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Review: The New Christian Zionism ed. Gerald McDermott

Like many in my age group, my upbringing was filled with New Year prophecy updates and Left Behind novels. Growing up in the Calvary Chapel family (and still happily in it!), this was my bread and butter. But also like many my age, I have found myself reconsidering some childhood assumptions. In light of the modern Christian shift against supporting a national state and prophetic future for Israel, The New Christian Zionism is an opportunity to reconsider a dominant but former consensus of the past, but with fresh argumentation for a fresh generation.

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Review: Paul and the Gentile Problem by Matthew Thiessen (Part 2)

9780190271756In this post I am continuing my review of Matthew Thiessen’s Paul and the Gentile Problem. Previously, I briefly summarized the book’s argument. In this second post, I offer my evaluation.

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Review: Paul and the Gentile Problem by Matthew Thiessen (Part 1)

9780190271756Those who have seen The Sixth Sense will recall that bombshell moment, when everything we thought we “saw” was wrong, and we realized we would have to re-watch – or at least re-think – the entire movie. Suddenly, scenes that “clearly” communicated one thing are revealed to communicate another. A silent meal between husband and wife, on first viewing appeared to reveal marital conflict, but when re-watched becomes something else entirely. Matthew Theissen in Paul and the Gentile Problem recognizes that our reading of Scripture can be similar. We all have the same data, but changing one’s presuppositions, or sometimes simply the details of a single interpretation, may require a re-reading of the whole. This is seen clearly in the Old and New Perspectives on Paul, where the same texts are used to reach different conclusions. However, Thiessen believes both viewpoints are faulty! In fact, they are both faulty in the same way: both the Old and New “believe that Paul’s letters contain substantial criticisms of Judaism” (p8). In contrast, Thiessen believes Paul did not reject Judaism as legalistic (Old) or ethnocentric (New), but as “the wrong solution to the gentile problem” (p14). But what of Paul’s criticisms of the Law? This is where the movie needs to be re-watched, so to speak. When we recognize that Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, and as such, wrote specifically to Gentiles, all becomes clear. Paul’s polemical words regarding the Law are not a critique about the Law itself, but about the Law applied to Gentiles.

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Review: The Hermeneutics of the Apostolic Proclamation by Matthew Bates

The heart of the Christian faith is not ideas, truisms, or proverbs, but rather, an event. In particular, a series of events constituting one meta-event concerning the person of Christ: the incarnation, life, death, burial, descent to Hades, resurrection, appearances to others, ascension, and session at God’s right hand. This “Christ-event” has always been central to the faith, and in The Hermeneutics of the Apostolic Proclamation, Matthew Bates applies this paradigm to Paul’s own reading of the Hebrew Scriptures (the OT). For Bates, “Paul received, utilized, and extended an apostolic, kerygmatic narrative tradition centered on key events in the Christ story as his primary interpretative lens” (p2). In other words, Paul’s own interpretive center is the story of Christ.

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It’s not too late: Read the Bible in 2017 with the Bible Project

Just a very hastily typed post to recommend The Bible Project, a group that I absolutely love. They have a Bible reading plan that links up with videos overviewing the literary and theological features of each Biblical book. They finished this last year and I watched virtually all of them. It’s not too late to start this year!

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My Digital Seminary in Books (2016)

For me (and many others), December is a month for retrospection. Every New Year’s Eve, Natasha (my wife) and I discuss our hopes for the following year and what we saw in the year now past. This seems a good place to do something similar with books and the ideas that have influenced me. Below are my 9 most impacting Biblical studies books I read this year. These are books that profoundly excited new interest in, opened my mind to, or deepened my love for, a given subject. I also think these are objectively great books, but since there are tons of great books, this list is entirely subjective.

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