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In this episode of The Stone Chapel
I talk with Dr. Anne Clements from her home in the UK about a book entitled Mothers on the Margin? The Significance of the Women in Matthew’s Genealogy, published by Pickwick Publications out of Eugene, OR. I’ve always been fascinated with the fact that Matthew annotates his genealogy by referencing five women who “begat” children (there’s something charming about the King James Version). Each of these women had a fascinating story and the part they play in Jesus’ lineage points to a different kind of future where outsiders are made insiders and where women occupy a significant place in the kingdom of God.
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The Stone Chapel is a podcast of the friends and staff of the Lanier Theological Library in Houston, Texas. It is hosted by Dr. David Capes, Senior Research Fellow at the library and former faculty member at Houston Baptist University and Wheaton College. The purpose of the podcast is to bring to our audience great conversations from the world’s leading experts in theology, biblical studies, archaeology, Church history, the Dead Sea Scrolls, ethics, ministry, and a host of other topics close to the mission of the library.
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The final petition of the Lord’s Prayer, the one many memorized, ended “deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6). It is as if evil is this abstract thing from which we need protection. But modern translations have opted for a different reading. In this episode of Exegetically Speaking, I talk with Dr. Robert Plummer, the Collin and Evelyn Aikman Professor of Biblical Studies at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the host of the Daily Dose of Greek screencast (dailydoseofgreek.com), who considers whether the Lord teaches us to pray for deliverance from evil in general, as many translations have it, or from “the evil one,” the devil. Grammar and context, he argues, favor taking it as a reference to the devil.
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Dr. Jonathan Pennington, Associate Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, reflects upon a clause often translated as “be perfect” in Matthew 5:48. He suggests that “Be whole” is a better interpretation of the Greek.
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On this edition of the podcast, “Exegetically Speaking,” Dr. Ed Stetzer, dean of the School of Mission, Ministry and Leadership at Wheaton College, discusses the Great Commission (Matt 28.19-20) and what Jesus meant when he sent his disciples to “all nations.” Our phrase “all nations” may not adequately capture the Greek phrase panta ta ethne. Give us seven minutes and we’ll change the way you think.
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Dr. Jonathan Pennington, associate professor of New Testament and director of the doctoral program at Southern Seminary, has written an important, new book on the Sermon on the Mount. The title is The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing: A Theological Commentary (Baker Academic, 2017). You can find a link to Amazon here. The book is not exactly new; I’ve known about it for about a year now. But it is new to me and perhaps to many of you.
Pennington is regarded broadly as an expert on the Gospel of Matthew. Now, on the way to writing the prestigious Pillar Commentary on the whole Gospel, he paused and wrote an extensive theological commentary on the Sermon. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) is probably the best known sermon of Jesus. Oscar Brooks called it “the inaugural address” of Jesus because it laid out the platform for the kingdom of God.
At the heart of Pennington’s book, as the title shows, is an interpretation of the beatitudes and the Sermon as what we would call today “human flourishing.” Essentially, what wisdom is needed and what virtues must be cultivated in order for humans–or in this case, Jesus-followers–to flourish. He begins by re-translating the beatitudes (Matt 5.3ff) in a manner like: “Flourishing are the poor the spirit, . . . “; “Flourishing are those who mourn, . . . ” You get the idea. He moves the Greek word makarios out of the category of “happy” or “fortunate” or “blessed.” While the term “human flourishing” may be anachronistic, it is heuristically valuable and gets at the heart of what is the good life and good society.
One of the most important features of the book is Pennington’s commitment to join together the Jewish wisdom tradition with Greco-Roman virtue ethics. Rather than seeing these as discrete aspects of Galilean/Jewish culture, Pennington invites us to see these as mutually instructive. He makes a good case for it. But wisdom here is not just “this worldly,” it also has an eschatological dimension as well. It is thoroughly Christ-centered and kingdom-focused.
Pastors and scholars have been writing on the Sermon for years. My first encounter with a book devoted largely to it was Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book The Cost of Discipleship. I am not sure the trend will end, but I do think that Pennington’s book is likely to become one of the most significant books on the sermon for years to come.