Ep39: Paul and Women in the Church

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How to Approach Difficult Bible Passages

As a teacher, I am regularly asked about Bible passages and the theology they convey. Sometimes the questions are straightforward; other times, not so much. Some time back, for example, as I was innocently trying to lead our community group through Romans 8:18-30, I was asked how to interpret verses 29-30 in light of that not-at-all-discussed-among-Christians topic of Predestination and Freewill. It happens.

The vast majority of the time, I am more than happy to dig into a text and explain what I think and why. Having been privileged to study under some brilliant Biblical scholars (and having read many more), I am all too eager to hold forth on the Scriptures, and I genuinely hope that my discussion helps those listening. However, in the past several years I have discovered a more fruitful approach to addressing these questions: walking through Bible passages with people and training them how to read and interpret wisely. Continue reading

Reflections on “Nomadic Text” (Part I)

2370005851562As someone planning a dissertation on “reception history” (albeit it somewhat differently defined and undertaken than Breed), Brennan Breed’s concept of reception history and his application in Nomadic Text offer several potentially fruitful routes forward.

Foremost, Breed offers numerous opportunities for raised awareness of the issues surrounding the field of reception history. First, he rightly highlights the need for a careful definition of reception history and argues for his own take on the application of that definition to biblical studies—“everything is both its own original and own reception” (206). Second, Breed brings his readers into conversation with the semiotic debates and concerns with how to do biblical studies which are informing the development of reception history. His discussions of text, context, and interpretation, even when not directly applicable to my own thought or projects, nonetheless shed light on the flavor and limitations of the field as it is currently constituted. Third, this text helpfully raises awareness of borderlines and their importance in transmission and reception history. For a field which can often unconsciously reify borders and then proceed as if inquiry cannot transcend those limitations, Breed’s engagement with liminality and identifying and traversing borderlines provides a much needed paradigm correction. Finally, the engagement with Hebrew Bible-centered biblical studies provides a much needed expansion of horizons and methodology. For this reader, at least, Breed’s presentation stands as a stark reminder that other (even closely related) fields bring different concerns and practical realities to the table, factors which may fruitfully be brought to inform conversations within our own studies. In all of these ways, Breed rightly raises awareness about the field of reception history in such a way as to better inform the operations of biblical studies and the history of Christianity. Continue reading

Exodus from Bondage?

lukeResponse to “Exodus from Bondage: Luke 9:31 and Acts 12:1-24” by Susan Garrett

In her article “Exodus from Bondage: Luke 9:31 and Acts 12:1-24,” Susan Garrett argues that Luke employed a soteriology of exodus, wherein Jesus (and to a lesser extent, through thematic recapitulation, Peter) stood as true Israel and freed his people from bondage to Satan. Central for this paper is the collective memory of Israel, which Garrett suggests regularly drew upon the Exodus paradigm as a source of historical renewal for Israel. Picking up on these themes, Luke cast Jesus’s journey to Jerusalem as the faithful journey of Moses to the Promised Land. Culminating in his passion and resurrection, Jesus leads the better exodus and leads the people of Israel from bondage to Satan. Whereas ancient Israel sought to inherit the land, Luke indicates that only through the formation of the Christian community in Jerusalem—the Christ-follower inheritance of the land—may God’s promise to Abraham truly be fulfilled. Continue reading