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Daily Archives: 7 Aug 2018

Approaching the Study of Theology: An Introduction to Key Thinkers, Concepts, Methods & Debates

Back in April I received a prepublication edition of this book. I’m reposting the review now after having received the published version which has just arrived. Sections marked UPDATE are new material for the present posting:

From the opening pages of the Bible, we learn of God as one who communicates with humankind—offering us first steps toward knowledge of the divine, the very foothold of theology. On this basis, Approaching the Study of Theology presents an engaging introduction to the breadth and depth of the study of theology, mapping the significant landmarks as well as the main areas of debate.

The book is divded into three parts:

Part I (Approaches) describes the major approaches to theology that have emerged and developed over time.

Part II (Concepts and Issues) explains the major concepts and issues, identifying theologians associated with each.

Part III (Key Terms) provides a helpful glossary of all the key terms that readers need to understand in order to better understand theology.

IVP have sent along a prepublication draft of this new work by Professor Thiselton.  In my review please note that no page numbers will be included because the draft manuscript includes none.

The work consists of an overview of theological trends in the introduction.  This overview discusses the biblical roots of theology and a description of  the major periods of theological development. Part One is very much akin to a ‘bible dictionary’ which lists, in alphabetical sequence, methodological approaches to theology including biblical theology, hermeneutical theology, political theology, and systematic theology among others.  Part Two adopts the same alphabetical sequencing but it’s concern is ‘Concepts and Issues’ like Atonement, Authority of the Bible, Justification, Resurrection of the Dead, etc.  These discussions, like those of part one, tend to be full and ‘encyclopedic’.  Indeed, part two is the bulk of the volume.  The third part of the volume, Key Terms, is simply a glossary.

The presentation is, necessarily, very general.  That is, each concept, term, method, etc. is described in quite sweeping terms.  The work aims to introduce, and merely introduce, the basics of theological enquiry.  The details are relatively accurate overall but sometimes they are incredibly inaccurate.

One glaring problem is what Thiselton writes about the Marburg conference:

In 1529 it became clear that there were disagreements among the Reformers on the nature of the Lord’s Supper.  Deeply concerned for Reformation unity, Luther sought a friendly conference with Zwingli, Melanchthon, and Bullinger (sic !)at Marburg. He did his best to achieve a united witness but Zwingli and others held firm in their beliefs…

The problems here are multiple: Luther didn’t seek any conference, friendly or otherwise, with Zwingli.  He was essentially forced into meeting with Zwingli and the others by Prince Philip.  He never wanted to participate and told friends on numerous occasions that the whole thing would be a waste of time.  He even wrote the Margrave thusly

I am indeed absolutely convinced that Your Sovereign Grace is completely sincere and has the best of intentions. For this reason I, too, am ready and willing to render my services in this, Your Sovereign Grace’s Christian undertaking, though I fear [my services] may be futile and perhaps dangerous for us. (Luther’s Works, Vol. 49: 230.)

Luther wasn’t interested in the meeting and thought it was a bad idea.

Further, Bullinger wasn’t there (see below).  And it wasn’t Luther who wanted to achieve a united witness but, again, the Prince and neither was it the others who were most intransigent- it was Luther.  In sum, then, the portrait of Luther here is totally wrong.  Thiselton simply misstates nearly every fact.

UPDATE:  the published version corrects the Bullinger error and replaces it with Bucer, rightly.  But the rest of the paragraph remains problematic.

As mentioned just above, the draft contains one particular error that I have reported to the publisher in hopes that there is still time before printing to correct it: Thiselton remarks, wrongly, that the conference in Marburg included Zwingli, Luther, and Bullinger (!).   Bullinger will be quite surprised to learn that.  Having offered a correction I’m happy to say that, thankfully, the editor has indeed agreed that this is an error (in consultation with the author) and have asserted that it will be corrected before the printing is completed.

The rest of the volume is not free of such egregious mistakes either, though.  For instance, in his treatment in part 3 of terms, Thiselton writes

The Greek words daimon and daimonion occur over 1200 times each and the verb daimonizomai over 1200 times in the Synoptic Gospels.

This is simply untrue.  ‘daimon’ doesn’t occur at all.  δαιμόνιον occurs only 15 times. δαιμονίου occurs 4 times.  And the verbal form δαιμονίζεται occurs but once.  In fact, δαιμον* in all its various forms only occurs 78 times in the entire New Testament.

UPDATE: The published edition retains these errors.  Regrettably.  Consequently, what I wrote concerning the pre-publication draft is still true of the published version:

Thiselton has written a volume that contains much that is useful.  But readers should fact-check his assertions via other resources.  He isn’t always accurate.

 
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Posted by on 7 Aug 2018 in Book Review, Books, Theology

 

Quote of the Day

“I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations” (Rom 6:19). Other teachers use illustrations because it’s fun and engaging. St Paul does it because he’s so displeased with you.  –  Ben Myers

10 minutes in ministry and you’d be displeased with people too…

 
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Posted by on 7 Aug 2018 in Modern Culture

 
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These Fake Christians Are a Curse and a Cancer

 
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Posted by on 7 Aug 2018 in Modern Culture

 

We Need to Get a DNA Test

Because this might be my dad.

 
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Posted by on 7 Aug 2018 in Modern Culture

 

My Present Mood Is…

 
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Posted by on 7 Aug 2018 in Modern Culture

 

Quote of the Day

O death, how bitter it is to remember you for someone peacefully living with his possessions, for someone with no worries and everything going well and who can still enjoy his food! O death, your sentence is welcome to one in want, whose strength is failing, to one worn out with age and a thousand worries, resentful and impatient! Do not dread death’s sentence; remember those who came before you and those who will come after.  This is the sentence passed on all living creatures by the Lord, so why object to what seems good to the Most High? Whether your life lasts ten or a hundred or a thousand years, its length will not be held against you in Sheol. (Sir. 41:1-4)

 
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Posted by on 7 Aug 2018 in Bible

 

Black Women’ Equal Pay Day

This appalls me.  It is wrong, evil, and totally unacceptable.  Employers must do better.  They must.

August 7 is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, a date chosen to highlight the pay gap between black women and white men because a black woman, on average, would have to work 19 months — or roughly January of one year until August of the next — to make what a white man made in one calendar year.

Equal Pay Day for All is held in April, but it is important to distinguish the fact that black women make far less than women on the whole. Women earn 80 cents for every dollar that men make, but black women make 63 cents for every dollar white, non-Hispanic men make. This means that black women also make 38% less than white men and 21% less than white women, according to a study published by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. And the gap is only widening for women, both black and white.

Evil.  And it must change.

 
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Posted by on 7 Aug 2018 in Modern Culture

 

Conference Announcement: Work, pray, admire: New views on Calvinism and art

Visit Refo500’s website for more.

 
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Posted by on 7 Aug 2018 in Conferences

 

The Dead Sea Scrolls and German Scholarship: Thoughts of an Englishman Abroad

By George Brooke

This booklet is a fresh consideration of German-speaking scholarship on the Dead Sea Scrolls; it divides the scholarship into two phases corresponding with pre- and post 1989 Germany.

In the first phase the dominant place given to how the scrolls inform the context of Jesus is analyzed as one of several means through which the study of Judaism was revitalized in post-war Germany. Overall it is argued that the study of the Scrolls has been part of the broader German tradition of the study of antiquity, rather than simply a matter of Biblical Studies.

In addition the booklet stresses the many very fine German contributions to the provision of study resources, to the masterly techniques of manuscript reconstruction, to the analysis of the scrolls in relation to the New Testament and Early Judaism, and to the popularization of scholarship for a thirsty public. It concludes that German scholarship has had much that is distinctive in its study of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

 
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Posted by on 7 Aug 2018 in Books, Dead Sea Scrolls

 

38? He Looks 70

This is what drugs do to you-

 
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Posted by on 7 Aug 2018 in Modern Culture

 

Just a Reminder…

God loves you.  But Tertullian despises you.  Have a nice day.

 
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Posted by on 7 Aug 2018 in Modern Culture