I have started a new blog devoted to the history of biblical interpretation, particularly in the modern period. The blog is called, “History of Interpretation,” and can be found by clicking that link, or at historyof interpretation.wordpress.com. I wanted to make our readers aware of the blog. It has been receiving quite a lot of web traffic, and my hope is to include guest posts from several scholars, a number of whom have already agreed to contribute posts. My hope is to start a conversation about the state of modern biblical studies, its history, and the relationship between theology and biblical interpretation. The intent is that posts will be scholarly, but accessible to non-specialists, so that interested parties might benefit from the conversation without having to be scholars themselves. So please check out the site if the topic interests you.
Here’s a blog of interest to keep an eye on: Theologian Mom, accessible by clinking on that link or at: http://theologianmom.com/. The blogger/author is a stay at home mother with a Ph.D. in Theology. She posts on her family life, on theology, theological and spiritual texts, theological and spiritual issues as they relate to current events and especially marriage and family life. As she writes at the top of her blog: “‘You will be a better mom because you are a theologian, and a better theologian because you are a mom.’ Is it true? In this blog, I explore the interplay and intersection of motherhood and theologianhood.” Enjoy.
A few days ago, I posted some quotes and reflections from C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. This will likely turn into a series, as I find more and more awesome Lewisian utterances! Consider the following:
What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’–could set up on their own as if they had created themselves–be their own masters–invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside G0d, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history–money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery–the long terrible story of man trying to find something other God that will make him happy.
This quote by itself could generate a post (if not more) alone. To be brief, let me point out one point that struck me. I think Lewis is suggesting that man will most mess up, when he attempts to be his own author. The self cannot self-construct itself. It may only be discovered in others, and in sum, in the Ultimate Other, namely God who is the Creator.We possess nothing: not ourselves, not the capability to invent or construct the self, and certainly not the power to invent entities of happiness or self-satisfaction. I propose that the most mature self is the emptiest, most kenotic, self. That’s when the “self” is, in fact, most itself: when it is in the hands of God at the service of others.
A few months ago, I finished reading Mere Christianity. The “book” is a series of talks that Lewis gave on a radio show. However–at least in the edition I have–he did add some points into the book-version so that it read a bit more like a book, and not a mere written speech. Additionally, it is important to take note of the time period: 1942-44 in England. All of this said, I do recommend the book to others. It is a brief look at the basic principles of Christianity, and is a text that is easy to work through. On a personal level, I think what I enjoyed the most from Mere Christianity were the noteworthy statements (i.e., quotes) to pull from Lewis. Without a doubt, C.S. Lewis is a brilliant scholar when it comes to language. I think that this “pseudo”-book (radio broadcast) proves that. In this post, I want to share and discuss some of Lewis’ statements that resonated with me. Lastly, this will be complete in a few posts: there is too much to show in just one!
As Christians we are called to “love our neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:28-31) Too often, however, as we become more and more engaged with our faith and the community where we worship, our neighbor tends to look more and more like us. As humans, our tendency is to hang out with those who share our passions, worldview, and goals for life. Our small group interactions are with Christians like ourselves and before we know it all our friends are Christians. We fill our time with activites that are faith based narrowing our network to those that agree with us and our worldview.
And the irony is that for those that take their faith seriously and that of their surrounding network they have a desire to live out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), but they have no immediate network to actively do so outside of “cold calling.” To be a Great Commission people, we need to expand our network of friends and associates beyond our Christian ones. To do so demands an intentional effort on our part to make friends beyond our inner circle. How do we do this? We do this by getting involved in activities (not sinful) that enable us to meet new people and expand our sphere of influence. In secular terms this is called “networking.” For the Christian, proper networking could have eternal significance.
My dear friend Taylor Marshall has recently published a fantastic new book entitled: The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity. This is a book for anyone interested in understanding Catholic teachings and practices more, and particularly their biblical and Jewish roots. The book is clear and accessible to a wide range of readers, and it is beautifully written. Its orientation is certainly popular, but the scholarship that went into producing this text is apparent in the text itself as well as in the endnotes which conclude each chapter. I would recommend this book to both Catholics and non-Catholics. It is a quick and enjoyable read (I had difficulty putting it down when I first began reading it—I’ve read it twice already and am looking forward to reading it a third time when I am able).
The Crucified Rabbi is available for only $14.95 from Amazon.com. Marshall’s book encompasses a wide-range of topics exploring their OT and Jewish roots: Jesus’ messiahship; Mary as Queen mother of the fulfilled Davidic kingdom (the Church); the papacy; Catholic view of baptism; the Mass and the Eucharist; Catholic priesthood; priestly vestments; cathedrals; parishes; monasticism; Catholic views on marriage; holy days and the liturgical calendar; Saints; and the afterlife. His book also includes a very helpful appendix which lists over 300 OT passages Marshall believes Jesus fulfilled in His NT life and mission. His bibliography includes both useful scholarly and popular works for further reading. This book is a must read.
I wanted to take a moment to alert our readers to what I consider to be the finest journal on the market dealing with Scripture and theology: Letter & Spirit . Letter & Spirit is a relatively new journal (first published in 2005) from the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, an organization with which I am affiliated, and which Dr. Scott Hahn founded and serves as President and also as the journal’s editor. Letter & Spirit is the only academic journal I have ever encountered that I read straight through, cover-to-cover, as soon as I get my hands on an issue. So why is it such an exciting and important journal?
First of all, it is filled with both highly original and old classic articles that are written from the heart of the Church. Its pages are filled with writings from some of the world’s finest theologians and Catholic biblical scholars as well as some of the most important up-and-coming Catholic scholars. The entire journal is devoted to Catholic biblical theology that is rooted in the Church’s Tradition and Liturgy. The articles are academic and scholarly, and thus some of them assume a readership that has familiarity with Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic (including, in at least one instance, Syriac). Most articles are accessible to non-specialists as well, and any educated lay person would benefit from reading most of the journals’ articles.