Monday, December 18, 2006
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Take care, ciao
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Monday, November 27, 2006
αποστολοσ is used throughout the NT as a Christian technical term for the authorised representatives of Christ or the churches who are engaged in particular tasks, usually connected with missionary work, including the establishment and supervision of churches, and who have delegated authority for the purpose.[Marshall, The Pastoral Epistles, pg. 118]
Friday, November 24, 2006
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
- Delegates of Jesus/Holy Spirit sent to proclaim his victory to the nations.
- Established communities of disciples dedicated to the mission of Jesus.
- Transmit and explain the teachings of Jesus and the founding apostles.
- Signs and wonders should confirm the ministry of the apostolic
- Strategically release new ministries of leadership and church planting
- Encourage Christian communities and deal with specific areas of concern/sin
- Gather resources for further apostolic exploits
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Paul uses the term αποστολος (“one who is sent”; cf. John 13:16) in three basic senses: (1) in a general, non-technical sense, of an emissary, delegate, representative, or messenger commissioned by people for a specific task (2 Cor 8:23, of Titus’ two companions; Phil. 2:25, of Epaphroditus); (2) in a semi-technical sense, of a Christian with a particular, permanent commission from Christ or the local church (Rom 16:7, of Andronicus and Junia[s]; 1 Cor 9:5-6, of Barnabas, by implication [cf. Acts 14:4, 14]; 1 Cor 15:7 and Gal. 1:19, of James, the brother of Jesus; and possibly 1 Cor 4:9, of Apollos, by implication from 1 Cor 4:6; and 1 Thess 2:7, of Silas); (3) in a technical sense, of the Twelve (1 Cor 15:5, 7; Gal 1:17; cf. Luke 6:13) and of himself (1 Cor 9:1; 15:9) as commissioned directly by Christ for permanent and distinctive leadership in the universal church. With regard to apostolic status, Paul recognised no distinction between himself and the Twelve (1 Cor 9:1, 5; 15:8-10; 2 Cor 11:5; 12:11; Gal 2:6). For Paul’s view of the qualifications for apostleship (in sense ), see [2 Cor] 12:12.
Friday, November 10, 2006
theology is the servant of the church, “called to perform the simple task of being the place where the church evaluates its own proclamation against its given norm, revelation” (John Webster).I think this admirably captures a significant part of what it means to be an academic Christian. Be sure to read all the propositions and learn from a great teacher.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
|ουκ αυτοι βλασφημουσιν το καλον ονομα το επικληθεν εφ υμας||Is it not they who blaspheme the beautiful name that was invoked over you?|
The ContextThe context of our section provides few clues as to the practical referent. Thus we must ask, what is the rhetorical benefit of James’ question and how does it add to his argument? What images or stories does it evoke in the minds of those to whom James is writing? Is there a narrative sub-structure into which our piece of the puzzle will slot and therefore unlock the answer to our search? Once this is recognized, we may be in a better position to investigate the plausibility of this as a baptismal referent. The section begins in 2:1 with an acclamation that the Lord Jesus Christ is glorious. In vs. 5 James notes that the poor are chosen to inherit the kingdom. Vs. 9 describes the command to “love your neighbour as you love yourself” as a royal law. Sandwiched between these two elements is our verse in question. Royal law and kingdom almost certainly provide the appropriate context to refer to Jesus. Furthermore, since James has already suggested that he is a slave of both God and the LORD Jesus Christ, and he has just referred to Jesus as “our Glorious LORD Jesus Christ” (2:1) we may be confident that James has Jesus in view here.
Jews took very serious the charge of blasphemy (cf. Lev 24:15-16). It was because of Jesus’ supposed blasphemy that the ruling elite had him handed over to the Romans. Jews were prepared to fight and die for the honour of God’s name. God’s name was sacred and any attempt to defame it was met with serious resistance.
Blasphemy is an attempt to injure a man by gravely malignant speech; against God, it is the sin of attempting to bring him into dishonour by such speech.
Thus, if James suggests that this name could be blasphemed, this implicitly suggests a serious reverence for whoever this refers to from James. We may assume this applies to the community as well, for James offers no defence of this position, but merely notes it. Moo notes that,
Because James supplies so little information, we can only speculate about the exact situation here. It may have been Gentiles profanely mocking the God whom believers claimed to worship. It may have been Jews criticizing Christian claims about Jesus. Or, more generally, it may have involved unbelievers making fun of Christian morality and worship practices.
We may not have enough information to describe the exact situation to which James refers, but we must endeavour to understand the boundaries of what James may be referring to. What name could Jews and Christians revere so much? What did this reverence for a name suggest about their allegiance and commitment to the one named? The fact that James uses such a strong word (blasfhmew) suggests that whoever is being referred to is the recipient of a generous amount of cultic allegiance.
But who is the referent of this ‘beautiful name’? Martin notes that the name is either that of Jesus or “the Christian’s own title to faith.” Adamson suggests that it refers to the name “Christians” (See Acts 11:26; 13:45; 18:6; 26:11, 28; 1 Cor 12:3; 1 Tim 1:13; 1 Pet 4:14, 16). If Luke is correct in suggesting that the title ‘Christian’ was conceived at Antioch, then it seems unlikely that that is what James has in view here. There is no reason to suggest that this title was in use within the communities to which James writes, so we can but speculate.
We should also pay careful attention to what James has written. Our verse refers to a single past tense event where the beautiful name was invoked over them. This suggests that the name is not currently being invoked over them, since they have already given themselves to this name. This makes the reference to “Christians” unlikely, as this would be a continuous name used to designate believers. Given the context of this pericope, as noted above, it seems more likely to refer to the actual name of Jesus, than to title the ‘Christians’. It becomes, therefore, important to appreciate the use of ejpiklhqe;n, as used when “someone’s name is called over someone to designate the latter as the property of the former.” Davids notes that,
The phrase “to call a name upon one” is a septuagintalism, indicating possession or relationship, particularly relationship to God (Amos 9:12; Dt. 28:10; 2 Chron 7:14; Is 43:7; Jer 14:9; Pss. Sol. 19:18).
Where was this name invoked over them? What options does early Christianity provide us with? Could we postulate a worship setting where the name of Jesus is invocated over believers? But then would this be a continuous element of worship gatherings or a single event? When pagans converted, was the name of Jesus invoked over them? What evidence is there for this claim? The natural response to this is that the new believer would invoke the name of Jesus, not over them [as we have here in James] but they would just invoke it, requesting salvation. This at least is the Lukan and Pauline paradigm that we have from early Christianity.
So the one option, when discussing James, that springs to mind, is that of baptism. There are many examples of the name of Jesus being invoked at baptism (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48). Hurtado observes that,
The widespread acceptance of baptism in Christian circles as the defining initiation rite, and involving the ritual use of Jesus’ name as a constituent feature, is best accounted for by positing its origin among early, respected and influential circles of believers, among whom the Jerusalem church held unrivalled status.
Based on this, and the notion that we have no other event that calls for such an invocation, we may plausibly suggest that Vs. 7 appears as a reference to the baptism rite that followers undergo to express their allegiance to Jesus the King. This verse then indicates that the name of Jesus was a particularly sacred name that was to be revered and not misused. Those to whom James is writing take offence from anyone misusing the name of Jesus, since that was the name of the one to whom they belonged, and to whom they gave their allegiance as the Glorious Lord Jesus Christ (Jas. 2:1).
this blog is a work in process :: thoughts expressed are not necessarily final judgements... Thoughts? Comments? Criticisms? All Welcome...
 Hurdato, L. Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity (Eerdmans, 2003), pg. 202. Various other scholars have taken the same position. See P. H. Davids, The Epistle of James (Eerdmans, 1982), pg. 113-114; S. Laws, A Commentary on the Epistle of James (A & C Black, 1980), pg. 105; L. T. Johnson, The Letter of James (Doubleday, 1995), pg. 226; and P. J. Hartin, James and the ‘Q’ Sayings of Jesus (Sheffield Academic Press, 1991), pg. 92 .
 Moo, The Letter of James, pg. 109; J. H. Ropes, St. James (T & T Clark, 1961) pg. 197
 The Kingdom of God is the central message of Jesus, but it was not an ubiquitous concept in Judaism thus making its appearance here more likely due to Jesus than anything else.
 Davids, The Epistle of James, pg. 113 writes “‘The good name called upon you’ is certainly the name of Jesus.”
 Adamson, J. The Epistle of James (Eerdmans, 1976), pg. 112
 Moo, D. The Letter of James (Eerdmans, 2000), pg. 109
 Martin, R. P. James (Word, 1988), pg. 67
 Adamson, The Epistle of James, pg. 112-13
 Contra Adamson, The Epistle of James, pg. 112
 Bauer, Walter, Gingrich, F. Wilbur, and Danker, Frederick W. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979, [Online] Available: Logos Library System. See 2 Sam 6:2; 1 Kings 8:43; Jer 7:30; 14:9; Am 9:12; 2 Ch 7:14 and Ac 15:17.
 Davids, The Epistle of James, pg. 113
 Like L. Hurtado, At the Origins of Christian Worship (Paternoster, 1999), pg. 4 the word ‘pagan’ is employed to designate those that do not belong to Judaism or Christianity. It is not meant in a pejorative sense.
 Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ, pg. 203
Friday, September 22, 2006
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Friday, September 15, 2006
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
- Hymns about Jesus sung as part of early Christian worship;
- Prayer to God “through” Jesus and “in Jesus’ name,” and even direct prayer to Jesus himself, including particularly the invocation of Jesus in the corporate worship setting;
- “Calling upon the name of Jesus,” particularly in Christian baptism and in healing and exorcism;
- The Christian common meal enacted as a sacred meal where the risen Jesus presides as “Lord” of the gathered community;
- The practice of ritually “confessing” Jesus in the context of Christian worship; and
- Christian prophecy as oracles of the risen Jesus, and the Holy Spirit of prophecy understood as also the Spirit of Jesus.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
An exhaustive study of Pauline Christology by noted Pauline scholar, Gordon Fee. The author provides a detailed analysis of the letters of Paul (including those whose authorship is questioned) individually, exploring the Christology of each one, and then attempts a synthesis of the exegetical work into a biblical Christology of Paul.
The author’s synthesis covers the following themes: Christ’s roles as divine Savior and as preexistent and incarnate Savior; Jesus as the Second Adam, the Jewish Messiah, and Son of God; and as the Messiah and exalted Lord. Fee also explores the relationship between Christ and the Spirit and considers the Person and role of the Spirit in Paul’s thought. Appendices cover the theme of Christ and Personified Wisdom, and Paul’s use of Kurios (Lord) in citations and echoes of the Septuagint.
“Anyone who has read even a smattering of Paul’s writings recognizes early on that his devotion to Christ was the foremost reality and passion of his life. What he said in one of his later letters serves as a kind of motto for his entire Christian life: ‘For me to live is Christ; to die is [to] gain [Christ]’ (Phil. 1:21). Christ is the beginning and goal of everything for Paul, and thus is the single great reality along the way.”—From the Introduction.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
John Painter has challenged the tide of scholarship on the historical James, suggesting a new hypothesis to explain the extant evidence that we have. Painter calls for a re-evaluation of three widely held positions: 
- James and the other brothers and sisters of Jesus were not believers during Jesus ministry.
- James became a believer through a resurrection appearance of Jesus to him.
- A transition from Peter’s leadership to that of James was necessitated by Peter’s forced flight from Jerusalem
The last of these three is, at this point of the discussion, unimportant. What I wish to respond to is Painter’s claim that James was a follower of Jesus pre-crucifixion. That means that the first two positions are related and should be dealt with together.
Was Jesus' mother and brothers were among his retinue during the Galilean ministry (John 2:12; 7:3-5; Mark 3:21 // Matt 12:46 // Luke 8:19) ? Painter argues that the Gospels’ treatments of Jesus family must be read against the Gospel writers editorial tendencies. In both Mark and John, the brothers of Jesus “are portrayed as ‘fallible followers’ rather than as outright unbelievers.” Painter notes:
The overall effect of John 2:1-11, 12, is to lead the reader to the conclusion that the mother and brothers of Jesus were among his intimate supporters. This impression is not altogether undone by John 7:3-5, in which the narrator informs the readers that they did not believe in him at this stage. Yet, the impression that his brothers were followers is confirmed by the presences with Jesus.
Painters conjecture seems unwarranted for several reasons. Firstly, in the absence of positive evidence suggesting James [not just the brothers in general] was in fact a disciple of Jesus [pre-crucifixion], all that Painter’s argument can do is cast doubt as to when James converted.
Secondly, there appears to be several strands of data that lead us to conclude that James was not in fact a disciple of Jesus. From the traditions in Mark, through Matthew and Luke to John, the evidence for James as a disciple is particularly scant and flimsy. The internal evidence from John’s gospel is insufficient to warrant Painter’s conclusion. This is especially evident from the fact that a presence with Jesus does not automatically entail that presence being a disciple. Many people were with Jesus at various stages of his ministry. Not all of them were disciples, and to suggest that just because one was with Jesus made them a disciple, is to go beyond what evidence we have.
The least we can conclude is that according to John 2, Jesus’ brothers [does this have to include all his brothers or just a couple?] may have, at one point early in his ministry, been followers. But by John 7 they have abandoned the way [cf. James 5:19-20, where James could be highlighting wisdom from his own experience though this remains speculative]. Mark 3:21 & 6 suggests that the brothers of Jesus took offence at his ministry. Witherington notes:
Witherington’s argument is historically more probable and plausible than the one reference from John. Thus, this explains why Jesus’ brothers felt it necessary to be close to Jesus. They felt the need to protect the honour of their family, and thus restrain their deviant older brother.  John Painter, Just James: The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition (Fortress Press, 1999), 13  Ibid., 15.  Ibid., 17.  Ibid., 18  Witherington, The Gospel of Mark, pg. 155. Witherington goes on to suggest “There may also be this further connection between the family passage and the passages about the scribes – the reference to a house divided against itself could in fact be taken as an allusion to Jesus’ own household.” Witherington further notes that “The door is left open for Jesus’ physical family to join the family of faith in 3:35, but Mark does not suggest that the family, even later, walked through that door.” Pg. 156Thus, as minimum, we must conclude that mark in vv. 20-21 is presenting the unflattering picture of Jesus being misunderstood by his own family. They either thought he was unbalanced or, at least, not in control of the situation he was precipitating. If the latter, then they may be trying to protect Jesus rather than remove him from the public scene because of the shame and controversy he was bringing on his family. Yet the verb, which occurs again in 6:17 and 12:12, is a strong on and refers in those texts to attempts to arrest Jesus. Here it must mean at least that they have come to restrain Jesus, a forceful action… Seen from the perspective of honour and shame conventions, it is possible to see the action of the family as an attempt to protect their own family honour rather than protect Jesus in particular. They did not want him to disgrace the family.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
So often, if one does not embrace a hermeneutic of suspicion, one is summarily disqualified as an able exegete or historian of early Christianity. Well, such was my experience at Auckland University. Is there any way to reverse this tide of destructive deconstruction? Does faith provide an air of optimism regarding study of ancient texts? Think on these things...
“instead of treating the text as an accumulation of sterile facts and sifting through them to rational, theological conclusions, we should treat the text as we would a friend whom we love and respect. In doing so, we listen carefully to everything it wants to say before dissecting its terms… It means asking the text if our interpretation is an appropriate estimate of its words because we love our friend so much we don’t desire to knowingly misrepresent her... To read the text at distance, or with so-called healthy, academic scepticism without also reading it as a message from a caring friend is to misread it and truncate our theological calling.”
Baker, W. R. “Christology in the Epistle of James” EQ 74:1 (2002) 47-57, pg. 49
Friday, August 11, 2006
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Friday, August 04, 2006
"The quotation in 4:5 provides the scriptural basis for this by pointing out God's enmity twoards envy. This contextual consideration makes it much more likely that, if this proposal for translation is correct, then refers to the divine Spirit rather than the human spirit. A reference to the human spirit here would be an unnecessaryily indirect way of pointing out God's own opposition to envy...
Understanding James as deploying here a wisdom pneumatology () fits very well with our proposed understanding of the quotation in 4:5. Both the wisdom from above of 3:13-18 and the Spirit of 4:5 are opposed to envy." [pg. 278]
Bauckham's book on James is not for the novice. It has loads of excellent historical analysis and probes various historical issues. But I've got to wonder if this book was just written for scholars. Yes, he does have a superb section the contemporary application of James in the final chapter. Yes, he does have an excellent introduction. But other than that, and his section on James in canonical perspective, this book is exegetically thin. [Not something I was expecting, but maybe that's my problem?] Bauckham's outline is helpful and his analysis of ancient wisdom compared with James is also insightful. I would have liked to see Bauckham develop his Christological Monotheism and the Identity of God in James' letter more. The conflation of LORD, a title reserved for YHWH, used for Jesus as well as GOD needs to be thrashed out by Bauckham's tinker. Overall, Bauckham is a fantastic scholar and there are tons of useful insights. Maybe not as helpful for the preacher as for the scholar, but still well worth the effort. And the fact that Bauckham keeps up to date with theologians is astounding. Make sure you check this out...
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
The problem is, and I think Kloppenborg and Allison are trying to address it in their own way, to account for the fact that we have a very Jewish letter here, obviously written by a Christian, but it has so little explicitly Christian content. Is that because the author simply drew on a synagogue sermon and made a few cosmetic Christian changes (Dibelius), because it was written largely to non-Christian Jews (McNeil, Kloppenborg, Allison), or because the author drew on the traditions most familiar to him (Jewish Wisdom, Jesus Tradition, or perhaps even Stoicism [?]) in order to offer exhortation and spiritual discipline to a group of Jewish-Christians located somewhere in rural Syria? As the flurry of commentaries by Allison, Kloppenborg, Painter, and McKnight come out we can look forward to seeing how they answer such a question.
Friday, July 28, 2006
While not specifically referring to the death of Jesus, does James' Christology function in the same way? As a moral exhortation to the communities that pledge allegiance to this king? I'll pause for reflection and comments before launching further...If his premature demise has, in some way, enlightened the rest of you as to the grim finish below the glossy veneer of criminal [sinful?] life, and inspired you to change your ways, then his death carries with it an inherent nobility. And a supreme glory. We should all be so fortunate.
Friday, July 21, 2006
Friday, July 14, 2006
Thursday, July 13, 2006
- Did Q look like James in its structure and content? [Will Kloppenberg's forthcoming commentary on James argue this?]
- Did James have access to Q when he wrote his letter? [Will Allison's forthcoming commentary argue this? As does P.J. Hartin James and the Q Sayings of Jesus (Sheffield: JSOT press, 1991)]
- Was James the collator/redactor of Q ? [a PhD idea for some poor soul?]
- Or worse [better?], did James author Q ? [Who's brave enough to suggest that?]
But, given the fact that I am a Q sceptic, like Mark Goodacre [See The Case Against Q], how do those who reject the existence of a documentary Q, explain the Jesus tradition in James?
- What is the relationship between Matt and James? [There's more likely a relationship between Matt/James then Luke/James, or did I miss something?]
- Was Matthew, James' scribe? Or vice versa?
- Or, if Martin [James, lxxvii] is right about the two stage production of James, did Matt edit James? [Martin proposes an Antiochene provenance based on Zimmermann's Die urchristlichen Lehrer (Mohr, 1984)]
- Is there space for James in the Synoptic Problem? (Did Matthew have access to James?) [According to the Blog Father, Michael Goulder actually proposed that James had access to Matt. But when do we date them then?]
- Could one postulate an early date for the gospel of Matthew, based on the early dating of James? [Who could propose this argument and actually get away with it? Bauckham? Hengel? Wenham?]
- Or do we just assume it's oral tradition and carry on as usual? [This appears to be the view of Brosend, James and Jude, pg. 11]
- What could be the possible criteria for postulating these theories? How would we judge them?
There seems to be a real hesitancy for scholars to engage these questions. So why not just expand your mind and let your presuppositions go, and imagine quite a few variant scenario's for the relationship between James and the Jesus traditions... Which one's are more plausible or probable than others? And why?
A future blog will hopefully catalogue the various sayings of Jesus compared with James. I'm trying to get my hands on Dean Deppe's study [The Sayings of Jesus in the Epistle of James], which most regard as very influential in this realm of Jacobean studies.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Darlack then questions: Does care of widows and orphans, a disdain for economic favoritism and the denunciation of social injustice necessitate "political religion" or prophetic religion? My question is simply: Why [and if so, how?] are these two mutually exclusive? Politics and religion are insepparable, and it was it not the burden of the prophets to influence/direct Jewish politics? Jesus was certainly a prophet, but he was also engaged in serious politics [hence Roman opposition]. Now, while I'm not convinced that either James or Jesus sought to overthrow the Romans and restore the Kingdom of Israel [unless one meant a non-violent overthrow through passive resistance], James may still be a political manifesto for those living under the royal law - the Torah of King Jesus.. . . James was continuing with the teaching of his brother, emphasizing a more political form of religion that stressed the coming of a messiah to overthrow the Romans and restore the kingdom of Israel. . . . The theology of James, with its emphasis on political change as a way to address poverty and injustice, is as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago, Wilson says.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Other than that, its back to the drawing board: thinking outrageous thoughts on James and Political Theology...
Monday, July 10, 2006
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Friday, July 07, 2006
This is the first commentary to focus exclusively on the two letters written by the 'brothers of the Lord', James and Jude. Each letter is discussed on its own merits, and interpreted as having been written early in the life of the Church - it is posited that the letter of James may be one of the oldest Christian writings as well as an early witness to the teachings of Jesus. Particular attention is devoted to understanding the social worlds of James and Jude and to interpreting the significance of their message for our day. Of special interest is the focus on the 'ideological texture' of James, in particular on James' working out of the ethical implications of the teachings of Jesus on poverty and wealth.This looks good and promises many homiletical as well as exegetical insights... Check it out...
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Friday, June 23, 2006
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
- On account of the self-contained nature of the passage, its compact phrasing, and its cadences (more evident in the Greek than in translation), 1:15-20 is widely thought to be a devotional poem or “hymn.”
- Unity and coherence speak against adaptation of an existing hymn.
- Probably originated in the context of Christian worship.
- Conceptual categories most likely derived from Greek speaking Jewish circles [LXX].
- Stettler characterizes this as a “Christ-Psalm” lauding Jesus in the cadences of the Psalter.
What is most interesting to note is the lack of attention paid to προτοτοκος. Hurtado does not even entertain the thought that the mutation/explosion among early Christians as to the worship of Jesus, may have gone astray from monotheism to an adoptionistic Christology [a thought entertained by Dunn in Christology in the Making?]. Unless προτοτοκος is adequately dealt with, this conclusion remains a distinct possibility. Col 1:15-20 must be carefully exegeted to see if this conclusion is warranted. Failing that, an analysis of devotion to Jesus within a monotheistic framework remains incomplete.I hope to address προτοτοκος in an upcoming blog... Your thoughts?
 Hurdato, Lord Jesus Christ, pg. 505
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
If you're keen, get writing and I may even post a few of them that are really good...