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Showing posts from January, 2011

The Curse and the Rupture

Graham Cole, following Jaques Ellul, likes to term the first sin in Genesis 3 'the rupture' in addition to the traditional title of 'the fall.' The strength of this suggestion is that it draws our attention to the 'breaking of a network of relationships' (Cole 2009: 56). In this post I'd like to explore the idea of the fall also as 'the rupture' and how taking that vantage point sheds light on the curse. First, though, we must take a moment to look at the role of man and woman in the Garden.

The first text to look at is Genesis 1:28-29, where God gives man a job to do, to procreate, and to extend God's rule as God's vice regent. He was given plant life for his food. The second text is Genesis 2:15-20. There we see man at his work, specifically tilling the ground and ruling the animals by naming them. The picture portrayed between man and his environment is positive and he is working towards its benefit. All of this is necessary background to …

Paul's Argument in Galatians 4:12-20

12 I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong. 13 As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, 14 and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. 15 Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them. 18 It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you. 19 My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20 how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am …

Why Did Jesus Heal?

One way in which Jesus' mighty works were evidently understood by some was that they were the signs of the long-awaited fulfillment of prophecy. For a first century Jew, most if not all the works of healing, which form the bulk of Jesus' mighty works, could be seen as a restoration to membership in Israel to those who, through sickness or whatever, had been excluded as ritually unclean. The healings thus function in exact parallel with the welcome of sinners, and this, we may be quite sure, was what Jesus himself intended. (JVG 191).I think that this is one of the best observations Wright makes in the first third of JVG and I'd like to develop it a little bit. Several months ago, when reading the opening chapters of Mark's gospel, I noticed something striking. Right after the temptation, Jesus is said to go around proclaiming the good news but what Mark writes about is the calling of the disciples and a series of healings and exorcisms. We don't get any teachings o…

Galatians 4:8-11: Does Paul Denigrate Sabbath Keeping?

8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. (NIV)Christians have long debated whether or not it is appropriate to keep the sabbath. I'm not going to get into all of the intricacies of that debate, but I want to comment on how this passage fits into the wider discussion.

First, we should observe that the Gentile Galatians had already begun observing the sabbath. Why? They thought that they had to observe the Torah in order to be full members of God's people. Paul sees observing Torah, exemplified by, among other things, sabbath observance to be a step not into the people of God, but out of. A movement, not into the new creatio…

Paul's Argument in Galatians 4:8-11

8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. (NIV)
Paul's main argument comes to a close in this section. It also serves as a bridge to the next section where Paul makes requests of the Galatians. Here Paul addresses the Galatians directly and building off of a shared belief. Prior to becoming Christians, the Galatians were enslaved in their prior religions. The direction Paul goes next, though, is simply shocking. In reiterating his point from the prior section, he claims that if they observe Torah with the aim of becoming full members of God's people then they are actually going back to their pre-Christian state. They alread…

First Principles in Doing Theology

I'm currently going through First Theology by Kevin Vanhoozer with a friend of mine, so you'll see a few sporadic posts on the book over the next several months. This first post is drawn from the first chapter, which is programmatic for the rest of the book.

When doing theology where do you start as a matter of first principles, do you start with God or with Scripture? Throughout the history of the church we've seen people come down on both sides of this question. Some have said that we must be able to prove God first apart from Scripture, and following that proof we can utilize Scripture, because Scripture's authority is derived from God's authority. Others have argued the other way around, saying that one cannot know God apart from an authoritative Scriptural text and then we develop a picture of God on that basis. We've also seen some who have answered that we need to consider both God and Scripture together, noticing that it's impossible to consider one …

Paul's Argument in Galatians 4:1-7

1 What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2 The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. 3 So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. 4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (NIV)
In this section Paul is reiterating the argument of the last section. This repetition signals that this is a critical portion of his argument (Martyn goes as far as to call it the most important section of the letter). The pressing question throughout Galatians is, 'who are the …

What's On Tap!

I'm excited about the start of the new year hear at Seeking the Truth... I wanted to give you all a heads up about some of what you can expect here on the blog in the next year.

First, I'll be kicking the series on Galatians into high gear. Hopefully I will finish it in the next couple of months. Even though they don't get as much traffic as some of my other posts, I want to make the study and discussion of Scripture a central element of this blog, so hopefully shortly after Galatians concludes I'll start something else, possibly Luke, John, or Hebrews but I haven't decided yet and am open to suggestions.

Even though I'm not at Trinity this year I still will try to do a monthly book review, though it will be a little tougher to get my hands on something now (there will not be a review in January in all likelihood). I want to try to do another very detailed review of some book this year like I did for Inhabiting the Cruciform God. I don't know what book that w…