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Concerning the times and seasons Reading the New Testament as historical narrative rather than as “Christian theology”—as raw material rather than as over-refined intellectual product—is not a matter of self-contained interpretation. It’s not just about how we understand the text. It’s about how we live with it. If the... (15th Jan. 2014 | 4 comments)
The gospel, the story of Israel, and personal salvation: no compromise I read a couple of old articles this week responding to Scot McKnight’s book The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited from a Reformed perspective: Scot McKnight and the “King Jesus Gospel” 2: Points of Concern by Trevin Wax, and What God Has Joined Together: The Story and... (9th Jan. 2014 | 24 comments)
Anabaptism and the truncated politics of Jesus A few days ago I raised some questions about how well the characteristically “neo-Anabaptist” emphasis on the cross as the lens through which we must now view God—he is the “crucified God”, the “Jesus-looking God”—works within the overall narrative of the New Testament.My argument was, on the one... (6th Jan. 2014 | 5 comments)
A question about the “Jesus-looking God” of the neo-Anabaptists This pointed question was posed by Zach Hoag in a brief conversation about Jesus and violence that I was following on Twitter over the new year:Honest Q: Is there tension between the “Jesus-looking God” of neo-anabaptists & the “1st century Jewish Jesus” of the new perspectivists?I am not an... (2nd Jan. 2014 | 8 comments)
Top posts of the last year I haven’t done this before, but it seems a cheap and cheerful way to bring the year to an end. I got the idea from Brian LePort at Near Emmaus. It’s an inexact exercise. I know which posts received the most hits over the last year, but obviously those which went into the vineyard early have earned... (30th Dec. 2013 | 1 comment)
“Glory to the newborn King” or “Hail the incarnate Deity”? The Gospel Coalition has a blog post by Joe Carter: 9 Things You Should Know About Christmas. It’s all fairly trivial stuff: Jesus probably wasn’t born on December 25th, there’s no mention of a donkey in the texts, we don’t know how many wise men there were, Martin Luther disapproved of Santa Claus... (23rd Dec. 2013 | 9 comments)
A half-truth of modern evangelicalism: Jesus lives in the heart of the believer The controlling New Testament story about the resurrected Jesus is that he is seated at the right hand of the Father, having received authority to judge and rule over the nations. The thought runs from his words to Caiaphas (Matt. 26:64; Lk. 22:69), through the preaching first of the early church... (19th Dec. 2013 | 7 comments)
The good news of a different future I am recording a couple of video lectures next week on 1 and 2 Thessalonians. The approach I want to take is to highlight the story that lies behind the two letters, constructed partly from the more or less credible account of Paul’s time in Thessalonica that Luke provides (Acts 17:1-9), partly... (12th Dec. 2013 | 3 comments)
From the River to the ends of the earth: Jesus and empire I’m working my way through the first of the two volumes that make up N.T. Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God . So far it’s all fascinating background stuff about the eschatological narratives of the Pharisees, the philosophies of the Greeks, and the religion and politics of the Romans,... (4th Dec. 2013 | 4 comments)
A narrative statement of missional faith I’ve been engaged in a little exercise with some friends rewriting a mission organization’s statement of faith. What I have presented below is my reworking of a rough, more cautious, but actually rather effective first attempt to make “a bit of a narrative out of our core beliefs, rather than a... (28th Nov. 2013 | 2 comments)
“Hell” and the individual sinner Rob got in touch with a couple of questions about my post on the unbiblical doctrine of hell. My argument is roughly that the language of painful judgment in the New Testament—Gehenna, wailing and gnashing of teeth, violent destruction, etc.—refers not to what happens to individuals after death but... (25th Nov. 2013 | 5 comments)
Violent Jesus vs. non-violent Jesus. And the winner is...? I’ve been reading David Neville’s book A Peaceable Hope: Contesting Violent Eschatology in New Testament Narratives in order to review it for the Evangelical Quarterly. Neville sets out the problem he means to address in the opening paragraph:There is a discrepancy at the heart of the New Testament... (22nd Nov. 2013 | 3 comments)
Who or what will see the Son of Man coming in clouds? And where? According to Mark’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples that, as the apocalyptic storyline reaches its climax and the lights start going out over Jerusalem, “they” will see the Son of man coming in clouds (Mk. 13:24-26). But who—or what—are “they”? In A Peaceable Hope: Contesting Violent Eschatology... (18th Nov. 2013 | 6 comments)
Triumphalism, empire, and the early church Paul Dean is troubled by the inclusion of the word “triumphantly” in the closing sentence of the previous post on The end of narrative for Christians and Jews: “For the church, narrative came to an end triumphantly in the conversion of the empire and was replaced by theology.” He asks: “Why is that... (13th Nov. 2013 | 0 comments)
The end of narrative for Christians and Jews The New Testament is an eschatological text. It tells a story, which is essentially a Jewish story about the fulfilment of age-old, deeply held hopes expressed in the Psalms and the prophets. The death and resurrection of Jesus brings that story to some sort of climax, but not to an end. There is... (11th Nov. 2013 | 4 comments)
The woman and the dragon Preparing some lectures on Revelation, I came across Ian Paul’s very helpful introduction to the book in Exploring the New Testament: Letters and Revelation v. 2 . With Revelation, probably more than with any other New Testament text, it is difficult to deal with its meaning apart from its form... (6th Nov. 2013 | 7 comments)
The long, difficult story of new creation I had a long conversation over the weekend with an Asian friend who is engaged in conflict-resolution projects in her war-torn country. She was particularly interested in the importance of inter-faith conversations and practices, and we got round to talking about the difference between Christian... (30th Oct. 2013 | 5 comments)
The “Christ hymn”: true humanity or true kingship? The new Story of God Bible Commentary series is another encouraging sign that the narrative-historical approach to the New Testament is building up a head of steam, even if it is not entirely clear which track it is heading down or how far it might go. Interpretation is about telling the story,... (21st Oct. 2013 | 4 comments)
How Paul saw the future Paul had a sharp and vivid understanding of what the future held. It took the form of a prophetic narrative that would affect his own people Israel, the nations and the churches. It was not a matter of peripheral interest, an appendix to his theology. The narrative is pervasive in his letters and... (14th Oct. 2013 | 4 comments)
Larry Hurtado briefly on the question of whether Jesus demanded to be worshipped Larry Hurtado has a clear and concise summary statement of his view regarding the emergence of what he calls “Jesus devotion”. He does not think that Jesus himself demanded to be worshipped, which is not quite the same as saying that Jesus did not claim to be God or act as though he thought he were... (9th Oct. 2013 | 37 comments)
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