The Best Bio of Brunner Yet Written

Anhand der Quellen, vor allem von Briefen, Tagebüchern und nicht publizierten Manuskripten, gibt Frank Jehle Einblick in Leben, Werk und Wirken Emil Brunners. Das theologische Werk des Schweizer Theologen steht im Zentrum dieser umfassenden Biographie: Mit «Der Mittler» hatte Brunner die erste ausgebaute Christologie der dialektischen Theologie vorgelegt. Seine Auseinandersetzung mit Karl Barth über die natürliche Theologie ist in die Theologiegeschichte eingegangen. Vor allem aber ragt Brunner als Ethiker hervor: «Das Gebot und die Ordnungen» von 1932 ist ein Meilenstein in der Geschichte der Sozialethik. Bestimmend war auch sein Einfluss auf die Weltkirchenkonferenz in Oxford 1937. Brunner wirkte mehrfach als Gastprofessor in den USA, nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg wagte er den Schritt nach Asien, u.a. nach Japan. – Erstmals dargestellt wird Brunners intensive Beziehung zu Leonhard Ragaz.Die hier vorliegende Biographie ist zugleich ein wichtiger Beitrag zur Theologiegeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts und zur Geschichte der Schweiz im und nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg.

Read it.  It is the perfect antidote for the Barthian misinformation about Brunner that too many gullible and silly people accept without question.

Johannes Mathesius (1504–1565) – Reception and Dissemination of the Wittenberg Reformation through Preaching and Exegesis

Johannes Mathesius (1504–1565), preacher and pastor in Joachims­thal, Bohemia, belongs to the reformers who were strongly influenced by Wittenberg. After all, he was personally acquainted with Luther and Melanchthon. His sermons, of which the sermons on Luther are best known, have been reprinted in numerous editions in the 19th century and have been instrumental in the dissemination of the Wittenberg theology. Many generations of pastors did find here homiletical models and a clear implementation of the Wittenberg theology in the everyday life of the congregation. Under his leadership the Bohemian mining centre Joachimsthal became a reformed model community. The present volume is a collection of lectures of two conferences in 2004 and 2014.

The Myth of Rebellious Angels: Studies in Second Temple Judaism and New Testament Texts

9780802873156This excellent book arrived about a month back and I’ve since read through it.  Here’s the publisher’s blurb:

The mythical story of fallen angels preserved in 1 Enoch and related literature was profoundly influential during the Second Temple period. In this volume renowned scholar Loren Stuckenbruck explores aspects of that influence and demonstrates how the myth was reused and adapted to address new religious and cultural contexts.

Stuckenbruck considers a variety of themes, including demonology, giants, exorcism, petitionary prayer, the birth and activity of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the conversion of Gentiles, “apocalyptic” and the understanding of time, and more. He also offers a theological framework for the myth of fallen angels through which to reconsider several New Testament texts—the Synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John, Acts, Paul’s letters, and the book of Revelation.

Stuckenbruck has long been one of my favorite experts on Second Temple Judaism because he is simultaneously informative and articulate.  The present volume is something of a summary of his thoughts on some of the most interesting aspects of Second Temple belief.  In 14 chapters he discusses everything from giants and Genesis 6 to the need for women to cover their heads for the benefit of the angels in 1 Corinthians to the Apocalypse of John and 1 Enoch.

The essays are arranged in canonical order.  That is,

  1. Origins of Evil in Jewish Apocalyptic Tradition.
  2. Giant Mythology and Demonology.
  3. The Lamech Narrative in the Genesis Apocryphon and 1 Enoch 106-107.
  4. Demonic Beings and the Dead Sea Scrolls.
  5. Early Enochic and Daniel Traditions in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
  6. The Book of Tobit and the Problem of ‘Magic’.
  7. To What Extent did Philo’s Treatment of Enoch and the Giants Presuppose Knowledge of Enochic and Other Sources Preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls?
  8. Conflicting Stories: the Spirit origin of Jesus’ Birth.
  9. The Human Being and Demonic Invasion.
  10. The Need for Protection From the Evil One and John’s Gospel.
  11. The ‘Cleansing’ of the Gentiles.
  12. Posturing ‘Apocalyptic’ in Pauline Theology.
  13. Why Should Women Cover their Heads Because of the Angels?
  14. The Apocalypse of John, I Enoch,, and the Question of Influence.

Stuckenbruck also provides an extensive bibliography and indices of passages, authors, and subjects.

The value of this volume is revealed and properly manifested in its broad scope and comprehensiveness.  Curious notions are examined and demons abound.  The stickier passages are approached fearlessly and competently so that persons interested in the origin of the giants or the reason women had to cover their heads in Corinth are provided sensible and cogent explanations.

The majority of the chapters have been published elsewhere while one appears here for the first time.  The notes are copious and the documentation (i.e., evidence for Stuckenbruck’s interpretations) exceedingly thorough, as one would expect of a scholar of his caliber.

This is a book for the curious by a scholar who understands that curiosity because he shares it.  And he has the background, training, and skills along with a profound familiarity with the primary sources that allow his expositions to capture the imagination at the same time that they convince the reader of their correctness.

This is a glorious example of biblical scholarship and it proves that detailed investigations of the highest quality needn’t be dry, boring, dusty, uninspiring, or lilting.  I hope one day to know as much about something as Stuckenbruck seems to know about second Temple Judaism.  To that end, I’m off to follow up several leads Loren suggested concerning those pesky headcoverings in Corinth.

My recommendation to you, dear reader, is that you read this book: not only because it will inform you, but rather because it will actually inspire you to better, deeper, more engaged scholarship.

Virtue Ethics, the Billy Graham Rule, and Mike Pence: A Response to Karen Swallow Prior

Spot on.

Reformed Book Reviews

In the past week there has beenmuchadoaboutMikePenceandthe “Billy Graham Rule.” The criticisms aimed at the Vice President for refusing to dine alone with a woman other than his wife have been all over the map; from accusations of “old-school sexism” to claiming that Pence’s refusal is “rape culture at work,” it’s been a rough go of things for Vice President Pence. The most recent article that I’ve seen is from Dr. Karen Swallow Prior, professor of English at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., and it is to that article that I wish to respond.

What sets Dr. Prior’s article apart from the others—apart from the fact that it is entirely lacking the hysterical tone found (in varying degrees) in the articles I’ve linked to above—is that hers addresses the issue from the standpoint of virtue ethics. In this Dr. Prior is to…

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This Woman Should Keep Silent in, and About, the Church

It’s not surprising that Voskamp has said something irretrievably nonsensical- it’s surprising that people ‘liked’ what she said.  She is a heretic.  Let me say that more clearly so her admirers are left with no illusions: Ann Voskamp is a new age crystal gazing Joel Osteen-esque heretic whose teachings are cancer to the body of Christ.  This woman should keep silent in, and about, the Church.

There.  You’ve been warned.  If you continue to hear her, your blood is on your own hands.

Evil

brunner3“The power of darkness today seems to have received a free night from God that it may crush to pieces what it wills so that the nations realize to what place one comes when he abolishes God.”  –  Emil Brunner

On Sex and Sexuality: Male and Female Created He Them

The finest treatment of the theological meaning of sex and sexuality, and the dreadful effects of the Fall on our perceptions of that reality can be found in Chapter 15 of Emil Brunner’s ‘Man in Revolt‘ (though a better translation of the German title would be ‘Man in Contradiction’).

In his chapter on the subject of what it means to be a sexual being, Brunner brilliantly demonstrates the significance of sexual longing and the estrangement which attends it.  You could do no better if you want to understand the topic from the point of view of Christian theology, I assure you, than to read it.