Friday, December 28, 2012

Christian Books of the Year: A blog digest

There are many "Top 10 lists" appearing, since of course the year is coming to an end.  Many of these lists on the Christian blogosphere are "Top 10 Christian Books of the Year" lists.  I note a few here in annotated/digest form that may be helpful.

Jesus Creed (Scot McKnight) provides a varied list, including, science and faith, theology, reference, etc. 

Phil Long over on Reading Acts includes his "opinions" of the best biblical studies books of the year, including, OT, Second Temple, and a few divisions of the NT.  He says that these are also "books I have personally read and found useful" (I like that approach - its just too easy to suggest a book).

Unsettled Christianity: Joel Watts assembles an interesting list that will probably not reach as broad an audience as the other lists, but is worth a look.  Mostly NT oriented with a smattering of historical and some hermeneutical studies.

Christianity Today: Many books listed here from many categories; theology to fiction, mission to culture.  I was happy to see my former professor C. John "Jack" Collins was honored for his Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?: Who They Were and Why You Should Care (Crossway).  And J. Todd Billings was also honored for the much needed scholarship on union with Christ in his book Union with Christ: Reframing Theology and Ministry for the Church.

The Gospel Coalition:  TGC staff weighs in and picks up to three books of 2012 each.  One of note is J.P. Moreland's 15th anniversary edition of Love Your God With All of Your Mind.  This was a very impactful book in my journey, and I am glad to hear that it has been revisited by Moreland and that IVP republished this work for a new generation.   

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Today is the day of the year that we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, and we reorient our worship towards the Son and realign our mission with the Father's mission through the son, to redeem all things to Himself (Col. 1).  Let that be our driving force today, and December 26th, 2012, and so on!

Blessings in our newly born King and Lord, Jesus!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Intellectual Humility

I have always profited from this quote from John Calvin:

“There is no worse screen to block out the Spirit than confidence in our own intelligence.” 


Over on the Jesus Creed blog, Scot McKnight quotes a portion of a larger article by W. Jay Wood, long-time professor of philosophy at Wheaton College, that asks"How Might Intellectual Humility Lead to Scientific Insight?"

This is a great reminder of the knowledge lost by hubris and stubbornness.  I am glad for reminders such as this from our leading scholars.

One thing I would add:  I have yet to read Wood's article beyond a skim, but I hear an imperative in McKnight's reference to Wood's article.  What might be the indicative that is empowering the imperative "be humble while seeking intellectual enrichment"?

Any thoughts?  Both come from an evangelical Christian worldview.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Godly Efficiency and Work Ethic

In this stage of my life, that is, with a growing family to minister to and love well, a pastoral internship to complete and maintain to the glory of God, and a dissertation to write with excellence, I am always interested in tips from godly men on efficiency in my work, and how to work hard without being a "workaholic".  Here, over on Andy Naselli's Thoughts on Theology blog, D.A. Carson, one who knows how to produce good work, also gives three insight on how to be efficient and godly in your work.  Enjoy!

I want an NA29! Wait a second....?

An interesting note is post by Ed Kaneen over on Dunelm Road on the (likely) soon to follow NA29.

I was surprised too!

They are coming out as quick as iPhones!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Review: The Power of Pentecost by Martin C. Salter

The Blurb:

...biblical scholars, especially those concerned for the welfare of Christ’s church, are in the business of reminding the people of God of what is true, and then what to do.  Salter does this well.  Not everyone will agree with where he lands, but he does land somewhere (which is a feat of sorts in this debate), and his foundation upon clear and thorough exegesis is strong. 

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Martin C. Salter. The Power of Pentecost: An Examination of Acts 2:17-21. Resource Publications (OR), an imprint of Wipf and Stock, 2012.  115pp.  $18.
               
This slim book is an MTh thesis completed at Oak Hill College under the supervision of Acts scholar, Matthew Sleeman.  It is within this thesis that a pastor, Martin Salter, attempts to answer a current debate with an exegetical study of a pericope in Acts.
                 
          One does not often run across a published MTh thesis, so the first question one must ask is what contribution does this monograph make to the current debate? First, what is the debate?  Salter engages the debate concerning the charismatic use of spiritual gifts, noting that “the book of Acts is often cited” in this debate, primarily according to Salter, Acts 2:17-21.  According to Salter, on one side of the debate stand the scholars that argue for the continuation of these gifts (notably, Michael Green and Craig Keener), and standing opposed are the “conservative scholars” that hold the stance that such gifts were revelatory in function “at a particular point in redemptive history and should not, therefore, be considered normative” (including: John MacArthur, John Stott, and O. Palmer Robertson).  Following, John MacArthur, Salter, understands the quotation of Joel 3:1-5 (LXX) in Acts 2:17-21 as the “crux interpretum.”  Of course, the designation of Acts 2:17-21 as the crux interpretum” is debatable.  It could be that in Acts this passage is the “crux interpretum,” but other passages such as 1 Corinthians 12-14 come to mind as other common passages from which “Pentecostals and charismatics develop their theology.”  But a couple things should be clarified, especially to the American reader first before we carry on assessing Salter's discussion.
                 
               First, such terms as “conservative” require more defining, and unfortunately I do not believe I am the one to define them with much clarity.  It seems as Salter, a UK pastor, moves through his book terms such as “conservative” bear similar connotations as they do in America, but I would like to be surer.  While in the UK for my PhD research, I found that I was often speaking in foreign terms, though still in English, when I used the categories, “liberal,” “conservative,” or“evangelical.” 
                 
            Second, this book is very timely for Salter’s setting in the UK.  Again, during my recent research visit to Bristol, UK, I observed as an “outsider” from “the other side of the pond” the resurgence of interest in charismatic gifts.  As I spoke with one professor and former vicar in the Church of England I found that at least for the Church of England, which is not Salter’s denomination, that there was a type of identity crisis occurring concerning charismatic gifts.  Thus the timeliness of a study such as this makes more sense to one in the UK than it may to one in the America, where the debate may appear somewhat stale and passé, as the dates of the works of Salter’s American conversation partners reveal.
                
               Now, to many Salter’s method of pursuing his study may seem like he has put the proverbial “cart before the horse” by exploring exegesis before the context and theology this pericope fits within in Luke-Acts.  But I think he is right in how he pursues his study, as I will discuss below.   

Salter begins his study examining Acts 2:17-21 with very accurate and thorough exegesis.  I will not further comment on his exegesis in this review because I found it to be very well done and helpful for his specific concerns in this study.  Second, Salter looks at Acts 2:17-21 in the context that is laid before it in Acts 1-2, and third what lies after 2:17-21 in the rest of the Lucan narrative of Acts.  In part two one may ask, why does Salter not reach into the third gospel for more Lucan context for such a discussion?  I too asked this question in my first cursory glance overt Salter’s work, though of course this carries with it the whole debate of unity, which Salter seems to assume.  But I was pleased to find when I read Salter’s work that he often refers to the Lucan Gospel when discussing “conceptual and Scriptural allusions, and explicit references.” His brief comments on Luke 24:27 were especially helpful for his study of allusions and conceptual echoes, especially in the broader debat concerning context, namely “Luke himself encourages the search for fulfillment of OT themes in Luke 24:47.”  Fourth, Salter moves to the Lucan purpose of the Joel 3:1-5 (LXX) quotation within the overall purpose of the Acts narrative.  The theme that governs Acts, and thus his study, is the “restoration of Israel in her new Exodus.”  I think he is correct, and his exegesis thus far has made this a plausible theme.  He thus concludes in this section that Luke’s primary use of the quotation of Joel 3 in Peter’s Pentecost speech is to give his auditor/reader “certainty” (Lk. 1:4).  Fifth, and finally, Salter answers the overall question, “Is [Acts 2:17-21] a paradigm for contemporary ecclesiological or missional praxis, or [is it] a unique unrepeatable event in salvation history?”
                
            Salter’s study is very deductive in form, and I believe as I noted above that this is probably the best way of going about such a study.  I would call this study “eth-egetical,” meaning it is an ethics study, that is, how one should live based upon a solid exegetical foundation.  It would seem to be less ecclesiological since it is more concerned with specific application of 'what to do,' and not the marks of the church in the gifts of the Spirit.  Thus, I think Salter is correct to go about his study deductively, first looking at the evidence then begin to draw a conclusion of purpose and application to the church.  So, this is well done.  Unfortunately, in the end, I do not believe Salter’s conclusion, his “third-way,” will be well received or add something new to the debate.  It turns out to be a type of soft-cessationist view, akin to views held by such popular pastors as John Piper or Mark Driscoll.  This view sees the Spirit’s work as not completely ceased in the ways Acts witnessed to, but possible where the Lord seeks to move significant ways, or in cultures that more often give authority to magic or “see increased amount of demon-possession, or the miraculous.”  But this does not render this study invaluable.  I, first, think that Salter’s study is very sobering on the issue.  Studying such a live debate through Luke’s narrative as narrative, and forgoing simple proof texting, is valuable to reminding the church of what it can still learn from narratives in the bible.  And, second, biblical scholars, especially those concerned for the welfare of Christ’s church, are in the business of reminding the people of God of what is true, and then what to do.  Salter does this well.  Not everyone will agree with where he lands, but he does land somewhere (which is a feat of sorts in this debate), and his foundation upon clear and thorough exegesis is strong. 


Other Book Reviews on MosisMose:
The Later New Testament Writings and Scripture
NT Theology in Light of the Church's Mission: Essays in Honor of I. Howard Marshall
The Power of Pentecost

Another reviewer's thoughts on Power of Pentecost 


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Power of Pentecost

Wipf and Stock just sent me The Power of Pentecost: An Examination of Acts 2:17-21 by Martin C. Salter (published by Resource Publications, 2012).  What initially attracted me to the title was the pericope it investigates, namely the Joel 3 quotation in Acts 2 (this quotation will be under examination in my dissertation), but I found that the book had deeper implications.  I will discuss soon in a review of the book that while I was in Bristol I observed a type of identity crisis in the Church of England concerning charismatic gifts in a church that is not typically known as a charismatic denomination of the universal church.  Salter, a pastor in the UK, investigates in what was originally his MTh thesis, what Luke's narrative of Acts as narrative has to say on this issue.

Stay tuned, and thank you Wipf and Stock!

See review here.

Its been a while...

It has been too long since I posted last.  You know when they say "life comes at you fast"... Its true.  Since I posted last, our family bought our first house, I attended ETS national conference, and then traveled to Bristol, UK to meet with my dissertation adviser, John Nolland.  So, yes, its been a busy two-months!

The good news is that while in Bristol, at Trinity College, I spoke with others who shared my enthusiasm of a blog that is shared by PhD candidates at Trinity College, Bristol.  This means I will hopefully within the near future obtain some assistance in keeping this blog afloat, and achieve our original purposes when I first started the blog in June of this year. 

I hope that you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sinning Boldly: A Response

Here is a response to my Reformation Day reflection by Ben Church, missionary with MTW.  Ben always had a way of bringing up a point I seemed to completely miss in our seminary days.  He is trenchant in his response to my thoughts.

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Thanks for the reflection, Aaron, I enjoyed reading it.
 
It did make me think about how the American church avoids action and therefore avoids "sinning boldly" as they act on their faith.  Evangelism is one area that the everyday church-goer avoids action in, for sure, but I wouldn't say it's the major one.  We actually have a lot of "evangelism" going on in terms of people saying that they believe in Jesus.  But I would say it's an evangelism that doesn't direct people to the nature of who Jesus is.  It seems that half of all the professional athletes now-a-days are quick to "give glory to Christ" when they have success on the field.  What that message seems to be communicating is "I've attained the dream that so many people in our culture are longing for, and I have Jesus too!  I've got the best of both worlds!"
 
Where I would say the American church doesn't know how to "sin boldly" (me included!) is to LOVE, with the love of Christ, people who are different from them.  Our society is so divided and isolated racially and economically, and that isolation bleeds into the church.  We are good at loving those within our churches (who look and act exactly like us), but we have no concept of extending God's love across those barriers.
 
One example that came to mind while I was reading your note was loving Latino immigrants.  It is a tricky area because many are illegal, but God calls us to care for the sojourner in our midst.  Not to mention the fact that they are here because of injustice and oppression back home.  So, how do we love the immigrant in our midst?  There aren't a ton of clear cut answers, and there will no doubt be sin involved as we try to do it--but we've got to "sin boldly" as we extend God's love to those who are in a very different situation than us! 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Merry Reformation Day!


I have for the past seven or so years, I have lost count, written a Reformation Day reflection to my friends and family.  Here is this year's reflection:



Just this past weekend, a baker’s dozen (that’s 13) young adults from church, plus the White boys, Josiah, Wesley, and Jameson, went out to a corn maize (yes, there is a pun in the “maize” title, but it wasn’t me) 5 miles past Plain City, Ohio.  This, though, was no ordinary maze.  No.  It was a 9 acre corn maize!  After paying 8 dollars for this torture, we preceded to spend an hour in this thing, and making little progress.  Why did we make little progress?  Could it have been that it was 8pm and dark? Yes, slightly.  Could it have also been because it was frigid and windy to boot? Also, yes.  Moreover, could it be that we paused at every fork and analyzed our previous decisions irrationally I might add – me included, considered all opinions as not to step on any toes, and tried to decide how we felt the maize may be taking us by the previous turns we had taken and where we thought we were in relation to the finish line – which of course we really did not know the location of? Yes, most definitely! 

So, as I pondered this year’s Reformation Day reflection the old adage, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it!”, came to mind. An action oriented statement!

            Martin Luther also said something much similar to this in his career.  Many of you know it, and have probably, like me, have employed it incorrectly.  Luther said to Philip Melanchthon to “sin boldly.”  Many of course have misread this statement to mean what is contrary to Luther’s intention, not to mention Romans 6:1, in an affirmation towards a sinful lifestyle.  But others (cf., http://tquid.sharpens.org/sin_boldly.htm#a3) have done the opposite of Luther’s intention by parsing it out into fragments to show why Luther would never encourage anyone to sin, therefore sucking any vitality from such an important saying. 

            The true meaning behind this statement is a Reformation statement.  It is a gospel centered statement (see the full statement below).  Luther exhorted Melanchthon, a man who was a paralysis by analysis type guy, to act!  This statement was given in a letter after the Diet of Worms and Luther was held up in Wartburg Castle unable to lead the church.  Melanchthon, being the vice-president of Lutheranism (that is a joke, there was not Lutheran Church yet) needed to lead!  Melanchthon though was paralyzed with fear of making an incorrect move.  He was afraid of sinning!  Luther thus says “Sin boldly!”  Or in other words, trust in the mercy of Christ in the gospel and DO SOMETHING! 

            And here in lies our Reformation exhortation.  Our church society is an anti-Romans 1:16 society.  What do I mean by this?  We are infected with what we call political correctness, and/or an unwillingness to enter into a situation or conversation we may deem offensive or awkward.  So what do we do? We wait. And wait. And think. And analyze.  And decide – irrationally I might add – me too! And wait… for the perfect (romantic) opportunity to “not be ashamed of the gospel” – to take the fork in the road.  But we should ask ourselves, would we be worshiping each Sunday with the people of God if not for one who, by the power of the Spirit, did not wait?  Would we have the Scriptures in our own language if Luther, Tyndale, and countless other men AND WOMEN had waited, ignoring their divine call?  Would we be the first to say “my ministry and evangelism is me being a diligent and hard worker at my job and from the observance of my goodness others will see the light of Christ, without words (thus says Francis Assisi – but he really didn’t, just so you know), but it is true of our story that it was someone who we didn’t even know, using words, and not waiting led us to Jesus? Are we often “sinning boldly” in our church?  I say, no.

            So, today, in my 7th annual (I think?) Reformation Day reflection, I repeat the words said first August 1st, 1521, “If you are a preacher of grace, then preach a true and not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly,  but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly, for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here [in this world]  we have to sin. This life is not the dwelling place of righteousness,  but, as Peter says,  we look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. It is enough that by the riches of God’s glory we have come to know the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world.  No sin will separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day. Do you think that the purchase price that was paid for the redemption of our sins by so great a Lamb is too small? Pray boldly—you too are a mighty sinner.”

-         Martin Luther, August 1, 1521: A letter to Phillip Melanchthon

 

Blessings on your week!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The 'Jesus' Hermeneutic

This post has a soft connection to the earlier post that asks, "Where's the Inspiration," which addressed my discouragement when reading scholarship and finding little trace of the doctrine of inspiration in the discussing such methods as redaction, namely the use of the OT in the New.

I am currently reading Kenneth Litwak's Echoes of Scripture in Luke-Acts.  I have been impressed, though I have not agreed at every turn, by how many well rooted hypotheses he has taken on in this study.  It takes some, well let's say, chutzpah!
 
Particularly interesting is his rejection of the schools of 'proof-from-prophesy' and 'Promise-Fulfillment,' rallying the help from Rebbecca Denova (1997), among others, and taking on most poignantly Darrell Bock and Martin Rese, in reference to their respective, yet similar according to Litwak, methods. 
 
While taking on these two schools of thought on the OT use in the New, Litwak employs Joel 3:1-5 in Acts 2 as a test case.  Along the way Litwak notes,
"This means that when Peter stands up with the eleven in Acts 2.14, he speaks and declares prophetically by the Spirit.  This implies that Peter's act of interpretation is based upon a 'charismatic hermeneutic.'  It is the Spirit who guides Peter into this new reading of Joel 3.1-5a in light of what God has done in and through Jesus.  The assertion in Lk. 24.45 that Jesus opened the disciples' minds to understand the Scriptures stands tightly connected to Jesus' statement that the scriptures speak of repentance being preached to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem and that the disciples will testify of Jesus they have received power from high...So when Peter addresses the crowd in Acts 2, he does so, in fulfillment of Jesus' promise, as a Spirit-inspired witness, who interprets the Scriptures of Israel.  Peter is doubtless reading the Scriptures the new way that Jesus gave his disciples."
 
Litwak says one thing here: there is a new hermeneutic in the church post-ascension.  He calls it a 'charismatic hermeneutic' or 'messianic hermeneutic.'  I like 'The Jesus Hermeneutic' better - that's simply what it sounds like to me.

When I first read his claim that Peter was giving a 'revisionary reading' of Joel 3, I had pause; everyone should!  Good things rarely follow such expressions.  But, I find Litwak's understanding and explanation of the text refreshing in that he, first, does his homework. That is, there is clear interaction with the relevant primary texts of the Second Temple period, and the OT and NT.  Additionally, he interacts with the relevant secondary sources, even those outside the biblical studies disciplines.  So Litwak cannot simply be a conversation killer.  The homework is done and presented.  Second, and given credibility in broader scholarship by the first, he accords the Spirit and Jesus their proper place in the interpretation of the Scriptures of Israel in the NT writings.  Jesus "opens the minds" of those on the road to Emmaus with a new hermeneutic and the Spirit inspires a new interpretation, and both of these revelations still work within the relevant cultural sitz im Leben as is expected from the organic nature of God's normal means of communication; hence the use of Jewish interpretation methods (Pesher and Midrash) and Paul in Acts 17 quoting the poets and using no Scripture overtly. 

Today I read a review of I.H. Marshall's NTT.  This comment gets to the point I have been feeling when reading, reading, and reading, and finding little evangelical affirmation of inspiration - even from evangelicals:
In understated but readily discernible ways Marshall writes as a believing Christian.  While this is viewed as quaint or gauche by some in the discipline, Marshall is clearly not afraid of what they will think or say about his views...Marshall's aim seems to be for (student) readers to be encouraged in the direction of Christian faith rather than confused or put off by it.
 Well said, and applicable to the writing of Litwak, and previously Michael Shepherd.  Both are models to be followed, at least in this case.
 


 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

3000 (hits)

MosisMose hits its third mill mark in 3 months.  2k of them are my mom, grandma, and my collegues' groupies (I am not cool enough for groupies).















I am going to 'geekify' the picture reference by giving the punch-line.  Its Andre-3000. Just so ya' know...

Mumford and FU#K!

I will admit it now.  It's true.  I have a man crush on Mumford and Sons.  The type of crush that would result in giggling and loud screaming at their sight, like the Beatles heard on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. So, I have been recommending the band to everyone I meet; kind of like initiative-evangelism --- or if you are in the PCA, "confrontational evangelism."  But there is always one caveat I always give after the recommendation to 'church-people'... "They sing the F-bomb on one track.  But, but, but, they are seriously singing what appear to be Christian imagery, and its edifying intellectually and spiritually!  Really!"  (this article makes no statements about the faith stance of Marcus Mumford, or anyonne in the band, per this article).

Now on both of their albums, Mumford and Sons have earned an "explicit lyrics" tag.  Why? Because one track has the F-bomb in the chorus, many times, but no coarse language else-where to be found.  And it is rather pronounced when said.  

Does this bother anyone?  Should it?

I have heard one say that they feel the use of the F-word in "Broken Crown," a M&S son, is the right use.  Is there a right use?  

I was recently listening to a Lecrae's track, "Church Clothes", where he very explicitly portrays one lyrically who hates the church and its hypocrisy.   If one listened to this part of this song alone and made a judgement on Lecrae's convictions concerning Jesus, they would conclude something different than that Lecrae is on ESV.org, unofficially mentored by John Piper, and loves the church and her Lord.  

So should we put M&S in this category?  Are they portraying a sinful state of mind, or season of life without the Lord?  I think it's likely.  But the question remains, is using FU#K the way to go when portraying this position?  That's a bit tougher, and gives me pause...Maybe...?  Does using a word such as this in such a public manner make your witness better or worse?  Does it change your eternal destination and present convictions?  Should Christians and non-Christians loosen up on this topic?  Probably (see note below).  When does artistic license become regulated by public opinion?

So what are my conclusions? 

1)I will continue to recommend Mumford and Sons.  And, yes, the caveat will still have to stand, that is, until all things are made new (cf. Roms. 14-15).
2)I will continue to exclude these two tracks ("Little Lion Man" and "Broken Crown") from playlists played around my three boys, and other children - or adults that act like children.
3) I think that Christians should be as honest as M&S and Lecrae about their cultural counter-parts, themselves, and about the true state of mind, heart, and soul sin places us in collectively.
4) I think that those who do not claim Jesus as Lord should hold Christians to reasonable standards, that is, realizing we too are humans, and irrational standards (many or which are contradictory) are not the way even the most 'holy' people can live.  I should say, the "don't judge me" comment should, but does not, go both ways.
5) Read Ephesians 4:29 again.  Does it say "don't cuss"?  Or might Paul be making a bigger point that includes, but is not exclusive to, principles of coarse language?


______
A note: Christians, with #4 in mind, should still strive to be above reproach.  I have observed that cussing is one area, along with craft-beer drinking (haha!  I can't even type it without laughing - some people are such tools), where Christian freedoms have at times been taken advantage of.  My generation in particular is guilty of this.  I say, proceed with caution!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

'The Jesus Wife' Saga and Harvard Theological Review

Here are the links my friend was referring to in my earlier post.

____

The saga, and HTR's indecision, told through links (Daniel Wallace and Daniel Berke and summarized by Biran LePort.), below:

It's a Real

It's investigated

It's a Fake - Rejected

It's NOT rejected - we like the attention we are getting.. not giving up!

The Summary - Its taken 'provisionally'

It's quite a narrative.

One day I aspire to be a scholar that can put out half-baked material and it be taken 'provisionally'.





Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Fake: The 'Jesus Wife Fragment'

I was late-coming on this story, but caught up.  Apparently a Coptic 'gospel' fragment found a statement of Jesus refering to his wife.  Karen King, noted as major voice on women's roles in early Christianity and her work in Gnosticism, was poised to publish her study on this fragment in Harvard Theological Review.

I just received this email concerning this fragment from an OT professor from Covenant Seminary:


“News flash: Harvard Theological Review has decided not to publish Karen King¹s paper on the Coptic papyrus fragment on the grounds that the fragment is probably a fake.” This from an email Dr. Craig Evans, the Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia University and Divinity College, sent to me earlier today. He said that Helmut Koester (Harvard University), Bentley Layton (Yale University), Stephen Emmel (University of Münster), and Gesine Robinson (Claremont Graduate School)–all first-rate scholars in Coptic studies–have weighed in and have found the fragment wanting. No doubt Francis Watson’s comprehensive work showing the fragment’s dependence on the Gospel of Thomas was a contributing factor for this judgment, as well as the rather odd look of the Coptic that already raised several questions as to its authenticity.

Mumford and Sons New Album

So as entertainment news goes, this is VERY late.  But, I simply wanted to post that Mumford and Sons released their second album yesterday (they have seven earlier EPs, that makes three).  I was especially excited since they had a rendition of Simon and Garfunkle's "The Boxer" - on the "deluxe edition".   "The Boxer" cover on this album was the one released by Jerry Douglas with Mumford and Sons and Paul Simon earlier this year, and charting.  It is a great cover.

This post may not seem to be related at all to theology, etc., but listen to MS' last album, which I would not hesitate to call a 'worship album,' and their new album, and your opinion may change.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Book Buying: Commentaries - An Update.

In an earlier post on how to chose commentaries for one's personal theological library, I discussed Carson and Longman's respective NT and OT commentary surveys.  In these comments, I suggested to hold-off buying these handbooks until the new editions arrived.  I just discovered today that they will be arriving from Baker in April of '13.

Carson NT commentary survey, 7th edition

Longman OT commentary survey, 5th edition 



Others Book buying posts:

Postmodern Philosophy of History and Luke

In his new Lucan theology, A Theology of Luke and Acts, Darrell Bock spends a couple pages on philosophy of history in view of postmodern readings.

The postmodern philosophy of history, an age that Bock notes, "define[s] history itself as a construct and a type of fictive act," adds a new dimension and challenge to biblical scholarship.  The battle over Luke as a legitimate historian may have progressed in many ways, but postmodern definitions of history requires more interaction, which is what Bock does in his Theology. 

First, Bock interacts with Daniel Marguerate, and his work The First Christian Historian: Writing the Acts of the Apostles."  Under the influence of Ricoer, Margueate claims, "historiography should not be regarded as descriptive, but rather (re)constructive (5-7)."

Second, Bock dialogues with S. Shauf, and his work Theology as History, History as Theology: Paul in Ephesus in Acts 19.  Shauf represents for Bock a popular postmodern reading, that "sidesteps the historicity question by defining histoiography as 'imaginative narration' simply because the historian assembles a narrative from already limited sources."  

E.A. Clark who also represents this second view (in History, Theory, Text: Historians and the Linguistic Turn) says, "The critic's task, then, is to show how 'seemingly politically innocent objects, forms subjectivity, actions, and events" are the effects of power and authority... (176)"  Bock simply replies, "this type of ideological deconstruction itself needs deconstructing... Luke does not write from a position of power and authority."  

Bock concludes this section by a couple reminders, as I will call them: (1) "classical historians respect Luke as a historian as they use him;" (2) "a careful look at the details of Acts shows that, where we can check his accuracy, Luke is a credible historian."

I highlight this section in Bock's Lucan theology, because through my years in seminary and now in my research I have not yet seen such an interaction in any of the introductions or commentaries I perused (It could also be that I simply missed these sections at the pace of reading in seminary...).  This is a helpful dialogue Bock includes.  


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Devotion to God and the Question of 'Praying Enough'

During this season of research, like in my time at seminary, among some of the first things to go is sadly prayer and devotion time.  This battle is always one I am fighting.  But then I read something like what Luther says below, which sounds a lot like Matthew 6:7

"Die Weise des Gebets ist, wenig Worte zu machen, aber viele gute Vorsätze und tiefe Gedanken zu hagen."

Of course, this is not excusing us from praying all together, but what is it implying?  Does it mean that the resolution to "pray more" is more influenced by the pietistic traditions that preceded our generation?  Overall, what does it mean for our devotion to the Lord?  Thoughts like this one from Luther and from certainly Matthew 6:7 seem to imply "praying more" is not a goal we should be attempting to reach.  





Other Luther posts on MosisMose:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Review: New Testament Theology in Light of the Church’s Mission: Essays in Honor of I. Howard Marshall

The Blurb:
...this book is highly recommended by this reviewer for its depth and example of erudite scholarship.  On a personal note: the example set by this book and the one it celebrates goes beyond sturdy scholarship, it moves towards discipleship. I am one who has sat at the feet of nearly a half-dozen men who are either published in this work or were advised by Marshall in their post-graduate research.  I sense a legacy, and I pray that myself and others in my generation will be the “faithful men” to Professor Marshall’s “Paul” as we seek to pass on Marshall's legacy to the “others” (2 Tim. 2:2).

(See this review cited on Ray Van Neste's Oversight of Souls)
Laansma, Jon C., Osborne, Grant, and Van Neste, Ray, editors.  New Testament Theology in Light of the Church’s Mission: Essays in Honor of I. Howard Marshall.  Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2011. 395 pp. ISBN 978-1-61097-530-8. $46.

In the past century, few men have made the impact in the area of the New Testament as I. Howard Marshall has made.  It is also most certainly true that few have been honored with two festschrifts.  But here in New Testament Theology in Light of the Church’s Mission the editors give Marshall this distinct honor. 

Among many distinguished positions of honor held in his career, Marshall was Chair of the Tyndale Fellowship for Biblical and Theological Research and Chair of the NT Study group prior to the previously mentioned position, and Editor of the Evangelical Quarterly.  But in his career perhaps the most telling of his abilities and impact is the fact that he “was for decades a primary destination for postgraduate study for evangelical students from around the world”, with the result that, “‘Aberdeen’ has come to mean ‘conservative, evangelical biblical scholarship’” (1,5).  Thus, “mission” is an apropos theme chosen by the editors for this compilation.
As for the work at hand, the collection of scholars and topics covered is truly astounding.  A collection like this one makes this reviewer’s job exciting yet difficult to do justice to the work that is here reviewed.  Without giving an entire table of contents that can be accessed elsewhere, some contributions salient to the reviewer include James Dunn on “Methodology of Evangelism in the NT”; the late R.T. France on “The Son of Man in Hebrews 2:6”; Darrell Bock with a pastoral entry on the gospel preached in the narrative speeches in Acts, namely “The Gospels before the Gospels”; Mark Strauss “The Purpose of Luke-Acts: Reaching a Consensus”; Brian Rosner on “The Missionary Character of 1 Corinthians”; Anthony Thiselton on “Paul’s Missionary Preaching in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16; Robert Yarbrough on “Schlatter on the Pastorals”; and Eckhard J. Schnabel on “Early Christian Mission and Christian Identity in the Context of the Ethic, Social, and Political Affiliations in Revelation”.  Other contributors include Craig Blomberg, Philip Towner, Esther Yue L. Ng, Gary Burge, Joel Green, Gene Green, Andrew Clarke, Maureen Yeung, Roy Ciampa, Alistair Wilson, Greg Couser, Paul Ellingworth, Jon Laansma, and Grant Osborne.  
I would like to highlight two entries in particular because of the honor they do Marshall.  The first by Darrell Bock bears witness to Marshall’s legacy as a scholar who can reach a broad audience; the second by Robert Yarbrough on a German theologian, Adolf Schlatter, who in his own time had similar far-reaching influence in the German speaking world as Marshall has had in the English speaking world through his scholarship and biblical interpretation.
Marshall once said of F.F. Bruce, “to write at a popular level is not inconsistent with a truly scholarly approach, and it may be argued that one test of a person’s scholarship is the ability to express arguments and conclusion in a manner that is generally intelligible”.  This too is a legacy of Marshall.  In a similar spirit Darrell Bock’s chapter “The Gospels before the Gospels: The Preached Core Narrative” is not intended “as a technical scholarly piece, but as a piece of reflection for those in the church” (97). 
In his chapter, Bock seeks to correct the commonality among evangelical churches today to “present the gospel in very Pauline terms”, exclusively.  He does this by exploring salvation via multiple images in the Lucan narrative of Acts.  Bock briefly discusses each respective speech in Acts 2, 3-5, 10, 13, and 17.   In this brief study he asks of each pericope, “how is the gospel presented?”, namely “what does the speaker say and not say in their gospel proclamation” and finally, though by implication, “how does our gospel presentation be it in a sermon or otherwise square with those in Acts?” 

Bock concludes, “the stress in the evangelistic message [in these speeches] is not so much how Jesus accomplishes this as much as who offers it, what is offered, and how God stands behind the attestation of these claims through the vindication and exaltation of Jesus to share in God’s very presence” (100).  By this, Bock highlights that, according to the evangelistic speeches in Acts, we are not proclaiming “an idea” but rather “a person”, because it is “forgiveness and new life in God’s Spirit” that is offered and highlighted in the proclamation of the gospel.  Though not a “scholarly piece” Bock’s study will be one to follow in its development in the future, since, as one reviewer has already noted, it seems to be much in line with the studies being presently contributed by such NT theologians as N.T. Wright and Scot McKnight.
Next, in Robert Yarbrough’s contribution a similarity is drawn between I.H. Marshall and Adolf Schlatter’s effect on world Christianity by both having similar interpretation of the Pastorals, but more broadly their vocation as one who went “beyond being a missionary enabler”.
Yarbrough says of Schlatter,“While an aim of many post-Enlightenment biblical scholars has been to disabuse students of historic Christian faith and a high view of Scripture's veracity, Schlatter stands out as a brilliant exegete who overall defended the bible's accuracy." (295-6).
Following this theme, Yarbrough chooses Ulrich Wilkens, a prolific German scholar from the mid-20th century, as a conversation partner. I found Yarbrough method of a conversation partner when studying Schlatter's exegesis of the pastorals to be more helpful in drawing out the full flavor and importance of Schaltter's conclusions.   For me, though, it remains a bit unclear on why Wilkens was chosen, besides shared nationality and both working in the area of the Pastorals within 50 years of each other.
Nevertheless, Yarbrough concludes that Wilken’s study of the Pastorals is hazy and hypothetical, while Schlatter roots his study of the Pastorals in how Paul’s ministry characterizes him.  Yarbrough clarifies, “Or put it another way, while the historical Paul is a shadowy background figure for Wilkens's PE exposition… for Schlatter not only Paul but even Jesus plays a significant role, perhaps not surprising since the PE are replete with references to Jesus" (309).
Yarbrough concludes the spirit of Schlatter’s interpretation of the Pastoral by applying his study to the current world church:

"in the larger world church setting where the Bible is receiving fresh attention and respect, and groups affirming a more historic high regard for the Bible are seeing meteoric growth… there is reason to rethink traditional academic animus toward close association between Jesus seen as Savior in fulfillment of OT promises, a Paul who actually encountered him in a life-and world-transforming way, and the PE seen as authentic Pauline writings" (315).
After reading this compilation of works contributed by well-known experts in wide spectrum of New Testament scholarship, the celebration for I.H. Marshall’s career is evident.  Though for a paperback, the price is a bit prohibitive for many, this book is highly recommended by this reviewer for its depth and example of erudite scholarship.  On a personal note: the example set by this book and the one it celebrates goes beyond sturdy scholarship, it moves towards discipleship. I am one who has sat at the feet of nearly a half-dozen men who are either published in this work or were advised by Marshall in their post-graduate research.  I sense a legacy, and I pray that myself and others in my generation will be the “faithful men” to Professor Marshall’s “Paul” as we seek to pass on Marshall's legacy to the “others” (2 Tim. 2:2). 


Note:  This book was furnished without charge by Cascade/Wipf and Stock in exchange for an objective review.  Thanks you Cascade for the book!

Other Book Reviews on MosisMose: 
The Later New Testament Writings and Scripture
NT Theology in Light of the Church's Mission: Essays in Honor of I. Howard Marshall
The Power of Pentecost

ESV Version with the Critical BHS and now the NA28

After I posted about the NA28 the other day, I did not have time to look into it much.  This morning, though, I found another exciting point.  Like the BHS that was recently published with the ESV text on the adjoining page, the NA28 text will be published in hardcover with the critical text on one page, and the ESV translation on the other (in other words, these texts look a lot like the Loeb texts in format; see below for an example).


This is particularly exciting, because up to now the OT/BHS text had nothing like this, other than cumbersome and rather unhelpful interlinear editions, and the NT was published in the UBS edition with the RSV.  It is great that Crossway and the UBS (presumably) came to an agreement to produce these two projects.  These two works will be indispensable tools for pastors, students, and scholars for many years!



Friday, September 14, 2012

NA28?!

I am wondering what it means when I become excited over the release of a critical edition of the bible... mmmmMMMM?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tim Keller on the Gospel

Scot McKnight posted this on Tim Keller's views on how one should view the Gospel.  I found it to be a breath of fresh air.

I have been edified by Keller's writing, preaching and teaching for about 9 years now, and continue to be appreciative for his impact in New York, the broader culture, the broader evangelical church, and his and my denomination, the PCA.  I heard him do a Q&A at Covenant Seminary about 3 years ago and was so impacted by his true humility about the position, situation the Lord has placed him in and the gifts and abilities the Lord has blessed him with.  At times I struggle with bandwagons and whatnot, but if anyone deserves a following, this is the guy.  One can follow him as he follows Christ.

UBS Primary Text Free Online

I was not aware that the UBS has NA27, BHS, Vulgate, etc. for free for online use.  This is great.  I just found it out, so I will soon find out how helpful it is.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Beginning of a Long Journey

Today, I begin my PhD research (We are also at the same time in the midst of buying a house.  This will be exciting, busy, stressful, etc.).  I am looking forward to see what the Lord will do in this season of life!

My prayer is that this research will be used to the glory of the Lord, that I will be able to love my family well during this time, and that I may edify the local church by devoted membership.  I pray the Holy Spirit will give me to ability to do these things, while also pursuing diligent, thorough, and Christ-centered scholarship

Saturday, September 1, 2012

All A Wife Needs to Know About Her Scholar

Martin Luther's relationship/marriage with Katerine von Bora is always interesting and entertaining.  He married her, reportedly, to stick it to the pope, and loved her over time.  For such a disfunctional life, their marriage seemed to function to a certain degree.  Here in a letter he reports how he is away from the house, noting the important things, namely how he is eating and drinking (beer, that is):

In einem Brief an Katharina:

Ich gebe Euch und Euer Gnaden untertäniglich zu wissen, dass mir's hier gut geht: ich fresse wie ein Böhme und saufe wie ein Deutscher, das sei Gott gedankt, Amen. 


I wonder, as I write this, if Luther ever discussed his controversies and theological writing with Katie... I am most certainly sure she was aware of them, but was it a consistent topic of conversation? Upon reflection, I know I can be tempted to invite my wife up into the clouds with me.  In other words, I have a penchant to believe that I can catch my wife up on my hours of study and my interest in my subject of study in a moments' conversation, believing that suddenly my calling in life is hers.  I do not think this is part of becoming one in marriage.  


It seems from Luther's letters (and I have read the three volumes in the LW American edition) that this was not the paradigm of his relationship with Katie.  Their conversation seemed to be about the farm, the brews (Kate was a wine and beer maker), health, and kids.  What this says to me is that though Luther was incredibly busy, he at least appears to have been present in his cares for his wife and family, and their day-to-day living, even while he was stuck up in a castle translating the bible in German!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

When to Say When? PhDs and Priorities

About eight years ago when I was on a drive with my then girl-friend, and now wife, Sarah, the topic of our future plans came up.  Sparing the masses the mushy details, this moment made two things clear, she would be my wife and my call to ministry seemed to be confirmed.

Since then, in my short six years of vocational ministry and seminary, I have found that our family, concerning my priorities, is in a perpetual gray area.  What I mean is that there is always work to be done, and things never seemed tied up, as it were.  This gray area, I have observed, has the potential to cause a rift in families and relationships, a poor walk with the Lord to even idolatry, and true workaholism.

When I was in campus ministry, I experienced the gray area.  I think this gray area was not as noticeable to me because I manage relationships and people well, and relationships are where the majority of campus ministry work is centralized.  So, in this period of my life I was able to manage my time, energy, and spiritual life much more effectively; especially since Sarah too was working in this same vocation.  In seminary, however, things changed, because the type of work changed.  This seems to be true for many who have an academic bent.  As a result, I experienced the gray area in much more intense way.  Priorities where much harder to set in a practical way.  Though I knew what my priorities should be, de facto they were other things.  I realized as I was moving through seminary that if I were to continue in academic ministry, that I would need to figure out how to manage this new never-ceasing gray area, and truly and in practice put first things first.  I started to realized that there would always be work to get done, and it would always appear to be important enough to forsake relationships and other priorities.  Recognizing the gray was only the beginning of the battle...

I don't come with many answers.  In all honesty, I am posting because I have many things weighing on me - a lot of gray!And I post incompletely, because I am part of an incomplete journey...

I come with some priorities:
1) Family: time with kids daily, quality conversation with wife and regular dates.
2) Walk with the Lord: devotional life, prayer, and local church involvement
3) Discipleship, and outreach and evangelism.
4) health: eating, sleeping, exercising, bathing

False priorities:
1) the computer: email, blog, writing
2) more reading, writing = peace, and true success

One solution that has been the most helpful to me:  Set reasonable work hours and stick with them!  I average 9am-5pm.  This allows me to get what I can done in a day and trust the LORD that the rest will get done at a later date.

These are some thoughts off the top of my head on a topic that I believe is of the highest importance.  Please weigh in on your thoughts on this topic.


Other Practically Aimed PhD Posts: