Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2 Thessalonians 3

You can read the text here.

Paul closes by continuing to encourage the Thessalonians to persevere. Paul, too, was facing opposition for proclaiming the name of Jesus. He requested their prayer that he would have success everywhere he went just as he had success among them and also that he would not be hindered by his opposition. The utmost of confidence is exuded by Paul that God will protect them just as he has been protected. Not only that, Paul is confident that God will work in their hearts to help them stand firm in fidelity and hope because they have the Spirit of the faithful Christ in them.

The last major piece of content in the letter is a warning about a certain type of idleness. For some unknown reason,[1] Some may be tempted to use the expectation of the end to live off of the generosity of others, especially if they were ministering or teaching in the community, but Paul adamantly opposes that and points to his own hard working example in contrast. If one is capable and has the opportunity, they should work, especially if they are going to be meddlesome in the absence of work.[2] Paul concludes this section with a carefully couched rebuke. Those who resist Paul's exhortation to work should not be supported by the community. They should be expelled, both to maintain clear boundaries for the community and for the sake of those who are errant. The goal is not permanent expulsion but correction and restoration.

Paul concludes wishing them peace, the thing they needed most given the trials they were going through. A peace that comes from the presence of the Lord, and on top of that, grace to sustain them.

[1] Both Malherbe and Fee are helpful at cautioning against drawing the conclusion that eschatological expectations led to the disorderliness/idleness.

[2] Disorderliness, not idleness is at issue her (pace the NRSV translation at this point) as Gaventa points out. Malherbe is very helpful in pointing out that this was the exact type of charge typically laid against philosophers.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Books of the Year: 2016

This year has been quite different in terms of my areas of emphasis in my reading. I spent a lot of time reading in both Early and Medieval theology. In many ways it was a strecth for me. I enjoy modern theology a bit and I really enjoy exegesis, but historical theology is a bit more challenging for me. I also have less background in those areas which makes it harder work to read and digest academic work in that field. It was quite productive for me, though and I learned a lot even if it was a work of perseverance at times. Now onto the list:

5. The Sentences Book 3 by Peter Lombard

The Lombard is a greatly underappreciated theologian, especially by Protestants. He was a very careful and thoughtful writer, and certainly far more than just a compiler of earlier opinions as has sometimes been claimed. One of the things I appreciate about him is that he is far more aware of the debt he owes to those came before him than many modern Protestants are. Having a long view of things gives him a better sense of where it is appropriate to be dogmatic and where one should be more cautious in one's opinion. It is only recently that the Sentences has become available in English. I highly recommend it.

Casey provides a very balanced (though at times vitriolic) critique of a number of different approaches to studying the historical Jesus. Throughout, his argument is careful and clearly presented. His primary historical criterion, the ability to reconstruct the saying plausibly in Aramaic is an interesting idea, as was his argument for a very early dating of Mark and its status as an incomplete rough-draft. Definitely a top tier book on the historical Jesus.

3. The Work of Theology by Stanley Hauerwas

In The Work of Theology, Hauerwas supplies us with an end of career look back at his own work and what he thinks is important for a theologian. A pleasant mix of personal reflection and theory made for an engaging and edifying read.

This was an absolutely wonderful book. It laid clear the major lines of Orthodox Trinitarian thought. It should be required reading for all serious students of theology and pastors, especially when there is so much controversy surrounding relations and subordination in the Trinity. Whether they are right or wrong, there is absolutely no doubt that individuals like Bruce Ware and Wayne Grudem have deviated from the way the church in the following century interpreted Nicea.

1. Paul and the Gift by John Barclay

Barclay's book is a game changer in Pauline theology. His main point is to identify a lack of terminological precision in discussions of both Paul's and Early Judaism's understanding of grace and gifts. After clarifying that, he proceeds to make his own argument about how Paul discussed grace and gift in Galatians and Romans. He charts his own course, sure to fully satisfy no one, but hopefully sure to draw everyone back to a careful reading of the text.

Now for the books that came out in 2016 that I am most excited about but have not yet had the opportunity to read.

Hays is one of the best when it comes to the use of the OT in the NT, I hope this work proves to be every bit the classic his book on Paul is.

I have learned a lot about Paul from authors championing a thoroughly Jewish framework for understanding his letters. This should be another nice collection of essays.

3. Colossians by Paul Foster

Colossians has been well covered recently, but I think Foster's commentary could prove to be useful in the way it brings some of the results of recently archaeological investigation of Colossae to bear on the text.

Early Christian devotion to Jesus has been one of the major areas of focus in Early Christian Studies over the last decade. This is the first of four planned volumes and is pursuing a line of argument similar to what I have set forth in my section on Christology in my Exploring the Christian Way of Life series. I hope it deepens and enhances my understanding of how early Christians worshiped Jesus.

1. Romans by Richard Longenecker

Longenecker is a seasoned scholar and the brief time I spent leafing through the commentary really whet my appetite. In a few years from now I'll tackle Romans. I feel fortunate to have Longenecker's work by my side as I'm sure it'll prove a classic to stand next to Cranfield, Moo, Dunn, and Jewett.