And he came down with them and stood on a level place, and a large crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all of Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast district of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases, and those who were troubled by unclean spirits were cured. And the whole crowd was seeking to touch him, because power was going out from him and healing them all.
And he lifted up his eyes to his disciples and said,
Blessed are the poor,
because yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are those who are hungry now,
because you will be satisfied.
Blessed are those who weep now,
because you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.
Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven.
For their fathers used to do the same things to the prophets.
But woe to you who are rich,
because you have received your comfort.
Woe to you who are satisfied now,
because you will be hungry.
Woe, you who laugh now,
because you will mourn and weep.
Woe whenever all people speak well of you,
for their fathers used to do the same things to the false prophets.
But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from the one who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic also. Give to everyone who asks you, and from the one who takes away your things, do not ask for them back. And just as you want people to do to you do the same to them.
And if you love those who love you, what kind of credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good to those who do good to you, what kind of credit is that to you? Even the sinners do the same! And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive back, what kind of credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, so that they may get back an equal amount! But love your enemies, and do good, and lend expecting back nothing, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful!
- Jesus (recorded in Luke vi.17-36)
Thank you, Jesus,
our great God come in the flesh,
taking on the humanity you gave me,
and making clear through your words and deeds,
through your commands and example,
what I am to do and say as your disciple.
May I love my enemies as you commanded.
May I take your words seriously as you desired.
May I bear the Good News today as you expected.
May I sacrifice my life for even the worst of terrorists as you did.
Ἰωάννης ταῖς ἑπτὰ ἐκκλησίαις ταῖς ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ· χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος,…
Darrell Bock recently discussed his use of Bart Ehrman’s The New Testament: An Historical Introduction for this course for his classes. The focus was on the clear bias of Ehrman, and, as I want to bring out, how we need to be very careful and purposeful when reading the man’s works. He has contributed some challenging (and ultimately helpful) texts, but if you’re not well grounded in Christian history, and the history of the canon and its manuscripts, then you could very well fall into Ehrman’s very obvious and meticulous traps.
For example, in treating the authorship of the gospels (all of them), he does not address any of the external evidence for authorship that comes from sources like Eusebius or Irenaeus or any of the canonical church lists. This is historical evidence and ignoring it prejudices his volume’s work, cutting out one of the two key factors one has to address in treating authorship, namely external evidence for a work’s authorship. Vincent Taylor and C. E. B. Cranfield regarded such evidence as decisive in treating this question in terms of Mark’s gospel.
Bart Ehrman hasn’t kept his prejudices out of his work; the popular Misquoting Jesus is a prime example, where they are subtle enough to entrap the unsuspecting and more gullible. But, they are masked within a lot of good information, accurate history, and so forth. Too bad it’s nowhere near comprehensive history, and stays away from balance and a fair presentation of various arguments.
Ehrman has a very strong anti-Christian, anti-God bias that he premises all of his works with. That becomes very clear, as Darrell Bock pointed out, with what Ehrman does not talk about. Especially when discussing the history of New Testament documents. Keep watch. Don’t necessarily not read Bart Ehrman. But, if and when you do, remember to keep watch.
Public Service Announcement for the day.
αποκαλυψις ιησου χριστου ην εδωκεν αυτω ο θεος δειξαι τοις δουλοις αυτου α δει γενεσθαι εν ταχει, και εσημανεν αποστειλας δια του αγγελου αυτου τω δουλω αυτου ιωαννη, ος εμαρτυρησεν τον λογον του θεου και την μαρτυριαν ιησου χριστου οσα ειδεν. μακαριος ο αναγινωσκων και οι ακουοντες τους λογους της προφητειας και τηρουντες τα εν αυτη γεγραμμενα, ο γαρ καιρος εγγυς.
This is the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His true worshippers what must happen soon. And He revealed it by sending a special messenger to His servant John, who gave a witness to what he saw concerning the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
The one who reads out the words of this prophecy, and those who listen and pay attention to what is written in it, are blessed because the time for their fulfillment is incredibly near.
The portion here that got me thinking and meditating more than any other element was the end: “ο γαρ καιρος εγγυς,” which I translated here “because the time for their fulfillment is incredibly near.” I guess a wooden literal translation looks more like
the (ο) for (γαρ) time (καιρος) near (εγγυς)
But simply saying “the time is near” is too ambiguous and non-committal for me. The time of what? When exactly is near? The καιρος, or time, refers to the fulfillment of the words of the prophecy, the message or revealing of “what must happen soon.”
I see the time, the nearness (εγγυς), as clearly imminent. If you look into the meaning and use of the term εγγυς (pronounced engous if you’re interested in sounding it out) throughout the New Testament, εγγυς itself testifies to either some thing or place extremely close in proximity, or, when talking about time, about some event occurring imminently; or, relatively speaking, closer to a matter of days than to millennia. While εγγυς is indefinite, as in not giving you a specific number of days or weeks, there is no question we are supposed to expect the fulfillment of the nearness, of the εγγυς, happening very, very soon. And “soon” did not mean 2,000 or so years later.
Η μεν ουν οδος της ζωης εστιν αυτη· πρωτον, αγαπησεις τον θεον τον ποιησαντα σε· δευτερον, τον πλησιον σου ως σεαυτον· παντα δε οσα εαν θελησης μη γινεσθαι σοι, και συ αλλω μη ποιει.
Now, this is the path of life: First, you will love God, your creator; Second, you will love your neighbor just as you love yourself; And, do not do to others whatever it is that you do not wish happening to you.
This short passage was a little tricky at first; I can tell I’m getting a little rusty in certain areas. That’s why it’s so important to keep your Greek up; a little bit everyday helps a lot.
τον πλησιον σου ως σεαυτον (trans. “your neighbor as yourself”) is a straight copy of either Mat. xxii.39, Mk. xii.31, or Lk. x.27. I would like to think Mark, but it’s more likely something recited so often by the time the Didache was written that the author(s) simply went from memory.
παυλος δουλος ιησου χριστου κλητος αποστολος αφωρισμενος εις ευαγγελιον θεου ο προεπηγγειλατο δια των προφητων αυτου εν γραφαις αγιαις περι του υιου αυτου του γενομενου εκ σπερματος δαυιδ κατα σαρκα του ορισθεντος υιου θεου εν δυναμει κατα πνευμα αγιωσυνης εξ αναστασεως νεκρων ιησου χριστου του κυριου ημων δι ου ελαβομεν χαριν και αποστολην εις υπακοην πιστεως εν πασιν τοις εθνεσιν υπερ του ονοματος αυτου εν οις εστε και υμεις κλητοι ιησου χριστου πασιν τοις ουσιν εν ρωμη αγαπητοις θεου κλητοις αγιοις χαρις υμιν και ειρηνη απο θεου πατρος ημων και κυριου ιησου χριστου (Rom. i.1-7)
Paul’s salutation is formidable. Some would call it long. While reading that passage this morning, immediately my mind went to the prologue of Brother Andrew and Al Janssen’s Secret Believers: What Happens When Muslims Believe in Christ. There, Brother Andrew recalled a correspondense he had with a Muslim political leader. He began the letter to the Muslim “Dear Sir.” In his response, the Muslim wrote, “Dear Brother Andrew. In the name of Allah, the compassionate and the merciful.”
Brother Andrew struggled with the response. Not in the idea of who Allah was, but with the unashamed proclamation of what, to the Muslim, surpassed the importance of anything else he could have said. For Brother Andrew, he felt the need to do likewise in his own response. When the time came, he wrote this:
“Dear _[name left blank]_. In the Name of the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.”
We need to be conscious about opportunities we have to present the triune God to those around us. Sometimes we’ll miss them, but we should take those as chances to grow and adjust our perspective. Most of the time our witness of the triune God is nonverbal. But when we do speak, when we write, do we consider that our words—all words—have meaning and significance? And what we don’t say or fail to say may be just as important as what we do say.
Some thoughts this Thursday evening.
I have been reading through Philip Jenkins’ The Lost History of Christianity. It’s been a mostly enjoyable read, minus a couple minor issues I have with it so far. I believe I’ve reached the meat of the book, starting the explanation behind the dramatic demise of Christianity in the East and Africa. But, our library got in Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus and Jesus Interrupted. I have a feeling those will be requested soon, barring me from extending the checkout, so I decided to pause my Jenkins read and tear through Ehrman’s books first.
I’ve listened to Ehrman in debates and interviews, but have not read any of his works yet: academic, popular (e.g. these two books would fall under that classification) or otherwise. I am familiar with what his conclusions are, but wanted to wrestle through his evidence and argumentation. From what I have listened to, I agree with many of his points, and think he makes a lot of valid, challenging observations.
So far in Misquoting Jesus (I’m just shy of starting chapter 2) Ehrman has given a sensible summary of the early development of the canon and of the Church using written works as authoritative. Much of it I said myself in the Church History class I led last year. But there are some areas I’ve found that sort of bring out the idea that he might be keeping some (possibly) important information from the readers—at least in my mind.
For example, on page 23, first full paragraph, Ehrman talked a little about people writing epistles using the name of an Apostle. In the example, Colossians is “allegedly pseudonymous.” And in Colossians, the author wrote about “the letter written to Laodicea” (Col. iv.16). Ehrman concluded
Evidently Paul—either himself, or someone writing in his name—wrote a letter to the nearby town of Laodicea. This letter too has been lost.
He included a footnote at the end of that passage. The footnote (#6, found on page 220) talked about a couple of forged letters that showed up later on that tried to hold the stature of this lost epistle. What I did was note this case down in the back of my mind. And, yes, here on this blog. What has been bugging me about it is where is the discussion about the letter known as Ephesians possibly (likely?) being that letter to Laodicea? Why is that omitted entirely from the footnote? Why was he limiting the information given to his audience of mostly non-students of textual criticism? Why were we left with the idea of only two options: the letter from the mighty apostle Paul, Scripture as much as his other epistles, either should have been preserved or was totally lost?
He was trying to build his particular case. To Ehrman, there is a big problem with the reliability of the Bible. The matter goes beyond infallibility and inerrancy; we’re talking whether or not anyone can trust anything written in the Scriptures. So it seems to me he has a plan to limit the evidence and argumentation to the information that will swiftly promote (even in subtle ways) his case. I think this particular example was subtle. He could have very easily added another line to the footnote that mentioned the other various possibilities for the epistle to Laodicea.
Then I came to this little passage:
In any event, Jesus’s teachings were soon seen to be as authoritative as the pronouncements of Moses—that is, those of the Torah itself. This becomes even more clear later in the New Testament period, in the book of 1 Timothy, allegedly by Paul but frequently taken by scholars to have been written in his name by a later follower. In 1 Tim. 5:18 the author is urging his readers to pay those who minister among them, and supports his exhortation by quoting “the scripture.” . . .
. . . Evidence comes in the final book that most critical scholars believe was not actually written by Peter but by one of his followers, pseudonymously. (pg. 31, emphasis mine)
Key into what I have italicized: scholars and most critical scholars. That is all well and good. It’s good to bring in the support of scholars not yourself. The problem is he never mentioned even one of the scholars or one source where we might look into that. Ehrman left no footnote anywhere near these passages. Why not mention a couple, especially when you are talking about “most” of them? Would not a reader take a little extra interest in checking out that information on 2 Peter or 1 Timothy? The term “scholar” is as subjective these days as are “good” or “essential.” Alone this is a minor issue. But add it to the last one, and some other parts of the story not being told, and you start to see a trend.
Now, I know full well there is a major underlying problem, and Ehrman is playing off of that problem perfectly. I’m talking about the enormous amount of ignorance and apathy from a great many in the Church when it comes to the Bible. I don’t mean people not reading their Bibles and/or not understanding it. I don’t mean they don’t pay attention to their pastors and Sunday School teachers. I mean there is no education ongoing about the history of the Bible, the story behind the Scriptures. I posed a course on the history of the Bible as a possible Sunday School class at our church come the winter and that idea was shunned. When I covered the topic of how the Bible developed in the Church History course, I did not have the time to handle the subject. The Sunday morning services have not (and will not) cover these issues. I’ve encountered the same sort of experience in the various churches I’ve been a part of during my (relatively short) time. And I am well aware of others—friends or folks I’ve read from or listened to who’ve happened to touch on this lack of instruction (e.g. a recent interview with Daniel Wallace)—who have experienced the same thing.
Getting back to Bart Ehrman’s book, I have found a lot of good points in there. The discussion of the canon, Marcion, Irenaeus, and Athanasius, for instance (pp. 33-36), was a simple and astute summary. Surely he left out more of the story, but he’s not wrong.
The book is an easy read, and I’m able to move along fairly quickly. And that’s in spite of my notoriously slow reading. Takes me way too long to read a stinkin’ book. Anyway, I look forward to getting into his discussion of the scribes and the specific problem areas he comes up with. Of course, all of this leading perfectly into his latest, Jesus Interrupted.
There was a woman caught in the act of adultery. The scribes and Pharisees brought her to Jesus and asked him what should be done. Jesus, after pausing to write something on the ground with his finger, replied, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.”
He then said to the woman, “Go, and sin no more.”
Astounding. Subversive. Wise. Unbiblical.
Wait. What? Unbiblical?
That story as we find it in John’s Good News account probably didn’t happen at all. Maybe a piece of it did. Possibly. There’s always a chance.
We really should just cast it away. I certainly would not mind. It’s really just in the way.
(Keep in mind, none of this is new information. No esoteric revelations here. This has been known for quite a long time. I’m simply packaging the information here in order to lay the foundation for some questions on the Scriptures, in particular to those who maybe haven’t explored these avenues of New Testament studies. And if you are a believer in the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible, I hope you’ll pay keen attention and take a little challenge.)
The story of the woman caught in adultery, known as the Pericope Adulterae, was not a part of John’s gospel initially. We know at least that much. Here are some points to consider:
[At best the passage is a compilation of several apocryphal stories circulating in the early centuries. That's not unheard of.]1 At some point a scribe inserted a version of the story into a later manuscript (maybe in the margin, maybe into a gap he saw). But the story does not belong there. The story never did.
I believe the footnote for this passage in the New English Translation makes the point far better than I ever could:
This entire section, 7:53-8:11, traditionally known as the pericope adulterae, is not contained in the earliest and best mss and was almost certainly not an original part of the Gospel of John. Among modern commentators and textual critics, it is a foregone conclusion that the section is not original but represents a later addition to the text of the Gospel. B. M. Metzger summarizes: “the evidence for the non-Johannine origin of the pericope of the adulteress is overwhelming” (TCGNT 187).2
The passage is not Scripture. But that conclusion is not the point of this post. The fact is most readers of the Bible knew that already; or at least they’ve had that information at their fingertips. I have not come across a New Testament translation that does not have this passage bracketed or at least contain a notation of some kind. The footnotes usually include the point that the earliest (or some) manuscripts do not contain the passage.
But before I get to the heart of it, I think we need to talk briefly about why the passage shows up in our Bibles. Daniel Wallace, professor of NT studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and all around New Testament Greek and manuscript history freak, said that
modern translations’ inclusion of the famous narrative . . . [was] the result of “a tradition of timidity.”3
I recently heard Peter Williams, in a debate with Bart Ehrman wherein they discussed this passage briefly, rightly point out the spurious story was not going to be excluded from modern translations because publishers would sell less Bibles.4 Both Wallace and Williams (as well as Ehrman, I should add) are spot on.
While the strongest and earliest manuscripts do not contain the passage, the Textus Receptus (TR) does. The TR, put together in the early Sixteenth Century, is the basis for the King James Version. Because of the relationship the TR has with the KJV, the TR tends to be the exemplar for what’s known as the Majority Text. As the name indicates, the Majority Text refers to how the Greek text looks in the majority of the manuscripts we have discovered so far. The story exists in this manuscript group.
Anyone holding strictly to the Majority Text (whether that’s specifically the Textus Receptus or not) or even to one of the Majority Text translations (which you find in the King James Only community) have serious textual critical problems to deal with. As I do not have the space and time on this post to discuss the issues, I would welcome you to read a quality article. Wallace wrote a piece that’s on bible.org: The Majority Text and the Original Text: Are They Identical? In essence, Majority Text’ers do not have much of a leg to stand on when declaring the Majority Text is better than looking critically into all the manuscript evidence and seeing the significance of the earlier manuscripts. Back to the NET footnote on this passage:
. . . Therefore the [external] evidence could be summarized by saying that almost all early mss of the Alexandrian texttype omit the pericope, while most mss of the Western and Byzantine texttype include it. But it must be remembered that “Western mss” here refers only to D, a single witness (as far as Greek mss are concerned). Thus it can be seen that practically all of the earliest and best mss extant omit the pericope; it is found only in mss of secondary importance.5
For the sake of clarity, I am not saying we should only be looking at the earliest manuscripts as opposed to using only the majority text, or what the majority of the manuscripts display. I would be in danger if I were to stand firmly on either side. We must use all available resources and be critical of the text, no matter what section we might be focused on at that time. My second year Greek professor years back, Dr. Coombs, used the majority text predominantly, and almost exclusively in our class; I still used the UBS almost exclusively in the class so I could catch the differences (Greek is an oral language, very nice). Dr. Coombs, wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on a comparison between the critical and majority texts (ended up being two volumes). He was very influential in my grasping so early the importance of looking at the full body of evidence.
KJV onlyists tend to be intolerant about this sort of thing, and raise a lot of objections with the differences. I have a KJV on my bookshelf; who doesn’t. The footnote there says
Although Jn. 7:53-8:11 is not found in some ancient manuscripts, the immediate context, beginning with Christ’s declaration, “I am the light of the world,” (8:12) seems clearly to have its occassion in the conviction wrought in the hearts of the Pharisees as recorded in 8:9, and also helps to explain the Pharisees’ words in 8:41. It is therefore to be considered a genuine part of the Gospel. (emphasis mine)
The footnote did not indicate what those “some ancient manuscripts” are and their immense historical significance. The note seemingly ignores the historical record, emphasizing the bias of the interpretation over and against the evidence. The note did not mention how the story as found in the Textus Receptus did not show up in the manuscript records until relatively late in history, as well as how much the story varies in different manuscripts.
Here’s a quick sidebar on footnotes. I truly wonder how many Bible readers check the footnotes. Not comparing my text here to Scripture, but did you happen to check out footnote 1 above? I placed a sentence in brackets and gave it a notation. If you had read the notation (which, I guess, you can still do when you’re done with the article) you would have learned a little tid-bitty about me. While I can’t track it, I’m wondering how many folks saw the brackets and the footnote and scrolled down to see what that was about.
And here’s where we get to the heart of this post. After going through the probably very disjointed discussion above, here’s why I believe it matters so much whether or not we continue to include this passage in our Bibles, and especially have this passage taught from the pulpits or Sunday School classes. From a Christianity Today article in 2008:
Wallace said pastors have a responsibility to communicate the truth of this text to their congregations. “We need to be as thoroughly biblical as we can be … [There] is a huge amount of ignorance that we’re catering to in the Christian public.
“A person hearing these words should recognize that they have no authority as authentic words of Jesus,” he said. Christians who are reading the story, he said, should give it the same authority as any other unsubstantiated early Christian teaching about Jesus.6
The words of the Pericope “have no authority as authentic words of Jesus.” The average church attender, the average Christian listening to their preacher, has (at minimum) the subconscious expectation that the words presented in our Bibles are the inspired words of our Lord, and the messages brought forth from the pulpits using our Bibles are conveying the inspired words of God.
My hope is that future publications of the Bible exclude the text and leave a footnote, instead of the other way around. A perfect example is what the NET, NIV, NLT, and others have done with Jo. v.3-4: omit the text entirely. The KJV and NKJV still display the text. Problem is, like the Pericope Adulterae, this is a later addition. Looking at and comparing the textual apparatus for Jo. v.34 and Jo. vii.53-viii.11, it looks quite likely that there is more support for omitting the Pericope than the disturbed water verse. Another great example is the famous (or, rather, infamous) trinity clause in 1 Jo. v.7. That is another later addition that is omitted from virtually all translations except the KJV. We can and should do the same for this very famous story of a woman caught in adultery and loved on by Jesus, admittedly a favorite of so many devout followers of Christ. Omit the verses, leave a footnote, and educate the readers. Educate the congregation on the Scriptures.
Let’s say I was in Tanzania, a member of a team translating John’s Gospel into Bende. The translation team is supposed to be creating a text of the Gospel to give to the Bende people so they can have at least part of the Word of God. But even if they only have part, that part is supposed to be the Word of God. From what the translation team has told the people, from what other missionaries who have interacted with the people have stressed: the Bible is the Word of God. How can we then give them the Word of God when a part of it is most certainly not? How can we expect them to accept all the words contained in this Gospel as inspired by God when we don’t believe that ourselves? Nix the can: How dare we? (The we there would be translators and publishers, not necessarily everyone.)
I can think of a few reasons why someone might say the passage should stay in the text.
While I’d rather the passage disappear from the main body of the text, #4 above may be the most viable option in the meantime. I believe #2 would be great if someone could surmise and construct the genuine story and supply the support for why the Pericope most likely happened during the ministry of Jesus. I believe both can be done.
Philip Comfort, however, can’t seem to comfort me with his downtrodden, pessimistic conclusion.
Having said all this, it is very disappointing to realize that most English readers of the NT will see none of the connections [between the text before Jo. vii.53 and after viii.11] because the pericope of the adulteress is still printed in the text between John 7:52 and 8:12. True, the passage has been bracketed, or marked off with single lines . . . or set in italics. But there it stands—an obstacle to reading the true narrative of John’s Gospel. Even worse, its presence in the text misrepresents the testimony of the earliest MSS, especially the papyri.7
In summary, I believe the story of the woman caught in adultery is most definitely not original to John’s Gospel. Whether the story actually happened or not is up for discussion and examination, and hopefully soon someone or some team can come up with a viable solution. Given that, I believe our modern translations from this point should omit the passage and insert a notation, just like other spurious passages, for example Jo. v.3-4 and (dare I say it) the ending of Mark. (Psst. I believe the shorter text, ending when the women run afraid from the tomb, is the real ending.) The inclusion of the passage in the main body of the text does more harm than good at the moment.
I recently went through the sermon series on Revelation by Shane Hipps, pastor at Trinity Mennonite Church. Well, minus the third sermon in the series that is. Apparently the praise and worship time was recorded and uploaded instead of the sermon on that day. So I’m still waiting to get my hands on that one.
Regardless1, I trucked through the series and was impressed by more than a few points and exhortations. What I’d like to do is a review of each sermon in the series, focusing on the key aspects and also pointing out some items that I think Shane Hipps came short on or that I wish he would have expanded on.
Overall, I think this was a strong review of Revelation from a non-traditional, and more Scripturally based, perspective than we find in the standard, traditional, dispensational view of this text.
Before I start, let me lay out my own underlying biases. If anything, I am a partial preterist. I take a historical angle when it comes to Revelation; not only Revelation, but also the various statements by Christ about his return. He said he would return before that generation died away, and…by golly…I believe him. But that particular issue will be for a different post. I see the text of Revelation as apocalyptic, giving the readers a glimpse of what was going on in the A.D. 60′s, and what was going to happen soon. Today I am not expecting the gorry details expounded on in the middle section of Revelation to happen in my lifetime nor in the future. They already happened, and none of it was literal even then.
That was my perspective going into my listening of the series. I’ve long been exhausted by what has become the traditional understanding of Revelation. I have heard of some having put together explanations of Revelation that show the text is truly nonviolent. I have heard of some having put together commentaries on Revelation that in fact present the text as relevant to today while staying Scriptural, not fanciful and downright heretical (that happens a lot in the traditional reading). Shane Hipps was supposed to be presenting a non-traditional exposition of the text, putting forth a nonviolent reading of the text, and showing how relevant the text is to us.
Had to experience it for myself. I’ll be figuring out the best way to give my review. Keep your eye out for something soon. I hope and pray we can all benefit from taking a good look at the text and history here.
1 Many people still like to use the pseudo-word irregardless. Please, folks: stop. It’s not a word. And it sounds terrible. That is all.
I don’t typically…or, ever…do these memes. But when I saw this one come around, I thought it was pretty cool, pretty challenging, and helpful to see what others give in their response.
There is one of those memes going around in which people volunteer a list of books that influenced their readings of the Bible. The rules say that works are not limited to Biblical studies literature, but can include religious works or works of literature. I guess there should be at least five, but I’m no master theologian.
This is tough to nail down, but here’s what I’ve come up with.
Brad Gregory, Salvation at Stake: Christian Martyrdom in Early Modern Europe (1999). This is an absolutely stunning and enthralling text. Not only in the top 3 necessary reads for any student of Christian martyrdom, but this is easily a must read for anyone learning about the Reformation. The reason this book is on this list is because this text gave me an introduction to the Anabaptists that literally changed my life. I was driven to take a look at the Scriptures from their perspective and within their context (persecution and martyrdom from all sides).
John Roth, Choosing Against War: A Christian View (2002). After already beginning down the road to more fully embracing the Anabaptist legacy, I borrowed this book from Borders. (No, I did not steal it. I worked there for about a year and a half, and employees could check out books for a couple of weeks.) Seeing the peace perspective in such a developed way caused me to experience the Scriptures in a very different way. I began to look at the New Testament, indeed the Good News within the New Testament, in a radical way.
Michael Holmes, Ed., The Apostolic Fathers (1998). While I now have the 2007 hardcover edition (thanks to an amazing brother in Christ across the pond), when I went through these texts and got to know more of their history, when I saw how these early century authors were using the letters of the Apostles and other New Testament writers, when I saw the practical importance of the New Testament texts, I saw the New Testament as real historic documents. I began to take the individual letters and gospels of the New Testament on their own terms, the same way I was reading and examining the letters and works of the Apostolic Fathers. I was reading through Mark and looking for what Mark had to say, and not look at Mark’s text through the eyes of Matthew or Luke or Paul. My Greek was developing really well at this time, so I was really getting into the individual styles and emphases of the authors. And taking this historic perspective on the New Testament has made me appreciate and embrace the text so much more.
Rhoades, Dewey, and Michie, Mark as Story: An Introduction to the Narrative of a Gospel (1999). Fairly self explanatory, don’t you think. This sort of pushed me onward in my historic view of the New Testament. Mark came to life, as did the other Gospel texts. Instead of seeing Mark and the other Gospels as a set, each text was a special work by their respective author, created with the intent to tell a story about Jesus from their special, privelaged, inspired perspective.
I would love to see your list of books, and especially the story behind it.