Sunday, June 29, 2008


Well, Sue and I fly out to NZ tomorrow for the international SBL in Auckland, and a great [and much needed] snowboarding holiday! For all those who've been emailing, I'll try get back to you, but otherwise, see you in August!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Pauline Mission

In doing research on Mission in 1 Peter, I found parts of John Dickson's Ph D Thesis, which are very thought provoking, check it out...

Mission-Commitment in Ancient Judaism and in the Pauline Communities:
The shape, extent and background of early Christian mission.
The extent to which Jewish and Christian communities of the first century evidenced ‘proselytising’ tendencies has been hotly contested in recent research, with scholars tending either to deny outright or affirm emphatically the presence of ‘mission’ in the synagogue or the church. In a wide-ranging historical and philological examination of Second Temple Jewish literature and the epistles of Paul, Dr. Dickson offers a carefully nuanced picture of the shape and extent of mission-commitment in Judaism and early Christianity.
Click here to read: Table of Contents (pdf) Introduction (pdf) Chapter 1 Winning the Gentiles (pdf) Chapter 3 Heralds and partners (pdf)
Review 1 (pdf) in the Journal for the Study of the New Testament. Review 2 (pdf) in the Toronto Journal of Theology. Click here to go to the publisher

Mission in 1 Peter

Anyone got any clues as to articles, books or resources to consult for the theme of "MISSION" in 1 Peter? Torrey Seland will publish on this, at some point - but until then, any ideas?
There's definitely something to this theme in 1 Peter, and I'm hoping to explore this further this week... Willy let you know what I find...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

God is no Spectator!

1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

God is not a spectator, but a fellow-sufferer, who has himself absorbed the full force of evil. In the lonely figure hanging in the darkness and dereliction of Calvary the Christian believes that he sees God opening his arms to embrace the bitterness of the strange world he has made. The God revealed in the vulnerability of the incarnation and in the vulnerability of creation are one. He is the crucified God, whose paradoxical power is perfected in weakness, whose self-chosen symbol is the King reigning from the gallows.

Polkinghorne, Science and Providence, pg. 68

Compare this with yesterday's quote and one has a very interesting view of the atonement...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Beyond Retribution

1 Peter 2:23 When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the One who judges justly.

Restorative justice cannot manufacture repentance and forgiveness. But by placing a concern for the healing of hurts, the renewal of relationships, and the re-creation of community at the heart of its agenda, it makes room for the miracle of forgiveness to occur and for a new future to dawn. Nothing could be more compatible with the message of the New Testament than this. For without diminishing the reality of evil, without denying the culpability of those who commit crime or minimizing the pain of those who suffer at their hands, and without dispensing with punishment as a mechanism for constraining evil and promoting change, the New Testament looks beyond retribution to a vision of justice that is finally satisfied only by the defeat of evil and the healing of its victims, by the repentance of sinners and the forgiveness of their sins, by the restoration of peace and the renewal of hope – a justice that manifests God’s redemptive work of making all things new.
Chris Marshall, Beyond Retribution: A New Testament Vision for Justice, Crime, and Punishment (Eerdmans, 2001) pg. 284

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Atonement and 1 Peter

Chris Tilling offers a beautiful quote from M. M. Thompson's THNT commentary on Colossians and Philemon, about what the cross accomplishes. He then notes that his "inner jury is still out on the whole 'penal' issue. If you were to recommend any book on the penal substitution issue, what would it be?"
Well, the best book on the whole issue of the "atonement" that I've ever read is: The Nature of the Atonement (IVP, 2006), which is a "Four Views" book, so it has contributions by Greg Boyd (Christus Victor), Joel Green (Mixed Models), Bruce Reichenback (Healing) and Tom Schreiner (Penal Substitution).
Joel Green's offering has the following quote on 1 Peter, which is worth pondering:
Jesus' suffering is exemplary, providing a model for his followers of innocent suffering (1 Pet 2:19-20; 3:16-17; 4:1-2, 13-16); redemptive, providing a model for his followers of effective suffering (1 Pet 2:12, 15; 3:1-2); and anticipatory, providing a model for his followers of how God will vindicate the righteous who suffer (1 Pet 2:20; 4:13-14; 5:1, 10). This means that although it is true that Peter draws heavily on Israel's Scriptures, it is equally true that the biblical story is now fundamentally branded by the crucifixion of Jesus. Jesus' execution functions for Peter as the conceptual scheme by which life is lived and the world is made to make sense. The cross of Christ provides a way of comprehending life, orients a community around its identifying beliefs and values, and guides the actions of those whose lives carry its brand. [pg. 183]
If one has to categorize 1 Peter's model of the atonement, it is surely Christus Victor, as 1 Pet 3:18-22 demonstrates. Jesus, though seemingly defeated at the cross, is vindicated into new life by the Spirit of God. This victory is then triumphantly announced to the demonic underworld, which signals their imminent demise. [For an interesting proposal of "how" the Spirit announces this victory see here].
On the whole "penal substitution" view, I still have one dangerous question: Show me a single verse that teaches the idea that God poured out his wrath on Jesus at the cross. This is my only objection to this view. It lacks biblical support. It sounds good, and theologically a good argument can be made for it, but where is the biblical support?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Exploring 1 Peter 3:18-22

This section of Peter is arguably the hardest. There are several interpretive options at the level of grammar, vocab and background influence. But my concern will not be to solve all those obscure details, Achtemeier has shown which option is most plausible, and I would like to build on that proposal here. But before I do, let me summarise my position:
Firstly, I contend that 3:18b should be understood as "He was put to death by the flesh, and brought to life by the Spirit". Thus, humanity was the agent of Jesus' death, but the Spirit was the agent that brought Jesus back to life. Furthermore, it appears that this forms a [temporal?] sequence which then leads onto verse 19.
That means that verse 19 cannot be understood as a reference to a decent into hell, since Jesus has already been raised, as noted in verse 18. So what does verse 19 mean? The Greek states ἐν ᾧ καὶ τοῖς ἐν φυλακῇ πνεύμασιν πορευθεὶς ἐκήρυξεν, which I have translated as "by the Spirit Jesus also ascended and made a proclamation to the demons in prison." It appears to me, and please correct me if you think my understanding has gone astray, that the Spirit is the agent that declares the victory of the resurrection. What was declared to the "spirits" which I take to mean "demonic forces" was that Jesus has been raised from the dead.
But the more interesting thing here, and admittedly this is conjecture, is exactly how does the Spirit make this proclamation? I would like to propose the following. 1 Pet 1:12, notes that “…in regard to the things that have now been announced to you through those who brought you good news by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven…” Does Peter understand the announcement of vs. 19 to be done through the Spirit by means of the Christian community? Thus, the community of followers is understood as the couriers of the message of Jesus' victory over the enemy.
Admittedly, this is a conjecture. But if Peter has set up an understanding that the Spirit is the agent from heaven that announces the victory of Jesus through Christians, then perhaps he is being consistent in his understanding and we should understand this verse to entail that the announcement of Jesus' victory of death, and the demonic forces that played a role in his execution, is communicated through these believers amidst their situation and circumstances. They are to continue a full frontal declaration, despite their suffering/persecution, of Jesus' victory as the Messiah and Lord.
Any thoughts or responses? Have I missed the point completely, or is there something here?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Dr Barth and Dr Seuss

There's some amazing stuff going on around the web, and I'd love to chat about all that I've been up to here, but time doesn't permit such joys just yet. So here's a poem to cheer you up!
For those who are familiar with Barth's major themes, this is really done well.
HT: Ben Myers.