Monday, April 30, 2012

Final Call for Posts!

Please tell your wife and sweet family (and other internet users) that this is now the final call for the April Biblical studies carnival. believe me when I say if you, your dog, and your blog miss out on this you will rue it, and then some. This is the carnival of which in times to come the bloggers of biblioblogdom will say, "I was there," unless they weren't in which case they will say nothing and gaze ashamedly at their bunny-slippered feet. Email me and don't miss out, bigjon[at]

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Creation out of Nothing in the New Testament and Genesis

In his NIV Application Commentary on Genesis, Walton states,
When we are doing exgesis, we are not asking the question, "What does my belief system affirm God has done?" nor even, "What would Israel's belief system affirm God was responsible for?"  Rather we must ask, "What is the text asserting that God did in this context?"  The above analysis suggests that in the seven-day initial period God brought the cosmos into operation (which defines existence) by assigning roles and functions.  Later Scripture supports our belief that God also made all the matter out of which the cosmos is composed (and that he made it out of nothing, Col 1:16-17; Heb 11:3), but that is not what Genesis means by bara'.
- Walton, Genesis, 2001, p71

I think his main point is excellent, but what troubles me is the quick use of NT proof texts which don't seem to me to say that the world was made out of nothing anymore than Gen 1 does.

Hebrews 11:3 is perhaps the most obvious here, in that all we are given to understand is that the visible universe was made from invisible matter,

By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

But Colossians 1:16-17 is perhaps even clearer than Gen 1 in its use of "create" to imply organisation and function, the examples Paul gives (yes Paul! but that is for another day) are so abstract as to be practically immaterial, "thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities."  Of course you don't have to read it this way, but if Paul read Gen 1 in the way Walton thinks he should have done, we are more than justified in reading Col the same way.

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Interestingly enough, the greek verb ktizo, create, is only used in the NT as a verb for God's action, just like the Hebrew bara' is only used in the OT for God's action. So it is reasonable to suppose the Hebraic connotations pass into the NT equivalent.  Equally "all things" (pas), need not imply the basic stuff of matter as Paul could hardly be expected to be referring to atomic particles and such, but merely what is formed and built (ktizo) out of such matter.

Of course it is philosophically important to us moderns to know whether God, Jesus, etc were ontologically prior to the existence of the material universe, but it wasn't important to the biblical authors who really didn't care about our 21st century philosphical problems.  They had enough problems of their own.

Let me know what you think :-)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bible and Critical Theory Seminar

Call for papers: Auckland Bible and Critical Theory Seminar

[This is a reblog from here]

Date for seminar: 1-2 September 2012
Due date for paper proposals: 30 June 2012
Venue: Queens Ferry Hotel, 12 Vulcan Lane, Central Auckland

Now in its fifteenth year, the Bible and Critical Theory Seminar once again steps over the ‘ditch’ to New Zealand, meeting this time in Auckland and under the watchful and sober guidance of Robert Myles and Caroline Blyth

Papers for the seminar typically seek intersections between critical theory and the Bible, both interpreted broadly. We understand critical theory as deriving initially from the Frankfurt School (more fully, the Institute for Social Research at Frankfurt am Main) and the work of Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, but now enriched and broadened by a host of other methods. These approaches include but are not restricted to post-structuralism, feminism, psychoanalysis, ideological criticism, post-colonialism, Marxism, ecocriticism and queer studies. Some of these approaches are new, whereas others have been revitalized after the 1960s. All of them are characterized by the need to discern (kritikos) what is beneficial and what not, to negate the negative and draw out the positive in any given idea, position or tradition. Thus, critical theory incorporates the initial impetus of the Frankfurt School, while significantly broadening its mandate.

The international reach of the seminar has grown, with a ‘Bible, Critical Theory and Reception Seminar’ meeting in the UK under the auspices of W. John Lyons and James Crossley. And of course, there is the Bible and Critical Theory Journal, which has entered its eighth year of publication, as well as our comrade, the journal Relegere.

Paper proposals should include a title and a 200-word abstract.
Please send to:

Roland Boer: roland.t.boer[at]
Caroline Blyth: c.blyth[at]
Robert Myles: robertjmyles[at]
UPDATE: More info about the venue.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Habets on Torrance and Henry

Myk, captured after discovering some chewing gum under his chair

Myk Habets has made available on his book chapter entitled Beyond Henry’s nominalism and evangelical foundationalism: Thomas Torrance’s theological realism  which should be of interest to anyone interested in Torrance, Carl Henry, evangelical and reformed theology, epistemology, theological method and all that guff.  But also interesting to find, which I hadn't come across before, or at least if I had I had ignored it.  Looks like there is already a heap of bibliobloggers on it.  Might be worth exploring if you have the time.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Threes at 33

Well this week sees me celebrating my 33rd birthday, I have to say I think multiples of 11 are far more interesting to celebrate than multiples of 10, but doubt I could convince everyone else.  Birthdays are a good time for morose navel gazing and taking stock of ones life.  Some noteworthy threes I have acheived by my third endecade.

  • Fathered three children (thanks to Mrs Robinson's cooperation)
  • Been a pastor in three churches in three different towns/cities
  • Lived on three different islands: mainland Orkney, mainland Britain, and Te Ika-a-Māui
  • Completed three tertiary quatlifications: BMus (Hons), GradDippAppTheol, MTh

So the question is will any of those threes be fours by the time I make it to 44? (D.V.)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Call for posts for the Biblical Studies Carnival April 2012

It is carnival time (just like it is every month).  March's carnival is looking very festive over with Jim West so pop on over and check it out if you haven't.  Muggins is hosting April's carnival so please your links to fascinating and edifiying posts from your blog or someone else's to little old me. 

Much obliged.