Reviews

It’s the period of Advent, when we traditionally reflect on the “coming” of Jesus into the world, so let’s consider the question of why he came when he did. Why was Jesus born in 4 BC or thereabouts, and not two hundred years earlier, or a thousand years later?I’m still making my way through… (11 Dec 2019 | 2 comments)
Still going strong here. In chapter three of Gospel Allegiance: What Faith in Jesus Misses for Salvation in Christ Matthew Bates sets out his version of the gospel narrative as a sequence of ten events, somewhat in the manner of the Apostles’ Creed (86-104). (I had a similar go at writing… (20 Nov 2019 | 0 comments)
The second part of chapter two of Matthew Bates’ important book Gospel Allegiance: What Faith in Jesus Misses for Salvation in Christ considers the means by which the “gospel of allegiance” saves people.He sums up the argument so far: “The gospel in Romans 1:1–5 is about the… (14 Nov 2019 | 1 comment)
Chapter two of Matthew Bates’ Gospel Allegiance: What Faith in Jesus Misses for Salvation in Christ sets out his understanding of the Greek word pistis. In the first part he explains why he thinks that “allegiance” is a better translation of the word than “faith”. In the second… (12 Nov 2019 | 3 comments)
I have spent way too much time finding fault with Matthew Bates’ argument that Paul alludes to the pre-existence of Jesus in Romans 1:3. Now to get on with the substance of Gospel Allegiance: What Faith in Jesus Misses for Salvation in Christ. It might be a bit ambitious to take this one… (8 Nov 2019 | 0 comments)
Well, we’re still not quite done with the purported incarnational christology of Romans 1:3. Matthew Bates makes the claim in a brief section of his excellent book Gospel Allegiance (51-52), and at greater length in a 2015 CBQ article (117-21), that in this verse the aorist… (6 Nov 2019 | 0 comments)
This is a rushed and rather technical addendum to the previous piece on the question of whether there is a reference to the incarnation in Romans 1:3:concerning his Son | who came into being / was / was born | from the seed of David | according to the flesh…peri tou huiou | (2 Nov 2019 | 1 comment)
There is much that is good about Matthew Bates’ Gospel Allegiance: What Faith in Jesus Misses for Salvation in Christ, which is the follow-up to his highly successful Salvation by Allegiance Alone. I plan to review it in some detail over the next few weeks, all being well, and… (1 Nov 2019 | 3 comments)
Hart’s second meditation, on eschatology, in That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, & Universal Salvation, ends with a discussion of the distinction between the present age and the age to come. There is some vacillation here, it seems to me, as he shifts between theological and… (15 Oct 2019 | 0 comments)
I’ve done a couple of posts so far critically reviewing aspects of David Bentley Hart’s magniloquent anti-infernalist treatise That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, & Universal Salvation. My interest has been mainly in his use of the biblical material; I am not convinced that the (7 Oct 2019 | 0 comments)
David Bentley Hart thinks that we find in the New Testament “seemingly contrary eschatological expectations.” The discussion is found in the second meditation, on judgment, in his book That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, & Universal Salvation. He has listed a number of texts which… (28 Sep 2019 | 3 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… (10 Sep 2019 | 4 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… (30 May 2019 | 11 comments)
It is sometimes argued that when Jesus laments over Jerusalem, saying, “How often I wanted to gather your children…” (Matt. 23:37), we should understand this as an assertion of his involvement “in the entire duration of Israel’s history.”1 In Simon Gathercole’s words, Jesus is portrayed in Matthew… (15 May 2019 | 3 comments)
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… (8 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… (1 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(10 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… (7 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… (5 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… (10 Jan 2019 | 6 comments)