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This week (Dec 2-7, 2017) I’m working through the page proofs for my new book The Divine Christ: Paul, the Lord Jesus, and the Scriptures of Israel (Baker Academic, March 2018). Not long ago I received word of the cover art for the book which I present here for the first time.
Recently I have received endorsements from a number of scholars whom I deeply respect. Here are few of those:
“What is the most amazing thing the New Testament writers do to exalt Jesus of Nazareth? Is it reporting all his ‘I am’ sayings in the Gospel of John or calling him ‘the Messiah, God blessed over all’ in Romans 9:5? Maybe it’s all the ways he is worshiped, starting during his life but especially after his death and resurrection? Perhaps, but when do we consider all the New Testament texts that quote the Old Testament and apply to Jesus what is said about Yahweh, the one and only God of creation? English readers don’t usually think of these passages because we just see the word ‘Lord’ and move on. David Capes leads us on a sleuthing exercise to discover and understand the significance of these passages. Readers will be astounded at how many there are and will be greatly encouraged by what their meanings add up to.”—Craig L. Blomberg, distinguished professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary
“What does it mean when Paul says ‘Jesus is Lord’? In a clear and engaging style, David Capes takes us to the heart of Paul’s theology, revealing the depth and nuance of this seemingly simple claim by showing how it is shaped by Paul’s Old Testament citations and allusions. Capes extends the conclusions of his seminal work on Paul’s early high Christology and makes the best of contemporary scholarship accessible without getting lost in the weeds. Both beginning students and seasoned scholars will benefit from this valuable work.”—Ben C. Blackwell, assistant professor of Christianity, Houston Baptist University
“In this volume Capes extends the argument he first presented in his important book Old Testament Yahweh Texts in Paul’s Christology and responds to some recent developments in scholarly discussion. By pressing home useful distinctions and carefully attending to textual and contextual features, Capes elucidates crucial aspects of the earliest and fully divine Christology. This volume sparkles with common sense and judicious judgment, shedding light on a perennially contentious issue. These debates concern matters of great significance, and I am grateful that Capes has once again contributed to these discussions.”—Chris Tilling, senior lecturer in New Testament Studies, St. Mellitus College
“Every generation of students has to struggle anew with complex questions regarding the status and nature of Christ in the New Testament and early Christian thought. Capes proves himself an expert guide through Paul’s Letters, especially Paul’s use of Old Testament texts that apply the divine title ‘Lord’ to Jesus. When Christians called Jesus ‘Lord,’ what did this mean? Did the first Christians consider Jesus divine? How did they conceive of the unique lordship of Jesus in relation to the one God? To this weighty subject Capes brings proven expertise, crystal clarity of expression, and penetrating analysis of interpretations past and present.”—Nijay K. Gupta, associate professor of New Testament, Portland Seminary
“Capes offers a brilliant examination of the meaning of ‘Lord’ in ancient Judaism, in modern scholarship, and in the Pauline Letters. What Capes demonstrates, with acumen and insight, is that Paul was among those who considered Jesus as Lord in the strongest possible sense, and the highest Christology we can imagine was indeed among the earliest. This erudite and learned volume is for anyone interested in the Christology of the early church.”—Michael F. Bird, lecturer in theology, Ridley College, Melbourne, AustraliaN
Thanks to all these scholars who took time to read the book and take it seriously.
Now . . . back to work . . .
I’ve taken the title of my blog post from a new book by Craig Blomberg. The full title is Can We Still Believe the Bible? An Evangelical Engagement with Contemporary Questions (Baker Academic, 2014). Craig is a distinguished professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary and a prolific writer. I’ve used a number of his books over the years in my classes at HBU. Craig is well worth reading and this book is no exception. Over the next couple of weeks I plan to engage different aspects of this book. For now, let me give you a sense of what the book is about.
While Craig admits there are a lot of important issues out there—the challenges of pluralism and the new, militant atheism, for example—he gears this book in a more personal direction: “why I still believe the Bible as I write these words in 2013.” To some degree the book is a reaction to his undergraduate education in a private, Christian liberal arts college. Essentially, the professors offered challenge after challenge to historic Christian faith and never helped the students deal with those challenges. To borrow a line from Jeremiah: these professors felt it their duty “to pluck up and pull down, to destroy and overthrow” but not to “to built and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:10). In many ways Craig’s academic career and his writings have taken seriously these challenges while at the same time seeking reasonable, coherent answers.
So this book deals with six questions which Craig judges to be central to the kinds of questions which confront his students and others. They are:
1. Aren’t the copies of the Bible hopelessly corrupt?
2. Wasn’t the selection of books for the canon just political?
3. Can we trust any of our translations of the Bible?
4. Don’t these issues (the three issues above) rule out Biblical inerrancy?
5. Aren’t several narrative genres of the Bible unhistorical?
6. Don’t all the miracles make the Bible mythical?
While I wish I had time to engage each of these questions over the next couple of weeks, I plan now on looking carefully at two: (a) the question of biblical translations (since I was the lead scholar on a new translation called The Voice [Thomas Nelson, 2012]); and (b) the question of miracles.
As I read through the book, I find myself in friendly agreement with many of Craig’s arguments and ideas. Still, there are points where I’d probably characterize my own position and thoughts on the topics as in friendly disagreement. Still Craig’s approaches to a number of these questions have surprised me. These aren’t the same old arguments drawn from a well-worn evangelical playbook. For that reason alone I think I can recommend this book without any hesitation. Although it is written against the backdrop of Craig’s personal story, I imagine many people will find this book a good read and faith-affirming. If the talking heads on History Channel have ever stirred your curiosities about the Bible and the origins of Christianity, this book will help satisfy many of the key curiosities. If you wonder whether you can still take the Bible seriously, this book is definitely for you.