Wednesday, 27 October 2010

too staggering . . . too earthshaking . . . too significant . . . too serious . . .

“No one can remain neutral regarding Jesus’ resurrection. The claim is too staggering, the event too earthshaking, the implications are too significant, and the matter is too serious. We must either receive or reject it as truth for us, and to remain indifferent or undecided is to reject it”

Friday, 22 October 2010

96% of the 1500 known New Testament fragments in Munster

I've just returned from a fascinating study tour with a group of South African PhD researchers. We visited, among other places the awesome city of Munster in Germany. The city is famous for lots of things: A school dating back to the year 797 AD (I think); the Anabaptist Revolt; the separation between church and state etc. But what excited me most was our visit to the world famous University of Munster Institute for New Testament Textual Research. It is on this institute that thousands of theologians and pastors all over the world depend for the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament Bible. We were told that the 28th edition will most probably be available next year. One student doing research there indicated that there will be very minor changes from the 27th edition. The small Greek fragment (top left) is the famous P 52, our oldest surviving piece of the New Testament to date. It comes from the Gospel of John and dates back to around 125 AD.

The Institute holds around 96% of the +-1500 know New Testament fragments in the world (in photographic form). There are three fulltime PhD researchers scanning in these and other collections. One of them is currently scanning in Coptic texts. What an awesome experience we had!

Friday, 15 October 2010

How can I NOT say something about CAPE TOWN 2010?

How can I NOT say something about my beloved South Africa, where the THIRD LAUSANNE CONGRESS ON WORLD EVANGELIZATION is starting on Sunday?
One of my friends here in Cambridge, dr Dirk Jonkind will also present a short paper. May the Lord bless the world throught this significant conference!

According to John Piper's Blog, the Lausanne Covenant is arguably the most significant document from the past 200 years related to the cause of world missions. The Introduction goes like this:

We, members of the Church of Jesus Christ, from more than 150 nations, participants in the International Congress on World Evangelization at Lausanne, praise God for his great salvation and rejoice in the fellowship he has given us with himself and with each other. We are deeply stirred by what God is doing in our day, moved to penitence by our failures and challenged by the unfinished task of evangelization. We believe the Gospel is God's good news for the whole world, and we are determined by his grace to obey Christ's commission to proclaim it to all mankind and to make disciples of every nation. We desire, therefore, to affirm our faith and our resolve, and to make public our covenant.

See the program here:

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Cambridge New Testament and Patristic Seminar - Michaelmas Term 2010


12 October: Text and Authority in John and Apocalyptic - Professor Judith Lieu (Robinson College)
26 October: Theological Anthropology in the Community Hymns of the Hodayot and in Romans - Dr Shane Berg (Princeton Theological Seminary)
9 November: Cerinthus and the Gospel of Mark - Dr Joan Taylor (King's College London)
30 November: A Paradoxical Particularism: F.C. Baur on Jewish Christianity - Dr David Lincicum (Mansfiel College, Oxford)


18 October: 'A Robber's Den? A fresh look at the Second Council of Ephesus, AD 449.' - Mark Smith (Peterhouse)
01 November: 'Augustine of Hippo on Spiritual Paternity' - Maria Kilby (Homerton)
15 November: 'Didymus of Alexandria and the Primal Man' - Grant Baylis (St John's College)
29 November: 'The Resurrection of Christ in Second Century, Early Christianity' - Professor Markus Vinzent (Chair of History of Theology, King's College, London)

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The academic establishment and spiritual coldness

Dr. Peter Williams gave an important chapel message this morning at Tyndale House. He preached on the story in Acts 16 where a slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination followed Paul and other disciples. As we all know, Paul eventually turned to her and said: "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." The evil spirit left her after which Paul and Silas were eventually jailed for helping her....

One of the important issues which Pete raised, is that there should come a time (or times)  when Evangelical Christian academics should have the courage to stand up for what they believe in. Apparently (if I understood him correctly), too often PhD students/ and or academics in general are more concerned about what other scholars (or a promoter) might think of an important doctrine than what they know to be true. This, combined with a one-sided focus on academic research, often result in spiritual coldness.

We should learn from Paul and Silas to stand up for what we believe, whatever the academic establishment might think of it...

Saturday, 9 October 2010

". . . God has raised you up for this very thing . . ."?

"My dear Sir [William Wilberforce] . . . Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils; but if God be for you who can be against you. Are all of them together stronger than God?Oh be not weary of well-doing. Go on in the name of God, and in the power of His might, till even American slavery, the vilest that ever saw the sun, shall vanish away before it. That He who has guided you from your youth up may continue to strenghten you in this and all things, is the prayer of,
     Dear Sir,
                  Your affectionate servant,
                            John Wesley"
(R & S Wilberforce, The Life of William Wilberforce, 1828, vol. 1, p. 297)

What a morning we had at the

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

In het licht van de dood - Filosofisch Cafe, Nijmegen

What meaning is there in death for living human beings? Dare we think about our own death? What can death teach us about our lives? For the Greek philosopher Epicurus it was not a problem: for as long as we are alive, death is not there, and when death occurs, then we are no more.

Gert-Jan van der Heiden, lecturer in metaphysics at Radboud University, Nijmegen disagrees. Man lives not before death but “after death.” After the death of others, for example. There are also people who have seen their own death.

What does it mean to live “after death”? Gert-Jan van der Heiden deals with these issues tonight by looking at both philosophy and literature.

*My own English translation from the Dutch. I hope to go tonight and will comment later.

Over Filosofisch Café Nijmegen

Iedere eerste dinsdag van de maand kan iedereen in het Filosofisch Café Nijmegen terecht voor een stevig staaltje hersengymnastiek. Tijdens deze avonden filosoferen publiek en gastsprekers op een toegankelijke manier over vragen die in de samenleving spelen. Diepgravende interviews en debatten tussen spraakmakende filosofen worden afgewisseld met prikkelende columns, Augustinus’ boekentafel en live muziek.

Friday, 1 October 2010

The New Testament: Mediterranean religious development or unique revelation of Christ?

The 'History of Religions School' or Religionsgeschichtliche Schule that developed in German biblical studies during the 19th century, put forward the theory that the New Testament is the product of different religious and cultural phenomena of its day. Thus, the ideas found in the New Testament were simply ideas found in the ancient environment and consequently applied to Christianity. One famous theologian, who, according to some, became the dogmatician for the Religionsgeschichtliche Schule was Ernst Troeltsch.

A well known New Testament scholar here in the Netherlands has a different position:

"The main influence in the development of Christianity . . . comes from Christ himself. Terminology might be taken from other religions, but filled with new content. Christianity is not a religion which developed out of other religions, but due to the coming of Christ alongside other religions."