Monday, 19 March 2018

Lausanne Global Analysis 7, 2 (March 2018)

The latest issue of Lausanne Global Analysis, from The Lausanne Movement, is available online from here, including pdf downloads.

In the issue overview, editor David Taylor writes:

In this issue, we examine India’s water crisis and ask how Christians can be part of the solution; we consider how a global versus international organizational model can help in the unfinished task of reaching the unreached; we ask what it means to live in global integrity; and we analyse the challenges of the grace approach to Muslims and the need to balance grace with truth.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Echoes of Exodus

You know how it is, you wait for ages for one book called Echoes of Exodus to come along, and then two arrive at the same time:

Bryan D. Estelle, Echoes of Exodus: Tracing a Biblical Motif (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2018).

Alastair J. Roberts and Andrew Wilson, Echoes of Exodus: Tracing Themes of Redemption through Scripture (Wheaton: Crossway, 2018).

I wanted to do some study in Exodus during 2018, and will be starting with these, both of which I’m confident, based on previous work of all three writers, will be excellent showcases of evangelical biblical theology.

There is a pdf excerpt of the one by Alastair Roberts and Andrew Wilson here. They also talk about the book in an episode of the podcast ‘Mere Fidelity’ (here), to which they are both regular contributors.

Alastair links to a recent talk of his on Exodus on his blog (here), much of which is summarised in his 10 Things You Should Know about the Exodus’.

The Asbury Journal 72, 2 (2017)

The latest issue of Asbury Journal, containing the below main articles, a set of essays honouring the legacy and teaching of Old Testament scholar John Oswalt.

The entire issue is available as a pdf here.

Bill T. Arnold
A Singular Israel in a Pluralistic World
The question of Israel’s distinctiveness in the ancient Near East was a central concern of the biblical theology movement in the mid-twentieth century. The excessive claims and overstatements of that movement were corrected later in the twentieth century. Most scholars today assume the question is settled in a consensus that Old Testament Israel was not distinctive, and was completely at home in the ancient world in every respect. This paper explores three ways in which ancient Israel was indeed at home in ancient Near Eastern culture, while also suggesting ways in which Israel’s religious convictions led to a genuinely unique profile in the ancient world.

Daniel I. Block
A Prophet Like Moses? Who or Why?
This paper examines the Hebrew understanding of Moses’ statement about a “a prophet like me” that YHWH would raise up in Deuteronomy 18:15. Here it is examined within its larger context of verses 9-22, with a comparison of the prophetic role of Moses held up against the role of diviners and fortunetellers in other regional religious traditions. The role of this scripture for a Jewish understanding of future prophets is highlighted as opposed to any messianic interpretation of the text.

Christina Bosserman
Seeing Double: An Iconographic Reading of Genesis 2-3
This paper examines the role of visual literacy in the construction of biblical narrative, by asking how visual images in the ancient Near East might have been understood by biblical writers and how these understandings (or misunderstandings) may have influenced the development of the biblical text. In particular, the issue of visual illiteracy is examined in light of Mesopotamian seals with images similar to the Garden of Eden story found in Genesis 2-3, and how these visual images might have resulted in the confusion of one or two trees in the center of the Garden.

Joseph R. Dongell
Paganism, Wesley, and the Means of Grace
John Wesley, the 18th century English reformer and father of Methodism, can be read with justification as the leader of a Christian renewal movement whose deepest underpinnings lay squarely in the Old Testament. I will identify three primary anchorages, describing the first two briefly before treating the third more extensively. To put it succinctly, I claim that Wesley cast the goal of his vision as the love commanded for God and neighbor in Deut. 6:4-5 and Lev. 19:18, identified the content of that love in terms of the Mosaic Law itself, then urged the attainment of such love through practicing the Means of Grace in a manner congruent with the theology of Malachi 3:6-12.

Nancy Erickson
Isaiah’s Model House
Isaiah’s scrutiny of idol fashioning in 44:6–20 provides a window into his understanding of image making in the ancient Near East. The prophet’s descriptions are a symptom of his shared perception, or the common cognitive environment, of the ancient world in which he lived; this includes information gathered from the discipline of biblical archaeology. Based on the cultic literary context of Isaiah 44, a nuance of the usual meaning of the Hebrew term בית , and the prophet’s larger shared environment attested by the material culture of the ancient Near East, I suggest Isaiah’s use of בית in 44:13b assumes a “model house.”

L. Daniel Hawk
A Prophet Unlike Moses: Balaam as Prophetic Intercessor
The Balaam narrative (Numbers 22:1-24:25) is fraught with textual and theological incongruity. A narrative analysis of the corpus, however, reveals the incongruities as literary devices that render Balaam as a prophetic anti-type in contrast to Moses. While both Balaam and Moses are obedient messengers who speak the words of Yhwh, their ministry as intercessors manifests vastly different understandings of Yhwh. Both figures try to change Yhwh’s mind. Balaam does so through ritual manipulation and with the idea that Yhwh can be induced to curse what Yhwh has blessed. Moses, however, directly appeals to Yhwh for mercy in response to a divine decree of destruction. The prominence and ambiguous rendering of the Balaam narrative therefore reflects its importance in assisting Israel to discern trustworthy versus untrustworthy prophets.

Michael D. Matlock
The Function of Psalmic Prayers in Chronicles: Literary-Rhetorical Method in Conversation With Ritual Theory
The content, location, and integration of each recorded and reported prayer text in the narrative of 1-2 Chronicles largely determines the forceful rhetorical functions of prayer within the narrative contexts and helps to establish early Jewish identity in the Second Temple period. The editors of the book adapt prayers to new settings and distinct needs of the faith community. Through the discourse of psalmic prayer (1 Chr 16:8-36; 16:41; 2 Chr 5:13; 6:40-42; 7:3; 7:6; and 20:21) in relationship to elements of ritual, ideas may become embodied and appropriated by the participants of these prayers.

Brian D. Russell
The Song of the Sea and the Subversion of Canaanite Myth: A Missional Reading
By means of explicit links to the Ugaritic Baal Cycle (CAT 1.1–1.6), the Song of the Sea (Exodus 15:1b–18) models missional engagement with the late Bronze/early Iron Age cultures in which Israel emerged, and in the process enhances Israel’s presentation of Yhwh as the true King of the cosmos. By subverting the mythic worldview of the Baal Cycle, the Song implants a new view of creation and reality into God’s people while serving as a witness to the nations of a different type of God.

Lawson G. Stone
“I’m Gonna Make You Famous”: Joshua 6:23-27
“So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.” (Josh 6:27)

The greatest of the Egyptian Pharaohs, Ramses II provides a dramatic foil highlighting the Old Testament presentation of the figure of Joshua, a contemporary of Ramses. The accomplishments of each gave them reason to believe their contributions would be lasting, but ultimately only one changed the world, while the other was largely forgotten except by historians and archaeologists. The fame of Ramses arose from his arrogant exercise of power, while the fame of Joshua was bestowed on him as a faithful successor of Moses in serving Yahweh.

One of the most conspicuous features of the legacy of John N. Oswalt is his biblical preaching. His ability to focus the vital life of the biblical story and juxtapose it with contemporary experience consistently challenges and delights those who hear him. This is a sermon preached at Asbury Theological Seminary October 18, 2016. I wrote this sermon thinking of my professor and mentor, who also introduced me to Shelly’s poem “Ozymandias” which he would recite from memory in class.

David L. Thompson
Yet Another Try on Job 42:6
This paper examines the final statement of Job in response to Yhwh’s speech, which is often translated as “Therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” This paper argues that there are problems with the translation, with the Hebrew for “relent” being used, and not the word for “repent.” It also argues from other uses of the expression “dust and ashes” that this may be a phrase used to refer to Job’s humanity. In this sense, Job agrees that he has spoken beyond his competence with Yhwh and relents regarding the weakness of his humanity, which is not a sin, or something for which repentance is necessary.

From the Archives: G. Herbert Livingston and the Archaeology of Ai

Book Reviews

Friday, 16 March 2018

Mission Frontiers 40, 2 (March-April 2018)

The March-April 2018 issue of Mission Frontiers, published by the U.S. Center for World Mission, contains a number of articles on the theme of ‘Movements: Learning to Cross the “Bridges of God”’.

Editor Rick Wood writes:

‘Whenever a person from a people or culture where the gospel has become indigenous seeks to go out to make disciples cross-culturally, that person is in danger of extracting new believers from their native culture, family, community and people to join a new artificial family of faith, thereby destroying the natural “bridge of God” for the gospel that this person could provide...

‘What happens if rather than extracting people from their culture, family or clan; we were to work to keep the new believer within their family to share the biblical truths they are learning with their family and other relational connections?’

Individual articles can be accessed from here, and the whole issue can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Centre for Public Christianity (March 2018)

Among other items of interest, the Centre for Public Christianity has posted a ‘Life and Faith’ podcast on ‘how Florence Nightingale, Hannah Marshman, and Harriet Beecher Stowe changed the world’, and an audio interview with Brian Rosner on ‘one of our culture’s most urgent questions: Who am I?’ (picking up the topic of hist most-recent book, on identity).

Friday, 9 March 2018

Preach Magazine 14 (2018)

I had the privilege recently, on behalf of LICC, of commissioning and editing the main features for a themed issue of Preach magazine on ‘whole-life preaching’.

The Leaders of Worship and Preachers Trust who publish the magazine have kindly allowed LICC to make pdfs of the copy available online, from here (following a simple sign-up procedure).

The magazine nicely complements the online resource a few of us put together, which is available here.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Knowing and Doing (Spring 2018)

The Spring 2018 edition of Knowing & Doing – ‘A Teaching Quarterly for Discipleship of Heart and Mind’ – from the C.S. Lewis Institute is now available online (from here), and contains the following articles:

Joel Woodruff
President’s Letter – Would You Take This Job?
In this President’s Letter, C.S. Lewis Institute President Joel S. Woodruff shares highlights of the new features and layout of our quarterly Knowing & Doing publication.

Aaron Welty
The Heroics of Weakness
Aaron Welty lives an active life with cerebral palsy. While he has prayed for healing, he states that God has provided an unexpected prescription, showing that perseverance is the unexpected — and greater — miracle. In this article, Welty observes that truthfully we’re all weak in ways visible and invisible. He argues, however, that weakness can unexpectedly draw others toward a deeper understanding of who God is — and who we are as His creation — if we embrace it.

Thomas A. Tarrants
Suggestions for Spending Daily Time with God
Tom Tarrants observes that God desires an intimate, personal relationship with His children and calls us to know, love and serve Him and His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. As we do so, we will experience joy and delight. One of the means by which we can grow closer to God is by setting aside time each day to quietly read and reflect on God’s Word, lift our prayers to Him, and give thanks and praise to Him for who He is and for His goodness to us. In this article, Tarrants offers helpful suggestions that will aid you in developing your daily time with God and growing to know Him better and love Him more.

Randy Newman
Amazing Graces: How Complex the Sound!
God’s free gift of salvation, based on Jesus’s atoning sacrifice on the cross, stands out as unparalleled in the world of religions. This is worth deep reflection and appreciation. It also poses a challenge in communicating this rare concept to outsiders. In this article, Randy Newman examines the reality of the grace of the gospel and offers suggestions for communicating it to people who may not know what we’re talking about.

Edward Glancy
An Encouragement to Read (or Reread) John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress
After the Bible, John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress is the best-selling Christian book of all time, and for centuries was widely read and highly influential in evangelical households. In recent years, however, this book has been read by fewer people, in part due to its now archaic language.  In this article, Edward Glancy recommends this classic book and passes on a number of tips for reading it today.

David Glade
Poem: The Good Wine
In each issue of Knowing and Doing we include a poem as part of our desire to promote discipleship of the heart and mind. Poems stir affection, inspire devotion and stimulate emotions. No wonder the Scriptures contains so many of them! And by the way, C.S. Lewis loved poetry.

Hugh Latimer
Sermon: On Christian Love
An inspiring classic sermon from the pulpit of Hugh Latimer that we hope will be a blessing to you.