Teeny Tykes and Tunes–Pamela Vandewalker

Pamela Vandewalker

Pamela Vandewalker has an interesting job. She directs worship programming at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, GA, a worshipping community of roughly 7000 people. She is the author of many books and a composer of about 75 hymns for children.  She stopped by recently to talk with David Capes on “The Stone Chapel” about her life, her battles with cancer, and how hymns fed her soul and encouraged her through the toughest battles of life.  She is a strong advocate of singing and making music in the homes because it imprints on the lives of our children. Churches can and should do more to train up parents in creating music makers not just music consumers at home. To know more about this Dove Award Winner and her passion for worship and equipping a new generation of worshippers, go to www.teenytykesandtunes.com.

To hear the podcast click here.

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.

The Lanier Theological Library is a magnet for scholars, church leaders and influencers.  For the last ten years, it has welcomed hundreds of academics and church leaders from across the globe for public lectures, study, panel discussions, consultations, and encouragement.

These podcasts as well as the Lanier library and the Stone Chapel are generously underwritten by Mark and Becky Lanier and the Lanier Theological Library Foundation.  If you have questions or comments, please be in touch: Email david.capes@lanierlibrary.org

“Then Sings My Soul”–Robert Morgan

Robert Morgan, Teaching Pastor,
The Donelson Fellowship

Robert Morgan, teaching pastor at the Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, TN, has authored more than twenty books.  He lectured at the Stone Chapel on August 21, 2021. While at the library, he talked with David Capes on “The Stone Chapel Podcasts” about his series, Then Sings My Soul published by Thomas Nelson, particularly the third volume in that series. Morgan has been dubbed “the dean of American hymnody” by our own Dr. Capes and is doing more than anyone we know to promote the singing of music old and new in our churches. Older people, he says, need to sing the latest music, and young people need to sing the legacy music. Rather than segregating traditional and contemporary services, which effectively creates different congregations, Morgan advocates for intergenerational worship and training young and old alike to appreciate the music o.

To hear the podcast (22 minutes) click here.

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.

The Lanier Theological Library is a magnet for scholars, church leaders and influencers.  For the last ten years, it has welcomed hundreds of academics and church leaders from across the globe for public lectures, study, panel discussions, consultations, and encouragement.

These podcasts as well as the Lanier library and the Stone Chapel are generously underwritten by Mark and Becky Lanier and the Lanier Theological Library Foundation.  If you have questions or comments, please be in touch: Email david.capes@lanierlibrary.org

One God, One Lord (Part 8)

With the death of my friend and mentor, Larry Hurtado, on November 25, 2019, I thought I’d take an occasion to re-read and blog through his classic book, One God, One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism. It has been published in its 3rd edition recently by Bloomsbury T. & T. Clark, as a part of its Cornerstones Series.  When I visited Larry in early October, he gave me a copy and signed it “for David, trusted friend, Larry.”  With his passing, it is a hallowed possession. One God One Lord

I have spent seven posts blogging through the preface to the 1998 edition.  You can read those earlier posts beginning in December 2019.   Now I turn my attention to the epilogue of the book, which Larry wrote for the 3rd edition.

Larry’s interest in the questions that eventually became ONE GOD, ONE LORD came together for him not long after he finished his PhD.  He felt it was time for a substantial engagement with and against Wilhelm Bousset’s classic book KYRIOS CHRISTOS.  There were two overarching contentions in Bousset’s book.  First, one of the most significant historical developments of early Christianity was the emergence of the ‘Kyrios-cult,’ that is, the treatment of the risen/exalted Jesus as “the rightful recipient” of worship.  Second, Bousset argued that this development did not take place among the first Jewish followers of Jesus in Judea and Jerusalem; instead it happened in places like Antioch and Damascus under the influence of pagan worship where there were gods-a-plenty to be honored.   Jesus became just another of those gods.  Hurtado agreed with the first conclusion but not the second.

Hurtado thought that advances in knowledge and the availability of many Jewish texts—texts not available to Boussett—had rendered his historical judgments in error.  For example, Boussett thought the title “Son of Man” was a common title in second temple Judaism, and thus available for the earliest followers of Jesus to express his significance; it designated an eschatological figure who would appear to bring judgment and redemption to the world.  Therefore, the earliest Christians confessed Jesus to be the “Son of Man,” not the Lord (kyrios) because that word was too closely allied with the name of God and pagan gods; it could be thought to oblige worship of Jesus.  Kyrios-Christ devotion did develop, of course, at a secondary stage since Christianity eventually moved away from its Jewish moorings.  Further study has demonstrated, however, that Bousset was not correct; the “Son of Man” was not a familiar title in second temple Judaism.  Likewise, it is unlikely to have become a confession: “Jesus is the Son of Man.”  In the NT Jesus himself is the one who uses the expression of himself not his followers.

The Achilles’ heel to Bousset’s argument (that the Kyrios-cult developed at some secondary stage away from Jerusalem and Judea) is 1 Cor 16:22: maranatha (Aramaic expression transliterated into Greek letters; cf. Rev 22:20). Most scholars take that as an acclamation, “Our Lord comes,” or an invocation, “Come, our Lord.”  If Paul is using an Aramaic phrase in a Greek letter to a congregation in Corinth in AD 56, it is likely that the original, “primitive” church in Judea/Jerusalem referred to Jesus (the risen and coming one) as the Mareh (Aramaic for “Lord”)Aramaic was the language of the first Jewish communities/ synagogues.  Research by various scholars delving into Qumran materials confirms that the term Mareh could refer to God as a divine title, in ways similar to kyrios in Greek.  Hurtado took this as evidence that devotion to Jesus begins not in Greek-speaking Antioch but in Aramaic-speaking Jerusalem.

ONE GOD, ONE LORD came out of the impulse that Judaism not Hellenism provided the rich seedbed from which the Jesus movement sprung.  It began in a Jewish context and drew initially from that background to express their beliefs regarding Jesus and his significance.  Rather than examining the worship of Jesus in light of the Greek world with all their gods, Hurtado understood the challenges involved in investigating Christ-devotion in light of Jewish beliefs and practices.  That was the essence of his project.

 

One God, One Lord (Part 6)

I continue to work through the preface of Larry Hurtado’s classic, One God, One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism. It has been published in its 3rd edition recently by Bloomsbury T. & T. Clark, as a part of its Cornerstones Series.

Hurtado contended that divine agents, or better principal agents, provided a conceptual category whereby earliest Christians were able to understand how a second figure (like Jesus) could be closely associated with God in creation and sustaining the world, in redemption and future judgment.  For Hurtado, a good deal of early Christians’ assessment of Jesus and his significance owed its substance to this category.  But he never contended that divine agency (principal agency) was sufficient in and of itself to account for the rise of Christ-devotion in the early decades of the Christian movement.  What is unparalleled in second temple Judaism vis-à-vis the principal agent figure is the kind of cultic devotion that arose with Jesus as the rightful (God willed) recipient.  This is truly a “novel development,” that represented what he called a binitarian pattern of devotion.

One factor Hurtado noted was the powerful religious experiences that convinced Jesus followers that it was right and good to reverence the Lord Jesus as Jews were reverencing God.  Moreover, that to reverence Jesus did not distract in any way from one’s devotion to God.  The experiences had to be so forceful and compelling as to persuade scrupulous Jews to consider it God’s will that they reverence Jesus.

larry-hurtado 5
Larry Hurtado, outside of New College, Univ of Edinburgh

Some scholars have questioned whether religious experience could have the kind of generative effect as Hurtado argued.  But he made the point in various articles that sociologists and anthropologists increasingly were recognizing that religious experience, particular “revelations,” did lead to significance innovations.  Any religious experience and language used to express it were culturally and religiously determined.  But there are novel interpretations of religious phenomena that led to structural changes in communities, new beliefs and practices.

The New Testament demonstrates that believers like Paul, a significant minor founder figure, had revelatory experiences that shaped and determined their lives (Galatians 1; 2 Corinthians 13; Acts 9).  These revelations caused Saul/Paul to rethink the concepts, beliefs, and practices that had previously characterized his life.  Whatever value he found in his previous life is now recast in light of knowing Christ (Philippians 3). As a result of his “conversion” or “call,” he joined a new group, the ecclesia of Christ, and found himself at odds with his previous community.  The role of “revelation” is significant in early Christianity.  Hurtado sensed this from the earliest sources and knew that it had sculpted what early Christianity was becoming in its first century.

One God, One Lord (Part 4)

I continue to work through the preface to the second edition of Larry Hurtado’s ONE GOD, ONE LORD.

Regarding precedents for the worship of Jesus in early Christianity . . .

Hurtado appreciated Loren Stuckenbruck’s work on the veneration of angels and the Christology of Revelation (Angel Veneration and Christology, WUNT 2/70 [Tubingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 1995]).  He found Stuckenbruck’s conclusions largely in line with his own.  In his study of Jewish magical texts, angel veneration, and the angelic responses to humans, Stuckenbruck admits there is nothing like an organized cult of angel worship among Jews prior to or during the time of Jesus.  So, there is no precedent for the worship of Jesus in the Jewish posture toward angels, even principal angels. Hurtado 1

Clinton Arnold’s book (The Colossian Syncretism: The Interface between Christianity and Folk Belief at Colossae, WUNT 2/77 [Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1995) also garnered attention from Hurtado.  In particular, devout Jews clearly had an interest in angels, but they did not organize themselves into religious communities gathering to worship or pray to angels as divine, or alongside the God of Israel.  What Hurtado and others demonstrated was that Jewish monotheism was elastic enough to allow for divine agents, like prinicipal angels, to be included in close association with God without somehow giving up on their commitment to God’s oneness.

Another criticism leveled toward Hurtado’s work has to do with whether the early Christians’ actions toward and beliefs about Jesus amounted to worship. Hurtado says yes and he details a number of these.  We will consider those in a future post.  But Jimmy Dunn regards these phenomena as adoration and not worship (see Theology of Paul the Apostle [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998], 257-60.  An analogy I’ve heard Dunn use is this: Catholics and (some) Protestants adore Mary but do not worship her.  Early Christians like Paul, Dunn believes, did gather and offer remarkable devotion to Jesus but that did not constitute “worship” as Jews worshiped the God of Israel.  This phenomenon does take place, eventually, but it is not as early as Hurtado alleges.  You can see my summary and review of Dunn’s arguments here.

Hurtado does conclude that in the first two decades of the Jesus movement there is a “binitarian” pattern of worship that sets Jesus as a rightful recipient of worship along with God.  This is not ditheism (belief in and worship of two distinct figures), but a different pattern that includes Jesus within God in some important way.  So that to bow the head and bend the knee to Jesus is the will of God and constitutive of proper worship (Phil 2.9-11).