Big Announcement!!

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This fall I’m going to take my talents to Chicago and join the TIU Trojans (I’m from the home of LeBron James, so of course I had to imitated his departure announcement). Depending on how you’re connected to me you may already know this, but thus far I’ve only covertly alluded a few times to my seminary plans on the blog. However, a few days ago I spoke to my boss so now I’m able to be fully public about this.

Going to seminary is simultaneously exciting and terrifying. Reasons why it’s exciting are obvious. I’ll get to learn from and with real people rather than just from books, blogs, and audio. I’ll get to actually spend daylight hours studying Bible and theology rather than just pursue these things at the end of a full work day, so I’m excited to see what kind of scholarly fruit can be borne from devoting the best hours of my day to biblical study rather than just pursuing it on empty. But it’s also terrifying, partially because I feel like the Lord is calling me to pursue something for which there is about a .01% chance of success (more on that in a little bit). Partially because I’m giving up a decent job to spend all my savings on another degree that will most likely render me unemployable. So this is a scary transition, and it is a gigantic leap of faith.

So what is this path I feel called to pursue which has a .01% chance of success? Academia. It is the reason why, despite receiving a very clear call and a few huge signs right away I continued to pray for a long time before actually deciding to apply to seminary. What I ultimately came to realize (now it sounds so simple) was that I just needed to take the next step in faith, the step I knew God was calling  me to take. I was trying to make sure that God was calling me to the final step before I was even willing to take the first because that’s just how I roll. I’m a planner. I like to have my ducks in a row; and for things that entail multiple steps, I like having a plan for each step before even taking the first. But there was a point in the process when the infrastructure I had laid in these seminary plans started to fall apart and I freaked out. I freaked out and started immediately modifying and re-planning, when the Lord smacked me upside the head with James 4:13-15. And that was a turning point of sorts in this journey.

And so, I am starting an MDiv with concentration in research ministry at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School this fall. I have a lot of ambitions for the next three years besides just rocking out in class (i.e. summa cum laude). I’d like to present at a regional ETS and/or SBL; I’d like to get a publication or two to my name. I’ll be working toward having a competitive application for a top-tier doctorate program in NT. But simultaneously, I’m holding the end result loosely; I’m continuing to seek the Lord’s will for future steps, to think about back-ups and alternative routes, and to trust that even if I don’t “make it,” God has a purpose for me in all of this. That even if I just get an MDiv and that’s it, it won’t be a waste. Believing that has been very difficult because I can’t really foresee anything I could do with that degree that I can’t do without it. When I take my eyes off the Lord I’m haunted by the fear of blowing $30,000 and then working at Starbucks for the rest of my life. But I’m taking this first step in faith because I know that God is calling me to seminary.

Ok, so now that this is public information, I invite academic advice, whether you’re a current doctorate student or have a PhD in biblical studies. I’ve read many blog posts for aspiring NT PhDs, so I know the basic necessities (e.g. research languages, Greco-Roman backgrounds, Jewish backgrounds, etc.). But I would really love some advice for these next three years. Even though I’m doing an MDiv I think I’m closer to an MA or ThM student (I couldn’t do either of the latter degrees because I don’t have any formal coursework in biblical studies) and I anticipate doing a lot of additional, more advanced study on my own. I just feel a bit lost and have had a hard time getting practical advice.

For those of you who pray, I’d greatly appreciate prayers in regards to smooth logistics related to the transition (e.g. hiring and training my replacement at my current job, finding housing and part time work at Trinity, etc.) as well as Greek studies. This latter one is huge, guys. Pray that I’ll be able to somewhat resist the temptations of the latest and greatest books and spend more time on Greek (if there are any publicists reading this, this does not mean you should stop sending me books. Μή γένοιτο! :D ) I’ve been self-studying Greek with the goal of testing into NT Greek Exegesis I  because this would save me time as well as money.

Oh, and I almost forgot something huge!! I was offered a Mosaic Scholarship and am looking forward to being part of a community at TEDS pursuing the gospel work of social justice and racial reconciliation. This will force me to get my nose out of the books once in a while :)

And finally, for fun, I leave you with two memes I’ve made in the past few months related to my impending program of official nerdery (previously only posted in the “secrecy” of Facebook). As I’ve been saying for months on Facebook, #TEDSOrBust.

TEDS Meme Toy Story

 

 

 

 

 

 

TEDS Meme Napoleon Dynamite

Book Review – Perspectives on the Extent of the Atonement: 3 Views (Andrew David Naselli & Mark A. Snoeberger ed.)

Andrew David Naselli and Mark A. Snoeberger, ed. Perspectives on the Extent of the Atonement: 3 Views. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2015. 256 pp. $24.99.

AtonementI don’t usually gravitate toward multiview books, but what solidified Perspectives on the Extent of the Atonement in my mind as a book I needed to read was a comment made in passing by my friend Lindsay Kennedy about how he always likes to engage with the best arguments of opposing positions. I have been a convinced 5-point Calvinist for a long time, and I’ve read many of the significant tomes defending Reformed soteriology (e.g From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, Salvation by Grace, etc.); but I couldn’t remember ever reading a good academic defense of Arminian soteriology. Because this issue is one of the most controversial intra-Evangelical theological debates and one in which both sides are prone to caricature the other, at the very least Perspectives on the Extent of the Atonement helps us see that each of the three views espoused in this book is exegetically and theologically tenable and that this is an in-house, family debate amongst genuine believers who all affirm the essential tenet of penal substitutionary atonement.

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Music Monday – Sandra McCracken: Psalms

I’ve streamed this album multiple times a day, every day, since it became available on Relevant’s The Drop. Below is a video of a live performance of one of the songs; if you like it, you should stream the album at the link above. The album drops tomorrow, April 14.

 

Saturday Sillies – If People Left Parties the Way they Leave Facebook

HT Nijay Gupta

A Blogging Milestone and a Thank You

This humble little blog has made it onto the “Top 50 Biblioblogs” for Spring 2015, where it, along with several others, was mentioned as a “rising star.” As a friend humorously noted on Facebook, Bart Ehrman’s probably excited to be a rising star, too. Do check out the post to explore the world of biblioblogdom and add some new blogs to your feed. Thanks to all my readers and subscribers for reading, sharing, and/or commenting. I do feel very unworthy to be on that list, and I truly didn’t feel this blog was ready for that kind of exposure (although I suppose exposure had already come when I was asked to host a Biblical Studies Carnival). I mean, my blog doesn’t even have a name or header! And I am but an “uneducated fisherman” right now in regards to biblical studies, but stick with me and I promise you, dear reader, great and exciting things (and by extension, better blog content) are on the horizon :)

Book Notice – Behind the Gospels: Understanding the Oral Tradition (Eric Eve)

Eric Eve. Behind the Gospels: Understanding the Oral Tradition. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2014. 224 pp. $29.00.

Behind the GospelsThere is currently to my knowledge no book-length survey of and introduction to scholarship of the oral tradition behind the Gospels. As such, Eve’s Behind the Gospels is a valuable contribution and should be read by every student of the gospels. It is also accessible, with technical terms defined rather than assumed; therefore, it’s also a good book for laypeople and nonspecialists interested in the cutting edge of Gospels studies and specifically oral tradition. This work is not concerned with source criticism or the Synoptic Problem; Eve assumes Marcan priority and leaves open the question of “Q.” While Behind the Gospels is primarily descriptive in that it surveys the main movers and shakers in this area of NT scholarship and provides an overview of the main models of oral tradition, Eve does also evaluate the main positions. He begins in Chapter 1 with providing a general orientation to the subject matter by briefly addressing what oral tradition is in the first century Mediterranean context – “one factor (albeit often the dominant one) of a complex interplay of memory, orality and scribality (the use of texts in a pre-print culture)” (17)*. Chapter 2 deals with form criticism, examining the constructive method of Martin Dibelius and the analytical method of Rudolf Bultmann.

In light of the weaknesses of form criticism, the rest of the book looks at alternative models that have been proposed in its place. Chapter 3 examines the rabbinic model (in which the passing on of Jesus tradition is seen as a tightly controlled process), focusing primarily on the work of Birger Gerhardsson. Next, in Chapter 4, Eve addresses the media contrast model, looking at the work of Erhardt Güttgemanns and Werner Kelber. He subsequently looks in Chapter 5 at Kenneth Bailey’s model of informed controlled oral tradition, which is a sort of via media between the informal uncontrolled model and formal controlled model. The final chapters address issues that relate memory with the oral tradition. Chapter 6 lays the foundation for these chapters by first surveying the role of memory in the pre-modern era before examining individual memory (the psychology of memory) and collective memory (the sociology of memory), and finally looking at social memory of performance tradition. Chapter 7 looks at how these concepts of memory specifically apply to the Jesus tradition, paying particular attention to the work of James Dunn (Jesus Remembered), Richard Horsley with Jonathan Draper, and Rafael Rodriguez (Structuring Early Christian Memory). Chapter 8 considers the role of eyewitnesses, focusing on the work of Samuel Byrskog and Richard Bauckham.

In Chapter 9 Eve begins to draw out implications of this book by probing the gospel tradition to get a sense of its nature, comparing Mark to Paul and Josephus. He concludes,

The traditions we have sampled in this chapter thus exhibit the kind of mix of stability and variability described in previous chapters’ discussion of social memory and oral traditions rather better than the kind of fixity suggested by Gerhardsson or the reliable eyewitness testimony urged by Bauckham. At the same time, the evidence tends to suggest that Mark and the other Evangelists had access to, and were to some extent constrained by, earlier traditions and did not simply invent all their own material. It does not, however, show that these traditions were necessarily being controlled for historical accuracy; as in the case of Bailey’s data, Kelber’s notion of preventative censorship, which accords well with social memory theory, would seem to be a better fit (provided it is not pushed to a radically skeptical extreme). Although it would be perilous to conclude too much from a mere pair of such probes, they do appear to lend general support to the convergence of the more workable ideas we reviewed in Chapters 4 to 7.

(Eve 199)

A concluding chapter draws the threads together and considers some implications for historical Jesus research and source criticism. Eve argues for a model combining the features of those advocated by Kelber, Dunn, Horsley and Rodriguez and notes that in light of research on memory and oral tradition, the criteria of authenticity and the Synoptic Problem need to be rethought.

As I mentioned right of the bat, Behind the Gospels is unique in the overview it provides of the oral tradition behind the gospels and is an excellent survey for anyone looking for an introduction to the topic, from the interested layperson to the biblical studies student. It’s definitely essential reading for those interested in the academic world of NT studies and especially Gospels studies.

*page numbers are from an epub version and may differ from print and Kindle page numbers.

I received a digital copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon

March Biblical Studies Carnival

Jennifer Guo:

Jacob Prahlow has put together an excellent biblical studies carnival for March.

Originally posted on Pursuing Veritas:

Color March 2015 BSCWelcome to the March 2015 Biblical Studies Carnival!

In honor of March’s patron saint (Patrick) and in lieu of what would have been a terrible attempt at an April Fool’s Day joke, start off your morning by (re)visiting the classic “St. Patrick’s Bad Analogies of the Trinity.

Before delving into this month’s suggested articles, I would like to thank Phil Long for asking me to host this carnival. Looking forward to future Carnivals, Jeff Carter will be hosting April’s Carnival. The May Carnival will be hosted by Claude Mariottini, Professor of Old Testament at Northern Baptist Seminary. In June, Cambridge doctoral candidate William A. Ross will be moderating this forum. There are plenty of open Carnival spots for the rest of the year, so if you are interested in hosting, contact Phil Long.

Without further ado, then, check out this month’s selection of posts below (and…

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Book Review – The Blessing of Abraham, the Spirit, & Justification in Galatians: Their Relationship and Significance for Understanding Paul’s Theology

Chee-Chiew Lee. The Blessing of Abraham, the Spirit, & Justification in Galatians: Their Relationship and Significance for Understanding Paul’s Theology. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2013. 256 pp. $28.00.

Gal3.14This book is a revision of a dissertation done under Douglas Moo at Wheaton. In this study, Chee-Chiew Lee investigates the relationship between the Abrahamic blessing and the promise of the Spirit in Galatians 3:14. Finding the arguments of those who see no relationship between these two motifs unconvincing and the explanations of those who do see a relationship (whether as equal or related in some other way) unsatisfactory, Lee  undertakes perhaps the most thorough study of the topic to date by looking at the two motifs throughout the OT and Second Temple literature. She thereby offers a cogent explanation of the relationship between the Abrahamic blessing and the promise of the Spirit, why Paul juxtaposed these two motifs in Gal 3:14, and how their relationship sheds light on Paul’s overall argument in Galatians and the theology of justification therein.

This study begins with a contextual and exegetical overview of Gal 3:1-14 in Chapter 2. Lee demonstrates that Gal 3:1-14 is situated in the context of Paul’s discussion of justification by faith and argues that the passage “constitutes the primary substantiation of his fundamental assertion in Gal 2:16 that justification is by faith in Christ Jesus and not by works of the law. The elaborations in Gal 3:15-6:10 may be seen as the secondary substantiation of Paul’s thesis” (22-23). In introducing the key issues related to determining the relationship between the Abrahamic blessing and the promise of the Spirit in Gal 3:14, Lee first looks at the other occurrences of juxtaposed ἵνα clauses in the Pauline letters before coming back to discuss Gal 4:4-5 and applying the findings to Gal 3:14. Outside of Galatians, when Paul juxtaposes of ἵνα clauses there is a general pattern of the second clause explicating the first and of the content of the two being related but not equal. Lee notes that there are exceptions; that while these two observations are important, syntax alone is not decisive in determining the relationship between the Abrahamic blessing and the promise of the Spirit in Galatians 3:14, and that the context of Galatians is key. Lee notes that “the Spirit should not be equated with the Abrahamic promise or taken as the fulfillment of the Abrahamic blessing. Rather, the promised Spirit is likely to be understood in the prophetic tradition of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel in relation to the Abrahamic, Sinai, and new covenants” (60).

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Reformation Commentary on Scripture – Galatians, Ephesians (Gerald Bray ed.)

Gerald L. Bray, ed. Galatians, Ephesians (Reformation Commentary on Scripture). Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2011. 446 pp. $50.00.

GalEphThough IVP Academic’s Reformation Commentary on Scripture (RCS) series is relatively new (with seven volumes published so far out of a projected 28 volumes), it has already garnered much praise. As a sequel to the highly acclaimed Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (ACCS) series, it shares an overall concept, method, format, and target audience with its predecessor. “The serious study of Scripture requires more than the latest Bible translation in one hand and the latest commentary (or niche study Bible) in the other” (xiv). As such, the ACCS and RCS series make available the finest exegetical works of their respective eras (Patristic and Reformation, respectively) for the sake of renewal through retrieval.

Each volume in the RCS series begins with a general introduction that provides an overview of the context and process of biblical interpretation of the Protestant Reformation era (including the historical context and the various schools of exegesis). Next, each volume contains a guide to using the commentary. Subsequently, the volume introduction places “that portion of the canon within the historical context of the Protestant Reformation and presents a summary of the theological themes, interpretive issues and reception of the particular book(s)” (xvii). The commentary itself proceeds by pericope, with a pericope heading, biblical text in the English Standard Version, an overview of the reformers’ comments that follow, and then excerpts from Reformation writers. In addition to typical backmatter, each volume of the RCS contains a map of the Reformation, a timeline of the Reformation, and biographical sketches of Reformation-era figures.

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Freebie Alert: The Text of Galatians and Its History (Stephen C. Carlson)

Stephen Carlson’s 2012 dissertation (Duke) has just been published by Mohr Siebeck. Major hat tip to my friend Cliff Kvidahl for noting the free digital availability here.

I was not aware of an open access dissertation database from Duke, but through the link to Carlson’s dissertation I poked around and found this landing page. It’s not as user-friendly as Durham’s, which has a page for all the dissertations from the Department of Theology and Religion. When you browse by subject on Duke’s page relevant dissertations are spread throughout multiple subjects. Nevertheless, if you know of dissertations from Duke you can just search for them directly. It’s just browsing that’s a bit hard to do.

In case anyone’s not aware, I have a “Free Resources” tab at the top that compiles free resources for biblical studies (courses, dissertations, journals, etc.). For nerds outside the academy without access to a university library, some of these are a real boon (especially dissertations, which are usually upwards of $100 a copy in published form). If anyone’s aware of other resources do let me know, and I will add them to the page.

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