Ben Witherington in St Andrews

‘The School of Divinity presents a special series of open lectures byProfessor Ben Witherington (Asbury Seminary, Lexington, KY) Oral Texts and Rhetorical Contexts: Rethinking the Nature of the New Testament (Monday 14th Jan 2-3.30) Will the Real Beloved Disciple Please Rise Up? The Historical Figure of the Beloved Disciple in the Gospel of John (Tues 15th Jan, 2-3.30) Did the Canon Misfire? Rethinking Recent Rethinking about the Canon (Thurs 17th Jan 2-3.30)’ I shall have to miss the first of these, unfortunately, unless I can cancel a long-standing engagement in the south of England, but I’m looking forward to the rest. Ben is a fairly regular visitor to St Andrews, and always worth hearing.

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On no longer being sure whether I ‘believe in’ God

In writing the previous post a footnote occurs to me: is ‘believe in’ the right verb? My gut instinct is that many others are happier: I think the Church (and with it and in it, me) more nearly ‘confesses,’ ‘proclaims,’ and ‘worships’ God than ‘believes in’ Him. Such gut instincts could only be proved or disproved by a decent exegetical and theological analysis of ‘salvation by faith,’ I suppose, but I offer as a first thought that privileging ‘belief’ (or even ‘faith’) over confession and worship might come in part from privileging Paul, or perhaps even a particular reading of Paul, over the rest of Scripture, particularly perhaps the Old Testament. And I am almost...

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On no longer being sure whether I believe in ‘God’

Christmas for me brought one clear message, and one potentially interesting thought. The message came from a series of gifts: by the time I had received a gym ‘stepper’ machine, a new tracksuit and a kit bag, to go with three free sessions at the gym, something was becoming obvious… The thought began with the new leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, who was asked in a radio interview just after his election if he believed in God. He replied ‘No.’ The answer was both clear and succinct, suggesting he is doomed to fail in politics; it was given close enough to the Christmas news drought to provoke a brief media flurry of comment about the place of belief in God, or at least of public declarations of belief in God, in British political life (rather too...

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Bruce McCormack’s TFT lectures (3)

The third lecture, ‘Immutable in Passibility: The Contribution of Karl Barth,’ traced the origins of Barth’s Christology in Dorner and Herrmann. Jason has suggested in a comment on the second of this series that this was the best of the lectures; I would not disagree. It happens it was also the one I chaired. There is a danger with any great theologian that s/he becomes detached from historical context. St Thomas is studied as if Peter Lombard had never written, and Albert the Great had never responded; works on Calvin represent him as springing from nowhere, ignoring half a generation of Reformation debate that is crucial to understanding what he was about; all of us who teach, I fear, have painted the caricature of Barth that has him repudiating all he learnt...

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What N.T. Wright should have said last night (imho…)

Jon (Hi Jon; don’t you get more than enough of my ramblings in class?!) left a comment on the previous post, saying he wanted to ask Tom Wright a question: ‘Can a scientist believe in the resurrection?’ I wasn’t at the lecture, so can’t assess the implied criticism that it didn’t adequately address the title, but the comment got me thinking in the watches of the night. It is/was an odd question to address in a lecture, in that it admits of a trivial empirical answer:- even on the strictest possible definition of ‘scientist’ (say, doctorate; published research; currently employed in the field), there are several dozen scientists in my acquaintance who do believe in the resurrection, and actuality entails possibility (if they do, they clearly can…). So, why might...

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