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John 2:1-11

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it.9When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you …

Books of the Year: 2013

This year, my reading was much more focused than in years' past, largely focusing on Early Judaism. In many regards this made it much easier for me to pick my books of the year, as outside that topic, I only read a few classic works. In fact, I feel as if I only had six competitors for the five slots. As always this list covers the five best books I read for the first time this year.

5. Rereading Romans by Stanley Stowers

Now two decades removed from publication, Stowers work is hardly cutting edge. However, I feel that many interpreters have largely ignored him (to their own peril). It's an excellent explanation of Paul's use of diatribe throughout the letter to the Romans. His work on prosopopoeia in Romans 7 is outstanding.
4. Doctor Who: The Vault by Marcus Hearn

The BBC gave us three gifts for the 50th anniversary: the 50th anniversary special; the docudrama, An Adventure in Space and Time; and The Vault. I haven't finished it yet but I've had a ton of fun and l…

50 Things for the 50th Anniversary, Plus 1

I love Doctor Who, that's no secret. I thought that in honor of the 50th anniversary I'd put together some "top" lists related to Doctor Who covering many of my favorites from across all of the time and space that the Doctor has covered. As a disclaimer, I have not yet finished watching all of the Fourth or Fifth Doctors yet.

Top 5 Companions:
1. Rose
2. Ace
3. Donna
4. Barbara
5. Jamie

I hope I'm not offending too many people immediately by omitting Sarah Jane Smith. For whatever reason I've never felt attached to Sarah Jane like I have to the five on my list (or another tough omission, Rory).

Top 5 Secondary Characters:
1. Wilfred Mott
2. Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart
3. Captain Jack Harkness
4. Craig Owens
5. Sabalom Glitz

This list could be split into a top 3 and a next 2 and you could order them in any order and it would be ok with me. Captain Jack brought fun to the show, both the Brigadier and Wilfred bring, in their own way, a reliability that otherwise …

Why I Love Doctor Who

I had never really gotten into a TV show before. One Sunday in the March of 2012 I was sick and stayed home from church. I had seen James McGrath talk extensively about Doctor Who on his blog, so I decided to give it a try, starting from the first season of the Davies era. The first episode was ok, so I gave it a second. I loved the End of the World and by the end of the episode, I loved Rose. I was hooked. A year and a half later and I'm on my third tour through the modern series (though this time I will be skipping substantial portions of the disaster otherwise known as season 6), and, except for the recent finds, have watched all of the extant episodes for Doctors 1-3 and 6-8, as well as large chunks of 4 and 5. I'm trying to get in as much as I can prior to the 50th anniversary episode. Why am I so dedicated to the show? There are five major reasons:  the history of the show, the writing, the acting, the characters, and the ethical exploration.

As everyone knows, Doctor Wh…

My Journey With Scripture and Critical Scholarship: Part 3

Click here for part 1 and part 2.

In the fall of 2009 I began taking classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I felt a little conflicted over signing their statement of faith, but I eventually did. I didn't learn many things there (besides Greek) that had long term impact on me, but it was generally a good time that really stretched me, both by challenging my thinking and by making it clear to me where my main points of disagreement with conservative evangelicalism lied. I did a total of 19 credits prior to withdrawing. Before moving on, though, I do want to say how much I appreciated Graham Cole's class on biblical theology. I am more of a historical theologian (with the biblical text being the most important stage in the historical process) than a biblical theologian, but I think that Cole's basic definition of the missio dei, 'securing God's people in God's place under God's reign living God's way enjoying God's shalom in God's loving …

My Journey With Scripture and Critical Scholarship: Part 2

Click here for part 1.

At the start of 2008 there was a firestorm of controversy surrounding Peter Enns and his book Inspiration and Incarnation. I was continuing to study as outlined in my last post. At the start of 2009, 9 months after his "resignation", I got around to reading his book. I found it very helpful. The more I had studied the more difficult it was for me to understand how Scripture could be the Word of God and have all of the human characteristics I was noticing. Our doctrine of Scripture should not be a way of sweeping the difficulty of the Bible away. Rather our doctrine of Scripture needs to be phenomenological. Enns book was profoundly helpful for me. Even though I now reject the incarnational model he presented (just as Jesus is fully human and fully divine, so is Scripture), I needed to see someone wrestling with the same problems who came up with a way to honor Scripture while still recognizing that it was completely human.

Later that spring I moved on …

My Journey With Scripture and Critical Scholarship: Part 1

I have been working on a one on one class for my wife on New Testament backgrounds. When one begins to understand the New Testament in its context, it becomes clear that some conceptions of the Bible are inadequate. I have gone through a metamorphosis over the last decade and after the class my wife understood why much better. This led her to ask me to chronicle my journey with the Bible and critical scholarship and how my faith has been challenged and has grown.

I grew up in a fundamentalist family. I don't resent it, unlike many who have left fundamentalism behind. My parents were trying to please God as best they could. The importance of the Bible was drilled into me and I loved reading it, especially the narrative portions of the Old Testament. When I was 7 I read through my NIV Bible in its entirety. Needless to say, there was a lot that I did not understand.

When I went to college I was a member of Agape Christian Fellowship at the University of Rochester. It is a multi-ethn…

Finding Our Way Through Genesis Two

The fourth post I ever wrote on this blog was a recap of a talk I heard John Walton give at a meeting of the Wheaton-Naperville chapter of the ASA. Four years later I had the opportunity to hear him speak on Genesis 2 at the same venue. As it was then, it was a complete pleasure to hear him speak. His exegesis was fascinating and his manner engaging.

Walton began the talk by asking whether Genesis 2 is a detailed recounting of day 6 of the Genesis 1 narrative or if it's at some point later in the narrative. One problem he points out with the first option is that you have a different creation order in Genesis 2 than in Genesis 1. Additionally, he notes that every other time in Genesis where you have an account that is synoptic of the one preceding, it is a story about two brothers. Walton, then, finds it likely that Genesis 2 tells a story from some point in time after day 6.

Next Walton tackled the occurrences of 'Adam' in Genesis 1-5. 'Adam' in 1:26-2:5 is referri…

John 1:35-51: von Wahlde's Composition Theory

In this series of posts (no idea how many there will be), I will mark up the NRSV text as von Wahlde does his own translation to distinguish which edition the material comes from. Plain type will represent first edition material; italics, second edition; and bold face, third. 35The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is …

John: An Introduction to Urban von Wahlde's Theory of Composition

The week of September 9th I took a staycation. One of the things I did during that time was to begin to engage with Urban von Wahlde's recent commentary on the gospel of John. I am keenly interested in the Christology of John, so I wanted to get one more recent commentary. In my first two posts, which cover the first 34 verses of the gospel, I had not commented at all on any of the source theories as I by and large found them unsubstantiated. It seems clear that there is some sort of editing process, but I did not think anyone had provided adequate criteria for determining what material came from what literary strata.

Enter von Wahlde's commentary. He has provided both criteria and an explanatory framework for studying the composition history of the gospel. At the moment I am not yet certain if von Wahlde is correct, but if he is, it marks a major advancement in our understanding of the development of early Christology (and impacts our doctrine of Scripture as well). Along wit…

John 1:35-51: Let's be Clear About Who Jesus Is

35The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).43The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44Now Philip was fro…

Exploring the Christian Way of Life: The Identity of Jesus Part 4

This is the fourth and final part of a paper on the identity of Jesus. Here are parts one, two, and three.

Luke expands upon Jesus salvific role more fully in his announcement story. Fitzmyer is very perceptive in this regard, subsuming soteriology under Christology.[1] Jesus is the controlling category and his salvific action flows out of his personal identity. In the Magnificat in Luke 1:46-56 there is the repeated theme of mercy. God is showing his mercy to Israel through Jesus. It is by God’s merciful act through Jesus that God would fulfill the promises to Israel.[2] Jesus was the coming redeemer. This is fully consonant with the Jewish messianic expectations described above. This was his role, from conception.[3] Verses 52-53 give the clearest explanation of Jesus program: ‘52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty’ (NRSV). Jesus was going to bring divine victory, bu…

Exploring the Christian Way of Life: The Identity of Jesus Part 3

This is part three of a paper on the identity of Jesus. Here are part one and part two.

We’re getting there in our portrait of Jesus, but we still have more work to do. Mark may provide us with the major brushstrokes, as indeed what we have said could have been drawn from Matthew, Mark, Luke, or Paul (e.g., Rom 1:1-7). What does John have to say? The prologue (John 1:1-18) contains the fullest summary of John’s vision of Jesus. Those 18 verses provide us with several avenues for exploration, but I want to focus on one in particular. First, let’s look at the first 5 verses.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:1-5 NRSV)

According to John 1:1, Jesus is th…

Exploring the Christian Way of Life: The Identity of Jesus Part 2

This is part two of a paper on the identity of Jesus. For part 1, click here.

9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’ (Mark 1:9-11 NRSV)

Much ink has been spilled over why Jesus was baptized. For the task at hand, I think that question can be sidestepped. What happened during the baptism is far more important than trying to ascertain why Jesus would have undergone a baptism of repentance. At any rate, Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan. During the baptism, Jesus had a remarkable experience, an apocalyptic experience. Marcus does an excellent job of detailing the apocalyptic elements of the text.[1]  Before we get into those elements we need to explore the Old Testament background. There are at least three key allusi…