Tag Archives: Oxford University Press

in the mail: @OUPAcademic’s “”A New Gospel for Women: Katharine Bushnell and the Challenge of Christian Feminism”

Thanks to Oxford University Press for this free review copy

A New Gospel for Women tells the story of Katharine Bushnell (1855-1946), author of God’s Word to Women, one of the most innovative and comprehensive feminist theologies ever written. An internationally-known social reformer and women’s rights activist, Bushnell rose to prominence through her highly publicized campaigns against prostitution and the trafficking of women in America, in colonial India, and throughout East Asia. In each of these cases, the intrepid reformer struggled to come to terms with the fact that it was Christian men who were guilty of committing acts of appalling cruelty against women. Ultimately, Bushnell concluded that Christianity itself – or rather, the patriarchal distortion of true Christianity – must be to blame.

A work of history, biography, and historical theology, Kristin Kobes DuMez’s book provides a vivid account of Bushnell’s life. It maps a concise introduction to her fascinating theology, revealing, for example, Bushnell’s belief that gender bias tainted both the King James and the Revised Versions of the English Bible. As Du Mez demonstrates, Bushnell insisted that God created women to be strong and independent, that Adam, not Eve, bore responsibility for the Fall, and that it was through Christ, “the great emancipator of women,” that women would achieve spiritual and social redemption.

A New Gospel for Women restores Bushnell to her rightful place in history. It illuminates the dynamic and often thorny relationship between faith and feminism in modern America by mapping Bushnell’s story and her subsequent disappearance from the historical record. Most pointedly, the book reveals the challenges confronting Christian feminists today who wish to construct a sexual ethic that is both Christian and feminist, one rooted not in the Victorian era, but rather one suited to the modern world.

In the Mail from @OUPAcademic, “The Jewish Study Bible: Second Edition”

From the official listing:

  • Informative essays that address a wide variety of topics relating to Judaism’s use and interpretation of the Bible throughout the ages
  • Section and book introductions that deliver insights into the background, structure, and meaning of the text
  • Running commentary beside the biblical text that provides in-depth theological interpretation
  • Features the Jewish Publication Society TANAKH translation
  • Full-color Oxford Bible maps
  • Verse and chapter differences between the Hebrew text and many English translations
  • Table of Scriptural readings for synagogue use
  • Glossary of technical terms

First published in 2004, The Jewish Study Bible is a landmark, one-volume resource tailored especially for the needs of students of the Hebrew Bible. It has won acclaim from readers in all religious traditions.

The Jewish Study Bible combines the entire Hebrew Bible–in the celebrated Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation–with explanatory notes, introductory materials, and essays by leading biblical scholars on virtually every aspect of the text, the world in which it was written, its interpretation, and its role in Jewish life. The quality of scholarship, easy-to-navigate format, and vibrant supplementary features bring the ancient text to life.

This second edition includes revised annotations for nearly the entire Bible, as well as forty new and updated essays on many of the issues in Jewish interpretation, Jewish worship in the biblical and post-biblical periods, and the influence of the Hebrew Bible in the ancient world.

The Jewish Study Bible, Second Edition, is an essential resource for anyone interested in the Hebrew Bible.

More can be found here.

It is an increase of about 180 pages above the previous version.

By far, it is already an improvement upon something that was near perfect. More later.

Review: Christopher Bryan, The Resurrection of the Messiah

bryan resurrection of the messiah
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With a special thanks to John C. Poirier for this review:

Christopher Bryan, The Resurrection of the Messiah (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), reviewed by John C. Poirier.

Christopher Bryan’s The Resurrection of the Messiah is structured in three parts, not counting the extensive (= eight) “additional notes”. The first part (“The Setting”) presents background historical information pertaining to the doctrine of the resurrection – less thoroughly, of course, than some recent studies – but in proper proportion to the rest of the book. The second part (“Witnesses”) discusses the resurrection passages in the New Testament, devoting a separate chapter to Paul and to each of the gospels. This section borrows the format of a running commentary, and reads in a way very similar to some of the less detailed, narrativally focused commentaries (Harper’s, etc.). The effect of having five chapters deal with separate writings in this way is interesting – it’s almost as though someone took parts of five commentaries and put them together. This undoubtedly was an easier way for Bryan to deal with the topic, but it also presents the discussion in a way that serves well for future reference. The third part of the book (“Questioning the Witnesses”) provides a synthesis and theological commentary on the second part. The “Additional Notes” engage topics that might have been discussed in parts one and three.

The Resurrection of the Messiah has as one of its objects a measured response to various scholarly attempts to dismiss the resurrection, or to re-theologize it in potentially docetic ways. In the face of these challenges, Bryan does a good job of keeping the reader’s construal of the New Testament’s claims tied to the apostles’ presentation of the gospel. He could have said more along these lines – that is, he could have engaged a few more challenges on this front – but what he does he does well. One of the enjoyable aspects of this book is that its author knows when he has dealt sufficiently with a given point.

Although the book engages other scholars, it seems to be aimed at a somewhat beginning level of academic reader. It seldom breaks new ground. It does, however, present its arguments well, in a modest tone, and with a good sense of the reader’s needs. One could, of course, imagine a more rigorous engagement of many of this book’s points, but that seems not to be this book’s purpose. The style of the commentary section within this book establishes its limited range of engagement with the facts of historical context, philology, etc. The author’s goal, it seems, is never to let incidental details get in the way of a simple argument. The book’s theological burden, I believe, justifies this approach.

This is a good book for anyone considering the place of Jesus’ resurrection in NT theology.


Mark 9.42-48 – Sexual Discipline and Child Molesters, of which there is no hope

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In a recent class, I heard someone say that the bible doesn’t speak to sexual ethics. I was, well, stunned. How utterly stupid. But, I digress. One of the many helpful insights which I found in the NOAB NRSV are snippets of information such as this:

“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell., And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” (Mar 9:42-50 NRS)

According to rabbinical language, Christ is speaking to sexual discipline. You can find more of the explanation here. (Actually, at that link, there are a lot of good thoughts about sexual discipline, but I don’t feel like exploring them at the moment)

Of particular note is v42 which speaks to children. The NOAB notes that rabbinical literature has the same language and it is speaking of sexual abuse of children.

I notice something here. Of the other sexual sins (read the link), there is a remedy, but of child molesters, Christ condemns them to the justice of the waters of chaos which ceases to exist in the New Creation:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. (Rev 21:1 NLT)

(Although I admit that I may in fact be confusing authors and their cosmology, regardless…)

Christ doesn’t give them a remedy, unlike he does other sexual sins.

So does love actually win? For everyone?


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New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha – Theological Neutral Notes

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On Monday, I began this series by taking a broad overview of the features found in this bible. I followed it up by a look at the introductions to the sections and the individual books. Today, I want to look at some of the notes.

It is not the traditional study bible, such as the NLT Study Bible, but it is one geared to a more academic, non-theological, audience in which the scholarly study of Scripture is deemed important. As with any bible which carries with it additions to the Text, my first check is into the biases of the authors. To gauge that, I generally turn to what I consider two of the most doctrinal verses for Christians in the Old Testament, Genesis 1.26 and Isaiah 7.14. Now does the NOAB stack up? In my opinion, it does so very well.

Genesis 1.26:

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

The note in the NOAB reads,

The plural us, our (3.22;11.7) probably refers to the divine beings who compose God’s heavenly court (1 Kings 22.19; Job 1.6).

And while the rest of the note doesn’t quite pertain to the doctrinal notion, it is interesting nevertheless,

Image, likeness is often interpreted to be a spiritual likeness between God and humanity. Another view is that this text builds on ancient concepts of the king physically resembling the god and thus bearing a bodily stamp of his authority to rule. here this idea is democratized, as all of humanity appears godlike…..

Powerful stuff, right? Right.

The notion that God is speaking to His heavenly court is not anti-Christian by any means, but instead calls us to be academically honest. While theological students will use this verse to point to the later developed Trinity, it would be academically dishonest to do so. Here’s the kicker, and I don’t have this on hand at the moment, but the NLT Study bible pretty much says the same thing at this verse, as well as the next one. The fact is, that far too often, we cannot separate academic understanding and theological understanding, believing that the theological use of the Text somehow removes the original context from Scripture and allows us to somehow know it. That is reading into the Text. On the other hand, to theological develop these texts shouldn’t be discouraged either because then we run into the problems of removing Scripture from our Tradition(s).

Isaiah 7.14:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.

Again, the academic stances of the NOAB comes through to match the lack of theological translation biasness which the NRSV employed. In part, the note reads,

The young woman is not identified; she may be either the wife of Isaiah (cf 8.3) or of King Ahaz. Although 7.14 is cited in Mt 1.23 as a proof text for the virgin birth of Jesus, based on the LXX translation of “parthenos”{ (virgin), the Heb word “almah” simply means young woman, not virgin.

Ironically, the note at Matthew 1.23 reads,

The first of Matthew’s fulfillment citations (Isa 7.14), showing how Jesus’ life conforms to prophecies of the Hebrew Bible.

Will all the notes be so unbiased? Not sure, but from what I have read, they seem to be. Does that mean that they are somehow right? No, but it does mean that the editors of the NOAB have tried to remove theological understandings from their notes giving academic students of the bible a theologically-neutral understanding of the text.