Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Free DVD

Oh, just passing this along. Now, what do I have to do in order to get a free copy of that CD with the pictures of the Gospels in Codex Washingtonianus?

My Classes

My classes at Franciscan this semester are:

Theology of Christ - T - 6:00-9:00pm
Philosophy of the Human Person - MW - 4:00-5:15
Sacraments - R - 2:15-5:00
Foundations of Catholicism - R - 6:00-9:00pm

AND...the class I'm most excited about is one that I'm not even really enrolled in. Fr. James Swetnam, S.J. is a visiting professor this semester teaching a graduate course on the book of Hebrews. Through some lucky connections, I was asked to come sit in on this class. I'm beyond excited. Fr. Swetnam is a big-daddy when it comes to Hebrews. He also argues for Pauline authorship (as do I, except I think Luke actually wrote it as Paul's amanuensis). This should be really fun.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A question about pedagogy

Mark Goodacre's recent post about his first day of teaching a class on the New Testament this term has brought up a question that I've asked myself so many times: how do professors separate faith from the classroom? I don't mean to ask this in the sense that I think it's impossible, I've dialogued with people about the NT numerous times without having to resort to even talking about faith or my own personal beliefs (although I'm sure it creeps through without me knowing it). Is it ever appropriate for a professor to divulge his own beliefs on the matter, though? I know if you take Bart Ehrman's NT course at the University of North Carolina, he is extremely vocal about what he thinks. Does that unnecessarily bias the students towards your belief? I think it does. The professor is such an icon in our world. He is the supposed guarantor of all knowledge in his field, an expert among experts. If he believes it, it must be true!

As someone who wants to be a professor, my idea is that I want to keep my students guessing. I want them to have zero clue where I stand on the matter because I want to have as little influence over them as possible. My big revelation over the last few years has been that there's too much indoctrination (in almost every field) in universities today. Students end up being fundamentalists, able to rattle off the professor's arguments for whatever stance. My hope for myself is that when I finally get around to teaching (sometime in the year 3056, I think) is that I'll be able to discuss Bultmann, Sanders, Wright, Black, Robinson, Tilling (oh yes, he'll be famous by then), Goodacre, etc without my students knowing which parts I agree with and which I don't. Is this sound pedagogy? Is it possible?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Academic Politics?

A new systematic theology has been released: A Theology for the Church. The general editor is the President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Daniel Akin. After taking hermeneutics with Dr. Akin, I can tell you, he is one smart guy. I like him, too, because he's a bit fiesty. He's not scared to let you know what he thinks and I dig it.

However, last week when I was helping a friend get her books at the bookstore, I noticed that every theology class I saw was using his book. Before, Wayne Grudem's "Systematic Theology" was the primary book. After having thumbed through "A Theology for the Church", I'm left wondering: What does this book accomplish that J. Millard Erickson and Wayne Grudem haven't already accomplished? What's new? And is it just politics at school vs. academic interests that have caused the switch from Grudem's to this book?

Something I worry about for myself is that I won't have original ideas. I would rather go my whole life unpublished than to crank out article after article and book after book of rehashed ideas. I remember reading Mark Goodacre's The Case Against Q and thinking, "I will never come up with something this brilliant. This is amazing." I realize this is the second time I've mentioned this book, but it's amazing! Go read it! Stop wasting your time here!

Monday, August 20, 2007


I don't like to get too terribly personal on this blog (other than my breakdown below concerning my books...but I knew there were those of you out there who could appreciate the pain), but I figure since this announcement has to do with school, this is an appopriate venue. Next Monday I will start classes at Franciscan University of Steubenville majoring in Theology. I realize that as a senior, this is pretty much academic suicide and a terrible idea on my part. However, after a considerable amount of study and prayer, I decided to reconcile with the Catholic Church about a month ago. As such, I will no longer be able to pursue my education at Southeastern.

Anyone can leave any comments they wish, but I would like to reiterate that the only reason I'm really sharing this on this blog is because it effects my studies and this blog is about my time spent as a student of the New Testament and all things related.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The horror! The humanity!!!!

How can an all-loving, all-good, all-powerful God exist if.........I accidentally left my bookbag in the back of my truck during a rain storm?!?! I'm in tears! Sheer agony!

A Psalm of Lament

O Lord, deliver me!
I am surrounded by wet books. My pain is overwhelming.
Books dear to my heart I have lost to the torrent.
My heart cries out for you to deliver them under the fans and ovens and hair dryers.
Keep safe their little pages, allow none to tear.
Reshape my books, O Lord, and I will praise you all of my days.
For you are Holy and a book lover, no doubt.
Praise YHWH for His blessing upon my dry books.

******Update as of 2am 8/18/07*********
I've set up my kitchen table as a book drying center. I have two fans blowing on the books and the books themselves are stood up. Occassionally, I run the hair dryer over them. I think I'm making progress. The books that were in my bookbag were:

My NASB (my main Bible with all my notes in it) - in the book ICU, it may pull through, although it will never be the same. My notes are all smudged now. YEARS of brilliance down the drain!
My Greek NT (UBS 4th Edition) - Critical Condition, but we may be able to bring it back.
My little notebook. This thing is a small, leatherbound notebook that I keep all of my ideas, notes from conferences, etc, in. The pages are stained badly, but I think I can salvage it.
E.P. Sanders "The Historical Figure of Jesus" - Lost, completely. This thing got soaked completely on every page.
Scott Hahn "The Lamb's Supper" - Didn't take too bad of a hit and is in serious condition.
________ "Kinship by Covenant..." (Dissertation) The cover came off, but I think I'll be able to salvage it. I may buy another copy.
Mike Aquilina "The Fathers of the Church" - Critical condition, but I think it'll make it.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

New to the blogroll: Scotteriology

I always feel silly linking blogs that probably everyone already reads to my blog, but just in case you've somehow missed this one : Scotteriology.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Your least favorite thing

I am not an Old Testament all. I mean, as a Christian I understand its importance in the grand scheme of salvation history. As a Biblical Studies major, I realize its significance both on its own and as a precursor and illuminator of the NT, as well as valuable for historical Jesus research, etc. However, I do not enjoy Hebrew. I don't enjoy trying to remember Old Testament chronology. I don't enjoy trying to pronounce those crazy names (Maher-shalal-hash-baz anyone?). I'm not particularly interested in rabbinic literature. And whereas I'm thrilled (for whatever reason) with NT Textual and Source Criticism, the idea of doing OT textual criticism bores me to tears!

Now, I'm not saying this to down people who are involved in OT studies primarily (although you are an odd bunch. Everyone knows NT studies is where it's at). That was a confession before a question. What is your least favorite aspect of Biblical Studies? I am not asking what you think is the least important (I realize how important all of the above stuff is and I read it because it is important, I just don't enjoy it), but I am asking you what you loathe...what do you dread doing despite the fact that it's necessary?

Even more thoughts on Church....

So, after having had some time to think through some of my thoughts about the importance of the Fathers, particularly in our view of the Church, I'm back with another post. How terribly exciting for all of us.

Basically, I think that the problem with modern Protestant views of the Church stem from the problem of sola scriptura. Stanley Hauerwas, in a lecture given at Boston College, called this "the great Protestant heresy." I don't know if I'm willing to use the H word here, but I think he's got a point, particularly in ecclesiology. If we look just to the New Testament for our view on the Church, we're going to get a strange animal. We're going to have to piece together a few verses here and there, try and look at Acts a bit, and see what we can figure out. But this has lead to a multiplicity of denominations. If the New Testament were all we needed for ecclesiology, why isn't it more clear? How does the same text provide us with Senior Pastors, Multiple Elder-led congregations, and the whole lot? Well, it's because we're only looking at half the story. We are only looking at half of what the Apostles revealed to their disciples.

I think what happens when we exclude Patristics from our study of the Church is we isolate the NT in an unnatural way from the earliest Christian communities that used the text. These communities had various traditions concerning liturgy that can be traced back to the Apostolic age. We don't read about this in the NT because that's not the aim of the NT. It's not a handbook on ecclesiology. So, we must look to the Fathers and their witness about the Church during their time. They are our glimpses into the first fruits of the Apostles' evangelization.

Also, on the topic of the Fathers from some of the comments in the earlier post:

The Fathers do disagree sometimes. The Church is made up of people, and people are going to disagree about some things. However, their disagreements are often fairly minor. Overall, there is an orthodoxy maintained throughout the Fathers. And like I said before: we are hard-pressed to find this notion of pop-up house churches that are without set liturgy and clergy in the Fathers. My comment on the Apostles having to be the worst teachers still stands (not that they are, but that they would be if their students got it that wrong). Yes, students sometimes go astray from their teachers, but the idea that the Apostolic Fathers and their students got it so wrong is without merit. It would be tantamount to reading Mark Goodacre's The Case Against Q and walking away believing he believes in Q. You would either have to be beyond stupid (which the Fathers weren't, their writings are really wonderful and deep) or Dr. Goodacre would be the worst communicator on the face of the planet (which he isn't and his book is one of the best I've ever read concerning the issue...I can't stress how much I love that book). Likewise, the Apostles would've had to have said, "Okay guys, no priests, no sacraments, Peter's not the Pope, and Christ isn't literally present in the Eucharist" and then their students would've said, "Okay, so you're telling us to have priests, sacraments, Peter is Pope, and Christ is literally present?" It just doesn't make any sense that the Apostles instruction would've produced something that different from what was intended.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

More thoughts on Church...

This will serve as a comment to Michael Halcomb’s request to convey the importance of Patristics in New Testament study as well as furthering my ideas on Church. Taking a completely different route than the one I’m about to take, Mike over at εν εφεσο has commented on how (or how not) churches should be run.

I’ll start with why Patristics is so important. I view it as being essential because it allows us to see how the earliest Christian communities, some shaped by the Apostles themselves, interpreted Scripture. We know that we don’t have the full record about Christ, early Christianity, etc in the New Testament. These were men who had received tradition through a chain in the early church. Bishop to Bishop, etc. Look at 2 Timothy 2:2 where Paul encourages Timothy to share what Timothy has heard from Paul with other people. Not, “Make sure and copy this letter down word for word, because this is all there is.” No, that’s silly. Of course Paul taught Timothy a great deal more than is written down. So where did all of that go? To the Fathers! They are our windows into how this tradition helped shape the church, hermeneutics, etc. They allow us to see Orthodox interpretation of Scripture from the outset of this movement. How do we know what the Apostles taught? Not only by their writings, but the writings of their students, and their students, etc.

Now, on to the Church. My studying of Patristics has led me to some puzzling conclusions. We in Evangelical Protestant circles hear a great deal about “New Testament churches” which are springing up left and right. These churches pride themselves on being the “house churches” that mirror the New Testament church. However, I have to disagree for a few reasons:

1) Neither the New Testament, nor extant Christian literature, indicates anything that looks like these Protestant churches. In fact, I think Acts 15 is a great indicator of how the Church actually was run. Already we see a hierarchy of ruling Apostles who had Elders (πρεσβυτεροι). Pauline literature indicates the office of deacons as well. These weren’t “free to do whatever they wanted” churches; they were held in line by their leaders, the Apostles, the guarantors of the Faith. As far as what the Liturgy looked like, I would encourage you to take a look at the book of Revelation. The liturgical themes in this book are striking! These are all stolen from Scott Hahn’s The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth (119):
Sunday Worship 1:10
High Priest 1:13
Altar 8:3-4; 11:1, 14:18
Priests 4:4; 11:15; 14:3 ; 19:4
Incense 5:8; 8:3-5
Book or Scroll 5:1
Sign of the Cross 7:3; 14:1; 22:4
Lift up your hearts 11:12
“Holy, Holy, Holy" 4:8

There’s considerably more on the list, I’ve just included some of the things I think are interesting as they seem to point to a very early, established liturgy.

2) Indeed, reading the Fathers leads us to some conclusions with which Protestants may not be entirely comfortable. The Church, in its earliest form, is extremely Catholic. The office of the Apostles was understood as ongoing, and they were the heads of the Church, with the Bishop of Rome being the lead Apostle (as he was the successor of Peter). First, I’ll start at Peter. Matthew 16 is quite hard to get around and most Protestant exegetes stumble over Christ’s affirmation and separation of Peter. Luke 22:31-32 again is difficult if Peter didn’t hold a prominent position. Jesus says to him, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you (plural) like wheat, but I have prayed for you(singular), that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Why is Peter set aside? And why is Jesus commissioning Peter to strengthen his brothers? Well, it’s because Peter was the head of the Church. After Peter, it was assumed that his successor took over. If Judas received a successor, certainly Peter would. Pope Clement I in A.D. 80 affirms Apostolic Succession in his Letter to the Corinthians. Are these the pop-up house churches we’re told scattered the New Testament and early Christian landscape? Not at all. In fact, Tertullian mentions that the only way to tell a real Church is whether it enjoys Apostolic succession! (See Demurrer Against Heretics).

3) The real question for me is this: If these New Testament churches didn’t have the hierarchy that Catholics say they did, then why in the world does the Church immediately look like the Catholic church? Why do the Fathers support a hierarchical Church that enjoys Apostolic succession? The Apostles would be, by far, the worst teachers on the face of the planet if their students got it that wrong! There is often this imagined disconnect between the Apostles' teaching on "Biblical ecclesiology" and the Catholic Church. Where is it? It would've had to have been sometime in the first century, while some of the Apostles were still alive!