Coming Soon – “Neither Jew nor Greek” by James G.D. Dunn

When James Dunn speaks I listen. What he writes I read. So I’m thrilled to see the culmination of his “Christianity in the Making” series finally released. Here’s the catalog description:

“This book brings James Dunn’s magisterial Christianity in the Making trilogy to a close. Neither Jew nor Greek covers the period following the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 c.e. and running through the second century, when the still-new Jesus movement firmed up its distinctive identity markers and the structures on which it would establish its growing appeal in the following decades and centuries.

Dunn examines in depth the major factors that shaped first-generation Christianity and beyond, exploring the parting of the ways between Christianity and Judaism, the Hellenization of Christianity, and responses to Gnosticism. He mines all the first- and second-century sources, including the New Testament Gospels and such apostolic fathers as Ignatius, Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus. Comprehensively covering an important, complex era in early Christianity that is often overlooked, Neither Jew nor Greek is a landmark contribution to the field.”

Watch for this in November. Neither Jew nor Greek is from Eerdmans. It will be a hardcover with 816 pages and sell for $60.00.

Widely regarded as one of the foremost scholars in the world today on the thought and writings of St. Paul, James D. G. Dunn is Lightfoot Professor Emeritus of Divinity at the University of Durham in England.

dunn_Chris Making vol 3_jkt_front_des 5.indd

Why is Salvation a Greater Work than Creation?

Based on the work of Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologica I-II, 113,9), Peter Kreeft offers an intriguing answer to today’s question.

“To fix a broken product (e.g., a car, a painting, or a book) is not usually a greater work than to make it in the first place.

First of all, the analogy fails because we are not ‘products’ of God but ‘children’ of God.

Second, the effect of creating the universe is something mortal (the universe), but the effect of redemption is immortal. When the stars die we will still be young. That is St. Thomas’ point. In terms of modern physics, the universe, and everything in it, is winding down (‘entropy’) and doomed to death. We, unlike everything in the universe, are being wound up forever into increasing circles of divine life. We are not just parts of the universe. Only our mortal bodies are.

Third, that out of which God created the universe—non-being—offered no resistance to His omnipotent work. Creation was a ‘no-sweat’ operation; all God had to do was to think and will the universe (‘let there be . . .’) and it was. But we put up resistance by our sin, our pride, our rebellion.

The ‘good news’ part of this point is that we can cooperate in salvation, as we cannot cooperate in creation. God created us without our consent but He will not redeem us without our consent.

Fourth, it cost God nothing to create us, but it cost Him everything to redeem us. It cost Him His own life, and Heavenly joy: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Mt 27:46).

Fifth, the end result of creation is simply natural goodness, which is great but finite; while the end result of redemption is supernatural goodness on our part, ‘a share in the Godhead’, which is infinite. The value of redemption infinitely exceeds the value of creation. ‘For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his own soul?’ (Mk 8:36) (Practical Theology, p. 149 Ignatius Press)

Practical Theology


Coming Soon – “The Fourfold Gospel” by Francis Watson

The Gospels have always been a favorite area of study for me. So when I learned about a new book on the Gospels from Francis Watson I got really excited. The Fourfold Gospel (Baker Academic) will be released next April. Here’s the catalog description:

“This groundbreaking approach to the study of the fourfold Gospel offers a challenging alternative to prevailing assumptions about the creation of the Gospels and the person of Jesus. How and why does it matter that we have these four Gospels? Why were they placed alongside one another as four parallel yet diverse retellings of the same story?

Francis Watson, widely regarded as one of the foremost New Testament scholars of our time, explains that the four Gospels were chosen to give a portrait of Jesus. He explores the significance of the canonical Gospel’s plural form for those who constructed it and for later Christian communities, showing that in its plurality it bears definitive witness to what God has done in Jesus Christ. Watson focuses on reading the Gospels alongside one another rather than in isolation and explains that the fourfold Gospel is greater than, and other than, the sum of its individual parts. Interweaving historical, exegetical, and theological perspectives, this book is accessibly written for students and pastors but is also of interest to professors and scholars.”

The Fourfold Gospel will be a hardcover with 224 pages and sell for $24.99.

Francis Watson (PhD, University of Oxford) is research chair in biblical interpretation at Durham University. He previously taught at the University of Aberdeen and at King’s College London. Among his numerous works are the critically acclaimed Paul and the Hermeneutics of Faith; Paul, Judaism, and the Gentiles: Beyond the New Perspective; and Gospel Writing: A Canonical Approach.


Coming Soon – “Medieval Wisdom for Modern Christians”

The Medieval church suffers from some terrible PR. Ask most Christians what we can learn from that time period and you’re likely to draw a blank or nothing but bad ideas; e.g., they believed the Earth was flat. Next February author Chris Armstrong will help us see a more positive image of the Medieval church. Here’s the catalog description of Medieval Wisdom for Modern Christian:

“Most evangelical accounts of church history tend to leave out the medieval period. Tapping into current evangelical ancient-future interests, church historian Chris Armstrong introduces the riches of the medieval church, helping contemporary Christians discover authentic faith and renewal in a forgotten era. Armstrong explores key ideas, figures, and movements from the Middle Ages in conversation with C. S. Lewis and other thinkers, making medieval wisdom accessible and edifying for today’s church.”

Medieval Wisdom for Modern Christians is from Brazos Press and will be a paperback with 240 pages and sell for $19.99.

Chris R. Armstrong (PhD, Duke University) is the founding director of Opus: The Art of Work, an institute on faith and vocation at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, where he also serves as a faculty member in biblical and theological studies. He formerly served as professor of church history at Bethel Seminary and was founding director of the Bethel Work with Purpose initiative. Armstrong is senior editor of Christian History and senior editor of the Patheos Faith and Work Channel. He is also the author of Patron Saints for Postmoderns.


Beware of Fool’s Gold in “Golden Nuggets” From the Greek

We’ve all heard some “golden nuggets” from the Greek (or Hebrew) given by pastors or found in study guides or commentaries. We should be careful that the gold in the golden nugget is not fool’s gold. Consider this discussion in Rodney Decker’s work Reading Koine Greek (Baker Academic).

“We refer to the person/thing to whom or for whom the action of the verb is done as the indirect object. This is usually one word and most commonly occurs (in English) between the verb and the direct object. For example,

Meghan threw Liam an apple.

In this sentence we say ‘Liam’ is the indirect object, because he receives the action (and the apple also). The subject of this sentence (the doer of the action) is ‘Meghan.’ The direct object is ‘apple,’ since this is what is thrown. Consider a variation of this example:

Meghan threw an apple to Liam.

This second sentence says the exact same thing but uses a prepositional phrase (‘to Liam’) instead of an indirect object. English does not have a separate case for the indirect object; Greek does.”

But the inspiration for my thought about “fool’s gold” came from the footnote to this text. Decker continues,

“Would you agree that English is sometimes weird? It can say the same thing two different ways with no difference in meaning. Actually, that is very normal. It is the same way in Greek. Do not try to make every little difference in Greek the basis for some special nuance—a ‘golden nugget.’ As you hear people talking about the Greek NT (whether commentators, preachers, or Bible study leaders), it is often a safe rule of thumb that their reliable knowledge of Greek is inversely proportionate to the number of ‘golden nuggets’ that they find in the text.” (p. 47n.5)

Reading Koine Greek


Coming Soon “Exodus” by Thomas Joseph White

The Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible series (Brazos Press) is truly a unique commentary series. It focuses on theological commentary rather than the historical-grammatical focus of traditional evangelical commentaries. Coming next April we will see Exodus from Thomas Joseph White. Here’s the catalog description:

“Exodus recounts the origins of ancient Israel, but it is also a book of religious symbols. How should it be interpreted, especially in light of modern historical-critical study? In this addition to an acclaimed series, a respected scholar offers a theological reading of Exodus that highlights Aquinas’s interpretations of the text. As with other volumes in the series, this commentary is ideal for those called to ministry, serving as a rich resource for preachers, teachers, students, and study groups.”

Exodus will be a hardcover with 336 pages and sell for $32.99.

Thomas Joseph White, OP (DPhil, Oxford University) is director of the Thomistic Institute and associate professor of systematic theology at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC. He is the author of several books.


Today is National Polygamy Day

This might seem to be a pretty random post but I learned about it from a forthcoming book from Zondervan called Prostitutes and Polygamists: A Look at Love, Old Testament Style. David Lamb, author of God Behaving Badly, (IVP) will explore the thorny problem of prostitution and polygamy in the Old Testament. Here’s the catalog description:

“Jacob and Solomon were polygamists. Tamar and Rahab were prostitutes. What are polygamists and prostitutes doing on the pages of Holy Scripture? And God told the prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute. What about Cain—did he really marry his sister? Abraham did, and he was also a polygamist. Lot offered his daughters up for rape, David committed adultery (or rape?) and the Bible calls both men righteous. Love, Old Testament style, was bizarre.

As readers of the Old Testament encounter these weird, confusing, and horrific “love” stories they ask, “What’s up with sex in the Old Testament?” The church often ignores the R-rated bits of the Bible, so it’s hard for people to find answers to their disturbing questions about sex in Scripture, which can lead people to give up on God and God’s word.

However, these stories were included in the Bible for a reason, to reveal an even more shocking “love” story. When humans behave badly, God behaves graciously. God not only forgives people with sexual baggage, but also redeems their lives and includes them in his mission. God’s word records their story to benefit us. Just as sex was not often ideal in the Old Testament, it’s often not ideal today. Instead of ignoring these stories, Prostitutes and Polygamists engages, discusses, and learns from them.”

Watch for it this September. It will be paperback with 208 pages and sell for $16.99.

David Lamb (DPhil, University of Oxford) is associate professor of Old Testament at Biblical Seminary in Philadelphia. He is author of God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist? (IVP) and Righteous Jehu and His Evil Heirs (Oxford) and is currently working on a commentary on 1, 2 Kings in The Story of God Bible Commentary series (Zondervan). He blogs at