Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry CHRISTmas!

I just want to take the time to wish you a Merry Christmas. I also would like to encourage you to remember that one can "celebrate" Christmas yet completely miss its ultimate significance. God bless.


Monday, December 19, 2005

John 3:25 and Jewish Purification

“Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew regarding purification” - John 3:25

Is it just me, or is it impossible to read this verse without thinking, “Okay . . . is there something ‘missing’ here?” No doubt, there are probably a host of issues related to this verse that one might address. I would like to open up a discussion on one in particular: this verse’s relationship to John 2:1-11 (“the miracle at Cana”). I cannot help but think that the mention of purification in John 3:25 is intended to point the reader back to John 2:1-11. Thus far, my research has only turned up a few commentators (Carson, Barrett, and Borchert) that posit a link with John 2:1-11. [If there are others, feel free to correct me on this.]

I would like to pose the following questions:
1) Does John 3:25 allude to John 2:1-11?
2) What is the function of this allusion?

Any takers . . .

Friday, December 09, 2005

John's "rhetorical portrait" of Martyrdom

Here is my latest attempt at coining some new term for the Biblical studies world. In yesterday's post ("S. Pattemore and Martyrdom in the Apocalypse") I suggested that John writes his composition in such a way that he develops "an idealic picture of the church as a collective group of martyrs." I then described this as a "rhetorical device" and noted that this was probably not the best term. After thinking through what might be a better way of describing what John might be doing, here is what I would like to propose.

In essence, I would argue that John is developing a "rhetorical portrait" of the church as a collective group of martyrs. What I mean by that is that John so strongly wants to encourage individual Christians to bear witness to "the testimony of Jesus" that through the course of his composition, he comes close to developing the formula "Christian = martyr." John is not suggesting ever Christian will be a martyr. Instead, he is attempting to encourage Christians by creating a "world" in which martyrdom becomes a normal occurrence in the life of a anyone who faithfully testifies to the gospel. [On the notion of John "creating a 'world,' see D. Barr, "The Apocalypse as symbolic transformation of the world: a literary analysis," Int 38 (1984: 39-50).]

Thursday, December 08, 2005

S. Pattemore and Martyrdom in the Apocalypse

As I read S. Pattemore's work, "The People of God in the Apocalypse," one of the things I am continually impressed with is how his methodology (primarily Relevance Theory) helps bring out the relevance (pun intended) of the Apocalypse. One of the major problems with the popular (read "dispensationalist") approach to the book of Revelation is that its futurist bent leads to the conclusion that Rev 4-22 is largely irrelevant for the contemporary audience. Nothing could be further from the truth (cf. Rev 1:3) and Pattemore's chapter, "Souls under the altar- a martyr ecclesiology" thoroughly demonstates this. His chapter is primarily an examination of Rev 6:9-11 and its literary links in 12:10-12; 16:5-7; 19:1-2; 20;4-6.

The following is a helpful statement that helps capture his overall approach to martyrdom in the Apocalypse: "[w]hen the whole Apocalypse has been heard, it will be clear that suffering for the faith involves many things before death. But the witnessing church is first and foremost identified collectively as a martyr church, patterned after the martyr status of the Lamb." Pattemore, therefore, seems to give due weight to the theme of martyrdom and the larger theme of "witnessing to the testimony of Jesus." I especially think the final sentence captures well what one encounters in the Apocalypse. As one reads, one gets the sense that John is developing an idealic picture of the church as a collective group of martyrs. I prefer to think of this as somewhat of a "rhetorical device" (I'm sure there is a more apt description) that aims to present martyrdom as "the normal Christian life."

That said, here is a link to the story of a man who "lived out" the message of the Apocalypse.

  • link
  • Wednesday, December 07, 2005

    S. Pattemore on Daniel 7 and the Apocalypse

    I've (thankfully) continued to enjoy reading S. Pattemore's work, "The People of God in the Apocalypse." Especially interesting is his discussion of the use of Daniel 7 in the book of Revelation. Pattemore's discussion includes an extremely helpful table that analyzes the "narrative structure" of Daniel 7 and notes plausible allusions to that text in the Apocalypse (120). [Interestingly, Pattemore describes some of them as "weak allusions" (see previous post on Pattemore's work).] He also analyzes "the pattern of allusion to the structural elements of Daniel 7 in Revelation" (122-124). His discussion leads to some interesting conclusions. Of especial note are the following.

    First, Pattemore notes the prominence given to the "one like a Son of Man" in Rev 1:7, 13 and concludes "[t]he audience's perception of these two strong contextual allusions . . . means that Daniel 7 is a link, binding together the world within the vision and the audience's own world outside the vision" (122). Second, Pattemore suggests, "the climax of Daniel's narrative, the close association of the rule of the son of man with the rule of the saints, is presented by John at the very beginning of his prophetic letter both as a present fact (1:6) and as a promise to the overcomers (2:16-28; 3:21) (123)." Third, Pattemore observes that "echoes of Daniel's description of the heavenly court, the judgment of the beasts and the judgment for the saints, are to be found primarily at the two ends of the second vision, namely chs. 4-5 and 19-22 . . . [s]een like this, the whole book is like an expansion of the throne-room scene of Daniel 7" (123-24).

    Pattemore's study continues to provide much "food for thought."

    Friday, December 02, 2005

    Readings in Afrocentric Christianity

    Last week a friend of mine gave me a book entitled, "Afrocentrism & Christian Faith" by Dr. Wyatt T. Walker. The book consists of two lectures given at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in 1993 and two other essays. I finally began reading it today. Needless to say, this is certainly a thought-provoking book and looks to be an interesting read. Here are some initial thoughts and observations.

    1. The author is (not surprisingly) strongly opposed to capitalism. However, what it is interesting to note is that he makes an implicit connection between racism and capitalism. Furthermore, the author directly connects capitalism with “Eurocentric Christianity.”

    2. The author explicitly affirms that Afrocentric Christianity is a syncretism of “African traditional religion” and Christianity. While I am quite ignorant on this subject, I must say that I found the casual use of the noun “syncretism” both surprising and almost shocking.

    3. The author counters the suggestion that slavery resulted in the eventual evangelization of slaves by suggesting, “[i]t is either na├»ve or ignorant to presume that the Africans brought to the Americas came without some clear sense of God-given spirituality” (4). [This is not meant to suggest that I personally condone the practice of slavery. On a personal note, being from the Caribbean and of “mixed” ethnicity, it is possible that some of my ancestors were once themselves slaves.]

    More to come soon . . .

    Tuesday, November 29, 2005

    Allusions, citations, echoes (AGAIN)

    Should exegetes avoid classifying the myriad of ways in which the New Testament writers use the Old Testament as S. Pattemore suggests (see previous post)? I can appreciate Pattemore’s emphasis on understanding the text of Scripture. I would even agree that determining whether a given use of the OT is a “quotation,” “allusion,” “echo,” etc. does not directly help one interpret how that text is being used in the NT. Nonetheless, it seems the jargon used to categorize how a NT writer is using an OT text provides a helpful means of expressing how closely the NT writer “mirrors” an OT text. This in turns allows the exegete to convey the degree of likelihood a NT writer is using an OT text and thus interpret a greater number of NT texts intertextually. For example, while Paul does not indicate in Philippians 2:16b that he quoting from Daniel 12:3, an analysis of both passages indicates that he is likely directed the reader to interpret Phil 2:16 in light of Dan 12:3. In fairness to Pattemore, he would likely respond that since the cognitive environments are close enough and the results one gleans from interpreting Phil 2:16 in light of Dan 12:3 would have been relevant to Paul’s audience, then Phil 2:16b and Dan 12:3 are sufficiently parallel contexts. [One should note here that Pattemore's approach seems closely related to Hays' criteria of 'satisfaction' (see R. Hays, Echoes of Scripture).]

    Pattemore’s approach to intertextuality is especially helpful for weighing the possibility that a given OT (or second temple) text is being alluded to by a NT writer. Nonetheless, using (subjective) categories such as ‘allusion,’ ‘echo,’ etc. does allow the exegete to convey the degree of likelihood that a NT writer is in fact intentionally using the OT. This opens to door to consider another possible problem with Pattemore’s methodology – an overemphasis of the audience/reader to the exclusion of the author.

    More on this last point to come . . .

    Thursday, November 24, 2005

    Allusions, citations, echoes, etc.,etc., etc.,

    Lately I've been reading S. Pattemore's "The People of God in the Apocalypse: Discourse, Structure, and Exegesis." Thus far, I've been impressed with his handling of the text of Rev 6. I've also found his approach to Old Testament and second temple parallels quite interesting. Pattemore's use of Relevance Theory (more on this to come) seems to help him make judicious decisions regarding possible intertextual connections. I plan on commenting more on his approach to intertextuality, but for now I will begin with a "short" quotation:

    "[H]ow does it advance our understanding of a text if we distinguish between a quotation and an allusion? If an allusion is deliberate and recognizable, then it is equivalent to a quotation because it conveys communicative propositions like 'I have taken this idea from the former text' and 'the former text has something to contribute to your understanding of my meanings' as cognitive effects. Even a formal quotation may convey no more than this, in terms of communicative intents."

    Friday, November 18, 2005

    The Pocket Dictionary of Charismatic "Theology"

    For those of you who have always wondered what constitutes an "overcomer" in Revelation 2-3, you might want to check out this helpful explanation of common terms used by those in the contemporary Charismatic movement.

  • link
  • Tuesday, November 15, 2005

    Jesus and the Trinity (finally)

    I guess I've finally found the time to put together some thoughts on John 14:28. Hopefully the first question that was posed in the previous post demonstrates that if someone reads Jesus' statement properly (ie., looking at the overall context) it is obvious that Jesus is not making a statement about his ontological relationship to the Father. Instead, Jesus is likely saying something about his mission as the Father's "representative." Rather than being a statement about his ontological relationship to the Father, Jesus' statement would then point to his subordinate status relative to the Father (4:34; 5:30; 6:38).

    Jesus' statement, "because I am going to the Father" should likely be seen in relation to his role as "the sent one" (cf. 3:17; 4:34; 5:23; 8:29). That is, the one who was sent is now portrayed in 14:28 stating that he is going back to the one who sent him. Therefore, Jesus' words likely signify that his mission will soon end. If Jesus' mission will soon end, then his disciples would have good reason to rejoice. Finally, it is likely that when Jesus speaks of the Father's greatness, his words should be seen in light of John 10:28-29. Jesus' words would then point to the reality that the disciples need not fear (14:27) because the Father is fully able to protect them (cf. 17:15).

    I suppose one of the things that can be learned from this is that there is a serious difference between exegesis and eisegesis.

    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    Was Jesus anti-Trinitarian (John 14:28)?

    The Sunday School class I'm involved in has recently been discussing John 14. Last Sunday, we were discussing the latter half of that chapter and someone suggested that Jesus' statement "for the Father is greater than I" in v. 28 seems problematic for an orthodox view of the Trinity. Some one else in the class noted that this verse is used by some religious groups in their anti-Trinitarian polemic.

    I declined to comment on the statement, thinking that such a complex and important issue deserved more than a cavalier answer. I have some thoughts regarding Jesus' statement and felt this might be a good topic to discuss at "the round table."
    So here are two questions for discussion:

    1) What is the relationship between Jesus' statement, "for the Father is greater than I," his departure to "the Father" and the disciples love for Jesus?
    2) Closely related to # 2, what are the implications of Jesus' statement for our understanding of the "Father"?

    [I originally had three questions for discussion, but it seems to me that if you one can gain a better sense of what Jesus is conveying in the ENTIRE sentence, then one can determine if Jesus is anti-Trinitarian or not. There thus was no need for the first question (whatever it was).]

    Any thoughts...

    Thursday, November 03, 2005

    "Jesus' Cleansing of the Temple" vs. "Jesus' ______ of the Temple"

    In true Alan Bandy fashion, I've decided to try my hand at coining a new theological expression. After reading and pondering Michael Bird's helpful comments about the 'temple cleansing' (see my first post on the temple cleansing in John), I made the determination to find a more accurate description of what Jesus likely was trying to symbolize through his actions in the Jerusalem temple. I know this is not very politically correct, but I think the phrase "Jesus' denunciation of the Temple" may a more accurate ways of describing his overall intention. [I have not read everything on this subject, so if someone else has come up with this phrase, I apologize!] Jesus' description of the temple as "my Father's house" (2:16), however, might suggest that the word "denunciation" is too negative to effectively capture what Jesus is symbolizing.
    I do appreciate Sanders' critique of the "Temple cleansing" theory, but I can't help but think it leaves something out. This seems especially likely since he envisions the restoration of the Jerusalem temple by another physical temple. This is certainly not what seems to be presented in the FG (cf. John 2:19). Alan B. has some helpful comments about "both/and" interpretations (see, but I think this is one case where it is appropriate. I would therefore allow for the possibility that Jesus' action was intended to symbolize more than the Temple's destruction.

    Any thoughts...

    Wednesday, November 02, 2005

    What will they try to sell next?

    Here's an interesting article about the latest Bible out on the market. Is the underlying problem with this PRODUCT the research it is based on or the approach to Bible study it advocates?

    Any thoughts...

  • link: the next great Bible study tool
  • Tuesday, November 01, 2005

    The Temple Cleansing in John

    I've spent the past couple of days mulling over John 2:13ff and thought this might be an interesting topic to begin discussing. The two main difficulties that I've been wrestling with are 1) the placement of the Temple cleansing at the beginning of Jesus' ministry in the FG; 2) the symbolic significance of Jesus' act.

    Regarding the first issue, I am open to the possibility that there were actually two Temple cleansings during Jesus' ministry. The differences between John's account and the Synoptics at least allow for the possibility that there were two cleansings. Furthermore, several scholars note that John 1-5 contains traditions that are unique to the FG, suggesting that the Evangelist is narrating a period of Jesus' ministry that is unrecorded in the Synoptics. I know that this is the minority position. Regardless, the Evangelist seems to portray a Jesus that is motivated by different factors (note the absence of an appeal to Isa 56:7). This could also allow for the possibility that there two cleansings.

    Regarding the second issue (and more important in my opinion), I am open to Jesus expressing opposition to the priestly class (the corruption of the Temple authorities is well documented by C. Evans and R. Bauckham). I am ALSO open to Jesus' act being understood as symbolic of the temple's destruction and replacement (by him). This latter point is based on the presence of a possible allusion to Zech 14:21 in John 2:16b, Jesus' response in 2:19, and the larger 'replacement' theme in the FG.

    In my view, the distinction between Jesus' act as a "cleansing/purification" (eg. Evans) or a "symbol of the Temple's destruction" (Sanders) is an unwarranted disjunction.

    Any thoughts . . .

    Hello Biblioblogdom!

    I must begin by thanking Alan Bandy for introducing me to the world of Biblioblogdom. This seems like a really helpful way of interacting with (somewhat) like-minded individuals and I look forward to lots of fruitful discussion.