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).
Category: New Testament (page 2 of 16)
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.
As the latest entries for the Story of God series, the 1, 2 & John volumes face an ironic problem. Constantine Campbell recognizes that the Johannines “seem more detached from the biblical narrative than most other parts of the New Testament” (p1). There are many odd features about these letters, but trying to read them in light of the grand story is a challenge. Fortunately for the reader, Campbell has to face this challenge head on.
[Update: 14/03/18. After some reflection and a conversation with the author, I softened my critique a little to reflect my current perspective.] Western Christians exist in a sub-culture of “prepackaged…definitions of belief, faith, works, salvation, heaven, and the gospel that in various ways truncate and distort the full message of the good news about Jesus the Messiah that is proclaimed in the Bible” (p2-3). With this opening volley of Salvation by Allegiance Alone, Matthew Bates is on the offense, and Christianity-lite is in his crosshairs.
Karen Jobes, having written on the General Epistles already, is a fine choice for this commentary on the Johannine Epistles. Two distinctives set her 1, 2, & 3 John commentary apart from others. First, Jobes is unconvinced that 1 John responds to (proto-)Gnosticism. She also considers John’s Gospel as the interpretive framework for the Johannines. These two factors influence her opinions on the text.