OK so here is a translation I have done as part of my work on my thesis. This passage doesn't actually use 'the body of Christ' explicitly as a metaphor for the church (and neither does the nest one I will do). However I will be arguing that that metaphor is implicit in these verses. Compare it to your usual translation and let me know what you think. Translation is part science and part art, and doing this has made me realise just how hard the translation process is, it seems like every decision you make highlights one feature of the original text but obscures another, so you have to decide which features you think need to be prominent and which are permissible to obscure. Obviously the danger here for me is that I am highlighting the parts which support my thesis. Happily, I'm sure my supervisor will shoot me down in due course if that is the case! The parts in quotes are thought to be the Corinthian church's justifications for the actions that Paul is tak…
"The major theme which marks out Paul's theology of God's people as renewed by the Spirit is the renewed call to holiness. It is a holiness not defined by Torah [OT law], and yet in much of what Paul says he can draw upon Torah for outline guidance... It is, as the prophets always wanted, a holiness which comes from the heart; and it is a holiness which ought to make the pagan nations see who the living God really is. It is in other words, not simply a matter of 'now you are saved, this is how to behave'; it is a matter of the genuine humanness envisaged as God's will for Israel being attained through the Spirit by God's renewed people. It is summed up well at the start of Romans 12, in the appeal for self-offering and transformation trough the renewal of the mind, resulting in the mutual upbuilding of those who, though many, are one body in the messiah."
[Source: N.T. Wright, Paul in fresh perspective, Fortress 2005, p124]
I was watching The Amazing Race last night and was reminded of a thought I often have when watching American reality TV (which I try not to do too much, but I am only human). Here's the thing, it really really bugs me when people in a competition pray for God's help to win, or even just not to lose. It is just plain ridiculous, and if God did help you it would be cheating. Here is how you should pray:
Heavenly Father, Your name is holy help me not to profane it or take it in vain today You kingdom is coming, help me not to do anything on TV that will hinder that Your will be done, so I recognise that may or may not include me winning this competition Thank you for giving me not only my daily bread but the extreme luxury of being on reality TV and doing wasteful and pointless activities for the entertainment of the privileged few Lead me out of temptation, but when the opportunity does arise (as after all I know it will.. this is what reality TV is all about) help me not to do anyt…
I am always interested in different people's faith journeys. I am especially intrigued by the interplay of our circumstances and those experiences which we perceive to be revelation that lift us out of or transform our circumstances. Matt is an old friend of mine from university, but reading this on his blog today I found out a number of things I didn't know about him. Most interesting for me is the way he since found his way to a very 'traditional' form of Christianity. In some ways this reflects Phil's journey related elswhere on this blog, in other ways it is very different.
I was also very touched by his experience of finding a role model in Jesus as a fatherless teenager, and a father in God as a man.
And while we're on the subject of the Earth probably being a little older than 6 thousand years or so... check out this book review of a book that I spotted in the shops the other day, it starts like this:
"Saying that The Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological Evidence for the Age of the Earth by Davis A. Young and Ralph F. Stearley (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2008) is probably the best book of its kind would not be saying enough, since there really is no other book of its kind: a treatment of the varied and overwhelmingly consistent evidence for the antiquity of our planet, written by Evangelical Christians with the aim of not only making the scientific case for the age of the Earth, but also helping conservative Christian readers navigate the issues of theology and Biblical interpretation that go along with such a conclusion, and all the while pointing out the difficulties and at times dishonesty of the young-earth creationist position."
Here is a blog which I was following a little last year in which an Evangelical Christian argues the case for and works out the consequences of accepting the modern theory of evolution. Although I do think this is a very important issue it is not one I feel I have the time to get stuck into at the moment. However I bring this to your attention as the author of the blog has just compiled the last two years of blogging and contributions to the blog into 5 ebooks which are available free from links on the blog. Titles rather enticingly include : 'evolution and original sin' and 'the social psychology of the origins debate.' Enjoy :-)
"No one believes that God speaks through his Word until they hear it. And no argument can convince the unbeliever apart from the work of the Spirit. "Faith comes by what is heard," writes Paul, "and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ" (Rom. 10:17, RSV). And it is the preaching of Christ - the testimony of faith that is there beyond our human words a transcendent word - it is that alone which can awaken and renew the church".
E. Achtemeier, 'The Canon as the Voice of the Living God,' in Reclaiming the Bible for the Church, eds. Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1995), 122-23.
"It is a general maxim of hermeneutics that God's Word is to be found in the intent of scripture. This is an especially crucial matter to the hermeneutics of historical narratives. It is one thing for the historian to include an event because it serves the greater purpose of his work and yet another to thing for the interpreter to take that incident as having teaching value apart from the historian's larger intent... This does not mean that what is incidental is false, nor that it has no theological value; it does mean that God's Word for us for us in that narrative is primarily related to what it was intended to teach."
Chris Tilling recently wrote "However, while we may agree on certain propositions being true, what matters is what they mean."
Which is an excellent point. A Biblical example for me is Malachi 3:6 "I the Lord do not change..." This is a very clear proposition straight from the mouth of God on what God's nature is. But what does it mean? Does it mean that God never does anything, as any action is a change from inaction surely? But that cannot be right, see Genesis 2:2 for example. Does it mean that God cannot change his mind because he sees all things, including the future, and therefor his mind has always been made up because he was always going to do what he was always going to do? This is often the argument made from this verse in relation to open theology. But if we read the verse in context (shock horror) we find that God is not talking about either of those but God's own propensity to show mercy to Israel: "... and so you the descendents of …
Don't you just love it when you start reading a book and before the first chapter is over you are already having to make major pradigm shifts?! Well Kenneth Bailey's Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes has done just that and promises much much more to come.
To summarise, too briefly, an excellent scholarly and Biblical argument: the traditional western Christian understanding of Joseph and Mary being refused 'a room at the inn' (Luke 2:1-7) and Jesus being born in a cold dirty stable in Bethlehem is total hogwash and based on a 3rd century novel written about Jesus by a Greek who did not understand Middle Eastern culture.
Instead we should understand that both Joseph and Mary would have been assured of a warm reception in Bethlehem because they both had family in the area and because of the middle eastern culture of hospitality. That most village homes would keep their animals inside at night to guard against theft and to provide heat. They would be in a fenced off ar…
"Much in current Western scientific mentality has been tempted to deny the status of 'fact' (and so of truth) to everything not demonstrable in test-tubes or provable by 'verification'. This instinctive reductionism of many contemporary philosophers sadly prevents them from reckoning with the historical meaning of faith and the deep inter-relation of both event, and mystery.
Let us take help from a parable. November 22 (Texas). 1963. Suppose I say: "A man with a rifle from a warehouse window shot and killed another man in a passing car." Every word here is true (assuming we accept the Warren Commission). But how bleak and meager the facts are - so sparse as to be almost no fact at all. But suppose I go further and say: "The President of the United States was assassinated." This is more deeply factual because it is more fully related. the victim is identified, the killing is told as political, and the perspective is truer. But we are sti…
OK, here's a good one, in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 5:1-11 do we have two seperate events being described or just one? This isn't as easy as you might think, so have a look and let me know what you do think and why :-)
BTW this is for everyone whether you consider yourself a Bible student or not, I'm really interested in how this reads to others...
Well, I found this and thought it was pretty funny and kind of cool, which led me to this which I really liked as it made me rethink the whole way we do Christianity... isn't so much of our problem in living the new life caused by our failure to be properly dead to the old one?
And yes I know the blog has been a little neglected of late, I am intended to get back on track... just as soon as I sort my life out :-)
Nice post here by Ben witherington (the third!!!) on the subject of worship in the New Testament.
I do wonder if he is drawing a lot of conclusions from a little data but on the whole very interesting.
I especially like his point about the way the NT always tries to use the most exalted language it can when praising God and this critiques those (contemporary) songs which tend to be a bit buddy buddy, or even lovey dovey! Let me know what you think :-)