And the Winner Is . . .

Congratulations to Dwight Gingrich on winning a copy of Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics by Craig Bartholomew.

There won’t be a give away next week. I’ll be spending the week in Atlanta at the ETS and SBL/AAR conferences.

Thanks to all who participated.

Book Give Away

This week I’m pleased to offer Craig Bartholomew’s new book Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics (Baker Academic). By any standard this is an impressive work. Here’s the catalog description:

“Renowned scholar Craig Bartholomew, coauthor of the bestselling textbook The Drama of Scripture(75,000 copies sold), writes in his main area of expertise–hermeneutics–to help seminarians pursue a lifetime of biblical interpretation. Integrating the latest research in theology, philosophy, and biblical studies, this substantive hermeneutics textbook is robustly theological in its approach, takes philosophical hermeneutics seriously, keeps the focus throughout on the actual process of interpreting Scripture, and argues that biblical interpretation should be centered in the context and service of the church–an approach that helps us hear God’s address today.”

It has glowing endorsements from Kevin Vanhoozer, James D.G. Dunn, Anthony Thiselton, Mary Healy and many more. Leave your name in the comments section by NLT Friday, Nov. 13th, 6:00 am EST. I’ll announce the winner that Friday. If I don’t hear back from the winner within seven days the book will go to another entry.

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Whatever Happened to Jesus’ “Wife”?

Remember some years back when there was news about the discovery of a lost fragment that made mention of Jesus’ wife? It was all over the place. You haven’t heard anything about it because once under scrutiny the real news was far less exciting. But the media accomplished its goal with sensationalistic reporting. In his book, Can We Still Trust the Bible, (Brazos Press) Craig Blomberg offers a nice summary of what transpired.

“When I wrote the first draft of this chapter in September of 2012, the internet was flush with speculation about a supposedly fourth-century scrap of Coptic text, released and translated by Harvard professor Karen King. King’s article made it clear that she thought the text had no bearing on our knowledge about the Jesus of history, but that was not what news reports latched on to. What they hyped was a fragmentary line of text that apparently read, ‘Jesus said to them, ‘My wife . . .’ If the text were not a forgery, if it were genuinely from the fourth century, and if King had given us the best possible translation, we would still need to note that fragmentary fourth-century Coptic texts from the Middle East with unorthodox teaching about Jesus and the disciples are precisely what the large corpus of gnostic texts represents. These documents tell us next to nothing about the historical Jesus, only about the distortions made of him by one heterodox sect that came to full bloom only in the second century after Christ. Within a short time, however, other scholars, especially Durham New Testament professor Francis Watson, gave reasonably conclusive evidence to suggest that the fragment was a forged, modern pastiche of snippets of the Gospel of Thomas and that the word King translated as ‘wife’ should be rendered as ‘woman,’ detached as it originally was from ‘my.’ Yet only a handful of news stories, not nearly as well publicized, disabused the public of the misleading views originally put before them.” (p. 36)

The moral of the story: reader beware of sensational stories from the press about new discoveries regarding Jesus. If there is little to no follow up something turned up that made the press lose interest.




Book Give Away

After a couple of months of being dormant our blog will be happily restored to life. Thank you for your patience. I (Louis) will be helping the new academic buyer, Greg Buick, with some posts until he gets his feet on the ground and learns some of the other aspects of his job. You’ll learn more about him in upcoming weeks.

I’m really excited about our offer this week. I read it a couple of months ago and couldn’t wait for its release. It’s called The Gospel According to Heretics by David Wilhite (Baker Academic). Here’s the catalog description:

“In this volume, a recognized expert in early Christian theology covers the major christological heresies from the first eight centuries of Christianity. What did the ancient heretics say about Jesus and why? David Wilhite offers a charitable reading to carefully discern the concerns that led them to their conclusions, teaching orthodox Christology by explaining the false starts. While some studies offer a revisionist take on various individual figures, The Gospel according to Heretics takes a more comprehensive approach, covering the whole era of the ecumenical councils. It also situates Christianity in relation to Judaism and Islam.

Drawing on up-to-date scholarship yet accessible for beginning students, this engaging introduction to the christological heresies not only helps readers understand teachings about Jesus that the early church rejected but also shows how the history of theology is relevant for today’s church. Professors and students in theology and church history courses, pastors, and interested laypeople will value this work.”

This will appeal to lovers of church history, apologetics, and theology. Leave your name in the comments section by NLT Friday, Nov. 6th 6:00 am EST. I’ll announce the winner that Friday. If I don’t hear back from the winner within seven days the book will go to another entry.

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David E. Wilhite (PhD, University of St. Andrews) is associate professor of theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University. He is the author of Tertullian the African: An Anthropological Reading of Tertullian’s Context and Identities and coauthor of The Church: A Guide for the Perplexed. He is the coeditor of Tertullian and Paul and The Apostolic Fathers and Paul in the Pauline and Patristic Scholars in Debate series.


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.

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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