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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!

May 2015 Biblical Studies Carnival

The latest Biblical Studies Carnival is now posted for your viewing pleasure at Claude Mariottini’s eponymous blog. Enjoy!

Torah-Observant Christians

New at The Bible and Interpretation: Isaac W. Oliver, “Do Christians Have to Keep the Torah? The Cases of Matthew and Luke-Acts.”

For a long time it was not uncommon to posit that Jesus was responsible for the dispensation of such practices [as kosher rules, the Sabbath, etc.]. Jesus was the first “Christian,” who had come to announce the end of the Torah and Judaism. Draining Jesus of his Jewishness reached its unfortunate peak with the rise of Nazism when Jesus was even cast by some as an Aryan! However, ever since the end of World War II, the Jewishness of Jesus has been gradually resurfacing. “Blame” for the Christian distancing from Jewish practice has shifted instead to Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles. Traditionally, Paul has been viewed as an “apostate” from Judaism who founded a new religion, Christianity. Yet even Paul’s relationship to his Jewish heritage, including the complex question of his attitude toward the Torah, is being revisited and intensely debated among scholars of early Judaism and Christianity. It is also becoming clearer that many early Christians continued to conceive of their faith in Jewish terms and even identify themselves with the Jewish people and story for longer than previously thought. Social scientific analysis of early Christianity and Judaism further reminds us that the social reality on the ground was always more complicated than the idealist and often polemical depictions found in some of the early Christian literature that has survived history. Many of the early Christian works that have been preserved were written by Christian intellectuals—often opposed to Judaism and the observance of Jewish custom—who tried to assert their theological ideals and norms upon other Christians. The average Christian on the street, however, might have cared little about what some of these church fathers wrote or preached from the pulpit. As late as the fourth century of the Common Era, John Chrysostom, was vociferously (and in some ways helplessly) trying to convince his Christian parishioners in Antioch not to attend services at synagogues and observe Jewish festivals (see his work, Against the Jews). Certainly, the surviving literature does not tell us the whole story about the complex history of Jewish-Christian relations.

This will definitely be on my syllabus the next time I teach New Testament.

April 2015 Biblical Studies Carnival

Jeff Carter has the honor of providing this month’s carnival. Well done!

Corinth, Women, and Rhetoric

Might some of the confusion over the role of women in 1 Corinthians stem from a failure to identify when Paul is actually quoting someone else’s opinion? My CHR 150 class addressed some of this last week when we discussed Paul’s teachings about spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12–14. Scot McKnight goes even deeper as he describes some of Lucy Peppiatt’s conclusions in her new book, Women and Worship at Corinth. Interesting!

Happy Passover!

Here’s your Rube Goldberg retelling of the Exodus:

(H/T: io9.com)

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