Monday, 24 July 2006
The July 2006 issue of the Baptist Quarterly landed on my desk today. Contents are as follows:
Ian M. Randall, "English Baptists of the 20th Century"
Jonathan Calvert, "Reginald William Waddelow: A Man of No Ordinary Dimensions"
Stephen Wright, "Edward Barber (c. 1595-1663) and His Friends (Part 2)"
Sean Winter, "Tracks and Traces: A Review Article"
My contribution is a belated (apologies to the editorial board and to Paul Fiddes the author of the book under review, for not getting it in earlier) 3,000 word review. It was nice to see something appear in print, though, as an encouragement to get my marking finished in order to clear space for some more writing in August.
Friday, 21 July 2006
One of the constituent Colleges here at the Partnership for Theological Education is advertising for a tutorial post, beginning next summer (07). Here is the main wording of the advertisment:
Applications are invited for the post of full-time tutor at Hartley Victoria College within the Partnership for Theological Education in Manchester, from September 2007.
At an exciting time of change and development in the ecumenical Partnership and in the region, the successful candidate will:
• participate in oversight of Methodist students allocated to the training institution
• teach to postgraduate level in contextual theology preferably specialising in biblical studies / Old Testament, or systematics
• be able to play a creative part in continuing developments in theological education in the region
The post is open to lay or ordained candidates. To balance the staff team in the Partnership, applications are particularly invited from women and ethnic minorities.
Closing date for applications: 12.00 pm 24th August 2006
Interview date: 15th September 2006
Full details including application form and job spec can be found at the Partnership website here.
Thursday, 20 July 2006
Anyone wishing to witness the venting of the Christian spleen at its most entertaining should take a little trawl through the comments (72 of them and counting) to Ben Myer's recent poll on the worst liturgical innovation. The funniest ones are those that use swear words most effectively, but there is also some interesting stuff.
The excellent series published by Paternoster, "Studies in Baptist History and Thought" now has a further volume, Stephen Harmon's, Towards Baptist Catholicity: Essays on Tradition and the Baptist Vision. It looks like it furthers the kind of vision of Baptist identity being argued for by Paul Fiddes, John Colwel and others. Here i the blurb:
Towards Baptist Catholicity contends that the reconstruction of the Baptist vision requires a retrieval of the ancient ecumenical traditions.
Themes explored include catholic identity, tradition as a theological category, the relationship between Baptist confessions of faith and the patristic tradition, the importance of Trinitarian catholicity, catholicity in biblical interpretation, Karl Barth as a paradigm for evangelical retrieval of the patristic theological tradition, worship as a principal bearer of tradition, and the role of Baptist higher education in shaping the Christian vision.
I get the feeling that Jim West disapproves. I am much more favourably disposed to this kind of Baptist vision. Review copy anyone?
Update: 23rd August 2006 - many thanks to Anthony Cross, Series Editor of SBHT, and to the nice people at Paternoster for sending me a copy. In the last few weeks several others have spoken to me about the importance of Harmon's work. The blurb on the back and inside the book are equally impressive: Timothy George states that Harmon's proposal for a Baptist equivalent of the Oxford movement "has revolutionary possibilities, in the Copernican sense of the word, and deserves to be taken seriously". Over the next few weeks as I read it, I plan to post some summaries etc.
Hat tip to Jim West for pointing me in the direction of this article by Martin Accad, who is Academic Dean of the Arab Baptist Seminary in Beirut, Lebanon. Martin was lecturing at Fuller Seminary last week and is now unable to return home. I found out yesterday that the Seminary is full of displaced children from Southern Lebanon who are being offered shelter there.
Monday, 17 July 2006
Another example of how blogging can offer much more than just personal ruminations and reflections on the meaning of life. If you have ever tried to read the work of Eberhard Jüngel (he's not called "hard" for nothing) and struggled, then you may like to know that over at the blog devoted to his work a new series has started to guide and accompany readers through Jüngel's seminal God's Being is in Becoming. The first two posts are here and here. Even if you don't have a copy of the book on your shelves, you should take a look in order to get a feel for what seem initially to be obtuse doctrinal debates, but which turn out to be fundamentally significant doctrinal questions about the nature of God and God's relationship with the world.
A good chunk of my doctoral thesis was spent exploring Paul's use of the topos of friendship in his letter to the Philippians. Since then, I have continued my interest in the theme of friendship, both historically as a central part of social relations in the wider environment of early Christianity, and theologically as a potential resource for construing social relations today and the implications this might have for ethics, politics and our understanding of church.
So, I was delighted to find that Mark Vernon, author of a very important book on the topic, also has a blog devoted to the theme. And Mark has begun a first-rate project of podcasting 20 short lectures which summarise the main themes of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics Books VIII and IX. The first is an excellent example of a podcast - short, interesting and informative. Maybe someone should start to do the same with, say, one of Paul's letters.
Anyone wanting to explore the theme in more detail should get Mark's book. I would also recommend:
DERRIDA, JACQUES, Politics of Friendship, trans. George Collins (London / New York: Verso, 1997) - for contemporary ethical reflection
CARMICHAEL, E. D. H., Friendship: Interpreting Christian Love (London / New York: T & T Clark International, 2004) - on history of friendship within Christian thought and writing
'Assorted Articles on Friendship', Interpretation, 58 (2004) - an issue of the journal devoted to the theme
FOWL, STEPHEN E., Philippians (Two Horizons New Testament Commentary; Grand Rapids / Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2005). - concluding with a theology of friendship emerging from a study of the letter
There are a number of more technical articles on the theme in Philippians. Friendship is also a major theme in the work of Stanley Hauerwas.
Monday, 10 July 2006
This is Ernst Käsemann in his wonderful polemic Jesus Means Freedom: A Polemical Survey of the New Testament, trans. Frank Clarke (London: SCM, 1969) reflecting on the question "Was Jesus a Liberal?" and attacking on the wrong kind of orthodoxy which:
"...has neither humour in the face of the necessarily tentative nature of our search for truth, nor the essential theological perception of the fact that no one can ever get the measure of the Lord. It takes its stand against history and the historical spirit, without suspecting that one is thereby opposing the creator of history. It claims revelation, not realizing that revelation is new every day, even if it takes the form of heretical distortions, which non the less rediscover new country or old truth in their own, inevitably human, way. ... The church sings 'Thou who breakest every fetter' but nothing is so alien to it as the One who breaks all fetters, even devout and orthodox ones." (pp.29-30)
"The sum total of dogmatics is much too difficult for all of us, and Jesus never asked anyone whether he believed in the virgin birth, the resurrection of the dead, and the descent into hell. But co-humanity is something that he actually lived, gave, and demanded. If I knew nothing else about him, I should still know about him. If I had no other faith to live by, I should yet live and believe with him, and one single beam of his light in our existence seems to me more important than the full sun of orthodoxy." (p.35)
I love the oblique reference to Romans 11.33-36 in the first quotation. Not much theological writing is done in polemical vein these days (the recent example that springs to mind is Jüngel's Justification) but what Käsemann lacks in precision he more than makes up for in passionate and prophetic insight.
Update: Frank Rees has another wonderful quotation from Käsemann over at To Be Frank.
Friday, 07 July 2006
Mark Goodacre has gathered together some of the responses to a questionnaire about blogging and theological reflection that Frankie Ward has been sending around. I responded to Frankie's email a while back now and, seeing that others have gone public, post my reponses to her questions below.
1. How long have you been blogging?
Just over a year - I started in July 2005
2. What got you started?
At the time I was the Doctrine Co-ordinator for the Faith and Unity Executive of the Baptist Union of Great Britain. I had long felt that we needed an online forum to discuss and share news of theological stuff that related to Baptist life in the UK. The blog was a personal attempt to offer something that met this need, but inevitably was also shaped by my own personal interests (not least NT studies). I had also long admired Mark Goodacre's New Testament Gateway Weblog. Mark is a friend so I nicked his idea.
3. Do you have a history of diary/journal/log writing beforehand?
4. How in your own mind do you negotiate the boundary between private and public? E.g. are there things that you would not put on your blog that you would put in a journal?
Not having ever written a journal this is hard to say, but theoretically the answer must be yes. The public nature of blogging means that (a) there is a certain degree of self-regulation in terms of content and (b) that there are certain expectations of what people come to your blog to read and discover. There is loads of stuff that I would never blog about.
5. How do you decide? What criteria do you use for inclusion/exclusion?
My criteria for inclusion is pretty simple: do I find it interesting? does it relate broadly to the focus of the blog? will those who read it possibly find is interesting?
6. How much time, on average, do you spend blogging each day or week?
My blogging is fitful - but I would say about an hour a week on average
7. How many other people do you actively engage with – e.g. are part of your blog community?
Not sure how to answer this, but I have 48 feeds into my Bloglines aggregator if that helps and I get about 300-500 visitors a month to the blog.
8. Who is your readership – literally; as far as you know?
Many of them friends, former students and other Baptist ministers and NT colleagues. I rarely get a comment left by someone I don't know personally.
9. and metaphorically? Do you imagine someone to whom you write/with whom you engage?
10. What counts as successful blogging?
Regularity, Quality (I hate blogs where the person dones't know what they ar talking about) and a certain love of the quirky that keeps you interested.
11. What does blogging offer as a method of theological reflection?
a. Its opportunities
b. Its draw backs
12. What potential do you see for blogging as a method of theological reflection?
I guess the community focus and capacity for easy, accessible reflection is the main opportunity and potential. However, my own view would be that blogging is a 1st order level of reflection and that the best media for sustained work is still probably peer-reviewed journals etc. (print or online). Blogs aren't places where you can easily put up a thesis chapter - but they are a place where your thoughts and reflection on what might go into a thesis chapter can be shared for others to engage with.
13. Do you know of examples of theological education programmes where students are required to keep a learning journal and blog as a form of journal?
14. Blogging and gender: do you think gender makes any difference to any of the above questions?"
maybe not to the above questions, but there was a long debate earlier this year about why so few women blog, so there are clearly some questions around whether women find blogging a useful or helpful medium.
I met with Frankie last week and she is planning to use the data gathered from the responses in a paper she is giving to the British and Irish Association of Practical Theology (BIAPT) Conference next week which is being held here at Luther King House. As part of the paper she will be setting up a blog live as a resource for Conference participants.
For those who are fans of Walter Brueggemann: you may like to explore the resources on this site. Lots of articles, interviews etc with the great scholar and rhetorician (no-one can make preaching sound scholarly and scholarship sound like preaching quite like Brueggemann). Hat tip to Chris Tilling.
As a theological teacher I am often trying to convince students that studying theology is important and transformative. But better than anything I could say is the testimony of someone whose life has been changed by their studies. So a big thanks to Sven for this post, which describes the journey that so many of us have been on, and that so many of us long for others to take.
Thursday, 06 July 2006
The abstracts of the papers being delivered at the Paul seminar of this year's British New Testament Conference have been posted. They are:
Session 1: Paul and Philo
Professor John M.G. Barclay (University of Durham)
'"By the Grace of God I am what I am": Grace and Agency in Philo and Paul'
There is general consensus now that the psychic and pneumatic man in 1 Cor 15 do not derive from proto-Gnosticism. About the relevance of Philo's differentiation between two types of man there is still debate. However, most of those who regard Philo relevant for understanding 1 Cor 15 construe a difference between Paul and Philo, reckoning with the possibility that Paul argues in fact against a Corinthian version of the two types of man anthropology known from Philo. The main reason why this is the case, it is argued, is that the sequence in Philo of the first, pneumatic man and the second, psychic man seems to be consciously inverted by Paul: 'Observe, the pneumatic does not come first but the psychic, and only subsequently the pneumatic' (1 Cor 15.46). In this paper I wish to show, however, that both Philo and Paul adopt the same tripartite anthropology and distinguish between body, psyche and pneuma. Also Philo is of the opinion that the first pneumatic man is subject to degeneration and that, for that reason, the second, psychic man should be restored to his original ideal, the heavenly man. This transition from psychic to pneumatic man is basically similar to that in Paul. Both develop a soteriological tripartite anthropology which aims at man's re-spiritualization.
Session 2: Reception History of Pauline Letters ~(Joint session with Reception History seminar)
Emeritus Professor John Riches (Glasgow University)
'The Reception History of Gal. 6:15'
Dr. Mark Elliott (St. Andrews University)
'Behind and beyond Parker: the key moments and voices in Reformation Romans commentating''
We are indebted to T.H.L. Parker's Commentaries on Romans 1532-1542 (T&T Clark, 1986) in which he deals painstakingly with 11 commentaries proper written between 1532 and 1542. Parker was prepared to state his opinions: Melanchthon was a giant, Calvin is to be praised for his single-minded objectivity(x). There is admiration for Bucer even though he is unreadable. Bullinger is great on theory, less so in practice. Yet, Sadoleto (pace Roussel) is quite mediocre; indeed, as a group, the Catholics seemed to find Romans hard going. They did not use rhetorical tools to explain texts. Perhaps they were looking over their shoulders; after all, Sorbonne and Catharinus censured Caietanâ€™s attempts for being interested in Erasmus NT and the OT Hebrew.
There are three matters in which there is room for complementing Parker's work. There seems in Parker a tip-toeing around controversial and polemical theology and no real account of the awareness of other opposed views. Second, in giving us what 11 commentators had to say on Rom 1.18-23; 2.13; 3.20-28, he does not centre on the passage which must have given the sharpest differences of opinion: Romans 7:14-8:4. Third, in limiting himself to a decade the story of Romans in the Reformation lacks its beginning as well as its resolution. Parker's work is invaluable, but is a spur. In this paper, a review of treatments of Rom 7:14-8:4 and their reception will aim to show more clearly what was at issue between the interpreters.
Session 3: Open session
Mr. Preston Sprinkle (University of Aberdeen)
'Paul and the Law: The Use of Leviticus 18:5 in Romans 9:30-10:8'
This paper will examine Paul's citation of Leviticus 18:5 in Romans 10:5 in particular, and the larger argument of 9:30-10:8 in general. Attention will be given to how the Leviticus citation interacts with Paul's exegesis of Deuteronomy 30:11-14 in Romans 10:6-8. This passage as a whole has proven to be one of the most difficult in Pauline literature and is crucial for a proper understanding of Paul's view of the Law.
I will first examine briefly the various interpretative options that are popular today, assessing both the strengths and weaknesses of some recent proposals (esp. Francis Watson, Ross Wagner, N.T. Wright). I will then argue that the passage can be best understood when viewed through the lens of the hermeneutics of prophetic criticism. One feature of prophetic criticism is to show that the conditionally of the Old Covenant gives rise to its failure, and in order for God to save his people, he promises to act in an unconditional manner. Leviticus 18:5 captures, for Paul, this mark of conditionally, while Deuteronomy 30:11-14 the unconditional act of God in the Christ-event.
Assistant professor Yon Kwon (Westminster Graduate School of Theology, Seoul)
'Spirit as arrabon and aparche: Pledge or down payment?'
1. The Problem: In Pauline scholarship, arrabon and aparche, two crucial metaphors for the Spirit are typically interpreted as reflecting the eschatological tension between the 'already realized' but 'not completed yet'. However, such a view, essentially based on the 'inner logic' of the metaphors themselves, seems to run counter to the thrust of Paul's arguments themselves. A more 'context-friendly' interpretation seems required.
2. A lexicographical consideration A selection of examples (Greco-Roman, LXX. , and NT) will be examined, mainly to demonstrate the multiplicity of their potential meanings. The metaphors are ambiguous in themselves, so the context should provide the interepretive key.
3. In this main section of the paper, I will examine the role of the two metaphors in context, paying special attention to how they actually help Paul accomplish his argumentative goal.
1) Arrabon in 2 Corinthians 1:22 Paul's main concern is his apostolic integrity, with the metaphor serving as God's pledge of ownership of Paul.
2) 2 Corinthians 5:5 Here the sharply contrastive diction between present and future (visible and "invisible") dominates Paul's argument, rendering the idea of a 'partial fulfilment' out of place.
3) Aprache in Romans 8:23. There is similar contrast between present suffering and future glory, with a heightened accentuation of the 'not yet'. The hope is invisible, but we have the Spirit as God's guarantee for the surety of that 'invisible' glory.
4) The present is a time of suffering with the future still invisible. Listening to Paul's argument, it would be virtually impossible for the hearers to take Paul's references to arrabon and aprache in an 'already but not yet' sort of way. Paul is not mitigating the severity of the present by making the future already present, either partially or anticipatory. He is rather giving them encouragement, stressing the surety of their hope evidenced by the work of the Spirit.
5. Conclusion: Interpreting the 'dialectic' Paul or making Paul 'dialectic'?
Much of this looks interesting, although I know very little about Philo and will want to do a bit of background reading before listening to John Barclay's paper. I had meant to submit a paper proposal myself, but missed the deadline; good job because I already have enough stuff to write over the summer. Oh, and don't you just love the name "Preston Sprinkle"!