Recent posts

The Bible tells the story of the building and rebuilding of the people of God. I think that the church today is having to rebuild again, and I have been looking for a simple image or metaphor that captures the process and the basic components. This tower of five wooden blocks is about as simple as… ( | 0 comments)
In his new book The New Anabaptists: Practices for Emerging Communities (2024), Stuart Murray says that the Anabaptist vision is “profoundly and resolutely Christocentric” to a degree not found in other traditions. Evangelicals, for example, make much of the birth and death of Jesus but… ( | 8 comments)
Jesus says in John 8:58: “Before Abraham was, I am.” Raymond Brown says that ‘No clearer implication of divinity is found in the Gospel tradition.’1 This has been much debated, and I’m not here especially interested in the immediate christological meaning. It’s the background to the statement… ( | 0 comments)
In their “manifesto for theological interpretation,” Craig Bartholomew and Heath Thomas assert the priority of theological interpretation over historical-critical interpretation.1 History must be understood theologically as the arena in which the painful and hopeful redemptive narrative of the… ( | 0 comments)
In the previous post on the parable of the good Samaritan, I noted that “robbers” (lēistai) is likely to have had political overtones and suggested that, particularly given the remarkable parallel with 2 Chronicles 28:8-15, the parable could be read as an indictment of the miserable state… ( | 0 comments)
I came across this intriguing perspective on Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan in an article by Amy-Jill Levine in the Biblical Archaeology Review (2012). She dismisses a number of what she regards as misinterpretations of the parable of the Good Samaritan and comes to this conclusion:… ( | 0 comments)
I wrote most of this on a flight back from Doha on Christmas Eve. My wife has been at COP 28 in Dubai and at hydrogen conferences in Oman and Qatar—so plenty of opportunities to reflect on climate change from a very different angle. We also got to church a few times, where no one was talking about… ( | 0 comments)
I won’t have time to write anything else this week, so here I’ve written up what started as a response to some further comments made by Edward Babinski regarding Paul’s supposed belief in an imminent “final cosmic judgment.” Babinski argues that the belief was prevalent in second temple… ( | 0 comments)
The latest issue of The Bulletin for Biblical Research (33.3, 2023) has my article on the subjection of the creature or created material to the futility of idolatry. It’s an argument that I made here in outline a few years ago. You need a subscription or institutional access to view it,… ( | 0 comments)
In his 2016 NIGTC commentary on Romans, Richard Longenecker provides a summary of what he regards as the key themes that Paul “considered distinctive to his own proclamation of the Christian gospel” (1045-46). They strike me, for the most part, as being expressive of a Reformed outlook. I have… ( | 4 comments)
The way I see it, Paul’s letter to the Romans is like a stage with three vast backdrop cloths hanging one in front of the other. The largest cloth depicts the creational presuppositions of the letter: God is the creator of all things and cannot be worshipped in the form of created objects;… ( | 1 comment)
Romans 14 is usually read as a new section dealing with disagreements within the community over such matters as diet and observance of holy days. There is, however, an immediate and decisive eschatological aspect to the discussion: Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is… ( | 0 comments)
Following the exuberant exclamation and doxology of Romans 11:33-36, Paul gets to the practical consequences of his gospel for the saints in Rome. This is where he outlines the nature of the “obedience” required of those from among the nations who have been called to identify with Christ Jesus (1:5… ( | 0 comments)
What is going on here? Is this a tolerable way for Christians to behave? Should we all be doing it? And before you ask, no, it has nothing to do with helping them to keep the fire going. The larger concern in this section of Romans is how the believers will react to persecution. At least, we have… ( | 0 comments)
Paul’s letter to the Romans is held together by a prophetic narrative. God has made Jesus Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead, and he will one day rule the nations. This means that there will be “wrath” against the idolatrous civilisation of the Greeks, but since God’s own people… ( | 0 comments)
The argument about the status of the Law of Moses in this critical period of eschatological crisis continues. Paul speaks to “those who know the Law,” but now he seems to be addressing Jewish believers, who “have died to the Law through the body of Christ” (7:4). The deadly self-… ( | 4 comments)
I recently did a long and enjoyable interview with Sean Finnegan, talking about my book In the Form of a God: The Pre-existence of the Exalted Christ in Paul. Sean is lead pastor of Living Hope Community Church near Albany, New York, and teaches at Atlanta Bible College. He knows his … ( | 2 comments)
Romans 5:1-6:23 Let’s remind ourselves, first, that in these chapters Paul has been recapitulating a dialogue with the Jews of the diaspora, for the most part about the Jews of the diaspora. They have failed to provide a benchmark of piety and right behaviour among the… ( | 3 comments)
One obvious retort to the argument that Paul allows for the existence of unbelieving righteous Gentiles who will be justified on the basis of their good deeds on the day of God’s wrath is that he goes on to state emphatically, quoting the scriptures, that “None is righteous, no, not one” (… ( | 1 comment)
I have finally got round to reading John Barclay’s highly esteemed Paul and the Gift, and he almost persuaded me to change my mind about the identity of the Gentiles who do not have the Law but do what the law requires (Rom. 2:14). I have been going backwards and forwards over the… ( | 0 comments)