Thursday, October 25, 2007

Guest Post on Evil and the Justice of God

N. T. Wright, Anglican Bishop of Durham, has garnered a reputation for, to borrow the title of his most recent work on Paul, ‘fresh perspectives’. In his recent Evil and the Justice of God (London/Downers Grove: SPCK/IVP, 2006), Wright provides another fresh perspective, this time on the problem of evil. Addressing his subject as a biblical scholar rather than as a philosopher, he judges that the Scriptures perceive and portray the ‘problem of evil’ much differently than what is typical of philosophical accounts. Inherent to his project, then, is the attempt to redefine biblically both the problem of evil and what counts as an adequate solution. His basic argument is captured in the following statement: ‘Evil isn’t simply a philosophers’ puzzle, but a reality which stalks our streets and damages people’s lives, homes and property. The quest for a solution is not the quest for an intellectually satisfying answer to the problem of why evil is there in the first place, but the search for ways in which the healing, restorative justice of the creator God himself, which will one day suffuse the whole creation, can be brought to bear in advance of that ultimate reality, within the present world of space, time, matter and the messy realities of human lives and societies’ (p. 98). Wright thus outlines a salvation-historical solution to the biblical problem of evil.

The first chapter is an exercise in cultural interpretation. Here, Wright uncovers several inadequate responses to evil that stem either from modern optimism or postmodern nihilism. Chapter 2 expounds the problem of evil in biblical perspective. Wright finds that biblical evil is that which sidetracks the Creator’s purpose by corrupting the creatures charged with creation’s care. The biblical solution to evil, then, is the historical redemption of humanity through Israel and, ultimately, Jesus Christ. Accordingly, Wright in chapter 3 turns to the cross where God’s redemptive purposes with Israel reach their climax and fulfillment. The Gospels, according to Wright, narrate the ways in which God in Jesus Christ draws evil onto himself, ‘exhausts’ its power in the cross, and inaugurates the new creation of the world through the resurrection. Christus Victor is for Wright the root metaphor of the atonement after which ‘all other theories [of atonement] come in to play their respective parts’ (p. 59), and new creation is God’s solution to evil. Interestingly, ‘forgiveness of sins’ is interpreted by Wright as ‘release’ from the corrupting effects of evil and thus is synonymous with ‘resurrection’; both are acts of new creation since both purge evil and restore creatures to their original dignity.

How might the church participate in God’s solution to evil? Wright argues in chapter 4 that since God’s solution to evil is the new creation in which evil is absent then believers are to "imagine" this new world. Such, says Wright, will provoke Christians to positive social action. Chapter 5 explicates forgiveness as the present mode of participation in God’s solution to evil for forgiveness anticipates the new creation by releasing both victim and victimizer from the alienating effects of interpersonal evil. Salvation and forgiveness, not conceptual clarity and answered questions, is the real solution to the real problem of evil.

Wright’s proposal here is provocative, refreshing, and rooted in pastorally sensitive canonical exegesis. And while his attempt to supplant the philosophical problem is probably more distracting than satisfying to the philosophers, it can hardly be denied that his biblical account of evil and its salvation-historical solution helpfully redirects the philosophical debates and refocuses them upon the Bible (a testimony to Wright’s commitment to the sufficiency of Scripture). Given philosophy’s monopoly on the subject, this biblically-oriented approach is a significant addition to the literature.

For a fuller review, see my review forthcoming in Heythrop Journal.

James R. A. Merrick
King’s College, University of Aberdeen

Guest Post Announcement

A few weeks ago, one of the new Ph.D. students here (James Merrick) asked me to look over a book-review he was submitting to Heythrop Journal on N. T. Wright's, Evil and the Justice of God. Having read the review, I found Wright's book quite interesting and decided to ask James if he would be interested in posting a shorter version of his review on this blog. Thankfully, he accepted my invitation.

By way of introduction, James is doing a PhD in Systematic Theology and is doing research on the role of tradition in Karl Barth's theology. James previously studied at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he completed an M. A. in Christian Thought and a Th.M. in Church History. He is also an ordained Anglican minister and served for three years as deacon and rector at The Church of Christ the King (Evanston, IL). Finally, James has been married for five years to his college sweetheart, Allison.

Friday, September 28, 2007

J. Muddiman on the Authorship of Ephesians

One of the issues related to Ephesians I will have to eventually explore in my research is the thorny "question" of its authorship. This is, of course, only natural at this level of study. True, I could simply bypass the discussion by taking some sort of literary stance that obviates historical questions. But, while I do plan to employ a literary methodology (specifically, inter-textuality), I tend to think that my research on Ephesians might help us better understand statements in the "genuine" Pauline letters. At any rate, I just finished looking at the introduction to J. Muddiman's commentary on Ephesians and thought I would provide a little summary of his interesting proposal.

Muddiman begins by raising questions regarding the supposed dependence of Ephesians on Colossians. Muddiman notes that Ephesians is not as similar to Colossians as often argued and that if someone has created Ephesians by editing Colossians, then this really person "has transcribed only one short paragraph (6.21-2)" (pg. 32). Rather than outright accepting Pauline authorship of Ephesians, Muddiman basically proposes that a genuine letter of Paul has been edited and this document has become the canonical "Letter to the Ephesians."

While I can appreciate the historical problems raised by what one finds in Ephesians, I do have to wonder if it is stilll necessary to erect this chasm between the Paul of the "genuine" letters and the author of Ephesians. I do appreciate how close Muddiman comes at times to accepting Pauline authorship of Ephesians. For example, in discussing the theology of Ephesians, Muddiman states, "some theological emphases in Ephesians are sufficiently different and later than Paul . . . but they sit alongside authentic expressions of Paul's own distinctive emphases" (20). Muddiman seemingly sees the author of Ephesians as at once different from the "true" Paul (whoever that is) but at the same time quite faithful to Paul. No doubt Ephesians is unique. Yet, it is this uniqueness (possibly arising from its historical purpose) that while making it difficult to accept Pauline authorship, also makes it difficult to develop satisfactory alternatives. In the end, accepting Pauline authorship is at least as viable as any other proposal and should thus receive more credibility from the academy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Back in business

Sorry for the lack of posting over the past few months. We spent most of the summer spending time with family and getting lots of R & R. At any rate, we have finally arrived in Aberdeen and are settling in quite well (amazingly enough). I should be able to get back to more consistent blogging as my research develops.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Best Commentary on 2 Corinthians(?)

I finally finished my review of Murray J. Harris' "The Second Epistle to the Corinthians" for Faith & Mission. Anyway, I'm pretty well convinced that this has to be the best commentary on 2 Corinthians. Given how much I love Barnett's commentary in the NICNT series, that really is saying something! Here are what I perceive to be the strength's of this commentary (in no particular order):

1) its massive bibliography (102 pages), which is supplemented by the bibliographies provided at the end of his discussion of each passage;
2) its extensive introduction dealing with historical, literary, and theological issues (Harris gives an able defense of the letter's unity and interestingly argues that Paul's "opponents" are a combination of i) proto-Gnostics; ii) Palestinian Judaizers)
3) its readability (Harris certainly doesn't avoid technical issues - consider the series, after all - but I got the sense that he was aiming to write a very "reader-oriented" commentary)
4) its lengthy discussion (45 pages!) of 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 (Harris essentially suggests Paul is here arguing that believers who die before the parousia - Harris argues that v. 6-10 do not refer to the parousia - are in the immediate presence of God but are nonetheless in some sort of disembodied state; cf. J. Cooper, Body, Soul, and Life Everlasting)
5) its extended paraphrase that helps clarify the exegetical decisions outlined in the commentary proper (those who opposed dynamic equivalence translations would certainly disagree but I would love to see more publishers include extended paraphrases in future exegetical commentaries) .

Undoubtedly, a proper NT library would need to include more than this single volume on 2 Corinthians. At the same time, one could not have a proper NT library without it!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mark Taylor on the Structure of James (Part 4)

Here's my fourth post on M. Taylor's, A Text-Linguistic Investigation into the Discourse Structure of James. The next few posts will probably concentrate on Taylor's sixth (and final) chapter on the structure of James. Since this is probably the most important (and detailed) chapter in the book, I'll probably do one post for every chapter in the actual letter of James. Here is a summary of Taylor's analysis of James 1.

* Taylor begins his discussion of James 1 by noting that most scholars now see this chapter as a summation of central ideas and themes that will be discussed in the remainder of the letter (i.e., an introduction)
* Taylor suggests that the author develops James 1 as an introduction by:
i. the creation of a double inclusion at 1:2–4 and 1:12, 25 through the notion of being blessed when one endures trials (100)
ii. parallels between James 1 and James 2:1–13 (see above)
iii. the clustering of third-person imperatives in James 1:4–19 and James 5:12–20 (such verb forms occur only elsewhere at James 3:13 and 4:9)
iv. the transitional nature of James 1:26–27, which serves something of a foundational role for the remaining instruction
* Regarding the actual structure of James 1, Taylor places great stress on the 'double inclusion' he discerns at 1:2-4, 12 and 1:12, 25. On the basis of this 'double inclusion', Taylor argues that 1:13-27 is "a balanced literary unit in close relationship to 1.2-12" (104). Taylor also argues that the repeated references to deception (1:16, 22, 26) should play an important role in this discussion.
* Taylor proposes the following parallel arrangement of James 1:2-27:
i. 1:2–4 =The Spiritual Benefit of Trials// 1:13–15 =Don’t Be Deceived Regarding Temptation
ii. 1:5–8 =The Need for Righteous Wisdom// 1:16–25 =Don’t Be Deceived Regarding Righteous Wisdom
iii. 1:9–11 =Wise Attitudes for Rich and Poor// 1:26–27 =Don’t Be Deceived Regarding Religious Practice.

A few comments are certainly in order. First, I find Taylor's discussion of the relationship between James 1 and the remainder of the letter extremely helpful. This is especially true of his suggestions regarding the use of imperatives in James 1 and 5, as well as the central role of James 1:26-27. I also think his summary descriptions of the individual sections of James 1 generally represent the author's thought. However, I'm not entirely convinced that James 1:16-25 should be read together (Taylor himself notes the presence of several major breaks at 1:18-19 and 1:20-21; these observations are probably pertinent at this point).
Finally, while I'm open to the presence of a 'double inclusion' in James 1 (Taylor seems to suggest that to "persevere" in v. 25 parallels "remaining steadfast under trial" in v. 12; note also the repetition of the adjective "blessed" in v. 25), at this point I'm only comfortable stating that the presence of this inclusion need not require one interpret James 1:2-12 and James 1:13-27 in parallel fashion, as Taylor does. The key factor would be the internal data and if James 1:16-25 should be broken into two or three individual sections (as I suggest above), the internal data would not seem to allow for this parallel arrangement. Nonetheless, Taylor's analysis seems quite thorough and his proposal very intriguing. More study on this point is certainly needed.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Helpful Ancient Hebrew Web-Site

For those of you like me who need a user friendly, interactive, and most importantly, free online ancient Hebrew tutor, check out this web-site: link

I haven't looked at this site extensively but so far it seems really helpful. The notes and exercises are based on Page Kelley's, Biblical Hebrew: An Introductory Grammar. I have no idea how this text compares to other recent ancient Hebrew grammars, but as far as I'm concerned, anything has to be better than Weingreen:-)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Great News!

After many months of waiting, it looks like I will be enrolling this Fall in the PhD program at the University of Aberdeen. This thankfully ends a rather long and wearisome time for my wife and me. This is also the initial fulfillment of a dream that I have had for quite some time. Praise the Lord, it also means I won't have to work as a security guard for the rest of my life :-)

Regarding my research topic, for now I will say that it will probably involve the "new creation" theme in Ephesians. More on this to come, I suppose.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Mark Taylor on the Structure of James (Part 3)

Here's my third post on M. Taylor's, A Text-Linguistic Investigation into the Discourse Structure of James. This post is basically a summary of the remainder of Taylor's analysis of the relationship between the major sections in James. Given the detailed nature of this part of Taylor's study, I've tried to trace his general argument and concentrate on highlighting how Taylor sees the author linking the various units of thought.

* Relationships Between Discourse Units in James

* Suggests that James 1:26–27 plays an important role in the development of James 2:1–13
i. the poor man is welcomed with inappropriate speech
ii. note the lack of mercy shown to the poor man
iii. the external standard of judgment described in James 2:1–13 exhibits the worldly influence warned against in James 1:27
* Suggests that James 2:14–26 is loosely connected to James 1:22–25 through the use of key-words such as “doer,” “work,” “faith,” and words in the tel- word group. Taylor also suggests that James 2:14–26 is closely related to James 2:1–13 through the use of various parallels (eg. “My brothers . . . faith” – 2:1, 14; kalws poieite, 2:8// kalws poieis, 2:19) (92)
* Suggests James 3:1–12 is linked to James 1 through their identical opening address (“my brothers”), key-words (eg. teleios, dunatos), and similar descriptions of the tongue (cf. 1:13–14, 26–27; 3:6, 8). Taylor also suggests James 3:1–12 is linked to James 2:1–13 and 2:14–26 in various ways, including their similar opening addresses, use of words in the tel– word group (cf. 2:22; 3:2); references to stumbling (cf. 2:10; 3:2)
* Regarding James 3:13–18, Taylor suggests that it is best viewed as a transitional section (as is James 4:11–12). He thus places a break in topic at 4:1 and describes this as the “emotional climax” of the entire composition (93)
* Regarding the relationship between James 4:1–10 and James 1, Taylor notes that the problems and vices described in 4:1–10 build upon “the author’s discussion of temptation, lust and the ultimate outcome of death described in 1.14–15 and the issue of proper vs. improper ‘asking’ raised in 1.5–7” (93–94). Taylor also notes that the term dipsuchoi occurs in 1:8 and 4:8. Finally, Taylor proposes that several key-words link James 4:1–10 with 3:1–18 (melesin – 3:6, 4:1; kakws/ kakos – 3:8, 4:3; meizon/ meizona – 3:1, 4:6)
* Taylor suggests that James 4:13–5:6 is linked to James 1 by means of their common warning regarding improper speech (1:13, 19, 26; 4:13–16). Taylor also suggests these texts are linked by the contrast between the promised “crown of life” in 1:12 and the author’s description of the precariousness of life in 4:14. Taylor admits that this is a tenuous connection but argues that “there may be intentional thematic ties with 1.9–11 and the emphasis upon the future destiny of the ‘rich’ who will pass away in their pursuits” (94–95). He also suggests these texts are linked by means of key-words (eg. hamartia – 1:15, 4:17; kauchasthw/ kauchasthe – 1:9, 4:16). Regarding the relationship between James 4:13–5:6, Taylor notes that both address conceited attitudes (esp. 4:6, 13–16). Taylor again notes that various key-words establish a link between James 4:13–5:6 and James 4:1–10 (kardias – 4:8, 5:5; phoneuw/ ephoneusate – 4:2, 5:6). Taylor also notes the presence of an inclusion at 4:6 and 5:6. Finally, he notes the presence of distant hook words at 4:9 and 5:1
i. palaipwrhsate / klausate (4:9)
ii. klausate / palaipwriais (5:1)
* Taylor suggests James 5:7–20 is linked to James 1 by means of the “endurance” motif (cf. 1:3, 4, 12; 5: 7, 11). He also notes the conceptual similarity between the “prayer of faith” in 5:15 and the “asking in faith” in 1:6. Taylor also proposes that “the concern for recapturing the brother who has wandered from the truth appropriately ends the letter and indicates what the author has been attempting to do for the readers throughout the composition” (96). He then suggests that James 5:19–20 and 1:16–21 are linked through such key-words as planaw, alhtheia, thanatos, and hamartia.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Biblical Exegesis in "The Book of Watchers"

I got my review copy of Archie Wright's, The Origin of Evil Spirits: The Reception of Genesis 6.1-4 in Early Jewish Literature, from Faith & Mission (the academic journal for SEBTS) last week. I'm hoping that doing this review will 1) force me to become more familiar with 1 Enoch and its related secondary literature; 2) help me gain a better understanding of the cosmology that (possibly) underlies Ephesians.
I'm not certain how much I will comment on this book here, but I can foresee at least a few posts. Anyway, I found Wright's description of the relationship between 1 Enoch 1-36 ("The Book of Watchers") and Genesis 6:1-4 very stimulating, so here it is:

"Genesis 6.1-4 tells the story of the bene elohim and their encounter with the daughters of humanity which resulted in the birth of the gibborim. The passage is positioned in the biblical narrative as a prelude to the judgment of the Flood. However, on the surface nothing in the biblical text of Genesis 6.1-4 demands that the reader understand those verses in a negative light, that is, as depicting some action or event that is considered inappropriate or dubious. It is necessary to evaluate the traditions (e.g., the negative aspects of the 'angels of the nations') that underlie Genesis 6.1-4 in order to assess properly why the text is commendable as the starting point of the Watcher tradition. This is to say, the Watcher tradition represents a type of biblical synthesis and exposition; it is the 'superimposition' of negative traditions onto the relatively neutral position of Genesis 6.1-4" (6).

I'm not sure how original Wright's idea is (as previously noted, I'm quite unfamiliar with work related to 1 Enoch). But, I do find it a helpful description of what seems to be going on in 1 Enoch 1-36. Also, two things in this statement are particularly interesting to me: 1) his suggestion that the "angel of the nations" tradition lies behind Gen 6:1-4 and hence 1 Enoch 1-36; 2) his suggestion that 1 Enoch 1-36 is a "'superimposition' of negative traditions" on the biblical text.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Mark Taylor on the Structure of James (Part 2)

Here's my second post on M. Taylor's, A Text-Linguistic Investigation into the Discourse Structure of James. As one reads through this book, the final two chapters seem particularly weighty and detailed. I'll therefore split these chapters up into several posts. The following is my summary of the first major portion of Taylor's discussion on the relationship between the various major sections in James.

Chapter 5 – Relationship Between Discourse Units in James
· Taylor seeks to explain how individual units with James “work together to present a unified message” (72)
· Notes that unity is achieved in James through
1. the use of imperatives;
2. use of catchwords;
3. references to God and the community;
4. the use of the tel- word group (allows for the development of the “perfection” theme);
5. the development of ‘double-minded’/ ‘world’ theme (this is the antithesis of the "perfection" theme);
6. the "law" theme;
7. the "salvation"/ "judgment" theme;
8. the "proper speech" theme;
· Suggests the author uses the following transition devices:
1) ‘hook words’ ("a common word at the end of one section and at the beginning of the next thus yielding a transition between the two," p. 77);
2) ‘hooked key words’ ("a transition being effected by (1) a characteristic term used in teh second unit and introduced in conclusion of the first, (2) a characteristic term in the first unit used in the introduction of the next, or (3) a combination of the two, p. 78)
3) ‘distant hook words’ ("key lexical items that appear to have some transitional/linking function but are separated by one or more intervening units," p. 80)
4) parallel introductions (Taylor here notes several parallels between the introductory statements of 1:2–25 and 2:1–13/ Taylor also suggests that several successive passages begin in similar ways- eg. 3:13; 4:1)
5) ‘overlapping constituents’ (when a passage both serves as the conclusion of a unit and the introduction of another unit) /Taylor here primarily identifies James 1:12, which he argues concludes 1:1–11 and introduces 1:13–25
6) proverbial statements (Taylor suggests that these statement primarily function as “transitional/summary statements linking larger units”) (83)

Taylor then devotes careful attention to James 1:12, 1:26–27; 2:12–13; 3:13–18; 4:11–12; 5:9; 5:12, which he argues are significant transitional/summary statements of proverbial character. He concludes, “In summary, 1.12, an overlapping transition, unites the opening chapter around the theme of the ‘blessed’ person who endures. The chapter closes with 1.26–27, a unit that brings the opening to an appropriate conclusion and anticipates the major emphases of the rest of the letter. James 2.12–13 summarizes the lead essay of the body proper (2.1–11), anticipates thematically the following two major units (2.14–26, 3.1–12), and stands in a unique relationship to 4.11–12. The pericope on wisdom, 3.13–18, significantly relates to what precedes and follows and stands as a major turning point in the letter. The remaining transition passages (4.11–12, 5.9, 5.12) have common structures and reinforce to the reader the key themes of speech and judgment. Collectively, these dynamics argue for a well-structured, intentionally arranged discourse” (90)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Mark Taylor on the Structure of James (Part 1)

I came across this very interesting book on the structure of James last week: A Text-Linguistic Investigation into the Discourse Structure of James, by Mark Taylor. Anyone who has done even the slightest amount of research on this letter knows the difficulty involved in following James' train of thought. Here's a brief summary of the contents of chapters 1-4.

Chapter 1 - Approaches to the Structure of James

  • Concludes that most scholars are beginning to see James as a literary whole

  • Notes the overthrow of Dibelius’ suggestion that James is a collection of somewhat random pericopes

  • Suggests unity achieved through the use of various devices such as catchwords, thematic expansions, and recapitulation

  • Notes that most scholars argue that James 1 presents the “key” to the structure of the entire letter

  • Observes that while there is a general consensus that James is a literary whole, there is little agreement regarding how individual units function within the larger discourse

Chapter 2- Methodology

  • Begins with a discussion of text-linguistics and its application to New Testament studies

  • Explains the particular approach, cohesion shift analysis - developed by G. Guthrie - he employs in this analysis

  • Cohesion Shift Analysis essentially refers to the attempt to determine a composition’s structure by carefully analyzing various linguistic phenomena (eg. genre, verbal aspect, person reference) in order to observe specific “breaks in the text” (42-43)

Chapter 3 - Cohesion Shift Analysis

  • Seeks to determine where “cohesion shifts” (i.e., “breaks in the text”) occur in James with a view to better understanding its structure

  • Concludes that important cohesion shifts occur at James 1:9, 12, 13, 16, 19, 21; 2:1, 5b, 14, 21, 25; 3:1, 13; 4:1, 7, 11, 13; 5:1, 6, 12 , 16, 19

  • Also notes that “significant shifts occur before and after 1.12, 1.16, 4.11-12, 5.6 and 5.12 thus indicating their independent character in that they are " ‘isolated’ from the surrounding context, at least as far as the cohesion dynamics are concerned” (58)

Chapter 4 - The Use of Inclusio in James

  • Seeks to determine how the presence of inclusions helps reveal the letter’s structure

  • Helpfully notes (following Guthrie) that repetition of words, phrases, etc. does not necessarily indicate the presence of an inclusio. The presence of repetition may thus serve other functions.

  • Argues for the presence of inclusions at the following points of the letter:
    James 1:2-4// 1:12 (does see 1:12 as creating a “bridge” into the next section)
    James 1:12// 1:25 (also suggest 1:25 is a summary statement)
    James 1:16// 1:19
    James 1:13//1 :21 [Taylor concludes his discussion of inclusions in James 1 by suggesting, “a sustained argument is developed relating to the character of God, the demands of his word and his actions upon believers” (64)]
    James 2:1// 2:9
    James 2:12-13// 4:11-12 [Taylor suggests this is “perhaps the most important, yet overlooked, uses of inclusio by the author of James” (64)]
    James 2:14-16// 2:26
    James 2:14// 2: 6-17
    James 2:20// 2:26
    James 3:1// 3:12
    James 4:1// 4:3
    James 4:7// 5:6
    James 5:7-11

  • Taylor actually argues for the presence of several inclusions in James 5:7-11, suggesting that this is “a highly structured, carefully balanced section” (68)

  • Taylor’s representation of the structure of James 5:7-11:

  • A “Grand Inclusio” at James 1:25 and 5:7-20
    o Here Taylor follows P. Davids, W. Wuellner, and T Penner in arguing for the presence of “several significant connections between 1.2-25 and 5.7-20” (69)
    o Taylor states, “Thematically, both the opening [1:2-25] and the closing [5:7-20] convey an eschatological outlook. The eschatological reversal of 1.9-11, the crown of life in 1.12, and the promise of future blessing to the one who obeys in 1.25 correspond to the promised return of the Lord in 5.7-11. Likewise, the telos kuriou, with reference to the testing of Job in 5.11, encourages further reflection on the eschatological outcome of trials promised in 1.2-4 (cf. the use of teleios) (70)


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Structure of Ephesians 2:11-22

Again, see my post on 8/16/06 for an explanation of the notation used in this analysis.

Therefore remember that at one time you → INTRO (11a)
Gentiles in the flesh → ORIENTER 11a (11b)
called "the uncircumcision" → ORIENTER 11a (11c)
by what is called the circumcision → ELABORATION 11c (11d)
which is made in the flesh by hands → ELABORATION/ QUALIFIER 11d (11e)
remember that you were at that time → INTRO cont. 11a (12a)
separated from Christ → CONTENT 11a/12a (12b)
alienated from the commonwealth of Israel → CONTENT 11a/12a (12c)
and strangers to the covenants of promise → CONTENT 11a/12a (12d)
having no hope → CONTENT 11a/12a (12e)
and without God in the world → CONTENT 11a/12a (12f)
But now in Christ Jesus → ORIENTER 11a-12f (13a)
you who once were far off have been brought near → MAIN IDEA (13b)
by the blood of Christ → MEANS 13b (13c)
For he himself is our peace → EXPLANATION 11a–13b (14a)
who has made us both one → RESULT 14a (14b)
and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility → RESULT 14a (14c)
by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances → MEANS 14c (15a)
that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two → PURPOSE 14a-15a (15b)
so making peace → RESULT 15b (15c)
and might reconcile us both to God in one body → PURPOSE 14a-15a (16a)
through the cross → MEANS 16a (16b)
thereby killing the hostility → RESULT 16ab (16c)
And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near → ELABORATION 13b (17a)
For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father → GROUNDS 17a (18a)
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens → RESULT 13a-18a (19a)
but you are fellow citizens with the saints → RESULT 13a-18a (19b)
and members of the household of God → RESULT 13a-18a (19c)
built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets → REASON 19abc (20a)
Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone → QUALIFICATION 20a (20b)
in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord → ELABORATION 20b (21a)
In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit → CLARIFICATION 21a (22a)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Ben Witherington on President Ford

HERE are some timely reflections from Dr Witherington's blog about President Ford. Apparently Dr Witherington went to Gordon-Conwell with President Ford's son, Mike. Definitely worth a read!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Ancient Magic and Ephesians

Here is an interesting text from 1 Enoch that helps reveal the attitude towards magical rites in the ancient world:

"And they will worship stones, and others will make graven images of gold and silver and wood and clay, and others willl worship impure spirits and demons and all kinds of superstitions not according to knowledge, notwithstanding no manner of help will be found in them" (1 Enoch 99:7)

The final phrase of this sentence seems to convey one of primary motives behind this idolatorous and demonic worship - acquiring help in various aspects of life. What does all this have to do with Ephesians? Well, in a very important monograph (Ephesians: Power and Magic), Clinton Arnold argues that one of the primary reasons Paul wrote Ephesians was to encourage Christians living in a culture consumed my magical practices and the supernatural (cf. Acts 19). Arnold suggests that Paul highlights Christ's supremacy over cosmic evil (cf. 1:20-22) in this letter in order to remind Christians in Asia Minor that they need not engage in magical rites as a means of placating demonic forces. Christ's defeat of the "powers" is a major theme in this letter and given the central role of the Artemis cult in the religious climate of Ephesus, a connection between the writing of this letter and pagan magic seems quite plausible. This suggestion would also account for the general tone of the letter. Still, I can't help but think that Paul's "sights" are ultimately set on broader (but closely related) concerns.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Brief Reflections on ETS

Since I left DC about a week and a half ago, it's probably a good idea for me to put a few thoughts together before I completely forget about my experience at ETS. First, it was truly wonderful to get to spend time with friends and meet new people. Coming from a first-class introvert who would rather spend time reading than talking, this is no paltry statement. It has been over a year since I finished the coursework for my ThM and since then I have largely been out of an academic environment. While this has allowed me to get back into the "real world" (whatever that means!), I have missed the opportunity to be around fellow nerds. Much of my time was spent with Alan Bandy (check out his blog here) since we stayed with his in-laws in Maryland and it was great to catch up with him and engage on a number of issues. He certainly is a gentleman and a scholar! I also got the opportunity to meet several bloggers, including Michael Bird, Michael Pahl, Joel Willitts, James Hamilton, and Bryan Lee.
As far as papers go, there were unfortunately a few disappointments. Much of that had nothing to do with the papers themselves and more to do with certain expectations/hopes I had formed in my mind. In truth, I think this is a somewhat natural phenomena as on so much is revealed by a paper title. Nonetheless, I was able to attend several interesting papers, which I will probably comment on at a later date. Unfortunately, there were also several papers that I hoped to hear but was unable to for various reasons. Part of the problem was that Alan and I averaged about five hours sleep a night! That's okay the first couple of days, but once Friday came around, I was not too keen on doing "the paper thing."
As far as books go, they simply didn't! While there were a ton of books that I wanted, I was determined to stick to essentials for future research. I am already going to be in a bind when it comes to deciding which books to take with us if we get to spend a few years studying in Scotland. I can already see myself suffering from separation anxiety as I part with the majority of my library and there is simply no need to make that a more trying time by buying an extensive amount of books. I was really hoping to find more stuff on Ephesians, but there unfortunately was nothing really there (maybe there was more at SBL). This may reflect the lack of academic interest in that amazing epistle, which I suppose is to my advantage. Nonetheless, I did pick up the following volumes, most of which should be really helpful for my future research:

1 Enoch, R. Charles
Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul's Letters, C. Arnold
Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies, C. Evans
The Theology of Paul the Apostle, J. Dunn
Apostle Paul: His Life and Theology, U. Schnelle
An Introduction to Early Judaism, J. Vanderkam