Monday, 29 November 2010

Controversial new hypothesis about Christ's Resurrection in the Early Church - prof Markus Vinzent

Today I attended the Patristics Seminar in Cambridge, UK. Markus Vinzent, professor and chair of History of Theology from Kings College London, gave a paper entitled: "The Resurrection of Christ in Second Century, Early Christianity".

It's certainly an understatement to say that the paper was controversial. Reflecting back, I cannot even imagine that professor Vinzent will have tea with professor NT Wright soon. Well, who knows? They just might...

Vinzent's paper was to a large extent a condensed summery of a commissioned new monograph which he has already submitted for publication (due sometime next year). The full title is: "Christ's Resurrection in Early Christianity, and the making of the New Testament." He claims that it is the first monograph on the resurrection of Jesus by a Patristics scholar.

Vincent started off by saying that he, as a church historian, is not interested in the resurrection of Jesus as an historical event. Neither in the kind of resurrection body Jesus allegedly had. Rather, his focus is on WHEN, for WHO, WHERE, and WHY Jesus was regarded as the risen Christ. And also HOW this belief impacted on Christianity. In order to address all these questions, Vinzent analysed "all" of the available evidence of the first two centuries.

I list some of the interesting and challenging statements he made. (See it as a little taster of what will be developed more fully in the monograph to come):
• Although Christ's resurrection was important to Paul, it was not important after his death. It took some 100 years for Irenaeus and Tertullian to take it up again. Our view of the second century (as it relates to the resurrection) is distorted by the apologetic literature. They i) knew each other; ii) each wanted to be the best; iii) they borrowed from each other; iv) they developed their positions building on each other.

• Had Marcion not taken up Paul's letters and one gospel, the resurrection of Christ would never have been taken up by the Christian Church.

• "Even if the Lord himself wrote the gospels, Marcion was the first to use them."

• Mark, Matthew and John (MMJ) might have been composed in the same city and in reaction to Marcion's Lukan gospel. The resurrection narratives in MMJ in particular might have been an orthodox reaction (thus creation) against Marcion's rejection of bodily resurrection.

• The first commentary on John is by a Valentinian. It is only later that Origen was commissioned to write a more orthodox commentary. Thus, it is likely that the gospel of John has a Valentinian origin.

• Maybe Marcion received a pre-version of Luke and others changed it

• Prior to Marcion there is not a single reference to the gospels. Before Irenaeus, no one (including Ignatius) claimed that Marcion changed the gospel.

• With Marcion comes the first discussion about the resurrection. Luke 24:36-42 in particular is significant. Here the idea of a phantom is not altogether impossible. Ignatius, Irenaeus, Tertullian and Justin try to take on Marcion on this point.

• The women as first witnesses of Jesus' empty tomb is not significant and unique, as the testimony of women was taken seriously in other contexts. The prophetess traditions within Judaism and the other roles they sometimes played in the New Testament confirms this.

• The earliest baptismal creeds/formulae referred to the incarnation and death of Jesus but not his resurrection

• The apostolic creed's reference to the resurrection is late

• In the Didache, the reference to worship on a Sunday (the first day of week) is linked to Jesus' death, and not his resurrection. It was only Justin who later used it in First Apology

• Easter is first used by Melito to argue against Marcion's interpretation of the resurrection

• Up until 177 (Irenaeus) only Paul is used in defence of the resurrection. The gospels are not used in defence of the resurrection. This "embarrassed" even Kurt Aland, Vinzent claims.

• The Bar Kogba revolt in 136 CE is highly significant. "Only slowly does the resurrection make its way into the Christian narrative."

• The first theologian of the resurrection is Apollinarius of Laodicea in Constantine's time.

In short, if I understood Vinzent correctly, he wants to argue that belief in the resurrection of Jesus was of no significance after Paul died, until the likes of Irenaeus and Tertullian challenged Marcion's interpretation of the resurrection. Marcion is key to understanding the early church. The so-called orthodox faith in the resurrection of Jesus was a later heretical reaction against Marcion - particularly the empty tomb narratives in Matthew, Mark and John. Apparently, the incarnation and death of Jesus was significant in the early phases of the Church, but not the resurrection of Jesus.

There was unfortunately not enough time afterwards to discuss all these claims. We will have to wait until the monograph is published to analyse the way in which Vinzent's arguments are build up and developed. Some issues were raised however during Q & A. I mention some:

  • Virtually all critical scholars acknowledge that 1 Cor. 15.3-5b represent a tradition going back to the first few years after the resurrection (including Gerd Luedemann). Reference is made to Jesus being 'buried'..
  • The resurrection of Christ is significant in 1 Clement 24-34, most probably relying on 1 Cor. 15, and probably also the parable of the sower in the Sinoptic gospels
  • There is reference to the resurrection in Ignatius (+-110 CE).
  • Polycarp and other martyrs died for their faith in the risen Jesus.
  • Had the gospel writers wanted to create the perfect resurrection narrative, they would certainly not have picked the women as the first witnesses.

Vinzent did critique the above, though most who attended were probably not convinced by all his explanations. But let's wait for the monograph so that we can follow his arguments carefully.
* I should state that what I reported here, is a few reflections and interpretations of the lecture and does not necessarily represent a thorough enough and systematic analysis of the paper. Keep this in mind please!

* I just saw a new book on Michael Bird's blog that might offer an alternative to Vinzent's main hypothesis:

* Given the discussion above, it might also be worthwhile for those interested and challenged, to have a look at NT Wright's The Resurrection of the Son of God (2003); Larry Hurtado's Lord Jesus Christ, Devotion to Jesusin Earliest Christianity (2003); and more recently Michael Licona's The Resurrection of Jesus, A New Historiographical Approach (2010).

Sunday, 28 November 2010

The resurrection of Jesus - 31 January, 2011 - Theological Day, Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch, South Africa

There's no argument about it: the Faculty of Theology at Stellenbosch University has the most beautiful building of all theology departments in South Africa. It is also the oldest department, going back to the 1860's. A friend brought it to my attention that their Theological Day in January 2011 will deal with the resurrection of Jesus. One of the papers, 'Die opstanding van Christus: 'n teologiese orientering' (The resurrection of Jesus: a theological orientation), will be delivered by professor Dirkie Smit, for whom I have great admiration. He did his DD under the well-known and late professor Willie Jonker, and later became his son-in-law!
Here is the program:



Die program vir die Teologiese Dag op 31 Januarie 2011 is soos volg:

09:00 Opening – prof Nico Koopman

09:10 Skrifmeditasie oor Lukas 24 – prof Elna Mouton

09:30 Die opstanding van Christus: ’n teologiese oriëntering – prof Dirkie Smit

10:15 Bespreking

10:45 Tee

11:15 Die opstanding, kuns en liturgie – ds Danie du Toit, NG Gemeente Waterkloof

11:45 Die opstanding en die publieke lewe – dr Clint le Bruyns

12:15 Bespreking

12:45 Afsluiting

Kontak dr Robert Vosloo by 021 808 3256 vir enige navrae. Almal is baie welkom!

Monday, 22 November 2010


Well, the ETS debate on Justification was so significant that its worth discussing. There are however not much known about how the debate went at this stage. Will be great to get some feedback! I did however manage to find some thoughts about what happened on thegospelcoalition blog:

A Justification Debate Long Overdue

"A record crowd of more than 2,500 turned out in Atlanta this week for the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, focused on “Justification By Faith.” The conference’s main event—three papers and debate over justification between New Testament scholars Frank Thielman, Tom Schreiner, and N. T. Wright—might be about three years too late to slow the spread of controversy over justification that has gripped evangelicals. Unfortunately, a planned face-to-face discussion between John Piper and Wright fell through when Piper took an extended sabbatical. But the novelty of pairing Wright on a panel with Schreiner, another key critic, still riveted an audience that enjoyed more than two hours of sustained debate over New Testament texts, Greek terminology, and ancient Near Eastern and Roman society.

Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison professor of New Testament interpretation at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, opened the long-anticipated exchange by delivering a paper on Wednesday night called “Justification: The Saving Righteousness of God in Christ.” He engaged in a direct and sustained critique of Wright, even as he labored to show common ground with the man he described as a groundbreaking thinker. He acknowledged that Wright is fundamentally correct that first-century Jews incurred the judgment of exile in the form of Roman oppression due to their sin. When Wright responded to Schreiner on Friday morning, he expressed surprise over their agreement on this point.
Schreiner also agreed with Wright that evangelicals who hold to sola scriptura recognize no other authority, including tradition, as final. But Schreiner identified three false polarities that he said Wright perpetuates:

1.Wright argues that justification is primarily about ecclesiology instead of soteriology.
2.Wright says Israel’s fundamental problem was failing to bless the world. But Paul focuses on Israel’s inherent sinfulness.
3.Wright contends that justification is a declaration of God’s righteousness but does not include the imputation of God’s righteousness.

Supporting his first charge, Schreiner said justification is not identical to salvation, redemption, or sanctification. But the word appears in such contexts focusing on how we are saved, such as Romans 3:24 and Romans 4:6-8. Regarding his second point, Schreiner appealed to Romans 2 to show that the Jews’ sin was not primarily excluding Gentiles but rather failing to obey God and his law. Finally, Schreiner said it is strange that Wright maligns imputation when he admits God requires perfect obedience. Indeed, Paul would appear to teach imputation in such verses as 1 Corinthians 1:30 and 2 Corinthians 5:21. It is true, Schreiner agreed with Wright, that no human judge can give a guilty defendant his righteousness. But the law-court metaphor in Scripture should not be considered exhaustive. Indeed, its limitations at precisely this point should lead us to wonder in the gospel of God, who gave up his only Son for guilty sinners.

The second plenary address—delivered by Frank Thielman, Presbyterian professor of divinity at Beeson Divnity School—focused on Romans 1:16-17. Thielman offered a mediating position that suggested several intended meanings from Paul for the contested and consequential phrase “righteousness of God.” Original hearers, Thielman said, would have understand this phrase to refer to the saving activity and gift of acquittal from God on the basis of faith. They also would have understood that God is fair, even-handed, and equitable in the way he distributes salvation.

One Important Phrase, Several Intended Meanings

Thielman cited the first commentary on Romans, written by Origen, who spoke and wrote the same Greek language as Paul. Origen understood the apostle to teach that the “righteousness of God” means all, whether Jew or Gentile, may find salvation in the gospel. Thielman illustrated his point by citing several coins used in the Roman Empire. Nero, emperor during the end of Paul’s ministry, appeared on one coin with the word dikaiosune, which we translate in Scripture as “righteousness.” It would seem, Thielman said, that Nero seeks to portray himself not so much as just but equitable in how he distributes grain harvested in Egypt.

Is it really likely, though, that Paul would use one phrase and intend several meanings? Thielman said this practice was common in ancient writing. So Paul did in fact reveal in this famous passage that God counts believers acquitted, as Martin Luther realized. But the inspired apostle also taught that God is fair, and he powerfully rescues his people.

The Main Event

Probably the main attraction, though, was the Friday morning address by N. T. Wright, research professor of New Testament at St. Andrews University and the former bishop of Durham. For years now Wright has faced sustained criticism in the form of books, journal articles, and lectures from a number of the most prominent scholars in ETS. He jumped into the lion’s den in Atlanta with his paper, “Justification Yesterday, Today, and Forever.” From the beginning, Wright displayed his characteristic blend of humor, charm, and wide-ranging intellect with an unrelentingly rapid speaking pace. He has indeed read his critics, but he hardly backed down at ETS. In fact, he seemed more than a little perturbed by the wide range of arguments leveled against his writing on justification. He called for a new ethic of Christian blogging and faulted believers for pulling his statements out of context and reaching false conclusions about his work.

In his preliminary remarks, Wright dealt directly with several of the most controversial charges leveled against him and by his defenders. He reasserted his Protestant credentials and said we need to allow Scripture to say things our human traditions have not said. And he denied that any single person holding to the New Perspective on Paul has joined the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, he said critics who charge him with biblicism have no sense of irony and history; they are the real neo-Catholics. Wright made the case that the Reformers and his modern-day critics ask contemporary questions of Pauline texts, not the ones Paul actually addressed for the benefit of Jews and Gentiles gathered together in one church. Thus, Wright’s critics are the real modern-day demythologizers who abstract bits and pieces of Paul’s thought by tearing them from the original context.

One Big Story

True to form, Wright kept the big story in view as he analyzed specific passages. God’s plan to bless the world through humans was thwarted by the fall. Then he planned to rescue humankind through Abraham and his descendants. But they, too, failed. So God sent his Son, the Messiah of Israel, to announce that God’s kingdom had come with his life, death, and resurrection. Adam’s sin is the problem, Wright said, and God’s covenant with Abraham is the solution.

Known for weaving compelling biblical narratives, Wright rejected any claims that he distorts the meaning of passages by reshaping them to fit his big story. He willingly treated many of the most important verse from Romans, Ephesians, Galatians, and elsewhere. He complained that he continues to vainly search for serious treatments from his critics of Romans 4 as Paul’s exposition of the Abrahamic covenant. “Only by close attention to Scriptural context can Scriptural doctrine be Scripturally understood,” Wright said. Each element must be treated in light of the whole. But we derive our view of the whole by carefully interpreting each element.

Wright made numerous references to his critics and their works. But he referred to few by name. He disputed Simon Gathercole on Romans 4:4-8, which he said borrows the idea of reward from God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 15:1. He faulted the two-volume set Justification and Variegated Nomism—edited by D. A. Carson, Mark Seifrid, and Peter O’Brien—for not considering a crucial passage from the intertestamental Qumran literature that he says sheds light on Paul’s teaching.

During his paper, Wright did not, however, mention John Piper, originally scheduled to engage with him at ETS. But Wright clearly had him in mind. Piper has criticized Wright for undermining Christian assurance with his view on justification. In particular, Piper cites Wright teaching that final judgment will be on the basis of works. Indeed, Wright wrote in Paul: In Fresh Perspective:

The whole point about “justification by faith” is that it is something which happens in the present time (Romans 3:26) as a proper anticipation of the eventual judgment which will be announced, on the basis of the whole life led, in the future (Romans 2:1-16).

But Wright contends he does not mean what Piper and others believe he does. If doubts linger, however, Wright said that he believes final judgment will be in accordance with works—something Piper and Schreiner acknowledge from Romans 2:6—and not on the basis of works. Justification involves spiritual struggle, Wright said, and Christians should beware of antinomianism that neglects this teaching.

Wright appeared especially troubled by the charge that he wouldn’t know what to say to someone dying who asked, “What must I do to be saved?” Wright said, “The gospel is the royal announcement that the crucified and risen Jesus is Israel’s Messiah and Lord of the world. That’s good news.” He would encourage someone dying to find eternal life by confessing the name of Jesus, the crucified and risen One, in whom we find healing, forgiveness, reconciliation, peace, and hope.

Irreconcilable Differences

During more than two hours of discussion that followed these papers, a number of differences remained irreconcilable. Schreiner said justification has ecclesiological implications, but contrary to Wright, he believes it is chiefly about the forgiveness of sins. Wright remains uncomfortable with describing righteousness as a gift, as if it can get passed around. Schreiner cautions against pushing the law-court metaphor hard, but Wright says Paul does just that in Romans 3. And Wright continues to believe that Schreiner and others fail to understand the significance of Paul’s argument in Romans 9-11 that God’s plan to save the world through Israel has not failed.

It’s too early to tell whether this week’s ETS meeting will fundamentally change the debate over justification. Wright ceded little if any ground to his critics. But he offered clarification for at least one of their chief concerns. He continued to disparage the Reformers, particularly Luther, for asking the wrong questions and missing Paul’s point. But Schreiner agreed with Wright that Protestants should privilege no tradition above God’s Word. Schreiner expressed sincere appreciation for Wright’s work. And Wright gave evidence simply by showing up in Atlanta that he takes his critics seriously. For that he and ETS and should be commended. This face-to-face debate was long overdue."

I hope to place Simon Gathercole's response (review) of Wright's latest work on Justification next week.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

62nd Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society

        "This year’s meeting provides us with the opportunity to give renewed consideration to the meaning and significance of the doctrine of Justification by Faith. Thirty years have now elapsed since “The New Perspective on Paul” emerged and challenged the Lutheran and Reformed understandings of justification and a host of related doctrines. Some have argued that the newer views have compromised the integrity of the gospel. Advocates of the New Perspective, however, claim that their views more accurately reflect the teaching of the Bible and, specifically, Paul’s teaching on justification. The rich variety of papers devoted to this year’s theme will no doubt help us all to better understand the issues and help us think through the richness of this important doctrine.

Our three plenary speakers—Thomas Schreiner, Frank Thielman, and N. T. Wright-have all written extensively on this theme in monographs, commentaries, and journal articles. To help bring the most important issues into sharper focus, a two-hour panel discussion featuring the three plenary speakers has been planned for the final plenary session on Friday. In addition to this, you can choose from over 100 different parallel session papers devoted to the theme. These include a broad assortment of papers on justification that include the antecedents for the doctrine in the Old Testament and Judaism as well as the interpretation of key New Testament texts. Of special help are a variety of papers related to the understanding and articulation of the doctrine in every era of the history of the church."

By the way, the "Justification" certificate was my own idea and not related to the ETS. 

McAfee Symposium on the Johannine Epistles
The 2010 Peter Rhea and Ellen Jones Lectures in New Testament
James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology - Mercer University

Wednesday Evening, November 17

6:30 Dinner
7:30 Lecture by D. Moody Smith - “Who is Jesus? Jesus is God”

Thursday, November 18

Morning Program- The Relationship between the Gospel and the Epistles
9:00 Lecture by Urban C. von Wahlde - “The Brown Hypothesis Twenty-Eight Years On: Some Agreements and Disagreements”
10:00 Coffee
10:30 Short papers: The Brown Hypothesis in 2010
Paul N. Anderson - “The Community that Raymond Brown Left Behind - Reflections on the Johannine Dialectical Situation”
Gary M. Burge - “Spirit-Inspired Theology and Ecclesial Correction: Charting One Shift in the Development of Johannine Ecclesiology and Pneumatology”
R. Alan Culpepper - “The Relationship between the Gospel and the Epistles of John”
11:45 Discussion: The Brown Hypothesis in 2010
Peter Rhea Jones, moderator
12:30 Lunch

Afternoon Program - The Church in the Johannine Epistles
1:30 Lecture by Judith Lieu - “The Audience of the Johannine Epistles”
2:30 Short papers:
Peter Rhea Jones - “The Ecclesial Role of presbuteros
Craig R. Koester - “The Antichrist Theme in the Johannine Epistles and Its Role in Christian Tradition”
Gail R. O’Day - “The Failure of Friendship? The Practice of Love in the Johannine Epistles”
3:45 Discussion
Paul Anderson, moderator
4:30 Break

Evening Program
6:30 Dinner
7:30 Lecture by Jan van der Watt - “A New Command, a New Ethic”

Friday, November 19

Morning Program - The Theology and Ethics of the Epistles
9:00 Lecture by D. Moody Smith - “Who is Jesus? Jesus was Man”
10:00 Coffee
10:30 Short papers:
Andreas J. Köstenberger, “The Cosmic Conflict Motif in the Johannine Epistles”
David Rensberger, “Completed Love: A Test Probe of I John 4:11-18 as an Index to Vision and Mission of the New Testament Church”
William R. G. Loader, “The Significance of 2:15-17 for Understanding the Ethics of I John”
11:45 Discussion
Alan Culpepper, moderator
12:30 Adjourn

For registration and information, please call: 888.471.9922 or 678-547-6470 or email Diane Frazier at

NS - the pictures to the right are from top to bottom: Judith Lieu, R. Alan Culpepper, Craig R. Koester, Jan van der Watt, Andreas J. Köstenberger.

Monday, 15 November 2010

New Journal Dedicated to Pauline Studies

Fresh news from Michael Bird's blog:

Dear biblioblogosphere, I'm proud to announce the launch of a new journal dedicated to Pauline studies published by Eisenbrauns. It is called Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters. On the homepage you can find info on subscriptions and submissions. It's edited by myself with Nijay Gupta (see his blog) as the associate editor and we have an international editorial board. The sample issue is available on-line and the inaugural article is by Dr. Susan Grove Eastman (Duke Divinity School) on "Philippians 2:6-11: Incarnation as Mimetic Participation" - quite a treat to read! The next issue of JSPL will include Paul Foster "Eschatology in the Thessalonian Correspondence", Michael Gorman "Justification and Justice", Richard Bell "Paul's Theology of Mind", and a review of Douglas A. Campbell's Deliverance of God by Michael Gorman and Chris Tilling.

See the link for more:

As a side note - and related to Pauline studies, but in this case concerning the (also relatively new) journal from Mohr Siebeck Early Christianity, Simon Gathercole gives a significantly critical review of NT Wright's recent book on Justification. Worth looking into I think...

Friday, 12 November 2010

TWENTIETH CENTURY RESURGENCE AND FRAGMENTATION: The Age of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, John Stott and Jim Packer - Dr. Andrew Atherstone from Oxford

Date: 13 November

Venue: Cambridge School of Visual and Performing Arts (CATS), Round Church St, Cambridge

"Andrew Atherstone brings alive Church history in a way which stirs the imagination, warms the heart and nourishes the mind. One of the foremost Church historians of the day with an encyclopedic knowledge that teaches doctrine through history, Andrew is the most engaging seminary lecturer I've heard and always shows how doctrine plays out in the life of the Church and the believer. Those who attend his lectures will be greatly blessed and equipped to see the relevance of lessons from the past in the life of the Church today. Highly recommended!" Rupert Evans, Former student

"Andrew is known throughout Wycliffe and beyond as an unmissable and highly engaging speaker, who preaches both from the heart and to the heart." Tim Coomar, Wycliffe student.

Price: £10/morning - payable through website by card, or on day by cheque or cash
Time: 9.00am - 12.30pm

CSST provides Christian believers with the rare privilege of interaction with world-renowned theologians in an intimate setting for a whole week. Not to be missed!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

PAUL AND THE REST - from Pharisee to prophet of Jesus

Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte is professor of New Testament at the Free University of Amsterdam. He has just published an important book on Paul. It is in Dutch, so for our English readers I make an English translation of the publication details:

Short description:
The Apostle Paul  remains a mystery
Title: PAUL AND THE REST - from Pharisee to prophet of Jesus.
in many ways. Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte presents him as a Hellenistic Jew who remained faithful to his Jewish principles, while proclaiming Jesus Christ as the center of God's dealings with man.Paul saw the Christ-movement as the faithful remnant of Israel, where non-Jews could form part of. It brought him often into conflict with his environment. And yet he proclaimed his dream: in Christ there is no difference between Jew and Greek, free and slave, husband and wife! Paul and the rest is not only a historical study, but also looks at the role Paul played in a number of modern philosophers.

* New, authoritative book on the 'enigmatic apostle'
* Paul through the eyes of 21st century philosophers and historians
* In conversation with among others Alain BadiouOrder the Dutch book here: 

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Durham New Testament Seminar – Michaelmas 2010

My dearly beloved Durham University's New Testament Seminar has once again a world-class line up:

11 October, Prof John Barclay: “Galatians and the Gift” (1)

18 October, Prof John Barclay: “Galatians and the Gift” (2)

25 October, Dr Shane Berg: “Knowing and Obeying the Law in Ben Sira”

1 November , Dr Max Lee (North Park Theological Seminary): “Ancient Ethical Theory and Paul: What Plutarch, Alcinous, and Galen Have to Say about the Apostle’s Moral Landscape”

8 November, Dr James Carleton-Paget (Cambridge): “Schweitzer and Harnack: the history of an unlikely alliance”

15 November, Dr Lionel North: “Introduction to the Diatessaron”

22 November, NO SEMINAR

29 November, Dr Lutz Doering: “Paul and Ancient Jewish Letter Writing”

6 December , Prof. Keith Elliott (Leeds): “Recent Developments in New Testament Textual Criticism”

13 December, Prof Judith Lieu (Cambridge): “Heresy and Scripture”

My friend dr Ben Blackwell will probably give brief summaries of these at

Monday, 8 November 2010

The naming of Protestant England - Professor Peter Marshall at Robinson College, Cambridge

The 2010 A G Dickens Memorial Lecture

‘The naming of Protestant England’

will be given by Professor Peter Marshall, Department of History, University of Warwick

On Thursday the 25th November at 5.30pm in

The Umney Theatre, Robinson College

Followed by a Reception

(Parking in Herschel Road and Adams Road, off Grange Road)

All Welcome

Thursday, 4 November 2010

New Perspective on Paul discussion 30 000 feet in the air

I had a fascinating conversation with a Hungarian Orthodox Jew, (who lives in London) on my return flight from Weeze into Stansted. This was the very first one-on-one conversation I had with a practising Jew after being exposed to the New Perspective on Paul. The latter I encountered first-hand in Durham under the likes of James Dunn, NT Wright, John Barclay, Francis Watson (and Simon Gathercole in Cambridge).

Q&A with my Jewish friend:
Question: Is observance of the Law, within your Jewish community a precondition to be part of God's covenant community, or is it an identity marker?
Answer: Law observance is a precondition to be part of God's covenant community.
Question: So are you saved through Law observance or through Grace?
Answer: Through observance of the Law, although God can have mercy also. Mercy however is not the same as grace.
Question: So how was Abraham saved? By faith or through obedience to the Law?
Answer: Abraham did not have the Law of Moses. He obeyed and believed before the Law was given, but now that the Law has come, membership of God's covenant community is reserved for those who observe it. 
Very very interesting stuff!

For myself, the three books below provided me with lots to think about:

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Paul the Radical Apostel. His life and thoughts that changed the world - Michael Wolter: NIJMEGEN PRESTIGE LECTURES IN BIBLICAL STUDIES 2010

The NIJMEGEN PRESTIGE LECTURES IN BIBLICAL STUDIES is an annual prestigious lecture series presented by the Faculty of Religious Studies and Theology of the Radboud University Nijmegen in co-operation with Brill. A leading international scholar in Biblical Studies is invited annually to read a series of lectures in his particular field of speciality. The aim of this lecture series is to create the opportunity for our academically interested community to be exposed to cutting edge research in the field of Biblical Studies.

This year the well-known Prof. dr. Michael Wolter of the University of Bonn in Germany will deliver these prestige lectures. He will read a special paper for the general public and theological students on Paul the Radical Apostel. His life and thoughts that changed the world. In this lecture he will discuss the unique influence and impact of Paul as he journeyed through the ancient world. For understanding the nature of Christianity as religion this lecture is indispensable.

You are invited to attend this prestige lecture that will take place on Thursday 2 December, 14:00-15:30, at Gymnasium Room 3 (GN3), Heyendaalseweg 141, Nijmegen. Contact dr. Ignace de Haes (024-3611448) to book your free place.

Prof Michael Wolter is Professor of New Testament at the University of Bonn, Germany, as well as honorary professor/researcher at several other international universities (for instance, the Universities of Pretoria and North-West in South Africa). He wrote extensively in several fields in the New Testament in which he is indeed regarded as a world leader. His many books include a standard commentary on the Gospel of Luke, another on Paul’s letter to the Colossians and he is currently busy with the EKK– commentary on Romans – the most important ecumenical commentary series. He also recently completed a theology of Paul as well as a book on ethics.

Monday, 1 November 2010

University of St Andrews, Biblical Studies Seminar

4 November - Dr. Richard Bauckham, Professor Emeritus, University of St Andrews - The “Individualism” of the Gospel of John

11 November - Reading Week

18 November - Mark Stirling, University of St Andrews - The Use of the OT in Ephesians 2.11–22: Covenant, Temple, and People of God

25 November - Dr. Stuart Weeks, Senior Lecturer in Theology and Religion, University of Durham - “Vanity” in Ecclesiastes

2 December - Prof. John Barclay, Lightfoot Professor Divinity, University of Durham - Paul, the Gift, and the Battle over Gentile Circumcision Revisiting the Logic of Galatians

8 December - N.B. The Seminar will meet on Wednesday 2.00pm in College Hall

Prof. George Brooke, Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis, University of Manchester - The Silent God, the Abused Mother, and the Self-Justifying Sons: A Psycho-dynamic Reading of Scriptural interpretation in the Pesharim