Justice and the gospel: Bruce Longenecker on Paul and the poor.

Joel Willits offers a review of my former colleague Bruce Longenecker’s recent book Remember the Poor: Paul, Poverty, and the Greco-Roman World (Eerdmans) over at Euangelion. I have not yet seen a copy, but Bruce was working in these directions before he left St Andrews for Baylor, and I think I can guess something of how the argument goes: although there is not an enormous amount of emphasis in the NT texts on Paul’s ongoing concern for the collection for the church in Jerusalem, or for caring for economically-disadvantaged members of the community, there is some; if we consider the then-prevalent assumption amongst devout diaspora Jews (like Paul…) that charity was an essential component of acceptable worship, then we can reconstruct on the...

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Can you Adam-and-Eve it?

[For non-UK readers, 'Adam-and-Eve' is traditional London Cockney rhyming slang for 'believe'.] Various sources, print and online, highlight a debate that has taken off in the States on the question of the historicity of Adam and Eve as the two parents of the human race. At least one tenured scholar at Calvin College has apparently lost his job over the question. (Google will get you to lots of sources on the question; I couldn’t find one that summed up both the issues and the recent events in an even-handed way, so I decided not to post a link – if someone else knows of a good one, by all means put it in a comment.) On the one hand, we have a claim that the sequencing of human genomes has provided a body of data that is incompatible with an account...

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How much Scripture to preach on?

It won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who knows me, virtually or in real life, that one of the (fairly few) things that annoy me about the contemporary, ‘soft-charismatic’ style of worship that represents the British Baptist mainstream these days is the relative lack of Scripture heard in the services. I’ve written elsewhere about my desire to return to, at least, ‘Old Testament, Epistle, Gospel’ patterns of lectionary reading as opposed to just reading the passage preached on. (We’re just back from holiday in the Lake District, which allowed us to return to the delightful little fellowship at Hawkshead Hill Baptist Church. Three passages of Scripture, read and allowed to mutually interpret, during the sermon;...

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A meditation on the indicative mood

I won’t name the liturgical resource, because it is a good one, a very good one, and does not deserve to be vilified for one slip, but I was glancing through it, and lighted upon the Pentecost service. ‘Consider,’ it invited us, ‘Jesus’ command in Acts 1:8…’Acts 1:8 reads: ἀλλὰ λήμψεσθε δύναμιν ἐπελθόντος τοῦ ἀγίου πνεύματος ἐφ ὑμᾶς καὶ ἔσεσθέ μάτυρες ἔν τε Ἰερουσαλὴμ καὶ [ἐν] πάση τῆ Ἰουδαία καὶ Σαμαρεία καὶ ἔως ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς. (‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be witnesses in Jerusalem,and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’–my tr.) Forgive the grammarian in me, but this is all in the indicative mood, not the imperative mood; there is no...

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An exegetical puzzle in Eph. 5

I have been looking again at Yoder’s Politics of Jesus in preparation for teaching; he writes a chapter on ‘revolutionary submission,’ picking up on the Haustafeln of Eph. 5:21ff., Col. 3:18ff., 1Pet. 2:13ff., &c. He gives cogent reasons for reading these texts as collisions between the radically liberating ethic of Jesus and the patriarchal assumptions of the culture, and so decries both an unthinking assertion of gender equivalence that simply ignores the texts, and a wooden reading that extracts the text from its social context as some timeless normative principle that will guide modern Western egalitarian and nuclear marriages just as effectively as it did the older ones. Yoder’s point was not particularly exegetical, but it, and...

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