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

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Pete Enns has an excellent Bible for Normal People podcast on Romans in which he “shares 10 things essential to understanding the book of Romans.” I wrote about this last year, but since Geoff Leslie asked about it, here’s a brief rerun.Enns’ emphasis on the importance of groups gives a better... (13th Sep. 2019 | 2 comments)
The first thing to say about David Bentley Hart’s book, That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, & Universal Salvation is that it takes as its point of departure the “Question of an Eternal Hell”. Immediately here, I think, we have the trouble with universalism. It has been devised as a solution... (10th Sep. 2019 | 2 comments)
I’m impressed by Andrew Errington’s lively tweeted summary of the argument of Romans—so impressed, in fact, that I thought I’d try a narrative-historical version. It’s an excellent little exercise, given the complexity of the letter. It’s crucial for good interpretation to have a sense of the whole... (3rd Sep. 2019 | 6 comments)
Here I want to try and answer some questions sent to me by someone who grew up in the “reformed, fundamental, SBC” tradition but has spent the best part of the last year deconstructing his faith “down to nothing.” He has been reading the work of historically-minded interpreters like Pete Enns and... (20th Aug. 2019 | 5 comments)
Certain core emphases or tenets have emerged over the years as I have dug myself deeper and deeper into the pit of the narrative-historical perspective:The key to understanding the Bible is history, not theology.What holds the whole thing together is the historical existence of a people that tells... (14th Aug. 2019 | 5 comments)
In the opening paragraph of his book Jewish Messianism and the Cult of Christ (SCM Press, 1998) William Horbury outlines a basic model for understanding the relation of the Old Testament to history. His leading contention is that the Old Testament “forms the backbone of any study of messianism in... (6th Aug. 2019 | 3 comments)
At the Communitas Family Reunion in Malaga last week my friend Wes led a brilliant series of teaching conversations on Daniel 9. In my view it was a model of narrative-historical pedagogy. The historical context was critically appraised and kept in focus, and precisely for that reason our group of... (30th Jul. 2019 | 1 comment)
A post by the Arminian theologian Roger Olson this week outlining “9.5 Theses about Evangelical Christianity” serves to illustrate a number of the points that I made with my little diagram about theology and history. It’s a quick read. Here’s my take on it.1. I don’t see the problem with... (19th Jul. 2019 | 7 comments)
It’s summer in the northern hemisphere, and there’s not much happening, so I was doodling and came up with a little diagram to show the difference between traditional evangelical thought and the approach that I take on this blog. For many readers it will be familiar, but if you’re new here, it may... (16th Jul. 2019 | 6 comments)
In this rather long post I want to address some questions put to me about the general plausibility of my reading of the parousia texts as prophecies regarding two historical developments—the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the armies of pagan Rome and the overthrow of pagan Rome through... (11th Jul. 2019 | 5 comments)
I had two emails from friends recently, within a few minutes of each other, recommending books to read. The first pointed me to an online edition of Fragments from Reimarus: consisting of brief critical remarks on the object of Jesus and His disciples as seen in the New Testament. The English... (1st Jul. 2019 | 0 comments)
Here’s another response to a comment that has outgrown itself and become an ad hoc summary piece. Peter Wilkinson points to Romans 3-4 as evidence that the gospel for both Jews and Gentiles was that Jesus died for their sins:The argument is addressed to Jews and Gentiles v.9, v.19b. The... (26th Jun. 2019 | 59 comments)
Todd asks a question in respect of an old post on the restoration of the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6-8).Is the restoration of Israel, then, during a future Millennium? If so, how do Gentiles fit into this, and where is the Church during this time? Is the kingdom of Israel different than the Church... (24th Jun. 2019 | 8 comments)
If we think that the New Testament always presupposes the pre-existent, divine identity of Jesus as the eternal Son of God, we have to understand Paul’s statement in Romans 1:4 that Jesus “was declared (horisthentos) to be the Son of God in power” (ESV) to mean that, while Jesus was always the Son... (21st Jun. 2019 | 94 comments)
And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. (Rev. 5:6)Is this a good example of what might be described as latent... (12th Jun. 2019 | 38 comments)
It appears that Catholics in Italy, France and Spain are getting revised translations of the Lord’s Prayer. The problem is the line “Lead us not into temptation”. The Pope complained in 2017 that this is a bad translation, not on exegetical grounds but on theological grounds:It is not a good... (7th Jun. 2019 | 8 comments)
This monograph addresses the question, “How does Revelation interact with the Roman Empire?” As the subtitle suggests, it contributes especially to empire studies, which have typically offered the response that Revelation is anti-Rome or anti-imperial. However, Shane J. Wood argues that, although... (6th Jun. 2019 | 5 comments)
This piece by Andrew Bunt on the Think Theology site caught my eye. He takes issue with the now rather commonplace view that the Bible is basically a story, running from creation to new creation, and asks whether perhaps “the Bible is better understood as poetry.” His brief analysis is based on a... (5th Jun. 2019 | 0 comments)
There is an argument that when the Synoptic Gospels speak of Jesus coming to Israel, we must imagine him making a journey from heaven to earth to fulfil God’s purposes.The demons ask Jesus, “Have you come here to destroy us?” (Mk. 1:24 par. Lk. 4:34; Matt. 8:29). Jesus says that he has come to... (30th May. 2019 | 11 comments)
The last post on (re-)defining the kingdom of God in nine words elicited a couple of fair and well articulated objections to the narrative-historical approach on Facebook. I was invited to respond. The basic complaint, I think, is that the method is reductionist, leaving the church with too little... (23rd May. 2019 | 2 comments)
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