“Christians have become utterly inured to the cross” (p1). With this opening volley, Thomas Andrew Bennett in Labor of God provocatively challenges the church to revisit its thinking and speaking of the cross. Our images, concepts, and explanations Jesus’ work have become so familiar they have lost the scandal of the cross—they no longer shock. However, Bennett does not merely want to lament and deconstruct; he offers a solution to this problem. Bennett finds the solution in the freshness of a long-discarded image: the cross as labor.
Category: Books (page 2 of 47)
The general, or Catholic, letters of James, Peter, John and Jude are the “final frontier” of NT studies (xiii). If it’s true that these letters are neglected individually individually, they are even more neglected as a unit. Darian Lockett’s Letters from the Pillar Apostles aims to remedy this neglect. His goal is “a sustained argument for reading the Catholic Epistles as an intentional, discrete collection set within the New Testament” (xvi).
This review first appeared in Kesher Journal, with small modifications. Paul persists as a polarizing and puzzling figure within and without the church and academy. Judging by the book of Acts, this was no less true in the first century! But are we stumbled by the same things as his contemporaries? Paula Frederiksen, author of Paul: The Pagans’ Apostle, insists that we misread Paul if we neglect his thorough Jewishness and imminent apocalyptic expectations; “racing on the edge of the End of time” (xii).
Upon turning to Christ, Paul considered his past in Judaism and any other legalistic systems of salvation as “crap” (Phil 3:8). At least, that’s how we have heard this passage taught. But did Paul think this way? Are identity markers, such as Torah-observance and circumcision for Jews, really abolished when one follows Christ? Are Christians a “third race,” neither Jew nor Gentile? Christopher Zoccali’s Reading Philippians After Supersessionism reconsiders these assumptions found in Christian tradition and modern scholarship when it comes to Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
It is a common (mis)understanding that “the Old Testament God” is one of wrath, while “the New Testament God” is one of grace and love. The usual response is that in fact Jesus spoke more about hell than anyone else in scripture. But what exactly did he say about hell? And what did he mean? There are several different words and concepts that he used, and “hell” is an unhelpful word to summarize them all. The Geography of Hell in the Teaching of Jesus is Kim Papaioannou’s published dissertation from Durham that tackles these questions and texts.
It’s tempting to begin this review by repeating my introduction to David Mitchell’s Messiah Ben Joseph review. The details of Middle Ages Jewish messianic hope are surprising and fascinating. One particularly influential text of the time is Sefer Zerubbabel (“the book of Zerubbabel”), and so Martha Himmelfarb has devoted an entire book—Jewish Messiahs in a Christian Empire—to it.