A Word in Edgewise

What is the Gospel of Thomas?

A few years ago I wrote an article for the E3 Foundation on “What is the Gospel of Thomas?”  Here is the link:

https://www.exploregod.com/what-is-the-gospel-of-thomas

The article is not meant for specialist.  It’s meant for the curious.  While not part of the official Christian canon, it gives us a fascinating look at one of the movements inside second and third century Christianity.

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A Neighborly Faith

Recently, I had the privilege of appearing on the Neighborly Faith podcast with Kevin Singer and Chris Stackaruk.  They are involved in a great project helping evangelicals engage the world around us.  Over the last several days I’ve been listening to some of their podcasts.  It is extremely well done.  Here is a link.  Enjoy.

http://neighborlyfaith.org/resources/#neighborly-faith-podcast

A Doubter’s Guide to Jesus

On March 19, 2018 John Dickson gave the Ellis lecture at Wheaton College.  Ellis was my Doctor Father so it was my privilege to help introduce the lecture.  The topic was one, I think, Ellis would have appreciated, “A Doubter’s Guide to Jesus.”

Here is a link to that lecture.  I hope you enjoy it.

Who does Mark say that I AM?

One of my favorite features of our book, Rediscovering Jesus (InterVarsity, 2015), comes in the Gospels themselves.  In each chapter we ask the question: Who does Mark/Matthew/Luke/John say that I am?  In effect, we take a look at how each evangelist tells the story of Jesus.  Here is an excerpt from the chapter on the Markan Jesus.

WHO DOES MARK SAY THAT I AM?

And who is this Jesus? He is the Messiah (Christ) and Son of God—that is, God’s end-timeRediscovering Jesus agent whose task is to liberate the world from evil, oppression, sin, sickness, and death. The world that Jesus enters is hostile and contrary to the human race. The Messiah appears in order to claim all that God has made on behalf of heaven. In Mark’s account Jesus moves quickly along “the way” challenging and disrupting demonic powers, disease, religious authorities, storms and, ultimately, the power of Rome itself.

But Jesus does not appear from nowhere; prophets such as Malachi and Isaiah have written of him long ago. They foresaw his coming, and John the Baptizer arrived right on schedule to prepare his way. If John is God’s messenger (Mal 3:1) and the voice crying out in the wilderness (Is 40:3), then surely Jesus is the “Lord” whose paths must be made straight (Mk 1:2-3). But the word “Lord” here is no polite address to an English country gentleman or a simple affirmation of a person in authority; it is the way Greek-speaking Jews uttered the unspeakable name of the one, true God of Israel. Jesus the Christ is no ordinary man, for the very name of God—a name protected by the Ten Commandments—belongs rightly to him. As Mark’s story unfolds, it is apparent why this is so.

When Jesus heard that a prophet had again appeared in Israel, he left Nazareth to see for himself. As he entered the Jordan River to be baptized, onlookers would have thought that Jesus was becoming a disciple of John. But it was what Jesus heard and saw next that dramatically changed his life. He saw a vision: the heavens were ripped open, and the Spirit descended on him like a dove. Then he heard a voice from heaven: “You are my Son” (Ps 2:7) and “with you I am well pleased” (Is 42:1). Whether or not anyone else saw or heard what was going on in the heavens that day is unclear. Mark tells us only that Jesus saw and heard; perhaps Jesus’ special sonship was a secret that needed protecting for a while. But it was enough for Jesus to see and hear it, because it was about him and him alone. He knew what he must do next. He must leave behind Nazareth and the anonymity of the workshop for a public life in Galilee and beyond. He must trade a builder’s tools for the skills of a traveling rabbi.

 

To read more, check out our book here.

Why is Jesus’s Genealogy Different in Matthew and Luke?

I had the privilege in 2014 of giving the Hayward Lectures at Acadia Divinity School in Nova Scotia.  While there I met a young scholar who is working on various topics in the Gospels.  His name is Danny Zacharias.  He had recently finished a project on the question of why Matthew (ch. 1) and Luke (ch 3) have different names in their genealogies of Jesus. Some point to this as a contradiction  which cannot be solved, thus undermining the reliability of the Gospel accounts.  Others see the differences as a matter of purpose and focus. Matthew starts with Abraham and moves forward to Jesus to show that Jesus is the true son of Abraham, the embodiment of Israel.  Luke starts with Jesus and moves back through Abraham to Adam, demonstrating that Jesus is the Savior of all sons of Adam and daughters of Eve.   One traditional “answer” has been that Matthew has Joseph’s genealogy while Luke records Mary’s. Not all, of course, think this is the case.

Dr. Zacharias offers an intriguing approach to the question.  Here is a link to a brief video he did a few years back:

http://www.dannyzacharias.net/blog/2014/10/1/why-is-jesus-genealogy-different-in-matthew-and-luke 

I think you may find it helpful.  If so, please let him know.

 

 

 

The Library of Early Christology

Carey Newman, director of Baylor University Press, recently announced the (re)publication of a number of books under the series title “The Library of Early Christology.”  NewBaylor Press.man, a NT scholar in his own right, has looked over the past forty years at some of the most interesting and influential books published on the earliest Christian assessments of Jesus’ significance.  In part these books have contributed to the emerging consensus that an early high Christology originated in the first years or decades of the Jesus movement, most likely in a Jewish context.  Carey Newman has taken Baylor University Press from obscurity to become one of the most important university presses in North America.

Newman had already published one of the late Alan Segal’s signature books, Two Powers in Heaven (see Hurtado’s article here).  The publisher’s page is found here. Wilhelm Bousset’s classic work, Kyrios Christos, has also been republished by Baylor (check it out here) .  These are two of the most influential books published on the topic in the past 100 years.

There are other books in the series (I’m grateful to Larry Hurtado, who on his blog, pulled together the list and the links).   Here are the first books published in the series:

  • Charles A. Gieschen, Angelomorphic Christology:  Antecedents and Early Evidence (originally Leiden:  Brill, 1998; reprint edition information here).
  • Loren T. Stuckenbruck, Angel Veneration and Christology, (originally, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1995; reprint edition information here).
  • David B. Capes, Old Testament Yahweh Texts in Paul’s Christology (originally Tuebingen:  Mohr Siebeck, 1992; Baylor information here)
  • April D. DeConick, Seek to See Him: Ascent and Vision Mysticism in the Gospel of Thomas (Leiden:  Brill, 1996; Baylor reprint information here)
  • Carey C. Newman, Paul’s Glory Christology:  Tradition and Rhetoric (Leiden:  Brill, 1992; Baylor reprint information here)
  • Jarl E. Fossum, The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord:  Samaritan and Jewish Concepts of Intermediation and the Origin of Gnosticism (Tuebingen:  Mohr Siebeck, 1985; Baylor reprint information here)
  • Donald H. Juel, Messianic Exegesis:  Christological Interpretation of the Old Testament in Early Christianity (Fortress Press, 1988; Baylor reprint information here)
  • The Jewish Roots of Christological Monotheism:  Papers from the St. Andrews Conference on the Historical Origins of the Worship of Jesus, eds. Carey C. Newman, et al. (Leiden:  Brill, 1999; Baylor reprint information here)

In addition to this list I must include Larry W. Hurtado’s contribution in this series:  Ancient Jewish Monotheism and Early Christian Jesus-Devotion (publisher’s information here).  This volume of essays contains some of the “best of” Hurtado over the last 30 years).

 

The 2018 Wheaton College Theology Conference, April 4-5

Wheaton College has a history of hosting first rate theology conferences.  2018 is no exception when Marilynne Robinson and Rowan Williams address the campus.  The theme of the conference is “Balm in Gilead.”

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Marilynne Robinson is one of the most eminent public intellectuals in America today. In 2016, Time magazine even identified her as one of “The 100 Most Influential People” in the entire world.Marilynn Robinson 2

She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and, until her recent retirement, was a Professor of English and Creative Writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the University of Iowa, Iowa City. Elegant and probing meditations upon the Christian faith often grace her work. Her trilogy of novels, Gilead, Home, and Lila,evocatively and sympathetically present the lives, families, and spiritual convictions of two Protestant ministers in mid-twentieth-century Iowa. Her essays – gathered in collections such as The Death of Adam, When I Was a Child I Read Books, and The Givenness of Things – also recurringly contemplate theological themes.

Many of these reflections are grounded in her defiant judgment that the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformer John Calvin still deserves a hearing in the twenty-first century. This conference will offer a memorable opportunity for leading theologians, historians, literary scholars, and church leaders to engage in a thoughtful theological dialogue with both her published work and with Marilynne Robinson herself as she participates fully in this event. There were also be an emphasis on how Robinson’s work can illuminate Christian preaching and ministry, and pastors are warmly invited to attend. The keynote addresses will be given by Marilynne Robinson and Rowan Williams.Rowan Williams

Registration is required and there is a cost for anyone who is not a Wheaton College student, staff member, or faculty member. We expect this conference to sell out, so we recommend booking as soon as possible. For more information, please email theology.conference@wheaton.edu