Peter Enns’s new book (coming out in August) looks like a winner, not least because of this riveting excerpt:
The book is just over 65,000 words long, and I am proud of each and every one of them. All that remains for me now is to arrange them in the right order and make sentences out of them (at which time I will give an exerpt or two).
Until then, here are some of the words that will appear in the book, some more than once.
- Alexander Graham Bell
- New Jersey
- iPhone 17
- tube socks
- Red Sox
- Herman Munster
- White Russian
- Screen Actors Guild
- Justin Bieber
That’s the first paragraph.
I can’t wait!
I’m back from my church’s family retreat just in time to alert readers to the most recent Biblical Studies Carnival, hosted this month at Mosissimus Mose.
You might also want to check out the seventh installment of Abram K-J’s Septuagint Studies Soirée.
And finally, Brian Small has once again provided a rundown of interesting recent posts on the most fascinating book in the New Testament.
I wonder if they went around posting notices like this in the days of Noah…
The first Biblical Studies Carnival of the new year is now posted at NT Exegesis. Enjoy!
What does your choice of Bible translation say about who you are and where you locate yourself within the Christian tradition? Scot McKnight has some thoughts on the idea, although he mostly seeks to demolish the question by pointing to the original next as the true authority and not any translation, no matter how good.
Do read this, especially if you are not conversant with the original biblical languages, as this post offers a thumbnail sketch of translation theory and why translators make the choices they do. I especially appreciated this gem:
I’d like to contend today that most words are translated in all Bible translations with formal equivalence and that some words are translated more or less in a dynamic, or functional way. In other words, there isn’t really a radical commitment to dynamic equivalence — as if one can find some better way in English to the original languages “and” or “but” or “the” or “God.” Or a radical commitment to “formal equivalence,” as if the Greek word order can be maintained in English and make sense, though at times the NASB gave that a try (much to the consternation of English readers). No one translates “God’s nostrils got bigger” (formal equivalence) but we translate “God became angry.” There are some expressions that can’t be translated woodenly unless one prefers not to be understood.
Chaplain Mike takes aim at this article:
So, Thom Schultz suggests that the church learn from Kodak’s failures. This is our “Kodak moment,” he warns. Unless we (1) accept the reality that things are changing and churches are declining, (2) give up trying to simply “tweak” what we do and instead focus on “revolutionizing,” and (3) take risks by acting now and experimenting with bold new ideas, we face a future like Kodak experienced.
Therefore, Schultz exhorts us to re-examine everything we’re doing. To ask big questions. To step out and try something. To boldly step into the future because that’s where God is moving.
Etc. etc. etc.
To which I say, with all due respect, “Yawn.”
This is not challenging the status quo. This is the very definition of the status quo when it comes to evangelicalism, and it has been at least since Thom Schultz started writing youth curriculum back in the 1970′s. It’s the same old church growth mantra: “Change or die!” It’s the same old focus on “catching the next wave” and riding it into the future. It’s the same old emphasis on “relevance” and “effectiveness” and “success.”
Thom Schultz’s article represents the same tired evangelical thinking about the church’s mission and methodology: imagining that what we’re about requires relying on “spiritual technology” to “connect people to God” and build “effective” churches. It’s just plain bad theology, folks.
In fact, it is nothing less than an ongoing denial of Jesus’ words about the organic nature of the Kingdom, which involves seeds falling into the ground and dying so that they may bear fruit and bring forth life.
Though all the world go digital and beyond, building gleaming towers that reach to the heavens, the mission of Jesus proceeds with a quiet, unstoppable tenacity at ground level.
Get the picture?
Greg Monette nails it, I think. Even though my own faith had to confront the sorts of issues Ehrman raises before Ehrman really came on the scene, I can identify with a lot of what Greg says. He concludes his piece thusly:
Bart Ehrman is showing evangelicals where their weaknesses actually are. We should thank him for this rather than berate him. Yes, he pushes the envelope. He’s a writer of popular trade books. Of course he’s going to do that. However, though he may be wrong on many of his startling claims, he is thinking of all the possible weaknesses that may exist in the ‘fundamentalist‘ armour. And if these really are weaknesses, than they deserve to be exposed and dealt with.
My faith in Jesus has increased because of Bart Ehrman. I understand that many people have lost their faith in Jesus of Nazareth because of Ehrman’s writings, but that’s not what happened to me. I know what I believe about the Bible and the Historical Jesus because I took the time to engage with Ehrman’s writings. I’m convinced that the Bible is quite reliable (not necessarily perfect) and that Jesus was raised from the dead. Bart helped me on this journey because his textbook was the first one I studied in university and reading it kickstarted my quest for historical knowledge. Personally, I owe Bart Ehrman a lot. Without his introduction to the New Testament textbook I may not be the Christian I am today. The challenges he put forward in his textbook drove me to look into the historical veracity of the Jesus movement in the first place.
The Church will be better off because of you, Bart. I certainly am!
This is right clever:
G = Gnostic (obviously a question as well of definition, history, provenance & theology)
O = Origen (knows of a Gospel according to Thomas, Hom. Luke 1)
S = Sayings (GT 1: ‘these are the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke’)
P = Parables (many: net, sower, weeds, banquet, vineyard etc.: diff. from SGs)
E = Early (early material on almost any view)
L = Lacking OT (nothing; polemical: GT 52)
O = oi logoi sophwn (words of the wise: connection with wisdom genres)
F = Form/genre
T = Three Greek papyri (P. Oxy 1, 654, 655)
H = Hundred and 14 sayings (not numbered in original, but clearly demarcated)
>O = One Coptic Manuscript (Nag Hammadi Codex II; Apoc. John, GT,Gos. Philip …)
M = Monachoi (‘monks’ = GT 16, 49, 75)
A = ‘All’ (GT 2: ‘… king over the All’, 67, 77: ‘I am the All’)
S = Seventy-Nine sayings have synoptic parallels
Makes me wish I were teaching something that involved Gospel of Thomas so I could use it.
A former slave, fearing his ex-master’s anger, seeks out a powerful ally who might plead on his behalf. The story of Philemon? Actually, it is also the story of Sabinianus, whose freed slave came for help to the Roman senator Pliny. As N. T. Wright explains (as summarized by Chaplain Mike at InternetMonk), the similarities between the story of Sabinianus and the biblical account of Philemon offer an important study in contrasts:
But the main impression, once we study the two letters side by side, is that they breathe a different air. They are a world apart. Indeed — and this is part of the point of beginning the present book at this somewhat unlikely spot — this letter, the shortest of all Paul’s writings that we possess, gives us a clear sharp little window onto a phenomenon that demands a historical explanation, which in turn, as we shall see, demands a theological explanation. It is stretching the point only a little to suggest that, if we had no other first-century evidence for the movement that came to be called Christianity, this letter ought to make us think: Something is going on here. Something is different. People don’t say this sort of thing. This isn’t how the world works. A new way of life is being attempted — by no means entirely discontinuous with what was there already, but looking at things in a new way, trying out a new path.
Chaplain Mike summarizes:
Pliny was concerned about resolving a problem in a way that maintained social order. Said social order was based on social distinctions and rules of propriety, as well as the rewards and punishments that kept it intact. Second chances were allowed up to a point; kindness and mercy had room to operate within limits. In the end, Pliny remained on top, Sabinianus was beholden to him, and the freedman was on the bottom of the pile.
Paul was concerned about two entirely different matters: reconciliation and unity in the Messiah. Paul was in prison because he advanced this agenda. From there he continued to promote these concerns to people like Philemon, by not only writing about them but also by offering to be the very bridge by which two parties at odds could become one again.
For Paul it was all about Jesus the Messiah, and this is what Jesus was all about.