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July 2015 Biblical Studies Carnival

The latest Biblical Studies Carnival is now posted at My Digital Seminary. Enjoy!

Rethinking Prostitution

Miguel Ruiz at Internet Monk sheds new light on some old biblical texts.

The history of Christianity is a twisted tale of conflict over sexuality and the suppression of those who dissent the party line on bedroom ethics.  These days, it is commonly argued that there is only one correct approach, from sound exegesis of Scripture, to human sexuality and appropriate boundaries.  However, we still must concede that what is commonly accepted as “right” today is not exactly how we have always taught.  Throughout the centuries, various sexual practices have gone in and out of favor with the church catholic at various times and in various cultures, as external influences have doubtlessly impacted how the relevant Scripture passages were read and understood.  We’ve run the gamut from repressing to libertine, and everything in between.  It is nothing short of confounding how difficult it is to get the Bible to speak directly and consistently on these matters.  If we truly value and respect the Word of God, we would be wise to continue listening and respectfully consider alternate interpretations, especially those coming from fellow believers as a matter of conscience.  We’ve all made mistakes in Biblical interpretation before, probably not for the last time.  So I challenge you to listen with an open mind as I explain how we’ve been largely wrong about a particular issue for a number of years: Prostitution.

Note for the sarcasm-challenged: It’s satire. But it does make a point, and some of my readers will appreciate it.

Historical Criticism and Christian Truth Are Not Enemies, Nor Can They Be

So says Peter Enns, with an assist from German Alttestamentler Konrad Schmid. There’s much to digest here, but let me whet your appetite with Enns’s conclusion:

The bottom line for me is and has always been: the truly historical study of scripture, one that is not dictated by and asked to “serve” theology, will inevitably be in tension with that theology. And that tension must be critically respected rather than cut off or neutralized.

Historically speaking, the Bible we have presents us with some very serious challenges. Good theology will accept the challenge and understand that simple answers are often wrong and that sometimes, whether we are comfortable with it or not, resolutions will elude us.

Good stuff!

June 2015 Biblical Studies Carnival

The best of the best of last month’s biblical studies blogging is now posted for your enjoyment at William Ross’s blog.

The Letter to the Hebrews in Eight Minutes

Galatians Commentary

shbc_galatians_xxlI’m pleased to announce that commentary on Galatians in which I had a part has now been published.

Marty Soards did a fantastic job on the biblical exegesis, and I provided supplemental materials to connect the message of Galatians to contemporary life for the sake of teachers and preachers who will strive to bring this important Pauline letter to life in the church.

In his seventh letter to Lucilius, the philosopher Seneca observed that people learn while they teach. Perhaps it should be added that people learn a lot while they try to write biblical commentaries!

I’m also incredibly grateful for this fine endorsement from my Doktorvater, Dr. John Polhill:

In their Galatian commentary, Soards and Pursiful present a fresh and comprehensive exposition of the epistle. They set forth a careful exegesis of the Greek text that is accomplished in clear language, easily understandable to the non-specialist. Although thoroughly acquainted with the best scholarship, they stick to the text itself and avoid the excessive speculation and over-emphasis on theology so characteristic of many Galatian commentaries. I rank this right at the top of commentaries I have read on Galatians.

So, there you have it. Why not buy one for the whole family?

The Radical Perspective on Paul

Michael F. Bird has a post up (with another promised) on “The Radical Perspective on Paul.” To get everybody up to speed, here is his introduction:

At the moment the state of Pauline scholarship could be divided into four basic camps:

(1) Traditional Protestant. Paul was preacher of grace that stands in contrasts to the legalism/nomism of second temple Judaism. In some versions, this is accompanied with an implied or even explicit supersessionist view of the church as replacing Israel.

(2) The New Perspective on Paul. The problem with Judaism was not legalism, but ethnocentrism. Paul was arguing that Jews need to accept that God has acted in Christ to bring Jews and Gentiles into the new saving event ahead of an eschatological consummation.

(3) The Apocalyptic/Barthian Paul. Paul proclaimed God’s invasive and cosmic act of salvation to rectify and renew the whole creation rendering the old order with its religion as obsolete.

(4) The Radical Perspective on Paul. Paul was Jewish and Torah-observant. He tried to bring Gentile communities into closer fellowship with Jewish communities while protecting them from proselytism. Paul believes that Jesus saves Gentiles, but Jews are saved under the auspices of the Mosaic covenant.

In this post I’m going to describe the origins of the Radical Perspective (RP), give a brief description of its reading of Paul, and note its relative strengths. In a subsequent blog post, I will offer a critique of contestable elements.

Very interesting!


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