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

Review articles

This gives you a way to find posts that are either reviews of books or discuss a book in some detail. The dropdown has a list of books to choose from.
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 | 4 comments)
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 | 40 comments)
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)
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)
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)
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)
I pointed out last week that in the standard “redemption in history” construal of the biblical narrative—as represented, for example, by Chris Wright’s The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission—all the history is found before Jesus. Nothing of significance... (16th Aug. 2018 | 0 comments)
Chris Wright’s The Mission of God’s People is methodologically one of the best books on a biblical theology of mission that I have come across. I will be recommending it in the workshops that Wes and I will be doing at the Communitas staff conference later this week. Wright argues that mission... (7th Aug. 2018 | 5 comments)
In chapter four of his book Salvation By Allegiance Alone Matthew Bates sets out to defend his core thesis that the pistis (“faith”) with which we respond to the gospel is better understood in terms of concrete allegiance than as mere mental assent.He argues that the gospel consists in an eight-... (4th May. 2017 | 2 comments)
From pre-existence and incarnation Bates works swiftly through “died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures”, “was buried”, “was raised on the third day”, and “appeared to many”, to the climax of the chapter and the best bit of the book so far: “is seated at the right hand of God as Lord,... (27th Apr. 2017 | 2 comments)
I am in solid agreement with Matthew Bates that the central narrative of the New Testament—the narrative which makes sense of the “gospel”—has to do with the enthronement of Jesus as king by his resurrection from the dead and his ascension to the right hand of the Father.Two areas of disagreement... (24th Apr. 2017 | 1 comment)
After an exciting afternoon with friends at Antalya Zoo—a pair of lions shamelessly and noisily copulating in the long grass, a family of grizzly bears brawling over some obscure breach of protocol—it’s back to part two of my review of Matthew Bates’ Salvation by Allegiance Alone: Rethinking Faith... (22nd Apr. 2017 | 6 comments)
Matthew Bates’ book Salvation By Allegiance Alone is further evidence that evangelicalism is wrestling honestly and constructively with the biblical, theological and practical deficiencies of the traditional understanding of gospel, faith and salvation.I haven’t got very far into it, but I’m going... (20th Apr. 2017 | 2 comments)
I have to be a bit careful in critiquing John Walton’s thesis in his book The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, because, as has been pointed out to me, it’s only a summary of his much more substantial argument in his Genesis 1 As Ancient Cosmology. I’m not sure... (14th Jan. 2017 | 22 comments)
If we are going to read the New Testament as historical narrative, we have to have some sense of historical context. The church, on the whole, is not interested in historical context. The Bible is mostly treated as a self-contained, self-sufficient sacred text. In a recent comment Travis Finley... (12th Jan. 2017 | 7 comments)
I have finally got round to reading John Walton’s The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, and I have to say, I don’t see it.Walton’s central contention is that what we have in Genesis 1 is an account not of the creation of the material cosmos but of the inauguration... (3rd Jan. 2017 | 31 comments)
Something that struck me reading Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible and the Church was the general agreement that Paul’s views about marriage change between 1 Corinthians 7 and Ephesians 5.In the earlier passage he expresses a strong preference for celibacy but at the same time gives a “... (12th Dec. 2016 | 0 comments)
There’s an interesting exchange between the contributors to Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible and the Church (ed. Preston Sprinkle) over how close the modern ideal of Christian marriage conforms to the biblical pattern of marriage. The underlying question is whether we have a closed and fixed... (9th Dec. 2016 | 6 comments)
I mentioned before the distinction that Scot McKnight makes in his Kingdom Conspiracy book between a “pleated pants” view of kingdom as the redemptive activity of God and a “skinny jeans” view of the kingdom as social activism in which the church may be more of a hindrance than a help.You probably... (26th Oct. 2016 | 0 comments)
In Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church Scot McKnight takes aim at two broad misconceptions of what the kingdom of God is: the “skinny jeans” reduction of kingdom to social activism, and the more conventionally religious “pleated pants” approach, which regards... (24th Oct. 2016 | 9 comments)