Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Some thoughts on church...

For whatever reason, I've been suckered into Ecclesiology. I enjoy figuring out what exactly the "Church" is. There are a great many blogs out there dedicated to this topic. However, something I'm noticing is that they stay only within the New Testament for their views on the Church. Is this proper? Is the New Testament the handbook on ekklesia? My answer: It's not *the* handbook. We have to look not only at the New Testament, but also at the history of the Church and how the Apostolic Fathers viewed Church, etc. How did the earliest Christians do it after the New Testament period?

I'll be posting more on this later, but I wanted to generate some discussion and ideas.

Dove Books

I get this little email deal from Dove Books from time to time. One thing they do is sell the libraries of various scholars. Apparently E.P. Sanders has put up some of his books on the site! So, last night I bought one of the books in his library (I have no idea what it is, something on New Testament studies). How exciting to get to own something that someone like E.P. Sanders owned and used.

I do love books.

New Testament Scholarship

Something that concerns me in New Testament studies is the splintering of one large study (the New Testament, or even The Bible) into various little sub-disciplines. This may work for something like a Biologist who just wants to study fungus or something the rest of his life, and has no need to know about zebras. But in Biblical Studies, I think we have be more well-read than our counterparts in other fields. Indeed, I think this is why Aquinas calls Theology the "Queen" of the sciences. I have people ask me all the time, "So, what are you, a systematic guy, Biblical theology, or Biblical studies, or what?" and I have to answer them: "Yes." I'm not a master (or even a novice yet) at any of them, but I realize that they all hold a place within the grand scheme.

How does one understand the New Testament without the Old? How do you separate systematic and Biblical theology when both are important? And a huge one for me: how are so many NT scholars so completely unaware of patristics? Yes, they may use a quote from Ignatius here and there, but I know a great many NT scholars who are in no way well-versed in Church Fathers. This seems vital to me! Historically, you can separate the two, but ideologically you cannot. The history of the ideas of the church is, in my most humble and uneducated opinion, quintessential for understanding Biblical studies. Or, as April Deconick has written about, how do we toss aside important information contained in these Nag Hammadi texts? Yes, I realize they're late and don't provide a great amount of historical information concerning Jesus, but they provide historical information concerning the beliefs of a particular subset of people. Why did they interpret the New Testament in such a way as to arrive at these beliefs? That's valuable, I think.


Immediately after posting this I went to Dr. Deconick's blog and she shares a similar conviction about the matter:

My third point was that most biblical scholars aren't interested in studying the NH documents because they are perceived to be late and therefore of no consequence to Christian Origins. The same is true, I suppose, for ante-Nicene literature in general. Not many biblical scholars take the time to become well-versed in much beyond the apostolic fathers.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I will be leaving this morning for Ohio to attend a conference at Franciscan University. It's their Applied Biblical Studies Conference and this year's discussion is "Feasts of Israel, Feasts of the Church." I will return sometime Saturday. Until then, check out the Evangelism tactics of Chris Tilling. Watch out, Billy Graham!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Brilliant Exegesis

This is really a brilliant exegesis of Matthew 16. Groundbreaking and revolutionary. I suspect this will shock the world of New Testament studies overnight! (HT: Chris Tilling)

What are you praying for?

The Lord's prayer is so often prayed that I think its significance has decreased in modern Christianity. I know that I chant through it instead of honestly thinking about the implications of the words I'm saying. Something has really stood out for me in the last few months concerning the Lord's prayer, however.

Matthew 6:10

Your Kingdom come,

Your will be done,

On earth as it is in heaven

Now, I've intentionally made the two lines italicized because I think "Your will be done" is the only thing people focus on when considering earth and heaven. But what did Jesus mean about God's kingdom coming on earth?

One thing that bothers/perplexes me is that God's kingdom is not divided or fractured in Heaven, why should it be on earth? I think the Lord's prayer has huge implications for ecclesiology. However, this is because I take God's Kingdom on earth to be his Church (contrary to both George Ladd and J. Millard Erickson). I like things to be practical and real. As such, I'm generally less inclined to follow Luther, Calvin, and even Augustine in dividing up the "visible" and "invisible" church. I want the invisible to be the visible! I like the idea of one corporate body working together. In fact, I think denominations are the inability of Christians to work through the Spirit within the community. I suppose I'm just not theologically inclined enough to see how one can pray for God's Kingdom to come on earth and be as it is in Heaven, and then remain divided from Christian brethren because that's the way things have always been. The Lord's prayer seems a bit like spiritual nonsense if we're saying to God, "Make your Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven.....but do it without me having to do anything."

So, the question is: What exactly are you praying for when you pray the Lord's prayer? Or, a more historical-critical approach: what do you suppose Jesus meant here? Is this a validation for a one Church world? Did Jesus equate God's Kingdom coming on earth as the Church?

Also, something that's well-worth a read is Pope John Paul II's encyclical letter titled Ut Unum Sint. He discusses a reunited and reconciled Church. (HT: Michael Barber)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


I recently did an interview with Michael Halcomb of Pisteuomen. Please do check it out. I feel like a real Biblioblogger now....interviews and everything. Also, he's doing an exciting series on Mark that's an interesting read.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Book Reviews

After speaking with the master of all book reviews, Chris Tilling, I have decided that I want to do a full-out book review on the blog. Granted, I don't think I have the time or mental faculties to write one as long as his series on Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, but I would like to go section-by-section through a book and critically review it. I figure this will be a good stretch of the mental muscles and will perhaps be the practice swings I take before writing real reviews in grad school (one of my goals). So.....for one, I'd like any advice you have. Secondly, out of the two books by Dr. Bock or the E.P. Sanders books listed below, which would you like to see me review? You didn't know you'd have so much control over it, did you? Well, there you have it. It's like an episode of American Idol. Vote for your favorite contestant.

A side note: I was going to put either Zwingli or Bultmann as an option too, but I figured they would just be the Sanjaya of the competition. (Kidding, Jim!)

Saturday, July 7, 2007

New Books!!!

I got some new books that I bought myself for my birthday in the mail today! I do love books.

The two that arrived today are:

Jesus in Context: Background readings for Gospel Study by Darrell L. Bock and Gregory J. Herrick

Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods Darrell L. Bock

Now, I really like Dr. Bock's work. I got to meet him at the Last Twelve Verses in Mark conference that Southeastern hosted and he was exceptionally nice, particularly considering the mob of people that were waiting in line to chat with him. I've read his book The Missing Gospels a few times and really enjoyed it.

The other books that I'm expecting to come in soon are:

E.P. Sanders Jesus and Judaism (I know, I repent a thousand times for not having read this yet!)

E.P. Sanders The Historical Figure of Jesus

Stanley Hauerwas The Peaceable Kingdom (If you don't like Hauerwas, well...we have a saying in Texas about you, and it goes something like *bleep*)

Karl Barth The Humanity of God

Karl Barth Evangelical Theology: An Introduction

I'm excited about reading Barth's books. I've read Dogmatics in Outline and a few books about him. I actually used to really dislike Barth, mistaking him (of course without reading him) for a "dirty liberal" (Yes, I used to be like that). Barth is one of my favorites now. One thing I dislike about a lot of modern theological writers is that I feel like they're trying to sell me something. They make wild oversimplifications of historical or theological matters, then overstate the implications of those oversimplifications. I like Barth because of how systematic he is, how he seems to account for all angles.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

A little older, and we're working on the wiser part

And, yea, on this day 23 years ago a child was born...and they've regretted it ever since.

Yes, it's my birthday.