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

16 Apr 2019

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-...

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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 aware of the “national-political” dimension to...

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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 and Second Temple Judaism” and a radical discontinuity caused by the announcement of the fulfilment of these promises in the birth of Jesus.

He then notes a “puzzling...

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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 effectively, but it immediately raises a number of questions, which I will mention briefly:

Among the several paradigm-shifting changes in NT...

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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 speaking about the redeemed in heaven perhaps. But only if we ignore the context. The first century Jesus, who knew the scriptures and who spoke the language of Jewish apocalypticism,...

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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 because they were distracted by the jokes. I said that I was more concerned that people might miss the jokes because they were...

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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 agenda for a renewed biblical (rather than cultural or political)...

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