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

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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 | 5 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 | 16 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 | 6 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 | 4 comments)
Why traditional eschatology is a failure of nerve I want to begin the new year by exhorting “evangelicals”—that is, by my definition, Christians who think that the Bible is to be taken seriously—to get to grips with eschatology. Why not? It’s as good a time as any to pause and reflect on where things are going.The traditional view is that the... (1st Jan. 2019 | 8 comments)
When exactly did the Word become flesh? In the beginning, which may have been either the beginning of creation or the beginning of new creation, or both, the Word was with God, and the Word in some sense was God. This is John’s reworking of a familiar Jewish Wisdom motif, probably with a view to linking it with the prevalent Hellenistic... (20th Dec. 2018 | 17 comments)
Ignorance about the ignorance of the Son Carlton Wynne is assistant professor of systematic theology and apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary and, therefore, not surprisingly believes that “as the eternal Son of the Father, Jesus Christ possesses the fullness of deity, including the attribute of omniscience”. But how are we to... (14th Dec. 2018 | 6 comments)
Why won’t there be marriage in the resurrection? What are we to make of Jesus’ saying that in the resurrection people will not marry or be given in marriage? I’ve been looking at Robert Song’s argument for covenant partnerships for gay and lesbian people in his book Covenant and Calling: Towards a Theology of Same-Sex Relationships. Marriage is... (12th Dec. 2018 | 7 comments)
Evangelicals and the narrative-historical method: three questions I am arguing on this site for a major shift in the way that the church reads the New Testament and presents its significant content. Most churches today start from a theological tradition and, wittingly or otherwise, read the New Testament for the purpose of explaining, elaborating upon and... (6th Dec. 2018 | 11 comments)
In the beginning was the Word, etc. Since John’s christology has been under discussion recently (see “Why did the Jews accuse Jesus of making himself equal to God?” and “Before Abraham was, I am”), and since I will be preaching on the Word which became flesh as the first in an Advent series this Sunday, I’ve scraped together some... (29th Nov. 2018 | 11 comments)
Before Abraham was, I am My assumption has always been that we have a “higher” christology in the Gospel of John than we do in the Synoptic Gospels, but I’m beginning to have my doubts. I argued last week that when Jesus is accused by the Jews of making himself equal to God or making himself God (Jn. 5:17-18; 10:33), his... (26th Nov. 2018 | 9 comments)
Why did the Jews accuse Jesus of making himself equal to God? I think we have to allow that John’s Gospel differs from the Synoptic Gospels in this fundamental respect: it is not an attempt to remember the historical Jesus; it is an attempt to restate the significance of the historical Jesus from a later theological vantage point, shaped in particular by a... (20th Nov. 2018 | 16 comments)
Does the narrative-historical method distort New Testament christology? My response to deon’s two lengthy and thoughtful comments (see the last piece on Jesus as Alpha and Omega) on how the narrative-historical approach potentially distorts crucial elements of New Testament christology has grown rather long, so I have posted it separately. But it remains a response to... (15th Nov. 2018 | 31 comments)
Jesus as Alpha and Omega, first and last, beginning and end Towards the end of the book of Revelation John hears somebody say: “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 22:12–13). This is presumably Jesus speaking (... (13th Nov. 2018 | 20 comments)
What happens on the “day of Christ”? Less than you might think The New Testament narrative at every point is directed towards future events, from John the Baptist’s announcement that the bad trees of Israel would be cut down and burned in the fire to John the Seer’s vision of a new heaven and a new earth. I say “events”—plural—because I don’t think the... (7th Nov. 2018 | 3 comments)
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