Category Archives: Book of the Week

An Interview with James R. Edwards- Author of ‘Between the Swastika and the Sickle: The Life, Execution, and Disappearance of Ernst Lohmeyer’

Q. Your book is a fantastic example of the biographical genre. What is it about biographies, in your estimation that are so engaging?

A. Yes, biographies have a special power! I think they are engaging because peoples’ lives are generally more interesting than are ideas alone. But for me personally there is something more. I almost never act on something, even if I believe it is true and right, unless I see someone else act on it. That’s the advantage and power of a biography—we see the virtue in action, and that changes lives.

Q. There are several instances in your book where you mention biographical details from your own life. What led you to make the decision to do this?

A. Very perceptive question. Ernst Lohmeyer was a German who died seventy-five years ago, and he spoke no English and never came to America. That separates him from an American reading audience big time. I nevertheless believe that his life is worthy of being remembered, and that his witness has special relevance for us today, even in America. I tried to share some of my own story, especially as it intersected with the quest to solve the mystery of his disappearance and death, to provide a bridge for readers into Lohmeyer’s story.

Q. Your autobiographical remarks are extremely interesting. Do you have plans to write an autobiography?

A. Well, I have not thought of my life as having autobiographical significance. I would have to think more about that.

Q. We have a connection with Professor Eduard Schweizer in common, who lectured in our New Testament Seminar at Southeastern Seminary. I found him amazingly engaging. He made a remark that has stayed with me all these years: American scholars are afraid, oftentimes, to offer original ideas. Instead they feel obliged to argue on the basis of what is already known. But this hardly moves scholarship forward, which is why cutting-edge Biblical scholarship is European. Would you agree with that sentiment?

A. Great to hear of your contact with Eduard Schweizer. He is indeed engaging—a first-class New Testament scholar and theologian, committed to the church, and genuinely interpersonal and affable. I have two responses about his comment that American scholars are afraid to offer original ideas, choosing rather to stay on more beaten academic paths. First, American scholars have certainly pioneered the social context of the Bible, and especially the New Testament, and this is a significant contribution (although much of this contribution has taken place since Schweizer wrote). But there is some truth to his comment. It must be remembered that Germans had a two-century head-start in Biblical studies over American scholars, so it is not surprising that Americans have been playing “catch-up” for much of the 20th century. But there is another and more serious reason why his comment is important. American scholars have not been trained as rigorously in ancient languages—Hebrew, Greek, Latin—as have German scholars. Even today in Germany, scholars in the humanities hand out Latin texts untranslated, assuming students’ proficiency in reading the original. When I studied in Zürich and later in Tübingen, students in both Old and New Testament courses would open their Biblia Hebraica or Nestle-Aland New Testament (and this was before Readers Editions that define infrequently occurring words at the bottom of the page!) and cite-read from the original Hebrew and Greek in class. It is rare to find comparable proficiency in ancient languages in American theology students, even in doctoral students. Weakness in ancient language proficiency keeps one a step removed from ancient texts, and that distance from original texts reduces the ability to be ground-breaking. The same distance almost inevitably increases one’s dependence on secondary literature, and preoccupation with secondary literature is more likely to be redundant than original.

Q. Schweizer wrote a series of commentaries on the Gospels. How would you rate his treatment of Mark compared to Lohmeyer’s?

A. Good question. Very briefly, Lohmeyer was more independent in his scholarship, insisting on seeing Gospels as “wholes” rather than dismembered into fragments as form and redaction critics saw them. Schweizer was a student of Bultmann, and he was influenced by Bultmann’s form criticism and historical skepticism. Some of Schweizer’s comments about the text can strike American students as dismissive. Nevertheless, Schweizer regularly makes comments that are both simple and brilliant, stimulating readers, and especially preachers and teachers, with marvelous insights into the text.

Q. Prof. Lohmeyer is known in America, I think, only among a generation of older New Testament specialists. What provoked you to seek to make him known to a far wider public?

A. Yes, Lohmeyer is known only to a shrinking circle of American New Testament scholars. I doubt my book will rekindle the reading of his books, at least in America—for with only two exceptions all Lohmeyer’s books remain in German—but I hope it will awaken an interest in the significance of his life and thought. Lohmeyer’s work, especially in the Gospels, has weathered far better than that of most of his contemporaries, including Bultmann. The reason for this is that Lohmeyer gave preference to original texts over secondary literature, and this gave his work freshness and insight that has endured. Another scholar of the era who did the same was Adolf Schlatter, and his works, too, continue today to be read with profit. Regarding the significance of Lohmeyer’s life, his personal integrity in resisting Nazism and Soviet communism, and paying for the latter with his life, makes him more than a great scholar. It makes him a modern martyr, in my mind, whose example and witness is increasingly relevant in the world today.

Q. Tell us about Lohmeyer’s marriage to his wife Melie.

A. Lohmeyer and Melie met, and they prospered in marriage, because of the strong meeting of their minds. They loved the medium of words in their relationship. They wrote literally thousands of letters to each other in the course of their lifetimes. They even wrote letters when they weren’t apart. They were almost like the two lobes, right and left, of one brain. This description of marriage is quite foreign today for those of us who think of marriage primarily in terms of emotions and feelings rather than thoughts and words. The challenge for us moderns is in cultivating marriages of substance and character; the challenge for Lohmeyer and Melie was not to allow their love to grow cold.

Q. As far as I know, there is only one German biography of Lohmeyer. What do you think is the reasons for this?

A. Yes, there has been only one major biography before mine. And there is a reason for this. When the Soviets arrested and executed Ernst Lohmeyer, they put a blackout on his name, his works, and his memory in communist East Germany. The Soviet Union did not fall until 1990, which means that the blackout on Ernst Lohmeyer lasted nearly a whole generation, from 1946-1990. In 1979 I mentioned Lohmeyer’s name in a public meeting in Greifswald, East Germany, the city where he was arrested and executed, and my doing so sparked something of a minor crisis. Lohmeyer was executed as “enemy of the state,” and anyone who tried to find out about him became an “enemy of the state” as well. That quashed the possibility of a genuine biography until the 1990. By then people may have thought that it would be impossible to resuscitate him from such long obscurity.

Q. I couldn’t help but think of contemporary issues as I read through your narrative. The rise of nationalism, xenophobia, hate speech, etc. all have very current parallels. Do you see parallels between German in the 1930s and America today?

A. Yes, unfortunately. The world we have known is changing greatly. Think of it: the EU and NATO that have brought seventy-years of peace and prosperity to Europe never seen before are being dismantled in favor of nationalism and isolation. We see an upsurge of fear of immigrants, promotion of self over the common good, rise of meanness and malice, loss of charity and compassion, sacrifice of personal virtue for the goals of wealth and power, and the favoring of autocracy over democracy. When I went to Germany in the fall of 2016 to write my biography of Lohmeyer, I thought I was producing a work of history. But as I pondered the above changes it stuck me that Lohmeyer’s story was not just historical. It is prophetic!

Q. Lohmeyer suffered horrible mistreatment by both Nazis and communists. Why do you think the Russians, especially, were bent on destroying him?

A. Totalitarianisms are cruel, and both Nazism and Soviet communism vented their cruelty on Lohmeyer. Totalitarianism depends on one thing above all else: fear. If tyrants can make people fear them, they can control them. Most people are vulnerable to fear, and that contributes to the success of totalitarianisms. Lohmeyer was also vulnerable to fear, of course, but he chose not to succumb to fear, and hence he was unable to be controlled by communist threats. He was a person of moral conviction and courage, intellectual independence, and indomitable faith. When the Soviets saw that he was unintimidated by their terror and might, they had no choice but to arrest him on false charges, convict him on false charges, and execute him. He lived a hard life. But it is important to remember the most important thing about his life: the future always lies with virtue, not with vice. Virtue empowers life; vice warps life. Today, there are streets and squares in Germany named for those resisted Nazi and communist oppressions, streets named for Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Sophie and Hans Scholl, Martin Niemoeller, and yes, Ernst Lohmeyer. There are no streets named for Adolf Hitler or Heinrich Himmler. People won’t even name their dogs Adolf.

Q. What are you currently working on?

A. I am currently writing a book on how the Jesus movement in the Gospels became what we know as the Christian church. It’s entitled, From Christ to Christianity. How the Jesus Movement Became the Christian Church in One Lifetime (Baker). When we read the Gospels, we see a Jesus movement that was Palestinian, rural, Jewish, Hebrew- and Aramaic-speaking, associated with synagogues, worshipped on sabbath, staffed with apostles, and so forth. Only seventy-five years later, Ignatius of Antioch witnesses to a vastly different Christian movement that was pulsating throughout the Roman Empire, urban, Gentile, Greek-speaking, worshiping in churches on Sunday rather than Saturday, overseen by bishops and elders, and so on. In the space of one lifetime the forms of the Jesus movement changed more than they have in the 2,000 years since the death of Jesus. And yet, the DNA of the movement, its essence in the salvation brought in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ remains unchanged. Pretty exciting! That’s worth a book.

JW– I look forward to reading it! Thank you, Professor, for your time. And thank you most especially for a book that I think is one of the most interesting written in recent years.

Learn About Calvin

With this.

#ICYMI – Bible And Interpretation: James Barr’s Collected Essays – The Book(s) of the Week

Originally posted in May, 2015.

John Barton’s work on these three volumes is a tour de force in academic publishing. First, because the collection is so expansive. And second, because Barton’s editorial hand never quivers or shakes or deviates from the task- which is to make available those rare creatures of biblical scholarship- interesting essays and reviews- which flowed Mozartesque from Barr’s pen.

I’ve been reading a number of the essays and as the weeks go by I’ll have ample occasion to cite them.  They are as amazing as I expected them to be.

I have a long-abiding interest in and fascination with the work of Barr for a very personal reason: I am his academic Grandson.  My teachers in grad school, the illustrious John I. Durham and the equally illustrious Samuel Balentine were both students of Barr at Oxford.

Furthermore, I had the honor of meeting Prof. Barr and chatting a bit at SBL a couple of times before his very untimely death.  I also spent time with his very, very lovely wife when the SBL (both nationally and in the Southeast Region) honored Professor Barr with special sessions and she was in attendance.

I’ve also had the great privilege of being a colleague of John Barton in the Society for Old Testament Study and it was at one of those meetings during the middle of a very fruitful discussion that Prof. Barton first mentioned his work on the collection and my nerdy heart skipped a beat in anticipatory excitement.

Now that James Barr’s collected essays are available and readers can access much more than the few books they can round up in the used book stalls, I think that a new generation of budding biblical scholars will learn how scholarship really works and how supposition and fad methodologies simply will not abide the test of time, or use.

[I realize that the 3 volumes are costly.  I realize that as a consequence many private scholars and few students will be able to have them in their personal libraries.  It is precisely for that reason that research libraries ought to be urged by biblical scholars and theologians to add these volumes to their collections.  It is imperative that students and faculty have access to this work.  Accordingly, in the strongest possible terms, I advise libraries to get a copy.  And if the parents, friends, families, and total strangers wish to pitch in and buy you something- get them to pitch in to buy this.  You will not regret it].

It’s Out

So happy about this volume’s publication.

Makers of the Modern Theological Mind: Rudolf Bultmann

9781619708136oDecades ago Morris Ashcraft wrote the definitive exposition of the theology of Rudolf Bultmann.  It also went out of print decades ago and became a classic in the meanwhile.

Hendrickson has, thankfully, republished this masterpiece in paperback and made it once more easily available.

How can modern scientific humanity understand the strange religious language of the Bible? This is one of the questions Rudolf Bultmann (1884–1976) spent his life answering. As a devout Lutheran committed to the Christian faith, Bultmann’s concern was how to make Christianity intelligible in the twentieth century. His concept of demythologizing was part of his lifelong attempt to help people “hear” the Christian gospel and respond to it authentically. All of this originated out of a genuine pastoral concern to highlight the nature of New Testament faith. As Morris Ashcraft writes, “He stands alongside Karl Barth as a man who changed the direction of theology significantly and perhaps permanently.”

In this book, along with a brief biographical sketch, Morris Ashcraft provides a concise and reliable guide to Bultmann’s system of thought and his continuing influence.

Dean Ashcraft was at Southeastern Seminary while I was there doing an MDiv and a ThM and a finer scholar and Christian you’ve never met.  His book on Bultmann remains the finest of the genre.  Students of the New Testament should all be required to read it.

My Bestie Has a New Book Forthcoming: “Cults, Martyrs and Good Samaritans: Religion in Contemporary English Political Discourse” by James Crossley

Pre-order here.

Nüwe Zyttungen: Von schlurfenden Pfaffen, Wundern und anderen Zeichen. Der Briefwechsel des Reformators Heinrich Bullinger

Der Reformator Heinrich Bullinger (1504–1575), Nachfolger Huldrych Zwinglis, hat über 12 000 Briefe erhalten und geschrieben. Diese Korrespondenz ist mehr als privater oder seelsorgerischer Austausch: Als Medium für Nachrichtenübermittlung, internationale Kirchenpolitik und theologische Debatten zeichnet sie ein vielschichtiges Bild ihrer Zeit. Während die Briefe die krisenhaften internationalen Ereignisse abbilden, geben sie gleichzeitig Aufschluss über die Kommunikationsstrategien der Reformatoren nach Zwinglis Tod. Meldungen über Kriegsgeschehen, Wunderzeichen oder Naturkatastrophen, polemische Schriften, Flugblätter, Schmählieder und Gerüchte erreichen Zürich, werden im Streit der Konfessionen widerlegt, geahndet oder weiterverbreitet.
Dieses Buch erscheint anlässlich des Jubiläums 500 Jahre Zürcher Reformation und begleitet eine Ausstellung an der Universität Zürich. Die ausgewählten Briefzitate und Bilder geben Einblick in ein beispielhaftes frühneuzeitliches Kommunikationsnetzwerk. Ergänzt werden die Auszüge durch einordnende Interviews mit Spezialisten, die den Kontext und die medientheoretische Aktualität aufzeigen.

Get yourself one!

Bultmann Handbuch

bultmann

This gem has been published by Mohr

Rudolf Bultmann (1884–1976) prägte durch seinen hermeneutischen Ansatz die exegetischen und systematisch-theologischen sowie kirchlichen Diskurse des 20. Jahrhunderts wesentlich mit. Als Mitbegründer der formgeschichtlichen Schule und früher Vertreter der Dialektischen Theologie setzte er sich in den 1920er Jahren kritisch mit Positionen der liberalen Theologie auseinander und rückte die hermeneutische Frage nach den Verstehensbedingungen der biblischen Texte sowie deren Bedeutung für die Leserinnen und Leser in der Moderne in den Fokus seiner wissenschaftlichen Arbeit. Seine Theologie entwickelte Bultmann im Gespräch und in der Auseinandersetzung; so pflegte er einen intensiven Austausch mit Kolleginnen und Kollegen auch anderer wissenschaftlicher Disziplinen, mit Studentinnen und Studenten, mit Pfarrerinnen und Pfarrern.

Dieses Handbuch bietet neben einem ersten Orientierungsabschnitt über Bultmanns Werke und den gegenwärtigen Forschungsstand, in einem zweiten Abschnitt einen Zugang zur Person. Darin werden die Biographie, die theologischen Prägungen, die Beziehungen zu wichtigen Gesprächspartnern und seine politisch-gesellschaftlichen Kontexte in den Blick genommen. Eine Beschäftigung mit dem Werk Bultmanns findet im dritten Abschnitt statt. In diesem Abschnitt werden die vielfältigen Gattungen und Themen seines Œuvres behandelt sowie die sein Gesamtwerk prägenden Strukturen. Schließlich wird die Wirkung und Rezeption seiner Theologie insbesondere im deutschsprachigen Raum dargestellt und diskutiert. Das Handbuch eignet sich für eine erste Orientierung in der Beschäftigung mit Bultmann; es ist darüber hinaus auch ein Nachschlagewerk für Fachleute und Bultmann-Kenner.

The publisher has sent along a review copy.

The volume consists of

  • A. – Orientation
  • B. – Person
  • C. – Works
  • D. – Reception

The Orientation takes readers through a very extensive listing of Bultmann’s works and works about Bultmann.  Section B. introduces readers to the biography of Bultmann and then to those scholars and theologians who influenced him and with whom he interacted (including, but not limited to Rade, Gunkel, Barth, Heidegger, his Marburg colleagues and Fuchs.  This section also includes descriptions of Bultmann’s relation to the Jews, Politics, the Church, and Culture.  Section C. focuses on the works of Bultmann and is comprised of descriptions of the genres of his books and essays, the structures of his thought, and the chief themes he works with (including but not limited to Hellenism and Judaism, The New Testament, the Old Testament, eschatology, faith, ethics and hermeneutics.  Finally the volume concludes in section D. with the various debates provoked by Bultmann’s work (like demythologizing, Jesus research, Johannine research, and Pauline studies).

The work also includes a list of contributors and a general bibliography along with the usual indices.

The aim of the work is described by its editor in the opening pages: it’s goal is to deepen our understanding of Bultmann’s work, and more importantly, to provoke us to read Bultmann himself.  Each chapter is brief but utterly packed to the brim with important and useful information.  Each includes a bibliography and each is festooned with indicators of further information to be found in other parts of the volume.  So, for instance, if one is reading the subsection about Bultmann’s biography and is intrigued by details concerning his time at Marburg, parenthetical references direct readers to other places in the work where that information is expanded upon or described more fully.

This is an authentic handbook (in that typically understated German sense of actually describing an encyclopedia).  The learning on display is encyclopedic and this could easily be called a Bultmann encyclopedia.  And should.  Its one shortcoming is a lack of images and portraits of the great teacher in and amidst his environment.  The only photo graces the cover, and it is of Bultmann mid career.

The highlights of the volume are numerous.  The discussion of Bultmann’s connection to Luther is sublime, as are the discussions of Bultmann’s politics and his interactions with Judaism.  When it comes to Section C., III (Themes) the material is a primer in Bultmannian theology the likes of which have never been produced before.  If readers wish to know what Bultmann taught concerning Jesus, Michael Theobald’s treatment is perfection.  Similarly, Christof Landmesser’s treatment of Bultmann’s theology of Paul is so far superior to anything in the genre that it is worthy of special notice.

Andreas Lindemann’s discussion of the ‘Bultmann School’ in D. I. is superb, as is Francis Watson’s description of Bultmann’s reception in the English speaking world in D. VIII.

It’s no secret, at least to people who know me, that Bultmann has been and remains one of the most important theological influences in my own life.  Among the greatest-  Zwingli, Brunner, Luther, Calvin, Barth, von Rad, and Kierkegaard, Bultmann is among the top three.  It was Bultmann who convinced me, as a Grad Student, that Faith and Understanding were two sides of the same coin.  It was he who taught me the folly of attempting to read the Gospels as biography.  It was he who introduced me to the profundinty of Paul’s theology.  It was he who taught me to look at the Gospels through redaction-critical eyes.  Among New Testament scholars he is and will always be the most influential.

That’s why, primarily, I welcome this brilliant and useful volume, and recommend it to you so enthusiastically.  If you think you know Bultmann- his life, his works, his influence- then you will still learn much from this book.  If you don’t know much about Bultmann at all, this is the book to read.  And if you’re a serious New Testament scholar you already know that at some point or other you will have to interact with Bultmann’s scholarship- no matter which aspect of New Testament studies interests you.  Bultmann is the Himalaya over which every scholar must traverse in their intellectual and theological pilgrimage in order to be a real scholar.  This book will help you understand him far better than you ever have.

Nestle-Aland 28 With the NRSV and REB in Parallel

This is the twenty-eighth edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (NA28). NA28 is the standard scholarly edition of the Greek New Testament used by scholars, Bible translators, professors, students, and pastors worldwide. Now NA28 has been revised and improved:

  • Critical apparatus revised and easier to use
  • Papyrii 117-127 included for the first time
  • In-depth revision of the Catholic Epistles, with more than 30 changes to the upper text
  • Scripture references systematically reviewed for accuracy
  • The NA28 with NRSV/REB Greek-English New Testament includes the 28th edition of the Nestle Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, the New Revised Standard Version, and the Revised English Bible.

Naturally, given that each of these editions of the Bible have been around for years now and been reviewed and available for examination by students, scholars, and exegetes there’s no need at all to reinvent the wheel and review them all individually.  The NRSV is an exceptionally well constructed edition of the English Bible.  The 28th edition of Nestle-Aland is the standard scholarly text for a reason.  And the Revised English Bible is, as I have said in several different ways at several different times, simply the best, most accurate, most judicious, and most exciting translation of the Bible in English yet produced.

It is with the latter point in mind that the present volume under discussion deserves attention: for it is the first edition to include the REB on facing pages with the Greek text of the New Testament.  The Greek text is printed on every other page and on the facing page two columns consisting of the NRSV in regular print and the REB in italic print are made available.

The immediately obvious benefit of an edition of the Greek text like this is that while reading the Greek text, two superb editions of the English can be consulted immediately, without needing multiple volumes open on one’s desk.  Likewise, if the English text is being studied then access to the Greek text is immediate and simple.

Editions of the Bible which print the original languages (Hebrew and Greek) on pages facing an English version are superior to interlinears as well.  The reader has to know the original language in order to locate words and phrases in verses that are consulted whereas with an interlinear the reader can pretend knowledge which he or she in fact does not possess.

One of the greatest frauds presently perpetrated against students and church folk is the lecturer or preacher pretending knowledge of the Biblical languages (which they actually do not possess).  This is normally done either by a fraudulent reference to one of the meanings provided by ‘Strong’s Concordance’, a terribly outdated and essentially useless tool beloved of the linguistically illiterate; or by means of an interlinear.  With that ‘tool’ in hand, even the most inept pseudo-scholar can appear learned.  However, such dishonesty usually becomes quite apparent as soon as the lecturer or preacher attempts to pronounce a Hebrew or Greek word and bungles it so miserably that anyone with as much as an elementary knowledge of the language catches the nonsense immediately.

In sum, then, the new NA28 with NRSV and REB is a superb resource for students of the Bible and is so much better than any interlinear that one may be tempted to acquire that such an acquisition (of said interlinear) would be foolhardy.

Many years ago a famed Biblical Scholar told his students to go and sell whatever they needed to sell in order to buy a Septuagint.  I would modify that a bit and urge you to go and sell whatever you need to sell in order to buy this edition of the Greek New Testament.  Mine goes with me everywhere.  I can’t leave home without it.

Gerechtigkeit verstehen

04916_landmesser_popkes_gerechtigkeitMenschliches Leben kann sich nur dort zum Guten entfalten, wo auch Gerechtigkeit herrscht. Was aber ist Gerechtigkeit? Ganz selbstverständlich fordern wir Gerechtigkeit in allen Bereichen unseres Lebens. Um Gerechtigkeit aber auch zur Geltung zu bringen, ist eine grundsätzliche Verständigung darüber erforderlich, was wir unter Gerechtigkeit verstehen wollen.

Diesem Leitthema widmete sich die 18. Jahrestagung der Rudolf-Bultmann-Gesellschaft für Hermeneutische Theologie e. V., deren Erträge durch den vorliegenden Sammelband dokumentiert werden.

Mit Beiträgen von Hermann Spieckermann, Christof Landmesser, Angelika Neuwirth, Rainer Marten, Tom Kleffmann und Bischof Otfried July.

The papers herein were read at the 2016 Rudolf-Bultmann-Gesellschaft that met in Bad Herrenalb.  In total six essays plus an introduction comprise the substance and each addresses the theological concept of ‘righteousness’ from a particular perspective.  Accordingly, the first, by H. Spickermann is an investigation of the concept in the Old Testament. The second, by Landmesser sees the concept through the lenses of Matthew and Paul. The third steps away from the Bible and thinks about the subject from the point of view of the Koran whilst the fourth widens the vista further by broadly discussing the question of righteousness itself.

In chapter 5, T. Kleffmann returns to a consideration of the subject from a theological perspective- particularly from the point of view of Pauline studies and the last chapter F. July attempts to bring the subject to bear on present churchly practice among the Diaconate.

I am happy to confess the first two chapters are nearer my own interests than the others, which is why I am pleased to have encountered those first two and the latter four, for they broaden the reader’s perspective exponentially. I know virtually nothing of the Koran so that I cannot rightly analyze the contents of that chapter and nonetheless am glad to have read it simply because it is so very instructive. Indeed, perhaps Jewish/ Christian/ and Muslim dialogue should and can begin with a colloquium on the subject of ‘righteousness’.

When the Bultmann-Gesellschaft holds its annual meetings the scholars presenting always bring intriguing and helpful ideas to the table.  The publication of those proceedings by the Evangelische Verlagsanstalt Leipzig should be greeted with appreciation as they allow the entire interested theological public to ‘sit in’ on the sessions even if they cannot do so literally.

It’s Time to Line Up Your Devotional Reading for 2017

Zwingli and Bullinger have a recommendation for you:

ZwingliBullingerDevotionalBook2We love this book. Love it. LOVE IT. Never in the history of Christianity has a book so profound been made available to the masses for a price so reasonable. Reading it is a theological education in a single volume which contains everything necessary for both salvation and proper doctrine.

Were we more excited about it we would resemble tiny puppies laying on their backs getting their bellies rubbed and wetting themselves. That’s how excited we are about this book. – H.B., H.Z.

Wow. I’m super humbled and super honored. First a video recommendation a few months back and now this (again). I just don’t know what to say.

The book is available from the publisher via print on demand, here.  Or you can get a PDF directly from the author for $10 here.

Prof. Dr Christopher Tilling and The Commentary

Herr Prof. Dr. Tilling writes

Dr Jim West has undertaken the phenomenal task of writing a commentary on every book of the Bible! And what strikes this reader most forcefully is its faithfulness to what it says on the tin: West’s efforts have been expended “for the person in the pew”.

In other words, one should not expect the usual exhaustive analysis of syntax, interpretive options, history of scholarship and such like. These commentaries are written so that the reader needs no theological education, and West presupposes no ability to read Greek or Hebrew. Anyone can read and understand these.

The result is like going through the biblical texts, with a scholarly pastor, who pauses to make a number of bite-sized observations on the way. And whatever one thinks of those annotations, anyone can follow and digest them. West writes with a heart for the church, and his unique character and love for scripture are obvious in these pages.

Dr. Chris Tilling
New Testament Tutor,
St Mellitus College & St Paul’s Theological Centre

Acquire and obtain a copy directly from me for a paltry $199 by clicking my PayPal Link.  It’s that simple.  And if you don’t want the whole collection,  I’m happy to send each volume individually for those who prefer it. Just paypal me $5 and tell me which you wish.

the-person-the-pew-commentary-series

Christoph Heilig’s Forthcoming Volume: Paul’s Triumph – Reassessing 2 Corinthians 2:14 in Its Literary and Historical Context

Sounds fantastic!

Paul’s metaphorical language in Second Corinthians 2:14 has troubled exegetes for a long time. Does the verb ‘thriambeuein’ indicate that Paul imagines himself as being led to execution in the Roman triumphal procession? Or is, by contrast, the victory in view that the apostles receive themselves? Maybe the Roman ritual does not constitute the background of this metaphor at all? Clarity with regard to these questions is a pressing issue in Pauline studies, given the fact that this metaphor introduces a central passage in the Pauline corpus that is of crucial importance for reconstructing the apostle’s self-understanding. Heilig demonstrates that, if all the relevant data are taken into account, a coherent interpretation of Paul’s statement is possible indeed. Moreover, Heilig brings the resulting meaning of Paul’s statement into dialogue with the political discourse of the time, thus presenting a detailed argument for the complex critical interaction of Paul with the ideology of the Roman Empire.

Definitely need to read this one.  Heilig is a great young scholar and his last name is pretty spiffy too.  Since Chris Tilling has forsaken me for SBL I’ve replaced him as my go to Paul specialist with Christoph.  Because.

Anyway, if Paul is an interest of yours, you may want to get a copy when this comes out.

Martin Luther: The Art of the Reformation- Available from ISD

luther-artVia ISD-

This Fall, exhibitions commemorating the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s Reformation will be shown in Minneapolis, New York, and Atlanta. They offer a comprehensive picture of the life and work of Martin Luther, his Reformation, its cultural-historical context and lasting impact. Their focus is on unique exhibits from authentic places associated with Luther’s life and the history of the Reformation.

We are excited to announce new volumes from Sandstein Verlag that are companions to the exhibitions. They are available as a two volume set in a slipcase. You may learn more about that set by clicking through the image below.

Follow this link to learn more about the Essays volume:https://www.isdistribution.com/BookDetail.aspx?aId=76597

Follow this link to learn more about the Catalogue:https://www.isdistribution.com/BookDetail.aspx?aId=76596

The two volumes together can be found here.

History, Politics and the Bible from the Iron Age to the Media Age

9780567670595As biblical studies becomes increasingly fragmented, this collection of essays brings together a number of leading scholars in order to show how historical reconstruction, philology, metacriticism, and reception history can be part of a collective vision for the future of the field.

This collection of essays focuses more specifically on critical questions surrounding the construction of ancient Israel(s), ‘minimalism’, the ongoing significance of lexicography, the development of early Judaism, orientalism, and the use of the Bible in contemporary political discourses.

Looks great!  I think I’ve met the editors…

SOTS At 100: Centennial Essays for the Society for Old Testament Study

Bloomsbury will publish this volume in the Winter.

The volume, being published by Bloomsbury T&T Clark in the Library of Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament Studies, comprises seven essays by long-serving Officers of the Society:

  • ‘The Origins of the Society for Old Testament Study: Cultural, Political and Religious Antecedents’, by Ronald Clements (Foreign Secretary 1974-1981, President 1985).
  • ‘The Society for Old Testament Study: 1917-2017’, by Eryl Davies (Archivist since 2012, President 2013).
  • ‘A Timeline of SOTS’, by John Jarick (Secretary 2000-2009).
  • ‘A Century of SOTS Papers’, by David Clines (Secretary 1977-1982, President 1996, Foreign Secretary 2005-2012).
  • ‘From People and Book to Text in Context: Volumes that Speak Volumes’, by Adrian Curtis (Secretary 1983-1988, President 2016).
  • ‘A Snapshot of SOTS at 100: Collegiality and Diversity in the Membership of the Society for Old Testament Study’, by Katharine Dell (Secretary 1995-2000).
  • ‘The Way of the Future? Into Our Second Century’, by Paul Joyce (Secretary 1989-1994, President 2017).

Members of the Society can order the volume at a substantial discount. See the email from Viv Rowett.

Read Thomas Römer’s Essay in John Barton’s New Volume

romerT. Römer, « The Narrative Books of the Hebrew Bible », in J. Barton (ed.), The Hebrew Bible. A critical Companion Princeton, NJ – Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2016, pp. 109-132.

The volume has just appeared and Thomas’s essay is certainly rightly included in this excellent collection.  I feel fairly certain that you will want to get hold of a copy of the volume when you’ve read this chapter.

An Interview with Konrad Schmid On ‘Job’s Journey’

OEMJOBSJOProfessor Schmid and Manfred Oeming have written a new volume on Job, published by Eisenbrauns, titled Job’s Journey: Stations of Suffering.  Professor Schmid was kind enough to ‘sit down’ for a brief interview on the new volume:

JW– What is it about the Book of Job that you find so interesting that you authored a volume about it?

KS– We [Professor Oeming, my co-author, and myself] are fascinated by the book of Job as one of the theologically most challenging texts of the Hebrew Bible. When I went to Heidelberg in 1999, we found that we both had written articles on different parts of the book that fit well together. Thus, the pieces were first, and the book only came second.

JW – How was it decided who would write what?

KS – It was a coincidence that the first chapter written by me served well as an introduction to the following ones by Manfred.

JW – The volume includes copious citations of the Hebrew text of Job and is clearly written for academics. Do you have plans to offer a more ‘popular’ treatment of Job for a lay audience?

KS– At this time no, although Manfred Oeming has published an article in that vein: “Ihr habt nicht recht zu mir geredet” (Hiob 42,7). Eine neue Auslegung des Hiob-Buches als Trostbuch. In: Lebendige Seelsorge 57 (2006) 2-6.

JW– Your discussion of the Prologue includes the delightful remark that “there is definitely a time for theological restraint’. If you had given free reign to unrestraint, what would you have included in this book that you decided to leave out?

KS– I think that being silent in matters of theology is also a statement. I characterized some main aspects of the theology of the book of Job as what the scholastics called “negative theology” (theologia negativa), and I find this an intellectually fruitful and challenging way of doing theology..It concentrates more on what kind of statements we should avoid in order to talk adequately of God than what we can affirmatively say about him.

JW – The book is, by and large, the work of Prof. Oeming. How did you contribute to other sections of the book, if you did so? In other words, how much of the volume is collaboration?

KS– Quite miraculously, my part served as an apt introduction to Manfred’s chapters. We read each other’s work, of course, but there was no need to interfere mutually.

JW – Job’s core issue seems to be the question of theodicy. Is that how you see it? If not, without giving away too much of the book, what do you see as its core concern?

KS– Asking about theodicy often has traits of heresy: Who could be God’s judge? I think the book of Job is more about theology than about theodicy. Of course, Job’s case is about the question of whether God’s justice or God’s autonomy and power are more prominent features of how we should think of God. But the book of Job seems to me primarily to be an intellectual experiment of how we can talk adequately of God without violating or restraining his divinity.

JW – Why now? What is it about the current political-historical context that makes reflection on Job important?

KS– It is always healthy to acknowledge that human beings are human beings and God is God. The political importance of such a statement is, to my mind, obvious.

JW – When you think about the present volume, is there any way that your mind has changed since its publication such that were you writing it now, it would differ significantly? And if so, in what respect?

KS– I would put even more weight on the aspect of Job’s laments in Job 3-31. As Manfred shows in his last chapter, this way of talking to God (instead of reasoning about him) seems to be a theologically promising approach to God for the book of Job.

JW – Do you have plans to write a Commentary on the Book of Job, either together or individually?

KS– No.

JW– What project currently occupies your time (if I may be so bold as to be nosey and inquisitive)?

KS– We are both working on questions of a “Theology of the Old Testament”.

JW – Thank you again for a stimulating study and for your willingness to discuss it here if even just ever so briefly.  Having enjoyed your book very much I can assure potential readers that in all likelihood they will as well.

Changing Perspectives: Volume 7

9781138889521It’s available now!

Part I: Beyond Historicity

A New ‘Biblical Archaeology’
Philip R. Davies

Old and New Ways of Interpreting Isaiah 40-55
Frederik Poulsen

Sociolinguistic Perspectives on the Hebrew Bible as Memory Work: Seeing Redactional Work as Entextualization
Trine Bjørnung Hasselbach

Part II: Greek Connections

Is the Old Testament Still a Hellenistic Book?
Niels Peter Lemche

From Plato to Moses: Genesis-Kings as a Platonic Epic
Philippe Wajdenbaum

Greek Genres and the Hebrew Bible
Russel Gmirkin

When the Septuagint Came in from the Cold
Mogens Müller

Part III: Reception

Of Qumran, the Canon and the History of the Bible Text
Fred Cryer

Deconstructing the Continuity of Qumran Ib and II with Implications for Stabilizing the Biblical Texts
Gregory Doudna

Canon Formation, Canonicity and the Qumran library
Jesper Høgenhaven

New Children of Abraham in Greenland—The Creation of a Nation
Flemming A. J. Nielsen

Whose Mythic, Rhythmic, Theological and Cultural Memory is it Anyway?
Jim West

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