Review of @FortressPress’s Introduction to the History of Christianity (on @inkling)

Fortress Press is moving Christian education in the classroom beyond the four walls, the dry erase boards, and the dead trees of textbooks to something rich and vibrant, something that is going to grasp the imagination of the student. Tim Dowley’s (editor) Introduction to the History of Christianity is not simply an “e-book” but a multi-media experience. It moves beyond the portability offered by Kindle and iBook to something the teacher and student can both use to share and in many ways reimagine the words on the virtual page.

I cannot strictly limit this review to the contents of the book; however, as this is something of a book review, I want to speak, albeit ever so briefly, about what is before us. This is the second edition of the book, enhanced from the previous one by additions to the narrative of Jesus (in the form of contributions from well-known critical scholars such as Richard Burridge). There are plenty of color charts, maps, and pictures to stimulate you as well as small helps along the way. Further, as I explore certain topics that are dear to me, I find these topics are often presented with an acute sense of fairness. For instance, the topic on Methodism. Here, Dowley correctly situations Wesley and his people in the proper time frame, proper theological dialogues, and helps to draw out their influence on (American) Christianity. Likewise, Dowley’s even-handedness doesn’t end with Methodism, but continues on with such things as Vatican II. I must note that this is the first such book to spend even a brief moment on the rise of mythicism (p25). Also, Dowley doesn’t just pay lip-service to the East, but brings them into the picture equally with the West. The skill of the editor and the contributors can be seen throughout the 43 chapters. No doubt, this is one of the more extensive and important church history introductions available to student and autodidact alike.

But, the Inkling platform avails us of something more. It gives us an interactive experience. Not only can I take the books wherever I go, but they are linked to other internet sources including Youtube and CCEL. Thus, what was once one book has now become a virtual library of resources and a wealth of information on a multi-media rostrum. Yes, like Kindle and other platforms, there is the synchronization of notes and highlights, but unlike Kindle, there is a social aspect to it. In a classroom, you can actually utilize this book to aid in discussion by sharing notes, thoughts, and other items via the Inkling system. Thus,  students and the teacher(s) can dialogue even in the comfort of their own home. It’s like social media, but helpful.

Inkling also provides for a multimedia experience when it comes to maps. They boast, and rightly so, of a “guided tour” when it comes to the maps. Honestly, the best part of a bible were the maps when I was growing up. Now — now! Fortress Press gives me maps (and charts) in stereo! There is the ability to zoom in, to open pop-ups, and they even throw in thematic material. For example, on the chart “Beginnings,” I get a neat timeline between 0 and 325, complete with Roman figures, evens from the New Testament, and early Christian writings. There are 5 pop ups, each with added material. I’ve taken a screenshot below:



At the end of each section (each section has several chapters), there is an assessment. These will not supplement a rigorous testing but will help the student to retain something of where things are in the book.

I have spent some time with this book, introducing it to others and in use in a classroom setting. It is beyond helpful for survey courses, small group studies, and even larger group studies. I have the Inkling iOS app. There are plenty of times, when I stream it to my tv via Apple TV. Further, pastors should be able to set it up via projector for larger gatherings.

There has to be an evolution of learning tools. Books, while they will forever remain with us, will never be the complete resource they once were. By combining technology, the information age, and the conceptual age, Fortress Press and Inkling have given teachers, students, and autodidacts something that will push the classroom experience to new heights.

Review: Bonhoeffer Works Vol 14 @fortresspress

Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 14: Theological Education at Finkenwalde: 1935-1937

Author: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Editor: H. Gaylon Barker and Mark S. Brocker

Hardcover: 1258 pages

Publisher: Fortress Press, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8006-9835-3

Fortress Press


It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Bonhoeffer’s works. So, it should surprise anyone that I received a review copy of Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 14 from Augsburg Fortress.

The book is split into three parts. Part 1 contains 154 letters and documents, both to and from Bonhoeffer. Part 2 contains exercises, lectures, and essays written by Bonhoeffer f. Part 3 contains sermons and meditations written by Bonhoeffer. The books is pretty evenly divided between letters and other writings (about half the book is letters with the other half being the other writings.)

The piece that I found most interesting was Bonhoeffer’s Lecture and Discussion on the Power of the Keys and Church Discipline (beginning on page 825). I found this piece to be interesting because of its proximity in writing to my favorite of Bonhoeffer’s works, Discipleship. One of the things that drew me to this particular piece is that we can see Bonhoeffer formulating pieces of Discipleship. This also allows us to see the development of Bonhoeffer’s ideas that later became a part of Discipleship.

There is a lot in this volume, but one aspect that I liked about this volume was the incorporation of the student notes found in Part 2.  For example, there are notes on Article XVI of the Augsburg Confession (337). From the footnotes, we know that these notes were taken by a student maned Joachim Kanitz. And Eberhard Bethge’s corresponding notes have this lecture given on July 15, 1935. It should come as little surprise that most of the student notes found in this volume are from Eberhard Bethge; however, if you spend some time looking through the different student notes, you will come across the names of other students. I personally thought this was interesting because it adds a new dimension to Bonhoeffer’s works, especially during his time teaching at the seminary. It’s not just Bonhoeffer’s words that we have here, but also the words of his students.

This is an excellent resource for those studying Bonhoeffer. There are a plethora footnotes that cross-reference other letters/papers/documents in this volume as well as other volumes in the series. My only complaint with the volume is there are several items that were published in the Nachlaß Dietrich Bonhoeffer that are not included in the English edition. Those items not included can be found in Apendix 6 (1043). All told, this is another excellent volume in the series!

I received this book free from Fortress Press. Providing me a free copy in no way guarantees a favorable review. The opinions expresses in this review are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

In the Mail: @DeGruyter_TRS “The Rewritten Scrolls from Qumran: Texts, Translation, and Commentary (Beihefte Zur Zeitschrift Fur Die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft) “

Among the unknown Jewish writings that emerged from the caves of Qumran are five scrolls rewriting the Book of Joshua. The present volume offers a detailed analysis of these texts and explores their relationship with each other and other Second Temple Jewish writings concerned with the figure of Joshua. The first full-blown study of this group of scrolls, this book is of interest to students and scholars working in the fields of the Dead Sea scrolls and ancient Jewish biblical interpretation.

Part of my dissertation is looking at rewriting… so this will come in handy, I believe.

In the Mail: @DeGruyter_TRS “A Textual Study of Family 1 in the Gospel of John (Arbeiten Zur Neutestamentlichen)”

This textual study of the Gospel of John in seventeen Greek manuscripts offers a fresh investigation into the important textual group known as Family 1. The study, based on a full collation of the seventeen manuscripts, has re-defined the textual contours of Family 1, by establishing the existence of new core family manuscripts and subgroups. The study includes a reconstructed Family 1 text with critical apparatus for the Gospel of John.

And from here:

This is a textual study of seventeen Family 1 manuscripts in the Gospel of John: Gregory-Aland 1, 22, 118, 131, 205abs, 205, 209, 565, 872, 884, 1192, 1210, 1278, 1582, 2193, 2372, and 2713. Part 1 contains an analysis of a full collation of these manuscripts in John and concludes with a family stemma that expresses the relationships between the manuscripts and how they connect to the non-extant Family 1 archetype. Part 2 contains a reconstructed Family 1 text with critical apparatus for John. The results of this thesis confirm that 1 and 1582 are leading Family 1 manuscripts in John, but demonstrate that a new subgroup exists, represented by 565, 884 and 2193, that rivals the textual witness of 1 and 1582. This subgroup descends from the Family 1 archetype through a different intermediate ancestor to that shared by 1 and 1582. The discovery of this subgroup has broadened the textual contours of Family 1, leading to many new readings, both text and marginal, that should be considered Family 1 readings. The reconstructed text is based on the witness of this wider textual group and is offered as a replacement to Kirsopp Lake’s 1902 text of John.

Can’t wait to dig into this one.

Review of @FortressPress’s “Resurrection as Anti-Imperial Gospel”

In my opinion, there has been a lack of convincing exploration of Paul’s use of evaggelion as an anti-imperialist statement, with scholars often allowing to be a reference to Isaiah. However, as is shown by others as they explore the Gospel of Mark, this Greek word may in fact represent something more than a passing reference is Isaiah, but a direct challenge to Imperial Rome with their own proclamations of the good news of Pax Romana. Edward Pillar is going to challenge the normative approach to the Pauline evaggelion and with this book, turn empire critical interpretation on its head.

The argument is simple enough, to show that Paul’s stance on the Resurrection is clouded by the imperialism of Rome. To do this, he breaks down 1 Thess 1.9b-10, aligning it next to imperial propaganda and reality. Piller’s work shows a remarkable advancement in interpreting the New Testament via the lens of anti-imperial rhetoric by getting to the earliest use of the evaggelion. He begins by evaluating claims that a belief in a bodily resurrection was somewhat common place, such as the view espoused by John Dominic Crossan. Pardon the pun, but he quickly and successfully lays this to rest by showing what Greeks and Romans thought of a bodily resurrection. It was not merely another proclamation of a resurrection that moved the early Christian communities, but a truly unique proclamation that “irretrievably subverted” the social order. This was, as Pillar shows, because the proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus was itself unique because it included a body, among other attributes.

To further complicate any resistance to seeing anti-imperial rhetoric in the New Testament, Pillar throws out the use by the Apostle of epistreps. Pillar’s focus on this singular word takes us through Paul’s literary corpus as well as “what might have been” where we can understand the choice of a particular word here indicates a particular purpose. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 examines why idols are mentioned in comparison to the “living and true God” as well as what it means to serve such a deity. Imagine standing on a street in Rome, complete with idols in the markets, around people’s necks, and standing watch over the passers-by. How can we then not recognize the weight of “idols” in this passage as anything but a direct attack on the social order of the day? The final three chapters delve deep into what it means to wait (6) for the son from the heavens (7) to return and rescue us (8). Like the previous section, Pillar again seeks to focus on a particular, and peculiar, use of a word when Paul could have just as easily used something common. Here, it is apekdekomai and rhyomai.

In chapter 8, his argument becomes entangled with the historical Jesus. I want to call special attention to his argument here. He asserts that when Paul mentions “Jesus” without a title, he is speaking directly about the historical Jesus, calling to his witness the use of “Jesus” only in 1 Th 4.14 and 2 Co 4.11-14. Pillar is, as he has been throughout the entire work, careful to draw attention to the peculiarity of Paul’s writing and his selection of words. In doing so, we are able to meet the Jesus of history in Paul’s first letter (to the Thessalonians) divorced from highly theologized titles such as “Lord” and “Christ.” If he is correct about Paul’s use of “Jesus” only, then Pillar has opened the door up to a deep and sincere reconsideration of the historical Jesus.  Further, Pillar’s argument regarding rhyomai will not be welcomed by those who do not agree with the anti-imperialism rhetoric in the New Testament; however, it again opens doors for those are seeking to investigate the ransom Jesus offered.

Edward Pillar has opened up a wide door into not only anti-imperialist rhetoric in Paul, but so too in the study of the historical Jesus. He cements his research with solid data and a fine-tuned methodology that does not allow for overly imaginative fantasies. My only complaint is that he seems to do so without consulting existing scholarship on this very topic and from this very angle in the Gospels. Other than that, and it is more of a personal thing, Pillar’s work is by far one of the most eye-opening books on anti-imperial rhetoric in the New Testament in a long, long time.

Review of @ivpacademic’s “Theology Questions Everyone Asks: Christian Faith in Plain Language”

All but one of the twelve contributors is a member of the faculty of Wheaton College, easily the most identifiable institution of higher learning associated with modern American evangelicalism. When you see this, it will either worry you or fill you with security. Allow it to do neither. What the contributors have accomplished is not something that pushes one theological agenda, but attempts to answer the tougher questions posed by students, insiders, and outsiders — but with often times tougher answers than expected. Indeed, what is proved here is not just the worth of Wheaton, but the value of the intellectual tradition within American evangelicalism.

The twelve (symbolism?) topics selected for this book include,

  • What is Christianity? (answered by Timothy Larson)
  • How Does God Relate to the World? (answered by Gregory W. Lee)
  • What is Salvation? (answered by Keith L. Johnson)
  • How Should I Live? (answered by Vincent Bacote)
  • What is the Christian Hope? (answered by Beth Felker Jones)

I have selected these five, because I feel they give the best overview of the agenda of the book.

In Timothy Larson’s response, he aims to answer the simple question of what is Christianity. He suggests Christianity is not asking about the minimum requirements necessary, but “a commitment to orthodoxy.” (18) He recommends denying “unbelief” but turning to God to “become more truly Christian.” For him, it seems, the commitment to orthodoxy does not allow for reconsiderations and considerations within the Christian community. I find this troubling given the times segments of Christian has changed what it means to be orthodox. But, these are his most distressing viewpoints, his most strict limits. The rest of his chapter takes on the myths of secularization, science v. religion, and what it means to be an evangelical (I am not one, but he is). Larson’s chapter does not condemn openly those who oppose him, but sets out how to act and operate under a commitment to (evangelical) orthodoxy. I would like to suggest he is somehow wrong, but in the end, Christianity is not a religionless faith, but one with orthodox principles, doctrines, and even dogmas that should be adhered to because they inform us of who and what we are as Christians.

Gregory W. Lee suggests that science and faith are not opposed to one another (something of a hidden theme in the book). Sure, I disagree with him and other theologians, about ex nihilio, but by no means should we take him as a Young Earther. Rather, he is simply asserting God created the cosmos and as such, created reason and the laws reason has discovered. By this standard, Lee moves to side with Augustine and others in allowing that strictly wooden interpretations of Scripture are simply dogmatic assumptions that hinder faith more than preserve it. In fact, Lee argues for the allowance of evolution, citing the great minds of Fundamentalism and does so within a solid Evangelical framework. After this he moves into the free will v. determinism debate. Instead of delivering a soft, one-sided after, speaks to and upholds as important the tension between these two sides!

“Salvation is a trinitarian event,” Keith L. Johnson declares (120). I can hear this ringing in my ears, I believe, finding something of the author’s hidden shout still languishing on the pages. It is as loud as the day Johnson first wrote it down and I suspect will continue to echo through the run of this work. I do not intend any hint of hyperbolism or sarcasm. Indeed, Johnson’s article correctly summarizes the Christian salvic experience as one that incorporates all of the persons of the Trinity, even if I find his substitutionary atonement model rather limited.

Chapter 11, “How Should I Live?”, begins by defining what is “the world” and how a proper creation theology can have an impact on living here. Some readers will find Bacote’s understanding here a little stretched but if you read his chapter to the end, it becomes more clear. Even reading his section on politics should help the reader to understand there are different views about the world and our involvement, sometimes arising from the immediate contexts. His solution seems to be to become involved to the point of Scripture. He tackles several topics (military service, political party affiliation) and ends with the same answer, justice. While his take may seem distinctly American, it is better conceived as an examination of the life of a Christian under a democratic state where political participation is a prescribed part of the duty of the citizen.

Finally, Beth Felker Jones speaks to the hope of the Christian. Kingdom now, hell, and the such. This chapter, as you must expect, is filled with several questions and thus seems a bit choppy. However, Jones doesn’t need a lot of space to answer the questions. Some questions, well intentioned, deserves a simple “No.” Others, such as ones on hell get fuller treatment. Indeed, in her treatment of hell and the final judgment, she makes room for the minority voices, suggesting that while she believes with the majority, she is careful to listen to those of us who do not. Plus, she is careful to couch her theology in “Western Christianity,” knowing, I suspect, Eastern Orthodoxy differs from her.

As I said, the answers are rarely simple and soft. More than likely, you will find yourself with more questions, but I do believe that is the hallmark of good theology and good theological professors. While some contributors do gave a matter-of-fact answer, others give answers for your choosing with whispered instructions to tolle lege. And why not? Do we need set-in-stone answers or do we need to teach and to be taught how to think about these tough questions? I’d go with the thinking game that should be theology. Personally, this has raised my level of respect for Wheaton and many of these professors. Overall, a fantastic book for Evangelicals and Mainliners alike, for Americans and even the wayward Canadian.

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in the email from @FortressPress, Introduction to World Religions (@inkling)

You can find it here.

Introduction to World Religions: Second Edition addresses ways to study religion and provides broad coverage of diverse religions. Using the full text of the print textbook plus chapter summaries and primary sources from the Study Companion,this Inkling interactive Textbook also provides over 25 audio and video clips; poptips and call-out boxes; guided tour and slideshow images; self-texts; social note-taking; and full-text searching, bookmarks, and highlighting features.

Can’t wait to dig into this one!

Blog Tour: “Can We Still Believe the Bible?” – Chapter 2 @BrazosPress

I have had several online engagements with Dr. Craig Blomberg over the course of several blogs, dealing with my previous venture of defending the New Living Translation (I’ve read ahead to chapter 3, and his take on the NLT is welcomed). Therefore, I was hesitant at first about accepting the offer to participate in the blog tour. After all, just after reading the title, I felt like I could guess his direction – so why should I even investigate what I already knew I knew? Isn’t that really the crux of the argument many have with Scripture? They already know they know more than enough about it, they know they know how it came together, and they know they know it is all stories. Further, when it comes to canon, most already known it is either God or Rome manipulating the texts. We insulate ourselves with our self-assured knowledge, don’t we?

From the start, I know I will disagree with Dr. Blomberg over many aspects of the canon, including dating and whether or not these are “human books.” I am a Mainline Christian; Dr. Blomberg is an Evangelical. We are going to differ as to what it means to have Scripture as authoritative. In reading my chapter, I tried not to take issue with the more overly Evangelical aspects of it. Rather, my interest in this chapter is how does he deal with the extrinsic v. intrinsic model of canon formation. Here, I think, we will find some agreement, in that we both agree the extrinsic model is simply not what happened. I greatly value Dr. Blomberg’s contributions to my understanding of canonical formation, even if I disagree with him over other things.

In the beginning, it was not Constantine. Rather, the formation of the canon was not guided by an external human hand. As such, books outside the canon are not suppressed, repressed, or otherwise. They are outside the canon for a variety of reasons. The notion that somehow Constantine had the power to create the canon is nonsensical.

And this is how Blomberg begins. He sets his course by first establishing the false hermeneutical suspicions of David Dungan and Bart Ehrman. Both see something of a break between orthodox Christianity and early Christianity around the time of Constantine. This hypothesis, our author points out, is untenable given the amount of orthodox writings we have from even before the emergence of the canon (44)! While dabblers in political ideology may find some security against Christian orthodoxy in promoting such a rather impossible break, Blomberg is able to, in a few short lines, show why it is an illogical position. All of this, we agree on.

It is when Blomberg begins to tackle the canonical formation of the Old Testament we suffer some harm in our unity. Not all of them are worth mentioning, so I will focus on the aspects causing me the most concern. His exclusion of the Deuterocanon (by my use of this word, you should know how I will fall on this discussion) to something that is Roman Catholic and/or Orthodox is simply poor history. Trent did not create the Roman Catholic canon as he states (47-8). Such a council doesn’t explain the Orthodox’s acceptance of the hidden books, after all. Further, these books didn’t simply become “valued in early Christianity, especially after the time of Constantine.” St. Jerome (347–420) is the first to really level a charge against them, although Melito of Sardis (c.180) did voice his concerns several centuries earlier. In the mean time, and long before Constantine, Christian writers employed Baruch, Wisdom, Sirach, and other books in their theological discourses. I would suggest any value that seems to develop after Constantine is because these books were under suspicion thanks to Jerome. Further, these books, as often is the charge by Evangelical apologists, are not the only books used to teach “purgatory or praying for dead” in either the Catholic or the Orthodox churches.

Blomberg is correct, however, that Jewish writers and theologians around the time of Jesus did refer to collections of books deemed authoritative. Further, in much of Judaism, we do not find license for the books used by early Christians, sans the New Testament. Of course, the Sadducees did not use anything save the Torah, but I do not see a rush to rid ourselves of those books they deemed apostate. In the end, however, Blomberg’s section on Old Testament serves to show that the charge of a political hand in the formation of the Old Testament canon is simply ludicrous. While he and I may disagree about a few things, Blomberg offers the correct framework for canon formation. It was a matter of narrative theology (52-4).

He begins to tackle the New Testament canon by correctly suggesting that regardless of whether one dates the books either early or late, they are still the earliest Christian writings (except for the Didache). Further, he is absolutely correct about the level of discussion aimed at the books included in the canon, although I would not classify the discussion aimed at the Pastorals and their ilk as “a little extra.” (54–5). His own discussion of this will yield no surprises as to why he thinks there were included.

He gives the traditional marks of canonicity. They are apostolic witness, catholicity, and orthodoxy. There is nothing inherently wrong with these characteristics, although one should wonder if the marks are germane to the canon or written into history as an excuse for the selected works. Here, he allows that Ehrman and Dungan are somewhat correct, that orthodoxy did win out; however, they are orthodox because they won. Blomberg also shows, via some help by recent canon defender Michael Kruger, the inconsistency of those who suspect of historical suppression in the formation of the canon. Regardless, Blomberg delivers quite well here, albeit my Gnostic friends may find it somewhat difficult to take. My only real issue is with the defence of orthodoxy as a criterion.

My concern is that in the way it is written and often portrayed, it seems the mark of orthodoxy is an extrinsic force acting upon Scripture. While some may see that as a positive proposition, I do not believe it accurately explains either the role Scripture has on orthodoxy or orthodoxy on Scripture. Further, like some of the criterion used to discuss the historical Jesus, it is based on the flimsiest suggestion. Blomberg maintains that the reason the 27 books are orthodox is because they exhibited the “best… continuity between the prophetic roles of the Old Testament and their fulfillment in the life and times of Jesus and his first followers.” (61) I believe there is an entire religion that would find fault with Blomberg’s premise here. This notion of continuity, however, is important for what I believe is a better approach to canonization, and it is a notion he returns to later in the chapter.

At this point, Blomberg delves into apologetics of Jesus as Messiah (62), something that is a bit distracting, but he quickly recovers by comparing the closed narrative of the New Testament to the rather open, and expecting, narrative of the Old Testament. For those who study the great Greco-Roman epics, this formulation Blomberg presents must ring familiar and equally, must be accepted as something as found in other works of literature. Here, he is marvelously brilliant.

However, I wish he would have spent more time on this rather than moving on to self-attestation. Such a move does not mean something is true, inspired, or whatever word we choose to apply to it. His argument (63–4) is rather weak, although I believe he acknowledges this by calling it a “much more subjective criterion.” As such, I do not feel a response his needed, except to say he provides the expected answer on inspiration.

I find myself so frustrated with Blomberg’s apparent Evangelicalism but then he hits the nail so squarely on the head, I’m back in awe of his masterful work. This is very true in reading The Process of Canonization (64–8). Yes, I disagree with him about dates, about the interpretation of John, and the connection between oral Jesus tradition and the written Gospels, but his argument about the self-attestation between 1 Timothy and Luke and between 2 Peter and the (undetermined) Pauline Corpus is exactly what I am looking for when reading this book. The New Testament itself speaks of canonization, long before official lists were promulgated. Further, his use of the Apostolic Fathers to bear witness, not just to the canon, but so too to orthodoxy (66) is quite logical.

His position on Rehabilitating the Gnostic Texts is surprisingly open. By that, I mean he suggests to the reader to simply “access the texts of these documents, read them, and decide for themselves.” (68). If the reader of Scripture is even barely awake, he or she will see a remarkable difference between the canonical texts and the gnostic texts, something Blomberg demonstrates easily enough. Even the work attributed to Thomas (70–4) valued by so many today is vastly different than the closest canonical treatment (Mark). I note at this juncture the dovetail that Blomberg’s argument of a continuing narrative from the Jewish Scriptures the Christian works present as compared to that of the Gnostic works (73).

At the close of each chapter, our author includes a section to help the reader avoid the opposite extreme, a fallacy too many are engaged in. In this section, he presents a welcomed and much needed response to biblicalism, something he contends is not in the Evangelical worldview. His challenges here to both the liberal and ultra-conservatives are spot on and, I find myself wishing, stressed more and more. In the end, Blomberg presents such a strong and pointed challenge to the biblicalism taking holding in Evangelical I found myself wondering if he will be able to long remain calling himself such.

Final Reflections:

I cannot help but to approach this chapter from my perspective for a recovering fundamentalist previously beset with biblicalism and a mainliner (UMC) with strong Catholic tendances in my view of Scripture. Rather than sola scriptura, I believe in prima scriptura. Regardless of how I may disagree with Blomberg about dates and why some books were excluded the the Protestant canon, I find much to affirm in his stances on canon formation, self-attestation in the New Testament to an early shaping of authoritative books, as well as budding literological designs about orthodoxy and finalization of the canonical process. Indeed, in this single chapter, I believe Blomberg has written a well versed argument against the supposed conspiracy of Constantinian orthodoxy as the extrinsic force for canonization and did so without having to rely upon the old cliche of “God did it” I’ve found in recent canonical premises.

I’ve let this review sit for a while to allow further reflection. Blomberg, even with his conservative/liberal divide so pronounced he is ridiculously close to a solution all scholars must recognize as tenable. He has laid down a solid path forward in discussing, without vast conspiracy theories or illogical attacks on the canon and orthodoxy, how an intrinsic model of canonization, especially of the New Testament is not just better but provable. While Blomberg never really offers who the non-political manipulation allows us to “believe the bible,” he offers us a deeply intellectual position for understanding the canonization of Holy Writ — and it is thoroughly enjoyable.

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In the Mail: @ivpacademic’s Christian Political Witness

Thanks to IVP-Academic for sending this along:

“My kingdom is not of this world.” Followers of Jesus have been struggling to understand these words ever since he first uttered them—often in sharply contradictory ways. Today the inescapably political nature of Christian witness is widely recognized. But what is the shape of this witness? What should Christian political engagement look like today? The twelve essays in this volume, originally presented at the 2013 Wheaton Theology Conference, present biblical, historical and theological proposals for thinking responsibly about the intersection of church and state in the contemporary cultural situation. Prophetic and pastoral, this book offers a fresh look at a crucial and contested dimension of the Christian life.

Contributors include:
Stanley Hauerwas
Mark Noll
Scot McKnight
Timothy G. Gombis
George Kalantzis
Jana Marguerite Bennett
William T. Cavanaugh
Peter J. Leithart
Daniel M. Bell Jr.
Jennifer M. McBride
David P. Gushee
Bishop David Gitari

Check out some of the features on the publisher’s website.

Coming Next Week – Blog Tour for “Can We Still Believe the Bible”

I am deeply honored to participate by invitation in this blog tour:


Click the Link for the Website

Challenges to the reliability of Scripture are perennial and have frequently been addressed. However, some of these challenges are noticeably more common today, and the topic is currently of particular interest among evangelicals.

In this volume, highly regarded biblical scholar Craig Blomberg offers an accessible and nuanced argument for the Bible’s reliability in response to the extreme views about Scripture and its authority articulated by both sides of the debate. He believes that a careful analysis of the relevant evidence shows we have reason to be more confident in the Bible than ever before. As he traces his own academic and spiritual journey, Blomberg sketches out the case for confidence in the Bible in spite of various challenges to the trustworthiness of Scripture, offering a positive, informed, and defensible approach.

To read an excerpt from the book, click here.

I’ve got Chapter 2, “Wasn’t the Selection of the Books for the Canon Just Political?”

You’ll note this fits in with my project paper for a future publication.

Methodism in “Introduction to the History of Christianity” (@inkling, @fortresspress)

If you are familiar with what this is, it is a book produced by Fortress Press for the Inkling online platform. The book I am reviewing, Introduction to the History of Christianity, can be found here. As United Methodist, standing in the Wesleyan tradition, I always like to see how books relate the history here. Some recent introductions and church histories have simply glossed over the people called Methodists in favor of the Reformed. I am please to see such a fine presentation of Wesley and his followers.

I can read it on my Mac, but I really prefer the iPad since it is my tool of choice in reading the various platforms. One thing that I really like about having it on the iPad is that I can download only the chapter I need. So, if I am giving a lecture, talk or otherwise, I need not worry about space, etc… I can simply find the chapter I want and have it alone on my iPad. I’ve attached some photos of what is going on and they just happen to be a snippet of how Tim Dowley (the editor) has chosen to represent Methodism.

And it is awesome.



The knowledge/question box is interactive. You press the little button to reveal/hide the answer


This is an image from my Mac – simply because as I write this post, I wanted to check out more about Wesley. This is part of the testing feature found in the Inkling version:

inkling test methodism

Correctly, they note the rise of Methodism as the rise of (proper) evangelicalism. They connect it to the social issues of the time, citing how Methodism was related to abolitionism. But more than that, John Wesley is presented as the man scholars know he was. Further, they properly note the Moravian influence upon his life. Finally, they note the continued influence of Methodism on Christianity in the West.