New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ. By Thomas R. Schreiner. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008. 992 pp. $50.00, Hardback. ISBN 978-0801026805.
The discipline of New Testament studies has seen a flurry of publications within the field of New Testament theology in recent years. This field was formally deemed as “too broad” considering the varying New Testament books, reasons for writing, and amount of material the biblical scholar must cover. Rather, works within the field of New Testament theology have flourished with author’s seeking to provide either a chronological, or canonical, or a thematic examination. Thomas R. Schreiner opts for the latter in order to prevent forming New Testament “theologies.”
In New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ Schreiner, professor of New Testament and biblical theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, advances the thesis that New Testament theology is “God-focused, Christ-centered, and Spirit-saturated” (23). Furthermore, he argues “for the centrality of God in Christ in the concrete and specific witnesses of the NT as it unfolds God’s saving work in history” (23). Simply put, he views the three-fold work of God and his promises as “already fulfilled but not yet consummated in Christ Jesus” (23). Thus, “the grounding theme of NT theology is magnifying God in Christ” (120). This is a theme that is repeated throughout his work (289, 865, 880) and is slightly modified when he remarks that God works out his saving plan in order that “he would be magnified in Christ, so that his name would be honored” (14).
To accomplish this immense task, Schreiner divides his work into four main parts. In part one, Schreiner formulates his thesis by emphasizing the portions of Scripture which attest to the already-not yet schema of fulfillment. The Synoptic Gospels are concerned with the discussion of the kingdom of God which is “God’s saving power, the fulfillment of his saving promises” (79) and that it was essentially “inaugurated…but not yet consummated” (79). Outside of the Synoptics and John’s theology, Schreiner argues that God has begun his saving promises in Christ, but “believers still await the completion of what God has promised” (116). The realized awaits the consummation and return of Christ for the fulfillment of the promises of God in order to be fully realized. Continue reading
Paul Hoskins, Associate Professor of New Testament at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, has provided a helpful tool for students of New Testament Greek. Master Greek is a website devoted to helping students with their parsing.
It is interesting that many first year Greek grammars do not stress parsing in their homework exercises. They just ask the student to translate Greek sentences into English. Sooner or later, diligent Greek students figure out that they cannot produce an accurate translation without knowing how to parse the Greek words.
Now, without practice, your parsing skills get rusty and perhaps you grow to rely on Bible software to do all of your parsing. This is really unfortunate, because you become tethered to your Bible software and cannot really read the Greek text with any level of fluency. Many possible insights from the Greek text will become lost to your view this way.
This really is a helpful website for testing your parsing ability, but the best part is how easy it is to navigate. Hoskins wrote a helpful abstract on how to use Master Greek. Continue reading
Quarles, Charles L. A Theology of Matthew: Jesus Revealed as Deliverer, King, and Incarnate Creator. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2013. 240 pp. $14.48
The Explorations in Biblical Theology series is written “for college seniors, seminarians, pastors, and thoughtful lay readers” (ix) who do not have a robust knowledge of Greek, Hebrew, or advanced theological training. Charles L. Quarles’ contribution to the series maintains this desire. A Theology of Matthew: Jesus Revealed as Deliverer, King, and Incarnate Creator brings a refreshing and accessible look at the Gospel of Matthew. As the title suggests, this is accomplished by addressing three significant theological claims that Matthew makes concerning Jesus.
After a brief look at Matthean authorship (5–9) and interpretative measures for understanding Matthew’s message (21–30), Quarles begins his discussion on Matthew’s presentation of Jesus as the New Moses. There is a plethora of comparison between the two, from similar infancy narratives (35–37) to their transfigurations (42–43), and the comparisons are too similar to overlook. Indeed, Quarles argues that for Matthew’s original readers, Moses was not simply a lawgiver but rather a “savior, a redeemer, and a deliverer” (47). This is primarily viewed through the inauguration of the new covenant (51–60, esp 53–54), which finds its fulfillment in Christ through his language in the Lord’s Supper and ultimately his death upon the cross. Continue reading
The political atmosphere in America has been in full swing for over a year now with the potential presidential candidates making a sprint through the primaries with the hope of obtaining the coveted title of “Nominee.” Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the two primary candidates in this race and, despite the numerous third party candidates, one of the two will find their place behind the Resolute Desk come January 20.
I was reminded, yet again, how our political ideologies can become our political idols today as I clicked on a news link “guaranteed” to anger me. I watched as the video portrayed the failure of the Bush administration to uncover any WMD’s in their invasion of Iran and the apparent lying made by many in high level positions.
Now there are many possible reasons why the “lying” occurred, and I am in no way defending those in error. It could simply have been a misstatement or a general forgetfulness made by the respondent, or it could have well been lying. The fact that the video shows many months, if not years, between the initial statement could suggest the former, but the human temptation to cover our mistake rather than correcting can also suggest the latter.
Yet it only took me a few scrolls through my Facebook feed to find, you guessed it, an article of the Obama administration/Clinton campaign/Trump campaign caught lying over an extended period of time. Continue reading
Dear New Seminary Student,
Welcome to the world of biblical scholarship. I believe you are in for an exciting journey in your life where you will be stretched to read, write, argue, and think on perhaps a new level. If you will, allow me to encourage you on how to view your time in seminary. I have also written about what I learned from my time earning an M.Div, and you can find that article here.
First, enjoy the time you spend at school. There were students I had classes with who would lament and bemoan the fact they are in seminary because they were “ready to do ministry.” What they missed is the fact that they are doing ministry as they sit in the class. Not only does seminary serve as a time of preparation for your life in ministry, it is also a ministry in itself. We are learning, studying, reading, and praying. We are giving ourselves to the ministry of learning. To separate vocational ministry from academic ministry is something I would encourage you to avoid. Even when you are on your third research paper of the semester, enjoy the process because it will be over quickly.
The Christian Post reported this morning the news that Trinity Broadcasting Network’s (TBN) co-founder Jan Crouch passed away this morning after suffering a massive stroke.
For those unaware, Crouch established TBN with her late husband Paul Crouch in 1973 and it quickly became one of the leading “Christian” television networks. Let the reader understand: TBN espouses the heretical doctrine of Word of Faith theology, most commonly known as the Prosperity Gospel, or the Health and Wealth Gospel. TBN has lead the way in spreading this false gospel across the globe, and the Crouch family has allowed these false teachers to pontificate this message in order to acquire a vast wealthand solidify their kingdom upon this earth.
It was a peculiar feeling I had when I read of Crouch’s illness yesterday and her passing this morning. When her husband died a few years ago I had the same feeling. Part of me desires to celebrate because she is no longer able to spread a false gospel message, although her empire still exists. We are told both not to rejoice over the death of the wicked since God does not (Ezek 33:11; cf. Pros 24:17–18) but there also seems to be time when one should rejoice (Prov 11:10; cf. Rev 18:20), although perhaps this is more linked with wicked rulers who oppress those who dwell in their Kingdom. Continue reading
On a recent episode of “Word Matters,” a podcast by Brandon Smith and Trevin Wax, the discussion was focused on the temptation scene in Mark’s Gospel. In comparison to the other Synoptic Gospels, the brevity of Mark’s temptation scene is almost breathtaking, especially when one considers both Matthew and Luke stretch their versions to include the dialogue between Jesus and Satan and are nearly five times longer. What Mark might lack in detail, he provides a seemingly obscure reference to wild animals being with Jesus in the wilderness.
I listened closely to what both Smith and Wax had to say about this verse because I am currently preaching through Mark on Sunday mornings and I had trouble determining what I thought was correct. There have been various interpretations to this, and Smith helpfully provides more of the popular ones. I was encouraged to hear Smith voice my understanding of this reference, especially when the commentaries I was able to reference suggested otherwise. I believe the reason Mark included the “wild animals” in his temptation scene was to point to a renewed creation in which the Christ would inaugurate at the end of the days.
I think it is important to remember that 1:1–15 comprises the first overall section of Mark’s Gospel. The description of John the Baptist baptizing people and the baptism of Jesus are meant to be compared to one another. John baptizes with water, the one after him will baptize with fire (v 8). The people from Judea and Jerusalem are coming to Mark to be baptized (5), Jesus comes for baptism as the perfect son of God who is obedient to his father (9). Continue reading
On Sunday nights I am preaching through Revelation, and it has been a tremendously rewarding experience thus far. I hope to preach the entire book, but it will take perhaps more than a year (or longer) to do so. For all I know, we might not make it past chapter five simply because I still struggle with exactly how to handle preaching those chapters in light of my eschatological system. At any rate, time will tell.
In chapter one John is told to write to the seven churches which are in Asia (1:11), and this comprises chapters 2–3. When John turns to see the voice that spoke to him he sees one like a son of man standing in the midst of the seven golden lampstands (1:12–13). After the Lord comforts him and tells him not to fear, he is told to write all that he sees (1:19). The Lord then explains the mystery of the seven starts and the lampstands. He says the seven stars are the seven angels of the seven churches (οἱ ἑπτὰ ἀστέρες ἄγγελοι τῶν ἑπτὰ ἐκκλησιῶν εἰσιν), which are the recipients of the letters in 2–3.
However, the question is over the exact identity of the ἄγγελοι for, as any Greek 1 student can tell you, ἄγγελος can mean either “angel” or “messenger.” Typically context provides the key to interpretation, but not so much here. When the ἄγγελος are the recipients of the letter in 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14 there is no further clarification provided. It seems that most translations take the route of “angel” (ESV, NASB, HCSB, KJV, NIV, ASV), but some choose “messenger” (ISV, Aramaic Bible in Plain English, GWT, Weymouth NT, Young’s Literal). Continue reading
In my Advanced Hermeneutics seminar last October I found myself researching Friedrich Schleiermacher, the father of modern hermeneutics. I researched his early years, Kantian influence, and the hermeneutical circle that he, and subsequently others, used frequently. His impression upon the discipline of biblical hermeneutics is far-reaching and is even seen behind the veils of interpretative methods today.
Schleiermacher was born on November 21, 1768 in Breslau, Prussia where his father served as a chaplain of the Reformed Church to a regiment in Silesia. A very bright individual who was the product of a Moravian Brethren upbringing, he desired to receive a broader education than he was receiving at the time. At fourteen he began to doubt aspects of the Scripture. As a student at a boarding school in Pless there arose within him a strange skepticism towards the genuineness of the ancient authors of the Bible and they, as a result, began to seem disjointed and unreal to the young scholar.
After his promotion to Barby in 1785 to study philosophy his doubting eventually lead him to turn to liberal Protestantism to acquire the answers he desired. He wrote to his father that he could no longer believe the Son of Man was the true eternal God, his death a vicarious atonement, and an eternal punishment for those who could not attain faith in Jesus. After receiving permission from his father, Schleiermacher transferred to the University of Halle where he immersed himself in Kant, Greek philosophy, and the famous writers of the early church to the period of the Reformation. After he passed his theological exams in 1796 he spent six years preaching at a hospital in Berlin and two years as the court preacher at Stople. Eventually he traveled back to Halle and accepted a position as professor of theology at the University of Halle, only to leave and return to Berlin to preach at Trinity Church and lecture at the University. Continue reading
For the pastor who, at most, preaches three times each week, the temptation is simply to coast week in and week out with little thought given to other theological issues outside of his sermon. After all, there are people to visit, meetings with the staff, and landmines that erupt on a moment’s notice that requires the pastor’s attention. Plus there are weeks when sermon preparation is all he can muster simply due from the demands of the week.
This temptation forces the pastor to serve as nothing more than a delivery man to his congregation. Sure he gets the passage diagrammed, commentaries read, sermon outline finished, and the manuscript typed, but the ideas are others and his sermon, rather than shaped by the text, has been shaped by commentaries. The pastor has not properly formulated any original idea but rather is the middle-man between the congregation and the “theologians.” Hiestand and Wilson noticed this trend and write that many,
don’t expect pastors to be theologians, certainly not scholars, at least not of a professional variety. Intellectually speaking, we expect pastors to function, at best, as intellectual middle management, passive conveyors of insights from theologians to laity. A little quote from Augustine here, a brief allusion to Bonhoeffer there. That’s all.
This is, sadly, the case. Most congregations expect the pastor to be primarily a counselor or serve as a business man who has ideas to increase attendance and giving. I don’t think, as Hiestand and Wilson comment later on, this is necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. After all, the pastor’s responsibility is to communicate the Word of God in effective ways to his congregation through words. We must simplify theological issues so that others may understand. But if this is all the pastor in doing, I believe he suffers. Continue reading