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Showing posts from July, 2010

Pentateuch = Galatians?? So says Sailhamer,

Sailhamer's massive book has received glowing endorsments from John Piper.  I will be slowly working my way through it.  It is far too long, and even the introduction is heavy going, but there are some fascinating ideas here.  Sailhamer makes the assertion that "The law given at Sinai neither had the same purpose nor carried the same message as the faith taught by the Pentateuch." (p13)  Instead the argument of the Pentateuch is a contrasting of two covenants, "Mosaic and Abrahamic, or law and gospel." (p14)  The meaning of the Pentateuch is thus not found in the laws within, which represent the broken covenant, but in the way that it "looks beyond the law to God's grace" and "to teach its readers about faith and hope in the new covenant (Deut 30:6)." (p26)  Thus, "the Pentateuch's view of the law is simailar to that of Paul in the book of Galatians." (p28)

It will be interesting to see what he does when he finally comes to…

MLK's Army

We did not hesitate to call our movement an army.  But it was a special army, with no supplies but its sincerity, no uniform but its determination, no arsenal except its faith, no currency but its conscience.  It was an army that would move but not maul.  It was an army that would sing but not slay.  It was an army that would flank but not falter.   It was an army to storm bastions of hatred, to lay seige to the fortresses of segregation, to surround symbols of discrimination.  It was an army whose allegience was to God and whose strategy and intelligence were the eloquently simple dicatates of conscience.
Publish Post Martin Luther King jr, Why We Can't Wait, p62

Why Pakeha dont get Maori

Tena koutou,

Well, it is Maori language week in NZ, and while such things are definately tokenism, they should be used as oportunities to promote and advocate for those things which they are tokens of. 

At Carey we took the opportunity to have a couple of speakers to share about the Maori experience of colonisation and of the gospel.  As you might expect it was a deeply moving time and something we need to do more than just once a year.  But one thing which really hit me yesterday was the way that the Maori approach to history was so at odds with the Pakeha (European-Kiwi).  I have know that for a long time, but hadn't applied that knowledge to the way that so many Kiwis react to Maori issues.

For Maori: History is alive, their ancestors live in them

For Pakeha: History is dead, it is written in books

For Maori: History is who you are, it is your identity

For Pakeha: Now is who you are, the past should be left behind

All this means that when the Maori want to address the injusti…

NT Wright on the Kingdom of God

The phrase 'kingdom of God', therefore, which occurs only sporadically in texts of this period, functions, when it occurs, as a crucial shorthand expression for a concept which could be spoken of in a variety of other ways, such as the impossibility of having rulers other than Israel's god, or the divine necessity of reversing the present political situation and re-establishing Israel, Temple, Land and Torah.   This complex concept picks up and join together the whole social, political, cultural and economic aspiration of the Jews of this period, and invests it with the religious and theological dimension which, of course, it always possessed in mainline Jewish thinking. (p303)


To speak of the kingdom of this god does not, therefore, mean that one is slipping into a dualistic mode of thought, or imagining that the event which is to come would be related only marginally to space-time events.  This kingdom was not a timeless truth, nor an abstract ethical ideal, nor the comi…

How to Type, How to Learn

Now my thesis is out the way there are a few projects that I had been putting off which I can now work on, one of which is to learn to type!  Now it would have made sense to learn to type before i had to write my thesis, but truth be told my slow error laden typing was little hindrance to the rate at which i was able to produce the document.  I found this great site for learning to type which is without all the annoying frills many of these programs come with.  Most impressive though was that it started off by instructing the student how to learn, and offered these principles of effective learning:

No mistakes. Always be sure and in control. Follow the principle of 100% correct practice: to make a mistake is to learn incorrect things, and to confuse that which you already know.Slower is faster. Speed comes from certainty. The more you type things correctly, no matter how slow it has to be, the more certain you will be, and the faster you will become a proficient typist. Increas…

The Truth About Porn

There is a brilliant Guardian article on Porn here (HT Rich Walker):

One thought provoking suggestion is that association with the prudishness of the religious right has stigmatised the anti-porn movement as being against freedom of speech and expression.  For Gail Dines porn is not about art or expression at all, but the hatred of women.  She chillingly describes the statistical links between porn use and rape, and paedophilia.  So how do we draw the line between liberty for authentic expression of art and censorship for dehumanising depictions of females?  The truth is, even in regular media the line has been drawn far over into the latter, meaning women are degraded in front of our eyes everyday on TV, in Magazines, and on Billboards, let alone the sub-mainstream of the porn industry.

A second interesting suggestion is her comparison with the ideological battle against slavery:

She says the blueprint for her aims is the eradication of slavery in the US, which was achieved despite …

Pedagogy of Genesis

It is common in our society to think that for a book of the Bible, whether Genesis or any other, to be practical and relevant, it must give us a course of action.  It is more common in the Old Testament for its practical teaching to give us a way of thinking . . . The practical lessons of Genesis offer us a new way of thinking that will inevitably result in life changes.- Walton, Genesis, NIVAC, 2001, 55
[T]he narrators interests are historical . . . his interests are also inseparably didactic and aesthetic.  Unlike a geometry textbook that may aim to be only didactic, Genesis is literature because it communicates doctrine in an artful way; it is ideological art. - Waltke, Genesis, 2001,31

New Blog Buttons

[UPDATE 300710 - Buttons now removed due to public apathy! :-)]

OK, I know a lot of you don't like to comment, because you are too shy, but I crave your feedback, so there are now buttons at the bottom of each post with which you can grade my work ANONYMOUSLY.  How cool is that? 

Your choices are
A Pile of Pants: These are Southern English pants, not trousers, but underwear, smelly, vile, worn inside and out, rotten grundies.  This is for when you wish I hadn't wasted my time and yours with a post.The Cat's Pyjamas: Cat's are stupid but pajamas are nice, so this is for those who are feeling ambivalent about a post.The Goat's Groats: Groats are real money and Goats are real good eating, so you press this one if you like the post.BTW I welcome suggestions for other categories, but you would have to comment to do that . . . sorry :-s
Of course, comments are anonymous too if you want them to be.

Glen Marshall Bans Evangelism

In a pleasant rant, Glen suggests all evangelistic activity and programs should cease, he may have a point.  Allthough he doesn't mention it by name this is very much part of the way the "missional" movement is trying to point churches, Tim Keller does a nice concise primer on the missional church here.  I'm currently auditing a course on the subject taught by the incorrigible Brian Krum.  For Brian, it was all summed up by this catchy number, although he preferred the Bananarama version, this is more my style:


Writing and reading with and without a penis

Donald Miller posts an excellent short reflection and an even more excellent Billy Collins poem.  But when it comes to reading the Bible one of the most valuable things you can do (if you happen to be a bloke) is to momentarily remove the "old chap" and try not to be such a myopic male mysogynist dimwit.  I tried it while writing my thesis, with the help of some feminist biblical scholars, and gained what I think was the most exciting insight of the whole project.  I won't tell you about it just yet, so you'll just have to take my word for it, but seriously, try reading scripture from other peoples' perspectives, try changing gender, colour, continent, socio-economic class, age group, etc, and you might be similarly and liberatingly surprised with what results.

Bultmann on why Theology = Anthropology

Bultmann is much maligned for reducing Theology to anthropology.  Which is worrying because I find him hard to disagree with about this issue.  I think the key text in which he does this is in his Theology of the New Testament, vol 1, p190-191.

. . . Pauline theology is not a speculative system. It deals with God not as He is in Himself but only with God as He is significant for man, for man’s responsibility and man’s salvation. Correspondingly, it does not deal with the world and man as they are in themselves, but constantly sees the world and man in their relation to God. Every assertion about God is simultaneously an assertion about man and vice versa. For this reason and in this sense Paul’s theology is, at the same time, anthropology. But since God’s relation to the world and man is not regarded by Paul as a cosmic process oscillating in eternally even rhythm, but is regarded as constituted by God’s acting in history and by man’s reaction to God’s doing, therefore every assertion…

Rowan Williams on Resident Aliens and Social Justice

This essay by Rowan Williams (HT Jason) fits nicely into the diaspora theme of this blog, and also relates to my recent altercation with Steve Douglas ;-), here's an excert.


. . . one of the mainsprings of Christian self-understanding in the formative years of the Church's life was the idea that the believer was essentially a 'migrant', someone who was in any and every situation poised between being at home and being a stranger. In the New Testament and a good deal of the literature that survives from the first couple of Christian centuries, one of the commonest self-descriptions of the Church is in the language that would have been used in the Mediterranean cities for a community of migrant workers, temporary residents.

Deut 23:18, Rentboy or Dog?, Abuse of Nature or Insult to God?

[Warning: what follows is a little esoteric, but maybe useful as NT background?]

I know many of you have been staying up at night reading Deut 23:18 (v.19 LXX) and the footnote in your NRSV, NIV, or NLT, and wondering whether it is the wages of a dog or a male prostitute which you are disallowed from bringing into the house of God.  Well while I cannot answer for Moses, a slightly less ancient Jew gives an unequivocal interpretation:

Josephus, Antiquities, 4.8.9/§206: 
You are not to offer sacrifices out of the hire of a woman who is a harlot, for the Deity is not pleased with anything that arises from such abuses of nature; of which sort none can be worse than this prostitution of the body. In like manner no one may take the price of the covering of a bitch, either of one that is used in hunting, or in keeping of sheep, and thence sacrifice to God. (Trans. Whiston)Ἐκ μισθοῦ γυναικὸς ἡταιρημένης θυσίας μὴ τελεῖν• ἥδεσθαι γὰρ μηδενὶ τῶν ἀφ’ ὕβρεως τὸ θεῖον, χείρων δ’ οὐκ ἂν εἴη τῆς ἐπ…

French Values or Islamophobia?

It would be easy to dismiss the French ban on the face veil as a similarly petty and unhelpful expression of anti-Islamic sentiment as last year's Swiss ban on mosque minarets. And there can be little doubt that such anti-Islamic feeling is behind much of the popular support for the move.  However, in both cases there is a sense that the bans were not just about Islamophobia but also about attempting to preserve national character.  France has had a long history of aggressive measures to protect against, not Islam, but American cultural polution.  Should this ban be seen as anything different?  It probably should because rather than attempting to stop a foreign cultual import entering the country to its detriment this ban targets those already in the country who should have a legitimate right to freedom of religious expression.

As a positive alternative; rather than stop women wearing the veil, a perfectly sensible move given the way some men look at women in public, why not legis…

Claim of Right to be Repealed in Wake of Waihopai?

The NZ government has announced that the claim of right defence used in the Waihopai spy base trial will be reformed or repealed.  Brian Rudman hits the nail on the head:  The jury weren't sucked in by a dodgy legal defence, and it was totally dodgy, they were convinced by the moral force of the Waihopai trio's witness and chose not to convict according to conscience, not law.

The Sword that Heals

This weekend I found a battered copy of Martin Luther King jnr's book Why We Can't Wait, (Signet, 1963).  I am amazed at how moving it is to read, even despite my cultural, geographical, and chronological distance from the events.  Expect plenty of quotes over the next while:

Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon.  It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it.  It is a sword that heals. (p26)

The Negro turned his back on force not only because he knew he could not win his freedom through physical force but also because he believed that through physical force he could lose his soul. (p34)

Acceptance of nonviolent direct action was a proof of a certain sophistication on the part of the Negro masses; for it showed they dared to break with the old, ingrained concepts of our society.  The eye-for-an-eye philosophy, the impulse to defend oneself when attacked, has always been held as the highest measure of American manhood.  We …

Larry Hurtado's new blog and the Staurogram

That is a staurogram which Larry blogs about on his new blog.  (Thanks to Wikimedia) Now wasn't that useful?  Why not add me to your feedreader, if you haven't already, just so you don't miss any other useful things i might do! :-)

Anglo-Saxon Heritage and the F-Word.

Well Mick Duncan and Rob Reed give us two very different pieces on swearing, my only cat to throw among the pigeons is to point out that many of our swear words are only crudities because they were considered so by the Norman opressors and were originaly perfectly good Anglo-Saxon words which became profanities (better, crudities) when substituted for their more 'proper' counterparts by those who considered themselves culturally superior.

This late in history is probably too late to address the injustice of this directly. Instead when you are talking about some delicate matter (usually involving the lower half of the body or its functions), don't substitute Anglo-Saxon, instead try a language of the oppressors, e.g. Greek or Latin or Babylonian?  (Unfortunately Americans use English (sort of) so are not a suitable source for such.)

Top 4 Commentaries on 1 Corinthians

Here's my favourite commentaries from 2 years of researching 1 Corinthians, I've used plenty of others but these are the ones I keep coming back to.

Gordon Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, NICNT, 1987

Fee is always good value and what is good about this commentary is its evenness of approach and his tendency to argue everything clearly point by point.  You are never left wondering, how did he get here from there?  This makes him a good converstaion partner, especially if you want to disagree with him!

Anthony Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, NIGTC, 2000

Thiselton can be a little frustrating and every esoteric subject is explored in intimate detail, but this is really the strength of this book.  Its extra sections on selected issues are especially useful, his cross-disciplinary engagement is nigh on comprehensive, and his own translation is idiosyncratic enough to be interesting.


David Garland, 1 Corinthians, BECNT, 2003

This commentary can be a little cu…

Web presence for christian leaders and scholars

Carol Howard Merritt raises some pertinent points in her essay. As a Christian leader or a scholar you have two options, either stay out of the internet completely (i'm not talking socially, i'm talking professionally) or make sure there is enough content out there that what is yours will overwhelm what is written about you by others.

Admittedly, I'm not sure anyone cares enough about anything I have written to defame me yet.  However, there is a danger that even what you publish online can be misunderstood, for example, I wouldn't want to be judged professionally on the content of this blog, not that I don't stand by what I write, but this is a hobby and it is uneven.  It does not accurately represent my own passions and emphases, or even the quality of work i do when i am paid for it! If I were to take on a preaching ministry in a church, for example, it would not resemble my blog very much at all.

But there is also a way in which as a Christian leader or scholar…

The Return of the Abortion Debate

Well, with the news that Steve Chadwick is wanting to make abortions more accesible and reform the 30 year old law on the matter the pro-life groups are going to be coming out of the woodwork like Thunderbird 5 from a tropical island.  Coming from the UK where abortion was never discussed in the political sphere (although i think that has changed in recent years) this is something a little refreshing.  NZ with its massivelly high rates of abortion really needs a reasoned and empassioned public debate on the issue.  The problem is that when the pro-life groups come out we often get only passion and not reason, heat and not light.

The truth is, as much as I believe in the sanctity of life and would do anything to support a friend or relative in the decision to bring to term rather than terminate a baby, I have to shout, the formulaabortion = murder is just plain unhelpful.  Abortion is a fact of life, and whenever and wherever it has been criminalised, that has merely driven it undergro…

When the cat's away the mice will play

Well it looks like i should quit blogging more frequently!  What a great week i missed including:

Richard Beck talking about snobbery and also the way we use the word "conversation."
Matt Flanagan on OT genocide and Ken Pulliman 
Richard Fellows crunches the numbers on Erastus
Steve at Undecpetion goes to town on penal substitution
Ben Myers offers some thoughts about a theology of scholarship
Gary Hamel is back with a vengeance, not least these posts on St Andrew's Chorleywood (an anglican church in the UK) and W.L. Gore and associates
Donald Millar comlains about his unwarranted promotion to leader in the emerging church movement and Tall Skinny Kiwi joins in the complaining about unfair labelling
James McGrath provides some help in deciphering scholar talk
Maggie Dawn shows how BP is mentioned in the Bible although Madeleine Flanagan wonder if the yanks might let the russians nuke it?

Except, of course, i didn't really miss it, i just gorged out at the weekend.  E…

Congratulations, (sincere this time!)

To Tim on getting two of his blogs into the biblioblog top 50,  a notable acheivement :-),



and, although I don't want to steal Tim's thunder, I feel a suitable time to declare I'm going to start blogging again, I have been ripping through my thesis like a dose of salts and frankly I want to see if I can get my own blog onto the top 50 too, sheer meaningless hubris, but one needs a challenge if one is going to get out the bed in the morning doesn't one?