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

If they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?

I taught a class, as part of a King’s School of Theology course over the weekend, on Jesus and the story of Israel. My starting point was to say that we have two basic ways of telling the story about Jesus. There is a vertical-theological story about the eternal Son who is incarnated in the middle of time, who dies for the sins of the world, and who returns to resume his place in the godhead for the rest of eternity. There is also a horizontal-historical story about Jesus. In this story he is the beloved Son sent to the mismanaged vineyard of Israel, whose death at the hands of the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem opens up a difficult, narrow and hazardous path for the few who are prepared to follow him, and whose resurrection vouches for the continued existence of God’s people in the age to come.

10 Apr 2019

Donald Hagner’s book How New is the New Testament? First Century Judaism and the Emergence of Christianity is coming to epitomise, in my view, evangelicalism’s sad failure of nerve when it comes to the interpretation of the New Testament’s outlook on the future. As a historian Hagner is fully...

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7 Apr 2019

In a section in his chapter on Luke in his book How New is the New Testament?, Hagner sets out an “interpretive dilemma” (41-45). He has gone through the opening chapters of Luke and noted that we find in the infancy stories both “strong motifs of continuity with the language of the OT...

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5 Apr 2019

Sitting by a pool in Phnom Penh I’ve just picked up Donald Hagner’s book How New is the New Testament? I find much of his work very useful, but I’m expecting to end up some way further in the direction of “the New Testament is not new” than he is. We’ll see.

The opening paragraph sets the scene...

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1 Apr 2019

The Jesus of the Gospels is not the Jesus of our modern theologies, including proudly Jesus-centred, modern evangelicalism. This saying about the righteous shining like the sun in the kingdom of the Father could, I suppose, be adapted without too much difficulty to a mainstream evangelical message—as a way of...

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26 Mar 2019

I preached at Crossroads International Church in The Hague last Sunday on Jesus’ claim to be the bread of life in John 6, as part of a series on the true identity of Jesus. After the service I got chatting with Alexandra, who is Dutch, and who asked whether I was worried that people might miss the serious content...

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20 Mar 2019

Austin asks: “How do we know what the creator God wants from us if the Scriptures are history for us and we’re not looking forward to ‘the day of Christ’? What are some practical ways of living this out? How do we interact with those of differing faiths?” Here is a quick list of practical things that we might do—an...

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18 Mar 2019

Here’s an interesting question. What are we to understand by the phrase “Author of life” in the ESV translation of Acts 3:15? Since we would normally say that God as creator is the author of life, we might imagine that Peter is saying, in this very early defence of the apostolic witness,...

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14 Mar 2019

What I say is: a narrative theology ought to be able to account for the whole experience of the people of God, not just the beginning, middle, and end of it. We may give some sort of priority to the early biblical sections of the narrative, but the story doesn’t stop with the events of the New Testament—...

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