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(how to tell the biblical story in a way that makes a difference)

Is Jesus called “God” in Titus 2:13?

There is a small number of texts in the New Testament that have been taken as evidence that in the earliest period Jesus was directly called “God”. John Tancock lists John 1:1; 20:28; Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1. I’ve discussed the two John passages and Romans 9:5 in other posts, though they go back a few years, and I can’t say for certain that I still agree with myself…

16 reasons for thinking that the conversion of the empire was at the heart of New Testament eschatology

I suppose that one of the main oddities of my thorough-going narrative-historical reading of the New Testament, at least from a more or less orthodox evangelical perspective, is my contention that a significant part of its “eschatological” vision has in view the conversion of the nations of the Greek-Roman world as a matter of historical fact. I think, basically, that this is where the whole “kingdom of God” argument in scripture finally lands.

Was the garden of Eden an “archetypal sanctuary”?

I have to be a bit careful in critiquing John Walton’s thesis in his book The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, because, as has been pointed out to me, it’s only a summary of his much more substantial argument in his Genesis 1 As Ancient Cosmology. I’m not sure that really excuses the lack of concrete evidence in support of the argument in the shorter book, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Larry Hurtado’s (non-apocalyptic) Destroyer of the gods

If we are going to read the New Testament as historical narrative, we have to have some sense of historical context. The church, on the whole, is not interested in historical context. The Bible is mostly treated as a self-contained, self-sufficient sacred text. In a recent comment Travis Finley wrote: “My hermeneutic ultimately depends upon a primacy of the uniformity of scripture; that is, the reader ought to be able to interpret the meaning of the text from the primary text itself, rather than extra-biblical.”

That perhaps suggests a high view of scripture, but it is also going to be, more often than not, a protectionist strategy. We are afraid that if we make scripture transparent to its literary-historical environment, our cherished interpretations of it—whether traditional or idiosyncratic—will be put at risk.

“Jesus is Lord” before (and after) Trinitarian orthodoxy

I have no problem with Trinitarian orthodoxy as the product of a post-biblical, post-Jewish, post-apocalyptic rethinking of the relationship between Father, Son and Spirit, in the context of the construction of a new worldview for the Greek-Roman oikoumenē. I think that was probably, like Christendom itself, a natural and necessary development.

A narrative-historical approach, however, pushes back against the worldview-defining dominance of Trinitarian orthodoxy at two points.

Talking Jesus: how does the Trinity fit in?

Neil asks in connection with my post Talking Jesus: problems with the modern evangelistic paradigm: “how do you view the Trinity given your statement about the uniqueness of Paul’s encounter with the risen Christ and everyone else’s encounter with either the pre-risen Christ or the Holy Spirit post-resurrection?” I had complained that in the “Talking Jesus” report on evangelism in England the understanding of Jesus that dominates the New Testament is entirely disregarded. I will try and explain roughly how I think the Trinity fits into this argument.

The Lost World of Genesis One is lost on me

I have finally got round to reading John Walton’s The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, and I have to say, I don’t see it.

Walton’s central contention is that what we have in Genesis 1 is an account not of the creation of the material cosmos but of the inauguration of the world as a temple for the creator God. He does not deny that the world is God’s material creation as a matter of theology, only that this is not the message that the author of the passage was trying to get across. In the context of the debate about origins there is an immediate benefit: we no longer need to map the chronology of Genesis 1 against scientific accounts of the formation of the universe and the emergence of life:

In summary, we have suggested that the seven days are not given as the period of time over which the material cosmos came into existence, but the period of time devoted to the inauguration of the functions of the cosmic temple…. (91)

Born of a woman

Why does Paul say in Galatians 4:4 that Jesus was “born from a woman” (genomenon ek gunaikos)? I argued in “Christmas according to St Paul” that the “sending” of Jesus was much more like the sending of the son to the vineyard in the parable of the wicked tenants than the sending of Wisdom into the world. In other words, I don’t think Paul is talking about the incarnation. The sending happened when the time was fulfilled and Jesus began to proclaim the good news of the coming kingdom of God to Israel (cf. Mk. 1:15).

I noted that “born of a woman or of women” was an idiomatic expression for being human, and in particular for being weak, vulnerable and flawed. But there is perhaps more that can be said.

A conversation with Emi about salvation and mission

Emi is a seventeen year old high school student in the Seattle area. She has posted a couple of lengthy comments on this site in which she expresses the struggle she is going through trying to reconcile the narrative-historical reading of the New Testament, which she understands and summarises remarkably well, with certain deeply held convictions about salvation.

I wrote a piece on the biblical argument about salvation in response to her first comment. Here I’ve tried to answer her second set of questions, which have to do more with the motivation for mission—and indeed for being Christian at all. Hopefully it adds something new to the conversation and I am not just repeating myself.

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