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

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(Re-)defining the kingdom of God in nine words I know this has been a recurring theme here, but a concise statement about the kingdom of God on the Gospel Coalition site gives me another opportunity to stress the importance of a fundamental biblical-theological distinction, one that I have been making here for the last ten years and more.It’s... (21st May. 2019 | 2 comments)
How often I wanted to gather your children: Jesus, pre-existence, and the temple It is sometimes argued that when Jesus laments over Jerusalem, saying, “How often I wanted to gather your children…” (Matt. 23:37), we should understand this as an assertion of his involvement “in the entire duration of Israel’s history.”1 In Simon Gathercole’s words, Jesus is portrayed in Matthew’... (15th May. 2019 | 2 comments)
More on Michael Bird and the divine identity of Jesus in Mark In the previous post I put forward my reasons for doubting Michael Bird’s claim, in his anti-adoptionist polemic Jesus the Eternal Son, that Mark identifies Jesus as the “Lord” whose way is prepared by John the Baptist. Bird offers a number of further arguments in his chapter on “The Gospel of Mark... (8th May. 2019 | 2 comments)
Questioning the answer to adoptionist christology: Prepare the way of which Lord? Adoptionism, Michael Bird tells us in his book Jesus the Eternal Son: Answering Adoptionist Christology, was one of the “most potent if not persistent heresies of the second and third centuries”. It came in several unpalatable varieties, but common to all was the view 1) that “divine sonship was... (1st May. 2019 | 2 comments)
Evangelism in the age of stupid I have a few loosely related comments to make about an article on the Christianity Today site by the missiologist Ed Stetzer: “Headwinds in Evangelism: New Challenges Secularism and Pluralism Add to Outreach.”1. Having watched the new Attenborough documentary Climate Change: The Facts and Franny... (19th Apr. 2019 | 2 comments)
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... (16th Apr. 2019 | 26 comments)
When the “restoration of all things” is not the restoration of all things 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 aware... (10th Apr. 2019 | 18 comments)
Donald Hagner’s “interpretive dilemma” that isn’t a dilemma 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 and Second... (7th Apr. 2019 | 8 comments)
Some thoughts on the opening paragraph of Donald Hagner’s How New is the New Testament? 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... (5th Apr. 2019 | 3 comments)
When Jesus goes off message: the righteous will shine like the sun 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—... (1st Apr. 2019 | 14 comments)
Podcast: The true identity of Jesus: I am the bread of life 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... (26th Mar. 2019 | 5 comments)
If the Bible is history, what are we supposed to do? 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... (20th Mar. 2019 | 10 comments)
The salvation of the Jews by the “Author of life”—not quite in the way you might think 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, that Jesus... (18th Mar. 2019 | 19 comments)
Testing times: a narrative framework for the renewal of the Western church 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... (14th Mar. 2019 | 17 comments)
Another reason to think that Isaiah’s suffering servant is the generation of Jews which grew up in Babylon Whoever finally redacted Isaiah 40-55 saw fit to insert or leave the passage about the suffering servant between a promise concerning the redemption of Jerusalem and the return of the exiles (Is. 52:1-12) and the assurance that the ruined city would be abundantly repopulated: “the children of the... (26th Feb. 2019 | 4 comments)
About whom does the prophet say this? In the famous “servant song” of Isaiah 52:13-53:12 the prophet describes a person who has suffered punishment because of the sins of Israel, and whose sufferings have had some sort of redemptive effect:But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the... (7th Feb. 2019 | 16 comments)
Who will recline at table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven? The Canaanite woman in Matthew’s story got the leftovers from the table at which the “children” of the household of Israel were being fed. She had no right to sit at the table, nor was any such right promised to her or her daughter; and it is clear that Jesus found her a distraction.The earlier... (1st Feb. 2019 | 16 comments)
What did it mean to “see” the coming of the Son of Man in clouds? When Jesus says that some people will “see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory” (Mk. 13:26), does he mean this literally—picking up on a recent comment? Does he expect people to look up to the sky and actually see a human figure descending to earth on a cloud, like Mary... (26th Jan. 2019 | 6 comments)
Why was Jesus so polite to the centurion and so rude to the Canaanite woman? The story of the Canaanite woman (Matt. 15:21-28; cf. Mk. 7:24-30) has been going round in my head the last few days, partly because I have been marking a number of undergraduate essays comparing the two versions of the episode, partly because I happened across quite a good podcast in which Trevin... (21st Jan. 2019 | 16 comments)
Stephen Burnhope: Atonement and the New Perspective One of the main arguments that I have been putting forward on this site is that modern evangelicalism needs to shift its weight from the rickety stool of theology or dogmatics, before it collapses, to the much more solid and reliable stool of history. What would this mean for how we understand... (10th Jan. 2019 | 6 comments)
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