Biblical studies: February 2005 Archives

This is my second post in dialogue with Back of the Envelope's two posts on slavery and Christianity. The first argued that slavery is a matter of degree from absolute autonomy to being under someone's complete control. No one is ever at either extreme, though some have been closer to the extreme on the higher-slavery end of the spectrum. We're all slaves to one degree or another, to our employers and our government if to no one else. This post is now going to consider what the Bible says about slavery. [update: I've continued in this series enough to collect the links to each post all in one post]

This is the fourth post in an ongoing series of reflections on the gospel of Mark, which I haven't been very good at keeping up with. I think at this point I might just abandon it, because the long list of posts I had ready to go disappeared with my hard drive when it failed, and I'm not excited about figuring out again what I wanted to do. Also, I was doing this as I was working through the first half of Mark in a Bible study group that I'm not able to attend this semester because it meets while I'm teaching. I wanted to gather together some of the thoughts I did save in a draft of a post a number of months ago, though. Perhaps at some point I'll decide to do some more of these now and then, but this will be the last I expect to do for now.

What I wanted to do in the post I had saved as a draft was to consider two subtle clues even in the beginning of the book of Mark that run counter to a prevailing view among scholars. A number of respected scholars have claimed that Mark represents an early portrait of Jesus from a time before what the scholars call a higher christology had developed. The idea is that Jesus wasn't perceived to be anything other than the Messiah at first, and eventually he came to be identified as God. This usually puts John's gospel as the height of the high christology, at least within the New Testament itself. They might still consider the creeds a step or two beyond that.

I don't want to challenge the idea that theological understanding developed over time. Nor am I interested in arguing that every nuance to the Johannine portrait of Jesus is in the synoptic gospels, never mind in Mark, the most simple of the synoptics by many measures, including with regard to theological statements. What I want to point out is that the gospel of Mark has two important references even in the first two chapters (in Mark 1:3 and 2:10) to things that entail, but do not make explicit, a fairly high christology.

Universalism and I Peter

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In a comment on my treatment of universalism and Romans 10, Dave said the following:

Also, what about the spirits that Christ preached to who were disobedient in the time of Noah? They were to be judged according to the flesh, but live according to the spirit.(I Peter 3:18-20a and 4:6).

I don't think either I Peter passage teaches universalism. As I started to explain why in a comment, I decided I might as well make it a post, so here it is.

The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society is now online, at least from calendar years 1995-2003. I've found two sites that give access to it. I believe this site is the official one. Articles are in separate PDF files, and each issue's book reviews are all compliled into one PDF. FindArticles also gives access to articles and book reviews from the journal, in this case from December 1997 through September 2004. They list each book review separately, though they don't list the author of the book, just the author of the article, which is a little frustrating. Update: They also have Trinity Journal.

As I was looking through the lists of articles and book reviews, two pieces stood out as worth highlighting for those interested in the issues they raise. One is D.A. Carson's 1997 paper "Reflections on salvation and justification in the New Testament", which analyzes the strains of thought in Catholic and Protestant views on justification and salvation in the light of the developments around that time that brought Catholicism to accept Luther as never having endorsed the view they had declared heretical. In the aftermath of all that, it became pretty clear to me that Protestants and Catholics have largely misunderstood each other on these issues in many ways, and Carson explains exactly how that is.

The other piece I wanted to highlight is also by D.A. Carson. "God, the Bible and spiritual warfare: A review article" looks at the work of Greg Boyd, an open theist, with one of the most thorough and able defenses of traditional understandings of divine knowledge of the future that I've ever read.

This is my seventh post for Joe Carter's collaborative project Jesus the Logician (which would better be described as Jesus' Reasoning).

During the week Jesus spent in Jerusalem before his crucifixion, he spent much of his time in the temple disputing with various groups of religious leaders. Much of what we have recorded in the gospels from those discussions is with the Pharisees and scribes. We have only one recorded discussion with the Sadducees, though it appears in all three of the synoptic gospels (Mark 12:18-27, Matthew 22:23-34, and Luke 20:27-40).

Jesus the Logician Deadline

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Today is the tentative deadline Joe Carter gave for submissions for his collaborative project Jesus the Logician, which would better be described as (Jesus' Reasoning). I have no idea if Joe intends to stick with this as a deadline, but it might be a good idea to finish up any submissions you want to do if you still want to contribute to this (or if you want to contribute any more posts; I have at least one more I'm working on right now on Jesus' interactions with the Sadducees as recorded in Mark 12:18-27, Matthew 22:23-33, and Luke 20:27-40, and I hope to do yet another beyond that if I have time). The list of current entries so far is here.

Update: Joe's tentativeness of the deadline apparently was completely serious. He isn't closing it off just yet. He wants some more entries first, so let's get cracking. Now I have to figure out what I'm going to do for my eighth.

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