownson’s book on gender and homosexuality in the Bible. I’ll begin with two very broad assertions, then look at the texts, and finish with some cautious and increasingly opaque conclusions—be warned. For a summary of Brownson’s argument see... (28th Jan. 2015 | 0 comments)