Friday, January 29, 2010

Paul's Use of the OT

Romans 1:16-17 stands as one of the great statements of the apostle Paul, capped by Paul's quotation of Habakkuk 2:4. Notice the slight difference in Paul's quote from the OT context:

Romans 1:17
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, "The one who is righteous will live by faith." ( δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται)

Hab. 2:4 MT
Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith. (וְצַדִּ֖יק בֶּאֱמוּנָת֥וֹ יִחְיֶֽה)

Hab. 2:4 LXX
If he should draw back, my soul has no pleasure in him: but the just shall live by my faith. ( δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεώς μου ζήσεται)

Richard Hays writes in his book:

In the Hebrew text of Habakkuk, God's answer to the prophet is an exhortation to keep the faith: "The righteous one shall live by his faithfulness," that is, the person who remains faithful will be rewarded in the end by God. The LXX, however, has reinterpreted the dictum as a promise about the character of God: "The righteous one shall live by my faithfulness," that is, God's own integrity in preserving the covenant with Israel will ultimately be confirmed. As Paul allows the quotation to reverberate into the text of Romans he elides the crucial personal pronoun, so that we hear only "the righteous one shall live by faithfulness." Whose faithfulness? We are not told. The ambiguity thus created allows the echoed oracle to serve simultaneously as a warrant for two different claims that Paul has made in his keynote formulation of the gospel: in the gospel God's own righteousness is revealed; and the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.

I think Hays comment is very shrewd and Paul's use of the Scripture is brilliant!

The Maker

One of my favorite bands is Dave Matthews Band, and here is Dave Matthews jamming with Tim Reynolds... great song:

"The Maker" (by Daniel Lanois)

Oh, oh deep water, black and cold like the night
I stand with arms wide open
I've run a twisted line
I'm a stranger in the eyes of the Maker
And I could not see for the fog in my eyes
I could not feel for the fear in my life

From across the great divide
In the distance I saw the light
Of John Baptist walking to me with the Maker
My body is bent and broken by long and dangerous sleep
I can't work the fields of Abraham and turn my head away
I'm not a stranger in the hands of the Maker

Brother John, have you seen the homeless daughters
Standing there with broken wings
I have seen the flaming sword
There over east of Eden
Burning in the eyes of the Maker
Burning in the eyes of the Maker
Burning in the eyes of the Maker

Oh, river rise from your sleep
Oh, river rise from your sleep
Oh, river rise from your sleep

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Apparently, Apple had this huge announcement today and this is what people were waiting for:

Is this a revolution? I wouldn't mind having all of my books on this thing to read at night... I remember when Apple almost went out of business with the PC taking over and the Mac losing steam, my how things have changed. What it'll cost ya:

iPad = Arm and a leg

What do you think?

Monday, January 25, 2010

One more week...

(1) until I begin my last semester at Talbot. Taking a good load of classes I'm really looking forward to plus an independent study I'm hoping to do on Second Temple literature.

(2) until the rest of my applications are due. I didn't really care applying to colleges, but this one is actually important to me, so I'm working hard at it.

(3) until the end of January! The days are flying by so quickly...

On a random note, check out the illusions below!

1. The picture looks like it's moving, but it's not animated!

2. There is some type of face in this picture, but apparently I have absolutely no "right brain" functions because I can barely see anything! Do you see anything!?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Synoptics vs. John

In a subsection titled, "The Question of the Kingdom of God," R. Brown says:

"The omission in John of the formula basileia tou theou, "kingdom of God [or of heaven]," except for 3:3, 5, is a difficult problem, although not so formidable an obstacle to Johannine ecclesiology as it might first seem. The Synoptic emphasis on the basileia making itself felt in Jesus' activity seems to have become in John an emphasis on Jesus who is basileus ("king") and who reigns. John refers to Jesus as king fifteen times, almost double the number of times that this reference occurs in any of the other Gospels... If the Synoptic basileia is like leaven working in a mass of dough, the Johannine Jesus is the bread of life. If there is a Synoptic parable of the shepherd and the lost sheep, the Johannine Jesus is the model shepherd. If the Synoptics record a parable where the basileia is like the vineyard that shall be handed over to others (Matt 21:43), the Johannine Jesus is the vine. This change of emphasis means that in John there is less apparent reference to collectivity than there is in the Synoptic concept of basileia. But we must not exaggerate. If the Johannine Jesus is "the King of Israel" (1:49), he has an Israel of believers to rule over; if Jesus is the shepherd, he has a flock that has to be gathered; if Jesus is the vine, there are branches on the vine."

Raymond Brown, An Introduction to the Gospel of John, 229.

Ancient Hairstyle

One of the more popular hairstyles of modern day for the follicle-challenged is the comb over, popularized by Donald Trump:

I'm reading through Suetonius right now and was surprised to read that the comb over is not a modern invention after all:

"Caesar is said to have been tall, fair and well built, with a rather broad face and keen, dark eyes... His baldness was a disfigurement which his enemies harped upon, much to his exasperation, but he used to comb the thin strands of hair forward from the crown of his head, and of all the honours voted him by the Senate and People none pleased him so much as the privilege of wearing a laurel wreath on all occasions - he constantly took advantage of it."
Divus Julius 45.2

Funny how old styles come around again.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Bird Takes Off

Recently over at 9Marks, J. Mack Stiles (I'm familiar with other 9Marks names, but never heard of him) wrote a long article on the current movement within InterVarsity, which he deemed as IV "consistently and increasingly quickly moving away from the principles and practices which made InterVarsity an influential evangelical force on college campuses."

Prof. Mike Bird took exception to some of the conclusions made by Stiles, and wrote a rejoinder on his own blog. He seems pretty fired up about this one, so go read the two articles and tell me what you think!

As for the personal statements, one down, two more to go. It's raining at near-Noachic proportions here, so for all you Southern Californians, stay dry and drive safe.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Books among other things

So I'm in the process of applying to various schools right now and now I have two weeks before my last semester at Talbot. I ordered a bunch of books the past fews days for the new semester as well as my own personal reading:

Suetonius, Twelve Caesars
Wayne Meeks and John Fitzgerald, The Writings of St. Paul

I also have a couple books I received as review copies as well as BibleWorks 8... apologies to the kind folks who sent them to me, I will get them out as soon as I can.

I've been reading through Raymond Brown's revised introduction to the Gospel of John, and I have to say, it's been a very good read. I have not read anything substantial from Brown (minus the excerpts here and there) but this book is really good. Some of his insights are very insightful and intriguing.

I am also re-reading Wright's Justification and Piper's The Future of Justification because the first time I read it, I read it in a hurry and didn't get to fully consider the implications of each of their perspectives on this issue. Also they will both be at ETS this year, so if I do get a chance to go, I want to know what they're talking about.

The last of the applications are due Feb. 1st, so busy working away at them for the next two weeks!

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I'm waiting around at church for a servants' dinner, so I just had a bunch of thoughts I wanted to post...

(1) I'm currently working on some personal statements that are required by the school applications. Does anyone else find this part to be one of the most difficult parts of the application? I don't mind writing a resume, taking a test, etc., but I'm just not good at "talking myself up", if you know what I mean. Anyone else know what I'm talking about?

(2) GRE is coming up in less than a week. I don't want to end up taking this darned test again so I've set a pretty lofty goal for myself and I have every intention of getting very close to it. But... so many words that you would never ever see again in your life! Example: legerdemain. Let me know if you've ever ran into that word... Math section is not hard and I feel like I can get 800 on it, but they're tricky! If you have any plans to take that test, take a bunch of practice tests, I promise it'll help with your clock-management and problem solving.

(3) IVP Academic has recently released their 23 page PDF of their 2010 catalog. I have this itch to add so many of these books to my 'wishlist', but I will exercise some self-control... for now.

(4) I'm applying to four major research universities for a short research focused degree so I can hopefully get a PhD after that. I'm hoping to land at least one and with good funding (I'm a poor seminarian). I might be swinging for the fences but I will find out in a month or two, so I guess we'll see. Exciting.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Book review

History and Theology in the Fourth Gospel

Author: J. Louis Martyn
Publisher: Westminster John Knox, 2003
Paperback: xvii + 182 pp.


Thanks to Emily Kiefer and the folks at Westminster John Knox for this review copy! I lament this is way overdue because I've been swamped with finals and traveling and getting engaged. Anyway, this book is part of the New Testament Library series, which seems to have a pretty good lineup of scholars writing commentaries on the NT as well as 'Classics' (which this book falls under) and 'General Studies.' J. Louis Martyn's perspective as seen in this book is setting John against Jewish (not Christian) background. There are two major assumptions for Martyn as an impetus for his understanding the Gospel of John: (1) the prevalence of the hostility of "the Jews" toward Jesus & co. representing a genuine historical setting and (2) that this setting could not be that of Jesus and his original opponents. As D. Moody Smith writes in the foreword, "Martyn is actually invoking the modern, form-critical principle that the Gospels bear testimony primarily to the life-setting in which they were produced, and only secondarily to their subject matter."

Martyn states that the problem that often plagues any interpreter of the Gospel of John is the tendency to read this Gospel apart from its original setting. He lists a slew of questions that he will attempt to answer such as: In what general thought-world did John move? Whom did he wish to have as his readers and for what purpose? Where did he live? And as far as method is concerned, Martyn wants to focus on how exactly 'traditional material' has been assumed and reinterpreted by John.

Martyn begins in chapter 1 with a form-critical analysis of John 9. The rest of the book is largely devoted to establishing his thesis of the 'two-level drama' that seems to play itself out in the Gospel of John. Basically, Martyn sees within the fourth Gospel not just facts about the times of Jesus' day but also that of the evangelist and the circumstances surrounding his own life. Martyn understands the motivation for writing the Gospel to have stemmed from a major fallout between the leaders of the Jewish synagogue and the local Christian community.

I think one interesting section of this book is the one titled 'Glimpses into the History of the Johannine Community.' It seems to be an essay which he printed earlier that was included in this book. In this section he traces the development of the Johannine community starting from the 'Early Period' that developed within the synagogue, the 'Middle Period' with its excommunication from the synagogue followed by martyrdom of some of its members, and the 'Late Period,' with the community forming its own theological and sociological identity.

This book was definitely challenging because it assumes one to be well versed in the discussions surrounding the Fourth Gospel. Not only that, Martyn seems to take the reader down many different rabbit holes, filled with many brilliant ideas that are nonetheless conjectures. I think this book is one that I will definitely pick up again in the future to think deeply about the situation surrounding the Gospel of John, and for those interested in that sort of thing, this seems to be a must-read.

EDIT (Jan. 22, 2010): This book would have been much easier and more enjoyable to read if I read Raymond Brown's introduction first...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Interview of NT Wright

Trevin Wax interviews N.T. Wright on his upcoming book, After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters. This is similar to the lecture I heard from him at Fuller which I blogged about recently. An excerpt of this interview:

Trevin Wax: You write that “working on virtue is like learning a language.” How does this understanding of virtue help us rethink the concept of “rewards” in the new heavens and new earth?

N.T. Wright: When you learn a language, your brain literally changes: new connections are made, new possibilities emerge, new habits of mind, tongue, and even sometimes body language emerge and are formed. The result is not, though, that you can speak it for the fun of it, but that you can communicate with people in that language, and perhaps even be able to go and live in the country where that language is spoken, and feel at home there.

This illustration helps to explain one part at least of the well known problem about how “what we do here and now” is umbilically connected to “who we will be in God’s new world”.

The point is that in the new heavens and new earth there is an entire way of life awaiting us, and we have the chance to learn, here and now, the character-skills we shall need for that new way of life – particularly the great three which Paul says will “abide” into God’s future, namely faith, hope and especially love. (All this depends of course on the Spirit, and on the transformative renewal of the mind which Paul speaks about in Romans 12:1-2.)

There is a sense in which being able to live totally by love in God’s new world will be the “reward” for learning the painful lessons of love here and now, but the word “reward” is so often connected with very different kinds of transaction (say, a $1000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a criminal!) that the very word “reward”, though obviously used by Jesus himself, is sometimes hard for us to “hear” in its more positive sense.

Head on over to his blog and read the rest of the interview.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Big news!

So I capped off the 2009 year with two things I'm very proud to share with y'all.

(1) I am now engaged to be married to my new fiancée! Chicago was darn cold this time around, but totally worth it! :)

(2) On a lighter note, I finished off my semester with a 4.0 GPA. While grades aren't everything, it's important for applications, so there ya go.

Looking forward to a new year with new possibilities!