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 . . .