Every pastor, student, and Christian should read Grant Macaskill’s Living in Union with Christ. Macaskill lucidly argues for the importance of being in Christ for the Christian life. Any account, he avers, that does not begin with “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives within me” (Gal 2:20) amounts to a species of legalism because it assumes that “I” (the agent) have accomplished something apart from Christ. [Read more…] about How Important Is Union with Christ for Living the Christian Life? Answer: It Is Everything (review of Macaskill’s “Living in Union with Christ”)
Luke Timothy Johnson wrote Constructing Paul with the expertise of one who has spent much of his life studying Paul and his world. In this first of two volumes, Johnson lays out his vision for constructing Paul.
Johnson explains, “In this work I propose a third sort of construction, not of the life and thought of the ‘historical Paul,’ nor Paul’s thought as understood or used by later ecclesiastical commentators and theologians, but of the elements required for a responsible reading of the letters ascribed to Paul in the New Testament canon” (12–13).
He continues: “The essays in this first volume undertake an assessment of all the elements needed for a reader to do serious study of these letters” (13).
In essence, volume one provides the framework to hear Paul’s voice, which Johnson hopes to convey (or hear) in the second volume (15). The first volume of Constructing Paul thus provides the scaffolding to undertake serious study of Paul’s letters, which Johnson will illustrate in volume 2.
Sometimes we read Paul and think, “Wow, his emotional intensity here really tells me how he feels” or “wow, he got lost in his argument due to his zealousness.” In fact, neither of these observations can be true.
We cannot psychoanalyze Paul nor gain insight into his emotional life in such a direct way. We cannot do so partly because of the nature of letter writing and because of Paul’s own testimony. These preclude us from making such judgments when we read him.
Paul could not have written letters with emotional flourish (at least not in a modern sense) for the following reasons:
Gottschalk of Orbais lived during the Carologinian era (c. 715–c.888 CE; p. 2). Born sometime before 814, his family (or some caretaker) gave him “as a child oblate to Fulda” (25). “During his pueritia or before he was of the age of understanding,” explains Matthew Bryan Gillis, “Gottschalk was allegedly forced by Hrabanus to take the monastic vow and tonsured against his will” (25).
He would challenge the legality of his vow and eventually win his case. From that moment on, he would be a man marked by conviction. Once, in order to prove his theology, he offered to undergo an ordeal. He proposed four barrels be filled with various liquids (water, oil, lard, pitch) under which fire would burn. Then he would dip his entire body into each barrel. If he lived, he considered his theology as vindicated (see 129–131). [Read more…] about Review of “Heresy And Dissent in the Carolingian Empire” (Matthew Bryan Gillis)
The quality of Zondervan’s book, from the cover art, to the colour pages, even up to the beautiful design within the book makes this new textbook on the New Testament attractive. But added to Zondervan’s intelligent design, two Protestant New Testament scholars have provided an introductory yet still robust introduction to the New Testament.
In one sense, The New Testament And Its World appears to be an effort at summarizing the historical and exegetical work of N. T. Wight over the years. But readers will detect the influence of Michael Bird as well. For example, in a chapter on the pastoral epistles, N. T. Wright is noted as arguing for the authenticity of 2 Timothy; the rest of the argument for the authenticity of 1 Timothy and Titus almost certainly comes from the hand of Bird.
However, it is fairly obvious that TNTAIW basically summarizes and repackages Wight’s voluminous writings and research into the New Testament and its world. For that reason alone, the volume may be worth a purchase. [Read more…] about Review of the New Testament And Its World by Wright and Bird
Robert Alter’s translation of the Hebrew Bible is a delight to read, and his notes skillfully assist readers in understanding the text. That said, the notes have a limited purpose (mainly literary in focus) and the translation, while faithful and artistic, exposes readers to the oddity that is Hebrew prose and poetry. This exposure may jar readers used to translations like the NIV. [Read more…] about Robert Alter’s translation of the Hebrew Bible