Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
If one imagines the community reading Paul’s words as a group of artisans linked by common vocation and workspace, is one able to understand this text more clearly? I believe so. The passages related to work, to community living, to physical labour have much more meaning when the community is visualised as a working community of manual labourers… The social world of artisans creates a new backdrop for understanding these letters. As I read Paul’s words, I see a community of skilled artisans who have gathered in their workroom to hear his letters read. They pause from their task, wipe the dust from their hands, and listen to their artisan-colleague, Paul, who in earlier days shared their same tools and workspace. In that context of dust and death, craft and faith, the members of the community learn how to live more closely in relationship to God and to one another.
See McKinnish Bridges, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 8, 10.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
It says something terrible about the state of the discipline [contemporary theology] that it is utterly objective and scholarly, that one can be successful without ever having to pray, meditate upon Scripture, participate in the life of the church, serve the poor, counsel the downtrodden or just repent of one’s selfishness and become more loving. It is a blight against contemporary theology that the mark of success has to do with argumentation or even conformance to some tradition, intellectual or confessional, not holiness. That one can be considered a knowledgeable theologian without ever really having to be affected by the knowledge they have is at the very least curious for a discipline concerned with knowledge of the ultimate ontologically reality, God... Knowing God entails personal change, for one cannot truly know God without coming into active, transformative relationship to him. Theologians thus do not know various doctrines, even if they can argue compellingly for them, if their selves are not conformed, not taught by the content. Calvin thus recognized that theology is not only plagued by false gods or idolatry, but by false selves as well. For him, it is impossible to retain a false self and yet know God in truth. In this way, what makes for a successful theologian is not simply good intellectual traits, but, more fundamentally, virtue and piety. Theologians are those who do not simply pontificate and speculate about the truth for others, but above all those who have been personally taught by Truth, who have been grasped by the content of their task to the point of being conformed to it. True theologians do not fool themselves into thinking that theological problems are solved conceptually (in other words, enough babbling about the perils of capitalism and more getting on with providing relief to those who suffer from its oppression). True theologians don’t master their discipline, but are mastered by it, being moved not simply intellectually by thoughts, but personally by realities shorthanded by doctrines.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
In the end, Jesus Interrupted can be best summarized as a book filled with ironies. Ironic that it purports to be about unbiased history but rarely presents an opposing viewpoint; ironic that it claims to follow the scholarly consensus but breaks from it so often; ironic that it insists on the historical-critical method but then reads the gospels with a modernist, overly-literal hermeneutic; ironic that it claims no one view of early Christianity could be “right” (Walter Bauer) but then proceeds to tell us which view of early Christianity is “right;” ironic that it dismisses Papias with a wave of the hand but presents the Gospel of the Ebionites as if it were equal to the canonical four; and ironic that it declares everyone can “pick and choose” what is right for them, but then offers its own litany of moral absolutes. Such intellectual schizophrenia suggests there is more going on in Jesus Interrupted than meets the eye. Though veiled in the garb of scholarship, this book is religious at the core. Ehrman does not so much offer history as he does theology, not so much academics as he does his own ideology. The reader does not get a post-religious Ehrman as expected, but simply gets a new-religious Ehrman–an author who has traded in one religious system (Christianity) for another (postmodern agnosticism). Thus, Ehrman is not out to squash religion as so many might suppose. He is simply out to promote his own. He is preacher turned scholar turned preacher. And of all the ironies, perhaps that is the greatest.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Monday, November 09, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Friday, October 09, 2009
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Monday, October 05, 2009
Thursday, October 01, 2009
The point to be noted in the debate occasioned by the new perspective on Paul, is that what he objects to thus far is confidence in ethnic identity, confidence in the fact of belonging to Israel, the covenant people of God, confidence in having been circumcised and thus, even as an eight-day old, having been faithful to that covenant. In speaking of Jewish confidence before God he did not turn first to thoughts of self-achievement and merit-earning deeds. Rather, it was pride in ethnic identity, of the Israelite over against the other, of Jew over against Gentile, against which he registered his first protest in setting out to express afresh what the gospel of divine righteousness meant to him. The passage confirms that a central problem, which found its resolution in Paul’s understanding of how God’s righteousness worked, was Jewish confidence in their ethnic identity as Israel, the people of God, the people of the Torah, ‘the circumcision’. The implication is fairly obvious that such reliance on ethnic identity carried with it the corollary that Gentiles, ‘the uncircumcision’ as such, were debarred from the benefits of God’s covenant with Israel.It is clear that Paul undermines these boundary markers by appealing to the Spirit and Christ (3:3) as the new boundary marker of God’s people. But Paul is not denigrating his Jewish heritage. Rather, when compared to knowing the Messiah, he can look back upon his ethnic identity markers as utterly worthless in attaining the righteousness of God. Rather, according to 3:9, Christ’s faithfulness (taking πίστεως Χριστοῦ as a subjective genitive) to humanity has established the righteous relationship that Paul now experiences.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Dunn's seminal article that launched the NPP is available: The New Perspective on Paul - Dunn
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Men say that one ought to love best one's best friend, and man's best friend is one who wishes well to the object of his wish for his sake, even if no one is to know of it; and these attributes are found most of all in a man's attitude towards himself, and so are all the other attributes by which a friend is defined; for, as we have said, it is from this relation that all the characteristics of friendship have extended to our neighbours. All the proverbs, too, agree with this, e.g. 'a single soul', and 'what friends have is common property', and 'friendship is equality', and 'charity begins at home'; for all these marks will be found most in a man's relation to himself; he is his own best friend and therefore ought to love himself best. It is therefore a reasonable question, which of the two views we should follow; for both are plausible.Plutarch, De Amicorum Multitudine 96F
[I]n our friendship's consonance and harmony there must be no element unlike, uneven, or unequal, but all must be alike to engender agreement in words, counsels, opinions, and feelings, and it must be as if one soul were apportioned among two or more bodies.Euripides, Electra 1045
My dearest, you who have a name that sounds most loved and sweet to your sister, partner in one soul with her!A helpful discussion of friendship in antiquity, from a biblical scholar, comes to us from Luke Timothy Johnson.
This illuminates the genre of Philippians as a "Friendship" letter (Fee, Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, 2-7 and deSilva, An Introduction to the New Testament, 653). It also suggests that the theme of unity in Philippians (O’Brien, Philippians, 38) is a central concern. I would also suggest that the element of κοινωνίᾳ (partenership/fellowship), is central in Philippians. I'm struggling to find an adequate translation for μιᾷ ψυχῇ as one soul doesn't capture the concept in contemporary usage. One life is not much better. If anyone has ideas, let me know... Back to the drawing board... conceptually that is.
In the Greek world, friendship was among the most discussed, analysed and highly esteemed relationships. Epicurus included it among the highest goods available to humans. The Pythagoreans founded a way of life on its basis. For Plato, it was the ideal paradigm for the city-state. Even the more pragmatic Aristotle considered friendship the prime metaphor and motive for society. The word “friendship” was not used lightly in these circles, nor was friendship considered simply a casual affection. On the contrary, it was regarded as a particularly intense and inclusive kind of intimacy, not only at the physical level, but above all, at the spiritual…
To be “one soul” with another meant, at the least, to share the same attitudes and values and perceptions, to see things the same way. Indeed, the friend was, in another phrase frequently repeated, “another self.”
L. T. Johnson, Brother of Jesus, Friend of God: Studies in the Letter of James (Michigan: Eerdmans, 2004), 213-4.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
ἥτις ἐστὶν αὐτοῖς ἔνδειξις ἀπωλείας, ὑμῶν δὲ σωτηρίας
For them this is a sign of destruction, but for you salvation
The majority of the recent commentators and recent English translations take it that Paul is claiming here that the Philippians’ steadfast faith in the face of opposition is a concrete manifestation to their opponents of the opponents’ destruction.
For although your loyalty to the faith is proof to them that you will perish, it is in fact proof to you that you will be saved – saved by God.
In 1:28 Paul is displaying two competing conceptions of the result of the Philippians’ adhering to their faith in the ways Paul admonishes. To the opponents, it is wilful flaunting of Roman authority and anticipates the Christians’ imminent destruction. In reality, it marks the salvation of the Christians. On this account, debates about whether the destruction/salvation pairing here refers to the temporal or eternal realm simply miss the point. The opponents view the Philippians’ physical destruction as testimony to their eternal perdition. For Paul and the Philippians, their steadfastness demonstrates their salvation, whether they live or die. It is simply the way they magnify Christ in their bodies (cf. 1:20).
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Monday, September 07, 2009
Friday, September 04, 2009
Thursday, September 03, 2009
- Greg Carey deals with neglected passages of Scripture.
- Matt has a good interview with Larry Hurtado.
Now go and enjoy these!
Friday, August 28, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
First things first. Fowl's commentary is like a breath of fresh air for those wanting more than just careful historical and exegetical analysis. His interpretation of φρονεω, as a common pattern of thinking, feeling and acting, is accurate and instructive. However, Fowl has problems with the notion of authorial intent, and in his essay for Between Two Horizons, "The Role of Authorial Intention in Theological Interpretation" he advances his position on this matter. As one may guess, I cannot understand this position. Perhaps it is to complex for me, but having read Umberto Eco's The Limits of Interpretation and Kevin Vanhoozer's Is There a Meaning in this Text?, I am persuaded that any death or denial of authorial intent undermines the meaning of a text. More specifically, the context of Fowl's quote above intrigues me. The discussion revolves around Phil 2:5-11. Fowl advances a plausible reading that suggests the "form of God" should be taken as a reference to God's glory. He does some good historical analysis, and then forsakes it in his theological construction. Now, if the creeds and confessions are scripturally disciplined, what does that mean? That we have read the scriptures and understood their intention, and formulated what we believe based on them? That seems most likely. However, were we to deny authorial intent, we could come up with any creed and just forsake what Paul says. When we claim that what Paul meant (or any author for that matter), is irrelevant, we sink into the despair of relativism. And that just won't do. Fowl himself constantly appeals to what Paul meant, and intends throughout his excellent commentary. But here, retreating into Philosophical particularities, loses the plot when he suggests that it doesn't matter if Paul himself thought this way or not. Reader-response criticism, despite Fowl's, and Wall's claims to the contrary, have no "controls" that are valid if one denies authorial intent as the governing dynamic. For a better proposal, one need look no further than Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament, which outlines a suitable hermeneutic which allows for careful theological reflection within the bounds of good exegetical work. Of course theology (especially systematics) will always want to go further, but it cannot go against what the authors of Scripture said. Nor can it claim much validity once the voice of Scripture's teaching is silenced. As Hays sees it, there are four steps: (1) The Exegetical Task, Reading the Text Carefully; (2) The Synthetic Task, Placing the Text in Canonical Context; (3) The Hermeneutical Task, Relating the Text to Our Situation; and (4) The Pragmatic Task, Living the Text. It is therefore utterly relevant whether or not a particular Scriptural author thought in particular categories. Since failing to attend to those categories, could entail in a misunderstanding and misapplication of their teaching. I find myself increasingly sceptical of theological claims that are far removed from the categories of Scripture. They may have good ideas, but is it good theology?
To claim, as many biblical scholars do, that Paul never would have thought in such metaphysical terms is not in itself theologically relevant. Later creeds and confessions are best understood as scripturally disciplined ways of coherently ordering claims, inferences, and implications of scriptural language about God, the world, and God's purposes for the world. Scripture by its very diversity requires such an ordering. The question is not whether Paul thought this way himself. Rather, the question is whether one uses historical-critical, sociological, philosophical, or christian theological categories for order that diversity.
Fowl, Philippians, pg. 95-96.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Friday, August 07, 2009
This saying embodies the activities of Jesus perfectly - and thus it is a call to disciples to be perfect, as their Father in Heaven is perfect (vs. 48). Anyone who thinks being a follower is easy, has obviously not understood what Jesus requires!
Jesus quotes Lev 19:18 not to contradict it but to enlarge it. The Pentateuch, like subsequent Jewish tradition, understands “neighbour” to be Israelite (see Lev 19:17), and this reading allows one to confine love to one’s own kind, or even to define neighbour in opposition to enemy. Jesus, however, gives “neighbour” its broadest definition. If one loves even one’s enemies, who will not be loved? One is inevitably reminded of the story of the Good Samaritan, who is good to an Israelite, his enemy (Luke 10:29-37). Love must prove itself outside the comfortable world of family, friends and associates.
Allison, The Sermon on the Mount, pg. 100
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
Monday, August 03, 2009
But is it more than this? I am continually intrigued by Terrence Donaldson's excellent book: Jesus on the Mountain: A Study in Matthean Theology. Donaldson argues that
It is clear, against such a Christian misreading, that the contrast of "old and new" concerns the Israelite community of covenant in both its parts. The "old" covenant belongs to that Israelite community which through its sustained disobedience forfeited covenant with God, even as it lost the city of Jerusalem. The "new" covenant now wrought by God also concerns the Israelite community. This is the community formed anew by God among exiles who are now transformed into a community of glad obedience. Thus we are right to posit a deept discontinuity between old and new, but that deep discontinuity is not between Jews and Christians, but between recalcitrant Jews prior to 587 and transformed Jews after 587 who embrace the covenant newly offered by God.
[Brueggemann, A Commentary on Jeremiah: Exile and Homecoming, pg. 292]
Now the reason this intrigues me, is because I'm currently looking at the six antitheses of Matt 5:21-48. The solutions on offer at the moment suggest either that Jesus is intensifying the demands of the Torah, or that he is revising the demands of the Torah. Given the backdrop just noted, this changes everything. Jesus could be noting that the Torah applied to the people of old, the people under the leadership and direction of Moses and the teachings he gave. But given that this is a new messianic age, Jesus is giving a new set of teachings that draw from and emerge from the teachings of Torah, but go further and redirect some of it’s emphases and teachings. One could then go further and suggest that given the New Exodus theme (Wright, JVG et. al.), that Jesus envisioned his teachings replacing the demands of the old covenant, because they had been delivered from their former bondage of exile, and this was now the beginning of God's reign through the teachings of Jesus, and the Spirit, no matter where they found themselves (Matt 28:16-20). Of course this requires much annotation and justification from the sources, but I'm a BIG picture thinker, and so I'm just thinking out loud here. Thoughts?
one of the central features of Zion eschatology in the OT and throughout the Second-Temple period was the expectation of a great gathering of Israel to the holy mountain of Yahweh where they would be constituded afresh as the people of God. The gathering of the scattered flock to the holy mountain was to be the first act in the eschatological drama... In addition, one can also point to the fact that in Jewish expectation one aspect of the consummation on Mount Zion was to be a new giving of the Torah... in contemporary eschatological thought it was expected that the Messiah would bring about renewed obedience to the Torah, that he would interpret it more clearly and that he would even bring a new Torah.
[Terrence Donaldson, Jesus on the Mountain, pg. 116. See further Davies, The Setting of the Sermon on the Mount, pg. 155-156]
Thursday, July 30, 2009
The widely accepted view that the whole early church believed in an imminent advent of Christ is based on a superficial reading of the evidence. The advent was imminent only in the sense that it might happen at any time, not because it must happen within a given period. The decisive act of God had already happened in the death and resurrection of Christ, and from then on men must live their lives under the shadow of the end. But the end would come when God’s purposes were complete, and this was something only he could decide (Mark 13:32; Acts 1:7). Caird, Paul’s Letters from Prison, pg. 107
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
- David deSilva's An Introduction to the New Testament will be the class text, but we'll also be making plenty of use of Cohick, Burge and Green's The New Testament in Antiquity. The reason I chose deSilva is simply because it's so comprehensive. [I may teach hermeneutics next semester and I'll use this text with Michael Gorman's Element's of Biblical Exegesis] deSilva is the best introduction I own, and I've worked through at least 10 of them in preparing this course. The New Testament in Antiquity is very good, colourful, and informative, but deSilva just has more! Plus, I teach in a seminary and we're just as interested in academic study as we are in character and Spiritual formation, and deSilva's material is good.
- I have an overview lecture on the historical Jesus, focussing more his aims and intentions (following Ben Meyer and N. T. Wright) and his message of the reign of YHWH. I've set as an optional reflection an article on the Third Quest, and a compulsory reflection on Wright's chapter "The Mission and Message of Jesus" in The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions.
- I've tried to include a discussion of either a Jewish or Roman source in every lecture. So, when I deal with 1 Thessalonians, I'll be picking up on the imperial background, when I deal with Galatians, I'll be dealing with covenantal nomism, and so forth. I've found a great resource on coins of the ancient world. I'll also be using The New Testament in Antiquity as a resouce for background information, as well as giving them a list of anthologies dealing with primary sources. They also have to reflect on chapters 2 & 3 of deSilva which cover this terrain well.
- As noted above, we'll be using deSilva as the text, but also Cohick, Burge and Green. I've also put together a file of articles that they can reflect on or just read for themselves, as well as a small bibliography of helpful commentaries, books and articles on each gospel/epistle/apocalypse.
- I've chosen to deal with Paul letter by letter, but grouping them together and emphasizing a particular theme from each letter. So the obvious one is Romans & Galatians, where I'll be dealing with the New Perspective, and 1 & 2 Thessalonians where I'll be dealing with eschatology.
The outline will be a) Introduction & Setting; b) Jesus: Mission and Message; c) Matt & Mark; d) Luke & Acts; e) 1 & 2 Thessalonians; f) 1 & 2 Corinthians; g) Romans & Galatians; h) Philippians & Philemon; i) Colossians & Ephesians; j) Pastoral Epistles; k) 1 & 2 Peter plus Jude; l) Hebrews and James; m) Gospel of John; n) Epistles of John; o) Apocalypse of John. We may also have a guest lecture on Hebrews by our First Testament lecturer. If that happens, I'll shift Jude with James and do a lecture on the "The Wisdom of the Brothers."
I have three hours to teach each class, with a 25min break of course. The hardest lecture to write was on Jesus. There is SO MUCH to include, but in the end it's just a sketch. One is tempted to overwhelm students, but that's not going to help them. Perhaps another time will afford me the opportunity to explore the historical Jesus in depth!Anything else you want to know?
Thursday, July 16, 2009
- C. K. Barrett, The New Testament Background: Selected Documents
- M. Harding, Early Christian Life and Thought in Social Context
- L. H. Feldman & M. Reinhold, Jewish Life and Thought Among Greeks and Romans
- V. M. Warrior, Roman Religion: A Sourcebook
- J. Shelton, As the Romans Did: A Sourcebook in Roman Social History
- B. D. Ehrman, Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make it into the New Testament
- M. Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers
- B. Davenport, The Portable Roman Reader
These books have been utterly helpful with introducing me to the wide variety of literature that make up the world of the 1st Century (pertaining to the study of early Christianity). Many of them have valuable introductions, and background information which show how the source is to be understood. Many of these also provide helpful bibliographies for further research, which is excellent. Some of these are also very helpful in that they arrange them thematically, which can be excessively helpful for those doing research on particular topics.
Go and enjoy some primary sources!
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
It would be interesting to see what specific quotes or sections of primary sources people have found most helpful. Also, are there specific inscriptions or archaeological finds that noteworthy? My own research last week discovered this oath on allegiance to the emperor:
This is the oath taken by the inhabitants of Paphlagonia and the Romans who do business among them. ‘I swear by Zeus, Earth, Sun, all the gods and goddesses and Augustus himself that I will be favourably disposed to [Cae]sar Augustus and his children and descendants all the time of my [life] in word and deed and thought… Whatever I may see or hear being said or plotted or done against them, I will report it and I will be the enemy of the person who says or plots or does these things . . . If I do anything contrary to this [oath] . . . I pray that there may come on me, my body and soul and life, destruction, total destruction until the end of all my line and of all my descendants…’ In these same words this oath was sworn by all the [inhabitants of the land] in the temples of Augustus throughout the local districts [of Paphlagonia] by the altars [of Augustus].
R. K. Sherk, The Roman Empire: Augustus to Hadrian (1988). Another version of this same oath is offered below:
What an extraordinary text describing the allegiance of some to the emperor!
Imperator Caes[ar,] son of the god, Augustus the twelfth consulship, third year (of the province, 3 BC), on the day before the Nones of March in Gangra in [camp(?)], the oath completed by the inhabitants of [Pa]phlagonia [and the] R[omans] who do business among them; I swear by Zeus, Earth, Sun all the gods [and] goddesses, and Augus[t]us himself that I will be favourably disposed toward [Cae]sar Augustus and his children and descendants all the time of my [life] in word and deed and thought, considering as friends those whom they may consider (friends) and holding as enemies those whom they may judge to be (enemies), and for things that are of interest to them I will spare neither my body [nor] my soul nor my life nor my children, but in every way for the things that affect them I will undergo every danger; and whatever I might perceive or hear against them being said or plotted or done, I will report it and I will be an enemy to the person saying or plotting or doing [any of] these things; and whomever they may judge to be their enemies, these, on land and sea, with arms and steel will I pursue and ward off. If I do anything contrary to this [oath] or anything not in agreement with what I have sworn, I pray that there may come upon myself, my body and soul and life, my children and all my family and whatever is of use to us, destruction, total destruction till the end of all my line [and] of all my descendants, and may neither the [bodies] of my family or of my descendants by earth or [sea] be received, nor may (earth or sea) bear fruit [for them.] In the same words was this oath sworn by all the [inhabitants of the land] in the temples of Augustus throughout the districts (of the province) by the altars [of Augustus.] And likewise the Phazimonians living in what is [now] called [Neapo]lis [swore the oath,] all of them, in the temple of Augustus by the [altar of] Augustus. [*]
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I recognise that there are possible problems with the construction (See the criticism of Luz, Matthew 1-7, pg. 191 n. 59), but it does appear to make more sense than the usual interpretation, which ignores τῷ πνεύματι.
France, The Gospel of Matthew, pg. 165 sees this as a "poverty in spirit" but in a positive spiritual orientation, the converse of the arrognat self-confidence which not only rides roughshod over the interest of other people but more importantly causes a person to treat God as irrelevant. This is closer to my understanding, but again, it forces πνεύματι to refer to the human spirit which is impoverished or lacking, when Matthew's usage suggests a reference to the Divine Spirit.
Thoughts? Have I missed something?
Thursday, June 18, 2009
YHWH your God himself will cross over before you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua also will cross over before you, as YHWH promised… Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is YHWH your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you (Dt. 31:3-6).
Friday, June 12, 2009
I can't help but think that the world, including the church, should be helped by such scholarship with a pastoral and apostolic concern. Of course there will always be quibbles. I'm not sure about the supposed interpolations in Romans 16:17-20a and the concluding doxology in 16:25-27. [[I accept that these could undermine Jewett's case somewhat.]] But his work on Shame, unity, and the missionary purpose of Romans is, to this student, undeniable in its accuracy. His structuring of the argument employing the rhetorical features provided by Quintilius is helpful in unpacking Paul's argument. My five top reads on Romans:
If Paul's grandiose argument were better understood, it might still provide a basis for achieving its original vision: to bring "all the peoples" (Rom 15:11) to praise the One whose gospel can still restore our eroded and fractured world to its intended righteousness.
Robert Jewett, "Following the Argument of Romans," in Word & World Volume VI, Number 4, pg. 389
- Paul Achtemeier, Romans (WJK)
- N. T. Wright, “Romans,” in NIB (Abingdon)
- R. Jewett, Romans (Fortress)
- J. D. G. Dunn, Romans 1-8, 9-16 (Nelson)
- C. E. B. Cranfield, Romans 1-8, 9-16 (T & T Clark)
Romans is like a black hole. You could spend the rest of your life just studying this letter. Oh well, back to 1 Peter. :)
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
- What does our text add to our understanding of the mission of God?
- What counsel does our text give to those involved/situated in the mission of God?
- How does our text understand/construct the identity of God’s missionary people?
- How does our text help or equip those engaged in the mission?