“Romans” in @FortressPress Commentary on the Bible: The New Testament

Romans is one of the most difficult New Testament books. It has started Reformations and continues to plague us as the artificer of poor readings today. I am always interested in seeing how Romans is presented… and as my readers know, I believe Romans is a rhetorical set piece designed to represent a dialogue between Paul and his imaginary interlocutor, whereby Paul is able to give his message as an explanation rather than a set of points.

First, the introduction includes a reference to Stanley Stowers and his “Rereading Romans.” Yet, nothing is mentioned about the scholarship on rhetorical practices involved in the letter. The author, Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, does mention rhetoric, not as a form of discourse so much as a figure of speech. Douglas Campbell is nowhere mentioned, yet his proposals (and mine, although mine is only blogged) are central to the author’s presentation of Romans 1.18-3.31. Kittredge correctly notes that the “clobber passage” at the end of chapter 1 is Jewish agitprop against Gentiles and that Paul’s “you” in 2.1 is directed against them for this. In speaking about homosexuality, she doesn’t shy from the surface level statements but does offer a way around it by tackling “natural theology.”

If I read the passage the same as Kittredge (admittedly, I am close), I still would not buy her argument about Natural Theology; however, I believe she approaches this with unbiasedness and an admission that she understands why. It is, frankly, a pleasant read.

I have found a solid “New Perspective” throughout the chapter on Romans, much to my likely. Also included are connections (because they are there) between Paul’s Romans and the Empire.

Over all, I am impressed with what Kittredge gets right and could quibble over the rest — especially in reading Romans through a particular viewpoint. If anything, the sections may be too large I would like to have seen 1.18-3.31 divided up, as well as Romans 13-14.

 

Two Asses and Jesus (Matthew 21.2)

donkey3

Really, Joel? That’s the title you chose to go with? #clickbait

This is another quick post (mainly for memory’s sake).

In Mark 11.2, Jesus commands his disciples to go and get a colt. Matthew sees this, but expands this passage. In Matthew 21.2, Jesus commands the disciples to get the colt and the mother. But, Matthew (21.5-6) goes further and ties this to Zechariah 9.9. I believe the Hebrew assigns the gender to the colt as male.

So, here’s the thing. Matthew has 2 donkeys, one female and one male. This has caused some issues, not in the least with those who need every account to jive with the next. Did Mark forget one or did Matthew add one? If Matthew added one, is it because he can’t read the Hebrew of Zechariah correctly?

What if he was slipping one by? I mean, maybe his readers knew it (Luke didn’t) but maybe some in his ekklesia-synagogue did. So, where could he have received the image from?

What about Judges in the Old Greek, before kaige revisionism?

In Judges 5.10 (LXX, B), we read,

ἐπιβεβηκότες ἐπὶ ὄνου θηλείας μεσημβρίας, καθήμενοι ἐπὶ κριτηρίου καὶ πορευόμενοι ἐπὶ ὁδοὺς συνέδρων ἐφʼ ὁδῷ.

Those going upon a she-ass at noon, those seated upon a judgment seat, and those going upon the roads of councilors along the way: (Lexham)

There is a/the female donkey.

Could the time have been noon? Not sure, as it doesn’t say. Of course, noon was a time of Temple activity so we can speculate. Mark 11.11 does say the hour was late, but does this mean time or the “Jesus Hour,” that invisible number indicating the hour of the death of Jesus?

What else do we need? A judge. Does Jesus act as Judge (in Matthew) in anyway? Matthew 25 does something like that. Crowds of “councilors” are also present. Read the whole of Deborah’s song and apply it to the mission of Jesus (in the Gospels). See if you can find any other connection.

I am not suggesting that this is exactly the right answer, but I just find the connection interesting.

Go and Read: “Luke’s Artistic Parables: Narratives of Subversion, Imagination, and Transformation”

Luke’s parables are narratives of disorientation that subvert conventional wisdom about many issues such as the use of wealth and possessions. The parables use specific rhetorical strategies (character identification and premature closure) in order to transform the lives of Luke’s readers/hearers

via (4) Luke’s Artistic Parables: Narratives of Subversion, Imagination, and Transformation | Matthew Rindge – Academia.edu.

Two new books on the Gospel of Mark (@fortresspress and @ivpacademic)

both look interesting…

Scholars of the Gospel of Mark usually discuss the merits of patristic references to the Gospel’s origin and Mark’s identity as the “interpreter” of Peter. But while the question of the Gospel’s historical origins draws attention, no one has asked why, despite virtually unanimous patristic association of the Gospel with Peter, one of the most prestigious apostolic founding figures in Christian memory, Mark’s Gospel was mostly neglected by those same writers. Not only is the text of Mark the least represented of the canonical Gospels in patristic citations, commentaries, and manuscripts, but the explicit comments about the Evangelist reveal ambivalence about Mark’s literary or theological value. Michael J. Kok surveys the second-century reception of Mark, from Papias of Hierapolis to Clement of Alexandria, and finds that the patristic writers were hesitant to embrace Mark because they perceived it to be too easily adapted to rival Christian factions. Kok describes the story of Mark’s Petrine origins as a second-century move to assert ownership of the Gospel on the part of the emerging Orthodox Church.

The Gospels contain many hard sayings of Jesus, but perhaps none have puzzled and intrigued readers as much as Jesus’ discourse on the coming of the Son of Man in Mark 13. Is Jesus speaking entirely of an event in the near future, a coming destruction of the temple? Or is he referring to a distant, end-of-the-world event? Or might he even be speaking of both near and distant events? But in that case, which words apply to which event, and how can we be sure?

Seasoned Gospels scholar Robert Stein follows up his major commentary on Mark with this even closer reading of Mark 13. In this macro-lens commentary he walks us step by step through the text and its questions, leading us to a compelling interpretive solution.

is Peter quoting James, James quoting Peter or are both quoting Proverbs…or…

The Church of St. Sophia in Ohrid (1345-1346),...

The Church of St. Sophia in Ohrid (1345-1346), The Repentence of King David (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t spend a lot of time in James since it includes very little about people going to hell, but noticed this today:

πρὸ πάντων τὴν εἰς ἑαυτοὺς ἀγάπην ἐκτενῆ ἔχοντες, ὅτι ἀγάπη καλύπτει πλῆθος ἁμαρτιῶν – 1 Peter 4.8

γινωσκέτω ὅτι ὁ ἐπιστρέψας ἁμαρτωλὸν ἐκ πλάνης ὁδοῦ αὐτοῦ σώσει ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἐκ θανάτου καὶ καλύψει πλῆθος ἁμαρτιῶν. – James 5.20

Achtemeier has this…

The most puzzling part of the verse consists in the final four words (ἀγάπη καλύπτει πλῆθος ἁμαρτιῶν). While the notion that love covers sin is common in the Bible and early Christian literature, the closeness of this formulation to the Hebrew of Prov 10:12b* and its almost identical form in Jas 5:20* point to the proverbial status of this phrase, a status probably antedating both uses in the NT.1

Using a certain resource, I found a connection to several Clementine letters.

Blessed were we, dearly beloved, if we should be doing the commandments of God in concord of love, to the end that our sins may through love be forgiven us – 1 Clement 50.5

Now I do not think that I have given any mean counsel respecting continence, and whosoever performeth it shall not repent thereof, but shall save both himself and me his counsellor. For it is no mean reward to convert a wandering and perishing soul, that it may be saved. – 2 Clement 15.1

Almsgiving therefore is a good thing, even as repentance from sin. Fasting is better than prayer, but almsgiving than both. And love covereth a multitude of sins, but prayer out of a good conscience delivereth from death. Blessed is every man that is found full of these. For almsgiving lifteth off the burden of sin – 2 Clement 16.4

and for my friendly gnostic fellow,

All those who anoint themselves with it (.i.e, Truth) take pleasure in it. While those who are anointed are present, | those nearby also profit (from the fragrance). If those anointed with ointment withdraw from them and leave, then those not anointed, who merely stand nearby, still | remain in their bad odor. The Samaritan gave nothing but | wine and oil to the wounded man. It is nothing other than the ointment. It healed the wounds, for “love covers a multitude of sins.”2

In reviewing the ancient instances of this quote – even those making use of James/1 Peter, it looks like it is a recognized proverb (pardon the expression). We shouldn’t think Peter and James are at odds with one another. While James has the reputation of supporting “works righteousness,” I believe they are both saying the same thing. Both are about rescuing the less-than-sober/self-controlled Christian from sins. One calls this love, one calls this repentance. Same thing. Even the Gnostic version alludes to the recapturing of Truth.

So, maybe the early Church didn’t have too divergent a theology at the beginning? And, maybe that theology included the notion that we can aid in (co-responsible for) one another’s journey?

  1. Paul J. Achtemeier, 1 Peter: a Commentary on First Peter (ed. Eldon Jay Epp; Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible; Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1996), 295.
  2. Wesley W. Isenberg, “The Gospel of Philip (II, 3),” in The Nag Hammadi Library in English (ed. James M. Robinson; 4th rev. ed.; Leiden; New York: E. J. Brill, 1996), 155.

Jesus’s (building) entries into Jerusalem (Mark 11.11–27)

English: Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey

English: Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is really for discussion… In Mark 11, Jesus enters into Jerusalem 3 times, each one more grander than the last.

Καὶ εἰσῆλθεν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα εἰς τὸ ἱερόν· καὶ περιβλεψάμενος πάντα ὀψὲ ἤδη οὔσης τῆς ὥρας ἐξῆλθεν εἰς Βηθανίαν μετὰ τῶν δώδεκα. – Mark 11:11.

Καὶ ἔρχονται εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα. καὶ εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν ἤρξατο ἐκβάλλειν τοὺς πωλοῦντας καὶ τοὺς ἀγοράζοντας ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ, καὶ τὰς τραπέζας τῶν κολλυβιστῶν καὶ τὰς καθέδρας τῶν πωλούντων τὰς περιστερὰς κατέστρεψεν – Mark 11:15.

Καὶ ἔρχονται πάλιν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα. καὶ ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ περιπατοῦντος αὐτοῦ ἔρχονται πρὸς αὐτὸν οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς καὶ οἱ πρεσβύτεροι – Mark 11:27.

The first time, Jesus silently (ignore the Hosanna shouts) enters into city, goes to the Temple, looks around, and leaves. In Mark 11.15, Jesus enters the city and goes to the Temple to cleanse it. In Mark 11.27, Jesus goes to the Temple where he begins to preach. This happens quickly, within the space of 3 days.

Each entry is marked by an increasing sense of importance for Jesus. I may side with some who suggest the crowd was already present when Jesus entered the city, celebrating the Passover. In other words, Jesus slipped by and stood in the crown while it shouted the usual triumphant shout. The second time, however, Jesus comes in and makes himself known as a person of priestly suspicions (basically, he wanted the Temple pure). The next time, Jesus comes in and starts to preach.1

Could the thrice entry point us to some of Mark’s literary sources? I am inclined to believe Mark 11.15–17 points us to Titus’s siege in 70, wherein the bandits were holed up inside the Temple. What about the first one, then? I may argue in a future paper the first one points us to the attempted coup by the Egyptian. The third one? Well, Jesus did have to go Jerusalem… In all, however, the stories are told in such a way as to answer previous entries by would-be-tyrants and siege victors — they show that Jesus did not come to conquer.

  1. Maybe these two entries, with their two goals, point to the Two Messiah Motif.

Review of @fortresspress’s “The Vine and the Son of Man: Eschatological Interpretation of Psalm 80 in Early Judaism”

In the last few decades, academia has produced few, but great intertextual scholars. I suspect that soon we will add a name such as Andrew Streett to that list. His work, The Vine and the Son of Man traces the interpretation and reinterpretation of Psalm 80 in Early Judaism, ending with the Gospel of John. But, it does more than that. Indeed, Streett offers an interdisciplinary approach — Second Temple Judaism, rhetoric, canonical theism, and intertextuality — to understanding not just how the Fourth Evangelist used Psalm 80, but so too the inherited methodology allowing him, or requiring him, to employ the strategy. This volume is a richly rewarding experience whereby the reader is able to digest the complete context of Psalm 80.

And a very detailed introduction, Streett begins the work in earnest with an examination of Psalm 80 in its historical context. He presents his speculation that it was originally a response to the end of the Northern Kingdom, offered to call to God’s remembrance the covenant. Already, we can see why this particular psalm could become important to early apologists defending the messiahship of Jesus. It includes vine imagery, the request for a strong leader, and the restoration of the nation. Thus, the original context supplied the needed theology to develop John’s Son of Man imagery.

Following this, Streett examines the psalm within it’s setting of the psalter. This first use of the psalm allowed the receptive audience (the 6th century BCE) to see it pertaining to them. Further, by placing it within Book III of the psalter, Psalm 80’s already rich royal connection is magnified, assuming an eschatological presence that produces the connection to the Temple and Jerusalem. This is interesting in of itself because it allows the reader to see how portions of Scripture are shaped by their literary placement.

I a (not-as) convincing chapter on Daniel 7, the author argues that the natural imagery of Daniel’s Son of Man vision is supplemented by Psalm 80. He bases this on the beasts, primarily. I remain unconvinced, wishing he had devoted more time to intertextual clues — or included this chapter either in, or after, the following chapter in which he examines our psalm within Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism (chapter 4). In this portion, Streett investigates such works as pseudo-Philo and the Dead Sea Scrolls to understand how Psalm 80 figured into their works. It is during this time, and with the help of the developing eschatological hope, Psalm 80 is reworked to represent better what early Christians would have recognized as the “real” meaning. Had Street placed his chapter on Daniel within this framework, it would be more convincing.

Streett’s chapters on Mark are completely convincing — not simply because he delves deep into the concept of allusion and what this means when reading texts into, or out of, of another. In chapter 5, he stands out from the crowd(s) — the crowds arguing neither for Daniel 7 or Isaiah 53 as the genesis for the suffering Messiah — holding Psalm 80 as the theological instigator for seeing Jesus’s passion as necessary and “biblical.” Chapter 6 deals well with Mark 12.1-12 and its allusive connections to Psalm 80. Streett continues to build upon the idea of intertextuality, connecting Mark to his theological heritage — Second Temple Judaism. By doing so, he gives a literary depth to Mark rarely seen by a surface reading.

In his seventh chapter, Streett tackles Psalm 80 in John 15.1–8. He does not simply offer the psalm as the only intertext, but examines it next to the passages commonly associated with pericope such as Isaiah 5.1–7 and Sirach 24.17–21. He maintains that while other passages may contribute to John’s choice of words here, it is Psalm 80 supplying the spine of the passage.

How did we read the New Testament without the aid of Psalm 80 before? Sure, we did pretty well for ourselves, having rested easily enough on Psalm 110 — but, it seems we were lacking something. And if we ever believed christology suddenly sprang forth ex nihilo, we missed something there as well. Often times, we are told scholars live to find something new. Here, Streett brings back something old and gives us more things to consider in reading the New Testament. He helps us to understand just how Jewish, and continuous, New Testament theology really is. It is a rewarding experience for those seeking to understand the zygote of the New Testament as well as how previous texts were used, reused, and transformed by later writers.

Working on my #SBLAAR (2014) paper, “There and Back Again, A Jesus Tale: The Poetics of Apologetic Reversal”

The romanticized woodcut engraving of Flavius ...

The romanticized woodcut engraving of Flavius Josephus appearing in William Whiston’s translation of his works. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I will propose Mark is borrowing two well-known and horrible entries into Jerusalem. First up, Mark 11.1-17:

Καὶ ὅτε ἐγγίζουσιν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα εἰς Βηθφαγὴ καὶ Βηθανίαν πρὸς τὸ Ὄρος τῶν Ἐλαιῶν, ἀποστέλλει δύο τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ 2 καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· Ὑπάγετε εἰς τὴν κώμην τὴν κατέναντι ὑμῶν, καὶ εὐθὺς εἰσπορευόμενοι εἰς αὐτὴν εὑρήσετε πῶλον δεδεμένον ἐφʼ ὃν οὐδεὶς οὔπω ἀνθρώπων ἐκάθισεν· λύσατε αὐτὸν καὶ φέρετε. 3 καὶ ἐάν τις ὑμῖν εἴπῃ· Τί ποιεῖτε τοῦτο; εἴπατε ὅτι Ὁ κύριος αὐτοῦ χρείαν ἔχει· καὶ εὐθὺς αὐτὸν ἀποστέλλει πάλιν ὧδε. 4 καὶ ἀπῆλθον καὶ εὗρον πῶλον δεδεμένον πρὸς θύραν ἔξω ἐπὶ τοῦ ἀμφόδου, καὶ λύουσιν αὐτόν. 5 καί τινες τῶν ἐκεῖ ἑστηκότων ἔλεγον αὐτοῖς· Τί ποιεῖτε λύοντες τὸν πῶλον; 6 οἱ δὲ εἶπαν αὐτοῖς καθὼς εἶπεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς· καὶ ἀφῆκαν αὐτούς. 7 καὶ φέρουσιν τὸν πῶλον πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν, καὶ ἐπιβάλλουσιν αὐτῷ τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτῶν, καὶ ἐκάθισεν ἐπʼ αὐτόν. 8 καὶ πολλοὶ τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτῶν ἔστρωσαν εἰς τὴν ὁδόν, ἄλλοι δὲ στιβάδας κόψαντες ἐκ τῶν ἀγρῶν. 9 καὶ οἱ προάγοντες καὶ οἱ ἀκολουθοῦντες ἔκραζον· Ὡσαννά· Εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι κυρίου· 10 Εὐλογημένη ἡ ἐρχομένη βασιλεία τοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν Δαυίδ· Ὡσαννὰ ἐν τοῖς ὑψίστοις.

11 Καὶ εἰσῆλθεν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα εἰς τὸ ἱερόν· καὶ περιβλεψάμενος πάντα ὀψὲ ἤδη οὔσης τῆς ὥρας ἐξῆλθεν εἰς Βηθανίαν μετὰ τῶν δώδεκα.

12 Καὶ τῇ ἐπαύριον ἐξελθόντων αὐτῶν ἀπὸ Βηθανίας ἐπείνασεν. 13 καὶ ἰδὼν συκῆν ἀπὸ μακρόθεν ἔχουσαν φύλλα ἦλθεν εἰ ἄρα τι εὑρήσει ἐν αὐτῇ, καὶ ἐλθὼν ἐπʼ αὐτὴν οὐδὲν εὗρεν εἰ μὴ φύλλα, ὁ γὰρ καιρὸς οὐκ ἦν σύκων. 14 καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτῇ· Μηκέτι εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα ἐκ σοῦ μηδεὶς καρπὸν φάγοι. καὶ ἤκουον οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ.

15 Καὶ ἔρχονται εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα. καὶ εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν ἤρξατο ἐκβάλλειν τοὺς πωλοῦντας καὶ τοὺς ἀγοράζοντας ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ, καὶ τὰς τραπέζας τῶν κολλυβιστῶν καὶ τὰς καθέδρας τῶν πωλούντων τὰς περιστερὰς κατέστρεψεν 16 καὶ οὐκ ἤφιεν ἵνα τις διενέγκῃ σκεῦος διὰ τοῦ ἱεροῦ, 17 καὶ ἐδίδασκεν καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς· Οὐ γέγραπται ὅτι Ὁ οἶκός μου οἶκος προσευχῆς κληθήσεται πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν; ὑμεῖς δὲ πεποιήκατε αὐτὸν σπήλαιον λῃστῶν.

Thanks to Rick from Logos and an experimental feature, I got a jumpstart. This is what the search for literary connections looks like:

Dataset Canonical Reference Relationship Noncanonical Reference
Josephus Mark 11:1 Phrase Wars 2.262
Josephus Mark 11:1 Remove Wars 2.261–263
Josephus Mark 11:1 Remove Ant 20.169–170
Josephus Mark 11:1 Topical Ant 20.169
Josephus Mark 11:1 Remove Life 269
Josephus Mark 11:2 Remove Wars 2.261–263
Nag Hammadi Codices Mark 11:8 Allusion NHC II 2, 39:29–NHC II 2, 40:2
Apostolic Fathers Mark 11:9 Topical Did 12.1
Apostolic Fathers Mark 11:9 Echo Did 10.6
Apostolic Fathers Mark 11:9 Remove Barn 6.4
Josephus Mark 11:9 Remove Wars 1.673
Josephus Mark 11:9 Remove Ant 7.40–41
Nag Hammadi Codices Mark 11:9 Allusion NHC II 2, 39:29–NHC II 2, 40:2
NT Apocrypha Mark 11:9 Remove APt 24
Dead Sea Scrolls Sectarian Material Mark 11:10 Topical 4Q174
NT Apocrypha Mark 11:10 Remove Acts Pil. 1
Josephus Mark 11:11 Topical Ant 18.90
Josephus Mark 11:11 Topical Ant 15.405

 

Mark came before some of the material here, so you have to mark that out…mark that out, I slay me… I am looking at Wars in particular.

So, we come up with at least one section, the entry into Jerusalem by the Egyptian. This is found in BJ 2.261-263:

τούτοις Φῆλιξ, ἐδόκει γὰρ ἀποστάσεως εἶναι καταβολή, πέμψας ἱππεῖς καὶ πεζοὺς ὁπλίτας πολὺ πλῆθος διέφθειρεν. Μείζονι δὲ τούτου πληγῇ Ἰουδαίους ἐκάκωσεν ὁ Αἰγύπτιος ψευδοπροφήτης· παραγενόμενος γὰρ εἰς τὴν χώραν ἄνθρωπος γόης καὶπροφήτου πίστιν ἐπιθεὶς ἑαυτῷ περὶ τρισμυρίους μὲν ἀθροίζει τῶν ἠπατημένων, περιαγαγὼν δὲ αὐτοὺς ἐκ τῆς ἐρημίας εἰς τὸ ἐλαιῶνκαλούμενον ὄρος ἐκεῖθεν οἷός τε ἦν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα παρελθεῖν βιάζεσθαι καὶ κρατήσας τῆς τε Ῥωμαϊκῆς φρουρᾶς καὶ τοῦ δήμου τυραννεῖνχρώμενος τοῖς συνεισπεσοῦσιν δορυφόροις. φθάνει δ’ αὐτοῦ τὴν ὁρμὴν Φῆλιξ ὑπαντήσας μετὰ τῶν Ῥωμαϊκῶν ὁπλιτῶν, καὶ πᾶς ὁ δῆμοςσυνεφήψατο τῆς ἀμύνης, ὥστε συμβολῆς γενομένης τὸν μὲν Αἰγύπτιον φυγεῖν μετ’ ὀλίγων, διαφθαρῆναι δὲ καὶ ζωγρηθῆναι πλείστους τῶνσὺν αὐτῷ, τὸ δὲ λοιπὸν πλῆθος σκεδασθὲν ἐπὶ τὴν ἑαυτῶν ἕκαστον διαλαθεῖν.

There are common points. Both start at the Mount of Olives. Both have friends with them. For Jesus, they are his disciples. For the Egyptian, guards. There is a multitude of people as well.

If we go further, we find a connection between Mark 11.15–17 and the siege of the Temple, with the entry by my favorite baddie, Simon bar Giora (4.570-584).

I am attracted to the Egyptian story as a literary source because of Acts 21.38–39. I think there is something in Luke, perhaps calling attention to Mark’s usage.

So, why is Mark using two literary sources, but reversed, to present the story of Jesus’s entry? Because it is apologetic. Mark does not want Jesus seen as the conquering tyrant. He wants to show how peaceful Jesus was, so he mimics (borrows) the language of Josephus so that his audience can get a sense his intent.

Jesus does not come to conquer Jerusalem. /a/Christians are not traitors or treasonous.

Jude

Jude 1:1 “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to the ones called in God the Father, having been set apart, and having been kept by Jesus Christ:”

I will admit that I have a special affinity for Jude. I think there is a lot packed into a very short letter and that it is often neglected. My favorite part of Jude though is really the first verse. Jude is introducing himself and actually makes the bold claim that he is a servant of Jesus Christ. Let that sink in. In your introductory line would those be the first words that come to mind? Is that how you would start your letter? Is that how you would identify yourself to anyone for that matter? Would you have both the boldness to proclaim such a thing and the confidence that it was true? I hope so, but I fear most of us would not.

Jude goes on to talk about how he wishes he could write about the common salvation but instead feels the need to encourage people to contend for the faith. He says the hard stuff. He encourages us to do the hard stuff. My understanding of Greek is limited, but I believe that he instructs us to struggle for the faith. Contend is often used in translation as well. Struggle is forceful. Struggle is not a peaceful vocation. It need not, and most often should not, be violent, but it is forceful. It is forceful in the way that Christ was forceful. Forceful in love, in truth and in honesty. It is being willing to say the hard things in the difficult times. It is not for the feint of heart, and and can not be done without the spirit. It is nothing less than the conviction that if the entire world were to push telling you that there was no God and Christ were a myth, that you would stare the world in the eye and say, no, you will move. I know Truth. Would you do this? Would I? I hope so, but I fear not.

So much more great stuff in Jude and I encourage you to read and study it, but I am going to fast forward to the end. Jude 1:24-25 ” Now to Him being able to keep you without stumbling, and to set you before His glory without blemish, with unspeakable joy;  to the only wise God, our Savior, be glory and majesty and might and authority, even now and forever. Amen.” Is this how your letter ends? Are these the thoughts at the end of every conversation and interaction? Don’t we all think “thank God it is over” to much and not “thank God it began” enough? Don’t we try to praise ourselves, and each other for a job well done to often and not God enough? Don’t we often roll our eyes when we hear people give God the credit and be secretly thankful we are not one of “those Christians”? Jude starts by identifying himself as a servant of Jesus and ends by praising God as deserving of glory and, in fact, being the ultimate authority. Is that how your letter would end? Is it how mine would? Perhaps a rewrite is in order for most of us. a rewrite that  follows Jude’s beginning and ending and having a healthy dose of what is in the middle.

 

Book Notice: Galatians and Christian Theology: Justification, the Gospel, and Ethics in Paul’s Letter @bakeracademic

How did I miss this? 

The letter to the Galatians is a key source for Pauline theology as it presents Paul’s understanding of justification, the gospel, and many topics of keen contemporary interest. In this volume, some of the world’s top Christian scholars offer cutting-edge scholarship on how Galatians relates to theology and ethics.

The stellar list of contributors includes John Barclay, Beverly Gaventa, Richard Hays, Bruce McCormack, and Oliver O’Donovan. As they emphasize the contribution of Galatians to Christian theology and ethics, the contributors explore how exegesis and theology meet, critique, and inform each other.

Contents

Part 1: Justification
1. Messiahship in Galatians? N. T. Wright
2. Paul’s Former Occupation in Ioudaismos Matthew V. Novenson
3. Galatians in the Early Church: Five Case Studies Karla Pollmann and Mark W. Elliott
4. Justification and Participation: Ecumenical Dimensions of Galatians Thomas Söding
5. Arguing with Scripture in Galatia: Galatians 3:10-14 as a Series of Ad Hoc Arguments Timothy G. Gombis
6. Martin Luther on Galatians 3:6-14: Justification by Curses and Blessings Timothy Wengert
7. Yaein: Yes and No to Luther’s Reading of Galatians 3:6-14 Scott Hafemann
8. “Not an Idle Quality or an Empty Husk in the Heart”: A Critique of Tuomo Mannermaa on Luther and Galatians Javier A. Garcia
9. Judaism, Reformation Theology, and Justification Mark W. Elliott
10. Can We Still Speak of “Justification by Faith”? An In-House Debate with Apocalyptic Readings of Paul Bruce McCormack

Part 2: Gospel
11. The Singularity of the Gospel Revisited Beverly Roberts Gaventa
12. Apocalyptic Poiēsis in Galatians: Paternity, Passion, and Participation Richard B. Hays
13. “Now and Above; Then and Now” (Gal. 4:21-31): Platonizing and Apocalyptic Polarities in Paul’s Eschatology Michael B. Cover
14. Christ in Paul’s Narrative: Salvation History, Apocalyptic Invasion, and Supralapsarian TheologyEdwin Chr. van Driel
15. “In the Fullness of Time” (Gal. 4:4): Chronology and Theology in Galatians Todd D. Still
16. Karl Barth and “The Fullness of Time”: Eternity and Divine Intent in the Epistle to the GalatiansDarren O. Sumner
17. “Heirs through God”: Galatians 4:4-7 and the Doctrine of the Trinity Scott R. Swain

Part 3: Ethics
18. Flesh and Spirit Oliver O’Donovan
19. “Indicative and Imperative” as the Substructure of Paul’s Theology-and-Ethics in Galatians?: A Discussion of Divine and Human Agency in Paul Volker Rabens
20. Grace and the Countercultural Reckoning of Worth: Community Construction in Galatians 5-6John M. G. Barclay
21. Paul’s Exhortations in Galatians 5:16-25: From the Apostle’s Techniques to His Theology Jean-Noël Aletti
22. The Drama of Agency: Affective Augustinianism and Galatians Simeon Zahl
23. Life in the Spirit and Life in Wisdom: Reading Galatians and James as a Dialogue Mariam J. Kamell
Indexes